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Exploring Finances
Can You Reduce
The Medicare Surcharge? 

Published Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:12 p.m.
     NEWBERRY -
- Before you turn 65 years old, you will want to become familiar with Medicare’s rules and features.

 

 

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     And if you’re a high earner, you’ll want to be especially aware of the Medicare premium surcharge — because, over time, it can add up to some significant dollars.
     The premium surcharge — known as the income related monthly adjustment amount, or IRMAA — is assessed on premiums for Medicare Parts B and D, and generally is based on an individual’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of two years ago. So, the IRMAA for 2023 would be based on one’s MAGI from 2021. 
     For someone who’s married and files taxes jointly, and whose MAGI for 2021 was $194,000 or less, the Part B premium for 2023 will be $164.90 per month, and the Part D premium will be whatever amount is charged by their Medicare plan. But if their 2021 MAGI was between $194,000 and $246,000, they’ll pay $230.80 (a surcharge of $65.90) for Part B and an additional $12.20 for Part D. And the IRMAA rises at different income levels, reaching a maximum of $560.50 (a surcharge of $395.60) for Part B and an additional $76.40 for Part D for a MAGI of $750,000 or more. 
     If you’re unprepared for the IRMAA, it can be an unpleasant surprise. So, if you’ve still got a few years until you enroll in Medicare, you may want to look for ways to control your MAGI and possibly limit the surcharge. 
     Here are a few suggestions:
     • Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). If you have access to a Health Savings Account (HSA), your contributions will reduce your taxable income, helping you on the IRMAA issue. Furthermore, any investment growth within your HSA is tax free, as are withdrawals for qualified medical expenses, which can include Medicare premiums, deductibles and copays.
     • Contribute to a Roth IRA. Roth IRA withdrawals are tax free, provided you don’t start taking them until you’re 59½ and you’ve had your account at least five years. These tax-free withdrawals can enable you to avoid taking taxable withdrawals from other accounts, which may help you avoid an increase in your IRMAA. 
     • Consider a Roth IRA conversion. You could convert some, or perhaps all, the assets of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. But you’ll need to consider the impact of taxes — any deductible contributions to your traditional IRA and the earnings generated by these contributions will be fully taxable the year of the conversion, so you’ll want to have funds outside your IRA available to pay these taxes. Also, timing is important — to be on the safe side, you might want to complete the Roth conversion three or more years before you enroll in Medicare, so the conversion and the likely increase in your MAGI won’t increase the IRMAA.
     • Manage your withdrawal rate – Taking large withdrawals from your retirement accounts can bump up your MAGI bracket and your IRMAA. So, as you near retirement, you’ll want to establish a sustainable withdrawal rate — one that provides you the income you need but without going overboard.  
While these moves could potentially help you control the Medicare surcharge, they still must make sense for your overall financial strategy. It’s obviously desirable to keep the surcharge as low as you can — but it’s even more important to take the steps necessary to reach your financial goals. 
     Publisher’s Note: This article was written by Edward Jones for use by Edward Jones Financial Advisor - Sheila K. Smith, 25349 W. Newberry Road, in Newberry. Phone 352-472-2776.

 


NASA and DARPA will test
nuclear engine for future Mars missions

Nuclear Space Engine DARPA
An artist’s concept of a Demonstration for Rocket to Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) spacecraft is seen here. DRACO will demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine. Nuclear thermal propulsion technology could be used for future NASA-crewed missions to Mars.

Credits: DARPA

Story and Photo
Provided By NASA News Releases
Published Jan. 25, 2023 at 3:12 p.m.
     WASHNIGTON, D.C. –
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Tuesday (Jan. 24) a collaboration to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space, an enabling capability for NASA crewed missions to Mars.
     NASA and DARPA will partner on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, program. The non-reimbursable agreement designed to benefit both agencies, outlines roles, responsibilities, and processes aimed at speeding up development efforts. 
      “NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027. With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever – a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Congratulations to both NASA and DARPA on this exciting investment, as we ignite the future, together.”
     Using a nuclear thermal rocket allows for faster transit time, reducing risk for astronauts. Reducing transit time is a key component human missions to Mars, as longer trips require more supplies and more robust systems. Maturing faster, more efficient transportation technology will help NASA meet its Moon to Mars Objectives.
     Other benefits to space travel include increased science payload capacity and higher power for instrumentation and communication. In a nuclear thermal rocket engine, a fission reactor is used to generate extremely high temperatures. The engine transfers the heat produced by the reactor to a liquid propellant, which is expanded and exhausted through a nozzle to propel the spacecraft. Nuclear thermal rockets can be three or more times more efficient than conventional chemical propulsion.
      “NASA has a long history of collaborating with DARPA on projects that enable our respective missions, such as in-space servicing,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “Expanding our partnership to nuclear propulsion will help drive forward NASA's goal to send humans to Mars.”
     Under the agreement, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will lead technical development of the nuclear thermal engine to be integrated with DARPA’s experimental spacecraft. DARPA is acting as the contracting authority for the development of the entire stage and the engine, which includes the reactor.
     DARPA will lead the overall program including rocket systems integration and procurement, approvals, scheduling, and security, cover safety and liability, and ensure overall assembly and integration of the engine with the spacecraft. Over the course of the development, NASA and DARPA will collaborate on assembly of the engine before the in-space demonstration as early as 2027. 
      “DARPA and NASA have a long history of fruitful collaboration in advancing technologies for our respective goals, from the Saturn V rocket that took humans to the Moon for the first time to robotic servicing and refueling of satellites,” said Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, director, DARPA. “The space domain is critical to modern commerce, scientific discovery, and national security. The ability to accomplish leap-ahead advances in space technology through the DRACO nuclear thermal rocket program will be essential for more efficiently and quickly transporting material to the Moon and eventually, people to Mars.”
     The last nuclear thermal rocket engine tests conducted by the United States occurred more than 50 years ago under NASA’s Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application and Rover projects.
      “With this collaboration, we will leverage our expertise gained from many previous space nuclear power and propulsion projects,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for STMD. "Recent aerospace materials and engineering advancements are enabling a new era for space nuclear technology, and this flight demonstration will be a major achievement toward establishing a space transportation capability for an Earth-Moon economy.”
     NASA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and industry are also developing advanced space nuclear technologies for multiple initiatives to harness power for space exploration. Through NASA’s Fission Surface Power project, DOE awarded three commercial design efforts to develop nuclear power plant concepts that could be used on the surface of the Moon and, later, Mars.
     NASA and DOE are working another commercial design effort to advance higher temperature fission fuels and reactor designs as part of a nuclear thermal propulsion engine. These design efforts are still under development to support a longer-range goal for increased engine performance and will not be used for the DRACO engine. 
     To learn more about STMD, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/spacetech.

 


 

Fourth Annual Tour of the Towns
showcases Yankeetown and Inglis

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Firefly Vintage, at 18 U.S. Highway 19, in Inglis, has collectables and antiques. Seen here at the place where the tour started this year, are Pat Rosato (left) and Mary Marsh (the owner).

By Peter Weiss, HardisonInk.com Correspondent
© Jan. 22, 2023 at 7:12 a.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2023 at 7:12 p.m.
     INGLIS-YANKEETOWN –
Saturday heralded another year of the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce fully conducting the Tour of the Towns event in Inglis and Yankeetown again.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
The Tour of the Towns Welcoming Committee is seen here at Firefly Vintage, the starting point for the tour. The 2023 Welcoming Committee is comprised of (from left) Kathleen Joesting, Diana Pearson and Kelly Bergdoll.


     The Tour of Towns was created in 2020 by Diana Pearson. Pearson still helps out, including this year by being part of the Welcoming Committee.
     The Tour created a method for people to explore and discover many of the local businesses that they may have overlooked in the past. The Withlacoochee Gulf Area (WGA) Chamber of Commerce is the Chamber for Inglis and Yankeetown, the two southernmost municipalities of Levy County’s eight cities and towns.
     On Saturday (Jan. 21) the Third Annual Tour of the Towns went from start to finish with many people enjoying the festive, traveling business promotions.
     After receiving a map and a list of Tour "Stops," participants were encouraged to visit every one of the Stops in the Tour. As an incentive, at each stop raffle tickets are given out - one to each visitor.
     At the end of the event, participants met at Blackwater Restaurant, 6301 Riverside Drive, in Yankeetown. Once at this establishment, raffle tickets were drawn to determine which participants were awarded prizes donated by area business interests.
     Below is a pictorial review of many of this year’s participating WGA Chamber participants.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Nature Coast Inn, 649 Levy County Road 40 W., in Inglis, has cottages and rooms to rent. Breakfast is served daily there. Seen here are Janet Stone (left) and Connie Wonsik (owner).

2023 Tour Of The Towns
555 Vintage, is at 555 Levy County Road 40 W. in Inglis. This Pop Up Shop is open one day a month. It has antiques and collectibles. There are three co-owners Julie Essman (left) Sheryl Scott and (not pictured) Freda Nichols.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Follow That Dream Daycare, is at 220 Levy County Road 40 W. Inglis. Desiree Jones, seen here, is the owner.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Hook, Line, & Sinker: Bait & Tackle is at 144 Levy County Road 40 W., in Inglis. It is owned by Nicky Floyd, seen here.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Compass Homes and Land LLC is at 84 Levy County Road 40 W., in Inglis. Seen here are Realtor Michelle Sandra Goode (left) and Teri Sather Watford. Nancy Little Lewis the owner is not pictured.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Sunshine Dreams Art Center is at 24 Levy County Road 40 W., in Inglis. Are you ‘Feeling Artsy?’ Dawn Gurtner is the owner.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Sprinkles Ice Cream Shop is at 26 Levy County Road 40 W., in Inglis. Seen here is Kaitlin Lockhart. Not pictured is owner Desiree Jones.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Potter’s Barn 3251 SE 193rd Place, Yankeetown, FL Handcrafted Pottery, Alica Lowe (owner)

2023 Tour Of The Towns
Representing Yankeetown Marina is David Pisano (red shirt), and representing Black Dog Charters (second from left and then to the right then down) are Katrina Atherley, Darryl Atherley and Brayden Atherley.

2023 Tour Of The Towns
The Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (WGP) is a public park open daily with no admission fee. It is located at 10001 Old Rock Road, in Yankeetown. At the park on the day of the Third Annual Tour of the Towns are Sue Pratt (left) and Ellen Klee. To learn more about the WGP, click HERE.


     Other stops on the Third Annual Tour of the Towns and not pictured here include:
     ● The Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce Office, 167 Levy County Road 40 W. Inglis, which has a life-size replica of Elvis Aaron Presley to pose with outside. Levy County Road 40 West is also known as Follow That Dream Parkway, because Follow That Dream is the name of a movie where Presley was the lead actor-singer and it was filmed in Inglis-Yankeetown. By the way, some people call it “highway 40” or “State Road 40,” but it is Levy CR 40, until it hits the Levy County-Marion County line, then it becomes SR 40; and
     ● Eleanor Oaks RV Park, 41 Cattail Lane, in Yankeetown; and
     ● Ladybug's Snowcones and Mexican Food, 6151 Levy County Road 40 W., in Yankeetown.

 


Unemployment rate drops to 2.9 percent
Information Provided
By Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Director of Communications
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
Published Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:12 p.m.
     OCALA --
The jobless rate in the CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion region was 2.9 percent in December, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point over the month and over the region's year ago rate of 3.4 percent.

     The labor force was 209,177, up 3,091 (+1.5 percent) over the year. There were 6,075 unemployed residents in the region, a dip of 993 compared to November.
     According to preliminary employment data released today by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, there were 203,102 employed across the region, an increase of 4,035 compared to the same time last year.
     Levy County continued to post the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 2.5 percent, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point over the month and 0.6 percentage point lower than the previous December. Marion County followed at 2.8 percent, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point over the month. Citrus County’s rate also saw a decrease at 3.5 percent, down 0.5 percentage point over the month.
     Rusty Skinner, CareerSource CLM’s chief executive officer, said the preliminary data shows a common trend that is seen during the holiday months, an increase in employed populations due to seasonal job opportunities; however, the low jobless rates across the region and the state of Florida continues to show gains in post-pandemic economic recovery.
      “We are continuing to see low jobless rates which is a boon to our economy,” Skinner said. “However, don’t be surprised to see that rate go up in the new year.
     “With there being more job opportunities than those that can fill them, there has never been a better time to be a job seeker” Skinner continued. “We see a high need for specialized careers like welders, plumbers, and CDL drivers. In fact, our upcoming job fairs reflect that need.”
     The American Welding Society Job Fair on Feb. 7 and the CDL Community Job Fair on Feb. 8 at Marion Technical College; as well as the Mega Job Fair on Feb. 23 at the College of Central Florida all focus on specialized skills and job opportunities in a range of industries.
     Information about fee-free job fairs, hiring events and other job seeker and employer services are available at https://careersourceclm.com/ or by calling 800-434-JOBS (5627).
     State and local employment reports for January 2023 are scheduled for release on March 13.

 


Rocket launch filmed from hayfield
Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
Remnants of the big contrail left by the Falcon 9 rocket are seen just before the Sun rises in the east on Wednesday (Jan. 18).

Story, Photos and Video
By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 18, 2023 at 9:12 p.m.
All Rights Reserved
     JEMLANDS –
A hayfield south of The Ink Pad in Jemlands provided an observation center for a daily news website publisher to film another rocket launch from 150 miles west of the rocket’s launchpad on Wednesday morning (Jan. 18).


Video of jet contrails and a Falcon 9 launch from 150 miles away
This still shot shows what appears to be a tiny dot in the upper left corner. That is the rocket. The contrail is relatively far behind it. In this set of videos, three passing jets are filmed before the first part of the fourth section of the combined videos show the tiny speck shooting off to the upper left of the screen. That is the fast-moving Falcon 9 rocket. When you hear the bird chirping in this video, for the eight seconds after that, the very tiny dot moving quickly to the upper left is the rocket. It disappears but the bird chirps in the background. Near the end of the video, careful listeners can hear a woodpecker seeking insects for breakfast. CLICK ON THE PHOTO ABOVE TO WATCH AND LISTEN TO THE VIDEO.
Videos By Jeff M. Hardison © Jan. 18, 2023
All Rights Reserved

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
Walking toward the hayfield, fog is seen rolling in.

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
Oh no! The fog thickens quickly. Will the rocket be visible?

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
The crescent Moon shines through the fog.

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
A big contrail reflects the Sun’s light as sunrise approaches.

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
A big orange line crosses a blue sky. Go Gators! (It would be more blue if it was not so early in the morning.)

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
One of three jets make fresh contrails. In a 12-minute span before the rocket was filmed, three different jets provided filming practice.

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
Still shots of jets and contrails provide good practice for that purpose as well.

Rocket Launch Jan. 18, 2023
An early still shot of the first part of the rocket’s contrail is seen here.


     SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Global Positioning System satellite as its payload at approximately 6:35 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on Jan. 18.
     At 6 a.m. that Wednesday morning, SpaceX had targeted a 7:10 a.m. launch. That changed to 7:24 a.m. as the fueling and “go or no-go” poll was being conducted. The launch team mentioned it had a “spacecraft issue” to resolve.
     About a minute more was added, and then at 7:25 a.m. the launch happened.
     The 230-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket began its sojourn toward space to deliver the GPS III-6 satellite from Launch Complex 40, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
     Cape Canaveral was known as Cape Kennedy Air Force Station from 1964 to 1974, and as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from 1974 to 1994, and from 2000 to 2020. The facility was renamed "Cape Canaveral Space Force Station" in December of 2020, as best as can be determined from records.
     The John F. Kennedy Space Center (generally known as Kennedy Space Center or KSC) is located on Merritt Island, not far from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
     KSC is one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) 10 field centers. Since December of 1968, KSC has been NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight. NASA and SpaceX use KSC to launch rockets, too.
     In regard to the launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Jan. 18, there was a rocket returned as usual for SpaceX.
     SpaceX reuses a lot of its rocket engines. The target for the fuel-expended casing was for a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
     The 162-foot booster part of this particular day’s SpaceX launch system was sent to a landing on the "Shortfall of Gravitas" drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after the flight that went toward the northeast from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The landing was successful, SpaceX noted as soon as it landed.
     Weather conditions in the hayfield south of Jemlands were almost 100 percent "go" for camera shutters during the launch window that ran from 7:10 until 7:36 a.m.
     Fog began rolling into the hayfield at about 6:45 a.m., but it laid down close to the ground and was penetrable by the light reflected from the objects being photographed and videotaped.
     Jemlands is an unrecorded subdivision in an unincorporated part of Levy County. It is located generally between Carter’s Crossroads and the Community of Fowler’s Bluff, off of Levy County Road 347.
     Following is what the intrepid, illustrious and prolific journalist said about the most recent long-distance view of a rocket launch said about the Jan. 18, 2023, event.
     (The whole narrative below can be understood to be within quote marks, as if this was a column by Jeff M. Hardison.)
     I woke up this morning and noticed chatter on the Internet was indicating reason to believe a SpaceX launch was set to happen very soon as had been anticipated previously.
     I grabbed the portable rocking chair, often used by me for these events where I observe from the hayfield my neighbor said I can fly my drone over, from whence to watch rocket launches. As I sat down, I noticed fog rolling in. I knew I would have a story and photos at least.
     Then, I saw and videotaped a couple of jets leaving contrails. This made me happy because I had to manually focus the long lens due to some electronic issues with autofocus that morning with that lens.
    I did not bring a tripod, either. Even half-awake my hand is relatively steadier than most folks’ hands. At least I like to tell myself that. I have not conducted a poll or completed research to see how close that is to being provably true.
     And looking at the video, I see I should have held the long lens more than just holding the camera body with one hand.
     I was looking at my watch, gazing to the east. I thought that if the rocket did not launch, I could videotape the sunrise. Then I thought about whether it would be smart to stare toward the sun while using a telephoto lens.
     Sure enough, however, the contrail from the rocket was going up in the east. Bingo! Another rocket launch was under my belt.
     I’ve stayed in motels, solo and with my wife Sharon, on the East Coast to watch and film and report about rocket launches and tours of NASA’s KSC.
    I skipped one invitation where I was previously approved as a member of the press. That turned out to be a good launch to not attend, because that launch was scrubbed at least a couple of times.
     Having watched and filmed the launch, I returned to Earthbound matters such as conducting research to determine the best management practices for the business of keeping a locally owned daily news website healthy and operational.

 


 

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