Nation briefs 11/25/02

Monday, November 25, 2002

Icy conditions in Rockies cause highway crashes

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Icy conditions caused dozens of accidents on the highways in the Rocky Mountain foothills Sunday, injuring at least five people and causing authorities to temporarily close a 90-mile stretch of Interstate 80.

At least 110 accidents, including some rollovers, were reported from midnight Saturday to Sunday morning, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said. No fatalities were reported.

One crash involved 12 semi-trucks and six cars. The ice was left behind by the remnants of a major storm that dumped at least a foot of snow in the central and western mountains overnight.

The injured were taken to area hospitals. Four people had to be extricated from their vehicles, said Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Stephen Townsend.

Authorities closed the eastbound lanes from Sinclair to Laramie by late morning, and reopened them in the afternoon. Traffic had to be escorted to Laramie on U.S. 30 in groups of 100 vehicles, Townsend said.

Graceland will continue support of Elvis festivals

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Elvis impersonators can continue swiveling their hips and quivering their lips, after Graceland reversed its earlier decision to sever its support of festivals featuring clones of the King.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the multi-million-dollar Presley estate, decided in October to no longer associate with festivals using Elvis impersonators.

But the estate gave back its backing after receiving about 30 letters from festival organizers and fans who were all shook up.

"From reading these, we said, 'Let's forget about the hassles. This is something, frankly, we need to support,'" said Jack Soden, chief executive officer of EPE.

Most Elvis impersonators do "heartfelt" tributes to Elvis, said Soden. "But we've all seen pictures of people who just should not have gone outdoors in outfits like that."

Historic Omaha building damaged in implosion

OMAHA, Neb. -- One of four historic buildings slated for preservation near the site of a new performing arts center was severely damaged Sunday when a neighboring food plant was imploded.

Debris from the razing of the Pinnacle food plant smashed through the roof and caused the west wall to cave in at the Frankie Pane building in downtown Omaha.

Officials with Dore & Associates Contracting, the contractor for the $90 million arts center project, had no comment.

Omaha City Attorney Paul Kratz said insurance companies and the city would investigate the implosion. It will take time before it's learned what went wrong, he said.

The buildings to be preserved near the center are Pane's, the Christian Specht building, the Happy Hollow Coffee building and the T.H. Smith Co./Marshall Paper Co. building. They date from the 1880s to 1916.

President Bush's daughters turn 21 today

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's twin daughters, who have had brushes with the law for underage drinking, turn 21 today, marking their birthday in Texas and looking to stay clear of the spotlight.

Both Barbara Bush, who attends Yale University, and Jenna, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, were in their home state in advance of a Thanksgiving family celebration. The president and first lady planned to celebrate the twins' birthdays during the holiday weekend, a White House official said.

Laura Bush was returning to Texas on Monday and heading to the family ranch in Crawford on Tuesday. The president is to follow on Wednesday.

The White House is fiercely protective of the twins' privacy, and several officials refused to provide details about the birthday observances.

Barbara and Jenna Bush have drawn unwelcome headlines over the past few years for alcohol-related episodes.

In May 2001, police in Austin cited both of them for violating state alcoholic beverage laws.

Police accused Barbara Bush of being a minor in possession of alcohol and Jenna Bush of misrepresenting her age for allegedly trying to use false identification to buy alcohol.

-- From wire reports

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