An Indy staffer carries the Olympic torch, CEOs get rich while workers suffer & dead dogs in the B'root 

Run like the wind! While we at the Independent don’t like to blow our own horn too often—OK, so maybe we do—occasionally someone on our staff pulls off a particularly newsworthy accomplishment. This week, the Indy’s own receptionist, all-around gal Friday and unofficial fitness guru, April Yahvah, was selected as a potential torchbearer representing Missoula for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. The Salt Lake Torch Relay begins Dec. 4 in Atlanta, with the official Olympic flame journeying across America for 65 days, traveling 13,500 miles before opening the Salt Lake City Games Feb. 8. April will be one of approximately 11,500 individuals who will carry the flame. Along the way, the torch will also travel by car, plane, ship, skier, horse-drawn sleigh, ice skater and other merry modes of travel.

Nominated several months ago by an Independent staffer, the 21-year-old April also works part time as a kickboxing instructor and attends school fulltime at UM. “I’m kind of still in a state of disbelief. This is so exciting,” says April. Despite April’s self-confessed addiction to the endorphin rush of strenuous physical activity—earlier this year, she competed in a triathlon near her hometown of Libby, where she placed fourth in her category—she will get to carry the torch for only 2/10ths of a mile, less than one lap around a football field. Still, April’s selection had less to do with her physical fitness than her inspirational role representing a town afflicted with asbestosis. (April’s own grandfather was recently diagnosed.)

“This is a tragedy, but there are tragedies everywhere,” says April. “It’ll be interesting to see how the people of Libby deal and recover and overcome this.” Go for the gold, April!

Gnome? No, he just showed up at our door… Gnomes are peaceable creatures of field and forest. Probably Scandinavian in origin, in the past two millennia they have expanded their range to include most of Europe, including the British Isles, as far south as the Balkans and eastward as far as parts of western Siberia.

Masterful stewards of the land, their stock has adapted to a wide variety of climates and locales. While the definitive text on these little people, a 1976 Dutch publication written by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet and called simply Gnomes, focuses primarily on the better-known woodland gnome with his blue tunic and conical red felt cap, mention is also made of dune gnomes, farm gnomes, house gnomes, Siberian gnomes and the garden gnome commonly rendered in cement or painted plaster in suburban flowerbeds from Augusta to Albuquerque.

Gnomes are friendly with most wild animals have few natural enemies except for trolls, stupidly wicked creatures who delight in destruction of gnome property, and, of course, the malevolent snotgurgle. As of 1976, only a few snotgurgles were known to exist, and even those far to the east of the Urals, but the few recorded cases of gnomes severely wounded and even killed at the hands of snotgurgles are sufficient for most gnomes to avoid regions inhabited by snotgurgles altogether.

Gnomes are also believed to exist in the wild in the United States, although far more common are the aforementioned likenesses reclining in shady garden patches or wheeling the same barrow of dirt and petunias around in perpetuity. We at the Independent think these gnome simulacra, like the gnomes themselves, should be left in peace to tend to their duties in yardscaping and home husbandry. We challenge members of the Gnome Liberation Front to come forth and debate, in strictest confidentiality, their agenda with us. If GLF operatives are reading this, contact us immediately: 543-6609, and ask for the Gnome Intelligence Panel.

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