Road Trip. AAA forecasts 31.5 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Labor Day holiday weekend, a 2.4 percent decrease from the 32.3 million people who traveled one year ago.
The number of Oklahomans traveling over the holiday is also expected to decline with 371,000 taking a trip by auto or by air, a dip of two percent from Labor Day, 2010. The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Sept. 1 to Monday, Sept. 5.
The decrease in expected travelers is a result of a mixed economic outlook including recent downturns in economic factors that affect discretionary spending. Real disposal income is up just 1.3 percent, which is being offset by the travel price index rising 6.7 percent since last year, due primarily to rising transportation costs. The housing market remains depressed, with new and existing home prices down 2.4 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
Payback. When British Petroleum (BP) established a $20 billion fund to pay claims associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil well spill, Oklahoma Child Support Services (OCSS) researched ways to stake a claim on money owed to noncustodial parents behind on their child support payments.
OCSS developed a method to determine which parents were most likely to have a connection to BP, generating a list of almost 22,000 noncustodial parents. Last November, a subpoena for each case was created, stuffed in an envelope and boxed up.
After receiving the massive amount of paper subpoenas, GCCF called OCSS to learn how to set up an electronic data match not only for Oklahoma but for all states. The electronic data match information was accepted by GCCF in Feb. 2011. The first checks began arriving in July, and to date, OCSS has received $18,986.57 in past due child support through GCCF.
For more information about Oklahoma Child Support Services, visit okdhs.org.
Back to School. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education named Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology as one of 14 two-year colleges and technical branches to offer a degree-completion program for people seeking associate degrees. The program, called "Reach Higher," is designed for people who have taken some college courses in the past and would like to finish an associate degree. Fall semester classes at OSUIT will begin on Sept. 7 and enrollment is currently open.
OSU Institute of Technology.
The Reach Higher degree program features on-campus and online class options, personalized schedules and courses of study that meet career goals, and flexible enrollment periods year-round. The degree, an Associate in Science in Enterprise Development, has a concentration in business administration or general studies. The credits can be transferred to a 4-year university toward a bachelor's degree for those interested in furthering their education.
The minimum qualifications to enter the Reach Higher degree program are that a student must have 18 hours of earned college credit, must have a 2.0 cumulative college GPA, and must have completed all remedial classwork. Tuition and fees at OSUIT are approximately $135.00 per credit hour, and textbook costs will vary by course.
Students can enroll for classes by contacting Paula Tichenor at 918-293-4984 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by coming by the Grady Clack Admissions Office on the campus in Okmulgee.
Slim Milk. Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Oklahoma, yet one of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to help prevent obesity in her child is breastfeeding. A baby's risk of becoming an overweight child is reduced with each month that baby is exclusively breastfed -- meaning the baby only receives breast milk.
To help babies get a healthy start, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies only receive breast milk for the first six months of life, and continue breastfeeding, along with complementary foods, for at least one year. In Oklahoma, 68 percent of infants start breastfeeding, but by three months, only 30 percent are exclusively breastfeeding. These rates are significantly lower for African-American infants.
Baby-friendly hospital maternity practices that support breastfeeding are crucial to a mother's breastfeeding success following delivery. For mothers who intend to breastfeed, one in three will stop early without adequate hospital support. According to public health officials, enhancing hospital practices to better support breastfeeding is an important strategy to improve children's health and reduce their risk of obesity, diabetes, infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Several hospital breastfeeding activities are currently underway in Oklahoma as part of the statewide "Preparing for a Lifetime" initiative to reduce infant deaths, led by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), along with multiple partners.
Since the program's launch last year, 13 hospitals, representing 23,000 births a year, are participating, with more indicating interest. Hospitals that are interested should contact the project coordinator Becky Mannel at email@example.com.
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