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Norma Brewer

The Weird Week in Review

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Norma Brewer

Courthouse Toilet Explodes

Deputy Stillwater County treasurer Norma Brewer had just left a courthouse bathroom stall when the toilet exploded, throwing shards of porcelain everywhere. Luckily, she had closed the stall door behind her and was not injured. She said it sounded like a huge bomb. The toilet had a Series 503 Flushmate III Pressure Assist system, which had been recalled in 2012. The recall was issued after Flushmate received 304 reports of explosions, some causing injuries. Over two million of the units have been sold in the U.S. and another 10,000 in Canada. Flushmate is sending someone out to replace the systems in all of the toilets at the courthouse in Columbus, Montana.

Do Not Remove Alligators from Roadway

What do you do when there’s an 11-foot alligator blocking the road? Not what Glen Bonin and his three friends tried to do when it happened in Sulphur, Louisiana.

"(We) took our shirts off, threw it on his (the gator's) face, and we were going to come from behind it and jump on it... in the process of doing that, it spun around and grabbed my hand seconds before we jumped on it," Bonin said.

The alligator then snapped at Bonin, biting his hand and sending him into a daze.

"It felt like someone was pulling my arm out. I thought I was about to lose something. It felt like it lasted forever," Bonin said.

Bonin received 80 stitches and a lesson in what not to do with an alligator.

"I've always been the kind of guy who learns the hard way," said Glen Bonin.

If you ever find yourself in this position, it’s best to call law enforcement or wildlife authorities. You might even consider using a different route until the alligator is gone. KPLC has some video footage of the gator encounter, in which it appears there was much more interaction with the animal than was necessary to unblock the roadway.

Airport Fire System Designed by Fake Engineer

The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport was supposed to open in 2012, but a problematic fire safety system that canceled the original opening date is still not operational. Now it comes to light that the man who designed the smoke extraction system for the German airport, Alfredo di Mauro, was not a qualified engineer. Di Mauro is qualified only as an engineering draftsman, but the abbreviation “Dipl.-Ing” appears on his business cards, indicating he is an engineer. Di Mauro, who was fired from the project last month, said the business cards contained a mistake, and that no one on the airport project asked if he was an engineer. However, di Mauro allegedly passed himself off as an architect in 2002 on a hospital project, a charge he denies.

It’s Raining Hay!

Reports of hay falling from the sky came from far-flung locations in the UK over the past week. A rain of hay and grass was observed in Paignton, Devon, last Thursday, followed by Sunday hay showers in Devizes, Wiltshire, Pendle, Lancashire, and Builth Wells in Mid Wales. The showers lasted up to ten minutes and appeared to come from a high altitude. Experts says it’s possible that hay cut during the recent dry weather was lifted from the ground, possibly by convection, and carried by warm thermals into the upper atmosphere. The showers of hay appear when the thermals break down.

Bear Crashes Party and Eats Cupcakes

Alicia Bishop and Glenn Merrill of Juneau, Alaska, were celebrating their child’s first birthday Wednesday when a bear fell through the skylight of their living room!

"I was literally in the room, and I heard this cracking," Merrill told the paper, describing the sound of the skylight's plexiglass creaking under the bear. "And the next thing you know, there's this bear that, I mean, literally, fell right from (the skylight). It was like one metre away from me."

Merrill told the paper he fled into an adjoining room and closed the door behind him, and Bishop said the animal feasted on her infant son's birthday cupcakes.

Bishop told the paper that she opened a door from the living room that led to the backyard and that the couple yelled at the animal until it casually walked out of their residence.

Wildlife officials estimate the bear was a juvenile male, weighing about 82 kilograms (180 pounds).

Strange Dog Appears in Locked Car

A woman in the town of Adenau, Germany, attended a religious service and returned to her car. When she unlocked it, she found a dog inside -but it wasn’t her dog! She drove the dachshund to the local police station. No one could figure out how the dog got into the car. Then another woman came into the station to report her dog missing from her car.

Here’s what happened: the two women drove the exact same model of car, and had parked beside each other. Their keys also coincidentally worked with both cars. The woman who owned the dog returned first and drove off in the wrong car -the one without her dog. Neither woman realized they had the wrong car, because the only difference was that one had a dog inside.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. MAN PAYS FINE WITH FIVE WHEELBARROWS OF PENNIES

On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.

2. MOTORIST JAILED OVER KITTY LITTER

When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."

3. SWISS TOWN DENIES PASSPORT TO "ANNOYING" DUTCH VEGAN

Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.

4. MAN FOUND STUCK IN KITCHEN VENT

Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."

5. GOLFER RUN OVER BY TOILET

This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

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5 Strange News Stories From This Week
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iStock

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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