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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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July 25, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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July 25, 2012
 

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AIO Wednesday, July 25, 2012 Do you know where your 9 money IS. The 401 (k) plan is one of the most popular retirement plans available. Employers typically offer these plans for the benefit of their employees. However, many people will change jobs multiple times in their lives, and for some, this can mean having sever- al 401(k) accounts, complicating re- tirement savings and losing track of assets. When employees leave their posi- tions, they have three options for their 401 (k) plan assets. First, they can cash out their 401(k)s. However, with- drawing funds from a 401(k) plan re- sults in taxes on the money taken out and can also lead to a 10 percent ear- ly withdraw- al penalty if the employee is under age 59 1/2. Both of these fees eat into sav- ings and can potential- ly postpone retirement. These losses .are entire- ly preventable with options two and three. The second option for an old 401 (k) plan is to roll it into a new employer's 401(k) plan. In most cases, new em- ployees are eligible to roll over their old funds into new accounts. How- ever, there are several drawbacks associated with this option as well. Since 401(k)s are employer-spon- sored plans, participants (the employ- ees and investors) are tied to the rules and limited by the investment op- tions offered within their new compa- nies' 401 (k) plans. In addition, certain 401(k) plans will have excessively high fees associated with them. Like the penalties of the first option, fees can hurt potential growth. The final choice available for prior companies' 401 (k) funds is to rollover the assets into an IRA. Either broker- age firms or mutual fund companies will hold the IRA, and the account it- self can either be a traditional or Roth IRA. Each of these options has their own benefits and disadvantages. Brokerage firm-held IRAs, while offering the most flexibility, typically have the highest costs. Although these accounts allow account holders to in- vest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and exchange traded funds, certain brokers charge high transaction fees. Conversely, rolling over assets to a mutual fund company is usually the least expensive investment method. However, account holders are limited to the funds offered by their mutual fund companies. The second consideration for IRAs is to open a traditional or Roth IRA. In a traditional IRA, contributions to the account are pre-tax, and the funds are taxed upon withdrawal. Roth contri- butions are made on a post-tax basis, and the money in the account grows tax-free and is not taxed upon disper- sal. Because traditional contributions are normally made in higher amounts (since they are not taxed), the tradi- tional IRA funds tend to grow more rapidly. However, if the tax bracket that the investor will be in upon re- tirement is a concern, it may be safer to invest in a Roth IRA that will be untaxed during the investor's golden years. There are other tax considerations when rolling over 40 1 (k) assets. Both 401(k) to 401(k) and 401(k) to tra- ditional IRA rollovers will not affect the taxable income of the investor. A 401 (k) to Roth IRA will affect taxable income and can potentially increase the investor's marginal tax rate. If you roll over your 401 (k), there are several steps you must take to en- sure a smooth transition: Cheek with your current 401(k) provider for eligibility and gather the necessary forms. If your previ- ous employer has not yet notified their 40 l(k) provider that you have severed ties with them, you may be temporari- ly ineligible for a rollover. Often, pro- viders will deny claims without any reason given, and this discourages many investors who may not attempt to roll over their funds again. If you are able to roll the funds over, you should ask your former employer for necessary forms in order to begin the process. Ask what your new provider needs. Your new provider will need a different set of paperwork in order to accept your rollover. Make sure you See HOXTON Page A11 Ranson optometrist to hold grand opening Saturday Dr. Barbara Pittaras has been an optometrist in Jefferson Cgunty for years butnow she has a place of.her own in The eye care ano eyewear snop is ~ocateo at Potomac MarKetpmce just down from the we s supermarket. Ranson. She'll hold a grand opening celebration at Electra Vision Saturday. I CHRISTINE MILLER FORD Spirit Staff trust you with such an important aspect of their lives. RANSON - Dr. Barbara Pittaras re- "But now that I'm on my own here, members just when she knew that she'd I love having control over every aspect pursue a profession that helped people of the patient's experience - I'm able see more clearly. As an eighth-grader, an to take even better care of my patients optometrist- Greek, like her- spoke at now because I can ensure the highest her Florida school for Career Day. quality at each step of the process." "I was already thinking about some Pittaras has taken care to create a kind of medical career - I'd always en- pleasurable experience for her custom- joyed and excelled in science and math ers, down to the smallest details - such - but after that, I knew I wanted to be an as the color and layout of Electra's wait- optometrist, she said. ing area and the beautiful wood display Now that she's opened her own prac- cases for eyeglass frames that she had rice in Ranson, Pittaras says she's cer- a local builder create to her'specifica- tain she made the right career choice, tions. "I feel such a passion for this work," But while the interior of Electra is said Pittaras, who this weekend cele- pleasing to the eye, it's eye care itself brates the grand opening of Electra Vi- that is Pittaras's main focus. sion, her upscale eye care and eyewear Her professional training has been shop near the Weis supermarket in Poto- extensive, starting with a biology de- mac Marketplace in Ranson. gree from the University of South Flor- Before opening her own practice, ida and then advanced degrees from the Pittaras spent years as an optometrist at University of Alabama at Birmingham the Walmart in Charles Town. and Inter-American University of Puer- In that job, Pittaras had to conform to to Rico. the approach the large national retailer She also has earned designation as laid out for all their stores. Now that a Fellow of the American Academy of she's free to make all the decisions, Pit- Optometry. taras said she finds she enjoys her work Pittaras also completed additional res- even more. idency training to become an expert in "When I was at Walmart, I loved be- cornea and contact lenses. She is able ing able to take care of my patients - to fit lenses even for patients that have I loved the way they returned again never been able to wear contacts. and again and recommended me to their family and friends," she said. "It always felt good to know that people See PWFARAS Page A11 Says Pittaras a Florida nat.ive: =(feel such a passion for this work. Being able to see is such an enormous part or all our ~ives. Rnowing i can netp someone see the way they Should makes this sucn a gratifying career." BRYAN CLARK AND CHRISTINE MILLER FORD Spirit Staff CHARLES TOWN - The United Way of the Eastern Panhandle has announced that Tiffany Lawrence will join the nonprofit organization as its director of resource development and market- ing, said Peter Mulford, who became the United Way's president and CEO earlier this summer. Law- rence, who is currently the manager of market- ing and public relations at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, will step down from that post Tiffany Lawrence to,join the United Way, efective Aug. 20. , The 30-year-old replaces Vicki Shean, who recently relocated to a similar post in Ranson at the Eastem Panhandle Free Clinic. "I think it is just a great new opportunity and a great new challenge - one that will be rewarding in multiple ways," said Lawrence, who added that she looks forward to "living out the mission of the United Way." "With my marketing baekground and my public relations background, I think it is go- ing to be a perfect fit for me," said Lawrence, who currently represents West Virginia's 58th District in the House of Delegates. She is seek- ing re-election in the newly drawn 65th District and will face Republican Jill Upson in the gen- eral election in November. Said Mulford: "We certainly expect our greater community, our partners and most im- portantly those we all serve to be the beneficia- rieS of Tiffany's energy, expertise and passion- ate engagement as she takes on her role." This will not be Lawrence's first stint at the United Way. She interned at the organization when she was an undergraduate at Shepherd College. While there, she said, she worked on marketing strategy for an important fundrais- See LAWRENCE Page A11 regulators seek answers from utilities CHARLESTON (AP) -- West Virginia regulafors have or-I dered power and water companies statewide to assess their re- sponses to powerful windstorms in late June that left hundreds of thousands of customers without power. The state Public Service Commission on Friday also asked the utilities to explain how they will prepare for similar weath- er events. A June 29 windstorm and subsequent storms left more than" half a million West Virginians without power. Some had to' wait nearly two weeks to have their power restored. While the commission acknowledged the utilities worked long hours to restore service, it also noted that many power failures left customers sweltering in high temperatures, com- pounding the impact of the storms. The Charleston Gazette reported Saturday the utilities have~ 30 days to submit their reports. The commissioners are requiring responses from Appala-i chian Power Co Wheeling Power Co Monongahela Power Co The Potomac Edison Co Harrison Rural Electrification' Association Inc the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative,I See UTILITIES Page A11