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Tuesday 11/18/2014
Ringgold’s electronic sign dilemma still up in the air
Posted: November 18, 2014

A passionate crowd attended a special called Ringgold city council meeting on Monday night, Nov. 17 to discuss the ongoing debate over the city’s informative electronic sign that is currently located downtown in Citizen’s Park.

Monday 11/17/2014
Why airfare keeps rising despite lower oil prices
Posted: November 17, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. airlines are saving tens of millions of dollars every week because of lower prices for jet fuel, their largest expense. So why don't they share some of the savings with passengers?

Simply put: Airlines have no compelling reason to offer any breaks. Planes are full. Investors want a payout. And new planes are on order.

In fact, fares are going higher. And those bag fees that airlines instituted in 2008 when fuel prices spiked aren't going away either.

In the 12 months ended in September, U.S. airlines saved $1.6 billion on jet fuel. That helped them post a 5.7 percent profit margin in the first three quarters of this year, robust for the industry but lagging behind the 10 percent average for the Standard & Poor's 500.

In the past six years, airlines have done a great job of adjusting the number of flights to fall just short of demand. As a result, those who want to fly will pay a premium to do so. Airlines are selling a record 85.1 percent of their domestic seats. Thanks to several mega-mergers, four big airlines control the vast majority of flights, leaving very little room for another airline to undercut fares.

With that in mind, here's a closer look at what's going on with airfare and the price of jet fuel:

— The average domestic airline ticket during the first nine months of this year rose 3.1 percent to $374.96, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes ticket transactions for airlines and travel agencies. That figure doesn't include another $56.32 in taxes and fees that passengers pay.

— In the 12-month period ending in September, U.S. airlines burned through nearly 16.2 billion gallons of fuel. They paid an average of $2.97 a gallon — down from $3.07 the prior year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That 10-cent drop saved the industry $1.6 billion. Fuel prices have since fallen further. United Airlines estimates it will pay $2.76 to $2.81 a gallon during the last three months of the year.

— Put another way: U.S. airlines burn through 311 million gallons of fuel in a week. Lower fuel prices are saving them $31 million a week.

— Granted, with 751 million passengers carried last year that averages out to a savings of $2.15 for each leg of a trip a passenger takes: $4.30 on a roundtrip non-stop ticket or $8.61 on a roundtrip connecting itinerary.

— Fuel accounts for 34 percent of an airline's operating costs. The non-fuel costs include salaries and benefits, lease payments on airplanes, maintenance and fees for landing at airports. That doesn't include the cost of reservation systems, marketing or food and drinks.

— Airlines are also reinvesting in their planes, airport terminals and computers. In the first nine months of this year, U.S. carriers spent $10.2 billion on capital improvements, according to the industry's trade and lobbying group, Airlines for America. That more than $1 billion a month, the highest pace since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

— Airlines are on the largest jet-buying spree in the history of aviation, ordering more than 10,000 new planes with manufacturers Airbus and Boeing in the past five years. Those orders are for new, fuel efficient planes. A temporary drop in oil prices shouldn't slow that process. New jets last 15 to 20 years and the buying is driven by cheap credit almost as much as high oil prices.

— Money is also going back to investors. American Airlines this year paid its first dividend in 34 years, while Delta Air Lines restored its payout last year. Southwest Airlines, which has paid one for more than 37 years, boosted its payout by 50 percent this spring. The airlines are all also buying back large amounts of their own stock.

— Airlines responded to high fuel prices by limiting the number of flights, giving them the power to charge higher fares. Now, Wall Street analysts are worried that lower oil prices are causing them to recklessly add new routes or extra flights where profits aren't guaranteed. Hunter Keay, an analyst with Wolfe Research, recently wrote in a note to investors that the beauty of high oil prices is that they "force airlines to make hard choices that are almost always good for the long term investability of the space, mainly around capacity decisions and fees."

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Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

Friday 11/14/2014
German labor chief: VW must halt anti-union group
Posted: November 14, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The head of the German union representing automotive workers is speaking out against Volkswagen working with anti-labor groups at its plant in Tennessee.

IG Metall President Detlef Wetzel said in a statement Friday from Frankfurt, Germany, that called on Volkswagen to "show its true colors" in officially recognizing the United Auto Workers union as its bargaining partner at the Chattanooga factory once the union proves it has signed up a majority of workers there.

"It is our objective to guarantee also under the politically difficult circumstances in the United States that labor union rights are respected and codetermination in the plant is possible," Wetzel said.

Under German law, worker representatives hold half the seats on the board of Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen, which lends added weight to Wetzel's position. It also appears to reflect some concern that a new company policy released this week could serve to undermine efforts by its U.S. ally, the United Auto Workers, to organize its first foreign automaker in the South.

Volkswagen management has been under heavy pressure from union representatives on the board because the U.S. plant stands alone among the automaker's worldwide facilities without formal labor representation for workers. The company has voiced support for creating a German-style works council to represent both salaried and hourly workers, but says U.S. law requires it to work with an independent union to create one.

Volkswagen this week established guidelines for giving labor groups that sign up at least 15 percent of workers access to plant facilities and to regular meetings with management. While the policy would apply to the United Auto Workers, it could also benefit the American Council of Employees, an organization led by workers who spearheaded efforts to defeat the UAW in a union vote in February.

"IG Metall will not accept if Volkswagen treats the UAW just as one as those groups who have acted in the past resolutely against the union," he said. "There must not be any cooperation between Volkswagen and anti-union groups or yellow unions."

So-called yellow unions are organizations more focused on representing company interests than those of the workers. Sean Moss, the president of the American Council Employees in Chattanooga, has argued that the group opposes the UAW, but not unions as a whole. The group's goal is to "present employees with a clear choice and an alternative to the Detroit-led failed alternative," Moss said earlier this week.

The UAW decried the influence of Republican politicians and Washington-based anti-union groups in churning up the opposition in advance of the February election. The UAW ended up losing that vote 712-626, and soon filed a challenge with the National Labor Relations Board.

The UAW said earlier this week that it had signed a written agreement with VW management to abandon that complaint and to work toward landing the production of a new SUV at the plant in exchange for eventual recognition by the company as bargaining partner at the plant.

This week's labor policy was seen as a key step toward gaining that status, but a lack of detail in the guidelines has left many questions unanswered.

Harvard University labor law professor Benjamin Sachs said the policy commits plant managers to regular meetings with labor groups, but doesn't lay out any binding outcomes for those talks.

"On paper that's not much of a commitment, you could satisfy that by sitting down, listening to what organizations have to say and then leaving," he said. "That's very different than what the law gives unions, which is a right to bargain."

Tuesday 11/11/2014
Heartland Therapeutic Programs Arcade hosts grand opening at Orange Grove Center
Posted: November 11, 2014

The Orange Grove Center, 615 Derby Street, in Chattanooga, Tenn., cut a new ribbon on Friday, Oct. 31, to mark the official opening of the Heartland Therapeutic Programs Arcade for research.

Tailgate-a-Palooza generates over 42,000 cans of food
Posted: November 11, 2014

First Volunteer Bank’s Tailgate-a-Palooza generated 42,034 cans of food that benefited 15 food banks. In Catoosa County more than 6,898 cans of food were dropped off at the bank’s offices for Christ Chapel. Those cans translate to 5,404 meals provided. Nearly 200 community banks submitted nominations for this year’s program. First Volunteer was one of five community banks nationwide receiving the honorable mention service award.

Walker County Farm Bureau hosts farm and city tour
Posted: November 11, 2014

Walker County Extension and Walker County Farm Bureau worked together recently to host a farm/city tour. Through the event, 18 local businessmen and women spent an afternoon touring local farms and visiting with the farmers, discussing the products they grow.

Huff of Chickamauga honored by Modern Woodmen of America
Posted: November 11, 2014

Modern Woodmen of America has a Hometown Hero Program that recognizes local citizens for their hard work and dedication to their community. Recently, MWA honored Mary Lynn Huff of Chickamauga. She has dedicated countless hours of time, service and support to her local hospital, Hutcheson Medical Center, for years. As a small token of appreciation and on behalf of Modern Woodmen of America, Bob Wilson presented Huff with the Hometown Hero Award and a $100 check to the charity of her choice, which she donated to the Gordon Lee Middle School 4-H club because of her fond memories of the club when she was growing up.

Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce seeks nominations for business awards
Posted: November 11, 2014

The Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for the annual awards. Please submit nominations for:

Sunday 11/09/2014
Funds for Family Crisis Center
Posted: November 09, 2014

Jon Land, of Sonic Drive-In in LaFayette, hands a $1,000 check to Kristy Lawson of the Family Crisis Center. Sonic helped raise funds for the center with 10 percent in sales collected on Oct. 25 at the Sonic in LaFayette’s 25th anniversary.

Friday 11/07/2014
Jury orders Ringgold anti-aging doctor to pay man $250,000 for negligent care
Updated: November 07, 2014 - 12:51 pm

A Catoosa County jury recently ruled in favor of an Ooltewah, Tenn., man who claimed that a Ringgold anti-aging doctor provided him with neglectful care by giving him a breast cancer drug that nearly killed him.

Walker County restaurant reports for October 2014
Posted: November 07, 2014

Walker County Environmental Health, part of the Georgia Department of Public Health, conducted 33 food service inspections at the following restaurants, schools or establishments where food is served during October 2014.

Thursday 11/06/2014
Georgia Farm Bureau celebrates Farm-City Week Nov. 21-27
Updated: November 06, 2014 - 4:52 pm

Do you enjoy a t-shirt and a good pair of blue jeans? You’re in a great place. Georgia farmers produce nearly two 480-pound bales of cotton per acre. One bale contains enough cotton to make 215 pairs of blue jeans or 1,217 men’s t-shirts.

Rhinehart Farms recognized by Walker County Farm Bureau
Updated: November 06, 2014 - 2:31 pm

Rhinehart Farms was recognized during the Walker County Farm Bureau annual meeting held on Thursday, Oct. 2. They were recognized for outstanding support for Walker County Farm Bureau and agriculture in the classroom.

Deal: October revenues up 5.9 percent
Posted: November 06, 2014

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia’s net tax collections for October totaled $1.55 billion, an increase of $87 million, or 5.9 percent, compared to October 2013. Year-to-date, net tax revenue collections totaled $6.24 billion, which was an increase of $298.5 million, or 5 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year, when net tax revenues totaled $5.94 billion after four months. Year-to-date gross tax revenues, before refunds and distributions to local governments, totaled nearly $8.2 billion, which was an increase of $453.5 million, or 5.9 percent, compared to October 2013.

Ridley Family Farm presented J.C. Pope award by Walker County Farm Bureau
Updated: November 06, 2014 - 2:31 pm

The Walker County Farm Bureau held their annual farmer membership meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at the Walker County Ag Center with close to 100 farmer and family members present.

Walker County pharmacist recognized by medical society
Posted: November 06, 2014

The Walker Catoosa Dade Medical Society has met monthly since 1956 to consider items of healthcare provision for the people of North Georgia.

Wednesday 11/05/2014
Holmes Clothing considered landmark in Cedartown
Updated: November 06, 2014 - 9:40 am

Holmes Clothing, located at 235 Main Street, will celebrate 120 years in 2015.

Big disappointment: Start date for Fort Oglethorpe's LaFayette Road revamp at least four years away
Updated: November 05, 2014 - 7:57 am

Disappointment and surprise could be heard from the audience attending the Fort Oglethorpe council meeting Oct. 27, as city manager Ron Goulart announced that the estimated start date for the LaFayette Road project is four to five years down the road.

Tuesday 11/04/2014
National Park Service celebrates new public access on Moccasin Bend
Posted: November 04, 2014

The National Park Service and the Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park invite the public to help celebrate the opening of newly accessible federal property within the Moccasin Bend National Archeological District on Hamm Road in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Chickamauga Park offers programs on Moccasin Bend Battery
Posted: November 04, 2014

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park invites the public to participate in two free programs at Moccasin Bend National Archeological District on Saturday, Nov. 8.

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