Mayor Gets Very Public Nasty Message

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It's not exactly what you'd want to read if you were mayor.

Earlier this month, West Palm Beach, Fla., Mayor Lois Frankel put up an electronic message board by the side of the North Dixie Highway (search) to empathize with drivers held up by construction.

"I Am Mad Too! — Lois," it read, causing some measure of amusement for local newspaper columnists.

Last Tuesday morning, someone apparently sick of the message hacked into the board's control unit and put up his own, very vulgar, retort.

And we do mean vulgar. The Palm Beach Post, the Associated Press and most local television stations wouldn't say what the new message was, but WTVJ-TV of Miramar, Fla., posted an altered photo of the sign with the letter "F" clearly visible.

Whoever the prankster was, he relocked the case for the sign's keyboard, ensuring that morning commuters were treated to the blunt suggestion until road workers managed to shut the sign off altogether soon after 9 a.m.

David Giancola of the sign-leasing company told the Palm Beach Post it wouldn't be too hard to break into one of the signs, but that he'd never seen such rank obscenity.

"I've been here for five years and that's never happened," he said to the newspaper. "I've seen them shot up, turned over, flipped around, graffiti on them — but nothing like that."

Frankel didn't take the apparently personal message personally.

"It's a silly response," she told the Post. "I understand the frustration, but this is a very special week for us to give joy for all the blessings that we have."

She couldn't say whether there would be an official investigation of the incident.

"I'll leave that to the police," she said. "I don't know what they're doing. I think they have enough things on their mind."

— Thanks to Out There reader Harley W.

Riding Shotgun on the School Bus

ULYSSES, Ky. (AP) — A school bus driver is back on the job after letting a hunter ride shotgun.


Kathy Laney was suspended indefinitely in September by the rural Lawrence County school district — and could have been fired — after she stopped along her route with 10 youngsters aboard and gave a lift to a squirrel hunter carrying a 20-gauge shotgun.

Parents were outraged over her suspension and swamped the central office with calls and petitions demanding she be allowed back.

Administrators let her return to her route after suspending her for 30 days and requiring her to go through additional training. She has been back on the job for two weeks.

"She's an excellent employee," said John Thompson, the school district's transportation director. "We didn't want to lose her."

Parents plastered her bus with signs and banners welcoming her back.

Administrators concluded Laney drove Ralph Music only a matter of yards to get him past some threatening dogs. Laney said she recognized Music and was certain he would not harm the youngsters, who included her own children and the hunter's grandson.

"I know I made a mistake," Laney said. "I didn't realize he had a gun. I knew he was holding something. I thought it was a cane."

Thompson said Laney had an unblemished record in her six years as a bus driver.

"And parents love her," he said.

— Thanks to Out There reader Tom F.

Potty Tipping All the Rage in Alabama

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A new crime has reared its stinky head in southeast Alabama: Potty tipping.

Someone has been overturning portable toilets at four construction sites in the Dothan area, with one company reporting that four or five were flipped in a week. Several firms have complained.

"They are very upset about it," said police Capt. John Givens. "And we want it to stop."

Givens said it costs the companies to clean up the mess. So officers plan to step up patrols in areas where the vandalism has occurred.

"We have started paying closer attention to those sites," Givens said.

Anyone caught vandalizing a portable toilet would be charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Alleged Robber Forces Victim to Cash Check

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Police had help in tracking down a robbery suspect ... from the suspect.

Police Chief Tom Casady said officers investigating a Nov. 11 robbery had a strong clue in a $75 check from the Cass County Jail to 39-year-old Kevin Martzett.

Court records on the robbery say a 19-year-old Lincoln man was standing in his yard at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 11 when two men drove up, pointed a gun at him, forced him to get in their car and drove to an ATM.

The records say the men took $45 from the victim's wallet, then forced him to deposit the jail check, withdraw $60 and give it to them. The men then let the teenager go.

The victim identified Martzett — with help from the check — as one of the robbers. Martzett was arrested Wednesday on a robbery charge. The other suspect was being sought.

Cass County records show Martzett was arrested on Oct. 25 for failing to appear on a theft charge. He bonded out on Nov. 10.

Casady said jails typically write checks for inmates who have outstanding balances in their jail accounts when they are released.

Rescue Workers Called Out to Save Doll

KIRKLIN, Ind. (AP) — Rescue workers who responded to a report of an infant left alone in a vehicle found a doll in a car seat.

A woman phoned the Clinton County Sheriff's Department shortly before 4 p.m. last Sunday and said a baby had been left in a locked car in Kirklin, a town of 800 about 40 miles north of Indianapolis. The woman told the dispatcher she thought the child might not be breathing.

Sheriff's deputies, firefighters and emergency medical technicians raced to the scene and used a special device to unlock the car's door, said Sheriff's Department Lt. Joe Mink.

When officers opened the car door they discovered the supposed infant was a doll, Mink said. No further action was taken.

Two-Day Shipment of Awwwww

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — This delivery wasn't exactly what a North Carolina company ordered.

TwinStar Construction in Charlotte was expecting a shipment of parts from Georgia. When the package arrived, some of the parts were moving and covered with hair.

Four newborn kittens somehow found their way into the package, then survived a two-day journey without food or water.

Cathy Thomas, who works for the construction company, says the kittens were so young and tiny that they hadn't even opened their eyes. She says she took them home and began feeding them through an eyedropper.

Her twin sons named the cats Wild Thing, Georgia, Sparky and Boots. While the boys have taken a liking to the kittens, Thomas says she's looking to find homes for them.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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