Tuesday, February 06, 2007

State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth Will Help Growers

He's my man!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Last modified Wednesday, January 31, 2007 5:26 AM PST

State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth listens to Larry Saunders of Saunders Ranch in Fallbrook as Saunders talks about his problems collecting on insurance claims related to crop damage.

DAVID CARLSON Staff Photographer


State senator aims to help growers

By: NICOLE SACK - Staff Writer

TEMECULA -- State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth introduced legislation Tuesday to "soften the blow" of January's cold snap that hit growers statewide and caused more than $1 billion worth of damage to California crops.

Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, has introduced three bills offering tax breaks for California farmers who suffered crop loss as well as those facing long-term recovery to damaged groves and nurseries.

"The growers in San Diego and Riverside counties that I represent, as well as farmers in more than 20 other counties around the state, have suffered tremendous damage from this freeze," Hollingsworth said in a press conference at the Calavo avocado packing house in Temecula. "Their losses will be in the millions and could last for years."

While the official numbers are yet to be released, representatives from the California Farm Bureau Federation estimate the statewide damage to crops to be $1.1 billion. Steve Pastor, executive director for Riverside County Farm Bureau, said more than $86 million of damage was done to this county's crops alone.

"This disastrous freeze wiped out crops overnight," Pastor said. "These measures are going to be good to help farmers get back on their feet."

The first bill introduced by Hollingsworth, SB 148, would provide a property tax exemption for fruit and nut trees severely damaged by the cold. The exemptions would be available to farmers for the next four years. The trees, although mature, would not be assessed at full value while they recover from the freeze.

Carlos Vasquez, field operations manager for Calavo, said it will take about two years for damaged avocado trees to again produce fruit. But during that time, farmers must maintain the groves.

"These growers will have no income coming in, but will still be incurring costs," Vasquez said. "The effects of this freeze will carry through the year."

The second bill, SB 149, would offer a sales tax exemption for materials farmers used to fight the cold snap, such as natural gas, gasoline and other fuels used to warm groves, orchards and greenhouses.

The successive nights of low temperatures, which dipped into the 20s from Jan. 12 to 16, took a severe toll on citrus fruit. While there have been widespread losses, the California Farm Bureau Federation reported frost-protection measures taken by farmers did succeed to some degree.

To make the tax breaks more timely, Hollingsworth is also pushing a third bill, SB 114, that would allow farmers to deduct losses against their prior year's income, as well as carry operating losses forward for five years.

The trio of bills has been introduced in the state Senate. No further action has been taken as the official language of the bills is being reviewed by the rules committee.

Hollingsworth hopes to fast-track the measures. The property tax relief bill would have to be approved prior to property assessments, which could delay the tax breaks if the Legislature drags its feet. Once approved, the freeze relief would be effective for four years, said Hollingsworth spokeswoman Erica Holloway. The exemptions would be on the 2007 tax rolls, she said.

While Hollingsworth's initiatives were welcomed, area growers asked if more immediate relief could be offered.

Larry Saunders, a Fallbrook avocado grower, said he wants the state to help expedite Federal Crop Insurance reimbursements, which he says generally take one year to be paid out.

"The losses are known; our premiums are paid. I know that the federal government subsidizes our insurance, but my loss is my loss," Saunders said. "It is not in the benefit of the farmer to have to wait a year to get some help."

Avocados have begun to drop from trees as a result of freeze damage to the fruit stems, what growers call "chill drop." Freezing temperatures weaken the stems and cause fruit to drop from the trees prematurely. The freeze could also harm buds for next season's avocado crop, Vasquez said.

The damage is also visible, said Chuck Bandy, avocado division manager for McMillan Farm Management.

"It looks like a flame thrower was taken to these trees," Bandy said. "Soon the trees will look like skeletons. They will regrow, but won't produce for two years. Growers are going to need assistance to make it through the next few years."

-- Contact staff writer Nicole Sack (951) 676-4315, Ext. 2616, or nsack@californian.com.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

'Little Caesars' Franchised Veterans Program

Pizza chain targets vets
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT - Just in time for Veterans Day, Mike Ilitch, Little Caesars founder, plans to launch a program that would make it easier for American veterans to open their own pizza businesses.

The Little Caesars Veterans Program offers a reduction on the franchise fee, credit on the first equipment order and financing. The offer is even better for disabled veterans, who would have the entire $20,000 franchise fee waived for their first store.

Honorably discharged veterans will receive up to $10,000 in benefits toward starting a new Little Caesars franchise. Service-disabled veterans are eligible for up to $68,000 for starting a franchise. A typical Little Caesars store costs $175,000 to $300,000 to build and equip, said David Scrivano, Little Caesars president.

The Detroit-based Little Caesar Enterprises Inc. plans to announce the program on Saturday, which is Veterans Day. It is the company's way of providing business opportunities for veterans who are making the transition to civilian life.

Huge settlement unearthed near Stonehenge

Hugh Settlement unearthed near Stonehenge.

Jan. 30, 2007

Courtesy National Geographic

and World Science staff

Ex­ca­va­tions near Eng­land’s vast Stone­henge rock mon­u­ment have re­vealed an enor­mous an­cient set­tle­ment that once housed hun­dreds, ar­chae­o­lo­gists said Tue­day. They say the hous­es were prob­ab­ly con­structed and oc­cu­pied by the builders of near­by Stone­henge—the leg­end­ary, mys­ter­ious circle of mas­sive stones on Eng­land’s Salis­bury Plain.

The Sun shin­ing through the Stone­henge mon­u­ment. Sun­rise and sun­set on the sum­mer and win­ter sol­stices—the long­est and short­est days of the year res­pect­ively—were the key times when the Sun would shine through the mon­u­ment. (Cour­te­sy centennialofflight.gov)


“The whole val­ley ap­pears full of hous­es,” said ar­chae­o­lo­gist Mike Par­ker Pear­son of the U.K.’s Shef­field Uni­ver­si­ty. “In what were hous­es, we have ex­ca­vat­ed the out­lines on the floors of box beds and wood­en dressers or cup­boards.”

The hous­es were dat­ed to 2600-2500 B.C., the same pe­ri­od Stone­henge rose—one rea­son the re­search­ers con­cluded the occu­pants erec­ted Stone­henge. The homes would form the larg­est Neo­lithic, or late-Stone Age, vil­lage ev­er found in Brit­ain; a few si­m­i­lar Ne­o­lith­ic hous­es have been found in the Ork­ney Is­lands off Scot­land.

Par­ker Pear­son said the dis­cov­er­ies help con­firm a the­o­ry that Stone­henge didn’t stand alone but was part of a much larg­er re­li­gious com­plex used for fu­ner­ary rit­u­al. The set­tle­ment was found at Dur­ring­ton Walls, a part of this com­plex that is some 1,400 feet across and en­closes a se­ries of con­cen­tric rings of huge tim­ber posts, he said. On­ly small ar­eas of Dur­ring­ton Walls, lo­cat­ed less than two miles from better-known Stone­henge, have been in­ves­t­i­gated by ar­chae­o­lo­gists.

Par­ker Pear­son ar­gues that Stone­henge and Dur­ring­ton Walls were in­ti­mate­ly con­nect­ed: Dur­ring­ton’s pur­pose was to cel­e­brate life and de­pos­it the dead in the riv­er for trans­port to the af­ter­life, while Stone­henge was a me­mo­ri­al and even fi­nal rest­ing place for some of the dead.

Stone­henge’s av­e­nue, dis­cov­ered in the 18th cen­tu­ry, is aligned on the mid­sum­mer sol­stice sun­rise, while the Dur­ring­ton av­e­nue lines up with mid­sum­mer sol­stice sun­set. Sim­i­lar­ly, the Dur­ring­ton tim­ber cir­cle was aligned with mid­win­ter sol­stice sun­rise, arch­aeo­lo­gists said, while Stone­henge’s gi­ant tri­lith­on—a struc­ture of three stones—framed the mid­win­ter sol­stice sun­set.

Eight of the hous­es’ re­mains were ex­ca­vat­ed in Sep­tem­ber in the Stone­henge Riv­er­side Proj­ect, led by Par­ker Pear­son and five oth­er U.K. ar­chae­o­lo­gists. Six of the floors were found well-pre­served. Each house once meas­ured about 16 feet square and had a clay floor and cen­tral hearth. The team found 4,600-year-old de­bris strewn across floors, post­holes and slots that once an­chored wood­en fur­ni­ture, long since dis­in­te­grat­ed.

Dur­ring­ton, Par­ker Pear­son be­lieves, drew peo­ple from all over the re­gion. They came for mas­sive mid­win­ter feasts, where pro­di­gious quan­ti­ties of food were con­sumed. Abun­dant an­i­mal bones and pot­tery, in quan­ti­ties un­par­al­leled else­where in Brit­ain at the time, at­test to this idea, he said.

Af­ter feast­ing, Par­ker Pear­son the­o­rizes, the peo­ple trav­eled down the av­e­nue to de­pos­it their dead in the Riv­er Avon flow­ing to­wards Stone­henge. They then moved along Stone­henge Av­e­nue to the mon­u­ment, where they would cre­mate and bury a se­lected few of their dead. Stone­henge was a place for these peo­ple, who wor­shipped their an­ces­tors, to com­mune with the spir­its of those who had died, the re­search­ers pro­posed.

Dur­ring­ton ap­pears “very much a place of the liv­ing,” said Par­ker Pear­son. In con­trast, no one ev­er lived at the stone cir­cle at Stone­henge, which was the larg­est cem­e­tery in Brit­ain of its time: Stone­henge is thought to con­tain 250 cre­ma­tions. The find­ings of the new re­search, fund­ed by the Na­tion­al Geo­graphic So­ciety, were an­nounced in a te­le­con­f­er­ence on Tues­day.

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