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Wednesday 12/17/2014
Hospitals cutting payrolls to cope with hard times
Posted: December 17, 2014

A recent series of job cuts shows that tough financial times remain for the state’s hospitals – and may get worse next year, experts say.

Ebola, celebrity deaths tops for 2014 web searches in GA
Posted: December 17, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — The Ebola virus and celebrities who died this year dominated search trends in Georgia.

That's according to a report from Google released Tuesday. The search engine reports that "Ebola" was fifth trending search term. It also appeared in lists for news and event searches and top ten definitions in 2014.

Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Maya Angelou also made appearances on the top 10 trending search list.

Georgia is home to the Centers for Disease Control, which continues to play a role in fighting the virus in some west African countries and to Emory University. The first two Americans to be flown home for treatment came to the Emory campus in Atlanta.

Tuesday 12/16/2014
Answers to addiction: Program uses questions to help find a solution
Posted: December 16, 2014

Tony Sanchez has been drug-free and alcohol-free for more than a decade.

An early rally fizzles, leaving US indexes lower
Updated: December 16, 2014 - 4:21 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are ending slightly lower after an early rally fizzled.

AAA: 98.6 million Americans travelling this holiday season
Posted: December 16, 2014

TAMPA, Fla.  – The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume on record (AAA travel data dates back to 2001). AAA projects 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million people who traveled last year. The year-end holiday period is defined as Tuesday, December 23 to Sunday, January 4.

Twins Pizza and Steaks in LaFayette to host free Christmas Day lunch
Updated: December 16, 2014 - 11:13 am

Twins Pizza and Steaks in LaFayette will offer a free meal for citizens who are interested and need a place to go eat on Christmas Day.

Oil price plunge creates economic winners, losers
Posted: December 16, 2014

MILWAUKEE — The pain at the pump is gone for now, but could we begin to feel it elsewhere?

Monday 12/15/2014
Why oil is down by half, what it means for you
Posted: December 15, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil has fallen by nearly half in just six months, a surprising and steep plunge that has consumers cheering, producers howling and economists wringing their hands over whether this is a good or bad thing.

The price of a barrel of oil is just under $56, down from a summer high of $107, and lower than at any time since the U.S. was still in recession in the spring of 2009.

So what's going on? A global imbalance of supply and demand that is rippling across the world economy, for better and worse.

SUPPLIES GO BOOM

Years of high oil prices, interrupted briefly by the recession, inspired drillers around the world to scour the earth's crust for more oil.

They found it.

Since 2008 oil companies in the U.S., for example, have increased production by 70 percent, or 3.5 million barrels of oil per day. To put that in perspective, that increase alone is more than the production of any OPEC member other than Saudi Arabia.

As U.S. production was ramping up, turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa reduced supplies from Libya, Iran and elsewhere. A balance was struck: Increasing supplies from outside of OPEC and from Iraq's recovering oil industry helped meet rising demand around the world as other OPEC supplies waivered.

But now those OPEC supplies look more certain despite continuing turmoil, and those non-OPEC supplies have swamped the market. OPEC estimated last week that the world would need 28.9 million barrels of its oil per day next year, the lowest in more than a decade. At the same time, OPEC countries plan to produce 30 million barrels of oil per day next year. That supply surplus is sending global prices lower.

DEMAND GOES BUST

Global demand is still expected to grow next year, but by far less than many thought earlier this year. The economies of China, Japan and Western Europe — the top oil consumers after the United States — all appear to be weakening. Oil demand falls when economic growth stalls.

The U.S. is still the world's largest consumer, but more fuel-efficient cars and changing demographics mean demand for oil and gasoline is not increasing. The Energy Department predicts a slight decrease in gasoline demand next year even though the price is expected to be sharply lower and the economy is expected to grow.

THE HAPPY CONSUMERS

For drivers, shippers, airlines and other consumers of fuel, there's nothing not to like about the drop in oil prices.

The national average gasoline price has fallen for 81 straight days to $2.55 a gallon, its lowest level since October of 2009, according to AAA. It's $1.15 a gallon cheaper than its high for the year, saving U.S. households $100 a month as they shop for holiday presents. "Any time gas prices go down that is a good thing," said Randy Daniels, 30, who was shopping recently at the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. "An extra 20 or 30 bucks in my pocket goes far."

Diesel and jet fuel prices have also plunged, helping boost the profits and share prices of airlines and shippers. Heating oil is the cheapest it has been in four years, reducing home heating prices just in time for winter for many in the chilly Northeast.

THE WORRIED ECONOMISTS

Falling fuel prices act like a tax cut and help boost consumer spending, which in turn accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. But economists are growing concerned that there are other, more troublesome forces at play.

The depth of oil's plunge could be a signal that the global economy is struggling even more than economists think. A weak global economy could hurt the U.S. economy by reducing exports, employment and spending, which together could outweigh the economic benefits of cheaper fuel.

THE PRODUCERS' PAIN

For oil companies, oil-producing states, and oil-exporting countries, the oil price collapse is painful.

Oil companies generally keep producing oil from wells they've already drilled, but lower prices sharply reduce revenue and force them to cut back spending on new exploration projects. BP announced last week it would try to trim $1 billion in spending next year in a move that analysts say could result in thousands of job cuts.

States that rely on taxes from energy production such as Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas will see lower revenues and some have already had to trim budgets.

Major oil exporters such as Iran, Iraq, Russia and Venezuela rely heavily on revenues from state-owned oil companies to run their governments and are struggling under major budget shortfalls. For example, Bank of America estimates that every $1 drop in the global price of oil costs Venezuela $770 million in annual revenue. Current prices are now $46 below last year's average, putting the country on pace for a $36 billion reduction in revenue.

___

AP Business Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this story from Atlanta. Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .

LaFayette unveils details of proposed truck route
Posted: December 15, 2014

The city of LaFayette last week revealed details for a truck route around the downtown area for 18-wheelers making deliveries.

Sunday 12/14/2014
Blood Assurance announces holiday hours
Posted: December 14, 2014

Blood Assurance, your regional non-profit blood center, would like to invite you to gift the gift of life this holiday season.

Catoosa Family Practice moves to Hutcheson on the Parkway
Posted: December 14, 2014

Hutcheson’s newest medical office, Catoosa Family Practice, moved locations and now offers convenient services at Hutcheson on the Parkway. Longtime area physician Steve Daugherty, and his physician assistant Dennis Kurz will continue to serve patients by appointment or walk-in.

Fort Oglethorpe Kiwanis Club supports Stockings Full of Love program
Posted: December 14, 2014

The Fort Oglethorpe Kiwanis Club continued its support of youth by presenting Catoosa sheriff Gary Sisk and Walker County sheriff Steve Wilson with a donation for the Stockings Full of Love program for each of their counties. Jim Coltrin, program chair, introduced each sheriff who spoke about their program and the great need met by the generous support of civic clubs, churches, businesses, schools and individuals. 

Downey joins First Volunteer Bank
Posted: December 14, 2014

First Volunteer Bank is pleased to announce that Lesa C. Downey has joined the bank as vice president and business relationship banker.

Saturday 12/13/2014
Sims re-lected to Georgia Farm Bureau board as vice president
Updated: December 13, 2014 - 4:04 pm

Georgia Farm Bureau members in the organization’s north region re-elected Bernard Sims of Catoosa County to represent their region on the Georgia Farm Bureau board of directors for his third, three-year term. The election was held Dec. 9 during the 2014 Georgia Farm Bureau annual convention on Jekyll Island. The GFB North Region is comprised of 49 counties in north Georgia.

Georgia Farm Bureau donates $20,000 to state food bank association
Posted: December 13, 2014

Georgia Farm Bureau’s annual Harvest For All campaign is aimed at providing food to those who have struggled to put food on the table. For the fifth straight year, the campaign solicited cash donations in 2014.

Lafayette Woman’s Club makes a donation to Primary Healthcare for lice kits
Posted: December 13, 2014

The Lafayette Woman’s Club presented Primary HealthCare with a check for over $300 to be used to buy lice kits for local families in need.

Friday 12/12/2014
Dow drops more than 300 as oil continues to plunge
Posted: December 12, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average is closing more than 300 points lower, its worst loss in two months.

Traders were discouraged Friday by another slump in the price of oil and more signs of weakness in China.

The Dow dropped 315 points, or 1.8 percent, to 17,280. The Dow had its first losing week since October.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,002. The Nasdaq slid 54 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,653.

Oil prices sank again after the International Energy Agency said global demand will grow less than previously forecast next year.

Crude tumbled $2.14, or 3.6 percent, to $57.81 a barrel. It's down 47 percent since June.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.09 percent.

Thursday 12/11/2014
Holiday shopping boosts US retail sales
Posted: December 11, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales perked up in November, as cheaper gas and an improving job market fueled a promising start to the holiday shopping season.

An early stock market rally fizzles as oil drops to $59.95 a barrel
Updated: December 11, 2014 - 4:17 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A rally on the stock market fizzled toward the end of trading as the price of oil sank.

Wednesday 12/10/2014
Stocks slump as oil price drop sinks energy sector
Posted: December 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing sharply slower as another plunge in the price of oil dragged down the energy sector.

Exxon Mobil and Chevron were among the biggest decliners in the Dow Jones industrial average Wednesday.

The Dow lost 268 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,533. That was its worst drop in two months.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 33 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,026. The Nasdaq composite fell 82 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,684.

The price of crude oil sank $2.88, or 4.5 percent, to $60.94 a barrel in New York. That's a five-year low.

Oil fell after the U.S. Energy Department reported an increase in domestic inventories and OPEC projected that demand would sink next year to levels not seen in more than a decade.

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