Originally created 02/11/02

Odds and ends



YORK, Pa. -- York County Prison officials have set down a new policy for inmates: Condiments will cost you.

Starting Monday, prisoners will have to purchase items like ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar if they want to spice up their meals.

Warden Thomas Hogan said the policy is being implemented to save money, and because prisoners often trash the condiments.

"They just throw them away," Hogan said. "They're wasted."

Hogan didn't have a price list for the items, but a letter sent to The York Dispatch by prisoner Leroy Freeman and signed by 20 inmates said the prison will charge 8 cents for a ketchup or relish packet, 10 cents for a mustard or tartar-sauce packet, $2.10 for 100 sugar packets, 25 cents for 10 salt or pepper packets and 6 cents for an Equal packet.

"Now the county is attempting to serve such a meal that my dog would refuse, without salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, and etc.," Freeman wrote.

The inmate called the measure a "blatant display of not recognizing our human rights."

But Larry Frankel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Pennsylvania chapter, isn't sure the inmates have a case.

"I don't think anybody has a right to condiments," he said.

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SINGAPORE -- For Valentine's Day, Singapore's Night Safari is hoping local couples will go wild.

Night Safari, a wildlife park that features nighttime rides through eight geographical zones with more than 1,000 nocturnal beasts, will offer a "love tram" for the Valentine holiday.

The $163 Gourmet Safari Love Express package lets amorous nature lovers dine on a tram outfitted with candlelit tables for two as it trundles slowly past the wildlife.

Recession-struck Singaporeans may find the price tag a little steep. Of the 12 tables available, only eight have been reserved, said Robin Goh, a spokesman from the zoo.

The handful of couples that board the love tram will cruise along a two-mile trail past sloth bears, swamp deer, one-horned rhinoceroses and screw goats, so named for their unique spiraling horns.

The nocturnal animals will be taking part in their nightly rituals, which typically include eating, playing and grooming, said Goh.

"If they do mate it's a bonus for the couples, of course," he said.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State Sen. David Klindt considers himself a down-to-earth type of guy. So much so that he thinks Missouri should have an official state soil.

As a House member a couple of years ago, Klindt sponsored legislation to designate a variety of dirt called "Menfro soil" as Missouri's official soil. The bill never came to a vote then, but on Thursday his proposal went before a Senate committee.

"Menfro soil is one of the more widely known soils in the state," said Klindt, a farmer from northwest Missouri. "In fact, the state Capitol sits on it, and it runs along the Missouri River bluffs."

Menfro is a deep, well-drained, moderately permeable soil found along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their major tributaries. It makes for prime farmland for soybeans, corn, grains, hay and pastures.

Klindt's proposal is backed by the National Association of State Soil Scientists and the soil and water conservation districts, which promote soils nationwide.

"It will be educational, talking to students about the importance of soil and conservation," Klindt said.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- If you're going to the Winter Olympics, bring a warm coat - preferably with deep pockets.

With the games opening Friday, prices in downtown Salt Lake City are soaring like an Olympian off the 90-meter ski jump.

A pint of beer almost doubled to $6.25 at the Port 'O Call restaurant. A downtown parking garage is boosting its day rate to $30, from $5. And dinner specials at the Metropolitan are $95 a person - triple what its most expensive entree used to cost.

"It's called Olympic greed," said Michael Taylor, who runs the garage, located two blocks from the Salt Lake Ice Center. "It's all about making money."

While Olympic organizers have discouraged price gouging, Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce President Larry Mankin makes no apology for the dramatic markups.

"Free enterprise is a wonderful thing," said Mankin. "You can charge what the market will pay. Isn't this a great country?"