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Weird Pittsburgh

News of the weird from all over Western Pennsylvania

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Two students at Quaker Valley High School, in Sewickley, wanted to see whether they could sneak quotes from Hitler, Stalin and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi into their yearbook. It turns out they could. “Originally, I thought, ‘OK, there’s no way they’re going to let me do this,’” one of the pranksters, Joe Sutton, told WPXI. Yet when students received their yearbooks, there was Sutton’s face next to the words “‘Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, so why would we let them have ideas?’ Joseph Stalin” and “‘Be just: the unjust never prosper. Be valiant. Keep your word, even to your enemies,’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” The school district is apologizing for the “regrettable mistake” and offering refunds and dictator-quote-sized stickers to place over the offending words.

Two years ago, the Harmar Township Board of Supervisors decided to spruce up the municipal building by inviting local art students in grades eight through 12 to design and paint a mural. It shows a tree, each quadrant depicting the plant in a different season, with the roots spelling out the name of the township. “[S]tudents who put paint to the entryway wall could someday come back with their own children, point to the mural and tell them the story of how they did that,” wrote the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Brian C. Rittmeyer back in March 2014. Sorry, kids, not gonna happen; the new board has decided your art sucks. “It wasn’t professionally done,” Supervisor Bob Exler told the Trib last week. “It looks like kids did it.” The board voted 3-2 to have the mural painted over in order to make the entrance more “presentable” in the words of another supervisor. “The Man” is a fickle art critic. 

State lawmakers are considering revising Pennsylvania’s open-records law to fight a glut of what Erik Arneson, director of the Office of Open Records, describes as frivolous requests from prison inmates. According to a reporter for the Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. group, inmates filed 1,414 of the 2,926 appeals the office received in 2015, but few were directly related to their cases, says Arneson. Most seem to be the result of curiosity, spare time, access to mail, and a vague understanding of the open-record system from having endured court proceedings. For example, one inmate filed an appeal after the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board failed to respond to his letter asking whether the state stockpiles milk. The change would limit open-record requests from inmates to materials related to their cases. 

“We haven’t had a ninja running around ever,” Ambridge Police Chief Jim Mann told WPXI. Well, the covert warriors of Imperial Japan have apparently made their way to Beaver County, because a Circle K in Ambridge was robbed by a man dressed in all black and armed with a foot-long sword. “The Ninja Robber,” as WPXI dubbed him, might not be quite ready to join the Foot Clan. After threatening the clerk by displaying his sword, the man was handed “a minimal amount of cash barely worth the crime,” according to Mann. Trying to carry it out while fidgeting with his cosplay outfit, he stumbled, briefly dropping his gloves, surveillance cameras show. The incident took place in 33 seconds, sluggish by ninja standards.

A priest allegedly stole at least $220,000 from the collection plates of Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge over the course of 10 years to fund his gambling habit. Thomas Paul Ross, a.k.a. Brother Ambrose Ross, tampered with seals the church placed on bags of parishioner money, taking the cash to casinos, the Beaver County district attorney’s office told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ross apparently had a Players Card at the Rivers Casino and had lost $331,531 on it from 2010 to 2015. (His annual salary is $28,158.)

A woman was hospitalized after she was hit by her own car in the drive-through lane of a McDonald’s in Mount Pleasant. The Trib reports that the 76-year-old woman dropped her bag of food when it was passed to her. She then opened the door of her Toyota Camry and leaned over to retrieve it. The car lurched forward, expelled her, hit the building and then rolled backward, striking her.


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