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Military Officer Just Wanted To Get Home, When Man Confronted Her On Plane

Packed plane rides tend to be the worst because if you’re not lucky enough to get on early, you get stuck with whatever is left. And that usually means being cramped in a middle seat squished between two others. It might be livable on a short flight, but a long flight can be torture sitting like that. For Jessica’s case, it was obvious to her when boarding that her flight was going to be a miserable experience. Everything was taken, and the only seat left was a middle seat in a cramped can of a ride. However, things got weird before she could even get her bag in the storage and sit down. Instead of sitting down, a man walked up and told her she couldn’t sit in the seat she finally found. The reason why just about knocked her off her feet.

Training Forgotten

Jessica had been in the military for a while already and had gone through multiple training scenarios for stressful situations in battle or under duress. But for some reason, all her situational control went out the window when the man on the plane confronted her. Her brain seemed to freeze and she started shaking. What the hell?

Trying to Get Home

The trip had been a long one already. Jessica was trying to get home on the holiday so she could see her family and familiarity again. She had been on a long tour of duty, and each day closer to the vacation time was tearing at her. Finally, getting her leave, she bolted for the airport, got her ticket and boarding pass, and was on the next plane out, but when she got to her seat something was off.

Modern Flying

The problem with modern flying today is that it suffers from too much cost-cutting and efficiency. Every ounce of space is squeezed out to make every plan produce as much revenue as possible. That means seats are cramped, even for the smaller-sized person. However, flying still remains the fastest way to get to a distant location. So, Jessica wasn’t going to complain much when her time came up and she was able to get a ticket home.

An Odd Number

Jessica was already an odd number in the military. She was military officer in an organization that was predominantly men and lead predominantly by male officers. And someone noticed her rank when she got on board the plane that day.

Flying Coach

Most people fly economy or coach. It’s the most inexpensive plane ticket to get, and the difference between coach and business is tremendous in cost. Jessica was no exception, and an economy ticket was what she should have to deal with to get home timely. Cramping was just part of the necessary evils to use flight for fast travel.

Seat 31B

She had boarded the plane in her fatigues uniform, which showed off her rank for those who were paying attention. Her bag was slung over her shoulder, and Jessica’s boarding pass had the big numbers and letter of 31B as her seat. So, she shuffled her way past the business section with the expansive leg room, making her jealous along the way. But there was no way Jessica could have afforded the upgrade.

Noticed

As Jessica worked her way to the back of the plane to get to her seat, another person was talking to a stewardess specifically about Jessica. As the soldier finally got her way back to row 31 in coach, she hefted her bag into the overhead cabin and prepared to work her way into the middle seat to sit down. And she waited, and waited, and waited. The plane wasn’t taking off.

What Was the Delay For?

There wasn’t any kind of bad weather outside, which then meant something was going on with the plane or someone on it. Jessica wasn’t oblivious to her surroundings. Her curiosity started to get peaked as the minutes ticked on. She tried to ask a passing stewardess what the delay was being caused by but none appeared. Weird and weirder.

Odd Behavior

As she kept looking forward Jessica noticed the cabin crew were clumped together talking. There was a lot of chattering and zipping back and forth and talking on the plane phone. Something was up. It was clear the stewardesses were talking about a passenger as they were comparing boarding passes and the manifest. Then one of them started walking down the aisle.

A Uniform Stands Out

After a few seconds it was clear the stewardesses were focused on Jessica and looking at her as one of them approach. They were also laughing. Jessica’s edge started to rise. Something was about to happen, and it involved her.

Military Training

All military are unfortunately trained to anticipate uncomfortable situations when they travel. The concept of the training came from the 1970’s when soldiers were returning home from Vietnam and would be attacked or spit on at the airport on trains by Americans protesting the war. By the 1980’s, traveling soldiers were also targets for terrorists. No surprise, Jessica was well trained for the unexpected, but she was also tired and just wanted to get home. She didn’t need this.

The Stranger

From a different angle Jessica noticed a tall man was also making his way towards her. He was in a very nice suit and his eyes stood out. She also noted his confidence; he walked like someone who knew how to go after what he wanted.

Approaching

The man was coming in Jessica’s direction as well. And he was looking at her too, just like the stewardess was. As they reached Jessica’s seat, the man began to speak directly to here. He wanted her attention, but the reason why caught Jessica totally off guard.

Seat Numbers

“You’re in my seat.” Jessica had to do a double take, “What?” He spoke again, “I was in your seat,” inferring she needed to move. Jessica was now entirely confused. He took the opportunity to clarify, “What does your boarding pass have?” He sighed, waiting for her to respond.

Refusing

Jessica shook her head. She knew what her boarding pass. “No, I’m 31B!” Her ticket had those numbers and letter printed on it clear as day. She pulled out the boarding pass and confirmed her thinking, what the hell was this guy talking about? The stewardess was nearby with another, and Jessica looked at them to clear it up.

Explanation

The man decided to let Jessica in on the surprise. He recognized that she was an officer, and he was going to give up his seat in business class for her as thank you for her service. Jessica was floored.

Deer in the Headlights

The man continued, offered Jessica his business class boarding pass, and reiterated it was a thank you for all she had done for her country.  Jessica was in shock, she tried to refuse, but he made it clear Jessica was going to take the business class seat. The stewardesses nodded their heads.

Shock

The seconds it took for her to move, relocate and sit in the business class seat seemed like a blur. Suddenly she had more space on her trip than she knew what to do with. What just happened? Her muscles were sore and aching from the trip on top of the beating she had taken in officer training and her tour. She was tired. The seat felt good.

Feeling Gratitude

Jessica realized she would actually get some rest on the trip home. The mystery stranger had really done her a huge favor. But as relaxed as she got, Jessica couldn’t stop thinking about the man’s gesture.

To Say Thank You

Jessica got an idea. She pulled out a pen and starting writing a note. She also pulled out a $20 bill. Then she flagged a nearby stewardess. She then asked the stewardess to bring the note and the money to the man who had traded seats with her.

The Note

Jessica’s note was simple and to the point. She offered to buy the man a snack and drink on the plane on her, and added if everyone in the world was as nice as he was, the planet would be a better place.

The Response

When it arrived, the man read the note and looked at it intently. However, he was not going to accept the gift. Instead, he wrote Jessica a response, asking her to dinner on him when they landed. Jessica’s just about giggled when she read the note. A date? He was handsome.

The Date Was Confirmed

Jessica agreed and, when they both got off the plane, she went to dinner with the stranger. They met at a nearby restaurant and started talking. Amazingly, all her exhaustion just flowed off of Jessica as they talked. Her excitement took over.  For the military officer, it proved that there was still good in the world and being nice was still possible. For Jessica, she met someone who became very dear to her in the most unpredictable place in the world, up in the air.

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Innovative Overpass To Reduce Wildlife Deaths and Injuries

Kelly Taylor

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Sweden’s declaration that it will build a network of animal crossings has been the latest example of international attempts to assist animals navigating busy roads.

Sweden’s key highway draws to a complete halt each April. Dozens of reindeer led by indigenous Sami shepherds scramble all across E4 when they make their way west to the hills after a winter spent munching on lichen near Ume.

The crossings are becoming increasingly fractious as Sweden’s city’s main highway has become extremely busy, particularly if officials do not reach in time to close the route.

When drivers attempt to pass the reindeer as they cross the road, they spook the animals, causing lengthy gridlock as their Sami caregivers struggle to regain control.

According to Per Sandström, a land ecologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences who acts as a mediator between the Sami and municipalities to develop the crossings, these lichen lands can be precious for the reindeer during difficult climate conditions.

Swedish authorities announced this week that they would construct up to twelve viaducts for the reindeers, also known as “renoducts,” to help with the crossings and make it easier for reindeer herds to access grazing.

The climate crisis has hit the country’s 4,500 Sami herders and 250,000 reindeer hard, with forest fires in the summer and freezing rain in the winter hiding lichen under impenetrable sheets of ice.

Long-range mammals that aren’t meant to live in these tiny, isolated pockets would profit most from this scheme, according to Sandström, who began his career in the United States, helping to establish grizzly bear ecological pathways in Montana.

The renoducts form part of a broader network of ecological bridges and crosswalks that seek to link fragmented ecosystems across the world.

Underpasses were also used to protect jaguars against traffic on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula.

Porcupines, apes, and kinkajous have used organic foliage crossings in the Peruvian Amazon to cross natural gas pipelines.

Bridges have been constructed over streets on Christmas Island to allow hundreds of thousands of red crabs to migrate from the jungle to the coasts on their annual cycle.

The wildlife bridges prevent several of the millions of wildlife fatalities each year on the world’s roads and mitigate human infrastructure’s unintended effects.

Since the bustling motorways around Los Angeles have fragmented habitats with low genetic variation, there are already indications of inbreeding amongst lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in southern California. An $87 million (£63 million) wild animals bridge is being built north of Los Angeles to help save the local mountain lion community from destruction. It will be the world’s largest.

Animals may be harmed if their ecosystem is separated, as they may be unable to obtain food and water.

According to Mark Benson, a representative of Parks Canada’s human-wildlife convergence group for Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay, they might also have an effect on population genetic diversity.

In the United Kingdom, wildlife bridges are projected to be included in the government’s wildlife recovery network, which seeks to link biodiverse areas as part of a 25-year environmental plan.

Natural England noted the environmental benefits in a 2015 study, citing the Netherlands as an example, and is creating a network of “ecoducts” to help animals travel across the world.

Highways England is progressively constructing wildlife bridges as a component of infrastructure projects around the region, with more expected for the future. However, some conservationists believe that not enough is being achieved in the United Kingdom.

Although significant demonstrations against the project failed to halt construction, De Retuerto believes they signaled a change of attitude toward environmental concerns in the UK.

He claims that a sustainable walkway at Twyford Down will be built solely for this purpose to invigorate the wildlife recovery network.

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More Than 200 Thousand Books Donated To Flint Students By Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Shannon Jackson

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It was in 2017 that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library was launched, and since then, it has sent out over 200,000 books to Flint children.

The initiative, which sends a book to a child from delivery up to their fifth birthday on a monthly basis, achieved its target at the end of February.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who is the Director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, stated in March that “for a year when things were awry, the monthly book allocation to households to young Flint children has been a reliable area of enrichment.” She added that with books being a vital formula for active and prosperous children, she’s ecstatic that they have reached the tremendously 200,000 book milestone!

Residents can benefit from the program by signing up, the Flint Public Library Director said, as part of the commemoration of the 200,000th book sent off to Flint children.

Every month, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends a free age-appropriate book to the household of every registered child who is eligible.

“The Little Engine That Could” is the first book mailed to the child, and “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” is the last book mailed before the child turns five.

Essence Wilson, a mom, said, “Every month, my daughter Cadence enjoys being delighted with another exploration from the Imagination Library.” “We receive a wide range of novelists, lengths, topics, and varieties of books.

They peek her curiosity and are engaging, says the mom. She enjoys the suggestions in a number of the books about using them to teach various concepts and foster creativity. She’s also happy that the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is attainable to Flint families.

The Foundation’s grant for the community enabled the Flint program development in reaction to the water catastrophe.

About 9,500 qualifying small kids have benefited since the program started, with almost five thousand still enrolled and receiving books on a regular basis. Another 4,700 have since finished the program.

The Foundation is funded by individuals across the United States and fifteen countries worldwide to assist the city of Flint and its residents in recovering from the Flint water crisis.

The foundation’s strategic emphasis on raising literacy rates aligns with the fund’s nearly 700 thousand dollar undertaking in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The community’s transition from disaster to recuperation is aided by keeping young children at the forefront of required solutions.”

Head of the Genesee Intermediate School District, Lisa Hagel, said they continue to be an enthusiastic collaborator in linking children and families to literacy through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

The program also promotes family reading by offering early literacy packages to new mothers at the medical center, providing information about how to participate in the Dolly Parton Imagination program in partnership with community partners.

Children are required to be under the age of 5 and live in zip codes 48501 up to 48507 as well as 48532 to be eligible for the program.

More than forty percent of all children living in the designated areas are signed up.

You can register online at FlintKidsRead.org or collect a registration form at the Flint Public Library in Burton.

If a family has more than one qualified child, each child may be enrolled separately and obtain a book appropriate for their age group. The initial book takes about 8-10 weeks to arrive.

Those interested in participating in the program can get more details by calling the Flint Public Library at 810-249-2569.

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91-year-old Police Officer in Arkansas Has No Plans to Retire, Continues on the Beat

Shannon Jackson

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Nestled in the heart of Ouachita County is a small city in Arkansas by the name of Camden. Just 100 miles to the south of Little Rock, Camden was first settled in 1782 when the Spanish military established a trading post in the region. Since then, Camden has become well known for its proximity to several historic Civil War sites as well as the work of officer L.C. ‘Buckshot’ Smith. Smith recently made headlines around the nation for celebrating his 91st birthday on the job — and he has no plans to retire!

Meet L.C. ‘Buckshot’ Smith – Camden’s Veteran Officer

If you grew up in or around Camden then the odds were pretty good that you ran into L.C. Smith at some point in your life. As the oldest police officer in the state at 91-years-old, Smith has been walking the beat for more than a couple of generations. With that being said, Smith has no plans on leaving any time soon despite a recent retirement that lasted for, get this, five months.

Smith had begun working with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy nearly 46 years ago. While the world may have been a vastly different place, Smith was as committed to the work then as he is today. Smith said, “You got to respect people.”

Despite his love for the job and his warm reception around town, Smith gave retirement his best shot. After five months at home, the retired L.C. Smith was ready to get back into action even though he may walk a little slower than he used to. Asked why he gave up on retirement Smith provided a simple answer, “I don’t hunt. I don’t even fish.”

After leaving retirement behind, Smith would return to policing as a rookie cop in the Camden Police Force. Smith returned the workforce in his 80s and has been going on steadily ever since. While Smith does carry a firearm on his hip, he is proud of never having to use it, instead relying on his place in the community.

The Mayor of Camden, one Julian Lott, said that Smith’s most effective weapon is his familiarity with the community. Lott said, “He knows your mama and your grandmother.” This tracks with what other folks have said of L.C. Smith as many have pointed out that Smith prefers to take people home safe rather than sending them to jail.

L.C. Smith’s continued work in the field comes at a time when police operations are growing increasingly scrutinized at a national and, at times, global level. This global scrutiny coincides with difficulties hiring new officers as the career path experiences a marked downturn. Officers like L.C. Smith who have a history of working and embracing their community set the standard by which other officers should follow.

While L.C. Smith doesn’t have any immediate plans to retire, he also doesn’t ever plan on walking away from the career. According to Camden Police Chief Boyd Woody, “He’ll retire when the good Lord tells him to.”

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A Teacher Living in a Car Gets Help From Former Students

Kevin Wells

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No one gets rich being a grade school or high school teacher. It’s a job one does because he or she believes in education, not to achieve a lucrative career. However, 2020 pounded many in the education field as classes were shuttered, online learning became the norm, and substitute teachers were laid off completely without anything likely to come back for months and now even a year later.

As a result of COVID, substitute teachers like Jose Villarruel were practically made destitute. The typical substitute teacher is paid by the hour. The more hours worked covering the classes for other teachers, the larger the paycheck for the month. Even at the best of times a substitute teacher is not making much, typically an income that eeks out maybe just above minimum wage. So when schools in his district shifted to online learning due to social distancing restrictions, Villarruel literally found himself out of a job. He resigned in May, pretty much accepting the fact that there would be no work for him going forward for the year in a classroom.

By the time Villarruel finally got his pension check, a retirement account payout after years of work as a teacher, the 77-year-old was already deep in debt just trying to make it day to day. The bills ate up whatever livable income he could get from the pension payout, and Villarruel was essentially reduced to living out of his car and losing his apartment. The teacher made his situation work. He got used to sleeping in his car, even with all the cramped space and bumps. He was still trying to find work, but his wheels were literally Villarruel’s only shelter as well. Every morning the teacher would rearrange some belongings in his trunk, move things around inside, change his clothes, and trying to find a better solution during the day. At night, Villarruel would find a safe place to park and hunker down for another sleep in a parking lot.

It was one of those mornings at the beginning of the day that a former student of Villarruel saw his past teacher and began to wonder what was going on. It became evident within a few observations that the teacher was homeless. Nava, the student, was furious at the situation. No one talked about what the pandemic was doing to teachers, and Villarruel was a living example of the quiet disaster occurring across the educational system thanks to COVID-19.

Nava took $300 out of his own pocket and gave the money to Villarruel the first chance he could, but then the former student went a step further. Organizing a GoFundMe page, Nava was able to generate enough online chatter and awareness that help for Villarruel became a real, viral movement. Nava hoped the account would generate at least $5,000 to help Villarruel out. Surprisingly, it did far more. Nava was ultimately able to give Villarruel a check for a whopping $27,000 to help the former teacher in a time of need. The city mayor and other students of Villarruel got together to present the check to Villarruel as a thank you for all the work he had done for the community and to help.

Dubbed Mr. V for all his years of teach, Villarruel was moved by his former students’ concern. Putting it into a few words, he was still trying to grasp what happened when interviewed about the gift by the local news. For teacher of meager means, the $27,000 was going to go a long ways for him.

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12-Year-Old College Student Aims for NASA

Shannon Jackson

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When going to college, you’re already going to make waves being accepted as a bona fide student at the age of 12. Not only will you be the focus of attention every class for the first few days, you’re probably going to be doubted by every professor until your skill is proven, as well as your maturity to handle the college level classroom and topics.

An Arizona Superstar for Tempe

For Alena Wicker, Arizona State University was going to be her landing pad. The 12-year-old had completed grade school and high school at hyper-speed, passed all the standardized tests with flying colors, and got herself accepted at ASU. No surprise to anyone that knows Alena in Arizona, she has chosen astronomy and related sciences for her major. Her class lists, aside from core requirements, will be chock full of planetary sciences, chemistry and astronomy. ASU is a prime school for the field; ASU has been in the news multiple times for its advanced robotics research, astronomy identifications in outer space, and advanced engineering breakthroughs in all sub-fields for that discipline.

If You Achieve One Miracle, Pull Off Another

Achieving what takes adults around her normally at least 18 years of life and schooling, as well as all the requisite grades in school and heavy topics, Wicker arrived in college and started planning her next target right after graduation, a full-time career at NASA. The federal government’s space agency, NASA, regularly recruits teens and college level students with their Academy program, hoping to spot new potential on the way up towards a normal graduation date. However, Wicker’s goal is going to be a surprise for the agency as well as a major accomplishment if she can pull it off by age 16.

As far as Wicker is concerned, NASA is another fence to climb over, that’s all. She fully expects that while other 16-year-olds are driving their first cars on public roads, Wicker will be testing land rovers for Mars or planets beyond by her graduation.

Never Hesitating to Go For More

Her motto is to aim and dream for goals without hesitation or fear or self-doubt, and Wicker has proven she can connect reality and fulfillment with hard targets already. How that future will work out, whether it be at NASA or elsewhere, one thing is for sure – Wicker is going to go a lot farther than anyone can imagine right now. The biggest challenge for her will be handling increasing social pressures with her young age as well trying to choose the best path for her. Fortunately, Wicker has solved half that problem with already decided NASA will be her next achievement target, period. And given the type of employees NASA hires, with some of their own miracle stories already, Alena Wicker may very well fit in just fine with the teams at the federal space agency.

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