BURLINGTON, Vt.

Longtime university official dies in fire at her residence

University of Vermont officials say the school’s associate director of residential life has died in an early morning fire at her home.

The Burlington Free Press reported that university President Tom Sullivan and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Annie Stevens said that Kathleen Cook was found Thursday morning in the on-campus home that is owned by the university.

The administrators, in an email to the campus community, say fire officials have determined no foul play was involved.

Cook had worked at the university for 16 years and was described as a devoted educator.

BOSTON

Panel will study feasibility of hosting 2024 Olympics

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed into law a bill to study the feasibility of the state hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, would create a nine-member commission to analyze all aspects of hosting the games, including infrastructure, transportation, security, lodging, locations, costs and job creation.

The bill calls on the commission to complete its report by March 2014. The U.S. Olympic Committee hopes to have a short list of potential host cities by the end of this year and will decide which city to recommend in 2014.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Mastermind of Navy scam asks for community service

The mastermind of a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million is asking a judge to sentence him to a split term of prison and community service, rather than the more than 10 years behind bars that prosecutors are seeking.

Ralph M. Mariano is set to be sentenced Friday in federal court in Providence. The former civilian employee of the Navy pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy, theft of government property and tax evasion. He’s one of six people to plead guilty in the case.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn.

Principal gets suspension for dragging kids down hall

A Bridgeport school principal caught on camera dragging kindergarten children down a hallway has been suspended for six months without pay and will be reassigned to another administrative job.

The Connecticut Post reported that the Board of Education voted 4-3 on Wednesday to approve the disciplinary measures against Carmen Perez Dickson. The board rejected a recommendation by School Superintendent Paul Vallas to fire her.

Dickson, a 35-year veteran educator, was seen on videotape three times dragging kindergarten children down a corridor in the Tisdale School in February and March of 2012.

During her termination hearing, Dickson’s lawyer said her actions were appropriate for the situation and that the school board makes physical force an option when necessary.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.

Man charged with torturing dog may face deportation

The man charged with torturing and beating a dog in Quincy could face deportation to his native Poland.

The Boston Herald reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer on Radoslaw Czerkawski, 32. A spokesman for ICE said in a statement that Czerkawski will be turned over to federal officials for removal proceedings after the Massachusetts criminal case against him is wrapped up.

Czerkaswski has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of animal cruelty and a charge of misleading police stemming from the alleged abuse of the pit bull who was euthanized after being found barely alive in August.

New Bedford police are also considering filing charges against Czerkawski for the alleged theft of checks from a Roman Catholic church.

CONCORD, N.H.

Researchers studying risk of white pine fungus’ return

Scientists worry that a fungus targeting white pine forests has mutated and could return more than a century after it first hit the United States.

White pine blister rust comes from a combination of white pines and flowering plants – called ribes – like gooseberries and currants.

When the fungus first hit in 1909, a massive eradication effort including a ban on ribes, helped stem the destruction.

But a Cornell University researcher found a previously immune currant infected with a mutated form of the fungus in 2011 in Connecticut.

The U.S. Forest Service is leading a research effort into the fungus.

 

– From news service reports