Press and News http://pressnews.com Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:22:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Properly maintained wells protect family’s health http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/properly-maintained-wells-protect-familys-health/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/properly-maintained-wells-protect-familys-health/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:22:44 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137921 By Jim Boyle

Elk River Star News

Properly maintaining wells that tap into groundwater is critical for protecting personal health and the resource, say state health officials.

National Groundwater Awareness Week, which was recognized last week, was established more than two decades ago to bring attention to the important role that groundwater plays in the health and well-being of people. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends all well owners take some basic steps to maintain their well and protect their drinking water.

Basic wellhead inspection involves keeping insects, rodents, snakes and other undesirable critters out of the well. Lawn mowers, snowplows and other equipment must be kept away from wells, too.

Well owners are encouraged to follow the Three Cs of well maintenance:

• Cap – ensure the well cap is securely attached and not broken or missing, and the connections through the cap are watertight.

• Casing – observe the well pipe or casing for cracks or corrosion. Call a licensed well contractor for repairs.

• Conduit – confirm that the conduit for the electric service wire to the well is securely connected to the well cap.

Complete basic water testing to ensure safe drinking water. Your local county health department may provide or arrange for testing, or you can find certified testing laboratories.

The following are what you typically will want to test your water for. Other testing may be needed depending on where you live and the surrounding land use.

• Bacteria – complete a total coliform bacteria test annually or any time your water system is serviced, or you notice a change in taste, color, or odor.

• Nitrate – complete a nitrate test every two years, or annually if nitrate is detected in your well, and always before giving the water to an infant.

• Arsenic – complete an arsenic test once.

• Lead – complete a lead test once, or always flush faucets for at least one to two minutes before using water from them for drinking or cooking when the water has not been used for six hours or longer and never drink from your hot water taps.

Sealing unused wells is also important. Unused, unsealed wells are a direct conduit for contamination to enter your drinking water resource and the larger groundwater aquifer system. They also pose a safety hazard. Remember, only a licensed well contractor can seal wells in Minnesota, including sand-points and large diameter dug wells.

For more details on well construction, drinking water quality, well water testing, and certified testing laboratories contact the Minnesota Department of Health, local health departments, or local licensed well contractors.

Well specialists are available to answer questions at MDH district offices, including one in St. Cloud (320-223-7300), and the Twin Cities (651-201-4600 or 1-800-383-9808).

For more information on what Minnesota is doing and what you can do to protect groundwater and drinking water, visit the MDH Clean Water Fund website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/cwl.

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Column: Suburban poverty needs attention, action http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/column-suburban-poverty-needs-attention-action/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/column-suburban-poverty-needs-attention-action/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:59:21 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137735 By DON HEINZMAN – ECM PUBLISHERS

Fifty years ago, families created suburban communities to escape the poverty of the cities. Back then, most suburban residents were young Caucasians.

Today, the suburbs are comprised of a rich variety of racial diversity, including Caucasian, Latino, Hispanic, African-American and Somali residents.

And unlike those new communities of 50 years ago, many suburban residents today are working in low-paying and part-time jobs, living below the poverty line of $23,500 for a family of four.

The Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People, or VEAP, food shelf in Bloomington is finding that 67 percent of its clients are living on $1,200 a month or less.

The Twin Cities suburbs have one of the fastest growing rates of poverty in the country. The numbers show that 56 percent of the Twin Cities metro area’s poor live in the suburbs, compared to 46 percent a decade ago. More than two-thirds of the increase in the area’s poverty from 2000 to 2013 was in the suburbs.

According to the Amherst Wilder research, from 2000 to 2011, the number of suburban poor grew from 95,000 to 205,000.

These are hard statistics for suburban leaders and residents to swallow.

The first step is to admit the reality that poverty in suburban communities no longer can be ignored.

More minority families are moving into first-ring suburbs, such as Bloomington, Richfield, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.

The elderly, who are living longer and running out of money, are utilizing local food shelves.

Finances for many families are so tight that just one medical problem or car breakdown forces them to save money by going to food shelves.

What can be done to help these working poor, many who are living from paycheck to paycheck?

A network of food shelves has sprung up throughout the area, funded by donations of money and food and run mainly by volunteers. One is VEAP, which says it’s the largest food shelf in the state, serving Bloomington, Richfield, Edina and part of South Minneapolis.

With the aid of 1,700 volunteers and staff, VEAP serves more than 9,000 individuals every month. The guideline for a family of four is an annual income of $46,000. The policy, however, is registered clients are entitled to get food once a month; individuals who have no food can get an emergency food pack at any time.

Communities are running shelters for the homeless, and some churches are uniting to shelter the homeless overnight.

Churches are reaching out to help community members with food and some financial assistance.

Residents who have come from other countries are learning to read and write English in Adult Education programs so that they can get a high school diploma, go on to college and get better jobs.

There are lots of jobs, but many are low-paying, part-time and seasonal. Thousands work in low-paying jobs in hotels, restaurants, fast-food places and health care. Most of those part-time jobs do not come with benefits, and it’s hard to support a family on minimum wages.

Brooklyn Park officials have divided their community into Neighborhood Action groups so they can focus on quality-of-life concerns.

The solution comes down to better-paying jobs. Perhaps chambers of commerce and civic organizations, such as the Lions and Rotary, can take an interest and figure out how they can get involved in training these willing and talented people.

The secret is out. The rate of poverty in the suburbs is growing faster than the rate of poverty in the central cities. These people need help.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers Inc. Reactions to this column — and to any commentary on these pages – are always welcome. Send to: editor.sun@ecm.inc.com.

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Maple Grove Police http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/maple-grove-police-131/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/maple-grove-police-131/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:30:55 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137814 The following is a synopsis of some of the incidents that occurred in the city during the week of March 6, 2015 through March 12, 2015. Refer to the city website Crime Mapping Section for additional details for the crimes of burglary, robbery, arson, theft and vehicle theft.

Friday, March 6

93rd Ave. & Dunkirk Lane area — There was a report of a person driving with only parking lights on. The vehicle was stopped and driver arrested for DWI.

I-94 & Maple Grove Parkway — There was a report of a person driving all over road. The vehicle was stopped and driver arrested for DWI.

Leticia Nunez, 19, of Maple Grove was cited for violation of instructional permit- 18 or older and shoplifting on the 9400 block of Dunkirk Lane N.

Saturday, March 7

16000 block of 78th Place — There was a report of juveniles jumping on and damaging association lawn chairs around fire pit. Contact was made with parent and juveniles regarding activity.

9000 block of 94th Avenue — There was a report of a person jumping from moving taxi and running away without paying fee. Officers were unable to find the suspect.

Daniel Powers, 60, of Maple Grove was cited for fourth degree DWI driving while impaired- criminal penalty, fourth degree DUI alcohol concentration over .08 and careless driving at County Road 30 and Dunkirk Lane N.

Charles Howald, 31, of Shoreview was cited for careless driving, fourth degree DUI alcohol concentration over .08 and fourth degree DWI driving while impaired-criminal penalty at I-94 and Maple Grove Parkway.

Demetruis Moore, 24, of Robbinsdale was cited for domestic abuse on the 6200 block of Magda Drive N.

Sunday, March 8

62nd Place & Norwood Lane — While patrolling area, officer located a person looking to be out after curfew. Upon further investigation the person was cited for curfew violation and parent picked them up.

10000 block of Pilgrim Lane —There was a report of a person in seizure and then not breathing. Upon arrival the person was breathing with difficulty, and was transported by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital.

Anne Verlee, 42, of Champlin was cited for fourth degree DUI alcohol concentration over .08, fourth degree DWI driving while impaired- criminal penalty and careless driving at 83rd Way and Weaver Lake Road N.

Monday, March 9

9300 block of Wellington Lane  — There was a report of a person falling out of a wheelchair and not being able to get up. Upon arrival, officers helped the person into chair without any injuries.

9400 block of Dunkirk Lane — An officer on the scene of another called located a person in parking lot that had been previously trespassed from a business. Upon contact, the suspect was arrested for trespassing.

Tuesday, March 10

10000 block of 104th Avenue — There was a report of a vehicle parked at the entrance of a park. Upon arrival, officers found a person slumped over and not conscious. The person was later arrested for obstruction with force.

Wednesday, March 11

77th Avenue & Queensland Lane — There was a report of a garbage can on fire in the area. Upon arrival, officer put fire out and in searching area found another can that had been on fire as well. Case forwarded to investigations.

7000 block of Merrimac Lane — There was a report of another garbage can set on fire. This case also forwarded to investigations.

Thursday, March 12

6400 block of Merrimac Lane — There was a report of several mailboxes hit and a yard drove through. No suspects at this time.

Other

During this time period there were 24 property damage traffic accidents and five personal injury property damage traffic accidents.

Francios Khalil, 18, of Maple Grove was cited March 1 for possessing or selling a small amount of marijuana and warrant arrest at Hemlock Lane and Main St. N.

Coltrane Dewalt, 18, of Maple Grove was cited March 2 for disorderly conduct on the 9800 block of Fernbrook Lane N.

Jacob Shultz, 20, of Maple Grove was cited March 2 for burglary on the 10400 block of 10th Ave. N.

Ledah Hakin, 33, of Medina was cited March 2 for shoplifting on the 9400 block of Dunkirk Lane N.

Riley Dahl, 20, of Osseo was cited March 2 for possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle at 89th Ave. N. and Jonquil Lane N.

Cynthia Wiger, 24, of Lino Lakes was cited March 4 for shoplifting on the 9400 block of Dunkirk Lane N.

Valentin Demidov, 19, of Plymouth was cited March 4 for shoplifting, fleeing a police officer, warrant arrest and trespass notice served on the 9400 block of Dunkirk Lane N.

Tonisheia Phillips, 41, of Brooklyn Park was cited March 5 for shoplifting, driving without insurance and driving after revocation on the 9400 block of Dunkirk Lane N.

Darla Maciewski, 54, of Coon Rapids was cited March 5 for fourth degree DWI driving while impaired on the 7700 block of Elm Creek Blvd. N.

Mary Bondhus, 70, of Buffalo was cited March 5 for shoplifting on the 12200 block of Elm Creek Blvd.

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Osseo Fire http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/osseo-fire-8/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/osseo-fire-8/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:30:02 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137812 The following is a summary of activity from the Osseo Fire Department for the month of February.

The department responded to 13 calls: 8 medicals, two, accidents, two fires and one fire alarm.

The department had training for: hybrid vehicles and right-to-know. There was a stand-by at Maple Grove #2 Station duty assignment.

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Three business developments receive Brooklyn Park council approval http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/three-business-developments-receive-brooklyn-park-council-approval/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/27/three-business-developments-receive-brooklyn-park-council-approval/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:00:54 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137761 By Gretchen Schlosser

Sun Post Newspapers

 

Three business development projects received approvals by the Brooklyn Park City Council at its Feb. 23 meeting, which included the announcement that Design Ready Controls is the company relocating to the Capstone Quadrangle development near the intersection of 93rd Avenue North and Highway 169.

Design Ready Controls is the largest supplier of HVAC controls in the world and is expanding into solar and lighting controls, according to Michael Faber, developer of the Capstone project.

“This a very high-tech company,” Faber told the council, adding that the company has manufacturing facilities in Rockford, Minn., and offices in Minneapolis. The 94,300 square foot Brooklyn Park office, warehouse and manufacturing building will become the company headquarters. The company has four other facilities around the country.

Faber estimated that about 100 to 120 employees will work in the new building.

The development includes expansion space for the growing company, Faber said. The development plans could allow up to three buildings on the site, which runs from Highway 169 to Winnetka Avenue.

The council’s approvals included the first reading of rezoning for the project, with the second reading planned for March 2 meeting, and approval of the site plan for the development.

The city council also approved the site plan for the North 169 Business Center, a 145,840 square foot multi-tenant business park building for offices, warehousing and light manufacturing at 8400 Wyoming Avenue North. The building, developed by Opus, will be orientated so truck traffic to the facility will be away from residential neighbors and toward the neighboring Fleet Farm, according to Cindy Sherman, city planning director.

The council also approved changes to the city’s comprehensive plan and rezoning for the NorthPark Business Center, which is being developed by Scannell Properties on 227 acres of land owned by the Harstad family and bounded by Highway 169, 109th Avenue, Winnetka Avenue and the Three Rivers Regional Trail Corridor.

The comprehensive plan change removes plans for medium-density residential housing and commercial development on the site and makes almost all of the site into business park land, except for a small parcel near the trail corridor, which will become park land.

The rezoning moves the property from urban reserve to business park with planned development, Sherman said. The second reading of the rezoning will come later after the developers petition the city for extension of water and sewer utilities to the site.

Because the water access at Winnetka Avenue and Oxbow Creek Drive and the sanitary sewer at 101st Avenue are available at the south end of the property, development will likely be there first, according to Martin Harstad, a representative of the family that owns the property.

The Harstads have recently teamed up with Scannell, he said, and they are working on what could be years of development on the site. The plans call for as many as 17 buildings on the 227-acre site.

“The project will be a long project,” Harstad told the council, and the project will focus on attracting companies that have more than a few workers in the buildings. “We have no intention to put distribution in there. This is jobs-driven.”

A previous proposal for the site for a FedEx shipping location was denied by the city because it did not provide enough jobs.

Harstad also said that he hopes site preparation dirt work could begin this summer on the southern portion of the site. There is interest from businesses in the location, he said.

Contact Gretchen Schlosser at gretchen.schlosser@ecm-inc.com

 
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Who to Call in Hard Times http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/who-to-call-in-hard-times/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/who-to-call-in-hard-times/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:01:27 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?guid=93a1f6c134e7c83e24df2ba85380857e What a lot of people don’t understand about financial advisors is that they are not there solely to plan your future. They are at your side when a present-day catastrophe strikes.

Everyone faces a serious, non-voluntary life-changing event at least once. It could be the death of a spouse, a layoff, a divorce or a very serious illness, something that is often very emotional and not in a good way. Some people may call their parents for support, and others may contact close friends. After those phone calls are made – who next? A financial advisor.

People who are hard hit emotionally may not be able to consider all aspects and nuances of their situation. They need someone to help them understand how those changes affect their financial pictures before they are able to devise a plan to mitigate the harm. An advisor is that someone.

I’ve had clients contact me when hard times came upon them. Although I am not a therapist, I was able to really help my clients look at the event without all of the emotion that clouds their judgment and create an action plan to help them survive.

One of my clients, a young married woman with two small children, called me after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was spreading. She was afraid that the life insurance company would cancel her policy.

I assured her that the policy was still effective because she paid the premiums. The life insurance policy would still protect her kids. I also asked delicately about estate plans. If things did not go well, everything was in place. The reassurance that all financial pieces were set gave her peace of mind. Fortunately, she survived and is doing well.

During the Great Recession, a number of clients called me in distress. They lost their jobs, worrying about paying monthly expenses. Some wanted to tap into their retirement accounts to help them with the financial shortfalls.

I explained the tax ramifications of taking distributions early and how they might be able to make up for their savings losses once they were employed again. I discussed with them how to create a budget. I also asked them about the health and life insurance that might be gone along with their jobs and how to replace these benefits. 

An advisor not only helps you make sound financial decisions at times of emotions but prepares you for the catastrophes before they hit. Nobody can plan for every single permutation of events that can occur. But it is much easier to tailor a plan if you have savings or life insurance to cover your back.

Financial worries add to one’s distress during major life changes. Call your financial advisor who will listen to your problems, provides guidance on your decisions and makes plans to keep you covered.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Wendy Spencer, CFP, CDFA, is president of Spencer Capital Strategies Inc., an independent Money Concepts contractor in Arvada, Colo. She is also a family law mediator; her divorce website is www.divorcemoneypro.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.

 

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What a lot of people don’t understand about financial advisors is that they are not there solely to plan your future. They are at your side when a present-day catastrophe strikes.

Everyone faces a serious, non-voluntary life-changing event at least once. It could be the death of a spouse, a layoff, a divorce or a very serious illness, something that is often very emotional and not in a good way. Some people may call their parents for support, and others may contact close friends. After those phone calls are made – who next? A financial advisor.

People who are hard hit emotionally may not be able to consider all aspects and nuances of their situation. They need someone to help them understand how those changes affect their financial pictures before they are able to devise a plan to mitigate the harm. An advisor is that someone.

I’ve had clients contact me when hard times came upon them. Although I am not a therapist, I was able to really help my clients look at the event without all of the emotion that clouds their judgment and create an action plan to help them survive.

One of my clients, a young married woman with two small children, called me after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that was spreading. She was afraid that the life insurance company would cancel her policy.

I assured her that the policy was still effective because she paid the premiums. The life insurance policy would still protect her kids. I also asked delicately about estate plans. If things did not go well, everything was in place. The reassurance that all financial pieces were set gave her peace of mind. Fortunately, she survived and is doing well.

During the Great Recession, a number of clients called me in distress. They lost their jobs, worrying about paying monthly expenses. Some wanted to tap into their retirement accounts to help them with the financial shortfalls.

I explained the tax ramifications of taking distributions early and how they might be able to make up for their savings losses once they were employed again. I discussed with them how to create a budget. I also asked them about the health and life insurance that might be gone along with their jobs and how to replace these benefits. 

An advisor not only helps you make sound financial decisions at times of emotions but prepares you for the catastrophes before they hit. Nobody can plan for every single permutation of events that can occur. But it is much easier to tailor a plan if you have savings or life insurance to cover your back.

Financial worries add to one’s distress during major life changes. Call your financial advisor who will listen to your problems, provides guidance on your decisions and makes plans to keep you covered.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq

Wendy Spencer, CFP, CDFA, is president of Spencer Capital Strategies Inc., an independent Money Concepts contractor in Arvada, Colo. She is also a family law mediator; her divorce website is www.divorcemoneypro.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.

 

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Answers to 4 Big $ Questions http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/answers-to-4-big-questions/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/answers-to-4-big-questions/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:01:20 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?guid=1bb28ad231505ac09feb21c065b6c7b9 Costs of education and retirement are likely two of your biggest financial concerns. Just in time for tax season, here are answers to a couple of common questions on each important topic.

Education:

Are my student loans deductible? Student loans can be a heavy burden on many taxpayers. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of student loan interest, taken as an adjustment to your income.

This means you can claim the deduction even if you do not itemize deductions – that is, file a Schedule A on your IRS Form 1040 tax return. Unfortunately, the IRS also imposes many limitations on the deductibility of student loan interest: The maximum interest deduction is $2,500 for 2014.

To secure the deduction, you must have used the loan to pay for qualified education expenses and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for last year cannot exceed $160,000 if you file taxes under the status married filing jointly or $80,000 if you file using another status. If you’re like most taxpayers, your MAGI is your adjusted gross income as figured on your federal income tax return before you subtract any deduction for student loan interest. 

Can I transfer a Direct PLUS loan to my child after graduation? You usually take out a Direct PLUS loan to pay for your child’s college education; your child still completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on Direct PLUS loans; the rate also depends on the date of disbursement. Some parents assume they can transfer the loan to the child once the latter graduates. Unfortunately, no: You the parent are responsible for repaying the loan.

Retirement:

How often can I make changes to my 401(k)? Generally, you can change your 401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plan as often as you want. I say “generally” because employers can impose their own restrictions to prevent employees from trading in 401(k) plans.

Our firm strongly advises against actively trading in your 401(k) or trying to time the markets to boost returns. Rather, rebalance your portfolio periodically to minimize risk.

For example, your original blend of assets – such as stocks, bonds and other holdings – probably changed in the wake of differing returns. Your allocated percentage of different asset classes probably also shifted. To rebalance, you might sell a portion of the asset class that increased above your optimum target.

Review your 401(k) at least quarterly to ensure that the allocations you initially selected don’t deviate from your intended percentages. If they do, rebalance your entire portfolio, including your 401(k), to bring it back in line with your goals.

Is there still time to contribute to my individual retirement account? Despite what the calendar shows, 2014 is not over yet. Whether you have a Roth, traditional or simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA, you can still count a contribution toward your total for last year.

For 2014 and 2015, according to the IRS, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs 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 limit. If you’re self-employed, your contributions to a SEP-IRA cannot exceed the lesser of 25% of your compensation or $52,000 for 2014.

You must contribute funds to an existing or new IRA before the April 15 tax-filing deadline this year.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.
 
Ara Oghoorian, CFP, CFA, is the founder and president of ACap Asset Management in Los Angeles. A fee-only investment management firm, it specializes in helping doctors and physicians make sound financial decisions. Contact Ara at aoghoorian@acapam.com or on the Web at www.acapam.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.

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Costs of education and retirement are likely two of your biggest financial concerns. Just in time for tax season, here are answers to a couple of common questions on each important topic.

Education:

Are my student loans deductible? Student loans can be a heavy burden on many taxpayers. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a portion of student loan interest, taken as an adjustment to your income.

This means you can claim the deduction even if you do not itemize deductions – that is, file a Schedule A on your IRS Form 1040 tax return. Unfortunately, the IRS also imposes many limitations on the deductibility of student loan interest: The maximum interest deduction is $2,500 for 2014.

To secure the deduction, you must have used the loan to pay for qualified education expenses and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for last year cannot exceed $160,000 if you file taxes under the status married filing jointly or $80,000 if you file using another status. If you’re like most taxpayers, your MAGI is your adjusted gross income as figured on your federal income tax return before you subtract any deduction for student loan interest. 

Can I transfer a Direct PLUS loan to my child after graduation? You usually take out a Direct PLUS loan to pay for your child’s college education; your child still completes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on Direct PLUS loans; the rate also depends on the date of disbursement. Some parents assume they can transfer the loan to the child once the latter graduates. Unfortunately, no: You the parent are responsible for repaying the loan.

Retirement:

How often can I make changes to my 401(k)? Generally, you can change your 401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plan as often as you want. I say “generally” because employers can impose their own restrictions to prevent employees from trading in 401(k) plans.

Our firm strongly advises against actively trading in your 401(k) or trying to time the markets to boost returns. Rather, rebalance your portfolio periodically to minimize risk.

For example, your original blend of assets – such as stocks, bonds and other holdings – probably changed in the wake of differing returns. Your allocated percentage of different asset classes probably also shifted. To rebalance, you might sell a portion of the asset class that increased above your optimum target.

Review your 401(k) at least quarterly to ensure that the allocations you initially selected don’t deviate from your intended percentages. If they do, rebalance your entire portfolio, including your 401(k), to bring it back in line with your goals.

Is there still time to contribute to my individual retirement account? Despite what the calendar shows, 2014 is not over yet. Whether you have a Roth, traditional or simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA, you can still count a contribution toward your total for last year.

For 2014 and 2015, according to the IRS, your total contributions to all of your traditional and Roth IRAs 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 limit. If you’re self-employed, your contributions to a SEP-IRA cannot exceed the lesser of 25% of your compensation or $52,000 for 2014.

You must contribute funds to an existing or new IRA before the April 15 tax-filing deadline this year.

Follow AdviceIQ on Twitter at @adviceiq.
 
Ara Oghoorian, CFP, CFA, is the founder and president of ACap Asset Management in Los Angeles. A fee-only investment management firm, it specializes in helping doctors and physicians make sound financial decisions. Contact Ara at aoghoorian@acapam.com or on the Web at www.acapam.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.

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STMA approves additional year with Don’s Bus http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/stma-approves-additional-year-with-dons-bus/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/stma-approves-additional-year-with-dons-bus/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:36:02 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137945 The St. Michael-Albertville School Board approved a contract addendum that continues transportation services with Don’s Bus of Albertville for one year.

The board also approved adding 6.5 new staff positions, and authorized funding a swimming pool equipment replacement project.

TRANSPORTATION

The board approved a transportation addendum for the 2015-16 school year.

The district is in the middle of a “two plus two” year contract with Don’s Bus. This means it’s a four-year agreement with the right to negotiate the final two years.

The first of those final two years is next school year. By approving that year, 2015-16, the district has the option to approve the fourth and final year, 2016-17. Financial terms are negotiated for all four years.

The board’s approval for next school year includes a contract addendum calling for Don’s Bus to add a maintenance supervisory position. Behle said the position would improve fleet maintenance and safety.

“Next year we’ll look at the plan again and determine to approve it a fourth year, do another contract addendum, or go to bids,” Supt. Jim Behle said.

POSITIONS ADDED

In further matters, the board approved staff additions.

Supt. Behle said the positions are needed due to enrollment growth. There are no new positions planned at the elementary or primary schools, although staff might be reassigned based on enrollment.

A new teacher will be added to Middle School East and Middle School West. Three new positions will be added at the high school, which has the most student growth. A half-time position will be added for special education.

All total there will be 6.5 positions added.

“Pretty much all the additions are for enrollment purposes and should reduce class sizes slightly,” Behle said.

The positions will cost about $300,000 to $400,000 and are part of the budget being put together for next year.

SWIM FUNDS

In other news, girls swim coach Greg Swanson was present with an update on a request from the booster club.

Swanson said the club wants to allow pool advertising to help pay for replacing the starter blocks, which are original to Middle School East’s construction.

The booster club was seeking to pay for most of the project. Upon discussion by board members, the board felt that this project is not an “extra” project but is maintenance that should be district funded.

The board thus agreed for the school district to pay the entire $26,000 cost, which would come from the capital projects fund.

Additionally, the board directed Supt. Behle and athletic director Brian Benson to come back and talk about sports advertisement guidelines.

Ads are presently permitted at the baseball and football fields. Behle hopes to have an update this summer.

In other action, the board:

SET Friday, May 22, as “Senior Day,” where seniors would have a traditional day off from classes.

HEARD that about eight candidates would be interviewed for the St. Michael Elementary School Principal position. The field will be narrowed down to two or three for final interviews March 31, with the goal to hire the position at the April 7 school board meeting.

 

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Lengthier Dist. 728 spring break back from hiatus http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/lengthier-dist-728-spring-break-back-from-hiatus/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/lengthier-dist-728-spring-break-back-from-hiatus/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:35:08 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137943 Calendar to include 6-day break at Easter

By Jim Boyle

Elk River Star News

In the eyes of some parents and schoolchildren, spring break took a vacation in recent years from Elk River Area School District school calendars.

The 2015-16 school calendar, however, will include a six-day stretch, including the Easter holiday March 27, 2016, for a more sizeable break in the action of education.

“We certainly get a lot of emails and phone calls,” said Shane Steinbrecher, a member of the Elk River Area School Board who sat on this year’s calendar committee.

The Elk River Area School Board approved the 2015-16 calendar at a specially scheduled meeting of the board March 16, once the district canceled its March 23 business meeting as most of members of the board will be attending a 75th Annual National School Boards Association Conference March 21-23 in Nashville.

“The committee used some creativity in this year’s calendar,” School Board Member Sue Farber said.

Steinbrecher said with Labor Day being so late this year (Sept. 7), the committee scheduled three staff development or workshop days before the start of the school year.

The first day of school will be Sept. 8.

Elementary and secondary schedules will be more aligned next school year. Steinbrecher said trying to mesh schedules with trimesters, semesters and quarters and to have the same days off at once is not easy, but the committee did as much as they felt the could. He said the calendar committee managed to trim the number of the days that elementary and secondary school don’t coincide from eight to four.

Spring break was another area of focus for the committee.

This year’s break runs from Friday, April 3, through Monday, April 6, which at four days in length is shorter than many surrounding districts.

Spring break next year students in the Elk River Area School District will start on Wednesday, March 23, 2015, and run through Monday, March 28. School will resume on Tuesday, March 29 after a six-day break.

“Personally, I’m extremely pleased to see these changes,” Farber said.  “I hope making a spring break longer was an answer to the many families who have been asking for one for years.”

The last day of school for the next school calendar year will be June 7, 2016, with emergency make-up days planned for June 8 and 9.

Elementary students will be scheduled for 170 days. Secondary students will be scheduled to attend school for 172 days. Teachers will be scheduled for 190. They will have five workshop days, five staff development days, one comp day and conference days.

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2 arrested in Rogers drug/assault case http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/2-arrested-in-rogers-drugassault-case/ http://pressnews.com/2015/03/26/2-arrested-in-rogers-drugassault-case/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:32:48 +0000 http://pressnews.com/?p=137939 A 44-year-old male was arrested for assault and a 29-year-old adult female for felony drug possession after an incident in Rogers Wednesday, March 18.

It began at the 21000 block of South Diamond Lake Road at 10:47 p.m. when a Rogers Officer observed a vehicle driving with no lights on. The officer attempted to pull over the vehicle and it appeared the driver tried to evade the officer. The driver quickly pulled into a parking lot and pulled behind a building.

There were two females inside who claimed they were just assaulted by another male. Officers located the male who was walking towards the scene. Officers determined that the two females were sisters. One of the females was in a romantic relationship with the male.

The male found text messages to another guy in her cell phone and slapped her several times in the face. The sister of the victim claims she was also struck. The male, Joel Smeby, 44, was arrested for domestic assault.

Officers determined there were needles in the vehicle. Officers located a large quantity of needles, several cotton swabs and a small baggy of a brown substance. Officers field tested it and it came back positive for heroin/opiates. The driver, Stephanie Belardi, 29, was placed under arrest for felony drugs. The male was taken to jail for domestic assault and the female was taken to jail for felony drug charges.

The vehicle was impounded to due to no licensed driver at the scene. The other female was given a ride to a gas station so she could call for a someone to pick her up.

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