January 16, 2013

New England Dispatches

From news service reports

BOSTON

Patrick says education plan aims for skilled work force

Gov. Deval Patrick is unveiling a school investment plan he says will expand and improve access to education for students from birth through high school.

Patrick says the plan, which totals $550 million in its first year and increases to nearly $1 billion annually over the next four years, will help ensure a well-skilled work force.

Patrick also opened the door for higher taxes to pay for the extra spending.

The proposal would provide universal access to early education for children from birth through age 5, fully fund K-12 education and extend school days in some high-need schools.

The plan would also make college more affordable and accessible and let community colleges expand efforts to provide students with skills training critical to finding work.

Patrick will include the plan in the budget proposal he submits to lawmakers next week.

CONCORD, N.H.

Obesity, overweight rates dip for needy tots, CDC says

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows obesity among 2- to 4-year-old children from low-income families has declined slightly in New Hampshire.

The rate has declined to 14.2 percent in 2010, down from 15.6 percent in 2003. Rates of those children considered overweight also decreased to 17.1 percent in 2010, down from 19.4 percent in 2003.

Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire's director of public health, says the declines are modest, but officials hope it's a sign that one of the state's health problems may be reversing course.

The decline could be due to reasons such as an increase in breastfeeding, which often leads to healthier weight gain for children; and a decrease in the money spent on food marketing to children.

Animal rights groups: Bill would stop whistleblowers

Animal rights groups are objecting to a New Hampshire bill that would require people who record animal cruelty against livestock to turn the unedited pictures or video into police within 24 hours.

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the bill that makes it the duty of the person recording the abuse to report it.

State Rep. Robert Haefner, a Hudson Republican and the bill's prime sponsor, said he wants to stop the abuse immediately and to prevent animal rights groups from holding onto recordings that could stop the abuse and instead use the evidence months later for their political purposes.

The Humane Society of the United States and other animal rights groups said the bill would prevent whistleblowers from exposing the mistreatment of animals.

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Lawyer specializing in DUI faces second charge in year

A Rhode Island lawyer who specializes in drunken driving cases has been charged with DUI for the second time in a year.

East Providence police said they charged 32-year-old Layne Savage with DUI, refusing an alcohol breath test and leaving the scene of an accident after she crashed into a parked car Saturday night and drove away. WJAR-TV said the accident was recorded by a surveillance camera at a nearby gas station.

The Providence-based lawyer also was charged with DUI by Barrington police last March. She is set to appear in court on the new charges Thursday.

MONTPELIER, Vt.

College says action needed to fight threats by activists

Officials with the Vermont college that was targeted by animal rights activists after it decided to slaughter two oxen is testifying before a legislative committee on what it says is the need for action to help farms or other organizations fight threats by activists.

Green Mountain College officials met with the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.

The college became the center of an uproar this fall over its decision to slaughter two retired oxen and process the animals for meat to be used in the school's dining hall.

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