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by tim

Average retail gasoline prices in Vermont have fallen 1.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.71/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.74/g, according to gasoline price website VermontGasPrices.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Vermont during the past week, prices yesterday were 16.8 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 9.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 0.5 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 25.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
Source: VermontGasPrices.com. 7.26.2010

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by tim

A new branding research study focusing on how Vermont is perceived as a vacation destination by visitors and non-visitors will be presented by state officials at community meetings across the state in August and September.
Vermont’s Chief Marketing Officer Christine Werneke, in conjunction with the Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Vermont Ski Areas Association, recently completed the research project to study perceptions about Vermont and how they affect decision making for choosing a vacation destination.
“This is the first time the state has conducted a quantitative brand study looking at Vermont’s brand from the perspective of not just visitors but non-visitors as well,” Werneke said. “The goal is to better understand Vermont’s unique strengths and where we see significant opportunity for market growth.”

by tim

People's United Financial, Inc (Nasdaq: PBCT), a diversified financial services company, today announced that it has named John P. (Jack) Barnes as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors effective immediately. Barnes was also named President, CEO and a director of the Company's subsidiary, People's United Bank. Barnes, 54, has served as interim President and CEO since the departure of former CEO Philip R. Sherringham in April. He was with Chittenden Bank Vermont until it was bought by People's in 2008.
The company's announcement follows an extensive executive search involving internal and external candidates, which the Board of Directors conducted in partnership with Russell Reynolds, a leading executive search firm with substantial financial services sector expertise.

by tim

Ledyard Financial Group, Inc, the holding company for Ledyard National Bank, was ranked among U.S. Banker magazine’s Top 200 Community Banks in the United States. The 2010 rankings were based on three-year average return on equity as of December 31, 2009. Ledyard Financial Group made the list with a three-year average ROE of 8.50%. This is the fourth consecutive year that Ledyard has received the honor.
Kathy Underwood, President and CEO of Ledyard Financial Group, Inc., stated, “Ledyard is proud to be included in this exclusive list of banks. We’re equally proud of our long term track record of success and ability to deliver positive results, even in trying economic times. We strive to deliver maximum value to our shareholders and to establish ourselves as key financial partners in the growth of our communities.”

by tim

“Freedom and Choice” is the theme of the fourth annual Milton Friedman Day observance to be held Friday, July 30, from 5-7 pm at the Sheraton Burlington Conference Center.
The speaker is Bill Sayre of Bristol, a former student of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. Sayre, an economist and businessman, is the former chair of Associated Industries of Vermont and a regular commentator on True North Radio.
The event, part of the Sheraton Economic Series, honors what would be the 98th birthday of Professor Friedman, a one time resident of Ely, Vermont. It is hosted by the Sheraton Burlington, sponsored by the Ethan Allen Institute, and cosponsored by Vermont Business Magazine , the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Economy Newsletter, and Vermont Tiger.

by tim

A new law that sets up a process for state recognition of Native American tribes in Vermont has revised the makeup of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and has that panel seeking nine new members. The law, also known as S222, increased the number of members on the VCNAA from seven to nine, and also imposes a Vermont residency requirement for the first time.
“This law establishes a completely new Native American Commission with new responsibilities,” said Giovanna Peebles, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.
Governor Jim Douglas will be appointing 9 new members to the VCNAA by September 1, provided that a sufficient number of qualified candidates have submitted applications to the Governor.

by tim

Union Bankshares, Inc. (Nasdaq:UNB), based in Morrisville, Vermont, has announced results for the second quarter of 2010. Net Income was $1.53 million or $0.34 per share compared to $1.23 million or $0.28 per share for 2009. Quarterly results reflect an increase in net interest income of $230 thousand or 5.2% and an increase in the gains and servicing rights recognized as a result of selling qualified residential loans into the secondary market of $200,000. The Company also benefited from a reduction in FDIC insurance expense of $208,000 due to the announcement in second quarter 2009 of the one time special assessment.
The Company had total capital of $41.9 million with a book value per share of $9.40 as of June 30, 2010 compared to $39.5 million at June 30, 2009 with a book value per share of $8.85. Year to date earnings increased $243,000 or 9.7% over the same period last year.

by tim

Line crews worked tirelessly through the night last night after a three-pronged wave of thunderstorms swept through the state yesterday, knocking out power to about 12,500 CVPS customers at the height of the storm around 10 pm. About 750 customers in Rutland, Orange, and Windsor counties remain without power this morning, with some scattered outages across the state.
“We began mobilizing crews from our other districts in the early evening yesterday,” said Storm Manager Scott Massie. “But this storm really came in three waves. The first wave hit the St. Albans area yesterday afternoon, and then the next wave hit central Vermont, and then Rutland County took a beating last night. It was next to impossible to know where these storms cells were going to hit; they just popped up everywhere without notice.”
Storm damage was localized to specific areas.

by tim

The Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections testified today before a Senate panel chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). The hearing focused on state and local efforts to help inmates successfully and effectively reintegrate into their communities upon release.
The Second Chance Act was first passed in 2008, and authorized federal grants for state and local governments and organizations to help provide literacy classes, job training, education programs, and substance abuse and rehabilitation programs for inmates. The act is also intended to promote safety and improve communities by ensuring that people will become productive members of society, rather than returning to a life of crime, when they are released from prison. The hearing Wednesday focused on the success of the grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act.

by tim

Governor Jim Douglas was in Iraq today with a delegation of governors to meet with troops and receive a first-hand update about the situation in Iraq.
The Governor departed from Andrews Air Force Base yesterday after meeting with Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn and visiting Walter Read Army Medical Center during the day. He arrived at Baghdad International Airport this morning and had an opportunity to meet with soldiers, including Vermonters, at Camp Victory and Al Faw Palace. During the day he also received a briefing from Lt. General Kenneth Hunzeker, the Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq and the NATO Training Mission in Iraq and had a hands-on MRAP vehicle demonstration.

by tim

One of the financial building blocks for constructing the Lake Champlain Bridge was put in place yesterday. The State Treasurer’s Office successfully sold $14.4 million in Vermont special obligation transportation infrastructure bonds. A portion of the money raised by the bond sale will go toward meeting the state’s obligation for rebuilding the bridge, as well as provide funds for other needed transportation infrastructure repairs and improvements.
The bonds are backed by the state’s new Motor Fuels Transportation Infrastructure Assessment (MFTIA) passed by the Vermont Legislature in the 2009 session. The bond sale was not held until this week because the state wanted to first use available federal stimulus monies to fund identified transportation projects.

by tim

Nichols College in Dudley, MA, has told Saint Michael’s College in Colchester that it is withdrawing its masters programs that were to have begun at the Colchester campus this fall semester, Vermont Business Magazine learned today. Saint Michael’s said the dean of the program was leaving his position and that the central Massachusetts business school was re-evaluating the program. Nichols College said it will instead focus on another site in Florida.
Nichols Vermont Director of Graduate and Professional Studies, Brian Lewis, sent the following email to the Saint Michael’s administration:
‘It is with a sense of sadness that I must inform the college community that a decision has been made by Nichols College to terminate its effort to establish its graduate business programs in Vermont. The resignation of the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies has created a void in strong leadership and this along with a desire to conserve resources forced this decision.