Originally created 11/05/04

Odds and Ends



OSWEGO, Kan. - And you thought the hot air ended when Election Day arrived: Labette County election officials pulled out a hair dryer to solve a jam in an electronic scanner.

Problems started when the county clerk's office began counting 805 advance ballots just after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Election officials tried to fix the machine and called a technician from the scanner's manufacturer, but a concerned citizen stepped up with her own idea.

Dee Brown, the sales manager at Flesh Co., a Parsons printer, suspected humidity may have swelled ballots sent by mail. She suggested a hair dryer.

"I work with paper all the time, and I knew it was probably moisture," said Brown, who was observing the vote count.

After a hair dryer was located, workers tried it out. Ballots still didn't feed perfectly into the scanner, but the situation improved.

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Want to get elected to the Springdale City Council? Don't spend a dime or give a speech, say you're too busy to campaign, then drop out of the race.

Hey, it worked for Mike Overton.

"I didn't have time to do any campaigning and spent no money on campaigning," the Springdale real estate salesman said.

Overton defeated Rex Bailey for the spot with 53 percent of the vote. Bailey, who captured 47 percent, said he raised more than $12,000.

"I ran as hard as I could," Bailey said. "He beat me. I congratulated him."

Overton withdrew from the race in October, saying he didn't have time to serve because of his business interests. But the ballots were printed before that announcement.

Overton says he'll take the job anyway.

"After what I consider to be a mandate, considering the circumstances, I think it's my obligation to serve after the confidence the average citizens have placed with me," Overton said. "I'm humbled and, at the same time, ecstatic over the outcome."

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - Dr. Andrea Shaer, in labor with her third child, wanted to vote before she went to the delivery room.

But with more than 100 people lined up at the polling station at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Shaer changed her mind.

Shaer, a nephrologist, or kidney doctor, gave birth to a son, Jack, and returned to vote Tuesday night 30 minutes before the polls closed, intravenous drip in tow.

"Knowing how close the race is in Pennsylvania and being a mom, with all the issues there, I just had to try" to vote, Shaer said.

Shaer works at the medical center. She awoke at 5 a.m. Tuesday when her water broke.

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CHICAGO - A groundskeeper found a rusted, hollowed-out shell of a grenade in the right-field turf of Chicago's Wrigley Field.

The dud was found Tuesday morning by a worker at the home of the Chicago Cubs. The police's Bomb and Arson investigators were called to examine the device, which they found to be empty and harmless.

"This thing was absolutely nothing more than a piece of scrap metal," police Cmdr. Irene Jones said.

Investigators said there was no way to determine how the device ended up on the field, but added that no break-ins were reported at the ballpark.

"Somebody probably had a few drinks and lobbed it over the wall," Town Hall District Capt. Bill McCorry said.