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To This Texas 'Ranger,' Litterers Are the Bad Guys

October 04, 1987|LARRY PRYOR

If you drive through Bexar County in Texas, take care. Mark Hodgkinson, the "Litter Ranger," may have you in his sights. "I can't stop everybody who throws something out the window of their car," says the burly deputy constable, but don't bet on it. He is the state's only peace officer specifically assigned to cite litterers, and he takes the job seriously. "This is not like being a regular police officer who has a beat, but I try not to think about it," he says. "I like the job and I'll work twice as hard at it because nothing looks worse than going down the road and seeing all this trash all over the place." He drives more than 200 miles a day over the county's 1,248 square miles looking for people who throw items along secluded country roads. And although he packs a 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol and wears a uniform, some aspects of his image are not totally intimidating. Instead of a traditional black-and-white car with a rack of lights, the 23-year-old Hodgkinson drives a compact yellow sedan with a baby seat in the back for his child. But beware, the compact has a supercharger. And since August, Hodgkinson and several volunteer constables have written more than 200 citations. Out of 75 court cases, he has lost only one.

--What goes up must come down. Steve Silva, an American fitness instructor, put that cliche to the test, climbing the 1,051-foot Eiffel Tower seven times in just over two hours but failing to set a world record. "I kept thinking, I'm doing this for my health, and this is killing me," said the 39-year-old Brookline, Mass., resident after his tours up and down the more than 500 flights of stairs over 2 hours, 2 minutes and 54 seconds. Eight U.S. Marines stationed at points along the way kept his time and shouted encouragement. But he fell 90 seconds short of the previous "vertical mile" record, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having been set by Dale Neil in 1984 at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta.

--Considering the local weather recently it's a little hard to believe, but up the Pacific Coast, at Yakutat, Alaska, more than four feet of rain fell in September, setting a record. The town's mayor, Larry Powell, said the month did not feel much wetter than usual. "We're used to a lot of rain," he said. "I'm not aware of any problems it's caused. It's normally rainy, and frankly, it's hard to tell 25 or 30 inches from 48."

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