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and noteworthy in your neck of the woods

October 5, 2009

Illinois – Presidential pilgrimage

Ulysses S. GrantMany travelers will head to the Land of Lincoln this year to join bicentennial festivities for the 16th U.S. president. But three
other American presidents enjoy Illinois connections. The Illinois Bureau of Tourism offers a guide to historic hotspots related to Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In Eureka, discover Reagan memorabilia. In Galena, see where Grant learned he won the election. In Springfield, glimpse Lincoln’s handwritten Gettysburg address. Then stop by the Old State Capitol, where President Obama declared his candidacy. Details at

Indiana – Small town, big renown

According to the Nov./Dec. 2008 National Geographic Traveler, Columbus, Ind., is the 11th best historic destination in the world. It rubs shoulders with Dijon, France, and Stockholm, Sweden. Population 40,000, Columbus is known for its architecture and beautiful landscapes. The American Institute of Architects agrees, ranking Columbus sixth in the United States for architectural innovation and design.

Maryland – Condo covered?

A Maryland law is prompting condo dwellers to double check their insurance coverage. The law, which went into effect in June, says that if damage to common elements or units starts in a particular unit, the owner of that unit can be held responsible for up to $5,000 of a condo association’s insurance deductible. Most ERIE Condocover policies should extend to cover exposures associated this new law. Check with your Agent for details.

New York – Driving: It’s no joke

Quit Clowing Around!Students at Christian Brothers High School in Syracuse are totally serious when it comes to driving. Earlier this year, students in Lookin’ Out, ERIE’s safe teen driving program, were chosen to film a public service announcement. Their video—“Quit Clowning Around”—reminds young drivers to stay focused. The public service announcement is one facet of Lookin’ Out, sponsored by Erie Insurance. Christian Brothers was chosen from 85 high schools in 10 states for the chance to have their idea produced and distributed on television and online. To see “Quit Clowning Around,” visit

North Carolina – Christmas in a castle

The 250-room home of George and Edith Vanderbilt will soon be filled with Christmas cheer — and visitors. Ashville’s renowned Biltmore House, as the castle is called, will don dozens of Christmas trees (one 35 feet tall), hundreds of wreaths and thousands of ornaments from Nov. 6 to Jan. 2. The castle will host daytime visits
and evening candlelight tours. Find details at

Ohio – Fast train

fast trainSeveral U.S. cities could benefit from $8 billion in stimulus money dedicated to high-speed rail service. Four of them are in Ohio. Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo would be stops on a Midwest route with trains that go up to 110 mph. The Midwest route, with Chicago as its hub, is one of 10 population corridors identified for improved passenger rail.

Pennsylvania – A win-win year

It’s been a year of victories for Pittsburgh. First the Superbowl, then the Stanley Cup — then the chance to host last month’s G–20 Economic Summit. More good news: the prestigious Brookings Institution ranks Pittsburgh one of the top 100 American cities based on the strength of its local economy. The City of Champions ranked 18th, which put it in the tier of the 20 economically strongest metropolitan areas. Why? A focus on “eds” and “meds”—strong higher education and health care.

BusTennessee – Get on the bus

Tennessee lawmakers are looking to get a better run for their money. A bill headed for the governor’s office extends the use of school buses by two years, while also increasing maintenance checks to improve the safety of the vehicles. The bill, SB0023, will allow a school bus to remain in use up to 17 years, or 200,000 miles. Replacing the buses costs upwards of $100,000 per vehicle.

Virginia – Here comes the sun

Virginia is dedicating much of the green it expects in stimulus money to green initiatives. More than half of Virginia’s $70 million share of
the federal stimulus package is expected to help pursue solar and
wind power. While the state must apply for those funds from the U.S. Energy Department, the $39 million dedicated to renewable energy is expected to be divided among local governments to invest in schools, state-owned buildings, private home owners, companies and nonprofits.

Washington, D.C. – Mall makeover

The National Capital Planning Commission is drafting a plan to restore the National Mall to beautify the nation’s capital and make it more environmentally friendly. The Commission has been soliciting community feedback for the project, as well. For more information, go to

West Virginia – Younger drivers, stronger restrictions

New drivers in the state are now learning rules of the road under more controlled conditions. In July, West Virginia strengthened its graduated driver licensing law. Among changes: young drivers who opt out of driver education are required to drive for 50, rather than 30, supervised hours. Provisional license holders will have a 10 p.m. curfew instead of 11 p.m. Restrictions on passengers have also been tightened. To compare GDL laws in all ERIE states, go to

Wisconsin – Stopping the wasted

A yearlong spotlight on drinking in Wisconsin earned national recognition for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this year. More than 50 Journal Sentinel reporters spent a year preparing for the fall 2008 series, “Wasted in Wisconsin.”
The news organization earned kudos from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for “creating support for changing the culture.” It was one
of 15 NHTSA awards for exemplary achievements in promoting highway safety. See the series.


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