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Today's the final day to apply for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend — don't miss the opportunity.

There's never a good reason to treat anyone badly. Vandals damaged several Anchorage Sudanese refugees' cars over the weekend, inscribing messages such as "Not Welcome" and "Leave Alaska."

George Elwood Mather Jr., 60, died March 23, 2015, in Ketchikan.
Caroline Lucille Hendrixson, 90, died March 27, 2015, in Ketchikan.
Ira Marlin Gross, 55, died Feb. 12, 2015, in Anchorage.
New beginning

It's time to start fresh.

This is a new year, and welcome it is.

It gives us the opportunity to make new friends, try different things or do the same things differently, to see new places and simply to do what we haven't done before.

There are all sorts of categories to be considered — family, friends, church, diet, exercise, travel.

It might be that we want to travel more, seeing places that we've seen in picture books and want to experience in person. Or, we might like to travel less, realizing that we already live in one of the best travel destinations on the planet, where others pay thousands of dollars to come for a few days. We might want to add a business trip, or subtract a few.

Diet and exercise in many cases come out on top when we consider what the new year will look like. Better diet, or selecting a diet to lose weight, ranks as one of the most often mentioned resolutions, often in tandem with exercise. The question becomes how to be effective this time. The answer begins, if past diets haven't produced results, with trying a new approach.

This also is the time of year when we commit to spend more quality time with family and friends. Maybe we don't need to do as much, but make the times together more meaningful and fun. Or perhaps we need to add to the time we've made for one another. Play more and work less.

However, work is important. It enables all of us to put roofs over our heads and food on the table; it also gives us the means for all of the extras. And, it, too, requires a plan that will be effective.

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate our spiritual well-being and our church attendance. It might be that we need to start attending and participating in not only the services, but some of the programs. Perhaps get our kids into the children's programs.

Our volunteer activities might need to be tweaked. There is a happy medium between giving too little and stressing out trying to do too much.

A fresh start is all about improving, doing better, finding greater success and accomplishing what we're meant to.

With a plan, 2013 will be the best year we can possibly make it. Without one, we run the risk of not reaching our full potential for this time in our lives, and not achieving that wonderful feeling that comes as we tally our accomplishments at the end of a year.

So, let's get ready for the new year and make it the best it can be. We've still got 364 days to do it in.