Originally created 09/17/02

Across the southeast



Alabama reports death from West Nile virus

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -An elderly Montgomery County woman became the first person in Alabama to die of West Nile virus this year and only the second ever in the state, a health official said Monday.

The woman was at least 80 years old, but no other details about her death were released to keep her identity confidential as required by federal law, said Dr. Charles Woernle, assistant state health officer.

"I'd be pleasantly surprised if we have no more deaths," Dr. Woernle said. "Hopefully, we'll dodge the bullet."

Health officials previously said seven Montgomery County residents had been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus this year. The woman who died was not included in that count, Dr. Woernle said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 65 people have died from the virus this year.

Army says soldier died of self-inflicted shot

FORT KNOX, Ky. -The gunshot that killed a soldier during training last week at Fort Knox was self-inflicted, Army officials said Monday.

Pvt. John D. Lemons, 18, of Topping, Va., died of a gunshot wound to the head Friday at University of Louisville Hospital. The Jefferson County coroner's office and Army Criminal Investigation Division officials have ruled the death a suicide.

Pvt. Lemons was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 81st Armor Regiment at Fort Knox. He was in initial entry training. He apparently shot himself while training with an M-16 weapon. His parents attended a memorial service Saturday with other soldiers.

Town debates claim to biggest ham biscuit

SMITHFIELD, Va. -Before a forklift has gotten the chance to hoist the first serving, Smithfield's planned claim to the "World's Largest Ham Biscuit" is being challenged.

The tiny town of Cadiz, Ky., says it set the record 17 years ago with a biscuit weighing 4,000 pounds, about a pound for every resident. Officials of Cadiz's country ham festival say it had 15,000 people there as witnesses.

Smithfield's big biscuit is being planned to honor the Virginia town's 250th birthday. Smithfield Foods is sponsoring the biscuit, measuring 8 feet wide and 1 foot high and stuffed with 450 pounds of ham.

It is to be baked Sept. 28 in a giant, custom oven on the corporate grounds, and will serve 1,752 people in honor of the town's 1752 founding.

People working to create the Smithfield biscuit were surprised to hear about the Cadiz claim.

"When I contacted Guinness, there was no such thing as a ham category and no record of their accomplishment," said Pam Bourassa, a Smithfield community volunteer.