Coomer- Harless

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Town threatens to secede from Norway

OSLO, Norway -- The Arctic town of Narvik got the media attention it was looking for when it threatened to secede from Norway and join neighboring Sweden to protest Oslo's policies.

Narvik, about 225 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, has long complained that the central government has cut half its public service jobs in recent years.

Proposals from Oslo, about 682 miles to the south, to close the local airport and customs office proved too much for the town of 18,500 people.

"Narvik has no advantages from belonging to Norway," local Mayor Olav Sigurd Alstad was quoted as telling newspapers. "The question is whether we should join Sweden."

His deputy, Per Henrik Moerk, said the idea came up at a city management meeting this week and will be discussed at a late May city council meeting, although he conceded the measure stemmed more from a need for publicity than a real desire to separate from Norway.

"We had to do something to attract attention to our problems," Moerk said by telephone. "We're not really going to join Sweden."

Car mistakenly appears in woman's driveway

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A Mercedes-Benz appeared in the driveway of a Long Island woman -- but it turned out not to be the surprise gift she hoped it was.

Instead, the car had been mistakenly parked there by mechanics who had repaired it for its owner and left the keys and paperwork in her mailbox, according to Nassau County police.

Ruth Sheppard, 61, said she unsuccessfully tried to find an owner for the 1985 Mercedes-Benz, and claims she even called police, who she said told her it had not been reported stolen.

"Mother's Day was coming up, and it was an old car, so I thought my daughter had surprised me," she told The New York Post for Thursday editions.

But when workers from the garage came to reclaim the car, Sheppard had allegedly parked it in her backyard and covered it with a tarp. A worker from the garage asked for the keys, but a woman at the house refused, and the garage removed the car from her yard by truck, police said.

Investigators said that when police arrived at Sheppard's home to investigate the dispute, she tried to pull out of the driveway in her Honda and said she was going to church.

When one officer tried to stop her from leaving and reached for the keys in the ignition, she hit the gas and dragged her about 10 feet, according to Nassau County Officer Adele Burke. The officer sustained minor injuries, Burke said.

When Sheppard got out of the car, she and her daughter, 41-year-old New York Corrections Officer Carla Sheppard, both struggled with the officers and were arrested, police said.

--From wire reports

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