Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Brief History of U.S. Employment System

The seal of the United States Department of LaborImage via Wikipediaby Malinda Winkle

Prior to the Workforce Investment Act, the U.S. operated under the The Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 which created a nationwide system of employment service offices.

In 1998, the Workforce Investmant Act (WIA) was enacted in President Clinton's second term in office. At that time, the nation had historically low unemployment rates. Local Workforce Investment Boards, manned by members of each local community, oversaw the services of each area's one-stop systems, customizing them to the needs of each geographic area.

This legislation was created to assist employers in finding the staff they need and, by training and equipping the workforce, to allow job seekers to obtain the jobs they desire. The innovation this Act instituted was the system of neighborhood One-Stop centers where all types of workers, including adults, the disabled, dislocated workers, veterans and youth, could obtain job search and placement assistance, training, education and employment services and unemployment services. Unlike WIA's predecessor, however, the Job Training Partnership Act introduced business services to the local delivery of workforce development, incorporating the needs of employers as well as employees.

The WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Program strives to meet the needs of employees and employers. It provides employment and training services for eligible individuals so they may locate and obtain meaningful employment. It assists employers in finding the workers needed to reach their business goals and objectives.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 serves up the most recent changes to America's employment system. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website, the Recovery Act prohibits state and local governments and private business from utilizing "stimulus funds for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool." It also loosens the restriction previously in place regarding the contracting of local community colleges. Local investment boards are no longer required to use the Eligible Training Provider List or an Individual Training Account in making contract awards. Can anyone see how either of these changes could possibly improve or enhance the present job delivery system in this nation?


Area 7 Workforce Investment Board
U.S. Department of Labor: "Implementing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998"
U.S. Department of Labor: "Workforce Investment Act -- Adults and Dislocated Workers Program"
U.S. Department of Labor: "Wagner-Peyser/Labor Exchange"
U.S. Department of Labor: "Implementing Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009"
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Never Guessed

Guest post by Jewel Cole

Man, I would never have guessed a few years back that I’d be writing a blog post from my sunroom but here I am, ready and waiting to finally finish this house project! The only room left is the kitchen and it’s nearly done but it’s been a long road from buying this place to making it livable like it is now. But it’s beautiful, that’s the good news! I went to when I first moved in to get internet so I could keep in touch with all the contractors and it’s been good because I’ve had to order some specialty products and pieces to keep the construction going. I know it will all be worth it in the end but boy was the whole renovation process stressful those first few weeks! I couldn’t believe I’d gotten myself so deep into this project and was thinking how to get out. I love this house and I can’t wait to see how it finally turns out in the end.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Inspired Style: Nancy Shevell's Wedding Dress

Fashion Find
by Catherine Cassidy of U Styled

Some things just never go out of style. Some things should never come BACK into style.
Style itself, however, is a bit tricky to define. What makes something stylish?
Ultimately, it's all of that and more. it's not the dress, but the woman in the dress. Not what you wear, but how YOU wear it.
THAT is why the simple beauty of Nancy Shevell's wedding dress, designed by her now stepdaughter, Stella McCartney, is so perfect.
Clean lines, elegant details and a beautiful silhouette highlight her natural beauty and radiance. There are no bells and whistles; no statements. Simply style.
Fitting that the dress was inspired by none other than Style Icon Wallis Simpson's wedding dress when she became the Duchess of Windsor:

Catherine Cassidy founded U*styled to empower women to fully live a life in STYLE! She works with women transitioning and upleveling in their lives to define their Personal Style. The Power of Style newsletter is published once a week to share hints and tips, fashion trends and inspire women with the tools to live in Style. Sign up for your subscription today!
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to Start a Business for Party Rentals

NORFOLK, Va. (Aug. 28, 2007) – Youngster...Image via Wikipedia
by Malinda Winkle

Starting a party toy rental business involves finding customers and then providing for their needs with quality products and excellent service. Word of mouth works well because every family at every party will find out about your fine business. Operate it hands-on. Or, if you prefer, hire employees for the delivery and operation of the products. Employees can also help with set up and tear downs of the rental equipment. Whether you run the business as an individual or make it a family affair, you will have lots of fun in this business.

Things You'll Need
  • Business License
  • Calendar software or an appointment book
  • Party toys for rental
  • Financial software

  • Moderately Challenging     
Step 1
Get some hands-on experience setting up and tearing down bounce toys by working for a party toy business for a few years. Know what the business requires of you before you invest.
Step 2
Obtain a business or occupational license as required by your state and local officials. Requirements vary by state, county and city. Visit your county courthouse and you can determine the requirements and secure the license.
Step 3
Find a prime location with excellent visibility from the road, and you maximize walk-in traffic. The best location should have adequate storage space for your rental equipment, office space, a showroom for your walk-in customers and enough room to inflate, clean and deflate your rentals outside. Office/warehouse spaces serve these sorts of needs well and sometimes are located on a highway.
Step 4
Register for state sales tax so your business can buy tax-free. Your state's department of revenue assist you with registration and provides the necessary forms you will need to file sale tax returns.
Step 5
Visit your insurance representative, and determine the coverages for your business. Business liability insurance requirements vary from state to state. Know whether any specific toys increase your business liability insurance premiums before you invest in rental inventory.
Step 6
Buy the rental equipment you believe will be the most in-demand toy items for party rentals in your area. Learn your options from toy vendors. One large order from a single vendor may be less expensive than several smaller orders from different vendors, for instance. Have a pickup truck or trailer for transporting this equipment to and from events.
Step 7
Know your competition and your best prospective customers well.
Step 8
Advertise for a quick start. Target communities having block parties, event planners (especially schools) and homeowners throwing backyard parties. Some of them may become regular customers. Let word-of-mouth work for you. Over time, your advertising budget may actually shrink if customers begin to search for you when they need your rentals.
Step 9
Purchase calendar software or a quality appointment book for keeping track of each event you book. Note the customer contact information, where the event will be held, what rentals are required and the time frame it will be needed.
Step 10
Allow ample time for setting up and taking down your equipment. Also allow plenty of time for travel to and from one event to the next if they are booked back-to-back.
Step 11
Monitor your finances, and determine whether profits exist. Adjust your plan accordingly.
  • Assure that your equipment remains clean and well-maintained.It helps if you enjoy spending time with kids.

  • Arriving late for an event you have booked creates bad press for your business.
    The weather might not always cooperate.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

Balancing the Budget

Thanks to Roman May

My wife and I recently decided to start living on a cash budget. She cut back to working part-time when our first child was born two years ago, and it cut our income in half. She said that she would be willing to make financial sacrifices in order to stay home with our two kids, and I supported her in that decision. Our budgeting had gone pretty smoothly until last week when our house was broken into. We weren’t home when it happened, and our cash budget envelope was taken. We called the police, and after filing their report, they let us know that we really need to get a security system. We decided that with the strict cash budget we’re living on, it would be more than worth it to invest in a security system for our home. We asked around the neighborhood and found out that many neighbors used the system they found at With my wife being home with the kids all day, I would feel better knowing they feel safe.
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

California State Laws & Statute of Limitations for Credit Card Collections

by Malinda Winkle
Basic creditcard / debitcard / smartcard graph...Image via Wikipedia
Once a credit card account goes past due, applicable fees mount quickly. By the time the account has been turned over to a collection agency, the late fees and over-limit fees often account for a considerable amount of the debt owed.

In California, under state law, Statute 337 provides a four-year statute of limitations on the collection of credit card accounts that are considered written agreements. Once the statute of limitations is reached, collectors may continue to attempt collections, but they may not bring suit to collect or even threaten to sue the debtor.

In the event your credit card agreement is an oral agreement, the statute of limitations is only two years.

Consider both the state where you lived at the time you took the credit card and the state where the credit card company is located. Depending on the fine print, the statute of limitation laws of either or both states may apply to the rules for collection.

Credit Cards; State Statutes of Limitation for Credit Card Debt; Connie Prater; April 2011
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The End of Federal Grants for Antique Yacht Restorations

Coronet (yacht) at sail in 1894, digital file ...Image via Wikipediaby Malinda Winkle
Photo: The "Coronet" yacht at sail in 1894

Antique yachts with exceptional historical significance, such as the famous "Coronet," used to win government grant money to fund yacht restoration projects through the National Park Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It funded important yacht restorations through its Save America's Treasures program. This grant program helped make the conservation and preservation of nationally significant artifacts a reality.

The Coronet

The Coronet, a 133 foot yacht first launched in 1885, is an invaluable historical artifact. In October 2002, The Save America’s Treasures program awarded a $350,000 grant to the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) where the Coronet is being restored. The school's advanced students and its master shipwrights embarked on a multi-year project of restoring the yacht to its original splendor. The work was conducted on the school's waterfront campus, 2.5 acres in Newport, Rhode Island. The Coronet gained further attention in 2004, when it was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Closing of Save America's Treasures

Sadly, due to budget constraints, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced the closing of the  Save America’s Treasures office. These two organizations have worked together to save many important historic projects all across America. According to the Preservation Nation website, our U.S. Congress allocated no funding for Save America’s Treasures programs for 2011 or 2012. No future funding of planned.


"Rhode Island Roads": Restoring A Legend: The IYRS Is Restoring the Classic Schooner Coronet
National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior: Save America's Treasures Grant Program

National Trust for Historic Preservation; Important Update About Save America's Treasures

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    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Tax Advantages of Agricultural Exemption in Texas

    by Malinda Winkle

    Dallas, Texas Skyline from I-35 EastboundImage by Ken Lund via FlickrJohn Benda owns and operates Fuel City No. 2, a truck stop at the intersection of Interstate 30 and Interstate 35E in Dallas, Texas. Due to the longhorn cattle grazing on the acreage  behind the truck stop, Benda estimates that he saves about $30,000 a year. The presence of the cattle gives the property an agricultural exemption, providing a hefty savings when figuring its annual property tax bill.

    In the 1950s, land values began increasing in response to the post-war boom. As residents began buying and building in what was previously agricultural areas, the increased property values hurt the remaining farm and ranching operations. Agricultural use exemptions were born. Having an agricultural exemption in Texas lowered ad valorem taxes and shielded farmers and ranchers from the threat of rising property taxes. But, farmers and ranchers are not the only beneficiaries today.

    Whether you are a cattle farmer of a Fortune 500 company, land you own may qualify for the lucrative agricultural exemption as long as you use it for either agricultural purposes or wildlife management.
    In Texas, unlike other states, the agricultural exemption transfers from one owner to the next. No reference is made to a minimum amount of acreage. Instead, qualification is based on the use of the land.


    The Land Report; Cut Your Taxes With An Agricultural Exemption; Trey Garrison; April 2007

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    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Missouri Bus Driver License for 14 Passengers or Less

    An internal shuttle bus in NUSImage via Wikipediaby Malinda Winkle

    In Missouri, if you drive a shuttle bus or other vehicle for work and it carries 14 or fewer passengers, you must obtain a Class E or for-hire license. The Class E license enables the driver to operate any bus that weighs 26,000 pounds or less in gross vehicle weight as long as no hazardous materials placard is required.

    At the time you apply for Class E license, you must be at least 18 years old and must meet the under-21 requirement for obtaining a full license. Obtain the Class E by passing a road sign test, a vision screening and a written exam. The driving test is only required of applicants who do not already have a valid Missouri driver's license.

    References: Special Licenses in Missouri

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    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    IRS Code 6039(a): Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans

    by Malinda Winkle

    Seal of the Internal Revenue ServiceImage via WikipediaBusinesses that administer an incentive stock option program or an employee stock purchase program (ESPP), sometimes called Section 423 plans, must comply with Internal Revenue regulations in Code 6039(a), first enacted in 1986. It has been repeatedly revised regarding the plan administrators' requirements related to reporting to both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to affected employees.

    2004 Revisions

    In the 2004 amendment, when the employee exercised an incentive stock option or the employee transfers stocks in an ESPP, the new regulations mandated that corporations provide a written statement to each employee about these transfers by January 31 of the following calendar year. At that time, the requirements did not require a filing of information returns to the IRS.

    2006 Revisions

    Code 6039(a) was amended again by Section 403 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, modifying the reporting requirements again. This time, it required employers to file an information return with the Internal Revenue Service. It also required plan administrators to track exercised options as described in Section 422 of IRS Code and employee stock transfers as described in Section 423 of IRS Code. Since that time, the IRS waived these 2006 requirements for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 only.

    Current Requirements

    Under the current Internal Revenue Code 6039(a), effective January 2009, plan administrators must report all transfers to the IRS on Form 3922, either on paper or electronically.  They must also provide participants the option of receiving electronic statements. (See References 1) In the last amendment, while reporting requirements on incentive stock options plans remained unchanged, there were some changes in requirements for ESPP transfers. Section 6039(a)(2) clearly requires plan administrators to file an information return on ESPP transfers. For each such transfer reported, an employee statement is also required. Only the initial transfer is recorded. When the employee sells or transfers a stock previous purchased under an ESPP, the reporting requirements does not apply.

    Equity Compliance Software

    If manually managing incentive stock option and/or employee stock ownership plans becomes cumbersome, consider some equity compliance software. From every stage, from enrollment through options, purchases, statements and reporting requirements, the use of software may minimize your compliance problems and streamline the complex tracking requirements the plan administrators face. The software has built-in options for employees wishing to opt for electronic rather than paper statements, for instance. Software solutions can simplify an otherwise intricate process, saving required compliance data and with an auditing option.


    Option Ease; OptionEase Delivers First End-to-end Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP) Solution; December 2010

    Cooley; Special Reporting Requirements Regarding Incentive Stock Options and Employee Stock Purchase Plans; January 2009

    Internal Revenue Service; Information Reporting Requirements Under Internal Revenue Code Section 6039; December 2009

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    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    The Importance of Role Delineation in Co-Leadership Models

    Co-leadership models allow two individuals to share a leadership roll. The co-leaders may be co-CEOs, co-directors, co-teachers, co-principals, co-managers or a nurse-physician co-leadership, for instance.

    Regardless of what businesses utilize the co-leadership model, clearly delineating each co-leader's role and responsibilities allows them to function confidently and allows their staff to interact with them efficiently. Without the staff having a clear understanding of which co-leader to approach for what problem, confusion can surface, diminishing efficiency. Further, the staff may attempt to play one co-leader off against the other in much the same way a child plays mom off against dad or vice versa.


    IT Business Edge; Co-CEOs Not Common, but Leadership Model Works for Some; Ann All; February 2009

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    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Student Recruitment Via Virtual Reality

    This is the statue in the lobby of the Student...Colleges and other educational institutions use virtual tours when recuiting students. Being able to actually see the campus, sometimes even in real time, allays the parents' fears about the neighborhood and engages their student prospects. Further, from a business perspective, it gives them an advantage over institutions without virtual tours. Using the school's website in this way, allows the school to put itself in the best possible light when prospective students begin searching for possible schools. The more students you engage, and ultimately enroll, the more income for the school.


    Nu Cloud; The Benefits of Virtual Tours for Student Recruitment; May 2011

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    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    How Can I Obtain an EPA License to Sell Weed Killer?

    Weed KillerImage by akeg via FlickrSome states or Indian tribes, not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), require the licensing of dealers who sell weed killers within their jurisdiction. The EPA regulates the distribution, sale and use of weed killers according to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The EPA requires licensing or registration of the weed killer product. It does not license the sellers of weed killers. To sell weed killers, known as pesticides, you must know and adhere to federal and state or tribal regulations.

    Step 1
    Know the difference between legal and illegal weed killers in the U.S. Under FIFRA, this would include canceled, misbranded, suspended or unlicensed weed killers, also know as unregistered weed killers.

    Step 2
    Find out whether the EPA has reviewed and licensed a weed killer before you advertise or attempt to sell them. The EPA must determine that a weed killer poses no unreasonable risks to the environment or to human health. Once the determination has been made, each weed killer will be licensed for distribution, sale, or use as the label directs.

    Step 3
    Visit the EPA's "What is a Pesticide?" website for clarification if necessary. For regulatory purposes, weed killers are classified as pesticides.

    Step 4
    Check the labels of all weed killers before offering them for sale. When referring to labels, this includes brochures or flyers included with the product, the label on the package and any other information added by the manufacturer. The EPA's approves the language on the label. The label explains how the product must be used. If the EPA does not approve the label language, you may not sell the weed killer.

    Step 5
    Check the label to determine whether the EPA registered the herbicide for general use or whether use is restricted. This tells the seller whether the purchaser must have a certification to buy and use the product.

    Step 6
    Comply with state or tribal laws, if any, in addition to EPA regulations. State's laws differ. States sometimes require that all dealers selling weed killers in their state be licensed, even if they sell only online. The National Pesticide Information Center website provides links to the proper regulatory agency for all 50 states.

    Read the label every time you receive new weed killer products for sale, because labels change.
    Check the labels of all natural products being sold for use as a weed killer. These are subject to the same stringent EPA label approvals at chemical weed killers.


    Those who sell unlicensed weed killers violate federal regulations and could be fined and/or charged with both civil or criminal penalties.
    DuPont was fined $15,000 for allowing the repackaging of pesticides, a federal violation.


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    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Trend Following Tools for Forex

    Forex-smImage via WikipediaIf you want to make the best forex trades, you need to be able to read the wide range of indicators available. Before you get the news from sites such as ForexYard, you need to learn the various signals that experienced investors use to tell them when to buy or sell a currency. A savvy broker or investor learns how to recognize market clues that new investors don’t see and can quickly analyze the data into action that brings in large profits. One of the major indicators to keep in mind during your investment journey is trend-following tools.

    Trend-following tools along with forex news can help you to locate current trading trends as quickly as possible. Although there is something about selling when other people are purchasing, in most cases investors are dropping a currency for a good reason. There are also major trends. Once a currency begins to become popular or not, most of the time it remains that way. However, a trend-confirmation tool is a useful companion to your trend-following tools. These super easy forex tools can tell you if your trend-following tool is actually giving you accurate results or if you should consider other options.
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    Kindergarten Teaching Grants

    Kindergarten in FrankfurtImage via Wikipedia
    by Malinda Winkle

    Kindergarten teachers turn to local and national businesses, foundations and special interest organizations who support them with grant funding. Some funding may be found local to you while other funding may come from state or nationwide resources. By taking the time to request grant funding for your classroom or special project, you can improve the qualify of education in your classroom.

    State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning Grant

    Joyce Hembree, a kindergarten instructor at Mark Twain Elementary School in Oklahoma, applied for and received a $1,000 grant from the State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning grant program. State Farm offers these service-learning grants for youth-led service-learning projects each year. The projects run from Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day in mid-January through Global Youth
    Service Day in mid-April each year. Hembree's project combined older students with her kindergarten class to plant a cooperative vegetable garden. It produced healthy snacks and allowed the young people to focus on the issue of older, bigger students being bullies.


    NBEF Innovative Teacher Grants

    Sometimes a teacher finds grant funding from charitable foundations in her own county. The New Brunswick Education Foundation (NBEF) funds grants for teachers in the New Brunswick public school system. In 2010, the NBEF granted funding to a kindergarten teacher who applied for project funding for her “Reading & Writing ~ The Ultimate Superpowers!” program. She wanted her kindergarten students to begin internalizing the concept that they are readers, writers and have superpowers. The grant paid for the cost of books and children's author visits. The program inspires a long-term love of reading and writing. Any teacher within the system with innovative teaching ideas may apply for these grants.


    Wells Fargo Teachers Partner Program

    Search for grants specific to your state. Kindergarten teachers in the state of Arizona, for instance, may apply for one-time grants of up to $500 for books, educational field trips, supplies, technological needs or professional development workshops. Selection committee members meet about six times per year from September through March and notify the results within two weeks of each committee meeting. Funds will arrive within two months of committee approval. Teachers may submit one grant per month and are limited to one grant per year.


    International Reading Association Grant

    The International Reading Association's Regie Routman Teacher Recognition Grant is open to mainstream kindergarten classroom teachers who are International Reading Association members and who have at least 60 percent of their students qualifying for free lunches. The applicant should hold a desire to improve the way she teaches reading and writing. Regie Routman supports these grants of $2,500 each. The funds may not be used to purchase commercial curricula, however. Acceptable funding ideas include, for instance, attending the IRA annual convention, creating a library in the classroom or publishing the students' work.
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    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Government Grants for Green Energy Contractors

    Since the beginning of 2009, $8 million in economic stimulus money has been set side by the U.S. Department of Energy in part for green energy contractors. Some of the funds assist low-income households by enabling them to afford the contractors' green energy jobs, and some offer grants directly to small-business contractors who provide weatherization services for these families.
    State Grant Programs

    Because states distribute the federal stimulus funding, small-business home improvement contractors interested in obtaining grant funding should contact their own state officials. Details vary from state-to-state, but take Wyoming, for example. Its goals include boosting economic and work force development by expanding the state's number of certified contractors by the year 2013. Wyoming offers building analyst training courses for contracting companies and workforce development workshops with part of the stimulus grant funding.

    Available Grants

    Grants, typically available on a competitive basis, encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies such as photovoltaic systems, nuclear, wind or geothermal, for instance. According to Ambassador Energy, a solar energy solutions company, grants primarily go to the commercial, education, government, industrial and utility sectors. They help pay the cost of systems or equipment approved within the program. Other aspects of the grants focus on research and development funding or support small-business contractor start-ups or expansions.

    Projected Growth in the Weatherization Industry

    The weatherization industry is expected to grow by 2,000 percent over the next 10 years, according the Lesko, due to the increase in funds for this program. In 2009, 3,000 home inspectors were needed. In total, 125,000 jobs were needed to staff the small-business weatherization contractors working within this program. For every $1 million invested in the program, 73 green jobs are created.

    Increased Household Income Limits

    The existence of the new funding for households creates a viable boost to the industry by allowing families who did not qualify for grants in the past to qualify under the new guidelines. Without expanding the income limits, contractors have a very narrow market. From 2008 to 2009, the amount of family income allowed for participation in the weatherization program increased from $33,000 to $44,000. Homeowners get the work done on their home and have lower utility bills after completion of the project. Contractors have customers, thanks to these income limit adjustments.


    Solar Power Wind Energy; Government Grants for Alternative Energy; April 2011

    Garfield Clean Energy; Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative Solar Installations Nearing...


    M. Lesko; Green Grants; Matthew Lesko
    Ambassador Energy; Renewable Regulations: Grant Programs

    Wyoming Home Performance: The Wyoming Home Energy Makeover And Local Government Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy and Installation Project

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    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    My Review of Bush Furniture Fairview L-Shape Wood Computer Desk Set with Hutch in Antique White

    Originally submitted at

    Bush Furniture Fairview L-Shape Wood Computer Desk in Antique White The Bush Fairview L Shaped Computer Desk is a gorgeous addition to any home or corporate office. It provides plenty of work space with convenient box storage and storage drawers. It also features a retractable keyboard and mouse tr...

    Business Quality with a Residential Look

    By Malinda Winkle from Winter Springs, Florida on 7/16/2011


    5out of 5

    Best Uses: Home offices

    Describe Yourself: Midrange Shopper

    Primary use: Business

    I was looking for a business-quality product with a residential look. I work from home and need the durability called for from a desk I work on every day all day. But, I wanted something that complemented my home decor. This is it! Its antique white finish complements the cabinetry in my home.

    All the Bush products are easy to assemble.

    I particularly like that this set comes with a hutch, which is attractive and provides more places for storage and display. Plus it comes with a matching two-drawer file cabinet. Awesome!

    Love it!


    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Grants for Reintegrating Ex-Offenders

    The seal of the United States Department of LaborImage via Wikipedia
    Seal of the U.S. Department of Labor
    In February of 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration announced the availability of funds for the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Adult Program Grants. Approximately ten grants totalling $11.7 million dollars help serve the needs of adult ex-offenders who return to their communities. Each grant will be $1,170,000. Disbursal to faith-based and community organizations continues over a 27-month performance period.

    Six City Gang Initiative

    The U.S. Department of Justice's Six City Gang Initiative focuses on gang-involved offenders. It began with six pilot sites and was expanded in 2007 with an additional four cities. These grant funds address three aspects. One of the three aspects involves ex-offender reentry assistance programs. These provide  preparation to assure job readiness, placement assistance, transitional housing, and treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues for gang-involved offenders returning to their communities. Faith- and community-based institutions are encouraged to apply.

    Juvenile Offender Reentry Program

    Juvenile offenders have issues when reentering the community -- just like adult prisoners. In June of 2011, funding from the Second Chance Act of 2007 was announced in the form of grants for the Juvenile Offender Reentry Program. Administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, it offers awards of up to $750,000. Grant proposals must come from local, state or county governments or from a federally recognized Native American tribal government. A cost-sharing or matching requirement does exist for these grants.

    Adult Offender Reentry Program

    Also funded by grants of the Second Chance Act of 2007, in May 2011, a new grant opportunity was announced for the Adult Offender Reentry Program. Like the Juvenile Offender Reentry Program, these grants provide up to $750,000 grants to local, state or county governments or from a federally recognized Native American tribal government. Administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, these grants have a cost-sharing or matching requirement.


    U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration; Notice of Availability of Funds and Solicitation for Grant Applications for Reintegration of Ex-Offenders – Adult Program Grants; February 2011

    U.S. Office of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Learn About Reentry: Attorney General's Six City Gang Initiative

    Grants; Second Chance Act Juvenile Offender Reentry Program for Planning and Demonstration Projects; June 2011
    Grants; Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Program for Planning and Demonstration Projects; May 2011


    Tax Clearance Certificate from the Director of the New Jersey Division of Taxation prior to the issuance of the grant

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    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    FREE Burger King Whopper Deal

    A Burger King hamburger sesame seed bun, as se...Image via WikipediaNext time you stop at Burger King, check the back of your receipt. You may find instructions for how to earn a FREE whopper with the purchase of fries and a drink. Complete a short, online survey within 48-hours of your visit. At the end of the survey (which really isn't bad), it gives you a code which you write on the back of your receipt. Next time you visit BK, bring your receipt, buy a fry and a drink and they will give you the whopper for free. Nice!
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    What is a FOREX market?

    The FOREX market, a market for buying, exchanging, selling and speculating on currencies internationally, forms the biggest financial market in the world. It processes trillions of dollars in daily transactions. According to the Taipan Publishing group website, participants in the FOREX market include banks, central banks, commercial companies,  hedge funds, investment management firms, investors and retail forex brokers.


    Taipan Publishing Group: General Investment Glossary: Forex Market, June 2011
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    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Program to Earn a FREE Home Child Care License

    National City sealImage via WikipediaIn National City, California, the Entrepreneurial Training Center, in collaboration with the Microenterprise Family Childcare Program and Southwestern College, offer grants to Spanish-speaking women interested in obtaining a home-based child care license. A grant recipient receives a free, 14-week course to attend classes Monday through Friday from 9 am until 1 pm. The course provides the required training for starting a licensed day-care facility in her home. Part of the course includes 15 hours study in health and safety, CPR and pediatric first aid, which are required for licensing. Each participant receives a childcare provider pack that includes a free fire extinguisher, smoke alarm and other safety supplies needed for her new business license.


    OUP; Entrepreneurial Training Program: Microenterprise Family Childcare Program: Southwestern College
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    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Grants for Building a Retirement Home for the Elderly

    Grants to States for Construction of State Home Facilities

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers project grants. Through the Grants to States for Construction of State Home Facilities program, it assists any state in acquiring or building home facilities or nursing home care for veterans. Alterations, expansion of existing facilities or remodeling project funding and the provision of initial equipment for any of these buildings may be considered for a project grants. But, land acquisition costs are not covered. Ultimately, the buildings must be owned by the state and primarily service veterans.

    Oglala Sioux Tribe Grants
    Indian artist Paha Ska, of Keystone, S.D., an ...Image via Wikipedia
    Indian artist Paha Ska, of Keystone, S.D., an Elder of
    the Oglala Sioux tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation in
    South Dakota
    The weathly Oglala Sioux Tribe routinely makes grants to other Indian tribles. In 2008, for example, it gave $5 million in grants and loans for building an elderly living facility and nursing home for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, states the Rapid City Journal website.   



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    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Real Crime on "Cold Case Files"

    Guest post by Terrell House

    My favorite educational program is "Cold Case Files" on A&E on satellite TV from, not to be confused with the fictional drama "Cold Case" on CBS. What I like about "Cold Case Files" is that it presents cold cases of murder that actually occurred in real life. It does not over-sensationalize the cases, but it does cover the facts and details that led to the capture of the murderers and were relevant to the court sentencing the criminals received. Unlike "Unsolved Mysteries," "Cold Case Files" does not leave me feeling unsettled because most of the cold cases they choose to present have been solved -- and they show you how. Occasionally, they do address cases that remain unsolved, but that just serves to add to the mystery of how the case being shown will or will not be resolved at the end of each of the show's segments. "Cold Case Files" usually takes watchers through two cases in an hour-long episode, one at a time. This means the show moves fast enough that it avoids slow moments, but is flexible enough to address the cases in more detail as warranted. Its easy to understand how they inspired the fictional drama "Cold Case" as well as other crime shows, but the original fact-based "Cold Case Files" on A&E remains my favorite.

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    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    How Much Do Comic Book Colorists Earn?

    In a more appropriate context, Rulah Jungle Go...Image via Wikipedia
    Rulah Jungle Goddess battles a congress of gorillas to rescue and explorer.
    Today's comic book colorists letter and color a comic strip entirely on the computer. The comic writer organizes a plot and script. Then, the penciller begins the transformation of the comic story line into visual art. Using the penciller's lines, the inker, also an artist, adds shading and detail to facial features, background and clothing, for instance. Finally, the comic book colorist completes the final coloring and lettering of the comic.

    Pay Varies By Experience

    Comic book colorists pay varies by experience. If you have the potential of earning royalties above your per-page rate, your page rate may be lower than those who do not have rights to royalties. A comic book colorist earns $35 to $125 per page, according to Sean J. Jordan, owner of Army Ant Publishing. Jordan adds that a colorist strives to reach $75 over time, calling the $75-to-$100 range the "sweet spot." If working on an entire comic book project , rates range from $770 to $2,750 per book.

    Contract Work

    For the most part, a comic book colorist works similar to a freelancer. Contracts state the terms of your agreement with a company or group that wishes to engage you for a certain period of time at a certain pay rate. Contracts, whether for long-term or short-term projects, express your pay rate as an amount per page.

    Deadlines for Contracts

    In addition, some contracts carefully define the terms of your deadlines for completion or revision of the work, if needed. It is likely expressed as your turn-around time -- the time from when you receive the assignment until you must have it completed and ready for final review. The inker and the painter work together with the comic book colorist --all working towards the same completion deadline. If you fail to meet the terms of the deadline, payment terms under the contract may be voided.


    Some comic book companies, such as Marvel and DC, contract for their comic books to be created. They pay royalties to the creators of the comic book, depending on how well it sells in the marketplace. The royalties paid are in addition to the per-page rate in your contract. In this case, the company typically retains ownership of your work. Comic book publishers, on the other hand, operate more like book publishers on some comic book projects. A comic book, created by an individual or a team, is distributed by the book publisher and royalties are paid to the creator(s). If you are a part of a team, the proceeds are shared among you according to your agreement.

    Work from Home and Get Paid Electronically

    One of the benefits of a comic book colorist's work is her ability to work from home, if desired. Colorists can seek work online. Because the work is done digitally, the client hiring you submits the work to you electronically. You do the project on your computer and return it to your client electronically. You sometimes even get paid electronically. Some comic book colorists work in-house, rather than freelance, however.

    Sean J. Jordan: Comic Book Publishing – How Much Should You Spend to Produce a Comic Book?

    The Comics Report; Getting Published -- Comic Books; Tome Surgeon; October 2004

    Sean J. Jordan: About Sean J. Jordan


    I Fan Boy; Comic Book Coloring: Then and Now, Conor Kilpatrick; May 2009

    Roqoo Depot; How Comic Books Are Made; Skuldren

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    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Financial Aid for Families on Disability and Social Security

    Families on disability or Social Security often qualify for other sources of financial aid. The Plan for Achieving Self Support, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and your state's vocational rehabilitation program all offer financial aid for families on disability and Social Security. Some programs assist with day-to-day expenses, while others focus on assisting you in finding and keeping a good job.

    PASS Assistance

    The PASS program provides financial aid to American students presently on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Specifically, it helps students on SSI reach their vocational goals. With PASS assistance the student sets aside assets for a specific vocational goal, such as paying college tuition, and can still be eligible for SSI payments. PASS covers college expenses such as books, child care if needed, computer and related supplies, food while at school, Internet, tuition, tutoring and even transportation costs. Repayment of PASS fudning is not required. Applicants must be at least 16 years old, have a certified disability and have a gross family income of less than $57,000 per year.

    Habitat for Humanity

    Habitat For Humanity volunteers constructing a...Image via WikipediaHabitat for Humanity (HFH) builds and rehabs homes by utilizing volunteer labor along with donations of materials and funding. HFH helps families, many times disabled families, get into a wheelchair-accessible home of their own. Applicants, once approved, apply sweat equity, helping build or remodel the home. Check with the HFH website and learn whether your family qualifies for a HFH home in your local community (see references).

    Temporary Assistance to Needy Families

    Families qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Family before receiving or while receiving SSI or SSDI if their income falls within acceptable ranges. The funds for TANF assistance come from the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services. However, the individual states administer the TANF program. The rules vary from state to state, and you apply with your state's local welfare office for a determination of whether your family qualifies for TANF assistance.

    State Services for Vocational Rehabilitation

    An individual with a disability can get assistance from his state's vocational rehabilitation, or VR, office. VR helps people get and keep a job. Each individual gets a custom-designed program suited to her particular needs. You can contact your nearest state VR office and a counselor will determine if you qualify for this program. Services typically include access to rehabilitation technology, counseling, an opportunity to attend school for career training, independent living opportunities and other services to support your vocational efforts.


    "Financial Aid for the Disabled & Their Families, 2006-2008"; Gail Ann Schlachter, et al; April 2006

    Social Security Administration: Disability Programs: Benefits for People With Disabilities

    Habitat for Humanity; Access to the Dream; Patrick Dunn

    Mortgage Loan; Housing and Mortgages for People With Disabilities

    University of Washington: College Funding for Students with Disabilities: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS)

    PASS Plan Help: Scholarships for the disABLEd

    Virginia College Quest: Paving the Way: Financial Aid for Students With Disabilities

    Social Security Disability: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

    Habitat for Humanity: Fact Sheet: Frequently Asked Questions

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    What is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)?

    Logo of the United States Pension Benefit Guar...Image via WikipediaThe Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, (PBGC), is a U.S. government agency. It protects the retirement incomes of more than 44 million American workers in private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 created the PBGC for the encouragement of private-sector pension plans. Funding for PBGC comes from insurance premiums paid by employers who sponsor insurance pension plans for their employees -- not by tax dollars.


    PBGC; Who We Are: Mission Statement


    AXA Equitable; Retirement Planning Common Questions: Does the federal government insure pension benefits?; December 2009

    U.S. Department of Labor: What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan

    U.S. Department of Labor; Employee Benefits Security Administration: Pension Plans and ERISA; February 2003

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