The Power of Love

It wasn't such a funny valentine for thousands of Hoosiers.

A heart-shaped Mylar balloon took out an electrical substation near South Bend, Ind., Sunday night, cutting off power to 2,100 homes and businesses.

"It said 'I Love You' on it," Mishawaka Utilities (search) General Manager Phil Miller told the South Bend Tribune. "It looks like someone didn't hold onto their Valentine's gift tightly enough."

Miller said the balloon's wet string hit a bank of capacitors as it drifted into the substation at around 7:30 p.m., causing what must have been some spectacular short circuits.

"Just about everything north of Douglas [Road] was out," Miller told the newspaper. "The mall, the restaurants, the theater — you name it."

All affected residents got their power back within an hour, but the person who lost the floating valentine won't be getting that back.

"[The balloon] didn't look too pretty when we pulled it out of there," Miller said.

Next Time, We'll Tow the Ambulance Instead

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Dublin International Airport (search) pledged Tuesday not to tire-clamp any more ambulances after one was disabled while trying to get a seriously injured passenger to a local hospital.

The ambulance was given the clamp — better known in the U.S. as the "Denver Boot" — Saturday even though it was parked in a section reserved for emergency crews immediately outside the entrance.

"It's mind-blowing," said David Hall, owner of the privately run Life Line Ambulances Ltd. (search) "No inquiries were made about the patient, to find out how acutely ill they were before the clamp was applied."

He said the episode had distressed the patient and embarrassed the ambulance crew. Irish media identified the patient as a man in his 30s who had been badly injured on a skiing vacation.

"The airport police could have easily made a phone call to the owner of the company — me — if there was a problem," Hall said. "You don't just apply a clamp to an ambulance on an experimental basis."

The police also refused to accept the ambulance company's credit card to pay the $82 fine. Instead, paramedics were required to withdraw their own money from an ATM.

— Thanks to Out There reader Peter L.

Elderly Woman Sends Cops to Hospital

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A 79-year-old woman has been charged with using her wooden cane to strike police officers who arrived at her home to check on her welfare.

St. Joseph County prosecutors said the officers came to investigate a possible domestic abuse charge against Betty Chambers' live-in caretaker, Thomas Holleman, 57.

As the officers tried to handcuff Holleman, Chambers allegedly struck Officer Lonny Foresman over the head with her cane, prosecutors said.

Foresman suffered a mild concussion while Sgt. John Pavlekovich suffered a separated shoulder and hand injury, said Jaimee Thirion, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph County police.

Prosecutors charged Chambers and Holleman on Tuesday with resisting law enforcement and battery.

"This is a serious concern because police are there to protect all of us," said St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak.

— Thanks to Out There reader Kim W.

Detroit: Meanest City in America

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit is a chilly town — in more ways than one.

The Motor City produces the most calls to the Rejection Hotline (search), a free telephone service that allows uninterested objects of affection to blow off come-ons.

It works like this: You're asked for your telephone number by someone in which you have no interest. You might sound receptive by responding, "248-262-6861."

When that number is dialed, this is what they get: "The person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number. Maybe the idea of going out with you just seems as appealing as playing leapfrog with unicorns."

The voice is that of Jeff Goldblatt, a 27-year-old Emory University (search) student who developed Rejection Hotline in 2001. It now serves 29 cities in the United States.

The Detroit line has logged more than 1.2 million calls since it was launched last year, making it the most dialed of the 29 hotlines.

Cher Wardlow, who was given the number about a year ago, wasn't amused.

"It was mean," said the 30-year-old store manager. "I was kind of insulted. I didn't think I was all bad. I thought he had lot of nerve."

Thief Steals From Collection Plate at Funeral

CLOVIS, Calif. (AP) — Police here are looking for a collection plate crook who swiped church donations during a funeral service.

The theft occurred Feb. 4 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, where nearly 150 mourners attended memorial services for 85-year-old LeRoy Adolph.

The amount of money stolen is unknown, but Pastor Bruce Neff said the gold collection plate was overflowing with donation envelops for the church and notes of condolences for the Adolph family.

"It's a sad day when somebody has to steal from a church," Neff said.

Neff said two men in suits were seen near the collection plate as funeral services ended.

Ron Adolph, LeRoy Adolph's son, said he fears the theft is the work of scam artists who read funeral notices in the newspaper and attend services to steal money.

"Stranger things have happened," said Adolph, a retired sergeant with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department (search).

The Clovis Police Department has asked mourners to contact their banks and cancel payment on their donated checks.

Church Gives Out Money — but Wants It Back

GROVE, Okla. (AP) — Usually, parishioners offer money to their churches. This time, the church handed out money.

Pastor Steve Dyer of the Newsong Church gave $14,000 to congregation members to invest for seven weeks, after which they are to bring the money and profits back to the church to be used in missionary work.

"The idea has always been in the back of my mind," said Dyer.

Loud gasps were heard throughout the 125-member, interdenominational church as the envelopes containing $100 and $50 bills were ripped opened after the Sunday sermon.

Dyer had placed crisp $100 bills in red envelopes for adults and $50 bills in green envelopes for school-age children.

"That is going to be a lot of fun," Dyer said. "A lot of people already have ideas."

Dyer said the church isn't keeping track of who has the money. He only gave one stipulation: It was not to be used to buy lottery tickets or to gamble.

Teacia Williams, 14, of Grove said she is going to use her $50 to buy newspaper ads advertising her availability to baby-sit.

"I plan on doubling the money," she said.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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