Tag Archives: Kentucky

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Money Matters | Retirement Plans Can Be SIMPLE

Sponsored Post by Todd Harrett

If you own a small business (or are self-employed), there are many retirement plan alternatives available to help you and your employees plan your financial future. One popular option for organizations such as sole proprietorship’s, partnerships, corporations, and non-profit organizations to consider is the SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Unlike some retirement plans, there are specific criteria a business must meet to participate in a SIMPLE IRA plan. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about this type of retirement plan:

Can any business establish a SIMPLE IRA plan? Self-employed individuals and employers with fewer than 100 employees may adopt a SIMPLE plan. However, the business must not maintain any other employer-sponsored retirement plan where contributions are made or accrued during the calendar year in which the SIMPLE plan is effective. (This does not apply to plans that cover only union employees who are excluded from the SIMPLE plan.)

What is the deadline for establishing such a plan in order for it to qualify for the 2018 tax year? The IRS deadline for establishing SIMPLE IRA plans for the current year is October 1. After October 1, plans can only be established for the next tax year. An exception to October 1 exists if the business is a newly established company and has never sponsored a SIMPLE IRA plan.

Which employees are eligible to participate in this type of plan? An eligible employee is one who has received at least $5,000 in compensation from the employer during any two prior calendar years (does not need to be consecutive years) and who is reasonably expected to receive at least $5,000 compensation during the current year. In the plan’s initial agreement, the employer is able to reduce the amount of compensation and the number of years required. However, there is no required participation for this plan – eligible employees can choose whether or not they want to participate and contribute.

How much can employees contribute to the plan through salary deferral? The maximum salary deferral limit to a SIMPLE IRA plan for 2018 cannot exceed $12,500. If an employee is age 50 or older before December 31, then an additional catch-up contribution of $3,000 is permitted.

What are the maximum employer contribution limits for a SIMPLE IRA? Each year the employer must decide to do either a matching contribution (the lesser of the employee’s salary deferral or 3% of the employee’s compensation) or non-matching contribution of 2% of an employee’s compensation (limited to $275,000 for 2018). All participants in the plan must be notified of the employer’s decision. 

When must contributions be deposited? Employee deferrals should be deposited as soon as administratively feasible, but no later than 30 days following the last day of the month in which the amounts would otherwise have been payable to the employee. These rules also apply to self-employed individuals. The employer contributions deadline is the due date of the employer’s tax return, including extensions.

Can there be a vesting scheduled with a SIMPLE IRA? There is no vesting schedule with this type of plan – both employer and employee are immediately 100% vested.

How are withdrawals from SIMPLE IRAs taxed? Withdrawals from this type of account are taxed as ordinary income. However, if a participant is younger than age 59½ and makes a withdrawal within the first two years of plan participation, he or she will owe a 25% IRS penalty and ordinary income taxes on the amount withdrawn.  After the initial two years of plan participation, the 25% IRS penalty is reduced to 10% for pre 59½ withdrawals.  Exceptions to the 10% penalty on traditional IRAs are also exceptions to the 25% penalty for SIMPLE IRAs. Direct transfers to another SIMPLE IRA will not be subject to this penalty.

Can the assets in a SIMPLE IRA be rolled over? Participants are able to roll over funds from one SIMPLE plan to another at any time. After two years of participation, employees may roll assets to a traditional or SEP IRA without tax penalties.

As with any investment alternative, you should check with your Financial Advisor to evaluate the best option for your financial situation.

Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice. Be sure to consult with your tax and legal advisors before taking any action that could have tax or legal consequences. Please keep in mind that transferring or rolling over assets to an IRA is just one of multiple options for your retirement plan. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, including investment options and fees and expenses, which should be understood and carefully considered.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Harrett, Financial Advisor with Axiom Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in New Albany, IN at 812-948-8475.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2018 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.    Car 0118-00640

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Summer Fun Series

SUMMER FUN

If you’re like us, you’re ready for summer, and we’ve got you covered if you’re looking for things to do. From young ones to adults, check out these options for enjoying the warm weather months while exploring and enjoying our community.


CAVE COUNTRY CANOES

812.365.2705

cavecountrycanoes.com

Forget the wifi. But you will find a better connection when enjoying Cave Country Canoes. Located 40 minutes west of Louisville, you’ll experience an amazing day on Blue River. Plan a trip – they offer excursions for individuals 3 years of age and up – and make it a point to enjoy this spring or summer.


FRENCH LICK WEST BADEN

812.936.3418

vflwb.com

Ready to create memories with the ones you love? Visit French Lick West Baden. Whether you want to bathe an elephant at Wilstem Ranch, enjoy sunset cruises on Patoka Lake or get outdoors and explore, the opportunity to create memories awaits.


HISTORIC ROCKPORT

812.649.9147

lincolnpioneervillage.com

One of Southern Indiana’s true gems of living history, this quaint river town has so much to offer. Visit the Rockport Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum, 928 Fairground Drive in Rockport, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May through October.


JASPER INDIANA STRASSENFEST

jasperstrassenfest.org

Jasper Strassenfest has grown to become a premier festival in the region thanks to the foresight and dedication of the first committee who laid the groundwork of showcasing civic pride and German roots while providing a downtown venue to allow area not-for-profits to build fellowship and raise money for reinvestment in the community. Mark your calendar now for the 40th Annual Jasper Strassenfest, which will occur Aug. 2 through Aug. 5.


LOUISVILLE ZOO

502.459.2181

Louisvillezoo.org

There’s so much to enjoy at the Louisville Zoo, including a fabulous LEGO BRICKS exhibit created by Sean Kenney. This family-friendly venue is a jewel in Louisville that attracts people from around the region. Plan your visit today.


RED SKELTON MUSEUM

812.888.4184

redskeltonmuseum.org

Start your day with a laugh at the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in Vincennes. The museum honors the legacy of a man who touched numerous lives through his comedic talent, great works, compassion and commitment to public service and is a testament to the impact one man can have on the lives of others. Save the date: The Red Skelton Festival is 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 21.

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Water, Water Everywhere

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BY JD DOTSON

Make Time To Play At Our Area Water Parks

WINTER HELD ON WAY TOO LONG IN OUR AREA. IT FELT LIKE SPRING WAS HERE FOR A DAY AND A HALF, BUT SUMMER HAS FINALLY MADE ITS WAY TO OUR AREA. THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER HAS ME ACHING FOR BIKE RIDES, PICNICS AND COOLING OFF IN THE WATER, SO I COMPILED A LIST OF THE EXTOL TEAM’S FAVORITE SPLASH PARKS IN THE REGION. DIG OUT THAT SWIMSUIT AND MEET US THERE!


Silver Street Park

2043 Silver Street

New Albany

812.949.5448

www.cityofnewalbany.com

Silver Street Park is a hidden gem to most people but one of our absolute favorite parks to play in. It includes a splash park, playground, a graffiti wall, sports complex and field, hiking and picnic areas (and tons of friendly strangers every time we’ve gone there). Free and open to the public. Closes at 9 p.m.


River Run

224 W. Daisy Lane

New Albany

812.948.5380

www.nariverrun.com

New Albany’s Family Fun waterpark has water slides, lazy river, steamboat-themed splash park, toddler and activities pools, and a bowl slide. Hours are 11 to 7 p.m. daily and prices vary depending on residency: $7 for Floyd County residents, $9 for Hoosiers and $15 for out-of-state guests. Season passes available.


Breslin Park

1388 Lexington Road

Louisville

www.louisvilleky.gov

Breslin Park sits just between downtown, Crescent Hill and the Highlands and has picnic tables, playground and sprayground. It’s free and open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Laporte Park in Portland

2529 Bank St.

Louisville

www.louisvilleky.gov

This park features basketball courts, a playground and a sprayground. LaPorte Park is free and open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Charlestown Family Activities Park

1000 Park St.

Charlestown

812.256.3422

www.cityofcharlestown.com

The park includes a super cool pirate-themed spray pad and playground for a mere $3 admission fee. Additional activities include roller skating, mini golf and concessions and is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. 5 p.m. Saturday. The park is closed Sunday.


Adventure Playground/Waterplay

1201 River Road

Louisville

www.louisvillewaterfront.com

The riverfront waterpark has an impressive collection of water cannons, misters, steamboat themed playground equipment and colorful sculptures of fish spewing water from their mouths. The park is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and free to the public.


Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay

937 Phillips Lane

Louisville KY 40209

502.813.8200

www.kentuckykingdom.com

The list of wet and wild water activities at Hurricane Bay is exhaustive – but in a good way. Conquistador Canyon, Deep Water Dive, Forbidden Passage, Waikiki Wipeout, Plummet Summit, Voodoo Express and (my favorite) Mega Wedgie all sound fear-inducing and awesome. Milder cool fun is aplenty at the park in a lazy river, family splash park and milder slides and activities for smaller ones. The park is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and depending on where you are coming from, the $44.95 general admission and $39.95 child admission will also get you into Kentucky Kingdom.


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RELAX & REFRESH

      screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-1-40-27-pmThe word Kula means “community of the heart” in Sanskrit, and that’s what you’ll find at The Kula Center – Southern Indiana’s destination for overall health and well-being. Services include yoga instruction, massage, health coaching, cupping and meditation. A float center will also soon open at the center, which is located at 802 E. Market St. in New Albany. Learn more at www.thekulacenter.com.


TIP: MORE THAN 8 PERCENT OF PEOPLE PRACTICE MEDITATION IN SOME FORM, AND MANY REPORT DECREASED ANXIETY, ENHANCED PERSPECTIVE AND A REDUCTION IN STRESS LEVELS. WANT TO GIVE IT A TRY? FIND A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL, DOWNLOAD AN APP OR GOOGLE “MEDITATION” FOR NUMEROUS WAYS TO BEGIN.

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Magnus Rasmussen

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-27-18-pmA Story Sweeter Than a Danish

BY KEVIN KERNEN | COURTESY PHOTOS

AS IS THE STORY with most Louisville City FC players, Magnus Rasmussen is a fan favorite. As is also the case with most LouCity players, “MagRam” isn’t a stranger to the pitch either, getting plenty of time on the field along with just about every other player on this lean roster.

It isn’t his playing time, his chiseled, Scandanavian good looks, nor his deft touch that have earned him a place in the hearts of Louisville City fans. No, it’s largely thanks to the midfielder’s actions from nearly three years ago.

On March 28, 2015, Magnus scored the first goal in Louisville City FC’s competitive history, the winning goal in a 2-0 triumph over Saint Louis FC. It was a day of many firsts: first competitive match for either club, the first win in club history and the first professional match for Magnus outside of his native Denmark.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-29-23-pm

The journey for Magnus began from a young age. After he outplayed most kids around him in his kindergarten class, he was urged onto a bigger club, when he would go to school from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon and practice in the early evening, spending the interim playing soccer in the street around school. After showing promise in Copenhagen’s youth football scene, Magnus signed his first contract at the tender age of 15, joining the Danish Superliga team Nordsjaelland, a relatively new team in the domestic top tier who pride themselves on youth development in particular.

After playing nearly every game available in his youth career, Magnus became a victim of his senior team’s success when Nordsjaelland won the 2011-12 season of the Superliga, which qualified them for the top club competition on the European continent, the Champions League. Winning the league and earning automatic qualification to the group stage of the Champions League comes with a sizeable influx in cash (they earned 20,402,000 Euro, per UEFA.com). Nordsjaelland, who play in front of about 10,000 fans on average, were drawn into a group with the Champions League title holders Chelsea FC, perennial Italian powerhouse Juventus and Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk. With the incoming money, Nordsjaelland manager Kasper Hjulmand and the team looked to build a more international roster and compete in the continental competition. None of this boded well for the then 19-year-old Magnus who, after deliberating with his manager, decided to make the move back to the club he was a part of earlier in his career, BK Soelleroed-Vedbaek, and finish his schooling.

It was there his visions of grandeur and adventure led Magnus to set his sights on leaving his native country and playing abroad. He shared his thoughts with a teammate at the time, who knew a futsal coach with international connections, Bo Holden. He was the manager of the domestic futsal powerhouse Jaergersborg-Gentofte Futsal (JB Futsal), who got Magnus in touch with James O’Connor ahead of LouCity’s inaugural season in late 2014. After seeing Magnus’ highlights, O’Connor invited the Dane to try out for the forthcoming team and made Magnus part of the first raft of singings ahead of the 2015 season, a year in which Magnus played 29 games, scoring eight goals and notching five assists from his attacking midfield position. Most of the offense ran through Magnus, who with 2015 MVP Matt Fondy, cut an imposing sight for the opposition’s defense.

Magnus remained with the Louisville outfit for the 2016 season but was slow off the mark-rehabbing from offseason surgery to repair a labral tear in his hip, which meant he didn’t see the pitch until the latter half of the season. He could only record 16 appearances and 777 minutes before time ran out on his and Louisville City’s season.

Meanwhile, the time spent from home had been wearing on the Dane. Back home in Denmark, a country that’s about half the size of Indiana, a 30-minute car ride is considered quite the trek to go see family, who traditionally live close to home. Magnus had also left his girlfriend, Camilla, as she finished her equivalent of high school.

It was after the 2016 season when a healthy dose of homesickness led Magnus back home, where he linked back up with Bo Holden and JB Futsal, and joined the club for their 2017 campaign, one that ended with them hoisting the Danish Championship. Magnus, like most Danish kids, was no stranger to Futsal, the version of the sport played on a court, with five players per team plus a goalkeeper. The fact that Futsal is played indoors meant that it was usually all that was available during the long, bleak Scandinavian winters, and it also meant that players had to develop the technical side of their game, yielding more well-rounded players. It harkened back to those afternoons spent between school and soccer practice for Magnus, too.

Magnus kept playing on the pitch, too. He signed on with Boldklubben Frem, members of the third tier of Danish soccer, in order to keep fit for Futsal. After being called up to the Danish national Futsal team, Magnus got to explore some exotic locales, such as Kazakhstan and Dubai, with his countrymen.

All this time, he kept in close contact with Coach O’Connor and the LouCity teammates he left behind. He watched most of the games from wherever he was and knew that there was something special going on here. The door never closed on Magnus, and when Camilla got the opportunity to study Bioinformatics for her master’s thesis at Harvard, he knew the time was right. Magnus signed back on with Louisville City on Jan. 4 of this year, returning to the club that he had come to be an important part of. Ask any LouCity player about the locker room atmosphere, Magnus included, and they’ll tell you it’s a professional one, but also feels like a family. For Magnus, it was family that took him back home to Denmark, and it’s family that brought him back to Louisville.

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NO JUSTIFYING NEEDED: BAFFERT IS THE BEST

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-35-27-pmSTORY & PHOTOS BY JEFF NUNN

IN A SPORT where the competition is based on four-legged creatures, why is it that the sport’s biggest star is a two-legged man that isn’t even on the track during the race? Is it because his white hair makes him recognizable to even the most casual fan? Is it because of the mystery that lurks behind those ever-present sunglasses? Is it because of the way he presents himself as confident and positive yet humble? Is it because he is so approachable and friendly?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. All of those attributes help distinguish Baffert as the biggest star in the sport, but what really makes him the star is that he is really good at training horses. And because he is good at training horses, his horses win a lot of races. Not just any races – the most prestigious races.

But the 2009 Hall of Fame inductee wasn’t always the best. He worked his way to the top and has endured the ups and downs of the sport since winning his first Triple Crown race in 1997 with Silver Charm.

Young Baffert grew up on his parents’ ranch in Arizona and became a jockey of Quarter Horses during his teen years. He then began training and scored his first victory at age 17. Out of high school, he asked D. Wayne Lukas for a job, but Lukas turned him down. He graduated from the University of Arizona’s race track industry program with a bachelor’s degree. In the early 1980s, he moved to Southern California and trained four champion Quarter Horses. He made the switch to thoroughbreds in 1988 with a purchase at an auction and won his first Breeders Cup race in 1992 with that purchase of a horse named Thirty Slews.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-35-35-pm

Baffert came up just a nose short in his first Triple Crown race as Cavonnier finished second in the 1996 Kentucky Derby. In 1997 (Silver Charm) and 1998 (Real Quiet), Baffert won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes only to fall one race short of the Triple Crown when both lost in the Belmont Stakes. He became the first trainer in history to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in back-to-back years. After a disappointing fifth place finish in the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Point Given, his horse went on to win both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. In 2002, Baffert won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes with War Emblem only to lose in the Belmont Stakes. It was yet another lost opportunity to take the Triple Crown. He didn’t win another Triple Crown race until the 2010 Preakness with Lookin At Lucky.


screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-40-26-pm“EVEN IF JUSTIFY DOESN’T WIN THE TRIPLE CROWN, THIS WILL GO DOWN AS BAFFERT’S GREATEST TRAINING FEAT OF ALL TIME AND QUITE POSSIBLY THE GREATEST TRAINING FEAT EVER.”


In 2015, Baffert finally captured that elusive Triple Crown with American Pharoah. It was the first time in 37 years since that feat had been accomplished and twelfth time overall in the sport’s more than 140-year history.

This year, Baffert won the Kentucky Derby for the fifth time when Justify took home the roses. The victory moved Baffert into second place all time, one behind Ben Jones who trained in the 1940s.

Baffert and Justify also won the 2018 Preakness Stakes, giving Baffert his seventh Preakness victory, which moved him into a tie with Robert Wyndham Walden, who trained from 1875 to 1888. That Preakness victory also moved him into a tie with D. Wayne Lucas for the most Triple Crown race victories of all time (14).

The attempt to win the Belmont Stakes on June 9 would give Baffert his second Triple Crown winner in three years.

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Progress & Priorities

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-2-54-31-pmBefore: 180 lbs.

Current: 129 lbs.

The last time I stepped on the scale before giving birth to my daughter, I weighed 180 pounds and stood in awe.

I’d happily gained what I referred to as “love weight” after meeting my husband, an incredible cook whose food I loved to eat. But after a year and a half, I couldn’t fit into any of my pants and had resorted to flowy tops with leggings or dresses to hide what was underneath. It was time to get back in shape, except nothing seemed to work. I was exhausted, craved food I’d never been drawn to and thought age must be the reason my waist was thickening. It never occurred to me I might be pregnant. After all, I was 40 and had been on the pill for years. Thankfully, God had other plans.

Now here I was, hours away from meeting the daughter I’d carried for months, in awe. I had never experienced such love for my own body. I felt strong, beautiful and at peace, all 180 pounds of me…us.

Hours after labor, I cradled Olive in my arms while my husband slept on a cot nearby, grateful tears rolling down my cheeks as I looked at the two most important people in my world.

Less than three weeks after becoming a first-time mother, I was asked the dreaded post-birth question – “When are you due?” – while on a quick solo trip to grab a few items at my neighborhood grocery store. Surely, the stranger had not meant to be rude, so I laughed it off without correcting her, but the comment stung.

When I began to receive unsolicited Facebook messages and texts from people who wanted to help me get my “pre-baby body back,” I was deeply hurt. Well- intended or not, the offers were offensive. This mama was focused on learning how to parent (and finding pockets of time to slip in moments of sleep). What I looked like – what I weighed – was not for others to judge.

Instead of accepting someone else’s perception of me, I marveled at how this body had produced a tiny human and was now responsible for providing her what she needed to thrive. I knew I was, for the first time in my life, clinically obese and resolved to get back in shape when I was ready – not a moment before. Immersing myself in motherhood was the sole priority.

A year later, however, I grew tired of being tired. My joints hurt, my balance was off, and I lacked energy and stamina. I’d lost a little bit of weight without trying, but as a doctor gently pointed out, I was an older mom – 41 the day I gave birth – with a family history of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. My health needed to become a priority in my life.

So, I started working with a trainer and following a diet plan. But as soon as I lost a mildly noticeable amount of weight, I’d allow life to intrude, the excuses to flow and give up. I’ll start again Monday, I told myself again and again, sometimes lasting to the weekend but reversing any gains I made in the matter of a few days.

I didn’t feel like a failure; I just didn’t care. I was juggling multiple jobs, and working hard to be a good mom and supportive wife. That was enough, I rationalized. What I looked like did not – does not – define who I am. As someone who decades before had battled anorexia and bulimia for 10 years beginning in the eighth grade, this stance was proof my body image was strong, and I was proud of how I had evolved. But confidence and self-acceptance were not going to make me physically healthy.

I don’t quite know what sparked my resolve to get off the roller coaster of losses, gains and plateaus, but I woke up one Saturday morning ready for a change. Forget waiting for Monday. The time was now. There is no guarantee about longevity of life, but finally I wanted to do everything I could to lead a healthy one.

My method was simple: Reduce portions, know my calories, no skipping meals, eliminate alcohol, drink at least 64 ounces of water and exercise.

I purchased a cooler, prepped all of my meals except breakfast, scheduled workouts on my calendar and set a routine: Wake up, drink 8 ounces of water while packing my meals in my cooler, get ready for the day with my husband and daughter, make a simple breakfast, go to work, eat lunch, eat again four hours later, spend time with my daughter, eat dinner, prep for the next day, eat a snack before 8 p.m. if still hungry, go to bed.

If I had an evening meeting or event to attend, I’d eat beforehand so I wasn’t hungry. When offered a cocktail or some sort of delicious treat, I’d decline, explaining I was on a mission to get fit.

When life threatened to get overwhelming because of work duties related to coverage of the Kentucky Derby and my husband’s campaign for Floyd County Commissioner, I researched a local meal service called MacroMan and started ordering freshly-made meals from them to supplement what I was preparing.

As my clothes began to get looser, my motivation, energy and productivity strengthened. Sure, it felt good to have my waist back and zip up a dress I hadn’t been able to wear for the better part of three years, but what I valued most was my decreased anxiety, calmer approach to stressors and mental sharpness. I called it “getting my groove back,” though it was nothing more than setting a goal of getting healthier and – finally – proving to myself I could do it.

I’ve lost more than 50 pounds since my all-time high of 180. My goal now is to lose more body fat, gain muscle mass and continue increasing the strength of my heart and lungs through exercise.

These days, when I feel my motivation waning, I take a moment to stand in awe and remind myself I’m worth being a priority.

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The Boys of Summer Have Made It

By Jim Biery

Finally, summer has arrived after a spring that felt more like fall or winter. Now that I have referenced all the seasons in just one sentence, let’s talk baseball.

America’s pastime has begun it’s rather lengthy 162-game season. That is a 26-week long season, and then the playoffs begin. I feel like that borders on the “too much of a good thing” theory. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the only major sports league that starts and ends in the same calendar year. (FYI: That nugget of knowledge could win a trivia contest question for you.

Standing in the warm sun on top of perfectly manicured grass and a nice breeze carrying the sounds of all the people in the stand – now that is what I call a friendly office environment! But this is far from what most of us recognize as an office setting. This is what the lucky few get to enjoy when they get the call up from the minor leagues to the “big show.”

Like a lot of kids, I grew up playing baseball, starting with tee ball, where a handful of kids on each team were more concerned with building dirt piles in the infield or looking for ladybugs in the outfield, to Little League, where my interest began to drop off. The reason for this is the same reason I struggle with following and watching the MLB on a consistent basis: not enough activity.

If you have watched a MLB game at any point, you should notice one thing. Basically, everyone playing the game is standing around. In between pitches the only thing that happens is grown men either spitting tobacco or “adjusting” things in their uniform. Now, what a grown man does is his own business. However, when these grown men make an average of over $4 million a year, I’d like a better return for my investment to watch the game.

In 2017, Forbes magazine reported that season attendance for MLB dipped below 73 million for the first time since 2002. In my opinion, the reason is partly the game’s fault but also because of the rapidly changing landscape of technology.

Keep in mind that when baseball was in its heyday, there was no other way to see the game than to actually attend it. Now with the ability to stream darn near anything, a lot of people are choosing this easy option instead of fighting traffic, hot and steamy weather and the bad luck of having a seat right next to a crying kid who wants more ice cream even though they have dropped the first two offerings.

Technology aside, the game itself just does not have enough going on to keep people’s attention. Be honest with me. Does watching players basically standing around in between pitches offer what basketball, football or even soccer visually provide? MLB has tried to even put a so-called “pitch clock” in the game to prevent pitchers from taking up to a minute or two between pitches.

Outside of the occasional home run or stolen base, the only real action comes when a pitcher hits a batter with his pitch and both benches clear. What’s funny is that the pitchers in the bullpen located over the fence in the outfield actually run all the way to the location of the scuffle. It is laugh-out-loud funny to me. They have to extend the dance between opposing teams until they get there. Then, they don’t really do a darn thing!


“WOULDN’T YOU LIKE A JOB THAT YOU COULD ONLY SHOW UP ABOUT 32 PERCENT OF THE TIME AND GET FULL COMPENSATION?”


The fight itself is also a bit of a letdown. Most of the scuffles just look like a ball of bait fish being chased into a circle by a tuna. It’s just a bunch of grown men holding each other back but not much else going on. If you actually look close enough, you can see two players that look like they’re grabbing each other, but in reality they are just exchanging their wives’ favorite lasagna recipe. (I may or may not have made that last part up.)

Another aspect that is hard to swallow is the amount of money the players are getting paid, especially the pitchers. Keep something in mind as I continue rant: Pitchers typically only pitch one in every five games. That’s about 32 games out of the scheduled 162. Seriously, wouldn’t you like a job that you could only show up about 32 percent of the time and get full compensation?

The compensation itself is ridiculous. Zach Greinke, a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, is scheduled to make $34 million in 2018 alone. He got an $18 million signing bonus and $206 million of the contract is guaranteed. I understand the phrase “what the market can bear” when it comes too negotiating these contracts, but for crying out loud!

Go to a baseball game. Or don’t. It’s your time and your money to waste (or not). Just know I won’t be joining you…except when I get a hankering for baseball park hot dogs, tire of checking my phone for scores or need something to rant about.

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A Weight Loss Journey I’m Afraid to Share

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-17-35-pmMY NAME IS ZACH MCCRITE and I am an addict.

I’m the same sort of addict as one you probably know or are related to or might even be yourself.

I’m no different from the guy who can’t kick the crack habit or the gal who just can’t stop smoking or the one who bellies up to the bar night after night after night.

I’m just like those people. I’m just like you.

I’m an addict. My addiction is food. And it always will be.

Since November 2017, I’ve lost 80 pounds. Now, I’m proud, don’t get me wrong. But I hesitate to talk about it. Much less celebrate it.

Please forgive me for this different kind of weight loss story. A lot of this piece will probably be all of the hesitations that I feel about sharing the story in the first place.

For instance, when our fearless editor-in-chief insisted that this would be a good topic to swing at in the latest issue of the best publication in the Metro (pardon the brown on my nose), I hesitated… again (you will see a growing theme).

In the end, I reluctantly said I would. I hope she still feels good about her insistence now that I’ve written it.

Regardless, I hope it resonates, because my hope is that this space is more a tale about the successes and failures we all endure in our lives – both health-related and otherwise – and how we deal with them.

That said, the hesitations to share my story are plentiful.screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-17-22-pm

I FEEL GUILT, EVEN WHEN I LOSE WEIGHT

Partly because it opens old wounds. Talking about it opens up the pain that I know others share about not being looked at like the “rest of the crowd,” but becoming so used to it, you joke with others about it.

Hesitation also comes partly because I feel guilty for how my weight affects the people who choose (or, in my family’s case, have no choice but) to include me in their lives, but have to rearrange their cars, houses, weekend activities, big ticket purchases, vacations, etc. to accommodate “the big guy.”

And even more hesitation because – and I know this is backwards, but – I had found a personality inside this humongous frame that I thought some people were starting to latch onto. And that felt good, even if my health sucked!

But one of the biggest hesitations is this.

I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE

Back in November, I tipped the scales at 377. As of this writing, I’m weighing in at 297 lbs. Awesome, right?

But, I’m sure most of you know how the story sometimes goes from there. The majority of people with weight issues do the “yo-yo” a lot. Get fat, lose some weight, feel good for awhile, use food to celebrate because “we deserve it,” put all the weight back on.

Rinse. Repeat.

The latest yo-yo for me began around four years ago, when I had worked my way down to about 270 lbs. from 388 in a little over a year. And then…

Rinse. Repeat. Back to 377 just six months ago.

No rinsing or repeating this time. At least not yet.

And that’s one of the problems: I keep saying “yet” as if I’m destined to put it all back on again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happier than I’ve been in quite a long time. My parents, my wife, her parents and our extended families have been beyond supportive. Life is good.

But, I got so used to being fat that, even with a lot of weight gone (and plenty to go), I get into this seemingly-neverending internal struggle where my inner voice is telling me, “Hey man, you’ll be back up here in the 400s eventually,” and I come out of the gate swinging saying, “Nope, not this time.”

Ring the bell. Let’s go. Let yet another weight loss fight begin.

I throw a left jab at the inner voice. Then a right uppercut.

But, like George Foreman in “The Rumble In The Jungle,” I’m in that boxing match with my inner voice, swinging and landing punches (and shedding pounds) like I never have before.

Jab. Jab. Jab. Right hook.

But my inner voice won’t budge. It’s taking every punch like it’s been hit with a feather as my energy and willpower are nearing empty.

Jab. Panting. Left hook. More panting.

All the while, my inner voice is whispering back at me.

“Is that all you got, Zach?”

Apparently, my inner voice is as strong as Muhammad Ali.

And I was tired of getting beat by him.

SO I ASKED FOR BACKUP

Let’s go back to April 2017 for a second. My wife was pregnant with our second child – a boy (Monroe officially joined the family a couple of months later).

My weight was climbing (again), and I had been bumming because I lost all of the weight the previous time around due in large part to not wanting our firstborn child, Remi, to be subject to an obese father. But, she was born and my inner voice had told me, “Mission accomplished, now come on back to the dark side.” And I had.

Anyway, we knew our health insurance deductible for the rest of the year was going to be met with the birth of Monroe in July, so I threw it out there joking, “We should go ahead and get all the medical work done we need if insurance will pay for it all.”

I threw out the option of weight loss surgery, but I figured that wasn’t even possible. I figured insurance wouldn’t cover such a thing.

But, the more and more my wife and I talked it out and researched it, we started to find that this sort of thing was, indeed, covered by our insurance plan with one big, fat (no pun intended) contingency: I had to be medically supervised for six months on the same diet and exercise plan to prove that I was invested in this process and not gain one pound over that time. I was to come in to the doctor once a month for a weight and wellness check.

Only then would the insurance company decide whether or not to count the surgery as “medically necessary” and, therefore, covered at 100 percent by insurance.

“OK, then, I’m in. I’m doing this,” I remember telling myself. Only to hear the inner voice tell me over and over: “Six months without gaining a pound? Yeah, right.”

And I’m not gonna lie. There were times I was convinced the insurance company was going to come back and say “denied.”

But there was one more hurdle. One more hesitation that’s tough for me to share.

There was a part of me that was sort of hoping I would get denied the coverage I needed to go on with the surgery.

I was ashamed that I was even using this route. I didn’t want to tell anyone I was going to have the surgery. Why? You know why.

Because everyone would’ve thought I took the easy way out.

I was already having nightmares about how people would talk about me after the surgery.

“Zach is so weak. He couldn’t do it the old-fashioned way, huh?”

It was debilitating. On one hand, I NEEDED HELP to reach health goals that I had not been able to maintain. I still do.

On the other hand, I hated the very notion that people would consider me weak-minded for not being able to lose weight and keep it off the traditional way.

I can remember the justification I made in my head. “If the insurance company denies me, that’s OK. I’ll still be fat, but I can work on it again, and when I lose all this weight on my own, everyone will look at me as strong.”

I could hear my inner voice chuckling.

Anyway, the six months rolled by. I lost a little weight on my own and the insurance company, to my surprise, accepted the cost of the surgery in full.

I was a mixture of scared and ecstatic. Scared to tell my friends and family that I was taking the “easy” way out.

But then I started to attend all of these meetings with Dr. John Oldham and my other doctors at the Bariatric Center at Baptist East Hospital in preparation for the surgery. They wanted to make sure I knew this wasn’t an easy fix. It was cemented into my head that this was going to be tough.

I couldn’t leave the place any of the umpteen times I went without hearing something to the effect of “Remember, this surgery is just a tool in helping you lose weight. If you don’t use the tool, the tool becomes useless.”

In other words, I have to get over the psychological addiction I have with food as well. The vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure, commonly referred to as the “sleeve” would remove 90 percent of my stomach. Ninety percent.

But, the addiction to food for many can be so overwhelming that the stomach removal just doesn’t matter. The patient still eats even though they receive signals of being full way quicker than they ever had before.

It’s yet another reason I am afraid to share my story. Because here I am – my story thrown on paper with ink that will last forever – and if my addiction wins out over my new “tool,” I’ll want to literally eat every one of the magazines this story was printed on as a way to shred the evidence of me having ever told my story.

BUT I DID ITscreen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-16-32-pm

But, that’s the chance I took on Nov. 6, 2017.

Pain after surgery was real. Making me walk an hour after leaving the surgery floor as to get my body back to normal as quickly as possible – not fun. Eating broth and drinking liquid protein shots for days upon days after the surgery – not fun. Watching others chow on the delectables I used to shove down my piehole without taking a breath – sometimes not fun.

But, all worth it.

A little over six months later, my excitement and enjoyment of life is outweighing all other feelings at the moment – although, I know this story of all of my worries would likely prove otherwise.

But I share my worries because I think they are important to the overall story.

In the end, I’m ecstatic because I know getting this tool would help me reach my ultimate goal of not being an obese parent for my children. They are about to turn 3- and 1-year-old, respectively.

I’m glad I still have a little longer to push more weight off before they start to have true memories with their father that they’ll tell their kids about down the road, much like I had with my dad, and still do.

And, believe me, I’ve still got a long way to go to get to a “healthy” stage. My journey has just started.

In all, the real reason I ultimately decided to share this is so when someone else is struggling with the decision to change their lifestyle forever, that they know that they’re not alone.

It’s a lifelong battle.

I’m here to help. So are others. You are not alone. You need the accountability. So do I.

Because I’m an addict.

And I’m happy.

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-52-15-pm

All That Sparkles

screen-shot-2018-06-05-at-3-52-15-pmSTORY & PHOTOS BY MIRANDA MCDONALD

(Including Parenthood)

Jacqueline Koerber knows a lot about jewelry. Her family has been in the business for over 30 years. However, the jewelry expert is also learning a little bit about motherhood as well after giving birth to her son.

The new mama recently sat down with us to talk about current jewelry trends, her new role as a parent and finding the perfect gift for Father’s Day.

How has motherhood been treating you?

Having my son is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Most days it is a balancing act of being a mom and business woman, but I always find a way to make it work.

Are there any pieces of jewelry you have purchased or been given since becoming a mom?

I like layering necklaces. Recently, I started wearing a choker with my son’s initial on it. When you are a mom, you are just so proud of your children, so you find yourself wearing pieces that commemorate them in some way. Besides my stack of rings, I wear this piece almost every day.

After celebrating your first Mother’s Day at the store, have you noticed any jewelry trends that are popular with moms?

Stud, diamond earrings are such a good piece for new moms. Not only are they practical because babies can’t grab them, but they start as low as $199, so they are also affordable. Stackable rings are also trending because they can add some flair to any look. When I was on maternity leave, I wasn’t dressing up and coming to work, so stacking on rings was a simple way to still dress up a look that was as casual as jeans and a tee. We have also seen that birthstone jewelry is popular. Cordova makes a beautiful birthstone necklace that you can stack different stones on for each child. It is simple, yet still classic and elegant.

We don’t want to leave out the dads. What are some gift ideas for Father’s Day?

Watches are always popular and practical. I really love our Shinola brand, because they have leather straps that make them versatile. They can be dressed up or down, and we have matching wallets as well. Also, we have cuff links from Tacori’s Retro Classic collection. The stones are unique, and there is so much detail on the silver. They really are perfect for a father that wants to make a bold fashion statement.


KOERBER’S FINE JEWELRY

3095 Blackiston Mill Road

New Albany

812.945.5959

www.koerbersfinejewelry.com