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 V.15 No.20 | May 18 - 24, 2006 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: England--A pet fish has been blamed for burning down a family home in Poole, Dorset. Kipper, an 8-inch catfish, is thought to have triggered the freak accident when it fought with a rival in its tank. According to an article in England’s The Sun, fire investigators believe that water splashed out of the aquarium and landed on an electric plug below. That sent a power surge up the tank’s light cable, causing the plastic lid to burn, which melted and dripped onto a leather sofa, which finally burst into flames. The flames soon engulfed the family’s living room. Luckily, a smoke alarm woke the building’s landlord, who rushed 25-year-old Sharron Killahena and her two children out of their upstairs bedrooms. The home was destroyed and all six fish in the tank died, but, “at least we are here to tell the tale,” said Killahena.

Dateline: FloridaA 74-year-old woman, who was bitten by an alligator while working in her backyard, successfully beat back the reptile with a garden hose. Constance Gittles of south Punta Gorda was watering outdoor plants last week when a 6-foot-long gator bit her leg just above the ankle. “I just whacked him right in the snout with the nozzle,” she said. “After that, he took off.” Gittles suffered three puncture wounds and some smaller scrapes in her confrontation with the beast. A trapper working with wildlife officials later caught the animal in a nearby pond.

Dateline: IllinoisScott Buetow, 35, is suing a marriage guidance counselor for having an affair with his wife. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Buetow had hired the therapist to improve his marriage. Instead, Don Blair began an affair with his wife that eventually caused the couple to divorce. Buetow’s lawsuit seeks more than $150,000 in damages from Mr. Blair and the counseling center where he works. “[Blair] had an obligation to provide services, and he willfully abused that for his own benefit,” said attorney Hans Mast, who represents Mr. Buetow. Mr. Buetow and his wife began seeing the counselor in April 2004 to “strengthen and stabilize” their 10-year marriage. While providing both joint counseling and individual therapy sessions, Blair allegedly started a secret romance with Buetow’s wife. The couple, who have four children, were granted a divorce earlier this year.

Dateline: MaineA North New Portland woman is accused of helping her daughter bake a batch of cookies laced with Ex-Lax for a mid-school teacher. Julie E. Hunt, 43, pled not guilty to the single charge of misdemeanor assault when she appeared in Skowhegan District Court last Monday. Hunt was arrested the previous Friday, after a police investigation into an attempted prank at Carrabec Community School. Hunt is accused of baking the cookies with three girls, aged 13 and 14. On April 10, the cookies were left on the desk of the teacher, who apparently gave a low grade to one of the teenage girls. A note accompanying the cookies said, “We made these cookies just for you, hope you enjoy them.” Unfortunately, instead of eating them, the targeted teacher shared them with her class. At least four children became ill from eating the cookies. The three minors have not been charged with a crime, but have been suspended from school.

Dateline: WisconsinAfter more than 12 years as an undergraduate, 29-year-old “perpetual student” Johnny Lechner has withdrawn his application for graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The withdrawal came just five days before commencement. Lechner, who has been at the university since 1994, said, “I realized that if I went one more year, I could study abroad. That’s one thing I haven’t done.” By this spring, he had completed 234 college credits, about 100 more than needed to graduate, and was working on seven more. That qualified Lechner for the school’s so-called “slacker tax,” a penalty that forces students who stay past the usual four to five years to pay double tuition. Had Lechner graduated at the end of the spring semester as planned, he would have earned a liberal studies degree in education, communications, theater, health and women’s studies. Michelle Eigenberger, an editor at UW-W’s campus newspaper The Royal Purple, said, “It’s getting old. For the sanity of the rest of the campus, we want him to get out of here.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

 

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