Originally created 09/24/01

Odds and ends



YAKIMA, Wash. -- We cannot tell a lie: George, Wash. is up for sale.

Most of the little central Washington town, founded in the 1950s by an entrepreneur who thought the state ought to have a town called George, goes on the auction block this month.

Mayor Elliot Kooy says the No. 1 selling point is location.

"I think it has extremely good access to the freeway," he said Wednesday.

Most of the property is undeveloped, but it does include Martha's Inn Cafe, famous for - what else? - cherry pie, along with a gas station and a 10-acre mobile-home park.

Colliers International and Auctions Inc. is offering about 300 acres of the 330-acre town for sale.

"Since 1998, we've invested over $4 million in the city's infrastructure," said Pete Smith, the municipal public works director. "George is a fertile environment, poised for development and we welcome the growth."

One big improvement has been the installation of a sewer system for this town of 500, Kooy said.

A man named Charlie Brown developed the city of George with his wife, Edith, and planner M.R. Wolfe of the University of Washington.

* * * *

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A teen-ager was trapped in chest-deep mud for about 10 hours after his friends dared him to walk through a mud pool at an abandoned mine site.

Justin Underwood, 15, is now "just fine," said Roleana Treadway, his stepmother.

Underwood and friends were at the mine on Sunday when friends dared him to walk through the mud, said Trap Hill Fire Chief Larry Reedy. As he was walking, Underwood stepped into a deep hole and got stuck.

His friends tried for six hours to get him out before calling the fire department. Firefighters pulled him out of the mud.

"A vacuum had been created because of the mud," Reedy said.

Pat Brady, district manager for the federal Mine Safety Health Administration, said no fines will be leveled against Anchor Energy, the company that owns the mine.

"The company considers these young people trespassers," Brady said. There are signs posted on the land clearly stating it is private property.

* * * *

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Missing: one date. Cost to the state: $15 million.

A mistake made in the rush to craft this summer's budget bills is forcing Minnesota to spend an extra $15 million on schools this year.

The mistake was made in a bill provision on "equity revenue," designed to equalize aid between rich and poor school districts. The money was supposed to start flowing next summer, but those who drafted the bill didn't put in a beginning date. By default, that put the program in place this year, and checks began going out July 15.

The expenditure reduced the state's rainy-day fund to $235 million, instead of $250 million. But schools welcomed the unexpected funding boost.

Officials blamed the mistake on the chaos that accompanied the crafting of a crush of spending bills in the last few days of a special legislative session.

Aides say the state has not decided whether to try to get the money back. Education Commissioner Christine Jax sent a letter to school superintendents Aug. 9 warning them that it might.

"Because this error potentially puts the state budget out of balance, you should use caution in making decisions about using these dollars," Jax wrote.

* * * *

DECATUR, Ark. -- Local officials may be hoping for an odd number of voters when they hold a runoff in the Decatur School Board election.

Fourteen people voted Tuesday to decide who would join the school board. Staci Brinkley and Mark Betts each drew seven votes, forcing a second round of voting on Oct. 9.

County Clerk Mary Lou Slinkard said she initially thought the election could be settled by drawing lots. But state law stipulates that a runoff is necessary when a race involving two candidates ends in a tie.



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