Odds and Ends

Church raffles gas to temp attendees


So much for spaghetti suppers: The First Baptist Church of Snellville is fueling its membership drive with a sign in front of its sprawling campus proclaiming "Free Gasoline."

There's a catch, of course. The offer is a not a giveaway. Instead, each time newcomers or members attend a church event during a Sunday-to-Wednesday revival they get a pink raffle ticket for a chance to win one of two $500 gas cards.

"We don't know how far it will go with these soaring prices," said Rusty Newman, the church's senior pastor. "But it may make someone's night."

Newman's congregation boasts roughly 9,000 members, but only about 2,500 regularly attend Sunday services.

The church, like others, has long relied on special dinners and giveaways to draw in members, but elders wanted something a little more timely for this latest pitch.

They set up a sign advertising the offer outside the church's parking lot on a busy road near downtown Snellville, a traffic-clogged suburb northeast of Atlanta.

"How can we capture those people?" asked James Lee, the church's minister to seniors, who came up with the idea. "We're strong in door-to-door evangelism, but there's no way to reach them all."

Soon the calls came flooding in. Church staffer Lisa Gauthier said she's handled dozens of them each day, some from as far afield as Seattle. Radio show hosts in Oregon caught wind of the idea and invited Newman on air. So many inquiries came pouring in that Newman had to order a new phone line and dedicate a receptionist to answering each one.

Newman views it as a service to the community, and he's looked to the Bible for his endorsement. One passage he mentions to support his idea involves Jesus feeding 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

"Some pastors have questioned our motives," Newman said. "If it was just to get people in the building, it would be wrong. But we want to meet someone's physical need and eternal spiritual needs."

Parishioners tackle would-be robber


Police in Massachusetts say churchgoers in a Cape Cod town tackled a would-be robber who tried to steal a collection box during a service.

Investigators say Clyde Bridges showed up Sunday at the Hyannis Foursquare Portuguese Church wearing a mask and carrying a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun.

Officers arrived to find the 45-year-old being held on the ground by parishioners who had tackled him and ripped off the mask.

Bridges is being held on $200,000 bail on armed robbery charges. He also is accused of robbing a pizza delivery man this month.

Bridges lawyer Terrance O'Connell says his client denies robbing the delivery man and does not remember what happened at the church before he was pinned down.

Man jailed due to daughter's GED


A man ordered by a judge to make sure his daughter hit the books has found himself in jail because she failed to earn a high school equivalency diploma.

Brian Gegner, of Fairfield, Ohio, was sentenced last week to 180 days in jail for contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a minor.

He was ordered months ago to make sure his 18-year-old daughter Brittany Gegner, who has a history of truancy, received her GED &

something that hasn't happened yet.

Brittany Gegner, who said Monday that she plans to take a required GED test this month, said her father shouldn't be blamed for her failure because she's been living with her mother.

"It was my wrongdoing, not his," said Brittany Gegner, whose fiance and 18-month-old daughter also live at her mother's home in nearby Hamilton. "He shouldn't have to go to jail for something I did."

Her mother agrees.

"Brittany is almost 19 years old now and I think it's unfair to put her father in jail," said Shana Roach.

Butler County Juvenile Court administrator Rob Clevenger Jr. said Monday that the court still has jurisdiction in the case because Brittany Gegner was a juvenile when the truancy problems began and when the charge against Brian Gegner was filed in 2007.

A hearing on a motion filed by Brian Gegner's attorney to reconsider the sentence is scheduled for Friday.

"" The Associated Press

Messages seeking comment were not returned Monday at the offices of defense attorney Tamara Sack and the Butler County prosecutor.

Brian Gegner's wife, Stephanie Gegner, said she and her husband are afraid he will lose his job if he remains in jail. She said they tried to keep his daughter in school.

"You'd take her to school and she'd go out the other door," Stephanie Gegner said.

Shipping containers could become condos in Detroit


A Detroit-based group hopes to use empty shipping containers to build a $1.8 million, 17-unit condominium project.

The Detroit Free Press reports Tuesday the project would stack empty containers four high, cut in windows and doors, install plumbing, stairways and heating, and add amenities such as balconies and landscaped patios.

Groundbreaking could take place this fall on the project if it wins city approval, and it could open in 2009. It's designed by Detroit-based architect Steven Flum.

Developers plan to offer condominium units measuring 960 to 1,920 square feet. Prices will range from about $100,000 to about $190,000.

Illinois man reclaims stationary bike world record


A suburban Chicago man has reclaimed the Guinness world record for time spent on a stationary bicycle.

George Hood's time isn't official yet, but organizers say he spent about 177 hours over eight days riding a spinning bike at a suburban YMCA.

He rode the equivalent of 2,016 miles, burned more than 46,000 calories and never slept for more than 12 minutes at a time.

The retired Drug Enforcement Agency investigator from Aurora began his ride on May 5 and finished early Monday. He was taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

He had held the record until last summer after spending 111 hours, 11 minutes and 11 seconds on a bike. That record was broken by another cyclist from Tasmania.

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