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Nation news briefs
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CONN. BOY, 6, KILLED HELPING DAD WITH WOOD CHIPPER: SALEM, Conn. (AP) — A 6-year-old boy helping his father on a landscaping job during school vacation was killed Tuesday after getting pulled into a wood chipper, state police said.

Jeffrey Bourgeois was putting a branch in the chipper at about 8:45 a.m. when it yanked him into the machine after his father momentarily turned his back, said Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman. The accident happened at a home in Salem, a town of about 4,000 people nearly 30 miles southeast of Hartford.

Vance said the accident was so terrible that grief counselors were called to the scene.

"The little guy was apparently trying to help his dad," Vance said. "It's a very tragic and difficult scene for everybody."

GINGRICH CAMPAIGN BOUNCES CHECK FOR BALLOT: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich may not appear on Utah's ballot if he doesn't pay his filing fees soon. His campaign's first check bounced.

Mark Thomas, director of elections for the lieutenant governor's office, says the Gingrich campaign filed papers and dropped off a $500 check in March. Thomas says the state later learned the check bounced.

Allyson Isom, a spokeswoman for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, says the Gingrich campaign had been notified "by both electronic and traditional mail that their check bounced."

It wasn't until Tuesday that the state heard back from the campaign, which said it would make good.

Thomas says he was told the campaign had merely switched bank accounts but would remedy the situation.

CORONER: GUITARIST MONTROSE COMMITTED SUICIDE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The death of rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, who formed an eponymous band in the 1970s and played with heavy hitters such as Van Morrison and Herbie Hancock, has been ruled a suicide.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports  the San Mateo County coroner has concluded that Montrose took his own life last month at his home in Millbrae, Calif.

His widow, Leighsa Montrose, tells the newspaper that her 64-year-old husband was tormented by clinical depression for much of his life. She says he suffered from severe self-doubt that caused him to harshly evaluate his performances, even on nights audiences gave him multiple standing ovations.

Leighsa Montrose says her husband left no suicide note. She says she was bewildered by his decision to take his life, especially since he spent two years being successfully treated for prostate cancer.

'SIMPSONS' CREATOR: REAL SPRINGFIELD IS IN ORE.: PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — One of the best-kept secrets in television history has been revealed, with "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening pointing to Springfield, Ore., as the inspiration for the animated hometown of Homer and his dysfunctional family.

Groening told Smithsonian magazine, published online Tuesday, that he was inspired by the television show "Father Knows Best," which took place in a place called Springfield. Springfield, Ore., is 100 miles south of Groening's hometown of Portland.

"When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name," Groening told the magazine ( "I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S.

"In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.' And they do," he said.

Groening said he has long given fake answers when asked about the Simpsons' hometown, leaving open the possibility that his latest one is itself another fake.

LUCASFILM ABANDONS CONTROVERSIAL STUDIO PROJECT: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A company owned by filmmaker George Lucas said Tuesday it has abandoned plans to build a big digital production studio on historic farmland in Marin County, citing opposition from neighbors worried about its impact on the environment.

Lucasfilm Ltd., the force behind the Star Wars movies, said it pulled the plug on the Grady Ranch project and planned to construct new facilities elsewhere.

"We have several opportunities to build the production stages in communities that see us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire," the company said in a statement.

Lucasfilm said it hopes to sell the land in Lucas Valley to a developer interested in building housing for low-income residents.

The Marin County planning commission unanimously approved the studio project in February. Backers said it would generate jobs and revenue for the local economy.

But plans for the 270,000-square-foot complex prompted fierce opposition from homeowners who said it would generate noise, traffic and environmental damage on the pristine countryside about a half-mile north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

GERALD FORD GRAFFITI POPS UP IN MICHIGAN HOMETOWN : GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Former President Gerald Ford is remembered in his hometown of Grand Rapids by a museum and a stretch of interstate. Now, a graffiti artist has decided to memorialize the 38th commander in chief on the freeway that bears his name.

Several stenciled Ford images have popped up recently along east I-196 in the West Michigan city. One is accompanied by the phrase, "I am indebted to no man" — words spoken by Ford in 1974 after he took the oath of office. It was taken from the full quote, "I am indebted to no man and only one woman, my dear wife, Betty, as I begin this very difficult job."

"They do seem fun and playful, ignoring the fact that it's defacement of public property," James Draper, registrar at the Gerald R. Ford Public Museum, told for a story Tuesday. Draper said he was speaking personally and not on behalf of the museum.