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2001: Environment.

first_imgLittle Creatures Reveal Big Things about Wetlands (January 10, 2001) – Large-scale logging can often affect the delicate balance of plant and animal life in nearby wetlands. But how much? A University of Georgia scientist says if you look close enough, some little creatures can tell you big things about wetlands.Worms Don’t Mind the Waste (February 14, 2001) – Earthworms have a healthy appetite. If you get enough of them together and don’t disturb them, scientists say they can safely, quietly dispose of many forms of waste.A Novel Way to Handle Chicken Waste (June 12, 2001) – Finding an economical and environmentally friendly way to handle the vast volume of chicken manure from Georgia’s poultry industry has been a concern for years. Now a University of Georgia researcher has a novel way to handle the mess and make money, too.New Methods Keep Georgia Peaches Safe (June 16, 2001) – For two years, agricultural scientists and peach growers have tried to produce a pesticide-free peach for consumers. And they’ve come close.EPD Relaxes Water-use Restrictions (July 11, 2001) – As of July 13, most of Georgia will be able to water their lawns when they get home from work. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division announced they are relaxing the statewide outdoor water-use restrictions to just odd-even use.Scientists Eyeing Ways to Prevent Water Pollution (October 10, 2001) – Scientists in Tifton, Ga., hope a new project will reveal economical ways to prevent water quality problems related to animal farming in Georgia.Recycling System Makes Most of Manure (October 18, 2001) – The manure from dairy cattle can be recycled in an environmentally friendly way. No, not just in compost. It can actually provide energy, feed and maybe even drinking water for cattle, says a University of Georgia scientist.last_img read more

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The coral connection

first_imgBy Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaHow extensive is fecal contamination of water surrounding the Florida Keys and how harmful is it to humans and the environment? These are questions troubling both University of Georgia scientists and residents of the string of more than 1,800 tropical islands arcing off the southern tip of Florida.With few large, modern sewage-treatment plants in the area, most human waste is processed by small-scale waste water treatment plants, or more commonly flushed into thousands ofseptic tanks and cesspits ( holes in the ground covered with concrete slabs).Some homes, like most of the thousands of houseboats docked in the Keys, simply have waste pipes leading directly from toilets to the ocean. Older sewer lines also are known to leak untreated sewage into the groundwater.Microbiologist Erin Lipp is looking to the coral reefs surrounding the islands for some answers.“The [septic] fields are so porous that even the legal systems are not functioning,” said Lipp, who works with the University of Georgia Department of Environmental Health Science. A 42 percent increase in the population each spring, when tourist season arrives, adds even more strain to the islands’ inadequate waste treatment systems.Resulting human fecal contamination near shore is well-documented, Lipp said. “About 95 percent of the canals tested in the Keys tested positive for human viral pathogens like polio, hepatitis A and Norwalk.”How much wastewater is reaching the region’s coral reefs further offshore, and to what extent it may be affecting them and offshore water quality are big unknowns. UGA ecologist Jim Porter has found the reefs have been decimated. He has documented a 38 percent decline in living coral coverage in the Keys over the last seven years.Scientists suspect that there’s a connection between the contamination and the reef reduction, but offshore water testing hasn’t indicated the amount of human contamination that scientists suspect might be present, Lipp said.“In a recent study, 13 out of 15 coral heads had the RNA of viruses on them but only one water sample indicated fecal contamination,” said Lipp. “In fact, offshore water testing has hardly detected any fecal indicators.”Lipp thinks the corals themselves may hold the answer – that bacteria and viruses from human waste may be collecting on the reefs rather than floating around in the ocean.“These bacteria and viruses prefer sediment or surface,” Lipp said. “They will colonize before they’ll simply float around.”Furthermore, coral is a particularly hospitable environment for microbes. “Corals produce a mucus in response to stress,” she said. “It’s very sticky and a highly nutritional environment for bacteria.”If human viruses and bacteria are collecting on coral as Lipp suspects, then the reefs would be a more accurate indicator of human fecal bacteria and pathogenic viruses offshore than water sampling.Scientists have discovered bacteria indigenous to the ocean on the surfaces of corals that are two orders of magnitude higher than a few years ago, Lipp said She, along with co-investigators Dale Griffin of the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida and Joan Rose of Michigan State University will look specifically for human viruses and bacteria on the coral.“Coral may be a more efficient and effective bio-indicator versus sampling hundreds of liters of water,” Lipp said.With more accurate indications of human pathogens in near and offshore waters, scientists could create more accurate models to assess the risk of human waste to humans and the environment.In a separate study, Lipp is investigating the origins of white pox, a coral disease that has destroyed a large part of the population of elkhorn coral in the Keys. White pox is caused by a bacterium that is also a human pathogen – it’s a common source of hospital infections – which suggests there may be a link between it and human activities.Lipp, along with UGA researchers Kathryn Patterson Sutherland and Jim Porter, will use DNA fingerprinting to examine strains of this bacterium to determine the source.Cat Holmes is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.last_img read more

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Bobwhite comeback

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaThe distinctive call of the bobwhite quail now resounds more widely at a project farm established to boost its habitat.The Wolf Creek Project was started by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The project’s aim is to increase populations of bobwhite quail, one of Georgia’s most famous game birds, on an intensively managed, working farm, said Randy Hudson, the project director. Hudson coordinates the UGA Center for Emerging Crops and Technologies, too.Covey count”Old-timers can remember when there were up to 100 quail coveys on this farm in any given year,” Hudson said. “When the project started, only three coveys were on the farm.”That was about one quail for each 70 acres. Now, the 2,200-acre farm in Turner County, Ga., has 56 coveys, or about one quail per 4 acres.”Our ultimate goal is to average one quail per 2 acres,” Hudson said, “or reach a population of at least 1,000, or about 90 coveys.”From the 1950s through the ’70s, large coveys of bobwhite quail roamed throughout south Georgia. The area was considered the hub of quail hunting in the United States.Over the past 50 years, however, the state’s quail numbers have dropped by as much as 90 percent in some places, Hudson said. South Georgia is still quail-hunting territory. But most of the quail are pen-raised and released for hunting.Quail-friendly farming Modern farming practices have added greatly to the decline in Georgia’s quail numbers, he said.Bigger farms, larger fields and equipment and nonselective pest management have all hurt quail habitat and food supplies.”Bobwhite quail prefer to nest and raise their broods in transition areas around fields and woodlands,” he said. “Harsh or strong woodlands directly joining agricultural fields are not good quail habitats.”Scientists from UGA, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Forestry Commission and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service conduct studies here in cooperation with Georgia Power, Monsanto and the Georgia Chapter of Quail Unlimited. They’re trying to find the best ways to farm cotton, peanuts, corn and forest lands and help quail thrive.In growing row crops, they focus on farm practices that cause quail little harm. They use conservation tillage. And they control insects, weeds and other pests with materials that don’t harm birds.They planted native bunch grasses along waterways. They planted longleaf pines in the nonproductive crop areas and allowed those places to grow into natural quail habitats.Ragweed, which grows naturally in Georgia, can provide an excellent quail refuge. It provides cover from predators and a place for young quail to find a host of small beetles and grasshoppers to eat.A farmer who increases the quail population on his farm could help improve the farm’s bottom line, Hudson said.”A huntable population of quail adds value to the farm by offering the opportunity to sell quail hunting leases,” he said.Rural Georgia could benefit, too.”At one time hunters came from all over the world to hunt wild quail in Georgia,” he said. “It’s our hope to see this happen again.”Anyone interested in preserving or improving quail habitats should attend the Wolf Creek Quail Management Field Day Oct. 12. For more information or to register, call (229) 386-3416. Or go to the Web page (www.ugatiftonconference.org).last_img read more

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09 Trellis garden

first_imgBy William Terry KelleyUniversity of GeorgiaVeteran gardeners know there are constantly chores to be done in the vegetable garden. An important one to remember once your garden is growing later this spring is trellising. Volume XXXIINumber 1Page 9 Trellising is one chore you need to do fairly soon after the plants are established. It gets the plant and fruit up off the ground. This makes for better-quality fruit and less disease. It also helps to maintain order in the garden and makes harvesting easier.For tomatoes, some people simply use cages to put over the plant, which allows it to grow and be supported. Another method is to drive a 1-inch square, 4-foot stake into the ground by each plant and tie the plant to the stake.If you have a long row of tomatoes, you can set a large post at each end of the row and again about every 20 feet within it. Attach a wire across the top of the posts and about four inches above the ground. Use twine to tie each plant to the wires for support.Peppers, tooPeppers can be staked, too. Using similar 1-inch-square stakes, place them about every fourth plant with twine running from stake to stake. You’ll want to start the first twine 4 inches above the ground.As the peppers grow, put another string about every 4 inches above the first. Start with the first stake and go on one side of the plants. Then go around the next stake and so on. When you get to the last stake, come back down the other side of the plants to box the plants in and keep them from falling over.Another crop that works well with a trellis is cucumbers. You can use 4-foot fencing wire and some posts to build a temporary fence beside the cucumber row. Then just train the vines up on the fence as they grow. You’ll find and pick your cukes easier.Eggplant?Eggplant can also be staked. Either tomato stakes or rebar can be used to place next to each eggplant. Then secure it to the stake.Be careful not to cut into plants as you tie them with twine. But keep the twine tight enough to support the plants.Don’t forget to scout for insects and disease problems, too. Keep your weeds in check, and water as needed. The work of the gardener is never quite done. But doing chores when needed will help you relax and enjoy those lazy, hazy days of summer a little more.(Terry Kelley is a Cooperative Extension vegetable horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img read more

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Exceptional drought

first_imgDrought conditions continue to intensify across most of Georgia. Since the end of May, conditions in the southern two-thirds of the state have deteriorated from extreme to exceptional drought, the highest drought category. Portions of northwest Georgia have now entered moderate drought conditions. All counties in Georgia south of Harris, Talbot, Upson, Pike, Lamar, Monroe, Jasper, Putnam, Hancock, Warren, McDuffie and Lincoln counties, inclusive, are either in extreme or exceptional drought. Soil moisture levels in the extreme and exceptional drought counties are between the first and fifth percentile. At the first percentile the soils in late June would have more moisture 99 out of 100 years. At the fifth percentile the soils would have more moisture 95 out of 100 years. The counties in exceptional drought are south and west of Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Marion, Taylor, Crawford, Bibb, Twiggs, Wilkinson, Johnson, Emmanuel, Treutlen, Wheeler, Jeff Davis, Coffee, Irwin, Tift, Cook, Lowndes and Echols counties, inclusive. Additionally counties classified as being in exceptional drought are Charlton, Ware, Effingham and the coastal counties of Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh and Glynn.Severe drought conditions continued or have developed in Troup, Meriwether, Spalding, Butts, Newton, Morgan, Greene, Taliaferro and Wilkes counties. Moderate drought conditions have continued or have developed in Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Haralson, Carroll, Coweta, Fayette, Clayton, Henry, Rockdale, Walton, Oconee, Clarke, Oglethorpe, Madison, Elbert, Franklin and Hart.The remaining counties across north-central and northeast Georgia are classified as being abnormally dry. Streams flows across the southern half of the state are extremely low. Daily record-low flows are occurring along Pachitla Creek near Edison, the Flint River at Newton, Spring Creek near Iron City, the Alapaha River near Alapha and at Statenville, the Satilla River near Waycross, the Ocmulgee River at Lumber City and at Doctortown, Black Creek near Blitchton, and the Ogeechee River near Eden.Groundwater levels in the coastal plain are at or near record low levels for all long-term monitoring wells. Some communities in the region are drilling deeper wells to maintain water supplies. Since March, more than 370,000 acres have been scorched by wildfires in the state. Increased wildfire risk remains, and precaution must be exercised when doing any activity that could generate sparks. Preventable sources of wildfires include backyard grills, campfires and cigarettes, and also over-heated lawn equipment, farm equipment and electrical lines. Up-to-date information on dry conditions across Georgia can be found at www.georgiadrought.org. Updated weather conditions can be found at www.georgiaweather.net.last_img read more

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UGA at Georgia Organics

first_imgSustainable agriculture experts and Extension specialists from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will be offering several workshops and classes at the 2013 Georgia Organics Conference. Conference goers can expect to learn a great deal about farm management and produce marketing, as well the basics of organic plant disease management, sustainable grazing, vegetable cultivation and the outlook for crops needed to fill niche markets in the Southeast. Among the UGA faculty and staff presenting at the conference are: Elizabeth Little, assistant professor of plant pathology and Extension specialist, will present a holistic approach to plant health management. With over 16 years at the UGA, she has developed a program of practices that will help growers manage plant diseases organically. Robert Tate, manager of UGA’s Organic Demonstration Farm, will discuss the markets for ginger and winter lettuces in the Southeastern produce market. The U.S. imports 25,000 tons of ginger each year, but it can be grown in Georgia. Tate, who coordinates UGA’s Certificate in Organic Agriculture, will outline the production methods for ginger and summer lettuces. Menia Chester, Fulton County Extension coordinator and Fulton Fresh director, will present on a panel discussing strategies for feeding people living in urban food deserts. She will highlight successes in getting fresh produce into communities without access to fresh foods. David Berle, professor of horticulture and faculty advisor for UGA’s UGarden, will put his teaching chops to use during a workshop on organic vegetable production for beginning gardeners. Gerard Krewer, professor emeritus and Extension specialist, will help lead an in-depth workshop on planting and caring for a backyard orchard. Krewer is a blueberry expert and will lead the portion of the workshop on organic blueberry and blackberry production. Julia Gaskin, Sustainable Agriculture coordinator at the CAES, will lead a workshop discussion on the marketing and production benefits that smaller farmers can realize by forming or joining food hubs. Will Getz, an Extension Specialist and professor at Fort Valley University, will help lead a workshop on goat husbandry. The workshop will focus on the basics of raising goats and sheep and the different marketing possibilities for goats and sheep. For more information or to register for the conference visit http://georgiaorganics.org.last_img read more

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Valentine’s Day Plant

first_imgWalking down the long Crape Myrtle Allée at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, you’ll see several large, Vietnamese glazed pots filled with cool-season flowers. For this to be the first week in February, they are looking rather impressive thanks to what may be the perfect Valentine’s Day plant, the Persian cyclamen. Just thinking about Valentine’s Day used to give me the shudders. Now, three cyclamen in a basket and a nice dinner at a Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, and I am home free.You cannot beat the number of flowers it produces or its long period of bloom. Cyclamen comes in the traditional Valentine’s Day colors of red, pink and white, and the shades of purple and lavender will leave her mesmerized. If that were not enough, consider that the plant’s incredibly striking leaves are heart-shaped.Cyclamen is one example of a plant whose foliage contributes significantly to the plant’s beauty. Most cyclamen, you see, have some pattern of silver or gray variegation in those heart-shaped leaves. Another thing I like about the cyclamen is its ability to tolerate cool conditions. Cyclamen loves temperatures from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the average outdoor temperature range during much of the late winter and spring. This means the pot near the front door where a geranium bloomed all summer can now be filled with cyclamen.Most plant-lovers think about using them indoors, but I urge you to be bold and use them outdoors too, like we are. We have them partnered with various shades of fragrant dianthus and a touch of variegated lamium. Try them in containers, window boxes and even baskets. Don’t skimp and buy the bargain heavy potting soil, but instead use a good, lightweight soil mix. This will pay dividends because, with a little care, your cyclamen will still be blooming as spring arrives.Keep the cyclamen evenly moist, but never soggy. When watering, I like to use a little can with a spout to place the water around the edge of the container without watering the crown or center of the plant directly. If bone-chilling temperatures are in the forecast, simply tuck your container inside for a day.The cyclamen will certainly last longer than cut flowers. Try a mix of three differing colors in a decorative container or basket, add a fine dinner at her favorite restaurant, turn on the charm that stole her heart and you’ll be in great shape for Valentine’s Day.Follow me on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru. For more information about the UGA Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, go to www.coastalgeorgiabg.org.last_img read more

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Cristiane Pilon

first_imgPhysiologist Cristiane Pilon is the newest member of the University of Georgia Peanut Team. Her expertise in the physiological processes of the peanut plant and management of the plant’s stress levels will equip Georgia farmers with tools to produce an even better crop.Pilon joined the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences March 1 and is based on the UGA Tifton campus. She works with fellow peanut team members to answer the questions they are fielding from Georgia’s peanut producers.“The peanut team needed a physiologist here to try to help manage one of the state’s high-value row crops. They had general agronomists, breeders, entomologists, all of whom have general areas of expertise for peanuts, but a physiologist was needed to help answer other questions,” Pilon said.She views drought as one of the main problems that Georgia peanut farmers face, especially because half of the state’s peanut crop is produced in nonirrigated fields. Last year’s drought, which spanned a couple of months in late summer and early fall, led to low yields for much of Georgia’s peanut crop.Drought conditions can make aflatoxin problems worse. “When that happens, one big problem leads to another,” Pilon said.The carcinogen aflatoxin becomes more prevalent when a peanut plant undergoes drought and heat stress. The presence of aflatoxin, even on just one peanut, can severely downgrade a peanut load.Pilon will study the physiological and metabolic processes of peanut plants and identify how the plants respond to stress conditions such as drought, high temperatures, insect and disease pressures, especially pressure from the tomato spotted wilt virus.“There are several physiological processes involved in the growth and development of peanut plants that contribute to productivity,” Pilon said. “Our goal is to understand those processes and how we can manage the crop to improve tolerance to stresses and achieve high productivity. Then, information obtained from our research can be relayed to Georgia’s growers by the peanut team.”UGA Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort believes Pilon’s expertise will serve Georgia well.“Peanuts are a high-value crop in Georgia, so it’s incredibly important to have a row crop physiologist like Cristiane Pilon working at UGA. She is already helping our peanut team members understand and grasp the inner workings of the peanut plant,” Monfort said. “If we know how much drought and extreme temperatures a peanut plant can tolerate, we can convey that information to our growers.”A native of Brazil, Pilon received her doctorate in cotton physiology from the University of Arkansas.At UGA, Pilon’s primary focus will be peanuts, a crop that Georgia farmers are expected to dedicate more than 700,000 acres to this year. Pilon said that Georgia producers depend on the collaborative effort of the peanut team to navigate what’s estimated to be a huge crop.“Whether I’m talking to Extension agents and specialists or other researchers, we’re trying to figure out what our main needs are for the crop, then set up experiments to try to answer those questions so the growers can increase yields,” Pilon said. “That’s why our responsibilities are so important. We are all serving Georgia’s peanut growers.”Georgia’s peanut industry recorded more than $684.6 million in farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.last_img read more

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Kids Cooking Competition

first_imgWhen it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches, there are about as many variations as there are chefs: tangy sandwiches made of cheddar with hearty wheat bread and creamy versions made of smoked Gouda with crusty French bread.The 15 school-aged children who competed at the inaugural Fulton Fresh Kids’ Cooking Competition left no sandwich concept unexplored as they competed in teams and flexed their grilled cheese expertise. Modeled after shows like “Chopped Junior” and hosted at the Ponce City Farmers Market, the cooking competition was a great chance for the students to learn about the culinary world, nutrition and the opportunities provided by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Fulton County and Georgia 4-H.The children, all fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders, were randomly placed into teams of four and worked together to create a balanced meal out of grilled cheese ingredients, kale and a basket of other mandatory ingredients. Judges included chef Brian Carson of The Mercury, chef Daniel Peach of Botiwalla, and Daniel Mobley, market manager for Ponce City Farmers Market. They were impressed by the kids’ cooperation, cooking ability and creativity, but they had to name a winner.The winning team made a kale salad to accompany their sandwich. The team included Parker Payne, 10, of Woodward Academy; Victoria Sweeney, 10, of Warren T. Jackson Elementary School; Isaiah Farrow, 10, of Georgia Connections Academy; and Nile Smith, 10, of Roswell North Elementary School. “Most of these kids had never met and were randomly placed on teams together, but their level of communication, teamwork and creativity was phenomenal,” said Kristen Sumpter, UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent for Fulton County and Fulton Fresh coordinator. “Even when we threw them curveballs like extra mandatory ingredients, they just kept cooking with as much excitement and creativity as they did when they opened their baskets. Lemons were being zested and kale was being massaged. It was like we were watching professional chefs create new dishes.”Fulton Fresh, a long-running nutrition education program coordinated by UGA Extension in Fulton County, underwent a makeover this summer. Sumpter sharpened the program’s focus on nutritional education for young people by taking cooking and nutrition lessons into Atlanta schools this fall and hosting a number of food-related workshops for kids this summer. The program adopted the new tagline “Growing Communities One Plate at a Time.”Sumpter has collaborated with Laurie Murrah-Hanson and Jeremy Cheney, UGA Extension Georgia 4-H agents in Fulton County, to coordinate a summer full of food, nutrition and gardening youth events this summer.They hope that this summer’s events will help them to introduce families to the wide variety of opportunities that Georgia 4-H and UGA Extension offer.“I have heard of 4-H but I was not sure of everything they did,” said Renee Ross, who was at the cooking competition watching her 10-year-old nephew cook. “I love this, and I love the farm-to-table concept, and I love that people from the farmers market are contributing fresh foods and that kids are using them …“I think it’s a great way for kids who don’t have access to 4-H (in school) to be introduced to it or even learn more about the program.”For updates on upcoming events, visit ugaextension.org/county-offices/fulton/fulton-fresh.html or search “UGA Extension Fulton County” on Facebook.last_img read more

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Chittenden Corporation Reports Increased Earnings

first_imgChittenden Corporation Reports Increased Earnings Per Share, and AnnouncesNew Share Repurchase PlanBurlington, VT Chittenden Corporation (NYSE:CHZ) Chairman, President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer, Paul A. Perrault, today announced higher earnings for the year ended December 31,2006 of $85.5 million or $1.83 per diluted share, compared to $82.0 million or $1.74 per dilutedshare a year ago. For the fourth quarter of 2006, net income was $22.5 million or $0.48 perdiluted share, compared to $21.8 million or $0.46 per diluted share earned in the fourth quarter of2005.In making the announcement, Perrault said, I am pleased to report to shareholders that yourCompanys discipline and strong strategic implementation continues to deliver solid resultsdespite the challenging environment . Chittenden also announced its quarterly dividend of $0.20per share, which will be paid on February 9, 2007, to shareholders of record on January 26,2007.Perrault also announced that the Board of Directors approved a new share repurchase plan onJanuary 17, 2007 for one million shares of the Corporations common stock. The repurchase ofthe common stock may be done in negotiated transactions or open market purchases over thenext two years.FOURTH QUARTER 2006 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTSÀ‰ Commercial loans increased 7% from the end of 2005.À‰ Average deposits for 2006 increased 4% from 2005 with solid growth in CMA/moneymarket deposits of over 4%.À‰ Net interest margin held steady for 2006 at 4.24% and the fourth quarter increased 6basis points to 4.29%.À‰ Nonperforming assets declined 22% from the third quarter of 2006.À‰ The efficiency ratio improved to 54.6% for the fourth quarter of 2006.À‰ The Company repurchased 762,500 common shares in the fourth quarter and thetangible capital ratio remained over 7.00% at year end.ASSETSThe Companys securities portfolio declined from both the prior year end and on a linked quarterbasis to $1.1 billion. The decrease in securities was primarily utilized to fund loan growth andreduce borrowings. Total loans increased by $210 million from the end of last year to $4.7 billionat December 31, 2006. The Company experienced solid loan growth in 2006 throughout all of itsmarkets with particularly strong increases in its multifamily real estate, commercial real estateand construction portfolios.LIABILITIESTotal deposits decreased $20 million from September 30, 2006 reflecting the start of the normalseasonal decline in deposits, which is primarily driven by the operating cycles of the Companysmunicipal and commercial customers. Borrowings at December 31, 2006, were $210 million, adecrease of $17 million from the end of last year due to lower FHLB advances.NET INTEREST INCOMETax-equivalent net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2006 was $64.0 million, compared to$63.7 million for the same quarter of 2005 and $63.5 million for the third quarter of 2006. Theincrease in net interest income from the same period a year ago was due to higher averageearning assets, which was partially offset by a slightly lower net interest margin. The Companysnet interest margin for the fourth quarter was 4.29%, an increase of 6 basis points from the thirdquarter of 2006 and a decline of 1 basis point from the same period a year ago. The increase innet interest margin from the third quarter of 2006 was attributable to higher interest recoveries onformer non-performing loans. The decline in the net interest margin from the fourth quarter of2005 was due to an increase in funding costs, which was partially offset by an increase in theyield on interest earning assets. The increase in funding costs was driven by strong competitionfor both commercial and consumer deposits as well as increases in the federal funds rate in2005 and 2006.NONINTEREST INCOMENoninterest income was $17.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2006, compared with $16.1 millionfor the third quarter and $17.4 million for the same period a year ago. The increase in noninterestincome was primarily attributable to higher investment management and trust fees and othernoninterest income, which was partially offset by lower gains on the sales of mortgage loans.The increase in other noninterest income from the fourth quarter of 2005 was primarily due to$1.1 million received in relation to the Companys interest in a mortgage insurance captive, whichwas partially offset by higher amortization on investments in low income housing limitedpartnerships.NONINTEREST EXPENSENoninterest expenses were $46.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2006, compared to $46.0million for the fourth quarter of 2005. The increase from the same quarter a year ago is primarilya result of higher salary expense which related to increased share-based compensation costsand new branch openings in 2006. The Company recognized $785,000 of share-basedcompensation in the fourth quarter of 2006 as compared to $4,000 in the same quarter a yearago.INCOME TAXESThe effective income tax rates for 2006 were 31.5% for the fourth quarter and 32.1% for the fullyear compared with 34.2% and 34.5%, respectively, for the same periods in 2005. The lowereffective income tax rate was attributable to higher low-income housing and historic rehabilitationtax credits.CREDIT QUALITYThe provision for credit losses was $2.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to $1.4million for the same quarter of 2005. The increase in the provision for credit losses from thecomparable period in 2005 was primarily due to higher net charge offs and nonperforming loans.Net charge-offs as a percentage of average loans were 4 basis points for the fourth quarter.hittenden Corporation of 2006, up from 2 basis points for the same quarter a year ago. The increase in net charge-offsprimarily relates to one commercial finance loan that was placed on non-accrual status in the firstquarter of 2006. The allowance for credit losses as a percentage of total loans excludingmunicipal loans was 1.39% at December 31, 2006 compared to 1.43% for the fourth quarter of2005.last_img read more

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