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Odds & Ends 11/22

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Posted: November 21, 2006 4:50 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
Texas town almost goes dry
MUSTANG, Texas — An unpaid bill nearly caused a supplier to shut off water service to an entire town.
    Mustang’s 40 residents had faced the possibility of losing water service Monday if they didn’t find a way to pay a $3,400 bill. Someone made the payment, said Jay Mertz, president of the Angus Water Supply Corp., though he declined to identify the person, the Corsicana Daily Sun reported.
    The tiny town, founded in 1972 to provide a home for alcohol sales in Navarro County, had been paying its water bill with sales tax money collected at the only two local businesses — a strip club and a bar.
    But both businesses closed last year in the heat of a legal dispute stemming from the sale of the town.
    City leaders organized a Halloween fundraiser in October, but it raised only a few hundred dollars.
    Thomas Sinclair, operator of the local strip club and bar, purchased the town from its late co-founder, Willie McKie, last year. Within months, both sides alleged breaches of contract in lawsuits that are slowly moving toward a courtroom.
    Sinclair said he hopes the lawsuits will be resolved so he can reopen the bar and strip club, which were temporarily closed by a court order in January.
    Residents pay no property tax or water fees.

Marriage - monster truck style

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Throbbing throttles, pumping pistons and traction action ground to a halt as a longtime lover of monster trucks married her sweetheart in a dirt arena, amid rowdy spectators and crushed cars.
    Ashley Barbour — wearing a red dress and a white veil — rode a motorcycle into the ceremony Saturday at Monster Jam in the Kern County Fairgrounds.
    Barbour, 24, and husband Michael Box, 31, had the honor of saying ‘‘I do’’ in front of the monster of all trucks, Grave Digger, as winners of Meathead’s Monster Truck Marriage, a contest sponsored by Bakersfield radio station KRAB-FM.
    The ceremony was officiated by Jarad ‘‘Meathead’’ Mann, an on-air personality and ordained minister, who wore a pink minister’s frock.
    ‘‘Before today, (Barbour and Box) were two highways going in the same direction. Tonight they will be merged as one,’’ Mann told the crowd of family, friends, monster truck enthusiasts.
    ‘‘I feel like this is going to be the great extravaganza of my life,’’ said Barbour, who entered the contest without telling her boyfriend. ‘‘I’m so excited and overwhelmed and I feel like my dreams have come true.’’

Woman avoids trial by giving free cooking lessons
 
    PHILADELPHIA — A restaurateur charged with assaulting a parking authority officer avoided a possible trial by agreeing to give free cooking lessons to the poor.
    Susanna Foo, 63, of Villanova, was accused of striking Philadelphia Parking Authority officer Juanita Lewis on Sept. 29 after Lewis ticketed a delivery truck driver parked outside Foo’s downtown restaurant.
    Both Foo and Lewis were in court Monday for the restaurant owner’s scheduled preliminary hearing. Instead, their attorneys announced Foo would enter a diversionary program for nonviolent first-time offenders.
    She must also serve 50 hours of community service and will be on probation for six months, the attorneys said.
    Prosecutors plan to withdraw charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, but will keep open a simple-assault charge during Foo’s probation. It will be dropped if Foo is not arrested within six months, Assistant District Attorney Kalli Agelakis said.
    Neither Foo nor Lewis commented in court.
    Foo, also a cookbook author, is credited with helping start the Asian-fusion cooking trend with her eponymous restaurant. She operates a second restaurant, Suilan, at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

College student turns 95 this week

    HAYS, Kan. — Like most students at Fort Hays State University, Nola Ochs plans to spend some time reading and studying during this week’s fall break.
    But she’ll take time out on Wednesday to celebrate her 95th birthday.
    Ochs is living at Wooster Hall on campus while pursuing her general studies degree at the university. She has about 15 hours to take next semester to get her degree.
    If she does it, Ochs will be the Guinness Book of World Records’ oldest college graduate.
    But it will also be the culmination of a lifetime of learning. She started at Fort Hays in 1930, when it was known as Kansas State Teacher’s College.
    In the 1970s, she took classes part time at a community college and completed a few virtual classes on the Internet before deciding to attend classes this semester.
    On Friday, her family and fellow classmates threw her an impromptu birthday party during her Biblical Studies class. Her son, Alan Ochs, flew in from Jetmore for the occasion. Her granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, didn’t have to travel as far — she’s in the same class as her grandmother.
    After the party, Alan Ochs took his mother home for Thanksgiving break.
    ‘‘We’re happy to get her back home for a while,’’ he said. ‘‘We missed having her out there, especially through the fall harvest.’’
    Though Nola is amused by her potential status as the world’s oldest graduate, she said she’s more excited about getting to walk at the graduation ceremony with her granddaughter.
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