Four Females Fight for French-Fry Freedom

Four Texas middle-school girls are fighting for freedom — the freedom to eat french fries, that is.

"Keep fries!" and "We love our food!" are among the slogans being tossed around Lancaster Intermediate School (search), reports the Dallas Morning News.

In March, the four sixth-graders — Alejandra Fernandez, Alexis Merritt, Jessica Story and Dylan Williams — read that under new state nutritional guidelines, public schools would be ordered to limit their cafeteria servings of french fries.

"French fries and other fried potato products must not exceed 3 ounces per serving, may not be offered more than three times per week, and students may only purchase one serving at a time," reads the official policy on the Texas Department of Agriculture's Web site.

To the 'tweener quartet in the Dallas suburb, those were fighting words.

"We really like fries, and when we saw they were taking them, we got mad," Jessica, 11, told the newspaper.

"They didn't ask us; they're just taking away our rights," said Dylan, 11.

"Why do they get to make the decisions about us?" asked Jessica. "We're pre-teens, almost grown-ups."

The four girls promptly dubbed themselves "the french-fry committee" and began circulating a petition reading "VOTE FOR THE FOOD YOU WANT! NOT WHAT THEY WANT!" They've gotten about 300 signatures so far.

"I only eat at school when we have fries," said Alexis, 11. "Those other days I bring my lunch."

The angry four plan to talk to local politicians and even to the Texas Department of Agriculture (search).

"We'd love to work with them," Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs said. "Maybe then we'd have a good conversation about how they like their potato products."

Besides, Combs added, "we're not anti-potato; we're anti-grease."

Lancaster Intermediate's assistant principal, Gene Morrow, is rooting for the girls, though not out of any love of french fries.

"I call this a teachable moment," said Morrow. "I want my kids to be thinking outside of the box. I want them to have an opinion."

The four girls understand that the state is trying to combat childhood obesity — "they should have us exercise," said Dylan — but vow not to give up the fight.

"Some people might say, 'Why fight for french fries? It's small,'" Jessica explained. "But if we don't fight this, they might take away pizza and hamburgers."

— Thanks to Out There reader Cory D.

Thanks for All the Hard Work — Here's Your Barbie Dolls

Hourly workers being laid off at a Tennessee textile plant found something they didn't expect in their severance packages: three red-headed Barbie dolls.

The other items in the package were a company hat, a plaque, a calculator and a $100 Wal-Mart gift card, according to The Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tenn., quoting an employee who didn't want to be identified.

The Sevierville plant is being closed this month by Dan River (search), a major textile maker that went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of March as it tries to compete with lower demand and Asian competition.

A rumor about the Barbie dolls made workers angry, the anonymous employee told the newspaper, and the anger level rose when it turned out to be true. Some dolls were thrown in the trash, while others were given to Toys for Tots, he added.

"It's a shame that Dan River has been around all these years and this is all they can give to the employees that mean the most to the company," said the worker, who kept the items in his severance package.

Hourly workers over 55 who had been at the company five years would get some vacation pay after being laid off, according to The Mountain Press.

"I want to reiterate that we are doing our best to help the employees," said Joe Bouknight, vice president of human resources at Dan River's headquarters in Danville, Va. "I understand they are upset about losing their jobs, but we have done all we can."

Bouknight would not comment about the contents of the severance packages.

— Thanks to Out There reader Rachel C.

City Street Gives Birth to Naked Man

Residents of Pocatello, Idaho, were a bit startled to see a man calmly pop out of a street manhole, naked as a jaybird.

"I noticed as he came out of the manhole cover [that] he wasn't wearing anything," eyewitness Noreen King told KIFI-TV of Idaho Falls about the incident at 4:30 p.m. last Thursday afternoon.

"He was nice enough to put the cover back on," added King. "So I called 911 to let them know there was a naked man that just climbed out of the sewer."

The Pocatello Police Department did not return the TV station's calls.

Boy Almost Eaten by Alaska Bear

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 15-year-old boy on a wilderness expedition for emotionally troubled youths woke up to find a 400-pound brown bear with a bad attitude sitting at his feet.

After trying unsuccessfully to back out of the tent, the boy was bitten in the forearm and decided to fight back, punching the bear with his left hand a half-dozen times, Alaska State Trooper Adam Benson said Monday.

When the teenager tried to run, the bear bit him again below his ribs, this time leaving a half-dozen puncture wounds on his back, Benson said.

The boy punched the bear again, and again she let him go, but chased him around a nearby stand of trees.

The boy eventually remembered an air horn in his gear, and blew it in the bear's muzzle, waking others in the camp, said Steve Prysunka, director of the six-week "Crossing Wilderness Expeditions for Youth" program.

Prysunka asked that the boy not be identified.

The bear finally turned and ran away after counselors blasted her with pepper spray and fired a flare at her feet, Prysunka said.

Later Saturday, following the morning attack, officials found the bear in the campsite area on Deer Island in southeast Alaska and killed her.

The boy was flown out to a hospital, where he was treated, then sent home to Barrow to give his wounds time to heal, Prysunka said.

"I think he is the biggest, baddest thing in the woods. He punched the bear," Prysunka said.

Turkey Tries to Come to School

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — As hunters leave the city for the spring turkey hunting season, some gobblers are finding refuge strutting around inside the city limits.

Linda Knott, a teacher at St. John's School, recently saw one of the large birds land on a windowsill at the school.

"I said, 'Hey, you guys, there's a turkey on the windowsill,'" Knott recalled.

By the time her colleagues came into the room, the turkey had flown away. Knott's co-workers started making jokes about Knott's bird identification skills.

The jokes stopped moments later when a student reported seeing a "big chicken" on school grounds.

Lincoln Animal Control officials said they have received a lot of calls about turkey spottings recently. Most of the calls have come from the city's edges.

More turkeys are being seen in Lincoln because the wild turkey population has grown significantly in recent years, said wildlife biologist Kit Hams with the state Game and Parks Commission.

Turkeys may be new to Lincoln, but in other parts of Nebraska, the birds are almost a common sight. One such place is Boys Town, where a flock of turkeys has roamed for years.

Dog Survives Plane Crash, Captured by Audiotape and Vienna Sausages

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Volunteers armed with Vienna sausages and a tape recording of Tom and Betty Kuffel's voice managed to coax the family's skittish dog back into safety.

Valkyrie, a German shepherd mix, had survived an April 17 small plane crash with the Kuffels, but was spooked when rescue crews arrived and ran off.

Valkyrie was spotted Monday, said family friend Barbara Palmer.

Rescuers didn't want to scare her, "so they got back in the car and played the tape recording of Tom and Betty's voice," Palmer said. "When she heard Betty and Tom's voice, 'Here Valkyrie, here baby, good girl!' she just ran and jumped in the car."

Volunteers took her to a vet, where she was given food and water.

"It's a miracle," Palmer said. "There were people that drove in from all around who said they came to help look for the dog. I mean dozens of people. We kept running into people who were flashing their cans of Vienna sausage. And they really smell."

The Kuffels' single engine, home-built plane crashed on the Montana-Idaho line after their carburetor iced up in a snowstorm.

Betty Kuffel, whose leg was broken in three places, has been released from the hospital. Tom Kuffel has had five operations on his crushed right foot and has nine pins in it.

Tom Kuffel said he's overwhelmed by the effort of those looking for his dog.

"You think people couldn't really be that nice. Then it happens to you, and you just can't believe it," he said.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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