Regional News: Anniston Poison Gas Incinerators; Mars Spacecraft to Launch

NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft, inside a payload fairing, is hoisted to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41. The Mars launch is set for Monday, Nov 18.(Courtesy: NASA/Kim Shiflett)
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ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) -- The Pentagon spent $10.2 billion over three decades burning chemical weapons stored in four states. Now, with those chemicals up in smoke and communities freed of a threat, the Army's in the middle of another, $1.3 billion project: Demolishing the incinerators that destroyed the toxic materials. In Alabama, Oregon, Utah and Arkansas, crews are tearing apart multibillion-dollar incinerators or working to draw the curtain on a drama that began in the Cold War.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (AP) -- A union official says fewer layoffs are expected at a defense contractor at Fort Rucker. A letter from a local workers' union said less than 100 layoff notices were expected Friday.

PIEDMONT, Ala. (AP) -- Firefighters say a blaze in the Duggar Mountain Wilderness may be entering its final phase. The fire is affecting about 529 acres. That's within a 566-acre containment area.
Investigators said the blaze may have started earlier this week from a campfire that was not extinguished. Dry weather and fall leaves helped spread the flames.

MIAMI (AP) -- Miami-Dade police say they believe they have found the body of Florida man who fell from a private plane into the waters off South Florida. Authorities said they presume the body is that of 42-year-old Gerardo Nales in a mangrove area Saturday morning but are waiting on official identification from the medical examiner.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA hopes its newest Mars spacecraft lives up to its know-it-all name -- Maven. The robotic explorer is due to blast off Monday afternoon on a 10-month journey to the red planet. It will orbit Mars and study the atmosphere to try to understand how the planet morphed from warm and wet to cold and dry.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- An 11-year-old girl has died after a scooter accident in southwest Florida. St. Petersburg police say Sonia Savage and a friend were riding scooters Friday when Sonia didn't look both ways before crossing the street. She crashed into a truck and was run over by the left rear wheel of the vehicle.

Deputy frees deer from soccer net
BIG PINE KEY, Fla. (AP) -- A deer in the Florida Keys is breathing more easily after a deputy helped untangle him from a soccer net.
Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Danielle Malone found the young Key deer buck Saturday morning with his head and antlers caught in a soccer net at a church on Big Pine Key. She was able to free him safely and he ran off, uninjured.
Key deer are the smallest of the Virginia white-tailed deer subspecies and are endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says the deer have been threatened by development, habitat loss and hurricanes.

Panther festival sheds light on endangered animal
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Panther Festival taking place in Naples will help shed light on the endangered animal.
The third annual festival is Saturday at the North Collier Regional Park. Visitors will learn more about the hunting habits of panthers, how they territory and raise their young. The event also includes a swamp buggy ride in panther territory.
Ben Nottingham is the refuge manager of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. He says the goal is not only for guests to celebrate the Florida panther but also to increase their awareness of how to safely coexist with panthers, along with their livestock and pets.
The festival is free to the public.
Field trips will be available on Sunday throughout southwest Florida where panthers roam. Fees do apply.

Thanksgiving event planned in Ga. for refugees
ATLANTA (AP) -- An organization will be hosting a special Thanksgiving celebration in metro Atlanta for refugees.
The International Rescue Committee in Atlanta is sponsoring the annual event, which is set for Saturday in Stone Mountain.
Organizers say that for many of the refugees this will be their first time experiencing the holiday. Many recently arrived in the area from countries including Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, Bhutan and Sudan. The event will feature traditional Thanksgiving fare like roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
Attendees will also be learning about the history of Thanksgiving.