KEYSTONE CLIPS Nothing to sniff at: a skunk's aid

Yeah, but sometimes they just smell bad. Donald G. Chaybin, a state wildlife conservation officer from Greenville, Pa., said he recently responded to an elderly woman's complaint about a skunk digging in a flower bed beside her sidewalk. She thought it was trying to dig a den.
Chaybin found a hole larger than a football, but after closer examination, he realized the skunk had discovered a nest of yellow jackets. The animal had dug it up and had eaten the nest and the insects, leaving only a few dead yellow jackets and scraps of comb as evidence. In this case, instead of being a nuisance, the skunk provided a service to the homeowner, Chaybin said.
4-H benefit: Mercer County 4-H hopes to raise as much as $10,000 for its 4-H Park and educational programs through its annual 4-H Benefit Auction at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the 4-H Park on U.S. Route 19 just north of Mercer.
Sale items ranging from restaurant gift certificates to animal and pet supplies and sports memorabilia will be available, and soup and sandwiches will be sold in the show arena kitchen. Donations of new items, cash or gift certificates are still being accepted; donors should call the county Cooperative Extension Service at (724) 662-3141.
Advance copies: Anyone wanting a copy of "Mercer County Pictorial History: 1800-2000" at the pre-publication sale price has to buy by Nov. 1. The Mercer County Historical Society said the $50 advance price will rise to $65 at that time.
The 590-page book, put together as part of the county's bicentennial celebration last year, contains more than 700 black-and-white photos and a 16-page color spread. Copies are available at the society's office at 119 S. Pitt St., Mercer.
Prosecutions: Lawrence County officials are finding out that the cost of prosecuting people accused of crime isn't cheap. The county has paid $60,695 in costs and legal fees for court-appointed attorneys representing four men accused of homicide in Lawrence County.
County Administrator Charlene Micco said $30,398 of that was spent on the upcoming retrial of Thomas Kimbell. Kimbell is accused in the stabbing deaths of a Pulaski Township woman and three children in 1994. He was granted a new trial last year when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided his attorney wasn't allowed to cross-examine a key witness in his first trial.
The other pending trials involve three Struthers men accused in the stabbing death of a 12-year-old Youngstown girl found in an abandoned culvert in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County, in October 2000. All four men are expected to go to trial sometime next year. Micco said the county budgeted $120,000 this year to pay for court expenses and expects the costs to be even higher next year.
It's all in the logo: Talk of terrorism and military attacks had Lawrence County commissioners Roger DeCarbo and Ed Fosnaught reminiscing about the days of the Civilian Civil Defense Corps.
Fosnaught fondly remembered a neighbor wearing the white plastic helmet with the triangular civil defense logo. DeCarbo said he had his own white civil defense helmet, but not for the same purpose as those working on protecting civilian lives during the Cold War.
DeCarbo said shortly after the county civil defense office was switched over to its current status as the county emergency management office, county workers gave him the helmet. The triangle emblem was painted over and a bull's-eye was painted on top. "They told me, 'We want to make sure you're hit first,' " he said.
XCONTRIBUTORS: Laure Cioffi of The Vindicator New Castle Bureau and Harold Gwin of the Sharon Bureau.