The Odd Side – June 9, 2015

Free Pizza for Life Helps Close Portland Real Estate Deal

PORTLAND, Ore. – In Portland’s hot real estate market where some homes are getting dozens of offers and bidding wars have sent prices skyrocketing, one buyer found a way to stand out among the rest: Offer free pizza every month for life.

Donna DiNicola, owner of an Italian restaurant in southeast Portland, might have been joking when she offered the pizza, but it worked. Her offer for a 900 square foot (83.6 sq meter) house in southeast Portland for her 23-year-old son was accepted.

“It was really a joke,” she said. “I did not know that made it into the paperwork.”

DiNicola, who has been in business for 38 years, saw the Portland market heating up and encouraged her two sons to start looking.

“I thought, well, time is ticking and we’ve got to get into this market,” she said, adding the house was perfect even though it was at the top of their price range after offering $275,000 and two months of free rent for the sellers.

“Donna’s offer was just so compelling and the fact that she offered 60 days of rent back for free, which is practically unheard of,” said Holly Marsh, the seller. “And then the pizza part was just hilarious. It just goes to show they really did something to stand out among the offers.”

Marsh, who has a five-month-old baby and a son turning four on Thursday, said they might just take up that pizza offer for their son’s birthday dinner. Marsh, who designs and sews baby items locally, said the family decided to sell after outgrowing their Portland home.

The housing market in Portland is exploding as more people flock to the area.

“Everything’s going pending in a couple days. Almost everything’s getting multiple offers,” said Nathaniel Bachelder, Urban Nest Realty listing agent for the loosely dubbed “pizza house.” He added housing inventory for March and April was less than two months.

Graduation Cheers Land Several People in Mississippi in Trouble

JACKSON, Miss. – A Mississippi school superintendent has pressed charges of disturbing the peace against several people who cheered during a recent high school graduation.

Jay Foster, superintendent for the Senatobia Municipal School District, said he told spectators at the Senatobia High School graduation not to applaud for family members until all graduates’ names had been called in order to keep the ceremony dignified.

“We didn’t tell them they couldn’t cheer. We just asked them to wait until the end so everyone has an opportunity to hear their graduate’s name,” he said.

Four people did not comply and were asked to leave, Foster said. The superintendent later went to the police to pursue charges against the three people he has been able to identify so far.

Ursula Miller is among those facing charges after she shouted out for her niece. She and the others were expected to appear in court.

“I can understand they can escort me out of the graduation but to say they are going to put me in jail for it?” Miller said in an interview. “What else are they allowed to do?”

Fake Orca Nearly Drowns Before It Can Scare Oregon Sea Lions

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – When a 32-foot replica killer whale buzzed through the water to scare off hundreds of sea lions piled on Oregon docks, onlookers cheered. And then the dummy orca went belly-up.

The motorized fiberglass orca was brought to the seaside town of Astoria to deal with ne’er-do-wells, in this case sea lions crowding onto docks and making it difficult for locals to access their boats.

But the orca’s first day on the job was a flop.

About 1,000 people cheered as the dummy whale — with its human operator inside — took to the water. Jim Knight, executive director of the Port of Astoria, said sea lions that were crowded onto the docks became “deathly silent.”

But as a cargo ship passed by, the phony orca started to list from the vessel’s wake. And then the bogus orca capsized.

“Our crew from the port had to go rescue the operator so he didn’t drown,” Knight said. “They probably think it’s dead now that it’s belly up,” Knight said. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

That was not the first fiasco for the dummy orca.

The replica whale, loaned by a whale-watching business, was delivered overland from Bellingham, Washington. After arrival, the orca’s outboard motor flooded and a replacement had to be found.

Sea lion numbers along the West Coast have grown sharply since they were protected under a 1972 federal law. As water temperatures increase off the coast of California, the animals have sought cooler waters to the north in Oregon. The sea lions that have been taking over docks at the Port of Astoria are also attracted by bountiful runs of salmon and smelt in the nearby Columbia River, biologists say.

While the thousands of tourists who visit Astoria each year might find the sea lions amusing, many locals see them as a nuisance. Officials say the sea lions break docks, block access to boats, and eat the fish on which the town’s economy depends.

The fake orca was outfitted with recordings of real killer-whale calls, especially the “call to dinner” — usually emitted in the wild after they kill a sea lion or seal.

The orca capsized before the recording could be tried out.

Afterwards, the fake orca was on a truck heading back to Bellingham for repairs.

It will be back in August when sea lions return to Astoria en masse for salmon-spawning season, said Terry Buzzard, who owns the orca contraption.

Does Free Ping-Pong in Seattle Parks Stop Crime?

SEATTLE (AP) – Seattle is wondering if free ping pong in its parks may help stop crime.

A ping pong table was installed at Hing Hay Park in Chinatown four years ago. Since then, crime data from the Seattle Police Department suggests incidents in the area seem to be going down.

No one is willing to draw a direct connection between the ping pong table and the crime statistics, but the city has installed four other tables since then.

Officials believe the positive community activity could be crowding out crime.