Originally created 01/16/04

Odds and Ends



GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A suspect was linked to a series of bank robberies by his own bad spelling, police said.

Robert C. Whitney's consistently confused the words "dye" and "die" in robbery notes given to bank tellers, police said.

A note used in a Gainesville robbery read "If a die pack blows, so do you," said police Sgt. Keith Kameg. The same wording had been used on notes in two Volusia County robberies, he said.

"If anything says education is important to your future, this case says that," Kameg said. "As simple as spelling one word wrong was instrumental in solving three bank robberies."

Whitney, 39, was arrested in Leon County last week, and was also wanted in Hillsborough County. Gainesville police issued a warrant on Tuesday.

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DALE, Pa. -- Officials in this small borough are playing dirty, refusing to pick up garbage from about a dozen delinquent customers after nearly two-thirds of trash pickup clients failed to pay their bills.

More than half of Dale's 746 customers owe a combined $16,000. As landfill rates and fuel costs drive up the cost of garbage disposal service, borough officials Tuesday stopped picking up trash for about a dozen delinquents.

"We are not playing games anymore," said Councilwoman Lisa Howard. "Anytime you put garbage out and you have a bill in arrears, you are stealing from the borough."

From now on, customers who are behind by two billing cycles or more will not have their garbage picked up, said officials in the borough 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. If garbage piles up, police could cite residents up to $300 and court costs for scattering rubbish, police Cpl. Conrad Dill said.

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LONGMONT, Colo. -- In just over a month, Sarah Stern's life of solitude was shattered twice - when separate vehicles slammed into her corner house.

For more than two decades, Stern lived here quietly. But that streak came to a screeching halt when a car and a truck crashed into her house within 32 days.

The most recent crash occurred Monday as a pickup truck fled from police after allegedly causing a nearby accident.

As the truck was turning at Stern's corner, it skidded on some ice and crashed through a lilac bush and the pillars supporting Stern's porch canopy. The truck came to a rest in her driveway. Police arrested the driver.

The more serious accident happened Dec. 10, when a car plowed into Stern's living room, destroying a picture window that is still boarded up because workers cannot find a suitable replacement.

"The insurance company can't believe it either," Stern said Monday. "I've lived here since 1981. We've never been hit. Now, we've been hit twice in a month."

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ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- A stretch of Interstate 70 was turned into a shallow sea of red sauce, dented cans and broken bottles when a tractor-trailer rig carrying Del Monte tomato products overturned.

The truck spilled 40,000 pounds of ketchup, tomato juice and spaghetti sauce over the eastbound lanes of the freeway west of here on Tuesday.

Traffic had to be rerouted via U.S. 40 while workers spent three hours sopping up the mess.

State troopers said the accident occurred when a car drifted into the left lane and struck the tractor-trailer. Neither driver was hurt.

A food pantry in Zanesville benefited from the mishap. About 1,500 pounds of mixed vegetables, ketchup and spaghetti sauce salvaged from the wreckage were delivered to Christ's Table.

"It saves us a lot. It's a bunch of stuff we didn't have to spend money to buy," said John Willhelm, kitchen supervisor at Christ's Table, which serves lunch to about 300 people daily and provides food to needy families.