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Columns

  • Medicare Advantage disenrollment period ends Feb. 14

    By Jennifer Prince Sherman

    Guest Columnist

    Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 marks the annual Medicare Advantage disenrollment period. During this time, a Medicare beneficiary enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan may leave his or her plan and return to Original Medicare. If you switch to Original Medicare during this period, you will have until Feb. 14 to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to ensure you will have drug coverage in 2015. Your prescription drug coverage will begin the first day of the month after the drug plan gets your enrollment form.

  • You decide: What are the impacts of tax changes?

    By Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

     

    Get ready for some tax debates in 2015. At the national level, pundits think a proposal to lower the federal income tax rate may be one piece of common ground between President Obama and the Congress. Here in North Carolina, Round 2 of tax changes — focusing on lower tax rates and a broader tax base — may be debated in the General Assembly.

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  • New year starts out rough for many

    For me, 2015 started with a cough, followed by sneezing, and later a massive headache, swollen face, nausea, fever and chills. It wasn’t the flu or strep throat, thankfully. It was just a nasty upper respiratory infection that flattened me for the better part of the following week.

    “You get sick like this every time you’re under a lot of stress,” the nurse said, patiently explaining — again — how my continued inability to cope weakens my immune system. New year, same old me.

  • Moonshine takes off like greased white lightning

    It wasn’t that long ago Brunswick County at times operated like the wild — and sometimes even wilder — West.

    I can’t count the times I’ve skimmed through yellowing pages of the Beacon dating back to the 1960s and ‘70s and, on my way to looking up something else, have come across stories about moonshine still busts in Brunswick County.

    Yep, sheriff this and sheriff that — who sometimes wound up in trouble themselves later on — and his posse had just busted up another’n.

  • A whole new you in about an hour

    We are eight days into the new year and, from experience, I’m guessing that for many enough time has passed that those new year’s resolutions are starting to become a real burden if they haven’t been dumped outright.

    From Thanksgiving through Jan. 2 most people’s schedules get thrown off to the point that a resolution or two seem almost do-able, until we settle back into our normal routines in the first week of the year.

    It turns out it’s tougher than it appears to make those lifestyle changes.

  • You decide: How do we pay for infrastructure?

    By Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

     

    My wife recently bought a new car. Well, not exactly “new new,” but “newly used.” Some experts say this is the best way to purchase vehicles because you get an almost-new car without paying for the excessive depreciation that occurs when a brand-new car is driven off the lot.

  • True friendship withstands losses

    Despite the fact that I got up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday to hitch a ride with my kid brother to Charlotte expressly to see my beloved Cleveland Browns, the strong showing of Toroks at Bank of America Stadium wasn’t enough to seal a victory against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 21.

  • Holiday gifts lend perspective on new year

    I’m having to write my column this week on Christmas Eve because of our early holiday deadlines, but I can already tell you about a few gifts I’ve received for the holidays this year.

    Today, one of my favorite newsroom visitors, 9-year-old Georgia Ann Durieur, came to the Beacon with Christmas greetings and another delightful story to share. She wrote and illustrated it herself on one of our computers. Here it is:

  • All I want for Christmas is ...

    This time last year, all I wanted for Christmas was to keep everyone and everything I have. I don’t think Santa heard me or maybe he misunderstood, because we lost my cousin Lisa and one of my best friends died last month. Perhaps I should have been clearer, too. I’d have been very happy to lose some pounds; I guess I didn’t really want to keep everything. Even so, it all makes me even more grateful for who and what I still have in my life.