Watercooler Stories

Dec. 18, 2008 at 6:30 AM
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Wash. man can keep fancy tree house

FALL CITY, Wash., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A Washington state man ordered to tear down an elaborate tree house overlooking a river can keep it after reaching a compromise, county officials say.

King County officials had earlier ordered Pete Nelson, of Fall City, Wash., to remove his high-end tree house, built with cedar siding and maple floors, because the Sitka spruce it was perched in was too close to the Raging River and presented a flooding danger, the Seattle Times reported.

But after their order to demolish the structure drew negative media attention, officials had a change of heart and instead worked with Nelson to allow the tree house, and other projects planned for his property, as part of a new category of limited recreational and commercial uses. Such uses "that will promote ecotourism and environmental stewardship" will now be allowed near rivers and lakes, the newspaper said.

"I'm just so thrilled. I can't believe it," Nelson said after more than two years of conflict with officials of the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services, who now "really wanted it to happen. They bent over backward to make it happen."

College underwear event has high price tag

ORANGE, Calif., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Officials in Orange, Calif., say it will cost up to $19,000 to fix a fountain broken during Chapman University students' unofficial Undie Run event.

City officials said during the annual student event, in which students run through parts of the city in their underwear, a 71-year-old fountain in the city's traffic circle was damaged, The Orange County (Calif.) Register said Tuesday.

City spokesman Paul Sitkoff said several underwear-clad students decided to climb onto the fountain during last Thursday's event, resulting in damage to the fountain's upper bowl.

Sitkoff said the cost of fixing and cleaning the 1929 fountain would cost $8,100, but additional costs were possible if the upper bowl has to be completely replaced.

While the university has agreed to pay for any repairs to the fountain, Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche said she is still concerned with the city property damage and the possible use of police to contain the non-sanctioned run.

"Those are my major concerns, and that's putting aside having college students take their clothes off and party in the city's plaza," Cavecche told the Register.

Wedding goes on despite ice, power outage

MERRIMACK , N.H., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A New Hampshire couple said they refused to let an ice storm and a power outage at their reception hall postpone the wedding they had spent a year planning.

Merrimack newlyweds Donna and Steve Webster said their 100 guests braved the storm Tuesday to witness the nuptials in a chapel that still had power. The gift of extension cords from businesses near the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall allowed the reception to have enough electricity for a DJ and two Christmas trees, WMUR-TV, Manchester, N.H., reported Tuesday.

The Websters said despite conditions seemingly stacking up against them, the event went smoothly Tuesday with light in the cold hall generated by candles and heat emanating from dancing bodies.

"I'm glad that it all happened, even though, at the time, I wasn't," Donna Webster said of her big day.

The couple said they are in the process of planning their honeymoon for after the holidays and thus far they know one thing for sure: It's going to be someplace warm.

Internal Notes

Girl: Cough drops led to drug allegations

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla., Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A Florida father said his daughter was accused of selling drugs at school after she shared some Halls Defense Vitamin C cough drops with friends.

Andy Rivenbark said his daughter, Khalin Rivenbark, 9, told him a teacher at her Clay County school had accused her of selling drugs when her friends offered her money in exchange for the Halls, which contain ingredients nearly identical to Lifesavers candy, WJXT-TV, Jacksonville, Fla., reported Tuesday.

"She saw me with the cough drops out and I guess she saw me give it to one of my friends, and then like, 'Oh, I see this good business going on around you,'" Khalin said. "She said, 'You're selling drugs.' (I said) 'No I'm not.'"

Khalin said she wanted to give her two friends the cough drops for free, but one insisted on giving her a dollar.

"She felt guilty taking the cough drop or whatever, so she gave me a dollar. I didn't want to accept it, but she had me take it," Khalin said.

The student said she is scheduled to meet with her principal and teacher about the incident Wednesday. However, Andy Rivenbark said he also plans to have words with the administrators.

"It's absolutely crazy," he said. "It's definitely detrimental to somebody who we teach the whole time growing up, 'Don't use drugs because drugs are bad.' To accuse her, it's unnecessary to make a comment like that."

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