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How often should you inspect your roof?

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Your roof is an integral part of your home and plays a big role in shielding you and your loved ones from the elements. Though roofs last a long time, they must be inspected regularly and repaired as needed.

So, how often should you inspect your roof?

Most contractors recommend checking it twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall. However, if you’re not comfortable climbing on top of your house, it’s best to hire a professional roofer to perform the inspection.

Some things to look for are:

• Soft spots
• Shingles that are loose or curling
• Loose material around the chimney
• Anything protruding from the roof
• Large amounts of shingle granules in the gutters

Biannual inspections are crucial, but they aren’t the only time your roof should be given attention. Be sure to also visually check them after big storms, especially those with heavy precipitation and strong winds.

Your roof’s lifespan depends on its material. Slate, copper and tile roofs can last for up to 50 years, while wood shake roofs last for 30 and cement tiles have a lifespan of 25 years. Asphalt shingles will typically last around 20 years.

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Easter-weekend activities for the whole family

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Are you looking for something to do over the Easter break? If so, here are some great activities the whole family is sure to enjoy.

Themed events
Participate in one of the many Easter celebrations taking place nearby. Consider bringing your kids to an organized Easter egg hunt or egg roll race, or simply staging your own at home. Or, you could visit a petting zoo in town or at a nearby farm.

Alternatively, keep an eye out for Easter-themed crafts and workshops offered by local community centers and businesses.

Cultural outings
Take advantage of the extra days off to absorb some culture at a local museum, learn about history at a nearby heritage site or read a book at your neighborhood library.

Or, if you want to be entertained, consider taking in a theater production, watching the latest blockbuster at the movies or cheering on your favorite sports team at a local game. You could also go to see a concert, dance recital or magic show.

Athletic activities
If the weather’s temperate, head outdoors for a hike or bike ride. Or, consider venturing to the nearest snow-covered mountain to go snowshoeing, snowboarding or skiing instead. However, if the weather’s not great, an indoor activity such as skating, bowling or swimming may be more appropriate.

If you’d prefer to stay in over Easter weekend, there are lots of things you can do from the comfort of your own home. You could decorate eggs, do some baking or simply cuddle up on the couch with a movie.

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Tax time: Go for the refund, or no?

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Not to be a downer, but if you get a refund to come tax time, it means one thing: you had too much money withheld from your paycheck throughout the year and you gave the government an interest-free loan.

Not that that’s a bad thing. The debate will surely rage on about whether it’s a good idea to set yourself up for a refund, with many experts loudly proclaiming it a bad idea.

Regardless, the average taxpayer received a refund of roughly $3,000 each of the last few years, according to NerdWallet. And if you’re one of the many people who look forward to that windfall every April, here are some ideas to be fiscally smart when your money comes back around to you:

* Pay off or pay down high-interest credit cards, or, if the refund won’t pay them down completely, consider rolling the balance over onto cards with lower interest rates. (Note: consider the interest you pay during the course of a year and whether it’s better to have less money withheld from your paycheck so you can pay that debt off sooner.)

* Add funds to your emergency account. Or set one up if you don’t have it already.

* Invest it. From the NerdWallet article: A taxpayer who received a $3,000 refund in 2010, invested it and earned a 6% average annualized return would have more than $5,000 in that investment today. If they did the same for each of the past 10 years, they’d have more than $47,000 today.

* Put it toward retirement. Whether that’s your 401(k) or some version of an IRA, you can use the refund in a tax-free investment for your golden years.

* Put it toward an education fund or a 529 plan, each of which offers tax benefits as well. (Always consult your CPA.)

* Buy life insurance.

* Donate to your favorite charity.

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How to choose perennials

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Do you want a lush garden that grows back year after year? If so, here’s how to choose the perfect perennials for your outdoor space.

• Know your climate. Find out which hardiness zone you live in and choose plants that can thrive in it.

• Evaluate the amount of light. Does your garden get direct sunlight all day or is it in a shady spot? Either way, choose plants that will flourish with the amount of light provided.

• Consider when they’ll bloom. To ensure your garden flowers all summer long, plant a variety of perennials that bloom at different times.

Other factors you may want to consider when choosing your perennials include whether you want to attract pollinators and if you’d like flowers for cutting and displaying in bouquets.

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4 tips to help you complete your long-distance training

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If you’ve decided to broaden your horizons by completing an online training program, you’ll need to do these four things to ensure you succeed.

1. Set realistic goals
Estimate how long it’s likely to take you to finish the program. Evaluate how much time you have available and compare it to the amount of work that needs to be completed. Then, determine the date at which you’d like to be done. Don’t overestimate yourself, however, as trying to meet an unrealistic goal could backfire and undermine your motivation.

2. Stick to a schedule
Determine how many hours a week you can dedicate to your training program and create a schedule. Make sure to set specific times for yourself to do the course work and stick to them as much as possible.

3. Find a place to study
Find a quiet, isolated spot where you can focus. If you have young children, ask your partner to take care of them for a few hours or hire a babysitter. If finding a suitable spot at home is impossible, study at your local library or a coffee shop.

4. Ask for help
If completing your coursework is challenging, or if there are things that you’re unclear about, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Oftentimes, seeking out assistance is essential to achieving your objectives.

In sum, you can succeed in completing your long-distance training program by focusing on your goal, setting a schedule, studying and asking for help when you need it.

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The best storage solutions for every room in your home

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Did you finish your spring cleaning only to realize you need more storage space? Here’s a room by room look at some of the best solutions available.

Kitchen
Install hidden trays under your cabinets to hide chargers, coffee pods and other essentials. In addition, placing pull-out shelves in cupboards will make it easier to organize your items.

Bathroom
Store your cleaning supplies on a Lazy Susan to make them easy to find when you need them. Use baskets to hold things like bath towels or toilet paper.

Living room
Put a bowl on the coffee table to stylishly corral remote controls, magazines and other items. Additionally, a storage ottoman is perfect for holding throws and pillows.

Bedrooms
Take advantage of the space under your bed by adding drawers or using under-the-bed storage boxes.

Garage
Install overhead racks near the ceiling. This allows you to incorporate storage in the garage without sacrificing parking space. Use this area to hold stuff you don’t need to access often, like seasonal decorations and sporting gear.

Workshop, office or craft room
Mount a pegboard above your work area and use it to organize your tools or supplies. By hanging things on the wall, they’ll be easier to find and you’ll free up some room.

In addition, be sure to use the vertical space in your home. Install shelves above doors, get extra tall bookcases and put hooks on the back of closet doors.

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How to nail a phone interview

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If you’ve recently applied for a job, it’s likely that someone will call or email you to set up a formal interview for the position. However, you should also be ready for an informal phone interview. Here’s how to navigate this type of call and ensure you meet the hiring manager in person.

Be prepared
A phone call can happen at any time. Research the company when you first apply and prepare a few questions to ask the recruiter during a phone interview. In addition, always keep a copy of your CV close by, keep your phone fully charged and answer calls in a professional, courteous manner.

Be available
If you’re contacted by email with a specific time for the phone interview, prepare yourself accordingly. Notably, make sure you’re in a comfortable and quiet location at the time of the call and review the details about the company and the position.

If you receive the call unexpectedly, take it if it’s a good time for you. If it isn’t, let the call go to voicemail and call back as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can answer and ask them to call you back at a more convenient time.

Be a good listener
Pay attention to the person speaking and never interrupt what they’re saying. Be sure to take notes on the conversation as they may come in handy during a formal interview, should you have one.

If you’re not sure how the phone interview went, don’t be shy to ask about the next steps in the hiring process. This will give you a good idea whether or not you’re going to have a second interview.

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Upcoming Events

Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
9
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 9 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
10
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 10 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr
13
Mon
10:00 am Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Apr 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Answers to your gardening questions and problems! E-mail questions and pictures to greenhelpline.warrenco@gmail.com Mondays from 10:00am -1:00pm, April-October (except holidays) Come in or call 540-635-4549 *in-person and phone help available after corona virus emergency*
Apr
14
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 14 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
15
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 15 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
16
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 16 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
17
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 17 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club