Over the Coals 2007


I swear, I thought they were rabid skunks!

In February, Robert Utech, the police chief of the small town of West Concord, near Rochester, was accused of shooting and killing cats with a rifle. West Concord Mayor Burton Boe defended Utech, saying it was not his personality to do such a thing. The criminal complaint tells a different story, stating that Utech allegedly told one person he shot the cats, “Because I hate them. … I shoot them all the time.” That said, one West Concord resident argued Utech couldn’t have committed the atrocities because he’s such a bad shot.

They know how to market to tourists, no?
The tiny northern Minnesota town of International Falls loved the moniker “Icebox of the Nation” so much that they copyrighted it. But they let it lapse, and the equally tiny Colorado town of Fraser requested it. It’s the latest move in a feud between the frigid cities that dates back to the 1980s, when International Falls paid Fraser $2,000 for the official name.

We Went to the Boundary Waters and a Deliverance Cast Party Broke Out
Around midnight on August 7, police in Ely received a call from a family of frightened campers hiding in the woods around their Basswood Lake campsite. The father said drunken men were firing guns and fireworks and threatening to kill and/or rape them. Six men, ranging from sixteen to thirty-seven years old, were arrested soon after and charged with a total of 79 counts—most of them felonies—ranging from consumption of alcohol by a minor to reckless discharge of firearms, to making terroristic threats.

Nice Try, But You Don’t Get a Day Off from Ditch-Digging That Easy
Workers in the city of Walker, digging at a site where the city planned to build a road, discovered what they believed were stone tools some 14,000 years old, and halted the excavation. The find would have been the oldest evidence of humans in the state, until the state’s archaeologist stepped in and declared the “tools” nothing but very old rocks, noting that most of Minnesota was covered in glaciers at the time.

Police Chief Guilty of Reading Too Much Bret Easton Ellis
Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith called a news conference July 3 to declare that around two hundred and fifty Northfield high school students were spending up to eight hundred dollars a day shooting heroin. The town erupted after the initial story, which was followed by reports that students were looting local colleges for drug money. Bloggers speculated on Northfield’s bankrupt morality. Reporters covered every weepy human-interest angle. The Strib’s Katherine Kersten blamed rap music videos. But nobody could verify the figures (or the lootings), and an embattled Smith soon took a leave of absence.

We know there’s plenty of weird news coming regularly from our neighbors to the east, but decided to skip surveying the entire state after discovering a perfect microcosm in and around Sheboygan.

When gallantry goes awry, dammit, it’s still gallantry
An Oconomowoc man, while relaxing after work one evening last February, heard what he thought were a woman’s cries for help in an upstairs apartment. The chivalrous citizen grabbed his cavalry sword, charged up the steps, and broke down the door, only to discover his neighbor watching porn. Unconvinced, he waved his thirty-nine-inch blade around and accused his neighbor of raping someone, until the police arrived.


What are the odds of that?
Jonathan Oyler Sr.’s boss dropped him off in April at a construction site in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, which Oyler promptly abandoned for the slot machines at a Green Bay casino. There he ran into the Sheboygan county jail receptionist, which wouldn’t have been a problem if Oyler weren’t on work release from the Sheboygan county jail.

Luckily, the police dogs were trained to sniff out sewage-soaked perps
An 18-year-old Sheboygan woman drove her car into the city’s wastewater treatment plant in October, toppling a fence and slamming into a garage door. Even though she was drunk and had a concussion and a fractured leg, she had the good sense to hide in some trees.

A Case of Not Just Sitting Around Waiting for an Opportunity
A Sheboygan man netted $200,000 in August by surreptitiously selling his employer’s website address, sofa.com, to another company. He then used the cash to finance luxury trips to Brazil and Canada with his new girlfriend, a Las Vegas stripper.








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