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Riders Ramble
Santa Clara--About 250 people gathered for a summit of sorts at the Santa Clara Arena to mull over the Valley's impending tricky transportation expansion. Valley Transporation Plan 2020 proposes a half-cent transportation tax that would raise $40 billion over 20 years to, among other things, extend BART all the way down to San Jose through Milpitas. Local grassroots types professed deep-seated worries that the scheme is moving along too hastily, that Caltrain could perhaps be electrified to make better use of preexisiting resources.

Buddy System
Saratoga--Once upon a time, not so long ago, disabled kids were labeled "special needs" and segregated from the masses in separate schools, daycare or summer camps. Educational thought is evolving, however, toward a progressive new trend: inclusion. That means, for Southwest YMCA, mixing the 15 disabled with the 500 able-bodied youngsters in its day camps this summer, which seems to work wonders for all parties involved. Mutual respect blossoms and friendships form. What is aptly named the "physability" program is the brainchild of its director, Dalia Nir.

Track Stars
Cupertino--Before the days of Atari, Nintendo and now a blitz of online diversions, many a kid simply pined for a new model train set at Christmastime. Last week at the San Jose Convention Center, they were there, all grown up, at the largest shindig of its kind in North America, the 65th annual National Train Show. Hobbyists hailed from all over the globe--including Canada, Germany and Japan. These days, despite the onslaught of new high-tech gadgets marketed to children, convention spokesperson Nancy Richison says model railroads have managed to stand the test of time with the young 'uns.

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Web extras to the August 10-16, 2000 issue of Metro.

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