STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Jim Meade has gone bonkers for beanies.

Meade and 800 other people turned out Saturday for a chance to buy rare and not-so-rare Beanie Babies, hand-sized stuffed animals are very popular. Meade paid $850 for three Beanie dinosaurs.

``It's like a shark fest,'' said Fred Tonne, an organizer of the sale for the Chicago-based Beanie Collection. ``A lot of things sold out in the first hour.''

Ty Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., began selling the toys in 1994. The company has distributed 107 characters, from dinosaurs and teddy bears to birds and zoo animals. Discontinued models are the hot sellers.

Beanie Collection sold a Garcia baby, named after the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, for $50.

``It's hard to get,'' said Jackie White, 24. ``There's rumors of a lawsuit. It's because they used the Garcia name. On the Internet, they're asking for thousands of dollars.''


TYLER, Texas (AP) _ What more could a sheriff with 238 employees, horses, a 40-hound search team, boat patrols and personal watercraft need?

Armored personnel carriers, of course.

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith has added both to his crime-fighting arsenal, unveiling the vehicles last week.

Each 13-ton machine holds eight people. They have infrared sighting systems and can withstand 50-caliber bullets and even hand grenades. Used sparingly in the Gulf War, the vehicles had been stored for years.

Smith County got them free under a government surplus equipment program and will make them available to authorities throughout east Texas.

The vehicles will be used as a last resort when armed suspects refuse to surrender. Smith said all the heavy metal may have a ``psychological effect on the crooks.''


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ It is every bargain hunter's nightmare _ a limit on garage and yard sales.

City Councilman Mike Tassin, tired of complaints over traffic congestion, is considering a policy that would penalize people with fines and jail time for holding more than one garage sale each year.

The possibility surprised Tom Talley, who was looking through a clothes rack at a yard sale.

``Is that a joke? Are you serious?,'' he asked. ``The next thing you know, they will say you can only have a barbecue once a year.''

At a yard sale Saturday, Judy Young also criticized the proposal.

``I think two or three times a year would be reasonable, but not just once a year for all of us garage sale addicts,'' she said.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Take a left at the light, go three blocks and look for the house with the bomb on the mailbox.

McCormick Jones wanted to make sure his brother would be able to find his house so he placed the fake bomb on the mailbox Saturday. The orange tubes, with flashing lights and a buzzer and ``TNT'' written on the side, caught the eye of neighbors, who called police.

The bomb squad figured out the device was nothing dangerous, but a number of officers were frightened when the buzzer suddenly went off. Jones, 24, was arrested and charged with placing a hoax device, a felony.

``He said it was all a joke,'' said sheriff's Lt. David Gee. ``We were not laughing, I'll put it that way.''


BUCKHANNON, W.Va. (AP) _ It's Anna Marsh's favorite fish story.

With a little help from fellow anglers, the 64-year-old Marsh landed a 50.4-inch, 49.75-pound muskellunge earlier this month to set a West Virginia record for game fish.

Marsh said she was just enjoying a sunny April afternoon, hoping to land a bluegill, when the line jerked.

``I put the rod in close to my body. And when that thing went in the air, I screamed,'' Marsh said. ``Pain shot up my arm and chest, and I kept screaming for help.''

Marsh appreciated the aid. She suffers from diabetes, heart disease, emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis and arthritis.

The catch broke a record that stood since 1955 when a 52.5-inch, 43-pound muskellunge, which are similar to pike, was hauled in.