Odds and Ends 7-14-2009

Toy-gun robber foiled by store worker wielding bat

BAY MINETTE, Ala. — Authorities in southern Alabama say a gas station employee used a cricket bat to chase away a would-be robber who brandished a toy gun.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s office says the suspect entered Bee Gee’s gas station near Bay Minette Saturday afternoon and tried to use the fake weapon to steal money.

Sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Gaull tells the Press-Register of Mobile that the employee noticed the gun had an orange tip on the barrel and grabbed the cricket bat. The suspect then ran out of the store without any money.

The 22-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery.

Boston zoos may receive funds out of euthanasia scare

BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers said Monday they would try to restore $4 million in state funds for two local zoos after operators suggested that without the money, animals might have to be destroyed — a claim the governor called a scare tactic.

Zoo New England, which runs the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the companion Stone Zoo in suburban Stoneham, warned late last week that if the cuts stood, it would be forced to lay off most employees and some 1,000 animals could possibly have to be euthanized.

Gov. Deval Patrick sent out assurances that no animal would be killed or was ever truly threatened with euthanasia. He said the zoo had responded to the cut “by spreading inaccurate and incendiary information.”

The financial problems plaguing the Boston zoos reflect the tough times for their counterparts across the country.

Old nuclear missile site gets first visitor

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. — A former nuclear missile launch center that closed as the Cold War was winding down opened Monday to a public curious to see what life was like at the once-top secret site.

The Ronald Reagan Minuteman site, surrounded by wheat and soybean fields in eastern North Dakota, looked much as it would have in 1997 when it still was active.

Visitors can go underground and view where Air Force officers once sat to wait for a possible nuclear war. It was their job to monitor 10 nearby Minuteman III nuclear missiles — and to launch them if ordered.

A freight elevator took about 30 visitors Monday to two cavernous rooms that resemble railroad tunnels, where the underground air smelled faintly of diesel fuel.

From Associated Press reports