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Editorial: Hey, seniors: Don't kick back, opportunity knocks

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If you're at least 62 and own property in the River Falls School District, you can do some good deeds for our local schools while earning money to offset your property taxes.

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The district's Senior Tax Exchange Program (STEP) enters its second year -- it was piloted at Rocky Branch Elementary.

Now it expands to all four elementary schools, including the Montessori, and also Meyer Middle School.

If you have the time and interest to do some work where it's needed in those schools -- maybe some reading or math tutoring, clerical duties, after-school help with homework, computer lab assistance or working with small groups meeting about character education -- could be just the opportunity for you.

STEP participants agree to work at least 69 hours a school year. In exchange they earn $500 that can be applied to pay their property taxes. And who couldn't use a little help on their tax bills? And our schools and students can always benefit from outside help and guidance.

STEP Coordinator Tara Albores said there are 25 openings for seniors in the program. Once school starts after Labor Day, teachers and staff will assess their needs. Soon after, those needs will be matched with applicants. Seniors are interviewed to see if the match will work. If so, an agreement is reached and signed by both sides.

Seniors who aren't able to work the entire 69 hours do receive a pro-rated payment under $500 toward their property taxes.

Last year Albores said 15 seniors participated in the pilot STEP at Rocky Branch. Broadening the program to 25 participants this school year has been made possible by generous grants or donations from area service organizations and businesses.

If you're a senior who wishes to be a STEP participant, call Albores at 715-425-1819, ext. 3131 or email her at Tara Albores.

She can email or mail out applications. They can also be picked up at any school or printed from the school district's website at River Falls School District.

Just click on Our Community, then on Community Education and then scroll to Senior Tax Exchange Program.

Should you be interested in donating to STEP so it can add more seniors to the program in the future, call or email Albores. Of the donations, she says: "We have received a tremendous amount of support from the community...We are so thankful...as we will be able to reach more schools, more staff, more students and more participants."

Online Poll: Lacking: Interest, surprises

The Journal's online poll question this week hasn't garnered a big response:Did the outcome of the Aug. 14 primary election surprise you?

Early results: Not at all, 71.4%. Yes, especially the Pierce County DA race, 21.4%. Didn't know there'd been a primary election, 7.2%. Yes, especially the senate-seat race and Don't care, both, 0%.

To vote go to River Falls Journal

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