Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
FEBRUARY 23, 1999:
Dateline: Thailand--Shortly after a ceremony to mark the
50th anniversary of the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm & Zoo,
a glass tank containing two crocodiles and 66.6 cubic yards of
water burst, sending onlookers fleeing for their lives. The special
tank was built to house two freak crocodiles, one with six legs
and one with five. Following the torrent of water, which swept
several people from their feet, the two freak crocodiles attempted
to escape the broken tank, but were quickly recaptured by zoo
workers. The Samutprakarn Farm, located on the outskirts of Bangkok,
is home to more than 60,000 crocodiles and is believed to be the
world's largest center for breeding crocodiles in captivity.
Dateline: Oklahoma--Nursing students at the Francis Tuttle
Vo-Tech College in Oklahoma City got some unexpected hands-on
training when a baby decided to crash their class. Pregnant student
Elizabeth Atoyebi was determined to take her pharmacology exam,
but abruptly went into labor as she walked to class. Health instructors
Valerie McCartney, Linda Dawkins and Diane Gremillion led their
students through a crash course in baby birthing. Baby Michael
was delivered at the school and was later taken to the hospital
with his mother. Both mother and son are doing fine. As a birthday
gift, the school awarded Atoyebi's 6-pound, 9-ounce son a tuition
waver if he ever decides to attend.
Dateline: Kansas--The tiny town of Agra, Kan., has an uplifting
new identity thanks to a graffiti artist. About two weeks ago,
someone scaled the town's water tower and painted a "v"
and an "i" in front of the town's name, resulting in
a giant metal billboard that now reads "viAgra"--the
brand name of a well-known impotency drug. Mayor Merle Barnes
announced last week that the vandalism would most likely stay.
"I'm not going to go up there and paint it," Barnes
said. The paint job has even landed the small community of 300
a little national recognition. Radio personality Paul Harvey reported
it on his program last week.
Dateline: Michigan--Lincoln Park High School, located in
a working-class neighborhood south of Detroit, is being sued by
the American Civil Liberties Union for not allowing a student
to practice her religion--in this case, witchcraft. Seventeen-year-old
honor student Crystal Siefferly was banned from wearing a pentacle,
a symbol important to her Wicca religion, under the school's new
policy which bans "witches, white supremacists and Satanists."
The ACLU called the school's actions unlawful and asked the court
for a preliminary injunction while the case is being heard to
lift the ban against wearing a pentacle or pentagram. The five-pointed
star, enclosed in a circle, is worn by witches as a symbol of
air, water, fire, earth and spirit. Wicca is recognized as a religion
by the U.S. federal courts and the U.S. Army. In a news conference
last week, Siefferly said she was "humiliated" by being
grouped in with Satanists and white supremacists.
Dateline: Michigan--A 24-year-old man who allegedly shouted
obscenities after falling out of a canoe was ordered to stand
trial last Monday by a judge who ruled the outburst violated an
1897 state statute against swearing in front of children. Timothy
Boomer, 24, was cited by an Arenac County Sheriff's deputy last
August after police said he cursed a blue streak within earshot
of a woman and her young children on the Rifle River in northern
Michigan. Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union argued
Boomer's words were free speech protected under the First Amendment
and lobbied unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed last month.
Boomer, who said he did not know the children were nearby when
he fell out of his boat and unleashed his verbal displeasure,
could be sentenced to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine if convicted.