Category: Opinion

Consumer Counselor – May 22, 2019

How to reduce vehicle maintenance costs
Major repairs to a vehicle can be expensive. When unanticipated repairs are necessary, drivers’ budgets can be thrown out of whack, potentially causing a domino effect that compromises their ability to pay their bills on time. Whether your vehicle is brand new, a few years old or reaching milestones on its odometer with every mile driven, there are ways to care for the vehicle so you aren’t caught off guard by costly repairs down the road.
Read your owner’s manual. A vehicle owner’s manual is a great resource that can help drivers keep their cars and trucks running strong for years. Every vehicle, whether it’s purchased brand new from a dealership or preowned from a preowned dealer or private citizen, should come with an owner’s manual. Don’t worry if you purchased a preowned vehicle from a private citizen who lost the manual, as many manufacturers have manuals available for free on their websites. Print manuals may cost some money.
Drivers may be able to find their manuals elsewhere online on a site such as, which has thousands of manuals from various automakers available. Once you have the manual in hand or on your computer, visit the maintenance section to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. Adhering to those guidelines is a great way to keep your car running strong for years on end, and it might just save you from the hassle of sudden expensive repairs.
Protect the engine. The engine is arguably the most expensive part of your vehicle to replace, so protecting it should be a priority. Routine oil changes and oil filter replacements is a great way to protect the engine. Manufacturer guidelines vary in regard to oil change and oil filter replacement intervals, but such recommendations can be found in your manual.
Hone your DIY skills. Drivers also can save money on maintenance by doing some of their own minor vehicle repairs. YouTube is home to many DIY tutorials that can teach drivers how to change their own oil and replace the filters on their vehicles. Routine repairs are relatively easy, and many tutorials can walk you through them step-by-step. Depending on how much you drive, learning to do your own minor vehicle repairs may save you hundreds of dollars per year.
Perform routine inspections. Older vehicles may or may not alert drivers via noises or leaks that they’re in need of repair. Routine inspections of hoses, brakes and tires, which should always be properly inflated, can let drivers know if their vehicles are experiencing problems before those problems grow and become something costly.
Vehicle maintenance costs tend to be most expensive when drivers ignore routine maintenance or miss signs that their cars and trucks might be struggling. By adhering to manufacturer maintenance guidelines and paying attention to their vehicles, drivers can reduce the cost of keeping their cars on the road.

Letter to the Editor – Jason Good

Dear Editor:
Drug use is on the rise throughout every state in the US. More kids are picking up their first drug every day and becoming addicted and, unfortunately, another statistic.
One of the biggest contributing factors to today’s drug problem is the lack of good, widespread drug education. Education and prevention is the first step to handling the current drug crisis as we know it and the first attempt at drug education should be done in the home.
Parents should have open and honest communication with their children so that they may be more likely to talk about any problems they’re having down the road. Parents should set a good example and not use drugs themselves. It’s hard to tell your kids not to do drugs if you, for instance, smoke marijuana. Finally, parents need to teach their kids to face and handle their problems instead of running from them.
Drugs are a “solution” to a problem for people and if children are taught to face their issues head-on, they might be less likely to look for the “easy way out” of whatever life throws at them.
For more information on how to talk to your kids about drugs, visit If you are in need of a referral to a treatment center, call us at 877-841-5509
Jason Good, Narconon
Clearwater, Florida

ViewPoint: Stop the Summer Slide

Summer slide is the tendency for students to undo the gains they made during the previous school year, or to not be as prepared for the new, higher-level requirements of their grade level when they return to school in the fall, especially for students who struggle with reading.
While some parents like to give students a break in the summer, it is an important time for students to be engaged in literacy activities, especially if they already are experiencing difficulties with reading. Keeping up a reading routine in a season packed with diversions, helping children see the importance of reading, and making it be something exciting to do in the summer can be a challenge. The following ideas can help to make reading fun and fit this important activity into a busy summer schedule.
Set aside time to read each day. Reading high-quality books that are just right, not too hard and not too easy, for just 20 minutes per day will help students maintain their reading skills. Help your child find a book series he or she will enjoy, which could include graphic novels or comics. These are much more visual, but still provide a good reading opportunity for children. Incorporate reading into your everyday activities. Reading is all around us, and daily routines provide great reading opportunities. Take advantage of the opportunities that pop up during your child’s day, no matter how small, like reading a recipe or reading about some place you are going to visit. Read aloud to your child. Reading aloud benefits all students, especially those who struggle. You can read books that your child can’t, which builds listening comprehension. Take advantage of your local library. Libraries often run summer reading programs that motivate children to read over the summer. These programs are educational and provide fun enrichment activities throughout the summer and they’re free.
Get your child involved in the summer reading program available through Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA). CRAEA provides an online resource which a collection of fiction and nonfiction titles for K-12 students to encourage students to keep reading all summer long with ebooks available through MackinVIA library. There are easy to use websites containing e-books and activities that will keep children reading in the summer. ( or
MackinVIA is an eBook resource that contains a collection of fiction and nonfiction titles for K-12 students. The collection has hundreds of titles and crosses all content areas. Questions regarding the Summer Reading Website or MackinVIA, may be directed to Central Rivers AEA Librarians, Cheryl Roberson ( or Cari Teske ( You may also contact your building/district teacher librarian for more information regarding your MackinVIA login.
Reading is an essential building block for success in all aspects of life. Plan now to prevent the summer slide!
Kim Swartz is the Director of Instruction for Central Rivers Area Education Agency (CRAEA). She can be reached at CRAEA serves over 65,000 students in 18 counties of Iowa.

Consumer Counselor – May 15, 2019

Make the most of your stadium visit
Attending a sporting event or concert at an area stadium is a chance to have the time of one’s life. For those who have never before enjoyed such an experience or haven’t done so in awhile, the modern stadium might be something of a surprise. Fortunately, by being prepared and learning the ropes, your next day at the ballpark can be that much more enjoyable.
One of the first things that any event attendee should know is the reservation and ticketing process. Some stadiums may sell directly from their own box offices, while others may only sell through third-party vendors. Be sure to secure the tickets well in advance and keep them in a safe place if you choose paper tickets.
In today’s digital age, many tickets can be scanned and stored on a smartphone. Read the terms of use and be sure that you have the tickets downloaded and readily available when it comes time to enter the stadium. In addition, make sure the stadium accepts digital tickets. Many stadiums do, but there are still some holdouts that do not.
Expect certain measures of security that can involve anything from bag searches to walking through metal detectors when entering the stadium. You may need to leave large bags, like backpacks, at home.
Don’t be caught off guard and risk not being able to watch your game or show because of an avoidable error. And leave yourself ample time to get through security so you don’t miss a minute of the action.
Next up it is important to know what can and cannot be brought into the stadium. What about outside food and beverages? The rules vary depending on the stadium. If you’re not a fan of stadium prices, be sure to fuel up before the event.
Weather is always a consideration when attending events outdoors. Check the weather well in advance and make preparations if the game or concert will go on rain or shine. Spending several hours under the hot sun can be brutal, so hats, sunglasses, sunblock, and plenty of water will be needed to stay safe and comfortable. Consider packing a rain poncho if showers are in the forecast.
If you are able to ride share or take public transportation to the event, then do so. Parking lots fill up quickly, and the closer you are to the stadium, the more you will likely pay. If you drive, look for lots that allow easy egress in the direction of your destination after the event. Stadium survival is about getting the facts and planning ahead.

Consumer Counselor – May 8, 2019

Mother’s Day ideas for moms from all walks of life
Mother’s Day is a celebration of women who devote so much of their effort and energy to their families. Celebrating Mom on Mother’s Day lets her know all of her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Mothers may perform similar tasks, but no two moms are the same. Finding ways to celebrate Mom’s uniqueness can make the day that much more meaningful and memorable.
The Crafter – Mothers who are avid crafters may enjoy a craft-themed Mother’s Day. A family crafting project can make for a fun afternoon and produce mementos that Mom will cherish for years to come. Dads and kids can plan the project in advance without Mom’s knowledge, arranging all of the materials ahead of time and setting up the crafting station the night before or while Mom is relaxing on Mother’s Day morning. Kids can even get a head start on the day by making their own craft for Mom and giving it to her as a Mother’s Day present. Dads can keep the craft theme going at dinner and get a laugh out of Mom by pouring her a craft beer when dinner is served.
The Reader – A 2017 survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women read more than men. Women read an average of 19.8 minutes per day, which can make a Mother’s Day focused on Mom’s love of books an ideal and unique way to spend the day. Kids can write Mom their own books, and Dad can help put them together. Dads can visit rare bookstores and look for original copies of Mom’s favorite books that she might not find elsewhere.
The Nature Lover – Fishing and other outdoor activities might have a reputation as predominantly male hobbies, but studies show that’s not really the case. A 2016 report from the Outdoor Foundation found that 46 percent of people who participated in outdoor activities were women. If Mom is a nature enthusiast, families can plan a Mother’s Day enjoying the great outdoors, even giving Mom a new fishing pole, hiking gear or other items that align with her favorite nature activity.
The Relaxation Specialist – Of course, some mothers may want to simply unwind with a relaxing morning at the spa on Mother’s Day. In fact, the 2018 U.S. Spa Industry Study found that the spa industry has enjoyed seven consecutive years of consistent growth, with more than 187 billion spa visits in 2017 alone. A relaxing morning at the spa can be the perfect way for moms to begin Mother’s Day before they enjoy a brunch of dinner out with their families.
Mother’s Day celebrations can be as unique as the women being celebrated.


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