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Posted in General Information on October 8, 2015
The Missouri Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture have confirmed the Emerald Ash Borer is now in Kansas City. The Emerald Ash Borer originated from eastern Russia, northern China, Japan and Korea. Before June of 2002, it had never been found in North America. It is most likely that the beetle came to North America in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships, or for packing or crating heavy consumer products.
The Emerald Ash Borer quarantine was recently expanded to include the entire state and, as a result, leaf and brush may now be dropped off at any of the City’s disposal centers. In North America, the Emerald Ash Borer has only been found in ash trees. All species of ash in North America are at risk.
How do I know if I have an ash tree?
An ash tree has an opposite branching pattern (two branches come off the main stem, one on each side and directly opposite each other). Plus, ash trees have compound leaves with five-11 leaflets (depending on the species of ash). Look at the picture to get a better idea of what ash tree leaves look like.
What Does the Emerald Ash Borer look like?
The adult beetle is dark metallic green in color, ½ inch long and 1/8 inch wide. The insect has been found in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Canada.
Is there anything I can do now to protect the ash trees in my yard?
Keeping trees healthy by proper pruning, mulching, watering helps them resist insect attack. Avoid bringing firewood from other areas as this may also bring unwanted tree pests. Closely monitor trees for signs of infestation.
Are there symptoms I should look for?
If your ash tree has sparse foliage and/or dying branches in the upper part of the tree; or increased woodpecker activity on the tree, these are indicators of Emerald Ash Borers. However, these may also be symptoms the tree is stressed by other insects, disease, weather or other factors. Those symptoms outlined above by themselves do not mean the problem is Emerald Ash Borer. Consult a certified arborist or forester to confirm the presence of Emerald Ash Borers.
This post relied heavily on content from the KC Parks website, which we’ve obtained permission to use. For more information about the Emerald Ash Borer problem, please visit the dedicated page they have on their site.
Posted in General Information on October 1, 2015
On October 1st, signups for Google Fiber opened for West Johnson County. For your neighborhood to qualify, you must have at least 100 people sign up and pay a $10 deposit to lock in their place for installation. It’s an exciting opportunity to get Gigabit Internet and 150 HD TV channels.
Basic internet is free for 7 years if you pay a one time fee of $300.
Gigabit internet is $70/month and the $300 install fee is waived.
Gigabit internet and 150 HD TV channels is $130/month and the $300 install fee is waived.
See if your address is eligible
Click here to go to the Google Fiber website and type in your address to see if you are eligible to sign up.
What is Gigabit?
Some people don’t understand what Gigabit speeds are like. If you get your internet connection from a local service provider like Consolidated Communications, Time Warner, or AT&T U-Verse, you are probably getting download speeds in the 30-100 Megabyte range. Google Fiber is basically 10-20 times faster. (Technically, one Gigabyte is 1,024 Megabytes)
It’s been interesting to watch how quickly people are signing up for the Google Fiber service. A few hours after signups had opened, some of the neighborhoods already had 30-40 of their required 100 signups spoken for. And there were 49 days left to reach the 100 signup goal for a neighborhood to actually get Google Fiber.
It’s a big deal for Kansas City
Google Fiber continues to be installed across the Kansas City metro. It’s a big deal for our city and other cities are jealous that they don’t have it yet. Google Fiber is only available in 3 cities in the United States, but more are scheduled.
Click here for a map of the United States and Google Fiber expansion plans.
Posted in How To on September 17, 2015
Molds are a natural part of our environment. Outside, molds plays an important part in breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. That said, it’s a problem if mold grows inside your home.
The best way to stop mold is by depriving the water source it needs to grow.
Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through the air. Mold may begin growing indoors when these spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Common Places to Find Mold
- Basements or cellars that have been flooded or have standing water
- Underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks
- Around air-conditioning units
- Around windows that leak
Mold Prevention Tips
- If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then, most likely, the mold problem will come back.
- Act quickly when water leaks or spills occur indoors. If wet or damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
- Make sure your gutters are in good repair and free of blockage. If you are a renter with Home Rental Services and your gutters need to be cleaned, please submit a maintenance request.
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes, dry the wet surface and determine where the water is coming from.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering.
Posted in General Information on August 25, 2015
Every year, we take our staff to a Royals game as a team building event. It’s always a great time, and the game against the Baltimore Orioles on 8/24/15 was no exception.
In the first few innings, the Orioles looked strong and had the lead. The score was 3-1 going into the 6th inning. But that’s when then the Royals blew open the doors. They ended up scoring 7 runs in the 6th inning making the score 8-3.
It’s hard to describe the volume levels that we experienced in the stadium during the 6th inning.
Imagine yourself standing behind a 747 that suddenly hits full thrust on the engines. That might be close to how it felt when the crowd went wild. It was amazing and exhilarating. High fives between perfect strangers.
Here’s a quote from ESPN that tells how the 6th inning went:
Mike Moustakas hit a tying, two-run homer, and Omar Infante added a two-run triple moments later, scampering home when the throw to third base skittered away. Lorenzo Cain drove in two more, spoiling what had been a promising start by Ubaldo Jimenez.
We loved going to an exciting Royals game and getting to spend some time with each other outside of work!
Posted in General Information on August 11, 2015
At our staff meeting this morning, we talked about a Harvard study:
Mindset Matters – Exercise and the Placebo Effect.
We talked about the idea that what you believe can affect your reality. Think positively and good things happen. Think negatively…
You might have heard of the book The Secret that suggests having a positive attitude can create life changing results. The Harvard study is the first we’ve heard of someone trying to validate the concept scientifically.
At the start of our Tuesday meetings, we share Good News. This is one of the ways we try to get our brains working in a positive direction. Today’s conversation was a good reminder that our thoughts and beliefs have real power in our personal and professional lives.
The research study was conducted with 84 room attendants working in seven different hotels to measure how their mind set could affect their health.
A portion of the cleaning staff was told that the work they do is good exercise and meets the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. The other portion of the cleaning staff was not told this information. The room attendants were studied. It’s important to know that their behavior didn’t change even though they had been told their daily work qualified as leading a healthy lifestyle.
When interviewed after four weeks had passed, the informed group felt like they were getting more exercise than before. And the result, compared with the control group, is that they lost weight, had lower blood pressure, less body fat and a smaller waist-to-hip ratio than before.
Posted in General Information on August 4, 2015
We love service dogs! Occasionally we have a renter who has a service animal. Our staff sits through regular training on how to properly interact with and respond to service animals. It is important to help these great animals help their handlers!
Did you know that this week (August 2-8) is International Assistance Dog week (IADW)?
International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations. Assistance dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family.
The goals of IADW:
- Recognize and honor assistance dogs
- Raise awareness and educate the public about assistance dogs
- Honor puppy raisers and trainers
- Recognize heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs in our communities
International Assistance Dog Week was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic for over 35 years. Davis is the author of Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook, a resource book that captures personal stories, checklists and practical tips to provide the reader with an A-Z guide about service dogs. As a member of a service dog team, she founded Working Like Dogs to honor assistance dogs around the world and is sponsoring International Assistance Dog Week.
For more information about assistance dogs, please visit:
Assistance Dogs International
ADI is a coalition of not for profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs.
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
IAADP is a non-profit, cross-disability organization representing people partnered with guide, hearing and service dogs.
Working Like Dogs
WLD is a resource for people with working and service dogs, or who would just like to learn more about them.
Posted in General Information on July 21, 2015
We meet as a team every week to connect and work on our business processes. In our meeting this morning, the conversation turned to a recent story about two adults leaving a baby in a locked car in Merriam, Kansas. (Click here for coverage from ABC News) It’s a terrifying story that makes you wonder how in the world anyone could actually do something like that. (The child was rescued by bystanders who took action!)
Did you know?
Since 1998, the average number of child vehicular heatstroke deaths every year is 38. (See the study here, the data is current as of July 18, 2015)
Media reports about the 637 child vehicular heatstroke deaths from 1998-2014 yielded the following statistics:
53% – Child forgotten by caregiver (parent, babysitter, etc.)
29% – Child playing in an unattended vehicle
17% – Child intentionally left in vehicle by an adult
1% – Circumstances unknown
What would you do?
We asked our team, “what would you do if you found a baby or child locked in a hot car?” The responses were varied, but all focused on making sure the child was safe, no matter what had to be done. Here’s a great article that talks about what to do if you find a child locked in a hot car.
Did you know there are automotive safety hammers that are made specifically for this situation? Many models have integrated seat belt cutters, usually built into the handle of the safety hammer.
Get a safety hammer for your car!
Here’s a link to a highly rated safety hammer on Amazon.com called the ResQMe. You can buy two for $17.95 and get free shipping if your total order is more than $35. Many households have at least two cars. It might be a good idea to put a safety hammer in the glove box of all your vehicles.
Let us know what you think! Have you ever seen a child locked in a car and no parents around? Our hope is that this post will help you prepare yourself mentally to do the right thing in case you ever do.
Posted in General Information on July 14, 2015
So here we are in the middle of July. Friends, family and co-workers are taking vacation and going to fun and interesting places. It would be a shame to end a great trip by coming home to a nasty surprise… running water dripping through your ceiling. Can you imagine how shocking and a little scary that would be? We have people on our team that have experienced that first hand, and it is no fun at all.
All you have to do to make sure this doesn’t happen is turn off the main water supply to your home before you leave for an extended period of time.
Also, be sure to turn your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting or turn it down to a lower setting. That way, you won’t risk damage to your hot water heater if the water level gets low, and you will also save money by not having to keep the water as hot while you are away.
First, you have to find where the main water line comes into your home. Usually, this is located in the basement along an exterior wall and enters your house close to ground level. You will see a pipe coming in and either a round, turn-type shutoff or a straight, lever-type shutoff. (See the pictures below for examples of both types.) All you have to do is make sure either type is turned from the open position to the closed position, and you have shut off all water to your house.
Our friends at Sage Restoration shared with us recently the three most common types of water damage they see:
Be sure to avoid this potential problem at the end of a great vacation by turning off the main water supply to your house before you leave!
Posted in General Information on July 7, 2015
Moving property into a living trust or business (partnership, limited partnership, family limited partnership, LLC, or corporation) usually happens as part of an asset protection plan or an estate tax plan.
Deeding a property to a trust or business is a common practice. The problem we’ve seen is that people forget to review their insurance policies after making this kind of change.
It started with you purchasing insurance for your home.
When you buy a home, you also buy property and casualty insurance to protect your investment and liability. The policies are written with the legal names of the owners of the home.
What happens to the property and casualty insurance when property is moved into a trust or company?
When you deed a property to a trust or business, you are legally choosing to have the trust or business own the property.
A sobering example:
Let’s say Jane and John Doe buy a home and insure it under their names. Years later, they decide to set up a living trust called the “Doe Family Trust.” For estate planning purposes, they deed their home to the trust. But they forget to call their insurance broker to add the “Doe Family Trust” as an additional insured on their insurance.
Sadly, a fire destroys their home. They file a claim with their insurance carrier. One of the first things an insurance adjuster does is make sure the legal entity named in the insurance matches the legal entity that owns the property. In this situation, the Doe Family Trust owns the home, but the insurance is owned by Jane and John Doe. These are different legal entities and the insurance company can (and probably will) deny any claims.
Yikes! What Should I Do?
If you’re in this situation, we recommend you contact your attorney and your insurance broker to determine the best plan of action to make sure that you are properly insured.
It could be as easy as an email to your insurance broker asking them to list your trust or LLC as an additional insured. If they agree, they will mail you updated policies. It’s also possible that your broker will require you to switch your personal insurance to commercial insurance depending on the situation.
Regardless, we wanted to blog about this to make sure you were aware of the potential exposure you could have if you’ve deeded property to a trust or business but haven’t adjust your insurance policies as well!
Posted in General Information on June 30, 2015
Have you ever walked into your kitchen and found a bunch of ants on your counters? What about in your bathroom? If you’ve ever had an ant infestation, you know it isn’t any fun. Here are some great tips to avoid having this happen to you in the future!
How to Prevent Ant Infestation
- Store food items that attract ants, such as sugar, syrup, honey, and pet food in closed containers.
- Rinse out empty soft drink containers. Make sure you dispose of them in your recycle bin or trash in a timely manner.
- Thoroughly clean up grease or spills.
- Move garbage bags from your home to the larger collection containers outside or in your garage on a regular basis. Daily is ideal, but a few times a week is fine.
- Correct any plumbing leaks because moisture problems can attract ants.
- Eliminate wood-to-ground contact, such as where landscaping has pushed soil or mulch up against the wood siding of a home.
- Clip back tree limbs and vegetation touching the roof or siding of the house. Limbs and branches serve as bridges between tree limb nests and the structure of your home.
- Seal cracks and openings in the foundation, especially where utility pipes and wires enter from the outside.
- Stack firewood away from the foundation, and elevate it off the ground. Never store firewood in the garage or other areas of the home, as firewood is a major ant nesting area (and a fire hazard as well!).