More than an address change

The mayor of Countryside, Kansas, a tiny Kansas City suburb finally got what he wanted - he got Countryside voted out of existence.

After a divisive campaign that pitted neighbor against neighbor in the six-square-block enclave, the city's residents decided overwhelmingly Tuesday to merge with neighboring Mission.

The election drew voter turnout of 71 percent, with consolidation prevailing by an unofficial margin of 127 to 69. Official results will be released Friday.

"It's a landslide," said Mayor Ken Davis, the merger's leading supporter. "In the long run, people are going to be happy with their lower taxes and ability to participate in the bigger community."

Voters last rejected a merger initiative in 1998 by a 2-to-1 margin.

From trash to cash

A trash can in DuPont, Wash., containing as much as $10,000 in cash was unearthed by crews preparing a forested site for a transit park-and-ride lot, officials said.

The most recent mint date on the bills and coins in the plastic garbage can was 1985, Police Chief Michael Pohl said Monday.

"The coins are so badly eroded, they're green. Some of it you can't even make out any more," Pohl said.

Police have yet to count all the money but estimate the total at $6,000 to $10,000. Some of the bills have been sent to the Washington State Crime Laboratory to test for fingerprints and to try to trace the money.

If the owner cannot be found, the money goes to the regional transit authority.

"Probably the speculation is more interesting than the real story," said Lee Somerstein, a Sound Transit spokesman. "Maybe it was some old curmudgeon who buries his money because he doesn't trust banks."

Cellphones used to cheat

Twenty-six students of highly respected Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo have been caught using a mobile phone e-mail service to cheat during an exam, university administrators admitted Wednesday.

Cell phone e-mail is big in the growing e-commerce industry, but cheating was not one of its intended uses.

The incident, which took place in July during an end of term exam for the "e-Commerce" course, came to light because the cheating students made virtually the same mistakes in their incorrect answers.

One of some 550 students sitting the exam reportedly sent his answers to a fellow student via a mobile phone e-mail service, and his answers had quickly spread around the examination hall.

A lecturer in charge of the course noticed that nearly 30 students made identical mistakes and ordered them to resit the exam.

Missing: 7-foot dancing Santa

With less than a month until Christmas, authorities in Mesick, Mich., are investigating a Santa-napping.

A 7-foot dancing Santa that sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to admirers has been stolen from in front of a business called The Red Barn, owner Cheryl Harder said.

"I think (the people who stole the Santa) would have had to load him into a truck," Harder said. "It probably would have taken two people. There were tire tracks and I found beer bottle caps by the sidewalk."

The 100-pound Santa, which was first reported missing Wednesday, is worth about $1,000. Harder is offering a $100 reward for its return.

The Wexford County Sheriff's Department is conducting an investigation.

"I think they will drive around and see if they can see a big old Santa Claus standing somewhere," she said.

Quote of the day

'A lot of these people will be back [at Christmas], and we hope they'll learn their lesson.'

- Robert Johnson, spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which itemized a vast haul of knives, guns, and other banned items confiscated from airline passengers over the heavy Thanksgiving travel period.

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