BY BRIAN SULLIVAN
Compassionate Homeowner Shows His Stripes by Helping Sweltering Skunk Keep Its Cool
Ryan Turner had every right to raise a stink about a skunk attempting
to take up residence in his residence in South Salt Lake, Utah. After it
scavenged his groceries and sprayed its universally identifiable scent under
his bed, Turner requested that the city remove the malodorous marauder.
The city responded by offering to drop off a trap for a $50 deposit, but
Turner’s girlfriend declined. It just so happens, though, that
the neighboring property is a city-owned lot. Turner
talked to employees there, and they agreed to
put out a trap on a Friday afternoon in August.
The animal was captured that evening.
Over the weekend, Turner is alleged to have
moved the trap from the city lot into his yard,
saying he wanted to put the overheated animal
in shade until Monday, when it would be
retrieved. That’s when the city stepped in.
After an animal control officer reported the
trap missing, Turner was cited for criminal trespass; he reportedly faces fines of more than
$600. After a court appearance in November, Turner
was scheduled for trial on Jan. 8.
In spite of his legal woes, Turner seems to harbor no ill will toward the
striped stinker. “I’d rather be in the situation I’m in now,” he told the Salt
Lake Tribune, “than not do anything.”
EXUBERANT OR EXHIBITIONIST?
Despite Townsfolk Talking Trash, Dancing Queen Is Now Flush with Cash
According to the most recent U.S. census, the tiny town of Marshall,
N.C. (population 842), has about 75 males for every 100 females. So a
woman who appears to be trying to improve her odds is likely to be met
with resistance of one type or another.
In December 2000, Rebecca Willis attended the weekly dance at the
Marshall Depot community center. Willis, then 56, is said to have been
dressed, shall we say, less conservatively than other women in attendance,
and she danced with exuberance and a bit of abandon.
Some say more than a bit.
Willis received a letter from the town’s mayor informing her that she
was banned for life from returning to the Depot. Her case was eventually
taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal
Foundation. Jon Sasser of Ellis & Winters in Raleigh, who handled the case
for the ACLU, says townspeople were less than forthcoming in regard to
details about the night in question.
“They came up with one lie after another” in depositions, he says. “They
were basically a bunch of old ladies who don’t like to see anyone else having fun.”
During more than six years, the case made its way through two district
courts and two courts of appeal. Asheville attorney Larry Leake, who represented Marshall, says the town prevailed on seven of the eight issues raised
by the plaintiff.
But in May, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
at Richmond, Va., said the case could proceed to trial on the basis of equal
protection. At that point, the town’s insurance carrier decided to settle
rather than incur more litigation expenses. Willis was paid $275,000.
Leake says emphatically that “the town of Marshall does not agree with
the settlement,” and that Willis continues to be banned from the Depot.
Sasser sums up the case this way: “Every once in a while, towns need
to think before they start voting people off the island.” ■