Published August 23, 2008
PHOENIX – When it comes to marking up historic signs, good grammar is a bad defense.
Two self-styled vigilantes against typos who defaced a more than 60-year-old, hand-painted sign at Grand Canyon National Park were sentenced to probation and banned from national parks for a year.
Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson pleaded guilty Aug. 11 for the damage done March 28 at the park's Desert View Watchtower. The sign was made by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the architect who designed the rustic 1930s watchtower and other Grand Canyon-area landmarks.
Deck and Herson, both 28, toured the United States this spring, wiping out errors on government and private signs. They were interviewed by NPR and the Chicago Tribune, which called them "a pair of Kerouacs armed with Sharpies and erasers and righteous indignation."
An affidavit by National Park Service agent Christopher A. Smith said investigators learned of the vandalism from an Internet site operated by Deck on behalf of the Typo Eradication Advancement League, or TEAL.
Authorities said a diary written by Deck reported that while visiting the watchtower, he and Herson "discovered a hand-rendered sign inside that, I regret to report, contained a few errors."
The fiberboard sign has yellow lettering with a black background. Deck wrote that they used a marker to cover an erroneous apostrophe, put the apostrophe in its proper place with white-out and added a comma.
The misspelled word "emense" was not fixed, Deck wrote, because "I was reluctant to disfigure the sign any further. ... Still, I think I shall be haunted by that perversity, emense, in my train-whistle-blighted dreams tonight."
Deck, of Somerville, Mass., and Herson, of Virginia Beach, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to vandalize government property.
They were sentenced to a year's probation, during which they cannot enter any national park or modify any public signs. They were also ordered to pay $3,035 to repair the watchtower sign.
The TEAL Web site now has only this message — "Statement on the signage of our National Parks and public lands to come" — without a period. (AP)
Florida Cops Taser Plop-Plop, Escaped Emu Who 'Went Crazy'
Bay County Sheriff's deputies were forced to use a Taser to subdue an escaped emu named Plop-Plop. The large female bird escaped from a farm last weekend and on Monday, she holed up with some horses and goats in a pen.
When deputies arrived, the emu "went kind of crazy," said Sheriff's deputy Randolph Grob.
The deputies didn't want the bird to hurt itself or them, so the used the Taser stun gun to immobilize Plop-Plop.
The emu was brought to the Bay County Animal Control Center, where she has made a full recovery. The bird's owner is expected to take her home soon. (AP)
Wisconsin Woman Booked for Ignoring Library Fines
A Wisconsin woman has been arrested and booked for failing to pay her library fines.
Twenty-year-old Heidi Dalibor told the News Graphic in Cedarburg she ignored the library's calls and letters as well as a notice to appear in court.
Still, she was surprised when officers with a warrant knocked on her door, cuffed her and took her to the police station to be fingerprinted and photographed.
Police Capt. Joe Gabrish says officers follow the same procedure with every warrant.
Library director John Hanson says a couple of dozen people are cited each year for failure to return materials or pay fines.
The incident cost Dalibor about $30 for the overdue paperbacks "White Oleander" and "Angels and Demons" and her mother nearly $172 to get her out of custody. (AP)
Sheriff Checks Self Into Jail
An Illinois sheriff may be taking his job a little too seriously as he goes behind bars — voluntarily.
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said his goal is to talk to inmates so he can see the jail from their perspective to solve potential problems, such as safety issues, and better understand the inmate experience.
While actual inmates bunk together in a cell, Curran will sleep in his own cell for his own safety reasons. He checked himself in on Wednesday.
"I want some introspection but let's be realistic. I'm never going to be able to completely create that scenario," Curran told The Associated Press by telephone from jail.
So far, Curran said he has met several inmates, not all of whom appeared to realize he was sheriff. For those who do recognize him, he said he'll have to work to gain their trust. (AP)
Dog Saves Cats
Forget what you know about dog and cat rivalries. One heroic pooch is breaking the mold.
A two-year-old boxer/pit bull mix that had been turned over to the Nevada Humane Society's shelter in Reno was credited with rescuing six abandoned kittens after he found the frightened felines in the bushes while walking with a pair of volunteers on a hot Nevada day.
The kittens were described as "frightened" and "hungry."
The dog, ironically named "Angel," even tracked down one of the kittens that escaped before shelter staff were summoned to the scene. (AP)
Lost Bet = Horse Kiss
A Utah county official made good on a lost bet — by puckering up for a pony.
Davis County Commissioner Alan Hansen found himself kissing a 3-year-old sand-colored horse named Reno after a contest between Davis County and the Davis Hospital Medical Center over who could lose the most weight.
Members of the team that shed the most pounds got to watch their boss kiss a farm animal. This year, the county employees won — losing 397.6 pounds, just slightly trimmer than the hospital workers.
Hansen was not around when his fellow commissioners locked lips with a cow over the weekend, but met up with Reno on the front steps of the county courthouse for a quick smooch.
But not before he slathered on some lip balm and popped a breath mint.
He told the mare: "This is more for you than me." (AP)
Lucky to Be Alive?
An Argentine man miraculously survived a suicide attempt after shooting himself in the head — five times.
The man, who was not identified, also shot himself in the stomach. Remarkably, he was still conscious when officers arrived.
So how did he survive? The gun powder in the old gun that he used did not explode with as much power, police said.
The commute to work turned into some serious monkey business for Japanese commuters after a slippery simian showed up at a Tokyo train station.
A standoff developed at the Shibuya Station after the wild monkey was spotted near ticket gates. About 30 cops, some with nets, chased the animal as commuters snapped photos with their cell phones.
The monkey escaped the officers and is still at large. (AP)
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Tom Durante.
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