From the top of the pile

If I tell you this, I can clear off eight inches of mail. So...

Our state's Food and Agriculture Department is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its agricultural preservation program, allowing farmers continued use of their land, in exchange for a payment from the state and a promise to keep the land open space. Read "undeveloped." In Westfield, we have five areas, totaling 800 acres, being preserved. The cost to the state has been $742,500.

An in-like skater is considered to be a pedestrian under state law. In many other states, they're treated as vehicles. As pedestrians, they have to yield to motor vehicles in the street unless they're using marked crosswalks or traffic control signals, use right half of sidewalks, and skate on left shoulder of a highway (facing traffic).

Not all gravel is good gravel, when it comes to roads. Good gravel is hard enough that it doesn't form dust, but loose enough to drain. But, if you're on a bad, dusty gravel road, don't apply used motor oil--it's toxic and can enter groundwater.

Massachusetts has the second lowest rate of child fatalities in the country. Nonintentional deaths dropped 53 percent over 10 years, primarily because of a decrease in motor vehicle related fatalities. Unfortunately, intentional injury fatalities increased. Overall, we still had a ten year decline, from 23.1 per 100,000 to 14.3 per 100,000. That still means that 14 of every 100,000 children in this state will die each year, mainly due to homicide, fire, burns, and pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents. White children are more likely to die from motor vehicle accidents. Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be murdered. Males outnumber females.

A new study shows that more than half of seriously injured trauma patients are abusers of drugs or alcohol.

It costs the MBTA $95 an hour to operate its buses, compared to $30 to $40 for private routes in Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia.

A survey of nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts shows that 52 percent of their total income flows from state contracts. Another 17 percent comes from other public funding, such as Medicaid. An overwhelming majority of nonprofits receive more than 80 percent of their funding from state and federal sources.

According to a survey conducted by Associated Industries of Massachusetts, quality of medical care is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a health plan. Other reasons include choice of hospitals and doctors.

One pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, provides subsidized and free prescription drugs to migrants, homeless, and others without insurance who live below the poverty line. In Westfield, they provided 68 prescriptions to 53 people, worth a total of $13,652, in the first six months of this year. During the entire twelve months of last year, they provided $16,338 worth--79 prescriptions for 48 people.

If you work at MassMutual, and you're female, you must be happy. MassMutual was named one of the 100 best companies in the country for working mothers. It's the fifth time the company has earned the award.

The Mass Cultural Council didn't give Westfield organizations any money in the latest go around. Because no one applied. If you're interested, the folks from MCC are coming to town to explain how to qualify. Call me. It's "free money."

If you're going to get poisoned it will probably happen at home. Some 85 percent occur in your own residence. Other areas include other people's homes, followed by work, school, public places, health care facilities. Last year, 41,712 poisons were involved in calls taken by the state's poison control line. Top pharmaceutical offenders were acetaminophen, topical preparations, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, benzodiazepines, vitamins, cough and cold preparations. Narcotics came in eleventh. Guess you don't call poison control when you overdose. Top non-pharmaceuticals were plants, cosmetics and cologne, hydrocarbons, soaps and detergents, chemicals, inks and paint and dyes, and food.

Attention teachers. Rule of 90 public, legislative hearing in Springfield next week. Be there.

That's just from the top of the pile on my desk.

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