The Brattleboro Reformer has many colleagues around the country producing news for our "sister" papers. The Daily DFM is a "top picks" of today's national news. Consider it a collection of "things you should know, today."

1. J.C. Penney to close 33 stores, eliminate 2,000 jobs

2. Use the NFL Playoffs Predictor to forecast the conference title games

3. What plans does Washington, D.C., have for fighting poverty?

4. Magnified Photos Expose the Secret Beauty of Sand Grains

By Laura Vitto/Mashable

These magnified pictures of sand reveal its beauty.

These magnified pictures of sand reveal its beauty. Dr. Gary Greenburg/sandgrains.com

When you head to the beach on a hot summer day, the glimmering ocean waves capture your attention. But a series of magnified photographs may inspire you to turn your gaze to the sand, where little-seen beauty lies right underfoot.

Dr. Gary Greenberg's photographs magnify grains of sand 100 to 300 times, exposing swirling microscopic shells, eroded crystals and colorful coral fragments.

The grains come from diverse beaches around the world, reaching from Okinawa, Japan to Maui, Hawaii to Smith Mountain Lake, Va. Each fragment is unique in character and remarkably beautiful.

Greenberg's website explains that he has spent his life "revealing the secret beauty of nature." With the help of high-quality microscopes, he creates "spectacular landscapes of worlds beyond our everyday perception - worlds where reality is seen as abstract form and color, motion and texture."

To see more of Greenberg's microphotography, including magnified images of food, flowers and the human body, visit his website.

5. Brattleboro Selectboard pulls plug on energy audit

By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / Reformer Staff

(Reformer file photo)

(Reformer file photo)

BRATTLEBORO -- The Selectboard has decided not to go forward with an energy audit of the town-owned buildings at this time.

At Tuesday night's Selectboard meeting the board was asked to commit a portion of the current year's potential surplus toward an energy audit.

But the board rejected that request, deciding instead to take a longer-term view and possibly establish a fund toward a more comprehensive audit that would be done in the next few years.

At the Dec. 3 Selectboard meeting board member David Schoales asked interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland to see if $3,400 from the projected surplus from this year could be used for the energy audit.

Moreland said that while there may be savings in the current budget it was too early in the fiscal year to allocate funds that may not be there at the end of the year.

Moreland said the town would save about $30,000 on the early resignation of former Town Manager Barbara Sondag, another $60,000 on liability insurance restructuring, $200,000 from changes in how the town is paying for the police-fire renovation and further savings from street light efficiency upgrades.

At the same time, Moreland said, projected tax revenue is down, the town has had to pay about $92,000 to reconstruct Elm Street from storm damage, and another $55,000 is needed to help rebuild the police and fire emergency radio systems.

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