Originally created 08/12/02

Odds and ends



SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Don't worry, Toledo. The guinea pigs are on the way.

One hundred guinea pigs boarded the Peninsula Humane Society's Winnebago on Monday and set off for a cross-country adoption trip to reduce the San Francisco Bay area's guinea pig glut.

More than 20 children and volunteers waved goodbye Monday and held signs that said "Toledo or bust" as the Winnebago broke through a crepe-paper ribbon across the parking lot, headed for its first stop, Salt Lake City.

The bus will follow Interstate 80 to Toledo, Ohio, making several stops along the way.

"Rescue railroads are common for dogs, but not for guinea pigs," said Teresa Murphy, founder of a guinea pig rescue group.

About 300 of the little critters were dropped off at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Monterey County after a couple who bred them for medical research was evicted from their home.

Many of the females were pregnant, and the society soon had 450 animals. Another 187 guinea pigs showed up after being confiscated by animal control officers in Hollister.

The humane society came up with the idea to use Rover, its 33-foot mobile adoption van, to deliver the homeless rodents to people across the country who could promise them good homes.

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- When a funeral home limo shows up at your house, it's usually not a happy time. A group of morticians want to change that - if only for a few days a year.

In a nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote effort, the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association plans to drive up to 500,000 Americans to the polls this year using limousines normally for funeral processions.

"It's a way to use the limousine at a positive time, instead of a sad one," said Baltimore funeral director Hari P. Close II.

The program started six years ago in Maryland. It is a partnership between the association's 2,300 members, the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Last year, about 376,000 people in 45 states got rides to their polling places from participating funeral homes. This year, organizers will offer the service for primary elections in August and September and for the Nov. 5 general election.

Voters can arrange rides to the polls by calling their nearest Urban League or NAACP office or a participating funeral home.

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BURLINGTON, Iowa -- A farmer with an aversion to taxes wants the proceeds from the sale of his farm to help his neighbors handle their tax burdens.

Dewey Byar's 310 acres, grain bins and livestock equipment will be sold at auction on Aug. 17. The proceeds will be used to establish a trust, with the annual income used to reduce property taxes in Des Moines County, said Kent Gaudian, co-executor of the trust.

Byar, who died in April 2000 at age 68, spent most of his life on the farm his parents bought in 1951. He left only to serve in Korea.

"Dewey didn't like paying taxes," said Gaudian. "In fact, it was probably his least favorite thing to do. To him, this was a charitable way to make a difference."

Byar sold bales of hay and straw on the honor system. People could come into a building, pick up what they wanted, and place money in an envelope.

"It's just a theory of mine," said friend Ronald Stigge, "but the residents of Des Moines County helped him make his money, so he's just returning it."

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MARTIN, Tenn. -- Preacher Lindell Doty didn't know he was running for constable - until he had already won the election.

Doty won on a single write-in vote - the only vote cast.

Doty said Friday he didn't know who the voter was, "but it was either my worst enemy or my best friend."

No candidates were on Thursday's ballot for constable in two of Weakley County's nine precincts, including Doty's precinct in Martin. Constables are elected from each precinct.

The write-in voter took advantage of the ballot void to make Doty his or her choice.

Constables are elected law enforcement officers, generally in small, rural counties, who are paid fees for things like serving legal papers. They also can help local police agencies if called upon.

"I guess I need to find out what it is, what it involves and that kind of thing," said Doty, 62. "If it's something that would be good for the community, I might do it."