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Date: 11-03-2017

A Floyd County father’s quest to make it easier for his son to cope with trick-or-treating crowds ended with one extraordinary Halloween costume this year.

Three-year-old Tyson Lafferty went trick-or-treating in Prestonsburg, dressed as an aviator — complete with his own “Helicooper” that was decked out with moving propellers, lights, Nerf guns, and, thanks to a wireless Bluetooth speaker, even helicopter sounds.

Floyd County Clerk employee Matthew Lafferty guides his son Tyson in a Halloween ‘Helicooper’ he created this year to help his son cope with crowds while trick-or-treating. Floyd Chronicle and Times photo by Mary MeadowsFloyd County Clerk employee Matthew Lafferty guides his son Tyson in a Halloween ‘Helicooper’ he created this year to help his son cope with crowds while trick-or-treating. Floyd Chronicle and Times photo by Mary Meadows

His dad, Matthew Lafferty, 38, of Prestonsburg, used parts from cars, bicycles, a ceiling fan and a jack-in-the-box costume he built for Tyson last year to create this year’s Halloween masterpiece. It took him about two months and he poured his entire vacation into it. When finished, it stood nearly six feet tall. 

Lafferty said Tyson has “sensory issues” and is sensitive to crowds and loud noises. He started creating Halloween costumes that Tyson could sit inside during his first Halloween three years ago — when he turned the baby’s stroller into a Child’s Play doll box. 

He got the idea for this year’s costume while Tyson was riding a Cozy Coupe car at his grandmother’s house this year. 

With the toy car as the body of the “Helicooper,” Lafferty used PVC pipes to make landing gear, a ceiling fan for the propellers, an automobile fan for the rear propeller and an electronic gadget he created with bicycle parts that helped the helicopter turn on its lighted, homemade cart base. He secured Tyson in the helicopter with seatbelt straps from an old car seat. 

“It’s awesome because of all of Tyson’s sensory issues, it helps him deal with the crowds,” Lafferty’s girlfriend Tiffany Jarrell said. “The fact that he cares enough to do this to make it as normal as possible for him, it’s just awesome.” 

She said Lafferty is always building something. He said he’s always enjoyed “fooling around” with electronics and people regularly call him to ask him to build things. 

He said they get all sorts of responses when they go trick-or-treating, and people are amazed at his Halloween creations. 

“People enjoy it and they love looking at it,” he said. “Everybody comments on it.” 

He said it takes a while for Tyson to like these creations, but he warms up to them.

“Usually, when I build one, he hates it at first because it’s something outrageous and new ... But as the weeks go by and he sees me working on it, he gets used to it and he really likes it.” 

Matthew said he enjoys the comments people share about his creations and that response drives him to try to top himself each year. He joked on Halloween that he’ll starting planning next year’s costume the following day. 

He does all of this to make sure his son can enjoy trick-or-treating.

“He does a whole lot better than he would if he was out in the open,” he said. “He has a good time with it and that’s the main reason I put all the work I do into it.” 

Lafferty, Jarrell and their son live in Prestonsburg. Lafferty has worked in the Floyd County Clerk’s office for 10 years, where he serves as director of operations, and he is also a photographer.

By Mary Meadows
Floyd County Chronicle and Times

 

October 30, 2017

How to Know If You Are Alive 

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

Uncommon Sense by Glenn MolletteUncommon Sense by Glenn MolletteWe applaud people who feel like doing something.

In an age where so many people spend so much time sitting or who are doing nothing let's celebrate the people who are doing something. Celebrate their living.

I've always been blessed with energy. Energy is a good asset. As a young adult growing up I wanted to be in the middle of whatever was going on. I always enjoyed playing sports, swimming in the lake or creek, riding a bicycle for miles or being in the middle of the dance floor. I've always enjoyed movement. Trust me, I can sit for three hours and read, meditate and write and actually tremendously enjoy it. There is something beautiful about life between two and five 0'clock in the morning when you can be more creative than you've ever imagined. Try it sometime. It's quiet and you can hear God a little better.

For years I would occasionally go to the local Shake N' Steak restaurant at about two and write until five in the morning. I was only one of two or three people in that place at that hour. They would pour coffee and pour coffee for me while I wrote myself into almost oblivion some nights. I wrote a lot of stuff that didn't amount to a hill of beans as some of us country folks might say. However, I enjoyed it at the moment and a lot of books came out of those early morning sessions of writing. I've heard from people around the world that have read some of my books and they've told me about how much they enjoyed them. Thus, such compliments are my reward.

Sadly I was raised in a weird time warp. It seemed like everything I wanted to do was bad or had a devil lurking behind a bush that made it supposedly evil.

When I first started playing basketball in school, I had to find a way to appease my old fashioned grandpa. He was unhappy I was playing basketball. "Basketball players" he said "played naked." He thought I should try to play baseball. Baseball players wore clothes and were decent. I finally talked him into saying that he guessed it was okay to play basketball. I was so relieved. I went on to enjoy years of shooting hoops in school. I still enjoy shooting in my backyard today.

I grew up in an era when old time ministers preached against going to movies, rock and roll, dancing and of course smoking and drinking and gambling. I never wanted to smoke, drink or gamble but I loved movies, music and dancing.

I was sad this week when I learned Fats Domino had died at the age of 89. My brother brought one of his albums home from college when I was a kid. We had an old stereo and I would dance through that album all twelve songs at least three times in a row. I would be so hungry from dancing that my mother would pop open a can of ten cent biscuits and make them with jelly and butter. Whew, I needed those biscuits as I was sweating from all that dancing. Later when I started going to church I felt very called to be a preacher. Sounds crazy but it's true. However, I never felt called to give up music and dancing. This really got me in trouble one night when I told the youth group at a church where I was speaking there was nothing wrong with dancing. The fire hit the fan from the host pastor as he had been preaching against it for quite awhile. I realize people can make dancing something vulgar but I've seen Baptist business meetings become much uglier than anything I've ever seen out on a dance floor.

Would we not all wish for people to be out dancing and doing something physically active? This would be better than sitting in the house starring at cell phones, computers and televisions or sitting around gossiping about others.

There is a point to this column and the point is do not let other people stop you from activity. Be active in life. Be out and about. Be doing something. People are critical of any and everything other people do. Whatever you do in life people will find fault with what you are doing. As long as it's legal and right then don't let people stop you from living your life. Be true to yourself. You will lose acquaintances. You might even lose a semi close friend or two. Let them go. Move on because the new friends you will make will be worth it all.

Remember the only way you will never receive much criticism in life is to do nothing. And then, you will have people in your family who will say, "Well, he never did anything with his or her life." So, it's a double edged sword in many ways.
The person carrying the ball is the one they always try to tackle. So, my friend, pick up the ball in your life and if it's okay with God and it's good with you then why would you care if anybody else is against you? By the way, don't ask the people at your church because they'll want to vote on it or something crazy like that. Keep it between you and God. The two of you can figure it out.

Oh yea, I remember the line I used to get about offending people. They always got us in church about being a stumbling block. I agree there is no need to be in people's faces trying to offend them. What are the point and the future of that? However, with whatever you do in life you will offend somebody. Let them be offended or let them get over it. Yes, I know what Jesus said about that and you need to research the context of what he said.

Life is short dear friend. Applaud yourself and others if you have the emotional and physical wherewithal to jump up from your chair and go to work, sing, dance, mow the yard, chop down a tree, jog down the road, preach a 30 minute sermon, golf or fish all day, write a book, paint a picture, wash down the house, start a new venture, but rejoice for activity and feeling like you want to live. It's a sign that you are really alive! Enjoy and live it!

Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of twelve books.
He is read in all fifty states.

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE

 

Saturday, October 28, 2017 


Shared on FB by retired teacher Ruby Clark, Warfield, Ky

Not sure to whom this should be attributed, but it is informative. Mrs. Clark shared it on her Facebook Saturday and is so simple to understand that we decided to share it, too.

“This post is for my many non-educator friends or those that work outside of the public sector. After several conversations and meetings the past few days, it occurred to me that there is a huge misunderstanding regarding the Kentucky Pension System.

Ruby Clark Ruby Clark Many (maybe the majority) of private sector employees think the system is simply a huge drain on public tax dollars. That simply isn't true. There is a key tax component, but it is not what you think. The idea seems to be out there that all retirees' pension benefits, health care, and cost of living adjustments are completely funded by public tax dollars since those folks were public employees.

This post is generally accurate (not intended to be specific) and the percentages have changed over the years, etc. but sharing the basic idea is what I'm trying to get out there to my friends.

Teachers pay from each paycheck 12.855% directly into the KTRS system in some form of retirement & health care payment for future use. The state (as the employer) provides a matching amount {This would be the TAX portion} (just like most private employers). This is law covered by KRS161.550. Then when the teacher retires their pension is basically calculated on 2.0% or 2.5% of their salary for each year of service. So at 27 years at 2.5%/year you should retire with 67.5% of your salary. The money that is paid in from each paycheck is invested by TRS and the earnings from those investments pay the monthly pension benefits. TRS (when separated from the other 7 state pension systems) is actually very stable. Part of what the teacher pays each paycheck is 3% to fund health care for those already retired (those retired also pay a portion). This would be the Shared Responsibility Plan passed in 2010 as House Bill 540. Teachers also pay 1.74% to "pre-fund" their cost of living adjustments (COLA) when they retire. (The COLA is 1.5% for retired educators). So they paid 1.74% to ensure a 1.5% cost of living increase each year. So YES, teachers pay for their retirement and health care just like those in the private sector, it is NOT just pure tax money, not even close.

Now the TAX component. Remember the employer (state) match required by law, KRS 161.550. Well for roughly 15 of the last 20 years; the STATE decided not to pay their part, even though it is KRS 161.550. In addition at least three times over that same time period the state moved (took) money from the TRS or Health Care funds for a total of over $200 MILLION dollars. Now that is the tax component! The state not only failed to make the required MATCHING payments, they actually took money that was NOT tax dollars; money paid in by educators was used to fund things such as heroin clinics. In the private sector that would be a crime.

Now teachers are being asked to pay 3% MORE for health care that is technically already being paid for, freeze COLA's which are already pre-paid at a higher rate than the actual COLA (again that is not tax dollars they want to freeze, it is money paid in from teachers' paychecks). The change in plan style to a defined contribution, change in years of services, etc. All leaves many unanswered questions.

I would totally agree that the state pension system must be addressed (for all 8 different systems); however, the current plan places virtually all of the "fix" on those public employees who made all their monthly payments, didn't take the money that was already in the accounts. I could support (not happily but could support) parts of this plan if there was even an effort to find dedicated funding streams for all the pension systems and the law updated so that the state had to make their matching payments and could not on a whim take money paid into retirement by employees to fund drug clinics, feel good movies, or whatever.

Again, this is only meant as an overview for those outside the system that don't understand this proposal. Many see things things like top lawmakers will lose their $100,000 pensions and think the entire plan is good for Kentucky. I personally wonder why lawmakers even receive a pension for a part time job, that is crazy.
Just my thoughts, but feel free to share.”

--From Teachers in the Know

October 30, 2017

By Tim Abrams, Executive Director-Elect of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association

Let’s remember how we got into this pension mess in the first place. Frankfort -- not our current and retired teachers -- failed to live up to its fiduciary responsibility to properly fund the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). Now, after nine years of insufficient funding and the loss of interest on those funds, Frankfort politicians want retired and current teachers, to bail them out of the debt they owe.

Our retired teachers are God-fearing, down-to-earth Kentuckians who dedicated their lives to educating our youth. They didn’t earn a big paycheck, and they certainly don’t have access to large amounts of money in retirement. They don’t have billionaires or outside groups forming “dark money” PACs to support pension reform. They don’t have influential lobbying firms in Frankfort trying to convince legislators to adopt a 401(k)-style retirement system that will benefit Wall Street.

What teachers do have is years of service to our state and contributions from every paycheck into TRS with the expectation they will receive the retirement benefits they were promised.

Here is how the framework breaks the promise:

Kentucky’s 52,000 retired teachers -- many of whom voted for the Gov. Matt Bevin because of his devotion to his fairness and faith -- receive an average retirement benefit of $37,000 per year. This is only $11,000 higher than the poverty level for a four-member household established by the U.S. Census Bureau. Gov. Bevin’s proposal for a five-year freeze in cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for all current and future teachers amounts to nearly a 7.5-percent reduction in these benefits. Under this proposed COLA freeze, a 60-year-old teacher making $3,000 a month would lose roughly $71,000 over his or her lifetime. Younger teachers would lose substantially more.

Given these modest retirement benefit levels, rising healthcare costs, this proposed framework would be financially devastating to retired teachers.

The Governor also has proposed that all new teachers must participate in a 401(k) defined-contribution plan rather than TRS, which is a defined-benefit plan. States that have implemented similar 401(k)-style plans, such as West Virginia, Michigan, and Alaska, all saw dramatic increases in their unfunded pension liabilities due to a lack of contributions to the old fund from new members. Case studies from across the United States show that switching to a defined-contribution plan does not solve the underfunded pension issue and will drive teachers to other states or out of the profession completely.

Frankfort is trying to mitigate this funding issue by promising state contributions going forward. Where have we heard this before? As retired teachers, we are skeptical of this promise -- particularly after suffering through nine years of broken promises to properly fund TRS. For us, particularly our retired math teachers, this just doesn’t add up.

We appreciate Gov. Bevin’s and the legislature’s focus on this complex pension issue. But the framework proposed is the wrong solution. We implore him to look at the successes and failures of other states to come up with a solution that is fair to teachers and taxpayers. Crafting a solution behind closed doors and listening to the interests of big money outsiders won’t solve this problem. It only will break the promise to Kentucky’s retired teachers.

Tim Abrams is Executive Director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association.

Tim Abrams
Executive Director
Kentucky Retired Teachers Association
7605 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40291-3234
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
502-231-5802

 

October 26, 2017

How to Have A Good Day

by Dr. Glenn Mollette

Everybody needs a good day every now and then!

Think of something or someone for which you are grateful. Maybe this is easy? Hopefully you have one or maybe dozens of people that are meaningful to you. We all have someone that aggravates us or maybe worse. We're not going to emphasize that group in this column. They get enough glory. Today just think about those people you enjoy seeing or hearing from.

Have something to do every day. It is better if you have three or things to do. If you are going to work every day you have plenty to do. If you are raising kids or caring for family you have plenty to do. Don't run out of things to do. Clean your house, work in your yard or find a part time job but have something that requires you to put out some effort.

Do something to take care of your health every day. Walking, bike riding, fervent exercise along with focusing more on healthy eating all have positive effects on our mental well being.

Try to reduce negativity in your life. Don't watch negative cable television four or five hours a day. They are saying the same things over and over. I suspect you could start talking before you turn on the channel and verbalize almost verbatim what is being said depending on the channel. Also, reduce the negative people time in your life. That may be hard if you live with a negative person or have lots of negative family. Try to be the upbeat person and try to create happier conversations.

This brings us to laughter. Laughter is good medicine for any mind and body. Families that laugh will be happier growing old together. Social groups that interact and laugh can't wait to gather again. Happy churches that are laughing together will stay together and even grow. Children need to hear their parents laughing and laughing with them.

Don't make age the deciding factor. A friend of mine had been on the sideline of life for a long time got another chance. Some tough things happened to him in life. He went through a divorce. After this life altering event he got in trouble and had to go to prison. That was a very dark period in his life. However, in time he got back on his feet. He went forward, tried to stay upbeat and at the age of 77 was called to serve a very vibrant church as their senior pastor. For the last three years he has done a tremendous job. He didn't let his age along with his past failures cripple him for the rest of his life.

Gain strength each day from outside of you. Look to God, a loving spouse, family, friends and good mentors. We all need time to be alone but we also all have times when we need support from outside of ourselves.

We've all had a few bad days along the way. Here is to a good day for you and hopefully many of them.

Glenn Mollette, originally from Milo, Ky.,  is a syndicated columnist and author of twelve books. He is read in all fifty states.

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE