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In the news: Deval Patrick

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Nagin says post-Katrina New Orleans is looking up

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Nagin says post-Katrina New Orleans is looking up

CAMBRIDGE — New Orleans is successfully reinventing itself more than three years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin said last Friday.

“Today we are finally at the point where we are at near pre-Katrina levels,” Nagin said during an upbeat speech delivered to about 100 people gathered for the Harvard Black Law Students Association annual spring conference.

About 75 percent of the city’s residents have returned since the 2005 hurricane, and real-estate values and employment levels have grown every year since then, Nagin said.

The city also has $23 billion worth of construction projects that are designed, under contract or recently completed, he said.

“Shortly we will have the best hurricane protection system in the world,” he said.

Nagin was re-elected mayor in 2006, despite criticism of his response to the hurricane and his handling of the city’s recovery efforts.

Former Avis chairman named AARP’s first black CEO

STAMFORD, Conn. — A former Avis chairman and CEO has been named the first black CEO of AARP.

A. Barry Rand of Stamford, Conn., starts his new position April 6. He worked for 30 years at Xerox Corp., rising to vice president, before leaving in 1999 for Avis.

The 64-year-old Rand says his experience as his elderly father’s caregiver during the last eight years of his life fueled his passion for issues important to AARP, which advocates for aging Americans.

AARP, the Washington-based organization formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons, claims more than 35 million members ages 50 and older.

First 8 Mass. stimulus projects being put out for bid

Work could begin soon on $30 million worth of Massachusetts highway projects that are eligible to use federal stimulus dollars.

The eight projects are scattered from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, according to Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.

The projects focus on road resurfacing and traffic sign replacement in each of five regional districts and were put out to bid last Saturday.

Massachusetts has received $438 million for highway projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package’s official name. About $153 million will be committed to highway projects to be advertised for bid over the next 120 days.

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary James Aloisi said work on the projects will begin this spring.

Jeffrey Simon, who was tapped by Patrick to help decide which Massachusetts projects will receive stimulus funds, said the federal dollars will accelerate road and bridge maintenance projects.

The projects include resurfacing and sidewalk reconstruction on Route 116 in Adams, resurfacing along a section of Route 6 in Bourne and resurfacing Routes 18 and 28 in the Bridgewater and Middleborough area.

Other projects include:

  • Resurfacing more than 3 miles of Route 2 in Gill, Erving, Orange, and Wendell;
  • Resurfacing and replacing traffic signs on Route 128 in Lexington and Reading;
  • Resurfacing more than 4 miles of Route 2 in Harvard and Littleton;
  • Resurfacing Route 6 in Somerset and Rehoboth;
  • Resurfacing more than 4 miles of Route 6 in Westport.
  • The administration said it will decide how to use federal stimulus dollars based in part on a project’s ability to meet a 120-day “use-it-or-lose-it” deadline.

    Federal officials have also announced an additional $319 million for Massachusetts public transit projects — $159.9 million of which must be committed to eligible projects within 180 days.

    Rhode Island lawmakers propose state name change

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Some Rhode Island lawmakers and residents think it’s about time the state changed its name.

    The official name of the nation’s smallest state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and it’s those last two words that some people find problematic. Some say they conjure up images of slavery.

    State Rep. Joseph Almeida and state Sen. Harold Metts are sponsoring a bill with support from the black community that would amend the state constitution to delete the words “Providence Plantations” from the name.

    Metts calls the words “an insult.”

    Dennis Langley, executive director of the Urban League of Rhode Island, supports the move.

    Previous efforts to remove the words from the official state name have failed.

    Bay State to get $177M from feds for energy efficiency

    Massachusetts is set to receive $177 million in federal stimulus dollars for weatherization and energy efficiency grants.

    The money is intended to help homeowners add more insulation, seal leaks and modernize heating and air conditioning equipment.

    The program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home and will be available for families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 a year for a family of four.

    Funding will also be available for rebates to consumers for home energy audits or other energy-saving improvements and for the development of renewable energy projects for clean electricity and alternative fuels.

    (Associated Press)