Urban News

By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  June 19, 2002 at 4:27 AM
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(CINCINNATI) -- Ground has been broken in Cincinnati for a national museum to honor the work of those who helped build the Underground Railroad. The "railroad," a system of safe houses for runaway slaves, reached from parts of the South, through Cincinnati, into neighboring Indiana and finally to Canada.

The Cincinnati Enquirer says that more than 5,000 people attended the ceremonies, held on the shoreline of the Ohio River. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Museum will be a $110 million facility. It will open sometime in 2004.

The publication says that against a backdrop of African dance and drum beats, descendants of slaves and abolitionists gathered. They sang, ate and laughed together. A 700-member choir sang. First lady Laura Bush spoke. Muhammad Ali lit a symbolic "freedom flame."

Cincinnati was also home to author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her classic novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" brought a better realization of the horrors of slavery to millions.

(PHOENIX) -- Highway officials in Phoenix say the newest wave of graffiti on local freeways is not done in spray paint ... but with foam cups. It seems that it's become chic to spell out messages to passing motorists by pushing cups, bottom-side first, through chain-link fences along busy routes.

The Arizona Republic says that most of the messages are short and not as vulgar as the kind that many graffiti artists paint on walls. In recent days the paper has seen "We Love U Nino," "Happy 23rd, Lance" and "Sarah's Back" -- all spelled out neatly in discarded coffee and soft drink cups.

Since the new wave of signage is considered to be littering and not graffiti-writing, the fine is $500. The fine for traditional graffiti is $100.

(EVANSVILLE, Ind.) -- When you think of the word "earthquake" you usually think of California -- Los Angeles and San Francisco, to be more precise. Well, try telling that to the rattled citizens of the Indiana river city of Evansville. Snuggled along the Ohio River, in extreme southwestern Indiana (in the toe of the state), Evansville is seldom shaken by anything other than the usual wave of Hoosier Hysteria during local high school basketball season.

Now, according to local TV media, the city has been rocked for the second time in less than two years by what government seismologists describe as a "moderate" earthquake. The epicenter was about 15 miles north of the city in rural Haubstadt. There were no reports of major damage or injuries. The quake measured 5.0 on the Richter Scale.

By the way, the heaviest quake to hit the states in recorded history was the one that was centered about 150 miles to the west at New Madrid, Mo., in the early 1800s. It caused the Mississippi River to change course in several areas.

(CHICAGO) -- Water safety officials in Chicago say they have hired a private consulting firm to check on the safety of the city's water supply. Additionally, the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, has hired a retired police commander to direct security at city pumping stations. The credentials of the man now holding that position is that he was once a fork-lift operator.

There is even talk of opening a police substation on the grounds of a major water processing facility in the city.

At the same time, the publication says there have been major breaches of security at the Jardine Water Filtration Plant. On Monday an employee accidentally ran his vehicle through a swing-gate used for security. The entrance went un-gated for many hours before the unit was fixed. Last week one employee left an access door propped open with a brick while he washed his car. Many of the plant's security cameras either don't work or their view is obscured by portable generators.

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