- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2006


Divers buy property under water

PLAINVILLE — It’s been supersized, made entirely of chocolate and played upside down for 36 hours. So taking the game of Monopoly under water wasn’t too far-fetched for scuba-diving students at Plainville High School.

It just made the game a little more difficult to play.

Eleven members of the school’s scuba club played the board game Friday while submerged in 12 feet of water in the school’s pool.

Designed by club member Tim Porter, the board was printed on a 4-by-4 piece of Plexiglas.

Students were split into teams and took turns playing for 30 minutes. They had to learn hand signals to buy, sell and trade property.


Tropical Storm Zeta drifts from land

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Zeta, the 27th named storm of a record-breaking hurricane season, drifted westward across the Atlantic yesterday, and forecasters said it might weaken during the day.

Zeta had top sustained winds of about 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters said it was not expected to become a hurricane or threaten land.

The storm developed Friday, about a month after the end of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It tied a record for the latest developing storm since record keeping began in 1851.

The 2005 season featured 14 hurricanes, including Katrina, which devastated Louisiana and Mississippi in August and became the most costly disaster in U.S. history. The named storms exhausted the list of 21 proper names, and meteorologists began using the Greek alphabet to name storms for the first time.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Epsilon became only the fifth hurricane to form in December in all the years of record keeping.

Forecasters predict that hurricane seasons will be more active than usual for at least another decade.


Mayor violates law with a snowball

TOPEKA — Not only did Mayor Bill Bunten miss a tree while throwing a snowball at it, he also violated a city ordinance.

Kristen Aberle, of Thawville, Ill., wrote to Mr. Bunten after the little-known Topeka ordinance was pointed out as a “Dumb Law” in her government class.

“I thought somebody was pulling my leg,” the mayor said. “But I checked, and she’s actually right.”

Mr. Bunten admitted that his fastball missed the tree by about 30 feet, but he said that did not make his crime any less serious.

“After I write to you, I am going to the police station and report myself and throw myself on the mercy of the court,” Mr. Bunten said in a letter dated Dec. 27. “After that, I’m going to have an ordinance drawn up to repeal this Dumb Law lest our already-crowded prisons are filled up with children who, while making a snowman, got carried away and had a snowball fight.”

Violators could be fined up to $499 and jailed for 179 days for breaking the rule, which also prohibits stones and “other missiles.”


Great Lawn events come to quiet end

NEW YORK — An era of huge public happenings on Central Park’s grandest open space, the Great Lawn, has come to a quiet end.

Starting in 2006, the parks department will allow no more than 50,000 people at a time on the 13-acre green oval, the site of some of the park’s most memorable events.

Paul Simon played the lawn in 1991, drawing a half-million people. Luciano Pavarotti sang opera to a throng almost as large. Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass on the lawn in 1995 before 125,000 faithful. In 1982, hundreds of thousands attended an anti-nuclear demonstration.

As memorable as those events were, they did awful things to the park’s grass, city officials said.

The city began limiting the size of events there in 1997, but a move to formalize the limit did not take place until 2004, when parks officials turned down an anti-war group’s request to hold a 250,000-person demonstration on the Great Lawn during the Republican National Convention.

Concerts will not go away entirely. Future events that will squeak under the 50,000-person limit include shows by the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.


Thief takes beef from upscale grocer

FORT WORTH — Police have a beef with a thief in Cowtown.

Someone broke into a refrigerated trailer behind an upscale grocery store and stole about $15,000 worth of beef, Fort Worth police said.

The frontier Army post was dubbed “Cowtown” around the 1860s or ‘70s when it became a major stop for cowboys herding their cattle to Kansas and Missouri.

The 16 cases of meat were stolen sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from the backup storage container, Fort Worth Police Lt. Dean Sullivan said.

A store official declined to comment, saying the theft is under investigation. Police have no suspects, Lt. Sullivan said.


Snowshoer missing after avalanche

SALT LAKE CITY — Two snowshoers were caught in an avalanche Saturday high in the mountains of Provo Canyon, and one remained missing when heavy snow and the threat of more slides forced rescuers to call off the search.

The missing man’s companion rode out the avalanche and called for help.

Noise from a rescue helicopter triggered several more avalanches in the area, putting ground patrols at risk, said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Darren Gilbert. The aircraft had to turn back because of the heavy snow.

A second helicopter landed about 1,000 feet below the slide and flew the companion, Jeff Frederick of Salt Lake City, to the Aspen Grove trail head. He was in fair condition at a local hospital, Sgt. Gilbert said.

The two snowshoers were experienced in the outdoors, but did not carry emergency locator beacons, which allow searchers to pinpoint victims buried by snow.


Cat locks woman out of her car

MORGANTOWN — Locking yourself out of your car is bad enough, but Jeanna Stewart was even more embarrassed when the culprit was not her, but her cat.

The Morgantown resident said she was getting a spare house key out her car’s trunk on Monday when her cat Mork, one of three in the car, stepped on the automatic door lock. She couldn’t unlock the door because she had left her car keys on the driver’s seat.

“He wouldn’t unlock the door for me,” Miss Stewart said. “He was standing there, saying: ‘Why aren’t you opening the door? I want to go inside.’”

Miss Stewart went into her house and called the fire department for help.

“They rescued my three little kitties,” Miss Stewart said. “I didn’t need a rescue for me, just for them.”


Liar becomes two-time champion

BURLINGTON — Don’t believe a word Bill Meinel says. He’s a World Champion Liar — no, really, he is.

Mr. Meinel won his second title this week from the Burlington Liars Club with the fib: “My son’s high school grades went from all A’s to all D’s. This happened right after he had his wisdom teeth extracted.”

Mr. Meinel, 62, also won the contest in 2003 with this tall tale: “My wife is so indecisive about choosing paint colors, our 1,800-square-foot home is now 1,000 square feet due to all the coats of paint.”

Mr. Meinel said his latest winner comes from a line he used to pull on students.

“Whenever one would tell me they were going to miss class to have their wisdom teeth pulled, I would suggest they take all their tests ahead of time,” Mr. Meinel said.

John Soeth, president of the club, said Mr. Meinel’s lie was the best of nearly 400 entries this year.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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