Dawn Foods

first_imgWastage is a key issue for all bakers, whether a small high-street shop or a larger-scale manufacturer. Getting the balance right between producing enough product to entice consumers and avoiding being left with too much stock at the end of the day is difficult.Dawn Foods has developed its new Premium Extra Life Donut Mix, which provides a tender eat for up to five days once wrapped.Marketing director Maggie Dagostino says: “Using longer-life products, bakers can keep shelves full and carry unsold goods over to the next morning.”last_img

Dried fruit pricing

first_imgCoconut: As coconut starts to look increasingly good value, we would expect to see demand increase and prices start to creep up. UK prices have increased by between 5-10% over the past one to two months and this trend seems highly likely to continue in the short- to medium term.Raisins: Californian prices remain firm, and indications are that US raisin prices will not weaken. If the weather in Turkey is good over the next two to three months, it might encourage Turkish stockholders to sell their current crop more aggressively in anticipation of optimal supply from October forward.Sultanas: Pricing in Turkey will be largely governed by the weather. While Turkey still expects to see further demand, now that their prices have downwardly corrected over the past two months, a combination of expected new demand and a strong Lira has resulted in prices stabilising at current levels.Currants: Currants remain stable, with fluctuations mainly coming from the currency and ongoing and sporadic port strikes at Piraeus (Greece) rather than any supply/demand issue from the commodity itself.Apricots: The Turkish apricots market continues to firm on the back of strong demand, a strong Lira and the remainder of unsold stocks held in the hands of strong Turkish processors.l Based on information provided by ingredients supplier RM Curtislast_img read more

Speech: Education Secretary sets vision for boosting social mobility

first_imgThank you very much to the Resolution Foundation for chairing and to David for that introduction.And good morning everyone. It’s a great pleasure to see so many people here this morning.In particular, I’d like to take the chance to welcome the new chair of the Social Mobility Commission, Dame Martina Milburn. I’m very much looking forward to working with you and your team, and, indeed, to being challenged by you on these issues.For Dame Martina, and for some many people here, of course, have championed social mobility for a long time.It is also a cause very close to my heart.Social mobility is, ultimately, why I’m in politics – it’s why I wanted to come to be a minister at the Department for Education. In fact, I think it is a large part why we have a Department for Education – a core purpose of that department.Everyone should have the chance to fulfil that spark of potential which exists in all of us.You shouldn’t be destined to travel a certain path just because of the place that you start. That’s a simple concept – but not so easy to get right as many have found over the years.And yet it is a moral imperative. It’s fundamental to our ideas of fairness and social justice because progress for our society should be progress for all, but especially for the most disadvantaged, the ones who start with the odds most stacked against them.Now, social mobility is also fundamental for a strong, highly skilled, productive economy, which successfully deploys and maximises its human resources – which, of course, can sound quite dry and inhuman.But it’s productivity growth that underpins economic growth, and in turn it’s that which allows people to be paid a little more each year, and for us to be able afford the public services on which we all depend.So, the case for social mobility, I think, is self-evident.But how mobile are we as a society?Well, historically, Britain has been compared a little unfavourably to other countries, but we can now point to a lot of progress looking back on our history. And there are building blocks in place now for greater social mobility in the future.Thanks to the hard work of our teachers and to our reforms –1.9 million more children are now being taught in Good or Outstanding schools than there were eight years ago. That’s 88% of children, up from 66% in 2010.The Pupil Premium has made sure there is more support for those children who come from a less affluent background. And, importantly, we’re making sure that those interventions can be based on good evidence – through the independent Education Endowment Foundation.Whereas once we measured a school’s performance by its A-C pupils in five subjects – now, through progress 8, everyone’s progress counts towards the key measure. This stops a disproportionate focus on the C/D borderline, to the detriment of others at both ends of the scale.The number of 19 year olds without GCSEs in maths and English is now at a record low.And, critically, since 2010 the gap in early years development has fallen by 14%.Since 2011, the attainment gap has narrowed by 10% amongst 11 year olds at key stage 2 and the same is true at GCSE level.And we have more disadvantaged pupils going on to university than ever before.I’m also delighted to see here with us today some of the incredibly committed Opportunity Area chairs here today. They are doing fantastic work breaking the cycle of wasted talent in some of the most challenging areas of the country. This is a key programme started by my predecessor Justine Greening. And I pay tribute to her ongoing work on social mobility.But the progress made shouldn’t blind us to the challenge.10% is a good start in terms of reducing the gap, but there is more to go.We shouldn’t forget that these are gaps that open up very early on.Right now 28% of children finish their reception year without the early communication and reading skills that they need to thrive. I’ll be coming back to this statistic later on.But what do these gaps like these mean? And why do they matter? Ultimately, your education stays with you.We know there are opportunities out there for people, whatever your background – great schools, world-class universities and a thriving job market, so there are options.But how meaningful are these options? And how meaningful are some people’s choices? While some are primed, throughout their lives, to recognise and seize the opportunities that come their way – that isn’t true for everyone.Today I am publishing new analysis by my department which, for the very first time, looks at how children on Free School Meals and children with Special Educational Needs, go on to fare in the job market.And the results are striking. Children eligible for Free School Meals when they are at school are 23% less likely to be in sustained employment at the age of 27, compared to their peers.And in fact, it’s a similar result for children identified with special educational needs – 25% less likely to be in sustained employment at 27.Stark facts like these call for an ambitious policy response.That’s why, as David mentioned in his introduction, in 2012, with Eric Ollerenshaw – who I’m pleased to see here today – I helped form and became the first chair of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on social mobility.And the idea was to work out what we could actually agree on, across the parties, despite our different politics – about the issues that needed to be addressed and constraints, rather than the policy solutions.And at the beginning we realised that different people can be in the same conversation about social mobility and think everyone else is talking about the same thing – but actually they aren’t.There are, at least, three different things that different people mean by social mobility on different occasions.In one conversation it’s about how helping people from the most difficult, troubled backgrounds, to break out of their very constraining circumstances.In another conversation it’s about how we nurture outstanding talent – allowing the stars to shine.Other times, we can be talking about helping everyone to fulfil their potential and move on up to be able to get a better education or better job than their parents.They are all important, and indeed at some point in some way are related, but they typically call for different kinds of policy approaches.And there are many, many factors that may conspire to hold people back that one can think about.And in that APPG group, we tried to consider all the drivers and then to simplify, to get to the heart of what makes social mobility work.So we came up with seven key principles, what we called the Seven Key Truths about social mobility.These were:First, that the point of greatest leverage for social mobility is the very earliest time in life. What happens between the ages of zero and three. Primarily that means what happens at home.Second, you can, of course, also break the cycle through the education you receive at school.And, third, within that, within education, the most important controllable factor is the quality of teachers and teaching.Fourth, your school days aren’t only about the days you spend at school; it’s also about what happens after the school bell rings.Fifth, as David said, university remains the top swing factor determinant of later opportunities.But, sixth, it’s also possible to create second chances for people later on, with the right will, help and support.And, finally, seventh, someone’s personal resilience and emotional wellbeing can be as important as their exam results – and, of course, frequently linked.Now, that was 2012 and though you can always argue other things are important too and the list is incomplete, nothing I’ve heard in those intervening six years since has made me think these seven truths are untrue – and they very much guide my thinking now as Education Secretary.And today I want to revisit some of these truths.Focusing today, particularly on the early years, and then looking ahead to the choices and opportunities young people have when they leave school, and how we support them to make the most of those opportunities.So starting at the beginning with the early years: in that research report we found out that, in those first few years, that you can have the biggest impact in changing someone’s future path.That is why this government has prioritised extending high quality pre-school education and childcare.For the first time, we introduced 15 hours of free early education a week for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds, including looked after children, children with special needs and children of low income families.That is on top of the 15 hours free childcare offer for all three-and-four-year-olds, which we doubled to 30 hours for working parents.And we are now seeing more children start school ready and able to learn.But despite encouraging progress – entrenched challenges remain.Most pressingly, it is a persistent scandal that we have children starting school and struggling to communicate, to speak in full sentences.That we have children who have hardly yet opened a book, or had the chance to discover all the worlds books introduce you to.And this matters.Because when you’re behind from the start you rarely catch up, because, of course, your peers don’t wait, the gap just widens and this has a huge impact on social mobility.On average, disadvantaged children are four months behind at age five. That grows by an additional six months by the age of 11, and a further nine months by the age of 16.So, by the time they take their GCSEs they are, on average, 19 months behind their peers.Then what? Well as I’ve said, your education stays with you.Children with poor vocabulary at age five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed when they are aged 34.It’s command of language, being able to express ourselves effectively, that is the gateway to success in school – and later on into later life.That is why I am setting out an ambition today.As I said earlier, more than a quarter – 28% – of children finish their reception year still without the early communication and reading skills they need to thrive. It’s not acceptable and tackling it must be our shared priority. My ambition is to cut that number in half over the next ten years.Now of course, achieving an ambition of this scale will not be easy.We must continue to prioritise making sure there is high quality pre-school education available where those from disadvantaged backgrounds can access it.We have previously committed £50 million to expand school-based nursery provision.As part of this, today I’m announcing we will launch a capital bidding round of £30 million to invite leading schools to come forward with projects to create new high-quality nursery places, demonstrating innovative approaches to closing the gap for disadvantaged children.And to ensure provision is high quality we must make sure we invest in people as well as in buildings. That is why we will be investing £20 million to train and develop early years professionals, focusing in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. So they have the expertise to support very young children’s early language and literacy skills.All of this will, I believe, play its part as the first steps towards meeting our long-term ambition. But there is another place to think about as well.However many more hours of nursery you provide and however much younger and younger you go, the truth is that the majority of these children’s time is spent at home.The home learning environment can be, understandably, the last taboo in education policy – but we simply can’t afford to ignore it when it comes to social mobility.Now there is some good news, which should encourage us. Research from the Social Mobility Commission has found that over the past 40 years, the overall amount of time parents spend on development activities, such as playing and reading with their children has risen significantly. But at the same time it’s diverged, the gap in this time investment between parents from more and less advantaged families has actually widened.Official statistics show that four in five high income parents now read at least once a day to their pre-school child. This compares to just over half on average of low income parents.I’m a parent myself – I know you’re not born knowing how to bring up a child, some of it is instinctive – but most of it isn’t. You kind of pick it up from your own parents, from your family and friends, things you read here and there. But you’re conscious of what you don’t know.Particularly if you’re time poor, struggling to make ends meet – if you have your own literacy struggles.And so I don’t have any interest in lecturing to parents. I know it’s parents who bring up their children, who love them, who invest in them in so many ways, who want the best for them.But that doesn’t mean extra support and advice can’t be helpful.And I’ve seen for myself that giving parents a helping hand can have fantastic results. I recently visited Rothesay nursery in Luton and witnessed a session – a very moving session – with parents and children to encourage reading and language development at home.There were children at that session who came there unable to talk – now they can’t stop.And the mothers I met were incredibly proud of how their child had transformed and no longer quite so anxious about how they would get on at school.So parents can welcome advice and help – and this is a shared enterprise.I know that to achieve the scale of ambition that I’ve set out, it needs to be a society-wide ambition with businesses, the media, the voluntary sector, and our tech industry all playing their part.All working together to raise awareness and support parents’ confidence around what they can do to help their child’s early language development, exposing them to more words, more stories and more books.Successful public health initiatives like the 5-a-day campaign have become part of the national consciousness. I want to find similar simple solutions for busy parents to help their children’s language and literacy.To kick start this, today I am inviting businesses, broadcasters and a broad range of other organisations to be part of this coalition and to attend a summit this autumn to explore innovative ways to boost early language development and reading in the home.I’m very pleased that the National Literacy Trust who are already doing fantastic work in this area, will be joining us – as well as Public Health England.And that leading businesses including WHSmith, British Land and KPMG have signed up.I’m pleased that the BBC who also do a lot of great work in this space, including improving the communication and language skills of kids starting school behind, will also join the summit. And I’m delighted that we will have ITV there as well.I want us all to rally around this – to make children’s literacy and narrowing the early years gap a national cause, a national mission.We are already working with the Education Endowment Foundation, to identify the best home learning programmes, offering practical advice to parents who want to do more reading with their children – we’ll then look to share the best ideas more widely.Now, we know that all of us live in two worlds now – the real one and the virtual one. It’s easy for kids and parents to spend a lot of our time looking at the screen whether it’s our phones, our TVs, our laptops.And we can derive huge benefits from this, life is much faster, more convenient, more entertaining, but as we all know there are also downsides if we downgrade the benefits of the real world, of human interaction.But are we also missing a trick here? If our phones and apps can help us bank, shop, diet, exercise and figure out where we are.Why not also help us with helping our children develop their communication and reading?There are applications out there with helpful tips and imaginative ideas for helping with children’s early development, but not all of these are widely known, and parents won’t know which are the best.That is why the department will be launching a competition to identify high quality apps, with the aim of making these free and easily accessible, making sure that disadvantaged families don’t miss out.And this isn’t just about the early years either – a good home learning environment matters throughout a child’s education.I want to make a leap now, from the earliest years to young people right on the cusp of adulthood.Across the country, young people are 16 days away from finding out their A-level results – many will be feeling nervous about their results and where their results will take them.As we established in the Seven Key Truths – university is a key determinant of future success.Now, on the social mobility front, we can point to record numbers of 18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds going on to attend university.But, we should be honest about digging into these figures a little deeper and acknowledging the 18 year old applicants from the most advantaged areas in the country are still nearly five and a half times more likely to enter the most selective universities than their disadvantaged peers. And that, ladies and gentleman, is not acceptable.And we need to consider whether in all cases a traditional degree at university is the right option for young people, including those from more affluent backgrounds. For a long time, one of the reasons university was such a key determinant of future success was that many of the alternative options towards highly-skilled work were frankly not up to scratch.Technical education in this country – a country, by the way, with a distinguished history of technical brilliance – has long been seen by many as the second-best option to academic study and university.This government is committed to making technical education a first-class option through our £500 million investment in T Levels qualifications that will be on a par with A-levels as well as high-quality apprenticeships, including degree-level apprenticeships.Crucially, employers are helping to set the required standards for T Levels and apprenticeships guaranteeing they will have real currency in the labour market.Our goal is that in future, all young people, whatever their background, will have much better choices when they start thinking about their post 16 and their post 18 destinations.So while we improve the choices young people have, we also make sure that they are real choices. We need to make sure that young people from all backgrounds also have a path into the most sought-after universities. That attending the best universities is all about your ability and capacity to benefit – not where you’re born or to whom.And that’s why we are challenging universities on widening access.Indeed, next year universities expect to spend £860 million to improve access and success for disadvantaged students this is a lot of money and it needs to be spent well.And to do this we have to think clearly about the challenges we face.For example, the latest statistics on destinations of sixth form and college students have shown that disadvantaged white pupils are less likely to be studying in higher education the next year than disadvantaged pupils of any other ethnic groups.And, even though disadvantaged black pupils are almost twice as likely to go to a top third university as white disadvantaged pupils, they are both similarly underrepresented at the most selective universities, including the Russell Group.We know too that there is great variation across regions of England, with one in five disadvantaged pupils from London, from this city, going to a top third university compared to only one in 17 from the North East.So I want to harness the great research skills for which our universities are rightly famous, to find out why more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not getting into those universities and in some cases not even aspiring to attend university, particularly the top ones.To build our evidence base on what kind of outreach most works, we have asked the Office of Students to launch a new initiative to identify and share the best approaches for getting children from different backgrounds into university, including the most selective.The tender for this goes out today and we are inviting organisations, and groups of organisations – including, of course, universities themselves – to submit bids.We’re clear about expecting more from universities on this. But, of course, there is a larger question: why aren’t more state school pupils getting top results in A-levels, in the subjects we know universities and employers value?Right now, we know only 7% of children go to private school and yet in 2016-17 just under 23% of young people going to Russell Group universities were from private schools and 40% of young people going to Oxbridge were.But, then, private schools are responsible for 14% of all students taking A-levels. And they represent 25% of students getting three or more As at A-level.So universities certainly need to do more to close the gap but we also need to do more at school-level.Now, we are making progress.The percentage of Free School Meal pupils who are achieving the equivalent to an old grade C or above in English and maths has risen from 35.1% in 2010/11 to 40.3% in 2016/17.But, clearly, there is further to go and that’s why we are investing in schools in the most deprived areas, targeting support towards children struggling with core skills like maths, reading and writing, investing in teachers’ professional development as well, again, especially in the places where this can make the biggest difference.But it’s not just the attainment gap. There can also be an expectation gap and a knowledge gap when it comes to making the best choices as a student and a parent.For middle-class parents, there’s an awareness that there are harder and easier subjects and, as parents, we might encourage our children to do some of the harder ones – whether that’s maths or history or, these days, Mandarin, because we know they can also be a signalling device to universities and to employers.Now this is partly why we introduced the idea of the English Baccalaureate, the EBacc, which covers the core academic subjects like maths, English, science, humanities and languages.We know that lower participation in core academic subjects can negatively affect social mobility.The Ebacc signals to all families, all students, that these are generally the subjects that will keep your options most open and whatever your future career path: make sure you get your core academic grounding.And while it’s vital that children have the opportunity to build on this core, we need to make sure that this is also through rigorous, stretching qualifications which are appropriate to the needs of all pupils.And that’s why my department is undertaking a thorough review of all the non-GCSE qualifications currently taken by 14 to 16-year-olds to make sure the only options available are high-quality ones that employers can recognise and trust.Social mobility is, of course, a complex issue to crack.I’ve focused in particular today on two of what we call the seven key truths – but this is only part of the story. Social mobility will be a huge focus for my department – as I said I believe this is a big part of why we have a Department for Education.One crucial area in particular I will be saying more on is character and resilience – how this is shaped by your relationships and experiences, the aspirations of those around you, and by taking part in extra-curricular activities from sport, to music, to volunteering, to work experience itself.You won’t crack social mobility by only focusing on exam results – and this is an area where I believe we need to do more, and indeed understand more.So I’m delighted that Dame Martina and the Social Mobility Commission will be undertaking a major piece of research work on how extracurricular activities, networks and the development of so-called soft skills can influence social mobility, looking at the gaps between disadvantaged young people and their peers – and how these vary by factors such as region, ethnicity, gender, special educational needs, as well as some of the solutions for tackling this.I look forward to using the results of this research to take further steps on behalf of those children who aren’t getting the rich range of cultural experiences they need.I’m also clear that this is a challenge for the long haul – and not one not just for the Minister or, indeed, government of the day.And that’s why I’m commissioning a new big data project that will follow in the footsteps of the American economist Raj Chetty’s landmark work mapping out social mobility in the United States which showed how your chances of beating the odds and improving your lot was hugely affected by where you happened to live.Our project will look at young people today, from across the country, and where they end up over the next five or six years. And I hope by then we will have gathered a huge wealth of information that will benefit researchers and policy makers for decades to come.That is for the future – we must also keep up the urgency today.Our economy is changing fast and while the rapid technological change we’re seeing presents so many opportunities for Britain we can also expect labour market upheaval. We need a plan for people and places that could otherwise be left behind.We need a country that is fit for a high-tech future.And we need a country that works for everyone – because, as I said at the start, what is progress for our society, if we’re not doing more for the people who start out with the biggest disadvantages? A strong society, a strong economy, does not leave people behind.It’s time to raise our ambitions, to expect more and to expect better for every child, whatever their background.And to build a country where everyone can make the most of themselves.Thank you.last_img read more

Chris Stapleton Announces 2019 Tour With Marcus King Band, Margo Price, & More

first_imgToday, Chris Stapleton has announced an extensive 2019 summer/fall tour featuring support from The Marcus King Band, Margo Price, Brent Cobb, Brothers Osborne, Kendell Marvel, and more.The tour will kick off on July 9th at Allentown, PA’s PPL Center and continue throughout the end of July and beginning of August with King and Price. On August 15th in Erie, PA, the support lineup will shift to The Marcus King Band and Brent Cobb for a seven-show run that will take Chris Stapleton and company through the end of August. The tour will resume in October and run through early November with help from Kendell Marvel, Brothers Osborne, and more.Tickets go on sale to the public Friday, February 1st. Sign up for exclusive pre-sale access at StapletonFanClub.com. Fan club pre-sales begin Tuesday, Jan 29th.The newly announced All American Road Show dates come in addition to a mix of festival appearances and other gigs that will keep Stapleton busy throughout the early months of 2019. For a full list of upcoming Chris Stapleton shows, head to his website. For a list of the newly announced performances, see below.Chris Stapleton – All American Road Show – 2019 Tour Dates July 9 – Allentown, PA*July 19 – Omaha, NE*July 25 – Bangor, ME*July 27 – Canandaigua, NY*August 1 – Charleston, WV*August 9 – Holmdel, NJ*August 10 – Burgettstown, PA*August 11 – Columbia, MD*August 15 – Erie, PA^August 16 – Grand Rapids, MI^August 17 – Toronto, ON^August 22 – Wichita, KS^August 23 – Little Rock, AR^August 24 – Bossier City, LA^August 29 – Huntsville, AL^October 3 – Springfield, MO+October 4 – Oklahoma City, OK#October 5 – Memphis, TN+October 10 – Jacksonville, FL#October 11 – Tampa, FL#October 12 – West Palm Beach, FL#October 17 – Charleston, SC+October 18 – Virginia Beach, VA+October 19 – Greensboro, NC+October 25 – Peoria, IL+October 26 – Kansas City, MO+November 1 – Greensville, SC+November 2 – Louisville, KY+*with Margo Price & The Marcus King Band^with Brent Cobb & The Marcus King Band+with Brothers Osborne & Kendell Marvel#with TBA & Kendell MarvelView Tour Dateslast_img read more

Falsettos Revival Sets Fall Broadway Dates

first_img Related Shows View Comments The Broadway revival of Falsettos is back on track. The William Finn and James Lapine musical will begin performances on September 29 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Opening night is set for October 27. Casting will be announced at a later date.Lapine, who directed the original production, returns to helm the revival. Spring Awakening’s Spencer Liff will choreograph. The production is a collaboration between Jujamcyn Theaters and Lincoln Center Theater; Jujamcyn president Jordan Roth initially announced plans for a spring 2016 Broadway bow.The tuner follows Marvin who struggles to create a “tight-knit family” out of his eclectic array of core relationships (including his ex-wife, his new boyfriend, his adolescent son, his psychiatrist and his neighbors). Amidst a series of monumental life changes, he is forced to reckon with his own views on love, responsibility and what it means to be a man.Finn took home the 1993 Tony Award for Best Score and shared Best Book with Lapine for the 1992 production. The cast included Michael Rupert as Marvin, as well as Chip Zien, Carolee Carmello, Barbara Walsh, Heather MacRae, Jonathan Kaplan and Stephen Bogardus.The new production will feature sets by David Rockwell, costumes by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Jeff Croiter and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier.The Walter Kerr Theatre’s next tenant will be The Crucible, which plays a limited engagement from March 1 through July 17. Falsettos Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 8, 2017last_img read more

Community service

first_imgWhile many teenagers play video games and hang out with their friends, 17-year-old Chelsie Restrepo spends her free time doing community service projects and helping the less fortunate.Helping others in needThe Bacon County 4-H’er began her community service when she was only 13. She and her mother organized a benefit that raised more than $1,000 for a local family with financial difficulties. Recently she raised enough money to purchase a swing-set and refurbish the local Department of Family and Children Services playground that is used for supervised visits between children and parents. For two summers, she organized a summer camp for DFACS children. And she collected more than 400 shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts for the DFACS children’s Christmas party. A beauty pageant organized by Restrepo raised more than $3,000 which was used to buy Christmas gifts for DFACS children and fund a Teen Maze at Bacon County High School. The interactive event taught students how to make wise choices when dealing with sex, drugs and alcohol.Mastering in leadershipCombined, these activities earned Restrepo the title of Master 4-H’er in Leadership in Action at the 2010 Georgia State 4-H Congress. With encouragement from Bacon County 4-H Program Assistant Faye Miller, Restrepo began her community service work several years ago.“Chelsie wanted to do something that would make the lives of children better, so she selected human development as her 4-H project area,” said Ann Wildes, the Bacon County 4-H program coordinator.Wildes credits part of Restrepo’s success to her close knit and supportive family; especially her mother, Kim Manning. “Her mother is very, very community-minded and she is someone who supports and encourages Chelsie 100 percent,” Wildes said.Restrepo also earned first place honors in human development at 4-H District Project Achievement where her topic was child abuse, a topic she personally relates to. As a child, she was a victim of emotional abuse. Chartering a youth Exchange ClubTo learn public speaking skills, Wildes encouraged Restrepo to share her personal experience at the local chamber of commerce, Exchange Club and Lions Club meetings. “The Exchange Club raises funds for child abuse so they helped Chelsie fund the playground project,” she said. “They also asked her to start a junior Exchange Club at her high school.”Restrepo followed through on the request and started what is now the first high school Exchange Club chapter in the nation. She has since spoken at the district Exchange Club meeting on Jekyll Island and the club’s national meeting held in California. “Chelsie is a resilient young lady,” said Wildes. “She doesn’t let anything knock her off her feet. She works hard and always does anything we have asked her to do. Chelsie is a prime example of the fact that if you work hard, the opportunities are just endless in 4-H.”last_img read more

Mountain Mama: How to Stay Fit During the Holidays

first_imgDear Mountain Mama,The cooler temperatures, leftovers, football, and online shopping have left me feeling as if I’ve melted into the couch. I’m nervous that the next four weeks will derail my exercise routine. How do I stay committed to fitness during the holiday season?Thanks,Couch-Man———————————————————————Dear Couch-Man,Too often the food and cocktails conspire to add inches to our waist-lines. Even worse, the alcohol, sugar, and fat leave us feeling so sluggish that we lose motivation. Count ’em, there are 35 days of temptation this year between Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Here are four tips to fortify your commitment to health and stay fit during the holidays:Get Outside.Sure, the fire is cozy and the sofa is comfortable. Instead, embrace your inner child and discover the winter wonderland waiting outside your front door. The ski reports look promising for powder turns this winter. Even if you can’t hit the slopes, winter offers plenty of opportunities to play, from sledding and snowball fights to ice skating and snowshoeing.Start Active Traditions.Create something for you and your family to look forward to when the thermometer plunges. Check race calendars for jingle bell runs and New Year’s resolutions races. Encourage your family to ride their bikes to Christmas Eve service. Or rally your friends for a caroling jog around the neighborhood. Reinvent how you spend the holidays by adding a hike, run, or ride as part of your seasonal traditions.Bring Healthy Treats.The buffet line and dessert tray interferes with even our best of intentions. To ensure there’s a healthy option at the next holiday party, be sure to bring a dish that’s easy on the waistband. Consider healthy swaps while baking, like coconut oil instead of butter or almond flour in place of white flour.Incorporate Exercise.It’s easy to miss your bike ride because you had to mail a holiday package or attend the office party. If your calendar is crammed full of obligations, get creative and incorporate exercise into your holiday errands. Be the first one to get on the dance floor at the next party. Load up the jogging stroller with holiday packages and run to the post office. Worse case scenario, lace up your sneakers and power walk around the mall.Couch-Man, don’t let the turkey and leftovers lead to a downward spiral. Staying committed to your exercise routine will reinforce healthy eating choices. By eating right and working out, you’ll have room on your New Year resolution list for new fitness goals, like registering for a marathon or signing up for a century bike ride.Cheers!Mountain Mamalast_img read more

Governor Wolf Announces $5 Million in Traffic Safety Improvements

first_imgGovernor Wolf Announces $5 Million in Traffic Safety Improvements SHARE Email Facebook Twitter October 04, 2019center_img Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that 24 municipalities will receive over $5 million to support traffic signal upgrades, increasing safety and mobility across Pennsylvania’s communities through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT’s) “Green Light-Go” program.“The safety improvements supported by the Green Light-Go program not only help municipalities relieve congestion and traffic flow, they help Pennsylvanians move safely and efficiently,” said Governor Wolf. “I’m proud to help our communities improve mobility for Pennsylvanians.”Green Light-Go grants are provided as reimbursement to municipalities for updates to improve the efficiency and operation of existing traffic signals. Grant funding through the Green Light-Go program may be utilized for a range of operational improvements including, but not limited t: light-emitting diode (LED) technology installation, traffic signal retiming, developing special event plans and monitoring traffic signals, as well as upgrading traffic signals to the latest technologies.Following is a list of approved projects:Allegheny CountyBethel Park – $44,000 for installation of pedestrian countdown signals, push buttons, and pavement markings at the intersection of Fort Couch Road and Oxford DriveCoraopolis Borough – $160,000 to modernize the traffic signal at State Avenue and Montour StreetSpringdale Borough – $430,000 to replace two traffic signals at the Pittsburgh Street/James Street and Pittsburgh Street/School Street intersectionsBerks CountyWyomissing Borough – $173,995 for LED replacement, pedestrian signal upgrades, and controller upgrades at 29 intersectionsCentre CountyFerguson Township – $80,000 for modernizing loop detectors with dilemma zone radar detection at two intersections along Blue Course Drive and Science Park RoadChester CountyEast Whiteland Township – $195,760 for use of automated traffic signal performance measures with upgraded detection at five intersections along PA 29 Morehall RoadSchuylkill Township – $64,455 for upgrading vehicle detection at two intersections along Valley Forge RoadColumbia CountyTown of Bloomsburg – $172,624 for retiming traffic signals at nine intersections, upgrading controllers, and providing connectivity to the regional Traffic Management CenterCumberland CountyEast Pennsboro Township – $160,000 for LED installation and controller replacement at 18 intersectionsSilver Spring Township – $219,436 for replacement of the traffic signal at Carlisle Pike and Commerce DriveDauphin CountySwatara Township – $210,406 for modernization of the traffic signal at SR 441 & Chambers Hill Road including additional left turn phasesLancaster CountyLancaster City – $691,760 for development of updated signal timing for the City’s 90 downtown traffic signals, including vehicle detection installation at eight key intersections for traffic signal performance measuresLititz Borough – $132,400 for upgrading outdated controllers at nine traffic signals and improving phasing and timing at the PA 501/PA 772 intersectionsWest Lampeter Township – $269,889 for upgrading vehicle detection at six intersections, signal retiming, signal head upgrades, and left turn phase evaluationLebanon County:Union Township – $187,572 for traffic signal retiming, vehicle detection upgrades, and controller replacement to provide monitoring and communications technology at three intersections along Fisher AvenueMercer CountyHempfield Township – $44,292 for upgrading pedestrian signals and developing optimized traffic signal timingsMontgomery CountyCheltenham Township – $537,138 for modernization of the traffic signals at the Washington Lane/Shoppers Lane and Greenwood Avenue/Longfellow Road/Rices Mill Road intersectionsLower Providence Township – $342,025 for use of automated traffic signal performance measures with fiber optic communication, controller upgrades, and detection upgrades at three intersections along Egypt RoadMontgomery Township – $400,206 for modernization of four traffic signals at Bethlehem Pike/Montgomery Mall entrances, Bethlehem Pike/North Wales Road, and Horsham Road/Pheasant Run.Upper Moreland Township – $160,000 for upgrading traffic signals at Davisville Road and Easton Road to improve safety at the at-grade SEPTA rail crossingSusquehanna CountyChoconut Township – $7,193.20 to upgrade vehicle detection at the intersection of SR 267 and Stanley LakeUnion CountyKelly Township – $263,094 for traffic signal retiming, controller upgrades, and communication at seven intersections along US Route 15York CountyFairview Township – $30,990 to upgrade three traffic signal controllersManchester Township – $269,889 for upgrading vehicle detection at three intersections, controller replacements, and signal head upgradesA list of recipients, project descriptions, and the amount of state investment is also available at www.penndot.gov on the “Traffic Signals, Management” page under “Travel In PA”.Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation.last_img read more

PFA boosts private equity investment as risk-return profile improves

first_imgPFA , Denmark’s largest pensions institution after ATP, has stepped up its investment in private equity in the first quarter, saying returns relative to risk are better in the sector than in the listed market.Reporting returns for the first three months of this year, the labour-market pensions provider said investment returns fell to 2.8% before pensions tax (PAL) for unit link products, down from 3.7% in the same period the year before.For with-profits pensions, however, investments produced a 4.0% return, up from 0.5% in the corresponding period in 2013.Jesper Langmack, director and head of equities at PFA Asset Management, told IPE: “We increased our private equity because we see better risk-reward compared to the listed market.” This year, PFA sold direct equity investments in health and roadside-assistance company Falck and commercial bank FIH at very good returns, he said. PFA invested in FIH in cooperation with ATP, and the two have also co-invested in DONG Energy. The DONG Energy deal, which also attracted funding from vehicles run by Goldman Sachs, was controversial at the time and led to a split in the coalition government. Langmack  was positive about the provider’s involvement in such deals alongside ATP. “As the leading investor together with ATP on the Danish market we get access to the best deal flow and normally exclusivity in the process, so we can de-risk the transaction in the process to minimise the tail risk.”“Furthermore, our clients are moving from defined benefit to mark-to-market products, so the capital consumption is much lower, allowing PFA to buy more risky assets than before,” he said.The investment deals with DONG, FIH and Welltec gave PFA a global footprint in the market, Langmack said, adding that this provided the institution with further access to good deals.At the same time as expanding its private equity investment, PFA has increased its holdings in Danish equities, Langmack said.“We are now the largest Danish shareholder on most Danish large caps,” he said.As examples of this, he said the pensions provider now had DKK4bn (€536m) in Novo and DKK2.5bn in Mærsk.“As well as this, we have increased our investments in high-dividend European equities to more than €1bn as part of our new strategy, producing high and stable returns of 6%,” Langmack said.This year Danish equities had outperformed global markets by 17%, he said.PFA also reported that contributions fell to DKK6.35bn in the first quarter from DKK6.67bn in the same period the year before.The reason contributions were down year-on-year was in part due to the regulator’s announcement in the Autumn of 2013 that there would be new rules on the transfer of pensions from with-profits products to unit link pensions, it said.This had kept the market for transfers on hold, it added.The draft law on how transfer sums should be assigned came into force on May 15, 2014, PFA said, adding that the company has since re-opened the option for customers to switch savings internally from with-profits products to its unit link pension product PFA Plus.Ongoing contributions, however, rose by nearly DKK200m in the first quarter compared to the first quarter 2013 to DKK4.48bn, PFA said this growth reflected the many new companies and organisations that had decided to switch to PFA as pension provider in 2013 and 2012.Total assets slipped to DKK408.1bn at the end of March 2014 from DKK417.5bn at the end of December.The solvency ratio increased to 254% at the end of the quarter from 240% at the end of 2013.last_img read more

ECB move provides ‘toxic cocktail’ for pension scheme funding

first_imgThe impact on pension scheme funding as a result of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) quantitative easing (QE) needs to be managed and considered, consultants say.Yesterday, Mario Draghi, ECB president, announced a €1.1trn programme to purchase euro-zone sovereign bonds in a bid to boost economic growth and stave off inflation.However, as additional capital flows into sovereign bond markets across the currency union, historically low yields will be squeezed even further – affecting the discount rate used in pension fund liability accounting.Research by Mercer in Ireland found deficits in defined benefit (DB) schemes for companies on the Irish Stock Exchange, and semi-state companies, increased by €10bn over 2014 as yields across Europe and the UK fell over the year. “Yesterday’s announcement will further increase liabilities and, in many cases, deficits,” the consultancy said.“The impact of QE, including falls in bond yields and the weakening of the euro, will cause further challenges for plan sponsors and trustees alike. Funding proposals, already facing pressure, may go off-track and need to be re-cast.”Aon Hewitt global head of asset allocation, Tapan Datta, said the cocktail of ECB capital moving into bond markets – lowering yields and forcing funds to look elsewhere – was almost toxic.“It could be worse if equity markets were weakened, but this has not happened,” he said. “It would have completed the damage that has been done to funding levels.”With funding levels, particularly in UK pension funds, now lower than they were five years previous, Datta said it gave credit to arguments for trustees to take liability risk management more seriously.However, he said, on the other side, many of the developments have been unexpected, and nobody predicted oil prices would fall 60% and 10-year UK Gilts to still yield less than 1.5%.“This is a rare market eventuality, which has caught a lot of people on the hop,” he added.Mercer UK partner Alan Baker said there was no real impact currently, but that this was because QE had already been priced in by markets.For UK pension funds, however, the outlook for funding was less rosy.“There will now be a downward pressure on UK Gilts with a shift from investors in euro-zone bonds,” he said.He said they would also be supported by a growing UK economy, which would also be boosted by economic growth for its euro-zone partners.“It is not entirely clear which one is going to win,” he said.“For European pension funds, the QE will not help them right now, as rates will be pushed down and stay down.“But in the long-run it demonstrates the bank will to do something and stimulate the European economy, which will be a good for them.“It is to some extent positive, but it is painful time now.”In the Netherlands, Mercer and Aon Hewitt both warned of significant negative funding effects for pension funds as a result of the expansionary monetary policy.last_img read more