- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

COLORADO

Mouse found in bag of chips

MONUMENT — A dead mouse that an eighth-grader found in a bag of potato chips probably chewed its way in after the snack was delivered to the school, a company spokeswoman said Monday.

A student at Lewis-Palmer Middle School found the mouse last Wednesday after buying the chips in the lunch line. School officials said at the time that his claim appeared credible.

The bag and the mouse were sent to Frito-Lay headquarters in Plano, Texas, where employees found a “chew hole” in the bag, company spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said.

An independent pathologist concluded that the mouse had been dead one to three days before the student found it, Miss Gonzalez said. The bag had been delivered to the school six days earlier, she said.

The district temporarily pulled all chips from its vending machines and lunch lines but will offer Frito-Lay products again April 2, the first day after spring break.

FLORIDA

Truck avoids crash but hits children

SUN CITY CENTER — A pickup truck driver who swerved to avoid another vehicle ran over three children near a disabled car along Interstate 75, killing two of them, authorities said.

The children were traveling with friends and relatives when car trouble forced them to the side of the highway, slowing traffic Sunday evening, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Coggins.

The truck driver couldn’t slow down fast enough for the traffic ahead of him, went off the road and hit the disabled car, then ran over the three children, Mr. Coggins said. No one else was hurt.

The highway patrol was investigating, but Trooper Coggins said no alcohol or drugs were involved.

LOUISIANA

Governor refuses re-election bid

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, whose popularity plummeted after two hurricanes devastated Louisiana during her term, announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election.

Mrs. Blanco has been burdened by the sluggish pace of recovery and by pressure within the Democratic Party, but she said she wanted to push through important initiatives without having to worry about political considerations.

“I am doing this so we can work without interference from election-year politics,” she said in a televised appearance from the Governor’s Mansion last night.

She already had broken the news in phone calls to legislative leaders, a meeting with her Cabinet secretaries and in a letter to her staff.

Mrs. Blanco had drawn a half-dozen challengers for this fall’s election, including Rep. Bobby Jindal. She defeated the Republican in 2003 with 52 percent of the vote to become Louisiana’s first female governor.

Former Sen. John B. Breaux, a popular Democrat who said he wouldn’t enter the race if Mrs. Blanco was a candidate, has said he will decide soon whether he will make a bid for the job.

MASSACHUSETTS

Couple get probation for ‘educational’ sex

BOSTON — A Rhode Island woman who routinely had sex with her boyfriend in front of her 9-year-old daughter to teach her about sex was sentenced to three years’ probation, authorities said yesterday.

Rebecca Arnold, 37, and David Prata, 33, who received the same sentence this week, told investigators that they thought the practice would help the child learn, prosecutors said.

The pair told investigators that they allowed the girl to watch their sexual romps but did not compel her to do so.

Rhode Island Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah Jr. allowed the couple from the city of Woonsocket to plead guilty and accept probation instead of jail time because he wanted to spare the girl the pain of a trial, local press said.

The girl told her father while visiting him in Massachusetts, and he reported the incident to authorities, said Mike Healey, spokesman for state Attorney General Patrick Lynch.

MISSISSIPPI

State Senate rejects grocery-tax cut

JACKSON — The Mississippi Senate yesterday defeated an attempt to cut the state’s 7 percent grocery tax in half and boost the cigarette tax.

Gov. Haley Barbour opposes the plan. The Republican says the time is not right to reduce the grocery tax because Mississippi still faces too much economic uncertainty in its recovery from Hurricane Katrina. On the cigarette portion, he says, he opposes raising anybody’s taxes.

At issue yesterday was a resolution that would have allowed the filing of a bill to cut the grocery tax and raise the cigarette tax to $1 a pack from 18 cents, the third-lowest in the nation. The Senate voted 31-20, three votes short of the 34 needed.

Mississippi residents pay the nation’s highest taxes on groceries, yet rank among the lowest-paid households in the nation.

MONTANA

Couple adopt 5 great-grandchildren

KALISPELL — A couple in their 70s have adopted the woman’s five great-grandchildren: four girls and a boy, ages 3 to 8.

“At my age, I’m on my knees to God every day asking, ‘Please give me the energy for another day,’ ” said Virginia Crawford, 71.

She and her husband, Charlie, 76, adopted the children last week.

Child-welfare officials told Mrs. Crawford that the children were neglected and that they would be placed in a foster home. She offered to take them instead.

The Crawfords, married for 27 years, took foster-parent classes. Mrs. Crawford has identified relatives who will take over raising the children if she dies, but she expects to see the job through.

NEW JERSEY

Ex-principal charged in field-trip scam

TRENTON — A former Camden elementary school principal and his top aide were indicted Monday on charges that they tricked parents and students in the nation’s poorest city into paying for outings that were financed by the school district, then kept the thousands of dollars they collected.

They also were indicted along with another former elementary school principal and her schoolteacher daughter in a suspected scheme to overbill the district for leadership meetings that authorities say never occurred.

Authorities say the ex-principal of H.B. Wilson Elementary School, Michael Hailey, 65, and the top staffer, administrator Patricia Johnson, 57, pocketed more than $14,000 — collected in increments as small as $5 — to fund trips to such destinations as the Philadelphia Zoo, Storybook Land and an American Indian reservation.

OHIO

Bush, Clinton win award for disaster aid

CINCINNATI — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will honor former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton for their work in disaster relief, a spokesman said yesterday.

The former presidents traveled together and appeared in television commercials to help raise money for tsunami aid in Southeast Asia and for hurricane relief in Southern U.S. cities. For their efforts, they will be presented with International Freedom Conductor awards in June, spokesman Paul Bernish said.

Previous winners include Rosa Parks in 1998 and Bishop Desmond Tutu in 2000.

OREGON

Blind mechanic hires deaf student

COTTAGE GROVE — Larry Woody shares his automotive know-how twice a week with his apprentice, though he has never seen the young man nor spoken directly with him. Mr. Woody is blind. His apprentice is deaf.

“So much of it is done by feel anyway,” he told the Eugene Register-Guard. “I use my hands to see what I’m doing now.”

Mr. Woody lost his sight five years ago when a truck blew across the median on Interstate 5 and drove over his Toyota Celica. With more than 30 years of fixing, racing and restoring cars, Mr. Woody vowed to return to work. With help from his wife, Della, and the Oregon Commission for the Blind, he achieved that goal less than a year after the accident.

The 46-year-old mechanic recently bought his own shop, D & D Foreign Automotive, and hired Otto Shima, 17, an apprentice from Cottage Grove High School.

Interpreter J.J. Johansson accompanies Mr. Shima, who was born deaf, on his twice-weekly visits to the shop to translate between the men.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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