- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007


Festivities start Iditarod race

ANCHORAGE — Sled-dog teams trotted through the chilly streets of Anchorage on Saturday in a festive atmosphere marking the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

To ease the passage for the 82 mushers and their dogs, city officials covered the streets of Alaska’s biggest city with snow for the 10-mile run. Relaxed mushers signed autographs, posed for pictures and socialized with one another and the fans who lined the streets. The timed competition in the 1,100-mile race was scheduled to start yesterday 80 miles north in Willow.

“Today we can party. Tomorrow we get serious,” said Gaynell Holt, wife of musher Jeff Holt of North Pole, Alaska, who grilled hot dogs and hamburgers near the starting line on Saturday.

In contrast to past years, this year’s field has many accomplished racers with a good chance of being first to the finish line in Nome, competitors said. This year’s field includes six past champions and several consistent top-five finishers.


State defends safety of bus crash site

ATLANTA — Georgia transportation officials said yesterday that they had no immediate plans to close or add safety signs to the highway exit ramp where a bus carrying a college baseball team crashed and killed six persons, including the driver.

The state Department of Transportation wants to see recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) before adding any new safety devices such as signs or stoplights to the Interstate 75 ramp, said spokesman David Spear.

The team from the Mennonite-affiliated Bluffton University in Ohio was traveling to its annual spring training in Florida when the charter bus crashed before daybreak Friday. Investigators said the driver apparently mistook an exit ramp for a regular lane, and the bus crashed into a barrier at a T-shaped intersection and plummeted off the overpass onto the highway below.

Kitty Higgins, who is leading the NTSB investigation, said Saturday that there have been several crashes at the spot, and that no signs were visible to tell drivers to slow down for the ramp.


Teen survey finds job dangers, violations

CHICAGO — The first national study to interview teenagers about on-the-job dangers found many violations of federal laws, including sizable numbers performing risky tasks or working too late on school nights.

Many teens said they operated hazardous equipment, received no safety training and worked alone after dark, making them potential targets for burglary and homicide.

“Teenagers are being put in the position of doing tasks that are either illegal or dangerous,” said lead author Carol Runyan of the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center.

The findings, appearing in the March issue of Pediatrics, are based on a 2003 telephone survey of 866 teenagers working in the retail and service industry including restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores. The same researchers found similar violations of work rules in a previous survey of North Carolina teens working in construction.


‘I love you’ leads cockatoo back home

SHREVEPORT — Two years after he was stolen, a talking cockatoo is back home with his owner. It was “I love you, Corey” that brought him back.

Corey and four small dogs, a Yorkshire terrier and three Maltese, that also belonged to dog breeder Diane Bagley all were stolen from her yard in June 2005.

Miss Bagley was talking about Corey to a visitor who recalled hearing a cockatoo say Corey’s catchphrase at a mobile-home park in Shreveport. Miss Bagley called the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office and told Detective Kay Ward what she had learned.

“[Detective] Ward wasn’t sure she had the correct address until she approached a home in the mobile-home park and heard a bird inside squawking, ‘I love you, Corey,’ ” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick wrote. The woman who lived in the trailer told Detective Ward that another woman had given the bird to her last year.

“Corey was returned to Miss Bagley on Wednesday in a tearful reunion,” and the investigation continues for the dogs, Miss Chadwick said.


Husband arrested in grisly slaying

MOUNT CLEMENS — A man suspected of killing and dismembering his wife was captured yesterday as he fled from searchers through the snow in a wooded area of northern Michigan, police said.

Stephen Grant had been the subject of a manhunt since police discovered last week what they thought to be the torso and other body parts of his wife, Tara Lynn Grant, in and around the couple’s house in a Detroit suburb.

Mr. Grant was arrested in Bliss Township in northern Michigan, about 225 miles from his home, after an air and ground search by local, state and federal agencies, according to the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said he was not dressed for the weather, with overnight temperatures in the area in the teens and 20s, and he did not struggle.

Mr. Grant was being treated for hypothermia and suspected frostbite at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, and was in stable condition, said Dr. John Bednar.


Girl steps forward to stop car crash

CHARLOTTE — Emily Lineberger missed her gymnastics class last week, but thanks to the 11-year-old’s heroics, she and her mother survived what could have been a disastrous car wreck.

Emily was riding in the back seat of the family car Tuesday when her mother, Dayna Lineberger, 40, started feeling lightheaded. Ulcerative colitis sometimes caused Mrs. Lineberger to feel faint, so she headed to a nearby restaurant to get food.

Mrs. Lineberger’s head rolled back and she passed out, Emily said, and “I just screamed like crazy.”

Emily leaned forward and grabbed the wheel. Her mother’s foot was still on the gas pedal, but Emily steered to avoid a car before their car hit a telephone pole and stopped.

Doctors later said Mrs. Lineberger was dehydrated from the colitis.


Inmates’ food thrown together

BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County’s jail warden got tired of inmates throwing food despite repeated warnings, so he fought back.

Warden David Riley recently started feeding misbehaving inmates a food loaf, made up of all the offerings at mealtime mixed together and formed into a loaf.

“We microwave the food loaf before it is served,” Mr. Riley said. “It’s really not that bad.”

Five days after offering the concoction, Mr. Riley said, all food throwing stopped at his jail.

“I had one inmate tell me, ‘Well warden, you broke me,’ ” Mr. Riley said. “It has had the desired effect.”


Burglars return loot from church

HUNTINGTON — Burglars who stole thousands of dollars of equipment from the Guyandotte United Methodist Church apparently had a change of heart, breaking in the following night to return what they stole.

Thieves jimmied the church’s door locks Monday night and stole about $5,000 worth of sound and office equipment, church treasurer Rocky Frazier said. They broke back the next night and returned everything.

“They taketh, and the Lord giveth back,” Mr. Frazier said Friday. “It’s like there’s a higher power at work.”

Whatever the reason, they had a change of heart, said the Rev. Julia Bolling. The only thing the thieves didn’t return was about $22 in change, Mr. Frazier said.

Even though the equipment was returned and no real damage was done, Huntington Police Lt. Rocky Johnson said the investigation remains open.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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