News In Brief

Good night. Sleep tight

You'd expect a highway construction project to have expenses for machinery, materials, and workers' pay. But Boston's $14 billion so-called "Big Dig," the most expensive public-works project in the US, is having to budget for something quite out of the ordinary. It's buying special beds, costing as much as $2,000 each, so nearby residents can sleep. The neighbors have complained about vibrations at night as crews excavate for the planned underground highway. It's hoped, the beds' heavy wooden platforms will absorb the tremors.

HEY, ANOTHER CAT UP A TREE

All firefighters - whether professional or volunteer - need training, right? But you might not expect them to be learning how to control boa constrictors, tarantulas, and other exotic pets, which is the course a brigade in Vaucluse, southern France, offered recently. Why? Because the emergency personnel there receive far more animal-on-the-loose alarms than calls to douse flames.

Oregon city is rated as best place to take up residence

It has natural beauty, roses, a highly praised public transit system, hundreds of miles of hiking and running trails, a pro basketball team, colleges and universities, the headquarters of two glamorous corporations (Nike and Intel), and ... did we mention roses? Now Portland, Ore., has another major distinction: Money magazine has rated it the best place to live in the US, calling it "San Francisco ... without the hassles and expense." In its 14th annual rankings, the publication uses such criteria as size of population, projected job growth, median single-family home price, public spending on education per pupil, and ratio of students to teachers. The rankings, by category, from Money's December issue:

Best overall Portland, Ore.

Best in the East Providence, R.I.

Best in Midwest Chicago

Best in the South Raleigh/ Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C.

Best in the West Salt Lake City

Best small city Sarasota, Fla.

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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