- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006


Fires blamed on juveniles

LEHIGH ACRES — A pair of 10-year-old boys were charged yesterday with setting weekend brush fires that have destroyed or damaged more than two dozen homes and burned more than 1,500 acres in southwest Florida, authorities said.

Both were arrested and charged as juveniles with intentional and reckless burning of land, a third-degree felony, said Lee County Sheriff’s Lt. Robert Forrest. Authorities were seeking a third juvenile.

Firefighters had the major blaze 75 percent contained yesterday morning, but they worried that wind and rising temperatures could stoke hot spots, said Gerry LaCavera, a state wildfire specialist. Four smaller fires were contained Saturday. Nobody is known to have been injured in the fires.


Medal fakers outnumber recipients

CHATTANOOGA — A proliferation of phony heroes is prompting such groups as the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to lobby for tougher laws to punish the impostors.

The organization reports that there are 113 living recipients of the nation’s highest military award, but Tom Cottone, an FBI agent who tracks the fakes, said impostors outnumber the true heroes.

Anyone convicted of fraudulently wearing the Medal of Honor faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine, but no such penalty exists for other medals. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and other veterans groups are looking to change that. Rep. John Salazar, Colorado Democrat, is sponsoring the Stolen Valor Act to penalize distributors of any phony medal and those who pretend to have won the military medals.

World War II Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge, 84, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., was cheated out of his medal when someone offered to help recondition it and gave him back a fake version of the award. Mr. Cottone tracked down Mr. Coolidge’s real Medal of Honor from a man who was selling and trading medals in Ohio.


Adopted pets must be spayed under law

MONTGOMERY — A new state law requires that pets adopted from animal shelters and humane societies be spayed or neutered.

The measure, signed by Gov. Bob Riley, includes the threat of a misdemeanor violation if adopters fail to have a pet sterilized within 30 days of taking it home. Fines range from $50 to $200.


Tribes pay record in state taxes

TUCSON — Tribes that operate casinos paid a record $22.4 million to the state in the first quarter of 2006.

Indian gaming is surging in Arizona, with new casinos and expansions on tap on several reservations across the state, including a $120 million hotel-casino complex next to Tucson International Airport that broke ground two weeks ago.


State challenges bottle redemption fee

DES MOINES — The Department of Natural Resources is telling businesses to stop charging a fee to some customers when they return containers for recycling.

Iowans are supposed to get 5 cents back on each can or bottle. But some redemption centers charge a penny fee to customers who don’t sort the containers themselves by distributor. The centers say the fee helps them stay open.


Eagle triplets pose for Web camera

PORTLAND — Bald eagle triplets whose nest is perched 70 feet up a white pine in coastal Hancock County are attracting admirers.

A live Web cam at www.briloon.org is providing viewers with a new still shot of the scene every 30 seconds. Visitors to the site surged to 20,000 a day when the chicks first hatched during the week of April 10.


Homeowner fined for killing trees

STATELINE — A Silicon Valley business executive agreed to pay a $50,000 fine for poisoning trees to enhance the view from his Lake Tahoe home.

John Fitzhenry apologized to local officials for the incident. Inspectors discovered last summer that Mr. Fitzhenry poisoned three, 40-foot Jeffrey pines on his $2.4 million property along Tahoe’s north shore.


62-year-old woman fights porn bill

YONKERS — A 62-year-old retired schoolteacher is fighting with a cable company over a hefty bill for porn and gangsta rap programming she says she never ordered.

The charges of more than $1,000 appeared on Claudia Lee’s February Cablevision bill, shortly after she bundled her cable TV, computer and phone services.

She said she has been forced to pay $779 to the company and was told to pay $652 more or face having her services cut off.

Cablevision spokesman Bill Powers said she may not have ordered the pay-per-view programming, but someone in her home did. Miss Lee says someone pirated her connection. Mr. Powers said the company did not find theft of service.


1792 half dime sells for $1.3 million

COLUMBUS — It cost a lot more than a nickel to buy this half dime.

A 1792 half dime, thought to be one of the first coins minted by the United States, was sold at auction for more than $1.3 million Thursday night at the Central States Numismatic Society convention, officials said.

The winning bidder was a private collector who wants to remain anonymous, said James Halperin, co-chairman of Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, which was selling the coin.


Man drives van into police barracks

KITTANNING — A man intentionally drove a delivery van loaded with potato chips through the lobby of a state police barracks, authorities said.

Police said they’ve dealt with Roy Thomas Chaivarlis before, and Mr. Chaivarlis said he hated state police. Mr. Chaivarlis did not say why he drove into the brick building early Thursday, Lt. Thomas Dubovi said.

No one was injured, although the crash heavily damaged the building’s exterior and lobby.

Mr. Chaivarlis, 31, of Yatesboro, was charged with aggravated assault, risking a catastrophe, driving under the influence and related offenses. He was being held in the Armstrong County jail.


Garbage haulers consider strikes

SEATTLE — A union representing 600 Seattle-area garbage-truck drivers rejected two proposed contracts, raising the threat of a strike.

Officials at Teamsters Local 174 planned to meet yesterday to discuss whether they would return to the bargaining table or strike. Garbage service for about 2 million households and thousands of businesses in King and Snohomish counties is at stake.

The union rejected four-year contract proposals Saturday from Allied Waste Industries Inc. and Waste Management Inc. Major sticking points were health care and overtime.

The two tentative contracts, reached by negotiators April 15, were very similar, said the local’s secretary-treasurer, Dan Scott. He declined to release the vote tallies.

Waste Management spokeswoman Lynn Brown said the Houston-based company has a contingency plan to continue service, but called speculation of a strike premature. The company had not met with union leaders since the vote, she said.


Arson suspected in deadly fire

RICE LAKE — A man was suspected of setting an apartment fire that killed two persons after a family dispute early Saturday, police said.

The suspect was severely burned along with another man and woman, who were found outside the one-story, eight-unit building when firefighters arrived, said Rice Lake Police Chief John Sommerfeld. The two who died were found inside.

Neighbors told police they heard an argument in the apartment sometime before the fire started after 5 a.m., he said.

Accelerants were thought to be involved because of the fire’s intensity, how quickly it spread and statements from witnesses, Mr. Sommerfeld said.

Investigators said they didn’t know many details because the three injured were taken to area hospitals, and Mr. Sommerfeld didn’t know their conditions. Their names were not released.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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