Featured Stories 10 GOLF
12 Green Power
16 Facebook 18 SBDC
finance 22 Planning
28 Jason Spring
406 Profiles 30 Twinkle Clothing
C HR I S NEWT ON
Turn to page 11 to learn more about our cover girl! Photo by: Linda Ray
WOMAN 4 â€Żâ€Ż
Tara Rot h
Raised in a family of educators in the Deep South, Tara Roth was born and bred to share her family’s passion for education. After moving to the Midwest where she worked for retail giant Lands’ End promoting the company and its apparel to our nation’s top-tier media, she ventured out west to Montana and FVCC where she serves as director of communications and marketing. Tara and her husband Ben are the proud parents of 3-year-old River and his baby sister, Arbor. email@example.com
C hr is Parson
is a native of Montana. Since December of 2008, he has worked as the Small Business Development Director for NW Montana, located at Flathead Valley Community College. The Small Business Development Center provides business counseling in the areas of business planning, financial management and cash flow, marketing assistance, and general business management practices. His office offers one-on-one free counseling and conducts numerous training events for local businesses. Chris earned his bachelors of science in Economics with a Business Administration minor from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. In 2010 he was designated as an Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council and is trained as a professional facilitator. Prior to that, Chris served 10 years as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps including 3 tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Primarily a AH-1W helicopter pilot, Chris also had several other jobs including; Aviation Safety Officer, Air Officer/Forward Air Controller (responsible for controlling air/ artillery missions in designated airspace for ground forces), and Operations Officer. Chris enjoys the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Stephanie from running, skiing, hiking, hunting, boating, and anything else that they can find time for.
Kar i n Ho lder
is a limited Partner and Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments. Karin along with Daved, Her husband of 19 years, and her two boys, Warren age 15 and Easton age 10, live in the surrounding Whitefish area. Originally from Virginia, Karin and Daved made Montana their home in 1996 after realizing that they needed to be in and near the great outdoors. City life was not for them! Karin is a fully licensed Financial Advisor who is not only didicated to helping her clients in the local area but across the nation as well. Being a mom, wife and a career woman has given her the insight to help women of all walks and ages to plan for their individual and business financial goals. Karin can be reached by phone (406)862-5454 or at her convenient location 807 Spakane Ave, suite 500, Whitefish, MT.
Kr i sten Hami lt on
wears many hats these days. As founder and co-owner of Ham It Up Strategies, she and her husband, Bob, work with many clients on various projects to help them grown their business. Recent projects have included event planning and execution, magazine project management and sales, operations management, electronic newsletters, website development, and freelance writing. She particularly enjoys writing these days and is working on a novel in her spare time. She has lived in the valley for over twenty years and has an extensive background in tourism and working with non profit organizations. Kristen is grateful to her friends and colleagues who have supported her throughout the years. She knows the importance of giving back and therefore volunteers her time and services whenever she is able. In her free time, she enjoys the arts and concert offerings in the valley and tries to play outdoors as much as possible. Kristen is blessed to have a happy marriage and two terrific teenaged children who make her smile every day!
Kat y C r oft
is a Certified Public Accountant and a shareholder at Swiftcurrent Consulting & Accounting, P.C. She has an Associates degree from the University of Montana College of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree from Devry University. Her areas of expertise are income taxes, payroll taxes and bookkeeping. After running her own bookkeeping business in Missoula, she and her husband Dan relocated back to Kalispell to start a family. They have since welcomed Kyler, 4 and Adilyn, 1 to their family. Katy is a true Montana native, born in Kalispell, and has spent the last 30 years in northwest Montana. To find relief from balancing work and life as a busy mom, she finds solace in riding her bike and playing on the lake. Katy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kat ie Fr ies
is the newest addition to the marketing and communications team at Flathead Valley Community College. With a passion for education, community, and public relations, she has found her home at FVCC. Her marketing career includes specializations in branding, corporate identity, and communications. Born and raised in Kalispell, she only lived away from the Flathead while pursuing a degree in business marketing at Montana State University in Bozeman. Their love of the area and family ties brought Katie and her husband back to Kalispell where they have enjoyed remodeling their cozy 1930’s farmhouse-style home northeast of town. In her free time, she takes advantage of the area she feels so fortunate to call home – camping and fishing with family and friends, waterskiing, and taking in the beauty of the Flathead.
Al ison Pomerantz
Alison (Grabau) Pomerantz is a former account executive, middle school English teacher, and writer who recently left the rat race of Boston, Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, two labs and a guinea pig to enjoy all things outdoors in Montana. Alison’s personal and professional interests are diverse, with degrees in journalism and history and Masters degrees in business administration and education. Author of Summit Pioneers, Alison now squeezes freelance writing in amidst the chaos as a stay-at-home mom to an active toddler and new baby. She finds refuge in a vigorous run, a good book and a large glass of wine. Contact her at email@example.com.
Kel l y O’Br ien
works for Measure Law Office, P.C. in Kalispell, MT. She is licensed to practice law in Oregon and Montana, and focuses on estate planning, probate, business, real estate and natural resources law. Kelly earned her J.D. at Lewis & Clark School of Law in Portland, with a certificate in natural resources law. She also has a B.S. in Business Administration & International Business from the University of Montana, and a minor in German. Kelly is originally from Kalispell and recently returned to the area to work with Measure Law Office. Prior to returning to the Flathead Valley, Kelly worked in private practice with law firms based in Portland and Bend, Oregon. She now lives in Whitefish with her husband and son where she enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities. Contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-752-6373
WOMEN GOLFERS TO CONVERGE IN WHITEFISH By Karen Jacobson Photos by Linda Ray
Montana Women’s State Tournament to be held July 16-19, 2012
FORE!! Look out Flathead Valley--200 of Montana’s top female golfers are gathering at Whitefish Lake Golf Course July 16-19, 2012 for the 95th Montana State Amateur and Senior Amateur Championship. Last year’s Amateur Division winner Maggie Crippen of Missoula and reigning Senior Division champion Sue Matson of Laurel are expected to compete with many solid players ready to challenge. Whitefish golfers that competed in last year’s state tournament at Helena’s Bill Roberts Golf Course included Mary Armstrong, Kimmi Bouma, Jeanette Cheney, Jody Fee, Karen Jacobson, Kiley McConnell and Chelsea Ray. An even larger contingent of Whitefish and Flathead Valley golfers are expected to participate this year.
The official practice round is scheduled for Monday, July 16, with an evening meeting slated for the Montana State Women’s Golf Association Board of Directors and Delegates. Tuesday, July 17, launches the three-day tournament
with an evening social at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant. Wednesday tournament golf is followed by a special recognition banquet capped with a Montana Hall of Fame induction. As well, MSWGA college golf scholarships will be awarded to promising high school stars. The tournament wraps up July 19 with state champions crowned in the Amateur and Senior Divisions as well as awards to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in each flight.
Whitefish Lake Golf Course has a proud reputation for hosting many firstrate and extremely popular golf tournaments, and this event will complement WLGC’s impressive resume. The success of WLGC is largely due to three reasons: * The Golf Courses: WLGC offers two 18-hole courses expertly maintained by course superintendent Dick Collins and assistant Mike Girard.
* Golf Professionals: Tim Olson, PGA Head Professional; Christine Newton, PGA Assistant Golf Professional, and Derek Denning, PGA Apprentice. All are Whitefish natives and among the best professionals in the industry.
* Pro shop: Kelsey Jensen Stacy and Kaycee Link Slaybaugh run an outstanding pro shop offering exceptional service and first-rate shopping. Zak Anderson rounds out the crew as head starter.
* Whitefish Lake Restaurant: Expertly run by Doug Reed, Owner; Vicki Hill, General Manager; and Executive Chef Dan Crumbaker. The restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Flathead Valley and “the deck” has become a hot spot for both locals and tourists.
Planning committees were formed in September led by WLGC Board member and avid golfer Jody Fee. “Whitefish Lake Golf Club last hosted the State Am in 2001 and the tournament received enthusiastic reviews. Our goal is to make the upcoming tournament another first-class event. A talented group of WLGC women members volunteered to work on committees and have generated exciting ideas. We are fortunate to be working closely with Tim Olson, Chris Newton and Kelsey Stacy from the pro shop—their help is a critical component in this undertaking. We are thoroughly planning for this event including a request for sunny, 80 degree days.” Head golf professional Tim Olson states, “I am very excited to be hosting this year's ladies state and senior amateur tournaments. We have one of the best facilities in the state including course conditions, golf shop presentation, casual and fine dining, and what I believe to be the most impressive--the atmosphere we have created here. Our entire staff is looking forward to the event, and I am certain the ladies will have a great week. What a great way to showcase our entire operation.” Entry forms are due July 7 and may be accessed at www.msgagolf.com or at your local golf pro shop.
Photos top to bottom: Pro shop- Zak Anderson, Kelsey Jensen Stacy, Tim Olson, Chris Newton, Derek Denning, Kaycee Link Slaybaugh. Some of the Committee Members working on State Am- Karen Jacobson, Linda Ray, Jody Fee, Kimmi Bouma. Restaurant- Doug Reed, Vicki Hill and Dan Crumbaker.
CHRIS NEWTON Christine Newton is an accomplished golfer who has made a career in a sport she loves. A Whitefish native, Chris began her career in the junior golf program under the tutelage of Mike Dowaliby, PGA Professional. Her resume is impressive. She was Montana State Amateur Championship runner-up in 1981 at age 15. She was also runner up in 1984 and 1986, and won the title in 1985. She continued her golfing career as the number one golfer and team captain at Weber State where she was the most valuable player for two years. The Wildcats won the Division II National Championship in 1985, and Chris was honored as a National Golf Coaches Association Division II All-American. Chris competed on the Women’s Professional Golf Tour, the Futures Golf Tour, the Player’s West Tour, and the Cactus Tour as well. Being inducted into the Montana State Women’s Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 was a career highlight. Chris has worked many years as the Assistant PGA Golf Professional at Whitefish Golf Club and has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” by the Western Montana Chapter of the Pacific Northwest Section several times.
M a x i m i z i n g Re s o u r c e s i n t h e F l a t h e a d Green Power House GPH™ By Kim Morisaki, Montana West Economic Development Photo by Steve Corrick
It may look like a spaceship ready to blast off into the outer reaches of space, but Algae Aqua-Culture Technologies (AACT) Green Power House (GPH™) is firmly rooted in the soils of this earth. Operating in the realms of algae, soil, biomass, and clean energy the company’s vision is a close-looped bio-refinery system that will play a vital role in a green, more sustainable future.
Although the GPH™ could easily be mistaken for a luxury greenhouse, its primary output will be highgrade organic fertilizer and soil amendments. As its name implies, it will also produce bio-fuels based heat and energy. And finally it will also be a bountiful greenhouse with a stunning display of organic produce and hanging plants.
Using biomass inputs such as wood waste from the Stoltze lumber mill or sugar cane waste the system was created by Michael Smith, a mathematician and physicist. Coming from a former career in computer animation industry Smith’s skills in software and engineering served him while he invented the proprietary hardware and software that runs the entire GPH™ system.
Leveraging a grant from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality with funds from private investors, AACT built the first of six Green Power Houses on five acres at the F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company in Columbia Falls. “The Green Power House meets several of our interests,” said McKenzie. “Eventually it could replace our 100-year-old boilers; it is an outlet for woody biomass such as bark, saw-
dust and shavings as well as for biomass from our land management activities.” Smith predicts that with six GPH™ they should be able to meet all of Stoltze’s energy needs. “The greenhouses will use only a third of the energy they produce,” he said, “so two-thirds will be available for company use.”
It is the multiple revenue streams from the system that make it financially viable. Algae grown from the waste emissions and heat of producing energy are processed in an anaerobic bioreactor producing organic fertilizer. The algae-based fertilizer is combined with the organic carbon that is also a byproduct of the energy production. “Carbon plays an essential, but rarely acknowledged, role in soil fertility,” said Robin Kelson, one of AACT’s biochemist and biologist. “What makes our soil amendment so powerful is the bioavailability of both carbon and nitrogen in the correct ratios. What we are creating is a carbon-sequestering greenhouse that generates low carbon fuel, clean water, nutrient-dense soil and nutritious food.”
AACT is in the business of maximizing resources. The early-stage company with offices in Whitefish is not only capitalizing on the local natural resources, they have also perfected the art of leveraging their financial resources and networking to expand the human resources available to their growing business. The company receives lots of support locally, including from Senator Tester and Governor Schweitzer. In November 2011 AACT was one of five companies selected to represent the US in their Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Exhibit at APEC’s (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit in Hawaii.
AACT has a small committed staff with backgrounds in biochemistry, soils, chemistry, process engineering, physics and electronics engineering. Their story resonates with business people, the media, and a variety of universities across the country. Michael Smith is adept at tapping into the expertise of the people fascinated by the Green Power House bringing more talent to the project.
In addition to the Montana DEQ grant, AACT has identified a variety of financial resources that they can combine with their investors’ funds to move the project forward. Montana West Economic Development has assisted them with securing funds for projects as diverse as building a prototype in the early stages of R&D, to strategic market planning and intellectual property protection. Job creation is another benefit of the technology. The greenhouse will require a range of nontechnical and technical workers from maintenance and operations people to horticulturists. Companies, local governments, and Native American groups from Michigan, Canada and Hawaii have expressed interest in the Green Power House concept. “We’ve basically created a kit that can be built anywhere,” said Smith. AACT in partnership with a Canadian company is currently pursuing an active interest the GPH™ system among various First Nation tribes in western Canada. AACT is an early-stage business poised to blast-off due to their ability to maximize all the resource available to them; creating energy, jobs and abundant well-being for the earth.
FAC E B O O K F O R B U S I N E S S E S : M Y T H S A N D R E A L I T I E S E X P O S E D By Katie Fries
With over 500 million users sharing over 30 billion pieces of information per month, Facebook is, without a doubt, the most popular social media site of our time. Are you using this valuable tool to promote your business effectively?
are differing ideas floating around about how best to use it, so
I’ve addressed a few
of the most common myths and realities about using
Facebook for businesses.
Myth: If you build it, they will come. Reality:
While it’s true that simply building a page will attract a limited audience, it’s not until you start using engaging, exciting content that your number of followers will really start to build. With the overabundance of media and advertising the public is exposed to these days, people need a reason to engage with your page. Get in touch with your audience and find out what they really want.
One of the best ways to do this is to ask for your followers’ feedback on issues they care about. Making your customers feel like they have a say in the decisions you make leads to improvements in customer satisfaction and retention. If you’re a coffee shop, perhaps you can ask your readers what kind of coffee drink they would like to have on special this week. A bank might ask customers for feedback on the best location for their next ATM machine. A successful page also requires comprehensive monitoring and feedback by the page administrator(s). If your followers are asking questions about your business on your Facebook page, they expect to receive an answer in a timely fashion. If they’re leaving you praise, it’s good etiquette to thank them for their kind words as quickly as possible. You should check your page a few times per day to ensure you don’t miss out on these valuable business opportunities. You’ll find that the timelier you are when responding to your followers, the more likely they will be to interact with your page in the future.
The task may seem daunting, but there are ways to decrease the load of managing your social media outlets. If your business is multi-faceted, it may make sense to
have multiple page administrators from different areas of the business who can respond to issues directly related to their focus areas. If your page becomes very popular, and attracts a huge number of followers contributing content, it may even become necessary to hire someone to manage your Facebook page.
Myth: I should post as often as possible so I stay fresh in my customer’s mind. Reality:
You’ve probably heard that one way to lose your audience and kill your social media site is to not post often enough. So the obvious answer is to post anything you can think of, right? Wrong! If you’re continually posting things your readers don’t care about, just for the sake of posting something, you’re likely to turn off your audience. This may lead to them hiding your posts or even un-liking your page – either of which would make you completely ineffective. It’s very hard to get a follower back once they’ve taken either of these steps. Successful posts are all about containing quality content that your readers care about. Quality is more important than quantity.
There’s not really a hard and fast rule about how often to post. When you’re starting out, try making a post at least every other day and see how that volume works for your page. Depending on your audience, you may alter how often you post over the life of your page. It may take a little creativity to make relevant posts that often. You may have to try different types of posts to see what works for you – run a simple contest where the winner gets a gift card for your business, or take feedback you’ve received from a customer recently (whether good or bad) and ask your audience if they feel the same way. While it’s okay to directly promote your business, stay away from posting too many sales pitches. This may turn your customers off as well. Think outside the box and have fun with it!
Myth: I should remove negative posts on my page that might hurt my business. Reality: Only sometimes. Resist the urge to unleash your inner “protective mama bear” on negative posts that point out flaws, criticize, or make suggestions for your business. The beauty of social media is that it provides a platform for consumers to be honest and have conversations about products and services. The minute you appear to be monitoring content and not allowing
any negative posts, your audience will feel like you’re not interested in hearing their honest feedback. This will certainly keep them from engaging with you on Facebook, and it could even affect your business negatively.
Often, negative posts give you the opportunity to educate your customers on an issue they’re concerned about. Chances are, if one customer has a particular concern (whether or not you believe it to be valid), other customers likely have similar concerns. What a great place for your to address those concerns to your entire audience of followers! Respond publicly to the negative post, thanking the author for the valuable insight, and move on. Your customers will appreciate your openness and integrity.
In many cases, if the post includes information that is inaccurate or false, your other Facebook followers may respond to and correct the post before you have the chance to. This is ideal! It is even more valuable when words of praise and commendation come directly from other customers. You may want to experiment with giving your customers the chance to respond to negative feedback before you jump in. That said, if a post is threatening, vulgar, or highly offensive, it absolutely should be removed. If a person continuously posts these types of messages and doesn’t respond when asked to stop, it is appropriate to ban the person from your page. We’ve only scratched the surface of how to make your business’ Facebook page as effective as possible. Remember to be creative, enjoy this valuable opportunity to interact with your customer base, and always keep your customers’ interests in mind when posting content. When you start doing this effectively, not only will your customers “like” your Facebook page, they’ll start to love interacting with your business online!
Do you want to learn how to get your Facebook page started? FVCC will offer a Facebook Basics and Features course starting July 11. For more advanced users who want to learn how to effectively market their businesses using Facebook, the college will offer Facebook for Businesses starting July 25. Contact the FVCC Continuing Education Center at (406) 756-3832 or visit www.fvcc.edu/continuingeducation.html for more information or to register for these courses.
In Business you are not alone. There is help!! By Chris Parson
is help, and you
are not alone as an entrepreneur.
introduce you to or remind you of one of many resources available to all entrepreneurs whether at the infancy stage or mature stage.
My name is Chris Parson and I am the Director of North West Montana’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, MT. The SBDC is a network comprised of ten centers located throughout Montana including Kalispell, Missoula, Helena, Butte, Great Falls, Bozeman, Billings, Wolf Point, Havre, and Colstrip. These centers are available to provide counseling, training, and be the resource link that small businesses need. The SBDC is funded in part by the SBA and matched by Montana Department of Commerce and local host agencies in each area.
The SBDC is focused on providing one-onone confidential business counseling to our clients. Confidentiality is the key and we ensure strict adherence to this which enables us to work very closely with our clients and dive down to the meat of the challenges or issues that businesses might be having. We service all types of business, no matter what industry you might find yourself in, from technology based companies to service based, to retailers, manufacturers, or the entrepreneur who works from home. Our mission is to guide existing and start-up businesses toward profitability in order to create jobs and economic prosperity in the state of Montana The SBDC has a set of core services that we spend a large majority of our time on. Whatever your challenge, issue, or question might be, rest assured we can help you solve the problem or find the answer for you. Our network is very well connected throughout the state to all sorts of business programs, busi-
ness assistance, and resources. We have often been called the gate keepers, but our goal is to open that door for your business and help you succeed.
The SBDC does have a few core services that we tend to focus a lot of our time on. The first is regarding business plan development or in some cases redevelopment. I find that many people are intimidated by the word business plan, so I like to call it your business strategy. It answers questions like: Who are you? What service or product are you providing? What gap are you filling in the market place? How do you plan on being successful? What do you need to make it happen?
The second core service is help with the marketing and advertising. The SBDC can help you determine your market by providing some market research and giving the entrepreneur the resources and guidance to create a thorough marketing plan. Whether starting a business or growing one, you should be actively evaluating your market. How big is it? Who is it? Who is your target (primary) market? How do you reach them? And the list continues. The marketing plan plays a key role in the business strategy and can help determine the viability to be successful. Many times it’s an area of neglect but really it should be the area of focus, especially for start-ups. The third core service is assistance with all aspects of business finance. In new business we can help produce cash flow projections that enable and entrepreneur to see what it will take to be successful. We can help assess if an idea is viable based on the numbers. Understanding your cash flow and establishing a budget are great tools to help manage growth and improve deficiencies. Once you have the business plan, marketing plan, and cash flow thoroughly assembled it is time to
discuss getting access to capital. The SBDC is focused on connecting small business to capital and producing professional loan packages. The SBDC is in direct communications with local and regional banks, local and regional economic development agencies, and the many other funding sources and programs available to entrepreneurs provided by state and federal agencies.
For existing businesses we can do a lot of the above, and in addition we can help you better understand your financials so when talking to your accountant or banker you are speaking the same language. We can help with determining which costs to cut or just help you become more efficient. We can help you establish a model for growth and create projections. We can help you project into the future and plan for the good times and the bad. When it comes time to look to buy that building or piece of equipment, expand your market, hire additional employees, buy a business partner out, or buy a new business, we can assist you in developing a solid strategy to follow, establishing a professional loan package, and connecting you to funding opportunities.
The fourth core service is in the area of training and entrepreneurial development. The NW SBDC has established many courses available to entrepreneurs here at FVCC, and we are continually trying to adapt and create new courses that are applicable to regional businesses. The NW SBDC offers a Business Necessities Series which is broken up into three, two hour classes focusing on business planning, marketing, and cash flow projections. These classes are designed for start-up and newer businesses that want to improve their business strategy. We also offer Profit Mastery which is a sixteen hour course designed to Create Value and Build Wealth in your business. This program will
use case studies and down-to-earth strategies and techniques to teach participants how to measure and benchmark their companies’ performance, how to establish the difference between making a profit and having cash. It will also teach you how to correctly compute break-even goals, and the effects of price, volume, and costs. The class also looks at building cash flow statements, learning short-term and long-term lending relationships, and showing you how much it takes to grow your business.
The NW SBDC also offers a program called Peerspectives®. Based on peer learning, PeerSpectives® is a CEO roundtable created by the Edward Lowe Foundation, recognized nationally for its work in peer learning. Peerspectives® is a nationwide program that uses a structured roundtable enabling you to learn from your peers. The PeerSpectives® Systems follows a protocol that focuses on sharing experiences instead of giving advice. This protocol brings consistency to the quality and the timeliness of topics and ensures a balanced discussion not dominated by any one issue or individual. The SBDC is continually looking for new classes and programs to help make the entrepreneur successful. My goal is to make entrepreneurs, whether they are just starting up or have been in business for thirty years, more efficient, more resourceful, and more money. I am here to help in any way I can. Please feel free to contact me at (406) 7563836 or email@example.com. Check out our website at www.nwmontanabusiness.com for some business resources and client sign-up.
Estate Planning for the Modern FamilyTips & Techniques for Blended Families Written by Kelly O’Brien, Attorney at Law
The idea of the “typical” American family has changed significantly over the last several decades from the traditional nuclear family to blended families of countless variations. Now-a-days, a blended family, or a family where one or more spouse has children from a prior marriage is commonplace.
Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning. Parents of blended families should take extra precautions to adequately consider what would happen to the family upon the death of one spouse and take steps to avoid disinheriting a spouse or children.
Perhaps one of the more famous estate disputes in recent history surrounded the estate of J. Howard Marshall who was married to the much younger Vickie Lynn Marshall, more widely known as Anna Nicole Smith. Upon Mr. Marshall’s death, his will left almost all of his estate to his son from a previous marriage. Ms. Marshall then sued, claiming her elderly husband promised to give her more than $300 million, and the court battle went on for several years.
This case illustrates one of the more common scenarios in blended families, where one spouse
leaves everything to their children from a prior marriage and completely leaves out his or her spouse. This leaves the estate subject to claims from the surviving spouse, as well as other disputes between family members that can have lasting impacts. Another common problem occurs when the children are disinherited by virtue of joint ownership of property. This commonly occurs because married couples often decide to hold property such as houses, bank accounts, or cars jointly. However, in a family of a second marriage, joint ownership with a spouse can result in unintended consequences. In the case of joint ownership, the surviving spouse obtains sole ownership of the property by operation of law, thereby excluding the predeceasing spouse’s children from ownership of the property. If you have remarried and have children from a prior marriage, what can you to reduce the chance for disputes between your spouse and children after you are gone?
First, it is essential that you talk to your spouse and children about your wishes, as well as discuss potential issues that may arise with the distribution of your estate. In addition to communication with family members, a blended family should consider the following techniques for reducing conflicts:
Update your Estate Plan & Beneficiary Designations
At a minimum each spouse should have an estate plan containing a will with Powers of Attorney for finances and health care; however, a will only goes so far with a blended family. It is also critical that each spouse updates their estate plan and beneficiary designations to ensure that ex-spouses are disinherited or no longer listed as beneficiaries of assets such as retirement accounts or life insurance policies. Then review your beneficiary designations to make sure that the proper beneficia-
If you have remarried and have children from a prior marriage, what can you to reduce the chance for disputes between your spouse and children after you are gone? ries are named, and the beneficiary designations fit within your overall estate plan. Remember, a beneficiary designation trumps a will, so keeping your beneficiary designations updated to reflect your current life situation is essential.
Prenuptial or Other Marital Agreements
Perhaps one of the best methods of preventative maintenance for a blended family is to execute either a prenuptial or other marital agreement with your spouse that addresses estate planning issues. By clearly defining which assets you want to remain separate after the marriage and which assets you agree will pass to each of your children, you can reduce disputes later, Moreover, marital agreements allow you to maintain more control over how and when your assets are distributed.
Life Insurance Policies
Life insurance can be a great tool for providing for your children, while also providing for your spouse. By specifically naming children as beneficiaries of a life insurance policy it creates immediate benefit to children upon death, rather than having to potentially wait many years for inheritance. With the life insurance proceeds going to children, the remainder of the estate may pass to the surviving spouse, thereby eliminating or reducing potential inequities.
Create a Trust
Consider a joint revocable living trust or Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust “QTIP” Trust. A QTIP or other trust can provide income and principal for a surviving spouse’s care dur-
ing his or her lifetime. However, upon the death of your spouse, the remaining assets in the trust can be distributed to your children according to your wishes.
Another option to consider is to provide your spouse with a life estate in your home. A life estate allows a surviving spouse to live in the house for his or her lifetime, but allows the remainder interest in the home to pass to your children.
Talk with your Family & Seek Professional Advice if Necessary
These are just some of the techniques to consider when planning an estate with a blended family. It is critical that you and your family discuss these issues together and have an overall plan to addresses any potential disputes or inequity problems. Your particular estate may also have estate tax or other considerations, so I always recommend seeking the professional advice of your attorney, CPA or financial planner. These types of estate planning issues may not always be easy issues to talk about, especially with a blended family. However, communication and planning now can provide peace of mind that you are sparing your family from conflicts or hurt feelings down the road. Contact Kelly O’Brien at Measure, Sampsel, Sullivan & O’Brien, P.C. at (406) 752-6373/ www.measurelaw.com
Womenext r a Must Plan Carefully for Retirement If you’re a woman, you have to be actively involved in your financial preparations for retirement — and that’s true whether you’re single or married. As a woman, you have at least two special considerations associated with your retirement planning: You’ve got a longer life expectancy. Women typically outlive men by about seven years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics — and more years of life mean more expenses.
You may have less money in your retirement plan. Women drop out of the work force for an average of 12 years to care for young children or aging parents, according to the Older Women’s League, a research and advocacy group. This time away from the workforce results in women accumulating much less money in their employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s.
The prospect of a long, underfunded retirement is not a pleasant one. Fortunately, there’s much you can do to avoid this fate. For starters, know what’s going on in your financial situation. If you are married, share the responsibility of making investment decisions. What are your retirement goals? Are the two of you investing enough to
eventually achieve these goals? And where is the money going? If you are working with a financial advisor, make sure you ask all the questions you can think of — and whenever you think of new questions, ask them as well.
You’ll also need to knowwhat you can expect to receive if your husband dies before you. As a surviving spouse, you will likely inherit all your husband’s assets, unless he has specifically named other people — such as grown children from an earlier marriage — as beneficiaries. Nonetheless, you can’t just assume that all sources of income that your husband receives will automatically roll over to you. For example, if your husband were to die before you, you wouldn’t get his Social Security payments in addition to your own, although you could choose to collect his payments instead of yours. But if you both earned similar incomes, you might not get much of an increase in Social Security benefits. In any case, whether you’re married or single, here are some moves that can benefit you:
“Max out” on your 401(k). If you can afford it, invest the maximum amount into your 401(k) and increase your
contributions every time your salary goes up. Your 401(k) provides you with tax-deferred earnings and a variety of investment options.
Contribute to an IRA. Even if you have a 401(k) or other employersponsored retirement plan, you might be eligible to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA. A traditional IRA offers taxdeferred earnings, while a Roth IRA grows tax free, provided you don’t take withdrawals until you’re at least 591⁄2 and you’ve had your account at least five years. You can fund an IRA with virtually any investment you choose. Do whatever it takes to help ensure a comfortable retirement — and the sooner you start planning, the better.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor
Contact Karin Holder, your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor at (406) 862-5454 Or stop by at 807 Spokane Ave, Suite 500, Whitefish, MT. www.edwardjones.com
Broken Beyond Repair?
The Question of Tax Reform Written by Katy Croft, Certified Public Accountant
No one likes to think about taxes, except how to pay less. I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), so reducing taxes is constantly on my mind for all of my clients (that is why they pay me, after all). Our current tax structure is beyond complicated and impossible to get a solid grasp of. Not only is the tax code enormous, but changes happen every day in the form of new legislation, tax court case decisions, and IRS rules and regulations. With such a volatile structure, it is difficult at best to make any sort of long-term tax planning strategy with our clients. By the time we see the plan through, there may have been dozens of other strategies that could have created a greater tax benefit, but those things weren’t in the Code at the time we put a plan in place. Even making constant updates to a long-term tax strategy is cumbersome because we just can’t anticipate what future tax breaks might come up. But let’s not focus on long term issues, because well, let’s face it – who thinks about that anyway? Every year, every taxpayer woefully files an income tax return. And every year, most grit their teeth because they truly have no idea if they’ll owe or if they’ll get a refund. And with the way our current tax structure is now, your earnings may not significantly change from year to year, but credits and deductions (both new and expiring), can change your tax bill from just one year to the next. The Child Tax Credit, for example, was set to expire at the end of 2010; thanks to our Congress, the credit was extended for two years and will continue to provide a credit of up to $1,000 per child until the end of next year. For most families that 406
benefit from that credit, losing it could make a serious impact on their annual tax bill. But two years is nearly up; at the end of 2012 that credit is again on the chopping block and we’ve had no indication yet whether or not Congress has plans to extend it. We’ll have to see how the 2012 election plays out.
Tax credits and deductions help us all; I can’t say I haven’t benefited from the Child Tax Credit and the home mortgage interest deduction. But the potential for abuse in claiming some of these items is enormous, and the IRS is catching on. It is estimated that in 2010, $4.2 billion was paid out to people fraudulently claiming the Child Tax Credit. Another recent credit that has been widely abused is the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit. It is estimated that about $4 million was fraudulently refunded to people that reported their dependent minors under 18 were claiming the First Time Homebuyer Credit, the youngest of whom was just 4 years old! The IRS is currently in the midst of hundreds, if not thousands of audits to uncover fraud and abuse of the Homebuyer credits. Furthermore, did you know that most, if not all people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit pay absolutely no federal income tax?
And they are still able to receive a tax refund of up to $5,666 for the credit? Who is funding these credits for those who truly qualify, not to mention the fraudulent claims? Other taxpayers, that’s who!
The 2012 election and debates may focus heavily on tax reform, so as a CPA I think it will be an entertaining election, to say the least. My big question: Is tax reform even possible? It is my humble opinion that truly beneficial, impactful, and fair reform is a long shot. To begin with, what is fair, and who gets to decide? More importantly, can tax reform be a part of the solution to improve the state of our economy? We will soon find out how our tax returns will be affected once the election is over and Congress decides what tax changes they have in store for us.
Circular 230 Disclaimer In accordance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we must inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication, unless expressly stated otherwise, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matter(s) addressed herein.
W e ll n e s s
Photos by Daniel Seymour
Leadership is a responsibility, and Jason Spring doesn’t take it lightly. As the CEO of North Valley Hospital, he understands the importance of being a good steward and an inspiring example.
when he gets up in the morning because he loves doing what he does as a leader in the northwest corner of Montana.
“I came here to do good for the community, and I feel like I do that here,” he said. “I like working and living here, and I like the culture of the hospital. It really is a community hospital.”
Accomplished at the young age of 43, Jason has been honored with multiple recognitions. One of which was given by Arkansas Business for being one of 40 individuals, under the age of 40, to most likely have an influence on industry and politics. The award represented his community contributions through his participation in many non-profit boards. He may be more cautious of his time since moving to the Flathead three years ago, but he still demonstrates the importance of being very active in the community. Jason takes a particular interest in participating in the economics of the Flathead, saying: “If you have a robust economic community, then you have strong schools, hospitals, amenities, etc. Everything’s better when everyone’s working and able to pay their bills. So as a community leader, I like being involved with things that potentially will benefit a more vibrant economy.” That’s why Jason is a board member of Montana West Economic Development, Whitefish Chamber of Commerce as well as the chamber’s Vice Chair for the economic committee. He also is a board member of First Best Place in Columbia Falls, a grass roots organization who tirelessly works to improve the community and unite passions to facilitate growth. Along the healthcare lines, he is a board member of the Flathead County EMS Advisory.
Jason’s office is typical of a hospital CEO. Bookshelves lined with industry publications, personal awards and photos of his two children: Emma Claire and Jack. One thing that’s unique is a framed folded flag unassumingly positioned near his desk. But this flag wasn’t an honor received after his military father passed since his older brother was the recipient. This flag is almost as
special to Jason because it was given to him by a surgeon at the last hospital he worked. This surgeon was meticulous about properly retiring the hospital’s worn flags and he always presented them to meaningful people to the hospital. “There is some resonance in this flag to my father,” he said.
Originally from northern Louisiana just outside a paper mill town, Jason was one of eight children. He was a shy tot who was never too serious, and yet responsible. His dad made all the kids work around the house caring for the farm animals and their big gardens. He loved to play and figure out how to make things work. Now his life revolves around his own children, whereby his hobbies tend to be what they like to do. In addition to Jack’s sports and Emma Claire’s business adventures, Jason embraces outdoor activities including skiing and hiking. These activities have helped him to enjoy making lifestyle changes toward better health and wellness. Being in healthcare, Jason feels that he should provide leadership
with representing good health. And, this can’t be done by following this month’s fad diet, but more so through long-term lifestyle changes. “I have kids to raise, and I want to live to be old,” he said. “So, I decided to take better care of myself.”
Leading by example is how he hopes to maintain favorable contributions to North Valley Hospital and our community. Ultimately, he would like to evolve this hospital from a model of taking care of sick people to keeping people well so they need the hospital less. “It just makes sense,” he said. “It’s a challenging business plan, but we’ll find a way to make it work so we can continue to facilitate good health in our community.”
“I would like for NVH to be sustainable for another 100 years,” Jason said. “To get there, we have to have financial discipline and provide excellent patient care. We need to be better than great. This is perpetual. I want to leave the next person with the same goal: To continuously improve on what we do.” 29
406 women} profiles C onversations with I nspiring M ontana E ntrepreneurs
Twinkle Clothing Upcycling in the USA
by Alison Pomerantz - Photos by Angie Stinchfield A year ago, Val Trina had never used a sewing machine. Today, her startup business Twinkle depends on it. A single mother of daughters, Holly, 10, and Jane, 8, Trina wanted a business that would allow her flexibility to be with her family.
She admits that she has always loved going to thrift stores. “I walk around envisioning what I could create with things that I see,” she says.
Admittedly not a seamstress, nor someone who had any aspirations of pursuing a career in textiles, Trina originally got the idea for Twinkle after noticing how few items of clothing were still made in the United States. She also began reading articles about how much waste was generated from the average household closet.
“The average American sends 70 pounds of clothing to landfills,” she said, adding that even much of the clothing that gets taken to consignment stores or thrift shops ultimately ends up being thrown away because it is torn, stained or otherwise undesirable for resale.
Proudly able to claim the distinction of being locally designed and created in Whitefish, Twinkle twirly skirts are made of 100% recycled t-shirt fabrics in vibrant colors and patterns that dance like pinwheels in the wind. They are “upcycled”—meaning older materials are repurposed to make something better. She has never, nor will she ever, use new fabrics for her creations. Trina patches together complementary colors and conversation-worthy designs in a circle-cut pattern attached to a comfortable, stretchfit waistband. For her stitch work, she uses a serger, which is a fancy sewing machine that uses four spools of thread and is adept at grabbing knit fabrics. “I started by making dresses, but then transitioned to skirts and I’m not going back,” Trina says. She finds the skirts more fun and versatile. Children don’t fight their parents about getting dressed when they can slip on the moveable, breathable twirly skirts. The skirts can be worn casually with simple t-shirts, or dressed up with blouses or sweaters. They also can be thrown on over bathing suits or leotards. She consciously avoided sewing labels in her skirts because she thought they would just add to the nagging “itch” factor and be uncomfortable for kids. Also, not having labels means there is no front or back—the skirts can be worn whatever way the mood strikes.
“I never would have thought I would have heaps and heaps of t-shirts piled up in my ‘sewing room,’” confesses Trina. “I guess the lesson is to not be intimidated by an idea you are unfamiliar with. The idea of creating something fun and beautiful appealed to me and
I just decided to go for it. I had to learn something
new, but with Twinkle, I have really found what I want to do.”
“They are truly one-of-a-kind because I can say I honestly don’t have another Yoda t-shirt,” Trina laughs, pointing to one such pattern. She adds, “I’m now getting requests for women’s skirts and have created lots of custom designs.” Her versatile women’s designs are now nearly as popular as the girls’ skirts. The comfortable fabric is great for a busy mom’s schedule or even for a mom-tobe’s changing form, because of the stretchy fabric. They can be dressed up, or worn casually and accommodate styles from hippy to western to chic.
Originally Trina sold the skirts in her Flying Fish Kid’s Gym where the six and under clientele served as a perfect, built-in customer base. She has since expanded sales to Etsy’s online marketplace to reach a larger shopping network outside the Flathead Valley. Children’s skirts are priced between $30$40 and women’s skirts run between $35-
$65. The most successful advertising thus far is just having people wear her skirts around town and have people ask where they got it.
“I never would have thought I would have heaps and heaps of t-shirts piled up in my ‘sewing room,’” confesses Trina. “I guess the lesson is to not be intimidated by an idea you are unfamiliar with. The idea of creating something fun and beautiful appealed to me and I just decided to go for it. I had to learn something new, but with Twinkle, I have really found what I want to do.”
Stop in Flying Fish Kid’s Gym at 6475 US Highway 93 South in the Whitefish Mall to browse skirt designs in person or order your own one-of-a-kind Twinkle skirt, or shop online at www.etsy.com/shop/twinklewear. Also, look for Twinkle at the Whitefish Farmer’s Market this summer.