News In Brief

TREASURE HUNT Ok, you're in Greenfield, Mass., and it's early evening. The sidewalks on Main Street have been ripped up and the area is basically deserted except for people bent over metal detectors. What's going on here: Are they looking for a bomb? No. Some downtown sections are being repaved, and once the workers go home for the night local history buffs move in to search for artifacts in the exposed dirt. They're finding musket balls, brass buttons, and coins. This part of the state was settled in the late 1660s, and one of the coins found in Greenfield is a half-cent piece dated 1723.

HEY, LOOK WHAT WE FOUND Police in Britain have stumbled onto a new tool in fighting crime: parking spaces reserved for the handicapped. In one city alone, a government study says, 1 car in 5 discovered in such stalls illegally was used - or was suspected of being used - in committing a felony.

For a good workout, most Americans prefer walking

For the second year in a row, more Americans 7 and older spent their participatory-sports hours in 1998 engaged in exercise walking than in any other activity, a new survey by the National Sporting Goods Association found. But, using two samples totaling 35,000 house- holds, the Mount Prospect, Ill.-based trade organization found the fastest-growing participatory sports were in the so-called "extreme" category. The top five in the most popular group (with the percentage of respondents engaging in them at least twice during the year) and in the fastest-growing category (with percent change over 1997):

Most popular

Exercise walking 77.6%

Swimming 58.2%

Camping 46.5%

Exercise with equipment 46.1%

Bicycle riding 43.5%

Fastest growing

In-line skating 118.0%

Roller hockey 106.2%

Snowboarding 102.0%

Mountain biking 87.2%

Wilderness backpacking 58.9%

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