Fitch Ratings upgrades SB County debt

Fitch Upgrades San Bernardino County, California 1995 COPs to ‘A+’

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–During the course of routine surveillance, Fitch Ratings has upgraded San Bernardino County, California’s (the county) approximately $102 million of outstanding certificates of participation (COPs), series 1995 (Medical Center Financing Project) to ‘A+’ from ‘A.’ The Rating Outlook is Stable.

The ‘A+’ rating on the COPs reflects the county’s consistently strong financial management, high fund balance levels, and a moderately low debt burden. The rating also incorporates slowed economic growth attributable to the significant weakness in the residential and commercial real estate sectors.

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ONT completes upgrades to emergency notification system

LA/Ontario International Airport’s Information Technology Section completed upgrades to its emergency call-down notification telephone system this summer, according to a press release. “The upgrades allow accurate and timely notification when an airport incident occurs. The new system also notifies more airport offices than the previous system,” the notice said.
“IT installed the $100,000 system over a two month period under schedule,” said Tom Hoffman, a communications electrician at ONT, in the statement. “We continue to play a large role in ensuring the system works efficiently.”
This system features a graphic display of the phones lines at ONT and the City of Ontario so that the Federal Aviation Administration and the airport’s fire station can confirm receipt of the notifications. The system is tested twice daily.
“IT personnel are confident in the system and have done an exceptional job making sure everyone is comfortable using it,” airport Manager Jess Romo said in the release.
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OCTA lowers tolls on 91 Express Lanes

Beginning Wednesday, commuters will pay less to travel the 91 Express Lanes as the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) reduces tolls by 50 cents during numerous periods throughout the day.
The peak toll of $10 will drop to $9.50 and 13 other time slots will see adjustments as part of OCTA’s congestion management pricing policy that is in effect on the 10-mile toll road. The policy calls for dropping and raising tolls based on demand.
“Tolls need to reflect market and traffic realities. If that means toll reductions, that’s great,” OCTA Chairman Chris Norby said in a press release. “The goal is free flowing traffic at the least possible cost to commuters.”
his is the first time tolls have been lowered on the 91 Express Lanes since OCTA took ownership in 2003. Traffic volumes are monitored daily and adjusted quarterly.
The traffic reduction can be attributed to increased unemployment resulting in fewer jobs in Orange County and a struggling economy. Unemployment in the Inland Empire reached 9.2 percent in August compared to 6.4 percent a year ago. In Orange County, unemployment in August was 5.8 percent, up from 4.2 percent last year.
Toll rates will now vary depending on hour, day and direction of travel from $1.25 to $9.55.
To view the new toll schedule, go to www.octa.net/91tolls

Inland Empire Urban Land Institute to host Planning Directors Forum

The Inland Empire chapter of the Urban Land Institute will host a Planning Directors Forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave. According to a press release, the forum will showcase how local planning directors approach land use in the region. The forum will be moderated by Christine Iger of Iger & Associates, and will include participation by Ron Goldman, Riverside County planning director; Ken Gutierrez, City of Riverside planning director; Joseph Lim, City of Indio planning manager; and James Troyer, City of Rancho Cucamonga planning director. Cost: $55 for ULI members, $65 for nonmembers. Information: (800) 321-5011, or visit inlandempire.uli.org.

Hansen stock closes higher on rumors of Coca-Cola distribution deal

     Shares of Hansen Natural Corp. (Nasdaq: HANS) closed more than 17 percent higher on Thursday after a research note by investment analysis firm Stifel Nicolaus said the Corona-based soda-energy drink company is discussing a distribution deal with Coca-Cola Co.

     Hansen executives didn’t return phone calls. The stock closed at $27.14.

     The report backs up its claim by citing an article on Beverage Business Insights, an online newsletter.

     “It is unclear to us what a potential distribution agreement with Coke would mean to Hansen’s relationship with Anheuser-Busch,” the research note says. “That said… we believe it is more likely the company utilizes both distribution systems.”

     On Wednesday evening, New York-based Scott + Scott LLP filed a class action law suit against Hansen on behalf of investors who bought shares between May 23 to Nov. 23 of last year. The suit claims the company lied and mislead investors regarding operations, which inflated stock shares.

     The claim comes on the heels of another law suit filed on Sept. 11 by New York-based Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman and Robbins LLP on behalf of investors who bought Hansen stock between May 23 and Nov. 8 of last year. It, too, alleges the company issued “false and misleading” statements about Hansen’s operations.

     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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Emrise Corp. receives $2 million in orders

 

     Aerospace-electronics industry manufacturer Emrise Corp. said on Thursday that it received $2 million in orders for radio frequency devices used in systems designed to prevent roadside bombs from detonating in Iraq and elsewhere.

     Deliveries will most likely start this month, the Rancho Cucamonga company said.

     “One of the reasons we purchased (Advanced Control Components) was because of its presence in the U.S. military market and its focus on RF devices for the high-volume business in RCIED-jamming systems,” said Carmine Oliva, president and CEO, in a news release.

     Emrise recently sold its Sunnyvale-based printed circuit board business, Sierra Circuits, to help pay off debt incurred for buying Eatontown, N.J.-based Advanced Control Components.

     The company is looking to sell other non-core business divisions or product lines so it can pay down debt.

     If Emrise’s proposed stock split is approved by shareholders, shares would jump in value so the company can stay listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

     Shares peaked at more than $11 in 1992 but are now facing a delisting on the exchange. The stock has been hovering between 50 – 90 cents.

     Emrise earned $4 million from 2003 to 2005, but reported $5.5 million in losses over 2006 and 2007, mostly because of slower sales.

     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

Phoenix Motorcars testifies before energy committee

     Thad Balkman, vice president of external relations for Ontario-based Phoenix Motorcars, testified on Tuesday to the U.S. Senate Energy Committee during a hearing on the “state of electric vehicles and the prospects for wider deployment in the near future,” a news release states.

     “It helps with public awareness, showing that there are alternatives to hybrid vehicles,” said Julia Winter, director of regulatory affairs at the electric car manufacturer, during a phone interview.

     With an energy bill being debated in Congress, part of the legislation would give incentives to people who buy electric vehicles.

     Some electric vehicles, like Phoenix’s cars, can get up to 135 miles per gallon, with its battery being charged within 10 minutes.

     Balkman is a former U.S. House of Representatives Congressman from Oklahoma.

     Phoenix has 25 employees and moved to Ontario in 2006. The company’s top customers right now include San Bernardino County, Santa Monica, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co., NASA, and several other companies and government entities.

     Phoenix also has a waiting list of 23,000 individuals interested in their products, plus countries like Sweden, Norway and Israel.

     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

AeA trade association invites I.E. companies to green conference

     Inland Empire technology companies interested in staying competitive and utilizing green technologies might want to consider attending the Innovation and Globalization in Green conference on Oct. 1 and 2 in Irvine.

     AeA — the nation’s largest high-tech trade association — is inviting businesses throughout the two-county region to attend the event.

     That’s on top of local companies who already plan on going. The AeA’s Inland Empire-Orange County chapter represents 140 companies across San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties with a collective revenue of more than $8 billion and more than 160,000 employees.

     Like other regions, our two-county area is still in its green-technology infancy.

     But significant strides are being made.

     Southern California Edison, for instance, is currently installing a $7 million, 2-megawatt solar panel project on top of a huge warehouse in Fontana.

     To register for the conference, visit www.ocinnovation2008.com. Attendees who sign up by Saturday will get a 20-percent discount.

     For information on AeA’s local chapter, visit www.aeanet.org/orangecounty.

     Speakers at the conference include Deborah Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness, a group of CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders committed to driving U.S. competitiveness; Andrew Winston, co-author of “Green to Gold” and expert on what works, and what doesn’t, when companies go green; and Reynolds Bish, CEO and director of Kofax, a provider of Intelligent Capture and Exchange solutions in 31 countries.

     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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