Find New Use For – Not Demolish – Old Buildings

We moved here in February of 2008 to start a life together and when we moved here I thought, “What a great place to settle down and raise a family.”

I have been in downtown Rockford several times and love seeing the dam. I just have one question: Why change a wonderful town not falling apart? The tannery is leaving and the City wants to take out some of the old houses for business? They should keep them – they have been there since the town was built, so why now?

What they should do is take some of the buildings not being used and do something with them. That’s what I think because this is the town I want to raise my kids in.

Brandy Sisco

Posted in Letters | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Credits, Deductions of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act

by JERRY COON

jerrycoon The picture is becoming clearer where it concerns some of the credits and deductions that were adjusted when President Obama recently signed the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AR&R). There are so many provisions in this bill that were changed, thus affecting so many people, that it has guaranteed that tax professionals will spend many hours in the months ahead becoming familiar with those changes. Lower-income taxpayers, especially, will potentially get a tremendous amount of tax relief under this bill.

First, those receiving Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will get the benefit of an increased EITC. In 2009 and 2010, taxpayers with three or more qualifying children can receive up to a maximum EITC of $5,656. That is an increase of $832 over the 2008 maximum credit of $4,824. It’s important to note that EITC is fully refundable, so the term “tax relief” isn’t technically totally accurate. Tax relief would imply there would be some tax to get some relief from.

For reference purposes, under pre-American Recovery & Reinvestment Act law, two taxpayers filing a joint return with earnings of $29,000 and three children would already pay zero tax, would get a full refund of their withholding, and would get $2,669 in refundable EITC. That is how our current tax system works. The new EITC tables have not been released as yet, but it looks like these same taxpayers would get a refund of about $3,203 in 2009. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act practically guarantees our tax system will continue to work in the same old way far into the future.

The second provision affecting these same taxpayers allows more taxpayers to participate in the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). For each dependent under the age of 17, $1,000 of CTC is allowed. However, for 2008, basically only taxpayers with earnings in excess of $12,550 would qualify for a refundable CTC. The new law allows this refundable portion to start with earnings in excess of $3,000. The previously noted joint taxpayers with $29,000 and three children would receive an additional $3,000 of refundable CTC in addition to the $3,203 of refundable EITC for a total minimum refund of $6,203.

I think it’s fair to say that providing for a family of five on $29,000 of income would prove to be a difficult proposition in the best of times, so the $6,203 would be very helpful, especially today. I think it’s also fair to say that our politicians repeatedly misrepresent our tax system. Our above taxpayers actually pay zero tax due to available credits and deductions. In fact, over 40% of all taxpayers, after credits and deductions, pay zero tax. The AR&R Act dramatically expands the number of taxpayers who will pay zero tax and could result in over 50% of taxpayers paying zero tax. Eventually, the AR&R will put more burden and pressure on those who are paying tax. I don’t have a solution to our tax system, but I do have a problem with the presentation of “tax relief.”

A third provision that would benefit not only the above taxpayers but many other taxpayers as well is the newly expanded Hope Scholarship Credit, which will now be called the American Opportunity Tax Credit and will apply to the 2009 and 2010 tax years. The old Hope Scholarship Credit (HSC) was not refundable; 40% of the new American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is refundable. The old HSC was totally phased out for single taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $58,000 and joint filers with income of $116,000. AOTC increases these phase-out amounts dramatically so that single filers with income up to $80,000 and joint filers with income up to $180,000 will still qualify for some credit. The old HSC limited the term “qualified expenses” upon which the credit is calculated to include just tuition and some fees. AOTC expands qualified expenses to include all required course materials such as books or other publications. AOTC increases the maximum amount of available credit up to $2,500, with up to $1,000 of this credit refundable.

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 is full of provisions such as the above three examples. I will continue to explain the act in future articles.

This is Jerry Coon signing off.

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent.
He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Dr in Rockford.
His email address is jcoon@actiontaxservice.com

Posted in Tax Attic | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slowed Down

by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN
First Congregational Church

Lately I’ve been driving like someone who would have driven me crazy just a while ago. I am a few weeks post-surgery and still moving in slow motion more than I realize. I look in my rearview mirror to see someone on my tail and think, “What’s your rush?” Just six weeks ago I would have been that one riding the tail of someone barely going the speed limit. My time was booked beyond capacity. I had places to go and people to see in a short period of time. So time was of the essence. Now, my job is to heal.

It’s good to experience times that force you to get out of the fast lane. I find myself surprised at the rush attitude of others and realize that I’m usually in that mode.

Right now I’m being cared for by others and have time to write thank-you notes for their gifts of kindness. I’m playing games with my children and reading books that have collected dust on my nightstand for several years.

As I gain strength, I find my thoughts and energies returning to my job and the creative juices start to flow into my professional return. As I spend more time alone at home healing, I wonder why it is in my ministry that I find it so hard to carve out time for home visits. Wouldn’t this be an obvious priority? Surely, I resolve, when I return I will make more time for visiting others who are struggling with one of life’s bumps. And some of the less important stuff will remain undone.

The right lane of traffic isn’t such a bad place to be. As people are lovingly the Body of Christ for me, I am invigorated to reach out more fully from the gifts God has given to me. Isn’t this what Jesus said to his confused disciples long ago? “As you have done it to one of the least of these in my family, you have done it unto me.”

The person on your tail has the passing lane, after all. So slow down and connect with those in the right lane, for Christ’s sake.

Posted in Faith Message | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Classifieds – March 5, 2009

HELP WANTED

NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED. Professional career opportunity with unlimited income potential. We will assist in licensing. Full-time position available for busy real estate office. Call Lew Boersma, Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt/Rockford office, (616) 866-4434. b11


JOB OPPORTUNITY – Looking for someone who wants to do more than just a sales job. The Cedar Springs Post Newspaper has an opening for someone who is creative, organized and likes working with people to join our company team. Not boring. Commission means you can make your own salary, depending on your commitment level. Must have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license. Benefits available. If interested, send resume to superman49@charter.net, or fax to (616) 696-9010, or mail to PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. ftfn


ADVERTISING SALES – Great income potential. Commission- and territory-based sales position available for local newspaper. No experience necessary, but helpful; will train. Come work in a fun and exciting environment! E-mail resume to: squiremail@aol.com (put SALES POSITION in subject line), or call Beth at (616) 866-4465. ftfn

CRAFTS

Please join us for a craft/home business show at the United Methodist Church, 159 Maple St., Rockford, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 7. At least 20 vendors on site offering great sales. Call (616) 881-2426 for more details. p10

AUTOS FOR SALE

1999 Dodge Caravan – good tires, has handicap ramp, runs well. $2,800 o.b.o. (616) 675-4666. b10


1999 Honda Accord – loaded, power moonroof, and leather seats. Full maintenance records. $5,995 o.b.o. (616) 291-4969. b10


2001 GMC Sonoma pickup – 4-wheel drive, all power, great condition! New motor, brakes, tires. $4,995 o.b.o. (616) 291-4969. b10

FOR RENT

Cedar Springs: New house on quiet cul-de-sac. Large back yard with adjoining nature trail. Four bedrooms, two baths. Pets upon approval. $875 per month plus utilities. (616) 813-6572. b10


Rockford studio for rent. $85/week, includes microwave, refrigerator, all utilities and cable. No pets. Call (616) 874-9537 or (616) 560-1642. p10


PUBLISHER’S NOTICE: All real estate advertising in this newspaper is subject to the Fair Housing Act and the Michigan Civil Rights Act which collectively make it illegal to advertise “any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, age or marital status, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination.” Familial status includes children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18. This newspaper will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. Our readers are hereby informed that all dwellings advertised in this newspaper are available on an equal opportunity basis. To report discrimination, call the Fair Housing Center at 616-451-2980. The HUD toll-free telephone number for the hearing impaired is 1-800-927-9275.

CLASSES & LESSONS

“Always the Best!” Once you go, then you’ll know! Six 1-hour golf lessons – $69. Starting week of April 13. Master teaching professional, Norm Davidson. Golf Emporium, 14 Mile, Rockford. (616) 754-2280. b21


Learn how to make stained glass windows, lamps, and more! 35 years experience. Also learn how to make your own glass beads. Lots of fun! (616) 866-2909. p11


Guitar Lessons – Learn guitar the RIGHT way and enjoy it for a lifetime. Lessons also on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, etc. Call Joe (616) 874-8582. btfn

SERVICES

New home construction/design and services. Additions, remodeling, garages, decks, home improvements and repairs. Licensed and insured. Bridgewater Homes. (616) 560-2630. p13


H.O.M.E. Senior Care – Professional home care services for seniors. We offer exceptional care at affordable rates. Office: (616) 696-8735. p13


G&S Tours Casino Trips – Little River – Wednesday pick-up Cedar Springs. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday pick-up Alpine Target. Mid- Michigan, March 29 & 30. Escanaba Green Bay, April 24, 25, 26. Information call (877) 906-4653. p10


Advocare Assisted Living – I have one opening for an independent senior. Country setting in Rockford area. Private room with cable, meals provided, laundry and activities. Call for more information (616) 862-6712. btfn


I’ll design your flier, brochure, business card for a low rate! Other graphic design also available. Over 17 years experience. Professional design guaranteed. Flier design starting at $30. References available. Call Melanie Ragsdale at (616) 889-9082 or view design samples online at ragsdaledesign.com. ftfn

LOST & FOUND

The Rockford Squire’s “Free Pets” and “Lost & Found” classified ads are free of charge. Call (616) 866-4465 by noon on Monday to place your ad in next Thursday’s issue.


LOST – 11-year-old black-and-white male cat. Declawed, right ear misshapen. Last seen on Hessler Dr. in Rockford on Friday, Feb. 20. Call (616) 874-1702, leave a message. ftfn.


LOST – golden retriever. 14 years old. Last seen on Sunday, February 8 on Young Ave., between 9 and 10 Mile roads. Call (616) 874-9066. ftfn


LOST – female beagle with pink collar, last seen around the Childsdale/White Pine Trail area on Saturday, February 14. (616) 696-0367. ftfn


FOUND – gift certificate and a large book found on corner of River Chase and Greystone on New Year’s Eve. Call (616) 450-4939 and identify. ftfn


LOST – large gray male, short-haired cat, unaltered. Lost near 11 Mile and Summit. Missing since Sunday, December 7. Please call (616) 866-4338. ftfn


FOUND – Chevrolet keys with keyless remote. Found in parking lot at 355 Northland Dr., next to MI State Police station. Call (616) 866-7050. ftfn


LOST – cockatiel, gray, one year old. Talks, whistles, friendly. Lost on September 8 from 18 Mile and Algoma area. Please call (616) 696-0839. ftfn


FOUND – Chrysler key found in the Courtland and 11 Mile Road area. Please call The Rockford Squire at (616) 866-4465. ftfn


LOST – small Siamese female cat, seal point, spayed. Lost west of river in Rockford near Jericho and Cahill. $50 reward! Call (616) 866-1021. ftfn

PETS & PET SUPPLIES

The Rockford Squire’s “Free Pets” and “Lost & Found” classified ads are free of charge. Call (616) 866-4465 by noon on Monday to place your ad in next Thursday’s issue.


Free – one calico cat, two to three years old, indoor/outdoor, plays well with kids. (616) 696-9225. ftfn


Kittens – playful, indoor, litter-trained. Two males, one female. Free to good homes. Call (616) 866-8633 or (616) 225-2322. ftfn

Posted in Classifieds | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sick of Gloom and Doom? Rockford Reports Positive News

by BETH ALTENA

frenzWe need to get over our pride and ego and get on with our lives, Frenz Coffehouse owner Rich Zeck believes.

He is one of many local businesess people who haven’t bought into the news that we are going through the worst of times.

“I can speak for myself because I have lost my job,” he said of a former high-paying career. Zeck opened his own shop after the job loss and also works another part-time job.

Zeck said he believes Americans have allowed their financial fear to dominate their lives and this has made things worse.

“What if there were no newspapers and no televisions? The economy ”d go about our business and have a life.” He believes the stockmarket slumps follow each dire news report as people hunker down, afraid to spend money and get on with things.

Zeck, who is also a college professor, said he understands the economy is a hot topic and his students want to discuss it at length. “It’s such an emotional issue,” he said.

Zeck believes there is plenty of good to be learned and practiced in tough times.

He said friends, neighbors and families helped each other out to make it through the Depression. We should take a page from that chapter of history.

“I knew we were in big trouble when people came in worried about the cost of a barrel of oil and gold,” he said. “That makes no difference to most people.”

Putting hope in corporations and companies rather than in people is part of the error behind economic troubles. “Two hundred years ago you were a seamstress and I was a farmer,” he said. “We helped each other out and did business together.”

Doing this today is what we should be doing, Zech believes. As a coffee shop owner, he has sent customers to the other coffee shops in town. “Too often it’s ‘Me, me, me.’ It’s not me, it’s just us.” He is a firm believer in paying it forward. “If we all took the time to help someone else out, what would that do?” he asked.

Zeck gave the example of people who have lost their jobs. “Get out and volunteer,” he said. “People lose their jobs, collect unemployment and sit around saying, ‘woe is me.’ There are others out there a lot worse than you. Go help. Go volunteer. We’ve got it so good, we have no idea how good we have it.”

The second part-time job Zeck took is in a gerontology organization that helps the poor elderly. After six weeks it has become his inspiration and the greatest thing he’s ever done with his life.

“It’s all perspective,” Zeck said. ” The economy is poor. It’s not the end of the world. Talk to the people in Haiti who have nothing. Talk to the mom who lost her husband in a crash on a snowy road.”

Mike Moyer has owned Bostwick Lake Bakery since 1993. He believes businesses should work together and consumers should shop locally and at locally-owned stores.

He used the examples of Rockford Ace Hardware, where the store is 70 to 80 percent smaller than a Lowes. “You can’t beat them. I bet their prices aren’t even higher and there are people there ready and able to help you.”

Another example Moyer noted was Rockford Floor Covering. He said shops like this are what make Rockford unique and keep our economy local and vibrant. “It is a huge advantage to do business locally,” he said.

Don Kurylowicz, owner of Cannonsburg Grist Mill, Cannonsburg Market and Honey Creek Inn, offered his thoughts on the economy during a Rotary meeting on Tuesday, February 24.

He said he changed his college major in the ’70s because things were so bad. “We were involved in two wars, our president was being impeached, there was no gas, inflation was high,” he said. Kurylowicz eventually studied business and bought a bar in Cannonsburg, and is in his 25th year there.

“You don’t succeed in business, you survive it,” he stated. Now, he said he sees a positive outlook for West Michigan.

Mark Bivins, owner of Creative Concepts Plus on Courtland Street, likewise sees plenty of reason for optimism. “We live in a bubble in West Michigan. We felt the downswing first and maybe we will be the ones to come out of it soonest. I have a lot to look forward to.”

Zeck advised that even in tough times, there is plenty to appreciate. “I have a lot to be grateful for. I have my family, children, health. We all make choices in life. I chose not to be fearful and participate in a bad economy. Your coffee cup is either half empty or half full.”

Posted in Top News Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment