Written By Tris Wykes
Valley News Staff Writer
Enfield — Could the Co-op Food Stores open a location in the Mascoma Valley? A group of area residents are curious enough in the idea that they signaled their intention to attend an informational meeting at the Enfield Community Center next Tuesday at 4 p.m. on the topic.
Co-op General Manager Terry Appleby will also be there to gauge the level of interest in the community for a cooperative food store. Appleby cautioned, however, that it’s not unusual for him to address and help educate groups whose efforts either don’t come to fruition or lead to an independent, cooperative society.
“There’s a lot of co-op development going on across the country and you can always find a few people in a town who are interested in doing it,’’ Appleby said. “The real question is whether there are sufficient people in any area. We know we already have members out there who come into Hanover or Lebanon to shop.”
Appleby declined to estimate how many of the Co-op’s approximately 20,000 active members live in Enfield and Canaan. He said he’s received similar inquiries from residents in Woodstock and Windsor in Vermont and Keene and Littleton in New Hampshire. Discussions with groups in the first two towns didn’t lead anywhere significant, he said, while co-ops not affiliated with Appleby’s business have opened in the latter two locations.
“Enfield is part of a large region which lacks a larger grocery store,” Appleby said, adding that the Co-op conducted a market study in the Mascoma Valley roughly 10 years ago. “We’d have to do some real due diligence if we find out there’s significant interest there now.”
Dorothy Heinrichs, an Orange Selectboard member, believes the appetite for a co-op exists. She posted an item on the Enfield Listserv last week to notify readers of the meeting with Appleby and said she received about 40 emails in response. She said she expects about 20 residents from Enfield, Canaan, Grafton, Orange and Dorchester to attend the gathering.
“Many people said they have shopped at the Hanover or Lebanon (Co-op) stores and that it would be wonderful to have something closer,’’ said Heinrichs, who works as a principal gifts officer at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine. “Those attending would like accessible, healthy food at a decent price.
“What we don’t know is how we prove our case to the Co-op. What do they need and are they even interested?”
Canaan is 19 driving miles from West Lebanon, 26 from Plymouth and 43 from Claremont, which are principal shopping destinations for Mascoma Valley residents looking to stock up on food.
The primary food store in Enfield is Georges AG SuperValue, a small market on Main Street. A man who identified himself over the phone as a manager declined to comment yesterday.
About two hours later, customer Bill Thompson bought a few eggs and a small package of hamburger there.
Accompanying Thompson was Andrea Drew, a Croydon resident who works for Pathways, a nonprofit agency that supports people with developmental disabilities and brain injuries. Drew said she’s assisted Thompson for about a year and would welcome other shopping options besides Georges.
Thompson “loves fruits, vegetables and fresh (cold cuts) and it would be nice to have a decent grocery store nearby,’’ Drew said. “It’s a good thing (Enfield does) have this place, because the bus to West Lebanon doesn’t run on weekends. But we try to buy as little as possible here because it’s so expensive.”
Lebanon resident Steve Carrier lives on Ice House Road near the Enfield line and said he visits Georges when he needs staples on short notice. Carrier said he would support the arrival of a food co-op if it didn’t compete directly with the existing market.
“I guarantee if a big grocery store went in on Route 4, Georges SuperValue would be no more,’’ Carrier said. “I’d rather see a co-op come in that found their niche with artisan breads and a wide variety of produce.”
Enfield Town Manager Steve Schneider said the town’s planning commission has been presented with “a handful of conceptual designs” for large grocery stores during the past five years but “no one’s said here’s an actual building we want to put in.”
Schneider said a survey done about six or seven years ago by the Enfield Village Association showed that the top wish of residents was for the arrival of a large grocery store. He added that the water and sewer line extensions along Route 4 that were completed last year were endorsed by the townspeople in part because they hoped such work would lure a large food retailer.
Schneider, who said he makes trips to West Lebanon every other week to stock his pantry, didn’t directly reply when asked if he would like to see a large grocery store along Route 4.
“I’m in favor of development in that area in whatever form it takes,’’ Schneider said.
Canaan resident Michael Zani said he tried to entice the Market Basket chain to open a store where he and his father, David, now operate Papa Z’s market and deli near the Canaan Raceway. The Massachusetts-based company declined, Michael Zani said, adding that he would be worried for his business if a competitor came to the area now. He added that a food co-op would be less of a concern because he anticipates such an operation would charge higher prices.
“The newness of something like a Market Basket would be a factor,’’ Michael Zani said. “Everyone would go there at first to try it out, but it would come down to price and ease of access.
“Now, if the (Co-op) came here, who could afford it? The clientele is very different in this area than in Hanover and Lebanon.”
Zani turned to a customer at his checkout register. “How do you think the Co-op would do here?” he asked.
The woman, who would only identify herself as Jenn, snorted in response. “Most of us can’t afford just to live, let alone shop somewhere like that,’’ she said on her way out the door.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.
Written By David Morrison
CHICAGO — CO-OP Financial Services is changing two of its longest-standing brands and logos.
The CO-OP Network is becoming CO-OP ATM and the CU Swirl, which has long been the symbol of the CUSO’s shared branching, becomes CO-OP Shared Branch.
Both will help credit union members and the public at large more easily find what they are looking for in both things, the California-based CO-OP said in Tuesday’s announcement.
“Your members are looking for an ATM, not a network,” Stan Hollen, CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, told executives attending the CUSO's THINK 2013 conference here through Thursday.
The goal, he explained, was to make the strengths of credit unions associated with the CUSO clearer and more valuable to consumers as a way of strengthening both the members and the credit unions.
Hollen then yielded the podium briefly to CUNA CEO Bill Cheney, who called on credit unions to cooperate more to build on their strengths.
Such cooperation, he said, would eventually allow members to know that they could always access free ATMs and branch services at any credit union
Written By David Morrison
CHICAGO — More than 550 executives from 329 credit unions, CUSOs and other firms have gathered this week at the Swissotel in Chicago.
They’ll hear a variety of different speakers bring different perspectives at the CO-OP Financial Services THINK 2013 conference.
CO-OP Stan Hollen got things going Tuesday by telling the audience that more than 33 million credit union members have the CO-OP logo on their ATM or debit cards, from 3,500 credit unions and that they have available more than 30,000 credit union ATMs across the natio
“We have far more ATMs than the largest bank, in fact more than the top two banks combined,” Hollen said, “and more than 10,000 of them take deposits.”
He also said that CO-OP’s shared branching now connects more than 16,000 branches, with room to grow.
On the new products front, Hollen touted My Capture, a remote check deposit feature that pairs with the CUSO’s mobile app offering. He also said that Sprig, the CUSO's person-to-person payments option, will soon be able to pay anyone whether their credit union is on shared branching or not.
The California-based CUSO also has been making strides in credit card processing using an alliance with The Members Group, the payments CUSO associated with the Iowa Credit Union League, Hollen said.
Photo: NASCHO President John Morrison
Written by Brett Norman
The public option is dead. Long live CO-OPs!
That’s the chant from mostly grass-roots health reformers in 24 states, backed by billions of dollars in government loans, who are gearing up to offer alternatives to commercial insurance plans on the exchanges next fall.
And those who are starting up these Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans speak earnestly about a CO-OP “movement” that’s ready to break out onto the scene.
“[W]hat a historic opportunity it is to inject into the marketplace a member-governed, nonprofit health carrier that is building from the ground up, writing from a blank slate,” said John Morrison, a former Montana insurance commissioner and president of the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs. “It’s exciting.”
Historic but challenging. To succeed, CO-OPs will have to compete with large established insurers that are also hungry for the new exchange business under the health law. Those insurers have provider networks in place, established reputations and large marketing budgets. Most CO-OPs have had less than a year and limited resources to mount their challenge.
“It remains to be seen whether CO-OPs can effectively market their policies and services to become self-sustaining,” a recent brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states.
“This is a flabbergastingly enormous task,” said Jan VanRiper, executive director of NASHCO. “The oldest [CO-OP] has been around for one year.”
The liberals’ dream of a government public plan to compete with private insurance under the federal health law was sacrificed during negotiations, but what was widely considered a watered-down backup option to fund these consumer-run plans has survived — albeit bloodied and diminished.
While it’s clear CO-OPs will be up and running in nearly half of the states this fall, they would have had a much broader presence save for a provision in the fiscal cliff deal that forbade the feds from contracting with any CO-OPs that hadn’t already signed loan agreements with the government. The burgeoning “movement” reeled at the cliff deal, which came just one day after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Dec. 31 application deadline. More than 40 additional applications were pending, some from organizations in major states like Florida, Texas and California.
“This was a deal that was done quickly and quietly in the dark for reasons other than saving money,” Morrison said at the time. The cut, in his view, was “about the health insurance giants attempting to eliminate competition at the expense of millions of Americans who will pay higher premiums because of a lack of competition.”
Funded initially by $6 billion in the Affordable Care Act, the CO-OP effort already had been cut to $3.4 billion even before the fiscal cliff deal swept most of the remaining money off the table. But CMS had already contracted with the 24 CO-OPs for about $2 billion in loans, which are unaffected, and was left with 10 percent of remaining funds to administer the program.
The fiscal cliff deal doesn’t necessarily mean the program will be forever confined to 24 states, CMS has said. Some of the approved CO-OPs want to expand to other states — and CMS can give them loans to do so.
So far, 13 CO-OPs have licenses to sell insurance in 13 states, and most of the rest expect final approval in the next few weeks. They have designed health plans, most have contracted with provider networks and claims processors and are developing public outreach campaigns.
The ACA blocks CO-OPs from using loan funds for marketing but not educational efforts. The government faces challenges in explaining the exchanges and encouraging enrollment; the CO-OPs will also have to explain what these new consumer-owned insurance offerings are and how they differ from the other exchange options.
Linn Baker, CEO of the Arches Health Plan, a CO-OP in Utah, plans to market to the “young immortals” — healthy young adults who are often uninsured. Health plans want to get them into the market. Baker plans to offer a low-deductible, catastrophic “Wellth Plan,” a more comprehensive “No Worries” policy and a “Healthy Lifestyles” option that will offer first-dollar accident benefits and no copays for some office visits.
CO-OPs also hope the appeal of a nonprofit insurer that will use any extra revenues to lower premiums or improve benefits will appeal to consumers used to thinking about insurance companies as antagonists.
“We’re here to reach out to the uninsured,” Baker said. “We are coming back to centering it on the patient.”
Whether they will succeed in capturing a significant piece of the new market from traditional insurers is an open question. The barriers are considerable.
Ken Lalime, CEO of the Connecticut CO-OP HealthyCT, said his state hasn’t licensed a new insurance company in about 30 years. Lalime has contracted with a network of 7,000 physicians in the state and plans to compete aggressively for individuals and small businesses on and off the exchanges, but he doesn’t expect to have the big-ticket business with self-insured employers right away.
“For a small organization — a startup — to walk out the door and say I’m going head to head with Aetna, probably isn’t the smartest strategic move,” he said. But small businesses that have been underserved in the past may be easier to reach.
Martin Hickey, CEO of New Mexico Health Connections, says that 97 percent of employers in his state are small businesses that would qualify for tax credits in the health law if they provide coverage to employees. Most do not now, he said, in a state that has among the highest uninsured rates in the country — 23 percent. “That’s an opportunity,” he said.
In addition to the challenge of competing with large, established insurers, CO-OPs are also still contending with skeptical lawmakers on the Hill.
Some Republicans have criticized CO-OPs as Solyndra-like giveaways to Obama administration allies, in particular the Freelancers Union, headed by Sara Horowitz, which is sponsoring CO-OPs in three states.
And the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has asked 12 CO-OPs for a detailed accounting of how they have spent their federal loans so far. He cites an Obama administration estimate that taxpayers could lose up to 43 percent of money given out in loans. He has also asked CMS for documents relating to how it approved CO-OPs, saying the agency has been opaque in administering the program.
Asked for comment on the investigation, a spokesperson said only that the committee had received some documents and was considering how to proceed.
Morrison, the NASHCO president, says some policymakers misunderstand the funding. The majority of the funding comes in 15-year, low-interest loans meant to ensure that the upstart insurance plans can meet the financial solvency requirements of state regulators and to guarantee they can pay any claims newly covered patients may incur.
“Many policymakers and policy analysts think this money is being spent, but it isn’t being spent,” he said. “In order to be an insurance company, you have to keep the gas in the tank.”
Congressional scrutiny and competition aside, many of the CO-OP developers are “people who have hit their head against the wall with the system for 20 or 30 years,” said Richard Miltenberger, a board member of the Montana CO-OP who runs a benefits management consulting firm. And they’re jumping at the opportunity to do something new, something the big insurers with legacy computer systems and contracts aren’t nimble enough to do, he said. “You’re going to see a lot of innovation.”
Written by John Lindt
Our Valley Business
Is there too much milk or not enough? Not enough going to the right market, says Visalia-based California Dairies Inc. CEO Andre Mikhalevsky. “Right now we can process only 60 percent of our members’ milk.” That means 40 percent goes to fluid milk where the profits are not that high with little room for expansion, he says.
Instead,“the best return for our members is to dry the milk and ship it for export,” says Mikhalevsky. “We can make a lot more money.”
Top destination: China, where they need a boat load of baby formula.
Agreeing with this view is CDI board member John Moons who runs a dairy just a few miles west of Highway 99. “With the leadership of Mr. Mikhalevsky, we’re going to take our co-op to the next level.”
Moons says CDI’s goal is to invest in technology to make higher end “spec” powder that lasts longer without refrigeration.
“We have some dryers that have been upgraded to produce these products but we need to do a major upgrade at all our plants,” Moons said.
Besides equipment upgrading to make these long shelf life powders requires unprecedented levels of cleanliness in the production rooms to reduce bacteria levels and slow spoilage.
CDI filed a building plan review heard April 10 with the city of Visalia for two new 100 foot evaporator/dryers and a 10,000-square-foot building that would house a new lab along with a production room. The two new dryers would be added to the 13 dryer units already in place at the 52-acre Visalia plant — already the single largest powdered milk-producing site in North America. The new dryers would handle powder with increased shelf life.
Investment here is already in excess of $250 million.
In a phased expansion, Visalia — the co-op’s newest production facility — is poised to get larger still. Based on what appears to be about a 15 percent expansion in Visalia right away the co-op’s new strategic plan calls for upgrading their Tipton powder/butter plant as well.
The strategic plan, outlined in this months CDI member newsletter, calls for four phases that includes adding enough capacity to process an additional 150 loads of milk a day — adding 7.5 million pounds of milk capacity to the 10 million pounds a day already in place, a 75 percent increase. That would be some four years away.
In the five-to-10 year horizon, the cooperative would look to build a new “greenfield” plant to produce specialty products for the export market, says the newsletter.
Visalia-based Medical Billing Technology (MBT) plans to lay off 48 employees in early June according to a state WARN notice this week. The firm has an office on Caldwell and according to its website, employs 100.
“With Federal and State program changes, it’s necessary for MBT to adjust our business operations so that we can continue to offer our industry leading service to our clients,” states Roberta Stephens, CEO. “MBT has always been focused on our district clients, and that is not going to change. The adjustments we’re making to our service delivery will allow us to be more agile, while still maintaining our dedication to assisting districts to recover valuable reimbursement funds.”
Founded in 1994, MBT helps connect California’s students to health insurance and health services by assisting school districts and other local agencies in accessing important federal reimbursement funds.
Workforce Investment Board (WIB) staffer Sandy Miller says the company did not have to issue the state public notice because the layoffs were less than 50 but doing so helped the employees get WIB agency services.
“We are going to see more of this with all the changes in managed care,” says Miller.
The proposal to build a Dollar General retail store in downtown Lindsay has been withdrawn by the developer. The Embree Asset Group wanted to demolish the Central California Citrus Exchange building on East Hermosa Street and North Mirage but several residents opposed the plan citing the historic nature of the building. No word if the company will try to build elsewhere in town.
Meanwhile there is no letup for Dollar General in Tulare where the company has confirmed they now want to build a second store, says City Planner Bonnie Simoes. With a Dollar General under construction at Prosperity Avenue and J Street,the retailer says they want build another store on the west side of town at Santa Clara Street and Inyo Avenue. Also in Woodlake, the company is underway on construction of new store at 301 W Naranjo Blvd.
In Visalia, the long vacant Copeland Sports store on Mooney is getting a new user, Sheik Shoes is spending $600,000 to do tenant improvements on the 14,000-square-foot building at 1100 S. Mooney Blvd. The building has been empty since early 2007 after the sporting goods chain went bankrupt. The outlet will likely be the biggest shoe store in town.
More former commercial spaces are being occupied by local churches. In Visalia, the former Franey Floor Coverings on Encina Street is being sought by Crossroads Community Church, who received city planning commission approval this week to set up in the building. In Tulare, the former movie theater at Tower Square is being sought by a church represented by TAE. The last use of the space: a paint ball operation.
With no snow Central California ski resorts throw in the towel. It’s April 2013 and its been a duster for the past three months. So it should come as no surprise that Central Sierra ski resorts have closed for the season.
At China Peak management announced that “unfortunately we are closed for the 2012/13 season, unless we receive a significant snowfall (2-3 feet) in April, where we would possibly reopen.
The lack of snow in the first quarter of 2013 is historic, and unfortunately we ran out of snow much earlier than is almost always the case; we are generally open until the end of April, which is our plan for 2013/14!” In Yosemite, Badger Pass closed as of March 31.
Still open for skiing is Bear Valley, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Northstar and Mammoth to name some of the more popular places.
If skiing ends early — let the hiking and tourist buses begin. That’s what is happening in Sequoia /Kings Canyon where the early snowmelt and warm weather has prompted the return of tour buses early this year.
Already tourists can drive the road to Moro Rock and popular Crescent Meadow. I personally hiked up the cross country ski road to Panoramic Point a few weeks ago taking a picnic lunch to enjoy the Great Western Divide view at the top. The road to Cedar Grove at the end of Kings Canyon will open April 26.
Speaking of tourists Three Rivers is expecting a big crowd this weekend for the 40th annual Jazz Affair with 11 bands at four venues — April 12-14. Local Tom Sparks says as New Orleans styled jazz has faded in popularity, the venues remaining to showcase the music are even better attended. This weekend’s event is followed by the popular Lions Rodeo next weekend.
John Lindt is the publisher of Sierra2thesea News Service.
Silver Spring Networks (SSNI), the smart grid networking upstart that has built its business on big contracts with big utilities, announced Monday that it’s setting its sights on the smaller, more scattered municipal and cooperative utility market -- and not just for smart meters, but for entire “smart city” solutions.
The Redwood City, Calif.-based company’s new “cost-effective and ready-to-deploy smart grid offering” for the muni and co-op market starts with networking infrastructure, hardware, head-end software, and professional services for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for electricity, water and gas. The platform can also support Silver Spring’s demand response, distribution automation and other “critical municipal infrastructure applications,” according to Monday’s announcement, which could include a lot more than smart meters and energy-specific networks.
Silver Spring, which broke the industry’s IPO drought with a successful public offering two weeks ago, made its announcement at the Kissimmee, Fla. meeting of the American Public Power Association, a group representing municipal utilities. Along with member-owned rural electric cooperatives, these 3,000 or so small to mid-size, publicly owned utilities represent about 40 million customers across the United States.
The Muni and Co-Op Smart Grid Opportunity
That’s a market worth going after, even if it does represent a different set of challenges than the big, investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric, FPL, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison and Progress Energy that now make up the lion’s share of Silver Spring’s revenues.
Silver Spring has made it clear that it needs to expand its share of revenues that come from ongoing services, whether that be expanding management contracts for big AMI customers, adding more demand response and distribution automation business, or layering on other applications, such as electric vehicle charger management, solar panel monitoring, or home area network (HAN) connectivity, onto its existing networks.
The company does have some big muni customers to prove out its ability to serve smaller utilities’ needs. California’s Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD, is deploying multiple solutions over its Silver Spring AMI network, including distribution automation, and HAN communications. It’s also supporting the city’s “Smart Sacramento” energy efficiency, home energy management and distributed renewable integration project, which got a nod from PowerGrid International as the year’s "Best Smart Grid Project" at January’s DistribuTECH conference in San Diego, Calif.
At the same time, Silver Spring is far from the only one targeting the muni and co-op market. Giants like General Electric, SAIC and Oracle have created smart grid services platforms aimed at smaller utilities, though they’ve had slow going so far in growing their customer rosters. Munis and co-ops are also the targets of partnerships like the AMI-demand response platform on offer from Aclara and Calico Energy, which seek to simplify the deployment and management of multiple smart grid systems for smaller utilities.
GTM Research has pegged U.S. rural cooperative smart grid spending at a cumulative $4.1 billion from 2013 to 2017, or about 10 percent of the country’s cumulative smart grid market over the next five years. As for municipal utilities, which range in size from massive (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Austin Energy, etc.) to tiny, GTM Research projects cumulative smart grid spending of $4.5 billion to $9 billion from now until 2017.
From Smart Grid to Smart City?
One week before its IPO, Silver Spring announced a new project with CPS Energy, San Antonio, Texas’ municipal electric and gas utility, that points to how the company might look to expand beyond traditional smart grid realms and into broader “smart city” functions. As part of San Antonio’s “New Energy Economy” initiative, the Silver Spring partnership includes not only AMI, but “increased energy efficiency, automating energy distribution, and improving grid reliability,” all as part of laying the “groundwork to implement smart energy and Smart City technology across CPS Energy’s service territory.”
San Antonio’s long-range plan includes the idea of networking such disparate devices as streetlights, environmental sensors, traffic signals, parking meters and EV charging stations. Silver Spring CEO Scott Lang echoed some of those concepts in Monday’s muni/co-op platform launch, saying that the company plans to build “future Smart City services such as streetlight control, traffic management, and other municipal infrastructure applications” into its platform.
Silver Spring claims that “this unified networking and software solution provides a much higher endpoint to concentrator ratio, higher levels of reliability, broader geographic coverage, and is more cost-effective than existing Smart City solutions.” A statement like this calls into question what the company is comparing itself to, of course. “Smart city” technologies, such as they are, are limited to the pilot scale at present, even if those pilots are pretty big affairs such as South Korea’s Songdo project, or the smart city collaborations underway by such players as IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Intel in showcases around the world.
They’re also supported by a dizzying array of communications and networking architectures, of which the local wireless connectivity type that Silver Spring provides via its AMI networks would appear to be only one of many options. Silver Spring has built its networks on IPv6, the latest version of Internet Protocol, which could simplify its integration into the broader move to machine-to-machine communications via IPv6 networks.
Of course, Silver Spring and other AMI mesh networking vendors with 900-megahertz mesh networks deployed throughout most of the United States haven't had a standard for the physical communications (i.e., radios) in their devices, which provides a challenge to IP interoperability. Cisco, the IP-for-smart-grid champion that’s working with vendors including Itron and Alstom, has made much of this point in positioning its own IPv6-compliant mesh networking technology as a more viable future alternative.
At the same time, Silver Spring and its its competitors have been working with IEE on the 802.15.4g standard for interoperability in the 900-megahertz space, and have shown interoperability via a pan-industry partnership called the Wi-Sun Alliance (which includes Cisco). At the same time, they've been integrating across different communications technologies, from ZigBee low-power wireless networks for home area networks (HAN) to 3G and 4G cellular for regional, point-to-multipoint coverage.
While Silver Spring has almost exclusively worked in the electric side of the utility industry, Monday’s announcement notes that it also supports water and natural gas meters via its AMI networking platforms -- an important addition in competing with coequals such as as Itron, Elster, Sensus and Landis+Gyr that also network water and gas meters in different combinations.
By Berenice Quirino -- Staff reporter
CLEARLAKE -- Since its inception in 2008, a dozen Lake Co-op drop points have sprouted throughout the county.
Lake Co-op Consulting Operation Manager JoAnn Saccato spoke to the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club at its regular spot, the Main Street Bar and Grill, located at 14084 Lakeshore Dr.
The group meets weekly at 7 a.m. and invites community members to speak on a variety of topics.
The Lake Co-op, originally the Lake County Community Co-op, provides local, organically grown produce to Lake County residents.
It is open to the public, and people are able to purchase goods via online and telephone orders Sunday through Tuesday, and can pick them up at locations known as drop points Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
"All communities can be served on lake with online model," Saccato said.
A feasibility study conducted by the California Center for Cooperative Development (CCCD) in 2010 showed a brick and motor storefront was not an optimal choice to sell the produce; instead, the co-op strengthened their online store.
"The sign of a successful organization is one that can adapt to shifting in changing times," Saccato said.
The mission of the co-op is to provide high-quality, affordable foods and products in conjunction with promoting health awareness economic, educational, recreational, health and cultural welfare of its owners, according to its website.
The co-op moved its operations from Clearlake to Lakeport at the new Lake Works Community Spaces in February.
"We do feel the loss of the people of the Clearlake," Saccoto said in regards to the move. "They are the ones who started it." However, she said the Lakeport station, located at 307 N. Main St., was a more economically viable location.
Saccato also mentioned talks about collaborating with the newly opened Lake County Time Bank in Lakeport. Participants bank hours in exchange for other services free-of-cost. Saccato said time bank and co-op members are currently figuring out the best way to join forces.
The Lake Co-op is also seeking board members.
To find out more, visit www.lake.coop or call 513-5226.
Berenice Quirino is a staff reporter for Lake County Publishing. She can be reached at 263-5636, ext. 36 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday, March 13th, the membership of Calgary Co-op voted in favour of eliminating caged eggs and pork in their 24 stores located in Calgary and region. Calgary Co-op boasts a membership of 440,000, making it one of the largest cooperatives in North America.
The successful vote, held right here in Cowtown, the heart of Stampede country, is a forceful statement on farm animal welfare, compassionate approaches to agriculture, sustainable food systems and a strong message to an industry floundering in horrific cruelty.
The vote itself was democratic and the debate on Co-op member Clint Robertson's initiated motion was open. The Parliamentarian, a former member of the PPCLI, kept the speaker's list flowing, allowing all Co-op members an opportunity to speak.
A number of members spoke in favour of the motion, including myself [full disclosure]. Then, out of nowhere, a steady stream of industry lobbyists began to attack the motion. They are a tone deaf lot, not understanding that Co-op members no longer wanted to tolerate the cruel and unethical conditions that these farm animals suffer. Their argument was too little, too callous, too shallow, too cruel, too late. As it stands, their industry is in a race to the bottom. Calgary Co-op members see our agricultural system as a pursuit of quality.
Their industry has been talking about ethical changes to caging and self regulation for decades with no action or results and an actual increase in caging systems. They like to use the oxymoronic term, enriched cages, to dupe the public. They like to deceive the public with the mantra of increased costs, when in fact their infrastructure costs will decrease along with equipment and equipment maintenance costs. Lower overhead and offsets can assist farmers with increasing their margins.
The farmers are not well served by their lobbyists. The idea that the status quo must be maintained, whatever the cost or accompanying evil, is no longer resonating with the consumer. Unlike the message the lobbyists and producer associations brainwash their farmers with, farmers are not prison guards of caged animals. Farmers are a key component of a complex food system that needs to respond to consumer demand, and in the case of the Calgary Co-op, that translates to the elimination of cruelty and substantially increased compassion.
More frightening, is an appalling and eerie sense of entitlement from these detached lobbyists. You get a sense they believe their own propaganda. The insanity of a distorted food system has trapped them in their own lies. They truly believe, as if conditioned, that they are the ordained farmers, the only ones capable of raising farm animals. They exist unaware of the recent and not so recent developments in agriculture and consumers' increased awareness of the horrors of modern agriculture. It is as if they exist in a time warp where there is no google, youtube, twitter and hidden cameras. They seemingly have no knowledge of sustainable agriculture, cruelty free farming, local food systems, compassionate agriculture, free run, free range, cage free, the list goes on, all foreign terms to this band of detached, delusional, quasi defenders of farm animals. A shameless fox in charge of the vulnerable hen house, and the public is fully on to them. In a big way.
When the notion of uncaged farm animals who are allowed to exercise natural behaviours, actually see the sun, walk in a field, interact with others of their species -- in essence live within the span of their short existence -- is opposed by industry, you begin to not just have a glimpse, but a full realization of how heartless, cruel and broken the agricultural system has become.
In the end, the Calgary Co-op membership approved the motion and the hens, pigs and consumers won one for a change. The question now is, will other Canadian retailers act on the leadership of the Calgary Co-op members and commit to eliminating products associated with cruelty from their supply chain?
Postscript: The Calgary Co-op has annual sales of over $1 Billion/year. This is the largest Canadian general food & services retailer to ban intensively caged eggs & pork.
By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer
Scammers are targeting members of some electric cooperatives in Kansas, making fake disconnection threats to get phone payments.
Some Kansas co-ops are warning members about scams involving credit and debit cards.
“We’ve had, since mid-January, several businesses in Hays that have been contacted by an individual over the phone who says that he will terminate their electricity between 30 minutes and one hour from now unless they make a payment over the phone via credit card,” said Mike Morley, communications manager at Hays-based Midwest Energy.
The caller left a phone number with a California area code, and Morley said that an Internet search revealed numerous complaints about calls from the number.
On Feb. 22, The Fort Morgan Times in Colorado reported that the city-owned utility was warning its customers after one received a call from that number, demanding immediate credit card payment. The paper also reported that customers of investor-owned Xcel Energy were being targeted.
In the Midwest Energy cases, two of the three business owners contacted already had bank drafts set up to pay their electric bills, “so they thought it was odd their bills had not been paid,” Morley told ECT.coop. “They called us and, of course, their accounts were current.”
“We don’t terminate service over the phone, and we would never call and demand payment by credit card,” Morley said. The co-op notified businesses through the chamber of commerce, and is also getting the word out through Facebook, newsletter articles and other methods.
Meanwhile, about 100 miles to the south, some members of Dodge City-based Victory Electric Cooperative have been experiencing problems of their own with scammers.
Josh Schmidt, manager of member services, said Hispanic members were the primary targets of these callers. “They would give them an amount, and say, ‘You owe $250 and if you don’t pay within an hour we’re going to shut you off,’” Schmidt said.
“What they were trying to talk people into doing was going down to the local Walgreens and picking up what they call a MoneyPak card, and putting that money on there,” Schmidt said.
Targeted members were given an out-of-state number to call when they had the card. Once they would call back with the card number, Schmidt said “they would just drain the card.”
To get the word out, Victory Electric got a local TV station to report the story on its newscasts. It also emailed warnings to local businesses and used radio, Facebook and bill stuffers.
“We tried to use every outlet that we had,” Schmidt said.
About a dozen Victory Electric members were targeted, though Schmidt said things have quieted down in the last month.
Both Victory Electric and Midwest Energy encouraged affected members to file police reports.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- SeeChange Health, a leader in value-based health benefit solutions, is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with the Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative (the CO-OP). This partnership, a first for SeeChange Health under the Affordable Care Act, gives Colorado residents increased options for benefit access and affordability, and encourages consumers to take a more active role in their health.
"SeeChange Health is committed to empowering consumers in their health decisions, which aligns with the mission of the Colorado CO-OP," said Martin Watson, CEO of SeeChange Health. "We are pleased to provide Colorado consumers a new, proven approach that encourages and rewards individuals for taking better care of their own health."
SeeChange Health will provide the CO-OP its administrative services and value-based benefit platform. The CO-OP will offer its small group and individual products through Connect on Health Colorado, the state health benefit exchange, and directly to consumers through brokers. The products will be offered in October 2013 for effective dates in January 2014.
"Through this partnership, we seek to improve the health of our members and reduce health care costs, as well as to provide Coloradoans more choices in their health benefits," Julia Hutchins, CEO of the CO-OP. "We have a highly-selective review process for potential partners and we are confident that working with SeeChange Health will help connect Colorado communities to better health management options."
Recently identified as one of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company, SeeChange Health expects to continue to expand its proprietary health engagement platform to CO-OPs, health-insurers, third-party administrators and employers. Additionally, SeeChange Health's Insurance division launched in Colorado in 2012, becoming the first health plan to only offer value-based benefit plans to small and mid-sized employers. This followed a successful statewide launch in California in fall 2011. SeeChange Health is planning to expand into additional states over the next few years.
SeeChange Health's customer base has increased from 400,000 members in 2011 to greater than 1.1 million in 2012. The membership growth has translated to revenue increases from $7.6 million in 2011 to $50.2 million in 2012.
About SeeChange Health
SeeChange Health delivers plans, technology and services aimed at creating better health and quality of life for employees, increasing workforce productivity, and lowering health care costs by encouraging individuals to play an active role in managing their health to prevent, detect and treat serious health conditions. SeeChange Health Insurance provides value-based benefit plans to fully insured employer groups in California and Colorado. SeeChange Health Solutions provides a completely customizable consumer engagement and health incentive technology platform to employers, health plans and third party administrators delivering the cost-controlling advantages of value-based benefit plans. For more information, visit www.SeeChangeHealth.com.
About the Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative (the CO-OP)
The Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative (the CO-OP) is a consumer governed and operated, nonprofit insurance company that aims to offer affordable, high-quality health coverage to individuals and small businesses. Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational and Charitable Foundation, the CO-OP's health plans will be sold through Connect for Health Colorado (the Exchange) and independent insurance brokers and agents in 2013. Our plans will go into effect in 2014.
The CO-OP was established in 2012 through a $69 million line of credit awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What sets the CO-OP apart from existing health insurers is its structure. CO-OP members will ultimately be responsible for its operations and growth. Any surplus dollars the CO-OP earns will be returned to members through reduced premiums, increased benefits, or quality improvements.
Contact: Susan Cotton818-824-9164Email
This press release was issued through eReleases� Press Release Distribution. For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com.
SOURCE SeeChange Health
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