Volume 3, Issue 4 Playing it Safe “Choosing Safe Dogs” Adding a new member to your family – one with four legs, a wagging tail, and an unlimited appetite – is a decision every new pet owner must make based upon a number of criteria – not the least of which is pure emotion! By Steve Dinnen Continue Page 4
personal finance “Scammers Getting More Brazen” The latest schemes revolve around phone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS agents who demand immediate payment for fabricated tax liabilities. Don’t get caught up in these scams. By Thompson Myers & Associates
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Safety Pins “Salesmen Need to Cut Short Their Push to Buy an Extended Warranty.” I finally asked, “What percentage of the people who purchase extended warranties ever have to use them?” He looked dumbfounded. I asked him again as he did not respond.
Financial Speed Bumps Ahead! By: Raymond J. Ohlson, CLU, CRC
Even though most of us are not professional drivers,
the art of driving an automobile has become second nature for most Americans today. Our cars are among our most prized possessions. In addition to the “cool” factor, they represent something even more important— our freedom—our ticket to go wherever we want, whenever we want. Some of us enjoy driving just for the sake of driving, even if we have no particular destination. This sort of random driving activity often
By Lynne Richardson
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Safe Retirement “Choosing the Right Identity-Theft Services” Few things are as disruptive as the difficulties a person must face in the aftermath of identity- theft. Do your homework before you choose an identitytheft service provider. By Cindy Tollar, CITRMS
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Safe For Life “Summer Camp” It had been less than a year since the end of World War II – June 1946. I had just celebrated my eleventh birthday and was about to be inducted into summer camp at Culver Military Academy on Lake Maxinkuckee in northern Indiana. By Norm Wilkens
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Safety Pins ... “Financial Speed Bumps Ahead” - Continued proves to be the best way to find our new “favorite places.” So, a warning to anyone who might try to take away or limit the use of the “All-American car from all Americans: don’t! Now what the heck is the connection between driving our cars and “driving” our financial vehicles? Hang in there. Allow me to return to the idea of driving as a “second nature” activity. Think about it for a moment. All of us, even as “non-professional drivers,” follow simple steps as we prepare to leave home in our cars. Something like this: You go into the garage, put your keys in the ignition, back out, and go. You are not consciously thinking about using the accelerator on the right or the brake on the left. You don’t have to think about slowing down for oncoming cars, stopping at each light, or turning on your signal when you want to turn. You just drive and assume a safe journey. Never a problem! Right? I don’t think so. We’re driving along and we see “Right Lane Close—2 Miles Ahead.” We either move over to the left or we are “cheaters”
and fly down the right lane hoping some Good Samaritan will let us in at the end of the merging lane. They mostly do (often to the dismay of other cussing drivers). Or, we might see, “Construction Zone Ahead, Slow Down, Speed Limit 40 MPH.” We may not test that sign too much because it also reads, “Let Them Work … Let Them Live—Fine $ 500.” That gets our attention! Other things we “nonprofessional drivers might encounter: A school bus stops and puts out the stop sign; a dog runs across the road; you hit a squirrel; a bird flies into your windshield; a salt truck blows salt onto your shiny hood, and up ahead, a seat belt checkpoint comes into view. WHEW! These are but a few of the challenges we all face during the course of our “normal” driving routine. We don’t get rattled; we just work within the system and continue our journey. In my case, the worst impediment is the speed bump. Why? First, often I don’t see a speed bump until it’s too late, and when I hit it, it scares the you-know-what out of me! Second, I might see the speed
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bump but not believe that it is as high as it really is. It’s such an annoying “thump” and awful sound as my car and I become airborne for a moment. It must be the shock effect. It knocks me out of my comfort zone. I either complain or kick myself for not paying attention. I then drive on without thinking of or anticipating the next bump. Now, isn’t that how we respond to challenges in our financial lives sometimes? The unexpected speed bumps rock us, yet we forget about each event and fail to prepare ourselves mentally for the next one. We’re not perfect. We want to be optimistic and not dwell on future problems. That’s the way we are supposed to respond. Consider the “lowly” but so important speed bumps in life: what they are—just small obstacles to slow us down; what they are NOT designed to do to us—they should NOT wreck our cars and throw us into a ditch; and finally, what they are supposed to do—be a warning and a reminder that there may be more obstacles ahead. Speed bumps in life are annoying sometimes, but they
Safety Pins ... “Financial Speed Bumps Ahead” - Continued are important for a variety of reasons. They get our attention and let us know that we need to stay on our toes, watch out, and concentrate on the task at hand. They are not supposed to cripple us, make us live in fear, or totally derail us from our paths. But how we respond to these occasional annoyances in our financial lives becomes critically important: ignoring some could wipe us out financially! That’s why it’s important develop a relationship with a professional financial advisor (kind of like a professional “driver” for our
financial lives). He or she can help you evaluate those occasional speed bumps in the economy, suggest strategies, offer objective solutions for whatever your financial goals are, and keep your “car” running smoothly down the road. Take advantage of your Safe Money Places™ Agent. If you sense or hit a bump in the road, give him or her a call. That’s why they’re here. So, put your keys in the ignition, back out of the garage, put the car in gear, and proceed. There will be many more speed bumps
in our financial lives. Recognize them for what they are, and you will arrive at your appointment safely and on time. Hey! I gotta drive! I’m late for an appointment! About the Author: Raymond J. Ohlson CLU, CRC, CEO & President of The Ohlson Group, Inc. and SMP International, LLC Mr. Ohlson entered the insurance business while completing his Bachelor of Science Degree at Ball State University. He quickly qualified for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) of which he is a Life Member. He also received his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation from the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Mr. Ohlson, a former life insurance company president, currently sits on college and hospital boards and is a published author. Raymond J. Ohlson can be reached at: Email: email@example.com.
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Playing it Safe
Choosing Safe Dogs By Steve Dinnen
Breathes there a kinder, gentler dog than a Golden Retriever? “Not really,” surmises petMD, the online pet information site that ranks the Golden as the safest of all major dog breeds to have around families. A Golden Retriever is confident, smart, kind and loyal – all the qualities that kids and parents alike will view as safe and positive attributes in a dog they choose. If it’s a safe dog you want, you probably don’t want a Pit Bull Terrier. Nor, sadly, would you want a German Shepherd. Back to Table of Contents
I speak from personal experience here, as the mostly Shepherd mixed-breed that we once acquired in Kentucky was a lovely and loyal dog but prone to nip at children. The smaller the kid, the bigger the nip, and with two-inch fangs, she could strike fear into the heart of child and adult alike. Heck, I didn’t even lock our doors most nights, knowing that the dog was on patrol – she was a shepherd, after all – and was ready, willing, and able to take on all comers. Big dogs trained to guard
tend not be the best pets: Shepherds, Rottweilers, Boxers, and St. Bernards – which are territorial – to boot. But there are other breeds, just a hair smaller, that fill the bill. The Labrador Retriever, for instance, is a great pet for the family, as it is listed by petMD as “playful, patient, loving, protective, and reliable.” It has a great disposition, as well. Third on the list, perhaps surprisingly, is the Poodle. It’s smart and gentle, as well, and it’s a good dog to have if you have allergies, since it sheds very little. Though we know the Poodle to be French, the breed actually started in Germany. And although we figure it to be the ultimate pampered pooch, ( Page 6)
Playing it Safe ... “Choosing Safe Dogs” - Continued it seems quite a few Poodles were drafted into World War II and used to guard American munitions factories (the Shepherd eventually became the Army’s official duty dog). Next up on the “safe and popular” list is the Irish Setter. It’s described as playful and energetic and able to play well with children. Like the Retrievers, Irish Setters need a lot of exercise. A dog you don’t hear much about, but which is also great for a family is the Vizla. It’s reported to have a lively disposition but a gentle manner. The Vizla is also loyal and affectionate. It’s able to learn new tricks – something I’ve never figured out with a dog – and has the added allure of casting off little “doggy” smell. Though there’s a lot of fur to deal with, Collies are known for being gentle. They are easily trained – which certainly came in handy on the set of the
Lassie TV series – and they love to please their owners and protect their family. Collies are traditional herders, so without instructions to the contrary, your Collie might try to corral your kids every now and then! Other top “safe” dogs include the Beagle, the Bull Terrier, and the Bull Dog, Bull Dogs, however, might been described as on the lovable ugly side; however; they are very docile animals and apparently don’t mind the cramped quarters of an apartment. Adding a new member to your family – one with four legs, a wagging tail, and an unlimited appetite – is a decision every new pet owner must make based upon a number of criteria – not the least of which is pure emotion! If you have young children in your family, you might want to follow my suggestions here and a little more research so that the dog you choose is both a joy to love and a safe new addition to your home!
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About the Author: Steve Dinnen Steve is a freelance writer specializing in financial and travel news. He received his Bachelors Degree from Drake University and his Master of Journalism from Oklahoma University. Mr. Dinnen served as Sr. Business Reporter for the Des Moines Register, Business News Editor for the Indianapolis Star and served as Editor (freelance) for the Christian Science Monitor of its weekly personal finance column. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We have previously cautioned you not to be duped by Internet and mail scams dreamed up by some pretty enterprising thieves. Most of those revolve around the Internet and e-mails, trying to steal your identity or have you pay tax liabilities that donâ€™t exist.
The latest schemes revolve around phone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS agents who demand immediate payment for fabricated tax liabilities. Donâ€™t get caught up in these scams. Always remember, the first contact you will receive from the IRS is letter, never a phone call or e-mail. Here are some guidelines to follow to avoid becoming a victim: Back to Table of Contents
1. First and foremost, always remember, the first contact you will receive from the IRS will be by U.S. mail. If you receive e-mail or a phone call claiming to be from the IRS, consider it a scam.
2. Never provide financial information over the phone via the Internet, or by e-mail unless you are absolutely sure with whom you are dealing. That includes:
A. E-mails - Do not respond or click through to any embedded links. Instead, forward it to email@example.com.
A. Social Security Number - Always resist giving your Social Security number to anyone. The more firms or individuals who have it, the greater the chance it can be stolen.
B. Phone calls - If someone calls claiming to be an IRS agent, ask for their name, badge number, and phone number. Tell them your representative will call them back. Then call this office.
B. Birth Date - Your birth date is frequently used as a cross check with your Social Security Number. A combination of birth date and Social Security number can open many doors for ID thieves. Is your birth date ( Page 6)
personal finance ... “Scammers Getting More Brazen” - Continued posted on social media? Maybe it should not be! That goes for your children, as well. C. Bank Account and Bank Routing Numbers This along with your name and address will allow thieves to tap your bank accounts. To counter this threat, many banks now provide automated e-mails alerting you to account withdrawals and deposits. D. Credit/Debit card numbers - Be especially cautious with these numbers, since they provide thieves with easy access to your accounts. There are individuals whose sole intent is to steal your
identity and sell it to others. Limit your exposure by minimizing the number of charge and credit card accounts you have. The more who have your information, the greater the chances of it being stolen. Don’t think all the big firms are safe; there have been several highprofile database breaches in the last year. The IRS is not the only disguise scammers use. They pretend to be attorneys representing estates, lottery payouts, and other such subterfuge to draw you into their web. If you ever have questions related to suspect e-mails or phone calls, please call this office before responding to them.
About Thompson Myers & Associates, PC Accounting Firm Thompson Myers & Associates’ accounting and payroll staff have been delivering professional services to small businesses in Central Indiana for over 20 years. Having worked with hundreds of small business clients, we have significant expertise with a wide variety of service businesses in Indiana. We have especially strong experience and expertise in working with businesses in the healthcare (medical, dental, etc.) and food service (restaurants, caterers, etc.) industries. Phone Number: (317) 571-8080 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://www.thompsonmyers.com/
During the summer months I have done a bit of traveling and have rented cars on two different occasions, once in Seattle and once in Tampa.
As I have rented cars often in my life and since I carry full insurance on the cars I own, I have always declined all coverages when renting a car. Both of the young men who processed the paperwork for my rentals this summer, however, indicated that because of their state laws, this might or (would not) be enough if I was involved in a wreck. I still declined. Both still pressed the issue. I still declined. Their good humor then declined, as did mine! Back to Table of Contents
But this got me to thinking about WHY they would continue to strongly encourage me to purchase additional coverage (in one instance the extra insurance was going to cost almost as much as the cost of the one day rental!). I also began reflecting on other purchases in which I have been offered extended warranties on the items purchased. You have experienced the same when you purchased items such as automobiles, computers, refrigerators, smartphones, and the like. Many people take advantage of extended warranties—it gives them peace of mind to know that the product will be covered in the event the product has a problem after the initial
(included in the regular price) warranty has ended. I certainly understand, from the business standpoint, why car rental insurance coverage and extended warranties are offered. These “add ons” are generally very positive for the bottom line. As a consumer, however, it’s generally not good for MY bottom line! About 20 years ago my husband and I were purchasing a refrigerator from a major department store. The salesperson did an excellent job explaining the features and benefits of the various options to us and we ultimately decided on a particular model. We then began the paperwork process. ( Page 6)
Safety Pins ... “Salesman Need To Cut Short Their Push To Buy ...” - Continued The very nice salesperson asked if we wanted to purchase the extended warranty. I declined. He asked again, telling me that this would give me coverage for X months after the regular warranty ended. I declined again. He pressed a bit more. I finally asked, “What percentage of the people who purchase extended warranties ever have to use them?” He looked dumbfounded. I asked him again as he did not respond. He said that he didn’t know the answer to my question. I asked him to guess. Was it five percent? Ten percent? He said he thought it was probably less than ten percent. So I told him I would take my chances as it sounded that at least 90 percent did NOT have any problems with the item I was purchasing.
By all means, if you are worried about your personal cash flow in case something happens to a big ticket item and you are not sure you will have the cash in hand to have the item repaired or replaced, purchase the extended warranty. But most people do not have any problems in the first couple of years of purchase (which is when the warranties cover). For those of you who offer extended warranties or insurance coverage—please continue to do so. It’s a good option for some people. And when your organization does offer these options, could you please do me one favor? When you train your employees to sell these items, would you encourage them to continue to exhibit the same happy, positive demeanor AFTER I decline the extended warranty as they did before I declined?
It will leave me a much more satisfied customer than I have been after two car rentals this summer! About the Author: Lynne Richardson Lynne Richardson has served as a business dean at Ball State, Mississippi State and is currently at the University of Mary Washington. She holds a PhD in Marketing from the University of Alabama and writes a weekly column, Management Matters, that appears in the Fredericksburg, VA Free Lance-Star newspaper. email@example.com
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Choosing the Right Identity-Theft Services By Cindy Tollar, CITRMS
Few things are as disruptive
as the difficulties a person must face in the aftermath of identity- theft. Lost time at home and work, the unknown of what to do, and having to prove over and over again that you are really the victim of a crime can be devastating. Even those of us who have not experienced being a victim of identity-theft have the daunting task of guarding our personal information being collected and shared across a variety of settings from birth to death, most often without our knowledge. Breaches of information seem to be growing and becoming more sophisticated each year. From a recent suspected Back to Table of Contents
supermarket chain’s breach to the confirmed Target™ breach that affected 35% of the American population in late 2013, we don’t yet know what the ramifications of just these and the Heartbleed online security bug will be. The fact is, ignoring the possibility of having one’s identity compromised is not an option. Moreover, implementing a plan to address identity-theft before, during, and after it occurs is a must. Most identity-theft services focus solely on credit monitoring and promote selfhelp options, but it’s important to consider a comprehensive solution that shifts the
responsibility of identity-theft investigation and resolution to experts. And it’s not just about credit cards! Government documents/ benefits fraud (46%) was the most common form of reported identity-theft, followed by credit card fraud (13%), phone or utilities fraud (10%), and bank fraud (6%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment-related fraud (5%) and loan fraud (2%). * So, please, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by just having protection on your bankcards or freezing your ( Page 12 )
Safe Retirement ... “Choosing The Right Identity Theft Services” - Cont. credit limits. That coverage won’t help when you are arrested for a crime you did not commit, and it won’t address your tax liability when someone uses your identity to gain employment, or when your insurance is cancelled, your driver’s license suspended, or strange bills arrive from a hospital from which you’ve never had services! You need legal and identity-theft experts at your fingertips. Some reimbursement policies may be good to have in addition to, but not in place of, comprehensive restoration services. Though reimbursement policies may help with the some costs or losses associated with identitytheft, you should be sure to understand fully their limits. For example, they may require proof the crime was identitytheft by law, and usually some policies do not provide
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restoration of your identity. An add-on to a homeowner’s policy may be cancelable and could even cause a claim that increases the cost of your homeowner’s policy. Don’t assume full coverage. Ask what a policy actually includes. If private investigators and legal help are out of pocket, or if there is a claim process for reimbursement on lost work hours to address identity-theftrelated issues, ask yourself if the cost of a DIY program is viable? Will you be able to afford it? A large number of companies present flashy marketing slogans and “guarantees” regarding their “identity-theft protection plans,” so be sure to get the facts. Some of these advertisements seem to claim to actually be able to prevent identity-theft. Don’t be quick to believe that it’s that easy.
The unfortunate reality is that preventing identity-theft is very difficult, if not impossible! What should you expect from a comprehensive identitytheft protection service? The policy should provide: • Up-to-date information for safeguarding identities. • Real, active support when a problem does occur. • 24/7 credit monitoring as a standard part of the overall service. • One-on-one access to qualified individuals through limited power of attorney that can help reduce the time the victim (you) spends on and the time to recover from identity theft. • Legal access including emergency 24/7-access.
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Safe Retirement ... “Choosing The Right Identity Theft Services” - Cont. • Nationwide coverage, not just service limited to the victim’s (you, again!) home state or local geographic area. The best identity-theft service providers will include and be experienced in: • Confirming identity-theft and determining its nature and scope; • Providing investigation of known, unknown, and potentially complicated fraudulent activity; and • Contacting, following up, and addressing escalating issues with affected agencies and institutions, including creditors and credit repositories.
Cost Considerations: A comprehensive plan that offers both legal services and identity-theft investigation can cost from $ 30.00 to $ 60.00 per month and should include your spouse and any minor children in your household. Identity-theft-only services may range from $ 12.00 to $ 30.00 per month. But the bigger question is: How much will it cost to not have experts on your side and accessible before, during, and after an identity theft? Do your homework before you choose an identity-theft service provider. Your future financial security and sanity depend on making the right choice!
About the Author: Cindy Tollar, CITRMS With over 20 years small business ownership and consulting, Cindy’s passion for the past 12 years has been to educate and connect insurance and financial professionals on the ever growing issues related to identity theft, so they offer the best advice to their clients. Cindy also does public speaking on topics ranging from network relationship building to identity theft education for non for profits, associations, schools, churches and employers. Her free training is focused on helping individuals and businesses, reduce risks related to identity theft and legal issues. Cindy can be reached at
* [Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, 2013] Visit www.SafeMoneyPlaces.com for more information about The Safe Money Choices available to you in today’s marketplace
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Safe For Life
Summer Camp By Norm Wilkens It had been less than a
year since the end of World War II – June 1946. I had just celebrated my eleventh birthday and was about to be inducted into summer camp at Culver Military Academy on Lake Maxinkuckee in northern Indiana. I use the word “inducted” because enrolling at Culver in those days was like being “sentenced” to military duty. Furthermore, my induction had been against my better will and judgment! Up to that point in my young life I had never been away from home – except on occasional visits to grandparents or other close relatives. Going to Culver was going to be a real test, since it was to last all summer long – eight full weeks! Without a doubt, I was facing my first real Back to Table of Contents
case of homesickness. Leading up to this new phase of my life’s challenges, I determined I would make the best of it even though I had not really been asked if it was something I wanted to do. According to my parents, going to Culver would be an “exciting summer filled with wonderful times swimming, boating, crafting, tent living, and sitting around camp fires.” They forgot to mention that Culver was first and foremost a military academy, and that drilling, marching, and saluting, along with inspections and parades, were part of the daily life there. The first two-weeks of my stay were as close to being miserable as a kid of eleven
can get. I might have made it through easier, however, if my family hadn’t decided to come visit me after two weeks in that purgatory. My tears flowed like a never-ending stream. My thought process was that they would take pity on their poor lost son and return me to the home I missed so much. No such luck. Resolve was there on both sides of the ledger, but they had the stronger hand: I was to stick it out – no matter what! I determined at that point, “If that’s the way you want it, I might not even come back after the six weeks remaining in my sentence.” I might even decide to join the Black Horse Troop at Culver’s Winter School and stay through my high school years. So there! However, these ( Page 14 )
Safe For Life ... “Summer Camp” - Continued thoughts did not stay with me long. If this were to be my fate, I would try to make the best of it. I passed my swimming test and learned to paddle 360 yards in water over my head. My craft skills weren’t that great, but I did manage to craft a cow’s horn ash tray, a braided lariat for keys, and an unidentifiable object that, to this day, I have yet to remember its original value or purpose. Then, there was the fight of my life! As my luck would have it, I was one of the smallest boys in my division. And, for no other apparent reason, I was selected to do battle with another young pugilist of my size who had not been held in high esteem. Seems he kept screwing up and they wanted
something done about it. In our Woodcraft section, “Thursday Night Fights” were a highlight, with the whole camp attending the event – some four hundred, wildly cheering, rabid fans out for blood – his or mine! As it turned out, the gloves were of the sixteen-ounce variety and didn’t hurt that much anyway, but I sure tried to make every blow count. I won in three grueling rounds, and though most of the fans cheered, I recall hearing a couple of “boos” because I didn’t knock out my opponent. On the way back to my tent, my Training Instructor carried me through the street to resounding cheers. Later, my opponent and I became good friends. I should also make special mention that Culver stressed
the military side of my summer daily. The officers and training personnel were all fresh from World War II assignments – many with combat experience. They knew how to carry out military drills and deal with young bucks like me who would rather play at war than become real soldiers. Again, our daily lives moved forth with decorum and promptness. Our tent inspections came down to coins flipped on beds to see if they bounced back. I would later determine that the lessons hard learned at Culver had more military value than my Air Force assignment some eleven years later! Those Training Instructors really knew how to get the most out of a group of wild young, mavericks, and we were actually thrilled when we accomplished our goals.
Safe For Life ... “Summer Camp” - Continued Much sooner than we ever imagined, the summer came to an end. In our division we had a song that we sang together: “Only three more days of starvation, Then we go to the station. Back to civilization, And, an ice box invasion.” It was hard to imagine that just a few weeks from setting foot on the grounds of Culver,
I was now much more grownup – standing straighter, demonstrating proper manners and improved in the majority of skills including, identifying insects, birds, and fauna, not to mention Indian dancing. I had significant medals to prove all of it! And, when my folks asked if I would like to return to the shores of Maxinkuckee the following summer, my answer was a resounding, “Yes, but only visit me after four weeks!”
About the Author: Norm Wilkens A nationally recognized speaker and writer, Norman Wilkens has traveled to forty-seven of the fifty states speaking on topics of marketing, advertising and public relations. His most noteworthy subjects include: Healthcare Marketing; Multigenerational travel and Baby Boomers - their contribution to society and economics. He is presently serving as Midwestern Contributor to California’s AAA WESTWAYS Magazine. Among Wilkens’ current activities are the Butler University Alumni Board of Directors; Butler’s Central Indiana Alumni Chapter Board; Chairman of the Board of Visitors for the new Communication College of Butler; Board of Directors of Ruth Lilly Educational Foundation; Salvation Army of Indiana Advisory Board and as an Elder at Second Presbyterian Church of Indiana. Email: NormWilkens@aol.com
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