Lawyer: Major artifacts dealer to take plea deal

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A major Southwest antiquities dealer who was forced to surrender five truckloads of American Indian relics to federal agents is expected to settle charges of digging up a grave and plundering artifacts from federal lands, his defense lawyer said Thursday.

Wally Bugden, a lawyer for Carl “Vern” Crites, told a federal magistrate in Salt Lake City that he was negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

But Crites told The Associated Press he was unaware of any negotiations and that a government raid of his home last year – the second since 1985 – was a misunderstanding that later forced him to give up his entire collection of thousands of artifacts.

“That was part of no deal,” Crites said Thursday from Durango, Colo., where he lives. “I had no choice. They came and took my things. It was either that or they’d come with a search warrant and take them.”

Authorities have said that Crites bragged in secret recordings of having sold pottery sets for $500,000.

The 75-year-old was one of 26 people arrested in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico last year in an investigation into trafficking of artifacts plucked from federal or tribal lands. To make the case, the government hired an antiquities dealer from Utah to secretly record $335,000 in transactions over two years.

Earlier this month, Bugden filed a motion seeking a copy of the operative’s FBI contract and demanding to know if the government ever promised leniency in exchange for his help.

“I still want all that,” Bugden said after Thursday’s court hearing. “I don’t think people have a born-again revelation and become a good Boy Scout. Generally speaking, they’re in trouble. They have some motive.”

The well-connected dealer, Ted Gardiner, a former CEO of a Utah grocery chain, was paid $224,000 for his services, according to court documents. Federal authorities insist Gardiner, who also ran an artifact authentication business, was never in trouble with the law.

Other defense lawyers have filed motions demanding the government reveal any criminal activity involving Gardiner that didn’t lead to charges.

Gardiner didn’t return a phone message left Thursday by the AP.

Two of the 26 defendants – one a Santa Fe, N.M., salesman, the other a prominent Blanding, Utah, physician, James Redd – committed suicide after their arrests.

Separately, Redd’s wife and daughter surrendered their own vast collections, pleaded guilty and were sentenced last summer to terms of probation. The rest of the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Packing a federal courtroom Thursday, defense lawyers and prosecutors told Magistrate Sam Alba that a handful of other defendants were expected to settle charges with plea agreements. Alba gave lawyers until March 8, the date of another conference, to wrap up those talks. Other defendants are fighting charges.

The sweeping investigation broke early on the morning of June 10, when more than 150 federal agents descended on the Four Corners region in flak vests to execute warrants in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah’s San Juan County.

In the small town of Blanding, agents raided the homes of 16 people, some prominent members of the community, including a math teacher and the brother of a sheriff. Most were handcuffed and shackled as agents confiscated stone pipes, woven sandals, spear and arrow heads, seed jars and decorated pottery.

“The government is trying to change the culture of collecting. That’s what people did in southern Utah,” Bugden said Thursday. “This prosecution is trying to change people’s attitudes.”

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Associated Press Writer Mike Stark in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WS-01-28-10 1529EST

 

Portrait of U.S. General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981), painted by Clarence Lamont MacNelly (1920-1986).

Missouri town bans man for damaging military statue

Portrait of U.S. General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981), painted by Clarence Lamont MacNelly (1920-1986).

Portrait of U.S. General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (1893-1981), painted by Clarence Lamont MacNelly (1920-1986).

CLARK, Mo. (AP) – A 57-year-old Missouri man has been kicked out of town after being convicted of paying a teenager to vandalize a monument to hometown hero Gen. Omar Bradley.

Rex Barstow Sr. was sentenced to 60 days in jail and four years of probation and must pay nearly $8,000 to cover damage to the statue in the town of Clark. A judge also ordered Barstow to stay out of the tiny community in southern Randolph County.

Barstow was convicted in December of paying a 14-year-old acquaintance between $20 and $60 to knock over a new stone monument commemorating the life of Bradley, a Clark native and famed Army general in World War II.

The memorial has since been replaced.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-01-28-10 0502EST

 

Greek police foil attempt to sell antiquities

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greek police say they have seized ancient statuettes and an engraved tombstone after a sting operation foiled an attempt to smuggle antiquities.

Authorities arrested three Greeks who allegedly negotiated the sale of the items to an undercover officer from the police’s antiquities smuggling division for euro1.4 million (nearly US$2 million).

Police said Thursday that archaeologists are working to determine the origins of the items – an engraved marble tombstone dating from the 4th or 5th Century B.C., a small bronze horse and a bronze statuette of an enthroned figure.

The suspects are to appear in court later Thursday.

Under Greek law, antiquities found in the country are state property, and it is illegal to possess, excavate, buy or sell them without a permit.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-01-28-10 0435EST

Shea Stadium, licensed image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Guilty plea in Shea Stadium theft

Shea Stadium, licensed image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Shea Stadium, licensed image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

NEW YORK (AP) – A Brooklyn man who worked as a security guard during the demolition of Shea Stadium has pleaded guilty to stealing Mets memorabilia.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Gerald Tacopino pleaded guilty to petit larceny on Wednesday.

Tacopino was fined $500 and sentenced to a conditional discharge, provided he pays $842.50 in restitution. He also was ordered to stay away from the new Mets stadium, Citi Field, for one year.

The district attorney said various stadium items were recovered from Tacopino’s apartment in December 2008. They included Mets security jackets and shirts and seat bottoms and backs.

The 44-year-old man was hired to prevent looting of items that were being removed from Shea Stadium to be sold as memorabilia.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-ES-01-27-10 1517EST

A superb example of Early American glass, this 10-inch-tall tulip vase made by Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., 1845-1865, ex Ken & Sylvia Lyon collection, sold for $13,000 on the hammer at Green Valley Auctions (specialty/catalog division now exclusively maintained under Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates) on May 17, 2008. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.

National American Glass Club Seminar set for Apr. 15-17 in Greenwich

A superb example of Early American glass, this 10-inch-tall tulip vase made by Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., 1845-1865, ex Ken & Sylvia Lyon collection, sold for $13,000 on the hammer at Green Valley Auctions (specialty/catalog division now exclusively maintained under Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates) on May 17, 2008. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.

A superb example of Early American glass, this 10-inch-tall tulip vase made by Boston & Sandwich Glass Co., 1845-1865, ex Ken & Sylvia Lyon collection, sold for $13,000 on the hammer at Green Valley Auctions (specialty/catalog division now exclusively maintained under Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates) on May 17, 2008. Image courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.

GREENWICH, Conn. – The National American Glass Club will hold its 2010 annual seminar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 15-17, in scenic Greenwich, Connecticut.

The convention will feature a series of lectures presented by such leading experts in the field of American glass. They include: Diane Wright – Yale University glass collection; Joe Heyman – Pairpoint glass; Howard Lockwood – Venetian glass; and Ian Simmonds – early glass cutting.

Associated bus trips will include visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newly installed glass collection, the New York Historical Society, and the Annual Westchester Glass Club Show and Sale. In addition, a banquet will be held on the Saturday evening.

The Greenwich Hyatt Regency, at 1800 East Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06870, is offering special room rates of $95 per room. To make hotel reservations, call 203-637-1234.

Seminar registration is $225 per person. Interested parties may register by e-mailing William Thomas: holpromo@yahoo.com for registration. For additional information, visit the NAGC Web site at www.glassclub.org.

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Louis Valtat’s oil painting titled ‘Jeune Femmes Sur Les Rochers’ measures 11 inches by 13 3/4 inches. Estimated at $30,000-$50,000, it sold for $54,050 inclusive of premium. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

Jack in the Box founder’s estate wows bidders at Kaminski auction

Louis Valtat’s oil painting titled ‘Jeune Femmes Sur Les Rochers’ measures 11 inches by 13 3/4 inches. Estimated at $30,000-$50,000, it sold for $54,050 inclusive of premium. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

Louis Valtat’s oil painting titled ‘Jeune Femmes Sur Les Rochers’ measures 11 inches by 13 3/4 inches. Estimated at $30,000-$50,000, it sold for $54,050 inclusive of premium. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

BEVERLY, Mass. – Kaminski Auctions’ December Estates Auction, which took place Dec. 28-29, offered treasures from the San Diego estate of Robert O. Peterson. Peterson, founder of the Jack in the Box restaurant chain and noted patron of the arts, was a discerning collector of antiques and fine art. Strong sales and enthusiastic bidding throughout the two-day auction made the event an unqualified success, with many items selling well above their estimates. Prices realized reflect a 15 percent buyers premium.

Highlighting the Peterson collection was a painting by French artist Louis Valtat (1869-1952), Jeune Femmes Sur Les Rochers. Valtat is considered to be one of the leaders of the Fauvist movement and a link in the stylistic transition between Monet and Matisse. The 1902 oil on canvas proved irresistible to bidders, selling for an impressive $54,050 to a floor bidder.

From the same collection were two sculptures by West Coast artist Donal Hord. Both pieces are sculpted from lignum vitae, a strong trade wood known for its uncommonly high density. Summer Rain, the larger of the two sculptures measuring 49 inches in height, brought $31,050, while the 43-inch Descending Sun brought $36,800. Both pieces are signed by the artist on their respective bases.

A rocking chair by noted furniture designer Sam Maloof (1916-2009) was also among the highlights of the Peterson estate. Maloof’s work is highly sought after and is held in the permanent collections of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The teakwood rocker, signed “No. 5, 1982, Sam Maloof,” measures 45 inches in height. After a feverish volley of floor bids, the rocker rose to $31,050.

Jewelry was also in demand at the auction, with many pieces selling well into the six-figure range. An 8.18-carat sapphire, diamond and platinum ring complete with GIA report sold for $13,800, exceeding its high estimate by more than $4,000. Leading the jewelry category was a 4.65-carat round brilliant cut diamond ring, which realized $40,250, well beyond its original high estimate of $25,000.

“This important San Diego estate represents a lifetime of meticulous collecting on the part of Robert Peterson,” said Frank Kaminski. “The room was buzzing with energy and our bidders were quite pleased with this fine selection.”

For information, visit www.KaminskiAuctions.com or call 978-927-2223.

Click here to view Kaminski Auctions’ complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Donal Hord sculpted ‘Summer Rain’of lignum vitae, a dense, tropical hardwood. The figure, which is 48 3.4 inches tall, sold for $31,050. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

Donal Hord sculpted ‘Summer Rain’of lignum vitae, a dense, tropical hardwood. The figure, which is 48 3.4 inches tall, sold for $31,050. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.


Signed, numbered and dated on base, the Sam Maloof teakwood rocking chair crept above to high estimate, selling at $31,050. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

Signed, numbered and dated on base, the Sam Maloof teakwood rocking chair crept above to high estimate, selling at $31,050. Image courtesy of Kaminski Auctions.

Tom Thumb presentation cane, estimate $15,000-$18,000. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

1872 Tom Thumb presentation cane stars in Kimball Sterling’s Feb. 6 sale

Tom Thumb presentation cane, estimate $15,000-$18,000. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Tom Thumb presentation cane, estimate $15,000-$18,000. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Tennessee auction house Kimball M. Sterling seems to come up with an amazing surprise in every one of its auctions. For its Feb. 6 Important Winter Cane Auction, Sterling’s will present a 130-lot selection of high-quality antique canes with an unusual twist. Along with the more traditional Asian ivory, historical and folk art examples, bidders will find many offbeat canes of the erotic, nautical, sword, and gun-theme categories. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.

A highlight of the sale is the ivory cane that was given to early circus performer and promoter Nate Salsbury by General Tom Thumb – a dwarf who achieved international fame under the guidance of producer P.T. Barnum. Carved in the shape of a boxing glove, the cane’s silver collar is engraved with the words: “Presented to Nate Salsbury by Tom Thumb 1872.” The cane is fresh to the market and was recently purchased out of a house on the East Coast. Also offered with the cane is a pair of miniature boxing gloves that have always accompanied the cane and which were purchased from the same home. The presale estimate on the lot is $15,000-$18,000.

Another unique auction entry is the 1891 cane with an inscription on the handle reading “Wallace R. Stemsen – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West – 1891.” It is expected to make $7,000-$9,000 at auction.

A circa-1861 Russian Mori memento cane has a large ivory handle and a thick, full-bark Malacca shaft with high ridge and plain silver collar struck with Russian hallmarks. The engraved handle’s macabre theme depicts two varani (monitor-type lizards) burrowing in a pile of decaying human skulls and bones. The lots is estimated at $5,000-$7,000.

Another 19th-century production is the Dumontier French percussion gun cane in very fine condition, with 90% bluing on the gun. It is in working order and all original, with an ivory handle, silver collars, a Malacca shaft and metal ferrule. Rare and sought after, it could fetch $1,500-$2,500 on auction day.

Made around 1880, a sword cane features a finely carved burl dog head with two-color glass eyes, a coin-silver collar, bamboo shaft and a 9½-inch fancy blade with locking mechanism. Estimate: $1,200-$1,400.

For information on any item in this sale, contact Kimball M. Sterling Inc. at 423-928-1471.

Visit the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

# # #

Click here to view Kimball M. Sterling Inc.’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE



Sword cane with carved dog's head, circa 1880, estimate $1,200-$1,400.  Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Sword cane with carved dog’s head, circa 1880, estimate $1,200-$1,400. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.


Sword cane with carved dog's head, circa 1880, estimate $1,200-$1,400.  Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Sword cane with carved dog’s head, circa 1880, estimate $1,200-$1,400. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.


Presentation cane to Wallace R. Stemsen, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, 1891, estimate $7,000-$9,000.  Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Presentation cane to Wallace R. Stemsen, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, 1891, estimate $7,000-$9,000. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.


Dumontier gun cane, estimate $1,500-$2,500.  Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Dumontier gun cane, estimate $1,500-$2,500. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.


Mori Russian memento cane, estimate $5,000-$7,000.  Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Mori Russian memento cane, estimate $5,000-$7,000. Image courtesy Kimball M. Sterling.

Attached to the period gilt frame of this painting is a plaque that reads: ‘Near Henly Harbor (Coast of Labrador) William Bradford.’ The 9- by 14-inch painting in as-found condition has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

Myers Fine Art to auction bumper crop of Americana on Feb. 7

Attached to the period gilt frame of this painting is a plaque that reads: ‘Near Henly Harbor (Coast of Labrador) William Bradford.’ The 9- by 14-inch painting in as-found condition has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

Attached to the period gilt frame of this painting is a plaque that reads: ‘Near Henly Harbor (Coast of Labrador) William Bradford.’ The 9- by 14-inch painting in as-found condition has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Americana, fresh from the field, will be presented at Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery Feb. 7. Live Auctioneers will provide Internet live bidding.

“All we do are specialty auctions and this is our first Americana auction since about 2004,” said Mary Dowd of Myers Fine Art & Antiques. “Because everything is purchased from estates, it’s all fresh to the market.”

A prime example is a painting by 19th-century marine artist William Bradford titled Near Henley Harbor, which was recently discovered in an old estate and has not been offered for sale in at least the past 60 years. The oil painting on artists board, 9 inches by 14 inches, depicts the rugged shoreline of Labrador with cottages and an iceberg in the background. In as-found condition with surface grime, light scratches and edge wear near the frame opening, the painting has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate.

Born and raised near New Bedford, Mass., Bradford (1823-1892) is known for his paintings of arctic seascapes. The artist and photographer participated in several expeditions to the frozen north. His paintings typically depict strong color and spectacular lighting.

An Old Dominion Line painting by American marine artist Antonio Jacobsen (1850-1921) pictures the ship Madison. The signed oil painting on artist board is dated 1912. It has the original plaque attached to the gold frame, which reads “Old Dominion Line New York and Virginia.” The painting is in original condition and has not been restored. There are a few light small bits of paint loss; otherwise it is in good condition. The painting carries a $2,000-$4,000 estimate.

Another ship’s painting in the auction pictures the Iron Ship Avoca, which was built in London in 1885 and burnt at sea off India in 1895. The painting, 25 inches by 34 1/2 inches is attributed to Lai Fong, a prolific Chinese artist who specialized in painting ships. The painting was professionally restored prior to being sold by a London art gallery in 1995. It is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

“There’s a lot of interest is the Clinedinst painting of the sugar cane plant. It’s by a Florida artist and they’re in demand now,” said Dowd.

May Spear Clinedinst, a public school teacher from Brooklyn, N.Y., retired to Florida in 1950 to concentrate on painting. She spent her summers at Gloucester and Cape Ann, Mass., painting landscapes, harbors and ship portraits. The painting in Myers’ auction measures 24 inches by 36 inches and is in good original condition. It has a $1,200-$1,800 estimate.

One of several pieces of Southern furniture in the sale is a 19th-century Sheraton Kentucky sugar chest of solid butternut. It has a dovetailed case, divided interior and simple molding. The chest has one long drawer and nicely turned feet. It is expected to bring $2,500-$3,500.

An 18th-century Massachusetts mahogany Chippendale chair having a nicely curved back, an unusual back foot element and finely carved brackets on the front legs is in good condition with no damage or repair. This classic has a $1,200-$1,800 estimate.

Found in New Hampshire, a Federal tall case clock has “Wilson” pressed on the back of the iron dial, which is decorated with a bird on a branch and flowers. The grain-painted case is covered with a dark varnish. The clock is in running condition and stands 87 inches high. It has a $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

An appliqué Basket & Floral “Friendship Album” quilt has graphic pattern block variations of pieced Log Cabin motifs. The early calico print fabrics of this 19th-century quilt retain the rich original color. The quilt measures 75 inches by 73 inches and has a $600-$800 estimate.

A silk embroidered memorial mourning picture is signed in gilt eglomise “wrought by Nancy Fisher at Canton aged 13 y. 1808.” The embroidered memorial is marked “Inscribed to the memory of Mrs. Susanna Fisher who died Jan. 2nd, 1799 aged 31 years. Lo where this silent marble weeps a friend, a wife, a mother sleeps.” The memorial is in its original frame, which measures 18 inches by 15 inches. It has a $1,000-$1,500 estimate.

An ornate sterling silver trophy should of interest to harness racing enthusiasts. The 11 1/2-inch high trophy was presented Oct. 15, 1901 to Captor, owned and driven by Charles Marvin. Walnut Hall Stock Farm, established in Lexington, Ky., in 1892 for breeding standardbred horses, presented the award. The trophy, which weighs 97.5 troy ounces, has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate.

Additional items include folk art, toys, whaling items and a John Quincy Adams document.

“We always to make it a complete sale with a lot of variety. This is a well-rounded sale,” said Dowd.

For details phone 727-823-3249.

To view the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet during the sale at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

Click here to view Myers Fine Art’s complete catalog.


ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE


Lai Fong specialized in painting portraits of ships in the China trade. The Calcutta-based artist pictured the ‘Iron Ship Avoca’ under full sail. In a gilt frame measuring 31 inches by 41 inches, this oil on canvas has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

Lai Fong specialized in painting portraits of ships in the China trade. The Calcutta-based artist pictured the ‘Iron Ship Avoca’ under full sail. In a gilt frame measuring 31 inches by 41 inches, this oil on canvas has a $4,000-$6,000 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.


Medical students used the ophthalmophantome to hone their surgical skills. The black composition face is 8 inches high. The device has an $800-$1,200 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

Medical students used the ophthalmophantome to hone their surgical skills. The black composition face is 8 inches high. The device has an $800-$1,200 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.


May S. Clinedinst (1887-1960) painted this Florida sugar cane plant in the mid-1900s. The signed painting, estimated at $1,200-$1,800, has generated interest among Florida art collectors. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

May S. Clinedinst (1887-1960) painted this Florida sugar cane plant in the mid-1900s. The signed painting, estimated at $1,200-$1,800, has generated interest among Florida art collectors. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.


This Sheraton sugar chest from Kentucky is constructed of solid butternut. It has a $2,500-$3,500 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

This Sheraton sugar chest from Kentucky is constructed of solid butternut. It has a $2,500-$3,500 estimate. Image courtesy of Myers Fine Art & Antiques Auction Gallery.

This mound in Oxford, Ala., which many believe was built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago, is the subject of a dispute with developers who want to level it to use as fill for the construction of a Sam's Club. Image copyright Ginger Ann Brook, used by permission.

Archaelogist: Stone mound in Alabama likely natural, not Native American

This mound in Oxford, Ala., which many believe was built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago, is the subject of a dispute with developers who want to level it to use as fill for the construction of a Sam's Club. Image copyright Ginger Ann Brook, used by permission.

This mound in Oxford, Ala., which many believe was built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago, is the subject of a dispute with developers who want to level it to use as fill for the construction of a Sam’s Club. Image copyright Ginger Ann Brook, used by permission.

OXFORD, Ala. (AP) – A University of Alabama archaeologist has contradicted a report he signed last year claiming a stone mound in Oxford was likely made by Indians about 1,000 years ago.

The Anniston Star reports that Robert Clouse told the Oxford city council Tuesday that erosion and other natural forces likely created the mound. Clouse heads the Office of Archaeological Research at the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama Museums.

Clouse was answering questions about the mound behind the Oxford Exchange and the apparent removal of another mound at the historic Davis Farm site.

Clouse last year signed a report on the potential archaeological significance of the mound. Protests erupted last year when the city tried to remove the hill under the mound to use as fill dirt to build a Sam’s Club store nearby.

On July 10, 2009, Dan Whisenhunt filed this story for the Associated Press:

Goodbye Indian mounds, hello Sam’s Club

OXFORD, Ala. (AP) A stone mound on a hill behind the Oxford Exchange created by American Indians 1,500 years ago will soon disappear.

And whether Oxford’s taxpayers wanted it or not, they paid for its destruction.

Workers hired by the city’s Commercial Development Authority are using the dirt from the hill as fill for a new Sam’s Club. The project has angered American Indians who, along with a Jacksonville State University archaeology professor, say the site could contain human remains.

Oxford Mayor Leon Smith and City Project Manager Fred Denney say it was used to send smoke signals.

The city’s CDA uses taxpayer money and assets to lure commercial businesses. The $2.6 million no-bid CDA contract for preparing the Sam’s site went to Oxford-based Taylor Corp. That money came from the sale of city property to Georgia-based developers Abernathy and Timberlake and from additional money provided by the city.

In Alabama, CDAs are exempt from bid laws, meaning contracts can go to whichever company the board chooses. Oxford’s CDA board and its actions have multiple connections to Smith’s political fundraising:

– At least three board members or their employers have contributed to his political campaigns.

– Taylor Corp., under the ownership of Tommy Taylor, has received thousands of dollars in city contracts for non-CDA work. Taylor donated $1,000 to Smith in 2004 and $1,000 in 2008.

– Abernathy and Timberlake donated $1,000 to Smith’s re-election campaign in 2004.

– Montgomery-based Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood donated $500 to Smith in 2004. The CDA gave the company engineering contracts for the exchange. Denney said the CDA paid the company $45,000 for engineering work, part of which paid for a University of Alabama study on the American Indian site.

The Star has so far been unable to obtain a copy of the UA study, but a letter from the Alabama Historical Commission’s deputy state historic preservation officer indicated the university did not think the site was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The state Historic Preservation Commission did think the site was eligible for the National Register.

Denney said the report’s authors found little at the site.

Smith has said there is nothing wrong with the connections between himself and the CDA. He has described Taylor as a, “good friend.”

Attempts to reach representatives for Taylor Corp. and Abernathy and Timberlake on Monday were unsuccessful.

The Birmingham office of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood declined comment.

CDA members contacted by The Star declined comment, referring questions to board chairman Dwight Rice. Attempts to reach Rice on Monday also were unsuccessful.

Chervis Isom, a Birmingham attorney representing Abernathy and Timberlake, said the company isn’t involved with the hill or the fill dirt.

“If the dirt were contaminated in some way we’d certainly have an interest in that,” Isom said. “Where the CDA got the dirt I’m not sure. We don’t have any control over that.”

He added he does not think there is any problem with the dirt.

Denney said workers will remove about one-third of the hill and cover it with grass. The city eventually will develop commercial business on what remains of the hill, he said.

A September 2008 proposal by Taylor Corp. describes the demolition in vague terms.

“This item includes undercutting two building pad footprints …” the report reads. “The City has agreed to let us spoil the undercut material on their property across the new bridge.”

Denney said the line in the proposal refers to the hill.

“The agreement was we’d furnish the soil,” Denney said. “The city would furnish them a place to get it.”

The City Council transferred the property containing the hill to the CDA in February. Councilwoman June Land Reaves, who voted against the transfer, said she did not understand the hill property was a part of it.

“I never heard any discussion about dirt being taken from the hillside or a reason why that was being done, but it seems to me like a lot of cities capitalize on the history they have … but (we do not seem) to do that,” she said.

Council President Chris Spurlin said it’s too late for the City Council to intervene at the site.

He said he hated the bad publicity, but said there is no proof the site holds human remains.

“The CDA has the authority,” Spurlin said. “They’re trying to do what’s best for the city. I don’t see no reason in buying fill dirt from someone when we have that hill available.”

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Information from: The Anniston Star, http://www.annistonstar.com/

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-CS-01-27-10 0852EST

 

It’s game on for Olympic collectibles ahead of Vancouver

NEW YORK (AP) – Forget limited-edition gold bottles of Coca-Cola and pricey replicas of the Olympic torch. Driving the merchandise machine ahead of the Vancouver Games is a $10 pair of cozy, red mittens helping to raise money for host athletes.

Organizers outfitted thousands of torchbearers with the knitted mitts that sport the Olympic rings and a white maple leaf in each palm. More than 1.5 million pairs have sold since October, enough for at least 1 in 34 Canadians.

“They’ve really taken the nation by storm,” said Dennis Kim, director of licensing and merchandising for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, which is using about $4 from each sale to support the country’s quest for first-time gold on home turf.

With less than a month to go before the Winter Games’ opening ceremony, it is game on in all areas of Olympic merchandising, from “Future Olympian” sippy cups to vintage apparel.

Are people feeling spendy in these still-shaky economic times?

“It’s anyone’s guess at this point,” said Sally Parrott, senior marketing director at Aritzia, a chain of high-end boutiques. “I feel that people are starting to bounce back.”

Aritzia has partnered with Park Life for a laid-back, retro and graphic street line of fashions and accessories. The Vancouver logos and those of previous games were used on a set of white socks, for instance, and there is a fur-lined jacket with Olympic patches in charcoal.

At ralphlauren.com, buyers can personalize Olympic polos with their own names. A top seller for Nike is a red, beanie-style knit hat with a pompom.

Among collectibles, Coca-Cola is offering the shiny gold bottle of Coke with the Vancouver logo. Luxury jeweler Birks designed a sleek, limited edition desktop replica of the torch in a Canadian Alderwood box.

Birks used the Inuit-inspired emblem of the games, a graphic interpretation of an inukshuk, on sterling silver pendants, keychains, cufflinks and bracelets. Organizers say the human-like form with open arms is a symbol of welcome.

For ski, snowboard and ice hockey fans, cowbells await as the traditional way to cheer in Vancouver. Organizers have designed a retro, brass cowbell in large and small sizes with a hand strap to keep them from flying.

For fans left behind but looking to throw an Olympic party in front of their huge-screen TVs, there is Mario & Sonic at the Winter Games for Wii. Selections to compete at home include four-person bobsleigh and wand-driven ice hockey. Be sure to ask guests to bring along their own wands, or stock up yourself.

License holders, sponsors and others tied to the games embrace the honorary Olympic sport of trading and selling lapel pins, pins and more pins. Just about every symbol, special interest or participant is represented in pins, with an official club online at vancouver2010.com.

Looming large in retail pins are the official Olympic mascots: Quatchi, Miga, Sumi and a muskrat pal named Mukmuk. Suggested retail prices range from nearly $7 to $12.00, with accessories that include carry bags and albums.

Pins, to the hard-core, are all about the hunt. They also comprise about 18 percent of the organizers’ overall licensing business for the Vancouver Games.

Al Falcao, 70, of Markham near Toronto, has been collecting Olympic pins for 22 years.

“If you can buy it, I’m not interested,” he said. “When I see a pin, I set my mind on ‘Hey, I gotta get that.’ Once I got it, I’m on to the next one.”

Falcao has been asked by Coca-Cola to serve as informal “pin ambassador” during the games. He caught the bug after Calgary in 1988 and has been to every Olympics since 1992, promoting the hobby at alspins.com.

Generally, he said, the scarcer the pin, the more he wants it. That includes pins created by security organizations for internal use, like those of the U.S. Secret Service. He also covets pins with media logos and special issues kept under lock and key by sponsors before the games.

Even the humble Olympic mitten became scarce with stores selling out before Christmas, but there is now plenty to go around. The mittens fill huge bins at the flagship Olympic Superstore inside the Bay, run by the Hudson’s Bay Co. in downtown Vancouver.

“It’s a very accessible way for people to join in,” said Valerie Arntzen, 57, as she picked up five pairs there.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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