www.charlestondailymail.com Business http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Bayer to sell Institute plant to Dow http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150330/DM05/150339952 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150330/DM05/150339952 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:42:38 -0400 By Jared Hunt Bayer CropScience announced Monday it plans to sell its Institute Industrial Park to Dow Chemical Company's Union Carbide subsidiary.

The company said it plans a "phased turnover" of all plant activities, including utilities, emergency response and security, as well as the transfer of land and the majority of the site's assets by mid-2016. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The company has owned the facility since 2002, following its acquisition of Aventis CropScience. But the company said its manufacturing presence at the site has declined since its 2011 decision to close units tied to carbamate production, including the production, use and storage of methyl isocyanate (or MIC) at the Institute plant.

"Without additional production capacity, Bayer CropScience does not have the critical mass needed to make continued ownership of the site economically viable," Jim Covington, the current head of the Institute Industrial Park for Bayer, said in a press release.

MIC is the chemical that leaked in 1984 in Bhopal, India, killing thousands of people in the world's worst industrial accident.

The use of MIC at the Institute site came under intense scrutiny following a 2008 explosion and fire that killed Bayer employees Barry Withrow and Bill Oxley. While the incident did not involve MIC, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said the accident endangered a tank 80 feet away that was used for daytime storage of the deadly substance.

When the decision was announced in 2011, it was projected to result in the loss of 220 jobs, or 44 percent of Bayer's then-500 person workforce at the Institute plant. The company currently employs about 150 workers at the Institute site.

The company still plans to maintain a thiodicarb production unit at the site - the lone production unit that remained after the closure of united tied to carbamate production.

Covington said the company recently made a significant investment in that unit to meet demand for its Larvin-brand crop protection product.

"Bayer will still have a presence at the Institute Industrial Park but now as a tenant through the on-going operation of the company's thiodicarb production unit," he said.

Though the company has maintained its commitment to that unit, Covington noted the size of the company's Institute-based workforce would continue to dwindle.

"We expect some decline in Bayer employment at Institute over time," he said. "However, retirements and voluntary separations should account for essentially all departures."

In addition to Bayer, Union Carbide, Catalyst Refiners, Reagent Chemical and Praxair have operations in the Institute Industrial Park. Those companies currently employ about 350 workers.

This is a developing story. Keep checking back with www.charlestondailymail.com for further updates.

]]>
John Burdette column: What should I do with that tax refund windfall? http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150329/DM05/150329156 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150329/DM05/150329156 Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:45:23 -0400 As another tax filing season comes to a close, nearly three-quarters of Americans will find themselves getting money back from Uncle Sam. In fact, the average refund in 2013 was a rather significant $2,755.

While it's always nice to get a refund, it's important to remember you are getting money back that you overpaid during the course of the year. A large refund means you loaned your money to the government all year without earning any interest.

If you regularly receive a large refund, you may want to consider adjusting your withholdings to better reflect your tax obligation.

That being said, if you are due a large refund this year, it's a good idea to make the most of it before it disappears without purpose:

n If you carry credit card debt, it's a good bet you are paying interest of 12-18 percent or more. It is nearly impossible to make progress in your financial life if you are on the hamster wheel of credit card debt.

Use your refund to rid yourself of this yoke and make sure not to make future choices that will land back in this financial peril. There is no investment that will consistently return as much as you will save by making this move.

n Do you have three to six months of living expenses set aside in your emergency fund?

If you are like three out of four Americans, the answer is probably no.

Your emergency fund is a must to form your financial foundation. This safety net is what allows you to confidently deal with the unexpected events that life throws at you. Without it, you are likely to fall back into credit card debt or raid your retirement savings accounts when the going gets tough.

The peace of mind that comes with having this financial buffer is priceless.

n Did you fully fund your IRA or 401k this year? Why not set your refund aside for the long term and allow it to work for your future.

Small contributions to these tax deferred accounts can make a big impact over the course of years. For instance, a $2,000 contribution made in each of the next 25 years, earning 7 percent, will grow to more than $130,000. Not only will you be making progress toward your retirement goal, but you will likely lower next year's tax bill making future contributions easier to handle. That's a winning combination.

n Finally, another great investment you can make is in yourself.

Are there courses or certifications you need to advance your career? Maybe you need a new suit to ace that upcoming job interview. The most valuable asset each of us have is our future earnings potential. If your skills need a boost or refresher to move up the ladder, this investment could offer an out-sized return.

No matter the place you are in your life, tax refund can be great way to catch up on some of the goals you have set. The key is to make decisions about how to use it with purpose. Don't allow it to mix into your checking account where it will vanish through routine spending. Plan how you can use this opportunity for your unique benefit and then go make it happen.

John Burdette is a financial adviser at Fourth Avenue Financial in South Charleston.

Disclaimer: Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corp. (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fourth Avenue Financial and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.

]]>
MVB opens Charleston banking location http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM05/150329310 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM05/150329310 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:13:04 -0400 By Jared Hunt MVB Financial Corp. executives on Thursday celebrated the official opening of the company's new office building and financial center in downtown Charleston.

The 30,000 square foot building on the corner of Margaret Street and Washington Street East houses the Charleston branch of MVB Bank as well as offices for the company's other subsidiaries, MVB Insurance and MVB Mortgage. The company's offices occupy about 14,000 square feet on the first two floors of the four-story building, with the remaining floors used for leased office space.

The company broke ground on the $6 million building in August 2013, marking the first Class A office space construction in downtown Charleston in nearly two decades.

The $1.1 billion bank holding company now operates 12 branches in West Virginia, with the majority in the along the Interstate 79 corridor in the north-central part of the state. There are a few other locations in the Eastern Panhandle.

The Charleston branch is the company's first in the southern part of the state.

Larry Mazza, president and CEO of MVB Financial, has emphasized a "growth with quality" mantra over the years. He said he knew if the company wanted to begin reaching into the southern part of the state, he needed a solid base of operations in Charleston.

"We felt if we wanted to be a strong West Virginia bank we needed to be in the capital city," Mazza said Thursday.

Mazza said the design of the new location shows the changing dynamic of the banking industry.

He said most branches built in the state during the 1980s and 1990s emphasized teller operations in their layouts, with multiple windows staffed with individual tellers. But he said the advent of ATMs and banking apps on smartphones has dramatically reduced customers' needs to go into a bank to make regular teller-based transactions like deposits and withdrawals.

"The number of branches in the country are going to dramatically reduce," he said. "I mean, here's a branch in my hand, a smartphone. You can make a deposit on here, check my balance, pay my bills, the only thing I can't do is get cash."

The majority of the space at the MVB Charleston branch is devoted to offices for the company's loan officers, commercial lenders and other financial services representatives.

"If you look at this office, it is an office that's filled with teams of people that can help you with insurance, or bankers and commercial lenders," Mazza said. "The teller operations is a very small part of that. That used to be the majority of operations in a branch and that's really switched."

And how customers meet with those tellers is different from other banks.

While customers are greeted by a customer service representative when they enter the lobby, the actual teller operations both in the lobby and in the bank's drive-thru are handled through the use of specialized touch-screen interactive teller machines.

The customer can touch the screen and scan an ID card to verify their identity, and that will activate a video link with a customer service representative in the company's central call center, located on the second floor of the Charleston branch. The customer can use the video link with the teller to conduct normal transactions like deposits and withdrawals the same as they would with a teller on a face-to-face basis.

"Clients experience the same thing you get with an actual teller," said company spokeswoman Aly Gregg.

The Charleston call center handles not only all of the teller transactions for the Charleston lobby and drive-thru, but for the company's branch in Fairmont's Technology Park as well. Mazza said he plans for the center to handle transactions for additional company branches as well, including the soon-to-open branch in Reston, Va.

"We'll be serving a couple states from Charleston," he said.

Call center workers currently work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to handle lobby and drive-thru transactions. Mazza said the company could potentially keep the regular teller lanes of the drive-thrus open 24 hours in the future using the centralized system.

"You can go 24/7 if you want with live people, because it's so efficient," he said.

In addition to the automated machines featuring the call center tellers, the company also has regular 24-hour ATM access. Since its a relatively small bank, MVB also allows customers to use other banks' ATMs at no charge. The company also has checking accounts that will reimburse customers for any fees charged by other banks for using their ATMs.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

]]>
Bill aims to help rural businesses http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM0104/150329311 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM0104/150329311 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:11:32 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Republican-backed legislation making its way through the U.S. Senate aims to help businesses in rural communities have greater access to credit opportunities.

Current policies in place with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau permits certain rural lending practices in areas it deems rural or underserved. But many rural communities argue the Bureau's definition of rural excludes a number of truly rural areas and doesn't provide members of those communities with any input in the process. The Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act would create an appeals process that allows rural communities to petition the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with information for reconsideration of their status. It also seeks to address the challenges rural communities face by eliminating some mortgage origination requirements that ensure rural communities bordering urban areas will still have access to credit services essential to running small businesses and farms.

"When seeking a mortgage, West Virginia's families depend on the services offered by community banks and credit unions," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. "The CFPB's regulatory exemption for financial institutions in rural areas unfairly excludes some of West Virginia's most rural communities. The HELP Rural Communities Act will enable West Virginia's community banks and credit unions to petition for a rural designation and continue serving the West Virginians who depend on their services the most."

Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, all Republicans, are listed as cosponsors.

n n n

Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives drastically changes the way doctors are paid through the Medicare program.

HR 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, passed the House 392-37. It seeks to prevent the March 31 implementation of the sustainable growth rate, a 21 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements physicians receive. If the rate is implemented, thousands of doctors across the country would see drastic cuts in the Medicare reimbursement rate.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., voted in favor of the bill.

"Today's vote is a victory for patient choice and access to care," Jenkins said. "Today I proudly vote to guarantee that our seniors are able to see doctors of their choice and have access to the health care they need. These cuts would hurt our seniors, our doctors, and risk the care that so many seniors need. The sustainable growth rate would cut payments to doctors drastically, making it unaffordable for some to continue seeing Medicare patients. I voted to repeal this burdensome, unworkable plan to preserve patients' access to care and bring certainty to health care providers."

The Medicare Rights Center called the vote "historic," but says in a news release the plan passed by the House asks too much from Medicare beneficiaries.

The legislation "gives pay raises to doctors, while shifting $30 billion in higher costs to some beneficiaries and granting a small measure of security to low-income seniors and people with disabilities," according to the news release. "This security afforded to low-income beneficiaries through a permanent Qualified Individual program should be celebrated, but Congress can and should do better."

The group suggests the Senate increase the QI program income threshold and asset test and provide permanent outreach and enrollment funding to the community organizations that serve low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The bill also reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides medical insurance for millions of children across the country. Republican Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney also voted for the legislation.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

]]>
New ad highlights West Virginia http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM01/150329340 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM01/150329340 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:28:47 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Those watching the West Virginia Mountaineers take on the Kentucky Wildcats may have caught a glimpse of Almost Heaven during commercial breaks.

The state Division of Tourism debuted a new ad during the NCAA men's basketball tournament game, taking advantage of the Mountaineer's primetime Sweet 16 game to showcase the Mountain State.

"This ad was originally supposed to be launched in April, but we took this incredible opportunity to put it into the Sweet 16, Mountaineers against Kentucky," said Tourism Commissioner Amy Goodwin. "A lot of folks are going to be watching across the nation, particularly in our market, which includes Pennsylvania, Ohio, the D.C. area and Maryland. It made good sense for us to showcase our new commercial in our market."

The ad will air on CBS affiliates across West Virginia and in cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Richmond, Charlotte, Greensboro, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Goodwin said the ad is part of a larger spring advertising campaign designed to entice spring break and summer travelers to travel West Virginia.

"We're excited about it," Goodwin said. "It's shot in West Virginia with real West Virginians doing real things. The message of the commercial is there are a lot of things to do in West Virginia and your children will love it, your family will love it. The message is West Virginia has a lot to offer for families. We're really close. We're really close to you and there are lots of things you can do."

Ratings for this year's men's basketball tournament have increased over last year's. According to CBS Sports, third-round coverage registered the highest-ever overnight ratings, up 14 percent over last year. Broadcastingcable.com shows a steady increase in the number of viewers the popular tournament attracts. If the trend continues, more than 10 million people could watch the Mountaineers play Kentucky for a spot in the Elite Eight.

"Obviously with the amount of people watching not only West Virginia but also Kentucky, this is a great opportunity to hit those folks in our key markets and our key demographics," Goodwin said.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

]]>
Coal company seeks OK to expand W.Va. slurry impoundment http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/ARTICLE/150329387 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/ARTICLE/150329387 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:16:26 -0400

LUMBERPORT, W.Va. (AP) - A Murray Energy company wants to expand a coal slurry impoundment in Harrison County to increase its capacity.

The former Consolidation Coal Co., now called Murray American Energy Inc., is seeking state approval to broaden the impoundment by 103 acres and increase its height by 70 feet.

Department of Environmental Protection permit supervisor Randy Moore tells The Exponent Telegram that the company's proposal would be a substantial expansion.

At current mining conditions, Moore says the expansion would extend the impoundment's life span an estimated 11 to 12 years.

Murray acquired Consolidation Coal from CONSOL Energy in December 2013 and changed the company's name.

]]>
Jared Hunt column: W.Va. kids get high scores on financial literacy http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM05/150329440 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150326/DM05/150329440 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 00:01:00 -0400 West Virginians rejoice! We're doing something right with our kids.

And it's something that could help them secure a better future.

The National Financial Educators Council, which is a real organization that is "committed to creating a world where people are informed to make qualified financial decisions that improve their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and the lives of people they impact around the globe," on Wednesday released results of their National Financial Literacy Test.

The 30-question quiz was designed to measure teenagers' ability to earn, save, and grow money.

A total of 8,453 youngsters from all 50 states took the quiz. The questions assessed students' understanding of the 10 subjects covered in the organization's Financial Literacy Framework and Standards: financial psychology, budgeting, account management, jobs and careers, credit profiles, loans and debt, risk management and insurance, investing, entrepreneurship and economic and government influences.

Nationwide, the average score on the test was 60.08 percent - just barely a passing grade. Forty-six percent of test takers failed it (the council considered a score less than 60 percent as failing). Georgia students ranked the poorest, with an average score of 49.74 percent.

The state with the best score? (Take a moment to inhale so you can puff out your chest.) Good ol' West "By God" Virginia.

That's right, the 181 15 to 18 year old West Virginia students who took the test turned out the highest average score of any other state. The students averaged a score of 73.43 percent on the exam.

(Well, technically the one Delaware student who took the test scored 77 percent, but since there was just one person from that state to take it, the council didn't view that as a sample representative of the entire state. They only used results from states that had at least 100 participants in the official state ranking, so West Virginia still came out on top!)

Even if the Mountaineers don't prevail tonight against the University of Kentucky, we can take comfort West Virginia youth will still beat Kentuckians at financial literacy. Kentucky kids averaged just a 60.45 percent score on the test.

And just so you know, the test isn't exactly a cakewalk. A certain newspaper business editor, we'll call him "Jared," only scored 83 percent.

(In "Jared's" defense, he took the test on the fly in a noisy newsroom without having reviewed any of the course materials beforehand.)

Some of the questions included:

n "What is the safest initial step that I can take to start building my credit?" Answer: "Create a credit plan that includes a budget, money set aside for emergencies, and the steps you'll take to prove to the credit bureaus that you can repay money you borrow."

n "Choose the two best suggestions for building and maintaining a good credit rating." Answer: "Keep your debt low and pay your bills on time."

n "If I invest $100 per month starting at age 21, and that money earns a 7 percent annual return, how much will I have after 70 years?" The choices were: $138,957, between $150,000 and $225,000, more than $1.5 million or none of the above. Only 26 percent of respondents (including "Jared") answered this question correctly with $1.5 million, making it the most missed question on the test.

In an age of high consumer debt, where only one in three Americans even bother to make a household budget, it's certainly welcome news to think the next generation of West Virginians might do better than the current one.

If you'd like to know where you stand, you can take the test yourself at: http://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/national-financial-literacy-test/.

]]>
Dutch Miller expands South Charleston dealership http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329444 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329444 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:15:09 -0400 By Jared Hunt Less than a year after opening its first dealership in the Kanawha Valley, Dutch Miller Auto Group on Wednesday celebrated an expansion of its product line at its South Charleston location.

The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially commemorate the opening of the Dutch Miller Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram dealership along MacCorkle Avenue.

The auto group, Dutch Miller, which operates Hyundai, Chevrolet and Kia dealerships in Huntington and Barboursville, took over the former White Kia Dodge dealership last April. Earlier this year, the company acquired the Jeep and Chrysler franchises from Royal Automotive in Charleston and have now begun selling those brands from its South Charleston location.

Chris Miller, 36, the company president known for is unique advertising style, said the South Charleston dealership's sales are now up nearly 200 percent since they started in last April and he's planning for further growth.

"This is the most exciting entire market in West Virginia," he said. "It is a very, very underutilized market in the state. We have come here and had an absolute blast."

With the addition of Chrysler and Jeep, the South Charleston dealership will now be able to sell at one location all of the major brands produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

"We've done is consolidated all of Chrysler's brands into one place," Miller said. "They're called 'alpha points' in the Chrysler world."

Miller said the addition of the Jeep and Chrysler brands will likely boost inventory by about 75 percent to roughly $15 million. He said his staff is looking at options to more efficiently use the space they currently have in order to pack more cars on the lot. They are also exploring buying adjacent properties to expand the dealership's footprint.

"Dutch Miller Automotive's goal is to be the absolute, number one dealer in the South Charleston-Charleston marketplace and by adding Jeep and Chrysler it's going to allow us to do that," Miller said. "There is plenty of room to grow here in the Charleston marketplace."

He said the recent drop in the price of gasoline has given a boost to the auto industry, particularly with SUVs and trucks. Auto dealers are now expecting 2015 and 2016 to be very good years for sales.

Senate President Bill Cole, a fellow car dealer, was on hand for Tuesday's ribbon cutting to welcome the expansion of the Dutch Miller franchise in Charleston. Cole said he saw the event as good news from two different angles.

"First of all, wearing my hat as Senate president, I'm tickled to encourage any business growth and expansion in West Virginia," Cole, R-Mercer, said. "Automobile dealers are an important part of the state and important part of every community they serve, not only from a standpoint of employment but from supporting virtually every good cause there is.

"Speaking as a fellow car dealer, I'm a little bit envious of him because these are great franchises and it's a great area for him to expand and I know he's going to do a wonderful job," he said. "They're off to a great start. Employment's increasing and they're selling a lot of vehicles."

Miller has earned a reputation as a dynamic pitchman unafraid of taking risks. He's impersonated singer Michael McDonald (or rather, "Mitch" McDonald) and painter Bob Ross and portrayed a comedic troupe of outlandish characters in many of his commercials over the years.

Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association, said Miller has been a refreshing change of pace for the state's auto industry.

"The energy that people like Chris bring to our industry is so exciting because it's a changing dynamic out there and Chris is ahead of the curve," Lemmon said. "He's a market changer."

"Chris is a great operator," Cole said. "He's aggressive, he goes after the business and that's what it takes these days. You have to separate yourself from the pack a little bit and I think he's proven he's able to do that in his other enterprises."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

]]>
Photo: Former lumber store gets a facelift http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM01/150329426 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM01/150329426 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:28:54 -0400 Mark Fields, an employee of R.C. General Contractors, paints the old Evans Lumber building in South Charleston, which will become Ferguson Waterworks. The iconic roof paint can, which will be turned into a water pipe, will be taken down at 9 a.m. Friday.

]]>
Annual W.Va. Construction and Design Expo kicks off http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329443 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329443 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:18:06 -0400 The 36th annual West Virginia Construction and Design Exposition kicked off Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center. EXPO, as it is known, is sponsored by the West Virginia Contractors Association and is the largest construction and design show in the region. More than 5,000 engineering, construction and public works representatives from businesses and organizations in more than 30 states were expected to gather at this year's event.

At right, Bill Boso, left, of the Millwrights Training Centers and Jeremy Jeffers of the West Virginia Carpenters Training Center talk shop with Bill Craver of American Producers Supply.

In conjunction with the expo, the West Virginia Manufacturing Association is also hosting its Marcellus and Manufacturing Development Conference this week at the Civic Center. Several natural gas and manufacturing industry leaders, as well as Christopher Smith, assistant secretary of the Office of Fossil Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy, and state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette were slated to speak during the conference. In addition to the conference, the manufacturing association is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Several evening events, including a special anniversary gala at the Clay Center, were planned to mark the occasion.

]]>
CAMC's new Cancer Center to be featured in documentary http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM01/150329489 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM01/150329489 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:35:27 -0400 By Charlotte Ferrell Smith The Charleston Area Medical Center Cancer Center will be among facilities featured in a three-part, six-hour PBS documentary, said Elizabeth Pellegrin, CAMC chief marketing officer.

The announcement was made during the regular meeting of the CAMC Board of Trustees on Wednesday morning.

The series is inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" (Simon & Schuster 2010) by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D. The PBS series is executive produced by Ken Burns and directed by Barak Goodman.

It is to air 9 p.m. March 30, March 31 and April 1. The CAMC Cancer Center will be featured most heavily on the third night, Pellegrin said.

David Ramsey, CAMC president and chief executive officer, said the CAMC Cancer Center is one of 75 in the nation and the only one in West Virginia to be recognized with an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer, a program of the American College of Surgeons.

Ramsey said seven areas are considered for choosing recipients of the award. The Commission on Cancer lists these areas as: clinical trial accrual, cancer registrar education, public reporting outcomes, College of American Pathologists protocols, nursing care, rapid quality reporting system participation, and accuracy of data. The 75 programs received the recognition as a result of surveys performed in 2014, and represent about 15 percent of cancer programs surveyed during this period.

Ramsey would rate the CAMC program among the top in the nation and is grateful to see the new Cancer Center come to fruition.

Dedication of the new CAMC Cancer Center is set for April 17 and 18. Plans call for employees and those involved in fundraising to tour the facility during the first day. The new facility will be open to the general public noon to 4 p.m. on April 18 during a community open house.

Ramsey said plans call for seeing patients the first or second week of May in the new center where there will be plenty of space, lots of art, and a healing atmosphere.

"It's really a dream come true," he said.

Construction began in July of 2013 on the 110,000-square-foot, $50 million facility that will house the David Lee Cancer Center, CAMC Breast Center, and Charleston Radiology Therapy Consultants. The latter is expected to move into the new center by the end of September or early October.

Ramsey said about 200 patients are seen each day at the David Lee Cancer Center, located on the Memorial Hospital campus.

Meanwhile, construction projects are expected to be completed at Memorial Hospital by the end of the year. A final beam is to be raised 10 a.m. April 2 and many have stopped by to sign it.

CAMC got a good report from its new accreditation body, Det Norske Veritas, a Norwegian-based company. DNV evaluates a wide variety of items from doctors' credentials and staff certification to how medications are delivered and safety of products. A recent survey was complimentary and showed CAMC further along than most hospitals, Ramsey said.

The board unanimously approved a policy presented by Larry Hudson, chief financial officer, to make billing more clear. CAMC will switch from its current charity, uninsured, and uncompensated policy to a presumptive eligibility format. The switch will make billing easier for the patients as well as hospital officials as charity is readily differentiated from bad debt. With charity cases, a patient does not have the ability to pay and may already be participating in low-income assistance programs. Software through an outside company could be used to determine status. With bad debt cases where patients are unwilling to pay, bills are eventually turned over to collection agencies.

Meanwhile, board members were reminded that the CAMC Foundation will hold its annual Gala to benefit Women and Children's Hospital 6:30 p.m. April 25 at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

The event plays a significant role in providing funds to deliver health care to indigent children and families at Women and Children's Hospital.

Fonda and John Elliot will co-chair the event that will include a silent auction, gourmet food, and live music provided by N 'Demand. Guest of honor will be professional tennis player Chris Evert, a former No. 1 ranked pro for seven consecutive years.

Tickets are $200 per person. Also, special VIP tickets are offered that include a meet-and-greet with Chris Evert. Sponsorships are available. Call 304-388-9860 for information.

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at charlotte@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1246.

]]>
Lottery beats February revenue forecast http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329506 DM05 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/DM05/150329506 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 09:51:23 -0400 By Jared Hunt February's snowstorms and cold temperatures didn't deal too much of a blow to revenue for the West Virginia Lottery.

The state's various lottery games generated nearly $94.7 million in revenue in February, about $2.2 million better than the $92.5 million forecast for the month. However, it was about $4.2 million less than the $98.9 million generated in February 2014.

Better than expected revenue from video lottery games at the state's four racetrack casinos, along with a boost in online games thanks to the $564.1 million Powerball jackpot during the month, helped offset a sluggish performance in limited video lottery revenue during the month.

Racetrack video lottery games generated $41.4 million in revenue last month, about $3.7 million greater than forecast. Online games, which include Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto, generated $9.1 million in sales, $2.8 million greater than forecast.

Limited video lottery sales were the biggest point of weakness during the month, with the $31.2 million in sales coming in roughly $4.6 million less than expectations.

Despite the miss in limited video lottery sales, Lottery director John Musgrave was pleased that racetrack video lottery bested expectations. The Lottery has been keeping a close eye on the performance of the state's four racetrack casinos, which have been losing revenue as newer casinos open in surrounding states.

Musgrave said the casinos are seeing a slight increase in consumer spending. He hoped that the improving spring weather combined with improvements in the regional economy will have positive effect on casino revenue in the next few months.

"We would like to think we're seeing an increase in disposable income," he said.

Also Tuesday, Musgrave told members of the state Lottery Commission the agency is preparing to being the bidding process for computerized monitoring system for the statewide video lottery network.

New York-based Scientific Games currently holds the contract to provide the central monitoring system. That six-year, $6.2 million was originally awarded in 2006 and was extended when the six-year term expired. The current contract is set to expire in 2017.

Musgrave said the Lottery would like to have the bidding process complete a year before the current contract expires to allow for any transition period that might be needed should a different vendor win the contract.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4836.

]]>
Heinz buying Kraft in deal to create food giant http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/ARTICLE/150329515 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/ARTICLE/150329515 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 07:23:17 -0400

By MICHELLE CHAPMAN and Candice Choi

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) Some of the most familiar names in pickles, cheese, hot dogs and other packaged foods are set to come under the same roof after H.J. Heinz Co. announced Wednesday that it plans to buy Kraft Foods in a deal to create one of the world's largest food and beverage companies.

The deal would bring together an array of well-known but somewhat dated brands, including Heinz ketchup, Oscar Mayer lunchmeats, Jell-O desserts and Miracle Whip spreads.

The combination of the two companies each more than a century old was engineered by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital. Although shoppers are not expected to see any major changes as a result, the creation of the Kraft Heinz Co. reflects the pressures facing some of the biggest packaged food makers in the U.S.

As shoppers increasingly migrate away from longtime pantry staples in favor of options marketed as less processed, companies including Campbell Soup, General Mills and Kellogg have been slashing costs or striking deals intended to refresh their products. The Heinz-Kraft deal is in many ways just the latest example of that, although Buffett noted that the two companies still have a strong base of customers.

"I think the tastes Kraft and Heinz appeal to are pretty enduring," he said in a telephone call to the business news channel CNBC.

Still, the early plans outlined by Kraft and Heinz executives in a conference call Wednesday focused largely on the cost efficiencies that would be achieved through the deal, rather than the potential for sales growth in North America. They said they expect to save $1.5 billion through moves such as combining manufacturing and distribution networks, as well as using the newly created company's scale to negotiate better prices for ingredients.

The boards of both companies unanimously approved the deal, which still needs a nod from federal regulators and shareholders of Kraft Foods Group Inc. The companies say they expect the deal to close in the second half of the year.

Once it goes through, Kraft is expected to undergo cost-cutting under the management of 3G Capital, which teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway two years ago to buy Heinz.

John Cahill, CEO of Kraft, noted that the new management would drive a "much leaner organization," as was the case when 3G took over Heinz. He said 3G can "make this happen deeper and faster."

"What we have not been thrilled about is some of our execution," Cahill said.

The two companies also see potential in pushing their products more aggressively overseas. Although Kraft's sales are focused in North America, executives noted that its brands are well known in major markets around the world. Already, Heinz gets 61 percent of sales from outside North America, said Bernardo Hees, the CEO of Heinz who will become head of the newly created company.

The deal came together rapidly, Buffett said, having been in the works for only about four weeks. The new company will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh, where Heinz is based, and the Chicago area, home of Kraft, and will have annual revenue of about $28 billion.

Eight of its brands have annual sales of $1 billion or more and five others log sales between $500 million and $1 billon every year.

There are plans for at least four new products this year, Buffett said, and there is a lot of freedom to sell the company's products outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Since splitting from Mondelez International Inc. in 2012, Kraft's business has been primarily concentrated in the U.S. and Canada. All of its manufacturing capacity is in those two countries, according to the company's annual report.

Shares of Kraft jumped nearly 34 percent Wednesday before the opening bell.

The total value of the deal is difficult to gauge because Heinz is privately held. But Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of approximately $10 billion, or $16.50 per share. Each share of Kraft will be converted into one share of Kraft Heinz.

Current Heinz shareholders will own 51 percent of the combined company, with Kraft shareholders owning a 49 percent stake.

The Kraft Heinz board will include six directors from the current Heinz board. Those six directors will include three members from Berkshire Hathaway and three members from 3G Capital. The current Kraft board will appoint five directors to the combined company's board.

Kraft Heinz plans to keep Kraft's current dividend once the transaction closes. Kraft has no plans to change its dividend before the deal is complete.

]]>
Toys 'R' Us seeking to ward off discounters by adding play space http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/ARTICLE/150329518 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150325/ARTICLE/150329518 Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:22:38 -0400

By MATT TOWNSEND

Bloomberg News

NEW YORK - Toys "R" Us Inc., following years of losing ground to online rivals and discount chains, plans to revamp its stores to be places where kids come to play.

The company, which was taken private almost a decade ago by Bain Capital Partners, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust, will open a new prototype store this year, Chief Executive Officer Antonio Urcelay said at an event on Tuesday in New York. The goal is to eventually make all of its locations more engaging places for children than Wal-Mart Stores or Target, he said in an interview.

The company will add more technology for kids to interact with, and additional floor space will be devoted to play areas. That in turn may coax parents into doing more shopping at the stores. It also will decrease the need to compete on price in an increasingly cutthroat toy industry.

"It has to be something where kids want to go and play," said Urcelay, who was promoted to CEO in October 2013 after running the company's European division. "We have to reinforce that we are a specialist."

For years, Toys "R" Us has been hurt by the ability of Wal-Mart and Amazon.com to undercut it on price. Urcelay has reduced the amount of discounting, though the chain does offer price matching and works to keep the best-selling toys in stock. The approach is beginning to pay off, Urcelay said. Even though sales fell in the fourth quarter, the company's gross margin improved.

"Our strategy is to look for profitability, not just sales growth at any cost," he said.

Urcelay predicts that his turnaround will take one to two more years. Previous attempts at a comeback have faltered, making it difficult for the chain's private-equity backers to see a return on their investment. The company canceled an initial public offering in 2013 after results worsened. It replaced Jerry Storch as CEO that year.

Urcelay said his executive team is concentrating on improving the business - not when or how the company's owners can exit their investment.

In Urcelay's first year, the retailer focused on improving its U.S. stores by speeding up checkout lines, cleaning locations more often, adding signs and brightening the lights. While same-store sales still fell 1 percent last year, that was an improvement from a drop of about 5 percent in 2013.

Those enhancements will be expanded to more locations this year, according to Hank Mullany, president of U.S. stores. The company also will be rolling out mobile devices to staff, letting employees offer more product information and expertise to customers - another attempt to stand out from Wal-Mart and Target.

The Babies "R" Us chain, meanwhile, will add more workers to boost customer service, which the company acknowledged had been lacking.

While Toys "R" Us tries to stabilize the performance of its physical stores, it expects e-commerce to be its long-term growth engine. Online sales rose 6.8 percent to $1.23 billion last year, compared with a 1.5 percent drop to $12.4 billion for total revenue.

Urcelay said the the company hadn't renewed the lease for its flagship store in New York's Times Square, where Tuesday's event was held, because it didn't want to enter an arbitration that would have lease negotiations out of its hands. Toys "R" Us is still in talks with its landlord and, if it doesn't stay at its current location, it will look for another one in Manhattan, he said.

While the company has continued to post net losses, its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - a measure of operating performance - have improved. Profit by that measure rose 10 percent to $642 million last year. The a company has a heavy debt load, including $451 million in interest costs last year, which weighs on its net losses.

"We progressed a lot," Urcelay said. "But there are still a lot of things to do."

]]>
Commission to provide free home appraisals for Yeager landslide victims http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329549 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329549 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:13:20 -0400 By Marcus Constantino The Kanawha County Commission has arranged free home appraisals for residents who suffered losses or damages due to the March 12 landslide on Keystone Drive.

Jay Goldman, of Jay Goldman and Associates, will contact residents to secure permission to inspect and appraise their properties, according to a press release from Yeager Airport. The airport will use those figures in settlement offers, which could include a full purchase of the property or repair funds for expenses and damages "according to the owner's preference," according to the press release.

"Yeager Airport personnel will work hard to ensure that we live up to our obligations to every resident in the affected area," said Ed Hill, chairman of the Yeager Airport board of directors.

Goldman will submit property assessments to the insurance companies of affected parties, according to the press release. The Yeager Airport Authority is offering to purchase properties from residents affected by the evacuation if they choose to move out of the area.

A large portion of an engineered fill that was part of a Yeager Airport runway extension project collapsed on March 12, destroying a home and Keystone Apostolic Church. The landslide blocked Elk Twomile Creek, forcing Yeager Airport to have heavy equipment on standby to dig the creek out to prevent flooding.

Contact writer Marcus Constantino at 304-348-1796 or marcus.c@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/amtino.

]]>
Tomblin uses line-item veto on budget bill http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM0104/150329569 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM0104/150329569 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:39:35 -0400 By Whitney Burdette Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin exercised his line-item veto authority on the state budget, making 46 changes to the bill the Legislature passed last week and using $14.8 million of the state's reserve funds.

The adjustments amount to nearly $11 million from the FY 2016 budget. Tomblin reduced proposed spending to several educational programs and health care while drawing $14.8 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund, also known as the Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund, down from the projected $70 million state officials thought would have to be withdrawn.

Tomblin said increasing Medicaid expenditures have created a tight budget for the past few years, but state budget officials predict a surplus is on the horizon.

"Our six-year projections show we will again have surpluses in the coming years," Tomblin said. "That additional revenue, which will become available as we pay off long-term liabilities such as the old workers' compensation fund debt, can be used to provide extra funding in several critical areas. But those funding increases cannot occur if we increase the baseline budget in 2016. I am committed to maintaining fiscally responsible policies now and into the future."

West Virginia has the fourth-strongest Rainy Day Fund in the country, which has allowed the state to enjoy high bond ratings from credit agencies. The fund was created in the 1990s, when Tomblin served in the state Senate, as a sort of savings account to be used only to balance the state's budget or to offset costs associated with natural disasters. In his initial budget, presented to the Legislature Jan. 14, Tomblin called for $68.6 million to be taken from Rainy Day to offset a gap in the budget. But later that month he announced improved investment returns would eliminate the need to take $44 million from the fund. That number again was reduced earlier this month, when the governor announced the state Department of Education found significant growth in local property taxes, leading to a decrease in the state's share of school aid funding, according to a previous Daily Mail report.

The Rainy Day Fund has a remaining balance of more than $800 million, which is more than enough to satisfy credit agencies, Tomblin said.

"My budget proposal to use $15.5 million for Medicaid expenses would have assured that the Rainy Day Fund would have remained above the 15 percent threshold recommended by Wall Street rating agencies and by bond experts to continue the state's favorable bond ratings," he said.

The bill presented to Tomblin included a section calling for "an amount not to exceed $20 million" to be taken from Rainy Day to renovate Building 3 on the state Capitol complex. The building formerly housed the Division of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies, but has sat vacant for a few years and is in need of improvements. The agencies that used to operate out of that building have been forced to find new homes, including rented office space. Republicans argue taking money from Rainy Day to renovate the building will ultimately save the state money in the long run, but Tomblin vetoed that section of the bill.

"This is a use of the Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund that is not in line with the intention of the fund and potentially sets a precedent for use of the fund contrary to the purpose for which the fund was created," Tomblin said in his veto message.

Tomblin defends his decision to adjust appropriations in the bill, saying his goal is to remain fiscally responsible.

"As a longtime legislator and former Finance Committee chairman, I respect the hard work legislators put into the budget and the difficult choices they face when choosing how to allocate state dollars to serve all West Virginians," Tomblin said. "West Virginia has a reputation of being one of the most fiscally responsible states in the country. We've worked hard to earn that distinction, and I remain committed to finding ways to reduce government expenditures and minimize use of the Rainy Day Fund."

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

]]>
Capitol Notebook: Jenkins introduces black lung benefits resolution http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM0104/150329583 DM0104 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM0104/150329583 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:49:04 -0400 By Whitney Burdette After more than two months in Congress, freshman Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins has introduced his first piece of legislation.

The resolution to protect black lung benefits is cosponsored by West Virginia's two other Republican Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney, as well as Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who serves as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and calls for the House of Representatives to craft replacement language for the Affordable Care Act that includes amendments to restore the Black Lung Benefits Act.

Jenkins gave his maiden floor speech on the topic, saying thousands of miners depend on black lung benefits.

"Since 1973, miners have known that if they get black lung, the federal government will be there and stand up for them," Jenkins said. "More than 100,000 miners from West Virginia have filed for black lung benefits. And today, almost 5,000 miners and their families depend on these benefits for care for their families when they are no longer able to work. Congress must uphold, protect and secure these crucial benefits for our hardworking miners and their families."

Black lung benefits have been available through the federal government since 1969, and the Black Lung Benefits Act was amended in 1981 to tighten eligibility requirements and eliminate two provisions regarding miners' and survivors' entitlement benefits.

The House of Representatives passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in February, instructing committees to draft replacement language. Jenkins' resolution seeks to include new language restoring the Black Lung Benefits Act.

nnn

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is applauding a move by the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program.

The expansion allows veterans who live 40 miles or more from the closest VA facility or who face a significant delay in scheduling an appointment with the VA to receive care from a local non-VA facility. The VA also will change the calculation used to determine the distance between a veteran's home and the closest VA medical facility from a straight-line distance to the actual driving distance. That's expected to roughly double the number of eligible veterans.

Manchin said he is encouraged by the VA's decision to expand the program's eligibility and distance recalculation.

"As committed as our veterans are to protecting this country, we must uphold our commitment to them," Manchin said. "By changing the way distance is measured between a veteran's home and the nearest VA facility, this reform will help those veterans in West Virginia who have to drive more than 40 miles and have been excluded from this important program."

Manchin said he'll continue to monitor the VA's progress on the Choice Program, which was authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. The law allows the VA to enhance its health care system and improve service. To confirm eligibility and to schedule an appointment, veterans should call 1-866-606-8198.

nnn

A bill cosponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., would change how seniors' coverage for skilled nursing care is determined under Medicare.

Currently, a Medicare beneficiary must have an inpatient hospital stay of at least three days before Medicare will pay for post-hospitalization skilled nursing care. Patients receiving hospital care on observation status pay for skilled nursing care themselves, even if they are in the hospital longer than three days. The Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act, S. 843, would allow a patient's time under observation status to count toward the required three-day hospital stay for coverage of skilled nursing care.

The bill also establishes a 90-day appeal period, upon passage of the bill, for those who have a qualifying hospital stay and have been denied skilled nursing care after Jan. 1, 2015.

The bill is supported by several organizations, including AARP, Center for Medicare Advocacy and the Alliance for Retired Americans.

nnn

Capito has added her name to a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing heroin and prescription drug overdoses.

The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act is similar to legislation that recently cleared the West Virginia Legislature. It allows educated first responders, family members and health professionals to administer opioid overdose prevention drugs such as Naloxone, also known as Narcan, in an emergency overdose situation.

The bill exempts from liability people who work or volunteer for opioid overdose programs from any harm caused by the emergency administration of Narcan provided as pat of an opioid overdose program; health care professionals from any harm caused by the emergency administration of the drug they prescribe or provide to anyone who receives education in the proper use of the opioid overdose drug and the steps to be taken after the drug is administered; and individuals, including first responders who administer the drug to a person who is or appears to have suffered an overdoes, provide they are doing so in accordance with a prescription or they obtained the drug from an overdose program or health care professional and received education in the proper administration of the drug, including the steps to be taken after the drug is administered.

A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

]]>
Taco Bell's waffle taco is dead; biscuit taco to replace http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/ARTICLE/150329631 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/ARTICLE/150329631 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:52:46 -0400

By CANDICE CHOI

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK (AP) — The newest weapon in the breakfast wars is a biscuit shaped like a taco.

Taco Bell is launching a “biscuit taco” this week and ditching its “waffle taco,” which got widespread attention last year when it was included in the rollout of the chain’s breakfast menu.

The swap comes as the chain tries to build on its year-old breakfast business by once again going after the dominant player in the mornings: McDonald’s.

In a new ad campaign, Taco Bell plans to paint Egg McMuffins as boring, routine food for the brainwashed. In New York and Los Angeles, it is putting up propaganda-like posters for a place called “Routine Republic,” with one featuring a demonic clown holding what looks like an Egg McMuffin with the words “Routine Rules.”

National TV ads will feature testimonials from real-life “defectors” saying things like “I admit I used to be a McDonald’s fan.”

It’s a continuation of an ad campaign last year that featured real-life people named Ronald McDonald professing their love for Taco Bell offerings. At one point, McDonald’s responded by tweeting a photo of Ronald McDonald kneeling down to pet a frail Chihuahua, which was once the mascot for Taco Bell.

Some referred to the back-and-forth as “the breakfast wars.”

Whether the biscuit taco has more staying power than the waffle taco remains to be seen. Despite the attention the waffle taco initially generated because of its novelty in the fast-food space, there were early signs it might not last. Not long after it was rolled out, Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt noted that “some of the things on our menu might run out of gas.” The chain has also repeatedly said the star of its breakfast menu is the A.M. Crunchwrap, which is a grilled tortilla stuffed with eggs and a hash brown along with sausage, bacon or steak.

As for its latest offering, a Taco Bell representative said it’s “more than just a biscuit, it’s a warm, fluffy, buttery biscuit, folded in the shape of a taco” and it’s here to stay. Starting Thursday, people can get it filled with options like eggs, sausage, cheese or deep-fried chicken and jalapeno honey sauce. It has between 370 and 470 calories, depending on the fillings.

Already, the launch of a national breakfast menu has helped drive up sales at Taco Bell, which has been trying to redefine itself as a hip brand with its “Live Mas” slogan. In the latest quarter, the chain’s sales rose 7 percent at established locations, driven by breakfast, according to parent company Yum Brands Inc.

Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol said breakfast has been holding steady at about 6 percent of sales. That’s compared with between 20 and 25 percent for McDonald’s, which has been playing up its own offerings by noting it cracks fresh eggs to make Egg McMuffins.

It’s not clear what impact Taco Bell’s breakfast is having on McDonald’s Corp., which has been struggling to hold onto customers more broadly amid intensifying competition. But others have been pushing into the breakfast category more aggressively as well, including Starbucks, which revamped its sandwiches last year.

]]>
Louisville Slugger maker to sell iconic brand http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/ARTICLE/150329636 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/ARTICLE/150329636 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 06:40:03 -0400

By BRUCE SCHREINER

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

More than a century of family ownership of Louisville Slugger bats is going ... going ... nearly gone.

The company that makes the iconic bats gripped by generations of ballplayers — from Babe Ruth to David Wright — announced a deal Monday to sell its Louisville Slugger brand to rival Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for $70 million.

For 131 years, the family behind Hillerich & Bradsby Co. has supplied bats for games from the sandlots to the big leagues.

H&B CEO John A. Hillerich IV said keeping the bat business in family hands had been a dinnertime topic for years. But as the competition’s lineup grew in recent years, the family became willing to listen to offers to acquire the brand.

“It’s always been the family’s desire to keep the brand independent and family owned,” Hillerich told reporters. “It’s worked extremely well for 131 years.

“But we’ve seen things change and we had to make a very tough decision. We’d rather the brand go on and have somebody else own it than potentially put it in jeopardy by keeping it in the family.”

Hillerich is the great-grandson of John A. “Bud” Hillerich, who churned out the first Louisville Slugger bat in 1884 for a renowned baseball player in his day, Pete Browning.

Under terms of the agreement, H&B will continue to manufacture Louisville Slugger wood bats at its factory in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

“The guys down on the floor today are going to be the guys making the bats tomorrow and a year from now and a decade from now,” Hillerich said.

But sale of the brand will cost 52 H&B workers their jobs, out of a total workforce numbering about 270, Hillerich said. The remaining employees will work either for H&B or Wilson.

Louisville Slugger will remain an independent brand once the deal is completed, said Mike Dowse, president of Wilson Sporting Goods. That means the Louisville Slugger bats will still carry the brand’s recognizable oval logo.

Wilson’s deal to acquire the global brand, sales and innovation rights of Louisville Slugger still requires approval by H&B shareholders.

Wilson Sporting Goods is a division of Finnish sports equipment maker Amer Sports Corp. The Helsinki-based company said it expects the deal to be completed in the second quarter.

The sale includes the brand’s aluminum and composite bats, as well as Louisville Slugger lines of fielding and batting gloves, protective gear and equipment bags.

About half of all current major league players swing Louisville Slugger bats, according to H&B. The company said it has churned out more than 100 million bats in its history, including aluminum and composite bats.

Louisville Slugger’s wood bats are formed mostly out of northern white ash or maple, but a small percentage is made out of birch. The timber comes from forests in New York and Pennsylvania.

H&B will maintain ownership and continue to operate the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Gift Shop, a popular tourist destination.

H&B’s Bionic Gloves division and Powerbilt golf brand are not part of the deal, it said.

Dowse said expanding Wilson’s baseball and softball business globally is a key part of its business strategy.

Wilson sees strong growth potential for Louisville Slugger, he said. He noted sales for DeMarini bats have quadrupled since Wilson acquired the brand about 15 years ago.

“We see that same strategy and formula working extremely well for us at the Louisville brand,” he said.

Wilson currently manufactures and sells gloves, bats, uniforms, apparel, protective gear, accessories and player development equipment and training tools through its Wilson, DeMarini and ATEC brands. Like its DeMarini brand, Wilson will market and sell Louisville Slugger as a stand-alone brand.

]]>
Patients say Alzheimer's cases go undiagnosed http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329637 DM01 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150324/DM01/150329637 Tue, 24 Mar 2015 06:27:35 -0400 By Whitney Burdette According to new statistics from the Alzheimer's Association, only 45 percent of patients are told from the get-go they suffer from the debilitating disease.

Physicians delay telling patients they suffer from Alzheimer's disease for a variety of reasons, researchers found. But any delay in making an accurate diagnosis is detrimental to the patient, said Beth Kallmyer, senior director of constituent relations for the Alzheimer's Association.

"It's an issue when people are told later because they lose the ability to plan for the future, make legal plans, name health care advanced directives, even make decisions on how they want to live their lives," Kallmyer said in a conference call with reporters. "As the disease goes on, they may be unable to participate in those decisions."

Physicians often delay making the diagnosis for fear of causing families emotional stress, researchers found. But Kallmyer pointed out doctors are forced to give grim news to patients all the time about a variety of ailments. Alzheimer's should be treated no differently.

"Nobody wants to give this diagnosis," she said. "If you've seen Alzheimer's, you know it's a tragic and awful disease to watch. They don't want to give the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer either which generally means the person will die in a couple of months. There are other fatal diagnoses the doctors are giving, but Alzheimer's is different."

Uncertainty, lack of support and stigma are other reasons doctors delay giving a diagnosis, according to the report. Kallmyer said doctors' attitudes toward Alzheimer's is similar to the low rates of cancer diagnoses in the 1950s and '60s.

"These really low diagnosis disclosure rates are reminiscent of what happened in the '50s and '60s into the '70s with cancer," Kallmyer said. "It was called the 'C-word.' It wasn't talked about in doctors' offices, it wasn't talked about in public. ... it is that way for Alzheimer's disease. It's not something people are talking about."

Although Alzheimer's cases aren't diagnosed right away, the number of Americans living with the disease continues to grow. As of this year, 5.3 million Americans have been diagnosed, including about 200,000 cases of early-onset Alzheimer's. But by 2050, things are projected to change drastically if a cure is not found by then.

"By the time we get to 2050, if nothing is done to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease or to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, we estimate this number will nearly triple and by 2050, there will be 13.8 million people in the united states with Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Keith Fargo, director of Scientific Programs and Research for the Alzheimer's Association.

About 500,000 people each year develop Alzheimer's disease, or one person every 67 seconds.

"By 2050, given the growing number of people who will develop Alzheimer's disease as the population ages, we estimate that to be every 33 seconds," Fargo said.

As the number of diagnosed cases increases, so does the economic impact. Alzheimer's disease is the most costly to the American economy, Fargo said, in terms of health care costs associated directly to the patient, and also their caregivers.

"Unless something is done to stop Alzheimer's disease or at least delay its onset, it is expected to cost more than $1 trillion by 2050," Fargo said. "That's in today's dollars." Alzheimer's currently costs about $226 billion.

Kallmyer said research has found each Alzheimer's patient has an average of three caregivers, usually unpaid family members.

"The estimated value of that (care) is $217 billion at an hourly rate of just over $12 an hour," she said. "A lot of time and energy is put toward caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease."

The Alzheimer's Association is asking the federal government to increase the funding it receives for research. Comparatively, Fargo said, Alzheimer's research is "woefully underfunded."

"Alzheimer's disease research this year is expected to receive only $586 million in federal funding whereas federal spending on care for people with Alzheimer's disease ... is $153 billion, which we think is out of line."

Kallmyer said increased federal funding and more research will help patients already living with the disease and those at risk of developing it some time in the future.

"We need to make it a different story so people can talk about the disease," she said. "It is a disease. It's nothing to be ashamed of."

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.

]]>