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Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last | News Columns

Just outside West Terre Haute on Tuesday morning, a young woman walked toward Terre Haute along U.S. 150 as cars and trucks sped past her.



Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last

Tribune-Star/Mark BennettProgress underway: Ben Leege stands beside the substructure of a new pedestrian walkway adjacent to the south side of U.S. 150 between West Terre Haute and Terre Haute. Leege is the Indiana Department of Transportation’s project engineer on the effort.


She walked just a few feet from traffic. That’s because there’s almost no shoulder area between the edge of the highway and the steel roadside barriers. “The Grade,” the 1.1-mile stretch of roadway between the two towns, is risky for the numerous people who walk or bicycle to their destinations.

At that same moment Tuesday, construction continued on a remedy to the longtime hazard.

It’s a success story, a community-wide effort that will provide safety, as well as an economic boost and recreational opportunities.

Anyone who’s driven between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute since late August has undoubtedly noticed the early-stage progress on a new pedestrian walkway, adjacent to the south side of the U.S. 150 pavement.

Once it’s finished in October 2021, that young woman and other pedestrians or bike riders will be able to trek to and from West T and the Haute without feeling the air gusts of SUVs and pickups that motor by at an average rate of 16,000 vehicles a day, according to 2018 figures from the West Central Indiana Economic Development District.

This solution to that decades-old problem alone validates the project’s $6.2-million cost.

The walkway opens up other benefits, too.



Mark Bennett: A path of safety, adventure and recreation underway, at last

Tribune-Star/Mark BennettScenic: A new pedestrian walkway on the south side of U.S. 150 between West Terre Haute and Terre Haute will offer its users a clear view of the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area, shown here.


It unlocks a virtual dead-end to the popular National Road Heritage Trail, which winds for 30 miles through eastern and central Vigo County and across the Wabash River before reaching the no-room-to-safely-walk-or-bike segment of U.S. 150. Thanks to the walkway, the Heritage Trail system could someday connect Vigo County’s four college campuses. Heritage Trail also can now extend to Illinois and link with burgeoning trail systems in Vermillion, Parke and Sullivan counties.

And, the walkway makes the Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area and its Wabashiki Trail more accessible. The new pedestrian bridge will run alongside the 2,700-acre wetlands, which was set aside by the state of Indiana in 2010. The numbers of hunters, anglers, bird-watchers, hikers, runners and picnickers using Wabashiki’s amenities will grow.

Terre Haute and West Terre Haute could become a destination for groups of cyclists, runners and outdoors enthusiasts, just like other Midwestern towns that anchor long-running trail systems.

Constructing the walkway on the slope between the highway and wetlands requires some architectural finesse.

Three-hundred steel pilings are being driven 30 to 60 feet deep into the soil to support the walkway, explained Ben Leege, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s project engineer. Those 12-inch-diameter pilings are then

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The Trump travel ban on Muslim-majority countries may be associated with preterm births among women, study says

The 2017 travel ban imposed by the Trump administration on seven Muslim-majority countries may be associated with an increase in preterm births among women from those countries residing in the United States, according to a new study.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.


© Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Researchers found an increase in preterm birth rates among women from countries on the 2017 travel ban.

The study, published last week in the journal Social Science and Medicine, analyzed preterm birth rates among women from countries impacted by the travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Researchers found an increase after the ban, with a preterm birth rate of 8.6% between February and September 2017. That percentage rose from 8.5% before the ban, between January 2009 and December 2016.

By comparison, US-born, non-Hispanic White women held a steady 8.6% preterm birth rate throughout the time frames.

The 0.1 percentage point increase may not seem dramatic, but it means that the odds of women from these countries having preterm births increased by 6.8%, according to lead author Goleen Samari, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“It’s a massive change when you think about a 6.8% increase,” Samurai told CNN. And because these women typically have better birth outcomes than non-Hispanic White women, Samari says, going from better to worse is significant.

Stress could be reason behind preterm births

To calculate the change, the team used a time series model to estimate the expected preterm birth numbers had the ban not been issued. They used data beginning in 2009 to see what the expected number of preterm births among women from the banned countries would be in 2017 and 2018, after the ban went into place. The team then compared the expected amount of preterm births to the actual amount, showing the elevated trend.

The researchers could not say why the policy led to a rise in preterm births. However, Samurai says that the researchers hypothesized that it was due to stress — either the initial acute stressful shock of the first order or chronic stress exposure as the ban continued to change and make headlines for its court filings or protests.

Another reason could be a decline of quality care, as some women may have avoided prenatal care because they may have felt like they were in a discriminatory environment, Samari says.

Researchers also noted some limitations in their analysis, notably that they did not use individual-level information in their analysis, like maternal facts, political ideology or gestational risk factors that may have contributed to preterm births.

The study stands out for its focus on women from the Middle East and North Africa, who tend to be overlooked as they are classified as non-Hispanic White in data, the researchers say. They add that no study had focused on the impact of a policy that is considered xenophobic and Islamophobic.

Preterm births and poor birth outcomes are “sensitive markers of temporally acute stressors from social and economic threats to

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Mayor Stothert names new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has named a new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property.



a screen shot of a man: Matt Kalcevich


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Matt Kalcevich

Matt Kalcevich comes to Omaha from Des Moines, where he worked as recreation manager. Kalcevich has worked in that field for more than a decade.


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Stothert’s office said Kalcevich graduated from Nothern Arizona University in 2001 and obtained a Master’s degree in recreation management from Arizona State University.

Kalcevich is set to start his new position in Omaha on Dec. 14. According to a news release from Stothert’s office, Kalcevich’s salary will be $162,318.

Kalcevich takes over for Brook Bench, who took a job in public property development.

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READ THE FULL STORY:Mayor Stothert names new Director of Parks, Recreation and Public Property

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California’s stay-at-home order allows essential travel only. What does that mean?



a body of water next to the rock: Big Sur is among the California tourism destinations that may be affected by Gov. Gavin Newsom's tightening of travel restrictions. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)


© (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Big Sur is among the California tourism destinations that may be affected by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s tightening of travel restrictions. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Stop traveling, the governor says.

With the “regional stay-at-home” order issued Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is imploring Californians to stay home for the next three weeks and cinching already tight restrictions in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals under the heaviest pressure.

Outlining the new restrictions, which include new capacity limits for retailers and other changes, state officials said hotels and other lodgings will be allowedto open for critical infrastructure support only.” But in the immediate aftermath of the governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, details of the new travel restrictions remained unclear.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said the state is effectively telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, he added.

“The message of the day is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said.

However, he and Newsom also stressed that parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.

The new regional stay-at-home order, which officials said goes into effect within 48 hours of the announcement, applies in California regions where ICU availability is less than 15%. Among other things, the new order “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” It is to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The order’s regional grouping categorizes Los Angeles County within an 11-county area that also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The 11 Southern California counties and 12 counties in the Central Valley could be required to implement the new restrictions on Friday, based on current projections of the rising number of patients who have been admitted to intensive care units.

VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website, puts the new rules in blunt terms: The state, it says, has “banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning Dec. 4.”

In a widely circulated letter to industry professionals, Visit California President and Chief Executive Caroline Beteta wrote that in the 23 counties immediately affected, “hotels can remain open, although the order announced today bans non-essential travel statewide.”

She also noted that ski resorts can stay open (but must close their food and beverage services) and that campgrounds must close, along with wineries, breweries, museums, zoos, family entertainment centers and aquariums.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesman Tim LeRoy confirmed the information about ski operations. California State Parks did not respond to questions about how the governor’s order would affect its campgrounds. As of Wednesday, 83 state campgrounds were at least partly open.

Other details of the state’s plan for enforcing the

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The 2017 travel ban may be associated with preterm births among women from the targeted countries, study says

The study, published last week in the journal Social Science and Medicine, analyzed preterm birth rates among women from countries impacted by the travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Researchers found an increase after the ban, with a preterm birth rate of 8.6% between February and September 2017. That percentage rose from 8.5% before the ban, between January 2009 and December 2016.

By comparison, US-born, non-Hispanic White women held a steady 8.6% preterm birth rate throughout the time frames.

The 0.1 percentage point increase may not seem dramatic, but it means that the odds of women from these countries having preterm births increased by 6.8%, according to lead author Goleen Samari, an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

“It’s a massive change when you think about a 6.8% increase,” Samurai told CNN. And because these women typically have better birth outcomes than non-Hispanic White women, Samari says, going from better to worse is significant.

Stress could be reason behind preterm births

To calculate the change, the team used a time series model to estimate the expected preterm birth numbers had the ban not been issued. They used data beginning in 2009 to see what the expected number of preterm births among women from the banned countries would be in 2017 and 2018, after the ban went into place. The team then compared the expected amount of preterm births to the actual amount, showing the elevated trend.

The researchers could not say why the policy led to a rise in preterm births. However, Samurai says that the researchers hypothesized that it was due to stress — either the initial acute stressful shock of the first order or chronic stress exposure as the ban continued to change and make headlines for its court filings or protests.

States are calling racism a public health crisis. Here's what that means

Another reason could be a decline of quality care, as some women may have avoided prenatal care because they may have felt like they were in a discriminatory environment, Samari says.

Researchers also noted some limitations in their analysis, notably that they did not use individual-level information in their analysis, like maternal facts, political ideology or gestational risk factors that may have contributed to preterm births.

The study stands out for its focus on women from the Middle East and North Africa, who tend to be overlooked as they are classified as non-Hispanic White in data, the researchers say. They add that no study had focused on the impact of a policy that is considered xenophobic and Islamophobic.

Preterm births and poor birth outcomes are “sensitive markers of temporally acute stressors from social and economic threats to war, hate crimes, and socioplitical threats,” the researchers wrote in their analysis.

Other studies have pointed to similar findings. After September 11, women with Arabic names were 34% more likely to have a low birthweight infant than before the attacks, according to a 2006 study. Another study, published in 2018, found the passage of a restrictive immigration law in Arizona
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California’s new COVID order: Leisure travelers must stay home

Stop traveling, the governor says.

With the “regional stay-at-home” order issued Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom is imploring Californians to stay home for the next three weeks and cinching already tight restrictions in areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has hospitals under the heaviest pressure.

Outlining the new restrictions, which include new capacity limits for retailers and other changes, state officials said hotels and other lodgings will be allowedto open for critical infrastructure support only.” But in the immediate aftermath of the governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, details of the new travel restrictions remained unclear.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Service, said the state is effectively telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, he added.

“The message of the day is, as much as you can, be at home,” Ghaly said.

However, he and Newsom also stressed that parks and beaches would remain open and that Californians could boost their mental health by hiking, running, fishing, practicing yoga, skiing, snowboarding and otherwise savoring outdoor activities.

The new regional stay-at-home order, which officials said goes into effect within 48 hours of the announcement, applies in California regions where ICU availability is less than 15%. Among other things, the new order “prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing in all others.” It is to remain in effect for at least three weeks.

The order’s regional grouping categorizes Los Angeles County within an 11-county area that also includes Imperial, Inyo, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The 11 Southern California counties and 12 counties in the Central Valley could be required to implement the new restrictions on Friday, based on current projections of the rising number of patients who have been admitted to intensive care units.

VisitCalifornia.com, the state’s tourism website, puts the new rules in blunt terms: The state, it says, has “banned non-essential travel in most of the state beginning Dec. 4.”

In a widely circulated letter to industry professionals, Visit California President and Chief Executive Caroline Beteta wrote that in the 23 counties immediately affected, “hotels can remain open, although the order announced today bans non-essential travel statewide.”

She also noted that ski resorts can stay open (but must close their food and beverage services) and that campgrounds must close, along with wineries, breweries, museums, zoos, family entertainment centers and aquariums.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area spokesman Tim LeRoy confirmed the information about ski operations. California State Parks did not respond to questions about how the governor’s order would affect its campgrounds. As of Wednesday, 83 state campgrounds were at least partly open.

Other details of the state’s plan for enforcing the tighter limits remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

In a web Q&A explaining the new travel guidelines, state officials said: “Stay in your county if you can. Don’t drive more than 2-3 hours.”

“You can

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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag





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The plan for a new aquatics and recreation center in Great Falls has hit a snag

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Need to cancel your holiday travel plans amid COVID? Here’s the latest on changes and refunds

With California’s pandemic policies tightening, COVID-19 cases escalating and vaccines unlikely to reach most people until spring or later, many families are rethinking their holiday travel plans. “It’s time to cancel everything,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a news conference Wednesday night.



a group of people standing next to a sign: A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)


© (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A flight crew member at LAX on Nov. 23, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel period. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of health and human services, said Thursday the state is, in effect, telling, not asking, Californians to stop all nonessential travel. That includes canceling holiday travel plans, Ghaly said. The new requirements, to take effect Friday, were in response to stress on critical care services and hospital intensive care units. Details on how the state would enforce such a broad restriction remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

Here’s a quick look at how airlines, lodgings and other travel suppliers are handling reservation changes and cancellations.

Airlines

In late August and early September, several airlines dropped their ticket change fees at least through the end of this year. Among them: Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian and United.

Southwest Airlines, which has had the most flexible major airline ticket policy for years, continues to allow passengers to rebook their flights for travel up to one year from the original purchase date.

It’s easier to get a credit or vouchers for future travel than it is to get your money back. As millions of travelers learned in the first months of the pandemic, many airlines refused to issue refunds unless they had canceled or significantly delayed a flight themselves. And even then, many did their best to nudge customers toward accepting travel credit rather than cash.

But as the Federal Trade Commission noted, airlines are required to offer refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights, even if the cause is beyond their control. If your airline resists, report it to the U.S. Department of Transportation — but be warned that the DOT can take months to process complaints and the process is far from a sure thing.

Trains

Amtrak has waived change fees for tickets bought by Dec. 31. You may be eligible for a credit voucher or a refund, depending on the type of ticket you bought.

The cheapest Saver Fares give refunds only within 24 hours of booking; these tickets can’t be changed, either. Value Fares offer a refund or voucher if you cancel within 15 days of your departure. Canceling closer to your departure date may cost you 25% of the ticket price.

Flexible, Business and Premium fares will give you a full refund or voucher with no fees as long as you cancel in advance. If you don’t show up without canceling, you forfeit your ticket.

Buses

Greyhound is allowing bus riders to postpone their travel plans through Jan. 31. Requests for a credit voucher must be made at least a day before you are scheduled to leave. (This doesn’t apply to cash or

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‘I Still Kick Myself in the A** for This Every Day’

Before becoming one of the highest-paid actors on TV  thanks to The Big Bang Theory, Johnny Galecki played Rusty Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Chevy Chase in a scene from 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'
Chevy Chase in a scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

While filming the popular holiday movie the then-14-year-old actor convinced the director not to include a heart-to-heart moment between Rusty and his dad, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase). Now 45, Galecki says he’s regretted it ever since. 

Johnny Galecki didn’t have much prior movie experience

In 2014, Galecki got together with some of his fellow Christmas Vacation stars to discuss the movie with Rolling Stone. Recounting his audition process, the actor said even if he hadn’t been cast as Rusty he would’ve been happy just getting to audition with Chase. 

Auditioning for “industrial films and regional theater” at the time, Galecki sent in an audition tape. Soon he was being flown out to Los Angeles, California, to meet with Chase and Christmas Vacation director Jeremiah S. Chechik. 

RELATED: Is ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ on Netflix?

“I read with Chevy and Jeremiah — and that alone would have been enough for me,” he said. “I could have been given my walking papers and sent home on the next flight and it still would have been a dream come true.” 

Galecki didn’t have to wait long to find out if he’d been cast in the movie because as he recalled, “Chevy told me right there in the room that I had gotten the role.” 

He rounded out the cast for the immediate Griswold family along with Beverly D’Angelo as Ellen Griswold and Juliette Lewis as Rusty’s sister, Audrey Griswold. 

The actor didn’t see ‘any point’ in a ‘man-to-man scene’ in ‘Christmas Vacation’

There’d already been two National Lampoon’s movies about the Griswold family before Christmas Vacation. In each one there’d been a touching moment between Clark and his son. John Hughes, who wrote the screenplay for Christmas Vacation, didn’t have one in the script for the holiday movie.

Initially, he’d included a father-son moment but he got rid of it. Asked for his thoughts on including the scene, Galecki said it should stay out of the movie. 

“One day John Hughes, Jeremiah, Chevy and I were sitting around waiting for a scene to be set up, and Chevy said, ‘There’s always been kind of a man-to-man scene between Clark and Russ in the previous films — a coming-of-age scene. But there isn’t in this one,’” Galecki remembered.

RELATED: ‘Christmas Vacation’: Why Christie Brinkley Refused to Return for the Movie

“John mentioned that he had something like that in an initial draft, and Chevy said, ‘We should consider putting that back in,’” he added.

“So they asked what I thought and I said, ‘I don’t think there’s any point. Somebody thought it was worth taking out at some point, so even if we shoot it, it’ll probably get taken out again,’” Galecki recalled. 

So Christmas Vacation went on without it. Now

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Away Mini Gift Set Gift Pick

If you’re anything like us, you’re obsessive about finding the perfect gift. A Scouted Gift Pick is our stamp of approval for certified winners in the gifting department. You may not even need to get a gift receipt.

WHAT IT IS:

Away Mini Gift Sets: Away, purveyor of the high-tech luggage you’ve seen at airports and on trains for the last few years, has the perfect miniature holiday gift. The limited-edition Away Mini Gift Sets feature a travel case full of different goodies, depending on your giftee. Choose the Bliss Set for someone that needs some calm in their life, packed with hand sanitizer, a foot soak, and fancy creams. The Adventure Set comes with all the items you need to keep your skin safe while outdoors. Finally, the Boost Set comes with energizing facial sprays, sheet masks, and biodegradable glitter for some festive fun. There’s also the Travel Wellness Kit, which includes face masks, hand sanitizer, and more.

WHO TO GIFT IT TO:

Your travel-hungry friend that cannot wait to get back to satiating their wanderlust. Your best friend that needs some skin care in their life, but just doesn’t know it yet. Yourself, because these travel-sized cases are perfect for storing your goods on the go.

Scouted selects products independently and prices reflect what was available at the time of publish. Sign up for our newsletter for more recommendations and check out our coupon site for more deals. If you buy something from our posts, we may earn a small commission.

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