Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, June 2, 2014

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Thumbs up Sherry Thurner's cemetery tours. The Janesville resident, a retired English and speech teacher, is leading “Stories and Stones,” walking tours at Janesville's Oak Hill Cemetery, this summer. The first one, May 10, was well attended. Tours start at 10 a.m. the second Saturday of each month through August. The next one is June 14. Thurner will share insight into people buried at Oak Hill. For example, Gerald Braisher, former equipment manager who designed the Green Bay Packer logo, is buried there. She works with genealogical society listings, then verifies them by visiting and photographing graves. She has added about 4,000 sites from Oak Hill's 24,000 graves to findagrave.com, a national database that helps people track ancestors. Thurner likens her research to a treasure hunt. For a grave to catch her interest, she says, the person must have a good story, a good stone, or both.

Thumbs down to scam emails claiming you owe taxes. Wisconsinites are getting messages claiming they owe state taxes and will face penalties if they don't open the email attachments. The emails falsely claim to be from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. The department warns that opening the attachment could damage your computer or allow an identity thief to extract personal information from your computer. Do not open the attachments. Delete the email. The department says it never communicates by email, nor does it request personal information by phone. For more information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline at 800-422-7128.

Thumbs up a record year for Focus on Energy. A new study shows funding for renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects spurred record cost savings in 2013, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Focus on Energy invested more than $63 million last year in rebates and incentives for items such as solar and wind power, furnaces, water heaters and efficient light bulbs for homes and businesses. The Cadmus Group, a Massachusetts consultant hired by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, reported that for every dollar spent, $3.41 will be saved. That's up from $2.89 saved for every $1 spent in 2012. Focus on Energy has worked with eligible residents and businesses since 2001. Wisconsin utilities collect money from ratepayers and funnel it to Focus on Energy based on state formulas.

Thumbs up to the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Libraries throughout Rock and Walworth counties are taking a different approach to their summer reading program. Instead of librarian-based, this is a parent-based program. Children's librarians dole out informational folders to parents. The child gets a sticker for every 10 books read with a parent or caregiver. Sticker sizes increase at important benchmarks. A child reaching 1,000 books gets to pick out a book to keep. The goal is obvious: increase literacy. Reading is the foundation of all other learning, and with U.S. education struggling to stay on par with that of many other industrialized countries, this push makes sense. It ties in with other library early literacy initiatives that, besides reading, encourage singing, writing, playing and talking.

Gazette editorials express the views of the newspaper's editorial board. Readers are encouraged to comment on editorials through letters to the editor.

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