Ocean City will be among the five towns and one county to be honored on Monday (Oct. 26) as winner of a Complete Streets Excellence Award. A newly marked lane leads bicycles through the north end of Ocean City via West Atlantic Boulevard.The New Jersey Department of Transportation will recognize 51 municipalities and two counties that have passed “Complete Streets” policies designed to balance the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit vehicles, emergency responders and commercial transport with safety as a priority.But the six will be singled out as exemplary.With the reconfiguration of West Avenue to replace two lanes of traffic with buffered bicycle lanes between 35th Street and 55th Street, the installation of a user-activated signal to help pedestrians and cyclists cross the busy Ninth Street gateway and the addition of bicycle lanes in the Gardens, Ocean City completed a safe bicycle route the length of the island in 2015.Ocean City will be recognized at an all-day summit Monday at Rutgers University that will include sessions on “Making the Case for Complete Streets,” “De-mystifying Complete Streets” and “Complete Streets in your Communities, Now and Tomorrow.”The sessions will be led by experts in engineering, planning, health, economic development, safety, and other disciplines related to Complete Streets. An Ocean City representative will be part of a panel session that will include the other award-winning towns.According to the state DOT, New Jersey is a national leader in Complete Streets policies, with the most policies of any state. The New Jersey Department of Transportation was among the first state DOTs to adopt an internal Complete Streets policy. Today, 121 municipalities and 7 counties have policies.
By Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaA University of Georgia researcher has discovered a chicken gene which, when manipulated, makes birds fatter or and thinner. However, it works only in female chickens.”The same gene exists in males, but it doesn’t do the same thing,” said Sammy Aggrey, the quantitative and molecular geneticist in the UGA poultry science department who found the growth hormone receptor gene. “Some genes work in one gender and not in another.”Identifying the growth hormone receptor gene in chickens and understanding how it works could have important implications for human research.Obesity is growing at epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 44 million Americans are now obese, an increase of 74 percent since 1991.Humans and chickens are enough alike that Aggrey’s discovery and other genetic research on chickens may lead scientists to similar findings in humans.”One of the beauties of using chickens is that the research can be done quickly,” Aggrey said. “Then biomedical researchers can use it right away in their work with humans. When we find genes in chickens that act in a certain way, we expect to find the same types of genes in humans.”Aggrey said it’s wrong, though, to call the growth hormone receptor gene a “fat gene” or a “female fat gene.””Many people think that if you pinpoint a gene like this, you can simply manipulate the gene to gain or lose weight. It’s not that simple,” Aggrey said. “Behavior and the environment, non-genetic factors like nutrition and activity level, play large roles.”How can a gene express itself in females but not in males?The reasons are complex, Aggrey said. But they boil down to this: While both sexes have most genes in common, genes located on the sex chromosome differ. Often, as in humans and chickens, one gender has a single copy of that gene and the other has a double copy of it. This causes the gene to take different actions in each sex.Aggrey is also involved in a larger obesity-related study to identify and map all the genes involved in growth and fatness in broiler chickens.For this project, he works with researchers at the universities of Delaware and Maryland and the National Institute for Agricultural Research in France. The latter is an agency much like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”It’s a huge project to identify and characterize that many genes,” he said. “Last year we discovered spot 14, which is one gene for fatness.” Spot 14 has since been shown to be connected to obesity in humans and mice.(Cat Holmes is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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Initially a concept of a pay-and-delivery-type service, the idea morphed into a farm managed by students. Organic farms are common at schools with agriculture departments, school officials said. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has a community-supported farm, but Cal Poly Pomona Organics is a business, with a percentage of proceeds going back to the university’s foundation, which funded the project. “This is not a class, and the school supports the learning by doing philosophy,” Dosier said. Support for agricultural projects has been seen at the K-12 level. The state department of education announced last month that schools that invest in gardens – floral or edible – are eligible to apply for $15 million in grants. Much of the planting and general maintenance of Cal Poly Pomona Organics is now being done by Dosier and Paul Nurre, also an agriculture student, with oversight by Dan Hostetler, professor and chair of the college’s plant sciences department. A staff of six will be hired later and the goal is to sell items at local farmers markets, and the Whole Foods Market in Tustin has made contact about selling some items, Dosier said. Nearly three acres of the farm is on Pepper Tree Ranch, where the majority of crops will be planted. Additionally, the department is planning to get certified organic nearly five acres of orange trees. For Dosier and Nurre, running the organic farm allows them to gain work experience and apply their knowledge of plant and soil sciences. They work at area farmers markets on behalf of the college’s farm store, which produces it own merchandise such as organic pasta and tortilla chips. And while the debate over whether to buy organic or stick to regular produce continues, Nurre said the “first question buyers ask at farmers markets is if an item is organic.” The team has high expectations for the farm. With support for organic produce at a premium, the organizers hope to capitalize on the organic movement. “We would like to be a farmers market every night,” Nurre said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108 POMONA – Now people can eat healthy, save the planet and nurture young minds at the same time. A student-run organic farm has sprouted on a three-acre plot on the Cal Poly Pomona campus. And by the summer, organizers say, Cal Poly Pomona Organics should be ready to supply fresh fruit and vegetables – including 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes – to local farmers markets and residents who prefer pesticide-free products. The crop will include bell peppers, sweet corn, cucumber, canteloupe and watermelon. “We went with the basics,” said Patrick Dosier, 22, an agriculture student and co-leader of the project.