Five Below, the Five-and-Dime for the iPod Generation, Debuts First Pittsburgh-Area Stores

Five Below, the leading retailer of extreme-value merchandise to teens and pre-teens, is making a grand entrance to the Pittsburgh market on Nov. 6 with three new locations in Pittsburgh, Butler, and Cranberry, Pa. Just in time for the holiday season, teens and pre-teens as well as other value-minded consumers in the Pittsburgh region will be able to choose from thousands of trend-right, high-quality products, all priced from $1 to $5.

"It's like a five-and-dime for the iPod generation," says Tom Vellios, CEO and co-founder of Five Below. "With items such as DVDs, games, fashion must-haves, cell phone accessories, school supplies, and even Steelers merchandise, Five Below is a prime destination for teen spending."

Five Below is leading a new consumer trend of offering great value that stretches the dollar during an economic time when it is most needed. Five Below offers teen and pre-teen customers--a market that spends over 150 billion dollars a year--the power to spend their allowance and babysitting money on products including fashion scarves, board games, nail polish, T-shirts, and accessories for your iPod/iPhone, and brand names such as Adidas, Puma, Wilson, Franklin, Mead, and Crayola. With amazing merchandise at extraordinary prices, Five Below is winning over kids and parents along the East Coast.

"Offering high-quality, trend-right merchandise at extreme-value prices has proven more valuable than ever this past year," says David Schlessinger, Chairman and co-founder of Five Below. "We're extremely pleased to now offer this unbeatable value to consumers in the Pittsburgh market, and excited to continue our growth in the region."

This expansion marks the retailer's debut in the region, and grows the total number of Five Below locations to 102. The new stores are part of an initiative to extend the retail chain to more than 200 locations over the next two to three years.

The new Pittsburgh-area stores, averaging 8,000 sq. ft., are located in the Waterworks Shopping Center at 950 Freeport Road in Pittsburgh; the Butler Crossing Shopping Center at 730 Butler Crossing in Butler, Pa.; and the Cranberry Square Shopping Center at 1000 Cranberry Square Drive in Cranberry, Pa. November 6 will also mark the grand opening of three additional Five Below locations in Altoona, Pa.; Enfield, Conn.; and Philadelphia.

To celebrate the grand openings of the new locations, ribbon cutting ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. EST. Each store will be giving away Five Below T-shirts, Five Cent hot dogs, and other prizes, including one $100 Five Below shopping spree.

Hours of operation during the new stores' grand opening weekend are: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.

Five Below operates in nine states on the East Coast, from New Hampshire to Virginia. By the end of 2010, the company plans to open 8 to 12 stores in the Pittsburgh market, and bring its total to approximately 200 locations.

Photos of the new stores, Five Below merchandise, and company executives are available.

ABOUT FIVE BELOW, INC.

Five Below is the leading retailer of extreme-value merchandise to the teen and pre-teen market. Five Below's dynamic assortment of merchandise, all of which is priced between $1.00 and $5.00, includes: sports, games, fashion accessories, bath and body, candy, room decor and storage, crafts, stationery and school supplies, software and dvd's, books, electronics accessories, party, novelty and "gag" items, and seasonal items. Five Below is based in Philadelphia, Pa. For more information about Five Below, please visit www.fivebelow.com.

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Traffic Signs for Block Play - Set of 15 School Supplies

Stop look and listen to the features of our terrific traffic signs. Our 15 wooden signs offer the greatest variety and best value on the block! Each 5 1/2H sign is beautifully detailed and authentic - right down to the new fluorescent yellow-green school crossing sign! Guaranteed to take block play in new directions. See Pricing Here
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Gold Jingle Bells - 150 Pieces Discount School Supplies

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Flexi-Cut Cups - Set of 5 Discount School Supply Discount Code

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Big Farm Animals - Set of 6 DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Big realistic farm animals constructed to be durable and last through the years. Includes: brown cow dairy cow donkey horse pig and sheep. 10L x 6H. Hollow. Ages 3 years and up. Styles may vary. See Pricing Here
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Crayola So Big Crayon Classpack - Set of 200 Discount School Supply Coupon

Crayola Crayons make coloring exciting and fun. Each Classpack includes 200 crayons 25 of each color: black blue brown green orange red violet and yellow. Extra large 5L x 9/16 diameter.
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Big Alphabet and Picture Stencils 13L - Set of 26 School Supplies

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1000 Unifix Cubes Discount School Supply Discount Code

Unifix provides children from preschool through elementary grades with a hands-on experience in number and math exploration. Comes in 10 assorted colors. The cubes measure 3/4. Made of durable plastic. See Pricing Here
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Big Fun! CD DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

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Colorations No-Drip Foam Paint 8 oz. Discount School Supply Coupon

Kids can't wait to experiment with our fluffy Colorations No-Drip Foam Paint. And you'll love the great value and convenience. It's ready right out of the can with no drips runs or spills and it dries quickly. An 8 oz. can equals 14 full cups of awesome art activities. Colorations Foam Paint is completely safe non-toxic does not contain CFC's and is environmentally friendly. Washable from most fabrics. Choose black blue brown green magenta orange red turquoise violet white yellow or the set of all 11 brilliant colors. See Pricing Here
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5' CHANGE TABLE WITH LEFT HAND SINK Discount School Supply Discount Code

Sliding doors on both sides with one adjustable shelf. Roll paper dispenser changing well and hand wash sink are all part of the one-piece molded top. Includes sink fixtures. Assembled. Plumbing required. Change pad and paper rolls sold separately. 36H x 23D x 59W. 5 Year Warranty. See Pricing Here
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Rainbow Accents Cupboard DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Perfect storage for play dishes and has one shelf inside and one shelf outside of the cabinet. Our Rainbow Accents furniture features the highest quality 5/8 melamine board flexible thermo-fused edgebands full-length piano hinges rounded corners kickplates and recessed write & wipe backs. Lifetime guarantee for defects in materials and labor. Soft freckled gray melamine base comes with accents of your choice in 5 colors: blue purple red teal and yellow. Please specify color choice when ordering. Unit measures 20W x 15D x 35H. (Ships within 14 Days)
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Crayola Regular Crayons - Set of 16 Discount School Supply Coupon

Regular-sized crayons in classic colors. Set of 16 includes the classic colors plus blue green blue violet carnation pink red orange red violet white yellow green and yellow orange. Each crayon is 3 5/8 x 5/16. Non-toxic. See Pricing Here
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Best Value Tape Discount School Supplies

Our best value tape is a 108' roll with a 1 core. See #DISP for our best value tape dispenser.
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Full Strip Stapler Discount School Supply Discount Code

Our best value full strip stapler. See Pricing Here
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Road Builder Set DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

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Easy-Grip Bug Story Stampers 3 - Set of 12 Discount School Supply Coupon

Set includes 12 sturdy Easy-Grip stampers in a clear carry-case accompanied by an activity guide full of ideas activities and recommended books to enhance your bug unit! 3 in diameter. See Pricing Here
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Bug Rubbing Plates - Set of 6 School Supplies

6 detailed plates for rubbing detailed realistic insects. Add beautiful bugs to art activities. Package of 6 each 7 1/2 square. Idea guide included. See Pricing Here
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Guardian Angel 3'10 x 5'4 Discount School Supplies

This comforting richly detailed carpet perfectly demonstrates the soothing presence of the spirit and that your guardian angel is never far away. The picture comes from antique Victorian lithographs. This STAINMASTER carpet is CRI Green Label Plus Certified and features anti-stain and anti-soil treatment incredible fade resistance a lifetime limited wear warranty SoftFlex backing (a tightly woven flexible secondary back that eliminates wrinkles and provides incredible stability/extra protection) and more. See Pricing Here
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Butterfly Garden Discount School Supplies

Watch butterflies grow and let them go with this new pop up version of the popular Butterfly Garden. New and improved butterfly house measures 11H x 10 1/2 in diameter and is made of see-through mesh with a clear plastic zippered top and fabric handle. Kit also contains accessories guide feeding materials for students to raise their own butterflies and a coupon (P/H fee $3.00) to be returned to the factory for nutrient and 5 live butterfly larvae. Students will enjoy watching the different stages. It takes approximately 3 weeks for the complete development of your butterflies. The larvae are shipped from the factory within 3 days of receipt of your coupon. Cannot be shipped to Hawaii. See Pricing Here
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Colored Plastic Bug Bodies - 1 lb. Discount School Supply Discount Code

Use craft materials to turn these 2 plastic bug bodies into colorful creatures! 75 pieces. Activity guide included. See Pricing Here
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Flingers - Set of 12 DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Stretch and launch these soft tactile reptiles. An amusing thumb and finger strengthening tool for kids. Assorted styles. See Pricing Here
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Geo Snaps - Set of 156 Discount School Supply Coupon

Click together shapes for free-form geometric designs and patterns. Create a flat piece that can be formed into a 3-D figure. Comes in 6 colors: 18 pentagons 60 squares and 78 triangles. Unlocking tool included. Largest is 2 square. Ages 4+. See Pricing Here
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http://a248.e.akamai.net/7/1892/937/f56fbb0e0e3d5f/www.discountschoolsupply.com/images/products/00846.jpg

12 Plastic Paint Brushes slightly bigger than normal Chubby Brushes 7 1/4 x 5/8.
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Rainbow Paper Craft Bags - Set of 50 Discount School Supply Discount Code

These colorful craft bags are great for puppets prizes projects or scraps. Use them for quick gift bags or stenciling. Set includes 50 bags each measures 5 x 3 x 9 3/4. See Pricing Here
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6-n-1 Easel DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

This 6-N-1 easel is the ultimate in versatility at an amazing price! Gray lightning board surface on one side with a red flannel tackable surface on the other. The unit also serves as a magnetic tack board marker board chalkboard projection surface hook and loop surface tackable surface and big book holder with magnetic book ledge. 47H x 24W. See Pricing Here
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5-n-1 Easel Discount School Supply Coupon

Features of the 5-n-1 Easel: magnetic Board chalkboard flannel board big book stand & a tackable cork surface behind flannel board. Folds flat for storage. Measures 24W x 47H.
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Around The World Food Set - 14 Pieces Discount School Supplies

Help children celebrate different traditions and cultures with our Around-The-World food set. Each piece is made of heavy-duty vinyl for years of use. Ages 3 years and up. See Pricing Here
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Alphabet Bingo Game Discount School Supplies

Now even better with more play options flexible difficulty levels and photos for real-life learning. This game contains 36 different playing cards caller's mat and cards 250 markers and a sturdy storage box. For 3-36 players. See Pricing Here
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Christmas Connection joins with holiday dinner: Drop in donations forces St. Vincent de Paul, churches to combine annual valley events

Two annual Christmas events in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley are joining this year for a combined gift give-away and holiday dinner in December.

St. Vincent de Paul's Christmas Connection is partnering with a community dinner organized by Catholic churches in the area to provide new toys for children, food boxes for the homebound and a Christmas dinner for people living in Lewiston, Clarkston and Asotin.

For the past 23 years, Christmas Connection was a separate event and the community dinner was conducted the following day. A decrease in donations has fueled the change, organizers said.

"It was a very hard decision to make," said Ellen Dekan, secretary of the St. Vincent de Paul board of directors. "Last year we went in the hole with Christmas Connection, and we felt like this was a good time to do the partnering, with the economy the way it is."

Going backwards financially on Christmas Connection hinders the social services provided by St. Vincent de Paul on the other 364 days of the year, she said. The non-profit organization serves between 300 to 400 needy people a month by providing such items as food, gas vouchers, household goods, clothing and school supplies.

Because of the shortfall in donations, Christmas Connection won't be providing grocery vouchers this year, but people will be served dinner at the combined event, Dekan said. The dinner and gift giveaway is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 12 at the All Saints Catholic School gym at St. Stanislaus in Lewiston.

Scarves, hats and gloves are given away at the dinner, Operation Wishbook will provide books for children and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be on hand to greet youngsters, Dekan said.

People who want to attend the event and receive toys for children to age 18 can sign up from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 23 through Dec. 4 at the St. Vincent de Paul stores in Lewiston and Clarkston. The program is open to residents of Lewiston, Clarkston and Asotin. Those signing up must bring proof of residency and photo identification.

More information is available by calling the executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, Shannon Koskenmaki, at (509) 758-7061. Disabled or homebound residents can sign up by calling the above number.

Donations are needed to purchase gifts for kids and the dinner, Koskenmaki said. New toys or monetary donations may be dropped off or sent to Christmas Connection, St. Vincent de Paul, 604 Second St., Clarkston.

"We still want to see smiles on faces and help make good memories," Dekan said. "This is a celebration of the season, a family event for the whole community."

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Teacher selected for 'A Day Made Better'

OfficeMax recently announced that Katherine Davis from Park Hills Elementary School was Selected for "A Day Made Better" surprise visit.

Davis, first-grade teacher at Park Hills Elementary School, is one of 1,000 teachers across the nation who received more than $1,000 worth of school supplies as part of "A Day Made Better," OfficeMax's national cause campaign facilitated in partnership with nonprofit Adopt-A-Classroom.

Gwendolyn McAllister, guidance counselor, nominated Davis because she exemplifies passion, dedication, and innovation in the classroom.

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Clay Mega Set - 28 Pieces Discount School Supply Discount Code

Constructed with high-quality plastic. Includes: 2 clay presses (4 slide strips) 3 rolling pins (6W) 3 rollers (3W) 3 smooth-edged and 3 flute-edged pizza cutters 4 double-sided 8 shaping tools 3 spatulas (2W) 4 small shaping tools (5L) and 3 triangular spatulas (2 1/2W). See Pricing Here
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Fountain Connector DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Connect two 2-liter bottles (one filled 1/2 way with water) turn upside down and watch as air lifts the water up higher than its origin and creates an amazing fountain. Water is colored with our Colorations Liquid Watercolor. Note: Two-liter bottles not included. See Pricing Here
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Stretchy Reptiles - Set of 12 Discount School Supply Coupon

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Sea Theme Beads - 1/2 lb. School Supplies

Translucent tropical beads in assorted ocean shapes and colors. Beads are approximately 1/2 each with a threading hole of 1/16. 864 beads. See Pricing Here
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Assorted Colors Poster Board 22 x 28 - Pack of 100 Discount School Supplies

Try our double-sided uncoated smoth hard finish poster board for signs charts or crafts. Has a 4-ply thickness. 100 sheets per package includes 10 sheets each of black blue brown holiday green light blue orange red pink magenta and lemon yellow. 22 x 28. Made from recycled paper. See Pricing Here
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Sensory Walk - 12 Logs Discount School Supply Discount Code

Our colorful 12-piece sensory path sets create unique balancing challenges and increase tactile stimuli simultaneously! Link the curved and straight pieces together to make a variety of paths for one or more children to enjoy. Made of strong plastic that will hold up to 260 pounds. Straight pieces measure 17 1/2L x 5W x 2 1/2 H. Ages 3 and up. See Pricing Here
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IncredibleFoam Classroom Pack DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Add new excitement and fun to your next dough project! Colorations IncredibleFoam Dough is like no other dough you've used and it's a great value! Tiny colorful foam beads are combined with a non-toxic adhesive to create fun new textures and shapes not found in regular dough. Children will also develop fine-motor skills and creativity. It doesn't dry out is easy to clean and doesn't stick to desk surfaces. See Pricing Here
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Colorations IncredibleFoam Dough - Set of 7 Discount School Supply Coupon

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Colorations IncredibleFoam Dough - Sampler Pack School Supplies

Add new excitement and fun to your next dough project! Colorations Foam Dough is like no other dough you've used and it's a great value! Tiny colorful styrofoam beads are combined with a non-toxic adhesive to create fun new textures and shapes not found in regular dough. Children develop fine-motor skills and creativity while having fun! It doesn't dry out is easy to clean and doesn't stick to desk surfaces. New sampler pack with eight 1 oz. packs in: black blue green orange red violet white and yellow. Ages 3 years and up. See Pricing Here
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The Itsy Bitsy Spider Song & Story Set Discount School Supplies

There is much more than an itsy bitsy bit of humor in this wonderful retelling of a classic favorite. Kids will delight in hearing about the adventurous spider's escapades.This set includes 12 felt story pieces word card sheets an activity guide and plenty of hook dots. Note: Books and hook compatible storyboards are sold separately. See Pricing Here
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Elmwood's venerable Fair Store shuttering after 120 years

ELMWOOD -- The handwritten signs on the storefront window indicate a really good sale is in progress inside. But it's not a happy sale. It's an everything-must-go sale. After 120 years of continuous operation, the Fair Store, an anchor of Elmwood's downtown and an always-been-there institution in town, is going out of business.

"It's heartbreaking," said a misty-eyed Tammie Weaver on Tuesday. Weaver bought the building and the business in 1999 and was just the third owner in the store's long history. "But the economy has killed me. I have a real estate tax bill due, and I can't afford to pay it."

The downtown building on Magnolia Street, across from Central Park and the famed Lorado Taft "Pioneers" statue, was built by owner C.A. Vance in the 1880s. It opened for business as a general goods store around 1890 and was part of one of the earliest department store chains in the country. There were Fair Stores throughout Illinois and points south, and Weaver believed her Fair Store may be the last one standing. Though not for much longer.

"There might be one in Chicago, but I think we're the last link in the chain," she said.

Vance, unbelievably, ran the store until he sold it to Bert Sparks in 1945. When Sparks died in 1999, the store was left to Donna Turner, who was its manager and bookkeeper for almost 40 years and who is Tammie Weaver's aunt. Weaver bought the Fair Store from Aunt Donna.

In the Sparks era, the store sold everything. His motto was, "If we don't have it, you don't need it." But the retail landscape had changed by the time the store changed owners for just the second time in 110 years in 1999. Elmwood shoppers, like shoppers everywhere, relied on the big box stores in the bigger cities to find their discounted goods for the home.

"The business morphed into something more eclectic," Weaver said. "We wanted to stock things you couldn't find at Wal-Mart."

The store succeeded. Weaver introduced bedding plants for sale in the spring and summer, and the sidewalk in front of the store was crammed full of them. She'd leave the plants outside overnight, and would often find notes from customers who had taken plants after hours and asked to add the cost to their tabs.

"They always paid, and I never got ripped off," Weaver said.

This year was different. The lousy spring weather led to a lousy bedding plant sales season. As the worsening global economy embedded itself everywhere, including small town America, Weaver's customer base declined. The Fair Store was once the hot spot for school supplies for the small city's student population, but Weaver said not one Elmwood school kid purchased school supplies in the store this year.

"I can't buy wholesale what people buy retail at Wal-Mart," Weaver said. "I buy notebooks, for 80 cents and bump it up to $1.60 to make some profit, then bump it down to $1.40 or so to try to sell them. Wal-Mart sells the same notebook as a loss leader for 10 cents."

Weaver is trying to sell everything on the shelves -- there were four mirrored disco balls and lots of luxury goat milk soap available Tuesday -- then sell all the fixtures as well at a discount. She expects she'll stay open for a couple of weeks, then close the books by the end of the year. The store is for sale. She has no plans for her no-Fair-Store future.

"I leave with absolutely no resentment or bitterness about anything. I've loved it here. This town has been very supportive of me," Weaver said.

She won't voice any disappointment, but Elmwood resident Chuck Brannan, who is 55 and first shopped in the Fair Store before he was old enough to go to school, was more than happy to.

"My parents taught me to shop in my hometown no matter what," Brannan said. "People were expressing surprise that the store was closing because they didn't know it was struggling at all. Then they'd tell you they hadn't been in the store themselves for years. The people of Elmwood don't realize what will be lost when they lose this store."

Weaver isn't looking forward to the final weeks of business.

"It's not the big moments for me, but the everyday greetings," she said. "It's not the business I'll miss, it's the people I'll miss."

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or at shilyard@pjstar.com.

Credit: Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.

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UDA keeps superintendent at helm

Elaine E. Eib will remain at the helm as Upper Dauphin Area School District superintendent.

The school board voted 7-0 on Oct. 13 to renew Eib's contract for five years, beginning July 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2015. Board Vice President John E. Blyler was absent.

"We certainly appreciate your hard work and efforts," board President Dennis L. Henninger told Eib, as well as commending her building administrators.

"Thank you for your faith in me," Eib said.

Before the vote, board member Michael Fisher had asked about 125 unused sick days from a previous employer that were written into the contract. Henninger said that item had already been determined before Eib came to the district.

No details about Eib's salary were included in the five-year plan, according to Vaughn D. Shope, business manager/secretary. In July, Eib's salary was approved at $107,500 for the 2009-10 school year.

Fisher also had questions about UDA's marked improvement on its standardized testing, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. Fisher praised the district's administrators and staff for doing a "fantastic job," but also asked if the curriculum had been set aside while students were encouraged to take practice tests over and over again to try to boost performance.

"Is there any truth to that accusation?" Fisher asked Eib.

Eib assured the board the curriculum is not pushed aside and stressed that what is seen in the PSSA is imbedded into the curriculum. Through benchmark assessments, like the "Study Island" program, for example, the district is gaining feedback on students' progress four times a year, she said.

"It enables us to measure if they're where they should be," Eib said.

In other business, board member Gerald Wiest made a motion to table approval of the activity and club advisers for the 2009-10 school year. Wiest asked Shope if all organizations had filed the appropriate paperwork requested by the district. Some had not.

Shope said the district needs to have copies of the organizations' bylaws, officer lists and treasurers' reports before approval can be considered. The board tabled the matter.

In other action, the board:

- Approved an expulsion hearing waiver for a student. No details were provided publicly on what behavior prompted the action or who was involved.

- Held a 50-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters.

- Reviewed the invoices for several departments, including a $4,394 cost for family consumer science supplies. Shope said the cost reflected the purchase of five realistic-type babies with three-year warranties each, "Real Care" baby supply pack and an $899 pregnancy simulator (body vest). The invoice was approved.

- Approved the district goals for 2009-10.

- Approved the acceptance of E-rate discounts for telecommunication, networking and Internet service provider charges as awarded by the Universal Services Administrative Company and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

- Approved the following substitute teachers: Jeffrey Miller, Kevin Shadle, Brenda Lawrence, Douglas Rubendall, Jennifer Minnich, Shayna Martz and Dana Lomma.

- Approved the teachers' salary level adjustments for 2009-10.

- Approved winter coaching staff for the 2009-10 school year.

- Approved Judy Reed's retirement allowance payout at 208.5 days at $50 per day for a total of $10,425.

- Approved Marcia Schell as the guidance secretary at the high school, replacing Sharon Peters, at $8.85 per hour. Director Tracy Schrey voted no.

- Approved the student-led club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, that will meet before or after school with Jan Hoffner as club sponsor.

- Approved Cherylene Bopp as a van driver for Harris Transportation for the remainder of the current school year.

- Approved the resignation of Kathy Reiner as a personal care aide effective Oct. 5.

- Approved Ron Hamme's request to take 50 students to New York City from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. March 6 at a cost of $10 per student. The cost would be paid for by students as a museum entry fee.

- Approved the following people to serve on the Policy Committee for the 2009-10 school year: Eib, Wiest, Abbey Walshaw-Wertz, Angela Maurer, Barbara Minchoff, Susan Clouser, Alayna Peters, Benjamin Zigner and Karen Gunderman.

Credit: The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

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BioColor Paint 16oz. - Set of 11 Discount School Supply Coupon

BioColor's creamy texture spreads easily won't crack or fade with age and shines without additives after drying. BioColor can be applied using a variety of techniques such as fingers brush spatula or any of our great paint accessories. Adheres to many surfaces including paper cardboard wood metal glass and plastic. Try all of our fun easy-to-follow activity ideas or let your imagination soar as you create your own ideas. (And we would love to hear about them when you do.) Easily washes off skin. For washing out of fabric use Zout found in our Teacher Resources section. Set includes: Black Blue Brown Green Magenta Orange Red Turquoise Violet White and Yellow. See Pricing Here
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Mini Binoculars Discount School Supplies

These cute and compact binoculars are perfect for small hands and small eyes. Each pair of heavy-duty bright yellow binoculars measures about 4 1/4L x 2 3/4W and has a crystal clear 3x magnifier. Ages 3 years and up. See Pricing Here
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Round Adjustable Height 21- 30 Table Discount School Supply Discount Code

Gather children around this durable table. Easy-to-clean pearl white laminate tabletop. Adjustable height legs with levelers. Seats 6-8. Height Adjustment 21- 30; 48Dia. (SHIPS WITHIN 2-4 WEEKS) See Pricing Here
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Bingo Bottle Refillable Markers with Tips & Caps - Set of 12 DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Make a masterpiece with Bingo Bottles! 2-oz. plastic refillable marker bottles are great for small hands that can't handle a brush. Soft sponge tips control paint flow and are perfect for making dots or lines. Sold empty in a set of 12. Extra replacement tips and stand available separately. See Pricing Here
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Round Adjustable Height 14-23 Table Discount School Supply Coupon

Gather children around this durable table. Easy-to-clean pearl white laminate tabletop. Adjustable height legs with levelers. Seats 6-8. Height Adjustment 14-23; 48Dia. (SHIPS WITHIN 2-4 WEEKS) See Pricing Here
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Giant Paper Punches - Set of 8 School Supplies

Apple bear butterfly heart star cow flower and sun. About 11/2 x 2. Shapes are 3/4. Ages 4 years and up. See Pricing Here
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BioColor Paints Gallons - Set of 11 Discount School Supply Discount Code

BioColor's creamy texture spreads easily won't crack or fade with age and shines without additives after drying. BioColor can be applied using a variety of techniques such as fingers brush spatula or any of our great paint accessories. Adheres to many surfaces including paper cardboard wood metal glass and plastic. Try all of our fun easy-to-follow activity ideas or let your imagination soar as you create your own ideas. (And we would love to hear about them when you do.) For washing out of fabric use Zout found in our Teacher Resources section. Bottles are recyclable. Set includes: black blue brown magenta orange red turquoise violet green white and yellow. See Pricing Here
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BioColor Fabric Medium 16 oz. DiscountSchoolSupply. Com Coupon

Transform your favorite fabrics into customized works of art! Turn BioColor into a permanent fabric paint with our BioColor Fabric Medium! Just pre-wash and dry the fabric (100% cotton works best). Combine 1 part Fabric Medium to 4 parts Biocolor. Mix well. Place a piece of waxed paper under fabric to prevent paint bleed-through. Paint fabric using brushes sponges stampers Nancy Bottles or Bingo Bottles. When dry heat set design by placing in the dryer for 20 minutes or pressing reverse side of the fabric with an iron for 20 seconds. Wait 5 days before laundering for best results. Comes in a 16-oz. bottle. See Pricing Here
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How Long Is It? Discount School Supplies

This oversized measuring tape is scaled in inches and centimeters. With a large carrying handle rewind knob with a clicking action and a 36 tape young children will find it easy to manipulate and learn the skill of measuring. Durable high-quality plastic. See Pricing Here
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Tri-City parents choosy on buying school supplies

Laurie Harrison bought notebooks, pencils, binders and tools for geometry as part of last-minute back-to-school shopping Thursday at the Target store in Kennewick.

She bought more items than were on her daughter's list, the Kennewick mom said. The Harrisons already had purchased most school supplies at Wal-Mart earlier, she said, adding that they didn't buy new lunchboxes and backpacks this school year, which starts Monday.

Her son Luke, a seventh-grade student at Liberty Christianin Richland, and daughter Kiran, who's in third grade at the same school, are OK with that, she said.

"I like to save money," said Harrison, who generally shops at discount chain stores.

Back-to-school shopping traffic has been fairly brisk, said Katelyn Lee, one of the managers at the Kennewick Target.

Customers have been buying school supplies and backpacks, spending on average $50, she said. She also has seen back-to-school shoppers buy headphones for their music players.

Since the end of June, Target has set up a special back-to-school section for K-12 students and put a special color code to mark things that college-bound students might need, like comforters, sheets, plastic totes, fleece blankets and butterfly chairs, Lee said.

More than 40 percent of families with students already in college or planning to attend one have yet to start shopping, a recent National Retail Federation survey found.

Parents are being careful and making careful spending decisions, said Pam Goodfellow, senior analyst at BIGresearch, which conducted the survey for the federation.

Jean Ross of West Richland said she spent about $40 at the Kennewick Target on Thursday to buy her grandson, Hawk, the school supplies he'll need when he starts sixth grade at Enterprise Middle School on Tuesday.

Everything was reasonably priced, Ross said, although she spent less money compared with what she did last year.

She got him new clothes and a backpack that he liked some time ago, Ross said.

Normally, she buys school supplies earlier in the season from an office supply store, making use of their sales. But this year, she didn't have the time, she said.

She initially was wor- ried that things would be out of stock just before school starts. But she got everything except a glue stick, Ross said.

Back-to-school sales are strong at Grigg's Department Store in Pasco, said Charlie Grigg, vice president of the company. The store has seen a strong sale of kids shoes, he said.

It's about giving customers value for their purchase, Grigg said. "We don't carry expensive brands," he said.

-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi@tricityherald.com.

Credit: Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.

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Celebrity salutes teacher who's a study in generosity

If you stay in the trenches long enough, you just might get rewarded.

Such was the case Monday at Curiale School, when Lorraine Mondi, a second-grade teacher in Bridgeport for more than two decades, was surprised by a visit from Comedy Central personality Michael Ian Black.

The star of the program, "Michael and Michael Have Issues," came to the school to present Mondi with about $1,000 in school supplies, a new chair, a printer, a digital camera and more.

"Oh, look -- tissues," Mondi said as she was unpacking the out-sized box of supplies she was awarded. "Glue sticks -- Yaaaay!" Her 20 students helped her unpack the box.

Mondi was one of 1,000 teachers nationwide surprised with the free supplies and celebrity visits from OfficeMax, a national retailer. The giveaway was staged to draw attention to the fact that some teachers typically spend hundreds of dollars every year out of their own pockets for school supplies -- $1,000 is the national average, according to the company. All of these surprise visits took place Monday, according to an OfficeMax statement.

"She's just so conscientious, just fantastic," said Curiale School Principal Audrey I. Skoda. "You might have noticed that just today she brought in a new bookcase for her classroom that she bought herself."

Supt. of Schools John Ramos said that there is $22,000 for supplies in the education budget, but that actual need is about $500,000.

"We encourage

our principals, teachers, support staff and others to project their needs so there are not any last-minute item expenses," he said. "The need is great and we truly appreciate donations like this received from our partners, companies, nonprofits and individuals to benefit our scholars."

Black, known for a dead-pan portrayal of an office worker, presented Mondi with flowers, too.

"Our show takes place in an office, and OfficeMax supplied many of the items you see on the set," Black said. "So they approached me and asked me if I'd like to participate in this, and I said, 'Of course.' It's a really great program."

Black, who lives in Ridgefield, had his own two children in tow, first-grader Ruth and third-grader Elijah.

This is the third annual give-away of supplies that OfficeMax has conducted; it's a program that the retailer calls, "A Day Made Better."

"She's always buying prizes and materials for art lessons. You name it and she's buying it for her kids," Skoda said.

"Thank you, very much," Mondi said. "This is one day that I'll never forget."

Credit: Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

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Nimitz teacher awarded $1,000 in supplies

It's estimated that, every year, the average elementary school teacher spends $1,000 out of his or her own pocket to purchase classroom supplies.

On Tuesday, a fourth-grade teacher at Nimitz Elementary got the money she's invested back.

Valerie Kennedy was surprised Tuesday morning with $1,000 worth of classroom supplies from Office Max as part of the company's annual A Day Made Better program.

"I was just shocked when all these people started pouring into my classroom this morning, and then they told me I had won all these supplies," said Kennedy, a writing teacher at Nimitz.

Kennedy had no idea she would be receiving the supplies, which were brought to her classroom while she was teaching.

She was nominated for the prize by Nimitz principal Wade Ivy.

"We have a lot of great teachers here, but I think (Kennedy) represents what this school is all about," said Ivy. "She works hard to build strong relationships with her students, with parents and to instill strong lessons."

Kennedy was one of 1,000 teachers nationwide awarded school supplies, which included a desk chair, digital camera and printer, along with everyday items like glue sticks and pencils. Since 2007, Office Max honored more than 3,000 teachers with these awards.

"The program was conceived because it's been estimated that every year, elementary school teachers spend $1,000 out of pocket on supplies for their classrooms," said Jennifer Rook, a spokeswoman for Office Max. "They do this so selflessly, and our company wanted to give back."

And, in fact, Kennedy said she has spent her own money over the years on classroom supplies.

"All teachers buy these things for their students -- scissors, pencils, pens -- because they use them all so fast, and sometimes you have students who can't afford them on their own, so you want to provide for your students and make sure they have everything they need to succeed," she said.

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Shop With A Cop a savior for parents, students

Raising two school-age granddaughters on an hourly wage of $7.50 makes it tough for Shelby Ikard to provide anything extra for the girls.

But Thursday, Ikard got a boost, thanks to the Fraternal Order of Police Chapter in Iredell County, which funded a shopping spree to buy school supplies and clothing for 6-year-old India Davidson and 5-year-old Nadia Ikard.

A total of 123 children took part in the annual Shop With A Cop on Thursday at Kmart in Statesville.

FOP President Ron (Duck) Wyatt said that's the largest number of children in the program's history.

The money for Shop With A Cop usually comes from a telephone fundraiser each summer, but due to the economy, some of the money spent Thursday will come from the FOP itself, Wyatt said.

He said the state FOP experienced a 50- to 75-percent decrease in donations this year, and on a local level, that number was 40 percent.

"We could tell by the phone calls that people scaled back in their giving. Some said they couldn't give at all this year," he said.

One person who received those fundraising calls in the past found herself and her family in need of the program this year.

Laketa McKinney, her husband Jimmy and their five children spent a couple of hours picking out winter coats, shoes and other supplies.

"I used to get these calls from the FOP and I always wondered where the money went," she said. "Now I know, and I'll definitely be a future donor."

The funds raised, in addition to money from the FOP, allowed each child to get about $112 worth of school supplies or clothing, Wyatt said.

Ikard said getting India and Nadia more than $200 worth of necessary supplies is a much-needed boost to her household.

"I really needed this," she said as she and her granddaughters, which also included 18-month-old Kimora Poston, waited to check out.

As she walked out of the store, she repeatedly thanked the members of the FOP who were on hand to help with the program.

Dawn Byers, who was shopping for supplies for her two sons, Damion, 9, and Jimmy, 16, said she was able to get pants for the two quickly growing boys.

"I appreciate this so much," she said.

Nearly all of the families offered a heartfelt thank you to the FOP members.

Many of the children were more hands-on with their thanks, hugging the FOP members.

Wyatt said seeing the children come out of the store with winter coats and new clothes is exactly what the program is all about.

McKinney said she's glad her children were able to benefit this year.

"I've heard about this program, but to experience it is completely different," she said. "I really do appreciate it."

Credit: Statesville Record and Landmark, N.C.

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Homelessness adds to students' hurdles and schools' burdens

DURHAM -- In a cramped room with cinder-block walls, a linoleum floor, two bunk beds, a single dresser and a crib in the center of it all, 14-year-old Daniel King sat on the bottom of one bunk, leaning over a pre-algebra workbook.

It's the same room he has done homework in every night since school started -- in a homeless shelter where he lives with four other family members.

In the shelter, it's nearly impossible to bring friends over to study or play. And privacy? Forget it. Daniel can barely leave his room without supervision.

Still, he is determined to get straight A's in eighth grade this year. He insists he can -- even though his chances to study at a desk, much less a home, are remote.

In North Carolina, slightly more than 1 percent of all children in public schools, or about 17,000 students, were homeless at the end of the 2007-08 school year. School officials said that number is more than likely doubled now as the recession has made already unstable living conditions worse.

The state's unemployment rate is higher than the national average, and many of the jobless are having trouble holding on to their homes. Foreclosure filings are up across the state but particularly so in urban areas such as Durham and Wake counties.

Daniel's mom, Jennifer Hunt, 34, was a single parent in Michigan who worked as a medical assistant for years. She moved to Durham three years ago with $700 and enough money to rent a car. She thought she'd find a job right away but didn't. She remarried and had her third child less than a year ago.

The family survives on Medicaid, food stamps and the benefits Hunt receives after the death of her first husband. Her husband, Garrett Hunt, 59, is waiting for disability benefits. The family of five has bounced from shelter to hotel room and back as they wait for public-housing assistance.

"Sure, it would be nice to be in the same place," said Daniel, who wants to be either a doctor or cartoonist someday. "But I mean, I can't change where I am, and I don't mind it too much."

An obstacle to education

Daniel gets A's and B's in school, but he would be considered an exception, a triumph over adversity, by advocates for children who say that the instability that comes with homelessness can jeopardize education. Children who move often have a higher risk of dropping out, despite a federal mandate that says school districts must provide special services to homeless students.

"It can turn everything upside down for a child," said Barbara Duffield, policy director for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "This is where we see mental-health issues, kids not getting enough to eat and those who are losing attachments to people and places, especially school."

The McKinney-Vento Act, passed in 2001 as part of federal No Child Left Behind standards, requires every school district to have a liaison for homeless students, including those who are living in hotels and cars as well as the homes of relatives or friends.

The law states that homeless children must be provided with transportation and can stay in their school of origin -- even if they've had to move outside that school's area to find shelter.

"Even if everything else is falling apart, we want to at least maintain stability in the school environment," Duffield said.

Increasing numbers of students who qualify -- and advocates said numbers are underreported because many people do not realize they meet the definition -- mean an extra financial strain for budget-strapped school systems that must finance almost all support services on their own.

Daniel and his sister, Samantha Narrin, 12, were among 417 students from homeless families in Durham Public Schools in June, up from the previous year. Schools are only just re-starting their homeless schoolchildren counts, but most said they're seeing higher numbers. Numbers rise throughout the school year with a spike around the holidays. Once a student is recognized as homeless, he or she can receive services for the entire school year.

Current national data are not available, but the number of homeless schoolchildren nationwide may have risen by as much as 80 percent to 100 percent in the past two years to over a million, Duffield said.

Schools help homeless students with school supplies, personal hygiene products and bus passes so parents can attend teacher conferences, said Jerene Joseph, a social worker who works with homeless students in Durham Public Schools.

In a meeting with Durham school officials last month, community leaders expressed concern over the often-overlooked students.

"We do what we can to provide what the child needs," Joseph said. But first they have to find and keep track of the children. That can be difficult because families must either self-report, or a teacher must tell social workers. And a family's living situation can change rapidly.

School homeless liaisons travel in and outside of their counties to visit hotels and shelters to make sure students have the supplies they need. Melissa Brisbon-Obame, the homeless liaison for Wake County schools, said the district will accommodate any situation. If a family is living in a car, the school district will arrange for a bus to meet students at an agreed-upon spot.

The real challenge, she said, is getting these families to come forward.

"Unfortunately, there's a stigma attached here, and families don't want to be identified," said Brisbon-Obame, who said the school district puts up posters advertising services in bus stations where homeless families might notice. "It's much easier to connect with a homeless shelter."

At the Salvation Army's shelter in Raleigh, more than half of the 50 occupants are children, said director Christine Long. The waiting list of families who need shelter housing has grown from 20 to 30 three years ago to more than 80. Long said she has seen more families with parents who have college degrees needing a place to stay.

At Urban Ministries of Durham, the shelter where Daniel and Samantha live with their mother, stepfather and 10-month-old sister, Hadassah, there's room for nine families who can stay for 90 days. The shelter doesn't keep a waiting list, but family and housing case manager Mandy Sackreiter said lately she's turning away three to five families a day.

For the kids who do live in the shelter, Sackreiter said, life can be tough.

"It's really hard to live in a place where there are other people's rules," she said.

For Daniel, living in the shelter has been just OK. The family has had to switch rooms twice -- once because of ants. Daniel said he makes many friends, but then they move out. For a 14-year-old, it's no fun to have to be accompanied by a family member just to walk from the family's room to the shelter's courtyard to play basketball or ride a bike a few feet away.

"When you're raising kids, you want them to be in a good environment," said Hunt, Daniel's mother, who said she has been waiting for public housing since February. "But you also learn, and Daniel has learned, that you can make where you're staying home. It has its highs and lows, but what place doesn't?"

Daniel agreed. Still, as much as he loves his friends and teachers at Carrington Middle School, he doesn't tell many people there where he lives.

"I guess it's a little embarrassing," he said. "But if they asked, I would be honest and tell them."

The daily routine

Daniel and Samantha get up at 5:30 a.m. every day so they can get dressed in one of a handful of sets of clothes stacked on top of a bunk bed and maybe grab a bowl of Cap'n Crunch to eat before catching their bus at 6:30 a.m. to Carrington, eight miles away.

Mornings can be hard. The kids miss the shelter-wide breakfast at 8 a.m., and sometimes they miss free breakfast at the schools, too, because the bus will arrive too late. Hunt said she tries to keep snacks in the shared kitchen.

But it has been hard to stay healthy. Daniel has had to miss four days of school for illness already this year. He weighs about 266 pounds and says he gets teased sometimes.

"I am trying to get in shape," said Daniel, who loves basketball but wants to try out for the football team because of his size. "I don't really care what people think of me, but I know everyone talks about the obesity problem, and I want to be healthy."

Food stamps, Hunt said, are in short supply, and the limited funds don't cover the costs of many healthy foods. It's hard for Hunt to get to a grocery store. Instead, she handed Daniel and Samantha two Cokes and bags of potato chips from a convenience store as an after-school snack.

Daniel often speaks of his favorite teachers and classes like math and science at Carrington. He talks about friends at the lunch table.

"I don't care about being popular," he said. "If I have to do nothing schoolwork-wise to be popular, then forget it."

Daniel talks almost nonstop. He can't help it. His brown eyes widen, his hands and feet fidget, and then he just has to interrupt his mother to tell another animated story about something one of his teachers said.

He's a good kid, Hunt said, as Daniel picked up his baby sister, twirled her around and planted two big kisses on her cheeks.

Though it's four years away, Daniel has his sights on graduating high school -- and beyond.

"I want to go to UNC," he said, before pulling out his oversized, spiraled sketchbook. The pad is filled with drawings of athletes and pictures of his family in front of picturesque houses.

Stories in a looseleaf notebook feature characters like "Dillon," who is very similar to Daniel but lives in one big house with his family.

Daniel has never lived in a home like the ones he draws and writes about.

The family must leave the shelter at the end of November.

sadia.latifi@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2002

Credit: The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

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Urban Brazil: Visions, Afflictions, and Governance Lessons

Ivani Vassoler, Urban Brazil: Visions, Afflictions, and Governance Lessons. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2007. Illustrations, tables, figures, acronyms, appendixes, bibliography, index, 244 pp.; hardcover $99.95.

For some time, two popular sayings have been used to suggest strategies for political possibilities and action: think globally, act locally and another world is possible. Although both of these catchy sayings have been connected to a variety of social movements, the sayings seem to remain ambiguous in the concrete context of everyday life. In her study of urban political governance in the city of Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná in southern Brazil, however, Ivani Vassoler offers some quite concrete examples of how both of these sayings have become part of the everyday realities of the residents of this city.

Vassoler's review of the past 35 years of urban planning and action in Curitiba, with its population of 1.8 million, suggests that citizens have some reasons to be optimistic (at least in the context of Brazil) about real accomplishments in the area of public services. She argues that various city governments over this period have maintained a commitment to urban planning that has made many residents feel involved and has allowed them to talk about the quality of urban life they desire. This commitment to effective governance through urban planning has guided the impressive growth and transformation of Curitiba. It has developed a local-level decisionmaking centered on the combination of political commitment, consensus-building capabilities, and knowledgeable city organizations.

For Vassoler, the import of Curitiba's activities is not what the city government and the city residents have accomplished but how they did it. To show this, she reviews the histories of consecutive city governments (which included the period of military control of the nation, 1964-85, and the return to democracy, 1985) by focusing on how the governments dealt with problems of public transportation and environmental quality. It is interesting to note that even though the various city governments expressed different political persuasions, they all kept focused on effective urban development. This began with the composition of a general urban plan, which was actualized through the formation of an urban planning agency that was flexible and open to the changing needs of the residents of the city.

In 1964, the first transportation policies were developed. These policies worked with the assumption that mass transit, land use, and road systems would be utilized "as tools toward an integrative urban development process" (38). This involved making the center of the city a carfree zone, developing a new "road hierarchy" within the city, and putting into place "strict land use controls" (39). The hierarchy of roads involved a triple driving system: "a central road with two restricted lanes dedicated to express buses flanked by two local roads that allow fast car circulation in and out of the city center" (41).

Key to the transportation changes was the creation of a city agency to integrate the needs of the city with those of private bus companies. This integration was not without struggles, but what has emerged is a system that is modern and effective and that serves all the sections of the city. Significant in this has been the innovative revenue fare system, which gives financial compensation to the bus companies based on the number of kilometers traveled and the meeting of timetables. That is, the bus companies do not make money by the number of passengers but by "on time" compliance within the set route schedules (47). The other important change was a single-day fare for travel throughout the entire day.

To illustrate the city's approach to environmental quality, Vassoler focuses on programs that created city parks and garbage collection systems, including waste recycling (51). She describes the Iguaçú River system, which runs through the city and which began to pose flooding and contamination problems in the late 1950s and 1960s. Instead of attempting to control the river through dredging and building concrete canals, the city developed wooded parks along the river system that would act as flood plains. Currently there are 25 such parks throughout the city; they have made the city very green and also have addressed serious problems of drainage, sanitation, and flood control.

Garbage collection and disposal has been a great challenge to the various city governments of Curitiba, which have proposed innovative recycling programs consisting of workshops and public presentations on the material benefits of recycling. One program was called "Garbage that is Not Garbage." It launched educational campaigns in the city public schools and community programs to encourage residents to separate inorganic materials for reuse. It is estimated that 70 percent of the residents are now involved in such practices; this has meant real savings of approximately US$60 million a year (61).

Another innovative program, "Garbage for Purchase," was especially designed for the poorer neighborhoods of the city, where refuse collection was limited. Under this program, the residents collected their own trash, deposited it in stationary bins in the communities, and received a free bus ticket for every full bag of trash. This led to the "Green Exchange Program," allowing residents to exchange recyclable garbage for a basket of vegetables. It is claimed that every month, 20,000 people exchange 400 tons of recyclable materials for 100 tons of vegetables. This program also involves schoolchildren exchanging recyclable materials for school supplies. A side benefit was that thousands of small agricultural producers in the area could sell their produce to the city. The city runs several recycling operations, which have saved it money while creating more than 20,000 new jobs.

Vassoler provides a critical appraisal of how these city programs have developed, looks at their various contradictions and limitations, and compares Curitiba's 35 years of efforts to the near-absence of such efforts in the city of Säo Paulo. She recognizes that the programs have followed a top-down style of management, even though they have been linked to various communities on the local level and have required different promotional campaigns in order to maintain community participation. Although the programs have not addressed social or material inequality, they have made the city an easier place to live for all.

Vassoler, however, does not see Curitiba as a utopia; nor does she believe that these programs could be duplicated per se in other cities. What she constantly emphasizes is that a consistent commitment to make the city better through effective urban planning has been maintained by all the city governments during the last 35 years, independent of political positions. Furthermore, it was not so much the return to democracy that spurred these developments but the willingness of several generations of citizens to work for a better place to live. For Vassoler, Curitiba offers a possible example of what city governments can and should do: govern.

For me, Vassoler's research and the realities of what has gone on in Curitiba engender some interesting questions about the struggle for a better world to live in, particularly in Latin America. That is, what kinds of pragmatic forms of urban governance can be used in the context of postcolonial Latin America? Unfortunately, in the immediate future, there are no political and social movements that can fully dismantle the hierarchies of inequality. With all due respect to the social movements struggling in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil (to name only a few), the outcomes of these struggles are far from clear, and their success will take many generations of hard work. In the immediate context, cannot local programs or projects be developed and put into place to give fairer and easier access to the use of urban social spaces for the working class and urban poor populations? The social history of Curitiba suggests that by combining local actions with global understandings, such outcomes are possible.

What I would suggest as an additive to Vassoler's fine work would be some ethnographic encounters with the people of Curitiba. How do the people in the poorer bairros feel about the programs for exchanging garbage for vegetables or school supplies? Does the reworked transportation system help urban poor women move about the city with greater ease? Do residents in general feel that the quality of their life is better? Can one note such changes in the everyday lives of the residents? These, however, are not concerns that Vassoler needs to address; they are areas for future research into another possible world in this engaging context of Curitiba.

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Behind the Suit: Corus staffers give hands-on help to African village

A lot of people talk about giving back to the community, but the staff at Toronto's Corus Entertainment went one step further, travelling to Africa to pitch in and help a small village and its educational system.

The idea for the effort came out of a boardroom discussion where various Corus Kids employees discussed the need to expand their experiences as professionals in the kids industry. It grew to become a volunteer teaching and building mission that involved nine Corus staff members making the transcontinental trip, with five of their children in tow, last November.

Working with Globe Aware, a US/Canadian non-profit volunteer trip agency, Corus set up an in-house project that not only facilitated fundraising and travel, but also connected Canadian kids directly with African kids. "It was a personal journey, not a Corus trip," says Corus Kids VP of programming and production Jocelyn Hamilton. "We all decided to do this as humans giving back, and Corus was great in allowing us to do it in a way that was a team-driven."

After a year of pre-planning that included raising almost US$20,000, as well as coordinating travel plans and school/work schedules for 14 people, the entourage made the journey to the small village of Kpedze Todze in Ghana, situated at the end of a red-dirt path on a lush tropical hillside.

"The first day in the village was emotional," says Hamilton, who brought her son, Harrison. "The whole town walked up the dirt road in formation singing and drumming to welcome us and show us their gratitude...It was an unbelievable sight and something I'll never forget."

The group carried out a variety of tasks that included teaching in the primary schools, constructing 30 desks for five different schools in the area, and making way for a school that was later built by students from the School of Architecture at Toronto's Ryerson University.

Other staffers whose kids made the trip were director of content at Treehouse and Discovery Kids Canada Jamie Piekarz and her son and daughter (Piper and Jackson) and Bakugan supervising producer Pat Burns and her daughter, Katie. The kids, in fact, made a special contribution of their own that included setting up an e-pal exchange between two schools in Toronto and 50 children in Kpedze Todze. Acting as ambassadors for their classes, the Canadian kids got to meet their e-pals and personally deliver a five-pound package of school supplies and gifts, and the video greeting the Canuck e-pals had each made for their African counterparts. The kids in Ghana also sent packages back to Canada that included handmade gifts, letters and poems for their e-pals.

In order to continue with kids' exchange, Corus staff on-hand realized the village's handful of ancient computers that sat unused and unconnected to the internet needed fixing. Using some of the funds raised, the volunteers upgraded the computer lab and created the community's first internet caf with internet access for a year.

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Late McAdoo native was humanitarian, former mayor

McAdoo native Rosemary Stasek fell in love with Afghanistan after visiting the war-torn country with an Afghan-American delegation following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The 46-year-old humanitarian and former Mountain View, Calif., mayor made her home in Kabul in the years that followed and died there on Sept. 24.

A heart attack -- not a bomb -- took her life, her parents Andrew and Patricia Stasek of McAdoo said. Stasek had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March, but the disease had been taking its toll on her longer than that. Her parents didn't realize how ill her daughter had become until reading a tribute written by her assistant regarding Stasek's final days, her father said.

The couple always feared for their only daughter's safety in Afghanistan, but knew she was doing what she loved -- helping people in need and working for women's rights.

"She was fearless," her mother said. "The first time she was there ... she said, 'I want to do something to help them.'"

Her parents recognized their daughter's compassion and drive to help others when she was just a little girl, her mother said.

Her father remembers when one of her friends wasn't allowed to go on a Girl Scout field trip, and she gathered up the troop and marched the delegation to this little girl's home to try to persuade her mother to change her mind.

Stasek took those leadership skills with her to Marian Catholic High School, where she was a merit scholar and served as the football team's manager.

Football coach Stan Dakosty knew the 1981 graduate well. Energetic, loyal, hard-working, selfless and an example are among the words he used to describe Stasek.

"I kept track of her," he said. "I talked about her in my classes. She set the standard. She led a life that when you look at it ... was impressive.

"She was a person who touched people's lives," Dakosty added. "It's a real loss. The world needs more people like her."

Sister Bernard Agnes, principal at Marian, also taught Stasek during her senior year. She remembers her as an outstanding, well-rounded student who was always bubbly, radiant and smiling.

"I was really stunned when I heard the news. Everyone here was in shock," she said. "She was so dynamic. She was very talented, and she gave her life to doing good things. She was too good for this world."

Stasek studied economics at Cornell University and began a fast-tracked career in banking in California, her father said. She later left banking to work as a Web designer and worked as a consultant for Oracle, Netscape and Microsoft.

Stasek then looked for a new challenge and sought political office in Mountain View, a community of about 70,000 south of San Francisco. She served two terms on council and one year as mayor.

While on council, Stasek made a bid for California State Assembly, and served on the board of Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte and the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women.

She was named a Distinguished Woman of the 14th Congressional District, and received the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights Freedom of Religion Award and the Alameda National Women's Political Caucus Pro-Choice Champion Award. She was also a nominee for the Silicon Valley Women of Achievement Award.

In 1999, the Secretary of Defense selected her to participate in a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, which toured military installations across the country and aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean. She learned more about military affairs, especially women's issues, and served as a member of the Air Force Space Commanders Group.

Her interest in international affairs took her to Nepal, Ecuador, France, Britain, Holland, Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech and Slovak republics, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Tanzania and Vietnam.

She also traveled to Cuba as a member of a special women's delegation in 1998, and was a member of one of the first delegations to return to Afghanistan in 2002.

She traveled back and forth to Kabul after that first trip, and after her second term on council ended in 2005, she spent a year in Afghanistan. During that year, she acted as a logistics manager for the Kabul Beauty School.

Stasek founded the nonprofit organization, "a little help," which raises money for small-scale projects helping women and children there. Among the ongoing projects included aid to women and children in a women's prison, buying books and other school supplies for girls' education and aid to a school for the blind.

The organization was looking for donations to regularly supply yogurt for better nutrition for women and children in prison, and for school supplies for teenage girls serving prison terms, many for murders committed by family members, according to her Web site, www.stasek.com.

Stasek also met her husband, Morne du Preez, a security contractor from South Africa, in Kabul. The couple married in 2007 after a short courtship.

Stasek will be buried in her hometown, and services will be announced shortly. A memorial was held in Kabul, and another is planned Oct. 23 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View, where flags flew at half-staff for five days following her death.

kmonitz@standardspeaker.com

Credit: Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.

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