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Senator wants to corral runaway carts

State Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson of Gresham is dealing with some weighty issues this legislative session. But it was her work on a seemingly less substantial matter - runaway shopping carts - that recently garnered her national attention.

Monnes Anderson is sponsoring a bill that would establish a shopping-cart hotline in Oregon. Last week, she was interviewed by Robert Siegel on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered' program, which noted that February was - and I'm sure you already knew this - 'Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.'

In her interview with Siegel, Monnes Anderson explained that she introduced the hotline bill at the request of the grocers' association, which is trying to address a problem that's obvious to anyone who's seen shopping carts scattered about town. The carts get pushed away from their respective stores by shoppers on foot who cannot carry all their purchases. Monnes Anderson said she has heard complaints from neighborhood associations and apartment residents about abandoned shopping carts littering the landscape.

But one person's eyesore is another's asset. And it turns out that these shopping carts can cost grocery stores up to $300 apiece - a price that Siegel found astonishing. The grocery stores, as you might imagine, are as eager as anyone to keep the shopping carts within their parking lots.

That's where the hotline might do some good. Under Monnes Anderson's legislation, each shopping cart would be marked with a store logo and a phone number.

'Anyone who sees a shopping cart in their yard or on the street or at a local bus stop will call … this 24-hour phone number,' Monnes Anderson said.

The store then will have 72 hours to pick up the cart to avoid a fine of $50. The legislation, Senate Bill 645, also would make 'unauthorized use of a shopping cart' a crime punishable up to 30 days in prison and a $1,250 fine.

The shopping-cart bill doesn't really compare in importance to Monnes Anderson's months-long work on the Children's Health Initiative - which would ensure that every child in Oregon has medical coverage. But it made for good radio.

GALL GOES UNDERGROUND

TO GET HIS TURN IN LIMELIGHT

Another local resident getting public-broadcasting airtime is the Gresham Fire and Emergency Services Department's Lt. Tom Gall, who could be seen spelunking in private caves on Oregon Field Guide last Thursday.

The program, which aired on OPB Channel 10, showed Gall with a group of cave explorers who were led by the property owner and accompanied by scientists. The exact location of the Talus Caves was kept secret because the landowner didn't want to attract unauthorized spelunkers. But they were described as 'a unique series of caves on private land that only a fortunate few have ever seen.'

SPORTS EDITOR PICKS UP

HONOR FROM WRESTLING GROUP

Speaking of people who crawl around on the ground, wrestling is a sport that's too often ignored by newspapers.

But I'm happy to report that The Outlook's sports department does take high school wrestling seriously - and that Sports Editor David Ball recently was recognized as the 2007 Wrestling Sports Writer of the Year at the state wrestling tournament in Salem.

Ball makes it a point to attend many of the local matches, which involve a surprising number of athletes and spectators, and he devotes an unusual amount of time and space to the sport. We're pleased here at The Outlook to see his good work be recognized.