Pine Cones, Pineapples or Corn?

Are the little decorations that top the pillars around the State House dome truly acorns or pine cones, like everyone thought?

Or, are they corn? Or maybe even pineapples?

When the doodads were stripped to be cleaned, repaired and trimmed in gold leaf, carpenters had to ask the questions because, up close, they sure don't look like acorns.

Corn seemed to be the consensus, although it didn't make a lot of sense to put the top half of an ear of corn on the Massachusetts State House. Pineapples came in as the second choice among Representatives who viewed pictures of the nobby little decorations.

Maybe we'll never know.

On other subjects...

During the first week of the 1997 bear season, hunters killed 74 bears--four of them in Hampden County. The biggest was a 290 pound male, shot in Worthington. Naturalists estimate that some 1,500 bear wander our forests and fields of Western Massachusetts. Next week is the second week of the 1997 season.

Our senior citizens have until December 31st to enroll in the Massachusetts Senior Pharmacy program, which provides eligible elders with up to $500 per year for prescription drugs. If you haven't signed up, call 1-800-953-3305 for eligibility and application information.

Do you pay too much in taxes? The Mass Taxpayers Foundation reports that we have among the highest income and corporate taxes in the country, but among the lowest in sales and excise taxes.

Measured per capita, Bay Staters pay the sixth highest taxes in America. But, when measured as a percentage of average person income, there are 25 states with higher tax burdens. Property taxes rank tenth highest per capita, but nineteenth when measured against personal income.

The Legislature is scheduled to vote next year on an income tax cut for you--from 5.9 percent to 5 percent.

If you want the lowest taxes in the country, move to Wyoming. You won't have many neighbors--there are only 476,000 people there--but taxes are virtually nonexistent.

According to the University of California at Berkeley's Wellness Letter, Boston has the highest percentage of any city in the country of commuters who always walk to work (14 percent). If you drive in Boston during high traffic times, you know why that many walk!

This will make some people mad, but don't kill the messenger. House Speaker Tom Finneran says "overly aggressive and pushy parents" who demand special education are driving up local school budgets. Next year, he said, changes in the state's special education law will be a top priority. Finally, he said, "The days of riding in the gilded Cadillac at the expense of regular education are over. We have to move away from Massachusetts' special education standard, which is the highest in the nation."

In dollars and cents, state and local school systems last year spent $1.1-billion to serve 160,000 special ed students--those with learning disabilities or mental or physical handicaps.

President Clinton has proposed lowering the drunken driving ceiling to a blood alcohol level of .08 percent by 2000, or lose federal highway money. Massachusetts already uses the .08 standard. At that level, a

170 pound man would be considered legally drunk after consuming four drinks in one hour, and a 137 pound woman would reach the mark after three in an hour.

Last year, 17,100 people died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents nationwide.

Want to talk? I'll be at the Westfield Boys and Girls Club this coming Thursday, November 20th, from 10 a.m. to noon. Everyone is welcome to stop by to discuss your concerns or interests.

Or tell me how to use the old fashioned turkey roaster that you plug in (do you leave the vent open or closed?) or give me advice on wrinkle free, smooth gravy (mine has to either be put in a blender or run through a strainer to remove the clumps and lumps).

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014