VBT Bicycling Vacations returns to its Vermont Roots

first_imgBRISTOL, VERMONT – Alan E. Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Grand Circle Corporation in Boston, announced that Gregg Marston has purchased Vermont Bicycle Tours Bicycling Vacation (VBT) from Grand Circle. Mr. Marston has served as VBT’s President since 1999.”We are delighted to have sold VBT to someone who shares our passion for adventurous, discovery-oriented travel experiences that have the power to change people’s lives,” said Lewis. “We know that VBT is in excellent hands.””As an avid traveler and bicycling enthusiast who has had the privilege of leading VBT for the past six years, I am very enthusiastic about the acquisition of VBT,” said Marston. “I look forward to continuing our efforts to offer the best bicycling vacation choices around the world, at the best value in the industry. Further, I am delighted to bring this company back to its roots in Vermont.”Established in Bristol Vermont in 1971, VBT Bicycling Vacations is the oldest bicycle touring company in the USA. The company specializes in deluxe bicycling vacations throughout the Europe, the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Additionally, VBT offers several bicycling and barge vacations throughout Holland, Belgium, and France in conjunction with Continental Waterways, a Grand Circle subsidiary. VBT will serve nearly 4,500 travelers in 2005.Headquartered in Bristol, Vermont, VBT has regional offices in Italy, France and England, and will continue to develop bicycle vacations throughout Europe, North America and other destinations throughout the world. VBT can be reached in Vermont at 1-800-245-3868 or at www.vbt.com(link is external).last_img read more

Read More

It’s time to reconsider appraisal guidelines and regulations

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Pablo Aabir Das Pablo is a strategy advisor for Reggora, the modern appraisal technology platform that mortgage lenders and appraisal vendors both love. Reggora uses the latest technology, integrations, and automation to streamline … Web: www.reggora.com Details The influx of new technology into the mortgage industry over the past decade has dramatically changed how lenders, buyers, and vendors conduct their business. However, while technology is pushing the boundaries of age old practices in an effort to establish new industry paradigms, laws and regulations have not necessarily kept pace. This divide between what is possible through technology but restricted by law is perhaps most evident in the appraisal industry, where recent legislation designed to protect the integrity of the appraisal has also come with unintended consequences. Laws and guidelines like the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, the Appraiser Independence Requirements, and the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines have all served as warranted regulations on the appraisal industry, but have also led to an industry that is skeptical of technology or automation. As a result, due to concerns over compliance, today’s industry has layers of redundancies and manual processes that lead to fragmentation, opacity, and significant delays. The sudden prominence of third-party intermediaries like appraisal management companies are an example of this fragmentation. Similarly, the concept of manual “appraisal checklists” – checklists that underwriters need to cross off when reviewing an appraisal – are considered the status quo when reviewing an appraisal before its final delivery. However, after more than a decade since the housing crisis, it’s time for regulatory agencies to recognize that the appraisal industry is poised for a technological overhaul and to reconsider appraisal compliance in an effort to move the industry to a more digitized future. In this endeavor, the industry will likely experience greater transparency, a vastly improved buyer experience, and even a more rigorous review of appraisals themselves. Working cooperatively with government-sponsored enterprises and regulators, financial technology companies can come up with ways to maintain the same level of risk and caution, yet still digitize and automate the existing appraisal process. For starters, even when regulators are loosening rules around appraisal regulations, it seems like they are adopting a “one foot in one foot out” approach to the process. For example, in situations where appraisal waivers are offered and an automated valuation is accepted, lenders are often still required to send a site-inspector to the property to confirm that everything checks out. Alternatively, Broker Price Opinions – a broker’s opinion of the home value – are also scrutinized as a valuation option. This is especially true in the credit union space where examiners are skeptical of alternative valuations even for back-end purposes such as removing mortgage insurance. This hesitation is concerning, especially when it appears that the future of appraisals will not be centered around the age old workflow of every home requiring a full in-person appraisal. Instead, the onus will be on the broker or seller to quickly take pictures of their home, upload those into a portal where an appraiser can conduct a thorough valuation that goes through an automated underwriting engine and is delivered to the lender within hours or days, not weeks. The underlying fear around accepting hybrid models for appraisals is that the valuation will be somehow inaccurate. However, as both big data and technology develop, more advanced systems that involve mobile applications, drone visuals, and more can account for many of the feared discrepancies. In fact, there is a clear benefit to appraisers as well – if an appraiser spend less time driving around and inspecting properties and instead dedicates that time to conducting property research and comparable sales analysis, the industry might benefit from more comprehensive appraisal products as well.Additionally, there is no doubt that the appraiser will still play a critical role throughout this process. With a risk-conscious approach to appraisals, standard and uniform properties like urban condos or refinanced properties with prior appraisals can be the initial testing grounds for a more automated approach. On the other hand, complex properties that require appraisal expertise will still need to be appraised – indicating that there will still be a need for appraisers in the field in several circumstances. With an eye on the horizon, it’s prudent for regulatory agencies to rethink the guidelines and laws that limit the ability for technology to thrive and revamp the appraisal industry. Working with new technology platforms and forward-thinking lenders, the industry can craft a new set of guidelines that will remain risk-conscious and ensure compliance, but allow for a new era of appraisal technology to emerge. last_img read more

Read More

Joseph Mariathasan: Venezuela – is the risk priced in?

first_imgThe late Hugo Chavez, elected President in 1998, undertook a radical nationalisation program and set up programmes to expand access to healthcare, food, housing, and education. That resulted in shifting masses out of poverty, but it relied on record-high oil prices and a quintupling of its external debt position between 2004 and 2013.The post-Chavez government, still referred to as Chavista, has proved to be a disaster in its economic mismanagement and in its attacks on the institutions that underpin democracy. Economic output has fallen by roughly 25% since 2013 and inflation in 2016 is estimated to have been around 400%. Society has become more violent, not only through protests and harsh reactions by the government but through criminality and an escalating murder rate.Oil production, critical for generating foreign exchange required for the imports that sustain its population, has fallen to 2m barrels a day due to lack of capital investment caused by the mismanagement of the state oil company, PDVSA. The depressed production, lower oil prices, and the proportion of the output that has been pledged to China have reduced the capability of the country to generate foreign exchange.As a result, the population is suffering from shortages of key essential goods including medicines. Venezuela suffered a 35%-40% contraction of its imports within the last couple of years, a situation that is unprecedented in the world. Venezuela is rapidly heading towards becoming a failed state.Venezuela’s total external debt is estimated at between $120bn and $160bn (€107bn-€142bn), of which $64.4bn is in US dollar-denominated international bonds. Around half of bonds are issued by the sovereign and half by PDVSA. The credit default swap markets are discounting a 95% or so probability of default within the next five years, and the 2038 sovereign bond trades around 45 cents to the dollar at the time of writing.Single most attractive opportunity?Venezuela is clearly a risky investment. For investors though, what matters is whether risk is priced in.Mohammed Hanif, CIO of Insparo Asset Management, argues that it is.Perhaps what is most surprising has been Venezuela’s almost perverse willingness to continue to pay its debt obligations. This is reflected in the price of its 2017 and 2018 bonds trading at over 75 cents to the dollar. If default is inevitable, that does not necessarily mean investors would lose out though. Insparo considers that the prices of sovereign and PDVSA bonds are already approaching expected recovery rates of 55%-65%.Aramco, the state-owned oil company in Saudi Arabia, is worth around $3trn. Valuations of PDVSA, Venezuela’s equivalent, should be comparable in magnitude, and any valuation of oil assets would suggest that there is significant asset coverage for the bonds.Whatever happens on the political front, with elections due in October 2018 and several thousand people engaging in daily and often violent demonstrations in Caracas, it is clear that the debt needs restructuring. There needs to be a credible government before a meaningful recovery can be made but the abundance of assets suggests that a strong recovery is possible.Hanif believes that, even after a default, investors should be able to receive sufficient assets to make Venezuela the single most attractive opportunity for the dedicated emerging market debt investor.Venezuela may be a mess, but the risks are clear and the issue is whether, and by how much, they have been discounted in asset prices. The same cannot be said for developed markets. The economist and entrepreneur Jerome Booth always says the distinction between emerging markets and developed is that in emerging markets the risks are fully priced in, while in developed markets they remain hidden.Political risk is clearly a case in point. It is political risk above all that characterises emerging markets and is the greatest challenge for potential investors. Argentina was one of the 15 richest countries in the world on a per capita basis for the first half of the 20th century. But a century of political instability with rule by populist politicians and military juntas eroded its relative wealth and its position to the extent that it was even downgraded to frontier market status by MSCI in 2009.Today, the Latin American tragedy that the world focuses on is Venezuela.Again, it is a rich country brought low by political mismanagement. Its oil reserves are comparable to – and larger than – those of Saudi Arabia. Its economy, like that of Saudi Arabia, is dominated by oil and Venezuela relies on imports for a major proportion of its industrial, construction, and household items.last_img read more

Read More

Spear, shield-inspired crown awaits Miss Ati-Atihan 2020

first_imgAt least 16 young women from various barangays in this town are vying for the crown.  They are Princess Ann Cipriano, Ninna Dominique Diangson, Lorenz Kline Ilicito, Ma. Valyn Cortez, Harlyn Mae Iguin, Danica Sagon, Lyheda Aguirre, Avery Marianne Sucgang, Carloa Dimo, Jamaima Vidal, Phoeby Gay Billareal, Olive Lorraine Erenea, Nele Niccole Legazpi, Alma Molo, Ezel Maureen Balayo, and Ynjeale May Navarra./PN According to Briones, the manufactureralso produces crowns for the Binibining Pilipinas and Miss Supranationalpageants, among others. “The spear and shield crown has been asymbol of the Ati community for their bravery. We deemed it proper to use it asa rightful symbolism of the crown to represent the pageant,” he said. KALIBO, Aklan – A spear andshield-inspired crown awaits the next grand winner of Miss Ati-Atihan festivalnext month, said Brian Briones, member of the pageant committee of the KaliboSr. Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan Management Council, Inc.    center_img Briones added this will be the firstin recent history that a symbolism crown will be given to the local Ati-Atihanqueen. The crown is made of crystal and is being manufactured in China.     A spear and shield-inspired crown awaits the next grand winner of Miss Ati-Atihan festival next month, according to Brian Briones, member of the pageant committee of the Kalibo Sr. Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan Management Council, Inc. PETER RIAN CASIDSIDlast_img read more

Read More

PH starts VFA termination: Locsin hails Duterte’s threats to end military deal with…

first_img“Karonsi Bato di nila paadtuon saAmerica. I (am) warning you this is the first time, pag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, one, I will terminate the bases Visiting Forces Agreement. Tapusin ko ‘yang putangina,” Dutertesaid. President Duterte earlier issued awarning that he will not think twice to cancel the agreement if the US will notcorrect the matter involving Dela Rosa’s US visa. MANILA – The process for the terminationof the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the UnitedStates has commenced, Malacañang announced Friday. “I think the US should be concernedabout this decision of the President because its strongest ally in the regionreacting against it,” he further said./PN The US and the Philippines also inkedthe VFA and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows greaterUS troops’ access to Philippine bases and presence in the country. The Philippine government started the process of terminating its Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, who wanted to end the military deal after Washington canceled the visa of his former police chief, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. ABS-CBN NEWS The Philippines and the US are treatyallies, having signed the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that obliges Americantroops to help defend the Philippines if it comes under attack. He added the Palace will no longer waitfor Washington’s response on Duterte’s warning to reverse the cancellation of Sen.Ronald dela Rosa’s US visa within a month. Department of Foreign Affairs SecretaryTeodoro Locsin also ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to start thetermination process. “US Ambassador Sung Kim have sought ameeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to discuss the impendingtermination of VFA,” Panelo said. “I am giving notice and they begin tocount. I am giving government and the American government one month from now, mag estorya me, pahawaon ko sila sa ilang Visiting Forces Agreement,” he added. Panelo, meanwhile, explained thatPresident Duterte can scrap the VFA even without the approval of theSenate.  “Can you imagine they have the gall totell us what to do with our citizens. Eh,sobra na ‘yan kaya galit si Presidente,” he added. An attack against Philippine armedforces, public vessels or aircraft falls under its obligations in the treaty. “Because it (VFA) is an executiveagreement so he can cancel it without the approval of the Senate,” Panelo saidin an interview in Bacolod City on Friday. President Rodrigo Duterte made theorder, a day after making a threat in his speech in Leyte. “The process for terminating thesame has started. The President feels that we cannot sit down idly,” PresidentialSpokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing at the MalacañangPalace. last_img read more

Read More

Batangas rape suspect hiding in Santa Barbara

first_imgAccording to Sta. Barbara police chief Major Raymund Celoso, Zara has been living in the town for almost nine years because he has a live-in partner there. “He is known here (Sta. Barbara) as Arnel Perez Alegrea and he told us that he registered his new name in the town of San Rafael, Iloilo because he knows that he is wanted for crimes in NCR,” said Celoso. Arrested in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, rape and homicide suspect Valintine Zara of Batangas would be shipped to the courts concerned in Batangas to face his charges. PRO-6 PHOTO The police team that arrested Zara were composed of personnel from the NCR-Southern’s Regional Intelligence Unit, the Police Regional Office 6’s Regional Intelligence Unit and Santa Barbara police station. * for rape (Criminal Case No. 2010-198-199) issued by Judge Noel Lindog of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), 4th Judicial Branch 87 in Rosario, Batangas, issued on Sept. 29, 2010 They served two arrest warrants for Zara:center_img * for homicide (Criminal Case  No. 17605) issued by Judge Albert Kalalo of RTC 4 Batangas City, Batangas, issued on Jan. 24, 2012No bail bond was recommended for Zara’s rape case. Zara was taken to the Santa Barbara police station. He would be shipped to the courts concerned in Batangas./PN ILOILO – The most wanted person in the National Capital Region (NCR) for the crimes of rape and homicide in the province of Batangas was arrested in Santa Barbara town around 9:20 a.m. yesterday. Valintine Zara, 29, was a resident of Barangay Sto. Domingo, Batangas. He had been hiding in Purok IV, Barangay Inangayan, Santa Barbara under the name “Arnel Perez Alegrea”.last_img read more

Read More

110 Ilonggo OFWs negative for COVID-19

first_img* Tigbauan – four * Sta. Barbara – seven * Barotac Viejo – one * Oton – six * Estancia – one 3. OFWs must have medical certificates that they are asymptomatic and are in good health condition./PN * Leganes – three Of the 8,620,  1, 147 were from Iloilo City; 1,335 from Bacolod City; 1,147 from Aklan; 880 from Antique;  1,285 from Capiz; 361 from Guimaras; 1, 885 from Iloilo; and 580 from Negros Occidental. * Tubungan – two * Badiangan – two * Dingle – two * Batad – three * Barotac Nuevo – five * Zarraga – three * Alimodian – one * Bingawan – one * Cabatuan – six * Guimbal – one 2. OFWs must have certification that they have finished a 14-day quarantine. * Ajuy – one These repatriated migrant workers waited for the results while on quarantine at three separate hotels in Iloilo City. 1. OFWs must have undergone RT-PCR test with negative result conducted within seven days prior to boarding. * New Lucena – one Concepcion, Igbaras, San Dionisio, and San Rafael were the only towns in the province that don’t have repatriated OFWs from this batch. * Lambunao – one * Pototan – six * Maasin – one * Lemery – two * Duenas – one * Mina – one * Janiuay – seven Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon of the Provincial Health Office said the results of the OFWs’ reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests were released on Aug. 1. * Balasan – one * Anilao – two These were the three requirements for repatriation: * Carles – three * Banate – two * San Enrique – one According to Quiñon, they were allowed to go home in their respective towns on Aug. 2 to complete a 14-day quarantine. Their respective local government units fetched the OFWs from the hotels. As of July 28, there were 8,620 overseas migrant workers repatriated to Region 6, data from the Western Visayas Regional Task Force (RTF) on COVID-19 showed. * Sara – two * Passi City – five ILOILO – A total of 110 recently repatriated Ilonggo overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). * San Joaquin – one * Pavia – 12 * Miag-ao – one Here’s the breakdown of OFWs: * Dumangas – three The Overseas Welfare Workers Administration (OWWA) in Region 6 shouldered their expenses from hotel fees and swab test. The testing of returning OFWs was a requirement set by the RTF in resolutions No. 12, 13 and 14. * Leon – four * San Miguel – two * Calinog – twolast_img read more

Read More

Cold forecast cancels Kennedale’s Spring Kick-Off

first_imgKENNEDALE, Texas (Feb. 24) – A winter-like forecast has resulted in cancellation of this weekend’s scheduled Spring Kick-Off at Kennedale Speedway Park.IMCA Xtreme Motor Sports Modifieds, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars and Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center Southern SportMods were on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and March 1 programs. IMCA Eagle Motorsports RaceSaver Sprint Cars were on the Saturday card. Snow showers and a high of just 37 degrees are in the forecast for Friday, when an open practice had been scheduled. Overcast conditions and more precipitation are anticipated Saturday and Sunday.First local, Allstar Performance State, regional and IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing national points at KSP will now be given Saturday, March 7.last_img

Read More

New promoter will keep building on solid IMCA foundation at Buena Vista Raceway

first_imgIMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks are sanctioned for the 28th consecutive season, Karl Kustoms Northern SportMods for the 14th and Mach-1 Sport Compacts for the 13th. “What I enjoy about the IMCA Modifieds is how weekly racers can go to specials and be competitive. Like the Stock Cars, they’re a good class to watch every night because you see a lot of passing,” Chinn said. “The SportMods, Hobby Stocks and Sport Compacts are all fun and affordable.” ALTA, Iowa – With a firm midweek foundation in place, new promoter Trent Chinn plans to keep building on to the IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing program at Buena Vista Raceway. Chinn takes over the Wednesday night speedplant at Alta, sanctioned by IMCA for 30-plus seasons. The Jimmy Squibb Memorial is June 17, the Kyle Suter Memorial July 15 and the Dirt Knights Tour show on July 22. Final checkers of the season at Alta fly during the inaugural Battle at the Beaver special Sept. 18 and 19. “This track really started to come back to its glory days under (previous promoter) Joey Ciechanowski,” said Chinn, who saw much of the country while crewing for Tim Ward and Ricky Thornton Jr. “This is already a very nice facility. One of the main things is that the racing surface has been so smooth from top to bottom every night and we’re going to do everything we can to continue that.”  “You see a lot of younger drivers being successful in the IMCA divisions,” he continued. “It’s neat to see 15 and 16-year-old kids win in any division.” First night for track points is scheduled for June 3, with season championship night on Aug. 26. Both the IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars will run at BVR for a 31st season in 2020.  “As soon as the time comes, we’ll definitely be ready for opening night,” Chinn promised.  Buena Vista Raceway is part of IMCA’s Side Biter Chassis North Central Region for Modifieds, EQ Cylinder Heads Northern Region for Stock Cars and Big Daddy Race Cars Northern Region for Hobby Stocks.last_img read more

Read More