Economic development is nothing new for the University of Georgia, but there’s a shift in focus and a new emphasis under new UGA President Jere Morehead.
It was more than two decades ago when Audrey Lee opened Cedartown Pet Boutique on Main Street. Lee remembers the week well after she spent days like everyone else in Polk County at the time, digging out from the blizzard of 1993.
Rockmart Batting Cages is now open for business.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling and bond prices are rising as tensions build over Russia's military presence in the Ukraine.
The price of crude oil rose as traders feared that Russian oil exports might be disrupted if Western governments impose sanctions on Moscow.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 153 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 16,168 Monday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,845. The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Friday.
The Nasdaq composite fell 30 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,277.
Russia's benchmark stock index plunged 12 percent. Stocks also fell sharply in Europe. Germany's DAX fell the most, 3.4 percent.
The price of gold rose to a four-month high as traders sought safety.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is driving ahead with a dramatic reduction in sulfur in gasoline and tailpipe emissions, declaring that cleaner air will save thousands of lives per year at little cost to consumers.
Public health groups and automakers cheered the new rules, finalized Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency, with some insisting they could prove to be President Barack Obama's signature environmental accomplishment in his second term. The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, panned the move, calling it gratuitous and accusing the government of grossly underestimating the increased cost at the pump.
"The benefits far outweigh the costs," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, calling it a win for both consumers and automakers. "These standards will reduce pollution, they'll clean the air we breathe and protect the health of American families."
In the works for years, the rules require refineries to cut sulfur levels in the gasoline by about two-thirds by 2017. Less sulfur in gasoline makes it easier for a car's pollution controls to effectively filter out emissions, resulting in cleaner air, the EPA says. For car manufacturers, stricter limits on tailpipe emissions will require engineering changes so that cars weed out more pollution.
More than 2,000 premature deaths and about 50,000 cases of kids with respiratory problems will be avoided by 2030 if the rules go into effect, the EPA said.
The cost to consumers: Less than a penny per gallon of gas, McCarthy said. The EPA also projects the rules will raise the average cost of buying a vehicle by $72 in 2025.
But not everyone agrees.
The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil and gas industry, pointed to studies it has commissioned estimating that the limits would add 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon to refiners' manufacturing costs while requiring $10 billion in capital costs. American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, a trade group, called it "the most recent example of the agency's propensity for illogical and counterproductive rulemaking."
"This rule is all pain and no gain," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. "This winter's cold snap underscores just how vulnerable American families and businesses are to any increases in energy costs, and yet the administration is moving forward to raise prices at the pump."
Pushing back on those charges, McCarthy said that API's study constituted an "outdated estimate" that didn't account for changes the EPA made to the rules after receiving public comment — such as a phasing-in that gives some refineries more flexibility to come into compliance.
"We stand behind our estimate," said Bob Greco, API's downstream group director.
The political wrangling over the latest round of regulations to hit the energy industry offered a familiar reprise of a long-running debate over Obama's attempts to use his regulatory power to clean up the nation's sources of fuel.
With just a few years left in his term and no appetite in Congress for major environmental legislation, Obama has vowed to take action unilaterally to tackle climate change and other pollution. Energy advocates have staunchly opposed Obama's proposed emissions limits on new and existing power plants, and accuse him of dallying on approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. The issue promises to play a prominent role in the 2014 midterm elections, as Democrats from energy-dependent states find themselves squeezed between economic and environmental concerns.
Tellingly, there was little pushback from the auto industry, with major automakers like Ford, Toyota and Honda praising the EPA for setting one standard for emissions that will apply nation-wide. California already uses the new sulfur standard, and while the U.S. has tightened sulfur limits twice before, it still lags behind many other countries.
"The EPA has effectively harmonized the federal and state emissions requirements, and that's a big deal for us," said Mike Robinson, a vice president at General Motors Co. "It allows us to engineer, build and calibrate vehicles on a national basis."
Breathing the pollutants that come out of a car's tailpipe leads to coughing and shortness of breath for healthy adults, but for those with underlying conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, the implications can be grave: asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and ultimately death, said Paul Billings, the American Lung Association's vice president.
The Obama administration already has moved to clean up motor vehicles by adopting rules that will increase fuel efficiency and putting in place standards to reduce the pollution from cars and trucks blamed for global warming.
Vanessa Heath has been honored as Polk Medical Center’s first DAISY award winner. The DAISY Award celebrates nurses who demonstrate exceptional clinical skill and provide compassionate bedside care.
NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines are once again upping the ante in their international first-class service. But this time, it has little to do with fancy meals or comfy chairs. The carriers are focused on letting wealthy fliers pass through airports without having to mingle with the masses.
Among the recent additions:
— American Airlines now offers its top customers and anyone flying international first class a private check-in area at its terminals in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Travelers exit through hidden doors leading to the front of security lines.
— United Airlines has a similar setup in Chicago and Newark, N.J.
— Delta Air Lines will drive its top passengers who have a tight connection in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York or Minneapolis from one plane to another in a Porsche. They never have to enter the terminal.
— United does the same in Mercedes-Benz GL-Class vehicles at Chicago, Houston and Newark.
— Emirates Airline has separate floors in its Dubai A380 concourse for premium passengers and coach fliers. The two groups board jets through separate gates, never interacting.
— London's Heathrow Airport has opened private suites, originally designed for the royal family, to passengers flying business or first class, for an extra $2,500. Fliers using them receive their own immigration and security screening.
— Lufthansa offers first-class passengers a separate terminal in Frankfurt. There's a restaurant, cigar lounge and dedicated immigration officers. When it's time to board, passengers are driven across the tarmac to their plane in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Porsche Cayenne.
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott .
ATLANTA (AP) — Economists expect solid job growth in Georgia during the rest of 2014, with help from the housing market and the state's manufacturing and technology industries.
Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, says economic growth may be slightly slower than in 2013. However, he said that prospects for this year have brightened a bit in recent months with a congressional compromise on the federal budget.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Dhawan issued the center's quarterly outlook on Wednesday.
He said that a surge of technology jobs means a higher proportion of new positions will pay well.
Dhawan also predicted that Georgia's unemployment rate — now at 7.4 percent — will continue to drop, averaging 6.7 percent this year and 6 percent in two year.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
ATLANTA -- The number of jobs in Georgia will rise 2.1 percent this year, and personal income will improve 4.7 percent, but greater gains will be limited by weak investment by corporations, according to an economic forecast released Wednesday.
ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines is making fundamental changes to its frequent flier program and will reward those who buy its priciest tickets, as opposed to those who fly the most miles.
It will be the first major carrier to make such a change and other airlines will certainly be watching to see how travelers react to the change.
Delta said Wednesday that the 2015 SkyMiles program will better recognize frequent business travelers and leisure customers who buy premium fares.
It's a bid to lure the much-sought-after business traveler, but it will affect everyone who flies with the carrier and uses the program.
Delta had been moving in the direction of a revenue-based program. In January 2013 the company said that its 2014 frequent fliers would need to spend at least $2,500 to qualify for the lowest level of elite status. Previously, they could qualify on miles alone.
A revenue-based program generally rewards business travelers. Those fliers are critical to airlines because they book flights on short notice and buy more expensive tickets, versus the typical leisure traveler that plans a trip well in advance and hunts for the cheapest fares.
JetBlue Airways Corp.'s "True Blue" frequent flier program already awards points based on dollars spent, not on miles. And in 2011 Southwest Airlines Co. changed its frequent flier program to reward more-expensive tickets.
But the change by a carrier that has the reach of Delta could signal a more definitive shift in catering more to those sitting in the front of the plane, rather than the back-seaters.
Delta Air Lines Inc., based in Atlanta, says it's making the announcement about changes to its SkyMiles program 10 months in advance so customers have ample time to make travel plans. The new program goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Delta said that other program updates will include a new mileage redemption structure that will improve Award seat availability at the lowest mileage requirement levels; offering One-Way Awards at half the price of round-trip and providing additional Miles + Cash Award options.
CEDARTOWN — The new Polk Medical Center is expected to be complete in August, officials from Cedartown, Polk County and Floyd Medical Center heard Tuesday during a visit to the construction site.
Some folks have been asking lately something along the lines of “whatever happened to the editor at the paper?”
CHATSWORTH, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia Department of Labor is hosting a recruitment event to fill hundreds of jobs at a textile manufacturing plant in northwest Georgia.
The state of Georgia is planning to build a $10 million facility in northwest Georgia to train workers for jobs at Volkswagen'sChattanooga manufacturing plant and its suppliers.
Outdoor outfitter Cabela’s has announced plans to build a store in Fort Oglethorpe, giving the chain a third location in Georgia seven years after abandoning plans in the city of Adairsville.
Cedartown, Ga. – Providing local entrepreneurs with tools for success will be the highlight of two free business workshops planned during the month of March. The workshops, sponsored by the City of Cedartown, in strategic partnership with Georgia Northwestern Technical College, are planned for March 11 at 5:30 p.m. and March 21 at 8:30 a.m. Both will take place at Cedartown City Hall at 201 East Ave.
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota said Wednesday it is recalling 1.9 million hybrid Prius cars globally for a software glitch that could cause the vehicle to stall.
Toyota Motor Corp. said that 997,000 Prius cars in Japan, some 713,000 in North America, another 130,000 in Europe and the rest in other regions are being recalled for a problem in the software to control the hybrid system.
No accidents or injuries have been reported related to the problem.
The software could cause transistors to become damaged, causing warnings lights to go off, driving power to be reduced or the car to stop. The recalled vehicles were manufactured between March 2009 and February 2014.
The Japanese automaker suffered massive recalls starting in 2009, affecting more than 14 million vehicles for problems including floor mats, gas pedals and brakes.
McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The IRS on Tuesday lost a federal appeal in a legal battle over its effort to institute competency exams and other new regulations for as many as 700,000 paid tax preparers.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld a lower court's ruling last year that the IRS lacked authority to impose the new rules without congressional authorization.
The regulations were challenged by the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Va., a libertarian legal group that has filed a variety of lawsuits challenging occupational licensing laws. It argued that the proposed regulations for tax preparers were onerous and would have put thousands of mom-and-pop tax preparers out of business.
Dan Alban, a lawyer for the institute who argued the case in front of the D.C. circuit, called the ruling "a clear win both for tax preparers and taxpayers" and said it could have broad implications for federal agencies that attempt to issue regulations without a mandate from Congress.
"Congress never gave the IRS the power to license tax preparers, and the IRS cannot give itself that authority," Alban said.
The IRS has said the rules are needed to weed out ill-trained and incompetent tax preparers. It said it had the authority to impose the regulations under an 1884 law passed to help Civil War soldiers seeking compensation for dead horses.
That law authorizes the IRS to "regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury" but the appellate judges said it should not be stretched to give the IRS regulatory dominion over tax preparers.
"It might be that allowing the IRS to regulate tax-return preparers more stringently would be wise as a policy matter. But that is a decision for Congress and the President to make if they wish by enacting new legislation," Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion joined by David Sentelle and Stephen Williams. "The IRS may not unilaterally expand its authority through such an expansive, atextual, and ahistorical reading" of the law.
Kavanaugh was appointed to the court by George W. Bush. Sentelle and Williams are both Reagan appointees.
On Tuesday the IRS said it is reviewing the decision and "continues to believe that it's critical for taxpayers to be able to rely on quality work from tax preparers."
Paid tax preparers fill out 60 percent of all U.S. tax returns, according to a study from the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog agency. The GAO has found significant problems over the years in the quality of work done by them. In one 2006 study, the GAO took tax returns to 19 different commercial tax preparers, and 17 of 19 incorrectly calculated the taxes due.
The regulations sought by the IRS would have required preparers to pass a qualifying exam, pay an annual application fee, and take 15 hours annually of continuing-education courses. Attorneys and CPAs would have been exempt from the rules.
Had the regulations not been challenged, they would have taken effect this year.
Sabina Loving, an independent tax preparer from Chicago who was the lead plaintiff on the case, said in a statement that "(m)y customers — not the IRS — should be the ones who get to choose who prepares their taxes. I have a right to earn an honest living without getting permission from the IRS."
NEW YORK (AP) — Chick-fil-A says its plans to serve only chicken raised without antibiotics within the next five years.
The Atlanta-based chain says it's working with suppliers to build up an adequate supply for its nearly 1,800 restaurants. It says it's asking suppliers to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to verify that no antibiotics are administered on the chickens at any point.
The use of antibiotics to fatten up farm animals and prevent disease has become a growing concern. The fear is that the practice could lead to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs, though the actual health effects on humans have not been established.
Still, many consumers don't like the idea of eating meat raised with antibiotics, and serving meat was raised without antibiotics can be a marketing advantage for companies.
Tim Tassopoulos, Chick-fil-A's executive vice president of operations, said in a phone interview that the company planned to keep customers updated on its progress in coming months and eventually advertise its completion in stores.
"We're going to make sure customers know," he said.
Chipotle has also made its commitment to "responsibility raised" meat without antibiotics a part of its identity, which has no doubt helped fuel the Mexican food chain's popularity. But supply issues have forced the chain to use conventionally raised meat at times, most notably for beef. For chicken, Chipotle says less than 1 percent of its meat was conventionally raised last year.
Chipotle says the chicken it advertises as antibiotic-free is verified as being so by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, Tassopoulos says that the switch to chickens raised without antibiotics would likely result in higher prices for customers, but said the company is working with suppliers to ensure it's "minimal."
Chick-fil-A says its conversion will require "changes along every point of the supply chain — from the hatchery to the processing plant." The company's suppliers include Tyson, Purdue and Pilgrim's Pride.
Chick-fil-A is based in Atlanta and has locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C.
The crusade by anti-union forces in Tennessee, including the state’s governor, is now as much a fight with Volkswagen management as with the United Auto Workers union.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 6.6 percent in January from 6.7 percent in December as college graduates flooded the job market, and most found work.