Back-yard chickens top weird news 2014.12.24


Never before have a few chickens, or nine in the year’s strangest case, caused as much uproar as they have in 2014. In one community in northern Michigan, the issue has had far-reaching effects in the city government.

In Tawas City, mayor Kane Kelly resigned after he tried to help a couple charged with having nine chickens in a residential area. Violation of an ordinance banning chickens is a misdemeanor in Tawas City. Philip and Theresa Hurst sought Kelly’s help after the police chief called them, saying he had a warrant for their arrest.

Mayor Kelly, in an Associated Press report, said that city council members “pressured him to resign.” He later claimed the council violated open meetings law, while his supporters contemplated recalling several council members.

Later, the city manager resigned as well, citing personal and health reasons. So far, the Hursts still have their chickens,   and charges were dropped after their arrest. They are working to change the ordinance. 

Another Michigan politician apparently has major issues with a different animal. Michigan state senator Darwin Booher, a resident of Evart who grew up eating squirrel pot pies according to the AP, pushed through legislation to change the laws governing possession of road killed deer.

Booher wanted to make it easier to claim a dead deer, saying it utilizes recently-killed deer and helps to remove carcasses from the roadside, saving municipalities in clean-up costs. Booher, by the way, says he’s killed 11 deer with his car since first winning election to the Michigan House of Representatives in 2004. That’s more than one Booher  road kill per year. Forget a new road kill law, how about requiring more stringent driving tests for legislators? I’d bet his insurance company wishes he was hitting chickens instead of deer.

In one village in Michigan’s Saginaw County, there’s always a policeman around when you need one, at least there used to be. The village of Oakley, which had a population of 290 in the 2010 census, had 12 sworn police officers and about 100 reserve officers.

Many of the reserves don’t live in Oakley, but have made donations to the department to gain the designation. Their status allows them to open-carry handguns anywhere in the state. The donations covered the Oakley police department budget and contributed to funding other government functions. According to Wikipedia, the village has refused all requests for a roster of the reserve officers and what donations have been made to the police fund.

The village disbanded the police department in September after its liability insurance was canceled. In October, a council member obtained insurance from another source and tried to reinstate the department, but was thwarted by a court order.

As the November elections neared, the issue became as hot of an item in Oakley as back-yard chickens are elsewhere in the state. After the dust (and maybe a few gunshots?) settled, the new village council voted to bring back the police.

In the world of pop culture, venerable comic strip busybody Mary Worth has apparently entered the 21st century. On April 19, 2014, Mary, while chatting with a neighbor, uttered the phrase “surfing the net.” But wait, it gets worse. On August 22, Mary and a young friend took a selfie. I think the apocalypse is getting closer.

Then again, it might only be a reminder of the best line I read in a movie review in 2014. Michael Phillips, reviewing “Left Behind” for the Chicago Tribune, described a scene in which star Nicolas Cage is talking with movie wife Lea Thompson.

The two are supposedly sitting in the terminal in New York’s JFK airport. According to Phillips, “The terminal is played, unconvincingly, by a terminal in the Baton Rouge, La., airport.” A  bad review like that could cost the Baton Rouge terminal an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Building.

And finally, we may have an answer for those out of state subscribers with delivery problems. An Associated Press story from April 27 carried a banner headline stating “Observers held in Ukraine.” At least we now know where the missing papers might be ending up. I wonder if Vladimir Putin reads the Observer? And are back-yard chickens legal in Russia? Stick around, I’ll try and find out next year.