Associated Press – February 16, 2011 5:14 AM ET
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Department of Transportation says aviation contractors hired to do aerial seeding along the states highways will begin as soon as the weather permits.
State transportation officials say in a news release that aerial seeding and fertilizer is an economical method to control roadside erosion and cover vast areas. They say the seed is best applied during the late winter months to it can germinate in the spring.
The areas where the aerial seeding will be done in March include US Highway 20 in Calhoun County to US Highway 69 in Webster County; Interstate 29 from Harrison County to the Woodbury County line; and along US Highway 30 in Marshall and Story counties from US Highway 65 east to Iowa Highway 330.
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Report focuses on short-sea-shipping and Port of Providence
01:00 AM EST on Saturday, February 26, 2011
By Alex Kuffner
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE A study commissioned by the Port of Providence has found that it would take relatively modest investment to install the infrastructure needed to handle more cargo but cautioned that not all types of shipping would be economical.
The report by Reeve amp; Associates, of Stamford, Conn., studied the potential for the port to become a destination for short-sea-shipping the transport of goods by barges or shallow-draft container vessels, which is seen as an alternative to moving them by truck. The study was funded through a grant from the state Division of Planning.
Reeve amp; Associates concluded that bringing products into the Port of Providence over shorter distances from New Jersey, for example probably wouldnt be cheaper than trucking them, because of high cargo-handling costs.
But shipments from ports farther away would make financial sense. Under one scenario, the port could support trips from Jacksonville, Fla., twice a week initially before increasing to five days a week by 2028, bringing a total of 1,600 trailer loads weekly through Providence.
That level of shipping could create 1,340 jobs and generate $88 million in direct economic impact with an additional $275 million in indirect economic impact and tax revenue, the report says.
To ready the port for increased shipping, about $4 million to $5 million in capital improvements would be needed, including paving and installing lighting and gates. Two privately owned sites adjacent to the port could also be used for shipping goods, but would require more costly work. Promet Marine would need $5 million to $6 million in improvements while Motiva Enterprises would need $10 million to $12 million in work.
Last October, the Port of Providence was awarded a $10.5-million federal grant to help purchase two floating harbor cranes that would be able to handle container shipments. At the time, city and state officials said the port could become a major center of economic activity.
MILWAUKEE, Feb. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Helios USA, LLC, a solar manufacturer located in Milwaukees Menomonee Valley, announces the opening of its new manufacturing facility at 1207 West Canal Street. To mark the occasion, the company will host a ribbon-cutting event on February 28 at 3:30 pm to showcase its focus on renewable energy and the creation of green jobs in Milwaukee.
Helios is already manufacturing panels and is fully operational with panels being shipped locally, regionally and nationally. The company expects to create more than 50 new, permanent clean energy jobs. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Perez and other state and local officials, as well as renewable energy industry leaders, are expected to attend the event.
Milwaukees commitment to renewable energy and its expertise in manufacturing makes this an ideal location for Helios. Together we can contribute to a renewed strength in manufacturing by delivering clean, safe, and economical energy, said Steve Ostrenga, CEO, Helios. After months of planning, were looking forward to celebrating and thanking those that helped achieve our shared vision of creating this energy efficient facility.
By locating its first manufacturing facility in Milwaukees Menomonee Valley, Helios is Wisconsins first manufacturer of high-performance solar modules for use in residential, commercial, industrial, and utility-based solar electric systems. The companys high-efficiency modules create new market opportunities by making solar electricity more attractive and economical.
SOURCE Helios USA, LLC
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WATERLOO — The Canadian Association of Mutual Insurance Companies says a large surplus built up over many generations at the Economical Mutual Insurance Company should not be used to enrich current mutual policyholders when the company demutualizes.
With some estimates putting the average value of each policy at $1 million, allowing existing policyholders to cash in when the company goes public or is sold would be wrong, said Normand Lafreniere, president of the association.
The surplus at Economical, currently sitting at $1.1 billion, was built up by generation after generation of policyholders going back to when the company was founded in 1871, said Lafreniere.
There is no way to determine who contributed what to the surplus over the company’s history, so the money should stay where it is, he said in an interview.
“Basically our position is that the surplus of the company is indivisible, that the current generation has not grown the surplus of the company and we would like the federal government to adopt a position that will not bring personal financial benefits to the board of directors, management or policyholders of mutual insurance companies that wish to demutualize,” Lafreniere said.
The association represents 91 farm mutual insurance companies across Canada. Economical, which provides mostly auto and property insurance, is not a member.
Waterloo-based Economical, the eighth largest property and casualty insurance company in Canada, had initially shown no interest in demutualizing the company until the issue was suddenly thrust to the front burner last fall.
At that time a dissident group of policyholders, unhappy with the direction of the company, launched a campaign to replace the board of directors and start the process of demutualization, which would involve turning Economical into a publicly traded firm.
Economical strongly resisted the move, then did an about-face in December by unveiling its own plan to demutualize the company either through an initial public offering of shares on the stock market or selling to a strategically aligned firm.
The story took another surprising turn in January when Economical fired its chief financial officer, Sandeep Uppal, and accused him in a lawsuit of secretly orchestrating a campaign to demutualize the company through contacts with the dissident policyholders and an insurance company that had made an offer for Economical in the fall.
Economical says it needs to demutualize to gain access to capital to continue to fund growth in a highly competitive and consolidating industry.
It would be the first property and casualty firm in Canada to demutualize, which could set a precedent for other property and casualty insurance companies.
This has raised alarm bells at the association of mutual insurance companies. Worried about a “snowball effect” that could lure other members into demutualization, Lafreniere said the association has made its position known to the federal department of finance, which is preparing regulations on how the demutualization of Economical should unfold.
The Economical case is somewhat unique because the company only has about 1,100 mutual policyholders, who are technically the owners of the company. They are different from the roughly 1.1 million clients who have regular insurance policies with the company.
Mutual policyholders buy insurance for three-year terms, receive dividends and have voting rights at annual meetings. In return for these benefits, they must agree to pay additional fees or “assessments” if the company runs into financial difficulty.
But it’s been “decades and decades” since mutual policyholders at Economical were called upon to cough up extra cash, said Lafreniere. “We’re saying there’s no additional risk compared to regular policies.”
Moreover, Economical did not advertise the fact these mutual policies were available, he said. “It didn’t seem to be wide open. It didn’t seem to be publicized,” he added.
In a statement released Friday, Economical disagreed with the association’s position.
Based on its own bylaws and government policy established when life insurance companies were demutualized about 10 years ago, voting policyholders are the owners of Economical, Katherine Kipper, the company’s vice-president of communications, said in an email.
“Common sense and fairness dictate that upon demutualization, they are entitled to receive the value of the company.”
It may be impossible to determine the amounts contributed to the surplus by each mutual policyholder, she said, but factors such as policy premium, amount of coverage, length of time in force and type of policy “are more relevant in determining the amount of benefits allocated to voting policyholders in a fair manner.”
It’s been more than 75 years since a mutual policyholder has been asked to make up a financial shortfall at the company, Kipper said.
If Economical is sold or goes through an initial public offering, “Economical believes that the sale proceeds should be distributed to its voting policyholders as the true owners of the company,” she said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Department of Finance Canada said the government has been contacted by participants in the property and casualty insurance industry about regulations regarding how the demutualization process will be handled.
“As we examine this issue, the government will consult broadly and ensure fair, equitable treatment of policyholders of all companies,” David Barnabe, a media relations officer with the department, said in an email Friday.
“The decision whether to demutualize is at the discretion of the company and its policyholders, as set out in existing legislation,” he said.
Economical is hoping to have a final recommendation on demutualization and a schedule for completion ready for a vote at the company’s annual meeting on May 26.
Makers are upgrading models to boost their competitiveness against other technologies.
China suppliers of fluorescent grow lights are adding more cost-effective units to their selections, hoping to facilitate the shift from incandescent versions. Companies aim to take over the latter’s share in plant lighting as environmental campaigns to limit the production and use of the older technology becomes more widespread.
Among the markets with such restrictions already in effect are Australia, Canada and the EU. In the US, the phaseout of 100W lamps is scheduled to start next year.
In their efforts to expand market reach, makers are highlighting the inherent advantages of fluorescent grow lamps in terms of energy efficiency and service life. Models consume only 20 percent of the energy used by incandescent versions to produce the same amount of lumens. They also last five to 10 times longer.
To guard against competition from LED variants, currently the mainstream line, suppliers are sharpening their edge in price. Generally not exceeding $18 per unit, fluorescent bulbs boast quotes at least 70 percent lower than the solid-state counterparts.
RD work has widened selections to comprise several U and spiral CFLs designed to replace incandescent variants. Many employ T4, T5 or T6 tubes in place of T8 types, resulting in smaller constructions with greater light output.
New models are also more environment-friendly, with mercury levels generally meeting those set in the EU’s RoHS and WEEE directives. Further, some makers use solid mercury, which is considered safer than liquid types. Units adopting the former are priced $0.10 to $0.20 higher.
In terms of wavelengths, the focus is still on models emitting red or blue light, which promote growth and flowering. Full-spectrum and UVA options, however, are increasing.
By adopting water-soluble phosphors for coating and components of better quality, Ningbo Antai Lighting Fty has developed UV grow bulbs that can illuminate a radius of 6 to 8m. In contrast, most products in the market can cover only 3 to 5m.
RD efforts in coming months will be geared toward a life span of 10,000 hours and a valid service life of 8,000 hours with UV wavelength at 350 to 370nm. Current options from the company can last more than 8,000 hours, while their useful life is about 5,000 hours.
Columbia, SC (WLTX) — Your ceramics could soon be turned into artwork, and its for a good cause.
With this economical crisisI meanI feel like were all close to be homeless its something that really I feel every day, Midlands artist Khaldoune Bencheikh says.We have to deal with it as a community thats whyI want the mosaic to be an opportunity for everybody to participate.
Bencheikh will create a mural on a wall of Columbias new homeless transitional center made of ceramics from the public.
Residents of Columbia theyre going to be donating artifacts like mugs and cups and dishes and ceramics and with the help of a group of homeless people Im going to build this mural, Bencheikh says.
He says this represents unity.
You have two kind of people the ones who are forced to give away their memories and these are the homeless and the ones who are willingly and generously offering their memories to be put in a wall thats really the dialogue between these two, Bencheikh says.
Any ceramic donation is welcome, as long as it fits the size requirements, 12.5 inches by 18 inches.
Funny things,I have people who donated their tooth, its made out of ceramicI have people giving me bricks, Bencheikh says.
The entire project is expected to cost about $13,000, but the artist says it should be covered through donations.
Bencheikhwants you to donate items for the mural. Hell be explaining more about the project at the Columbia Museum of Art tomorrow from 12 until 2 pm
\While benefits of the Marcellus shale may spread throughout the state, there is no question the majority of the interest is in the northern counties of West Virginia.
The reason has a lot to do with the topography, or surface of the lands, and the geological makeup beneath. The simplest explanation for the high concentration of Marcellus shale wells in northern West Virginia is that it is more economical to extract gas from there.
Amy Higginbotham of West Virginia Universitys Bureau of Business and Economic Research and one of the authors of a study on economic impact of the natural gas industry, said there is Marcellus shale beneath most of West Virginia, but some of it is easier, and therefore cheaper, to reach than the rest.
There is Marcellus shale under the more mountainous regions in the state, she said. But due to the terrain, it makes drilling to the Marcellus shale very difficult.
A report, Projecting the Economic Impact of Marcellus Shale Gas Development in West Virginia: A Preliminary Analysis Using Publicly Available Data, released March 31, 2010, by the National Energy Technology Laboratory described the presence of the Marcellus shale formation beneath West Virginia.
The Marcellus Shale is present throughout most of West Virginia. It is absent in the southwestern-most counties and also in parts of the eastern-most counties where it also outcrops at surface in some areas, the report states. The thickness of the Marcellus varies across the state but is generally thickest in the northeast-central counties and thins to zero in the southwest.
Thickness is only one measure of the viability of gas production.
The Marcellus exhibits several different pressure regimes in West Virginia, the NETL report states. Generally, it is under-pressured to the southwest and, although there is insufficient data to be certain, it has been postulated to be normal to potentially over-pressured to the northeast with a transitional area in between.
The varying levels of pressure result in different methods of stimulating wells in preparation for production. Gas foam fracture stimulation is used in the under-pressured and transitional areas, which are generally located in the western half of the state. Over-pressurized areas typically utilize slickwater fracturing methods.
A minimum depth of drilling for economic production from the Marcellus has yet to be determined in West Virginia, the report states. However, according to the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, some operators believe that the Marcellus must be greater than 10 feet thick in order to have any appreciable production potential.
The depth of the Marcellus shale also varies. The shale doesnt exist in the western reaches of Wayne County and gets progressively deeper as it moves east, until it reaches the Eastern Panhandle, where the shale is either outcropped or nonexistent in some places.
Concern about the cost of a healthy diet being out of reach remains on the minds of many Americans as the nation works through serious economic woes. However, according to a United States Department of Agriculture study, the cost of eating healthy hasnt changed as much as some less-healthy alternatives. Eating healthy food while on a budget does require strategic shopping.
Farm Bureaus Food Check-Out Week, Feb. 20-26, focuses on helping Americans learn how to stretch their grocery dollars with healthy, nutritious food. Americas farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, healthy and abundant food, and they share a common concern with consumers when it comes to putting nutritious meals on the table while sticking to a tight budget.
It seems that the good news is that a recent USDA report favorably supports the economics of healthier eating. Recent food price data show that prices for unprepared, readily available fresh fruits and vegetables have remained stable relative to dessert and snack foods, such as chips, ice cream and soft drinks. Therefore, as defined by foods in the study, the price of a healthier diet has not changed compared to an unhealthy diet.
Farm Bureaus Food Check-Out Week is aimed at helping American consumers learn how to shop strategically to put nutritious meals on the table with fewer dollars.
Learning to use your grocery dollars wisely helps ensure that nutrition isnt neglected, according to Charlotte Wingate, Colquitt County Farm Bureau office manager.
Fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs and nuts are an important part of a healthy diet. Buying fresh produce when its in season and costs less, while buying frozen fruits and vegetables when theyre not in season, is a smart way to stretch that dollar, Wingate also said. Knowing your food budget, planning balanced meals, making a list and shopping at competitively priced grocery stores are just a few strategies dietitians recommend to achieve better nutrition with less money.
Now in its 13th year, Food Check-Out Week also highlights Americas safe, abundant and affordable food supply, made possible by Americas farmers. According to the most recent information from the USDAs Economic Research Service, American families and individuals spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their disposable personal income for food. In comparison, French consumers spend 14 percent; Chinese consumers spend 35 percent and Indonesian consumers spend 46 percent.
The abundant, affordable and safe domestic food supply produced by Americas farmers allows our nation to enjoy a higher standard of living than that in many parts of the world, said Wingate. Even with the challenges of todays economics, we have access to a variety of healthy food choices and, with solid planning, a healthy diet can be achieved.
To celebrate the countrys safe and abundant food supply, Colquitt County Farm Bureau is participating in a statewide Food Check-Out Week event. From Feb. 20 through Feb. 28, Colquitt County Farm Bureau will be accepting cash donations to assist the hungry in the county and to provide food assistance for the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. For each donation, the contributor will have the opportunity to register for the drawing of a gift basket to be given away on March 1.
Of the money collected during this time, half will be used to assist the hungry in Colquitt County. The other half will go to the Georgia Farm Bureau Womens Committee, the sponsor of the statewide effort, to help assist visiting families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, said Erline Cannon, Colquitt County Farm Bureau Womens Committee chair.
As we celebrate the efficiency and productivity of our farmers in Georgia and the United States, we want to share that bounty with others less fortunate in our community and be a part of the statewide effort to provide assistance for one of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Georgia, said Cannon. With the current economic situation, we realize our local food bank is experiencing an increased demand for its services, and so we are asking our local community to join us in collecting donations for the food bank and to help feed families experiencing a health crisis.
Anyone who would like to make a donation is welcome to do so by visiting the Colquitt County Farm Bureau office at 1899 Sylvester Hwy. in Moultrie.
The Ronald McDonald House provides a home-away-from-home for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment in the area. The financial assistance will help them take care of the needs of the families staying at the house. Each year, the Georgia Farm Bureau Womens Committee rotates the state donation to a different Ronald McDonald House. This year donations will benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. In previous years, donations have been made to the Ronald McDonald Houses in Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah.
Farmers are consumers, too and we are feeling the impact of the economic crisis through higher fuel and input costs, said Wingate. Although you may be seeing higher retail prices for your food, please remember that on average, farmers only receive 19 cents out of every dollar spent on food. The rest of the food cost covers wages and materials for food processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. Recent food price increases are due primarily to higher energy costs associated with processing, hauling and refrigerating food products.
Founded in 1937, Georgia Farm Bureau is the states largest general farm organization. The organization has 158 county offices. Its volunteer members actively participate in local, district and state activities that promote agriculture awareness to their non-farming neighbors.
In modern democratic societies, citizens have the right to express their views freely by a variety of means: by exercising freedom of speech through media, strikes, or even by conducting peaceful demonstrations. In the demonstrations that turned bloody in Sullaimania, it was reported that the demonstrators attacked the Kurdistan Democratic Partys (KDP) headquarters by throwing rocks, and some reports go as far as stating that the demonstrators opened fire on the KDP headquarters. As a result, the guards retaliated by opening fire on the demonstrators, leading to the death of two citizens and many more injured. This incident is certainly counterproductive to the Kurdish objectives and it endangers the stability and existence of the achievements Kurds have made in recent years.