New unemployment claims fall from previous week

first_imgWeek Ending April 25, 2009. There were 1,501 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, a decrease of 97 from the week before. Altogether 18,430 new and continuing claims were filed, 561 less than a week ago and 7,397 more than a year earlier. The Department also processed 2,122 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 52 more than a week ago. In addition, there were 1,299 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program which is an increase of 39 from the week before. The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at:  http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external).last_img read more

Vermont to host USDA chief and foreign agriculture officials

first_imgThis week, Vermont will host the Foreign Agricultural Attaches and USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan for a tour of the diverse agriculture operations in Vermont. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a tour that will take foreign agricultural officials representing 23 countries to Vermont September 2 – 4, 2009, as part of an annual orientation tour sponsored by USDA s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  Each year, these tours help showcase U.S. farm and food products from one area of the country, said FAS Administrator Michael Michener.  Foreign officials will get a first-hand look at the quality and variety of products from New Hampshire and Vermont the best these states have to offer.According to the latest data available, the region’s agricultural exports reached $488 million in 2007, accounting for almost 19 percent of New England s farm economy.  These agricultural exports help boost farm prices and income, while supporting more than 5,000 jobs both on and off the farm in food processing, transportation, and manufacturing.WHEN: September 2, 2009 5:30 p.m.WHERE: The Essex, Vermont s Culinary Resort and Spa70 Essex WayEssex Junction, VTlast_img read more

Sierra House receives $1,000 donation from Northfield Savings Bank

first_imgSierra House/Washington County Mental Health has received a $1,000 donation from Northfield Savings Bank for their transitional program. Sierra House is a Montpelier based non-profit supporting and advocating inclusion of all persons into our community, and actively encourages self-determination and recovery by serving individuals and families coping with mental health and developmental related challenges.About Northfield Savings Bank Northfield Savings Bank was founded in 1867 by a group of area citizens, and with assets of $588 million, is now one of Vermont’s largest providers of residential mortgages and commercial loans. Northfield was the first savings bank in Vermont to provide checking services, computerized statements and ATM’s, and remains a leader in combining sophisticated financial services with personalized customer service. NSB is also known for its role as a corporate citizen, proudly donating 10 percent of profits to Vermont community organizations. NSB has contributed more than $4.5 million over the last 10 years. An independent community bank, NSB employs approximately 143 people and operates 13 branches throughout Central Vermont and Chittenden County. Member FDIC.Photo caption: (C) Marcy Couillard, Program Coordinator and (R) Emily Wilder, Peer Mentor/Social Support Specialist for Sierra House, receive a $1,000 check from (L) Debbie Kerin, Northfield Savings Bank’s – Montpelier Branch Manager.Source: NSB. Montpelier, VT October 14, 2009last_img read more

FairPoint finally files bankruptcy plan

first_imgFairPoint Communications announced today that it has resolved issues involving unsecured creditors and has filed a restructuring plan with the US Bankruptcy Court that will get rid of $1.7 billion of its $2.7 billion debt in exchange for giving most of its common stock to secured creditors. FairPoint announced October 26, 2009, that it was filing chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a pre-negotiated deal with creditors. However, the 2,500 unionized workers and unsecured creditors continued to press the company to reach a more favorable agreement. Workers reached a new deal last week, setting the stage for today’s announcement. FairPoint has also reached agreements with regulators in Vermont and New Hampshire, but it is still in negotiations with regulators in Maine. Service will not be effected by the filing. FairPoint had put off the filing three times, the last of which on February 1. Two days later it reached a deal with unionized workers that would extended the current five-year contract in exchange for putting off raises and other concessions. FairPoint was seeking to save $30 million in employee costs. Since then, FairPoint worked on finalizing the deal with unsecured creditors, which will give them 17 cents on the dollar. The secured creditors will own 92 percent of the company, if the bankruptcy court approves the plan.FairPoint owns most of the telecommunication landlines in northern New England. It bought Verizon’s landline business in 2008. It cut over from the Verizon network a year ago, which resulted in several technical problems and customer service issues. The bonds FairPoint issued also wound up costing the company a higher rate than originally anticipated, with credit becoming harder to get because of the recent financial meltdown on Wall Street. Along with those two issues, FairPoint said the national recession also reduced revenues as consumers reduced spending at the same time competitors gained market share, all of which led to the bankruptcy filing. FairPoint insists that with the restructuring that it will be a stronger company, less burdened by debt and with more working capital that is better able to meet customer demand and compete against the likes of cable and wireless companies. FairPoint has said it counting on increasing consumer demand for broadband services to drive the business as it moves forward.BackgroundFairPoint inherited the roughly 317,000 Vermont residential and business telephone accounts that Verizon had accumulated as of 2007. FairPoint officials said in an interview with Vermont Business Magazine in early 2009 that the number had dropped to 295,000. The company acknowledged that it was losing about 10 percent of its base a year. It did not respond to a request for updated statistics, but if the 10 percent-a-year figure is applied, FairPoint probably has about 270,000 Vermont landline customers. The total for all three northern New England states may be about 1.3 million, compared to 1.5 million at the time of the takeover from Verizon.On October 26, 2009, FairPoint Communications and all of its direct and indirect subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under chapter 11 of title 11 of the United States Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York . The cases are being jointly administered under the caption In re FairPoint Communications, Inc., Case No. 09-16335 (BRL).FairPoint commenced the Chapter 11 Cases because of a significant need to de-leverage its balance sheet and to reduce its cost structure. In March 2008, FairPoint Communications completed the acquisition of certain landline operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont from Verizon Communications Inc. through a merger with Northern New England Spinco Inc, a subsidiary of Verizon. In connection with the Merger, FairPoint and Spinco entered into a $2.03 billion secured credit facility, as subsequently amended, and Spinco issued and FairPoint Communications subsequently assumed $551 million aggregate principal amount of 13-1/8% Senior Notes due 2018. As of the Petition Date,FairPoint had approximately $2.7 billion of indebtedness, including accrued and unpaid interest and amounts owed under interest rate swap agreements, which is not sustainable. FairPoint s financial difficulties have been exacerbated by declining financial performance which can be traced to, among other things, (i) increased competition from alternative voice and data communication providers that has eroded FairPoint s traditional base of wireline voice customers (ii) the recent turmoil in the financial markets, which has significantly limited available capital and resulted in a significant decline in the domestic economy and (iii) difficulties transitioning from Verizon s systems and integrating the NNE Operations acquired in the Merger with FairPoint s historical operations.In an effort to address these issues, FairPoint s management team worked diligently to expand and improve FairPoint s product offerings, diversify and grow revenues, increase operational efficiency and operating cash flows and reduce debt obligations through, among other things, (i) investing $85 million in the build out of a new next generation Internet protocol based network, (ii) suspending common stock dividends and (iii) completing an exchange offer for certain of the Original Senior Notes for new 13-1/8% Senior Notes due 2018, which allowed FairPoint to reduce its cash interest expense for the quarters ended June 30, 2009 and September 30, 2009 and maintain compliance with financial covenants  contained in the Prepetition Credit Agreement for the measurement period ended June 30, 2009. Despite these actions, FairPoint s balance sheet remained highly leveraged, with substantial annual capital expenditure requirements and interest costs, and portions of the principal amount of the Prepetition Credit Agreement becoming due on a quarterly basis. This capital structure is not  sustainable, particularly after taking into account the impact of (i) the recession in the United States and the associated high levels of unemployment, reduced disposable income and consumer spending, increased business failures and higher than normal uncollected receivables, (ii) the continued significant capital expenditure requirements required for FairPoint to remain competitive in the telecommunications market and imposed by the regulatory orders approving the Merger and (iii) FairPoint s limited access to capital markets.As a result, FairPoint, with the assistance of its advisors, began to explore capital structure restructuring alternatives, including recapitalizations and a potential chapter 11 filing.Commencing in July 2009 and culminating in October 2009, FairPoint worked diligently, first with the holders of the Senior Notes and then with certain lenders under the Prepetition Credit Agreement, to obtain a sustainable solution to FairPoint s significant leverage. Through negotiations with a steering committee of lenders under the Prepetition Credit Agreement, FairPoint reached an agreement in October 2009 with the Consenting Lenders, who hold more than 50% of the indebtedness under the Prepetition Credit Agreement on a term sheet regarding the framework for a comprehensive balance sheet restructuring that would result in the conversion of more than $1.7 billion of FairPoint s  indebtedness into equity in FairPoint Communications. Evidencing their support of the Plan Term Sheet, the Consenting Lenders have executed the Plan Support Agreement pursuant to which the Consenting Lenders agreed to support a chapter 11 plan as substantially embodied in the Plan Term Sheet.Thereafter, FairPoint commenced the Chapter 11 Cases on October 26, 2009.Pursuant to the Plan Term Sheet, FairPoint agreed to file a chapter 11 plan that provided for the reorganization of FairPoint as a going concern. The integral components of the agreement with the Consenting Lenders included (i) $75 million of debtor-in-possession financing, which would provide sufficient liquidity to fund FairPoint during the course of the Chapter 11 Cases and (ii) the conversion of approximately $1.1 billion of the indebtedness under the Prepetition Credit Agreement into equity in Reorganized FairPoint Communications.Following the Petition Date, the Ad Hoc Committee of Senior Noteholders raised certain concerns regarding FairPoint s proposed treatment of FairPoint Communications Unsecured Claims under the Plan Term Sheet. In an effort to resolve these concerns, FairPoint, the Lender Steering Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee of Senior Noteholders entered into extensive, arms length negotiations. These negotiations ultimately resulted in certain changes to the terms contained in the Plan Term Sheet and the formulation of the Plan, annexed hereto as Exhibit A (for references, see http://docs.bmcgroup.com/FairPoint/docs/nysb_1-09-bk-16335_575.pdf(link is external)).Under the Plan, Prepetition Credit Agreement Claims (Class 4) will be satisfied in full, as follows: (i) by a pro rata share of New Term Loan in the aggregate principal amount of $1 billion, (ii) by a pro rata share of the Cash Payment, (iii) by a pro rata share of forty-seven million two hundred seventy five thousand seven hundred eighty five (47,275,785) shares of the New Common Stock in Reorganized FairPoint Communications (subject to dilution) and (iv) by a pro rata share of Cash distributable out of the Reserve (as defined herein), provided, however, that if the class of FairPoint Communications  Unsecured Claims rejects the Plan, each holder of a Prepetition Credit Agreement Claim will receive its pro rata share of fifty eight million, four hundred eighty four thousand five hundred eighty seven  (58,484,587) shares of the New Common Stock (subject to dilution), as more fully described in Section VI.C.4 ( Summary of Plan of Reorganization Treatment of Claims and Equity Interests Under the Plan Allowed Prepetition Credit Agreement Claims (Class 4) ) of this Disclosure Statement.FairPoint Communications Unsecured Claims (Class 7) will be satisfied in full under the Plan, as follows: (i) by a pro rata share of four million one hundred ninety thousand six hundred fifty one (4,190,651) shares of the New Common Stock in Reorganized FairPoint Communications (subject to dilution) and (ii) by a pro rata share of the New Warrants to purchase up to seven million one hundred forty-three thousand one hundred fifty six (7,143,156) shares of the New Common Stock, as more fully described in Section VI.D.2 ( Summary of Plan of Reorganization Provisions Regarding New Common Stock and New Warrants Distributed Pursuant to the Plan New Warrants ) of this Disclosure Statement; provided, however, that if the class of FairPoint Communications Unsecured Claims votes to reject the Plan, themembers of the Ad Hoc Committee of Senior Noteholders or its counsel objects to the Plan, the  members of the Creditors Committee or its counsel objects to the Plan, or the Indenture Trustee or its counsel objects to the plan, then the holders of FairPoint Communications Unsecured Claims will not receive any Distributions under the Plan on account of their Claims. The proposed distributions to other creditors are discussed in Section VI.G ( Summary of Plan of Reorganization Distributions under the Plan ) of this Disclosure Statement.Source: FairPoint. 2.8.2010last_img read more

Law School Study: Smart Grid collaboration needed to re-power US

first_imgVermont Law School,The United States needs unprecedented collaboration among electric utilities, government, industry and academia to create a smart grid with clear policies, empowered customers, demonstrated cost savings and a greener environment, according to early results in Vermont Law School’s national smart grid research project. Researchers at VLS’s Institute for Energy and the Environment are studying the legal, policy and regulatory hurdles to upgrading the US electric system with smart grid technology. The federal government has awarded $3.4 billion in stimulus funds to utilities and other entities, making the smart grid a key part of the US clean energy agenda. Vermont, California, Texas and a handful of other states have taken the lead in finding a well-balanced approach to demonstrating and implementing a smart grid system. VLS is conducting case studies of seven diverse utilities across the country in order to recommend best practices that can be replicated nationwide: Commonwealth Edison, Central Vermont Public Service Company, Long Island Power Authority, Pecan Street Project, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Salt River Project and San Diego Gas and Electric.VLS’s final report isn’t due until 2012, but the study’s early results suggest: Clear state policies will speed smart grid results: California and other states that have set clear policies are moving steadily toward their goals rather than getting bogged down in debate over what the goals should be.Statewide collaboration can spur progress and innovation: Unprecedented collaboration among Vermont’s utilities, government, industry and academia has secured federal stimulus money for the rollout out of a statewide smart grid and broadband system. The unique linking of broadband for underserved areas and a smart grid communications network is achieving state policy objectives with noteworthy efficiency.Delivering smarter rates: The Salt River Project’s success with time-of-use rates and customer pre-pay service offers clear promise for voluntary dynamic pricing. The project’s pre-pay program experience’giving customers timely information about their electric usage and letting them control their consumption’has resulted in satisfied customers and a 12 percent drop in power use.Demonstrating the smart grid’s future: The Pecan Street Project’s focus on how a smart grid can provide value to customers and the environment demonstrates the new technology’s end-use potential.Uncertainty will impede the smart grid: Without clear cost recovery policies for utilities, the smart’s grid’s reliability and environmental benefits won’t be fully realized. VLS’s final report will address legal, regulatory, structural and other barriers, including privacy concerns; policy requirements; energy efficiency and demand response; distributed generation and storage; electric vehicle integration; and distribution automation. More information about VLS’s Smart Grid Research Project is available at: www.VermontLaw.edu/smartgrid(link is external)Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, has the top-ranked environmental law program and one of the top-ranked clinical training programs in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service, a Master of Environmental Law and Policy degree and two post-JD degrees, the Master of Laws in Environmental Law and the LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers). The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center and the South Royalton Legal Clinic. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu(link is external).last_img read more

Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross to take leave to work for US DOE

first_imgSouthern Vermont College’s Board of Trustees has announced that SVC’s President Karen Gross has been named as a Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), serving in the Office of the Undersecretary of Education for one year, starting January 17. To enable President Gross to carry out her new duties and serve the DOE, the Board of Trustees has granted her a one-year leave of absence from the College, during which time the College’s Chief Operating Officer, James Beckwith, will serve as Acting President. Under the terms of her appointment, President Gross will focus on issues in higher education including increasing student access to college, improved alignment between high school and college, educational affordability, programmatic quality and college completion rates, all topics she has championed at SVC since her arrival in 2006. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin commented on the appointment, ‘I am very pleased that the President of Southern Vermont College has been selected to serve our nation in the Department of Education. Education is one of the most pressing issues of our time at the local, state and national level. I am sure President Gross will reflect well on Vermont and make a great contribution to education in the United States.’Deborah Wiley, chair of the SVC Board, stated: ‘President Gross’ appointment to this prestigious position at the DOE is not only a tribute to one person’s deep commitment to student success, but a tribute to the entire SVC community which has effectively implemented initiatives and programs that enable a growing number of students to graduate from college and pursue careers that are needed in the workforce. We are proud that our College president will serve the nation in this important role.’In speaking about Jim Beckwith’s leadership in President Gross’ absence, Wiley said, ‘Karen and Jim have known each other for decades and worked closely at SVC for the past four and a half years, sharing a vision for and approach to the College’s noteworthy institutional progress and fiscal stability. Together with an excellent Senior Team, Beckwith will continue SVC’s growth trajectory and commitment to quality, affordable, career-launching education for the College’s 550 students.’In commenting on her appointment, President Gross stated: ‘At SVC, we have been working on the very issues that are engaging the Department of Education and our nation. I look forward to sharing what we are doing here at SVC with a larger audience as we reflect on how to improve affordable college access and completion for many worthy Americans.’Before becoming Southern Vermont College’s eighth president in 2006, Karen Gross was a tenured law professor for more than two decades at New York Law School where she specialized in consumer finance and over-indebtedness. She has served on a variety of governmental committees and task forces and has testified before a wide range of governmental bodies including the Vermont House of Representatives, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. President Gross has also been a consultant for non-governmental organizations. President Gross’ board service has included the New England Board of Higher Education, Campus Compact (a national service-learning organization) and The Sage Colleges. She recently completed three years of service on the NCAA Division III Presidents’ Advisory Council and as President of the New England Collegiate Conference.A prolific author and speaker on such topics as vulnerable student success, financial empowerment education, and asset building in low income communities, Gross is a Phi Beta Kappa cum laude graduate of Smith College and a cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, having spent her final year of law school at the University of Chicago.For more information on the President’s appointment, please visit the SVC Web site, www.svc.edu(link is external). Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing, liberal arts education with 18 academic degree programs for 550 students. SVC recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. SVC’s athletic teams are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III and the New England intercollegiate Collegiate Conference (NECC). The College is accredited by New England Association of Schools and Colleges and has been designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Community-Engagement Classification institution.last_img read more