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UPI NewsTrack Quirks in the News

May 4, 2012 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Rare flowers to bloom in Ontario

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario, May 4 (UPI) -- Officials at the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse in Ontario said two of the six rare Titan Arum flowers it received are about to bloom.

Joan Cornelius, manager of the Floral Showhouse, said one of the flowers, which are known as the world's tallest flowers, is expected to bloom any day and the other is expected to bloom in about 10 days, WIVB-TV, Buffalo, N.Y., reported Friday.

The ready-to-bloom flowers each weigh about 150 pounds and are about 6 years old. They were given to the facility by a donor in New Hampshire.

"The corm can actually get up to 250 pounds, so if we grow them well and they are happy after the bloom, the bloom only lasts for three to four days, then it will collapse. Then it will send out a leaf and that can last up to nine months to a year. That leaf is going to make these corms get bigger," Cornelius said.

The plants give off the smell of rotting meat when the flowers bloom to attract the same insects that feed on dead animals, officials said.


Official: Buying county a yacht was wrong

CRESTVIEW, Fla., May 4 (UPI) -- A former tourism director in Okaloosa County, Fla., acknowledged using public money for a $710,000 yacht was a mistake.

Mark Bellinger resigned Tuesday as head of the Tourism Development Council in Okaloosa County, the Northwest Florida Daily News reported. He said the luxury yacht was intended to be a vehicle for promotional campaigns for the county, which is in the Florida panhandle.

Bellinger met with angry county commissioners and argued he was trying to do his best for the county when he made the purchase, which was paid for by a tax on hotel stays. But he agreed he should not have spent that kind of money without consulting anyone else.

"I did put the cart before the horse," he said. "It was a mistake in judgment on my part."

Commissioners now want to sell the boat, which has been sitting at a Destin yacht club since it was purchased in December.

"I want to get rid of it as fast as possible with a good deal for the county," Commissioner Bill Roberts said. "It's an embarrassment to the county to have that titled in the county's name."

While officials say there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, they are checking the accounts to see what other purchases Bellinger might have made.


Tightrope walker sets sights on Niagara

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., May 4 (UPI) -- Famed tightrope walker Nik Wallenda said he will become the first person in more than a century to walk a high wire over Niagara Falls.

Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of circus performing family The Flying Wallendas, said he will cross from the United States to Canada on a 1,800-foot cable June 15, CNN reported Friday.

"This has been a dream for so long, since I was 6 years old," Wallenda said in announcing the stunt Wednesday.

Wallenda said the crossing is expected to take 30 to 40 minutes.

The last tightrope walker to cross the falls was James Hardy in 1896.

Wallenda said he will be the first performer to cross directly over the falls.

"The other people all crossed farther down," he said.


Lightning strikes sleeping man in Texas

ROCKSPRINGS, Texas, May 4 (UPI) -- A Texas man said he plans to install rods on his home after he was struck by lightning while sleeping in his favorite chair.

Cheval Silva of Edwards County said he fell asleep while watching TV with his 5-year-old granddaughter Monday evening and he awoke thinking his house had been shot by a hunter, KSAT-TV, San Antonio, reported Friday.

"Searing pain in my right foot, and when I woke up, I could see the room kind of exploded," he said.

Silva said he scooped up his granddaughter to get her out of harm's way and she quickly pointed out he was on fire.

Silva said emergency responders had a hard time finding his remote ranch, so he and his granddaughter drove out to the highway extension to wait for an ambulance.

The grandfather said he was told a bolt of lightning had entered his body through his shoulder and exited through his foot.

"I'm awful glad my granddaughter is safe and I'm glad I still have my legs, but I'm sure going to miss that chair," said Silva, who suffered some nerve damage.

He said he plans to install lightning rods on his home.

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