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United Press International

Wealthy, non-gay, non-communist heir sought

TAUNTON, England, March 7 (UPI) -- An already wealthy and distant heir is being sought in the United States to assume a crumbling, $13 million mansion in England belonging to the Slade family.

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Sir Benjamin Slade, 59, is childless, and told the New York Times there are no suitable British heirs who could assume the mansion in the tranquil area of Somerset.

The problem is money -- the 13th-century mansion that's been in the family since 1772 is falling apart, and Slade won't even consider selling it to the National Trust in exchange for free rent.

At a minimum, the home requires $140,000 in annual upkeep. But on top of that, the driveway needs $70,000 worth of repairs, and the stables require a $1 million upgrade.

Slade said he has distinct requirements for a male Slade heir.

"He can't be a drug addict, and he can't be a communist," he said. "It's politically incorrect to say so, but he can't be gay, because he may not produce any children."


Peyton heir sought for free college

BRIGHTON, England, March 7 (UPI) -- The search for heirs to a deceased British major has expanded to North America in hopes of filling his bequest for free education at Brighton College.

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Major Charles Wakehurst Peyton was a pupil of Brighton in the 1930s. He died at the age of 84, unmarried and childless in 2002, and left a bequest in his will so that a child with the "unhyphenated name of Peyton on their (original) birth certificate" could enjoy the same education he had enjoyed.

But the school couldn't find any candidates in Britain, the Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Richard Cairns, the head of the school that charges $37,000 per year, said his predecessor tried for three years to find someone.

"He approached all 600 people in the British phone book, but obviously not everyone lives near Brighton, and not everyone with a child of the right age wants to send them to a boarding school," Cairns said.

But the school has now turned to the Internet, and Peytons in North America are being informed of the offer, the report said.


Calif. hybrid drivers cussed for slowness

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 7 (UPI) -- Hybrid cars in California are taking the title of most-hated vehicle on the road away from SUVs as their gas-conscious drivers tend to observe the speed limit.

Cars such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic have trip-o-meters on the dashboard that gauges gas mileage down to the second, and the San Jose Mercury News said it appears to be having a slow-down effect on their drivers.

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However, the hybrids have become hated by SUV drivers who say they are just too slow in the commuters' left-hand lane.

"These idiot hybrids are clogging up the carpool lane," complained Bob De Marco, who said hybrids stick to 65 mph when he wants to be doing 75 mph.

When hybrid owner Jim Feichtl sped along at 75 mph to 80 mph, the computer told him he was getting between 35 and 39 miles a gallon. When he dropped to under 65 mph, he got 46 mpg, the newspaper said.


Florida bill may set school start date

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 7 (UPI) -- A bill in the Florida Legislature would uniform the public school year start date to no earlier than a week before Labor Day.

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura, and Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, co-authors of the bill, say the recent trend of early August school starts hurts both kids and the tourism industry.

Despite the traditional summer break ending of Labor Day, school districts in Florida are using an earlier start to prepare students for standardized testing, The Miami Herald reports. Classes in Miami-Dade and Broward, for instance, started Aug. 8, 2005.

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Hundreds of other people protested a Broward schools meeting in February that would have set the start date in early August again.

Margolis' and Gelber's bill would outlaw a start date earlier than a week before Labor Day.

Wayne Blanton, head of the Florida School Boards Association, echoed many who think the start date should be left up to a local decision.

But parents not wanting to cut short vacations or conflict with children's summer camps, want to ensure a later date.

The move also has support from the state's restaurant and hotel groups and a lobbyist for Busch Gardens and Walt Disney World.

The bill still needs to be reconciled in both houses but Gelber says he thinks there is enough support from both parties and the governor to see it through.

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