The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Friday, January 15, 2010 Volume XVIII, Number 145

did ya know?


Did Ya Know?... DAV & Auxiliary, Tuesday, January 19th at 7 pm, 2nd floor of Memorial Hall.

Did Ya Know?... American Legion & Auxiliary, Thursday, January 21st at 7 pm, 2nd floor of Memorial Hall.

Did Ya Know?...the singles Reach Out-West will hold their 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off on Friday, Jan. 15 in the SMB South Community Bld. starting at 6:30 p.m. No Entry Fee. Cash prizes to top three Chilis. Info 388-0052, 673-2179.

today's laugh

This is a compilation of actual Church Bulletins and Service bloopers...

Our next song is "Angels We Have Heard Get High".

Don’t let worry kill you -- let the church help.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.

A Real Estate Trade.

Last evening a trade was effected by which Sam’l Morrow purchased of Mrs. S. H. Lashorn of Hamilton, O., her 114 acre farm 1 1/4 miles east of Carthage. The farm has been occupied for years by W. S. Shuler, a relative of Mrs. Lashorn, and is a fine piece of bottom land. The consideration was $6,500. In exchange Mrs. Lashorn takes Mr. Morrow’s Clinton street residence property, it going in the deal at $3,500. The actual possession of each property will be given next June, when Mr. Morrow will remove to the farm and Mr. Shuler comes to Carthage.

Master Jack Garrison was thrown from his wheel this morning about ten o’clock, at the corner of Garrison avenue and Pine streets and sustained quite a bad cut on his forehead. The wound bled profusely for sometime and rendered the boy weak and dazed. He was after a while able to go home and have the cut bandaged.

  Today's Feature

Farm Business Class for Women.

University of Missouri Extension and the Barton County Commission are offering an evening farm business course for farm women, Annie’s Project, beginning Feb 2nd. The course includes six evening classes on Tuesday evenings (Feb 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2 and 16). The classes will be held from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at the Wolf Extension Center in Lamar.

Course topics include: communication, working with different personality types, farm record keeping, business plans, how property is titled, leases and legal issues, financial statements, retirement and estate planning, using spreadsheets, risk management, grain marketing, insurance, computer software tools and much more. The course will be taught my University of Missouri Extension specialists and will also include guest speakers.

Annie’s Project began in Illinois years ago. Annie was a woman who grew up in a small town in Northern Illinois. Her goal was to marry a farmer and she eventually did. Annie spent her lifetime learning how to make better farm management decisions with her husband. Together they did great things, but it was not easy. This course is Annie’s Project – to take her experiences and what she learned about farm management and share it with other farm women living and working in a complex business environment.

The goal is to empower farm women and help them make better management decisions through networking and by utilizing critical financial information. The course is to provide mentoring for farm women with varying levels of business skills. Farm women come from many different backgrounds, from rural to city life. Women who are new to the farm business may be overwhelmed and afraid to ask questions. Women who are accustomed to the farm business may understand agriculture, but feel helpless with new technologies like computers.

Over a six week period, Annie’s Project gives these farm women the opportunity to learn from Extension specialists as well as from each other. The class is being partially funded by a grant from the North Central Risk Management Center. The cost for the 6-night course is only $50. Class size will be limited to 20 women to ensure sufficient group interaction so you must preregister by January 27th.

For more information or a brochure call or stop by the Barton County Extension Center at 417-682-3579 or

Homeowners Say Banks Not

Following Rules for Loan


by Paul Kiel, ProPublica

Nathan Reynolds is something of an expert on the government’s foreclosure prevention program. A mortgage broker who’s worked in the Chicago area since 1998, he’s seen both his business and his home’s value plummet in the past few years. After receiving his own trial loan modification from JPMorgan Chase, he’s helped others apply for modifications through the program on his own time.

But in November, after Reynolds had made trial loan payments for seven months, Chase told him his mortgage would not be permanently modified. Chase had determined that his personal financial troubles were only temporary — because Reynolds had expressed optimism that the administration’s policies might rescue the housing market, boosting his income.

That’s not a legitimate reason for a loan servicer to deny someone’s modification, according to the Treasury Department’s guidelines for the program. And Reynolds’ experience — along with the cases of two other homeowners examined by ProPublica, shows how servicers have created unnecessary hurdles that, in some instances, violate the loan program’s rules.

Housing advocates say they frequently see homeowners rejected or kept in a trial modification for questionable reasons. "There’s a real resistance on the servicers’ part to making permanent modifications," said Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center.

The administration set a goal of helping up to 4 million homeowners through the $75 billion mortgage modification program as a way to blunt the boom in foreclosures. Treasury has produced a growing number of mandatory guidelines for banks and other loan servicers to review applications and perform the modifications. In exchange for tailoring loan payments to 31 percent of the homeowner’s monthly income, both the servicer and the owner of the loan receive incentive payments.

Servicers representing 85 percent of the housing market have signed up to participate. Applicants must first go through a trial period before their mortgage payments can be permanently reduced. But servicers have been slow to convert hundreds of thousands of trials into permanent modifications — as of November, only about 31,000 had been made permanent. That spurred Treasury to publicly criticize the servicers’ performance and to put out new guidelines in recent months to speed up the process.

Treasury said recently that the effort has resulted in a "significant increase" in offers of permanent modifications, but numbers demonstrating how significant won’t be available until February.

ProPublica has reported since last June on homeowners’ frustrations in receiving a prompt answer from servicers, particularly the program’s largest servicers — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and CitiMortgage. In response to widespread complaints, those servicers have dramatically increased staffing and touted other improvements, such as new document management systems.

But when homeowners do get an answer, the reasons don’t always jibe with how the program is supposed to work. Housing advocates say this is a direct result of a lack of effective oversight of servicers in the program, something ProPublica has focused on before.

‘An Excuse to Deny Someone’

Reynolds was a prime candidate for a loan adjustment and was among the earliest homeowners to receive a trial modification.

His mortgage brokerage business had followed the market downward, and as a result, he’d fallen three months behind on his interest-only mortgage. Area real estate cratered. His own home, bought in 2001 for just over $400,000, had rocketed up to about $1.2 million in value in 2006, and then down again to about $350,000. With a refinancing in 2005 and a home equity line of credit with Countrywide, his mortgage debt exceeded his home’s value by more than 70 percent.

Soon after the loan program was announced last February, Reynolds applied. He received an application in late April and was accepted, making his first payment of about $2,400 (down from $3,300) in May. He made six more payments. Like many borrowers in the program, he says he was asked over and over to send the same documents and later, updated versions of those documents. Finally, in late November, he received an answer: He was denied a permanent loan modification.

The reason? A Chase employee explained to Reynolds that they’d determined his financial difficulties weren’t permanent. In his application, he’d written that he believed that the government’s rescue efforts would "save the U.S. housing market" and that his business "will once again be profitable." The Chase employee told him that statement indicated his hardship was only temporary.

"That’s just nonsense," said Thompson of the consumer center. "To me, that sounds like an excuse to deny someone."

Chase spokeswoman Christine Holevas told ProPublica that Reynolds had been denied "because the skill and ability is still there to earn the income." Since he’d "stated in his letter that business would be picking up," it was "not considered a permanent hardship," Holevas said.

Such a determination contradicts Treasury’s guidance to servicers for the program. A FAQ issued to servicers says the program does not "distinguish between short-term and long-term hardships for eligibility purposes."

When ProPublica asked about this guideline, Holevas did not directly respond. She did offer another reason for denying Reynolds: Chase’s review of financial information showed his income had not decreased.

Reynolds, who has a wife and two small children, says no Chase employee had made such a claim to him and that the documents he provided show that his mortgage business dropped more than 50 percent in 2009. He submitted a new hardship statement in December, in which he tried to make clear that his troubles are real and lasting. Holevas said those documents would be reviewed.

Now, Reynolds says his finances are at the breaking point and bankruptcy appears unavoidable if Chase denies him again. "I did everything that was asked of me, but Chase has me backed into a corner that I cannot get out of."

The Nine-Month Trial

Six months into a trial modification, Gary Fitz of California still doesn’t know whether or when his mortgage will be permanently modified, and he’s been told he’ll have to wait for a few more months.

Under the program’s design, the trial period was supposed to last three months, giving time for the servicers to collect and evaluate the homeowner’s financial information. At the end of the trial, if the homeowner fit the program’s criteria and had made all three modified payments, the servicer was supposed to promptly make the modification permanent.

Instead, trial modifications routinely last more than six months, homeowners and housing advocates say.

There are a number of adverse consequences of a trial period’s dragging on, said the consumer law center’s Thompson. Because a homeowner is not making a full payment, the balance of the mortgage grows during the trial period. The servicer reports the shortfall to credit reporting agencies, so the homeowner’s credit score can drop. And most importantly, says Thompson, the homeowner isn’t saving money in case the modification fails and the home is foreclosed. "Keeping someone in a trial modification really does not do them a favor," she said.

Fitz’s case shows why some homeowners have remained in limbo so long.

He sought a loan modification in the spring of 2009 because his wife’s salary had been cut. Like millions of others, he applied soon after the administration announced the program last February. He was accepted for a trial modification and made his first payment in July.

Fitz was prepared for an uphill struggle. A Wells Fargo customer service representative told him early in the application process that he should make seven copies of his financial information — because Wells Fargo would likely lose it more than once. He says he’s sent the same paperwork in five times.

When the trial stage lasts so long, servicers commonly ask homeowners for updated financial information months into the trial period. Fitz, for example, submitted his paperwork for the first time last spring. But when Wells Fargo requested an updated package in December, it showed that he’d received a pay raise last June of about $80 per month.

Because of that, Wells Fargo started him over on a new trial period – even though his trial payments climbed just $27, from $1,733 to $1,760. His first payment on the new trial period is due Feb. 1, meaning that by the time he completes it, he will have been making trial payments for nine months.

Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Waetke said the company does not comment on individual borrower’s cases. He did say, however, that "the federal guidelines require a final review of updated financial documents before moving any Home Affordable Modification from trial status to complete."

That’s not true. In a Treasury guidance to servicers issued in October, meant to streamline the review process, it says there is "no requirement" to "refresh" the homeowner’s documentation as long as it was up-to-date when it was originally received.

Wells Fargo also appears to have begun Fitz’s second trial period contrary to Treasury guidelines. A Treasury guidance last April said that a servicer should not begin a new trial period if a homeowner has only a minor income change (defined as exceeding the "initial income information by 25 percent or less"). Guidelines issued later are even more restrictive about starting a new trial period. The reason is clear: The purpose of the trial period for the homeowner is to demonstrate the ability to pay, and such a small change in income is unlikely to affect that.

Asked to respond, Waetke said that "given the complexity of the program, the volume of calls we receive and the number of modifications currently in process, there is the potential for a mistake to be made." He added that Wells Fargo would continue to review the case.

Just Jake Talkin'

When things got slow in the small sundries store I grew up in, Dad would start movin’ inventory around, rearrange things and sweep the floor. He believed that activity bred activity. Sittin’ around mopin’ never seemed to stir up business.

I found out early in life I didn’t wanna complain that I was bored. My dad always had somethin’ he could find for me to do. Somethin’ always needed paint, or cleanin’ or mendin’. If he heard even a whimper of complainin’ ‘cause I had nothin’ to do, he had a long list he could call on to keep me entertained. Pretty much cured me of feelin’ sorry for myself, at least within earshot.

I’ve always heard you should keep your nose to the grindstone and your ear to the ground, but it’s hard to get much work done in that position.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’

Sponsored by Carthage Printing Weekly Columns



ART NOTES from Hyde House

by Sally Armstrong, Director of artCentral

I ran across some information recently that I thought would be of interest. Many folks question the price of original fine art. You might be interested in how the artist establishes his prices, and what factors determine the worth of a painting? In at least one artist’s mind, there are at least eight factors that can be identified: 1) Public demand for the artist’s work. 2) Public identification with the artist’s name. 3) Desirability of the subject matter. 4) Medium used (oil, watercolor, pencil, etc.) 5) Quality of the art. 6) Size of the work. 7) Cost of the frame. 8) Whe- ther the art was commissioned or not. The public’s demand for the work is far and away the biggest factor. The public determines what the fair market value of a product is. Public identification with the artists name also plays an important role. Some buy art based strictly on a name. And believe it or not, desirability of a subject matter by the public affects an artist’s pricing about as much as anything. Ranking highest are landscapes, then cityscapes, figurative, portraits and abstract in that order. Floral, gardens and animals are last. Medium should not be a factor, but it is. Traditionally, oil paintings usually command higher prices— something I take issue with as a watercolor artist. Quality is subjective, and is not at the top of everyone’s list, but to a seasoned art buyer it will make a difference. Size of work and cost of frame again should not be a great determiner, but many times is. I always prefer a simple frame presentation, and non colored matting, as it is less distracting to those who cannot see past a colored mat board or ornate frame that is not of their taste, and realize that these things can be changed like a bad colored carpeting in a house– should not cause one to pass on a painting, but people will. If the work is commissioned it often requires more effort and research; possible studies to submit to the buyer, and therefore may cost more. Art enthusiasts/collectors will ask the question we began with, "That painting is how much?" However, when it comes time to sell, the question changes to, "That’s all you are offering? You’ve got to be kidding!"

Copyright 1997-2009 by Heritage Publishing. All rights reserved.