Local & Regional Briefs for Monday, August 25, 2014

Vermont Official Cautions About Political Signs

Montpelier — Vermont officials are issuing their biennial reminder cautioning political campaigns about not posting signs in state highway rights-of-way.

Transportation Secretary Brian Searles says Vermont law bans signs within about 50 feet of the road’s center line that aren’t connected to an adjacent business.

He says many candidates and their supporters, often unknowingly, post campaign signs within the restricted areas. Searles says district transportation crews will be removing such signs wherever they’re spotted.

UNH Working to Breed Better Strawberries

Durham, n.h. — Scientists at the University of New Hampshire are helping to breed better strawberries using genetics.

Using a special tool called an “array,” researchers at the school’s New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station use the DNA of strawberries to select plants with potentially superior combinations of the genes that influence traits such as disease resistance and taste.

The array allows breeders to look at 90,000 different DNA features known as molecular markers.

The researchers say the strawberry is among the most genetically complex plants, with eight sets of chromosomes. In comparison, humans have two sets of chromosomes — one set inherited from each parent. So it’s taken scientists longer to develop DNA analysis tools for strawberries than other crops.

Vt. Student Assistance Group To Help With Books

Winooski, Vt. — Vermont Student Assistance Corp. has announced a new $50,000 program to help low-income high school students cover the costs of books, fees and travel associated with dual enrollment courses.

Dual enrollment allows some students to take two college classes while still in high school, reducing the costs of college. Last year, more than 1,600 Vermont students took the classes on college campuses, online or on-site at a participating high school. The new incentive allows low-income students up to $150 in assistance for books, fees and travel to and from the classes.

Officials to Hold Hearing On Hike Safe Card in N.H.

Concord — New Hampshire Fish and Game officials Department will hold a public hearing on proposed rules to establish a hike safe card that would forgive hikers for rescue expenses they might face if they’re negligent.

The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fish and Game headquarters on Hazen Drive in Concord.

The program would become effective on Jan. 1, 2015. The legislature approved the cards in June.

Proceeds from sale of the cards would help offset the cost of rescues, which range from $200 to over $50,000.

The cards would cost $25 per person and $35 for a family. Their purchase would be voluntary, not mandatory.

State law holds those rescued liable if they acted negligently, but efforts to collect are not always successful.

— Wire reports