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This really is a turf war

Ed Ehlen, who lives in the wealthy island community of Marco Island, Fla., is trying to send his neighbors a message. To do so, he's painted part of his new, $4 million house pink, with green and purple polka dots. The garish facade is a way of protesting the community's rejection of his artificial turf lawn. Ehlen, who owns a flooring company, claims to be environmentally motivated in his choice of plastic blades. In drought-riddled southwestern Florida, he believes it's more responsible to install a lawn that doesn't require water, fertilizer, and pesticides. But officials of the Gulf Coast city contend that tests show rubber pellets embedded in the artificial turf can be dislodged by rain and floods, causing them to accumulate in storm sewers and canals, thereby endangering fish and birds. As a result, the city has refused to issue Ehlen the certificate of occupancy needed for him to move in.

Safety-minded Arizonans reach for their seat belts

Public education efforts and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Click It or Ticket" program are succeeding in getting more Americans to buckle up. Last year, the rate of seat-belt use reached 80 percent nationwide, a new milestone. And for the first time, it even surpassed 95 percent in two states, Arizona and Hawaii. Arizona not only led the nation with a 95.3 percent belt-use rate but enjoyed the biggest percentage gain (9.1) from 2003. The states with the highest and lowest percentages of safety belt use:

Highest use

1. Arizona 95.3%
2. Hawaii 95.1%
3. Washington 94.2%
4. Oregon 92.6%
5. Michigan 90.5%

Lowest use

1. Mississippi 63.2%
2. Massachusetts 63.3%
3. Arkansas 64.2%
4. South Carolina 65.7%
5. Kentucky 66.0% - US Department of Transportation


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