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Time To Add Discipline To Your Good Money Habits

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– By Amy and Dan Smith

For many, their 30’s is a time to build a family and a stronger financial future
That 30th birthday can be a somewhat traumatic event, but with people living longer, they say 50 is the new 30. If that’s the case, then you’re just a kid!

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should be childlike about your finances. If your 20’s are the years when you lay the foundation for good financial habits, then your 30’s are when you build on that foundation.

By now you’re likely employed in your field, possibly married or in a committed relationship, and thinking about building a family. It’s important to factor in these life events when you are planning. A financial advisor can work with you to create a solid plan and provide objective guidance no matter how investment savvy you are.

Your priority should be saving and avoiding non-mortgage debt. Without debt, saving seems easy. And there’s a lot to save for: the wedding, starting a family, buying a house, sending your kids to college and retirement. Not to mention all the surprises in between. This is where the long-term plan you and your financial advisor create comes in. It’s important to stick to it.

Another key element is to review your financial plans periodically to make sure they still meet your goals. If you are part of a couple, consider making “financial dates” with your spouse or partner to proactively talk about money. It’s a good way to make sure both parties in a relationship are aware of the other’s goals for the future.

To Help You Get Started on your Journey, Here’s a Checklist for 30-Somethings:

Save for retirement. Are you taking advantage of the retirement plan offered by your employer? It allows you to invest a portion of every paycheck before taxes –or after taxes in the case of a Roth 401(k). While you’re at it, analyze other employer benefits. Are you taking advantage of all the benefits your employer offers? Look at everything, form flexible spending accounts to group discounts.
Pay off personal debt. Have you paid off all your high-interest debt? Paying off a credit card that charges 25 percent interest means substantial savings.

Write a simple will and also a living will. How will your property be handled if you die? A simple will can keep your loved ones from having to decide. What do you want to happen if you become seriously ill? A living will records your wishes and removes that burden form your family.

Name a guardian for your children, if you have any. Who will be responsible for your children if you and your spouse/partner die? Protect them by legally naming a guardian.

Review your insurance. If you’ve recently married or started a family, are life and disability insurance adequate given your new status? Also, the younger you are, the less long-term care and disability policies cost. It’s also a good idea to review your auto and home policies to ensure your family and property are fully covered. You may also be eligible for package discounts.

Start a college fund for your children if you have any. As soon as you are out of debt, begin an education fund. The costs for education are soaring, so the earlier you can begin saving the better.
Think about your future housing needs. Is your family going to outgrow your house? Will your parents eventually move in with you? A separate savings fund for housing can accommodate these possibilities.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice. For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Legal advice and services are not offered through Raymond James. Amy V. Smith CFP ® CIMA. Amy Smith Wealth Management, LLC, is an independent firm offering securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel. 703 669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com. Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.

Do It Yourself Legal Products Bargain or Trap?

June 1, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Do It Yourself Legal Products Bargain or Trap?
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The proliferation of online vendors offering legal documents and services for fixed fees is causing a real stir in the legal community. On the one hand there can be no question that the pricing of legal services puts personalized legal counsel out of reach for many people. On the other hand, most legal problems do not lend themselves to over-the-counter solutions.

The North Carolina State Bar Association tried to close down LegalZoom charging it with the unauthorized practice of law. A court order reversed the action. In the meantime, Rocket Lawyer, a competitor to LegalZoom, is teaming with the American Bar Association to offer legal advice to small businesses. The Virginia State Bar is carefully reviewing the situation in Virginia. … Continue Reading

Planning for Life Disclosure and Other Family Issues in Estate Planning

May 4, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Planning for Life Disclosure and Other Family Issues in Estate Planning
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What do we tell the kids?

Questions of how much and what type of information to give the children often arise during consultation. The answers depend on the circumstances of each family – the ages and maturity of the children being the most obvious factors. As a general rule the ideal is to advise the children as to the extent and nature of the parents’ assets and plans. This can lead to a smoother transition to the next generation.

Issues of entitlement, sibling rivalry (where there is more than one child involved), and perceptions of fair-ness may naturally surface with regard to the parents’ estate. Feelings may be particularly acute where one child has provided more care and attention to a parent than the other children, as is often the case. … Continue Reading

How To “File and Suspend” Before It Is Too Late

April 6, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on How To “File and Suspend” Before It Is Too Late
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With the recent changes to Social Security rules, filing and suspending will soon be phased out, but there’s still time to take advantage of the strategy.

Here’s a quick guide to maneuvering this rule while it still lasts, but as always, you should work with your financial advisor to discuss further how you can use this and other strategies in your financial plan. … Continue Reading

There If (Or When) You Need It

March 2, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on There If (Or When) You Need It
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Long-term care is one of the biggest and often unexpected expenses in retirement. Thinking about funding a long-term care plan now can save you later.

It seems we don’t pay much attention to long-term care until it directly affects us. Sure, it may pop up on our radar when consoling a friend who’s bearing the weight-physically and financially – of a loved one’s care or through the trials and tribulations of funding an aging parent’s assisted living needs. However, there may come a time when you or your spouse could face these challenges and decisions.
Few Americans place long-term care needs high on a list of concerns. In fact, more than half don’t have a plan for when they’re unable to independently bathe, dress, eat or get around, according to the 2012 State of Planning Survey. … Continue Reading

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn

February 3, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn
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It’s natural to be nervous when the markets head for negative territory. Keep a positive perspective with these six investing reminders.
It can be very unsettling for investors when their portfolios and the markets start heading for the red and fear sets in that all you’ve worked for and set aside for retirement and other goals could be at risk. Here are six investing basics to keep in mind during volatile times:

Periods of volatility are normal – All markets move in cycles and periods of steep contraction are completely normal. While the length of market contractions varies, periods of growth and expansion are usually waiting on the other side. Since 1973, stocks have fallen more than 10 percent and subsequently rebounded eight times.

Don’t Panic – Letting emotions dictate your investing strategy is a risk you should not take. Short-term decisions can have long-term consequences on your portfolio. Being patient can pay dividends.

Know your portfolio – Understand your investments and how specific investments represent different goals and outcomes. Keep in mind your risk tolerance and investment timeline, and if either has changed, consider talking to your financial advisor about rebalancing your portfolio. Diversification can potentially help balance risk during a downturn and mitigate extreme swings in value.

Stay the Course – Remember your financial plan and long-term goals and stick to them. A disciplined investment approach is the best strategy for handling market downturns and will likely enable you to participate when the markets rebound.

Consider opportunities – Working with your financial advisor, determine whether periods of volatility are a good time to take advantage of investment opportunities in line with your long-term plan.

You’re not alone – Your financial advisor is available to help you when you need it. He or she can guide you through difficult markets and be the independent voice and “information bodyguard” that helps you stay focused on your long-term goals.

Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP, CIMA, offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home

January 7, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home
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Despite our best efforts, sometimes grown children aren’t quite ready to enter the real world.

The day our children move out of the house, graduate from college, or land their first full-time job isn’t always-or even often-the day they achieve independence. Life is full of twists and turns, and even young adults with the best laid plans can veer off course, turning to their parents for support when things get tough. One study, conducted by Arizona Pathways to Life Success, says that half of recent graduates ages 23 to 26 depend on their family’s financial support to meet their current needs. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes

December 2, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes
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There is a relationship among income, gift and estate tax which can appear complex. However, in reality most of gifts are not affected by taxes.

This column addresses non-charitable gifts. Unlike a gift to charity, a gift to a person is not deductible by the donor for income tax purposes. A gift to a person is not taxable income to that person.

There is a federal gift tax but (with the exception of Connecticut and Tennessee) states don’t impose gift taxes. Here’s how the federal gift tax works: A person may make as many gifts as he/she wishes each year so long as the total value of gifts to each person for the year is within the amount of the “annual exclusion.” The annual exclusion is subject to adjustment each year and is $14,000 for 2015 and 2016. So Dad can give up to $14,000 of gifts apiece to each child, grandchild and neighbor without having to file a gift tax return, no matter how many children, grandchildren and neighbors he has. Furthermore, Mom can do the same. In fact, if Dad wants to give up to $28,000 per donee and Mom doesn’t want to give anything, Dad can “borrow” Mom’s annual exclusion for that year. However, Dad will have to file a gift tax return which Mom will sign to show she is allowing him to use her annual exclusion. (To avoid that requirement gifts can be made from joint property, as with a joint bank account.) … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts

November 4, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts
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A common estate planning device is the trust. A trust is simply an agreement between two people: the person who establishes the trust, who may be called the Settlor, the Grantor or the Trustor, and the person or institution who agrees to fulfill the terms of the trust, called the Trustee. There can be multiple Settlors, as, for example, a married couple; and there can be more than one Trustee. Quite often in estate planning the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s), as when a married couple creates a joint trust.

There are many different types of trust, too many to describe in the space of this article. In estate planning a “Revocable Living Trust” (RLT) is very common. This is a trust established during lifetime which the Settlor(s) can continue to change during lifetime. Usually the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s). … Continue Reading

How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits

September 30, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits
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The 10-year rule and understanding your benefit options

When it comes to retirement income, Social Security typically accounts for the lion’s share, so it makes sense to understand how to maximize your benefits. As you may know, marital status is an important decision factor when it comes to timing benefits. But, did you know divorce also comes into play? Many people see divorce as a chance to start over, a clean slate, if you will. But just because your former spouse is out of the picture, doesn’t mean his or her Social Security benefits have to be, especially if he or she earns more money than you. In fact, your ex can actually mean extra when it comes to what you’re eligible to collect.

Here’s why. If you were married at least 10 years before your divorce, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, assuming he or she is entitled to them. If your ex-spouse hasn’t applied for retirement benefits yet, you can still collect on his or her record if you’ve been divorced for at least two years. This holds true even if your former spouse has remarried. And, claiming benefits on his or her record has no effect on what a new spouse can claim. Of course, you have to qualify to do so. … Continue Reading

When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything

September 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything
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As you approach retirement, there are several decisions that can impact the level of income you will receive when you stop working. One such decision will be about claiming your Social Security retirement benefit.

More than half of eligible Americans take their benefits “early”-after they reach 62, even though they are locking in a permanent reduction in their monthly payment by as much as 25 percent. Still, “early” makes sense for many if they have little in savings and simply need the money. However, many do it because they can, without realizing they are giving up progressively higher payments each year they wait to claim, potentially losing as much as 32 percent than if they had waited to age 70. Surveys have shown that nearly 40 percent in this camp actually regret their decision to claim “early” once they realize how much they have given up in lifetime income. For some couples, this could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars for not adopting a “wait to take” strategy. … Continue Reading

A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

August 7, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith Comments Off on A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan
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By Amy & Dan Smith

What do you think of when someone mentions Social Security? Many people consider Social Security and retirement as one and the same. More than 90 percent of working Americans plan for Social Security to replace part of their current incomes when they leave the workforce. Sadly, what really happens is that, because of timing decisions, 75 percent of those already receiving benefits are drawing a reduced amount.*

Your benefits can be greatly affected by your specific circumstances during retirement. Your monthly payment amounts as well as your tax status can change if you decide to work part time or start a second career. There is also your and your spouse’s beneficiary eligibility to consider. … Continue Reading

The Marital Agreement

July 2, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on The Marital Agreement
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– By Amy & Dan Smith

In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property upon separation, divorce or death of the parties, including spousal support. The agreement and any amendment thereto must be in writing and signed by both parties. Commonly, lawyers will require a list of assets and liabilities of the parties as an attachment to ensure that the agreement has been entered into with full disclosure. Each of the couple should have his/her own lawyer to avoid conflict of interest.

There is understandably a resistance to the idea of a marital agreement. To say the least, it would likely steal some joy after the marriage proposal for one to suggest to his/her betrothed that, while intending to live happily ever after, they should discuss terms of divorce. However, there is a place for the marital agreement even if divorce is not considered an option for the couple. It is important, especially with second marriages and blended families, that the rights and obligations of the parties upon death be addressed, even if separation and divorce are not included in the agreement.

Each state has statutes giving rights to a surviving spouse to elect a portion of the estate of his/her deceased spouse and to override provisions in a will. Such an election can disrupt a well-considered estate plan intended to benefit the children of the decedent. A marital agreement can specify the rights of the surviving spouse in the estate of the deceased spouse in return for a waiver of the statutory right of election. It can also contain provisions concerning who may serve as agent under a power of attorney and medical directive and as executor of the decedent’s estate. These can be very divisive issues in blended families.

Often, parents want to preserve within their bloodline the inheritance that they intend to leave to their child. They may insist that their son or daughter enter into a marital agreement as a condition to marriage in order to be sure that “grandma’s silverware” doesn’t eventually end up with the son/daughter-in-law either through death or divorce. If a marital agreement is not possible, an alternative is for the parents to leave the inheritance in a trust for the child. Properly structured, the trust could provide the benefit of the assets to the child (and grandchildren) while withholding ownership so that the assets are not available to the son-in-law or daughter-in-law in case of divorce or death.

As uncomfortable as the topic of a marital agreement may be, the fact is that a discussion of sensitive topics before marriage can be a very healthy exercise. Attitudes may be revealed which had hitherto not been apparent in the bliss of infatuation, and thorny issues can be resolved before they are allowed to disrupt family harmony.

Children of a blended family are often comforted to know that issues pertaining to their potential inheritances have been addressed and are being protected by their parent. Sharing the existence of – and in many cases the details of – a martial agreement with children can help to dispel distrust of the stepparent.

The foregoing article contains general legal information only and is not intended to convey legal advice. For legal advice regarding estate planning, the reader should contact his/her lawyer. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP®, CIMA offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (Tel.703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James. Past performance may not be indicative of future results.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

Superforecasting a Book Review

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The book “Superforecasting” by Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner contains a nearly complete list of the attributes of superforecasting, as well as critical thinking. Tetlock’s research empirically confirms the aspects of critical thinking I’ve been discussing in this column. Their …

Pokémon GO: A Fun New Gaming App or an Accidental Treatment?

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Penicillin was accidently discovered in 1928 when scientist Alexander Fleming returned to his lab from vacation to notice that a strange fungus growing on a culture had killed off the neighboring bacteria. After WWII, psychiatrist and researcher, Dr. John Cade, …

Brotherly Love

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– By Samuel Moore-Sobel There he was. A small, innocent being entering the world for the very first time. Can I touch him? Nervously, I lean forward. He seems so perfect, so completely serene. He is loved instantly. The last …

To The Teen Who Feels Alone

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– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m going to do something real here and be honest for a second. In a society where telling someone your deep emotional feelings is considered weak, doing just that seems to be detrimental and could …

Unmotivated Teen

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– By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, At our insistence, our 17-year-old son is going to get a summer job. Well, that’s what he agreed to, but we are two weeks into the summer and guess what … he doesn’t …

Time To Add Discipline To Your Good Money Habits

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– By Amy and Dan Smith For many, their 30’s is a time to build a family and a stronger financial future That 30th birthday can be a somewhat traumatic event, but with people living longer, they say 50 is …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

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Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

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Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

July 2016
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Bingo at St. Francis de Sale Catholic Church

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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Bingo at St. Francis de Sale Catholic Church

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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Bingo at St. Francis de Sale Catholic Church

It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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TGIF - Jake & the Burtones

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Ken Wenzel Live at North Gate Vineyard

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Yard Sale Benefiting EPIC

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Moon Music Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Dear Creek Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Quentin Walston Live at North Gate Vineyard

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Paint Your Pint

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Lifestyle

Farmers Urged To Be on the Lookout for Marijuana

23 Jul 2016

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Farmers in Southwest Virginia are being urged to check their property for marijuana planted by trespassers. Within the past year, hundreds of marijuana plants have been discovered between rows of hay bales on farms in and around Pulaski County, according to the Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force. “Unfortunately this is a growing trend,” said Corporal Barbara Owens of the …

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Bluemont Harvest Ball To Be Held on September 17 in Warrenton

20 Jul 2016

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To commemorate the organization’s 40th Anniversary, Bluemont has announces the first ever Bluemont Harvest Ball, to be held on September 17 from 6:30 pm to 11:00 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Warrantor. This black tie event will feature live music from the Silver Tones Swing Band, dancing, a four-course, seated dinner, an open bar, and a silent auction. Tickets …

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What Do You Do To Stay Cool?

7 Jul 2016

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– By Amanda Clark “To chill out this summer I will spend a lot of my time playing music. During the summer, I have so much free time and I devote as much of it as I can to playing music.” – Michael Preston (Lovettsville) “To chill out this summer I will go to a friend’s house and borrow their …

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Editorial

Grief and Greed

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By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Lessons from Short Hill

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It’s been a little over two weeks since the Commission Permit for the proposed AT&T facility on Short Hill was overruled by the Board of Supervisors. This is just about …

Thank You

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Dear Citizens of Purcellville: As your town council member it is my vision and priority that you feel welcome at your Town Hall and take part in shaping Purcellville’s future …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

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Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Around Virginia

Blood Donors Asked To Help Address Summer Shortage

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Virginia Blood Services is urging Virginians to help replenish an extremely low summer blood supply and asking eligible donors to visit any one of its area Community Donor Centers or mobile blood drives. “Summer is always a challenging time for blood collections,” says Virginia Blood Services Executive Director, Todd Cahill. …

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McAuliffe Announces New Exports for Virginia Lumber Companies To the United Kingdom

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced new export sales of Virginia wood products to the United Kingdom (U.K.) during a trade and marketing mission to Israel and the U.K. The sales were struck between four Virginia lumber companies and James Latham PLC, one of the oldest and largest wood importers and distributors …

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Governor McAuliffe Announces 105 New Jobs in the Town of Berryville and Clarke County

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Handsome Brook Farm, LLC to Invest More Than $6 Million to Establish Egg Processing Operation in Virginia RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that New York-based Handsome Brook Farm, LLC will invest $6.4 million to establish a new pasture raised egg processing operation in the Town of Berryville and …

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Sports

Registration Open For Ida Lee’s Fall NFL Flag Football

7 Jul 2016

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Ida Lee’s Fall 2016 NFL Flag Football League will begin with player evaluations on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31.  Players must be registered by Tuesday, July 26, to participate. This fall, Ida Lee’s Leesburg NFL Flag Football House League will have the following age groups:  6-7; 8-9; 10-11; …

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Everyone’s Getting Into Cannons Action!

6 Jul 2016

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Purcellville Cannons? Baseball July Schedule July 9, 7 p.m. at home Covington? July 12, 7 p.m. away Winchester? July 13, 7:30 p.m. Harrisonburg? July 14, 7 p.m. at home Strasburg? July 15, 7 p.m. at home Woodstock? July 16, 7 p.m. away Front Royal? July 17, 7 p.m. at home …

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