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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Law changed so dog can return to barbershop
Ohio hound is back and greeting customers after state's rules are altered

The Associated Press

Franklin, a four-year-old basset hound, relaxes in his usual spot as Matt Schwendiman gives a haircut to Billy Boles at Matt's Barber Shop in Canal Fulton, Ohio, recently. Franklin was exiled from the shop 10 months ago when an inspector for the Ohio State Barber Board said that animals are not allowed. Franklin is back on his favorite sofa after the board last year crafted rules that allow one animal if certain precautions are met.

CANAL FULTON, Ohio — About a year after being kicked out of his spot on a sofa inside Matt's Barber Shop, a sad-eyed basset hound named Franklin is back and greeting customers.

Franklin was as much of a fixture in the shop about 60 miles south of Cleveland as the 1950s-era, green barber's chair near where the dog sits.

"I love him," said Franklin's owner, Matt Schwendiman, who cuts hair at the shop, which he owns. "I haven't met anyone who comes in here who doesn't like Franklin. He just gets along with everybody."

But the 4-year-old dog was kicked out about a year ago when an inspector for the Ohio State Barber Board told Schwendiman that animals are not allowed.

Hound pines
During a 10-month exile to the barber's home, Franklin just didn't seem happy.

"At my house, he scratched my window sills up," Schwendiman said. "When I'd leave, he would look out the picture window. He wanted to go to the barbershop."

After a local newspaper did a story, rules were passed that allow one animal per barbershop, as long as it belongs to the shop's owner, a vet attests to the animal's health and the owner obtains liability insurance.

"He's a great dog," said Schwendiman. "He's just so passive. He makes you relaxed; he reminds me of myself when I'm home sleeping."

Double joy! Twins have babies on same day
Indiana woman goes into labor while visiting sister having c-section

The Associated Press

Identical twins, Nicole Cramer, left, and Naomi Sale, right, hold their baby sons, who were born within a few hours of one another at DeKalb Memorial Hospital in Auburn, Ind. With the women is Dr. Thaddeus Weghorst, who delivered both babies.

AUBURN, Ind. — Nicole Cramer had little idea when she went to the hospital to see her twin sister's newborn son that within hours, she would give birth to a son of her own.

Her sister, Naomi Sale, had scheduled a Caesarean section on Tuesday morning and gave birth to Ethan Alexander at 8:29 a.m. Cramer, also nine months pregnant, visited Sale and her new nephew in the hospital but was having contractions and didn't stay long.

"I thought, after I did the C-section, on my way home, 'I wonder if her sister would go into labor?'" said Dr. Thaddeus Weghorst, the obstetrician for both women.

Within hours, Cramer was in the delivery room of DeKalb Memorial Hospital.

After 90 minutes of labor, Cramer delivered Carter Nathaniel Birchfield.

"This solidifies the theory on the bond between twins," Weghorst said. "Even their uteri have a bond."

Close deliveries
Cramer and Sale turn 23 on Monday. They were due to give birth within a day of each other at the end of the month, but Weghorst's office didn't figure out they were twins until they were eight months along.

The sisters explained, in unison, that they usually had their appointments on the same day, but at different times.

Weghorst, who has been in practice for eight years, said the close deliveries were a first for him.

"I've delivered two sets of twins in the same day, but never this," he said.

Widow’s estate creates windfall for small town
Unexpected boon of nearly $4 million goes to Grandview, Texas

The Associated Press

A photo of Wynonia Pallmeyer is on display in the Grandview Nursing Home in Grandview, Texas.

GRANDVIEW, Texas - Wynonia Pallmeyer never lived in Grandview. But once a month for more than a decade, she drove 35 miles from her home in Fort Worth to this small town she'd grown to love.

Few here knew the unassuming and sometimes tenacious silver-haired woman, other than those from the nursing home where her husband Edward lived the last years of his life.

Now Pallmeyer has left a lasting mark on the town, leaving it nearly $4 million, almost a third of her $14 million estate.

"I'm not surprised by her generosity — just that she had that much money," said Martha Bennett, a Grandview Bank vice president who served with Pallmeyer on the nursing home board. "You just don't run into people like that."

Pallmeyer's relationship with Grandview, a town of about 1,400, began with daily visits in the mid-1980s after her husband became ill and needed long-term care. Someone referred her to the Grandview Nursing Home, a not-for-profit facility ranked among the best nursing homes in Texas.

She was so pleased with the home that she joined its board and continued serving at monthly meetings long after her husband's death. When the facility needed something — an ice cream machine, a whirlpool, a van, money for a chapel — Pallmeyer provided it, said administrator Barbara LeBaron.

Although she wore diamond jewelry and drove a Mercedes, Pallmeyer never flaunted her money, friends said. She lived in a modest, 2,000-square-foot house built in 1959 and valued at $150,500.

Pallmeyer, who died at 86 in June 2005, apparently didn't know the total value of her estate — amassed over decades with her husband by buying real estate and mineral rights holdings. Friends said she had a keen business sense.

Three friends made decision
So Pallmeyer, who had no children or other relatives, requested in her will that three of her friends form a committee to decide how her riches would be distributed after her death.

"For some odd reason she didn't want to make those choices herself," said the Rev. Donnie Voss, a senior associate pastor at Fort Worth's Travis Avenue Baptist Church, where Pallmeyer attended for decades. "But she was clear in her intent that the money would go to charitable causes."

Committee member Rudolph McDuff, a former Grandview mayor who knew Pallmeyer for 25 years, said she was "a nice lady who knew what she wanted to do and didn't listen to nobody."

She never discussed leaving her money to the town but said she wanted the nursing home taken care of, McDuff said. So all of McDuff's recommendations — several agencies and churches — involved Grandview.

The nursing home will receive about $2 million. LeBaron said she had no idea how much it would receive until she and a co-worker opened a nearly $1 million check last fall, after the will was finalized. The rest of the money will arrive later.

"We had to look at it," LeBaron said with a laugh. "To think what an effect it could have for us and that somebody could be that generous."

The nursing home had already taken out a nearly $1.5 million federal government loan to build a therapy wing, beauty salon and break room. Now officials expect to be able to repay the loan sooner, LeBaron said.

The Grandview Youth Association, which has received about half of its $200,000, has already built a peewee football field. It plans to build baseball and soccer fields, as well as a pavilion to be named after Pallmeyer, said association board member Janet Smith.

The Grandview community center, shuttered for more than a year, plans to use its $600,000 for much-needed renovations, and the town's library will use its $200,000 for an expansion.

"Knowing her the way I did, I knew she'd be satisfied with giving it to different groups instead of one person or organization," McDuff said.

Homeless shelter, too
Among the other beneficiaries are several universities across North Texas and a homeless shelter and a charitable foundation in Fort Worth. The other two committee members were a minister at Pallmeyer's church and one of her neighbors in Fort Worth.

Community leaders say Pallmeyer's legacy and what her gift will mean for Grandview — which has an annual budget of nearly $1.4 million — can't be underestimated.

"It's hard to describe in words how you feel," said Robert Stewart, president and CEO of Grandview Bank. "In Grandview we have a very small business community, and obviously they struggle for funding. These gifts are going to go a long way toward taking care of the needs these organizations have."

Man finds lost dog on pet-adoption Web site
Six years after disappearing, cuddly Cujo is back with his original owners

The Associated Press

Jacob Barczewski, 8, gets a close look Friday at his family’s golden retriever, Cujo, which had been missing for six years.

ST. LOUIS - Cujo was a frisky 7-year-old when he sneaked out of his owners' yard in July 2000.

Now, thinner and grayer and with a tale that would be fascinating if only he could tell it, the golden retriever is back with the Barczewski family.

"It's a miracle," 41-year-old Noreen Barczewski said at Friday's reunion. "We found him!"

Six years can do a lot to a dog, but it was unmistakably Cujo. There was the heart-shaped patch of white on his forehead, the white fur on his toes, his manner of greeting people by rubbing against them cat-style.

Brother-in-law's luck
Cujo had somehow ended up 120 miles away in Columbia in the home of an elderly woman. When the woman entered a nursing home, the dog was sent to the Central Missouri Humane Society in that city.

A week ago, Noreen Barczewski's brother-in-law, Michael Barczewski, went to an adoption agency Web site on a fluke. He'd been looking for a dog to adopt and saw the picture of the old dog with the white heart mark and white feet.

He recognized the dog immediately, and the reunion followed within days.

Skydiver survives free-fall by landing in bush
Report: Instructor videotaped 15,000-foot plunge after chute fails to open

MSNBC Interactive

A skydiving instructor in New Zealand escaped death by landing in a blackberry bush after his parachute failed during a 15,000-foot free-fall last week, according to reports.

Michael Holmes, 25, of Britain spun out of control when his main parachute apparently became tangled.

“When the second parachute didn’t open, I realized it was all over,” he told The Times of London from his hospital bed. “I was going to die. You don’t have much time to say goodbye.”

“The next thing I saw were friends, firemen, ambulances and police dogs,” he added.

Holmes survived the fall by landing in shrubbery less than 300 feet from a parking lot near Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, suffering a punctured lung and a broken ankle.

Holmes, who was wearing a helmet-mounted video camera, was taping a group of 10 people from Taupo Tandem Skydiving when the mishap occurred, according to The Age, an Australian news Web site.

The entire plunge, including the landing, was captured on videotape.

John Siddles, a witness, told London’s Daily Telegraph: “One of the skydivers coming down was going round and round, and he looked like he was all tangled up or something.”

The Daily Telegraph quoted the manager of the skydiving center, Hamish Funnell, as saying that Holmes was in good spirits at the hospital, “cracking jokes and hassling the nurses.”

Police and the New Zealand Parachute Industry Association are investigating the incident.

World’s tallest man saves dolphins in China
Herdsman, 7' 9", uses long arms to pull plastic from creatures' stomachs

The Associated Press

BEIJING - The long arms of the world’s tallest man reached in and saved two dolphins by pulling plastic material out of their stomachs, state media and an aquarium official said Thursday.

The dolphins got sick after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province. Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins’ stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Veterinarians then decided to ask for help from Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia with 41.7-inch arms, state media said.

Bao, 54, was confirmed last year by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s tallest living man.

Chen Lujun, the manager of the Royal Jidi Ocean World aquarium, told The Associated Press that the shape of the dolphins’ stomachs made it difficult to push an instrument very far in without hurting the animals. People with shorter arms could not reach the plastic, he said.

“When we failed to get the objects out we sought the help of Bao Xishun from Inner Mongolia and he did it successfully yesterday,” Chen said. “The two dolphins are in very good condition now.”

Photographs showed the jaws of one of the dolphins being held back by towels so Bao could reach inside the animal without being bitten.

“Some very small plastic pieces are still left in the dolphins’ stomachs,” Zhu Xiaoling, a local doctor, told Xinhua. “However the dolphins will be able to digest these and are expected to recover soon.”

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tragically, no wolf was available to huff, puff
3 pigs die in house fire they triggered by knocking over TV after breakout
The Associated Press

BELGRADE, Serbia - A farmer's home in northern Serbia was destroyed in a blaze caused by three pigs that broke out of their pen, walked into the living room and knocked over the TV, police said Wednesday.

The television tube burst, starting a fire that spread through the house late Monday in Temerin, 50 miles, northwest of Belgrade, local police said.

No people were hurt, but the pigs perished.
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The farmer was out at the time, police said.