My entire college experience has been defined by my work at The Observer. One of my freshman year roommates was reminiscing the other day, and remembered how excited I was to have my first article on the front page, and how late I stayed in the office to earn a measly $10 paycheck. It wasn’t about the money, though. It was about being involved with something important, about being part of a group. I think in high school we all had several of those places, teams and clubs that gave us that feeling. And even though at Notre Dame we call each other part of the same family, it was so nice to have a smaller part of that family to grow close with.Working at The Observer has not been the easiest job. I couldn’t go five minutes without checking my e-mail, without making sure I knew everything that was going on, without having the feeling that I was in control of what was going on at the paper. What I’ve learned, however, is that no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to be in control of everything. I couldn’t be in control of when the University announced President Obama would speak last year at Commencement; I couldn’t be in control of every word, cartoon and photograph that printed in the paper. I’ve realized these things now, but while I was in the moment I was stressed and sleep-deprived. Though I can’t turn back time to relive the excitement of the freshman with her first article on the front page and approach my career at The Observer differently, I can take the lessons I’ve learned here with me in my next steps in life. I think they are lessons that can help several of the members of the Class of 2010, especially those with uncertain futures. No matter what happened, we still got a paper out everyday. We couldn’t control everything, but in the end, it all worked out. Other aspects of my Notre Dame education have contributed to this outlook: the sense of family here — no matter what happens you will have people you can turn to for help — and the strong faith shared by our classmates that guides our decisions. We can’t control the future, but after attending Notre Dame, we are prepared to face whatever happens next. I would like to thank The Observer and the wonderful staff I’ve worked with over the years for teaching me that. I would like to thank my parents for agreeing to send me to a school so far away and encouraging me to calm down when I am too stressed. I would especially like to thank the friends I’ve made here, that I’m able to reminisce with, for making the last four years truly unforgettable — no matter what the future holds. Jenn Metz is a senior from Westfield, N.J., graduating Magna Cum Laude with a double major in English and Romance Languages and Literature and a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She served as Editor-in-Chief of The Observer from 2009-2010. She will be working at ABC News in Manhattan.
Last week, I stood toe-to-toe with Kate Middleton. Her hair was perfectly in place – not a single strand out of place. Her blue dress was exquisite, and I envied her sleek black heels. The gem on her left ring finger sparkled. The Duchess of Cambridge was, in a word, lovely. She was also entirely made out of wax. When I stood three feet from the newest member of Britain’s royal family, I stood in the main display room of Madame Tussauds wax museum in London on the evening before the wax figures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be unveiled to the world. A press ID from NBC News hung around my neck, and camera equipment flanked me as I stared at the royal couple poised perfectly on their display stands. This semester, I am a part-time intern at the London bureau of NBC News while I study abroad in the United Kingdom. During my 20-odd hours in the bureau each week, I work in the hub of foreign news coverage for NBC’s Today Show and Nightly News programs. My work here shows me the ins and outs of broadcast journalism, the fast pace of international reporting and the broad scope of a foreign bureau with NBC’s clout even in these economically challenging times. I have learned which stories sell and which do not. Wax or human, Kate always sells. Perhaps I did not quite expect an American news network to be so obsessed with the royal family. Then again, perhaps I forgot how obsessed America (myself included) was with the royal wedding last spring. As Will and Kate tied the knot, the nation stared across the pond and sighed when the picture-perfect couple shared a first kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Kate seemed the average girl turned princess, and Will seemed the shining prince with the glass slipper. We loved it. Almost a year after the royal wedding, we still love it. As the couple prepares for its first anniversary, our entire bureau is poised for an announcement of a pregnancy. We interview royal experts on how Kate is handling the pressure of her new role, what her relationship with the Queen might be like and how the royal family has changed since Princess Diana’s time. We judged her first public speech (handled gracefully, of course), and we critique her wardrobe with an envious eye. I did have the chance to see Kate – the human Kate – in person with an NBC crew covering one of her first public appearances on her own. The Duchess traveled to Oxford and visited a primary school supported by a charity she patrons, and our crew arrived bright and early (after a 5:30 a.m. wake up call) to stalk her arrival with the rest of the British press. Out of my 12 hours that day with the crew, I saw Kate for a total of roughly nine minutes. We drove to Oxford early in the morning and arrived at the school about two hours before Kate would even be in the town. We introduced ourselves to Kate’s press representatives, set up our equipment in the designated corral for the media, adjusted the camera and speculated about what dress she might wear. And we waited. For hours. In the moment she stepped out of her car (stunning as usual), the cameras snapped into action. Even as half my mind focused on not dropping the sound equipment in my hand while the British press corps jostled each other around me, I craned my next to catch a good glimpse of Kate as she accepted flowers, talked with the children and smiled in genuine joy when they laughed at her jokes. I forgot my meagre hours of sleep and freezing fingers, and the children’s obvious excitement infected me as well when the Duchess passed five feet from my spot. My experience with NBC News has taught me huge lessons about international reporting, journalism and the stories that matter. Our correspondents report from Kabul, Toulouse, Syria and other locations around the world. They tell stories about life and death, peace and war. At first, even as a fan of all things royal, I thought the attraction to Kate in a bureau that follows so many hard-hitting stories was almost trivial. Yet in a day and age when these images of explosion, fighting, hatred and anger can populate the reports we produce, I understand why the public buzzed with excitement for Kate’s nine minutes on camera that day in Oxford. I can see why her wax figure (though eerie in its similarity to her real person) was in high demand. I know why this average woman, a newlywed bride from a small town, might be the focus of an international eye as well. We loved Kate’s story because her story was a fairytale. We still love Kate’s story because her story takes place in a world that is not perfect, but she navigates it with grace and poise and confidence. Kate’s story sells because we want to be reminded of that her story can exist, even here, even now. Fairytales still make headlines.
In an effort to increase knowledge about mental and learning disabilities, the Student Diversity Board (SDB) is hosting a week dedicated to raising awareness around the Saint Mary’s campus among students, faculty and staff. Disabilities Awareness Week, which continues today and ends Friday, is an annual event SDB organizes in order to encourage students to educate themselves about disabilities. Senior Maggie Galvin, SDB president, said the week is especially important to highlight students at Saint Mary’s who experience different types of disabilities. “Student Diversity Board hosts Disabilities Awareness Week to shed light on the various disabilities on Saint Mary’s campus,” she said. “So many girls are living with unseen disabilities and struggling with them every day – from learning disabilities to mental disabilities.” According to Galvin, another goal of the week is to prevent the formation of stereotypes and judgments. She said people need to understand that having a disability is something people of all types and backgrounds experience. “Student Diversity Board would like to show that disabilities, whether they can be seen or not, should not be ignored and more prevalent than one may think,” she said. “We started to fulfill this goal last year with our posters of celebrities and their disabilities, which will continue with this year’s week.” Rhonda Tomenko, a communicative disorders professor at the College, will conduct hearing screenings today from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Student Center atrium as part of Disabilities Awareness Week. “Hearing screens are administered to children because of school rules, but as we age we do not receive them anymore unless one notices a problem with their hearing,” Galvin said. “With how loudly we listen to our music in our ear buds, it is very important to know if you have any sort of hearing loss.” On Wednesday, SDB will show a movie from 8 to 10 p.m. in Vander Vennet Theater in the basement of the Student Center. Galvin said the movie choice has not been determined yet but will either be “Aphasia” or “Tru Confessions.” “‘Tru Confessions’ is a Disney Channel movie about a girl who makes a documentary about her brother who has a developmental disability that causes him to act like a child,” Galvin said. “‘Aphasia’ is a documentary about one father’s struggle to relearn how to speak after he has a stroke.” On Thursday, the board will hang posters around campus that showcase different celebrities with learning and mood disabilities. “I love walking around campus and seeing girls reading the posters of celebrities and saying ‘Oh! Steve Jobs was dyslexic?’” she said. “It really sinks in that anyone can be living with a disability and you would never know.” Galvin said Disabilities Awareness Week is an important asset to the Saint Mary’s community and students have a lot to learn. “Students should attend the events for Disabilities Awareness Week because they are engaging as well as educational.” Contact Bridget Feeney at [email protected]
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) recognized Saint Mary’s senior soccer captain Mollie Valencia with an honorable mention on the NSCAA College Division Women’s Scholar All-North/Central Region list.Valencia was one of five student-athletes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) to gain recognition and one of 40 midfielders to win an Honorable Mention, according to a College press release.“I worked hard, and it was more of an academic award than an athletic award,” Valencia said.Valencia, who is studying accounting, said she reacted to the honor with disbelief.“I was little bit surprised, just because there was so many people [in consideration],” she said. “My coach didn’t tell me he nominated me until later on.”Potential honorees must be nominated by an institution that is a current NSCAA College Services member. They also must be juniors or above in academic standing at their colleges or universities, Valencia said. She said they must also have started more than 50 percent of all games while contributing significantly to the team.“On the field I am a central midfielder, which means that I am involved in almost every play,” Valencia said. “Being the captain, I feel it is my responsibility to the lead the team, so I try to be a role model through my work ethic both on and off the field.“I am not a loud or boisterous leader. I like to say that I lead by example.”Valencia said she developed her leadership skills through her four years playing soccer for the Belles.“My experience on the team has led me to be more assertive, which is an important quality of a leader,” she said. “I realize that setting a good example is imperative to my role as a leader on the team.”Saint Mary’s soccer coach Michael Joyce nominated Valencia based on NSCAA standards that require candidates to maintain at least a 3.3 cumulative grade-point average on a 4.0 scale throughout his or her athletic career, Valencia said.While rewards extend beyond the field, Valencia said she acknowledges the amount of hard work and dedication she and her fellow teammates must commit to the sport they have loved and played since their youth.“It’s really time-consuming,” Valencia said. “During the fall, it’s really hard to keep up academics, keep up your athletics and still have a social life because we are Division III, and none of us are on scholarships.“We’re all just doing this because we love the game. I think that’s very different than Division I or Division II, which they’re basically getting paid to play soccer, but we basically put in the same amount of time as them.”Valencia said she credits her success to Joyce, who began his coaching career at Saint Mary’s the same season Valencia first became a Belle.“This is his fourth year here,” she said. “I like him as a coach. He’s a little bit quieter, but he knows what he’s talking about, and he’s always open to telling his players how they can improve.”Valencia said Joyce’s encouragement had a particularly positive impact on his team this season.“I feel like the past season was the best season for me, because I felt like we were really a team,” Valencia said. “Not just on the field. Off the field we would do a lot of team stuff together, and I’ve seen that in past seasons, but I think this season more than ever.”Though Valencia said recognition by the NSCAA is a wonderful tribute to her achievements in academics and athletics, she believes the greatest reward from her four years as a student athlete is her experience as a team leader.“I think anytime you’re the captain of a 27-person team, your leadership skills are going to develop,” she said. “I feel I’ve just been given responsibilities that have put me in the position to develop my leadership skills.“I have learned so many life lessons that I think will apply to life after college in the workforce. I have developed very good time management skills as a result of being a student athlete.”Valencia said her team won only three games during her freshman year but now competes and often wins against some of the top teams in its conference.“I have watched the soccer program grow and I am proud to say I have played a small role in that growth,” she said. “I am proud to say that I am a soccer Belle.”Tags: award, saint mary’s, SMC Soccer
This week, the Gender Relations Center (GRC) partnered with Shades of Ebony, a club that recognizes the University’s African-American women, to celebrate the third annual Women’s Week. The theme is “Weaving the Stories of Notre Dame’s History.”Sara Shoemake Junior Chizo Ekechukwu, vice president of Shades of Ebony, said the annual event started as a celebration of the 40th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame.“This is one of my favorite Shades [of Ebony] events because we really get to show campus the beauty and talent of women at this University,” she said. “With the passing of Fr. Hesburgh, we really want to give tribute to him and show our appreciation for his great accomplishments for women.”Secretary and marketing director for Shades of Ebony, junior Rachel Wallace also said Hesburgh’s death will influence the events.“With the passing of Fr. Hesburgh, it seems fitting that this week’s events are dedicated to him, as his impact on women at Notre Dame was, and still is, unparalleled,” Wallace said.Events begin Monday night in Geddes Hall with an alumni panel to celebrate the formation of the GRC a decade ago. The panel will start at 7 p.m. and a reception will follow.The club Notre Dames will partner with the GRC and Shades of Ebony on Tuesday night for their weekly “Talk It Out Tuesday” at 6 p.m. in the Dooley Room of LaFortune. Discussion will focus on women in the media.The main event of the week will be the third annual Celebration of Women Dinner, which will be in the McKenna Hall Dining Room at 6:30 p.m. The program will be dedicated to Hesburgh and will feature three panelists. This event is RSVP only.In the Coleman-Morse Lounge at 8 p.m. Thursday, student groups on campus will collaborate to showcase and celebrate the stories of women’s lives in “Cafemme.” Desserts and coffee will be served and attendees are encouraged to bring toiletries to donate to St. Margaret’s House.Shades of Ebony president, junior Ray’Von Jones said she is looking forward to Cafemme most out of the week’s events.“This event is a performance-based coffeehouse in which various acts will be performing pieces about women,” she said. “This is a great chance for various stories related to women to be told. We wanted to make sure that we made a space for this to take place.”According to the Women’s Week 2015 website, toiletries will be collected in designated residence halls until Friday or can be dropped off at the GRC to benefit St. Margaret’s House.For Friday’s service project, local high school girls will come to campus to decorate toiletry boxes for St. Margaret’s House with the supplies collected throughout the week. They will also make bracelets for cancer patients, according to the Women’s Week 2015 website.To close out the week, Dillon Hall will host a “Rejoice!” Mass at 8 p.m., according to the Women’s Week 2015 website. The mass will feature the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir.More information about the events can be found at the event’s website, sites.google.com/a/nd.edu/womens-week/home. Tags: 10th anniversary GRC, Fr. Hesburgh, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Gender Relations Center, GRC, Notre Dames, Shades of Ebony, Women’s Week, Women’s Week 2015
Alexander McLean, founder of the African Prisons Project, discussed his mission of reforming the criminal justice system in eastern Africa at a lecture Thursday at the Hesburgh Center Auditorium. McLean discussed the African Prisons Project’s work with members of eastern African prison communities. With a goal of improving the criminal justice system and empowering the poor, the African Prisons Project provides prisoners and prison staff with an education in law through the University of London. “Regardless of what’s been done to you or what you have done to others, you are welcome here,” McLean said. McLean said such vision helps bridge the gap between those who are privileged and capable of defending themselves, and those who are poor and uneducated in the prison system. “What would it look like to take those who understand the power of the law because they lived it … and to give them high quality legal education that they can apply to themselves and people in their communities? It seems that lawyers are some of the people in society with the most agencies, and the prisoners the least,” McLean said. During his lecture, McLean described what prompted him to get involved in such an effort. As a recent high school graduate, the founder traveled to Uganda to work for a hospice center. McLean said seeing the lack of attention and medical care given to the impoverished members of the community helped him understand his calling in life. “There are people in this world whose lives are judged to have no value. … It was an amazing time of formation to me,” McLean said. From his work at hospice, McLean began getting more and more exposure into the criminal justice system and visiting maximum security prisons in eastern Africa. “In places where 80 or 90 percent of prisoners would never meet a lawyer — places where there are no juries — it didn’t seem like justice was guaranteed,” he said.McLean, now a magistrate in the United Kingdom, expressed his realization that his love of law could be used to help the incarcerated. “We believe we can all play a part in making or shaping or implementing the laws — regardless of what we have done or what others have done to us,” McLean said.Through slideshows and informative videos, McLean shared various stories of prisoners and prison staff alike who graduated from the University of London as lawyers or paralegals.One such story was of a prison guard named Jimmy Mtawa who is currently a second year law student at the University of London’s long-distance program, and who advises inmates on their legal situations. McLean said the students from the African Prisons Project were amongst the top performers at the University of London in human rights law. In addition to legal education programs, McLean spoke to the importance of creating more positive and safe environments in the prisons both for prison staffs and inmates themselves. McLean discussed his theory that employee performance and quality of prisoner life will improve if the quality and dignity of employee working conditions increase.“If you give employees a dignified environment with the right tools and say the work they are doing is valuable, it motivates them and they will go the extra mile,” McLean said.Improving health facilities, providing basic health training, founding libraries and literacy programs were among the programs McLean mentioned as a part of this project. In addition to the actions and programs of the African Prisons Project, the founder emphasized the organization’s values of forgiveness for the past and looking foward the future. “We believe that we all deserve a second chance,” McLean said.McLean finished his presentation by encouraging his audience to spread this mission of the African Prisons Project throughout the world. “If it’s possible in east Africa, isn’t possible here where you live too?” McLean said. Tags: African Prisons Project, Alexander McLean, east Africa, prisons
In Monday night’s “Inside Studio G: A Monday Night Conversation,” Garth Brooks announced that the Notre Dame community can attend his soundcheck for free on Oct. 19, the night before his concert at Notre Dame Stadium.“We’re going to [do a] question and answer during soundcheck and you can actually see behind the curtain on what’s happening,” he said in the Facebook Live conversation. “So this should all be pretty cool. This is all weather permitting.”Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students can gain free entry into the soundcheck with a mobile ticket reserved in advance, Mike Seamon, vice president for campus safety and event management, said in an email to students Thursday. Students also must present their ID cards at Notre Dame Stadium’s Rockne Gate, which will open at 7 p.m., 30 minutes before the event starts.The event is expected to last about an hour. Brooks said the soundcheck serves as an opportunity to rehearse for the concert. Brooks’ wife, Trisha Yearwood, will also be present at the sound check to answer questions.“You run through the spots of where you’re going to be, you’re kind of rehearsing but you’re also feeling what the stadium feels like,” Brooks said. “You’re out on the very points, as far as you can get away from each other out there and see how you hear. A lot of it’s tech, a lot of it’s the guys running through. It’s one last shot before they drop the flag and here we go.”Brooks described the Notre Dame concert as “a chapter in the next book of our lives” and said he looked forward to the soundcheck before his concert.“I’m hoping it’s beautiful, I’m hoping it’s perfect weather and I’m hoping there’s interested people showing up and coming out here and seeing us,” he said. “You can ask any questions about the business, about whatever.”Updated Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m.Tags: Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks Concert, Notre Dame Stadium, sound check
Courtesy of Alyssa Carroll Big Stu, pictured, is the Office of Sustainability’s new mascot designed by senior Alyssa Carroll.Carroll, a marketing and visual communications design double-major, has been working with the office since the beginning of her junior year. She said that she has focused on strengthening the Office of Sustainability’s brand and was inspired to begin designing a mascot based on old Office of Sustainability promotional materials.“We found this really old poster from 10 or 15 years ago that some employee of the office had made, and [a squirrel] was on it, and all the interns and I were in love with him,” Carroll said. “We put the poster up in our office. Having these conversations about rebranding, it crossed my mind that maybe that would be a good way for people to relate to sustainability.”On Monday, the Office of Sustainability’s social media accounts made posts teasing a new mascot — before revealing the character the following day, on National Squirrel Appreciation Day.“We are hoping that by having a not-super-serious mascot, it’ll make sustainability more fun and accessible,” Carroll said. “It’s targeted at students — just kind of a silly way to get the word out about how to live more sustainably, especially in the context of Notre Dame, and how to use the resources on campus. Hopefully people will respond to it more so than they would to a more formal-sounding communication.”Carroll said that she and the other interns at the office brainstormed names before eventually settling on “Big Stu.”“We had a lot of conversations about what the name should be,” she said. “We wanted it to be catchy and go along with the theme of sustainability, but also just be fun. We decided on ‘Stu’ because it kind of works with ‘Stu-stainability.’ That’s not the only reason, but we all thought that it fit his persona.”Donnetta McClellan, Office of Sustainability project and communications coordinator, said that, in addition to social media, the office plans to use Big Stu for their “sustainability tips” and is working to have Big Stu displayed on a board in the Duncan Student Center.“We really do have a lot of fun in our office, and she wanted to use this as a way to show that it really is fun — you can be sustainable, you can do the right thing and you can still have fun doing it,” she said.While fun, McClellan also said that Stu serves an important purpose in communicating the importance of being sustainable.“We would like to use it as another communication tool,” she said. “The goal of the Office of Sustainability is not just reducing trash and recycling, but to communicate the sustainability as a whole that the campus is doing, and how to be more sustainable with our own lives at home as well as here. The mission of the Catholic University is also taking care of our common home — part of ‘Laudato Si’ from Pope Francis.”Carroll said she hopes that Stu will increase the Office of Sustainability’s visibility and encourage students to learn more about the office and get involved.“The Office of Sustainability does so many really cool things on campus, and as somebody who works there I feel like a lot of people, even my friends, don’t know what we’re doing on campus,” Carroll said. “I think it would be great if there was more awareness about what’s going on and more people participating in what we’re doing.”Tags: Big Stu, mascot, Office of Sustainability, Squirrel, sustainability On Tuesday, the Office of Sustainability revealed Big Stu to the world — the cartoon squirrel that will serve as the office’s new mascot.Big Stu was designed by Office of Sustainability graphic design intern and senior Alyssa Carroll, and will be used in the office’s promotional and educational materials. So far, Stu has appeared on Facebook and Twitter, and has his own new Instagram account.
Donning a mask with the legendary green suit and hat has become part of the uniform for Notre Dame’s mascot: the leprechaun. After a postponed audition process, seniors Conal Fagan and Lynnette Wukie have returned to their roles alongside their new leprechaun teammates senior Pat Johnson and junior Gabe Ramos, Notre Dame Fighting Irish Athletics announced last month. The 2020-2021 leprechaun class has four members this year, the largest team thus far, as a result of the increasing amount of sporting, media and other events the leprechauns work. The audition process begins in March, Ramos said. Candidates answer a series of questions and submit a short video personal statement. Those who moved on to the final round of tryouts did so in the fall. “[The tryout process] looked vastly different from a normal year,” he said. Normally, candidates participate in a live pep rally, media interview and community engagement skit in the spring. Ramos said each of these three events still happened, but individually for each candidate. “They really tried to accommodate the situation so each of us and each of the judges in attendance would be as safe as possible,” he said. The tryout was in the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center, and all involved were socially distanced and masked. Ramos said the candidates performed for 11 judges — consisting of cheerleading coaches, athletic staff and Mike Brown, the first Black man to be the leprechaun. “It was really very exciting to see Mike Brown at the tryout,” Johnson said.Johnson said he found something special in the smaller than normal tryout. “I felt there was a greater opportunity to forge more personal connections individually with your audience members,” he said. Fagan — a native of Derry, Northern Ireland — has worn the green suit of the leprechaun for two seasons now and was the first native from his country to take up the role. Fagan said the reduced number of fans this year at athletic events has magnified the role of the leprechaun. “It presents a lot of different challenges,” he said. “But the very essence of the leprechaun hasn’t changed, and that’s to continue to spread that joy and cheer for our teams and students.” Fagan has performed as the leprechaun at the football games this year and said he misses interacting with the normal crowds of fans. “[However,] there’s still the same amount of cameras on and still the same amount, if not more, of people watching from home,” he said. He also said it was a little disappointing to see some athletic seasons cut short last year, but he is excited to be back. “I think our athletics team and medical staff have done an incredible job at getting us back to where we are today,” he said. Wukie also expressed her gratitude for the year, especially when the future of sporting events were uncertain a few months ago. “As Conal said, you never know what your last game is going to be,” Wukie said. Wukie gained national attention last year as the first woman and third African American to become the leprechaun. “Having that newfound diversity as a unit was super important to us,” she said. Wukie said she had multiple amazing experiences as the leprechaun, and many fans shared stories and pictures of children — specifically young girls — dressed up as the leprechaun with her. “Opening up the Notre Dame brand to everyone, even though it was always like that, but really showing that in such a concrete way was so important,” she said. Wukie has recently become the in-game host for football games in Notre Dame Stadium, in partnership with Fighting Irish Media. She said the idea was years in the making, as in-game hosts have become popular in some professional stadiums. The host might become a regular tradition at football games and other athletic events, she said.“It’s worked out really well; students seem to really like it,” Wukie said. “And it’s a good chance to bridge that gap between sports, entertainment — as in the band, cheerleaders, leprechauns — and the fans.” Johnson said he grew up a Notre Dame fan, and always looked up to the leprechaun and the traditions of the football games.“Over time, as I was on the cheer team, I started to understand the role of the leprechaun more, and realized it’s a platform, it’s an influencer,” he said. “You can bring energy, yes, but you are also a role model. You are an ambassador for the University.”Johnson said he is grateful to be able to take up the role and bring joy to the fans this year. He led the march out parade Oct. 9 with the band and cheerleaders, and he said he most looks forward to the opportunity to make people smile.Ramos said his reason to audition ultimately came down to the spirit of what it means to be Irish.Despite his upbringing in Scranton, Penn., a predominantly Irish American town, it took him moving 700 miles to feel rooted in the heritage of the place he grew up, he said. Ramos said he is either the second or third Latino student to become the leprechaun. “This gives me a forum to be friends with a lot of people and to share a lot of happiness with others, while also showing people being Irish isn’t about being the archetypal leprechaun or Irish man at that,” he said. “It’s about having a conviction to be gritty and to show others that you are fighting for something you give your whole heart to.”Ramos said he’s most excited to be on the courts and fields, but also to interact with the fans. “I’m so excited to be given this opportunity and even more excited to show everyone what I got,” he said. The team is going to cheer on the soccer and volleyball teams this weekend, in addition to the football game on Saturday.Tags: 2020-21 Leprechauns, conal fagan, Gabe Ramos, leprechaun, Lynnette Wukie, Pat Johnson
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Justin Gould / WNY News Now.ALBANY – A new state order requiring 14-days of quarantine after traveling to a state with a high Coronavirus infection rate could impact New Yorkers’ benefits.New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have imposed two weeks of quarantine for anyone arriving from eight states that are at high risk for COVID-19.The order also states that New Yorkers who take non-work related trips to the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas and then return would lose their sick leave and paid benefits.The new orders are being sent to all airports to make travelers aware of the new consequences.
Motown The Musical Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 18, 2015 Star Files View Comments Valisia LeKae Valisia LeKae had a 2013 full of dazzling highs and devastating lows—she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Motown the Musical, and only months later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As the actress strives to be cancer-free in 2014, the whole Broadway community is cheering her on, especially her friends at Motown. Ensemble member Julius Thomas III and associate conductor Jason Michael Webb teamed up with the Motown cast to write and perform a beautiful new song, “I Am Here,” just for the brave Broadway star. “Their love and encouragement is one of the things getting me through this,” LeKae told Broadway.com in an exclusive interview. “I cannot tell you how amazing they are. Everyone has really stepped up for me.” Grab a box of tissues before watching the cast of Motown’s tribute below. We’ll be playing this song on repeat and sending lots of love to LeKae! Related Shows
Cabaret marks the return of director Sam Mendes and co-director/choreographer Rob Marshall, who are recreating their Tony Award-nominated direction and choreography of the 1998 production. In addition to Williams and Cumming, the show features four-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein, two-time nominee Linda Emond, Bill Heck, Aaron Krohn and Gayle Rankin. The Kit Kat Klub boys and girls (a.k.a. the ensemble) are comprised of Will Carlyon, Kaleigh Cronin, Caleb Damschroder, Benjamin Eakeley, Andrea Goss, Leeds Hill, Kristin Olness, Kelly Paredes, Jessica Pariseau, Dylan Paul, Jane Pfitsch, Evan Siegel and Stacey Sipowicz. Alan Cumming Michelle Williams Cabaret transforms the legendary Studio 54 into the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy 1930s Berlin nightclub where a young English cabaret performer (Williams) encounters an American writer (Heck), under the watchful eye of a zealous Master of Ceremonies (Cumming). The John Kander and Fred Ebb musical features such iconic tunes as “Willkommen,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Maybe This Time,” and “Cabaret.” Related Shows Cabaret is back on Broadway, and feel free to tell Mama, and everyone else. Performances of the Roundabout Theatre Company revival begin March 21 at Studio 54, with opening night set for April 24. The cast is led by Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles, and Alan Cumming, reprising his Tony Award-winning role as the Emcee. Show Closed This production ended its run on March 29, 2015 Danny Burstein View Comments Cabaret Star Files
Clever Little Lies View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today and over the weekend. You Can Trust Jeremy JordanAs we all know by now (if not, where have you been?!) Broadway fave Jeremy Jordan has landed a starring role in the upcoming TV series Supergirl, alongside Tony winner Laura Benanti. While we await the season premiere for the buzzy show on October 26, CBS has released another trailer to whet our appetites. Check out below as the show’s headliner Melissa Benoist asks Jordan’s Winslow “Winn” Schott if she can trust him. Uhm…we would. But then we’re still thinking of him more as troubled Smash hero Jimmy Collins not as someone who could turn into a supervillain such as Toyman. We didn’t spoil anything there, right? Related Shows Cast & Creative Team Set for Clever Little LiesBroadway alum George Merrick (Honeymoon in Vegas) will play Bill Jr. and complete the cast of Joe DiPietro’s new comedy Clever Little Lies. Directed by David Saint, the previously reported off-Broadway production will begin previews on September 18 for a limited 16-week engagement. Opening night, originally announced for October 14, has been moved to October 12 at the Westside Theatre (Upstairs). Scenic design will be by Yoshi Tanokura, with costume design by Esther Arroyo, lighting design by Christopher J. Bailey and sound design and composition by Scott Killian.Alan Cumming Goes on Tour!After debuting his solo show at the Café Carlyle earlier this year, Alan Cumming is taking the act, Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs, on the road! The Tony winner will be visiting Indianapolis, Atlantic City, Tampa, Minneapolis and more—check out the full schedule here.Watch Uzo Aduba & Taylor Swift DuetBroadway alum and Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba was the latest big name invited on stage by Taylor Swift during her tour and the resulting duet didn’t disappoint. Check out the video below of the pair singing a mind-blowingly-awesome rendition of Swift’s 2009 break-up song “White Horse.” Aduba will soon be taking on the role of Glinda on NBC’s The Wiz Live! telecast and we’re crossing all fingers and toes her next stop will be the Great White Way… Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 24, 2016
View Comments The Broadway.com staff is crazy for Culturalist, the website that lets you choose and create your own top 10 lists. Every week, we’re challenging you with a new Broadway-themed topic to rank. We know that the only awards you really truly deeply love are the Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards, and we’re with you on that. Nevertheless, Hollywood is having a big night on January 10, when the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards are presented. There are a bazillion categories, but the one closest to our hearts is the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Unfortunately, there are no musicals nominated this year, but there have been some amazing ones that have won that category in the past. This got us thinking that we should ask you to list your fave GG musical winners on ranking site Culturalist.com. Broadway.com Social Media Manager Caitlyn Gallip kicked off this new challenge with her top 10. Now it’s your turn!STEP 1—SELECT: Visit Culturalist to see all of your options. Highlight your 10 favorites and click the “continue” button.STEP 2—RANK: Reorder your 10 choices by dragging them into the correct spot on your list. Click the “continue” button.STEP 3—PREVIEW: You will now see your complete top 10 list. If you like it, click the “publish” button.Once your list is published, you can see the overall rankings of everyone on the aggregate list.Pick your favorites, then tune in for the results next week on Broadway.com!
We can hear the bells…on NBC! The Peacock network may bring the 2002 Tony-winning musical Hairspray to the small screen as its 2016 live broadcast. According to multiple reports, the announcement was made by network honcho Bob Greenblatt at the Television Critics Association press tour.The musical event would be the most contemporary choice from executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, following their presentations of The Wiz, Peter Pan and The Sound of Music. The pair also produced the 2007 movie adaptation, which starred Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta.Based on the 1988 John Waters’ film of the same name, Hairspray follows plus-sized teenager Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore as she attempts to become a cast member of The Corny Collins Show, a popular local dance TV series. Tracy soon finds herself leading a civil rights campaign to integrate the show.Featuring music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, the original Broadway production opened in August 2002 and ran for 2,642 performances. The Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein-led show took home eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. View Comments
View Comments Sara Bareilles, Derek Hough, A. J. McLean & Brian Littrell, Jessie Mueller, Sarah Steele & Vincent Rodriguez III Happy Friday/Liza Minnelli’s birthday eve! We’re sure you have a busy schedule this weekend as you watch countless Liza clips on YouTube (just us?), but let’s kick things off with the Lessons of the Week. From songs about pie to songs about soup, it was a wild seven days on the Great White Way, so lets take a look below at what went down!Sara Bareilles Uses ExtraCare for Ice CreamWith five Grammy noms and a forthcoming Broadway composing debut with Waitress, Sara Bareilles is one fancy lady. But when it comes to sweets, she doesn’t rush to the kitchen for “sugar, butter, flour.” Instead, she goes straight to the frozen aisle at CVS for salted caramel gelato. That sounds great, Bareilles, but hear us out: a warm slice of spiced apple pie with salted caramel gelato sounds far from a bad idea.Jessie Mueller Is a Soup-er SingerForget gelato. Forget pies, even: Jessie Mueller is here to sing about soup. Paintings of soup cans, specifically. The Waitress star, along with fellow Tony winners Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster and Alice Ripley, has recorded songs for Pop! Goes the Easel, inspired by works at the MoMA. It’s like a fantasy Sunday in the Park with George where Mueller is Dot and George is played by the ghost of Andy Warhol. Revival, please?The Humans Needs More VampiresStephen Karam’s The Humans is a chilling exploration of family dynamics, but much to its star Sarah Steele’s dismay, the one thing it lacks is vampires. Karam actually wrote the role of Brigid for her in mind and pitched it to her as a thriller. Alas, there are no monsters or dark princes in The Humans. If Andy Warhol’s beyond-the-grave Sunday revival is out of the question, how about Dance of the Vampires? You in, Steele?BSB Wanna Rock Your Broadway RightEverybody: A Backstreet Boys bio-musical is in the works. At the Disaster! opening night, Brian Littrell spilled all he had to give about the project, describing it as “Jersey Boys meets Cirque Du Soleil with Backstreet Boys.” We have no idea what that means, but we want it that way. So quit playing games, Littrell, and get back to writing a script, or practicing your silks act, or whatever you need to do.Vincent Rodriguez III is Eyein’ BrianWe all have musical theater crushes. Like Aaron Tveit. Or Bernadette Peters in this froyo commercial. For Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Vincent Rodriguez III, it’s Brian d’Arcy James—so much so that his audition book is filled with numbers sung by the Something Rotten! star. Same, Vince. Whether he’s wearing green, a doublet or a crown, we too are in the d’Arcy Army (a name we just made up for a Brian d’Arcy James fanclub).Rachel Tucker Loves Getting BooedIf you’d like to make Rachel Tucker so happy she runs around screaming. here’s a tip. Longtime Wicked principal dresser Kathe Mull revealed that when the cast secretly decorated Tucker’s dressing room in the grand tradition of “boo”ing, the Irish Elphie was positively thrillified. You should hang with Angela Lansbury, Tucker. From the looks of this totally undoctored photo, she loves Halloween, too!Tailors Must Adore Jason DanieleyJason Danieley is back in Chicago, and while he’s only weeks into his second round, he’s already on his third tux. The first, a sort of probation tux, was essentially just draped fabric. He blew out the pants on the second. Now, he’s wearing Huey Lewis’ tux. It’s worth noting Lewis was in the show a full decade ago. Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle, and maybe also a few extra trips to the dry cleaner.Want to Write a Musical? Study Up.There’s no one right way to write a musical. That said, The Color Purple’s Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray found success with a particularly academic approach: reading countless “how-to” books and repeatedly watching Sunday in the Park with George to get into the creating spirit. If you need another person on your writing team for your next project, call us. We have lots of books. And Sunday on DVD!Derek Hough is a Family DreamcasterDerek Hough’s getting ready to sing in the rain on Broadway, but before then, he wants to bop-bee-ba, ba-ba-ba-ba-ba bee-ba for Teenage Baltimore. The DWTS favorite recently told us he would love to take part in NBC’s upcoming live Hairspray. He also has plans of supernova proportions for his sister, Julianne: Frozen on Broadway. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to broadcast your dream roles; look at Norm Lewis!Don’t Bother; Amy Spanger’s Here…If your dream role is Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda, you’ll need but one thing: cooter slams. Okay, two things: cooter slams and a mastery of clown makeup. While getting ready to go on, Amy Spanger showed us her actual clown kit she uses to complete the look. And she’s not the only one going full clown this week. Madonna also embraced her inner jester with a certain Sondheim tune on her concert stage. Isn’t it rich, indeed? Star Files Sara Bareilles
If you want a bluebird and get a Carolina wren, what can you do? What if you hoped fora chickadee and got a crested flycatcher?You can apply some wildlife management knowledge to put the odds on your side.In the case of squirrels versus the screech owl, the squirrels could take the housefrom the owl if they wanted to. A grey squirrel far outweighs a screech owl. And besides,squirrels sometimes eat nestling birds.Both creatures will use a nest box with a three-inch-diameter hole.To favor a screech owl, have the hole in front. To make it easier for a squirrel toenter, put the hole on the side next to the tree trunk.Mounting a nest box on an isolated tree or a post makes it less appealing to squirrels.They would rather come home by jumping from branch to branch than by running along theground.You can increase the chances of getting your favorite bird by putting up lots of birdhouses. That’s because most cavity-nesting birds are territorial.Once you have a crested flycatcher in residence, it will prevent other crestedflycatchers from moving in nearby. The flycatcher needs to guard a sufficient area to findflying insects for its young.A bluebird has a different feeding strategy. It gets its insects primarily from theground, so it doesn’t compete with the flycatcher.A flycatcher will allow a bluebird to occupy a nearby bird box. A chickadee will allowa tufted titmouse to nest nearby but not another chickadee, and so forth.There are exceptions to the territorial rule. Purple martins and house sparrows, forinstance, remain gregarious during the nesting season.Where you put the next box is important. Some birds prefer a nest box up high in thetree. Others seek a box on a post.The size of the hole can be important. It’s easier to select for small birds than largeones. A large hole admits a wider range of species. A small hole limits the choice to onlysmall birds.A bluebird needs a hole at least one and one-half inches. A tufted titmouse can enter aone-and-a-quarter-inch hole. A chickadee can thrive in a house with aone-and-an-eighth-inch hole.Squirrels may enter a house designed for a small bird. They do this by chewing theirway in. To prevent this, cut the correct-size hole in a tin can lid and nail it over thehole.A birdhouse hole doesn’t have to be round. A triangular hole will do just fine and is alot easier to make. Just cut a 60-degree notch at the top of the board in the front ofyour birdhouse. Put the roof board on, and there’s your hole.Spring is a good time to install nest boxes in your backyard wildlife habitat.For free birdhouses specifications, send a letter to: Jeff Jackson, Forest WildlifeSpecialist, Cooperative Extension Service, 4-404 School of Forest Resources, TheUniversity of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. “We put up a nest box for squirrels, and a screech owl moved in. How do we run itoff so we can have squirrels?”To me, that seems like a bizarre request. But that’s the question Wes Smith, theUniversity of Georgia Extension Service director in Quitman County, was asked recently.Most wildlife lovers would rather have the owl. Screech owls are far scarcer and muchmore interesting to me than the squirrels.This question is an unusual example of a common problem. If you put up a nest box forbackyard wildlife, how do you get your heart’s desire to move in?
Homeowners can prevent chinch bug invasions, at least to a degree. Sparks said St. Augustine is chinch bugs’ favorite grass, but they’ve also been found incentipede and Bermuda grass. * Don’t overfertilize. That practically invites chinch bugs into a buffet. “They lovelush, green lawns,” Sparks said. Many people mistake chinch bug damage for mowing too closely or drought damage.Chinch bugs inject a toxin into the grass that kills it quickly. That damage quicklyspreads as the chinch bugs move from the dead grass to other areas in the lawn. * Get rid of thatch. Thick thatch on the turf provides ideal places for chinch bugs tolive while they feast on your lawn. Spittlebugs’ damage is usually more sporadic within a yard. “It’s not necessarily goingto kill out the turf,” she said. “But you can get some browning-out and dying.” Start treating spittlebug damage by mowing your grass closely. The mowing actionpicks up the masses and mixes them with the clippings. Collect the clippings anddispose of them. A properly maintained compost pile will kill any nymphs in theclippings. To find chinch bugs, part the grass and look closely for a fast-moving insect aboutone-sixteenth of an inch long. These tiny insects reproduce fast. That’s part of whytheir damage spreads so quickly. Sparks said spittlebugs’ damage is quickly apparent. “You’ll see small patches dyingout and little frothy masses,” she said. Ah, summertime. The hot days, the dry grass. Sometimes the dying grass. But don’tconfuse grass dying from heat and lack of water with grass killed quickly by tinyinsects’ attack. Both insects use piercing mouthparts to suck the sap from the grass. That loss of liquidand nutrients can cause grass to die in isolated areas. Apply approved pesticides to treat either chinch bugs or spittlebugs. Sparks said towater your lawn first, especially if the grass is already drought-stressed. Then apply anapproved insecticide to the entire lawn and let it dry. The remaining insecticide is mosteffective if left on the grass where it kills both the immature and adult insects. Don’t forget, though, that these are insects, Sparks said. Look for spittlebugs near the soil line of the grass. The insect nymph will be inside anyfrothy masses you might find. “We estimate that lawn care professionals and homeowners spend about $4 million peryear attempting to control and replace the damage caused by chinch bugs,” saidUniversity of Georgia scientist Beverly Sparks. “With spittlebugs, that drops down to about $2.7 million (spent to control them andrepair their damage),” said Sparks, a research and extension entomologist with theUGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “They multiply quickly, and the immature insects feed with the adults,” she said. “Asthey finish eating in one area of grass and it dies, they move out into a fresh area. Andthe damage expands across the yard.” Chinch bugs and spittlebugs invade yards and grassy areas all over the Southeast. “The adults have wings, and new ones can fly into your yard from neighbors’ yards,”she said. “If you find these in your yard, chances are your neighbor has them, too. Andall of you need to coordinate your control programs for them.”
Shoppers’ demand for fresh produce year-round has already increased the supply of imported foods. A University of Georgia scientist said tougher enforcement of a new food safety law may bring even more foods across the border.And with the rising imports may come even more of the pesticide and pathogen problems the law is meant to stop. Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996. The bill reflected the findings of a two-year National Academy of Science study of the effects of pesticides on fruits and vegetables among infants and small children. The FQPA requires the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate every pesticide food tolerance — about 9,000 of them. “These new controls may force more and more of our growers out of business,” said Paul Guillebeau, an Extension Service entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “That would force us to have to import more foods.” The main safety concerns with imported foods usually are bacterial contamination. But pesticides can be a problem, too. “We’re already getting more and more imported foods. And the inspectors are overwhelmed,” Guillebeau said. “They can only test a small sample. Besides, we have little control over other countries’ pesticides uses.” The NAS study changed the focus of pesticide safety from adults to children, he said. “If it’s deemed dangerous to children, a pesticide can’t remain registered as it is.” Pesticides were first registered only individually. And if a pesticide was being registered for use on food, they considered only its effect on food. Now, though, the EPA will consider them in groups. And any nonoccupational use will be counted as part of the food tolerance. “Food tolerances have to consider all those avenues and their effect on children,” Guillebeau said. “It certainly sounds like a good idea. No one is against protecting children. “But the question is: how much is a child exposed if, say, a termite exterminator uses a chemical?” he said. “The situation may appear more dangerous than it is.” From the farmer’s point of view, Guillebeau said, growers will lose important pesticides. They use those products to grow high-quality, affordable food. “EPA had proposed something very drastic like canceling large numbers of organophosphates, carbamates and others, including vital fungicides,” he said. Guillebeau said those chemical groups account for 70 percent of pesticide applications. “Without some of those fungicides, we simply couldn’t produce many of the crops we grow in Georgia,” he said. EPA’s approach to the act was to suddenly take all the suspect chemicals off the market. “It was scary for a while,” Guillebeau said. “Congress had intended a more orderly approach, a more organized, gradual shift away from the pesticides identified as dangerous for children.” Letters from the Senate and House ag subcommittees and Vice President Al Gore have urged EPA to allow farmers more time, technical help and support to devise new pest management plans. “Pesticide action groups are working from the other side,” Guillebeau said. “They hold EPA to a very strict deadline. They hope to get a lot of these things off the market fast. It’s a real political firefight.”
By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaTurf scientists at the University of Georgia are breeding newvarieties of centipede grass using germ plasm collected from thegrass’s homeland, China.In 1999, Wayne Hanna, a researcher with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences, spent 23 days in themost rural areas of China collecting centipede samples.Earl Elsner, former director of the Georgia Seed DevelopmentCommission, accompanied Hanna. Their trip was funded by a $50,000grant from The Turfgrass Group and Patten Seed Company. Buffalos made search challengingEven though centipede is native to China, it was a chore for theresearchers to find samples. The researchers targeted collection sites in shady areas andalong the coastal salt marshes. “These samples can be used tobreed new varieties with shade and drought tolerance,” Hannasaid.Each night Hanna turned his hotel room into a makeshift lab. Hedried the grass samples on the lampshade, threshed the grass andcareful placed the samples in labeled collection bags.These collection bags were later inspected at the airport, takento Washington, D.C., and returned to Hanna at his UGA lab inTifton, Ga.Germ plasm now available to all scientistsThe UGA research team collected centipede samples from 53 sitesin China. They were helped on the trip by Nanjiang BotanicalGardens researcher Jianxiu Liu, with whom they shared thecollected samples.”We now have germ plasm for our research and for the (U.S.Department of Agriculture) national seed bank,” Hanna said. “Andwe have the Chinese people to thank for the success of our trip.They were very warm, cordial and friendly.”Earl (Elsner) taught our hosts to say ‘goober’ in Englishbecause all the meals included fried peanuts,” Hanna said. “Andthey served us the best-tasting fried peanuts I’ve ever had.” Trip planned before doors closed”We had been breeding new centipede varieties, but we needed moregerm plasm to build from,” he said. “When countries began havingrestrictions for plant collection, I knew I’d better hurry up andget over there before it became impossible to do so.”Since the collection trip five years ago, Hanna has used the germplasm to develop two new experimental varieties, a winter-hardycentipede and a shade-tolerant centipede.The shade-tolerant variety, which can withstand 40-percentcontinuous shade, should be available to the public in three tofive years.Centipede grass first came to the United States in 1918, Hannasaid. It’s known for its ability to grow on sandy and poor soils.”It will grow where very little else will grow,” Hanna said.While in China, Hanna relied heavily on advice from the localpeople.”We flew into cities in southern China, and for each collectiontrip we would work our way by car 50 to 100 miles in eachdirection from the city,” he said. “We’d stop and talk to thelocals and follow their directions through the rice patties.” “The buffalo eat the centipede seed heads down. So we had tosearch for samples under small trees, in thorny bushes and oncliffs where they can’t reach,” he said. “We were able to find italong streambanks and trails and in rice patty levees wherebuffalo walk. Centipede grass was scattered all over China by thebuffalos.”
University of GeorgiaForestry will be the focus of the sixth annual Upper Suwannee River Watershed Initiative Water Summit Jan. 25 in Tifton, Ga.”This year we want to look at this important industry and explore what’s being done to protect the water, soil and air resources within the Upper Suwannee River Basin,” said Gary Hawkins, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension engineer.Participants can receive pesticide and forestry registration credits.The summit will be at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. Registration is $30 before Jan. 16 or $40 after. For more information, call (229) 386-3416. Or, go to the Web site (www.ugatiftonconference.org/events.htm).
In connection with a salmonella investigation, the Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers against eating processed foods made with peanut butter. The country already had a large surplus of peanuts. With any decline in consumption now, that stockpile will grow, says a University of Georgia peanut expert.“It’s never a good time to have anything like this, especially when there is consumer concern for health. But it comes at a particularly bad time considering the rather large surplus of peanuts last season’s bumper crop produced,” said Nathan Smith, an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Tons of surplus nutsU.S. peanut farmers produced 2.58 million tons of peanuts in 2008, a record crop, Smith said. This helped create what is now growing to be an 800,000-ton surplus. Because of the way the crop is bought and sold before becoming food, the industry likes to keep 300,000 tons to 400,000 tons in the pipeline as a buffer against a major crop loss. In recent years, peanut consumption has increased annually. In fact, consumption was on track to be 6 percent more than in 2007, or around 2.24 million tons. Average annual peanut consumption in the U.S. is 6.5 pounds per person.Fewer peanuts plantedBefore the FDA warning, the peanut industry was adjusting to the surplus. Because of it, farmers are expected to plant fewer peanuts this year and produce less than the U.S. consumes in a year, eating into that surplus, Smith said. That would be in a typical year, one without a decline in consumer consumption.“It’s too early to tell how the FDA warning will impact consumption this year,” Smith said. “We were probably on our way to correcting the supply and demand gap we have with this year’s crop, but now it may take another year to do that.”The peanut stockpile has already affected farmers’ prices.Last year at this time, farmers could contract peanuts for $500 a ton, some as high as $600 a ton. There are no contracts being offered right now for the ’09 crop. A farmer that sees a contract above $400 per ton this year should think hard about taking it, Smith said. Prices may not get much higher for a while. As part of the warning, the FDA now lists more than 125 products containing peanut paste, which has been linked to a Peanut Corp. of America plant in south Georgia.Consumers can find a list of the suspect products at the FDA’s Web site www.fda.gov. Jarred peanut butter is considered safe and not part of the safety alert.
More than 200 species of stink bugs call North America home. As many as 60 species live in Georgia. One more was recently discovered in southern South Carolina. The brown marmorated stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys, will likely soon invade Georgia, according to a University of Georgia entomologist. “If people thought the invasion of the kudzu bug was bad, just wait,” said Rick Hoebeke, associate curator and manager of the insect collection at the Georgia Museum of Natural History. The kudzu bug invaded Georgia in 2009. So called because it munches on the infamous kudzu, but it also like soybeans, a valuable Georgia crop. Like the kudzu bug, the brown marmorated is an invader, originating from Asia. It likely found its way to America on a freight container or smuggled in merchandise. Today it is reported in 33 states, including Oregon, California, South Carolina and Florida. “This stink bug spreads very rapidly by either hitchhiking or through its own powers of dispersal,” Hoebeke said. “It’s one of the best hitchhiker pests I know of.”Hoebeke recently left New York and Cornell University to join the department of entomology at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He didn’t bring the bug with him, but he was the first entomologist to identify it in North America. Discovered in 2001A brown marmorated stink bug adult is half an inch long and dark mottled brown. Distinct light bands mark its antennae. Exposed areas of the abdomen are dark and light banded. Females lay clusters of light green, barrel-shaped eggs on the undersides of leaves. In Asia, four generations can be produced in a single season. Georgia may be warm enough to foster three broods a season, meaning the population will increase faster than it has in Pennsylvania and Maryland. First officially reported in Allentown, Pa. in 2001, its numbers soon escalated into the thousands, Hoebeke said. “I went to Allentown to collect samples, and they were everywhere,” he said. “They were flying, crawling. People were sweeping them off their porches into large buckets by the hundreds.” Pest of peopleFall could draw these insects inside homes. Temperatures that dip into the 40s push insects indoors, according to Dan Horton, an entomologist with UGA Cooperative Extension. “Bugs behave not that dissimilar from you and me. If you need a jacket or heavy long-sleeved shirt, creatures will be looking to warm-up too,” Horton said. “We are not too far from a cold snap of having them looking to head inside.” If you do find them indoors try not to squash them. As their name implies, they emit stink. “This is a much larger stink bug than the kudzu bug and is more likely to have more of a gross-out factor for homeowners who find the intruder in their living room,” Horton said. “Homeowner encounters will be the first source of our concern.” Pest of foodThe stink bug will look for food sources beginning next spring. “In the Asian literature, the insect is a nuisance pest as well as an agricultural pest because of its propensity to feed on numerous vegetable and row crops, and fruits and ornamentals,” Hoebeke said. “It has the potential to be a threat to Georgia’s agricultural industry if established populations reach large numbers as in the North. They have sucking mouthparts to feed on fruits causing the fruit to dimple and the flesh to rot.” In 2010, Maryland and Pennsylvania reported serious damage to apple and grape harvests. “This is like the invasion of the kudzu bug II, a small, curious little creature, which can be bad if you have 700 in your house, but it could be a bigger problem if it feeds on our agricultural products,” Horton said. Cross the borderWhen this newest stink bug does cross the stateline, citizen scientists can help. Both Hoebeke and Horton want to document the establishment and spread of this invasive species in Georgia and to alert proper agricultural authorities with up-to-date information. Send digital images of a suspected stink bug to [email protected] Ship specimens in a crush-proof container to E. R. Hoebeke, Collection of Arthropods, Georgia Museum of Natural History, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., 30602. To prepare the insect for the trip, capture one alive, place it in a container and put it in the freezer to kill it. Then carefully wrap and mail it. Please include the city or town the stink bug was collected in, date of collection and contact information.
Fall is rapidly approaching, and homeowners will soon be interseeding or overseeding their lawns. Interseeding vs. overseedingInterseeding is the practice of seeding the same species into itself to increase lawn thickness and recover lost grass. For example, tall fescue is interseeded into tall fescue in the fall to improve the overall quality of the lawn, which may have declined through the summer stress period. Different cultivars may be used, but the turfgrass species should be the same. Core aeration is a common practice prior to interseeding, particularly in tall fescue. The benefits include exchanging soil and air, relieving compaction, increasing water filtration and improving planting or seedbed conditions. Overseeding is the practice of temporarily introducing a second turfgrass species – typically a cool-season grass – into a permanent species – typically a warm-season species. This is done to add winter color or traffic tolerance. An example would be overseeding a bermudagrass baseball field in the fall with perennial ryegrass, for a green field in the early spring. The second species can compete with the permanent species for light, water, space or nutrients, so overseeding can become an additional stress during green-up in the spring. Of the warm-season turfgrasses, bermudagrass is best adapted to and most tolerant of overseeding. Grasses that only have stolons and no rhizomes, like centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass, should not be overseeded. Successful overseeding involves growing healthy grass prior to overseeding; proper seed and seeding rate selection; overseeding timing and preparation; post planting maintenance; and effective spring transition. It is particularly important to maintain proper soil fertility, relieve soil compaction and prevent excessive thatch development.Choose wiselyOverseeding selection involves selecting grasses that are suited to particular needs. Annual ryegrass has been replaced by perennial ryegrasses because of improved turf quality, color, stress and pest tolerance, and manageability. “Intermediate” ryegrasses tend to perform as the name implies – somewhere between annual and perennial ryegrass. Unfortunately, most are more like annual ryegrass, not half way between the two. Overseeding rates generally range between 5 and 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet in lawns. In higher traffic situations, like sports fields and golf courses, the seeding range is between 8 and 12 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Use certified (blue tag) seed that is free of weed species to maintain quality turf. Use seed treated with fungicides, like Apron, particularly for early fall overseeding since seedling blight diseases can be a problem.The 10-pound seeding rate generally provides a suitable lawn for fall use, while the 5-pound rate provides a thinner lawn and may not provide coverage until spring. Seeding rate generally relates to desired appearance and intended traffic or use. Higher traffic areas need higher seeding rates, but may lead to more difficult spring transition. Balancing seeding rate with need and desired appearance can affect bermudagrass the following spring.Proper timing of overseeding should result in a gradual transition from the warm-season turf to the cool-season turf. Overseed when soil temperatures are approaching 75 degrees F at a 4-inch depth, night temperatures fall into the 50s, average, midday temperatures are in the mid-70s or two to for weeks before the average, annual, first-killing frost date.Good soil contactInsure success by having good soil to seed contact. Prepare the seedbed by closely mowing or scalping with some light, vertical mowing. Then blow, sweep or vacuum loose plant debris from the soil surface. Generally, the more the turf is opened, the better the establishment rate and the more competitive the cool-season turf will be in the spring. Seed that germinates in thatch or above the soil surface is more likely to dry-out and die.After dragging the seed into the soil, lightly water to maintain good surface moisture and get the seed to germinate. Irrigate three to five times per day until the seedlings are well established. The total amount of water applied during a day would seldom exceed half an inch. Irrigate without causing puddling on the soil surface, as extra water encourages disease. After germination, gradually reduce the frequency and increase the time of irrigation until a normal irrigation program can be established. Begin mowing when seedling height is 30 percent higher than desired. Use a mower with sharp blades and mow when the grass is dry to reduce seedling injury. Use a rotary-type mower for the first mowing to insure seedlings are cut and not ripped. Transitioning to a reel-type mower after the second or third mowing will produce a high-quality appearance.Fertilize after seedling emergence (generally three weeks after seeding). Earlier fertilizing may encourage warm-season turf competition. One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month is adequate. Use a soil test report to find out how much phosphorus is needed. For more information on how to manage turfgrass lawns in Georgia, see the UGA turfgrass website www.GeorgiaTurf.com.
Pecan scab — a fungal disease — reduced Georgia’s projected pecan crop by almost half this year. That’s extra motivation for Patrick Conner, who’s attempting to breed a scab-resistant pecan variety at the University of Georgia Tifton campus.“We had serious losses this year because of all the rain and pecan scab,” Conner said. “We’re trying to combine high scab resistance with large nut size and high quality.”Developing a new pecan variety that’s resistant to scab, which thrived due to excess rainfall this past summer, has not been an easy task for Conner. The disease affected two of Georgia’s most common pecan cultivars — Desirable and Stuart trees — but the disease is not uniform across tree varieties.“It’s extremely difficult because scab is native to this region, and it’s co-evolved with pecans. What we’ve found in doing tests is that there’s not just one kind of scab. There are multiple races of scab, so if you take scab off a Stuart tree and put it on a Desirable tree, the Desirable tree is resistant to that Stuart scab and vice versa,” Conner said. “Just as there are lots and lots of different cultivars of pecans, there are many, many races of scab.”Scab has long been a problem for pecan farmers throughout the state and is a reason the breeding program started in 1999. For the first six to nine years of the program, Conner crossed different varieties and planted the resulting seeds. Because it takes several years for the tree to become large enough to start bearing fruit, it’s only been the last five or six years that UGA scientists have been able to rate the breeding program trees for the size and quality of their nuts. Those with the best nut quality and good scab resistance are now being placed into yield trials to determine if they are productive enough to use for commercial pecan production. Of about 12,000 seedlings planted, Conner has kept 17 selections for yield trials.“It takes so much time and effort to do yield trials, you really only want to keep ones you think have a chance as being released as a new cultivar,” Conner said.Conner hopes that he can release one of these scab-resistant cultivars within the next five years.“I think it’ll be a good seller if it does go out. Different growers have different needs in what they’re looking for in their operation. Middle Georgia, for instance, has much less scab problems than, say the Albany or Valdosta area. For them, maybe something that’s higher quality and higher yielding might be more important than scab resistance,” Conner said.Along with trying to produce a scab-resistant cultivar, Conner has also worked with producing very early-yielding cultivars, so that Georgia farmers will have pecans ready to harvest in September rather than October. In many years, the earlier the pecans can be collected and sold, the higher the price will be for farmers. Early harvest is one advantage Georgia has over the Western pecan region. The state’s crop already is harvested much earlier, when the demand is higher.Conner is also looking at establishing a cultivar that’s more regular in bearing its fruit year after year. Pecan trees are notorious for producing a crop that is strong one year and not as strong the next. Conner is crossing cultivars that are more regular in bearing fruit with a goal to find more consistent-bearing varieties.For more information about UGA’s pecan breeding program on the Tifton campus, see caes.uga.edu/commodities/fruits/pecanbreeding.
Summer break is almost over. That’s right — no more late nights, naps during the day and, my favorite, living without a schedule. While I hate to remind you that our time will no longer be our own, I hope to make it easier for parents, as well as teachers, to return to their respective routines, which includes getting children back to school.As parents, we are instrumental in our children’s educational success. There are some things we can do to prepare little ones for success in the classroom.Establish a routine early. Begin earlier bed- and wake-up times one week prior to returning to school. It may be tempting to let them hang out until they drop and then sleep late the following day, but it will also be more difficult for them to go to bed and get up when they do have to adhere to a schedule.Budget educational time. My second-grader must read and complete worksheets daily. I have also added educational apps to his tablet. I have found the absence of anything educational for two months makes the transition back to school more difficult.Maintaining educational time for middle schoolers is a tad more difficult, but it is possible. My daughter must practice her instrument, and she is working on poster ideas for the upcoming 4-H Demonstration Project Achievement. For my high schooler, I impress upon him the importance of good grades (he has two years left in high school), upcoming projects, tests and milestone achievements. It also helps that college football will return soon — I use that to try to captivate his interest in college and discuss his future plans as well.If structured educational activities haven’t been part of your schedule, try to add a few to the last weeks of summer vacation to ease the transition.Wake up early on the big day. No matter how well you plan, something will go awry. Waking the children up earlier will leave time for that lost belt, slow start or just to work out the excitement of returning to school. It will also leave you less stressed when something doesn’t go as planned.Eat a good breakfast. No one knows better than me how difficult it is to get children to their designated place at the right time. Skipping breakfast to save time is not the answer. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child has a balanced meal before going to school. According to research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Children that have eaten a nutritious breakfast have energy, improved concentration and better grades.” I have found that preparing food the night before really helps.Provide the pep talk. A pep talk can include the rules of engagement in the classroom. My aunt always reminded me to listen to the teacher, keep my hands to myself, complete my work and avoid talking in class. Remind your children of these same things. You may sound like a broken record, but children are not little adults and they require reminders. Your child’s teacher will thank you.Make homework a priority. Going back to school will bring with it the return of homework. Identify expectations regarding homework. In my home, homework must be completed prior to any extracurricular activities. It is also a good idea to take inventory of school supplies. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I couldn’t find a pencil or a sharpener” as an excuse for not completing homework.From one excited parent to another, good luck as we tackle the first nine weeks of the 2017-2018 school year.
The national push to save pollinating insects has brought the plight of the honeybee and the art of beekeeping to the forefront. Those interested in becoming a beekeeper, as well as established beekeepers who need certification, can learn the latest research-based information at the annual Beekeeping Institute, May 22-25, at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia.A joint partnership between Young Harris College and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the event has provided the latest information on beekeeping and how to keep hives healthy and productive for more than two decades.UGA Honey Bee Program Director Keith Delaplane and Young Harris College biology professor Paul Arnold developed the institute to help Southeastern beekeepers tackle emerging problems.The event provides classes for novice beekeepers and experts, and offers testing for beekeepers seeking Georgia Master Beekeeping certification. Through collaboration with the Welsh National Bee Keepers’ Association, certification training will also be available for North America’s licensing program for honey judges.Special guest instructors this year will include entomologists Francis Ratnieks, the United Kingdom’s first professor of apiary, David Tarpy, professor or entomology at North Carolina State University, and beekeeping author and American Bee Journal columnist Wyatt Mangum. To register for the institute or for a detailed program, go to bees.caes.uga.edu.
Green Mountain Power Corporation (NYSE:GMP) today announced consolidated earnings of $1.98 per share of common stock, diluted, in 2002 compared to consolidated earnings of $1.85 per share, diluted, in 2001. Reduced power supply expenses, declines in other operating expenses and lower interest and preferred stock dividend costs more than offset reduced operating revenues in 2002, compared to 2001.”Year-end financial results for 2002 were strong,” said Christopher L. Dutton, President and Chief Executive Officer, “and we anticipate similar earnings for 2003. We are particularly pleased to have an opportunity to achieve these results without the need for an increase in rates for our customers.”Total operating revenues for 2002 declined by $8.9 million due to decreased wholesale sales of $13.2 million and a reduction in other operating revenues of $1.7 million, offset in part by increased retail operating revenues. Retail operating revenues increased by $6 million, or 3.0 percent, for 2002 as compared to 2001, reflecting recognition of $4.4 million of deferred revenue from rate leveling discussed below and increased sales to higher-margin residential and commercial customers that more than offset a decline in sales to IBM.The Vermont Public Service Board’s January 2001 rate order (the last time the Company’s rates increased) allowed the Company to use additional revenues of approximately $8.5 million, generated by leveling winter/summer rates during 2001, to help offset costs and realize its allowed rate of return during the 2001-2003 period. In 2002, the Company recognized approximately $4.4 million of these additional revenues. The Company expects to recognize in 2003 all of its remaining $4.1 million in deferred revenues collected in 2001.Power supply costs were $7.6 million lower in 2002, compared to 2001, reflecting a decrease in wholesale sales and decreased costs under a power supply arrangement with Hydro-Quebec, which were offset in part by increased costs under the Company’s arrangement with Morgan Stanley that hedges exposure to increases in the price of fossil fuels, and increased costs of power from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.Other operating expenses decreased by $1.7 million in 2002, compared to 2001, primarily due to reductions in administrative and general costs. These savings were offset by increased maintenance expense of $1.7 million in 2002, compared to 2001, caused by higher costs of maintaining rights of way and increased storm-related costs.During the fourth quarter of 2002, the Company successfully completed a Dutch Auction self tender offer for approximately 812,000 shares (approximately 14 percent of its common shares outstanding) and a $42 million debt issuance used to finance the equity repurchase and repay substantially all of the Company’s short-term debt. “The completion of our capital restructuring program has helped reduce our cost of capital and is instrumental to our expectations that we can avoid increasing costs to our customers during 2003,” said Mr. Dutton. Earnings for 2002 benefited from a $0.9 million decline in interest expense and a reduction in preferred dividends of $0.8 million compared to 2001, due to the redemption of nearly all outstanding preferred equity as part of the Company’s capital restructuring efforts.“We are extremely pleased with the performance of the Company’s stock during 2002,” added Mr. Dutton. “We have positioned ourselves principally as a distribution company with a strong focus on using technology to improve customer satisfaction. We have room to grow our dividend over time, while at the same time protecting customers and investors by limiting risk, and focusing management efforts on our core electric business.”
Following a stint as a research assistantfor UVM’s Department of Community Development and Applied Economics,Dugan spent six years working as a legislative liaison for the Vermont Leagueof Cities and Towns before joining DHCA in 2001. Dugan was promoted in 2002 to Directorof the Vermont Community Development Program; the program which administers thestate’s allocation of federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD)Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, approximately $8 millionannually. Dugan, 38, of Richmond,is a 1990 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, whereshe majored in Resource Economics and Political Science. She received herMaster of Public Administration from the University of Vermontin 1996. “I am very excited to haveMolly moving into this position,” Hall said. “She has been anoutstanding leader at the Vermont Community Development Program, and I’msure that she will continue her success as deputy of the entiredepartment.” Dugan replaces Jim Saudade, who waspromoted to deputy secretary under Kevin Dorn, Secretary of the Agency ofCommerce and Community Development, where the Department of Housing andCommunity Affairs is located. MONTPELIER, Vt. – Thehead of the state’s Community Development Program has been named DeputyCommissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs. — 30 — During her tenure Dugan was involvedin the implementation of several high-profile projects involving CDBG funding,including the Winooski downtown redevelopment project. She administered a federal FmHAhousing and farm loan and grant program in New Hampshirebefore relocating to Vermontin 1993. While obtaining her graduate degree, she was an intern inthen-Governor Howard Dean’s office. Dugan named Deputy Commissioner ofHousing and Community Affairs Molly Dugan, who has worked in thedepartment since 2001, will take over the position on August 21, said DHCACommissioner John Hall. “I’m pleased and honoredto have this opportunity, and look forward to working with Commissioner Halland the entire Housing and Community Affairs team,” Dugan said.“This department is a critical part of the Agency’s and GovernorDouglas’ efforts to strengthen Vermont’scommunities.”
The Vermont Aerospace and Aviation Association (VAAA) will hold an Open House event at the Vermont Army Aviation Support Facility behind the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington on Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 3 – 5 p.m. Join Lt. Governor and VAAA Chair Brian Dubie for an exciting and informative afternoon. Hear updates in the industry from Gary Loftus of the Goodrich Corporation, Jerry Johnson, Chief Engineer at Sikorsky, and Jason Blais of JobsinVT.com.The VAAA is managed by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce; it was established in an effort to promote and grow aerospace and aviation in the Green Mountain State. Quarterly networking meetings are held at aviation facilities around the state to provide important updates in aviation and aerospace. Date: Thursday, June 18, 2009Time: 3 – 5 p.m.Location: Vermont Army Aviation Support Facility, South Burlington
Source: August 17, 2009. WATERBURY, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Following announcements that they would be moving their corporate headquarters from Waterbury, Vermont, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have revealed that the company will nonetheless remain in Vermont.According to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had been planning to relocate out of state, possibly to Seattle, Boston, or Tennessee. The company ultimately chose not to leave Vermont, although it declined to explain what factors were involved in its final decision, or what towns and cities were being considered for the new headquarters.The company said that its CEO, legal department, information technology, finance and corporate-responsibility teams, in addition to sections of human resources, will all be making the move. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters also said that the move would not lesson the importance of their Waterbury facility. The product development team will expand into Waterbury and the village will serve as base for the special coffee business unitGreen Mountain Coffee Roasters also announced that it has chosen Sumner, Washington as the future location for a new manufacturing and distribution facility for its specialty coffee Business unit. The new leased site will support the continued expansion of the Tully s Coffee brand and wholesale business, the national expansion of other brands and the growth of the company s single-cup business. We are extremely excited about joining the Sumner community and are grateful for the support we received from the State of Washington Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and the City of Sumner, said Jon Wettstein, VP of Supply Chain Operations for GMCR s Specialty Coffee Business Unit. Our investment in a new, modern site in Sumner will complement our existing facilities in our home state of Vermont and in Knox County, Tennessee. It will allow us to accommodate the significant growth and expansion we are planning for the Tully s business, as well as for the expansion of our other brands on the West Coast.The Sumner site is the latest in a series of expansions for GMCR s Specialty Coffee Business Unit. In 2007, new K-Cup production lines were added to its Waterbury plant, and the Company opened a second manufacturing site in Essex, Vermont. In September 2008, the Company opened a facility in Knox County, TN and is in the process of expanding operations there. The Sumner facility is expected to be operational this fall. There are many great cities in Washington, and after an extensive search, GMCR chose Sumner, said Mayor Dave Enslow. That is quite an honor for us, and we re so pleased to welcome GMCR as part of our community.
Source: CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– 10.6.2009 Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine named Lawrence J. Blanford, President and CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR), 2009 Responsible CEO of the Year in the Mid-Cap category. The Mid-Cap category includes medium-sized, public companies (sales between $100 million and $2 billion). Mr. Blanford will accept the award tonight at the publication s annual summit in Chicago. I am honored to receive this award on behalf of all GMCR employees, said Mr. Blanford. Our Company s purpose is to change the way the world views business, and demonstrate that profitability goes hand-in-hand with social and environmental responsibility. It s a great tribute to see our efforts recognized by an organization that celebrates these ideals.The CEO Awards recognize extraordinary accomplishments in corporate sustainability, governance, compliance, CSR, and philanthropy. GMCR s whole system approach to corporate social responsibility includes donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects in local and coffee-growing communities; maintaining a robust employee volunteerism program; offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions and investing in Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffee.Before joining GMCR in 2007, Mr. Blanford was CEO at Royal Group Technologies Ltd., a Canadian building-supply company. Prior to the Royal Group, he was President and CEO of Philips Consumer Electronics North America.GMCR was ranked 11th on Fortune s 2009 list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies. Earlier this year, Forbes.com named the Company one of the 100 Most Trustworthy Companies based on its transparent accounting practices and prudent management.About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR)As a leader in the specialty coffee industry, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR s operations are managed through two business units. The Specialty Coffee business unit produces coffee, tea and hot cocoa from its family of brands, including Tully s Coffee®, Green Mountain Coffee® and Newman s Own® Organics coffee. The Keurig business unit is a pioneer and leading manufacturer of gourmet single-cup brewing systems. K-Cup® portion packs for Keurig® Single-Cup Brewers are produced by a variety of licensed roasters, including Green Mountain Coffee and Tully s Coffee. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in Fair Trade Certified ¢ coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects. Visit www.GreenMountainCoffee.com(link is external) and www.Keurig.com(link is external) for more information.
Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, chairman of the National Governors Association, testified today before the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. The hearing, titled State Taxation: The Impact of Congressional Legislation on State and Local Government Revenues, focused on the impact of federal actions on state and local taxing and spending decisions. Douglas told the panel that, unlike the federal government, states need to balance their budgets. To that goal, congressional attempts to stimulate the economy must keep in mind that the states will play a vital role in the recovery effort and that Congress must first “do no harm.” Douglas went on to say that the states as a whole saw a 7.5 percent drop in revenues in the last fiscal year. And even though the downturn started in late 2007, the negative cumulative effect on state budgets will continue through 2010 and 2011.”What these budgets show,” Douglas told the committee, “is that from a state fiscal standpoint, the worst is yet to come.”Governor Douglas’ Remarks:Testimony of Vermont Governor Jim DouglasChair, National Governors AssociationBefore the House Judiciary CommitteeSubcommittee on Commercial and Administrative LawU.S. House of RepresentativesState Taxation: The Impact of Congressional Legislation on State and LocalGovernment RevenuesApril 15, 2010Chairman Cohen, Ranking Member Franks, and members of the Subcommittee, thankyou for inviting me to testify today. On behalf of the nation’s governors and theresidents of my home state of Vermont, I appreciate you holding this hearing to explorethe fiscal condition of states and the effect Congressional action can have on our fiscalhealth.The bottom line is this: decisions about state revenue systems and state taxation shouldbe made by elected officials in the states. This principle is particularly important now asstates are working to emerge from a recession that has reduced state revenues to pre-2006 levels. Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets. Thisrequires states to make up for lost or decreased revenues by either cutting services andspending or raising revenues. Both actions, cutting services or raising taxes, can slowrecovery. As this committee, and Congress as a whole, considers legislation to spur theeconomy, create jobs or promote competitiveness, it should do so with an eye towardsthe critical role states play in promoting recovery. More specifically, legislation thatwould impact state taxes or taxing authority should adhere to the principles of “do noharm,” preserve flexibility, be clear and find the win-win so that states may continue tomanage their fiscal futures.Fiscal Condition of StatesThe fiscal condition of states started deteriorating rapidly when the recession began atthe end of 2007. In fact, repeatedly since the downturn started, states have had tolower revenue projections and make spending adjustments to meet balanced budgetrequirements. Governors in most states are in the process of finalizing or have justcompleted their budgets for fiscal year 2011, and in some cases 2012. What thesebudgets show is that from a state fiscal standpoint, the worst is yet to come.Previous downturns have demonstrated that the worst budget years for a state are thetwo years immediately after the national recession is declared over. This lag occursbecause state revenues continue to decline and state expenditures for safety netprograms continue to rise until after unemployment levels peak. However, unlike therecession earlier this decade, states’ recovery from the current recession may be prolonged,with most economists projecting a slow and potentially jobless nationalrecovery. Moreover, even when recovery begins, states will continue to strugglebecause they will need to replenish retiree pension and health care trust funds andfinance maintenance, technology, and infrastructure investments that were deferredduring the crisis. They will also need to rebuild contingency or rainy day funds and bothimplement and eventually pay a portion of the Medicaid expansion under national healthcare reform. Taken together, these facts mean that many states will not fully recoverfrom this recession until much later this decade.The Current Situation – The recent national economic downturn started in December2007 and likely ended around September 2009, making it the deepest and longestdownturn since the Great Depression. The slowdown directly affected state taxcollections, which according to the Rockefeller Institute declined for five consecutivequarters beginning in the last quarter of calendar year 2008 and extending through all of2009, with reductions of 3.9, 11.6, 16.4, 10.9 and 4.1 percent respectively. Thesefindings are consistent with the NGA/NASBO Fiscal Survey of States estimate that staterevenues declined 7.5 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2009, which for most states endedJune 30, 2009.Similarly, Medicaid spending, which accounts for about 22 percent of state budgets,averaged 7.9 percent growth in FY 2009, its highest rate since the end of the lastdownturn six years ago. Medicaid enrollment is also spiking, with projected growth of6.6 percent in FY 2010 compared with 5.4 percent in 2009.What these falling revenues and increasing expenditures create are budget gaps –holes in state budgets that must be reconciled to meet balanced budget requirements.The Fiscal Survey of States shows states closed budget gaps of $72.7 billion in FY2009 and $89.8 billion in FY 2010. This includes tax and fee increases of $23.9 billion in2010. Even with cuts and tax increases, states continue to experience new budgetshortfalls including more than $18.9 billion remaining for FY 2010, $55 billion projectedfor 2011 and $61 billion projected for 2012. All told, the combined remaining budgetgaps that must be filled for 2010 through 2012 equal $136 billion.For fiscal year 2011, Vermont faces a shortfall of approximately $154 million – roughly14% out of a General Fund budget of approximately $1.1 billion. In just over a year,more than 10,000 jobs have been lost and last year median family income fell nearly$2,000 from the year before. Although Vermont’s unemployment rate is among thelowest in the nation, our workforce is shrinking and too many are underemployed. As aresult, state revenues are $20 million below 2006 levels and a staggering $100 millionbelow where they were at the height of the economic bubble in 2008.While Vermonters have found it harder to pay the bills, our General Fund programshave seen unsustainable increases and new pressures. Demand for human serviceswill grow by $50 million, pension contributions are projected to increase by $29 million,and $75 million in federal recovery funds relied on for this year will no longer beavailable. With revenues not expected to return to pre-recession levels until 2013, ourfiscal crisis extends far beyond today. Without sustainable reductions, the fiscal 2012shortfall will balloon to over a quarter billion dollars – more than we spend on economicdevelopment, environmental protection, public safety, and higher education combined.Governors are making and have already made tough but necessary decisions toaddress these daunting challenges, including streamlining services, cutting programs,and reducing the state workforce. In Vermont, we are getting close to the end of ourlegislative session and we’re debating controversial but necessary proposals such asalternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and I’m fighting hard to resistlegislative proposals to increase taxes on struggling manufacturers.The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – State fiscal conditions wouldhave been worse if not for the passage of ARRA. Of the $787 billion in ARRA funds,about $246 billion came to or through states in more than 40 programs. Most important,the $87 billion in Medicaid funds and the $48 billion in state stabilization funds wereflexible and allowed states to offset some planned budget cuts and tax increases.Specifically, the Medicaid funds allowed states greater flexibility to manage state fundsallocated for Medicaid while the stabilization funds targeted help for elementary,secondary, and higher education, which represents about one-third of state spending.Without these funds, state budget cuts and tax increases would have been much moredraconian. In fact, given the ongoing fiscal problems in states, 47 governors recentlysigned a letter supporting a two-quarter extension of ARRA’s enhanced FMAP funding.Such an extension would help states avoid some cuts or tax increases that wouldotherwise be necessary to balance 2011 budgets.My own state of Vermont has received more $700 million dollars in Recovery Actdollars; $500 million of which was paid out before December 31, 2009 and helpedsupport more than 2,000 jobs.The Recovery Period – While there is still uncertainty regarding the shape of therecovery, there is a growing consensus that it will be slow. Numerous studies projectthat state revenues will likely not recover until 2014 or 2015. A recent forecast by MarkZandi at Economy.com showed that the national unemployment rate, which straddled5.5 percent during 2001–2007, will not attain that level again until 2014. Similarly,Zandi’s latest forecast indicated that state revenues will not return to the 2008 level inreal terms until FY 2013.Deferred Investments – Even when recovery begins in the 2014–2015 period, states willbe faced with a huge “over-hang” in needs and will have to accelerate payments intotheir retiree pension and health care trust funds, as well as fund deferred maintenanceand technology and infrastructure investments. They will also have to rebuildcontingency or rainy day funds. All of these needs were postponed or deferred duringthe 2009–2011 period and will have to be made up toward the end of the decade.According to a 2007 Pew Center on the States report, states have an outstandingliability of about $2.73 trillion in employee retirement, health, and other benefits comingdue over the next several decades, of which more than $1 trillion is unfunded.What all of this means is states will continue to struggle over the rest of this decadebecause of the combination of the length and depth of this economic downturn, theprojected slow recovery, and the additional Medicaid responsibilities. Even after statesbegin to see the light, they will face the “over-hang” of unmet needs accumulated during the downturn.With states having entered the recession in 2008, revenue shortfallspersisting into 2014, and a need to backfill deferred investments into core statefunctions, states will need maximum flexibility to manage their fiscal systems in order tofully emerge from the current recession.Principles for federal legislation related to state taxationGovernors believe federal action should favor the preservation of state sovereigntywhen legislating or regulating activity in the states. This is particularly true when itcomes to actions that affect the ability of states to manage their revenue systems. Theindependent ability of states to develop and manage their own revenue systems is abasic tenet of our federal system. Therefore, the federal government should avoidlegislation and regulations that would serve to preempt or prohibit, either directly orindirectly, sources of state revenues or state taxation methods that are otherwiseconstitutional.Since adoption of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has generally respected statesovereignty with regard to state taxes. Unfortunately, that trend has begun to changeover the last few years as Congress has increasingly restricted the rights of states todetermine their own tax structure. Recent legislative examples include the moratoriumon the taxation of charges for Internet access, prohibiting the taxation of nonresidentpension income, and the accelerated elimination of the state estate tax credit.As this committee considers whether to take up legislation related to state taxation,governors encourage the committee to review all proposals in light of the followingprinciples:• Do no harm: Legislation dealing with state taxing authority should notdisproportionately reduce existing state revenues. This principle is especiallyimportant at a time when states are cutting core services to meet balancedbudget requirements. Federal unfunded mandates or limits on state authority willonly exacerbate the fiscal problems states currently face.• Preserve flexibility: The fiscal crisis is forcing all governors and states to askfundamental questions about the role of government. These questions will leadto changes at the state level that could have long-term, positive effects on thedelivery of services, modernizing revenue systems and holding governmentaccountable. States should not be hindered in their pursuit of these reforms byfederal legislation that restricts a states authority to act.• Be clear: Federal legislation, especially in the context of state taxation, should beclear to limit ambiguity or the need for expensive and time-consuming legislation.• Find the win-win: The goal of all legislation should be to find a balance thatimproves the standing of all stakeholders. Especially in times such as thesewhere states are struggling with unprecedented budget gaps, Congress shouldonly consider legislation related to state taxation or state taxing authority that isbeneficial to all stakeholders.Conclusion:Congress, through its authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution,has broad authority to regulate state taxation. The key questions are when and howshould that authority be used. Governors believe that the ability of states to developand manage their fiscal systems is a core element of sovereignty – one that should notbe interfered with unless absolutely necessary to preserve interstate commerce. Thecurrent fiscal condition of states underscores this basic principle and should heightenCongressional consideration of the impact proposed legislation could have on states.Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. On behalf of my fellowgovernors, I look forward to working with you and would be happy to take anyquestions.Source: Douglas’ office. 4.15.2010
The Vermont Blue Ribbon Tax Commission issued its final report this afternoon. The commission, formed in 2009, offered several profound and subtle changes to Vermont’s tax code. Most noticeably, the sales tax on clothes would be restored. The commission suggested levying the general sales tax on all consumer-purchased services with limited exception on food and prescription drugs and for certain health and education services and business-to-business transactions. However, soda would now be taxed under this proposal. All this would allow the sales tax to go down to 4.5 percent. The commission urged the state to work with other states to include the sales tax on all Internet purchases. READ REPORTThe commission also wants the state to lower and flatten the income tax rate and get rid of most exemptions. The most obvious change for Vermonters would be to use the federal Adjusted Gross Income number to calculate taxes instead of the federal Taxable Income. This would allow Vermonters to take more advantage of built-in federal tax breaks.Commission members are Kathy Hoyt, Bill Sayre and Bill Schubart. They did not take up the property tax.Governor Peter Shumlin today thanked the members of Vermont’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission for developing a report outlining changes they believe would improve the state’s tax system. ‘The report provides an excellent foundation for an important conversation, which I welcome,’ Governor Shumlin said.The Governor stated that he supports the concept of moving the state toward a simpler income tax system, as proposed by the Commission and currently used by the majority of states.‘That makes good sense, although we would want to be sure that any rate structure maintains progressivity and that adequate consideration is given to any unintended consequences of such a change,’ the Governor said.He said he remains skeptical of any increased reliance on the sales tax, voicing concern about that tax’s impact on low income Vermonters and businesses on the Connecticut River. However, he explained, there may be some room to broaden the base to lower rates in some limited instances, and he voiced support for efforts to capture the tax on sales occurring over the internet.Speaking to another suggestion in the report, the Governor added, ‘It makes sense to regularly review holes in our taxes created by credits and exemptions to make sure they still fit with our policies.’‘This administration will work with the Legislature to examine the specific principles, findings and recommendations,’ he said.Commission member Kathy Hoyt told Vermont Business Magazine that if implemented, Vermont’s national rank, which was cited as 10th highest in the nation, probably would not change significantly.The Public Assets Institute issued the following statement: “Vermont’s tax structure has had serious problems for a long time that have made the impact of the recession on Vermonters worse than it needed to be. Sales tax revenue has not kept pace with economic growth for decades. And while Vermont’s effective income tax rate’the taxes that Vermonters actually pay’puts the state in the middle of the pack nationally, our rates appear high because, as the commission has noted, those rates apply after people have taken Vermont’s generous deduction and exemptions.The political rhetoric we’ve heard in recent years about Vermont’s tax system has been misleading. This state actually has one of the fairest tax systems in the country. As more Vermonters understand this, we’ll have a better chance of taking a balanced approach to solving our current budget problems. The commission report, which was badly needed and long overdue, is a good first step in strengthening our revenue system so it continues to support the essential public services that all Vermont deserve.”View full report
The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project will join with local leaders in Poultney on September 8 to officially launch the community’s downtown wireless Internet zones. Irene showed how important the Internet is for communication. This new tool will expand public accessibility and offer an additional option for residents and tourists to connect their laptops and smart phones 24/7. Early response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 100 users logging onto Poultney Wi-Fi during its testing stage and some businesses planning to purchase laptops or work stations for customers to use.Inspired by Wireless Woodstock, the free service will also highlight local events, weather, businesses, services, and community organizations (at www.poultneywifi.com(link is external)). The zone extends the Poultney Public Library’s wireless signal along Main Street from Maple Street to Beaman Street.Poultney was one of the first 12 towns to participate in the e-Vermont project, working over the last year to close the digital divide through innovative use of Internet tools and training. The town received computers for their libraries and schools as well as training for teachers, businesses, and the general public. This Wi-Fi zone builds upon the equipment and training components of the project to enable citizens to more easily access the Internet.‘e-Vermont’s assistance in bringing laptops to the library dramatically increases our capacity to help people get online,’ said Poultney Public Library Director Rebecca Cook. ‘At the same time, Poultney Wi-Fi is helping downtown visitors access the Internet regardless of library hours.’The Wi-Fi zone runs on Anaptyx wireless hardware, which was purchased and installed by e-Vermont. The network can easily be expanded to cover a larger geographic area should the local community decide to do so in the future.The Poultney project is led by the Poultney Public Library, which is looking for sponsors to help carry the initiative into the future.The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is a partnership led by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, and is made up of the Vermont State Colleges, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Snelling Center for Government, Front Porch Forum, and Digital Wish.For current information visit e-Vermont at www.e4vt.org(link is external) or contact e-Vermont Community Director SeÃ¡n Sheehan at 802-225-6156 or by email at [email protected](link sends e-mail). Follow e-Vermont on Facebook (e-Vermont) and Twitter (eVermont). -30-
A $7 billion emergency aid bill for victims of Hurricane Irene, including the flooding in Vermont, and other natural disasters advanced to the next legislative step in the Senate late Tuesday as an initial Republican filibuster on the bill was broken in a vote of 61 to 38. The bill will replenish the depleted coffers of the Emergency Relief Fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).In a Senate Floor speech illustrated with stark photos of the devastation wrought upon Vermont’s highways and transportation infrastructure, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) urged the Senate to overcome “political games and point-scoring” in considering disaster relief remedies. Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee which last week drafted and approved the core of the disaster relief bill now before the Senate.Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said befor ethe vote: ‘Vermont communities stick together in hard times, and it has been absolutely amazing to see the volunteer efforts taking place from one end of the state to the other. We’re seeing that in almost every area, strangers coming to help people whose homes and businesses were flooded,’ Sanders said.‘But the simple fact is that Vermont cannot do it alone, nor can any other state hard hit by disaster. The scale of what Hurricane Irene did is overwhelming for a state of our size. The federal government has an important role to play in disaster relief and recovery.’The vote sets the stage for passage of the bill later this week.The text of Leahy’s remarks follows: SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY IRENE’S EFFECTS ON TRANSPORTATION IN VERMONT SENATE FLOOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2011 As Vermont continues to grapple with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, I would like to call the Senate’s attention today to the severe and extensive damage that was done to our state’s transportation infrastructure and to how the washed out roads and bridges are affecting the lives of all Vermonters. These are just a few scenes of the destruction brought on by the flooding. â ¢ One of my outreach staffers in Vermont took this photo of Vermont Route 100 just south of Plymouth ‘ home to President Calvin Coolidge. You can see where the road is completely washed away ‘ and where the machine is working to reroute the road about 100 feet above the new riverbed. â ¢ I took this photo of U.S. Route 4 ‘ a major East-West route across Vermont ‘ when Governor Shumlin and I toured the state by helicopter immediately after Irene. â ¢ This third image depicts the New England Central rail line in Central Vermont, which hosts Amtrak’s Vermonter train. Economic recovery act funds had just repaired this line to nearly mint condition ; now you see parts of it are completely washed away. â ¢ Finally, this shot was taken along Vermont Route 30 in Jamaica ‘ or what’s left of it ‘ while rains from the remnants of Hurricane Lee fell in Vermont. You can see work crews trying desperately to stay ahead of the rising water. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as roads, bridges, and rail lines all over the state have been wiped out. Flooding closed more than 300 town and state roads and damaged more than 20 bridges in Vermont, stranding people in more than a dozen towns for days. Damage to the state’s federal-aid roads and bridges will exceed half a billion dollars. It is going to take years and years to recover. It has been extremely difficult to move emergency supplies and rebuilding materials around, as some of the washed-out roads have gaping gullies in the middle that are 30 feet or more deep, and some of the reopened roads and bridges are not yet recommended for heavy traffic. The consequences have been harsh. Residents are forced to make 30-mile-plus detours to the nearest grocery store or doctor ‘ on mountain roads, some of them unpaved. Businesses are struggling to reopen and find customers. Schools have been forced to remain closed until repairs are made. And tourists are worried about traveling to Vermont this fall to see the foliage or this winter to do some skiing. The end of construction season in Vermont is fast approaching. By November it will be too cold to lay asphalt, and by December snow and ice will cover the mountains, leaving many towns dangerously isolated. I applaud the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont National Guard, and work crews and Guardsmen from states all around the country for moving quickly to make emergency road repairs and install temporary bridges. These are lifelines to the hardest hit communities. But we need to make more permanent repairs as soon as possible or future rains and the fall’s freeze-thaw cycle will further deteriorate our roads and make them all put impassable this winter. Given the breadth and depth of Irene’s destruction, on top of the ongoing disasters already declared in all 50 states, we must ensure that FEMA and the Department of Transportation have all of the resources they need to help our citizens in their desperate time of need. We must act quickly to replenish the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and the Federal Highway Emergency Road Fund ‘ both of which are at dangerously low levels right now. Without supplemental funding to these and other emergency accounts, Vermont and all of the other 49 states with ongoing federal disasters will not have the resources they need to rebuild. With so much on the line, so starkly, for so many, it would be harmful and unseemly to play politics with disaster relief. Thousands of American families and businesses have been devastated by an unprecedented series of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters this year. The people hurting out there are not worried about Democrats against Republicans or Red States versus Blue States. They are desperate for a helping hand from their fellow Americans. We are one Nation, and we traditionally have come to aid of our fellow Americans in times of need. In my 37 years in the United States Senate, we always have dealt with disaster bills together, working across the aisle, in a spirit of bipartisanship. As a nation, can we afford to toss that tradition and cooperation overboard? It is unconscionable that some have decided to inject politics and political point-scoring into a situation that already is so difficult and so laden with grim realities for so many of our fellow citizens. Leader Reid is right to bring an emergency disaster relief package to the floor that will get aid to all 50 states suffering from the effects of unprecedented natural disasters. But we need Republican cooperation to get this urgent job done. I encourage my colleagues to end a shameful filibuster of this essential disaster relief bill, and let us proceed to a full debate on how to help our fellow Americans as quickly as possible. # # # # #