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Weekly News 7.23.12 & 7.30.12
Due to the OWIN Summer meeting last week, the
reports for 7.23 and 7.30 have been combined.
In this edition:
- Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Transitional Work
Grants Now Available - The Ohio BWC announced that it is now taking applications from employers
for a new grant program to assist employers with developing transitional
work programs that return employees to work or keep them working in some
capacity following an injury. The grants provide funds to help
employers design programs for their employees to get them back to work as
soon as possible. The 3-1 matching grants are available to companies
with more than 11 employees, although BWC will directly assist smaller
companies with plans. For companies with 11-49 employees, the
maximum grant amount is $2,900; with 50-199 employees, $5,200; and more
than 200 employees, $6,300. One catch – employers are required to
hire a BWC-accredited
transitional work developer. The BWC website has information
on the whole transitional work program.
- Hardwood Leader Notes - The following are notes from the August issue of the Hardwood Leader, from
- Due to a robust export market and steady domestic
market along with strong demand for industrial timber, some in the
industry are concerned that supply could become a problem this fall and
winter. Once housing starts to break out of its slump, demand could
become significantly out of balance with supply.
- May hardwood lumber exports hit 121 million BF, the
highest in 6 years. Germany
and the United Kingdom
have significantly increased imports of American hardwoods. Lumber
exports to China
were over 46 MMBF, a monthly record. Turkey
both have emerging export markets for US hardwoods.
- May showed a sharp jump in hardwood lumber imports to
the US with a 23%
increase from Canada.
Chinese shipments of solid hardwood flooring to the US set a 4-year record, with
the majority being prefinished.
- The June CPI remained mostly unchanged due to
declining energy prices and increasing food and other service prices.
- US residential furniture factory shipments in April
posted a 7% increase from the same the same period in 2011.
- US consumer confidence has fallen for the 4th consecutive month while China’s
second quarter growth was the lowest in 3 years.
- Single family starts, permits, and home sales were all
up in May over April; sales were strong in the northeast with declines in
the Midwest and west.
- The 12 month trend in single-family home sales is up
- 30-year fixed rate mortgages are at all-time lows;
economists believe the elections will help keep rates low due to the
inherent uncertainty of election cycles.
- US manufacturing employment slowed in the second
quarter 2012 after gains in the first quarter; durable wood products
manufacturing employment dropped sharply from Feb. - June, 2012 negating
gains from the previous 7 months.
- Wood component manufacturing is beginning to pick up
again after a drastic fall during the last few years. According to
the Wood Components Manufacturers Association, employment is increasing
in 2012 and expected to continue in 2013 driven by housing increases and
increased demand for cabinets, millwork, flooring, and stairs.
- Electric Rate News - This past week, PUCO approved First Energy’s electric security plan (ESP)
which will run through May 2016 and will continue to base electricity
prices on a series of 4 competitive auctions through the plan
period. The plan will "blend” probable higher auction prices with
current lower prices over the period of the ESP that according to PUCO
will provide more stable prices to consumers. During the period of
the ESP distribution rates will remain frozen. In other news, the
current excessively high temperatures have resulted in extremely high
electric usage. Electric utilities in the eastern US fired up
reserve plants to meet the energy demand. The wholesale price of
electricity skyrocketed to nearly $800 per megawatt-hour, which is nearly
20 times the usual cost. In addition, "demand response” programs
kicked in on Tuesday, July 17 for many participating companies who were
ordered to power down for a period of time. Under demand response
programs, companies receive monthly payments year round for agreeing to
power down during rare periods of excessive demand. A number of OFA
manufacturers participate in demand response programs. Here is an article
from the Columbus Dispatch that talks about the recent action.
- New ALB Find Outside Quarantine Area - The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA)
announced last week that it has found the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) in
Stonelick Township of Clermont County, which is outside and to the north
of the previous quarantine area in Tate Township.
ODA believes that this new location was the result of firewood movement in
2010 prior to the quarantine. You can read more about the
announcement in this ODA news release.
- Earth First! Shuts Down Marcellus Drilling Site on Pennsylvania State Forest - The Pennsylvania Forest Products Association
reported recently that Earth First! shut down a Marcellus gas drilling
site for a 12-hour period during a protest. Following the July 4
holiday, about 100 Earth First! protesters took part in rigging tree
sitters and constructing a debris barrier to block road access to a
drilling site on Moshannon State Forest
The tree sitters and protesters were removed from the site by local police
and enforcement personnel. The following weekend Earth First!
organized an event in Ohio
- NEOFA July Newsletter - Here is the Northeast Ohio Forestry Association July 2012
Newsletter. The Newsletter has information on plans for a special
daytrip on August 11, 2012 to Mercer, Pennsylvania to visit the Tree Farm of
George Freeman who has planted American chestnut trees for several years,
in cooperation with the American Chestnut Foundation. The newsletter
has all the details of the trip and includes information for other
activities while there. The newsletter also has information on the
May meeting, a chainsaw training update, NEOFA-organized EQIP project on
the Pugh Farm near Hartville, an explanation of trees and the water cycle
and the current drought, and other articles on tree topping and insects.
- Nation’s Largest Biomass Power Plant Goes On-line in Texas - Last week, the Southern Company announced that
the nation’s largest biomass power plant has started operating in northeast
and will be fueled primarily by traditional "wood waste.” The 100
megawatt facility will consume wood-based biomass fuels consisting of
sawmill and other wood manufacturing waste, forest waste, and
pre-commercial thinnings. The article
on the plant does not indicate the amount of wood needed annually to
operate the facility at capacity.
- State Forest Open Houses - The ODNR Division of Forestry will host a series of 3 Open Houses from
July 24 to August 1 to go over annual work plans. You can find more
information about the open
houses on the DOF website.
- OWIN Summer Meeting - We had a very successful OWIN Summer Meeting this past week July 25-26 in Marietta. This
is the third year in a row that the meeting was held here.
- On Wednesday, July 25, following an OFA Board meeting
in the morning, a group toured the Globe Metallurgical plant in Beverly,
Ohio. This was a fascinating (and hot!) tour of the facility for
everyone to see how the facility makes metallurgical and chemical-grade
silicon metal and silicon-based specialty alloys. These products
then are used in a wide range of industrial and consumer products such as
silicone compounds, aluminum, solar cells, automotive parts,
semiconductors, and so on. Interestingly, the facility uses 225
tons of wood chips a day, 365 days per year. The wood is used to
create the necessary structure and carbon mix for the smelting process.
- Following the tour, a large group again enjoyed a
relaxing reception on the Valley Gem Sternwheeler as it spent a leisurely
2 hours on the Ohio River. As we
left dock to start the cruise, our group was treated to the simultaneous
launching of the American Queen Steamboat which had been docked overnight
outside the Lafayette Hotel.
- On Thursday, attendees enjoyed a day of either golf at
Lakeside Golf Course or clay shooting at Hilltop Sports. All made
it through the very warm day before thunderstorms hit in late afternoon
and enjoyed an awards banquet before heading home.
- Many sincere thanks are due to all who sponsored
activities over the two days. The following is our sponsor list:
- Globe Tour Bus – Superior Hardwoods of Ohio, Inc.
- Valley Gem Riverboat / Reception – Industrial
Timber and Lumber Co., Yoder Lumber Company, Inc, Haessly Hardwood
- Golf and Clay Shoot Reception and Dinner - Glatfelter,
Salamanca Lumber Company
- Golf and Clay Shoot Beverages – Ohio Valley
- Golf Hole Sponsors: Armstrong Hardwood Flooring,
Associated Hardwoods, Berlin Lumber, LLC, Brenneman Lumber Co., Buckeye
Resources, Columbus Equipment Co., DJM Hardwoods and Veneer, Eagle
Hardwood, Inc., Glatfelter, Gutchess Lumber Co., Haessly Hardwood Lumber
Co., Hummel Group, Inc., Interforest Lumber, ISK Biocides, Inc.,
Mullican Flooring, Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co., Ohio Valley
Veneer, Inc., Ray H. Miller dba McKay Hardwoods, Rudd Equipment Co.,
Superior Hardwoods of Ohio, Inc., Troyer Lumber LLC, Trumbull County
Hardwood Ltd., and United Hardwoods.
- Clay Station Sponsors: American Lumber Co., Berlin
Lumber, LLC, Brenneman Lumber Co., Cantwell Machinery Co., Columbia
Flooring, Columbus Equipment Co., Glatfelter, H. Dewey Thompson
Financial Svc. Ltd, Hummel Group, Inc., Interforest Lumber, ISK
Biocides, Inc., Ray H. Miller Logging dba McKay Hardwoods, Rolling Ridge
Woods Ltd., and S&J Lumber Co.,
- Legislative & Policy
Road Actions - This past Thursday the
US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee scheduled a mark-up
on HR 2541, The Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act. This act
deals with logging roads and making sure that roads continued to be
considered as non-point sources of pollution by the US EPA. Congressman
Bob Gibbs and Congresswoman Jean Schmidt are on the T&I
Committee. Cong. Gibbs has already agreed to co-sponsor this
legislation, but Cong. Schmidt has not yet done so. OFA worked last
week to get her sponsorship on the bill, which currently has 61
bi-partisan sponsors. OFA will continue to seek her sponsorship.
- Lacey Act Amendment Vote Cancelled - The House Republican leadership last week
cancelled plans for a vote on HR 3210, the RELIEF Act (The Retailers and
Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Act). This is a
controversial bill that proposed changes to the Lacey Act affecting the
importation of illegally harvested wood. On the surface it aims to
protect American wood manufacturing, but many forest products interests
believe that it will weaken the Lacey Act and lead to unintended
consequences. OFA had taken a position with many others in the
industry against the proposed bill. Here is a recent article
from The Tennessean as well as a statement
from the National Hardwood Flooring Association that explains the
issue and concerns.
- Farm Bill Stalled - The drought across the US
has reportedly caused the House to abandon efforts to pass the new 5-year
Farm Bill before recessing in August. Farm interests would like to
see the bill passed before fall elections as the new bill re-tools the
farm commodity programs into a risk management program which would kick
in with the severe growing conditions 2012 have produced. Te
current bill is set to expire in September.
- Republican Polling Group Says Ohioans Opposed to
Kasich Oil and Gas Severance Tax Plan - Magellan Strategies found that Ohioans were leery of the governor’s
proposed tax hike on the oil and gas industry.
- Although the proposed tax funds would be used to
lower income taxes, nearly 3 in 4 believe that the increased severance
tax would get passed on to the public.
- One out of 2 thought the best way to fund an income
tax cut is to lower spending.
- The poll found that Ohioans in general don’t support
tax hikes on small business energy entrepreneurs, farmers, and
- The poll also found that local tax levies are opposed
65% to 26%
- Ohio Pending Single-Family Home Sales Rose in June for the
14th Consecutive Month - The Ohio Association of Realtors is reporting continued growth in Ohio single family
home sales. Pending sales for June 2012 were 16.5% higher than June
- Ohio House 21st Century Manufacturing Task
Force to Hold Local Business Forums - A bipartisan panel of Ohio House representatives will host a series of
local business forums from August 9 to November 15 around Ohio to look at ways to improve Ohio’s competitiveness. The
sessions will start with a tour of the host facility at 10 AM and will be
followed by presentations from 1:30 to 5:00 PM. The following are
dates and locations: August 9, Timken Company, Canton;
September 27, Owens-Illinois, Maumee;
October 11, Pentaflex, Springfield;
October 18, DuPont, Circleville; November 15, Worthington
The forums are open to businesses and the public and there will be
presentations from business experts and time for public comments.
- Chillicothe VA Hospital Unveils New Biomass Boiler System - Here is an article
from the Chillicothe Gazette that describes the wood fired combined
heat and power (CHP) system recently installed at the Veterans Administration
Hospital in Chillicothe. It has been in the
works for several years and on a couple occasions, the engineer had
reached out to OFA for information on wood sources.
- Oberlin College Biomass Proposal - At the same time this system was announced, OFA
was contacted last week about a potential similar facility development at Oberlin College. AFS Energy Systems
is an energy contractor for Oberlin
College in Lorain County.
AFS is working on plans to develop a wood-fired system at the school and
is in the process of sourcing wood for the facility. OFA has been
asked if any member companies may be interested in looking at the
project. Any contractor or company interested in information on this
can contact the OFA office for more information.
- Watch Out for West Nile Virus - The Ohio Department of
Health (ODH) has confirmed Ohio’s first
case of West Nile Virus in Clermont
County this past
week. ODH has been monitoring for the presence of the virus and has
found 374 mosquito pools with the virus so far this year, a sharp increase
from the same period in 2002 when West Nile Virus caused 31 fatalities in Ohio. This
year is stacking up to be a bad one for West Nile Virus infections.
You can read
a summary of suggested actions to take to prevent infections.
Thought-Provoking Article on Selling the Value of Wood
to the Public…and How We Miss the Mark - Here
is a brief, but very good article on why the public doesn’t readily
buy our arguments on the value of wood as a "green” product. The
author makes the point that those in the wood industry are making the
wrong arguments at the wrong time when trying to sell the benefits of
wood. The author argues that the public will not hear our
environmental message until they can first "trust” the industry and
identify with it. To make his points, he uses the example of the
"insurance gecko” that GEICO uses for marketing. I have often
wondered about that advertising and its effectiveness. But it makes
more sense when you read the article and understand how it plays out in
- SOFA August Newsletter - Attached is the August newsletter of the
Southern Ohio Forestland Association. Included in the newsletter is
information on the July 12 general meeting which involved a presentation by
Randy Sanders on milling your own logs, notes from Chairman Wayne Oney, tick
concerns, Asian Longhorned beetle finds, and upcoming events on August 10 at
the Vinton Furnace Forest on Measuring Trees and August 11 at the Wayne and
Benita Tree Farm to get ready for the Tree Farm of the Year Tour.
- Upcoming Events
- Lumber Grading Short Course / Walnut Grading Short
Course, August 20-24, 2012. This is a reminder that you can still register for a 4-day Lumber grading
short course as well as a 1-day Walnut Grading Short Course to be held
the week of August 24. The course will be held at the Yoder Lumber
Co. Buckhorn mill. You can register for both or either of the two
courses. You can register
on-line at the OFA website. Or you can call the OFA office at
614-497-9580 to register.
- Lumberman’s Outing, September 5, 2012, The Pines Golf
Course, Orrville, and Lost Bird Sporting Clays, Fredericksburg. Now that the OWIN Summer Meeting has concluded,
you can make plans for the fall Lumberman’s Outing. This event in
the past has been a charity fund raiser, but this year, the charity
benefit is very close to home. Proceeds of the event will go to the
Lumberman’s Benevolent Fund through the Charm Share ‘N Care. The
proceeds will benefit the Dan Raber family and the Laverne Raber
family. Dan and Laverne, members of OFA and the wood community were
lost earlier this year. Your participation in the outing will
benefit their families. Make plans now to attend and participate in
some way. You can register
at the OFA website.
- OFA Paul Bunyan Show, October 5-7, 2012, Guernsey County Fairgrounds.
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