Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Springhill : Haunted Florida


The St. Augustine Lighthouse is definitely considered one of the most popular locations when it comes to the most haunted areas of the city. True ghost stories have been documented about this location in popular television shows like Ghost Hunters, and various other types of media all throughout history. Many lives have been lost in and around the area of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. These losses as well as a lot of unexplained phenomenon are the "fuel behind the fire" when it comes to paranormal activity in this location. The following represents some of the paranormal activity that is believed to occur at this location:
The St. Augustine Lighthouse
1. In the year of 1873, on the 10th day of July, there was a tragic accident that occurred while the lighthouse was being constructed. Five kids were riding along a type of cart that assisted in bringing in supplies. They fell in the water as a result of the cart breaking. A black girl that is believed to have been a servant, as well as two other girls drowned. Many stories circulate that these girls swing on the swing set on the grounds, can be heard playing and laughing, and can even be seen looking from the windows of the house on the grounds.

2. On Ghost Hunters, a shadow was documented on film moving on the top level of the stairs inside the lighthouse and even in front of the window in the lighthouse. It is believed that this is a spirit of a light keeper that tragically fell from the structure. In addition to this, a woman's voice was also recorded in digital audio recordings that the TAPS Team took. The TAPS Team has determined that this area is definitely haunted and has returned to document even more occurrences.

3. Many different sounds have been heard in the Museum on the property. None of these sounds seem to be threatening. The employees have different stories when it comes to what they hear, but they are so used to the sounds that they simply overlook them most of the time

The Old Jail is one of the most exciting places if you are a ghost hunter at heart. This structure was constructed by the ever-popular Henry Flagler, and opened in the year of 1891. It was carefully built to resemble that of one of the fine hotels that are located along the Atlantic Coast in Florida. For approximately sixty years, prisoners – both male and female – were held here. Today, the Old Jail is open to the public. Transformed into a museum, guests to this structure can observe where prisoners were kept, the spooky “gallows” where many prisoners were put to death, and more! If you want to visit one of the most haunted places in St. Augustine, the Old Jail is a wonderful choice among many! 

One of the first things that visitors should know when they visit the old jail is that several prisoners lost their lives at this location. The most common culprit behind the death of the prisoners was the ever-popular “noose” in which several were hung. Charles Joseph Perry served as the Sheriff from the time the jail was opened in 1891 until the year 1919. This individual took his job very seriously. He was a firm believer in the fact that if people were sent to his prison, they would serve their time in a punitive manner. There were not too many inmates that dared to differ with his way of thinking either. He was a startling large man, measuring in at six and a half feet, and weighed approximately three hundred pounds! In order to make extra certain that no one escaped a large amount of dogs was kept behind the Old Jail. 

The conditions at the structure were relatively harsh. One of the first issues was that the only water source in the jail was for drinking. This meant that individuals housed here were not allowed baths. Weather conditions on the external area of the structure were often much the same on the inside. If it was hot, it was even hotter indoors. The same occurred in the winter months, in which it was exceptionally hot. Most beds were composed of the Spanish moss that grows rather rapidly in the Florida area. This moss was used to fill mattresses, but red bugs and other pests that are native to the moss often infested the beds. To receive a blanket was practically unheard of in the days of the prison, and to receive a pillow for the beds was completely unheard of. Sickness and death were extremely common in the Old Jail, especially the disease of dysentery. 

There are two places that you will find the Old Jail listed. This includes the “National Directory of Haunted Places”, and the “National Registry of Historic Places”. The following indicates some of the spectacular hauntings that seem to occur at this haunted place in St. Augustine: 

1. There is a sweet smell that seems to consistently hang in the air of this haunted prison. It reflects that of molasses. Regardless of the cleaning efforts, this is a smell that seems to be related to the hauntings that occur in this structure. 

2. Many individuals that reside in the neighborhood of the jail, visit the museum, and even work in the structure have heard the barking of dogs on a regular basis. It is believed that these are the spiritual hounds of Sheriff Perry.

3. Certain tunes have been heard in the Old Jail – almost as if someone is slightly humming them. One of these songs distinctly reflects that of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. 

4. In many areas of the Old Jail, you can hear footsteps with a sound of distinct chains moving in motion with the steps. It is believed that these are the souls of the spirits that are still held captive, even after death. 

5. Many individuals have heard the sounds of shouts and wails only to discover that there was no physical person present to have made the sounds. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

News Center – Springhill Group Home Loans : Home Loan Modifications – Aid Or Scam?


Home Loan Modifications – Aid or Scam?
test4Bank Pirates!
  • Vinnieby Vince Meehan Editor, Mission Valley News(Mission Valley News, San Diego, CA) – Southern California has been hit hard by the housing crisis and many San Diegans are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure if that hasn’t happened already. Many homeowners have enrolled in loan modification programs offered by their banks in hopes of reducing their monthly mortgage payments to an affordable amount. These programs were enacted at the request of the government as compensation to the American public who’s taxpayer money was used to bail out these large banks in 2008 as a result of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. But people in the programs have had no success in lowering their payments, and feel as if the banks never had any intention of modifying loan payments from the beginning.Echoing that sentiment is attorney Jason L. Jones of Avatar Legal, P.C., who sees a lot of the misery endured by homeowners as a bankruptcy specialist. Jones contends that the banks have no incentive to modify loans, so they don’t. Since the mortgages are bought and assigned to a trust outside of the banks, they do not suffer if a foreclosure happens. Indeed, it is more profitable for the banks to foreclose on property because of the fees and surcharges involved, typically around $30,000 per foreclosure. Anytime property changes hands, fees are paid to all sorts of companies such as appraisal, title, and escrow. And many times, these companies are actually owned by the banks, so everybody makes out. It creates a situation where the banks actually try to force foreclosure instead of modify the loan. So the homeowner loses as well as investors of the trust which often includes groups like public servant unions and teachers unions who invested into the trusts as a part of their pension programs.What bothers Mr. Jones is that if you do apply for a loan modification, the banks will start the foreclosure process at the same time. Jones says that these two processes occur “parallel” to each other, happening at the same time. And the homeowner is not aware that the foreclosure process has begun. He says many people hold off on paying their mortgage during this process, and the banks start piling up late fees that return to haunt the homeowner.
    In 2009, the government created the Making Homes Affordable program which was supposed to create relief for homeowners in danger of losing their homes. Underneath this umbrella is the Home Affordable Modification Program known as HAMP in which banks were supposed to streamline the modification process. But participation in Making Homes Affordable is strictly voluntary for the banks and there is no penalty for refusing to participate. That aside, homeowners are reporting that even the banks who claim to be participating in the program are not serious and play games instead.
    In the loan modification process, the banks create a win less scenario where countless forms are filled out, receipts mailed in, and then promptly lost by the banks. The process is drawn out over time and the foreclosure clock is ticking the entire time. The sentiment is echoed by countless homeowners who have applied for loan modifications to no avail. Indeed, finding a homeowner who has actually succeeded in a loan modification is impossible. Stated one homeowner, “Whether they are calling it HOME, HOPE, or HAMP, the loan modification program is a complete joke and a lie to the American people.” As the National Taxpayer Union puts it, “HAMP has proven to be a colossal failure that has done more to harm than help debt-laden homeowners.”
    This frustration has led to public anger that has manifested itself in public demonstrations such as Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Diego. Lorena Gonzalez, Treasurer-Secretary/CEO for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council recently organized a rally downtown  for “Withdrawal Wednesday” where citizens were encouraged to withdraw their savings from large national banks as a protest. She says that after the bailouts, banks hoarded the money and did not use it to help ease the mortgage crisis as promised. So she and others across the county asked people to withdraw money from large national banks and deposit it in local credit unions. Said Gonzales, “After the bailout, the banks continued to foreclose on homes and CEOs got huge bonuses. This fueled the anger that resulted in “Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Diego.” She added that these foreclosed homes also began to create blight in neighborhoods, so this even effected homeowners not involved in foreclosure.
    Gonzales is currently trying to pursue legislation that would fine the banks of foreclosed homes for any code violations, but that it is currently stalled in committee. Gonzales said that the banks don’t like the legislation, and the banking lobby is is even more powerful than the union lobby in Sacramento. Mission Valley News asked Gonzales if she was aware of any of her constituents who achieved a loan modification, and she said she could not think of any who were successful. Mission Valley News could not find one example of a successful loan modification.
    But even if you do qualify for a loan reduction (which is a feat in itself) and jump through the hoops laid out by the banks, you run a good chance of having your payment actually increase as a result. In many cases, one of the terms of beginning a loan modification is to pay into an “escrow fund” where the banks pay off your home owners insurance and property taxes in advance. This actually makes your payment far more expensive at a time which couldn’t be worse. Failure to pay this escrow will result in late fees and default.
    Jason Jones says “Right now, the loan modification process goes hand in hand with the foreclosure process because most banks will not consider a loan modification unless the borrower is in default. The homeowner has to stop paying on the mortgage before the bank will talk to him. Only then is he allowed into the modification process. Meanwhile, the bank begins increasing the amount owed by the homeowner by tacking on late fees and penalties, will start making collection calls, and will decrease the homeowner’s credit score. The bank will also file a notice of default, which is the first step in the foreclosure process.”
    Jones adds “Being in the loan modification process prevents the individual homeowner from facing the actual underlying problem which is the need to move to more affordable housing. As a result, the affected homeowner makes poor decisions and their emotional and physical health can suffer as a result of the false hope offered by a bank’s home loan modification program.” The message he wants to get out is the futility of loan modifications and the reality of foreclosure which is inevitable. Jones says that as a bankruptcy lawyer, his issue with the loan modification programs is the false hope that they create. He said it would create better financial health as well as mental health if the homeowners knew the truth about losing their homes.


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