Great Lakes Fishermen Warned:
The Fish May Be Jumping, Really
As if bad weather wasn't enough, fishermen in the Great Lakes will now have to watch out for huge fish landing on them.
Scientists at the Illinois and Michigan departments of natural resources recently announced that huge, jumping Asian big head carp, and the related silver carp, are on their way to the Great Lakes. The fish, which reach 60 or more pounds and are three to four feet long, are known for jumping as high as 10 feet in the air and into fishermen's boats, often causing injury. They would also likely have a harmful effect on native fish in the Great Lakes.
"We've had numerous injuries, people getting hit in the back of the neck or the back," said Mike Conlin, Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief.
Researchers are working on ways to halt their migration up the Mississippi River. "Somehow, some way," Conlin said, "we have to keep them out of the Great Lakes."
-- Kari Lydersen
For Black, White Students in Ala., Separate Homecoming Honors
When high school students in Alabama's Clarke County vote for homecoming queen and Mr. Football each autumn, they pick two each -- one white and one black.
The fall tradition dates back 31 years to when parents and school officials established the separate but equal system in the early days of integration to make sure the honors were open to all races.
Not everyone feels that way now. "They instituted it to make it fair for everybody, but they just ended up keeping segregation in an integrated school system," said Glynn Robinson, father of a Jackson High School graduate.
But that doesn't mean it's going to change soon.
"People talk that in 2003 it shouldn't be, and I think so, too," said Lynda Malone, president of the Clarke County School Board, who is black. "It's because the citizens haven't pushed it to change it. In private conversations with some of the principals, they tell me students seem to like it."
-- Catharine Skipp
Dumping of Animal Remains
Raises Big Stink in Mass. Town
Officials in Stockbridge, Mass. -- the town where Arlo Guthrie's littering fine spurred the song "Alice's Restaurant" -- have discovered they have a worse littering problem than the divan and boxes Guthrie dumped in 1965. For more than 40 years, Stockbridge has hosted a burial ground for the Massachusetts Turnpike's roadkill.
On a remote stretch of the highway's median, workers have dumped the remains of deer, bear and other animals in a football field-size burial ground. Turnpike officials said they stopped burying the roadkill in Stockbridge two months ago after running out of space. They will report to Stockbridge on Tuesday whether the dump has hurt wetlands or the water supply.
Residents such as selectboard chairman J. Cristopher Irsfield have had enough of the smell and howling coyotes: "Every chicken bone or whatever is up there. I want it all gone and the wetlands restored."
-- Christine Haughney
Arizona Motorists Squeal
On Resident Freeloaders
Newcomers are as welcome as can be in fast-growing Arizona -- as long they register their cars, pay their vehicle taxes and slap on an Arizona license plate.
Or else. Officials suspect the state is losing about $25 million a year because new residents keep their old plates and pretend they're not really residents. So the Motor Vehicle Division posted a toll-free number and invited citizens to bust scofflaws by calling in their out-of-state tags. In the program's first month, October, the hotline received 2,872 calls from snitches ratting on their neighbors and fellow motorists.
"Some people really got into it and programmed our 1-800 on their cell phones. And then driving in rush hour traffic they'd just call the plate numbers in," said Cydney DeModica, spokeswoman for the MVD. The agency would run the plates through its databases and try to separate the legit visitor from the resident freeloader.
The scofflawing occurs because Arizona's vehicle license fees are high, about $300 or $400 a year for a new car. Immediately upon moving to the state, one is supposed to pay the tax. The fine for failure to register is $500. "And the thing is," DeModica said, "when people are paying their fair share, they get very frustrated and angry when others are not."
-- William Booth