by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
I’m a fan of Tim Allen’s role as an accident-prone handyman on the 90’s hit TV comedy, Home Improvement. But in reality, hiring a good contractor isn’t something you just fall into. It helps to know the signs of a home improvement scam.
If you’re not into DIY projects, it might make sense to hire a pro. Finding a capable and reliable contractor is important — a home improvement project gone wrong can cost you more than money; it can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems.
A good ad isn’t proof a contractor does quality work. Find out for yourself. Check with friends, neighbors, or co-workers who’ve had improvement work done. Also check out a contractor’s reputation on online ratings sites you trust. Get written estimates from several firms, keeping in mind the lowest bidder may not be the best choice.
How can you tell if a contractor might not be reputable? Don’t do business with someone who:
For More Tips See Hiring a Contractor
A TEACHER WRITES: As I laced my running shoes for the American Cancer Society’s 27th Annual GWB 5K Challenge this morning, I kept a little girl in mind who has affected my life, and those of my students, in ways none of us could have never imagined. I found Julia Eveland online more than three years ago: Her bright blue eyes twinkled from an old friend’s Facebook page. She was 5 at the time but not your typical kindergartner. Julia was battling Wilm’s tumor, a childhood kidney cancer, yet she was concerned about absent classmates who had the sniffles. I can be a bit of a skeptic, but I found myself going back to that Facebook page time and again. I’d become addicted to reading posts about the little girl from Royersford, PA — right up until she died last September, two months shy of her 9th birthday. One post talked about Julia donating all her 7th birthday gifts to the Children’s Hospital of Phildelphia oncology ward because she thought they might bring joy to other sick kids. Another described a fundraiser she hosted to raise cancer awareness.
The last few were difficult to read. They spoke of how, after three remissions, there were no more treatment options. Of how pain medication lulled Julia into an almost constant sleep, stealing moments that her family had hoped to savor. And how, unable to lift a pencil, she dictated to her mother a list of 10 guidelines to live a happy life a few days before her death.I have a daughter the same age, so you can imagine what those posts did to me.Then, one unseasonably chilly April afternoon, my 4th-graders “met” Julia. All of them had heard about cancer. It only happened to old people, they told me during health class. So I navigated to www.juliasgracefoundation.com, a Web page created by Julia’s parents, and those blue eyes filled the SMART board. Together, we read about her life, her kind nature and her death. In the Dr. Frank Napier Academy of Technology, smack dab in the middle of one of Paterson’s most dangerous neighborhoods, the tough exterior that many inner city kids develop quickly dissolved. What can we do to help, they wanted to know. For the rest of the day, my kids brainstormed ideas. They worked together with kindness and consdieration — which for some is quite difficult. Since then, Julia has been a rainbow stretching across urban blight, exposing my students’ softer side.
Some have worn the signature zebra stripe and hot pink pins of Julia’s foundation. Others painted butterflies on a bench in her memory. Later this month it will travel to a new home for others to enjoy — the main lobby of Gilda’s Club, a cancer support center in Hackensack. In my pocket this morning was a plastic sandwich bag containing $11.30 in singles and coins scraped together by students to support the American Cancer Society in her memory. As for me, I added one more rule to Julia’s list and hung it outside the classroom: Be kind to someone. I’m pretty sure she’d be okay with that.
Yes, "Frozen," the highest-grossing animated film in history — with $1.2 billion worldwide, the movie pushed "Toy Story 3" to No. 2 — set in an ice-logged land populated by a talking snowman and a weather-making princess, is coming to an arena near you. To the delight of fairytale power-ballad aficionados young and old, "Disney On Ice Presents Frozen" will be in New Jersey this month, starting with the Prudential Center on Nov. 19.
'Disney on Ice presents Frozen'
Where: The Prudential Center (25 Lafayette St., Newark) and the Izod Center (50 Route 120, East Rutherford).
When: The show will be at the Prudential Center from Nov. 19 through 23 — 7 p.m. Nov. 19; 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 20; 7 p.m. Nov. 21; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Nov. 22; 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 23.
"Frozen" will be at the Izod Center Nov. 25 through 30 — 7 p.m. Nov. 25; 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 26; 11 a.m. Nov. 27; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Nov. 28 through Nov. 30.
How much: $32.75 to $337.25; call (800) 745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com
The Academy Award-winning animated movie, which yielded an Oscar-winning song in "Let it Go" — as sung by Idina Menzel — hit theaters last November. But the film proved it was still a hot ticket last month, when children, adults and whole families dressed as the movie's characters for Halloween.
Unlike some other Disney movies adapted for the ice, the tale naturally takes to a wintry surface.
"The film was just meant, I mean, to be on ice," says Gig Siruno, 43, performance director for the show. Having skated for 28 years — he was a national figure-skating champion in the early '90s — as a cast member for Disney On Ice, he once played Aladdin and Mowgli from "The Jungle Book," characters from films based in decidedly warmer climes.
One of the signature moments of the Feld Entertainment ice show, which premiered in Florida in September, is when the audience gets coated with a dusting of "snow."
"We can go anywhere from a light flurry to a full-blown blizzard," says Siruno, who hails from the not-so-temperate Minneapolis.
We can go anywhere from a light flurry to a full-blown blizzard.
The other signature moment, of course, is when the platinum-haired Elsa sings "Let it Go" atop the North Mountain. The soundtrack is largely taken from the movie — no skaters actually sing — including another popular song, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman", as performed by Kristen Bell, who plays Anna. Menzel voices Elsa, her sister, who is literally an ice queen — she unwittingly traps the vaguely Nordic land of Arendelle in a permafrost.
Getting more mileage out of those Halloween costumes, many audience members have been dressing up as their favorite "Frozen" character, Siruno says.
In the show, projection screens display images from the movie. Siruno has watched "Frozen" up to five times in the theater, and often returns to it for inspiration.
Content gathered & updated by the Bergen Review Media team.