Originally created 01/03/06

Across the Southeast

Airplane crashes near residential area

PHENIX CITY, Ala. - Jeff Gayles was in his yard shooting fireworks with his son when a small plane crashed next door, injuring three people on board.

Mr. Gayles said he realized something was wrong Sunday night when he heard a sound like an explosion.

"I looked up and I saw this plane coming through the trees," Mr. Gayles said. "When it caught the tree limbs, it spun and shot straight down to the ground."

The twin-engine plane crashed next door at a house still under construction in McIntosh Creek subdivision.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hanson said the plane carried three passengers: the pilot, his wife and their son. They were transported to the Medical Center in Columbus, Ga., where their conditions were listed as stable, a hospital spokeswoman said. Their names were not released.

The pilot, who was walking around after the crash, apparently had run out of gas, Chief Hanson said.

Census Bureau plans trial for N. Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A nine-county region around Fayetteville is scheduled to be one of two sites in the nation where the U.S. Census Bureau will conduct a trial run this year in preparation for the 2010 census.

New questionnaires, software and computers will be involved in the 2008 dress rehearsal in North Carolina and northern California.

Census takers will use hand-held computers to collect data and will test new software and payroll systems.

Hundreds of census takers will be hired and an office will be opened in Fayetteville for the rehearsal, in which area residents will get census questionnaires in 2008 and 2010.

Counties involved in the North Carolina rehearsal are Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond and Scotland, which had a combined population of 745,883 in 2004.

Landmark fishing pier will be torn down

LONG BEACH, N.C. - The fishing pier billed as the longest in North Carolina officially is closed, the victim of rising real estate prices and a divorce settlement.

The Long Beach Pier is scheduled to be torn down in February, along with its tackle shop, motel and restaurant after closing Saturday.

It is the ninth pier to close along the state's coast for reasons ranging from insurance costs to storm damage. There were 32 piers along the coast in 1996 and the number has dropped to 23.

Pier owner and real estate developer Tommy Thomes had to divide assets with his former wife for a divorce settlement, so the pier property will be divided into 10 lots worth as much as $1 million each.

- Edited from wire reports


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