Originally created 07/25/02

Odds and ends



ARCHBALD, Pa. -- A huge natural pothole hasn't turned into the tourist attraction that local officials hoped it would become.

Archbald Pothole State Park, centered around a pothole that is 38 feet deep and 42 feet wide, reopened five years ago after a $170,000 facelift. Organizers hoped the changes would make it the attraction it was about 100 years ago, but that hasn't happened.

"It never took off to the point where we hoped to see droves of people coming here," state Rep. Ed Staback said last week.

Instead, officials said, the pothole has simply become a prime location for trash dumping, vandalism and loitering.

Uncovered by a miner in 1884, the pothole was visited by people from around the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Officials said they hope more changes could bring tourists back to the pothole, which was formed by glacial movements about 18,000 years ago during the last Ice Age.

A 200-acre site just over the hill from the pothole that was formerly a strip-mining location has been cleared for recreational use. Staback said a project could start by fall that would add soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts and trails.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When a thief decided Sandra Boutwell's car was a good target, he probably didn't expect it to put up a fight.

David Christopher Lander, 51, of Gainesville, was arrested early Thursday morning after the car he was allegedly burglarizing locked him inside, Alachua County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Keith Faulk said.

The 1994 Infiniti is equipped with an anti-theft device that automatically locks the doors when the car alarm is triggered, Faulk said. When Lander entered the car, the doors locked.

"Had he pushed the button on the driver's side door, he could have gotten out," Faulk said.

When deputies arrived shortly after 2 a.m., they found Lander locked in the car.

"He was trying to hide, all scrunched down in the back seat," Faulk said. "I guess he thought deputies couldn't see him."

Deputies allegedly found in Landers' pockets a pendent valued at less than $50 and $3.21 in coins taken from the car. Lander was charged with one count of burglary of a conveyance and one count of theft.

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MANCHESTER, Conn. -- Police say they've solved the mystery of a cross-dressing Girl Scout cookie salesman.

Someone complained last week that a young man in a big, blond wig and red pleated skirt was going door-to-door taking orders for Girl Scout cookies.

Police say they learned the seller, who resembled country star Dolly Parton, was taking part in a summer camp initiation.

"It was kids goofing off," said Detective Sgt. Mike Ludlow.

He said a camp counselor called police to tell them it was all a prank and apologized. The counselor also promised they've seen the last of door-to-door Dolly.

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AMHERST, Mass. -- More than 20 years after she and her friends swiped a street sign, Elizabeth Cooper is giving something back to the town.

Cooper sent $300 to the Town of Amherst with instructions that it be used for "something serving the people of Amherst in some way." The check was accompanied by a letter in which Cooper apologized.

While she was a student at the University of Massachusetts, she said, many students returned the town's hospitality. But she wrote that others "were outrageously careless of others' right to peace and quiet and often actually destructive of other people's property."

She said that when she and other students found a sign on the ground one day, they took it home.

University of Massachusetts alumni records show Cooper was a member of the class of 1981, said spokesman Patrick Callahan.

Cooper said she was moved to send the letter and check after she read a letter to the editor of her local paper, in which the writer nostalgically recalled stealing pumpkins from a farm. She said the letter "got under my skin" because she lives on a farm.

It also reminded her what she had done.

Members of the Amherst Select Board were surprised and pleased by the check and were considering possible uses for it.