Washington The Washington Monument, which serves as a sort of granite-and-marble exclamation point for the National Mall’s historic sights, reopened to the public Friday after a monthslong security renovation.
All tickets for the day were claimed early, said U.S. National Park Service spokesman Bill Line.
With the heavy tourist season looming and the cherry trees in bloom, the monument will resume its place as a top attraction for visitors to the capital.
The more than 555-foot obelisk had been closed since September when a $15 million security project began. The security improvements included vehicle barriers and a new lighting system. Visitors will now be able – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week – to travel by elevator to the top of the monument. But the surrounding 55-acres will remain off limits until late June.
The reopening of the monument coincided with the Cherry Blossom Festival, which is expected to bring about 1 million people to the city.
Frat suspended after adult video incident
Chico, Calif. California State University in Chico suspended a fraternity after members admitted they participated in an adult film.
The national chapter of Phi Kappa Tau also suspended the school chapter and is investigating the taping, done several months ago by Shane’s World, an adult film producer known for using college students in its videos.
Rick Rees, the university’s associate director of student activities, said the fraternity’s president apologized, admitting that “it was a bad decision.”
The school’s fraternity system has been under investigation since February when a student died from drinking a large amount of water. The victim allegedly was being hazed by members of a fraternity that had already lost its school affiliation.
Four members of the Chi Tau fraternity have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Matthew Carrington, and four others face lesser charges.
University President Paul Zingg told the Los Angeles Times that Carrington’s death was “the last straw” and that if the Chico fraternity system was found to be beyond repair, he would shut it down.
Avalanche workers didn’t follow procedure
Salt Lake City Two avalanche-safety workers will be disciplined for misfiring a 105 mm howitzer and sending a round into a back yard last week, state officials said Friday.
The March 24 explosion would not have happened if the workers had followed state procedures, said Carlos Braceras, Transportation Department deputy director.
The two workers, who were not identified, were trying to set loose an avalanche before it could rip down onto U.S. Route 189 in Provo Canyon, but they sent the shell sailing with too much propellant and overshot the steep slope.
The round was supposed to travel fewer than 4,000 yards, but instead flew about 9,000 yards.
No one was injured, but the shell left a crater in a back yard and sent shrapnel flying into a house.
The exact punishment had not been determined, but the workers will not be dismissed, said department spokesman Tom Hudachko.