August 29, 2013
Hole Makes Huge Pumpkin
Ineligible For Alaska Fair
Kenai, Alaska (AP) J.D. Megchelsen holds the record for giant pumpkins in Alaska, and the Nikiski gardener knew he had a candidate this year to beat the record of 1,287 pounds set in 2011.
But when a boom truck gently lifted the behemoth on Monday with rigging and a sling, the big pumpkin revealed a big disappointment: a thumb-size hole that will make it ineligible for the competition at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer.
“It’s not going to count,” Megchelsen told the Peninsula Clarion. “It’s a bummer, but it’s the rules.”
Entries must be free of rot, chemical residue and serious soft spots. They can’t have holes or cracks that reach the pumpkin cavity.
A scale on the crane indicated the big pumpkin weighed 1,500 pounds, but Megchelsen estimates the state competition scale would have registered closer to 1,420 pounds.
“It’s just killing him,” said Pam Elkins, Megchelsen’s sister-in-law. “He eats, sleeps and dreams pumpkins. All he does is pumpkins.”
Megchelsen began to pursue the record in 2002. He set the record in 2004 with a 700-pounder. A year later, he grew a 942-pound pumpkin, and in 2006 he grew the first Alaska pumpkin to exceed 1,000 pounds. The current record followed in 2011.
Two years ago, Megchelsen said, he had a disqualifying hole in another of his giants. It might have surpassed the record if it had kept growing, he said.
Ex-Convict Sentenced For Sneaking Into NYC Jails
New York (AP) A convicted sex offender who repeatedly used phony correction department credentials to gain entry into New York City jails has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Matthew Matagrano was sentenced Thursday. The 36-year-old Yonkers resident pleaded guilty last month to posing as a correction officer and sneaking into the Manhattan Detention Center, where he mingled with inmates for hours.
During a Feb. 27 visit Matagrano assaulted an inmate and stole a $2,500 walkie-talkie. He also handed out cigarettes to inmates.
Matagrano’s rap sheet includes a conviction for sodomy and sexual abuse. Police statements released in court report Matagrano said he repeatedly sneaked into jails because the people inside were “nice” and made him “feel important.”
Georgia Church Offers Drive-Thru Prayer
Dalton, GA (AP) A church in northwest Georgia has started offering Sunday prayer services for worshippers on the go.
Members of the Cedar Valley Cathedral of Praise on Cleveland Highway in Dalton have been hosting a weekly drive-thru prayer mission Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Anne Keith told the Dalton Daily Citizen she’s been visiting the drive-thru Sunday service for more than a month now, and it’s become something she looks forward to every week.
``I start on Wednesday thinking, `It’s three more days,’ then `two more days,’’’ Keith said. She added that she finds the service uplifting and that it reinforces her hope.
Church members gather under their building’s awning to wait for a driver and distribute prayer cloths to visitors. Members say they welcome visitors from all denominations, and visitors are encouraged to come as they are.
``God’s brought a good number of people every Sunday,’’ Barry Suggs told the newspaper. ``Seventeen have prayed prayers for salvation.’’
Members of the congregation said they got the idea to start offering drive-thru services from a speaker at the church in late May.
New Jersey Farmer Gets Political With Corn Maze
Chester, NJ (AP) A New Jersey farmer has cut the faces of Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his Democratic challenger into a corn maze to highlight the state’s gubernatorial election.
The corn was planted in June at the Stony Hill Farm in Chester.
Owner Dale Davis tells Newark’s The Star-Ledger newspaper he chose the maze to get people interested. He says everybody recognizes Christie but he doesn’t know whether a lot of people would recognize gubernatorial rival Sen. Barbara Buono (BWOH’-noh).
Christie is far ahead of Buono in public polls and leads among nearly every demographic group. He’s seen as a viable contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
The Morris County maze will open to the paying public Aug. 31. The election is Nov. 5.
Grand Rapids Police Catch A Pig & Post Him Online
Grand Rapids, MI (AP) To serve and protect is a common police motto. In western Michigan, it extends even to pigs.
Grand Rapids police say they rescued a 6-month-old pig named Ramone on Thursday. The pet got away from his home in the city’s Eastown neighborhood and approached Officer Jeremy Huffman.
Huffman put the porker in the back seat of a squad car. Grand Rapids police posted a picture on its Facebook page, where it’s received more than 1,000 ``likes’’ and more than 100 comments.
Please hold the jokes. The department says it’s heard them all.
Unionized San Francisco Strip Club Closing Its Curtains
San Francisco (AP) Nearly two decades after they made the nation gawk by forming its first unionized strip club, the dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady are hanging up their thongs.
The employee-owned, co-op club will close in two weeks because it can no longer afford its rent.
General manager Scott Farrell tells the San Francisco Chronicle that while the workers own the club, they don’t own the North Beach building where rent was $5,500 a month in 2001 but now runs more than $16,000. That’s far more than the dancers and their wads of ones can manage.
Eviction proceedings began against the club earlier this year when it fell behind on rent. The workers have agreed to vacate by Sept. 2, and the owner says he’ll waive the back rent.
Spontaneous Goat Manure Fire
Windsor, VT (AP) A pile of goat manure spontaneously caught fire, spreading stench and wrinkling noses through a Vermont town but causing no damage, officials said.
The odor evoked “a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire,” Windsor Town Manager Tom Marsh said. A worker on her way to milk goats discovered the fire in the 120-cubic-yard manure pile around 3 a.m. Wednesday, said George Redick, owner of the 800-goat Oak Knoll Dairy. Marsh said he could smell the fire at his hilltop home five miles away. He called it “a little disconcerting, because it was a very strong smell.”
Redick says the manure would typically have been spread around the farm earlier in the year, but the rainy season and other factors kept that from happening. He said he used to think spontaneous combustion was make-believe.