Oddities
Minnesota man's cave collection is his hobby, passion PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JEFF BAENEN, Associated Press   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 07:18

SPRING VALLEY, Minn. (AP) — John Ackerman is a big-time landlord of subterranean real estate.

Ackerman, 59, owns Spring Valley Caverns, the largest private cave in Minnesota but just the beginning of his underground empire, which he calls the Minnesota Cave Preserve. He holds the keys to more than 40 miles of caves hidden beneath the rolling farm fields of Minnesota and Iowa and is always seeking more.

"I think it's just to be able to be the first human being to introduce light into the inky blackness of just unknown chambers that may go for miles," he said of his motivation. "And then later it's to protect them so that they're available for scientific research. That's what keeps me going. That's the adrenaline rush, is 'What's around the next corner?'"

Ackerman estimates he's spent $4 million on cave exploration and acquiring underground rights, but he doesn't charge admission to the nature groups, scientists and cavers who visit. It's a hobby made possible by his successful furniture restoration business, he said.

Ackerman, who lives in Farmington, just south of Minneapolis, said he discovered his love for spelunking as a boy when he poked around the caves along the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Spring Valley Caverns was his first acquisition, in 1989, when he bought 600 acres of farmland. A previous owner had tried and failed to commercialize the half-mile-long cave below.

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Man glad stolen motorcycle found after 46 years PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:32

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Donald DeVault wonders what kind of memories his Triumph motorcycle helped make in the 46 years since it was stolen.

The 73-year-old Omaha man learned last week that California authorities had recovered his 1953 Triumph Tiger 100 at the Port of Los Angeles. The bike was about to be shipped to Japan when customs agents who checked the vehicle identification number discovered it had been reported stolen in February 1967.

DeVault says he's talked about the motorcycle over the years. He recalls Marlon Brando riding a similar bike in the movie "The Wild One."

Once he gets it back, DeVault plans to have someone restore the bike's name and paint "46 Years Later" on the gas tank.

The bike was valued at $300 in 1967. Today, it's worth about $9,000.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Fired coach holding party at Oregon Hooters PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 12:47

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland, Ore.-area middle school football coach who was fired for planning an awards party at a Hooters restaurant says he's going ahead with the event without school backing.

And Hooters says it will pick up the bill Saturday and make a donation to the Corbett Middle School boosters club.

The district's athletic director fired Randall Burbach this week and withdrew its support for an event at Hooters, where waitresses wear shorts and tight shirts.

The first-year volunteer coach refused to move the after-season party to another location because Hooters is where the boys wanted to go and he believes it's a family restaurant.

KGW reports (http://bit.ly/HtYeBU ) the Jantzen Beach Hooters is picking up the tab and donating $1,000 plus 20 percent of Saturday sales to the school's boosters club.

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Information from: KGW-TV, http://www.kgw.com/


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
California man skydives on 100th birthday PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 07:39

PERRIS, Calif. (AP) — When Vernon Maynard's friends asked him what he wished he had done in his 100 years of life, the Southern California man said he had always wanted to jump from a plane with a parachute.

The retired car dealer got the chance to mark his centenarian birthday Monday by doing just that.

Jean Walcher of the U.S. Parachute Association says Maynard and his two great nephews made their first skydive along with trained instructors from 13,000 feet southeast of Los Angeles.

Skydive Perris manager Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld says Maynard obtained a doctor's note before making the jump.

Maynard's daughter Linda Hironimus says her father's friends made arrangements for him to skydive after he said he always wanted to try it.

Maynard, who hails from Nebraska, lives in Palm Desert.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Ohio man pops the question with pumpkins PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 01 November 2013 10:25

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man got into the Halloween spirit by crafting a clever marriage proposal for his girlfriend.

Zach Stoddard of Dayton used five carved pumpkins strategically placed on the side of a hill to pop the question to his girlfriend of three years, Lauren Brenneman. When the illuminated pumpkins were uncovered, they showed the words "Will You Marry Me?"

Brenneman said "yes," much to the delight of the hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night for a popular neighborhood event called the Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow.

Organizers tell The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1aFJhWp ) that the proposal was a first for the annual event, which featured hundreds of carved pumpkins lighting up the night. It ended Thursday.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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