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Posts published in “Day: January 11, 2007

Going to work for yourself? Plan ahead

Are you thinking of striking out on your own and joining the growing ranks of the self-employed? It’s an exciting prospect – and possibly a little scary. But you can remove some of the fear by doing whatever you can to prepare yourself financially for life as an entrepreneur.
What steps can you take? Here are a few to consider:

*Save as much as you can. Ideally, you would want to have a couple of years’ worth of living expenses saved before you go solo. But that’s a pretty tall order for most people. And if you have a spouse earning a good income, you may have less need to put away a large sum. Nonetheless, it’s almost always a good idea to save as much as you possibly can before becoming your own boss.
*Think twice before cashing out retirement plan. If you’re leaving a job that provided you with a 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) plan, you might be tempted to cash out your account to help pay for the transition to the world of self-employment. However, try to avoid this move. By liquidating your employer-sponsored plan, you will face early withdrawal penalties if you are younger than 59-1/2, and income taxes, too. Just as importantly, you will be depleting a valuable resource for your retirement. If at all possible, try to find other sources of income. For example, you may want to consider a home equity loan; interest rates on these loans are usually competitive, and your interest payments may be tax deductible. Be aware, though, that you will be using your house as collateral, so make sure you can afford the payments.
*Consider opening a new retirement plan. Once you make the jump to self-employment, start thinking of what type of retirement plan you might want to choose. Fortunately, you have some attractive options that offer both tax advantages and a wide range of investment choices. If your business has no employees except yourself and possibly your spouse, you may be able to establish a SEP-IRA or an “Owner-Only” 401(k). If you will have employees, you might want to consider a SIMPLE IRA or a “Safe Harbor” 401(k). Your tax adviser and investment professional can help you choose an appropriate plan.
*Pay yourself a regular “salary.” Depending on what type of business you are opening, you may well experience an uneven flow of income – which could, at times, force you to dip into your long-term investments to help you meet your daily and monthly expenses. To avoid this potential problem, consider paying yourself a regular “salary” out of your business’ earnings. It’s crucial that you live on a pre-agreed amount – even if the only person you have to agree with is yourself. Too often, entrepreneurs use up one month’s “paycheck” and then have nothing left in the next “down” month. But if you have the discipline to stay within the income you’ve allotted yourself, and your business succeeds, you should eventually build up a cash cushion that can be used for emergencies or investments.
Your career as an entrepreneur can be rewarding in many ways – and you’ll enjoy it even more if you make the right financial moves.

Crosby: Our second home

It is early morning, January 7, and I pen these words before heading out for church. This afternoon we begin the process of packing our bags for the 1,240-mile trip to Dave’s home in Newport. That is a long trip for us and we are thankful that he is here to help us with the driving. I’m rather anxious to see Crosby, Houston, etc. once again. I enjoy our visits there. We expect to be there this time for about three months.

Our visit will not be without some sadness as we have lost two dear friends in your community since our last visit.
Jim, “Jimmy,” Hays passed on in October, 2006. He lived just two doors from Dave and had become a family friend over these past six years. Jimmy was active in many ways in Newport and Crosby and I’m certain has been missed by a number of people.
We have had some communication, direct and through Dave, from Jim’s spouse, Georgia, since his passing and we are looking forward to seeing her again. However, it will not be the same since we will not be seeing Jimmy’s smile, his big howdy, and seeing him riding by on his golf cart heading for his favorite past-time.
The other loss is that of one Leonard Greenwade of the Crosby Methodist Church. We have been attending church there most Sundays we are in Crosby since Dave relocated to Crosby almost seven years ago. Leonard was a mainstay at the front door for the early service and always greeted us with a big smile, friendly handshake and kind words of welcome. For the past six winters we have attended church there every winter Sunday and I don’t think there was a Sunday morning we did not find Leonard at the front door.
It will not seem the same when we enter that door this year and not find him at his post. He, and son Kyle, also took up the offering and otherwise served as ushers for the early service each Sunday as well. I’m going to feel a little sadness when I enter for the first time this year—probably next Sunday.
As in the past we are looking forward to seeing the changes that have come to Crosby since last April. I know there are new businesses and I can’t imagine there now several new homes in Newport. Sometime during our visit Linda and I will be going over most streets looking at the newest of the new.
Family pet, Maggie, and I will soon resume our twice-daily walks in the Sea Palms, Challenger area of Newport and will see many friends and acquaintances during these strolls. I look forward to seeing all the youngin’s that come forth and give Maggie a big welcome. She is quite friendly and always returns the greetings. Maggie was a mere pup during our first visit and still has a lot of that puppy vigor.
If things go well, we should be arriving in Newport the same day or perhaps the day before you read this column. See you then.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my home!

Crosby doubles ambulance crews

CROSBY – On November 12, the ESD#5 Board put another ambulance crew in service to handle peak hours after six months in which the volume of calls increased from between 5% to 13 %.
The move was to reduce response time. While the national average is 9 minutes between calls and ambulance arrival as determined by U.S. Department of Transportation, Crosby is now running about 7 minutes.

Peak hours for ambulances in Crosby are 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 24 hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday, based on actual call averages, according to Christy Graves, Coordinator of Ambulance Services for ESD#5.
In the 6 months before that November, accidents became the most prevalent calls for the Crosby District, ahead of the expected respiratory distress. The volume of all calls accelerated from about 130 calls a month to an average of 154 calls per month with some months as many as 210 calls. Traffic accidents are currently about 18% of their ambulance calls.
Before the move, about 14 to 27 calls per month had required mutual aid for ambulances coming for longer distances outside the district. Longer distances mean longer response time before medical aid is rendered.
Medic #62 is a 2006 F-350 Ford Frazier diesel chassis purchased using a grant written by Christy Graves for $30,000 from the Texas Department of Health in addition to local taxes and user payments. Medic #63 is a 2007 F-350 Frazier diesel chassis with a remounted box of sirens, lights, medical equipment and graphics. The remounting saved $30,000.
Crosby’s ESD#5 is making preparations for a possible building expansion to replace aging ambulance equipment as it becomes economically sound.
The move to a second crew was prompted as an expected occurrence of increased calls from an increase in population density over the Crosby ISD area, that is the area covered by ESD#5 outside of mutual aid calls. This area entails from the South end of Indian Shores Road, South to the North end of Barbers Hill Road, West to Lake Houston and East to the Harris County Line.

Chisholm named Firefighter of the Year by Highlands VFD

HIGHLANDS– The top recognition given each year by the Highlands Volunteer Fire Department is the Firefighter of the Year. This honor is given in recognition of the firefighter who has by vote of the membership performed above and beyond the call of duty as a volunteer. This year’s recipient is Glenn Chisholm, Station 2 Chief.

The award was made at the Department’s Banquet last Saturday night, held at the Monument Inn. The Award is given in honor of the 42 years of service by volunteer fireman Cecil Kelly, who was on hand for the presentation. The actual award was made by board member Jerry Ickes on behalf of the whole department.
Other major awards presented at the dinner were the Citizen of the Year, to Cindy Birdsong Willingham, presented by her father Bobby Birdsong, and Business of the Year, to Kenneth & Sheila Vermillion of Glove Guard. They have helped for several years with the kid’s safety project and coloring books, and helped with the mailing of department information.
A new mascot was announced, and it is Alex McMorrow. Retiring is last year’s mascot, Michaela Mays.
One year service awards were given to Dustin Purvis, Timmie Hendricks, Blake Goldman, Jack Ickes, Jennifer Errisuriz, Daniel Spiers, Jessica Neal, and William Merrill.
Five year service awards went to Teresa Campbell, Sarah Tittel, Reggie Elliott, and Nick Matula.
Ten year service award went to Glenn Chisholm. Twenty year service awards went to Jeanette Thompson and Mary York.
Junior Firefighter of the year was awarded to Blake Goldman, and Rookie of the year honors went to Daniel Spiers.
Chief Harvey Little and EMS Chief Kacey Sammons presented an overview of the accomplishments of the department in the last year, and goals for the new year. Jackie Ickes presented a report on the training program.
In Chief Little’s report, the highlights included the safety of the department, short response times, and financial stability. Little mentioned that the public, and some members of the press, don’t understand that area departments work together in an “automatic response” and “automatic aid” program, and depending upon where the call comes from within the department’s 10 box assignment areas, any one of several departments may be dispatched to answer the call. The absence of Highlands equipment does not necessarily mean that they could not respond, but that a planned coverage is in effect, the Chief said.
Other accomplishments included purchase of a thermal imaging camera, initiation of a joint program with the Highlands Rotary to install free smoke alarms in area homes that request them. You can call the department at 281-843-2466 to join this program.
New equipment added this year includes a 2007 Chevy Brush Truck, replacing the old 1952 Duce and 1/2, a rechassied 1999 ambulance now on a 2006 Chevy diesel, and the donation of a 1999 Chevy Suburban Squad Car/Chief’s Car by the Little York VFD.
In her remarks, EMS head Sammons the new ambulance chassis, a Safety Day at Highlands Elementary School, 6 new paid employees to maintain a full time EMS staff, and upgraded cardiac monitors.
Chief Little said that the department will soon put on a recruiting drive, since the number of regular firefighters now stands at 34, although 60 positions are authorized. With apprentice, junior, retired, and EMS personnel, the total department manpower now stands at 75 members.
In reviewing call history for 2006, Little noted a 19% increase over the previous years.
There were a total of 1777 calls, of which 1419 were EMS, 358 fire responses, 792 ambulance transports, 137 motor vehicle accidents, and 32 LifeFlight calls.