Vermont courts fine debt settlement company, awards refunds in consumer fraud case

first_imgOrdered the defendants to reimburse the State’s attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $91,059. In July 2010, the Attorney General’s Office sued both CSA and Van Arsdale, alleging that in offering to negotiate reductions in the principal amount of Vermont consumers’ debts, they used unsubstantiated ‘results’ claims (such as ‘Reduce your debt 60 percent in seconds!’) to advertise their debt settlement services; failed to properly notify consumers of their right to cancel their contract with the company; and did business in Vermont without first obtaining the required license from the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. It is unknown whether CSA is still in operation. Vermont Attorney General. 4.2.2012. Barred the defendants from conducting future debt settlement or any similar business in Vermont, or, in the alternative, required them have prior reasonable and specific factual substantiation for any results claims and to comply with the state’s right-to-cancel and debt adjuster licensing requirements. In an Order dated March 21, 2012, the court: Ordered the defendants to provide prompt and full refunds to all 207 consumers who paid fees to the company, totaling approximately $350,000. Washington Superior Judge Michael S. Kupersmith has fined a Texas debt settlement company and its owner/CEO $2.07 million in civil penalties and awarded full refunds to 207 Vermonters in a consumer fraud lawsuit filed by Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell. The defendants in the case are CSA-Credit Solutions of America, LLC, based in Dallas, and its founder, owner and chief executive officer, Doug Van Arsdale. Ordered the defendants to pay civil penalties in the amount of $2.07 million, or the statutory maximum of $10,000 per consumer, based on the ‘substantial and widespread’ nature of the violations of law. Attorney General Sorrell characterized the court’s action as just and appropriate, in light of the serious consumer fraud involved. ‘As Judge Kupersmith noted, the decision provides both a sanction for the defendants’ conduct and a deterrent to similar conduct by them and others in the future,’ said General Sorrell.last_img read more

GMP owner Valener announces Q3 results

first_imgJune 30  2012 3 months ended June 30 (unaudited) Energy, water and fibre optic0.2 $8.10 $1.43Distributions paid per unit to Partners (1)$0.28 HIGHLIGHTS 0.8 2012 126.5 $109.5 (1.4)Corporate Affairs and Other – $- 13.0 1.5 Share in the net income (loss) of Gaz Métro$(0.5) 13.2 3.8 $16.50 Green Mountain Power Corp,Valener Inc of Montreal (Valener) (TSX: VNR), which has held the public ownership interest in Gaz Métro Limited Partnership (Gaz Métro) since September 30, 2010, is today announcing its financial results for the third quarter ended June 30, 2012.Valener’s resultsValener posted a net loss of $0.5 million ($0.02 per common share) for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 versus net income of $0.3 million (nil per common share) for the third quarter of last year. For the first nine months of fiscal 2012, net income totalled $31.3 million ($0.83 per common share) compared to$33.8 million ($0.91 per common share) in the same period last year.These year-over-year decreases of $0.8 million for the third quarter and of $2.5 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2012 were mainly due to the one-time costs incurred for the acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS) by Gaz Métro as well as to the rate reduction authorized by the Régie de l’énergie for fiscal 2012 that translated into lower net income for Gaz Métro. Other factors include temperature-related impacts and changing demand by industrial customers in Gaz Métro’s gas distribution activity, which drove up the average cost of transporting natural gas to Quebec.”Despite these impacts, Gaz Métro’s growth strategy deployments in the electricity sector, including completion of the CVPS acquisition and development of the wind power projects in Quebec and Vermont, are precursory of a promising future for Valener,” said Pierre Monahan, Chairman of the Board of Valener.Excluding the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, Valener would have posted a net income of $1.8 million($0.04 per common share) for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, up $1.4 million from the third quarter of last year, and net income of $33.6 million ($0.89 per common share) for the first nine months of fiscal 2012, comparable to the same period last year.Valener’s consolidated net income (loss), excluding the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, net of income taxes 1.1 Consolidated net income (loss)(0.5) 0.01 $412.5Purchases of property, plant and equipment$105.4 5.9 9 months ended June 30(in millions of dollars, except for share data, which is in dollars) 167.2 $- 8.9 Weighted average number of common shares outstanding (in millions of common shares)37.5 126.2OTHER INFORMATION (unaudited) $21.4Basic and diluted net income (loss) per common share$(0.02) Consolidated net income attributable to common shareholders, excluding the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, net of income taxes, per common share (in $) (1)0.04 (unaudited) 0.89 (4.7) $43.0 $- $46.2 $180.4Cash flows related to operating activities$79.3 $33.8Cash flows related to operating activities$9.0 $3.3 (0.4) 1.5 Consolidated net income attributable to common shareholders, excluding the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, net of income taxes(1)1.5 126.9 Gaz Métro-QDA2.9 3 months ended June 30 (1) 0.9Energy Services and Other (9.2) (5.7) (0.3) 33.3 2011 0.5 (8.1) $52.3Net income (loss)$(0.5) (1.0) (2.9) (4.4) (0.5) Loss on the sale of Aqua Data Inc.- Low$14.60 – Total assets (unaudited)CONSOLIDATED INCOME AND CASH FLOWS 1) These measures are financial measures that are not defined in Canadian generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).Gaz Métro’s prudent and targeted diversification in the electricity sector”The third quarter of fiscal 2012 saw the completion of the acquisition of CVPS, Vermont’s largest electric power distributor. This transaction stands as a major milestone in Gaz Métro’s prudent and targeted diversification strategy in the electricity sector. Gaz Métro successfully ventured into the sector in 2007 with the acquisition of Green Mountain Power Corporation, Vermont’s second largest electric power distributor, and is also involved in developing 341 MW and 63 MW wind power projects in Quebec andVermont,” said Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gaz Métro.”The combination of the two electric utilities in Vermont, will generate significant synergies for both ourVermont customers and our Partners, Valener and Gaz Métro inc.,” added Ms. Brochu.Acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS)On June 27, 2012, having received the required regulatory approvals, Gaz Métro, through its wholly owned subsidiary Northern New England Energy Corporation (NNEEC), acquired all the issued and outstanding shares of CVPS. CVPS serves approximately 160,000 customers in 163 Vermont towns and municipalities.CVPS was acquired for a net cash consideration of $513.5 million (US$500.7 million), $20.0 million of which was paid in fiscal 2011. Transaction-related costs expensed in the income statement were$7.9 million (net of income taxes) for the nine-month period ended June 30, 2012 and $1.8 million in fiscal 2011. The preliminary purchase price allocation resulted in the recognition of $233.1 million of goodwill.Gaz Métro financed the acquisition with 50/50 debt/equity. On November 11, 2011, Gaz Métro inc. (GMi) entered into a note purchase agreement with investors, by way of private placement, for a total capital amount of US$260.0 million. On May 15, 2012, the notes (secured by Gaz Métro) were issued in two series of US$130.0 million each. The notes bear interest at 3.86% and 5.06% per annum and mature 10 years and 30 years after the issuance date, respectively. The proceeds of the issuance were loaned to Gaz Métro on conditions similar to those of the secured notes. For the equity portion, on June 28, 2012, Gaz Métro issued, by way of a private placement, new units to its Partners, GMi and Valener, for total proceeds of $260.0 million.This acquisition paves the way for a business combination, by way of merger, planned for the coming months, between CVPS and Green Mountain Power Corporation (GMP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NNEEC, to create a stronger public utility for Vermont residents. The new utility will cover an extensive area of Vermont and serve more than 255,000 customers. The combined resources will continue to provide the competitively priced power needed for vibrant communities and a growing economy and will strengthen Gaz Métro’s commitment to providing low-carbon electricity.Wind power projects of the Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms 2 and 3 General Partnership (wind power projects 2 and 3)Beaupré à ole General Partnership (which is 51% and 49% indirectly owned by Gaz Métro and Valener, respectively) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Boralex Inc. are equal-share partners in two wind power projects with an installed capacity of 272 megawatts, namely, wind power projects 2 and 3, which are scheduled to begin operations in December 2013.Completion of these wind power projects will require a total investment of approximately $750 million(including financing costs). On November 8, 2011, Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms 2 and 3 General Partnership, the entity that owns these projects, completed a $725 million debt financing (including a construction loan and short-term facilities) with a group of lenders.Construction on wind power projects 2 and 3 began in May 2011 and stopped for the winter inNovember 2011. According to schedule, work resumed on May 7, 2012, and the consortium has since almost completed the road access and foundation work and began work on the collector system and electrical substation as well as erection of some of the concrete towers.Wind power project of Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farm 4 (wind power project 4)Beaupré à ole 4 General Partnership (which is 51% and 49% indirectly owned by Gaz Métro and Valener, respectively) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Boralex inc. are equal-share partners in a wind power project with an installed capacity of 69 megawatts, namely, wind power project 4.Last June, public environment-related hearings were held by the relevant Quebec government agency, BAPE (Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement), and the final report is expected by the end ofSeptember 2012. The decree from the Quebec ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs) is expected to be received in January 2013, which will constitute the final authorization required to begin the work. This wind power project is scheduled to begin operations in December 2014.Subscription of Gaz Métro units and issuance of Series A preferred sharesOn June 28, 2012, Valener subscribed approximately $75 million, representing its proportionate share in the outstanding units, in a private placement equity offering of approximately $260 million by Gaz Métro. Gaz Métro inc. also subscribed for its proportionate share of these units. The purpose of the equity offering was to finance a portion of the CVPS acquisition, which was completed on June 27, 2012.Valener financed this investment using part of the net proceeds of the June 6 issuance of $100 million in Series A cumulative rate reset preferred shares (Series A preferred shares) paying cumulative dividends of$1.0875 per share per annum, for a yield of 4.35% per annum, payable quarterly, for the initial period ending October 15, 2017. The dividend rate will be reset on October 15, 2017 and every five years thereafter at a rate equal to the 5-year Government of Canada bond yield plus 2.81%.Declaration of the quarterly dividends on the common shares and on the Series A preferred sharesValener’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.25 per common share payable on October 15, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 28, 2012. Valener expects to maintain the dividend level at $0.25 per common share for each quarter of fiscal 2013.Under Valener’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan, the Board of Directors approved the reinvestment of dividends into additional common shares, for the dividend payable on October 15, 2012, by way of an issuance of new Valener common shares at a discount of 5% to the weighted average price during the five trading days immediately preceding the dividend payment date.The Board of Directors also declared a first quarterly dividend of $0.39031 per Series A preferred share for the period of June 6, 2012 to October 15, 2012, payable on October 15, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of business on October 12, 2012.Gaz Métro’s resultsExcluding non-recurring items, net income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro totalled $6.1 millionfor the third quarter of fiscal 2012 and $167.2 million for the first nine months of the current fiscal year, year-over-year decreases of $5.7 million and $12.4 million, respectively. These decreases were mainly due to lower net income from the natural gas distribution activity in Quebec, as explained below.Gaz Métro’s segment results – Consolidated net income (loss) attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro (3.6) Gain realized by Gaz Métro à ole inc. on the sale of 49% of its interest in the Seigneurie projects- $0.28 $613.6 (0.4) 162.3 (10.9)Natural Gas Transportation (1.8) Share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro2.3 0.5 – Change 0.4 TQM, PNGTS and Champion Pipe Line Corporation Ltd4.1 151.4 (1.1) First mortgage bonds (Standard & Poor’s (S&P)/DBRS Limited (DBRS)) (3) – – 0.3 2.7 $-CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS 0.9 2011 15.9 0.5 – 0.5 A/A (1) No distributions were made in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, given that, as part of the reorganization of Gaz Métro, a distribution of $0.31 per unit was paid on September 30, 2010 instead of on October 1, 2010.(2) Including the sharing of productivity gains, if applicable, and excluding the Global Energy Efficiency Plan incentive.(3) Through its General Partner, Gaz Métro inc.SOURCE: VALENER INC. MONTREAL, Aug. 10, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ 33.6 0.4 – (21.1)1)Seasonal temperature fluctuations influence the energy consumption levels of customers and in turn influence Gaz Métro’s interim consolidated financial results. Historically, Gaz Métro’s revenues and profitability are higher in the first two quarters of a fiscal year than in the last two quarters.2)These costs consist of the interest on the long-term debt incurred by Gaz Métro to finance investments in the subsidiaries, joint ventures and companies subject to significant influence of each segment.3)This measure is a financial measure that is not defined in Canadian GAAP. (1.2)   9 months ended June 30(in millions of dollars, except for unit data, which is in dollars) $11.9 (0.9) $9.25 Corporate reorganization expenses- 4.7 7.6 $2,370.3 180.4 $25.92 126.3 0.1 4.0 0.4 9.09%Credit ratings September 30 2011 VALENER INC.  3 months ended June 30 9 months ended June 30 (1)(in millions of dollars)2012 1.1 $1,329.1 2011 0.2 0.2 $- 2.4 (unaudited) 2.3 (1.5) (7.6) $- (0.7) 2012 – 1.7 $13.55 – $18.37 (1.1) 3.1 0.1 September 30 2011 High$25.92 15.3 33.6 – (1.8) (0.1) $158.1 $99.7 (0.1) Corporate Affairs and Other(0.5) $159.3 $0.91Dividends declared per share to shareholders of record on December 30, 2011, March 30, 2012 and June 29, 2012$0.25 773.8 (2.8) $73.7Basic and diluted net income (loss) per unit attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro$(0.01) – June 30  2012 $11.5 179.6 2011 (2.7) 0.91 $14.1 0.8 (1.4) $120.3Changes in deferred charges and credits$41.6 (0.6) 26.9 9.69% (9.3) $16.05 0.3 (12.4)Non-recurring items(3)(7.9) 2.5 A-1(low)/R-1(low) 2012 A/A (0.2) (0.2) Income taxes on the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro- 33.6 2011 7.9 2012 Less: Cumulative dividends on preferred shares0.3 (unaudited) (unaudited) 696.6 (0.3) Commercial paper (S&P/DBRS) (3) (7.9) $672.7Total debt$ $0.75Weighted average number of common shares outstanding (in millions) $0.83 3.6 $0.25 $0.75 A-1(low)/R-1(low)CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS $364.1 1.6 37.4 Close$15.29 $1,676.4Gross margin$156.7 $31.3 0.2 $-Shareholders’ equity$ Financing costs of investments in this segment(2)(0.4) VGS, GMP and CVPS(6.8) Authorized rate of return on deemed common equity (Gaz Métro’s natural gas distribution activity in Quebec) (2) 159.3 (3.6) 17.0 $16.22 $15.29 $16.22Market prices of Series A preferred shares on the TSX: $1,762.9Partners’ equity attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro (7.6) $1,549.9 37.3 Low$25.10 $16.88 $25.10 – Financing costs of investments in this segment(2)(0.6) 148.2 $25.50 2011 $- Close$25.50 (2.3) 11.8 $624.9Net income (loss) attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro$(1.8) (1.3) 7.9 0.3 0.1 Financing costs of investments in this segment(2)(2.5) $602.6 Market prices of common shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX): 2012 – (unaudited)CONSOLIDATED INCOME AND CASH FLOWS 37.0OTHER INFORMATION 3.5 (13.3) – (0.3) 2011 Revenues$334.3 Consolidated net income, excluding the share in the non-recurring items of Gaz Métro, net of income taxes1.8 GAZ Mà TRO LIMITED PARTNERSHIP  3 months ended June 30 11.5 High$15.48 $405.0 33.8 $0.09 Total assets$ 31.3 (1.6) 139.0 $1,023.3Partners’ equity per unit attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro (audited) Segment analysis of Gaz Métro’s resultsQuebec Natural Gas Distribution (Gaz Métro-QDA)For the third quarter of fiscal 2012, Gaz Métro-QDA’s normalized natural gas deliveries totalled 1,036 million cubic metres, down 38 million cubic metres or 3.5% from the same quarter last year.For the first nine months of fiscal 2012, deliveries totalled 4,560 million cubic metres, down 44 million cubic metres or 1.0% from the first nine months of last year.It should be noted that Gaz Métro-QDA’s normalized natural gas deliveries exceeded those in the 2012 rate case, which had anticipated year-over-year decreases of 85 million cubic metres or 7.9% for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 and of 296 million cubic metres or 6.4% for the first nine months of fiscal 2012.In the industrial market, nine-month natural gas deliveries rose 0.5% from the first nine months of fiscal 2011, partly due to greater consumption, particularly in the metallurgy, refining and petrochemical sectors and, to a lesser extent, in the pulp and paper sector.Normalized deliveries to the residential and commercial markets declined 0.2% and 3.7%, respectively, from the first nine months of fiscal 2011, essentially due to slow economic growth combined with energy conservation measures undertaken by Gaz Métro-QDA’s customers, partly offset by the maturation of new sales.Gaz Métro-QDA’s net income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro totalled $2.9 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 and $139.0 million for the first nine months, year-over-year decreases of $4.7 millionand $9.2 million, respectively. These decreases were mainly due to:the rate reduction authorized for fiscal 2012 that resulted in a $6.8 million decline in net income for the third quarter ($5.6 million decline for the nine-month period); andthe higher average cost of transportation tools, which could not be recovered from customers, resulting from changing demand from industrial customers, despite a higher level of deliveries than anticipated in the 2012 rate case.These items were partly offset, among other factors, by the favourable impact on the gross margin of the distribution service due to higher normalized natural gas deliveries to the industrial market compared to the 2012 rate case. This made it possible to recover the unfavourable impacts, recognized in the first six months of fiscal 2012, due to considerably warmer-than-normal temperatures.Project to serve the Côte-Nord regionThe Côte-Nord region is the last of Quebec’s major industrial regions that does not yet benefit from the environmental and economic advantages of natural gas, and large amounts of heavy oil are currently consumed in that region.However, the distance separating the Côte-Nord from Gaz Métro-QDA’s existing infrastructures is considerable. More than 450 km of pipeline would have to be laid to connect Saguenay to Sept-à les, passing through the other major industrial centres of Baie-Comeau and Port-Cartier.Such a project would require an investment of about $750 million, adding approximately 40% to Gaz Métro-QDA’s rate base. To make a fully informed decision on a project of such magnitude, the Quebecgovernment and Gaz Métro are diligently carrying out the following three comprehensive feasibility studies:market studies to determine the expected potential energy consumption in the Côte-Nord if natural gas were available;environmental and social studies to select the lowest-impact route for the gas pipeline; andtechnical and financial feasibility studies, including engineering, to optimize the design and confirm the costs.These studies are under way and the conclusions are expected by the end of 2012. If the conclusions are positive, Gaz Métro-QDA will continue the regulatory and environmental approval processes in 2013 while continuing to consult the main stakeholders to evaluate their needs and expectations. If all the necessary approvals are obtained, the preparatory work and construction of Gaz Métro-QDA’s Côte-Nord service could start in 2014 with a view to operational start-up at the end of 2015 or in 2016.First project to inject biomethane in Gaz Métro-QDA’s networkOn July 26, 2012, Gaz Métro announced the first project to inject biomethane into its network. This major project is an important milestone in the development of a new renewable energy in Quebec. It involves the construction of an anaerobic digestion plant in Saint-Hyacinthe as well as the infrastructures needed to feed biomethane into Gaz Métro-QDA’s distribution network.The Quebec government has created a program to treat organic wastes through biomethanation, or composting, and thereby divert organic materials from landfills to produce a new green energy, biomethane, that will aim at replacing fossil and other fuels.Use of the biomethane produced in Saint-Hyacinthe will eventually reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) by 25,000 tonnes annually. Under the agreement with the City of Saint-Hyacinthe, Gaz Métro-QDA will purchase the energy produced by the city and install the infrastructures needed to inject biomethane into its distribution network and make it available to customers. As a public utility, Gaz Métro will therefore be serving the needs of municipalities and the Quebec government’s goal of promoting biomethane, a locally produced, renewable energy. The project is subject to the approval of the Régie de l’énergie.Energy Distribution in VermontThe results attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from energy distribution activities in Vermont, which now include the results of CVPS, showed a $9.3 million net loss1 for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, down$10.8 million from net income of $1.5 million in the same period of 2011. The main factors underlying this decrease were:$7.9 million in costs (net of income taxes) related to the CVPS acquisition and severance benefits payable to certain of its officers; anda $2.8 million increase in financial expenses resulting, in particular, from the additional financing associated with the CVPS acquisition and GMP’s Kingdom Community Wind (KCW) project.These items were offset by a 3.2% increase in GMP’s distribution rates attributable to its 2012 rate case and by the decrease in its direct electricity supply costs.For the first nine months, net income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from energy distribution activities in Vermont totalled $4.5 million 1, a $9.6 million year-over-year decrease that came mainly from the above-described factors, from reductions in VGS’s natural gas deliveries and GMP’s electricity deliveries due, among others, to temperatures considerably warmer year over year, and from increases in VGS’s and GMP’s operating and maintenance costs.Excluding the one-time expenses related to the CPVS acquisition, the net loss attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from energy distribution activities in Vermont was $1.4 million 1 for the third quarter, and net income was $12.4 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2012, corresponding to declines of$2.9 million and $1.7 million, respectively, from the same periods of fiscal 2011.Kingdom Community Wind (KCW) projectAt the end of fiscal 2011, GMP began construction of the KCW project, a 63-megawatt wind power project located in Lowell, Vermont. This US$150-million, 21-turbine project will supply power to more than 24,000 households consisting of GMP customers and members of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc. Construction is proceeding as planned with operational start-up scheduled for the end of 2012. At this time, construction of the access road and all of the turbine pads has been completed as well as the power transmission line for the wind farm. Erection of the towers began in July 2012.Since this investment is regulated and part of GMP’s rate base, it will be financed through both debt and equity, in accordance with GMP’s capital structure. To that effect, on November 16, 2011, GMP issued, by way of private placement, US$50.0 million in Series A First Mortgage Bonds. On April 2, 2012, GMP issued the second tranche of Series B First Mortgage Bonds in the amount of US$25.0 million. The remainder of the investment will be financed by an equity injection from Gaz Métro, through NNEEC.Natural Gas TransportationNet income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from the Natural Gas Transportation segment totalled $3.5 million 1 for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, up $0.8 million from the third quarter of fiscal 2011. This increase came mainly from the higher share in the income of Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), which, given a decline in the natural gas available on other networks, increased its transported volumes of natural gas and consequently its short-term revenues and interruptible service revenues, as well as from lower costs for its pending rate cases before the FERC.For the first nine months, the segment’s net income totalled $13.0 million 1, down $0.2 million from the same period in fiscal 2011. This decline was mainly due to the fact that Trans Québec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc. (TQM) had benefited from a favourable adjustment to its amortization expense in the first quarter of fiscal 2011, after the amortization rates for property, plant and equipment were revised downward upon National Energy Board approval.Natural Gas StorageNet income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from the Natural Gas Storage segment totalled$1.6 million 1 for the third quarter of fiscal 2012 and $4.7 million 1 for the first nine months, up $0.5 millionand $0.9 million, respectively, from the same periods last year. These slight increases were mainly due to lower operating expenses as certain maintenance projects were delayed.Energy Services and OtherThe net income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro from the Energy Services and Other segment was nil1 in the third quarter of fiscal 2012, down $0.1 million from the same period in fiscal 2011. For the first nine months, the segment’s net income totalled $1.7 million, down $1.2 million from the same period in fiscal 2011. This decrease relates mainly to the fiscal 2011 sale of the interests in Aqua Data Inc. and MTO Telecom Inc. and to higher expenses for Gaz Métro Transport Solutions, L.P. (Transport Solutions), which began its operations in fiscal 2011. Being in the start-up phase, Transport Solutions has started to execute its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply contract for vehicles, in addition to building the refuelling stations. These factors were partly offset by HydroSolution L.P.’s higher profitability from higher rental rates for water heaters and from greater unit sales in the electric water heater business as well as from additional revenues generated on the sale of heating and air conditioning equipment that began inMarch 2011.Natural gas as transportation fuelTransport Solutions, an indirect subsidiary of Gaz Métro created to develop natural gas for use as fuel by the transport industry, is deploying the Blue Road. Since July 2011, it has been installing the facilities needed to supply LNG to 180 freight trucks from three refuelling stations, under an agreement entered into with Transport Robert 1973 Ltée (Robert Transport). The Boucherville and Mississauga stations have been in operation since September 19, 2011 and January 16, 2012, respectively. Construction of the third station, which will be located in the Quebec City region, is planned for fiscal 2013. For Transport Solutions, the project represents an investment of approximately $5 million. Delivery of trucks ordered by Robert Transport began in autumn 2011 and is continuing in fiscal 2012.On July 31, 2012, Gaz Métro announced a first public liquefied biomethane fuelling station in Rivière-du-Loup. Attentive to the needs of municipalities and the government’s goal to promote green energy, Transport Solutions has signed an agreement with the Société d’économie mixte d’énergie renouvelable de la région de Rivière-du-Loup (Sà MER). Under this agreement, Transport Solutions will buy all the liquefied biomethane produced by the Rivière-du-Loup plant for a minimum of 20 years and will operate a new biomethane fuelling station for the heavy transport market.Conference callValener will hold a conference call with financial analysts today, Friday, August 10, 2012 at 11 a.m. (Eastern Time) to discuss its results and those of Gaz Métro for the third quarter ended June 30, 2012.Pursuant to an administration and management support agreement entered into between Valener and Gaz Métro on September 30, 2010, Gaz Métro acts as the manager of Valener. As such, Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Pierre Despars, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Financial Officer of Gaz Métro inc., the General Partner of Gaz Métro, will be the speakers, and a question period will follow.The call will be broadcast live and accessible by dialling 647-427-7450 or toll-free 1-888-231-8191. It will also be available via webcast on Valener’s website (www.valener.com(link is external)) in the Events & Presentations page of the Investors section.Media and other interested parties are invited to listen in on this conference call. After the conference call, the speakers will be available for media interviews and questions.For 30 days afterward, a rebroadcast will be accessible by dialling 416-849-0833 or toll-free 1-855-859-2056 (access code: 11792953). For 90 days afterward, the call can be played back on the above-mentioned website.Overview of ValenerValener owns an economic interest of approximately 29% in Gaz Métro. Valener therefore has a stake in the energy industry and benefits from Gaz Métro’s diversified profile, both in terms of geography and business segment. Valener also owns an indirect interest of 24.5% in the wind power projects developed with Gaz Métro and Boralex inc. on the private lands of Séminaire de Québec. Valener’s common shares and preferred shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the “VNR” trading symbol for common shares and under the “VNR.PR.A” symbol for Series A preferred shares. www.valener.com(link is external)Overview of Gaz MétroWith almost $5 billion in assets as at June 30, 2012, Gaz Métro is a major energy distributor. It is the principal natural gas distributor in Quebec, where its more than 10,000-km underground distribution network serves some 300 municipalities. Gaz Métro is also present in Vermont, where it is active in the electricity distribution and natural gas markets. Gaz Métro is actively involved in the development of innovative energy projects such as the production of wind power, the use of natural gas as a fuel for transportation, and the promotion of biomethane. Gaz Métro is committed to the satisfaction of its over 180,000 customers in Quebec and 295,000 customers in Vermont, its Partners (Gaz Métro inc. and Valener), its employees and the communities it serves. www.gazmetro.com(link is external)Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statementsThis press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking information reflects the intentions, plans, expectations and opinions of the management of GMi, in its capacity as General Partner of Gaz Métro, and acting as manager of Valener (the management of the manager) and is based on information currently available to the management of the manager and assumptions about future events. Forward-looking statements can often be identified by words such as “plans,” “expects,” “estimates,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “anticipates” or “believes,” or similar expressions, including the negative and conjugated forms of these words. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties and other factors beyond the control of the management of the manager. A number of factors could cause the actual results of Valener or of Gaz Métro to differ significantly from current expectations, as described in the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to the general nature of the aforementioned, terms of decisions rendered by regulatory agencies, the competitiveness of natural gas in relation to other energy sources, the reliability of natural gas supply, the integrity of the natural gas distribution system, the progress of wind power projects and other development projects, the ability to complete attractive acquisitions and the related financing and integration aspects, the ability to secure future financing, general economic conditions, exchange rate fluctuations, and other factors described in the Risk Factors Relating to Valener and the Risk Factors Relating to Gaz Métro sections of Valener’s and Gaz Metro’s MD&As for the year endedSeptember 30, 2011 and in Valener’s disclosure filings. Although the forward-looking statements contained herein are based on what the management of the manager believes to be reasonable assumptions, among others, assumptions to the effect that no unforeseen changes in the legislative and regulatory framework of energy markets in Quebec and in the New England states will occur; that no significant event occurring outside the ordinary course of business, such as a natural disaster or other calamity, will occur; that Gaz Métro can continue to distribute substantially all of its net income (excluding non-recurring items); that the wind power projects in which Valener and Gaz Métro are indirectly involved will be completed on time and within the defined parameters; that GMP and CVPS will obtain the required approvals from federal and state authorities for their merger; that GMP will be able to quickly and effectively integrate CVPS’s operations; and that the conclusions of studies on the project to serve the Côte-Nord region will be positive and that the required regulatory approvals will be obtained in addition to the other assumptions described in the MD&A of Valener and Gaz Métro for the quarter endedJune 30, 2012, the management of the manager cannot assure investors that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of this date, and the management of the manager assumes no obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required pursuant to applicable securities laws. Readers are cautioned to not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.____________________1 Net of financing costs $281.6 $30.0 ChangeEnergy Distribution 0.4 (1.5) $0.3 37.0 (8.7)Consolidated net income (loss) attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro(1.8) $0.84 $0.56Weighted average number of units outstanding(in millions) (1.5) Financing costs of investments in this segment(2)(0.2) 2012 37.3 Costs related to the CVPS acquisition (net of income taxes)7.9 $16.05 (unaudited) $3,727.2Total debt 2011 (unaudited) Intragaz2.0 9.1 (0.2)Natural Gas Storage 0.1 7.9 (audited) 37.5 0.8 $4,999.5 (0.2) (0.8)Consolidated net income attributable to the Partners of Gaz Métro, excluding non-recurring items(3)6.1 $1.26 0.3 37.4 9 months ended June 30(in millions of dollars, unless otherwise indicated)2012 1.0 5.1last_img read more

NFIB says proposed tax plan will dampen consumer demand and hurt Vermont’s economy

first_imgThe National Federation of Independent Business today said that a big tax package approved recently by the House will hit consumers in the wallet and hurt small businesses in Vermont.‘ We can’ t keep doing this,’ said NFIB state Director Shawn Shouldice.  ‘ The Governor said earlier this year that he saw no need for tax increases.  He acknowledged in the past that Vermont has reached its tax capacity and is risking its competitiveness with high taxes.  And here we are again debating whether to pick more money out of the pockets of Vermonters who can least afford to pay them.’The $30 Million tax package passed by the House would expand the sales tax to include all clothing (more than $110), candy, soda, bottled water and dietary supplements.  It would increase the sales tax on tobacco products, increase the levy on meals and vending machine purchases and implement the ‘ Cloud Tax’ .‘ We share a border with New Hampshire where there is no sales tax,’ said Shouldice.  ‘ Why would we give Vermonters more reasons to leave the state to buy what they want?’The House plan would also reduce the number of income tax deductions for so-called high earners and consolidate the two highest brackets into the top rate.‘ The income tax is a small business tax,’ said Shouldice.  ‘ That’ s the way that most Vermont small businesses pay their taxes.  So raising the income tax will hurt the small businesses that are in the best position to create new jobs and make investments in our economy.’Backers of the tax package say it’ s necessary to make up for reductions in federal spending.This package of taxes comes on the heels of $50 million increase in the statewide property tax, a $49 million increase in the gas tax and the continuation of the $9 million Catamount Employer Assessment.‘ Every small business and every household in Vermont has had to prioritize and make adjustments during this recession,’ she said.  ‘ The downside to Vermont’ s overreliance on federal dollars is rearing its ugly head, our elected officials can’ t keep doing what they are doing they must start thinking outside the box.’   Montpelier has acknowledged that next year’ s fiscal situation will be similar.Montpelier (April 3, 2013) ‘   www.nfib.com(link is external).last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims increase again to over 1,000

first_imgNew unemployment claims in Vermont increased again last week, as claims edged higher than for the same time last year. For the week of April 13, 2013, there were 1,068 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is an increase of 171 from the previous week’s total, and 50 more than they were a year ago.Altogether 8,718 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 142 from a week ago and 746 fewer than a year ago. The Department also processed 920 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 46 more than a week ago.In addition, there were 36 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is 4 more than the week before. The Tier II program of extended benefits is being discontinued in Vermont as the state’s unemployment rate has been under the federal threshold for more than three months.  The total for all programs was 9,683 claims, the exact same as last week and 2,024 fewer than the same time last year.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)Vermont’s unemployment rate fell three-tenths to 4.1 percent in March, the third lowest rate in the nation and lowest in New England. SEE STORY.last_img read more

Vermont unemployment rate drops to 4.1 percent in March

first_imgThe Vermont Department of Labor announced today that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for March 2013 was 4.1 percent. This represents a decline of three-tenths of a percent from the prior month’ s estimate of 4.4 percent. The comparative national average was 7.6 percent which was down one-tenth of a percent from February. March 2013 represents the eighth consecutive month without an increase to the unemployment rate in Vermont. As of the prior month’ s data, Vermont’ s unemployment rate was tied for the third lowest in the country.SEE TABLES BELOW‘ The Vermont economy is transitioning from winter to spring employment activities. As the ski areas are winding down, the construction and hospitality sectors are gearing up. We anticipate hiring in these and other sectors, based upon our daily phone interactions with Vermont employers in which we inventory job openings. We are concerned about possible job reductions in the defense-related industries in Vermont resulting from the federal sequestration, but can assist any impacted workers through Dislocated Worker funding. The Department of Labor’ s regional Career Resource Centers are hosting job fairs and recruitment activities for Vermont employers, and matching job seekers to those openings. All of these efforts, including reemployment assessment work with unemployed Vermonters, are making a difference for job seekers. Vermont students who are interested in summer jobs or internships should begin the application process soon’ , said Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan.The seasonally adjusted Vermont data for March show the Vermont civilian labor force decreased by 1,650 from the prior month estimates. The number of employed decreased by 550 and the number of unemployed decreased by 1,100. The over-the-month declines in the civilian labor force, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed were statistically significant.March unemployment rates for Vermont’ s 17 labor market areas ranged from 2.9 percent in Warren-Waitsfield to 7.6 percent in Newport (note: local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted). For comparison, the March unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 4.6 percent which reflects a one-tenth of a percent decrease from the February level and a decline of seven-tenths of a percent from a year ago. Not Seasonally AdjustedThe preliminary ‘ not-seasonally-adjusted’ jobs estimates for March show a decrease of 1,800 jobs when compared to the revised February numbers. This reported over-the-month change does not include the 50 job increase between the preliminary and the revised February estimates due to the inclusion of more data. The monthly decrease seen in the March numbers was predominately attributable to seasonal decreases in the Leisure & Hospitality sectors. The broader economic trends can be detected by focusing on the over-the-year changes in this data series. As detailed in the preliminary ‘ not seasonally adjusted’ March data, Total Private industries have increased by 0.9 percent (2,250 jobs) and Government has increased by 0.8 percent (450 jobs) within the last year.Seasonally AdjustedThe seasonally adjusted data for March reports a decrease of 400 jobs from the revised February data. As with the ‘ not-seasonally-adjusted’ data, this over-the-month change is from the revised February numbers which experienced no change from the preliminary estimates. The seasonally adjusted over-the-month changes in March were mixed at the sectoral level. Those with a notable percent decrease include: Leisure & Hospitality (-600 jobs or -1.8 percent), Financial Activities (-200 jobs or -1.6 percent) and Professional & Business Services (-300 jobs or -1.1 percent). Sectors with notable percent gains include: Construction (200 jobs or 1.4 percent) and Education & Health Services (700 jobs or 1.1 percent).Governor Peter Shumlin issued the following statement on Vermont’ s March unemployment rate: ‘ The news today of another drop in the Vermont’ s unemployment rate, to 4.1 percent, is further proof that the state’ s economy continues to rebound from the worst recession in our memory. Vermont now has the third lowest unemployment rate in the country and the strongest job market in the region, reflecting what I’ m hearing from business owners as I travel the state. While we know the rate will fluctuate up and down over time, the consistent downward trend in recent months shows that employers are hiring and need skilled workers. We are working hard to ensure Vermonters are qualified to fill those jobs and are connected with the employers who need workers.’last_img read more

Burlington Free Press cuts 13 jobs

first_imgFree Press Media,by Tim McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The parent company of the Burlington Free Press, FreePressMedia, which includes the daily print newspaper and online edition, has announced that it has cut 13 workers from various, unspecified departments. The announcement was dated Thursday and a short story appeared on page 9B of Friday’s print edition. The layoffs appear to be part of a system-wide downsizing by parent-company Gannett.‘We regret the steps we had to take today,’Free Press President and Publisher Jim Fogler was quoted as saying. ‘We greatly appre­ciate the contributions these employees have made to the Free Press.’He went on to say: ‘As we retool our busi­ness, we have responded with innovation and in­vestment to serve an ever­increasing number of digi­tal consumers. From our compact smart print edition to more digital video than any oth­er local media, FreePress-Media will continue to de­liver outstanding journal­ism and integrated mar­keting solutions to our customers and partners. Our dedicated and ex­pert work force allows us to do this every single day across print and digital platforms.Folger has been consistently forthcoming as the state’s largest newspaper has transitioned from a traditional broadsheet newspaper to a tabloid in June 2012 and reduced its workforce. FreePressMedia reported to Vermont Business Magazine earlier this year that it had 200 employees. It is owned by Gannett Company Inc, which in recent years has been consolidating operations, such as production and back-office operations, in regional centers across the country.The Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that another Gannett newspaper, the Arizona Republic, laid off 29, as 225 workers were cut across the country. Along with Burlington, the PBJ reported that there were 19 jobs cut in Indianapolis, 31 in Wisconsin and 13 in New Jersey and Mississippi. The story said more Gannett layoffs could come Monday at other sites.Gannett’s overall revenues were up slightly in its second quarter, according to its financial report issued July 22, but its publishing segment was down, even with an increase in circulation revenue as its online issues have gone to a paid subscription model.In its second quarter report, it stated: “Publishing segment revenues in the quarter totaled $904.2 million, a 1.7 percent decline from $920.3 million in the second quarter a year ago. On a constant currency basis, publishing segment revenues were 1.4 percent lower as a substantial increase in circulation revenue was more than offset by lower advertising revenue.”last_img read more

Governor Shumlin appoints Judge Geoffrey Crawford to Vermont Supreme Court

first_imgGovernor appoints former Administration Secretary Kathy Hoyt to House seatThu Sep 19 2013Governor Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday that he will appoint Kathy Hoyt of Norwich to the State House seat held by Representative Margaret Cheney. Hoyt has extensive experience in state government, previously serving as Commissioner of Employment and Training, Planning Director for the Vermont Human Services Agency, and Gov. Madeleine Kunin’s and Gov. Howard Dean’s Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Agency of Administration. Governor appoints Margaret Cheney to Public Service BoardMon Sep 16 2013Governor Peter Shumlin today announced that he has appointed state Representative Margaret Cheney of Norwich to serve as a member of the Public Service Board. Cheney has been elected to the Legislature for four terms, and served as vice-chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. She will resign from the Legislature in order to take her new post, and will begin hearing new matters before the Board starting October 1. Before leaving on his EB-5 trip to China on Sunday, Governor Peter Shumlin is first getting his house in order. The governor announced today that he will appoint Judge Geoffrey Crawford to serve on the Vermont Supreme Court, replacing retired Justice Brian Burgess. Already this week, Shumlin has named a new Education Secretary, a new member of the high-profile Public Service Board, shuffled his Administration staff and appointed a new legislator. Judge Crawford has served as a trial court judge since 2002, when he was appointed by Governor Howard Dean to the Superior Court.  Previously, he was in private practice as a partner at O’Neill Crawford & Green in Burlington, where he handled a variety of civil matters, including commercial litigation and personal injury cases.‘Geoff’s compassion and his years of experience as a trial judge, where he has served with a collegial attitude and well-regarded intellect, will make him a very strong addition to the Supreme Court,’ said Gov. Shumlin.  ‘His reputation for fairness and rigor, as well as his demonstrated commitment to ensuring that our judiciary serves the needs of Vermonters, make me very proud to appoint him to the Court.’   Crawford said he is looking forward to joining the court.‘It is a joy and a great honor to serve in the Vermont judiciary  with so many dedicated staff members and fellow judges all working together to ensure justice for Vermonters.  I am deeply grateful for this new opportunity,’ Crawford said.In addition to serving as a trial judge, Crawford is presently a board member of Dismas of Vermont, Burlington, as well as the New England Organ Bank.  He is a past recipient of the Thibodeau-Wall Award for Community Service by the Howard Center, as well as the Catherine McAuley Award by Mercy Connection.   He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.  He and his wife live in Burlington and have raised five children.   RELATEDShumlin picks Rebecca Holcombe as next Education SecretaryThu Sep 19 2013by Tim McQuiston, VBM, and Alicia Freese, vtdigger.org September 19, 2013 A Dartmouth College educator has been named by Governor Peter Shumlin as Vermont’s next Secretary of Education. Rebecca Holcombe is a Harvard educated Lecturer and Director of the Teacher Education Program at Dartmouth. She will take over from Armando Vilaseca when he steps down in January. Holcombe lives in Norwich.center_img Governor Shumlin, AOA Secretary Spaulding announce staff changesThu Sep 19 2013Governor Peter Shumlin and Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding today made a series of position announcements for the Agency of Administration and Governor’s Office.  last_img read more

General Assembly asked to stay positive amid gloomy predictions

first_imgby Alicia Freese vtdigger.org Lawmakers convened Wednesday for a gathering that House Speaker Shap Smith encouraged them not to view as a ‘doom and gloom session.’ The senators and representatives were briefed on a $72 million budget gap, the serious shortfall in the teacher retirement fund, possible cuts to federal funding, and the status of the state’s still-not-entirely-functional health exchange.The Legislature doesn’t convene until January 9, but Smith described the Wednesday meeting as a way to give lawmakers the ‘lay of the land’ ahead of that date.Shumlin’s agenda: Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding offered a bare bones sketch of Governor Peter Shumlin’s priorities for the upcoming session. His top one is already a familiar refrain in the Statehouse halls: creating jobs and prosperity.Beyond that, Spaulding said, Shumlin is focused on improving Vermont Health Connect, bolstering the Vermont Working Landscape initiative, ‘finishing the job’ on early education and preschool, completing statewide broadband coverage, and balancing the budget.Fiscal woes: Legislative economist Tom Kavet gave a rundown on the revenue coming into the state. ‘This is not all doom and gloom, but it could be a whole lot better,’ he told lawmakers. Incoming revenues to the state’s three main funds ‘ general, transportation and education ‘ are very slightly above target, according to Kavet. He noted that while he hasn’t observed any ‘big revenue weakness,’ neither does he expect any ‘big budget rescue coming in revenues.’Absent an unexpected revenue ‘rescue,’ the Shumlin administration and lawmakers will be left grappling with what Steve Klein, the chief fiscal officer for the Legislature, estimates will be a $72 million budget gap for fiscal year 2015.But before they face that, the administration will ask the Legislature to approve a budget adjustment for fiscal year 2014, which Finance and Management Commissioner Jim Reardon currently pegs at $13.5 million. Reardon said he would deliver a definitive figure to the House Appropriations Committee on Dec. 2.During the afternoon session, State Treasurer Beth Pearce briefed lawmakers on rising health care costs and the burden that’s placed on the teachers retirement system.Vermont Health Connect: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been critical of the halting start to Vermont’s health insurance exchange, Vermont Health Connect..Department of Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson, addressing the Legislature as whole for the first time since its launch, began by saying, ‘It’s important for me to acknowledge the obvious.’The ‘obvious,’ as Larson describes it, is that the exchange has not lived up to expectations.Some lawmakers didn’t find Larson’s admission satisfactory, saying they thought he owed them a more forthright mea culpa. ‘Did you hear an apology?’ Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, asked afterwards.One of the central hitches has been the payment system, which will allow people to actually purchase plans. That, Larson said, is still being tested. Another major problem has prevented employees from picking a plan after their employer registers. Larson also acknowledged that navigators hadn’t received sufficient training ‘ ‘We would have preferred to give navigators more training before October 1.’Larson also pointing to glimmers of improvement. The speed of the website, which crawled when it first launched, has picked up to the point it ‘operates at a speed that allows them [users] to function,’ Larson said. And enrollment numbers are a testament to the site’s functionality, he said, noting that roughly 16,000 people have set up accounts and over 5,000 have picked a plan.Mental Health: Mental Health Commissioner Paul Dupre said the state is making progress making more beds available at mental health facilities, but in the meantime, psychiatric patients are still spending as long as 15 days in hospital emergency rooms while they wait for a bed to open up. This problem has been perennial since the Vermont State Hospital was flooded and subsequently shut down after Tropical Storm Irene.‘I know that sounds awful but there’s no way around it at the moment,’ Dupre said.Rep. Martha Heath, D-Westford, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, told him, ‘Paul, we’ve put $20 million or more into the community-based system in hopes of beefing up the system, but also preventing the need to fill more acute beds. I’m really worried about the timing. And whether the community system is going to be functional in time that we don’t start overbuilding acute beds and residential recovery beds. What assurances can you give me that we aren’t going to do that?’Dupre rehashed the challenges the department is facing before telling Heath, ‘I wish I could give you assurances, but I can’t.’last_img read more

Northern Stage makes plans for new theater building

first_imgNorthern Stage has recently embarked on The Campaign for Northern Stage, a $9 million plan to build a new theater on the site of the former Miller Auto Garage on Gates Street in White River Junction, Vermont. Plans call for construction to begin in September 2014 and for the new theater to open in time for the company’s 19th season in the fall of 2015. Janet Miller Haines, Chair of the Board of Directors, stated, “The company has long envisioned a new theater venue for our audiences and artists to convene. I could not be more excited about helping to make this dream come alive.”In September of 2013, Northern Stage began conversations with Bread Loaf Corporation and Theatre Projects Consultants to develop the designs for a new venue. The Campaign for Northern Stage officially began in February of 2014 with the Board of Directors’ vote to move forward with these architectural plans. At that time, they also selected Bread Loaf Corporation as the Design/Build firm and approved a motion to begin fundraising. Since then, 53% of the overall fundraising goal has been pledged, permits and planning approvals are in process with the Town of Hartford, and progress is being made to further the financing and construction of the project.Managing Director Eric Bunge brings expertise and experience to The Campaign’s efforts. Mr. Bunge recently spearheaded a similar project for the Commonweal Theater Company in Lanesboro, Minnesota. “I have witnessed first-hand the transformational effects a project like this can have on an organization, its audience, and region. It is truly an exciting time to be in the Upper Valley and a part of Northern Stage.”“The momentum around this project has been powerful,” stated Artistic Director Carol Dunne. “A new home will allow the company to enhance our artistry, enrich our programs, and become a new work incubator. Northern Stage will grow from a professional theater with regional impact to a regional theater with national impact. ”Northern Stage’s presence in the Upper Valley is due to the support of the region’s businesses, organizations, and people, notably the Briggs family who own the company’s current venue. Janet Miller Haines stated, “Since our founding in 1997, we have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the Briggs family. The intimacy of the Briggs Opera House has become a hallmark of Northern Stage’s work. We have designed the new theater to honor this tradition.”Cyn Barrette, Co-Chair of the Leadership Committee for The Campaign for Northern Stage stated, “A new home for Northern Stage will transform our patron’s experience and allow us all to appreciate the art in a completely new and exciting way.”With 17,500 gross square footage, the new building will feature:•       A bright and visible frontage to welcome patrons and bring new aesthetic vitality to White River Junction.•       An intimate and modern 250-seat theater with unobstructed sight-lines and no seat farther than 38 feet from the stage.•       Ground floor access with a drop-off area and an easily accessible box office.  •       A spacious lobby with welcome amenities, including concessions, coat rooms, art on the walls, and ample restroom facilities. •       A thrust stage very much like our current stage at the Briggs Opera House. •       A comfortable seating arrangement with wide seats and more than 3 feet between rows.•       Modern facilities throughout the building including a hearing assist system, an elevator to the second-floor lobby, and accessible seating in both the first row and the last row.•       A new rehearsal/classroom for actors and students to explore the craft of theater.•       Increased ceiling heights to provide greater flexibility for dramatic use of lighting.•       More backstage space and larger doors to allow designers full range of creativity and scope for imagination.•       State-of-the-art acoustics and sound systems to ensure every word is heard.Stuart Johnson, Chairman of The Campaign for Northern Stage Building Committee, summed up the purpose of this new theater: “With this project, we are matching a truly world-class theater company with a state-of-the-art facility in order to energize the cultural and economic vitality of our region.”Northern Stage is actively seeking support for this project. For more information, please contact Director of Development Amanda Rafuse at [email protected](link sends e-mail) or 802.291.9009 x117.Northern Stage is a regional non-profit professional theater that entertains, challenges and involves its audiences with daring and delightful productions.  Based in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River, Northern Stage brings national and area talent together on an intimate stage in diverse classic, contemporary, and new plays and musicals.  One of only four independent theaters in the nation that is at least 40 miles from an urban center, exceeds $690,000 in annual ticket revenue, and produces a season of seven months or more, Northern Stage has offered over 100 productions in its 17-year history, and annual attendance is now over 24,000.Photos: An architect’s rendering provided by Breadloaf Architects, Planners and Builderslast_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims fall, still over 1,000

first_imgVermont Business Magazine New weekly unemployment claims in Vermont fell by over 300 claims last week after a steep spike the week before. Claims had been very low during the summer, trending under 500, but have been high since early October. Levels this year had been running consistently lower than those of last year, but are now nearly the same. For the week of Deember 6, 2014, there were 1,070 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is a decrease of 358 from the previous week’s total, and 5 more than they were a year ago. According to Mathew Barewicz, Economic & Labor Market Information Chief at the Vermont Department of Labor, the cause of the recent increase was predominately the result of “a seasonal transition.”Altogether 7,148 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 856 from a week ago and 241 fewer than a year ago. The Department processed 1 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), the same as the previous week.There were no Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program. There were zero Tier III claims. The Tier I, II and III programs expired on December 28, 2013. Congress would need to act to renew these extended benefit programs. SEE STORYThe total for all programs was 7,149 claims, 856 more than last week, and 1,021 fewer than the same time last year.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)Vermont’s unemployment rate held at 4.4 percent in October as jobs were added. It was as low as 3.3 percent in May. SEE STORY.last_img read more