Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "2008 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 13, 2008

Lawnmower men

If a riding lawnmower ambling through downtown Glen Falls, N.Y., just after midnight on Nov. 14 wasn't enough indication of foul play, a man riding on the hood of the mower gave watching police all the probable cause necessary for an unusual traffic stop. When officer Seth French approached the two men-driver Donald L. Johnson and rider Carl W. Critelli-the 42-year-old Johnson was not only drunk, but also admitted he had been smoking marijuana. Johnson attempted to explain that he was taking the mower to a local pub-in order to sell it. Police charged Johnson with driving while impaired and dealt him 10 traffic tickets. Critelli was cited for not wearing a safety belt.

Cart, horse

Perhaps in haste to be the first public group to do so, school board members with the Hempstead Union Free School District in Long Island voted unanimously to rename Ludlum Elementary School in honor of the soon-to-be 44th president, Barack Obama, weeks before the Illinois senator will take office. Board Members in Hempstead, N.Y., agreed to the change at the request of students of the African-American and Latino dominated school. But Barack Obama Elementary probably won't be the last bit of public Obamamania prior to Inauguration Day. Another school in Long Island and one in Portland, Ore., could consider changes in December or January. And the Prime Minister of Antigua says he would like to rename the Caribbean nation's highest peak Mount Obama.

Winner saves all

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A lottery winner in New York promises his $3 million prize from a scratch-off game won't change his life. "I don't want this to change my style of living," Milton Dominguez Estrada, 47, told The New York Post. "I will continue to work." And that's exactly what he did. After winning the lotto on a lunch break on Oct. 17, Estrada says he "[calmed] myself down and [went] back to work." The Long Island school janitor opted for an annual payout of $150,000 a year for the next 20 years. Estrada said he would take a "long-awaited vacation" but save the rest for his three children's college education.

Arrested development

Gassy middle-schoolers be on guard: Your flatulence might land you in a place worse than detention. A 13-year-old student at Spectrum Junior-Senior High School in Stuart, Fla., found out the hard way on Nov. 4. According to a Martin County Sheriff's Office report, the unidentified student purposefully passed gas several times in his computer class, an act that "continually disrupted the classroom environment," the report said. He also apparently pranked other students by flipping off their computers. The teacher sent the student to the office of the school's resource officer who arrested the boy and charged him with disruption of school function. He was released to his mother.

Deep undercover

German police in Bochum used a mail-order catalog to help solve the case of a serial burglar in the North Rhine-Westphalia town. Police suspected the burglar who had been nabbing laptops around town had a hideout and stash in a local forest. So officers purchased a pair of tree costumes for about $130 each out of a catalog and waited for delivery. Once the costumes arrived, two cops donned the outfits and made way for the area of the forest identified by a tipster. The two officers reportedly waited for eight hours-looking either like a small Christmas tree while standing or a heap of moss while seated-before the burglar returned to his lair. After a brief struggle in their costumes, police arrested a 39-year-old Romanian man who allegedly traveled to Germany to commit the burglaries.

In for a penny

A penny not paid could land Eileen Wilbur in legal trouble. The city of South Attleboro, Mass., billed the 74-year-old Wilbur for one cent she owes on her utility bill. The letter also threatened Wilbur, who is blind, with a $48 tax lien if she doesn't pay up. A city spokesman said the collector's office automatically printed bills for all residents who owed money. A penny for Wilbur's thoughts? "They wasted taxpayer money on the letter," she said, noting the 42-cent postage on the notice.

Following his namesakes

With a name like his, it's no surprise 20-year-old Dalcapone Alpaccino Morris has found himself on the wrong side of the law. Apparently named after the infamous Chicago mobster (Al Capone) and the actor who portrayed Tony Montana in Scarface (Al Paccino), Morris has been held in the Montgomery County, Ohio, jail since an October arrest for felony possession of cocaine in October.

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