• You decide: Will the economy improve in 2016?

    By Dr. Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

    This is the time of year when economists shine — or at least they try to. The early weeks of a new year are always the period when I receive the largest number of speaking requests.

    Even if people know my colleagues and I have cloudy (some say foggy, with hot air) crystal balls, they still want to know what we’re thinking about the future. I often tell my audiences to take what I forecast and then expect the opposite to happen. I usually get a mixed reaction of laughs and a nodding of heads.

  • Being on national TV is no ‘snap’ for the awkward

    Over the holidays, one of the most fascinating cases I covered as a cops reporter during my 17 years at the (Florence, S.C.) Morning News was featured on the Oxygen television network true crime show, “Snapped.”

    Other cases I covered have been featured on national TV shows before, but this is the first time I was interviewed about any of them. In October 2013, producers for the show came to our offices here in Shallotte to talk with me for the episode, which focused on the November 2004 disappearance of Randy Bratschi.

  • Thanks for playing

    Here, on the last day of 2015, the roulette wheel spun one last time and I was the staff writer given the chance to change your life for the better, in about 500 words, as we begin a new year. For anyone counting, we’re at about 47.

    My advice to you is to go ahead and accept that participation trophy.

  • Top tips for holiday gift returns, exchanges

    By Roy Cooper

    Guest Columnist

    While the weeks around the holidays are known as the Season of Giving, they also involve plenty of returns and exchanges. But last year, a Consumer Reports poll showed about a quarter of Americans who attempted to return an item to a retailer didn’t get their money back.

    By planning ahead and following our tips, you can make sure that gift returns and exchanges go smoothly for you and your loved ones this year.

    Read return policies carefully

  • Can we make sense of N.C.’s jobless rate?

    By Dr. Mike Walden

    Guest Columnist

    Economic statistics can be confusing, I know — I’ve been dealing with them as a professional economist for almost 40 years. While some say you can prove anything with statistics, I say, no, you just have to know how to interpret the statistics correctly.

  • Business dreams are ready to be reviewed

    By Dr. Susanne Adams

    Guest Columnist

    Entrepreneurs in Brunswick County looking for support to start or to expand a business may have a new place to turn for assistance in the future — on the Leland campus of Brunswick Community College (BCC).

  • New year holds promise of good times

    We’re not quite into 2016 yet, but I’m already excited about one big event coming up in the new year: Going to my 10th Duran Duran concert.

    Most folks, if they’ve heard of or remember them, dismiss Duran Duran as an ‘80s New Wave group made up of some British guys much too good-looking to be as talented as they actually are. Growing up, my girlfriends and I each had our favorite member of the so-called Fab Five. Mine was tall, dark and handsome bassist John Taylor, and posters of him covered almost every wall of my bedroom.

  • What I want for Christmas is no secret

    One of the local events I look forward to the most each year since I’ve been here at the Beacon is Brunswick Family Assistance’s annual Christmas distribution from here at our old pressroom.

    It does my heart good to see how generous the people of our community are and how much it is appreciated by our neighbors who are struggling to get by and trying their best to improve their station in life. It’s genuinely fun to get out of the office, if only to go as far as the back of the building, and experience the holiday spirit firsthand.

  • Tips for a safe and festive holiday season

    By Roy Cooper

    Guest Columnist

    The holiday season is a great time of year filled with fun activities and time with family. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to avoid crimes, scams and accidents.

  • Needy children ask Santa for little

    By The Rev. Donna Phelps

    Guest Columnist

    At this time of the year, our hearts turn to Christmas, to family and friends gathering around meals, fellowship and giving gifts around the Christmas tree. Yet for some children that is not a possibility.

    For children who do not have a stable home, getting a bed of their own or a pair of glasses so they can read is far more important than a doll, a bike or a computer game.

    Reading the Santa wish lists of children whose families were or have been homeless made me cry.