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U.S. News Archive
December 07 - December 13, 2001



This page contains news for the period December 07, 2001 through December 13, 2001.  

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Thursday, December 13, 2001

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Divorce does not mean everything is final

A story published today by the Washington Times reports that years after the American divorce revolution began, a veteran observer has arrived at an unusual conclusion: Divorce doesn't end most marriages.

Instead, couples enter the "aftermarriage," says longtime divorce lawyer Anita Wyzanski Robboy. Spouses often think they will "be free of each other" after the divorce, but the only two things it typically ends are the shared living quarters and the marital rights, says Mrs. Robboy.

"The duties and obligations of marriage continue," often until death, she says. Alimony, child support, college educations, health care, properties, businesses, pensions, family reunions, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and funerals are just some of the "thousand points of connection" that endure.

The only couples who escape an aftermarriage are those who marry briefly, don't have children and don't "merge" their property or their lives. "All marriages with children and marriages of long duration have an aftermarriage," says Mrs. Robboy, who has seen thousands of divorces during her 27 years practicing family law at Schnader Harrison Goldstein & Manello in Boston.

Divorce essentially rearranges the place of the other spouse in daily life, and a day in court brings a temporary settlement of affairs, "not a day of judgment," she said. Many divorce trials "have a very active afterlife."

Federal data show that divorce was relatively rare in the United States from 1940 until 1966, with two to 2.5 divorces for every 1,000 people. The only time divorce rates spiked was right after World War II. After 1966, however, divorce grew steadily, peaking in 1981, when 1.2 million couples divorced and the divorce rate reached 5.3 per 1,000 population. In the past 20 years, divorce has declined gradually, and as of 1998, the rate has fallen to 4.2 per 1,000 population. Still, more than 1 million divorces are recorded a year, a statistic that hasn't changed much for the past 25 years. In a soon-to-be-released book, researcher E. Mavis Hetherington also talks about misconceptions associated with the "post-divorce" years. "Traditionally, marital failure has been viewed as a single event, one that produces temporarily intense but limited effects," she writes in "For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered," co-authored by John Kelly.

"Twenty years after divorce, most men and women are coping reasonably well with their new situations. Divorce is a shadowy memory and one largely irrelevant to their current lives," she writes.

But both Mrs. Robboy and Mrs. Hetherington agree that the unfinished business of a first marriage brings peril to a second marriage. About 60 percent of second marriages fail, most often "during the tumultuous early years of stepfamily life," writes Mrs. Hetherington, adding that it takes five to seven years for tensions in a stepfamily to subside to the stress level of a couple in their first marriage.


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Bad marriages can hurt kids in the long run

A story published today by the USA Today reports that couples who keep a strained and rocky marriage together "for the sake of the kids" tend to raise children whose marriages are as miserable as the ones they grew up in, suggests a new 17-year study of two generations.

The findings provide strong evidence that marital unhappiness can be passed on to younger generations, marriage experts agree.

Penn State University sociologist Paul Amato, senior author of the study and co-author Alan Booth followed 297 married couples and one child from each family for 17 years. The researchers took into account key influences on marital happiness, such as income, education, age at first marriage and divorce history. Their research found:

* The more discord parents reported in their marriages, the more unhappily married their grown kids were.

* The key qualities in parents' marriages linked to later bad matches for their youngsters were: jealous or domineering behavior by spouses; quickness to anger; being critical or moody; and refusing to talk to one's spouse.

"If people in these marriages are staying together for the sake of the kids, they're not doing their kids any favor," Amato says.

Children raised by parents who quarrel bitterly or give each other "the silent treatment" may imitate these patterns in their own marriages, Amato speculates. Also, these kids don't learn how to resolve disputes with loved ones.

But most marriages go through bad patches, he adds. The findings don't suggest youngsters are better off if their parents split up rather than working through periodic hard times.

But many marriages that end in divorce aren't hostile, Amato adds. Three out of five divorcing couples are just bored by their partners, his research shows.

Splitting up apparently hurts adult kids, too. Compared with couples from intact homes, having one partner from a divorced family doubles the chance of an adult child's divorce, says psychologist Mavis Hetherington, University of Virginia professor emeritus and author of For Better or for Worse: Divorce Reconsidered. If both spouses are from divorced families, the risk is nearly three times greater.

Hetherington adds that none of this is written in stone, though. If a spouse has divorced parents but marries someone from an intact home who is well-adjusted and supportive, their divorce risk is no greater than that of couples whose parents weren't divorced.


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Seniors in Michigan are opting to live on their own

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that with Michigan's population graying and birthrate dropping, more seniors are opting to live on their own rather than move into retirement communities.

During the 1990s, their numbers rose in virtually every community in the Detroit area, including areas that lost population, such as Madison Heights, Beverly Hills and Wolverine Lake Village.

These seniors -- most of them women -- are a breed apart. Many had worked outside the home. They are not looking for a new mate, they mop up when the basement floods, and they string their own Christmas lights.

In Farmington, 20 percent of the residents are 65 or older, and 9 percent of them live alone. There is a network of mostly widows who play bridge, shop and dine together, manage their own investments, and as much as they can, look out for each other.

Single older women are also commonplace in St. Clair Shores, Center Line and Royal Oak Township, which, along with Farmington, have the highest concentrations of live-alone seniors in the Detroit area, census data shows.

In the parking lot of the Essco Shopping Center in Center Line, women with walkers cross the parking lot to get from the bank to the shops. Across the street, on the first level of the Center Line Park Towers, a foot doctor, a hearing aid supplier and hair salon serve the hundreds of older residents on the upper floors.

"None of us ever anticipated living out the rest of our lives in a building surrounded by old ladies," said 78-year-old Mary C. Karwowski, who lives in the 300-unit high-rise for senior citizens.

Karwowski moved into the building after the death of her husband 11 years ago. It was not what she had planned.

But Karwowski does not feel sorry for herself. She drives, plays golf during the summer, bakes and sings. And she is not without suitors.

"It can be, if you allow it, very depressing. Having a happy frame of mind is important," she said.


Wednesday, December 12, 2001

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Study reveals older men are outliving wives

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an increasing number of older men are outliving their wives.

The number of widowers 65 and older was nearly 2 million last year, an increase of more than 50 percent from 1.3 million in 1980. But widowers in that age group still are vastly outnumbered by widows -- 8.5 million in the 2000 census.

Some research suggests that elderly men may have more trouble coping with a spouse's death because they often are not prepared for it, and they are also less likely to confide in anyone about their grief because they fear showing signs of weakness, said John McIntosh, an Indiana University psychology professor.

At the same time, McIntosh and other experts also caution against drawing excessively broad conclusions from such findings. Regardless of gender, other factors such as the untimeliness of the death, the quality of the marriage and family support also influence how a survivor copes, said Rick Morycz, chief of geriatric services at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh.

``After a period of normal grief, about six months to a year, most people do successfully adapt and do fine,'' Morycz said. ``If you're widowed and you have poor health, or you don't have enough social support, those factors do more to directly affect self-esteem.''

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Local Pennsylvania group helps single parents

A story published today by the Sewickley Herald Star report that Sewickley , Pennsylvania resident Kate Connor knows first hand how difficult it can be to raise a child alone. "I used to feel so alone," Connor says, "like I was the only single parent in the world."

However, Connor has found a local companionship and support group in her area called SPARKS.

Renee Boyka, one of the founders of the group describes SPARKS as "an organization of single parents committed to addressing the unique challenges and concerns facing single parents through education, shared experience and single parent-friendly social activities for both parents and children."

Once a month the group features a renowned speaker who educates single parents on important and interesting skills, such as stress management, getting along with a child's other parent and how to keep a journal or scrapbook as a legacy for a child.

Since its inception, 55 community members like Connor have joined the organization and have actively participated in the group's events.

Connor, a member for three months, has found the meetings both informative and enjoyable. Most beneficial to her was last month's talk on getting along with her son's father.

"I actually learned a lot of things I was doing were wrong," she laughs.

Beyond the education, she has found a way to get out and meet people who are in the same situation. Just seeing all the faces at the meetings, realizing there are other single parents out there, has offered Connor comfort and hope.

"Sometimes," she says, "it is easier to open up and talk to people that you don't know, but who are in the same situation as yourself."

Boyka and co-founder Bernadette Dourlain were originally inspired to organize a group for single parents about one year ago when they learned about the Single Parent Association in Phoenix, Ariz.

After extensively studying various groups across the United States and Europe, the innovative pair designed SPARKS by combining their favorite aspects of several different programs.

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Social Security panel presents reform proposals

A story published today by the Washington Post reports that the presidential commission yesterday embraced three proposals that would allow workers to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market.

The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security acknowledged for the first time that such a profound change in the nation's retirement system would eventually cost at least $2 trillion, though it did not suggest how to pay for it. The panel also concluded that Social Security cannot be rescued from the financial precipice it will reach by the middle of the next decade without cutting benefits for retirees and disabled Americans, using money from elsewhere in the federal budget, or both.

One of the proposal embraced by the commission would let workers divert 2 percent of their payroll taxes into individual investments, but would otherwise leave the program unchanged. A second alternative would allow workers to invest more of their taxes, but would constrain benefits by changing the method to determine the size of retirees' checks when they first sign up -- adjusting them to keep pace with inflation, rather than wages, which traditionally have increased more rapidly.

Under the third plan, workers would be required to devote 1 percent of their own earnings to retirement accounts before they could invest 2.5 percent of their payroll taxes. This method would try to stabilize the program's finances through an infusion of general revenue, as well as through subtler adjustments in the size of benefits and incentives to work longer.

Republicans, Democrats and commissioners themselves said yesterday that any effort to translate the panel's ideas into legislative action will be deferred for at least a year, until after next fall's elections.

Opponents of individual investment accounts said the alternatives the commission has embraced essentially demonstrate that the stock market cannot, by itself, alleviate Social Security's impending financial crisis. "Privatization has no relevance to solving Social Security," said Rep. Robert T. Matsui (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee's Social Security subcommittee. "Privatization is a gimmick for some on Wall Street to feather their own nest."

Matsui and other key Democrats also criticized Bush and the panel for deferring the issue until after next year's campaign season -- and for avoiding a single proposal. "We know what the options are. I was kind of hoping to get a recommendation," said Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), chairman of the Senate special committee on aging.

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Enjoying the holidays

A column entitled "Single Tips" published today in the Philadelphia Daily News offers some suggestions for solo single for this holiday season. Dr. Neil Clark Warren, author of dating and relationship books and founder of eharmony.com an online relationship-building site offers these coping strategies:

* Focus on the positive things in your life and not what's missing. When you are in a spirit of appreciation, life takes on a brighter hue.

* Focus on the needs of others and make a genuine attempt to assist them. It is a fundamental psychological truth that when you assist other people, you feel better.

* Forget the past and move forward. Forgiveness liberates you from your past, while hopefulness maximizes your future.

* Spend time with people who love generously, listen carefully and take you seriously.


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Coordinating visitations can help children of divorced couples

A story published today by the Indianapolis Star reports that coordinating visitations among divorced couples can be tough in the best of situations, and the holidays often complicate things even more. Child development experts say that cooperation is the key to easing trauma and stress for children whose parents are divorced.

Even if former spouses or lovers have only disdain for each other, they must be mature about each other's desire for quality time with their children, said Charles Fay of the Love and Logic Institute, a Colorado parenting organization that offers seminars across the country.

When feuding exes withhold visitation from parents who aren't abusive or neglectful, children can react with depression, anxiety or anger, and may act out at home and in school.

"Because of the way children process the world around them, they blame themselves when there's conflict," said Fay, a school psychologist and the divorced father of an 8-year-old son."Ultimately, it's the kids who suffer."

Parents should work together to come up with a schedule that is fair to everyone, Fay said.

Both parties should keep written copies of that schedule to prevent memory lapses or misunderstandings. A day planner or calendar can help prevent confusion.

To work around extreme acrimony, some communities operate divorce exchange centers -- neutral sites where parents can hand off their children.

The Hamilton Centers Youth Service Bureau is asking for grant money to open such a facility in Noblesville, Indiana. The bureau hopes to open its Family Access Center next fall.

"Our goal is to keep children's wounds and scars to a minimum," said executive director Kelly Brian Kochell.


Tuesday, December 11, 2001

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Single life and sometimes a celibate life

A story published today by the Washington Times reports that more and more of America's 82 million singles seem to be opting for the non-paired life and at times, the celibate life.

"I've seen a great outpouring from women on this topic," says Elizabeth Abbott, a professor at McGill University and author of "A History of Celibacy". "A ton of women out there are celibate, and they are not that old, either. Or at least they stay that way for a few years to recuperate from a relationship. A lot of older women are like me — been there, done that, loved that, but there's other things they want to do."

"On radio talk shows, I've been surprised to get as many male callers as women. Women tend not to be as embarrassed to admit they are celibate. But men, even the young ones, phone up and talk about it. They found going from one person to another was exhausting and they didn't see the value in it."

Her book profiles Indian nationalist Mohandas Gandhi, who took a lifelong vow of celibacy in 1906 at the age of 37. It was to fulfill his longing to be "God's eunuch," a Christian concept that Gandhi, a Hindu, found attractive. Celibacy and virginity never will be a major trend, says Abbott, but it needs to be provided as more of a viable option.

"Most human beings like sex, and we are going to like it for large periods of our life. I certainly have," she says. "I just don't want to put up with the relationship. There is so much literal work in it. Egalitarian relationships between men and women are pretty rare, and many women just want to live independently."

Joan Allen, a Baltimore author who co-authored "Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right" with Dr. Marc Kusinitz, says the huge number of singles is like the proverbial elephant amidst society's living room.

"A lot of people think that being single is pathetic," she says. "I was reading in People magazine about Hollywood women — Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan — who are single. I saw Julia Roberts on late-night TV apologizing for being single. Well, if Julia Roberts says something like that, how does the average woman feel?

"What I find depressing is someone who stays in a dead-end relationship or a loveless marriage. That is what I find to be pathetic." Miss Allen, 49, who has never married, conducts "Celebrating Single" cooking classes for Fresh Fields stores up and down the East Coast. She would like to see what she calls "a new singletude." "I want to see the status of singles as being positive in this country," she says. "It is not the end of the world."


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Jacksonville leaders pushing for mandatory premarital counseling

A story published today by the Florida Times-Union reports that according to the Florida Office of Vital Statistics, in Florida’s Duval county, the divorce rate for 2000 was reported to be at 73 percent. That means for every 100 couples that married in Duval County, 73 couples divorced.

Some Jacksonville-area religious leaders and legislators want to help reduce the city's divorce rate by making premarital counseling mandatory.

They hope to implement what's called a community marriage policy, similar to those adopted in nearly 150 cities in the United States. Under such a policy, which is not legally binding, area pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, and even judges, would refuse to perform a wedding ceremony for a couple until that couple completed some predetermined amount of premarital counseling.

At a minimum, a couple participates in at least 20 hours of discussion with a priest or other counselors.

Plus, couples must complete a compatibility survey which touches on personalities, communication skills, problem solving, religion, values, parenting, extended families, sexuality and finance issues.

Of course, premarital counseling is not foolproof.

In the past 15 years, a nonprofit organization called Marriage Savers, based in Maryland, has helped set up 147 policies in 38 states. Marriage Savers holds regional conferences and produces materials to help groups develop policies and train mentor couples.

It's hard, however, to document the effectiveness of Marriage Savers, said Del Palmer, the organization's Southern regional director.

But most cities have seen their divorce rates drop by some margin after implementing a policy, he said.

For example, Modesto, Calif., adopted a policy 15 years ago and has since seen a 46 percent decrease in its divorce rate, Palmer said.

Ken Hurley, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Jacksonville, said he doesn't foresee any problems.

"I'm all in favor of counseling individuals prior to marriage," Hurley said. "It's more difficult to get a driver's license than a marriage license."

Palmer said it's impossible to get all clergy on board.

"You just try to get a representative group, you get as many as possible," he said. "The neat thing is that it is usually something all can agree on. They know divorce is a problem in their congregations and schools. It can really bring clergy together."

Monday, December 10, 2001

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Hiking trails to meet other singles

A story published today by the Arizona Republic reports that singles in Arizona have a new way of meeting other singles, hiking through one of the hiking trails in the Arizona mountains.

Leaders of active singles groups recommend five Valley mountains with social potential: Squaw Peak, Camelback Mountain, North Mountain, Shaw Butte and South Mountain. Single hikers flood the trails after work. They wear stylish hiking outfits, and some women sport a little eye shadow and lipstick. They hang around at the summit, eyeing each other, or gab in the parking lot, planning where to go for dinner or drinks. Most have stories about chatting with strangers on the mountain.

Squaw Peak and Camelback Mountain are known for a superathletic, flashy crowd, plus tourists. North Mountain and Shaw Butte are quieter paths with more locals. The first is paved and the second is a mostly gravel road. South Mountain is popular with bicyclists and horseback riders.

What are the key features of a good singles trail? It's a peak where people stop and chat before heading down, and the path should be narrow, says Bart Whitmore of the Take a Hike Club, a hiking group of mostly singles that meets in Tempe.

"The trail is often single-file, so people talk a bit easier - they don't feel the pressure," Whitmore says. "And they're doing something that is distracting."

Local paths attract a loyal group of hikers, says Michelle Vanevery of Outdoor Encounters, a group with about 80 members.

"If you hike Squaw Peak every day at 5, you see the same people over and over again," Vanevery says. "You say 'hi' at first, and then it becomes - you might as well hike together."

Regrettably, the trail may not always lead to romance.

For example, Liatt Bailey, 28, of Phoenix, spied an attractive hiker along the North Mountain trail, but silently watched her pass.

"What's the proper pickup line when you're sweating like a pig and out of breath?" Bailey asks.

And Jennifer Bodin, 30, of Mesa, says no one has ever given her a line during her hikes at Apache Junction's Wind Cave trail.

But hope thrives. As she ventures up Camelback's Cholla trail one recent day, Bodin is asked if she would like to find a potential date on the way.

"Sign me up," she says.

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Homeless shelters help out single moms

A story published today by the Enterprise reports that the statistics from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless indicate the number of homeless families in Massachusetts has doubled from 5,000 to 10,000 between 1990 and 1998. The booming economy caused rents to skyrocket and the lack of affordable housing contributed to the increase.

Kim Vincent, who's never been married, and her four children, Kahla, 12, Chellsey, 8, Myles, 3, and 20-month-old Tristan, live at the Conway House, a shelter in Middleboro.

Currently, there are 11 mothers and 19 children living in the 13-family shelter that was formerly a nursing home.

"In the last few years, the age of the homeless mother has become younger," said Pat Perry, site director at the Conway House. "When a mom comes here, she's already lived in a motel. They're usually there from two weeks to two months."

Vincent became homeless almost two years ago after having a disagreement with her landlord in Brockton, where she had been living for almost six years.

"I never realized how hard it would be to get an apartment," she said. "Nobody wants a single mom and four kids."

The number of shelter units for families funded by the state Department of Transitional Assistance has also grown from 728 to 968 in the last two years.

Even with the increase, there isn't adequate space to shelter all eligible families without homes, said Mary Doyle, executive director of Homes for Families, a state-wide, nonprofit advocacy group.

At some point during the year, more than 20,000 children in the state will be homeless.

Trying to blend each mother's parenting styles and family rules with the rules at the shelter is difficult, causes stress, strains relationships and can be confusing to the children, according to local experts.

At the Conway House, each mother is responsible for buying her own food and preparing her family's meals. There's no set schedule; it's first come, first served.

The mothers are also required to attend weekly Strategies for Success classes taught by a certified teacher through MainSpring Coalition for the Homeless.

In addition to basic educational skills, the leader teaches life skills, such as writing business letters and filling out paperwork involved in searching for an apartment.

There's also weekly Women's Issues meetings conducted by a certified therapist, where the mothers discuss everything from stress management to child rearing.

"They talk about all the things that impinge on a woman, who is raising her children alone," Perry said. "Sometimes it's a relief to find out that other mothers feel the same way you do. That can be a big stress reliever."

Once a week, an educator from the Plymouth County Extension Service conducts a class on nutrition, including cooking, healthy diets, shopping strategies and tips on getting kids to try new foods.

The women are also required to spend one hour a day, four days a week searching for an apartment.

Vincent has just qualified for Section 8 housing subsidy, said Perry, who calls Vincent an energetic go-getter. Clients on Section 8 never pay more than 40 percent of their income for rent and the government pays the difference within certain guidelines.

"There's a shortage of affordable housing, and even with a Section 8 it's difficult," said Perry.

Although Vincent isn't looking forward to Christmas, she's trying to make the best of it for her children. She's been reading "The Night Before Christmas" to her two little boys and they've watched "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" on TV.

Vincent says she has instilled in them the same values her mother instilled in her that money and possessions are not what's important in life.

"That's the best thing she ever gave me," she said.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

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Out of wedlock births slowly on the rise

A story released today by Cox News Service reports that according to the National Center for Health Statistics, births to unwed women nationwide have increased, especially in poor, rural areas.

In 1998, 33 percent of all births were to unwed mothers, up from 28 percent of all live births in the United States in 1990, according to the center.

With teenage pregnancy slowing, the numbers suggest a growing acceptance of out-of-wedlock pregnancy among adults.

The federal government reported this summer that the teen pregnancy rate hit an all-time low in 1997, the last year for which data were available.

The numbers are alarming, says University of Georgia demographer Douglas C. Bachtel, because they indicate a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break.

"When you have a high rate of births to unwed mothers in these poor areas, you are likely relegating these mothers and children to poverty," said Bachtel, who is working with the Black Belt Initiative, an effort to create a program to address rural poverty in the Southeast.

Children in many of the single-mother families, he said, have trouble in school and experience other social problems.

Decades ago, scarlet-letter stigmatization or shotgun weddings were common for single women who became pregnant. Now, having a child before marriage is seen as a lifestyle choice in many circles.

"Clearly there is much less stigma attached," said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Still, Sawhill said, problems with births outside wedlock remain.

In the Southeast, two of the poorest states - Mississippi and Louisiana - have the highest rates of out-of-wedlock births in the country.

In Georgia, impoverished counties such as Hancock, Stewart, Warren and Taliaferro top the list.

Georgia's Terrell County has a population of 10,970 and a per capita income of $23,292.

It also had the fifth-highest out-of-wedlock birth rate in the state in 1999.

Because of the limited job options and a "lack of morals," many young women in Terrell don't consider career and marriage as options for themselves, said Charlotte Law, nurse-manager of the Terrell County Health Department, about 30 miles northwest of Albany, Ga.

"When I came along, if you got pregnant you got married," Law said. "But these girls don't even think about marriage."


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Wisconsin’s Fox Valley area teeming with single people

A story published today by the Northwestern reports that recent census figures show that Wisconsin’s Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah area of the Fox Valley has about 56,000 single men. By contrast, the same region has about 62,000 single women.

The net combination means there are almost 120,000 single people in the Valley. The Census 2000 figures define a single person as someone 15 years or older who is in an unmarried state.

Of those thousands of singles, almost 73,000 have never married. Roughly 19,500 men and women are widowers or widows. About 26,500 have divorced and weren’t married during Census polling.

Although the figures don’t account for those who are minors and those who are adults, they illustrate that in the face of singles looking for friendship, a date or companionship, there are a lot of singles out there.

At The Bar, Ric Thompson is eating and drinking with friends at one of Oshkosh’’s largest singles bars.

At 23 years old, he is a former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student who likes his work as a carpenter and part-time bartender at The Bar.

Tonight he is a customer, laughing and talking with friends at a table over chicken baskets and fries. Back-ground music melds with people talking. He agrees to talk about his experiences of trying to find the "right one" and settle down. Some of his female friends tease him about being interviewed.

"I think girls have this perception that guys are out to play them and there’s not a whole lot of places to meet people," said Thompson. Although he has optimism about dating prospects in Oshkosh, he also understands how the city can be rough, "being single in Oshkosh, it’s definitely difficult."

However, bars aren’t the only places singles meet. A non-denominational group that involves more than 125 men and women held a dance on a recent Friday night at St. Raphael Catholic Church.

"I think a lot of singles are trying to get away from the bars. People want something to do," said Jeff LaPoint, a 49-year Oshkosh divorcee on the dance floor.

Friday, December 7, 2001

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Connecticut governor addresses the issue of children and divorce in his state

A story published today by the Republican-American reports that Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland has created a commission that will study how the state can best respond to the needs of children who have been affected by their parents divorce. A recent study shows that divorce affects two out of every five children in Connecticut.

"Divorce is one of the most emotionally traumatic events in the life of a family," Rowland said. "It's important that we take steps to make sure the special needs of children are addressed as a family goes through a divorce. Anytime we can make government more responsive and caring we are taking steps in the right direction."

Appellate Court Judge Anne Dranginis of Litchfield, a respected jurist known for her devotion to the welfare of children, will be co-chairwoman of the 20-member commission.

Thomas Foley of Greenwich, who heads an organization called In the Best Interest of the Child, will be co-chairman.

The commission will also include judges, lawyers, family service workers, child psychologists, psychiatrists and parents. Members have a year to develop a set of recommended changes to laws and procedures that impact the children of divorced parents.


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Turn singles night into a cooking night

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that in Philadelphia, a new turn in an old term for  singles night out would hopefully provide the right recipe for love, a cooking class that is  dedicated to single people.

Fresh Fields’ store marketing expert, Shari Stern, started the class because looking for love among organic vegetables seemed awkward, she said. The cooking class is held in an upstairs kitchen and provides a diversion that includes a well-known chef and a meal.

"The attention is on an activity, so there’s not as much pressure to recite information about yourself," Stern said."It seems to come out more naturally."

Stern said some of the chain’s stores in the Washington, D.C., area  have inquired about the idea and might try it. There are nearly 130 Fresh Fields stores nationally.

The class, which had 15 students Wednesday night, draws chefs from restaurants in the Philadelphia region who give instructions while they cook. The class is held in two sessions per month, one for those younger than 35 and another for those older.

Some in the class of under 35-year-olds Wednesday said they had difficulty dating because of their priorities, such as work or school, while others said they had strict requirements for a partner that were often hard to fulfill.

Some of the students in the class said they had tried other methods for finding a match, including a beer-tasting singles night at a bar in Philadelphia and singles night at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

"It was easier for people to communicate with each other than it was when people were just walking around shopping," said 28 year old information technology specialist Adam Gross of the singles’ cooking class, which started this fall.

The singles cooking class was the second for Gross, the techie who said he doesn’t drink or smoke, and therefore rarely goes to bars or clubs to meet women.

Gross said, the class was just a way to get out and meet new people. After the last class, he said, he and other attendees got together for sushi.


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