- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Gowns donated after news of theft

LOS ANGELES — Donations of wedding dresses have been pouring in to a charity that grants the dying wishes of women with breast cancer, just days after a trailer containing thousands of gowns worth an estimated $3 million was stolen from the group.

The 40-foot trailer containing 2,000 dresses and accessories disappeared from a hotel parking lot in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Sunday morning. It was en route to an auction in Los Angeles benefiting Making Memories, which resells donated wedding gowns to raise money.

Suzanne Appel, the charity’s L.A. coordinator, said the foundation has been inundated with calls offering donations.

The Brides Against Breast Cancer charity benefit in West Hollywood was to go off as planned this weekend.

GEORGIA

Cameras allowed at shooting trial

ATLANTA — Television and still cameras will be allowed to broadcast and photograph the trial of a man accused of killing four persons after escaping from courthouse custody, a judge ruled yesterday.

Citing the prejudicial impact it could have on Brian Nichols’ right to a fair trial, defense attorneys had asked the court to bar cameras from broadcasting the trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 11.

Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller said the court could adjust the order and attach conditions to commercial broadcast coverage if circumstances warrant that.

Mr. Nichols is charged in a 54-count indictment with murder, kidnapping, carjacking, escape and other offenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

ILLINOIS

Former city official sentenced in fraud

CHICAGO — A former city official was sentenced to almost four years in prison yesterday for racketeering conspiracy and tax fraud in a federal corruption investigation at City Hall.

Donald Tomczak, 71, the former deputy water commissioner, pleaded guilty last year and agreed to cooperate with the investigation into Chicago’s scandal-plagued Hired Truck Program.

The city program hired truckers for hauling work without soliciting bids. Tomczak was accused of giving hauling jobs and preferential treatment to trucking companies in return for payoffs.

Tomczak, who also was fined $15,000, apologized for his actions.

NORTH CAROLINA

Ministers christen broadcast center

CHARLOTTE — Big names in television evangelism gathered to break ground for a new broadcast center for the Charlotte-based Inspiration Networks, which is building a $98 million complex in South Carolina.

Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rodney Parsley of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and pioneer televangelist Rex Humbard were among the people who came Sunday to what will be a 93-acre campus in Lancaster County, S.C.

They condemned commercial television as evil.

David Cerullo, chief executive officer of Inspiration Networks, said, “Most secular television today has gone beyond the bounds of good entertainment and good information into what the Bible would describe as spiritual darkness.”

OREGON

Flooding forces highway closures

PORTLAND — Heavy rain and flooding, already blamed for three deaths in the Pacific Northwest, washed out a major highway near Mount Hood and forced the shutdown of 67 miles of the North Cascades Highway in Washington state yesterday.

The White River flowed over Oregon 35 on Mount Hood’s eastern flank Monday and Tuesday, cutting 20-foot-deep ruts through the road and sending boulders and trees rolling down the mountainside, said Bill Barnhart, an Oregon Department of Transportation manager. Reopening the highway near Mount Hood is estimated to cost $20 million.

Floodwater from swollen creeks and rivers damaged roads and destroyed campgrounds at Mount Rainier National Park, closing it for the first time since 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted. Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said it would be at least several weeks before the park reopens to visitors.

Washington authorities shut down the stretch of North Cascades Highway yesterday because of concerns about the stability of the ground under the roadbed.

PENNSYLVANIA

Dog returned to pre-Katrina owner

PHILADELPHIA — Rocket, a dog who survived Hurricane Katrina and ended up in a Pennsylvania home, is back with his owner in New Orleans after a custody fight that went to court.

The suburban Philadelphia couple who adopted the chow-Finnish spitz mix returned the dog to Sheila Combs, attorneys for both sides said Wednesday.

Miss Combs agreed to drop a lawsuit she filed last month against Lynne and Joseph Welsh and the kennels that handled the dog before the Welshes adopted him. The attorneys would not comment further on the settlement.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Professor displays $170,000 pen

CHARLESTON — A pocket protector would be pointless for this diamond-encrusted, $170,000 fountain pen that will never be used.

“You do not put ink in that pen. It’s like owning a Ferrari that you don’t want to drive,” said owner Al Parrish, a Charleston Southern University economics professor.

The pen, one of only three in the world, was on display at the Charleston Montblanc store along with others from Mr. Parish’s $1.2 million collection. They arrived in an armored car accompanied by security guards.

WASHINGTON

Classes canceled for race symposium

SPOKANE — Students who wore blackface to an off-campus party sparked such an outcry on campus that officials at Whitman College canceled classes yesterday so students and faculty could attend a diversity symposium.

Ruth Wardwell, Whitman’s director of public relations, said students wore blackface to mimic the cast of “Survivor: Cook Islands,” which divided the teams by ethnic origin at the start of the CBS reality show’s current season.

After pictures of the students’ costumes were posted on online social networking sites, the stunt touched off a fiery debate about race on an all-campus e-mail list. That prompted faculty members to vote to cancel classes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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