- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

CALIFORNIA

WWII hero dies; escaped POW camp

SAN FRANCISCO — Lee “Shorty” Gordon, thought to be the first American prisoner of war to escape from a German camp during World War II, has died. He was 84.

Mr. Gordon died Tuesday of complications from recent stomach and kidney surgery at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Menlo Park, according to his daughter, Cherie Gordon.

Mr. Gordon, who made two failed escape attempts from Stalag VIIA, succeeded Oct. 13, 1943.

The Southern California native was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 that was shot down over Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on Feb. 26, 1943. He was captured after parachuting from the U.S. bomber.

After his successful escape, Mr. Gordon rode freight trains to France, where he made contact with a Resistance group that helped him reunite with the Allied forces.

He told the story of walking into a French cafe in a 2000 History Channel documentary: “The waitress walked up to me. I looked at her, and I said, ‘I’m an American.’ ”

On Feb. 27, 1944, Mr. Gordon arrived safely in England and became the first American prisoner to successfully escape.

GEORGIA

Fire erupts in forest at center of suit

SAVANNAH — A wildfire near S—tatesboro spread through about 250 acres of wetland forest that is at the center of a lawsuit by environmentalists trying to halt logging of cypress and other trees by the landowners.

Firefighters said yesterdaythat the blaze had been contained to the dry bed of Cypress Lake three days after it started Monday, the day the suit was filed in U.S. District Court.

The cause of the wildfire remained under investigation, but there was no evidence yesterday of any connection between the fire and the lawsuit, said Alan Dozier, forest protection chief for the Georgia Forestry Commission, the agency in charge of fighting the blaze.

Because of the thick trees and swampy ground, firefighters had been unable to get equipment into the lake bed to fight the flames on land. Instead, they were using a helicopter to dump water on the blaze.

LOUISIANA

Donations, volunteers help hurricane-hit park

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans City Park was once a lush Southern landscape of lazy lagoons, majestic ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss, and magnolias framing the fairways of three golf courses.

That was before Hurricane Katrina swamped nearly all of it with up to 8 feet of water. Most of the grass in New Orleans’ biggest park died, as did more than a thousand trees. The golf courses were left covered with weeds, the lagoons choked with debris.

But the 1,300-acre park, about one-third larger than New York’s Central Park, is slowly coming back, with the help of volunteers, private donations from around the world and a major gift from New Orleans Saints star Reggie Bush.

Almost 15 months after the hurricane, a few attractions have reopened, including the botanical garden, the golf driving range, tennis courts, softball fields and Storyland, populated by colorful life-size characters from Mother Goose and fairy tales. Also, Tad Gormley Stadium, used primarily for high-school football games, has been repaired, in large part because of an $86,000 gift from Bush.

NEVADA

Ski resorts prepare for holiday weekend

RENO — Lake Tahoe ski resort operators are cranking snowmaking machines into full gear as they prepare to open ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Boreal Mountain Resort on Tuesday became the first to open for the season, while Heavenly, Squaw Valley USA and Alpine Meadows plan to open tomorrow. All also are taking advantage of snow that fell during the weekend.

NEW YORK

Science story wins book award

NEW YORK — Richard Powers’ “The Echo Maker,” a scientific tale of memory and identity in the age of September 11 and the Iraq war, won the National Book Award for fiction last night, honoring a widely respected author with a small but passionate readership.

Timothy Egan’s Dust Bowl work, “The Worst Hard Time,” won for nonfiction; Nathaniel Mackey’s musical and mystical “Splay Anthem” took the poetry prize; and M.T. Anderson’s “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. I,” a multiformatted epic in 18th-century prose, was cited for young people’s literature.

PENNSYLVANIA

Charges dismissed in gay ‘marriage’ case

PITTSBURGH — Charges were dismissed yesterday against a Presbyterian minister accused of breaking church law by performing a “marriage” ceremony for two women after church officials determined the charges were filed too late.

The Permanent Judicial Commission of the Pittsburgh Presbytery voted 8-0 to dismiss the charges against the Rev. Janet Edwards because they were filed several days after a filing deadline. Miss Edwards, a parish associate at the Community of Reconciliation Church in Pittsburgh, had been accused of violating the church’s position on marriage by presiding at the June 2005 “wedding.”

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) reserves marriage for a man and a woman, although ministers may bless other types of “holy unions.”

“This dismissal constitutes neither a vindication of the accused nor any finding with respect to the subject,” according to a statement from the commission read by Kears Pollock, the group’s vice moderator.

TENNESSEE

Mayor reinstated after speed-trap flap

SPRINGFIELD — A small-town mayor suspended since July amid charges of targeting Hispanics and soldiers in a speed-trap scheme and using his office to retaliate against political enemies was reinstated yesterday.

Robertson County Chancellor Laurence McMillan ruled for Coopertown Mayor Danny Crosby in an ouster lawsuit filed by the district attorney that claimed official misconduct. The same judge suspended Mr. Crosby in July, citing the mayor’s threatening behavior toward political opponents in the Nashville bedroom community.

Mr. Crosby smiled and hugged his supporters after the judge ruled that the state didn’t prove Mr. Crosby was guilty of misconduct.

Elected mayor by 14 votes in 2004, Mr. Crosby began an ambitious agenda to expand the town’s traffic enforcement. But prosecutors contended that his decision to reduce speed limits and ramp up traffic enforcement was little more than a ploy to raise cash for the town of about 3,200 residents.

TEXAS

Lost Girl of Sudan becomes U.S. citizen

HOUSTON — Even amid household tumult, Martha Dawud Thiew appears serene and happy.

One of the few Lost Girls of Sudan, she survived a perilous journey from a small village in Africa to an apartment in Houston. Yesterday, she became a U.S. citizen.

The event symbolized the progress of the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, a group of 3,800 refugees who spent years in camps before being resettled in the United States. Most were children when they were orphaned and left homeless by civil war. Three Lost Boys also were among the 2,453 persons who became citizens at yesterday’s ceremony.

WISCONSIN

3 hurt in explosion at fireworks factory

WALES — An explosion and fire gutted part of a fireworks factory yesterday, injuring three persons, authorities said.

The three were taken to hospitals with burns after the explosion at the Bartolotta Fireworks Co. plant about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. Their connections to the factory were not disclosed.

ProHealth Care spokeswoman Sandra Peterson said two of the men were at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, one in serious condition and the other in good condition. The condition of the third injured person wasn’t known.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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