Attention current and emerging leaders of Christian County! The Christian County LEADership program is now accepting applicantions. The 2007 class will begin in January, and is designed to enhance the social and economic well being of Christian County by developing an active group of effective leaders.
The goals of the program are to enhance the leadership skills of participants to improve Christian County's future; familiarize participants with the community's opportunities, needs, problems, and resources; identify and analyze current economic, political and social forces affecting the county's future; establish effective peer relationships among participants; provide a common ground for communications between participants and community leaders; and to educate participants on how to move people and ideas to action.
Sessions will be held each week beginning on January 16 and ending on May 8, 2007 from 1:00–5:00 p.m. with the exceptions of January 16 and March 8, 2007 which will be all day sessions.
Topics to be covered include team building and personal leadership dynamics; history and economic development; government and education; social service and health care resources; and effective meeting management and communication skills.
Class size will be limited to 30 participants and is open to anyone interested in the future of Christian County. Tuition for the program is $199 and includes a one day orientation meeting at Allerton Park near Monticello, IL, class materials and supplies, weekly refreshments and guest speakers. Applications are available by contacting the Greater Taylorville Chamber of Commerce at 824-4919, the University of Illinois Extension in Christian County at 287-7246, or online at http://christian.extension.uiuc.edu
The application deadline is January 8, 2007.
University of Illinois Extension has scheduled its popular Herb Day 2007 for Saturday, January 20, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center, 1001 Killarney St., Urbana, IL (217) 328-7900.
Herbal experts from around the world will present five educational sessions to inspire herb gardening and use in the coming year.
Caroline Holmes, noted garden author, speaker and garden designer from Bury St. Edmunds, England, will give two talks. Her morning presentation is entitled "A Zest for Herbs," which includes a section on her garden designs at Alnwick. In the afternoon, she will follow up with "Herbs from Monet's Garden at Giverney," with thoughts about both the artistic and culinary approach to herbs, along with gorgeous slides of the artist's restored gardens.
There will be a retail area again this year, selling a broad spectrum of herb, spice, and gardening products. Get a jump-start on the 2007 gardening season by shopping now. Morning coffee, tea, and rolls will be available near the exhibit area, and an herb-themed lunch buffet will be served in the Atrium. The capacity of the lecture room has been slightly expanded to 270, but be sure to send in your reservations early to avoid disappointment, since this expanded space again sold out last year.
Attendees may register and reserve lunch at any time through January 12, as long as space remains available. Registrations will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the available 270 spaces are filled, any additional registrations will be returned. On-site registration will only be available if all 270 seats are not filled by pre-registration. On-site registration does not include lunch. It has been five years since any on-site registration space has been available.
Cost of registration, including lunch, is only $49 per person. This includes seating in the lectures, coffee, tea, and rolls during morning registration, an herbal theme lunch buffet, and access to the retail area. A vegan plate is available, but only if specified on the registration form. Reservations must be received by January 12, 2007, to guarantee lunch.
Those interested in attending should mail checks, payable to the University of Illinois, to: Herb Day 2007, Attn: Carol Preston, S-406 Turner Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801.
For more information, call (217)333-7738 and mention Herb Day 2007. Sorry, credit card orders cannot be accepted, and cancellations will not be refunded. Registrations may be transferred to another individual, as long as Carol Preston is notified of the name change by January 12.
No confirmation of registration will be sent. To confirm receipt of registration, please phone (217) 333-7738 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans are great tools for accumulating money for retirement. But what are the rules for getting your money out of them? University of Illinois Extension Educator Karen Chan will be addressing these questions in Who Gets the Money?, a state-wide Extension event on Thursday, January 11, 2007 from 10:00–to 11:30 a.m.
"Retirement accounts are powerful tools. But the rules can be confusing. Many people make simple mistakes," says Chan, who is also a Certified Financial PlannerTM. "Someone might fail to start taking annual distributions at the right time, and face stiff penalties. Mistakes when rolling over money from one financial institution or employer to another could cause taxes to be withheld. Understanding a few of the rules can help you make the best decisions," she added.
The workshop, Who Gets the Money?, will explain the various rules for taking distributions from tax-deferred retirement savings plans for those younger than 591/2 and 701/2, and those who have reached the important age of 701/2. Workshop participants will learn how distributions are taxed and how to avoid additional penalties. Chan will also give tips on rolling over money from one account to another, even if you're already taking annual distributions. She will explain what happens to the money when you're gone and what rules apply if you inherit your spouse's IRA.
Chan will teach you how to calculate minimum required distributions once you reach age 701/2, and to determine exactly when you must take your first distribution.
To register, contact the University of Illinois Extension Christian County at 287-7246 to reserve your space for this program. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.
University of Illinois Extension and Christian County Soil & Water Conservation District will sponsor Agronomy Day 2007 on Friday, January 19th starting at 7:30 a.m. at the U of I Extension office in Taylorville. The program will highlight relevant agronomic research topics for 2007 and serve as the Christian County Soil Savers annual meeting. The program is free and open to the general public. Christian County Soil Savers renewing their annual membership are invited to participate in the breakfast. Please register for this program no later than Friday, January 12th by calling Sue Davis at 287-1315 ext. 3 or Gary Letterly at 287-7246. Soil Saver membership information will be available during registration or by contacting the Soil & Water Conservation District office at 287-1315, ext. 3.
·7:30 a.m.–Breakfast & Soil Savers Annual Meeting
·8:15–10:00 a.m.–Agronomy Day Program (including crop pest update, N-rates for Illinois, and alternative crop research)
If you have diabetes, or live with someone who has diabetes, choosing and preparing foods can be a real challenge. Learn how to cook foods that are low in sugar, fat, and sodium at the "Dining With Diabetes" cooking classes sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.
"Those attending will learn how to cook with artificial sweeteners, low-fat products, herbs and spices," explains Jananne Finck, nutrition educator with the U of I Extension in Springfield. "We'll have cooking demonstrations and taste several different recipes."
Everyone will get recipes to help them plan healthy meals at home," adds Linda Smith, County Extension Director for Christian County.
"Dining With Diabetes" includes three sessions: January 31, February 7 & 14, 2007 from 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the University of Illinois Extension Christian County office, located at 1120 N. Webster St. in Taylorville. (There is a now date of February 28 in case of bad weather.)
The $15 registration fee includes class materials, recipe booklets and taste-testing. Checks should be made payable to University of Illinois Extension Christian County. Space is limited and advance registration is required.
For more details about this program or if you need reasonable accommodations to participate in this program, please contact the Christian County Extension office by calling 287-7246.
University of Illinois Extension is once again presenting the Four Seasons Gardening program.
The first session of the winter series is titled Emerald Ash Borer and Other Invasive Species, and Phil Nixon, U of I Extension educator will present the program. The program will be offered on February 13 at 1:00 p.m. and February 15 at 7:00 p.m.
The second session of the winter series continues on February 27 at 1:00 p.m. and March 1 at 7:00 p.m. with a session on Spring Lawn Care. David Robson, U of I Extension Horticulture educator, will present the program via teleconference.
The winter series concludes with a session on Aggressive Thugs in the Flower Garden. The program will be held on March 13 at 1 p.m. and March 15 at 7:00 p.m., and will be presented by Martha Smith, U of I Extension horticulture educator.
The Four Seasons Gardening programs are held at the University of Illinois Extension Christian County office, located at 1120 N. Webster St., in Taylorville, IL.
The cost for each session is $1 and advance required by the Friday before each session. Phone the U of I Extension Christian County office at 287-7246 or email email@example.com for more details.
In response to the recent ice storm that hit central Illinois, we've added the following links to our website this month. The safety of food may be a problem following any storm where electricity has been interrupted for an extended period of time. The following information is intended to help you judge the safety of your food after a power outage. Safe Food Handling During Power Outages can be found at http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/disaster/facts/food.html
Information on the Repair and Replacement of Storm Damaged Trees can be located at http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/disaster/facts/edentrees.html If you have storm-damaged trees, this site will help you work through the decisions of what to do and how much can be done before calling in an expert.
Beginning January 1, 2007, a new state law entitled "Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector Act" goes into effect requiring single family and multiple family residences, with few exceptions, to have at least one approved and operating carbon monoxide alarm within 15 feet of each bedroom.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced during incomplete combustion of fuels -for example, natural gas, LP gas, kerosene, oil, wood, and charcoal. The gas is lethal to humans if it builds up in the home.
The law states it is the responsibility of the owner of the structure to supply and install all required alarms, along with written instructions for alarm testing and maintenance. In the case of rental property, it is the responsibility of the tenant to test and to provide general maintenance of the alarm(s), including battery replacement, and to notify the owner of any defects in writing that the tenant cannot correct.
Carbon monoxide alarms required under the Act may be battery powered, plug-in with battery back-up, or AC hard wired with battery back-up.
Failure to comply with the Act can result in conviction of a Class B misdemeanor; and tampering with an alarm is a Class A misdemeanor for a first conviction or a Class 4 felony for subsequent offenses. Carbon monoxide alarms are widely available in hardware and home improvement stores. Prices start at about $20.
That magic age of 62! You're counting the months or years until you can begin collecting Social Security. But you could wait until you are 65, 66, even 70. If you wait, you'll get a larger monthly check. Making the wrong choice could cost you money.
First, let's review the basics. Full retirement age is the age at which you would receive the normal benefit, the amount calculated by Social Security's basic formula. Full retirement used to be 65, but it is gradually increasing. It will reach age 67 for those born in 1960 or later. You can begin receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 (60 for widows). For each month you delay collecting, you will get a larger benefit, up to the age of 70.
Knowing a few additional rules will help you avoid costly mistakes.
Filing for Social Security before full retirement age AND continuing to work could backfire. If you earn more than $12,480 (for 2006, indexed annually), your Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over the $12,480 limit. Different earning limits apply in the year you reach full retirement age. In years after you reach full retirement age, your earned income has no impact on your Social Security benefits.
Un-earned income such as interest, distributions from IRAs, and profits from the sale of stock never affect Social Security benefits. But they may cause part of your benefit to be taxed. This is true for income from any source. Individual tax filers with "combined income" between $25,000 and $34,000 will pay income tax on 50% of their Social Security benefits. If their combined income is above $34,000, up to 85% of Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
Joint filers may have to pay taxes on 50% of benefits if they have a "combined income" that is between $32,000 and $44,000. For combined incomes is over $44,000, up to 85% of Social Security benefits are subject to income tax.
"Combined income" includes all earned income, all interest you earned even if it's exempt from federal income tax, investment income, distributions from regular IRAs and most employer retirement plans, and 1/2 of your Social Security benefits. In tax terms, it's your adjusted gross income plus nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits.
Some retirees have decided to begin taking distributions from their IRAs and retirement plans before the age of 70-1/2 when they are required to start. If they waited until 70-1/2, the larger balances in their accounts would result in larger annual distributions and more of their Social Security benefits being subject to tax. By taking distributions earlier (but not before age 59-1/2 when a 10% penalty would probably apply), they hope to smooth out their income and keep it below the thresholds that would cause 50 or 85% of their benefits to be taxed.
"Bunching" your income is a strategy that might reduce or avoid tax on Social Security benefits in alternate years. By structuring your income to have more in one year and less the next year, you might only pay tax on Social Security benefits every other year, instead of every year. However, bunching income could also push you into a higher tax bracket in those years.
Check to see how much additional income you could have before hitting the next tax bracket. Or, check with a tax planner to determine whether this strategy would work for you.
You can get more information to help you make the right choice for you by going to the Plan Well, Retire Well: Your how-to-guide at www.RetireWell.uiuc.edu.