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Columns

  • A government bailout of the newspaper industry is the last thing it needs

    Everywhere I go the question is always the same: What is the future of newspapers?

    I try my best to forecast where the newspaper industry is headed—opining about how I think community newspapers will outlive dailies, preaching newspapers must befriend not begrudge the Internet and reminding people there will always be the need for quality, objective news.

    But the answer is simple—the newspaper industry is headed where the market takes it.

  • Elderly woman wants others to be aware of possible phone scam

    When 80-year-old Emily Clark got a call from someone alleging to be her grandson last week, she knew fairly quickly something wasn’t quite right.

    The caller said he was in jail in Canada and needed help. Money would be required to bond him out of the pen after he was allegedly involved in a wreck. The caller pleaded with Clark to not call his parents because they told him not to go to Canada. He didn’t want them to know he was there, so instead he called his “grandmother” for help.

  • Why has common sense eluded those enthralled by an alligator?

    Last weekend, an alligator found a new home in a retention pond that’s only a few feet from where I live.

    I’m not a native Brunswick Countian, and I will admit, seeing one of these creatures up-close for the first time is an experience. It’s not like you see those kinds of animals on the shores of Lake Michigan or while you’re walking through the streets of downtown Chicago, so to a Midwesterner, it’s definitely an experience.

  • Preparers submerged in a taxing time of year

    Laura Lewis

    It’s that season when The Tax Ladies are busy, but not too busy to do your taxes without an appointment.

    Situated in a century-old Victorian house on Holden Beach Road, the team of eight tax-savvy women is hard at work assisting taxpayers and preparing returns before the final IRS tax-bell tolls on April 15.

    Yes, it’s a taxing time, but February was actually busier with people scurrying in to get their fast refunds in, Tax Ladies owner and founder Diana White said.

  • N.C.: Saying goodbye to a toxic friend?

    If it passes the Senate, the bill outlawing smoking in public places will become a historic law in North Carolina, the state that built itself on tobacco farming.

    I probably would not be here today if not for tobacco. Farming this cash crop in central North Carolina is how my grandfather made his living and how he put my mother through college. My mom’s first job out of school brought her to Brunswick County, which is how she met my dad. The rest, as they say, is history.

    But I’m not the only one with a generational connection to tobacco.

  • Plan ahead for severe weather; you don’t know when it might strike

    Flashlight? Check.

    Weather radio? Check.

    Cell phone complete with up-to-the-minute weather text alerts? Check.

    Twenty-four-hour-weather station tuned in so I can absorb the three-hour Doppler loop while I sleep? Check.

    Last Friday and Saturday, I huddled on the couch, watching the storms swirl through the southeastern United States heading for the North Carolina coast. No, it wasn’t a hurricane I was worried about—it was the possibility of tornadoes and lightning.

  • Child abuse prevention is everyone’s business

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and local agencies are trying to raise awareness of this critical issue that affects everyone.

    Brunswick County’s Child Protection Team has scheduled its annual Flower Launch event 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at Waterfront Park in Southport.

    According to organizers, the event will shift the focus away from the number of children lost to child abuse to recognizing the agencies and professionals in Brunswick County who work to protect children.

  • Wanted: Access to an open and transparent federal government

    Lace up the ice skates and get out the hockey sticks—hell has frozen over.

    I have a few kind words for Congress. Well, two members of Congress to be specific.

    Anyone who’s ever read my opinion columns knows I’m not the biggest fan of the 111th Congress, and the 110th wasn’t much better. But this week I find myself pleased with the recent actions of two members of Congress—U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre.

    I’m sure you’re curious about the change of heart, so I’ll explain.

  • Don't put all the blame on the Internet

    But the journalistic print edifice will be not be replaced - in my view, there will be no great metro bureaus, no overseas reporting staffs, no full-time investigative teams, no cop house reporters, no City Hall beat. A network of thousands and thousands of young reporters taking notes and asking tough questions —and then writing up their reports in public, for the public—at thousands and thousands of school board and town council meetings on gray Tuesday evenings all around the nation will begin to fade.

    —Tom Watson

  • Uniforms would be a good idea for local schools to take into consideration

    In the community where I grew up and later became a newspaper reporter assigned to cover education, the two public school systems—one a city district and one for the county—are known for being progressive institutions of learning.

    They have drawn a lot of attention for adopting and fine-tuning a year-round education calendar that promotes learning in ways that appear to help young people retain knowledge, without facing the “summer slide.”

    Administrators were also forward thinkers when, years ago, both districts adopted strict dress-code policies.