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Data Processors Skunked

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For a day or two, the foul stench permeating the administrative offices of the Las Cruces, N.M., school district's data-services department was just a joke that gave employees an excuse for taking long lunches.

After a while, though, the malodorous secretions of the skunk that had made its home under the building began to take a toll on the seven staff members, explained Jerry Cavatta, the director of data services.

The skunk had gotten under the foundation of the over 60-year-old rehabilitated farmhouse through ventilation holes, Mr. Cavatta said.

In the beginning, he recalled, "just walking on the floors would scare the skunk" and result in a fresh supply of the pungent spray. "Some days the smell wasn't real severe, but on other days we would have to find some other place to work."

Professional trappers, Agriculture Department trappers, and exterminators tried for three weeks, without success, to force the skunk's departure. Finally last week, the data-services staff was relocated to a remodeled warehouse.

"For me, a city boy," remarked Mr. Cavatta, "it was an incredible experience." That such "a little varmint" could create such a strong odor and so much upheaval is amazing, he said, adding: "In this day and age, one would think we'd know some trick for dealing with the smell."

No such luck. The skunk--now happily ensconced in his personal farmhouse--won the territorial battle hands down.--jw

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