LaVon Fisher-Wilson(Photo: Bruce Glikas) Broadway alum LaVon Fisher-Wilson is set to return to the role of Matron “Mama” Morton in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago beginning on January 30, a Chicago spokesperson confirmed to Broadway.com. She steps in for current Countess of the Clink NaTasha Yvette Williams.Fisher-Wilson has also appeared on Broadway in Newsies, Lysistrata Jones and The Color Purple. Her regional credits include Once on This Island, Jelly’s Last Jam, Dreamgirls, Three Mo’ Tenors, The Rocky Horror Show and Crowns.Chicago currently stars Mel B as Roxie Hart (through February 19), Amra-Faye Wright as Velma Kelly, Tony nominee Christopher Sieber as Billy Flynn, Raymond Bokhour as Amos Hart and R. Lowe as Mary Sunshine. Fisher-Wilson shared the news about her return on Twitter. Chicago Check her out as she celebrates Chicago’s 20th anniversary with her fellow Mama Mortons! from $49.50 View Comments On my way into the city for a costume fitting for Chicago the Musical!!! In 6 days I will hit the stage!!— LaVon Fisher-Wilson (@lavonfwilson) January 24, 2017 Related Shows
The world premiere production of Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey has extended its run. The production, which Eno also directs, will now play through March 26 at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, instead of the previously announced March 19. The play officially opens on February 27.Wakey, Wakey asks some thought-provoking (if a bit vague) questions: What are we here for? Is time a friend or an enemy? Do we all eventually end up in the same place, but take different routes to get there? The piece stars two-time Emmy winner Michael Emerson (Lost) and January LaVoy (Enron on Broadway). Wakey Wakey View Comments Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on April 2, 2017 Will Eno(Photo: Bruce Glikas)
Who’d have ever thought collards had an interesting history dating back to prehistorictimes? That’s right. Washed down, cooked up, piled up by the side of a slab of cornbread:collards.One of the most primitive members of the cabbage group, these leafy, nonheadingcabbages originated in the eastern Mediterranean. They are much like the wild forms ofcabbage in Asia Minor first used for food in prehistoric times.Collards were cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and either the Romans or theCelts introduced them to Britain and France. They reached the British Isles in 400 B.C.The first mention of collards in America was in 1669. But they may have been here muchearlier.Collards (also known as tree cabbage or nonheading cabbage) are cool-season vegetablegreens rich in vitamins and minerals. They grow better in warm weather and can toleratemore cold weather in the late fall than any other member of the cabbage family.Popular substitutes for cabbage in the South, collards can also be grown in northernareas because of their tolerance to frost. They’re close kin to kale.Two good varieties grow especially well in Georgia.The first, Georgia, takes 75 days to mature. It has large, crumpled, blue-green leaves,is tolerant to heat and cold and offers good yields.Vates also takes 75 days to mature. It has large, crumpled, dark green leaves, holdscolor in cold weather, resists bolting and offers good yields.Plant collards in early spring for summer harvest and again in midsummer for fall andearly winter harvest.For best results, sow seed one-quarter to one-half inch deep. Thin seedlings to 6 to 12inches apart to allow enough space for the plants to mature. You can eat the thinnedplants.Allow at least 3 feet between rows, because the plants become quite large. For earlyproduction in fall or spring, use transplants.If you keep the soil moist enough during hot spells in the summer, collards willproduce an abundant harvest.All green parts of the plant are edible. You may harvest them anytime during thegrowing season. Plants grown 6 inches apart can be cut to the ground when they get 6 to 10inches tall.As an alternative way to harvest, pick the large leaves when the plants are 10 to 12inches high. This allows the younger leaves to develop for later use.Some gardeners prefer the young, tender leaves and cut the inner rosette of younggrowth. You can blanch this “loose head” by tying the outer leaves together tokeep out the sun.Don’t worry about fall frost. It only improves the flavor.
After two years of working with the University of Georgia’s”IPM for Schools” program, Paul Guillebeau has seensome schools with excellent pest control programs. Unfortunately,he’s seen a lot of schools with bad records, too.Worth and Gwinnett Leading the PackWhen the program began two years ago, Worth and Gwinnett counties’school systems were the only ones actively working to reduce pesticides.”They were doing such an outstanding job that we use themas examples of what other schools can do,” said Guillebeau,Integrated Pest Management coordinator for the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.”Gwinnett is a really big school system, and Worth isat the other end of the spectrum,” he said. “So theymake perfect examples.”Schools Need Pest PoliciesBut Guillebeau found that most schools don’t even have writtenpest control policies.”If a school doesn’t have a policy, a teacher can keepa can of Raid in her desk,” he said. “You can see theliability if a child got the can and sprayed another child inthe face with it.”Guillebeau said spraying aerosols can also interfere with baitroach controls. “If the pest control company has placed baitsin the room to fight roaches, and the teacher sprays a trail ofRaid, the roaches can’t get to the baits,” he said.The IPM for Schools program recommends that only people withtraining be allowed to apply pesticides in the school, and thenonly when children aren’t present.Finding Ways to Reduce Pesticide RisksThroughout the program, Guillebeau has uncovered numerous opportunitiesto reduce pesticide risks.”One school had a big problem with roaches in their kindergartenarea,” he said. “They were treating for roaches on aregular basis, and this is an area where you’d want to treat theleast.”An inspection of the classroom revealed snack foods storeduncovered, overnight, in several places. The pest control companysuggested the school develop a policy that all snack foods mustbe eaten in an area where maintenance workers can easily cleanup, and leftover food items must be stored in sealed containers.”After that, they didn’t have to spray anymore in thekindergarten room,” he said. “They just didn’t understandthe link between the food and the roaches.”
Organizers aim to choose a diverse group of participants in regards to age, ethnicity and gender, geographic location, professional background and experience level. For more information or to apply to the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture program, see www.agla.caes.uga.edu or call Strickland at 706-542-1204. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is now accepting applications for the inaugural class of the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture program. The program, spearheaded by the CAES department of agricultural leadership, education and communication, aims to educate and empower Georgia business leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic driver in Georgia: the state’s agriculture and natural resource industries. “Without a program in place, the agriculture and natural resources industries are left with the difficult challenge of coming together on issues, understanding how each of the sectors are related and can benefit from one another, and … establishing positive relationships throughout the state and nation,” said Rochelle Strickland, the program’s founding director and a public service assistant in the department. The program will bring together leaders from all segments of the agriculture and natural resources industries. Over a two-year period, the inaugural class will help one another understand and analyze the issues facing their industries as well as challenges that may emerge in the future. Participants will attend eight sessions held across the state and travel to Washington, D.C., and abroad to study Georgia’s involvement with international trade. The first class of 25 to 30 participants will be chosen through an application and nomination process, which will begin this month. The application deadline is July 13. The program begins this fall. Applicants have to be at least 25 years old, be actively involved in an agricultural- or natural resource-related industry and have demonstrated strong leadership potential.
Rainfall across Georgia in February set a new record with a statewide average of 9.92 inches, alleviating the state’s drought conditions and recharging soil moisture just in time for the 2013 planting season.Georgia’s typical rainfall for February is about 4.5 inches, and the previous record rainfall for February was 8.73 inches, set back in 1939. The rainfall was primarily caused by a persistent stationary front draped across the central part of the state, funneling rainfall from one storm after another across the same area. Some areas in southwest Georgia received in excess of 20 inches during the month. While a few areas of the state experienced flooding, the excess rain was welcome in most parts of the state where it obliterated drought conditions. At the end of January, 82 percent of Georgia was experiencing severe drought conditions or worse. By the end of March, there was no severe drought left in Georgia. The last time Georgia experienced these kinds of river flow and soil moisture levels was in September 2010. The rain has provided a welcome reserve of soil moisture for farmers eager to start the growing season, although field work has been stymied by the wet soil conditions in many areas. Once the soil temperatures warm up and the chance of frost is past, there should be plenty of soil moisture available to allow for good germination. However, fungal diseases may be a concern, and water-breeding pests — like mosquitoes — are also likely to be more plentiful this year, as there is ample habitat for them to develop. Wet weather may delay planting by keeping soil coolTemperatures have bounced between markedly above and below normal for the past three months. Spring temperatures this year are markedly colder than last year. In some areas of the state, the temperature in March was colder than in January. The last time this happened, in Augusta for example, was 1960. The cooler temperatures have been beneficial for fruit producers who welcomed the additional chill hours. The swings in temperature are typical of a neutral pattern with no El Niño or La Niña present in the Pacific Ocean. Producers should keep in mind that in a neutral year, the chance for additional cold periods and a late frost are greater than usual. So planting should be undertaken with caution. Soil temperatures will warm up more slowly than usual with the wet conditions we have this year. Forecasts for summer temperatures continue to show an increased chance for warmer than usual conditions, but there’s no prediction as to whether the state’s wet weather will continue throughout the summer.
Before he was a state house representative or an Oconee County businessman, Bob Smith spent many of his summers at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. So it was only fitting, when the University of Georgia administration wanted to honor Smith for his support during his years in the state legislature, that they would look to the summer camp in Eatonton. UGA administrators renamed the lobby of the Rock Eagle Dinning Hall for Smith during a ceremony April 23. Smith advocated for the funding of the new dining hall, which was completed in 2009, during his time in the legislature. “(Smith) was a strong supporter of 4-H and the university system when he was in the legislature,” said Arch Smith, state leader of Georgia 4-H. “He was a very active 4-H member in Oconee County, and he is genuinely appreciative for what 4-H has done for him.” Georgia 4-H is a part of UGA Cooperative Extension, which is the public outreach arm of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Smith served in the Georgia legislature — as representative of Oconee County and part of Clarke County — from 1999 to 2011, when he decided not to seek reelection. During those years, he served as chair of the appropriations subcommittee on higher education. He was a vocal proponent for funding the University System of Georgia and the state’s technical college system as key components of the state’s economic development strategy. While Smith was growing up in Oconee County, 4-H opened the doors to many learning opportunities that shaped his adult life. “Georgia 4-H offered me a lifelong opportunity to build friendships, learn by doing and to ‘Make the Best Better’… the 4-H motto,” Smith said. “What an incredible journey the 4-H world provided my family and me.” Rock Eagle 4-H Center, a 1,500-acre summer camp, environmental education center and conference facility, opened in 1955. Thousands of young people travel to Rock Eagle 4-H Center annually to participate in Georgia 4-H Environmental Education programs and 4-H Summer Camp programs.
With fall comes a number of seasonally emerging insects across the state. Some are beneficial, some are beautiful and some of these insects may come in numbers large enough to become pests. Before reaching for pesticides, consider whether the insect is actually causing damage. Fungi, bacteria and viruses that cause plant injury are also pests. In agricultural production, weeds cause more crop and economic loss than any other pest. A “pest” is defined by the amount of damage and economic loss caused by said critter. A deer browsing in the woods isn’t a pest. A deer munching on $30 hostas in a home landscape, night after night, is. A yellowstriped oakworm chewing leaves on an oak tree is bird food, but thousands of them defoliating trees make them pests. Not every pest needs to be controlled. For instance, sooty blotch and flyspeck reduce the visual appeal of apples, but they don’t reduce the quality of the fruit. Gall mites make leaves look odd, but they rarely affect plant health. Unwanted insects in the garden may actually draw birds and beneficial insects that will be delighted to control pests for you. So what’s the tipping point between insect presence and pest pressure? Although some people would like to eliminate the entire pest population, that’s not a likely outcome of pest control. With the exception of invasive species, eradication generally isn’t a desirable outcome, either. Each organism has its place in a balanced ecosystem, and history shows that human interference can cause lasting damage to animal, bird and insect populations. A more realistic approach is to decide on a tolerable level of damage or imperfection and then to take measures to keep pest damage below that threshold. Achieving that goal requires a variety of actions including prevention, monitoring and various methods of pest control. This approach is known as integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is an ongoing pest control strategy that begins with preventive measures — actions taken before a problem appears that should reduce the chance of a problem developing. Examples include sealing cracks around doors and windows to keep insects out and installing screens to keep squirrels, bats and birds from entering attics. In the garden and landscape, selecting disease-resistant varieties of plants, testing and amending soil to meet plant needs, and locating plants where they receive the correct amount of light and water are all preventive measures. Monitoring is another important aspect of IPM. Scout your plants and note what doesn’t look right. Identify and address problems when they begin to prevent irreversible damage and plant loss. To control pests, you must first identify the pest. Control measures include changing cultural or environmental conditions that favor disease development, such as overhead watering, plant crowding and excess fertilizer. Encourage pest predators for natural, biological controls. Remove diseased plant material and keep the area free of weeds and debris, so pests don’t have a place to hide. With IPM, chemical control is the last resort. Pests won’t stay away if the conditions that attracted them still exist. For more information about IPM or home garden and lawn pests, view University of Georgia Extension publications at extension.uga.edu/publications.
The growing poultry industry in Georgia has farmers searching for alternative bedding options for their birds. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension poultry scientist Claudia Dunkley recommends that growers use giant miscanthus grass as bedding in their poultry houses.The need to find a substitute for traditional bedding, which is made of peanut hulls and pine shavings, has become necessary due to the growth and expansion of Georgia’s poultry industry. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, broiler production amassed more than $4.5 billion in farm gate value in 2014. The rise in the number of poultry houses in the state has led to a decline in available bedding materials. Poultry bedding is essential to the birds’ development in poultry houses, according to Dunkley. Up to 29,000 birds can be accommodated at one time in a poultry house, depending on the company and its objective, she said.“(Bedding) provides a cushion under the birds’ feet. Also, if everything else is not done properly inside of that house, it can be detrimental,” Dunkley said. “If the house is not ventilated properly and moisture is high inside the house, so the litter is always wet, that will damage the birds’ paws. The paws are a very important part of the whole production. They get a lot of money for the paws.”Given the shortage of bedding material, producers often reuse bedding, a practice that Dunkley said increases the likelihood of disease.“Producers are having to reuse the bedding source they have in the house. What they have been doing is keeping it for a year or two,” she said. “Typically, producers grow five flocks per year and, over the course of that year, five flocks have been on that same litter.”With that many birds on the same bedding, over time, the bedding becomes litter. “Litter is a combination of the bedding, droppings, water spills and food spills. The longer it stays in the house, it becomes a consistency that’s close to soil,” Dunkley said.The end result is an increased likelihood that pathogenic agents can be transmitted from one flock of birds to the next, according to Dunkley. Microbes left from a previous flock could lead to a disease outbreak. Replacing the bedding material eliminates those concerns.“It used to be after each flock that bedding was cleaned out. But over the years that practice has changed because of the shortage of bedding material,” Dunkley said. “The bedding material has to be affordable and accessible. There’s no sense in using rice hulls, for example, because we’re not cultivating rice in Georgia. It would not be as accessible to people in Georgia.”That’s why Dunkley is recommending giant miscanthus grass, which can be grown in Georgia. With six flocks of broiler birds, Dunkley tested the grass bedding for ammonia emissions, moisture content and effects on paw quality, and compared the results to that of pine shavings. “We were testing to see if the grass was as effective as pine shavings, because that’s the only way we’re going to get companies to use the miscanthus grass. We have to see if there’s a significant difference in the production of the bird and the end product,” Dunkley said.She deduced that miscanthus grass exhibits qualities similar to that of pine shavings and is comparable in cost. Dunkley said there was no statistical difference between the two bedding materials, as far as the production of the birds. “Some poultry companies have shown interest or are beginning to move to the miscanthus grass as their bedding material,” Dunkley said.
I was recently schooled, so to speak, on pansies and their partners as I visited Old Town, a Southern Living-inspired community in Columbus, Georgia. I’m a pretty good cool-season container guy, but everywhere I looked was foliage and cool-season color combinations I had never tried.This community may be one of a kind, with nature trails and waterfalls, streets named after camellias like ‘Frank Houser’ and ‘Massee Lane,’ with new homes that look like yesteryear. There is an upscale apartment complex called “Swallowtail Flats” with individual units named for butterfly plants, like milkweed and plumbago. Cool-season color was growing everywhere, which must bring smiles to the faces of all residents.It was evident that trailing foliage and flowers are equally paramount to designing mixed baskets and containers in the cool season. Throughout the Old Town community were planters that caught the eye with artistic spillers. One such plant was the ‘Orchid Frost’ lamium, or deadnettle, that dazzled with both its silver and green variegated foliage and lavender blooms. ‘Orchid Frost,’ known botanically as Lamium maculatum, is cold hardy from zones 3 to 8.In some containers, ‘Orchid Frost’ was used with ‘Dash’ dianthus, pansies and sedum. In other areas it was partnered with pink snapdragons, thyme and the silverleafed ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona cypress that created a most stunning thriller, spiller and filler.Some of my favorite containers used ‘Goldilocks’ lysimachia, or creeping Jenny. While this is nothing new, it was the application I found intriguing. In white, street-side box planters, ‘Goldilocks’ tumbled over the rim in combination with dark-colored blue ‘Matrix’ pansies for a screaming, complementary color scheme. In other containers, ‘Goldilocks’ grew adjacent to ‘Lemon Ball’ sedum for a frenzy of golden chartreuse.It was also apparent in Old Town that pansies, too, had become colorful spiller plants for cool-season containers. Whether it was on a private porch, patio or in street-side planters, both ‘Cool Wave’ and ‘Freefall’ pansies were making a colorful statement.The horticultural designer also used interesting textures of lemon thyme, red creeping thyme with its tiny leaves and ground-hugging habit, and ajuga, or bugleweed, with ornate variegation. All of these made me realize I had gotten a little boring or complacent in my own designs, and maybe like you, have ignored the artistic opportunities these plants offer to the mixed container.We can take some cultural tips from these containers, too. First, choose a container large enough to hold several plants and equipped with mandatory drainage holes in the bottom. If you are using the lightweight containers that look like terra-cotta or stone, you may have to drill your own holes. While you are at it, add four or five holes that are about three-fourths of an inch in diameter.I felt the potting mix used in the containers and can tell you this was the key element to the long cool-growing season. Choose a good, lightweight, fluffy potting mix that already has controlled-release granular fertilizer mixed in it.Choose containers large enough to incorporate a thrilling evergreen, like a juniper, lemon cypress, holly or topiary rosemary as the center plant. The designer of the Old Town containers not only used these, but also camellias.Even though the temperatures will be much cooler during your pansy growing season, we must pay attention to plants’ water and fertilizer needs. Continue to feed regularly with a dilute water-soluble fertilizer.Old Town is special, with flowers blooming 12 months of the year. Even if winter dictates a much shorter season for you, there are still ample opportunities for you to show your creativity with artistically designed containers around the porch patio or deck. To me, the cool season offers the best of container gardening.Follow me on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru. For more information about the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, go to www.coastalgeorgiabg.org.
Georgia’s cotton crop sustained at least $100 million in losses following Irma’s trek across the state, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension cotton agronomist Jared Whitaker.The hurricane, downgraded to a tropical storm when it moved through Georgia on Monday, Sept. 11, blew heavy winds through Georgia’s cotton crop.“I strongly feel that the crop has been significantly damaged across the entire state,” Whitaker said. “How much it’s been damaged is very difficult to estimate, but a 10 percent loss across the entire state is very realistic and is likely what occurred, with losses much higher in some fields.”A 10 percent damage estimate equates to approximately $100 million in total losses and a $75 loss per acre, he said. However, Whitaker believes that estimate could rise to 20 percent or higher once all damage has been reported and calculated.Open cotton bolls were affected by Irma, and this was the state of the majority of Georgia’s cotton crop at the time Irma came through.Among the Georgia counties that sustained significant losses, Colquitt County saw fields with 200 to 400 pounds of lint per acre of cotton blown onto the ground. In Tift County, Georgia, one field that was ready to harvest lost an estimated 670 pounds of lint per acre.In contrast to Hurricane Matthew, which impacted southeastern Georgia in 2016, Irma had a statewide impact. Irma’s winds reached more than 50 mph, while Matthew’s winds stayed around 40 mph, according to Whitaker.“Though Irma was not a hurricane when it came through Georgia, it still was a very dangerous storm system that blew down cotton plants and caused lint damage to a lot more,” Whitaker said. “Much of the cotton I have seen has been blown over and wrapped together, which will cause issues with spraying and harvesting for the rest of the season.”Winds that blew through fields from several different directions caused the rooting out of cotton plants around the stem at ground level. The heavy winds blew the dirt around the base of the stem which could complicate the cotton’s ability to stand through the rest of the growing season. The leaves of windblown cotton plants are now turned over and will be sun bleached and ultimately fall off, Whitaker said.“This will greatly affect the ability of the crop to continue to fill any immature bolls,” he said. “With less energy being made from a plant with fewer leaves, maturity could slow and affect younger bolls.”Cotton that is blown over can also be extremely susceptible to boll rot, which damages the growing fruit of the plant. As a result, the quality of the cotton fiber is expected to decline.“Hopefully, we can avoid any more weather-related events that will have a negative impact. Georgia had an incredible crop this year, and Irma was a setback when we didn’t need it,” Whitaker said. “But I’m amazed by the positive attitudes of our cotton farmers. We’ll still have fantastic yields in many places, all things considered.”
The University of Georgia Forage Team updated the grazing paddocks on the university’s Black Shank Farm in Tifton, Georgia. In an effort to share the most up-to-date containment options available, the team hosted a Fencing Field Day.The field day, held on Wednesday, Feb. 28, was part of the Better Grazing Program kickoff on the UGA Tifton campus. The field day, and future events like it, allow Georgia cattlemen to see and experience UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences research in action.The grazing paddocks updates on the Black Shank Farm will improve UGA scientists’ grazing research capabilities and offer UGA Cooperative Extension specialists a site to showcase various fencing options. The 37-acre farm will ultimately be split into multiple grazing paddocks separated by different fencing and watering systems. The farm will demonstrate a variety of grazing technologies available to Georgia producers. To kickstart the Better Grazing Program, UGA Extension forage specialist Dennis Hancock, UGA Professor Emeritus John Worley, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service state grazing specialist Philip Brown and industry representatives discussed different fencing technologies available to producers at the field day.“Depending on your production goals, there’s a different type of fence for everything you could imagine. If you have a goat, cow or horse; if you have electricity or need solar power; if you have grazing livestock, you have a need for these technologies,” said Jennifer Tucker, UGA Extension beef nutrition and forage management specialist. The right type of fence prevents animals from crossing the highway or wandering into a neighbor’s yard.Different types of woven wire fences are available depending on the size of the square in the woven wire.“Producers might want a tighter square for smaller animals than for larger animals,” Tucker said. “A cow can’t get through the same opening that a small goat can.”Through the Better Grazing Program, the UGA Beef and Forage teams offer hands-on trainings, like the UGA Extension Fencing Field Day. Tucker calls this a “show-and-tell approach” to decision-making.“A discussion-based field day benefits everyone because they can learn about all the different aspects of building fences from instructors as well as each other, while also getting their hands dirty,” Tucker said.Moderated group discussions held during the field day’s morning session focused on individual fencing components, such as available materials, selection criteria and items recommended to meet specific needs.In the afternoon, attendees experienced fence-building through participation in demonstrations that highlighted specific components of grazing infrastructure development, such as braces, gates and enclosures, offsets, and cross fencing.“We talked about everything from the standard, wooden fence post to newer technologies in fencing, like fiberglass and PVC posts, and temporary fencing systems,” Tucker said. “It was a very constructive day, and producers were able to build and learn about various types of fences. That’s what this field day was designed to do.”UGA experts also learn at field days by listening to farmers discuss their farming operations.“Through field days like today, where I listen in on a variety of discussions, I often learn that there are easier and harder ways of doing simple tasks throughout the whole fence-building process,” she said. “For example, I would’ve never learned that staples come in left- and right-handed versions. Fencing Field Day introduces producers to different technologies. People like me can learn, or relearn, something new in their field.”The Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Beef supports this project.
There’s no magic recipe for success, but there is a time-proven secret ingredient: the Flavor of Georgia food product contest.For the past 13 years, local food and beverage businesses have found their way into grocery stores and homes across the state after receiving recognition from the University of Georgia’s Flavor of Georgia food product contest. As the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences gears up for this year’s contest, they are announcing a new ingredient: Georgia’s Classic City. The unique food scene of Athens and UGA’s commitment to growing small businesses makes the city the perfect location to bring the contest into a new decade. The contest has been held in downtown Atlanta since 2007.“We are so pleased to bring our contest home to Athens in 2020,” said Sharon P. Kane, contest organizer and an agricultural economist with the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “Athens’ unique cultural and food scene is built on the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs who are motivated by their passion for their products. That’s what has fueled Flavor of Georgia for more than a decade, and Athens’ creative electricity is going to help us take the contest and our contestants to the next level.”The competition serves new and established food entrepreneurs alike, with 4 out of 5 contest finalists reporting increased interest in their products after the contest. More than 75% of finalists report new business contacts and increased sales. Finalists see an average increase in sales of 20.6%, according to a recent survey of finalists between 2014 and 2019.The contest, which allows businesses to showcase their products and receive feedback from industry professionals, has launched many products onto the shelves of supermarkets and specialty stores across the country.The impact of the contest is felt most dramatically by young businesses, Kane said.Registration for the 2020 contest, which is coordinated by the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, will open on Jan. 2, 2020, at flavorofga.com.The early registration fee is $100 per entry and continues through Jan. 31, 2020. After that date, the price increases to $150 and remains open until Feb. 7, 2020. All entries are featured in the annual product directory, which is seen by leading food industry buyers and media outlets.Contest finalists will be invited to participate in a final round of judging on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at the Classic Center in Athens. An awards reception will immediately follow the final competition.Product categories include barbecue sauces; beverages; condiments and salsas; confections; dairy; honey; jams and jellies; meats and seafood; meat-alternative products; sauces and seasonings; snack foods; and miscellaneous products. There is no limit to the number of products an individual business can submit.Judges evaluate each product based on flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Products are also considered for potential market volume, consumer appeal and overall product representation of Georgia.
Citizens Bank Foundation Grant Expands Affordable Homeownership Programs[Burlington, VT] More than 13,000 Vermonters would qualify for a home mortgage but need help finding affordable homes and financial assistance. Thanks to a significant Citizens Bank Foundation grant contribution, hundreds of low and moderate income Vermonters will be able to attain affordable homeownership with home buyer education and financial assistance.The Citizens Bank Foundation is contributing $100,000 to the NeighborWorks® Homeownership Centers of Vermont through the Vermont Homeownership Initiative campaign.Jim Keyes, President of Citizens Bank, explained, Citizens Bank is proud to support such a vital program. Buying a home is often a familys largest investment, creating strong community connections and improving financial security. Vermont Homeownership Initiative forms a great public-private partnership to expand homeownership opportunities. In Vermont, Citizens Bank operates as Charter One Bank. The Citizens Bank Foundation’s support focuses on housing, community development and basic human needs.The Vermont Homeownership Initiative is a three-year $1 million campaign among Vermonts five NeighborWorks® Homeownership Centers to increase the number of low and moderate-income homeowners in Vermont by providing financial and homebuyer education.Citizens Bank Foundation is the principal charitable contributions vehicle of CitizensFinancial Group, Citizens Bank and Charter One Bank, N.A. Citizens Financial Group, Inc. A subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., Charter One Bank, N.A. is a $49 billion bank operating in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York and Vermont.For more information about the Vermont Homeownership Initiative, please contact Liz Curry, campaign coordinator, at 802-660-8056.
Source: Office of the Speaker The House has passed the Renewable Energy and Green Jobs Bill, H.446, to promote in-state renewable energy development and create well-paying green jobs for Vermonters around the state. The bill will encourage community-scale renewable energy developments and expedite the delivery of $21 million in stimulus funds for green energy projects. It is estimated that 15-20 jobs will be created per megawatt of installation every year. The bill passed third reading by a 2-to-1 margin, 88-44. This bill is a great step in the right direction to building a clean, renewable, Vermont-based energy future and to bring well-paying jobs in the emerging green economy to our communities, said House Speaker Shap Smith. On the first day of the session, I said our focus would be on creating new and lasting economic opportunities for Vermonters now and laying the groundwork for a stronger, more vibrant state in the future. This bill accomplishes both of those goals. The House worked hard to craft a thoughtful bill that will deliver on new renewable energy development and green jobs for Vermonters, said House Natural Resources and Energy Chair Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier. Our bill not only talks the talk on renewable energy and green jobs, it walks the walk.The Renewable Energy and Green Jobs Bill will:Encourage community-scale renewable energy development like solar, methane, wind and hydroelectric generation, by giving developers certainty in the return they ll receive on their projects so they will invest in small Vermont projectsCreate 15 20 jobs in engineering, manufacturing, distribution, and installation per megawatt of installation every yearExpedite the delivery of $21 million in stimulus funds for green energy projects through the Clean Energy Development FundAligns state building codes with federal standards so we can receive stimulus funding for weatherizationCreates a pilot program that will allow Vermont s biggest businesses like IBM to invest in their own energy-saving measures
Thomas S. Leavitt, Executive Vice President for Merchants Bank, announced the groundbreaking for the construction of a new office on Route 4 in Rutland. The bank currently has a small drive-up on the site at 92 Woodstock Avenue. The new full-service ADA-compliant branch at the same address will include: four lobby teller stations; two drive-up service lanes; an additional ATM drive-up lane; offices for branch management, commercial lending officers, and customer service. Completion is expected before year-end. As part of this expansion, Leavitt also announced the appointment of Deanna K. Wetherby to the position of Branch President for Woodstock Avenue. We have been active and growing in Rutland since opening our office at Green Mountain Plaza on Route 7 South ten years ago. We have been providing limited service during that time at the Woodstock Avenue. To support our Vermont Matters pledge, we are doubling our capacity to serve Vermont s second largest community. Deanna Wetherby is ideally suited to the new challenge and has a strong history of banking contributions in the local marketplace. She has roots in Rutland and knows this proud region as well as anyone, said Leavitt.In keeping with the Bank s commitment to Vermont, the project employs Vermont contractors. Nimtz Berryhill and Figiel Architect, P.C. (Rutland) is serving as the architectural firm for the facility and Site Designers are Enman Engineering, PC, (Rutland). Connor Contracting, Inc, of Berlin, VT is performing as General Contractor; Fabian Earth Moving, Inc. is conducting the sitework and excavation. Wilk Paving of Rutland will perform paving. Interior construction firms include electrical & lighting by Lamberton Electric, Inc. (Montpelier) and mechanical and plumbing by Vermont Heating and Ventilating, Inc. (Winooski). Exterior Windows are by Windows and Doors by Brownell (Williston) and entrance, glass & glazing by The Glass Connection (Essex Junction). We very much believe the community here is strong enough to support a second full-service branch, stated Wetherby. It’s an ideal location for our many customers who are centered in the neighborhoods around downtown and the eastern section of the city all the way to Killington. This facility will enable us to meet the banking needs of the entire region.” Wetherby was previously employed with Berkshire Bank (formerly Factory Point). She served as Branch Manager for the Court Square (West Street, Rutland) office of Factory Point/Berkshire from the office opening in 2000 until joining Merchants Bank in late 2008 as a member of the Green Mountain Plaza team. Wetherby developed a strong presence in a start-up office, effectively performing all functions typically associated with a Branch President position. Prior to opening the office at Court Square, Wetherby successfully built an in-store branch office at the Price Chopper supermarket in Rutland’s largest shopping complex and held the responsibility for five years. Wetherby is well regarded in the community and has nurtured the development of branch staff to officer appointments during her tenure.Wetherby is a native of Rutland and an alumna of Rutland High School. She has participated in the American Institute of Banking (Performance Training Certificate in Supervision), Northern New England Center for Financial Training (Branch Manager Certificate), Northern New England Center for Financial Training (Customer Service Associate Certificate, Talent and Customer Development and Service Interview Analysis Certification) and Northern New England School of Banking (General Banking Diploma).Deanna Wetherby, Merchants Bank, Branch President, Woodstock Avenue, Rutland Pictured in the groundbreaking, from left to right are: Ralph Nimtz (NFB Architects), Nicole Kesselring (Enman Engineering), Jason Young (Connor Contracting Co.), Steve Connor (Connor Contracting Co.), Tom Leavitt (MB), Deanna Wetherby (MB), Michael Tuttle (MB), Michelle LaMoria (MB), Gary Dean (MB), Keith Eddy (Eddy Enterprises), Ron Fabian (Fabian Earth Moving), and Blair Enman (Enman Engineering).Vermont Matters. Merchants Bank strives to fulfill its role as the state s leading independent community bank through a wide range of initiatives. The bank supports organizations throughout Vermont in addressing essential needs, sustaining community programs, providing small business and job start capital, funding financial literacy education, and delivering enrichment through local sports activities. Merchants Bank was established in 1849 in Burlington. Its continuing mission is to provide Vermonters with a statewide community bank that combines a strong technology platform with a genuine appreciation for local markets. Merchants Bank delivers this commitment through a branch-based system that includes: 34 community bank offices and 42 ATMs throughout Vermont; local branch presidents and personal bankers dedicated to high-quality customer service; free online banking, phone banking, and electronic bill payment services; high-value depositing programs that feature Free Checking for Life®, Cash Rewards Checking, Rewards Checking for Business, business cash management, money market accounts, health savings accounts, certificates of deposit, Flexible CD, IRAs, and overdraft assurance; feature-rich loan programs including mortgages, home equity credit, vehicle loans, personal and small business loans and lines of credit; and merchant card processing. Merchants Bank offers a strong set of commercial and government banking solutions, delivered by experienced banking officers in markets throughout the state; these teams provide customized financing for medium-to-large companies, non-profits, cities, towns and school districts. Please visit www.mbvt.com(link is external) for access to Merchants Bank information, programs and services. Merchants stock is traded on the NASDAQ National Market system under the symbol MBVT. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.Source: Merchants Bank, August 21, 2009.