Archive for January, 2006

Don’t let winter woes get you down

I know that people might think I’m crazy, but I’m glad to be back at school. All my friends live hours away and there’s only so much you can do in my hometown.

A lot of people get the “blahs” in the winter. The winter season itself is depressing. The weather is (supposed to be) cold, the sun sets early, and after the holidays, you end up thinking, “Now what?”
If that’s not enough, students realize that the end of the holiday season means that school will be starting soon. Want something even more depressing? After looking at the calendar, students find that their next vacation isn’t until spring break.

So how do you beat the winter blahs? Since I’m not a psychiatrist, I did a little research on the Internet.

On momscape.com, it says, “Don’t pack away all your Christmas decorations. Leave a few around the house as a reminder of the spirit of Christmas.” I wouldn’t leave your three-story inflatable snowman in the front yard, but leaving out a little Christmas decoration might not be a bad idea.

It’s already a New Year’s resolution, so why not exercise. Not only will exercising help you lose that inch, but it will also raise your mood. The weather in Martin has been perfect for exercising outdoors.

WebMD.com says, “… Not only can your physical well-being be improved through activity, but symptoms of depression, tension, and anger — all of which may be more common during this season — can also be minimized through daily physical activity.”

Students might feel down because they’re away from their family after spending a month surrounded by loved ones.

What can you do to make yourself feel less lonely? Get together with your friends and talk about all the great things that happened over the break.

Another idea is to celebrate the holidays with your friends when you get back to school. Students celebrate the holidays with their family, but hardly ever get to celebrate with their friends. Who cares if you’re having a Christmas party in the middle of January? As long as you’re having fun, then what’s the big deal?

The funniest thing I heard was a group of friends throwing a big exchange party. Every year, students always get one present that they don’t need or want.

Friends get together and swap gifts. You might find something that you want, but your friend getting rid of it. So your friend gives you the present that she didn’t want and finds something to replace the unwanted gift.

This way, everyone is happy with what they get, it didn’t cost anything, and you have a great time with your friends.

The main thing to remember is that when you’ve got the blahs, it’s important to surround yourself with friends. Whatever you’re feeling won’t seem so bad if you have someone there to help you out.
The winter months are always hard for people. Even if you’re feeling a bit sad, just remember that it’s only a few more months until spring. No more grey skies or cold wind, and the spring season means spring break.

As always, if you feel like you can’t shake the depression you’re in, go find someone professional to help you. Your feelings shouldn’t affect you so much that you can’t function.

For those of you who are counting, spring break is March 13. That’s only a little over 50 days away. You’ve got to have something to look forward to, right?

Town chairman quits as festive lights slammed

THE chairman of Whitehaven’s Town Centre Group quit yesterday in a row over the 2005 Christmas lights.

Carla Arrighi was outraged at remarks by the Chamber of Trade which described the lights and festivities as “tasteless” and a “flop.”

She has also resigned from the chamber of trade, which she accused of “muck-slinging” and called for it to apologise to Gerard Richardson and Sherrie Lewthwaite of the Whitehaven Maritime Festival committee, who organised the activities, on a volunteer basis, in just six weeks.

The row broke out after the chamber published the minutes of last Monday’s meeting which said: “Christmas lights and festivities (or lack of them) and the costs involved were discussed. The general consensus of opinion was that the lights were tasteless and many did not work, even at the ‘switch on’ and the ‘events’ were a complete ‘flop’ particularly after the success and buzz of the last two years (reindeer and camels).”

“Even shops had not been encouraged to make their windows festive and Dixon’s, particularly, on Lowther Street had been a disgrace!

“There had been many disappointed people in Whitehaven this year and many negative comments from the public had been heard.”

Ms Arrighi said: “I’m raging.

“The chamber did not hold an open debate and if they are not capable of doing so, it’s time to consider the future.

“The Christmas lights were the result of a lot of hard work by myself, Gerard and Sherrie, who dedicated a huge number of free man-hours at the busiest retail time of the year to help fill a one-year gap.”

Organisers spent £11,500 of a £14,500 funding package from Copeland council and the county council, British Nuclear Group and the Town Centre Group on the switch-on event, which included carol singing, stilt-walkers, jugglers, children’s lantern displays, a three-beamed searchlight from the top of St Nicholas Tower, a laser light projection, CFM roadshow with DJ Robbie Dee and live music from The Marratimes and Cory Spedding.

Mr Richardson has called for chamber chairman Steve Phillips to resign for allowing “shocking” and “hurtful” comments to go out.

He also said it was wrong for people to compare the switch-on with previous years, which had much time and money spent on them.

There was no parade because the insurance had run out and there was no money to pay for new cover.

Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn was angered by the chamber’s “unfair” criticism. She wants Ms Arrighi to reconsider her resignation.

“If you speak to the majority of people who attended the lights switch-on you will find that they really enjoyed it. The organisers only had weeks to pull it together and they did a fantastic job.

“They should be congratulated not criticised, especially when nobody else came forward to take it on.”

Chamber of trade treasurer Craig Kershaw, who is also on the town centre group, apologised for any offence.

He said the remarks were second-hand comments from customers that had been passed on and he had made a mistake in allowing them to be minuted.

“We have apologised to the people we have offended. I am absolutely gobsmacked that Carla has resigned,” he said.

Christmas light display leads to business offers

A southwest Ohio homeowner whose computerized Christmas light show gained national attention is getting business offers to produce other shows.

“From a creative point of view, it’s nice that people appreciate the work I’ve done,” said Carson Williams, 40, who pulled the plug on his display Dec. 6 because of safety concerns and increased traffic from sightseers. The attention led to national appearances on NBC’s “Today” show, and his house was featured in a Miller Lite beer commercial.

Now the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens is courting Williams to set up a Christmas display later this year.

“We have a long history of bringing in new entertainment. His would rank right up there as one of the best shows,” zoo spokesman Chad Yelton said.

Williams, a computer engineer for Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, said he’s also fielded light show requests from a motor speedway and a retailer that develops shopping malls.

Williams spent nearly two months hooking up 25,000 lights, programing them to flash to Christmas music. Hundreds of cars drove by his house north of Cincinnati. The music was broadcast through a low FM transmitter, so that passers-by could pick it up on their car radios and the music wouldn’t be played through the neighborhood.

See also: 25,000 lights dance to the music

Boom time for debt advisers as Christmas bills roll in

DEBT advice lines have reported a surge in calls during the first two weeks of the year as consumers take stock of their borrowings after Christmas.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service said it took 9,310 calls during the first nine working days of the year, nearly 14 per cent more than during the corresponding period of 2005.

National Debtline also reported huge demand, receiving just under 13,000 calls between 3 January and lunchtime last Friday.

The group admitted the surge in demand had left it struggling to cope, with around two-thirds of calls going unanswered, although it stressed that most people eventually got through.

It added that it was recruiting 25 staff to add to the 55 people who currently answer its phones.

Richard Gale, a National Debtline spokesman, said

there was always a surge immediately after Christmas, but the company was receiving more calls this year because consumers were more aware of where they could get help, rather than simply because debt levels had worsened.

He said callers owed an average of between £5,000 and £15,000 each, but some had amassed debts of more than £100,000.

In 1994 just 36,321 people called National Debtline during the whole year, but by 2004 this had soared to 131,206.

Britons now owe more than £1 trillion through mortgages, loans, overdrafts and credit and store cards.

The latest government figures show that more than 12,000 people in England and Wales were declared bankrupt during the third quarter of 2005, the highest figure since records began 40 years ago.

Homeowner behind Christmas light display now in demand

His spectacular holiday light display was unplugged long before Christmas, but Carson Williams is still enjoying his time in the limelight.

His light show north of Cincinnati has been featured in a Miller Lite commercial, and Williams says the Cincinnati Zoo wants him to help with its display later this year.

The Deerfield Township man says he has also been contacted by a motor speedway, a major shopping mall developer and a shopping center in Guam.
Williams says he’s taking all the attention in stride.

He wrapped his home in 25,000 lights and synchronized them to music. The house was featured on the “Today” show and other programs, but traffic gridlock led Williams to pull the plug in early December.

See also: 25,000 lights dance to the music

Ghost of Christmas past

Are the holiday bills of 2005 starting to haunt your mailbox?

If this is a dreaded time of year for your financial state, with the credit-card loans coming due, there are successful methods to address this potential monster. And it starts with some personal financial basics, according to a consumer credit counselling service.

First, assess your cash. How much do you have in the chequing account, money market or other cash balances? Many people aren’t 100 per cent sure, especially if they’re spending more time at the ATM than on balancing their chequebook.

Next, co-ordinate your bills. How often do you open the credit card company envelope, rip off the little payment sheet to send back with your check and then toss the rest of the mailing. Stop doing that. The rest of that form contains your overall balance, itemized spending and interest rate data. You need to know these things, especially if you’re rarely certain how the amount due got so high.

Prioritize your expenses. Which bills carry the highest interest rates, which bills have harsh penalties?

A Kubasonics Christmas

Last weekend, Ukrainians everywhere finally caught up on the feasting and frolicking with the arrival of their Christmas occasion.

And in a province chock full of Ukrainian Canadians, it’s no wonder the Kubasonics’ Ukrainian Christmas concert at Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove was sold out long in advance.

Putting a fun-loving spin on traditional Ukrainian music, the Kubasonics are overflowing with energy.

Band leader Brian Cherwick is absolutely hilarious and kept all the babas in the audience chuckling, between the group’s toe-tapping numbers.

The concert attracted many rural guests.

And when a surprised group of Ukrainian carollers appeared and addressed the crowd, I was surprised to find at least half the venue answered back in their native language.

It was a special night and the fantastic venue made it all the better.

If you’ve ever see a particular artist or group you enjoy scheduled at Spruce Grove’s Horizon Stage, making the trip out there is well worth the effort.

Santa delivered audiences for Christmas shows

Christmas — or more particularly, Christmas-themed shows — proved kind to local theaters, stuffing their stockings with cash at year’s end.

The Guthrie Theater’s last production of “A Christmas Carol” at Vineland Place sold 96 percent of its seats. More than 53,000 patrons saw one of the 43 final performances of the familiar holiday classic, surpassing the theater’s projections.

The Guthrie will move itself — and, presumably, its venerable and lucrative holiday play — to a new home on the Minneapolis riverfront later this year. Though “Hamlet” will mark the final performances at the soon-to-be “old Guthrie,” marketing director Tricia Kirk said the last-year tug was an effective pull for “Christmas Carol.”

“We had more (season ticket) subscribers attend the show than in previous years,” she said. “I think a lot of people wanted to take advantage of seeing the show as a way to say goodbye to the building.”

The Children’s Theatre Company’s production of “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” finished its run last Sunday as the biggest-grossing show in the theater’s history. With rock-solid name recognition and an amiable, tap-happy staging, the show sold nearly $1.2 million worth of tickets, according to public relations director Linda Jacobs.

Playing to about 91 percent of capacity, “Aladdin” broke the box-office record set by the 2002 production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Penumbra Theatre Company’s “Black Nativity” just met expectations, selling about 75 percent of its seats.

The theater brought back its traditional holiday production after a one-year hiatus in 2004. Last year’s production, riding a wave of good will and nostalgia, played to 87 percent of capacity. Emboldened by that success, the theater expanded the number of performances for 2005 and opened on the highly competitive Thanksgiving weekend.

That gave the production a slow start, said managing director Chris Oshikata, but with an increased ticket price, the 2005 production had a better per-show box office average than the 2004 staging.

Theatre de la Jeune Lune — never one to pander to the holidays — opted for a small-scale staged version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic book, “The Little Prince.”

The show sold about 70 percent of capacity, “almost exactly meeting our projection,” according to producing director Steve Richardson. The show sold out its opening-weekend performances over Thanksgiving, dipped some and then closed with a string of six sold-out shows between Christmas and New Year’s.

Not all theaters had success with their winter productions. The Jungle Theater sold only 56 percent of its seats for its “anti-holiday” staging of the comic chestnut, “Same Time, Next Year.”

Managing director Margo Gisselman said the theater projected the show to play to about 70 percent of capacity and called the audience shortfall “a minor disappointment.”

The Great American History Theatre hit about 90 percent of its projected revenue with its second annual holiday staging of “Christmas of Swing,” featuring the music of the Andrews Sisters.

Holiday musicals are always strong sellers at his theater, said artistic director Ron Peluso, but holiday shows seldom do as well in the second year as they did in the first.

And “Christmas of Swing” — the History Theatre’s biggest-selling Christmas show when it premiered in 2004 — repeated itself this year in a season with only four shows on the schedule. The repetition, Peluso said, put a drag on season ticket sales and on “Swing’s” stand-alone financial performance. The theater will announce a new holiday title for 2006 later this year.

Some small theaters, though, have had success building an annual holiday franchise. At tiny Theater Latte Da, “A Christmas Carole Petersen” finished its sixth year with a 25 percent increase in box-office income and a 20 percent bump in attendance from last year.

The off-kilter, autobiographical comedy, featuring Tod Petersen talking about small family dramas and growing up gay in Mankato, doesn’t exactly tie in with Latte Da’s mission of doing new or unknown work.

But it’s difficult to argue with success.

“Two or three years ago, I was saying I didn’t want to do this every year,” said artistic director Peter Rothstein. The show’s draw as an audience-builder convinced him otherwise.

“Last year,” he said, “we did a survey and found out that 65 percent of our audiences for the show had never been inside the Loring Playhouse (Latte Da’s home) and 85 percent of them identified as being straight — all those straight people coming to see a gay man’s story at Christmastime.

“The show started out having this very urban, very gay audience,” Rothstein continued. “And then all the gay boys started bringing their sisters and their mothers. Now, we’re getting book clubs and church groups.”

Latte Da has already inked “Carole” for the 2006 holidays and may send the show out on a minitour in 2007, giving the show a chance to grow and the theater itself an opportunity to try to create a new holiday tradition.

It continues to look a lot like Christmas

It takes Santa only one night to deliver millions of presents to good little girls and boys.

So why, one North Texan asks, does her neighbor keep Christmas decorations up all year?

“She has hundreds upon hundreds of Santas in her house, and she keeps her tree up all year-round,” Jackie Millican said. “It drives me crazy because it is right in front of the door.”

Although Dixie Bruce and her Santa collection might be an extreme case – she said she can’t bear to hide her Christmas treasures in a box 11 months out of the year – she’s among countless others who leave their decorations up well past the yuletide season.

Neighbors might pout and fire officials cry, but some people have problems saying goodbye to their holiday cheer.

“I have a couple of neighbors who leave their lights up year-round, and it annoys the heck out of me,” said Danielle McClelland, a marketing manager who lives in Far East Dallas.

“I think it’s ridiculous and downright lazy of them to leave these icicle lights up in the middle of the summer. Their lack of regard for what is appropriate home decorating beyond the first week of January makes our entire neighborhood look less than desirable, in my opinion.”

Some neighborhood groups set rules specifying the date for removing holiday displays – most pick the last week of January – but the majority of North Texans are free to decide when – and whether – to take down the lights.

Conventional wisdom dictates Jan. 6 – also known as the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, when some Latinos exchange gifts – as the last day to remove lights and other holiday displays.

More punctual holiday decorators opt to undo their good work when they’re off on New Year’s Day or between football games during the first weekend in January.

“We tend to take ours down Jan. 1 because we know, after that, we will be going back to work, and we won’t have the time later,” said the Rev. Frederick Schmidt, an Episcopal priest and associate professor of Christian spirituality at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology.

Although the date’s not set in stone, the season should be, said one woman whose neighbor left up Christmas lighting through Valentine’s Day last year. Her holiday cheer was spread so thin by Feb. 19 that she wrote about it on her blog, poppymom.com.

“It’s one thing to not take the lights down. It’s another entirely to keep lighting them two months after the holiday’s over,” said Robin Wheeler of St. Louis. “And they were truly horrible, tacky decorations. Seriously, who spray-paints ‘Merry X-Mas’ on their door in fake snow?”

Neglecting to undeck the halls might also be dangerous, said Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender.

Most holiday lights weren’t designed to withstand a year outdoors. North Texas’ blistering summers can warp the plastic, which may cause an electrical short or fire, and critters – squirrels, not reindeer – might chew on the wires.

Lt. Lavender’s advice is to take the lights down in a timely fashion and, if possible, get a new set each year.

“The most important thing is that your family is worth the extra effort,” he said.

Tekeste Tesfasion admits he was a little naughty last year. He left his lights up – though not on – saying it was easier to keep them hanging on his Far East Dallas house than take them down and put them up again.

He isn’t concerned about safety hazards.

“My son is an electrician,” he said.

Ron Veech, who helps run the Kessler Park neighborhood’s popular holiday lighting event in north Oak Cliff, said his community doesn’t have problems with lighting loiterers. He understands why some people might not be raring to remove their holiday decorations.

“Everyone is excited about putting them up,” said Mr. Veech, who usually takes his decorations down around New Year’s Day. “But taking them down – it’s a chore. No one wants to do that.”

Ms. Bruce, who lives in Nocona, about 100 miles northwest of Dallas, is so averse to removing her decorations that she’s kept them up for 25 years.

Her living room walls are awash with Santa statues. She has Santa cookie jars, music boxes, snow globes, cookie cutters, soap, picture frames, candles, playing cards and a teakettle.

Inside the doorway, she has an artificial Christmas tree that comes down only one day each year, for dusting.

She has a sign that reads “Santa Stop” fixed to the outside of her house and a lighted St. Nick pole above her door that shines at night.

She wears her Santa socks in July. Most of her wardrobe is red.

For her, Christmas is not a day. It’s a way of life.

“If you had a beautiful collection of crystal, wouldn’t you display it all the time?” she said. “This is part of who I am.”

The Observer Christmas Appeal

The Observer Christmas Appeal was launched last November in a bid to raise funds for Book Aid International, which each year supplies more than half a million books to some of the world’s poorest countries. Last week the charity was celebrating as donations from Observer readers topped £100,000.

After reading our series of reports from Kenya, the Palestinian territories and Malawi, some 2,250 readers were inspired to support the small London-based charity.

Sara Harrity, director of Book Aid International, praised their generosity. ‘We are a small charity, so you can imagine that £100,000 makes a big difference,’ she said. ‘This appeal has been incredibly valuable both in financial terms and as a great opportunity to raise awareness about our work.

‘Observer readers’ donations will ensure that we can provide 67,000 books to readers. Thank you so very much.’

Book Aid International’s projects in the coming year include providing books to schools and public libraries in Zimbabwe and Sudanese and Somali refugee camps in Kenya.

Among the charity’s supporters are the writers J.K. Rowling, Richard Curtis, Benjamin Zephaniah and Alexander McCall Smith, who said: ‘Nobody who has been in a developing country and seen the hunger for the printed word could ask what the point of Book Aid International is. The work of this organisation responds to that hunger and brings knowledge and pleasure to many, many thousands of people throughout the world.’

Together at last: Miller siblings gather for Christmas

All 11 of the Miller children were separated after their mother died during childbirth. The last day they all spent together was Christmas of 1963 until this December, when the Miller children gathered for the first time in 43 years.

The children, Virginia, Jeanne, Christine, Stephen, James, Jane, Ricky, Debra, Carol, Pam and Bernie have seen each other over the years during family picnics and Christmases, but someone was always missing. This Christmas, marked the first time that all 11 were in the same room at the same time.

“It was tough,” said Virginia Miller, the oldest Miller child. “We had a hell of a life.”

Their mother had died and their father was unable to care for the children because of his alcoholism, Virginia said.

Virginia married in April 1964 to escape going into a foster home. She thought if she was married she would be able to keep some of her brothers and sisters with her, but the county Department of Social Services thought Virginia was too young.

The first to be taken out of the house the day after Christmas was Pam, who was adopted by a family in Herkimer. The baby, Bernie, was also adopted and his new parents changed his name to Michael.

Stephen, Jim, Debby, and Rick were sent to foster homes in the Middleville area, Virginia explained. Crystal and Carol went to a foster home in Columbia Center. Jeanne and Jane were sent to foster homes near Newport.

Eventually Carol and Rick were adopted by the children’s, mother’s cousin and lived in Oneida until they moved to Pittsburgh, Pa. Rick entered the Air Force, and stayed there for 10 years. Both Mike and Stephen entered the military. Mike entered the Navy, while Stephen enlisted in the Army.

Rick, Stephen and Mike and a cousin of theirs met, while they were all in service in Italy. It was a coincidence, Virginia explained.

Rick married young, Virginia said, and had a son from that union. He married again, this time an English woman. Their union produce three children, a son, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and two daughters. Rick lived in England for 20 years, before moving back to the Mohawk Valley. He currently lives in Rome.

“Carol finished high school in Pittsburgh,” Virginia said. “and somehow ended up in Las Vegas, where she’s lived for almost 25 years.”

Carol has two daughters.

Mike’s adoptive parents eventually divorced and his adoptive mother had died at the age of 36. Before her death, she remarried, and Mike lived with him. Mike also moved to Rome after being discharged from the military. He has two daughters as well.

Debby left her foster home at 16 and lived on her own.

“She has always been a hard worker,” Virginia explained. Debby now has two daughters and five grandchildren. She lives near Johnstown, N.Y.

Since high school, Jeanne has lived on her own. She graduated from Herkimer Junior-Senior High School, and continues to live in Herkimer. She has one son and one daughter.

Christine moved to another foster home, and even stayed with Virginia during her senior year in Mohawk.

“She is a toughy, but is battling cancer right now,” Virginia said in an e-mail. “She went through treatment last year and is now going through it again.”

Before enlisting in the Army, Stephen had lived a few different foster homes. Stephen, a Desert Storm, Gulf War veteran, was a medic in the Army. He lives currently in Ilion and has one daughter and a stepdaughter as well.

Jim lived in one foster home. He graduated from West Canada Junior Senior High School. He married in 1973 and had two sons, one who died in a snowmobile accident two years ago. His other son, enlisted into the Air Force and currently lives in Wyoming. Jim built his house in the same area he grew up in, which is near Middleville, Virginia explained.

Jane lived in many foster homes, until her brother Jim. Her last foster home was in Little Falls.

“She has always been self-supporting and is self-employed,” Virginia said.

Jane currently lives in Ilion with her husband of 12 years.

“Over the years, most of us would get together and have a picnic in the summer and then get together at Christmas,” Virginia explained, “but there was always someone missing and we’ve never been able to be all together in the same room since that Christmas in 1963.”

Pam never met Rick or Carol since 1963. Pam was missing from the family picnics and Christmases over the years. Virginia explained that Pam’s adoptive parents were cautious about letting her spend time with her brothers and sisters. Pam and Rick met at an impromptu gathering at Denny’s Restaurant in September. Pam and Carol met on Christmas. Pam hadn’t seen her sister since she was 2.

“Our family has been through all their ups and downs like any family has, but this was what we all wanted to see, just once in our lives, to have us all in the same room,” Virginia said. “It happened and we are so thankful that God let us have that moment.”

Blackout for Christmas lights

THERE may be no Christmas lights in Solihull this year, unless a private sponsor comes forward to provide funding.

The shock proposal was revealed during Monday’s meeting of Solihull Council’s local services committee, as members discussed the budget framework for 2006.

Thrifty officials cited a possible £47,000 saving in stopping the festive lights, a useful contribution as the committee strives to save ten per cent of its budget, and help the council overall save £7 million from its annual spend.

Cllr David Bell, cabinet member for local services, admitted he was unhappy about making the decision.

“We have to make savings where we can and it is better to take it from here rather than things which will seriously affect people’s lives,” he said.

“But I’m hoping that if it is agreed then there will be alternatives because we all enjoy these things.”

Cllr Bell pointed to the cost of health and safety checks carried out on the lights and the volume of administration for taking up much of the £47,000 spent.

Distributing the lights across the borough is also a mammoth task, with workmen only recently completing the dismantling of last year’s Christmas illuminations.

But he added: “If a private sponsor comes forward then of course there will be Christmas lights. Already some of the funding is supplied by local groups like the Lions, so hopefully someone will come forward.”

The matter will now go forward to full cabinet to be decided.

Early Christmas for choir

MIXED choir Sheeanyn Millish is recording a CD of Christmas music.
The choir was established in 1992 when asked to sing at a wedding. The first men joined it in 1999.

Today the group — which rehearses at Port St Mary Baptist Church — includes sopranos Carole Coole, Pam Bell-Scott, Jane Cain, Barbara Kniveton, Joan Parker and Jean Callister; altos Sue Maddrell, Judy Sille, Iris Belshaw, Mary Gulland; tenors Charles Crossley, John Binns and Sue Bowes and basses John Qualtrough, Derek Allen and Phil Woodford.

A number of Christmas carols were recorded for the CD this month at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Port St Mary.

Other tracks are to be added soon and the idea is to release the CD in time for Christmas 2006.

Mr Woodford said: ‘The CD will be mainly Christmas music from this year’s programme with a sprinkling of light pieces such as Flying Free and As Long as I Have Music.

‘We try to include some pieces by our favourite American composers Don Besig and Nancy Price, whose style seems to suit our group.’

Christmas presents power boom in music downloads

Sales of digital music rocketed in the week after Christmas, with British consumers downloading a record 1 million tracks to their new portable music players.

The proliferation of portable music players last year saw worldwide sales of music over the internet and mobile phones triple to $1.1bn (£624m), according to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry’s annual digital music report, released yesterday. Digital downloads account for 6% of record companies’ revenue, compared with virtually zero two years ago.

Last year the mobile phone became a music device, and 40% of digital tracks sold were downloaded to mobiles. Ringtones that were excerpts of original recordings accounted for the bulk of these.

Consumers bought more than 60m portable music players such as Apple’s iPod last year and Christmas gifts of iPods and similar devices fuelled the 1 million downloads sold in Britain in the final week of last year, double the weekly average. Digital music is even more popular in America – 20 million digital tracks were bought in the week after Christmas.

After the bumper post-Christmas download figures IFPI chairman John Kennedy backed predictions that digital downloads could account for a quarter of global music sales by 2010. As less than 5% of European internet users regularly buy music online now, Mr Kennedy said there was vast potential for the industry to grow.

“A new wave of digital commerce, from mobile to broadband, is rolling out across the world,” he said. “It is generating billions of dollars and it is being driven to a large extent by music.” There are now 2 million tracks and 165,000 albums available to download legally. Apple iTunes is leading the growth of digital music, selling more than 600 million downloads last year.

The UK was the fastest-growing online music market in Europe, with single track sales quadrupling to 25 million last year. The IFPI says it is beating music piracy in Britain, with research showing there were more people buying music online than swapping files illegally (5% vs 4%).

However, the IFPI warned piracy remained the greatest threat to the worldwide music industry. Despite waging high-profile legal campaigns against music pirates (20,000 cases in 17 countries), the number of illegal file sharers remained static in 2005. Mr Kennedy said it had proved difficult to persuade illegal downloaders to start paying for their music. He called on internet service providers to join the fight against piracy. “If we had more co-operation from ISPs we could be much more successful,” he said. “It’s been a year since I first appealed for help and I’ve had effectively no response.”

The IFPI wants internet service providers to warn customers illegally downloading that they risk their internet access being cut off. Mr Kennedy said that if they failed to “play ball”, he would either lobby Brussels to impose regulations or take legal action.

Britain’s ISP industry body, ISPA, said it could not cut customers off unless it was ordered to do so by a “relevant authority”. “We don’t condone illegal file sharing,” an ISPA spokesman said. “But there is a legal process that has to be followed through.”

Top 10 downloads of 2005

1 James Blunt You’re Beautiful

2 Madonna Hung Up

3 Daniel Powter Bad Day

4 Sugababes Push the Button

5 Robbie Williams Tripping

6 Gorillaz Feel Good Inc

7 Black Eyed Peas Don’t Phunk with My Heart

8 Coldplay Speed of Sound

9 Kanye West Gold Digger

10 Pussycat Dolls Don’t Cha

Source: Nielsen SoundScan

Satellite radio top Christmas seller

Local electronics retailers got a big Christmas present from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) over the holidays.

The hottest items on the shelves in December were satellite radios. None of the retailers contacted by The Interior News were able to estimate how many of the devices they sold but they all said they were virtually flying off the shelves.

Glynn Sayeau, store manager at Canadian Tire said his store could barely keep them in stock.

“We did our best to keep up with demand,” he said.

“I think there were only a couple of days that we were sold out.”

The owner of Totem Audio Video Binh Tran agreed.

“It was definitely one of our top sellers,” he said.

Don Malkow of The Source by Circuit City was very happy but understated about their sales results saying simply: “We sold a lot.”

Tran attributed the rush directly to the CRTC’s July decision to allow the service in Canada.

“It’s been in the U.S. for three years now, but they just started to do that in Canada around the beginning of December,” he said.

“Now you can get Canadian programming, so I think that’s why [the radios were so popular.]”

Sayeau thinks customers in the Northwest region are particularly attracted to the new service because of remote conditions.

“There are really only two [radio] stations and the roads are pretty bumpy so people are getting away from their CD players,” he said.

He cited flexibility as the greatest attribute of the new service including the ability to program the receiver to scan for songs or artists you want to hear and alert you when they are being played on other stations.

Malkow said the lack of commercials was also a huge selling feature.

Satellite radio is actually a bit of a misnomer because not all the programming is broadcast by satellite. It’s more appropriately called subscription radio and that’s how broadcasters are able to provide commercial-free service.

Calling the device a radio is also a bit of a misnomer. The receiver you purchase works in conjunction with your existing radio in much the same way a digital receiver works in conjunction with your TV. There are models available for both in-car and home use and you can use it on either the FM or AM band.

The technology is being lauded as the biggest advance in broadcasting since FM. It’s all-digital, providing CD-quality sound and works from coast to coast without having to switch frequencies between towns.

There are two providers of the service in Canada, Sirius Canada and XM Satellite Radio.

Sirius offers 100 channels, 60 of which are commercial-free music stations, for $14.99 per month. Six of its ten Canadian offerings are produced by the CBC.

For $12.99 per month XM features over 80 channels in 17 programming categories, eight of which are Canadian.

CHUM, the Toronto-based media conglomerate, also proposed and was approved for an all-Canadian service but is undecided yet whether they will exercise it because of a dispute with the broadcasting regulator over the competitive advantage of the U.S.-based Sirius and XM who are only required to provide ten per cent Canadian content.

Local electronics retailers got a big Christmas present from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) over the holidays.

The hottest items on the shelves in December were satellite radios. None of the retailers contacted by The Interior News were able to estimate how many of the devices they sold but they all said they were virtually flying off the shelves.

Glynn Sayeau, store manager at Canadian Tire said his store could barely keep them in stock.

“We did our best to keep up with demand,” he said.

“I think there were only a couple of days that we were sold out.”

The owner of Totem Audio Video Binh Tran agreed.

“It was definitely one of our top sellers,” he said.

Don Malkow of The Source by Circuit City was very happy but understated about their sales results saying simply: “We sold a lot.”

Tran attributed the rush directly to the CRTC’s July decision to allow the service in Canada.

“It’s been in the U.S. for three years now, but they just started to do that in Canada around the beginning of December,” he said.

“Now you can get Canadian programming, so I think that’s why [the radios were so popular.]”

Sayeau thinks customers in the Northwest region are particularly attracted to the new service because of remote conditions.

“There are really only two [radio] stations and the roads are pretty bumpy so people are getting away from their CD players,” he said.

He cited flexibility as the greatest attribute of the new service including the ability to program the receiver to scan for songs or artists you want to hear and alert you when they are being played on other stations.

Malkow said the lack of commercials was also a huge selling feature.

Satellite radio is actually a bit of a misnomer because not all the programming is broadcast by satellite. It’s more appropriately called subscription radio and that’s how broadcasters are able to provide commercial-free service.

Calling the device a radio is also a bit of a misnomer. The receiver you purchase works in conjunction with your existing radio in much the same way a digital receiver works in conjunction with your TV. There are models available for both in-car and home use and you can use it on either the FM or AM band.

The technology is being lauded as the biggest advance in broadcasting since FM. It’s all-digital, providing CD-quality sound and works from coast to coast without having to switch frequencies between towns.

There are two providers of the service in Canada, Sirius Canada and XM Satellite Radio.

Sirius offers 100 channels, 60 of which are commercial-free music stations, for $14.99 per month. Six of its ten Canadian offerings are produced by the CBC.

For $12.99 per month XM features over 80 channels in 17 programming categories, eight of which are Canadian.

CHUM, the Toronto-based media conglomerate, also proposed and was approved for an all-Canadian service but is undecided yet whether they will exercise it because of a dispute with the broadcasting regulator over the competitive advantage of the U.S.-based Sirius and XM who are only required to provide ten per cent Canadian content.

iPods an every 3 seconds hit for Dixons

DIXONS stores were winners at Christmas, thanks to soaring sales of iPods and other hi-tech gifts.

Sales jumped eight per cent in the eight weeks to January 7. “This was very much a digital Christmas,” said boss John Clare.

“At peak times, we sold an MP3 player every three seconds. Games consoles, laptops, satnav systems and flat-screen TVs were all big winners.”

But the Christmas pick-up followed a torrid time for DSG International, which includes Currys, PC World and The Link.

Group operating profits plunged £20 million – 24 per cent – in the six months prior to the Christmas rush.

The Link suffered a 28 per cent drop in sales after losing the battle to sign up new mobile users on contracts. PC World saw an eight per cent slump. Currys sales slipped three.

Clare admitted concern about future trading as shoppers struggle to cope with rising tax and power bills.

Street crime down at Christmas

A CHRISTMAS crackdown on alcohol-related street crime led to a decrease in violent crime, police have claimed.

Police officers across the county arrested 235 people, visited 554 licensed premises and issued 55 Fixed Penalty Notices for alcohol related disorder offences under the Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign.

During the six-week campaign, which ran from November 14 to Christmas Eve, there were 11 per cent fewer assaults than in the same period the previous year.

The number of arrests for drunk and disorderly behaviour was also down by 20 per cent, despite the onset of 24-hour licensing.

Police officers carried out extra patrols as part of the campaign as well as visiting pubs and clubs to discuss opening hours, security arrangements and licensing conditions.

They believe the cold weather also helped keep crime levels down.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Parr said: “I would like to congratulate officers for preventing what could have been a great deal more incidents through close liaison with licensees and for the way they dealt with drunken and anti-social behaviour where it occurred.”

He added that police would continue to carry out public order patrols and penalise licensees who breach their licensing conditions.

Police also carried out a joint initiative with Hertfordshire Trading Standards to clamp down on the sale of alcohol to under-age drinkers.

Under-18-year-olds were sent into licensed premises to make “test-purchases”.

Out of 88 tests, ten resulted in a sale to the young person without their age being questioned or identification requested.

Trading Standards will be seeking a review of licenses in venues where alcohol was sold to under-18s.

Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Licensing Co-ordinator Inspector, Ian Stubbs, said: “It is vital that we send a very clear message to shops, pubs and clubs that selling alcohol to people under the age of 18 is inexcusable, irresponsible and anti-social.”

Pub savours Christmas – fares well

Enterprise Inns , Britain’s second-biggest pub owner, said on Thursday its business had performed well over Christmas, and it slammed the government’s handling of a forthcoming smoking ban in England.

The days of the week on which the Christmas holidays fell, favourable weather and a recent extension of opening hours were among the factors that boosted pub sales this past season.

“In line with everyone else, the run-up to Christmas was extremely good,” Chief Executive Ted Tuppen told Reuters ahead of the group’s annual general meeting.

“The period between Christmas and New Year was very solid,” he added. “And what’s important for us once Christmas is over is whether the cellars are still full, and they clearly weren’t, because the ordering after Christmas was good as well.”

Enterprise shares rose 1.5 percent to 942 pence by 0900 GMT, valuing the group at around 3.2 billion pounds.

Bridgewell Securities retained its “buy” recommendation and said Enterprise was its favoured stock in the pub sector.

With around 8,600 tenanted pubs, Enterprise was Britain’s biggest pub owner until last month, when rival Punch struck a 2.7 billion pound ($4.8 billion) deal to buy the Spirit pub group.

LED technology spurs product upgrades

A growing number of Christmas light makers in China are focusing on LED-fitted models as the demand for energy-efficient products surges.

Although more expensive than regular incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs consume less power and do not get hot, reducing the risk of overheating and fire. They also have a much longer life span that can extend to 100,000 hours. Incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, last anywhere from 8,000 to 25,000 hours.

With the LED industry booming in China, it has become convenient for Christmas light suppliers to obtain the volume of bulbs they need. In Shenzhen alone, there are more than 300 LED makers that together provide 70 percent of China’s output

Christmas light companies in China are offering a host of string and rope models, most of which have LED bulbs as the light source. The designs and lighting effects vary from basic, single color string lights to multicolor flashing rope lights.

Some of the latest Christmas lights from China include multicolor rope lights equipped with IC-controlled, color-changing LED bulbs. Different from typical LEDs that flash a single color only, color-changing LEDs light up in an array of shades. Companies have also developed string models that are safe to use in high and low voltages without needing a transformer.

The production of animated and musical LED or incandescent string lights likewise remains high. These models display lights in a choice of dazzling patterns such as chasing, waving, blinking, slow glow/fade and steady. They also play Christmas melodies that are synchronized with the lights.

In terms of refining appearance, China suppliers are coming up with designs that are more fitting for the season. For instance, the bulbs in some string models are encased in star-, pine tree-, snowflake- and flower-shaped housings, which can be clear or frosted.

Christmas in January as troops return with money to burn

After a short test drive, Army Spc. Todd Strange steps out from behind the wheel of the eight-cylander muscle car and gushes to the salesman: “Oh, sweet! I love it!”

Barely 30 hours after returning home from Iraq, Strange drove to Hinesville Ford to trade in his 2001 Dodge Neon and left the car lot in a new 2006 Mustang GT, pricetag $26,320.

“Ever since I could drive, I knew the Mustang was THE muscle car, the one I want,” said Strange, 26, of St. Louis. “I’m buying the car to show off, pretty much.”

Business has boomed in this southeast Georgia military town since thousands of 3rd Infantry Division troops from neighboring Fort Stewart began returning from a yearlong tour in Iraq just after Christmas.

Soldiers are coming home to bank accounts flush with combat pay, tax breaks and other bonuses tacked onto their paychecks during wartime deployments. And when the fighting ends, the spending begins.

Retailers who suffered through 2005 with some of their best customers overseas now worry about keeping new cars, plasma TVs and home theater systems in stock. As one furniture and electronics store says in its local newspaper advertisements, it’s “Christmas in January.”

“It’s been a lonely year,” said Monica Doering, manager of Freedom Furniture and Electronics, which is less than a mile from Fort Stewart’s main gate. “It’s not only the soldiers’ Christmas, but what we’re experiencing now is actually our Christmas.”

The 3rd Infantry has 19,000 troops returning to Fort Stewart as well as Hunter Army Airfield in nearby Savannah and Fort Benning in Columbus, home of the division’s 4,500-soldier 3rd Brigade. More than three-fourths have come home, with the rest expected to arrive by the end of February.

In Hinesville, hotels have been booked solid by families of soldiers traveling to Fort Stewart to attend daily homecoming ceremonies. Restaurant parking lots are full during dinner hours, and rental properties that sat vacant for nearly a year are being filled again.

“We needed it badly. If they are not here, we can hardly pay our bills,” said Mike Randerwala, manager of the Quality Inn in Hinesville. “Last year, I had a loss of more than $100,000.”

Though other Hinesville business managers report similar losses for 2005, Mayor Tom Ratcliffe said the overall economic hit doesn’t appear as bad as many feared. For the first 10 months of 2005, the latest figures available, sales tax revenues in town dipped only 6 percent compared with the same period in 2004.

A major factor behind the homecoming spending spree is the extra money burning holes in the troops’ fatigue pockets. Soldiers’ income isn’t taxed during Iraq deployments, and they earn combat pay and other incentives.

Several soldiers interviewed estimated they earned an extra $700 to $800 per month while in Iraq, totaling up to an extra $9,600 for some for their yearlong deployment.

“Without the extra money, I couldn’t go out and get this stuff,” said Spc. Sherrod White, 21, of Fayetteville, N.C., as he picked out a $1,499 desktop computer and $599 flatscreen monitor at Doering’s store. “A lot of people, they just go crazy with it.”

Fred Mingledorff, general manager of Hinesville Ford, said he’s on track to sell more than 120 cars this month – compared to 80 during a typical month and 40 when the 3rd Infantry was overseas.

And the troops aren’t settling for economy cars, he said. They’re leaving the lot in new Ford Expeditions, Mustangs and F-150 pickup trucks.

“They’re stepping up to higher line vehicles,” Mingledorff said. “They’ve been fighting a war for a year. When they get back, they sure deserve to be able to spend their money.”

Electronics and gadgets are also flying off shelves. The Hinesville Wal-Mart Supercenter, by far the city’s largest retailer, has conspicuous gaps in its wall of plasma and large-screen TVs from having to sell even display units.

Wal-Mart manager Ted Sells said soldiers have been asking daily about the new XBox 360 video game console, which he hasn’t been able to stock since the beginning of the month because of manufacturer shortages.

Mundane, household items also have been selling briskly as well, a sign of troops moving into new homes and apartments. Shelves and racks holding pots, pans and other kitchenware have been picked practically bare.

“This is something that typically we would never have out of stock,” Sells said. “As you can see, they’ve just wiped us out.”

Some Fort Stewart military families are literally celebrating Christmas a month late. Heidi Harms, the wife of an Army chaplain not only still has her tree, stockings and lights up, but she agreed not to even shop for presents for their five children until her husband gets home.

“He loves shopping for the kids, so he said, `Please don’t do anything until I get back,'” said Harms, whose husband is Capt. Lee Harms of Port Townsend, Wash. “So I haven’t done any shopping as far as our family goes, so he can be a part of all that.”

The Harmses’ children, aged 11 years to 18 months, haven’t seemed to mind the delay, she said. Her husband’s parents brought them Christmas gifts to open last month, and Santa left a small present in each of their stockings to let them know he’d be back soon.

“They just know Santa Claus was taking care of the soldiers in Iraq,” Harms said, “and he’s coming home with dad.”

Shoppers spent £5bn online at Christmas

Online shoppers spent almost £5 billion (almost $9 billion USD) in the run-up to Christmas, a rise of 50 per cent on the previous year, according to industry figures released yesterday.

The increase follows a year of rising confidence in internet shopping and the growing popularity of home broadband connections.

Throughout 2005, about £19.2 billion was spent online, an increase of 32 per cent on 2004, according to the Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG). It predicts that Britons will spend £26 billion online in 2006, a growth of 36 per cent.

However, James Roper, the IMRG’s chief executive, said that a large number of goods were still hard to find or unavailable online.

“Even leading retailers often only make a small proportion of their total inventory available online, and many don’t bother with spares at all,” he said. “So huge growth potential remains for the merchants who plug these holes.”

Traditional high street retailers have complained that their profits are being squeezed by online stores. Many have been forced to boost their internet profile over the past few months and close the gap between high street and internet prices.

The IMRG figures show that 24 million UK consumers shopped online last year, spending an average of £816 each during the year and £208 over the Christmas period.

Sales peaked in the week starting Dec 5, when £653 million was bought on computer.

Broadband now accounts for 60.5 per cent of internet connections in Britain.

Boots said its internet business, boots.com, now outsold its largest store, and a record one million customers shopped at tesco.com in November and December.

Jo Tucker, the managing director of IMRG, said: “A step change happened in retailing at Christmas. Consumers want the convenience and choice that online shopping provides. Many just don’t have time to trudge the streets hoping goods are in stock.

“There can no longer be any doubt that the internet is a major part of the retail landscape and that it will dominate the retail agenda for the next several years.”

Christmas angel appears in grocery line

This is a very short entry but I simply couldn’t pass up on it.

It’s a letter sent it to the Bradenton Herald and it touched my heart:

Abig rave for the beautiful young lady who stood next to me in line at Publix on Dec. 24. I am still overwhelmed by her generosity.

Her willingness to give leaves me knowing there are those who possess the true spirit of Christmas, and I want her to know I ask God’s blessings to her each night.

This lady asked the cashier to add my groceries to her purchases, and she also put flowers in my basket. Again, my thanks.

Frances Steele, Palmetto

A Christmas success

Thanks to the efforts of the generous people of southwestern Pennsylvania, Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest international Christmas project for children, collected 16,685 boxes Nov. 14 to 21, 2005. Drop-off locations were situated in Uniontown, Monroeville, Meyersdale, Rockwood, Greensburg, Connellsville, Normalville, Pt. Marion and Farmington.

From the collection center at the Greensburg Free Methodist Church, the boxes were sent to a processing center in Charlotte, N.C., where they were made ready for shipment and sent out to children around the world.

This year, Operation Christmas Child sent gifts to some 7 million children in nearly 100 countries. For many boys and girls, these will be the only gifts they received this Christmas. On behalf of Operation Christmas Child, I want to express our thanks to the Greensburg Free Methodist Church for providing a location for collection of the gifts and to all the volunteers who helped at the collection center.

We are grateful for pastors and church members who organized Operation Christmas Child in their congregations. More than 260 churches in our region donated shoe box gifts.

Most of all, I want to thank everyone who packed a shoe box.

Christmas trees pose extreme danger

Children at Foothill School on Ribera Drive received a vivid, frightening lesson Tuesday morning on the flammable danger of Christmas trees, after they witnessed the explosive speed with which one can burn.

Two young men working on a vehicle in front of their home at 720 Ribera had placed a road flare on the street to warn oncoming motorists. The flare rolled next to the tree and set it on fire. Damage was confined to the tree and there was no loss, according to Capt. Keith Cullom of the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.

“The concern of the County Fire Department is that all Christmas trees be removed from inside homes by now and disposed of safely,” said Cullom. Local waste collection companies will pick up discarded trees if they are placed next to the curb on the normal green waste disposal day for the residence. Discarded trees must be cut into pieces four feet or less in length to be picked up. Trees may also be taken to the waste transfer station off of Calle Real near the county Sheriff’s Department.

Residents are cautioned never to place any part of a Christmas tree into a fireplace because of the extreme danger posed by the rapid burn rate of dry trees and branches, said Cullom. Residents should always dispose of trees in designated dumpsites or through waste collection firms.

Fighting Bird Flu and Other Uses for Your Christmas Tree

Crooked. Not enough needles. Too patchy. Half-dead already.

What happens to that sad, left-behind Christmas tree – the kind only Charlie Brown could love – left buried in the snow while others glitter with tinsel and lights?

As Linus would say, “Maybe all it needs is a little love.”

As towns began picking up Christmas trees curbside this month, we asked Christmas tree salesmen what happens to the season’s last-picked in gym class.

“In the past we’ve donated them to families in town that needed one or social service agencies,” said Danielle Sherry, an employee of Shore Publishing and Smith’s Acres in Niantic. “Others are brought to the farm and covered with bird seed or nesting material for the birds over the winter.”

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, in 2004, 27.1 million households bought a real tree for Christmas – a $1.15 billion industry. But tree growers aren’t the only ones making money out of the deal: Christmas tree recyclers are also – turning abandoned yuletide and Wal-Mart leftovers into compost, wood chips and mulch for sale.

“You can’t just go out and burn a bunch of trees anymore. That’s definitely not legal,” said David Waddington Sr., whose business, DW Transport & Leasing in Uncasville, ground Waterford’s Christmas trees into wood chips this week for $28 a ton – the first step in tree recycling.

Larger contractors, according to Waddington, will then buy the chips to turn into mulch or compost for construction sites, erosion control or other projects.

Wal-Mart asks their stores to use community composting programs for those trees that go unpicked, according to Jolanda Steward, a company spokesperson.

“At the majority of those programs they utilize the trees to aid the community and make compost for gardeners,” she said.

At Home Depot in Waterford, manager Maureen Shirley said that with just a few trees left behind, the store gave their leftovers away to last-minute customers, leaving none for the compost heap. At Perennial Harmony in Waterford, owner Petie Reed chips up the remaining trees for mulch herself and uses branches as cover for her perennial garden.

But according to the National Christmas Tree Association, mulch and compost are by far not the only recycling option for Christmas trees. A pharmaceutical company in Toronto, Canada, recently discovered that the needles of discarded Christmas trees can be used to create the main ingredient in Tamiflu, used to counteract influenza. Biolyse Pharma Corporation plans to begin manufacturing this month.

“Now Christmas trees are going to be used to fight Asian bird flu,” said Rick Dungey, spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association.

Recycled trees have also been used for dune restoration and Jefferson Parish in Louisiana has been using discarded Christmas trees – approximately 1 million since 1991 – to combat coastline erosion.

In addition, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department operates a state fisheries habitat restoration program using recycled Christmas trees as fish habitats.

Dungey said his organization used to give out a national award for Christmas tree recycling efforts, but such programs have since become so widespread that they haven’t given out the award in recent years because they’ve have trouble getting nominations. Even so, Dungey said, “There are some places that don’t have any organized recycling efforts.”