ATLANTA - Local officials want to help rid the city of crime and homeless people before the Olympics with stricter loitering laws and one-way bus tickets out of town.
Fulton County is paying the bill for one-way bus tickets for the homeless as long as the recipient promises never to return and can prove he has a family or job waiting at his destination, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday.
Advocates for the homeless say Project Homeward Bound, funded by a county grant, proves Atlanta's hospitality does not extend to everyone.
"They have you sign a statement that you won't return," said Robert Farrell, president of the Atlanta Union of the Homeless.
Mitch Skandalakis, chairman of the Fulton County Commission, said he had never heard of the grant or the program.
Project director Willie Chappell said the program is aimed at eliminating homeless people from "continuing to be a drain on the social service agencies in Fulton County."
Chappell said hundreds of people have been sent home under the program, which he said started in 1994 but was revised in February to add the no-return provision.
A proposed loitering ordinance would allow police to arrest anyone seen trying door handles and looking into cars in a suspicious manner. Convictions could result in six months in jail.
Heroics cost shot at Games
DULUTH, Minn. - Trying to save the life of an elderly neighbor has cost a young Duluth athlete his shot at competing in the summer Olympics.
Wayne Putnam, a 17-year-old Duluth East boxing star, was told by doctors last Friday that the injuries he suffered in a March 11 house fire were too severe for Putnam to compete for a national Golden Gloves title this week.
The National Golden Gloves Championship Bout was the hurdle that stood between Putnam and the tryouts for the 1996 Olympics.
"My hopes were so high. My mind, it was set that I was going to win," Putnam said.
"I worked so hard for it all these years and to not be able to go . . ."
Putnam lacerated his right hand, requiring 30 stitches, in an attempt to beckon Sigmund Einbu from his burning home. Einbu, 86, died in the fire, caused by a wood-burning stove.
"At the time, I didn't care. I was just thinking of Sig," Putnam said. "I'd do it all over again if I had to."
-- More tickets to the previously sold-out gymnastics and men's basketball finals will go on sale tomorrow. They are among 135,000 contingency seats originally thought to be unusable because they would be blocked by camera stands or other obstacles.
Seats for gymnastics, basketball, archery, badminton and track cycling go on sale at 9 a.m. through the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games' telephone ticket line and its site on the Internet.