Deadline to apply for energy audit incentive financing grants is today Goshen - The Orange County Planning Department, with the approval of the DOE, Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana, and the County Legislature, has invited municipalities and school districts to apply for an energy audit grant, through a program awarded to Orange County last year under the American Resource and Recovery Act. The short application is available online at www.orangecountygov.com/planning, and must be received in the Orange County Planning Department by 5 p.m. today, Friday, Dec. 3. Background on the DOE Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program and ARRA compliance can be viewed online at http://www.energy.gov/recovery/ and http://www.energy.gov/recovery/ARRA_Reporting_Requirements.htm. For additional assistance, local electric utility companies serving Orange County are also offering incentives to municipalities and school districts who pay the systems benefits charge on their monthly bills. For more information on the available utility incentives, visit www.sustainableorangecounty.org, and click on “Municipal Incentives.” State gift card legislation enhances consumer protections New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli recently reminded consumers to spend the gift cards they received last holiday season and to ask appropriate questions when purchasing new gift cards. Many but not all gift card sellers have eliminated fees and expiration dates, DiNapoli said. The Federal Credit Card Act of 2009 included provisions for gift cards that became effective Aug. 22, and applies to cards sold after that date. Under the Act, many types of retail cards are prohibited from charging inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months. All terms and conditions for a card must be disclosed directly on the card. Additionally, gift cards may not expire for at least five years after purchase. Beginning Jan. 1, New York will require companies offering rebates to disclose whether those rebates will be issued in the form of a gift card, and whether any fees will apply to those cards. Rebate cards are not covered by the same rules as regular gift cards, so this disclosure will help consumers identify the different cards and how they can be used. Gift cards may still have terms and conditions that can decrease the value of the gift card. These include charging: a service fee when the card is purchased; a dormancy fee if the gift card is not used within a certain period of time; a fee to call and check the balance remaining on the card; and a replacement fee for lost or stolen gift cards. The bar code number and proof of purchase are needed to replace cards. DiNapoli reminded consumers that gift cards may expire, and if an item costs more than the value of a card, consumers may not be able to split payment between the card and another method of payment. Gift card sellers now issue gift cards for returned merchandise or refund; those cards can be used the same way as gift cards. Unused gift card values issued by New York corporations are required to be turned over to the Comptroller’s office as abandoned property after five years of dormancy. Visit www.osc.state.ny.us for more information. Synagogue to celebrate young leadership at community brunch on Dec. 12 Monroe On Sunday, Dec. 12, at 12:30 p.m., Congregation Eitz Chaim will celebrate the next generation of leaders in the community with a champagne brunch. The Orange County Jewish community feels it is blessed with enthusiastic and dedicated young leaders who are fully committed to making our world and community a better place. Join them as these young leaders are honored, and have an opportunity to make a commitment to the 2011 Jewish Federation Annual Campaign. In addition to good food and company, featured guest speaker, Sophie Ambrose, from Omaha, Neb., will speak about her Birthright Israel trip. Eitz Chaim is located at 1465 Orange Turnpike, in Monroe. Dietary laws are observed. Three new associates join Prudential Serls Prime Properties Monroe - Susan Walski, Terry Ford and Lucille Cimorelli have recently joined the sales team at Prudential Serls Prime Properties in the Monroe office. Walski, a licensed associate broker, joins the company with over seven years of experience in the industry. She is certified in the short sales and foreclosure business. She lives in Washingtonville with her husband and two children. Ford, a licensed associate broker, joins the company with over 20 years of real estate experience. She is experienced in new construction and development; residential sales and rentals, and commercial buildings and income properties. She lives in Harriman with her husband. Cimorelli, a New York State licensed real estate salesperson, joins the company with several years of real estate experience. She lives in Blooming Grove with her husband, Joe. For more information, log on to www.prudentialserls.com. Fund raiser held for Alzheimer’s Association Monroe Recently the audience at Planet Pizza’s party room in Monroe was treated to three hours of live music for a donation of $5 to the Alzheimer’s Association. Acts who donated their time and talent were: Joe and Gabriele Tranchina, Margie and Dave, Marji Zintz, Sandy and Zoe Bandes, the Gabe Valle/Carl Storckman Duet, Obi Kaye and Melinda Burgard. Also on hand to help out was the National Honor Society from Tuxedo High School who not only donated their time, but also made a monetary contribution to the cause. According to host Melinda Burgard, “Since November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I decided to raise both awareness and funds in order to expand Orange County’s Socialization Programs. These programs are designed for those with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers. This special program offers Music Therapy ... Music can act as a powerful bridge for communication between a caregiver and their loved one.” Donations are always welcomed. Mail them to: Alzheimer’s Association, 384 Crystal Run Road, Middletown NY 10941. SUNY Orange gets new technology center Middletown SUNY Orange President Dr. William Richards directed the recent dedication of the college’s new Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology, located in the Bio-Tech Building on SUNY Orange’s Middletown campus. The center will unite the collaborative efforts of not-for-profit organizations, businesses and others to improve the lives of citizens with disabilities in the Hudson Valley. For those with disabilities, assistive technology products enable them to accomplish daily living tasks; improve communication, education, work or recreation activities; and enhance their quality of life. The college has partnered with agencies such as Inspire, Independent Living Inc., Orange County Office of the Aging and a handful of school districts.