Snowmobilers at Cole’s Pond Cook Shack (Photo: Bear Cieri)Vermont Business Magazine Declining snowfall in Vermont, a likely byproduct of a warming climate, is sure to negatively affect the state’s $600 million snowmobile industry. New research provides a sobering look at just how much. A significant part of Vermont’s snowmobiling appeal lies in the state’s interlocking network of trails, which allow snowmobilers to cover large geographic areas, said Robert Manning, a natural resources professor at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study, which is based on an online survey of 1,450 members of VAST, the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, in November and December of 2015.The survey results were presented at a meeting of the Northeast Recreation Research Symposium in Annapolis, Maryland on April 4. “If connections between trails are lost, even if there’s sufficient snow cover in pockets of the state, participation rates could decline sharply,” he said.Once the percentage of Vermont trails that are open drops below about 65 percent, snowmobilers will begin to stay home, according to the survey. With about half the trails open, participation would drop 25 percent. With 10 percent open, the participation rate would decline by 75 percent.Another troubling fact to emerge: 70 percent of snowmobilers surveyed said they began their snowmobile rides from their homes, a convenience that relies on good snow cover. 31.2 percent reported that having to drive to snowmobile trails would detract “a great deal” from the experience.Days of snow cover were also a significant detractor; with fewer than 75 days of cover, participation rates began to decline. With 25 days, rates would decline by 50 percent.Snow decline in Vermont is likely, given past history and projected temperature increasesDeclining snowfall in Vermont at the normal elevations of most snowmobile trails has already occurred and is likely to continue in coming years.During the 1960s, the average snow depth for winter (December to February) was six inches, according the statistics compiled by the National Weather Service at the Burlington International Airport, but has been closer to four inches during the last decade, the lower limit for snowmobiling. Over the past two decades (from 1995 to 2014), Vermont has experienced the highest winter temperatures observed in the historical record, according to the National Climate Assessment Summary for Vermont. Vermont’s temperatures are projected to rise by another 2 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, according to the Vermont Climate Assessment(link is external), making further diminution of average snow depth likely. “The repercussions of climate change on Vermont’s snowmobile industry could be significant,” said Manning. “Even modest declines in participation could affect the VAST budget and, potentially, the organizations’ ability to maintain trails.”Regular grooming of trails was one of the most significant factors survey respondents cited as defining a quality snowmobiling experience. “Given the importance of the snowmobile industry as an economic driver, in Vermont and elsewhere,” Manning said, “this one more reason why we need to do all we can to address the challenge of climate change.”
Deb Zila has represented the SM South area on the Shawnee Mission Board of Education since 2007. CBIZ, a district contractor, hired her daughter for an on-site job with the district last year.We’ve gotten a handful of questions from readers about the status of the Kansas Open Records Act requests we submitted last month seeking communications regarding the hiring of Board of Education member Deb Zila’s daughter Mallory for an in-district job with CBIZ, the district’s health insurance broker.As a reminder, those requests sought the following:All electronic mail records on district administration servers referencing Mallory Zila sent or received between April 1, 2016 and August 30, 2016All electronic mail correspondence between Deb Zila and Jim Hinson from Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016Copies of all electronic mail correspondence sent or received by Deb Zila between the dates Feb. 1, 2016 and Aug. 15, 2016 that include the word “Mallory”Copies of all text messages sent between Jim Hinson and Deb Zila from 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 7 through noon Monday, March 13.Copies of all electronic mail correspondence sent by members of the Board of Education between 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 and 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 13.As we wrote last month, pursuant to Kansas law, the district requested pre-payment before proceeding with efforts to pull the email records for the requests above. Before we decided whether or not to pay the fees of more than $1,000, we wanted to know more about the district’s policies on which channels are used for correspondence regarding district business, and what kinds of electronic mail records the district keeps on its servers and for how long.We learned that:1.) There are no laws that compel a school district to keep correspondence on file for any specific amount of time. “There are no state or federal laws that apply directly to school districts that dictate which email or other communications we save,” wrote a district spokesperson. “In accordance with the Kansas general records retention schedule – which is not applicable to school districts – but which we use as a guideline (K.S.A. 45-404(b)) – any email or correspondence reflecting decisions regarding Board policy should be and are preserved.”2.) There is no written policy in effect mandating that board members and administrators use their official district email accounts to conduct district business.Because an administrator’s personal email account would not be searchable without that person’s consent and there is no guarantee that anyone would preserve all correspondence on a personal account, we had no way to know whether the documents we would receive through the open records act requests would provide a full account of the correspondence we sought.We also had questions about whether the time estimates the district provided for staff time needed to comply with the requests were reasonable. To address those concerns, we asked whether we would be permitted to have an observer on site while the work to pull the emails was under way to confirm that it would take as long as the estimates suggested. We were told that “due to confidentiality/privacy concerns” the district could not grant that request.Given the above, we chose only to make a pre-payment for the request that sought the board of education’s emails in the week following our publication of the story on Mallory Zila’s hiring. The district has informed us it will deliver those records by April 28.In an unrelated matter, we also put in a KORA request seeking administrator contracts for the current school year and for the final year of Superintendent Gene Johnson’s tenure with the district. The district initially indicated it would take eight hours to pull those files and that they would charge us $10 an hour for the work. We received word a few days after making the pre-payment for the documents that it had taken just three hours, and the district cut the price by $50. We’re currently analyzing those documents, and will be publishing a story on what we find in the coming days.
Gophers hire new softball coachJamie Trachsel comes to Minnesota after one season at Iowa State. Jack WarrickJuly 24, 2017Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintJamie Trachsel was hired as the Gophers new head softball coach, athletics director Mark Coyle announced on Monday.“[Trachsel’s] leadership has consistently produced winning results,” Coyle said in a statement. “That track record, paired with her Midwestern roots and proven ability to develop the skills of her student-athletes … makes her the perfect fit for the Gophers.”The hire comes after former head coach Jessica Allister announced her departure for Stanford Tuesday.Trachsel was the co-head coach of North Dakota State University for six years before moving to Iowa State last year. She helped the Cyclones to their best regular-season league finish since 1994. Trachsel — a Duluth, Minnesota native — played college softball at St. Cloud State University from 1998-2000, earning trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament in every year she played.Soon after she finished playing softball at St. Cloud State, Trachsel began her coaching career at NDSU in 2002 as a graduate assistant, becoming co-head coach in 2011, and leaving the program for a one-year stint with Iowa State last year.“I could not be more humbled and honored to lead the Gophers softball program,” Trachsel said in a statement. “Returning to my home state is one that I could not pass up.”Allister had led the Gophers to five consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament. She is credited with leading the Gophers to the best record in Division I softball last year.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham during a press conference this afternoon outlining a new emergency public health order and preparation for a limited re-entry to in-person learning next month. Screenshot/LADP STATE News:SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health and education officials this afternoon provided a public update on the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, outlining a new emergency public health order and New Mexico’s preparation for a limited re-entry to in-person learning next month.MODELINGNew Mexico’s gating criteria – a measurement of the public health data reflecting the incidence and spread of COVID-19 – show the state has seen success in suppressing the virus while also maintaining essential virus-response and health care resources over the course of the late summer. Although the overall COVID-19 infections in the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups remain higher than other age ranges, the state’s decreasing and steadying test positivity rate, average case counts and hospitalizations reflect increased adherence to important COVID-safe behaviors like consistent mask-wearing and avoiding groups and extended periods of contact with others, said Human Services Secretary David Scrase, M.D. The secretary again issued words of caution about the devastating potential health effects of the virus and the imperative to maintain safe behavior. “COVID-19 can cause very, very serious illness in people of all ages, and we’ve got to take that seriously in all aspects of our lives,” Scrase said.PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERPursuant to the state’s sustained progress on suppressing the spread of the virus in recent weeks, New Mexico will permit certain relaxations of occupancy restrictions while maintaining the essential public health framework for mitigating and responding to the incidence and spread of COVID-19.The state’s revised emergency public health order is effective Saturday, Aug. 29 and incorporates the following adjustments:Houses of worship may operate at 40 percent of maximum occupancy of any enclosed building, an increase from 25 percent, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices. Houses of worship may, as before, conduct services outdoors or provide services through audiovisual means.Food and drink establishments (including restaurants, breweries, wineries, distillers, cafes, coffee shops or other similar establishments) may provide indoor dining service at 25 percent of maximum occupancy, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices. Food and drink establishments may continue to provide physically-distant outdoor dining options, carryout and delivery services, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices. Tables – inside or outside – must be spaced at least six feet apart, and no more than six patrons are permitted at a single table.While museums with interactive and/or immersive displays, categorized as “close-contact recreational facilities,” must remain closed, museums with static displays may operate at 25 percent capacity. Mass gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited.The order is effective through Sept. 18. A signed version of the document will be disseminated Friday, Aug. 28. “New Mexicans ought to be very proud of the progress we’ve made all together, but we’ve got to remember progress in our fight against this virus does not mean we can let our guard down,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “A sense of complacency will once again elevate the dire potential health risks for New Mexico families, neighbors and communities. We will continue to do everything we can as a state to mitigate the spread of the virus and address the awful economic consequences of this pandemic. “The virus is looking for opportunities to spread. We must continue to do everything we can to mitigate and eliminate those opportunities. We know the path to continued success by now: Wearing masks, avoiding groups, keeping physical distance and regularly washing our hands. At the end of the day, I can’t make New Mexicans stick to these safeguards. We’ve all got to make those decisions ourselves every day – and remember that our actions impact our friends, our families, workers and businesses in our communities and our entire state. More and more of us have been making those right decisions. Let’s keep it up.”PUBLIC SCHOOLSPublic Education Secretary Ryan Stewart provided an update this afternoon as the agency works alongside school districts and charter schools statewide to ensure comprehensive COVID-19 safety and response protocols are established before any district or charter can be approved to begin limited in-person learning for K-5 age groups after Labor Day.The Public Education Department has set requirements for re-entry to a “hybrid” model of in-person and remote learning – meaning rotating cohorts of students could potentially attend in-person classes in small groups after Labor Day upon approval from the PED. Those requirements include that the state meet its gating criteria; that the school’s county meet gating criteria for the rate of new daily COVID-19 cases and test positivity; and that the Public Education Department approve the district or charter school’s individual re-entry plan, which must include COVID-Safe Practices for students and educators as well as provisions of personal protective equipment, cleaning procedures and rapid response procedures in the event of a positive COVID-19 case. The Public Education Department has been receiving and reviewing re-entry proposals from districts across the state in anticipation of a possible shift to permissible limited in-person learning after Labor Day. At least 24 school districts and charter schools statewide, including Albuquerque Public Schools, have notified the Public Education Department that they plan to continue in an exclusively remote learning environment for at least the near-term future. In the interim before Labor Day, in addition to outreach to local leaders and superintendents, the Public Education Department will continue to review re-entry proposals before formally approving districts seeking to begin classes for the K-5 age groups in a hybrid model (middle school and high school age groups would follow in a similar fashion if and when health conditions warrant). The agency will provide additional training for districts to ensure all schools are fully prepared to engage in any prospective rapid responses; and will finalize cleaning and sanitation protocols for districts and establish and refine enforcement and inspection protocols with the New Mexico Department of Health and other state agencies. PED will launch an anonymous portal where violations of COVID-Safe Practices can be reported.“Our work has been to coordinate closely with school districts and local leaders to make sure we have strict and effective protocols to prevent positive cases and to make sure we can quickly respond to any positive cases that do occur,” Stewart said. “We have been preparing extensively and I’m confident we will execute. I’ve visited school districts and with educators and local stakeholders. We are all one community and our unequivocal priority – the safety and welfare of our children and school communities – is shared. We must also, to that end, ensure personal protective equipment is available. School districts across the state have already purchased more than 3.5 million masks, and PED and DHSEM will distribute another 700,000 in the next two weeks. “This is all in service of making it possible for districts to make the case for an in-person learning environment this fall,” he added. “Of course, the virus has radically altered our lives, and that includes our public education system, and it’s an enormous strain on families, educators and children. We’ve got to step up to provide the best and safest circumstance for them. Our focus has been and will continue to be that we effectively deliver high-quality education to our kids during this pandemic with the health-first imperative that in-person learning can only happen if and when every single precaution for students, families and school communities is in place.”
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The conveyancing sector has experienced a buoyant start to the year as solicitors rushed to complete transactions prior to higher stamp duty rates coming into force, latest research shows. The government introduced a higher levy of three percentage points above current stamp duty land tax rates on 1 April.Search Acumen’s conveyancing market tracker shows that 275,002 transactions were registered in the first three months of 2016, up 10% from the first three months of 2014, when 251,042 transactions were recorded in the run-up to the introduction of the Financial Conduct Authority’s pre-mortgage market review rules.2014’s first-quarter results were the first time more than a quarter of a million transactions had been recorded in a single three-month period since the recession.Search Acumen chair Mark Riddick said the ‘artificial stimulus’ of government intervention had put ‘major pressure’ on workloads.Riddick expects to see a ‘residual effect’ in the second quarter of this year, ‘as some of the transactions logged by HM Revenue and Customs in March filter through Land Registry records as more applications are completed.’The total number of firms active in the market rose by 2%, from 4,177 in the first quarter of 2015 to 4,278 this year. The top five conveyancing firms’ market share fell from 8% in the first three months of 2014 to 5% this year. Riddick said ‘challenger’ firms further down the ranks had enjoyed the biggest benefits of a year-on-year rise in transactions.He added: ‘A modest rise in the population of active firms has also occurred, with occasional players emerging to take some of the spoils and share the load.’Looking ahead, Riddick predicted continued quarter-on-quarter growth in ‘first registrations’ as a result of a reported rise in the number of new dwellings in England and Wales.
RUSSIA: Vladimir Yakunin confirmed his intention to stand down as President of Russian Railways and enter politics on August 17.The exclave of Kaliningrad is scheduled to hold an election for governor on September 13, and Yakunin has registered as a candidate to be appointed by the incoming governor as one of the region’s two senators in the federal council, the upper house of the national parliament. Yakunin has been nominated for the role by Acting Governor Nikolay Tsukanov, who is one of the candidates for election as governor. Yakunin’s appointment as a senator would require him to stand down from RZD. In a message to RZD staff quoted by Russian media, Yakunin said he was ‘asking the whole staff of railway workers to be as responsible and effective in their work as they are now’, and expressed confidence that their ‘expertise, sense of partnership and invaluable experience will serve the interests of the motherland and further well-being of all the people.’
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInPolice Scotland Report that a man is currently in custody after being reported at about 04.25AM this morning (Thursday 23rd March) for trying to open car door handles in Kirkland Road, Calside, Dumfries and gaining access to two insecure cars.The Police traced the man and arrested him.Police are now trying to find out if this man managed to access any other cars in the area and are asking for residents in Kirkland Road to double check that their cars are secure and nothing is missing from them.If you find your vehicle has been tampered with or that you have items missing from your vehicle please call the police on 101
January fluid milk sales’ storyline the sameNational fluid milk sales trends continued in January 2016, with overall fluid milk sales again below year-ago levels, but whole milk varieties posting gains.advertisementadvertisementBased on a monthly summary from USDA’s Dairy Market News, January 2016 packaged fluid milk sales totaled 4.29 billion pounds, down 3.1 percent from January 2015. January sales of conventional products totaled 4.08 billion pounds, down 3.5 percent, while sales of organic products, at 218 million pounds, were up 4.0 percent. Organic represented about 5.0 percent of total sales for the month.As was the trend for most of 2015, sales of conventional and organic whole milk varieties were up compared to year-ago levels. January sales of conventional whole milk were up 2.3 percent, and flavored whole milk sales were up 5.2 percent. Sales of organic whole milk were up 13.4 percent compared to a year earlier.Milk varieties seeing the largest year-to-year sales declines were reduced fat (2 percent milkfat) and skim products for both conventional and organic categories.The figures represent consumption of fluid milk products in federal milk order marketing areas and California, which account for approximately 92% of total fluid milk sales in the U.S.California April Class 1 milk prices lowerCalifornia’s April 2016 Class 1 minimum milk prices dipped a little, according to the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA).advertisementThe April 2016 Class 1 price for the North is $15.26 per hundredweight, with the South at $15.53 per hundredweight. Both are down 12 cents from March 2016, and $1.68 per hundredweight less than April 2015.Through the first four months of 2016, the Class 1 milk price averaged $15.88 per hundredweight in the North and $16.15 per hundredweight in the South, down about $1.67 from the same period a year earlier.USDA will announce the April 2016 federal order Class I base price on March 23.Organic production: Hope springs eternal againWarmer temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest are helping bring pastures out of dormancy, with cows getting an early start to the grazing season. However, the ongoing struggle to increase domestic organic milk production to meet growing demand, and reduce the need for imports, continues, according to USDA’s Dairy Market News.Recent springs have boosted optimism regarding increased organic milk production – gains that have mostly gone unrealized. This year’s relatively early spring, coupled with easing of organic feed costs, is contributing to optimism again this year.One change for 2016, according to Dairy Market News, is increased processor support for dairy producers transitioning from conventional to organic, providing expertise and some financial incentives through the multi-year transitioning process. Past efforts, primarily focusing on the lure of higher organic pay prices, have not fully addressed the challenges of the transition process.advertisementRestaurant index offers mixed newsA factor in determining overall dairy consumption is the level of sales and customer traffic in U.S. restaurants. The latest monthly report from the National Restaurant Association provided mixed news.Compared to December 2015, January 2016 same-store sales were about evenly split between those seeing sales increases vs. those reporting sales declines. January also represented the second straight month in which restaurant operators reported a net decline in customer traffic levels, according to the NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index.There are signs indicating a generally positive outlook for business conditions in the months ahead. Restaurant operators are optimistic regarding sales over the next six months, and they’re boosting capital expenditures. PD Dave NatzkeEditorProgressive DairymanEmail Dave Natzkedave@progressivepublish.com January U.S. fluid milk sales were down, but sales of whole milk varieties were up again. California’s April Class 1 milk prices will be slightly lower. This and other U.S. dairy economic news can be found here.
The communication efficiency of smartphone’s degrade when the they compete with other mobile traffic to send and receive data. This competition will only intensify with the increase in the wireless technologies, standards and devices. Far more than a billion smartphones are expected to ship this year. Additional wireless traffic is pouring in from tablets, and more will come from IoT devices, car-to-car communications, and other sources.Wireless spectrum, however, remains scarce and expensive. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, for example, has raised $60 billion since 1994 by auctioning off cellular spectrum. For years, wireless providers have extended the reach of their networks within existing frequencies by various means.One strategy that has gained popularity in the last decade is to add small cell base stations, also known as femtocells or picocells, in places with high traffic density such as inside buildings or in densely populated urban neighborhoods. These lower-powered versions of wireless macro cell towers can fill gaps in coverage in these high-density locations, using the same frequency bands and hooked to the cellular network via landline. Business customers now are also installing small cell base stations at a rapidly accelerating pace, and this arrangement is backed by operators ranging from AT&T to Korea’s SK Telecom. The market for small cell base systems is expected to reach $22 billion in 2016.This surge in the number of base stations can interfere with operation of towers and with each other, increasing the number of degraded connections and calls that are dropped or never connected. As you put more small cells out there, you are also putting out a lot of little interfering signals, and today’s devices can’t handle all that noise adding up and getting in the way of the signals they want to hear.Cognitive coexisting radio (CCR) technology developed by Rachel Learned, a researcher at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and her colleagues helps overcome interference problems by intelligently exploiting the spectrum already in use for other transmissions, dramatically boosting connections while living comfortably side by side with those existing transmissions. Moreover, the CCR approach can be added to existing off-the-shelf wireless components, and it doesn’t require changes to existing wireless infrastructure, active management by the small base station operator, or collaboration with other users of the spectrum.Several other approaches to get more use from existing wireless spectrum for small cell base stations have been adopted, but they pose significant drawbacks that CCR does not.In one approach, operators can avoid interference by allocating part of their spectrum to each small base station, but that prevents them from using that band in a macro tower station that handles many more users and generates revenue.Another more popular way to reduce interference is to make the small cells “public” so that they support traffic from any local user. For instance, when a FedEx driver passes a building with a small cell base station, the driver’s phone call can be carried via that station. Almost three-quarters of small cell base stations installed by network operators are public. However, business customers aren’t happy about making their private systems public, because they end up paying for nearby outsiders to piggyback on their systems, thereby degrading performance for their own users, increasing levels and duration of signal exposure to their building occupants, and adding security concerns.A third commonly adopted technique is to divide available spectrum among all transmitters in a given area by allotting time/frequency slots available to the operator. However, Learned points out that this is hard to coordinate among station operators. If that coordination isn’t practical, the small base can’t respond flexibly to spectrum demand, and instead gives up large slots of times or frequencies or both.With another proposed technique, a cognitive radio variant called opportunistic interference avoidance, the base station monitors other calls and adaptively uses frequencies that are not being used at that moment. But during peak times when demand is high, there are no idle frequencies available. Even in non-peak times, as more wireless devices and small cell base stations are installed, the availability of such frequencies will plummet.In contrast to all of these approaches, CCR purposely locates its transmissions on the same band that another receiver/transmitter pair is already using, Learned says. Built on a cognitive engine, CCR watches and actively exploits occupied channels, intelligently and adaptively manipulating interference to create new links without significantly degrading existing links or requiring negotiation with other station operators.The CCR system monitors the power and the rates of the other transmitters to understand their use of the spectrum. It predicts when its presence is likely to cause little harm, then makes use of the channels occupied by likely oblivious links, all while watching to see if the existing link adapts too much. If the other users react too much, it can play nice, by going away or reducing its power. If they react just a little, the system will conclude that it’s okay to coexist with these links.The system also has a learning capability that can improve the prediction over time, reducing the chance of causing problems. So it has a pretty good chance of not hurting any of the existing macro or small cells, all the while providing additional high-throughput small cell links without needing more spectrum.Basically it’s like when you walk down a sidewalk and someone’s in front of you. You do that little dance for a second and then you figure it out and pass each other. You don’t have to talk to each other but you do have a little impact on each other. After a few encounters, you even learn the customary side to favor, and may have to do the dance less often as you travel the sidewalk. That is what a phone will do with CCR.The advantages of this approach are increased throughput and the ability to initiate and maintain calls, with benefits that depend on each specific situation. One simulation that examined how users of a small cell base station would be affected by a passerby’s smartphone, for example, showed the ability to maintain five links simultaneously instead of one.CCR will also help in situations where customers want to keep their small cell base stations private. In that situation, nearby users whose phones are linked to the nearest cell phone tower rather than the small base system may interfere with all of the frequencies that the small base station is trying to use – unless the small cell base station is equipped with CCR.Importantly, manufacturers of base stations can exploit these CCR advantages with standard existing technologies and protocols. Additionally, CCR systems can play an important role in disaster response, helping to ensure reliable communications among emergency radio equipment of all kinds.Other MIT efforts to optimize the use of wireless spectrum include a cognitive radio technology that weaves together available frequencies and technologies that aim to improve network performance via smart antennas. All these MIT technologies may aid in making good connections among smartphones and other devices as the number of small cell base stations soars, from 11 million in 2013 to 92 million in 2016.