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Athens, Ga. – While pearl millet is a major food staple in some of the fastest growing regions on Earth, relatively little is know about the drought-hardy grain. Recently, plant geneticists at the University of Georgia successfully isolated the gene that creates dwarfed varieties of pearl millet. It is the first time a gene controlling an important agronomic trait has been isolated in the pearl millet genome. Their work appeared in the March edition of the journal G3: Genes, Genomics, Genetics. The dwarf varieties are economically important in the U.S. and India in particular. Dwarf varieties are used as forage plants in the U.S. and are grown as a food staple in India. The researchers, led by UGA’s Katrien Devos, also were able to trace the dwarf gene to plants bred 50 years ago by Glenn Burton, a UGA plant breeder who worked on the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Tifton campus. Knowing which gene controls the dwarfing trait will help plant breeders create more efficient, sustainable varieties of millet that have the short stature some farmers and ranchers are looking for. “Knowing the actual gene that reduces plant height has allowed us to develop markers that can be used by breeders to screen for the presence of the gene long before the effects of the gene can be visually observed,” said Devos, a professor in the CAES’s Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, housed in the department of crop and soil sciences, and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ department of plant biology. “In the longer term, the knowledge gained in pearl millet will help to develop semi-dwarf lines with high agronomic performance in other cereal crops,” she said. Rajiv K. Parvathaneni, a doctoral student working in Devos’ lab, was in charge of tracking down the gene, which works by controlling the flow of the growth hormone auxin through the plant. He also wanted to understand the mechanism by which the gene controls auxin and to develop plant-breeder-friendly markers that would allow breeders to screen for the dwarfing gene before their plants matured. The gene that Parvathaneni found affects the downward transport of auxin, which is made in the top part of the plant. If this gene is on, the auxin flows freely, and millet grows to its full height, about 10 feet. If it is off, the millet plant may only grow to be 3 to 5 feet in height. Parvathaneni and Devos’ team first found which region of the pearl millet’s genome contributed to growth and then compared that section to a similar section of DNA from sorghum. Sorghum is a grain related to pearl millet, and a complete map of its genome recently was released by Devos’ UGA colleague Andy Paterson. The comparison revealed that ABCB1, a gene controlling auxin transport and causing reduced plant height in sorghum, was the prime gene candidate controlling pearl millet dwarf stature, Devos said. Comparative genome analysis, a process in which an unmapped genome is compared to the genome of a similar and more thoroughly described plant genome, is a common method used to help identify the functions of specific genes. This method is especially useful in crops for which little genetic resources are available. Next Devos’ team will work with researchers in other states to understand more fully how auxin transport differs in tall and dwarf millet plants and to verify that ABCB1 is in fact the gene that controls dwarfism. After Devos and Parvathaneni located the dwarfing gene, they tested pearl millet dwarfs from around the world. All dwarfs caused by a non-functional ABCB1 gene have the same mutation as the dwarfs that were first bred by Burton in the 1960s. Dwarf varieties of pearl millet are not ideal for every planting situation. In Africa, many farmers prefer taller varieties because they use the long stalks for roofing thatch and many other applications. However, where millet is intensively cultivated, dwarf millet allows farmers to harvest the grain with mechanical threshers. Ranchers like dwarf millet as forage plant because it has a high leaf to stem ratio, Devos said. Knowing more about the plant in general is key to broadening production of the very drought resistant, hardy grain. “The crop itself has a future, a bright one—especially in regions where climate change may lead to more erratic rain fall patterns as pearl millet is highly drought tolerant. It already is a popular food crop in semi-arid regions of India and Africa and will likely gain interest from drought-prone regions of the developed world as an alternative to corn in animal feed,” Parvathaneni said. The full text of the journal article, “Candidate Gene Underlying the d2 Dwarfing Phenotype in Pearl Millet, Cenchrus americanus (L.) Morrone,” is available at www.g3journal.org/content/current.
“There are many uses for the plants, more than just the bananas themselves,” he said. “There are other uses for alternative energy and for ornamental varieties. I think they will be very popular once we do more research. We are still learning, but we know the environment here is manageable for the identified cold-hardy and short-cycled banana cultivars. They are mostly grown in tropical conditions. It’s exciting what we are learning, and we have growers who want to look at this as another potential commercial crop.” Greg Fonsah, a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences economist, has created his own little corner of the tropics on the University of Georgia Tifton campus. Less than 100 yards away from his office, Fonsah walks through row after row of tall broad-leafed foliage. A quick smile is evident as he swings his machete to and fro, shearing away leaves and branches as he goes.Though the plot stands within sight of the much-traveled road in front of the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center and is visible from Interstate 75, few realize exactly what it contains. Amid the experts who deal in peanuts, cotton, vegetables and tobacco, Fonsah likes to tell people about his beautiful field of bananas.Bananas?“This is not a surprise to me,” said Fonsah in his thick accent that has never left the Cameroon native. “Most of my colleagues said it would not be possible to grow bananas here. But because the conditions are similar, I knew it was possible. The bananas here are different, but they are very good.”While unique, Fonsah and colleagues actually started their banana research in Savannah in 2002 before starting a project in Tifton in 2009. The professor has an extensive background in the field, working for Del Monte and Aloha Farms for almost 15 years before coming to UGA in 2001. He believes banana production can be an entirely new and unique field for Georgia farmers, and he said the interest is already there. Although Fonsah says more studies need to be done, farmers are already calling him for information.One fact is not in dispute — Americans love bananas and lots of them. According to Fonsah, bananas are the most commonly consumed fresh fruit in the country, and consumption rose from 7 pounds per person in 1970 to 10.4 pounds per person in 2010. Nearly all of those bananas, an estimated 99 percent by Fonsah, come from overseas.“The United States spends $1.9 billion on bananas every year,” Fonsah said. “That’s bananas and plantains. But there’s no reason all of that money has to go somewhere else. The weather is conducive for cold-hardy and short-cycled banana cultivars here, and with the diverse cultural backgrounds, there is a niche market for bananas.”Fonsah said he has about 65 different varieties on his plot for consumption, cooking and ornamental use. But what he pulls off his plants is not what you usually see at your local grocery store. Americans are most accustomed to eating Cavendish bananas, which are a bit different than the Veinte Cohol and several other varieties that Fonsah has grown. The Veinte Cohol is a short-cycle banana, which can be planted in the spring and will produce a bunch in about six months. It can be harvested in the fall (before the first frost) and is a smaller, flatter, sweeter variety.“We have to do more studies on the short cycle, cold hardy and ornamentals because they are not ready for commercial harvest yet,” Fonsah said. “But there is a lot of impatience because (producers) want them on the market now. The next level we must go to is harvesting and doing consumer studies.”Still, Fonsah continues to look for new varieties. In his banana field, Fonsah also grows Saba bananas, which are mainly used for cooking, like plantains. Unlike the Veinte Cohol or other varieties that are consumed, the Saba bananas grow in a tight bunch on a very large and tall pseudostem. Fonsah said they are starchy, pulpy and a great source of potassium. A respected expert in the field of fresh produce production and marketing, Fonsah has published hundreds of articles in professional journals on banana production as well as tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, pecans and other fruits and vegetables. Fonsah considers his little-known banana paradise at the Tifton campus his real classroom and sanctuary. He tends to the plants regularly and has had students from around the world join him in his research, trying to determine exactly which varieties work best under the south Georgia sun.
Nothing ruins a good cookout or run through the sprinklers like a mound of fire ants. With warmer weather around the corner, early spring is the time to tackle fire ant problems before they spoil summer fun.A quick internet search will yield a slew of home remedies – from applications of grits to vinegar solutions – that are purported to get rid of fire ants. Dan Suiter, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences entomologist, researches fire ants and works with homeowners through UGA Cooperative Extension. He hates to be the bearer of bad news, but says there’s no proof that any of these remedies work.The most effective and most ecologically sound way to get rid of fire ants is to use a bait product containing the active ingredients hydramethylnon (for example, Amdro), methoprene or spinosad.“It’s like a smart bomb,” Suiter said. “You’re putting out a very small concentration of material, and the only thing that it will affect is the fire ants.”The trick is using it correctly, he said.Buying baitHomeowners typically have two options available to them in the home improvement store: fire ant baits and broadcast ant poisons.Amdro, for instance, consists of a small granule of ground corncob saturated in soybean oil that contains the active ingredients hydramethylnon and/or methoprene. Hydramethylnon is an acute toxin designed to kill fire ants when they eat the bait.The broadcast poison is made of clay particles coated with a chemical like bifenthrin, which kills fire ants when they come in contact with the residue left behind. Bifenthrin is not selective. It kills any insect, both beneficial and harmful.Fire ant baits often come in smaller bags and are labeled as bait. Suiter suggests buying the smallest bag or no more than you will need this summer. Due to the soybean oil coating, the bait can go rancid after one season, making the bait unpalatable to the ants.Application is keyFollow the directions on the fire ant bait package exactly. Suiter recommends applying bait in a 2- or 3-foot-diameter circle around the mound, not on top of the mound.The ants will forage out, retrieve the bait and take it back to their nest. Suiter warns not to apply bait to the top of the fire ant mound. Since fire ants do not typically forage on top of their mound, they may not find it to eat it.It’s best to apply the bait on a warm, sunny afternoon after all the morning dew has dried, he said. Baits should never be applied to wet soil or watered into the grass. This will ruin the smell and taste of the bait. Never water in bait after it has been spread.“Ants are very finicky about what they can smell,” Suiter said. “Cigarette smoke or gas smells can contaminate bait and keep ants from taking the bait. They can also tell if it’s gone rancid, so use it very quickly and seal the bag really well if you don’t use it all. If you have a bag from last year, there’s a good chance it has gone rancid, and the ants won’t touch it.”Bait stored for more than a year or kept near gasoline or fertilizer may not be as effective. Cigarette smokers or anyone who has handled gasoline or fertilizers should wear gloves when applying bait because even subtle changes in the bait’s odor can deter ants.When using a hand-held broadcast spreader to apply the bait, make sure it has not been used for any other lawn chemicals. If it is new, rinse it with water before spreading the bait to cut down on the smell of new plastic.Keep those ants hungryAvoid disturbing the ant beds before treating them with bait. This distracts them from their primary goal of foraging for food.“Don’t kick the mound, because if you do, the colony will release an alarm hormone,” Suiter said. “They’ll all be looking to defend the mound against the threat; they will not be out looking for food.”What happens next?After bait has been applied, nearby ants will forage out to collect it, and it should be gone within hours, Suiter said.Over the next week to 10 days, the ants will suck the poison-laden soybean oil off the corn granules and begin to die. If a mound is still active 10 days after application, a second application of bait may be necessary.For more information about problem ants, call your local UGA Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visit caes.uga.edu/publications.(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Williston, VT Candelin Wahl has joined Child Care Resource as Director of Development, responsible for fund raising, community events and outreach. Ms. Wahl was recently Marketing Director at Verilux in Waitsfield, and previously New Products Manager at Ben & Jerrys. She has also managed fund raising for several community groups.Child Care Resource, a non-profit organization founded in 1984, is the place to go for everything you need to know about child care in Chittenden County. Its mission is to strengthen the well-being, development, and education of children by providing consultation, education, and resources to families, professionals who care for and educate our children, businesses, and communities.
Montpelier – May 1, 2008 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has selected a proposal by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency to compete for up to $5 million in new funding to support state rental housing preservation efforts. The Vermont agencies would use the funding to restructure financing, increase energy efficiency, and provide support services to frail elders and formerly homeless individuals. The funds would be targeted to preserve more than 8,000 private and non-profit owned rental apartments in 123 towns over the next ten years.Many of these developments were originally financed with low income housing or historic preservation tax credit equity that guaranteed a 15-20 year period of affordability or with Section 8 Certificates that are due to expire within the next several years. Anticipating the potential loss of affordability in these apartments, the agencies are working together to refinance and convert the units to permanently affordable housing. With a nationally recognized network of nonprofit housing development organizations serving all corners of the rural state, Vermont has a strong track record in developing affordable housing.Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, said, The affordability of 12,000 apartments is threatened in the next five years. It is critical that we take action to preserve our rental housing assets in smart growth locations around the state. Increasing energy efficiency in our rental housing stock will also be critical to maintaining affordability in the long run.A new report released today by Harvard Universitys Joint Center for Housing Studies details the devastating effect the mortgage crisis is having on the rental market and proposes the development of a new and more balanced set of housing policy initiatives that would expand opportunities for renters and homeowners alike. [http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/rental/rh08_americas_rental_hou…(link is external)While Vermont had fewer sub-prime mortgages and consequently has suffered fewer foreclosures than other states, 29.4 percent of the states households are renters (nearly 72,000 households). In 2007 Vermonts rental vacancy rate was the second-lowest in the country.This new report underscores that the demand for affordable rental housing is increasing at the same time that the supply of low-cost rental is declining, said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. The debate on national housing policy must not exclude the more than 35 million renter households. We clearly need policies that honor the role of rental housing as well as homeownership. The diverse cities, counties, and states selected as finalists for MacArthur funding share a commitment to preserving and improving affordable rental housing and have offered ideas that we believe are creative and potentially very effective. Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, said, Vermonters who rent are already under serious pressure as costs rise and would take a serious hit if we are unable to refinance thousands of affordable apartments that are due to lose federal subsidies or tax credit income restrictions. The MacArthur Foundations support would help us leverage other private and public funds in anticipation of refinancing and creating permanent affordability in units that would otherwise be lost as affordable housing resources.This year, affordability was preserved at the 336-unit Northgate Apartments in Burlington when ownership was transferred to the Northgate Residents Ownership Corporation, a non-profit consisting of a majority of Northgate residents along with community representatives. The cost to acquire and rehabilitate Northgate in 1989 was $21.67 million, comprised of state and federal funding and low income housing tax credit equity. In 2006, upon expiration of the tax credit compliance period, an additional $365,000 created permanent affordability. The replacement cost of a development this size today would be $80 million. Instead of being faced with displacement, residents who have lived here for decades are celebrating. According to board member Amy Wright, Its a little miracle that this is a $21 million resident-owned community and that Vermont has been able to make that happen.The MacArthur Foundation will provide a total of $35 million in multi-year grants and program-related investments (low-interest loans) to up to ten state and local governments that are demonstrating outstanding leadership through promising, high impact approaches to preserving and improving affordable rental housing. Individual awards, which will be announced in early 2009, will range from $250,000 to $5 million and must be used to design, demonstrate or scale up a significant preservation initiative. The 21 finalists announced today were selected from over 80 jurisdictions that applied. These grants and low-interest loans are part of MacArthurs $150-million Window of Opportunity initiative, which seeks to preserve 300,000 affordable rental homes across the country. The Foundation also aims to stimulate policy reforms that reverse the loss of existing, affordable rental homes, enabling communities and rental housing owners to preserve at least one million units over the decade ahead.___________________________________The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board is a state-funded agency making loans and grants for the creation of permanently affordable housing and the conservation of agricultural and recreational land, natural areas and historic properties.The Vermont Housing Finance Agency VHFA was created by the Vermont Legislature in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the Agency has helped approximately 26,000 Vermont households with affordable mortgages and financed the development of 7,400 affordable rental units.The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution helping to build a more just and sustainable world. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media. With assets of more than $6.8 billion, the Foundation makes approximately $260 million in grants annually. More information is available at www.macfound.org(link is external).
The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles will participate in Road Check 2009, an international safety activity that will take place June 2-4 throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. International Road Check 2009 will emphasize promoting both safety and security on North American highways through the inspection of commercial vehicles and drivers. Along Interstate 91 in Guilford and Putney, more than 30 truck and bus safety inspectors from DMV’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit, several municipal police agencies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, I.R.S Fuel Compliance and the U.S. Border Patrol will be on the job night and day during the 72-hour period checking vehicles and drivers at inspection sites. In addition, roving patrols will inspect vehicles and drivers traveling on other highways.Certified inspectors will check critical vehicle safety elements, as well as determine drivers’ fitness for duty.Road Check 2009 also will emphasize enforcement for commercial vehicle drivers who fail to wear their safety belt. According to recent studies, only about 72 percent of truck drivers heed the federal law that requires them to wear a safety belt to avoid injury or death if there is a crash.Although inspectors perform this work everyday, Road Check 2009 will place a special emphasis on year-round commercial vehicle and driver safety inspections, as well as other driver safety programs aimed at saving lives on North American highways.More than 3 million roadside safety inspections are conducted each year by specially trained inspectors. The number of inspections is growing each year as the volume of commercial traffic increases.
Average retail gasoline prices in Vermont have fallen to $2.67 per gallon, or 5 cents below the national average, and are trending downward, while Burlington gas prices have fallen 2.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.66/g yesterday. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.72/g, according to gasoline price websites vermontgasprices.com and BurlingtonGasPrices.com.VermontUSATrendToday Yesterday One Week Ago One Month Ago One Year Ago2.670 2.683 2.682 2.709 2.6182.720 2.721 2.747 2.709 2.535Including the change in gas prices in Burlington during the past week, prices yesterday were 2.5 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 5.0 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has increased 0.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 17.6 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.www.vermontgasprices.com(link is external)www.BurlingtonGasPrices.com(link is external)GasBuddy operates GasBuddy.com, BurlingtonGasPrices.com, vermontgasprices.com and over 225 other local gasoline price-tracking websites that follow prices at over 125,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. GasBuddy also uses Facebook (facebook.com/gasbuddy) Twitter (twitter.com/gasbuddy), and phone apps to keep motorists ahead of changing gasoline prices. GasBuddy.com was named one of Time magazine’s 50 best websites and to PC World’s 100 most useful websites of 2008.
Dr Richard Kujawa, Saint Michael’s College professor of geography, earned the top Saint Michael’s teaching award, the Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award, for 2010, as selected by his faculty colleagues and presented at the Academic Convocation September 24 in the McCarthy Arts Center on the college campus.In presenting the award, last year’s recipient, Dr. Lorrie Smith, said, “The teaching award at Saint Michaels College is presented annually to a faculty member in memory of Joanne Rathgeb, professor of fine arts. Joanne had a passion for teaching, unwavering fidelity to high standards and creativity, a quirky sense of humor, and a willingness to go any distance to ensure that all students learn, which are all principles embraced by this year’s recipient of the teaching award, Dr. Richard Kujawa.”Dr. Kujawa was cited for being “one of our most dynamic and engaging lecturers.” And his lectures were said to be “sprinkled with humor, often self-deprecating, while never straying too far from the serious pursuit of academic discovery.” Further he was described as having a stunning ability to present geography in creative.Professor Kujawa was praised for expecting students to demonstrate personal responsibility, self-motivation, independent thinking, hard work and curiosity. The citation called him, “one of the toughest graders on campus who also happens to be one of our most student-centered faculty members . . . students still cherish his classes and respect this charming and charismatic teacher.”Professor Kujawa is coordinator of the Vermont Geographic Alliance, through which he has done notable work improving the quality and scope of geography education in our public schools.Professor Kujawa is a resident of South Burlington.Learn What Matters at Saint Michael’s College, The Edmundite Catholic liberal arts college, www.smcvt.edu(link is external) . Saint Michael’s provides education with a social conscience, producing graduates with the intellectual tools to lead successful, purposeful lives that will contribute to peace and justice in our world. Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael’s College is located three miles from Burlington, Vermont, one of America’s top college towns. It is identified by the Princeton Review as one of the nations Best 371 Colleges, and is included in the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Saint Michael’s is one of only 280 colleges and universities nationwide, one of only 20 Catholic colleges, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Saint Michael’s has 1,900 undergraduate students, some 500 graduate students and 100 international students. Saint Michael’s students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright, and other grants. The college is one of the nation’s top-100, Best Liberal Arts Colleges as listed in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings.Source: Saint Michael’s. 9.28.2010-30-
Berkshire Bank,Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: BHLB), which does business as Berkshire Bank with offices in southwestern Vermont, and Legacy Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: LEGC) announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Berkshire will acquire Legacy and its subsidiary, Legacy Banks, in a transaction valued at approximately $108 million.The merger of Legacy into Berkshire will create a combined institution with $4 billion in assets. This in-market merger will create efficiencies and market share benefits for the combined banks, which both have branches in Western Massachusetts and Northeastern New York. Including Berkshire’s pending merger with Rome Bancorp, the combined bank will have more than 60 offices serving Berkshire County, the Pioneer Valley, New York, and Southern Vermont.Legacy has nearly $1 billion in assets and 19 branches, while Berkshire has nearly $3 billion in assets and will have 47 branches including the Rome branches. Both institutions offer a wide range of personal and commercial banking products and services, as well as wealth management, investments, and insurance services. Both banks are headquartered in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and have histories stretching back more than 150 years serving the Berkshire County market. The combined bank will be well capitalized, with strong asset quality and strong planned revenue and core earnings growth. Berkshire will have a market capitalization exceeding $400 million and a dividend yield exceeding 3% based on current stock market prices.Michael P. Daly, Berkshire’s President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “This in-market combination will create a strong platform headquartered in Berkshire County for further growth of our Northeast regional franchise. I look forward to welcoming the Legacy team into the culture of America’s Most Exciting Bank(SM) as we together provide the best financial support and solutions to our markets. The transaction will be immediately accretive to core earnings per share, and the other metrics of this merger demonstrate that it is fairly priced and will produce an attractive return to investors. Shareholders will also benefit from our larger market capitalization and stock trading liquidity, and our strong franchise positioning in the middle of the Northeast region. We expect to complete our pending merger with Rome Bancorp in the first quarter of 2011 and to complete the Legacy merger in the following quarter, accelerating our planned return to a $2.00 annualized core EPS run-rate. Our strong executive team is positioned to complete these integrations flawlessly, and we look forward to welcoming Legacy executive Patrick Sullivan onto this team, along with two Legacy directors onto our Board, including J. Williar Dunlaevy.”Mr. Dunlaevy stated, “Legacy and Berkshire have been friendly competitors over the years, and now we’re joining the Berkshire team to create a larger combined platform to serve our traditional and target markets. This transaction produces a very attractive immediate return to our shareholders. Additionally, Berkshire’s stock has excellent prospects for further attractive investment returns, particularly including the benefits of this partnership, which will provide long term benefits to all of our constituencies.” Mr. Sullivan added, “As we considered our strategic alternatives, there were compelling reasons for us to seek this partnership with Berkshire. Berkshire is a company with strong momentum and is well positioned as a bank that knows our communities, understands the customers we serve, and offers a unique brand promise for customer engagement. I look forward to joining the Berkshire executive team, and to successfully integrating our neighboring operations and accelerating our combined earnings growth in New England and New York.”The merger is valued at $13.00 per share of Legacy common stock based on the $20.75 average closing price of Berkshire’s stock for the ten day period ending December 15, 2010. Under the terms of the merger agreement, each outstanding share of Legacy common stock will be exchanged for 0.56385 Berkshire common shares plus $1.30 in cash. As a result, 90% of the merger consideration will be in the form of Berkshire stock and 10% will be in the form of cash. The $13.00 per share value represents 110% of Legacy’s tangible book value per share and a 1.0% premium to core deposits based on financial information as of September 30, 2010. The merger is expected to be completed by June 30, 2011. It is expected to be $0.10 accretive to Berkshire’s core earnings per share in 2012, which will be the first full year of operations, and there will also be some accretive benefit in the 2011 transition year.The transaction is intended to qualify as a reorganization for federal income tax purposes, and as a result, it is expected that the exchange of Legacy shares for Berkshire shares will be on a tax-free basis. The definitive agreement has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both Berkshire and Legacy. Consummation of the agreement is subject to the approval of Berkshire’s and Legacy’s shareholders, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies. It is anticipated that there will be some divestiture of deposits in Berkshire County; any divestiture gains will be shared in accordance with the merger agreement. Both the Berkshire Bank Foundation and The Legacy Banks Foundation will continue to provide charitable contributions to the communities.Sandler O’Neill & Partners, L.P. served as the financial advisor to Berkshire, and Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. served as the financial advisor for Legacy. Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick, P.C. served as outside legal counsel to Berkshire, while Nutter McClennan & Fish LLP served as outside legal counsel to Legacy.Regarding Berkshire’s current year performance, Berkshire CEO Mike Daly added, “We are pleased that our fourth quarter core earnings are anticipated to meet or exceed our previous guidance of $0.26 per share, which reflects an annualized pace of growth around 16% compared to the prior quarter. This results from continued strong organic growth of our business and continued favorable asset quality metrics. We expect some one-time charges related to the Legacy and Rome merger agreements which will impact our GAAP earnings. We look forward to announcing our fourth quarter and full year 2010 results after the close of business on Monday, January 24, 2011, followed by a conference call/webcast at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.”About Berkshire Hills BancorpBerkshire Hills Bancorp is the parent of Berkshire Bank – America’s Most Exciting Bank(SM). The Company has $2.8 billion in assets and 41 full service branch offices in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. Berkshire Bank provides 100% deposit insurance protection for all deposit accounts, regardless of amount, based on a combination of FDIC insurance and the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). For more information, visit www.berkshirebank.com(link is external) or call 800-773-5601.About Legacy BancorpLegacy Bancorp is a publicly held, one-bank holding company whose wholly-owned subsidiary, Legacy Banks, is a full-service, community-oriented financial institution offering products and services to individuals, families and businesses through nineteen branch offices located in western Massachusetts and eastern New York State. Predecessors to Legacy Banks have been serving the area’s financial needs since 1835. Legacy Banks’ business consists primarily of making loans to its customers, including residential mortgages, commercial real estate loans, commercial loans and consumer loans, and investing in a variety of investment and mortgage-backed securities. Legacy Banks funds these lending and investment activities with deposits from the general public, funds generated from operations and select borrowings. Legacy Banks also provides insurance and investment products and services, investment portfolio management, debit and credit card products and online banking.About Rome BancorpRome Bancorp, Inc. is a publicly held, one-bank holding company whose wholly-owned subsidiary, The Rome Savings Bank, maintains its corporate offices in Rome, New York. Rome Bancorp, Inc. is incorporated in the state of Delaware. The Rome Savings Bank, regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, operates five full-service community banking offices in Rome, Lee, and New Hartford, New York. Rome’s assets totaled $332 million as of September 30, 2010. Rome’s primary lines of business include residential real estate lending, small business loan and deposit services, as well as a variety of consumer loan and deposit services.FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTSCertain statements contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”), notwithstanding that such statements are not specifically identified as such. In addition, certain statements may be contained in our future filings with the SEC, in press releases, and in oral and written statements made by us or with our approval that are not statements of historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Act. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (i) projections of revenues, expenses, income or loss, earnings or loss per share, the payment or nonpayment of dividends, capital structure and other financial items; (ii) statements of our plans, objectives and expectations or those of our management or Board of Directors, including those relating to products or services; (iii) statements of future economic performance; and (iv) statements of assumptions underlying such statements. Words such as “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “targeted,” “continue,” “remain,” “will,” “should,” “may” and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements but are not the exclusive means of identifying such statements.Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those in such statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: local, regional, national and international economic conditions and the impact they may have on us and our customers and our assessment of that impact, changes in the level of non-performing assets and charge-offs; changes in estimates of future reserve requirements based upon the periodic review thereof under relevant regulatory and accounting requirements; the effects of and changes in trade and monetary and fiscal policies and laws, including the interest rate policies of the Federal Reserve Board; inflation, interest rate, securities market and monetary fluctuations; political instability; acts of war or terrorism; the timely development and acceptance of new products and services and perceived overall value of these products and services by users; changes in consumer spending, borrowings and savings habits; changes in the financial performance and/or condition of our borrowers; technological changes; acquisitions and integration of acquired businesses; the ability to increase market share and control expenses; changes in the competitive environment among financial holding companies and other financial service providers; the quality and composition of our loan or investment portfolio; the effect of changes in laws and regulations (including laws and regulations concerning taxes, banking, securities and insurance) with which we and our subsidiaries must comply; the effect of changes in accounting policies and practices, as may be adopted by the regulatory agencies, as well as the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Financial Accounting Standards Board and other accounting standard setters; changes in our organization, compensation and benefit plans; the costs and effects of legal and regulatory developments, including the resolution of legal proceedings or regulatory or other governmental inquiries and the results of regulatory examinations or reviews; greater than expected costs or difficulties related to the opening of new branch offices or the integration of new products and lines of business, or both; and/or our success at managing the risk involved in the foregoing items.ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR STOCKHOLDERSIn connection with the proposed merger, Berkshire will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) a Registration Statement on Form S-4 that will include a Proxy Statement of Legacy and a Proxy Statement/Prospectus of Berkshire, as well as other relevant documents concerning the proposed transaction. Stockholders are urged to read the Registration Statement and the Proxy Statement/prospectus regarding the merger when it becomes available and any other relevant documents filed with the SEC, as well as any amendments or supplements to those documents, because they will contain important information. A free copy of the Proxy Statement/Prospectus, as well as other filings containing information about Berkshire Hills and Legacy, may be obtained at the SEC’s Internet site (http://www.sec.gov(link is external)). You will also be able to obtain these documents, free of charge, from Berkshire Hills Bancorp at www.berkshirebank.com(link is external) under the tab “Investor Relations” or from Legacy Bancorp by accessing Legacy Bancorp’s website at www.legacy-banks.com(link is external) under the tab “Investor Relations.”Under the terms of the Agreement, Legacy and its advisors are permitted to solicit and consider acquisition proposals from third parties from the signing of the agreement through January 31, 2011. It is not anticipated that any developments will be disclosed with regard to this process unless Legacy’s Board of Directors makes a decision with respect to a potential superior acquisition proposal. There can be no assurance that the solicitation of proposals will result in an alternative transaction.Berkshire and Legacy and certain of their directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the stockholders of Legacy Bancorp in connection with the proposed merger. Information about the directors and executive officers of Berkshire Hills Bancorp is set forth in the proxy statement for Berkshire Hills Bancorp’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on a Schedule 14A on March 26, 2010. Information about the directors and executive officers of Legacy Bancorp is set forth in the proxy statement for Legacy Bancorp’s 2010 annual meeting of stockholders, as filed with the SEC on a Schedule 14A on March 25, 2010. Additional information regarding the interests of those participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the transaction may be obtained by reading the Proxy Statement/Prospectus regarding the proposed merger when it becomes available. Free copies of this document may be obtained as described in the preceding paragraph.NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURESThis news release references non-GAAP financial measures incorporating tangible equity and related measures, as well as core deposits. These measures are commonly used by investors in evaluating business combinations and financial condition. Tangible equity/tangible assets excludes intangible assets from the numerator and denominator. Tangible book value per share excludes intangible assets. Core deposits are total deposits less time deposits over $100 thousand. Core earnings and earnings per share exclude non-recurring items, including one-time merger related expenses recorded against income in accordance with financial accounting standards for business acquisitions.SOURCE Berkshire Hills Bancorp PITTSFIELD, Mass., Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —
Todd Moore, vice president of Revenue Cycle for the past four years, has been named senior vice president of Managed Care and Revenue Strategy at Fletcher Allen Health Care, a new position within the organization.Moore has also been named president, Vermont Managed Care, a physician hospital organization (PHO), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fletcher Allen. These organizations are management service organizations in which the partners are physicians and hospitals. PHO organizations contract with insurance companies for physician and hospital services. During his time as the vice president of Revenue Cycle, Moore helped to negotiate contracts with key insurance companies and helped to lead strategic planning that has enabled Fletcher Allen to navigate the emerging dynamic managed care environment.As senior vice president of Managed Care and Revenue Strategy, Moore will play an even greater role in shaping Fletcher Allen’s response to health care reform. In his new role as president of Vermont Managed Care, Moore will also provide strategic direction for that company.‘Todd’s experience fits perfectly with the requirements for this new senior-level position,’ said John Brumsted, interim president and CEO, Fletcher Allen Health Care. ‘Like every other health care provider, we need to focus on being part of the discussion and fully understanding the new reimbursement methodologies as they develop, both at the state and federal level.’ Prior to his role with Fletcher Allen, Moore served for fourteen years as an executive consultant to health care providers and insurers as a principal at the Mercer Consulting Group, a co-founder and partner of his own firm, and as a consulting executive for Cerner Corporation, a health information technology company. In addition, Moore previously served four years as a technology consultant to the financial services industry with Accenture.Moore holds a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Illinois. About Vermont Managed CareVermont Managed Care (VMC) was founded in 1991 as a Physician Hospital Organization. A wholly owned subsidiary of Fletcher Allen, it currently coordinates the delivery of health care services for a population served by a network of more than over 2,700 primary and specialty care providers and 10 hospitals in Vermont and New Hampshire. The VMC Network conducts its own care management, enabling the physician-run network to make day-to-day health care decisions for its patients, rather than a distant third party claims manager. About Fletcher AllenFletcher Allen Health Care, together with our partners at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is Vermont’s academic medical center. Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve by integrating patient care, education and research in a caring environment. Fletcher Allen serves as a regional referral center — providing advanced care to approximately one million people in Vermont and northern New York — and as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. For more information about Fletcher Allen, find us online at http://www.fletcherallen.org(link is external) or on our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites at www.fletcherallen.org/socialmedia(link is external). FAHC 11.11.11