Gunning Daily News

Question of the Day

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

Q: Can I contest my property taxes?

A: Many people do, mainly because determining value can often be tricky. This is especially true in a changing market when local prices either take off dramatically or plunge precipitously, like during the Texas oil bust of the 1980s.

While it is up to a professional assessor to evaluate property value for tax purposes, property owners are usually allowed to contest their assessment until a certain date after they are made public.

Once you contest, you will have to prove why you think your property is worth less-few homeowners contest hoping to pay more taxes! The two most popular ways for determining value are an appraisal and a comparative market analysis. With an appraisal, a professional estimates the property's market value based on recent sales of comparable properties. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent based on similar sales and property attributes. Most agents will offer free analyses to win your business.

Contact your local tax assessor's office for procedures on appealing your property tax assessment.

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New Soda Can Top Solves Sanitation Problem and Offers Advertising Opportunity

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011- During lectures and market tests in Texas middle schools, Team Advercan has proven the ultimate weapon to win the global Cola War. The weapon? A simple, biodegradable, no-cost sanitary can top cover that protects consumers from germs (bacteria, viruses, etc.) and acts as a coupon.

Amy Cannon, Advercan's in-school assistant, exclaims, "McGruff the Crime Dog picked Pepsi when given a choice, but as soon as we put Advercan's Clean Cap on the Coke can, he wagged his tail and pawed for Coke!" Emily A., a 7th grader, says, "I'm glad someone cares enough about others' health to make this happen. I would definitely drink whatever soda had a sanitary seal." Carissa S. admits, "I would switch from Pepsi to Coke if there was a chance to win Justin Bieber tickets on the top." One student didn't like Coke or Pepsi, but said she'd switch from Sprite to 7UP if it had an Advercan cover on it.

"Our student polls show over 99 percent brand switching! There is almost no brand loyalty when we put a sanitary seal with a coupon on top," claims Advercan's founder, Kenny Mac McClintock. "We polled a few middle-school classes, a city jazz fest, a film festival, and health/wellness fair attendees for brand loyalty. Only three soda fans were brand loyal out of a couple hundred polled! Even Dallas Film Festival patrons were 100 percent non-loyal when presented with a sanitary can cover and movie coupon offer."

Not only is Advercan's "AmeriCANtop" paid for by second-party advertisers and assures can-top hygiene, it also assures brand dominance. What of the billions of dollars in CanAd revenues to be gained? $35 billion is being spent on unwanted Direct Mail annually, so why not net-net a few billion of this spending by selling can-top coupon space globally?

The Beverage Companies should want to cover their cans because of market share increase, new branding space, POP snack ads, fast food pouring rights, safeguarding, theme park ads, prizing, scent, taste; anything to increase the profitability and allure of the soda/beer package. Oh, and of course massive new advertising revenue streams from can-top coupons and PPC. Jerry Clapp of Cott Bottling once said it best: "It's all about the Doe Re Mi!"

The leading expert of our decade-long quest, Thomas Bachman of Beverage Industry Magazine, states, "The Advercan system is the right idea at the right time whose time has literally come. With today's safety concerns about product contamination and the need for unique brand expansion opportunities, the Advercan can top cover looks to be the most consumer-friendly and efficient way to answer these concerns." Advercan exec, Grady Embry remarks, "Advercan has proven a multibillion-dollar marketing revenue business plan along with sanitary safety for its consumers. Why not profit several billion off marketing and prevent the spread of pathogens?

"If the beverage companies say that there isn't a yucky can top problem, let's have their kids line up to buy cans from an H1N1-positive cashier before Christmas break," sites Michelle A., Middle School Teacher, TX.

For more information, please visit

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Fine Homebuilding Magazine Awards New Home of the Year

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011-New Energy Works Timberframers received Fine Homebuilding's New Home of the Year Award for The Vermont Street Project, a sustainably designed and built timber frame home in Portland, Oregon. The home is featured in Fine Homebuilding's 2011 HOUSES issue along with 11 finalists.

Inclusion in Fine Homebuilding's Annual HOUSES is one of the most prestigious honors a design/build professional can receive, while winning New Home of The Year is akin to winning The World Series. HOUSES features just twelve homes out of the hundreds of applications sent in from around the globe.

Fine Homebuilding Special Editions Editor Charles Miller comments on this year's winner, stating that "the house expertly balances a contemporary floor plan with traditional detailing rendered in sustainable materials. And its state-of-the-art mechanical systems will substantially lower its demand for energy and water usage for decades."

"The Vermont Street Project is a living example of greater sustainability in a design and craft intensive home," says Jonathan Orpin, President, New Energy Works Timber Framers.

Design and construction of the project was approached with the principle that a well built home stands on four legs:

1: A long-lasting, thermally efficient structure

2: Advanced and efficient mechanical systems

3: Sustainable structural and finish materials

4: A plan tailored to the family's needs and to carefully crafted, coherent detailing

Features include: a reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame; reclaimed elm and oak flooring; interior woodworking using reclaimed walnut (cabinets/interior doors); solid wood framed windows; recycled redwood siding; antique barn siding; photovoltaic panels; solar hot water panels; rainwater collection system; SIPs panels; recycled wood and cement form blocks; natural plaster wall coverings; a high efficiency boiler, and more. For details visit The Vermont Street Project.

Partners who collaborated on this project: Pioneer Millworks, Basco Appliance, Chown Hardware, Custom-Bilt Metals, Dimensional Millwork, Inc., ecohaus, Evolution Floors, GLD DesignStudio, Imaginenergy, Landscape East & West, Loren Nelson Photography, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Traditional Natural Plaster Company, Premier Building Systems, and Shelter Works.

For more information visit

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

May is National Physical Fitness Month: Especially Important for Those Over 40, Says Xenna CEO

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011-May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Xenna Corporation joins the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to challenge Americans to get moving for health and to get active during the month of May.

Xenna-which manufactures in the USA and distributes natural foot care products nationwide through major chains-has an ongoing commitment to educating consumers about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking proper care of their feet. The company also uses natural ingredients in their products.

CEO Carol J. Buck says, "While exercise is important for all ages, physical fitness becomes even more critical after 40, when muscle loss begins to occur. We know that even 30 minutes a day, broken up into shorter increments of ten or fifteen minutes, can greatly improve health, mental well-being and fight signs of aging."

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports maintains that success depends on two factors:

1. Being convinced of the benefits of fitness

2. Understanding the risks associated with being unfit

Buck says, "After making a commitment to becoming active, it's important to be patient and look for gradual improvement. As you exercise, pay attention to what your body, including your feet, tells you. If you feel discomfort, you may be trying to do too much too fast."

As the author of Born to Run, Christopher McDougall points out, "If it's work, you are running too fast." For those who dare to enjoy the pleasures of running barefoot the appearance of one's feet are even more "center stage".

The importance of foot care in exercising is also stressed by the American Podiatric Medical Association. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, an APMA affiliate, people don't realize the tremendous pressure that is put on their feet while exercising. When a 150-pound jogger runs three miles, the cumulative impact on each foot is more than 150 tons!

Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Taking care of both feet and joints while participating in a good exercise program is also essential to long-term success, especially for older individuals.

"Exercise takes a mental commitment," says Buck. "Human nature being what it is, any excuse to skip a day-be it the weather, your schedule or your feet-will be used. Habits take about 21 days to take hold in the brain. So the first 3 weeks of any exercise program are the hardest mentally. It will take enormous will-power to exercise daily at the beginning. But once the new habit is formed the reverse happens: Exercising is anticipated, effortless and even regretted if a session is cancelled."

According to many podiatrists and other foot care experts, one of the deterrents to regular or group exercise is embarrassment about the appearance of unattractive feet or toenails. Buck says, "Proper foot care, from heel to toe, makes adhering to exercise regimens easier because feet and toenails are no longer an embarrassment in places such as the exercise floor or at the pool for water aerobics."

For more information visit

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Spring Accessorizing Ideas for Backyard Patios

May 16, 2011 9:51 am

RISMEDIA, May 16, 2011-New information on offers ideas on how to properly accessorize patios for spring entertaining and enjoyment. Covering a range of outdoor amenities, homeowners can browse through information on how to create a functional and welcoming retreat.

Accessorize concrete patios this spring with amenities that make outdoor entertaining and relaxation a breeze. is offering a handy guide to choosing the right patio amenities to create a functional and welcoming retreat. Explore concrete seat walls, outdoor fireplaces, water features and much more for patios.

With hundreds of options for accessorizing a patio area, choosing which amenities to include and which to leave out can be a difficult task. Based on overall patio size, consumers should prioritize which amenities they want, which they really need and which will fit properly in the allotted space.

Some of the most popular accessories consumers will want to research are seat walls, building an outdoor kitchen, adding a fireplace or fire pit, incorporating a water feature, outdoor furniture, landscape lighting, pots and planters, and many more. Homeowners can find products that meet virtually any need and desire.

Once the primary function and purpose of a patio has been determined, consumers will be better equipped to research and explore the many patio accessories available in today's market.

Visit for more information.

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

Word of the Day

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

Townhouse. Usually a two- or three-story dwelling with shared walls, or a living unit operating under the condominium or townhouse form of ownership.

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

Question of the Day

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

Q: Are special tax breaks available for historic rehabilitation?

A: Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the government. The tax code does not allow deductions for the demolition or significant alteration of a historic structure.

For more information, contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6000, or visit its website at

Many states offer tax incentives, reductions and abatement programs for owners of residential historic homes. These programs are described on the National Trust's website.

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

Eco-Friendly Reclaimed Oak Featured in Major League Baseball Fan Cave

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011- Major League Baseball (MLB) has created a Fan Cave where two contest winners are viewing every MLB game including post season games. The unique 15,000 square foot space in lower Manhattan will play out against a back drop of salvaged wood, specifically Reclaimed Oak from Pioneer Millworks, a leader in the reclaimed and sustainable wood industry. To see the character of this old wood, tune in and pay attention to the paneling and flooring in the main viewing/broadcasting area of the MLB Fan Cave.

The designers of the MLB Fan Cave turned to Pioneer Millworks in their search for reclaimed wood with character. "When you stop and think about the history of reclaimed wood, you begin to see why it's so prized: the timbers and boards we mill into flooring were often cut in the mid 1800s from trees that probably started to grow in the 1600s. Now, they have a new life as eco-friendly flooring and paneling in the MLB Fan Cave," says Roblyn Powley, design and wood expert at Pioneer Millworks. "Custom made to order in our shop, our FSC-Certified reclaimed wood is hand crafted and precisely milled making installation quick and easy for various applications, including flooring and paneling."

A large wall of windows facing the street will allow fans to look in, catch a glimpse of the Reclaimed Oak as well as the broadcast area of the MLB Fan Cave. "The MLB Fan Cave will give fans a creative new way to experience Major League Baseball," says Tim Brosnan, the Executive Vice President of Business for the MLB. "This is going to be a real-time experience which brings to life how people consume entertainment in 2011 with baseball at the center of it all."

Crafting all their products in USA, Pioneer Millworks offers over 40 species of reclaimed wood, all with character marks, deep patina and tight gain patterns unmatched by fresh sawn. In addition to deep patina and tight grain, Pioneer Millworks' Reclaimed Oak is storied with original nail holes, ferrous staining, natural fissures, and even saw marks. A very durable hardwood, Reclaimed Oak will withstand wear and tear in the MLB Fan Cave, gaining even more character as it is lived on.

Pioneer Millworks is popular among designers and home owners because their story and products are unique: They 'rescue' wood from agricultural and industrial buildings that have outlived their usefulness or are headed to landfills or the grinder. They then give it new life as flooring or paneling from their New York and Oregon shops.

For more information, please visit

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

Spring and Summer Showers Bring Slippery Roads: Tips to Keep Drivers Safe duringWet Weather

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Spring and summer weather mean more rain showers in many parts of the U.S., which can result in treacherous driving conditions. Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement with more than one half million persons injured and 5,700 killed, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. AAA reminds motorists to brush up on their wet-weather driving techniques before they get caught out in the rain.

"It's very easy for drivers to lose control of their vehicles during rainy conditions," says Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA National Manager of Driver Training Programs. "Conditions are most dangerous during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour as oil and debris first rise to the road's surface, then wash away. Knowing how to handle poor traction reduces the potential for hydroplaning, skidding or sliding off the road completely."

Safety Starts before You Drive

Before wet weather hits, it's important to prepare your car in advance. Replace windshield wipers that leave streaks or don't clear the glass in a single swipe. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to twelve months, depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and replacement is needed.

Also, make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning to be sure other drivers will see you during downpours.

Tire tread depth and inflation also is imperative to maintaining good traction with the roadway during wet weather. To check tread depth, insert a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington's head at any point, start shopping for new tires. Check the tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month when the tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner's manual, or those on the tire information label that is located in the glove box or on the driver's door jamb. Do not use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall; this is the pressure needed to achieve the tire's maximum rated load capacity, and it may or may not be the correct pressure for your particular car. Uneven or excessive wear of the tire tread may indicate the need for suspension repair or wheel alignment, both of which will extend the life of your tires.

Avoid Cruise Control

Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car's speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

When driving in wet-weather conditions, it is important to concentrate fully on every aspect of driving. Avoiding cruise control will allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Slow Down and Leave Room

Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car's chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

To reduce chances of hydroplaning, drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it's important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

Responding to a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car begin to skid, it's important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

Continue to look and steer in the direction in which the driver wants the car to go.

Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle's balance and make it harder to control.

For more information, please visit

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

Consumer Demand Driving Improved Retail Performance

May 14, 2011 9:21 am

RISMEDIA, May 14, 2011-Senior financial executives of global retail companies expect improved financial performance in 2011, as a result of increasing consumer demand, but many indicate that their companies will have difficulty raising prices and sustaining profit margins, according to a survey by KPMG International.

In the KPMG global survey of 152 retail executives, 24 percent expect "significant increases" in financial performance over last year and 51 percent are expecting "some increase." Only nine percent expect a decline in performance. This optimistic view is a result of seeing an increase in consumer demand. In fact, 18 percent say they've already seen a sustained increase in demand for their company's products and services since the economic slowdown, while 54 percent expect sustained demand in 2011, and 24 percent in 2012 or later.

Despite the growth in demand, 58 percent of the KPMG survey respondents say that their companies will have difficulty raising prices in 2011 and 41 percent say that their firms will have difficulty sustaining profit margins. In identifying the greatest threats to margins, 56 percent point to costs of inputs or merchandise and 47 percent to discounting and other sales incentives.

"Retail executives are seeing strong top line growth, but in order to generate growth and success in the years ahead, their companies will need to reconsider and often recast their understanding of customers, markets, and their means of serving them, as well as the level of investment that it will take to succeed going forward," says Mark Larson, KPMG's Global Head of Retail.

"With consumer behavior, spending, and demographic profiles changing rapidly," Larson says, "a key to success will be investing in technology to harness the vast amounts of data that reside in a company. That data can derive the insights that lead to the new markets, new strategies and new operating models that will ultimately generate growth and profitability," Larson says.

As to how they believe their firms can increase market share, 46 percent say primarily through organic growth initiatives, 22 percent say through a mix of organic growth and M&A, and 22 percent primarily through M&A.

Forty-four percent of the retail executives in the KPMG survey believe that it is "very likely" that their companies will enter new geographic markets in 2011 and 30 percent say "somewhat likely". In expressing how they will expand, 53 percent say by opening new stores, 39 percent say through additional distribution channels (including online), and 21 percent say through mergers and acquisitions.

Asia (49 percent) and the United States (48 percent) were identified as the global regions where the retail executives expect the greatest growth in company sales. The next two regions were Latin America (44 percent) and India (40 percent).

KPMG's Larson believes that, "We're witnessing the beginnings of a cost-to-growth agenda in retail characterized by a renewed focus on growth, while preserving margins, and investing in IT. The sector has learned the hard way that it can't take its eye off the ball of cost management."

In fact, according to executives surveyed by KPMG, retailers will pursue major investment in customer relationship management systems, business intelligence systems, and enterprise resource systems for transaction processing.

In improving supply chain efficiency and costs over the next two years, the retail execs-in order of priority-see enhancing distribution structure, investing in production or distribution technology, decreasing inventory levels, and consolidating suppliers as the greatest priorities.

KPMG conducted its survey in the first quarter of this year and conducted another phase in April to gauge how crisis in the Middle East and Japan in April may have impacted operations. Sixty-four percent report little or no impact on their business operations, while 31 percent report moderate impact, with five percent seeing a dramatic impact. When presented with an array of issues, 61 percent say they expect "energy, input, and merchandise prices" will be most affected, followed by 35 percent who say "availability of goods and services from my company's suppliers."

For more information, please visit

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