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Bright & Brief

January 23, 1990

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ A student truck driver cramming for his final driving exam discovered he needed to review the chapter on how to stop without hitting things.

A semitrailer truck operated by Robert Kernes, 59, of Des Moines, sheared off a utility pole and wiped out a traffic light Monday. Kernes said he drove off the road to avoid hitting two cars.

″I don’t think I got a very good grade on that one,″ said Kernes, who has been attending the Iowa Truck Driving School of West Des Moines for three weeks. His final exam, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed.

Kernes and his instructor, John Hutchinson, received minor injuries and Kernes was ticketed for failure to control a motor vehicle. Damage was estimated at $10,000.

Richard Rost said it was the school’s first mishap since 1986. The school boasts more than 100 graduates a year. ″We haven’t made a decision but I would not say he’s completely flunked out,″ said Rost, a school official.

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Mistletoe may make a good excuse for kissing at Christmas, but the parasite isn’t good for much else and certainly shouldn’t be Oklahoma’s state flower, says an arborist.

Mistletoe robs trees of nourishment, reduces growth and damages foilage, said Don Massey, owner of CRD Tree Services Inc.

″Having mistletoe as the state flower is like having a chainsaw as the state flower,″ Massey said Tuesday. ″It’s good for kissing under and that’s about it.″

Massey said he wants to drum up support for a change. He said he doesn’t have a replacement in mind, but his efforts will focus on getting people to realize how mistletoe damages trees.

″We have a history of changing names of things to incorporate new ideas, a new sense of priority,″ he said, listing highways, stadiums and shopping centers as examples. ″Mistletoe has become an outdated state flower.″

Mistletoe has hung in there. It’s had official recognition longer than the state. It was named the territory flower in 1893. Oklahoma didn’t enter the union until 1907.

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PLEASANTON, Calif. (AP) - His mom says he’s a ham who doesn’t understand what’s happened, but 16-month-old Andrew Payton Nestler is a looker.

The blue-eyed blond with a great smile has won a national ″Cutest Baby Contest″ sponsored by Life magazine.

Andrew, son of Andrew and Robin Nestler of Pleasanton, was the readers’ choice among 12 finalists picked from more than 20,000 photographs submitted by proud parents and grandparents all over the country.

Robin Nestler, 32, said she submitted a snapshot of her youngest son swinging in a hammock after her neighbor urged her to enter the contest.

″I thought I would never do it,″ she said. ″It seemed ridiculous. There are thousands and thousands of babies.″

″It was close, the final tally was real close,″ said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the magazine in New York.

Now she’s juggling telephone calls from television talk show producers.

A Life reporter and photographer spent two days with the family and the result is a big photo spread in this week’s Life. Andrew, who was awarded $25,000 in savings bonds, is taking it all in stride.

″He’s kind of a ham and likes to climb on things,″ said Robin Nestler. ″He’s just so normal. He doesn’t understand what’s happened,″

But his older sister, 5-year-old Ryan Elizabeth, does. She likes to follow Andrew around the house calling him ″cutest baby.″ Their brother, 4-year-old T.J., is unimpressed, preferring to ″run around in a Batman cape and mask fighting crime,″ Robin Nestler said.

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