Tag: 051816

Meditations – May 18, 2016

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By Pastor Rose M. Blank St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
The psalmist reminds us in several places that our lives are in the care and keeping of our God. Psalm 31:14-15 reads, “But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” Psalm 138:8 proclaims, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the words of your hands.” Another translation reads, “Complete the work that you have begun.”
God is doing good in and through the lives of all of us. As we think about our young people who have recently been confirmed in the church or our graduating seniors, both high school and college, we give thanks for the ways God has been and continues to be at work in their lives. We recognize that holy presence that forever leads and guides us.
In Parker Palmer’s book, Let Your Life Speak, he writes about the issue of vocation, which is not just for religious professionals, but it is about who we are called to be. He refers to a poem by Mae Sarton whose quest for vocation led her to write: “Now I become myself.” (p. 9) Our vocation, our becoming who God calls us to be, takes a lifetime of openness to the movement of the Spirit. So to all the graduates, to all who have recently been confirmed in faith in the churches of the community, remember that we never quit learning, we never cease to be open to the Spirit’s call in our lives, we never stop being on the journey that moves us into deeper practices of growing in our spiritual life.
Palmer suggests we think about our vocation not as “a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received.” It’s about accepting the gift of who we already are and being in touch with the inner voice that calls us to be who we are called to become. (p. 10) All of this is to say that for every one of us, young or old, our times really are in God’s hands. God continually guides our journey of life and faith, completing the good work that God has already started so that we can be the love of Christ for the world.

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Blueprints for a Main Street Facelift

Several downtown buildings in La Porte City are about to get some much-needed attention. Work behind the scenes over the past several months by architects and the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) has local officials preparing to take bids for the construction work that will transform the façades of several Main Street businesses.

The work is made possible by a federal Façade Improvement Grant the City received, which will fund approximately half the cost of façade improvements made to qualifying buildings on Main Street. With the City committing matching funds that will pay roughly one quarter of construction costs, property owners of qualifying buildings will be responsible for the remaining balance.

Not every building on Main Street will benefit from the program, however. To determine eligibility, a checklist was used to rate each building in the qualifying business district, the 200-500 blocks of La Porte City’s Main Street. Those judged to be in fair or poor condition were eligible for funding, provided the property owners opted to participate in the program and agreed to pay their portion of construction costs. Two properties, the Wasson Building (201 Main, owned by Mayor David Neil) and La Porte City Printing & Design (213 Main, owned by City Clerk Jane Whittlesey) are exempt from participating because of their owners’ roles in managing the grant’s distribution of funds.

All told, 13 buildings along Main Street are presently enrolled in the grant program. The owners have met with architects to discuss the façade improvements to be made to their respective properties. Before bids for construction work can be let, each building’s plan had to be reviewed and approved by the State Historical Preservation Office.

The City recently received notification of SHPO’s approval and is moving forward with the process of securing a general contractor to oversee the project which is estimated to cost more than $630,000. Local officials are hopeful that construction can begin later this summer, with much of the construction work to be complete by July 2017.

Freckles’ Adopt-A-Pet – May 18, 2016

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Freckles and The Progress Review encourage potential pet owners who are loving and responsible to consider adopting a pet from the Cedar Bend Humane Society.
Hi from all of us! There are three male teddy bear hamsters that are available for adoption! We are all adventurous little guys! Our adoption donation is $10 (cage not included).
For more information about adopting a pet, contact:
Cedar Bend Humane Society
1166 W. Airline Highway • Waterloo, Iowa 319-232-6887
cbhsadoption@mchsi.com
www.cedarbendhumanesociety.com

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Hawkins’ Happenings – May 18, 2016

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By Jolene Kronschnabel
May is Get Caught Reading Month. Thousands of items to read – books, magazines, and newspapers – are on hand and available to you at the library!
Preschoolers read about baseball and summer fun on Thursday, May 19, 10:30 AM, when Bucky, the Waterloo Buck’s mascot, is visiting Story Time. This is the last Preschool Story Time this school year.
The Book Club will discuss The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, on Monday, May 23, at 1 PM. If you have read this book you are encouraged to join us and share your thoughts.
Bring your knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, quilting, or other handwork to Hawkins Handcrafters from 1 to 3 PM, Thursday, May 26.
The library will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday, May 30. Remember to pick up books, movies, and magazines for the long weekend.
The Rescuers is the summer weekly Wednesday movie on June 1, at 1:15 PM. Two mice from the Rescue Aid Society search for a little girl kidnapped by unscrupulous treasure hunters. Rated G, Adventure/Animation/Family, plays 1 hr. and 18 min.
Beginning Tuesday, June 7, LEGORAMA will be held twice monthly during the summer. Join us from 2 to 3:30 PM on the first and third Tuesdays in June and the first and third Thursdays in July and August for LEGO building fun.
Free Monday afternoon On Your Mark, Get Set for Science programs will be provided by the Black Hawk County Extension Service 2016 STEM Library Tour starting June 6. These are entertaining, hands-on learning labs. Sessions are 1:00 to 2:00 PM for preschool-2nd grade and 2:30 to 3:30 PM for grades 3rd -5th. Call for more information.

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Practical Money Matters – May 18, 2016

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By Nathaniel Sillin
Should You Join the Gig Economy?
Today, our standard workday isn’t so standard anymore and we’re talking more about “gigs” – alternative work arrangements that often depend on the latest technology and a desire to set one’s own schedule and pay. However, the question is whether everyone plans for the reality of the work or the impact self-employment in any form can have on his or her long-term finances.
Gig workers – a broad spectrum that includes temporary help agency workers, on-call employees, contract company workers, independent contractors and freelancers – were measured as a startling and growing economic force in a March study by Harvard and Princeton researchers (https://krueger.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/akrueger/files/katz_krueger_cws_-_march_29_20165.pdf). According to their measurements, this diverse group of earners that made up 10.1 percent of the workforce in February 2005 has grown to nearly 16 percent as of late 2015.
Anyone thinking about going into business in place of or in addition to their day job should consider a planning period with the help of a qualified financial or tax expert. Major issues to cover include:
Consider qualified tax and financial advice. Switching to gig work – even if you find lucrative contract work in your field – can be an enormous shock to your finances. Cash flow can be irregular, disrupting budgets and long-term savings. It’s a good idea to get some qualified financial and tax advice so you understand the changes you might face and to keep major financial goals like retirement and college savings on track.
Setting up a business structure: While most gig economy participants settle on a sole proprietorship or some form of limited liability company (LLC) business structure, (https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/choose-your-business-structure) the choice needs to be carefully considered based on your particular business activity, overall tax situation and other financial factors unique to you. This is probably one of the most important reasons to seek out qualified tax, legal or financial expertise – the level of personal or property risk inherent in your choice might call for a structure that offers additional protection against lawsuits or insurance claims.
Think carefully about your benefits… Unless you fit a particular group exempt (https://www.healthcare.gov/health-coverage-exemptions/exemptions-from-the-fee/) from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or are insured by a spouse or partner, you’ll have to invest in healthcare insurance for yourself or consider the cost of being uninsured. This is a particularly important expense to plan in advance based on your health needs and the type of affordable coverage that’s available. Get referrals on qualified health insurance agents to get a full range of choices. And most of all, make a plan to keep saving and investing your money for long-term goals. Walking away from a weekly check can make that process tougher – talk about it and plan for it.
Track your spending and planning carefully. If you don’t budget or track your expenses now, it’s time to start. Being in business entitles you to certain deductions for home office expenses, equipment and other costs related to your work. So whether you use a specific software program or a computer spreadsheet or paper and pen to track your expenses, do so regularly to avoid missing items that could eventually save you money. If you’re working with a tax professional or financial planner, coordinate this recordkeeping with the work they’re doing for you. Also keep a constant discussion going about saving for the future, including retirement.
Make sure you’re really right for this. With proper planning, the gig economy can be both enjoyable and challenging. You’ll not only learn whether you can support yourself, but also whether you’ll enjoy doing it long-term. Many of us dream of being our own boss, but reality can be very different, particularly when managing uneven earnings and cash flow common to many new companies. It’s not just about business; it’s about whether your lifestyle and personality traits (https://hbr.org/2010/02/should-you-be-an-entrepreneur) make you right for operating a business in this economy – or any economy.
Bottom line: Plenty of people find themselves dealing either by choice or necessity with the brave new world of “gig” work. It’s important to approach it as a financial and lifestyle decision on par with starting a business.

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