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MEDICINE TAKE-BACK PLAN APPROVED

Unwanted medicines can have unintended consequences. A new medicine take-back plan makes disposal of these medicines safer and easier. Beginning in spring of 2018, Pierce County will have more secure and convenient options to dispose of unwanted medicines, protecting our communities in the process.

On Dec. 18, 2017, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department approved the medicine take-back plan from MED-Project – a representative of pharmaceutical producers that operates take-back programs in King and Snohomish counties. Before the approval, the Health Department considered feedback from a public comment period that ran from Dec. 4-15, 2017. The majority of the nine responses support expanded efforts for the safe and secure disposal of unwanted medicines.

“The plan protects public health and the environment from medicines that, under the wrong circumstances, can cause harm,” said Andy Comstock, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department environmental health program manager.

MED-Project now has 90 days to implement the plan, which will bring more drop-off kiosks to hospitals, pharmacies, and law enforcement sites across Pierce County. The public will also have the option to send back unwanted medicines with postage-paid envelopes.

In Dec. 2016, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health passed the Secure Medicine Return Regulation to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs like painkillers – which fuel the opioid epidemic – reduce accidental poisoning among children, and prevent harm to the environment when people flush medicines down the toilet or throw them into the garbage. The regulation requires pharmaceutical producers to fund and operate the take-back plan.

Learn more about the plan, read the public comments, and find current drop-off locations at www.tpchd.org/medicine-return.

HERITAGE PROJECT GRANT APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE

The City of Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Office has announced that 2018 Heritage Project Grant applications are now available. Eligible applicants include non-profits, organized community groups, public agencies and educational institutions. Applicants can apply for anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 for their project. This is a matching grant with up to $40,000 in total awards being granted.

“Our goal with the Heritage Project Grant Program is to support projects that increase public awareness and access to Tacoma’s history,” said Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight. “We look forward to seeing innovative and informative proposals.”

Funding can be used for a number of projects including exhibitions, workshops, events or educational activities, development and production of interpretive materials, professional services required to research a historical publication or register nomination, documentation of an artifact or historical site, a historic site assessment, conservation materials and, in some limited cases, capacity building for organizations with heritage as their primary mission. Activities receiving heritage funding may be one-time events, a small number of closely related events, or an ongoing program or neighborhood public history project.

Applicants are encouraged to attend a free information session, which explains and addresses questions about the application and funding process. The session will be held Thursday, Jan. 11 from 3-4:30 p.m., in Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market St., second floor, room 243).

Immediately following the information session, the Historic Preservation Office will also announce the 2018 theme for Historic Preservation Month, which is held each May. The office will host a brief conversation for community partners to provide input on this year’s programs and to contribute events to the Historic Preservation Month calendar.

Applications are due Feb. 28. To find out more about the grant or to download an application, go to cityoftacoma.org/HeritageGrant or e-mail lhoogkamer@cityoftacoma.org or call (253) 591-5254.

DONATIONS STILL NEEDED FOR MILTON FIRE 

On Tuesday, Dec. 26 a two-alarm fire broke out at Alder Ridge Senior Apartments in Milton. Approximately 110 responders from multiple agencies fought the blaze. Firefighters and police helped evacuate 150 residents who were temporarily moved to Mill Ridge Village in Milton. No injuries were reported.

Here is how you can help: Columbia Bank has set up an account and is accepting donations at any branch. Stop in to any Columbia Bank to donate if you can. Gift cards to local grocery stores are also very much needed, which can be dropped off at 2018 54th Ave. E., Fife.

LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED 

ABOUT REVERSE MORTGAGES

Few financial products generate as much debate and confusion as reverse mortgages. It is not a resolution for immediate financial difficulties. But for seniors who want to stay in their home for the long term, it may be a decision worth considering. Like any major financial decision, people have to do their homework before determining if it is the right tool.

Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources will host an information-only presentation about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages. Participants will learn about the basics of the program, pitfalls and advantages, steps and time needed for application, how the long-term costs and benefits are realized, and why some consumers end up in default. “Reverse Mortgages: The Upside and The Downside” will be held twice in January 2018:

Jan. 12: 12-1 p.m. at the Pierce County Annex, 2401 S. 35th St. in Tacoma

Jan. 13: 10-11 a.m. at the Pierce County Sound View Building, 3602 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma

“It’s often said that home is where the heart is,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources manager. “Staying at home may be difficult without effective financial supports. A reverse mortgage can be a wise choice or a terrible alternative. It requires homeowners to do their homework, evaluate alternatives and follow through on obligations.”

With a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), you pay an FHA-approved lender an upfront fee and then have access to a percentage of your home equity. The loan is repaid when you move, sell the home, die, or fail to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance to maintain the property. The maximum size of a reverse mortgage depends on your age, home value, interest rate and upfront costs.

In the last year a number of significant changes have been instituted. With the goal of strengthening the program and reducing foreclosures, new limits on borrowing have been set, upfront mortgage insurance premiums are changing and annual mortgage insurance premiums are dropping.

“Reverse Mortgages: The Upside and The Downside” presentations are free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. In case of bad weather, on the day of each presentation call (253) 798-8787 for possible weather postponement. For more information about the presentation, call (253) 798-4600.

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