Crews Work to Restore

Power in the Carolinas

CONCORD, N.C. -- An armada of utility trucks and crews assembled yesterday to work to restore power to nearly 1.8 million people in the ice-coated Carolinas.

Repair workers who have poured in from across the South were working against both the clock and the ice, which continued to send tree limbs crashing onto power lines.

Frustrated utilities pushed back earlier promises and acknowledged that most customers would not have power back until next Wednesday night, exactly a week after the ice storm struck.

"The tree limbs are still falling and getting tangled up in our power lines," said Mike McCracken, of Carolina Power & Light, which like other utilities saw outages increase the day after the storm. "We've made ground in some areas, but in other locations, we've lost ground."

* DENVER -- A former U.S. Forest Service employee pleaded guilty to starting the wildfire that destroyed 133 homes and cost more than $29 million to contain. Terry Barton, 38, admitted setting fire to federal land and making false statements to investigators in a plea agreement that calls for a sentence of 70 months to 87 months in federal prison. Sentencing was set for Feb. 21.

* BOISE, Idaho -- The Forest Service permanently grounded 11 airtankers and temporarily grounded other planes used to fight wildfires after a panel said the aerial firefighting program is unsafe and plagued with problems. The grounded tankers were all C-130A or PB4Y-2 models used under contract with private companies. Nineteen government-owned P-58 planes and four Sherpa smokejumper aircraft were grounded pending evaluation of safety issues identified in the panel's report.

* BOSTON -- Prosecutors have begun investigating allegations dating to the 1960s that the Rev. James Foley, a priest suspended Thursday by the Boston Archdiocese, failed to immediately call for medical help when the apparent mother of his two children overdosed on drugs. Archdiocese personnel files show that church officials learned in 1993 that Foley had lived a double life as a priest, having relationships with women and fathering at least two children. Police in Needham, where the alleged overdose is believed to have occurred, said they have no record of the incident.

* LOUISVILLE -- Cumberland College junior Michael Nash, who lost a $2,900 Kentucky merit scholarship when he decided to major in religion, has sued the state, claiming it discriminates against students wanting to obtain degrees in religious studies by denying them funding.

* DIAMOND BAR, Calif. -- Southern California air quality officials voted to impose the nation's first ban of the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent because of health concerns. Dry cleaning businesses would have to stop using perchloroethylene, known as perc, by the year 2020.

* CAPE CANAVERAL -- With its landing site socked in, NASA ordered space shuttle Endeavour to remain in orbit, delaying the crew's homecoming for an unprecedented third day. Mission Control said it would guide Endeavour to a touchdown today.

-- From News Services