Better Soil.

first_imgThe old saying, “Never place a $5 plant in a 50-cent hole,” is true. The condition of your landscape soil may be the most important aspect of gardening success.Whether you work with south Georgia sand or north Georgia’s clay soils, soil amendments are vital commodities to have.But it can boggle the mind to look around the garden center and try to distinguish between soil amendments. There are manures, top soil, potting soil, peat moss, mushroom compost — and the list goes on.The important things to remember are the goals of soil amendments: to improve the soil’s tilth (loosen it up) and drainage and perhaps possibly add some nutrient value.Focus on Loosening SoilI suggest focusing more on organic amendments’ ability to loosen the soil and less on nutrition.The price of amendments varies greatly, and the bags whose fancy covers tout their nutritional excellence may not be any better than the others.Get in the habit of reading the label on everything to see what’s actually in the bag you’re buying. By reading the label, you can more easily compare apples to apples.Stay away from just buying pure peat moss. This makes a poor soil amendment on its own. It tends to dry out too much during dry times and stays soggy when the weather’s wet.Home Compost Good, TooHome compost can be a good soil amendment, too, if it’s been composted completely. Completed compost should have the consistency of dark topsoil. Use partially finished compost as a mulch on top of the soil, or leave it in the compost bin to finish its conversion to humus.Once you’ve decided on an amendment, it’s vital to add it to your soil the right way.One of the most common errors in planting is to dig a hole, pour in a soil amendments and then insert the plant into a hole you’d need a shoe horn to get it into. This will spell disaster. The moisture level around the plant will fluctuate drastically over time.The right way is to create a consistent, universal soil the roots of the plant can expand in. Then, in this amended soil, dig a planting hole at least twice the width of the root ball.New Planting SitesIf it’s a new planting site, incorporate a 3- to 4-inch layer of the organic amendment into the soil. This is best done with a tiller in larger beds, but a spade or stiff pitchfork will work in small spaces. Be sure to thoroughly mix the organic matter into the native soil. Don’t create two separate soil layers.You can add organic matter to existing landscapes, too. Just rake back some of the mulch and lightly incorporate about a 1-inch layer around plants. Use a pitchfork to work some of the soil into the existing medium.Take care not to damage your plants’ root systems. Amending existing landscape beds annually will greatly improve the growing conditions for the plants and help insure against compaction and poor drainage.Take a Soil SampleWhile many amendments will add some nutritional value to your soil, you will most likely need to supplement with synthetic fertilizers.Taking a soil sample to your county extension agent is the best way to know the true fertilizer and lime requirements. Sampling every other year will allow you to closely monitor your plant’s nutrition needs.Amending your soil can be one of the easiest ways to avoid plant stress or prevent future disease problems. It’s a great way to improve the health of your soil and ensure the long-term success of your landscape.last_img read more

Swenson Granite to buy Rock of Ages in cash deal for $39 million

first_imgKurt M. Swenson (7) ** *Pamela G. Sheiffer** AME AND ADDRESS OF BENEFICIAL OWNER (1) – 5,000 – PERCENT OF CLASS NUMBER (2) 15,000 38.8% 6.5% 144,875 Kevin C. Swenson (6)47 Straws Point RoadRye, NH 03870 – Kuby Gottlieb Special Value Fund, LP(4)20 North Wacker Drive, Suite1416Chicago, IL 60606 3.2% 35,000 – Robert Pope46 Grand View Farm RoadBarre, VT 05641-8335 – 17.5% NUMBER *Frederick E. Webster Jr.** – *James L. Fox** 29,126 1,005,000 1,023,489 5.3% Dimensional Fund Advisors, Inc (5) 1299 Ocean Avenue Santa Monica, CA 90401 1,063,252 – 159,875 – 19.5%Richard C. Kimball ** 39.3% – 29,126 29,200 – 5,000 – North Star Investment Management Corp. (3)20 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1416Chicago, IL 60606 22.9% – 45,000 739,551 8.8% 15.4% 1.1% 312,531 *All directors and executive officers as a group (9 persons) – – – SHARES OF CLASS B COMMON STOCK BENEFICIALLY OWNED 38.6% – 72,126 – PERCENT OF  CLASS (2) *Laura A. Plude (10)** Rock of Ages Corporation,Rock of Ages Corporation (NASDAQ:ROAC), based in Barre, announced Monday that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Swenson Granite Company LLC, based in Concord, NH. Shareholders of Rock of Ages will receive $5.25 per share in cash, valued at about $39 million, and Swenson Granite will acquire 100 percent ownership of Rock of Ages.What this means for employment in Vermont is unknown at this time. Rock of Ages employs 230, according to Vermont Business Magazine. Net revenues in 2009 were $21,682,316. Net income was $802,324, or $.11 per share. The company lost over $2 million in 2008, or $.28 per share. Rock of Ages stock went up nearly 26 percent following the announcement on Monday, up $1.06 to $5.16. Its 52-week high-low is $2.65-$5.16. In May, Swenson Granite offered an unsolicited bid of $4.38 per share. At least one shareholder balked at the sale. Rock of Ages reported in an SEC filing following the merger announcement in May that: “A purported shareholder of Rock of Ages has commenced a purported class action lawsuit against Rock of Ages.” The shareholder was unnamed. However, institutional investors North Star Investment Management Corp and Kuby Gottlieb Special Value Fund, LP of Chicago, which own together 24.2 percent of the Class A shares, sent a letter in June (SEE BELOW) to the Rock of Ages board suggesting that the initial proposal undervalued the company, whose financial situation had rebounded somewhat in the last year. Peter Gottlieb and Eric Kuby subsequently sent a letter to the Board Tuesday (October 19, 2010) lending their approval to the sale. Kuby Gottlieb wrote in part: “Whereas we recognize that the proposal offers liquidity and premium to the previously depressed stock price, we believe that the true value of the company is substantially higher. We have been patient investors in the company for almost nine years and believe that the company is finally in a position to generate the levels of profits that initially attracted us to their shares.”Rock of Ages announced on August 10 that net income for the second quarter of 2010 increased 9 percent to $1,561,000, or $.21 per share, which included costs associated with “the exploration of strategic options” and shareholder lawsuit expenses of $493,000, or $0.07 per share. For the second quarter of 2009, net income was $1,433,000, or $.19 per share. Revenue for this year’s second quarter increased 2 percent to $14,663,000 compared to $14,424,000 for the second quarter of 2009.Swenson Granite’s Chairman Kurt Swenson is the former CEO of Rock of Ages and is its non-executive board chairman. Kurt Swenson and his brother Kevin Swenson are the largest individual shareholders, representing nearly 40 percent of voting shares. Together and with other associates they control about 81 percent of the voting shares. Swenson Granite had been Rock of Ages’ parent company until the company went private in 1997 under the Rock of Ages tradename and based in Barre. In a statement announcing the deal, the company said: “The Rock of Ages Board of Directors, based in part on the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of three Rock of Ages independent directors, unanimously adopted, and recommends that shareholders of the Company vote for approval of, the merger agreement. The special committee’s independent financial advisor has delivered an opinion to the effect that the $5.25 per share to be received by Rock of Ages shareholders in the merger is fair, from a financial point of view, to such shareholders. The $5.25 per share price represents a 57% premium to the average closing price of Rock of Ages Class A common stock for the 30 days prior to the May 7, 2010 announcement of Swenson Granite’s initial proposal to acquire 100% ownership of Rock of Ages, and a 84% premium to the average closing price for the 12 months prior to the May 7, 2010 announcement.”Consummation of the merger is conditioned upon, in addition to approval of the merger agreement by the majority vote of Rock of Ages’ Class A and Class B common stock, voting together, approval by a majority of the outstanding shares of Class A common stock, excluding shares held by members of Swenson Granite. Rock of Ages will schedule a special meeting of its shareholders for the purpose of obtaining shareholder approval of the merger agreement.”Kurt Swenson, the Chairman of Swenson Granite and non-executive Chairman of Rock of Ages, together with his brother, Kevin Swenson, Vice President of Swenson Granite, and Robert Pope, President and Chief Executive Officer of Swenson Granite, own approximately 71% of Swenson Granite. They, along with certain other members of Swenson Granite who are also Rock of Ages shareholders, have agreed with Swenson Granite to vote their shares, representing approximately 81% of the total voting power of all Rock of Ages shares, in favor of approval of the merger agreement.”The merger agreement includes various other customary conditions, but does not contain a financing condition. People’s United Bank and Key Bank, National Association have committed, subject to customary conditions, to provide debt financing for the transaction.”Prior to the merger, Kurt Swenson, Kevin Swenson, Robert Pope and certain other members of Swenson Granite who are also shareholders of Rock of Ages, will contribute to Swenson Granite a total of 258,326 Class A shares and 2,449,793 Class B shares of Rock of Ages in exchange for additional shares of membership interest in Swenson Granite, and will not receive the $5.25 per share cash merger price for those Rock of Ages shares.”Covington Associates, LLC served as financial advisor to the special committee of the Rock of Ages board of directors and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal advisor to the special committee. Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA served as legal counsel to Swenson Granite.” About Rock of AgesRock of Ages (www.RockofAges.com(link is external)) is the largest integrated granite quarrier and manufacturer of finished granite memorials and granite blocks for memorial use in North America. Its 600-foot deep quarry in Graniteville is a popular tourist destination.Forward-Looking StatementsThis press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on current expectations about future events. These statements are not guarantees of future events and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual events may differ materially from what is expressed in such forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. A statement containing an expectation or prediction as to the consummation of the merger is just an example of a forward-looking statement. Some factors that could realistically cause events to differ materially from those predicted in the forward-looking statements include the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstances that could give rise to the termination of the merger agreement with Swenson Granite Company LLC (’Swenson Granite’); the outcome of any legal proceedings that have been, or may be, instituted against Rock of Ages related to the merger agreement; the inability to complete the merger due to the failure to obtain shareholder approval for the merger or the failure to satisfy other conditions to completion of the merger; and the failure of Swenson Granite to obtain the necessary financing arrangements relating to the merger. Further information and risks regarding factors that could affect our business, operations, financial results or financial positions are discussed from time to time in Rock of Ages’ Securities and Exchange Commission filings and reports. Such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and Rock of Ages does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this release, except as may be required under the federal securities laws.About the Proposed TransactionIn connection with the proposed merger, Rock of Ages will file a proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE BECAUSE IT WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Investors and security holders may obtain a free copy of the proxy statement (when available) and other documents filed by Rock of Ages from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site athttp://www.sec.gov(link is external). The proxy statement and such other documents may also be obtained for free from Rock of Ages’ website at http://www.rockofages.com(link is external) or by directing such request to Rock of Ages Corporation, Chief Financial Officer, 560 Graniteville Road, Graniteville, Vermont 05654, telephone: (802) 476-3115.Rock of Ages and its directors, executive officers and certain other members of its management and employees may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from its shareholders in connection with the proposed merger. Information regarding the interests of Rock of Ages’ participants in the solicitation will be included in the proxy statement relating to the proposed merger when it becomes available. Additional information regarding Rock of Ages’ directors and executive officers is also included in Rock of Ages’ proxy statement for its 2010 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which was filed with the SEC on July 19, 2010. This document is available free of charge from the SEC’s Web site at www.sec.gov(link is external), from Rock of Ages’ website at http://www.rockofages.com(link is external) or by directing such request to Rock of Ages Corporation, Chief Financial Officer, 560 Graniteville Road, Graniteville, Vermont 05654, telephone: (802) 476-3115. Source: BARRE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–10.18.20102 Shareholder Letters (Gottlieb and Kuby)October 19, 2010A letter, dated October 19, 2010 was sent from North Star InvestmentManagement Corporation to Rock of Ages Corporation via Express Delivery:-October 19, 2010The Board of DirectorsAttn: Richard C. Kimball, SecretaryRock of Ages Corp.560 Graniteville RoadGraniteville, VT 05654Dear Sirs & Madam,North Star Investment Management Corporation is in support of the recently announced $ 5.25 a share merger agreement between Rock of Ages Corporation and Swenson Granite Corporation. Noth Star Investment Corporation intends to vote in favor of the merger and tender the shares for which the Firm holds voting authority.Clients of Noth Star Investment Management Corporation affiliates may own shares of Rock of Ages Corporation. North Star Investment Management Corporation does not have dispositive or voting power of these shares. These clients may or may not retain ownership in Rock of Ages Corporation, vote in favor of the proposed transaction or tender their shares.Sincerely,__________________________ __________________________Peter Gottlieb Eric KubySignatureAfter reasonable inquiry and to the best of my knowledge and belief,I certify that the information set forth in this statement is true,complete and correct.Dated: October 19, 2010NORTH STAR INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CORP.By: /S/ PETER D. GOTTLIEB———————————-PETER D. GOTTLIEB, President & CEOBy: /S/ PETER G. CONTOS II———————————-PETER G. CONTOS IIJune 28, 2010The Board of DirectorsAttn: Richard C. Kimball, SecretaryRock of Ages Corp.560 Graniteville RoadGraniteville, VT 05654Dear Sirs & Madam,At this point we are undecided as to the merits of the May 6, 2010unsolicited proposal by Swenson Granite Company, LLC to purchase alloutstanding shares of Rock of Ages Corporation Common stock for a priceof $4.38 per share in cash. Whereas we recognize that the proposal offersliquidity and premium to the previously depressed stock price, we believethat the true value of the company is substantially higher. We have beenpatient investors in the company for almost nine years and believe thatthe company is finally in a position to generate the levels of profitsthat initially attracted us to their shares. We are encouraged that theSpecial Committee of Independent Rock of Ages Directors has engagedCovington Associates LLC as its financial advisor to assist it in exploringtheir strategic options including the Swenson Granite proposal. We lookforward to the results of the process that will recognize the fullpotential of the company s assets and will reward all shareholders. Pleasefeel free to contact us if you wish to discuss this matter further.Sincerely,__________________________ __________________________Peter Gottlieb Eric Kuby 1,346,326 – *Donald Labonte (8)** 1,023,489 1.1% 5,000 1.5%Charles M. Waite ** 1,135,000 From ROA Proxy statement July 9, 2010 SHARES OF CLASS A COMMON STOCK BENEFICIALLY OWNED *Paul H. Hutchins(9)** 423,986last_img read more

Why NCUA’s OTR calculation methodology is an unprecedented opportunity

first_imgNASCUS President/CEO Lucy Ito joins us on the show to bring light to an old issue: NCUA’s methodology for the overhead transfer rate calculation (OTR). It’s a  somewhat mysterious matter as Lucy points out, but she quickly explains why it’s an unprecedented opportunity that’s long overdue. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img

Steve Jacobs to Host ICCA Awards Night

first_imgSource = International Cruise Council Australasia Well known morning television personality Steve Jacobs will be the host of the International Cruise Council Australasia’s 2009 Awards night in Sydney in January.The gala event will be held on Saturday January 23, 2010, at Dockside Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour, with a limited number of tickets still available. Council General Manager Brett Jardine said he expected the Today Show host to be a popular MC for the black-tie event.“Steve has reported from the decks of many cruise ships over recent years, so he’s an ideal host for our awards,” Mr Jardine said.Steve’s broadcast career spans 20 years as an actor and presenter.  He joined the Channel Nine Today Show crew in 2004 and has also been a presenter on a range of television programs including Postcards Victoria and Holidays for Sale.Tickets for the award dinner are priced at $176 (including GST) each. To purchase tickets online and for more information visit at www.cruising.org.au/industryawards. The International Cruise Council Australasia is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1996, committed to training travel consultants and raising consumer awareness of cruising. last_img read more