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Canadian Navy Ships Conclude Op Caribbe 2015

first_img December 9, 2015 Share this article Authorities View post tag: HMCS Brandon Canadian Navy Ships Conclude Op Caribbe 2015 View post tag: Canadian Navy Back to overview,Home naval-today Canadian Navy Ships Conclude Op Caribbe 2015 Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Brandon and Whitehorse recently concluded their participation in Operation Caribbe 2015, a Canadian organized operation aimed at contributing to the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking in the eastern Pacific Ocean.Since leaving their home port of Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt on October 23, the Royal Canadian Navy ships assisted the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the seizure and disruption of approximately 9 800 kg of cocaine in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central and South America.The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have conducted Operation CARIBBE since November 2006 and worked with both Western Hemisphere and European partners to address security challenges in the region.Lieutenant-Commander Landon Creasy, Commanding Officer, HMCS Brandon, said: “The collaborative effort between both ships and the United States Coast Guard ensures the continued success of these types of operations in the region. I could not be more proud of the professionalism, communication and skillset of all the members involved in these disruptions.”According to the Canadian Forces’ media statement, a total of seven disruptions were accomplished during the deployment resulting in approximately 9 800 kg of cocaine being seized or disrupted.HMC Ships Brandon and Whitehorse, each with a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment aboard, worked jointly on four of the seven cases.HMCS Brandon is credited with two additional interdictions, and HMCS Whitehorse with one, during the deployment. View post tag: HMCS Whitehorselast_img read more

Tabernacle Baptist Church Avoids Tax Sale

first_imgThe historic Tabernacle Baptist Church occupies the corner of Eighth Street and West Avenue. By DONALD WITTKOWSKITabernacle Baptist Church, Ocean City’s oldest surviving church, has been saved from a tax sale.Shari Thompson, chairwoman of the Tabernacle Baptist board of trustees, said a community fundraising effort has helped the church pay off virtually all of its overdue taxes for 2019 and 2020.“This community has been very nice to us,” Thompson said in public remarks during City Council’s meeting Thursday night.She also extended her thanks to the Council members and Mayor Jay Gillian for their help in solving the financial crisis just days before a tax sale was scheduled for the historic church property on Oct. 1.“We’re off the tax sale. I made the payment on Monday,” Thompson said, drawing applause from the Council members and the audience.With the private assistance of some of the Council members and the community, A GoFundMe campaign was set up to raise money to pay the church’s delinquent taxes.“I’m just very grateful to this community,” Thomas said. “I’m really touched.”Thompson said in an interview after the Council meeting that the church owed about $8,700 in back taxes for 2019 and $9,700 for 2020. All but about $1,300 has now been paid off, she noted.The church is planning to hold a yard sale and a barbecue this Saturday to raise money to take care of the remainder of the tax bill. If it raises more than $1,300, the extra money will help the church with deferred maintenance, Thompson said.Shari Thompson, chairwoman of the Tabernacle Baptist Church board of trustees, thanks the community for its fundraising support to help solve the church’s tax crisis.Normally, churches have tax-exempt status, but Tabernacle Baptist temporarily came under private ownership in 2019 during a sale of the property to its former pastor.Tabernacle Baptist’s board of trustees regained ownership of the property in December 2019 after it filed a lawsuit against Pastor Charles Frazier, who has since died, challenging a deal that he had worked out with the church’s former leaders to sell him the building for $1 in March 2019.During the time it was under private ownership, the church lost its tax-exempt status. The city was legally required to impose property taxes on the church after it had passed into Frazier’s hands.Tabernacle Baptist filed a lawsuit claiming that it never lost its tax-exempt status and does not owe any property taxes. City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said there is a possibility the courts could rule that the church does not owe the taxes if it finds that the transfer of ownership to Frazier had been improper in some way.However, while the litigation is pending, the tax sale loomed, so the city and church leaders explored ways for Tabernacle Baptist to pay off the debt.They had discussed the possibility of having the church enter into an installment agreement to pay the back taxes for 2019 and 2020 over a five-year period. The installment plan would have been another way to forestall a tax sale. However, with the overdue taxes now virtually paid in full, the installment plan is no longer needed.Tabernacle Baptist, one of South Jersey’s most historic African-American churches, dates back to 1890 in Ocean City, making it the town’s oldest surviving church.The church cornerstone displays the year 1908, which actually marks the date the building was physically moved from Central Avenue to the corner of Eighth Street and West Avenue and placed on its “new” foundation, now 112 years old.The Ocean City Public Safety Building will be the topic of discussion at one of four upcoming town hall meetings announced by Mayor Jay Gillian.In other business during Thursday’s Council meeting, Mayor Gillian announced that he plans to hold four town hall meetings to discuss key issues affecting the entire island and to get public feedback. The dates and location of the in-person meetings will be announced later.One of the meetings will focus on the city’s conceptual plan for the public safety building, the headquarters for the police department and municipal court.For the past three years, the city has been discussing options for modernizing or replacing the existing public safety building, a former school that dates to 1884.The mayor has floated the idea of possibly renovating and expanding the old red-brick building or constructing an entirely new headquarters for the police department and municipal court.Another town hall meeting will be about the city’s dredging program for the lagoons and channels along the back bays. Each year, the city spends millions of dollars to dredge the sediment-choked lagoons to make them navigable for boat traffic.The mayor also announced that he will hold a town hall meeting to discuss drainage and flooding problems throughout the city, including the neighborhood near West Avenue and 17th Street.Another town hall meeting will focus on the city’s plans to acquire a block of property bordered by 16th and 17th streets, between Haven and Simpson avenues, and preserve it as public space.This is the bike path entrance at 25th Street and Haven Avenue. (Photo courtesy a separate announcement, Gillian said that he will kill plans for the city to add new lighting to the Haven Avenue bike path between 25th and 29th streets following strenuous objections from local homeowners to the proposal.Homeowners who live near the bike path complained to Council that the new lighting would be intrusive for them, would disturb the wildlife in the adjacent Howard Stainton Wildlife Refuge Park and would draw bicyclists to the area during nighttime hours.Bill Long, who lives on Haven Avenue, was one of the residents who called the lighting plan a waste of money.After listening to Long and other opponents of the lighting plan, Gillian said the city will not go forward with the project after all.“I’m very happy,” Long said in an interview of the mayor’s decision.Also at the Council meeting, the governing body honored Ocean City High School senior and Boy Scout Troop 32 member Caleb Schumacher for earning the rank of Eagle Scout.For his Eagle Scout project, the 17-year-old Schumacher built a drop box to hold old flags so that they may be properly retired. The flag box is located at the American Legion Post 524 headquarters at 46th Street and West Avenue.Schumacher joined with the Council members and Gillian when a resolution recognizing his “outstanding personal qualities” was read during the meeting.“He’s an example of what America is,” Council President Bob Barr said while praising Schumacher.Caleb Schumacher, third from right, joins with Mayor Jay Gillian and members of City Council during a ceremony honoring his achievement as an Eagle Scout.last_img read more

The Bun Pun Police

first_imgKeeping an eye out for bakery coverage in the national press involves a depressing wade through half-baked (sorry!) bakery puns. We sometimes fail to resist the temptation to rise to the occasion ourselves (sorry again!). So the time has come to regularly monitor, name and shame the worst offenders here in Stop the Week.We kick things off with last week’s breaking rumour that Wayne Rooney was to be the new £150,000 face of Hovis’ TV ads. The Daily Mirror, having imaginatively mocked up a pic of Rooney in a flat cap, tripped up in front of an open goal. “Wayne Rooney is heading yeast to make a new fortune – by helping relaunch Hovis loaves,” strained journalist John Harkin, before quickly tiring of his theme.Not exactly renowned for its punning prowess, The Guardian opted for the yawn-inducing “Rooney advertising Hovis? Use your loaf”.The Times’ Caitlin Moran thankfully steered clear of puns, but offered these less-than-flattering words about the campaign, which is said to feature key moments in British history over the last 100 years: “The underlying message here is that a century of Britons eating vast quantities of industrially manufactured, pre-sliced bread has resulted in Wayne Rooney.” Ouch.last_img read more

Hundreds of local casino workers risk losing jobs permanently

first_img (Photo supplied/Blue Chip Casino) MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — The economic impact the pandemic has had on Indiana casinos isn’t stopping. Another gaming company has announced layoffs for its employees.Boyd Gaming Company says more than 1,000 workers at its Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City and Belterra Casino and Resort in Switzerland County are at risk of losing their jobs permanently.According to Inside Indiana Business, the company says permanent layoffs could impact between 25% and 60% of staff at both locations.The company says for those who have not been laid off yet, the current furlough may last longer than six months from the date it began, despite some casinos in the state planning on opening back up in Mid-June when Indiana hits Stage Four of the re-opening plan. That stage is supposed to go into effect on June 14.Almost all Indiana casinos have been closed since mid-March. Google+ Facebook Hundreds of local casino workers risk losing jobs permanently Facebook WhatsApp Pinterest Pinterest CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Twitter WhatsApp Google+ Twitter By Network Indiana – May 29, 2020 0 462 Previous articleThe Elkhart County 4H Fair will not take place in 2020Next articleLaPorte County Fair announces cancellation for 2020 Network Indianalast_img read more

Umphrey’s McGee Offers Bust Outs & Big Jams In Peoria Smoker [Review/Gallery]

first_imgOn a beautiful summer night in Peoria, IL, Umphrey’s McGee played a fantastic Thursday NIGHT show to a crowd that was very eager to hear the band’s progressive rock sounds. The show had it all- a great opener in The Main Squeeze, huge jams in “Resolution” and “KaBump,” rarer tunes like “Kula” and “Eat,” the latter having an “Orfeo,” sandwiched inside. Without a doubt Umphreaks couldn’t have been be any happier with the show!The Main Squeeze started off the night with their funky and soulful tunes. Although the crowd was not quite as big as it would become when Umphrey’s would take the stage, there were still quite a large number of people that made it in time for the opener. The Main Squeeze played “Where Do We Go?,” and closed out their set with “Two Steps.”Umphrey’s wasted no time in continuing the good music. Instead of opening with a meandering Jazz Odyssey as they are prone to do, they came out firing with a very danceable “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash. To add to the uniqueness, guitarist Jake Cinninger started on keyboards with Joel Cummins. It was a great way to start the show.When they finished and Cinninger donned his guitar, it was time for the rock-n-roll, and they played “All in Time.” The first set also included the rarer instrumental “Eat,” which had a beautiful rendition of “Orfeo” inside. Keyboardist Joel Cummins really shined for the version, and percussionist Kris Myers accompanied him for the second part of the tune. The entire “Eat” segment was a real treat. The improvisational highlight of the show was in “Resolution” which soared to a blistering peak in the way that only Umphrey’s can do. They finished the set with the ending of “All in Time.”The second set began with “Der Bluten Kat” that featured another rare tune, “Kula,” inside. If one wasn’t sure that they were actually playing, “Kula” then one was assured after they went through it the second time. For both choruses, Cinninger counted the band off, “One, two, three, FOUR!” Fan favorites “Ringo” and “Triple Wide” were both excellently played, but the best part of the night came in “KaBump.” A song that is not well known to the casual UM fan, the quirky guitar part is very catchy and usually leads to improvisation. This version certainly did. It actually got quite reggae-esque, and the beat was nice and slow. But they built it up, slowly and powerfully, until the jam was full-blown rock-n-roll. With the music just oozing energy they made a very nice segue into the set closing “Make It Right.”The encore contained “Waiting Room” followed by a “Mulche’s Odyssey” to cap the concert. The only thing that would have made the show better would have been a sit-in from Main Squeeze vocalist Corey Frye. Fortunately, there will be two more chances for that to happen, and, even better, you can stream those two shows here. Rock on Umphrey’s.Check out the setlist below, courtesy of All Things Umphrey’s, as well as a full gallery from Ojeda Photography.Setlist: CEFCU Center Stage at The Landing in Peoria, IL – 8/4/16Set 1: The Message[1] > All In Time > Hourglass, Eat > Orfeo > Eat > In a Silent Way > Educated Guess, Push the Pig > Resolution > All In TimeSet 2: Der Bluten Kat > Kula > Der Bluten Kat, Ringo[2] > The Triple Wide[3], Forks, Kabump > Make It RightEncore: Waiting Room, Mulche’s Odyssey[1] with Jake on keys[2] with Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix) tease[3] with Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac) teasesSupport: The Main Squeeze Load remaining imageslast_img read more

Chittenden parent reports third quarter earnings of $27 million, 8 cents per share

first_imgThe parent company of Chittenden Bank, People’s United Financial, Inc (NASDAQ: PBCT), has announced net income of $26.8 million, or $0.08 per share, for the third quarter of 2009, compared to $25.3 million, or $0.08 per share, for the second quarter of 2009, and $46.0 million, or $0.14 per share, for the third quarter of 2008.  Third quarter 2009 earnings reflect an increase in the net interest margin despite pressure associated with the historically low interest rate environment and the company’s asset sensitive balance sheet, and an increase in the provision for loan losses due, in part, to the partial charge-off of a previously disclosed non-performing shared national credit.For the third quarter of 2009, return on average tangible assets was 0.55 percent and return on average tangible stockholders’ equity was 3.0 percent, compared to 0.53 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, for the second quarter of 2009.  At September 30, 2009, People’s United Financial’s tangible equity ratio stood at 18.6 percent.The Board of Directors of People’s United Financial declared a $0.1525 per share quarterly dividend, payable November 15, 2009 to shareholders of record on November 1, 2009.  Based on the closing stock price on October 14, 2009, the dividend yield on People’s United Financial common stock is 3.9 percent.”Our third quarter performance reflects continued growth in our core loan portfolios and deposits in spite of a clearly very challenging economic environment,” stated Philip R. Sherringham, President and Chief Executive Officer.  Year-over-year core commercial and home equity lending portfolios increased eight percent and deposits grew six percent.  “In addition, the pillars of our financial position – strong asset quality and prudent management of our excess capital – have served us well in these challenging times and continue to differentiate us from most in the banking sector.”Sherringham added, “We believe our asset quality has held up remarkably well on both a relative and absolute basis through the recent recessionary cycle and most of the bad news is substantially behind us.  While we are well-positioned to benefit from future increases in interest rates given our asset-sensitivity, the current rate environment continues to pressure our net interest margin.  Our strategic focus remains on expansion through opportunistic acquisitions even as we continue to pursue organic growth throughout our franchise.  The strength of our capital and liquidity, asset quality and earnings, as well as the fact that our balance sheet remains funded almost entirely by deposits and stockholders’ equity, continue to set us apart from most in the industry.””Significant drivers of the company’s performance this quarter were our first increase in the net interest margin since last year’s third quarter, continued loan growth across our strategic lending businesses, improvements in fee income and expense control, partially offset by higher net loan charge-offs and our decision to increase the allowance for loan losses,” said Paul D. Burner, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.  “The 7 basis point increase in the net interest margin was primarily attributable to a reduction in our cost of deposits.  In addition, during the third quarter, mortgage-backed securities with a book value of $308 million were sold, and the proceeds have been reinvested in mortgage-backed securities with substantially-equivalent maturities and yields.  This investment portfolio repositioning, which was undertaken to mitigate prepayment risk, generated security gains totaling $4.8 million.”Commenting on asset quality, Burner stated, “A single shared national credit accounted for $6.1 million, or 38 percent, of this quarter’s net loan charge-offs.  Non-performing loans increased $7.7 million, or 5 percent, this quarter, signaling what we believe to be stabilization across the loan portfolio.  Notwithstanding the slight increase in non-performing assets, our continued modest level of net loan charge-offs in this current economic environment remains a testament to our disciplined underwriting standards.”Third quarter net loan charge-offs totaled $16.0 million compared to $6.0 million in the second quarter of 2009.  Net loan charge-offs as a percent of average loans on an annualized basis were 0.44 percent in the third quarter of 2009 compared to 0.16 percent in this year’s second quarter and were 0.26 percent for the nine months ended September 30, 2009.  The provision for loan losses in the third quarter of 2009 reflects a $5.5 million increase in the allowance for loan losses to $172.5 million at September 30, 2009.At September 30, 2009, non-performing loans totaled $175.7 million and the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans was 1.23 percent, compared to $168.0 million and 1.15 percent, respectively, at June 30, 2009.  Non-performing assets totaled $192.7 million at September 30, 2009, a $10.7 million increase from June 30, 2009.  Non-performing assets equaled 1.35 percent of total loans, REO and repossessed assets at September 30, 2009 compared to 1.25 percent at June 30, 2009.  At September 30, 2009, the allowance for loan losses as a percentage of total loans was 1.21 percent and as a percentage of non-performing loans was 98 percent, compared to 1.15 percent and 99 percent, respectively, at June 30, 2009.Results for the first two quarters of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2008 have been revised to reflect the recognition of additional non-interest expense relating to an unintentional under accrual of certain operating expenses.  The effect of these revisions was immaterial to each period (no change in diluted earnings per share for the second quarter of 2009 and a one cent reduction in diluted earnings per share for both the first quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2008).  Net income for the three months ended June 30, 2009, March 31, 2009 and December 31, 2008 was reduced by $2.1 million, $2.5 million and $1.7 million, respectively.Selected Financial TermsIn addition to evaluating People’s United Financial’s results of operations in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), management routinely supplements this evaluation with an analysis of certain non-GAAP financial measures, such as the tangible equity and efficiency ratios, and tangible book value per share.  Management believes these non-GAAP financial measures provide information useful to investors in understanding People’s United Financial’s underlying operating performance and trends, and facilitates comparisons with the performance of other banks and thrifts.  Further, the efficiency ratio is used by management in its assessment of financial performance specifically as it relates to non-interest expense control, while the tangible equity ratio and tangible book value per share are used to analyze the relative strength of People’s United Financial’s capital position.The efficiency ratio, which represents an approximate measure of the cost required by People’s United Financial to generate a dollar of revenue, is the ratio of (i) total non-interest expense (excluding goodwill impairment charges, amortization of acquisition-related intangibles and fair value adjustments, losses on real estate assets and nonrecurring expenses) (the numerator) to (ii) net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis (excluding fair value adjustments) plus total non-interest income (including the fully taxable equivalent adjustment on bank-owned life insurance income, and excluding gains and losses on sales of assets, other than residential mortgage loans, and nonrecurring income) (the denominator).  People’s United Financial generally considers an item of income or expense to be nonrecurring if it is not similar to an item of income or expense of a type incurred within the last two years and is not similar to an item of income or expense of a type reasonably expected to be incurred within the following two years.The tangible equity ratio is the ratio of (i) tangible stockholders’ equity (total stockholders’ equity less goodwill and other acquisition-related intangibles) (the numerator) to (ii) tangible assets (total assets less goodwill and other acquisition-related intangibles) (the denominator).  Tangible book value per share is calculated by dividing tangible stockholders’ equity by common shares outstanding.3Q 2009 Financial HighlightsSummaryNet income totaled $26.8 million, or $0.08 per share.Net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis totaled $146.1 million.Net interest margin increased 7 basis points from 2Q09 to 3.19%.Average short-term investments totaled $3.1 billion, or 17% of average earning assets, and yielded 0.22% in 3Q09.Average deposits increased $151 million, or 4% annualized, from 2Q09.Provision for loan losses totaled $21.5 million.Net loan charge-offs totaled $16.0 million in 3Q09 (including $6.1 million related to one shared national credit) compared to $6.0 million in 2Q09.The allowance for loan losses was increased by $5.5 million in 3Q09 from 2Q09 levels.Non-interest income, excluding net security gains, totaled $75.5 million in 3Q09 compared to $73.0 million in 2Q09.Gains on sales of residential mortgage loans increased $1.4 million from 2Q09.Net security gains totaled $4.7 million in 3Q09 and $12.0 million in 2Q09.Non-interest expense, excluding an FDIC special assessment charge in 2Q09, totaled $165.1 million in 3Q09 compared to $167.8 million in 2Q09.FDIC special assessment charge in 2Q09 totaled $8.4 million.Effective income tax rate was 31.2% in 3Q09.Commercial BankingAverage commercial banking loans, excluding shared national credits, increased $79 million,or 4% annualized, from 2Q09 to $8.7 billion.Shared national credits totaled $614.2 million at September 30, 2009, a $24.7 million decrease from June 30, 2009.Non-performing commercial banking assets totaled $131.3 million at September 30, 2009,an $8.8 million increase from June 30, 2009.Includes $26.4 million attributable to two non-performing shared national credits.The ratio of non-performing commercial banking loans to total commercial banking loans was 1.28% at September 30, 2009 compared to 1.21% at June 30, 2009.Net loan charge-offs totaled $11.2 million, or 0.48% annualized, of average commercial banking loans in 3Q09, compared to $3.3 million, or 0.15% annualized, in 2Q09.Excluding the shared national credit partial charge-off, net loan charge-offs totaled $5.1 million, or 0.22% annualized in 3Q09.Retail & Small Business BankingAverage residential mortgage loans totaled $2.8 billion, a $180 million decrease from 2Q09, reflecting People’s United Financial’s strategy to sell essentially all newly-originated loans.Net loan charge-offs totaled $2.6 million, or 0.37% annualized, of average residential mortgage loans.The ratio of non-performing residential mortgage loans to total residential mortgage loans was 1.88% at September 30, 2009 compared to 1.74% at June 30, 2009.Average home equity loans totaled $2.0 billion, unchanged from 2Q09.Net loan charge-offs totaled $0.8 million, or 0.16% annualized, of average home equity loans.Average indirect auto loans totaled $0.2 billion, unchanged from 2Q09.Net loan charge-offs totaled $0.9 million, or 1.54% annualized, of average indirect auto loans.Wealth ManagementWealth Management income increased $0.5 million from 2Q09.Insurance revenue increased $1.1 million, reflecting the seasonal nature of insurance renewals.Assets under custody, management and safekeeping, which are not reported as assets of People’s United Financial, totaled $12.3 billion at September 30, 2009 compared to $12.5 billion at June 30, 2009.People’s United Financial, a diversified financial services company with $21 billion in assets, provides commercial banking, retail and small business banking, and wealth management services through a network of nearly 300 branches in Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and New York. Through its subsidiaries, People’s United Financial provides equipment financing, asset management, brokerage and financial advisory services, and insurance services.###Certain statements contained in this release are forward-looking in nature. These include all statements about People’s United Financial’s plans, objectives, expectations and other statements that are not historical facts, and usually use words such as “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe” and similar expressions. Such statements represent management’s current beliefs, based upon information available at the time the statements are made, with regard to the matters addressed. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause People’s United Financial’s actual results or financial condition to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by such statements. Factors of particular importance to People’s United Financial include, but are not limited to: (1) changes in general, national or regional economic conditions; (2) changes in interest rates; (3) changes in loan default and charge-off rates; (4) changes in deposit levels; (5) changes in levels of income and expense in non-interest income and expense related activities; (6) residential mortgage and secondary market activity; (7) changes in accounting and regulatory guidance applicable to banks; (8) price levels and conditions in the public securities markets generally; (9) competition and its effect on pricing, spending, third-party relationships and revenues; and (10) the successful completion of the integration of Chittenden Corporation. People’s United Financial does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.Source: People’s. BRIDGEPORT, CT. 10.15.2006last_img read more

The Future of Two National Forests

first_imgSpeak for the TreesAs a veteran section hiker on the Appalachian Trail, Bill Van Horn has plenty of stories about how the world-famous footpath has changed over the years. Although much of the trail lives up to its world-class billing, not everything they saw was worthy of a postcard.“Some places look like someone went in with a mower,” he said. “There are clear postage-stamp boundaries where everything was cut, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s extremely obvious where they clear-cut and there’s nothing left.”Even so, he recognizes the need for some logging on the public lands that the trail transects, including the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.“I fully believe our forests need to be sustainable and that we need to strike a balance between different uses,” Van Horn said.  “Everyone loses a little bit, but hopefully everyone gains a little bit too.”Public meetings are often divided between outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep the forest intact and loggers and hunters who would like to see it cut.Public meetings are often divided between outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep the forest intact and loggers and hunters who would like to see it cut.That sentiment nicely encapsulates the dilemma facing the U.S. Forest Service as it undertakes an ambitious four-year effort to revise the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Land and Resource Management Plan, which will guide management of these public lands for the next two decades. The two contiguous national forests comprise more than one million acres and collectively are among the most visited in the country. Not surprisingly, lots of people have different—and often diametrically opposed—ideas of what to do with them.The forests must simultaneously maintain habitat diversity, improve the health of watersheds, and support multiple uses such as logging and various forms of sustainable recreation. Juggling these goals is a Herculean and thankless task that will satisfy no one completely. In the balance lies the fate of almost 1,900 types of plants, including nearly 130 tree species, and more than 300 species of vertebrate animals. Some of these are found nowhere else on earth.With so much riding on the management plan, the agency has been hosting epic talk-a-thons with as many stakeholders as possible in an effort to see how, and to what extent, competing visions can be reconciled. The effort should inform similar discussions around country about the fate of our public lands.Stevin Westcott, the Forest Service official charged with overseeing the plan revision, is at the forefront of the forest debate. And although he’s taking heat from all sides, he’s okay with that.“The Forest Service is charged with managing for the greatest good,” he explains. “All of the uses in these forests are important. Our goal is to find a middle ground and manage the land and the facilities to meet the needs of all users, and at the same time maintain ecological sustainability.”That means somehow balancing activities that range from bird watching and hiking to ATV riding and logging—a tall order, and some would say an impossible one. But the Forest Service is determined to try by facilitating meetings between different groups.This approach marks something of a departure for the agency. In 1987, when the forest management plan was last revised, competing factions retreated to their corners and yelled at each other. The result was glacial progress and endless plan appeals. Westcott and others are determined to avoid that result this time around. “There’s probably a bigger emphasis on collaboration today than there was years ago,” he said. “We actively encourage stakeholders to talk.”Jill Gottesman, Southern Appalachian outreach coordinator for The Wilderness Society, welcomes the change. Her group is part of the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership, a diverse collection of stakeholders that includes environmental organizations, logging companies, and outdoor recreation groups. Members of the partnership explicitly agree to focus on common interests rather than conflicting positions.“We want to use a better process and work toward a better plan, as well as supplement a Forest Service approach that has been traditionally disappointing,” she said. “We’re doing what the agency really can’t do in terms of tackling the thorny issues that come up to build trust and common ground.”Speaking for The Wilderness Society and not the partnership, Gottesman said she would like to see additional recommendations for new wilderness. She cited 41 places in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests that her group dubs “North Carolina Mountain Treasures” deserving of better protection, either as full-on wilderness or some lesser designation such as national recreation areas.At the same time, she acknowledges the legitimacy of competing uses; the Wilderness Society simply wants input as to where they happen. “We need a good, solid, productive plan that isn’t just going to protect the vulnerable areas, but is also going to identify suitable places for logging and other uses,” Gottesman said. “We think there are places that should be designated as wilderness, but we also recognize there are a lot of other values and needs.”For example, logging could be concentrated near existing roads, which would be cheaper and less environmentally destructive than scarring virgin wilderness. The Wilderness Society even would be willing to help locate suitable logging areas using its considerable mapping expertise. That sort of give-and-take is integral to the new collaborate approach. “In building relationships and trust with other groups, they in turn hopefully will support us in setting aside new wilderness,” she said.Gottesman also would like to count on support from Forest Service managers. Some of these Forest Service managers are from a more progressive school of thought, but there are a lot of local folks who fondly remember very inflated levels of logging in the 1980s and 1990s. As the agency gets more and more younger personnel, their focus is gradually changing away from extractive uses like logging toward more sustainable, non-extractive uses like recreation.Westcott pointed out that logging in the forests is only permitted in four out of the 15 official management areas, and that the final management plan will require sustainable harvesting practices. “The emphasis on logging in the Forest Service is nowhere near what it used to be,” he said. “What we do today is very different from what we did in the late ‘80s.” Timber harvesting is down 35 percent since then, primarily because of slashed federal budgets. Logging methods are different too; clearcuts now are limited to 10 acres and are usually done to diversify wildlife habitat. Today the majority of harvests are of the “two-age” variety where mature trees are left behind. At the same time, 97 percent of North Carolina forests are considered available for timber production—a number that hardly appears balanced to many environmentalists.Still, many of them are hopeful for the future. Josh Kelly, field biologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA), said environmental organizations “pretty much won the argument” over clear cutting on federal lands in the state when the 1987 Nantahala-Pisgah management plan was amended in 1994 to reduce timber harvesting to about 3,000 acres per year. That was a significant change from the ‘80s and ‘90s, when “basically the entire forest was on a regular rotation for logging,” he said. Today, although theoretically the vast majority of the state’s public forests can be logged, 70 to 90 percent of them are now managed for some other use. “Timber sales have plummeted, and even some people outside of the industry are questioning that,” he said. “Some strategic logging should continue in national forests in short-leafed pine and other areas because it’s done with the most environmental controls and maintains traditions of woodcraft.  Prioritizing based on ecological restoration needs can really help eliminate conflicts over land management. We want to work with as many groups as we can to identify the parts of the forest that are appropriate and inappropriate for logging.”Kelly has a laundry list of other priorities he would like to see addressed in the plan revision, including better management of major ecosystems, establishment of migration corridors for key species, and enhanced protection for hundreds of “special biological areas” identified since 1987. “I think public opinion has always been with a use of public lands that doesn’t hand over too much of the forest to industry,” he said. “Most people don’t want an industrialized landscape, and they value clean water and recreational opportunities.”Of course, the debate isn’t limited to environmentalists vs. loggers. Outdoor recreation enthusiasts are also important players who often find themselves at odds with others in their own camps. As Westcott points out, recreation and tourism bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Western North Carolina, an amount that dwarfs timber revenues. But it also costs the Forest Service huge amounts to maintain trails, cabins, and other public facilities. And what happens when someone comes bombing down the trail on a mountain bike and scares away the bird that another just spent all day finding? trees3Fault lines between outdoor recreation groups can sometimes seem like unbridgeable chasms. What happens when mountain bikers and hikers collide, literally or figuratively? Are hikers obstructing everyone else and just asking to get plowed over, or are bikers tearing up trails that hikers lovingly maintain? Anglers and boaters are also famously at odds, with the former wanting to limit the latter’s access to some trout waters out of concern that fish don’t take kindly to big rafts and thrill-seeking paddlers. And every outdoor enthusiast in the forest during hunting season is a potential accident waiting to happen.These issues can be resolved if the parties are so inclined. For example, equestrians and mountain bikers have been known to take turns using popular trails, like those at Tsali Recreation Area. But too often disputes degenerate into acrimony when groups don’t focus on common interests, with hiking clubs refusing to help maintain trails unless they’re designated hiking-only and mountain bikers lobbying against wilderness areas where biking is banned. The resulting compromises can end up pleasing no one.Sergio Capozzi, president of Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals, agreed that the balance is difficult. “Access is a very broad, very complex term as it relates to recreation, he said.” “The plan revision process should engage as many user groups as possible to avoid issues before they bubble up. Of course, that’s easier said than done.”David Lippy is the current president of the Nantahala Hiking Club, which maintains about 60 miles of the A.T., all of it in the Nantahala National Forest. He wants to ensure that current protections for the A.T. corridor are preserved. “If we come out of this plan revision without losing any ground, we’ll be happy,” he says. “We would always like to see the Forest Service acquire more land next to the trail, but with today’s budget, I don’t know if that will happen.” Although he worries about logging operations visible to hikers, he also wants to maintain bans on bikes and horses from many parts of the trail—within reason, of course. “We’re trying to work with these other groups who have a legitimate need to use the forest, and we try to be good neighbors so they can enjoy their sports without intruding on what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We have members that ride horses, hunt, all the various uses. There’s plenty of forest to go around. We just don’t want activities that aren’t compatible in the same area at the same time. We have a lot common goals, and if we all work together, we’ll probably get a lot further than if everyone demands their little pieces without cooperating.”VOICES FOR THE WILDNow is the time to voice your opinion on the next two decades of forest management. A new 20-year management plan is being developed this spring, and this is the public’s opportunity to chime in. Visit for dates and times of public meetings. You also can submit comments or questions about the plan to [email protected]last_img read more

Art. V glitch bill in the works

first_img May 1, 2004 Regular News Art. V glitch bill in the works With the legislature winding down, Florida House and Senate committees have continued to refine the “glitch” bill that will define how trial courts will function and be funded after the state assumes a larger financial role after July 1.The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Judicial Appropriations passed PCB AP 04-34 on April 14, after making several amendments. The full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its glitch bill, SB 2962, the following day, also after making further amendments.Significant differences remain between the two approaches.For example, the House version requires that cities and counties pay state attorneys and public defenders $60 an hour when they prosecute local ordinances. The Senate bill allows local governments to negotiate a rate. City and county representatives say they prefer the Senate approach because they think the $60 rate is too high.The House subcommittee first rejected an amendment to allow negotiations, then voted to reconsider and left the matter pending.The Senate bill also has a $4 per page increase in recording fees for county clerks (raised from the $3 inserted by an earlier amendment) with the money being split between clerks, courts, state attorneys, and public defenders for technology improvements.The House subcommittee considered that amendment, but it was withdrawn when it became apparent it would fail. The House bill requires counties to pay for technology requirements of the trial courts.Both House and Senate bills create an add-on cost to criminal cases that can be used to fund legal aid and law libraries, among other programs. While legal aid advocates have questioned whether the House bill set the cost high enough, the subcommittee added a provision requiring counties to make up any shortfall so that funding for legal aid programs remains constant.The Senate Appropriations Committee added an amendment clarifying that local law libraries are a requirement of the counties.The two bills also have a difference on filing fees cities and counties must pay when they prosecute local ordinances. Both bills reduce the fee from the $200 required of other actions to $10, plus an additional $40 to be paid by the losing party. But the House bill also required that the state receive 30 percent of any fine imposed.An amendment to the Senate bill requires counties to continue to provide office space for the guardian ad litem program, which is being taken over as a state program.The legislature was scheduled to adjourn on April 30, after this News went to press and some form of the glitch bill was expected to pass. Bar members can view the final version of the bill by checking legislative Web sites at or bills will implement Revision 7 to Art. V of the Florida Constitution, the amendment passed by voters in 1998 which requires the state to pick up a larger share of trial court funding to ease the fiscal burden faced by counties, and to bring uniformity to court services around the state.center_img Art. V glitch bill in the workslast_img read more

Are you playing offense or defense?

first_img 38SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Anthony Demangone Anthony Demangone is executive vice president and chief operating officer at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). Demangone oversees day-to-day operations and manages the association’s education, membership, … Web: Details It is a simple question about your organization’s collective mindset.Are you focused on protecting what you have, or on trying to seize new opportunities?The changes going on in our marketplace are part of a long continuous process. Each chapter in the saga produces its own set of challenges. I contend that each challenge is either a problem or an opportunity. Which it is depends on how you approach the challenge.“How will this change hurt us?”That is a valid question. You need defenders on your team.But how often do we ask this, instead?“How can we take advantage of this change? How can it help us?”You need to play offense as well. On your team, who is playing offense? Who is looking to take advantage of change?last_img read more

Spring clean your finances

first_imgWarmer temperatures make it a good time to thaw out and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Why not use the subsequent energy boost to tidy up your personal finances? Performing some financial spring cleaning can help you avoid making a mess of your fiscal affairs down the road. Here’s where to get started.Revamp your budgetLiving within your means is an integral part of a healthy financial lifestyle. But we’re all human, and those new kicks you spotted at the mall or that popular restaurant down the street can make it difficult to stay faithful to your budget.“Everything in your financial life flows from your ability to effectively manage and allocate your income,” says Carrie Houchins-Witt, a financial advisor in Coralville, Iowa.She recommends that you review last year’s spending transgressions. Then recalibrate your budget for this year. That may mean zeroing in on and consequently reducing purchases in a given spending category, such as going out to eat. continue reading » 33SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more