Saluting a salamander and surviving an unexpected windfall

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • UTAH A rose by another name.

    Ted McGrath

Call him intellectually curious or just plain lost, but a black bear recently sauntered through the halls of Bozeman High School as easy as you please. An open garage door apparently beckoned, and the bear was first spotted in the cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. Video taken by foreign exchange student Leon Uebelhoer showed the bear “strolling” down a hall of the high school, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, with students gingerly keeping their distance. According to Bozeman police officer Rick Musson, who helped usher the bear back outside, “It was a nice, pretty black bear (and) didn’t show any sign of aggression.” No word on what classes the bear was interested in.

A quirky map provided by the Alaska Robotics Art Gallery assures tourists that “Juneau is a safe community and the locals are friendly so your chances of getting stabbed or shot are vanishingly slim.” But bears, it seems, are a dime a dozen, so the map offers this advice: “Running into bears is not uncommon. Don’t worry; you’re unlikely to be eaten. If you see a bear, don’t approach it, don’t feed it, and back away slowly.” One final bit of wisdom: “If you can’t find a place to drink in downtown Juneau, you’ve had too much already.”

The headline in the Cody Enterprise for the “All Camps Celebration” at Heart Mountain, where some 10,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II, was “Sadness, not bitterness.” Yet those interned had ample reason to resent what their government did to them, reported Janice Downey. One of the 250 people reuniting in late August at what is now the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, for example, was Takashi Hoshizaki, a 1943 graduate of Heart Mountain High School. Hoshizaki was drafted in 1944 and would have joined about 5,000 other Japanese Americans in the war effort in Europe, had he and others from the camp not refused to go. But “I thought it was very unfair,” he recalled. “My parents were still behind barbed wire.” At the trial, his defense was as simple as it was futile: “Let our parents go home and get our constitutional rights back. Then I will gladly serve.” Hoshizaki was imprisoned for three years, though later on, in 1953, he served in the armed services during the Korean War, working in a highly classified position on biological and chemical warfare. The switch from being imprisoned to receiving top-secret clearance felt “absolutely crazy,” he recalled. In a welcoming talk to the group, former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson summed up our nation’s racist policies toward Japanese American citizens this way: “There was never a single case of espionage by a Japanese American during the whole war, so what a feckless exercise it was.”

Congratulations, Ilah Hickman, 14, for hanging in there for five years on behalf of the Idaho giant salamander. Lawmakers first killed a bill in committee that would have made the 12-or-more-inch-long critter the state amphibian, but later reconsidered, sending the bill on to the governor. Gov. “Butch” Otter was kind enough to include Hickman in the bill-signing ceremony, inviting her to sit behind his desk and joining in selfies with Hickman and her high school friends.

In Nogales, Arizona, just over the border from Mexico, a smuggler made a big mistake Sept. 8. In the hour just before dawn, the drug runner’s pilotless drone or ultralight aircraft — no one knows for sure — released a 26-pound package of marijuana worth $10,000 in the wrong place, dropping it on the carport of the house where Bill and Maya Donnelly and their three teenage daughters were sleeping. At first, they thought the thump was thunder, but later that morning Maya found a black-plastic-wrapped package in the smashed dog bed that — fortunately — had not been occupied by Hulk, the family German shepherd. Donnelly immediately called 911, a decision her friends later teased her about, reports the Nogales International newspaper. “That’s what everybody says: ‘Why did you call 911?’ But how can you have a clear conscience, right?” Nogales Police Chief Derek Arnson said it was the first time in three years that he’d heard of a load of drugs hitting a building: “Someone definitely made a mistake,” he said, “and who knows what the outcome of that mistake might be for them?”

Talk about lucky! The unidentified pilot of a single engine plane that “stopped working” flopped down without wheels on a major interstate through Boise right as rush-hour traffic began, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide. The pilot had plenty of fuel but somehow forgot to switch to a second tank, and this shut down the engine of the Cessna T210K. The forced landing at 7 a.m. in the dark ended with only minor damage to the plane’s propeller, and not a single hapless commuter drove a vehicle into the plane.

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