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Paul Rolly: Snakes trigger venom in Cottonwood Heights
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Residents in the Hollow Ridge neighborhood of Cottonwood Heights are joking they have been inundated with two kinds of pests recently.

First, they learned one of their neighbors keeps 29 boa constrictors in his house, then, when word got out, their block was swarming with television news crews. Even USA Today has weighed in on the controversy.

The neighbors also joke their Hollow Ridge area should be renamed Boa Ridge in honor of the newly discovered residents.

Once neighbors complained, city officials investigated the home of Thomas Cobb, a boa collector and trader who keeps the snakes in cages in a room he has constructed specially for the snakes. Officials realized they don't have an ordinance to deal with this specific issue.

"When you are developing ordinances, you can't contemplate every situation that might come up," said Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kevin Cullimore.

Cobb was cited for having an exotic pet without a permit. So he went to the city and got a permit for each snake — 29 permits in all.

That had residents howling that ordinances limit the number of cats and dogs they can have in the city, but not boa constrictors.

Cullimore said city officials will create an ordinance to deal with exotic pets and the number of permits one can have.

Meanwhile, Cobb has assured the city the neighbors are safe. The snakes don't leave the temperature-controlled room, and he no longer raises rats to feed them.

Utah honors POWs, MIAs • This a busy week for those tending the flagpoles at the Utah Capitol.

While the U.S. and state flags were lowered to half-staff on Wednesday in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day, the POW/MIA flag will be raised for the first time on those poles at 6:45 a.m. Saturday.

Thanks to HB6, sponsored by Rep. John Westwood, R-Cedar City, and passed unanimously by both houses of the Legislature this year, Utah is the sixth state to honor by statute the 88,000 U.S. soldiers still missing from the various wars.

The federal statute honoring POWs and MIAs was enacted in 1998, and the POW/MIA flag has been raised at the White House and U.S. Capitol on the designated days since then.

The flag depicts the silhouette of a soldier with the words, "You are not forgotten."

Utah will raise the flag on the same days: Armed Forces Day (which is Saturday), Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

It's personal for me because Ron Lewis, a passionate veteran from New Harmony, which is in Westwood's district, tells me when he testified for the bill before Senate and House subcommittees, he quoted from the November 2010 column I wrote about my uncle whose remains were found and returned home 65 years after he went missing in action in the Philippines.

He was one of 307 Utahns missing in action from World War II honored with bricks bearing their names in Salt Lake City's Memory Grove.

prolly@sltrib.com

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