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East Texas Review » » Community News
The Community Paper Everyone Should ReadSun, 30 Aug 2015 19:48:32 +0000en-UShourly1Strategies for Mold Prevention
http://www.easttexasreview.com/strategies-for-mold-prevention/#commentsSun, 30 Aug 2015 15:00:40 +0000http://www.easttexasreview.com/?p=17265
Mold – it’s not a fun subject, but it’s a serious one – even in the summertime. Flash flooding from summer storms can cause standing water around buildings. Flooding and leaks are the leading causes of mold in homes, and recent studies show that approximately fifty percent of all homes have been affected with moisture problems leading to mold issues.
“Without a doubt, the best strategy is prevention”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Left untreated, mold infestation remediation can be as cumbersome and costly as a complete home renovation.”
Mold can irritate the eyes, the skin, the throat, nose and lungs. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung conditions may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. It can also damage and stain walls, roofs, carpets and flooring, costing homeowners both time and money.
In 2014, BBB received 107,446 inquiries nationwide related to mold and mildew inspection and removal.
BBB, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising homeowners to be proactive when it comes to dealing with mold and mildew and take the following measures to keep mold at bay:
1. Keep Humidity Low
The lower the humidity in the air, the lower the moisture, resulting in a decreased chance for mold. The EPA recommends a humidity level of 30-50%. Open the window or run the exhaust fan when showering and vent all appliances which create moisture.
2. Give Your Roof Some Love
Make sure to keep your roof in working order. A leaky roof leads to a moldy house. Make sure to keep your gutters in good stead as well.
3. Air Conditioners
Keep air conditioner pans clean and drain lines working correctly.
4. Increase Air Temperature
The EPA says increase air temperature. Some good options for doing this would be increasing your home’s insulation or purchasing a dehumidifier.
5. Keep Water Away from Foundation
Make sure the ground slopes downward away from your home. Water pooling around the foundation of your house is a sure recipe for mold.
6. Be Proactive The EPA attests that there is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture. If you notice a leak in your shower faucet or sink, repair it immediately to avoid the ideal habitat for mold. Clean and dry any wet or damp surfaces within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Vent all bathrooms, kitchens and other moisture-generating sources to reduce indoor humidity and prevent mold growth.
If your home is already a victim of a mold attack, it’s important that you choose your contractor wisely. Check with at least three contractors before deciding on one, and make sure you are comparing apples to apples, not just the cost.
If you are unsure but have some indication that your home has been affected (odor, water damage, stains), ask a Certified Mold Inspector for assistance. They have the proper know-how in pinpointing the exact location of undetected mold problems.
Remember, before making any purchasing decisions, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.
As a general rule, America divides itself into three groups: The positive, the negative and the realists. It is my complete conviction that those who are optimistic and positive really are the realists.
To begin with, my 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary does not contain the word “pessimist,” although it does contain the word “optimist.” The pessimist and negativism are relative newcomers, created possibly by the super communications systems we have developed in the last 150 years. Much of the news featured in the media is of a negative nature.
As a matter of fact, J. Allan Petersen, in his publication, “Better Families,” says, “There is a pervading negativism that has infected and affected us all. Humanity is prone to a negative mental attitude.”
Conversation is too often negative, critical and gossipy, which spreads like wildfire among friends and associates. This kind of negative talk is more destructive, over the long haul, than we can imagine. It’s still true that “one bad apple spoils the bunch,” but the good news is that one upbeat, motivated, enthusiastic individual who smiles and has a cheerful disposition can raise the sights and feelings of those around him or her.
I have made the observation that negative thinking, which I refer to as “stinkin’ thinkin,” is more catching than the flu. One individual sharing a negative observation in a group brings out the negative thoughts of everyone present, which can lead to a serious pity party. On the other hand, a positive comment from even one person can also light the fire of other positive thoughts, and the first thing you know, an optimistic group of people are talking in a positive vein. Since no one has ever proven that negative thinking produces better results than positive thinking, obviously, positive thinking is the more desirable. Dr. Petersen goes on to say, “Research shows that for every one negative thing you say to a child, you must say four positive things to keep the balance.” And yet, too often we emphasize the flaws and failures. We are too slow to praise. That’s sad, because many people have commented that a sincere compliment restarts their batteries and keeps them running for days at a time. That’s important, because very few people will continue to work in a negative environment if they have other options.
In this tight labor market, brought about by our booming economy, to have a productive person leave is very expensive. To replace the productive person, you must advertise, interview many people, go through the time and expense of testing and qualifying, and so on, before a suitable replacement can be found. A positive environment, a simple “thank you for a job well done,” an upbeat, friendly approach are all positive, friend-making processes that will reduce turnover and improve the bottom line.
We need to go back to the positive phrases that have lifted people out of the doldrums for years, statements like, “If life hands you a lemon, make yourself lemonade,” “In every cloud there is a silver lining,” and so on. Dr. William James, the father of psychology, says that the most important discovery of our time is that we can affect our lives by changing our attitudes. He points out that attitude is a choice; we can literally choose to look at things in a positive vein or choose to look at things in a negative vein. The more we take the negative approach and discuss our problems and the difficulties in society, the more problems we will have to discuss. It’s amazing what taking the more optimistic approach will do to improve our own personal lives, our family lives and society in general.
The message is clear. Far more people win with the positive approach, so take it, and I really will see you — and society — at the top!
]]>http://www.easttexasreview.com/positive-or-negative/feed/0Texas AG : Former RadioShack Will Pay
http://www.easttexasreview.com/texas-ag-former-radioshack-will-pay/#commentsSat, 29 Aug 2015 18:18:48 +0000http://www.easttexasreview.com/?p=17301
WILMINGTON, DE – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced a settlement has been reached with the former RadioShack that will see the former retail electronics giant paying the entire value of their unredeemed gift cards purchased by consumers as a priority claim in the bankruptcy. The settlement, announced in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, DE, applies to consumers nationwide and does not impose a minimum dollar threshold. This settlement is supported by the Attorneys General of New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Tennessee, and New Hampshire.
“This is a victory for consumers in Texas and nationwide who spent their hard-earned dollars on these gift cards with full confidence that the company would honor them,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I’m pleased that their voices were heard, and that, if approved next month by the bankruptcy court, they’ll get their money back with a minimum of bureaucratic red tape.”
An independent professional claims agent company will be approved by the Bankruptcy Court to review and process the claims. Consumers will have 12 months after RadioShack’s plan of liquidation goes into effect to file a simplified Proof of Claim form that will be available online or they can file their claim by mail if they prefer. Merchandise Returns and certain promotional gift cards given away without consideration that do not qualify as “priority” claims under applicable bankruptcy law will be paid as general unsecured claims.
Former Radio Shack is expected to file the motion to approve the settlement Friday.
Texas Attorney General Paxton has taken a lead in protecting consumers during former RadioShack’s bankruptcy proceedings. Other actions taken related to the RadioShack bankruptcy include:
· March 25: Attorney General Paxton files objection to the sale of personally identifiable information of 117 million RadioShack customers.
· May 20: A coalition of 38 states, led by Texas, joined together to oppose the sale of consumer data. Under the terms of the settlement agreement reached after mediation, the overwhelming bulk of RadioShack’s consumer data will be destroyed;
· July 30: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton added a new count to the lawsuit against RadioShack to protect the interests of consumers holding unredeemed gift cards with the company.
LONGVIEW, Texas — Buckner Children and Family Services will present a FREE foster care and adoption information meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 at Buckner’s offices, located at 110 E. Cotton.
A Buckner representative will give an overview of foster care and adoption options in Texas, including foster-to-adopt, Waiting Texas Children, domestic infant adoption and international adoption programs. For information or a reservation to attend the meeting, please call Debbie Sceroler at 903-757-9383 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more than 136 years, Buckner Children and Family Services has been transforming lives through hands-on ministry, serving the most vulnerable from the beginning to the ending of life. Buckner is one of the oldest and most unique faith-based social service organizations of its kind, serving more than half a million people each year in the United States and worldwide. To learn more about foster care and adoption services through Buckner, visit beafamily.org.
]]>http://www.easttexasreview.com/foster-care-adoption-meeting-slated-2/feed/0Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Endorses Bryan Hughes
http://www.easttexasreview.com/lt-gov-dan-patrick-endorses-bryan-hughes/#commentsFri, 28 Aug 2015 18:15:01 +0000http://www.easttexasreview.com/?p=17251
AUSTIN – Dan Patrick, Lt. Governor of Texas, endorsed State Representative Bryan Hughes Tuesday in the race to replace retiring District 1 State Senator Kevin Eltife.
“Bryan has earned the respect and admiration of conservatives all across Texas for his work in the Texas House. He is just the sort of leader we need to join our tremendous conservative team in the Texas Senate. Bryan is a principled and reliable conservative. I need Bryan Hughes, a true conservative, with me in the Texas Senate in the 85th Legislative Session that begins in January 2017,” said Patrick.
Lt. Governor Patrick recorded a video message that is being sent to voters throughout District 1. [https://youtu.be/qKNBz3qfeJs]
Patrick has already committed to appear at two fundraising events in support of Hughes, one in Austin September 1st and one in Tyler later this fall.
More information about Texans for Dan Patrick is available at www.DanPatrick.org.
]]>http://www.easttexasreview.com/lt-gov-dan-patrick-endorses-bryan-hughes/feed/0Find the Secrets of Longview in the Discover Longview Tour
http://www.easttexasreview.com/find-the-secrets-of-longview-in-the-discover-longview-tour/#commentsFri, 28 Aug 2015 15:31:02 +0000http://www.easttexasreview.com/?p=17243
Discover the secrets of Longview in a comfortable guided bus tour of the wonderful attractions and beauty of the Longview area! The Longview Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau has scheduled the final 2015 Discover Longview tour for Friday, September 11. These tours are a great tool used by anyone in the Hospitality Industry for providing information to visitors. Human Resource managers and employers also find the tour helpful in their effort to attract and retain employees.
The tour is FREE but seats are limited and reservations are required. Participants receive a helpful resource manual and will tour key attractions in Longview and the surrounding area while riding on a comfortable bus. The tour starts at 8:30 am. A delicious lunch is provided and the tour wraps up about 2:30 pm. For more information contact Ryan Polk at 903-753-3281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations can be made online at www.LongviewChamber.com/eventdirectory. Presenting Sponsor of the Tour is VISA and Gold Sponsor is Corner Bakery & Café.
Whether you are in hospitality, human resources, are a new employee, new to the area, or someone whose family has been here for generations, Discover Longview is a great way to learn more about the hidden treasures in your community.
Graduates receive free training material and certificate of completion.
Kasey Quezada worked as a secretary for the Smith County Adult Probation Department before deciding to go back to school and become a probation officer. On Monday, Ms. Quezada was recognized in Commissioners Court for 20 years of service to the county.
Her supervisor, Brenda Culpepper, said 20 years represents a lot of life.
“She is a faithful employee who goes to wherever she is needed,” Ms. Culpepper said.
DeAnn Owens was also recognized for 20 years of service to Smith County.
She is a clerk for Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace James Cowart.
“DeAnn is a great asset to our office and is a wonderful clerk,” Judge Cowart said. “My office and Smith County are blessed to have her here as a clerk.”
Additional Smith County employees to receive recognitions for years of service include:
15 Years: Melissa Tapley, Adult Probation; and Kenneth Graham and Monica Powell, Juvenile Services;
10 Years: Bonnie Maxfield, Auditor’s Office; and Ronnie Flanagan, Road and Bridge;
5 Years: Kendra Tuck, Juvenile Services; and Christin Kelm, Sheriff’s Office.
UT Tyler MBA Program in Health Care Management one of the nation’s best
The University of Texas at Tyler master of business administration in health care management program has been recognized as one of the best in the country, Dr. James Lumpkin, College of Business and Technology dean, announced.
The online program is ranked 15th nationwide in its category by The Best Schools – an independent, national organization. This achievement puts UT Tyler among major business schools, including George Washington University, Northeastern University, Hofstra University, Drexel University and the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth.
“We appreciate the entrepreneurship, teamwork and dedication of our faculty within the College of Business and Technology, and we’re proud of their great work,” President Mabry said.
UT Tyler’s program began in 2012 with just 51 students. Enrollment increased by 290 percent and 73 percent in two years, respectively. Currently 431 students are enrolled, and the college anticipates another increase of at least 25 percent.
An MBA in healthcare management equips healthcare professionals with essential business and leadership skills they need to effectively manage healthcare organizations. The degree also attracts managers moving into the huge healthcare industry from other fields. The specialized training helps managers deal with the unique challenges of managing a healthcare organization, such as controlling costs while maintaining high-quality patient care.
For a complete list and additional information, visit thebestschools.org/rankings/best-online-mba-healthcare-management-degree-programs/.
For more information about the UT Tyler College of Business and Technology, visit uttyler.edu/ HYPERLINK “http://www.uttyler.edu/cbt”cbt.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler features excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 8,000 high-ability students. UT Tyler offers courses at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine as well as a location in Houston.
Texans are encouraged to renew their vehicle registration at Texas.gov
Texas.gov and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) are reminding all Texans that the online option for renewing a vehicle registration is still available. With the launch of the new Two Steps, One Sticker program on March 1, 2015, vehicles must first pass an inspection. When ready, Texans can head directly to Texas.gov/Driver (www.texas.gov/driver) to complete their renewal.
The process for taking care of a vehicle registration renewal online is very straightforward:
1. Get your car inspected. The inspection station will provide you with a Vehicle Inspection Report for your records. This information is also sent automatically to the state’s database. (Note: From March 1, 2015 through February 29, 2016, you may renew your registration without passing a new inspection if your vehicle already has a current, passing inspection unless your inspection and registration stickers expire in the same month. Visit www.twostepsonesticker.com for more details.)
2. Go online to renew your registration. Texas.gov/Driver is the easiest way to access the online service. Your inspection information will already be in the system and you can finish the renewal in just a few minutes.
3. Receive your sticker in the mail. After verifying your renewal, the county tax office will mail the registration sticker to you. “We want Texans to have access to TxDMV services around the clock,” said Executive Director Whitney Brewster. “The time-saving process of online vehicle registration renewal allows you to take care of business when and where it’s convenient for you.”
In partnership with TxDMV, Texas.gov processed nearly three million online vehicle registration renewals in 2014, and all 254 counties in Texas offer this convenient, secure service.
Consumer Alert: In order to safely take care of your government business online, beware of unofficial, look-alike websites operated by private organizations that may charge unnecessary fees for services or information. Instead, make sure you are using the State’s official website, www.texas.gov, or an official state agency website to complete your online transaction. To access an official website, enter the URL in the address bar at the top of your Internet browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.) instead of entering the address in a search engine bar (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Also look for the .gov or .state.tx.us extension which will be present in the URLs of all official Texas state government websites.
Texas.gov is the official website of the State of Texas (www.texas.gov) and is a collaborative public/private partnership managed by the Department of Information Resources (DIR). Texas.gov helps state and local government entities web-enable their services and operates without appropriated funds through a partnership between the State and Texas NICUSA, LLC. Texas NICUSA builds, operates, maintains, and markets Texas.gov and is part of eGovernment firm NIC’s (NASDAQ: EGOV) family of companies. Since its launch in 2000, Texas.gov has securely processed more than 247 million financial transactions and collected more than $33 billion on behalf of participating entities.
]]>http://www.easttexasreview.com/two-steps-one-sticker/feed/0Education Expenses: Tax Credits Can Help
http://www.easttexasreview.com/education-expenses-tax-credits-can-help/#commentsThu, 27 Aug 2015 17:00:54 +0000http://www.easttexasreview.com/?p=17230
With the start of another school year upon us, the Internal Revenue Service reminded parents and students that now is a good time to see if they will qualify for either of two college tax credits when they file their 2015 federal income tax returns.
“Getting a higher education can be costly, but tax credits can provide some relief,” said Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman. “To help determine eligibility for these benefits, taxpayers should visit the Education Credits Web page or use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant tool. Both are available on IRS.gov.”
In general, the American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit is available to taxpayers who pay qualifying expenses for an eligible student. Eligible students include the taxpayer, spouse and dependents. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit for each eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit provides a maximum credit per tax return.
Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year. To claim these credits on their tax return, the taxpayer must file Form 1040 or 1040A and complete Form 8863, Education Credits.
The credits apply to eligible students enrolled in an eligible college, university or vocational school, including both nonprofit and for-profit institutions. The credits are subject to income limits that could reduce the amount claimed on their tax return.
Normally, a student will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by Jan. 31 of the following year. (For 2015, the due date is Feb. 1, 2016, because otherwise it would fall on a Sunday.) This form will show information about tuition paid or billed along with other information. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits. Taxpayers should see the instructions to Form 8863 and Publication 970 for details on properly figuring allowable tax benefits.
Many of those eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Students can claim this credit for qualified education expenses paid during the entire tax year for a certain number of years:
The credit is only available for four tax years per eligible student.
The credit is available only if the student has not completed the first four years of postsecondary education before 2015.
Here are some more key features of the credit:
Qualified education expenses are amounts paid for tuition, fees and other related expenses for an eligible student. Other expenses, such as room and board, are not qualified expenses.
The credit equals 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent and 25 percent of the next $2,000. That means the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualified expenses for an eligible student.
Forty percent of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is refundable. This means that even people who owe no tax can get an annual payment of up to $1,000 for each eligible student.
The full credit can only be claimed by taxpayers whose modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $80,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $160,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $180,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $90,000 or more.
The Lifetime Learning Credit of up to $2,000 per tax return is available for both graduate and undergraduate students. Unlike the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the limit on the Lifetime Learning Credit applies to each tax return, rather than to each student. Also, the Lifetime Learning Credit does not provide a benefit to people who owe no tax.
Though the half-time student requirement does not apply to the lifetime learning credit, the course of study must be either part of a post-secondary degree program or taken by the student to maintain or improve job skills. Other features of the credit include:
Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance qualify as do other fees required for the course. Additional expenses do not.
The credit equals 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return. That means the full $2,000 credit is only available to a taxpayer who pays $10,000 or more in qualifying tuition and fees and has sufficient tax liability.
Income limits are lower than under the American Opportunity Tax Credit. For 2015, the full credit can be claimed by taxpayers whose MAGI is $55,000 or less. For married couples filing a joint return, the limit is $110,000. The credit is phased out for taxpayers with incomes above these levels. No credit can be claimed by joint filers whose MAGI is $130,000 or more and singles, heads of household and some widows and widowers whose MAGI is $65,000 or more.
Eligible parents and students can get the benefit of these credits during the year by having less tax taken out of their paychecks. They can do this by filling out a new Form W-4, claiming additional withholding allowances, and giving it to their employer. Details can also be found in the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center on IRS.gov.