- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009


White House to be open house

Barack Obama plans to open the White House doors to the public on the first full day of his presidency Wednesday.

Obama aides Friday made plans to have an open house at his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The idea is to keep the Obama administration the “most open and accessible” in history by inviting hundreds of supporters inside and encouraging them to stay involved.

President Bill Clinton had a similar event after his 1993 inauguration, inviting some 2,000 citizens selected by lottery to a receiving line in the Diplomatic Reception Room on Jan. 21.

Tickets this year are limited. Interested residents can sign up on the Obama inauguration Web site, PIC2009.org.



Jet lands safely after emergency call

A passenger jet that had reported a possible nose gear problem touched down safely Friday at Baltimore’s airport.

Airtran Airways flight 149 returned to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport at about 12:07 p.m., airport spokeswoman Cheryl Stewart said.

The flight had been bound for Miami.

After the flight crew reported the possible problem, the plane conducted a low fly-by of the airport tower - allowing officials to visually inspect the nose gear, an airport spokesman said. The fly-by did not significantly disrupt airport operations, he said.

Airport fire-and-rescue teams responded to the airfield and waited for the jet to land.

BWI officials did not have information on the number of people aboard.


City predicts cold Obama visit

With freezing weather expected for President-elect Barack Obama’s visit Saturday afternoon, Baltimore officials were asking people to take precautions.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in War Memorial Plaza to hear Mr. Obama speak at 4:15 p.m. The plaza opens at 1 p.m. and is expected to fill up quickly, so those who attend are likely to be standing outside for several hours. The National Weather Service predicted a high of 23 degrees in downtown Baltimore.

City Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein recommended parents not bring children younger than 6, and said people older than 65 should seriously consider staying home. People who do attend should “dress extremely warmly” and add extra layers, he said. Spending long periods of time out in the cold can lead to hypothermia, which is potentially fatal.


Obama train views in Cecil, Harford

Before President-elect Barack Obama’s Whistlestop tour stops Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland residents can get a glimpse of his train as it passes through Cecil and Harford counties.

Cecil County Department of Emergency Services Chief Richard Brooks urged residents who want to wave at the train to wait at either the Elkton or Perryville train stations.

Mary Ann Lisanti, a member of the Harford County Committee to Elect Barack Obama, said the train would make a “rolling stop” in Edgewood. The train will slow to about 1 mph, she said.

Bridges and overpasses will be off limits to spectators.



High wave caused fatal boat mishap

A high wave caused an 18-foot boat to capsize after its engine stalled in an accident that killed two Arizona men on a fishing trip in the Chesapeake Bay, police said.

A preliminary investigation showed that the wave and high wind caused the boat to turn Wednesday morning while the six people on board tried to restart the engine, Virginia Beach police spokesman Adam Bernstein said. The driver made a distress call after the craft started filling with water.

Ned Rokey of Mesa, Ariz., and Allen Dedrick of Phoenix died in the accident. Three others were recovering at an area hospital and a fourth man was released.

The case remains under investigation.


Truck could be tied to 2002 slayings

The FBI is looking for a flatbed truck that may have been associated with the 2002 slayings of a Henry County family.

An unidentified man was seen in the vehicle along a highway near the victims’ home during the early morning of Aug. 15, 2002, the FBI said.

The bodies of Michael and Mary Short were found in their home later that day, and 9-year-old Jennifer was missing. Her body was found about six weeks later.

The FBI posted a sketch of a truck on its Richmond Web site. It is described as a 1998 to 2002 white, single-cab, 2-ton flatbed stake body truck with wooden rails.

The agency says it will post a composite sketch of the occupant next month.


Board gives millions for land conservation

The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation has awarded $4.3 million in grants to help preserve 8,390 acres across the state.

Gov. Tim Kaine announced the 16 grants Friday. The grants are part of Mr. Kaine’s “Renew Virginia” initiative to protect the environment and require a minimum 50 percent matching funds.

The largest grant, $800,000, was awarded to the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust to acquire 1,100 acres for the Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve.


Frigid weather closes schools, fills shelter

Some schools opened late or stayed closed and a Roanoke homeless shelter gave out coats, hats and gloves as temperatures dipped to single digits and below in western Virginia.

The lowest temperature recorded overnight was a minus 6 in Hot Springs in Bath County and Burkes Garden in Tazewell County, National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Sleighter said Friday.

The wind-chill factor pushed the readings to minus 20 in the mountains, he said.

Schools in the Lynchburg area were closed Friday, and those in the Martinsville area opened two hours late.

Lee Clark of the Roanoke Rescue Mission said the shelter has been filled to near capacity this week. Even the exercise mats used for sleeping on the floor are in short supply, he said.


Re-enactor indicted in accidental shooting

A Civil War re-enactor has been indicted on a misdemeanor charge in the shooting of a fellow re-enactor last year during the making of a documentary in rural southeastern Virginia.

The Confederate re-enactor is due in Suffolk next week to meet with investigators, Isle of Wight Sheriff C.W. “Charlie” Phelps said Friday. He declined to identify the man until he is formally charged.

A grand jury indicted the man on a charge of reckless handling of a firearm.

A retired New York City police officer portraying a Union soldier was shot in the shoulder on Sept. 27 during the making of a Civil War documentary. The injured re-enactor, Thomas Lord, recovered from his injury.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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