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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 4:00 AM
    There certainly can be a world of difference between Republicans and Democrats. However, in Montgomery County the only thing dividing them is a fence in the Pleasant Meadows housing addition.
    That’s because new GOP Chair Dan Guard and new Democratic Party Chair Virginia Servies live there and their backyards are divided by a fence. And while they may not be best friends, they appear to be friendly neighbors.
    “Dan sprays the weeds back there and we wave at each other,” Servies explained. 
    “Yes,” Guard agreed. “I see her out there and we wave and say hi.”
    Since filing for political office began on Jan. 10, the two new party bosses were kind enough recently to chat with The Paper and share a few thoughts about their new roles.
    Guard said that his job is simple. “I’m here to facilitate meetings and try to make sure that everyone elected has an R behind their name.”
    Since Montgomery County is heavily Republican, Servies looks at it a little differently.
    “We’ll let the Republicans fight it out (in the Primary) and see who comes out,” she explained. 
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  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 4:00 AM
    Word has it that after a few years of real struggles MUFFY – Montgomery United Fund For You – is rebounding.
    Big time.
    As in BIG TIME!
    There’s no official word out of MUFFY yet – and a phone call to the offices ended with a very straight-faced answer neither confirming nor denying that the 2017 drive may indeed top last year’s total.
    So, could be I’ve got this dead wrong. But I’m hoping I don’t.
    You see, it wasn’t too long ago that even getting in the same neighborhood as last year $400K+ amount looked like a long shot. A really, really long shot. 
    Enter new executive director Terry Armstrong and associate director Kara Edie. Those two are the driving forces behind turning around what could have been described as a sinking ship.
    Sinking ship? It’s not too big a stretch.
    It’s been 10 years since MUFFY last topped the half-million dollar mark in its annual fund drive. Since then, drive results at best fluctuated between $420K to $450K, and just five years ago dropped as low as $382K.
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  • Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:00 AM
    Dear President Trump.
    I’d like to begin by thanking you for your service. I’m sure the job is not an easy one and I appreciate that you stepped up to take it on.
    Let me also add that I voted for you. To be honest, I didn’t see that I had much choice. Despite my good friend Ed’s urging, I simply could not bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton. Besides, I really liked the idea that a man with a business and not a political background would serve in the White House. I believe I’m like an awful lot of Americans who have had it up to my eyeballs with self-serving politicians and lobbyists. I don’t believe we have many problems that term limits and common sense wouldn’t solve, but like most of those Americans, I hold almost no hope for either anytime soon.
    Sir, I write you today because after a year I see an awful lot of good things happening. The economy is strong. Some say it’s because of your predecessor. Others say it’s a vote of confidence in you. I don’t care. I’m an owner of a small business and whatever helps us pay decent wages, hire more people and serve our customers is all good in my book.
    Besides the economy, there are other bright points. You got NATO countries to pony up so the U.S. is not shouldering the entire financial burden of our alliance. Neither presidents Bush nor Obama were able to do that. You’ve gotten tough on terrorism and the military experts say we are better for that. I believe them, and I thank you.
    But, and you knew there had to be a but coming, right . . . I’m concerned about some other things.
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  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017 4:00 AM
    Wrapping paper everywhere, tinsel and pine needles in the carpet and memories to last at least until next year, another Christmas has come and gone. For me, it’s hard to believe this was my 61st. Then again, it’s hard for me to believe I ever left my teens.
    (Yeah, yeah, insert snarky comments here!)
    So here we are in the week between the two holidays. It’s a time of joy, but also a time when schedules are an absolute wreck and some of us are looking forward to getting things back to a more normal schedule. It’s also a week where some of us look ahead, perhaps set some goals and plans. So, without further ado, here’s a look at the little company that could. Where we are, where we are going and maybe even what we want to be when we grow up.
    To begin with, we’re right here this week . . . but our offices are closed. I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but we’re following the lead of a lot of businesses that shut down for a week to do maintenance and some organization. Many of you know we moved to our new location at the wonderful Athena Center a few months ago. Truth to tell I still haven’t found a few things I had in my old office . . . like a desk. I know I had one someplace.
    Fret not, though. As you can tell, we are continuing to publish each day. That’s what seven days a week, 365 days a year is all about!
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  • Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:00 AM
    He knocked.
    I couldn’t believe it. John Hammer, the behemoth of a man who actually giggled the last time he snuck in and shocked the daylights out of me, knocked on my door. No heart attack. No stealth. 
    He knocked.
    Made me worry.
    Is he sick?
    “G’morning John,” I said. “Not really used to a knock from you.”
    The man called the Hammer shuffled in. I’ve seen him look like this a few times before . . . usually when he was dropping off a Christmas present. John may be quick with an opinion but social skills are not his strong suit.
    “The Missus made this for you and your family,” he said, handing me a box that smelled like it just came out of the oven. Last year the present was some of the best home-made cookies and bread I ever tasted.
    “John, thank you very much,” I said. “Your visits, even when they scare the snot out of me, are always a pleasure.”
    He nodded. Like I said, when Hammer has a point to pound home he has no equal. Small talk? Not so much.
    “You guys going anywhere for Christmas?” I asked, knowing that John never ventured far from home.
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  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on an Alfred E. Neuman for President bumper sticker . . . 
    I’ve never rooted against an American in the Olympics, but skier Lindsey Vonn sure is making it tempting.
    Vonn was being interviewed by CNN – more on that in a moment – and said that she would not accept an invitation to the White House . . . because, wait for it, of President Donald Trump.
    Listen, I don’t care if Trump, Obama, Harry Truman or Minnie Mouse is the president. If an athlete is invited to the peoples’ house in Washington, D.C., put your personal feelings aside, throw on those big boy or big girl pants and go!
    Vonn can like or dislike anything she wants – she certainly has that privilege. But a whole lot of athletes (and others) in this country seem to forget that they can and should respect the office.
    I’m sick and tired of petty politics that get in the way of everything else, so if Vonn wants to make it personal that’s fine with me. When it comes to Olympic skiing, I’ll be rooting for her teammates, her opponents, the officials and anyone except her.
    And before I hop off the soapbox, hey CNN – what the hell kind of question were you asking? I heard the interview and the questions were all about Donald Trump. I don’t seem to recall you asking any of the Olympic athletes on their way to Vancouver, London, Sochi or Rio de Janeiro if they would accept invites from President Barack Obama. Of course I’m getting up there in age because surely a splendid news organization like CNN wouldn’t slant their questions . . . 
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  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 4:00 AM
    By now you know the drill. It’s Saturday morning. The office is closed, doors locked. The place is dark. And quiet. It’s my favorite time of the week because I tend to get a lot done. 
    That was exactly the scenario and I was deep in paperwork when- 
    There are specific moments in life when things become crystal clear. It was in that moment that I was certain I was in the beginning stages of a massive heart attack. My vision clouded. I lost my breath. My chest pounded. I was afraid to check my pants.
    He was giggling. Actually giggling. John the incredible hulk Hammer giggling? 
    “You need to learn how to relax, Timmons,” he said. “You remind me of that cartoon cat that ended up on the ceiling when the dog came up behind him and barked.”
    “Yeah, well, I’m glad I can give you some entertainment,” I grumbled as I let go of the ceiling . . . but Hammer wasn’t giggling anymore. Not even smiling.
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  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 4:00 AM
    Like any business, we’ve had a few hits and misses along the way. While I won’t say I enjoy the misses, there are a couple of hits that have worked out pretty well. The Sunday Edition has certainly been a huge hit – perhaps our biggest. Creating Readers’ Choice back in 2005 has been a pretty big deal, too. But truth to tell, the Challenge has been one of our hits that has become my favorite.
    That’s because of the people involved.
    If you are not familiar with the Challenge, it is roughly based on the television show The Biggest Loser. What we do is bring together a group of community-minded individuals who want to lose some weight. We partner with the great folks at Athena Sport & Fitness and Franciscan Health and run a 10-week program. 
    We raise money that has gone to local non-profits in the past and now to fitness and literacy programs for young people. 
    And we work with great people. 
    That’s been the fun part for me. I won’t name names because out of the nearly 70 participants we’ve had over the last few years I would be sure to miss someone. However, I’ve got to share one story about one person who’s going through the Challenge a second time.
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  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 4:00 AM
    A man much older and wiser than me once told me I had the most diverse taste in music of anyone he knew. From the Oak Ridge Boys to the Archies, from Bobby Darrin to Jerry Reed, from Janis Joplin to Donna Summer, from the Andrews Sisters to ZZ Top . . . truth to tell, there aren’t many types of music I don’t like – at least a little. Shucks, I even told my better half that it’d be kind of cool to have bagpipes at my funeral – a response which went over about as well as, uh, well, bagpipes playing.
    At any rate, we had just seen the new Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok and I had Led Zeppelin’s classic Immigrant Song playing at a level the good folks at Beltone wouldn’t have been happy with. It was just me, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and –
    “HOLY CRAP!”
    John Hammer, a ginormous man with hands the size of ham hocks, was suddenly standing in my doorframe – the entire doorframe. I hadn’t heard him come in. Then again, I never hear him come in. I can’t prove this, but I think he takes great delight in somehow coming into our offices when they are closed and waiting until I least expect it and – BAM! It’s like Emeril on steroids.
    “People don’t deserve to be happy,” the big man growled in a voice that made 10 miles of gravel road sound smooth. 
    “Well Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, John,” I managed while still trying to catch my breath. “But dang, even for you that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?”
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  • Tuesday, November 14, 2017 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of a David Henry Thomsett album . . . 
    Last week, we sent out an e-mail notice that many of you got and that prompted a lot of good questions – and surprisingly – a lot of understanding and agreement. So, to share all the answers . . . 
    • Yes, we are raising our subscription rates Jan. 1. 
    • Yes, this includes a small charge for our daily Online Edition.
    • Yes, the price will include our new and immensely popular Sunday Edition.
    In addition, let me add a little more.
    • Yes, this is our first across-the-board circulation rate increase since we started in 2004.
    • Yes, we have grown dramatically and are nearing 10,000 customers for the first time in our company’s history.
    • Yes, we hope that after more than 13 years you will forgive us this one small price increase.
    • And yes, if you sign up now for a year you can get 15 months for the price of 12 AT THE OLD RATE!
    Just for the record, annual home delivery rates are going from $88 to $99 – still far cheaper than any other newspaper in these parts. Our six-month rate is going from $48 to $59 and we are going to charge $3.99 per month (or $42 a year) for the Online Edition, which comes out seven days a week, 365 days a year – including every Sunday and holiday!
    Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a pitchman, but think about this. It’s still the cheapest price around and The Paper is the fastest growing newspaper for miles and miles! Oh, and did I mention our Sunday Edition? It averages 33 pages a week (isn’t that great how online can be an odd number – try doing that in print!) and includes all kinds of cool reading on travel, books, Montgomery County’s most popular columns from the sports and news worlds, a respectful and complete collection of the week’s obituaries, a calendar of local events, a super-colorful and useful page for the younger members of our audience and more and more and more! One reader told us that he sat there with a cup of coffee and his tablet and finished the whole pot before he got done reading!
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  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 4:00 AM
    Shootings in America seem to bring out all sorts of debates except the important one – what can we do to stop this?
    No offense all you on the far right and far left, but don’t send me the worn-out debates about gun control, personal rights and the rest. I won’t get baited into the argument that defines guns as the problem . . . or the solution. Some of you folks can cuss and discuss that to your heart’s content.
    Isn’t it time we focused on what’s wrong with our society today? Isn’t it time we focused on us?
    I read a James Dobson Focus on Family column a few years back where he talked about music lyrics. I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist was pretty simple. In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, lyrics tended to focus on golly-gee-willikers-everything-is-swell scenarios. Little by little over the decades, things changed. We went from I love my dad to I want to kill my parents to I want to kill myself to . . . well, you get the idea.
    And no, no, no, I am not laying the blame of mass shootings on rock’n’roll. Bear with me.
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  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:00 AM
    Got to admit, I’m not crazy about the recent turn to cold weather. As I get older I really like warm weather. I hate to admit that – the part about getting older, I mean.
    I especially dislike cold temps at Halloween. It’s fun to watch kids, young and old, get into the Halloween spirit (no pun intended). Cold and crappy weather tend to put a lid on the fun, know what I mean?
    At least that’s what I was thinking sitting here at the World Wide Headquarters of our little media empire when the phone snapped me back to attention.
    “The Paper, Timmons.”
    “This here’s the operator. Would you accept a ghoul to gobblin collect call from Sammy Terry?”
    This here? Ghoul to gobblin? Sammy Terry? This could only be . . . 
    “Hello Bubba.”
    For folks who don’t know Bubba Castiron, he introduced himself a few years ago. He’s not a bad guy but he would lose a debate with a bar of soap.
    “Aww heck, Timmons. How’d you know it was me? I figured today being Halloween and all I’d get you with the fake operator gag.”
    “Nice try, Bubba but I don’t even know if they do collect calls any more. And besides, Bob Carter passed away a few years ago.”
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  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017 4:00 AM
    Hard to believe The Challenge, an idea roughly based on the TV show, The Biggest Loser, has been around long enough to get Roman numerals. But what the heck. Rather than call it Challenge 2017, Challenge IV has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
    At any rate, tonight begins the third week of 10 and this is a pretty impressive group. First off, it’s a group of 17, one of the larger sizes we’ve had. Second, there are a few folks who are back for another go – including yours truly. My main job, however, is to not slow down everyone else and I’ll tell you – that’s a challenge all by itself.
    What’s special about this group is their determination. In the three previous Challenges, there’s been a fair amount of grumbling and griping about the workouts. I know because I did some of that G&G myself. This group? About the only thing I hear them say is: We got this!
    And that they do! 
    What’s amazing to me is how this has grown and grown. We had 16 participants last time and that was our biggest to date. So we’ve topped that record and we’ve even had two people join after things got started this year. Clearly, there’s some traction being gained here.
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  • Monday, October 9, 2017 5:07 PM
    Tim Timmons tells you a little about himself, his goals and why he wants to take on The Challenge IV.
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The Paper of Montgomery County,
a division of Sagamore News Media 
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