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Missy Layfield - Editor
11/23/2011 at 3:16pm Delete

With Thanksgiving now past, all the stops are pulled for the biggest holiday season of all-Christmas. Not that any retailers have hesitated to display the red and green baubles and the snowmen and snowflakes in hopes of enticing shoppers to part with their cash or their plastic as early as July this year.

This edition of the Sand Paper arrives on Black Friday, so named for the influx of spending that puts many businesses in the black. Many shoppers can’t resist the lure of a few items at crazy-low prices, designed to get you in the door of the big box stores. Once there, they’re betting on inertia to keep you there and buying.

It’s no secret that most people spend money on Christmas shopping. Many are spending less this year. The economy is tough, the future uncertain. But still most of us will spend some money on holiday purchases.

What if we could make a real difference in our community with that spending?

We have the power to create our own local economic stimulus for our community.

No government money needed. No applications to fill out.

You and I can make a difference in our local economy by spending our holiday dollars in our local community with locally owned businesses.

Not an original idea. Not even a recent idea. Actually the Shop Local movement has been around for decades. Ever since the advent of the big box store. Ever since neighborhood stores started closing when their customers opted to head to the shiny big store in the next town over.

The Shop Local movement picked up steam as small towns watched their locally owned businesses close down. The same folks who cried, "but it’s cheaper at the new store!” began complaining that their small town was looking like a ghost town. And Shop Local efforts were born.
11/17/2011 at 3:59pm Delete

Thanksgiving week-a time to focus on gratitude.

Our nation has institutionalized this cultural tradition emphasizing gratitude. As children we learn of Pilgrims and Indians and their mutual cooperation and shared food. Leaving aside the question of accuracy of that oft-pictured big happy feast in the woods, where I’m pretty sure they didn’t have cranberry sauce with rings on it, our nation has declared the fourth Thursday in November as a national day devoted to gratitude.

This is surprising in a country that prides itself on independence-both personal and national. We strive to do everything ourselves.

Ask for help? We don’t do that.

We all know individuals whose sense of independence and pride have led them to physical injury or illness as they refused to ask for help.

Yet we champion those who help others.

There’s a missing link here. Culturally, we champion individuals who are rugged individuals and do it all themselves. We also champion those philanthropic souls who help others.

When we honor those who ask for no help and those who offer help, we leave a gap-What about those that receive that help?

We seem to have a missing link for those who graciously accept needed help from others.

Except for Thanksgiving Day.

Our culture takes this one day-Thanksgiving-encouraging all of us to realize that whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are all recipients of assistance at one time or another.
11/10/2011 at 4:41pm Delete

Today marks Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to honor and remember those individuals who, over the last 235 years, have been willing to step up and serve our country through military service. The day will be marked by parades, tributes and ceremonies in military cemeteries, including Arlington.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, quiet fell over the battlefields of Europe. A temporary ceasefire was declared, eventually turning into a total cessation of fighting and six months later, the Treaty of Versailles was signed officially ending "The Great War,” so called because no one in 1918 could conceive of a larger or worse war. It was the first war with machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons. It was known as the "war to end all wars.” 9 million lives lost. 21 million wounded.

The next year, President Wilson called for the commemoration of Armistice Day to honor veterans of World War I. In 1926, Congress called for the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, and in 1938 it became a legal Federal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress declared November 11th a day to honor all Veterans and changed the name to Veteran’s Day.

And so it has endured - a day dedicated to honoring America's Veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Over 24 million Veterans live among us today. It would be difficult to find someone who does not have a family member, friend or neighbor who is a Veteran or is still serving. My family proudly claims three generations of living Veterans.
11/03/2011 at 3:47pm Delete

Florida’s controversial new voting rules came under fire this week again from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson when he called again for a congressional investigation into those new rules.

The voting rules passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law in May by Governor Rick Scott reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, required registration of anyone registering voters and gave them 48 hours to turn in voter registration forms. The new rules also call for anyone making an address change from one county to another at the polls to fill out a provisional ballot. That means it is not counted on Election Day. If you want it to be counted, and why else would you go to the effort of voting, you have 2 days to bring proof of your address to the County Elections office.

Nelson has opposed the new voting laws since they were first proposed, claiming that they make it harder to vote. This week, after two high school teachers were named as violating the new voter registration law, he called for a congressional investigation, to see if the new voting laws are part of "an orchestrated effort to disenfranchise voters.”

The new voting rules seem aimed at the poor, students and minorities--groups that tend to lean Democratic on election day. The elderly, often a swing group, are also heavily affected. All these groups tend to register to vote through voter registration drives.