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Letters Bring Alive the Mom She Never Knew PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 27 February 2012 14:48
Daughter’s Inheritance Proved More Valuable than Money

Actress and playwright Kim Russell was an adult when she finally got to know her mother, who died when Russell was just 2 months old.

Her father, Bernard Knighten, never spoke of his first wife, Luana.

“He never shared stories, never said I looked like her, unless prompted to by my aunts,” says Russell, author of Tuskegee Love Letters (

Eventually, though, he shared with her some letters he and Luana exchanged as young newlyweds during World War II. Bernard had been a Tuskegee Airman, one of the first 15 pilots in the pioneering all-African American flying squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala. Before its creation in 1941, blacks were not allowed to fly in the military.

Bernard was 23. In letters to Luana and his mother-in-law, he’s cocky, funny and clearly smitten with his beautiful wife. Luana, 21, was a bright and educated stenotypist from St. Louis, discovering a completely foreign way of life in the Deep South.

“This Tuskegee is the dirtiest place in the country,” she wrote to her mother. “You have taught me that everything in the world was nice and clean, or at least being around you, you have made things seem so, and it really hurts to find out that life isn’t really like that.”

Mostly, though, Luana’s letters reveal a kind, brave young bride trying not to worry too much about her handsome husband flying over German artillery in Africa.

“It must be an awful shock to receive a brief telegram telling you the one person you love most is gone and that you will never see them again,” she wrote Bernard after learning a friend was missing in action. “Please honey, see that I won’t get one of those telegrams.”

For his part, Bernard worked to keep his letters light.

“My bed is quite uncomfortable and I can’t sleep, thus I dream of you all night long,” he wrote to Luana. “I miss the sleep but thinking of you is better than whiskey or vitamin pills. Hmmmm, I’d better change that to just vitamin pills.”

Russell compiled the letters her father had shared into a readers theater play. Her dad attended a performance.

“He was tickled,” Russell recalls. “He laughed at the right places.”

Four years later, after he died in 2000, he had another surprise for her: hundreds more letters he’d saved from his 13-year marriage. It was the best inheritance she could ever have hoped for, Russell says.

“Growing up, I had a wonderful, loving family, but I felt different, like an orphan or an adopted child, because I never knew my mother,” she says. “When you lose a parent at an early age, what does that make you?

“I am so grateful my father saved all of those letters and I encourage anyone who’s lost a loved one to write their story, save their diaries and letters, blogs or videos. I know my mother now – she was an actress, a photographer, a dreamer – and I absolutely adore her. I see so much of me in her.”

About Kim Russell

Kim Russell is an arts administrator, writer, and performance artist best known for her one-woman show, “Sojourner Truth.” She has a bachelor’s in theater and mass communications and a master’s in business. She’s currently working on a book incorporating many more of the letters she inherited. To see Bernard’s TV debut as a comedian on BET ComicView at about age 70, visit

Homeowners Gravitate to Custom Roof Color Blends PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kathy Ziprik   
Monday, 27 February 2012 14:29

KANSAS CITY, KS – In a world filled with “make-your-own” opportunities for everything from ice cream concoctions to custom-creations for morning coffee, people are now embracing the idea of personalizing their roof with custom color blends.

Research at DaVinci Roofscapes®, the color leader in the polymer roofing industry, shows a dramatic increase in the amount of custom blend roofing color combinations ordered in 2011 over 2010. While all product lines saw advancement in color combination requests, the company’s Bellaforté product line saw the most substantial increase as requests for custom color blends rose from four percent in 2010 to 38.7 percent of its sales in 2011.

“One large order for a Bellaforté roofing project in Bali involving a custom blend of Light Clay, Medium Terracotta and Dark Terracotta which significantly increased these numbers, but we’ve seen strong sales growth within the past year in virtually all of our color blend options,” says Ray Rosewall, CEO and president of DaVinci Roofscapes. “Once we added in our eight new colors and eight additional color blend options in early 2011 we saw color selections start to skyrocket.”

Rosewall feels that people are gaining confidence in adding colors to their roofs to reflect their personalities and accent the entire home structure. “Homeowners are breaking away from the traditional monochromatic blacks and grays on a roof by adding in accent colors and varied shades of colors,” says Rosewall. “It’s a matter of people becoming more educated on roofing color options and feeling more empowered to make personal design statements on their home’s exterior.”

DaVinci Roofscapes offers the largest roofing color selection in the industry with a total of 49 standard colors and 28 standard color blends. Custom color blends are virtually limitless, since people can create their own blends using any of the 49 available colors.

Colorful Roofs

In 2011, more than 30 percent DaVinci’s Valoré Slate products sales came from custom blends compared to just seven percent in 2010. The addition of new color blend options in 2011 of Castle Gray, Milano, Evergreen and Sabino accounted for more than 30 percent of the sales for the year of the product line.

“This comes down to DaVinci offering more colors in 2011 and people responding by embracing the color options,” says Rosewall. “We’ve seen escalating numbers in all our product lines this past year as people seek out and purchase more colorful roofing options.”

According to national color expert Kate Smith, DaVinci’s strategy of offering an abundance of roofing colors perfectly matches consumer’s current “color empowerment” mind frame. “My latest color trends report clearly shows that self expression through colors is a popular way for people to project their personalities,” says Smith, chief color maven at Sensational Color.

Smith, who authored the “FRESH Exterior Colors” guide for DaVinci in 2011, is not surprised by the growing number of people who are choosing to create their own custom color combinations for their roofs. “Today’s consumers --- especially those who grew up in front of a computer screen --- are not satisfied with the mundane in life. They embrace the idea of experimenting with color combinations and rely on the colors on their home’s exterior to express their sense of style.

“This doesn’t mean the combinations of colors they’re choosing are bright or outrageous. It simply means that these consumers want to have the ability to choose from a variety of color options or have a hand in customizing the final look of their home’s exterior.”

To assist homeowners and professionals with roofing color decisions, DaVinci offers its popular online DaVinci Color Studio. Located at, the free online site includes the “FRESH Home Exterior Colors: 5 Steps for Finding the Perfect Hues for Your Home” step-by-step downloadable guide, a Color Designer tool, an “Ask the Color Expert” section, a Color Studio FAQ and the DaVinci Masterpiece Gallery portfolio of home projects.

“Color From the Top Down” Sweepstakes

Consumers interested in creating their own dream roof color can participate in DaVinci’s “Color From the Top Down” online sweepstakes currently underway. To participate, Facebook users who “like” DaVinci Roofscapes on Facebook (located at, can access the sweepstakes.

Users can create their dream roof color combination and submit a form to enter their name in a drawing for two chances to win an Apple® iPad2®. Running from February 13, 2012 through April 30, 2012, the promotion allows people ages 18 and older to create and submit a dream roof color combination via DaVinci’s Facebook page.*

DaVinci Color Options

DaVinci offers the widest select of polymer roofing colors in the industry. Slate colors are available in Medium Terracotta, Dark Terracotta, Light Clay, Dark Clay, Light Gray, Medium Gray, Dark Gray, Light Green, Medium Green, Dark Green, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Medium Tan, Dark Tan, Light Purple, Dark Purple, Green Stone, Dark Stone, Slate Gray, Slate Black, Light Violet, Dark Violet and Dark Amber.

Shake colors are available in Light Chesapeake, Medium Light Chesapeake, Medium Chesapeake, Dark Chesapeake, Light Autumn, Medium Light Autumn, Medium Autumn, Dark Autumn, Light New Cedar, Medium Light New Cedar, Medium New Cedar, Medium Dark New Cedar, Dark New Cedar, Light Mountain, Medium Mountain, Dark Mountain, Light Tahoe, Medium Tahoe, Medium Dark Tahoe, Dark Tahoe, Light Weathered Gray, Medium Light Weathered Gray, Medium Weathered Gray, Medium Dark Weathered Gray and Dark Weathered Gray.

DaVinci Roofscapes has manufactured award-winning polymer slate and shake roofing since 1999. The roofing tiles are virtually maintenance free and far more cost effective than the natural product. DaVinci leads the industry in tile thickness, the tile width variety and the greatest selection of subtle earth-toned colors. Company products have a 50-year warranty and are 100 percent recyclable. DaVinci proudly makes its products in America and is a member of the National Association of Home Builders, the Cool Roof Rating Council and the U.S. Green Building Council. For additional information call 1-800-328-4624 or visit


Braley Visits African American Museum in Cedar Rapids to Celebrate Black History PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 24 February 2012 15:24

Braley presents museum with several documents relating to black Iowa’s history

Cedar Rapids, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today traveled to the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids to celebrate the rich history of African Americans in Iowa.  February is Black History Month.

“African Americans have left an indelible mark on the history of Iowa, and I’m proud to commemorate their legacy,” Braley said.  “From the Iowa Supreme Court decision in 1839 outlawing slavery – 26 years before the end of the Civil War – to the integration of Iowa universities in the 1940’s to LaMetta Wynne’s election as Iowa’s first black mayor in Clinton, black Iowans’ struggles and milestones continue to this day and deserve celebration.  Black history is truly American history.”


Braley presented the museum with a copy of the book, Black Americans in Congress: 1870 – 2007. Braley also presented the museum with poetry written by Dr. Robert M. Carney, his family doctor in Brooklyn, Iowa, and one of the first African-American doctors to practice in rural Iowa.  Finally, Braley also presented an article from Sports Illustrated called “Invisible Men,” which documents the career of Joe Lillard, an early NFL star from Mason City, Iowa, who was known as the “Midnight Express” at a time when NFL owners imposed a “gentlemen’s agreement” to prevent African-Americans from playing professional football.  Lillard and other black players fought to play.


The African American Museum of Iowa was founded in 1994 by members of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids in celebration of Black History Month.  Construction on the museum’s permanent home began in 2002, which opened in 2003.

# # #

National Survey Reveals Genders DRASTICALLY Clash Over How They Would Spend More Free Time PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Emily Reass   
Friday, 24 February 2012 15:09
Men head to the bedroom for fun, women for sleep!

(February 22, 2011) – The bedroom is the first place both men and women would go if they had more free time in a day. The catch - men go there for sex, women for sleep!

In a survey, Great Clips, the first ever hair salon brand to introduce time saving online check-in, asked 316 Americans how they would spend 15 minutes of more time in a day. (15 minutes is important to Great Clips because Online Check-in has trimmed average haircut wait times by 15 minutes to five minutes or less, giving customers 15 more minutes of time in a day.)

1. Survey recipients were given a list of options and asked to choose what they would do with 15 minutes of extra time in a day.

THE #1 CHOICE FOR MOST WOMEN IS SLEEP (Ranked #1 by nearly 1 in 4 women, 24%)

  • Most Often Ranked in The Top 5 were Sleep, Clean (organizing closets, dust baseboards, mop floors), Read, Watch TV and Exercise.
  • Have Sex was lower on the list after Sit There and Do Nothing with No Disturbances and Cook.

THE #1 CHOICE FOR MOST MEN IS HAVE SEX (Ranked #1 by 28% of men)

  • Most Often Ranked in the Top 5 were Have Sex, Sleep, Listen to Music, Exercise, Sit There and Do Nothing with No Disturbances

2. When survey recipients were given a list and asked to rank the 3 most annoying time wasters of their spouses/significant others:


  • Most often Ranked as the Top Choice is Play Video Games, Work Too Much and Do Nothing (Tie) and Zone in front of the TV


•    Most often Ranked as the Top Choice is Primp and Get Ready, Complain/Whine/Stress, and Stare at a Closet Full of Clothes and Whine “I have nothing to wear.”

3. When Both Men and Women were asked to rank the Most Annoying Time Waster in Your Own Life?

Most often ranked as the Top Choices:
#1) Being Placed on Hold
#2) Waiting In Line
#3) Traffic

4. When both men and women were asked What Do You Want More of? and asked to pick one from Time, Money, Sleep, Exercise and Sex:

Respondents Chose:
#1) Money (70%)
#2) Time (13%)
#3) Sleep (9%)
#4) Exercise (8%)
#5) Sex (0%)

“In all our research, in focus group after focus group, we heard that today’s busy families are stressed out, exhausted and short on time – and today time is money,” says Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips. “We had to figure out a way to cut wait times and give our customers more free time to have fun and do the things they love to do. Online check-in allows people to check in from their desks or from their smart phones so when they get to the salon they have little or no wait and have more time.”

Other survey findings:

  • 87% of respondents say they would use a technology that kept them from waiting in lines at retail stores if it saved them 15 minutes waiting for an appointment.
  • When a retail business makes them wait more than 15 minutes:
  • 63% say it shows bad customer service and a lack of respect for their time
  • 52% of respondents say they don’t go back and take their business elsewhere
  • 48% say they assume the business is poorly managed
  • Only 19% say they get annoyed with the people in line with them.
  • 9 out of 10 respondents (93%) said a reasonable amount of time to wait at a retail business is 5 – 10 minutes or less.
  • 2 out of 3 respondents say they would use a check-in or download app that saved their place in line at a retail business.


Use Tax Season to Organize for the Future PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 24 February 2012 14:46
Financial Planner Shares Tips for a 21st-Century Filing System

Jane was not looking forward to going through her parents’ belongings to get their house ready to sell. Their health had been failing for some time and they finally agreed to move to a retirement community. Now that they were both comfortably moved into their new apartment, it was up to Jane to get rid of the things they no longer needed.

Her parents had lived in the same house for more than 50 years, so Jane expected to find things that should have been tossed out years ago.  But she was amazed to discover 50 years of tax returns and bank statements carefully stored in boxes in the attic. Her parents had saved all their financial records!

Many people are confused about what records they need to keep and for how long. They hold onto tax returns, bank records, brokerage statements and other financial information simply because they don’t know if they’ll need it again. Like Jane’s parents, the documents get packed in boxes that eventually take over valuable living or storage space.

Financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning (, says tax time is a great time to get organized.

“Most people are going through their records to get ready to file their return,” he says. “This is the time to get smart about what you need to keep and then set up a system to store it efficiently going forward.”

Rodgers suggests these five steps to help you effectively organize your finances for 2012 and beyond:

1. Out with the old – Discard the records you no longer need: Tax returns older than seven years; bank records and credit card statements that are not related to the tax returns you’re keeping; brokerage statements that aren’t related to purchases of current holdings. Be sure to shred all your old documents before throwing them out.

2. Go digital – Convert the documents you plan to save into digital images that are stored on your hard drive. Invest in a good scanner and scan as you go through your paperwork, shredding and tossing the hard copies as you go. On your computer, file by tax year, so your 2011 folder will contain your tax return for 2011 and all pertinent bank records and receipts. Organize the previous six years the same way. Next year you can delete the oldest folder when you add the 2012 folder.

3. Save a forest – All of the financial institutions you deal with would prefer to send your statements electronically. Stop receiving paper statements. Instead, download your statements electronically and store them in your new filing system.  Most banks and credit card companies keep at least a year’s worth of statements available.  You need to download these files only once a year to complete the year’s file.

4. Save backups in case of emergency – Make backup copies of your files on a CD. Choose a CD-R (recordable) as opposed to a CD-RW (rewriteable), because CD-R cannot accidentally be overwritten. Depending on your computer operating system, you may be able to continue adding data to a CD-R each year, until the CD is full. However, some operating systems won’t allow that, so you’ll need a new CD for each year.

5. Go paperless – Your new electronic filing system can be expanded to include all your financial records, from car maintenance receipts to pay stubs.  Wills and insurance policies can also be scanned and stored but, of course, keep the originals of those in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe.

Gone are the days of saving your financial documents in box and shoving it into the attic.  Technology advances have made organizing your personal finances easier with minimal cost.  Make 2012 the year you get organized by moving your finances into a 21st century filing system.

About Rick Rodgers

Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates, “The Retirement Specialists,” in Lancaster, Pa. He’s a Certified Retirement Counselor and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers. Rodgers has been featured on national radio and TV shows, including “FOX Business News” and “The 700 Club,” and is available to speak at conferences and corporate events (

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