Governor Shumlin appointed Mark Perrin, a resident of Middlebury, to the State Board of Education on April 12, 2013 to serve a six year term (2013-2019). Perrin owns and operates Green Peppers Restaurant and Creek Road Farm with his wife, Donna. He has served on local school boards since the mid-1990s, and is a strong believer in life-long learning. Perrin has been actively involved in the community by serving on the Chamber of Commerce Board, Workforce Investment Board, and Middlebury Business Association Board. ‘ This is a great opportunity to take what I’ ve learned from life and to learn from others to positively impact education. It is an honor to be a part of the Board,’ said Perrin after attending his first State Board of Education meeting today. ‘ There are diverse backgrounds and a depth of knowledge on the Board; it was impressive to see public education at work. I look forward to the challenge and to being a productive part of the process.’ The State Board of Education meets monthly; its discussions focus on policy concerning the education of Vermont students and assuring equal access for all Vermont students to a quality education. The Vermont State Board of Education currently has eleven members:Stephan Morse, Chair, Newfane (term through 2017)Sean-Marie Oller, Co-Chair, Bennington (term through 2017)Lachlan Francis, Co-Chair & Student Rep, Putney (term through 2014)Laura Harris, Student Rep, Williston (term through 2013)Krista Huling, Jeffersonville (term through 2015)Bonnie Johnson-Aten, Montpelier (term through 2018)Margaret MacLean, Peacham (term through 2015)Bill Mathis, Brandon (term through 2015)Stacy Weinberger, Burlington (term through 2019)Mark Perrin, Middlebury (term through 2019)Armando Vilaseca, Secretary of Education More information about the Vermont State Board of Education, including meeting schedules and materials, can be found online: http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/mainboard.html(link is external).
Vermont Business Magazine Chris Kesler and the Black Flannel Brewing Company(link is external) team are committed to starting a business that lives the team’s sustainable values(link is external). The team opened the brewery-distillery-brewpub at The Essex Experience(link is external) in early July 2020. They want to minimize the impact on the planet and commit to sustainability from day one. But economic sustainability is equally important. They want to create a business that can become a fixture of the community.Chief brewer Dan Sartwell watched his former employer, 14th(link is external) Star Brewing, save thousands of dollars each year through efficiency investments(link is external).“Brewing is an energy- and water-intensive process. If we commit to economic and environmental sustainability, we have to look at the energy we are using to make our beer.”The team reached out to Efficiency Vermont to understand how they could meet their twin sustainability goals. Efficiency Vermont brought in the VGS efficiency team(link is external) to look at how Black Flannel could also save on natural gas.Good beer needs a good chillerIn high quality beer making, the wort (the mix that will eventually turn into delicious beer) must be cooled from boiling before it can be fermented. One of the biggest energy users and operating expenses for a brewery is the chiller. Brewery chillers are cooling units that utilize glycol to extract excess heat from a brewing process and dissipate it in a heat exchanger or refrigeration system. Typically, a chiller runs all day every day to keep the brewing process going. Many brewers use oversized, inefficient chiller systems that are based on rough sizing estimates to provide the cooling power necessary.We referred them to a few Vermont based suppliers of high efficiency chiller systems, and they chose a system designed by Huntington-based Dodge Engineering & Controls (DEI)(link is external). The model uses high-efficiency components and innovative controls to efficiently cool the beer. DEI’s detailed analysis revealed that Black Flannel could be served by a smaller system than they’d originally thought. The smaller chiller can even handle the brewery’s three walk-in coolers. Dick Soule Refrigeration, from Enosburg(link is external), integrated the chiller with the coolers to complete the highly efficient cooling system.Finally, to keep the team informed and accountable, they installed meters. With the meters they will be able to see the electric use and efficiency of the chiller system. This will help them identify maintenance issues quickly and share their findings with others in the brewing industry.All told, the new system is estimated to save Black Flannel $11,243/year in energy costs.Now we’re cooking with gasVGS(link is external) immediately saw an opportunity in the brewpub’s kitchen. They recommended a highly efficient kitchen hood with demand control ventilation(link is external). It only runs when particulates in the air reach a certain level, saving energy while maintaining air quality. VGS and Efficiency Vermont combined their incentives, since the hood will save on bothnatural gas and electricity. Together, Black Flannel offset more than 50% of the upfront cost of the new equipment.Other upgrades included efficient natural gas deep fryers that use 50-70% less fryer oil due to low idling energy. That also means less labor time spent cleaning and re-filling the fryers, and more time cooking tasty food. The fryers joined an efficient oven, broiler, prewash system and dish washers, and natural gas hot water heater to bring the whole kitchen to top-tier efficiency.“Black Flannel was engaged in this process from day one,” said Mike Gifford, Commercial Efficiency Innovation Lead at VGS. “They maximized their savings because they took the time to ask the right questions early and often. Following this model, we look forward to helping other breweries and restaurants do the same.”These efficiency investments will save Black Flannel over $9,600 on natural gas each year.Efficiency from the bottom upBlack Flannel’s business design has efficiency baked in. A distillery requires a lot of the same equipment and process as a brewery, for grain-based alcohols. By basing both out of the same business, Black Flannel only needed one system to create the mashes for the brewery and the distillery. This cuts their energy use for the processes in half.In fact, there’s not much about the equipment and processes the Black Flannel team invested in that isn’t efficient. Variable frequency drives (VFDs)(link is external) on their pumps will allow them to run only as much as needed. Dimmable(link is external) LED lights with motion-sensors(link is external) have been installed throughout the facility. They’ll turn on only when needed and provide welcoming light with LEDs that have a much longer lifespan than other lighting choices.Even the location supports the mission. Peter Edelman owns The Essex Experience. In 2018, he worked with Encore Renewable Energy to make the complex 100% solar powered.(link is external) He’s eager to help his tenants reduce their carbon footprint, including helping Black Flannel weatherize the business before they moved in.“Black Flannel will be one of the most energy efficient brewers and restaurants in the state,” said Pat Haller, Senior Energy Consultant at Efficiency Vermont. “That wouldn’t have happened without their engagement from day one and their willingness to work in collaboration to find innovative solutions at every level of their business.”In all, these improvements will help Black Flannel save almost $24,000 each year on energy costs.Ready for businessDue to the on-going COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants, Black Flannel’s opening in July wasn’t exactly what they initially planned. They have more seating outdoors and space for social distancing. Their kitchen is focusing on take-out. They’ve also decided to can more beers than they had originally planned to.But Kesler, Sartwell, and the rest of the team were excited to turn the efficient machines on and put them to their intended use.“There are some really good breweries in Vermont. We plan to be among some of the best,” shares Kesler with a modest chuckle. “But we’re also aiming to create a unique experience for our customers to help them learn more about beer and the process of making it. I’m excited about sharing our passion and our love for brewing and tasting beer with other people.”Sartwell echoes the sentiment. “It’s going to be a really cool place to hang out and have a beer. I can’t wait to sit at the bar with all of our guests and enjoy talking beer with them.”Project Partners:VGS (South Burlington)The Essex Experience (Essex)Dodge Engineering and Controls, Inc (DEI) (Huntington)Dick Soule Refrigeration (Enosburg Falls)Nevtec LTD (Newport)Avonda Air Systems (South Burlington)Duncan Wisniewski Architecture (Burlington)Kittredge Restaurant Equipment (Williston)JA Morrissey, Inc. (Williston)Cummings Electric (South Burlington)PitcoJ&M FluidicsThis story originally appeared as a blog post on efficiencyvermont.com(link is external)
Sharon Ihde (left) and Judie Thomas stock the shelves at the Village Food Pantry. Photo by Kate Kovarik.By Kate KovarikWith the hope of helping people in her community, Judie Thomas knew from the get-go that she wanted to volunteer at the Village Presbyterian Food Pantry, located in the church’s Tillotson Building facility at 99th Street and Mission. Her involvement began as a volunteer shift on a Tuesday morning, but it has since become much more.Thomas has been volunteering at the Village Food Pantry every week for the past 15 years. Her time at the pantry and with her fellow volunteers have come to play a large role in her life.“The camaraderie of the group here keeps me coming back,” Thomas said as she greeted volunteers who were arriving for their morning shifts. “We’re family here.”Thomas is one of 300 volunteers who help at the pantry each month. Volunteers hold different roles within the pantry including sorting donations, preparing the pantry for clients, assisting clients with appointments, and many other duties, all of which contribute to the operation of the pantry.Susan Webb, director of the operation, said the pantry would not exist without dedicated volunteers like Thomas.“There’s a number of people who started when we first opened back in 1998,” Webb said, “And they’ve been coming ever since.”The Village Food Pantry aids 500 families who are living near the federal poverty line in Johnson County each month. The pantry provides them with groceries, clothing, personal care items, and household items. The pantry serves families in need year-round and especially during the holiday season, a time which Webb said “the number of people calling in need of food assistance increases.” During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, the pantry provided 500 families with Thanksgiving baskets that included a turkey and sides such as cranberries, green beans, and pumpkin pie mix. According to Webb, the pantry provided for these families during the Thanksgiving holiday “in addition to all [their] regular clients.”It is through the donations of community members and local retailer partners that the pantry is able to provide for its clients each day.“Everything we give away is from a donation, whether it’s an actual food donation or a financial donation.” Webb said. “It all is freely donated by people in the community and we depend entirely upon that.”Thomas said one of her favorite things about volunteering is welcoming clients to the pantry and being able to provide them with so many of the things they may be in need of.“Seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they realize what…is available to them and that there is no cost,” Thomas said. “That’s what keeps you going.”Community members can drop off donations of food, clothing, personal care items, and small household items to the Village Presbyterian Church Food Pantry Monday through Saturday during operating hours.The pantry has items available to families living at or near the federal poverty line.
Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a three-item questionnaire for candidates running for WaterOne board address.Today we publish the candidates’ responses to item one:What relevant experience would you bring to the position, and what is your primary motivation for seeking a seat on the water district board?Water District Board Member 1Terry Frederick (incumbent)Every candidate running for the WaterOne Board wants to provide clean water to our customers. Having served on the Board for many years, I know what it takes to provide safe clean reliable high-quality water to our customers. My experience on the Board and participation in the American Water Works Association including their Public Officials sessions over the years have allowed me to stay updated on advances in water treatment processes and technology to provide safe drinking water to our customers. As a Certified Public Accountant, I have used my business background to work with our qualified and dedicated staff at WaterOne to produce high-quality water, maintain and replace the older water infrastructure, manage growth, provide the customer service you expect and operate in a sustainable manner while also having the lowest water cost in the metro area.My past and current leadership and service experiences include the Prairie Village City Council, unit and district leader in Boy Scouts, providing service to those in need though the Lions Club and my church, and serving the community on the Theatre in the Park Advisory Board and the Kansas City Chapter Board of the KU Alumni Association. I also participated in the Leadership Kansas and Leadership Northeast programs to learn more about statewide and local issues. I have held leadership positions in several national business organizations in the tax field.After moving to Johnson County in 5th grade with my family, I have lived here continuously other than my time in college at the University of Kansas. Johnson County is an incredible place to live and raise a family. It continues to win national rankings as a great place to live. One of the reasons people want to live here are the services available to our residents. One of these services is water. A safe clean reliable high-quality water supply is very important to our community. You drink it and cook with it. You shower or bathe in it. You use it for cleaning and laundry. You use it outside at the pool or in the yard. Water is a small, but important part of what makes our community a great place to live.I would appreciate your vote on November 5th so I can continue to serve our community and ensure that WaterOne will meet your water needs now and in the future. Thank you for your support and vote! TerryMelanie KraftAfter completing my undergraduate degrees in Biology and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, I worked for two years in a Biochemistry laboratory using the same equipment that WaterOne uses to test for contaminants. No other board member has this training and experience in biochemistry or biochemical testing. I completed my Medical School training at University of Texas Medical School in Houston, TX at the Texas Medical Center , the largest medical complete in the world, where MD Anderson is located. I completed my family medicine residency program in Kansas City, MO at Trinity Lutheran Family Medicine Residency Program.After 27 years of practicing medicine as a family physician, I know that there is nothing more important than clean air and clean water to your healthcare. As a family physician, I have spent my entire career teaching and educating patients about their health and healthcare. I have experience and training in diseases, bacteria, algae, fungal and viral infections, and biochemistry that no one else on the board has. I want to use that training and experience to enhance your knowledge about ensuring your water supply system because clean, safe water is a building block to good health. On the WaterOne corporate board, I can help educate large numbers of our population, instead of serving patients one by one as I have for 27 years as a family physician.I obtained my MBA from Rockhurst University in Kansas City in 2007 because I wanted to know more about the administrative side of healthcare. Furthermore, I have also incorporated Occupational Medicine in my medical practice by obtaining additional training as a Medical Review Officer for DOT (the U.S. Department of Transportation) drug testing,FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which deals with truck drivers, bus drivers, railroad workers, etc.) DOT Medical Examiner, and FAA Aviation Medical Examiner.I have been an Overland Park resident for 25 years and my unique training and experience would enhance the WaterOne Board in ways in which I hope will ensure clean and safe water for you, your children and your grandchildren. I will use my skills that I used to succeed in medicine to now focus on water education and conservation of our natural resources.Water District Board Member 2Greg MitchellEducationally, I hold a Bachelor degree in Computer Information Systems from Colorado State University, a Master degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Kansas Medical Center; and a Master degree of Business Administration/Operations Management from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.Professionally, I have spent the last 25 years working in health care serving several different capacities within finance and operations. I bring a wealth of experience managing CAPEX (Capital Expenditures) and OPEX (Operational Expenditures) within some of the most highly complex healthcare organizations in our region. I have developed and analyzed business plans and I know the pitfalls of forecasting and projections.The most important thing I bring to the table is a combination of business acumen, understanding of scientific concepts and a lack of historical bias. There is something to be said for tenure, but the board has too many members who have served twenty plus years. And while I find that level of service and years of dedication laudable, I also understand that there is an inherent bias which lead people to vest too much in the status quo.My motivation for seeking a seat on the water board is that I am interested in serving and I am interested in good governance. Additionally, I do not believe that a seat on the water board should be a life-long appointment. The incumbent (for position 2) has served the board for 24 years with little or no competition. I think it is time to add a fresh perspective to the board. Additionally, I am concerned about the phenomena in Johnson county whereby individuals hold municipal and legislative seats simultaneously. My opponent for WaterOne board is also my current State Senator. There is no reason for service to be consolidated into the hands of a few people. I know that Johnson County has many individuals who are qualified to serve; I am one of those people.I have lived in Kansas City for nearly 25 years but I grew up and spent the early part of my life in Denver. When you come from a place that averages 17” of rain per year, you appreciate that water is scarce and precious. To me, water has a similar level of awareness as public schools. For someone with my background who is interested in serving, running for the water board is as natural as running for the school board.Robert Olson (incumbent)Based on my skills I have developed being a part of many boards and elected positions, I am confident that I can continue to provide value to the WaterOne board and the customers we serve. In the past 8900 days, I have been a part of serving on the WaterOne board. I have served as a two time Chairman, Vice chairman of the board, and chairman of many other committees. I have been a part of the AWWA board and taken many seminars on learning the finances, treatment process, water loss, and much more.I also served in the Kansas State House for 6 years and was a two time Majority Whip. I have served 9 years in the Kansas State Senate where I served as Utilities Committee Chair, Legislative Post Audit Chair, Financial Institutions and Insurance, and various other committees that have helped with my experience.In my person life I have been a board member at Bank of the Prairie for the past 11 years. I also own a real estate company that develops multi-family housing. I have been a lifelong resident of Kansas and raised my family in Johnson County.I choose to continue to run for the WaterOne board because I enjoy serving the people of my community and working with them on the issues. My top priorities are to supply the people with the safest water that meets and exceeds all federal and state regulations. I want our water to be available at the lowest cost with the best customer service now and in the future. It is my mission everyday that we continue to provide these services, our employees do a good job for the community, and that we provide a safe work environment for each employee working at WaterOne.Water District Board Member 6Dave Vander VeenI have spent over thirty years working as a commercial banking executive. Prior to entering banking I spent over ten years on active duty as a member of the United States Air Force. I earned a B.S. in Business/Finance from Utica College of Syracuse University. I believe success is measured by what an individual has actually accomplished in the past and presently, not simply by a degree one possess or from a certification received after attending a twelve hour seminar. I have been attending monthly WaterOne board meetings, finance committee meetings and administrative meetings since February and have gotten to know the WaterOne management team so that when elected I can hit the ground running.During my time in the Air Force I served in an operational role with the Tactical Air Command. I was responsible for managing individuals and assets in a high stress air defense environment both nationally and internationally. Achieving success meant that I had to effectively interact with both my peers serving in other U.S. military branches and those from other countries, in order to accomplish the mission.My current role is President, Chief Commercial Officer, and Board Member, of Freedom Bank in Overland Park, KS. Freedom Bank opened its doors on June 19, 2006 and is locally owned and managed. The bank has supported locally owned, privately held businesses by providing over $250 million in commercial loans since opening the doors. My role requires that I possess the skills to actively engage in the following: business development/portfolio management; asset/liability management; annual business planning, which includes developing the budget and then achieving it; business continuity planning; personnel management; enterprise risk management; project planning, launch and success; vendor management; and conflict resolution.Based on the skill set I have developed, I am confident I will provide value to the team at WaterOne and to the customers. Clearly, everyone wants a sustainable source of clean and safe drinking water. Prior to deciding to run for this seat, I mentioned to friends that I was searching for a way to give back to the community and it was suggested that given my skill set, serving on the WaterOne board would be great way to do this. My wife and I moved our family to the area in 1992 and it is our home.Whitney WilsonRelevant Experience: I am the only certified Public Water Official by the American Water Works Association running in the WaterOne race. Certified Public Water Official training provides policy and budget education to professionals on water and sewer operating environments, source water, system components, operations, maintenance, and asset management. Public Water Officials also have an understanding of the regulatory environment and system metrics to reduce risk and improve decision making.As a Population Health Executive at Cerner, I work with Healthcare Clients who are focused on keeping the communities they interact with healthy. Public health themes and working with Clients through complex budget considerations are integral to my daily work. The majority of healthcare costs stem from personal behaviors, socio-economic conditions, and changes to the environmental. Thus, clean air and clean water are prerequisites for a healthy community.Also, I have community board experience serving on the board of The Hispanic Chamber of Greater Kansas City and ReDiscover Mental Health Foundation. I received my Executive M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and completed my undergraduate degree in International Affairs and Spanish from Marquette University.Primary Motivation: I have two motivations for running for the WaterOne board.First, the rapidly changing climate requires active leadership to protect our water supply and ensure our water is clean for our community to drink. Water is a scarce commodity that will become increasingly so. Additional sustainability measures will need to be applied.Second, since the 1980’s American’s have dealt with a sharp decline in water infrastructure improvements. Decaying infrastructure and poor planning triggered lead poisoning and legionnaires disease in Flint, Michigan. All of this was 100% preventable. At least 500,000 children across the country have elevated levels of lead in their system today. This outcome is unacceptable for our families.On October 10th, the EPA was ordered to roll back requirements on lead testing and infrastructure resolution that will endanger our population’s health. We need to continue testing for traditional contaminants, and we also need to do strategic testing for other factors that have reached water supplies. Heavy metals, farm chemical runoff, endocrine disruptors, HABs, PFAS, micro-plastics, etc. do not belong in any water supply. As your WaterOne board member, I will work to exceed the national standards and abide by the training I received by the AWWA.Ullyses WrightI am a graduate of Langston University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agriculture Economics. My past work experiences provided great training, and developed skill sets for serving as Board Member at Water District 1. While employed as an Oklahoma State University County Extension Agent, I served on a committee studying the water table of the Ogallala Aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. Also as a Senior Sales Representative for BASF Corporation in the state of Kansas I promoted conservation practices that reduced chemical runoff into the streams and waterways. As a former US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works employee we received training that included water resource development, flood risk management, recreation, infrastructure and environmental stewardship. More recently as a Supplier Diversity Specialist at Sprint, I worked to ensure Small and Diverse Vendors were certified, and any Sprint spend could then be counted as Diverse Spend.Having clean safe drinking water, and being a good Steward is all our responsibility. Let us not forget Flint, Michigan, and now Newark, New Jersey. Clean drinking water is important to everyone’s health, and that is why I am a candidate for Board Member Position #6 at Water District 1 of Johnson County, Kan. Water District Board Member 7Mark Parkins (incumbent)I am an engineer by degree and have spent my entire career in the water industry. I have interacted with Owners (such as WaterOne, BPU, Topeka and Omaha, etc.), Engineers (such as Black & Veatch, Burns & McDonnell, GBA, etc.), contractors and water works distributors. Additionally, I worked in the water treatment chemical industry and have personal knowledge about additives that go into public water systems. My expertise spans the Plains States and my knowledge about municipal water systems in the region is extensive. Simply said, I know water and water systems.My motivation as a Board Member at WaterOne is to serve the public. My parents were involved in public service as leaders in developing one of the largest YMCAs in the northeast. They set an example of public service that I know I can carry forward in my service to WaterOne as a Board member. I do not pursue this position to seek other office. I am a water expert with opinions and experience in behalf of the ratepayers, for the benefit of WaterOne.As an adult resident in Johnson County for more than 37 years, I have made my home and career in this area. I know how important a role WaterOne has played in the growth and progress of Johnson County. Safe, plentiful and economical water is accepted as a given. That would not be the case without good guidance, leadership and just plain hard work from the Board and all the employees of WaterOne. I intend to build on that foundation with long range planning that will continue our success and nationally recognized sustainability.Chris StelzerI have a mechanical engineering degree from Iowa State University. I have experience evaluating processes or equipment to meet performance requirements and cost effectiveness. I believe my technical training along with an almost compulsive curiosity would be well suited to act on a board charged with overseeing such a critical component of public health and safety.
Pinterest Share on Twitter The team at IRB Barcelona has studied the aggregation of two of the most common variants of Abeta, namely Abeta 40 and Abeta 42, with 40 and 42 amino acids, respectively, the latter being the variant most closely associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The literature reports that while Abeta 40 self-aggregates to sequentially form dimers (two units), trimers (three units) and tetramers (four units), Abeta 42 self-aggregates to form pentamers (five units) and hexamers (six units). These findings have been cited more than 1000 times and consequently numerous studies have been based on this premise. However, IRB Barcelona researchers Rosa Pujol-Pina and Sílvia Vilaprinyó-Pascual, the first two authors of the study, have observed that Abeta 40 and Abeta 42 goes through exactly the same aggregation states.The authors uphold that the results published to date are biased by the technique most widely used to study Aβ aggregates. The technique in question, SDS-PAGE, is characterised by the need for a small amount of sample and therefore is used for more straightforward studies. Using a new approach based on mass spectrometry and computational modelling and in collaboration with the IRB Barcelona groups headed by Marta Vilaseca and Modesto Orozco, respectively, Dr. Carulla’s team has observed that both Abeta 40 and Abeta 42 form dimers, trimers and tetramers and that in these initial stages these aggregates are spherical lacking defined structure.“The structure that we have observed challenges the kind of structure accepted until now, the so-called beta-sheet. It should be noted that up to now drug design has been based on the premise of interfering with the beta-sheet structure. We believe that this strategy should be reconsidered and recommend caution when using SDS-PAGE to study Abeta oligomers,” states Sílvia Vilaprinyó-Pascual. The experiments on aggregation have been performed with several techniques, including SDS-PAGE. “This study will lead to reservations on the part of the scientific community and that is why we have been thorough and present methodologically robust data,” says Natàlia Carulla.Carulla’s team is now working on the identification of therapeutic molecules that prevent the formation of the first amyloid beta aggregates. Share LinkedIn Share on Facebook Email Scientific Reports, a Nature group journal, has recently published results that challenge the findings of studies to date on the initial aggregates formed by amyloid beta, a protein closely associated with the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease.Headed by Natàlia Carulla, a specialist in biomedical chemistry at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), the study focuses on the number of molecules and shape that this protein has when it begins to aggregate, a process that leads to the so-called Abeta fibrils, the main components of the plaques observed in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.“Comprehensive knowledge of the number of units and conformation of Abeta at the initial stages of aggregation is crucial for the design of drugs capable of breaking them up or preventing their formation,” explains Natàlia Carulla.
Norwegian owner of offshore support vessels, Siem Offshore, has secured a contract for one of its Platform Supply Vessels.The contract with Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras is for the ‘Siem Giant’ vessel. The charter will begin in September 2015, and is for a firm period of one year.Petrobras has an option to extend the charter for one additional year. The Siem Giant was delivered to its owner last year from Vard Niterói yard in Brazil.
Stephen Hanson, Mansfield I fully endorse Trevor F Moore’s comments (see  Gazette, 3 December, 11), with regard to the pointlessness of being a solicitor. I decided on a career change in the mid-90s, went to university, studied hard for three years before another year of study for the legal practice diploma, all at great cost and very difficult to achieve with a young family to support. Then it was two years of the training contract and being told to work on files and conclude matters that no one else in the practice could be bothered with. The rewards? A modest salary, plenty of stress, and this year – after eight years of practice – being made redundant in favour of an unqualified conveyancing clerk. I am still out of work, and like many other conveyancing solicitors in a similar position find that firms either ignore applications for employment, or are simply looking to save money and recruit paralegals, legal executives or clerks to do the conveyancing. In 1997, this government, ironically made up of many lawyers, started the downward spiral of the profession. We are now over-regulated and forced to compete with other institutions. Furthermore, it is only a matter of time before the public will be able to obtain legal services at the supermarket with their weekly shop, thus further eroding the integrity and independence of the profession.
Robert Bourns is senior partner at national law firm TLT Visit the Gazette’s blogs page for more In Business blogs A strong feature of 2010 was the growing debate about legal process outsourcing (LPO), offshoring and commoditising. To some practitioners this is anathema: a deskilling and cheapening of the practice of law. Others see it, more positively, as a separation of the repetitive, low value and boring work, allowing lawyers to apply their minds and time to complex, stimulating and more satisfying work which will command higher fees. Practitioners are right to reflect on the issues of separation and the value clients attach to the work undertaken. Many years ago we were invited to consider the effect of the ‘3Es’ – Expertise, Experience and Efficiency – on how we practise. Reflection on this may avoid practitioners placing demarcation lines between areas of work in the wrong place or assuming that they are fixed. The ‘3Es’ describe the way we do things, rather than categorising the work itself. They apply to all work however defined, whether complex advisory or volume and impact in different proportions from time to time. The first attempt at a complex transaction will require significant intellectual expertise to ensure all aspects, commercial, corporate and regulatory are dealt with appropriately and thoroughly to protect the client’s interest. Subsequent transactions can be dealt with more quickly and with greater confidence as practitioners capitalise on their earlier experience. Over time they can be expected to apply their expertise and experience to deal with cases more efficiently and, therefore, more economically. Certain elements of the transaction can be dealt with by less highly qualified personnel, reducing cost and freeing more experienced personnel to move on to other transactions. This is nothing new: it’s a method of production that has been the backbone of the traditional law firm structure for years. The process is inexorable and common to all services and sectors. The use of technology and the opportunity to relocate operations to other jurisdictions quickens the pace and rewards for those who take advantage, and increases the risk of failure by those who can’t or won’t. It underlies the client’s push for value. They see the benefits of efficiency in their own businesses and believe the legal services sector is susceptible to the same opportunities. Those preparing to invest in the provision of legal services will demonstrate the point. Practitioners who separate ‘low value’ work, but otherwise carry on as before, will remain vulnerable as they may be inclined to think that they have done what needs to be done. Fundamentally, there is a need to recognise not only the expertise in extracting maximum benefit from the experience of able lawyers, but also the real expertise required to manage and supervise the work carried on within a firm. This is an expertise that many lawyers do not have and are too often inclined to dismiss. Historically, many complaints and claims against solicitors can be attributed to failures in supervision. Firms that attempt to create a leaner structure, forcing work to ‘an appropriate level’ and/or to operate at greater volumes, must ensure that work is undertaken by appropriately qualified/trained people, operating robust systems, that are properly supervised. There is real expertise in this, which must be recognised if client matters are to be carried out effectively and profitably. Many principles of outcomes-focused regulation require this. Those who accept the effect of the ‘3Es’ will recognise that the proportion of each element required in any piece of work or area of practice will alter from time to time, as experience and client expectation push for ever greater efficiency or other changes require a rebalancing. For example, a change in legislation, regulation or practice will require the reintroduction of the technical skills of a highly qualified lawyer to review process, practices and procedures (as well as to provide training to those involved day-to-day) but, having done so, the technical expertise in terms of personnel can be withdrawn and applied to other more complex work, allowing the expertise of effective supervision and work management to carry on, providing benefit to the client and firm. In short, successful legal service providers (whether existing firms or new entrants) are entitled to take the benefits of their expertise and experience, including their expertise in effective work management and supervision.
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A production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is being performed by the Stagecraft Drama Studio at the Artscape until Friday June 28, at 10.30am daily, except Sundays. The well-known children’s fairy tale, directed by Cheryl Abromowitz and Caryn Reznik, is recommended for children from two years and up. Children can dress up as a prince or princess on Saturday June 22 and stand a chance to win a lucky prize. Tickets cost R90 each with a10% discount for block bookings of 20 tickets or more. Book at Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.