Mad Minute stories from Thursday, January 4th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Thursday, January 4th

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A half-ton (0.45 metric tons) of butter has been transformed into a sculpture celebrating Pennsylvania's dairy industry and heralding the start of the state's 102nd Farm Show.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding says the sculpture unveiled Thursday highlights the careers and roles the dairy industry plays in the state.
The sculpture features renderings of a cow and a farmer, an agronomist, a milk processor and a shopper with a basket full of products.
The butter came from waste scrap butter unsuitable for human consumption. After the show the sculpture will be taken to a farm and turned into energy in a methane digester.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation's largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions. It runs Saturday to Jan. 13.

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MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (AP) - Authorities say a man robbed a bank in Ohio and used the money to buy his fiancee an engagement ring.
The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports 36-year-old Dustin Pedersen has been charged with robbing a Fifth Third Bank branch in Trenton on Dec. 16.
Police say records show that Pedersen spent $4,500 on an engagement ring less than an hour after the robbery and presented it the next day.
A Trenton police detective said in court Wednesday the robbery netted $8,800.
Police say Pedersen became a suspect after a man wearing an identical hat robbed a Butler County bank six days later.
Pedersen has denied robbing any banks, but told police that surveillance photos of the robber look like him.
Pedersen's attorney wasn't immediately available for comment Thursday.
 
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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) - It's so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling from their perches in suburban trees.
Temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) early Thursday in parts of South Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
That's chilly enough to immobilize green iguanas common in Miami's suburbs.
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino tweeted a photograph of an iguana lying belly-up next to his swimming pool. WPEC-TV posted images of an iguana on its back on a Palm Beach County road.
The cold-blooded creatures native to Central and South America start to get sluggish when temperatures fall below 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius), said Kristen Sommers, who oversees the nonnative fish and wildlife program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
If temperatures drop below that, iguanas freeze up. "It's too cold for them to move," Sommers said.
They're not the only reptiles stunned by this week's cold snap: Sea turtles also stiffen up when temperatures fall. The wildlife commission's biologists have been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles found floating listlessly on the water or near shore, but no such rescue is planned for iguanas.
Well-meaning residents finding stiffened iguanas are advised to leave them alone, as they may feel threatened and bite once they warm up.
"Don't assume that they're dead," Sommers said.
Green iguanas are an invasive species in Florida known for eating through landscaping and digging burrows that undermine infrastructure. They can grow over 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, and their droppings can be a potential source of salmonella bacteria, which causes food poisoning.
The wildlife commission has begun holding workshops to train homeowners and property managers to trap or manage iguanas. The reptiles may be easier to catch this week, Sommers said.
"This provides an opportunity to capture some, but I'm not sure it's going to be cold enough for long enough to make enough of a difference," she said. "In most cases, they're going to warm back up and move around again, unless they're euthanized."
A two-week cold snap with temperatures below 40 degrees (5 degrees Celsius) in 2010 killed off many iguanas, along with Burmese pythons and other invasive pests that thrive in South Florida's subtropical climate. Those populations have since rebounded.
Elsewhere in Florida, the effects of a brutal winter storm rolling up the East Coast were less exotic. It snowed briefly Wednesday in the state's capital, Tallahassee, for the first time in 28 years.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A fiddle that Goodwill believes was once owned by country music legend Roy Acuff is expected to generate thousands of dollars for the charitable organization in the Kansas City area.
The Kansas City Star reports that the fiddle was donated anonymously to Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas and is being sold in an online auction at shopgoodwill.com. As of Thursday morning the high bid was $7,780. The auction is open until 11 p.m. Central time Saturday.
Acuff died in 1992 at age 89. He was the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, best known for hits such as "Wabash Cannonball and "Tennessee Waltz."
The fiddle was made by Evart Acuff, Roy Acuff's uncle, in August 1945 in Maryville, Tennessee. It isn't clear why it was donated to a Kansas City Goodwill store.
"We recognized right away that it was something special and we now have it up for auction," Raines said. "We have no information on the owner. They just donated it and moved on."
The fiddle, made of apple wood apparently from a tree on a family farm, is now in the possession of Gary Raines, who runs Goodwill's e-commerce program in Kansas City. He said he was confident the fiddle was Acuff's, even though the certificate of authenticity and other paperwork are copies. The report didn't explain how Raines reached that conclusion.
Acuff, a native of Maynardville, Tennessee, first became famous as the singer and fiddler for the Crazy Tennesseans, later called the Smoky Mountain Boys. Their hits also included "Wreck on the Highway," ″Pins and Needles" and "Night Train to Memphis."
Acuff performed regularly at the Grand Ole Opry and starred in the 1940 film "Grand Ole Opry." In 1942, he and Fred Rose formed Acuff-Rose Music, which became a powerful country music publishing firm.

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LAUREL, Mont. (AP) - A different mayor of a southern Montana town was sworn into office a day after the mayor-elect failed to appear for a swearing-in ceremony.
Former city councilman Tom Nelson was sworn in as the new mayor of Laurel on Wednesday after mayor-elect Dave Waggoner did not show up to the city council's Tuesday meeting.
Nelson had lost to Waggoner in the November mayoral election.
Waggoner was asked to leave his current position at the city's wastewater treatment plant before he could take office.
City officials say Waggoner did not submit a letter of resignation for his city job, so the council appointed Nelson.
Waggoner did not return calls seeking comment from the Billings Gazette.
Nelson's term as mayor will last until the next municipal election in 2019.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia father put the city's signature sandwich to use in a whole new way: measuring his baby's size in cheesesteaks.
Philly.com reports Thursday that computer programmer Brad Williams used a foolproof system he calls "Cheesesteak for Scale" to measure the growth of his son during the child's first year in 2015.
It started when he noticed his 2-week-old, Lucas Royce, was about the same size as a cheesesteak he'd brought home. So Williams snapped a picture of the sandwich next to his newborn and the tradition was born.
Every month for the next year Williams and his wife would buy a cheesesteak to track their growing boy .  
He says babies and cheesesteaks are quite similar. He says they are warm and cuddly when wrapped up "but once you unwrap them, expect a huge mess."

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CINCINNATI (AP) - Merchandise inspired by Ohio's famous baby hippo, Fiona, has returned nearly half a million dollars to the Cincinnati Zoo.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the zoo has collected about $480,000 in sales from businesses with merchandising agreements. Products include everything from clothing and ornaments to beer and ice cream.
The zoo says it isn't keeping track of cash the hippo-themed products are turning over. But zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley says more than $200,000 of the money was used for Fiona's neonatal care. Curley says the remainder is helping with the care, feeding and enrichment of all the zoo's hippos.  
The beloved baby hippo will celebrate her first birthday Jan. 24. Local merchants expect the celebration to spur an economic boost as businesses roll out more Fiona-themed products.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Warren Buffett has won a decade-old, million dollar bet that's now destined to provide a windfall for Girls Inc. of Omaha.
It all began in 2007 when the Berkshire Hathaway chairman bet $1 million that the S&P 500 would outperform a selection of hedge funds over 10 years.
According to the Journal report, as of Friday, Buffett's S&P 500 index fund had compounded a 7.1% annual gain over that period. The basket of funds selected by Protégé Partners, the managers with whom he made the bet, had gained 2.1%.
According to the Journal, each side first put $320,000 into a zero-coupon Treasury bond that they estimated would be worth $1 million by 2018. But it was moved into Berkshire Hathaway's class B shares when the bond's value rose faster than expected. The 11,200 shares they bought in 2012 were worth $2.22 million on Friday.
Buffett agreed to give the prize money to Girls Inc.

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Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister's little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.
Did he really just see that?
He had. Zoey the 8-pound bichon frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister's house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said.
"It seemed like something from the 'Wizard of Oz,'" he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm a city boy. This doesn't happen in my world."
Even more astonishing: Zoey would live to bark the tale.
More on that later. But first, let it be said that eagles are quite capable of taking a small dog or a cat.
"It has been documented before, but not that often," said Laurie Goodrich, a biologist at nearby Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a ridgetop preserve that annually records tens of thousands of migrating hawks, eagles and falcons.
With food scarce and waterways freezing up, raptors are "looking a little more widely and taking advantage of whatever might be out there," she said.
Rodriguez said he was by himself at his sister's home in Bowmanstown, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Philadelphia, and Zoey was playing in the fenced yard when he heard a loud screech, hurried to the door and looked out.
"The bird was holding onto the dog. There was flapping of wings and then it was gone," said Rodriguez, a 50-year-old healthcare executive visiting from Chicago.
He drove around the neighborhood looking for the 7-year-old bichon, to no avail. Rodriguez assumed Zoey was gone for good.
His sister and her family were devastated when they found out.
"I did nothing but cry all day," Monica Newhard said.
Newhard said it's not unusual to see eagles, given her home's proximity to the river. She also suspected they occasionally grabbed one of the rabbits that lived under her shed. But it didn't occur to Newhard that any of her four dogs would be in danger.
Heartbroken, she and her husband scoured the woods for Zoey's body. Little did they know their bitty bichon would be found later that afternoon - a full four miles away.
Zoey's rescuer was Christina Hartman, 51, who said she was driving on a snow-covered back road when she spotted a furry white lump ahead and pulled over to investigate.
"I notice this little frozen dog, icicles hanging from all over. It could hardly move," Hartman said.
She scooped up the whimpering pooch, wrapped her in a blanket and took her home, feeding the dog two bowls of chicken-and-rice soup. Gradually, the bichon warmed up and began to show some spunk. Hartman noticed several small wounds on the back of her neck, and the dog walked with a limp. She had no collar.
"This dog belongs to a family, and I'm gonna find out who owns it," Hartman told herself.
It didn't take long. She spotted Newhard's public Facebook post Wednesday morning - Newhard had uploaded a photo of Zoey - and made an excited call.
"I said, 'It's a miracle! I have your dog!'"
Zoey had bruises and a few missing patches of fur. It's not clear how far the eagle might have carried the dog, but Rodriguez said he can't believe Zoey survived.
"She is not really herself, but she is getting lots of love," his sister, Newhard, texted the AP late Wednesday. "She doesn't want to go out. ... I really can't blame her."

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(Vice) The New Zealand beach town of Whangamata has long been a popular destination for folks looking to have a good time on New Year's Eve, when thousands of teens come to drink, dance, and see some fireworks. But in an effort to cut down on the drunken mayhem, the town imposed a public drinking ban over the holiday-a law that apparently didn't stop a few crafty, determined drinkers from setting up their own boozy sanctuary off the coast.
According to the BBC, the group spent Sunday building a makeshift private island off the Coromandel Peninsula, constructed out of sand, seashells, and a few wooden planks. The revelers set it up at low tide, and dragged out a picnic table and a cooler so they could get blasted out on "international waters," see some fireworks, and stay away from the cops.
"We thought it would be a good laugh and the drinking ban would be a gray area if we were on our own island," organizer Leon Hayward told TIME.
While the less creative among us were getting weird at some shitty club or the Times Square Olive Garden, Hayward and his cohorts drank well into the night out on the sea. According to Stuff, they did a pretty solid job building their structure, because the thing was still standing on Monday morning. Photos of the makeshift island started floating around online after David Saunders posted a picture to a Facebook group called Tairua ChitChat!, the BBC reports.
Even local authorities could appreciate the group's sheer determination and craftsmanship. Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie told TIME she was impressed by the gang's commitment to getting drunk in public.
"Everybody was quite entertained by it; it wasn't hurting anybody," she told TIME. "They were trying to claim it was in international waters but, of course, it isn't."
Still, the group somehow managed to avoid ringing in the New Year by getting arrested or slapped with a hefty fine. Local police chief John Kelly told Stuff he hadn't heard about Hayward's creation, but he seemed pretty down with the makeshift island-nation of revelers.
"That's creative thinking," he told Stuff. "If I had known that I probably would have joined them."
 

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