Gunning Daily News

Question of the Day

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

Q: Are victims whose homes are damaged by natural disasters granted any tax relief?

A: Damage, destruction, or loss of property from fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters are deductible from both state and federal income taxes.

If destruction is caused by an event deemed a federal disaster by the president, homeowners can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return. This helps to dramatically cut the wait for tax refund money that can immediately be used to make repairs or pay for living expenses.

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Word of the Day

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

Title insurance. An insurance policy that protects against any losses incurred because of defects in the title not listed in the title report or abstract.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Learn What Toxins in Crib Mattresses Could Be Harming Your Children and How to Protect Them

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 12, 2011-A new mother's job is to protect her baby. An expectant mother keeps their baby warm and safe for 9 months, but how does a mother keep their baby safe from hidden dangers when setting up a nursery? The crib mattress is one of the most important purchases parents make, as babies sleep in their crib for the first two years. It's imperative that consumers are educated before choosing a crib mattress in order to protect their family from the many hidden dangers.

Pesticides not detected by the naked eye in non organic mattress are poisonous and lethal to children and adults. Consumers' confusion on organic practices and understanding labeling makes it difficult choosing the right crib mattress. Mattresses produced by the Futon Shop-an organic mattress and crib mattress manufacturer-are are one example of a mattress made from quality organic material, which protects families from harmful chemicals.

You want to be sure that the cotton used in the mattress is grown without toxic chemicals and pesticides, which helps make the world a healthier place. In order for cotton to be certified organic, farmers rely on crop rotation that replenish and maintain soil fertility while botanical means are used to control pests and weeds. The USDA only certifies cotton as organic when a field is pesticide-free for three years prior to planting. According to the Organic Trade Association, Dr. Chensheng Lu of the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health has found that less pesticide exposure during pregnancy means fewer risks to your babies for a variety of diseases that can manifest years later.

There are Organic mattresses and crib mattresses available online that appear to be labeled and designed safe for your child, but this does not mean they are. Many companies and websites have classified their product "green" or "organic," but when you look a little closer, you will find that companies are using deceptive green labeling that misleads customers. Every year there are hundreds of babies that get sick or die from dangers in toys and mattresses. According to Forbes, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 44 toys in fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 30, and several more in October and November.

The FDA and Consumer Product Safety Commission have issued general warnings regarding the use of phthalates and their dangers to our health, yet the PVC surfaces of baby mattresses still contain the phthalates Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Barry A. Chief Engineer, G.E.M. Testing & Engineering Labs completed a Toxicity Analysis of Baby Mattresses in which he found all plastics are not created equal. The "vinyl" surface typically used in baby mattresses is actually PVC, which is made from vinyl chloride-a combination of petroleum (ethylene) and chlorine. This particular plastic is far more toxic than the plastic bag you might use to pack your lunch. To keep you and your family safe, the waterproof organic cotton crib mattress protectors offered by companies similar to The Futon Shop containing no harmful metals or VOC.

Groundbreaking research from Dr. Jim Sprott, OBE, a New Zealand scientist and chemist, states with certainty that crib death is caused by toxic gases, which can be generated from a baby's mattress. Chemical compounds containing phosphorus, arsenic and antimony have been added to mattresses as fire retardants and for other purposes since the early 1950s. A fungus that commonly grows in bedding can interact with these chemicals to create poisonous gases (Richardson 1994).

The Futon Shop is located in San Francisco, and has been producing hand-made premium futon sofa beds, organic futons, organic crib mattresses, covers and organic bedding since 1976.

For more information visit

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Copper Sprinklers Offer Habitat Families Fire Protection

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 12, 2011-When Habitat for Humanity St. Louis (HFHSL) identified vacant property just north of downtown, the construction team wanted to build homes that were not only energy efficient but safe for its new tenants.

And with Model Building Codes now requiring new single- and two-family dwellings to be outfitted with sprinkler systems, Habitat chose to go with copper systems for all of its new homes, including the six that were completed this spring.

While state building codes across the country are becoming aware of the life-saving potential of installing fire sprinklers, copper lends itself perfectly for handling the installations.

"Copper is probably the best product to use, period-because it lasts forever," says Scott Usher, the superintendent for Fire Protection Services, the company that installed the sprinkler systems. "Once you put it in and it's done properly it requires almost no maintenance. Copper really is the best way to go when it comes to these types of dwellings."

While some plastic materials are approved for use in residential fire sprinkler systems, they can't be used in exposed locations such as basements, crawlspaces, attics and garages without being protected behind a fire-rated barrier-an additional construction cost. Since copper doesn't burn, doesn't support combustion, and doesn't emit potentially toxic fumes when subjected to fire, it is the safe, smart choice.

"Copper is the ideal choice for sprinkler systems because it's not only lightweight, durable and able to withstand extreme temperatures, it's also easier to work with and install because of its slimmer profile," says Andy Kireta Jr., vice president of building and construction for the Copper Development Association. "You can't put a price on fire safety, and with new homes requiring sprinkler systems, this adds another level of protection for the homeowner and their loved ones."

Copper systems also offer economic advantages, including lower maintenance costs and long-term performance. Copper's high recycled content and limitless recyclability support green construction practices as well.

Through the generous support of local companies and contractors, Habitat was able to secure the materials, services and labor for the project.

For more information about copper sprinkler systems, please visit

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Baby Boomers Bring New Boom, as Entrepreneurs

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 12, 2011-Industry indicators from commercial loan experts to minority-owned businesses to health care providers are reporting a boom in entrepreneurs seeking and engaging in new business opportunities.

"The economic downturn had the negative impact of placing a significant number of talented professionals in the market for a new job," says Kris Roglieri, president of Commercial Capital Training Group. "Many of these professionals looked for opportunities to control their future while at the same time learning new skills in an unstable economy."

One of the key demographics creating this shift is baby boomers. As this population prepares to retire, a growing number are not willing to just rest on their nest egg. A recent trend noted by Entrepreneur Magazine shows that "would-be retirees are taking over the workforce. Some experts even expect a boom in entrepreneurship as healthcare reform takes effect."

In addition, many baby boomers are searching for financial independence through commercial loan opportunities. Commercial Capital Training Group is witnessing this trend as a growing number of baby boomers from across the country enroll in the new six-day training program.

The Commercial Capital Training Group is an intense six-day training program, which provides business leaders with in-depth knowledge of dozens of lending products, industry know-how and marketing expertise to help them start their own commercial finance business. Since 2009, Commercial Capital Training Group has produced more than 150 financial experts who have gone on to facilitate a wide variety of loans from equipment leasing to stock loans to commercial real estate loans to Small Business loans, among many others.

"In the past year we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of professionals enrolling in our intensive training program as they reach retirement age," says Roglieri. "With an unstable economy and a large number of baby boomers preparing for retirement, many are looking for opportunities to supplement their retirement income."

The Commercial Capital Training Group has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of baby boomers in the past year. In addition, the training group is seeing more women and individuals representing minority groups participating, which reflects national trends.

For more information visit

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Learn Safe Handling of Gasoline to Avoid Turning Summer Fun into Tragedy

May 12, 2011 8:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 12, 2011-Barbecuing and gathering around the campfire are summertime rituals for many families. This season, parents across the country are working to keep outdoor fun from turning into tragedy by spreading the word that gas and fire never mix.

"Eighty percent of parents do not use gas to start fires. It's just not what good parents do," says Amanda Emerson of "But our research shows some parents mistakenly think using gas to start a fire is a normal thing to do. It's not-and we need to get the word out to keep kids safe this summer."

Tips for parents in the safe handling of gasoline:

Never use gas to start a fire. Parents who mix gas and fire put themselves-and anyone near them-at risk of injury or death. Kids also learn by example.

Talk to your kids about gasoline. Teenager Austin Bailiff nearly died in a gas fire. Share his video with your child at

Keep gas out of reach of children. Out of sight isn't enough, for any age. Store your gasoline where children cannot access it. Many parents keep their gas in a locked location.

Use a proper container. Never use old soda bottles or other makeshift containers to store gas; someone might think it's a beverage and drink it. And even a small cup of gasoline can emit vapors and may ignite.

Store gasoline in a well-ventilated area outside your vehicle and living space. Consider a detached garage or outdoor storage shed.

Keep gas away from any source of heat, spark or flame. Even common household appliances like water heaters and clothes dryers can ignite gas vapors.

Read the warning label on your gas can. A list of safety precautions is imprinted on every approved portable gasoline container. Make sure you read the warnings if you store gasoline at home.

Visit for more information and to help spread the word to other parents.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Question of the Day

May 11, 2011 10:51 am

Q: Can I deduct improvements made to my home?

A: Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Your gain is defined as your home's selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

The IRS defines improvements as those items that "add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses" such as putting in new plumbing or wiring or adding another bathroom.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Word of the Day

May 11, 2011 10:51 am

Title report. A statement of the current condition of title for a parcel of land.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Prepare the Home for 2011 Hurricane Season

May 11, 2011 10:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-Batten down the hatches-plus the windows, the doors and the roof. Hurricane Season 2011 starts on June 1, and based on expert predictions, it could be a whopper.

At Colorado State University, forecasters believe the number of named storms will reach 16, and they predict there's a 72 percent chance that the entire United States coastline will be affected by at least one major hurricane landfall in 2011. The Weather Research Center in Houston has forecast at least 10 named storms in 2011 with six of them projected to intensify into hurricanes. And, they're predicting that coastal areas in west Florida, Louisiana and Alabama have a 90 percent chance that they'll be in the line of a dangerous hurricane.

"Homeowners all along the East Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico should prepare for potentially severe weather this year," says Jill F. Hasling, president of the Weather Research Center. "Now is the time to evaluate your home's exterior and determine how well it is prepared to withstand hurricane-force winds, torrential rain and flying debris."

Hasling speaks from experience. In 2008, Hurricane Ike reached into the Houston area doing significant damage to structures near the Weather Research Center. "We had impact-resistant Simonton StormBreaker Plus windows installed on our facility more than five years ago and they made all the difference in keeping our building safe during that storm," says Hasling. "We strongly advise people to make it a priority during Hurricane Preparedness Week, which is May 22 to 28, to completely evaluate the four most vulnerable areas of the home-windows, entry doors, the roof and the garage door. If any of these are compromised, the wind and rain that enters the home can cause extensive damage."

According to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler, selecting the right door for a home is also a critical decision. "Hurricane-force weather conditions can be extreme for hundreds of miles inland, so it's important that homeowners seriously consider upgrading with impact-resistant building products," says Kraeutler, host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Money Pit. "The Tru-Defense Door System found on Therma-Tru fiberglass entry doors maximizes the seal between the door and the frame to help keep out the damaging effects of wind and rain. This system is engineered to work together and meets building codes across the country, including in severe weather zones. One of the great things about this type of energy-efficient door construction is that it can be requested on both entry doors and patio doors."

Therma-Tru offers impact-resistant decorative glass options for its fiberglass entry doors, plus a line of Opaque Impact Rated Doors that are recommended for areas with the most potential to experience severe weather conditions. The doors are designed with a steel plate inside to help withstand hurricane force winds and are Florida code and High Velocity High Winds approved for Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

A home's roof is another vulnerable area during high winds and driving rain. Roofs should be examined yearly to determine if there are missing shingles, curling or splitting shingles, lifting shingles or loss of granules. Both straight line winds and pressurized winds can cause different damage-from uplifting the shingles off the roof to pushing intense wind-driven rain and flying debris onto the roof.

"Once air pressure moves through a hole in a roof and into the home during a hurricane, it can literally blow out the walls and windows of the house," says Kraeutler. "It's vital for homeowners in potential hurricane areas to have well-installed, solid roofs overhead to protect their homes and prized possessions."

Backed by a limited 50-year warranty, the virtually maintenance-free polymer slate and shake roofing tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes have achieved Class 4 ratings for impact resistance along with the Miami Dade County Acceptance (High Velocity Hurricane Winds) and TDI, showing that the roofing tiles can withstand hurricane-force winds. In addition, DaVinci roofing tiles are rated Class A for fire retardance and have achieved the highest rating for straight line wind testing at 110 mph.

"Homeowners should make sure they have proper bracing, such as galvanized metal hurricane straps, to connect the roof to the walls of the home," says Kraeutler. "This can help prevent uplift during hurricane-force winds. For a second step, consider impact-resistant polymer roofing tiles that have been formulated and tested to withstand hurricane strength winds and severe impact. That's a winning combination for a roof."

Kraeutler stresses that homeowners should always follow direction of local authorities regarding evacuations and emergency procedures during severe weather. "More than likely in extreme weather situations, you'll have to evacuate," says Kraeutler. "But when you invest in impact-resistant building products that are always 'on guard' you can leave knowing that your family's home and cherished possessions are secure. That can bring incredible peace-of-mind during a highly stressful time."

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.

Custom Home Builders Expect Changes to Come in Environmentally Friendly Home Building

May 11, 2011 10:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 11, 2011-While green has already become the epicenter for new products and services alike, Frankel Building Group-full service custom home builders in Houston-is literally tapping into the sheer foundation for the changes to come within the building market for the next five to ten years. Efficiency, functionality and technology are going to evolve exponentially. Soaring energy costs are going to create a shift in the way people live and the way people use and conserve energy. Solar power, decreasing square-footage, layout and design are going to progress and adapt with the changing times ahead.

"Houses have gotten so sophisticated and energy efficient. Features such as dual speed air conditioning units, high efficiency water heaters, and insulated attics are considered standard," states custom home builder Scott Frankel.

"Building standards and codes are getting more and more official and difficult. The number of people that just call themselves builders is going to be minimized," states Frankel. "Your builder isn't just a contractor with a pencil in his ear, he needs to be like your doctor or accountant; a professional. You are going to him for expertise so that you have a healthy, excellent home that is sustainable long term."

Frankel Building Group's mantra provides families with green, sustainable living that is abiding, durable and timeless. Frankel Building Group aids in cutting costs, nevertheless, helping families live healthier and easily maintainable lives.

For more information visit

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.