Columns/Opinions

Thu
23
May

"Wishing for a South Dakota vacation, while preparing for mosquitos here" by: Jessica Shepard

   According to science, summer lasts from Friday, June 21, to Monday, Sept. 23. 
   Sadly, that is a vague window for the northern hemisphere. 
   It doesn’t take into account those of us in Texas. 
   We’ve got the three H’s already; heat, humidity and a heck of a lot of mosquitos! 
   I mean, there’s also a bunch of other annoying insects ramping up to ruin what could possibly be an awesome poolside moment of relaxation or beachside adventure. 
   Still, it’s pretty much the end of May and it feels like summer is here already. 
   School is wrapping up and several hundred students graduate in the county and Memorial Day is next week. 
   It’s amazing how fast time has flown and I’m pretty sure it’s going to feel like the summer drags on forever. 
   At least when it comes to the weather. 
   After all, we know that temperatures can slide into the mid-80s even around Thanksgiving and sometimes into December. 

Thu
23
May

"Can you invest when times seem so uncertain?" by: John Sample

   Last week watched the market give up a significant loss only to recover most of it by week’s end. The topic driving the market was the continuing concern over what will happen with trade negotiations with China. 
   It appears that this battle will go on for quite some time. 
   The subject of the daily debate is the significant impact on the U.S. economy and the earnings of companies.
      Only those sticking their heads in the sand think things are at a stop. Retailers like TJX and AutoZone reported greater than expected earnings. 
   There were many others, like Kohl’s, that disappointed investors. 
   It did not help things that Huawei was singled out by the Administration for exclusion from any investment in the U.S. Huawei is the world’s largest company in providing the hardware to support the next generation of the wireless service referred to as 5G. 

Thu
23
May

Take a closer look at myths surrounding 529 plans

   To help pay for your children’s college education, you might want to consider contributing to a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan.  
   But first, you’ll want to better understand some of the myths surrounding these plans. 
   Here’s myth No. 1: You need a lot of money to invest in a 529 plan.  
   Actually, you can invest small amounts on a monthly basis. 
   Myth No. 2: If your child doesn’t use the plan, you’ll lose the money you’ve invested.  
   But in reality, you can switch beneficiaries to another eligible family member. 
   Myth No. 3: A 529 plan eliminates financial aid opportunities.  
   This isn’t necessarily true. Several factors determine financial aid packages – and building significant assets in a 529 plan could outweigh the potential loss of some needs-based financial aid. 

Thu
23
May

"A pledge to watch my mouth and stop complaining of things that can’t be changed" by: Betsy Monico

   I pondered what to write about this week. Keeping with tradition, I somewhat gathered my thoughts all week and sat down tonight to write my column. I have mentioned before too that the entire process is like therapy to me. 
   Writing became my thing in third grade when Mrs. Price recognized my creative story telling skills in front of the class. 
   What popped into my mind for this week is “homestretch.” Yes, we are on the homestretch for the 2018-2019 school year. For me as a mom of four students and an educator, it is a double whammy! We are all about to be freer for a while. 
   There will be summer jobs, summer workouts, and loads to do; however, the daily schedule that we have kept since last August will change. 

Thu
23
May

"God has great plans for your life - your story isn’t over" by: Caleb Gibson

    Professional Golfer Andy Roddick once said, “At one point in life you either have the thing you want or the reasons why you don’t.” 
   We all have a story, and there are pages still to be written.  
   You hold the pen in your hand, and you can change how your story is told. 
   It’s time to change your life’s story for the better. 
   Go with God. When the Lord called Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt and into their Promised Land, Moses told the Lord, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15). 
   Have you ever planned to go somewhere but your friend was not invited. 
   You may have the attitude that if they can’t go, then I won’t either. Moses was telling God that he did not want to go anywhere without the Lord. 
   In spite of Moses’ fears and struggles, he was a success because God was with him. 
   The path of your friends will influence your path.

Thu
23
May

"Reel Reviews: ‘John Wick 3: Parabellum’ best in series yet" by: Jessica Shepard

   With just over $93 million in worldwide sales, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum wrestled the No. 1 position at box offices from “Avengers: Endgame.”
   And if that doesn’t tell you how awesome this latest John Wick installment is, then you should know that Chapter 4 is already in the works and slated for release in 2021.
   If you haven’t seen the first two films, I’d suggest you get a hand on them before you go in to see this one or else you’ll miss a lot of nuanced jokes and a few introductions of key players.
   For me, it feels like the films just keep getting better as we delve deeper into John Wick’s past life as an assassin.
      As with any good assassin movie, Parabellum is rated R for pervasive strong violence and some language.
   But, don’t let that deter you – there’s several comedic moments and plenty of smart-mouthed and dry humor sprinkled throughout.

Thu
16
May

"A visit to Onalaska: A funeral, my family, long ago past" by: Mike Reddell

   MaLinda and I traveled to Onalaska for a cousin’s funeral last Friday.
   Along with paying my respects to my first cousin Charles Lewis, who was 94, it was a chance to see his daughters who are my age and other cousins – all playmates in bygone era.
   I hadn’t seen his daughters in 25 years.
   Funerals in my family are usually reunions – there’s as much joy in seeing your kin folk as there is sadness in their father’s passing.
   One thing about funerals is that no matter how well you know the person who died, you invariably learn facts about their lives that you didn’t know.
   My departed cousin, Charles Lewis, loved history and relished talking about it.
      MaLinda nudged me during the service, since that facet of my cousin’s life paralleled my own.
   His father, my uncle, had lived and farmed in the Trinity River bottomlands – laced by Kickapoo and Sandy creeks - for decades.

Thu
16
May

"Brother’s small tattoo spawns thoughts, plus and minus" by: Jessica Shepard

  So, my brother got his first tattoo over the weekend and while I don’t really care too much – mom thinks it’s a terrible idea.
   Now, to be fair, he got something small that means a lot to him in an easy place to cover up.
   And by that I mean he got the “Halo” symbol from the videogame series by the same name on the inside of his bicep.
   It wasn’t like he sat in a tattoo artist’s chair for 18 hours for a whole sleeve of work.
   Plus, he told me that the artist even encouraged him to pick something small to see how he feels about tattoos before getting something bigger that he could regret.
   That’s some solid advice and I’m glad that he got it.
   And my brother said it didn’t hurt as much as he thought it would; which means that next time a doctor decides to give him a steroid shot, he should be less of a baby, right?
   We’re going to have to wait and see, though it also leads to an interesting conversation with mom.

Thu
16
May

"Are you willing to sacrifice in the trade conflict with China?" by: John Sample

   What a difference a week makes. Last week I was proffering that one might consider taking profits as we had yet again moved up to record highs. 
   The week ended up dropping producing one of the worst weekly losses this year. 
   As you know, the trade negotiations between the U.S. and China broke down and the President raised tariffs with China from 10% to 25%. 
   That was all the market needed to pull back. The fun begins now as real analysis takes the place of speculation and emotion to determine the actual impact. 
   I have no problem with efforts to level the playing field with China. 
   This is an economic war that will not end even if we get a trade pact. The problem with my opinion is that I have no skin in the game. 
   If you are in agriculture, these recent events could prove painful. 
   There are always sacrifices in every conflict. 

Thu
16
May

Time to ‘cycle’ through some investment ideas

   May is Bike Month in the United States. 
   Bicycling is good exercise and an environmentally friendly method of transportation, but it can also teach some lessons about investing.
   One of these lessons has to do with risk. 
   Experienced cyclists keep their brakes in good shape and avoid unnecessary risks, such as whipping around blind curves. 
   As an investor, you can put the brakes on risk by avoiding impulsive moves and sticking with a disciplined, long-term strategy.
   Cyclists also keep their bikes in good shape through regular maintenance. 
   When you invest, you should tune up your portfolio periodically so it always reflects changes in your life and financial situation.

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