Perspective April 23
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Perspective April 32
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2, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 BANKS
“New” Machias Savings Delivers Same Exceptional Service ■ BY BRIAN SWARTZ
he indicated. Phillips and Amanda Ashe are relationship officers who meet with businesses, non-profits, and municipalities across Maine. “We educate them about bank products and services, and we introduce them to new services that help them streamline operations and reduce costs,” Phillips said. Also assigned to the Business Services Department are two business service specialists, Angela Ring and Jessica O’Neill. “They handle the day-today needs of our customers,” Phillips said. “They’ve been to Jackman, Canada, Kittery, and points in between,” Donnelly said, referring to the business services team. “Business Services works closely with our business bankers and branch personnel to meet the needs of our customers and prospects.” “Once a customer’s need is identified, we bring in the right people to serve that need,” he said. “We operate as a team” to “maintain a consistent commitment to providing exceptional service. We have hired experienced people” who “listen to our customers to learn what they need now and in the future. We offer comprehensive solutions.” In just four months, the Business Services Department has assisted many MSB customers. “The reception from the customer base has been enthusiastic,” Donnelly said. “A lot of new business has come to us because of their [business service specialists) work. “Our customers are thrilled with the attention and the service they are getting. That is our goal: We become friends and partners with our customers to help them succeed,” he said. “We hired people with great attitudes, great aptitudes, and a good old Down East work ethic,” Donnelly said. “Lisa did an excellent job putting her team together. They truly complement what we already do as a commercial banking team.”
eet the new Machias Savings Bank: a new logo, a new vision statement, new attributes, and the same exceptional commitment to providing exceptional customer service. Earlier this winter, Machias Savings unveiled a new brand image that stresses “our exceptionalism,” said President Edward L. Hennessey Jr. “Being exceptional isn’t a new concept for Machias Savings Bank; it’s what we’ve always been, and we want our customers to realize that.” “All our customers, when they think of Machias Savings Bank, we want them to think of having the most exceptional experience in banking,” said Traci Sanborn, senior vice president for marketing. “We may be Machias Savings Bank, but we’re in your community, from Aroostook County to the Midcoast.” Starting last fall, MSB senior managers met with representatives from the Alabama ad agency Reflex Blue to develop a new brand image. “They spent time with our senior management team” and “visited all our market areas,” Sanborn said. Reflex Blue recommended that Machias Savings emphasize its traditional tag line, “Experienced People. Exceptional Service.” The new brand image features: • A new logo with colors representing MSB’s foundation in Down East Maine; Sanborn described the colors as “the blue in blueberries, cooked lobstertail,” and “gray granite.” • A new vision statement: “To provide the most exceptional banking experience in the state of Maine.” • A new mission statement: “We will be exceptional in every relationship, in every product developed, in every service rendered and in every promise made.” • New attributes: friendly, reachable, thoughtful, progressive, helpful. Machias Savings Bank employees responded enthusiastically when introduced to the new brand image on Jan. 22, 2011. Sanborn stressed that “their attitude and professionalism” influences bank customers; “we rely on our employees to deliver that exceptional banking experience,” she said. “We continue to provide them with the training they need to deliver that exceptional service.” Machias Savings will launch a springtime advertising campaign to introduce the new brand image; all exterior bank signage will be changed by this summer, Sanborn indicated.
EXPANDING TO BREWER
Photo Courtesy of Machias Savings Bank
Representing the Business Services Department at Machias Savings Bank are (from left) Business Services Officer Amanda Ashe, Business Services Specialist Angela Ring, Vice President and Manager of Business Services Lisa Phillips, and Business Services Specialist Jessica O’Neill. They work with businesses, municipalities, and non-profits throughout Maine.
BRIGHT SPOTS IN A CHALLENGING YEAR
Last year saw economic challenges continue within Machias Savings Bank’s service area, Hennessey indicated — but a few emerging business sectors show promise. “We haven’t seen a lot of growth,” he said. “There hasn’t been a lot of new growth opportunities” among “the many businesses that have witnessed economic slowdown.” Lobster prices trended upward in 2010 and boosted incomes for lobstermen adversely impacted by collapsed prices a year earlier. “Lobstering has always been a strong sector in Down East Maine,” Hennessey said. “It’s a capital-intensive industry … for boats, gear, lines of credit. Right now the lobstermen are making money; they’re investing some in new equipment, which generates economic activity.” Low-bush blueberries represent another natural resource vital to the Down East economy — and 2010 brought good news for growers hammered by 2009’s steep price drop. “Blueberries have become a hot item on the international market,” Hennessey said, also mentioning the berry’s purported health benefits. Last spring’s unseasonably warm temperatures caused berry plants to blossom about two weeks earlier than expected, and a typical mid-spring frost then devastated fields across interior Hancock and Washington counties. The resulting harvest decline actually benefited growers who saw prices “almost double” from 2009, Hennessey pointed out. “The processors will be sold out by the start of this year’s growing season,” he said. The Eastport Port Authority is expanding support facilities for its Estes Head Cargo Terminal. The $7 million project involves a new warehouse, a modern ship-loading and –unloading conveyor
Machias Savings Bank President Edward L. Hennessey Jr. says that the bank’s new logo (above, right) and brand image unveiled earlier this year stress “our exceptionalism.” Machias Savings Bank operates 13 branches from Houlton to Bangor to Rockland and plans to open a new branch in Brewer late this year.
system, and 12 additional acres dedicated to loading space. The port broke records by handling more than 400,000 tons of cargo in 2010; most tonnage came from Woodland Pulp LLC, a pulp mill purchased from Domtar by the International Grand Investment Corp. of Hong Kong. “The [Baileyville] mill looks great right now,” Hennessey said. “They’re exporting almost every bit of pulp they make through Eastport.” Woodland Pulp LLC now incorporates more softwood in its pulp, a fact that benefits Down East loggers, according to Hennessey. A thick spruce-fir forest blankets the coast from Frenchman Bay east and stretches miles inland; for years, loggers working in this forest shipped spruce and fir logs to mills “two to five hours away,” he indicated. “With Baileyville using more softwood, the log-
Since MSB opened a branch at 1126 Hammond St., Bangor, “we’ve had terrific growth in the area” with commercial lending and retail banking services, said Senior Regional Vice President James Donnelly. Machias Savings has long viewed the Greater Bangor Region as a strong market where “we can compete very well,” Hennessey said. “We do a lot of business in Bangor and Brewer. The reason we were successful in Bangor is that we were in the commercial lending business there for years. “With the Bangor branch, we could offer retail banking to our commercial customers,” he said. “Our experience in Bangor has been positive for us and our customers.”
gers can truck their logs an hour to Woodland instead of hours to Jay or Rumford,” Hennessey said. “The markets are very, very strong for our loggers, but the fuel prices are hurting them. If the price of fuel had remained where it was last fall, the loggers would’ve had a great winter.” Meanwhile, the moribund Maine economy has not spurred significant job growth, he indicated. In the past few years, some Machias Savings depositors lost high-paying jobs; some found employment at lower wages, and others remain unemployed. Both factors impact economic activity. “We have seen interest rates drop to levels that most of us would not have believed,” Hennessey wrote in MSB’s 2010 annual report. This decline caused many property owners to refinance their mortgages with MSB last year, but also devastated retirees who depend on interest income; according to Hennessey, many retirees were forced to “dip into their [savings] principles to make ends meet. “It’s been a difficult year, but we’re continuing to expand into other areas,” he said. “We provide exceptional customer service; our customers con- James Donnelly is a senior regional vice president for Machias Savings Bank. stantly let us know that.” Later this spring, construction will start on a BUSINESS SERVICES DEPARTMENT two-story, 12,432-square-foot branch at 581 Wilson St., Brewer. “We’ve outgrown the branch in While headquartered in Washington County, Bangor,” Hennessey said. “We have no room for Machias Savings Bank operates 13 branches from expansion there. Every office is full.” Houlton to Bangor to Rockland. The bank works Like the Bangor branch, the new Brewer branch with businesses, non-profits, and municipalities will be full-service with a lobby and drive-up winthroughout Maine, however, and this year created a dows. According to Hennessey, 10-12 people will new department that focuses on servicing that work there; about half will be new employees. extensive clientele. “Brewer will be more focused on retail [banking] Based in Bangor, the Business Services Depart- services, although we’ll have all the commercial ment “opened fully staffed” on Jan. 1, 2011, Don- services available there,” Sanborn said. nelly said. Lisa Phillips, MSB’s vice president of The Business Services Department will relocate business services, “hired a top-notch staff certified to the Brewer branch when it opens in late 2011 or and trained to take care of our business customers,” early 2012.
PERSPECTIVE 2011 BUSINESS, BANKING & COMMERCE
SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITING TEAM Debra Bell David Fitzpatrick Brian Swartz ADVERTISING SALES TEAM Brian Cotlar Ben Drouin Amy Hayden Linda Hayes Kristin Hurd Kathy Keegan
Debbie Niles Jeff Orcutt Michelle Thomas CREATIVE SERVICES TEAM Josh Alves Faith Burgos Bridgit Cayer Michele Prentice Chris Quimby Pam Tweedie Sam Wood
Perspective 2011 is online at
www.bangordailynews.com If you would like to advertise in Perspective 2012 or if you would like to publish your own special advertising supplement,please contact Sales Managers Beth Grant at (207) 990-8251,email@example.com, or Nicole Stevens at (207) 990-8213,firstname.lastname@example.org, or (toll free in Maine) at 1-800-432-7964,Ext.8251 or 8213.
ADVERTISER INDEX ACCOMMODATIONS Ellsworth Hotels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Acadia Birches Knights Inn Comfort Inn Hampton Inn Ramada Acadia Park Hotel
Infinity Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Lincoln Maine Federal Credit Union . . . . . .5 Maine Savings Federal Credit Union . . . . . .7 Norstate Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . .8
INSURANCE Cross Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 MEMIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Varney Agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Machias Savings Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2-3 People’s United Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Meetings in Maine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12-13 Acadia Birches Knights Inn Atlantic Oceanside Bangor Civic Center Bangor Motor Inn Bar Harbor Inn Caribou Inn Four Points by Sheraton Lucerne Inn Muddy Rudder Ramada Acadia Park Hotel
COLLEGE INVESTING NextGen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
COMMUNICATIONS Oxford Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
CREDIT UNIONS Changing Seasons Federal Credit Union . .16
Sea Dog Banquet & Conference Center Thistles Restaurant
PROFESSIONAL SERVICES Eaton Peabody . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
REAL ESTATE Maineville Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Consumer Title Erica Brooks - Swan Agency Prudential Northeast Properties Showcase Homes
RETAIL Bangor Mall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
TRAVEL Bangor International Airport . . . . . . . . . . . .9
Perspective April 23
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What kind of bank do you want?
There are all kinds of banks out there. Some are o.k., some are good, but few are exceptional. If “exceptional” doesn’t describe your bank, come visit ours.
Welcome to Exceptional.
©2011 Machias Savings Bank
Persepctive April 29
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4, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 BANKING
Health, Finances are Serious Concerns of Elder Caregivers
any of us take for granted that we will be able to take care of our personal and financial affairs “tomorrow.” However, if you are a family caregiver, particularly for an older adult, you know that you cannot always count on tomorrow. Health and finances are two areas that may require caregivers to have the input and the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of another person. The issue may be as simple as signing a check for a loved one or as complex as deciding if he or she would want a feeding tube after becoming bedridden and non-responsive. The number of older adults in the U.S. continues to increase.
There are an estimated 35 million people (13 percent of the population) who are over the age of 65, with the number expected to rise to 20 percent-or more than 71.5 million Americans-by the year 2030. The increase in the older-adult population in the U.S. has given rise to the specialty of elder law attorneys that focus on the many legal issues specific to older adults. In addition to the many legal complexities, elder law attorneys have experience with older adults and appreciation for many of the physical and mental challenges associated with the aging process. Sources to consider when locating an elder law attorney include: • The U.S. Administration on Aging, which sponsors statewide legal hotlines for those age 60 and over. To obtain the appropriate number, call (800) 677-1116. • The state bar association. • Patient representatives at any nearby hospital. smaller and local banks. • National Academy of Elder A great feature offered by many banks is a demo Law Attorneys (NAELA) at to explain exactly how to get started and what all is involved with online banking. Your first step should be to watch the demo so you can get a feel for online banking. Your next step is to set up online bill pay. The next time that you need to pay bills, gather them all up and go to your computer. Follow your bank’s online instructions for setting up the bill pay. You can even have the bank pay some bills automatically on a specific date.
Online Banking Offers Many Benefits to Busy Consumers ■ BY LENDING TREE
nline banking makes managing your money much easier. As a mature family, if you are not already utilizing online banking, it may be time to consider it. Once you learn the basics, you can find that online banking makes your financial life much more convenient. ONLINE BANKING BASICS
Most major banks offer free online banking. Even most small banks offer some form of it, perhaps the ability to check your balance and history online. Most full-service online banking has the following characteristics: • You can check your account balance and history; • Images of your checks that have cleared are available for viewing; • Transferring funds between eligible accounts is easy; • You can view your statements online; • Online banking is a great tool to pay your bills. Checking your balance and history are great conveniences provided by online banking. Anytime throughout the month, at any time of the day or night, you can check to see which transactions have cleared. Online banking makes it so much easier to stay on top of your checking account. You can even transfer funds from one account to another through online banking. Say you have a savings account tied to your checking account. Through online banking, you can transfer money from your savings to your checking account with a simple click of the mouse. Online bill payment may be perhaps the most useful feature of online banking. This is a feature that may be new to you. Once you learn it, you will wonder how you ever paid bills without it. It greatly cuts down the amount of time that you spend having to pay bills. Once you are set up, it takes just a few clicks of the mouse to pay your bills.
Find the Best Bank for You
he banking landscape has changed dramatically over the past year and a half. And whether you’ve been a banking customer for 30 years or are just looking to open your first account, you may find that choosing a bank — or knowing if you’re with the right bank — is more difficult than ever. When you choose a bank, you choose what could be a lifelong partnership, so make sure you do a little research first to ensure you end up with the bank that best fits your financial and personal needs. Here are a few important things you should consider when searching for the bank that’s best for you: • An institution’s locations, hours, and proximity to work and home. Convenience is an important component of a primary banking relationship. Some questions you should ask yourself about your current bank or a prospective bank are: Does the bank open early or close late? Does it have many locations, and are they convenient to where you live, work, and play? • Your banking needs. Before choosing a bank, it’s important to evaluate your current and potential financial needs and to look for an institution that offers the products and services to best fit those needs. Are you looking for quick access to safe deposit boxes or ATMs? Will you be buying a home or car or making another large purchase in the near future? Do you travel a lot and require a bank that
WHERE THERE’S A WILL...
One important legal consideration is the creation of a will. A will is a legal document detailing how an individual wants his or her assets distributed upon death. If an individual dies without a will, called “dying intestate,” the state will determine the distribution of assets. Individuals must be competent when their wills are drawn up and may make changes to them as long as they remain competent. Work with your loved ones to inventory their assets, review outstanding debts, detail beneficiaries and identify any special desires they may have for particular items or monies. HEALTH CARE MATTERS
As a caregiver, friend or child of an aging loved one, it is
important that you know what his or her health care wishes might be should he or she become incapacitated — mentally or physically. To best carry out your loved one’s wishes, you may encourage written documentation in the form of an advance directive. Advance directives are designed to convey an individual’s wishes about his or her medical care to family and physicians at a time when he or she is otherwise unable to do so. There are two types of advance directives: • Living Will-Details and records the care individuals do or do not wish to receive at a time when they are no longer able to speak for themselves. • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care-Also known as a “health care proxy,” this document is usually prepared in addition to a living will. It allows you to appoint an individual, called an agent, attorney-in-fact or proxy, to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to do so.
Security is usually a big concern for many newcomers to online banking. Banks have taken great measures to ensure the safety of their customers online. For example, sites use encryption to protect information from outsiders. Encryption basically means that as information is sent back and forth on the site, it is scrambled. This is a successful safety feature. Also, with online banking, if you have been inactive for a period, usually 10 minutes, the site automatically signs you out. Banks take even more measures to protect your security with online banking. In most cases, you are not liable for unauthorized activity on your account online. Also, with online bill pay, if the bank makes a mistake and does not pay the bill on time, in most cases the bank takes care of the late fee. There are some additional steps you can take to help with security for online banking: • Never share your password or account login with anyone. Never, ever, pass that information along in an e-mail or respond to an e-mail asking for it. This is a common scam. • Keep on top of your account activity. Immediately report anything that looks suspicious. • When you are finished with your session of online banking, logout. To be even more secure, you can close your browser to make sure that the pages you were looking at are cleared. GETTING STARTED As a mature family, you may find online banking to be very convenient. It can be simple and save you First, be sure that your bank offers online bank- time. You may just wonder how you ever lived ing. Almost all major banks do, as well as many without it.
■ BY ARA
www.naela.org or by phone at (520) 881-4005. Within the site is a search field to find an elder law attorney in your area.
doesn’t charge ATM fees or one that will allow you to easily and inexpensively pay bills online? Also, make sure the bank’s products and services fit your habits. If you tend to be a frequent cash and debit card user, will your new bank be able to issue you a debit card instantly? Are the ATMs easily accessible and does the bank charge you fees when you use another bank’s ATM? • The bank’s staff. Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable? Can they communicate with you in ways that make you feel comfortable, and are they available when you need them? Do they try to get to know you by name? Are transactions handled efficiently? If there’s an error, how is it handled? Is the bank truly customer-service focused? • Fees. Whether you’re looking for a loan or just looking to open a checking account, you want to manage your money in the most cost-effective way. Before comparing products, consider some of your financial habits, such as how much money you keep on deposit each month and how many checks you tend to write. Then, evaluate the various fees a bank charges or doesn’t charge for its products. • Possible perks. In today’s competitive marketplace, banks are offering various incentives to open an account or obtain a mortgage through them. Finally, choose a bank that makes you feel comfortable and is customer focused. Consider all the products and services offered, and choose an FDIC-insured bank that best fits your needs, as they relate to your financial goals and requirements.
Marketing is a Challenge for Small Business Owners
n shaky economies, companies that invest in their marketing often come out on top. But for small business, making these investments often feels risky. Not only are time and resources tight, many small business owners feel they lack the knowledge to make the marketing choices that provide a return. In fact, figuring out “what works” is the top marketing concern for nearly 80 percent of small business owners, according to a recent survey by Deluxe Corp. “Most small business owners are talented at their trade, but not at promoting their businesses,” says Stephanie Chandler, entrepreneur, speaker and author of “LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business.” “They’re willing to work long hours and invest whatever is necessary to grow their businesses, but demystifying the marketing process and having the confidence to try new approaches can
be daunting, especially if they have tried something in the past and were burned,” she said. The survey also showed that more than 60 percent of small business owners would be more confident investing in marketing if there was a way to guarantee return on investment. Chandler says that there are five things all small business owners can do to rev up their marketing and see better results: • Plan the work, then work the plan: Decide specifically what you want your marketing to do — raise awareness, generate leads, retain customers — then choose the marketing elements that will accomplish your goals. Stick to the plan and give your efforts time to work. If you are not sure where to begin, SCORE, counselors to America’s small businesses, offers free advice. • Let leads lead you: Look at the leads you are already generating, or the ones that most often convert to actual customers. Ask
them how they found you so you can efficiently invest in those areas to increase your likelihood of success. • Ask an expert: If you have a specific marketing need, like designing a logo or writing Web copy, ask an expert for help. Look for resources among your peers or in online forums. • Polish your social skills: Social media is here to stay. Look at sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. See where your customers are engaged and join the conversation. Start with one tool. If it is working, it is easy and free to keep building your social media connections. • Know what success looks like: Decide what indicates success for your business — new customers, leads, Web site visits, coupon redemption — and track your progress over time. Look for times when your marketing efforts overlap with increased performance.
Make People’s United Bank part of your business plan. We’re ready to put our experience and comprehensive business products to work for you.
People’s United Bank has over 169 years of responsible banking decisions, a community focus, award-winning service, and all the products and services a business like yours needs.
©2011 People’s United Bank | Member FDIC | Equal Opportunity Lender
Perspective April 23
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PERSPECTIVE 2011 CREDIT UNIONS
Learn the Credit Union Facts Credit unions cannot simply offer their services to anybody who has a pulse. Instead, they are limited to working with those who share the common ost people never notice the differences bond. If a credit union fails to limit membership in between credit unions and banks. this way, they risk losing their status as a credit However, as an educated consumer union. looking to get the best deals (that is Once you join a credit union, you may be able to you, right?) you should know how the institutions use branches of different credit unions around the differ. By reading these fast facts about credit country with CU Service Centers. unions, you’ll know what to expect. In its simplest form, a credit union gets money A credit union is an institution owned by the from its customers and loans that money out to “members” or customers. Credit unions are non- other customers. profit organizations that strive for service. Note Credit unions will typically offer the same prodthat I said that credit unions are nonprofits, how- ucts and services as larger banks. However, some ever they are not charities. Credit unions must credit unions will choose not to offer every product make sound financial decisions. and service out there. The reason is that these credIf all the customers own the credit union, then it unions do not do the same amount of volume who has time to run the place? Credit unions actu- that larger banks do. Credit unions will more likely ally have the same types of personnel as banks. only offer the products and services that a large portion of the membership is likely to use. Remember how we talked about the members owning the credit union? Some credit union products have different names than their banking counterparts. Your deposits are called shares because they represent ownership (like shares of stock) in the institution. Because credit unions tend to focus on service, the rates can be better at a credit union. If you are a rate shopper, you may not find the attractive CD sales By joining a credit union, people often find they can save money on loan as often. However, a interest rates and on many financial services. long-term relationship with a good credit Upper management consists of a board of directors union can be profitable. who makes decisions on credit union operations. Remember that some credit unions do not offer This board is composed of elected volunteers. the whole universe of products and services that They don’t do it for pay — rather, they’re credit larger banks will. This can give the banks an advanunion members who want a say in how the place is tage if you happen to want those particular servicrun. es. So, what does it take to be a member of a credit Credit union deposits are insured very much like union? It depends on the credit union. Credit your bank deposits. The organization that insures unions simply have to limit their offerings to peo- the two types of institutions is different. ple who have a common bond. This bond may be However, the quality of insurance is the same in the geographic community, a workplace, a religion, my mind: backed by the full faith and credit of the or other type of bond. U.S. government. ■ BY JUSTIN PRITCHARD ABOUT.COM
Credit Unions Often Offer Lower Rates on Charge Cards ■ BY CREDIT UNION NATIONAL ASSOCIATION
EW YORK - CNN and The Wall Street Journal, in their coverage about the new credit card rules that became effective Monday, Feb. 22, 2010 told consumers worried about increases in their credit card rates that they can go to credit unions for lower rates. On Monday, Feb. 22, CNNMoney.com’s Gerri Willis discussed the changes from several provisions of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009. Calling the act a “new era with credit card companies playing by new rules,” she noted that card companies will lose $11 billion a year in interest and fees, and to make that up, they will create new fees. Consumers who don’t want to pay higher fees on their credit cards have several alternatives, Willis said. The first she mentioned was credit unions. “You can go to credit unions, which are less likely to charge fees and penalties on credit card accounts than banks do,” she said. Willis noted one must be a member of a credit union through an organization. To find a credit union to join, “ask your employer or your college
alumni association or go to creditunion.coop to find one.” The Saturday, Feb. 20 issue of The Wall Street Journal also discussed the changes that began to take effect Monday. “Credit unions often offer lower rates than large banks, although some of their rewards programs are less generous than those of big banks,” the Journal said. “There are more than 8,000 credit unions in the U.S., and they tend to have pretty expansive definitions of who can join. The criterion for joining some credit unions is as simple as your ZIP Code,” the article said. “Navy Federal, the nation’s largest retail credit union, offers rates as low as 7.9 percent on a basic platinum Visa card for three million members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps and their families,” said the Journal. “That compares with an interest rate as low as 11.99 percent on a Citibank Platinum Select MasterCard, touted as one of the cheapest rates around by Lowcards.com, a card-comparison website,” the newspaper said. “The average rate at the end of last year was roughly 14 percent, according to the Federal Reserve,” the Journal reported.
The Future of Credit Unions
ASHINGTON - While the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) recently has focused more on “addressing credit unions’ immediate problems,” NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said that both the NCUA and the credit union movement in general “have stronger reason for long-term optimism” and “can again think of the credit union industry’s longer-term potential” as the economy begins to recover. Matz said that the NCUA will closely monitor credit unions for any potential red flags. Specifically, the NCUA will look “very closely” at credit unions holding too many fixed-rate, longterm mortgages, and take additional actions to avert drains on the credit union system. In spite of a difficult economy, Matz reiterated that credit unions were one of the few parts of the financial system that did not buckle under the stress of the economic crisis and continued to make loans, provide “advice and reassurance,” modify mortgages, and help Americans regain their stability and financial confidence. Matz outlined several areas where credit unions
can make headway in the near future. These include: • Expanding their online service offerings; • Offering low-cost, short-term loans to consumers “that are currently dependent on often harmful payday loan providers,” according to Matz; • Expanding member business lending by increasing or outright eliminating the current 12.25 percent of assets cap and supplemental capital. Specifically, Matz said that increasing online offerings will reduce credit union expense ratios, “overcome physical distance, cost lessm and serve more members” while appealing to a “new generation of tech-savvy consumers, who expect more than face-to-face transactions at a teller window.” Matz said that the NCUA, in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association’s Technology Council, will discuss the potential that increased use of new technology presents at an upcoming webinar this spring. The NCUA later this year also hopes to release a proposal “that will make it more attractive for credit unions to offer payday-loan alternatives,” such as short-term loans, Matz added.
Persepctive April 23
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6, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 COLLEGE INVESTING
Start Saving Money Early to Reduce College Debt in the Future ■ BY ARA
Unfortunately, this has occurred against the backdrop of the current recession, which has hether you intend meant the elimination of many to send your child scholarship programs. According off to college or to U.S. News and World Report, plan to pursue an financial aid will get tougher for academic or vocational path for anyone hoping for free money yourself, reducing student debt from any of the three main load makes good financial sense, sources of scholarships: governespecially since the sticker shock ments; charities, foundations and of almost all kinds of post-sec- corporations; and schools. ondary education can be dauntNow is the time to learn the ing. ins and outs of funding a postThe net price of four-year col- secondary education. Here are leges has risen rapidly since 2002 some tips to help you get “smart” and the average increase in about paying for education costs. tuition and fees at public four• Start an education savings year colleges in 2008-2009 was plan. If your children are quite 6.5 percent, according to the Col- young, or if you are making plans lege Board. Twenty percent of of your own, you may want to students attending colleges and consider putting savings aside, Your relatives and friends may tributing to your education savuniversities experienced an taking out a prepaid tuition plan also want to participate in your ings as part of their holiday giftincrease of 9 percent or more. or establishing a 529 plan. family’s savings strategy by con- giving or to mark special occasions such as a marriage, anniversary, or birth of a child. Or, you can decide to set aside any such cash gifts and keep them in an education savings account to redeem later, when needed. ■ BY METRO first form you complete, even if you’re aware you • Check out scholarships. don’t qualify. Beyond scholarships offered by s hundreds of thousands of high school Other types of financial aid, such as state grants individual colleges and universiseniors across the country ready them- and loans, typically require that you fill out the ties, look for scholarships in selves for their final year of high FAFSA, so this should be done first and as soon as unusual places. Community school, many of those students and possible. foundations, civic groups, relitheir parents are getting acquainted with the • Go for the gold: Students should apply for all gious groups, chambers of comfinancial aid process. With college on the horizon types of available aid, be it a loan from Uncle Sam merce, charitable trusts, public and the economy in flux, more and more families or individual grants and scholarships. companies, and private organizaare expected to seek financial aid to help finance Each school has a number of unique scholar- tions also offer scholarships. their kids’ college educations. ships and grants, and parents and students will It’s also important to familiarEven for parents who have done it before, the never know about them unless they ask. ize yourself with tax considerafinancial aid process can be confusing. For parents It’s typically free to apply, so it can’t hurt to tions related to scholarships, as of high schoolers about to begin their secondary apply for anything and everything. scholarships are tax-free on cerschool swan song, consider the following tips to • Seek help and advice: Particularly for parents tain qualifying tuition and fee successfully navigate your way through the finan- going through it for the first time, the college and (but not room and board) costs. cial aid process. financial aid application process can be over• Consider the impact of infla• Don’t stall or procrastinate: Financial aid whelming and even intimidating at times. High tion. College prices today are not partially works on a first-come, first-serve basis, so schools have counselors who have been through going to be the same as they will it’s best to apply as soon as you can (January 1st). the process numerous times and who are more be in the year 2027, when chilYou can estimate income or simply look at your than glad to help. dren born in 2009 will likely final W-2 for the year to answer questions regardIf your child has a particular school in mind, begin their freshman year. ing yearly earnings and finances. don’t be afraid to contact that school’s financial The College Board reports that • Begin with the FAFSA: The Free Application aid office and ask for help as well. That’s why such published college prices rise for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be the offices exist. more rapidly than other goods
College Application Process Awaits High School Seniors
College expenses are rising faster than the rate of inflation, so students planning to attend college should start looking early at ways to reduce their costs.
and services, a trend that has persisted for more than 30 years. Continuing this compounding trend forward 18 years, this could result in four-year education expenses costing literally tens of thousands of dollars more than an equivalent education today. So it is important to budget and save in accordance with the cost of education in the future and not simply base a savings plan on the cost of an education today. • Plan for the long term. Having a life insurance plan can add
May is 529 month!
financial security for your family’s education. If you haven’t put a life insurance plan in place, now is a good time to do so. For example, should your heirs need financial assistance after you’ve passed away, a life insurance benefit could be used to help pay for their post-secondary education. By taking these steps and seeking help from qualified financial advisors, you have a better chance of making your family members’ post-secondary education as debt-free as possible.
GR A NT S
HELP MAKE THE DREAM A REALITY! Start planning ahead for your child or grandchild’s future education expenses today with the NextGen College Investing Plan®, Maine’s Section 529 plan that provides a tax-advantaged way to invest in their future. A little planning today can go a long way toward providing your child with the gift of a college education.
Plan for tomorrow by investing today in the NextGen College Investing Plan . ®
Ask your Maine bank, financial advisor, or FAME about Maine benefits.
1-800-228-3734 or FAMEmaine.com
NextGen is a Section 529 plan administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Before you invest in NextGen, request a NextGen Program Description from your Maine bank or financial advisor, or call FAME at 1-800-228-3734 and read it carefully. The Program Description contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in NextGen, which you should carefully consider before investing. You also should consider whether your home state or your designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state’s 529 plan. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, a registered broker-dealer, member SIPC, is the program manager and underwriter.
Persepctive April 23
Cyan Magenta Yellow Black Bangor Daily News, Saturday | April 23, 2011, 7
PERSPECTIVE 2011 CREDIT UNIONS
Take Eight Steps to Solve Problems Raised by Identity Theft ■ BY CONSUMERREPORTS.COM
D theft is real, but is overhyped by companies selling pricey services. These eight steps can secure your identity for less. After trending downward for four years, identity theft is on the rise again. Last year more than 11 million consumers were hit by the crime. That’s a record, according to Javelin Strategy and Research, a California company that has surveyed 5,000 adults on the subject every year since 2003. The jump is partly a result of the recession, Javelin says, when fraud tends to spike. But you don’t need to sign up for expensive services offered by credit-reporting bureaus and other companies to keep your identity safe. Most of their products are unnecessary or ineffective, or they duplicate things you can do yourself free. Our own assessment of some two dozen identity-theft protection products crowding the market found dubious value. Here’s how to protect yourself. 1. Get serious, not scared. Don’t let the horror stories freak you out. The worst-case scenario — where someone opens new credit-card accounts or commits other crimes using your name, Social Security number, or other information — is relatively uncommon. That nightmare happened to less than 1 percent of all U.S. households in 2005, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Justice. Half of that group resolved the problem, usually in less than a day to two weeks. The most common form of ID theft isn’t even what most people think of as ID theft: It’s old-fashioned credit-card fraud and check-kiting, with someone fraudulently accessing your credit- or debit-card account. It affects about 4 percent of households. What’s more, in most cases, your liability is legally limited, and credit-card issuers or banks pay the direct losses, not you. Most victims suffered no out-of-pocket costs last year; those who did lost only $373 on average, half the amount lost in 2007, Javelin says. That’s well below the $1 million to $2 million guarantees that many identity-theft protection services trumpet to suggest that your losses could be catastrophic. You can protect yourself by taking these lowtech, common-sense precautions: • Never give your Social Security number or other information to strangers who call, text, or send e-mail messages to you, even if they seem legitimate, as with phony “phishing” e-mail that looks like it comes from your bank. And don’t write your Social Security number on checks (except
Identity theft can reverberate through an individual’s or couple’s finances if steps are not taken immediately to head off potential thefts after ID theft occurs.
those you send to the IRS), noncredit applications, or other forms. • Never leave your wallet or purse unattended. Don’t carry your Social Security card, rarely used credit cards, or written PINs or passwords. • Store financial account statements, medical records, and tax filings in a secure place at home, especially if you let workers or others inside, and shred those documents when you no longer need them. • Don’t post your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, first pet’s name, or other personal information on websites like Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, or Twitter. They’re often used to verify your identity and could allow an imposter electronic access to your accounts. • If your bank or credit-card issuer offers free online or mobile alerts that will warn you of suspicious account activity as soon as it’s detected, sign up for them. The alerts are different from the expensive credit-monitoring services that banks also sell. (You don’t need those.) 2. Place security freezes and fraud alerts. You can shut out ID thieves before they cause damage by placing a security freeze on your credit reports at all three major credit bureaus: Equifax (NYSE: EFX - News); Experian; and Transunion. It will prevent anyone from looking at your credit report except for the companies that already have a financial relationship with you, certain government agencies, and other exempt entities. To sign up for one, go to each bureau’s home page and look for the security-freeze link. If a lender can’t pull your credit report, it isn’t likely to grant new credit to someone else in your
name. So a security freeze is an excellent deterrent against fraud. But like all deterrents, it isn’t fail-safe. “Some creditors, such as payday lenders, will give credit without getting a credit report,” says Rebecca Kuehn, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s division of privacy and identity protection. If you haven’t placed a security freeze and you spot a sign of identity theft, put an initial fraud alert on your credit report immediately. That’s fast, free, and stays in place for 90 days. It also gives you additional legal protection. After that, request a security freeze. Prospective lenders are supposed to see a fraud alert on your credit file and call you to find out whether the application is legitimate. Filing a fraud alert is appropriate anytime your identity information is compromised, such as when your wallet, cell phone, or computer is lost or stolen, or if your home or car is broken into. But you should also do it after more-subtle warning signs, such as finding unauthorized charges on your credit-card statement (even if quickly resolved) or failing to receive expected bills or mail. Fraud alerts are free; security freezes typically cost $5 to $10 per person per credit bureau each time you place or temporarily lift one. Prices range from free to $20 depending on state law. But if you’re a victim of ID fraud, freezes are usually free. You can initiate a freeze online directly with each credit bureau; for fraud alerts, you only need to inform one bureau, which will pass the request on to the other two.
3. Secure your devices. If you access the Internet on your computer, you probably already know about the need for a firewall; regularly updated anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-phishing software; and strong passwords with upper- and lower-case letters, numerals, and symbols like #, &, and $. But you might not think about other wide-open doors to your identity. Make sure your smart phone, iPad, other mobile devices, and portable flash drives containing personal data have security applications and encryption in case they’re lost or stolen. 4. Keep an ID-theft file. Because identity theft is now a fact of life, it’s a good idea to set up a folder for certain documents and data and keep it in a secure place. Include credit reports, security-freeze documents and passwords, copies of annual privacy notices, securitybreach notices, and potential ID-theft evidence, such as mail to your address in someone else’s name. This is also the place to keep photocopies of the contents of your wallet — the front and back of your driver’s license, credit cards, club membership cards, etc. — in case it’s lost or stolen. 5. Review all your personal data files. Check your credit report periodically for items that you don’t recognize — such as accounts, judgments, liens, collections, bankruptcies, and other possible footprints of identity theft — and dispute all erroneous and fraudulent information. Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every year from each of the big three credit bureaus. Stagger your requests so that you’ll get your file from one of them every four months. You should order your free reports at www.annualcreditreport.com. You’re also entitled to an additional free report from each bureau whenever you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Other data brokers keep files on you. Irregularities could mean someone is using your ID to work, tap your health benefits, rent homes, or write bad checks. You have a right to free copies each year and to dispute errors in them. 6. Stop unsolicited credit-card offers. One way crooks steal your name is by swiping preapproved credit offers from your mailbox to open an account. They can then watch your mailbox to lift the new card you didn’t know was coming. You can stop credit bureaus from selling your name to lenders by going to www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 888-567-8688. Opting out See ID THEFT, Page 20
Is Your Bank Squeezing Still More Profits Out of You? Big banks answer to stockholders, and when profits are on the line they’ll squeeze everything they can out of you. At Maine Savings, we don’t have stockholders. We answer to you—our members. So while you’ll find all the services of a big bank, you’ll find those services without the tight grip of big bank executives. It’s your money. Move your banking to Maine Savings. Bangor | Bar Harbor | Brewer | Corinth | Ellsworth | Hampden | Milo | North Vassalboro
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We treat you like you own the place … because you do!
Perspective April 23
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8, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 CREDIT UNIONS
NorState FCU Offers Commercial Loans, Services to Businesses
ADAWASKA — Having moved into its seventh decade of service to its members and having started as a credit union to serve workers of Fraser Papers Inc. in 1941, the NorState Federal Credit Union is dedicated to bringing Business and Commercial products to businesses of all sizes. In the last 13 years NorState has developed a strong commercial emphasis with James Pelletier, vice president of commercial services, heading the effort. Along with CEO David Rossignol, Pelletier’s group has more than 40 years of experience in commercial lending. They serve all of Aroostook County and the northern fringes of Penobscot County. Over the years, the Business Department has developed its commercial lending portfolio to $30 million. That’s about 12 percent of NorState’s loan portfolio of $115 million. While the credit union has been doing some commercial lending since it started in 1941, “we now have an experienced staff that emphasizes helping business,” Pelletier said in a recent interview. Pelletier has 27 years of experience in credit union and banking services. He has more than 30 years of experience in banking and credit unions in northern Maine and California. “Our group has really put a lot of work into the development of commercial lending,” Pelletier said. “We have full-time staff dedicated to just commercial lending, and we move throughout Aroostook County, oftentimes going to the client who can’t make it to one of our six offices.” He said the group has developed 200 commer-
Members of Norstate Federal Credit Union use the drive-through lanes at the credit union’s headquarters in Madawaska.
cial accounts dealing with real estate loans, equipment purchases, credit-card processing, the buying of vehicle and equipment especially in the construction and woods industries, building purchases, rental property purchases, “mom and pop stores,” and lines of credit. He said the scope of commercial lending at NorState involves real small enterprises to real large ones. “We provide many businesses in Aroostook County, including car dealerships and used car outlets, with quality business services and products that assist our members with the tools they need to meet their customers’ demands,” Pelletier said. “We have a full-time commercial person in Fort Kent, the branch manager in Presque Isle is trained, and myself and the staff at Madawaska,” he said. His group works with the Northern Maine Development Corp., the Small Business Administration, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the Finance Authority of Maine on their scores of accounts. “Government guarantees allows us to do loans we would not normally do for comAt NorState Federal Credit Union’s headquarters in Madawaska, a receptionist mercial enterprises,” explained. greets members in the lobby. NorState serves Aroostook County and the northern Pelletier fringes of Penobscot County. “Along with that we
James Pelletier is the vice president of commercial services at NorState Federal Credit Union.
have the ability to make decision right here, inhouse. “We very often go to the site of the business when the person cannot make it to our offices,” he said. “With six offices throughout the county, it makes it easier all around.” NorState has offices in Madawaska, Fort Kent, Van Buren, Eagle Lake, Ashland and Presque Isle. The U. S. Route 1 office at Presque Isle is the newest addition that came on line about 18 months ago. “That office has been well received by local people in the central Aroostook area and St. John Valley residents who attend schools of higher learning in Presque Isle,” Pelletier said. Along with the large commercial lending efforts and their normal individual member services, NorState stresses community assistance, Pelletier explained. They urge staff members at all their sites
to become involved in their communities. “We stress volunteering by staff members, and we also monetarily invest in many community projects throughout the area,” he said. NorState is an official sponsor of the 2011 IBU World Cup Biathlon in both Fort Kent and Presque Isle, the Acadian World Congress 2014, and many other area festivals and events. NorState Federal Credit Union has an excellent selection of convenient products to aid business members and traditional members alike with everyday needs, such as: • Mobile banking; • Online banking; • Bill Pay; • Direct deposit and payroll deductions; • Business checking, lending, and credit-card processing; • VISA products; • Insurances for homes, vehicles, and more through a partnership with Equinox Insurance of Aroostook; • Many lending and savings products for all life stages. Since its humble beginnings in a small back office at Fraser Papers in Madawaska, NorState has become a giant among Maine’s 64 credit unions. NorState has more than 12,980 members and assets totaling nearly $138 million. The credit union has more than 65 employees at its six locations. NorState is the largest credit union in Aroostook County and is the 13th largest credit union in Maine. It is federally insured by the NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender. For more information about NorState, log onto www.norstatefcu.org.
Perspective April 23
Cyan Magenta Yellow Black Bangor Daily News, Saturday | April 23, 2011, 9
PERSPECTIVE 2011 TRAVEL
Travelers Make Their Travel Connections by Flying from BIA ■ BY BRIAN SWARTZ, SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
Philly. Expecting a weather delay there, I rejoiced when the commuter jet lifted off for Richmond. angor International Airport boasts its There the plane descended through the clouds near connections with major American air- Richmond International Airport (FAA-identified ports, from which folks departing the as “RIC”), and I saw Virginia’s lovely autumn hues Queen City can reach Parts Unknown spreading among the hardwoods bordering the around the world. James River. Not having traveled outside Canada, Mexico, Off the plane, out the gate, and to the rent-a-car and the U.S. of A., I cannot attest to BIA’s interna- counter: At 12 noon, slightly more than five hours tional connections, but I can prove that unlike a after my plane left Bangor, I rolled from the RIC particularly silly Maine phrase, “I can get they-ah parking garage and headed to the day’s first battlefrom he-ah”by way of BIA’s domestic connections. field stop. Every year my son and I meet somewhere Way Five-plus hours from Bangor to Richmond BatDown South in Dixie to visit Civil War battlefields; tlefield National Park: That’s a heckuva deal on any he has inherited the hobby from me. Since Chris Mainer’s travel schedule. lives below the Mason-Dixon Line, we spend a few In 2010, Chris and I targeted Charleston, S.C., glorious days together exploring sites in Georgia, with a side trip to Savannah. Driving made no Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, sense: Charleston’s two days out from Bangor for a Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia. solo driver. Air-fare comparisons with Manchester and Portland revealed insignificant savings when I added gas, tolls, and parking-space rentals. So I flew BIA to Philly to Charleston International Airport. That cold November day, the jet departed Bangor by 7 a.m. and landed to sunshine and the low 40s at Philadelphia. The connecting flight landed to brilliant Palmetto State sunshine and the mid-70s shortly after 12 noon. By the time Chris arrived on his Airline passengers await their departure at Bangor International flight, I possessed the rental-car Airport’s Domestic Terminal. keys; we loaded our bags and headed to Sullivans Island to tour In 2009, we met in Richmond to tour Piedmont Fort Moultrie. and Tidewater battlefields in Virginia. Figuring that Six hours after leaving Maine, I was footloose Washington, D.C. lies a good 12-to-14-hour drive and fancy-free in Charleston. And flying home via from Bangor and calculating that drive time Philadelphia took only five hours. I just missed the against the projected flight time, I booked a round- Veterans Day parade that Nov. 11, when the weathtrip flight Bangor to Richmond via Philadelphia. er was as sunny in Bangor as in Charleston. The jet departed BIA on time and landed amidst Bangor to San Antone, Bangor to Nashville, Bancold rain drops and an east-bound cold front in gor to Atlanta, Bangor to Charleston: Flying from
NEWS File Photo
A regional jet lifts off from Bangor International Airport while bound to a Midwestern hub (above). Passengers depart a US Airways regional jet at Bangor (below).
• Minimal drive time to the airport; • For me, no airport parking fees. I call a cab, friend, or relative; • No long TSA lines: Those who’ve experienced a Logan International security jam-up and subsequent pat-down will know what I mean; • Coming home. When my flight approaches Bangor in daylight, I enjoy watching for familiar landmarks as the jet flies over the Penobscot Valley. At night, the twinkling street lights in Brewer Bangor International Airport, which is less than 10 and Bangor resemble so many candles on a “welmiles from my home, took me to these destinations come home” cake. There’s something special about and others over the years. feeling a commuter jet ease its tires onto the BIA I love the BIA convenience. The advantages to tarmac; we’ve come home to Maine, no matter if using Bangor include: we live near the airport or a few hours away.
Bangor International Airport
“Bangor International Airport is critical to our business.” One strategy Bill Buckley has used to make Coffee News such a success is bringing franchise owners here for hands-on learning. Bangor International Airport’s nonstops and connecting flights make it possible for business people to meet face-to-face. For Bill, that’s as critical as… something good to read with his morning coffee.
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Perspective April 23
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10, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 ACCOMMODATIONS & RETAIL
Long and Scenic Hike Ascends the South Ridge of Cadillac ■ BY BRIAN SWARTZ, SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
limb on high to see the Acadia sky. Mountains shape Acadia National Park and, of course, Mount Desert Island. Most visitors approach MDI from the north, and the familiar Champlain Mountainwest-to-Bernard Mountain skyline dominates the horizon. Sailors and Cranberry Isles residents enjoy a 180-degree view, naturally, a view that I would argue surpasses the Million Dollar View from Route 1 in Sullivan — at least when fog doesn’t roll across Eastern Way. Avid Acadia hikers have their favorite summertime mountain trails. I like the Parkman Mountain-to-Bald Peak jaunt (“wow-wee” views across Upper Hadlock Pond), South Bubble Trail, and Pemetic Mountain Trail. Many hikers — and I really can’t disagree — claim the South Ridge Trail on Cadillac Mountain as their favorite Acadia ascent. Hike this trail this summer to find out why. The 3.5-mile South Ridge Trail ascends Cadillac’s southern spine and provides, particularly past the treeline, stunning views of earth, sea, and sky. Photos by Brian Swartz The trail starts at a sign post located on Route 3, At this point on the 3.5-mile South Ridge Trail on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, north-bound hikdiagonally across from the Blackwoods Campers catch their first full view of the mountain’s summit - still more than a mile away. Because it offers excelground entrance. Set beside granite steps, the sign lent views once past the treeline, the South Ridge Trail attracts hikers by the hundreds in summer. informs hikers that the Cadillac summit awaits them 3.5 miles away. — almost imperceptibly — while winding across shaded glen, the trail reaches a weather-beaten sign For the next 0.9 miles, the trail climbs gradually roots, dry terrain, and the occasional muck. In a post directing hikers “straight” to the Cadillac sum-
At the 0.9-mile mark on the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail, a sign points hikers toward the Eagle’s Crag (above), a series of granite ledges jutting from the southeastern slope of Cadillac Mountain. Views open east to Champlain Mountain, Frenchman Bay, Gorham Mountain, Huguenot Head, and The Beehive. Lower on Cadillac’s slopes, blue blazes mark the South Ridge Trail (right).
mit or “right” 0.1 miles to the Eagle’s Crag. Turn right. The trail climbs abruptly and emerges onto granite ledges jutting from the treecovered South Ridge. The Eagle’s Crag provides physically unhindered views across MDI’s eastern peaks — Huguenot, Champlain, Beehive, and Gorham — to Frenchman Bay and Schoodic Point. Otter Creek Valley lies below and Otter Creek Cove and Otter Point to seaward. The Eagle’s Crag Trail edges north along the ledges and intersects the South Ridge Trail at a four-sign post. From here, the trail rolls relentlessly northward across expansive granite ledges abutted by stubbly jack pines. These aesthetically “cute” trees block most views, except where open ledges extend westward to reveal Pemetic’s forested south ridge matching Cadillac almost foot for foot in elevational gain. Look backward occasionally to enjoy southerly views extending across The Triad and Day Mountain to Eastern Way and the Cranberry Isles. Cairns and painted blue blazes identify the South Ridge Trail as it rises toward the blue summer sky. Higher up, the ledges widen, and views reach across MDI’s Quietside to Swans Island, Frenchboro, and distant Isle au Haut. Now a hiker glimpses Cadillac’s physically imposing heights through the trees, and views open northward See CADILLAC, Page 20
Persepective April 23 Cyan Magenta Yellow Black Bangor Daily News, Saturday | April 23, 2011, 11
12, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News
Bangor Daily News, Saturday | April 23, 2011, 13
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Persepctive April 23
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14, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 TRAVEL
Visit the Forest Denizens Living at the Maine Wildlife Park
oes a porcupine actually throw its quills? Doesn’t a lynx look like a bobcat? Can a Maine black bear be red in color? How big is a bull moose? Learn the answers to such questions this summer by visiting the Maine Wildlife Park, located on Route 26 in Gray and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The park is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., daily through Veterans Day (Nov. 11). Perhaps Maine’s best-kept wildlife secret, the park shelters birds, mammals, and reptiles that cannot survive in the wild. Last year, for example, a young moose calf (age nine weeks in early August 2010) arrived to be raised by park staffers, and at least four Bambisized spotted fawns shared an adjacent pen. Surrounded by a high fence, the visitor-friendly park spreads across a white pine grove and into the adjacent forest. From the gate house, visitors can walk to the immaculately maintained picnic area and visitors’ center, where displays and a video educate people about various Maine denizens. Nearby are the Fish House with its two large aquariums and the Snack Shack, which sells drinks and snacks. Past this facility, visitors decide which animals they want to see first and then
NEWS Photos by Brian Swartz
Standing safely outside the fenfe surrounding the moose enclosure at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, a woman photographs a bull moose in its velvety glory (left). A large black bear displaying an unusual cinnamon coloration strides across the bear enclosure (right).
take the appropriate walkway. Other facilities include the Nature Store, the Wardens’ Museum, and handicap-accessible bathrooms. Among the critters living at Maine Wildlife Park are: • Two mountain lions not always visible during mid-day, but certainly active as feeding time approaches; • Canada lynx, identified by their black-tufted ears;
• Foxes. A raised viewing platform lets visitors see red foxes and a gray counterpart living in a natural setting in adjacent enclosures; • Coyotes, which when not “denned up” might be seen patrolling their enclosure’s perimeter fence; • Three black bears, including two in a rare “cinnamon” or “red” phase. A raised viewing platform lets visitors peer into the bruins’ enclosure, where the smaller cinnamon black bear likes to plunge into the rockrimmed pool; • Deer galore, visiA lynx takes a noontime nap at the Maine ble from Deer Trail; Wildlife Park. • Moose, including A young mother buys shelled corn so her children can an archetypical bull with a gorgeous • Eagles, including the feed the ducks and geese at the Maine Wildlife Park in rack; American bald eagle and Gray. • Raccoons (look for the albino); a majestic golden eagle • Ground hogs, including two living (rare in Maine) injured by striking a Maine trees. These trails connect Deer in a round, open-air display across from spinning wind turbine blade in Califor- Trail and the Moose Yard, a large enclothe mountain-lion enclosure. The “we nia. The eagles live in glass-encased sure that garners visitors when the bite” signs are there for a reason; cute aviaries; moose are active and moving. from a distance, ground hogs (or wood• Turtles displayed in a raised wetland Plan on spending at least two hours at chucks) go nuclear when threatened; accessed by Turtle Path. the park, longer if bringing children and • Skunks (usually asleep by day), porThe Dry Mills Fish Hatchery can be a picnic lunch. At several spots in the cupines, opossums (a wild immigrant reached through a gate near the last dis- park, vending machines sell cracked recently arrived in Maine), geese (watch play. corn that children can feed to deer and out for the aggressive white goose), and The Maine Wildlife Park now features geese and the resident chipmunks, this year a fisher, a large relative of the a free audio tour via a visitor’s cell which now a hand out when they see weasel; phone. Visitors can walk along the one! • Birds, such as turkeys, a vulture, and appropriately named Game Trail and For more information about what’s A red fox watches visitors watching him at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Operated by peacocks; Tree Trail to learn, respectively, about happening at the Maine Wildlife Park, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the park shelters animals that, • Raptors, including various hawks different wildlife species and native log onto www.mainewildlifepark.com. due to injuries or their upbringing, cannot survive in the wild. and owls;
Tour Highlights Piscataquis County Sites ■ BY SHEILA GRANT
Dover-Foxcroft to Sebec, Brownville, Milo, Atkinson, East Dover, and back to Dover-Foxcroft. The tour directs travelers to interpretive signs along the way. The audio tour also includes local tales and poetry by Dover-Foxcroft author Tom Lyford and other storytellers, finger-picking solo guitar by Jim Gallant, and songs and flat picking instrumentals by Sid Stutzman and the Doughty Hill Band. Between songs and stories, motorists are directed to stop and read interpretive signage in each small town along the East Loop tour. Visitors will learn about the region’s first known settler, Abel Blood, who “felled an opening” in Piscataquis County in June 1799. Dover-Foxcroft is the only hyphenat-
ed town name in Maine. East Loop travelers will find out how that came about ver driven by an old mill, monvia a wedding. Another sign is devoted ument, or another oddity to Moses Greenleaf, who created the first along the highway and wonmap of Maine and a companion book, dered what the back story “Statistics of Maine,” in the early 1800s. might be? The importance of the region’s slate Thanks to dedicated volunteers in Pisquarries, railroads, and farms are cataquis County, a new audio tour is explained on various signs. available to answer questions about the The history of one of the county’s region. The “Villages of Piscataquis early volunteer fire departments is County” tour was originally a project of detailed on another. One sign delves into the Penquis Leadership Institute Class of the unique geology of the region. 2006. Spring 2010 marked the release of Most Piscataquis towns grew up along downloadable MP3 file/CD tracks of the rivers, but each village has a special tale East Loop tour, available on the group’s to tell. Stories about the settlers and Web site at www.villagestour.org. early industries that sprouted along the The East Loop tour takes motorists riverbanks are also an important part of from the Southern Piscataquis County the tour. Chamber of Commerce parking lot in There are opportunities for interesting side trips along the route, like the 3.2-mile Pleasant River Walk and the children’s playground in Brownville, the downtown walking tour in Dover-Foxcroft, and multiple historical society museums along the way. The Villages of Piscataquis County Web site is an entertaining destination in its own right. In addition to the downloadable tour, the site offers samples of music and stories, as well as written driving directions. Villagestours.com also contains background information about the Villages project, Piscataquis County claims to fame, maps of the two loop tours (a West Loop Tour is in NEWS Photo by Brian Swartz production), coloring pages Among the sites highlighted in the Villages of Piscataquis County Tour is Low’s Covered Bridge, for the kids, and several other which spans the Piscataquis River between Guilford and Sangerville. interesting features.
A kayaking trip linking Camden and Rockport takes kayakers past two lighthouses and along a rocky and summerhome-dotted shore. According to www.paddletrips.net, kayakers can launch from either Camden or Rockport, but the latter harbor “has more accessible launch facilities.” After navigating boats moored in Rockport Harbor, kayakers paddle along Rockport’s eastern shore and approach rocky Beauchamp Point to port and Indian Island (and its privately owned and well-maintained lighthouse) to starboard. Kayakers can land on Indian Island; use a gravel beach on the north shore. Paddle between point and island and watch the tidal action while steering
northeast past Beauchamp Point. Although the high, tree-capped shore initially blocks northerly views toward the Camden Hills, kayakers can see North Haven across Penobscot Bay. The next landmark is Deadman Point, which “isn’t as bad as it sounds,” yet still attracts stronger waves than those encountered “inside” Beauchamp Point, according to paddletrips.net. Now the Camden Hills start to appear, especially north toward Lincolnville. Note the exquisite summerhomes — some new, some old — sprinkling the shore. Camden and Rockport were blue-collar fishing ports (with lime as a
value-added shipment from Rockport) in the 19th century; today, both harbors primarily shelter pleasureboats, and coastal architecture hints at the wealth transferred to the towns since the midto late 20th century. Keep watch for seabirds, seals, and the occasional porpoises chasing alewives. Continue paddling north past Camden’s Ogier Point (not as geographically defined as Beauchamp Point) and then decide to stand inside or outside Curtis Island and its delightful lighthouse. Curtis Island lies off Dillingham Point. Camden’s main channel runs north of Curtis Island; a bell buoy marks the channel’s approach to the outer harbor. Kayakers venturing into these “outside” waters must mingle with sail- and powerboats, including the beautiful windjammers, so opt for the inside passage near Dillingham Point, where the shallow waters deter most boaters. Backdropped by Mount Battie and its stone tower, the harbor buzzes with maritime activity each summer. Marked by buoys, the main channel passes the extensive Wayfarer Marine facilities on the northeastern shore and loops counterclockwise around the inner harbor. Kayakers can pull ashore at the gravel beach beneath two-acre Harbor Park or put out at the municipal dock; the latter’s quite busy in high summer, so opt for the beach. Downtown Camden’s just a short walk from Harbor Park; kayakers not time-pressed can enjoy a local meal before resuming the trip to Rockport. According to paddletrips.net, the round trip covers 8.4 miles and takes 34 hours.
Persepctive April 23
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PERSPECTIVE 2011 REAL ESTATE
Real Estate Investment Opportunities Exist in Current Market ■ BY ROBY PAGONG
sell and appreciates better too. When fixing distressed homes, see to it that the essential systems are working. Check the electrical system and waterlines as well. The house should be in a livable condition before presenting it to the market.
here is good business in real estate. In fact, most people who live a luxurious lifestyle have invested in real estate. Although this is the case, many are still unfamiliar of how people can earn in this type of industry. In addition to that, many are no longer certain that such investment will give them good returns because of the kind of market we have today. Although the market is down right now, there are still different ways of earning in the real estate realm. What is important is that you are able to spot the opportunities. Here are some of the ways to make money out of the real estate industry. PURCHASE DISTRESSED HOUSES
If you have the capital, it would be great to buy distress homes, repair and redecorate them, and sell them once the real estate market is in better shape. To start with, make sure that you have enough capital. You can start with one
home. Remember, this can be risky because selling a property is difficult today. In order to make sure that you will not be losing, pick a home that is found in a good location. You will be surprised with the number of cheap foreclosed homes in good neighborhoods today.
Most of them do not need a lot of fixing. This is good news for you since you do not need to spend a lot on the repairs and renovations. Avoid highly personalized properties. Such properties are the most difficult to sell. Choose properties that the general buyers would purchase. This is easier to
that property is safe for the occupants. To avoid issues, see to it that you screen the people who will be living in the property. You can find different guidelines in choosing a tenant online. LEASE TO OWN HOME
You can also opt to have a lease-toown arrangement. Here, you can have a contract with the tenant. You earn because he will pay rent for a certain RENT OUT THE period. Aside from that, you will not PROPERTY have difficulty finding a buyer of the house because the renter will purchase Having the property the property from you after the agreed rented is also another way period. of earning from the real estate investment. This is VACATION HOMES one of the better opportuYou can also have a vacation house nities in the real estate and have it rented during certain times industry today. The homeowners who lost their prop- of the year. You enjoy the different tax erties to foreclosure will need a home benefits while earning additional where they can move. This is where income at the same. These are just some of the ways of homes for rent come in. However, you need to know the earning from the real estate industry. In responsibilities of the landlord first. It is order to ensure earnings, make sure that your obligation to maintain the proper- you study the market and the opportuty. You also have to see to it that living in nities first.
Purchase What You can Afford Advantages of Buying “New” ■ BY SONIA SMITH REALESTATEPROARTICLES.COM
hen you want to buy something, you want to make sure to get the best value for your money. Furthermore, you want to check out the commodity and ascertain that it fits your needs. This holds true to a real estate purchase. When you are in search for a home to purchase, you have to plan carefully, since buying a home is costly and is probably the biggest investment you will make in your life. It is of vital importance to plan your real estate purchase very carefully. Searching for a home is not an easy task and is one that requires careful planning. When it comes to a home purchase, the first thing to take into consideration is your budget. You have to inform your agent about the amount of “home” that you can afford. This means that you already have a pre-qualification letter from a
■ BY JAMES HARDY
lender. This letter is very important since it helps you determine the kind of home that you can afford to avoid difficulties on paying your mortgage later on. You have to be specific when it comes to the size of home you want to purchase. Decide how many bathrooms and bedrooms you want and consider an extra space in the backyard. You should also be specific about the area where you want to live. You also have to be sure of the kind of neighborhood that you want to live. These little things make it easier for you to find the right home for you and your family. Finding a good real estate agent is necessary when planning for your real estate purchase. Look for an agent who is competent and is thoroughly knowledgeable. Check out his or her license and find out how long he or she has been in the field. Try to contact the former clients of the agent and ask
about how it was working with the agent. It is important that your agent works full time so he or she will be available anytime you want to discuss something. You also have an option to look for a home by yourself. You should be specific as to the type of home you want to buy and you should check out home listings online. Check out the neighborhood where the home you want to buy is located or drive around a neighborhood you want to live in and find out if someone is selling. When looking for a real estate purchase, it is best that you work with an agent since he or she has access to a lot of home listings and has connections that would make the search easier. The real estate agent will also handle the difficult aspects of a home search. You have to be certain about several things in order for both your real estate agent and yourself to save time and money in the process of looking for a home to buy.
espite the current tricky financial climate, new properties are still being built in abundance. In fact, it’s estimated that an additional 5 million new homes will be constructed by 2027. This, of course, provides a wealth of choice for buyers, but what benefits can you expect when buying a newer property? • Cash incentives: This is a major consideration for most buyers. Builders are obviously keen to sell their new builds, therefore will offer a range of deals, including the payment of the deposit or stamp duty, and even cash towards mortgage payments. The housing market is awash with these deals towards the end of the financial year, when builders/property owners want to move sales quickly. However, always be aware that you will no doubt have to pay out this money first, as it is generally only redeemable upon completion of the sale. • Part exchange: The process itself sound relatively simple, if you are having problems selling your house or simply want to move quickly, then part exchange could be a good option. The seller will arrange for a valuation of your current house, then will offer you a percentage of its market value. It can be very beneficial: You may even be able to pre-pick a plot on a new develop-
ment and reserve a new property price using this option. • All inclusive deals: Again, this can be an attractive proposition for buyers, especially those purchasing their first property. Many companies now include fitted kitchens and appliances in with a sale (e.g. a built-in cooker, fridge freezer, dishwasher, and washer/dryer). The process of purchasing these appliances can be very expensive in itself, so it could be a welcome benefit. Bear in mind, however, that you will no doubt pay a higher premium for this option. • Repairs and maintenance: Generally speaking, you should expect less repairs and maintenance when you move into a new build, compared with older properties that may have multiple age-old issues. You shouldn’t have to worry about paying for new heating systems, faulty electrical systems, or windows/doors when buying a new property, this can save a lot of money, time, and hassle. • Running costs: At a time when fuel bills are on the rise, everyone is looking at ways to reduce their power bills. Generally speaking, newer houses will incorporate features such as insulation and double glazing as standard. Some may also offer you the chance to use solar power, a “greener” and cheaper way to run your home. As well as the initial purchase cost of a house, ongoing bills will have a major impact on you, so the opportunity to reduce these costs can be a very welcome prospect indeed.
Page 16 Perspective April 23
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16, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 CREDIT UNIONS
Overcome Five Common Fears That Block Financial Success ■ BY CNNMONEY.COM
veryone’s got concerns when it comes to money, but some have fears that can really put a big hole in their financial future. Here’s how to overcome five common
ones. 1. Fear of coming clean with your partner. You know it’s bad, so bad you’d really rather keep it to yourself. Why, you figure, ruin your partner’s day with news of your mounting debt or the fact that you’ve been living off your savings? Because if you don’t, the truth will out at the worst possible time — like when you go to apply for a mortgage and realize that your credit score or lack of savings is killing your chances of getting that house your partner loves. “Then that creates a double problem. Knowing is safer,” said Ruth Hayden, author of “For Richer, Not Poorer: The Money Book for Couples.” Chances are you’re afraid that your partner will think less of you and want to leave you or, possibly worse, try to control every dollar you spend from now on. But remember, Hayden said, “you’re more than money; there are so many more facets to a relationship. Plus, everyone has some kind of a downside. And money baggage is easier to deal with than others.” Try this: Have the conversation no matter what. It may be uncomfortable but it will pay off down the line, Hayden said. Then make an agreement about what you both want to achieve (e.g., pay down debt, save more for retirement, buy a house) and agree on what you’ll both do (and won’t do) to reach that goal. Beyond that, allow each other autonomy money, money you can spend that the other person can’t question. 2. Fear of not fitting in. Social pressure to conform isn’t in your imagination. Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network of fee-only financial advisors, has worked with plenty of couples who try to support lifestyles they can’t afford because, they say, that’s how people in their professions live. “They think they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” she said. And they’re afraid not to. She knows of one neighborhood in an affluent county of Kansas that’s filled with lots of lovely homes that have no furniture in them because the homeowners are too strapped.“They show that they have money. But it’s all smoke and mirrors,” she said. Everyone wants immediate gratification. But Garrett points out that when it comes to your financial security — which your friends at the country club will never pay for — “you need indef-
inite gratification.” Try this: One way to lighten your load financially and emotionally is to “step back from the immediate and ask what you really want in life,” Garrett said. Maybe it’s an early exit from a high-paying career that leaves you cold, or a retirement that is as comfortable as your current lifestyle. Whatever your goals, figure out where you can ratchet back your spending or boost your income or savings. If you’re in a couple where only one of you works, it might involve the other person forfeiting the stay-at-home life for a return to the workforce. 3. Fear of being penniless. No matter how much you have, you’re always mindful that financial catastrophe could strike. And you’re right. It could. But to focus on that possibility and become a money hoarder is, in some ways, to forfeit your life. “That kind of fear immobilizes us,” said Garrett. “There’s danger and risk in virtually everything you do. And you can’t allow fear to immobilize you.” Try this: Garrett suggests trying to come to terms with more likely and more narrowly defined risks. For example, you could get an illness or disability that prevents you from working for some period, so consider whether you’re adequately insured for that possibility. And likewise, you could live a long life, so map out an adequate savings plan to ensure you live comfortably without running out of money. Of course, if you have a pervasive fear of poverty, it’s likely there can be no one quick fix. So if your
fear controls your every financial move — to say nothing of your relationships — consider exploring the issue with a psychologist to unearth the roots of your fear. “What’s unconscious will run you, and when it becomes conscious it loses its power over you,” said Dr. James Gottfurcht, president of Psychology of Money Consultants in Los Angeles. 4. Fear of success and wealth. It’s hard to ask for a raise. But it’s doubly so when you secretly doubt you deserve it. So you may, unconsciously, sabotage yourself. Garrett knew of one woman who made wellbelow market rate for her job at a charity. Not only did she not ask for a raise that would rectify that, she refused a raise that her board offered her because she felt the money would be better used on the charity’s efforts. End result: She lived like a pauper and donated her financial security to the cause. “First and foremost, you have to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to be responsible,” Garrett said. Otherwise, you undercut your ability to take care of others long-term. Try this: One way to think about a raise you don’t feel worthy of on some level is to break down the numbers. How much is a $5,000 annual raise per hour? If you work a standard work week, it’s $2.40 an hour before taxes. After taxes, it’s probably closer to $1.50. Do you really think if you’re a valuable employee that you’re not worth an extra $2.40 an hour? No? Your boss may disagree because she’ll have
to pay roughly 1.5 times your annual salary to replace you. So it’s worth asking. As with a raise, the financial cushion that can come with an inheritance from your parents or other windfall may feel undeserved because you didn’t do much to earn it. But you can earn it now. Try this: Take responsibility for your good fortune. Another former client of Garrett’s inherited a great deal of family wealth he didn’t feel he deserved. But rather than proving himself right and mismanaging the batch, he confronted his fear by learning to be a good steward of the money and preserving it for future generations. “He got a fishing pole and learned to fish,” Garrett said. 5. Fear of taking the financial reins. College, taxes, retirement, long-term care ... thinking about them can trigger a full-blown migraine when financial planning isn’t your thing. So you tell yourself you’re too busy, too ignorant, or too behind the eight ball as it is. And if ever you got bad service from a broker or advisor, you remind yourself you’ll never do that again. Then you do nothing. But you know nothing is going to bite you someday. Try this: To overcome your fear of taking charge financially, “work up a hierarchy of baby steps that don’t trigger the fear,” said Gottfurcht. The first step is to condition yourself to feel safe. So if you’re not saving for retirement — or just putting all your money in a money market fund — because you’re afraid of investing, just read an article about investing. If that doesn’t wipe you out, you’re desensitizing yourself. Next, “reality test” a specific part of your fear. So if you’re afraid to talk to a certified financial planner because you don’t know what to do and are easily intimidated, send up a trial balloon. Call a planner who comes recommended and make clear you’re not ready to make any decisions today but you’d like to hear some of his ideas. After you’ve increased your comfort level, approach your fear in a painless, low-risk way. For example, if you’re afraid of investing, earmark a small amount of money — say, $1,500—- and set up an automatic transfer of $100 a month from your bank account into a low-cost, broadly diversified index fund with a low minimum requirement such as the Vanguard STAR Fund (VGSTX). “Turn off and put it on autopilot,” said certified financial planner Mari Adam. In a few months, chances are fair you’ll have made some money. But if your balance has declined, consider two things. First, that $100 you invest every month will actually buy more shares when stock prices are down, which is a good thing for long-term investing success. And second, if your balance is lower, it only becomes an actual loss if you sell.
Perspective April 23
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PERSPECTIVE 2011 INSURANCE
Purchase Adequate Life Insurance for Stay-At-Home Parent ■ BY ABOUT.COM
than was typical in the past one income households. Stay-at-home parents are now managing bills, being taxi drivers, or various reasons there has been a shift in the way families and sometimes even are the main educator of their children such as determine their income needs. After a few decades of most- in home-schooling families. All of these tasks are in addition to the ly two income households, there has been a trend in Amer- traditional tasks such as meal preparation, laundry services and ica back to the one income household. housekeeper.
TODAY’S ONE INCOME HOUSEHOLDS ARE DIFFERENT
ALL FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN SHOULD HAVE LIFE INSURANCE
of a financial loss the stay-at-home parent would cause if they died. For example, add up how much it would cost for a family to provide daycare, housecleaning services, taxi services, meal preparation services, and after school care... and this is just a few of the many tasks a stay-at-home parent performs. WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF THE EMOTIONAL NEEDS OF THE CHILD?
These one-income households are different than the “Leave it to Many families now know that life insurance is important for both Unfortunately though, most families just minimally insure the Beaver” days. We now sometimes see fathers staying at home and the stay-at-home parent has chose to add many more responsibilities parents in a one-income household. It is not hard to see how much stay-at-home spouse. The family feels the minimal insurance they have would be sufficient to take care of the above mentioned tasks, at least until the youngest child was out of school. But what about the child’s emotional loss from their deceased stayat-home parent? Can hired help really take care of those needs? What if the working parent realized they needed to be the stay-athome parent for a while... would there be enough life insurance to cover the working parent’s lost wages? THE FIRST FEW YEARS AFTER A LOSS IS CRITICAL
Sadly, most families don’t carry enough life insurance to supply this need. Obviously loosing a parent is very tragic and can have complicated and lasting effects on a child. Usually the first few years are very tough. In most families the best situation would be for the surviving parent to be able to devote themselves full-time to their children for the first few tough years. This can be possible with the proper life insurance coverage. I have read tragic stories of families in this exact situation. The stay at home parent dies, and although the family had life insurance, financially they were fine as long as the surviving parent still worked. But the children were an emotional mess and tragic consequences followed such as bad social choices. The working surviving spouse wanted desperately to be with their children full-time to help them better through their loss. but could not survive financially since they did not purchase enough life insurance. Life insurance, especially term life insurance, is relatively inexpensive and if a family already has a policy on the stay-at-home parent, NEWS Photos by Brian Swartz the family probably would not experience a financial hardship by The bonds between parents and their children are strong. Parents who adding to the existing life insurance amount to cover a few years of purchase adequate life insurance for themselves help protect their chil- time off for the surviving parent to be with the surviving children. See LIFE INSURANCE, Page 18 dren financially if tragedy occurs in the future.
Persepctive April 23
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18, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 INSURANCE
Career Planning is Important in Today’s Volatile Job Market
arely anymore do people stay with the same company for the duration of their careers. Whereas 30 or 40 years with the same company used to be more commonplace, workers now tend to be a little more on the move when it comes to work-
ing. The reasons for changing jobs are many. Oftentimes, employees cite job dissatisfaction as their primary reason for leaving. Feelings of being underappreciated, underpaid and, perhaps most important, unhappy can add up, eventually making going to work
a tough sell each morning. Others, still, credit a lack of challenge as their primary reason for heading on to what they hope are greener pastures. The longer a person’s tenure at a specific company, the more routine their job can become, especially if promotions are few and far between.
Determine Who Needs Life Insurance ■ BY ABOUT.COM
ife insurance is designed to protect your family and other people who may depend on you for financial support. If you die and lose your income, the people that are dependent on your financial support will lose that income, so life insurance can help cover some or all of that loss depending on the policy you choose. But there are instances where life insurance can be beneficial even if you have no dependents, such as your desire to cover your own funeral expenses. Here are some guidelines to help you decide if life insurance is the right choice for you. 1. Children: Children do not need life insurance. Yes, there have been cases where life insurance for one’s child has been a blessing, but in the majority of cases, children do not need life insurance since no one depends on income from them.
2. Beginning families: Life insurance should be purchased if you are considering starting a family. Your rates will be cheaper now than when you get older and your future children will be depending on your income. 3. Established families: If you have a family that depends on you, you need life insurance now! This does not include only the spouse or partner working outside the home. Life insurance also needs to be considered for the person working in the home. The costs of replacing someone to do domestic chores, home budgeting, and childcare can cause significant financial problems for the surviving family. 4. Young single adults: The reason a single adult would typically need life insurance would be to pay for their own funeral costs or if they help support an elderly parent or other person they may care for financially. Otherwise, if one has other sources of money for a funeral and has no other persons that
Life insurance Continued from Page 17 All families with children should have life insurance on both parents, regardless of whether they work or not. In addition, those same families should seriously consider adding on to their life insurance policies to take into account the potential loss of income if the surviving spouse would need or choose to devote themselves full-time to their children during the fragile grieving process.
depend on their income then life insurance would not be a necessity. 5. Non-child working couples: Both people in this situation would need to decide if they would want life insurance. If both people are bringing in an income that they feel comfortable living on alone if their partner should pass away, then life insurance would not be necessary except if they wanted to cover their funeral costs. But, maybe in some instances, one working spouse contributes more to the income or would want to leave their significant other in a better financial position, then as long as purchasing a life insurance policy would not be a financial burden, it could be an option. For a low cost life insurance option, look into term life insurance. 6. Elderly: As long as you do not have people depending on your income for support, life insurance at this stage in life would not be necessary, unless again, you do not have any other means to pay for your funeral expenses. But be aware that purchasing a life insurance policy at this age can be very expensive. Before doing so, first talk to a financial advisor or accountant about looking into other saving options to pay for your funeral costs before considering life insurance.
Such routine over time makes the job less challenging, a difficult thing for hardworking, ambitious employees to cope with. However compelling a reason for leaving can be, the decision to change careers is often difficult. The prospect of leaving a comfortable situation with the security of a steady paycheck can be an agonizing decision to make. It’s good to remember the following before changing careers. • Patience pays off. A career change implies you have an existing career, meaning you’re currently not in a position where you need to take whatever you can get. That means there should be no great sense of urgency, such as finding a new job by the end of the month or setting other time limits. Take the time you have to try out any career you’re considering. If you’re thinking of becoming a writer, for instance, take some freelance writing jobs and see how it feels. The comfort of your current career should be a strong ally, affording you the chance and ability to thoroughly examine and experience what you might want to do next. • What’s important to you. Many people change careers because they simply don’t feel as though they have enough time for what’s truly important to them, be it their family, a hobby or other interests. Before changing careers, look into the career you might be changing to and determine if it’s going to afford you the opportunities your current career doesn’t. There’s no use leaving your current job and the salary and seniority you’ve built up for a career that will be just as demanding but will require you to start anew. • Your qualifications. A bachelor’s degree today is what a high school diploma was two decades ago. Most applicants have college degrees, which makes candidates
Contemplating a career change? If you’re already employed, take time to determine which direction to take your career. Compare current pay and benefits to those available elsewhere. If possible, do freelance work in the desired career field to see if it’s as interesting as you think it might be.
with advanced degrees stand out. Know what you’ll be going up against and how your qualifications will look when compared to other potential applicants. While past work experience can often make up for lack of education, that’s not always true for people making a career change. If your career change is truly a radical one, your past experience might be deemed largely irrelevant by prospective employers. Before making a change, know your qualifications and if they’ll make the grade. • You’re starting over. The longer a person has been with a company, the better the benefits. Extra vacation time, higher pay and more scheduling flexibility
are all things most workers earn as they continue to work for one company. A career change, however, can, and likely will, quickly erase all those perks. Workers who have grown accustomed to three or four weeks of vacation per year might find the transition back to the bottom of the totem pole to be more difficult. In addition, make sure that you can financially handle such a restart. Career changes often result in pay cuts. Know how steep a pay cut you can expect to take and discuss the ramifications with family and your financial advisor before taking the leap. If sacrifices will need to be made, it’s best to get your family’s input first.
Perspective April 23
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PERSPECTIVE 2011 INSURANCE
Independent Agency Helps Businesses Reduce Insurance Costs ■ BY BRIAN SWARTZ, SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
he said. “We work closely with contractors because they engage in activities that can be hazardous,” Palman said. “Contractors have a certain social responsibility to protect themselves and others in case of accidents and other problems. They don’t want their employees to get hurt, and they don’t want their equipment damaged or destroyed or damaging the property of others. “They want to protect the assets they’ve worked hard to build up all these years,” he said. “We give them the road map of how to get there,” Palman stated. “We work with our clients to reduce their risks by visiting their facilities, observing how work is done, and recommending changes that can help to minimize the risk of an accident.”
reliable insurance agency can help business clients lower their insurance costs, says Greg Palman, CPCU, CIC. As the Varney Agency’s commercial lines manager, he and the agency’s experienced commercial insurance agents work with companies across Maine to improve employee safety and reduce business insurance expenses. “We make our clients aware that they can control their insurance costs by how safely they run their businesses,” Palman said. “By taking steps long recognized by the insurance industry as effective, a company can reduce workplace injuries,” he said. “This can lead to lower rates for Worker’s Compensation and to higher productivity; a safe work environment leads to fewer employees being out with injuries. Employees who are working safely are improving the bottom line.” Commercial insurance coverage “is very important for every type of business, no matter if it’s someone who’s self-employed or a company with hundreds of employees,” Palman said. He noted that state law often requires a business to obtain insurance coverage. Registering a vehicle requires proof of insurance meeting minimum state INSURING A BROAD CROSS-SECTION limits of liability coverage, and a business with employees must purOF MAINE COMMERCE chase Worker’s Compensation insurance. “These can be costly. Varney Agency agents know how to help you With 14 offices spread from Houlton to minimize your cost,” Palman said. Bedford, N.H., the Varney Agency provides “If you borrow money from a bank to start a business or finance commercial insurance coverage throughan expansion or new equipment, you must be insured before the loan out Maine and New Hampshire. goes through,” he said. The Varney Agency insures businesses “There are liability issues, especially if you invite people to come NEWS Photo by Brian Swartz into your business, say a store or restaurant. What if someone slips At the Varney Agency in Bangor, Buffy Ware is a customer service agent for commercial lines. representing a broad cross-section of Maine commerce. Palman listed several and falls in your store? Do you want to pay that liability and legal defense claim out of your own pocket when liability coverage would “A contractor digs up a fiber-optic line that costs $100,000 to economic sectors: • “Main Street” businesses, such as grocery stores, restaurants, and protect you?” Palman said. repair. Insurance can protect you against that unexpected expense,” retail shops; • Motor carriers and independent truckers; • Publishing companies; • Companies that own and manage real estate; • Auto dealerships, autobody shops, and garages; • Commercial fishing. At the Varney Agency’s Machias office, Michael Hennessey works with commercial fishermen and lobstermen along the coast; • Manufacturing companies, including businesses that make or sell manufactured homes. “You’ve got a production line exposure, a woodworking exposure, a transportation exposure when you move the modules over the road, a lifting exposure when you boom them into place,” Palman said. “We can cover these with different endorsements in a commercial output policy,” he said. “This policy is flexible enough to cover all these exposures.” • Construction companies and project owners. Palman explained that with either new construction or building renovations, a performance and payment bond ensures that if a conNEWS File Photos tractor defaults, the project will be completed. A payment bond Commercial insurance helps protect business owners against accidents ensures that subcontractors are paid if a project encounters financial involving their employees (above) or their workplaces (right). By workdifficulties so that the owner doesn’t have to deal with subcontractors ing with an independent insurance agency, business owners can lower See INSURANCE, Page 20 their insurance costs and improve employee safety.
Perspective April 23
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20, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News
NEWS Photo by Brian Swartz
A kayaker paddles across Eastern Way near Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
NEWS File Photo
By insuring their employees and equipment, business owners protect themselves financially against unexpected expenses caused by accidents, fires, and other disasters.
Insurance Continued from Page 20 filing mechanics liens on their property. At the Varney Agency’s Bangor headquarters, Michael Varney (a Villanova graduate with a major in finance) specializes in writing surety bonds for contractors. A surety bond is a financial guarantee between the bonding company and the project owner that the job will be completed and that all subcontractors and materials suppliers will be paid. Many contractors need surety bonds in order to do municipal, state, and federal construction projects. A surety bond is a financial guarantee. “Doing business with the Varney Agency and Mike Varney ensures you are dealing with someone who understands finance and its relationship to contract bonding,” Palman said. • An organization may offer an expensive prize during a golf tournament. According to Palman, an amateur golf tournament might award a new car as the top prize; tournament organizers could purchase “hole-in-one” insurance to reimburse them for the vehicle’s cost. Similar insurance could cover contests where an ATV, a snowmobile, or a trip might be the prize. • Companies involved in the forest-products sector, including “logging and lumbering,” Palman said, “That’s one of our areas of concentration. We sell logging and lumbering insurance coverage from Kittery to Fort Kent, from Calais to Kingfield. “There is a lot of competition among insurance agents in this business sector,” he commented. “We compete well; we represent [Westbrook-based] Acadia Insurance Co., which is the primary writer of insurance in the logging and wood products industries in Maine.” In conjunction with Millinocket-based Pelletier Brothers Inc., the Varney Agency established a subsidiary, American Loggers Insurance Agency, in 2010 to provide insurance coverage for people employed in the forest-products and trucking industries. “Several other agencies write forestry and trucking insurance,” Varney Agency President Tim Varney told the Bangor Daily News in mid-July 2010. “What will make us unique is that we can go into
Outfitters Lead Many Kayaking Expeditions off Bar Harbor ■ BY BRIAN SWARTZ
forestry accounts and use proven, cost-effective safety programs that the Pelletiers use that have made a huge difference in reducing claims. Obviously, when you avoid claims, you save money.” WORK WITH AN INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENCY
Palman recommended that business owners “work with an independent insurance agency” to obtain “the most comprehensive coverage at the best price.” He indicated that “we represent regional and national companies that we have contracts with to be their agents. Not every single insurance company writes coverage for every conceivable situation; with the companies we represent, we can provide the specific coverage that our clients need. “Our agents are trained to explain to our clients the different types of coverage and the costs involved,” Palman said. “We visit a client and do an insurance assessment” to “identify potential gaps in insurance coverage. We explain how to close those gaps. “Our independent insurance agents will sit and talk with you and explain insurance forms and coverage to you,” he said. “Our experience is that most business owners are pretty savvy about price fluctuations in the insurance market. But they’re less knowledgeable about the types of coverage they should have. Price is important, but making sure you’re properly covered is just as important.” “Work with an independent insurance agency that employs a customer service agent who holds a Maine insurance license and can take your calls and perform the insurance functions you need,” Palman said. “Insurance isn’t complex, but it’s not simple. Insurance products change in response to changes in the legal system. Make sure that the person answering the phone and discussing your insurance needs is aware of these changes,” he said. “Contact an independent insurance agent at the Varney Agency.” For more information about commercial insurance products available through the Varney Agency, call toll-free (877) 947-8637 or log onto www.varneyagency.com.
SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
ayakers flock to Bar Harbor like diners do to the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. East of Penobscot Bay, no other port attracts kayakers like Bar Harbor does. Being the annual gateway to Acadia National Park for more than 2 million people helps, due to sheer numbers, but another factor helps, too: Local outfitters make kayaking look easy. Several kayak outfitters are based on Mount Desert Island; local guidebooks list phone addresses, phone numbers, and Web sites. Competition keeps prices affordable, and although outfitters and their clientele frequent the same waters, every outfitter offers a variation on the kayaking theme. From the Bar Island sand bar to the gravel beach beneath the Bar Harbor Inn to private docks alongside West Street’s bustling commercial district, kayakers launch their colorful craft to explore the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay. Passersby lean over the West Street or Shore Path railings or stand along the sand bar to watch guides lead fledgling kayakers into the local waters. As elsewhere in Maine, MDI outfitters teach people how to handle a kayak, from boarding and disembarkation to safety to proper paddling (“left, right, left, right,” not “left, left, right, right” as I’ve seen canoeists circumnavigate a cove). Training (and
tours) start by mid-morning and continue until nigh sunset. Men, women, and children (the last not too young) don PFDs (i.e., lifejackets) and helmets, listen intently as the guide speaks, and then slip into kayak cockpits and push off for high adventure. From Bar Harbor, the typical kayak tour encompasses Bar Harbor, Bar Island, and Sheep Porcupine Island. Paddles dipping rhythmically and flashing in the summer sunlight, kayakers cruise past the islands’ rugged granite shorelines. The guide details local landmarks, including sea caves and eagle or osprey nests. Wind and wave may change an itinerary. A strong sea breeze can stir chop on Penobscot Bay and roughen the water between Bar Island and Sheep Porcupine (second island from the left when viewed from Cadillac Mountain). A guide will adjust the trip accordingly and keep kayakers
inshore. Some kayak tours turn seaward from Bar Harbor and work along MDI’s eastern shore toward Compass Harbor. Outfitters also launch tours from Bass Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Southwest Harbor, which provide access to Eastern Way, Somes Sound, and Western Way. Inland, kayakers can also access: • Eagle Lake. Take Route 233 west from Bar Harbor and use the trailerable ramp on the lake’s north shore.
• Echo Lake. Use the trailerable ramp just off Route 102. • Jordan Pond. Use the handcarry boat ramp near the Jordan Pond House. • Long Pond. Use the trailerable ramp just off the Pretty Marsh Road in Somesville or a similar ramp on the pond’s south shore in Southwest Harbor. • Northeast Creek. Draining MDI’s northern marshes and streams, this creek flows into Thomas Bay near Mount Desert Narrows. Park at the gravel pullout beside the Route 3 bridge and hand carry a kayak to the creek “inside” the extremely busy highway. Kayakers typically paddle inland, away from the bridge. • Seal Cove Pond. Follow the signs to this remote trailerable ramp beneath Bernard Mountain in Tremont. Of course, kayakers can also launch from any public dock on MDI, including scenic and somnolent Pretty Marsh on the Quietside. Kayakers often use a short beach adjacent to the Northeast Harbor Town Dock; kayakers launching from NEH quickly reach Eastern Way. Kayakers venturing onto salt water must respect the marine environment. Onshore and offshore winds can quickly raise whitecaps and pin muscle-powered kayakers against a lee shore. Even on a perfect summer afternoon when a sea breeze does not reach Acadia’s hidden, tree-shaded glens, Frenchman Bay can rock and roll. The island’s three major ports — Bar Harbor, Northeast, and Southwest — are alive with boats and boaters during summer. Kayakers must constantly watch for boats; not all boaters necessarily watch for kayaks. Enjoy kayaking around MDI this summer. The experience is worth the effort.
ID theft Continued from Page 7
Photos by Brian Swartz
Ascending the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail on a warm August morning (above, left), hikers pass The Featherbed (above, right), a glacial cirque or freshwater pond that tourists who drive to the Cadillac summit cannot see.
Cadillac Continued from Page 10 through Bubble Pond Valley. Then occurs what I call The Moment: The South Ridge Trail reaches a spot where Cadillac suddenly dominates the northern horizon, where a hiker stops and thinks, “Wow!” The earlier, fantastic views south, west, and east really do not compare with the geological wonder flowing north across three discernible humps to a fourth hump, where teeny-tiny humans stand on Cadillac’s actual summit. The South Ridge Trail now rises along Dike’s Peak, named for the faded gray basalt dike laid down when a volcano rumbled beneath Cadillac eons ago. The mountain briefly falls away, especially to westward, as the trail reaches an overlook above The Featherbed. Three cirques, freshwater ponds left by retreating glaciers, nestle among Acadia’s eastern peaks. The Bowl nestles behind The Beehive, and Sargent Mountain Pond (allegedly frequented by skinny-dippers) lies in the col between Penobscot and Sargent mountains. The Featherbed is Cadillac’s cirque. Descending to the pond where frogs croak in summer, the trail intersects the Canon Brook and Pond trails before seriously attacking the last 1.2 miles north to the Cadillac summit.
Views open westward across Eagle Lake, and Dorr Mountain gradually dominates the eastern horizon. At 0.5 miles from the summit, the South Ridge Trail intersects the rugged West Face Trail and angles northeast for the home stretch. Of the trail’s 3.5-mile length, the last half mile teases and threatens. The Blue Hill Overlook sign jutting above the trees suggests an easy jaunt to the top. However, en route the South Ridge Trail assaults a knoll accessed by the trail’s only iron rung, which eases a 7-to-8foot vertical climb over pink granite ledges. Southbound on the South Ridge Trail, a woman fell and died here a few years ago. Considering this fact, the ease with which the trail could be relocated to parallel the road, and the eroded descent awaiting hikers on the knoll’s eastern face, I always wonder why the National Park Service does not bypass this dangerous section. Atop the knoll, the trail crosses ledges adjacent to the Cadillac Mountain Road and turns east to descend behind the gift shop and emerge beside a sign post indicating that Blackwoods Campground lies 4.2 miles “that away.” Finish the hike by walking to the actual summit. Enjoy the northerly views unavailable along the South Ridge Trail. I recommend arranging for a car-driving friend or relative to meet a hiker at the Cadillac summit. Round-trip hikers should follow the Cadillac Mountain Road back to the Blue Hill Overlook and work their way past the knoll to the trail. Do not climb down over the iron rung.
should stop most offers, and it’s free. 7. Monitor accounts often. It’s no longer enough to wait for your monthly credit-card or checking account statement to look for suspicious activity. For added protection, sign up for online access to your accounts and check them regularly, even daily. “Almost a third of victims told us they became aware of an identity theft when they noticed missing money from an account,” says Katrina Baum, acting division director and senior statistician at the National Institute of Justice. “What this tells me is that it really behooves consumers to be vigilant about checking their financial statements and paying attention to their account activity,” she says. And don’t assume that the paper checks listed are legit. Crooks can tap into your funds using fabricated checks with a fictitious name, address, and bank, as long as they use your real account number. Monitor your telephone bills (landline and cellular) to find any unauthorized “cramming” charges for phony services and purchases. As cell phones increasingly become mobile payment devices, fraudulent charges are showing up there, too. 8. Respond rapidly. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, act quickly. Immediately contact your creditors and financial institutions to report unauthorized charges or debits, and close any compromised accounts. Place fraud alerts and security freezes, and get your credit reports from all three credit bureaus so you can review them for irregularities. File a report with your local police and the FTC, and step up your own account monitoring. Chances are good that these actions will resolve the problem in relatively short order and at little or no cost. Don’t let the incident scare you into signing up for identity-theft protection or credit-monitoring services — unless they’re free, which is often the case for a limited time after corporate or government data breaches. Make sure a breach notice is not an identity-theft trick itself, and remember to cancel the subscription when the free period runs out.
Page 21 Perspective April 23
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PERSPECTIVE 2011 PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Eaton Peabody Consulting Group Merges with Maine Tomorrow â– BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK
dable reputation with the extensive and impressive resumes of its consultants. The new EPCG covers five major areas: economic development, community development, legislative advocacy, municipal management, and association management. Just about any organization, whether private, public, nonprofit, or municipal, can benefit from the wide range of services. According to Hamilton, thereâ€™s no lack of capability of its staff â€” and the whole of EPCG ends up greater than the sum of its parts as a result. â€œThe law firm is tremendously appreciative of the talent and the people that we have in the consulting group,â€? said Hamilton. â€œWe see tremendous opportunity from this perspective.â€? Hamilton cited firm cofounder George Peabody, who often said, â€œYou get out of it exactly what you put into it.â€? â€œAnd I think you see in â€Ś all members of the consulting group folks who really are involved in their communities as well as involved in their practices,â€? he said. With 13 staff, several subcontract consultants, and the strength of a 40-lawyer firm behind it, the expanded Eaton Peabody Consulting Group is ready to take on the future â€” and help get its clients there. â€œI believe weâ€™re in an economic recovery, and what weâ€™ve been telling our businesses and our communities is â€˜Get yourselves ready to take advantage of that recovery,â€™â€? Eddy said, recommending that everyone implement strategic plans and get positioned to take advantage of that recovery. And EPCG is ready to partner with organizations, to work together and make good things happen. â€œIt goes beyond just having a client,â€? Eddy said. â€œItâ€™s a community.â€?
SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
ver wondered what a consulting group does? Many specialize in certain areas, but when it comes to Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, its consultants specialize in a broad range of fields. And with its recent merger with Maine Tomorrow, it now enjoys one of the widest skill sets of any Maine consultancy. As the consulting arm of the venerable Eaton Peabody law firm, EPCG focuses primarily on providing economic-development services statewide to private businesses, regional organizations, and dozens of municipalities. The group assists communities through strategic planning, offering support services, and even acting as interim economic-development directors or town managers. The consultancy was already brimming with wide-ranging experience. Executive Director NEWS Photo by David M. Fitzpatrick Mathew Eddy worked in the ecoSome members of the EPCG team at the Augusta office are (from left) Senior Consultant John Melrose, Val Geredien, Veronica Costa, Tanya Bentnomic-development department for the city of Brunswick, and ley, and Executive Director Mathew Eddy. EPCG recently acquired Maine Tomorrow, which Melrose formerly headed, to greatly expand its expertise and offerings. Consultant John Holden has a background with Eastern Maine Practice Group. â€œThe capacityâ€Ś body was made to feel comfortDevelopment Corporation. has grown substantially over the able coming in here, because it is Both went on to expansive last couple of years.â€? two different organizations and it careers as consultants covering â€œThe law firm is tremendously appreciative The merger was in the works is two different philosophies,â€? many areas. of the talent and the people that we have in for months and became official Eddy said. â€œWe had to make sure The acquisition of Maine on Jan. 1, 2011, but both entities it worked.â€? the consulting group.â€? Tomorrow brings its former put their extensive skills to work â€œI think testimony to the wisAndy Hamilton director, John Melrose, aboard as with careful planning and execu- dom of the whole deal was that senior consultant, and with him tion. The idea was born when we didnâ€™t lose a single client in EPCG has gained his extensive Melrose, ever the strategic plan- the transition,â€? Melrose said. community-development expener, began considering the â€œEverybody was pleased with the rience. Melrose is also a former staff has plenty of trade-associa- Dreamsâ€™ here,â€? said attorney future. Maine Tomorrow had idea and came along.â€? And, in Maine Department of Trans- tion and legislative experience. Andy Hamilton, chair of the law built up a successful business fact, the new group has been portation commissioner, and his â€œItâ€™s kind of like â€˜Field of firmâ€™s Economic Development with many clients and employees fielding more new calls than ever relying on him. Not willing to â€” which was anticipated. risk those assets, he approached The merger has been seamless. EPCG. He and Eddy had known Before the ink was dry, they were each other for 20 years, and Mel- working as a team to expand the rose knew what EPCG represent- new groupâ€™s scope and services. ed. Together, the two groups With a sprawling network of could be the best of many worlds. clients across the state, EPCG â– BY LAWYERS.COM Donâ€™t be surprised if the attorney cannot meet â€œIt was important that every- backs up its work and its formiwith you on short notice. On the other hand, a hereâ€™s more to selecting a lawyer than wait of more than a week is a sign that the attorpicking a name in the phone book or ney may be too busy to give a new case such as â€œGooglingâ€? for one in your area. This is a yours the time and attention it requires. major decision, and you want to spend some time making sure you select the right lawyer THE CONSULTATION for your needs. The consultation with the lawyer is the most Your Aunt Anne may have used a lawyer once and told you he was excellent, but maybe Aunt important factor in your decision to hire an attorAnne had different needs from you and not every ney. Evaluate the attorney based on the following: â€˘ Does the attorney listen well? case is the same. A personal recommendation is an â€˘ Does the attorney understand your problem excellent place to start, but itâ€™s only a place to start. or will he or she have to do research to answer When selecting a lawyer, youâ€™ll want to: â€˘ Learn about your legal problem. Search the your questions? â€˘ Can the attorney explain the law and how it Internet for FAQs, start by reading articles or discussing it with others who may have been in a sim- applies to your case in a way thatâ€™s easy to understand? ilar situation; â€˘ Does he or she give you confidence that your â€˘ Call your local attorney referral service, typically provided by your state or city bar association; legal problem will be resolved in a cost-effective way? â€˘ Use Lawyers.com; â€˘ Expect that any attorney you hire will delegate â€˘ Consult your family lawyer or an attorney whom you know through sports or church, or an a lot of responsibility to his or her staff. So youâ€™ll accountant, realtor, or other professional. Many want to evaluate how the lawyerâ€™s staff treats you, attorneys tend to specialize, and the good ones since they are a reflection of how the lawyer pracusually have an established reputation in the com- tices. At a minimum, both the lawyer and his or her staff should treat you courteously and profesmunity. sionally. NARROW THE LIST ' & # !! â€˘ Ask about conflicts of interest. Does the lawyer represent your employer or other interested party? Once youâ€™ve narrowed the list down to several â€˘ Ask for references. You should talk to people names, use the following checklist to screen them: who could comment on the lawyerâ€™s skills and â€˘ Look at biographical information, including trustworthiness. The best reference is one of the whatever you can find on lawyer and law firm Web lawyerâ€™s current or former clients. You can also sites. Do they appear to have expertise in the area check with other lawyers. of law you need? â€˘ Ask for a copy of a firm brochure and promo ! # "! ! â€˘ What kind of clients does the attorney repre- tional materials. Crosscheck these materials sent? Check the lawyerâ€™s profile and client list. If against other sources and references. you canâ€™t tell, call the lawyerâ€™s office and find out; â€˘ Click on the law firmâ€™s Web site to find out MONEY MATTERS ' & 0 % more about individual lawyers; Ask for a copy of the lawyerâ€™s retainer agreeâ€˘ Use search engines to find articles, white ( / papers, or other informational pieces the lawyer ment and review it with the lawyer beforehand. # -, has written. Does the attorney participate in any Generally speaking, attorneys will charge for their services in one or more of the following ways: online chats or blog? A discussion board? . ! $! â€˘ By the hour; â€˘ Ask people in your area if theyâ€™ve heard of the ) * â€˘ With a fee retainer of as much as $5,000 or attorneys and what they think about them; + , %!# â€˘ Check out the online archives of your local more; )# ! â€˘ On a contingency fee basis, where you pay the newspaper. Has there been any publicity about the attorney from 25-40 percent of what he or she collawyer or the cases that he or she has handled? â€˘ Do you have any special needs to consider lects in a settlement, or as much as 50 percent of a / -" 1 % such as requiring an attorney who speaks a lan- judgment if the case goes to arbitration or trial. & & Paying by the hour is the fairest arrangement guage other than English? At this point, youâ€™ll have a â€œshort listâ€? of two or for both the attorney and the client, since a conthree names. Contact the attorneyâ€™s firm and tingency fee always benefits one side or the other. schedule a consultation. Some firms will charge a But most individuals cannot afford the $30,000 to consultation fee to meet with you, so expect to pay $50,000 in attorney time that even a moderately anywhere from $75 to $250 for an initial consulta- difficult matter requires for preparation and trial. So a contingency fee is often the only alternative. tion. Many firms do offer free first meetings. Youâ€™ll want to ask if the firm requires an initial Finally, use your common sense and gut instincts in deciding who to hire. Your relation- retainer. Even if the firm charges on an hourly ship can last several years and require a good basis, the attorney may require an initial retainer working relationship and trust. You want to of as much as several thousand dollars, as security See ATTORNEYS, Page 22 choose the best lawyer to do the best job for you.
Ask for Client References When Hiring an Attorney
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Perspective April 23
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22, Saturday | April 23, 2011, Bangor Daily News PERSPECTIVE 2011 COMMUNICATIONS
Buy a Home Wireless Router That Does Its Job at Right Price ■ BY ERIC A. TAUB NEW YORK TIMES
uying a home wireless router is about as chaotic and confusing a shopping experience as you will ever encounter. Walk down the aisle where some distracted clerk points you, and you’ll see boxes marked cryptically as G, N and N+. And then another bunch of codes like 150, 300, and 600, as well as some marked dual-band. There are boxes next to them with things called “Powerline.” Try asking a clerk and you’ll still be confused, except that maybe you’ll be told that the most expensive one is the best. You are going to need a little help. Some retailers, like Best Buy, and manufacturers like Belkin and Netgear have come up with display charts and lists that show home networking products in a “good, better, best” continuum, with solutions based on what you want to do with your network. But with wireless routers ranging from $35 to $160 and up, do we really need the best? What you are looking for is “good enough.” The real question many people want answered is, “Do we need a manufacturer’s expensive router if we’re playing online video games or watching Netflix?” Here are the questions that really need answering when you
are considering buying a wireless router. Do I even need one? To get an Internet signal from your Internet service provider’s modem to a PC at the other end of the house, you’ll need a wireless router. In fact, because routers act as firewalls, helping to keep out malicious hackers, everyone should have a router, even if you have only one computer connected via Ethernet cable to the Internet. Bottom line: Buy a router. What kind should I buy? The most common standards for routers are 802.11g and 802.11n. The N technology lets wireless signals travel farther than G, and can attain a higher transmission speed. Netgear’s WNR2000 N router costs $50, just $15 more than its WGR614 G router. So-called N+ routers denote nothing specific; it’s a marketing term that implies the addition of various features depending on the manufacturer. Bottom line: If you’re using a router to simply bring the Internet to every computer (and other devices) to your home, you don’t care about moving data from one device to another and your home isn’t overly big, then don’t worry about speed. Any N router will be fast enough. Dual or single band? The newest N routers carry the signal on either the 2.4 Ghz (gigahertz)
Attorneys Continued from Page 21 for payment of the firm’s fees before they begin your representation. This money should go into the attorney’s trust fund and be disbursed only to pay for services actually rendered. If the representation ends before the retainer is billed, the attorney should return the balance to the client. Discuss the costs of your suit as well as the attorney’s fees. Costs include:
band, or on both the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands. (If you get a dualband router, the box may indicate a 600 Ghz speed, indicating the combined speed of both bands; if you use only one band, you get only half that maximum speed.) Because microwave ovens and cordless phones use the 2.4 Ghz band, a router placed too close to those devices could lose its signal, forcing you to regularly restart your modem and router. The 5 Ghz band is less prone to interference and has more capacity than the 2.4 Ghz band, which means that even if your neighbors are on wireless, their signal shouldn’t interfere with yours. On the other hand, a 5 Ghz signal does not travel as far as its lower-speed counterpart. And if your PC or other device is not compatible with a 5 Ghz signal, it won’t work on that band. Bottom line: If your router is in your kitchen or other area that regularly runs cordless phones or vacuum cleaners, consider a dual-band router. Otherwise, you probably don’t need it. What’s this powerline stuff? The convenience of wireless often outweighs its problems: the likelihood that you will lose your signal from time to time. Wireless connections are slower than wired ones. According to a study by Epitiro, a quality-ofservice research group, a wireless signal is typically 30 percent
• Payments for court reporters; • Copying; • Computerized research; • Trial exhibits; • Expert witness fees. Few attorneys will “front” or cover costs for the client. So find out what the costs will be and make arrangements from the outset for setting aside funds to cover them. Finally, use your common sense and gut instincts in deciding who to hire. Your relationship can last several years, so it’s important to select a lawyer you feel comfortable with and can trust.
slower that a wired one. For the most reliable and fastest Internet experience, a wired connection is the answer. But unless you’re willing to string Ethernet cables along your floor or able to stuff them in your walls, that may not be practical. Another solution is called Powerline networking, or HomePlug: using your home’s electrical wiring to transmit the Internet signal. To do so, you need to buy two Powerline AV transmitters (they’re available from Belkin, Netgear and other manufacturers). One is connected to the router using an Ethernet cable, and the other is plugged into the wall where you want the Internet signal to pop out. You connect that second unit to your PC (or Internet-capable TV or Blu-ray player), using an Ethernet cable. Bottom line: When possible,
create a wired, not a wireless network. Or you can bridge the wireless gap with Powerline technology — but it’s best to always maintain a wireless connection as a backup in case your Powerline system goes down. Bottom line: Always get an N router. How much should I spend? Some home routers cost as much as $400. Wireless N routers like the TRENDnet TEW-652BRP are available at B&H Photo for as little as $23; and the D-Link DIR601 is $28 from Amazon. Leo Laporte, host of the Tech Guy radio program, recommends always going for the least expensive. “The chip sets in different routers are all the same,” he said. “It’s the firmware that adds different capabilities.” (Firmware is another techie word for the software.)
A meeting separated by 100+ miles, Bangor to Lewiston
Does your Internet provider really give you High Speed Internet? How does 10 Gigabits per second sound? Sounds fast, right? Well it is. Our scalable fiber optic network is capable of speeds of 10 Megabits to 10 Gigabits and everything in between. What does this mean to you? Super fast web work, unfettered access to the cloud, and video conferencing so real you feel the other side is in the same room.
Phone • Internet • Data
Bangor • Lewiston • Norway
Bottom line: Spend as little as possible once you know which features, discussed next, you want. At that price, you can always buy another if it breaks. What speed do I need? Wireless routers using the N technology can typically transmit a signal at up to 300 megabits per second. But an Internet signal is typically around 5 to 7 megabits per second; so why do you need a superfast router if the incoming signal is so much slower? You may not. The high advertised speeds are meant to impress and to leave some wiggle room; by the time that 300 Mbps signal has traveled upstairs, across your house, and through multiple walls and beams, it may have lost as much as 70 percent of its speed, according to Nandan Kalle, Belkin’s networking business manager. The higher the starting speed of a router, the more it’ll have left after it tries to reach the hinterlands of your house.“You want to make sure that the wireless router is not your bottleneck,” said David Henry, Netgear’s senior director of product marketing. The benefit of a higher-speed router is that you can take advantage of its speed when transferring files within a house. For example, if you want to send a movie file that’s already on your PC to your TV, a higher router speed could enable a sharper picture that plays smoothly. Higher router speeds are also useful if you want to back up files to a central hard drive connected to your router and available to everyone else on the network, or you want to send movies, music and photos from one PC to another. Also, if several people in the home are transferring files around the home and accessing the Internet simultaneously, a higher router speed can help things move along more smoothly.
Published on Apr 23, 2011
Welcome to Perspective: Business, Banking and Commerce. This is the third edition of the Bangor Daily News' four part series on business in...