Michael’s House Fifth Annual Family Fun Day and Cookout

Michael’s House Fifth Annual Family Fun Day and Cookout


Want to do something fun this weekend while making a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children right here in the Miami Valley?


Join us at the Fifth Annual Family Fun Day and Cookout benefiting Michael’s House. The event takes place Sunday, September 2, at Elsa’s in Kettering, 1216 East Stroop Road. Admission is $25 for all you can eat and drink and children under 16 are free! Included in the fun of the day will be raffles, games, activities, a children’s play area, live and silent auctions and music by The Trace.


It has been said, “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”  Shannon Alder

Michael Mercurio left a legacy that not only touched all of those who had the privilege to know him in his 37 short years, but will live on in his memory at Michael’s House, the facility that bears his name. Fashioned after a similar program called Care House in Montgomery County, Michael’s House creates an environment where abused and neglected children can feel safe and where the process of helping them is designed to minimize any additional trauma.


Michael Mercurio, a former Alter High School quarterback, who went onto become a endodonist, with a wife and 2 young children, died of blood clots in his lungs, July 4, 2007. He was a larger-than-life kind of guy who was tough enough to run with the bulls in Spain, to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and to go bungee jumping in the Swiss Alps. Yet, his compassion for others endeared him to his nieces and nephews and led him to go on 3 separate humanitarian missions to help orphaned children in Romania who suffered from dental disease.


This desire to help others and to make a difference is shared by his family and friends.  Michael’s House is truly the culmination of the hearts and hands of many in the community. While the idea of the facility was the brain-child of Michael’s parents, Bill and Elaine Mercurio, their plans were refined and brought into existence with the help of many benefactors. Bob Mills, a general contractor in the Dayton Area, was instrumental in bringing their vision to fruition. George Oberer of Oberer Flowers donated the $250,000 parcel of land that the facility was built upon.


The community of benefactors extends to our own Dan Kronauge who was a childhood friend of Michael’s and who is one of the sponsors of the Family Fun Day and Cookout. Please join us on Sunday to share the fun and the compassion.


And remember, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Albert Einstein. 

Go! Our Picks of the Week: Labor Day Weekend

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We have a wonderful 3-Day weekend coming up.  Here are our picks of happenings in and around the Cin-Day Corridor. Click the links for more detailed information about each of the events.


Labor Day Celebrations

Start your Labor Day celebrations  with the RiverBlast & Fireworks at Riverfront Park, in Miamisburg, OH, Saturday, September 1 starting at 4:00. The fireworks will start at 9:05 PM.


P&G Riverfest. Sawyer Point, Downtown, Cincinnati, OH

This alcohol-free event starts at noon on Sunday, September 2, and goes all day. The fireworks begin at 9:05 PM. Bring blankets but no chairs and enjoy the live music, food and games.


Begin your Labor Day Monday by celebrating the 1920’s at the Holiday at Home Parade. The parade gets under way at 9:05 AM at the corner of Far Hills and Stroop. Kettering, OH.




From Friday, August 31 – Sunday, September 2, enjoy the  Remote-Control Aircraft Air Show at the National Museum of the USAF. Did you miss your chance to go the Dayton Air Show this year? Here is your opportunity to see daring avionics on a smaller scale.  On the runway behind the National Museum of the USAF, radio-controlled aircraft perform daring feats of acrobatics. This is a weather-permitting event, so check their Facebook page for weather updates.


On Sunday, September 2, check out Michael’s House Fifth Annual Family Fun Day and Cookout.

Bring the kids and enjoy a day of family fun from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Elsa’s in Kettering. The event raises funds for Michaels’s House, a child advocacy center.


Maybe all you want this weekend is to take a deep breath and relax. Then, you’ll want to be at Free Yoga in the Park, Englewood MetroPark – East Park, Vandalia, OH, on Monday, September 3, between 9am-10:30am.


Everywhere In Between

Renaissance Festival. Harveysburg, OH.

This Saturday, September 1, opens this season’s Renaissance Festival. Take a step back in time and pretend for a day that you have landed in a 16th Century English Village. Come prepared to eat hearty and to be amused and entertained by the costumed characters. The festival runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day Monday, until October 21.

Have a safe and happy weekend!


10 Tips to Ditch the Salt Shaker and to Use Herbs

<img width="200" height="224" style="margin: 5px; float: left;" alt="Basil.jpg" src="” />To live a more healthful life, think outside the box and outside the salt shaker.

While sodium is a necessary macromineral for our bodies, the current American guidelines recommend only 2400 mg. per day. If you are an avid reader of the nutritional information on food packaging, you will know that the average American can easily go over that amount.

Mayoclinic.com states that 75 percent of a typical American’s daily sodium intake comes from packaged foods, 12 percent comes from natural sources, and the balance, a whopping 13 percent is adding during cooking or eating.

One of the ways you can cut back on sodium, is to take a serious look at the amount of sodium listed on your food packaging and then make changes as necessary. You can start by switching to lower sodium versions of the pre-packaged items that you usually purchase.

Exploring your spice rack or using fresh herbs is another way to cut back on the salt while adding flavor to your food.

Here are 10 tips for using herbs and spices in your cooking:

1. Herbs have a better taste when used immediately, so only buy or pick what you know you will use the same day.

2. If using herbs from your own garden, make sure to harvest them in the morning, after the dew has dried off of them but before the sun warms them up too much. This is the time when the oil content in the plants will be the highest and therefore the flavor will be the best.

3. Store-bought whole spices should last up to 4 years and ground spices for only 2 or 3 years. The oils responsible for the flavor and aroma are released once a spice is ground, and over time the flavor will diminish. If, when you open the container, you no longer can smell the spice, it is definitely time to replace it.

4. Dried herbs will last only 1-2 years, as they are even more delicate, than ground spices.

5. For beef use bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme

6. For chicken and poultry use ginger, tarragon, rosemary, sage, thyme, cilantro, chives, basil

7. For fish use curry powder, dill, fennel, basil, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon

8. For lamb use curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint

9. For pork use caraway, cumin, curry, dill, rosemary, sage, fennel, savory and thyme

10. Click here for a listing of herbs to use with vegetables.

Have fun and cook up something wonderful for dinner tonight!

Good Air Quality in Your Car Tires can Reduce Insurance Premiums

Being a car owner means you are responsible for more than just the gas you put into the tank. Have you ever thought about how much air is in each of your tires? If the air is low, this could cause serious damages to your vehicle or worse, a collision. You don’t want to put yourself or others at risk for injury when this type of problem is preventable.

Underinflated tires are not only an accident waiting to happen, but they also increase tire wear and waste gas. Budgeting is tough enough as is, so you don’t want to waste more money on damages and high insurance costs. This is why inflating your tires to the specified pressure is so important. Make it a habit to check and refill your tires once a month. This can be done with a digital tire gauge that you can keep it in the car. Use your owner’s manual to find the tire pressure level required.

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There are two ways to refill your tires with the right amount of air. First, you can go to an auto parts store and get a portable air compressor. Then, this allows you to do it yourself at home whenever you want. Or, you can refill the tires at the gas station. Most air compressors charge 50 cents. If you get in the habit of checking your tire pressure, you may be able to find a reliable gas station with good air compressor.

With tires that are inflated to the required pressure, you can now drive safely with more gas in your tank! At Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency, we hope you pay attention to the needs of your vehicle and protect it when necessary. Having reliable auto insurance is one way to do this. We can create a package that fits your financial situation and lifestyle. Being mindful of the risks you face on the road by having good air quality in your tires can reduce your insurance premiums, help you avoid accidents, and reduce damages inflicted on your car.


Getting Healthy: 7 Ways to Be Assertive When Dining Out

200_147 Salmon Dinner.jpgYour health is literally in your own hands. You get to choose what foods you are going to consume, even when dining out.  You may think that what is listed on the menu is carved in stone, but with some creativity, you can take a standard menu and create a very healthful meal.

1. Do your home work. Assertiveness starts with having a voice in where you choose to eat out in the first place. Scope out the menus online, and, when the situation allows for it, opt to go to restaurants with more healthful choices in the first place.

2. Choose grilled or steamed over fried.  Ask if a fried item can be grilled instead or substitute vegetables for french fries.

3. On the side please. Ask for all sauces and salad dressings to be put on the side. Then, rather than pouring the dressing or sauce over the food, dip your fork into the sauce/dressing before skewering the food.  You may find that you do not even use all of the sauce provided.

4. Mix and Match. Create a meal from a seafood or vegetable based appetizer and a small dinner salad or broth-based soup. Assess how hungry you are before ordering. Just because you are dining out, that  doesn’t mean you have to order a full meal.

5. Get inquisitive. Ask about the ingredients in a dish or how the menu item is prepared.  For example, a lot of restaurant salads have many high calorie additions. Think croutons, bacon and cheese. Be assertive and ask for those items to be left off your salad.  Your waistline will thank you.

6. Make your own dish. If you see something on other part of the menu, like a mango salsa that is a topping for chicken, see if it is possible to substitute it for the high calorie toppings you are leaving off of your salad. The answer may be no, but it never hurts to ask.

7. Boxed and ready to go. Have your server bring the take-home box at the beginning of the meal. Portion sizes of dine out meals are notoriously over-sized. Box up half of your meal before you even start eating.

Armed with these 7 ways to be more assertive when you are ordering, may you find that the healthful choices you make, today, create a healthful and enjoyable life for all of your tomorrows.


Go! Our Weekend Picks for August 24-26

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Today we are rolling out a new weekly feature we are calling “Go! Our Weekend Picks”. Every Thursday, look for fun ideas of places you go and things to do in the upcoming weekend.



Reds vs Cardinals at home this Friday, Saturday and Sunday


Germania Society Oktoberfest  Cincinnati’s Original and Most Authentic Oktoberfest.

Brew Ha-Ha at Sawyer Point  Add 50 comedians on three stages and 100 beers from which to choose and you have the makings of a fun time. (Note:  the website says the comedy is intended for mature audiences and may not be suitable for children.)

Bring the Kids or Be One Yourself

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Visitor Appreciation Days Aug. 24th– 26. Half price admission and parking. Rated #7 on Parent’s Magazine list of “Top 10 Best Zoos for Kids.”

American Sign Museum  Open every weekend. A Guided Tour is included in the entrance fee but they sell out quickly. Schedule your tour online.




Dayton Dragons at home this Saturday and Sunday


Film Dayton Festival  Do you love to watch the “Making ofs” in the special features section of your DVD? Does idea of locally-connected films intrigue you? Then, this is a must do.


Dayton’s Victoria Theatre wraps up its Cool Films Series for the summer with Calamity Jane, starring Doris Day.  Don’t miss your chance to see this 1953 film in this beautiful theatre. Come early, there is an organ concert and sing-a-long 30 minutes prior to the start of the movie. Friday, Saturday and Sunday showings.



The Lebanese Festival  Features Middle Eastern dancing and entertainment.

Sunwatch Flute and Art Festival  Features four time Nammy Award Winner Douglas Blue Feather. Sample American Indian foods like Indian Tacos, bison burgers and corn.

14th Annual AleFest  Sample 350 craft beers at Carillon Historical Park


A Little Farther Away


Clifton Gorge Music and Arts Festival    Local musicians and artisans.


Active Restoration: Your Ally When Calamity Strikes

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Let’s imagine, upon returning home from a wonderfully relaxing vacation you are jarred back to reality after seeing a small lake of standing water has oozed its way out of your utility closet.

 Water has seeped down the hallway, soaking the carpet and making its way up the walls. UCK! The water heater broke while you were gone.

After a quick call to the Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency, you contact a restoration company who will help you get your home back in order.  At this point, you could be in touch with Active Restoration, our featured local business.

Superior customer service is the driving force of Active Restoration, the company that James Griffin founded 4 years ago, after a number of years working in the industry. From moment he and his crews arrive at your home or business, you will know your project is in good hands. Sparing no detail, the care he and his workers take starts with the use of footies over their shoes to protect the undamaged parts of your property.

A skilled listener, James, takes the time to assess what is important to you and strives to keep communication open to guide you through your choices as your restoration project moves through to completion.  James directs his crews to repair your home or business while keeping the perspective that a large part of their job is to protect your treasured furnishings.  Careful partitioning of the work area with plastic creates a dust barrier to protect the undamaged part of your property and allows the equipment to focus on the affected area. As he says, “What people have collected over their life is their life, not drywall and paint.”

Active Restoration can do everything to restore your property from a simple dry out to full construction. Here is a glossary of terms you may hear when you call on them:

Mitigation: Refers to doing whatever work is needed to protect, secure and restore a property once the damaging event has occurred

Water Removal: Includes the extraction and removal of excess water

Dry Out: A service where a vortex drying process is done on your property to ensure a thorough drying out of excess moisture

Pack Out:  Refers to moving contents from your damaged property to the safety of a warehouse, so that restoration efforts can continue on your property

Cleaned & Deodorized: Once the contents are removed to a warehouse, they are carefully cleaned of soot/smoke and then they are put into an ozone/hydroxyl chamber for deodorizing, as needed.

Storage:  The contents of your property are stored in a clean, dry, climate-controlled environment.

Put Back: Once the restoration process is complete, the contents are placed back in your home or business.

All of us here at Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency hope, for your sake, that you never have cause for a restoration project. However, if that event happens, it sure is nice to know that you have a solid company like Active Restoration in your corner.

Simple Weekend Home Improvement Projects

Are you trying to find ways to fill up time on lazy Saturdays? Why not try a home improvement project? This doesn’t have to be a complex job that takes months to complete. Instead, pick something that has needed to be done for a while, but you didn’t have time to get to in the past. A simple renovation can make the summer days feel more productive.

Even smallest changes in your home can make the biggest difference. They can also save you money since you won’t have to hire a contractor for months on end. Simple DIY projects can be quick to complete and the family can even participate. The following are some weekend home improvement projects you can start getting busy on:

Unclog the Kitchen Drain: Is your kitchen starting to get smelly? This may be due to an unclogged drain. If you have been putting this issue off, now may be a good time to fix it. All you need to do is pour a declogging solution down the drain from the store, and in 10 minutes, you’ll be done.
Replace an Old Mailbox: Each morning when you get the mail, is the latch always down or does rust get all over the paper? It may be time for a new mailbox. Replace your old one on a weekend when it’s nice outside. This small project will benefit you and the mailman!

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Paint a Room: This inexpensive home improvement activity can be one for the whole family. It will also transform a space and your home for the better. This can be done in one weekend for everyone to enjoy for a lifetime.
Repair Driveway Cracks: Do you dread pulling into your driveway due to a huge bump or crack? Avoid causing more damages to your tires by taking care of the issue. Repair the damages by buying inexpensive concrete caulk and cover the hazards. Then your driveway will look good as new.
Change Smoke Detector Batteries: Make an effort to promote safety this hot summer by checking to see that your smoke detectors work properly. A simple change of the batteries can save lives.

At Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency, we hope this list of weekend home improvement projects will help you accomplish everything you have been putting off. When it comes to your home, you want to make it a space where everyone feels comfortable a safe. So as you work to renovate your property this summer, make sure you always take precaution to avoid an accident or injury.


You’re Just a Smoothie Away from Wholesome Nutrition!

Local Focus 150 square.jpgIn light of the fact that the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency is dedicated to supporting our local business owners, we will be highlighting a local business on a regular basis.

Today, we are featuring Smoothie King, a Dayton, Ohio area franchise, owned by husband and wife team, Lynne and Eric Pierce-French. When the gift of an inheritance gave them the opportunity to build a better future for their son, Robert White, a single father with 4 growing children, Lynne and Eric set about serious study of their options. After much consideration, they chose a Smoothie King franchise.  They found that Smoothie King’s philosophy of offering tasty smoothies using real fruit and wholesome ingredients, nutritional products and supplements was a perfect way to blend their interest in health with their desire to help others. Their first store, located across from the Dayton Mall on State Route 725, opened in March of 2011 with their son, Robert, at the helm as General Manager.

While the term smoothie, or smoothy as it was first spelled, has been used since the beginning of the 1900’s, it did not start referring to food or drink until the late 1950’s when Latin and South Americans opened the first juice bars. A decade later, as a fix for his own allergies, the founder of Smoothie King, Steve Kuhnau, began experimenting with ingredients that would allow him to enjoy a protein drink that was not milk-based. His concoctions started having a profound positive affect on his health and by the early 1970’s the first Smoothie King smoothie was sold.

While everyone can enjoy a Smoothie King smoothie, those with special dietary needs will rejoice at the choices available to them. For instance, The Gladiator smoothie with only 180 calories, 0 grams of fat and sugar, and only 1 gram of carbohydrates is perfect for Gastric By Pass patients and diabetics.

Currently there are eight categories of smoothies offered by the chain: Stay Healthy, Trim Down, Get Energy, Shape Up, Snack Right, Indulge and Kid’s Kups. Each category has ingredients that have been carefully combined to give you maximum health benefits for your goals, whether your goal is losing weight, adding weight and muscle, antioxidant support, increased energy or simply having a delicious treat. The antioxidants from the fresh fruit and the addition of Smoothie King’s choices of Enhancers boost the health benefits of this wonderful alternative to fast food. With flavors as diverse as Angel Food, the runaway favorite, to Raspberry Sunrise or Coffee Smoothie Mocha, you are sure to find exactly what your taste buds are thirsting to enjoy.

Health and wellness ambassadors, Lynne and Eric are excited to announce plans to expand their reach in the Dayton area by opening a second Smoothie King store in the near future in the Fairfield Commons Mall area. You can also look for their Smoothie King concessions at Fifth-Third Field the next time you go to a Dayton Dragons game.

The Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency supports Southwestern Ohioans in their quest for health. Through August 31, 2012, click here for your chance to win a $50 Smoothie King gift card.

Foil the Efforts of Water, Wind and Fire to Damage Your Home

Sometimes a disaster that strikes your home is a natural or man-made event that is out of your control. Other times, the damaging effects of the dynamic trio of wind, water and fire can be kept at bay by consistent attention to the maintenance and care of your home. Last week, we featured the first of a three part series with expert James Griffin from Active Restoration.  Today, in our second installment, in conjunction with his advice, we have put together a list of what a homeowner can do to maintain their home and avoid unnecessary insurance claims and restoration projects.

Water, Dynamic Villain # 1
According to Mr. Griffin, the most common reason for the need of his restoration Water dripping.jpgservices is water damage. Fortunately, this is one area where consistent, on-going maintenance can be very advantageous.
• Hidden leaks can sneak up on you, so be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of water seepage. Investigate drips or water spots in a ceiling or in cabinetry.
• Bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets are the most common sources of water damage or excess moisture problems that Mr. Griffin encounters. Replace caulking in these areas every couple of years.
• Inspect your water heater for signs of rust, overflow pans that are full or drain-lines that are clogged.
• Clean your gutters of debris to help prevent ice dams or overflow problems that can lead to water intrusion into your home.
• Have your roof inspected for soft spots, unusual molds, or broken shingles that compromise your roof and allow the elements to enter your home.

Wind, Dynamic Villain # 2
• Hire a knowledgeable arborist who can wisely inspect and trim any trees or large shrubbery that could damage your home during high winds.
• Protect your home from flying objects by safely storing patio furniture and children’s backyard toys before a storm hits.

Fire, Dynamic Villain #3 
• According to the Fire Marshal’s Public Safety Council, 85% of non-functioning smoke detectors have missing or dead batteries.  Check the batteries in your smoke alarms to ensure that they are working properly.
• Estimates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) calculate that 15,500 fires, at a cost of $84.4 million, annually have clothes dryers as their point of origin. To keep from becoming a part of those statistics, inspect and clean your dryer vent and dryer hose on a regular basis and remove any obstructions.
• Have your fireplace inspected and approved for use each winter season by a fireplace specialist.
• Keep a working fire extinguisher on each level of your home.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound (or an insurance claim) of cure. Staying on top of maintenance issues will go a long way in keeping the dynamic trio of water, wind and fire from using their evil powers to cause damage to your home.