Historic ship short on funds and time

The SS United States is sending out what may be its final distress call. The 990-foot-long ship could be sold for scrap within two months unless the grass-roots preservation group that’s working to secure a home and purpose for it can raise $500,000 immediately, the group told The Associated Press. Talks are under way with developers and investors about the ship’s long-term future, but without the emergency funding, its caretakers fear they will run out of money before a deal is inked. The historic ocean liner carried princes and presidents across the Atlantic in the 1950s and 1960s but has spent decades awaiting a savior at its berth on the Philadelphia waterfront. “We’ve made progress on the fundraising side and the redevelopment side,” said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s Philadelphia-born designer, William Francis Gibbs. Continue Reading

Connecticut priest plans to plead guilty to drug charge, court papers say

A suspended Roman Catholic priest accused of taking in more than $300,000 from sales of methamphetamines plans to plead guilty to one of the charges against him, according to a court filing Tuesday. Kevin Wallin is scheduled to appear in US District Court in Hartford next week for a hearing in which he would plead guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, according to the filing obtained by The Associated Press. A message left with his attorney wasn’t immediately returned. Authorities say the 61-year-old Wallin had meth mailed to him from co-conspirators in California and made more than $300,000 in drugs sales out of his Waterbury apartment in the second half of last year. He also bought a small adult video and sex toy shop in the nearby town of North Haven named Land of Oz & Dorothy’s Place, authorities said. Continue Reading

Outhouses pit Amish against Ohio county health department

Over the pleas of the local Amish community, a northwest Ohio health board decided to go ahead with plans to condemn two newly constructed Amish homes because they don’t have required septic systems for their outhouses. More than 100 Amish turned out Tuesday night to ask the Kenton-Hardin County Board of Health to reconsider the condemnation order, which requires that the homes be brought into compliance or the families move out. Last summer, the health board said it would start enforcing rules that any new home must have a proper well and septic system — something the simple-living, outhouse-using Amish have never had to do. Health inspectors have not forced existing Amish homes to change. Around 200 Amish families live in Hardin County. Continue Reading

Idaho boy detained after list, weapons found

Authorities have detained an Idaho junior high school student who compiled a list of students and police officers they believe he was planning to kill. Rigby Police Chief Keith Hammon says the boy’s parents called police Monday when they found the list on an electronic tablet. The Post Register reports (http://bit.ly/XbTcRB ) officers found a bag of weapons at the boy’s home, including multiple knives, handguns and ammunitions. Hammon says bullying at the boy’s school, Rigby Junior High, was a factor. The parents of the students on the list have been notified, and the police officers on the list were not identified. Continue Reading

Family remembers slain Colo. pizza delivery driver

A memorial service is being held for a Colorado pizza delivery driver who authorities believe was shot to death by the man suspected of killing the state’s prisons chief. The service for 27-year-old Nathan Leon, a married father of three, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Lafayette. The Commerce City man was reported missing after leaving to make a pizza delivery March 17. Police later found his body with gunshot wounds in Golden. Denver police say they’re confident the suspect in Leon’s death is the same man who was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities last week. Continue Reading

Miss. sheriff: 3 found dead, each shot once

Authorities say the teenage girl and two adults found dead at a house in north Mississippi on Tuesday had each been shot once in the head. Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson says 55-year-old Wiley Young, 46-year-old Danica McCord and 13-year-old Destiny McCord appear to have died from the gunshot wounds, but autopsies are pending. Johnson stopped short of saying that one of the three killed the other two and then committed suicide. However, he says authorities don’t think “there is someone on the loose that is causing harm to people.” The sheriff said a .45 caliber pistol was found at the scene. Continue Reading

Alleged gunman holed up in home after firing shots in Wash. neighborhood

A Washington state man is holed up in his home after allegedly firing shots indiscriminately at residences while walking through a neighborhood, authorities say. Q13 Fox reports the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is urging residents to stay in their homes, saying they believe the gunman is armed with multiple weapons. “The gunman is not in custody and is moving through the neighborhood,” spokesman Ed Troyer told Q13 Fox.”This is a very dangerous situation for your staff, citizens in the area, and first responders.” Authorities say they believe the man in contained inside his own home, and is distraught. A SWAT team is responding to the incident. Continue Reading

2 bodies found at Florida golf course after players reported hearing gunshots

Authorities say golfers at a Florida course heard gunshots, and when they investigated, found the bodies of two women. Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. James McQuaig says the golfers found the bodies near Hilaman Park Golf Course in Tallahassee. He says the golfers heard two shots at about 5 p.m. Tuesday. The names of the victims have not been released, and McQuaig didn’t have their ages. McQuaid says the bodies were found in a grassy area between the golf course and an adjacent apartment complex. Continue Reading

Disabled man awarded $8,000 after being stuck on Disney's 'Small World' ride for hours

An attorney says a disabled man was awarded $8,000 by Disneyland after the “It’s A Small World” ride broke, stranding him for three hours while the theme song played continuously. Lawyer David Geffen says Jose Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, and staffers failed to call the fire department to free him. The ride’s familiar song couldn’t be turned off the entire three hours Martinez was stuck. Geffen says Martinez uses a wheelchair, suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure, and needed to urinate for much of the time he was stranded. Geffen says half the award ordered Friday is for pain and suffering, and the other half for disability law violations. Continue Reading

More than half of US rivers unable to sustain life, EPA says

More than half of the country’s rivers and streams are in poor biological health, unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures, according to a new nationwide survey released Tuesday. The Environmental Protection Agency sampled nearly 2,000 locations in 2008 and 2009 — from rivers as large as the Mississippi River to streams small enough for wading. The study found more than 55 percent of them in poor condition, 23 percent in fair shape, and 21 percent in good biological health. The most widespread problem was high levels of nutrient pollution, caused by phosphorus and nitrogen washing into rivers and streams from farms, cities, and sewers. High levels of phosphorus — a common ingredient in detergents and fertilizers — were found in 40 percent of rivers and streams. Another problem detected was development. Continue Reading