Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Investors - It's Your Game!

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

As home prices fall and rents rise, some investors are plunking their money into real estate, chasing the cash flow that comes along with becoming a landlord. For the first time in a long time, you can buy that home and can get a cash-on-cash return immediately.
 There are a lot of places in the country where an investor can buy a single-family home, rent it, and get a positive cash flow. In fact, investors bought 20% of all the homes sold in April, according to the National Association of Realtors. Some of them are buying with cash. But even if they do finance part of the purchase, they’re able to turn around a profit much quicker than they would have been able to in the past. The return on rentals can be much better than returns on other investments these days.
 In the past, investors would subsidize their monthly payments on a property with the rent they were able to collect, and the big payoff was the price appreciation he or she would accumulate. Now, investors can come in with a 25% or 30% down payment, finance the rest, and the rent they collect often can cover the mortgage payment, taxes and insurance — with additional cash left over. Investors are looking at these properties on a monthly income generating basis. They can start to realize instant profit margins, even as the market goes down more. There’s a turning point where the cost of owning a home is less than the cost of renting. I believe we are there, and when that disparity grows, we will see a push from investors to pick up investment properties.
 Before investing in a rental, make sure you’ve considered the harsh realities of becoming a landlord. I’m a landlord, and I’ve been blessed with wonderful tenants, past and present. But my experience is not always the same for everyone. Remember, often the best investment is a home you wouldn’t necessarily buy to live in yourself. These days, foreclosures can be snapped up at bargain prices, and as long as you have the means to make required repairs, they can represent good opportunities. Let your local Meadow Vista Merchant Realtors show you the great deals out there, so you can start making some positive cash flow!

QR Codes Mean Quick Response for Business

By Ashlei Jackson, This Is My Town USA

A QR code (abbreviation for Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data. For example the code shown right will display the contact information for the Meadow Vista Merchants Association.
 Common in Japan, where it was created by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes.
 Although initially used for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes now are used in a much broader context, including both commercial tracking applications and convenience-oriented applications aimed at mobile phone users (termed mobile tagging). QR codes may be used to display text to the user, to add a contact information to the user's device, to open a website, video, or to compose an e-mail or text message. Small Business Owners can generate and print their own QR codes for customers to scan and use by visiting one of several free QR code generating sites. For example, Home Depot now includes a QR code on their plant tags so users may learn more about the plants while shopping.

QR codes may appear in magazines, on signs, business cards, postcards, real estate signs, websites or almost any object about which users might need information. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone's browser.
 Recently, QR codes have become more prevalent in marketing circles and have been integrated into both traditional and interactive campaigns. QR codes are not necessarily new to the world but they are growing ever more prevalent in the United States. As a small business owner, free innovative technology can make a difference between staying in business and growing your business.

New Cell Phone Tower in Meadow Vista

By Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Have you noticed that your cell phone isn’t dropping as many calls when you enter Meadow Vista? I can actually receive and make calls while at Chevron Gas Station on the corner of Meadow Vista Road! The reason? Verizon Wireless recently installed a new cell tower in Clipper Gap off Highway I-80. As the photo below indicates, this cell tower is disguised as a pine tree. Can you pick it out from the distant photo? (2nd pinetree from the right.)
Hopefully other cell phone carriers will rent space from the existing tower, so all of us Meadow Vista-ians can benefit from improved cell coverage!

Local Achievement: Graduation

Casey Schlittenhart, a resident of Meadow Vista, graduated from Sacramento State University on May 21st with a Bachelors in Deaf Studies and a Certificate in American Sign Language. Congratulations, Casey!!

From the Meadow Vista Lion's Club

By Etta Gross, Meadow Vista Lions Club

Please enjoy the free swim day on August 14, 2011 at Placer Hills Pool (in Meadow Vista) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The first 200 people will receive free hot dogs and sodas. This event is provided to the community by the Meadow Vista Area Lions Club. Just a little reminder August 14, 2011 is the last public swim day at our pool for this season.
 Do you want to join in the brainstorming for community events? Come visit a Meadow Vista Area Lions meetings. Our meetings are held on the second Wednesday of every month, starting time is 7 p.m., at the Meadow Vista Grange Hall. In September we will resume our four Wednesday night meeting (same details). Any questions please contact Lion Secretary Etta at (530) 637-5359

Fishing Derby Follow Up: About the Kids

By Skeet Reese, originally published on ‘Skeet’s Beat’,

Saturday [May 21, 2011] was the highlight of my year. We hosted our first Skeet Reese Kids Fishing Day in the community where our girls go to school; Meadow Vista. Kim and I have always wanted to do a kids event, but we didn’t really know how we wanted to do it. When we talked about doing a combination kids fishing day / fundraiser for the Community Center in town; we decided to do it.
 I have to give Kim most of the credit for pulling this event off. We decided to do it months ago, and with my travel schedule, she did most of the work and planning. It’s basically been a full time job for her for a while now, and she really pulled it off with a lot of attention to detail and a great deal of professionalism; I’m really proud of the job she did with it.
 We got a lot of comments from people about how things went, and when they found out it was our first event like this; they were shocked. Even with Kim doing such a great job, there’s no way we could have done it without the help of the community and most of all; our family and friends. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make this possible.
 Saturday was amazing; we had pre-registered more than 300 kids for the day, and way more than that showed up to fish. The families kept coming and everyone seemed to have a great time enjoying the fishing, the fun, the food and the music.
 I’m not sure how much money was raised for the Meadow Vista Community Center; we haven’t even had a chance to think about pulling figures together with unpacking from the event and life going on today. I’m sure that it will be something we’re happy to present to help get the Community Center on its way toward completion; but for me that wasn’t the best part of the day.
 I got to see kids having fun doing what I love – fishing. With so many kids’ activities being about video games, computers and television these days, fishing is a lost family activity. I was introduced to fishing when I was young, and it inspired me to want to fish for my whole life, and we shared that love with a lot of kids Saturday.
 I don’t know how many kids caught their first fish on Saturday, but it was a lot. It seemed like every time I went down by the pond, another kid, or their parents were telling me that it was their first fish; that meant so much to me.
 I don’t know if anyone will turn fishing into a career like I was inspired to do when I was a youngster by the event on Saturday, but if one boy or girl learned that fishing was fun enough to make a lifelong hobby; then it was worth it to me.
 A lot of hard work, preparation, energy and passion went into planning this event. Kim and I put a lot into this, but so did a lot of other people who really helped make this an amazing day; and I really want to thank them all from the bottom of our hearts; it wouldn’t have happened without you:
Wright & McGill Co., Eagle Claw, Berkley, Wiley X Eyewear, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Stratos Boats, Mercury Marine,, California Bass Federation Nation, Meadow Vista Lions Club, Meadow Vista True Value, Friendly Neighbors,, Best Buy, Newcastle Meats, Safeway Sonora, Beach Hut Deli, Emerald Cove Marina, Emerald Cove Marina at Bullards Bar, The Ridge Golf Course, Winchester Golf Course, Will Fish Tackle, TNG Motor Sports Guide Service, MJP River Adventures & Guide Service, Mark and Karin Zona, Reddy Ice, Mt. Lassen Trout, California Department Of Fish and Game, Auburn Recreation and Park District, Auburn Rooster Tail Fishing Club, Meadow Vista Merchant’s Association, Meadow Vista Library, Meadow Vista Fire Department, Mountain Mom’s & Little Folks, Meadow Vista Rod & Gun Club, Cheek Thrills Face Painting, Placer County Nature Center, Canyon Keepers, Placer County Youth Soccer, CafĂ© Vista, Jay Vanti Salon & Spa, Jamba Juice, Road Grill BBQ, Vincent Maintenance & Handyman Service, Joe Caribe Restaurant, Parkside Church, The Beda Place, Sierra Hills School, Roy & Brandy Halladay, Ivan & Mary Ichters, Joe & Sheila Coster, Sierra Pacific Reality, Dr. Randall Hensley, Sandy Edwards, Laurie Sweeney and our family and friends…

Nominate a Meadow Vista Tree: Giant Madrone

By Rich Walker, Local Resident

This one I call the Giant Sequoia of Madrone trees. It’s just off a path, locals refer to as the Madron trail between the end of Van Giesen Rd., near Sherwood Way. This Madrone matriarch has produced an entire Madrone forest, or grove, where birds and animals and the wind have spread her seeds. It was hard to get a good picture to really do it justice as the trees are so dense you’re photographing under the canopy, and surrounded this time of year by a dense forest of Poison Oak. This tree really should be registered on the as a national Historic tree as one of this magnitude is so rare in these parts. No doubt others exist, just as grand, somewhere in the canyon, but this is right here in Meadow Vista.
 The whole tree appears to be a consummation of 2 separate trees, one with a trunk diameter of 8 ft., and the other 3 ft. The combined circumference is about 35 ft. The tree height exceeds 40 ft. Most of tree family seems to be uphill from this grand Matriarch, no doubt the direction of the prevailing uphill winds.
 When you encounter this on the trail, it makes you stop and say “WOW oh WOW, look at this!”, and “What a sight!”. It’s like visiting our the local grove of Giant Sequoias, located just outside Forest Hill, but this sight is right here in our own little town.
 Below is some interesting information about the Madrone species, Arbutus Mensiesii that I found as I was learning more about this tree, and states why we’re seeing a decline in mature trees.
 Arbutus menziesii is a broadleaf evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that peels away on the mature wood, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.
 Although drought tolerant and relatively fast growing, Arbutus menziesii is currently declining throughout most of its range. One likely cause is fire control: under natural conditions, the madrone depends on intermittent naturally occurring fires to reduce the conifer overstory. Mature trees survive fire, and can regenerate more rapidly after fire.

When Rent Payments Equal Mortgage Payments

To buy a house or not to buy a house…that is the question -- To pay rent or own a home. Owning a home is one of the most significant financial decisions many people will make. It is important to look at both the advantages and the drawbacks to know what to expect.
 Home prices are at such historic lows that today most people can own a home for the same monthly payment as their current rent.  Let's look at an example:  Using a USDA loan which allows for 100% financing (no down payment) the total monthly payment including principle, interest, taxes and insurance on a home purchased for $195,000 at 5% interest would be $1315.94 (APR 5.161) With rents in some areas ranging from $1350 to $1500 per month, home ownership is very competitive.
 There is more than just the payment to consider.  On the positive side, the investment potential is great.  Home purchasers are acquiring homes at low prices knowing that the market will cycle and their investment will gain equity.  The homeowner knows that their payment will basically stay the same over the years with a 30 year fixed mortgage with only slight increases for insurance and taxes.  Currently, home interest and taxes provide a large deduction on personal income taxes for home buyers. Lastly, you are purchasing a home you can make your own.
 It is important to note that there are extra costs to home ownership.  At the time you close your loan, you will have closing expenses that include escrow, title insurance, taxes and homeowners insurance just to name a few.  Closing can cost from $3000 to $6000 depending on the loan size and home value.
 Also, a new home buyer should have money in savings for emergency repairs and costs to improve the property.  Many homeowners opt for a home warranty policy at time of close which warrants the appliances, etc. for one year  allowing time to add to a savings account for future improvements. Effectively, the new home buyer becomes his own landlord in that he is responsible to fix any item that breaks or as an example, replace carpeting if desired. 
 It is important to seek the advice of a professional when considering the decision to buy a home.  Make an educated choice whether to continue renting or to purchase a home based upon your total financial picture.
 Home ownership is part of the American dream and at today's low prices and low mortgage rates, that dream is possible for many more individuals.

Fluoride vs. Fluorosis

By Dr. Scott Thompson, DDS, Winning With Smiles

Get maximum dental benefit, minimize fluorosis risk.  Every parent wants to get this right.  We want to prevent dental decay for our children for sure.  We also want to avoid unsightly fluorosis on our children's permanent teeth.  Please note: only children are at risk for developing fluorosis.
First: About the fluorosis value at risk.  For the average person eating normal foods and using typical dental care products there is a small risk of very mild to mild fluorosis.  Very mild to mild fluorosis is tiny white specks on the teeth.  They are typically not noticeable at conversational distance.  Some people appreciate them because the teeth appear whiter.  Often, photographs of severe fluorosis are published in fluoride warning publications.  Severe fluorosis is a very disfiguring opaque white with brown blotches discoloration on the surface of the teeth.  It is ugly.  Another group at risk is infants and toddlers allowed to brush their teeth with (and eat) a full squeeze of fluoride toothpaste.  Fluoride toothpaste is for children age two and above and should be applied to the brush by an adult in the size of a split pea or grain of rice. 
Second: About the frustrating development of additional fluoride sources.  The difficulty physicians and dentists have measuring and prescribing fluoride comes largely from our food industry.  Fluoride is naturally found in all water supplies including oceans (two parts per million) and freshwater.  Originally fluoride was primarily available in water supplies, naturally or added by water municipalities.  It was easy to measure and estimate how much a typical person consumed.  Today it is additionally and intentionally available in toothpaste, mouth washes, prescription dental gels and dental floss. 
 Fluoride is also unintentionally present in many sodas, juices, baby formula, other beverages and other foods processed with or reconstituted with fluoridated water.  The amount of fluoride that is present in these products depends on which bottling or processing plant made them.  The amount is unknown, varies widely in the same products and is not labeled on the product.  Due to the multiple unmeasured sources of fluoride, it is impossible for a physician or dentist to calculate an appropriate supplement of fluoride for a growing child.
 Suggestions to maximize the benefit and minimize the ingestion of fluoride:  Starting with toothpaste, use a small amount on your brush approximately the size of a split pea or grain of rice.  After brushing your teeth thoroughly spit out the foam and do not rinse your mouth afterwards.  Also try to avoid eating or drinking anything for the next 30 minutes.  This allows more time for the minute amounts of fluoride to incorporate in the surface of the tooth.  If you have a history of cavities you may wish to talk to your dentist about options specific to your level of need. 
In general, with the growing number of fluoride sources in our daily lives, dentists and physicians are moving away from attempting to calculate appropriate fluoride supplements and are moving toward the use of topical fluorides.  This minimizes the risk of fluorosis and maximizes the benefit of fluoride protection from cavities.
Still, the best way to administer fluoride for consistent prevention of cavities is with community water fluoridation. Water fluoridation levels have been recently reduced to accommodate the “extra” fluoride in many food sources.  Please note that the fluoride in foods is only present in processed foods.   If you primarily eat whole foods (whole fruit, vegetables, whole grains, meats and dairy) then your children are not at risk from the growing sources of fluoride in processed foods and beverages.

Meadow Vista Local Moments - Big Catch

Clayton Leveskis caught this 5lb 13oz trout Friday the 27th of May at the pond in Meadow Vista Park.

New Rules for Sunscreens

By Richard L. Peatman, Pharm.D., Meadow Vista Pharmacy

The FDA has changed the rules for sunscreens.  In new regulations, the term “Broad Spectrum” will be used for products that protect from both UVB and UVA and have a SPF of 15 or higher.  The goal of the FDA was to encourage more protection against skin cancer.  The labeling changes include:  1. Products that are SPF 2 to 14 must be labeled “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert “This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.” 2.  Only two times may be listed for water resistant products: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.  3.  Manufacturers cannot label products as waterproof or sweat proof.
 Remember, severe sunburns can put you at greater risk for melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  But the sun isn't the only culprit. Tanning devices like sunlamps used in tanning beds are more dangerous than previously thought. A few years ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) looked at 19 studies conducted over 25 years. It found a link between indoor tanning and two kinds of skin cancer, as well as melanoma of the eye. The risk of skin melanoma increased by 75 percent when indoor tanning began before age 35.  As a result, the agency moved these devices into the highest cancer risk category: "carcinogenic to humans."  Remember, you are at special risk if you have pale skin; blond, red or light brown hair, or you or a family member has had skin cancer.  Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their 20s.  One in eight with melanoma will die from the disease.
 So, besides avoiding tanning salons, what can you do? Take precautions, whether you're at the poolside or on the ski slopes. If you can, limit time in the sun when rays are strongest  between 10 am and 4 pm.  Wear wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves, and long pants, when possible. Use a water-resistant,  broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF.  Be sure to apply sunscreen to areas of uncovered skin about 15 minutes before you go outside. Pay special attention to your nose, ears, neck, lips, and hands. Reapply, after two hours. If you have a child younger than 6 months, talk with the doctor. Also check the cosmetics you're using. Some make you more sensitive to UV rays.
 And don't forget about protecting your eyes.  Buy sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV protection  even for your kids. If you're not sure whether yours offer this protection, check with your eye care professional.

Meadow Vista Moments - Winchester Tennis

Winchester "loves" tennis too: shown are the players at the June Tennis Social at the Winchester Swim and Tennis center.

Special thanks to Randall Hensley who submitted our cover photo taken at the Meadow Vista Park. Dr. Hensley owns Hensley Chiropractic and is the current president of the Meadow Vista Merchants.

Send your high-quality pictures for cover consideration to

Recipe - Maple Salmon

Recipe from Christine Schlittenhart, Sierra Pacific Real Estate

Fitness Is A Family Affair

By Shannon Smith, Stroller Strides

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages regular physical activity for children aged 2 and up on most, if not all, days of the week for an average of 60 minutes a day. Regular activity is considered most important for obtaining health-related benefits, even if it is not vigorous exercise. Youth are inherently fit; current recommendations focus on making sure children stay active instead of retreating into a sedentary pattern.
The benefits of exercise are enjoyed by children as well as adults. Physical activity can help:
 • Prevent high blood pressure & high cholesterol
 • Strengthen bones
 • Ward off heart disease and other medical problems
 • Relieve stress
 • Maintain or achieve an appropriate weight for height and body build
 • Reduce risk for Type II Diabetes
 • Provide a healthy outlook on life
 Recommendations for youth fitness focus on promoting a variety of activities that are fun and can be easily incorporated into a child’s lifestyle. These activities can include team sports, individual sports, and recreational or lifetime activities, such as walking, bicycling, and swimming.
Any form of physical activity that is regular, enjoyable, and sustainable is the desired endpoint.
 Exercise will be most enjoyable, and thus, beneficial, if it is part of a family experience. Fitness should be a family affair and should be promoted as a fun, healthy way of life. Taking family bike rides, hiking together, swimming, or just running around on the playground are fun ways in incorporate family fitness. In addition to regular physical activity, a healthy, balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help your children maintain fitness levels and healthy body mechanics. 

Meadow Vista Community Calendar: Aug, Sept & Oct

18 CHS First day of School
24 SHS & WHS First day of School
26 Family Movie Night - Swiss Family Robinson

5 Labor Day
8 Merchants Meeting 6:30pm Back Room
  Mountain Mikes Pizza
9 Oct/Nov View Magazine Submission Deadline
11 Patriot Day
23 Autumn Equinox

8 Yom Kippur
10 Columbus Day
13 Merchants Meeting 6:30pm Back Room
  Mountain Mikes Pizza
15 Oktoberfest
15 Switchback Challenge Race
31 Halloween

Protecting Our Senior Citizens from Abuse

By Eric Meadow, Esq, The Meadow Law Group

As our As our population ages, Elder abuse is becoming a more prevalent problem in our communities.   Elder Abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.  This may come in many forms, including:
 • physical abuse- including failing to provide treatment, give medication, and/or nourish
 • financial abuse/exploitation- including misappropriation of money and property
 • neglect- including abandonment for limited or extended periods of time
 Elder abuse in many respects resembles child abuse and carries with it the same serious consequences.  Like children, our seniors often rely heavily on the care of someone they know and trust to ensure their health, safety, and welfare are secured.  It can often be difficult to identify this abuse because it will occur privately and/or confidentially related to financial affairs.  According to recent studies, a shocking 84 percent of elder abuse goes unreported.  Unfortunately, it often occurs between family members, including spouses.   It can have a dramatic effect of the health and quality of life.  Further, in cases where a person's finances, testamentary plans or investments are exploited, the victimization extends past the individual being abused.  I've seen situations where multiple generations of a family have been torn apart by the actions of an individual placed in a position of trust.
 Both criminal and civil laws exist prohibiting elder abuse.  The penalties can be severe.  In some cases, a person may be in violation without being aware.  Thus, while it takes a village to raise our children, the same should be said for caring for our seniors.  There are  some folks who must report suspected abuse or neglect of an elder. California law mandates that doctors, nurses, social workers, police, firefighters and other emergency responders, elder outreach workers, directors of home health agencies, and certain other workers report elder abuse. If any of these mandated reporters knows of elder abuse and doesn't report it, that person can be fined and possibly held criminally responsible.
 A mandated reporter must report the abuse right away, and must file a written report within 48 hours. Whether mandated or not, potential reporters are encouraged to call Adult Protective Services for a consultation if they are unsure whether an elder's situation that they have encountered is something that should be looked into further.  Individuals who don't fit into the mandated reporter category are also encouraged to report situations that don't "appear quite right" if they suspect elder abuse or neglect.  Individuals can do this anonymously.

Meadow Vista Movie Night: A success!

The Friday Night Movie was "The Three Amigos", held on June 17th. Almost $300 was raised for the MV Pool Project. Come out and enjoy the Last Movie Night of the Summer on August 26th to see Swiss Family Robinson (Rated G).