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The Telegram
  • WEIRD NEWS

  • Missouri gets creative in ‘beet’ing ice on roads

    Neosho, Mo. — A product made from sugar beet juice is helping the Missouri Department of Transportation keep roads clear this winter.

    The liquid is mixed with salt and spread on roadways.

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  • Missouri gets creative in ‘beet’ing ice on roads
    Neosho, Mo. — A product made from sugar beet juice is helping the Missouri Department of Transportation keep roads clear this winter.
    The liquid is mixed with salt and spread on roadways.
    “Pre-mixing makes it a little bit ‘hotter,’” said Lori Marble, MoDOT community relations manager. “It works faster when you throw it out on the ice and snow.”
    The product is called Geomelt 55 and comes as a byproduct of processing sugar beets grown in Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and Michigan. 
    “We’re throwing a mix on (the roads) and you let the mix work for a little while and then you go and plow it off,” Marble said. “It’s got to kind of melt the ice. “
    Galen Kauzlarich, salesman with Smith Fertilizer & Grain, said he’s seen sales of the product go up over the past few years. MoDOT used Geomelt in other parts of the state last year and this year has brought it to southwest Missouri.
    “When you blend it with your salt, number one, it reduces the corrosivity of your salt by 53 percent,” Kauzlarich said. “And the other thing it does is it brings the freeze point down.”
    The effectiveness of salt drops with the temperature, but add a little sugar beet juice and it should keep working when the temperature drops to zero degrees.
    Kauzlarich added that the product can reduce the amount of salt needed by 15 to 20 percent.
    The beet juice solution is a little more expensive than the calcium chloride the department has used in the past, but long term they hope it will pay off. It takes 12 gallons of calcium chloride to treat a ton of salt, and it takes 5 or 6 gallons of the Geomelt 55 for the same amount. Since the solution reduces the corrosive power of the salt, MoDOT officials hope it will help preserve heavily treated bridges and roadways.
    “This is our first year to do it and it’s doing good,” Marble said.
    Drivers spreading the salt mix have reported back that the brownish color helps them see what parts of the road they have already covered.
    “You don’t have to double back quite as much,” she said. “You save some time and some product, too.”
    Wolf escapes from wildlife refuge, returns a couple hours later
    IPSWICH, Mass.  — A female wolf jumped the fence at Wolf Hollow refuge in Ipswich about 8 p.m. Monday by climbing up a snowdrift that had piled up against the wolf pen fence.
    Ipswich Police and animal control officer Matt Antczak searched for the wolf, but she returned home at 10:50 p.m. before she could be captured.
    Page 2 of 4 - “Judging from her tracks, she was very confused and frightened,” Antczak said.
    Although a wolf on the loose can be very intimidating, Antczak said humans have little to fear from a healthy wolf.
    “There has never been a documented case of a healthy wolf attacking a human,” Antczak said.
    Workers at Wolf Hollow have since removed the snowdrift, eliminating the escape route.
    Wolf Hollow is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educating the public about wolves and protecting them.
    The organization’s Web site lists five wolves now at the center.
    Ear implants help correct dogs' droopy ears
    OAK GROVE, Mo. — Ear implants for dogs?
    Believe it.
    Gregg Miller does. He invented them.
    Miller, an inventor who works out of his basement at his home in Oak Grove, calls the implants “revolutionary.”
    “In all of animalkind, no one has ever been successful in coming out with an ear implant that works,” Miller says.
    They’re called PermaStay Ear Implants, used for canines with broken ears. Consumer demand from dog owners drove Miller to the invention.
    Miller’s previous invention, plastic testicles for animals that have been neutered – aptly named “Neuticles” – led him to invent the implants.
    Some of the owners who gave their dogs fake testicles asked Miller about ear implants.
    “You talk to all the pet owners,” Miller says. “They called up and said ‘how come you don’t make implants for dogs with broken ears?’ I’ve heard that a thousand times.”
    So five years ago, Miller began been working on the invention.
    About the implant
    The implant measures 3 inches by 4 inches. It’s paper thin and ultra light.
    The majority of the implant is made of medically approved micro thin surgical mesh. In the center is a vertical strand of “fluroplastic” acting as a spine that lends support for the ear.
    An overlay of surgical mesh is welded over the plastic spine that allows tissue growth of the dog’s ear to actually grow within the mesh. This happens within 10 days of implantation.
    Every aspect of the device has a purpose after years of refinement and experimentation.
    Miller first made the entire implant out of fluroplastic. A veterinarian inserted the device in two dogs. But the rejection rate was more than 60 percent. Miller went back to the drawing board.
    “Everything would go fine at first, five or six weeks,” Miller says. “After that, these hideous infections would develop. The ear would swell up and blood and puss would spurt out. It was horrible.”
    Dog ears, Miller says, are sensitive. “There’s so many little veins. The tissue is ultra thin. It’s so subject to trauma.”
    Page 3 of 4 - Infections emerge if a foreign object is placed in the ear.
    A second clinical trial had the device made of silicon sheeting. It was softer, Miller thought, and would create less trauma and, thus, less infection.
    Four dogs got the silicon implants. Two dogs developed no infections, but two dogs did. A 50 percent success rate would not cut it.
    The dogs used for the testing did not die in the process, Miller said. But he was causing infections. It was killing him knowing he was creating a device that was hurting animals.
    “God, I tried everything,” Miller says. “But I knew if I gave up, then I knew I would fail.”
    Then he had an epiphany. The words that ran through his brain were “surgical mesh.” The mesh prevented infections in the ears.
    He developed a prototype and sold it to a German dog owner who had been inquiring about getting his shepherd’s injured ear implanted. Miller made $500. The German man had the prototype implanted. It worked.
    The device is patent pending.
    “Once you put it in, the ear will automatically stand up,” Miller says. “The dog doesn’t even know it’s there, it’s so humane.”
    How popular?
    The implants' popularity is yet to be determined, of course, especially in a recession.
    The device is $400. The surgery cost is from $300 to $600.
    Five years in the making and countless hours of time in research and development racked up a $30,000 price tag.
    “Let’s face it, this is definitely a luxury item.”
    Most of the ones he’s sold so far are to wealthy pet owners. When you’re showing a dog, Miller says, “that’s petty cash.”
    But it’s not just limited to wealthy owners or show dog owners. Any dog owner can help their dog’s lame ear with the device, Miller says.
    Miller hired three manufacturers to make the implant, which takes four production stages. One company does the cutting of the surgical mesh from a molding, another works on inserting the floral fluroplastic spine into the mesh, and the final company sterilizes the device.
    It usually takes 30 days to make a batch of the implants. He initially made 25.
    Development of an inventor
    Miller, a former newspaper editor and reporter, became a consumer products inventor after running a successful advertising business. He’s been an inventor since 1981.
    Noteable inventions include Sweet Tube, a long plastic tube that squeezes out jelly candy, and Neuticles, hard plastic testicular implants for pets.
    He created Neuticals about 15 years ago.  He hopes the ear implants garner “mass appeal” and in a way Neuticals hasn’t.
    So far, 39 dogs have gotten the ear implants.
    Page 4 of 4 - “I’ve dribbled them out saleswise and they’re all doing just fine.”
    The ear implants and plastic testicles have Miller taking his inventions into the realm of animal implantation.
    “The direction I’m taking now is that I want to create whatever implantable device there is for pets,” he says. “Then everybody will know my company is the implant company, the eyes, the ears, the testicles, and God knows whatever else.”
    Dr. Mark Sharp, a veterinarian in Greenwood, Ark., helped Miller research and refine the implant. Sharp hasn’t implanted in any dog Miller’s on-the-market device yet.
    “I think his product works,” Sharp says.
    The device is only for dogs that have had their ears cropped. About 20 percent of cropped ears experience drooping. Sometimes cartilage does not harden after cropping, leading to a break in the ear. This happens after the dogs undergoes ear cropping when its a puppy.
     
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