News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Coyote was too lifelike for campers

The ranger at Buck's Pocket State Park near Guntersville has a lifelike stuffed coyote in a corner of his office. He explained its obscure location to Eric Fleischauer.

Two elderly women, he said, visited the park a year ago. They were dressed nicely for campers, but were determined to taste the great outdoors. Both eyed the coyote hesitantly, standing at the far end of the counter, as they reserved a tent site.

At that very moment, the tongue fell out of the coyote, hitting the floor with a thunk. Both women screamed. One trampled the other while escaping. The trampled woman crawled out the door.

"If they had needed CPR, it would have been too bad," the ranger recalled. "I was laughing so hard for the next hour that I couldn't do anything."

The ladies never came back.

Curbing impatience

Some people just can't stand to wait on a train.

Decatur installed concrete curbs down the center line of Vine Street Northwest at a railroad crossing that already had drop gates, lights and bells.

The curbs, installed this summer, already show scrape marks where vehicles tried to go over the curbs to reach a gap in the drop gates so they could drive through.

Tami Reist, manager of the nearby Country Inn and Suites, told Paul Huggins she knows of one van that got stuck on the curbs.

Volunteer lottery job

Living close to the Tennessee state line has its duties. Relatives living south of here call, wanting lottery tickets.

So north on Interstate 65 Chris Paschenko drove in search of fortune. He found three express lottery convenience stores just off the first exit, but cars with Alabama license plates filled the parking lots and lined the streets.

Some people drove from as far away as Jefferson and Walker counties. Some spent more on fuel than they did on the lottery.

Railroaded delegate

If Morgan County Board of Education member Betty Hackett sees a strong light coming her way, it's a train coming to take her to the Alabama Association of School Boards' winter delegate conference in Birmingham.

Bayne Hughes reports that fellow board members railroaded Betty, the newest member, into representing them as one of two delegates at the Dec. 8 meeting.

Jimmy Dobbs volunteered to be a delegate, Mike Tarpley and Carolyn Wallace quickly nominated Betty, and the board voted her in. She barely had time to object.

"I think it would be good experience for her," Carolyn said. Betty wasn't so sure.

3 extra years for Larry Bird

Eric James Torpy figured if he was going to prison, he might as well do it with the number of retired NBA star Larry Bird.

Eric, accused shooting with intent to kill and robbery, reached a plea agreement in Oklahoma City. It was for 30 years, but Eric had it increased to 33, according to The Associated Press. That's Larry's basketball jersey number.

"We accommodated his request, and he was just as happy as he could be," said Judge Ray Elliott.

Do you suppose he'll accept parole?

Send stories for You Don't Say to or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444. Or write P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609. DAILY staff members contribute many of the items you see here.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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