Wildfires spread in the West, flash flooding forecast in Texas

first_imgFILE – Erin Donalson/iStock(NEW YORK) — There are now 14 large uncontained wildfires burning in the West, not including smaller fires that broke out Monday.One of them, the Francis Fire in Davis County, Utah burned up to 200 acres and there were mandatory evacuations for residents in the area, though those have since been lifted since Monday evening.Tuesday, the cold front that caused all the gusty winds that helped to spread the fire in Utah will continue to move through the West, producing more gusty winds 20 to 60 mph.There are still Red Flag Warnings Tuesday morning and also high wind warnings from Utah to Wyoming.Elsewhere, a tropical disturbance in the western Gulf of Mexico will bring very heavy rain to eastern Texas from Houston to just east of Dallas.The heavy rain will begin Tuesday afternoon and the round of heavy rain will continue into Thursday.Some areas are expected to see up to 10 inches of rain, especially in Houston, Galveston and up to the Lufkin, Texas area where flash flooding is forecast later Tuesday.Meanwhile, Hurricane Humberto is moving away from the U.S. but will continue to bring high surf and dangerous rip currents from the Mid-Atlantic to the Carolinas and down to Florida where the waves could be as high as 11 feet.As Humberto moves east it will pass to the north of Bermuda brining gusty winds and heavy rain to the island where a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for them.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Continue Reading

Franklin County Economic Report: A long road back to the pre-pandemic

first_imgPhoto: Cows grazing in Franklin, VT. Photo: Andrew Godin.by Joy Choquette, Vermont Business MagazineFamous Vermonter Norman Rockwell once said, “The view of life I communicate in my pictures excludes the sordid and the ugly. I paint life as I would like it to be.” As towns and counties throughout the state reel in the wake of COVID-19 and residents adjust to a “new normal,” this quote is apt.The financial picture in Franklin County isn’t as bright as it was last year at this time, said Mayor Tim Smith.But although challenges abound, Smith has been impressed with the hard-working attitude exhibited by those in the local workforce during the pandemic. He has also been encouraged by some positive steps forward.COVID-19’s Effect on Franklin CountyThe largest challenge to the county during COVID-19, Smith said, was the dismissal of schools in the area. The connectivity and meals that children receive through the school system are essential in many students’ lives. To have those things suddenly disrupted left school administrators, teachers, and parents scrambling to find their footing, Smith noted.Working parents and kids staying home alone when daycares closed earlier this spring were real concerns.“The impact to families and individuals was great,” said Smith.Photo: Tim Smith, Mayor of St. Albans. Courtesy Photo.Additionally, employees who had the option of working at home were responsible for balancing their own regular workload in a new setting. And parents had the additional burden of doing so alongside homeschooling their children.Other challenges in the county continue to crop up, said Smith, after-effects of COVID-19. A major issue recently is the possible impending Homeland Security layoffs.“We have a large employee base here in St Albans,” said Smith. “When you look at laying off 60 to 70 percent of the workforce—the impact on families will be huge.”Vermont’s congressional delegation are among many in Congress that were able to stave off those furloughs, at least for now.In addition, dairy prices have nosedived, and dairy farmers are struggling significantly, said Smith.“The financial packages that are being brought to bear are just a drop in the bucket compared to what they [farmers] are dealing with,” Smith explained.A year ago, milk prices were on the rise and unemployment rates in the area were low. A number of projects were moving forward, said Smith, but now all that has changed.“Now, depending on what happens with immigration and the dairy industry, it may be a long road back,” Smith said.Economic Development Coordinator of the Town of Swanton/Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation, Elisabeth Nance, noted that COVID-19 required nimbleness as employees and employers have had to learn to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.Photo: Elisabeth Nance, economic development coordinator of the Town of Swanton/Franklin County Industrial Corporation. Courtesy Photo.“For employees, it is keeping up with the resources that are available while trying to juggle changes at work and in the home. For employers, it is understanding the various programs that are available and getting in the queue to get funds or other assistance,” said Nance.“From an organizational standpoint, it has been a challenge to effectively communicate what resources are available in a timely manner given the rapid changes while addressing the challenge of working from home,” Nance noted that learning to navigate virtual meetings is a specific challenge. “On the other hand, we’ve seen higher attendance because people don’t have to travel to get to their various meetings,” Nance noted.Economic Successes in Franklin CountyThough the dairy industry in the area has recently taken a hit, as noted by Smith, it also received some good news. The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), kicked off a $30 million investment to its plant in St Albans.This investment includes improvements and upgrades to milk storage, milk handling, receiving, and process and flow within the facility, said Brad Keating, senior vice president, and chief operating officer of DFA’s Northeast Area. A virtual groundbreaking event took place on July 15. The DFA merged with the St Albans Cooperative Creamery last year.Additionally, approximately $10 million has been earmarked for new tractors and trailers to support milk hauling.“We remain committed to keep investing in Vermont and our overall infrastructure to support our members,” said Keating during the virtual groundbreaking event.Governor Phil Scott stated, “This new project in Franklin County is important to our economy, helping farmers and those who make a living off the land, which in the end will help consumers.” He also noted that “By building these new bays and silos, it shows DFAs commitment to the future and our state.”A positive to come out of the pandemic, was seeing residents in the region continue to patronize local businesses as soon as the phases of re-opening occurred, stated Chip Sawyer, director of planning and development for St Albans City.“Many businesses were quick to find ways to get their products to customers or find ways to keep their employees working using whatever means they had and supports provided by the government,” said Sawyer.Also, Sawyer believes that the diverse landscape of businesses in the county is a plus.“In the end, Franklin County still has a good balance of jobs in various sectors, from retail to manufacturing, and a strong base of businesses that contribute to the quality of life.”Photo: DFA improvements to the dairy facility, Federal Street, St. Albans. Courtesy Photo. Economic Challenges in Franklin CountyWhile COVID-19 has presented its own set of very real challenges for business owners, other economic challenges already existed in Franklin County. Companies were challenged with finding workers long before the pandemic, Nance said.In addition, “There are some workers who are currently making more on unemployment than they made at their pre-COVID jobs so they may not yet be looking for work,” said Nance. “Others are faced with needing to transition to another job,” Nance stated, “that takes time and is often uncomfortable.”Adam Paxman, president of the Swanton Chamber of Commerce, agreed. On a county level, getting people back to work has been a challenge.Paxman explained, “There is no incentive to go back when they are making more on unemployment.”The initial federal unemployment benefit expired July 25. But a new program could be authorized by Congress and an executive order by President Trump is likely to backdate up to $400 a week to that time. The details on that plan were still being worked out at VBM’s press time.Not being able to hold social events at an organizational level has been an ongoing hardship.“Community events bring people and commerce into the community and promote the sense of community,” said Paxman. “Organizations which promote these events have not been able to continue their mission of community promotions.”Paxman stated that Act 250 is an ongoing challenge for local businesses. “We say we are business-friendly, but we really are not,” said Paxman. “The education tax we are forced to pay is a weakness all caused by not being business-friendly.”In order to solve this problem, he would like to see schools responsible for their own budgets.“Find another way to pay for the education tax. If the school system is in the red, deal with it and cut the budget,” Paxman said. “That’s the way it works with a household or a business. You cut out the fat in your budget and live simpler so you can afford to keep living.”Nance agreed that Act 250 does create challenges for businesses.“There are a lot of Act 250-related restrictions and time restraints,” she said. “Some of the best places to put businesses aren’t options because of wetlands.”She said that though she appreciates the protection of Vermont’s ecosystem, she believes, “In trying to do the right thing we sometimes go a little overboard.”Sawyer sees what he calls “familiar systematic issues” in the county continuing.“The lack of available modern office, warehouse, and manufacturing space built on spec for businesses that would like to grow or locate to our county,” is number one.Second, “The regionally-coined ‘Formidable Four’ barriers to workforce sustainability: housing, transportation, childcare, and substance use disorder.”Third, “the need to expand broadband access throughout our county—especially now,” Sawyer noted, are all challenges to the county’s economy.Smith concurred. “The number one piece is that there are no vacancies for manufacturing or industrial needs for warehousing.”If there is no tenant in place, getting a lease with the bank is impossible.“We have nothing to show businesses interested in coming to the county as far as options for sites,” Smith noted. He believes the solution is straightforward. “Capital investment in facilities and buildings that  would help us recruit new business on a regular basis.”Doing Business in Franklin County NowFranklin County, like every other county in Vermont and most of the country, has been hit hard economically by COVID-19. For months, businesses were closed completely or had to find a new way to offer services or products in order to stay afloat.The bar and restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit. According to the National Restaurant Association, $120 billion in lost revenues had occurred as of the end of May.Tom Murphy is the owner of Twiggs American Gastropub. The restaurant and bar, located on Main Street in downtown St Albans like every other eatery, has undergone extremely stressful changes with the new restrictions in place during COVID-19.Photo: Tom Muphy, owner of Twiggs. Photo: Twiggs.Typically in an average month, Murphy stated that Twiggs earned between $30,000 to $40,000 in alcohol sales alone. That figure dropped down to between $5,000 to $6,000 during the pandemic.Despite the challenges, Murphy called it, “The best thing that’s ever happened to the restaurant. I’m not saying COVID and sickness and death is the best thing that’s ever happened,” Murphy clarified, “but we’ve been two to three times busier than we’ve been in the history of the restaurant.”Murphy coordinated a free spaghetti dinner for the community which fed 1,600 people. Twiggs also began creating family-style meals that were delivered by the restaurant staff.“Waitstaff became delivery drivers, people helped out in the kitchen, everything really came together,” said Murphy. “Our goal was to keep people employed and serve the community.”Despite the positive approach in the face of challenges, Murphy acknowledges that there are very real struggles not only for his business but others in the area as well.“The stories I hear are not great ones,” said Murphy.Predictions by the National Restaurant Association indicate that the revenues lost by restaurants nationwide could rise to as much as $240 billion by the end of 2020.Still, Murphy has chosen to stay positive and focus on what he can control. He believes that the pandemic may teach business owners important lessons, particularly those that work together and are open to learning how to pivot.The four deadly words in business—especially in these challenging times Murphy believes—is “I’ll do it myself.”Working together, sharing ideas, and collaborating are ways in which Murphy believes business owners might come out stronger on the other side of COVID-19.“It seems that everyone is learning from everyone else. The only way we’re going to really figure it out is communicating and the emotional intel of our community together.”Paxman stated that the potential expansion of the Franklin County State Airport, located in Highgate, would be a big help to the county.“If the expansion of this airport comes to fruition it will be a huge positive for economic growth,” said Paxman.The airport could receive more than $2.2 million in federal funds, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The money would be used to support rebuilding the airport’s existing runway and expanding it.Continuing to build relationships between businesses in Franklin County and those directly over the border in Canada—once the borders are reopened—is a big benefit that the county has, said Paxman. He calls the Swanton’s location a huge opportunity.“The environment is ripe to entice new business from Canada,” Paxman said.Outlook for 2020 and BeyondThe county has opportunities that it can capitalize on, stated Sawyer. A solid residential base means that Franklin County can thrive and provide value in nearly every employment sector. This will reduce the need for so many residents to commute out of the area.Also, “There are ongoing efforts to find regional synergies to address the ‘Formidable Four’ barriers to workforce sustainability,” said Sawyer.Cuts and financial hardships at the county’s hospital, Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) along with the proposed furloughs at Homeland Security are big challenges that will need to be addressed carefully.Sawyer noted that these have been and will continue to be hard on the community. He hopes that these major employers will bounce back in when more COVID-related restrictions are lifted and easier phases are in place.“Franklin and Grand Isle counties used to have a very successful workforce investment board,” said Nance. “Due to the loss of state funds the coordinator position was eliminated but bringing someone back into that position would give employers and employees a liaison who could identify necessary skills and the resources available.”The Town of Swanton received $1 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. These will be loaned to Leader Evaporator to provide working capital while the new president, Jeff Smith, completes the company’s turnaround plan, said Nance.Photo: Recently completed Ace Hardware, just one of a few projects in Swanton’s economic revitalization. Photo by Katie Kittell.The fact that the county’s unemployment rate is 11.6 percent versus the state average of 12.7 percent, gives Nance hope.“That suggests that Franklin County is better situated than some other parts of Vermont. This owes to some migration of people and businesses out of Chittenden County and a strong business base with loyal consumers,” Nance noted.Smith believes community improvement projects in the areas of Enosburg, Richford, and Swanton are going to be very valuable the rest of this year and beyond. He referred to the example that St Albans City set several years ago when it upgraded its downtown area.“These towns are doing a lot of things to improve their communities and I think a lot of that was seeing the example of what St Albans did in the last several years. They’re trying to build on that momentum,” said Smith.Murphy was open about the fact that he was not initially a proponent of the stimulus project in downtown St Albans. He remained skeptical but has been pleasantly surprised in the outcome. He said that he hopes other business owners utilize the opportunities that the stimulus money provided.“I hope it’s directed to the right places,” said Murphy. “That story has yet to be told.”Despite the improved downtown area, Murphy said that he’s still very worried about it.“I’ve been standing on it for 10 years now and more and more businesses are gone. I think we need to look at a different type of business coming to town.”While people open businesses with great ideas and energy, these very often fizzle out months or years later.Murphy stated that he’s seeing more retail and commercial spaces on the ground-floor level of Main Street turned into housing. He himself, recently purchased the building next door to the restaurant and turned it into condos.If this trend continues though, what will draw visitors to the downtown area?“What are you going to bring in that’s going to make it?” Murphy asked. “That’s a real question because you can’t compete with big businesses. I think we’ve got to think of a different way of doing business on small-town Main Street.”Franklin County experienced a .83 percent increase in population growth in 2020. Now 50,249 residents live in the area, according to World Population Review. The county is evenly split between male and female residents, according to The US Census Bureau. The majority of individuals, 90.8 percent, have a high school education and/or college degree.From 2014 to 2018—the most recent statistics captured—the US Census Bureau stated that 69 percent of the population is employed (ages 16 and older). The median income was just over $64,000 per year.There are 16 towns which make up Franklin County: Bakersfield, Berkshire, East Berkshire, Enosburg Falls, Fairfax, Fairfield, Fletcher, Franklin, Georgia, Highgate, Highgate Springs, Montgomery, Richford, Sheldon, St Albans Town and Swanton. St Albans City is the seat of the county.The most recent census data in 2016 indicated that 4,479 places of employment existed in the county. Those numbers have fluctuated slightly in recent times.Due to a strong manufacturing focus in the county, however, many businesses remain less impacted by COVID-19 than in other parts of the state. Businesses are located throughout the 633 square-mile county, with the majority being in the St Albans City and Town areas.Joy Choquette is a freelance writer from Franklin County.last_img read more

Continue Reading

Marsicano Award nominations sought

first_img Marsicano Award nominations sought The City, County and Local Government Law Section is now accepting nominations for its Ralph A. Marsicano Award.The award is given to a lawyer who has made a significant contribution to the practice of local government law. The award honors Marsicano who served Tampa for more than 30 years as an assistant, and often acting, city attorney. He was often considered the “Dean of U.S. City Attorneys.”Nominations must be submitted in writing to Ricky Libbert, program administrator, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300, and be accompanied by a summary of the nominee’s activities and accomplishments which qualify the individual for receipt of the award. Copies may also be sent to H. Hamilton Rice, Jr., Chair of the Ralph A. Marsicano Award Committee, Lewis, Longman & Walker, 1001 3rd Avenue West, Suite 670, Bradenton 34205.The deadline for receipt of nominations is Thursday, April 1.The award will be presented at the City, County and Local Government Law Section’s 33rd Annual Local Government Law Seminar, May 7 at the Don CeSar Beach Resort, St. Petersburg Beach. February 15, 2010 Regular News Marsicano Award nominations soughtlast_img read more

Continue Reading

From Spain: Rodrigo medical tomorrow – Widespread agreement move to Leeds…

first_imgThat’s according to AS and Plaza Deportiva, who back up claims from across Spain that Marcelo Bielsa’s side are closing in on the 29-year-old.Reports today indicated that Leeds chief Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta had travelled to Spain to finalise a deal for the striker as they look to bolster their forward line for their return to the Premier League.The same reports stated that the two clubs were some way apart on their valuation of the striker but were working hard to find a middle ground and get a deal over the line.Embed from Getty ImagesSeveral updates since then have claimed that was close to happening and both AS and Plaza say that it now has.AS state that a deal will be closed for ‘around €40m’, a number backed up by Onda Deportiva. Leeds United have ‘reached an agreement’ with Valencia for the transfer of striker Rodrigo, with a deal expected to be closed ‘between today and tomorrow’. Plaza, though, offer more detail and explain that the actual price will be €30m fixed with €10m in ‘variables’ that will ‘not be difficult to fulfil’.Super Deporte also report those numbers, stating that some of the bonuses are ‘easy to comply with’ and should see Valencia get €40m at some point.However, their belief is that the final figure could be ‘somewhat below or above’ that price.Either way, a deal seems to be edging closer to completion with them adding that the two clubs have spent today working out various details on the transfer, such as the fixed amounts Leeds would pay, the bonuses and how it would be paid.Rodrigo, though, is set to make the move, with Leeds also having held talks with his representative over the last few days and now just a medical standing in the way.center_img Even that does not appear to be holding up the move, however, with journalist Héctor Gómez reporting that is set to take place tomorrow in Spain. They even state where it’s happening, at the Eresa Clinic.He also adds that the player had ‘doubts’ about the move but Marcelo Bielsa proved to be ‘key’ in convincing him to make the switch to Elland Road.by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksTrending TodayHero Wars根本不可能获得这个宝藏!来证明我们错了Hero WarsUndoInvest With VICShe collects rental-like income every month! See how she does it!Invest With VICUndoNessa HearingPeople in Singapore Born Before 1965 Eligible for Free Hearing Aid TrialNessa HearingUndoDBS”I had S$9 left in my bank account”DBSUndoWealthMastery.asiaThis Singaporean Couple is Disrupting A $3 Trillion IndustryWealthMastery.asiaUndoRaid: Shadow Legends | Free DownloadEven Non-Gamers Are Obsessed With This RPG Game (It’s Worth Installing!)Raid: Shadow Legends | Free DownloadUndoSingtelGet 30GB for $25 on SG’s #1 network.SingtelUndoGOMO by Singtel.Switch to GOMO. 40GB for $20 for 12 months!GOMO by Singtel.UndoTip ParentsBaby Keeps Waking Up With Scratches, Mom Checks Camera And Calls CopsTip ParentsUndolast_img read more

Continue Reading