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Names In The Game

April 8, 1995

DETROIT (AP) _ Bill Laimbeer and Vinnie Johnson, who were teammates on the Detroit Pistons, plan to go into business together in a box factory.

Johnson will be a majority owner of Piston Packaging, Inc., and Laimbeer will be his partner.

The company plans to start renovations at a former Cadillac factory this week and will hire about 125 people, Johnson said. The building is in the city’s federally designated ``empowerment zone,″ which qualifies it for tax breaks and other incentives.

Piston Packaging will make corrugated boxes for shipping small and medium-sized items, primarily for the Big Three automakers and their suppliers, Johnson said.

``We wanted to be in Detroit and bring some jobs to Detroit,″ Johnson said. ``Detroit was very supportive during my career, and I thought this would be a good business for Detroit.″

Last year, Laimbeer and his father bought a division of Chicago-based Stone Container Corp., a corrugated box manufacturer. It was renamed Laimbeer Packaging Co. and had about $50 million in revenues last year. It employs 270 people at plants in Detroit and Melvindale.

Laimbeer’s father, William Laimbeer Sr., is a 25-year veteran of the box industry.

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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) _ Lewis Keller plans to reopen an historic golf club next month, 91 years after it closed.

The Oakhurst Links was founded in 1884 as a 6-hole course by Russell Montague, not too far from The Greenbrier resort, for him and four friends to play. The layout closed in 1904.

Keller doesn’t know what to expect from the venture, but he said the project isn’t about money.

``It’s not something that we’re dependent on to be a financial success,″ Keller said. ``It’s a success as we see it because we’ve restored golf history.″

Keller, a 72-yer-old New Yorker, didn’t envision the sweeping restoration when he arrived in White Sulphur Springs looking for a summer home in 1959. He bought the course and clubhouse as a retreat and later used the property to raise thoroughbreds.

Three years ago, at the urging of LPGA official Phil Patton of Jupiter, Fla., golf writer Dick Taylor of Pinehurst, N.C., and Atlanta golf designer Bob Cupp, Keller and his son, Lewis Keller Jr., began the restoration.

It’s a nine-hole, 2,250-yard course and the lasting impact on most probably will be the way the game is played at Oakhurst.

Players will use hickory stick clubs with wooden heads. They also will use gutta-percha balls and aim shots around the sheep that double as fairway tractors.

Oakhurst has nine members, businessmen from around the country. Membership costs $2,000 plus an annual fee of $325 per year.

The course also will be open to the public, with $45 green fees that include the use of a set of hickory sticks for a round. Golfers also must purchase gutta-percha balls at $2 each.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ A lawyer for the University of Arkansas says Devin Elliott, the costumed Arizona mascot known as ``Wilbur Wildcat,″ has no case against the school because his fight with the Razorback’s costumed hog was planned.

Elliott asked the Arkansas Claims Commission for $100,000 as compensation for injuries suffered when Arkansas’ mascot tackled him during last year’s Final Four in Charlotte, N.C.

His complaint says he required knee surgery because the tussle caused a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament. It asks for compensation to cover medical expenses, lost income and ``physical and emotional suffering.″

Ginger Crisp, associate general counsel for Arkansas, filed a response with the claims commission saying Elliott knew Razorback mascot Gary Dickison was going to tackle.

Crisp’s response says the mascots ``communicated with each other throughout on the tactics to be engaged in.″ Elliott expected Dickison to tackle him and the injury occurred when Elliott’s foot caught on the gym floor, Crisp said.

Crisp also said Elliott has already been compensated through insurance.

``It kind of blows me away that he is actually going through with this,″ Dickison said.

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou received the Golden Order of Merit on Saturday, the highest honor given by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

The ceremony was witnessed by former Olympic marathon champions Sohn Kee Chung of Korea, Gelindo Bordin of Italy and Rosa Mota of Portugal and current champion Hwang Young Cho of South Korea.

The presentation was made a day before the World Cup Marathon, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Olympic marathon. The runners will trace the 3,000-year-old route of the original run from Marathon to Athens.

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