Star News http://erstarnews.com The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:52:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Focus on healthy living options and staying younger at the Longevity Expo, April 18 in Maple Grove http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/focus-on-healthy-living-options-and-staying-younger-at-the-longevity-expo-april-18-in-maple-grove/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/focus-on-healthy-living-options-and-staying-younger-at-the-longevity-expo-april-18-in-maple-grove/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:51:13 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787680 Download a FREE pass for 2!]]> ExpoPhotos-TOP

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.—Retired folk and persons considering retirement may want to take in the Longevity Expo, scheduled for April 18 at the Maple Grove Community Center. Speakers at the event, which runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. will cover a wide ranges of topics including how to know when to begin receiving Social Security, and how to give monetary gifts to grandchildren.

Sarah Routman, a wellness instructor at the University of Minnesota, will lead sessions about laughter yoga at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Her morning session will be followed at 11 a.m. by certiifed financial planner Mike Miller, who will talk about the ins and outs of Social Security. Jessica Zimerley, Celine Kitzenberg and Whitney Emanual will discuss long-term care, retirement planning and grandchild gifting at 1 p.m. Kim Pastor will follow at 2 p.m. with a session on reducing stress through seven easy-to-do activities. At 3 p.m., Sharon Peterson will talk about the connection between breath, physical fitness and energy.

On Stage 2, Voni Cameron, RN, will discuss how to weather menopause without drugs at 11 a.m. Hong Kim will follow at noon with a demonstration of Qi-Gong techniques. John Morse will conduct a self-defense seminar for women at 1 p.m. At 2 p.m., Dr. Jerry Zhou will talk about hearing impairment and why people can sometimes hear, but not understand conversations. He will be followed by chiropractor Ryan W. Nolte, who will discuss kinesiology, the study of muscle movement.

Admission to the Longevity Expo is $6 for adults, or free with the donation of a non-perishable food item. Donations go to the Moms & Neighbors Food Drive. The first 100 people through the door will receive a free goodie bag. Show hours are 10 am.-5 p.m.

For more information, contact Rick Martinek, 952-238-1700, or rick@mediamaxevents.com.

LongevityExpo-Passes

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/focus-on-healthy-living-options-and-staying-younger-at-the-longevity-expo-april-18-in-maple-grove/feed/ 0
The Bank of Elk River hosts free breakfasts http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/the-bank-of-elk-river-hosts-free-breakfasts/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/the-bank-of-elk-river-hosts-free-breakfasts/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:56:47 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787675 The Bank of Elk River is hosting its 7th annual Free Breakfast Fridays during the month of April. Customers and the general public are invited to stop by between 7-9 a.m. at the School Street office for a complimentary breakfast. The School Street branch is located off of School Street next to Burger King in Elk River. Breakfast will be provided in the lobby as well as for customers using the drive-through.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/the-bank-of-elk-river-hosts-free-breakfasts/feed/ 0
Mainstreams: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/mainstreams-walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/mainstreams-walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:00:25 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787591 by Jim Boyle

Editor

To walk a mile in the shoes of Lindsey Redepenning, an 11-year-old Elk River girl with Type 1 diabetes, would be eye-opening for anyone without knowledge of the autoimmune disease.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves  Chris Wright, the team president of the Minnesota Timberwolves, presented Lindsey Redepenning, of Elk River, with jersey No. 33, Thaddeus Young, who was later traded away for the return of Kevin Garnett.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Chris Wright, the team president of the Minnesota Timberwolves, presented Lindsey Redepenning, of Elk River, with jersey No. 33, Thaddeus Young, who was later traded away for the return of Kevin Garnett.

Thanks to all the walking and talking she did this year at her school, in front of corporate groups, on television, at a Timberwolves game and on Feb. 21 at the Mall of America for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk for a World Without Type 1 Diabetes, thousands more people know about what it’s like for her and countless others.

She served as ambassador for the walk, an experience she and her family called humbling while recalling the experience of being with 23,000 people who either have the disease or know someone with it.

The diagnosis

The morning of Lindsey’s diagnosis started out with another round of irritability. Something wasn’t right, Tracy Redepenning’s motherly instinct was telling her. She called the family’s pediatrician and made an appointment for the kindergartner for the following week.

That night the family went to celebrate the fact that Lindsey’s sister, Sydney, had landed a role in a play. Lindsey was still irritable and not feeling well.

“She was the angriest kid you ever seen with an ice cream in her hand,” Lindsey’s father, Ross Redepenning, said.

Mom felt Lindsey’s stomach after she complained of a stomach ache at the ice cream parlor. It was distended and hard as a rock. It didn’t move.

“I’m taking her in to urgent care,” Tracy Redepenning recalled, thinking she may have appendicitis.

Once in a doctor’s office, an examination was started. Lindsey asked if she could go to the bathroom, and the doctor asked the nurse to have Lindsey catch a sample of urine.

When the results came back, the urgent care doctor told Tracy Redepenning that Lindsey might have Type 1 diabetes. Lindsey needed to go to the hospital.

Mom kicked into overdrive. Ross, who had taken Sydney home, and Tracy Redepenning needed to make some quick arrangements for Sydney, then 8, and head to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

The news didn’t set in right away at all for Ross Redepenning. Lindsey had been the picture of health as a newborn and in her early years. She met all the milestones. She loved to be active. It all seemed too far-fetched. It became a bit more surreal upon arriving at Children’s to see a packed waiting room and to hear hospital staff say they had a spot for his daughter.

“‘Oh my God,’ I thought, ‘this is real,’” he said in recalling that day.

That would be Lindsey’s first night in the hospital and first insulin shot. Afterward, Lindsey, then 5 years old, pulled her mother close to her and said, “Don’t ever let them do that to me again.”

The heavy coat of emotion draped on Tracy Redepenning got heavier at that moment as she said to herself that life was about to drastically change.

The Redepennings concluded early on, however, knowledge is power and have taken a proactive stance in the effort to get out in front of their daughter’s diabetes and be ready to roll with its punches and demands.

They quickly learned Lindsey had many of the signs of diabetes, ranging from excessive thirst and frequent urination to irritability and a lack of energy.

“Her body was fighting a war within,” Tracy Redepenning said.

There was nothing they could have done to prevent it, either, Ross Redepenning said.

“It’s not caused by diet or lifestyle,” he said. “We couldn’t have done anything different.”

Knowledge is power

Without wanting to sound like a commercial, the Redepennings say Children’s Hospital was an amazing place to be. They started with a parent education piece that didn’t let up at all until they attended six months of classes.

“They help you be successful,” Tracy Redepenning said.

The regimen the Redepennings put in place, however, is subject to continual change. Sports bring about more exercise. Summer brings about more outdoor play. Growth spurts have an impact. Puberty will, too.

Lindsey can eat the same amount of carbohydrates in the afternoon as the morning, but her body will metabolize it differently. She checks her blood sugar at a minimum eight to 10 times a day. When it’s low, she’ll have a treat and check it in 15 minutes again.

Photo by Jim Boyle  Lindsey Redepenning is not texting a friend or playing around on a smartphone. She is checking her blood sugar levels, one of the many tasks assigned to Type 1 diabetes patients.

Photo by Jim Boyle
Lindsey Redepenning is not texting a friend or playing around on a smartphone. She is checking her blood sugar levels, one of the many tasks assigned to Type 1 diabetes patients.

Shots she urged her mother her mother to prevent in the hospital are now routine. She monitors an insulin pump herself and changes an infusion set every two to three days. Sometimes she must check her blood sugar 20 times in a day. Sometimes Ross and Tracy Redepenning need to wake to check on her in the middle of the night.

When Lindsey was at school, all of her insulin checks and shots were initially administered in the nurse’s office at Meadowvale Elementary School.

After she completed one year of school, Lindsey went to a camp for kids with diabetes and on her way home burst out in excitement, “I wasn’t the last person to get lunch.”

Her 535 “routine” visits to nurse during one school year had created an unwanted impediment to normalcy.

“That changed how I looked at her care plan,” Tracy Redepenning said. “We needed to get smarter. I don’t want her to be the last to lunch.”

The Redepennings and the Meadowvale staff worked together to make it more convenient for Lindsey to manage her condition.

Lindsey remains active, including her involvement in Three Rivers Soccer Association. She’ll eat a light meal before her games and check her blood sugar a half-hour into them.

The Redepennings made a commitment early on to their daughter that they would never let diabetes be reason that she can’t or chooses not a play a sport.

“We just accepted that everything is more complicated,” Ross Redepanning said.

A sleep-over party was not easy decision, however.

“That’s a lot to put on another parent,” Ross Redepenning said. “But Lindsey has a wonderful best friend. And her parents were all in for learning whatever they needed to know. It has been really amazing to see what wonderful people you have in your life. You see the caring side of people.”

That was apparent immediately when one neighbor came over to say he had diabetes, and if they needed anything he would be there. It continued to be apparent.

It was ever apparent again this year when Lindsey served as the ambassador for the JDRF Walk. She took part in many speaking engagements, ranging from corporate board rooms to a special program at her school, where she is now in the fifth grade. She also met with Congressman Tom Emmer, was interviewed live on Channel 5 News and gave a talk to kick off the  foundation’s walk — with the Mall of America Rotunda filled with people.

Ambassador roles

Lindsey Redepenning also wrote a letter of invitation to families of recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetes patients. She made calls with amazing results to corporate sponsors who had contributed in the past but had yet to commit to this year’s walk.

But some of the work took a toll. After one corporate talk, she said, “I can’t talk about it for a while.”

Submitted photo  Lindsey’s Lucky Stars team raised more than $12,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk for a World Without Type 1 Diabetes. More than 23,000 people participated in the largest indoor walk in the country at the Mall of America. More than $1.5 million was raised by the annual event.

Submitted photo
Lindsey’s Lucky Stars team raised more than $12,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk for a World Without Type 1 Diabetes. More than 23,000 people participated in the largest indoor walk in the country at the Mall of America. More than $1.5 million was raised by the annual event.

Diabetes will present complications down the road for Lindsey Redepenning. Type 1 diabetics life expectancy is 15 years shorter. There is an increased threat of heart disease, kidney failure, loss of limbs, blindness and seizures.

Talking to people who didn’t know about the Type 1 diabetes was also at times therapeutic. The support she has gotten at her school this year has been amazing, too.

Among the information Lindsey Redepenning relayed was children most often get Type 1 diabetes, but the term “juvenile-onset diabetes” is a misnomer and is no longer used in the medical field. Children do not outgrow Type 1 diabetes and adults can develop Type 1 diabetes as an adult.

One of the main distinctions with Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is with Type 1 the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age but often develops well into adulthood. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetics. In Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As Type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas will make less and less insulin, requiring treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Diabetes’ impact on community immense

The Redepennings said the walk has been fun and empowering. It was Lindsey’s endocrinologist who encouraged the family to attend it the first time.

“It’s a nice way to feel supported and not alone,” Tracy Redepenning said. “It amazes you to see the number of people diabetes affects. There’s a real sense of community.”

As each year passed, their involvement has increased. This year Lindsey was selected to be the ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation One Walk for a World Without Type 1 Diabetes.

Her team has grown, too. Lindsey’s Lucky Stars now includes family, friends, classmates of Lindsey and Sydney as well as colleagues of Tracy Redepenning, who works at Meadowvale.

The family’s approach has shifted to what can they do to help keep the research going and be there for other people. They treat the walk as a celebration of successes, just like they do Lindsey’s birthday
(Sept. 26, 2003) and the date of Lindsey’s diagnosis (Nov. 3, 2008).

This year, they set a goal to raise $10,000 and raised more than $12,000.

Sydney got things rolling by going to her schoolmates to raise money one small donation at a time. She ultimately collected $705.

Students and staff at the elementary school honored their fellow classmate for her selection as the ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation annual walk. They raised more than $2,000 for JDRF.

Students celebrated their success with a “sports day,” spraying teachers with plastic aerosol string, duct-taping teacher Michlynn Boelter to the wall and coloring Principal Karen Maschler’s hair blue. Students were able to learn about diabetes and support their four fellow classmates with Type 1 diabetes.

Lindsey gave a speech to the Meadowvale student body, which was the first time she had gone into great detail with her peers about the disease. She and the three other students at Meadowvale with diabetes were recognized.

“It means a lot to have that much support,” Lindsey said of the recognition. She found that talking about the daily demands was as meaningful as the money that was raised.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/31/mainstreams-walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/feed/ 0
Gymnastics: Kaylee Jondahl, former Elk, is national floor ex champ with UW-Stout http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/gymnastics-kaylee-jondahl-former-elk-is-national-floor-ex-champ-with-uw-stout/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/gymnastics-kaylee-jondahl-former-elk-is-national-floor-ex-champ-with-uw-stout/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 02:49:45 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787668 Kaylee Jondahl strikes a pose during floor exercise at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association meet, on the way to first place. (Wisconsin-Stout photo)

Kaylee Jondahl strikes a pose during floor exercise at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association meet, on the way to first place. (Wisconsin-Stout photo)

 

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Kaylee Jondahl, known for her powerful tumbling and vaulting while starring in gymnastics at Elk River, has captured a national  championship as a college gymnast.

“Everything clicked for me Saturday,” said Jondahl, a Wisconsin-Stout sophomore, about her gold-medal performance on floor exercise at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association meet Saturday in LaCrosse, WI. “I was just doing my thing, having fun, not over thinking, and it went really well.”

Jondahl, who bounced back from a shaky performance on floor in team competition on Friday, was strong in vault both days, tying for third Saturday to add a bronze medal to her gold.

Kaylee Jondahl

Kaylee Jondahl

“Floor has always been my favorite and I’m just so excited to win it at nationals,” said Jondahl, contacted Monday by the Star News.

Jondahl scored 9.800 as she flawlessly executed the soaring routine she’s done for two years, including a front handspring, front one-and-a-half twist, back layout, and step-out on the first pass; a switch-side, wolf full-twist leap series; and a sky-high, double back flip on the second pass.

She had scored 9.350 and placed 33rd in team competition Friday but nailed everything Saturday.

“Kaylee has worked very hard in practice,” said Blue Devil coach Becky Beaulieau, on the UW-Stout web site. “She is the type of gymnast that makes difficult moves look very easy. I am so proud of her. She very much deserves this.”

Jondahl, a business administration major, qualified for nationals on both floor and vault, where she does a tsukahara tuck full twist. During team competition, she raised her school vault record to 9.725, and did almost as well Saturday, earning 9.675.

UW-Stout placed sixth among 16 entrants in team competition.

At ERHS, Jondahl was state champion in vault as a senior in 2013 and second on floor, third on bars and third all-around. Her only other high school season was ninth grade, when she was state runner-up on vault and floor and fourth all-around. She was in club the other two years.

Jondahl said her floor routine was choreographed by her sister Jena, who was a state champion in floor exercise and uneven bars for the Elks, and had three seasons with Winona State, twice placing second nationally in vault in Division III.

With the same routine last year, Jondahl qualified for nationals, and “messed up” the first and third passes as she placed 20th, but she liked all the tricks and stuck with the routine.

“This year, I had a phenomenal regional,” said Jondahl. “I just had to believe in myself and push myself and not over-think it.”

Jena and their parents Jon and Sheri were on hand to watch nationals.

With two years left, Jondahl said she’s hoping to repeat as floor champion while sharpening up her vault to try win that, too, and qualify in beam and bars as well.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/gymnastics-kaylee-jondahl-former-elk-is-national-floor-ex-champ-with-uw-stout/feed/ 0
Lowering Your 2015 Taxes http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/lowering-your-2015-taxes/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/lowering-your-2015-taxes/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:00:06 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?guid=b72e53d000822e1e92eb521e3b8643a0 With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

]]>
With 2014 well over and the spring of 2015 looming, you may find yourself gathering all of last year’s tax information and getting ready to file your income taxes. Maybe you expect a refund or maybe you dread writing a check to Uncle Sam. If the latter, here are some tips to reduce your tax burden for 2015.

Contribute more to your 401(k). You make these contributions in your retirement plan before you pay tax on the money. This lowers the amount of your taxable income, potentially reducing the amount you may owe at tax time and increasing your retirement savings.

Contribute enough of a percentage of your pay to get your employer match. Many employers match around 5% of an employee’s pay.

Take advantage of a deductible individual retirement account contribution. If your employer doesn’t offer a plan, set up and automatically save post-tax dollars to an individual retirement account. Your contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible; withdrawals from a Roth IRA in your retirement will be tax-free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs this year cannot be more than $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re 50 or older) or your taxable compensation for the year if your compensation was less than this dollar limit.

Generally, your deduction for the above IRAs may drop or completely disappear if you already have a workplace 401(k) available and your income exceeds certain limits.

Increase withholding. Changing the amount withheld from your paycheck can help you decrease, if not eliminate, what you owe at tax time. An IRS calculator helps you figure how much to withhold and how much of your paycheck to keep.

Events during the year may also change your marital status or the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits you expect to claim on your tax return. You may need to give your employer a new IRS Form W-4 to change your withholding status or number of allowances.

Make your home energy-efficient. Investing in lowering your home’s energy consumption may open up credits to in turn lower your overall tax bill.

Improvements qualifying for credits include devices to harness solar and wind energy, geothermal heat pumps and electricity-producing fuel cells. These credits often cover almost a third of the cost of installation. You can also credit up to $500 for more usual improvements such as insulation, exterior doors and windows and heating and cooling equipment.

To see if you qualify for these credits, click here.

Start or increase your charitable giving. Giving to help others not only feels good – the IRS also provides some tax breaks for charitable givers. From giving to your church to donating items to the local foundation, you can open your heart and lower your tax bill.

These breaks do come with conditions:

  • You can’t deduct contributions to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates, and you must give to a qualified organization. See IRS Publication 526, “Charitable Contributions,” for what constitutes such an organization and for income limits to claim deductions.
  • To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file IRS Form 1040 when you file your taxes, and you must itemize deductions on Schedule A.
  • If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, event tickets or other goods and services, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Sterling Raskie, MSFS, MBA, CFP, is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill. He is an adjunct professor teaching courses in math, finance, insurance and investments. His blog is Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row, where he writes regularly about investments, retirement savings and financial planning.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

 

 

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/lowering-your-2015-taxes/feed/ 0
Boosting Singles’ Benefits http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/boosting-singles-benefits/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/boosting-singles-benefits/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 23:00:02 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?guid=5d9b2a46c278bd1120ea7de1c72897be If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

]]>
If you’re like most who think about how much you need for your golden years, you probably calculated based on still having a spouse. Widows, widowers and divorcees approaching retirement and about to file for Social Security, though, need to recognize filing options that can significantly increase monthly benefits.

While rules are different for surviving spouses and divorcees than for those still married, you have options as a single senior. You may be able to file for spousal or survivor benefits instead of your own.

Widows and widowers. I recently met with a widowed client who was approaching age 66, which Social Security defines as her full retirement age (FRA). She lost her husband more than 25 years ago, never remarried and didn’t know to claim her survivor benefits (based on the work record of her deceased husband) instead of her own.

A survivor may be entitled up to 100% of his or her spouse’s Social Security benefit if not remarrying before age 60. When we compared both my client’s and her late husband’s monthly benefits, we found that she qualified to collect either her benefit of $2,300 at 66 or her survivor benefit of $2,000 based on her husband’s account. (A deceased spouse’s benefit continually increases to adjust for inflation.)

Most people would choose the higher benefit – in this case, her own. But each person’s individual benefits grow if delayed until age 70; survivor benefits do not. In her situation, her own benefit increases to approximately $3,130 per month if she waits four more years to claim it.

Since she can do without the additional $300 per month, she decided to take her survivor benefits now and switch to her own larger monthly benefit when she turns 70. If she lives to 90, she will collect approximately $185,000 more in benefits using this strategy rather than just collecting her own benefits now, at her FRA.

Divorcees. You can also claim spousal benefits on your ex-spouse’s record. Divorcees’ spousal benefits are typically 50% of the full retirement benefits of the ex-spouse who qualified for such benefits. You must be at least 62 and not remarried and your marriage had to last 10 or more years.

The benefits of your ex-spouse must be higher than your own when you begin claiming yours. As with surviving spousal benefits, this claiming strategy allows you to collect some income before claiming your own full benefit at 70.

If your ex-spouse dies before you do, you may also qualify to collect his or her full survivor benefit instead of the 50% spousal benefit if, again, your marriage spanned at least 10 years. Note: If you are caring for a child younger than 16 or who is disabled, and receives benefits on the record of your former spouse, you do not need to meet the length-of-marriage rule. The child must be your former spouse’s natural or legally adopted child.

We recommend that you start this process at least three months before you want to start collecting these benefits. You will need your late or ex-spouse’s Social Security number and date of birth.

Rules for claiming Social Security benefits are very complicated, so it’s best to consult with a financial advisor or Social Security specialist to understand all options. Ask questions and do the math to make your retirement years even more golden.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Barry Glassman, CFP, is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a fee-only investment management, financial planning and wealth management firm in McLean, Va. He has been honored with just about every Top Financial Advisor Award from the financial planning industry and his peers in publications including Barron’sInvestment News, Reuters, Washingtonian and Virginia Business. Barry provides investment and financial planning commentary on WTOP radio in the Washington, DC area. He is a member of the elite CNBC Financial Advisors Council and contributing writer at CNBC.com, Forbes.com, WTOP.com, Investment News and Financial Planning. Follow Barry on Twitter at @BarryGlassman. His website is www.glassmanwealth.com.

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/boosting-singles-benefits/feed/ 0
Elk River girl, 15, to be on Rachael Ray Show http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/elk-river-girl-15-to-be-on-rachael-ray-show-march-31/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/elk-river-girl-15-to-be-on-rachael-ray-show-march-31/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:43:01 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787657 Kailey Johnson, a 15-year-old Elk River girl, will be featured on the Rachael Ray Show on KARE 11 at 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 31. The Elk River High School culinary artist and member of the ProStart State Championship culinary arts team is having a her wish to be meet Rachael Ray and be on her show by Make-A-Wish Minnesota.

Kailey Johnson, a 15-year-old Elk River girl, will be featured on the Rachael Ray Show on KARE 11 at 2 p.m., Tuesday, March 31.
The Elk River High School culinary artist and member of the ProStart State Championship culinary arts team is having a her wish to be meet Rachael Ray and be on her show by Make-A-Wish Minnesota.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/elk-river-girl-15-to-be-on-rachael-ray-show-march-31/feed/ 0
Inside the Fed’s Thinking http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/inside-the-feds-thinking/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/inside-the-feds-thinking/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:00:04 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?guid=b4342c26f5d623c3e6bd63a693126903 The Federal Reserve bases its monetary policy on augury. Thousands of years ago, Roman soothsayers visited the oracles and interpreted the entrails of slaughtered animals. We haven’t advanced much since then, as a review of the Fed’s most recent prophecy shows.

Fortunately, no animals are slaughtered today, but many brain cells seem to die in the reading and interpretation of policy statements of the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank’s policymaking body, which oversees short-term interest rates. Today’s economists, journalists and pundits pass along the committee’s thinking to the credulous public. Trouble is, it’s unclear whether the FOMC knows what it is saying.

Many well-paid experts make a living off interpreting what the Fed is going to do. They will tell you, with certainty, that the Fed will definitely maybe raise interest rates sometime this year – or perhaps next year – but they’re just guessing.

Consider, for example, when Fed Chair Janet Yellen used the word “patient” to describe the Fed’s approach to raising rates. They know, without a doubt, that at least two meetings will pass before rates would be raised.

How did they know? Why two meetings and not three? And what’s to be made of the absence of the word “patient” or any derivative of it in the latest pronouncement from the Fed?

Since the Fed doesn’t do much, except issue occasional policy statements and print money, being an interpreter of Fed-speak has to be a good gig. I want in. So here’s my interpretation of the Fed’s latest policy statement, issued in the wake of its latest meeting – what FOMC says, versus (in italics) what it is really thinking:

“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January suggests that economic growth has moderated somewhat.” The Fed laid out $3 trillion- plus in bond buying, a stimulus effort called quantitative easing, designed to keep rates low and pump money into the system. And the economy still stinks: Since the Great Recession, gross domestic product has inched up barely over 2% annually, with no real improvement is sight.

“Labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate.” It’s a good thing we have the U-3 unemployment rate to fall back on. This measure conveniently excludes discouraged people who no longer are looking for work. The workforce participation rate is still abysmal, but no one pays any attention to it. It has shrunk below 63% of the population, a level not seen since the stagflation-ridden late 1970s.

“A range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish.” The best that can be said is that fewer people are flipping burgers at McDonald’s – although that may be because of a downturn in McDonald’s business, not because of any improvement in the U.S. economy.

“Household spending is rising moderately; declines in energy prices have boosted household purchasing power.” Personal income is still down: Inflation adjusted, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it this way in 2000, the household statistic shows no room for optimism. Dated from when the recession officially ended in June 2009, for instance, it fell 5.6%. But because our efforts to boost inflation have failed, consumers have more money to spend.

“Business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow and export growth has weakened.” We’ll need to be “patient” a little longer before we increase interest rates.

“Inflation has declined further below the Committee’s longer-run objective, largely reflecting declines in energy prices.” Do not mention that, even after buying more than $3 trillion worth of bonds, we’re now in a period of deflation. Oh, well. At least we’re not Europe. Maybe it’s time to reconsider that arbitrary 2% inflation target.

“Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.” Sooner or later (OK, later), inflation will increase. When it does, we’re ready to take credit for it.

“Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.” Let’s not dwell on how 2% inflation equals “price stability.”

“The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.” There’s no way we’re going much beyond the 2% growth we’ve had since Barack Obama took office. That’s the best you can hope for when you hand control of the economy over to the Fed.

“The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced.” We’re not sure how the labor market is supposed to balance economic risks, but saying something is “nearly balanced” sounds like we’re in some sort of equilibrium, so we’ll leave this sentence in.

“Inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low level in the near term, but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of energy price declines and other factors dissipate. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.” So the best thing that could happen to the economy would be for oil prices to increase. Didn’t we just say that lower oil prices boosted consumer spending?

“To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress – both realized and expected – toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.” We have no idea when we’re going to raise interest rates, but if we wait until we achieve our “dual mandate,” they may remain near zero for as long as we’re alive.

“This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.” Maybe I should refer here to macroprudential supervision? Nah. That one was never much of a market mover. This idea means that the Fed is supposed to more tightly regulate financial institutions and stop speculative bubbles before they occur. The Fed didn’t go such a great job forestalling the dot-com crash and the housing crisis, though.

“Consistent with its previous statement, the Committee judges that an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.” We’re in no hurry to raise rates. When we do, the stock market will tank and we’ll have to start picking up the tab when we visit Wall Street for lunch.

“This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.” We’ve been saying the same thing for months, but now all we did was ax the word “patient.” Not much of a difference in our wording here. Nevertheless, it qualifies as a “change in the forward guidance.”

“The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions. “ Let’s ignore the risk of all of those long-term holdings. When we leave the Fed, it will become someone else’s problem.

“When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.” In other words, you can expect this drama to continue for many years to come, at least through this administration, anyway.

“The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.” We did it: Got through a policy statement without using the word “patient.” Is it time for lunch yet?

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
The Federal Reserve bases its monetary policy on augury. Thousands of years ago, Roman soothsayers visited the oracles and interpreted the entrails of slaughtered animals. We haven’t advanced much since then, as a review of the Fed’s most recent prophecy shows.

Fortunately, no animals are slaughtered today, but many brain cells seem to die in the reading and interpretation of policy statements of the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank’s policymaking body, which oversees short-term interest rates. Today’s economists, journalists and pundits pass along the committee’s thinking to the credulous public. Trouble is, it’s unclear whether the FOMC knows what it is saying.

Many well-paid experts make a living off interpreting what the Fed is going to do. They will tell you, with certainty, that the Fed will definitely maybe raise interest rates sometime this year – or perhaps next year – but they’re just guessing.

Consider, for example, when Fed Chair Janet Yellen used the word “patient” to describe the Fed’s approach to raising rates. They know, without a doubt, that at least two meetings will pass before rates would be raised.

How did they know? Why two meetings and not three? And what’s to be made of the absence of the word “patient” or any derivative of it in the latest pronouncement from the Fed?

Since the Fed doesn’t do much, except issue occasional policy statements and print money, being an interpreter of Fed-speak has to be a good gig. I want in. So here’s my interpretation of the Fed’s latest policy statement, issued in the wake of its latest meeting – what FOMC says, versus (in italics) what it is really thinking:

“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January suggests that economic growth has moderated somewhat.” The Fed laid out $3 trillion- plus in bond buying, a stimulus effort called quantitative easing, designed to keep rates low and pump money into the system. And the economy still stinks: Since the Great Recession, gross domestic product has inched up barely over 2% annually, with no real improvement is sight.

“Labor market conditions have improved further, with strong job gains and a lower unemployment rate.” It’s a good thing we have the U-3 unemployment rate to fall back on. This measure conveniently excludes discouraged people who no longer are looking for work. The workforce participation rate is still abysmal, but no one pays any attention to it. It has shrunk below 63% of the population, a level not seen since the stagflation-ridden late 1970s.

“A range of labor market indicators suggests that underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish.” The best that can be said is that fewer people are flipping burgers at McDonald’s – although that may be because of a downturn in McDonald’s business, not because of any improvement in the U.S. economy.

“Household spending is rising moderately; declines in energy prices have boosted household purchasing power.” Personal income is still down: Inflation adjusted, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking it this way in 2000, the household statistic shows no room for optimism. Dated from when the recession officially ended in June 2009, for instance, it fell 5.6%. But because our efforts to boost inflation have failed, consumers have more money to spend.

“Business fixed investment is advancing, while the recovery in the housing sector remains slow and export growth has weakened.” We’ll need to be “patient” a little longer before we increase interest rates.

“Inflation has declined further below the Committee’s longer-run objective, largely reflecting declines in energy prices.” Do not mention that, even after buying more than $3 trillion worth of bonds, we’re now in a period of deflation. Oh, well. At least we’re not Europe. Maybe it’s time to reconsider that arbitrary 2% inflation target.

“Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.” Sooner or later (OK, later), inflation will increase. When it does, we’re ready to take credit for it.

“Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.” Let’s not dwell on how 2% inflation equals “price stability.”

“The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, with labor market indicators continuing to move toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.” There’s no way we’re going much beyond the 2% growth we’ve had since Barack Obama took office. That’s the best you can hope for when you hand control of the economy over to the Fed.

“The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced.” We’re not sure how the labor market is supposed to balance economic risks, but saying something is “nearly balanced” sounds like we’re in some sort of equilibrium, so we’ll leave this sentence in.

“Inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low level in the near term, but the Committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of energy price declines and other factors dissipate. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.” So the best thing that could happen to the economy would be for oil prices to increase. Didn’t we just say that lower oil prices boosted consumer spending?

“To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate remains appropriate. In determining how long to maintain this target range, the Committee will assess progress – both realized and expected – toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.” We have no idea when we’re going to raise interest rates, but if we wait until we achieve our “dual mandate,” they may remain near zero for as long as we’re alive.

“This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.” Maybe I should refer here to macroprudential supervision? Nah. That one was never much of a market mover. This idea means that the Fed is supposed to more tightly regulate financial institutions and stop speculative bubbles before they occur. The Fed didn’t go such a great job forestalling the dot-com crash and the housing crisis, though.

“Consistent with its previous statement, the Committee judges that an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term.” We’re in no hurry to raise rates. When we do, the stock market will tank and we’ll have to start picking up the tab when we visit Wall Street for lunch.

“This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.” We’ve been saying the same thing for months, but now all we did was ax the word “patient.” Not much of a difference in our wording here. Nevertheless, it qualifies as a “change in the forward guidance.”

“The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. This policy, by keeping the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions. “ Let’s ignore the risk of all of those long-term holdings. When we leave the Fed, it will become someone else’s problem.

“When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.” In other words, you can expect this drama to continue for many years to come, at least through this administration, anyway.

“The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.” We did it: Got through a policy statement without using the word “patient.” Is it time for lunch yet?

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.

Brenda P. Wenning is president of Wenning Investments LLC in Newton, Mass. 

AdviceIQ delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors. It ranks advisors in your area by specialty, including small businesses, doctors and clients of modest means, for example. Those with the biggest number of clients in a given specialty rank the highest. AdviceIQ also vets ranked advisors so only those with pristine regulatory histories can participate. AdviceIQ was launched Jan. 9, 2012, by veteran Wall Street executives, editors and technologists. Right now, investors may see many advisor rankings, although in some areas only a few are ranked. Check back often as thousands of advisors are undergoing AdviceIQ screening. New advisors appear in rankings daily.

 

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/inside-the-feds-thinking/feed/ 0
Spring Clean Up Day is April 25 in Elk River http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/spring-clean-up-day-is-april-25-in-elk-river/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/spring-clean-up-day-is-april-25-in-elk-river/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787603 Elk River’s annual Spring Clean Up Day is set for Saturday, April 25 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Elk River Maintenance Facility, 19000 Proctor Rd.

This event provides a one-stop drop off and ensures environmentally safe disposal.

Items accepted for disposal include electronics, appliances, scrap metal, tires, furniture and mattresses, batteries, general junk, fluorescent bulbs, and propane tanks. Confidential document destruction services will also be available.

This collection is open to all residents of Sherburne County. Proof of residency will be required. Businesses are eligible to participate in the document destruction but are not eligible for disposal of other items.

Household hazardous wastes such as paints, oil, pesticides, and construction debris will not be accepted at this event. Sherburne County will host a Household Hazardous Waste Event on April 27-29 at the Sherburne County Fairgrounds. Contact Sherburne County at 763-765-3000 for more information.

For a complete list of disposal prices, visit the “Links” at the bottom of the city website at www.ElkRiverMN.gov or contact the Environmental Department at 763-635-1000.

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/spring-clean-up-day-is-april-25-in-elk-river/feed/ 0
Hand of gratitude extended to those involved in cat rescue http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/hand-of-gratitude-extended-to-those-involved-in-cat-rescue/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/hand-of-gratitude-extended-to-those-involved-in-cat-rescue/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=787587 by Jim Boyle

Editor

The Elk River City Council took time earlier this month to recognize a handful of city employees for their help in rescuing an Elk River family’s cat.

An intense three-day search gathered the support of the community and came to a successful end thanks to city workers who were able to harness their knowledge of the sewer system and remote control technology to finally spot the cat and eventually corner it so that it could be lifted to safety.

Mason Starr and his cat, Athena, after they were reunited.

Mason Starr and his cat, Athena, after they were reunited.

The cat, named Athena, was taken to a veterinarian and after being checked out was back in the arms of Mason, the 12-year-old Elk River boy to whom the cat belongs.

“You made one boy very ecstatic,” Elk River Mayor John Dietz said. “You should feel good about what you did.”

Dietz said it’s nice to live in a city that’s not too big to reach out in a situation like this one to help out a family. A remote-controlled monster truck equipped with a camera with a trailer for a command post helped bring the search to a successful end. The cat had gone missing for four days was found dirty, scared and dehydrated but uninjured.

Amber Starr, Mason’s mother and the owner of the cat, said at the conclusion of the rescue that it would not have been possible without the help of the community.

“Law enforcement didn’t blow it off. People came out and helped. Some were neighbors. Some came from as far as Minneapolis. The city of Elk River did all it could. It makes me proud to live in Elk River,” she had said after the rescue.

Starr, who had been looking for the cat, spotted the gray feline on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday and called 911.

Community Service Officer Amy Berglund was the first to respond. She came with a net and pole to retrieve the cat but was unsuccessful.

The community came to the family’s aid that night as news went viral on social media. One of the city’s waste water treatment staff members was alerted about 10 minutes before the start of the big game.

Elk River community service officer Jeff Prehatney, Kevin Beadles, Matt Stevens and Dale Eckert were among those recognized earlier this month by Mayor John Dietz (right) and the City Council for their involvement in rescuing an Elk River family’s cat from the sewer. Other city workers not pictured who also helped were Nick Flaherty and former CSO Amy Berglund.

Elk River community service officer Jeff Prehatney, Kevin Beadles, Matt Stevens and Dale Eckert were among those recognized earlier this month by Mayor John Dietz (right) and the City Council for their involvement in rescuing an Elk River family’s cat from the sewer. Other city workers not pictured who also helped were Nick Flaherty and former CSO Amy Berglund.

“I figured I could be of some help,” Nick Flaherty said. “I knew the system.

“Plus, I would hope someone would do the same for me.”

Flaherty said he was encouraged to see how many people came out in the cold to help mount a search effort in the dark.

Flaherty and Matt Stevens, also from the water treatment department, said the Starr family was lucky that the portion of the system the cat entered was fairly limited in size and scope. Other portions of the system would have been considerably more cavernous and difficult to search. There was also a possibility that the cat could have exited the system in an pond-like area.

The search was called off late that Sunday night, but the cat apparently remained.

The following day community service officer Jeff Prehatney and wastewater treatment plant employees Stevens, Flaherty, Kevin Beadles and Dale Eckert as well as many other volunteers came out to brave the cold weather and help continue search efforts on Monday, Feb. 2, and again on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The camera, normally used for investigating grease spills and line inspections, was used to track the cat down. The scared cat, when finally found, could be seen hopping over the camera in hopes of running away. But searchers were eventually able to corner the cat and pull it to safety after noon on Feb. 3 by CSO Prehatney.

“It was a heartwarming day,” said Stevens, the chief operator of the treatment plant. “That boy was a happy kid. It made you feel good.”

Stevens and other waste water treatment plant workers and community service officers were also involved last July in the rescue of seven ducklings that ended up in the sewer system after becoming separated from their mother. The ducklings were reunited with the mother duck upon rescue. A worker sprayed water to move the last of the seven ducklings toward the waiting net.

Elk River City Administrator Cal Portner and Dietz decided their efforts warranted recognition. Portner said working closely with 150 people, you know the efforts city workers put in on a daily basis, but the public doesn’t always see it.

“We’re like umpires in a baseball game,” Portner said. “If everything is going well, we’re invisible.”

]]>
http://erstarnews.com/2015/03/30/hand-of-gratitude-extended-to-those-involved-in-cat-rescue/feed/ 0