Angel Night Puts Extra Twinkle in ‘The Nutcracker’

By Natalie Salvione
Ballet Arizona

angel-night-1-img_0077At Ballet Arizona, our holiday season does not truly begin until we start rehearsing for “The Nutcracker.” “The Waltz of the Flowers” can be heard in the studios in the middle of October and does not stop until our last show on December 24. The beautiful music is one of the unwavering details that makes this performance magical. Another is our Angel Night performance of “The Nutcracker,” which will take place on December 8.

angel-night-2-dscn3472The evening before opening night is always dedicated to our Angel Night program, where every seat is filled by smiling children, happy parents and families. The year-long program offers free tickets to social service organizations and disadvantaged families and individuals. The biggest one however is “The Nutcracker” show, where every seat is free.

To cap-off the angelnight3-dscn3480evening, as everyone exits Symphony Hall, children are given take-away bags filled with pencils, toothbrushes, toys, stickers and free happy meal cards. This performance gives some of these children and families a chance to have a normal holiday season, a pinch of happiness and sometimes a whole lot of hope.

This small but impactful detail would not be possible without the angel-night-4-dscn3492support and hard work of all the CopperPoint employees who, year after year, help stuff Angel Night Goodie Bags. An assembly line is made in a conference room and employees drop in and out throughout the day as we get our groove going with some music in the background and get to know each other as we work. Each year is a bit different, but the one thing that never changes is the positivity and impact that this group of employees does for our Angel Night guests.

THANK YOU!

CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a corporate sponsor of Ballet Arizona.

Cheaper Gas, Increased Driving Lead to More Road Deaths

U.S. highway fatalities rose by 7.2 % in 2015, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 35,000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rise in fatalities was the highest percentage increase since 1966, when fatalities rose by 8.1%, the NHTSA’s data shows.

NHTSA attributed the increase to increased driving because of job growth, cheaper gasoline prices and more driving by young people. The agency said that while more driving was a major cause, other factors should be considered.

Nearly 50% of those killed were not wearing their seat belts. Drunken driving, speeding and distraction from mobile devices also contributed to the increase with almost one in three fatalities involving drunk drivers or speeding, and one in 10 fatalities involving distraction, reports revealed.

“The data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, drowsy or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”

According to the NHTSA, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who died in roadway accidents increased in 2015 more than any other year since 1995. Accidents that took the lives of motorcyclists rose by 8% in 2015. The report also showed vehicle miles traveled in 2015 was 3.5% higher than in 2014, which was the highest one-year increase in 25 years.

In response to the increase in traffic deaths, the NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House are issuing a call to action to involve researchers, safety experts and data scientists in helping to determine the causes of the increase.

“Despite decades of safety improvements, far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Solving this problem will take teamwork, so we’re issuing a call to action and asking researchers, safety experts, data scientists, and the public to analyze the fatality data and help find ways to prevent these tragedies.”

New Gender Pay Laws: What Employers Need to Know

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Recently, the federal government announced its intent to gather detailed information about the pay practices from businesses with more than 100 workers to address gender discrimination, making employers subject to a heightened pay transparency standard by the end of this calendar year.

What has been proposed?
The proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action will require businesses to provide report employees’ earnings by gender, as well as race and ethnicity, to make it easier to identify pay gaps.

Who will be impacted?
This action will apply to businesses with more than 100 workers, encompassing more than 63 million Americans.

How will employers report the information?
Currently, employers complete the EEO-1 form on an annual basis, providing demographic information about race, gender, and ethnicity. New reporting would also require salary and pay information to be included.

Why has the change been proposed?
Announced on the seventh anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a federal law that overturned a Supreme Court decision making it easier for employees to bring equal pay claims, the goal of additional data-gathering is to allow the EEOC to identify businesses that might have pay gaps, and then target those who are discriminating on account of gender.

When will employers be subject to the new law?
It is anticipated that the revised EE0-1 form with pay collection data will be approved and put into effect this fall. Employers will have to submit pay data for the first time in September 2017.

What should employers do now?
It is critical for affected companies to make it a priority to review current pay systems, and identify and address any areas of pay disparity to minimize increased scrutiny next year.

Through internal gender-specific audits, employers can determine whether pay gaps exist and have time to determine whether disparities can be justified by legitimate and non-discriminatory explanations, or whether corrective action will be needed.

This alert provides an overview of a proposed new federal regulation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

For more information about this proposal, or how it may affect your business, please contact Shayna Balch, partner at Fisher & Phillips or via phone, 602.281.3406.