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Man's Property Deal With Hollister a Burning Issue

March 26, 1987|DEBORAH CHRISTENSEN

--J. B. Howard says he got burned in a property deal with the City of Hollister, Calif. To be precise, his house got burned--in a city fire drill. Howard had been negotiating the sale of the property with the city, which planned to run a new storm sewer line underneath it. He says he had signed a letter giving the city the right of entry to what used to be a two-bedroom, one-bath rental property, then left on a vacation. When he drove past the property upon his return, the house was gone. "Then I found out in the newspaper that they burned it down," Howard said. Hollister Mayor Clifford A. Cardoza says the city was legally entitled to destroy the house, even though a sale price had not been determined. And, according to City Engineer John White, the Fire Department is frequently allowed to burn down a condemned building as a training exercise.

--The City of Indianapolis found itself between a rock and a hard place when it discovered that a 24-ton piece of granite lay in the path of a planned drainage ditch. So, for 10 days, workers attacked the boulder with hydraulic hammers, poured chemicals on it to try to crack it and used heavy machinery to try to pry it loose. It wouldn't budge. But the city left no stone unturned in its attempt to remove it, and finally got the upper hand by calling in a 25-ton excavating machine. After a mighty struggle, the stubborn boulder was finally unearthed. Nearby residents, many of whom used to play on it as children, had been rooting for the rock. Ralph Stoner, whose family used to own the land on which the boulder sat, recalled: "My father told me he tried to dynamite it back then, but it only took a few chunks off." Ann Beall, who got a 12,000-pound chunk as a souvenir to put in her yard, said: "I stood out there and cried. That rock's been there forever."

--It just wasn't Daisy Pittman Jones' day. She had pulled behind a line of cars at an intersection north of downtown Pensacola, Fla., when she became distracted and rear-ended another car, causing a four-car chain reaction accident. Officer Mike Porter cited her for careless driving. Less than two hours later, as Porter was writing up a report on the accident, he was called to the scene of another. When he arrived, there was Jones. This time, Jones had struck a pickup truck at an intersection, totaling the truck and damaging her own car. She was cited for running a stop sign. Jones said she was on her way to file an insurance claim from the first accident when the second occurred.

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