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Features

The North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors has honored Angel Medical Center in Franklin with the 2014 Public Health Partners Award for their efforts to improve public health. The awards were given at the NCALHD annual meeting awards luncheon in Raleigh.

The 2014 Public Health Partners Award was created to recognize organizations, businesses and professional associations that have made significant contributions to the advancement and promotion of public health in North Carolina. AMC was selected for its commitment to reducing the burden of cancer in Macon County. AMC was recognized for its partnership with the Macon County Health Department and several corporate sponsors in creating “Ladies Night Out,” a program aimed at helping women as they face breast cancer.

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Reverse mortgages have become increasingly popular in recent years, as cash-strapped seniors seek ways to keep pace with rising expenses – not to mention cope with the pummeling their retirement savings took during the Great Recession.

But the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) noticed that borrowers increasingly have been opting to withdraw most or all of their home equity at closing, leaving little or nothing for future needs. Consequently, by mid-2012 nearly 10 percent of reverse mortgage holders were in default and at risk of foreclosure because they couldn't pay their taxes and insurance.

That's why Congress authorized HUD to tighten FHA reverse mortgage requirements in order to: encourage homeowners to tap their equity more slowly; better ensure that borrowers can afford their loan's fees and other financial obligations; and strengthen the mortgage insurance fund from which loans are drawn.

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Tips for protecting your identity and money

At least 110 million consumers were affected by the hack involving Target and Neiman Marcus retailers. Whether or not millions more will have their identities manipulated and finances ruined within the coming months due to more breaches of security at other stores is anyone’s guess, says identity theft recovery expert Scott A. Merritt.

“By necessity, I became an expert on identity theft. My information was stolen in 2006, and in repairing the damage, I learned some not-so-obvious ways we can all protect against identity theft in the first place,” says Merritt, CEO of Merritt & Associates (scottamerritt. com) and author of "Identity Theft Do's and Don'ts."

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The new year is a great time to get yourself pointed in the right direction financially.

“Making small improvements at the beginning of the year is a lot easier than trying to play catch-up,” says financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of “The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning” (www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com).

“Just as you would embark on an exercise program to lose weight and get physically fit, there are simple steps you can take that will lead to being financially healthy and fit.”

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