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Odds & Ends 12/01

Title of school play offends local bishop
ERIE, Pa. — One might call it the play that dare not speak its name.
    A Roman Catholic high school must try to sell tickets to its upcoming school play without referring to its title — ‘‘Urinetown: The Musical’’ — because the local bishop objects to it.
    Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman does not object to the play itself — an absurd send-up of Broadway musicals — and received no complaints about it. Still, the bishop is concerned about the play’s title being linked with Cathedral Prep, said Monsignor Tom McSweeney, diocese spokesman.
    ‘‘His only objection was to the title, not to the show itself,’’ McSweeney said.
    But altering the name of the show would violate its copyright. So the play’s producer and director, the Rev. Michael DeMartinis, said he must try to sell tickets to the show — which runs Dec. 7-10 — without using the play’s title on tickets, posters and programs.
    DeMartinis said the title of the show will become immediately clear to the audience.
    ‘‘They’ll know what the play is without a doubt within the first 10 seconds,’’ DeMartinis said. That’s because the lyrics, ‘‘This is Urinetown,’’ ‘‘You’re at Urinetown,’’ and ‘‘Here we are in Urinetown’’ are featured in the show’s opening number.

Couple lands in jail after attempting to make cheap holiday decorations 

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Making holiday wreaths on the cheap has landed a couple in jail.
    Kurt James Cox, 40, and Rebecca Sue Cox, 30, were arrested Tuesday after authorities said they caused $230,000 in damage to roadside trees by chopping off limbs to make the decorations.
    The pair had pruning sheers and were carrying tree limbs to a vehicle already stuffed with branches when they were arrested. The state-owned trees are worth $1,500 each, he said.
    ‘‘We’re afraid that the growth has been stunted,’’ Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Goldman said. ‘‘I’m not certain the trees are going to die, but they might not have the magnificent look that was intended.’’
    The pair of DeLeon Springs residents were arrested on charges of criminal mischief in excess of $1,000 and could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
    The Cox family could not be reached for comment by The Times-Union, and a phone number they listed for their residence was out of order.

Quick thinking teen drivers may have saved lives
 
    ROCKINGHAM, Vt. — Young people behind the wheel are often derided, but four youths here were honored for their quick, ‘‘selfless’’ response on the road.
    ‘‘I’m pretty confident you saved somebody’s life,’’ Trooper Earl Dessert told them Tuesday, in a ceremony at the Vermont State Police barracks.
    On Nov. 18, Jennifer Aldrich, 18, of Ludlow, was northbound on the Interstate when she and passengers Sarah Barrett, 18, Christopher Sanborn, 18, and Barrett’s brother, Army National Guard PFC David Barrett, 20, of Delco, N.C., noticed a northbound car that was driving in the southbound lanes.
    Aldrich kept pace with the wrong-way vehicle for at least six miles as she honked her horn and flashed her headlights, trying to get the attention of driver Charles Molloy, 50, of Guilford, Conn.
    Finally, after at least one driver swerved to avoid Molloy’s car, he stopped. Sanborn and David Barrett then crossed the highway median to keep Molloy from driving away.
    Molloy — who’d thought he was headed home — was charged with DUI and grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Pastor is arrested for bringing a gun to church
 
    MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — The pastor of a Mount Airy church accused of brandishing a gun as part of his sermon is in trouble — with the police.
    Jerry Wayne ‘‘Dusty’’ Whitaker, 58, was arrested during church services Sunday and is free on bond after being charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.
    Members of Whitaker’s Victory Baptist Church say they had no knowledge that he had been convicted in Virginia in 1990 of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.
    Whitaker told them he was a retired Virginia state police officer and a retired U.S. marshal who was injured in the line of duty, said Garry Scearce, trustee chairman at Victory Baptist.
    Whitaker denies ever telling anyone he was a marshal, but said he worked as a police officer for six years in Montgomery County, Va.
    In September, Whitaker reportedly brought a handgun and a shoulder holster to a service.
    ‘‘He was driving home his point,’’ Scearce said. ‘‘He said he was no longer a pistol-toting U.S. marshal.’ He was a pastor.’’
    Whitaker said the gun was a toy prop.
    ‘‘I use parables,’’ he said. ‘‘Once I pretended to be a blind man with a cane, glasses and can with coins. Why didn’t they arrest me for impersonating a blind man?’’

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