By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgia’s pecan crop looks good. The state should be the top producer in the country this year, says a University of Georgia specialist.”The quality of the pecans should be good, and I expect we’ll have much more than last year,” said Lenny Wells, the UGA Cooperative Extension state pecan horticulturist.Georgia pecan growers should produce an average crop of about 95 million pounds this year, about twice as much as last year’s near-record low, he said.In recent years, Georgia and Texas have vied for the top pecan-producing state title. Texas won out in 2003. But this year, Texas is expected to produce around 65 million to 70 million pounds, almost twice as much as last year.The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release official pecan production estimates later next month.Georgia was on track to have a much better crop this year, Wells said, around 110 million pounds. But a large pecan “drop” in June, something the trees naturally do to produce better, larger nuts, reduced expectations.Also, a nasty disease called scab has hit the crop hard this year. Caused by the fungus Cladosporium caryigenum, it attacks young leaves in spring and nut shucks in the summer. Left untreated, it can wipe out a tree’s nuts.Growers usually spray around eight times each year for this disease. Because of Georgia’s wet summer, most growers have sprayed more than a dozen times this year, Wells said. The rain shut off in September. This could hurt pecan orchards that aren’t irrigated, he said, reducing quantity and quality. Of 140,000 acres of pecans in the state, about half are irrigated.Four tropical storms last fall knocked a lot of Georgia pecans to the ground and contributed to the low production. Last year was already going to be an “off” year. Pecan, hickory and walnut trees normally produce a strong crop every other year.Statewide conditions such as cloudy or sunny summers put most trees on the same cycle. This year should be an “on” year for Georgia pecan trees.”We should harvest a good crop if we don’t get any hurricanes between now and the end of harvest,” Wells said. Georgia’s harvest usually starts around the end of October and runs through November. Due to a cool spring, this year’s crop is about 10 days late.Because of the low production last year, Georgia growers got an average of $1.67 per pound, a record price. Prices at grocery stores were higher, too. Shelled pecan halves sold for more than $7 per pound, $1.50 more than the previous year.It’s too early to say what shoppers can expect to pay for fresh pecans this holiday season. But a normal crop like this year generally leads to normal prices at stores.Hurricane Katrina damaged pecan production in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana earlier this month. This will reduce the country’s overall supply, Wells said. Georgia growers will probably see good prices early in the harvest, but with the large crop, prices won’t be near last year’s record.
UGA tobacco meeting
University of GeorgiaFarmers or anyone else interested in Georgia’s tobacco crop should attend the “Georgia Statewide Tobacco Meeting: Planning for TSWV in 2006” Nov. 29 in Tifton, Ga.The meeting will be at the University of Georgia Rural Development Center. Registration starts 9:15 a.m.Farmers will get “the most up-to-date information available from university research and extension work to reduce the losses they have suffered from tomato spotted wilt virus,” said J. Michael Moore, a UGA Cooperative Extension tobacco agronomist.TSWV is a deadly, yield-reducing disease carried by tiny insects called thrips. It hurts Georgia tobacco and other farm crops each year. But it was especially hard on tobacco this year, infecting 35 percent of the crop statewide and cutting yields by as much as 18 percent.About 1,000 farmers grew tobacco in Georgia in 2004. Then the federal government ended the Depression-era tobacco quota program that helped keep prices level. This year, about 500 farmers grew tobacco in Georgia.Hit by disease and heavy rains, this year’s disastrous crop may sway more farmers to quit next year, Moore said. The rest will have to fight TSWV for the yields they’ll need to get contracts from tobacco companies.The Tifton meeting will help them do that. To learn more about it, call your local UGA Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1. Or call (229) 386-3006.
Bugs do sting, crawl and infest people. But for people who suffer Delusory Parasitosis, or Ekbom Syndrome, there are no bugs involved, just the irritating sensation that they are. Collecting data from sufferers “No one is studying this condition,” said Nancy Hinkle, an entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The logical groups — psychologists and psychiatrists — never see these people because they don’t consider themselves to have a mental illness. Since we were receiving calls from so many Ekbom Syndrome sufferers, we decided that it was up to us to pose some testable hypotheses and attempt to develop a valid research approach to investigate the condition.”Hinkle and graduate student Jennifer Applegate are getting to know more about sufferers of the syndrome. “So little is known about the condition, we are attempting to establish a foundation for investigating it by developing background information on sufferers’ demographics, experiences, descriptions of the pest, control strategies employed and ancillary conditions,” Hinkle said. “As with most epidemiological studies, because the cause is not known, a broad survey is undertaken, and then we look for trends and connections.”Females in their 60sTheir survey results show that the average sufferer is 64 and female. Other common characteristics are those who are self-employed or unemployed and somewhat socially isolated. Hinkle has gotten calls from sufferers representing a full range of socioeconomic backgrounds and professions, including doctors, nurses, professors and even a pest control operator.As part of the research, they surveyed 15 U.S. entomologists who regularly deal with Ekbom Syndrome sufferers. From this, they estimate more than 250,000 people have the condition at any given time in the U.S.As common as MS“We have found that Ekbom Syndrome is more common than the medical literature had led us to believe,” Hinkle said. “Its incidence is comparable to multiple sclerosis.”Results from Hinkle’s research are published in the April edition of Annual Reviews. Hinkle’s lab gets pest samples every week from people who believe they are infested by bugs. The samples contain skin cells, hair, dirt and dust, but no bugs. “Many people think they are infested by an unknown bug or one so small or elusive it is impossible to capture for a sample,” Applegate said. Applegate calls the sufferers to discuss their results. “Callers are frustrated when we do not find insects in their samples,” Applegate said. “As entomologists, we can only determine whether insects or mites are involved; we cannot make medical diagnoses.” Don’t criticize or ridiculeIt is important to remember that these people are not crazy, Applegate said. Their symptoms and suffering are real and disrupt their lives.Know someone infested? Applegate says not to criticize the condition or person. This may push the sufferer further into the belief or isolate them. Take them to the doctor to be examined for scabies and lice, the only two common human parasites. There are no human-skin parasites that are invisible, Hinkle said, and even microscopic ones are rare.“If there is a valid insect or mite causing the infestation, the individual should be able to collect samples and provide them for identification; we can then make recommendations for their effective suppression,” Hinkle said. Medications can cause symptomsThere are some explanations for the crawling sensations described by sufferers. Common over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause pruritus and the perception of being infested with parasites. Depression, anxiety, stress and other psychological conditions are known to initiate the “itch-scratch” cycle, Hinkle said. “As our population ages, the incidence of Ekbom Syndrome is increasing,” Hinkle said. “Dealing with a loved one suffering from this condition can be frustrating and draining. Family members should be assured that the condition can be successfully treated with medication. But it is difficult to persuade the sufferer to seek treatment because they are convinced that they are infested with bugs. Sufferers often protest that it can’t be a delusion, because they feel and see the bugs; of course, the point is that if one realizes that he is delusional, then he is not.”
The Future Farmstead, a model home for energy-efficient housing, was on display Wednesday, Oct. 14, as part of a dedication ceremony on the University of Georgia Tifton Campus.“This is a culmination of very hard work from a number of people, certainly being led by Dr. Craig Kvien – a dreamer who makes things happen. It’s a test bed for technology and a great example of what’s out there for home builders, farmers and people interested in a sustainable lifestyle,” said Joe West, UGA Tifton Campus assistant dean. “It’s very rewarding to see it finished and to see it put into use.”West and Josef Broder, interim dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, as well as state political leaders, were on hand to witness the dedication of this one-of-a-kind, futuristic house. Kvien, a UGA Tifton Campus professor, helped design and construct the farmstead from its inception.“The farmstead incorporates many examples of UGA’s leadership in research, Extension and teaching. It is a very special place,” Kvien said. “Students are living in the house, aiding in the collection of data, giving tours and helping the house stay on the cutting edge of technology.”The farmstead houses innovative technologies from more than 40 companies. Recycled blue jeans and closed-cell foam help insulate the 4,000-square-foot house. Solar panels harness and convert the sun’s natural energy. Electrical use is surveyed through a home-based monitoring and control system.“The Future Farmstead, even though it’s the farmstead of the present, is really as futuristic as we can get right now. That’s the neat thing about it. It will continue to evolve as we go forward. Dr. Kvien has constructed it so that we can put in new technology, new sensing capabilities, things of that nature,” West said. “We’ve actually got a piece of the future right here, starting today.”The Future Farmstead dedication included short remarks from noted political figures, including U.S. Rep. Austin Scott and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and Jay Short, president of Short and Paulk Supply Company and a UGA CAES alumnus. Georgia Rep. and UGA CAES alumnus Sam Watson was slated to attend but was unable to due to farm business. “Sam’s also a farmer and he had 3 semi-trucks lined up and they were busy picking squash. And that pays the bills,” said Black as he shared Watson’s regrets for not attending the event.During this remarks, Black cited the farm’s innovativeness and praised UGA and the farmstead team.“Planning for future needs, preparing for future challenges and taking advantage of the latest technology is critical to success in any industry, and agribusiness is no exception,” Black said. “However, it is even more imperative for the agricultural community because so many lives are dependent upon the very nature of our business—growing food. We already know the immense challenge that lies before us.”Studies show that food production will have to increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet global demand, he said. “It is through innovative ideas and bold action, such as the Future Farmstead project, that we will overcome this challenge and do so responsibly,” Black said.Black was especially complimentary of the edible landscape, which consists of seedless lemon and tangerine trees, developed by UGA plant breeding teams, a small vegetable garden and an aquaponics system. The system, a combination of fish and plant production, should generate enough food to feed a small family.“I am proud of the proactive nature of UGA’s Future Farmstead team as well as its progressive response to farming challenges. I look forward to seeing the fruits that this project will bear,” Black said. “Just 61 years ago in Tifton County was the first year there were more tractors than mules in the fields, and today we are talking about net zero homes.”
Lake Champlain Chocolates Launches New E-Commerce Website
Lake Champlain Chocolates (LCC) has revamped their website, www.lakechamplainchocolates.com(link is external), focusing on e-commerce for consumers. The new site features over 80 gourmet chocolate products, ranging from boxes of truffles to Belgian chocolate bars, hot chocolate to dessert sauces. Consumers experience a streamlined shopping experience with unprecedented flexibility in navigating the site.Website visitors can take a virtual factory tour, as well as learn about cocoa bean harvesting and roasting. Users can also recommend recipes or products to friends with just a few clicks. Other features include a calendar of when to give chocolates, chocolate tips & terms, factory tour information, company news & history, corporate gift program information, and a list of retail stores that carry Lake Champlain Chocolates. Wholesalers and hotels can also directly request information.By popular request, the new website allows consumers to order personalized wedding favors online; choosing which chocolates they want, how the boxes will be engraved, and which of nine ribbon colors the boxes will be tied with. Website visitors can also enter a monthly drawing for a $25 gift of chocolates in exchange for answering a short survey.LCC’s Autumn line of seasonal gifts features leaf and pumpkin shaped chocolates, as well as chocolate turkeys. Some new and returning products are Truffles, Chocolates of Vermont, Pralines, Almond Butter Crunch, Five-Star Bars, Signature & Filled Bars, Gift Baskets, Dessert Sauces, Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Novelties, and the Chocolates-of-the-Month Club.
E-Mail Best Practices Seminar
Woodstock and Burlington, VT The VT/NH Direct Marketing Group announces its next educational seminar; Search, Surveys & E-mail Best Practices, will be held on March 2, 2007 at the Burlington Sheraton in Burlington, Vermont.E-mail is conceptually brilliant: low cost, high speed, personal, dynamic, and interactive. Today, e-mail is a key driver of multi-channel marketing. Your message needs to stand out. Speakers; Sundeep Kapur and Sharmila Sorenson will review 15 case studies that you can apply to your own business, helping you transform valuable transactions into very valuable business relationships.This one-day workshop will show you what others are doing effectively, allow you to learn from each other, share in best practices, and make sure your message gets through to the reciepent. One thing for sure, you will increase the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing program.For more information call: 802-457-2807
Efficiency Vermont named USDA Partner of Year
Efficiency Vermont has been named U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development 2006 Partner of the Year. Efficiency Vermont was chosen to receive this award for its promotion of rural economic development through energy conservation. Efficiency Vermont was recognized for playing an essential role in helping businesses throughout Vermont secure funding from USDA Rural Development’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency grant and loan programs. Efficiency Vermont is currently operated by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, a non-profit organization based in Burlington since 1986.Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy and protect Vermont’s environment. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is under contract to the Vermont Public Service Board. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 1-888-921-5990 or visit efficiencyvermont.comUSDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in Rural America. They do this by providing financial and technical assistance to foster growth in existing and new opportunities for business development, home ownership, and critical community and technology infrastructure. Last year, Rural Development invested $62,395,244 in Vermont, including $1,625,908 for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. To learn more about USDA Rural Development programs, call Donna Montgomery at 802-828-6031 or visit the Web site at rurdev.usda.gov/vt.– 30 —
CVPS prices public offering
CVPS prices public offeringRUTLAND, Vermont Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (NYSE:CV) announced November 17, 2008, that it priced a public offering of 1,190,000 newly issued shares of its common stock at a public offering price of $19.00. Central Vermont expects to grant the underwriters of the offering a 30-day option to purchase up to 119,000 additional shares of Central Vermont common stock solely to cover over-allotments, if any. Central Vermont intends to use the net proceeds of the offering for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of debt, capital expenditures, investments in Vermont Transco LLC and working capital requirements.Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated is acting as sole bookrunner, and KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. is acting as co-manager for this offering. You may obtain a copy of the preliminary prospectus supplement and final prospectus supplement, when available, from Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated, 180 Varick Street 2/F, New York, NY 10014, email@example.com(link sends e-mail), or toll-free at 1-866-718-1649.This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of, these securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The offering may be made only by means of a prospectus and related prospectus supplement.
Stantec announces second quarter increase in revenues, net income
Stantec Consulting Services Inc.,North American design firm Stantec, with headquarters in Edmonton, AB, and offices in Vermont, has announced second quarter 2009 results today with gross revenue increasing 13.0% to C$388.1 million and net revenue increasing 10.1% to C$318.1 million compared to the second quarter of 2008. Net income for the quarter was C$22.3 million, and diluted earnings per share were C$0.49. Stantec employs about 85 people in its South Burlington and North Springfield offices. During the first six months of 2009, we have experienced challenging market conditions across North America. I m pleased that our employees continue to deliver by managing the business effectively and efficiently, which is reflected in our results this quarter and year to date, says Bob Gomes, Stantec President & CEO.The outlook through the rest of the year remains stable for Stantec. In the quarter, the firm began to see some smaller stimulus funded projects being awarded, but it does not expect to feel any significant effect of stimulus funding in the infrastructure market until the end of 2009 or early 2010. Stantec believes that infrastructure spending approved by the US and Canadian federal governments in the first quarter of 2009 will assist in maintaining its backlog and replace some projects that have been curtailed due to difficult economic conditions.Key developments in the quarter included the following:Gross revenue increased 13.0% to C$388.1 million compared to C$343.3 million in the second quarter of 2008. Net revenue increased 10.1% to C$318.1 million from C$289.0 million, and net income was up 0.9% to C$22.3 million compared to C$22.1 million. Diluted earnings per share were C$0.49 in the second quarter of 2009 compared to C$0.48 in the same period last year, representing an increase of 2.1%.Year-to-date 2009 gross revenue increased 24.8% to C$792.9 million compared to C$635.1 million in the same period of 2008, and net revenue increased 21.6% to C$661.4 million from C$543.9 million. Net income increased 10.3% to C$43.0 million from C$39.0 million. Diluted earnings per share were up 10.6% to C$0.94 from C$0.85.During the second quarter Stantec announced it had renewed its normal course issuer bid pursuant to which it may purchase up to 2,273,722 of its common shares, representing approximately 5% of its issued and outstanding shares. Stantec also announced it was awarded a contract to design the rehabilitation of the West Roxbury Tunnel, a 12,500-foot-long, 84-inch-diameter rock tunnel running beneath Boston, Massachusetts.Also in the second quarter, Mr. David Emerson P.C. and Mr. Robert (Bob) Gomes, the new President & CEO of Stantec, were added to the board of directors.Complete Financial Statements, Notes to the Financial Statements, and Management s Discussion and Analysis will be filed on Sedar (www.sedar.com(link is external)) and Edgar (www.sec.gov(link is external)) on August 6 and are available to download free of charge from the Investors section on www.stantec.com(link is external). The documents are also available from Stantec. Project activity in the quarter is a good reflection of how Stantec s diversification is helping the firm continue to succeed in a challenging market. For example, Stantec s Environment practice was awarded a contract with the City of Windsor, Ontario, to provide services for developing a combined sewer overflow treatment system, as part of its riverfront pollution control plan. This project award is a direct result of stimulus funding for infrastructure projects in Canada. In Victoria, British Columbia, the firm was chosen to provide program management, technical planning, and preliminary engineering services for the installation of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Core Area Wastewater Treatment Program. This multiyear initiative is one of the largest wastewater treatment programs in the world and will provide secondary treatment facilities for the CRD core area communities by 2017.In Los Angeles, Stantec s Transportation group is part of a team providing on-call project management, construction management, and staff assistance services to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority in support of new construction and rehabilitation projects for its Metrolink commuter rail system. The work will span five years and include more than a dozen large projects. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the firm is working on systems for warning device replacement and improvement projects on trolley lines, and in Miami, Florida, Stantec was chosen to design and commission signal and communication systems for three new metrorail stations connecting passengers to the Miami Intermodal Center, a massive transportation hub being developed by the Florida Department of Transportation at Miami International Airport. Work also began on rehabilitating the signal system for the 38th Street Yard Leads Reconstruction Project in the Borough of Brooklyn for New York City transit.In Nevada, Stantec s Urban Land group is working on a project for the Nevada Department of Transportation to design the landscaping and aesthetics for Interstate 15 South in Las Vegas. In California, work continues on Phase 1 of Walker Community Park for the City of Galt, for which the firm is providing landscape architecture, survey, and civil, electrical, and environmental engineering services.Stantec s Buildings team has been hired to help the Bermuda Hospitals Board expand and redevelop the aging King Edward VII Memorial Hospital located in Hamilton, Bermuda. The firm is providing a full suite of integrated services architecture; interior design; mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering; and sustainability consulting for the project which is intended to be delivered through a public-private partnership. In addition, the firm was awarded a contract with the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia to provide integrated services in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and structural, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering for the first phase of the relocation of its Chilliwack campus. Our performance to date in 2009 is a direct reflection of the stability of our business model and our employees ability to react to and take advantage of the opportunities that exist in a changing market, adds Gomes.The second quarter conference call, to be held today at 4:00 PM EDT (2:00 PM MDT), will be broadcast live and archived in the Investors section at www.stantec.com(link is external). Financial analysts who wish to participate in the earnings conference call are invited to call 866-321-8231and provide the confirmation code 8158548 to the first available operator.Stantec provides professional consulting services in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management, and project economics for infrastructure and facilities projects. We support public and private sector clients in a diverse range of markets in the infrastructure and facilities sector at every stage, from initial concept and financial feasibility to project completion and beyond. Our services are offered through approximately 10,000 employees operating out of more than 130 locations in North America. Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN. Stantec is One Team providing Infinite Solutions.Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statementsThis press release contains information regarding “forward-looking statements”. By their nature, forward-looking statements require us to make assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. There is a significant risk that predictions, forecasts, conclusions, projections, and other forward-looking statements will not prove to be accurate. We caution readers of this press release not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements since a number of factors could cause actual future results, conditions, actions, or events to differ materially from the targets, expectations, estimates, or intentions expressed in these forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to the risk that economic downturns could have a negative impact on our business as clients may curtail investment in infrastructure projects or may experience difficulty in paying for services performed. If we experience delays and/or defaults in customer payments we could suffer liquidity problems or be unable to recover our expenditures. Goodwill and other intangible assets acquired from our acquisitions represent substantial portions of our total assets. If our acquired businesses do not perform as expected, we may be required to write down the value of our goodwill and other intangible assets, which could have a material adverse effect on our earnings.The preceding list of factors is not exhaustive. Investors and the public should carefully consider these factors, other uncertainties, and potential events as well as the inherent uncertainty of forward-looking statements when relying on these statements to make decisions with respect to our Company. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent our expectations as of July 31, 2009, and accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as may be required by law, we do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or verbal, that may be made from time to time.For more information on how other material factors and other factors could affect our results, refer to the Risk Factors section in our 2008 Financial Review and the Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements in our Second Quarter 2009 Report. You may obtain these documents by visiting EDGAR on the SEC website at www.sec.gov(link is external) or on the CSA website at www.sedar.com(link is external).Source: Stantec. EDMONTON AB (August 6, 2009) TSX, NYSE:STN
New Vermont bus to link Rutland and White River Junction
Marble Valley Regional Transit District (MVRTD),Marble Valley Regional Transit District (The Bus) and Stagecoach Transportation Services Inc. (STSI) of Randolph, Vermont are working in partnership to create a new public transportation route that will reestablish scheduled bus service between Rutland and White River Junction. In 2008, Vermont Transit discontinued scheduled service between Rutland and White River Junction. The new route, if awarded funding by the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation, will begin in November and be named the Route 4 East Connection. The Route 4 Each Connection will travel Vermont Route 4 picking up and discharging passengers in Rutland, Killington, Bridgewater, Quechee, Woodstock, and White River Junction with local connections in the White River Junction area and into the Lebanon, West Lebanon areas of New Hampshire. The Route 4 East Connection will offer connections to:Amtrak s The Vermonter with service from Springfield, Massachusetts to Essex, Vermont with stops in White River Junction, Randolph, Montpelier, Waterbury, Burlington, and St. Albans,Stagecoach Transportation Services Inc. between Randolph and Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Hospital Medical Center, and the VA Hospital,Vermont Transit daily service between Burlington and Brattleboro with a stop in White River Junction andDartmouth Coach routes stopping in White River Junction with service to Boston, and New York City through Stamford, Connecticut. The Route 4 East Connection will operate four times daily midweek, with additional weekend service during the winter ski season. The requested one-way fare will be $3.00 donation. If awarded funding by the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation, this will be a three-year grant. Eighty percent of the funding will be federal/state dollars, with twenty percent required local match coming from businesses and communities that benefit from the operation of the service. During an average week, The Bus travels 13,736 miles and transports 10,431 riders in Rutland City, Proctor, Middlebury, West Rutland, Castleton, Fair Haven, Poultney, Killington, Manchester, Ludlow and towns in between. Marble Valley Regional Transit District has a fleet consisting of 62 vehicles and employs a staff of 69. For information on routes and other services, call (802) 773-3244, ext. 117 or visit www.thebus.com(link is external).