Monday, July 26, 2010

St. Charles County Calendar of Events

Sunday, August 8
Peach Festival
Pere Marquette State Park
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
It’s time for peaches. This annual festival features crafts, food, children’s games, a balloon artist, face painting, a pie eating contest, the largest peach contest, peach drinks and lots of peaches. Take the ferries back to St. Charles County and look for even more peaches.
Free

Tuesday, August 10
Statehood Day Celebration and Concert
First Missouri State Capitol Historic Site
200 S. Main
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
7 p.m. Concert
Missouri became the 24th state on August 10, 1821. Statehood Day celebrates the anniversary with special demonstrations, interpreters in period dress and an open house. The After Hours Community Band will give a concert at 7 p.m. in the backyard of the Capitol. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic basket supper. For more info, call 636-940-3322.

Wednesday, August 11
Perseid Meteor Shower
Broemmelsiek Park, Astronomy area
St. Charles County Parks Department
8:30 p.m.
For more than 2,000 years, the Perseid Meteor Showers have been viewed. See this yearly phenomenon and bring blankets and chairs for comfortable views of the active night sky. Telescopes will be offered to view Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. For more info, call the park at 636-949-7535 or visit stccparks.org.
Free

Friday, August 18-Sunday, August 20
Festival of the Little Hills
Frontier Park and Main St.
Friday, 4-10 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
The largest festival of the season features more than 300 crafters and artists from 30 states, demonstrations, live music, street performers and magicians. The kid’s corner offers face painting, arts and crafts. Shuttle service is available. For more info, check the Festival website.

Friday, August 27
Fridays @ Frontier
Frontier Park
5-11 p.m.
Happy hour from 5- 7p.m. and That 80s Band will entertain concert goers at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the St. Charles Jaycees, the evening is Rally For America Night and all proceeds will be donated to the USO.

Friday, August 28-Sunday, August 30
Wabash Days Festival
Allen and Main St.
Wentzville
Friday, 5-11 p.m.; Saturday, noon-11 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.
The city has been a railroad town for more than 150 years, and the Wabash Festival celebrates that heritage. New this year is a parade at noon on Saturday and the Wentzville Historical Society will again display a railroad caboose. The three-day celebration also features carnival rides, craft booths, live music and food. A 5k/1 mile fun run, Pound the Pavements for the Parks, is set for Saturday in downtown Wentzville. For more info, go to the City of Wentzville website.

Monday, July 19, 2010

O’Fallon, St. Peters are recognized in Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live among small U.S. cities.

Both cities are praised for affordable housing, and as great places to raise families.

Our hearty congratulations go out to O’Fallon and St. Peters for being recognized in Money Magazine’s Best Places to Live 2010! Communities in St. Charles County routinely appear on many “Best of…” lists and this time O’Fallon checked in at 26 and St. Peters took the 60th spot.

O’Fallon was noted as home to several corporate offices, including MasterCard, which helped keep the unemployment rate under the national average. Also highlighted is O’Fallon’s 400 acres of parkland, affordable homes at a median sale price of $172,250, low crime, plenty of restaurants and nearby cultural attractions.

Celebrating its centennial year, St. Peters was ranked in the top 100 as a small city “…older and more established than some of its neighbors. That gives the place character and makes many houses more affordable.” St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano is especially pleased with the designation during the Centennial because “we’ve talked about how we owe a lot to our history and the great planning that took place through the years.”

The survey, in the August 2010 issue, considered small cities within the 50,000-300,000 population range. Locally, St. Charles, St. Louis and Florissant were noted in the unranked contenders. Eden Prairie, MN, topped the list. The survey focused on small cities that offered jobs, good schools, safe streets, low crime and lots of activities that benefit raising a family.

Keeping a financial even keel is essential to purchase a home these days

Pay off your credit cards on time and in full, skip the new car or the new furniture. Banks and mortgage companies want to see financial stability with no big changes.

Anxious to close on the house? Sometimes the waiting period between finding your perfect place and driving up to your new home with keys in hand can be nerve wracking. You’ll want to be seen in the best light possible, so don’t get ahead of yourself.

Most likely you’ll need a mortgage and you want to be financially stable. When you begin your search, get copies of your credit report to make sure it is clean. If you find any errors, fix them.

Making large purchases in anticipation of buying a house, like new furniture, is not a good idea. That can affect your credit rating. The same goes for taking out another loan, buying a car or funding an education. Keep your credit situation as-is for right now.

Any changes to your credit status can make a difference for mortgage approval. Pay all your credit cards before the due date to make sure they are processed on time and don’t increase your credit balance. A mortgage pre-approval doesn’t make it a done deal.

Wait on any large purchases. For instance, no new car, or a new loan, or even new furniture for your home. Keep your credit situation as-is for now. Also, don’t co-sign a loan because that will add credit liability and could very well eliminate your chances of obtaining a mortgage.

Moving large sums of money is not a good idea. Don’t jump the gun and take money from savings to checking in anticipation of closing. Last minute credit and bank checks will generate inquiries about the shift and could slow down the process.

And if you leave the money in the savings account you won’t be tempted to spend it. Funds designated for closing should be left alone in the event of unexpected house-related costs. After all is said and done, you may have a bit left over but spending that won’t affect your closing.

Keep copies of all your paperwork in one place and have it ready in case someone in the process loses a crucial document. By keeping copies, you’ll be able to provide information quickly, getting you that much closer to your new home.

The time leading up to buying a house is all about financial restraint. Right now banks and mortgage companies are taking very close looks at their clients and you want to show you are a good candidate. After the closing, celebrate!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ceiling fans make life more comfortable year round

Cooling in the summer, warming in the winter, ceiling fans sweep away energy costs

The July sizzle is in the air, a blanket of humidity has descended over the metro area and air conditioners are working overtime. One inexpensive solution to help the AC is adding ceiling fans to your home. If you choose an Energy Star fan, you’ll not only increase your comfort level but also decrease your utility bill, sometimes as much as 15 percent. Fan design has improved so much over the years that there’s a fan for any d├ęcor, from the traditional Tiffany glass and dark wood models to ultra modern one-blade fans. Prices are also reasonable in relationship to the ultimate cost savings and comfort.

Don’t think of ceiling fans as just a summertime thing–in the winter fans with reversible blades circulate the hotter air that rises to the ceiling, helping to lower your heating bills too.

Before you rush out to buy a fan, do some homework first and determine the square footage. Measure the length and width of your room and multiple the numbers. That’s the square footage. Keep in mind the style of the room, and decide if you want a light kit and remote controls.

According to the American Lighting Association, choosing a fan that fits your room size gives you the maximum efficiency. In a room up to 75 square feet, like a bathroom, a 29-36 inch fan is appropriate. Medium sized rooms up to 144 square feet can handle ceiling fans from 36-42 inches. For larger bedrooms and family rooms in the 225 square foot range, the most efficient fans are 50-54 inches. The number of blades makes some difference in airflow, but whether to choose a four, five or six-blade fan is really a matter of personal design choice.

Ceiling fans do such an efficient job of circulating air when used correctly. Paul Vrabel of ICF International, an energy solutions firm, explains how to operate fans properly. “Put them on when you are in the room–during the day and when sleeping–and turn them off when you leave. Ceiling fans cool people, not the air. Using fans wisely and turning down the AC can save a lot of money.”

Monday, July 5, 2010

Senior homebuyers want simplification, good design, and smaller homes

Americans age 55+ are looking for homes close to family, work, and with a sense of style.

What does the 55+ crowd want in a home? Smaller, more energy-efficient homes in active, vital communities near work and family are the top requirements. Those are the findings from a study by MetLife and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) called “Housing for the 55+ Market: Trends and Insights on Boomers and Beyond.”

The study reveals that Boomers are looking for smaller, less expensive homes. This group isn’t ready to retire anytime soon, and with the Great Recession complicating things, they are staying in their jobs as long as possible to recoup financial losses.

The lure of “age-restricted” communities is there too, but only those that fit into the active lifestyle. These people aren’t ready for the rocking chair. The study notes that “those who moved from their existing homes did so primarily for reasons relating to their families, but the design and quality of the home, as well as the design and layout were the factors most often considered.”

Dave Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist agrees. “ A strong and growing number of retirees and empty-nesters are interested in either downsizing or moving to a more user-friendly home, especially if it’s near their existing community.”

Homebuilders are beginning to recognize what boomers want and incorporate that lifestyle in home design. In addition to a smaller home, a one level floor plan is preferable with open space and tall ceilings. Wider hallways are a plus, as is minimizing unnecessary staircases. Over 55ers want small luxuries, like double sinks and a soaking Jacuzzi-style tub, plus some space for hobbies.

Boomers, 38.9 million over the age of 65, are well-traveled, sophisticated consumers who have a good sense of what they want. And for housing, they want simplification that will enhance their lifestyles.

Written by Myra Vandersall