- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ALABAMA

Ferry closed by racism reopens

CAMDEN — Forty-four years after it was closed by white politicians amid protests by blacks seeking to vote, the Gee’s Bend Ferry reopened yesterday when 89-year-old quilter Ollie Pettway broke a bottle of champagne over the boat’s railing.

“I’m mighty happy,” she declared after riding the ferry from her isolated Gee’s Bend community across the Alabama River to a landing just outside Camden, the county seat.

The ferry was reopened in a ceremony that featured speeches by local, state and national dignitaries, including Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican.

CALIFORNIA

Fanned by wind, wildfire doubles in size

OJAI — Firefighters battling a stubborn, two-week-old wildfire that scorched more than 116 square miles of wilderness along the Los Angeles-Ventura County line were counting on help from shifting winds yesterday.

The largest of three Southern California blazes doubled in size when it was fanned by gusty winds over the weekend. But a cool, moist ocean breeze Sunday night slowed the fire and put communities out of immediate danger. Authorities had advised precautionary evacuations over the weekend.

The most recent forecast called for northwest winds of 15 mph to 20 mph with a shift to cooler onshore breezes.

The fire has burned 74,052 acres since Labor Day; it is 15 percent contained.

KENTUCKY

Laziness kept mailman from his deliveries

ASHLAND — It was neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night that kept Charles Fred Miller from his appointed rounds.

Miller, a one-time mail carrier in the eastern Kentucky city of Grayson, said it was simply laziness.

The 32-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge related to undelivered mail. He told U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning that he stuffed more than 500 items of undelivered mail into garbage bags in a storage shed behind his house.

Sentencing was set for Dec. 4.

MISSOURI

Sketch released in baby’s abduction

UNION — Police released a sketch yesterday of a woman they think stole a baby after slashing the mother’s throat. They hope to generate new clues in the four-day-old case.

Stephenie Ochsenbine, 21, helped police artists with the composite drawing of the woman who she said attacked her at her home on Friday and snatched her baby, Abigale Lynn Woods, now 10 days old.

The drawing shows a white woman with dark hair wearing a baseball cap. Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said the woman is thought to be between 5-foot-4 and 5-foot-8 and weigh about 200 pounds.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Parents charged with kidnapping teen

SALEM — A Maine couple upset that their 19-year-old daughter was pregnant tied her up, loaded her in their car and began driving to New York to force her to get an abortion, police said.

The daughter, Katelyn Kampf, escaped Friday at a shopping center and called police, who arrested her parents, Nicholas, 54, and Lola Kampf, 53, of North Yarmouth, Maine. They were jailed on a kidnapping charge and were being held on $100,000 bail each.

The parents were scheduled to be arraigned in Salem District Court. A call to attorney Mark Sisti was not returned.

NEW JERSEY

Courthouse cleared in Legionnaires’ scare

TRENTON — A courthouse reopened yesterday after weekend tests found no signs of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The Mercer County courthouse was closed Thursday after employee Carol Green tested positive for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said more than 25 test samples taken from the building over three days showed no sign of Legionella bacteria.

Don MacNeill, a spokesman for Capital Health System, said Miss Green was in serious condition yesterday afternoon.

PENNSYLVANIA

Warnings ignored in pier collapse

PHILADELPHIA — Two businessmen were told that the pier holding up a nightclub would collapse within hours but ignored the warnings, a decision that ultimately led to the deaths of three women, a prosecutor said yesterday as their trial began.

Pier 34 owner Michael Asbell and Heat nightclub operator Eli Karetny are being tried on charges of risking a catastrophe and conspiracy. They ignored years of warnings about the pier, which collapsed and sent dozens of nightclub customers into the Delaware River on May 18, 2000, prosecutor Jude Conroy told jurors in his opening statement.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Rescued girl ‘doing great,’ mom says

CAMDEN — A 14-year-old girl missing for more than a week before summoning help by sending a text message from the underground bunker where she was being held captive is now resting and recovering from her ordeal, her mother said yesterday.

The girl was rescued over the weekend after she sent her mother a message on her captor’s phone while he was asleep, Kershaw County investigators said.

“She’s doing great. She’s a very strong girl,” her mother told the CBS “Early Show.”

TENNESSEE

Appeals court stops electrocution plans

NASHVILLE — Convicted murderer Daryl Keith Holton, who confessed to the assault-rifle slayings of his three young sons and their half-sister, was granted a stay of execution yesterday from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Holton also resumed appealing his death sentence, stopping plans for Tennessee’s first electric chair execution in 46 years.

Kelly Gleason, a post-conviction defender working with Holton, confirmed the stay and also acknowledged that she typed and sent a handwritten petition from Holton to the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that his execution be stopped.

Holton, who turned himself in within hours of the 1997 slayings, was scheduled to be executed today.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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