Do you have questions about your taxes? Would you like assistance in completing your income tax forms?
The AARP Tax-Aide Program, in cooperation with the IRS, N.C. Dept. of Revenue, the Buncombe County Council on Aging and Buncombe County Public Libraries will again offer free tax preparation for low- and middle-income taxpayers, as well as older adults (age 60+), from February 1 through April 15, 2010. Electronic filing (E-file) is available for safe and accurate preparation and fast refunds. The locations and times for tax assistance are:
Tax Assistance Sites
Senior Opportunity Center
36 Grove Street, Asheville
West Asheville Library
942 Haywood Road, Asheville
41 N. Main Street, Weaverville
Black Mountain Library
105 N. Dougherty Street, Black Mountain
Taxpayers should bring the following documents:
Limited homebound assistance is available for persons with disabilities; contact The Council on Aging at 277-8288 or email email@example.com; ‘homebound’ means no ability to travel to a tax aide site due to physical frailty.
FDA Advises Consumers Not To Use Certain Zicam Cold Remedies
Intranasal Zinc Product Linked to Loss of Sense of Smell
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to stop using three products marketed over-the-counter as cold remedies because they are associated with the loss of sense of smell (anosmia). Anosmia may be long-lasting or permanent.
The products are:
The FDA has received more than 130 reports of loss of sense of smell associated with the use of these three Zicam products. In these reports, many people who experienced a loss of smell said the condition occurred with the first dose; others reported a loss of the sense of smell after multiple uses of the products.
“Loss of sense of smell is a serious risk for people who use these products for relief from cold symptoms,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “We are concerned that consumers may unknowingly use a product that could cause serious harm, and therefore we are advising them not to use these products for any reason.”
People who have experienced a loss of sense of smell or other problems after use of the affected Zicam products should contact their health care professional. The loss of sense of smell can adversely affect a person’s quality of life, and can limit the ability to detect the smell of gas or smoke or other signs of danger in the environment.
The FDA has issued Matrixx Initiatives, maker of these Zicam products, a warning letter telling it that these products cannot be marketed without FDA approval.
“Companies have an obligation to the public to demonstrate to the FDA that their products are safe, particularly when there is evidence they may be causing serious adverse events, and they are marketed for minor, self-limiting conditions like the common cold,” said Deborah M. Autor, director of CDER’s Office of Compliance.
Health care professionals and consumers are encouraged to report adverse events (side effects) that may be related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online, by regular mail, fax or phone.
Many people in Western North Carolina prefer to heat their home with wood. For some heating with wood is the most economical, environmentally sustainable, and responsible way to heat a home. The benefits are numerous: It is renewable, a local fuel source, good exercise, and is often cheaper.
However, heating with wood also has some serious risks: home fires; poor indoor and outdoor air quality; finding high quality wood for burning; and the added responsibility of maintaining a fire and woodstove. These risks can be avoided by using up-to-date equipment, maintaining it well, and using the best combustion practices. Better equipment and techniques also increase the heating efficiency of your wood, saving time, work, and money.
Heating efficiently with wood requires three things: a good stove; a good source of dry, seasoned, wood cut to the right size for your stove; and a dedication to making it work.
To learn more about a federal tax credit for purchasing a new, more efficient wood-burning stove, woodstove efficiency, how to keep your stove safe and clean, what kind of wood burns best and more, see pdf attached below.
It won’t be long before many western North Carolina gardeners will be ready to get out and start working up that garden soil. When you shove your shovel into the ground, are you faced with sticky red clay, rather than the nice loamy soil you envision? That situation can be remedied with the addition of plenty of organic material.
Compost is high on the list for improving garden soil. You can purchase a pickup truck load of compost at some of the local mulch yards, but most gardeners like to make their own. You need a place to put yard waste and kitchen scraps anyway.
The process of making compost is not difficult or mysterious. Mother Nature has been doing it since the beginning of time. But there are some basic requirements that will help the process to work well.
Plant material is decomposed naturally by an assortment of microorganisms - mostly fungi and bacteria. These living organisms have some of the same needs as the rest of us. They need oxygen, adequate water (but not too much), and a high energy food supply.
Compost can be made by simply piling yard waste in an out-of-the-way place, or in a compost bin. Gardeners have used all sorts of creative methods for building compost bins. The primary considerations are size and available materials. The most efficient size for a bin is about 4 feet by 4 feet. Construction materials can be almost anything that will allow air flow to allow for that needed oxygen supply.
"Serious" composters prefer a covered bin so the amount of moisture in the bin can be controlled. In an uncovered bin, good drainage under the pile and good air flow are especially important to prevent the pile from staying too wet during rainy weather.
Materials added to the compost bin generally fall into the categories of "high carbon" or "high nitrogen." Anything dry and brown is high in carbon. Fresh green materials such as grass clippings or kitchen scraps are high in nitrogen. The nitrogen is the energy food needed for the microorganisms to work most effectively. A pile of leaves will break down eventually, but it may take a long time. If the leaves are chopped and mixed with green materials, composting will be much faster.
Yard waste usually contains adequate amounts of the needed microorganisms, especially if you pull spent plants up and leave some soil attached to the roots. To assure a good supply, one can also add several shovels if topsoil or finished compost. Manures are also a good source of both nitrogen and microorganisms.
Aerating the compost pile is the only labor intensive step; and it is not essential. The pile can be “turned” by literally shoveling the pile to an adjacent spot, essentially turning it upside down. Or if the pile is not too large it can be aerated by fluffing with a garden fork or a special aerating tool. The purpose of aerating is to re-mix the materials and infuse a fresh supply of oxygen to get the microbes reenergized and working again.
To learn more about backyard composting, visit the Extension Master Gardeners’ demonstration site at the WNC Farmers’ Market. Later in the spring volunteers will be available at the site for some Saturday morning workshops. You may also call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
If you believe the long range weather forecasts, 2010 is not expected to be an unusually wet year. More gardeners are preparing for the inevitable dry spells by installing rain barrels. To facilitate this need Buncombe County Cooperative Extension has arranged a one day rain barrel sale.
Pay by: March 22, 2010 (Make checks payable to Rain Barrel USA)
Pick Up: Saturday, March 27, 2010 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Location: WNC Farmers Market
To order your barrel, mail your payment or drop it by:
Rain Barrel Order Form
The deadline to order a rain barrel is March 22, 2010. If you have questions, contact Extension Master Gardeners of Buncombe County at 828-255-5522.
Learning the local regulations for what and how to recycle is a good way to prepare for recycling. (Find out where and what you can recycle in the recycling section of the Buncombe County website.) But where in your home are you going to find space for storing recyclable items? You don’t need an extravagant recycling center. Instead, follow these three steps to create a recycling center in your home.
Step 1: Locate Your Center
It’s easier to keep the recycling habit if you make recycling as convenient as possible. Locate your center so you can make recycling part of your daily routine. If possible, choose a spot in or near the kitchen (where most of the solid waste is generated). It’s good if this spot also is convenient for hauling away items for disposal – whether loading your car for a trip to the recycling center or carrying items to the street for curbside pickup.
If you live a long distance from a recycling center, you may want to create both short-term storage inside your home, and long-term storage in a garage or outdoor storage shed. Study your situation to find some space for your recycling center.
Use your imagination. A storage unit in the family room, a corner of the laundry room, or a closet could become a recycling center. You could locate your recycling center in the:
Step 2: Select Storage Containers
The number and size of storage containers you’ll need depends on the number of categories into which you must sort solid waste, and how often you’ll be making trips to the recycling center. Some recycling programs allow various wastes to be commingled; others require wastes to be sorted. Check local recycling requirements to decide how complicated a storage system you’re going to need (City of Asheville; Waste Pro; Buncombe County). If you’re in doubt about who to contact for local regulations, call Buncombe County Solid Waste at 250-5460.
Select containers to fit the size of your storage space, whether drawers, cupboards, shelves, or the floor. Decide how much you’re willing to lift. Large containers may be too heavy when full. Small ones may not hold enough to be useful.
Commercially available “recycling centers” can be expensive and may not adapt to your needs. In the true spirit of recycling, try to use existing containers, rather than buying or building new ones.
Step 3: Make Recycling Easier
Make recycling a family affair. It’s easier to get people involved if they know what they’re supposed to do. Here’s how to help.
Source: Prepared by Mary H. Yearns, extension housing specialist; Lois N. Warme, extension interior design specialist; and Laura Sternweis, extension communication specialist. Iowa State University, University Extension
Many families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet and are facing increasingly hard times. The Buncombe County Department of Social Services and many other community organizations can provide assistance to help those people in crisis.
Eligible individuals may receive assistance with medical care, food, utilities, rent, clothing, transportation, and other needs. The following directory lists agencies that provide crisis assistance, their phone number, and the types of assistance they offer.
The Friends of the Black Mountain Library are sponsoring an essay contest for people over the age of 50. Contestants should write a 1-3 page essay entitled "I Refuse to Get Old!"
Entries must be received at the Black Mountain Library by 6 p.m. on February 8. Winners will be announced at the Friends program on Monday, February 22, at 6:30 p.m. The top prize is $50.
The special guest at the program will be Nancy Werking Poling, author of Out of the Pumpkin Shell.
For more information, please call the Black Mountain Library at 250-4756 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A nice winter day will send a lot of gardeners out with the pruners. But is it the best time to prune your shrubs? It depends on the plant. Most evergreens can be pruned now through spring. Severe, rejuvenation type pruning is best accomplished in February or March.
You can also prune shrubs that bloom in late summer. But spring blooming plants will already have flower buds formed, so pruning before they bloom will remove the flowers. You would want to wait until right after they have bloomed, unless it is a plant that is overgrown and in need of a severe pruning job.
For more information on pruning see “Pruning Trees and Shrubs."
Some Evergreens that can be pruned in late winter:
Shrubs to prune after bloom:
Some Flowering shrubs best pruned in late winter:
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255--5522.
This week we are featuring some animals available for adoption from FurEver Friends. Please consider making one of these animals your "FurEver" friend by giving it a loving home.
Breed: Domestic Short Hair - gray and white, Tabby - Grey
I'm gentle and affectionate. I love my foster dad, but there are just too many other cats here at the shelter!!! I can hardly hear myself purr. I tolerate other cats, but I'd really love a home with a single person, or nice retired couple where I could be the only animal companion.
Breed: Domestic Short Hair - Black [Mix]
I love it when you stroke my beautiful black, silky fur. I will love you for life if you will just give me a chance.
Breed: Domestic Short Hair-black, Siamese [Mix]
I'm sweet, loving and playful, but I can't seem to find a home. Could you be the one to love me?
All of these cats have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and tested for FIV and FeLV and they are already house trained. If you are interested in adopting one of these pets, or would like to look at any of the other wonderful animals that need homes, FurEver Friends conducts a weekly adoption event every Sunday at the SuperPetz store located at 825 Brevard Road in Asheville (across from the Biltmore Square Mall) between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The volunteers can't transport all of animals to the adoption event every week, so if you would like to meet one, or you are looking for a certain kind, age, etc., call or email ahead to make sure that it will be there: (828)-670-6723 / email@example.com. Alternately, animals may be seen by special appointment as time and scheduling permit.
Visit the FurEver Friends website to see more animals available for adoption.
Please select the “Recipe of the Week” icon in the sidebar of the eZine if you are interested in entering the contest. If your recipe is selected you will receive a prize!
The average person in the U.S. uses more than 20,805 sheets of toilet paper annually. Unfortunately, recycled-content paper makes up less than 2% of the toilet tissue used each year.
Recycled-content tissue products, including toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissues, are readily available at grocers, pharmacies, and national retail chains. Not only does recycled-content tissue reduce the demand on forests and tree farms, but it also provides an essential market for our recyclable mixed paper. Next time you shop, give recycled-content tissue a try.
Buncombe County will focus on recycling, reusing and reducing in 2010 with the theme of "Growing Greener Together." To help promote this theme, the County is looking for high quality photos of citizens enjoying the outdoors, participating in recycling, litter cleanup or just walking the dog.
The photos must be high quality (at least 300 dpi) and will become the property of Buncombe County.
The best photos could be featured on the County's website, in promotions and in the 2010 editions of Buncombe Life magazine. The grand prize winner could be featured on the cover. Prizes will be awarded for all photos chosen for use by the County.
Submit your photos here.
With family members getting ill from the cold or flu, it is all the more reason to keep the house disinfected. Since product labeling can sometimes be confusing, an explanation between a disinfectant and a disinfectant cleaner or antibacterial cleaner may be necessary.
Disinfectants contain antimicrobial ingredients that kill germs if surfaces are free from heavy soil. Disinfectant or antibacterial cleaners contain ingredients for removing soil, as well as antimicrobial ingredients that kill germs. Also remember - household bleach disinfects when used according to label directions.
Questions? Call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
The library storyline phone number has changed.
Children wishing to hear a story read to them can call 250-KIDS (250-5437). It is accessible 24 hours a day, everyday.
The story selection changes every week. Each story is about five minutes long and some include a few songs.