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The Odd Truth: Jan. 31, 2005

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

Tampas' Jims Swap Cities

TAMPA, Kan. - All Jim Clemmer and Jim Allen have in common is that they both call Tampa home.

Clemmer lives in Tampa, Kan., while Allen lives in a suburb of Tampa, Fla. Next month, the two men will trade places and discover the "other" Tampa. The visits were arranged as part of a contest sponsored by a Tampa, Fla., radio station.

Neither man really knows what to expect on his visit.

"I don't know what we'll be doing," Clemmer said of the trip he and his wife, Mary, will make to Florida. "All I know is it ain't gonna cost anything."

For his part, Allen said the idea of spending a weekend in a "small, rural Kansas town" was "intriguing."

Allen, of Brandon, Fla., won the radio contest by picking the winning slogan for Tampa, Fla., "Paradise Under Construction." Clemmer was chosen to go to Florida because he is mayor of Tampa, Kan.

Airport Weddings Take Off

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - The number of weddings performed at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport are taking off.

Spokesman Niclas Haerenstam said Monday such ceremonies increased by more than 30 percent last year compared with 2003. "It's mostly couples on their way to their honeymoon that take the opportunity to exchange rings at the airport," Haerenstam said.

Last year, 348 couples married at the airport, compared with 261 in 2003. The weddings took place either in the airport chapel or, more commonly, in a VIP room, where they can check in their luggage, order champagne and catering, and when the wedding ceremony is over, be driven straight up to the aircraft.

"The newlyweds get the same service as for instance the royal family when they travel," he said. "This is a good solution for those who want a more simple ceremony and who give priority to the honeymoon trip."

School Fights Dumb Puns

NEWBURY, Mass. - The 18th century boarding school in this town, Governor Dummer Academy, wants to change its name to prevent any smart guys from making jokes about it.

Headmaster John Doggett said the "Dummer" name can make a poor first impression on prospective students and their parents, even though it's simply the surname of Massachusetts Gov. William Dummer, who donated land to start the school.

"Rightly or wrongly, first impressions make a difference," headmaster John Doggett said. "Certainly, when you go outside of the Boston region, the first impression sometimes doesn't convey what the school is all about."

Some alumni think it's a dumb idea.

"It's a horrible move," said Thomas Driscoll of Swampscott, a 1978 graduate and football co-captain who is now the Essex County Clerk of Courts. "Governor Dummer has such tradition. That's what troubles me about this ... The name is very special."

The school, which has 371 students, opened in 1763 and bills itself as the nation's first independent boarding school. The name has been changed several times, but has always included Dummer's name.

The Board of Trustees, which includes parents and alumni, will vote on a new name in May.

Croc Wants In On Adult Swim

DARWIN, Australia - Swimmers evacuated a public swimming pool here when they discovered they were sharing it with a might fearsome swimmer -- a crocodile.

About four people were swimming laps of the Olympic-length pool on the outskirts of Darwin when a lifeguard was alerted that a three-foot-long saltwater crocodile had been spotted.

"Lap swimmers were swimming and then a lady came up and said there was a crocodile," pool life guard Maxine Cross told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

The pool was closed until early afternoon Sunday when government wildlife authorities removed the young reptile. They described it as placid and in poor health.

Government spokesman Clay Smith could not say whether it had crawled to the pool from the wild or had been dumped there. It was taken to a Darwin crocodile farm where it will either join breeding stock or be slaughtered for leather.

Parents Love Prized School

TUCSON, Ariz. - Maybe it's the free appliances that are the reason so many kids go to class at one Arizona elementary school.

The school is giving prizes away to the parents. The prizes include big-ticket items such as refrigerators, computers, TV's, washers and dryers. All the items are either brand new or lightly used and are donated by volunteers.

Davidson Elementary School boasts an almost 93 percent attendance rate. That's up just one percent from last year, but the program started the last quarter of the last school year, so any resulting improved attendance hasn't been noticed yet.

However, there is a down side.

The program may have prompted some parents to send their children to school when the kids were sick. One staff member says that's not good.

Eagles Fan Goes For Broke

PHILADELPHIA - Some long-suffering Philadelphia fans are betting the ranch to see their Eagles in the Super Bowl. Kevin O'Donoghue is borrowing against his house to make the trip to Jacksonville, Florida. He and his wife took out a home equity line of credit to get the $4,000 they need to see the Eagles play the Patriots next Sunday. He says it's worth it for a chance in a lifetime experience. The O'Donoghues are not alone. Mortgage bankers in the area say they're getting calls from lots of Eagles fans wanting some quick cash.

Lottery Loss Is Schools' Gain

FRANKFORT, Ill. - A very lucky lottery winner is about to become very unlucky. No one has claimed the $14 million jackpot from an Illinois lottery drawing a year ago today. That winning ticket is expiring and will be worthless tomorrow. Lottery officials say the winning ticket was bought at a gas station in the southern Chicago suburb of Frankfort. If no one produces that winning ticket, all the money goes into the state's common school fund for public education. By the way, those winning numbers are: 14, 23, 24, 36, 37, and 50.

Hey, Mink: Can You Hear Me Now?

MINK, La. - Beginning today, people in the hamlet of Mink, Louisiana, will know the pleasure of a phone call or the frustration of a busy signal. It was one of the last rural areas of the U.S. without regular phone service. BellSouth has spent $700,000, or about $47,000 per phone, to extend 30 miles of cable through thick forests to Mink. Taxpayers will pick up some of the tab, with a levy on their phone bills statewide. There's going to be a fish-fry in Mink to celebrate today. Who knows, maybe the dinner will be interrupted by a call from a telemarketer.

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