Last weekend, MarchFourth turned heads at the annual LEAF Festival in Asheville, NC, making a statement against the state’s new bathroom bill by performing a full set in drag. The set came in protest of the new HB2 law, which blatantly discriminates against LGBTQ citizens and their rights.The band is filled with outrageous performers as well, packing the stage with over 20 performers – musicians, dancers, and more – for an incredible musical force. Having that entire crew dress in drag sent a poignant message to state legislators about equality and feeling comfortable with oneself. The show also featured a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” packed into a full 80 minutes of music.Thanks to the I AM AVL team, we can enjoy the musical spectacle that was MarchFourth’s set at LEAF last weekend. Enjoy it below!
Today, Boston-based band lespecial has released the first of a new series of videos called the “Cellar Sessions”, taking place live in the studio. The first video captures the band’s song “Harambe Zombie”, which begins as an arrangement of Fela Kuti’s “Zombie” before lespecial injects their signature blend of rock and roll, ultimately giving the song a new, heavy twist.You can clearly see how much fun lespecial is having in the studio, and ultimately that translates into a great performance. The band says, “‘Harambe Zombie’ is an homage to Fela Kuti as well as a farewell to a particularly strange year and a fallen gorilla that took the country by storm.” You can watch the new video, below.After a heavy year of touring for lespecial, the band will close out 2016 with a New ear’s run throughout the Northeast. Check out their upcoming tour dates, below.:12/29- New York, NY DROM (Phish After-Party) with Chromatropic12/30- Syracuse NY FUNK N WAFFLES with Ampevene12/31- Greenfield MA The Ball Drop: Rock N Roll Resort vNYE
Light therapy is safe and has measurable effects in the brain, according to a pioneering study by researchers from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Senior investigators Rajiv Gupta, director of the Ultra-High Resolution Volume CT Lab at MGH, and Benjamin Vakoc at the Wellman Center led the study, which was supported by a grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) and published in JAMA Network Open Sept. 14.This study is one of the first prospective, randomized, interventional clinical trials of near-infrared, low-level light therapy (LLLT) in patients who recently suffered a moderate brain injury. If further trials support these findings, light therapy could become the first widely-accepted treatment for this type of injury. TBI is the leading cause of traumatic injury worldwide, and an estimated 69 million people experience such an injury every year. However, there are no treatments for this condition yet, largely because the underlying biological mechanisms are not well understood and it is so challenging to do studies with actual patients in the acute stage of trauma. “The Gulf War put TBI in the headlines because body armor had been greatly improved by then,” said Gupta. “But there were still brain injuries caused by the shock waves from high powered explosives.” For a variety of reasons, the number of TBIs has increased around the globe since then, but effective treatments are still sorely needed.For this study, a special helmet had to be designed specifically to deliver the therapy, an undertaking that required a mix of medical, engineering and physics expertise. This multidisciplinary team included Gupta, a neuroradiologist, Vakoc, an applied physicist, and others specializing in the development and translation of optical instrumentation to the clinic and biologic laboratories. Both Gupta and Vakoc are also associate professors at Harvard Medical School. “Transcranial LED therapy is a promising area of research, with potential to help various brain disorders where therapies are limited.” — Margaret Naeser, research professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine “For this study, we designed a practical, near-infrared treatment based on Wellman Center research and working directly with DOD on the vexing problem of TBI, a condition faced by so many,” said Rox Anderson, the center’s director.Another challenge was optimizing the wavelength of the near-infrared LLLT. “Nobody knows how much light you need to get the optimal effect,” said Lynn Drake, one of the study co-authors and director of business development at the Wellman Center. “We tried to optimize the wavelength, dosing, timing of delivery, and length of exposure.” This was done through a series of pre-clinical experiments led by Anderson. These included multiple preclinical studies led by Michael Hamblin. Anderson and Hamblin are also both co-authors on this paper. Near-infrared LLLT has already been considered for multiple uses, but to date, few if any studies of this technology have been tested and none in patients with TBI. It has been studied in stroke patients and Wellman basic laboratory research suggests it is neuroprotective through a mechanism mediated by specialized intracellular organs called mitochondria. It took several years of research at Wellman to understand the basic mechanism prior to the clinical trial. The randomized clinical trial included 68 patients with moderate traumatic brain injury who were divided into two groups. One group received LLLT, via the special helmet, which delivered the light. Patients in the control group wore the helmet for the same amount of time, but did not receive the treatment. The helmet was designed by Vakoc’s team at Wellman. During the study, the subjects’ brains were tested for neuroreactivity using quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) metrics and the subjects also underwent neurocognitive function assessment. MRI was performed in the acute (within 72 hours of the injury), early subacute (two to three weeks), and late subacute (approximately three months) stages of recovery. Clinical assessments were performed during each visit and at six months, using the Rivermead Post-Concussion Questionnaire, with each item assessed on a five-point scale.,Twenty-eight patients completed at least one LLLT session and none reported any adverse reactions. In addition, the researchers found that they could measure the effects of transcranial LLLT on the brain. The MRI studies showed statistically significant differences in the integrity of myelin surrounding the neurons of treated patients versus the control group. Both these findings support follow-up trials, especially since there are no other treatments for these patients. The study also showed the light does impact the cells. While it is well established that cells have light receptors, “going into this trial, we had several unanswered questions such as whether the light would go through the scalp and skull, whether the dose was sufficient, and whether it would be enough to engage the neural substrates responsible for repair after TBI,” says Gupta. It’s important to note, he adds, that for this initial study, the researchers focused on patients with moderate traumatic brain injury. That helped to ensure their study could have statistically significant findings because patients in this category are more likely to demonstrate a measurable effect. “It would be much more difficult to see such changes in patients with mild injuries and it is quite likely that in patients with severe brain injuries the effect of light therapy would be confounded by other comorbidities of severe trauma,” said Gupta. He added that researchers are still very early in the development of this therapy, and it is not known if it could be applied to other types of brain injury, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has received a lot of public attention over the last few years. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease associated with a history of repetitive brain trauma such as that experienced by certain types of athletes, most notably football players.This study opens up many possibilities for broader use of photomedicine. “Transcranial LED therapy is a promising area of research, with potential to help various brain disorders where therapies are limited,” said Margaret Naeser, a prominent researcher in photomedicine and research professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. She was not affiliated with this particular study.This research was partially supported by grants from Air Force contract FA8650-17-C-9113; Army USAMRAA Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program, contract W81XWH-15-C-0052; and Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program W81XWH-13-2-0067.
December 31, September 30, December 31, (In thousands) 2010 2010 2009 ————- ————- ————-Commercial, financial and agricultural loans $ 112,514 $ 100,638 $ 113,980Municipal loans 72,261 71,822 44,753Real estate loans – residential 422,981 428,260 435,273Real estate loans – commercial 279,896 279,885 290,737Real estate loans – construction 16,420 17,600 25,146Installment loans 6,284 7,507 7,711All other loans 438 1,194 938 ————- ————- ————-Total loans $ 910,794 $ 906,906 $ 918,538 ============= ============= =============Merchants’ investment portfolio totaled $466.76 million at December 31, 2010, an increase of $57.95 million from the December 31, 2009 ending balance of $408.81 million. Merchants worked to redeploy excess cash into the investment portfolio during 2010, but found it challenging to find high quality investments at an acceptable yield in the low interest rate environment that existed throughout 2010. Merchants purchased bonds with a total par value of $354.23 million during 2010, all of which were agency backed paper. Merchants also selectively sold bonds during 2010, selling bonds with a total par value of $56.16 million for a net gain of $2.08 million.Total deposits ended the year at $1.09 billion, an increase of $48.88 million from year end balances of $1.04 billion. Average balances for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $1.08 billion, an increase of $42.84 million from fourth quarter 2009 average balances of $1.04 billion. Demand deposits have shown solid growth during 2010, increasing by $21.67 million to $141.41 million at December 31, 2010 from $119.74 million at December 31, 2009. Deposits have continued to migrate away from time deposit categories during 2010. Time deposits as a percentage of total deposits have decreased from 37.8% at December 31, 2009 to 33.5% at December 31, 2010. Merchants experienced strong growth in government and business banking during 2010, while also adding relationships across all business lines. Short-term retail repo balances ended 2010 at $224.69 million, a $46.38 million increase over 2009 ending short-term retail repo balances.Total noninterest income decreased to $2.54 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 from $3.38 million for the same period in 2009; and increased to $11.63 million for 2010 from $10.32 million for 2009. Excluding net gains (losses) on security sales and other than temporary impairment losses, noninterest income increased to $2.36 million and $9.72 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to $2.22 million and $9.10 million for the same periods in 2009. Income from Merchants’ Trust Company division increased to $573 thousand and $2.16 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to $469 thousand and $1.72 million for the same periods in 2009, a result of a combination of increased sales and improved market performance. Revenue related to service charges on deposits decreased to $1.08 million and $4.93 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to $1.45 million and $5.67 million for the same periods in 2009. These decreases are primarily a result of legislative changes restricting overdrafts that went into effect on August 15, 2010. Net overdraft fee revenue decreased to $858 thousand and $4.05 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to $1.22 million and $4.73 million for the same periods in 2009. At the same time other noninterest income increased to $1.12 million and $4.30 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, from $875 thousand and $3.75 million for the same periods in 2009. This increase is primarily a result of increased net debit card income. The recently enacted Dodd-Frank bill authorizes the Federal Reserve Board to regulate debit card interchange fees; although the changes are aimed at large banks, it is possible that all banks will be impacted. It is not possible to predict at this time what, if any, impact the changes will have on Merchants debit card revenue.Total noninterest expense increased to $13.34 million from $10.42 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009; and increased to $42.43 million from $40.10 million for 2010 compared to 2009. There were a number of increases and decreases that contributed to this overall increase. SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwire – January 26, 2011) – Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Financial Highlights (unaudited) (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) 12/31/10 09/30/10 12/31/09 09/30/09 ———- ———- ———- ———-Balance Sheets – Period EndTotal assets $1,487,644 $1,481,908 $1,434,861 $1,405,607Loans 910,794 906,906 918,538 929,236Allowance for loan losses (“ALL”) 10,135 10,090 10,976 11,177Net loans 900,659 896,816 907,562 918,059Securities available for sale 465,962 502,467 407,652 353,842Securities held to maturity 794 865 1,159 1,306Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) stock 8,630 8,630 8,630 8,630Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 62,273 7,239 47,714 70,282Other assets 49,326 65,891 62,144 53,488Deposits 1,092,196 1,072,649 1,043,319 1,030,802Securities sold under agreement to repurchase and other short-term debt 227,657 175,133 179,718 122,421Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, long-term 7,500 54,000 54,000 54,000Other long-term debt 31,139 31,158 31,215 68,698Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust 20,619 20,619 20,619 20,619Other liabilities 9,202 29,236 15,365 19,069Shareholders’ equity 99,331 99,113 90,625 89,998Balance Sheets – Quarter-to-Date AveragesTotal assets $1,488,753 $1,436,703 $1,412,513 $1,394,070Loans 905,048 917,682 920,846 922,704Allowance for loan losses 10,676 10,461 11,510 10,958Net loans 894,372 907,221 909,336 911,746Securities available for sale and FHLB stock 482,846 424,116 371,059 367,979Securities held to maturity 830 920 1,224 1,374Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 48,217 29,933 63,553 53,576Other assets 62,488 74,513 67,341 59,395Deposits 1,080,790 1,059,591 1,037,955 1,026,527Securities sold under agreement to repurchase and other short-term debt 205,529 160,738 148,282 115,447Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, long-term 38,353 54,000 54,000 54,000Other long-term debt 31,145 31,165 46,097 79,107Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust 20,619 20,619 20,619 20,619Other liabilities 13,621 13,061 14,999 13,209Shareholders’ equity 98,696 97,529 90,561 85,161Interest earning assets 1,436,942 1,372,651 1,356,682 1,345,633Interest bearing liabilities 1,233,261 1,190,679 1,180,087 1,179,117Ratios and Supplemental Information – Period EndBook value per share $ 16.95 $ 16.93 $ 15.58 $ 15.49Book value per share (1) $ 16.06 $ 16.05 $ 14.76 $ 14.68Tier I leverage ratio 7.90% 8.11% 7.64% 7.57%Tangible capital ratio (2) 6.68% 6.69% 6.32% 6.40%Period end common shares outstanding (1) 6,186,363 6,174,524 6,141,823 6,131,175Credit Quality – Period EndNonperforming loans (“NPLs”) $ 4,104 $ 3,437 $ 14,481 $ 10,584Nonperforming assets (“NPAs”) $ 4,295 $ 3,457 $ 15,136 $ 11,386NPLs as a percent of total loans 0.45% 0.38% 1.58% 1.14%NPAs as a percent of total assets 0.29% 0.23% 1.05% 0.81%ALL as a percent of NPLs 247% 294% 76% 106%ALL as a percent of total loans 1.11% 1.11% 1.19% 1.20%(1) This book value and period end common shares outstanding includes 327,100; 321,776; 326,453; and 320,371 Rabbi Trust shares for the periods noted above, respectively.(2) The tangible capital ratio is a non-GAAP financial measure which we believe provides investors with information that is useful in understanding our financial performance. Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Financial Highlights (unaudited) (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) For the Twelve Months Ended December 31, 2010 2009 ———– ———–Balance Sheets – Year-to-Date AveragesTotal assets $ 1,438,730 $ 1,376,054Loans 912,363 901,582Allowance for loan losses 10,609 10,430Net loans 901,754 891,152Securities available for sale and FHLB stock 436,094 386,772Securities held to maturity 964 1,443Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 30,054 36,529Other assets 69,864 60,158Deposits 1,053,503 1,003,778Securities sold under agreement to repurchase and other short-term debt 174,895 115,395Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, long-term 50,056 54,000Other long-term debt 31,179 83,676Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust 20,619 20,619Other liabilities 12,898 13,880Shareholders’ equity 95,580 84,706Interest earning assets 1,379,475 1,326,326Interest bearing liabilities 1,200,305 1,162,402 Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Financial Highlights (unaudited) (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) For the Three Months For the Twelve Months Ended ended December 31, December 31, ———————- ———————- 2010 2009 2010 2009 ———- ———- ———- ———-Operating ResultsInterest incomeInterest and fees on loans $ 11,366 $ 11,855 $ 46,041 $ 47,646Interest and dividends on investments 3,038 4,158 14,221 18,694Total interest and dividend income 14,404 16,013 60,262 66,340Interest expenseDeposits 1,276 1,854 5,614 9,605Short-term borrowings 459 308 1,623 641Long-term debt 850 1,147 3,870 5,978Total interest expense 2,585 3,309 11,107 16,224Net interest income 11,819 12,704 49,155 50,116(Credit) provision for credit losses (1,950) 600 (1,750) 4,100Net interest income after provision for credit losses 13,769 12,104 50,905 46,016Noninterest incomeTrust Company income 573 469 2,163 1,724Service charges on deposits 1,076 1,454 4,929 5,671Gain (loss) on investment securities, net 185 1,163 2,082 1,219Other-than-temporary impairment losses on securities — — (169) –Equity in losses of real estate limited partnerships, net (409) (583) (1,672) (2,049)Other noninterest income 1,116 875 4,298 3,750Total noninterest income 2,541 3,378 11,631 10,315Noninterest expenseSalaries and wages 4,329 4,210 16,033 14,510Employee benefits 1,046 663 4,466 4,348Occupancy and equipment expenses 1,743 1,616 6,635 6,405Legal and professional fees 592 600 2,443 2,499Marketing expenses 492 328 1,505 1,470State franchise taxes 279 276 1,151 1,142FDIC Insurance 350 315 1,415 1,964Other real estate owned 1 (23) (298) 142Prepayment penalty 3,071 965 3,071 1,548Other noninterest expense 1,434 1,468 6,006 6,070Total noninterest expense 13,337 10,418 42,427 40,098Income before provision for income taxes 2,973 5,064 20,109 16,233Provision for income taxes 429 1,268 4,648 3,754Net income $ 2,544 $ 3,796 $ 15,461 $ 12,479Ratios and Supplemental InformationWeighted average common shares outstanding 6,183,555 6,139,739 6,167,446 6,105,909Weighted average diluted shares outstanding 6,195,432 6,139,739 6,171,530 6,107,389Basic earnings per common share $ 0.41 $ 0.62 $ 2.51 $ 2.04Diluted earnings per common share $ 0.41 $ 0.62 $ 2.51 $ 2.04Return on average assets 0.68% 1.07% 1.07% 0.91%Return on average shareholders’ equity 10.31% 16.77% 16.18% 14.73%Net interest rate spread 3.26% 3.61% 3.53% 3.62%Net interest margin 3.37% 3.75% 3.65% 3.80%Net recoveries (charge-offs) to Average Loans 0.23% (0.09%) 0.09% (0.19%)Net recoveries (charge-offs) $ 2,084 $ (824) $ 802 $ (1,708)Efficiency ratio (1) 66.66% 58.81% 62.16% 59.47%(1) The efficiency ratio excludes amortization of intangibles, equity in losses of real estate limited partnerships, OREO expenses, gain/loss on sales of securities, state franchise taxes, and any significant nonrecurring items.Note: As of December 31, 2010, the Bank had off-balance sheet liabilitiesin the form of standby letters of credit to customers in the amount of$4.91 million. Merchants Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBVT), the parent company of Merchants Bank, today announced net income of $15.46 million, or diluted earnings per share of $2.51 for the year ended December 31, 2010. Earnings for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $2.54 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.41. This compares with net income of $3.80 million and $12.48 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.62 and $2.04, for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2009.The return on average assets was 0.68% and 1.07% for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to 1.07% and 0.91% for the same periods in 2009. The return on average equity was 10.31% and 16.18% for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to 16.77% and 14.73% for the same periods in 2009. “We are very pleased to report record earnings for 2010. Our strong performance leaves us well positioned for 2011,” commented Michael R. Tuttle, Merchants’ President and Chief Executive Officer.Merchants’ earnings for the fourth quarter of 2010 were negatively impacted by the prepayment of a total of $46.50 million in long term debt during the fourth quarter with a weighted average maturity of just over two years and a weighted average interest rate of 3.74%. Prepayment penalties incurred in conjunction with the payment totaled $3.07 million; Merchants expects to save $1.74 million in interest expense during 2011 as a result of the prepayment. At the same time, Merchants earnings for the fourth quarter were positively impacted by a negative provision for credit losses of $1.95 million, a result of improved asset quality combined with net recoveries during the fourth quarter of previously charged off loans totaling $2.08 million.Merchants’ taxable equivalent net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2010 was $12.22 million, and was $50.35 million for the year ended December 31, 2010, compared to $12.83 million for the fourth quarter of 2009 and $50.38 million for the year ended December 31, 2009. Merchants’ taxable equivalent net interest margin decreased 33 basis points during the fourth quarter of 2010 to 3.37% from 3.70% for the third quarter of 2010, and decreased by 38 basis points when compared to the fourth quarter of 2009. The margin decreased by fifteen basis points for 2010 to 3.65% from 3.80% for 2009. One of the most significant drivers of the decrease in margin during 2010 is reduced yield on the investment portfolio. Merchants’ investment portfolio yield has come under pressure as a result of the pervasive low interest rate environment, decreasing 155 basis points to 3.24% during 2010. Over 80% of Merchants’ investment portfolio is in mortgage related product which experienced very high prepayment rates during the fourth quarter of 2010, resulting in increased cash flow that was reinvested at current, lower rates. Merchants expects that the margin for 2011 will be positively impacted by the long term debt prepayment mentioned previously.”Net interest income continues to experience significant pressure in the current environment. The low yields available for reinvestment of cash flows from the investment portfolio dictate that we need to increase the size of our loan book if we are to increase our net interest income. We have added resources to the lending area and have experienced increased demand during the fourth quarter of this year, which we expect to carry over to the first quarter of next year,” commented Mr. Tuttle.The provision for credit losses for 2010 was a negative $1.75 million compared to $4.10 million for 2009. The negative provision for 2010 was a result of net recoveries of previously charged off loans during 2010 totaling $802 thousand combined with improved asset quality during 2010. Merchants’ non-performing loans decreased to $4.10 million at December 31, 2010 from $14.48 million at December 31, 2009.”Asset quality remained very strong as of December 31, 2010. The improved quality for the entire loan portfolio was one of our major accomplishments during 2010,” commented Mr. Tuttle.Merchants’ quarterly average loans were $905.05 million, a decrease of $15.80 million from the fourth quarter of 2009, and ending balances at December 31, 2010 were $910.79 million, $7.74 million lower than ending balances at December 31, 2009. Loan demand remained weak during most of 2010 with many borrowers choosing to pay down existing obligations instead of taking on additional debt in the uncertain economic environment.The following table summarizes the components of Merchants’ loan portfolio as of the periods indicated: — The largest increase for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2010 was due to the $3.07 million prepayment penalty incurred as a result of prepaying $46.50 million in long term debt mentioned previously. This compares to prepayment penalties on long-term debt totaling $965 thousand and $1.55 million for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2009.– Salaries and wages increased to $4.33 million and $16.03 million for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively, compared to $4.21 million and $14.51 million for the same periods in 2009. Merchants added staff in its corporate banking and trust areas during 2010. Additionally, Merchants’ strong results for 2010 compared to 2009 have led to a higher incentive accrual for 2010.– Merchants’ FDIC insurance expense for 2010 was lower than 2009 as a result of the $630 thousand special assessment recorded during the second quarter of 2009.– Additionally, Merchants booked expense recoveries and gains during 2010 related to sales of OREO properties leading to a negative year to date expense of $298 thousand compared to an expense of $142 thousand for 2009.Merchants previously announced the declaration of a dividend of $0.28 per share, payable February 17, 2011, to shareholders of record as of February 3, 2011. Merchants also previously announced the extension, through January 2012, of its stock buyback program, originally adopted in January 2007. Under the program Merchants may repurchase 200,000 shares of its common stock on the open market from time to time, and has purchased 143,475 shares since the program’s adoption in 2007. Although Merchants did not repurchase any of its shares during 2010, and does not expect to repurchase shares in the near future, Merchants wanted to preserve the flexibility of an active buyback program.Michael R. Tuttle, Merchants’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Janet P. Spitler, Merchants’ Chief Financial Officer and Geoffrey R. Hesslink, Executive Vice President and Senior Lender will host a conference call to discuss these earnings results at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, January 28, 2011. Interested parties may participate in the conference call by dialing (800) 553-0327; the title of the call is Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Earnings Call. Participants are asked to call a few minutes prior to register. A replay will be available until noon on Friday, February 4, 2011. The U.S. replay dial-in telephone number is (800) 475-6701. The international replay telephone number is (320) 365-3844. The replay access code for both replay telephone numbers is 188055.Vermont Matters. Merchants Bank strives to fulfill its role as the state’s leading independent community bank through a wide range of initiatives. The bank supports organizations throughout Vermont in addressing essential needs, sustaining community programs, providing small business and job start capital, funding financial literacy education and delivering enrichment through local sports activities.Merchants Bank was established in 1849 in Burlington, Vermont. Its continuing mission is to provide Vermonters with a statewide community bank that combines a strong technology platform with a genuine appreciation for local markets. Merchants Bank delivers this commitment through a branch-based system that includes: 34 community bank offices and 42 ATMs throughout Vermont; local branch presidents and personal bankers dedicated to high-quality customer service; free online banking, phone banking, and electronic bill payment services; high-value depositing programs that feature Free Checking for Life®, Cash Rewards Checking, Rewards Checking for Business, business cash management, money market accounts, health savings accounts, certificates of deposit, Flexible CD, IRAs, and overdraft assurance; feature-rich loan programs including mortgages, home equity credit, vehicle loans, personal and small business loans and lines of credit; and merchant card processing. Merchants Bank offers a strong set of commercial and government banking solutions, delivered by experienced banking officers in markets throughout the state; these teams provide customized financing for medium-to-large companies, non-profits, cities, towns, and school districts. Merchants Trust Company, a division of Merchants Bank, provides investment management, financial planning and trustee services. Please visit www.mbvt.com(link is external) for access to Merchants Bank information, programs, and services. Merchants’ stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MBVT. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.Certain statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. These statements, which are based on certain assumptions and describe Merchants’ future plans, strategies and expectations, can generally be identified by the use of the words “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “plan,” “potential,” “estimate,” “project,” “believe,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “target” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on the current assumptions and beliefs of management and are only expectations of future results. Merchants’ actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of, among others, general, national, regional or local economic conditions which are less favorable than anticipated, including continued global recession, impacting the performance of Merchants’ investment portfolio, quality of credits or the overall demand for services; changes in loan default and charge-off rates which could affect the allowance for credit losses; declines in the equity and financial markets; reductions in deposit levels which could necessitate increased and/or higher cost borrowing to fund loans and investments; declines in mortgage loan refinancing, equity loan and line of credit activity which could reduce net interest and non-interest income; changes in the domestic interest rate environment and inflation; changes in the carrying value of investment securities and other assets; misalignment of Merchants’ interest-bearing assets and liabilities; increases in loan repayment rates affecting interest income and the value of mortgage servicing rights; changing business, banking, or regulatory conditions or policies, or new legislation affecting the financial services industry, such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, that could lead to changes in the competitive balance among financial institutions, restrictions on bank activities, changes in costs (including deposit insurance premiums), increased regulatory scrutiny, declines in consumer confidence in depository institutions, or changes in the secondary market for bank loan and other products; and changes in accounting rules, federal and state laws, IRS regulations, and other regulations and policies governing financial holding companies and their subsidiaries which may impact Merchants’ ability to take appropriate action to protect Merchants’ financial interests in certain loan situations.You should not place undue reliance on Merchants’ forward-looking statements, and are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Actual performance and results of operations may differ materially from those projected or suggested in the forward-looking statements due to certain risks and uncertainties, which are included in more detail in Merchants’ Annual Report on Form 10-K and other filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Merchants does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made.
Trump bailouts: Higher electricity costs ‘without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits’
Trump bailouts: Higher electricity costs ‘without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times:When Mr. Trump came into office, he vowed to revive America’s coal mining industry by rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. But coal keeps getting edged out by cheaper and cleaner alternatives. At least 15.4 gigawatts of coal capacity is set to retire this year, one of the biggest years on record, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. And the coal units that are left now operate far less frequently than they used to, replaced by natural gas, wind and solar power.For many utilities, the decision to abandon coal comes down to simple economics. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, recently concluded that it could save $213 million by retiring two of its older coal-fired units a decade ahead of schedule and replacing them with a mix of wind, solar, battery storage and natural gas.“We built a lot of our coal fleet 40 years ago, and it’s costly to maintain,” said Joshua D. Rhodes, an energy expert at the University of Texas Austin. “Many utilities are now finding that there are plenty of lower-cost options.”If enacted, Mr. Trump’s order is widely expected to benefit companies like FirstEnergy, an Ohio-based utility whose subsidiary declared bankruptcy in April, putting three nuclear plants and two coal plants at risk of closing. FirstEnergy has urged the administration to pursue a rescue plan, as has Robert E. Murray, a major Trump donor and mining executive whose company sells coal to FirstEnergy.But the proposal has triggered fierce blowback from a broad alliance of other energy companies that would stand to lose market share. The oil and gas industry has joined with wind and solar groups in opposition, calling the idea “unprecedented and misguided” and threatening lawsuits if the proposal goes forward.The leaked Energy Department memo indicated that the White House may invoke national security and rely on emergency powers that are normally used for short-term crises like hurricanes. The administration has argued that the loss of coal and nuclear plants, which can run around the clock, would make America’s electric grid less reliable. But grid operators themselves have disputed this rationale, arguing that there is no pressing emergency.An attempt to prop up unprofitable plants could also mean higher prices for consumers. An earlier bailout proposal by Mr. Perry would have cost between $311 million and $11.8 billion per year, according to an estimate by the research firm Energy Innovation. That plan was ultimately rejected by federal regulators, who have been no less critical of the administration’s latest idea.“This intervention could potentially ‘blow up’ the markets and result in significant rate increases without any corresponding reliability, resilience, or cybersecurity benefits,” warned Robert F. More: Trump Wants to Bail Out Coal and Nuclear Power. Here’s Why That Will Be Hard.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Melville teenager was arrested Friday night for allegedly stabbing a 19-year-old man following a high school football game in Dix Hills, Suffolk County police said. Kamal Williams, 17, was charged with assault and menacing. The alleged stabbing occurred at Half Hollow Hills High School East at 7:19 p.m., police said. Williams and the victim, who is from Dix Hills, had just left the football game, police said. Police said the altercation was over a prior dispute, but did not clarify. The victim was taken to Huntington Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said. The victim’s identity was not released. Arraignment information was not immediately available.
Embed from Getty Images On a rainy day inside his gym last month, Longo was focused on stabilizing Weidman’s career. Longo appears to be a steadying force for many. When he started taking his own lessons back in 1973, he never knew where it’d lead him. He was just enjoying the ride—and still is.“To be a kid, and to watch all the great fights growing up at Madison Square Garden, and to actually be coaching someone there yourself, is sort of surreal,” he says.Amid a cacophony of music and fists violently striking pads, Longo, the one-time accountant-turned UFC trainer and part-time internet show host, considered the winding, battle-tested path that led him to where he is now—one future fighters are unlikely to repeat, considering the dearth of MMA facilities and other gyms dotting Long Island.“This story is fucking nuts,” Longo laughs.Judging by how much fun he’s having, Longo appears years away from writing its final chapter. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Ray Longo and his star pupil, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, will walk into a Buffalo arena Saturday for a potentially career-altering fight that comes nearly a year to the day New York ended its prohibition on professional Mixed Martial Arts bouts.Until last April, New York had been the lone state in the nation with an MMA ban on its books, which some in the industry considered peculiar considering the sport’s popularity, buoyed by a network TV deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the potential for huge paydays at world-class arenas, such as Madison Square Garden.This Saturday, April 8, Longo, the steely trainer who grew up in Williston Park, and Weidman, an All-American wrestler at Hofstra University and a Baldwin native, will collectively serve as the face of Mixed Martial Arts on Long Island as the latter battles Gegard Mousasi in UFC 210 at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center. Foremost in their minds, however, will be whether Weidman can overcome a pair of setbacks.The 32-year-old Weidman may boast the headline-worthy name and Hollywood appeal, but it’s the 58-year-old Longo who has been instrumental in developing title contenders, and thus, raising UFC’s appeal on Long Island and across the country.A lot has changed in the decades since Longo first began pursuing martial arts and before Taekwondo and karate studios became ubiquitous with strip malls across Long Island. Back then, Longo received lessons from neighborhood martial art instructors for free inside garages, backyards and school gymnasiums—anywhere. By the time he became a full-fledged trainer, his fighters’ names appeared on kickboxing cards at hotels and catering venues, among them the Huntington Hilton, where his fighters attracted large crowds.The indefatigable Longo doesn’t appear ready to explore retirement or abandon training for other pursuits just yet. But if he ever does, it won’t be because of a lack of opportunities. Longo recently had a stand-in role in the mob film, The Brooklyn Banker, appeared in the CBS drama Kevin Can Wait, and hosts his own internet show, “Training Day with Ray,” produced by Garden City writer/producer Michael Ricigliano.“Your life is an accumulation of experiences,” he tells me inside his Garden City gym, which he and Weidman operate.Growing up in Williston Park, Longo attached himself to kids four or five years his elder. He became fascinated with the art form ever since a neighborhood friend told him about how he prevailed over a bully at school.Longo’s first gym was actually the backyard of someone’s home in Roslyn, because his father, who worked for the transit authority, bristled when Longo told him about a dojo charging $16 a month for lessons.So he found a guy who would train him for nothing at all, which was just as well.“He was willing to beat the crap out of you…and it was free—no charge,” Longo says.After graduating St. John’s University in 1980, Longo became an accountant, which helped supplement his marital arts lifestyle. UFC would not be established for another 13 years.By night, Longo was training guys out of a Victorian house with a stable and at his mother’s home.Longo wasn’t building the framework for a fledgling business, nor did he have delusions of grandeur. At the time, he was just “going with the flow,” he says.“I was never in this to make money,” he adds, noting his philosophy at the time was simple: “Find something you can do for free and then figure out a way to get paid for it.”For Longo, everything seemed to happen organically: from his own unconventional foray into martial arts to using his education to teach other fighters and then opening a nondescript gym in Mineola—all before MMA entered the mainstream.When MMA suddenly creeped into combat sports, Longo, who had already practiced boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai—a form of martial arts from Thailand focused on “stand up” striking—was uniquely qualified to train fighters entering the budding industry.Longo pulled off a coup early in his career when he began training Matt Serra, which he attributed to his experience in Jiu-Jitsu. The East Meadow-born Serra would later pull off a stunning knockout of welterweight champion George St-Pierre at UFC 69 in 2007. Longo caught lightning in a bottle again eight years later, when his newest protégé, Weidman, knocked out UFC legend Anderson Silva to earn the middleweight title.On Saturday night, Weidman hopes to rebound after an excruciating defeat at Madison Square Garden in November, and the disappointment of having to pull out of a headlining title fight in June due to injury.“We gotta get him back on track,” Longo says of Weidman. His advice to Weidman: “Believe in your training and believe in yourself.”That Longo has a steady crop of Long Islanders holding their own in the Octagon comes as no surprise to the veteran trainer. He credits the region’s strong “wrestling-based community” for producing talented Mixed Martial Artists, and cites Weidman’s own stellar collegiate wrestling career.“They had literally no striking experience when they got here,” he said of Weidman and Serra, who was a martial artist. Both ended up hoisting championship belts, anyway.
47SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr After more than 18 years as an executive in the retirement industry, our Senior Vice President of CUNA Mutual Retirement Solutions Paul Chong is convinced that credit union employees need more than basic retirement plan education—they need “financial wellness” training. “When you look at new laws and regulations relating to retirement savings products and other investment vehicles now available to the public, it’s clear these products have become more complex. And yet the financial literacy that employees need to understand these products and use them wisely hasn’t kept pace,” says Chong. “That’s stressful, especially as employees near retirement. It’s not good for the employee, the credit union or its members.”Workplace survey reports from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Aon Hewitt in 2017 back up Chong’s assessment. More than half of the workers surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2017 reported being under financial stress. continue reading »
Minnesota credit unions released Tuesday the results of a survey of over 750 Minnesotans following year one of the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® campaign.The 2019 plan “moved the needle” with nearly 200 million ad impressions deployed both digitally and out of home. The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) conducted Minnesota-specific consumer research in January 2019 and again in November 2019.The results showed:Consumer recall of the Open Your Eyes ads was over 30%;Opinions on credit union ATM’s being convenient increased 9.5 percentage points; continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) — Cub Scout Pack 100 sold Christmas trees and wreaths on Sunday at the All Saints Episcopal Church. The wreaths and trees sold for $30 each, but for Snow, Cub Scouts is just a way for him to give back. “It makes me feel good that I can lead young boys [and girls] in a positive direction,” Snow said. Den leader Kevin Snow told 12 News the fundraiser generally brings in close to $2,000 each time, and that the pack has been doing it for all 16 years he’s been involved. Those times are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday starting at 10 a.m. until the pack runs out. Pack Cubmaster Jason Moore tells 12 News the scouts and leaders will be out next weekend for those who missed trees and wreaths. The next planned outing for the pack is the Winter Mixer in January. Scouts and leaders will be headed to Forest Lake Campground in Truxton, N.Y. The pack’s largest fundraiser of the year was an attempt to raise money for camping trips, food and travel expenses, as well as campground fees for trips and events throughout the year.