- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006

ARKANSAS

Public library hires collection agency

FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayetteville Public Library has hired a collection agency to run down overdue books and unpaid fines.

The library expects that about 600 cardholders — 1 percent of its patrons — will have their names turned over. Cardholders who lost materials or owe at least $25 will hear from the collection agency.

CALIFORNIA

Light quake shakes northeast area

TRUCKEE — A light earthquake struck yesterday morning in northeastern California, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The magnitude 4.0 quake hit at 3:38 a.m. about 14 miles west of Truckee on the California-Nevada border, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

FLORIDA

Crews battle fire that closed highway

TITUSVILLE — Fire crews worked yesterday to control a 1,000-acre brush fire that led to the closing overnight of Interstate 95.

The highway was reopened early yesterday in Brevard County and Memorial Day weekend traffic moved smoothly, but firefighters were concerned about the weather.

“We’re still trying to gain the upper hand on it before the wind kicks in,” Brevard County Fire Rescue spokesman Orlando Dominguez said.

The fire started Sunday afternoon and likely was caused by lightning, said Dennis Neterer, Brevard County Fire Rescue assistant chief.

No damage or injuries were reported, but several residents voluntarily evacuated their homes to escape the smoke in east-central Florida.

KENTUCKY

1 person killed after skydivers collide

BARDSTOWN — Two skydivers collided about 200 feet above the ground and their parachutes deflated, causing the divers to plummet, authorities said. One later died.

John Kevin Benningfield, 33, was pronounced dead at Flaget Memorial Hospital, Nelson County Coroner Joseph Greenwell said Sunday.

The other skydiver, Chris Snellen, was flown by helicopter to University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, where he was in fair condition yesterday, hospital officials said. Mr. Snellen, an instructor at the Greene County Sport Parachute Center, broke his leg, the center’s owners said.

Because the skydivers were so close to the ground, there was no time for the parachutes to reinflate and bring the men down safely after the collision Saturday, said Kenn Heismann, one of the center’s owners. A tree braced Mr. Snellen’s fall, he said.

In another accident on Saturday, a first-time skydiver slipped from her harness during a jump near Sterling, Ohio, and fell to her death, authorities said. Ellen Ann McWilliams, 44, of West Chester, Pa., was participating in a tandem jump.

MINNESOTA

Father hides drugs in son’s backpack

ST. PAUL — When a teacher asked a 6-year-old boy to pull a folder out of his Scooby-Doo backpack, a bag filled with 25 smaller bags of marijuana fell out instead, according to a court document.

The teacher gave the drugs to a school administrator, who called police. Before officers arrived at HOPE (Hmong Open Partnerships in Education) Community Academy, the boy’s father showed up. He took the backpack from his son and quickly walked away, according to a criminal complaint.

The father was arrested later and told investigators that he hid the marijuana in the backpack and left it in a bedroom closet. When he discovered the backpack was missing, he ran to his son’s nearby school.

Corey Randle, 29, was charged Thursday with a fifth-degree drug-sale charge.

MISSOURI

Graphic artist indicted in forgery scheme

ST. LOUIS — A graphic artist and a repair-shop operator have been indicted in a scheme that authorities say was to provide as many as 4,000 fake emission-test certificates to motorists who needed them to register their vehicles.

Earnest E. Carter, 53, and Donald L. Allen Sr., 46, were arrested Friday and released on their own recognizance after appearing before a federal magistrate judge.

They were expected to be arraigned today on conspiracy charges involving a federal program.

The air quality in the St. Louis region does not meet federal standards for ground-level ozone. The federal Clean Air Act requires the emissions test.

Mr. Carter, a graphic artist, printed the certificates on his home computer, said Terry Ball, environmental investigation manager for the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the emissions program.

The certificates were then distributed to several “patrons,” including Mr. Allen, who runs a repair shop, Mr. Ball said. The fake certificates sold for $100 each — a bargain considering the often greater expense of repairing emissions systems.

NEBRASKA

Custom ukulele sells for $11,211

OMAHA — A custom ukulele autographed by billionaire investor Warren Buffett has sold for $11,211 on EBay.

The soprano ukulele is one of two designed to resemble a Dairy Queen ice-cream cone. The one that wasn’t auctioned off will become part of Mr. Buffett’s collection.

Mr. Buffett, who plays the ukulele in his free time, will donate all the proceeds from the online auction to Children’s Hospital in Omaha.

The bidding started May 15 at $1,000 and ended Friday.

International Dairy Queen is one of the more than 60 companies owned by Mr. Buffett’s investment vehicle, Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway.

Dairy Queen plans to donate proceeds from every Blizzard sold on Aug. 10 to the Children’s Miracle Network. Omaha’s Children’s Hospital is part of that network.

NEW YORK

Pilot, passenger escape copter crash

MELVILLE — Two persons escaped with minor injuries after a helicopter crashed into the Long Island Sound, flipping the aircraft and snapping off its tail, police said.

A 45-year-old pilot and a 15-year-old passenger were flying west of out the Mattituck Inlet on Sunday when they heard a loud noise and the aircraft plunged into the water, said Sgt. Henry Santacroce of Southold Town Police.

The helicopter initially landed upright, then flipped when its blades touched the water, Mr. Santacroce said.

The pilot and passenger freed themselves and were pulled from the water by a boater. They were treated by rescuers for minor injuries and refused further treatment, police said.

TEXAS

Students charged with spiking muffins

DALLAS — Two students have been charged with giving a high school’s employees marijuana-spiked muffins in a senior prank that sent 18 persons to the hospital and triggered an FBI and terrorism investigation.

“I had no idea of the scope of my actions,” Ian Walker, 18, said Friday, a day after he and friend Joseph Tellini, 18, surrendered to police.

They could receive 10 years in prison or more if convicted of felony charges.

Mr. Walker is accused of delivering adulterated bran muffins to the teachers lounge of Mr. Tellini’s suburban school May 16 and claiming they were part of an Eagle Scout project. When Lake Highlands High School employees ate the muffins, they began complaining of nausea, lightheadedness and headaches. Most of those sickened were treated quickly and released, but Rita Greenfield, an 86-year-old receptionist, spent two days in the hospital.

The FBI investigated because the case involved a contamination of the food supply at a school. A joint terrorism task force found that terrorism was not involved but determined that the muffins contained marijuana and turned up a surveillance video of the delivery.

Mr. Walker, an honors student at a nearby Catholic school, and Mr. Tellini were each charged with five felony counts of assault on a public servant.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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