Heard around the West

  • A tongue gets a barbell in Jackson, Wyo.

    Jim Evans photo

Small towns are different - sometimes because they're the friendly places they're cracked up to be. In the mountain town of Nederland, Colo., the owner of the local music store told writer Karuna Eberl that, although he'd be closed for vacation, she could still pick up from the local propane dealer a compact disc she'd ordered. Eberl tells us she forgot to drop by to get her music but no matter: The next day, the propane hauler knocked on her door, handed her the CD and said: "Figured we'd save you a trip."

In Jackson, Wyo., the trend is strictly big city, thanks to the ski town's first tattoo and body-piercing parlor. When owner Terry Myers, a San Diego native, visited the town last year, he says he was amazed to find not a single shop devoted to "body art." Then he found out why. "Property owners didn't want to rent to us," he told the Jackson Hole News. "They didn't want to be the first one to let me in." Myers, who finally found a landlord, says he won't work on anyone under 18. Tattoo clients come in all ages, he adds, while younger people such as snowboarders opt for piercings. The going rate is $60 for a tongue and $30 for a navel, lip, eyebrow or nose. Adding dangling metal objects to the skin can be hazardous. Myers says he used to have two nipples like everyone else - until he worked bare-chested on a busted truck. "I bent over the grill and radiator, and the ring fell around a screw. I stood up and it (his nipple) just split in half."

Buttonholing folks on the street, the Aspen Weekly probed what individuals were doing to prepare for the dreaded Y2K bug. One resident said she'd had "success with KY, so why change products and go with Y2K?"

An Internet letter we want to be real appeared in our e-mail, thanks to Evan Cantor of Boulder, Colo.: "Date: Jan. 1, 2000. Dear Valued Employee: Our records indicate that you have not used any vacation time over the past 100 years. Employees are granted two weeks of paid leave per year or pay in lieu of time off, plus a week for every five years of service.

"Please either take 9,400 days off or your next paycheck will reflect payment of $8.2 million, which will include all pay and interest for the past 1,200 months. Sincerely, Automated Payroll Processing."

But if a banking windfall comes your way in Garfield County, Colo., watch out. Though the error might be in your favor, you'll probably go to jail. That's what happened to Rifle resident Dominicka Ramsay, 30, when she closed her account and found the bank had accidentally kicked in $16,300. "What was I supposed to believe?" she asked the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. "I don't see how I should have to pay for the bank's mistake." So Ramsay quickly spent the found bucks on a truck, a shopping spree and paying off accumulated bills. She insists she'll try to pay the money back, though not any time soon. These days she's wearing orange prison coveralls.

Speaking of orange, four hunters in Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest were chit-chatting when a black bear ambled into the clearing. What a happened next led to their arrest and conviction for a number of offenses, including shooting from a public road. All four men leaned on a truck's camper shell and opened fire, blasting away up to 14 times before killing the bear. A Carbon County judge fined one of the group, outfitter Gary Dean Buck, $1,060, and also revoked his hunting and fishing privileges until 2002. The witness, who was not identified by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, says the outfitter urged him to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he turned them in.

Utah's 2002 Olympic games may be tainted by a bribery scandal, but headlines about payoffs to Olympic Committee officials seem merely to have piqued interest abroad, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Calls to the state's tourism information line have more than doubled since the story broke. Though he could be suffering from a Pollyanna complex, one tourism promoter in Italy says: "Not enough people in Europe know about Utah, so this is good to give some exposure and allow us to explain the destination." Cynicism might explain the comment of a tourism promoter in Belgium: "Why make a big deal out of something that in Europe is just common practice?" In any case, 1/800-UTAHFUN is now receiving more than 1,000 calls a week.

A Las Vegas, Nev., constable admitted he took time off from work to hang around strippers at one of the city's top "exotic clubs." Taxpayers were never cheated, he said, because "he was always available by cellular phone," reports the Las Vegas Sun.

What's the latest gambling gimmick emerging from Las Vegas? A treadmill that allows a casino devotee to both drip sweat and bet simultaneously, reports The New York Times. The company's motto for its "Money Mill" workout might be a winner: "Put your heart into gaming." Another machine called "Pedal 'N Play" connects a stationary bike to a slot machine, and just like the treadmill with a gambling habit, it won't let you wager unless your muscles do some work.

Finally, a story of the New West from Kemmerer, Wyo. A woman called the county sheriff to report that a gas leak threatened her home. On investigating, officers discovered that the family dog had been sprayed by a skunk, and that was causing the stink. Its odor was so strong that deputies "cleared the residence fairly fast as the woman thanked them for the timely response."

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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