Happening in Your Town: Kids Locked in Rooms in Public Buildings

It is happening across America and people are not saying a word. Kids are being taken to public buildings and locked in rooms. Kids are taken from neighborhoods and shipped to public buildings at various locations within towns. Once there they are forced to follow rules that include separating them by their ages and marching them into rooms. In many cases the kids are forced to sit for upward of an hour with no access to electronics, food, or their parents.

The rooms where the kids are kept are often locked to prevent others from getting access to the kids. In addition to the locked rooms, the buildings are also often secured to the level that nobody without security clearance is allowed to get into the building and see the kids.

While kids are allowed a meal in the middle of each day, they are forced to follow rules while eating. This includes only having a limited time to get and eat their food before being forced back to the locked rooms.

The US Government is funding is funding this.

Do you believe kids should be locked up like this?

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Perspective is a wonderful thing; however, it is easy to twist….

Safety in Fishers: A Failure to Learn From…

Larry Lannon reported on the nice crowd that attended the safety day at Fishers yesterday that occurred on the Eastern side of town. For anyone on the West side of Fishers on September 7th between 6:00 and 11:00pm, you have to wonder if safety had been considered.

With 11,000+ people merging into a two lane road with near non-existent traffic control, safety seemed to be lost. Fortunately, it didn’t seem that anything went wrong.

But what if something had happened?

Cars within the last couple of miles were reporting speeds of roughly an hour per mile to get into Conner Prairie. With cars being bumper-to-bumper, blocking intersections, and turning right from the left lanes it is easy to say that traffic was likely the worst Fishers has ever seen. Having gotten caught in the traffic, plus having lived across from Conner Prairie for over two decades, I can say it was the worst traffic I had ever seen for them.

What if a firetruck or rescue truck had needed to get to one of the houses across from Conner Prairie in several of the divisions whose only access is from Allisonville Road? What if a firetruck had needed to get to Conner Prairie. Could it have?

Last night’s event at Conner Prairie should be an eye opener for Fishers police, fire, and political parties as far as insuring the safety of Fishers residents and guests that come to our town. There are no plans in the Fishers 2040 plan to change the road in front of Conner Prairie from two lanes to four. There are no other major access roads other than going through an older neighborhood that is always blocked with parked cars to where a single car can barely get through, let along traffic going two directions or a fire engine.

While the neighborhoods around Conner Prairie deserve an apology, I believe the more important thing is that the city needs to make sure that if future crowds are going to converge on Conner Prairie – or any other location in Fishers – that it is done in a manner that allows for the safety of the residents to be kept at top priority. This includes making sure emergency vehicles have a way to get to any of the locations in or around the park.

On a related note…..

On a related note, there has been a trend for Fishers Police to shut down North bound Allisonville Road at 131st Street when they are letting out the traffic at Conner Prairie. For those people living off of Allisonville Road and south of 141st Street, this means you are redirected away from your home. This isn’t for an accident, but rather to make it easier to let the people at Conner Prairie leave at the expense of making it harder for residents of Fishers to get home.

Why?

Why is Conner Prairie get favoritism over tax paying residents of the city?

The irony of course, is that this traffic control happens after a concert; it doesn’t happen before when it is really needed more.

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Yowza Publishing’s Fourth Release: Spot the Difference in Fishers, Indiana

The release of Yowza Publishing’s fourth title is now complete. You can get Spot the Difference in Fishers, Indiana: City Parks Edition on Amazon today! This marks the fourth book published by Yowza Publishing and the first full-color book.

In Spot the Difference in Fishers, Indiana (Spot) you not only get to learn a little bit about the city parks that are within Fishers, Indiana, but you also get to also have a bit of fun. For each of the parks shown in the book, you are given two pictures that are very similar. The first picture is a real picture of the park. The second picture is the same picture; however, a few changes have been made and it is up to you to find those changes. Each park follows a similar layout, which includes a few extra pictures as well as an indicator for the number of differences you should be able to find:

Spot the Difference

Most cities have parks. These includes city parks as well as neighborhood and other private parks. Fishers, however, has a large number of city parks relative to the size of the city. There are two parks that include sledding hills. There are several parks that have fishing lakes as well as a couple of locations to fish in the White River. Several of the parks boast athletics including baseball diamonds, basketball courts, soccer fields, and football fields. There are also pickle ball courts as well as Frisbee/disk golf courses. One park has “off road” biking trails that wind through the woods as well as tree houses. There is a splash-pad in one park. There are docks and a public beach as well as a ton of playgrounds ranging from simple swings to complex contraptions such as those shown in the picture above.

There are two new parks being developed in Fishers. The irony is that both are easy to confuse with existing parks. One will be the Nickel Plate Trail linear park that will replace the existing Nickel Plate Railroad tracks. This is not to be confused with the existing Nickel Plate Trail that is a part of Cheeny Creak Nature Park. The other will be the Geist Waterfront park, not to be confused with the existing Geist Park that features trails, bird-watching, access to Fall Creak and Geist Reservoir.

If you are wanting to know what parks are around Fishers, this book will quickly give you a glimpse. As our newest book, we hope you enjoy it!

Buy the book now: Amazon

Mental Health Awareness in Fishers – An Update on Stigma Free Fishers

You Matter

As part of the Stigma Free Fishers initiative, data is now being collected so as to better understand what is happening in our community. Per the report, prior to 2016 there was not access to clean data that could be used in regard to behavioral health incidents. Since the start of the initiative in 2016, the Fishers Fire and Emergency Services Department and the Fishers Police Department have worked to ensure accurate data. In addition to the public service organizations, Hamilton Southeastern Schools have also been a part of the initiative as have businesses and other organizations.

The City of Fishers along with a number of organizations has taken on a mental health initiative. Back in May, they released a community report on the initiative.

From the data collected, it has been seen that there has been a decrease in disciplinary action in the schools as well as a decrease in the number of missed school days. Additionally, there has been an increase in the average GPA within the district.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the State of Indiana. The first year of tracking in 2016 saw 11 suicides in the area (Fishers). This increased to 14 in 2017, before decreasing to 10 in 2018. With more than 9 million people pondering the idea of suicide, it is core focus for mental health well-being.

Unfortunately, while 2017 saw a huge decrease in the need for immediate detentions dropping to 138 from 191 in 2016, in 2018 this went back up to 197.

Several initiatives have been happening to try to reduce the numbers even further. These initiatives include promoting the #StigmaFreeFishers through social media and other locations. An evidence-based suicide prevention lesson has been taught to over 1,757 eighth-grade students. Four student clubs have been created, which include the Bring Change to Mind at Fishers High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School. The Calm Squad was created at Fall Creek Elementary. These are in addition to other groups that already existed with a focus on acceptance and related topics. The schools are also providing mental health services when need, which have been used by nearly 100 students.

The following video summarizes a lot of the data and results from the initiative. This includes the HSE School results:

To stay informed on the Fishers Mental Health Initiatives, you can sign up on the Stigma Free Fishers site.

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The Value of Buying a Timeshare

If you attend a timeshare presentation, you will be pitched on how great a value timeshare ownership is. You will be shown how you can lock-in the cost of your vacations, and how you can use your ownership to travel the world, and you can stay at exotic places. You will likely be offered nice gifts such as tickets, free vacations, cash, or other valuables just to listen to the opportunities that are available. You might even be told you are not being sold to, but that you are getting access to a unique opportunity that might save you countless dollars on your vacations!

Regardless of what is said to you, the question of whether a timeshare is a good value is relatively easy to answer. Before buying you should make sure you know the answer to this question

Attending a timeshare presentation can earn you cheaper vacations, money, tickets, and other items. In a separate article, I present tips that include questions to ask if you choose to attend a timeshare presentation. In this article, I’m going to focus on one area only – the value of a timeshare financially. Do the savings add up? With this focus, I hope to help you understand if the opportunity being offered truly is as good as what is being said.

Here are the important areas to consider regarding financials for a timeshare:

  • Upfront cost
  • Maintenance and other fees
  • Special Assessments fees
  • Timeshare Exchange Fees

It is important to understand each of these costs as ultimately if you buy a timeshare you could end up paying each of them.

Timeshare Upfront Costs

When you ‘buy a timeshare’ you are generally buying a specific week in a specific location at a specific resort. You might be offered to buy points, but roughly speaking, those points add up to what it takes to obtain a week at a specific time within a specific location at a specific resort. Whether you are pitched a week or points, both are generally sold with the flexibility to be used at different times within the resort, the resort chain, or even outside of the resort. In many cases, you are also told you can use what you are buying for other products such as car rentals, cruises, hotels stays, and more.

When you buy, you are often offered a specific unit size that can range from a studio to numerous bedrooms. In the most recent presentation that I attended at a Westgate resort, I was pitched a standard 2-bedroom unit during the most popular time at the resort, the peak time. While I was told the rates would be going up (“due to demand”), I could still get the current rate (standard sales pitch is that rates are going up, units are about sold out, and you don’t want to miss the deal). The rate was roughly $50,000 for a two-bedroom unit for a week at the resort.

That $50,000 let me own that week, “just like” I own the home I live in.

Of course, if you don’t jump on an initial offer, there is generally a better deal that is available. When I didn’t jump on the $50,000 price at Westgate, I was informed they just had an owner upgrade to a high-end unit, so there was a unit that had been partially paid for. I could have their equity and get a similar 2-bedroom unit to what they had just offered, but for just around $29,500! It was my lucky day!

Of course, this type of discount is standard. Just like buying a car from most automotive dealers, the first price is not the price you should accept or pay.

Financing will also be offered on this $29,500. I believe the payments would be roughly $165 a month, spread over about 15 years. For the sake of keeping numbers simple, that number doesn’t really take into account interest, so the payment would actually be higher depending on the financing.

Buying this unit would allow me to lock in the ability to take a week vacation each year. The pitch tells you that you are buying today, so you are locking in your ownership at today’s price. Let’s assume that you are 40 to 50, then this means you could be using the unit for over 30 years and thus over 30 vacations. By buying the unit, you’d lock your vacation cost at (roughly) $1,000 per year ($29,500/30). If you consider inflation and the changing value of the dollar, then, overall, this sounds like a good deal since it indicates you’ve locked in cost of your vacations!

Timeshare Maintenance Fees

In the presentation, they might tell you about other fees. The big one is the maintenance fees. In addition to the up-front cost, you’ll be charged an annual fee. These are often presented as a simple Homeowner’s (HOA) fee. This charge will be to maintain and cover your week’s use of things ranging from electricity, water, and cable, as well as cover the cost of house cleaning and more. It will also be your share of the cost to maintain the grounds and any amenities.

There will be other fees included in your annual assessment as well. When buying a timeshare, it is critical to ask what fees are charged and to get a clear understanding all the fees. For the unit above, I was told the current maintenance fees were roughly $800 a year. When I asked if this included property taxes, I was told that was “roughly $20 more”. That wasn’t included in the maintenance fees. As a note, $20 property taxes on a 2-bedroom timeshare seems unrealistically low to me. My timeshare property taxes are over $100 a year for a unit in Orlando.

There are a number of other line items that might be added to your maintenance bill beyond the base maintenance or HOA fee and property taxes. This can include management services to pay for the people who are booking your week and billing you for your annual fees. There can be resort fees that are charged by the owning organization (often a hotel chain).

There can also be reserve fees, which are fees that are charged to use for unexpected or planned updates. This can be for something such as a new roof, painting, or replacement of furniture and items in the resort unit. As a partial owner of the property, you are also responsible for such things as new paint, furniture, dishes, pool maintenance, and more. You don’t have to directly deal with these, but rather will pay fees to cover the costs. There can be numerous other fees. The following is an example of fees charged at a resort in Orlando. These don’t include the property taxes or standard reserve fees, which would be in addition to these:

  • Housekeeping & Rooms
  • Administrative & General
  • Financial Services
  • Technology Services
  • Annual Audit
  • Security & Activities
  • Reserve for Bad Debt
  • Repairs & Maintenance
  • Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Water, Sewer & Telephone)
  • Cable Television
  • Internet Access
  • Insurance
  • Income Taxes
  • Personal Property Taxes
  • Fees to Division of Land Sales
  • Management Fees
  • Vacation Club Dues
  • Maintenance Association

When fees are all added together, a 2-bedroom unit is likely to average between $700 and $1200 a year. If you purchase in high-demand areas, there are resorts that have fees as high as $3,000 a year. Note that these fees are required to be paid each year you own, or you could lose your unit.

The following are examples of annual maintenance fees (based on listings from Redweek.com):

  • Grand Pacific Palisades Resort (Carlsbad, CA) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $1278
  • Hilton Grand Vacation Club at Paradise (Las Vegas, NV) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $969
  • Discovery Beach Resort (Cocoa Beach, FL) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $$1849
  • Grand Timber Lodge (Breckenridge, CO) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $1148
  • Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas (Newport Coast, CA) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $1300
  • The Westin Kaanpali Ocean Resort Villas North (Lahaina, Hawaii) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $2693
  • Lake Condominiums at Big Sky (Big Sky, Montana) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $744
  • Marriott’s Ocean Watch Villas at Grande Dunes (Myrtle Beach, SC) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $1400
  • Harbor Ridge (Southwest Harbor, Maine) – 2 bed / 2.5 bath – $570
  • Sheraton Vista Villages (Orlando, FL) – 2 bed / 2 bath – $1516

Timeshare Special Assessment Fees

A fee that most people are surprised by is the special assessment fee. Most timeshare contracts will include the ability to charge owners for special assessments. Just like with a home, there are big updates that need to happen at times. This can be a simple modernization of what you own to big-ticket items like a new roof. Timeshare salespeople are unlikely to mention that after 10 or 15 years, that new unit you bought isn’t going to be as new. To do an upgrade could require more money than was collected via the reserve fees that were withheld each year. When this happens, a special assessment can be charged. This is a fee you are required to pay within a given period of time, or risk losing your time share.

As an example, I have a two-bedroom unit that after 15 years was being modernized with new televisions, updated granite countertops, and other improvements. A special assessment fee of roughly $3,000 was done with the expectation of it being paid over 2 years ($1,500 a year).

If this were to happen every 15 years, that would add $6,000 to the cost of owning the unit for 30 years. This equates to another $200 a year.

Timeshare Exchange Fees

If you plan to go to the resort where you purchased your timeshare every year, then you can ignore this section. Most timeshare presentations; however, rave about how you can trade your week and go to exotic places all over the world! If you do plan to exchange, then there are additional costs involved.

Exchanging can happen at multiple levels. You can exchange within the network for the resort you own, or you can exchange with one of the world-wide exchange companies. There are basically two world-wide exchange companies that most people use, Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International (II).

If your timeshare resort has their own network, then those fees are likely to be included in your annual maintenance fees. Many smaller resorts will use RCI and II for exchanging. Additionally, if you want more options, then you’ll also tend to use RCI or II.

While you could belong to both RCI and II, they each have an annual subscription price. To exchange you must be a subscriber. For RCI, the current price starts at $99 a year for weekly ownership ($124 a year for points owners). The average annual price can go down if you subscribe to multiple years at once. If you want added benefits including better trading, you can subscribe to gold or platinum membership levels. Gold increases the price by $49 a year and platinum increases it by $89 a year. For Interval International, the prices are similar to RCI including the gold and platinum levels.

In short, to have the option to exchange, you need to add roughly $99 a year to your timeshare ownership costs. 

Once you’ve become a member of RCI or II, you then can exchange. Assuming you find a unit to trade for, you will be assessed an additional exchange fee. Note that finding a unit you want is not as easy as implied by those selling timeshares.

Exchange fees can vary based on a couple of factors, and over time they increase in the same way maintenance, property tax, and other fees increase. Overall, the average is close to $200 to make an exchange. If you use Interval International, then some exchanges are cheaper if you own at a Sheraton or Marriott resort. Sheraton owns Interval International, and Sheraton and Marriott recently combined some business.

There are additional fees that are optional when exchanging. These can include trip insurance in case something goes wrong. You can also buy the ability to change your exchange. Generally, 24 hours after you exchange, you are stuck with the trade. The exchange companies will sell you the ability to re-trade. This can add roughly $50 to $60 dollars to your costs.

If you have a unit that breaks can be broken into pieces either by the bedrooms (called a lock-off) or by using only a few of your days at a time, then you pay the exchange fee for each individual exchange. The subscription fee is one time per year regardless of the number of weeks you own.

Pulling it all together: Is a Timeshare Worth the Cost?

If you pull all the numbers that have been mentioned in this article together, then you you’ll see the following annual costs for a 2-bedroom unit if you consider a 30-year value:

  • Upfront cost: $1000
  • Maintenance fees: $1000 (maintenance/HOA/property tax)
  • Special Assessment Average: $200

Total cost to own: $2,200 a year. This equates to over $310 a night.

If you also subscribe to an exchange company and use the exchange, then you need to add the following:

  • Base subscription: $100
  • Exchange fee:  $200

Adding this to the other costs puts you at $2,500 a year, or over $350 a night.

At $2500 a week or $350 a night, you can rent at most resorts. If you know a person that has a timeshare and belongs to RCI or II, they can rent resort units for a lot less than that for you. There are often times when the rental prices through the exchange companies are lower than the total annual maintenance fees for the units. Even checking on travel sites can turn up units and specials that are substantially cheaper to rent than own.

Final Thoughts

While timeshare presentations will pitch the idea of locking in the cost of your future vacations at today’s dollars, it is important to realize that this is not completely true. The maintenance, property tax, exchange, and other fees will continue to increase. The average increases many of these fees can easily exceed inflation. Thus, you are only locking in your commitment to pay for your vacation, not the cost of the vacation.

You can also get a good idea of the value of timeshare ownership by reviewing the number of units available for resale and their price. Many units are for sale online and through timeshare resell businesses. These can often be purchased at a fraction of the cost of buying directly from the resorts, with reports of units available for a penny not being uncommon. The price paid at resorts for a timeshare are generally the highest prices, even after discounts.

In short, don’t be fooled by the numbers the timeshare people bombard you with. Ask your resort if they will buy back your unit or what the resell value is. That also will help you understand the value. In the meantime, enjoy the presentations if you think the tickets, cash, or other offers are worth your time. Just remember that if you don’t say “no”, you should make sure you know the real total cost.

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Note: Numbers are based on the time this article was written and are subject to change. There is variability in how timeshares are presented and sold; however, in general the information provided here applies. In some cases, timeshares are sold for a set number of years (such as 20) instead of for life. The math and numbers, however, would still be similar.