Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cheetah runs free in plane cargo area

ATLANTA | A Delta baggage worker got a bit of a fright when she opened a jetliner’s cargo door and found a cheetah running loose amid the luggage.

Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said Friday that two cheetahs were being flown in the cargo area of a passenger flight from Portland, Ore., to Atlanta a day earlier when one escaped from its cage.

Ms. Talton said the airline summoned help from an Atlanta zoo. Experts rushed to a closed airport hangar, tranquilized both animals and took them back to the zoo.

The airline is now working to get the big cats back to their owners. Ms. Talton declined to identify the owners, citing Delta’s privacy rules.

The good news: The cheetah didn’t damage any luggage.

Marathon a big day for toilet company

NEW YORK | More than 2,000 portable toilets have arrived in New York City to take care of the needs of the thousands expected to compete in the New York Marathon.

The largest group, more than 1,600, are stationed at the Staten Island end of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, where 39,000 runners will start Sunday morning on a 26-mile course through the city’s five boroughs.

The toilets are stationed along the marathon route at a rate of about one per mile with 300 more at the finish line in Central Park. The park gets the best-looking ones, colored green to fade into the background.

The marathon is the third-biggest portable toilet event in the U.S., after the Rose Bowl Parade and the Sturgis, S.D., motorcycle rally.

A Royal Flush, a Connecticut company, has been supplying toilets for the marathon for 15 years. Bill Malone, the owner, said the company has about 8,000 toilets and assembling one-quarter of them for a single event involves intricate logistics.

An even bigger headache is removing them quickly. Work begins as soon as the race is over, with johns cleaned and out of the city by Monday morning.

“It’s not a glamorous business,” Mr. Malone said.

Book returned after 61 years

TULSA Okla. | A library book checked out from a Tulsa high school in 1947 has been returned - with a $250 check to cover overdue fees.

Holland Hall School librarian Betty Niver says the book “New Word Analysis: Or School Etymology of English Derivative Words” was mailed to the school by Martha McCabe Jarrett.

Mrs. Jarrett, of Venice, Fla., was Martha McCabe, a sophomore, when she signed out the book 61 years ago at what was then Holland Hall School for Girls. She recently found it while cleaning out her other home in Rome, Ohio.

“It was just there, with the things I enjoy and my kids don’t,” she said Friday.

In a note sent with the book, she included the check to pay any fines. But she wasn’t sure how she wound up with the book. “I don’t know if it was something the library was getting rid of, or my Latin teacher had given me, or if I just kept it,” she said.

“I sent it back just because I value the education I got at that school.”

School officials said they were not sure what they will do with the $250 because there is no specific overdue book fund. It might be put toward student scholarships.

Gunman arrested after holding students

STOCKTON SPRINGS, Maine | Police say a gunman held 11 fifth-graders hostage at an elementary school in Maine but was tackled by a state trooper and taken into custody without any harm to the children.

Chief Deputy Robert Keating of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department says the students were safely removed from the school.

The gunman was identified by police as Randall Hofland, a 55-year-old man who fled police last week after pointing a gun at an officer during a traffic stop.

Stephen McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety says Mr. Hofland walked into a classroom Friday morning. The gunman had released the students by the time he was tackled 30 minutes later.

The school in the small coastal town of Stockton Springs has about 80 students.

Minor quakes hit north Texas, Oklahoma

DALLAS | Several minor earthquakes gave some Texas and Oklahoma residents an early Halloween scare, but no damage or injuries were reported.

A magnitude 2.5 quake at 11:25 p.m. Thursday near Grand Prairie was followed by a series of small earthquakes in the Dallas suburb, then a magnitude 3.0 quake at 12:01 a.m. Friday in nearby Irving, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Irving police received 911 calls from about 25 people saying they had felt the quakes, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, Officer David Tull said Friday morning.

USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin says aftershocks could last several days.

On Thursday, a magnitude 3.1 quake was reported about 11:30 a.m. near McCloud, Okla., some 180 miles north of the Dallas area, according to the USGS. There were no reports of damage or injury there, either. The Oklahoma quake is considered a separate event from those in Texas, said USGS geophysicist Jessica Sigala.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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