AMARILLO, Texas (AP) -- Imagine going from high school football to the NFL. It's happening for Wayne Bernier. Of course, he's not a player. Bernier is a replacement official. The NFL is in a contract standoff with the referees. So, the league hired replacement refs to do the preseason. They'll stay on the field as the regular season gets underway this week. Bernier, an Amarillo, Texas, businessman is one of those replacements. He's been calling high school games in West Texas. But he isn't awed by the big-time games. He tells a local paper (Amarillo Globe-News) about the only difference is the size of the crowds.
SPARKS, Nev. (AP) -- When it comes to barbecue, the Best in the West is actually from the Midwest. Chicago BBQ wins its first title at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off. After competing for 24 years, owner Tom Ferguson says they've finally taken the top prize. KRNV-TV reports second-place also goes to a Chi-town rib joint, Sweet Baby Ray's. Organizers figure about a-half million people sampled tons of barbecue at the six-day rib fest in Sparks, Nevada. First prize is $7,500 and a hugely enhanced reputation.
RUNNING ON SUNSHINE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Jim and Tomi Allison will soon be rolling on sunshine. They have a new Chevy Volt. The Indiana couple is installing solar panels behind their house to recharge their new car. The Volt runs on batteries, which can be charged by plugging-in or an on-board gasoline generator. The Allisons tell a local paper (Herald-Times) their new solar power system should provide enough juice for the car and to power the rest of their house as well.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- If you're going to rob banks, it's not the best idea to have a "Most Wanted" tattoo on your forearm. Prosecutors in St. Petersburg, Florida, say the tattoo was a nice piece of the puzzle in convicting Charles Combs. According to authorities, tattoos are helping to I-D a growing number of perps. The Tampa Bay Times reports one case still has the cops shaking their heads. A man charged with breaking into a home was identified, thanks to the outline of the state of Florida tattooed on his face.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- PETA has a beef with the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The animal rights group is calling on festival organizers to give meat the boot. PETA says John Chapman -- Johnny's real name -- was a vegetarian who never ate meat. The fest isn't going along with the request. But organizers say they'll ask vendors to offer vegetarian offerings next year. This year's Johnny Appleseed Festival will take place the weekend of September 15th. Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees in the early 1800s across a number of states. He was buried in Fort Wayne in 1845.
SLOW BUT STEADY
HAVERHILL, Mass. (AP) -- Jim Laprel isn't fast but he finishes -- again and again. The 58-year-old Massachusetts runner is prepping for his 75th marathon in November. It will be his 35th straight New York City Marathon and he's run in 40 Boston Marathons. But he's not setting any records. He says some of his marathons have been so slow, officials removed the clock before he finished. Laprel says he's logged every mile he's run since high school and tells the Eagle-Tribune he's closing in on 48,000.
Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.