Columns/Opinions

Thu
18
Feb

"This will be a holiday week like no other" by: John Sample

   Well this holiday shortened trading week is starting off different than any I have experienced here in the Hill Country.  
  Woke up to no power and six inches of snow and the temperature was 5 degrees.  
   If there is good news, it is a sunny blue sky and my gas logs in the fireplace keep the house bearable.  
   I’m probably going to have to drive around to charge my cell phone.  
   At least with the sunup, I can catch up on reading. 
   So much for the weather report.  
   We got through last week with nothing much happening in the various indexes and averages.  
   The jobless rate rose a bit and it appears that though COVID rages on the vaccines are helping.  
   This all leads to the debate as to what the economy is going to look like.   
   Crude prices continue to climb to nearly $60 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate.  
   So much for selling energy stocks last year due to a change in administration.

Thu
18
Feb

Protect benefits for children with special needs

   If you have a child or other loved one with special needs due to physical or mental conditions, you face some challenges, including financial ones.
   You might have some well-meaning relatives who want to help – but are they doing it the right way?
   For example, grandparents who leave substantial assets to a grandchild with special needs could jeopardize a grandchild’s eligibility for important benefits related to housing, medical care, independent living, and other services.
   So, if you learn that the grandparents or other relatives are planning to leave this type of inheritance, you may want to suggest an alternate form of generosity.
   Specifically, you may want to encourage them to look into contributing to what’s known as a special needs trust.
   This type of trust can supply financial resources to individuals with special needs without endangering benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

Thu
18
Feb

"It is cold and COVID-19 still seems unpredictable, but there is hope" by: Betsy Monico

   Going back to one of my favs from a few years ago.  
   This week reminded me to trust the Lord and give thanks for all of our random, not so random meetings and unforeseen circumstances.  
   When I was in grade school, I loved to color.  
   I also enjoyed completing word find puzzles.  
   I still work “word finds” the same.  
   I search through every line up and down, column by column until I find a word.  
   Circling a sought after word and marking it off of the word bank is satisfying.  
   Crosswords proved to be more challenging; still are.  
   “Dot to Dots” are my all-time favorite though. 
   When one dot connects with another and starts to transpire into what it is meant to be, it is phenomenal.  
   Maybe the “Dot to Dot” process is somewhat like the caterpillar to butterfly process; however, scientific transformations are not my focus this week.  

Thu
18
Feb

"Reel Reviews: ‘Greenland’ just like every other end-of-world movie out there" by: Jessica Shepard

   I have to preface this with saying that I originally wanted to watch this movie because it appeared different than others at first glance.
   Plus, it was a newly released Redbox rental and with the way the weather’s been, I wanted to spend more time snuggled up at home next to the fireplace than out and about in the theater.
   Sadly, it wasn’t engaging enough to keep me from tuning out the subpar storyline and dialogue.
   Usually, I can manage anything Gerard Butler is in because he’s a great actor, but this flick wasn’t able to keep my attention and I spent more time shaking my head at the terrible way they all tried so hard for a flop of a film.
   Initially, Greenland, with a comet set to “pass by” Earth with a great light show, looked like the love child of other disaster movies: “2012” (2009) and “Armageddon” (1998).
   However, that would be too easy of a movie to watch and have a way worse cast.

Thu
11
Feb

Letter to the Editor: "Are we losing our grip on pandemic realities?"

    It is doubtful there is a single person in the world who is not weary of reading, viewing or hearing news about COVID-19 and the prescribed responses for dealing with its spread! 
   Sadly, the longer the pandemic lingers, the more numb we become to the reported rates of infection, hospitalization and death. 
   Admittedly, these statistics are so staggering they stretch the imagination to its breaking point.
   A small glimmer of sunlight, peeping through the dark clouds, is that for every 100 people who contract this disease…98 will recover. 
   But this does not lessen the misery suffered by the 10 to12 of every 100 cases that demand closely-supervised medical care…or the tens of millions of bereaved Americans mourning the loss of the two out of the 10 or 12 of every 100 of these ‘very serious’ cases who died (now adding up to 450,000-plus U.S. dead).

Thu
11
Feb

"Advertising makes newspaper business world go around" by: Jessica Shepard

   Lately, I’ve been privy to a few discussions on advertising and marketing for projects, groups, and events in our area.
   As a journalist covering some of these meetings, it’s just not kosher for me to insert myself into those discussions.
   My job is to report on the facts and convey the key information to our readers in the easiest way possible.
   Now, sometimes, during a public comment section, I’ll say something, or if I’m asked for my background knowledge and skills in the arena I’ll happily speak up.
   I may not had graduated with a physical degree in media/communications and sociology, but, I’ve spent over a decade as a freelance media specialist and worked for three newspapers and a magazine – I think I have a little leg up in that ring compared to most average folks.

Thu
11
Feb

"Your investment question for the week: To Bitcoin or not?" by:John Sample

   A new week and Elon Musk is making news again as Tesla invested $1.5 billion of its capital into Bitcoin and announced that they plan to take the crypto currency as payment for Tesla vehicles in the future. 
   His investment moved Bitcoin above 44,000 in value. 
   There seems to be nothing that Mr. Musk touches that doesn’t increase in value. 
   The point seems to be that Mr. Musk understands where a millennial’s interests lie. 
   PayPal seems to feel the same way as they are working out the details to allow consumers to use Bitcoin in transactions. 
   Just another example of how nothing stays the same for long these days.
   As investors you must pay attention as money is a store of value and it is a means of conducting business. 
   As a U.S. citizen, you need to pay attention as the U.S. dollar being the current currency of choice worldwide could change. 
   We will see countries issue their own crypto currencies. 

Thu
11
Feb

Estate planning for blended families

   If you’re in a blended family, you’re already aware of the emotional and financial issues involved in your daily life.
   But what about the future?
   How can you make sure your estate plans are fair to everyone involved?
   It’s not easy.
   But you can do a lot to help the process.
   For starters, make sure you’re communicating your wishes clearly to everyone – children, stepchildren, current spouse, former spouse and any other family members involved.
   Also, you may have to look beyond the basic task of writing a will.
   Given the complexities of a blended family, you may want to consider establishing a revocable living trust, which gives you greater control over how you want your assets distributed.
   And you may want to choose a professional trustee to administer the trust.
   Above all, though, put the right estate-planning team in place.

Thu
11
Feb

"Be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, and be strong" by: Betsy Monico

   A fellow 5th grade co-worker recently dealt with Covid.  
   We were eagerly expecting him back tomorrow. His original return date was Friday, but we begged he take one more day and be ready when he joined us again. Yes, we miss him! 
   The kids do too; however, the pace of a classroom can be fast and furious.
   Sadly, he will not join us tomorrow because his wife is ill now. Our team texts and prayers regarding her have been non-stop. 
   We are beating on the doors of heaven for her full recovery. 
   We fuss at him only when he shows signs of worrying about school. Yes, work is important. Teachers give it their all, but family comes first. 
   He spent last night in his pick-up outside of her hospital room.
   He is not allowed in the hospital because of Covid restrictions, so he set up camp outdoors. 
   Yep, he is that kind of guy. 

Thu
11
Feb

"When we seek God through prayer we can know God listens" by: Caleb Gibson

   John C. Maxwell once said, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” 
   Most people walk away from a conversation not thinking about what you said, but remembering how you made them feel. 
   Has someone asked you, “What did y’all talk about in church today?” 
   When you hear this, you may get a blank mind. We may not remember what someone said immediately, but we will remember how we felt. 
   We can respond with sincerity by saying, “Worship was great! I could really feel God’s presence.” When we understand God’s attitude towards us, we can live life better.
   Your feelings are important. God’s feelings are also important. Throughout Jesus’ life, we can read about how He was filled with amazement, tears, anger, joy, compassion, and love. 
   If you believe in Christ, God is filled with joy when He thinks about you. He appreciates the work you do and the people you help. 

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