Farmers worried about heavy rain forecast

Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012 @ 9:56 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 @ 9:59 PM

The prospect of heavy rains this weekend is not filling every farmer’s heart with joy.

Winegrape growers in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio are watching the remnants of Hurricane Isaac with a wary eye, because heavy rains at or near harvest can wreak havoc on the quality of the grapes and on the taste of the resulting wines.

WHIO-TV Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Jamie Simpson said even though the precise track of the former hurricane is not known, Isaac could dump two to five inches of rain on the area by the end of Labor Day. That would be a good first step toward easing the drought that has bedeviled farmers this summer.

But is also might complicate the harvest of certain varieties of wine grapes that are approaching peak maturity, Ohio winegrape specialists say. Prolonged rain at harvest time can cause thin-skinned grapes to expand and split their skins, which in turn can lead to rot or to unwanted attention from insects. And the water that gorges the grapes can knock the sugars and palate-friendly acids out of balance and dilute the flavors of the resulting wine.

Joe Schuchter, part of the third generation of the family that owns and operates Valley Vineyards near Morrow in Warren County, said vineyard workers there are accelerating the harvest of some grape varieties that have ripened sufficiently. “We’ll pick until the rain starts, and for a little while after, because it takes a while for the grapes to absorb the moisture,” Schuchter said.

The winery’s “vinifera” grapevines — varieties such as chardonnay and cabernet franc that are native to Europe and are most recognizable to consumers — ripen later in the fall and should weather this storm without damage, Schuchter said.

James Brandeberry, owner and winemaker of Brandeberry Winery in Clark County northwest of Yellow Springs, said he intends to leave his grapes on the vine. “They are not ready to pick yet,” Brandeberry said of his seyval blanc, vidal blanc and cayuga grape varieties growing in his estate vineyard. “I’ll take my chances.”

The ground is so dry that a heavy, brief rain may not soak into the ground enough to bloat the grapes, the winery owner said.

Todd Steiner, enology program manager and winemaking specialist at Ohio State University’s agricultural research center in Wooster, said the current rain forecast “is not a vintage-breaker” for Ohio winemakers and grape growers.

“But I wouldn’t want to see too many other Isaacs come through here and settle right over us” in the weeks ahead, Steiner said. “That would break the harvest.”

The Ohio wine and grape industry had an economic impact of $582.8 million, employed 4,000 people, provided a payroll of $124.2 million and contributed an estimated $62 million back in state, local and federal tax revenue, according to the industry’s 2008 Economic Impact report, its most recent impact report.

Death Wish coffee recalled over botulism concerns

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

Death Wish Coffee Recalled due to Botulism Concerns

Death Wish Coffee Company, a New York-based coffee producer that advertises itself as maker of the “world’s strongest coffee,” is recalling some of its products over concerns that it could become tainted with the deadly botulin toxin.

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Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a notice issued Tuesday that 11-ounce cans of Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew were being recalled after the company determined that the process used to make the drinks “could lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin botulin.”

Botulism is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning that can cause dizziness, double-vision, difficulty breathing, weakness and constipation, among other symptoms.

Company officials said in a notice posted to the Death Wish Coffee website that the recall was issued as a precaution and that no illnesses have been reported in connection to the drinks.

“Our customers’ safety is of paramount importance,” Death Wish Coffee Co. owner Mike Brown said in a statement. He said the recall was a “proactive step to ensure that the highest quality, safest and, of course, strongest coffee products we produce are of industry-exceeding standards.”

The process used to make the canned coffee, which is infused with nitrogen, is relatively new and little regulated, according to company officials. Death Wish Coffee Co. tested its method for producing the drinks for nearly four months, with the help of an outside process authority, before it got a recommendation to tweak its manufacturing process to ensure no botulin toxins are produced.

According to company officials, “With any nitrogen-based products on the market there is a remote possibility of the risk of Clostridium botulinum, a serious pathogen that can lead to the growth and production of the deadly toxin botulin in low-acid foods commercialized in reduced oxygen packaging.”

Death Wish Coffee Co. has halted production of its Nitro Cold Brew drinks as it adjusts its manufacturing process. Officials noted that, despite the concerns, “the company has passed all FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and state inspections since its founding.”

Any customers who have cans of Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew are asked to dispose of the drink or return it for a full refund.

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Equifax apologizes for sending people to fake company website

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 2:23 PM

The Equifax Breach – How To Find Out If You are at Risk

Equifax linked people to a fake online site that mimicked the link for its own site on its massive Sept. 7 security breach that affected 143 million Americans.

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After the breach, which involved Social Security numbers and other key identifying information, Equifax set up a site, equifaxsecurity2017.com, that directed people to information on the hacking incident and links to sign up for free credit monitoring and other protections the company is offering.

But in several tweets in recent days, a company employee directed people to a fake site that flipped the name of the site and sent people to a similar-appearing site.

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Rather than being a phishing site that could have reaped unsuspecting folks’ personal data yet again, it was set up by Nick Sweeting, a software engineer, according to news reports.

People who clicked on the link got this headline: “Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information Which is Totally Fake, Why Did Equifax Use A Domain That’s So Easily Impersonated By Phishing Sites?”

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Sweeting told the New York Times his site received more than 200,000 hits before he took it down Wednesday evening.

Equifax apologized for the mistake. “All posts using the wrong link have been taken down. To confirm, the correct website is https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. We apologize for the confusion,” the company said in a statement.

The company also warned people to watch for fake websites and emails targeting Equifax customers and people responding to the hacking incident.

Equifax Hacked Months Earlier Than Previously Admitted

“These scams, designed to capture personal information (known as “phishing”) are designed to appear as if they are from Equifax and the emails may link to websites purporting to be operated by Equifax,” said the company.

(Mike Stewart/AP)

Pet store that makes slow-cooked food opens new location in Miamisburg

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 11:21 AM

FILE
FILE

Pet Wants has opened a new store in Miamisburg.

The pet store, which is locally owned by Jackie and Ray Covington, has opened its new retial storefront at 38 Fiesta Lane and offers free, personal delivery to Franklin, Germantown, Miamisburg, West Carrollton, Moraine, Trotwood, Englewood, Vandalia, Clayton and the surrounding areas.

The store open on Sept. 2, and will host a grand-opening celebration on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m.

Pet Wants makes slow-cooked pet food in small batches with fresh ingredients every month, and the new store offers multiple blends of dog and cat foods. It also offers healing salve, calming balm, anti-itch spray and paw wax.

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300 DPL employees to be transfered to AES Ohio Generation

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 9:30 AM
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 12:26 PM


            DP&L’s battery storage facility is at Tait Station, a combustion turbine and diesel generator facility located in Dayton.
DP&L’s battery storage facility is at Tait Station, a combustion turbine and diesel generator facility located in Dayton.

Dayton Power & Light has sent out about 300 letters to union-represented power plant employees informing them that they will be employees of AES Ohio Generation as of Oct. 1.

Members are concerned, said Greg Adams, president of Local 175 of the Utility Workers Union of America. The letters are being distributed in the midst of contract negotiations, according to Adams.

“It’s the unknown,” he said. “The company has made some statements out there that have not been defined … All our questions have not been answered.”

The company’s contract with the union expires Oct. 31, Adams said.

The letters are being sent in the wake of a federal regulatory body’s approval of the transfer of DP&L power generation assets to an offshoot of the company that owns DP&L.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the transfer of the facilities late last month from the Dayton utility to AES Ohio Generation LLC.

“They explain that upon receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals for the proposed transaction and implementation of the proposed transaction, Dayton Power’s existing portfolio of generation assets will be owned by AES Ohio. This includes Dayton Power’s interests in 13 coal, oil, and gas-fired generating units and one solar unit, totaling 2,510 megawatts,” the FERC wrote in a Aug. 29 decision.

A company spokeswoman said with the enactment of Ohio Senate Bill 3 in 2000, separation of generation assets from the distribution and transmission business is part of deregulation of Ohio’s electricity market. Ohio law requires that DP&L separate its generation assets from the regulated utility, according to the spokeswoman. Other Ohio utilities have already completed this generation separation process.

All employees will transfer to AES Ohio Generation and will continue their daily jobs as they do today, Mary Ann Kabel, a DPL spokeswoman said in an email.

The transfer of employee does not affect customer rates, Kabel said.

RELATED: DP&L will move local jobs to Argentina

Last year, a spokesman for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, said the office is on guard against any attempt by DP&L to get consumers to “subsidize” the transfer to AES Ohio Generation. DP&L is owned by Arlington, Va.-based AES Corp.

In August 2016, DP&L filed at the FERC for approval to turn its mostly coal-fired power plants over to AES Ohio Generation.

RELATED: DPL to sell stake in three power plants

A message seeking comment was left with a spokesman for the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, a body which acts to represent Ohio utility customers.

Earlier this year, in a filing with the state, DP&L said it was committed to selling its ownership in three generation stations. The three stations are the Conesville station in Conesville, Ohio, Miami Fort in North Bend, Ohio and Zimmer in Moscow, Ohio. All three are coal-fired facilities.

And last week, DP&L acknowledged that it was sending about a dozen fiance and accounting jobs to Argentina.

“This is all stuff they have sprung on us in the past week as part of contract negotiations,” Adams said. “We have a ton of questions that they have failed to answer up to this point.”

DP&L has about 515,000 customers in 24 Western Ohio counties.