Monday, January 3, 2011

Longtime Birmingham City Hall insider Bill Ricker dies at 77

Published: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 5:20 PM ??? Updated: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 5:32 PM

Bill Ricker, a presence in Birmigham civic life and at Birmingham City Hall since the 1960s, died Sunday after an extended illness. He was 77.?


Ricker was working as a photographer for The Birmingham News when he left to join the administration of Mayor George Seibels in 1969, serving as Seibels' executive secretary. ?


Ricker, a Carbondale, Pa. native, went on to serve as executive director of Operation New Birmingham and planning director for the United Way, and later returned to city hall to serve as an assistant to Councilmen Jimmy Blake and Joel Montgomery.?


Visitation will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Homewood, with the funeral?following at 2 p.m.


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Sunny and dry weather expected through much of the week

Published: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 8:00 PM

Sunny and dry describe daily conditions most days in this week's forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

Very dry conditions also increase the chance for fire, leading the weather service to issue a red flag warning for Monday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Such a warning is issued when critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential.

Tonight's forecast calls for clear skies, with a low around 24.

Monday will be sunny, with a high near 52. Partly cloudy skies are expected Monday night, with an overnight low around 30.

Tuesday again calls for sunny weather, with a high near 54. Overnight, temperatures will reach a low around 30.

Wednesday calls for a 20 percent chance of rain, with mostly cloudy skies and a high near 51. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 37.

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Golf scoring Shots Helps

To become the well-rounded golfer, one could find dozens of different shots. While Bill Hogan described, there isn't enough time in the day time to train most of the shots you need. But if you can strike the shots in which generate great ratings, and there are simply several, which is you really need to know.

To report, to really report well, receive great at getting the ball throughout the fairway off the tee, getting the ball in close proximity by off the green, and getting tactic putts in close proximity. Let's review the every single shot with cheap golf clubs.

If you get hold of your tee the ball in the fairway, you're approach ahead of the performance. You've taken the biggest step throughout getting the ball onto the green throughout the least number of shots. Each time you miss the fairway, which almost means you'll make a further heart stroke to find the ball on the green.

The pros generate their existing on the brief performance and putting, but that is because they're previously getting the ball on the green throughout the fewest number of shots achievable. Until you locate to do of which, following your rules by 60 yards in doesn't produce upward for the added swings the idea took you to get there.

Produce a lot of awareness since you train to hitting your driver straight. If you can't take action, and chances are you can't, simply because it is a real tough club to hit, get hold of the golfing lessons. Don't worry about your golf irons. If you can hit your driver directly, your irons will go directly, too.

If you're getting the ball within the fairway and on the green only comparable to in which, you're putting. How exciting. It may be any 30- or even 40-footer. To produce individuals shots with callaway x-24 hot irons of which obtained you on the green pay off, you get to find this golf putt shut.

There's any three-foot group you can draw inside your mind's attention around the glass. Get the ball within that elliptical and you're eighteen in or even less by the two-putt green. Good putters aren't the ones whom prepare tons of six- and seven-foot putts. They're putters which never depart themselves together with putts of which long.

The rest? Well, you don't often strike the green. If you miss that by too much, you have an extended chips that you can just get upwards and down consistently with lots of practice and enjoying practical knowledge. But at the time you're close, when you miss by merely a few yards, those are the shots which you can get up and down finally half the time. Train those short poker chips and get great at them. The a bit longer ones just get hold of them on the green so you can start putting.

There are three credit scoring shots: the tee shot, the method golf putt, and the short chips. Know to hit individuals shots, and your golfing friends may ponder how you acquired to always be so competent most of a new sudden.

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Birmingham-based ministry known for work in Sudan expands to Congo, Peru

Published: Sunday, January 02, 2011, 2:15 PM

Make Way Partners, the Birmingham-based Christian mission organization that runs orphanages in Sudan and a home for women and children in Romania, has expanded its work to Congo and Peru.

Kimberly Smith, founder and president of Make Way Partners, has helped establish an orphanage in Congo working with Sister Alvera, a Catholic nun who left her monastery to take in orphans.

Sister Alvera grew up in the convent after she was dropped off there by her parents at age 3. After becoming a nun, she wanted to go out and help people.

"She was seeing the soldiers take local children as sex slaves," Smith said. "She wanted her convent to do something about it. She wanted to go live out on the street with the children and see what she could do. She started trying to help the children. She had a gathering of 20 orphans."

Make Way Partners helped Sister Alvera find a house. "Now she has 40 children and they are all living in a little house," Smith said. "We are looking for land to build her an orphanage."

Smith has identified a Christian leader in Peru, Jack Vasquez, a certified public accountant, who will be leading rescue work for Make Way Partners in Peru. Peru has a large drug-trafficking problem and insufficient law enforcement, she said. "Any time you have drug trafficking, you have terrible human trafficking," she said.

People suffer severe poverty and girls are sold into prostitution as part of a sex industry that includes brothels serving tourist traffic near the famed Incan ruins of Macchu Picchu, she said.

Smith also has just become a first-time author with a book called "Passport Through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances," about the ministry in Sudan. The book has been available for order online and was slated to appear in bookstores starting Saturday.

"We've already sold several thousand copies online," Smith said. It has helped raise awareness of the work in Sudan, she said.

'Healing process'

Christian Retailing Magazine named the book its top pick for December. "We're just excited and humbled," Smith said.

"I tell a lot about human trafficking stories I witnessed," Smith said. "God revealed himself to me in a healing process through those hard times."

For more information on the book, see the website, "I hope it helps give people the courage to risk finding out what God wants to do in their lives," Smith said.

The book includes an endorsement from former President Jimmy Carter, who invited Smith to speak to his Bible study class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., in 2007.

"He and Rosalynn sat down and prayed with me afterwards and he said, 'If there's anything I can do for you, let me know,'" Smith said.

Smith, a former missionary to Portugal who helped break up a sex-trafficking ring there, had been looking for ways to fight sex trafficking and slavery when she founded Make Way Partners in 2002 with her husband, the Rev. Milton Smith. She made her first trip to Sudan in 2004 and, with support from Christians in Alabama and across the South, established the first orphanage in 2005.

Make Way Partners runs an orphanage in Darfur that has 525 children living in three dormitories on 100 acres that includes a school, a church and a medical clinic. James Lual Atak, a former "lost boy" who gathered up most of the orphans, runs the campus.

Smith also started an orphanage in southern Sudan, near the border of Uganda, that has 50 children. That's run by civil engineer Kevin Massie and his wife, Shalene, who live in a tent with their 1-year-old daughter, Abigail, while they oversee the construction of dormitories that will eventually house 125 children. Massie graduated from Virginia Tech University and contacted Make Way Partners after researching the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Make Way Partners also supports a home for exploited women and their children in Romania. The shelter, called House of Treasure, houses up to 20 girls who were rescued from forced prostitution, Smith said. Some Romanian girls as young as 14 years old were rescued from brothels in Spain, Greece and Germany. The House of Treasure was founded by Iana Matei, a psychologist who has received international acclaim for her rescue work while enduring threats from organized crime rings that run prostitution networks exploiting girls as young as 10 to 12. "She's doing a remarkable job," Smith said of Matei.

Make Way Partners had a $4 million budget this year, most of it going to fund the work in Africa. "We bring accountability so that American donors know that their money is being used wisely," Smiths said. "The only thing that keeps us from being able to save more lives is that we're staying within the budget we have. For an organization that just started seven years ago, we feel fortunate. God's blessed us tremendously."

Join the conversation by clicking to comment or e-mail Garrison at

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Choosing Quality Insurance Companies Orange County

When you are shopping for auto or homeowners insurance, you must do your research on several different insurance companies Orange County to find the best company offering the lowest premiums.? While premiums are extremely important, especially during today's economic crisis, individuals must consider more than just monthly and annual premiums to make a well-educated decision that will protect your investments.? If you are not sure what to research, browse the important factors every policyholder should look into when quoting any type of insurance.? By looking into the factors below, you will choose a company that is respected in the industry and is financially stable. ?

Financial Stability

If an insurance company is not charging adequate premiums for the risks the insured's pose to the company, chances are they will not stay in business for long.? This is one of the main reasons why drivers and homeowners should not consider price as their major deciding factor when binding insurance.? If your quote for insurance is significantly lower than every other insurance company you have consulted, chances are their underwriting processes are not effective and they are charging premiums that will not keep their company financially stable. ?

There are several consumer-minded resources that update and post the current financial state of insurance companies Orange County and companies throughout the nation.? AM Best has become the most preferred site as it is accurate and consistently updated.? By checking the insurer ranking on AM Best, you can start to make a broad list of A rated companies who have a proven track record for collecting adequate premiums that will pay for losses. ?

Customer and Claims Service

Another very important factor to consider is the quality of customer service of the company you are choosing.? Not each and every financially stable company is prided for excellent customer service.? If you are paying a company to offer you excellent customer service and coverage in the event that you file a claim, chances are you would be disappointed to find out service agents are not educated and are not dedicated to being kind and friendly.? Consumer sites post customer service reviews and rankings online.? Browse through reviews to choose a company that is a customer service leader. ?

The promptness and professionalism of claims agents is extremely important.? While you never want to have to file a claim, you want the peace of mind that the insurance company you choose offers quick claims payouts and friendly agents who will help you with filing a claim and obtaining supporting documentation. ?

Once you have reviewed each of these factors, you will have a list that consists of the best insurers in the area.? After you have verified each area, you can then use premiums to make your final decision.

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How To Live In Another Country

How To Live In Another Country
As we all know, living in a foreign country is not an easy thing, we may meet many difficulties but no friends or relatives can give us a help, because everything there is unfamiliar to us. We have to spend a long time on getting used to, including the basic language, and the common communication. Here you can get some tips you need note if you are living in a foreign country.
Learn to immerse yourself into the foreign country
If you are new to a country, immerse yourself: check out the public transport system, visit museums and galleries, drink coffee and tea at local cafes, join the gym, and talk to local people.
Learn the local language
Enroll in a language class teaching the language most people speak. This will allow you to slowly converse with the people at the shops, hair dresser, taxi driver etc. and will give you a good insight into the culture.
Stop to make a comparison with your home country
If you continuously compare your home country with your country of residence you won't do yourself a favor. The fact is they are different, some things are better and some things are more challenging.
Write a trip journal
Write a personal journal about your experience living abroad. You might also want to stick in newspaper clippings or interesting things you've found on your field trips
Share your experiences
Entertain those people you left behind with news from the new world. You could write some of the news you've written about in your journal into a blog, upload some pictures and or send regular updates via email or mail.
Make new friends is essential
Depending on the reason you live abroad you might be working or be an expat wife. Both of those scenarios will bring you in contact with new people. Making new friends takes time but the advantage of living abroad is that there are likely to be other people in the same boat as you.
Keep contact with the friends in your own country
Another good source of emotional support is a good connection with loved ones back home. In today's society it is very easy to stay connected via all the different social networks like Facebook, Twitter etc. and the means of cheap of free call facilities like Skype, Viber etc. Use them!
Be an Explorer
Living abroad means that there is a whole new surrounding to explore. Treat yourself to holidays in places you've never been, visit the tourist attractions in the region, savour the local cuisine and become an explorer close from a new home.
Invite your old friends
Keeping old friends also requires nurturing those friendships. Offer your home, if you can, to visiting friends from your home country. You will be surprise how many intimate moments can be experienced while you're hosting your friends.
Enjoy yourself
Make it your daily practice to enjoy the differences. Search out things to do you enjoy, like trying new cuisine, visiting new sites and local attractions, meet with people that you get along well with and that you would have never met if you stayed 'at home'.
It is my first time going out to another country, these ten tips give me a great help, and make me get used to the new country rapidly. As long as we learn the language there and get along well with the people there, we can live better.

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