first_imgDaniel Azar was very elated after winning his first major regional title at the Central American and Caribbean Tennis Confederation (COTECC) championship that ended earlier this month. The All Jamaica 12-and-under champion dominated the recently concluded COTECC 12 and Under Junior Invitational Championships held in Antigua and Barbuda April 29-May 1 by capturing both the singles and doubles titles. Azar did not lose a set throughout the four-day tournament, defeating players from St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, the United States of America, and the British Virgin Islands on his way to capturing his first major singles and doubles titles on the COTECC calendar. “The competition was tough but I had prepared well and am super happy. After a few days off, I will get back to work and I am looking forward to even bigger and better things,” Azar said. In the semi-finals, Azar defeated St Lucia’s Arden Rosemond 4-2, 4-1, before going on to defeat Jaiden Julien of the USA 4-2, 5-4 in a keenly contested final. Azar then teamed with Trinidadian Tim Pasea to win the doubles title defeating the pair Trinidad and Tobago pair Daniel Jeary and Beckham Sylvester 4-1, 4-1. Azar attends Campion College and is coached by former national representative Matthew Rodriquez and current national champion Damion Johnson. Azar dedicated his victories to his former coach and uncle, former national champion Eddie Smatt, who died last year while en route to the same tournament. Equally dominant in the girls’ division was Antiguan Sybley Charles who won both the singles and doubles titles. The tournament, which was being held for the fifth consecutive year, attracted 30 players from nine countries.last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseIt was an early June wedding in central Ohio. The brother of the beautiful bride was, of course, in attendance, though his troubled mind was a couple of hours away. He was thinking about his still unplanted farm fields at home.He had been fortunate last fall that he and his parents had been able to get the crop out of the fields in a fairly timely manner. Since then, though, the precipitation had been relentless. The window to plant will always come, his father had said. This year, though, it hadn’t. Other than a few test passes with soybeans in early April (none of which emerged) no crops had been planted. No hay had been baled. No fieldwork had been done in his northwest Ohio fields of his family’s farm. He had waited. He had hoped, prayed, prepared, planned, and re-planned. None of it had worked out. The weather had thwarted every effort.There was still hope though. It had been a couple of days since the last rain and the sun had actually come out for a bit to dry the saturated fields. He knew he was just hours from the first chance of the year to plant, with the insurance date for planting corn just days away. The soil would not be perfect for planting, but maybe it would be just good enough. Maybe.The young farmer dearly loved his sister and her soon-to-be husband, through he couldn’t help but steal occasional glances at the weather radar every chance he got. Things were looking good. There was still some hope. There was also a growing restlessness.Finally, with the ceremony over and the reception in full swing, he made the decision to leave early to make the nearly two hour drive home and get a jump on what he hoped would be a very busy few days. He gave his sister a hug and firmly shook the hand of his new brother-in-law, wished them the best and headed homeward with a hopeful heart. He took one last look at the radar before he got in the truck — still looking good.The young farmer didn’t know it, but just a few minutes into his trip that radar changed. As he made the drive home, full of fading hope for a successful 2019 planting season, 3 inches of unforecasted rain fell on his fields. Unfortunately, there was plenty of heartbreak on that early June wedding day.Sadly, these types of stories were far too common this spring as Ohio — most notably northwest Ohio — faced the most challenging planting season in history. In mid-June, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture issue a disaster designation for Ohio to make assistance available to farmers. As of June 17, only 68% of Ohio’s corn crop and 46% of Ohio’s soybean crop had been planted, according to the USDA Crop Progress reports. Finally in the waning days of June, rain clouds gave way to sunshine and farmers throughout Ohio scrambled to plant remaining acres. The state has been left, though, with an unprecedented number of prevented planting acres and a huge array of developing root and leaf disease issues, nutrient deficiencies and uneven growth in the fields that had been planted.“The delays in planting and effects on in-field crops of forages and wheat are historic,” said Greg LaBarge, an agronomic field specialist with Ohio State University Extension. “The agricultural community is facing many important decisions in light of the relentless precipitation that has occurred this spring. The decisions farmers make in the coming weeks will have a lasting impact, affecting management decisions for the next year.”There are many decisions to be made in the struggling fields that have been planted. What inputs will pay this year? Is it worthwhile investing more in the late planted fields with lower yield potential? How should nutrients be managed with the huge possible losses that occurred this spring?There are many more questions that need to be considered for unplanted fields. These include: Farm Service Agency changes and programs including EQIP and CSP, the specifics of evolving crop insurance rules, what to do with unplanted treated seed, GMO traits for use as cover crops, weed control issues, soil health issues, soil compaction mitigation, nutrient management, tillage, the best cover crops to plant, the timing/rate and mix of cover crops, availability of cover crop seed, cover crops in relation to chemicals used for weed control, manure management options, tile installation options, grazing/forage production options, and many more.On short notice a meeting was pulled together on June 27 in Ada with a panel of experts to address these and other questions. To be honest, I have been to my fair share of farm meetings and this one certainly featured some of the best, most pertinent information in one place I have ever heard. I wrestled for a while about how to best share the information and decided that anything I write will not do the meeting justice. The entire meeting is available at and is definitely worth the time to watch if you are dealing with a fair number of prevented planting acres. The panel of experts at the meeting and Ohio State University Extension have really stepped up in these very challenging times to tackle the many issues from this spring. There are many resources available to help with these tough farm decisions. To help select a cover crop, visit   Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) agronomists and OSU Extension educators are continuing to publish recommendations and information about weather-related issues in their C.O.R.N. Newsletter available at CFAES experts are also publishing recommendations and information for livestock producers in the Ohio Beef Cattle Letter at and in Ohio Ag Manager at CFAES recommendations and information for dairy producers can be found within Buckeye Dairy News at is times like this that can make or break farms, and farmers. Make sure you are looking at all of the resources available to help make the best decisions for your farm, your family and your future after this heartbreaking spring for so much of the Ohio agriculture I love.last_img read more

first_imgBy Carol ChurchIn part 1 of this 2-part series, we went over VA loan eligibility, the process to apply, and what the loans can be used for. In this second part, we’ll review the pros and potential cons of VA loans.What are the Advantages of a VA Loan?The advantages of a VA loan are numerous. Most civilians can only dream of having such ideal lending terms available to them when shopping for a mortgage.No down payment requiredIn almost all cases, no down payment is required on a VA loan. One can become a homeowner under this program with far less cash in hand than is necessary for non-VA loans. However, it may still be financially wise to put down a payment.No private mortgage insuranceBecause VA loans are backed by the government, there isn’t a need for the borrower to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can easily result in savings of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.Competitive ratesMortgage rates on VA loans are highly competitive and may often be lower than those found on other types of loans.Easier to qualifyIt may often be easier to get a VA loan, because the government guarantees some of the mortgage, meaning the bank is at less risk. Borrower’s credit scores may not have to be as high. Borrowers do still need to qualify based on credit and income, however.No prepayment penaltyUnder the legal terms of VA loans, borrowers cannot be penalized for paying off their mortgages early. This is a great benefit for anyone who would like to concentrate on early retirement with a fully paid-for house (for instance).Assistance with avoiding foreclosureIf at some point a VA borrower begins to have difficulty paying his or her mortgage, the VA has special staff dedicated to helping these borrowers make their payments. However, due to the process used to ensure that borrowers have enough funds, VA loans actually have a very low default rate.Closing costs are limitedThe VA limits closing costs for these home sales. Sellers may also help with these expenses. In many cases, no money will be due at closing.What are the Disadvantages of a VA Loan?One-time funding fee One expense all VA borrowers should know about is the one-time funding fee that accompanies every loan. This fee is somewhat variable, but is typically about 2-3% of the loan, and is used to ensure the stability of the VA loan program for the future. Some borrowers with service-related disabilities are exempt. This fee can be “rolled into” the overall loan so that it is included in monthly payments.If a borrower has enough money to put down a down payment and therefore does not need the benefits of not having to pay PMI or put money down, the cost of this funding fee may be reason to skip a VA loan.Can only be used for a primary residenceVA loans are intended to help people become homeowners, so they can’t be used to buy vacation or investment properties. However, if a borrower already has a VA loan, he or she can typically buy another home with a VA loan and keep the first one as a rental, if they’ve lived in it for some time already. This makes sense for military members who may need to move due to a PCS.Some perceive the loans negativelySome sellers and agents may be less eager to sell when a VA loan is involved due to the incorrect perception that these loans are more complex or take more time to deal with. It may also be the case that inspection requirements are stricter.MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotospinWhat Else Is There to Know?Typically, borrowers are approved to borrow amounts of up to $424,000 with no down payment, and can borrow even more with a down payment. Of course, this doesn’t mean borrowers have to borrow this much, but they can. In some counties, the maximum no-down-payment loan is higher due to a higher cost of real estate in that area.Borrowers can get a VA loan more than once, and the benefit is good for life. If a borrower has paid off their first VA loan, they can get another VA loan—it is not a “one-time” benefit. (However, the funding fee is higher when used a subsequent time.) And the benefit does not expire. It can be used at any time.Service members must have been honorably discharged to qualify for a VA loan.Those serving overseas can still get a VA loan if their spouse will be in the home or if they will return within a year.VA loans are fully assumable by any qualified borrower.On average, it takes no more time to close on a VA loan than on a non-VA loan.Being empowered with knowledge about the VA loan program is key for all service members and veterans. For more, visit the resources below.More Information:US Department of Veterans Affairs—Home VA LoansSummary of VA Home Loan BenefitsReferences:Birk, C. (2015). VA Loan Pros and Cons. Retrieved from, T. (2016). The 13 Biggest VA Loan Myths BUSTED! Retrieved from Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). Summary of VA home loan guaranty benefits. Retrieved from Administration. (2017). Home loan guaranty: VA guaranteed loan. Retrieved from United. Your Complete Guide to the VA Home Loan. Retrieved from read more