Thursday, December 31, 2009

NuPhysicia’s Medicine At Work Telemedicine Workplace Clinics Expand into Atlanta

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Medicine At Work from NuPhysicia LLC, the nation’s first telemedicine workplace clinic program, has expanded services into Atlanta. This cost-effective workplace clinic option for employers is now gaining new customers in both Texas and Georgia.

“Atlanta employers are seeking new employee medical options and as such, it emerged as an important market for us”

“Atlanta employers are seeking new employee medical options and as such, it emerged as an important market for us,” said Melody Reid, NuPhysicia’s executive director for Employee Health Services. “We are very excited about our progress. Now having two states – Texas and Georgia – with Medicine At Work serving customers is a great step forward for us.”

Using secure, high-quality two-way video and medical exam tools, Medicine At Work provides a full range of physician services to an employer’s workforce, bringing health care improvements and medical cost controls. Medicine At Work delivers complete workplace clinic care to a wider range of employers than traditional workplace clinics.

“Through new Georgia contracted physicians, Medicine At Work is now bringing health services to Atlanta workplaces using remote video medicine,” added Dr. Michael Davis, senior vice president of NuPhysicia. “Medicine At Work connects these Georgia licensed and board certified doctors to employees for workplace examinations, diagnosis, health risk assessments, general medical care and wellness coaching – bringing benefits to Georgia employers and employees alike.”

Companies offer Medicine At Work to improve the health and productivity of their workforce and help control medical costs. Medicine At Work is a turnkey solution with no start-up or build-out costs, and all medical care, staffing, clinic equipment and furnishings is provided for a fixed monthly cost per employee. There are no co-pay costs or insurance claims to file when seeing a doctor at the Medicine At Work clinic, making it a great benefit for employees.

Medicine At Work is not an insurance product and is not affiliated with any specific insurance carrier. With it, all the values and benefits of an on-site clinic are now available to more employers.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Imperial Sugar Settles $345 Million Insurance Claim

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imperial Sugar Company (NASDAQ:IPSU) announced that it settled the property insurance claim for the February 2008 industrial accident at its Port Wentworth, Georgia refinery for an aggregate of $345 million. The Company expects to recognize pre-tax gains of approximately $278 million in its first fiscal quarter ending December 31, 2009, as a result of the settlement. A final $45 million payment on the claim is expected to be received in early January. Previously the insurers had provided advance claim payments aggregating $300 million under the $350 million policy which provides for replacement cost coverage of physical property damage and business interruption coverage.

About Imperial Sugar

Imperial Sugar Company is one of the largest processors and marketers of refined sugar in the United States to food manufacturers, retail grocers and foodservice distributors. The Company markets products nationally under the Imperial®, Dixie Crystals® and Holly® brands. For more information about Imperial Sugar, visit www.imperialsugar.com.

Statements regarding future market prices and margins, refinery construction costs, timelines and operational dates, future expenses and liabilities arising from the Port Wentworth refinery incident, the timing of final insurance payments, future costs and liabilities arising from the Louisiana Sugar Refining LLC venture, future import and export levels, future government and legislative action, future operating results, future availability and cost of raw sugar, operating efficiencies, results of future investments and initiatives, future cost savings, future product innovations, future energy costs, our liquidity and ability to finance our operations and capital investment programs, future pension plan contributions and other statements that are not historical facts contained in this release are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. These risks, uncertainties and assumptions include, but are not limited to, market factors, farm and trade policy, unforeseen engineering and equipment delays, results of insurance negotiations, our ability to realize planned cost savings and other improvements, the available supply of sugar, energy costs, the effect of weather and economic conditions, results of actuarial assumptions, actual or threatened acts of terrorism or armed hostilities, legislative, administrative and judicial actions and other factors detailed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual outcomes may vary materially from those indicated.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

URG Says Feds Missed Opportunity To Keep Cash for Clunkers Program Green

/PRNewswire/ -- The United Recyclers Group (URG) says that the federal government is not doing enough to help promote the green aspects of the auto salvage industry and encourage the use of environmentally-friendly green auto parts. "Cash For Clunkers (C4C) created some much needed green awareness for consumers and momentum within the auto industry," says Michelle Alexander, executive director of the United Recyclers Group. "But a big opportunity was missed by the federal government when they all but abandoned C4C once the front end of the program involving the new car manufacturers and dealers was completed. The back half of the program is far greener than the front half, and yet the ball has been dropped when it comes to promoting the truly green aspects of C4C. We call on the federal government to change course and help us promote the use of affordable and green auto parts to American consumers."

C4C has also resulted in a number of unanticipated problems for the nation's auto salvage industry. With 690,000 cars sold during the brief run of the C4C (otherwise known as CARS) program, and an equal number traded in and scrapped, a 'tsunami of steel' has hit the industry. A number of unexpected delays by the federal government and a shortened run time for the CARS program have meant less processing time for recyclers. There are still serious issues, despite the recent announcement of a 90 day extension to the 180 day deadline (making 270 days total) for processing all of the scrapped C4C vehicles.

Alexander says, "URG has requested and continues to fully support a minimum six month extension of the CARS program processing deadline mandated by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). We need at least a full year to do this job right. The recent 90 day extension is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough. Many of our members now have a one to two year inventory of automobiles waiting to be processed. There has been no help at all from the federal government promoting the use of green reusable auto parts. So with no increase in demand, we are simply looking at an increase in our costs, and it isn't reasonable or fair to auto recyclers. Auto recyclers are hardworking small businessmen and women, very much tied to their communities, and can be found in every congressional district in America. Just because they don't have the lobbying clout of the 'Big Three' in Washington doesn't mean their needs and concerns don't matter when new programs like C4C are created."

"Cash For Clunkers started as a billion dollar program that was going to run until November 1, 2009," says Greg Wilcox, co-owner and president of Midway Auto Parts (Kansas City, MO), and a URG Manager. "Six months to process the clunkers traded in made sense. But then congress tripled the size of the program, it all came and went in a matter of weeks, instead of months, and then NHTSA finally got around to a small adjustment, less than what anyone in this industry has asked for, of the processing deadline even as they tripled the size of the program. This oversight creates huge problems for the auto recycling industry, because there is no money to support our extra costs - such as more staff, more space, and more inventory carrying costs - incurred because we now have to meet an unrealistic deadline."

John Fischl, President of Riteway Auto Parts (Phoenix, AZ) and a URG manager says, "Cash for Clunkers was all about being green and stimulating the economy. All of those good intentions backfire when auto recycling, one of the nation's greenest industries, and this country's 13th largest, is impacted in a way that hurts our profitability and causes us to be less green as we scramble to meet an artificial deadline."

Fischl says, "These vehicles need more time in the system to produce the maximum green benefit for this country and the American consumer. I wonder how many decision makers who supported C4C understand that the really green thing we do is process vehicles and reclaim the green parts for reuse by consumers. This is what separates us from car crushers, who simply shred cars to recycle the metals. Millions of Americans benefit from the green auto parts we put into the marketplace every year. Doesn't that matter to anyone in Washington?"

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US Labor Department publishes 2009 Form M-1 for multiple employer welfare arrangements

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced the availability of the 2009 Form M-1 annual report for multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs). Plan administrators may use EBSA's online filing system to expedite processing of the form.

MEWAs generally are arrangements that offer medical benefits to the employees of two or more employers or to their beneficiaries. The filing deadline for the 2009 Form M-1 is March 1, 2010. However, administrators can request an automatic 60-day extension to May 3, 2010. The 2009 form is basically identical to the previous year's form.

The online filing system is available on EBSA's Web site at http://www.askebsa.dol.gov/mewa. It allows a filer the flexibility to complete the form in multiple sessions, print a copy for his or her records and submit it at no cost. The Web site includes a user manual, frequently asked questions and a link to submit questions electronically.

Technical assistance for the online filing system is available by calling 202-693-8600. Information about the Form M-1 and how to fill it out is available on the Web site or by calling 202-693-8360. Paper copies of the form are available at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa (click on Forms and Filing) or by calling EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272. A notice about the 2009 Form M-1 is in today's edition of the Federal Register.

U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aqua America Launches Georgia Subsidiary with New Wastewater Acquisition

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aqua America, Inc. (NYSE: WTR) announced December 22 that it has acquired a wastewater treatment, disposal and re-use system in Lumpkin County, Georgia. The acquisition will launch Aqua’s new operating subsidiary, Aqua Georgia, Inc., in the midst of one of the nation’s highest-growth corridors, within an hour’s drive north of Atlanta along Georgia’s Route 400.

“We’re happy to welcome Aqua into our community, and we look forward to working with them for years to come”

Aqua purchased the interests of WRF Georgia, LLC, which owns and operates the plant. The new venture represents Aqua’s entry into another of the nation’s fast-growing southern states and another public-private partnership for the company — Aqua will sell its wastewater treatment, disposal and re-use services to the Lumpkin County Water and Sewerage Authority, which in turn provides service to the public. Aqua also obtained the exclusive right to provide wastewater service to an area covering approximately 14,750 acres. Since 2006, when the system was constructed, the availability of the plant’s services has helped the county secure new economic growth such as a shopping center and other businesses.

“We’re pleased to be able to bring Aqua’s services to Georgia, and we believe our new partnership with Lumpkin County represents the beginning of a long-term commitment to the state,” said Aqua Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis. “Aqua can offer quality water and wastewater solutions to Georgia for generations to come.”

Lumpkin County lies along Georgia Route 400, a highway that has spurred massive growth in neighboring Forsyth County. Forsyth is the country’s sixth fastest-growing county according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Similarly, Lumpkin County estimates that its population has grown by 44 percent in the past 10 years.

Last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited nearby Dawsonville, Georgia, to announce Recovery Act broadband grant and loan program awards, which officials expect to enhance economic development in rural areas and underserved urban communities. The Administration awarded a grant to the North Georgia Network Cooperative, Inc., to deploy a 260-mile regional fiber-optic ring to improve broadband access through 12 North Georgia counties, including Lumpkin County.

“We’re happy to welcome Aqua into our community, and we look forward to working with them for years to come,” said Murl Jones, chairman of the county’s Water and Sewerage Authority. “Aqua has a long track record of improving and expanding local water and wastewater systems and delivering quality service to its customers. That’s exactly the kind of partner we need to continue the growth we started with WRF.”

Aqua’s new plant is designed and permitted to treat up to 50,000 gallons per day with a state-of-the-art membrane bioreactor treatment system that produces a much cleaner effluent than a traditional plant — and in a smaller footprint.

According to the terms of the agreement, Aqua did not publicly disclose the purchase price of the acquisition. Today’s announcement brings the total number of Aqua’s acquisitions this year to 17.

Aqua America is a publicly traded water and wastewater utility holding company with operating subsidiaries serving approximately three million people in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Indiana, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, South Carolina and Georgia. Aqua America is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WTR.

This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that address, among other things, the effect of the acquisition of the described business and possible benefits from the acquired operations. There are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements including: risk associated with the acquired company’s business; the costs related to the transaction; the risk that anticipated benefits will not be obtained or will not be obtained within the time anticipated; and other key factors that we have indicated could adversely affect our business and financial performance contained in our past and future filings and reports, including those filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Aqua America is not under any obligation — and expressly disclaims any such obligation — to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Nash Finch Company Announces Acquisition of Distribution Center in Columbus, Georgia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nash-Finch Company (Nasdaq:NAFC), a Minneapolis-based food distributor, yesterday announced the acquisition of a 400,000 sq. ft. warehouse distribution facility in Columbus, Georgia for its distribution business serving military commissaries and exchanges, representing a $20 million investment in the first three years of operation. The distribution center will be operated by MDV, which is headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, and recognized as one of the premier distributors worldwide providing service to military commissaries and exchanges.

“Our purpose at MDV is to serve our armed service heroes and their families, whether at home or abroad, by supplying products needed by the military to provide one of their most important benefits – the commissary,” stated Ed Brunot, President and Chief Operating Officer of MDV. Brunot continued, “This new Columbus distribution center complements our military distribution centers in the Southeast, allowing us to better serve the commissaries in that region. We look forward to joining the Columbus business community and hope to be able to add members of the Fort Benning community to our MDV family of associates. We appreciate the efforts of the City, the Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, whose assistance was invaluable in making this acquisition a reality.”

The new Columbus MDV distribution center is scheduled to begin making deliveries to commissaries in the late third or fourth quarter of 2010.

“In a state known for its twelve active military installations and commitment to service personnel and their families, Georgia is proud to be the new home of this MDV facility that will allow commissaries to better serve families at Fort Benning and beyond,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “I join the Columbus community in celebrating the opening of this new distribution facility, and look forward to the positive economic impact for this area.”

A ceremony to celebrate the acquisition took place on December 17, 2009, at the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce located at 1200 6th Avenue in Columbus. Local dignitaries, including Mayor Jim Wetherington; Dick Ellis, Chairman of the Development Authority of Columbus, Russ Carreker, Chamber Chairman, and Mike Gaymon, President and CEO of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, were in attendance. MDV representatives at the event were Ed Brunot, MDV President and COO, John Hird, MDV, Vice President of Distribution and Logistics, Jon Kitts, Vice President of Customer Service and Business Development, and Bo Stuart, Sr. Distribution Director - Columbus.

“Nash Finch is an exciting addition to our community,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington. “The new jobs being created will provide the region with new opportunities at a time when job growth has been tight. Congratulations and thank you for choosing Columbus as the home of your new facility.”

“Today’s announcement is exciting for our region,” concluded Russ Carreker, chair of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce. “Today is a good example of what team work can accomplish. In the latest Manpower survey, Columbus MSA was number one in the country for job outlook in first quarter 2010. Projects like today will keep us on top of the chart. Columbus is on a roll. We look forward to seeing this project succeed.”

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flint Energies Re-Joins Oglethorpe Power System

Flint Energies, an electric cooperative based in Reynolds, Ga., has re-joined the Oglethorpe Power Corporation system after a five-year absence. Flint withdrew as an Oglethorpe Power member in 2004 but will now be eligible as one of Oglethorpe's 39 member cooperatives to participate in future electric generating facilities planned by the $6 billion power supply cooperative.

Bob Ray, president and CEO of Flint Energies, said Flint's renewed partnership with Oglethorpe Power will benefit the co-op by offering an increased array of options to ensure an adequate supply of reliable and affordable power for its customers.

"Despite the recent economic downturn, our system continues to grow," Ray said. "Re-joining Oglethorpe Power increases our flexibility and gives us more control over our future power supply resources."

Thomas A. Smith, president and CEO of Oglethorpe Power, welcomed Flint's decision to re-join Oglethorpe, noting that the co-op is one of the largest and fastest growing co-ops outside of metro Atlanta. "Flint's presence among our 39 Member Systems helps make us a stronger system overall," he said. "We are happy that they have chosen to become part of our family once again."

About Flint Energies

Incorporated in 1937, Flint Energies is a not-for-profit member-owned electric cooperative that provides energy services to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural members in parts of 17 central Georgia counties. Flint has 240 employees and serves more than 250,000 Georgians through 82,600 meters.

Flint's physical plant consists of nearly 6,300 miles of distribution line and 49 substations located within Bibb, Chattahoochee, Crawford, Dooly, Harris, Houston, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Muscogee, Peach, Schley, Sumter, Taylor, Talbot, Twiggs and Upson Counties.

The system also includes the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base and the Fort Benning military post. Flint is the eighth largest of Georgia's 42 EMCs and the 38th largest of the nation's nearly 1,000 rural electric cooperatives. Flint Energies is also a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, part of a nationwide family of electric cooperatives exhibiting the core values of integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Flint's members give their cooperative an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) score of 82, which rates higher than most investor-owned utilities in the country.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Phone Company Dials Wrong Number on Employees' Overtime

/PRNewswire/ -- AT&T, the nation's largest provider of phone and internet services, and its subsidiaries, Pacific Bell Telephone Co. ("PacBell") and BellSouth Telecommunications Co. ("BellSouth"), have been withholding as much as $1 billion in overtime wages from more than 5,000 of the company's First Level "Managers" throughout the country. That's the accusation at the heart of two class action lawsuits filed today in U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California in San Francisco and the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta by the law firm of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP.

The two class actions seek unpaid overtime wages for First Levels who worked for PacBell in California, BellSouth's 9-state region in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Kentucky, and nearly every other state in the union where the phone giant does business. The suits allege that AT&T violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state laws by carrying out a company-wide policy to wrongfully misclassify thousands of its Level One Managers as exempt from overtime wages.

The suits follow on the heels of a recent favorable class certification decision achieved by Sanford Wittels & Heisler for Level One Managers working for AT&T's Connecticut subsidiary, Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET). In a ruling issued in November, U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall dubbed SNET's opposition to class certification "disingenuous" and "unpersuasive." Under the Court's direction, Class Notice has been sent to all Connecticut First Level Managers, who according to Class Counsel could ultimately receive up to 50 million dollars or more in withheld overtime pay after trial.

"The Court's decision in Connecticut opens the network for thousands of other AT&T Level One Managers all over the country to finally get paid for the endless hours a year the Company expects them to work for free," said Steven L. Wittels, Lead Class Counsel.

AT&T, listed Number 8 on the Fortune 500, has revenues of over $100 billion a year and employs 294,600 workers worldwide. First Level "Managers" are ground troops in the multi-billion dollar operation, who perform primarily clerical duties and relay information between company management and its technicians in the field. AT&T and its operating subsidiaries require these employees to work upwards of sixty hours a week but claim that these workers do not deserve overtime pay.

"AT&T is in disconnect mode when it comes to its so-called managers," adds Lead Counsel Jeremy Heisler. "The company knows all too well that its 'Managers' have that title in name only, and lack the typical managerial responsibilities you associate with a manager," he says. "In fact, until the takeover by AT&T two years ago, BellSouth used to pay all its First Levels overtime. What changed? Nothing but the Company's desire to squeeze earned wages out of its employees' paychecks."

Joe Lewis Luque, a former AT&T Level One employee in Bakersfield, California and a named plaintiff in the San Francisco action, said: "They called me a manager, but that's the opposite of what I was. When I tried to fire a technician assigned to me who was high on drugs, my Manager told me 'Who the f--k do you think you are to fire someone?! You can't fire anyone. You don't have the authority.'" He adds that he worked ten to fourteen hours every day. "I was also on call 24-7 and often had to work all weekend, yet AT&T never paid me an extra dime."

The BellSouth Plaintiffs' complaint echoes their California brethren's experience. The complaint describes BellSouth's First Levels as "glorified clerks" who were expected to work excessive hours without compensation.

Representing the Plaintiffs in these actions are Steven L. Wittels, Jeremy Heisler, Andrew Melzer and Marc Litton in Sanford Wittels & Heisler's New York and San Francisco offices; David Sanford in the firm's Washington, D.C.; Michael Ram and Karl Olson of Ram & Olson, Of Counsel to the firm in San Francisco; Ed Buckley of Buckley & Klein, LLP in Atlanta, Georgia; and Edmond Clark in Madison, Connecticut.

The complaints against AT&T and its subsidiaries charge that the colossus telecommunications provider fails to pay its Level One employees overtime wages for work in excess of 40 hours a week and eight hours a day; fails to provide these workers with mandatory meal periods and rest breaks; and fails to keep accurate records of the hours these employees work. The suits allege that the Company deliberately mislabels its Level Ones as "management" in order to avoid its obligation to pay overtime to its workers.

The Plaintiffs' attorneys at Sanford Wittels & Heisler estimate the Company's liability at $1 billion. The class action suits demands that AT&T, PacBell, and BellSouth immediately stop their unlawful pay practices and pay Mr. Luque and all Level One "Managers" unpaid wages due to them plus all damages permitted by California and federal wage and hour laws.

"Because overtime laws help motivate companies to hire more workers to get the job done, they're the kind of economic stimulus that we can't overestimate in today's dire economic climate," states Plaintiffs' attorney Andrew Melzer.

Co-Counsel Edmond Clark adds that it's time for the phone Goliath to restore basic services to its workers. "For years the company used to pay its Connecticut Level Ones overtime, now it cut off its Florida workers' overtime. Paying your workers for all their time worked should be a basic operating plan of any company."

Class Counsel for the First Levels David Sanford has a message for the phone company's management: "Pay your workers. Overtime pay is a right, not a privilege. When it's 4 o'clock in the morning and your lower level workers are out there making sure your customers don't have a busy signal, you have to pay them for their sweat and labor. The law allows no excuses."

Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a renowned class action law firm with offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New Jersey that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, consumer and complex corporate class action litigation, and has obtained more than a hundred million dollars in recoveries for individuals represented in class action cases nationwide . The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, mass tort and personal injury matters. Individuals with knowledge of AT&T's wage practices are encouraged to contact Sanford Wittels & Heisler at: (646) 723-2947 or (202) 742-7448 or ATT-classaction@nydclaw.com; swittels@nydclaw.com; amelzer@nydclaw.com, or dsanford@nydclaw.com.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

QualityTech Launches Major Data Center Expansion in Atlanta

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Quality Technology Services (QualityTech), one of the nation’s largest privately-held providers of data center facilities and managed services, announced yesterday a 130,000 square foot build-out in its Metro data center located near downtown Atlanta. This expansion will be supported by the funds from QualityTech’s recent $150 million partnership with growth equity investor General Atlantic.

“Our partnership with General Atlantic has allowed QualityTech to start the next step in our phased build-out of the Metro Atlanta Data Center facility,” said Mark Waddington, President of QualityTech. “The addition of over 130,000 square feet of raised floor space and supporting infrastructure positions this facility as one of the world’s largest and most technologically-advanced data center facilities.”

Two large raised-floor pods will be added to the facility’s existing raised-floor footprint of 200,000 square feet. This expansion will complete 65% of the planned raised-floor capacity of the massive 990,000 square feet building and provide a total of 330,000 square feet of customer-ready raised floor. As QualityTech continues expanding its data center footprint, it becomes more important to develop innovative solutions in data center design, including the adoption of environmentally sustainable design practices. QualityTech’s design-build team has committed itself to follow philosophies and strategies for LEED certification, as outlined by the US Green Building Council and is planning to obtain LEED certification.

The Metro facility’s expansion will feature next-generation and green systems, including a Facilities Lab to test new energy conservation initiatives. The lab will focus on air and water economization technologies as well as new developments in power distribution and consumption technology. QualityTech will also deploy advanced cooling and delivery methods to the floor that will allow customers to reach even higher levels of power density. This coupled with many other improvements will make this QualityTech’s Greenest Data Center to date.

Over the past several years, QualityTech has steadily expanded its data center footprint to encompass more than two million square feet of data center real estate with 750,000 square feet of raised floor in production. QualityTech offers state-of-the-art data center solutions across the United States in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Silicon Valley, California; and two of the largest facilities in the country located in Georgia including a one million square feet facility in Atlanta. Focused on providing flexible options, QualityTech hosts more than 1,000 customers ranging from a single cabinet to 100,000+ square feet custom suites. QualityTech caters to customized solutions that meet the diverse needs of large enterprise customers and currently has space ready for deployment in sizes up to 20,000 square feet in Atlanta and up to 15,000 square feet in Santa Clara. The company’s full suite of advanced managed service offerings includes network, operating system and storage solutions.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

New National Guide for Donors Recognizes CCCS of Greater Atlanta as Foreclosure Prevention Leader

/PRNewswire/ -- In a newly-released national guide that identifies nonprofit organizations making the greatest difference helping people suffering in the current economic crisis, Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta has been cited as a nationally recognized leader in effective housing counseling.

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania recently published the guide, called "High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn." The guide targets nonprofits that are preventing foreclosures, sustaining primary and preventive health programs and ensuring access to food. It provides descriptions of high-impact models for donors to fund, "cost per impact" estimates for each philanthropic opportunity, tips on finding and assessing local agencies and contact information for leading nonprofits.

CCCS of Greater Atlanta was cited as a "Model in Practice" for effective foreclosure prevention counseling in the investment guide. The guide says the nonprofit agency's low "cost per impact" is a major reason it is a model in foreclosure prevention counseling.

"The purpose of the guide was to identify where philanthropic capital could make a meaningful difference addressing the suffering caused by the current economic downturn," explained Katherina Rosqueta, executive director, Center for High Impact Philanthropy. "For donors focused on maximizing the social impact of their gifts, CCCS of Greater Atlanta's work represents great bang for the philanthropic buck."

In recognizing the Atlanta-based nonprofit, the guide says: "We estimate that it costs CCCS of Atlanta approximately $300 to keep one client in his or her home and avoid foreclosure activity for a year. By comparison, industry wide, the cost ranges from $500 to $3,800, based on the complexity of the issue."

The guide attributes several factors to CCCS of Greater Atlanta's strong "cost-per-impact" profile, such as its 45 years of experience working with people in financial distress; its strong commitment to data-driven decisions and investments in data management systems and its strong, professional culture that is reflected in its working relationships with mortgage servicers.

Suzanne Boas, president of CCCS of Greater Atlanta, said the agency is honored to be recognized by The Center for High Impact Philanthropy and hopes more homeowners will contact the agency to receive help to avoid foreclosure.

"We hope homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments will not hesitate to call us to receive professional counseling at no cost," said Boas. "We realize that each and every homeowner is going through a difficult economic period and one of our housing counselors can help them understand all of their options, including how to avoid foreclosure."

In 2008, CCCS of Greater Atlanta answered more than 175,000 telephone calls from homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure and provided foreclosure prevention counseling to more than 73,000 homeowners. This year, the agency anticipates that it will be provide foreclosure prevention counseling to more than 90,000 homeowners across the nation.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Comcast-NBC deal finds donors converging with administration

The proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal will be the first big test of the Obama administration's stance on the hot-button issue of media consolidation.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/70769-comcast-nbc-deal-finds-campaign-cash-converging-with-obamas-principles

By Kim Hart

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coca-Cola Commits to Climate-Friendly Refrigeration Through Engagement with Greenpeace

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Days before the United Nations summit on climate change begins in Copenhagen, The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners today announced that 100 percent of their new vending machines and coolers will be hydrofluorocarbon-free (HFC-free) by 2015. Coca-Cola is committing to use its scale to aggregate demand and encourage supply as a means of accelerating the transition to HFC-free refrigeration equipment. This announcement is a direct result of work with Greenpeace that began in 2000, and a demonstration that phasing out the use of HFCs is a tangible and near-term action corporations can take to protect the climate.

The transition to HFC-free refrigeration will reduce the equipment’s direct greenhouse gas emissions by 99 percent. A recent peer-reviewed report by top scientists shows that HFCs will be responsible for between 28 percent and 45 percent of carbon-equivalent emissions by 2050 if society reduces carbon dioxide while leaving HFCs unchecked. Eliminating HFCs in the commercial refrigeration industry would be equivalent to eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions of Germany or Japan.

“Climate change is real and the time to act on solutions is now,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Greenpeace has played a critical role in raising our awareness about the need for natural refrigeration. Our announcement today demonstrates a commitment to use our influence in the marketplace to drive innovation and help shape a low-carbon future.”

This step by Coca-Cola will help accelerate a market shift in commercial refrigeration away from HFCs. The Coca-Cola Company has invested more than $50 million in research and development to advance the use of climate-friendly cooling technologies. In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners will purchase a minimum of 150,000 units of HFC-free equipment, effectively doubling the current rate of purchase to enable alignment with an interim goal to purchase 50 percent of all new coolers and vending machines without HFCs by 2012.

The Company and its bottling partners have approximately 10 million coolers and vending machines in place today around the world, comprising the largest element of the Coca-Cola system’s total climate impact. As a result of the commitment to eliminate the use of HFCs in this equipment, carbon emission reductions will exceed 52.5 million metric tons over the life of the equipment – the equivalent of taking more than 11 million cars off the road for one year.

“We welcome Coca-Cola’s commitment to help tackle climate change; large enterprises have both an opportunity and responsibility to change the game and Coca-Cola’s action leaves no excuse for other companies not to follow,” said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International.

Coca-Cola currently utilizes two HFC-free solutions. Hydrocarbon refrigeration is used in smaller refrigeration equipment and carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in larger equipment. CO2 is a safe, reliable and energy efficient alternative with positive characteristics as a refrigerant. It does not deplete the ozone layer and it is 1,430 times less damaging to the climate than a typical HFC.

Already, as a direct result of Coca-Cola’s supply chain engagement, a major supplier has communicated its intention to build a dedicated CO2 compressor production facility, helping to meet the growing demand for HFC-free refrigeration options throughout the industry.

“Addressing climate change requires leadership and collaboration,” said Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Just days away from the negotiations in Copenhagen, this announcement by Coca-Cola and Greenpeace demonstrates that investments in low-carbon technologies can make business sense.”

This announcement is a direct result of discussions with Greenpeace that began in the run-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Greenpeace challenged Coca-Cola to go HFC-free in all of the equipment it supplied to the Games. By the Torino Games in 2006 and the Beijing Games in 2008, the Company was using all HFC-free technology at Olympic venues. For the past five years, the relationship between Greenpeace and Coca-Cola has become increasingly cooperative as both sought a cost-effective alternative to HFCs.

“At Coca-Cola, we are deploying our scale and working with suppliers to deliver cost effective alternatives to HFC, for us and for others,” said Rick Frazier, Vice President, Supply Chain, The Coca-Cola Company.

“Greenpeace increasingly works with businesses to make fundamental manufacturing and sourcing changes by connecting regulation, economies of scale and supply chain security,” said Amy Larkin, Director of Greenpeace Solutions. “Coca-Cola’s commitment today runs ahead of regulation and takes some fear out of rapid change.”

Coolers and vending machines impact the climate in three ways: through direct energy use (operating the machine), through chemicals used in the machine's insulation foam, and by leakage or improper end-of-life disposal of the refrigerant gas used in the cooling system. In addition to its refrigerant gas commitment, Coca-Cola developed a proprietary energy management system (EMS) that delivers energy savings of up to 35 percent and has placed over 1.7 million of these units around the world. In 2006, the Company completed the transition to HFC-free insulation foam for all new purchases of refrigeration equipment. Together, HFC-free insulation and HFC-free refrigerant will generate 99 percent fewer direct greenhouse emissions than traditional equipment.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Old Time Pottery to Hold Liquidation Sale in 8 Store Locations

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Old Time Pottery, a leading home decorations discount retailer, will conduct a liquidation sale in eight of its store locations as part of the Company’s strategic reorganization plan, following its bankruptcy filing in August 2009. The sale, which is just in time for the holiday season, will begin on December 3, 2009 and will be managed by Hudson Capital Partners, LLC. Old Time Pottery’s additional 29 locations will remain opened and will continue to operate as usual.

In a sale that is expected to last around 8 weeks, inventory valued at approximately $15.5 million will be completely liquidated at below-market prices. Customers can expect to find a wide range of housewares, including glassware, dinnerware, framed art, linens, rugs and craft supplies, seasonal decorations, mirrors, wall d├ęcor, lamps, candles, silk plants and other home accents. The liquidation sale will take place at eight Old Time Pottery stores located in Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Ohio and North Carolina.

“For nearly 25 years, consumers continue to look to Old Time Pottery for its exceptional selection of discounted home accessories and decorations,” said Jim Schaye, president and CEO of Hudson Capital Partners. “We are anticipating the merchandise to move quickly, as the sale offers consumers an excellent opportunity to buy great holiday gifts at discounts on already great prices.”

Old Time Pottery Store Locations to Hold Liquidation Sale:

3682 Ridgeway Road Memphis TN
3625 Sweetwater Road Duluth GA
7400 Douglas Blvd Douglasville GA
3601 S Elm Place Broken Arrow OK
10785 Lincoln Dr Fairview Heights IL
5880 E State St Rockford IL
651 Lyons Rd Dayton OH
3700 S. Holden Rd Greensboro NC

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peanut Industry Weathers Storms as Consumers Return to the All-American Staple

/PRNewswire/ -- According to U.S. Department of Agriculture's November crop report, U.S. peanut farmers continue to face challenges as persistent rains and flooding throughout the Southeast have made this year's harvest a challenging one. With rain accumulations in the majority of these regions totaling 200 percent of normal or more, harvest in 3 of the 4 largest peanut-producing states has been delayed and crop forecasts are down 30 percent from last year. But despite the wet field conditions, America's peanut farmers and their families have something to be thankful for this holiday season as retail data shows a dramatic increase in peanut butter sales as consumers move past January's product recall.

In January, farmers watched recalled peanut products being pulled from shelves while unaffected peanut products, such as peanut butter, sat unpurchased. Through the National Peanut Board's (NPB) integrated marketing campaign - incorporating public relations, advertising and special events - farmers were front and center before the consumers who buy their products to allay concerns and remind consumers of the great taste of peanuts and peanut butter and its role in a healthy diet.

"We were brokenhearted to see a crop we raised and relied upon for our family's success involved in such a large food recall due to negligence of one food manufacturer," said Roger Neitsch, a Texas peanut farmer and Chairman of the NPB. "Although we weren't responsible for the manufacturing problem, we knew we had to do something."

Their efforts are achieving dramatic results; peanut butter sales continue to recover from a devastating 19.42 percent drop in volume during the January recall to positive volume growth for peanut butter in all outlets as early as March 2009. Back-to-school season in August was an important test of confidence for the American consumer and data showed an 18.6 percent increase in volume over the same period in 2008.

"Peanut farmers are passionate about what they do and the food they grow," said Raffaela Marie Fenn, NPB's president and managing director. "When the research pointed to a high degree of confusion and misperception among consumers, our farmers jumped at the opportunity to speak directly with consumers to ease their concerns."

With increases in peanut butter volume sales recorded every month since March the efforts of the industry have paid off and are proving to be a sunny spot in an otherwise rainy harvest season. Before October, many peanut producers were expecting an especially productive harvest but uncommon and heavy rains have proven to be the next challenge to hit America's peanut farmers.

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AirTran Airways Agents Reject Representation by International Association of Machinists

/PRNewswire/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AAI) , today announced that its customer service, ramp and Reservations agents have rejected representation by the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

The National Mediation Board (NMB) notified AirTran Airways today that they have dismissed the IAM's petition for a representation election because the group failed to garner the required 35 percent of eligible agents to sign representation cards requesting an election. The Board cited an "insufficient showing of interest" in its dismissal notification to both parties.

This is the fifth time since 1998 that this work group has elected to forgo representation. The company has ramp and customer service agents located in airports around the country while the Reservations agents are located in three cities -- Atlanta, Carrollton, and Savannah, Ga.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TIO Networks to Launch Self-Service Bill Payment Program in Georgia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--TIO Networks Corp., (TSX.V:TNC), North America’s leading multi-channel expedited bill payment processor, and electric utility Georgia Power today announced the launch of a self-service automated bill payment program in select retail stores in metropolitan Atlanta. The self-service, cash-accepting automated kiosks will enable Georgia Power customers to make bill payments via TIO’s expedited bill payment processing system.

The kiosks are expected to be fully operational this winter. Using the touchscreen interface, customers will navigate through bill-pay applications in either English or Spanish, and insert cash directly into self-serve automated kiosks to securely complete transactions. All payments will be posted immediately to the customers’ account. The customers will have the option to either print or forward receipts to an email address of their choice. Users will pay a $2 convenience fee per transaction.

“We are thrilled to team up with Georgia Power in offering customers the convenience of real-time bill payment services,” said Hamed Shahbazi Chairman & CEO of TIO Networks Corp. “Our bill payment service has proven to be a hit with Utilites throughout the United States in providing their customers with last minute bill payment options to avoid late-fees and disruption of essential services.”

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US Airways Pilots Ask Department of Justice to Investigate US Airways/Delta Transaction

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) announced November 30 that it is seeking a full investigation on the impact of a proposed slot, gate and facility transaction between US Airways (LCC) and Delta Airlines at New York’s LaGuardia and Washington’s Reagan National airports. In a letter to Christine Varney, assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, USAPA stated that this transaction may have serious antitrust concerns.

“We are extremely concerned about the market concentration that this transaction would create if it is allowed to be consummated,” said USAPA President Mike Cleary. “Those conditions raise the prospect of much higher fares and, if history repeats itself, a reduction in service to smaller communities. It also places a great burden on many of US Airways’ New York-based employees whose jobs will be eliminated and will cause financial harm to the New York City and tri-state economy. With all that is at stake, the transaction warrants a thorough review of the consequences of a deal that creates this level of market domination.”

The proposed transaction calls for the transfer of 125 pairs of New York’s LaGuardia Airport slots from US Airways to Delta Airlines and 42 pairs of Washington’s Reagan National Airport slots from Delta Airlines to US Airways. A pair of slots is both a takeoff and a landing right. In addition, US Airways proposes to transfer what USAPA believes to be LaGuardia Airport’s most coveted real estate and gates to Delta Airlines.

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