- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006


Bus vandalism gives students day off

WATERBURY — Vandals damaged nearly half of the buses used to bring about 18,000 students to public schools.

Officials closed city schools yesterday because vandals sprayed fire extinguishers, spray-painted graffiti, smashed first-aid kits, damaged fuse boxes and broke antennas on 49 buses.

A worker for the bus company discovered the damage Sunday night, police Lt. Chris Corbett said.

The buses were being repaired and were expected to be ready for classes to resume today, said Paul Guidone, chief operating officer for Waterbury schools.

No arrests had been made, but authorities thought juveniles might have been involved because Halloween was approaching.


City plagued by millions of bats

AMERICUS — So many bats have infested the city’s historic district that the sky turns black with each sunset.

The problem is even too big for Batman, the local bat remover. George Perkins often makes public appearances in the caped crusader’s costume and drives a Batmobile — a retro-styled Chrysler Prowler with bat emblems.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has proposed a long-term solution that includes surveying the bat population, training city workers to remove bats from homes and constructing bat houses in safe areas.

Millions of bats — the leading cause of human rabies in the United States — have moved into the attics of Antebellum and Greek Revival mansions built in the 1800s and Victorian homes from the early 1900s in Americus’ historic district covering about a third of the city’s 10 square miles.

Residents can’t kill the bats because they are protected under Georgia law.


Council member dresses as chicken

BLOOMINGTON — Steve Volan drew guffaws and cackles when he walked into a City Council meeting dressed in a yellow chicken costume.

The councilman’s outfit led to a string of jokes before the serious business of debating chicken-keeping within city limits.

During the discussion Wednesday, 21 audience members spoke in favor of allowing residents to raise egg-laying chickens and four spoke against the ordinance. Mr. Volan joined the 5-1 council majority in voting to recommend the ordinance for final approval.

The word “chicken” was uttered more than 200 times and council member David Sabbagh jokingly asked whether three unrelated birds would be allowed to co-roost — a reference to a city ordinance restricting the number of unrelated adults allowed in single-family homes.


Charity auction set for bison hunt

BOZEMAN — A guided, all-day hunt for a bison on Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch near here will be auctioned to raise money for the Montana Special Olympics.

The online auction Monday through Nov. 10 features more than 800 goods and services. They include a dinner hosted by Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican, or his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester. Which man hosts the meal depends on which one wins the election next Tuesday.


Police chase closes airport

COLUMBUS — An airport used primarily for cargo flights was closed for about 90 minutes early yesterday while police pursued a man who crashed his car through a fence after a high-speed chase.

No flights were affected at Rickenbacker International Airport because no takeoffs or landings were scheduled at the time, said Angie Tabor, spokeswoman for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. The airport also has a charter passenger terminal.

Police began chasing the suspect in Ashville after a traffic offense, the village’s police department said. The pursuit reached speeds topping 100 mph before the man crashed through a fence near the airport’s rear gate and then fled, the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Department said. He was captured in a nearby cornfield, authorities said. They would not release his name or discuss the traffic offense.


Myrtle Beach takes look at streetcars

MYRTLE BEACH — After years of talking about futuristic monorails to shuttle tourists, city planners are considering the old-school approach of laying tracks and developing a streetcar system.

About 14 million tourists a year visit the beach town. Most arrive by car, causing congestion when they take their vehicles shopping, to the beach or to other attractions. City planner Jack Walker says a trolley system could alleviate some congestion.

He envisions a streetcar running parallel to Ocean Boulevard along the beach and then spurs linking the line with convention center and the Broadway at the Beach shopping district.

The city planning department is undertaking a $30,000 study, and will get advice from a company that has consulted on similar projects.

City planners say it’s time to consider such a system with redevelopment planned for the old oceanfront Pavilion and the nearby Myrtle Square Mall.


Charges filed in library blast

SALT LAKE CITY — Authorities have arrested a man in connection with an explosion that damaged the city’s main library last month after finding his fingerprints on remnants of a rocket igniter.

Thomas James Zajac is charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device, according to court documents unsealed yesterday. He was arrested Friday in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., and remained in custody yesterday, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

The Sept. 15 explosion blew a hole in a third-floor window and damaged a chair. No one was injured, but 400 people were evacuated from the library.

Zajac has lived in Salt Lake City and Provo. His fingerprints were on file because of arrests in Ohio and Illinois, said Michael Minichino, a federal firearms agent.

Authorities said a rocket igniter of the type sold in hobby shops was used to detonate a pipe bomb.


Coal miner killed by shuttle car

PINEVILLE — One coal miner was killed and a second was seriously injured yesterday in what has become the deadliest year in the nation’s mines in more than a decade.

The men were preparing to work on a mine shuttle car at about 7 a.m. when the vehicle moved unexpectedly and struck them, said Caryn Gresham, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

The injured man suffered shoulder and chest injuries and was taken to a hospital in Charleston, where his condition was not known.

The cause of the accident, at Bluestone Coal’s Double Bonus No. 65 Mine on Pinnacle Creek in southern West Virginia, was not determined. State and federal inspectors were sent to the mine.

The fatality brings West Virginia’s mining-related death toll this year to 22, including the 12 men killed in the Sago Mine accident on Jan. 2. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said 43 miners have been killed this year across the nation. That is the industry’s highest since 1995, when 47 miners were killed, according to MSHA.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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