Barre, Vermont, February 2007.The Harley-Davidson Motor Company recently released the 2006 Harley-Davidson Owner Satisfaction Survey Ratings for the United States and ranked Vermont business, Wilkins Harley-Davidson number 3 out of 669 dealers nationwide. Wilkins Harley-Davidson sells, customizes and rents motorcycles while employing a staff of 15. Wilkins Harley-Davidson and is located in South Barre, Vermont off of Route 14. The business is celebrating its 60th year in business and was founded by the late Harry J. Wilkins. Harry J. Wilkins’ wife Barbara, their daughter Ann Lyon and their grandson John Lyon run the business.For more information, contact John W. Lyon at (802) 476-6104 or visit www.wilkinsharley.com(link is external) for information about the family.
Source: Verizon Wireless. LONDONDERRY, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–4.9.2010 To continue to stay ahead of rising demand for 3G wireless applications and Internet access in Windham County, Vermont, Verizon Wireless has enhanced its local network. Since 2000, the company has invested $2.6 billion into its New England network, including $192 million in 2009, and recently earned recognition from J.D. Power and Associates for “Highest Call Quality Performance among Wireless Cell Phone Users in the Northeast”.Recent upgrades to existing 3G cell sites provide increased 3G data capacity at:Magic Mountain Ski Area in LondonderryMount Snow Ski Resort in West DoverStratton Mountain Ski Resort in Stratton
Rock of Ages Corporation (NASDAQ:ROAC) has announced the completion of its previously announced pending merger with a wholly owned subsidiary of Swenson Granite Company LLC, of Concord, NH, whereby Swenson acquired all of the outstanding shares of common stock of the Company that it did not previously own for $5.25 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at $25.2 million. The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Swenson. The Swenson family has controlled Rock of Ages for many years and Kurt Swenson has been Rock of Ages’ CEO and chairman. As a result of the merger, the Company’s Class A common stock ceased trading on the NASDAQ Global Market at the close of business on January 19, 2011, and the company expects to deregister and suspend its reporting obligations under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.American Stock Transfer & Trust Company has been appointed to serve as the agent for payment of the merger consideration to Company stockholders, and will promptly mail to stockholders instructions on how to surrender their stock certificates and receive payment for their shares. If a shareholder’s shares of Company stock are held by a broker, nominee, custodian or other fiduciary and is not promptly provided by them with instructions on how to receive payment for the shares, the shareholder should contact them directly for such instructions.Kurt Swenson, Chairman of the Board of the Company, said, ‘We thank our shareholders for their support over the years, and for their approval of the merger proposal, especially the unaffiliated shareholders who own no interest in Swenson, who, by the affirmative vote of approximately 86% of the shares held by those shareholders present in person or by proxy at the special meeting, supported the merger.’ BARRE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)-1.20.2011
Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘AA’ rating to the following 2011 Vermont Municipal Bond Bank bonds, issued under the 1988 General Resolution:–$9,500,000 (federally taxable qualified school construction bonds) 2011 series 1.The bonds are expected to sell via negotiation on March 9, 2011. Bond proceeds will be loaned to two local school districts for capital improvements.In addition, Fitch affirms $516,930,000 in outstanding general resolution bonds at ‘AA’.The Rating Outlook is Stable.RATING RATIONALE:–The program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 17.22% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.–The program, which consists of more than 260 borrowers, is diverse with low single-borrower concentration.–The program’s loan security is strong, with approximately 97% of all loans backed by a general obligation pledge and additional protection from borrower defaults through a state-aid intercept mechanism.KEY RATING DRIVERS:–The bond bank’s ability to balance future leveraging with program resources to maintain borrower default tolerance levels that pass Fitch’s ‘AA’ stress test scenarios is important to maintain the rating.–Credit quality of the bonds is also linked to repayment performance on the program’s loan portfolio.SECURITY:Program bonds are secured by borrower loan repayments and debt service reserve funds. A state moral obligation on the reserve fund and a state-aid intercept provision for borrowers provide additional credit enhancement.CREDIT SUMMARY:Established in 1970, The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank (VMBB) is a quasi-state agency. It is administered by a five-member board consisting of four gubernatorial appointees and the state treasurer. The bond bank issues bonds and uses the proceeds to make loans to local government borrowers throughout the state. Virtually all of Vermont’s eligible municipalities use the bond bank as their primary borrowing vehicle because it offers local government borrowers the lowest cost of capital.The loan pool consists of more than 260 borrowers from cities, towns, counties, school districts and other local governments throughout the state. Approximately 97% of all loans are backed by a general obligation pledge; the remaining are backed by utility pledges from five borrowers. About 52% of the loans are to school districts, which are further backed by an intercept mechanism that includes any state funds payable to borrowers. State aid is reportedly over 90% of school district debt service. The loan portfolio’s largest borrower, Springfield School District, comprises only 5% of the portfolio. The top 10 borrowers account for 32% of the total outstanding loan balance.Fitch analyzed the default tolerance of the VMBB loan pool using a stress test it also applies to state revolving funds and other municipal loan pools. The stress test considers loan quality, single risk concentration, reserve fund size, and debt service requirements. The program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding the federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 17.2% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification (17.09%).With the 2011 -1 issue, VMBB offers its fourth series of federally subsidized bonds, Qualified School Construction and Recovery Zone Economic Development, which provide 0% and 45% in interest rate subsidies, respectively, offsetting the pool participants’ cost of borrowing. However, as the pool continues to leverage these issues, the program’s cash flow margins become tighter under Fitch’s stressed scenarios, which assume that no scheduled federal debt service subsidies are received. Per its report ‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market – Credit Considerations’ dated April 27, 2010, Fitch assesses the ability of the issuer to pay full interest on the BABs, regardless of the subsidy. While Fitch believes there could be offsets to some annual subsidy payments, it believes that VMBB management would take action to address the reasons for the offset and avoid multiple years with no subsidy, including the use of certain optional redemption provisions for its federally subsidized bonds. Nevertheless, the bond bank’s ability to balance future leveraging with program resources to maintain borrower default tolerance levels that pass Fitch’s ‘AA’ stress test scenarios is important to maintain the rating.The program’s debt service reserve fund, which is sized at the least of maximum annual debt service, 125% average annual debt service, or 10% of bond proceeds, is funded with bond proceeds and invested in U.S. treasury and agency securities. Pledged reserves, currently total $49.9 million, or 9.7% of bonds outstanding. In addition, the bank maintains approximately $10.9 million in unrestricted general fund reserves, which are not pledged to bondholders but may be used if a deficiency occurs. The bonds are also supported by a state moral obligation to replenish the debt service reserve fund if it falls below its minimum specified level. Neither the intercept nor the moral obligation has ever been utilized, because no borrower has defaulted on a loan repayment since the bond bank began operations in 1970.Loan payments are due 15 days before the bond payment dates. Under Vermont’s state intercept provision, if a borrower fails to make its scheduled loan repayment, the bond bank will certify the failure of that payment with the state treasurer. The state treasurer would then pay the defaulted loan amount to the bank’s trustee from amounts appropriated and payable by the state to the defaulted borrower, if available. If sufficient state aid is unavailable, it will be paid from subsequent interceptable state aid payments, with bond bank reserves covering the temporary shortfall. To date, this mechanism has not been tested as there have not been any loan defaults in the history of the program.Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:–‘Revenue-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Oct. 8, 2010);–‘State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelines’ (April 28, 2008);–‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market – Credit Considerations’ (April 27, 2010).For information on Build America Bonds, visit www.fitchratings.com/BABs(link is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:Revenue-Supported Rating Criteriahttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external)State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelineshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=3…(link is external)Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerationshttp://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=5…(link is external) CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
A new report released July 18 discusses how state leaders in K-12 education are rethinking policies to allow students to advance competency-based approaches that allow any time, everywhere learning for today’s youth.‘Unfortunately, many states and school districts are still handcuffed by rigid regulations that prevent them from moving toward the student-centered, performance-based approach,’ Patrick said. ‘This report offers guidance and practical recommendations for state education policymakers.’‘We are proposing what amounts to a vital change in current methods of instruction and measurement so that students can move ahead when they demonstrate knowledge,’ said Susan Patrick, co-author of the report and president of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).Titled, Cracking the Code: Synchronizing Policy and Practice for Performance-based Learning, the report was unveiled at the Summer Institute of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in Stowe, Vermont. Co-authored by Chris Sturgis, a principal at MetisNet, the report is based on policy recommendations made by education innovators during the 2011 Competency-based Learning Summit convened by iNACOL and CCSSO earlier this year.The report recommends that states begin to transform policies from ‘rigid compliance’ to ‘enabling policies,’ by offering seat-time waivers or ‘credit flex’ policies that allow for the flexibility to offer competency-based learning in K-12 education.A ‘comprehensive policy redesign’ would require competency-based credits, personalized learning plans, information technology, professional development, and quality-control in support of individual student growth for accountability, while aligning higher education with K-12 competency-based efforts. The report also offers states a number of approaches toward tackling emerging state policy issues in order to speed the transition to a competency-based approach.Sturgis said, ‘With state leadership creating the necessary policy conditions to enable children to progress when they have mastered skills, we will finally be able to overcome the inequities of our current education system.’‘Competency-based learning is essential to a future for students in the United States to remain globally competitive, and this transformation in enabling policy must begin at the state level,’ said Patrick.The report is available at www.inacol.org(link is external).About iNACOLiNACOL is the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership association based in the Washington, DC area with more than 3,800 members.iNACOL is unique in that its members represent a diverse cross-section of K-12 education from school districts, charter schools, state education agencies, non-profit organizations, colleges, universities and research institutions, corporate entities and other content and technology providers (www.inacol.org(link is external)). iNACOL hosts the annual Virtual School Symposium (VSS). VSS 2011 is being held Nov. 9 – 11, 2011 in Indianapolis, IN (www.virtualschoolsymposium.org(link is external)). STOWE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–7.18.2011
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and administration officials today reduced Agency of Transportation damage estimates in response to Tropical Storm Irene. VTrans, which initially believed the cost of repairing all roads, culverts and bridges on the state system could exceed $600 million, now estimates the actual cost will be between $175 million and $250 million. The agency revised its estimate following two intense months of conducting repairs to more than 500 miles of state highway and some 200 state-owned bridges. The new estimate is based on Federal Highway’s Detailed Damage Inspection Report (DDIR) process and includes a contingency for unknown costs and spring repairs. ‘This is great news for Vermont taxpayers,’ said Governor Peter Shumlin. ‘Not only are we recovering from Irene faster than anyone expected, we are also conducting repairs at a cost considerably less than anyone expected.’ Administration officials explained that there are a variety of factors that account for the higher initial estimate: Standard vs. Emergency Construction: Our engineers are trained to estimate construction costs based on standard construction practices, not emergency construction practices. Normal estimates include lengthy and sometimes costly processes, such as federal and state permitting, utility relocation, environmental mitigation, design reviews, planning, scoping, municipal coordination, survey, right-of-way acquisition and legal proceedings, etc. These are part of the standard roadway process but were not a part of the emergency response during a declared state of emergency. Significantly, during Irene recovery, much of the work was done while roads were closed. This removed the timely and costly burden of trying to accommodate traffic and heavy equipment through work zones. It also eliminated the mobilization/demobilization that occurs on many ‘normal’ construction projects when you need to reopen roads at the end of each day. Vermont Strong: VTrans original estimates were based on standard construction practices, and didn’t anticipate the collaborative spirit and sense of urgency that Vermonters shared during this emergency. Irene drove people to work harder, faster, and to use innovation to get the job done more expeditiously. VTrans repaired over 500 miles of damaged road and opened 32 bridges in just 2 months; this was done in large part from the sense of urgency and teamwork that the estimators could not have foreseen. Nobody would have ever guessed we could accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, not even us. ‘We cannot emphasize enough that these are only estimates, and continue to be volatile and subject to change,’ said Deputy Secretary Sue Minter. ‘There are Irene related projects that will not be completed for years and we expect our construction costs to change through time, although we do not expect them to exceed $250 million.’ To account for new issues that the Administration anticipates may emerge over the coming months and years, a contingency reserve has been added to current estimates. This reserve will address issues that may arise in the design of permanent repairs, plus work that may need to be redone from spring high water and roadway settlement. There are numerous concerns with river stability and debris as related to sink holes and slides. While the revised construction estimate is good news for Vermont, Governor Shumlin emphasized that repairs related to Irene are still projected to exceed the amount that Vermont would normally spend during an entire highway construction season. As a result, help from Congress is still needed to ensure the heroic work conducted this fall does not have lasting financial consequences that impede the state’s ability to properly maintain its roads, culverts and bridges into the future. ‘The news today is good, but I caution that we are not out of the woods yet,’ Shumlin said. ‘The magnitude of what happened to us is still enormous, and we will need help from our federal partners to recover properly.’ Governor’soffice. 10.31.2011###