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March 5, 2010

Illinois – All shook up

ElvisChicago auction-goers were all shook up last October when a clump of Elvis’ hair went up for bid. Presley may have lost the hair in 1958 when he went into the service and had a crewcut, according to the auction house. It was said to match another similar collection of his hair lost to an Army barber that sold for $115,000 in 2002. This lock sold for $15,000.

Indiana – Renewing the city

The American Institute of Architects selected neighborhoods near the south end of the Monan Trail in Indianapolis as one of 10 urban renewal projects in 2009. The area is cited as having once been lined with industrial companies and good-paying jobs, but today it’s filled with brown fields and vacant commercial and industrial buildings. Other cities receiving the group’s guidance include Cleveland, Ohio; Southeast Tennessee Valley, Tenn.; and Virginia Beach, Va.

Maryland – A new channel

Maryland residents and others across the nation can connect to Maryland through YouTube, the popular Internet video site. The state’s YouTube channel features videos on topics like environmentalism, economic development, public safety and nature tours. Since the channel’s inception in January 2009, more than 4,700 people have viewed it. Check it out at

New York – Clean buses

Public transportation in Western New York is getting a little cleaner. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) announced last fall that the area will receive 91 new, clean, energy-efficient buses over 15 months, thanks to federal funding. According to Eunice A. Lewin, chairwoman of the NFTA’s Surface Transportation Committee, their customers use buses every day to travel to doctor’s offices, get to work and school, go shopping and visit family. Now, they can do so knowing their rides are more environmentally friendly.

North Carolina – Gloves for firefighting

Firefighters might soon get a new set of gloves. While current models keep firefighters’ hands protected from extreme heat, they’re often bulky, and they can make maneuvering difficult. A team of researchers at North Carolina State University is working with firefighters to address their needs and develop “PyroHands,” gloves that are flexible and safe to wear in firefighting. Here's a video.

Ohio – Recording economic history

As the economy continues to cycle, Ohio is capturing the stories of The Great Depression from those who lived it. Last spring, the Ohio Department of Aging solicited the stories from Ohioans, and more than 300 people from 54 counties submitted their tales. The oldest subject was 103, and the youngest was 64. The department released four installments of the Great Depression Story Project on their Web site,

Pennsylvania – Visiting Pa. online

Pennsylvania is one of the first to partner with Google Maps™ and others in an unprecedented tourist promotion. Eventually, Web users will be able to virtually tour historic events and places in Pennsylvania, such as seeing a panoramic view along a trail, zooming in to read the inscription on a Civil War monument or going back in time to witness the change of seasons on a historic battlefield. New technology developed through a partnership among Google, Carnegie Mellon University and NASA’s Ames Research Center combines thousands of digital images to create panoramic images that, when merged with time-lapse, let people explore the space through time.

Tennessee – Making highways safer

Last fall, 244 organizations received $17.8 million in grants to help make highways safer. The money will go to programs that address a range of highway safety issues, like high visibility law enforcement, rapid response to rural accidents and education and enforcement for underage drinking and DUIs. See the full list of programs that received funding.

Virginia – Best place to live

U.S. News and World Report recently named Virginia Beach, Va., one of the best places to live. The report noted low crime, abundant parks, playgrounds and open spaces as some of the best features of the city. The report also listed Virginia Beach as Editorial Pick for the Greenest Place to Retire, saying the city boasts the most playgrounds of any city in the country, which could come in handy for outings with visiting grandchildren.

Washington, D.C. – Perhaps a ferry?

FerryA recent study examined the potential for a ferry service on the Potomac River to help commuters get into and out of D.C. Three potential ferry routes were studied: one from Woodbridge to the Anacostia Waterfront in Washington, one from Marshall Hall, Md., to the waterfront and the last from Marshall Hall to Fort Belvoir. But the cost is high, at $30 million, to establish the service and operating costs reaching $4 million per year. However, if the project is approved, it could be implemented in as soon as three years.

West Virginia – Actress brings program home

Actress Jennifer Garner hopes to bring the “Save the Children” program to her home state of West Virginia. The program partners with local schools and families in rural and impoverished areas to help get young children ready for school and then continues to work with the children through literacy, physical fitness and nutrition through sixth grade. Garner has been an ambassador for “Save the Children” for the past year and a half and has helped request federal funding for the program. “Save the Children” currently operates in 12 states and more than 50 countries.

Wisconsin – Sensational '60s

The small town of Iola will be flooded with antique car collectors July 8–11, 2010, for the Iola Old Car Show. This year’s theme, “Sensational Sixties,” calls for classic cars popular during the heated times of the 1960s, when the Baby Boomers were learning to drive and buying their first cars. In 2009, the show attracted 120,000 people for the four day event. For more info, go to


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