BWI Evacuates International Terminal

Passengers were evacuated from the international terminal at Baltimore Washington International Airport last night after cylindrical objects were detected in luggage. The objects were later determined to be cigars in special containers, and after a two-hour delay, the passengers were readmitted, an airport spokeswoman said.

About 200 passengers who were waiting to board two flights were evacuated about 8:20 p.m. and permitted back about 10:20 p.m., said Marilyn Corbett, the spokeswoman. She said that after the three objects were spotted during normal scrutiny of carry-on baggage, search dogs also indicated that they might be suspicious.

At that point the terminal was evacuated, and fire officials were brought in to check further. Corbett said one of the delayed flights was bound for Iceland. The other was an Air Force plane.

Get-Rich Program Owner Guilty of Fraud

John Polk used a rented jet to make himself look wealthy in a TV infomercial and cited alleged success stories of subscribers in his wealth-building programs who weren't subscribers.

Last week, Polk pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled Thursday that Polk's Peak Performance Institute in Hagerstown defrauded thousands of people of more than $10 million. Motz also fined Polk $250,000 and ordered him to pay $2 million in restitution.

Motz also sentenced David Bowen, another company official, to 18 months and ordered him to pay $250,000 in restitution. A third company official, Matthew Foulger, 32, was sentenced to 30 months in jail. They also pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.

According to prosecutors, Peak Performance made numerous misrepresentations in its infomercials and sales seminars and falsely promised money for joint real estate ventures.

Polk had sampled several sales seminar companies and become a devotee of inspirational speakers. He wrote books that became the package offered by Peak Performance: "The Real Estate Money Machine," "High Yield Low Risk," "Credit, Credit and More Credit," and "Secrets to Building Wealth."


Grundy Law School Denied Accreditation

An American Bar Association committee has recommended against giving provisional accreditation to the Appalachian School of Law, but officials of the school said the finding is not unusual for first-time applicants.

The law school in Grundy, Buchanan County, near the Kentucky and West Virginia borders, will begin its third year of operation this fall. School officials said they applied for ABA accreditation in the second year of operation, although many law schools wait until the third year. An ABA evaluation team of legal educators, a bar association official and a judge visited the school in March. New law schools must seek ABA accreditation, and approval means that the school has met certain criteria and standards as determined by the association.

The criteria include the quality of a school's library and faculty and placement of students, said Lucius Ellsworth, president of the law school in Grundy.

Twins, Believed Oldest in U.S., Are 99

Treva Pence and Mabel Harpine--believed to be the nation's oldest set of twins as they mark their 99th birthday today in a New Market nursing home--still interact with the typical sibling mix of care and sparring, family members and nursing home workers say.

"They don't room together, because they don't get along," said Arlene Thompson, activities director at the Life Care Center. "But they're always looking out for each other--typical siblings."

Both sisters have severely impaired hearing and eyesight. Their mental faculties alternate between lucid and confused, a family member said.

On Friday, Mabel Harpine's wits were with her. Told that she was doing well in life, she replied, "So far."

The sisters were born July 19, 1900, to a Maryland family of six children. Their mother died when they were almost 4, and an aunt and uncle raised them. The girls cracked walnuts for pennies, chopped wood for the fireplace and walked two miles every day to a three-room school, according to a family biography.

Pence married at 20. She had three sons and worked at a cannery and a poultry plant in Timberville. Harpine married at 19, eventually bearing seven children. For money, she did others' laundry and raised chickens.

The Guinness Book of World Records told the family that the sisters were the oldest pair of twins in the country with documented birth records, said Neola Harpine, Mabel Harpine's daughter-in-law. The 1999 Guinness book lists 105-year-old brothers in Japan as the world's oldest twins.

Lynchburg Firm to Handle D-Day Memorial

A Lynchburg contractor will begin construction next month on the first phase of the $12 million National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Coleman-Adams Construction Co. recently was awarded a $2.7 million contract to build Victory Plaza, which will include a 44-foot granite arch inscribed on top with "Overlord," the Allied code name for the June 6, 1944, invasion of Nazi-held Western Europe.

The contracting company hopes to complete the plaza by Memorial Day 2000. If all goes as planned, the $8 million monument and $4 million education center are expected to be dedicated June 6, 2001, said William McIntosh, vice president for education at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

Bedford, which had about 3,200 residents in 1944, lost more soldiers per capita in the invasion than any other community in America. Of 35 Bedford and Bedford County soldiers in the invasion, 23 were killed in the first 15 minutes.

Recent Rains Good News for Tobacco Crop

A month ago, dry weather and cold nights had produced plants in Virginia's flue-cured tobacco region that often looked more like little cabbages than tobacco. But the crop benefited last week from a much-needed, slow and steady rain.

"This was the million-dollar rain," said Bobby Wilkerson, a grower in Ringgold. "It was made to order."

Recent rains brought as much as two inches to some communities, and tobacco farmers said their crops are looking great.

"I would consider this rain to be a lifesaver for the tobacco crop," said Bruce Jones, Pittsylvania County's tobacco extension agent. "The crop has done exceptional considering the amount of rain we had earlier this season."

Tobacco markets in the Danville area open Aug. 10. Farmers will sell tobacco left over from last year for the first few weeks, Jones said.


"Hunger is a major concern here. Sometimes, to figure out when a child last ate, we ask him what was on TV during his last meal."

-- Brenda Richards, principal at Shaed Elementary School in the District