Originally created 07/17/04

Odds and Ends



OTTAWA, Kan. -- Neighbors in a subdivision in this small eastern Kansas community have been out of the loop for weeks. Some sly fox had been stealing their Kansas City Star newspapers.

The bold burglar crept onto driveways while subscribers slept, grabbed a paper and ran.

The case was finally cracked this weekend when Steve Thompson caught the culprit: a red fox.

The fox had been taking the papers to a hollow behind the subdivision, Thompson said. He tracked the furry felon to a large pile of newspapers near its den.

"We always thought it was an early morning jogger," said Lionel Sutton, another subdivision resident.

The newspaper carrier even staked out the neighborhood to catch the canny criminal, Sutton said.

Aaron Scheve, a Kansas Wildlife and Parks ranger for the area, said such behavior is unusual, but not out of the ordinary. He said the fox probably used the papers to insulate its den.

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ARDMORE, Okla. -- Gene McMahan put the hammer down on a would-be robber.

The 68-year-old McMahan was behind the counter at Taylor's Liquor Store when he saw a man walk into the nearby Boy's Food Store and point a weapon at the clerk.

He grabbed his claw hammer, locked the liquor store and went next door to confront the robber.

"It was going to be him or me," McMahan said.

He said the man threatened to shoot him, a fight ensued and both lost their weapons. The money was dropped and the robber ran away.

Christopher Ray Smith, 22, was arrested by police in connection with the Tuesday robbery.

Police Lt. Rickey D. Lawrence said McMahan's crime-fighting behavior is not encouraged.

"There are times when things don't go right," Lawrence said. "Realistically, it's best for citizens to get a description and a direction of travel and let us find the subject and put him in custody."

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EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. -- Sandi Bryan gave the state her two-cents worth over the five cents they claim she owes.

When the Washington state Department of Employment Security notified her that she owed money for an unemployment compensation overpayment more than six years ago, she picked up the phone.

She was being threatened with court action over a nickel.

Bryan said she asked the state employee who took her call on a toll-free line whether she should mail in a nickel taped to a piece of paper.

"I said, 'Do you realize for this nickel, you paid an employee to type this ... (spent) 37 cents for postage, and you want me to pay for a money order and the postage?"' she said.

The response was that the money had to be paid properly.

Bryan said she was overpaid when she was on unemployment for about three months more than six years ago but thought she had paid it all back.

That was until she got a notice dated June 18 that demanded payment of five cents, after which "the Superior Court warrant will be satisfied immediately."

Employment Security spokeswoman Kristin Alexander said the overpayment notices are sent to about 70,000 people a month with the average amount about $1,000.

"Typically we do require payment to be made in whole, (but) in the case of a nickel, we would usually make an exception," Alexander said. "Had she spoken to me, I would have taken a nickel out of my purse and paid it for her."

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BLACKSVILLE, W.Va. -- A man smoking in a portable toilet lit up more than a cigarette.

The potty exploded Tuesday when a buildup of methane gas mixed with the lit cigarette, said a spokeswoman for Monongalia Emergency Medical Services. The methane didn't "take too kindly" to the lit cigarette, she said.

Emergency workers said the man was not severely injured and drove himself to the hospital after the stinky, smoky mess.