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Bright & Brief

May 5, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ With cans on the bottom, glass items in the middle and eggs on top, a 24- year-old Iowa grocery worker bagged a victory Tuesday, earning the chance to defend his packing title on national television.

″Good item arrangement and speed is what this is all about,″ said Paul Heffernen of Cresco, Iowa, who packed 27 items into two bags in less than 40 seconds.

As the theme song from ″Rocky″ blared, Heffernen and Peggy Weidner, 19, of Shippenville, Pa., a relative newcomer to the sport of speed-packing, finished first and second, respectively, in the fourth annual All-American Paper Grocery Sack Pack-Off.

They will square off for the national title Wednesday in New York on NBC’s ″Today″ show.

Heffernen, who won the title last year, and Miss Weidner bested 25 other baggers from around the country to earn spots in the finals. Contestants were judged on factors such as speed, ability to distribute weight evenly between two bags, and personal style.

Heffernen said he practiced at least 20 hours a week to defend his title. Miss Weidner said she has packed groceries for only a year but said an upset was possible in the final.

The champion will get $1,883 and the Charles Stilwell award, named for the Philadelphia man who invented the paper bag, which was patented in 1883. The contest is sponsored by a paper industry trade group.


GLASSER, N.J. (AP) - When a Massachusetts businessman bought this community, he promised to bankroll all the civic improvements himself to return the town to its 1930s glory.

That should not be too difficult, considering Glasser consists of a dock, three bungalows and a post office on the shores of Lake Hopatcong.

The town is so small that its ZIP code - 07837 - is larger than its square footage - 7,500.

Boston real estate investor Dennis Toth, who bought the town last fall for $90,000, said he plans to meet with people in the area to map out a master plan for the town. In its heyday, the community roughly 40 miles west of New York City was a summer retreat for artists and vaudeville stars such as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

″So far, I haven’t really done anything with it,″ Toth said. ″I’m waiting for the weather to get a little warmer.″

Although Glasser was advertised as a town, technically it is a section of Hopatcong Borough in Sussex County.

However, Glasser earned itself a spot on the map and its own identity in 1933 when the U.S. Post Office conferred official post office status on the general store owned by William Glasser Sr., who named the town after himself.


CLARKSDALE, Miss. (AP) - Industrial prospects are hopping in this Mississippi Delta town, thanks to a big green greeting frog.

″There’s so much going on in this town it’s unbelievable,″ said Mayor John Mayo. ″The whole town is ready to pull itself up by its bootstraps.″

The city’s 21,000 residents have a lot of pulling to do. A failing farm economy has had Coahoma County unemployment hovering between 14 and 20 percent in recent months.

The Industrial Foundation of Coahoma County unveiled created the frog - in the form of a sign at Memphis International Airport about 70 miles away - several months ago. ″Become a Big Frog in a Little Pond in Clarksdale,″ the smiling amphibian beckons.

The campaign and the headlines it generated brought 12 industrial prospects, said Mitch Stennett, director of the Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Foundation. He called the frog ″a rallying point.″

Inspired in part by that rally, more than 200 residents have committed to invest $5,000 each to form an industry in Clarksdale. They are planning to decide soon what type of industry to launch.

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