Town office — service with a smile

Our town office is always busy. Besides being the hub of Washington’s official business, it’s the go-to place for inquiries of all kinds. Last week we had reason to search through some old annual town reports. Really old, like 1900s. There they were in their storage jackets, all in a row. Ann Dean, the town clerk, told us there was an ongoing effort to keep things organized so periodically someone looks through the archives and re-organizes again. It turns out that there’s at least one copy of nearly all the town reports — missing are reports from 1920, 1952 and 1984. If you have a copy from one of these years and would like to donate it to complete the town’s archive, it would be much appreciated. Just take it to the town office.

Democratic caucus date set

The 2010 Washington Democratic Party Caucus is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. in the Bryant Room of Gibbs Library. A snow date is set for Saturday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. Let’s hope the snow date isn’t needed.

Monday yoga

The yoga class led by Linda Shepard at the Evening Star Grange Hall on Monday mornings has an enthusiastic group participating and learning. Linda’s group, which includes both men and women, is working on “slow yoga,” which focuses on increasing flexibility and building strength in a gentle way. Linda explained that there are many different types of yoga to suit different ages, physical abilities, personal goals and so forth. Linda’s next series will be six classes beginning Feb. 8 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The cost for the series is $72 or $14 for each drop-in session. This sounds like a good antidote to cabin fever and when the six weeks are up, even Punxsutawney Phil will know that spring is just around the corner.

Nutrition mission project of local ‘GuateMama’

The malnutrition rate is near 60 percent in rural Guatemala, the birth home of Susan Frank’s daughter Clara, who Susan brought home to Washington in 2007. Since then Susan has felt a need to honor her daughter’s homeland by helping improve nutrition for these indigenous Maya. In addition to forming a nonprofit organization, Mayan Hearts, to raise funds for fighting malnutrition in this impoverished area, Susan is part of another group, the “GuateMamas” — women with children adopted from Guatemala who volunteer with Mayan Families, another Maya focused nonprofit. These GuateMamas will travel to Panajachel, Guatemala, in March for a week of service. One of the jobs they will do is assist with the assembly of Semana Santa baskets. Traditionally, Guatemalans celebrate Easter with sweet bread and drinking chocolate. To ensure a true holiday experience, Mayan Families distributes baskets with the bread and hot chocolate plus eggs, vegetables, a vitamin fortified cereal and chicken. The group is raising funds to purchase as many baskets (which cost $35 each) as possible. From now through Friday, Jan. 29, Beth McFadyen, a fellow GuateMama and Mayan Hearts board member, will sell Lia Sophia jewelry and donate a portion of profits to the cause. Items can be purchased online at (For the purchase to be directed to Mayan Families, be sure to enter Beth McFadyen in the hostess slot.) If you want more information or would simply like to donate to this effort, contact Sue Frank at 845-2709.

Free tax help

Free help for middle and low income taxpayers (with special attention to those age 60 and over) will begin Wednesday, Feb. 3 and continue each Wednesday until April 14 at the Washington Fire Station. AARP/IRS trained tax counselors will be available by appointment to assist with 2009 federal and state income tax returns 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ. This service is provided by AARP Tax-Aid, which provides 32,000 trained volunteers annually. When you come for your AARP Tax-Aid appointment be sure to bring all the information and forms detailing your income, expenses and deductions for 2009. Also bring your last year’s (2008) federal and state tax returns, personal identification, and Social Security card for all the dependents you claim on your return. These items must be shown to the tax counselor, even if that person knows who you are. Electronic filing will be available. Call Liz Grinnell at 845-2377 to schedule an appointment.

Just because

One of my favorite lines in all of prose is “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you,” from Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch 22.” It’s always sort of given me permission to be healthily pessimistic. Without meaning to turn this into an advice column, here are some cautionary notes: 1. We have found a lot of unexpected charges with our Jitterbug cell phone account. Pay attention. 2. You already know this: don’t assume e-mails or phone calls are from who they say. Check them out and never give important information. 3. The IRS won’t send you an e-mail asking for information nor will your bank or other legitimate businesses. 4. If you drive, learn to avoid tricks by would-be thieves that are designed to make you stop your car so they can get to you. 5. Pay attention to those checks and offers you get in the postal mail. Many of them lead to you being signed up for things you don’t even want unless you cancel. Yes, it’s up to you to set things straight even though you didn’t ask for it. 6. Oh, and last but not least, another favorite. Don’t make old ladies mad. They don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to set them off.

Have a good week, everyone!