Some real-life pyrotechnics prompt recall of Wii recharge stations

Posted on August 12th, 2009 – 9:33 AM
By James Shiffer

rechargedock.jpgIf you’ve got a hot hand at Super Mario Galaxy, it may be more than the excitement of the game. Minneapolis-based Griffin International Co. is recalling 220,000 recharge stations made for Nintendo Wii gaming controllers, sold under the Psyclone Essentials and React brands. The Chinese-made units developed a bad habit of overheating. Two users have gotten minor burns on their hands, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, although the company claims “no injuries have been reported.” The units sold for about $50 at Target, Best Buy and other retailers nationwide from January 2008 through last month. “Brand names are on the front of the packaging and the model numbers, Psyclone (PSE6501) and React (RT530), can be found on the bottom side of the product,” the CPSC reports. Consumers can call Griffin International (888-344-4702) about how they can turn in the defective units and get a free replacement.

Could wasps solve the problem of the flies?

Posted on August 10th, 2009 – 2:55 PM
By Lora Pabst

In the Sunday Whistleblower column, I wrote about the frustrations of two rural Scott County residents whose homes have been bombarded by flies from the neighboring feedlot. The flies leave behind trails of excrement on the siding and windows of Richard Theis and Wiley Vogt’s homes.

Scott County got involved in the dispute because the feedlot operator, Roger Breeggemann, had up to 90 head of cattle on a 10-acre property that legally could only hold eight. County officials worked out a solution with Breeggemann, which required him to lease additional land and spray Theis and Vogt’s homes with a product to keep the flies away. Both Theis and Vogt said they were concerned about an insecticide being sprayed on their homes. Read the rest of this entry »

Sister signed off on expensive oil change

Posted on August 7th, 2009 – 4:26 PM
By James Shiffer

My colleague, obit writer and Whistleblower contributor Tim Harlow, today revisits our earlier blog post about a family’s complaint over an expensive oil change.:

It looks like Whistleblower was misled about a reader’s claim of being duped at Superior Brookdale Ford in Plymouth.
As it turns out, the dealership did get the go-ahead for the $685 repair job from the sister of Jody Rumpel, whose family initially claimed the deaf and mentally-challenged woman had only agreed to a $27 oil change for her 1999 Ford Escort.

Judy Still, who also shares a credit card with her sister, said she authorized the repair on Rumpel’s behalf after being contacted by a mechanic at the Plymouth dealership before the work commenced. She was told that the price had escalated because of an unexpected problem involving a damaged oil pan.

“I thought it was ridiculous, but I told them they had the car, it was unmobile. You’ll have to fix it,” Still said Friday.

Rumpel’s brother-in-law, Dick Runman, contacted Whistleblower last week after he heard about the expensive repair. He claimed the family was not given prior notice about the extent of the work or the size of the bill, and claimed his sister-in-law was “shocked” when she discovered how much it would cost to reclaim her car.

Runman argued that the dealership was responsible for the damage, because it is the only place Rumpel has taken her car for an oil change in at least three years.

The dealership resolved the dispute this week by refunding Rumpel half the cost of the bill. Neither party elaborated on what led to the settlement.

Runman said the charges are acceptable, because, “after all, she did get a new plug and oil pan.”

The mystery of the wandering headstone is solved with help from readers

Posted on August 4th, 2009 – 2:29 PM
By James Shiffer

The tombstone transferThe mystery of the tombstone has endured for at least 30 years, the length of time that Patricia Brooks has lived on Ashland Avenue in St. Paul’s Summit University neighborhood.

The reddish granite slab is clearly marked “Gabriel Max Stern” with the dates of birth (1864) and death (1945) chiseled around a masonic symbol. Most recently, the stone was on top of a retaining wall that borders Brooks’ property, between a chainlink fence and a white picket fence. The stone migrated there from elsewhere in the yard next door to Brooks, and before that, lived in a garage of a house across the alley on Holly Street. The house next door recently changed hands. Brooks announced to her new neighbors: “This (stone) is leaving so don’t get used to it.” She thencontacted Whistleblower with the hope that Gabriel Max Stern’s tombstone could now go back home, wherever that is.

“I can’t stand it any more,” Brooks told me. “It’s like a wandering headstone. I just want it gone.”

Read the rest of this entry »