Friday's American Oddities

By: 
The Associated Press

Fault! New York town’s new $3.5M tennis courts too short

MELVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — A New York town has padlocked the tennis courts in a brand new $3.5 million park because they were built improperly.

The two courts at the recently opened Sweet Hollow Park in Melville don’t have enough clearance between the baseline and the fence.

The truncated courts caused at least one player to run into the fence.

The U.S. Tennis Association recommends courts have 21 feet behind the baseline.

The new courts in the hamlet in Huntington have less than 10 feet, while the sides are about 2 feet short of the recommended 12 feet.

The blunder was brought to the attention of Huntington officials by a resident who played on the new courts earlier this month.

The town says the courts will be closed while they’re renovated.

Gambler drops 75 pounds to win a share of a $1 million bet

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A professional gambler dropped some pounds and gained some wealth after betters wagered $1 million he couldn’t reduce his body fat to less than 10 percent.

Walter Fisher tells the New York Post he began overeating while on a losing streak and gained 40 to 50 pounds in a month.

The 6-foot-1 Fisher weighed 245 pounds and was more than $100,000 in debt in December.

The Post reports that’s when a group of gambler acquaintances bet $1 million Fisher couldn’t drop his body fat to under 10 percent in six months.

The 36-year-old got financial backing from friends. He weighed 175 pounds with 8.8 percent body fat on June 22.

The feat netted him $600,000, and he tells ABC News he’ll make another bet if he gains the weight back.

Police: Woman steals taxi, picks up paying passengers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia police say a 65-year-old woman stole a taxi and picked up a fare.

They say Betty Thomas caught the cab around midnight Thursday and asked to be taken to the SugarHouse Casino. On the way, she asked the driver to make a stop at a gas station.

It was at the station where police say the woman got into a dispute with the driver about a fare before jumping into the driver’s seat and driving off.

Police stopped the taxi 30 minutes later and found a 23-year-old woman and her infant daughter in the backseat.

The mother told officers she had hailed the cab earlier, not realizing it was stolen.

Thomas has been charged with various types of theft. Her public defender lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Homeowner finds WWI artillery shell in basement

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — An upstate New York woman has found a World War I artillery shell in her basement.

Buffalo resident Judith Sobresky says she was pulling up tiles in her basement Thursday when she saw an odd object in the corner. Lodged between the floor and wall was the old artillery shell.

Sobresky called the police after examining it. Buffalo police, the fire department and bomb squad arrived and later U.S. Air Force bomb specialists were called.

Officials took close to four hours to remove the shell. Authorities say it was taken to a secure location to be detonated.

Sobresky has lived in the home with her 7-year-old daughter for two years. She tells WKBW-TV the find was odd and “pretty nerve wracking.”

New librarian finds live Civil War-era shells in her office

CARLISLE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts librarian on her first day on the job has come across live military shells from the Civil War inside a closet in her new office.

Gleason Public Library director Abby Noland tells The Boston Globe she found the shells Thursday morning inside a box with a label explaining they had been examined by a munitions expert and could be live. She called police, who evacuated the library in Carlisle.

The state bomb squad later arrived and determined the shells were live. It took the shells to the town transfer station to safely detonate them.

The shells turned out to be part of a Gettysburg collection that was donated to the town years ago.

The library reopened after about three hours.

Builder of illegal LA mansion gets fines, community service

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The father of fashion models Bella and Gigi Hadid has been fined and given community service for illegally building a gigantic mansion in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that real estate developer Mohamed Hadid was sentenced Thursday to 200 hours of service, fined $3,000 and ordered to pay the city more than $14,000 to cover building department costs.

Hadid pleaded no contest in May to misdemeanor charges for building portions of a 30,000-square-foot mansion in Bel Air without obtaining proper permits.

Authorities say bedrooms, decks, supporting walls and even an IMAX theater were built illegally. The city halted construction three years ago and the home remains unfinished.

Hadid’s attorney, Robert Shapiro, said after sentencing that Hadid is interested in bringing the home into compliance and completing it.

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