- - Sunday, August 1, 2010


Rare Batman comics on auction block

FAIRBANKS | A longtime Alaska comic book buff is selling one of the gems in his vast collection, a rare copy of Batman No. 1 published 70 years ago.

Mike Wheat of Fairbanks has put the 1940 comic book on the auction block through Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, where it’s expected to fetch more than $40,000. Online bids already have climbed to $35,000 for the book, thought to be one of fewer than 300 still in existence.

Online bids will compete with a live auction set for Thursday. The second and fourth Batman issues also will be part of Thursday’s auction. They are expected to bring more than $5,000 combined.

Mr. Wheat, a city wastewater-treatment plant operator, says he considers the Batman comics an investment and that it now feels like the right time to sell.


Two killers still free in triple escape

PHOENIX | The search continued Sunday for two convicted murderers who escaped from a private prison in northwest Arizona, while a third escaped convict was back behind bars after an early-morning shootout with police in western Colorado.

Early Sunday, a police officer spotted Daniel Renwick, 36, in a brown sport utility vehicle in Rifle, Colo., about 670 miles from the medium-security Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley, said Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.

The officer pursued Renwick, gunshots were exchanged, and the convict was eventually taken into custody without anyone being injured, Mr. Ryan said.

Renwick had been serving a 22-year sentence for second-degree murder when he and the other two inmates escaped Friday evening by cutting a hole in the prison’s perimeter fence.

Police said the two men who remain at large — Tracy Province, 42, and John McCluskey, 45 — were both serving murder sentences and should be considered dangerous. They are thought to be traveling with a woman suspected of helping in the escape, 44-year-old Casslyn Mae Welch.


Robber complains about small haul

ATLANTA | Police say a gunman who robbed a fast-food restaurant was so angry about the amount of loot that he called back twice to complain.

The man walked up to the drive-through window of an Atlanta Wendy’s late Saturday night, wearing a ski mask and holding a gun. He demanded the cash drawer, grabbed it and ran away.

But police say he later called the fast-food restaurant to complain about the amount of cash. Police say in one call he said that “next time there better be more than $586.” He called again with a similar complaint.


Oil-spill river getting better

LANSING | A regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency says there has been “significant improvement” at the site of an oil spill in a southern Michigan river.

But the agency cautions that it will take months to complete the cleanup. Regional administrator Susan Hedman said Sunday during a media briefing that cleanup efforts continue to increase along the affected stretch of the Kalamazoo River.

The oil flow was stopped and contained in a 25-mile stretch of the river from Marshall westward past Battle Creek. Officials with the pipeline-owning company Enbridge Inc. say they detected the leak July 26. The EPA estimates the spill at more than 1 million gallons of crude, while the Canadian company estimates the total at 820,000 gallons.


Cubs in fatal attack faced starvation

BILLINGS | Three grizzly-bear cubs whose mother killed one person and mauled two others in a late-night attack at a Montana campground were malnourished and still in their winter coats.

ZooMontana executive director Jackie Worstell said Sunday the two females and one male were underweight, possibly explaining their mother’s unusually aggressive behavior. The year-old cubs each weighed only between 60 and 70 pounds, versus a normal range of 80 to 130 pounds.

“It may be an indication of what happened,” Ms. Worstell said. “There’s obvious signs of stress and malnourishment. Maybe [the mother bear] was desperate.”

Kevin Kammer, 48, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was killed and two people seriously injured when the adult bear ripped into several tents Wednesday at the Soda Creek Campground.

The 300- to 400-pound mother bear was euthanized Friday. Wildlife officials say the cubs likely participated in the attack, and so cannot be released into the wild. Grizzlies are omnivores and eat everything from berries and ants to fish and elk, but they rarely attack humans unless they feel threatened or are starving.


Giant hailstone breaks U.S. records

VIVIAN | The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a giant hailstone that fell in central South Dakota has broken U.S. records, even though the man who found it said it melted somewhat while waiting to be evaluated.

NOAA’s National Climate Extremes Committee said the hailstone found in the town of Vivian on July 23 measures 8 inches in diameter and weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces. The committee said the South Dakota ice chunk breaks records set by hailstones discovered in Nebraska and Kansas.

Ranch hand Leslie Scott said the hailstone was about 3 inches larger when he found it. He said he put it in the freezer but that he couldn’t prevent some melting because of an hours-long power outage after the storm.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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