There are probably not too many 18-year-olds whom you could have a lively conversation with about the challenges of inventing a porridge/Genoese mix Scottish breakfast cake, decorated with a blue and white fondant Scottish flag. No wonder that the inventor of that particular regional delicacy, Kyle Hendry, made an impression on judges of the Trainee Baker of the Year Award at the Baking Industry Awards last year.Hendry, who just finished his bakery modern apprenticeship with supplier Macphie of Glenbervie at the end of March this year, was picked as the winner of the coveted Trainee Baker Award in 2010, a category sponsored by skills training council Improve and the National Skills Academy. Hendry says that experimenting with new types of food and trying new recipes was the highlight of his apprenticeship period and now of his day-to-day job at the Scottish food ingredients supplier. “Now and again you come out with something that is really good and that is exciting,” he says.Entering the baking industryBaking is definitely Hendry’s niche in life, but he says he was not aware that there was even such a thing as a baking industry when he was at school, although he always thought that he “wanted to be something in the food industry”. His mum, who worked at food ingredients manufacturer Macphie, put him in touch with the firm about work experience placements when he was only 15. He immediately became very interested in baking and that led to him starting a bakery apprenticeship with the company when he was 16. “Before Macphie I did not have a clue that there even was a baking industry,” says Hendry. “I don’t think that there is enough publicity about baking; young people are not told about it as a career option. Among all my friends, I am the only person I know who has gone into the industry.”Sponsor’s comment:”Apart from his high level technical skills, one of the things that stood out about Kyle Hendry was his passion for his job and for bakery. He is completely fascinated by all things bread and that really shone through to judges.”He is never afraid to speak up, so that makes him a good ambassador for his company and for the whole baking industry.”Jack Matthews, chief executive, Improve the food & drink skills councilThe presentHendry’s apprenticeship period with Macphie is now complete and he is a qualified baker, with an SVQ in baking. Macphie automatically took him on as a member of staff, and his day-to-day job with the company includes working out technical challenges and refining recipes and ingredients, as well as developing new ones. He also enjoys travelling to meet Macphie’s customers to help with recipes in their bakeries and to show them new products.The apprenticeshipKyle Hendry’s apprenticeship period at Macphie of Glenbervie included being sent out to work in various craft bakery companies, to experience life as a baker on a day-to-day basis, he says. He also worked on special projects on dough and confectionery, such as his Scottish breakfast cake. Throughout, he was encouraged to experiment with recipes and also take part in competitions in the baking industry.One competition he entered was the James Allan Memorial Trophy, a national competition run by the Scottish Bakery Training Council.He produced a rustic French cob and a four seasons gateau for the event in the course of a day’s baking. The attention to detail and craftmanship that he displayed led judges to award him the highly-respected James Allan trophy. That early win helped to inspire him to enter the Trainee Baker of the Year category at the Baking Industry Awards in 2010, supported by his employer.Once again, he impressed judges with both his talent for baking and the dedication to the industry in evidence even at such an early stage in his career.The futureIn the longer term, Hendry says that he has not mapped out a definite career path as yet. August will be the third anniversary of his starting out to work at Macphie, and his job there ticks all the boxes for him at the moment. He comments: “I do not know where life will take me really. I have not really thought about it yet. I would love to travel and to move abroad somewhere eventually.”And a fine overseas ambassador for the baking industry he would no doubt make.
Thank you very much.AI Summit is one of the highlights of London Tech Week and it’s a real pleasure to be with you here this morning.The word summit in this context was actually coined by Winston Churchill in the 1950s, and in many ways Churchill was an AI pioneer, although he wouldn’t have known it at the time.In 1941, he set up the Central Statistical Office with the aim of ‘ensuring coherence of statistical information’ across various departments.The reason was that he knew that the more sophisticated the data we had, the more it could be shared and the greater benefits that could result.And as a tribute, one of our Government’s biggest data analysis programmes is now called Churchill.Because all connections, no matter how big or small, can spark conversations, innovations and new opportunities. That is what makes AI so exciting and that is why we are all here today.Technology is at its most powerful when it is no longer novel but ubiquitous and cheap.And when technology drives down the cost of sharing and processing information, the consequences can be phenomenal.This is what is taking place with AI and the pace of change is only going to get exponentially greater in the coming years.And the challenge for all of us is how we wrestle with the incredible force of these new technologies and channel it for the common good.Our digital economy is leading the world, powered by these new technologies like AI.The UK is Europe’s leading tech hub and we generate more billion dollar tech businesses than any other country on the continent.And our inward AI investment stood at one billion pounds last year, more than Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland combined.But this is only part of the picture, albeit an important part.We also need to channel the societal benefits of emerging tech, and protect against those who want to use and develop technology in a harmful way.Because the opportunities are far too great to be lost because as a society could not agree the right path.So I wanted to talk today about the work we are doing as a Government to get this right and to make the most of AI.AI Sector DealOur Industrial Strategy identified AI and data as one of four Grand Challenges, an area where the UK has the potential to lead the world for years to come.Because we have all the right conditions for success.World leading universities, great access to finance and trusted public institutions like the NHS that can pioneer data-driven innovation.And we have so many organisations at the cutting edge – in biomedicine, law, finance, research, cybersecurity – that all can become even stronger through using AI in their operations, products and services.To capitalise on this, we launched our AI Sector Deal last year, with around a billion pounds of support for the sector, including contributions from Government, industry and academia.Since the publication of that Deal, the momentum has continued and we have seen a raft of major announcements to promote the positive use of AI all across the UK.That includes the establishment of the new Government-backed Bayes Centre in Edinburgh, a world-leading hub for data science and AI.Fifty million pounds for five new centres of excellence for digital pathology and imaging, including radiology, using AI medical advances.And from this Autumn, completely exempting PhD-level roles from the visa caps.But there is still so much more to do. AI is getting smarter and faster and so Governments need to work hard to keep pace.And there are two important areas that I see as crucial if we are to succeed in this AI revolution – a strong skills base and clear ethical foundations.SkillsFirst, skills. AI, like all transformative technologies, is due to have a profound impact on our labour market.And the best way to futureproof our economy is to make sure we have a digitally skilled workforce at all levels.And there is a clear demand for one. A report released today by Tech Nation and Dealroom shows there were 1.7 million digital tech economy job openings across the UK last year.And that new technologies are creating roles with salaries that are on average 10 per cent higher than average.We cannot choose whether AI will be transformative but we can choose whether these exciting new jobs will be created here in the UK.So we can capitalise on these new jobs, whilst supporting those who need to retrain.Because digital skills cannot be seen as an add-on. They are fundamental to success in the digital age.And it is the role of Governments and employers to provide an environment where people can develop these skills.Digital learning is not the preserve of classrooms and lecture halls. The rapid pace of change means that we will all need to keep learning so we can keep abreast of the skills we need.The Government is already offering a whole spectrum skills package, from lifelong digital skills training through the Digital Skills Partnership to a revamped Computer Science curriculum in schools.That is alongside a new adult digital skills entitlement to support basic training and a new National Retraining Scheme to help people re-skill and up-skill as the economy changes.We are also investing 84 million pounds in a new National Centre for Computing Education, led by some of the UK’s leading tech experts, to give teachers the subject knowledge and support they need to teach the next generation of talent.And only this week, the Prime Minister announced that we will invest up to 13.5 million pounds in new conversion courses to grow specialist AI and Data skills.This scheme will provide another 2,500 places at universities throughout England, and will sponsor up to 1,000 of those places to improve diversity and representation in the future AI workforce.Diversity and ethicsDiversity in the tech sector is important. Not just because it is morally right, but because it is critical to addressing some of the challenges we face as a society.And just as we encourage diversity in public life, because it improves decision making and leads to a greater diversity of thought, the same applies for technology too.Businesses that understand their customers and communities and give them what they want will be those that thrive, especially in competitive and fast moving industries like AI.And diversity is particularly important for this sector. The algorithms and structures that govern AI will only be effective if they do not reflect the subconscious biases of the programmers who create them.So a diverse workforce is imperative if we are to shape this technology for good.And the Government is passionate about getting the foundations of this technology right, and playing our part in the global debates.Whilst we are optimistic about the potential of AI, it raises many new ethical questions, that would have seemed like issues from science fiction only a few years ago.Last week Microsoft asked for greater guidance for how to handle facial recognition data because of the “broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse”.These are exactly the kind of issues that we want to explore through our recently established Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation.It’s a world-leading advisory body designed to make sure data and AI delivers the best possible outcomes for society, in support of their innovative and ethical use.The Centre is already working on some groundbreaking projects, including reviews on the use of online targeting, and the potential for bias in the use of algorithms.Just as countries came together to set new standards for protecting personal data through GDPR, now is the time to seek solutions to the ethical challenges that lie even further ahead.Because there is a real threat that emerging issues like deep fakes and state-sponsored disinformation will colour the public’s perception of new technologies and act as a barrier to adoption.We all have a part to play in setting out a positive vision for AI and how it can make our journeys safer, our environment cleaner and our services smarter.But we can only do this if we can give assurances that we are pursuing a safe and ethical path for this technology.Our work on data trusts is one example of this.As we all know, data is the infrastructure upon which AI services are built.And the free flow of information and of data is fundamental to the advancement of innovation and growth.But it has to take place within frameworks that respect the rights of organisations and individuals to whom that data pertains.They need to know about it, and consent to it, and they need to be assured that it is being used in the way they expect – delivering better services to them as individuals, or unlocking untapped value of their data for organisations.That’s why, earlier this year, the Office for AI worked with the Open Data Institute to pilot data trusts.This is a world first, bringing together organisations taking the first steps to sharing data in a safe, fair and ethical way to tackle global problems.Like food waste, the international illegal wildlife trade, and sharing urban data to deliver better services to citizens.This pilot has been illuminating. And it has made it clear how building a consensus in this area, not just between organisations, but between nations, is so important.And the UK is a leader in this field.AI technologies are infinitely replicable. If one of us builds a technology then it is open for all.So to make the most of new digital technologies, we need to work together and build common ground.It is more important than ever that we work with like minded companies, organisations and countries, to make sure new technologies develop in a way that reflects our shared democratic values.ConclusionBecause no technology is intrinsically good or harmful.History will only show that the AI revolution is a successful one if we work hard to put the right conditions in place.And that means access to digital skills so everyone can benefit and the ethical foundations to steer it in the right direction.In this week of all weeks, let us celebrate the progress we have made in making the UK a natural home for this exciting new technology.And let’s renew our efforts to make sure we keep the flame burning brighter and to make sure this technology remains transformative, safe and open.Because if we get this right, AI can be the motor behind a healthier economy and a fairer economy.And that is what we must aspire to in this digital age.Thank you very much.
The McCambridge Group has confirmed the sale of its private-label cake division this morning.The Blackburn-based bakery firm’s own-label cake business, which produces a range of cakes and pies for leading retailers, has been sold to private equity group NBGI Private Equity.The cake division currently employs 637 members of staff at its UK bakeries in Manchester, Bradford, Blackburn and Salisbury, as well as a further 259 employees working at its manufacturing site Szczecin in Poland.The company said it had been approached in October by a number of third parties and was considering potential buyers for the business. McCambridge would not disclose the value of the sale, but confirmed that no redundancies would be made as a result of the move.Simon Webber, chairman of the McCambridge Group, said: “The cake division has great growth potential. A strategic review, coupled with approaches from interested parties, led us to establish that the division would benefit from being demerged and managed as a separate entity. We are delighted that the business has been sold to NBGI Private Equity, which has a track record in owning businesses in the food industry. The successful sale of the cake division is a great credit to all management and employees.”He added that McCambridge would be focusing on developing its additional two divisions, which includes its malt loaf and fruit loaf brand Soreen, and its Irish McCambridge bakery business which produces soda bread in Ireland.
A hypothetical scenario: You’re living your best life with your squad at Coachella, taking dope Insta selfies and showing all your followers how great you are at dancing like nobody’s watching, and your hippie-chic designer shades fall in the desert dust and get stomped on by a Chad in a neon tank top. You need new ones stat, or else you may lose out on some likes—and you can’t have that. What do you do? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves before…No? Really? Well, maybe not you, specifically, but that must’ve happened to somebody, because Coachella has announced a new solution to that problem: The desert mega-festival will offer Amazon Lockers on the event grounds this year, allowing attendees to receive Amazon delivery packages during the fest. What a time to be alive, amirite?Ahead of this year’s Coachella, set to take place over two weekends in April (4/12–4/14 and 4/19–4/21), Amazon will launch a dedicated Coachella Amazon Locker online storefront. Attendees will be able to order a wide range of items for delivery directly to the Lockers on the event grounds. Once the items are delivered, the customer will receive a bar code that they’ll use to grab their package from the specified locker. As Tech Crunch notes, this will mark the first time Amazon will set up temporary lockers outside of disaster relief efforts.Related: Sirius XM’s Jam On Was Hijacked By Coachella, And People Are Super Pissed“We want customers to make the most out of their weekend at Coachella,” Patrick Supanc, Amazon Worldwide Director of Lockers and Pickup, explained in a statement about Amazon’s Coachella plans. “Bringing the convenience of Amazon Lockers to Coachella will help customers focus on their experience instead of worrying about forgetting something at home or having to carry it in with them.”Good news for the festival’s patrons. Bad news for the enterprising dude selling odds and ends in the campgrounds.[H/T TechCrunch]
The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) has announced the recipients of the 2010 Summer Employment Opportunity (SEO) grant funds. These funds will be used to provide academic and occupational summer experiences to eligible youth ages 14-21, with an emphasis on serving youth over 16 who are not in school.While the 2010 program was smaller than 2009 because ARRA funding is no longer available, the department had $125,000 to award for this important program. Applications totaled almost seven times that much money, indicating how great the need is. Applicants responded to a Request for Proposal, describing their programs in detail. The applications were reviewed and scored by a multi-agency committee and awards were made based on those scores, populations to be served, geographic mix, cost per participant, occupations involved and their connection to real jobs, and the past performance of the applicant.The following projects were awarded funds and will begin recruiting participants soon:Laraway SchoolLaraway’s program is designed to serve the neediest youth, primarily those at risk of dropping out, youth in foster care, court involved youth, and youth of incarcerated parents. Participants come from all over Vermont, with the majority currently residing in Lamoille, Washington, and Orleans Counties. They will receive literacy and math instruction as well as occupational and post-secondary opportunities. Each will identify one of the following areas of interest: Conservation and Recreation Management, Agriculture, or Health and Human Services and will complete a community project or service.Linking Learning to Life, Inc. (LLL)The TIPS program, Training Interns and Partnering for Success, created by LLL, has been adapted to partner with the Vermont Lake Monsters to place high risk Chittenden County youth in summer employment at Centennial Field in Burlington. A second work site at Gutterson Field House was added last year. In addition to paid work experience, the program will include career exploration, soft skill training, resume writing, and interview techniques.Smokey House CenterFor 36 years, Smokey House has been providing work-based learning opportunities to disadvantaged youth in the Rutland and Bennington area. Participants will work in small crews 4 days a week during the summer learning basic academic, occupational, and work readiness skills by engaging in natural resource management work projects, utilizing their farm and forest lands.The Tutorial Center, Inc.The Tutorial Center, in collaboration with the University of Vermont Extension (UVM), will run summer job training programs in Bennington, Brattleboro, and Manchester. The Summer Work and Learn program offers at-risk youth a paid work opportunity in educational gardens and farmers’ markets, building transferable skills by growing and preparing healthy food, managing tasks as a team, and providing customer service. The 2010 programs will include more leadership opportunities for youth, who will train volunteers at schools and community gardens, and will increase opportunities for applied academics by making the gardens available to teachers.Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC)VYCC will run two Career Development Crews, with 10 members each, one based in Richmond and one in Rutland. The crews will be non-residential, and will receive technical skills training relevant to environmental conservation, such as trail construction, design, and project management. Also included will be general job readiness skills in the areas of communication, problem solving, planning, and evaluation. Basic academic skills will be enhanced through VYCC’s WoRD (Writing, Reading, and Discussion) program-group discussions based on relevant articles.All youth who participate will be paid Vermont minimum wage ($8.06/hr) by the Vermont Department of Labor. For more information about the Summer Employment Opportunity or to find out about the referral process please call your local VDOL office http://labor.vermont.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=285(link is external)Source: VDOL. 4.1.2010-30-
Among the variety of improvements at Vermont’s ski resorts, a certain theme rings clear. Each ski area listens to its guests and is creating the best possible experience for their extended family of snowsports enthusiasts. According to the Vermont Ski Areas Association, here are the latest upgrades for the coming season:Bromley Mountain ResortBromley went on a shopping spree and brought home about $675,000 worth of goods, systems and equipment to enhance the experience of skiers and riders:· A Prinoth Bison winch-cat will groom the steepest terrain with relative ease, providing a better, more consistent product for the most advanced skiers and riders.· An AEBI mountain mower will run throughout the off-season and mow terrain that was inaccessible. Improved snowmaking coverage and better trail and slope maintenance will ensue. This, coupled with the fact that Bromley’s trail system was engineered to be skiable on four inches of snow, will make for a better on-slope experience mountain-wide.· 300 new sets of Adult Rental Equipment from HEAD that will dramatically heighten the downhill experience while eliminating time-consuming binding length adjustments. Skis will be categorized by “sole size” making the whole rental process positively speedy. · New industry-specific ticketing software from Siriusware, streamlining ticketing and ski school purchases as well as e-commerce.· A newly constructed drop off area, enhancing guests’ arrival and improving traffic flow into and out of the entry plaza.Burke MountainNEK Sampler: This season, Burke Mountain is excited to introduce two new value cards. The Kingdom Sampler and the Ski Free Card are designed to introduce guests to the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont and save money on lift tickets.Priced at $69, the Kingdom Sampler Card includes one full day lift ticket at Burke Mountain, one Burke Mountain campsite rental, one Vermont beer sampler flight or Vermont root beer float at the Tamarack Grill, one summer Kingdom Trails day pass, one Nordic Kingdom Trails day pass, 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and 10% off lodging at the Carriage House Motel & Burke Mountain Campground, located on the Kingdom Trails. The Ski Free Card offers discounted lift tickets all season and every 5th visit is free. The Ski Free Card also includes 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and one complimentary pre-season tune up.Nordic Operations: Burke Mountain cross-country terrain is managed by Kingdom Trails and this season they will be making significant improvements to the skating trail network. For more information, please visit www.kingdomtrails.com(link is external) and www.skiburke.com(link is external).Jay Peak ResortJay Peak Resort welcomes visitors this winter with $13 million in improvements. Topping the list are increases in snowmaking coverage, an enclosed beginner lift, a new Nordic center, an indoor ice arena, a parking garage, a state-of-the-art ticketing system, and a new groomer. The enhancements are part of the resort’s ongoing $120 million revitalization effort. Phase 1 of the expansion at Jay Peak is complete with the Tram Haus Lodge that opened in December of 2009, a brand new Ice Haus arena that opened in May 2010, and the Nordic Center/Golf Clubhouse that opened its doors in June of 2010.New in lodging: 57 luxury suites in the Tram Haus lodge, three deluxe condominium suites at the Golf Clubhouse.New in dining: Alice’s Table at the Tram Haus Lodge features a Vermont-inspired menu, the Clubhouse Grille restaurant and bar offers American-style food, and the Tower Bar at the Tram Haus Lodge has lighter fare and appetizers. The Ice Haus Arena has its own heated snack bar and café, and the Aroma Café offers beverages and snacks.New in recreational activities:The Ice Haus arena features an NHL-sized rink with room for 700 spectators, and offers skating lessons, hockey games and curling tournaments. The Golf Clubhouse is available for golfers in the summer and serves as a Nordic Ski Center during the winter. The Taiga Spa & Fitness Center at the Tram Haus Lodge is available for massage therapy and spa treatments, as well as fitness and yoga classes.Jay Peak has also broken ground for the next phase of expansion – the “new” Hotel Jay, which will feature 170 rooms, offer three additional restaurant options, and an indoor water park, expected to open in early 2012. The water park will feature a state-of-the-art retractable roof for year-round access. It will have one of the longest indoor rivers in North America, a kamikaze straight drop (the first indoor of its kind in North America) and a double Flow Rider surf machine. There will also be an area available for smaller children.Killington ResortSnowmaking upgrades top the list of summer projects, including trunk line replacements, energy efficiency upgrades, pump re-builds and a new cooling system at the South Ridge Pump House.In addition to building up its arsenal of Lower Energy snow guns, including two new fan guns that will be positioned near the bottom of the Superstar and Snowshed trails, Killington will continue to partner with Efficiency Vermont to improve the overall efficiency of its snowmaking system. One such project that was started two years ago and continued over the 2010 summer was the application of a coating to the inside of the pumps that reduces friction and energy needed to pump water throughout the 88-mile system.A new cooling system that drops the temperature of compressed air from 120+ degrees down to ambient outside temperatures at the South Ridge Pump House will improve efficiency by using much less energy than the old cooling system. Mountain Improvements Continue with Trail Re-grading: Crews continue to work on numerous improvements throughout the resort as they prepare for the upcoming winter season. In fact, Killington currently has six excavators and a backhoe on the hill working on trail re-grading and snowmaking projects.Crews have completed trail re-grading on the upper Skyewalker/Bittersweet area to improve skier/rider flow and reduce congestion at the intersection. Next up will be re-grading the top portion of Bittersweet where it intersects Great Eastern. Blasting work has removed rocky areas on the Great Eastern Trail near the top of the Needle’s Eye Express. The remnants of last fall’s Killington Hay Festival are also being recycled for the re-vegetation projects in these areas.The old control room for the Superstar Express was removed and in its place will be a new control room and a new electric drive control for the lift. Killington also replaced seat cushions on a number of chairlifts and continued to refinish and re-paint several lifts as well, including the towers on the Sunrise Triple, Bear Mountain Quad chairs, Snowdon Triple towers and the upper terminal of the Needle’s Eye Express.Mad River GlenOver fifteen years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested more than $4 million in capital improvements. Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. “We don’t want to mess with a winning combination,” President Jamey Wimble explains. The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. New shareholders will know that their support will enable the Co-op to fulfill its mission of protecting and preserving Mad River Glen’s unique ski experience for future generations.Magic MountainThe Magic Partnership, LLC: In an effort to save Magic Mountain and raise capital to invest in the infrastructure the ski area has begun selling shares in the area. More Efficient Snowmaking: Magic Mountain continues to improve the snowmaking operations with increased efficiency through renovated air and water snowmaking lines and a streamlined process to making snow.Magic Card: The Magic Card offers discounts for skiers and riders all season long for only $39.00. The Magic card gives holders $25.00 midweek lift tickets and $10 off weekends and holidays all season long. Magic 3-Pack: In its second season, the Magic –Pack, offers a tremendous savings on day tickets throughout the season. For only $125.00 Magic skiers and riders can purchase 3 lift tickets valid anytime. For more details go to www.magicmtn.com(link is external).Middlebury College Snow BowlThe Snow Bowl has made two improvements yielding increased terrain: the popular Cameron Trail has been widened significantly for ’10-’11 and a glade has been added between the Lang and Cameron trails.Mount Snow ResortMount Snow continues its pursuit of the perfect snow conditions. With off-season improvements to its snowmaking infrastructure, the clear priority is making sure its guests have the best snow conditions, period. With the most Fan Guns in North America, Mount Snow is able to cover its trails with the highest quality snow from day one, opening with top to bottom coverage and a full terrain park.You can’t say Mount Snow and not think about events. From freestyle competitions for all ages to some of the best parties north of New Orleans, there is a calendar full of events not to be missed. In spring time, things really heat up with the Carinthia Open, Reggaefest, Winter Brewer’s Festival and the Glade-iator. That’s not to count out college weeks in January where eager students get one last chance to blow off some steam before returning to the books for the spring semester. Each week features a four night long party schedule with everything from tubing to live bands.Okemo Mountain ResortIt will be a smooth ride for Okemo Mountain Resort visitors this winter – whether they ski and snowboard, or not.Mountain Coaster: The Okemo Mountain Coaster, a four-season, family attraction will offer an exhilarating ride through alpine forests at Okemo’s Jackson Gore. Sled-like cars carrying one or two passengers will ascend 1,600 feet followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of tubular, stainless steel track that follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops and a “twister” section, at speeds of up to 25 mph.New Grooming Machine: Okemo continues its commitment to superlative grooming this winter with the addition of a third Prinoth BR500 grooming machine. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoths are wider and longer than Prinoth’s next-largest model. With engineered efficiencies, the newest addition to Okemo’s grooming fleet helps reinforce the resort’s reputation for top-quality surface conditions.New Lift: In the heyday of surface lifts, Okemo was renowned for its network of Pomalifts – even boasting the longest Pomalift in North America. Okemo’s final vestige of that era will be dismantled and mothballed. The Snow Star Poma, located in the Galaxy Bowl Learning Area at Okemo’s Clock Tower Base Area, is replaced with a180-foot, magic-carpet-style surface lift. Visit Okemo’s online press kit.Smugglers’ Notch ResortWinter guests at Smugglers’ Notch Resort will be among the first to enjoy the resort’s exciting new canopy tour, located in a scenic valley near the resort village. Participants on the 2.5-3-hour tour, the first of its kind in Vermont, will ride more than 4,000 feet of zip line cable, cross suspension bridges, and rappel from trees.Scenic lookout and tree platforms in a mature forest consisting of stands of hemlock, white birch and sugar maple will yield stunning views of the resort, Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains. The year-round canopy tour joins Smugglers’ extensive seasonal outdoor experiences that in the winter include skiing and snowboarding on three mountains, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, and in the summer, geocaching; a Via Ferrata hiking, climbing and ropes course adventure; a high ropes challenge course; and a day camp for children featuring kayaking, bouldering, Via Ferrata, and use of the resort’s 30-foot climbing wall and giant swing. The four-season canopy tour will be available to overnight guests, day visitors and groups. Visit the Press Room for more info.Stowe Mountain ResortSpruce Peak Performing Arts Center: Vermont’s intimate center for the performing artsA dramatic cultural enhancement has come to Stowe Mountain Resort. Spruce Peak Arts Center opens its doors to the public in December 2010. Developed to operate year-round as a major component of Stowe Mountain Resort, the performing arts center is envisioned as a venue for a wide spectrum of events; theater, music, dance, film, comedy, lectures and multimedia presentations. “The Arts Center will be the creative and cultural soul of Spruce Peak,” said Walter Frame, President of the Arts Center Foundation. “An eclectic range of events and exhibitions featuring established and emerging artists will inspire, educate and entertain residents, guests and the greater Stowe community.”The Spruce Peak Arts Center Foundation, Inc. is a 501c3 public organization funded by individual contributors. The 420-seat multipurpose hall, with minimal separation between audience and stage, provides flexibility that includes the extension of seating onto the stage, the use of galleries for performers, plus reception and banquet facilities. For more information please visit www.sprucepeakarts.org(link is external)Stratton Mountain ResortPowers at Stratton: 2002 Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers returns to his roots at Stratton Mountain School as the new head of Snowboarding Programs. In this case, the one time student becomes the teacher. Powers was an SMS student in the 1990’s before winning his first Olympic medal in 1998 and then winning Olympic gold on his birthday in Salt Lake City. Powers narrowly missed a spot on the Olympic team in 2010 for snowboardcrossHealthy Priorities: Stratton won an NSAA Award in 2010 thanks to its ‘Safety Week Program,’ a product of Stratton’s Health and Safety Committee, which has set out to improve the quality of life at the resort. Recent initiatives include the introduction of a health awareness week, an in-resort health assessment, healthy dining options in the cafeteria and an Open Houses at the Stratton Sports CenterOperations & Grooming Growth: Stratton will upgrade two of its front line Snow Cats with new Prinoth BR350’s, with significant technology and efficiency upgrades in snowmaking by adding new snow guns. Operational improvements will be focused around Guest Service, Terrain Parks, Snowsports School and the Tubing Park with a new ‘warming hut’ added to the ticket purchasing area where guests will be able to hang out and watch while sitting around a bonfire. Sugarbush ResortVillage Expansion: Sugarbush is currently undergoing its largest revitalization effort since opening the first phase of the Lincoln Peak Village in December 2006. The Warren-based resort is investing close to $10 million in the second phase of the village, as well as upgrades to its snowmaking infrastructure.Phase 2 of the Lincoln Peak revitalization project consists of a new entrance plaza as well as two new lodges. The 12,500-square foot “Schoolhouse” will house some of Sugarbush’s popular children’s programs. The resort’s winter Micro, Mini and Sugar Bear programs as well as some summer camps will be located in this facility. The other lodge will provide skier services such as tickets and season passes, guest lockers, adult Ski & Ride, rentals and repairs, public restrooms, and a café. The as-yet-named facility will be approximately 14,500-square feet.Phase 2 began in mid-April and is expected to be completed in November.Pipes & Snow: Sugarbush began replacing key sections of its snowmaking infrastructure in early July. Over two miles of primary-supply snowmaking pipe will be replaced at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. The original pipe was installed in 1997. Work is expected to be complete in late September.Trapp Family Lodge NCAA Ski Championships: March 9 – 12, 2011; The University of Vermont and Trapp Family Lodge will be hosting the collegiate skiers from all over the United States. The new race course has just been certified for homologation by the International Ski Federation (FIS). This should prove to be an exceptional spectator-friendly event, as the course finds its way into the stadium five times in the 7.5 kilometer distanceBeer drinkers will revel in this “something new;” the Trapp Lager is the inaugural beer of the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. More than a decade ago Johannes von Trapp started thinking about brewing beer for guests of the resort. His dream was to produce an American version of the tasty lager he enjoyed over the years on trips to his ancestral Austrian home. Johannes’s dream became reality in the Spring of 2010, with the opening of the Trapp Family Brewery. The modest facility (60,000 or so gallons a year) is located in the lower level of the bakery, where bottles and draughts of the heavenly concoction will be available year round.Ski VermontWith nationally ranked instructors, Vermont Adaptive at the forefront of its movement and more ski academies than the rest of New England combined, Vermont teaches all abilities of skiers and riders from pre-K to the Olympics. In recognition of this strength, Vermont will celebrate Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month with an unprecedented variety of promotions throughout January. Visit skivermont.com for the full listing.Vermont’s Brand: A branding research study focusing on how Vermont is perceived as a vacation destination by visitors and non-visitors was completed by Vermont’s Chief Marketing Officer Christine Werneke, in conjunction with the Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Vermont Ski Areas Association.“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.”The Vermont brand is well established and its message has been consistent from the beginning. In 1891, Vermont became the first state to promote itself. The Publicity Bureau, established in the Secretary of State’s office, used state funds to promote Vermont as an escape from the city.The study also notes the differences between the New York metro, Massachusetts, Canadian metro, and in-state markets in terms of what types of vacation experiences they seek. “The New York metro market wants luxury getaways, while the Massachusetts market is seeking more affordable, outdoor-oriented vacations,” Werneke said.
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan discussed the latest in credit union advocacy in a recent interview with CUBroadcast. Donovan touched on the recent rules finalized at last week’s NCUA meeting before giving a larger picture of CUNA’s advocacy focus, particularly the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.A chief topic of conversation was CUNA’s recent action alert to ensure a provision allowing banks rent-free access to military installations is not in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020.Section 2821 of the Senate-passed version of the NDAA would expand to certain banks an exception that credit unions currently have granting rent-free access to military installations. CUNA/League advocacy helped ensure no such provision appears in the House-passed version of the bill.
Apr 1, 2009H5N1 strikes another Egyptian youngsterEgypt’s state news agency said today that a 2-year-old Egyptian boy has been hospitalized with an H5N1 avian influenza infection, Reuters reported. The country’s health ministry said the boy, from Beheira governorate in northern Egypt, got sick after he had contact with infected birds. He was hospitalized and started on oseltamivir (Tamiflu) on Mar 30 after coming down with a high fever. If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the boy’s case, the H5N1 count for Egypt will rise to 61 cases, of which 23 have been fatal.[Apr 1 Reuters story]Flu vaccine rated as 53% effective in Australian studyResearchers estimated seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness over five seasons (2003-07) in Victoria, Australia, at 53%, but the number dropped to 41% when they adjusted for age-group and year. The researchers used a retrospective case-control approach with a surveillance system that yielded all patients’ influenza and vaccination status, according to their report in the April issue of PLoS One. Patients who tested positive for influenza went to a WHO collaborating center for virus culture and typing. The investigators found no significant differences in vaccine effectiveness in years when the flu vaccine was well-matched to circulating strains compared with years when the match was poorer.[April PLoS One study]Cross-contamination suspected in tainted pistachiosFederal investigators still don’t know how four different Salmonella strains contaminated bulk pistachios that were received by Kraft Foods, but a Kraft spokeswoman said company auditors who recently visited Setton Farms, the source of the nuts, found that raw and roasted nuts weren’t adequately segregated, which might explain the problem, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. An official from Setton Farms also said he suspected cross-contamination. Meanwhile, Salmonella findings so far have touched off recalls of 63 pistachio products, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[Apr 1 AP story][FDA pistachio recall database]Cases rise in sprout-linked Salmonella outbreakA multistate Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak, which might be linked to contaminated sprouts, has grown to 121 cases in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Colorado, the AP reported yesterday. The case count was listed in a lawsuit against an Omaha, Neb., sprout company, SunSprout Enterprises, by a Nebraska man. So far, investigators have not isolated the outbreak strain from any sprout samples.Prions found in antler velvet of elk with chronic wasting diseaseInfectious prion proteins are found in the antler velvet of elk that have chronic wasting disease (CWD), as revealed by tests involving CWD-susceptible transgenic mice, according to a report in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID). The authors say the finding suggests that antler velvet, which is shed annually, may play a role in CWD transmission. Given the market for antler velvet in traditional Asian medicine, the finding also indicates that people who consume the material as a nutritional supplement are at risk for exposure to prions. CWD is a brain disease of deer and elk that resembles bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.[EID report]Researchers launch online vector databaseTo ease the development of risk maps and other assessments, an international group of researchers has developed a Web-based, publicly accessible Disease Vector Database. The purpose is to gather and display data on the geographic distribution of infectious disease vectors and reservoirs, according to a report in the March issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The database, housed at the University of Texas at Austin, currently contains records for dengue and malaria vectors, as well as Chagas disease and leishmaniasis vectors and reservoirs.[March PLoS Negl Trop Dis report]Comparing three online outbreak-monitoring systemsA report in EID compares three online systems that collect and process information about disease outbreaks and other public health threats from a wide range of electronic sources. The systems are GPHIN, which monitors media information and provides reports to paying subscribers; HealthMap, which collects and maps disease outbreak information from media and nonmedia sources; and EpiSPIDER, which was designed as a visual supplement to the disease reports from ProMED-mail. The EID article, written by the inventors of the three systems, says they are complementary because they monitor different kinds of data, rely on varying levels of automation and human analysis, and distribute distinct information. “Future development should focus on linking these systems more closely to public health practitioners in the field and establishing collective networks for alert verification and dissemination,” the report states.[EID report]
Unexpectedly good results of the tourist season in July and August do not apply to congress organizers and travel agencies. They realize their income almost exclusively in the pre- and post-season, which means that in the most intensive period for this industry, the spring months, work would be completely banned, and given the latest measures, the same follows in the autumn. “Yesterday’s decision of the Headquarters, sent to all health care institutions, which postpones the holding of congresses, symposia, workshops, lectures and other forms of professional training of health care workers, is actually the final nail in the coffin for business tourism.”, warns Jasmina Kanaš, President of the Business Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the measures for jobs that they expect in the same amount of HRK 4000, which have so far “kept their heads above water”, the Community of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is proposing additional grants in the amount of 10% of traffic turnover in 2019, as Denmark did to compensated its organizers. He says that gatherings in medicine make up the majority of all gatherings in Croatia. “In our organization, health protocols can be fully respected, and the participants are precisely those who are accustomed to applying much stricter anti-epidemiological measures because their job depends on it. They cannot be compared to similar public gatherings because they are educations with a special emphasis on professional development and knowledge exchange where there is no place for entertainment. This is especially true for medical gatherings which, according to strict codes of ethics, are not allowed to have entertainment or have it in a very limited scope.”Explains Kanash. However, the HGK Association points out that they do not blame anyone and that everyone understands the current epidemiological situation and measures. “We are aware that various events are the first target when measures are taken. But we hope that there will be equal understanding on the part of the Government, given that our revenues this year are zero kuna as a direct result of these anti-epidemiological measures. So, this year we are not allowed to earn on our own and get away from the burden of the state, and we are not used to living on help “, Kanaš continues and believes that they cannot have the same treatment as others who have managed to do something in this difficult year for the entire economy on a global level. “We will feel it for years to come because employee education, team building programs, incentives and business travel are the first cuts companies make in a recession and without health risks”, Says Kanaš and emphasizes that after the recession in 2008, the recovery of congress tourism took almost five years The congress industry and all business travel in general are an important segment of tourism, but also of the overall Croatian economy because its consumption and long-term stability is a significant generator of inflows to domestic hotels, congress centers, restaurants and transport companies most affected by this pandemic. The average delegate spends significantly more on professional training than holiday tourists, even up to 5 times, so the loss for the national income from tourism due to not holding the congress will be all the greater. The uncertainty posed by the inability to determine when the pandemic will end is exacerbated by the fact that measures to support job preservation are defined from month to month, making it impossible to plan a long-term strategy to overcome the crisis. Therefore, they hope that the next decisions of the Government will go in the direction of adopting CES measures by April 2021. Photo: Eduardo Romero, Pexels.com
Before the change, auditing of the fund had also been the responsibility of Arion Bank, but from now on Frjálsi said it would entrust the internal audit of the fund to an auditing company. Arnaldur Loftsson, chief executive of Icelandic pension fund Frjálsi, has had his employment status changed as part of a move to distance the fund from its manager Arion Bank.The supervisory board of Frjálsi last week decided to make Loftsson an employee of the fund, rather than of the bank. The decision was taken in conjunction with Arion Bank, which has been managing the fund’s operations since 2008.The change is aimed at ensuring the pension fund’s independence from the bank, Frjálsi announced.The pension fund said that one reason behind the move towards its increased independence was to reduce the risk to its reputation that an operating arrangement with a bank could entail.