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Ouch – we're paying 40 cents more per gal than last year

January 18, 2011 Areawide, Business No Comments

gas-pumpAverage retail gasoline prices in Connecticut have risen 2.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.29/g as of Jan. 16, 2011.

Connecticut’s increase is considerably lower than the national average increase of 9 cents per gallon in the last week.

But our at-the-pump prices on average are much higher than the national average of $3.07/g, according to ConnecticutGasPrices.com.

In Bozeman, Montana, they’re complaining about gas prices almost reaching $3. According to NBC Montana.com, the Rocky Mountain states are enjoying the lowest prices at the pump in the country. Utah, Colorado and Wyoming drivers have it best, their story states.

Some other (random) comparisons from GasBuddy.com:

  • in Londonderry, New Hampshire, prices ranged from $3.03 to $3.15 as of Jan. 17
  • in Hicksville, NY (really!) regular gas was $2.83 a gallon as of Jan. 16.
  • in Dover, Delaware, the range was $3.08 to $3.13 as of Jan. 17
  • in Veneta, Oregon gas prices ranged from $3.15 to $3.29 as of Jan. 17
  • in Phoenix, Arizona, the range was $2.85 to $2.99 as of Jan. 17

For Connecticut, gas prices are now 8.1 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and 40.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago, Jan. 17 2010.

The national average has increased 10.4 cents per gallon during the last month, and is 33.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

At the pump in HTNP.com areas

In the Willimantic area, gas prices ranged from $3.23 to $3.29 as of Sunday, Jan. 16.

In East Hampton, gas was $3.19 at Food Bag, as of Jan. 17.

In Coventry, prices ranged from $3.19 to $3.25

There were no gas prices available online for Columbia, Hebron, Mansfield/Storrs, East Haddam or Moodus, or Willington.

Volunteers are invited to submit their local gas prices at http://www.connecticutgasprices.com

Below, gas prices have had quite a roller coaster ride, but the general direction seems to be up. This graph tracking weekly automobile gas prices is from U.S. Energy Information Administration.

From U.S. Energy Information Administration

From U.S. Energy Information Administration

Posted Jan. 18, 2011

Related links: “Gas prices nearing $3.00 across the state,” http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/26521700/detail.html

US Energy Information Administration – weekly gas prices and a history of gas prices from 1993 to present http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm

U.S. Department of Energy re: gas and oil prices http://www.energy.gov/pricestrends/index.htm

IRS changes 2011 filing date thanks to Emancipation Day

January 15, 2011 Areawide, Business No Comments

IRS LOGO-HTNPYou may not be familiar with the holiday, but because it falls on Friday, April 15 this year, we procrastinators have a few extra days to file our 2010 tax returns.

Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service announced that in 2011, taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file tax returns because of Emancipation Day, which is celebrated in the District of Columbia (and elsewhere in the U.S.).

Did you know that by law, District of Columbia holidays affect tax deadlines the same way that federal holidays do?

So, taxpayers will have a little more time to file this year.

And if you request an extension to file, you will have until Oct. 17, 2011 to file.

The IRS expects to receive more than 140 million individual tax returns this year, with most of those filed by the April 18 deadline.

Have you tried e-file?

The IRS also continues to encourage taxpayers to use e-file as “the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.”

Recently, the IRS also reminded taxpayers that this year, it is no longer mailing tax forms. And in December 2010, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services made the same decision.

According to the CT Department of Revenue Service, this last filing season only 8 percent of individual returns were from the booklets that were mailed. In other words, only 125,000 of the 1.6 million returns came from the mailed booklets.

Of those 1.6 million, 1.2 million filed their taxes online. The others used forms they downloaded or picked up at the library, town hall or other locations.

Are you a tax preparer?

The IRS also reminds tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year that they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

Tax return preparers should register immediately using the new PTIN sign-up system available through www.IRS.gov/taxpros.

Who must wait to file?

With some exceptions, the IRS began accepting e-file and Free File returns Friday (Jan. 14, 2011).

Some taxpayers, however, will have to hold off submitting their return because of tax law changes made only weeks ago.

Tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December 2010 mean some people need to wait until mid- to late February to file their tax returns, in order to give the IRS time to reprogram its processing systems.

Some taxpayers – including those who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A – will need to wait (whether you’re filing online or sending the paperwork in the mail).

This includes taxpayers affected by any of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, 2010.

Those who need to wait to file until late February include:

  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses, as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction that was also extended and which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students – covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution – is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit extended last month and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23 and Form 1040A, Line 16.

Unemployment and Job Creation

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act also extend those deductions for 2011 and a number of other tax deductions and credits for 2011 and 2012 such as:

  • the American Opportunity Tax Credit and
  • the modified Child Tax Credit, which help families pay for college and other child-related expenses.

The Act also provides various job creation and investment incentives including 100 percent expensing and a two-percent payroll tax reduction for 2011. However, those changes have no effect on when to file.

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns affected by the recent tax law changes. (Look for updates at www.IRS.gov )

In the meantime, the IRS says, there’s no reason why you cannot get those returns ready. Just don’t send them, yet.

Get help filing your tax forms

Taxpayers with questions can look for answers on the IRS website at www.IRS.gov, call the toll-free number or visit a taxpayer assistance center.

If your income is $49,000 or less, you probably can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for free tax preparation and, in many cases, free electronic filing.

Individuals age 60 and older can take advantage of free tax counseling and basic income tax preparation through Tax Counseling for the Elderly (check with your senior center or local social services office).

IRS Free File provides options for free brand-name tax software or forms that can be completed online, plus free electronic filing.

Everyone can use Free File to prepare a federal tax return. There’s no income limit for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, which also includes free e-filing.

Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can choose from approximately 20 commercial software providers.

Check for a refund

You can track the status of your refund by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool, located on the front page of www.IRS.gov.

Taxpayers can generally get information about their refunds 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of their e-filed returns, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return.

Taxpayers need to provide the following information from their tax returns: Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your anticipated refund.

If the U.S. Postal Service returns the taxpayer’s refund to the IRS, the individual may be able to use “Where’s My Refund?” online to change the address the IRS has on file.

Also, taxpayers may complete a Form 8822, Change of Address, and send it to the address shown on the form. You can download Form 8822 from www.IRS.gov or order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM.

Generally, taxpayers whose refunds somehow got lost in the shuffle can file an online claim for a replacement check, if more than 28 days have passed since the IRS confirms it was mailed.

Oh, and if you happen to have an overseas account, the IRS cautions you to report that information in an honest and timely fashion. “The IRS has made important strides at stopping tax avoidance using offshore accounts,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.

Posted Jan. 15, 2011

How should employers provide time, privacy for nursing mothers?

January 2, 2011 Areawide, Business No Comments
This breastfeeding scarf is one way for nursing mothers to be discreet in public. New laws will allow nursing mothers, whose babies are at home, to express breast milk in privacy at work. Photo courtesy of jellybabys.co.uk

This breastfeeding scarf is one way for nursing mothers to be discreet in public. New laws will allow nursing mothers, whose babies are at home, to express breast milk in privacy at work. Photo courtesy of jellybabys.co.uk

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is requesting public comments on its preliminary interpretations of a new provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that requires employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time and a private space for expressing breast milk while at work.

The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for administering and enforcing a number of federal labor laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The act’s nursing mothers provision requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child, for one year after the child’s birth, each time such employee has need to express the milk.

Employers also are required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

This new provision — the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law — became law when the Affordable Care Act was signed by the President in March 2010.

The provision responds to a reality that many women face when they return to work after having a baby.

“Many women who want to continue breastfeeding their children simply can’t because they do not have the necessary accommodations to do it,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.

“What the department is seeking to do is to develop guidance for employers that will assist them in complying with this new law and that will support women who choose to continue nursing once they return to work. And with input from the public — including working mothers and employers — we’ll be successful in doing that,” Solis said.

The department will accept public comments in response to a request for information  up until Feb. 22, 2011 — via http://www.regulations.gov

Web site for nursing mothers

In order to increase awareness of the new law, and provide the public with access to additional resources related to workplace lactation programs, the department has launched a Web page at http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers

Employers and employees are encouraged to visit the site.

It provides general information and guidance that has been issued by the department on the new break-time requirements for nursing mothers in the workplace, as well as a compilation of resources that employers, employees and other interested stakeholders might find useful as they develop workplace lactation programs.

Many employers already have successfully implemented lactation programs using these and similar resources

For information on federal laws concerning wage and hour issues, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

Posted Jan. 2, 2011

Photo from – http://www.jellybabys.co.uk/breastfeeding-scarf-mamascarf.html

With the New Year come some new laws in Connecticut

January 1, 2011 Areawide, Business No Comments
Pickles are among the "acidified" foods that small farms can produce and sell without government inspection under a new law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.

Pickles are among the "acidified" foods that small farms can produce and sell without government inspection under a new law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.

The Legislature passed 19 new laws that go into full or partial effect on Jan. 1, 2011. Here are a few highlights (a complete list of new laws and other legislative information can be found by visiting www.cga.ct.gov)

Motorcycles

PA 2010-153 An Act Requiring Motorcycle Training Prior to the Issuance of a Motorcycle Endorsement requires all applicants for a motorcycle license endorsement, rather than just those under age 18, to have completed a novice motorcycle training course.

By law, the course must be conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or an organization that has developed a curriculum approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Under this act, if DOT conducts the course, it must do so with federal funds, so as not to add to state expenses.

The act also eliminates the DMV commissioner’s authority to waive the on-road skills portion of license examination for an applicant who presents evidence of passing a motorcycle training course or has held a license or endorsement in other states requiring a similar test or course.

Insurance for chemo

PA 2010-063 An Act Concerning Oral Chemotherapy Treatments requires insurance policies that cover both intravenously and orally administered anticancer medications to provide equal coverage for the orally administered medication as for the intravenously administered medication.

It also prohibits insurers, HMOs, medical and hospital service corporations, and fraternal benefit societies from reclassifying anticancer medications or increasing the patient’s out-of-pocket costs for the medications as a way to comply.

Good news for farmers markets

PA 2010-103 An Act Concerning Farms, Food and Jobs allows for the preparation and sale of acidified foods on residential farms under certain conditions.

Existing law allows the sale of jams, jellies, or preserves on a residential farm if they were prepared with fruit grown on the farm and in a room on the farm that is used as living quarters (i.e. the family kitchen). It exempts their preparation from any state or local agency inspection.

The existing law also requires each jam, jelly, or preserves container offered for sale on the farm to have on its label, in 10-point type: “Not prepared in a government inspected kitchen.”

The new act adds “acidified foods” to this exemption and labeling requirement, allowing farmers to produce additional local goods.

The act defines “acidified food product” as a food item with a pH value of 4.6 or less upon completion of the recipe, and includes products such as pickles, salsa and hot sauce. And the act redefines jam, jelly, and preserves to include products made with vegetables.

Those pesky telemarketers

PA 2010-052 An Act Increasing Penalties for Violations of the No Sales Solicitations Calls Act adds a penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation of the law prohibiting solicitors from making unsolicited telephone calls to people who have registered on the state’s “Do Not Call” registry. Under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, this law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices.

Contributed by  State Sen. Tony Guglielmo 300 Capitol Ave., Legislative Office Building – Room 3400, Hartford, CT 06106

“Feedback from constituents plays an important role in developing effective legislation. As legislators, we rely on you to bring important matters to our attention. I encourage you to contact me with any questions, concerns or feedback you have regarding state government. Please feel free to contact me at 800.842.1421 or at Tony.Guglielmo@cga.ct.gov ”

Posted Jan. 1, 2011

Bright idea – electric rates to drop in January 2011 says DPUC

December 29, 2010 Areawide, Business No Comments

electric-boltYou may see a $10 drop in your monthly electric bill beginning this New Year, according to an announcement made today (Dec. 29) by the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC).

This announcement comes on the heels of a sharp increase in the number of Connecticut residents and business owners choosing to buy their electricity from alternative companies.

DPUC Chair Kevin M. DelGobbo says that 2010 saw “a significant migration of customers to competitive electric suppliers.”

Those choosing competitive suppliers grew from 18 percent to 36 percent, he says, the equivalent of more than 500,000 residential and business customers.

“Customers that have made the switch to competitive suppliers have realized additional savings over standard service rates for CL&P and UI.  The DPUC estimates that the competitive supplier market resulted in more than $200 million in reduced rates for those customers in 2010,” DelGobbo said.

To see what competitive suppliers are currently offering to Connecticut customers, look for “Choose an Electric Supplier” at  www.ctenergyinfo.com

For those who have not changed suppliers, DelGobbo said the DPUC has approved lower standard service electric rates for both Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P) and the United Illuminating Company (UI).

DelGobbo says that effective Jan. 1, 2011 residential customers of CL&P can expect an overall reduction of 7.8 percent. This means a savings of approximately $10.41 a month for a residential customer who normally uses 700 kWhs a month.

For UI customers, the rate drops 1.5 percent. This means a savings of approximately $2.51 a month for a residential customer who normally uses 700 kWhs a month.

DelGobbo notes that rates have been dropping since January of 2009.

He says that a CL&P residential customer with monthly consumption of 700 kWhs in 2009 paid approximately $141.89 per month.  That cost per month decreased to approximately $134.27 in January of 2010.  With the approved rate changes, effective January 2011, the cost per month will further decrease to approximately $123.85, a 13.7 percent decline from 2009 rates.

And a UI residential customer with monthly consumption of 700 kWhs in 2009 paid approximately $167.42 per month.  That cost per month remained the same in January of 2010.  With the approved rate changes, effective January 2011, the cost per month will decrease to approximately $164.94.

Posted Dec. 29, 2010

Editor’s note: I switched to a competitive supplier this past year and have saved between $10 and $20 a month. Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it in the comment section following this story.

U.S. Census Bureau releases 5-year American Community Survey results

December 14, 2010 Areawide, Business No Comments
U.S. Census Bureau Housing Value Map based on American Community Survey

U.S. Census Bureau Housing Value Map based on American Community Survey

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) estimates for the first time, making available social, economic, housing and demographic statistics for every community in the nation.

Until now, small geographic areas had to rely on outdated 2000 Census figures for detailed information about the characteristics of their communities.

Public officials, including mayors and governors, and private organizations such as chambers of commerce, rely on ACS estimates on education, housing, jobs, veteran status and commuting patterns to help them make informed decisions that will affect their community, such as where to build new schools, hospitals and emergency services.

Before the ACS, estimates about characteristics were only produced once every 10 years through tabulations of responses to the decennial census “long form” sent to a subset of the nation’s addresses.

Those estimates required two years to tabulate and provided an increasingly outdated picture of the country. By the end of any given decade, decision- and policy makers have often had to rely on 10-year-old data.

Consisting of about 11.1 billion individual estimates and covering more than 670,000 distinct geographies, the 5-year ACS estimates give even the smallest communities more timely information on topics ranging from work commute times to languages spoken at home to housing values.

“The ACS represents the first time such a massive compilation of data estimates for small geographic areas is available,” said U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

The data released this week are based on a rolling annual sample survey mailed to about 3 million addresses between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2009. By pooling several years of survey responses, the ACS can generate detailed statistical portraits of smaller geographies.

The U.S. Census Bureau will release a new set of 5-year estimates every year, giving these communities a powerful tool to track local trends over time.

The new 2005-2009 ACS estimates are not related to the 2010 Census population counts that will be released Dec. 21, 2010.

The ACS complements the decennial count and provides estimates of population characteristics that are far more detailed than the basic information that will be released from the 2010 Census, which will be available to the public starting in February.

As a complete count of the population, the 2010 Census data are critical for knowing how many people live in the United States, where they live and their basic demographic information such as race, sex and Hispanic origin.

The ACS estimates, on the other hand, are based on a sample survey of the nation and are intended to describe the characteristics of the U.S. population, not to provide population counts.

ACS 5-year estimates on 72 topics can be downloaded for more than 670,000 geographic areas, including states, counties, cities, tribal areas and more.

See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/data_documentation/2009_release/GeographiesbyDataProduct2005_2009_5Year.xls

As an illustration of the kinds of information provided in these new ACS 5-year estimates, below are some examples of available statistics derived from the tables at the county level.

Poverty

–  Maps: http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2009_acs_maps/

–  Data: http://factfinder.census.gov

The county-level poverty rate for individuals ranged from less than 4 percent to more than 40 percent.

In 19 counties or county equivalents, the poverty rate was below 5 percent. These included five counties or independent cities in Virginia, three counties in New Jersey, two in Colorado and Wisconsin, and one in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio and South Dakota.

In 21 counties, more than one-in-three individuals were living in poverty.

Of the five counties with poverty rates greater than 39 percent, four contain or are contained within American Indian reservations: Sioux County, N.D., which is contained within the Standing Rock Indian Reservation; Buffalo County, S.D., which contains the Crow Creek Indian Reservation; Shannon County, S.D., which is contained within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; and Todd County, S.D., which is contained within the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

The fifth, Willacy County, Texas, is on the Gulf Coast.

The poverty rate for individuals 65 and over ranged from 0 percent to more than 30 percent for Owsley County, Ky.; Holmes County, Miss.; Shannon County, S.D.; and Kenedy, Maverick, Starr and Willacy counties in Texas.

Housing Value

The counties with the lowest median home values for owner-occupied housing units included Reeves, Texas, at $29,400.

Counties with the highest median home values included Nantucket, Mass., at about $1 million.

Thirty-two counties had median home values of greater than $500,000, the majority of which were in California.

Thirty-three counties had median home values of less than $50,000, 19 of which were in Texas.

Work commute

The counties with the lowest mean* travel time to work included King, Texas, at 3.4 minutes, while counties with the highest mean travel time to work included Richmond, N.Y., at 42.5 minutes.

Four counties, all in New York, had mean travel times to work in excess of 40 minutes: Richmond, Queens, Kings and Bronx.

Fourteen counties or county equivalents, all but two in Alaska, had mean travel times to work of less than 10 minutes.

(*”mean” refers to a kind of average)

Married Couple Families with children under 18

In 24 counties, more than one-third of all households were married-couple families with children under 18, including about one-quarter of the counties in Utah.

Of the remaining 17 counties, most were relatively wealthy suburban counties (e.g. Douglas, Colo.; and Loudon, Va.).

By contrast, there were 10 counties or county equivalents where less than one-in-10 households were married couple families with children.

These included the cities of Richmond, Petersburg and Williamsburg in Virginia; Baltimore, Md.; and the District of Columbia.

Educational attainment

The percent of those 25 and over who had completed high school ranged from 46.5 percent in Starr County, Texas, to 98.7 percent in Hinsdale County, Colo., and Los Alamos County, N.M.

In 10 counties, more than 95 percent of the population 25 and over had completed high school.

Of the 10 counties with high school completion rates over 95 percent, three were in Colorado (Hinsdale, Douglas and Routt) and three were in Nebraska (Wheeler, Logan and Grant).

Five counties had less than 60 percent of the population 25 and over that had completed high school. Among these five counties, four were in Texas (Maverick, Presidio, Starr and Willacy) and the fifth was Holmes County, Ohio.

The percent of those 25 and over who had completed a bachelor’s degree ranged from 4.6 percent in Owsley County, Ky., to 69.5 percent in Falls Church, Va.

Seventeen counties or county equivalents had populations where more than 50 percent of those 25 and over had a bachelor’s degree.

Seven of these counties were in the suburbs of the District of Columbia, three in Colorado (Boulder, Douglas and Pitkin) and two in California (Marin and San Francisco). Pitkin County, Colo., with an estimated population of just over 15,000, is the smallest of these counties.

There were 62 counties where less than 10 percent of the population 25 and over had a bachelor’s degree. Fourteen of these counties were in Georgia, nine in Tennessee, eight in Kentucky and five each in Florida and West Virginia.

Spanish-speaking populations

The county with the highest percentage of the population 5 and over that spoke Spanish at home was Starr, Texas, at 95.9 percent.  Starr was one of 28 counties, and one of 22 counties in Texas, where more than half the population 5 and over spoke Spanish at home.

More than 200 counties had less than 1 percent of the population 5 and over that spoke Spanish at home, including 25 counties in West Virginia and 22 in Kentucky.  In Maine, there were no counties where the percent of Spanish speakers exceeded 2 percent.

Household income

Counties with the lowest median household income included Owsley County, Ky., at $18,869, while counties or county equivalents with the highest median household income included Falls Church, Va., at $113,313.

In addition to Falls Church, only two other counties had median household incomes greater than $100,000 – Fairfax and Loudoun counties, both in Virginia.

Eighteen counties had a median household income of less than $25,000. These included six counties in Kentucky, three counties in Mississippi and Texas, two counties in Alabama, and one county in Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Foreign-born

Nine counties in the United States had populations that were greater than one-third foreign-born.  These included three counties in California (Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Francisco), two county equivalents in Alaska (Aleutian East Borough and Aleutians West Census Area), and two counties in New York (Kings and Queens), along with Miami-Dade, Fla., and Hudson, N.J.

Two of these – Aleutians East Borough and Aleutians West Census Area – were in counties with total populations of less than 20,000 people.

There were 292 counties with populations that were less than 1 percent foreign-born, including 34 counties in Kentucky, 27 in West Virginia, 26 in Missouri and 21 in Mississippi.  Of those 292 counties, 222 had total populations less than 20,000 people.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey replaces the “long form” that historically produced demographic, housing and socioeconomic estimates for the nation as part of the once-a-decade census.

The decennial census program, which includes the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census, along with the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates program, serve as the basis for the allocation of more than $400 billion in federal funds to state, local and tribal governments every year.

These vital estimates also guide planning in the private sector, as well as the work done by policy makers at all levels of government and in communities of all sizes.

All survey responses are strictly confidential and protected by law.

Posted Dec. 14, 2010

Related links:

Detailed tables – http://factfinder.census.gov

Maps – http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2009_acs_maps/

ACS web site – http://www.census.gov/acs/www/

State data information – http://www.census.gov/sdc/network.html

New cycle business hosts food drive

December 8, 2010 Business No Comments
bicyclespokes-cover

While Storrs Center Cycle is new to town, Paterson is a Mansfield native. He took up cycling as a teen and knows the roads and trails of the area well.

Storrs Center Cycle, a new full-service bicycle shop serving the greater Mansfield community, announces a food drive to benefit the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic.

Customers who bring in a non-perishable food item (or two or three) will receive 5 percent off their purchases, now through the end of January (excludes 2011 bicycles).

All food items will be donated to Covenant to support their Emergency Food Pantry.

As Aaron Paterson, owner and manager of Storrs Center Cycle explains, “For individuals and families struggling with economic issues, the winter months can be an especially trying and difficult time, so we are eager to aid the Covenant Soup Kitchen in their support of our community.”

Individuals who wish to contribute to the food drive may bring their donations to the shop at any time during its open hours, and Storrs Center Cycle would like to mention that protein rich items like beans and beef stew are especially needed at this time of year.

Storrs Center Cycle, located at 1132 Storrs Road (next to Liberty Bank), opened in late October. The shop offers bicycles for every rider, from children to racers.

“We’ve got great bikes for everyone from kids to pros and everyone in between,” says Paterson. “Everyone can enjoy cycling with a great fitting bicycle, and we’ll help you find the ride that fits you.”

Storrs Center Cycle also features a full service repair shop that can fix any make or model. They can handle all sorts of jobs on any model bike, including hydraulic disc work and suspension overhauls on all brands.

Paterson adds, “While we offer the serious cyclist services like advanced suspension tuning, professional fitting, and custom hand built wheels, we are just as eager to help you get your 20 year old bike running again.  The important thing is keeping people rolling on two wheels!”

Storrs Center Cycle is new to town, but Paterson is a Mansfield native.  He took up cycling as a teen and knows the roads and trails of the area well.  “If you are new to biking, we can help you plan some routes for the road or the trails that are safe and fun,” he says.

Storrs Center Cycle is located at 1132 Storrs Road in Storrs/Mansfield, just a half mile from the UConn campus and E.O. Smith High School.

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and is open until 8:00 pm on Thursday (closed on Sundays).

Visit www.storrscentercycle.com, find us on Facebook, or call 860.429.5300 for more information.

Posted Dec. 8, 2010

Kardashians kancel kriticized kredit kard

November 30, 2010 Areawide, Business No Comments

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” may be a hit, but a debit card tied to the reality television family has been canceled.

A Minnesota lender Monday (Nov. 29) halted sales of a prepaid debit card featuring an image of the Kardashian sisters, after Con­necticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the card carried ” outrageous” fees that unfairly targeted financially unsophisti­cated young adults.

University National Bank said the 250 consumers who bought the MasterCard-branded “Kardashian Kard” since its Nov. 9 launch may continue using it for 30 days, and thereafter would receive refunds of balances and up-front fees.

The St. Paul- based company said it was reviewing its agree­ment with the Kardashians’ com­pany Dash Dolls LLC to ensure that cardholders get refunds, and would work to ensure that card holders “experience as little inconvenience as possible.”

Blumenthal had complained Fri­day (Nov. 26) that the debit card burdened fans of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian’s “lives of luxury and extravagance” with fees that could reach $100 a year, plus fees for ATM withdrawals, cancellations and talking with a phone opera­tor.

According to a letter from the Kardashians’ lawyer released by Blumenthal’s office, the sisters Monday pulled out of the agree­ment that allowed the bank to use their likenesses on the card.

“The Kardashians have worked extremely long and hard to cre­ate a positive public persona that appeals to everyone, particularly young adults,” wrote the lawyer, Dennis Roach.

” Unfortunately, the negative spotlight turned on the Kardashi­ans as a result of the Attorney General’s comments and actions threatens everything for which they have worked.”

A spokesman for Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard Inc. re­ferred a request for comment to University National.

Prepaid debit cards associated with celebrities ” are becoming more and more popular,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union in Washington, D.C.

“Tying a card to someone who is famous or wealthy can get more consumers to say, ‘I want to be more like the rich and famous,'” she continued. “But prepaid debit cards do not have the same protec­tions that traditional debit cards have, and often have hidden fees that eat away at their value.”

Connecticut voters this month elected Blumenthal, a Democrat, to the U.S. Senate, beginning in January 2011.

Original article provided by Reuters. Reprinted here under an agreement with The Chronicle.

Posted Dec. 1, 2010

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Connecticut Water refutes criticisms of UConn water plan

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Connecticut Water is well positioned to provide the water necessary to meet the needs identified for the University and the community over the 50 year planning horizon. The EIE considered the projected demands for the University’s Tech Park and the Next Generation initiative, as well as the Town of Mansfield’s plans for redevelopment of the Four Corners, the proposed managed care facility, and other potential development in the community consistent with their local plans.

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