Columns/Opinions

Thu
04
Apr

What can you do with your tax refund?

   Are you getting a tax refund this year?  
   If so, what should you do with it? 
   You could put it in your IRA. 
   Last year’s average refund was about $2,700 according to the Internal Revenue Service.  
   If you got that much this year, you’d have almost half of the annual IRA contribution limit of $6,000, although you can contribute up to $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. 
   You could also use some of your refund to invest in a college fund.  
   Or, you might want to pay some premiums on your life insurance or long-term care policies. 
   As an alternative, you could use the money to pay down some debts.  
   The lower your debt load, the more you’ll have available to invest for the future. 
   One last suggestion: Consider using your tax refund to help build an emergency fund containing six to 12 months’ worth of living expenses.  

Thu
04
Apr

"You are God’s joy and his treasured possession" by: Caleb Gibson

   In the 1980s a father dropped his son off at the elementary school. It seemed to be a typical day in this small town of Armenia. 
   As he was a mile away, a devastating earthquake ripped through the streets. 
   Immediately an estimated 25,000 people were killed. This father rushed to his son’s school only to find that the school had been flattened. There was no sign of life.
   Though his prospects appeared hopeless, the father began feverishly removing rubble from where he believed his son’s classroom had been. Courageously, he worked alone; no one volunteered to help him. With strength and endurance beyond himself, he began to dig and dig, and dig…for 8 hours...12...24...36 hours. 
   Some told the father to go home, that there was no chance that any of the pupils could be alive. 
   To which he always replied, “I made my son a promise that I’d be there for him anytime he needed me. I must continue to dig.”

Thu
04
Apr

"Reel Reviews: ‘Dumbo’ remake gets Tim Burton treatment " by: Jessica Shepard

   Disney’s live-action “Dumbo” reboot has taken the No. 1 spot in theaters worldwide, garnering over $119 million in one weekend.  
   Dumbo is directed by Tim Burton, with a screenplay written by Ehren Kruger.  
   The film is inspired by Walt Disney’s 1941 animated film of the same name, based on the novel by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl.  
   The film stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, and Alan Arkin. 
   In 1919, equestrian performer and World War I amputee, Holt Farrier (Farrell) returns after the war to the Medici Brothers’ Circus, run by Max Medici (DeVito).  
   The circus has run into financial troubles and Medici has been forced to sell the circus’s horses after Holt’s wife and co-performer, Annie passed away – leaving their two children behind in the care of the circus troupe. 
   So, Medici reassigns Holt as the caretaker for the circus’s pregnant elephant, Mrs. Jumbo. 

Thu
04
Apr

"The quandaries of spring" By Aaron Sumrall, PhD County Extension Agent Agriculture & Natural Resources

   Spring always brings about many wanted and longed-for changes in warmer, dryer days with a little more time in the afternoons after work.  
   Following the previous long, wet winter, sunshine and shoes other than rubber boots are a welcomed reprieve.  
   With this being the long end of the stick, there is always a short end to keep us humble.  
   With the weather conditions doing an about face, we have some decisions to make so as to minimize the time exposed to the newly fledging mosquitoes.  
   The ample moisture and warmer temperatures of winter lead into a firestorm of other issues that you may be facing as we are already beginning April!  
   Fungi loves warm, damp conditions with anything other than direct sunlight.  
   This Gulf Coast resident will find its way into every nook and cranny and cause problems if left unchecked.  
   Fungi is a limiting production concern for grass, fruit and nut trees, and so much more.  

Thu
28
Mar

"Reel Reviews: ‘Us’ is weird, creepy enough to be scary" by: Jessica Shepard

   It’s rare to get horror movies during the spring months, so, color me ultra-excited to see Jordan Peele’s “Us” film.
   I’m an avid fan of last year’s “Get Out” flick, which he also directed, and had high hopes for Us.
   Not to mention it’s running at No. 1 worldwide and raking in over $80 million in its opening weekend.
   Us is a 2019 American science fiction horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele.
   The film stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Madison Curry, and Tim Heidecker.
   It all starts in 1986, when young Adelaide Thomas (Curry) vacations with her parents in Santa Cruz at the boardwalk.
   At the beach, Adelaide wanders off and enters a funhouse, where she encounters a doppelgänger of herself in the funhouse’s hall of mirrors.
   Adelaide is later reunited with her parents, although traumatized and unable to talk about her experience.

Thu
28
Mar

"Planting trees in black-clay earth more difficult than it looks" by: Jessica Shepard

   In the middle of December last year, my sister and I scored a nice deal on two Celeste fig trees and two Meyer lemon trees. 
   They’ve survived the brief, few wintry days through rain and wind. 
   In fact, they went from fairly stumpy and having almost no leaves to thriving the past few weeks. 
   The lemon trees are blooming and there’s new growth and leaves on the fig trees. 
   Unfortunately, since my sister has to have knee surgery, it left mom and me in charge of planting them.
So, mom and I spent several hours doing that mid-afternoon on Saturday.
We started with the lemon trees so that they could get rooted in the soil quickly and hopefully not lose too many blossoms in the meantime. 
   The hardest part about digging the hole, was the actual digging. 
   Sadly, our dirt is that dark, black clay-like material that sticks fast to shovels and shoes when being worked.

Thu
28
Mar

Nothing is close to certain in this fluctuating, Wall of Worry market

   Back from deep in the South. I am amazed at preconceived ideas of what a certain part of the country will look like. 
   After my trip, Alabama does have all the basic southern charm but is not that different from what you would find in Texas. 
   I traveled with a lawyer friend and his son who teaches special education classes. Having that much time and libations provides a great environment to discuss all sorts of topics. 
   They both lean a bit left from me but are willing to discuss alternative opinions which is refreshing.
   While I was gone, various equities indexes climbed to levels not seen since last year only to fall back last Friday. 
   Many pointed to the inversion of the yield curve. This means that long-term rates are lower than short-term rates. 
   This is not natural as you would expect that someone would have to offer higher rates to hold your money for a longer period. 

Thu
28
Mar

Time for some financial Spring cleaning

   Spring is here – which means it’s time for some spring cleaning. 
   This year, in addition to tidying up your surroundings, you may also want to clean up your financial environment – and some of the same moves may apply.
   For starters, get rid of the “clutter” you may find in your investment portfolio. 
   If you have too many of the same type of investments, consider selling some and using the proceeds to buy others that may help fill out your portfolio.
   Also, just as you may find new uses for existing items when you’re sprucing up your home, you might be able to “repurpose” some of your investments. 
   For example, if you are taking stock dividends in cash, consider reinvesting them to increase the shares you own.
   Finally, spring cleaning also gives you a chance to establish new habits to avoid future problems. 

Thu
28
Mar

"Life is challenging but God is in business of bringing us all back" by: Betsy Monico

   I remember when I was a kid occasionally playing “jacks.” 
   We dumped out the metal stars from their drawstring bag and grabbed the bouncy ball before it took off. 
   The object of the game remains the same: throw the ball up, pick up a jack, let the ball bounce once, and then catch it. 
   It sounds simple, but anyone who has played jacks knows that it is not easy! Sadly, I think “jacks” are a thing of the past. 
   I barely played them. My kids never took an interest when they found them in their Easter baskets. 
   The main thing I recall about jacks is what happened when one was left out and seemingly forgotten. Oh, trust me…that one “jack” was only overlooked until someone stepped on it!  
   The pain is excruciating; therefore, the most important part of the game might very well be picking up every single jack! 

Thu
28
Mar

"God wore sin-stained robe on cross, giving us his robe of righteousness" by: Caleb Gibson

   One day while Jesus was visiting at someone’s house, a lady named Mary Magdalene brought Jesus an alabaster jar worth a year’s wages. 
   Her tears ran down her face as she broke the jar and poured on Him. She did this to prepare Jesus, “for burial” (Matthew 26:12). 
   Jesus told her, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). 
   When Mary had poured that alabaster jar, the aroma would have filled the room and would have had clothing that was saturated with that aroma. 
   When you spend time next to a campfire for a while, and the smoke has moved toward you. When you leave there, that aroma goes with you. When you do positive actions, you are changing the atmosphere. 
   Some people cause the room to smell by their attitude, but when you step up and do something positive, you are a sweet aroma.
   How can we smell? By the oxygen in our lungs. God created us by breathing. 

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