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News,Science and Technology

EDITORS, MANAGING EDITORS, WEEKEND EDITORS:

The Associated Press recommends the following stories of Southern interest for use over the weekend of Jan. 12-14

For repeats of AP copy, please call the Service Desk at 800-838-4616. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com.

ALABAMA

For Saturday use:

HOMELESS-RANCH

DOTHAN, Ala. — The massive room looks like an old Army barracks with bed s lined up and down the length of the room. A single lamp with no shade illuminates a small tabletop Christmas tree. It's not much, but right now it's all the residents of Sonrise Ranch have. There are currently 12 men living on the ranch, doing odd jobs and cleaning up the grounds and facilities, trying to work their way out of whatever crisis put them there in the first place. By Peggy Ussery. The Dothan Eagle.

For Sunday use:

BIG MACHINE-COAL

BROOKWOOD, Ala. — The scale of the thing is such that, when you see it in person, your mind at first refuses to believe what your eyes insist is true. It looks less like a machine than a monster movie robot, towering out of place above the Tuscaloosa County woods as it trudges eastward toward Jefferson County. Its path is nearly as wide as a football field, and it packs the ground behind it into a dense, red clay crust. It carries behind it a single claw -- a 78-cubic-yard bucket big enough to park a truck in, which it uses to tear down mountains and pull tons of coal at a time from the ground. Its arm, a 300-plus foot boom, is so tall that, on a wet December morning, the top disappears into the low-hanging clouds. The beast is a dragline crane, a breed of machine among the largest mechanical marvels in the world. This one even has a name. They call it Mr. Tom. And it's moving. By Kyle Whitmire. al.com.

For Monday use:

UA-MUSEUM VOLUNTEER

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was the perfect fit, combining her love of social science and museum work with her education background. Allie Sorlie could not imagine a more perfect placement. The 26-year-old Niceville, Fla., resident began her year as an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer at the University of Alabama's Museum of Natural History in August. As the museum's first AmeriCorps volunteer, Sorlie has added a "whole new layer of what we've been able to do," said Amanda Espy-Brown, the museum's education and outreach coordinator. "Our mission is to be a resource for the community, but a lot of people don't know that," she said. By Kim Eaton. The Tuscaloosa News.

JELLYFISH-POPULATION

MOBILE, Ala. — After a decade or so of somewhat breathless warnings of a jellyfish apocalypse unfolding in the world's oceans, new research by an international coalition of scientists suggests that the global jellyfish population may be about the same size it always was. Rob Condon with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab was the lead researcher on a scientific paper published this week by the Global Jellyfish Group, "Recurrent jellyfish blooms are a consequence of global oscillations." The 30 researchers in the group study all manner of gelatinous creatures, including close jellyfish relatives such as salps and comb jellies. By Ben Raines. al.com

FLORIDA

For Saturday use:

PIONEERING AIR MARSHAL

MELBOURNE, Fla. — When Colleen Callahan considered career paths in the mid-1970s, she heard a lot of people say "you can't." She wanted to be an astronaut, or go to the U.S. Naval Academy. By Stacey Barchenger, Florida Today.

For Sunday use:

HELPING SAILORS' FAMILIES

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Karen Smith was seven-months pregnant in July and walking the aisles of the wholesale store Costco when she received the call. By Topher Sanders, The Florida Times-Union.

For Monday use:

PRISON TOASTMASTERS

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. — Steady applause from men dressed in blue-grey prison uniforms preceded Steven Petrarca as he stood planted behind the chapel lectern at Wakulla Correctional Institution. By Tamaryn Waters, Tallahassee Democrat.

GEORGIA

For Saturday use:

LIFELONG BONDS

MARIETTA, Ga. — A group of women, all originally from Marietta, credit their decades-long friendship to Girl Scout Troop 46. Dora Embry Partain, Bonnie Ayers Goldthorpe, Beverly George Painter, Diane Gillespie Eubanks, Dorothy "Dot" Sosebee Blum, Judy Clay Brown, Sandra Glass Rackley, Glenda Castleberry Cook, Barbara Ayers Fischer and Sherrill Linville Stanford all met at Robert L. Osborne School when they were about 6 years old. By Lindsay Field, The Marietta Daily Journal.

For Sunday use:

ENDANGERED FISH

ROME, Ga. — The Conasauga logperch is one of the rarest of the darter species across the Coosa Valley watershed, unless you happen to be at the Rome-Floyd County ECO River Education Center. By Doug Walker, The Rome News-Tribune.

For Monday use:

GIANT PLANTS

ATHENS, Ga. — Some unusual Athens plants will have a warm place to sleep this winter after all. The big container plants, some 40 years old, faced an uncertain future in December. Most of the plants couldn't stay at Alps Road Elementary School any longer, Principal Angela Lumpkin-Barnett had decided. A staff member had slipped on overflowing water, and even though the hall that had been the plants' winter home was wide, they were a navigation hazard during class changes. By Lee Shearer, The Athens Banner-Herald.

KENTUCKY

For Sunday use:

STILL MAKERS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Drinkers of Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey cite cities like Bardstown, Ky., and Lynchburg, Tenn. as the birthplace of their drink. But tracing the line back a bit further often takes them to Louisville's Butchertown neighborhood. By Gregory A. Hall, The Courier-Journal.

For Monday use:

WHOLESOME LIVING

WINCHESTER, Ky. — Will Meurer always wanted to teach and coach. He achieved both goals following graduation from Eastern Kentucky University. By Keith Taylor, The Winchester Sun.

LOUISIANA

For Saturday and Sunday use:

DINNER LAB

NEW ORLEANS — Lalita Kaewsawang's career as a cook began in a dormitory on the Wesleyan College campus in Macon, Ga. She would fire up the small four-burner stove in her room, set up some tables and serve a small selection of Thai dishes to hungry students. The makeshift restaurant, dubbed Lalita's Mango Tree, caught the attention of several students and, soon enough, the college's administrators. They told her that her venture was a health code violation and ordered her to stop. By Maria Clark, New Orleans CityBusiness.

TOUCHSTONE MUSEUM

HAUGHTON, La. — There are big jungle cats, antelope and hundreds of other exotic species in the northwest Louisiana town of Haughton. Touchstone Wildlife and Art Museum shows off hundreds of exotic animals collected over Sam Touchstone's lifetime. Most died a natural death, says Lura Touchstone, who, with other relatives, operates the museum created by her late husband, a taxidermist. By Devin White, The Times.

For Monday use:

LEGISLATORS-HORSERACES

BATON ROUGE, La. — For state Rep. Page Cortez, owning a racehorse began in childhood. Cortez and his brothers grew up spending every weekend at the racetrack, because their grandfather raised quarter horses. By Michelle Millhollon, The Advocate.

WHAT YOU SEE

ALEXANDRIA, La. — Students in Sarah Mendoza's first-grade class at Julius Patrick Elementary School stare at a picture of animals in a forest with a cluster of people in the background. After two minutes of quietly studying the picture on Mendoza's Promethean board, she asks them what they see. By Leigh Guidry, The Town Talk.

MID-ATLANTIC

For Sunday use:

WEIGHT LOSS STRUGGLE

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Adjusting the speed on the treadmill, Larry Dunnington shifted his weight and took a tentative step, then another. And another. For an entire minute, the 62-year-old Cape St. Claire resident walked without grabbing the side rails for support. That was remarkable for Dunnington, who weighed 600 pounds only two years ago and could once barely walk from the car to the gym before collapsing, out of breath and exhausted. By Tina Reed, The Capital of Annapolis.

MD--KICKK SPOTT

WASHINGTON — Wale, D.C.'s most successful rapper, emerges from the Wisconsin Avenue shop wearing a purple, fur-lined hoodie and bright yellow sneakers. As he walks out on a recent Friday afternoon, around 60 customers are in line waiting to get into the shop he and his entourage has just departed. The store is Kickk Spott, and for local sneakerheads, it's a little slice of heaven in Georgetown. Brimming with individually shrink-wrapped Air Jordans and rare pairs of Nikes that are kept behind glass, it's the only boutique destination for high-end sneakers in the area, playing to a clientele of shoe lovers who will pay top dollar for hard-to-find kicks. By Ryan Little, The Washington Post.

For Monday use:

SPOON COLLECTION

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Want to know Rita Kapurch? Just look at her spoons. Her collection of more than 300 souvenir spoons is a testament to a well-traveled and large circle of friends and family. "It mirrors the fact that she's a collector of friends," said her daughter, the Rev. Linda Kapurch of Horsham, Pa. "Each of these spoons represents somebody and has a story." By Theresa Winslow, The Capital of Annapolis.

FARM BUREAU PRESIDENT

FREDERICK, Md. — Educating young children, their parents and the public about agriculture is one of Charles Brault's top agenda items as the new Frederick County Farm Bureau president. By Ike Wilson, The News-Post of Frederick.

MISSISSIPPI

For Sunday use:

LAUREN ROGERS MUSEUM

LAUREL, Miss. — There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. Hidden from public view in the lower-level vault are all sorts of treasures, including the painting "A Child's First Steps" by 19th century French artist Jean-Francois Millet. By Ed Kemp, Hattiesburg American.

LACOSTE-WEST NILE

JACKSON, Miss. — The cause to which fitness guru Paul Lacoste has dedicated his life is also what recently helped save it. Lacoste, who has garnered national attention for his annual fitness challenge series Fit 4 Change, contracted West Nile Virus this fall and then experienced life-threatening complications. By Marquita Brown, The Clarion-Ledger.

For Monday use:

PRATHER'S PLAYGROUND

TUPELO, Miss. — More than 70 years ago, downtown Tupelo was Jacque Prather's playground. He played games with his friends, and he visited with hobos at their camp by the railroad tracks. "I used to go down there at night with the hobos. They always treated me nice," Prather, 79, said. "My mom didn't know I was there. She was working. She thought I was at the picture show." By M. Scott Morris, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

CORINTH SPORTSPLEX

CORINTH, Miss. — Havis Hurley wasn't looking for another job. He had two that kept him busy. The former executive director of the Corinth Sportsplex couldn't pass up the chance to help bring back a place he played a big part in building. Hurley has been hired part time by the Sportsplex board as the program director. The facility is in a transition after going through financial issues for some time. By Steve Beavers, The Daily Corinthian.

NORTH CAROLINA

For Saturday use:

MAKING MUSIC

CHOCOWINITY — Every once in a blue moon, Ernie and Sandy Miller spot something on television they have built in their woodshop. For more than 30 years, the Millers have built a reputation for handcrafting harpsichords. He does the woodwork, and she paints intricate landscapes and designs on the soundboards and lids of the instruments. By Mona Moore, Washington Daily News.

For Sunday use:

PLANK OWNER'S TRIP

GASTONIA — William "Bill" Falls of Gastonia didn't cut his teeth on the cold steel of the USS Enterprise 51 years ago. The pioneering vessel cut its teeth on him. When the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1961, Falls was one of its original crew members, known as a "plank owner." He was already an experienced Navy seaman, having seasoned his lungs with salty air during stints on other memorable ships. By Michael Barrett, The Gaston Gazette.

For Monday use:

ELIZABETH CITY STATE HISTORY

ELIZABETH CITY — Glen Bowman set out to write a history of Elizabeth City State University, but what he quickly discovered is that any history of ECSU is also a history of the Elizabeth City community at large. "It's about a celebration," Bowman said recently of his book-in-progress. "It's a celebration of the community and the alumni and the people who made ECSU. They have every reason to be proud of ECSU. I feel privileged doing this." By Peter Williams, The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City.

SOUTH CAROLINA

For Saturday use:

PRISON LIFE

FLORENCE, S.C. — Somewhere in the middle of serving his 20-year sentence for manslaughter and gun charges inside a South Carolina Department of Corrections prison, Scottie has prison life figured out. By Rebecca Ducker, Morning News of Florence.

For Sunday use:

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

ANDERSON, S.C. — Vernita Boone Brown grew up a block from a government-run apartment complex in Tampa, Fla., but her parents made sure she didn't stay there. By Charmaine Smith-Miles, Anderson Independent-Mail.

For Monday use:

ARMADILLO ASSAULT

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The armadillo is often thought of as strictly a South or Central American animal. But the armored mammal is burrowing its way deeper and deeper into the area around Orangeburg County. "I probably have had more calls this year than last," Clemson Extension Agent Charles Davis said. "They are increasing their range and they are becoming more of a nuisance. But it is not a huge, huge issue." By Gene Zaleski, The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.

TENNESSEE

For Sunday use:

TROOPER'S REHAB

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Lowell Russell used to start each day with a two-mile run. Now his days revolve around physical therapy. "I have to pace myself," he said. "That's probably the most difficult thing — going from being able to do about anything I wanted to waking up in a hospital bed barely able to move. I'm one of those people who likes to be on the go, and not being able to do that's very frustrating." By Matt Lakin, Knoxville News Sentinel.

For Monday use:

LANDMARK MINIATURES

JACKSON, Tenn. — Where most people see garbage, Eugene Witherspoon sees artistic potential. Witherspoon is a warehouse technician at Madison Haywood Developmental Services, located in North Jackson. Part of his job involves handling plastics, cardboard and paper. When there are scraps, he takes them and turns them into miniature buildings, models and trains. By Tracie Simer, The Jackson Sun.

VIRGINIA

For Sunday use:

DOCTOR-BOOK

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Extraordinary accounts abound of people who claim to have had near-death experiences. By David A. Maurer, The Daily Progress.

PETA HEAD

NORFOLK, Va. — Ingrid Newkirk has spent half her life trying to get in your face. She'd like to keep that up after she's dead. By Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot.

For Monday use:

CAPITAL TRAIL

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Capital Trail has taken a detour, and one Varina homeowner is not pleased. D. Gareth Embrose Jr., whose property is adjacent to the south end of Dorey Park in eastern Henrico County, doesn't like the idea of having the bicycle trail cut through his backyard so that it can connect with bike paths that run through that park and Four Mile Creek Park just to the southeast. By Randy Hallman, Richmond Times-Dispatch.

FUNERAL HOME ORGANIST

STAUNTON, Va. — Betty Talley Combee took her shoes off as she approached the bench to her organ. "That shows I'm not a professional," Combee said with a laugh. The humble, quiet 86-year-old has been playing the organ and serving as a music teacher for more than 60 years. Now retired, Combee still plays rather frequently. By Laura Peters, The News-Leader.

WEST VIRGINIA

For Sunday use:

LOOKING FOR CURE

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A courageous girl with a huge heart willing to fight for something she believes in is one way Anna Gordon's mother describes her daughter, a sophomore at Parkersburg South High School. By Mandi Cardosi, Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

EXAM EXCELLENCE

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU School of Medicine Dean Art Ross put Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher Colenda on the spot during a ceremony when he asked if Colenda — in his more than 10 years as a health education administrator — had ever witnessed the accomplishment being celebrated. By Alex Lang, The Dominion Post.

For Monday use:

VEHICLES-LIQUID PROPANE

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Around here, most people stare blankly when Bret Chandler starts talking about using propane as an alternate vehicle fuel. By Rusty Marks, The Charleston Gazette.

SHEPHERD PROJECT

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — On the first day back from winter break, Shepherd University students were quickly filing through the freshly completed underpass connecting East and West campus as though they had always done so. By Holly Shok, The Journal.

The AP

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