Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.ALBANY – New York’s unemployment rate went up to 14.5 percent in April, according to recently released numbers from the New York State Department of Labor.The State Department of Labor called April the “largest monthly employment drop on record.” Nationally, the unemployment rate for April was 14.7 percent.“We went from about 50,000 calls on a maximum per day at the Department of Labor dealing with unemployment calls to a high of 8 million calls a day now averaging about three million calls,” said New York State Budget Dir. Robert Mujica.Mujica said when the pandemic began, the state had a staff of 500 people to deal with claims. That number then bumped up to over 3,000 and is now 7,000. He said the state hired five outside contractors to “staff up quickly.” “We’ve gotten $10 billion out the door, so we now have over two million New Yorkers. So 100 percent of full-time employees are New York State workers. The vast majority of the private contractors are using New York State employees,” he said.The largest hit sector has been leisure and hospitality. The virus has also taken a toll on small businesses. On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced additional state assistance.“New York State is starting its own small business relief program working with private banks. We have over $100 million available to make loans to small businesses,” he said.Cuomo said the priority will be for minority and women owned businesses with 20 or less employees and less than $3 million in revenues.
Photo (left to right): Mayor Eddie Sundquist, Firefighter Gage Bird, Firefighter Luke Ames, Firefighter Dylan Monroe, & Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Coon.JAMESTOWN – The City of Jamestown Fire Department held a graduation ceremony Friday to install three recruits who successfully completed the Fire Academy as Firefighters for the City of Jamestown.Mayor Eddie Sundquist welcomed the new firefighters to the department and presented them with recognition certificates.Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Coon presented each recruit with their Firefighter’s badge.“All three recruits have met rigorous standards to get to this level. This year was a particular challenge with the completion of their training being delayed due to the Pandemic. They have certainly earned the right to be called ‘Professional Firefighters’,” said Coon. Mayor Sundquist said, “I congratulate and welcome these three men to the City of Jamestown Fire Department. We look forward to your service with us.”The three recruits recognized today are Luke Ames, Gage Bird, and Dylan Monroe. All three completed training at the New York State Academy of Fire Science in Glen Falls, New York this year.At the conclusion of the ceremony, Coon offered the newly-assigned firefighters a few words of advice: “As you begin your careers, I encourage each of you to remember this day and all that you have accomplished to get to this point. We, as a Department, are very proud of all you accomplished thus far. Please continue to develop your skills, apply what you have learned, and most of all, enjoy the ride!”Firefighter Ben McLaughlin also was recognized with a promotion to Lieutenant. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Pixabay Stock Image.ALBANY – New legislation to help prevent large scale illegal waste dumping in New York has been signed in to law.Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Tuesday to help place further restrictions on waste dumping.According to the Office of the Governor, the legislation strengthens penalties against the illegal disposal of construction debris, demolition debris, and other hazardous substances.Additionally, it will also designate fraudulent schemes involving the disposal of solid waste as a new crime in New York. “Illegal dumping is a significant problem and too often its costs are unjustly passed on to the community,” said Cuomo in a statement. “Not only does this legislation strengthen criminal penalties to ensure sanctions do not simply become another cost of doing business, but it further discourages large-scale illegal dumping by holding developers and waste haulers accountable for creating the problem in the first place.”Cuomo’s office stated that the legislation officially goes into effect on January 1The Governor also signed a law limiting the circumstances under which Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials can arrest people on immigration violations at state courthouses.The law, passed by the state Senate and Assembly in July, requires a warrant signed by a judge for ICE to make an immigration arrest. An arrest with an administrative warrant, which is not signed by a judge, or with no warrant at all would not be permitted.The law’s supporters said courthouse immigration arrests had increased in recent years under the Trump administration, leading to fear among some that going to court proceedings on other matters could expose them to immigration enforcement.In June, a federal judge blocked federal immigration authorities from making civil arrests at New York state courthouses or arresting anyone going there for a proceeding.The Associated Press contributed to this report. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Need Some Elbow Room? Head off-Broadway! The world premiere of Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter starts preview performances on July 31 at off-Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theatre. The new tuner, which features a book, music and lyrics by Ívar Páll Jónsson, stars Tony winner Cady Huffman and Kate Shindle. Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter Opening night for Revolution in the Elbow is set for August 13. In addition to Huffman and Shindle, the tuner features Rick Faugno, Michael Biren, Patrick Boll, Zach Cossman, Karli Dinardo, Danielle Kelsey, Graydon Long, Brad Nacht, Marrick Smith and Jesse Wildman. Directed by Bergur Þór Ingólfsson and based on a story by Ívar and Gunnlaugur Jónsson, Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter answers the hypothetical question, “have you ever wondered what’s going on inside your elbow?” (A question we have always asked ourselves.) The emotionally charged rock love story explores a love triangle set in Elbowville, a small community within Ragnar Agnarsson’s body. Elbowville mayor Manuela (Huffman) must deal with a crisis when a “prosperity machine” compromises the peace of the sweet little community. Related Shows View Comments Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 20, 2014
About the Artist: With a desire to celebrate the magic of live theater and those who create it, and with a deep reverence for such touchstones as the work of Al Hirschfeld and the wall at Sardi’s, Squigs is happy and grateful to be among those carrying on the traditions where theater and caricature meet. He was born and raised in Oregon, lived in Los Angeles for quite a long time and now calls New York City his home. Matilda Related Shows View Comments Squigs has gone a little bit naughty! The Broadway company of Matilda welcomed a host of new names not too long ago, including Allison Case as Miss Honey, Natalie Venetia Belcon as Mrs. Phelps and Rick Holmes and Amy Spanger as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, respectively. Broadway.com resident artist Justin “Squigs” Robertson caught a recent performance, and commemorated the new cast members—along with Chris Sieber as the terrifying Miss Trunchbull—with this portrait. Take a look above, then check them (and a host of extraordinarily talented maggots) out at the Shubert Theatre! Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 1, 2017
Billy Porter & Adam Smith(Photo: facebook.com/pg/Billy-Porter) View Comments Wedding bells will soon ring in the land of Lola. Broadway.com has confirmed that Kinky Boots Tony winner and Broadway favorite Billy Porter and his partner Adam Smith are engaged.Porter most recently appeared on Broadway in Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed. His additional stage credits include Angels in America, While I Yet Live (which he also wrote), Smokey Joe’s Café, Grease, Five Guys Named Moe and Miss Saigon. On screen, Porter has appeared in The Get Down, The Big C and Twisted.Best wishes to the happy couple!
Photo: Mike Isbell Taking a break during forestry practice are the four boys comprising the Heard County forestry team: (from left) Dustin Cook, Levi George, Caleb Pike and Phillip Nowicki. Dustin let out a squeal like a pig in peril.I had just told him and the other 11- and 12-year-old boys that the inch-long insects we were finding attached to pine trees werecalled periodic cicadas and were edible.I turned to see what Dustin was squealing about. He pointed to Levi and said, “Look!” Levi opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue. On the end of it was a big periodic cicada.Just about every Tuesday afternoon for the past nine weeks, things like that happened at forestry practice.Along with learning to identify 45 native trees, the boys at forestry practice were also learning to identify 25 insects and diseases that attack our trees. They learned how to determine timber volume (also known as cruising timber) and how to determine distance by pacing.4-H Forestry Field DayAll of this training was in preparation for the district 4-H forestry field day competition. The Heard County team won second place. The state 4-H forestry field day is Oct. 6.The boys — Caleb, Dustin, Levi, and Phillip — were all interested in learning something new and outside of school. They now know things about our forests that very few adults (and I dare say none of their classmates) know.These boys didn’t come to practice every week to become foresters. They came because they wanted to learn.I’ve trained many groups over the past 20 years.One of my very first was a group of boys from Troup County. They not only won the district competition, but went on to win the state competition and represented Georgia at the national forestry competition in Weston, W. Va.They placed third in the nation at that competition, losing to Florida and Texas. That was 20 years ago. None of them became foresters either.Learning, Competing, GrowingThat group of boys produced a medical doctor, a veterinarian, an electrical engineer and a businessman. All of them are still in or around Troup County.I’ve had just about as many girls on the teams as boys over the years. It’s a good learning experience for all of them. They all gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, our forest resources and how they contribute to our economy and quality of life.We’ve made it a tradition in Heard County to “initiate” the new team members. It’s nothing more than eating a green persimmon, which is one of the trees they have to identify.Ripe persimmons are pretty good. But if you’ve never tried a green persimmon, then by all means be prepared for your mouth to just about turn inside out.Caleb and Phillip had already eaten a green persimmon and knew better. Dustin and Levi ate one. And Dustin squealed again.
With sports practice, after-school activities and errands, families often struggle to find time for home-cooked meals. But being on the go doesn’t have to mean fast food is on the menu. To plan healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks on a tight schedule, Connie Crawley, a University of Georgia Extension nutrition and health specialist, says use MyPlate, the nutrition guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture, as a guide. Meal planning and health tips can be found online at ChooseMyPlate.gov. With a little forethought, food on a busy day can be a lot healthier than the fare offered at the local drive-thru. “Most snacks can be stored in a cooler or bought away from home if carefully planned … If you plan to eat out, go online to find the better choices before you leave home,” Crawley said. When parents make the choice to purchase fast food, it is important to look up options that are lower in fat and calories. “Decide what will be ordered before you go in,” Crawley said. “It might be best if one parent orders for everyone so changes to less healthy foods will not happen.” About 17 percent of fast food menu items can be considered “healthy choices,” according to fastfoodmarketing.org. On kid’s menus, approximately 12 of the 3,039 possible meal combinations meet nutritional criteria for preschoolers, and 15 combinations meet the criteria for older children. To combat occasional unhealthy eating, Crawley recommends balancing everything out with healthier at-home meals. “Unfortunately low sodium foods are rare in fast food or any restaurant,” Crawley said. “That means preparing and eating lower sodium foods at home and at school to make the overall intake of sodium less.” Snacks should be kept healthy too. When it’s time for baseball practice or dance lessons, children should have water before and after, and snacks should be kept light. “Nothing too elaborate or heavy,” Crawley said. These options can include fruit, nuts, whole grain cereal and other healthy foods. “If the child or teen is really doing a heavy workout for over an hour with a lot of sweat, this is the one time a sports drink may be useful,” Crawley said. If a child is not going to be this active, sports drinks should be avoided, and, as a general rule, energy drinks should be avoided all together. To stay healthy on the go, it’s important to remain aware of the nutritional value of different foods. Otherwise, options may be misleading. “You cannot always assume a chicken sandwich or a salad is the best choice. Fortunately, larger chains will soon be required to list their calorie and fat content on the overhead menus,” Crawley said. “The info. is not always too legible, but it will be there. Maybe that will help some families make better choices.”To help on-the-go families, UGA Extension provides a few tips for healthy snacks and meals. Simple snacksSimple snacks can include fruit (plain, dried or paired with sorbet or cottage cheese), yogurt, whole grain cereal, 100 percent frozen fruit bars, nuts for older children, trail mix — made with whole grain cereal, nuts and dried fruit —, homemade fruit breads and muffins (such as banana bread or carrot muffins), low-fat cheese with wholegrain bread or hummus and whole grain pita. Planned snacksA few snacks that can be made at home, then stored in a cooler or otherwise retained away from home include peanut butter sandwiches, salads with light dressing, milk in small boxes, hard-boiled eggs, single servings of cottage cheese, cut-up vegetables with light dip made with plain yogurt and homemade soups in thermos bottles. Before and after practice snacksCut-up fruit and/or vegetables, yogurt, milk, half a sandwich made with real turkey (not lunch meat) or low-fat cheese or whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese make good snacks for active kids. For more information on health related topics, contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
People around the world eat peanuts in all sorts of ways: as a roasted snack, as a powder sprinkled onto cereal, as a sauce blended into stew. But would consumers gulp down a peanut beverage? Aggrey Gama thinks so.Gama, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Griffin campus, is crafting a drink that would deliver the nutrition and tastiness of peanuts to consumers in his home country of Malawi.He recently returned to the U.S. from Malawi, where he visited with family and conducted surveys of potential consumers.“What are the factors that Malawians are considering when they are making food choices? That is what we wanted to know,” said Gama.He surveyed shoppers in the northern, central and southern regions of the country to find out how they prioritize nutrition, ease of preparation, cost and other factors. For their trouble, survey respondents received the equivalent of $1.“These consumers are completely different than the consumers in the U.S. It would not be practical to base assumptions on the priorities of the American consumer,” Gama said.Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 85 percent of the population lives in rural areas. That doesn’t mean that consumer preferences don’t matter.Developing a product that appeals to consumers can drive economic growth, creating demand for farmers’ produce and jobs for the people who manufacture food products. These jobs put cash into people’s pockets so that they can then buy the product.But getting a peanut beverage to market requires some basic information: Would consumers buy a drink that needs refrigeration or do they require something that is shelf-stable? Do mothers want a fully prepared drink or a concentrated one? Is cost the greatest factor or would people pay more for a tastier drink?The survey measured those opinions and more, but Gama was surprised how many people didn’t necessarily rank taste or nutrition highest. They wanted a drink to satisfy their hunger, a beverage that would make them feel full.“It’s a survival technique, hunger abatement,” he said.Data compiled by the country’s National Statistical Office show that 37 percent of Malawi’s children are stunted and 64 percent suffer from anemia. A beverage that fits consumers’ expectations for flavor and shelf life, while providing the vital nutrients found in peanuts, would offer multiple benefits.Gama will now head into the Sensory Evaluation and Consumer Laboratory, which is part of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ (CAES) facilities at UGA-Griffin. He’ll be working with six varieties of roasted peanuts that he brought from Malawi to create the peanut-based beverage. This product optimization will test the physical, chemical and sensory properties of various potential recipes and will allow Gama to develop the processing protocol.One of the questions he’ll face along the way is just how much oil is acceptable in the drink. He wants a filling drink, but the polyunsaturated fatty acids that make up about one-third of the fat in peanuts can go bad fairly quickly. Monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid are much more stable, but peanut breeders are still working to develop varieties for Africa with high oleic acid concentration, along with traditional traits for good flavor and disease resistance. “This is a bit more challenging because I am considering full-fat peanuts,” Gama said. “It is important because protein and fat are very expensive in my country.” The final drink formula might also include cow’s milk, an ingredient that many survey respondents favored. Once he has refined the recipe to meet all the important criteria — nutrition, shelf life, flavor, cost, etc. — Gama will return to Malawi to conduct taste tests with potential consumers. By the end of the project, he plans to have a product ready for a company to scale up to production. Gama, under the mentorship of CAES Assistant Professor Koushik Adhikari, has a fellowship from the Legume Scholars Program, a partnership between the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab and Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab. The program specifically targets promising young scientists from developing nations who will study in the U.S., then return to their countries and work to increase food security and household incomes for smallholder farmers through enhanced legume production, processing or marketing. Back in the U.S., where he has already completed the coursework for his doctorate at UGA in Athens, Georgia, Gama is analyzing the data from the consumer survey. “A lot of people were not satisfied with (the) diversity of peanut products on the market, but could not suggest alternatives they’d like to see,” he said. While many groundnut farmers in Malawi are smallholders who sell into an informal market, a formal market does exist. Creating new products that appeal to consumers creates a loop that adds sustainability to the market. Processors buy the local peanut crop, which increases farmers’ profitability. Farmers have more expendable cash, so they buy more of the peanut beverage and processors buy even more peanuts. In two years, by the time Gama completes his doctoral work, the product will be ready to scale up to commercial production.Gama always knew he wanted to work on the food supply, but he wasn’t certain how. Raised by grandparents who were primary school teachers, he learned the value of education at a young age. Still, he watched as his grandparents grew maize, beans and groundnuts for the household and realized how important food safety and security is to a society. After getting a bachelor’s degree 10 years ago, he first went to work in the dairy industry, then with the Malawi Bureau of Standards. After a few years, he returned to school at the University of Leeds in the U.K., then went on to UGA. He is currently an academic member of staff in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi.“Whatever you do in school, that may change. But you should choose something that can help you to stand on your own, even if you are unemployed,” he said. “There are careers in research, but I also see vendors selling things to eat on the street and think, ‘That’s food science, too.’”
Each year, we set New Year’s goals. Some we achieve, while some are as good as gone by Jan. 2. Just because you fell short last year doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to make some positive changes this year.University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers five nutrition and physical activity goals worth trying in 2018.Eat more whole grains. The evidence of the benefits of whole grains on our hearts, waistlines, and most recently, cancer risks, keep getting stronger. Try overnight oats for breakfast, a salad with wheat berries for lunch or add whole-wheat couscous as a side at dinner.Try meatless Monday. Whatever day of the week you choose, planning a meatless meal can be a good idea. A plant-based diet is recommended for general health and to prevent cancer and heart disease. Consider putting plant-based sources of protein in place of steak, chicken or eggs. Burrito bowls with brown rice and beans, tofu stir-fry or lentil soup could easily be worked into your weeknight dinner rotation.Cook at home more. It may sound cliché, but eating at home can really help control your calorie and salt intake. Even when we choose lower calorie options on restaurant menus, the sodium is often sky high. Make a commitment to bring lunch from home one more day per week in 2018 or commit to cooking at home for dinner one more night each week.Buy a spiralizer. Purchase a spiralizer, a small piece of kitchen equipment that will make you excited to cook healthier. Whether you get a spiralizer for zucchini noodles or an immersion blender for quick soups and smoothies, buy something that will make healthier options seem fun. Healthy toys are worth the investment.Commit to HIIT. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good way to blast calories in a small amount of time. This type of exercise can be great for a busy parent or traveling executive, but it’s not for everyone. Whatever your fitness preferences, make goals and prioritize them. Your heart and emotions will thank you.Although you may have thrown in the towel on resolutions last year, when Jan. 1, 2018, comes around, don’t be afraid to add your old resolutions to your list again. They are worth the old “college try” again and again. Have a happy and healthy 2018.For more information on nutrition and physical activity, check out choosemyplate.gov and visit the UGA Extension publications website at extension.uga.edu/publications.html.