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The Odd Truth, Feb. 1, 2005

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Joey Arak.

Students Flee Smelly School

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. - The children at Ocean City Elementary say school stinks.

And they're right.

More than 70 have transferred from Ocean City Elementary because an aging and outmoded sewage treatment plant next door is emitting a foul odor.

"The smell affects us physically as well as the operation of our school," said Principal Debbie Boutwell. She said the school's budget is affected because out of 77 children who received zoning waivers not to attend the school, 70 cited the smell as the reason.

"We get roughly $3,800 per student, so that's a lot of money that we aren't able to use for staffing," Boutwell said. "We have to write grants to get extra programs like PE and music."

She and her staff had hoped Okaloosa County, which operates the treatment plant just outside Fort Walton Beach, would close it soon. But officials last week said it will be another three years before that could happen.

"Relocating a sewage treatment plant is a really tough thing to do," County Manager Chris Holley said when he met with Boutwell and teachers. "Nobody wants it in their back yard."

Mom Jailed For Son's Fine

ANGLETON, Texas - A Houston-area mother whose daughter's tardiness landed her in school detention wound up in jail over one of her son's unpaid fines.

Susan Manis was surprised last week when two Brazoria County deputies showed up at her home with a warrant for her arrest.

Manis and her husband, Steve, had recently spent an hour in detention with their 13-year-old daughter, who was late for class six times when the family's van wouldn't start.

"I'm wondering what's going to happen next," Susan Manis said Monday. "I'm 42 years old, and I've never had anything more serious than a traffic ticket."

Manis said she was handcuffed, put in a patrol car and taken to jail.

"I just cried at first," she said.

Her husband contacted a judge, who called the jail and ordered her release.

The warrant stemmed from Manis missing a monthly payment on fees and fines levied against one of her sons when he was a juvenile.

Because her son, now 19, does not have a steady job, she had agreed to send the court $50 a month to pay off about $10,000 in fines, fees and court costs he owes from three convictions.

"I accepted responsibility for them," said Manis, who agreed in court to make a payment by Thursday.

Vain Buffalo Strikes A Pose

RAPID CITY, S.D. - A buffalo that escaped from an auction ended up in a dressing room at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, where it spent a couple of hours staring into a mirror.

The buffalo jumped over a steel panel Sunday morning during the Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo, went down an alley and got into the dressing room reserved for visiting sports teams, said Brian Maliske, the civic center's general manager.

"The door happened to be unlocked and he pushed the door open and went in," Maliske said.

The crew conducting the Black Hills Classic Buffalo Sale decided to keep the animal locked in the dressing room for the rest of the auction. During its two-hour stay, it reportedly became fascinated with its image in a big mirror.

Once the sale ended, a rodeo crew member coaxed the buffalo out of the dressing room and back into captivity.

The animal never got into a public area, Maliske said.

Super Fill-In Ditches Construction

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A couple weeks ago Jeff Thomason figured he would be watching the Super Bowl on TV like just about everybody else. Now, the construction project manager is not only going to the big game, he's going to be playing in it. Thomason will replace injured Philadelphia tight end Chad Lewis. Thomason retired two years ago after a decade in the NFL. He's played for Eagles' coach Andy Reid in both Philadelphia and Green Bay. Reid notes that Thomason has kept in shape by training for triathlons and is familiar with Philadelphia's offensive. Thomason simply says he's probably the luckiest guy in the world.

Seven Decades Of Marital Bliss

FREMONT TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A golden anniversary is ancient history to Jim and Mary McSweyn. The Saginaw, Michigan, couple recently celebrated their 72nd anniversary. The McSweyns have 19 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. Like their wedding, their anniversary party was a low-key affair, a spaghetti dinner with family. Mary McSweyn says they didn't have a big wedding. She didn't even have a wedding dress at her nuptials during the height of the Great Depression. Daughter Sharon Walker says her mother's frugal ways continued long after the Depression ended. Walker says her mother made all the kids' clothes. Walker adds she didn't get a store-bought dress until she was in high school.

Statue Gets Bobbitt Treatment

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Someone in Canada is trying to hammer home a point -- about a nude statue. Authorities in Penticton, British Columbia, report the male organ has been knocked off the sculpture of a nude man. The artwork sparked a controversy earlier this month and a metal plate was bolted over the figure's private parts. But the metallic fig leaf was removed after a vote by the city council. Artist Michael Hermesh says he's disgusted by the vandalism of his work. The statue had received official approval, even though the mayor had some objections.

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