In Brief


End of an error Loggers to reap benefits from worker comp change The discovery of a significant statistical error and the recognition of logger certification programs will lead to a lowering of “astronomical workers’ compensation rates” for New Hampshire loggers, says Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. The error “almost doubles your payroll,” Stock said, describing premiums as high as $85 per $100 of payroll for chainsaw operators. “It’s made hiring staff very difficult, if not impossible, for most contractors.” Under the new rates, the rate for chainsaw crews will be “in the upper 60’s,” he said. Rates are significantly lower for workers harvesting lumber mechanically, said Stock. “We’ve been working with the loggers for a few months now, looking into their rates,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. The rates are based on data compiled by the National Council on Compensation Insurance and are determined for various worker classifications by calculating payments as a percentage of total payrolls, Sevigny said. When reviewing the data for loggers, NCCI discovered that part of the payroll was not in the computerized files, resulting in artificially high rates. The rates have been recalculated, and those who were overcharged will get a rebate, Sevigny said. The correct rates will be established for 2005. “The exact computer glitch is something we’re looking into,” said Sevigny. “We haven’t finished looking under the hood.” He said the Insurance Department also is working with NCCI on establishing sub-classifications that would allow contractors to receive slightly lower rates for loggers certified through education and safety training. The changes “can have a positive effect on every logging company in the state, because every logging crew does some harvesting by chain saw,” Stock said. The New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association has a membership close to 300 companies, Stock said, ranging in size from a “one-man show” to 20 and 30-man crews. Next stop Nashua Medical firm to move corporate offices from N.Y. Curative Health Services Inc., a company specializing in the treatment of chronic wounds, is consolidating its Hauppauge, N.Y., corporate offices and moving them to Nashua. “Having two corporate offices is really kind of difficult,” said Tom McAndrews, vice president of finance for Critical Care Systems Inc., which was acquired by Curative in April. Curative will not be renewing its lease, which expires next year, for its offices in Hauppauge, on Long Island. Critical Care Systems currently has 12,000 square feet of space at its 61 Spit Brook Road offices in Nashua and will need to double its space in order to accommodate the consolidation, according to McAndrews. “We hopefully will not have to move,” he said. The move to Nashua means that the company will be hiring about 25 people over the next six months for jobs in finance, information technology and human resources, McAndrews told the Nashua Telegraph. Curative’s primary focus is the care of chronic or nonhealing wounds, which are defined as wounds that show no signs of significant healing in four weeks or have not healed completely in eight weeks, according to the company’s Web site. The company is a “specialty pharmaceutical services provider,” and while it does not manufacture products, it can distribute medications to patients, the Web site said. Curative anticipates that the move will be finished within the next six to eight months. Honors from the top DRED recognizes six with commissioner’s awards Four people and two businesses have been honored with 2004 Commissioner’s Awards for Economic Development Excellence from the state Department of Resources and Economic Development. Commissioner Sean O’Kane said the recipients “exemplify the best in economic development throughout our great state. Through their innovation, perseverance and hard work, they have created jobs, started new businesses, kept existing companies in operation and stimulated economic opportunity for all citizens.” The winners are: • John Crosier, outgoing president of the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire, winner of the Commissioner’s Achievement Award for his work in areas ranging from fiscal policy and regulated utilities to human resources and workforce development. •Comcast Cable Communications, Commissioner’s Award for Company Excellence, for its efforts in creating 650 jobs at its Manchester call center facility and for its development of a range of broadband products. • Fred Kocher, Commissioner’s Award for Media Excellence, for his work as host of WMUR-TV’s “New Hampshire’s Business” and his role in covering a wide range of complex economic development issues and initiatives. • Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center in Gilford, Commissioner’s Award for Promotional Partnership, for its efforts in spreading the state’s economic development message that New Hampshire is a prime business destination. • Edward “Rusty” McLear, owner of the Inns at Mill Falls, Commissioner’s Entrepreneurship Award, for stimulating economic growth by creating a series of properties that reclaim the traditional heritage of the area and contribute to the pride that the people of Meredith feel for their village. • Mike King, executive director of the North Country Council, Commissioner’s North Country Business Advocate of the Year Award, for a series of achievements, including the development of two business incubators in the Mount Washington Valley and in Lebanon and the update of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. 'Google’ of franchising? UNH center launches franchising bibliography Ugo Schlentrich, executive director of the University of New Hampshire’s William Rosenberg International Center of Franchising, has hopes that the center’s latest endeavor will turn it into the “Google of franchising.” The center and EBSCO Information Services have launched what they’re calling a ground-breaking franchising bibliography that will serve as an extensive resource for those studying and engaged in franchising. Schlentrich said the comprehensive bibliography index will encompass trade and scholarly journals, academic working papers, news articles, book abstracts, dissertations, conference reports, directories, government regulations and reports, university coursework in franchising, franchising associations, one-of-a-kind archives, videos and Web sites. Schlentrich said the bibliography “is designed to help those just starting out in franchising get a broad perspective about the industry’s history as well as expected trends, and scholars and businessmen who study the franchising business concept.” The franchising bibliography is accessible through the Rosenberg Center Web site at Power of prayer Manchester press ships out Bishop Sheen classic Sophia Institute Press in Manchester, a non-profit company restoring out-of-print Catholic classics, has reprinted the late Bishop Fulton Sheen’s “Wartime Prayer Book” for shipment to American servicemen in Iraq. Sophia Institute is providing the books at cost (97 cents per copy) to a Virginia-based organization called Catholics in the Military, which then sends the books to chaplains in Iraq for distribution among the troops. About 20,000 have been sent so far, said Sophia’s Jack Barger, and another 5,000 will soon be on their way. Barger said the idea of reprinting the Sheen classic from World War II came from a veteran of that war who still had the copy he carried with him in Normandy. The project began before the Iraq War, but as it turned out, the first copies went to press in January and February of 2003, just before hostilities began in mid-March. “We’re trying to get them out there where they’re most needed,” Barger said. In addition to the books being sent overseas, the company has had another 10,000 copies printed for parents and relatives of the troops who want extra copies, he said. Concord: Newly elected Gov. John Lynch says a 15-cent-a-pack on cigarettes would raise $22 million a year to replace money lost from repeal of the statewide property tax, one of his goals. Lynch said during the campaign he would seek a tobacco-tax increase if necessary to pay for state aid to schools. The state tobacco tax now is 52 cents a pack, the lowest in the Northeast. A 15-cent increase would still leave New Hampshire with the lowest cigarette tax in New England. Critics say any increase will undercut cigarette sales, especially in border communities that attract buyers from neighboring states. For the past several years, the tax has brought in more money than expected. Nashua: A Hillsborough County Superior Court judge has ordered a Nashua man to sell his downtown business in order to pay child support. Bruce Nauman was ordered in November by Judge Gary Hicks to immediately place Factory 57, a downtown nightclub and restaurant, on the market and use the money from the sale to set up a college fund for his two children, ages 14 and 17. The pub, which opened 16 months ago and occasionally hosted bands, is now empty. Nauman was arrested in December for past-due child support after failing to appear at a Nov. 24 court hearing. He was released Dec. 9 after posting $4,300 bail, which was paid against the $15,706 he owes in child support, according to court documents. Portsmouth: Cigna Health Care and Portsmouth Regional Hospital have reached agreement on a new two-year contract, ending a monthlong dispute over rates. The new agreement takes effect immediately and also covers Parkland Medical Center in Derry. Hospital Corporation of America owns both facilities. Merrimack: The reorganization of Australia-based Amcor PET Packaging is resulting in the closure of a local plastic bottle manufacturing facility, eliminating 105 jobs. The cost of electricity in New Hampshire is one of the primary reasons the Merrimack facility is being shut down by Amcor, a company spokesman said. Concord: The state Supreme Court says it will hear the lawsuit filed by the cities of Rochester and Manchester against legislative leadership regarding the education funding law passed this spring. No date has been set for oral arguments in the case, but briefs from legislative legal counsel are due by the end of January. Concord: New Hampshire Education Commissioner Nicholas Donohue has decided to resign his position effective Jan. 6. Several weeks ago, Gov. Craig Benson announced the nomination of Newfound Regional Superintendent John Graziano to replace Donohue. But Benson withdrew his pick after at least three members of the Executive Council indicated they would not support Graziano’s appointment. New York: New England’s outlook turned decidedly gloomy over the last year as consumer confidence plunged further than any other part of the country, according to data released by The Conference Board. The organization said its index of consumer confidence for New England dove to 77.9 in November, down more than 25 points from the region’s 104.2 reading a year earlier. Ken Goldstein, a Conference Board economist, blamed New England’s gloom on anemic job growth, spiking energy prices and concerns about jobs moving overseas. Concord: The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority has selected Paul S. Denton of Pittsburg as its new executive director, replacing Deborah Leonard Kosits, the authority’s interim director and president of Concord Strategies Inc. Since 1997, Denton has been president of Northern Community Investment Corp. in St. Johnsbury, Vt., a community development financial institution serving the three northern counties of Vermont as well as Carroll, Coos and Grafton counties in New Hampshire. Manchester: Public Service of New Hampshire customers can expect their electricity bills to go up an average of 5 percent starting Feb. 1 if the utility’s rate request is approved. The utility said the increase reflects the higher oil and natural gas markets and marks a 47.5 percent increase over the past three years in the price of energy for PSNH residential and business consumers. Portsmouth: The Air Line Pilots Association is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to cancel the certificate that allows Portsmouth-based Boston-Maine Airlines Corp., the successor to Pan Am, to fly. The group — which has been embroiled in court battles with Pan Am, Boston-Maine and Guilford Transportation owners Timothy Mellon and David Fink over alleged union-busting attempts — is citing failures on several occasions to comply with the orders of federal and state courts as reasons the DOT should ground the airline. Stratham: Timberland Co. is offering its 6,000 workers $3,000 toward the purchase of hybrid cars that combine electric motors and gasoline engines. Currently offered by Honda, Toyota and Ford, the cars generate fuel economy ratings that in some cases exceed 50 miles per gallon. Timberland said it will allow employees to put the money toward any hybrid vehicle that meets Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency standards.
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