Snow machines, tar and a moose but no giant veggies

On days when inspiration is as elusive as a truckload of $100 bills, I like to surf some of the news coming from smalltown America. Perhaps one reason for my turning to the less-than-metropolitan areas is as John Mellancamp has said: “I was born in a small town.” Also, I am bored and tired of reading about the economy, war, crime, politics and Brangelina. So here are a few stories about what REAL America is up to lately:

From Alaska: Although the legendary Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is on perhaps every newspaper front page in the state, another race caught my eye in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The Tired Iron Vintage Snow Machine Race and River Rally, (say that quickly three times!) pits machine against machine from when snowmobiles were men and women were glad of it. Maybe not but at least the snow machines don’t have to pee. Check out reporter Amanda Bohman’s story.

From Mississippi: Remember the “Wonderful Tar Baby Story” from Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus tales? No? Well, I won’t get into the subject but writer Reggie Ross in the Winona Times describes a monster tar saga in Carroll County, Miss., in which scores of automobiles are getting tar baths on a local road. Now it seems county officials don’t want to pay for any more vehicles that get tarred, while they are presumably, unfeathered.

“County officials are screaming enough is enough as ongoing tar complaints keep pouring in to the courthouse and even some of the supervisors’ homes,” Ross writes in his lede.

It certainly scares the tar out of me!

Finally, from Idaho: It seems as if anytime one turns on the local TV news stations somewhere in the U.S. they will find yet another story about kids in some school being “locked down” because either some crazy with a gun is either roaming the halls or the streets outside the school. But not in Moscow, Idaho, according to The Latah Eagle. The kids were kept after school at Moscow Junior High because a moose was on the loose — and it had nothing to do with the Canadian Moosehead Beer.

Eagle editor Kai Eiselein described how the local mounties were in a “Mexican standoff” with the moose and were unsure how to get the large critter out of town.

“With a plan in place, the IDFG officer went behind the house and chased the moose out of the yard. At first it went north, across E Street, then decided to trot west along E instead with a police cruiser, the IDFG officer and a Moscow animal control officer in hot pursuit.”

The moose was finally run out of town without any apparent harm while the school kids had to wait an extra 15 minutes to go home. I’m sure they didn’t mind, apparently the moose chase was the most exciting thing in town that day.

So much for news from smalltown U.S.A. As I have written before in such pieces, I do not write of these stories to make fun of people or the newspapers. I have edited a small-town weekly and you have to be creative to find stories that pass for news sometimes. My hats off to small-town reporters and editors everywhere. Here is hoping a gigantic vegetable story is sometime in your future.

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