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Movers & Shakers April 15, 2010

| April 15, 2010 9:00 PM

2010 Partners in Policymaking graduates; Bell ringers collect for Salvation Army; Finance Department issues scam warning

2010 Partners in Policymaking graduates

On Saturday, the Idaho Partners in Policymaking project graduated 16 participants, eight of whom reside in North Idaho.

Sheree Cooper, Valerie Crawford, Camron Cutler, Jessica Rachels, Cheryl Roberts, Denise Wetzel, Amy Yardley and Ricky Zent received 128 hours of intensive study over the last eight months in areas such as inclusive education, community organizing, employment, housing, advocacy, public speaking, and state legislative training.

Partners in Policymaking is a project of the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities and provides state-of-the-art knowledge from state and national leaders about today's disability issues. The goal is to empower people with disabilities and family members to achieve successful partnerships with Idaho's policymakers. Idaho is one of 42 states that train leaders for the 21st Century. More than 5,000 graduates in those states have achieved great success in influencing public policy that govern disability issues.

Bell ringers collect for Salvation Army

The Salvation Army's iconic Red Kettles are long gone from the doorways of local retailers, but the results of the nation's longest-running annual fundraising campaign are now in. Based on the recently released numbers from the Salvation Army's national office in Alexandria, VA., Northwest-based Fred Meyer Stores collected more than $1.48 million at its 130 participating stores.

"We have exceptionally generous customers, even in the hardest of economic times," said Melinda Merrill, Fred Meyer public affairs director. "The relationship between The Salvation Army and Fred Meyer goes back to the company's beginning in 1922, and the holidays at Fred Meyer would not be the same without our Red Kettle bell ringers."

Nationally, stores in the Kroger chain collected more than $11.3 million, an increase of seven percent over 2008. Kroger's collections represent eight percent of the total donations received by the Salvation Army during the 2009 holiday season. The $1.48 million collected at Fred Meyer stores exceeded the collections at any of the other Kroger retail divisions throughout the country.

Donors throughout the U.S. contributed a record-breaking $139 million to the Salvation Army through both the traditional Red Kettles as well as through Internet-based donations. The Red Kettle Campaign originated in San Francisco in 1891 and since that time has grown into one of the most recognizable charitable outreach efforts in the country.

Finance Department issues scam warning

In the wake of the current economic crisis in Idaho and throughout the nation, Gavin Gee, director of the Idaho Department of Finance, is warning investors to be on the lookout for opportunistic scams. In times of tragedy, confusion, fear and uncertainty, there are always those who will attempt to prey on the investing public.

"Cold-calling telephone salespeople, advertisements, or Internet postings that tout commodities, exotic financial products, or technologies related to recent events should be a red flag for investors," Gee said. "Investors should be especially wary of enticements to send their money offshore to so-called 'safe havens'," he added. Recalling that many con artists exploited fears associated with the Year 2000 computer bug (Y2K), the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Gee noted that the recent economic downturn has brought new pitches for precious metals investments, emergency preparedness scams, non-existent technology companies and real estate deals, the Department of Finance urges investors to:

• Hang up on aggressive cold callers promoting "safe" investments with "guaranteed returns" and ignore unsolicited e-mail or Internet chat room talk about small companies with new technologies or products related to the recent events.

• Call the Idaho Department of Finance toll free number 1-888-346-3378 (Idaho only) to ask if the seller is licensed to sell securities in Idaho and if the security is properly registered.

• Request written information that fully explains the investment, such as a prospectus or offering circular. The documentation should contain enough clear and accurate information to allow you or your financial adviser to evaluate and verify the particulars of the investment.

• Get a professional, third-party opinion when presented with investment opportunities that seem to offer unusually high returns in comparison to other investment options. Pie-in-the-sky promises often signal investment fraud.

If you have a new, relocated or expanded business, or announcement of events, promotions or awards, The Press wants to let our readers know. The service is free and items run Tuesday through Saturday. To get the word on the street on your movers and shakers, call city editor Bill Buley at 664-8176 Ext. 2016 or e-mail bbuley@cdapress.com.

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