Mortgage Lending Needs? Talk to Shawn Huss

Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency rolled out its partnership program this past week. Designed to build collaboration between our company and other companies that serve the communities in our region, we are pleased to announce our first partner, Shawn Huss, Senior Vice President, Mortgage Consultant with First Place Bank.


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Shawn Huss

Whether you are a first-time or seasoned homebuyer, Shawn Huss, a 20 year veteran in the mortgage industry, is the man you want in your corner when it comes to helping you with all of your mortgage needs.


He holds the distinction of being named by Scotsman Guide as one of the top loan originators in the nation for 13 years in a row. In 2011, out of over 800 other entrants to the Scotman Guide Top Originators rankings, his efforts put him at 13th in the nation for the number of loans processed that year. (467… if you are curious.) To even be eligible for consideration in the rankings, a person had to have personally closed, within the previous year, a minimum of 100 home mortgage loans with a combined total of $30 million or more.


Shawn’s depth of knowledge, dedication and sincere desire to give his customers the best product for their specific needs is what sets him apart from others in the mortgage industry. First Place Bank offers a range of options that make it easier for buyers to get their loans completed. The bank’s local appraisal process (no third-party system) makes it possible to close in 30 days or less. In-house underwriting, processing and closing processes provide clients with a faster and more enjoyable mortgage experience.


With all those accolades, we at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency are proud to welcome Shawn Huss from First Place Bank to our family of partners. With mortgage rates at the lowest they have been in a long-time, now is the time to take action. Shawn is offering a free evaluation of your mortgage needs. Visit him on the web or give him a call at (513) 624-3030 to start the process today.

7 tips to Tricking your Trick or Treat Costume Budget

Trick or Treat… give me something good to eat. It is time for the young and the young at heart to dress up and have a howling good time. The National Retail Federation has said that families are spending an average of almost $80 this year on Halloween festivities, from the costumes, to the candy and the decorations. This is an increase from the $72.31 that the average family spent last year.

Families are expected to spend the largest portion of the Halloween budget on costumes. To help you out, we have compiled a list of 7 ways you can save on your Halloween costumes.

1. Swap it.
Do a costume swap with other families in your neighborhood or in your community of friends.  Check to see if there is a mom’s group in your area that does a costume swap.

2. Use what is in Your Closet.
Get creative with items you may already have. An over-sized orange sweatshirt with black felt eyes and mouth attached and plumped up with pillows underneath, gives you the start of a jack-o-lantern. Add some brown face paint and a brown beret and you have completed the stem to be a walking pumpkin.

3. Make a trip to a consignment or thrift shop.
Go to a local thrift store for used costumes or for great possibilities to be creative at a fraction of the cost of full retail.

4. Buy Late.
Get next year’s costume right after this year’s Halloween. Retailers always run specials after the holiday to reduce their inventory.

Ballerina dress.jpg5. Go Online.
Check out online stores like E-Bay or Thred-up.  This dress was found on Thred-up for $8.99. Add tights, a simple bow, ballet shoes and sparkly make-up (that you may already have) and you have created a beautiful ballerina.

6. Sell Last Year’s Costume.
Alternatively, use E-bay or Craigslist to sell the costume you wore last year. Use the money you make to purchase your new costume.

7. Make your own make-up from common household items. Click here, for great tips on how to do that.



Now, that you are set with your costume, here are links to the Tri-State and Dayton Metro Beggar’s Nights for 2012.  As always, stay safe and make this a holiday of more treats than tricks.


Seat Belts and Air Bags: The Life They Save Could be Yours or Someone You Love

Once upon a time, cars and trucks existed without seat belts or air bags and even well-behaved children roamed freely in the backseat.  Flash forward to 2012, where seat belts are manufactured in every vehicle and their use is mandatory for the driver in all states but New Hampshire.  Air bags have been mandatory in cars since 1998.

Has the legislation made any difference to the number of lives saved?

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System General Estimates System report (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) says that from 1987-2009, child restraints, safety belts and frontal air bags have been attributed to saving a combined total of 307,432 lives.

Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that the use of seat belts in cars reduces the risk of a fatal injury for front-seat passengers by 45 percent.  For occupants of light trucks, the reduction in risk is even more startling. Light-truck passengers who fasten their seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent.<img style="margin: 5px; float: right;" alt="bigstock-Safety-Female-Driver-Fastenin-7302384.png" src="” />

To add to the effectiveness of your seat belt and air bags system, here are some pointers to follow:

1. Always wear your safety belt, even for short trips or on a day when you are dressed to the nines and are loath to get your outfit wrinkly. Check your vehicle’s manual for the proper way to use and adjust the safety belts for your vehicle.

2. Never put the shoulder harness strap behind your back. It cannot do its job of protecting you if it is not in its proper place.

3. Do not rely only on the air bag deployment  for your safety. Air bags are intended as a supplemental restraint system in the case of an accident and are best used in conjunction with not as a substitute for safety belts.

4. Children 12 and under should be properly restrained and should be buckled in the back seat. They should not ride in the front seat unless there is no other option.

5. Infants and children should ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat “for as long as possible” according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. Follow the guidelines of the manufacturer for the maximum height and weight a child can be that is recommended for that specific car seat.

6. A rear-facing car seat should be buckled into the center of the back seat. The center is 43% safer than either of the sides. If more than one child is in the backseat, the front-facing child should get the center position.

7. Be aware of the air bag malfunction light. If it stays lit for longer than 10 seconds or so after you start your vehicle, there may be an issue with your air bag system. Stay on the safe side and have the problem looked into and fixed.

Buckle up and stay safe! You are important to us.

Your allies in safety ~ Barker, Beck, Collins and Kronauge Agency.

Have a Ghoulish Good Time with our Go! Weekend Picks

Our Go! Weekend Picks for October 20-21 feature fall celebrations of all kinds. The weather this weekend looks to be cool but mostly sunny. It’s a great weekend to get out and enjoy activities of the season.


For the Family

Adventure Acres located in Bellbrook, OH features 4 different corn mazes that meander through 11.5 miles of trails. While winding your way through the corn mazes, you will get to have the fun of playing 3 maze games.  Gather clues or finish tasks at designated spots along the maze while playing Farm Tracks, Check Points Reward Game and FSI: Farm Scene Investigation.


Besides the mazes, there are a diverse array of activities ranging from corn cannons, cow train, hayrides and pumpkin patches to keep your family entertained and having fun.


For the Festival Lover

Circleville Pumpkin Show, Circleville, OH. Go and enjoy all things pumpkin.


For theater buffs

Dracula finishes its run at the Dayton Playhouse this weekend. Professor Van Helsing and his brave helpers are on a quest to rid the world of the evil Count Dracula. Watch as the action unfolds, culminating in a classic battle between good and evil.


For a much scarier way to celebrate the season

If you are looking to experience a haunted house with alleged a real haunted history, The Dent Schoolhouse on Harrison Avenue in Cincinnati is the one to visit.


This haunted attraction is held in an actual school that was built in 1894. As the story is told, for nearly 50 years, the school was looked upon as the place to send your children for a great education. Things changed in 1942 when it is rumored that several unruly children who attended the school mysteriously disappeared.  Charlie, the janitor, explained away the strange smells coming from the basement as an issue with the sewer pipes.  Over the next 13 years, several more children who went to the school disappeared, never to be seen again.  In 1955, concerned parents stormed the building and discovered the remains of the children in the basement. Charlie, the janitor, was never to be seen again.


Here is what others are saying about this haunted house attraction:


Top Haunts Magazine: Rated #2 in the nation

Ohio Valley Haunts: “Among the most elite haunted houses in the region”

Haunted House “…this certainly is a must see event.


Whatever you do this weekend, all of us at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency hope you stay safe and healthy. Make it a great one!






General Liability Insurance: Basic Questions Answered

What is General Liability Insurance?
In layman terms, general liability insurance is primarily for businesses to protect their assets from incidents where the business causes bodily injury or property damage to others. Our society is very litigious and even a seemingly small event can lead to a large lawsuit. A business man or woman is wise to be prepared.

Who needs it?
Any business, including a home-based business, is well-advised to have some form of general liability insurance to protect themselves and their livelihood.

How is it purchased?
General liability can be purchased on its own or as a part of a package. With a package, liability and property insurance are bundled into one policy. It is best to talk with your agent here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency about your specific needs.

How much coverage does your business need?
Most general liability policies start with a one million dollar limit. An umbrella policy may be purchased for higher limits.

What is the difference between General Liability Insurance and Umbrella Insurance?
General liability insurance specifies the maximum amount of coverage available in one policy period. This is called an aggregate limit. There is also a limit that is specified on a per occurrence basis.

Umbrella liability insurance, just like the name applies, is coverage on top of the underlying policies. It is issued in increments of 1 million dollars.

For example, if a business is successfully sued for $1,500,000 and the general liability limit is $1,000,000, the business is responsible for the $500,000 shortage.

Some companies choose to purchase umbrella liability insurance to cover such situations. Umbrella insurance starts where general liability coverage ends, covering payments that exceed the limits on other policies. It also provides additional coverage for liabilities that standard liability policies do not cover.

As you can see, adding general liability and umbrella insurance coverage can be wise investments for the benefit of your company and your long-term livelihood. Should you have questions about your specific business, your advisors here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency are only a phone call away. We look forward to hearing from you!


Our Weekend Picks, October 13-14

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Our Weekend Pick for the weekend of October 13 and 14 is the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville, OH.


At the festival you will find culinary delights made from the festival’s namesake ingredient.  The items range from sweet to savory.  Although you want to turn up your nose at the idea of fudge, donuts, cookies and pies all made with sauerkraut, your taste buds may be surprised at the sweet deliciousness of the treats. On the more savory side you will find sauerkraut pizza, cabbage rolls, polish cabbage soup, and many pork and sauerkraut combinations. If you have never had a German sundae, it is well worth the stop at their booth. (Think baked potato smothered with sauerkraut, cheese, sour cream, bacon bits and green olive. Yum!) Other food options are available for those who do not fancy sauerkraut, so do not despair. You won’t go home hungry.


While the food may be quite delicious, the true reason to go is the over 450 quality artisan booths that you will find at the festival. From photography, to crafts of all types, to lotions, to pet items to clothing and accessories, there is something to appeal to everyone. The festival is a juried show which means that the each artisan there has been reviewed and approved by the jury committee.


Starting from its humble beginnings in 1970, the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival has grown from an attendance of 1500 people that first year to an estimated 350,000 visitors.  That’s a lot of people. More than one review on the internet recommends getting to the festival early for the greatest enjoyment of your day.


Shuttle parking is provided from the Waynesville High School. The red arrows on the map below indicate where the high school is located. Enjoy your weekend!

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Health Care Tax Penalty: Facts to Know

The historic U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a health care reform law, occurred in June of 2012. One of the facets of this law is the mandate for all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

So how exactly does this work and how will you be affected, if at all?

Let’s tackle the subject, question by question.

When does the mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty go into affect?
Starting in 2014, every legal resident of the U.S will be required to have health insurance or they will be subject to a tax penalty.

How many people are expected to be affected?
According to the Urban Institute, 26 million Americans (or 8% of the population) will be required to get coverage or pay the penalty. Of that 26 million, 18.7 million people will qualify for subsidies or assistance of some kind to pay for or offset their health care insurance premium costs. That leaves 7.3 million or 2% of the American population, according to the numbers calculated by the Urban Institute, that will have to purchase a plan or pay the penalty. Mainstream media has put the number at 6 million Americans who will be affected by the mandate.

What is the minimum penalty?
Starting in 2014, the minimum penalty will be $95 for an individual. Once it is fully implemented in 2016, the minimum penalty would be $695 for an individual person. The amount could be higher depending on income. Exemptions will be in place for low-income individuals. Starting in 2017, the minimum amount to be assessed will rise each year with inflation.

How is the penalty assessed against a family?
The minimum amount for a family is set at 3 times the per-person fee, no matter how many people are in the household.  Children under 18 years old or younger are assessed at half of the adult fee. For example: a family of 4, where both of the children are under 18, would be liable for a minimum penalty of $2,085 in 2016 (3 x $695).

How are those with higher taxable incomes affected?
Their penalty will be 2.5 percent of the household income that exceeds the low income threshold.  The income threshold in 2011, for a person filing an individual tax return is 9,000 and is $19,500 for a couple filing jointly.

Who collects the penalty?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What if a person refuses to pay?
As the law is stated, the IRS can sue the person(s) for double the amount of tax penalty that was owed. At this point, the IRS has not defined exactly how they will enforce this. The law does not allow the IRS to criminally prosecute a taxpayer for failure to pay the penalty. Additionally, the IRS is not allowed to file a tax lien or levy against a taxpayer’s property or bank accounts.

The bottom line is that most Americans, approximately 92%, will not be subject to the health care tax penalty. Even then, of the balance of 8 percent of Americans, only one fourth of them will actually be in the position of having to choose to pay a full premium for health care or be subject to paying the health care tax penalty.

Go! Our Weekend Picks for October 5-7

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Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire, Fiery Foods Show

Spicy! 55 vendors and over 350 samples of their fiery fare will be at Jungle Jim’s Fairfield location to tempt your taste buds.


Feeling particularly adventurous? Then, test your mettle in the Arena of Fire where you can register for one or more of the hot, gross or sticky contests.


Should the heat get to be too much, you can always head over to the Velvet Ice booth for a cooling treat.


Are jalapenos, mustard and red chili powder staples in your kitchen? Want to add some variety to your tantalizing hot chili pepper.jpghomemade fare?  Check out the Jungle Jim’s Cooking School ~ Cooking with Fire class taking place on Saturday at the Weekend of Fire from 11:00AM- 6:00PM.  Menu items in the class range from appetizers, to sauces, to a main course dish and even a dessert. With names like Fire in the Hole Shooter with Beer Chaser, Homemade Chilean Pebre Sauce and Frozen Red Chili Chocolate Mousse, the foods are destined to light the fire of inspiration in your kitchen. Cost for the demonstration and tasting is $50.



Saturday, October 6, 2012 11AM – 8PM

Sunday, October 7, 2012 11AM – 5PM

5440 Dixie Highway ~ Fairfield, OH 4501   



You may also be interested in this:


Old West Festival

Explore the Old West at one-of-a-kind event in Ohio where modern-day mid-western folks can participate in life as it would have been in 1878.  Reminiscent of a John Wayne movie, drink sarsaparilla, pan for gold, get sworn as deputy, ride the trail in a covered wagon or duck your head as you watch a “real live” gun fight.  Young and old alike will enjoy mingling with authentically clan interpreters and walking around this permanent old west town.

This Fifth Annual Event ends this weekend. Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00am – 6:00PM

Click here for more details.





6 Ways to Prepare Your Car For Old Man Winter’s Icy Grip

Sweaters are making their way out storage. Leaves are changing colors. Pumpkins are dotting the landscape and cinnamon is the spice of the season. Now is the time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the upcoming cold weather we typically get here in Ohio.


The following tips serve as a reminder of vehicle maintenance you can do to prevent old man winter from damaging your vehicle with his icy grip.Steve Brown image.jpg



1.    Oil

Make sure the oil you have in the engine is the correct viscosity for winter temperatures. Oil tends to get thicker as it gets colder making it more difficult for it to properly lubricate your engine. Follow the instructions of your owner’s manual for which oil viscosity would be best for your vehicle.


2.    Radiator fluid

Make sure that you have followed the correct ratio of antifreeze to water as it is noted in your owner’s manual. If you are unsure of the antifreeze/water ratio currently in your vehicle, you can purchase an antifreeze tester. If the percent isn’t what it should be, have the radiator drained and refilled to the proper ratio.


3.    Battery

Before the weather turns too nippy, your battery needs a once-over. Check the posts and the battery tray for corrosion, which can lead to poor contact and loss of a positive charge. Carry jumper cables with you, just in case you or a fellow cold weather warrior, are faced with a vehicle that won’t start on a bitter-cold winter day.


4.    Belts and hoses

Cold weather can crack and split belts and hoses. Before the weather becomes bitter cold, look over your belts and hoses for wear and tear and replace any that need it.


5.    Tires

As the air outside cools, your tire pressure is likely to drop. Expect to lose 1 pound per square inch of pressure for every drop of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Low tire pressure will have a negative impact on the traction you will get in the nasty ice, snow and wet road conditions that winter typically brings. Proper tire pressure will give you an edge when you need it most. If it is expected to be a really snowy winter and you can afford it, consider purchasing snow tires that are designed to give you the best traction in wintery driving conditions.


6.    Visibility

To ensure the safest driving conditions, make sure that you can see out of your car and that others can see you. Check your wiper blades to make sure they have full contact with your windshield and are not worn. Driving in a blinding ice/snow storm when only part of the windshield is cleared enough for you to see, is an accident waiting to happen. Test your head and tail lights to make sure they are functioning properly. Fill your windshield wiper fluid reservoir (and make sure it stays filled throughout the winter.)


As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. With a little bit of preparation now, hopefully, you can be warm and safe in your travels this winter.


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