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Home Remodeling Spending Expected to Break Record and Reach $155 Billion

Feb 05, 16 Home Remodeling Spending Expected to Break Record and Reach $155 Billion

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Whether or not the housing market itself is completely back from the burst bubble in ’08 is still up for debate. When it comes to home remodeling, though, the market is absolutely booming. According to the Boston Globe, national spending on home remodeling projects are projected to hit $155 billion and eclipse the current high mark of $150 billion set ten years ago. The data used in this projection comes from a new analysis by Harvard researchers. “2016 is looking to be a stronger year for home renovation activity compared to 2015, thanks to the continued recovery in the owner-occupied housing market,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in a news release. “Rising house prices are bringing more homes to the market and increasing sales, which is a large driver of home improvement activity.” According to the research done, spending on home remodeling will increase gradually at the start of the year and ramp up towards the end. First quarter home remodeling spending is expected to increase by about 4.3% and in the third quarter rise to 7.6%. There are many factors that influence when people choose to remodel, but the reasons why are generally always the same. The number one reason 78% of homeowners in one recent survey chose to remodel was to improve the look and feel of their space. After that 54% did so to make the space more functional, 52% to increase home value, and upgrading features/appliances was listed by 47%. The piece also points out that home sales rose by 10% during the first 11 months of last year in Massachusetts, according to the Warren Group. Housing prices across the country are back on the rise for the most part, and it appears that spending on upgrading those homes is a top priority for many buyers and current homeowners...

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Cost of Hunting and Fishing Licenses Set to Increase in Several U.S. States

Feb 05, 16 Cost of Hunting and Fishing Licenses Set to Increase in Several U.S. States

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Hunting and fishing permit fees have remained fairly stagnant for the past decade across America, but several states are now increasing the price of outdoor licenses to address budget concerns. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, legislators in Nebraska recently proposed the first price increase for hunting and fishing licenses in the state since 2003. Omaha Sen. John McCollister submitted a bill last week that would allow the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to adjust 48 different categories of user fees, which supply approximately 87% of the commission’s income. Commission Director Jim Douglas claims that the price to legally hunt and fish in Nebraska has not kept pace with the times, adding that current fees fail to cover the costs of maintaining wildlife activities in the state. “The commission isn’t looking at increasing the overall authority for us to spend dollars by any great amount. We need some additional dollars even to spend the current authority that we have on the fish and game side,” Douglas said. In the past few years, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has identified $44 million in deferred maintenance needs for state parks, which serve a large percentage of hunters and fishermen in Nebraska. The state legislature has supplied much of that funding already, but the commission is still $14 million short in necessary funding. More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish on a regular basis, and Nebraska is one of the most popular states for outdoor enthusiasts in the country. Montana, another state that is known for embracing the outdoors, is also implementing some notable changes to their license fee system. According to The Montana Standard, state legislators recently approved a new $10 “base hunting license” fee, in addition to a $3 increase for resident fishing licenses. The price hikes were made in an effort to resolve a $5.75 million budget shortfall that faced Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. It marks the first time that Montana has raised the cost of hunting and fishing since 2006....

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Man Buried in West Seattle Trench Collapse

Feb 01, 16 Man Buried in West Seattle Trench Collapse

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Medical investigators have identified the victim of a recent West Seattle sewer trench collapse to be 36-year-old construction worker Harold Felton. Felton died outside of a home on 36th Avenue SW and Southwest Hanford Street during a construction repair project when the 10-foot sewer trench collapsed on Jan. 26. Felton was buried under six feet of dirt when the walls of the trench gave way, according to KING 5 News. Seattle firefighters were immediately called to the scene and there were reportedly signs that Felton was still alive when they arrived. Crews attempted to rescue the man at first but after about 20 minutes, it turned from a rescue operation to a body recovery effort; it was clear that after having been buried for 20 minutes, there would be no way for Felton to survive. According to the Seattle Times, it took several hours for crews to recover the body. The trench collapsed at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning and it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that Felton’s body was found. Felton was employed at Alki Construction and the collapse seems to have been an accident during a routine repair job. Felton leaves behind a wife and a four-month-old daughter. As the Seattle Times noted, this is the first fatal sewer trench accident since 2008. Ever since trenchless sewers and repair methods began rising in popularity — which began around 15 years ago — safer installation and repair methods have been...

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El Nino Storms Continue To Wreak Havoc on the Bay Area

Jan 28, 16 El Nino Storms Continue To Wreak Havoc on the Bay Area

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At first glance, the sudden rains brought by El Nino seem like a blessing for the drought-ridden state of California. Upon looking closer, however, it’s clear that not all is well in the Golden State. First, the Bay Area popcorn factory Kettlepop was forced to close down due to a mouse infestation. According to CBS Local, it’s likely that the infestation was caused by the downpour of rain resulting from El Nino. General Manager Aaron Reimer explained that employees in the Benicia factory have been seeing mice around the factory for a while now, and the company has been closed for the past two weeks while pest exterminators clear up the problem. Considering that one mouse is capable of producing as many as 100 droppings per day, and this waste carries tons of microscopic bacteria, it’s a good thing that the factory decided to close. But while Kettlepop has ensured that it won’t be tied to any cases of food poisoning any time soon, El Nino has spurred the growth of another poisonous culprit: wild mushrooms. According to CBS News, California residents are starting to discover that the rains have caused deadly mushrooms to sprout. While most people know well enough to stay away from these toxic plants, pets aren’t quite so knowledgeable about the mushrooms. Veterinarians throughout the Bay Area have already begun to see many household pets (especially dogs) come in with mushroom poisoning; at least one furry patient per week, in some offices. Finally, a certain stretch of coastal real estate between San Franisco and Half Moon Bay is hanging — quite literally — on the edge of destruction. A row of apartments overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Pacifica, CA are in such peril of collapsing that officials have ordered residents to pack their belongings and leave. According to The New York Times, the heavy rains and coastal waves have “accelerated” erosion along certain coastal bluffs. Mike Cully, the chief building official, stated that 20 apartments in the Pacifica bluff are...

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