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Room or No Room?
A Guide To Quality Living in Georgetown A local resource for residents of Sun City, Texas
By: Cathy Payne
© 2016 Fidelis Publishing Group, LLC
Last week I slipped into a local Starbucks for a well-deserved treat. I placed my order, and as I waited, I congratulated myself on the progress I had already made on my holiday checklist of “must-do’s” that seems to grow exponentially from November 15 until January 1, and strategized just how I could get everything done in time for “the big day.” “Room or no room?” The barista’s words pulled me back into the caffeine-chaos around me, and it took me a moment to realize she was asking if I needed room for cream in my cup. “Room, definitely room,” I answered, but the question echoed in my mind the rest of the day. Room or no room? Hasn’t that question been asked for the last 2000 years? After marriage and motherhood, I found myself living across the country from my family. Holidays became increasingly more difficult to coordinate considering the cost of travel and adding in in-laws as well, so I was always thankful when I would call my mom on Christmas Day, and she would remind me that she loved me and missed me, and would be more than ready to celebrate whenever we could get together. Every year after my son was born I made my mom a calendar with pictures of him for every month, and no matter how much money we spent on ‘things’, this was always her favorite gift. A few years ago, in all the holiday chaos, December 23 arrived and I realized I hadn’t yet mailed my mom’s calendar. I raced over to the UPS store in a panic to see how quickly I could get it to her. My husband and I stood in the store debating between expensive and quick, or
affordable and a few days after Christmas. I kept arguing for cheap and slow, reminding him of our dwindling Christmas budget. His insistence won out, and I finally agreed to pay extra to have it shipped overnight with arrival scheduled for Christmas Eve. Quickly we slipped the calendar and a tiny card signed by my eight-year old into the envelope, and went on with our holiday tasks. Christmas Day came and went as had become the norm with mom and I chatting by phone, planning our next get-together. On December 26th, the phone rang again around noon. The number was from my hometown, and I answered expecting a belated holiday greeting from a childhood friend. Instead the voice on the other end of the line informed me that my mom had suddenly passed away from a heart attack and we needed to come at once to make arrangements. Mom lived alone, so opening the door to her house the next day was surreal. Everything indicated that she had just run to the store for a few minutes and would surely be coming back momentarily. It was a life freeze-framed. As I took it all in, my gaze stopped on her coffee table. There was the calendar, open to the smiling face of her precious, only grandchild, as if she had been enjoying a few minutes with him just before she left that final time. Just a few feet above it was the tiny card with his scratchy penmanship proudly displayed on the very center of the mantle; the prized centerpiece in a menagerie of sparkly, shiny Christmas cards. Room or no room? Years later, I realize my mom is still teaching me things, and I am reminded that despite holiday demands, a limited budget, or just the circumstances of life, mom always focused on the people she loved and made sure there was room for the things that really matter.
CONTENTS 4 6 7 8 10 12 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23
Lifelong Learning at Senior University Georgetown Expanded H-E-B Open for Business Veterans’ Day 2016 Getting to Know your Neighbors: David Valdez Shriners Shine in Sun City Sun City Holiday Home Tour Silver Shields Just like Granny Used to Play Neighborhood 13 Honors Vets with Annual Potluck Mayor’s Update The Bucket List Savvy Senior Ask Your Lawyer Health & Wellness
STAFF Managing Editor/Lifestyles: Cathy Payne Writer: Ann Marie Ludlow Design: Elysia Davis Marketing: Bill Mateja Guest Columnists: Mayor Dale Ross, John Bickle, Webster Russell and Dee Coffeen, Kyla Baum, Jim Miller
Info@CityInsiderTX.com P.O. Box 213, Jarrell, TX 76537 To Advertise in City Insider, call a sales exec at 512-746-4545 © Fidelis Publishing Group, LLC, 2016. All rights reserved. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook at City Insider for more news & pictures! COVER PHOTO: Barbara White, Co-Chair of the 2016 Sun City Holiday Home Tour, welcomes visitors to the home of Tina and Bob Bischoff.
DECEMBER 2016 | 3
Lifelong Learning at Senior University Georgetown
Senior University classrooms range from traditional to unconventional.
Taking a class in just about any subject can improve cognitive abilities, rejuvenate memory, and entertain. Recent scientific studies show senior citizens who stay mentally active enjoy all of these rewards. While many of us remember our school experience as football games, band concerts, drama productions, dances, or parties, it’s important to remember what all these occasions have in common; they all brought people together. Often, the process of growing older can isolate people. As friends grow families and pursue destinies, they can lose touch. Taking classes brings people back to stimulating interaction with new and interesting folks. With ideas like this in mind, in the fall of 1997 a group of about 35 Georgetown citizens met to explore the topic of continuing education for senior citizens in the Georgetown 4 | DECEMBER 2016
community. The group included residents from Sun City and also from the greater Georgetown area. Founding member and future first President Jack Kelly modeled the new program after the Senior University of Atlanta, Georgia, and the new organization quickly began offering a variety of classes, lectures, travel activities, and other learning. Members of the founders group offered to teach classes and give one-hour lectures. Just two months later, more than 200 people attended short presentations on topics from art and books to foreign policy to psychology. Their first official “semester” had 242 students and long wait lists for several of their offerings. Their success continues today with 24 classes in the Fall session and an even greater spectrum of topics; Medical School for Everyone, Memoir Writing, the Four French Revolutions, Islam and the Middle
East, and Spanish language to name a few. Senior University is located at Southwestern University, but holds classes in a number of locations around Georgetown, including social centers in Sun City. Courses are taught by volunteer instructors; retired and current professor+s from local and regional universities, as well as subject matter experts and Georgetown professionals. Fall and winter terms are six weeks each and there is one-week summer term. They also offer free lectures open to the public throughout the year and a varied program of travel experiences in Texas and beyond. The winter term will begin
January 30, and prospective students may register at SeniorUniv.org. Applications will be accepted until courses are full. Membership dues are $50 per year and members pay one fee for one or more classes per session ($40-70). They also have members-only receptions and social events throughout the year, as well as field trips and education travel.
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H•E•B OPEN FOR BUSINESS Above: Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Fought (4th from left) celebrates the ribbon cutting with store management. Left: In-store chefs will give live demonstrations and teach shoppers how to create dishes in their own kitchens.
After years of customer input and planning, H-E-B cut the ribbon for the grand re-opening of Georgetown H-E-B on Williams Drive. While the busy hum of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers elsewhere in the store filled the air, more than 100 guests gathered at the front door to get all the details. Director of Retail Operations (Austin West) Mark Hauerland opened his remakes with a happy excla6 | DECEMBER 2016
mation, “It’s finally here, and I don’t know that we could have cut it any closer. We are seeing big baskets come through here buying turkeys and yams and all the fixin’s and it’s very exciting. We are humbled and indebted to you as a community for sticking with us.” The $12 million project added 12,500 square feet to the store, allowing for many products and offerings not previously found in store. The redesigned store includes a new Scratch Bakery with artisan breads, tortillería and gourmet fudges; a new Blooms floral department with a floral designer and flower delivery; an extra 3,200 square feet in the produce department with Fresh Squeezed Juice and Fresh Cut Fruit Bars; and an expanded service checkout experience with new check stands. “Everything about the newly remodeled store, from its modern layout to its expanded fresh varieties is specifically tailored to this community and complements H-E-B’s commitment to providing unsurpassed quality and service with everyday low prices,” said Michelle Krzywonski, Unit Director for H-E-B Georgetown. Georgetown’s Mayor Pro Tem,
Steve Fought commented, “HEB is a good citizen. Not only do they employ a lot of people with good wages and good benefits, they also provide high quality products at reasonable prices so everyone in the community has access to good food.” In keeping with their role as a good citizen, and in honor of the H-E-B’s 15-year Anniversary and Grand Re-Opening celebration, the company donated $1,500 each to The Caring Place, the Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown; and the Literacy Council of Williamson County. “We are honored to have served Georgetown residents for so long and are pleased to both create an enhanced shopping experience for them and to give back to the community through organizations that make a difference,” added Krzywonski. “It’s an integral part of how we do business and how we treat our neighbors.” The larger store format offers Sun City customers expanded offerings including a Texas Backyard outside the store; grills, patio furniture, plants and more. Other expansion includes: • larger beer and wine department
a variety of local and imported options. • Sushiya sushi bar will offer fresh, delicious, hand-rolled sushi available for take home. • Cooking Connection with in-store cooking demos, and shoppers can stop by anytime with questions or to get recipes and cooking ideas. • Olive Bar with and extensive olive selection from around the world as well as tapenade and antipasto salads. • H-E-B Meal Simple, chef-inspired recipes, and restaurant-quality ‘Ready to Cook’ and ‘Ready to Eat’ solutions for streamlining home-cooking. • Business Center with two service windows for customers. • Pharmacy Patient Education room offers immunizations, screenings and education for customers wanting to manage their health. • A lengthened Service Check-Out Area with an additional 3,500 square feet for 22 new, full checkout lanes. • Nine new electric shopping carts, for a total of 38 electric shopping carts.
VETERANS’ DAY 2016
The service of former Sun City resident Bernard Schleder is honored through a memorial brick. Bricks are for sale to fund the ongoing care and maintenance of the memorial.
Residents across Georgetown— from the youngest to The Greatest Generation—honored members of our Armed Forces, past and present in many diverse ceremonies on November 11.
At Williamson County Veterans Memorial Plaza in Sun City, veterans from all wars were recognized from the dais, from World War II to the Global War on Terror. Many who are typically too humble to want attention for their service, were proud to stand and accept the applause of those in attendance. The Georgetown High School orchestra, band and choir all performed for a crowd of approximately 2500 people. Despite the gray weather and a little bit of rain just before the event began, the musical performances were as stellar as they were moving. Choir director Joey Lowrance led the entire crowd in a chorus of “God Bless America” to close the ceremony.
British Major General Douglas Chalmers was the keynote speaker. Gen. Chalmers is the Deputy Commanding General at Fort Hood and, having served at the pleasure of the Queen for more than 30 years, his experience, poignant words and admiration for veterans of all nations was as impressive as the decorations on his own uniform. “The diversity of ages, services and experiences make this one of the most vibrant Veterans’ Day celebrations that I’ve ever had the privilege of attending.” Major Chalmers also spoke of the universal need for soldiers to protect our society and mentioned the red poppy he had affixed to his cover. He was pleased to know that Georgetown has an entire weekend dedicated to the flowers that are descended from the very same poppies that grew in the European trenches he referenced in his speech.
Army 1st Sergeant Key Merritt (ret.) (N35) and keynote speaker at the 2016 event, British Major General Douglas Chalmers, Deputy Commanding General at Fort Hood.
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DECEMBER 2016 | 7
Getting To Know your Neighbors
Many people in Georgetown are a mere degree removed from President George H. W. Bush thanks to Sun City’s David Valdez (N51). Mr. Valdez was the official photographer for Vice-President and later, President Bush, 1989-1993. (One degree twice, actually since Chief Nero was the head of security at Camp David at the same time.) He is also a speaker, author, car enthusiast and quite a historian thanks to his very important work behind the camera. Despite capturing kings and diplomats from Canada to Cameroon, Valdez still has his first Brownie camera and the photos he took as a child, carefully affixed to a weath-
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Photographer-In-Chief ered photo album. At the time he never imagined they would be a career; and certainly not in the White House.
Valdez was drafted into the Air Force at age 18. When he arrived at his duty station, “They said ‘You’re going to be a photographer’ and I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘What is that?’” But David Valdez shares they trained keepsakes from his him and he time at the White began his career House. photographing Generals and flag officers who were managing the Vietnam conflict, as well as crash sites and other military events.
After the Air Force, he pursued a Journalism degree at the University of Maryland. He got a job at the Department of Agriculture, taking photographs of the Secretary, and later did the same for Housing and Urban Development before moving
on to a popular business magazine. In a bit of good timing, and thanks to a Texan in the VP’s office, he interviewed for the job of Vice-presidential photographer when the job opened up. Being so close to the Executive Branch involved a great deal of trust, since the official photographer travels and stays with the VP nearly
24 hours a day. “I interviewed with a very no-nonsense Admiral first and later when I met the Vice-president, I asked him about the salary. The Admiral bellowed in disbelief that I asked that, but I couldn’t go to pay for groceries and say ‘Hey, I work for the Vice-president.’”
Valdez gained the trust of the Bush family and has taken innumerable photos of the man and his wife and children; several of which have become iconic. His photo of the Bush family in Kennebunkport is part of LIFE magazine’s “Best of Life: 75 Years” publication, and he has
Valdez’s photo of the Bush family in Kennebunkport was included in LIFE magazine’s “Best of Life: 75 Years” publication.
contributed a lot of his collection and works to the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas.
The guest bedroom in his own home, the “Presidential Suite”, is home to dozens of photos and keepsakes of his years in DC; personal photos, cards, and many mementos from around the world. He has two books full of Air Force One certificates; wherever the President went, so did David Valdez. He also has a framed gavel made of wood from the floor of the inauguration platform, a gift from President Bush. Being so close to the highest office in the land, he is asked to speak often at museums and libraries to talk about the experience, and he is a wealth of interesting facts and stories about the post. “In the history of the country, there have only been nine people who have held this job. Right now there are only four living former photographers.”
in Washington and, literally, every day had to potential to become important. “The photographer has three schedules; including a daily schedule of meetings; minute by minute. I took photos every day of every line on the daily schedule, on the chance that a major decision or event may occur during that time, or someone of note may be there. We never wanted to miss a chance to document history.”
On probably one of the biggest dates in the Bush administration, Valdez says, “At the beginning of the Gulf War, the schedules were blank for a few days. One day I was called into the Oval Office and I always like to know what I’m going into. On this day, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney were there—I realized the war was starting, so I took photos and prepared to leave. They told me what I had heard was so classified that I could not leave the room. So
A man of many interests—photography and Corvettes.
I had to stay there for the next 12 hours…there was a lot of that.”
“The weirdest part was the day after. You wake and wonder, ‘What do I do now?’” With a resume like his, he had no trouble becoming a marketing executive for the Walt Disney Corporation. (But that’s a whole other article!) Now in Sun City, Valdez still takes photos all the time, helping local residents and
Since LBJ, each President has had one official photographer because that person has to maintain a sense of trust and comfort, and the photos will become part of history. All of the works of the Presidential photographer are managed by the U.S. Archives and in the Presidential libraries.
“Although it is my work, all official Presidential photography belongs to you; it’s all in the public domain.” Valdez’s 65,000 rolls’ worth of official images are in the U.S. Archive at the Bush Presidential Library in College Station and at the U.S. Archives at College Park, Md. His personal files are archived at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas. Mr. Valdez has no end of fascinating stories given the places and people and times he was a part of
elected officials with portraits and hobbies. He also helps others develop their skills. For fun, he is teaching a course in Sun City for smart-phone photography and is a member of a local Corvette club. He’s also hoping to become a photographer in residence for a national park—there are plenty of things still to be done. We hope he will want to share those stories with us as well.
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A scrapbook of badges and ID tags from David’s time as the official photographer for George H.W. Bush. He traveled to 75 countries and shows his assigned seat card on Air Force One.
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Shriners Shine in Sun City: Holiday Lights Bring Hope & Healing
By Cathy Payne For nearly a century, the Shriners International organization has been known for their support of sick and hurting children in need. Today, as the world’s largest philanthropic organization, their benevolence projects fund 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children worldwide to the tune of nearly $2 million per day. Founded in 1922 to help combat polio, Shriners Hospitals for Children treat children up to age 18 with no expectation of reimbursement for the cost of treatment or care. Locally, Texas is the home of two Shiners Hospitals for Children; the Houston location treats orthopedic and spinal cord injuries and/or birth defects, as well as cleft lip and palate surgery and reconstruction, while the Galveston location is the world renowned center for burn care and recovery. With growing numbers of children in need of treatment, the Sun City Shrine Club, a unit of the larger Ben Hur Shrine in Austin, is doing their best to do their part, while bringing holiday cheer to their own backyard as well. The club of 50 members established in 2003 is the brains, heart, and even some of the brawn behind the holiday lights and decorations that spring up (almost miraculously) overnight on the Shriners Stan Brandenburg (N09) and Jim Visitor Center, along the Williams Bumpus (N26) have been stringing holiday cheer in Sun City for 14 and 4 years, respectively. Dr. and 195 entrances to Sun City, 10 | DECEMBER 2016
as well as on several of the bridges within the community. Along with other philanthropic fund-raising throughout the year, the Sun City Shrine Club uses the decorating project which started in 2005 as a festive way to raise funds for the Shiners Hospitals for Children locations in
Texas. By way of four donation boxes placed throughout the Sun City community, the club typically raises between $6,000 and $8,000 or more each year, according to 2017 club president-elect Ray Devries. The light project itself is a labor of love and the result of a coordinated
Bob Tolley (N26), Chairman of the Christmas Lighting Program.
Brenda Scholin (N18) adjusts the wreath that welcomes visitors to Sun City at the Del Webb entrance on Williams Drive.
effort of about 25 club members and several of their wives, led by Bob Tolley, Chairman of the Christmas Lighting Program. Tolley points all the kudos to former Sun City resident and Shriner Bob Campbell who did all the original design and engineering work, bringing ever-more detailed and updated schematics
to the project every year but, Tolley says, “We are excited to give the Sun City residents what they like, so we are decorating this year with the same quantity and quality merriment-by-lights.” Tolley and Devries also praise the Sun City Community Association, and Director Jim Romine, for underwriting the project.
“Thanks to the CA, no matter how large or small the donation, 100 percent of the donation box proceeds go directly to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston and Galveston.” Additionally, for the last several years, Suddenlink and The Christmas Light Pros have donated the equipment and man-power to install the lights on the Visitor Center. Like a precisely coordinated dance, installation day takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving with club members’ ladies fluffing wreaths and men stringing lights along the fences and bridges. The highpoint, both literally and figuratively, of the decorating takes place around the Visitor Center with the arrival of Suddenlink’s bucket truck. This donated assistance from the professionals in reaching the high spots is “safer than having old guys on ladders,” quips Tolley, and The
Christmas Light Pros volunteers their expertise “on the low spots, from the gutters down.” Humor aside, Devries and Tolley applaud the assistance of both companies, and say their efforts are integral to the success of the project. For anyone who appreciates the festive luminescence in Sun City, or just wants to help a child during this holiday season, you can donate cash or checks at Sun City Shrine Club Holiday Lights donation boxes located at: the Member Services Office (2 Texas Drive); at each fitness center (Texas Dr. and Cowen Creek); and at Wriggley’s Pub. Donations are secure, and collected from the boxes regularly. Donations can also be mailed to: Shriners Light Collection, 2 Texas Dr., Georgetown, TX 78633. All checks should be made payable to: Shriners Hospitals for Children.
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BISCHOFF HOME (N36): Above left, Tina and Bob Bischoff’s Christmas Tree stands as a focal point in the ro Ellen Smith enjoy the beauty of the Bischoff home.
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SCHINKE HOME (N12): Above left,
The breakfast table of Arlene and Davi Schinke, celebrates the whimsy of the holiday season. Above, Karen Cowan, decorator with Kinsey Interiors, welcomes visitors into the home that she decorated for the Schinke’s. Left, the Schinke home is beautiful and ready f the holidays.
oom. Above right: Kiwanis member Cheryl Schmid (N02) and
FREITAG HOME (N59): Top, Walter Freitag sits in his Mad Hatter room. Above left, The home of Walter Freitag is full of whimsy and fun. Above, this Christmas tree ensures Santa will never be late. Left, Sometimes even Santa needs time to soak, and relax away his worries.
DARLING HOME (N02): Top: Stephanie Matlock (N44), marvels at
the placesettings at the Darling Home. Stephanieâ€™s home was featured in the Holiday Home Tour in 2011. Middle: The Darling home shares holiday cheer, both inside and out. Bottom: An angel lights the way to the home of Betty and Mert Darling.
DECEMBER 2016 | 13
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SILVER SHIELDS PROVIDE PEACE OF MIND FOR AREA SENIORS
Seniors in Georgetown have a new safety net when it comes to feeling assured and included. The Georgetown Police Department has, as part of its Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program, a group called Silver Shields, which provides a number of services to homebound citizens and a sense of security for those who live alone. In the beginning they were called Silver Bells and they periodically made house or phone calls to seniors at Christmas time. GPD Volunteer Coordinator Linda Lipscomb explains the group shortly realized the seasonal efforts did not fully meet the goals and intent of the program. “When we renamed it ‘Shields,’ we felt it was more focused on all the things we could do with and for our seniors year-round. In cooperation with the police and fire departments, we provide safety materials, newsletters and education on scams to help people identify and handle a variety of situations independently. We also make safety and well-check calls; phone calls or visits at a certain time just to see how people are doing. We also do home inspections to look for things like fall risks and check smoke alarms.” The program is designed for seniors who live alone, or are homebound and perhaps have no family nearby to check on them. Silver Shields also provide services outside the home, like trimming shrubbery around windows for greater security. “We added a happy birthday club,” Lipscomb says. “At some point during the month, an officer or volunteer on the local beat will come by to do a wellness check and will bring a birthday card. We appre-
ciate making people feel safe and secure in their own home and it’s a great way to help people understand how police in our community work alongside our citizens.” Silver Shields is not a community action agency like Meals on Wheels or Drive a Senior, but they do provide referrals to those and other social programs as needed. “We are not trying to duplicate or replace any of those great programs. Silver Shields provides a specific function for safety because that’s what we are good at.” As well, emergency dispatchers have general notes on Silver Shields clients so they can quickly identify any needs on a call. Lipscomb says the program has just finalized its processes and procedures, so much of the Georgetown coverage area is in a “beta test phase.” They are currently training volunteers to manage several geographic areas in Georgetown, and once they generate enough work data and refine the program, they will launch in additional areas through 2017. Training will continue until there are enough volunteers to cover all service areas, and Lipscomb says the goal is to be prepared for any unique situation—as long as the resources are there, they will do whatever they can to help. “It’s all part of our support for the Police Department and continuing their community outreach programs.” Silver Shields is currently working with specific beta-test areas of Georgetown. If you are interested in being a part of VIPS to help expand the program coverage please contact Linda at GPD or Lex Shaw at 512-930-2747.
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Just Like Granny Used to Play
By Ann Marie Ludlow firstname.lastname@example.org Tina Wall (N06) takes a shot.
Front row L-R: Captain Judy Hanes (2nd year), Kathy Usher, Dale Dickinson, Coach Linda Toerper, Back row L-R: Janice Stengel, Michele Signaoff, Diana Schultz (1st day on the team), Tina Wall.
Georgetown Parks and Recreation truly has someone for everyone—including basketball for the over-50 set. The Georgetown Fire Ants are our local Granny Basketball League® team and they are nothing short of fiery in their attitudes and their play. Begun in Iowa in 2005, the Granny League is making its way around the nation and our local team of eight players is anxiously engaging in and looking forward to having more teams form up to give them some competition.
Michelle Signaoff looks for an open teammate.
16 | DECEMBER 2016
A LITTLE HISTORY Founder Barb Tomlinson was helping her father, who had been a basketball coach in the 1940s and 50s, write his memoirs and they were reminiscing about how “prissy” the rules were back then. For instance, it was a foul (and is today) if a player’s uniform were to show bare legs or upper arms. Tomlinson pulled together some friends who all wanted a way to exercise and they discovered that a “gentler” throwback style of basketball was just right for her and her friends in the senior set. They set up an exhibition game that was so popular, and fun, more teams formed and the league was born. Today there are more than 200 players on 24 teams in eight states. Teams play exhibitions
and tournaments and, together, have raised more than $200,000 for charities, boosters and micro-funds. They wear throwback uniforms identical to those worn in the 1920s; bloomers, knee-socks and loose blouses (kind of like a sailor shirt) with a bow or tie. Our local Fire Ants are age 55 to 81, most of whom have never played basketball. They play four quarters of 4-8 minutes and there is no running, jumping or physical contact allowed. They joke that they are also not allowed to slam-dunk! Tina Wall played in high school, until 1957; “Of course the rules were different, but a lot of the game is the same. The exercise is great and I love it.” And all the players agree with Dale Dickinson, “My favorite thing is meeting all these wonderful ladies; interacting and all the physical activity we get.” The Fire Ants’ are fortunate that there is a second team nearby, the Harker Heights Old Glories, to provide them a little outside competition. Their next closest rival is in Louisiana, which makes away-games rather complicated. Coach Linda Toerper says, “We want to get the word out and encourage people to play—needless to say—so we have someone to play with. About half of us live in Sun City and we know there are a lot of active former athletes out there who would
build a great team.â€? Players need to be at least 50 years old, they do not need any athletic ability or experience but must be able to maintain the physical activity and, of course, be eager to play in front of crowds. The Fire Ants play every Wednesday at 10 am at the Georgetown Community Center and they invite everyone to their exhibition game at East View High School December 6. For more information on how to join the Fire Ants, contact Linda Toerper at 319-210-5608; Robert Stanton at the Georgetown Rec Center at 512-930-1367; or visit www.GrannyBasketball.com.
The Fire Ants put up two points. Their game may not be physical, but that doesnâ€™t eliminate friendly competition.
DECEMBER 2016 | 17
Neighborhood 13 Honors Vets With Annual Potluck
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On November 9, 2016, Neighborhood 13 held their annual Jim Macchi Memorial Potluck in honor of all their veterans at the Legacy Hills Pavilion. The first event in 2009 was organized by Jay Baker, and veteran Jim Macchi coordinated the audio-video presentation which featured vintage photographs of the honorees. Jim passed away in 2011 and the event was renamed in his honor. The 2016 program was again organized by Jay Baker, and photographer Glenn Rudd produced the video show. Air Force ROTC Cadets from UT conducted the flag ceremony; Veteran Bud Emmert played Taps; and Diane Baker held a ceremony in honor of all Prisoners Of War and Missing in Action veterans. Neighborhood 13 has 51 active veterans; 24 attended the event this year.
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Sunshine in Our Energy Future By Mayor Dale Ross In March last year, the City of Georgetown announced that our municipal electric utility is on track to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy sources. That move will make Georgetown one of a handful of cities across the country to be powered only by clean energy.
So how did we do this and why?
In 2012 the city ended a longterm purchased power contract, and this allowed us to seek new energy suppliers. We issued a request for proposals, and signed an agreement with EDF Renewable Energy in 2013. The contract provides 144 megawatts of low-cost wind power from the Spinning Spur 3 wind project that is 50 miles west of Amarillo. At the time, we forecasted that the power from Spinning Spur 3 would supply 90 percent of our energy demand. So we issued a second request for proposals. In the second batch, the offer with the lowest overall financial risk that fit our need was for a 154-megawatt solar project near Fort Stockton. The solar plant, formerly known as Buckthorn, was recently acquired by NRG Energy from SunEdison, who owned the plant through a subsidiary corporation. The solar plant is one asset being sold by SunEdison under chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Photo courtesy City of Georgetown
The acquisition of the solar plant by NRG Energy was completed earlier this month after approvals by the Georgetown City Council and the respective boards of NRG Energy and SunEdison. Under the agreement with NRG Energy, Georgetown’s fixed cost for electricity from the solar plant is less than the cost under the original agreement with SunEdison. The primary reason for selecting wind and solar power was not because we wanted to have green energy at any cost. Our move to wind and solar was, first and foremost, a business decision based on risk profile and price stability for our consumers. We also knew that one of the big benefits of having 100 percent renewable energy is the potential for economic development. Last year Alevo Group, an energy storage provider, announced an agreement with Ormat Technologies to jointly build and operate a 10 megawatt energy storage project in Georgetown. The facility is under construction and should be operational in the spring. This battery storage pilot project—one of the largest in the world— was sited in Georgetown due to our renewable energy sources. Alevo and Ormat wanted to have the facility here in order to test how battery
storage technology could work with renewable sources to meet electricity demand. I have one more bit of news to share about our energy profile. Spinning Spur 3, our wind farm in the Panhandle, came online a year ago September and has been powering our city since then. Remember that it was projected to meet 90 percent of our energy needs? In fact, over the last 12 months, the electricity output from the wind plant has exceeded Georgetown’s consumption, making Georgetown 100 percent renewable for that period. That excess energy has been cleared into the ERCOT market.
In the future we will need the solar energy to address peak demand in years with hotter summers, and to provide for future growth. However, it is good to know that we already achieved 100 percent clean energy status this year. Since we announced our plan last year, the story of the small Texas town that went with 100 percent green energy has led to dozens of stories in news media from across the U.S. and several other countries. As our story is shared at dinner tables and in boardrooms, we think that our economic development prospects and stable energy costs point to a sunny future ahead.
Recently Mayor Ross visited a wind farm in Adrian, Texas. Photo by David Valdez
DECEMBER 2016 | 19
THE BUCKET LIST:
Recently, Sun City residents Webster Russell (Russ) and Dee Coffeen checked a major item off their bucket lists—a 111-day trip around the world! Russ and Dee invite you to experience this adventure as they share photos, anecdotes, travel tips, destination recommendations, and maybe even a little gossip about finding love on the high seas.
The cathedral in Bari, Italy.
We left Dubai and all its glitz for the wonders of the Mediterranean. It was one of our longer times at sea. The break came as we transited the Suez Canal which, as you probably know, has a tumultuous history. It is wide and long; and there is more sand surrounding the canal than you ever want to see again, but interesting none the less. On the starboard side of the ship was the famous Sinai Peninsula where the seven day war was fought. The construction along the canal has been reinvigorated with the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. There are still fortifications Themilitary cathedral in Bariscattered Italy on the canal, but few in number. As we went through in the early spring, the temperatures were moderate enough to spend the day on the aft section of the ship taking in the sites. The central Square of Rhodes, Greece.
20 | DECEMBER 2016
Once through the canal we were off to Rhodes, Greece and
the final 21 days of our cruise. The Dodecanese, in the southeastern Aegean Sea, are a group of islands that are known for their medieval castles, Byzantine churches, and ancient archaeological sites. The city of Rhodes is on the largest of the islands; it circles a magnificent harbor and represents one of the old walled cities of Europe. It was at the entrance to the harbor that the colossi of Rhodes was said to have stood. Dee and our friend Linda took off shopping while Linda’s husband, Al and I settled in a wonderful Greek Restaurant and sampled some local beer. That evening we left port for Chanai, the second largest city on the island of Crete and the home of the beautiful and picturesque Venetian Harbor. Because of the ship’s draft we anchored just outside the port and went into port using the ship small boats.
After walking though the old city and seeing the many sights, the girls took off for the shops and Al and I continued our academic research of Greece beers.
Bari, Italy was the next stop on our way home. By this time, our old bones were starting to talk to us so we decided to forgo the trip to another cathedral. Since it was Sunday, we decided to find a street café and have a cup of coffee, a croissant, and watch the Sunday locals. There is nothing like sitting in an Italian cafe on a beautiful Sunday morning people watching. We spent two hours watching the Sunday Italian families coming and going from church with a magnificent harbor in the background. This self-directed tour was one of our favorite activities.
Our next stop was another “must see” site on the cruise—Venice.
about a $4 to $5 monthly increase on average – the 2017 Part B monthly premium for about 70 percent of Medicare recipients will increase only about $4 to $5.
HOW MUCH YOU’LL PAY FOR MEDICARE IN 2017 by jim miller
Dear Savvy Senior,
I know there won’t be much of a
cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year but what about Medicare? How will the 0.3
percent Social Security raise affect our Part B monthly premiums in 2017?
Inquiring Beneficiary Dear Inquiring,
Considering the rising cost of health care coverage, the news regarding your Medicare costs for 2017 is not too bad. Here’s what you can expect.
PART B PREMIUMS
Because the Social Security Administration is giving out a measly 0.3 percent cost of living increase starting in January – that equates to
Thanks to the Social Security Act’s “hold harmless” provision, Medicare cannot pass along premium increases greater than the dollar increase in their Social Security checks.
So, if your Medicare Part B monthly premium is currently $104.90, you can expect it to be around $109 (on average) in 2017. Or, if you signed up for Part B for the first time in 2016, your $121.80 monthly premium will rise to around $127 (on average) next year.
SOME WILL PAY MORE
Unfortunately, the hold harmless provision does not protect all Medicare recipients. New Medicare enrollees (those who will enroll in 2017), beneficiaries who are directly billed for their Part B premium, and current beneficiaries who have deferred claiming their Social Security will pay more.
If you fit into any of these categories, your Medicare Part B premium will be $134 per month in 2017, up from $121.80. The hold harmless rule also does not protect high-income Medicare beneficiaries who already pay higher Part B premiums because their annual incomes are above $85,000
for an individual or $170,000 for a couple. If you fit into this category, here’s what you’ll pay for your Part B premium next year, based on your 2015 tax returns. • Individuals with incomes of $85,000 to $107,000, or married couples filing joint tax returns with incomes of $170,000 to $214,000, will pay $187.50 per month. • Individuals earning $107,000 to $160,000 (couples $214,000 to $320,000) will pay $267.90. • Individuals with incomes of $160,000 to $214,000 (couples $320,000 to $428,000) will pay $348.30. • Individuals with incomes over $214,000 or couples above $428,000 will pay $428.60.
Another increase high-income beneficiaries (those with incomes over $85,000, or $170,000 for joint filers) need to be aware of is the surcharge on Part D premiums. Affluent seniors that have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will pay an additional $13.30 to $76.20 per month, depending on their income, on top of their regular Part D premiums.
DEDUCTIBLES AND CO-PAYS Other changes that will affect all Medicare beneficiaries include the Part B deductible, which will increase to $183 in 2017 from $166
Jim Miller is the creator of Savvy Senior, a syndicated information column for older Americans and their families that is published in more than 400 newspapers and magazines nationwide. Jim is also a regular contributor on NBC’s “Today” show and KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City,and is the author of The Savvy Senior, The Ultimate Guide to Health, Family and Finances for Senior Citizens, (Hyperion). Jim is frequently quoted in articles about issues affecting senior citizens and has been featured in numerous high profile publications, including Time magazine, USA Today and The New York Times. In addition, he has made multiple appearances on CNBC, CNN, Retirement Living Television and national public television.
in 2016. The Part A (hospital insurance) annual deductible will also go up to $1,316 in 2017 (it’s currently $1,288) for hospital stays up to 60 days. That increases to $329 per day for days 61-90, and to $658 a day for days 91 and beyond. And the skilled nursing facility coinsurance for days 21-100 will also increase to $164.50 per day, up from $161 in 2016.
For more information on all the Medicare costs for 2016 visit Medicare.gov and click on “Find out how much Medicare costs in 2017,” or call 800-633-4227.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior. org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book. Serving Sun City
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DECEMBER 2016 | 21
By John W. Bickle, Attorney at Law
Welcome to another in my series of articles regarding matters involving Texas and Federal law which I hope will be interesting and useful to you. As before, I’ll continue to quote liberally from and use the format which was inspired by the Elder Law Handbook of the Tarrant County Bar Association. However, remember this is information and not legal advice. For legal advice, ask your lawyer. This month we’ll begin a review of HOMESTEAD AND PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS.
1. What is a homestead? Your homestead is your residence, i.e., the real property and improvements which you and/or your family live in. In Texas, your homestead is protected from
foreclosure for the payment of debts unless the debts are secured by liens, e.g., money loaned to you to buy the residence, the so-called purchase money mortgage lien; liens for unpaid property taxes or unpaid federal taxes; liens for work or material used in constructing improvements on the property if such work or material meets certain conditions; liens for various types of home equity loans; and an owelty of partition lien.
bers who are qualified and could claim the exemption don’t live on the property. It can also be lost if the homestead is abandoned, e.g., the person claiming the homestead exemption ceases using the property as a homestead by selling it or by designating another homestead. You can only designate one property as your homestead.
2. What kinds of property can you homestead in Texas?
Property tax exemptions reduce the taxes on your home. They remove part of the assessed value of your property from taxation and lower your taxes because the tax rate is applied on a lower taxable value.
An urban homestead consists of a lot or contiguous lots, together with the improvements, not exceeding ten acres, in a city, town or village. A rural homestead is not located in an urban area and is limited to two hundred acres for a family and one hundred acres for a single adult. A business homestead is a homestead which is used as both a residence and a place of business.
3. How can a property lose its homestead exemption? The homestead exemption can be lost when the person claiming the homestead dies and other family mem-
4. What is a property tax exemption?
5. What kinds of general property tax exemptions are available in Texas? To qualify for the homestead exemption you must occupy the home on January 1 of the year you claim the exemption. The homestead exemption reduces your school taxes and county taxes. In addition, the governing body of each taxing unit, like a city, may offer an additional homestead exemption to
D O N ’ T L E T T H I S O N E G E T AWAY ! TRY
reduce your taxes. An additional benefit is the homestead cap. The cap applies to your homestead beginning in the second year you have a homestead exemption, and if you qualify, the taxable value of your property cannot increase more than ten percent per year. Finally, if you are over 65 or disabled you may receive additional exemptions, including a tax ceiling, which means that once you qualify, your property taxes will not increase unless you make improvements to the home. If you qualify, the assessed value of the home and the tax rates may increase but the property taxes are frozen and will not increase. I’ll be back next month with more questions and, hopefully, more answers. Remember, we’re all in this together and the more information you have the better questions you can ask your lawyer and the better decisions you will make. John W. Bickle resides in Sun City, is licensed to practice law in Texas and continues in practice today as a member of the Williamson County bar. He can be reached by phone at (512) 868-8593 or by email at email@example.com BEFORE
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HEALTH & WELLNESS Healthy Cooking Tips for Your Holiday Feast By Kyla Baum With diabetes affecting more than 29 million Americans, chances are your holiday guests this year may include people who have dietary concerns related to diabetes or weight loss goals. You might be asking yourself, “How do I prepare a tasty feast of traditional holiday foods for friends and family and still respect their dietary and health needs?”
First, it is important to understand a few basic guidelines regarding food choices for people with diabetes.
There are no truly forbidden foods on the diabetic meal plan, only forbidden portion sizes based on an individual’s meal plan. As people learn to read food labels and count carbohydrates and fats, they quickly learn that many of their favorite holiday foods can be included in the holiday meal, but the portion size may be significantly smaller than what they have eaten in the past. With that in mind, you can make some adaptations in your cooking that can make staying within the meal plan a little less stressful for your guests. Making some changes in how you prepare certain holiday foods can be a great start to healthier eating for the new year ahead, benefitting everyone at the table.
Here are some suggestions on how to adapt traditional foods:
◆ Turkeys and hams can be prepared with savory herbs and spices, instead of honey glazes and butter brimming.
◆ Side dishes can be especially tasty with broths and seasonings, instead of the more traditional cream-based soups and sugar added to casse roles.
◆ As for those tasty desserts, try swapping breads, fillings and icings for
more fruit and nuts. Be aware, however, that fruit is a carbohydrate and can affect blood sugar levels.
◆ If the recipe calls for butter, use applesauce for half of the called-for amount of butter.
◆ Cut back the amount of fat by up to one third of the amount for most recipes. Chances are you won’t notice a big difference in taste.
◆ Reduce sugar by using artificial sweeteners, but be careful about which
one you choose. You can bake with Splenda or Stevia, however, many of the other non-nutritive sweeteners such as Equal and NutraSweet will not hold up in the high temperatures required for baking.
The holiday season is a time to celebrate. Open your cookbooks, get creative, and introduce a new, healthy alternative to your old recipes. Be sure to share your successful alternative recipes with your guests. It could be a wonderful gift to your family and friends.
Kyla Baum, is a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at St. David’s Georgetown Hospital.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
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DECEMBER 2016 | 23
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