Rebate Program Extends Deadline July 16, 2018
The filing deadline for eligible Pennsylvanians to apply for the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program has been extended to Monday, Dec. 31. Every year, thousands of Pennsylvanians who qualify for assistance through this program never apply. Meanwhile, these funds can go a long way in easing the burden of property taxes for those in need.
The rebate program, funded by the Pennsylvania State Lottery, has helped seniors and adults with disabilities receive $6.1 billion in Property Tax and Rent relief since its inception in 1971. The deadline extension will allow people more time to apply.
Recently, the rebate program was updated with the passage of Act 156 by the state legislature. Income eligibility guidelines for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program have changed, so that income increases due solely to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) no longer disqualify claimants from receiving rebates.
In addition, seniors are reminded to be wary of mailings and unsolicited offers that attempt to charge a fee for information about and assistance in applying for Pennsylvania's Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program. Residents are not required to pay a fee to apply for the program. They can apply directly with the government for free. Free applications and assistance are readily available at hundreds of locations throughout the state.
The Pennsylvania Property Tax and Rent Rebate Program provides property tax relief for seniors age 65 and older, widows and widowers over 50 years old, and adults age 18 and up with disabilities. The funds are available for households that make up to $35,000 per year. Applicants may also exempt half of their Social Security when calculating their total income. Supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners can boost rebates to $975.
This vital program provides a maximum rebate to eligible applicants of up to $650 for renters. The income limit for renters is $15,000.
For complete eligibility guidelines, readers may visit www.revenue.pa.gov. Applicants should be prepared to provide all the necessary income, property tax, or rental information required to process claims quickly and accurately. Claimants who already applied for their rebates may check the status of claims online at the above website or by calling 888-PATAXES.
Tips Posted For Preventing Identity Theft Tips July 16, 2018
Identity theft is a serious concern that affects millions of people. The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy and Research, found that 15.4 million consumers in the United States were affected by identity theft of some form in 2016. In those instances, $16 billion was stolen. Protecting one's identity is not as complicated as it may seem, and it can safeguard consumers against fraud and theft.
People should password protect all smartphones and other digital devices. Many are used to transmit sensitive information and may store passwords and other data that connects to financial institutions.
People should never click on links in unsolicited emails. Such links may contain malware or computer viruses.
People should not provide Social Security numbers, birth dates, or other personal information to unsolicited callers, no matter how official they may sound.
The same password or PIN should not be used on multiple sites. Passwords should vary, and a combination of numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters should be used to make it more difficult for thieves to decode.
People should not keep all credit cards or important identification cards in a wallet at all times. Private records and statements should be shredded or destroyed.
People should monitor their credit report. Consumers can receive a free credit report from the three major credit agencies free of charge each year. Any inconsistencies should be addressed and reported promptly.
New Cancer Screening Guidelines Posted July 16, 2018
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has released new recommendations for colorectal cancer screening guidelines, including the age screenings should begin for colorectal cancer. Previously, the screening age for a person at average risk was 50. The new guidelines have reduced that age to 45.
By lowering the screening age, the goal is to detect colorectal cancer earlier in patients who are at an increased risk for the disease. Even with advances in detection and treatment, colorectal cancer is the number one abdominal malignancy that affects both men and women. Roughly 1 in 20 Americans will develop this cancer, and getting a colonoscopy can help in the detection and treatment of it.
Last year, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that colon cancer rates increased from 1 percent to 2.4 percent annually since the mid-1980s among adults ages 20 to 39. For the 39 years encompassed in the study, rectal cancer rates grew 3.2 percent annually for adults ages 20 to 39.
Colon and rectal cancer have, historically, affected older men and women. But the most recent research shows an increase in the number of adults in their 20s and 30s who are being diagnosed with these cancers, particularly rectal cancer.
Individuals already at an increased risk for colorectal cancer as a result of their lifestyle or family history may need to begin screenings at an earlier age. Individuals should talk to their health care provider about risk factors and what age they should begin screenings.
People who are at high or increased risk for colorectal cancer can include those with a family or personal history of colon or rectal cancer or colorectal polyps; a family or personal history of other cancers, including ovarian, uterine, gastric, and breast; a history of inflammatory bowel disease; and a personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area as a result of cancer treatment.
The ACS' new guidelines also issue recommendations about colorectal cancer screening methods. While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for both the detection and treatment of colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps, other options are available.
In its new guidelines, the ACS recommends choosing from six different types of screening tests. Screenings include a highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test, a highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test, multi-targeted stool DNA tests every three years, a colonoscopy every 10 years, a virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) every five years, and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.
These screening recommendations are for every patient, and it does not matter which method they choose. However, if a test is positive, people should make sure to follow up with their health care provider, as they will then require a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy can detect potentially cancerous polyps and lesions before they develop into cancer or a more progressive form of cancer.
If an individual notices any of the symptoms of colorectal cancer, regardless of their age or health status, they should call their health care provider. Symptoms include a change in bowel habits, like diarrhea or constipation; rectal bleeding; blood in the stool; abdominal pain or cramping; weakness and fatigue; and unintended weight loss. Timely treatment can affect the choice of treatment options and survival.
Charred Green Beans Recipe July 16, 2018
Vegetables are more versatile than people may know. Steaming or sauteing vegetables might be among the most popular ways to cook veggies, but grill masters know that it is not just main dishes that taste great when cooked over an open flame. As the following recipe for Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto from Karen Adler and Judith Fertig's "The Gardener and The Grill" (Running Press) can attest, grilled vegetables make for simple yet satisfying side dishes.
Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto (Serves 2 to 4)
1 1/2 lbs. slender green beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
Lemon Verbena Pesto
1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves (substitute fresh lemon balm leaves)
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts or English walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Fine kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 - Prepare a hot fire in the grill.
2 - Toss the beans with olive oil and place in a perforated grill basket or wok set on a baking sheet.
3 - For the pesto, combine the lemon verbena, garlic, cheese, and nuts in a food processor and pulse to puree. Slowly add the olive oil with the processor running until the mixture thickens and emulsifies, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days or it may be frozen for up to 3 months.
4 - Place the grill wok or basket directly over the fire and stir-grill, tossing the beans with wooden paddles or grill spatulas until crisp-tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the grilled beans to a large bowl and toss with about 1/4 cup of the pesto or to taste.
Crab Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes July 16, 2018
Preparing weeknight meals can be tricky, as busy women and men may want to save money and cook their own healthy foods, but have little time to do so consistently. But healthy, home-cooked meals need not take much time to prepare. The low-calorie recipe for Crab Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes from "Weightwatchers: Cook It Fast" (St. Martin's Griffin) can be whipped up in 20 minutes, making it an ideal meal for time-strapped women and men who want homemade meals without all the work that goes into more complex recipes.
Crab Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes (Serves 2)
1/3 cup orzo
2 large tomatoes
1 cup crabmeat, picked over for pieces of shell
1/3 cup chopped black or green olives
2 tablespoons crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt, if desired. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again.
2. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice off tops of tomatoes; reserve tops. Using spoon, carefully scoop out seeds and pulp and reserve for another use.
3. Gently toss together crabmeat, olives, feta, dill, vinegar, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Spoon crabmeat mixture evenly into tomato shells and cover with reserved tomato tops.
Cook's note: Scoop the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes into a storage container. Cover and freeze up to 4 months and toss them into a soup or stew.
Fresh Paint Days Slated July 16, 2018
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will accept applications for their 2018 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania, a program designed to provide community groups with paint and painting supplies enabling them to renew a community structure in need into something beautiful through the application of fresh paint. This event is held in partnership with support from BEHR paint and The Home Depot.
Eight grants of up to 20 gallons of exterior paint and a gift card for painting supplies will be awarded to tax-exempt groups within the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Groups will have 30 days to complete their projects, from Saturday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Sept. 30.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will select the eight winning projects from among applications submitted. Selected grantees must meet several requirements to be considered - only one building per application, proof of liability insurance, signed permission to paint from the building owner and two before photos of the intended project. Selected grantees must also agree to select a color from the Behr paint line and provide a final report with during and after photos.
Applications must be received by Tuesday, July 31, and grants will be awarded in early August. For more information or to download the application, readers may visit www.keeppabeautiful.org/grants-awards/fresh-paint-days/. Questions can be answered by contacting Michelle Dunn at 877-772-3673, ext. 113, or email@example.com.
The Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania grant is available to any tax-exempt group within the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Private property owners or individual applicants cannot apply. To learn more about Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, readers may visit www.keeppabeautiful.org.
Organization Welcomes Dubas July 16, 2018
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful announced the new hire of Rob Dubas, who joined the team as a program coordinator. Dubas will help facilitate the Illegal Dump Free PA initiative across the state, working with local governments, communities, and enforcement agencies to identify and hold accountable individuals and businesses that choose to dump their trash illegally. IllegalDumpFreePA.org is an innovative program launched in 2015 that provides surveillance camera loans, training, and support to Pennsylvania municipalities and community groups.
After working in banking for almost a decade, Dubas earned a Master of Environmental Science and Management from Duquesne University. He decided to change careers to one that made protecting the environment a priority after having spent many hours in the woods volunteering with Pittsburgh-area trail groups, mountain biking, running, and hiking. As part of his studies, he also had internships with an area land trust and a long-term water-quality research project.
The Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Surveillance Camera Loan Program provides grant recipients with three surveillance cameras to capture evidence of illegal dumping at an active dumpsite and technical assistance with installation. To learn more about the program, readers may visit www.illegaldumpfreepa.org or contact Dubas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-836-4121, ext. 107.
School Supply Drive To Benefit Local Students July 13, 2018
Almost as quickly as the school year ends, summer always seems to race to a finish, and the preparations for a new school year begin. To help ensure that children in Columbia Borough are ready, Columbia Life Network is once again hosting its annual school supply drive to collect items for students of the Columbia Borough School District and Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School.
Items requested include new backpacks, pencils, pens, crayons, rulers, scissors, binders, notebooks, glue sticks, and more. Several opportunities for the community to donate school supplies to the effort are planned. The first will be at several local retail stores on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Once the list of locations is finalized, it will be posted at www.facebook.com/columbialifenetwork/.
Another opportunity to drop off donations will be at the popular "Jail 'N' Bail" event during the Columbia Borough Police Department's National Night Out from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Glatfelter Field, 1249 Lancaster Ave., Columbia. Throughout the evening, donors will receive tickets that can be used to help their favorite local celebrity get out of the makeshift "jail." Celebrities will include teachers and administrators from Columbia Borough School District and Our Lady of the Angels, Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz, Columbia Borough Police Chief Jack Brommer, Ray McCarty of the Columbia Boys Athletic Association, and Columbia Public Library staff members.
School supplies may also be dropped off at Columbia Life Network, 336 Locust St., Columbia, between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon on Mondays through Fridays. Monetary donations are also accepted by Columbia Life Network and will be used to purchase other supplies that are needed throughout the school year.
Jamie Widener, who has been serving as the executive director of Columbia Life Network since November 2017, said that the costs of school supplies continue to rise each year and having assistance can provide a tremendous amount of savings for families. The school supplies are divvied up and donated to each of the schools in Columbia and then distributed to students according to need.
Widener said that financial donations are also crucial for helping teachers and families out during the midpoint of the school year - typically after the holiday break - with restocking items. Columbia Life Network reaches out to the schools at that time to see what they need. "A lot of time they're asking for simple things like tissues, because at that point it's flu season," Widener noted.
Columbia Life Network exists to offer a hand up to residents in need in the Columbia Borough and surrounding areas by connecting them with available resources and facilitating efforts to develop services to answer needs within the local community.
As of this summer, Columbia Life Network has teamed up with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Community Action Partnership, and several other groups and businesses to bring Fresh Express to the area. Income eligible individuals and families are now able to pick up free fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, and eggs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Friday of each month (excluding November) at Park Elementary School, 50 S. Sixth St., Columbia. Volunteers to support the Fresh Express program are desperately needed, Widener noted. To register for the program or to sign up to volunteer, readers may contact Widener at email@example.com or 717-684-8094.
Writing Contest Winners Posted July 12, 2018
Manada Conservancy, Dauphin County's land trust, recently held a "Backyard Habitat" themed writing contest. The two winners were "Grandmother's Garden" by Laura Breidenstine and "Reverie" by Nancy Avolese.
The contest was judged by a panel of three judges, all of whom are local environmental educators or agency employees.
For more information, readers may visit www.manada.org.
Johnson Attends Language Program July 12, 2018
Seve Johnson of Willow Street is among the 105 students attending the Summer Language Institute (SLI) at the University of North Georgia (UNG). This summer's SLI started on June 18 and will continue through Sunday, July 29.
During the six-week, intensive, immersive program, students learn one year's worth of a language, allowing them to earn eight credit hours upon successful completion of the program. Students may learn Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Russian.
Students live in residence halls on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and spend most of the day in the classroom instead of participating in three to five hours of classroom instruction and a lab, as they may in a traditional course. Even weekends are not completely free. For some, the program is a means to satisfy core curriculum requirements, but for others it represents the first step to traveling the world studying multiple languages.
Students must be accepted to UNG, either as dual-enrollment students, incoming freshmen, transfer students, or cadets. At the end of the six-week program, students are tested on their new language skills by an internet-delivered test.
U.S., Lithuanian Soldiers Meet July 12, 2018
Soldiers assigned to Fort Indiantown Gap range control hosted Lithuanian range experts in Pennsylvania from June 7 to 15 to discuss sustainable range operations and training site management. Sustainable ranges are those that maximize training availability and accessibility of ranges during normal and deployment surges while not over-taxing resources.
The contingent of Lithuanian soldiers visited many of the ranges at Fort Indiantown Gap and met with Fort Indiantown Gap staff members from range operations, billeting, environmental, engineers and public affairs.
The Lithuanian military has multiple range complexes and training areas that are used for both Lithuanian armed forces and NATO allies like Italy. Similarities between the U.S. and Lithuania include incorporating community activities. Installations in Lithuania are often opened to truffle gatherers, just as Fort Indiantown Gap is opened to outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
The visit was part of the Pennsylvania National Guard's state partnership program that celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The state partnership program evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component soldiers and airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations in 1993. The Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuania were among the first three pairings.
Additional exchanges are planned for the future, including a contingent of the 201st rapid engineer deployable heavy operational repair squadron engineers, 193rd Special Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard traveling to a range complex in Lithuania later this year.
Fort Indiantown Gap is run by members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Bike Shop Will Air Tour De France July 11, 2018
The Common Wheel will air the Tour de France bicycle race during open hours in July at the bicycle shop, 324 N. Queen St., Lancaster. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Tuesdays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The shop has two flat panel displays and a 12-person counter with stools.
Free bagels and coffee will be served on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Race fans are also welcome to bring their own food and beverages.
The Tour de France is an annual professional bicycle race. It began on July 7 in Noirmoutier, France, and will end on Sunday, July 29, in Paris. The 2,069-mile stage race attracts the sport's top riders.
The Common Wheel is a bike shop with a community center at 701 E. King St. and a bicycle store on North Queen Street. In addition to providing the community with bicycle sales and service, the Common Wheel offers multiple programs that help to make cycling accessible to all people. The Common Wheel Community Center accepts donations of quality used youth and adult bicycles that volunteers refurbish for resale and donation.
For more information, readers may visit www.thecommonwheel.com.
Free Yoga Class Posted July 11, 2018
On My Mat will present Yoga in the Square on Saturday, July 21, from 9 to 10 a.m. in the Fulton Bank quadrant of Penn Square. People of all ages and levels of experience may participate. Attendees should bring their own mats.
The class is free. For more information, readers may visit www.onmymat.org.
Student-Athletes Earn Recognition July 11, 2018
Three student-athletes at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology are recipients of national academic awards from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The students are David Thompson, Noah Tarr, and Alexander Prudhomme.
Thompson, a member of the Class of 2019 and the cross country team, was named to the NJCAA All-Academic First Team with a 4.0 grade point average (GPA). Thompson, a Warwick High School graduate, is studying electro-mechanical technology.
Tarr, a member of the Class of 2019 and the wrestling team, was named to the NJCAA All-Academic Second team with a 3.86 GPA. The Blairsville native is in the plumbing technology program. As a freshman, Tarr qualified for the national tournament after placing second in the Eastern District II tournament at 157 lbs.
Prudhomme, a member of the Class of 2018 and the track and field team, was named to the NJCAA All-Academic Third Team with a GPA of 3.67 in earning a certificate in electrical construction and maintenance. Prudhomme is a graduate of Lancaster Catholic High School.
To learn more about Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, readers may visit www.stevenscollege.edu.
Farmers Market Vouchers Available July 11, 2018
To ensure that families with nutritional needs have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the Community Action Partnership has announced that the agency's WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) locations will distribute farmers market vouchers to WIC customers through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which helps ensure good health for mothers and children and support both community farmers markets and Pennsylvania farmers.
FMNP provides qualifying WIC customers with $20 in vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets through Friday, Nov. 30. Pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women and children ages 1 to 5 are eligible.
WIC nutrition staff distribute the vouchers to WIC customers along with nutrition education emphasizing the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and a list of participating farmers markets in the area. The FMNP is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Across the commonwealth, more than 1,000 farmers benefit from the program.
More information about WIC is available by calling 717-509-3686 or visiting www.caplanc.org.
RRTA Proposes Route Changes July 11, 2018
Route and schedule changes have been proposed for The Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA). Changes will be implemented on Tuesday, Sept. 4. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at RRTA's Operations Center, 45 Erick Road, Lancaster, to hear comments on the proposed route and schedule changes.
The route-by-route description of the proposed changes include Route 1/Park City A; Route 3/Park City C; Route 11/Ephrata; Route 12/New Holland; Route 19/Manheim; Route 20/Greenfield; and Route 21/Gap. Copies of the route-by-route description of the proposed full schedules can be obtained from RRTA by calling 717-397-4246.
If any person is unable to attend the public hearing, their comments may be sent to RRTA at firstname.lastname@example.org or at RRTA Service Change Hearing, 45 Erick Road, Lancaster, PA 17601. For more information about RRTA's route and schedule changes, readers may call the previously mentioned number.
Master Watershed Stewards Plan Workshop July 11, 2018
Penn State Master Watershed Stewards will hold a Rain Barrel Workshop at the York County Annex Building, 112 Pleasant Acres Road, York, on Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. After a short program about stormwater and rain barrels, participants will make rain barrels to install at home. All materials will be provided. The barrels are recycled food-grade barrels.
Participants may choose to paint their rain barrels after the workshop. Painting is not included in the workshop. After installing the rain barrels, participants may help save water by using the collected water to water plants and gardens.
There is a fee per rain barrel. Participants must preregister by visiting http://extension.psu.edu/york; clicking on See All beside Upcoming Workshops and Conference; clicking on Trees, Lawns, and Landscaping; and locating the event in the list.
For more information, readers may contact Jodi Sulpizio, Master Watershed Steward coordinator at 717-840-7408 or email@example.com. More information about the Master Watershed Steward Program can also be found at the aforementioned website.
Area Partners Receive Funds July 11, 2018
The Cultural Alliance of York County recently announced the allocation of $597,780 to be distributed to its eight partner agencies in 2018. These dollars were raised in the 18th annual "Bringing Arts and Culture to Life" campaign that funds eight partner agencies and the Creative Impact Awards that bring arts, history, and culture to the people of York County.
The funds they receive are unrestricted funds and are based on the scores of an all-volunteer review panel made up of contributors. Every year, the Allocations Panel reviews each partner and scores its organizational and fiscal strength, leadership, and support of the cultural sector. As a result, the agencies receive constructive suggestions and recommendations as well as the unrestricted cash.
The funding allocated to each partner includes Appell Center for the Performing Arts, $286,089; Creative York, $45,278; Greater York Dance, $10,777; York Art Association, $7,033; York County History Center, $209,316; York Junior Symphony Orchestra, $7,813; York Symphony Orchestra, $27,047; and York Youth Symphony Orchestra, $4,427.
For more information, readers may call the Cultural Alliance at 717-812-9255 or visit www.culturalyork.org.