Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watch for Spring Scams

A few warm days and I am pulling out the screwdrivers and paintbrushes! Depending on the outside temperature. I am also anxious to get back to yard work. While I am able to do many small household chores myself, I know my limitations and call in the professionals when a job goes beyond my capabilities. Spring seems to be a time when many scammers come out of the woodwork. There was a recent scam reported on one of the Chattanooga news channels. A team of men rode through neighborhoods asking if they could repair damaged driveways. Their work was extremely inadequate and they workers were nowhere to be found when victims tried to complain about the quality of the work. Unfortunately these scammers seem to focus on the elderly in many cases. According to Carolyn L. Bird, Family and Resource Management Specialist for North Carolina State University, a paving scam press release appeared 2/25/2011 from Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Raleigh: A Forsyth County man is under court order to stop performing driveway paving and gravel work, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“Paving scams often pop up in different parts of the state, change company names frequently and disappear when consumers catch on to their con,” Cooper said. “By being vigilant and not giving into high-pressure tactics, homeowners can protect their money and help us catch the scammers.”
To check out a home repair company or file a complaint against one, North Carolina consumers can call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within state. Consumers can also file a complaint online.
Contact: Jennifer Canada, (919) 716-6413
Even though we are not in the Raleigh area, we are not protected against unethical contractors in our area. Many times these people are from other places and are passing through our area with their services. If you are in need of a professional, ask someone who has lived in the area for a number of years. They may have had similar work done or know someone else who has paid to have work done for them. Local contractors are less likely to be scammers since they live in the area and cannot afford bad references. However, there could be differences in the quality and price of services rendered, even in local communities. Once again, asking several people for local recommendations will probably give you names you can trust. There is still the possibility that you might not be satisfied with the results. I recently purchased a used riding lawnmower. I felt that I had taken the necessary precautions. The mower made exactly one loop around my yard before smoke poured out from the engine. Bottom line, be extremely cautious, and do your homework before writing the check!

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Less is Best at Moog!

For the next eight weeks I will be doing a program for Moog employees called “Less is Best!” The central theme is to cook using less energy, less time and less money. The classes at Moog on Less is Best are held during the employee lunch period. Most of us have such a busy schedule that spending less time in the kitchen preparing meals is important to us. Shortcuts in the kitchen are also important as I try to convince people to prepare and eat more of their meals at home. Eating at home can save you money. It also allows the family to spend more quality time together. Most busy moms are looking for suggestions that will help them to prepare nutritious food for their family in the short amount of time that they have to devote to meal preparation. I will feature a different recipe each week using a small appliance. Small appliances can mean substantial savings for the average consumer. During the first class a food processor was used to make Fusilli with Spicy Pesto. According to Duke Energy, a 400-watt food processor can be used for five minutes once a week for about one cent for the month. Compare this to your electric water heater that costs about $21.32 per month for general use. Of course the water heater and clothes dryer are two of the biggest energy users. I was somewhat surprised to learn that my dehumidifier costs a whopping $23.62 A month to remove the moisture from my basement. Of course that is a dehumidifier that runs constantly. We could all benefit from using a little more energy conservation in our homes. I am sure that you have used the same statements on your children that your parents used with you. “Close that door, we’re not cooling (or heating) the outdoors!” How about this one, “Turn out that light when you leave the room,” and the list could go on. Their admonishments are still true today. We, too, need to remind everyone about the importance of closing the doors and turning out the lights. Another important tip to remember about using small appliances: store them in an area that makes them easily accessible. If I have to unpack the appliance from its box that is on the top shelf I probably will not use it very often. While we probably do not want to clutter our counter space, try to find the small appliance a home in the area where you are most likely to be using it. The small appliances are a great way to save you time and money.

Teresa Wiley
FCS Agent

Tatting and Chatting With Hazel Harper

I love getting phone calls from people in the county. I recently talked with Hazel Harper. She wanted to talk with me about tatting. This interesting woman will celebrate her 100th birthday October 11th this year. She excitedly told me, “This is my centennial year!” To me, that is truly worth celebrating!

During our conversation, not only did I learn about her tatting skills, but she also told me that she is able to recite all fifty states and their capitals. How many of us can do that at any age? I, too, was required to learn the state capitals when I was in the fifth grade. However, I am only able to retrieve a fraction of those capitals. Why are some people able to do so well as they age into their golden years and still be vibrant, interesting people? Of course genetics will play a large role in aging. However, I also believe that our future health depends on how well we take care of ourselves long before old age. As I would imagine, Hazel was an active youngster who played outside most of the time she was not in school or doing household chores. “We played outside all the time. We got a few toys at Christmas but we made most of our toys.” When I asked Hazel about other physical activity, she related that people walked all the time. “We walked to church and school- about a two-mile trip, one-way.” I imagine that fast food was not part of her young life. “We raised all that we ate on the farm where I grew up in Boiling Springs. “ Hazel was born in Ohio and later moved to Cherokee County with her family. She married in 1930. She and her husband lived many years in Ohio where he worked with International Harvester until he retired. At that time they moved back to Boiling Springs where she currently resides. She lives alone except for the nights when Donna Allen keeps her company. They spend many evenings playing Scrabble. With such a good foundation, she probably had the essentials for living a long life. As she became an adult, additional healthy decisions probably came into effect. Choosing not to smoke or drink alcoholic beverages probably added more years to her life. She stated that there were whiskey stills abundant in the coves in the area but she and her family did not partake. As simple as it sounds, making sure that she was still able to recite all fifty states and their capitals has certainly kept the cobwebs cleared in her mind. If you were to ask her the secret to long life, her answer is, “Clean living!”