Originally created 03/06/03

Odds and Ends

FAIRFAX, Mo. -- Farmer Gary Wennihan may have made a meteoric rise to wealth.

Wennihan, 60, was tossing aside rocks in his soybean field to prevent damage to his combine when he picked up a strange-looking rock in the fall of 2000.

It turned out to be a rare meteorite scientists say could be worth as much as $1 million.

Ben Rogers, a Northwest Missouri State University student who attends Wennihan's church, offered to take it to his geology professor.

After polishing away the layers of rust, Rogers and assistant geology professor Richard Felton found a shiny metallic surface.

"It was beautiful, almost like chrome, it was so shiny," Rogers said.

Felton's colleague, Renee Rohs, took the rock to a University of Kansas professor who taught her about meteors. Half of it was sent to the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico for more analysis.

A leading meteorite expert at UCLA concluded that nothing similar had ever been found.

Rohs said other meteorites have brought $500 a gram. After small samples were donated to three universities, there still were 1,800 grams - or 4 pounds - left of Wennihan's rock.

Wennihan is enjoying his treasure - whether it makes him a millionaire or not.

"I'm holding onto it until I get a good offer, and it may never come," he said last week. "I'm certainly not holding my breath. And in the meantime, I'm just having fun with it.

* * * *

RENO, Nev. -- For a while, it sounded like elk mating season at the Reno Hilton.

Fifty-eight elk buglers from across country took part Saturday in the 19th annual World Elk Bugling Championship.

The loudest sound wasn't always the top scorer.

"We tell our judges to listen to authenticity of sound - a sound an elk might make in the wild," contest coordinator Fred McClanahan said.

Seven judges rated cow- and bull-calling sounds on a 1-to-20 scale. Each competitor's highest and lowest scores were tossed out and the middle five averaged.

Taking top honors were Corey Jacobson of Boise, Idaho, in the professional division; Steven Stephenson of Meridan, Idaho, in the men's division; and Audrey Hulsey of Luna, N.M., in the women's division.

Hulsey, a six-time winner, said she has been competing since childhood and is encouraged to see many children taking an interest.

"Everybody I've come across thinks it's real cool," she said.

But 10-year-old competitor Scott Hanson, of Reno, also said he's aware some people think the high-pitched sounds are annoying. He learned how to make cow and bull calls in an elementary school elk bugling club.

"At my house, I have to go outside because my brother gets mad," Hanson said.

* * * *

LOGAN, Ohio -- They may have modern military equipment, but a U.S. Army tank company in Kuwait will keep its uniforms clean the old-fashioned way.

The Columbus Washboard Co. responded last week to a request by Capt. Phil Wolford, of Marysville, who commands the company of 75 soldiers.

Wolford explained that his troops out in the field have no way to wash their uniforms. He said members of his family have the company's washboards and they could use some.

Company owner Jacqui Barnett did better than that.

Along with 70 pine-and-spiraled-tin washboards stamped with the American flag and a "Proud to be an American" label, she and her workers tossed in bars of handmade soap, six washtubs, clothesline and clothes pins.

The Army has modern washer-and-dryer laundry services at its bases, but troops in the field often have to improvise.

The company manufactures about 35,000 washboards a year, which are shipped all over the world and used for laundering, musical instruments or decor.

* * * *

UTICA, Mo. -- A tractor-trailer crash caused quite a pickle when hot dogs spilled across a highway in northwest Missouri.

Thousands of Ball Park Beef Franks - some in boxes, some in shrink-wrapped packages and others scattered individually - were strewn across U.S. 36 just west of Utica after the top of the trailer split open.

The truck crashed early Friday as it came over the crest of a hill about 100 feet before the eastbound lanes merge from two lanes into one.

The transition involves a 30 degree curve to the left. The area is marked with a flashing warning barrier, as well as "Construction Ahead" and "Left Lane Ends" warning signs several hundred feet before the transition.

"I didn't notice the sign that said 'Left Lane Ends,"' said driver Charles Dennis, 25. "I thought the lane was going to merge into my lane. As I was going down the hill, I saw the flashing lights. I didn't expect the curve to be so close to the lights. I began braking and my trailer ended up in the median."

Dennis, who drives for C.R. England of West Valley, Utah, was not injured.


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