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Friday Facts: Government Information You Can Use

This Week's Facts:

  1. State Parks Close Four Days for Controlled Deer Reduction

  2. Online Resources Provide Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy

  3. USA.gov Offers Advice When Shopping for Home Mortgage

  4. CDC Shares Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

USAID

USAID Outlines Ways to Help Haiyan Victims

To help victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), please see the USAID webpage, How You Can Help. A pdf file of the latest fact sheet with updates and developments about relief activities can be found here.


CDC Shares Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

Thanksgiving approaches, many of us anticipate a gathering of family or friends for the holiday. How do we keep them safe? Here are a few websites that provide planning and safety tips for food preparation. In addition to an entire website devoted to infectious diseases passed through food called FoodNet, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide a Turkey Time feature with specifics about the temperatures and times at which the bird should be properly thawed, prepped, stuffed, and cooked. The Fort Stewart Army Base in Georgia has a good one-page pdf for Thanksgiving Safety, including avoiding kitchen fires. If you are thinking of deep-frying your turkey, do it outside, and take a look at these Five Safety Tips for Deep Frying Turkey. Lastly, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln has a terrific Cook it Quick! website which summarizes the steps to a successful Turkey Dinner with a wealth of helpful, updated links from all over the web.


Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Kim Brown-Harden
Federal Documents Coordinator

Andrea Glenn
State Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program


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State Parks Close Four Days for Controlled Deer Reduction

DNR: Controlled Dear ReductionsIn a November 4 press release, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced that select Indiana state parks will close temporarily to allow for controlled deer reductions on Nov. 18 and 19, and Dec. 2 and 3.

The state parks affected are Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe, Turkey Run, Versailles, and Whitewater Memorial. These state parks will close to the general public the evening before each of the two efforts and reopen the morning after each two-day reduction.

Participants in some of the hunts applied by lottery drawing last year. Others will be able to enter standby drawings at select locations each day. For details about which properties allow archery versus firearms hunts, see the full press release.

DNR biologists evaluate which parks require a reduction each year based on habitat recovery and previous harvest rates at each park. The state parks are home to more than 32 state-endangered plants and numerous significant natural communities. The reductions help control browsing by deer to a level that helps maintain habitat throughout the state parks for all plants and animals. Indiana’s controlled deer reduction hunts were first held in 1993. For a historical overview and current issues with Indiana’s deer population, see this article from the Indiana Woodland Steward.  A report on the 2012 reductions can be found here.

Information on 2014 state park deer reductions, including online applications, will be available next summer at DNR.IN.gov/fishwild. The application deadline is usually the end of August.

Online Resources Provide Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy

Kids.gov: Health ResourcesKeeping your kids healthy is one of your top priorities as a parent, but it’s not always an easy task. Between staying on top of their normal checkups and trying to get them to wash their hands before dinner, there are a lot of things that could slip through the cracks. Use these tips from we rounded up from across the government to make managing your kids’ health a little easier.

Stay up-to-date with your children’s immunizations and developmental milestones with an easy tracking chart you can download for free from Publications.USA.gov. It reminds you of all the necessary immunizations from infancy through age six. It also highlights developmental milestones—like recognizing a caregiver’s voice and learning to talk—that you can monitor as your children grow up.

If you’re struggling to pay for health insurance for your kids, they may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP offers free or low-cost medical coverage for kids up to 19 years old. Coverage for eligible children includes checkups, hospital visits, dental coverage, immunizations and more. Find out if they’re eligible at InsureKidsNow.gov/chip.

Sometimes your kids don’t want to listen to mom or dad, but you want them to get information from a trusted source. Point them to the health resources on Kids.gov, where they can learn about everything from keeping their eyes safe to understanding germs and where they can play fun games that drive home the importance of brushing their teeth or getting their shots.

Find more free guides on managing your children’s health from infant to teen at  Publications.USA.gov.

This information is courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration via the USA.gov blog.

USA.gov Offers Advice When Shopping for Home Mortgage

USA.gov: Mortgage ShoppingWhen shopping for a home mortgage make sure you obtain all the relevant information:

  • Research current interest rates. Check the real estate section of your local newspaper, use the Internet, or call at least six lenders for information.
  • Check the rates for 30-year, 20-year and 15-year mortgages. You may be able to save thousands of dollars in interest charges by getting the shortest-term mortgage you can afford.
  • Ask for details on the same loan amount, loan term, and type of loan from multiple lenders so that you can compare the information. Be sure to get the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which takes into account not only the interest rate but also points, broker fees, and other credit charges expressed as a yearly rate.
  • Ask whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. The interest rate on adjustable rate mortgage loans (ARMs) can vary a great deal over the lifetime of the mortgage. An increase of several percentage points might raise payments by hundreds of dollars per month.If a loan has an adjustable rate, ask when and how the rate and loan payment could change.
  • Find out how much down payment is required. Some lenders require 20% of the home's purchase price as a down payment. But many lenders now offer loans that require less. In these cases, you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender if you fall behind on payments.
  • If PMI is required, ask what the total cost of the insurance will be. How much will the monthly mortgage payment be when the PMI premium is added and how long you will be required to carry PMI?
  • Ask if you can pay off the loan early and if there is a penalty for doing so.

There is a long list of sources for mortgages loans: mortgage banks, mortgage brokers, banks, thrifts and credit unions, home builders, real estate agencies and Internet lenders.

Tips for Working with Lenders

  • Get recommendations: Ask friends and family members for suggestions, especially if they've recently obtained a loan.
  • Check credentials: Mortgage bankers are regulated by either your state's department of banking or division of real estate. Check with the one appropriate to your state to see if a lender is in good professional standing. Mortgage brokers may be state regulated or not. If not, check with the local chapter of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers or the Better Business Bureau to see if their record is clean.
  • Do your homework: Learn about typical mortgages and ask questions when something looks amiss; a broker may be trying to pad closing costs or other fees at your expense.
  • Take care online: There are plenty of attractive deals online, but first make sure you're dealing with a reliable broker or lender.

If you're working with a broker, the National Consumer Law Center recommends you demand to know how much the broker is making from the lender as well as from any fees you might be paying. It's best to get this information upfront and in writing. Avoid a broker who is double-dipping-getting a fat premium from the lender, as well as fees from you.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) requires lenders to give you information on all closing costs and escrow account practices. Any business relationships between the lender and closing service providers or other parties to the transaction must also be disclosed. Many of the fees are negotiable. More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For more information on home buying and mortgages, visit Fannie Mae's website or call 202-752-7000.

This information is courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration via the USA.gov blog.

More Indiana-specific resources:

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