Area Tidbits

Great gifts for seniors

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Every holiday shopper ends up with at least one loved one on their shopping list who they can't seem to find anything for. Some people seem to have it all, while others may be less than forthcoming with regard to items they may need or want.

Many seniors tend to fall into the latter category. Shopping for holiday gifts for seniors can be difficult if shoppers don't know what seniors want. But the following are a handful of gift ideas that might make this holiday season that much more special for seniors.

Books
A 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of adults age 65 and over acknowledged reading at least one book in the previous 12 months. That makes books a good bet for shoppers who don't know what to get their 65-and-over loved ones this holiday season. But shoppers might want to opt for more traditional print books rather than e-books, as the survey found that only 15 percent of readers age 65 and over had read an e-book in the previous 12 months.

Gym membership
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, more than 80 percent of adults do not meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. That can be especially troubling for seniors, who are at greater risk for osteoporosis, a medical condition in which age-related tissue loss contributes to brittle, fragile bones. Physical activity, including muscle-strengthening activities like weight training, can help combat osteoporosis. Family members stuck on what to get aging loved ones may want to consider gifting a membership to a local gym. Many gyms offer heavily discounted memberships to seniors, and such gyms may even offer senior fitness classes at no additional cost.

Travel gifts
Many retirees love to travel, but not every senior has the means to take off for parts unknown. A 2013 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® found that 25 percent of retirees admitted they wished they would have saved more for retirement travel. Holiday shoppers can light up seniors' smiles by gifting travel gifts this holiday season. One idea is to transfer airline miles to an elderly loved one so he or she can get a free or discounted flight. If that's not a possibility, some new luggage or a Global Hotel Card™ sponsored by Orbitz®, a gift card that can be redeemed at 70,000 hotels across the globe, is sure to please.

Family time
Shoppers who are especially stuck on what to get seniors for Christmas can just resolve to spend more time with their elderly loved ones. Many seniors genuinely have everything they need, and such men and women may only want to spend more time with their children and grandchildren. Make a New Year's resolution to spend more time with the special seniors in your life if the perfect gift is eluding you.

 

The Grand Opera House presents a Christmas show for grownups

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The Grand Opera House Presents The Santaland Diaries
By David Sedaris, Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello

Performances are scheduled for 8:00 PM Thursday, December 22, Friday December 23, and Sunday, December 25. All Tickets are $10.

Based on the true chronicles of David Sedaris' experience as Crumpet the Elf in Macy's Santaland display, this cult classic riffs on a few of Sedaris' truly odd encounters with his fellow man during the height of the holiday crunch. From spitting Santas to parents willing to do anything to get the perfect picture, Sedaris leads the audience on a journey through the magical Santaland, making regular stops at the "Magic Window", the "Oh My God" corner and the "Magic Tree" that leads to Santa's house. He rewards the audience at each stop along the way with stories of the humorous, sometimes depraved, ways that people act during the holidays when they think no one is watching.

Take some time for yourself this holiday season and join us for a good laugh at your neighbor.

Local favorite Dan Haggerty will take on the role of Crumpet in this one-man show and Michelle Blanchard will direct.

Seating is limited to 100 per performance and the production will be presented "black box style" with the audience sitting on stage.

The Santaland Diaries is recommended for ages 14+ as it contains mature content and language, and the secret of Santa is exposed.

Tickets can be purchased at the Grand Opera House box office noon-4:00 p.m. Mon-Fri, by calling 563-588-1305, or by visiting www.thegrandoperahouse.com.

 

Alzheimer’s Community Education on Research

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The Alzheimer's Association is offering free community education on research and the hope for effective treatments for anyone with an interest in caring for people with Alzheimer's and related diseases at Mercy Medical Center, 250 Mercy Drive, 1st Floor Cafeteria Conference Room, on Friday, December 9th, 3:00-4:30 pm.

Alzheimer's Association, Greater Iowa Chapter, Senior Program Specialist Jerry Schroeder will present a historical tour of the research done since Dr. Alzheimer first had the memory robbing disease named after him in the early 20th Century and will explore the optimism for effective treatments soon.

According to Mr. Schroeder, "There are dozens of research projects going on all over the world and many of the studies are very promising. While it is true that we continue to be stymied in our search for effective treatments, we are very confident that soon we will be able to manage this brain crippling illness. This is a time for great hope and we are eager to share this good news with those impacted."

Advance registration is required by calling 1-800-272-3900. Or, to register online, visit www.alz.org, browse to Caregiver Center, Community Resource Finder, Alzheimer's Association Programs and Events. For more information contact Jerry Schroeder at 563-324-1022, ext. 8212, or at jschroeder@alz.org

About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support, and research. The Association's mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

 

UnityPoint Health® Finley Hospital Opens Second Urgent Care Location

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Earlier this year, UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital opened UnityPoint Clinic® Urgent Care - West, health care for on-the-go individuals with pressing health needs. The new model of health care was well received by the Dubuque community and now a second location is set to open on December 5. The second location at 1550 University Avenue will offer the same quality healthcare in a fast, comfortable and efficient environment to help heal patients and allow them to get back to their busy lives without much interruption.

"Our research showed the Tri-State area needed improved access to urgent care services and with our mission to improve the health of the people and the communities of the Tri-State area, it only made sense to offer this new service and fill the gap," said David Brandon, President and CEO of Finley Hospital. "UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Cares offer a seamless experience between our family medicine clinics, specialists and the hospital - ensuring individuals get the care they need, when they need it."

In addition to providing care in a fast, convenient setting, individuals can check wait times to determine which clinic fits into their schedule best. The clinic also offers complimentary refreshments, Wi-Fi and phone charging stations to help add to the relaxing environment in the comfortable waiting area.

UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - East will be open 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., Sunday through Saturday. UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - West located at 2255 JFK Road is open 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., 365 days per year including holidays. Both locations provide care for many conditions including allergies, cold and flu symptoms, earaches, fevers, minor burns or bruises, minor fractures or sprains, rash or poison ivy, sore throat, immunizations, skin complaints and urinary tract infections. 

While promising shorter waits, Urgent Care will still offer the high quality care that defines UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital.

 

Dubuque Receives Eleventh Consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award

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The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has announced that the City of Dubuque has received the GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the City's budget for the eleventh consecutive year. A Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation has been presented to City of Dubuque Budget Director Jennifer Larson and City of Dubuque Senior Budget Analyst Alexis Steger.

According to the GFOA, the award represents a significant achievement by the City and reflects the commitment of the City and City staff to meeting the highest principles of government budgeting.

In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well the entity's budget serves as:

• a policy document,

• a financial plan,

• an operations guide, and

• a communications device

Budget documents must be rated "proficient" in all four categories to receive the award. The City of Dubuque received "proficient" or higher ratings in all required criteria. The GFOA says award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving more than 18,000 government finance professionals throughout North America. The GFOA's Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.

 

Dubuque Museum of Art Opens Two New Exhibitions

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The Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA) has opened two exhibitions highlighting three artists with deep ties to Dubuque and Eastern Iowa.

Transmographic Arrangements: Paintings by Zane York opened in the Kris Mozena McNamer Gallery on November 18, 2016 and runs through February 5, 2017. Raised in Dubuque and now based in Brooklyn, New York, artist Zane York creates contemporary still-life paintings done in a realist style and influenced by the long history of Dutch art. Upon close inspection, York's detailed floral arrangements reveal insects convincingly arranged in lush, kaleidoscope bouquets. York attended the New York Academy of Art and will have an exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in New York City's Central Park in 2017.

Dialog Human: The Drawings of Priscilla Steele and Thomas C. Jackson opened in the Falb Family Gallery on November 19, 2016 and runs through February 5, 2017. This two-person exhibition explores drawing the human figure as the common ground for uniting the work of two established artists and creating an ongoing dialog.
Priscilla Steele was raised in New Jersey and earned both M.A and M.F.A degrees in printmaking from the University of Iowa. Steele currently lives in Marion, Iowa, where, along with her husband, she owns and operates the renowned Campbell Steele Gallery. Steele taught at Coe College for 18 years and maintains an active studio practice. The artist's works have been included in numerous juried, group and solo exhibitions, including at Gallery C in Dubuque, Coe College and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, and the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art in Cedar Falls.

Cedar Rapids artist Thomas C. Jackson was born in Rock Island, Illinois and studied at the University of Notre Dame. Since retiring from a successful marketing career in 2000, Jackson has pursued art full-time, focusing on photography, painting, and drawing. Jackson's works have been selected for numerous national juried and group exhibitions, including Watercolor USA 2016; the 2016 National Prize Show, presented by the Cambridge Art Association in Cambridge, MA; and the Black & White National Juried Art Show NYC, presented by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition.

All three artists will attend an opening reception, held in conjunction with the ongoing First Friday series, at DuMA on Friday, December 2, 2016 from 5-8 pm.

Jackson and Steele will also present a Gallery Talk at DuMA on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 1:30 pm.
Information about additional programs and events may be accessed at www.dbqart.com.

DuMA is located across from Washington Park in historic downtown Dubuque at 7th and Locust Streets.
Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M., Saturday & Sunday 1:00 P.M.-4:00 P.M. Daily Admission: $6 Adults, $5 Seniors, $3 College/University Students, free for kids every day, and free to all on Thursdays thanks to Prudential Financial. Website: www.dbqart.com

 

The Grand Opera House Presents the Dubuque City Youth Ballet’s Production of The Nutcracker Ballet

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The glorious music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is brought to life in this beautiful production. A highlight of the holiday season in Dubuque for decades, the Dubuque City Youth Ballet's production The Nutcracker Ballet is a must see for young and old alike.

You don't want to miss this holiday classic - perfect for the entire family!

Choreographed by Marina O'Rourke and Megan MacLeod, "The Nutcracker" will be on stage at 7:30 PM on December 10, 16, and 17 and at 2 PM on Sunday, December 11 and 18.

The Nutcracker Ballet is sponsored by Dubuque Bank and Trust, Dubuque OBGYN and Midwifery and Kane, Norby & Reddick P.C.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for those under 18 and may be purchased at the Grand Opera House Box Office, 135 W. 8th Street in Dubuque or by calling 563-588-1305, noon-4pm Monday through Friday. The Box Office is also open an hour before each performance. Tickets are also available online by visiting the Grand Opera House website at www.thegrandoperahouse.com.

 

Tis the season to ship smart

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The holiday season can be hectic, and thanks to that sometimes frenetic pace, it can be easy to put things on the back burner. While it's OK to put off some things until the holiday season has come and gone, shipping gifts to loved ones does not fall into that category.

Shipping can be expensive, especially for last-minute shoppers who want to ensure their gifts arrive in time for the holidays. But the following are a handful of ways to ship smart and save both time and money.

• Ship directly to the recipient. Last-minute shoppers who are buying online can save money by shipping gifts directly to the recipient. While shipping directly to the recipient may seem less personal than sending a gift you wrapped yourself, many online retailers allow shoppers to send gift-wrapped items directly to another person. Just be sure to have the recipient's correct address when choosing this option.

• Ship early. Waiting to ship all gifts at the same time may be more convenient, but it can prove more costly as well. If you typically finish your holiday shopping just a few days before Christmas, then waiting to ship everything will cost more money than shipping gifts as you buy them. The longer you wait to ship gifts, the more you can expect to pay if you expect those gifts to arrive on time. Shipping gifts as you buy them, especially if you get much of your shopping done early, can save you short-term or overnight shipping fees, which can be significant.

• Comparison shop. Much like you can save money by comparison shopping for holiday gifts, you can save by comparing shipping costs as well. Pack-and-ship companies compete for consumers' business during the height of the holiday shipping season, so compare the costs between the various pack-and-ship companies, including the postal service, to see which offers the best deal.

• Insure the items you ship. The holiday season is the busiest time of year for the pack-and-ship industry. While the industry is often remarkably effective at delivering gifts intact and on time, items are sometimes lost or damaged. By insuring your packages, you're ensuring you won't be out of luck should your package be lost, damaged or stolen before it reaches its destination.

 

What are the differences between sparkling wines?

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As midnight approaches on New Year's Eve, revelers anxiously anticipate toasting the arrival of a new year with a glass of something bubbly. Once the cork is popped and the drinks are poured, the party can truly begin. Although revelers may assume any fizzy beverage they are served is champagne, by the true definition of the word, they actually may be drinking something else - one of many varieties of sparkling wine.

True champagne
Authentic champagne is named after Champagne, France, the region where the grapes used to make it are grown, fermented and bottled. According to European law, the only labels that are allowed to include the name "Champagne" must be bottled within 100 miles of this region, which is close to Paris.

The taste of champagne is unique thanks to the soil in which the grapes are grown. It is a mineral-rich soil and imparts that flavor into the beverage. Champagne is made from a unique base of grapes that include Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. Experts with Wine Country also say that roughly 90 percent of all blended champagnes use a ratio of 2⁄3 red and 1⁄3 Chardonnay mixes.

Another component that sets champagne apart is the process by which it is made. It is strictly controlled by the Appellation d'Origine Controlée. This certification dictates how a producer may grow the grapes and how the grapes can be harvested and processed. Champagne is produced by méthode champenoise, a process that is said to have been invented by a monk named Dom Perignon. This procedure involves double fermentation in bottles and creates an earthy, yeasty flavor.

Sparkling wines
Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are champagne. Other notable types of sparkling wine include Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava. Sparking wine is produced in regions of France as well as in the United States and Canada. But sparkling wine can be made just about anywhere grapes are grown. Sparkling wines are often double-fermented in steel containers instead of bottles.

People are drawn to other sparkling wines besides champagne for various reasons. For some, cost is a heavy consideration, as authentic champagne can be considerably more expensive than sparkling wine. In addition, some people find less expensive champagnes are not as palate-pleasing as sparkling wines.

Few things are more universally associated with celebrations than a bottle of bubbly. Subtle differences set sparkling wines apart from champagne, but personal preference is oftentimes the deciding factor when choosing which beverage to choose for a special occasion. 

 

WITH THE NEW YEAR COMES NEW CHANGES

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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will see a slight increase in 2017.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $127,200 from $118,500. Of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2017, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Thresholds for benefits will change slightly next year including the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), SSI Federal Payment Standard, and SSI Student Exclusion. 

Information about Medicare changes for 2017 are available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the Cost of Living Adjustment is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Learn more about the resulting changes at our factsheet on the subject: www.socialsecurity.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2017.pdf

 

THE TWELVE SITES OF SOCIAL SECURITY

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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

Gathering with family and friends during the holiday season reminds us we're part of a strong community. And sometimes, in the spirit of the season, we break into song. Our take on "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - a holiday favorite since 1780 - highlights the national community we care for all year long. We call it "The Twelve Sites of Social Security."

For the first site of Social Security, we give to you: our home page, www.socialsecurity.gov. It's the place to go for all things Social Security. Everything you could want - from online services and benefit screening tools to publications and frequently asked questions - you can find all these and more on this site.

For the second site of Social Security, we give to you: our hub for Social Security news and updates at our blog, Social Security Matters at blog.socialsecurity.gov.

For the third site of Social Security, we give to you: an easy way to learn how to replace your Social Security card at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. And in some states, you can replace it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount!

For the fourth site of Social Security, we give to you: an online application for retirement benefits that you can complete and submit in as little as 15 minutes at www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire

For the fifth site of Social Security, we give to you: five estimates of your future Social Security benefits! Or as many estimates as you would like using different scenarios. Get instant, personalized estimates of your future benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

For the sixth site of Social Security, we give to you: a convenient way to apply for disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability

For the seventh site of Social Security, we give to you: fun and informative videos on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/socialsecurityonline

For the eighth site of Social Security, we give to you: Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. You can learn more and apply for a subsidy online at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp

For the ninth site of Social Security, we give to you: our convenient publication library with online booklets and pamphlets on numerous subjects, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs

For the tenth site of Social Security, we give to you: one of our most popular social media outlets, our Facebook page. This is where we engage thousands of customers and you can join the conversation at www.facebook.com/socialsecurity.

For the eleventh site of Social Security, we give to you: answers to your Social Security related questions at our Frequently Asked Questions page at www.socialsecurity.gov/faq.

On the twelfth site of Social Security (and we saved the best for last): open your own personal my Social Security account, which will enable you to verify your earnings, get future benefit estimates, obtain benefit verification letters, update your Social Security information, and more at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount

And a partridge in a pear tree! Find all of this and more (except the partridge and pear tree) at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

SHARE THE GIFT OF SECURITY

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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

We have all received gifts we've wanted to return: ugly socks or sweaters that look exactly like the one you got (or gave!) last year. Sometimes, just letting loved ones know that you're there for them, no matter what, is the best gift of all. And you avoid the embarrassment of giving an awkward gift! Social Security is also there for you and your family – all year long. 

For this holiday season, give your loved ones some peace of mind by introducing them to Social Security's many programs. While creating new holiday memories, help your family members create a safe and secure my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year long, with features that let you:

• Get your Social Security Statement, to review: 
– Estimates of your future retirement, disability, andsurvivors benefits;
– Your earnings once a year to verify the amounts that we posted are correct; and
– The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you've paid.

• Get a benefit verification letter stating that: 
– You never received Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare; or

– You received benefits in the past, but do not currently receive them. The letter will include the date your benefits stopped and how much you received that year; or
– You applied for benefits but haven't received an answer yet.

Some of us might need extra help because of a disability. We've made it easy to apply for disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability

Additionally, we have resources for family members in the military who have been injured while serving, or are now disabled veterans. They can find out about benefits they may be eligible for at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans

Your loved ones will also appreciate the gift of convenience! Social Security has many online services that can fit their diverse needs at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices

Receiving support and friendship often means more than material gifts. As you're exchanging presents this holiday season, remember to also exchange some knowledge, and pass on the effectiveness of my Social Security and our online services. Your loved ones will appreciate it.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY’S GIFT TO CHILDREN IS SECURITY

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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

This is the season of caring. No matter your religion or belief, December is also considered a time to focus on the children we love. Whether we're wrapping Santa's gifts, buying Hanukkah treats, decorating the house in celebration of Kwanzaa, or volunteering for a toy drive, children add joy to the holiday season. And we at Social Security definitely know a thing or two about helping children. 

Often overlooked in the paperwork that prospective parents fill out in preparation for a child's birth is an application for a Social Security number and card. Typically, the hospital will ask if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your newborn as part of the birth registration process. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply. The Social Security card typically arrives about a week to ten days after that little bundle of joy! You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading our publication, Social Security Numbers for Children, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs

A child needs a Social Security number if he or she is going to have a bank account, if a relative is buying savings bonds for the child, if the child will have medical coverage, or if the child will receive government services. You'll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns. 

If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and you'll need to:

• Complete an Application For a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);

• Show us original documents proving your child's U.S. citizenship, age, and identity; and

• Show us documents proving your identity.

Remember, a child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child's behalf.

Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. Social Security is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI:

• The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in "marked and severe functional limitations." This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child's activities;

• The child's condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death;

If your child's condition(s) does not result in "marked and severe limitations," or does not result in those limitations lasting for at least 12 months, your child will not qualify for SSI; and

• The child must not be working and earning more than $1,090 a month in 2016. (This amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, your child will not be eligible for benefits.

Learn the details about benefits for children by reading our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs

Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids to learn more about all we do to care for children. Caring for the next generation is a central part of securing today and tomorrow, during the holidays and all year long.

 

BETWEEN FESTIVITIES, VISIT MY SOCIAL SECURITY

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By Pamela Shaw
Social Security District Manager in Dubuque IA

The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it family gatherings and familiar traditions. As you bustle about from place to place, sharing turkey dinners and catching up with loved ones, there's one errand you can avoid – a visit to the Social Security office. Why take time out of your busy holiday schedule to visit an office when you can conduct most of your business online?

At www.socialsecurity.gov, we have a variety of services available to you, all from the comfort of your home. You can apply for disability benefits or appeal a disability decision. You can also file for retirement benefits, spousal benefits, or Medicare-only benefits while enjoying leftover pumpkin pie. Our secure, easy-to-navigate website is sure to add plenty of comfort and joy to the festivities.

Even if you're currently receiving benefits, or aren't quite ready to file, Social Security has services to bring you holiday cheer. With a my Social Security account, those receiving benefits may change their address and direct deposit information, get proof of their benefits, and request replacement documents like a Medicare card. In addition, if you aren't currently getting benefits, you can still check your earnings record, get estimates of your future benefits, and view your Social Security Statement. In some areas, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online. Open your account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount

With the New Year just around the corner, it's never too early to start planning for your future. Once you've conducted your business at www.socialsecurity.gov, you may want to visit www.myRA.gov. myRA is a retirement savings account from the Department of the Treasury designed to help you put aside money for your retirement. You can invest in the fund according to your budget, putting you in control of your financial prospects. Give yourself a gift this holiday season and invest in your future.

Holidays are fun, and sometimes stressful, times. Let our online offerings reduce the holiday stress so you can focus on what's important – your loved ones. When you need services from Social Security, start a new tradition. Go online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

 

Jamie Blum Resigns as Manager of the Dubuque County Fair

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The Dubuque County Fair Association announced recently that Jamie Blum has officially resigned from her position of General Manager effective Friday, November 18th, 2016.

Blum has been in her role as manager since July of 2006. She is leaving to pursue another opportunity.

The Dubuque County Fair Association Board of Directors will be naming a search committee soon to seek Blum's replacement. In the interim period, Angie Sigwarth has been named to fill the position until a suitable replacement can be found. Sigwarth has been involved with the organization for a long time and is currently a member of the board of directors.

The Dubuque County Fair Association is a non-profit organization established in 1953, to plan and operate the Annual Dubuque County Fair. The Association has grown immensely in 63 years and the DCFA now offers visitors 96 acres, rental facilities, a 3/8 mile dirt race track, an outdoor Festival area, experienced event planners and full service food and beverage amenities.

The Dubuque County Fair is recognized by the Association of Iowa Fairs as a "Blue Ribbon Fair" designated only to fairs that have shown continued improvement and growth.

 

Be prepared when choosing popular months for weddings

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5 ways to make holiday guests comfortable

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The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day marks one of the busiest periods of the year for long-distance travel. The United States Department of Transportation says that come Thanksgiving, the number of long-distance trips (50+ miles away) increases by 54 percent, and around Christmas that number rises by 23 percent over the remainder of the year. Those travelers ultimately need a place to rest their heads, and many stay with family and friends.

Entertaining during the holiday season involves accounting for guests' comfort, and that often means hosts must put their visitors' needs over their own. Although some sacrifices need to be made, there is a way to find a happy compromise that can help the holidays go smoothly and happily.

Consider these ways to help guests feel welcome whether they stay for a few hours or a few days.

1. Cater to specific dietary needs. One of the ways to treat guests kindly is by being aware of any special dietary needs they may have when it comes to preparing holiday meals or other foods during their visits. Some guests may require low-sodium diets, while others may be monitoring their blood-sugar levels and must dine accordingly. Vegetarians and vegans limit the foods they eat, while others may avoid foods based on religious preferences. Offer a variety of foods and try to cater to guests' needs as much as possible. When in doubt, consult with the guest so he or she feels welcome and does not go hungry.

2. Make sleeping spaces as private as possible. Not everyone has a separate guest room for overnight stays, but try to make sleeping areas as private as you can when visitors spend the night. Use privacy screens or set guests up in a family room that's away from the center of activity. Hosts may want to give up their own rooms for the comfort of guests.

3. Offer storage space. One way to make guests feel comfortable is to give them their own storage space. This can include space in a closet, a couple of drawers to stow their belongings, or hangers in the entryway for coats and other winter attire. Not only will this keep things more organized, it can provide guests with comfort.

4. Include guests when preparing for entertaining. Many guests like to feel involved, and by including them in meal preparation, decorating or shopping, you can help them feel included and appreciated.

5. Keep snacks and other creature comforts readily accessible. Guests may feel sheepish scavenging through cabinets or drawers looking for items. Make things easy to find by leaving items out on counters or indicating where items can be found. For example, if you know a guest enjoys an evening cup of tea and some cookies, leave out the cookies, tea bags and kettle so that he or she can indulge when the urge comes.

Guests are a large part of the holiday season. Help them feel comfortable whenever they visit your home.

 

Managing diabetes during the holiday season

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The holiday season is synonymous with many things, including food. Family gatherings and holiday office parties wouldn't be the same without great food. 

Food plays such a significant role during the holiday season that many people are worried about overindulging. Some celebrants can afford to overindulge, while others must resist temptation. Diabetics fall into the latter category, as the festive mood of the season does not mean people with diabetes can throw dietary caution to the wind.

With the holiday season upon us, diabetics can heed the following tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help them stay on a healthy track.

• Stick to your normal routine. While the holiday season can be unpredictable, the CDC advises diabetics stick to their normal routines as closely as possible. Because holiday guests cannot control food served to them at family gatherings or parties, the CDC recommends diabetics offer to bring a healthy, diabetic-friendly dish along to any parties. In addition, don't skip meals during the day in anticipation of a large holiday meal. Doing so makes it hard to control blood sugar levels.

• Be extra careful with alcohol. Alcohol is served or readily available at many holiday gatherings, and many people overindulge because of the festive mood of the season. Overindulging in alcohol is dangerous for anyone, but diabetics must be especially mindful of their alcohol consumption. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and interact with diabetes medicines. Diabetics who want to enjoy a holiday libation should keep their alcohol consumption to a minimum.

• Eat slowly. Eating slowly can benefit anyone during the holiday season. Eating at a leisurely pace gives diners' brains ample time to signal that their bodies are full. By eating quickly, diners may be eating more calories than they hoped to eat, and that can lead to uncomfortable feelings of fullness after a meal. Diabetics who can slow down their eating are less likely to overindulge in less healthy holiday foods that can affect their blood sugar levels.

• Remain active. The holiday season can be hectic, as adults often must juggle extraordinarily busy social schedules with the responsibilities of everyday life. Many people sacrifice time at the gym to ease the burden of hectic holiday schedules, but diabetics must resist that temptation. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that routine physical activity helps diabetics keep their blood glucose levels in their target range. Physical activity also helps the hormone insulin absorb glucose into all of the body's cells for energy. That extra energy boost can help diabetics fend off holiday-related fatigue.

Diabetics face a lot of temptation come the holiday season. But with the right plan of action in place, men and women with diabetes can enjoy a healthy holiday season.

 

Cold weather outdoor entertaining

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Outdoor entertaining has never been more popular. As more and more homeowners turn their homes into their own personal oases, extending the party outdoors has become a bigger priority.

According to the American Home Furnishings Alliance's 2015 Outdoor Furniture Trend Report, out-of-doors areas on a property are the favored venues for celebrations with family and friends.

While outdoor entertaining was once relegated to the warm weather seasons, advancements in technology have now made it more comfortable and enjoyable to entertain outdoors for much of the year. But hosts who want to extend the outdoor party after summer has come and gone should consider a few important entertaining tips.

• Start the party early. Summertime backyard barbecues and pool parties benefit from late-evening sunsets that illuminate patios and pool areas well into the evening. In addition, many hosts prefer to start such parties later in the day to avoid the sun during the early afternoon when it is at its most blazing. However, start the party earlier in the day when hosting in fall or early winter. Temperatures can drop considerably once the sun begins to set, so starting early can save hosts and their guests from cold air.

• Heat things up. Summertime hosts might employ canopies to protect themselves and their guests from the heat, and it's important for hosts to take similar steps when the weather is chillier. The AHFA report found that 38 percent of homeowners intended to purchase fire pits for their outdoor entertaining areas, and such fire pits can keep guests warm as the sun goes down and the night air gets chilly. Fire pits have become must-have items for outdoor entertaining areas, and hosts can surely find one that suits their needs.

• Change the menu. Grilling hot dogs and hamburgers might still work when entertaining outdoors in fall and winter, but hosts may want to stray from other summertime fare like watermelon or pasta salad. Embrace the cold weather by roasting some nuts and making s'mores over an open fire. In lieu of summertime beverages like lemonade and beer, serve hot chocolate or wine to keep guests warm.

• Ensure there is adequate lighting. Mother Nature won't offer much lighting when you host a party outdoors in late fall and early winter, so make sure your patios and sidewalks are well lit. Guests will want to see one another and what they're eating, and well-lit walkways will reduce the risk that guests take a tumble or turn their ankles when walking to and from the house.

Outdoor entertaining need not end because summer has come and gone. But hosts must take a different approach to hosting when throwing outdoor gatherings in late fall and early winter. 

 

Make the most of gameday entertaining

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Few things are more exciting and festive for sports fans than gathering with close friends to cheer on a favorite team. Although a large part of the fun involves watching the game, food and other festivities often round out the day - especially when fans gather in the comforts of private homes rather than big stadiums.

Having good food nearby is essential when hosting sports fans for a big game, and there are many additional ways to make gameday that much more fun and memorable.

Establish the atmosphere
Make the party area more festive by incorporating team colors. Feature these colors on serving bowls, plates, pennants, balloons, and more. Remember to ask guests to wear the apparel of their favorite teams, hang photos of key players and keep a ball on hand so guests can toss or kick it around between plays.

Choose fan-favorite foods
Game day menu options can include anything from finger foods to more elaborate appetizers to main courses. Games can take several hours from start to finish, so make sure you have enough food to cover the duration of the event. Consider favorites like chicken wings, sliders, mozzarella sticks, and deli sandwiches. Use a slow cooker to prepare chili or stew. A slow cooker also can be used to cook ribs or hot dogs in bulk. It's also a handy tool to prepare pork loin for pulled pork sandwiches.

Don't forget desserts
Desserts are an item you can delegate to guests. If you want to prepare your own desserts, small and portable items are easier to manage and cut down on the mess while fans are cheering. In addition to the requisite potato chips and pretzels, cookies, brownies/blondies, cupcakes, and fruit tarts are all small desserts to consider adding to the menu. Many items can be purchased ready-made if you want to avoid spending hours baking.

Create a viewing location
Guests will want an unobscured view of the game, and this may require moving around some furniture. The television should be located high enough so that all guests have a clear view. Think about moving a sofa to the perimeter of the room and bringing in folding chairs, which will allow a greater number of guests to sit. Tune several televisions to the same channel so guests moving around for food or to use the restroom won't miss any big plays.

Game day beverages
Beer and soft drinks are staples of sports-related entertaining and may be all you need to have on hand. You can create a game-themed cocktail for guests who are not fans of beer. In addition, have water and other nonalcoholic options at the ready.

An easy way to ensure drinks are cold is to plug the kitchen sink and fill it with water and ice. Place beverages inside and keep cups nearby. This eliminates the need to drag a cooler inside. When the party ends, simply pull the plug and let the water drain out.

Gameday entertaining is very popular. Sports fans can't wait to gather, root for their teams and socialize with friends.

 

Did you know?

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Designed to serve as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday charitable giving season, Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States. While events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become incredibly popular among holiday shoppers looking for great deals on gifts for their loved ones, Giving Tuesday aims to capitalize on the holiday spirit of giving by celebrating philanthropy and promoting charitable giving.

Giving Tuesday began in 2012 and was the brainchild of the team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at New York City's 92nd Street Y, which has brought people together around the values of service and giving since 1874.

Nonprofits, civic organizations, for-profit businesses and corporations, individuals, and families have participated in Giving Tuesday since its inception. In 2015, with the cooperation of donors, volunteers and organizations in 71 countries, the Giving Tuesday movement raised nearly $117 million.

More information about Giving Tuesday is available at www.GivingTuesday.org.

 

 

Home features that are disappearing

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There is no denying the profound impact that the recession has had on the real estate industry. For the last several years, the real estate market went from booming to one characterized by homes sitting on the market for months on end. New home sales also have been conservative, and builders are cutting back on some offerings that were once commonplace.

The National Association for Realtors says that, despite floundering sales, there are fewer foreclosed homes available now than in recent years. Distressed homes –foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts – accounted for 25 percent of homes sales in May of 2012. That figure is down from 28 percent in April and 31 percent in May of 2011.

While home sales have increased, money is still tight in the building industry and among home buyers. As such, instead of over-the-top features in homes that were once becoming the norm, builders are now focusing on more value-conscious designs and offerings. The list of add-ons also has been reduced.

So what can buyers expect to live without when buying a newly constructed home? Here are a few of the common features that are falling by the wayside.

• Sunrooms: Although the "bring-the-outside-in" movement was once strong, builders are now focusing on home features that immediately add value and attract the eye of buyers. Therefore, they're putting their resources into linen closets and laundry rooms while de-emphasizing sunrooms.

• Extended ceiling heights: It can take a lot of energy to heat rooms with 15-foot ceilings. As a result, grandiose family rooms and two-story foyers are less attractive to buyers focused on saving money. Homeowners want spaces that are easier to heat and cool.

• Luxury bathrooms: Many private residence luxury bathrooms rival those found at popular 4-star hotels. But luxury bathrooms are being phased out in favor of less expensive, more practical options.

• Outdoor kitchens: Although entertaining at home is one way to keep budgets in check, some homeowners have realized they don't need a complete backyard kitchen with a pizza oven and brick fireplace in order to host guests. According to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders, outdoor kitchens are the second least-likely feature to be included in homes built in 2012. 

• Media rooms: Individuals certainly love their gadgets, but many of these gadgets have become smaller and more portable. That reduces the need for giant home theaters and gaming spaces.

While certain features are disappearing, there are others that are growing more and more popular. Dual sinks in kitchens, walk-in closets, extra storage areas, and hidden charging stations for devices are likely to show up more and more in new home designs.

The design of new homes is changing to be more budget-friendly and also represent the changing priorities of home buyers. As a result, today's newly designed homes will likely look much different from homes built just a few years ago.

 

What to include with wedding invitations

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Wedding invitations once followed a relatively standard format that did not necessarily require much thought on the part of the grooms- and brides-to-be. But many couples now take more creative approaches to their wedding invitations, using them to evoke a certain theme or to establish if the wedding will be formal or casual.

But while wedding invitation designs might have become more flexible over the years, couples should still make sure to include certain information in their invitations to avoid being overwhelmed with questions from guests excited to attend the festivities.

• Date and time: It may seem simple, but don't forget to include the date and time of both the wedding and reception in the invitation. If there will be a considerable amount of time between the ceremony and the reception, you may want to include a handful of local dining suggestions so guests can grab a quick bite to eat before the cocktail hour.

• Venue information: Guests will need to know where couples are tying the knot, so be sure to include the address of the ceremony site as well as a link to its website. The address will help guests find the venue, while the website can prove an invaluable source of information about the venue, which can save couples the trouble of answering questions about the ceremony site that can more easily and quickly be answered by visiting the website.

• Reception hall information: Couples whose receptions will be in a different location than their ceremonies should include the same information about the reception hall that they did about the ceremony site. Reception hall information is often listed on reception cards, which can include information on the front and back to save paper and money on postage.

• Hotel information: Many couples arrange special room rates with nearby hotels for their wedding guests. Include the names of these hotels, directions to the hotel from all directions, directions from the hotel to the ceremony and reception sites and the various rates for rooms (single room, double room, etc.). If possible, include a link to each hotel's reservation form as well.

• Reply cards: Reply cards are included so guests can easily reply to let couples know if they will or will not be attending. Couples with wedding websites can even include a link to their sites on the reply cards, letting guests know they can reply via the website if they so choose.

• Reception menu: Many reception halls ask that couples give them a ballpark figure as to how many of their guests will prefer each type of entrée available at the reception. Include menu options within your invitation package, ideally on your reply card, so you can easily provide this information for your vendor.

• Wedding website information: If you did not already include a link to your wedding website on your save-the-date cards, include that information within your invitation package. Wedding websites will answer many of your guests' questions for you, so don't forget to make this valuable tool a part of your wedding planning.

 

 

Winter Grilling Tips & Tricks

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Barbecuing isn't just for the lazy days of summer. Delicious grilled meals are easy to prepare year-round. Here are a few tips for winter barbecuing that are important to remember before you get the snow shovel out.

• Always pre-heat your barbecue. Pre-heat to 400º F -- 450º F at minimum, and adjust the temperature from there. Remember, if food doesn't sizzle when you put it on the grill, your barbecue is not hot enough.

• If you are grilling with charcoal, include more charcoal for increased pre-heating time and extra heat while grilling.

• Cooking times may change with extreme cold. Always use an instant read thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked thoroughly.

• Grill with the lid down. Heat loss on a cold day is significantly greater than a warm summer day, and keeping your barbecue at a consistent temperature will be very difficult with the lid open.

• When grilling on a windy day, try to reduce your exposure to the wind. If grilling at lower temperatures, keep an eye on your barbecue to ensure that it does not blow out. If you do need to move your barbecue out of the wind, keep minimum clearances in mind to avoid damaging your deck or home.

• Clear a work area around your barbecue. This won't impact cooking time, but having enough room to work without filling your boots with snow makes for a much more enjoyable barbecue experience and avoids any untimely slips or falls.

• Several lighting options are available. Some barbecues have built in lighting, and add-on handle lights are available so you're not grilling in the dark. Broil King offers a variety of lighting options for their barbecues.

• Never use your barbecue indoors, in your garage or in an enclosed area. Carbon Monoxide accumulation, accidental fire damage, and smoke damage are all possible – it's not worth the risk.

More information on grilling and great recipe ideas is available at www.broilkingbbq.com.

Clear off that barbecue and get grilling!

 

Safety first when stringing holiday lights

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Holiday decorations help make a special time of year even more memorable. Whether you're hanging mistletoe above a doorway or decking the halls, safety must be a priority when decorating a home for the holidays.

Accidents can happen no matter what type of holiday decorating you're doing, but stringing holiday lights around your home may be especially dangerous. This season, keep the following safety tips in mind when stringing lights so this season of celebration starts off safe and sound.

• Work with at least one partner. Never go it alone when stringing holiday lights. Make sure someone is there to hold the ladder steady as you climb up and down. Partnering up when stringing holiday lights allows decorators to use both of their hands to climb up ladders instead of using one of their hands to carry lights. Once they reach a point where it's safe to hang lights, they can then have a helper hand them the lights. If possible, work in groups of three so someone can hold the ladder steady at all times.

• Inspect lights before hanging them. Lights are not built to last forever, and over time holiday lights can suffer damage that has the potential to be dangerous. Wires can fray, and sockets can crack or break. Inspect lights and wires before hanging them, replacing any that pose a hazard. When replacing bulbs, be sure to replace them with bulbs of equal wattage.

• Use an extension cord of adequate length. Exterior holiday lights are often plugged into extension cords that extend to a shed or garage. Do not connect several extension cords to power holiday lights; instead, use just a single cord that's lengthy enough to reach the outlet. Connecting extension cords is a fire hazard. In addition, make sure the amperage of the decorations matches the amperage rating of the extension cord, which can be found on the product label or possibly on the manufacturer's website. Make sure the extension cord is not plugged into the power source while you are hanging the lights.

• Make sure lights do not pose a safety hazard inside. Some people string holiday lights indoors as well. Lights might be hung on Christmas trees or along hallways. Such lights and the cords connecting them to power sources should never pose safety hazards, so make sure they are not lying on the floor. Staple lights to the wall and never place them beneath furniture or rugs. Lights can overheat when placed beneath rugs, and lights that are not properly secured to a wall can pose certain dangers, including being potential tripping hazards.

• Hang the correct lights. When stringing lights, make sure you hang lights designated as exterior lights on the exterior of your home and those designated as interior lights inside your home. Hanging lights in the wrong places poses a fire hazard and creates additional safety concerns, so adhere to manufacturer instructions when stringing lights.

Safety should reign supreme when stringing holiday lights around the house.

 

City of Dubuque Launches Bee Branch Healthy Homes Resiliency Program

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The City of Dubuque has officially launched the Bee Branch Healthy Homes (BBHH) Resiliency Program. The program includes $8.4 million in the form of five-year forgivable loans to improve 320 housing units, including owner-occupied homes, single-unit rentals, and small, multi-family residential units.

Funds will be awarded to properties in targeted areas in the Bee Branch Watershed where low- to moderate-income residents reside. Eligible projects will make repairs and implement onsite stormwater management principles to decrease environmental health and safety issues from flooding. A map of the eligibility areas and program details is available at www.cityofdubuque.org/bbhh.

The local project is being funded through the $96.9 million U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) Grant awarded to the State of Iowa's "Iowa Watershed Approach," a collaboration of numerous agencies, universities, non-profits, and municipalities. The NDRC invited communities that experienced natural disasters in 2011, 2012, or 2013 to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters.

Many residents in the Bee Branch Watershed have experienced repeated flash flooding from stormwater during heavy rain events, including six Presidential Disaster Declarations since 1999. As a result, they are living with residual structural issues, electrical hazards, and chronic mold and mildew problems.

The BBHH Resiliency Program is designed to help residents and property owners meet unmet structural needs and empower individuals to be a part of the creation of more resilient housing. A variety of repairs and renovations will improve housing conditions and make homes more resilient to future flooding. Examples include, but are not limited to, foundation repairs, water and sewer service improvements, basement window repairs, mold and mildew remediation, sidewalk improvements, sump pump repairs and installations, and property drainage improvements.

The City of Dubuque Housing & Community Development Department will hold three open house information meetings. They are scheduled for:

12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Prescott Neighborhood Resource Center;

5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Comiskey Park Building;

and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Bunker Hill Golf Course Snack Bar.

City staff will provide information about the program and answer questions. Applications will also be available.

The City of Dubuque received a total of $31.5 million through the NDRC and Iowa Watershed Approach. In addition to the $8.4 million for the BBHH Resiliency Program, the grant will provide $23.1 million for stormwater infrastructure improvements related to the Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project. Specifically, this includes $9 million towards the $18 million project to install culverts to pass floodwaters from the Upper Bee Branch to the Lower Bee Branch through the railway yard on Garfield Avenue. The grant will also provide $11.5 million towards the $15.4 million project to provide drainage improvements from the Bee Branch Creek to the west along 22nd Street up Kaufmann Avenue all the way to Kane Street. Finally, the grant will provide $2.6 million towards the $11.3 million project to provide drainage improvements from the Bee Branch Creek to the west along 17th Street to West Locust Street and along West Locust Street towards Kirkwood Street. The HUD Resiliency Grant will expedite the completion of the Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project, expanding its scope to lessen the flood damage caused by future flash floods.

More information on the Bee Branch Healthy Homes Project and applications are available at www.cityofdubuque.org/bbhh. For questions or to request a paper application, contact BBHH Resiliency Coordinator Sharon Gaul at (563) 690-6168 or bbhh@cityofdubuque.org.

 

How to handle holiday hosting

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Holiday revelers tend to be busy with social engagements - from corporate parties to cocktails with close friends - between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Chances are, many people will be attending a party and/or hosting their own this holiday season.

While attending a party requires little of celebrants other than a willingness to have a good time, hosting a holiday get-together can be hard work. But hosts can heed a few time-tested strategies to ensure they and their guests make the most of their time together this holiday season.

Forget perfection
Television, movies and advertisements paint an unrealistic picture of what the holidays should be. Don't get down if a holiday party that would make Norman Rockwell proud is beyond your capabilities. Rather than trying to plan a picture-perfect holiday party, channel your energy into what you do best. Cook up a holiday feast if you love being in the kitchen, or decorate till you drop if you love to deck the halls. The point of the party is to gather with family and friends, so no need to worry about throwing a perfect party.

Enlist helpers
Ask others to contribute to the party so all of the work is not on your shoulders. A potluck party is a great way to encourage participation. When everyone brings something along and helps, it frees up time to spend together rather than worrying about what needs cooking in the kitchen or whether a last-minute trip to the store is in order.

Downsize
Festive feelings may inspire you to expand your guest list. Social people understandably want to invite all of their circles of friends, but an overwhelming guest list can make hosting more difficult. If you have trouble paring down the guest list, consider hosting separate parties, designating one for family and another for friends.

You can even downsize your offerings to lessen some your load. Rather than spending days in the kitchen making unique apps, stock up on chips, snacks and premade appetizers so you have enough food. If you want to make one or two appetizers from scratch, stick to a handful of tried-and-true recipes and convenience items so you're not worrying about kitchen-testing new things.

Hire professionals
If you're simply too busy to handle hosting but still want to invite loved ones, hire some professional help. Hire wait staff to tend to guests during the party, and book a cleaning service to clean your home in the days before the party. Don't hesitate to have the party catered if you prefer your gathering not be potluck.

Holiday hosting can be a big time commitment, but there are ways to make hosting easier regardless of how busy you are.

 

Travel to these ghostly haunts

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Various places around the world are home to spooky tales and locations that are purported to be visited by spirits. Paranormal activity attracts visitors excited by the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the unknown and the unexpected. Ghosts and hauntings simultaneously frighten and excite. 

While many people grow up listening to ghost stories and scary tales, few take to the road to witness potentially haunted sites. A haunted road trip can help fuel ghostly interests. Here are a few places to include on your journey.

Banff Springs Hotel: This hotel in Alberta, Canada, was built more than 125 years ago as a luxury stop for train travelers. It's rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Canada. One of the most popular of all the haunting reports involves former bellman Sam McCauley. McCauley served at the hotel during the 1960s and 1970s, and some people insist they still see him to this day. He likes to help guests up to their rooms, dressed in his 1960s uniform, often turning on lights and opening locked doors. If you try to tip or make conversation with Sam, he vanishes.

The Crescent Hotel: Located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, the Crescent Hotel is often referred to as the most haunted hotel in America. The property is said to be haunted by several spirits, including a young woman who died after falling from the roof.

Edinburgh Castle: A site of many bloody battles that overlooks what many people say is the most haunted city on Earth, Edinburgh Castle keeps tourists guessing with many paranormal activities. The most common is the feeling of being touched and pulled and visions of apparitions.

Fort Mifflin: Fort Mifflin is America's only Revolutionary War battlefield that is still intact. Located in Philadelphia, the 14 restored buildings supposedly house plenty of spirits from the past. A screaming woman is often heard, and she is so loud that the police have been called to investigate.

Monte Cristo Homestead: Located in Junee, New South Wales, Monte Cristo Homestead is considered to be the most haunted place in Australia. Tragic events, including many deaths, have occurred on the homestead since it was first constructed.

Moundsville Penitentiary: Moundsville Penitentiary was one of America's most violent correctional facilities and the final stop for almost 1,000 criminals. Many people died at the West Virginia facility. While the prison closed in 1995, some say that tortured spirits can be seen and heard on prison tours.

Tower of London: There have been many reports of paranormal activity at the Tower of London. Anne Boleyn, whose tragic marriage to King Henry VIII ended when she was beheaded, is said to be seen walking the tower's corridors near the spot of her death.

UAA's Wendy Williamson Auditorium: The Wendy Williamson Auditorium in Anchorage, Alaska, has its share of unexplained phenomena. Footsteps and voices are frequently heard. Many people insist they have witnessed poltergeist activity on the property as well.

Weston State Hospital: This West Virginia facility was renamed after first being known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Opening in 1864, the hospital became home to thousands of people with mental illnesses. Hundreds of people are said to have died here, and spirits may date back to the Civil War era. 

These are but a handful of the seemingly haunted locations to visit around the world.

 

Space heater safety

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Space heaters can be an effective method of supplemental heat when the weather outside gets cold, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that space heaters can cause fires and lead to burns and, when using electrical heaters, may cause electrocution from faulty wiring. When operating a space heater, it is important to follow some safety guidelines.

• Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from any drapery, bedding and flammable material.

• Turn off the heater when you leave the room.

• Keep the heater on a level surface that is hard and non-flammable.

• Don't leave the space heater on all night while you are sleeping.

• Never use inside a home a portable propane space heater designed for camping outdoors.

• Make sure smoke alarms in a home have been tested and batteries have been replaced to protect yourself in the event of a space heater-related fire.

 

Holiday Tags Available for Solid Waste Collection Customers

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The City of Dubuque is continuing its annual distribution of a complimentary "holiday tag" for extra garbage to its solid waste collection customers. The tags will be available until Jan. 3, 2017.

Customers requesting a holiday tag will need to present the original top portion of their November 2016 utility bills, which have holiday tag information printed on them. Renters in housing units where the owner pays the City utility bill will need to request a holiday tag from the owner or property manager. Paperless billing customers requesting a holiday tag do not need to print their bill; however, verification of paperless billing status will be confirmed by City staff at the time of request.

Customers may pick up their holiday tag during normal business hours at the following locations:

Municipal Services Center, 925 Kerper Ct.

Utility Billing office, first floor of City Hall at 13th & Central

Housing and Community Development office, third floor of the Historic Federal Building, 350 W. Sixth St.

Leisure Services Department office, 2200 Bunker Hill Rd.

Multicultural Family Center, 1157 Central Ave.

The holiday tags may be used for refuse on any collection day in the future. For additional information, please contact the Utility Billing Department at (563) 589-4144.

 

UnityPoint Health® Finley Hospital Offers Online Pre-Diabetes Class

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UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital is now serving patients in a new way – online "live" pre-diabetes programming. As diabetes and pre-diabetes are on the rise, Finley's Kehl Diabetes Center is connecting with patients where they are – whether it be at home, work, or traveling. The class is designed to meet patient's needs and provide education on pre-diabetes to those who need it.

"UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital continues to be on the forefront on the ways in which we deliver care to our patients," said David Brandon, President and CEO of Finley Hospital. "We provide care in our hospitals, clinics, at home and also in the digital world."

The class is a two-part class designed to help those with pre-diabetes learn about the condition and assist in making long-term lifestyle changes. The videoconferencing class can be accessed on any type of device that connects to the internet.

Classes are offered beginning October 6 through December 28 at a variety of times throughout the day. For dates, times and information to register, visit unitypoint.org. Under Classes and Events, click on Pre-Diabetes Online Program to find a list of dates, times and class identification numbers that are needed when registering on gotomeeting.com.

For any questions about the program, please call (563) 589-4899.

 

 

Tips for adult students returning to school

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Adults return to school for a variety of reasons. Some might be spurred by a desire to pursue a new career, while others might go back to school to learn more about their existing field and improve their career prospects. While their reasons for returning to school may differ, many adults find themselves battling some nerves as they begin the process of going back to the classroom.

Feelings of doubt are common among adults returning to school. But there are steps all adult students can take to reduce their anxiety and make the most of the often exciting experience of going back to school.

• Start slow. Unlike more traditional college students, adults returning to school tend to have significant responsibilities, including families and careers. Juggling work and family is difficult on its own, but doing so along with college coursework is even harder. Adult students returning to school after a long layoff would be wise to take things slowly at first so they and their families can gradually adjust to their new schedules. Many schools now offer online courses, which can be especially beneficial for working professionals.

• Have a plan. Many adults only return to school when they know exactly what they want to study or which courses they need to take to complete a degree or earn a certificate. If you have not already mapped out such a plan, do so before enrolling in any classes. The cost of a college education has no doubt increased considerably since you last stepped foot on campus, so you don't want to be signing up for costly classes that will not help you accomplish what you hope to accomplish by returning to school.

• Research your options. Just because you are an adult returning to school does not mean you are ineligible for scholarships or other forms of financial aid. The United States Department of Labor maintains a scholarship search engine at www.careerinfonet.org where students of all ages and academic levels can search for scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities to determine if they are eligible for some help paying for tuition. In addition, adults returning to school may want to discuss their plans with their employers, especially if they are looking to continue working in their current fields. Employers may have programs in place to subsidize employees looking to continue their education.

• Don't be discouraged. Many adults mulling a return to school are hesitant to do so because they feel as if they will be the only older students in classrooms filled with millennials. However, the National Center for Education Statistics predicts a 14 percent increase in enrollment of students 25 and older between 2011 and 2021, suggesting that adults going back to school are unlikely to be the only graybeards in their classrooms.

Returning to college as an adult can be both exciting and overwhelming. But adults need not be nervous about returning to the classroom, even if it has been quite some time since they last stepped on a college campus.

 

Did You Know?

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Solstices happen twice per year. The solstices mark the shortest and longest days of the year and when the sun is at its highest or lowest point in the noon sky.

The solstices occur in both June and December, and when you experience each solstice depends on which hemisphere you call home. People who reside in the northern hemisphere will experience the summer solstice in June while those in the southern hemisphere will experience the winter solstice at this time.

 

CityChannel Dubuque to Air ‘From the Archives’

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The City of Dubuque Cable TV Division is tapping into its media vault to unveil a new showcase on CityChannel Dubuque titled "From the Archives." This new showcase features old programs and video footage recorded by Cable TV personnel since the mid-1980s and often shows a Dubuque that looks much different than the city we know today.

"From the Archives" programs include the placing of the bell tower on City Hall in 1990, an interview with noted Iowa artist and one-time Dubuque resident Francesco Licciardi in 1989, architect Alfred Caldwell's 1991 return to Eagle Point Park to see the buildings he built there in the 1930s, music from the Iowa Sesquicentennial celebration in Eagle Point Park in 1996, and footage from the Grand Excursion in 2004.

"From the Archives" presents one program per week airing at four different times on CityChannel Dubuque: Tuesdays at 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., Fridays at 2 a.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m. Following each airing will be a promotional announcement for the next week's program. "From the Archives" will premiere on Tuesday, June 10, at 9 a.m. with the 1988 Field of Dreams press conference at Carnegie-Stout Public Library featuring stars James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner.

For the past six years, Cable TV Coordinator Craig Nowack and Video Producer Erich Moeller have been gradually digitizing old videotapes stored in the basement of City Hall Annex. "‘From the Archives' is a fun way to look back at some of Dubuque's recent history, and a great way to see what Dubuque used to look like," said Nowack.

CityChannel Dubuque is the City's government access cable channel found on channel 8 or digital 85.2 on Mediacom's cable system in Dubuque.

The channel is also streamed live on the City's website at www.cityofdubuque.org/media.

Viewers can access the channel's program guide at www.cityofdubuque.org/cabletv.

"From the Archives" programs will eventually be available for on-demand playback on the City's website.