Miami Homemaker's Name

Comes Back With a Roar

It took a lot for people to finally get a Miami homemaker's name right -- it took a hurricane.

For years, Mrs. Van Wyck, a nice mom who is active in the First United Methodist Church of South Miami, had to correct people when they called her Jeannie, like the curvy character in the long-ago television hit "I Dream of Jeannie."

That was all wrong, she would say. But the mispronunciations persisted.

That is, they persisted until a tropical storm way out in the Caribbean got serious a couple of weeks ago.

The transformation of that tropical storm into a hurricane has burned the proper pronunciation of Mrs. Van Wyck's name into the collective consciousness of Florida.

Yes, her name is Jeanne.

And, yes, she is that Jeanne.

Jeanne Van Wyck is the inspiration for the fourth hurricane to hit Florida in a season. She lent her name decades ago to a friend, and frankly, she really doesn't regret it. Her friend -- Gilbert Clark -- happened to be a big shot meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center. He also happened to be the guy who submitted hurricane names.

Now Clark didn't get too creative with his name choices. He picked his wife and his three kids, and he picked his friend Jeanne and her two children. Being a hurricane didn't do much good for her daughter, Beryl.

"They said 'barrel' and 'burl'; they mispronounced it in so many ways," Jeanne Van Wyck said.

But Hurricane Jeanne did such a nice job for Homemaker Jeanne that she has an idea for the next storm season.

"Now I only have to get my last name right," she said. "It's Van WHYk, not Van WICK."

-- Manuel Roig-Franzia

Raise Your Right Paw and Bark.

Animal Court Is Now in Session

Mischievous chickens, rambunctious dogs and unruly cats are not beyond the long arm of the law in California's Stanislaus County. Pet owners are being rounded up by court officials to face charges from failing to keep their pets on a leash to complaints about incessant barking and vicious animals, and they are being ordered to appear in Animal Court.

There are no lawyers. Defendants represent themselves. Instead of the traditional fine, the five-member panel of judges -- made up of veterinarians, dog trainers, and law enforcement officials -- may suggest the complaining neighbor play with the offending pet or order obedience training.

"We've had snake issues, emu issues, just a variety of crazy issues," Animal Services director Michael Rodriguez said. "We've forgotten the art of communication with our neighbor, and that's why we have problems. We're trying to resolve these conflicts and teach responsible pet ownership here."

-- Kimberly Edds

Mayor Rules That City Hall

Is No Workers' Reading Room

The mayor of Flint, Mich., does not want city employees reading newspapers on duty, and that's final.

Just ask Thomas Hansen, a Flint Journal newspaper carrier detained by police for trying to deliver papers to City Hall.

Convinced that services were suffering, Mayor Donald J. Williamson issued an executive order in July banning the reading of newspapers and magazines at City Hall. A couple of weeks back, to his consternation, he spotted Hansen in the building and demanded to know what he was doing there.

Delivering newspapers, Hansen told him. The mayor wanted the subscribers' names. Hansen refused.

"I asked him to leave. He said he wouldn't. So I asked the police to come and escort him out," Williamson said in an interview. "Maybe he was detained a few minutes to make sure he wasn't a terrorist."

The American Civil Liberties Union has been asked to investigate Hansen's detention. The organization believes the mayor overstepped his authority.

-- Peter Slevin

Under a City Sidewalk,

Reminder of a War Long Ago

While burying electrical cables under a busy sidewalk this month, construction workers in Burlington, Vt., made an unusual discovery: 10 skeletons laid head to toe, between three and six feet deep.

Archaeologists called to the scene believe the bones are from soldiers stationed in the area during the War of 1812. They found scraps of uniforms, a pewter button with the inscription "U.S." and remnants of hexagonal wooden coffins.

Some 5,000 soldiers were stationed in the Burlington area during the war and after. Archaeologists believe there may be hundreds more remains under the city. The excavation site in the north end of Vermont's largest city, which has almost 39,000 residents, was once a hospital and cemetery for soldiers.

"It's a forgotten part of Burlington's history, because the city just grew up over it," said John G. Krock, the director of the University of Vermont's Consulting Archeology Program, which has been hired by the state to analyze the discovery and is working on a map of the former military installation.

"We're hoping to figure out where other hot spots for more graves might be," he added.

-- Jonathan Finer

Hurricane Jeanne was named for Jeanne Van Wyck of Miami.