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Brackets! It’s March Madness Time!
Posted on 2015-03-17 09:53:34 by gregory_kennedy

Christine Eagar - March 17, 2015
Brackets! It’s March Madness Time!
One of the most exciting sporting events of the year is about to begin. Yes, It’s March Madness, also known as The Big Dance. It’s the tournament that determines the National Champion of Division 1 NCAA College Basketball.

March Madness brings out all types of fans, whether you’re a die-hard, statistic keeper, alumni of one of the esteemed colleges in the tournament, or a casual fan who simply enjoys the drama of it all. Even those who have never watched a basketball game all year, can get into the fun, and sometimes even win their bracket pool.

It all begins this Thursday March 19th, so fans only have two more days to fill out your brackets. There’s a first four round held early this week to place the final bracket teams. Then, the 64 team official bracket starts March 19-20. Prepare your picks ahead of time and see what happens. You can go to the NCAA website to print your own bracket or compete with others online.

To print your bracket: Go to the link below, Click the button to print a PDF in the center top of the bracket, just under links for Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Here are some tips in choosing your picks:

1) Don’t pick all higher seeds or all lower seeds. Sure there are some amazing upsets and surprises every year, but a 16 seed has never beaten a 1. And the best team on paper doesn’t always win every game. Pick one “sleeper” team just for fun, may be a mid-range team. There is always one that surprises everyone. That’s the beauty of this tournament!

2) Take some time to do a little research. There are some great guides on NCAA, ESPN, CBS Sports, and the Bleacher Report. There will be lots of differing opinions, but some may just help you guide you in the right direction.

3) Don’t be afraid to pick against your favorite school. You may have gone to Valparaiso, but as a 13th seed this year they may not make it all the way. Kentucky and Kansas are both looking strong again, and so is Gonzaga and Arizona.

4) Get your friends or co-workers involved and have fun! The best part of choosing your brackets is comparing how everyone is doing as the tournament rolls. See who has several picks still in when they’re down to the Round of 32, the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four and finally the Championship.

For those of you still sorting through tournament lingo, here’s a fun guide:

Seeds: In each division, teams are ranked 1-16, one being the highest. Their rank is called their seed.

Cinderella: A higher-seeded team that upsets two or more lower seeded teams. Most underdogs in the tournament are referred to as Cinderellas.

Dickie V: Nickname for Dick Vitale, a famous college basketball commentator. You’ll hear catch phrases like “Yeah, Baby” and “Diaper Dandy” when Dickie V is calling a game.

Final Four: The last four teams left in the tournament.

Big Dance: Another name for the tournament. Teams that make the tournament are known to be “going dancing.”

RPI: Ratings Percentage Index, formula used since 1981 by the NCAA to rank teams.

At-Large Berth: A team that didn’t win their conference’s postseason tournament but makes March Madness receives an at-large berth.

Automatic Bid: A team that wins their conference’s postseason tournament is automatically placed in the tournament, called an automatic bid.

Cutting Down the Net: Teams that win the championship traditionally have different players/coaches cut down the nets from the baskets in the place where they win.

One and Done: Because the tournament is single-elimination style, games are often referred to as “one and dones.”

The NCAA Tournament concludes in Indianapolis where they host the Final Four and the Championship Game, April 4 and April 6.

Best of luck with your picks and have FUN!

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Chelan Earthday Fair is Coming April 18th!
Posted on 2015-03-17 09:34:14 by gregory_kennedy

Greg Kennedy - March 17, 2015

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Customer-Owner Ideas are Going into Action at Chelan PUD
Posted on 2015-03-17 09:24:02 by gregory_kennedy

Kimberlee Craig - March 17, 2015
Click Here for the website
Customer-Owner Ideas are Going into Action at Chelan PUD
Commissioners hear updates on debt reduction; making it easier for customer-owners to interact with the District

Chelan County PUD is taking action on initiatives responding to guidance from customer-owners by continuing to reduce debt and to improve customer satisfaction, even before commissioners adopt the new strategic plan.

Many Chelan PUD customers sent a strong message to the PUD during strategic planning that their top priority was to have the District pay down its debt. On Monday, PUD commissioners heard that putting this year’s focus on paying off taxable bonds in the District’s portfolio could bring bottom line benefits of about $2 million more than originally planned in the next five years.

Commissioners also heard about an employee-led effort to identify changes in District procedures to make it easier for customer-owners to do business with the utility.

A five-member employee team looked at the steps required for extending power to a new home or business. Changes they made or recommended ranged from shortening standard forms to making it more convenient to make payments.

On debt reduction, plans were to pay off $65 million in variable-rate debt this month as part of the District’s continuing focus on paying down debt. Total debt reduction this year is set at $122 million to meet customer-owner expectations and PUD financial objectives. About $57 million is from scheduled principal payments and $65 million is accelerated principal payments.

A review done to prepare for the planned payoff of the variable-rate bonds showed the benefits in current market conditions of paying off $65 million in taxable bonds instead, said Treasurer Debbie Litchfield. The move will improve the District’s ability to cover its debt, seen as positive by rating agencies, and continue to meet the financial objective of a debt ratio of less than 35 percent by 2019.

The difference in interest rates on the two types of bonds will provide the primary savings, Litchfield said. Current cost on the variable-rate bonds is about 0.5 percent. The fixed rate on the taxable bonds averages 3.6 percent.

Since 2010, Chelan PUD has reduced debt by about $304 million. The proposed strategic plan calls for paying off another $350 million through 2019, plus meeting other financial targets, keeping rates low and investing in PUD assets for the long term.

Litchfield said paying off the taxable debt would take about $5 million more from cash this year to cover the bond premium, reducing forecasts for 2015’s positive bottom line by about $4 million. Additional positive cash flow during the next four years will more than offset that, providing a net benefit to customer-owners of about $2 million, Litchfield said.

The revised plan also supports the District’s value of operational excellence, said Chief Financial Officer/Chief Risk Officer Kelly Boyd. Reducing debt since 2010 has streamlined the District’s portfolio and reduced staff time to manage it by the equivalent of one full-time employee, Boyd said.

Commissioners continue to gather final comments on the proposed strategic plan. They invited customers to read the draft plan at and send final comments by next Monday, March 23. PUD commissioners are set to act on the plan April 6.

In other business Monday, commissioners:
  • Were updated on the deep look being done at the overall condition of the turbines in the large units at Rocky Reach Dam before permanent repairs start. Engineering Director Brett Bickford said the goal is to assure that each of the four turbines will be ready to run for another 30 years following the repairs. The “expected life evaluation” of existing components is done. Analysis of the components that did not meet the 30-year-life criteria is underway to determine if they can be fixed or need replacing. Staff expects to finish that analysis in May. With more work identified, the budget for permanent repairs could rise by $1.6 million to $4.2 million. The analysis also has identified other changes to improve maintenance. That work only is feasible to do at the same time as the permanent repairs, set to start with unit C8 in June. The estimated cost for the maintenance improvements on the four units is $810,000.
  • Heard about work to add eight cabins, and group camping, at Lincoln Rock State Park. Work started in February and is set to finish in December. Reservations for the cabins will open in March 2016. Chelan PUD owns the park, built under federal license responsibilities for its hydro projects. These enhancements are being made under the 2009 Rocky Reach Dam operating license. KRCI of East Wenatchee is doing the $3.4 million project.

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Manson Schools Invites Public Review of New Instructional Materials
Posted on 2015-03-17 09:10:29 by gregory_kennedy

Janice Stewart - March 17, 2015
Manson Schools Invites Public Review of New Instructional Materials
Adoption of English Language Arts Instructional Materials

Manson School District is asking interested community members to preview and/or comment on proposed kindergarten through 6th grade English/Language Arts (ELA) materials. The District has been working for the past nine months on selection of new instructional materials and is now moving forward with a formal adoption process.

Kathy Madden and Janine Sanford, two elementary teachers who have lead the process, shared, “The staff have done an outstanding job of researching multiple instructional materials, considering the needs of the students in our school, and listening to feedback from staff and our instructional coaches.”

Katie Sperling, English Language Development Coordinator adds, “The primary grade materials are rich with language and visuals that support learners at every language proficiency level. The materials chosen for the intermediate grades include grade level chapter books with relevant topics tied to ELA and Social Studies standards. I look forward to participating in the school wide implementation of these new materials and to being a witness to the growth in language and literacy out students are sure to make”.

If you are interested in reviewing these materials, they will be available until Friday, March 27th. Please contact the elementary school at 687-9502 to arrange an appointment to view these materials.

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