Mad Minute

SEVERANCE, Colo. (AP) — A 9-year-old boy has convinced the leaders of a small northern Colorado town to overturn a nearly century-old ban on snowball fights, and he already knows who his first target will be — his little brother.

Dane Best, who lives in the often snow-swept town of Severance, presented his arguments at a town board meeting Monday night, and members voted unanimously to lift the ban.

“I think it’s an outdated law,” Dane said in the lead-up to the meeting. “I want to be able to throw a snowball without getting in trouble.”

Dane’s mother, Brooke Best, told The Greeley Tribune her son had been talking about snowballs since he found out about a month and a half ago that it was illegal to throw them within town limits. The last time it snowed, Dane said he and his friends looked around for police and joked about breaking the law.

Kyle Rietkerk, assistant to the Severance town administrator, said the rule was part of a larger ordinance that made it illegal to throw or shoot stones or missiles at people, animals, buildings, trees, any other public or private property or vehicles. Snowballs fell under the town’s definition of “missiles.”

“All of the kids always get blown away that it’s illegal to have snowball fights in Severance,” Rietkerk said before the meeting. “So, what ends up happening is (town leaders) always encourage the kids with, ‘You have the power you can change the law.’ No one has.”

Then Dane took up the cause, writing letters with his classmates in support of overturning the ban.

And after Monday night’s success, his 4-year-old brother Dax had better watch out. When board members asked Dane during a meeting in November who he wants to hit, he pointed at his little brother.

Dane and his family have researched other Severance ordinances, including one that defines pets only as cats and dogs.

Dane has a guinea pig, which is illegal in Severance, too.


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The prince in the "Nutcracker" had a special present for his favorite ballerina during a performance of the holiday classic in Kansas.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Allison Evans was playing the Dewdrop Fairy in the Metropolitan Ballet production Sunday in Wichita when her boyfriend, Dalton Rupp-Meinert, dropped to one knee and proposed. The moment was captured on video .

Even though he'd never danced ballet in his life, Rupp-Meinert broached the idea with choreographer Jill Landrith before rehearsals began this summer. They hatched a plan to make him the prince. Evans says she thought the decision was "hilarious."

Rupp-Meinert says the thing that made him the most nervous was remembering the choreography, not the proposal. The crowd included about 40 to 50 of their relatives and friends.


KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — A Secret Santa made the holiday season a little brighter for hundreds of shoppers near Philadelphia after paying off nearly $30,000 worth of layaways at a Walmart.

Andy Rumford, of Kennett Square, tells The Daily Local he was shocked when he went to make a payment at the East Marlborough location and found out someone had picked up the tab.

A Walmart official tells the newspaper the person who paid off the accounts wants to remain anonymous.

Rumford owned about $150 on his items and went to pick them up on Saturday. The cashier told him someone came in and wrote a $29,000 check to pay off all the items on layaway in the whole store.

Rumford says "something like this makes you want to reach out and do good for others."


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) — The California Highway Patrol says it may have used the Autopilot system of a Tesla to stop the car after its driver fell asleep.

The CHP says officers attempted to stop the Tesla Model S, which was doing about 70 mph (113 kph) on a highway early Friday in the San Francisco suburb of Redwood City. After the driver didn't respond to lights or sirens, the officers say they pulled alongside and realized he was asleep.

They pulled in front and began slowing to a stop, hoping the Tesla's driver-assist program was on and would do the same. Authorities say the tactic worked.

Alexander Samek of Los Altos was awakened and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. It's unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Tesla hasn't confirmed whether the car was using Autopilot.


MARRERO, La. (AP) — A man is accused of pointing a gun at the manager of a Popeyes in Louisiana during a dispute over condiments. Times-Picayune reports 59-year-old Earl Jethroe of Marrero walked into the eatery Friday, ordered a meal and apparently took issue with the condiments provided by employees.

At some point, the arrest reports says, Jethroe threw his chicken across the counter, pulled a pistol from his waistband and pointed it at the manager. Jethroe didn't fire the weapon, and no one was hurt.

Authorities say deputies later found Jethroe at another restaurant, yelling. They say he smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.

Jethroe was arrested and charged with offenses including aggravated assault with a firearm. It's unclear if he has a lawyer who could comment.


BRISTOL, N.H. (AP) — A turtle given to a bedridden little boy in New Hampshire back in 1968 celebrated her 50th birthday with party hats, a sheet cake with the right number of candles and many well-wishers.

Diane the Turtle was given to Jim Tonner when he was 12 and being treated for hip arthritis at his home in Braintree, Massachusetts. Years later, Jim, and his twin brother, Brad Tonner, opened a gift shop in Bristol, New Hampshire, which became Diane's home. Her tank is surrounded by photos of store visitors.

On Saturday, the store was crowded with visitors singing "Happy Birthday" to Diane, who wore a tiny party hat.

"Another animal might put their head back in their shell," Jim Tonner said Monday. "Her head went straight out. It's one of the funniest things you've ever seen."

The brothers have written and illustrated books about Diane and set up a turtle webcam in their shop.

Tonner said when he was a child, turtles like Diane were popular pets, but many didn't live that long. That's why she's so unusual, he said.

Today, the 4-pound turtle is thriving. Her favorite foods are strawberries and romaine lettuce. But don't worry about the ban on that salad green; Tonner grows his own romaine.

"That's why she's 50 years old," Tonner said with a laugh.


NEW YORK (AP) — Who says the British are reserved? A couple who lost an engagement ring down a Times Square utility grate, returning home thinking it was gone forever, are effusive in their praise for the New York City police officers who found it in the muck 8 feet under.

"I cannot thank you enough, although I will try," Englishman John Drennan said in a tweet directed at the New York police Sunday. "A few cold beers when we come back to NYC! We are completely overwhelmed and you will definitely get a mention at our wedding!"

The NYPD had been looking for Drennan and his fiancee, Daniella Anthony, since they retrieved the ring Saturday morning. He proposed to her in Central Park and she said it slipped off her finger and fell into the Times Square grate late Friday night.

"I was devastated," Anthony told The New York Times. "I was literally crying. It was the worst moment of my life."

They asked for help, but police officers were initially unsuccessful at getting the ring out and the couple left for England without leaving their names or contact information. Drennan even bought a second ring shortly after arriving at the airport.

Meanwhile, NYPD officers continued their search, and on Saturday morning they finally located the ring about 8 feet (2 meters) underground.

"Fortunately, it was actually kind of sitting on top of all of that stuff, so it really wasn't hard to find. It was just a small object like that in the midst of all the garbage," said Det. Joseph Bucchignano, the officer who spotted the ring.

In an effort to identify the anonymous couple, the NYPD put out a video message on social media showing them searching for the ring before police had arrived. Drennan is seen on his stomach peering through the grate.

Drennan told the newspaper that they had planned to keep the lost ring a secret, but a friend forwarded him the police Twitter message. Drennan then called New York police on Sunday.


A donkey and an emu who bonded with each other can stay together, thanks to actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the villainous Negan on the TV zombie thriller "The Walking Dead" and will keep the pair on his New York farm.

Jennifer Gordon, founder of the North Carolina animal rescue group Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, says Morgan is adopting them Tuesday.

Neither animal is named Lucille.

They're named Jack and Diane, and Morgan tantalized his social media followers with a simple and vague tweet, "Little diddy about jack and Diane ..."

The two were rescued from Kershaw, South Carolina, when their owner vanished. Gordon says they cuddle and sleep together, but cried and became frantic when they were separated.

A post about the complexities of adopting them out together sparked more than 2,000 inquiries, including Morgan's, Gordon adds. She says Morgan was the best choice since he has resources to care for the pair and they can roam free on his Hudson Valley farm.


(FOX) A Belgian woman claims she lost her right eye after a parasite got stuck behind her contact lens when she took a shower, causing her to develop a rare but serious eye infection.

Petra van Kalmthout recently told the Daily Mail the alleged incident occurred three years ago while she was on vacation. The woman said she was infected with an acanthamoeba parasite, which caused her to develop keratitis — a "rare but serious infection of the eye that can result in permanent visual impairment or blindness," according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

She didn't have any symptoms at first. But days later, van Kalmthout said her eye "became red and painful."

"I had a party and in the evening my eye hurt a bit. I immediately took out my contact lens. I threw it away. The next day my eye was red and was even more painful," she told the publication.

The worsening pain led van Kalmthout to seek medical attention at Antwerp University Hospital, where doctors discovered the parasite in the "cornea of her right eye," the Daily Mail reported.

Unsuccessful attempts to remove the parasite led to the removal of van Kalmthout's eye.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is "most common in people who wear contact lenses," according to the CDC. Those who shower and swim while wearing the corrective lenses are most at risk of contracting the infection; the acanthamoeba can be found in tap water, swimming pools and even in heating and air conditioning units, the CDC says.

The infection can cause eye pain and redness, blurred vision and a sensation of something in the eye, the health agency added.

Each year, an estimated 45 people in Belgium are infected with the parasite, according to the Daily Mail.

"When I had my eye removed it was the end of a period with pain," she told the publication, adding she wore an eye patch for three years before she was recently fitted for a prosthetic eye.

"Now that I finally have a prosthesis I can grab life in my hands again. I will start by going a night out dancing," she added.

As a preventative measure, the CDC recommends removing contact lenses before showering, swimming or soaking in a hot tub. Other tips contact lens users should follow can be found here.


(FOX) It didn't take a triple-dog dare, but a boy in northern Illinois still found out the hard way not to place his tongue on a frozen metal pole.

Spencer Kline, 11, was sledding with his friend in Sandwich, located west of Chicago, after northern Illinois got blanketed with record snow last Tuesday when the pair came across a pole along a fence.

Kline told The Beacon News he had seen "A Christmas Story," where one friend dares another to put his tongue on a frozen pole, but didn't think his tongue could actually stick to the pole.

"I was just tempted to. I've seen the movie 'A Christmas Story,' which kind of inspired me," he told the newspaper.

Sure enough, Kline's tongue became frozen to the pole. He then struggled to communicate with his friend, who then ran to a nearby house and asked a woman for hot water.

In the time the friend was gone, Kline was able to pry himself off the pole before emergency crews arrived.

"I was trying to get it off, but I wasn't pulling," he told The Beacon News. "I was being gentle and freaking out. Some of my taste buds came off onto the pole."

Officials treated the 11-year-old and released him that night. He and his tongue are expected to make a full recovery.

Kline just wants others to not make the same mistake as him.

"It hurt very badly," he said.

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