FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Sleepy residents in Fort Worth, Texas, arose Thursday and probably wondered if the storm sirens that woke them up in the wee hours were all just a dream.
In fact, it wasn't a dream. The city's storm siren system was accidentally activated at 1:30 a.m. despite there being no weather event or emergency, officials told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Local TV stations and emergency officials noted an uptick in calls from confused and sleepy residents asking what was going on. Some residents took to social media asking what had happened.
The National Weather Service sent a reassuring tweet, "Be Advised. There is NO hazardous weather/events in the area!"
Fire officials said they are investigating what triggered the sirens.
Sabbath shortens Ill. pumpkin-toss contest
PEKIN, Ill., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Organizers the annual Punkin' Chuckin' Contest in Pekin, Ill., is being shortened by one day this year because a key player wishes to observe the Sabbath.
The contest usually runs two days but this year it will be limited to this Saturday because an owner of one of the fields used for the contest considers Sunday to be reserved for activities of a less-secular nature.
"Saturday will be a busy day," Susan Pyles, spokeswoman for the Morton Tourism Association told the Peoria (Ill.) Journal-Star. "A dozen teams have signed up to participate, but we'll probably have at least 20."
Those dozen or so teams will come armed with homemade catapults capable of hurling pumpkins way out into the fields. The distance record of 4,895 feet was set in 2001 by the still formidable Aludium Q38 Pumpkin Modulator.
Pyles said about 500 pumpkins would go flying through the air Saturday in rural Pekin.
Things will get back to normal in time for church Sunday.
Man cited for stashing pup in paper rack
LINCOLN, Neb., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Nebraska authorities said they ticketed a man who allegedly stashed his puppy in a newspaper box while he was inside a restaurant.
Truck driver Nebyou Brook, 41, of Oakland, Calif., told police he was just trying to keep his dog safe and sound while he ducked into a Lincoln fast-food restaurant and used the newspaper box as a temporary dog house.
Brook said he didn't want to leave the 7-week-old terrier in his truck and couldn't bring it into the restaurant. So, he inserted $1 into a newspaper box and placed the pup inside for safekeeping while he placed his order.
A witness saw Brook dropping another buck into the machine and pulling out a dog instead of a newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star said Thursday.
Brook was cited for animal neglect but allowed to keep the dog. No word on whether the puppy was paper trained.
New York teacher traded soap for homework
NEW YORK, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A New York teacher was fined $4,000 for giving students free homework passes if they purchased his homemade soap.
Marlon Scanterbury, a teacher at Canarsie's Public School 66, admitted to city investigators that he told his 11- and 12-year-old students last school year they would receive 10 "keys," good behavior rewards that can be redeemed for trinkets, if they purchased one of his $3 or $4 bars of homemade soap, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
"I further informed my students that for each bar of soap purchased, in addition to 10 'keys,' the student would also receive one 'no homework pass,'" Scanterbury said in a signed statement.
The city Conflicts of Interest Board said at least three students bought single bars of soap and one student purchased three bars.
Scanterbury, who was reprimanded in 2008 for use of corporal punishment, was fined $4,000 by the board.