by Kristina Crawley and Cara Gardner

Own Your Own -- SPOKANE -- In the market for a new home? You can get information and guidance at the Home Buyers Fair 2004, presented by Washington Mutual Bank and the Spokane Home Ownership Resource Center.

Representatives from mortgage lenders, home inspectors, insurance companies, credit-counseling agencies and other organizations will have booths at the Spokane Convention Center on Saturday from 10 am-4 pm.

And you don't have to be a first-time buyer to come, says Staci Lehman, marketing assistant for SHORC. There will be information on refinancing, homeowners insurance and other issues affecting those who have already purchased a house.

"We're finding that even people who already own a home don't know anything about homeowners insurance," Lehman says. That's just one of the many topics on which SHORC can educate both homebuyers and owners.

SHORC was established in 1999 and provides free services to those who are struggling to purchase a home in the Inland Northwest. Along with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC), it offers First-Time Homebuyer Education Seminars. SHORC also works with local-area mortgage lenders and offers programs to help those with special needs secure low-interest loans.

Throughout the Home Buyers Fair, there will be mini-workshops on a variety of topics such as how to clean up your credit or the importance of home inspections. There will also be an area for children and free door prizes. The event is free and open to the public.

Cooking Up Some Ozone -- SPOKANE -- Our skin isn't the only thing that's baking during the summer months. In addition to avoiding heat stroke, Spokane residents should also be aware that everyday activities might harm the level of air quality, according to the Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority (SCAPCA).

Simple actions like gassing up the car or lighting a charcoal barbecue emit pollutants that become "bad" ozone when mixed with nitrogen oxide in the air and heated by the sun. When temperatures rise, so does the amount of bad ozone in the air.

"These pollutants cook and they bake in the sunlight," says Lisa Woodard, spokeswoman for SCAPCA.

Ground-level ozone is different from ozone in the upper atmosphere, which acts as a protector from the sun's ultraviolet rays. At the ground level, ozone is a harmful pollutant that has been linked to many respiratory diseases. Children are especially at risk because they spend more time doing outdoor activities, and their lungs are not yet fully developed. Bad ozone also presents a bigger threat to people with asthma.

The good news is over the past few years, Spokane has kept within federal air quality standards, which are set to protect those most vulnerable to air pollutants.

Individuals can help keep the air clean by walking or riding a bike one day a week instead of taking the car. Refueling at night cuts down on the amount of pollutants that are cooked in the heat of the day. SCAPCA also recommends waiting for a cooler day to mow the lawn. It may not sound like much, but Woodard says every little bit helps.

"It seems like, "That's such a small thing. How is that going to make a difference?' [But] little things really make a difference," she says. "It's going to take a lot of small things. It's people making minor adjustments in their lifestyles."

Building Blocks -- SPOKANE -- "Downtown and Infill Housing Issues" is the theme of this month's Spokane Building Blocks' session, which will be held on Tuesday, July 27, in the City Council Chambers in the lower level of Spokane City Hall.

"What we'll be talking about is the desirability and demand and the interest level in living downtown," says Ron Wells, who co-owns Wells and Co. and manages numerous downtown apartment buildings and renovations. Wells and his wife Julie will speak at the building blocks sessions, along with other downtown housing experts Jim Kolva, Sali Combelic and Brian Royer.

Spokane Building Blocks' sessions have been held each month since February and are co-sponsored by Mayor Jim West and the City Council. The Spokane Planning Services Department produces the sessions, which are designed to educate the public on issues relating to growth and development. The sessions are recorded and aired on CityCable 5 at 11 am on Tuesdays and 6:30 pm on Sundays.

Publication date: 07/22/04

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