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Interesting Things You Need to Know

Good credit starts here

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The One-Year Plan for better credit:

1. Go to annualcreditreport.com and get a free report. Correct any errors.

2. Pay your bills on time. You must never be late even once. Set up automatic payments.

3. Work on getting your credit balances below 30 percent of your maximum credit limit.

4. Do not apply for new credit, but if you are offered an increase in credit limits on your existing accounts, take it. This can raise your score, but remember you still need a clean record of payments.

5. Do not make new credit charges.

6. If you have unused credit accounts, don’t close them if you are planning to apply for a mortgage. That can actually make your score drop.

7. During your credit improvement year, don’t buy a car. Lenders don’t want to see buyers committed to several new, large credit accounts. Never finance a car before you apply for a mortgage. Never take out new credit card accounts before you apply for a mortgage.

8. Use caution with store accounts that offer a hefty discount on purchases if you apply for a card. Although some stores say they do not make a hard credit inquiry, a new account on your credit report is probably not what you need if you are trying to improve your score.

However, if your credit history is thin, you might take out a store account, providing you make several payments on time and then pay off the balance.

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Vested: It’s not what you wear; it’s what you own

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It’s a term thrown around a lot, and it sounds important: vesting. As in, being fully vested — that sounds pretty good and it is.

According to the IRS, being vested in a retirement plan means ownership. All employee contributions to a retirement plan are 100% fully vested — the employee owns everything he or she puts in.

However, employers usually provide a match of a certain percentage of employee contributions.

Matching contributions

Employers match contributions made by employees in different percentages. An employer might say: If you put 6% of your paycheck into the 401(k), then we’ll match your contribution by 50%. So suppose your 6% equals $3,000. Then the employer will put in $1,500. That would be an unusually generous match. Typically, an employer may match 3% of the first 6% of the employee’s salary.

That equals a 9% contribution — still pretty good, especially over the long term.

They key idea, though, is that the employer sets a certain match percentage. The employer may also have rules about when their contributions are fully owned (or vested) by the employee.

Vesting rules
The employer, along with the fund managers, decides how much of the match the employee owns and when.

Newer employees may start out at lower percentages, but they become fully vested in time.

For example, an employee may become 20% vested in the company match after two years, meaning the employee owns their personal contributions plus 20% of the company match. Many 401(k) plans work out vesting in tiers. The longer you stay with the company, the more of the company contribution you own. An employee might become fully vested in, for example, six years. Then the employee owns 100% of the matching contribution.

Sometimes 401(k)s are set up so that an employee becomes 100% vested at a specific time — say after 2 years. Then they own all the matching funds on one day.

Being fully vested
The good thing about being fully vested is that you own all the money you put in and all the money your boss matches. (Plus, you own all the money that grows over time.) That means you can take the money with you if leave the company or retire.

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First steps to entry work in the merchant marine

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The most critical phase of finding an entry-level job in the Merchant Marine is knowing how to qualify for mariner employment, according to BeaMerchantMarine.com.

And before any subsequent steps–including the Basic Safety Training license and Standards of Training and Watchkeeping Certification–you should apply for the Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC).

To do so, CareerTrend.com advises you to visit a U.S. Coast Guard Regional Examination Center or the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime website for the MMC application, medical and drug test forms.

After your physical exam, have your doctor report the results on the medical forms, Personnel Physical Examination Report, Certification of Fitness for Entry Level Rating Form, and, if necessary, the Medical Waiver Submission Form.

Be sure you read and understand the U.S. Coast Guard Drug Testing Requirements document. Get a drug screen, and have its results reported on the DOT/USCG Periodic Drug Testing Form.

Complete the Application for Merchant Mariner Credential or Certificate of Registry. Based on your fingerprints, the FBI will conduct a thorough investigation of your background.

You must also swear to the validity of your statements, furnish information on any convictions, and provide three character references.

If you’ve ever sailed (even in your boat), complete the Small Vessel Sea Service Form. Any time spent on the water counts as sea time.

Because former military sea time counts toward upgrades in certification, or even licensing as an officer, ex-Coast Guard and Navy individuals should complete the Request Pertaining to Military Records form.

Finally, apply for a Department of Homeland Security Transportation Worker Identification Card. This document is required to obtain the MMC, which enables you to seek a job.

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6 tips for safe cycling

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Biking on city streets presents dangers to cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike. To ensure everyone’s safety, here are six guidelines bicyclists should follow.

1. Wear a helmet
In the event of an accident, wearing a helmet greatly reduces your chances of suffering a serious head injury. Make sure that your helmet fits well and that the straps sit snugly against the sides of your face and under your chin. Also, be sure to choose a helmet manufactured according to strict safety standards (look for a sticker from a safety standards organization such as Snell, ANSI, ASTM, BSI, SAA or CPSC).

2. Inspect your bicycle

A well-performing and properly maintained bike is safer than one that’s run down and needs work. Regularly check the following be¬fore hitting the road:

• Tire pressure
• The condition of the spokes
• The alignment of the wheels and the forks
• The tautness of the chain
• The functioning of the brakes.

Only ride bikes that are the appropriate size. Ensure that the seat and handlebars are set at the right height.

3. Make yourself visible
If you cycle at night or when visibility is limited, make sure your bike is equipped with a white front light, a red rear light or reflector, white reflective tape on the front forks and red reflective tape on the rear forks. As an extra precaution, consider wearing reflective clothing and equipping your bike with vertical and horizontal safety flags.

4. Make yourself heard
Bikes are extremely quiet, so it’s important to always announce your presence to other cyclists and pedestrians. Use a bell, horn or your voice to indicate that you’re passing or approaching.

5. Communicate your intentions
Know the hand signals for turning and stopping and always use them when changing lanes, making a turn or coming to a stop. This is for the benefit of motorists and other cyclists. Moreover, make sure to do a shoulder check before signalling and another one just before turning.

6. Remain alert
Distracted cycling is as dangerous as distracted driving. Don’t ever text or talk on the phone while riding your bike. And avoid wearing earphones as it’s important that you hear what’s happening around you.

By following these recommendations and abiding by the local traffic laws, you’ll reduce the risks involved in cycling.

Did you know?

Hand signals
When you’re cycling, you need to communicate with others on the road when you want to turn or stop. Here are the three main hand signals cyclists and drivers should know. (Figures represent cyclists as viewed from the rear.)

Right turn
To signal a right turn, you have two options. One method is to simply extend your right arm horizontally. Alternatively, you can bend your left arm upward at the elbow so that your hand points up, with the palm forward.

Left turn
To signal a left turn, simply extend your left arm horizontally (in other words, point left, but with an open palm).

Stop
To signal that you’re stopping, bend your left arm downward at the elbow so that your hand is pointing to the ground and the palm is facing backward.

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A history of roads in Virginia: “The Most Convenient Wayes”

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Early colonists considered waterways to be the most important transportation links.

The Virginia settlers, who arrived at Jamestown Island aboard three small ships on May 13, 1607, had little need for a road system. Barely more than 100 in number, their first concerns were disease, hunger, shelter, and protection from the often hostile Indians who had lived on the land for generations. In those first rigorous years, survival demanded the full energy of the colonists in the wilderness. The waterways were there for transportation—the great rivers that emptied into the Chesapeake Bay and that were to become known as the James, the York, the Rappahannock, and the Potomac.

As the colonists hunted for food and cautiously began exploring the forest, they discovered a crude network of paths made long before by Indians and wild animals. The colonists used these, and many of the paths were to shape the Virginia road pattern for years to come.

The settlers also found roughly built bridges made of tree trunks and limbs, which they at first believed to be Indian-planted traps rather than bridges. By 1610, with new arrivals from England, the colony numbered 210. The road along the River Bank, probably a former Indian path, was used to haul supplies from the ships to the Jamestown Fort.

The Greate Road appears to have been Jamestown’s main street, and it was of early commercial importance. It crossed the isthmus connecting the island with the mainland at Glass House Point, where in 1608 glass was manufactured for export. Faint traces of the road are evident today at Glass House Point.

Eventually, the Greate Road extended on the mainland to Middle Plantation, a settlement to become known as Williamsburg and destined to be the capital of the Virginia colony and the hub of the colonial road system.

The first bridge recorded as having been built by the English settlers was constructed in 1611 at Jamestown Island. It wasn’t really a bridge, but a wharf about 200 feet long from the bank of the James to the river channel, where the settlers docked their ships. The colony’s first agricultural crops raised for export were rolled to these ships.

John Rolfe had begun experimenting with the cultivation of tobacco in 1612 and two years later exported a shipment to England. In less than 20 years, tobacco exports had reached 500,000 pounds annually; tobacco would remain the foundation for the Virginia economy throughout the colonial period. Inevitably, the success of the tobacco crop was to influence the colony’s transportation needs as well.

The tobacco fields spread on the mainland, and a number of the old Indian paths became tobacco rolling roads. The name came from the practice of packing the harvested tobacco in barrels called hogsheads and rolling them to the wharves, frequently a distance of miles. The rollers ordinarily tried to follow the high ground and avoid the fords, or shallow stream crossings, because water leaking through the barrels would damage the tobacco.

The practice of following the old paths and branching off from time to time on higher ground accounts for many of the early meandering country roads. After two decades, the colony’s population was near 5,000 and growing. The frontier had been pushed well beyond its original boundaries, and while much of the settlers’ travel was still by boat, an increasing proportion was on land.

Next up: America’s First Road Law

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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Truckers and the transport industry: the backbone of America

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Trucking is the most common method of transport in America and is responsible for moving 70 percent of all freight within the country. There are currently just under four million long-haul truckers employed in the United States.

Truck drivers have a rigorous schedule and spend up to 300 days per year on the road. Many work up to 70 hours a week, although they’re only allowed to drive for 11 hours a day.

Some truckers are paid hourly, but most are paid by the number of miles driven. This means that traffic, adverse weather conditions and mechanical breakdowns all have a financial cost for truck drivers.

Drivers travel roughly 125,000 miles per year, which amounts to almost 350 miles per day. When it comes to schedules and seeing their families, drivers with seniority may have a regional route that allows them to return home weekly. Newer drivers, however, may be away from home for up to three weeks.

Truck drivers and other transport workers do important work that keeps our communities running. About 75 percent of American communities are entirely reliant on trucks for transporting food, clothes and supplies. So, the next time you see a trucker, thank them for the important role they play in keeping our country running smoothly.

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How often should you cut your hair?

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The ideal frequency with which you should cut your hair depends on its length, the chemical processes it’s been through and whether or not you’re growing it out.

Structured styles like pixies and bobs need to be cut every four to six weeks to maintain their shape. Medium to long hair that’s in good condition can be trimmed every 12 weeks.

If you’re growing your hair, have it trimmed every eight weeks. While this may seem counter-intuitive, frequent cutting keeps your hair strong and prevents it from breaking.

Hair that’s been dyed, heat damaged or undergone other chemical processes should be cut often to restore it to health. If your ends are dry or broken, get a trim every six to eight weeks until the damage has been removed.

Keep in mind that everyone’s hair grows at a different rate. You may find that your own strands need a trim sooner than is suggested here. Talk to your stylist to determine the right haircut frequency for your particular strands.

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Upcoming Events

Jun
20
Thu
10:00 am Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 20 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Summer Art Week - Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week for children is designed for students who love art and want to go beyond what they have experienced in the school setting, while meeting the Virginia Standards of Art. Recommended ages for[...]
5:00 pm Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
Jun 20 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Annual Wine Pull @ Blue Wing Frog
5th Annual Wine Pull | Thursday June 20, 2019 | 5:00 – 7:00pm | Blue Wing Frog, 219 Chester Street. Tickets: $40.00 – Includes food, glass of wine, and a bottle of wine or wine[...]
Jun
21
Fri
10:00 am Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week – Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Summer Art Week - Session 1 @ Art in the Valley
Summer Art Week for children is designed for students who love art and want to go beyond what they have experienced in the school setting, while meeting the Virginia Standards of Art. Recommended ages for[...]
Jun
22
Sat
9:30 am Acrylic Pour Workshop – Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Acrylic Pour Workshop – Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Jun 22 @ 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Acrylic Pour Workshop - Level 1 @ Art in the Valley
Learn the process and art of acrylic pouring with artist and instructor Jan Settle. You’ll have a fun & exciting experience creating your own original masterpieces in this workshop! Learn how to manipulate paint &[...]
1:00 pm Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Jun 22 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Meet the Author: NP Haley @ Royal Oak Bookshop
Lily and the Ghost of Michael Thorne By local author, NP Haley Feeling someone or something looking at her, Lily peered into the shrouded forest and buildings surrounding the alley. Blinking rapidly to make sure[...]
7:30 pm Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Jun 22 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Middle School Pool Party @ Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool
Middle School Pool Party! FREE to all Warren County students who will be in the 6th-8th grades for the 2019-2020 school year. Event will take place at Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool on June[...]
Jun
23
Sun
all-day Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Jun 23 all-day
Reflections on Hubble Art Show @ Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Lodge
Reflections on Hubble Art Show June 4 – 23 at Lake Frederick June 4, 2019 – open to public June 12, 2019 – Meet the Artist Reception 4-6 p.m. June 23, 2019 – Final Day Seven Lake[...]
Jun
24
Mon
10:00 am Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAI... @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Jun 24 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch @ SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties
Calling all artists!! Design a chair for the SPCA CHAIR-ity Brunch and save homeless animals. Pick up a chair from the SPCA Thrift Shop, build a chair, up-cycle a chair, paint a chair, or upholster[...]
Jun
27
Thu
6:00 pm Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Jun 27 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Sip & Glaze @ The Vine & Leaf
Sip & Glaze at The Vine & Leaf! Join us for an evening of good company while you glaze your own lunch set (bowl and plate).
Jun
29
Sat
1:00 pm Botanical Drawing Workshop – Sum... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing Workshop – Sum... @ Art in the Valley
Jun 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing Workshop - Summer 2019 @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This weekend workshop will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings of leaves, flowers,[...]