Heard Around the West

  • Does she have to say it in public? St. George, Utah

    Greg Woodall
 

COLORADO

Decked in virginal veils and jaunty bowties, 178 canine couples walked down the aisle recently in Littleton, Colo., though we’re still wondering how a ring fits over a toe that sports a claw. The mock nuptials weren’t just a dotty indulgence for dog lovers, reports the Denver Post. “Bow Wow Vows” raised over $3,000 for the Dumb Friends League.

THE NORTHWEST

It was late at night, and an Amtrak “special” filled with sports fans was hurtling along south of Seattle, Wash., at 79 miles per hour. Suddenly, the train’s lights illuminated a house sitting on the tracks, dead ahead. There were two men working on the roof, trying to raise utility wires in order to cross the tracks. Emergency brakes were applied, but a collision was inevitable, and the house splintered, reports the Bulletin of the Association of Oregon Railroad Transit Advocates. Amazingly, the two men on the roof survived the crash, as did the passengers on the train, which didn’t derail. Timbers erupting from the house, however, burst through the railroad cab and seriously injured the engineer. The nonprofit Bulletin took pains to describe the accident because so many people make wrong assumptions when they see railroad tracks: They figure that because they’re mostly free of train traffic, the coast is clear. Yet 60 trains a day pass the spot where train-met-house in the dark. Freight and commuter trains are not listed in the Amtrak timetable, and the house movers failed to contact the railroad to negotiate a safe period for crossing the tracks. Misconceptions about train traffic are so prevalent, the Bulletin adds, that high school track coaches in Salem, Ore., sent teenagers running along a Union Pacific main line and over a narrow railroad trestle for practice. A footbridge now directs people away from the trestle and possible commingling with a train.

THE NATION

Staffers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aren’t laughing much these days. A member of PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says that Websense, the agency’s new filter for incoming Internet messages, is so zealous in its mission to block porn and online gambling that it also blocks the cartoon Doonesbury and even the word “humor” itself. If staffers try to search for humor in the workplace, adds PEEReview, you reach “a warning page that humor is off-limits.”

UTAH

It took 12 years, but last month, Proctor & Gamble finally won its case and a judgment of $19 million against four Amway distributors who spread the rumor that P&G, maker of laundry detergent and other household products, was tight with the Devil himself. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the distributors used Amway’s voice-mail system to tell their fellow workers that P&G’s “president had appeared on a TV talk show and announced his company’s affiliation with the Church of Satan.” This sounds so nutty it is surprising that anyone would believe it, but P&G told a district court judge that the company’s reputation had been besmirched and that it lost millions of dollars over the years because of the smear campaign.

COLORADO

A group of 30 volunteers, including children and staffers from the Bureau of Land Management, spent Earth Day roaming the back hills of the North Fork Valley of western Colorado. Armed with bags to corral beer cans, plastic bags and other junk, they were busily picking up junk when they noticed a man doing just the opposite — dumping his trash nearby. It made for an easy bust for the BLM — the man was cited and later fined $100 — and a little extra excitement for the annual “Dobie Clean-Up.”

CALIFORNIA

You have to give 18-year-old Azia Kim an “A” for chutzpah. The Orange County teenager pretended to be a Stanford University freshman for almost the entire school year, conning two women into letting her be their roommate, and “talking about tests she apparently never would take,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Because Kim didn’t have a school-issued card key to open dormitory doors, she convinced her roomies to leave a window open; one student thought this was so much fun, she started entering and leaving her room that way, too. Staffers at one dorm finally started asking questions, and Kim disappeared, leaving varied reactions in her wake. Postings on the Web site of the Stanford Daily ranged from one parent who found the security breach “utterly appalling,” to a student who urged Stanford to let Kim stay: “After figuring all that out, doesn’t she deserve a shot to do it for real?” Kim enjoyed her no-classes-no-tests time at college; a youth pastor at a church in Los Angeles says she told him “she was having a great time at Stanford.”

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • MS ACCESS DATABASE PROGRAMER
    Looking for an access programmer. Contract position. Send resume with references and rates to: [email protected] www.prospace.biz
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...