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Weird Pittsburgh: A thirsty Santa, crow crap and a cat who’s a rat

“I didn’t want to have to be the one to have to deal with a bride whose dress had been dipped in it.”

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The University of Pittsburgh is fighting a daily battle against crow poop, and it’s losing. Each fall, the birds flock in from Canada and New York State to roost. This year, they’ve taken an affinity to the tall oaks on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning, reports the Pitt-owned newspaper The University Times. Local bird blogger Kate St. John told the paper the crows tend to “lighten the load,” before taking flight for the day, dropping a deuce or two in their home base. “It’s a terrible time for this,” said Heinz Chapel Director Pat Gibbons, because of holiday concerts and weddings. “I didn’t want to have to be the one to have to deal with a bride whose dress had been dipped in it.” Workers power-wash pavements, handrails and bus shelters daily. Another tool they use is the bird equivalent of a haunted-house soundtrack: a recording of horned owls and other birds in distress designed to startle avian visitors. “This year they don’t seem to be moving,” said Dan Fisher, assistant vice chancellor for operations and maintenance. Fisher said he might adopt a strategy from Penn State University, which has been shooting pyrotechnic bangers and screamers to scare crows off its campus.

The Beaver County Public Safety Commission has withdrawn a wall calendar, briefly given out for free, that featured a photo from a different local house fire for each month of 2017. The calendar included emergency phone numbers, CPR instructions and evacuation routes, alongside images of unfortunate Beaver County residents’ homes engulfed in flames. The Beaver County Recreation and Tourism Department co-sponsored the calendar, and its logo and slogan of “Divided by Rivers — United by People” are, jarringly, superimposed over each orange blaze. “I have no idea whose idea this was or who approved it, but the second I saw it my jaw dropped,” County Commissioner Sandie Egley told news website The BeaverCountian. She added that the county’s emergency-services director, Wes Hill, “agreed with me the calendars are in poor taste. They will not be distributed anymore and we’ve collected all of the copies out there that we could find.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette apparently refused a veteran’s request that his obituary note that he was “not a murderer.” After breaking down his familial connections, the 90-word obit submitted by the family of David Ryan specified that the Penn Hills resident was “not a murderer, not a baby killer, just a Vietnam Vet.” Ryan’s daughter Heather Vargo told a WTAE reporter the claim was made of Ryan and other veterans of the war and her dad, an avowed non-murderer, was forever miffed by it. “I feel like he was disrespected then and he was disrespected again whenever they refused to print that, his last words,” said Vargo. The Post-Gazette did not comment to WTAE. The Penn Hills Progress, a local paper owned by Trib Total Media, printed the obituary in full. (Last weekend, a photo of Ryan and the words “not a murderer, not a baby killer, just a Vietnam Vet,” ran in the P-G’s “In Memoriam” column.)

Police in Ephrata, Lancaster County, caught alleged fugitive Jonathan Michael Steffy thanks to a tip-off from a cat. When officers went to Steffy’s residence to bring him in on a bench warrant, the 23-year-old reportedly fled on foot. Police searched nearby yards, but came up empty until “one officer noticed the feline in another home’s backyard crouched and watching something intently near a shed,” reports PennLive.com. According to the arrest report, the cat led police to Steffy.

Pittsburgh police are looking for a car-kicking criminal WTAE has dubbed the “Man Bun Vandal.” Sporting a hipster beard and hair style, the bun-sporting suspect is seen on late-night surveillance footage kicking and even jumping on the side-view mirrors of parked cars on the South Side in a particularly senseless streak of destruction (even by South Side standards). In total, he de-mirrored 33 vehicles.

While dressed as Santa Claus, 51-year-old Alan K. Mongeau allegedly grabbed a bartender at the Lucky Dog Café in Lancaster County and pulled him over the bar, according to PennLive.com. The barkeep at the Manor Township pub reportedly refused service to this flushed Father Christmas, leading to a confrontation. A police officer on the scene slapped the bearded bar-goer with a ho-ho-harassment charge.


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