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Bankruptcy Law 101

This is the article that no one hopes to need and we would prefer not to write.

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As of December 2007, bankruptcy filings are up 28% from last year and are expected to increase in 2008 due to the combined factors of high household debt and rising mortgage costs. American Bankruptcy Institute

This is the article that no one hopes to need and we would prefer not to write. The word 'bankruptcy' is weighed down by such doomsday words as failure, defeat, impoverishment...well, you're getting the depressing idea. However, it is not 'the end of the world' to declare bankruptcy. Instead of running away from this topic, it is time to demystify bankruptcy with a little 'Bankruptcy 101.'

What is bankruptcy?

For most people, bankruptcy is a way to get a fresh start after acquiring too much debt. Most individuals who file for bankruptcy will file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Depending on which is filed, one may get most of their debt erased or work out a workable solution with lenders to pay off existing debt.

Are bankruptcy laws determined by Federal or State government?

Bankruptcy laws are made by the Federal government. States can pass laws that protect the "lender and debtor relationship" but they cannot regulate how a bankruptcy is processed or if it is to be granted.

Can all debts be erased?

No. Whichever type of bankruptcy is filed, there are certain debts that cannot be erased at all. These include alimony, child support, most student loans and legal judgments against fraud or criminal negligence such as a drunk driving accident. Some taxes may be erased, but not all. In fact, taxes have their own set of bankruptcy rules.

Do I need a lawyer?

When filing for bankruptcy it is important to find a bankruptcy lawyer who can help you navigate the process. Bankruptcy lawyers specialize in this area of law and are familiar with the distinct differences and effects of the process; they can be your greatest ally in a tough, seemingly bureaucratic system.

How long will bankruptcy effect my credit?

Bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years. There are ways to improve your credit rating and make yourself more appealing to lenders. For more information on this, check out this useful website: www.lifeafterbankruptcy.com. It is not an easy road back and those filing for bankruptcy should have a realistic expectation to work hard at their future spending practices.

Do I have to do debt counseling?

Yes. Under the new bankruptcy act passed in October 2005, it is now required that all persons applying for bankruptcy meet with a government qualified debt counselor first. After one has successfully filed for bankruptcy, the debtor must again meet with a counselor before the bankruptcy file will be closed.

What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy? (In a nutshell)

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as a "liquidation of debt." A person can file for Chapter 7 every 8 years. This usually involves the liquidation of property to pay back debts. An appointed trustee sells all secured, non-exempt property for the debtor and distributes money raised among the lenders. Unsecured debts, such as credit card bills and most medical bills can be erased. This may mean the loss of secure debts such as a home. However, most states do have protections for debtors in place to insure they may keep life necessities such as clothing and some furniture. Retirement funds such as IRA's are also protected and debtors may keep these as well. After the changes to bankruptcy law in October 2005, many debtors may not get approved for Chapter 7 and be required instead to apply for Chapter 13. In short, if you still have an income and make more than the median for a household of your size in your state you may have to file for Chapter 13. To find out if you should be filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you can use a mean calculator like the one at legalconsumer.com. Again, this is where consulting a lawyer becomes very important.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? (In a nutshell)

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as a "reorganization of debt" or the "wage earners' plan." One can file for Chapter 13 more often as long as any previous filings are already closed. This is the bankruptcy for those trying to a find a way to get out of debt but still expect to pay off some of their debt. Generally speaking, if you still have a source of income and could make payments, just not the high ones you have now, you can be restructured into a debt payment plan under Chapter 13. This is the most likely to be used to try to stop a mortgage foreclosure. In this scenario, you can keep the house, car and more than you could under Chapter 7. There are limits to the amount of debt that can be restructured. If one is above those limits they would file under Chapter 11, however, the average American Joe/Jane is not in this category.

More Resources
US Department of Justice - US Trustee Program
www.usdoj.gov/ust/
A complete listing of approved credit counseling agencies is available through links on this Web page. [Listed by state.] www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm
A complete listing of approved providers of financial management instructional courses is available through links on this Web page. [Listed by state.] www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/de_approved.htm

American Bankruptcy Institute
www.abiworld.org
The American Bankruptcy Institute is the largest multi-disciplinary, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues.

Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-256

Bankruptcy Action
www.bankruptcyaction.com
The objective of this website is to provide the person, thinking about filing bankruptcy, the information he or she needs to make an informed decision.

Lawyers Listings
www.lawyerslistings.com/about.shtm
Our mission is to present to the Internet community an easy-to-use site in which to search for law firms and individual lawyers.

Life After Bankruptcy
www.lifeafterbankruptcy.com
On this website you'll discover everything I did to recover so quickly...and many other bankruptcy recovery and credit repair strategies you'll find nowhere else.

NOLO Bankruptcy Library
www.nolo.com
Nolo is your legal companion, empowering you and saving you money whenever the law touches your work, life or finances.

US Courts - Bankruptcy Basics
www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics.html 
Bankruptcy Basics provides basic information to debtors, creditors, court personnel, the media, and the general public on different aspects of the federal bankruptcy laws.

What can you do to prevent Bankruptcy?

  1. Continue to take care of essential bills first: mortgage/rent, taxes, child support, and utility bills.
  2. Eliminate frivolous expenditures. No more department store credit cards, cable TV, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, etc. Be honest about what you can live without with for a while. 
  3. If you own your home, consider a home equity loan to get rid of high rate debts such as credit cards.
  4. Watch your credit report. Close unused accounts, check for errors and resolve any questions with lenders immediately.
  5. Know the warning signs: -Are you using credit cards to pay off bills or credit cards? -Are you borrowing against unprotected debt? i.e. Are you borrowing from a credit card to pay the mortgage? When you see you are bouncing debt around and not making any headway, it is a good time to look at credit counseling.
  6. Warning about credit counseling: If you choose to do debt consolidation recognize that it will effect your credit score. Also, make sure you understand how the payments will work and if you can really make the payment - sometimes they are set too high!
  7. Avoid aggressive lenders. If you begin to get offers for loans that sound too good to be true - they are! There has been a big push to penalize aggressive lenders who only help people acquire more debt. However, they are still out there and you should be a careful shopper of any loans you take.

The Cleaner Home

Make your home environmentally green

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The old days of harsh bleach and chemicals used to clean around the house are slowly fading out. Along with this trend is a desire of many consumers to adopt more environmentally friendly products for their home. This can be anything from the new countertops and floors to the groceries bought at the local supermarket. In addition to what you bring in (and take out) of your home, the maintenance of your home can is a way to become more green. According to the energysavers.gov website, "Americans spend more than $160 billion a year to heat, cool, light, and live" in their homes. Everyone may not try every option or may find their budget does not allow for all of the products available. However, a few home improvements and informed purchases can not only save you money in the long run, but these changes can also provide a healthier home for your family and the planet. Initially, all the options to create a greener home can be overwhelming. But some tasks are good home maintenance and a few only need to be done once. The headings below is just one way to break down some of the improvements and updates you may make to your home which will effect its impact and performance. Did we say performance? You bet! Making sure your home is running efficiently and smoothly is the number one way to helping the environment! How efficient is your home? Making your home work efficiently to keep you warm, cool and provide you with creature comforts is the perfect way to help other creatures of the world. Taking time to keep your home updated will help reduce the amount of energy you need and ultimately be easier on your wallet as well. Lighting: You can cut electricity costs by taking advantage of natural lighting and choosing carefully the lighting you purchase. Natural light is a great way to improve your home's efficiency. Skylights and easy to open window treatments can help you better regulate where you get your light during the day. Windows facing north and south can offer a great source of natural light and heat. West and east windows will offer light but may produce too much glare as the sun rises and sets. Choose your artificial lights carefully. Selecting a few accent lights and then a concentrated task light for an activity such as reading is a better alternative to lighting up every square inch of the room with florescent bulbs! Using environmentally efficient light bulbs can help reduce energy costs. However, research the bulbs you buy. Some may not work as well for task lighting. Others may not work with your older lamps and you may be better buying a new lighting fixture at the same time. Keep your artificial lights working at their best. Even the simple task of keeping your lamp shades free of dust can improve the light quality in your home. Windows: The windows of your home can be a great ally. Getting the right type of window treatments can help regulate your home temperatures. Drapes: Drawn closed in the winter, these window treatments can help prevent heat from escaping by as much as 10%! Drapes can also help decrease heat coming into the home if closed against direct sunlight in the summer. Blinds or Shades: These can help reduce the amount of heat coming through the window because of direct sunlight. Dual shades can be very useful. Use the light side to help reflect and keep out the warming sun in the summer and the dark side can be used in the winter to draw in more heat. Shutters: Both exterior and interior shutters can be used to keep heat out in the summer. They do not work as well at keeping heat in during the winter. Another perk of having exterior shutters is that they can provide extra security for your home as well. Window Panel: Similar to a shutter, a window panel is a product that pops into the window frame and provides extra insulation in the winter. An inexpensive addition, this may be ideal for windows not used for their light in the winter. Screens: Although these don't really keep any heat in place, using screens on your windows allows for better cooling and airing of your home in the summer. Screens allow you to keep windows and doors open encouraging a natural movement of the air. Using open windows well in the morning and evening can drastically reduce your air conditioning bill. Thankfully this can be done without letting in all the bugs and critters! Awnings: Window awnings can help keep the house cooler in the summer by reducing the amount of heat that is adsorbed. Air Leaks: Get rid of air leaks! Insulation works to improve both the heating and cooling of your home. Check around your doors and windows first. Many leaks escape through these portals the most. Replace weather stripping and caulk where needed. Besides the doors and windows, also check for air leaks around vents, fans, phone and cable lines, and electrical lines. Depending on the materials used in your home, you may also need to check any brick, stucco or cement construction for needed repairs. Not sure if you have a leak? One option is to use an incense stick. The smoke will show any movement caused by air leaks. Another method is to have someone stand on the other side of the possible leak source while you shine a flashlight at the edges. If they can see the light on the other side then some updates should be made. Insulation: Updating or adding insulation to your home, especially an older one, can help reduce costs associated with heating and cooling your home. The attic, crawl space, basement, exterior walls and space around service ducts are the areas that will need the most attention or improvement. Reduce Water Usage: There are many ways to reduce your water consumption around the home. The hot water heater can be an energy hog. Try insulating it if it does not already have at least R-24 insulation. You can also lower the temperature of the water from 140°F to 120°F to save on cost. Make certain to fix any leaky pipes or faucets. Over time these will not only consume water but will also cause damage to the surrounding area. To get better use of water for your money, consider installing low-flow water faucets and showerheads. You may also consider a water (and energy) efficient clothes washer. What do you bring into your home? Whether building a new home or shopping for the weekly groceries, the products you choose to bring home have a great impact on the environment. Taking some time to consider your choices before you buy is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Renewable Construction: If building or remodeling a home, consider renewable sources for some of your construction needs. You do not have to use all or any of them, however, if you take the time to research some of these options, you may be surprised and find a good fit. Hardwood floors are great in that they keep allergies as bay and are easier on the environment then synthetic carpet manufacture. However, a renewable wood is key here. Renewable floors such as bamboo or cork are much easier to replenish. Another option that has gained in popularity is reclaimed wood. This product is taken from demolition sites - everything from an old house to an old gymnasium floor. Research the product's history as some sealants and paints used on the wood may be toxic. There are more renewable sources available. From recycled glass used as tile to recycled jeans used as insulation. Take a look at our links to the right for more information about these items and possible vendors in your area. Buy Local: There has been a lot of encouragement for consumers to buy local recently. Buying locally should help cut down on shipping and packaging costs. Doing so can also help local farmers and businesses. Not always the cheaper option, trying to purposely buy some items locally can help the economy and ultimately the environment. In fact, some believe buying groceries from local sources provides fresher produce that ultimately could be better for your health. Quality of Product: Being a savvy consumer who expects the best quality in their products is helpful to the environment as well as your pocketbook. Move away from cheaply made items; instead research your purchases and get ones that will perform well for a long time to come. Check Labels: On anything you buy, take time to check the labels and be aware of any impact it may have on your environment - including at home. Consider carefully your choice in chemicals used for cleaning. When working on home improvement projects consider the options you have for glues, paints and other possible hazardous materials. THERMOSTAT: Lower your thermostat by a few degrees. Get a controller where you can specify different temperatures for day and night. LIGHTS: Turn off incandescent lights when not in use. Turn off florescent lights if you will be gone for more than 15 minutes. Optimize your use of natural light with work or reading places near northern or southern windows away from eastern and western sun glare. ELECTRONICS: Turn off power strips if nothing on the strip is in use. Unplug unused electronics. COMPUTERS: Turn off your computer monitor if you will be gone for more than 20 minutes. Turn off both your computer and computer monitor if you will be gone for more than 2 hours. Use the sleep mode if your computer has one. ENERGY: Consider purchasing green energy from your power company such as solar power, wind power, biomass power, geothermal energy or hydropower. If your power company does not have one of these options available, you may still be able to invest in future programs. LAUNDRY: Wash your clothes in cold water when possible. Clothesline dry your laundry on sunny days. Shop for detergents that list which toxic chemicals are not in the product. A generic statement such as "non-toxic" may be gimmick so read the label carefully. GROCERIES: Shop locally. Use a cloth reusable bag for groceries. COOKING: Use cookware that cooks at lower temperatures such as cast iron or clay. Save your baking for cooler hours. DISHES: Only run the dishwasher when it is full. Run the dishwasher at night. GARDEN GREEN: Check out our article on environmentally green gardening. Or see our article about pet safe gardening.

Historical Homes

How to protect historical property.

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Historical landmarks throughout the country provide all citizens with a physical, present experience of our history. Through these landmarks you can not only observe but in many cases feel the original work and walk the spaces of the past. Historical homes help us remember important persons as we can view intimately how they lived; we get to see the most sacred of spaces, their internal sanctum, their home. Where did they read at night for inspiration, where did they write that novel, where did they meet the important guests and characters in their lives? All of these things we can glimpse through seeing history preserved in rock and mortar. Historical homes also allow us to visualize and experience architecture, culture, events and community history. They help tell the story of how our town and communities came to be and developed. This brief article will summarize how one protects a historical home. This will include how to register the home with the state and federal government. Also, we will look at incentives and resources aiding the owners in the task of preserving these properties. Additional links to state resources, historical homes for sale, historical home supplies and construction and spotlights of a few famous historical homes are also included. Even if you do not own a historical home, we welcome you to take a look into how these bits of our history are protected, preserved and continue to participate in and educate our communities.

Part I: Listing a Property as Historical

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (amended in 1992) provides guidelines for federal, state and local governments to work with non-profit organizations and the public to preserve our historical places. The preservation is handled through the National Park Service which administers the National Register for Historic Places. Historical places can be buildings, structures, sites and objects that speak for American history, architecture/engineering, and culture. This can be as varied as a historic home to an archaeological site. A few places that are considered to represent the nation on a whole may also be registered in the National Historic Landmarks program; however, this membership is harder to obtain (there are only 2,500 of these sites nationally). Our concentration will be on the large listing (79,000 sites and growing) of the National Register. 
So how does one determine if a site is historical? The National Register lists the following reasons for registering and protecting historical property:

The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:
A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

These four basic guidelines can encompass quite a bit of history. However, there are some limitations as well. Properties must be over 50 years old; to get a younger property registered an owner must prove "exceptional importance" such as might be recognized immediately for its reflection of an extraordinary political event or architectural innovation. Other limitations may include cemeteries, historical figures birthplaces and gravestones, religious structures, moved or reconstructed structures and commemorative structures. As with the 50 year rule there are exceptions for these limitations. In conclusion, if an individual or group feel a property meets the right criteria and should be registered they will need to nominate the property for review.

Any person or group may nominate properties for the National Register. Nominations, depending on the properties significance and location, are nominated through theState Historical Preservation Officer (SHPO), the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO)or the Tribal Preservation Officer (TPO). In most instances nominators will start with the SHPO for their state. The officer will then recommend the nominated property be reviewed by the state review board which consists of historians, architects, archaeologists and other professionals. The board then makes the recommendation to approve or disapprove the registration back to the SHPO. During the time the property is being reviewed, the public is notified the property may be registered. This may include the property owner, who may not have nominated the property themselves. If the owner at that time does not wish the property to be registered they can reject the proposal. The property will not appear on the national register, however, the nomination may be forwarded to the National Park Service only as a determination of eligibility in case a future owner would wish to have the property registered. Although the process varies from state to state, there is usually a minimum of 90 days to process. Once a recommendation is made to the National Park Service, the nominators will know the decision within 45 days. Once a property is registered the owner may expect some changes.

Owners of registered historical places may find both benefits and restrictions from state and federal programs. Surprisingly, on the federal level, once a home is registered owners may choose to change very little about their property:

Under Federal law, owners of private property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that there is no Federal involvement. Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so.

However, state and local preservation laws may be more restrictive of what property owners may do once a the property is registered (the SHPO will have further details about the restrictions in your state). Some properties will obtain Federal historic preservation grant funding or investment tax credits for rehabilitation. Participation in these Federal programs may include more restrictions. As for changes to a structure or site, drastic alterations or physically moving a property when not absolutely necessary may effect the property's status. If, for example, the remodeling of the structure is enough to destroy and remove its historical significance, the property may be removed from the registry. Finally, a property may be affected by recommendation of the Advisory Council on Historical Preservation's recommendations at the federal level. However, inclusively, federal, state and local governments want to work with historical property owners to entice them to preserve our history. Property owners should contact the SHPO for more specific answers about local and federal benefits and restrictions.

Registering a home on the National Register for Historical Places is a relatively straight forward process. Contacting SHPO (or FPO or TPO) is the first step in reviewing what changes to expect and what forms need to be completed. With a little patience and research a home can be registered and protected as a part of our history. Now that it is registered, let us examine what resources are available for the renovation and upkeep of these places.

Part II: Resources for Historical Properties

The restoration of historical homes can be both overwhelming and expensive. Obtaining expert advise from contractors, architects, and historians (to name a few) can be invaluable to the homeowner. Research may be necessary to understand how the home looked, was furnished and functioned in the past. Also, it may be necessary to update older systems of plumbing, wiring, and replace lead-based paint (again, to name only a few). To begin the renovation process the home owner will first consider where the funding will come from, what projects need to be done, and finally, what the ultimate function of the historical home will be. There are many grants and sources of funds to help ease the impact of these improvement costs.

The funds available to owners of historical properties vary both nationally and locally. Nationally the most common is the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive which entitles those qualified a 20% tax break. However, to obtain the credit the property does have to be used commercially for at least 5 years; usually as a rental or an apartment, in some cases use as an office may be sufficient. Local grants, loans and state tax incentives are not always available. To find what locally based programs there are contact your local government agencies such as the Historic Development Commission, Department of Planning and Economic Development, Housing and Redevelopment, and State Historic Preservation Office. When they are available the funds may come with certain restrictions or requirements. For example, some funds are only available to non-profit organizations or a grant may be offered that requires owners to share property with the public through tours or other educational outreach programs. Finally, involving family and community in the restoration project can help tremendously. Receiving help from the community may again mean opening up your home to educational programs or tours. However, when owning a historical home, sharing the history is part of the fun! So you have some money in your pocket; now you must decide what you want to restore first.

There may be many renovations needed for your historical home ranging from wiring to lead-paint removal. So overwhelming are the renovations at times that there is the tendency to over renovate homes. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has this top ten of Do's and Don'ts:

  • Make every effort to use the building for its original purpose.
  • Do not destroy distinctive original features.
  • Recognize all buildings as products of their own time.
  • Recognize and respect changes that have taken place over time.
  • Treat sensitively distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craft work.
  • Repair rather than replace worn architectural features when possible. When replacement is necessary, new material should match the old in design, composition, and color.
  • Clean facades using the gentlest methods possible. Avoid sandblasting and other damaging methods.
  • Protect and preserve affected archeological resources.
  • Compatible contemporary alterations are acceptable if they do not destroy significant historical or architectural fabric. Build new additions so they can be removed without impairing the underlying structure.

Once you have clarified the tasks that need to be done, hiring a contractor, plumber, architect or electrician (to name a few) will be an important step in the renovation of your historical home. Make sure to take time to interview and speak with several professionals to find one with the most experience and knowledge about historical homes. Again, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has compiled good short summaries about choosing professionals. When making any renovations to the historic home it is important to keep in mind the purpose of the house. The functions of a historical home can be varried. For some home owners they simply want to renovate and enjoy the historical building as their home. When making improvements, owners will be more concerned about updating creature comforts and creating an esthetic environment for their family. On the other hand, some will choose to live in the historic home but also dedicate rooms or floors as public museums. When making renovations for these homes a balance should be kept between updating the living space that will be used while keeping museum spaces closer to the feel and accuracy of the time they represent. Brand new faucets upstairs in the family bath are great but a stainless steel countertop in a 19th century room may look a bit out of place. Finally, others will live in the historic house but also rent out rooms for guests and small conferences. Historic homes can make an ideal bed and breakfast. This may create additional renovation challenges such as access ability and practical updates for the comfort of guests (i.e. adding and updating a bathroom or two). However, owners will want to keep in mind the historic atmosphere of the home. Visitors are drawn to historical B&Bs because of the sense of walking into the past. Keeping antiques relevant to the time or using period correct wall treatments (i.e. wallpaper patterns) are just a few ways to help keep the historic feel of the home. If creating a bed and breakfast out of a historical home is the goal, then reading about the B&B business will be helpful. Whatever the function of the historical home, the project should remain fun and rewarding.

The restoration of a historic homes can be expensive and daunting. However, it is also very rewarding, a wonderful chance for connecting to the past and community (and can be a great home too!). Whether your historic building will be a home, museum, B&B or all the above, having a game plan before starting renovations is a great idea. Make sure the plan protects the hisotry of the home so that the character and craftsmenship of the home is not lost in the renovation. Enlisting professionals and the community will help. In the end it really can be very rewarding!

Conclusion

A lot can be said for the structures a society builds. When looking at buildings from the past one can get a sense of style, comfort and culture from previous generations. A family and/or a community may learn more about where they came from. To preserve historical homes, individuals or communities need to take the time to submit the home to the National Register for Historical Places. Once this is done the home may still be used for varying purposes from a living space to a museum. In some cases funding is available to help in the daunting task of renovation. In the end historical homes are a tough investment that with a bit of research can turn in to a rewarding home and much more.

Resources by State 
Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | District of Columbia Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Alabama

State Historic Preservation Officer: Elizabeth Brown AL Historical Commission 468 South Perry Street Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0900 (334) 242-3184 Alabama Register Coordinator: Dorothy Walker - dwalker@preserveala.org National Register Coordinator: Christy Anderson - canderson@preserveala.org www.preserveala.org

Alaska

State Historic Preservation Officer: Judith E. Bittner - judyb@dnr.state.ak.us Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation 550 W 7th Avenue, Suite 1310 Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3565 (907) 269-8721 www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/oha/index.htm

Arizona

State Historic Preservation Officer: James W. Garrison - jgarrison@pr.state.az.us Office of Historic Preservation Arizona State Parks 1300 W. Washington Phoenix, Arizona 85007 (602) 542-4174 National Register Coordinator: Kathryn Leonard www.pr.state.az.us/partnerships/shpo/shpo.html

Arkansas

State Historic Preservation Officer: Cathie Matthews - cathiem@arkansasheritage.org Department of Arkansas Heritage 323 Center Street, Suite 1500 Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 (501) 324-9162 National Register Coordinator: Ralph Wilcox - ralph@arkansasheritage.org www.arkansaspreservation.org

California

State Historic Preservation Officer: Milford Wayne Donaldson - mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov Office of Historic Preservation Department of Parks and Recreation P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, California 94296-0001 (916) 653-9125 http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/

Colorado

tate Historic Preservation Officer: Georgianna Contiguglia Colorado History Museum 1300 Broadway Denver, Colorado 80203-2137 (303) 866-3395 Information: oahp@chs.state.co.us www.coloradohistory-oahp.org

Connecticut

State Historic Preservation Officer: John W. Shannahan Connecticut Historical Commission 59 South Prospect Street Hartford, Connecticut 06106 (860) 566-3005 Information: cthist@neca.com www.cultureandtourism.org (This website is being revised; check out the CT Trust for more information at www.cttrust.org)

Delaware

State Historic Preservation Officer: Timothy A. Slavin Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs 21 The Green, Suite B Dover, Delaware 19901 (302) 739-5313 www.state.de.us/shpo/default.shtml

District of Columbia

State Historic Preservation Officer: Lisa Burcham DC Office of Planning, Historic Pres. Division 801 North Capitol Street, N.E. 3rd Floor Washington, D.C. 20002 (202) 442-8850 http://planning.dc.gov/

Florida

Actg. State Historic Preservation Officer: Frederick Gaske - fgaske@mail.dos.state.fl.us Division of Historical Resources R.A. Gray Building 500 S. Bronough Street Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250 (850) 245-6300 www.flheritage.com

Georgia

tate Historic Preservation Officer: Ray Luce - ray_luce@dnr.state.ga.us Department of Natural Resources 156 Trinity Avenue, SW Suite 101 Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3600 (404) 651-5061 http://hpd.dnr.state.ga.us/

Hawaii

State Historic Preservation Officer: Peter T. Young Department of Land and Natural Resources 601 Kamokila Boulevard Room 555 Kapolei, Hawaii 96707 808-587-0401 www.hawaii.gov/dlnr

Idaho

State Historic Preservation Officer: Steve Guerber - steve.guerber@ishs.idaho.gov State Historic Preservation Office 210 Main Street Boise, Idaho 83702-7264 (208) 334-3890 www.idahohistory.net

Illinois

State Historic Preservation Officer: William L. Wheeler - Ted_Lild@ilpa.state.il.us Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Preservation Services Division One Old State Capitol Plaza Springfield, Illinois 62701-1512 (217) 785-9045 www.state.il.us/HPA/

Indiana

State Historic Preservation Officer: Jon Charles Smith- jsmith@dnr.in.gov Department of Natural Resources 402 W. Washington Street, Rm W274 Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 (317) 232-4020 Information: dhpa@dnr.state.in.us www.state.in.us/dnr/historic/

Iowa

Actg. State Historic Preservation Officer: Anita Walker - anita.walker@dca.state.ia.us State Historical Society of Iowa 600 East Locust Street Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0290 (515) 281-8741 www.iowahistory.org

Kansas

State Historic Preservation Officer: Jennie Chinn - jchinn@kshs.org Kansas State Historical Society Cultural Resources Division 6425 Southwest 6th Avenue Topeka, Kansas 66615-1099 (785) 272-8681 Information: histsoc@acc.wuacc.edu www.kshs.org

Kentucky

State Historic Preservation Officer: David Morgan - davidl.morgan@ky.gov Kentucky Heritage Council 300 Washington Street Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 (502) 564-7005 www.state.ky.us/agencies/khc/khchome.htm

Louisiana

Division of Historic Preservation Office of Cultural Development P.O. Box 44247 Baton Rouge, LA 70804 (225) 342-8160 National Register Coordinator: Donna Fricker National Register Section (1st time inquiries): Patricia Duncan www.louisianahp.org

Maine

Director: Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. - Earle.Shettleworth@Maine.gov 55 Capitol Street, State House Station 65 Augusta, Maine 04333-0065 (207) 287-2132 / Fax (207) 287-2335 www.state.me.us/mhpc/

Maryland

State Historic Preservation Officer: J. Rodney Little - RLittle@mdp.state.md.us Division of Historical and Cultural Programs 100 Community Place Crownsville, Maryland 21032-2023 (410) 514-7600 or 1-800-756-0119 www.marylandhistoricaltrust.net

Massachusetts

Secretary of the Commonwealth Massachusetts Historical Commission 220 Morrissey Boulevard Boston, MA 02125-3314 (617) 727-8470 www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/mhcidx.htm

Michigan

State Historic Preservation Officer: Brian D. Conway - conwaybd@michigan.gov State Historic Preservation Office P.O. Box 30740 702 West Kalamazoo St. Lansing, Michigan 48909-8240 (517) 373-1630 www.michigan.gov/hal/

Minnesota

Department Head and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer: Britta L. Bloomberg - britta.bloomberg@mnhs.org Historic Preservation, Field Services and Grants Department Minnesota Historical Society 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 (651) 296-5434 www.mnhs.org/shpo/

Mississippi

Mississippi Department of Archives and History 200 North Street Jackson, MS 39201 (601) 576-6850 Historic Preservation Division: msshpo@mdah.state.ms.us www.mdah.state.ms.us/index.html

Missouri

Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer: Mark Miles - mark.miles@dnr.mo.gov Department of Natural Resources P. O. Box 176 Jefferson City, MO 65102 (573) 751-7858 www.dnr.state.mo.us/shpo/index.html

Montana

State Historic Preservation Officer: Mark Baumler, Ph. D. - mbaumler@mt.gov The Montana Historical Society 225 N. Roberts P.O. Box 201201 Helena, MT 59620-120 (406) 444-7715 www.his.state.mt.us

Nebraska

State Historic Preservation Officer: Lawrence J. Sommer

Nebraska

State Historical Society 1500 R Street P.O. Box 82554 Lincoln, Nebraska 68501 (402) 471-4746 Information: nshs@nebraskahistory.org www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/

Nevada

tate Historic Preservation Officer: Ronald M. James - rmjames@clan.lib.nv.us Department of Cultural Affairs 100 North Stewart Street Carson City, Nevada 89701-4285 (775) 684-3440 http://dmla.clan.lib.nv.us/docs/shpo/

New Hampshire

State Historic Preservation Officer: James M. McConaha - James.Mcconaha@dcr.nh.gov Division of Historical Resources P.O. Box 2043 Concord, New Hampshire 03302-2043 (603) 271-6435 www.nh.gov/nhdhr/

New Jersey

State Historic Preservation Officer NJ Department Parks & Forestry P.O. Box 304 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0404 (609) 292-2885 www.state.nj.us/dep/hpo/

New Mexico

State Historic Preservation Officer: Katherine Slick - katherine.slick@state.nm.us Office of Cultural Affairs Villa Rivera Building, 3rd Floor 228 E. Palace Avenue Santa Fe, New Mexico 87503 (505) 827-6320 www.nmhistoricpreservation.org

New York

State Historic Preservation Officer Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Pres. Empire State Plaza Agency Building 1, 20th Floor Albany, New York 12238 (518) 474-0443 http://nysparks.state.ny.us/shpo/

North Carolina

State Historic Preservation Officer: Jeffrey J. Crow - jeff.crow@ncmail.net Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History 4617 Mail Service Center Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-4617 (919) 733-7305 www.hpo.dcr.state.nc.us

North Dakota

State Historic Preservation Officer: Fern E. Swenson State Historical Society of North Dakota ND Heritage Center 612 East Boulevard Avenue Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0830 (701) 328-2666 www.state.nd.us/hist/

Ohio

State Historic Preservation Officer: Rachel Tooker - rtooker@ohiohistory.org Ohio Historic Preservation Office Ohio Historical Society 567 E. Hudson Street Columbus, Ohio 43211-1030 (614) 298-2000 www.ohiohistory.org/resource/histpres/

Oklahoma

State Historic Preservation Officer: Melvena Heisch - mheisch@ok-history.mus.ok.us Oklahoma Historical Society Wiley Post Historical Building 2100 N. Lincoln Boulevard Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105 (405) 521-2491 www.ok-history.mus.ok.us

Oregon

Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer: Roger Roper Heritage Programs Division Oregon Parks and Recreation Department 725 Summer Street, Suite C Salem, Oregon 97301 (503) 986-0677 http://www.oregonheritage.org

Pennsylvania

State Historic Preservation Officer: Barbara Franco Bureau for Historic Preservation Commonwealth Keystone Building, 2nd floor 400 North Street Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-0093 (717) 787-2891 www.phmc.state.pa.us

Rhode Island

State Historic Preservation Officer: Edward Sanderson - esanderson@preservation.ri.gov Hist. Preservation and Heritage Commission Old State House 150 Benefit Street Providence, Rhode Island 02903 (401) 222-2678 www.preservation.ri.gov

South Carolina

State Historic Preservation Officer: Mary W. Edmonds - edmonds@scdah.state.sc.us Department of Archives and History 8301 Parklane Road Columbia, South Carolina 29223-4905 (803) 896-6168 www.state.sc.us/scdah/histrcpl.htm

South Dakota

State Historic Preservation Officer: Jay D. Vogt - jay.vogt@.state.sd.us South Dakota State Historical Society 900 Governors Drive Pierre, South Dakota 57501-2217 (605) 773-3458 www.sdhistory.org

Tennessee

State Historic Preservation Officer: Herbert Harper - Herbert.Harper@state.tn.us Department of Environment and Conservation 2941 Lebanon Road Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0442 (615) 532-0109 www.tennessee.gov/environment/hist/

Texas

State Historic Preservation Officer: Lawerence Oaks - l.oaks@thc.state.tx.us Texas Historical Commission P.O. Box 12276 Capitol Station Austin, Texas 78711-2276 (512) 463-6100 www.thc.state.tx.us

Utah

State Historic Preservation Officer: Wilson G. Martin - wmartin@utah.gov Utah State Historical Society 300 Rio Grande Salt Lake City, Utah 84101 (801) 533-3500 http://history.utah.gov

Vermont

State Historic Preservation Officer: Jane Lendway - jane.lendway@state.vt.us Agency of Commerce & Community Dev. VT Division for Hist. Preservation National Life Bldg., Drawer 20 Montpelier, Vermont 05620-0501 (802) 828-3056 www.historicvermont.org

Virginia

State Historic Preservation Officer: Ann Andrus - ann.andrus@dhr.virginia.gov Department of Historic Resources 2801 Kensington Avenue Richmond, Virginia 23221 (804) 367-2323 www.dhr.virginia.gov

Washington

State Historic Preservation Officer: Allyson Brooks - Allyson.Brooks@dahp.wa.gov Office of Archeology & Historic Preservation 1063 S Capitol Way Suite 106 P.O. Box 48343 Olympia, Washington 98504-8343 360-585-3066 www.oahp.wa.gov

West Virginia

State Historic Preservation Officer: Susan Pierce - susan.pierce@wvculture.org Division of Culture and History 1900 Kanawha Boulevard E. Capitol Complex Charleston, West Virginia 25305 (304) 558-0220 www.wvculture.org/shpo/shpoindex.aspx

Wisconsin

State Historic Preservation Officer: Michael E Stevens Wisconsin State Historical Society 816 State Street Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1482 (608) 264-6500 www.wisconsinhistory.org

Wyoming

State Historic Preservation Officer: Sara Needles - sneedl@state.wy.us Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office Dept. of State Parks & Cultural Resources 2301 Central Avenue, 3rd floor Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002 (307) 777-7697 http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/

Charity 101

How to choose the best & avoid scams.

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Giving to others in need seems to be a natural impulse the world over. Many of us enjoy giving to causes, programs or research that we agree with and believe in; however, sometimes we are caught unaware and are asked to give by volunteers. We may love the idea of the cause but know little about the organization. Or we may like the idea, but prefer it were handled differently. So where do you go to find the best fitting charity and how do you determine if they are legitimate? Below we have compiled some things to consider when choosing a charity, such as when to give, how to avoid scams, and other ways to give to the community rather than a cash donation.

Before you Give

What Touches You? - It may sound simple (and it is) but one of the best gauges for which charity to choose should be what you are passionate about. What causes mean the most to you? What charities benefit research, education or programs you believe in? This should be your first consideration when choosing a charity. It will help narrow your choices and there is nothing better than having pride about the organization you choose. Who knows, that initial donation could lead to volunteering and becoming actively involved in something you really care about.

Take Control - Be proactive about the charities you choose to support. Don't wait for someone to come knocking at your door or spend money on reminders in the mail. Instead, take the first step by actively searching for charities that give to the causes you believe in. To begin your search, check out some of these sites: Charity Navigator | Guide Star | IRS Search

Money 101 - Find out where your donation goes and how it is spent. Most organizations offer easy charts and/or percentages detailing how much money goes to the cause, administration, events, publications, etc. Although you may like the ideas behind an organization, you may not agree with how they choose to spend the money. The only way to know is to check them out and if you can't find the information, practice our next point and ask questions!

Ask Questions - Don't be afraid to ask questions! Perhaps how they spend money on fundraising events is worded ambiguously to you. Or you are not certain if the funds will stay local or move nationally. Any questions you have are okay to ask. Sometimes people don't want to ask as they think they are pestering the volunteers and wasting their time - that is not the case! By thoroughly answering your questions, volunteers know they are ensuring your continued loyalty, confidence and support for their organization. If they don't want to answer, then consider someone else - there are plenty of charities to choose from.

Reputation - Find out about the charity's reputation. Have there been complaints about your charity? Are there accolades for your charity? Take some time to see what others are saying about the charity of your choice. Better Business Bureau | Charity Navigator

The Quick List - If you don't want to spend the time researching the charities out there, take a look at some of these lists to see how they are already ranked by organizations. American Institute of Philanthropy | Charity Navigator

When You Give

Dust Off the Checkbook - It is best to donate by check rather than cash or credit card. This way you can specify the money only goes to the organization. Always write the check - don't give any information directly to your bank account. Credit card is okay online if you really know the source is reliable. But be very cautious!

Guard Your Information - As with your bank account information, keep most of your information private. As you will read in the 'Signs of a Scam' section below, caution is unfortunately the best practice when donating money.

Ask if Your Gift is Tax Deductable - Not all charities actually count as a tax deductable donation. Although we realize this is not usually the impetuous behind giving to a charity, it is something to keep in mind if you do plan to claim it on your taxes - especially if it is a sizable donation. The charities won't be offended, just ask.

Get a Receipt - Even if your donation is not tax deductable, get a receipt. This will help you track your records and if you are ever unfortunately caught in a scam, it might help in developing a case against the criminal.

Think Ahead - Consider giving to the charities of your choice once a year or up to a certain amount every year. This will make it easier to choose a charity that you know rather than off the cuff impulse. Also, it will make it that much easier to say no to those who solicit your donations if you know you have already given as much as you want/can for the year.

Signs of a Scam

Appearance is Not Enough - Charity scams can be everything from a person with a jar asking for a particular cause to elaborate schemes that include personnel, office space, logos and image branding - all the signals of a legitimate operation. Thus, we say it again, it is important to do your homework before you give.

Know the Name - Many charity scams are set up using names very similar to bigger and better moderated charities. Be careful and take the time to double check that the organization you are donating to is the one you are really thinking of.

The Copycat - Unfortunately, even knowing the correct name of the charity may not be enough. Some scammers (especially in person) will claim to be from an organization they are not. The best option is to check with the charity to see if they are running a drive in your area before you donate.

Opportunity Knocks - The primary means for charity scams to get your money is by approaching you in person (i.e. at the grocery stores or going door to door), spam emails, and even telemarketing. To be safe, take the information about the charity down but wait to give until you have had a chance to check them out. If they turn on the high pressure "sale" when you mention researching them more, simply walk away. Instead, a legitimate charity will be happy to give you the information about their organization and where to find out more. As for emails, donating to unsolicited emails is never a good idea. Email is only a good option if it is from an organization with which you already have a relationship (usually a reminder to come donate again) or someone you personally know (i.e. participant fundraising for a benefit walk/run/etc.).

Too Much Pressure - Yes we just wrote it above, but it is worth mentioning again - high pressure "sales" from charities is a huge no-no. If they turn up the sob story, guilt trip, or state the need is now or never - be wary and just walk away. Most legitimate charities avoid high pressure tactics and have guidelines for volunteers against such tactics as they are just as glad to have raised the awareness if not always the cash.

Registration Please - It is good practice to ask a charity if it is registered and has a registration number. You can then use this number to look it up with the Better Business Bureau.

Misery Loves Company - Be very careful when giving after a large natural disaster or another event which rocks the community. At these times it is usually best to give through charities that have a standing reputation for helping. But again, make sure to check the name is not a quasi copycat. Be careful how you give the money - even when memorial charities are set up for a local family, you can donate through a bank with an established trust. Try not to let the headlines in the news sway you to give to the wrong person!

Allocation of Funds - Although this is not necessarily a scam item, some donators feel scammed when they find out so little of their money actually goes to the cause of their choice. To avoid this, research the charity to see how they allocate their funds. As we stated above, every charity is different in how it will choose allocate the funds raised. Some charities have high administrative costs and use fundraising to pay staff salaries. Others spend a great deal on advertising campaigns. Although neither is illegal, you may want to see if you agree with the amounts spent. You can find details on the individual charity websites or directories, such as Charity Navigator and Guide Star.

And the Winner Is - Another scam to look out for is the offer of a entry for a prize with your donation. This can usually be related to a scam, but also some legitimate organizations use this tactic. In this instance you may want to consider how much of your donation is going to fundraising gimmicks rather than to the cause at hand.

Other Ways to Give

Your Time is Worth Money - Don't have a lot of cash to give? A little of your time can help just as much or even more for some charities. Many organizations need voluntary workers to make their goals a reality. Most Americans consider donating around November and December when the image of helping out the local soup kitchen is etched in our minds. However, many organizations need help the rest of the year. Contact the charity you are passionate about and ask when you can be the most helpful. Have time but don't know where to participate? Try some sites like these to find volunteer opportunities in your area. Many of these sites let you search by interest - if volunteers get to share the love of one of their hobbies they are more likely to enjoy the experience and spend more time helping. www.idealist.org | www.volunteermatch.org | www.1-800-volunteer.org | www.getinvolved.gov

Take a Volunteer Vacation - Some college students have made headlines by taking volunteer vacations during spring break instead of heading to a party hot spot. But these vacations are not just for college students! Many seasoned travelers find these vacations a great way to learn more intimately about other cultures and give a little back in the process. Whether your passion is people, the environment, culture, language, or all the above, this might be the next vacation for you. www.globalvolunteers.org | www.volunteerabroad.com | www.globeaware.org | www.earthwatch.org

Play on the Web - Some online stores and searches will donate to charities if you use their interface. So why not take them up on the free offer? Do Great Good | The Hunger, Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest & Animal Rescue Sites | www.searchkindly.org

Consider Giving a Loan - A different way of 'giving' may be to actually lend capitol to the working poor. A new idea in micro financing gives funds to poor families who need a small loan to make their business ideas work. Loans can be as low as $25 and are actually paid back (unlike email schemes). The forerunner in this area is Kiva.org who started in 2005 primarily connecting lenders with 3rd world entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit their website www.kiva.org. This year, Kiva partnered with ACCION USA and the Opportunity Fund to offer micro loans here in the United States as well. For more on this option, please visit www.accionusa.org or www.opportunityfund.org.

Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home-Part 2

Periodic checklists.

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Welcome back to Rocky’s Corner! Last month we started Part 1 of an 8 part series of Preventative Maintenance Tips for your Home. Series 1 dealt with maintenance checks that are recommended every month. Series 2 will combine a periodic checklist for every 2 months and a periodic checklist for every 3 months.

Every 2 Months
If you have a pressure type oil burner inspect and clean Range Hood Fan: Clean grease filter. This may be done more often than every 2 months depending upon the amount of cooking and or fry foods. If you find that the filter is corroded, you may need to consider replacing it.

Steam Heating System:
Test relief valve and replace if necessary, check pressure and drain expansion tank if necessary. Wall Furnace: Clean grills. Clean or replace filter.

Every 3 Months

Faucets:
Clean aerators-unscrew, disassemble and wash out debris. Fix leaky faucets quickly; a leak wastes up to 20 gallons of water a day and can ruin a faucet set. Consider replacing older faucets with new ones with washer less valve cartridges instead of rubber washers.

Dishwasher:
Professionally have the strainer, spray arm and air gap cleaned.
Pest Control: Consider hiring a pest control service to protect your home and family from insects, vermin and termites damage to your property.

Hot Water Heater:
Do not set any combustibles near water heater. Drain a quart of water from the tank four times a year to keep your water heater in peak condition. If you suspect a leak, you may have rusting through the bottom of the storage tank. Consult a professional.

Floor Drain Strainer:
Clean out debris and scrub strainer.

Tub Drain Assembly:
Clean out debris; inspect rubber seal and replace if necessary.

Join me next month for Part 3 of our series on Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home. Visit us at www.freminshomeimprovement.com

GFCI circuits in older homes

We recently bought an older home which has undergone some renovation.

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Q. We recently bought an older home which has undergone some renovation. The sellers installed three-pronged outlets throughout the house and GFCI circuits in the kitchen, bathrooms and on the exterior. Our home inspector said that the house wiring is the original two wire non-grounded system, and that even though we have three-prong plugs they are not grounded. He also said that the GFCI receptacles would not function correctly, because there is no ground wire. Do you agree with his assessment?

A. Your home inspector is correct in telling you that your outlets will not be grounded. A third or ground wire is necessary for proper grounding of receptacles and fixtures. Having a two-wire system is not a problem in and of itself unless you are using electrical equipment specifically designed to be grounded. The three-prong plugs are more of a convenience since nearly all electrical devices now come with a grounded plug. Regarding the GFCI (Ground Fault Interrupter Circuit) outlets, they need not be grounded in order to work properly. Simply put, the GFCI is a safety device that protects people from electric shocks by sensing current moving in a way that it should not, and instantly shutting down the circuit. On a grounded circuit, it does this by sending the current to ground. On an ungrounded (two-wire) circuit, it does the same thing by sending the current back to ground through the neutral wire. A properly wired GFCI will work just fine on a two-wire circuit. The GFCI outlets have test and reset buttons on their face. To test for proper operation, simply push the test button. If you hear a snap, the circuit has tripped, and you can test it by plugging in a lamp or radio. To turn the power back on, simply push the reset button. If you are still not sure, call a qualified electrician and have him check all your GFCI receptacles.