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Mary Beth Breckenridge, previously the homes writer for the Akron Beacon Journal and now sales associate for Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, said that her good friend and former colleague, consumer columnist Betty Lin Fisher, wrote a column in today's paper that is definitely worth checking out if you're in the process of buying a home. Apparently, there's a national scam in which buyers' email accounts get hacked, resulting in the scammers having access to the details of their transactions. Mary Beth says that if you receive an email instructing you to change where you are to wire funds, don't do anything without first checking with your agent or the title company representative. Otherwise, you could lose a lot of money.

On a more uplifting note, Howard Hanna is hosting Hometown Heroes Appreciation Day on Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon and again on Feb. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. The agency is inviting military personnel and first responders to stop by the parking lot of the Akron office, 2603 W. Market St., on either day for free treats. It's Howard Hanna's way of saying thank you to these individuals who put their lives on the line for everyone's benefit. The agency also thanks them by providing discounts on mortgage services. For more information, visit the Howard Hanna website. You can reach Mary Beth at 440.263.1670 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chris Stranahan, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited on Howe Avenue, talked about the worldwide Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place next weekend, Feb. 16-19, in backyards, parks, nature centers and anywhere else birds are found. If you want to be one of the thousands and thousands of enthusiasts who participate every year, you can spend as little as 15 minutes over four days logging the different birds you see. If you're unsure how to identify the birds, Chris invites you to visit his store, located in the Staples plaza at 597 Howe Ave., at 10 a.m. next Saturday for a free how-to seminar on the bird count. While you're there, you can get 20 percent off birdseed, and you can buy The Joys of Backyard Bird Feeding for $16 instead of the cover price of $28. Quite a discount on this informative book that's filled with lots of great color photos. For more information, call 330.922.4990 or visit the Wild Birds Unlimited website.

Dave Megge, director of kitchen and bath programs for Carter Lumber, talked about some of today's kitchen trends including the use of white Shaker cabinets; stone and brick accents that give character to the kitchen; and the industrial look (exposed duct work, for example), which is becoming more popular for the home. Dave will be presenting on "How to Design and Build Your Dream Home" at the Akron Home & Flower Show, Feb. 23-25, at the John S. Knight Center. For times and other information about the show, visit the Home & Flower Show website. For information about Carter Lumber's showrooms, visit the company's website.

WAKR-1590 and Cleveland Clinic Akron General are hosting a Valentine's Day luncheon for seniors on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at  St. George Fellowship Hall, 3204 Ridgewood Rd. Akron General cardiologist Zenab Laiq, MD, will speak about heart health, and there will be entertainment by Helen Welch along with more than 40 vendors who will provide gifts and information for seniors. Tickets are $14 each and are available by mailing a check and self-addressed stamped envelope to WAKR Studios, 1795 W. Market St., Akron 44313. Or you can get tickets through Barberton Active Seniors.

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