Archive for July, 2010

A friend called yesterday to report that a scan showed storm clouds, she and her companion were leaving their summer home in Venango County for Illinois and their personal physician.  I said I would hang something on my spirit tree for them, so the photographs are  firstly for them and my tired stories for everyone else.

Years ago while going through a bad patch, I walked into the woods to find something or resolve something for which I had neither words, images, or directions.  Returning to the house still clueless I walked by a Dawn Redwood I had planted in a most ungodly place.  Under a tall canopy of Hemlocks, one when struck by lighting had come down and taken out the top of its stunted cousin, the tree lives on rocks and clay.

I knew.  “Stay here,” I patted the tree.  “I will be right back.”  The first useful material I found was a ball of red yarn.  I put up a strand for myself.  A strand for another.  Since then there have been a lot of yarn, ribbon, and small personal tokens go on the tree.

I do it for myself and friends when facing health issues, lost jobs, wayward lovers.  I do it to celebrate good turns, a friend’s book published, and lovers come home.  I do it when a friend dies and when I lose an artist or writer I cared about.

I don’t think of the spirit tree as a religious activity.  Perhaps I don’t care to figure it out.  I just do it.  Two conservative Presbyterians, too dear for me to be coy, saw the tree.  “Why is there stuff hanging in the tree?”  “Oh, it’s my remembrance tree.”  “That’s nice.”

You don’t need to hide your spirit tree unless you want to.  You can use your corner magnolia or a tree you enjoy on your morning walk.  Most people, if they notice, will understand.

In early history, I went to a graduate student party at Indiana University where the host displayed two small figures he claimed to have found at the base of a big tree in an Indiana state park.  The skeleton was wood and the body was wire wrapped around the wood.  Fashioned as male and female, each had a personal item attached.  One had a small wooden spool with faded thread.  The other a very worn pipe stem.  We all howled, but who gives credence to the young and drunk.  If I saw those figures today I would remain silent.  Charles Marlin

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The Clarion News for Tuesday, July 13th shows a senior lady being arrested for sitting in a rocking chair while her beloved South Street is denuded of shade trees.  There is concern bordering on panic about the future of rocking chairs in Clarion Borough.

The rumor is that city council leaders have asked the borough solicitor to research the strongest charge and penalty for possession or use of a rocking chair within the borough.  It is not clear if rocking chairs within the confines of home or business, or on the Clarion University campus, will be exempted from the potentially new ordinance.

In Michelle’s they have preemptively removed all rocking chairs.  This panic may spread.  Porches may give way to uncomfortable, straight-backed, static chairs.

Before the shade and pleasure of summer are fractured and lost, cooler-headed political leaders must step forward.  I say, don’t turn Clarion into a hot Tea Party.  Charles Marlin

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Early in the spring I found this Wheatland Pipe flag and brought it home.  Originally I thought I would hold it hostage until a ransom was paid to Clarion County Community Foundation.  It seemed like a good idea until I did a little research.

Wheatland Pipe is really Wheatland Tube Company, part of behemoth John Maneely Company majorly owned by The Carlyle Group.  I may be dumb and old but I am not sending a ransom note to a “group” that has its own seat at the United Nations.

Next I thought of contacting Barry Zekelman, Executive Chairman, but it appears he does not like to take prisoners.  A car dealer tried to stiff him on a purchase of a red ’09 Bugatti and he set his junkyard lawyer on the car dealer and the car company.  He has a beautiful new home in Arizona that people are whispering about.  The rumor is that Obama will make it his Western White House during the Federal occupation of Arizona.  I am not sending a ransom note to a man with those problems.

Next, I thought I would check out their new Chief Executive Officer Frank A. Riddick III.  The name looked approachable until I found out he is very in with World Wrestling Entertainment and may on occasion go in the ring.  Spooky.

So I have decided not to send any ransom notes.  Wheaty, yes last month I gave it a name.  Wheaty gets lots of fresh air and almost every morning waves as I first walk by.  The black bears leave him alone.

It is generally accepted scientific opinion that flags never evolve a personality, but that may not be true in this case.  On windy days he seems to respond.  If you want to send him a vacation postcard, address it to Wheaty c/o CCCF, Suite A, 21 North 6th Avenue, Clarion PA 16214.  Charles Marlin

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Mr ? Man


#4  What is an endowed charitable trust fund?

Mr?Man notices this question calls for details, but remember he decided to be handsome rather than a lawyer.  Money or property given to a legally recognized trustee for charitable purposes to be invested and managed to produce income that can be spent for the listed charitable purposes is called an endowed charitable trust fund.  Some income may be reinvested to grow the original capital, and an administrative fee may be charged.

#5  What are trustees?

Trustees are legally recognized by state or Federal charters or by documents filed with appropriate courts of law.  Banks can serve as trustees if the donor has a trust contract with the bank.  Federally chartered charities include the American Red Cross, the United States Olympic Committee, and many others usually with broadly stated purposes.

The easiest and most efficient trustee available to individuals is a community foundation such as Clarion County Community Foundation.  If a community foundation near you does not make a good fit with your charitable interests, they will help you find the right trustee for you.

#6  Can an organization set up a trust account on their own?

No, including the word trust on a separate savings account or CD and requiring the officers as signatories does not create a trust fund.  This action adds no legal protection preventing a signatory or the organization from spending part or all of the capital.  It is not protected from legal actions taken against the organization.  The money would be as safe stuffed in a plastic container buried in state game lands.  Charles Marlin

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What a man.  What a story.  What a writer.  Short of writing a book about Jack London, that is as good as I can get it without appearing a bungler.  James L. Haley is not a bungler in his Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London.  If anyone offers you less than this biography, take all keyboards away for their own safety and their right to vote for our safety.

The facts and myths of Jack London’s life are bountiful and sinfully enticing to a biographer to go astray but Haley handles all of it with style.  London was interesting before he learned to write, interesting when writing, debauching, adventuring, farming, sailing, reporting, and recovering.  He was interesting as his imagination as a writer failed him.  Even as a womanizer and perhaps manizer he was interesting.  He was an American Saga on flat feet.  And in the early years damned good looking.

Speaking of good looks, there are nude photographs of London when his body was lean, toned, and ready for action, but alas I could not find one to display with this post.  If I had found one, WordPress in their failure to understand how meaningful it is, would have slapped my hands internettingly.

Instead, I chose a late photograph of London and his second wife Charmian Kittredge.  Her  place in his life and writing is immeasurable.  Though his battered and abused body gave out at age 40, without his Love-Woman and Mate the last decade of his life might have been lost to him and us.

It was not his beastly beauty or her love-making talent and appetite that endures.  For that beauty she continued to work after his death in publishing, preserving, and promoting Jack London.  Well done, Mate.  Charles Marlin

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There are two steps to making a bequest, first one is big but the second one is just one or two regular sized steps  It is easy and refreshing.  You will be proud of yourself after you complete the bequest.

Here is the big step.  Please consider a bequest or planned gift to benefit your home community through Clarion County Community Foundation.  Clarion County is your home and part of your identity.  It may have been your family’s residence for generations.  This is the place that cares about you.  Please let them remember you in the most favorable way possible.

When you make a decision that yes you want to do something for your home community, the next regular sized step is filling in the blanks.  This is not difficult.

Make certain your lawyer uses the full legal name, tax number, and location of the community foundation.  Without revealing your name the lawyer can ask for the tax number by calling our Executive Director Steve Kosak at (814) 677-5085.  Because CCCF is an affiliate of Bridge Builders Community Foundations, and the tax number in under the BBCF name, when naming the community foundation use the full name Clarion County Community Foundation/Bridge Builders Community Foundations, tax number _________, with the current business address of PO Box 374, 213 Seneca Street, Oil City PA 16301.

Next you identify what you want to give to the community foundation, either a set amount, a specific property, a percentage of your total estate, or the residual after all other distributions are made.  Your lawyer will word this for you.

After deciding what you want to give to the community foundation you select the way you want your gift to serve.  CCCF has three general funds, called field-of-interest funds by the professionals, you may decide to support.  They are 1. CCCF Operating Support Fund, 2. Rare Gift Fund, and 3. Unrestricted Grants Fund.

Or you may choose to create an endowment fund for one or more nonprofits working in the county.  Ask your lawyer to check on their legal name and address.

Or you may create a scholarship fund for one or all the high schools in Clarion County.  You may list the criteria for the scholarships as well as the membership of the scholarship committee who review applications.

Or you may strike out on your own with a new fund tailored to charitable needs you want to support.  There are always needs in the community for which there are no endowment funds.  What you do may inspire others to follow with their support.  There is always a frontier in front of us if we bother to look.

Whatever your choice, your bequest can become a memorial named as you wish.

If you select to support a current nonprofit or a charitable activity that may change in the next one or two hundred years, you should discuss with your lawyer and our Executive Director the wording of a sunset provision.  Typically a sunset provision will read: If the nonprofit or its successor ceases to exist or reside in Clarion County, the fund shall become an unrestricted grants fund.

After the will is completed, signed, and you have had time to reflect, you may want to discuss with our Executive Director the creation of a fund contract to set out all the details you want.  This contract will be closely reviewed by the CCCF Board of Directors and the BBCF Board of Trustees.  When everyone is in agreement and feel the contract can function in perpetuity, you and the board chairpersons sign the legal document.  The contract will not become public or activated until needed.  Preparing a fund contract in advance is a wise step.  Charles Marlin

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#1  What is a community foundation?

Mr?Man is happy with your first question.  He likes simple questions.  A community foundation is a nonprofit chartered by the state to provide endowment trust fund services in a specific area such as urban metropolis, county, region, or an entire state.  It is controlled by a citizen board of volunteers guided by state laws and Federal IRS regulations.

#2  What does a community foundation do for a community?

A community foundation is the legal custodian of endowment funds set up for charitable purposes.  It protects those funds in perpetuity by investing prudently, keeps records and audits of the funds, makes reports to the IRS, and approves grants to nonprofits and scholarships to students.

#3  Where does a community foundation get endowment funds?

The trust departments of banks often transfer trusteeship of small charitable trust funds that prove to be unprofitable or time consuming for them to administer.

Donors and nonprofits come to the community foundation to create an endowment fund for their charitable purposes.

The community foundation encourages bequests and planned gifts through wills for the creation of charitable endowment funds.

The community foundation receives donations to an endowment fund for general charitable purposes.  This type of endowment fund is called an Unrestricted Grants Fund.  Charles Marlin

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