• Rural counts when it comes to voting about Connect NC

    By Patrick Woodie

    Guest Columnist

    Rural North Carolinians will have the chance March 15 to vote on the Connect NC bond referendum to invest $2 billion in improvements to our university system, community colleges, small town water and sewer infrastructure, agricultural research facilities, state parks and National Guard facilities.

  • The cat got out of the bag

    Brunswick County made news last week when the economic development director it spent three months searching for resigned just short of four months into the job.

    The reports put the reason for his resignation resulting from inadvertently putting the county’s response to an information request from a tire manufacturer looking for a new plant location in public emails.

    Emails to and from elected officials and county staff are public record and the county set up a computer terminal in 2009 for the public to review the emails.

  • Preparing for the primary election

    By Brent Ducharme

    Guest Columnist

    As the March 15 primary approaches, recent changes in state voting law are adding an extra layer of confusion for North Carolinians navigating the path to the polls. It is vital for voters to be prepared for the election March 15.

    Voters with questions or concerns can call the national Election Protection hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE (687-8683). The hotline is available during early voting and will be staffed by volunteer attorneys and trained UNC law students the day of the primary.

  • Tips for getting your taxes done safely

    By Roy Cooper

    Guest Columnist

    The tax deadline is looming, and you may find yourself needing help to file your taxes. Using a tax preparer should make filing your taxes easier, but only if you choose one that is reliable and accurate.

    There are plenty of legitimate tax preparers in North Carolinians, but unfortunately my office hears from consumers each year about tax preparers who charge unreasonably high fees, file tax documents without approval or fail to complete the job.

  • Thanks to all those who give of themselves

    Thank you to everyone who came out to the Beacon’s annual Health Expo this past Saturday at Shallotte Middle School. I understand the turnout was as excellent as the weather and many people took advantage of screenings, freebies and opportunities to learn about the many health and wellness options available in our community.

    Me, I bowed out of attending on account of my lingering croup. Our annual event is intended to be an exposition of good health, and my presence would have had the opposite effect.

  • You decide: Was change greater a century ago?

    By Dr. Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

    Consider this picture: Your home has no electricity or indoor plumbing. This means no electronics or instant warm baths and showers, and “using the bathroom” means accessing an outdoor “outhouse.” Heat in your home is generated from a wood- or coal-burning stove, but unless you’re close by, most of your home is still freezing in the winter. Of course, there is no air-conditioning in the summer.

  • The opposite of courtroom drama, plus some PSAs

    Sitting in Brunswick County courtroom No. 4 on the second floor a week ago to cover several news stories reminded me of my days as a full-time cops and courts reporter. It also made me realize some aspects of the courthouse environment are apparently universal.

    For instance, few people notice the newspaper reporters scribbling away furiously in their notebooks during proceedings. This is actually not a bad thing, because we’re not there to be seen (in fact, we’re trying not to be a distraction) — we’re there to work.

  • All this rain is getting into my head

    I heard from family who live in the Raleigh area that they received another winter gift of ice last weekend.

    It delayed the adults from going to work first thing Monday morning and kept the kids out of school.

    Hearing about it reminded me of my one, and only, time getting caught out in those elements, which resulted in the adventure of my vehicle sliding around the streets.

  • You decide: Are low oil prices good or bad for the economy?

    By Dr. Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d see it in my lifetime. I’m talking about gas prices being under $2 per gallon. It’s one of the true “good news” items in the economy.

  • Public participation allows for face-to-face feedback

    Public speaking isn’t my forte. I can do it adequately enough, but most of the time, I speak somewhat softly, I get a little nervous addressing strangers and I’m introverted person all around.

    Oh, I’m plenty friendly (I think), but it seems to take a Herculean effort for me not to be socially awkward in general — unless I’m talking about something I’m passionate about, like the work we do here at the Beacon. I’m almost always happy to talk with anyone, anywhere about that.