Mad Minute stories from Thursday, July 13th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Thursday, July 13th

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) -- A union has filed a grievance in response to Western Michigan University's hiring of goats to clear 15 acres (6.07 hectares) of woodland on campus.
Kathi Babbit is the chief steward of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local union. Babbit wrote in a July newsletter that the grievance had been filed in relation to subcontracting and the unreported use of goats, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
The university hired the team of goats after a half-acre trial run last year. Officials of goat rental company Munchers on Hooves said the animal consumes 3 to 5 pounds (1.36 to 2.27 kilograms) of vegetation per day and leaves behind natural fertilizer.
University spokeswoman Cheryl Roland said she can't make a detailed comment about the union's decision because the university has a process underway for addressing the grievance. But she said that no school workers have been laid off by the goat project.
"This stuff is so thick," said Munchers co-owner Gina Fickle of the woodland. She said that human laborers can always come in to finish the work after the goats clear up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground.
"Goats aren't there taking work away from anybody, they're making it safer for people," Fickle said.
Roland said that the goats are a chemical-free option to clear areas that are problems for humans to remove. She also said the goats are a cost-effective way to get rid of poison ivy and invasive species.
University Horticulturist Nicholas Gooch said that the school hasn't received any complaints about the goats other than the union.
"We have been very happy with the progress, impact and PR generated from this project from both the campus community and the community as a whole," he said. "There have been no complaints of any nature prior to the news of this union ordeal."
According to Roland, the goats are expected to be on campus until about a week before fall classes begin.

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BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. (AP) - A young bull remains on the loose despite a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper's best efforts to corral him.
Media outlets report the trooper responded Tuesday to a call of the animal roaming through a neighborhood in Boiling Springs, just north of Spartanburg. Photographs show the trooper staring down the bull.
The bull ran into the yard of Cindi Knox and Phillip Ledesma. He tells WSPA most officers aren't trained to be cowboys but that he gives the trooper credit for trying.
The trooper called for backup from other agencies, but the bull ran into the woods.
Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Hovis says loose animal calls aren't uncommon, but that the trooper's attempt to wrangle the bull was a step above an ordinary response.
 
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Farmers in the U.S. West face a creepy scourge every eight years or so: Swarms of ravenous insects that can decimate crops and cause slippery, bug-slick car crashes as they march across highways and roads.
Experts say this year could be a banner one for Mormon crickets - 3-inch-long bugs named after the Mormon pioneers who moved West and learned firsthand the insect's devastating effect on forage and grain fields.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service reports "significantly higher Mormon cricket populations" on federal land in southwestern Idaho, agency spokeswoman Abbey Powell wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
"There isn't a clear explanation why populations are so much higher this year," Powell wrote. "We know that populations are cyclical. ... In Idaho, in a few locations, we have seen populations as high as 70 per square yard."
The bugs can start to be detrimental to rangeland and crops when they number about 8 per square yard, state officials said.
The federal agency says the bugs- actually katydids, an entomological cousin to grasshoppers - are stretched in a band across southwestern Idaho, concentrated around Winnemucca, Nevada; and sprinkled throughout Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado.
Residents in the north-central Oregon town of Arlington started dealing with Mormon crickets in June, scrambling to protect gardens and farm crops and trying to keep the bugs from invading homes through open windows and doors.
Out-of-control swarms can mean big economic losses for states. In 2003, some counties in Idaho and Nevada were forced to declare states of emergency because of cricket-caused damage. Estimates of crop damage in Utah reached more than $25 million in 2001.
Police and transportation workers also keep an eye on invasions. The bugs are juicy when squished, and when swarms cross the road, they can make the pavement as slick as ice.
Idaho State Police Lt. Col. Sheldon Kelley has responded to wrecks and slide-offs caused by the bug slicks.
"Most people don't know they are coming" until their car is almost on top of the swarm, he said.
Drivers who see pavement that looks like it is moving should slow down and drive as if they are on icy roads, he said. Police work with transportation officials to post warnings and, if necessary, sand roads fouled by cricket carcasses.
Lloyd Knight, a division administrator with the Idaho Department of Agriculture, said he hoped last winter's huge snowstorms would naturally limit their numbers. Female crickets can lay up to 100 eggs each summer, which hatch the following spring.
As it turns out, the deep snow cover helped insulate and protect the eggs, he said.
The department has received more than 100 complaints about infestations this year, but that's still within expected norms for the region, Knight said.
Nevada state officials also say they've seen an increase in swarms this year but nothing excessive so far. A Nevada state entomologist says they expect larger populations in 2018.
There is one silver lining to Mormon cricket infestations, Kelley noted: The bugs make great catfish bait for anglers who aren't too faint of heart.

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KENT, Ohio (AP) -- Two Ohio college students are set for an epic Tinder date in Hawaii that's been three years in the making.
Kent State University students Josh Avsec and Michelle Arendas have been sporadically messaging each other on the dating platform since September 2014. They would go months without writing each other back, and when they did respond, it was with excuses like "sorry my phone died" or "sorry was in the shower."
Avsec posted the correspondence to Twitter last week, and Tinder took notice. The company reached out to the students Monday with an offer to send them on a first date in the city of their choosing.
When the pair decided on the Hawaiian island of Maui, Tinder agreed, but added, "you can't take two years to pack your bags!"

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) -- A Texas man who became trapped inside an ATM slipped notes to customers via the receipt slot pleading for them to help him escape, police said Thursday.
The contractor became stuck Wednesday when he was changing a lock to a Bank of America room that leads to the back of the ATM, Corpus Christi police Lt. Chris Hooper said. He couldn't let himself out of the room because he didn't have a keycard on him and was unable to notify bank employees for help.
"Apparently he left his cellphone and the swipe card he needed to get out of the room outside in his truck," Hooper said.
When he realized customers were retrieving cash from the machine, he passed notes to them through the ATM receipt slot. One read, "Please help. I'm stuck in here and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss ..."
Some customers appeared to dismiss the notes as a gag, Hooper said. But one called police, who detected a faint voice coming from inside the ATM. An officer kicked in the door to the room and freed the man, whose name has not been released.
"Everyone is OK, but you will never see this in your life, that somebody was stuck in the ATM. It was just crazy," Richard Olden, a police senior officer, told KRIS-TV.

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Sometimes the early bird doesn't get the worm.
Police in Iowa are looking for a would-be bank robber who showed up to two West Des Moines branches before they opened on Wednesday.
A security recording shows a man wearing a bandanna over his face trying to enter a Marine Credit Union branch at around 8:15 a.m. - nearly three hours before it opened.
Police Sgt. Tony Giampolo told The Des Moines Register that employees in the parking lot watched the guy yank on the doors before fleeing upon realizing they were locked.
Giampolo says a similarly dressed man tried to enter a nearby First National Bank branch at around 8:45 a.m., but it wasn't scheduled to open until 9. He says the man fled when he spotted an officer inside who was alerting the staff about the earlier robbery attempt.

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VENTURA, Calif. (AP) -- Police say a bank robbery suspect was arrested after officers found him hiding inside a couch at his Southern California home.
Investigators say Francisco Hernandez was caught on surveillance video June 30 entering a bank, pulling a semi-automatic handgun from a large envelope and demanding money.
The 39-year-old was identified as a suspect and a search warrant was served Wednesday at his home in Ventura. SWAT officers entered the house and with the help of a police dog located Hernandez, who was found inside a couch that had been modified.
The Ventura County Star says Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Wendy's customers rarely have anything meatier to contemplate than whether to get a single, a double or perhaps try the chicken.
But those at one of the fast-food chain's Palm Beach County, Florida, restaurants briefly got to contemplate Wendy's and its immoral acts against God.
The Palm Beach Post reports that the restaurant recently installed a sign that read, "All of Wendy's sins off one word - FRESH."
JAE Restaurant Group, the franchise company that operates that location, told the newspaper that the word was supposed to be "spins" and that the sign will be corrected.

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RIVERDALE, N.J. (AP) - Authorities say a woman was driving drunk when she went to a police station to pick up her boyfriend after he had been arrested for the same offense.
Riverdale police say 41-year-old Stefano Mari, of Mendham, was charged Monday after police received a call about a possibly intoxicated man who had just parked his car. A responding officer found Mari's car was still running and arrested him shortly after he returned to the vehicle.
Mari's girlfriend, 42-year-old Alexsandra Silvero of West Orange, arrived several hours later to pick him up. But officers suspected that she also had been drinking and eventually charged her with drunken driving as well.
It wasn't known Wednesday if Mari or Silvero have retained attorneys. Telephone numbers for them could not be located.

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DESTIN, Fla. (AP) - Authorities and relatives are at a loss to explain how the cremated remains of a Georgia woman mysteriously washed up on a Florida Beach.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that a box containing the ashes of an Atlanta-area woman was found by a man walking the beach. They were in a bag that identified the ashes as those of Ngacloan Hua, who died in DeKalb County, Georgia, last April.
Police contacted a funeral home identified on the bag and were able to reunite the cremains with Hua's sister, who told police the box containing the ashes disappeared as the family found a quiet place to pray in Georgia.
The sister had no idea how the ashes ended up along the Florida coast.
 

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