The EMERALD STAR NEWS Inc.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
WCSO Cell Phone Alerts
Have you ever wondered when you went to bed at night if there wasa serious weather event how you would find out about it? The StateEmergency Response Team (SERT) in conjunction with the FederalEmergency Management Administration (FEMA) advises there isan answer to that question. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) arenow being sent out to those who have WEA capable cell phones.Older phones may not receive WEAs and some phones will soonreceive software updates that will add this feature.The free messages are sent out automatically. Cell phone users donot have to sign up for this service but some users have the optionof opting out. Although some cell phone users may be able to optout of these warnings, Emergency Management strongly discour-ages this. The WEAs are not intended to take the place of gatheringfurther information from other weather sources. Stay tuned to your radio, media or your NOAA weather radio for what is happeningand what actions you should take.The messages are sent to phones that are located within a certainradius of a cellphone tower. SERT advises that according to thelocation of the phone at the time of an alert, users may receive mul-tiple alerts for different areas (i.e. individuals in eastern WaltonCounty may receive an alert intended for those in western Washing-ton or Holmes Counties).There are three types of alerts that are issued:1) Presidential Alert
issued by the President of the UnitedStates in case of nationwide emergency2) Imminent Threat
issued by National Weather Service. For Florida, this would include such warnings as tornadoes, flashfloods, hurricane, extreme wind or tsunami.3) AMBER Alert
issued by law enforcement to share informa-tion about a child abduction
Emergency Management Director Major Joe Preston stated, “This
is a great feature to keep our citizens informed of all types of emer-gency situations, not just hurricanes. More and more of our citizensare using smart phones as their only source of communication. This provides a viable option for alerting someone who may not be at
home listening to the radio or watching their television.”
Best Warehouse Store: BJ’s, Costco or Sam’s Club?
According to Consumer Reports, shoppers can save up to 55 percent at warehouse clubs
on every-thing from bulk packages of toilet paper and frozen pizza to Coach handbags and vacation packages. If
you belong to one, you’re probably enjoying the savings and the “treasure hunt” shopping experience –
never quite knowing what you’ll find on shelves and pallets.
It’s no surprise that as warehouse clubs open more locations and offer a wider range of items, sales are
growing. The $390 billion industry has seen a 137 percent jump in sales from 2001 to 2011, comparedto 47 percent for all general merchandise stores, according to First Research.
But which warehouse club is best for you? Sometimes it’s as simple as finding the one closest to
home, but if you have choices, you should consider factors, from selection to return policies. We putthe big three to the test by comparing 11 factors
from basic membership costs and locations to selec-tion of luxury goods.
Basic membership is $50 a year at BJ’s, $55 at Costco, and $40 at Sam’s Club. If you want to test the
waters first, keep an eye out for free trials.
Warehouse clubs offer rewards programs, but they’re not free. Become a BJ’s Rewards member for $100 a year (or upgrade an existing membership for $50), and you’ll get 2 percent back on most in
club and BJs.com purchases. Costco’s Executive Membership is $110 a year and also offers 2 percent
capped at $750 a year. Sam’s Club is experimenting with the idea of a cash rewards pro-
gram; in a new rollout, Plus members ($100 a year) are now receiving $10 for every $500 spent
which also comes out to 2 percent
capped at $500.
Thinking about shopping at a warehouse club without footing the bill for a membership? Costco is the
least expensive: the surcharge to nonmembers is 5 percent. BJ’s is the highest at 15 percent, whileSam’s Club’s surcharge is 10 percent.
In a Consumer Reports survey, 26,000 shoppers evaluated their experiences at 10 major retailers:
Costco, JC Penney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, and Walmart. Costco
was the top-
rated store in the survey. Sam’s Club got average or slightly above average grades in allcategories. BJ’s wasn’t included.
In another survey by Temkin, 6,000 consumers ranked companies based on customer service. Costco
ranked third, behind Amazon and Kohl’s, with 79 percent of survey respondents giving it an“excellent” or “good” rating. Sam’s Club and BJ’s were close, however, at 78 percent.
While this doesn’t point to a clear winner, it’s safe to say the overall shopping experience at any of the big three doesn’t differ much –
and doesn’t disappoint.
From Costco’s return policies page: “We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell with a
full refund. The following must be returned within 90 days of purchase for a refund: televisions, pro-
jectors, computers, cameras, camcorders, touch screen tablets, MP3 players and cellular phones.”
From Sam’s Club return policies page: “We offer a 100% guarantee on merchandise and Membership.
We will refund purchases in full with a receipt. Click here to view our Return/Refund exceptions. No
receipt: We will refund the purchase(s) at the last selling price with a shopping card.”
From BJ’s return policies page: “Items eligible for return must be returned within 30 days fromdate of shipping. For more information, please see the “Proper Conditions for Return and Credit”
SWFD Looks For Arsonist
There is a suspected fire bug in South Walton. The South WaltonFire District (SWFD) received a call at 8:55 pm Monday night re-porting a structure fire at 198 San Juan Street in Seagrove.Within minutes of receiving the initial 9-1-1 call, SWFD crews ar-rived on scene and reported heavy smoke and flames coming fromthe back side of the uninhabited 1,200 sq. ft two story residentialstructure. Shortly after arrival, SWFD crews managed to extin-guish the fire and contain the majority of the damage to the firstfloor.The SWFD Fire Marshal/Investigator and the State of Florida FireMarshal Detective were notified to determine cause and origin. Dur-ing their joint investigation it was determined arson appeared to be
the cause of the fire. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office was also
notified due to an apparent burglary of this same residence. The fireis still under investigation.According to the Walton County Property Appraisers website, theproperty and structure are valued at an estimated $107,000. Firedamage was estimated at $50,000. The owners were not home at thetime of the fire and there were no injuries.