AARP offers free tax preparation

Each year at income tax time, AARP offers free tax preparation. This nationwide program serves millions of taxpayers.

Although special emphasis is on low-- and middle incomes and older taxpayers, there is no income level or age limit. There are however, some limits on complexity.

For more information, call Barth at 802-442-9504.

Bennington County sites for the service are as follows:

* Sacred Heart St. Francis Church Hall, Tuesday and Thursday, from 1-4 p.m., from Feb. 11 through April 15. By appointment only, call 447-1545. All others, walk-in.

* North Bennington Library, Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. from Feb. 12 through April 9.

* VT Health Dept. 324 Main Street Bennington. Mondays 1-4 p. m. from Feb. 10 through April 14.

* Pownal Library, Mondays from 4-8 p. m. and Tuesdays from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m. from Feb. 24 though March 11.

* Manchester Town Clerk's Office, Fridays from 9 a. m. to 12 p. m. from March 7 through April 11.

Bring the following personal documents: photo ID, Social Security cards for yourself and all dependents, Income statements (W2 from each employer, social security SSA 1099, all other 1099 INT, 1099 DIV, 1009 B, 1099 MISC, 1099 R, etc. ), unemployment compensation statements, dependent care provider information (name, employer ID, SSC number), documentation for itemized deductions (receipts, cancelled checks), personal check showing routing and account numbers for direct debit or deposit, documentation of purchase price (cost basis) of sold assets, last year's returns copies for federal and state, 2010 local property tax bill or landlord rental certificate (LC 142).

BFAIR launches annual campaign

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Berkshire Family And Individual Resources, the North Adams-based non-for-profit human service agency that assists adults and children with developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury, is launching its second Annual Campaign.

Rich Weisenflue, BFAIR's executive director since 2001, "Fundraising has been instrumental as we strive to meet the needs of the people we support. Financial gifts from members of the community, family and friends of the agency as well as business partners have been used for capital improvement projects such wheelchair ramps, adaptive kitchens and ADA bathrooms to our residences and day program," Weisenflue said. "The tremendous generosity of local residents and businesses has had a significant positive impact on the quality of life for the people we support."

Since incorporation in 1994, BFAIR has been a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities by specializing in tailoring support to meet people's needs and to promote independence through employment, education and community involvement. BFAIR currently serves more than 400 adults and children with disabilities and provides more than 200 jobs in Berkshire County.

According to Peter Cicchetti, "BFAIR is a family and the people they care for are part of that family. I always felt that my brother Sterling, who received services from the agency for many years, was safe and well cared for. BFAIR staff provide for the physical and emotional needs of the individuals they care for and put people with disabilities first in a caring and passionate manner."

The campaign will run through February.

Donations may be made online at www.bfair.org using PayPal through a secure site or by sending checks to BFAIR, 771 South Church St., North Adams, MA 01247.

For more information on the campaign, call 413-664-9382.

Forest Service waives fees in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

WASHINGTON -- The U. S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites on Jan. 20, 2014, in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The fee waiver day is the first of four such days and one full weekend offered by the agency during 2014.

"Our public lands are open to everyone, and we hope these free days offer an incentive to all people to visit any of the 193 million acres of land held in trust for their enjoyment and use," said U. S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

No fees are charged at any time on 98 percent of National Forests and Grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Check with your local forest or grassland or on Recreation.gov to see if your destination charges a fee.

The other scheduled fee-free days observed by the Forest Service are President's Day weekend Feb. 15-17; National Get Outdoors Day on June 14; National Public Lands Day on Sept. 27; and Veterans' Day weekend from Nov 8. to Nov. 11.

Get Outdoors Days helps to raise awareness that nature encourages healthy, active outdoor fun.

In addition to waving fees, various Forest Service units participate in a variety of public events on agency lands and in nearby cities and towns. Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands.

Agency units plan their own events, which range from educational programs, to trash pick-up, to building trails.

Encouraging use of public lands supports the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which encourages all Americans to connect with the outdoors, and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Outside initiative that encourages children to get out and get active to be healthy.

The health benefits visitors receive from being on National Forests and Grasslands are found when exploring the more than 150,000 miles of trails, which includes hiking, biking, equestrian and motorized trails, and more than 10,000 developed recreation sites. Visitors also have a wide choice of recreational activities with 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, 9,100 miles of National Scenic Byways, 22 National Recreation Areas, 11 National Scenic Areas, seven National Monuments, one National Preserve and one National Heritage area.

The program is in cooperation with other federal land management agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Fees are waived generally for day-use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads and destination visitor centers. Concessionaire operated sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.

Contact your local National Forest or Grassland to learn if your destination requires a fee and if that fee is waived.

The mission of the U. S. Forest Service, part U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone.

Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U. S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.