Friday, February 27, 2009

Proposal increases mandatory furlough days for Oregon state workers

SALEM, OR — In an effort to help Oregon cope with its deepening budget crisis, Governor Ted Kulongoski has proposed that state workers lose 24 days of pay over the next two years, according to The Oregonian.

Included in the unprecedented proposal are plans for workers to get a mixture of unpaid holidays and days off without pay and eliminating the salary increases that many state workers get annually, the story stated.

Both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the two unions representing the majority of state workers, had expressed a willingness to accept eight furlough days, the number Governor Kulongoski proposed in December, the story noted.

The furloughs would save the state's general fund $105 million over the next two years while eliminating cost-of-living increases would save an additional $56 million, the story added.

E. coli outbreak hits day care center

LEMONT, IL — At least 21 children, 18 of whom are under the age of five, and one adult at KinderCare Learning Center have contracted E. coli, according to the Southtown Star.

KinderCare has increased its sanitization efforts, including enhanced cleaning of surfaces, bringing in additional staff to monitor hand washing and hiring a certified nurse, the story stated.

According to the story, the day care center has been allowed to remain open so the children have a place to go and so they do not carry the bacteria to other centers.

The Cook County Health Department has mandated all children and adults at the KinderCare Learning Center be tested for the bacteria that caused the outbreak thought to be linked to a lack of proper hand washing, the story noted.

Beth Daniels, a spokeswoman for the day care, said: "KinderCare working with parents to reimburse them for certain out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages due to staying home with their children. We've been doing everything possible to prevent the further spread of this."

Three children have been hospitalized, treated and released as a result of the outbreak, the story added.

$1.2 million in OSHA fines for chemical company

ST. LOUIS, MO — G.S. Robins & Co. has been cited by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards for numerous violations relating to the handling of hazardous chemicals, according to an article from the PRNewswire.

OSHA began the investigation after learning that eight employees had been admitted to several local hospitals after being contaminated with an unknown powder that turned out to be para-nitroaniline (PNA), a poison that causes methemoglobinemia, resulting in the reduction of the blood's ability to transport oxygen, the story stated.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Donald G. Shalhoub said: "There are means available to safely handle deadly chemicals such as this, and those means were ignored. Those who ignore safe practices and OSHA regulations are inviting tragedy into the lives of their employees and their families, and this cannot be tolerated."

As a result of its investigation, OSHA issued 21 willful citations relating to eight instances of failing to provide employees with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for transferring PNA; four instances of failing to provide training on the use of PPE and on working with hazardous chemicals; three instances of failing to provide PPE training and training on specific PNA-transfer procedures; and five instances of failing to fit-test employees using respirators, the story noted.

According to the story, OSHA also issued a repeat citation for failing to provide an eyewash/shower in corrosive chemicals areas, and an additional 16 serious citations for hazards associated with the transfer of PNA and other workplace practices.

G.S. Robins & Co. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), the story added.

Custodian gets jail time for stealing credit cards

SHERWOOD, OR — A former contract custodian at Sherwood City Hall was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary and identity theft, according to The Oregonian.

Christine Foos was charged for stealing and using credit cards belonging to Sherwood Planning Manager Julia Hajduk and Associate Planner Michelle Miller in October 2007, the story stated.

Foos, who used the cards to purchase a variety of items worth hundreds of dollars at area stores, was photographed by security cameras leaving City Hall after the cards were stolen, and again at a Safeway store in Portland where she tried to use the credit cards to buy gift cards, the story noted.

Foos fled to San Diego and was arrested by a fugitive task force on warrants alleging burglary and probation violations, the story added.

According to court records, Christine Foos was on probation for robbery at the time the infractions occurred.

Ex-Mt. Vernon school official gets prison term in bribe case

WHITE PLAINS, NY — The former head of purchasing for Mount Vernon City School District was sentenced to upwards of seven years in prison for bribing companies in exchange for district contracts, according to The Journal News.

Arthur Rose was convicted of accepting a $3,500 bribe in 2005 to set up a $1.1 million no-bid contract with Ricoh Americas Corp. for 73 digital copiers, products and services, and for taking a $10,000 bribe in 2006 from Tri-State Supply Co. after promising its owner he would provide him business with the district, the story stated.

According to prosecutors, the alleged bribes were considered "donations" to Rose's spiritual group, Upon This Rock Ministries, and Rose sent invoices to the companies for ministry-sponsored events that were never held, including a $1,000-a-plate "gala."

Not accepting the argument from Rose's attorney that he was tricked and manipulated by representatives of big businesses, a jury convicted Rose of two felony counts of third-degree bribe receiving, three misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and one misdemeanor count of receiving unlawful gratuities, the story noted.

District Attorney Janet DiFiore said: "While a state prison sentence should serve to hold Mr. Rose accountable for his direct actions, his contribution to the continuing erosion of the public's confidence in government, in addition to the actual monetary loss, will take far longer to reconcile."

Rose, who has a prior grand larceny conviction in Manhattan from 2004, is appealing the charges against him, the story added.

Costly meth lab cleanups on the rise

CHATTANOOGA, TN — The increase in the number of methamphetamine drug labs being discovered in hotels and motels is adding to the cleaning duties of housekeeping crews and remediators alike, according to an Associated Press story hosted by

Hotels and motels are an attractive alternative for drug makers seeking to avoid a police raid on their own homes. However, the dangerous contaminants can lurk on countertops, carpets and bathtubs, and chemical odors that might provide a warning to the toxic conditions that exist can be effectively masked by tobacco smoke and other scents, the story stated.

Joe Mazzuca, operations manager at Meth Lab Cleanup Co., said: "I have tested pricey hotel rooms in Idaho and Utah and discovered contaminants where no one previously suspected a meth lab had been. Seventy percent of the work Meth Lab Cleanup Co. does are properties that were never busted."

Meth lab cleanups cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000, depending on how long the lab was in use, the story noted.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration records show that states reported finding evidence of drug-making in 1,789 motel and hotel rooms in the past five years, the story added.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, methamphetamine labs can be set up in less than four hours inside a hotel or motel room.

LEED-certified Border Patrol station

EL PASO, TX — The new station in Northeast El Paso is the first U.S. Border Patrol station to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, according to the El Paso Times.

About 80 percent of all construction materials are certified recyclable and the station will be 50 percent more energy efficient than a building using standard construction methods, the story stated.

Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge Salvador Zamora said: "This is not only a building, this is a second home for many of us; we are happy that we're getting a new home in a beautiful location."

Additional energy saving elements to the building are: Skylights in certain station areas and sensor lights in every room, solar panels to generate roughly 12 percent of yearly energy usage and materials purchased no farther than 300 miles from the construction site, the story noted.

The land was provided free of charge to the agency by the U.S. Department of Defense, and the $15.6 million construction contract for the 54,000 square-foot building was awarded to Banes General Contractors, the story added.

According to the story, the building, which will house 350 agents on 45 acres, is about two to three months away from completion.

Contagious skin infections scare district

ROCHESTER HILLS, MI — Rochester Community Schools Officials are on the defensive after three high school students and one kindergartener were diagnosed last week with contagious skin infections, according to C & G News.

One student from Hamlin Elementary was diagnosed with a staph infection, while three wrestlers from Rochester High School were found to have impetigo, a contagious skin infection with blisters and oozing sores, the story stated.

Rochester High Principal Wendy Zdeb said: "Like most bacterial skin infections, impetigo can be spread through contact. The best precaution is to take measures that reduce the spread of bacteria, including good hand washing, not sharing personal items and keeping wounds covered."

Extensive cleaning was conducted throughout the school, including classrooms, the office clinic and other high-touch areas, as a precautionary measure, the story noted.

The wrestlers might have contracted the infection during a meet in Lake Orion. A meet scheduled for February 11 at Rochester High was canceled while equipment, wrestling mats and the locker room were thoroughly cleaned, the story added.

Manufacturers sued for ingredient disclosure

NEW YORK — Environmental and health activists announced plans for a lawsuit to make four major firms reveal the chemical ingredients of their cleaning products and their research on the products' effects, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The suit, to be filed today in New York by six state and national environmental and health groups, including the Sierra Club and American Lung Association, seeks to use a little-known 1976 New York law passed to combat phosphates in detergent, the story stated.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) said the following about the suit: "Activist groups are using an arcane New York state regulation as a way to disparage cleaning product formulators whose products are used safely and effectively by millions of people every day."

Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble; New York-based Colgate-Palmolive; Princeton, N.J.-based Church & Dwight Co.; and Britain-based Reckitt Benckiser Group are all mentioned in the lawsuit, the story noted.

In California, two laws were approved in 2008 that require the state to identify "chemicals of concern," to evaluate safer alternatives and to create a scientific clearinghouse for information on chemicals' effects, the story added.

According to the story, The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal agency charged with overseeing home cleaning products, but it doesn't require cleaning product manufacturers to provide comprehensive ingredient lists, so few companies do.

Overnight fire at Cintas facility

INDIANAPOLIS — Nobody was injured in a fire that started inside a Cintas facility around 3 o'clock this morning, according to WISH-TV.

The fire at the JanSan uniform and mat rental company is being blamed on faulty electrical equipment, the story stated.

No employees were in the building at the time of the blaze; no estimations of the extent of the damage have been made as of yet, the story noted.

The building's sprinkler system did its job in helping control the blaze until firefighters arrived and subdued the flames, the story added.

Apartment manager embezzles $500,000

WEST WHITELAND, PA — The former property manager of Hollow Run Apartments has been charged with stealing nearly $500,000 in more than 700 thefts she committed between 2001 and 2008, according to WFMZ-TV.

Tracey Totten-Davis is accused of manipulating the accounts of more than 700 tenants who lived in the complex and funneling $412,000 in rent and security deposits into her personal bank account, the story stated.

According to police, "The investigation was an arduous process of putting together the paper trail needed for prosecution."

Totten-Davis was fired for paying an excessive amount of money to Choice Cleaning L.L.C., a company she hired for cleaning services, the story noted.

Investigations uncovered the fact that Totten-Davis actually owned the cleaning company, and the $78,000 she billed for services over a two-year period was three times the amount paid to the previous cleaning company, the story added.

According to the story, Totten-Davis also charged home improvements worth $7,000 to the owner of the apartment complex, Fitzpatrick Fanning Corporation, making the total loss to Fitzpatrick Fanning more than $497,000.

Custodians with invalid Social Security numbers fired

MANSFIELD, TX — Forty of the 269 custodians in the Mansfield School District have been fired after an internal audit that began in August found that the Social Security numbers they gave the district were incorrect or invalid, according to the Star-Telegram.

One hundred twenty employees' numbers have been checked and verified so far; employees with invalid numbers were given 90 days to resolve the issue and many worked until the last day possible, the story stated.

Jeff Brogden, director of facilities and operations for the district, said: "The situation is heartbreaking. They’re like family."

According to the story, some of the employees involved had been with the district as long as 10 years.

The district is not required by law to verify Social Security numbers that it submits to the Internal Revenue Service, and has yet to contact law enforcement about the invalid numbers and presumed illegal status of the custodians, the story noted.

Each of the custodians had undergone criminal background checks based on fingerprints, but the checks did not reveal the invalid Social Security numbers, the story added.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, at least 17 percent of all JanSan employees (an estimated 680,000 plus workers) are illegal immigrants.

Bacterial meningitis closes several rooms at UNCC

CHARLOTTE, NC — The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) has closed several rooms and facilities for cleaning after a student from the soccer team was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The Athletic Academic Center, the weight room and men's soccer locker room and shower area have all been temporarily closed so custodians can extensively clean and disinfect the areas, the story stated.

Officials claim there is no need to perform widespread testing of students as only those who had close contact with the student need to be tested and possibly treated, the story noted.

Bacterial meningitis is spread through exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, such as from coughing or kissing, and symptoms may include fever, headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea and sleepiness, the story added.

UNITE-HERE Local 2 calls for San Francisco hotel boycott

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of members of the UNITE-HERE Local 2 are calling for a boycott of two San Francisco hotels: The HEI Le Meridien and the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf, according to the San Francisco Bay Area Independent.

Workers at these hotels are seeking more respect, better job security and better livelihoods for themselves and their families and want management to respect their choice whether or not to form a union through the majority sign-up process, the story stated.

Peter Ho, a lobby porter who has worked at HEI’s Le Meridien for 19 years, said: "We want the same opportunities as other hotel workers in San Francisco. If it’s good enough for workers at other hotels, why not for us? We’ve given years of service to these hotels. We just want respect."

Despite repeated efforts by workers to adopt the majority sign-up process, HEI and Hyatt have both refused; similar efforts are under way at other hotels, including the HEI Hilton in Long Beach, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, and the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, the story noted.

Over 340 hospitality workers and their families at these two San Francisco hotels face unfair layoffs, unaffordable health care and a lack of respect on the job, the story added.

Custodian pleads guilty in stolen check scheme

HUNTINGTON, WV — A former custodian who cleaned several offices in the St. James Building at 4th Avenue and 10th Street was sentenced to one year and one month in federal prison for her role in a stolen check scheme, according to The Herald Dispatch.

Catherine L. Scarberry and five other defendants plead guilty to conspiracy to possess and utter forged securities, the story stated.

The charges stem from several incidents in May and June 2003 when Scarberry used her position as a custodian at the St. James Building to gain access to at least four businesses; pre-printed, blank checks were taken, forged and passed off to her accomplices who then cashed them at various businesses, the story noted.

On top of the prison time, each of the defendants was ordered to pay $21,244.80 in restitution, the story added.

Use paper towels for hygienic hand drying

PHILADELPHIA — According to an independent study conducted by scientists at the University of Westminster in London, using paper towels to dry your hands is far more hygienic than using electric hand dryers, according to a press release.

The study measured the number of bacteria on subjects’ hands before washing and after drying them using three different methods — paper towels, a traditional warm air dyer and a new high-speed jet air dryer, the release stated.

Keith Redway, a senior academic in the department of biomedical sciences at the University of Westminster, said: "The results of all parts of this study suggest that the use of warm air dryers and jet air dryers should be carefully considered in locations where hygiene is of paramount importance, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, nurseries, care homes, kitchens and other food preparation areas. In addition, paper hand towel use is highly beneficial for improved hygiene in any other facilities open to the public, such as factories, offices, bars and restaurants."

The study, which is available for review at, found that paper towel drying reduced the average number of bacteria on the finger pads by up to 76 percent and on the palms by up to 77 percent. By comparison, electric hand dryers caused bacteria counts to increase as much as 254 percent in some cases, the release noted.

Use of a traditional warm-air hand dryer spread micro-organisms up to 0.25 meters from the dryer while the jet air dryer, which blows air out of the unit at claimed speeds of 400 mph, was capable of blowing micro-organisms from the hands and the unit and potentially contaminating other washroom users and the washroom environment up to 2 meters away, the release added.

According to the release, paper towels showed no significant spread of micro-organisms.

Three-second rule unhealthy, until now

CULVER CITY, CA — A national survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Kelton Research, found that 60 percent of Americans admit to eating food that has fallen on the floor, according to Business Wire.

Most are unaware that a typical carpet has up to 4,000 times more bacteria and germs than a toilet seat, even after it has been vacuumed, the story stated.

David Oreck, founder of the Oreck Corporation, said: "Antibacterial soap and bleach are common tools to kill germs in the home, but people often overlook what’s right beneath their feet. Now there’s a solution that allows people to clean and kill germs without any extra time, effort or expense."

Independent tests from the University of Arizona found the following number of bacteria particles on one-square-inch samples:

· Toilet seat: 49

· Kitchen counter: 1,686

· Kitchen tile: 2,546

· Bathroom floor: 18,025

· Carpet: 200,000 plus, the story noted.

According to the story, Oreck has become the first vacuum manufacturer to use ultraviolet light to clean and kill germs, bacteria, viruses, allergens and mold.

Independent tests prove this UV-C light kills more than 99 percent of many common germs it comes in contact with, the story added.

Facilities manager arrested for arson and bomb scare

SCHENECTADY, NY — A 36-year veteran facilities manager for Mont Pleasant Middle School has been arrested and put on paid administrative leave for a 2001 arson case and a recent bomb scare, according to WRGB-TV and TWEAN-TV.

Steven Raucci is accused of setting an explosive device at a house in 2001. Police searched both the home and office of Raucci and State Police found a small explosive device at Raucci's office at the school; it was removed by the State Police Bomb Disposal Unit, the story stated.

Kristen Kwiatkowski, who has a son that attends the school, said: "I thought schools were supposed to be safe. I thought my son was safe, now I question that. Whether the children were a target or not, he endangered every single one of them by bringing that bomb into the school."

Superintendent Eric Ely said that until Friday, he was unaware of the investigation into Raucci and that he only has one complaint in his 36-year-old personnel file, the story noted.

A letter was sent home to parents explaining the incident, the story added.

According to police, additional charges are possible as they continue to investigate other incidents of vandalism, intimidation and attempted use of bombs throughout the Capital Region.

Out sick, time to update

I've been out sick with Bronchitis, but now I'm back, not %100 but better. So now it's time to update things that have happened in Facilities over the last few weeks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Norovirus sickens some at Sparks Middle School

SPARKS, NV — More than 40 students and staff at Sparks Middle School have fallen ill from what is thought to be an outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus whose eradication requires extensive cleaning of surfaces, according to KRNV-TV.

Extra cleaning crews have been assigned to patrol the school with buckets of bleach and water, wiping down common, high-touch surfaces in hallways, bathrooms, classrooms and the library in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the story stated.

Principal Andrew Yoxsimer said: "We just need to remind parents that if their children have symptoms, they need to stay home from school for 72 hours after symptoms disappear. Some students who went home sick yesterday came back to school today. We had to send them back home and exclude them from school for 72 hours."

If parents refuse take their children out of class, the virus will continue to circulate, and because the virus constantly mutates, people can catch it repeatedly, the story noted.

The Washoe County Health Department is still awaiting confirmation that this is the norovirus, but a spokeswoman says it is "probable" that the illnesses are the result of that strain, the story added.

Alleged Attack Puts Newbury College On High Alert

BROOKLINE, MA — A cleaning woman at Newbury College was attacked yesterday by an unknown assailant, according to WBZ-TV.

The unnamed woman, a contract cleaner for the college, was attacked from behind while she was using a power sprayer in the showers on the second floor of Weltman Hall around 1:30 p.m., the story stated.

Lieutenant Philip Harrington said: "She got into a position where she was able to fight the guy off, screaming and yelling, and that’s when the guy fled. He did grab her, but she was able to fight him off."

Vice President of Student Affairs Paul N. Martin sent an e-mail to alert students and staff making them aware of the incident and to ensure that everyone is aware of the possible danger and that they remain vigilant, the story noted.

The attacker is described as having dark skin and was wearing a dark hat and white pants, the story added.

Sustainability initiatives at Southwestern University

GEORGETOWN, TX — Southwestern University President Jake Schrum signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment which formally commits campuses to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions over time and educate students about climate neutrality, according to Community Impact.

Since 2006, more than 600 colleges and universities in all 50 states have signed the agreement; Southwestern becomes the 18th in Texas to sign it, the story stated.

Schrum said: "Colleges and universities like Southwestern who believe in their core values have an obligation to be models for their students' support for sustainability, which is absolutely crucial to saving our planet."

Some of the sustainability initiatives enacted at Southwestern include making recycling bins available in all campus offices, phasing in the use of green cleaning products, going trayless in dining halls and taking various steps to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the story noted.

The university is currently working with the City of Georgetown on the possibility of buying electricity generated from wind power, the story added.

Hotel housekeeper confesses cutting corners @ Old Faithful Inn

YELLOWSTONE, WY — Allison Rupp, who worked as a housekeeper at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, provides insight about what a hotel housekeeper does, or does not do, on a daily basis, according to Yahoo!.

Allison admits to cutting corners everywhere possible; instead of vacuuming, she would simply pick up larger crumbs from the carpet, and instead of actually cleaning a sink, she would simply dry it off to make it appear clean, the story stated.

Rupp said: "If housekeepers were paid more than minimum wage — and the tips were a bit better — I might have cleaned your toilet rather than just flushed it. I never skipped changing the sheets. I wouldn't sink that low, no matter how lazy I was feeling."

Rupp explains that many of the rooms she was required to clean were virtual bacterial wonderlands that caused her to contract the flu twice in one year, the story noted.

She proclaims that even a nice tip, though very rare in her experience, did little to change her work ethic or compel her to perform her job more thoroughly, the story added.

Personal Note:
Makes you think... if one person does this at this inn, then most likely there are more people at this location doing this. I'd stay away from this inn. Read the entire story by clicking the title.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Internal investigation of county cleaning contract

WILKES-BARRE, PA — An internal investigation into how the wife of a suspended court administrator began providing cleaning services for the county is being conducted, according to The Standard Speaker.

The county Children and Youth Services agency violated the county's purchasing policy in 2004 when the agency awarded a contract to Debra Sharkey’s Sweep It Up Cleaning without getting price quotes from competitors, the story stated.

To date, the county has paid Sweep It Up Cleaning $23,875 for cleaning the Children and Youth office in Hazleton, the story noted.

The agency recently sought new bids for cleaning services because the agency moved into a new Hazleton office with a new lease, the story added.

According to the story, county commissioners approved the current $7,200 contract with Sweep It Up Cleaning that was awarded through competitive bidding.

Custodians protest for unpaid wages

CLEARWATER, FL — Cleaning workers picketed outside of the Mercantile building last week for wages not paid for work performed from October to December of last year, according to WTSP-TV.

Anago Cleaning Systems, the company providing janitorial services to the Mercantile building, says Star Sun Management has been behind from the beginning when workers started cleaning the building two years ago; recently, however, they have lagged further and further behind on payments, the story stated.

Anago owner Veronica Shevlin said: "When they went three months behind and now over $12,000, I got scared, so I sent them a letter of possible suspending of the building if I didn't receive the check. At that point, they threatened, telling me to get out of the building with all my equipment and my people. Otherwise, they're going to change the locks and get me for trespassing."

The company charges $4,200 a month for the cleaning services they say were not paid for October through December of 2008, a total of $12,600, the story noted.

Star Sun Management signed an agreement to repay almost $11,000 after some damages were deducted from the total, the story added.

According to the story, nothing has further transpired and it has been a week since Shelvin has heard from Star Sun Management regarding payment.

Wachovia Tower goes green

BIRMINGHAM, AL — Janitorial supply company JanPak Inc. awarded Wachovia Tower a green certification, according to the Birmingham Business Journal.

Wachovia Tower is Alabama's first CleanZone, a designation JanPak offers and manages through on-site surveys, the story stated.

Jason Moore, JanPak’s Alabama representative, said: "We began the process a few months ago with our comprehensive site survey. Based on our findings, recommendations and how ‘green’ Wachovia Tower wanted to be, we converted to environmentally friendly paper products, plastic liners, soaps, hand sanitizers and chemicals."

The program incorporates green cleaning, workplace wellness programs and cost-saving measures to reduce energy consumption, including installing energy-efficient lighting in common areas and in the parking garage and adding an automation system for the 500,000-square-foot building’s HVAC and lighting, the story noted.

The building’s facility maintenance provider, Rite Way Service, has implemented the changes in cleaning and maintenance to the building, the story added.

Larry McAlpin of Rite Way Service said: "We have been training our supervisors, floor techs and front-line personnel on how to properly use more environmentally friendly mops, microfiber cloths, dusters and vacuums. It’s a learning process for everyone, but the improved health benefits of our people, our customers, their tenants and the environment immensely outweigh the extra time spent re-training."

SEIU reduces furlough days in CA

SACRAMENTO, CA — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have reached a tentative deal to reduce furlough days and allow state offices to remain open Fridays, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Schwarzenegger had ordered more than 238,000 state workers to take the first and third Fridays of each month off without pay to save an estimated $1.4 billion annually, the story stated.

SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said: "In the end, the governor made concessions he did not want to make and so did we."

The agreement, which calls for union workers to take off one day a month and allows them to choose the day, applies to about 95,000 members of the SEIU Local 1000 and represents roughly a third of those ordered to take unpaid days off, the story noted.

According to the deal, which must still be ratified by the unionized state workers and would cover the employees through June 30, 2010, workers would give up two paid state holidays — Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day. State offices would be open for business on those days and employees who work them would not be paid overtime. In return, union workers would receive two additional personal days off.

The governor still has the option to order more furlough days if state finances deteriorate further, the story added.

Even more job cuts for Dow

FREEPORT, TX — Dow Chemical will cut another 350 full-time employees from all of the company's 75 Texas plants and the administrative office, according to The Facts.

February 28 is the absolute last day a severed employee can be on-site, though many of them have already left their positions, the story stated.

Freeport plant Manager and Vice President Gary Hockstra said: "I have been impressed by the conduct and professionalism demonstrated by our employees and by our community and business partners here in Texas during this difficult period."

Each of the affected employees have been notified and both union and non-union employees will receive a severance package upon their release, the story noted.

Plants in Texas ran at about 35 percent capacity in December, but production had increased to about 60 percent by late January; weak demand, however, forced Dow to cut costs by laying employees off, the story added.

UnitedHealth Group receives LEED Gold certification

MINNETONKA, MN — UnitedHealth Group's new 10-story building is one of only eight commercial buildings in Minnesota to have earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, according to Finance and Commerce.

The building incorporated environmentally friendly designs like reusing storm water runoff, installing low-flow water fixtures and a weather-sensitive landscaping irrigation system, and installing ergonomic employee workstations, the story stated.

UnitedHealth Group earned its gold-level certification by reaching requirements in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, sustainable materials and indoor environmental quality, the story noted.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is the most widely used environmental standard for commercial buildings and a nationally accepted benchmark for the development and operation of environmentally responsible architecture, the story added.

$22,500 in OSHA fines for paper mill

TOMAHAWK, WI — Packaging Corporation of America has paid $22,500 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines for an explosion that occurred last year at their Tomahawk mill, according to an Associated Press story picked up by WKBT-TV.

The company was cited for four "serious" violations, including poor ventilation for flammable gases, the story stated.

The company's negligence resulted in three fatalities and another worker being injured in the explosion, the story noted.

The Lake Forest, IL-based company paid the fines in full last week, well before the February 12 deadline, the story added.

According to the story, the violations are fully or nearly fixed.

County may charge inmates for toilet paper

DES MOINES, IA — Des Moines County is flirting with an idea to charge jail inmates for their toilet paper use, according to the Des Moines Register.

The idea comes in lieu of a $1.7 million budget deficit with two options for reduction: Cut costs or face employee furloughs and layoffs, the story stated.

According to the county's budget director Cheryl McVey, billing inmates could save more than $2,300 a year, a figure provided by the county jail's maintenance department.

It remains unclear whether inmates would be charged by the sheet, square or roll, the story noted.

Curt Braby, Louisa County sheriff and president of the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, said: "They've got budget problems, and they're looking for places to cut. But what do you do for the guy who hasn't got the dollar for the toilet paper?"

Inmates would likely spend money from commissary accounts if asked to pay for their toilet paper, an idea that is not on the books in any other county, the story added.

Working together to reduce greenhouse gasses

WASHINGTON — The Clinton Climate Initiative and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) expanded their partnership to radically reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment, according to a press release.

Green building creates green jobs that save energy and money — and green building will help save our climate, the release stated.

Former President Bill Clinton said: "Retrofitting buildings represents an immediate and measurable opportunity to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve our economy; they are a priority for my Climate Initiative which is encouraging retrofit projects around the world. I'm proud to strengthen my Foundation's collaboration with the USGBC to accelerate this important work."

To date, the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program has helped partners initiate more than 250 retrofit projects in more than 30 cities around the world, the release noted.

Homes, schools, offices and other buildings account for 38 percent of CO2 emissions globally, the release added.

Animosity between unions

NEW YORK — The animosity between members of UNITE-HERE, the union representing 450,000 workers across North America, is becoming increasingly more intense, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

UNITE is the former Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, and HERE stands for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union; the unions came together in 2004 as a marriage of convenience: UNITE had the money but a declining pool of garment and apparel workers to organize, while HERE had growing restaurant and hotel industries to tap into, but was short on cash, the story stated.

Bruce Raynor, UNITE-HERE's general president, said: "The union is now engaged in a 'civil war' and is leading the charge for a break-up."

Raynor alleges that the former HERE leaders have used their majority on the executive board to undermine his leadership and essentially control UNITE-HERE's assets, the story noted.

On Monday, board members voted on a resolution to divorce the two unions, but it failed.

According to the story, 15 executive board vice presidents announced Tuesday that they have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York seeking to dissolve the merger of UNITE and HERE, the story added.

W.W. Grainger to lay off nearly 400

LAKE FOREST, IL — JanSan distributor W.W. Grainger announced plans to lay off as many as 400 workers, according to an Associated Press story hosted by

The news comes in response to a January sales slump of nine percent, the story stated.

The company hopes to save $25 to $35 million annualy from the layoffs, the story noted.

Grainger says it will not fill any open positions and will cut the hours of part-time workers for the time being, the story added.

Drunken school janitor steals supplies

NORTHBROOK, IL — A custodian at Grove Elementary School was charged with misdemeanor theft and obstructing a police officer after being accused of drinking on the job, stealing janitorial supplies and falsely identifying himself, according to the Northbrook Star.

Ernestino Valdez, a contracted custodian for GCA Services Group, was reported to Facilities Director Doug Heurich after complaints that his breath smelled of alcohol, the story stated.

After checking Valdez's car, Heurich found several empty cans of beer and a roll of the school's brand of toilet paper; a search of the car by police turned up more toilet paper, toilet brushes and a quart of stolen cleaning fluid, the story noted.

District Business Director Kimberly Arakelian said: "All of it wasn't worth $20. At no time was there a safety concern for students or staff."

Valdez, who was released on bond and is scheduled to appear in court March 17, has been reassigned, the story added.

America's Best Restroom contest

CINCINNATI — Nominations are being accepted through March 31 for the eighth annual America's Best Restroom Award presented by Cintas Corporation, according to the Port Clinton News Herald.

The America's Best Restroom contest is open to any non-residential restroom that is free of charge and open to employees, visitors or the general public, the story stated.

Cintas Senior Marketing Manager Keith Hartman said: "There is no question that restroom hygiene plays a big role in determining customer satisfaction and repeat business. Cintas created the ABR Award to honor businesses that combine good hygiene with functionality and exceptional style in their public restrooms."

The contest has attracted tens of thousands of votes since its inception in 2002; past champions have boasted breathtaking skyline views, unique décor and sparkling fixtures, the story noted.

Nominations can be submitted at, the story added.

Wausau Paper suffers $15.8 million loss

MOSINEE, WI — Wausau Paper reported a $15.8 million loss for fiscal year 2008, significantly higher than the $1.8 million loss in fiscal year 2007, according to

Fourth-quarter losses totaled $1.8 million, compared to a net loss of $27.6 million in the year-ago quarter, the story stated.

Thomas J. Howatt, president and CEO, said: "Adjusted results were slightly above break-even levels for 2008 as we continued to implement plans to improve the future performance of each of our businesses. We permanently closed unprofitable capacity in our Specialty Products and Printing & Writing businesses while pursuing strategic capital projects aimed at driving long-term shareholder value."

Net sales for the fourth quarter decreased 9 percent to $275.7 million, the story noted.

Fiscal year 2008 net sales decreased 4 percent to $1.19 billion, the story added.

IMU implementing gender-neutral restrooms

BLOOMINGTON, IN — The Union Board and the Indiana University Student Association passed a plan last week to create gender-neutral restrooms on the first, second and eighth floors of the student activities tower, according to the Indiana Daily Student, the independent student newspaper for Indiana University.

By May 18, the main entrance to the first-floor restroom will be open, and the two stalls, complete with locking doors, will be fully enclosed from floor to ceiling so that two people can use them at the same time, the story stated.

Bruce Jacobs, executive director of the Indiana Memorial Union, said: "Gender-neutral bathrooms provide for the entire campus community no matter what one’s sexual preference is. It is the best way to go to become more welcoming to the entire community. The Union’s basic purpose is to be a place that serves the entire community."

The second-floor and eighth-floor restrooms are already single units, so making them gender-neutral simply requires placing sign stating that they are gender-neutral, the story noted.

Before the plan was passed, the first floor only had a women’s restroom; men would have to go to the mezzanine or third floor to use a restroom, the story added.

According to the university, more gender-neutral restrooms are planned in several buildings across campus.

Tumultuous toilet torching

SAN FRANCISCO — An arsonist targeting port-a-potties has, after a 10-day hiatus, struck again, making a total of 22 toilets torched to date, according to KTVU-TV.

The majority of the incidents spanning three months have occurred at night or very early in the morning, the story stated.

This latest arson, however, is the second in three weeks to have taken place during the daytime, the story noted.

No arrests have been made in the toilet torching scandal, most of which have taken place on construction sites in the Russian Hill area, the story added.

Custodian becomes victim of drive-by shooting

DALLAS — A custodian at NorthPark Center Mall, the largest in Dallas, was the victim of a drive-by shooting that occurred earlier this morning, according to The Dallas Morning News.

About seven rounds were fired into the ground-floor mall entrance around 5 a.m. and struck a custodian cleaning roughly 100 yards away, the story stated.

The custodian was rushed to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas; he is in fair condition, the story noted.

The mall will open for business as usual, though a portion will remain blocked off for further investigation, the story added.

Chris Gray, a morning power walker at NorthPark, said: "That does concern me, but I know they have security here. I will probably be more cautious the next time I come."

Police said they were unable to provide a detailed description of the vehicle or the number of people inside the vehicle. Investigators are hoping to look at a video from a camera mounted nearby to make a positive identification of the vehicle and/or its occupant(s).

According to the story, this is the second shooting at NorthPark Center in less than a year.

“The Black and White of Green” symposium

DULLES, VA — National Independent Sanitary Supply Companies (NISSCO) will be holding a symposium at their annual Conference April 8 at the Gaylord Hotel in Washington, DC, according to a press release.

“The Black and White of Green” will be presented by representatives of the U. S. Green Building Council, LEED, EPA and others, the release stated.

NISSCO President Keith Marcoe said: "There is too much confusing, conflicting and downright inaccurate information being disseminated. We are providing our members with the real facts, from the agencies that are responsible for the guidelines in our industry, now and into the future."

The symposium will help clarify green marketing versus green mandates, the release added.

Rohm & Haas profit decrease

PHILADELPHIA — Specialty chemical manufacturer Rohm & Haas saw an 82 percent decrease in profits for the fiscal fourth-quarter, according to MarketWatch.

Quarterly profits fell from $180 million in 2007 to $32 million in 2008, the story stated.

Driven by accelerating market declines, quarterly sales fell 13 percent, the story noted.

According to a company statement: "The impact of softer demand, higher raw-material and energy costs, and the negative operating impact of volume shortfalls were partially offset by prior pricing actions."

Adjusted pre-tax earnings for the quarter plummeted 68 percent to $31 million, the story added.

Mold forces migration of students

ATHENS, GA — A leaky steam pipe that caused mold growth has forced several students in Mell Hall to seek new homes, according to Red and Black, an independent student newspaper serving the University of Georgia.

One student said she noticed an orange-brown mold taking over her dorm wall and poking out from behind her posters; maintenance attempted to eradicate it with Formula 409 cleaner but the problem continued, the story stated.

Rick Gibson, director of Residential Hall Education and Services, said: "To the best of my knowledge, no one is at risk. It's not like there is this huge mold problem in Mell Hall or any other halls. At certain points in the year the moisture can lead to mold. It's not black mold."

The problem began during Thanksgiving break, after which many students were told any mold problems in their rooms would be fixed; however, the mold got worse and remediation will not be completed until mid-February at the earliest, the story noted.

Some students forced to move off campus because of the debacle have petitioned for rent compensation; their petitions would be considered, though not necessarily accepted, the story added.

Janitor arrested for lewd conduct

NEWARK, CA — A Schilling Elementary School janitor was charged late last week with two felony counts of lewd conduct with a female student who attends an afterschool program at the school, according to The Argus.

Manuel Joseph Castro was arraigned for the incidents that took place in December 2008 and January 2009, the story stated.

The Newark School District refused to comment on whether or not Castro remains employed at the school, the story noted.

Superintendent Kevin Harrigan said: "The district is acting with integrity and in support of appropriate policies and procedures to ensure safety."

Castro is being held at the Santa Rita Jail where his bail is set at $120,000, the story added.

EPA explores pilot for disinfectants and sanitizers

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will conduct an internal pilot in conjunction with the Agency’s Design for the Environment program (DfE) to further explore a policy change that would allow claims of environmental preferability to non-porous hard surface disinfectants and sanitizers, according to a press release.

The purpose of the internal pilot is to increase the understanding between EPA’s DfE scientists and the pesticide registration review staff as to what a review for environmental preferability entails and how that might interface with the pesticide registration process; by law, disinfectants are regulated as pesticides, the release stated.

Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, said: "The internal pilot announced by EPA is a prudent and necessary step in developing a green claims policy that ensures both the continued efficacy of disinfectants, and which allows purchasers to make informed decisions when selecting products with a preferred environmental, safety and health profile."

Under the internal pilot, both DfE and Office of Pesticide Program (OPP) staff will conduct concurrent evaluations of products previously recognized under the DfE program which mimic antimicrobial pesticide formulations, the release noted.

EPA also decided to evaluate a parallel approach by which factual claims could be made about a product’s green attributes, the release added.

$1.6 million toilets collect dust

ATLANTA — The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has decided to remove a dozen self-cleaning toilets installed less than three years ago due to their incessant faulty operation, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The $1.6 million seven-foot-tall automatic toilets, complete with sinks, cannot handle high-volume usage and more than half of them were broken at any given time for various mechanical reasons, the story stated.

State Senator Vincent Fort said: "What was going to be cost savings turned out to be cost-prohibitive. Why didn’t MARTA know the capacity of these units?”

By removing the toilets from the Five Points station, MARTA hopes to save about $945,000 in costs for attendants, janitors and repairs, the story noted.

The toilets will be stored in a warehouse until a less busy station is decided on for their re-installation, the story added.

Exploding dust bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives George Miller, John Barrow and Lynn Woolsey have introduced a bill that would require the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) to issue a regulation to prevent combustible dust explosions, according to Occupational Health & Safety.

The Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act would direct OSHA to issue an interim rule within 90 days and a final rule within 18 months of the bill's enactment; it also would direct OSHA to add combustible dusts to its Hazard Communication standard, the story stated.

George Miller said: "This deadly workplace hazard has been known and understood too long for us to continue to do nothing. [Tuesday's] news that another combustible dust explosion occurred in Wisconsin is further evidence that our nation needs to act. I hope that with today's bill introduction and the arrival of a new administration, our nation will finally help workers and business stop these preventable and, all too often, deadly explosions."

OSHA claims they are already doing enough with stepped-up enforcement and have sufficient standards to address combustible dusts, the story noted.

The introduction of the bill comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the Imperial Sugar mill explosion and fire in Port Wentworth, Georgia, the story added.

Janitor steals from charity

TONAWANDA, NY — A janitor at Mullen Elementary School was charged with four counts of petty larceny for stealing money donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation, according to The Tonawanda News.

School administrators suspected members of the janitorial staff because they have keys to all of the classrooms and are inside the school after hours, the story stated.

Michelle M. Bennett admitted to stealing charity funds from a teacher's desk on three separate occasions after she was caught on camera stealing $48 from a drawer during a staged sting, the story noted.

Bennett was released on an appearance ticket and was told by district officials not to return to school property, the story added.

Procter & Gamble sees 53 percent profit increase

CINCINNATI — JanSan product manufacturer Procter & Gamble reported a 53 percent profit increase for the second quarter of the fiscal year, according to The New York Times.

Earnings were $5 billion, compared to $3.27 billion in the year-ago quarter; the sale of their Folgers coffee brand aided significantly in the earnings and profits increases, the story stated.

Sales fell slightly from $21.04 billion to $20.37 billion, the story noted.

Sales declined in the quarter as a result of lower volume and a stronger dollar, the story added.

Norovirus Strikes Catholic University of America

WASHINGTON — At least 36 students at Catholic University of America have contracted norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus whose eradication requires extensive cleaning of surfaces, according to the Washington Post.

In an effort to curb the virus' spread, the university sanitized several buildings and stressed proper hygiene to students, the story stated.

The first case was reported on January 21; symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea and general discomfort, the story noted.

Dozens of students fell ill when norovirus previously stuck the university in 2006, the story added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no antiviral medication that works against norovirus and there is no vaccine to prevent infection.

BSC sues competitors over illegal labor

BOULDER, CO — A cleaning company is suing two of its competitors, claiming they were able to bid contracts at lower prices because they employ illegal immigrants, according to the Colorado Daily.

Last week, Dustbusters filed a lawsuit against Finishing Touch Janitorial Services and Porter Industries for allegedly using illegals to secure contracts for city and private buildings, the story stated.

According to the suit, "Finishing Touch was able to submit a lower bid than their competitors ... because they knowingly employ or contract with illegal aliens to perform the work and as such, are able to pay those workers less than legal workers."

The city of Boulder requires legal documentation for all workers before a contract is formed; there is no evidence that either company filed falsified paperwork, the story noted.

If either of the companies in question did hire illegals to work for them, it would be a contract violation; however, the companies could keep their city contracts by firing any ineligible workers and replacing them with verifiably legal workers, the story added.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 17 percent of all JanSan employees (an estimated 680,000 workers) are illegal immigrants.

Guilty plea in mold remediation fraud case

NEW HAVEN, CT — The owner of a mold remediation company pleaded guilty to defrauding school systems in Easton, Bristol and Manchester after a long-delayed trial, according to The Connecticut Post.

Ronald Schongar, owner and operator of Microb Phase, the company contracted by several schools to perform remediation work, was first indicted in 2006 on three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud for his involvement in mold fraud, the story stated.

He claimed he applied a product called Microb Shield, which is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and that he had permission from the agency to use it. However, Schongar had no authorization to use or advertise the product as it is owned by Midland, Michigan-based AEGIS Environmental, the story noted.

Some documents seized by police in 2003 supposedly verifying Schongar's qualifications are believed to be counterfeit, the story added.

According to federal sentencing guidelines, Schongar should receive anywhere from four to 24 months in prison.

Kimberly-Clark sees eight percent drop in profit

IRVING, TX — Towel and tissue manufacturer Kimberly-Clark announced that its fourth-quarter profits dropped by eight percent, according to an Associated Press story hosted by

Earnings were $419 million, as compared to $456 million in the year-ago quarter, the story stated.

Total sales slipped three percent from $4.76 billion to $4.6 billion, the story noted.

Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Schmitz Jr. said: "Management is doing right to guide expectations well below the Street as currency, pension and negative manufacturing variances weigh on earnings in 2009."

Kimberly-Clark may cut prices on certain items due to poor sales in North American in Europe, the story added.

Kaivac hires new U.S. sales director

HAMILTON, OH — Kaivac Inc. has promoted Tim Wolf as the company’s new sales director in the U.S., according to a press release.

Wolf, a 2004 graduate of Purdue University and formerly with Select Sales and Marketing based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been with Kaivac for nearly three years, the release stated.

Wolf's first duties with Kaivac were to oversee manufacturer’s representatives as well as distributor sales and marketing in three key Midwestern states, the release noted.

Wolf said: "I am really thrilled about this new opportunity. We have a very talented team of [manufacturer’s] representatives and distributors throughout the country. They are all working hard to ensure Kaivac’s growth and success in the years to come."

Conditions at Connecticut Paper Mill Reap $323,000 in Proposed Fines

VERSAILLES, CT — Cascades Boxboard Group faces $323,000 in Occupational Safety and Heath Association (OSHA) fines for 52 alleged serious and repeat violations of safety standards, according to Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

The inspection found numerous instances of extensive rust, corrosion and physical damage throughout the building that compromise its structural stability, the story stated.

Specific conditions identified during the July inspection include:

· Unguarded machinery and floor openings

· Damaged ladders and lack of fall protection

· Uninspected or inadequately maintained fire extinguishers

· Corroded wire lifting slings

· Lack of personal protective equipment and deficiencies involving respirators, fork trucks, propane tanks, electrical safety, hazardous energy control and hazard communication

· Work in confined spaces.

C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director in Hartford, Connecticut, said: "There is no excuse for employees to work in such conditions. The hazardous conditions must be addressed promptly, effectively, and completely to protect the safety and health of these workers. Failure to pay proper and timely attention to safety and health requirements, including building maintenance, can result in considerable human and financial costs down the line."

Four repeat citations have been issued for conditions similar to those cited in a 2007 OSHA inspection that were never corrected, the story noted.

The company has 15 business days to meet with OSHA or to contest them to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the story added.

Dow slashes 270 more jobs

MIDLAND, MI — About 270 more will join the ranks of unemployed Americans as Dow Chemical lays off another 270 at plants in Plaquemine and Hahnville, Louisiana, according to an Associated Press story hosted by

About 160 of Dow's 1,600 employees in Plaquemine will lose their jobs, along with about 110 of the 1,100 workers at the Hahnville complex, the story stated.

Dow's repeated layoffs are part of a recession-driven worldwide work force reduction, the story noted.

By slashing 5,000 full-time jobs, closing 20 plants and selling off businesses to rein in costs amid sharp declines in demand for its products, Dow expects annual companywide savings of about $700 million by 2010, the story added.

Janitor donates side business profits to school

HEMET, CA — A Whittier Elementary School janitor pledged to contribute 50 percent of the profits from his weekend automobile detailing business to the school he cleans, according to The Valley Chronicle.

Scott Genton has been janitor at Whittier for only a month, but he already has close, friendly relationships with students and staff, the story stated.

"I see how they struggle. They don't have the money for awards and stuff. Obviously it's tough to go and ask the parents because they are strapped to the metal too," said Genton.

Genton charges $20 for cars, $25 for trucks and $30 for lifted trucks, and can make upwards of $400 a day both Saturday and Sunday; he would like to donate around $400 a week to the school, the story noted.

Genton said: "I would like to start a high school yearbook fund. Some students just can't afford them. I'd like to be able to create a fund that would help the kids that can't afford a yearbook to get one. School only comes around once, and once it's done, it's done."

There is no deadline to Genton's donations; he plans to donate for as long as he owns his business, the story added.

For detailed information, or to schedule an appointment with Genton, call (951) 893-7658.

Unisource Worldwide hires Stephen Mohr

NORCROSS, GA — JanSan distributor Unisource Worldwide Inc. has announced the appointment of Stephen Mohr to director of packaging – marketing, according to a press release.

Mohr has more than 25 years of experience in professional marketing, the release stated.

Ed Farley, Unisource senior vice president of marketing and communications, said: "We are excited that Stephen Mohr has joined the Unisource team. He has a wealth of industry experience, and we look forward to his leadership, knowledge of packaging products, and marketing strategy as we continue to grow our packaging business."

Mohr’s creative abilities have led to the introduction of many new products in the marketplace, the release noted.

Mohr earned his bachelor’s of science degree in marketing, advertising and sales management from Indiana University, the release added.

Regal-Beloit closes plant, 120 lose jobs

NEILLSVILLE, WI — The Leeson Electric Plant, which manufactures electric motors for paper mills, will stop production at the end of March, leaving more than 120 workers without jobs, according to WQOW-TV.

According to a representative of the Regal-Beloit Corporation, the company that owns the plant, operations are being outsourced to Mexico in an effort to save money, the story stated.

Neillsville Mayor Diane Murphy said: "It's a big impact for us, for sure. You've got to persuade these companies. It's not like it was years ago. People aren't out there looking for a community to locate in."

Regal-Beloit also owns plants in Black River Falls and Wausau, Wisconsin, but there are no current plans to close those plants, the story noted.

3M sees 37 percent sales decrease

MAPLEWOOD, MN — JanSan manufacturer 3M saw a 37 percent sales decrease in the fiscal fourth quarter, according to an Associated Press story hosted by

Net income for the quarter fell to $536 million or 77 cents per share compared to $851 million or $1.17 per share in the year ago quarter, the story stated.

The global economic slowdown is blamed for the poor fourth-quarter growth, the story noted.

Total earnings for 2008 were $3.5 billion or $4.89 per share, the story added.

United Airlines sets standard for aircraft cleaning

Friday, January 30, 2009

CHICAGO — In an effort to add more value to services and make flying a more pleasurable experience, United Airlines has recently ramped up its cleaning operation for passenger airplanes, according to the Chicago Tribune.

United Airlines has seen passenger complaints about dirty planes fall by 40 percent since it stepped up its cleaning last year, the story stated.

United used to let each of its airports determine how planes would be cleaned. Now, much like the way commercial cleaning services are implementing best practices for cleaning, United headquarters sets the tone and the standards, using a process that is broken into simple steps with clear goals that crews can follow, no matter where they are based, the story noted.

Paul Sanders, general manager for cabin appearance, said: "We want to make sure we use each cleaning agent in the right place, use the right wipes in the right place. The last thing we want is for someone to wipe the [lavatories], then use the same wipe on tray tables."

Aircraft used to go as long as 18 months between heavy cleanings. Now, intensive cleanings are done every 30 days for smaller planes that fly within the U.S. and every 15 days for the wide-body aircraft that cross the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the story added.

Norovirus strikes another cruise ship

Friday, January 30, 2009

HONOLULU — An outbreak of norovirus, a highly contagious gastrointestinal infection whose eradication requires extensive cleaning of surfaces, sickened more than 60 passengers aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship Pride of America, according to KHON-TV.

At least 67 of the 1,837 passengers aboard the ship between the 17th and 24th of January were infected by the virus, the story stated.

Dr. Alan Tice, an infectious disease consultant, said: "Norovirus is something that is always a problem in a confined environment where there are multiple different people coming together. Sometimes the diarrhea can be so bad that it is serious and occasionally people have to be hospitalized for it and it can be very miserable."

In addition to the 67 sickened passengers, at least 14 employees also contracted the virus, the story noted.

Norovirus can survive on high-touch surfaces such as door knobs for several days, the story added.

IFMA donates $25,000 to Habitat for Humanity

Friday, January 30, 2009

WILMINGTON, DE — The Delaware Chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) presented a check for $25,000 to Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County at its holiday luncheon last month, according to a press release.

The $25,000 donation was proceeds from the Delaware Chapter’s 17th annual golf tournament, the release stated.

Kevin Smith, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County, said: "We’re just really grateful to IFMA Delaware for its continued support. IFMA sees what we’re trying to do and has really gotten behind us full force. It’s good to know we’ve got partners like IFMA Delaware that are getting beside us and helping us out."

The nonprofit housing organization plans to use the money to help build 10 townhouses in Wilmington for working families who earn between 25 to 60 percent of the county’s median income; about 70 to 80 percent of those selected are single mothers, the release noted.

The Delaware Chapter has supported the local Habitat for Humanity through proceeds from its annual golf outing since 1995; chapter members have also volunteered their time and expertise during monthly workdays at local building sites, the release added.

Sustainability efforts at Boston University

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BOSTON — Boston University recently hired Kelly Dunn, a sustainability coordinator, to green the school's dining services, according to The Boston Globe.

Some of the efforts adopted by BU since hiring Dunn in October include: An extensive recycling program, converting to green cleaning chemicals, going trayless and purchasing new, energy-efficient equipment, the story stated.

Another effort includes adopting 100 percent compostable utensils in all dining areas, the story noted.

Dunn told the Globe: "We've had some challenges with spoons. They were compostable, but they were starting to melt in soup."

BU's sustainability efforts are part of a larger trend in the greening of dining services across the country, the story added.

Raw sewage floods apartments

Thursday, January 29, 2009

KALAMAZOO, MI — Several residents at the Campus Court Apartments have been forced out of their units by a raw sewage backup, according to WWMT-TV.

Servicemaster was called to the scene to perform the cleanup in all of the eight flooded apartments, the story stated.

Jennifer Falkowski, a displaced resident, said: "There's five inches of water gushing out of every water orifice in our apartment. It was still flowing out into the hallway it was all the way up to the stairs, it was gross, I didn't even go in."

Management said they will pay for the displaced residents to stay at a local hotel until the cleanup is completed, the story noted.

Though many residents' personal belongings are permanently damaged, the flooded units will have new carpet and flooring after the ordeal is over, the story added.

Norovirus and rotavirus sicken many

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ERIE, PA — A duo of viruses has been wreaking havoc on Erie County for the past month, according to the Erie Times-News.

Norovirus and rotavirus, two highly contagious infections whose eradication requires extensive cleaning of surfaces, have been infecting residents, notably schoolchildren, at an alarming rate, the story stated.

Wayne Jones, medical director of Saint Vincent Health Center's emergency department, said: "What's unusual is that we normally see rotavirus when the children go back to school in the fall, and again in the spring. We see norovirus in outbreaks and then it quickly goes away."

Most people recover on their own within 12 to 60 hours, but the illness can lead to dehydration, especially in infants and the elderly, the story noted.

There is no cure for a stomach flu caused by norovirus or rotavirus, but a new vaccine reduces a child's chance of developing the rotavirus version of it, the story added.

Greenwashing forum at University of Oregon

Thursday, January 29, 2009

PORTLAND — The University of Oregon will host an all-day forum on greenwashing, according to a press release.

The event will take place at the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s George S. Turnbull Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, February 6, the release stated.

Deborah Morrison, Professor of Advertising, said: "Greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be 'green' through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush."

Those attending the forum will learn how to identify and control greenwashing, how to educate clients about greenwashing, how to build transparency in their own brand messaging and where to find resources for environmental honesty, the release noted.

The forum is open to the public and will cost $25 for students and $50 for everyone else, the release added.

To register, visit

Custodian gets Habitat for Humanity home

Thursday, January 29, 2009

MCKINNEY, TX — Roberto Osornia, custodian at Wilmeth Elementary School, will soon be the proud owner of a new Habitat for Humanity home, according to The Dallas Morning News.
A custodian at the school since it opened in 2005, Osornia is well liked by students, staff and parents alike in the school and around the community, the story stated.

Genny Gimber, a kindergarten teacher at Wilmeth, said: "Roberto is the type of person who always goes the extra mile. He does whatever is needed and then some, and he does it with a smile. We’re excited be part of this process and to do something in return for Roberto."

To qualify for the house, Roberto and his wife Carolina were both required to volunteer 500 hours of their time to the community; having already completed 450 hours each, the couple has only 50 more hours of volunteering before they are officially deemed homeowners, the story noted.

Wilmeth Elementary had so many families that wanted to help with the build that Habitat for Humanity held a training session at the school; people were encouraged to sign up with the actual build and to do the many behind the scenes tasks necessary to complete a home, the story added.

Kimberly-Clark ranks No. 9 on Green Power list

Thursday, January 29, 2009

EVERETT, WA — The Kimberly-Clark Corporation has made the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) National Top 50 list of the largest green power users for the first time, according to a press release.

Kimberly-Clark's use of an innovative process to utilize waste from the facility's pulp manufacturing process to generate over 220 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually propelled them to No. 9 on the list, the release stated.

Drew Barfoot, Kimberly-Clark's vice president of environment, energy, safety, quality and sustainability, said: "Inclusion on the EPA list of the nation's top green power users is a welcome recognition of Kimberly-Clark's strong environmental commitment and of our company's support for the development of renewable energy. Green power has proven to be a sound, sustainable business decision for Kimberly-Clark."

Kimberly-Clark's production of over 220 million kilowatt hours of green power is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 29,000 passenger vehicles per year, or the amount of electricity needed to power more than 21,000 American homes annually, the release noted.

Kimberly-Clark is also a member of the EPA's Energy Star Program and an energy partner in the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, the release added.

Inadequate cleaning at Peanut Corporation of America plant

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BLAKELY, GA — A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection of the Peanut Corporation of America plant, the source of the nationwide salmonella scare, has revealed a lack of cleaning and maintenance efforts at the plant, according to WXIA-TV.

The report listed things like live and dead roaches in and around washrooms, mold growing near stored peanut products, salmonella found feet away from products and other generally unsanitary conditions throughout the plant, the story stated.

State Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said: "I would want to see [those responsible] prosecuted, maybe really get the industry's attention. If you have something that might be harmful to the public, don't try to hide it — deal with it!"

Mold was seen growing on the ceilings and walls in the firm's cooler and water stains were observed running down from the cooling unit fans in the cooler; finished peanut products were stored underneath, the story noted.

The list of recalled items produced by the plant increased following the inspections and now dates back to January 2007, the story added.

According to reports, the Peanut Corporation of America's Baxley Plant found salmonella in its own tests 12 times over the past year-and-a-half, but went lab shopping for better results and sold the tainted products anyway.

United Stationers lays off 250

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

DEERFIELD, IL — In "a necessary response to market conditions," JanSan distributor United Stationers Inc. announced plans to lay off some 250 employees, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Nearly half of the job cuts will be executed by the end of the week, while the remainder will be enforced by the end of March, the story stated.

The 4 percent workforce reduction will affect both management and non-management positions, the story noted.

President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Gochnauer said: "Through the workforce reduction and other actions the company will be able to better align our expenses with the lower sales levels we are experiencing."

The staff cutbacks will generate a pretax charge of between $2.5 million and $3.5 million, the story added.

Benefit for custodian battling cancer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ELK POINT, SD — The Elk Point-Jefferson school is hosting a fund raiser for a custodian battling against more than dirt and debris, according to the Sioux City Journal.

"Dinner for Al" will benefit Al Brown, the long-time Elk Point-Jefferson custodian battling cancer, the story stated.

The event will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on February 6 during a boys and girls basketball doubleheader at the school, the story noted.

Lasagna, garlic toast, salad and beverages will be served for $4 for students sixth grade and younger and $6 for adults and students seventh grade and older, the story added.

Alligator attacks cleaner

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LAKE WORTH, FL — A man was attacked by an alligator and dragged underwater while cleaning up trash along the shore of Lake Osbourne at John Prince Park, according to WPBF-TV.

Raymundo Velasco was using a skimmer and tongs to collect debris when the eight to 10 foot alligator attacked him; Velasco successfully fended off the alligator and climbed back ashore, the story stated.

Velasco suffered injuries to his arm and hand but continued to work after wrapping the wound in a plastic bag and securing it with crime scene tape left by police from a recent call in the area, the story noted.

Velasco was airlifted to Delray Beach Medical Center after the rare winter alligator attack while a trapper hired by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission quickly came to the scene to hunt the alligator, the story added.

Custodians caught, charged with stealing from school

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

JERSEY CITY, NJ — Two Dickinson High School custodians are charged for their roles in the theft of school equipment, according to The Jersey Journal.

Benjamin Smith is charged with theft while Patrick McCarthy, a prominent figure in local Democratic Party politics, is charged with receiving stolen property, the story stated.

Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said: "As every defendant, Mr. McCarthy is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The scant information we have received is that Mr. McCarthy has a plausible explanation and a very reasonable defense for this charge."

The equipment stolen from the school between December 23, 2008 and January 12, 2009 is worth $1,321 and included two microphones, a cable and a speaker that are part of a larger wireless speaker system, the story noted.

Smith has worked for the district for 14 years and earns $52,657 annually. McCarthy, a principal custodian, has worked for the district since 1980 and earns $46,218 a year, the story added.

And the dirtiest hotel in America is...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NEW YORK — For the third time in four years, the Hotel Carter in Times Square has been named the dirtiest hotel in America by, according to the Daily News.

The hotel, used as a homeless shelter in the 1980s, gained infamy two years ago when a cleaning lady found a woman’s corpse stuffed under a bed, the story stated.

Hotel Manager Erwin Lumanglas said: "We are not bothered at all. Even when they tell us we’re the dirtiest hotel in the world, people are still interested in coming because of the price and the location."

Some complaints from recent patrons include:

· A steady stream of water pouring from the mirrored ceiling into an array of garbage cans arranged below that a security guard described as "a minor problem."

· A picture frame covered in a substance resembling mildew.

· Roaches, bed bugs and other vermin.

· Small and sparsely appointed rooms.

Despite the condition of the hotel and the not-so-rave reviews it receives, a room at the Hotel Carter is still $130 a night, the story noted.

Though the Hotel Carter stole the cheese, three other New York City area hotels made's list of dirtiest hotels, the story added.

DuPont sees profits plummet

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WILMINGTON, DE — JanSan chemical giant DuPont reported a net loss of $629 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, according to MarketWatch.

Quarterly revenue fell to $6.07 billion, down from $6.98 billion in the year ago quarter, the story stated.

Shares dropped in value by 70 cents, in stark contrast to the 60 cents a share profit seen one year ago, the story noted.

Ellen Kullman, DuPont's new chief executive, said: "We do not underestimate the difficulties presented by the current environment."

DuPont has been hurt by the financial crisis that badly bruised many of its customers, the story added.

Budget cuts curtail cleaning frequency

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Community College has made the decision to reduce the frequency of office cleaning from daily to weekly, according to Globe, Salt Lake Community College's Newsweekly.

The reduction in custodial services is due to recent budget cuts, the story stated.

Full- and part-time custodians working day and mixed shifts will be moved to night shifts; the thinking is that custodians can more easily clean empty buildings, thus increasing the efficiency of the department, the story noted.

An e-mail from the Facilities Department said: "We are aware of SLCC's need to become more sustainable while rising to the budget challenges we are being faced with. We feel that we have a way to meet both of these objectives."

Common areas such as the Student Center and classrooms will still be cleaned daily; offices that generate an excess of waste will be provided with additional waste baskets to compensate for the reduced cleaning frequency, the story added.

City's efforts gag graffiti growth

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BRONX, NY — With concerns about graffiti reaching nearly 2,000 complaints a year, the Bronx has reacted with a two-pronged approach: Clean the unsightly tags and hold violators accountable, according to the Daily News.

There were nearly 900 arrests last year in vandalism cases involving graffiti, the majority of which ended in the forced cleanup and repainting of the tagged areas, the story stated.

Through grants, several Precincts have been able to purchase power washers to clean graffiti; volunteers and those sentenced to community service perform the cleaning, the story noted.

Bruce Pinkney, who runs CityServe, a graffiti removal company that has contracts across the city, said: "There definitely has been a trend in more graffiti in the last six months, mostly in vandals writing their tags. Most of the stuff is hip-hop graffiti and some gang graffiti, particularly up in Wakefield. But the one good thing is that people are becoming more aware of graffiti as an issue. Since graffiti became a CompStat number, the interest among police has increased dramatically, because now there’s accountability.”

A number of elected officials have secured city and state funding to hire commercial graffiti cleaning services to respond with free cleaning when residents or merchants request it, the story added.

Cleaning woman caught confiscating with contraband

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DESTIN, FL — Theft, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia are the charges faced by a cleaning woman who tried cleaning out more than just dirt and bacteria in a house she was contracted to clean, according to the Northwest Florida Daily.

Nicole Del Valle allegedly stole a platinum and diamond ring, a 14-karat gold bracelet and $78 cash, discretely hiding the items inside one of her socks, the story stated.

After Del Valle left, and the homeowner noticed the items were missing, she was called back to the house under suspicion that she stole the items, the story noted.

After being questioned by a deputy and initially denying haven stolen the items, Del Valle retrieved the ring from her shoe and the bracelet and cash from her sock; rolling papers and a small bag of marijuana were discovered inside her bra, the story added.

Dow fails to close on Rohm & Haas deal

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MIDLAND, MI — The circus of legislative limbo continues in the seven-month-long Dow Chemical Co. and Rohm & Haas merger-acquisition, according to the Law Blog from The Wall Street Journal.

Rohm & Hass has now field suit against the chemical goliath, claiming Dow is intentionally breaching its obligation to complete the deal even though it has received all regulatory approvals and has the money available, the story stated.

Dow confirmed that it doesn’t intend to close the $15.3 billion merger by the Tuesday deadline due to a slump in the demand for chemicals that started in the fall, as well as last month’s implosion of Dow’s planned $17.4 billion joint venture with Kuwait, the story noted.

McCarter & English partner Howard Berkower, a merger lawyer not involved in this case, said: "The merger agreement is drafted in a way that’s favorable to Rohm & Haas, including the definition of what constitutes a material adverse effect. The definition excludes general economic conditions and financial markets in general. I can understand why courts are generally loathe to force a company to close a deal, but, as us lawyers say, a contract is a contract. At the end of the day, Dow made its bed, so now it might need to lie in it."

It remains unknown if and when the deal will be finalized and what, if any, fines will be imposed on either party, the story added.

SEIU encourages postponing wage increases

Friday, January 23, 2009

SANTA CRUZ, CA — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521 is encouraging workers to postpone pay raises and cost of living increases to prevent the layoff of up to 40 city workers, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

An agreement must be made today or the city will have no choice but to begin cutting back hours and laying off workers to counter the city's $7 million deficit, the story stated.

Councilman Mike Rotkin said: "It didn't hurt that Obama suggested that people give up their salaries so others could keep their jobs. I don't know how much we had to pay him to say that, but it was very helpful."

All of the unions functioning in the city except the SEIU have agreed to curb their pay raises for the time being; City Council members even cut their monthly stipend by 1o percent, the story noted.

City leaders remain confident that an agreement will be made before drastic measures need to be taken, the story added.

Friday's Ask the Experts: Indoor air quality

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday's Ask the Experts question from a cleaning professional on the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) "Ask the Experts" page: My company recently started service at a concrete products mfg. facility. The flooring is hard (vct and tile) with a few carpeted offices. I have been told that the fire alarm has gone off due to dust raised when sweeping, etc. We have to clean these floors twice daily. Could you recommend a quality vac with a dump bag that we could use instead of a dust mop and regular vacuum?

The answer

You have a couple of choices. Use a treated dust mop for “dustless sweeping." The mop head will need frequent cleaning by vacuuming or shaking outside the facility, but, if treated and used correctly, will not raise dust and it is quiet and relatively fast. Have a few spare heads available to save time by changing them out. Don’t use them with a push broom motion or you will raise dust.
Use a back pack vacuum, with good filtration and, again, keep the filters and bags clean. The fine dust will load them up quickly so insist that the units are serviced before each use. There are... — Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor

Dow acquisition cleared by Federal Trade Commission

Friday, January 23, 2009

MIDLAND, MI — The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has given Dow Chemical clearance to follow through with their $15.4 billion acquisition of Rohm & Haas, according to

Dow agreed to sell acrylic plants in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois and California and a latex research facility in North Carolina to satisfy FTC concerns that the merger could eventually lend itself to form a monopoly and hurt chemical manufacturer competition, the story stated.

According to a Federal Trade Commission statement, Dow will have six months after it completes the acquisition to sell the assets or a trustee appointed by the FTC would be empowered to dispose of them.

After clearing this final hurdle in the long-awaited merger, Dow must now complete the deal within two business days, the story noted.

Roush Fenway Racing pledges to be green

Friday, January 23, 2009

CONCORD, NC — Roush Fenway Racing, a four-car NASCAR team, has pledged to work toward green and sustainability efforts both on and off the track, according to

Roush Fenway Racing currently recycles oil, solvents, steel, tires, aluminum, paper and plastic bottles, the story stated.

Jack Roush, owner Roush Fenway Racing, said: "We have an obligation to the global community to give back. The nature of our business is one that we use gas and metals but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the environment. Roush Fenway and Roush Performance have been doing things like recycling, looking into alternative fuels and working on innovated LEED building design features for several years and we will continue to look at what we can do to improve the environment."

All Roush Fenway buildings have LEED building design features, including: Solar shades on southern exposure to reduce solar heat gain and glare, reducing the amount of artificial building cooling required; interior lighting controlled by individual occupancy and photoelectric sensors to reduce electrical usage; motion activated plumbing fixtures to reduce potable water use; and rain and storm water run off capture for landscape irrigation reducing the need for potable water, the story noted.

An LED lighting retrofit across the 25-acre Roush Fenway campus has been proposed that would result in a 530 Megawatt savings of electricity each year, the story added.

Cleaning lady wins lottery

Friday, January 23, 2009

CLIFTON PARK, NY — A self-employed cleaning lady will receive $50,000 a year for the next 20 years after hitting the jackpot on a scratch-off lottery ticket, according to the Daily Gazette.

Pamela Fitch of Mechanicville, NY, had asked for a different ticket, but decided to keep the Big Bucks ticket the clerk handed to her anyways, the story stated.

Fitch said she plans to save the money, an estimated $34,075 a year after taxes, and will continue to work as a house cleaner, the story noted.

Fitch told reporters: "My horoscope said I was going to win the lottery so I just went with it."

Fitch scratched the winning ticket on December 26, but was unable to verify it was a winner until the Lottery office in Schenectady, NY, opened after the holiday weekend, the story added.

Cleaning crew caught stealing

Friday, January 23, 2009

COLUMBUS, GA — Two women from a cleaning crew were arrested and charged with burglary, possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana, according to WRBL-TV.

After Yoshika McQueen and Bernice Miller, who worked for a Columbus cleaning service called the Maid Brigade, were taken into custody, authorities found jewelry, rare coins, cash, a hand gun, digital cameras, cell phones and expensive watches stolen by the duo, the story stated.

Police are still looking for Maurice Jackson, an accomplice whom they say would burglarize homes that McQueen and Miller had recently cleaned, the story noted.

Harris county Sheriff Mike Jolley said: "Well, this should just teach people to be more aware of what's going on. You're going to still have people come in and clean your home, cut your grass, etc., but just be careful and keep an eye on your property."

The owner of the Maid Brigade notified police about the crimes that total nearly $60,000 worth of stolen goods, the story added.

Custodian carjacked on school property

Friday, January 23, 2009

POMPANO BEACH, FL — A Pompano Beach High School custodian was carjacked at gunpoint by two unidentified suspects Thursday morning, according to the Miami Herald.

The two men, one wearing a ski mask and the other donning a skully cap, hid behind a fence and waited for the custodian to approach his vehicle, the story stated.

As soon as the custodian approached his sliver 2007 Chevrolet Silverado with a license plate reading RHN078, the two men held him at gunpoint and demanded his keys, the story noted.

After the armed robbery, which occurred around 6 a.m., police sent out a bulletin to be on the lookout for the vehicle, noting the "Save the Turtles" insignia on the license plate, the story added.

Infections plague U.S. hospitals

Friday, January 23, 2009

FORT WAYNE, IN — U.S. hospitals desperately need to improve cleanliness measures to curb the spread of infectious diseases like MRSA, VRE and C. diff, according to The Journal Gazette.

About 103,000 people die from hospital-acquired infections annually in the U.S., more than from AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined, the story stated.

Betsy McCaughey, chairwoman and founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, said: "With every breakthrough that boosts infection-prevention capabilities, hospitals are increasingly likely to be held legally liable when patients contract infections on site."

A 2007 study concluded that 65 percent of doctors and other medical professionals admitted they had not washed their lab coat in at least a week, even though their uniforms routinely pick up bacteria when they interact with and lean over patients, the story noted.

The single most important step in preventing hospital infections is also the simplest: Cleaning; a hospital's cleaning staff are the "Navy SEALs of infection prevention," the story added.

According to McCaughey, patients should regularly wash their hands and should not be afraid to ask medical staff to do the same.

Interlink's $50,000 pre-approval program

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY — Interlink Financial Services announces their new pre-approval program, according to a press release.

Pre-qualified customers can receive a no-fee pre-approval for up to $50,000, the release stated.

The program helps cleaning and restoration companies secure finances to purchase supplies and equipment, the release noted.

Interlink Financial is extremely well capitalized and has money to loan or lease to qualified cleaning and restoration companies, even in these tough economic times, the release added.

Thursday's Ask the Experts: VCT floors

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday's Ask the Experts question from a cleaning professional on the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) "Ask the Experts" page: What can be the factors causing a VCT floor to be slick when it was burnished?

The answer

There are several things that can cause a slippery floor after burnishing. First, I would make sure the floor has been dust mopped to remove any fine powdered finish generated by the process. Next, check to make sure that dust mop treatment is not being applied over the floor, or that the dust mop itself is not heavily contaminated with buildup, including dust mop treatment residue that can be left on the floor. Also, check to see if dust wands are being sprayed with furniture polish causing overspray to drift onto the VCT. Check for any type of silicone or solvent drifting onto floor, such as WD-40 sprayed on chair wheel bearings, etc. Finally, if the finish has worn off, you may still be able to burnish a shine, but not a gloss. Once the finish is worn, the floors will lose the traction supplied by the floor finish. Only a scrub and recoat can... — Gary Clipperton, National Pro Clean Corp.
(800) 796-4680,

Meth lab cleanup

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SPRINGDALE, AR — Two methamphetamine labs were discovered in an apartment complex that prompted an evacuation and a potentially pricey cleanup, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Tenants from the complex reported feeling ill in the few weeks the lab was in operation; one woman blames the seizure she recently suffered on the fumes from the lab, the story stated.

Tests will be performed on the units that functioned as labs as well as the units adjacent to them; cleanup will cost a minimum of $1,500, depending on the level of contamination, the story noted.

Carlette Anderson, executive director of Haz-Mert, a hazardous materials disposal company, said: "A lot of times we have meth that permeates the walls. We may have to clean three times to get a good level — it's a lot of work."

If tests show the presence of methamphetamine is above the state standard of 0.05 micrograms per hundred cubic centimeters, walls may have to be removed and parts of the complex rebuilt, the story added.

National collegiate recycling competition

Georgetown University is also involved in this:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

KNOXVILLE, TN — The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will compete in an intercollegiate recycling and waste reduction competition for the fourth straight year, according to WVLT-TV.

RecycleMania is a ten-week competition from January 18 to March 28 where trash and recyclables are collected from every building and tallied then ranked and compared to the results of 397 participating colleges and universities, the story stated.

For the competition, sponsored by Make Orange Green, Aramark and Alcoa Inc., 6,000 new recycling bins will be provided and placed in offices and classroom around campus; an additional 840 recycling bins are being strategically placed in residence halls and student apartments, the story noted.

RecycleMania is nationally sponsored and produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise Program, the National Recycling Coalition, the College and University Recycling Council and Coca-Cola, the story added.