The Odd Side – February 2, 2016

Minnesota Sled Dog Race Underway

TWO HARBORS, Minn. (Reuters)The annual John Beargrease sled dog race is officially underway. Twelve mushers are registered to guide their teams along a trail that begins in Two Harbors, Minnesota, about 25 miles northeast of Duluth.

They’ll wind through the state for nearly 400 miles before crossing the finish line in suburban Duluth. Temperatures are warmer than normal, and that will make the race more challenging, according to musher Julia Cross from Thunder Bay, Ontario. “It’s going to be hot too, so the dogs are going to be hot, so we’re going to have to take lots of breaks. They’ll stop and they’ll get some time to cool off. I wish it was colder, but that’s Okay,” said Cross.

The race is named for a John Beargrease, a Native American who delivered mail by dogsled in the 1800s. Officials say it’s the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states and one of the qualifying races for the Iditarod in Alaska. The winner is expected to cross the finish line sometime Wednesday morning.

Cats in Maine Still Await Inheritance From $200,000 Estate

DIXFIELD, Maine (AP) – A Maine town and a group of cat caretakers have sued estate trustees in a long-running dispute over a woman’s wishes that her life savings go to care for abandoned cats.

Barbara Thorpe died in 2002 and left most of her $200,000 estate to give food, shelter and veterinary care to the stray cats of Dixfield. The Sun Journal reports that only a few thousand dollars have been given for the cats’ care.

Lawyers have taken more than $16,000, and the estate’s trustees received over $22,000.

Dixfield and five women who care for the town’s strays sued the trustees last week. The suit says the trustees excessively billed fees to the trust and have failed to carry out Thorpe’s wishes.

The trustees’ attorney says they “vehemently deny any wrongdoing.”

Fugitive Found in ‘Elaborate Tunnel System’ at Trailer Park

SITKA, Alaska (AP) – Authorities arrested a convicted fugitive after finding him hiding this week in what they called an “elaborate tunnel system” dug underneath a trailer home in Alaska.

The tunnels narrowed as officers walked further in, forcing them to trudge through on their knees and then on their stomachs.

Police in the city of Sitka say they eventually spotted Jeremy Beebe’s foot sticking out of another hidden entrance, catching him after an officer pulled back the skirting around the trailer.

Police Lt. Lance Ewers said Beebe, 42, had failed to report to the police department on Jan. 12 after he was sentenced to nearly two years in prison, the Sitka Sentinel reported.

Acting on a tip, officers staked out a trailer park Wednesday and saw Beebe heading in to one of the units. A woman who answered the door said Beebe was not there.

Police then used a battering ram to get through a plywood door they found on the outside of the trailer, which led to the tunnel system.

Beebe was arrested and may face additional charges of contempt of court, Ewers said.

Decades Later, Western Michigan Library Gets Book Back

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) – A book has been returned to a library in western Michigan — 49 years later.

The borrower told the library that he was a college student in 1967 when he checked out a book about World War II from the Herrick library in Holland. He wrote in a letter that the book was stored in a trunk that hadn’t been opened until recently. He also provided a donation with his letter.

Library director Diane Kooiker declined to identify the title of the book or the man’s name, citing privacy. She said he sent $100.

In his letter, the man described it as a “modest donation” on what could be a “tremendous fine.”

Kooiker tells The Grand Rapids Press that honest people sometimes can misplace a book.

Lizard Found in Kindergartner’s Salad Becomes New Class Pet

PRINCETON, N.J. (Reuters) – A tiny green lizard found by a New Jersey kindergarten student in a bundle of chilled salad greens at home has wriggled its way into the hearts of an entire elementary school class, which has adopted it as a mascot.

The three-inch (7.5-cm) critter went unnoticed for a few days in the refrigerator in Princeton, New Jersey, before Sally Mabon and her daughter Faye found its limp body while unwrapping a bunch of tatsoi, an Asian leaf, science teacher Mark Eastburn of Riverside Elementary School in Princeton said on Tuesday.

Warmth restored its energy and soon the anole lizard was on its way to Riverside Elementary School, where it caught “oohs” and “aahs” like flies, and quickly became the class pet.

Resembling the Geico Gecko, the juvenile lizard has been named “Green Fruit Loop” by the children.

“It’s great because the kids are studying DNA and the anole is the only reptile to have its entire DNA code sequenced,” Eastburn said.

Fran McManus, spokeswoman for Whole Earth Center, the natural foods store where Mabon bought the tatsoi, told Reuters by telephone that a Florida grower believes the lizard snuggled into the greens as they were being harvested in chilly temperatures and then woke up as a stowaway in New Jersey.

The lizard lurking in the salad greens has turned out to be a valuable learning experience, Eastburn said in an email to Whole Earth.

“It underscores that food doesn’t just come from the supermarket but from actual outdoor farms,” the email said.

Also known as an American chameleon, the anole changes color from green to brown to blend into its surroundings, which now include a glass enclosure near the blackboard in Eastburn’s classroom.

So far, the lizard has feasted on a live cricket and some fruit flies and has no appetite for tatsoi, Eastburn said.