Referendum A.

first_imgWhether voters support Referendum A with their vote on Tuesday is up to them, but I want voters to make their decisions based on correct information about relative tax burdens.Referendum A would exempt heavy farm equipment from local property taxes. Farmers would no longer have to pay ad valorem taxes on their tractors, combines and most other farm equipment (pickups used on the farms would still be taxed).Some reports have claimed this tax relief for farmers would transfer the tax obligation to other property owners in rural areas. This claim may be true, but the resulting distribution of the tax burden will be more equitable than it is now.Enhances Local Tax FairnessReferendum A actually enhances local tax fairness.Normally, as an economist, I don’t favor such targeted tax cuts designed to benefit a specific group. Such policies tend to distort the efficient working of our (supposed-to-be) free market economy. However, in this case, we have clear evidence that such tax relief is warranted on equity grounds.A University of Georgia study showed that for two representative Georgia counties (Habersham and Oconee), farm and forest land owners paid considerably more in county property taxes and other fees than they received back in services. In Oconee County, farmers paid $1.06 for each dollar of county services they received. In Habersham County, they paid $1.42 for every dollar of services.Conversely, homeowners paid only 92 cents in Oconee and only 81 cents in Habersham for every dollar they received in services. These numbers don’t even include taxes paid for schools — just those for local governments.If schools are included, farmers are overpaying by even more. In fact, more than 70 such studies have been done nationwide, and in every case, farmers pay more in revenue than they receive in services.Tax Relief Wouldn’t Be BurdenStatewide, the total tax relief under Referendum A is estimated at $12.9 million per year. In only seven counties is the tax relief estimated to exceed $250,000 per year. In the two most affected counties, Mitchell and Colquitt, the tax relief is approximately 6.5 and 4.8 percent of the total property tax collections, and even less than that of the overall county budgets.Looking at this evidence, it’s reasonable to conclude that farmers aren’t getting an undeserved tax break under Referendum A. They are simply getting a tax burden that’s more in line with the services they receive from their local governments.Such an argument may be why all but three states in the Southeast already have similar legislation.I suggest that Georgia and its county governments can easily afford this tax relief for farmers. Most important, the new law would actually enhance tax fairness, not reduce it.last_img read more

05 Freezer veggies

first_imgBy April SorrowUniversity of GeorgiaFreezing is one of the easiest, most convenient and leasttime-consuming ways to preserve foods at home. The extreme coldstops growth of microorganisms and slows down changes that causespoilage and affect quality in food.A recent National Center for Home Food Preservation survey foundthat 94 percent of the people surveyed freeze some type of food.The NCHFP is hosted by the College of Family and ConsumerSciences at the University of Georgia.The NCHFP found that most people freeze foods in plastic bags.Other containers are suitable for freezing fruits and vegetables,too. These include plastic freezer containers or glass canning orfreezing jars.”Don’t use paper cartons, like milk boxes,” said NCHFP directorElizabeth Andress. “Many plastic containers that foods arepackaged in for purchase, like yogurt, dips and sour cream, don’tprovide characteristics for preserving quality in the freezer.Freezer foil and coated paper are good for odd shaped foods.”Freeze the bestUse vegetables at peak flavor and texture. Whenever you can,harvest in the morning and freeze the veggies within a few hours.Wash them thoroughly in cold water and sort them according tosize for blanching and packing.For the best frozen-food quality and shelf life, always blanchvegetables (scald them in boiling water or steam for a shorttime).”Blanching stops the action of enzymes that can cause loss offlavor, color and texture,” Andress said. “Blanching time iscrucial. And it varies with the vegetable and its size.”Underblanching stimulates the enzymes’ activity, she said. “It’sworse than not blanching at all. And overblanching can cause theloss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.”Then how long?You can get specific blanching times at the NCHFP Web site at http://homefoodpreservation.com.Here are blanching times, in minutes, for some common veggies:green beans, 3; butterbeans, 2 (small) to 4 (large);corn-on-the-cob, 7 (small) to 11 (large); whole-kernel or creamedcorn, 4; collards, 3; other greens, 2; okra, 3 (small) to 4(large); field peas, 2; and summer squash, 3.Boiling is the most widely recommended way to blanch vegetables.Use 1 gallon of water per pound of vegetables.Put the vegetables in a blanching basket and lower them intovigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the pot and startcounting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.ChillAs soon as blanching is complete, cool the vegetables quickly tostop the cooking process by plunging the basket of vegetablesimmediately into a large quantity of cold water.Cool them as long as you blanched them. Drain the vegetablescompletely after cooling.Most foods require headspace between the packed food and closureto allow for expansion as they freeze. Headspace recommendationscan be found at the Website, too.All packaged food should be at room temperature or cooler beforeyou put them in the freezer. Don’t overload your freezer with toomuch warm food at one time.Freeze fastQuick freezing is best for frozen food quality. Spread the newpackages around until they’re frozen. Then you can stack them.”Be sure to label all foods with the name of the food, date andtype of pack,” Andress said. “Most fruits and vegetables willremain high in quality for eight to 12 months. Longer storagewon’t make the food unfit but may impair its quality.”It’s a good idea to post a list of the frozen foods with freezingdates near the freezer. Check the packages off the list asthey’re removed.For more information on home-preserving fruits and vegetables orfor recipes, visit the NCHFP Web site.(April Sorrow was a writer for the National Center for HomeFood Preservation with the University of Georgia College ofFamily and Consumer Sciences.) Volume XXIXNumber 1Page 5last_img read more

Virtual classrooms

first_imgSay “Ning” or “Moodle” to most people, and the reaction is a blank stare. But the names of these online networking sites have become as familiar as sippy cups to a group of childcare providers who met last month in Crawford, Ga.The 18 women are enrolled in a new, infant-focused training program that uses Ning, Moodle and old-fashioned classroom learning to turn them into baby “whisperers.”State law requires all childcare staff to get 10 hours of educational training each year, but little of that instruction focuses on infant care. That’s why University of Georgia faculty created this pilot program, which combines distance learning with classroom sessions, says Diane Bales, a UGA Cooperative Extension child development specialist in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.Most training is designed for people who work with 3- to 5-year-olds, “although one-third of Georgia’s children in childcare are under three,” said Karen Shetterley with UGA’s Georgia Center for Continuing Education. She is working with Bales on the program.Children are considered infants until they’re a year old, or, as Jan Christian of Miss Jan’s Group Daycare Home in Watkinsville puts it, “if they’re walking and squawking and feeding themselves, they’re not [young] babies anymore.”Toddlers can do group activities, such as playing a game, reviewing letters or eating snacks. Infants need individualized schedules and playtimes appropriate for their needs and level of development.“Infants need time on the floor, toys that are large and sturdy, objects that make noise, toys to push and pull, balls and other objects to roll, things that can be stacked, filled and dumped, and board books with hard pages that they can turn themselves,” Bales said.Age-specific activities are crucial for brain development.Teaching babies how to form bonds and build relationships is part of good brain development. Almost everything adults do with infants can help build this, Bales said. Holding a baby, looking and smiling at her, talking to him, responding quickly and sensitively when he cries, talking to her while feeding or changing her diaper – these activities all build trust.“Basically everything adults do to show babies they can be trusted to take care of the babies’ needs helps build those relationships, which are the foundation for independence, school success and later relationships,” Bales said.Four groups of childcare providers are enrolled in the program for a total of 67 people. The one in northeast Georgia meets in Crawford, the southwest one meets in Moultrie, the southeast one meets in Savannah and the northwest one meets in Dallas. The course requires them to meet after work for two face-to-face sessions.Individually, each woman logs onto Moodle to complete six 30-minute training sessions. As a group, they post photos and share stories with one another on Ning, a password-protected social networking site.The Ning site and Moodle training sessions were developed by UGA graduate and undergraduate students. Shetterley called them the “driving force behind the project.”Once the program gets going, Bales hopes to turn the training sessions over to county Cooperative Extension agents who work in family and consumer sciences.For some of the childcare professionals, this is their first experience with online learning and social networking. But Bales says they’re willing.“We had a woman in Moultrie who told us she had never touched a mouse before,” she said. “It took us 10 minutes, but we got an e-mail address set up for her.”Participants don’t have to own a computer to participate, but they do need to be able to get online. Kathy Rogers, who runs a home-based childcare business in Colbert, uses her sister’s DSL. Rogers likes the Web-based training because she can network with other people.Christian likes the online classes because she can do them during her breaks and while the children are napping.Only a few weeks into the online course, childcare provider Jean Wells of Winterville already sees a change in the way she teaches – and the way her infant students react. “I can see a difference in language development,” she said. “We are working more with colors, numbers, reading and outdoor playtime than before.”last_img read more

E. coli education

first_imgWhen 16 Chatham County 4-H’ers noticed an outbreak of E. coli cases in their community, they immediately sprung into action. Their 4-H club partnered with the Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission, Savannah’s Environmental Planning Department, the Department of Community Affairs and local elected officials to organize and implement a program addressing E. coli in the county’s waterways.The youths spent two years perfecting an outreach program called “E. coli Stinks!” The project was the brainchild of Chatham County 4-H’ers whom attended the Georgia Youth Summit. The summit is a statewide program sponsored by Georgia 4-H and the Department of Community Affairs as part of the Georgia Rural Development Council’s Youth Leadership Initiative. It encourages teams of 4-H’ers to recognize an issue in their community and address it. The county teams are eligible for competitive mini-grants to fund their programs.The Chatham County 4-H’ers interviewed and surveyed 207 families with septic tanks in preparation for “E. coli Stinks!””We have problem areas that have septic tanks. People think that you can move into houses with septic tanks and not have to maintain them,” said Chatham County 4-H Agent Trish West.The 4-H’ers also developed post follow-up surveys for the families, attended three Savannah City Council meetings to raise awareness for their project and developed seven educational models that were viewed by more than 14,000 residents at local events. They created a public service announcement that currently airs on local television stations. The post survey revealed approximately 85 percent of the families were more aware of septic tank safety and the dangers of E. coli, and 75 percent pledged to do more septic tank maintenance. Based on this data and the youths’ project, the Metropolitan Planning Commission is seeking official regulations and compliances for septic tank owners.To view the “E. coli Stinks!” PSA visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzHn8cibjVk.last_img read more

Sheep to Shawl – April 13

first_imgFulton County Cooperative Extension Agent Menia Chester is hoping that the information provided by UGA’s Extension faculty will help build an ongoing relationship between the center and UGA Extension. “We’re going to continue the relationship with them,” Chester said. “They’re going to have questions about their livestock and their garden or what not, and we will be able to support them just like we would any other organization.” The Smith Family Farm is a great and much needed tool for teaching agricultural literacy, as well as history, to metro-Atlanta students, Chester said. “It will be a good resource for all of the kids in the community,” Chester said. “Unfortunately people don’t know where their food comes from — especially kids. We want to help them to learn that process, from the field to the table.” In the 1860s, farming was second nature to Georgians. The skills passed down from father to son and mother to daughter made life possible. But when the Atlanta History Center needed to learn a lifetime’s worth of historical farming skills to implement on the 1860s Smith Family Farm, they looked to the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension experts. The Atlanta History Center’s renovated Smith Family Farm will make its grand debut next week with the center’s Sheep to Shawl event. The Sheep to Shawl event is a celebration of the skills our forebears needed to make a living and build their lives on mid-19th century family farms. The event, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 13, will feature sheep sheering, spinning, weaving and other demonstrations of mid-19th century skills given by costumed interpreters. There will also be storytellers and musicians sharing entertainment from the period. The Sheep to Shawl event has been a staple of the Atlanta History Center’s calendar since 1989. The center spent the past year reinvigorating the historic Smith Family Farm to provide a more authentic backdrop to the skills demonstrations. “The Smith Family Farm experience has been one of the Atlanta History Center’s most important public offerings,” says Michael Rose, Executive Vice President of the center. “The farm provides not only an historic setting for interpretation, but also creates an important connection between our historic gardens, our folklife collections and exhibitions, and school and public programs related to foodways and domestic arts, as well as understanding the lives of the enslaved during the time period.” The Atlanta History Center’s staff reached out to the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension to help solve livestock and erosion problems that prevented the center from adding live animals and crops to their farmyard. First, Mark Risse, the Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources in the department of crop and soil sciences, and Melony Wilson, a UGA Extension specialist in the department of animal and dairy science, helped the farm ensure that their animals won’t have any negative impacts on the local waterways. First, they found the best places to locate and build barns and poultry houses and then they worked with the center’s consulting engineer to refine their storm water management plan to make sure water runoff was “routed into rain gardens and infiltration swales and was not discharged into streams at the center,” Risse said. They also advised the center’s staff on how to harvest the rainwater from the center’s buildings to use for livestock or landscape watering. After fixing water runoff issues and preparing barns and chicken houses, UGA Extension was ready to help them find animals. Census records from the 1860s showed that the Smith family kept all sorts of livestock, including sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens. The center’s staff knew their land would not support cattle and the neighborhood might not support pigs, but they definitely wanted sheep and chickens. The challenge was “most of the livestock that we have in Georgia does not look like what we would have had during the 1800s,” said Ronnie Silcox, a professor of animal and dairy science. To keep the farm historically authentic, he and Mike Lacy, head of the poultry science department, recommended Gulf Coast sheep and Rhode Island red hens and roosters. Both breeds come closest to the animals a family would have kept during the 1860s. The Gulf Coast sheep added to the farm—two ewes and two lambs raised by Madison County sheep farmer Jan Southers—descended from flocks of Spanish sheep brought to the New Orleans area in the 18th century. The breed was a staple wool producer across antebellum Georgia and, after hundreds of years in the southern U.S., has adapted to warm, muggy conditions. last_img read more

Free Manure?

first_imgUsing animal manure to amend garden and landscaping soil was common practice 20 years ago. Today, University of Georgia Extension agents, like myself, discourage it.In the past, manure was considered a great soil amendment to add to gardens and was considered a good source of natural “organic” nutrients as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a manure source that doesn’t contain herbicide residues, which ironically defeats the purpose of trying to be an organic gardener. Free isn’t always freeMost backyard gardeners don’t give much thought to where their “free” manure comes from, aside from the obvious source. The vast majority of farmers spray their hayfields and pastures with herbicides to control broadleaf weeds. The same applies to hay used as mulch. Today’s hay customers expect weed-free sources of hay for their animals and farmer’s must meet the demand of their customers. Today’s herbicides have low toxicity to humans and animals. Man of these herbicides can be sprayed one day and the animals can graze safely the next day, but the problem is many herbicides used today also have long-lasting residual activity — meaning they remain active on the mulch or in the manure after you put them into your garden.Free pesticidesSome commonly used products are known to last as long as 8 to 12 months in the soil or on stored hay. Herbicide residues also remain active on forage hay fed to livestock and grass clippings from sprayed lawns. If you spray your lawn for weeds, don’t put your grass clippings in your garden or compost bin. These herbicides are very good at what they do: kill broadleaf weeds without killing grass. Unfortunately, these products don’t know the difference between a weed, a flower, a tomato plant or vegetable plants growing in your garden.The type of manure used in your garden doesn’t matter either. Whether the manure comes from horses, cattle, alpacas, goats or other livestock, there’s a chance they could have been exposed to an herbicide. Even if the livestock owner doesn’t spray his pastures, hay purchased to feed the animals could have been sprayed. More often than not, customers who buy high quality hay for animals want it to be as weed-free as possible. You can assume that any hay that is mostly weed-free has been treated with an herbicide. Alfalfa is typically the only forage hay that will not have been sprayed since most broadleaf herbicides cannot be sprayed without damaging the crop, too. If livestock owners only feed alfalfa hay to their animals and don’t spray their pastures, the manure could safely be used in your garden. However, most livestock owners also feed grass hays such as fescue, bermudagrass and orchard grass that are likely sprayed for weeds. Hay can be suspect, tooBefore using hay from a farmer, ask if the fields were sprayed and what type of hay they feed their animals. Otherwise, assume all hay has been sprayed with an herbicide and the resulting manure will damage your garden.If you’ve already incorporated manures or hay mulches into your garden, watch your vegetables very closely for unusual symptoms. Tomatoes are very sensitive to herbicide damage and are often the first indicator of a problem. Affected tomatoes will have extreme leaf curling and the stems will be twisted. Usually, the newest growth on the plant is the first to show these symptoms. For assistance in identifying a plant disease or insect problem, bring a leaf sample your local UGA Extension office for assistance or call 1-800-AskUGA-1.last_img read more

Cottonseed Oil

first_imgResearchers at the University of Georgia have found that a high-fat diet enriched with cottonseed oil drastically improved cholesterol profiles in young adult men.The researchers conducted a five-day outpatient feeding trial of 15 healthy, normal-weight men to test the effects of diets enriched with cottonseed oil and olive oil on lipid profiles.Participants showed significant reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides in the cottonseed oil trial compared to minimal changes on the olive-oil-enriched diet.The results appear in the scientific journal Nutrition Research.“One of the reasons these results were so surprising is because of the magnitude of change observed with the cottonseed oil diet,” said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Department of Foods and Nutrition and the corresponding author of the journal article. “To see this amount of change in such a short period of time is exciting.”The subjects, all healthy men between the ages of 18 and 45, were given high-fat meals for five days in two separate, tightly controlled trials, the only difference being the use of either cottonseed oil or olive oil in the meals.Participants showed an average decrease of 8 percent in total cholesterol on the cottonseed oil diet, along with a 15 percent decrease in low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), and a 30 percent decrease in triglycerides.This diet also increased high-density lipoproteins, or HDL (the “good” cholesterol), by 8 percent.Researchers suggested a fatty acid unique to cottonseed oil, dihydrosterculic acid, may help prevent the accumulation of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the body.“By doing that, it pushes the body to burn more of that fat because it can’t store it properly, so you have less lipid and cholesterol accumulation,” Cooper said.That mechanism, in addition to the high polyunsatured fat and omega-6 content of cottonseed oil, seems to be a key component to the beneficial effects on lipid profiles, Cooper said.Researchers plan to expand the study to include older adults with high cholesterol as well as a longer feeding intervention.Additional authors are Kristine R. Polley from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and Natalie J. Oswell, Ronald B. Pegg and Chad M. Paton from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Technology.Paton also serves an assistant professor within the FACS Department of Foods and Nutrition.The study was supported by Cotton Incorporated, the Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership, and the UGA Clinical and Translational Research Unit.The journal article can be viewed at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718307048?via%3Dihub.last_img read more

Rock Eagle Chapel Restoration

first_imgA generous $200,000 gift from a prominent 4-H alumna and an outpouring of support at the 2019 Georgia 4-H Gala catapulted the fundraising effort to rebuild the Rock Eagle Chapel at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center past its $400,000 goal on Aug. 10.“Georgia 4-H is grateful to Kelly Loeffler for the generous and thoughtful contribution to our Rock Eagle Chapel restoration campaign. Her investment in our organization was an inspiration to all alumni and supporters to be a part of the efforts, and ensured the attainment of our fundraising goal,” said Johnathon Barrett, executive director of the Georgia 4-H Foundation. “This gift is appreciated by all Georgia 4-H’ers and will be for generations to come.”Loeffler is CEO of Bakkt, a regulated, global ecosystem for digital currencies, and a member of the executive team at Intercontinental Exchange, which operates more than a dozen global market infrastructures, including the New York Stock Exchange. She is also co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, the first women-owned professional sports team in Atlanta.Shared memories and stories of 4-H “resonate with so many of us and center in our hearts and minds what 4-H has meant to each of us,” said Loeffler at the Georgia 4-H Gala. “They remind us what each of our experiences have meant to our development and growth. These 4-H projects and our 4-H leaders were really mentors and guides and guideposts that taught us and brought us along in life. There are so many of these wonderful memories which I personally benefited from and continue to benefit from.”Recalling working with her father in the cattle feedlots on her family’s farm in Illinois or sewing and baking with her mother, Loeffler said these memories were lessons that have helped her in the business world.“They also encourage me to think toward the future of 4-H and that was really the reason we wanted to contribute to this effort,” Loeffler said. “As honorary Georgians, we are really proud to be able to contribute to something that looks to the future of 4-H and contributes to this beautiful chapel being restored.”The Rock Eagle Chapel was severely damaged in February due to an electrical fire caused by wildlife damage. Construction on the restoration has begun and is expected to be completed by February 2020, Barrett said.last_img read more

Organic Entrepreneurship

first_imgBalancing academic coursework with a job is a challenge many University of Georgia students face, but for students in the new Organic Horticulture Entrepreneurship class, their classwork is both academic and economic.This semester is also harvest season for the four horticulture students in the class, who are gaining experience planning, planting and marketing crops through a weekly student farmers market.Taught by Associate Professor David Berle and Professor Tim Coolong in the Department of Horticulture, the new course in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) allows students to learn the process of growing their own produce and build the interpersonal communication skills necessary sell their crops.Every Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m., the students load up tables at UGArden with the crops they’ve grown during the semester — leafy mounds of lettuce, kale, turnip greens and bok choy, as well as radishes, turnips and teas made from herbs they’ve grown — and sell their wares to the public. Customers are able to buy field-fresh produce and the students practice educating members of the Athens community about the process of organic farming.The class, which is being taught for the second time this semester, was created after Berle, who focuses on organic horticulture, and Coolong, a vegetable specialist, were approached by a donor interested in supporting the development of an immersive course addressing both sustainability and entrepreneurship.Part of the donor funding goes to compensate Sarah Rucker, assistant farm manager for the UGArden. “(Rucker) is the one who helps coach the students and manage the farmer’s market,” Berle said. Through her role in the course, Rucker essentially serves as a teaching assistant for the course by answering any questions the students may have about their crops, best practices and marketing techniques.The UGArden herb program that is part of the class also was awarded an Experiential Learning Innovation Grant, a program of the UGA Office of the Vice President for Instruction, which provides funding to faculty who want to update or create a new course design for experiential learning.As the course progresses, Berle continually makes adjustments to give students the best opportunities to gain experience in both growing and selling organic produce.One tweak is the way students sell their produce. During the first semester the course was offered, students were selling primarily to university vendors such as UGA Dining Services and the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. But after realizing that students were missing out on face-to-face interaction with customers, Berle and Coolong created a weekly farmer’s market at UGArden so students could experience how to communicate and interact directly with consumers rather than just delivering to vendors.Students in the course are grateful for the opportunity to give back to the Athens community by providing fresh produce while learning what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the organic horticulture industry.“I am probably out here (in the garden) for four or five hours every day,” stated Sarah Kate Duncan, a senior horticulture major who is taking the course. “But it is totally worth it … Some of my favorite things to grow are turnip greens, different types of lettuces, fresh cut flowers and herbs.”Erica Head, works as the student assistant herb manager for UGArden. Though she is not in the entrepreneurship class, she has been connected to the UGArden herb program since taking a freshman Odyssey seminar with Berle.“I see the whole process from beginning to end: I seed the plants, I put them in the field, I dry and process them into teas. I like seeing people enjoy the teas and telling them about their medicinal effects,” Head said. “It’s also really good to see the other students selling the crops they have worked hard on all semester.”Chris Rhodes, director of industry partnerships at CAES, explains that industry leaders are looking for graduates with the creativity, communication and problem-solving skills that students in this course are gaining.“There is no substitute for running a business to learn how to run a business,” Rhodes stated. Through his role in the college, Rhodes wants to ensure that every student has the confidence to recognize a path they want to achieve and then to be connected to resources to ensure success after their time at UGA.Student-grown produce from the course will be available through the weekly farmers market until Thanksgiving. For more information on this course and other experiential learning opportunities available at CAES, visit caes.uga.edu/students/experiential-learning.last_img read more

Verizon to sell Vermont, NH, Maine land line business

first_imgVERIZONS ONLINE NEWS CENTER:Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, highquality video and images, and other information are available at Verizons News Center on the World Wide Web at www.verizon.com/news(link is external).  To receive news releases by e-mail, visit theNews Center and register for customized automatic delivery ofVerizon news releases. Verizon and FairPoint Agree to Merge VerizonsWireline Businesses in Maine, New Hampshire and VermontWith Current Operations of FairPoint About FairPointFairPoint is a leading provider of communications services torural communities across the country. Incorporated in 1991, FairPoints mission is to acquire and operatetelecommunications companies that set the standard of excellence for thedelivery of service to rural communities. Today, FairPoint owns and operates 31 local exchange companies locatedin 18 states offering an array of services, including local and long distancevoice, data, Internet and broadband offerings. Building on Verizons Operating Strength FairPoint is a leading provider ofcommunications services to rural communities. Its commitment to quality customer service was a key factor in ourdecision to enter into this transaction with FairPoint, Verizons Ruesterholzsaid.  We know that FairPoint has a deepunderstanding of the local phone business and a determination to build on Verizonsoperating strength in this region.FairPointsJohnson said, This is a value-creating event for multiple parties.  Customers, employees and shareholders willall benefit from the transaction.We are preparedto make additional investments in the state networks to maintain and improvethe highly reliable, state-of-the-art networks in the three states, hecontinued.  We are confident that ourexperience as a major operator will enable us to provide outstanding serviceand innovative products for our new customers.  FairPoints established expertise inoperating telephone properties in rural areas will now be leveraged in the new Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont markets.A Verizontransition team will work with FairPoint in the coming months to ensurecustomer accounts, billing information, and other assets from the operationsare successfully transferred to FairPoint and that the transition is seamlessfor customers and employees.Verizon wasadvised in the transaction by Merrill Lynch & Co.  Lehman Brothers acted as FairPoints leadfinancial adviser in this transaction. Deutsche Bank Securities and Morgan Stanley also acted as advisers toFairPoint. NEWS RELEASE v104247 Steve Marcus 5 9 2007-01-15T20:25:00Z 2007-01-16T03:23:00Z 2007-01-16T05:30:00Z 1 2063 11761 Verizon 98 27 13797 10.2625 Print MicrosoftInternetExplorer4st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;}January 16, 2007 This press release may contain forward-lookingstatements by FairPoint that are not based on historical fact, including,without limitation, statements containing the words expects, anticipates,intends, plans, believes, seeks, estimates and similar expressionsand statements related to potential cost savings and synergies expected to berealized in the merger. Because these forward-looking statements involve knownand unknown risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that couldcause actual results, events or developments to differ materially from thoseexpressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such factors includethose risks described from time to time in FairPoints filings with theSecurities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, the risksdescribed in FairPoints most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K on file withthe Securities and Exchange Commission. These factors should be considered carefully and readers are cautionednot to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.  All information is current as of the datethis press release is issued, and FairPoint undertakes no duty to update thisinformation.  Source: FairPointCommunications, Inc., www.fairpoint.com(link is external). IncreasedEmployment and Broadband AvailabilityApproximately 3,000 Verizoncompany employees — those who support primarily the local phone business thatis spun off — will continue employment with FairPoint after the merger.  Approximately 300 Verizon company employeesin Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who provide national orregional support services will remain with the Verizon company that currentlyemploys them.FairPoint andVerizon will provide a smooth transition for employees.  FairPoint will honor the union labor agreementsin these states and expects to work constructively with union leaders.  Subsequent to the merger, FairPoint expectsto add approximately 600 positions to the current employee base serving thethree states.  FairPointwill also strengthen the local operational presence and create new localservice centers to deliver industry-leading customer service.Additionally, FairPoint plans to significantly increasebroadband availability in the region within the first 12 months after themerger is completed.Our goal at FairPoint is to respond to customers, and wewill have sufficient scale to continue to offer enhanced services on a robustnetwork platform, said Johnson.  Thatmeans we can deliver a broader range of communications products and services.The transaction is targeted tobe completed within the next 12 months.  Itrequires approval from FairPoint stockholders, certain state and federalregulatory approvals, and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. About VerizonVerizon Communications Inc.(NYSE: VZ), a New York-based Dow 30 company, is a leader in deliveringbroadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to massmarket, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wirelessoperates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 57million customers nationwide.  Verizon’s Wireline operations includeVerizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned globalIP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation’s most advancedfiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications,information and entertainment services to customers.  For moreinformation, visit www.verizon.com(link is external). FairPoint to Add Jobs, Provide Seamless Transition for CurrentEmployees and Invest in Increased Broadband Access for Consumers in Northern New England TransactionDetails, Tax-Free DistributionVerizons local exchange and related business assets in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will be transferredto entities owned by a newly organized, wholly owned subsidiary ofVerizon.  This new subsidiary will incur$1.7 billion of newly issued debt and will then be spun off to Verizonsstockholders and immediately merged with and into FairPoint.When the merger iscompleted, the companies conducting the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont telephone and relatedbusiness operations will be subsidiaries of FairPoint.  The combined business will be managed byFairPoints executive team.Upon the closing ofthe transaction, Verizon stockholders will own approximately60 percent of the new company, and FairPoint stockholders will ownapproximately 40 percent.  In connectionwith the merger, Verizon stockholders will receive one share of FairPoint stockfor approximately every 55 shares of Verizon stock held as of the recorddate.  Both the spin-off and merger areexpected to qualify as tax-free transactions, except to the extent that cash ispaid to Verizon stockholders in lieu of fractional shares.Verizon Communicationswill not own any shares in FairPoint after the merger.The total value to bereceived by Verizon and its stockholders in exchange for these operations willbe approximately $2.715 billion.  Verizonstockholders will receive approximately $1.015 billion of FairPoint commonstock in the merger, based upon FairPoints recent stock price and the terms ofthe merger agreement.  Verizon willreceive $1.7 billion in value through a combination of cash distributions toVerizon and debt securities issued to Verizon prior to the spin-off.  Verizon may exchange these newly issued debtsecurities for certain debt that was previously issued by Verizon, which wouldhave the effect of reducing Verizons then-outstanding debt on its balancesheet.The transactionincludes Verizons switched and special access lines in the three states, aswell as its Internet service, enterprise voice CPE (customer premisesequipment) accounts, and long-distance voice and private line customer accounts(for customer private lines with beginning and ending points within the threestates) that Verizon served in the region before the 2006 merger with MCI, Inc.  The transaction does not include theservices, offerings or assets of Verizon Wireless, Verizon Business (formerMCI), Federal Network Systems LLC, Verizon Network Integration Corp., VerizonGlobal Networks Inc., Verizon Federal Inc. or any other Verizon businesses inthese states.FairPoint expects that the transaction will be accretive tofree cash flow of FairPoint upon completion of the transition, and it expectsthat its current annual dividend of $1.59 per share will continue unchangedfollowing the closing.  All owners of FairPoint shares on dividend record datesafter the merger is completed, including Verizon stockholders who will have receivedFairPoint shares in this transaction, will be eligible to receive declareddividends.FairPoints management anticipates that the merged companywill be able to generate improved operational performance through managementfocus, local/regional marketing and customer service initiatives, and futuredevelopment of innovative technology and processes. — Verizon to Spin Off These Wireline Businesses Priorto Merger — NEW YORK Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and FairPointCommunications, Inc. (NYSE: FRP) today announced definitive agreementsthat will result in Verizon establishing a separate entity for its localexchange and related business assets in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, spinningoff that new entity to Verizons stockholders, and merging it with and intoFairPoint.FairPoint, basedin Charlotte, N.C.,is a telecommunications provider with 31 local exchange companies in 18 states,serving the unique needs of customers in rural and small urban markets.  FairPoint provides an array of services,including local and long-distance voice, data, Internet and broadband.Verizons Maine,New Hampshire and Vermont properties serve approximately1.5 million access lines, approximately 180,000 DSL customers and approximately600,000 long-distance customers (as of Sept. 30, 2006).We believe thistransaction will create an opportunity for further investment in Maine,New Hampshire and Vermont,strengthen the regions economy by creating jobs and improve service tocustomers through capital investment, said Gene Johnson, chairman and CEO ofFairPoint.  At the same time, we haveaccelerated FairPoints growth through a single transaction, creating a muchlarger company with increased financial strength and flexibility that willcontinue to focus on maximizing value for investors.VirginiaRuesterholz, president of Verizon Telecom, said, This deal is great forconsumers.  They can count on continuedtop service from the new company that will have a focus on northern New England.  The transactionalso ensures the fair and equitable treatment of employees in these New England states, who have performed outstanding work for ourcustomers for many years.In our view, Ruesterholzadded, this agreement provides a fair value for this property and allowsVerizon to focus more intently on operations in other markets.  It shows how Verizoncontinually looks for creative and attractive ways to add value for ourshareholders. FairPoint intends to file aregistration statement, including a proxy statement, and other materials withthe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection with the proposedmerger.  We urge investors to read thesedocuments when they become available because they will contain important information.  Investors will be able to obtain copies of theregistration statement and proxy statement, as well as other filed documentscontaining information about FairPoint and the merger, at www.sec.gov(link is external), the SECs website, or at www.fairpoint.com/investor(link is external), when they are available.  Investors may also obtain free copies ofthese documents and the Companys SEC filings at www.fairpoint.com(link is external) under the Investor Relations section, orby written request to FairPoint Communications, Inc., 521 E. Morehead Street, Suite 250, Charlotte,last_img read more