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Bright & Brief

August 24, 1986

EATONTOWN, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey might be known for chemical plants and crowded urban areas, but it’s not called the Garden State for nothing.

The winner in Saturday’s ninth annual New Jersey Championship Tomato Weigh- In was a Jumbo Jim variety measuring 22 3/4 inches around that weighed 4.034 pounds.

″I was a nervous wreck,″ said champion grower Minnie Zaccaria of Long Branch, who collected the $1,000 grand prize. ″I kept watching the scales. I knew I’d won.″

″We have people who grow just for this contest,″ said Joseph Heimbold, 73, of Monmouth Beach, who created the competition in 1978. The record is a 4.574-pound, 23-inch circumference tomato entered last year.

Competition is so fierce that the final weighing is done on a digital scale supplied by the state Department of Weights and Measures that measures increments of a thousandth of a pound.

″This way we hope there are no ties,″ Heimbold said.

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s neighboring state of Iowa is hundreds of miles from the tropics and is better known for cattle and hogs than huge reptiles.

But that’s where East High School freshman Curtis Marti found an alligator skull last week, buried in the beach at Lake Okoboji. ″I find some pretty strange things,″ he said.

Iowa State University specialists estimated the skull, with 60 teeth, belonged to an alligator that once measured 9 feet long.

″No one went swimming that afternoon after he found him,″ said Curtis’ mother, Karolyn. ″It was like ‘Jaws’ appearing.″

There have been unconfirmed reports that several alligators were exhibited at the popular northern Iowa vacation spot many years ago, and that one had escaped, Curtis said.

He’s going to use the skull as a mascot for his school’s gymnastics team.

″I’m going to carry it to all the meets, if it doesn’t smell too bad,″ said Curtis, 14.

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BRISTOL, England (AP) - The computer is even moving into the scarecrow business.

Three high school science students say they have invented an electronic scarecrow that frightens off feathered intruders by broadcasting bird distress calls.

The computer analyzes the cries of approaching birds and then selects an appropriate distress call from its recorded library of bird sounds, the students said. The sound makes the intruders think danger lies ahead so they stay away.

Emma Boyce, Andrew Gillions and Mark Hill developed the scarecrow while attending a special course offered by the naval weapons division of state- owned British Aerospace.

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