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DOT Implements Hostile Takeover Of Sheepshead Bay Road, Surprising Community Leaders

Traffic cones closed traffic on East 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

Traffic cones closed traffic on East 15th Street between Sheepshead Bay Road and Avenue Z. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

Community leaders say they were blindsided this week when the Department of Transportation (DOT) moved forward on a controversial plan to transform part of Sheepshead Bay Road into a Times Square-style pedestrian plaza.

The agency sprung the project on the community Sunday, haphazardly sprinkling orange traffic cones around East 15th Street and Jerome Slip to close the streets to traffic. The B36 bus stop was also moved to Avenue Z and a section of Sheepshead Bay Road, between East 15th Street and Jerome Avenue, was made into a one-way.

The plan, part of the mayor’s Vision Zero campaign, was introduced to the community board last year. However, many assumed the project was dead after board members voted it down.

But last month, DOT announced they were reviving the proposal, partly because a pedestrian was struck and killed by an MTA bus in December. However, Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo said the board was given no notice the plan would be implemented Sunday.

“We received no direct correspondence from DOT about when the work would begin or when it would be completed,” she said.

The MTA posted a sign informing commuters the B36 bus stop has been moved to Avenue Z. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

The MTA posted a sign informing commuters the B36 bus stop has been moved to Avenue Z. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

The community board did receive an email April 4 from DOT that the plan would be implemented at the end of the month, but there were no details about what date the project would begin or what the changes would look like, Scavo explained

“They should have given us another presentation. All we received was: ‘It’s being done, goodbye,’ she said.

The plan also calls for creating a taxi stand a block away from the subway station, putting pedestrian islands where Sheepshead Bay Road meets Jerome Avenue and East 14th Street, and adding crosswalks throughout the roadway. A DOT spokesperson said the agency had no timeline for when it would follow through on the rest of the proposal.

sheepshead bay road

Instead, commuters coming out the subway station glared at the sign posted at the old bus stop for the B36 bus — informing them it had been moved to Avenue Z. Cars swerved around the traffic cones littering the roadway. To some, the move felt more like a hostile takeover considering it was such a huge change for one of the community’s major roadways.

Traffic cones at the intersection with Jerome Avenue prevent cars from heading west on Sheepshead Bay Road. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bay Road)

Traffic cones at the intersection with Jerome Avenue prevent cars from heading west on Sheepshead Bay Road. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bay Road)

Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group, said he found out the project was underway at a Bayfest planning meeting on Tuesday.

“Everyone feels like we’ve been ambushed,” he said. “What’s the rush? This is going to have a tremendous impact on our community, on our visitors, on our shoppers, on our businesses, and on our commuters.”

Scavo said DOT should have made more of an effort to communicate with the neighborhood after they announced the plan was moving forward.

“They should have come to the community board again, made a presentation, and listened to the community. I don’t think they were exactly following procedure that’s been established,” she said.

New street signs were installed on Sheepshead Bay Road. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

New street signs were installed on Sheepshead Bay Road. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

A DOT representative is expected to speak next week at the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association. However, the group’s co-president, Cliff Bruckenstein, said it was odd his group was selected for the presentation considering Manhattan Beach Community President Judy Baron had been hounding the agency to visit her group;

“They don’t want to make a big showing. So since my community group is the smallest one at the moment, I believe they’re coming to me,” he said.

Bruckenstein said he was also caught off guard when DOT rolled out the project this week.

The Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association will meet Tuesday, May 3, at 7:45pm in the at Waterford on the Bay, 2900 Bragg Street, near the corner of Emmons Avenue.

Neighbors are encouraged to attend and ask questions about the traffic changes.

“We’re going to have many, many questions,” Bruckenstein said.

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A look into the new Charlotte Observer offices

People are taking their desk lamps home.

One reporter was spotted wearing shades, indoors.

Others brought in binoculars, even a telescope.

Yes, there is just that much glass and sunlight inside the new Uptown headquarters of the Charlotte Observer.

In case you missed it, we completed our move last week, our first in 89 years. Our new address is 550 S. Caldwell St., a mere three blocks south of our former address at 600 S. Tryon.

But the setting is another world, all together. Our old place (the current building went up in 1971) was a massive factory with offices wrapped around and over it. The building and its outcroppings sprawled for more than a city block, housing huge presses, loading docks and enough underground storage for thousands of tons of newsprint, ink and lead.

Thanks to technology, we now produce and distribute our printed newspapers from a modern press facility inside an industrial park in University City. We also need fewer newspapers, since three times more people now read us in a digital format (3 million monthly) than in print.

So, as much as we cherish the memories inside our block-shaped building on Tryon, we’ve been overdue for a new environment that matches our growing digital reality. Most now experience us on a phone, tablet or desktop. Our greatest assets for the future are talented people, computers and software. And all fit nicely on three floors of a modern office tower in NASCAR Plaza.

We’re on floors 10, 11 and 12, occupying 68,500 square feet. But we’re also all over the community. Reporters, visual journalists and ad executives fan out across the region each day, working among you. They may or may not return to our new headquarters, now that they can send stories, videos and advertising orders remotely, using phones and iPads.

But inside the tower? It’s a very nice space.

Let’s start on Floor 10. The elevators open within our new lobby. You’ll find Cherri Foster there during business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.), weekdays. She knows how to find everyone else. Last week, Foster still sat among construction workers because this floor needed the most renovation to fit our needs.

Floor 10 will feature three conference rooms, a training room and a meeting room with seating for 75 that we call The Outlook. Here you get the stunning effect of floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap the entire building. This room offers a spectacular view of the city’s skyline. The sensation is about as close as you can get to being outdoors while still inside a building.

Floor 10 also has offices for Publisher Ann Caulkins, our divisions for Finance, Audience and Human Resources, Technology Support and the regional operations of the Associated Press.

The space is “just what we wanted and needed,” Caulkins says. “It is set up for the way we do business in the digital world. We made a large investment in the technology. Our new offices fit the needs of the media company we are today.”

Next stop, Floor 11. Here you find our Advertising division, as well as offices for our magazines: Lake Norman, South Park and Carolina Bride. Our vice president for advertising, Kelly Mirt, says his staff is thrilled to be in a new setting with both creative spaces and state-of-the-art technology.

That includes wide-screen monitors in every meeting room that toggle easily between presentations and live Google hangouts.

“It’s such a creative environment,” Mirt says. “Our people are in these fresh spaces, brainstorming and collaborating.”

Donna Robinson joined the Observer’s advertising division in 1981 when the former building was only 10 years old. Miss the old building? Sure, she said. But it was time for a change, and this is better.

“We came in here, and it is like starting all over again,” Robinson said.

On to the 12th floor, inside the newsroom. It’s not the top of the building (there are 20 floors), but plenty high enough to see much of this region.

To the west, low-rise apartments in South End. Jets taking off and landing at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Carowinds. Crowders, Spencer and Kings mountains. To the south, Cotswold, SouthPark. To the east, Elizabeth, Independence Boulevard. To the north, Charlotte’s spreading skyscrapers.

Kevin Siers, our Pulitzer-Prize-winning editorial columnist, works in a corner that lets him to scan the city’s skyline. He marvels at his natural light, and then some.

“I started out drawing for newspapers in the basement of the journalism school in Minneapolis,” Siers said, “and I often called my (former) Charlotte Observer office my cave, with the narrow gun slits for windows, and dark walls. Now I feel like I’m up in the sky, more of a falcon’s nest, where I can look out my window over to the Government Center, ready to pounce on my prey.”

Inside, reporters are adding personal touches to cubicles. It’s the sort of stuff that amuses visitors to every newsroom: Checkered race flags, a dancing chicken, postcards, bumper stickers, crime scene tape. Reporter Mark Price tacked up a sign from our old lobby: “Escalator out of service. Please use the elevators or the stairs.”

Our food writer, Kathleen Purvis, was inspired to set up a telescope her son wasn’t using at home. It’s in position to magnify the giant video screen now visible inside Bank of America Stadium.

“We’re watching the planes go by,” Purvis said. She grins.“We hear there is a rooftop pool going in next door.”

But the biggest show on this floor is a newly installed “media wall” facing the news desk, the newsroom’s nerve center. This is our window to the rest of the world. Twelve 60-inch monitors aid our own reporting by providing 24-hour access to broadcasts, websites and social media.

That’s never been more important as we transition to a new era of journalism. We’re still committed to the in-depth reporting you rely on. But the Observer’s deadline once was a fixed point in the night. Now, it’s minute by minute. You need to understand news as it happens, through videos, live feeds and continuous updates. Our new workplace positions us to deliver on that, too.

Not that it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to our former building. Generations of Observer employees toiled endlessly there so all of us could grasp the perils of Brown Lung, the birth of the city’s professional sports, the scandal that was PTL, and the deceit that fueled our nation’s foreclosure crisis.

Their good works endure. And we aspire to add to them in this next chapter.

Reach Rick Thames at, on Twitter @rthames, on Facebook (/rthames.obs), 704-358-5001.

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Disbarred Naperville lawyer gets prison in $725000 mortgage scam

A disbarred Naperville attorney was given a 4.9-year federal prison term Wednesday for her part in a mortgage scam that bilked lenders out of more than $725,000.

Avalon E. Betts-Gaston, 47, previously of Chicago, Country Club Hills and Matteson, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Chicago on two counts of wire fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Betts-Gaston conducted the scheme with associate Dmona Ross from an office in the 9900 block of South Ridgeland Avenue in Chicago Ridge, authorities said.

Betts-Gaston and Ross founded IJCN Investments and claimed to help distressed homeowners refinance their home loans to avoid foreclosure, the release said. The women “arranged for the submission of materially false information on mortgage loan documents in four Cook County real estate transactions worth more than $725,000,” the release said.

Woman had $1,600 in fake travelers checks at Naperville Costco: police

Woman had $1,600 in fake travelers checks at Naperville Costco: police

A south suburban woman was charged with possessing forged documents after Naperville police said they found her at a warehouse club with $1,600 worth of allegedly counterfeited travelers checks.

Kadeejah E. Fourte, 19, of the 14500 block of Des Plaines Street in Harvey, who was also charged with…

A south suburban woman was charged with possessing forged documents after Naperville police said they found her at a warehouse club with $1,600 worth of allegedly counterfeited travelers checks.

Kadeejah E. Fourte, 19, of the 14500 block of Des Plaines Street in Harvey, who was also charged with…

(Bill Bird)

Ross was a licensed real estate loan officer, while Betts-Gaston had been a lawyer for more than a decade, the release said. IJCN was dissolved in 2008, and Betts-Gaston was disbarred in 2012.

Judge Charles R. Norgle, who sentenced Betts-Gaston to prison, also ordered her to pay $239,550 in restitution.

“This case demonstrates a sophisticated scheme to take advantage of the trust that mortgage lenders placed in the loan applications they received, and the trust that the homeowners placed in (Betts-Gaston,)” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Chahn Lee said in a government sentencing memorandum. “The homeowners believed that she was there to help them, and instead she put their homes and equity at risk.”

Ross, whose age and home town were not included in the release, has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is to be sentenced May 11.

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Troubled homeowners can avoid foreclosure with new mortgage modification program

MORE-THAN-40-YEARS-CharleneTroubled homeowners can avoid foreclosure with new mortgage modification program

By Charlene Crowell

Since 2004 approximately eight million homes have been lost to foreclosure, according to CoreLogic, a national mortgage data firm. Although the number of homeowners entering foreclosure has fallen dramatically since the height of the crisis, 434,000 homeowners remained in some stage of foreclosure in February.

Serious mortgage delinquency, a key indicator of future foreclosures still affects one million home loans, despite having dropped to a national average rate of 3.2 percent. In some states and metro areas, mortgage delinquencies are more than double that of the national average.

Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York are all states with serious mortgage delinquencies – 90 days or more in arrears – of at least 5.0 per-cent or higher. Similarly, some of the nation’s largest metro areas — including Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York City – have serious delinquency rates ranging much higher than the national average or the cited states. In the Miami metro area alone, serious delinquency is 6.9 percent.

On April 14 and in an effort to help troubled homeowners keep their homes, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a one-time, limited offer.

The Principal Reduction Modification program is designed to help homeowners who are 90 days delinquent or more and owe more than their homes are now worth, often referred to as being “underwater”. FHFA estimates that 33,000 homeowners will be eligible for the program.

“The national housing market has significantly improved in recent years but there are still areas of the country where home values have not recovered and negative equity remains a real problem,” said FHFA Director Melvin L. Watt. “This plan will no doubt be viewed by some as too small and too late and viewed by others as too large and unnecessary.

However, the plan is consistent with FHFA’s statutory obligation to ‘maximize assistance for homeowners’ by providing some borrowers what could well be their final opportunity to avoid foreclosure,” added Watt.

To be eligible for this limited program, mortgage borrowers must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Have a home that is owner-occupied with a first-lien mortgage that is owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac;
  2. Be delinquent by 90-days or longer as of March 1, 2016;
  3. Owe an outstanding balance of $250,000 or less; and
  4. Owe at least 115 percent or more of the home’s value.

Borrowers meeting all criteria and successfully completing three timely trial payments and returning completed final modification documents, will then be eligible for a loan modification that will:

  • Reduce the loan’s interest rate;
  • Extend its term up to 40 years; and
  • Receive partial loan forgiveness.

“Despite improvements in the overall housing market, there are still many homeowners who continue to face hardship in making their mortgage loan payments, and are deeply underwater on their home loans,” said Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending. ”These conditions are concentrated among homeowners with modest homes and located in low and moderate income neighborhoods.  Families and communities of color are particularly facing these hardships.”

FHFA advises that borrowers who may have questions about the program should contact their servicers, the firms to which mortgage payments are sent. Servicers have until the end of 2016 to reach borrowers who are potentially eligible for this modification program.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Black homeownership as of the end of last year was the lowest of all races and ethnicities at only 41.9 percent while more 72 percent of Whites owned their homes. Prior research and analysis also showed that consumers of color were often targeted for high-cost, unsustainable loans when many actually qualified for lower-cost loans.

“Homeowners, communities and taxpayers will all benefit from FHFA’s new program,” concluded Calhoun.

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Bea Gaddy Family Center needs thousands of dollars to avoid foreclosure

The attorney for the company foreclosing on a property owned by the Bea Gaddy Family Center said this week that he is working with the center’s director to keep it open.

Bill Chase, an attorney representing U.S. Liens, which bought a lien against the property at 424 N. Duncan Street at tax sale last May, said the center needs to pay $1,423.77, plus about $2,000 in legal fees, to end the foreclosure proceedings.

He said he has been in touch with the center’s director, Cynthia Brooks.

The center is named for a woman who became known for providing food for the needy. It was established in 1981 after Gaddy fed 49 of her neighbors a Thanksgiving Day dinner with $250 in lottery winnings.

Howard Libit, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings-Blake, said the lien was sold at tax sale because of an overdue water bill.

The building at 424 N. Duncan Street is where the center shelters homeless women and children; a separate location, at 425 N. Chester St., is home to its food pantry.

The Chester Street building also faces an active foreclosure case; city officials previously said it also was referred for tax sale because of an unpaid water bill. The status of that case was unknown, an attorney representing the company that bought the lien did not respond to a request for comment. Court records show the Bea Gaddy center must pay $2,251.92 by June 3 to pay off the liens and avoid that foreclosure.

The center is fundraising to cover its costs on the Go Fund Me website: Through Thursday afternoon, donors had pledged more than $2,500 toward a $9,000 goal.

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Now State-wide Program Helps Qualified Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

ROSEBURG, Ore. — The Oregon Loan Refinance Assistance Pilot Program, or LRAPP, will be closing on a new loan for their first qualified homeowner in Douglas County.

Now a state-wide program, LRAPP helps homeowners that are underwater, or owe more than their home is worth, by using a revolving fund of $12 million to buy homes, relieving the owners of the debt they’ve accrued.

They then sell the home back to the owner on a 30 year mortgage, keeping owners in their homes.

There are other options for homeowners though, like mortgage modification to make the payments more affordable.

Before LRAPP, if the owner’s mortgage couldn’t be modified, really the only other options were a short sell or foreclosure, forcing the owners to sell their homes.

Companies like NeighborWorks Umpqua offer assistance to homeowners by discussing what they can do to help them out of their current situation.

If LRAPP is the best option, they’ll help you apply.

NeighborWorks Umpqua offers many other home and life services as well.

With LRAPP, qualified homeowners get the loan from the state, then pay it back to the revolving fund so it can be used again.

The program has helped 210 homeowners to date.

Homeowners who may qualify for LRAPP include:

- Homeowners with significant negative equity in their homes;

- Homeowners who may be behind on their mortgage payments;

- Homeowners who could afford their mortgage at the amount their home is currently worth; and

- Homeowners whose incomes are at or below 150 percent of the state’s median income

A qualification quiz is available on their website.

LRAPP applications open up every two weeks, and the next round begins on May 4th.

You can contact NeighborWorks Umpqua (541-673-4909), Linda Tipton with RE/MAX in Roseburg 541-647-1518) for more information, even if you’re not from the Douglas County area.

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Greendale Mall faces foreclosure

Posted Apr. 28, 2016 at 12:36 PM
Updated at 10:35 PM

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Ocwen responds to National Mortgage Settlement foreclosure holds

Early Thursday morning, Joseph Smith, the monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, announced that Ocwen Financial was not in compliance with one of the performance metrics of the National Mortgage Settlement and prohibited the nonbank from taking foreclosure actions on more than 17,000 loans.

According to Smith’s office, Ocwen “was delayed” in implementing its Corrective Action Plan for the failure of Metric 31, which relates to the mortgage servicer sending a loan denial motivation to a borrower, because of “difficulties in resolving the technical issues that led to the original fail.”

Smith’s office said that because of those issues Ocwen must place 17,496 loans that “could have been affected” by this issue on foreclosure hold.

“While Ocwen has made progress toward correcting a number of past fails, it has not resolved its issues that led to its failure of Metric 31,” Smith said. “Therefore, I will not allow Ocwen to move forward with foreclosures on any borrowers who could have been affected by this failure until each of these borrowers has correct information and a chance to appeal.”

In a lengthy response published Thursday afternoon, Ocwen responded to Smith’s office and the nature of the sanctions that Smith’s office placed on it.

Ocwen notes that the issue at hand originally occurred in the third quarter of 2014.

“Ocwen takes borrower harm very seriously and worked with Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight to place certain loans on a hold to ensure that no foreclosure sale would take place until OMSO reviewed and validated that all matters associated with Metric 31 were resolved,” the company said in a statement.

“The Monitor’s report today further noted it has approved the corrective action plan for Metric 31, and that Ocwen reported completing all implementation of that plan as of March 8, 2016,” Ocwen continued.

“These holds are not ‘frozen foreclosures’ but rather an agreement not to foreclose until OMSO reviewed and approved Ocwen’s remediation,” Ocwen continued. “Many of these loans have never been referred to foreclosure and never will be. The Company has already resumed internal testing of Metric 31, and expects future OMSO reports will reflect that its concerns are resolved.”

According to Ocwen, it referred over 19,000 loans to foreclosure and completed approximately 7,000 foreclosures in the first quarter of 2016, while completing more than 16,600 loan modifications.

Ocwen also noted Smith’s office stated that the company passed all the metrics that were tested in the first and second quarters of 2015, and said that that the company has implemented the “appropriate actions” to be compliant with obligations under the NMS.

“Ocwen is pleased that the Monitor’s report determined that we have passed all tested metrics in the first and second quarters of 2015,” Ocwen’s president and CEO, Ron Faris, said.

Ocwen also noted that Smith’s office stated that it has fulfills its consumer relief obligation under the NMS, by providing more than $2 billion in consumer relief.

“The Monitor’s latest Consumer Relief Report is another positive step for Ocwen, and confirms our commitment to providing real solutions to struggling homeowners,” Faris said.

“Our work with distressed borrowers will not end just because we have exceeded our NMS obligations,” Faris continued. “Families across the country are still being impacted by the financial crisis. Ocwen will continue to work with our customers, especially those facing foreclosure, to find loan modification programs, including principal reduction programs, to help them better afford and remain in their homes.”  

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Police report: UFO sighting, ‘finger gun’ threat, stolen fragrances

• An Inver Grove Heights man “pointed with a finger gun” while threatening to shoot employees at Foot and Ankle Clinics, located in the 500 block of Bielenberg Drive. He came to the clinic wearing a blaze orange construction outfit, after not getting his desired results from the billing department, according to Woodbury Public Safety’s initial complaint report. After arguing with staff, a doctor asked the customer to leave and he is no longer welcome at the clinic. The call came to police at 1:19 p.m. March 23.

• Five Woodbury residents in three cars were involved in an accident that caused injuries at 3:20 p.m. March 23 at Lake and Ojibway Park roads. Slippery conditions and snow on the road contributed to the crash. One driver lost control of his Honda Odyssey and struck a Mitsubishi Eclipse head on, injuring both drivers. One was transported to the hospital. The cars were thoroughly damage and towed. They slid into a Ford Escape, which was stopped at a stop sign and suffered minor damage to the driver’s side of the front bumper.

• At 9:03 a.m. March 24, near the intersection of Radio and Tower drives, a 911 caller reported seeing a coyote walking on the sidewalk and then toward a pond. Police, unable to locate the animal, advised the resident to call back if he sees the coyote again.

• Two girls were cited for possession of a small amount of marijuana during an incident that occurred at 10:40 p.m. March 24, near the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Currell Boulevard. They both admitted to smoking the drugs after police saw them in Tamarack Nature Preserve after hours and a community service officer smelled marijuana and found 2.55 grams during a search of their car.

• At 11:44 p.m. March 24, police stopped a vehicle near the intersection of interstates 94 and 494 because its owners was listed as having an active warrant. The driver, the owner’s brother from Minneapolis, was arrested for driving after revocation and an uninsured vehicle. The driver was found to have a small amount of marijuana in his pocket and also admitted to having firearms in the vehicle. Police located a .22-caliber pistol in the center console and a 9mm handgun and AK-47 in cases in the trunk. St. Paul police are familiar with the driver, and Woodbury officers attempted to search the St. Paul home of the man’s girlfriend. St. Paul police believe the man has a large cache of weapons at the house.

• Unregistered people were using three rooms at the Red Roof Inn at 2:16 a.m. March 25. Police reported suspicious activity—including smokers outside of two rooms and beer cans in the open window of another unrented room—to the crime-free multi-housing program.

• At 8:09 a.m. March 26, police were called to a possible burglary at a vacant home in foreclosure along Cochrane Drive. The garage door appeared to have been pried open, the 911 caller said, but police believed the door was propped open for ventilation purposes. It was not open enough for anyone to get in, according to the initial complaint report. Police contacted the bank, and neighbors offered to keep an eye on the house for any other suspicious activity.

• After running a red light at 2:46 p.m. March 26, near the intersection of Woodlane Drive and Lake Road, two Woodbury residents received citations for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Officers found 2.3 grams of drugs in the vehicle and 2 grams and drug paraphernalia on the passenger’s person. The tabs on the blue Chevy Impala were expired, and the driver’s driver’s license had expired.

• Police were called at 11:47 p.m. March 27 to the 7000 block of Robinwood Trail for a report of an unknown object in the sky. The 911 caller said it was a bright light, not a star, way up there, according to the initial complaint report. The complainant told police it was white and it seemed to move in an irregular pattern, lower than a plane but higher than a kite or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The light didn’t appear to be a danger to anything or anyone, so the officer took the report as information only.

• At 7:25 a.m. March 28, near the intersection of Bailey Road and Pioneer Drive, a Lakeland man was cited for failure to stop at a red semaphore after his vehicle crashed with a car passing through a green light. Woodbury emergency medical technicians evaluated the other driver for injuries.

• At 3:43 p.m. March 28, at Ulta, $1,043 of women’s and men’s fragrances were stolen by a thief who’d been there before—on March 9 and March 18. A white female thief was captured on video. The suspect has auburn hair and is 5-foot-2, with a thin build. She was wearing a red stocking cap, black jacket, gray hoodie, tennis shoes, and blue jeans with either gems or stripes along the seams.

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Laid-Off Oil Workers Struggle to Pay Loans, Credit Cards

The slump in crude prices is starting to show up as missed payments by consumers in the oil patch.

In states from Oklahoma and Texas to North Dakota and Wyoming, rising unemployment in the energy sector is pushing up loan delinquencies and raising the risk of new losses for banks.

Wells Fargo Co. this month reported an increase…

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