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Heard Around the West

Brief by Betsy Marston

Miscellany – August 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Desert Developments

What if you added a street to your city but couldn’t figure out what to name it? Booming Las Vegas faces that problem as it scrambles to keep up with explosive growth, reports the Las Vegas Sun. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of new streets expand the city each month. Some towns resort to numbers and letters; but the gambling mecca has borrowed everything from liquor brands to songs since it long ago ran out of dead presidents and trees.

Sometimes street names warn newcomers of neighbors, as in “Bombastic Court.” Others are geographically challenged like “Surf’s Up Drive.” While attempts at humor pop up in “Dirt Road” and “My Way.” Then there’s “Dancing Daffodil Avenue,” “Blushing Bride Street,” “Havoc Way,” “Better Way” and the spell-check challenged: “Carabbean Court.” One street had to be named twice. First named “The Omen” after a movie about a boy possessed by the devil, that street found no one willing to live on it.

Las Vegas has no problem creating theme-park opportunities for spending money, though. At the new 250,000 square-foot Forum Shops mall, the lost island of Atlantis sinks once an hour before popping up for another descent. In the planning stage is another mall called Desert Passage, which aims to recreate colonial North Africa, while a Venetian-style casino that includes canals and real-life gondoliers is under way. In what the Wall Street Journal calls a “pinnacle of excess,” an entire “Roman hill-town” is becoming a mall with chariots and horses zooming around a track five times a day. One broker cautions, “I think they might be overbuilding.”

The Criminal Mind

In Los Angeles, police had good luck with a robbery suspect who couldn’t control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words, “Give me the money or I’ll shoot,” the guilty man shouted, “That’s not what I said!”

In another incident of human frailty, a man walked into a Topeka, Kan., Kwik Shop and demanded “all the money in the cash drawer,” AP reports. Apparently the take was too small, so he tied up the store clerk and worked the counter himself for three hours until police showed up and nabbed him.

Hungry Bears

Hungry bears breaking into cars and cabins at Yosemite National Park in California are racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Bears have learned it’s easy to get into the driver’s seat if they “place their claws on top of car doors and peel them off,” reports AP. Relocating the black bears hasn’t helped, nor have folk methods, such as hanging mothballs on tree branches or urinating on a vehicle’s tires. One driver even left a note on a car, politely asking bears to leave it alone. A better solution: Cleaning food out of the car.

A Not So Grisly Tale

Emerging from hibernation hungry and out of sorts, grizzlies have encountered hikers and skiers in the high country, but most people have lived to tell the tale.

In Glacier National Park on May 10, three young men high up on a snowfield unintentionally cornered a cub, separating it from its mother, reports Montana’s Hungry Horse News. So close he noticed “plaque on the fang teeth” of a grizzly, skier Matt Mosteller said he was propelled off the mountain by a rush of adrenaline. Another problem lay ahead: The object of the sow’s concern, her cub, sat directly below him in the snow. Mosteller says he sat back on his haunches to slide past the surprised cub, then went into a tuck to speed down the slope.

Still one more obstacle appeared, the sow had raced down the mountain to lunge at Mosteller again. But handicapped by the deep snow, the distressed grizzly was no match for the intruders on skis. They escaped without a scratch.

A Lot of Bulls

Town dads of Mesquite, Nev., thought they’d come up with a great idea to attract tourists: 12 bulls would race up the main drag toward 1,000 people who would cough up $50 for the privilege of staying just far enough ahead to avoid a goring. Critics such as the Humane Society of the United States criticized the planned Pamplona-West as “an unprecedented act of bad judgment.” Nevada’s Department of Transportation agreed in June and prohibited the highway chase as too risky, reports AP. Now, Mesquite is looking for a side street on which to stage the spectacle. Phoenix promoter Phil Immordino says his bull run will be fun because this country’s range bulls aren’t “bred to chase people and kill … They’re just looking to run down the street.”

Recently, I predicted a Westwide move to block cows from their wandering ways; now reader Jennifer Rowntree tells me that on a recent trip through Nevada she saw a sign near a Winnemucca rest area. It alerted visitors: “Livestock must be restrained at all times.”

Noise Pollution?

What are the necessities of life? Near the town of Wilson, Wyo., residents Cherrie and Robin Siegfried say it’s a little place on their 128 acres to touch down and take off in a helicopter. At least 16 neighbors aren’t happy about living near the whap-whap noise of a helicopter, reports the Jackson Hole News. Neighbor Sharyl Beebe told the News there was a simple solution: “We think they should land at the airport; that’s what it’s there for.”

Machine noise is one thing; in suburbanizing Oregon some homeowners complain about the relentless peeping of tiny tree frogs, reports the Oregonian. Thanks to El NiƱo and a wet spring, the “Pacific chorus frog” is out in force. One man wants his neighbors to fill in their pond to drive the frogs away, a woman is threatening to bill her neighbor for the cost of a sound-deadening air conditioner, and a sleep-deprived man has begun trapping frogs and moving them away, though “the frogs may have beaten their rescuer back home.”

Biologist Holly Michael says she’s taken aback by the irony. “Here you have residents complaining about this wonderful, musical, little native animal that’s doing well in spite of us. They’re complaining about a success. Some people actually go out and buy CDs just to bring these noises inside their homes.”

Betsy Marston is the editor of High Country News, a newspaper based in Paonia, Colorado, covering natural resource and community issues in the West. She can be reached at HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or