Archives for December 2016
Over the years, I can remember many of the Christmas gifts I received as a child. Whether it was the special doll I had been yearning for or even the more practical new coat I got as a teenager, I have fond memories of some presents. I don’t remember them all, but I do recall all the memories I have of those times.
One year an aunt gave my brother and me a popcorn popper. Doesn’t sound very exciting, but it morphed into a treasured memory as we strung popcorn for the tree each year using that popper. In addition, my father began the tradition of Sunday afternoon popcorn balls made with that popcorn, along with liberal amounts of butter and marshmallows.
It is the gift that keeps on giving — the memories mean the most, not the gift. They can’t be wrapped and put under the tree, but they are important to our lives. It boils down to the concept of quality time spent with family and friends. The Search institute, a nonprofit research organization, describes the concept of quality time as “constructive use of time.” Constructive use of time is one of the 40 developmental assets that the Search Institute lists as the building blocks of healthy development for children.
The upcoming holiday season is a perfect time to strengthen your family ties by teaching your children the value of constructive use of time. Children need to spend time interacting with parents and other adults and decrease the time they spend watching television or playing video games.
Think about things you can do together. Start by going places and doing things together. At my house, I remember driving to Austin and viewing the Christmas lights both at residences and driving down Congress Avenue toward the capitol. That is a treasured memory from my youth. I can still picture the decorations that festooned the road and what it looked like as it framed the state capitol.
Pile in the car and go see the lights that others have put up. There are great lights here in Fairbanks, so ask your friends where their favorite neighborhoods for viewing are.
Do the Christmas decorating as a family. Turn off the television, turn on the Christmas music and sing along. It doesn’t matter if it sounds good or not. It will instantly put you in a Christmas frame of mind.
Play a little. Go sledding, skiing, ice skating or even just walking together. I know it is cold outside, but bundle up and brave the weather. These short days and being cooped up in the house can wear on your spirits. Get outside in the sun, even if it is cold.
Play inside as well. This is the time to break out the board games and cards, or even put together a puzzle. Being in the moment and together is the important thing, not the actual activity you are doing.
Eat together. Family meals are important for kids’ development. In fact, research posted in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows that eating meals together as a family frequently increases academic and behavioral outcomes. Take the time to eat together and to carry on a conversation. It’s a great time to convey family values and traditions.
Cook together. Cooking is a great learning activity to do with your kids. You’ll be teaching food chemistry and reinforcing math skills, plus you can eat the results. You can also pass on treasured family recipes, in addition to teaching valuable life skills to your kids.
Share traditions. Holidays are full of traditions, at the family, community and even area level. Take this time to tell the youngsters about them.
Plan some quality family time this holiday season. You’ll be giving your children the most important gift of all — your time.
San Francisco, Calif., Dec. 20, 2016 – Today, Peace Corps announced that Alaska ranks No. 5 among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita. There are 32 volunteers from Alaska currently serving worldwide, and 1,008 residents of Alaska have served in the Peace Corps since the agency’s founding in 1961.
“During my time leading the Peace Corps, I have seen the tremendous impact that volunteers have when they share their unique hometown perspectives with the communities they serve,” Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Volunteers represent our nation’s rich diversity by coming from all corners of the U.S. They are able to share our nation’s rich cultural heritage with communities around the world, leaving a legacy of peace and friendship that is timeless.”
Alaska volunteers are among the more than 225,000 Americans who have served around the world as agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development volunteers since 1961. This is the second year Alaska has ranked in the top ten on the Top Volunteer-Producing States Per Capita list since 2009.
Shaun Nesheim is an Alaska resident who served as an education volunteer in Ecuador from 2014 to 2016.
“The biggest impact I made was giving a good, positive impression of Americans,” Nesheim said. “The work that I did as an English teacher left a lasting impression on the English department in my school that improved the teaching methodologies of the instructors.”
This year’s rankings follow the launch of a refreshed Peace Corps brand platform that embraces a digitally focused communications approach to make the agency more accessible to all audiences across the United States through the platforms they already use. Sweeping reforms in the application and recruitment system ensure that Peace Corps continues to build a volunteer corps of Americans from all walks of life. Applicants will now find a simplified, more personal application process, and can learn more by visiting the Peace Corps website and connecting with a recruiter.
Below find the nation’s top 10 volunteer-producing states and metropolitan areas for 2016. View the list of volunteer numbers from all 50 states here.
Public Affairs, West Region
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for Alaska
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will see a slight increase in 2017.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500. Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.
Thresholds for benefits will change slightly next year including the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), SSI Federal Payment Standard, and SSI Student Exclusion.
Information about Medicare changes for 2017 are available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.
The Social Security Act provides for how the Cost of Living Adjustment is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
By Glenn Mollette
I was saddened when I saw the report of a group of little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo, Syria. Sadly this is where most of Aleppo’s remaining children are located. They are holding on to life, hopefully another day.
Many of us grew up loving the Santa Claus story and honestly I’m still holding on just a little bit. I don’t have a big list for him. However, most of what I’m hoping for is really out of Santa’s league.
Santa Claus is good for fun and games. I asked Santa for some games when I was a kid and received a Password game and a game called Mystic Skull. Those were fun games. I also asked Santa for a plastic bowling ball set. I got up on Christmas morning very early and it wasn’t under the tree. My mother went to the hall closet and pulled out this big box and said, “Santa told me to put it in here until you got up from bed.” I accepted that story as only a six or seven year old would do.”
Christmas lists change with age. What I hoped for at five became very different throughout the years. I had wish lists pertaining to career, children and other aspirations. Today I’m so very happy to simply enjoy health, trips to the grocery store and a warm house. Amazingly what makes me happy today is far more complicated than when I was preparing my toy lists for Santa.
I once asked for a $29 white electric guitar for Christmas. My hard working coalmining daddy and mom were able to buy that for me. I was so happy. It seemed like I had just gotten everything in the world for Christmas. A few days later one of my relatives was visiting in our home and he was admiring my white electric guitar. He didn’t make a lot of money but admired my gift and later commented that it was hard to buy many Christmas gifts on $20 a week. I felt a little bad about my beautiful guitar and sad for him. This was back in the day when decent money was $125 a week. Looking back I can now see more clearly that his perspective was that of a struggling adult.
I enjoyed that feel of being a little child. I didn’t worry about healthcare. I didn’t worry about having food to eat or paying all the bills. I didn’t worry about sickness or life’s longevity. I was free to enjoy the child’s perspective of Christmas. Today as adults we are hammered with the harsh realities of life. We deal with the daily grind of life that includes all the pains of having enough money and enough health to enjoy Christmas. We have other family members who we agonize with and relate to in their struggles.
We also have national concerns. We are blessed in America where so much of what we enjoy is almost a miracle every day. With all that we see and hear about in Syria and so many other troubled places in the world surely to just sleep and live in peace has to mean everything to all of us. I think this is something we grow into in America. The news tonight about little children hiding in a basement in Aleppo fearing for their lives was heartbreaking. They hold onto hope of their lives being spared and maybe a better day. However, a night of peace and rest is almost inconceivable to them.
Whatever you have this Christmas in America cherish and respect it. Thank God for everything you have. The perspective of everything we have changes throughout life from a five year old child to someone barely holding on to life in a nursing home or a family huddled together in a basement in Aleppo.
One of the most vulnerable groups is that of our “seasoned citizens.” Whether it’s mobility issues, health concerns or just simply the “alone factor,” our seniors often have different needs than the younger crowd.
This week’s column is provided especially for our seniors although the information is just as relevant for the post-boomer generation as well. As I have mentioned before, when disaster occurs, the first responders are overwhelmed. Y.O.Y.O then becomes a reality. (You’re On Your Own). The American Red Cross recommends seniors create a Personal Support Network made up of several folks who will check in on you, ensure your wellness and give assistance if needed. This network can consist of friends, roommates, family members, relatives, personal attendants, co-workers and neighbors. Ideally, a minimum of three people can be identified at each location where you regularly spend time, for example at church, home, or volunteer site.
There are seven (7) important items to discuss and implement with a personal support network:
2. Exchange important keys.
3. Show them where you keep emergency supplies.
4. Share copies of your relevant emergency documents, evacuation plans and emergency health information card.
5. Agree on and practice methods of contacting each other in the event of an emergency. Do not count on the telephones working. (Dave’s note: Check out FRS radios or consider sharing the cost of a goTenna, or similar device with someone. www.gotenna.com.)
6. You and your network should always notify each other when you’re going to be out of town and when you will return.
7. The relationship should be mutual. You have a lot to contribute! Learn about each other’s needs and how to help each other in an emergency. You can even collaborate on making preparations to be ready for a disaster.
The single most important thing anyone can do to prepare for a disaster is to organize their neighborhood. And it doesn’t cost a cent! Contacting your neighbors, especially fellow Seniors can build a sense of community and camaraderie along with an assurance that no one need to face adversity alone. Introduce the topic at the Senior Center, or your church group or the quilting club. Collaborating on projects can not only bring some peace of mind, but just may bring some new friends into your life.
Keep in mind you may want to stock up on certain medications. Most doctors are sympathetic to your needs regarding planning for disaster and are willing to cooperate by prescribing most maintenance medications in advance. The difficult thing here is to get your insurance to get on board with that concept. So any advance preparations you make in that regard may have to come out of your own pocket. Then be sure to take special care to mind the expiration dates on your meds. Also try to see your way clear to pick up an extra pair of eyeglasses. Some of us have enough trouble keeping track of our glasses even without a disaster, so adding a pair of drugstore “cheaters” to your kit just might not be a bad idea.
TIME: 5:30 PM
PLACE: Delta Elementary School Gym
The Delta/Greely School District provides each student with opportunities to become a
responsible and productive member of society.
Richard Mauer, President
Dana Mock, Vice President
Eileen Herman, Treasurer
Barbara Parker, Clerk
Joseph Mock, Student Representative
LTC Detrice Mosby, Military Representative
B. Roll Call
C. Pledge of Allegiance
D. Correspondence to/from Board
E. Discussion Items
1. Four Day School Week – Discussion/Public Comment
F. Future Meetings
1. Business Meeting Tuesday January 17, 2017
2. Work Session February 2, 2017
G. General Comments from the Public
H. Comments from the Board
Board Goals for 2016 ~ 2017
1. Facilitate the planning, programming, budgeting, execution and reporting of a short and long term maintenance
2. The board will establish key indicators of District success.
3. The board will oversee the on-going implementation of the strategic plan.
4. The board will assess the budget to identify areas for further efficiencies and revenue opportunities.