Originally created 01/13/04

Odds and Ends



SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Tired of seeing their 117-year-old community confused with its neighbor to the north, residents are considering a name change.

Several names have been bandied about, including Soho, from the New York City neighborhood whose name comes from "south of Houston Street." Another possibility is Crossroads, suggested because of the city's proximity to the crossroads of U.S. 50, Kansas 96, Kansas 61 and Kansas 17.

Business owners say people often confuse South Hutchinson and the southern part of Hutchinson. A group of South Hutchinson retailers are forming their own Chamber of Commerce and plan to ask the City Council for a name change.

The proposed name change and withdrawal from the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce has not met with unanimous support. Lynnette Lacy, Hutchinson chamber president, called South Hutchinson's decision to form its own group "unfortunate."

"I think a small community needs to collaborate to compete in a very tight job market and we're all kind of competing to get businesses and jobs here," she said. "We'd all do better to work together."

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NOVI, Mich. -- It is a warning label that may seem perfectly logical - to fish: A 5-inch fishing lure with three nasty steel hooks advises that it is "Harmful if swallowed."

If only carp could read.

The label took fourth place in the seventh annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. But organizers of the contest, the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, say it highlights the lengths to which manufacturers will go in order to avoid lawsuits stemming from misuse of consumer products.

"Wacky warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times," said Robert B. Dorigo Jones, president of the nonprofit group working to raise public awareness of how the explosion in litigation is harming the country.

"It used to be that if someone spilled coffee in their lap, they simply called themselves clumsy. Today, too many people are calling themselves an attorney."

Taking first prize last week was a warning found on a bottle of drain cleaner. The label reads: "If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product."

The $250 second prize went to a Virginia man who sent in a label on a snow sled that advises users: "Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions."

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TOKYO -- Stealing juice can be a costly endeavor in Japan.

Police have nabbed two Japanese men for siphoning off electricity in heists worth less than 1 cent each, an official said Sunday.

A 38-year-old man was caught red-handed by a patrolling police officer last September after unplugging a business' neon sign and using the electricity to recharge his mobile phone.

The other culprit, a 22-year-old university student, was giving a street performance in November when he unplugged a vending machine in order to power his portable stereo. A police officer was alerted after local residents complained about the noise.

Police said they could not let the incidents slide, even though the men are believed to have stolen $0.0094 worth of electricity. Both men confessed and have gotten off with reprimands.

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EVERETT, Wash. -- The county jail got a new inmate - unexpectedly and very briefly - when a prisoner gave birth to a baby boy.

The emergency delivery, the first birth ever at the Snohomish County Jail, was handled by staff nurses about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, and the mother and her healthy baby were taken immediately to Providence Everett Medical Center by ambulance, jail spokesman Jim Harms said.

"The medical staff said that all looked well," said David Oster, the jail's counseling supervisor.

The mother, Elaina Rae Hood, 43, of Marysville, about halfway through a one-year sentence for drunken driving, had not told guards or officials at the jail she was pregnant, nor was she required to do so, officials said.

Hood was transferred to the jail in Everett from the minimum-security Indian Ridge Corrections Center near Arlington after she complained of cramps Wednesday morning. She gave birth in a fourth-floor cell shortly after nurses discovered she was in labor.

Hood must return to jail once she is medically fit, Harms said. He said he did not know what would happen to the baby when that happens.

Hood could complete her sentence in three months with time off for good behavior, he added.