Day Care Center Throws Cocktail Party

A bunch of California toddlers are driving their parents to drink.

When the Children's Center of San Lorenzo Valley (search), a day care center and preschool in Ben Lomond, Calif., found out Santa Cruz County had cut its funding for the second year in a row, staffers and board members reached for the bottle.

They hired Ray Pearson, a spirits expert from Orange County, who planned to host a fund-raiser Oct. 16 for the center by teaching appreciation of single-malt Scotch whisky (search), reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

"There's a lot of chuckling when people think of someone as needing guidance in how to drink," Pearson admitted to the newspaper before asserting that his courses are "really educational."

At $35 a pop, adults over 21 will get a history lesson, a show-and-tell with authentic Scottish distillery items, including a chunk of peat, and, naturally, single-malt tasting.

"It's not a booze fest," Pearson, a former schoolteacher himself, made clear. "It's a whole lot more about the heritage."

Ben Lomond (search) is named after an imposing mountain in Scotland.

School director Karla Kleinsasser had to admit "there's been a lot of apprehension."

"Some staff didn't want the school associated with this," she told the Sentinel. "People said, 'Alcohol ruins families.' We knew it was a gamble."

Attendance had better be good, since the cost of hiring Pearson and renting out a community hall in Felton, a couple of miles downhill from Ben Lomond, comes to nearly $1,000.

Kleinsasser thinks it'll be worthwhile.

"We need to get a base of supporters outside our parents," she told the newspaper. "You can't just keep having Tupperware parties."

Sad Movie Makes Man Burn Down House

CORDELE, Ga. (AP) — A sad movie and a night of heavy drinking led a south Georgia man to set his house on fire, the man told police.

Charles Alton Adams, 32, walked into the Crisp County Law Enforcement Center shortly after midnight Thursday and told deputies he had burned down his mobile home.

He said that after watching the movie, he drank nine or ten beers and decided to set fire to pillows on his bed. Adams did not tell authorities the name of the movie.

"I have asked that question myself," said Crisp County Sheriff Donnie Haralson. "The whole thing just doesn't really make sense."

Haralson said Adams has been charged with arson. He remained in the county jail Friday morning as family members attempted to raise money for his bond.

Haralson said the doublewide home was gutted by the fire.

— Thanks to Out There reader James A.

Cabbie's Dream Fare Too Good to Be Legit

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A California man admits he hired a taxi driver to drive him and his concealed stash of more than 100 pounds of marijuana cross-country when they were stopped by a sheriff's deputy in Arkansas last year.

Brandon Coy Hill, 29, of Compton, Calif., pleaded guilty Tuesday in Pope County Circuit Court to possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Under the plea agreement, charges were dropped against taxi driver Erasmo Amaral, who helped authorities find Hill after Hill fled when the taxi was stopped.

"This is a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Amaral's attorney Jeff Phillips of Russellville said.

According to court records, Hill hired the California cab driver in late Oct. 2003 to take him from California to Jackson, Tenn., under the guise of needing to attend a college function.

Amaral's lawyer said Amaral was offered more than $2,000 to make the trip.

Twenty hours into the trip, Amaral was stopped by Pope County sheriff's Lt. Scott Rentfro on Interstate 40.

Rentfro said he was trying to get on I-40, and initially stopped Amaral because the taxi driver would not allow him to merge, staying in the right-hand lane.

The officer said he also noticed Amaral was driving slowly and erratically, according to court documents.

When Rentfro stopped the taxi, Amaral gave him consent to search the vehicle, although Hill appeared nervous and fled on foot, according to the police report. Rentfro then discovered 109 pounds of marijuana in Hill's suitcase in the back seat of the cab.

Amaral was arrested. Hill was captured months later after police tracked him down through addresses supplied by Amaral, based on where he had initially picked Hill up.

Amaral said he did not know Hill had the marijuana. His lawyer said it was somewhat common for taxi drivers in California to make lengthy trips for people who need to get someplace in a hurry.

Drunk Goes On Joyride — In Plane

PARIS (AP) — A young man who stole a plane and took a joyride in the night sky over France then slipped from the grasp of police has been found and detained for questioning, police said Thursday.

Despite strict anti-terrorism measures at airports all over the country, a young man in a "visible state of drunkenness" broke into an airport terminal in Coulommiers, east of Paris, at about 2:00 a.m. Wednesday and took a single-engine aircraft for a joyride.

He was detected by a French Air Force center after some 30 minutes in the sky, then signaled by radio that he had a fuel problem, police officials said.

A helicopter was sent up to escort the young pilot to Charles de Gaulle Airport, (search) the main Paris-area airport north of the capital. There, he was immediately detained by airport personnel — before managing to flee, police said.

From the beginning of the investigation, the police said they had a "serious lead" — the young man left keys to an apartment and numerous fingerprints in the cockpit.

Police would not immediately provide the young man's identity or specify when and where he was caught. He was being questioned at the police station in Coulommiers.

Cops Sniff Around for Reeking Bank Robber

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovaks were on the lookout for a foul-smelling bank robber Thursday after police said the thief had a nasty odor.

A gun-toting, masked man in his 20s, clad in a green sweat shirt, robbed a bank in the capital and took some $14,235 in various currencies, police said.

Police spokeswoman Alena Tosevova said what the bandit wore was not the most noticeable thing for workers inside the bank, but rather a strong smell which they reported to investigators.

Tosevova said it was unclear whether the smell was caused by the thief having stepped into dog droppings or whether he soiled himself during the robbery.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to