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Notes from a small island

first_imgBased in Canvey Island, Essex, BB Grout is a bakery business of particular interest to me because it is very similar to my own in terms of turnover and number of shops. Noel and Sheila Grout, who own the company, are good friends of mine so I thought it was about time to venture ‘abroad’ and visit them. And I soon discovered you don’t even need a passport to get across the water!The company was founded in 1946 in a beach kiosk then expanded into a café and takeaway in a holiday camp and a works canteen. Noel joined the business in 1953 as a young boy, then in 1956 did his national service in the RAF, where he succeeded in burning down the cookhouse while serving in Germany! The RAF was obviously pleased to let him return to the family business where he has been ever since.Back in 1947 the café featured a small outhouse where doughnuts were fried 12 at a time. In today’s climate the ‘health police’ would not even allow ingredients to be stored there, but this was the company’s first steps to becoming a bakery. From small acorns large oak trees grow.Later the company moved to larger premises, which had room for a proper bakery at the rear and a shop in the front. On the first day it made six loaves and gave four away. The first day’s takings were £2. Things could only get better and they certainly did. The bakery has grown into a thriving, first-class business that many would envy.Family focusGrout’s the Bakers comprises 10 shops and a small property portfolio. It is a family business – sons Giles and Neale run the bakery’s production, daughter Claire handles the accounts and wife Sheila runs the office. I am not sure what Noel does, although he does have a collection of superb cars, one of which always includes a Rolls Royce. I suppose it must take a lot of time driving them around.That is a little unkind because he is an excellent businessman and the driving force in the company. Like most successful family companies, it is a joint effort by husband and wife.The philosophy of the company is very simple – make good quality products and keep the distribution area tight (it is about seven miles), which makes control easier and the company more flexible.Noel is a great believer in quality bread, which is made from scratch. It has a traditional taste and is pleasing to the eye. The bakery is well equipped with modern machinery. Two new ovens have been installed within the past two years. There is also a one-man doughnut frying system, confectionery depositor, bread plant and flow-wrapper, in addition to all the usual bakery equipment. These I mention to give you an idea of how the bakery is being improved and the forward thinking of this well-run company.The shops are all in good locations. Not knowing the area well, I would say they are in prime to ‘secondary-prime’ positions. Once again there is a continual upgrading – shop fittings are modern and give an air of hygiene and well being.I noticed that while the display units were well stocked with a good selection of products, the range appeared under control. So often I see bakery shops with far too large a variety of confectionery. Every shop has a bake-off oven and selection of hot savoury goods, plus sandwiches and filled rolls. Takeaway trade is a major part of total turnover. There is also a growing trade in buffets, which Noel intends to expand.Looking at the company as a whole, the question I always ask myself is what have I learnt and could others learn? The answer here is quite easy – keep it simple, do it well, keep tight financial control of costs and expand steadily without biting off more than you can chew.Business blueprintShould anyone be looking for a blueprint to grow a profitable family business one would have a long way to go to beat this Canvey Island small empire. The mixture of freehold and leasehold properties, tight control, family involvement, combined with an open-minded attitude to learning from others, is a lesson to us all. The company is forward looking and wants to expand steadilyWhile developing this family business Sheila has found time to bring up three children. With Noel’s enormous number of outside interests, in addition to his business, how on Earth they found time to make babies is amazing! When I tell you just a few of Noel’s activities you will appreciate the energy of the man. He spent some 30 years as a magistrate, has been a director of a greyhound stadium, chairman of school governors, an active Rotarian and Freemason, church warden and member of the Worshipful Company of Bakers. He is now chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers. While I confess I have probably missed out as many activities as I have mentioned, I guess that has given you some idea of the man and the company.Noel is at this time battling with lung cancer, but we all have total faith in him when he assures us he will beat it. To be honest, his lifestyle has not changed – he does just as much as ever. I tell him nearly every day to do less and he takes absolutely no notice.Giles appears to be taking on just as much as his father. He is LASER president this year and an active rugby player. He is also very involved with the family business.With good luck, the family will work hard and allow Noel and Sheila to spend more time in their second home in Lanzarote, Spain, as well as to visit us more in Cirencester.last_img read more

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Tate & Lyle opens €4m innovation centre

first_imgIngredients giant Tate & Lyle (T&L) has opened an innovation centre in Lille, France.The €4m centre, opened on 19 September, will focus on developing health and nutrition products, with laboratories and testing faciities open to T&L’s customers.Bakery and food manufacturers are among those who will be able to use T&L’s pilot laboratory, allowing them to test out systems, products and processes on a small scale before upscaling to a plant operation.T&L’s research and development team will develop new ingredients in the field of “wellness and nutrition”, as well as exploring novel applications for its current range of functional food ingredients.Vice-president of sales and marketing EMEA, James Blunt, said the centre “will not only provide a huge boost to the development of our own value-added ingredient product range, but will also be extremely valuable to our customers as they refine and perfect their own products.”Our research shows that consumers in Europe are becoming more conscious of having a healthy, balanced diet. We are confident that this facility will be one of the principle hubs in the industry for the development of health and wellness ingredients across a range of applications.”On the same day, T&L revealed it will also open a new Polydextrose production line at its Koog plant in the Netherlands. The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe, with the capacity to manufacture a range of different soluble fibres, with applications in a range of food and drinks.T&L’s range includes texturants, sweeteners and dietary fibre brands.last_img read more

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In my world

first_imgI have long since lost count of how many articles I’ve read, or presentations attended, over the past 24 months concerning skills levels within the baking industry. The message has always been fairly clear and consistent: the number of people who have core and practical baking knowledge are becoming few and far between and, overall, there is a serious lack of the basic craft skills that underpin all bakery production. Until this is universally addressed, the industry will be heading for Armageddon.Despite listening and agreeing and, some would say, being told until you are blue in the face sometimes it needs a similar effect to a bolt of lightning to cause you to wake up to reality.So what has changed? What has caught my attention, causing me to raise my head above the parapet?I believed that finding someone to manage a small craft bakery in Melton Mowbray wouldn’t present a problem. There would be lots of people, so I thought, with hands-on ability and great craft skills perhaps people with the skill levels of what used to be known as ’journeyman bakers’. How naïve am I?It was Ian Wheal, Ken Christopher, Fred Kidman et al from the National Bakery School who introduced me to the science and wonderment of baking. Their passionate enthusiasm for passing on their knowledge and skills was legendary especially to those at the receiving end! They certainly instilled into me an almost insatiable desire to learn more and sent me on a career path.It was in Germany that I discovered that Meister Bakers and Konditors were held with the same respect and social esteem as bank managers. Hmm, that was 30 years ago in Germany how does this sit in the Britain of today?Realistically, we are all now working for probably 50 hours for the return once obtained from 40. Challenging and saving costs has become mandatory. Production schedules and staffing levels are as lean as they’ve ever been. It’s so easy to become embroiled in the detail of today and tomorrow. As important as this may well be, let’s not lose sight of the fact that quality products are made by quality people and those people need the appropriate skills and knowledge.So what’s my conclusion? Although we do train our people, the industry as a whole obviously needs to do more. It needs to adopt a way of ensuring craft skills are intrinsically shared and retained, so as to protect the future well-being of the trade. And I keep looking for that golden nugget a bakery manager with the passion and skills to match our heritage.last_img read more

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News story: Have your say on the future of Companies House

first_imgRespond to the corporate transparency and register reform consultation. The government published its consultation on corporate transparency and register reform on 5 May 2019.The register plays a vital role in contributing to the UK’s economy, and these reforms will allow us to do even more.What the consultation is aboutThis package of reforms is a big milestone for Companies House and will be the most significant change since the register was created in 1844.The government’s vision, set out in the Industrial Strategy, is for the UK to be the best place to start and grow a business. The proposed reforms will help us to achieve this vision and to do more to provide a transparent and attractive business environment in the UK.The changes will give us the powers we need to combat economic crime and improve protection for people running businesses, while minimising additional administrative burdens.To support and implement the proposals in this consultation, we’ll be transforming the way we work at Companies House and making sure we’re fit for the future.Watch our video – Have your say about the future of Companies HouseThe proposalsThe consultation has 4 main themes. 1. Knowing who’s setting up, managing and controlling companiesWe’re proposing that directors, people with significant control (PSCs) and those filing information should have their identity verified. We’re also considering whether more information should be disclosed about shareholders.2. Improving the accuracy and usability of dataThe proposals will result in better quality information on the register. Proposals include extending the powers of Companies House to query information before it’s entered on the register and making it easier to remove inaccurate information. 3. Protecting personal informationThe proposals will allow us to change the way we store and control access to personal information. Access to the register will be carefully managed, allowing only identified or authorised people to file information. Sensitive information will also be better protected.4. Improving the detection of possible criminal behaviourWe’ll be able to improve the cross checking of our data against data held by other organisations. We want to see the exchange of intelligence made easier so we can quickly identify possible criminal behaviour. You have until 5 August 2019 to respond to the consultation and tell us what you think. We look forward to hearing your views.last_img read more

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Dean Ween Recruited 30 Of His Favorite Musicians For A New Solo Album

first_imgAfter a weekend spent jamming with Les Claypool and Sean Lennon, beloved Ween guitarist Mickey Melchiondo Jr., aka Dean Ween, has made an exciting announcement. Deaner will release a new album on October 11th called The Deaner Album, according to a post he made in the WEEN Appreciation Group.Watch Dean Ween Join Claypool Lennon For The Best ‘Southbound Pachyderm’ EverThe Deaner Album is a 15 track, 57-minute album, which features “everyone in the entire world that i ever wanted on my album… like 30 people.” Little else about the album including its artwork and contents, has been revealed.Check out Dean Ween’s statement about his new solo release, below.i have a new album coming out on ATO Records on October 11th called “the deaner album.” no artist, no title. it is 15 songs and 57 minutes and it is awesome. i don’t wanna share any of it for once—not even the artwork, which is super-dope.everyone in the entire world that i ever wanted on my album plays on it. like 30 people.last_img read more

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Members Of The Allman Brothers, String Cheese, & More Form “The Allman Brothers Family Incident” At Peach 2016

first_imgAt the 2016 Peach Music Festival, the String Cheese Incident were scheduled to play an “Incident” with Gregg Allman, when the Allman Brothers man fell ill and had to cancel all of his upcoming tour dates. Instead, members of Allman’s solo band, members of Les Brers, and members of the Allman Brothers Band were all on-site to save the day, and they joined SCI for a set dubbed the “Allman Brothers Family Incident”.The show was wildly successful, as the band and their guests, led by musical director Scott Sharrard, and featuring two original members of the band – Butch Trucks and Jaimoe – along with Oteil Burbridge and Marc Quiñones, ran through versions of Allman Brothers classics like “Midnight Rider,” “Melissa,” “Ain’t Wasting Time No More,” and “Jessica,” while including fun covers of “Statesboro Blues” and “Mighty Quinn The Eskimo,” and a rocking version of SCI’s “Outside and Inside.”Now, thanks to Jam Buzz, we can re-live the glorious set in full. See below for full setlist details, and listen to the set for more than an hour of classic Allman Brothers material!You can also purchase the soundboard version of the set, at higher quality, via!The Allman Brothers’ Family Incident @ Peach Music Festival 8/12/16:Statesboro Blues w/ JaimoeMidnight Rider w/ Jaimoe, Marc QuiñonesTrouble No More w/ Jaimoe, Lamar Williams Jr., Bruce KatzSweet Melissa w/ Bruce KatzOutside And Inside w/ Marc QuiñonesAin’t Wastin’ Time No More w/ Butch Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Jack Pearson, Bruce KatzQuinn The Eskimo w/ Butch Trucks, Jack Pearson, Bruce KatzJessica w/ Butch Trucks, Oteil Burbridge, Jack Pearson, Bruce Katzlast_img read more

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Why your online data isn’t safe

first_img Related Massive mining of users’ data on Facebook eats away at public’s online trust, analyst says On the web, privacy in peril On internet privacy, be very afraid GASSER: I would agree that it’s too simple to just blame the tech companies for the status quo. I think we need to look at the privacy crisis as an ecosystem-level problem, with many forces at play — technological, market, behavioral, and legal — and many actors involved, including users who often make privacy decisions based on incomplete information and with cognitive biases at play. That is why I argue in my own work in favor of a more holistic approach to the future of privacy, which combines strong legal protections with digital literacy and educational efforts, next-gen privacy-enhancing technologies, and economic incentives for more privacy-friendly services, among other elements in the strategy, as opposed to putting my bets on GDPR-like laws alone. Such an approach would also include smarter user education and empowerment.GAZETTE: People can’t opt out of using Google, and won’t decide not to have a cellphone, so what can people do to protect themselves?GASSER: There are a number of online privacy check-ups available and a series of privacy self-help tools, including privacy browsers or VPNs [virtual private networks], to name just two. Some of them are provided by tech companies themselves, and some are offered by consumer organizations such as EPIC or EFF. I would very much recommend that people make use of these offerings, even if they are only tactical in the sense that they understandably can’t address the structural root cause of the problem.This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. ‘Surveillance is the business model of the internet,’ Berkman and Belfer fellow says Until recently, the presumptive targets for massive data theft were considered to be companies that lacked sophisticated cybersecurity or didn’t take the issue seriously enough.But since late 2016, some of the biggest names in cutting-edge tech have seen their most sensitive customer data — including the content of emails, credit card numbers, and cellphone numbers — fall into the hands of hackers, or in some cases shared such data with third parties without the consumers’ knowledge or consent.The list is getting long fast. Thieves downloaded information on 25 million U.S. Uber riders. The credit reporting agency Equifax had 143 million customer files stolen by hackers. Cambridge Analytica harvested data from at least 87 million Facebook users to target with political ads. This summer, Google admitted to Congress that app developers and others have access to users’ Gmail. Data scientists found major security flaws in AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint phones that left customers exposed. And just last week, Facebook revealed its largest breach, with 50 million users affected. It said phone numbers supplied to Facebook by users for two-factor authentication security had been shared with advertisers.With so many violations — and so few repercussions — senior executives from Google, Apple, Amazon, and Twitter, among other firms, were summoned before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last week to explain why data privacy breaches continue, and to discuss some remedies. Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), the committee chairman, said it’s no longer a question of whether there needs to be a federal law to protect consumer data privacy but “what shape the law should take.” Another hearing is planned later this month.Urs Gasser, LL.M. ’03, is executive director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a professor of practice at Harvard Law School. His research and teaching focus on information law and policy, and he writes frequently about privacy, data protection, and the regulation of digital technology. Gasser discussed the state of data privacy with the Gazette via email and suggested what might be done to protect users from companies that profit from people’s data.Q&AUrs GasserGAZETTE: As someone who has been studying data privacy for a long time, are you surprised by this string of failures?GASSER: What is perhaps most surprising is the frequency with which such privacy-relevant incidents now become public, as well as their prevalence and scale. In terms of the underlying causes and effectiveness of responses, it’s important to analyze each incident separately. A data breach caused by external hackers is not the same problem and doesn’t require the same countermeasures as privacy threats resulting from data-sharing agreements between an online platform and advertisers that are at the core of the business model. That being said, the effects in terms of user privacy might be quite similar. It is also noteworthy that the GDPR [European Union General Data Protection Regulation] addresses a broad range of data-privacy violations, and it will be interesting to see whether the Facebook breach in particular will trigger GDPR enforcement action.GAZETTE: Many of the biggest technology companies continue either to allow or to fail to prevent their customers’ data from falling into the hands of advertisers, app developers, and other third parties. Despite frequent promises of better privacy protections, little has changed. Why aren’t these companies taking this more seriously?GASSER: To be fair, companies have made important efforts to better protect user data through a broad range of measures, including privacy dashboards, enhanced privacy and security features, such as end-to-end encryption, upgrades to their privacy policies, and more. But there is indeed a deeper structural problem at the core of the privacy battles of our time that makes current efforts feel insufficient. Most of today’s tech business models are based on targeted advertisement, which relies on collecting, sharing, and analyzing vast amounts of user data. Simply put, to really prioritize user privacy would also mean to compromise an underlying business model that has been very successful in economic terms and produced some of the wealthiest companies in the world.GAZETTE: Lawmakers have called on tech companies to better secure their user information and have hinted that they may begin strictly regulating how data is handled if the companies don’t shore up data security. Will Congress do anything soon to hold these companies accountable, and, if not, what would it take for the federal government to take real action?GASSER: In the current political climate, I’m doubtful that anything dramatic — say, like GDPR — will happen at the federal level anytime soon. But we see a lot of consumer privacy activity at the state level. Consider the recent enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is likely to be very influential given its scope of application, or Vermont’s data-broker legislation. Combined with the enhanced consumer protection agenda by many State A.G.s, that’s where the action is until Congress comes up with something meaningful. And, of course, there’s also the increased pressure coming from the European legislative and data-protection authorities, based on the new protections and instruments set forth by the GDPR. Some argue that there is a “market for privacy” emerging that will provide incentives, particularly to privacy startups, to be more privacy-friendly.GAZETTE: Is it time to declare the voluntary-privacy-policy era a failure and start treating these businesses like public utilities?GASSER: I agree that the self-regulatory model has failed to provide adequate levels of consumer privacy protection in today’s tech environment. Where to go from here is more difficult to say, though. Many privacy advocates point to the GDPR as a new gold standard. I’m more skeptical, as such an approach is deeply rooted in European values, culture, and political economy and cannot be transplanted in a “cut and paste” way. It also comes with some serious drawbacks, in terms of compliance costs, for instance. I think it’s time to rethink data privacy more fundamentally. You can find some of my thoughts here. To introduce fiduciary duties for tech companies is another interesting new way to think about some of the structural problems mentioned before.GAZETTE: Who’s to blame for where we are now? Are users partly at fault for not making more of a fuss about privacy violations? Do most people understand how much of their information is in the hands of others, and how it’s being used?last_img read more

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AGL at the Capital

first_imgMidway through Georgia’s legislative session there’s a buzz around the Georgia State Capitol in downtown Atlanta. Crowds of lawmakers, engaged citizens and lobbyists come in from across the state to help conduct the state’s business each day, and this week they were joined by 25 up-and-coming leaders in the agriculture and forestry industries. The current class of the University of Georgia’s Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry spent Thursday and Friday meeting with Georgia lawmakers and leaders in Atlanta. The trip, divvied between meetings with media representatives, legislators, agricultural advocates and state leaders like Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Gov. Nathan Deal, was designed to introduce them to the inner workings of state government. “We want participants to understand on a practical level the process of how things are done at the capitol, how policy is made and the role that they have to play in that process,” said Lauren Griffeth, director of the AGL program and a leadership specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Warnell School of Forest Resources. “This visit really debunks a lot of the myths about what happens here. You can have a negative opinion about lawmaking and policy making, but after engaging with law makers and seeing the process in action, you know that there are a lot of people here who are just trying to do the best thing for Georgia.” Organized by the CAES and the Warnell School, the purpose of AGL is to educate and empower Georgia’s agricultural leaders to become effective advocates for the largest economic drivers in Georgia — the state’s agricultural and forestry industries. Participants include foresters, farmers and nursery managers, as well as businessmen and businesswomen, representatives from agricultural advocacy groups and government agencies. With such diverse backgrounds, some participants are familiar with the process of talking to their elected officials. But, for others, this was their first trip to the capital and their first time watching a legislative session in process. “We were able to see the movers and shakers who make a difference as far as policy goes and who are responsible for ensuring that agriculture and conservation are successful and sustainable as we move into the future,” said AGL participant Ameila Dortch, a state public affairs specialist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Before their graduation in 2017, AGL’s current class will visit the Port of Savannah, row crop farms, UGA research plots, agritourism destinations and manufacturing hubs — all in an effort to gain a larger understanding of how the agriculture and natural resource industry impacts every sector of Georgia’s economy. The experiences are meant to build their knowledge and confidence, so they can be better leaders in their businesses, farms or agencies, and so they can more effectively advocate for the industry as a whole. That’s exactly what the group gained by visiting the capital, Dortch said. In 1993, community and state leaders across Georgia participated in the first leadership development program, formerly known as “Agri-Leaders.” Since then, 350 business leaders, farmers, foresters, educators and other stakeholders have completed the program to become more effective leaders and advocates. Graduates of AGL say they have experienced transformational leadership development that has positively impacted their professional capital and the agriculture and forestry industries. For more information about Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry, visit read more

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State revenue projections rise again

first_imgSecretary of Administration Michael K. Smith Announces August 2004Revenue Results For The State Of VermontGeneral FundSecretary of Administration Michael K. Smith released September 7 General Fund revenue results forthe month of August, the second month of fiscal year 2005. General Fund revenues totaled$68.18 million for August 2004, $4.86 million or 7.7 % more than the $63.32 million consensusrevenue target for the month. August results were also $9.59 million (or 16.4%) more thanGeneral Fund revenues in August 2003. Year to date, General Fund revenues totaled $148.65million.Secretary Smith noted, We are encouraged that after two months, General Fundrevenues are $9.03 million or 6.5% ahead of expectations.The monthly targets reflect the updated fiscal year 2005 Consensus Revenue Forecast that wasagreed to by the Emergency Board on July 15, 2004. The States Consensus Revenue Forecast isupdated two times per year in January and July.Monthly Personal Income Tax receipts, which are reported Net-of-Personal Income Tax refunds,exceeded target by $1.69 million (or 6.5 %) in August. Personal Income Tax Receipts, by far thelargest single state revenue source, were also up 13.9% from August 2003.All personal incometax revenue categories had positive results except refunds, which were higher than expected.Secretary Smith noted results for the other major General Fund revenue categories were alsoencouraging.Receipts in the Sales and Use Tax were substantially ahead of expectations inAugust (+$1.89 million or 12.5 %), reflecting actual purchases in July. Rooms and Meals taxeswere essentially on target. The Corporate Income Tax also surpassed (+$0.28 million or 30.6%)forecast.Among the other General Fund revenue categories, Insurance and Liquor Taxes surpassed thelatest targets. Estate and Property Transfer Taxes fell short of the forecast for August, althoughboth are ahead of expectations for the first two months of the fiscal year.Secretary Smith concluded the discussion of General Fund results by noting that, We areencouraged to continue the broad-based revenue success which started the fiscal year.General Fund By Major Element (In Millions)Tax Component FY04 YTD FY05 YTD % Change Aug-03 Aug-04 % ChangePersonal Income $63.26 $68.71 8.6% $24.23 $27.60 13.9%Sales & Use $37.43 $36.01 -3.8% $17.09 $16.98 -0.6%Corporate $1.27 $2.65 108.3% $0.63 $1.19 89.2%Meals & Room $14.51 $19.05 31.3% $7.76 $9.99 28.7%Insurance Premium $5.04 $6.07 20.5% $4.76 $5.78 21.4%Inheritance & Estate $1.96 $3.90 99.2% $0.70 $0.32 -54.6%Real Property Transfer $1.78 $2.17 21.9% $0.61 $0.98 60.2%Other $6.53 $10.08 54.5%* $2.81 $5.34 90.1%Total $131.78 $148.65 12.8% $58.59 $68.18 16.4%*Please note that comparisons from prior year are difficult, given the change in tax componentdistribution from FY04 to FY05.Transportation FundSecretary Smith also announced revenue results for the Transportation Fund. TransportationFund receipts for the month were $18.98 million, which surpassed the revenue target by $0.25million or 1.35 %. Total Transportation Fund revenues surpassed August 2003 receipts by $1.01million or 5.6 %. Revenues surpassed projections in Gasoline, Motor Vehicle Fees, and theOther Fees category. Diesel Taxes substantially lagged expectations, while Motor VehiclePurchase and Use Tax revenues were slightly below projections for the month.Transportation Fund By Major Element (In Millions)FY2004 FY2005 % Change August-03 August-04 % ChangeTax Component Y-T-D Y-T-DGasoline $8.79 $11.44 30.1% $4.24 $6.21 46.3%Diesel Fuel $1.85 $1.98 7.0% $1.08 $1.11 3.4%MV Purchase & Use $11.18 $9.34 -16.5% $6.72 $5.25 -21.9%Motor Vehicle Fees $8.22 $9.47 15.2% $4.65 $4.73 1.7%Other $2.50 $3.20 27.9%* $1.27 $1.67 31.5%Total $32.54 $35.42 8.8% $17.97 $18.98 5.6%*Please note that comparisons from prior year are difficult, given the change in tax componentdistribution from FY04 to FY05.Education FundIn announcing the Education Fund results for August, Secretary Smith reported that collectionstotaled $12.84 million in August, up substantially from last year. Due to Act 68 EducationFinance Reform Legislation passed in 2003, the Education Fund now receives two percentagepoints (1/3 of the 6% tax) from the Vermont Sales Tax, and the motor vehicle purchase and usetax.Although Sales and Use taxes were ahead of projections, the motor vehicle purchase anduse tax performed below projections for August, said Secretary Smith.ConclusionThe State of Vermont continued fiscal 2005 ahead of forecast for the General Fund,Transportation Fund and Education Fund, concluded Secretary Smith.last_img read more

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The World’s Toughest Bike Race…On a Singlespeed

first_imgGreenville, South Carolina resident, Ron Babington, just might be the friendliest of the one hundred or so participants to ride the Tour Divide race this June, but it’s going to take more than a smile and a generous demeanor to accomplish his goal, or even finish, the grueling 2,745 mile self-supported mountain bike race.That’s right . . . over 2,500 miles with no support crew to bring water, food, or aid over the world’s longest non-paved bike route along the western Continental Divide.  Come race start on June 14, Ron will subject himself to over 200,000 feet elevation gain from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico on the Mexican border.  That’s like summiting Mount Everest from sea level seven times.  The website caveat to any who would take the challenge reads, “ . . . it’s the hardest form of bike racing, period.”It gets better.  Most cyclists choose a geared bike to accomplish such a feat, but every year there are a few (like maybe ten) hardy souls who seek to tackle the already grueling race sans derailleur.  Ron is one of them.  “Besides finishing the race, my ultimate goal is to win the single speed division and beat the single speed course record,” says Ron.  Eighteen days would be a record ride.  “I fully realize how improbable that sounds and the perfect ride it would require.  Although I’m not a powerhouse, my strength is more mental than physical.  My hope is to push through when others may choose not to.  My biggest fear is leaving something out there.  I’d rather race it and scratch than just tour it and finish.”There is proof in the peddling when you view Ron’s previous accomplishments in adventure racing and particularly his solo hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in four months, battling through giardia and trench foot, and in the second wettest year on record for AT hikers.  His mental metal will come in handy in order to execute his goal as he will need to log an average of 160 miles per day of rigorous mountain pass plodding.What will Ron get for his efforts?  Surely the racers win some sort of cash prize, trophy, medallion, years worth of protein powder, or coveted technical tee?  Nope.  Nothing.  Nada.  The satisfaction of having achieved the race is itself the reward.For the gearheads out there, here is some of what will keep Ron moving day in and day out:Niner Air9 carbon bike, full rigid, singlespeed (32/17)Revelate Designs bags, ultralight bivy + cuben tarp combo for sleeping.Dynamo front hub that generates electricity to power his headlight.Navigation: GPS track of the official route.To follow Ron on is ride in real time, just follow the blue dots on on, Ron!  We are behind you . . . albeit a long way.last_img read more

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