Check back here daily for the latest oddball stories that just may give you a chuckle or leave you scratching your head.
30-year-old leaves parents' home with help from Alex Jones
CAMILLUS, N.Y. — The 30-year-old man whose eviction from his parents' suburban home drew national attention finally left Friday, hours before a court-ordered deadline, with financial help from right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Michael Rotondo honked and waved to reporters as he pulled out of the driveway of his parents' split-level ranch in Camillus, New York, 2 ½ hours before the noon deadline set by a judge last week.
He said his parents had said goodbye, "more or less," and got his rumbling station wagon running after some false starts, according to the Post-Standard of Syracuse.
Rotondo had avoided TV crews staked out on the upstate New York road earlier Friday morning by leaving from the back, but returned around 9:30 a.m. in the passenger seat of a pickup truck. He loaded a cooler and garbage bags full of items into the truck then dealt with the station wagon, which has a broken coolant system, according to the newspaper.
"I gotta get going before that thing blows up," he said.
Mark and Christina Rotondo brought the court case against their son after several eviction letters offering money and other help were ignored. They offered him $1,100 "so you can find a place to stay" and nudged him to get a job.
"There are jobs available even for those with a poor work history like you," one letter they sent him reads. "Get one — you have to work!"
A May 22 court appearance drew national attention. Rotondo refused the judge's request to work things out directly with his parents, who sat quietly nearby. He failed to persuade the judge to grant him another six months with his parents.
Rotondo planned to spend the next week at an Airbnb in Syracuse. He credited Jones, who has asserted that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax, with providing a $3,000 check to cover rental and other costs. Later, he plans on moving in with a distant cousin, the newspaper reported.
He recently appeared on Jones' Infowars show.
Rotondo has said the eviction fight is connected with his efforts to get back visitation time with his 8-year-old son. He lost custody and unsupervised visitation with the boy in 2017.
He said he called the police because he believed the boy's Legos were in the basement and his father wouldn't let him look for them. Instead, the father offered to look for specific items and, if he found them, bring them out. The Legos were found after police arrived.
"This isn't a game show," Rotondo said, explaining to the newspaper why he called police. "I don't have to guess what's behind Door No. 1."
Calls made to Mark and Christina Rotondo's home on Friday were not answered.
Information from: The Post-Standard, http://www.syracuse.com
NY law enforcers are looking for a tree thief
WARRENSBURG, N.Y. — New York law enforcers are looking for a tree thief.
The Post-Star says somebody snatched 130 saplings recently from the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Christmas-type trees — fir and spruce — were taken out of the ground next to the district's offices in Warrensburg.
Santa is not considered a suspect.
Information from: The Post-Star, http://www.poststar.com
2 of 4 peacocks that escaped from zoo found safe
PHILADELPHIA — Two of the four peacocks that escaped from the Philadelphia Zoo this week and took a stroll on a nearby highway have been found safe, a day after another was found dead on that stretch of road.
Zoo officials say a passer-by spotted the two peacocks Friday morning near an equestrian center. The tipster stayed with them until zoo workers arrived to rescue the birds. They described them as "healthy if a little hungry."
The fourth peacock remains on the loose.
The birds initially were seen walking on an interstate near the zoo on Wednesday night. State police shut down two lanes on the highway while tracking the peacocks, causing backups for miles.
Police managed to get the birds off the highway, but they flew the coop once more.
Emu that fled captivity is returned to sanctuary
LISBON, Maine — An escape artist emu known as "The Bird" that got loose has been returned to its animal sanctuary in Maine.
Lisbon police, an animal control officer and much of the town searched throughout the day Thursday for the 5-foot-4-inch emu that escaped from its sanctuary. A spokeswoman for the sanctuary says the 19-year-old bird was captured near a neighbor's house.
The Bangor Daily News reports someone caring for The Bird was moving it to its summer residence when the flightless, ostrich-like animal bolted.
Police had said the 100-pound emu was somewhere in the woods. Animal officials say it previously attempted another escape a decade ago, but was caught.
Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangordailynews.com
Vermont to pay up to $10K to new residents who work remotely
Vermont is willing to pay new residents who work remotely for an out-of-state employer in hopes of increasing its population and workforce.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a bill that will pay those new residents up to $10,000 over a period of two years in an effort to attract younger people to the state.
"Vermont isn't just a place to ski and try craft beers, it's an ideal state for raising a family and growing a business," Department of Tourism and Marketing commissioner Wendy Knight said Friday.
The Remote Worker Grant Program would cover relocation expenses and other costs. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. Scott signed the bill Wednesday.
The law defines a qualifying worker as working primarily from a Vermont home office or co-working space and employed full-time by an out-of-state based company.
The state would award grants on a first-come, first-served basis and has allocated $500,000 for the next three years to the program.
"The intent is to spread it to as many people," said Joan Goldstein, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. "If the program is successful, we'd probably ask for more funding."
Goldstein said that logistics and parameters need to be established before they can determine how many grants they will be able to support.
Vermont has the third highest median age (42.7 years) in the nation behind New Hampshire (43.0) and Maine (44.6), according to a report last year from the U.S. Census Bureau. Its population overall is flat or slightly shrinking. Last year saw the state's first increase in population in four years, and it was by a mere .05 percent, according to the bureau.
Another state program, Stay to Stay Weekends, aims to convert tourists into full-time Vermont residents. It was announced in March by Scott and the Department of Tourism. The three-day lodging and networking package connects visitors with local employers, entrepreneurs and community leaders during their weekend stay. It's been tried several weekends this year so far, but attendance has been sparse.
Knight said they have more work to do to turn the idea into a successful program. The program's next pilot weekend is in mid-August.
Several U.S. cities have provided incentives for newcomers to move, including New Haven, Connecticut and Detroit. Alaska uses oil royalties to pay its residents to live in the state.
Scott has called for measures he feels will make Vermont more economically attractive so young people will stay and others might move here, such as tuition-free college for National Guard members and construction of affordable housing.
Man reunited with missing class ring 60 years later
WORCESTER, Mass. — A Massachusetts man using a metal detector has found another man's class ring more than 60 years after he gave it to a high school sweetheart.
The Worcester Telegram reports Aaron Doray met 80-year-old Robert Michaud in Worcester on Saturday to return his Cushing Academy class ring.
Doray say he found the ring in March while using his metal detector in Leicester. He called Cushing Academy with hopes of finding the ring's owner, and they linked him to Michaud.
Michaud graduated from the school in 1954, and the ring was engraved with his initials. He says he gave the ring away when he was 19, figuring the girl later "threw it out the window."
Michaud says he is delighted to have his ring back, although he's "terrible with rings."
Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com
FBI agent whose gun went off at nightclub tested for alcohol
DENVER — Denver police say they're awaiting lab results to help determine if an off-duty FBI agent could face charges after accidentally firing a weapon that dropped out of its holster while he was dancing at a nightclub.
Police say in a statement Monday that they want to determine if alcohol was a factor.
Prosecutors will determine whether the agent will face any charges in the shooting that wounded another man. The victim was taken to a hospital in good condition.
Police have said the agent was dancing at the downtown club early Saturday when the gun fell from the agent's waistband holster onto the floor. The firearm went off when the agent picked it up.
His name has not been released. The Denver FBI has declined to comment.