Monday, November 28, 2011

Pennies for Presents campaign now on

If you've been saving your pennies for a rainy day, now is the time to cart out your coppers.

The 22nd annual Pennies for Presents campaign is currently underway to collect coins for Christmas gifts for Tri-Cities kids.

All funds will be donated to SHARE Family & Community Services Society to purchase presents for tots, tykes, tweens and teens who otherwise might not get to unwrap anything over the holidays.

Last year's Pennies campaign brought in more than $21,000, breaking the previous record by $3,000.

Since the annual coin drive began more than two decades ago, Tri-Cities residents have donated nearly $180,000 to the cause.

Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, loonies, toonies, bills and cheques can be dropped off at The NOW's office at 201A-3430 Brighton Ave. in Burnaby weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office is across from the Production Way-University SkyTrain station.

Cheques should be made payable to SHARE Family & Community Services. For more information, contact The NOW at 604-444-3451.

Donations will also be accepted at the following Tri-Cities locations:


- RCMP detachment at 2986 Guildford Way.

- Coquitlam Fire Hall No. 1 at 1300 Pinetree Way

- Ridgeway Community Police Station at 1059 Ridgeway Ave.

- Burquitlam Community Police Station at 560 Clarke Rd.

- SHARE Family & Community Services at 20025 King Edward St.

- Scotiabank at 953 Brunette Ave.

- Scotiabank at 465 North Rd.

- Scotiabank at Coquitlam Centre


- Port Coquitlam Fire Hall No. 1 at 1725 Broadway St.

- Downtown Port Coquitlam Community Police Station at 2581 Mary Hill Rd.

- Northside PoCo Community Police Station at 3312 Coast Meridian Rd.

- Scotiabank at 4100-2850 Shaughnessy St.


- Port Moody Police Department at 3051 St. Johns St.

- Port Moody Fire Hall No. 1 at 200 Ioco Rd.

- SHARE Food Bank at 2615 Clarke St.

- Scotiabank at 2501 St. Johns St.

Monday, October 3, 2011


THERE has never been a better time for us all to try to save money but wouldn’t it be great if we could make savings without sacrificing the things we love and if we could tighten our belts without squeezing the fun out of life? Author TESS READ believes it is possible: ‘I’ve worked in finance and business for many years and I’ve found there are many ways of cutting costs without cutting back on enjoyment. Whatever your situation, there are ways to save.’ Here are Tess’s Top 10 Tips...

1. Money – the basics. Take control of your finances. It’s almost never worth paying a monthly fee for a current account with a bank, so if you do, stop and switch accounts now. The Nationwide’s current account has no monthly fee, has benefits such as free travel insurance and the profits don’t go to line the pockets of any bankers because it is a mutual. It’s free to switch and all your direct debits will be carried over.

2. Credit cards, the good, the bad and the ugly. The good news about credit cards is that if you can pay off the balance in full each month they are great things, especially those offering you cashback like the cards from the Halifax or Co-op. The bad news is that if you have something like the average UK credit card debt, £3,000, and you pay off only the minimum 2 per cent balance, it will take you 45 years to pay off the debt, costing £7,600 in interest!
The ugly truth is that the credit card companies often have the minimum payment ticked for you as the default option so always try to pay more than the minimum. with the £3,000 debt, if you pay off £100 per month it takes only a bit over three years to pay off the debt and costs £1,000 in interest, a saving of £6,600.
Look at the minimum repayment calculator on to work out how long it would take to pay off your debt on different repayment amounts. If you have a lot of credit card debt, try getting a bank loan instead.

3. Household cleaning expenses and how to cut them drastically by cleaning your home with a lemon. Yes, really. You don’t
need dedicated cleaning products for different cleaning jobs in the home, instead you can use the wonder items of bicarbonate of soda, white wine vinegar and lemons. Visit for more information and some great advice.

4. Not shopping but swishing. Swishing parties are great ways of finding clothes that are new for you while you exchange old

clothes that you don’t need any more. Look at to find swishing parties near you. often you pay a small entrance fee (about £3 and that usually goes to charity), bring along

5. Great holidays without great expense why not think about exchanging your home for someone else’s for your next holiday? The website has people from all corners of the world and the UK who are looking to stay somewhere in exchange for you staying in their home. If you don’t have an available property then maybe couchsurfing is for you. Look at or for cheap camping why not camp in someone’s garden?
Check out

6. Need your house redecorated without vast expense? Maybe a television crew would do it for you for free. You can register at

7. Save money on parking. Parking can often be expensive, be it on the street or in a carpark, but if you rent someone’s drive you can save pounds. Take a look at parkatmyhouse. com, or parkonmydrive. com to see what you could save.

8. Don’t let the supermarkets push your trolley around. They should not be in control of what you buy with their bright signage, eye-level marketing and clever store layouts which have milk in one corner, cereal in the opposite corner. Instead make a list of what you actually want and need and try to stick to it. Change shops when deals change: have loyalty to yourself not to a supermarket.

9. Water is money. If you have fewer people in your house than bedrooms then the rule of thumb is that you could save money with a water meter. If you live in England your water company will fit a meter for you for free. There are lots of free gadgets you can get from your water company which will mean your home uses less water without you even noticing and with a water meter this will save you money too. Check out to find out more.

10. Shhh – don’t tell them it’s a wedding. If you are planning the big day one tip that can save you pounds is not to tell the caterer, the entertainment and even the cake maker (if you are planning an unusual cake) that it’s a wedding. They routinely double their prices compared to any other special event, like a birthday or an anniversary. You should probably tell the photographer though!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bible Camp Kids Raise a Cool Thousand for Children's Hospital

Children learn about charity, saving and how every little penny adds up over four-day summer program at Fellowship Church in Middletown.

A group of Middletown-area kids attending summer Bible camp recently gathered enough loose change to make a $1,100 donation to the Hartford children’s hospital.

In four days.

Fellowship Church on Saybrook Road hosted 104 children from July 5-8 in grades kindergarten to sixth, and using the PandaMania curriculum, participants rotated through stations like drama, music and crafts throughout the day, while hearing stories to help them understand God.

On family night, a check for $1,100 was presented to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

“We have had several children in he past year who went to the CCMC,” said Lara SantaMaria, director of children’s ministries at Fellowship.

“One little boy who was born with a rare disease actually was going regularly and now he’s considered cured. The parents talked a lot about it and the great care they received.”

Each day, SantaMaria said, children were asked to go home and collect different coins: pennies on Monday, nickels on Tuesday, ect. "We asked people to dig out their piggy banks," she said. "Obviously, the families helped."

Still, she said, “I was surprised they raised so much money — in change."

“They’re very competitive, so we had a competition between the boys and the girls,” she explained, and instead of declaring a winner, the children were told, “anyone who goes to the Connecticut Children’s Center is actually a winner.”

More than 55 volunteers were involved throughout the week.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Program on saving money planned for kids at libraries

Buck, the mascot for Susquehanna Bank's MegaBuck$ Kids Club, will be visiting city libraries for "Mind Your Pennies," an interactive discussion on saving money for kids.

There will also be story time and crafts. The dates are:

July 12, 11:30 a.m.: Reading Public Library, Fifth and Franklin streets.

July 12, 2 p.m.: Reading Public Library Northwest Branch, 901 Schuylkill Ave.

July 13, 1:30 p.m.: Reading Public Library Northeast Branch, 11th and Pike streets.

July 13, 3:30 p.m.: Reading Public Library Southeast Branch, 1426 Perkiomen Ave.

• The Celebrant Singers will perform on Friday at 7 p.m. at Rosedale Grove, 1616 Vine St., Laureldale

• Dr. Susan Phillips Speece, retiring Penn State Berks chancellor, recently received a certificate of appreciation from William E. Donahue, director of campus police and security at University Park, in recognition of her unwavering commitment to Penn State Berks police.

Speece's vision, leadership and support during her tenure were cited as helping campus police establish a reputation for high standards of performance, professionalism and leadership within the Berks County law enforcement community and the Penn State University system.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elementary school students make strides in raising funds to save Asian Elephants

During a slumber party at the Christiano residents, fifth grade students at Lindbergh Elementary School in Kenmore, Vinnie Christiano and Alex Rine, asked Mrs. Jeanne Christiano if she had a box that they could use so they could start saving some pennies.

Jeanne kindly agreed and the boys began their savings. Rather than saving for a new bike or a new video game, Alex and Vinnie wanted to raise money to help save the Endangered Asian Elephant.

After multiple fund-raisers that were initiated by the two students and supported by school officials including bake sales, chicken dinners, and collecting pocket change from parents, the grand total of funds raised was $500.

“We originally set a goal of $400. I am still in aw that we have made it this far,” Alex said.

Denise Rine, Alex’s mother, was so pleased with the success that her son and friend, Vinnie, achieved that she called the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey to offer them the donation in support of their elephants.

To her surprise, they were not accepting donations. Instead, they transferred her to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), which is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to funding elephant conservation and research programs around the world.

Deborah Olsen, executive director of the IEF, was impressed by the amount of funds the boys raised, and the passion that Alex and Vinnie had for the cause. She suggested that the funds should be used toward research for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV), an often-fatal disease that infects baby elephants in zoos and in the wild.

In turn, the boys, their classmates, teachers, and family members were thrilled to hear the announcement that their efforts in fund-raising were going to make a difference for suffering elephants.

“The elephant population is small. Not a lot of people like elephants or big animals because they think they are rough, rude, and mean,” said Alex. “But, they aren’t like that at all. They only react badly if you are in their territory. They need our help.”

The compassion and love that Alex and Vinnie have for elephants has made global news. Not only did Olson find the cause impressive, she decided to spread the news to zoos across the country.

As a result, the Buffalo Zoological Gardens, the Denver Zoological Gardens, the San Antonio Zoological Gardens and Aquarium, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Dickerson Park Zoo, the Dallas Zoo, the Riverbank Zoo and Garden, the Elephant Managers Association, and the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey have all agreed to match the $500 that Alex and Vinnie raised currently increasing the funds to more than $6,000.

“I am speechless. Alex just loves animals, he pours his heart and soul into the elephant conservation and the general well-being of animals,” Denise said. “The ambition that these two boys had to reach their goal is unbelievable. Truthfully, I don’t think they are finished with this yet.”

In addition to zoos matching the funds, the Greenville Zoo and individual board members of the IEF have each donated $100 and the Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, in addition to already contributing a comparable amount of money to the cause, have agreed to match the total funds raised by all contributing parties.

“We could never have imagined this result,” said Denise. “Their teacher, Wendy Cummins, taught a lesson during class that stressed the idea of ‘you can make a difference.’ The boys really listened to this and look where it got them. People really can make a difference.”

For more information regarding the IEF, EEHV, or to learn how you can donate, visit

For more local news and sports, go to

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G coming by June 15 with dual-core, Android 2.3

You T-Mobile users out there better start saving up your pennies because the drool-worthy HTC Sensation 4G will be in stores by June 15 and you’re probably going to want it.

The HTC Sensation 4G will be the first T-Mobile phone to rock the dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor for lightning-fast performances. This will also rock the latest version of the Sense UI and you can check out the Flyer review to see what this adds to Android 2.3. Basically, it’s a smart and pretty user interface layer that should be pleasing to most, even the die-hard Google fans.

The T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G sports a 4.3-inch qHD display with a 16:9 orientation and this means it’s a bit slimmer in the hand than some of the giant Android phones we’ve seen before. I held a prototype in my hands a few weeks ago and I can tell you that this is an absolute delight to hold – it’s light without feeling cheap and it just rests in your hand perfectly. HTC is even bringing innovation to the battery cover, as some of the radios are integrated into the back case itself for a nearly groove-less design when you pop it open (little difficult to explain, we’ll have video shortly).

Speaking of radios, the T-Mobile HTC Sensation 4G is called 4G for a reason, as it sports HSPA+ capabilities for up to 14.4 Mbps download speeds. We would have loved 21 Mbps down like with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G but I guess that’s not too bad. Other radios include WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. The handset rocks an 8-megapixel camera that can record in 1080p HD, has 1 GB of internal storage to go along with the microUSB slot and it has 768 MB of RAM.

We should have a review up for you very shortly, so keep it locked here and let us know what you would specifically like to know about the handset. Are you excited yet?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Penny the Will Rogers dog playful after recovering from surgery

After five weeks of little movement and needing a sling to help her walk and “do her business” while recovering from hip surgery, the Will Rogers School dog hit by a car in March is now running and playing with toys in a backyard.

The dog, now named Penny, was originally called Bailey upon rescue, so Sherry Claybrook of Saving Pets at Risks calls her “Penny Bailey.”

It was mid-March when the wandering puppy was hit by a car in front of Will Rogers School, with that accident witnessed by many of the students walking to school.

The dog captured the hearts of students and staff of the elementary school, where a fundraiser was held to help pay her veterinary bills. The students gathered their pennies, change and dollars, and raised $1,700, Claybrook said.

They also had a contest and named the dog Penny because of all the pennies they collected to help pay for her care. Penny underwent surgery for a fractured pelvis, among other injuries, with veterinarians putting steel plates in her hip. With help, she slowly began to heal and learned to walk again.

As she recuperated, she was kept in rehabilitative care by Claybrook and her husband, Tom, where she became part of their family.

She spent much of her initial recovery time in a dog kennel to limit her movement for healing. With injuries limiting what her bladder could hold, the couple had to take Penny out for frequent breaks, including many 3 a.m. walks, with one of them leading her on the leash and the other holding the sling that kept her pelvis still and her feet off the ground.

The first night she didn’t need to go out at 3 a.m. “was like a baby sleeping through the night,” Claybrook said.

Claybrook said the dog has made an amazing recovery. And other than a shorter coat in areas where she was shaved for surgery, or a slight hobble in her step, one wouldn’t know the ordeal she’s been through.

The veterinarian never thought the dog would walk, Claybrook said, and now she’s romping around the backyard, playing with dog toys.

“We’ve both become really attached to her — we’ve bonded,” she said.

Penny, who will be spayed Monday, should be ready to go home with her new owner by the end of next week. A Will Rogers third-grade teacher who helped the dog the day of the accident has adopted Penny.

Michelle Lanham heard the accident from her classroom and ran outside to help the injured puppy. Animal control was going to take the dog, but the school librarian called Claybrook because of her affiliation with SPAR.

“I fell in love with her and I wasn’t going to let her go,” Lanham said, adding the minute she looked into the dog’s eyes, “she was mine.”

Lanham, who said SPAR got the dog immediate care, said she and her family can’t wait to get her home.

“I can’t imagine life without her,” she said.

In addition to the what the students collected, other private donations helped pay the $4,000 bill for Penny’s care so far, Claybrook said, but she’ll need follow-up care.

Those wanting to help SPAR with rescue efforts, or get more information about SPAR, can go to:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Some savings tips as gas nears $4 a gallon

Four-buck gasoline is a reality again for some American motorists. Only this time, unlike 2008, the price spike follows years of deep national recession and its aftermath, including rampant job loss and home foreclosures.

That means many households’ battered budgets are less able to absorb higher gas prices.

Paying $4 per gallon means a household spends $4,800 on gasoline in a year, assuming two vehicles getting 25 miles to the gallon and traveling 15,000 miles.

For consumers, a long-term solution to higher gas prices is to drive less or drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. In the short term, it matters more “how” you drive than “what” you drive.

Here are suggestions for saving money on gasoline, with help from the U. S. Department of Energy, Consumer Reports, the Alliance to Save Energy and

Don’t spill the coffee: The biggest savings will come from avoiding aggressive driving. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.

Not sure what less-aggressive driving is? Imagine a lidless cup of coffee in your car’s cupholder. Drive like you don’t want to spill it. That means gradual acceleration and gentle braking.

Potential savings vary widely but are significant. At $4 per gallon, gas savings could range from 20 cents to $1.32 per gallon, based on Energy Department figures. That’s a savings of $240 to $1,584 per year for that two-car household described earlier.

Speed costs: Consumer Reports found that slowing from 75 to 55 mph boosted gas mileage 33 percent in testing performed on a family sedan and a large SUV.

American idle: Idling yields zero mpg. Don’t bother warming up your car or keeping it running while waiting for passengers. The rule of thumb is to turn off your car if you know you’ll be stopped for more than 30 seconds, Consumer Reports says. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas idling than those with small engines.

Trunk junk: An extra 100

pounds in your vehicle could reduce your gas mileage by up to 2 percent, or about 8 cents per gallon. Roof junk —carrying large items on the roof of the vehicle—creates drag that can cut gas mileage 5 percent.

Use cruise: Cruise control is steadier on the accelerator pedal than you are. You might try it on lower-speed suburban roads. Edmunds. com called it a “surprisingly effective way to save gas.”

Find cheaper gas: Compare gasoline prices at, Gas- and gas-prices. Of course, you don’t want to drive far out of your way to save a few pennies. Savings will be lost traveling to a distant service station. will send you an e-mail alerting you to the lowest-price gas on your commute. Gas price information also is available via smart phone apps, such as Gas Buddy and AAA’s TripTik Mobile.

Use GPS: Computerized travel directions from GPS devices or smart phones can help find efficient routes, even among multiple destinations. That can save time, hassle and gas. If you don’t have a device, use a website such as .

Of course, plotting a route by hand works, too, using a folding map or road atlas. Several devices and websites also alert you to traffic jams, a gas-mileage killer.

Seek discounts: Be on the lookout for promotions and sales that get you gasoline station gift cards for free or at a discount. For example, you might be able to redeem credit card rewards points for a gas card. And Choice Hotels, which owns such properties as Comfort Inn and Clarion, is offering a$50 gas card when you book two stays before May 4.

Make radical changes: Change your work hours to avoid rush-hour traffic, use carpools and ride-sharing programs, take public transportation, walk or bike to work, or work from home.

Shop online: If you spend evenings or weekends running errands, consider ordering products online and let someone else pay for the gas. That’s doable if you can find free shipping online or lower product prices to compensate for shipping fees. Free shipping often comes in the form of a coupon code used at online checkout. Use a search engine with keywords “coupon code” and the retailer’s name.

More math: Make gas mileage a criterion as you select your next vehicle. The difference between choosing a vehicle that gets 20 mpg and 30 mpg is huge. Assuming $4-per-gallon gas, you would save $1,000 a year per car.

Some advice on saving gas is dubious.

Stay cool: Don’t sweat the argument over staying cool with air conditioning versus lowering the windows. testing found neither made a huge difference to gas mileage.

Inflate tires: The U. S. Energy Department says underinflated tires can increase fuel consumption more than 3 percent. However, a test by couldn’t find much effect on gas mileage, although properly inflated tires are important for safety and to reduce tire wear.

Gas additives: Advertisements for gasoline additives that supposedly deliver better mileage are exaggerations or outright lies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has tested more than 100 of them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Coupon clippers stockpiling items, saving hundreds on food bills

On a recent shopping trip, Tara Whitaker watched the tally on the register climb to more than $543 while the cashier scanned enough items to feed her family for weeks.

But then she handed over her coupons, and watched that number fall - all the way to below zero. She actually had to grab a carton of milk to bring the total to $1.23.

That's right. For the price of a pack of gum, Whitaker bought enough meat, dairy, rice, pasta, snacks and pantry items to keep her family of three fed for a long time.

The 29-year-old mom is one of a new wave of coupon-clipping enthusiasts - most of them women who scour the Internet, newspapers and sales ads with the goal of paying next to nothing for groceries.

"I was spending around $150 a week," said Whitaker, who began using coupons around five years ago and now teaches classes several times each month. "Now we spend about $20 to $30 each week."

There's much more to it than clipping a coupon or two from the Sunday newspaper.

Scoring such deep discounts involves knowledge of store policies, sales cycles and a little bit of planning. This is 21st century Home Economics.

Hundreds of websites, many run by young mothers like Whitaker, have sprung up online in recent years. There's the Krazy Coupon lady, the Coupon Mom, the Coupon Queen, Coupon Diva, even a Coupon Dad.

The Learning Channel aired a program called "Extreme Couponers" a few months ago. People featured on the show spent hours clipping coupons, planning shopping trips and stockpiling items they purchased for pennies, in some cases. One man had a stockpile of more than 10,000 items in his garage with an estimated worth of $50,000 to $75,000. That included more than 1,000 bottles of body wash and more than 1,500 sticks of deodorant.

"There is no reason to get carried away like that," Whitaker said at a recent class. "You should only get what you'll need for the next month. It will go on sale again, I promise."

Her shopping trip that resulted in more than $500 of savings wasn't typical. She planned a big trip to demonstrate for The Tuscaloosa News how many items can be purchased for so little. She planned to donate more than half of it to charity. During that trip, she bought 363 items and used 317 coupons. She purchased the coupons used on the trip online for $10.

To get all those groceries for such a low price, Whitaker used the techniques she teaches in her classes. She used the coupons to buy items that were already discounted at the store. A lot of the coupons were worth more than the store's sale price. For example, she bought 89 packages of yellow rice at a sale price of 64 cents, and used 89 coupons for $1 off. The $31.59 overage went toward other items such as chicken, meat, strawberries and milk.

During a typical week, Whitaker uses about 40 coupons or fewer. The coupon use only results in an overage every five trips or so, she said.

She has an ample stockpile of items she bought with coupons while they were at their lowest price, which helps cut down weekly costs. Stockpiling is the key to lowering your grocery bill, she said.

"It takes awhile to stockpile, because not everything is going to be on sale the first week that you start off," she said. "It will probably take about two months before you get the hang of it and start seeing a difference in your budget."

Whitaker, who works as an accountant by day, said that a lot of people are turned off or intimidated by the idea of couponing because they think it takes a lot of time.

"I spend about 30 minutes a week organizing everything," she said. "That 30 minutes is worth it to me because I save a lot of money."

Azia Patrick, 28, began using coupons a few months ago when she realized her family was spending a lot of money at restaurants on top of $150 to $200 in groceries. Patrick, a property manager at an apartment complex in Tuscaloosa, said that her family eats out often and she uses coupons to cut costs in other areas.

"We are an eating-out family, so that's the reason I do it," she said. "I think that you have to have a reason, or you're going to get burned out. I know that we're going to spend money at restaurants, so I figured that cutting costs for groceries would be a way to save."

She was a little frustrated at first, but soon became hooked.

"When you have that really good first transaction where you save more than you spend, that's when it just clicks and the light bulb comes on," she said. "You think 'I've got to do better next time.' "

Her first major haul happened when she used a $25-off coupon for transferring a prescription for free medication to Publix. She used coupons on top of buy-one-get-one-free sales and ended up spending $7 and saving $82.

She started a Facebook group called Tuscaloosa Coupon Friends and plans to hold coupon swaps each month. The group has a class planned today, followed by a swap. She said she spends about an hour or an hour and a half on Sundays clipping newspaper coupons and about an hour on Monday mornings printing coupons online. She enjoys sharing her new hobby with friends who are amazed by her smart shopping.

"I think a lot of people relate because they see a real person doing this, not someone on television," she said. "It's realistic. If I can do this, you can do this. It really is not that hard. You just have to have a game plan and put a little bit of time into it."

As the price of food continues to climb, people's interest in saving money will very likely do the same.

Food prices at the wholesale level rose 3.9 percent between January and February, the biggest monthly jump since November 1974. Wholesale costs jumped 7.3 percent over the last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government reported that for individual consumers, the price of food prepared in the home has increased 2.8 percent in the last 12 months.

Food costs are expected to rise even further, with record-high energy prices, a weak U.S. dollar and rising labor costs all adding up to increased costs to the consumer. Gas prices are soaring. People have lost jobs. For many who haven't, pay increases are an expectation of the past. It makes sense that coupon use has gained in popularity as people are forced to make ends meet with less.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fairfax savings become spending

Fairfax County wins the Ben Franklin award of the day for saving their pennies – more than $12 million worth of them, in fact. The savings came from third quarter 1 percent cuts across most agencies, resulting in actions like taking a couple of ambulances off of overnight duty.

In addition, the county stocked up another $12.4 million in unexpected third-quarter revenue increases, boosted in part by a bump in local sales tax driven by holiday spending that was up 10 percent over last year.

But as old Ben's adage goes, "a penny saved is a penny earned," and a penny earned often is turned around and spent.

More than $9 million was promised elsewhere before the savings came in. Another $4 million was spent on the county's computer systems, and $2 million went toward higher-than-anticipated workers compensation claims and self-insurance losses.

At the end of it all, the Founding Franklin may still have given a nod of approval: The county forwarded along about $4.7 million to the general fund.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pennies for her thoughts

Tara Borgilt wants to write a poem for you on her typewriter, about anything you want, for any price you want.

On sunny days, the Ashland High School senior sets up a mobile poetry store in Lithia Park, writing poems on a 1950s typewriter using prompts from strangers.

"Your poem, your price," reads the sign on her typewriter case.

"I'm sending my poems out to who knows where," said Borgilt, 18. "It just feels good to get them out."

After taking a few minutes to write a poem, she hands the only copy to the customer.

"Sometimes that's the sad part, but it's also one of the best parts, because the person gets it, the one and only copy," she said.

Passersby have paid between $1 and $5 for her poems, which are typically half a page long and sometimes written on painted paper she recycled from a high school art class.

The exercise is more about making a connection with strangers than collecting money, Borgilt said.

"I do it for the unlikely connection with people who you would normally just smile at on the street as you passed, and that would be the end of it," she said. "This has taught me how little it takes for people to open up to each other. It's one of the most fulfilling things I've done."

She's saving the money she earns for next year, when she plans to travel to Spain and perhaps work on an organic farm.

The following year, she will attend Reed College in Portland, which has accepted her and allowed her to defer her enrollment for a year.

On Friday, Ashland resident Zach Davis stopped by the Poetry Store to request a poem "about the lifecycle of water."

"I saw this was the Poetry Store and I thought I'd go shopping," he said.

The poem was for his eight-year-old son, who was interested in the process of evaporation and condensation as a younger child, he said.

"I'm a good poetry fan," Davis said. "There are some uses of words that can really connect with people and what it means to be human."

Borgilt took a few minutes to type the poem on blue-painted paper and then asked Davis if she could read it to him.

"It begins in the black well / where your dreams / crawl from their skins into your / skull "…" she read.

Borgilt began writing public poems in August 2010, after buying her typewriter for $25 from a Medford thrift store.

"I like typewriters because you can see what's happening," she said. "It's all right out before you and it's very textural and I like the sound. It's almost like a character itself."

She got the idea from Jacqueline Suskin, who writes poems on a typewriter at the farmer's market in Arcata, Calif. Suskin wrote a poem for Borgilt about "self" that used a metaphor of a saffron bloom when Borgilt visited Arcata in October 2009, with the high school's Wilderness Charter School.

Borgilt began seriously writing poetry in eighth grade and for the entire year of 2008 she wrote a poem a day, which taught her to free-write quickly, without going back and editing.

"When I start out, I kind of wonder where I'm going and hopefully by the end I've reached somewhere," she said.

She has received a range of requests from customers. One woman asked for a poem about "Ascended Master Saint Germain." A little girl asked for a poem about "a little girl who loves her daddy very, very much," and then the girl read the poem to her father, Borgilt said. Many people request poems about someone else, and then give the poems to the person as a gift, she said.

"That feels really good, to write poetry as a gift to someone, who sometimes I haven't even seen." Borgilt said.

She intends to keep writing and to bring her typewriter with her on her travels, she said.

"I want to do more of this," Borgilt said. "I'd like to definitely go to San Francisco and do this this summer. And it'd be amazing to do this in Spanish."

Until then, expect to see her typing in the park on weekends or after school and downtown at First Friday's ArtWalk.

"This is definitely something I see myself doing for awhile," she said. "This is just the beginning. This is just trying it out."

For more information on Borgilt and her poetry, e-mail her at

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

Monday, February 21, 2011

$1 Billion Yandex IPO Set For This Summer

Anyone who would like to invest in Russia's most successful search engine may want to start saving pennies and talking to his (or her) stockbroker.  Reports indicate that Yandex, which has had little trouble fending off Google in its home market, will go public and try to raise $1 billion this summer.

A post on the Quintura Blog stated today, "The leading Russian search engine and contextual advertising company, Yandex plans $1 billion IPO on NASDAQ in June - July 2011, reported newspaper Vedomosti.  The company hired investment banks Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley to manage the IPO."

It's possible a serious rush will result.  Yandex's search engine has a market share of about 64 percent, which is seriously impressive given the competition.

Yandex's finances aren't in bad shape, either, considering that the company reported a 43 percent increase in revenue between 2009 and 2010.

Then there's the simple fact that the move's well timed in relation to the overall economy, since investors are starting to take their money out from underneath their mattresses once again.

It should be interesting to see what happens.  Unfortunately, no additional details are available at this time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Whose Kingdom for some saving grace?

It has been well said that the true mettle of leaders is tested by a baptism of fire. People in positions of power and authority who perform well under trying and testing circumstances are more likely to be remembered kindly by history as well as their subjects. Grace under pressure. Mercy like a river. Power with passion and purpose. Wait, don’t turn that page!

This is not empty prose. It is meant to provoke, challenge, stimulate. How you respond, dear reader, will test your heart. And mind. And resolve to act. Rather than merely pontificating and laying the blame for the tragedies unfolding around us at the feet of the state and a generation of lazy, wasteful, crooked, corrupt politicos…

Where is the need the greatest?

Unless you have been living in cloud cuckoo land these past few weeks and months, you could not have failed to notice that large tracts of your country are under water. If you are hoping that this will all go away soon enough so that you can enjoy the Cricket World Cup in peace – go ahead, and please shut the door after you when you flip the page to more appealing sections of your favourite weekly newspaper. What? Are you still here? Good…

Whom are you seeking to benefit?

Chances are that if you’re still with us (look around, folks, at this faithful little remnant), you’re more than a mere spectator. You belong to that rare and select breed whose heart is moved by the misfortune of their brothers and sisters. Hope springs eternal that even the handful of you who are awed by the forces of nature and shocked by the devastation it has wreaked in the recent past are do-gooders, not onlookers. Those who will recognize where the neediest segments of our populace live, identify with their need, and respond in a tangible way. They’re at their wit’s end, standing in a foot of mud and gunk and slime – and but for grace it could have been you in a camp…

Why me? Why you? Why us?

Because if you’re lazing it out on a balmy Sunday morning such as this, cocooned in creature comforts in your urban condo or luxuriating on the lawn or verandah of your suburban bungalow, then need I say more? You’re literate, worldly-wise, pampered and cosseted, probably spoilt for choice, wealthy, privileged, dutiful, noble – all right, I don’t need to rub it in! Noblesse oblige, dears – and don’t be the kind of noble folks who don’t oblige! We have too many of those passenger-patriots and pseudo-democrats as it is, no?

What do you have that is of value?

In addition to the riches itemized above, there’s your money and your contacts and your influence and your other resources. So let’s spare the “my kingdom for a horse” business, shall we? Everyone except the taxman knows how much booty you have stashed away… you keep telling us often enough, eh. But there’s no point flaunting it in words, dear, it’s deeds that count in the short to medium turn. As that nice economics-minded man said, “In the long run, we are all dead.” So get with it. Pronto.

When is the time to act?

See above. Pronto! Get with it… If you had a penny for every time someone blamed the state of the nation on the nature of its statesmen, how many pennies would you have? Now the buck stops with you!!

Which way should we be moving?

Go east, young man (and woman, and child). And north and south and wherever else an ill wind has blown your island). The media these days will give you a clue as to the lie of the land (submerged, washed away, harvests devastated). But lest the flesh faint and the spirit be weak, neither fear nor fail. Even if you can’t go in person (which would be ideal but unrealistic perhaps), your treasure can, must, and shall follow your heart. The state is reputed to be waking from its traditional stupor to lend a helping hand. The private sector has a public agenda in playing the Good Samaritan. And you too can get in on the act. Donate. Encourage others to do so. Contribute with skill and discernment. You don’t want to throw good money after bad, do you?

How have you responded to the soul-searching above? Are you a mere reader only… or is the leader in you stirred to action? The fate of millions of your fellow citizens is literally in your hands! Now, not merely the elected and appointed representatives of the people can let the population down. You, too, have a hand in the destiny of the nation!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Salem schools join Pasta for Pennies fund raiser

City schools are participating in the Pasta for Pennies program sponsored by the Olive Garden.

The program supports the fight against blood-related cancers, helps fund important life-saving initiatives and provides critical services to patients and their families according to the Olive Garden website.

Both Chelsey Hostetter and her daughter, Karlie, 5, who was diagnosed with leukemia last Feb. 7, attended Monday's kickoff assembly at Buckeye Elementary School to share their story with the school.

"And," Hostetter said, "to help everyone know the importance of this, what it is like to have cancer and the importance to donate to this program."

Along with 38 other kids, Karlie is an honored hero for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Northern Ohio, Hostetter said.

Buckeye Principal Denny Niederhiser said Karlie will be a Buckeye student next year and for all the children in the assembly to see her there, someone who has been diagnosed and is being treated for leukemia, it really hit home.

"So next year, she'll be one of our kids," Niederhiser said. "It was good for our kids ... it was a learning experience."

There are 420 schools registered to participate in the campaign to raise money to help patients like Karlie and fund to research and find a cure for blood cancers.

The goal is to raise $378,000 from all of the schools from this campaign.

"Since 1994, Pasta for Pennies has raised more than $53 million to fight leukemia and lymphoma and to provide a wide range of services to patients and their families.

Each year, schools choose a three-week period when students fill collection jars in their classrooms with donations of spare change.

The class collecting the most money at each school is awarded a pasta party delivered to their classroom by their local Olive Garden restaurant. The program will run through Feb. 25.

Niederhiser said students have collection jars with thermometer charts so they can track their contributions.
Hostetter said it's a great way to spread awareness

"I am proud to say that all of the Salem schools will be participating in this program." Hostetter said.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fill Your Bellies But Save Some Pennies

Exeter City are introducing a number of food and beverage special offers ahead of the busy home fixture schedule in February in a bid to help fans save a few precious pennies. 

Whereas the club's loyal fans have, on average, a single home game to budget for every other week, due to postponements this season and the club progressing to the area final of the Johnstones Paint Trophy, the Grecians have no fewer than five home games during the next month. 

"Ideally of course the fans would like to see a reduction in gate prices," said marketing manager Ross Trant.

"However, it is a very difficult situation. It was a monumental effort to get the game against Sheffield Wednesday played, but due to the extreme weather conditions the attendance was significantly smaller, add the Boxing Day postponement of the Swindon game into the mix and we have taken a fair old hit in the budgeted gate income. 

"That is the reality of the situation. We have a lot of games coming up and many fans will not want to miss out. If you are a family attending the park, it may only be a couple of pounds saving as you walk away from the kiosks, but over five games it suddenly stacks up. 

"It is important that we do something, however small, to recognise that our fans will be stretching their wallets and purses in order to watch us during the next month, which potentially on the pitch could be very exciting." 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Insurance Company Drops Vet Over 2-Cent Shortage

was an innocent enough mistake, according to Ronald's wife, Frances Flanagan.

"If I only had just hit the nine instead of the seven," Frances said.

When she was paying their monthly health insurance premium online in November, Frances swapped a 7 for a 9, leaving their $328.69 payment 2 cents short.

"And now we're just pulling teeth and trying to figure out what's the next step," Frances said.

Their insurance benefits administrator, Ceridian Cobra Services, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., promptly dropped the Flanagans for the 2-cent shortage.

The couple found out about losing their coverage at a doctor's appointment on Jan. 13 while they were at the Exempla Rock Creek Medical Center in Broomfield.

As Ron was getting prepped to have a bone biopsy, Frances was on the phone with Ceridian.

"The nurses were just getting ready to do the biopsy when my wife popped into the office and told them, 'Stop. We don't have any insurance,'" said Ron.

"And that's when they let me know that we no longer had insurance on account of the 2 cents, and they canceled us," said Frances. "Since then, I've been depressed. I haven't been able to hardly do anything. As you can see, we still have our Christmas decorations up. So it's been hard on me."

Ron has been fighting cancer since September 2008. He has multiple myeloma -- cancer in the bone marrow. Doctors at St. Luke's have performed stem cell transplant surgery twice. He needs another transplant before the end of February, and they have a donor. But because of the 2-cent mistake, Ceridian Cobra Services Two pennies. That's the difference between a potentially life-saving surgery and a dropped insurance plan.

Those 2 cents could cost Vietnam veteran Ronald Flanagan everything.

"Everybody we talk to is very surprised that 2 cents is enough to do this," said Flanagan.

It will not pay for the procedure.

In a statement, Ceridian Cobra Services told 7NEWS, "We did not receive a full and timely payment and (Mrs. Flanagan) was provided several notices of the shortage and a grace period reminder notice on the last invoice, along with extended grace dates as provided for under COBRA regulations."

The statement goes on to say, "Since the payment was not full, it fit into the definition in the regulations of an 'insufficient payment' ... Ceridian understands nothing is more important than one’s health ... Unfortunately, we simply do not have the capacity to be able to personally call continuants and remind them of the status of their COBRA benefits."

Ron Flanagan believes Ceridian does not value human health, but rather, the bottom line.

Ron said they never received written notice that they could be dropped. The couple said they only received a billing statement in December that showed the two-cent shortage, but it wasn't clear to them that it was past due, otherwise they would have just added two cents to their December payment -- which they paid in full, and which Ceridian promptly cashed.

"They never did a certified letter saying what could happen. They never made a phone call. As far as I'm concerned, they're looking for a way to drop you," he said.

The family believes the cause of Ron's cancer is likely exposure to Agent Orange while Ron was deployed in Vietnam. Now, he waits for the stem cell transplant he needs.

"My doctor said I could not wait months to decide on a transplant," said Ron.

"I spoke to my sister-in-law and that's when I broke down. And I told her I feel like it's all my fault," said Frances. "She just said, 'No. It's not your fault.'"

"The insurance company is paying out way more than I'm paying in. And I understand that. But, that's part of the insurance game," said Ron.

"We have God on our side," said Frances.

Ron is now considering going to the Veterans Administration hospital as an alternative, but it could mean he would have to travel to Seattle for treatment.

Federal law states insurance providers must give you a reasonable amount of time to make up a shortage.

Ron said he might start oral chemotherapy as a maintenance-type drug to manage his cancer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unabashed Frugality, A Guide To Pinching Pennies Without Shame

Many resolutions for the new year involve an asceticism of sorts, a pledge to avoid bad habits like smoking or drinking, or to cut back on eating unhealthy foods.  This year, many may have pledged to adhere to a stricter household budget, as the country takes baby steps toward emerging from one of the worst economies the US has seen in many years. 

Paradoxically, the stricter the resolution, the more unlikely you are to keep it.  Think about it, if your goals are unrealistic, you will get easily frustrated, give up, and go back to your old ways.
That is why I’ve put together a guide—a cheapness manual if you will—for saving money without sacrificing your sanity.
  • Buying in Bulk – Sometimes warehouse stores can be our worst enemy; we go in expecting to save money, and walk out with five pounds of peanut butter.  Another way to utilize this method without spending money on membership fees, is to simply buy multiples of your favorite product when it goes on sale at a local store. 
  • Freeze Food – This works for buying in bulk, but also for things like spaghetti sauce.  If you can’t eat it right away, freeze it.
  • Use E-Bay – In the early days of E-Bay, it was easy to get scammed by a dishonest seller and harder to know if what you were buying was authentic or if it would arrive in the condition stated in the auction.  E-Bay’s feedback policies have improved dramatically, and buyers are able to clearly view feedback ratings for sellers.  Clothing, electronics, and many other household items are available from E-Bay for a fraction of the cost for the savvy buyer.
  • Garage Sales – Part of the fun of going to garage sales is the thrill of the hunt, knowing you got something for a fraction of what it’s worth. Even if you’re not a bargain hunter, there are deals to be had on expensive items like kid’s sports equipment (trampolines or basketball nets) or exercise equipment.
  • Coupons – Sometimes coupons can be tricky, if you have to buy more of something that you don’t need to get the discount.  Combining coupons with sales are the best way to maximize your savings for items you would ordinarily purchase. 
  • Online Sample Sales – Sites like Gilt Group and One Kings Lane allow members to log on to purchase designer clothing and home accessories for a much lower cost than in the stores.  The trick with these sites is to look ahead for the sales you are interested in, then log on right when they start for the best selection.  Items sell out fast, so this is critical.
  • Cheap Gas Stations – can help guide you to the cheapest gas station in your area so you don’t have to waste gas searching for one.
  • Recycle and Reuse – Keep take-out containers, wash and reuse them for leftovers or lunches rather than tossing them in the trash.  Paper towels are expensive; reuse and disinfect a cloth to clean your counter with.