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  • July 29, 2015

Dunwoody Crier: Our Columnists

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Our Columnists

Tuesday 07/28/2015
New pioneer family discovered
Posted: July 28, 2015 - 10:32 am

Recently, I wrote about the major clean up taking place at Stephen Martin Cemetery. The football players from Dunwoody High School put in many hours and are planning to return. The cemetery is located behind the shopping center on Hammond Drive, which includes Best Buy, Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack.

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Performance compared to what?
Updated: July 28, 2015 - 10:22 am

The question seems simple. “How’s my portfolio doing?” The answer isn’t so simple: “Compared to what?”

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Tuesday 07/21/2015
Shopping local just might save you money
Updated: July 21, 2015 - 10:01 am

I read a fascinating article in the AJC titled, “Shopping local cuts impulse buying.” The premise is that steering away from big box stores, and instead spending your money in smaller local shops, results in spending less money.

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Lessons from a Greek tragedy
Updated: July 21, 2015 - 9:38 am

If you borrow money, you are expected to pay it back according to the terms of the loan. If you lend money, you expect repayment plus interest as agreed. These are fundamental tenets of free enterprise, global commerce and common sense. Not so much in Greece. Are there lessons learned for you as a citizen and for personal financial planning?

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Tuesday 07/14/2015
Save the Brook Run Theater
Updated: July 14, 2015 - 10:07 am

Is Dunwoody on the verge of losing an historic treasure?

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The great stuff dump
Updated: July 14, 2015 - 9:52 am

The last of the baby boomer generation turns 51 this year. In 1963 when the oldest boomer was 17, “Little Deuce Coup” by the Beach Boys was a runaway hit. This writer remembers thinking that a T-bird convertible would be dude nirvana. The closest I came was a 1964 Mustang.

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Tuesday 07/07/2015
John Denver’s ‘Almost Heaven’ to be shown under stars
Updated: July 07, 2015 - 10:58 am

I’m having a flashback, not to my childhood but to 2013, when my husband and I saw “Almost Heaven,” John Denver’s America at the Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell. The original cast from the 2013 production is back to perform the play at the Chattahoochee Nature Center July 23 – Aug. 8. It seems fitting that it can now be enjoyed outdoors, and I can only imagine that John Denver would be pleased.

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Independence Day parade dodges first raindrops in 24 years
Posted: July 07, 2015 - 10:49 am

There is always a first time – it finally did happen. It rained on our parade. That has never happened in the 24 years since the parade’s comeback in 1991. Rain or shine the parade goes on. Thank you Dunwoody! What a show of support and love of community. A little rain didn’t stop us.

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Creating your own safety net
Updated: July 07, 2015 - 10:27 am

With the recession of 2008, companies of all stripes encountered a need to be more nimble in an increasingly competitive global economy within a highly compressed cycle of change. In June, Mega-bank HSBC announced the sale of units in various countries, shedding 50,000 jobs in a global realignment. Firms and employees must be more flexible as to where specific jobs and roles are located and what skill sets are utilized. The old concept, so last century, “if you stay here and do a good job, you have employment for life,” is dead. The corporate safety net is dead. What now?

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Tuesday 06/30/2015
Natural law and financial independence
Updated: June 30, 2015 - 1:25 pm

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So reads “the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” entered into Congress July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence does not guarantee happiness, it merely gives you rights to pursue happiness within the bounds of morality and the precepts of civil law. The declaration of 1776 was a throwback to the Magna Carta which codified certain rights within the rule of law to protect citizens from the whims of kings and despots. The Constitution of the United States of America was enacted in 1787. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were enacted Dec. 15, 1791, limiting the powers of the federal government and protecting the rights of American citizens, residents, and visitors. We might pause this July 4 to ponder current debates over the immense growth of federal power versus the states and individuals. Have we strayed too far from our constitutional roots? Consider debates surrounding religious freedom and state versus church. The foundational document for the Constitution acknowledges God as the ultimate source of our rights, a link to the natural law treatise by Saint Thomas Aquinas in his master work, Summa Theologica. As the Declaration of Independence acknowledges, our basic rights come from God and are derived from nature, the Natural Law, which, posits Aquinas, is “nothing else than the rational creatures participation in the eternal law.” The eternal law is God’s wisdom in creating the “directive norm of all movement and action.” All things, inanimate and living, have a purpose. Mankind, as a unique creation of high order, is destined by God for an end. Animals, even chimpanzees with whom we share 98.4 percnt of DNA, operate from instinct, whereas humans have been endowed with the power of free will. Believers accept that God created us for a purpose tied to the gift of eternal life, and we receive from Him direction toward this end. With intelligence, the power of reasoning and free will, we can accept God’s laws or the directives of civil society or we can reject them. Built into man’s nature is a basic understanding of what is good for us and what is not, and if we are to live in an orderly society, certain things are required. Humanists and atheists along with believers accept the fact that stealing, murder, and cheating are not acceptable norms. We accept that not running red lights is in our best interest. We recognize that paying taxes is necessary for a functioning society even as we debate what is fair. Eating and drinking are essential to life, while gluttony and drunkenness are destructive. We see wisdom in helping those who cannot help themselves while decrying those who abuse welfare and the generosity of citizens. While rooted in human instincts aimed at self-preservation, we applaud work and achievement as a societal good. The ethical pursuit of financial independence is a good of the highest order. The entrepreneur, inventor, creators of new ideas, processes, and technical advancements, diligent professionals and workers of all stripes, investors and lenders—all advance society. Jobs are created and sustained. Taxes are paid, the common good is funded. Your pursuit of financial independence and happiness for yourself and those who you love and care for is an extension of the natural law and the eternal law. Debt used responsibly can be good and accretive to wealth. Irresponsible debt destroys individuals, couples, families, and companies. It also destroys nations. Will our United States remain free and independent if we owe our souls and future treasure to global bond holders? I asked a Greek taxi driver questions along those lines and his answers are not printable in a family newspaper. So hoist an American beer in honor of our forefathers who gave so much to give us the rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in the land of the free and home of the brave. Pray that it will always be so! Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management, LLC. Certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Walker Capital Management, LLC. lewisw@theinvestmentcoach.com

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A shared garden with two families' personal histories
Updated: June 30, 2015 - 1:12 pm

I keep going along as the accompanying spouse of my wife when she goes on excursions with Kathy Hanna’s Conservation Committee of the Dunwoody Women’s Club. About two more such tag along visits with them and I’ll have to go all Bruce Jenner on you and apply for official membership. My latest visit was a real treat. In the backyards of several houses in The Briars North subdivision lies a striking and memorable garden. The garden consists of approximately one-half acre of land broken into several smaller garden areas including a pond with a waterfall, a rose garden, a gracious and soothing lawn and a sitting area with its own waterfall memorial. It is truly a labor of love. Suzanne Conreaux, owner of the fabulous Blooms of Dunwoody flower shop in The Village, jointly developed this garden with her neighbor, Dr. Bob Gold. It has an interesting history. Some years ago Suzanne and her husband were able to purchase a half-acre of land bordering their back yard. Not too long after, Dr. Gold, approached them with an offer to buy that piece of land from them. They were not interested in selling. They had been trying to buy that half-acre for nine years before finally reaching an agreement with the seller. However, further discussions with Dr. Gold revealed that, like Suzanne, he wanted the land to build a garden. His interest was not just a garden, but a memorial garden to his recently deceased wife, Jane. Through all the discussions, Dr. Gold and the Conreaux’s realized that they had a common objective and decided to share the building of the garden. They contacted James Tackett of JTL Landscaping, and together they all worked out a plan that included a memorial rose garden for the late Jane Gold and additional gardens for everyone to share. They offered access to the garden to their neighbors if they wanted to share in the development of the space. Most did and subsequently re-landscaped their backyards to reflect the style of the larger shared garden. All participating homeowners now have gated access to the garden as well as a picturesque backdrop to their own private, well landscaped yards. The garden was started three years ago with the removal of trees that had been neglected and subsequently over grown with poison ivy and other vines. There were also lots and lots of weeds, privet, English ivy and other noxious growth. The removal of all of this enabled them to create a large sunny area for planting. The recent two hard winters since the garden was first planted have dented the growth of some of the original plantings, but enough remain in great condition to make this a truly spectacular space. Dr. Gold recently remarried, and the wedding was held in the garden. I can’t imagine a much more beautiful spot. I was able to visit this private garden in connection with the Dunwoody Women’s Club. Suzanne Conreaux and Blooms of Dunwoody are great supporters of the Women’s Club’s annual Dunwoody Home Tour. Suzanne, through a connection with Kathy Hanna of the Women’s Club, arranged for a visit and tour of their gardens. I managed to tag along as the husband of a Club member. It was a most generous offer by Suzanne. I continue to find little hidden gems like this throughout Dunwoody. I am very impressed with what our neighbors have done to promote gardening and their willingness to share their gardens with our readers. Jeff Coghill has been gardening in DeKalb County for more than 35 years and has probably killed at least one of each kind of plant he has tried before getting another one to thrive. He is a gardening volunteer at the Dunwoody Nature Center and works closely with members of the DeKalb Master Gardeners group. He can be reached at dunwoodygardener@yahoo.com.

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Tuesday 06/23/2015
Radio brought family and friends together
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:51 am

Long before the days of computers, tablets, smart phones and television, radio was a source of entertainment for families. Families gathered around the radio to listen to their favorite programs or to hear the news of the nation and the world. At the Adams family home in 1940’s Dunwoody, Saturday night was a time for family and neighbors to gather and listen to the Grand Old Opry radio show.

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Area spas cover your skin and massage needs
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:47 am

I’ve long been a client of Angela Michael Skincare & Spa.

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Who is your beneficiary?
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:40 am

Often it takes a calamity close to home or the loss of a loved one or friend to prompt us to focus on our own mortality. When you die, who gets your stuff?

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Mayor wants citizen input on park master plan
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:41 am

Dunwoody thrives on public involvement and input.  Community feedback has helped the city plan for the future and create public spaces and amenities reflective of the character and personality of the people who live here.  

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Dunwoody cyclist enthralled by potential of trails
Updated: June 23, 2015 - 9:34 am

For the first time I rode my bicycle on the Atlanta Beltline, Eastside Trail, Path, Presidential/Freedom Parkway trails, etc.  I did a 3-hour ride this morning.  All the trails are nicely connected.  I’ve been curious and interested in it.  It was even better than I thought.

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Wednesday 06/17/2015
Jeep Cherokee Limited 4x4 is perfect for family road trips
Updated: June 17, 2015 - 11:15 am

Road trip! Those two words can put great fear — or excitement — into a parent’s heart. Of course, a lot of it is the logistics — getting the kids into the car with all the proper luggage, snacks, music and electronic devices to keep them occupied for hours at a time. The other is the vehicle. The wrong car or SUV can prompt an automatic trip to the chiropractor as well as general nervousness about driving a car that isn’t up to the trip.

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Tuesday 06/16/2015
Millar wants to learn from Swiss education system
Posted: June 16, 2015 - 8:33 am

This is a thought provoking article written by Dr. Gene Bottoms, Senior Vice President for Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). While you may not agree with all the points, there certainly are lessons to be learned.

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What happens when your paycheck stops?
Posted: June 16, 2015 - 8:37 am

A breadwinner is accustomed to a regular paycheck, bread coming in like clockwork each pay period. What happens if the paychecks stop? Are you, or your family, toast?

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Tuesday 06/09/2015
Dunwoody’s new apothecary is a pleasant step back in time
Updated: June 09, 2015 - 9:43 am

Enchanting—that’s the word that comes to mind when I think of the Highland Apothecary, a recent addition to the Dunwoody community. I had seen the Crier ad, but it was roving reporter Dixie Tailor who got me in the door. She stopped by Highland Apothecary and emailed me that I just had to visit and even scanned a flyer and business card to entice me. I was there in a matter of days.

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Propelling a strengths-based student
Posted: June 09, 2015 - 9:29 am

In our post-2008/2009 slow growth recovery, many college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, leading some to speculate whether college is worth it. What if some of the planning for college is just plain wrong? Does the future bode ill for millions of unprepared, untrained, or misdirected job seekers?

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Tuesday 06/02/2015
Fonde’s garden is woodland wonder
Updated: June 02, 2015 - 9:14 am

Richard and Nancy Fonde have a lovely home in the Sandy Springs area that I still call Dunwoody. But, even better, they have a lovely lot with 1.5 acres of tended woods beside a pretty little stream. It’s not so much a garden as it is a naturalized woodland wonder. They are really nice people, too.

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To the class of 2015
Updated: June 02, 2015 - 9:07 am

The graduation parties are over. Your diploma is at the frame shop. Now what? What’s next in your life transition? College, graduate school, a job, the military? What is your strategy for moving forward with passion and purpose?

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Tuesday 05/26/2015
Nell’s celebrates 25 years in Dunwoody
Updated: May 26, 2015 - 9:00 am

Spring and summer bring tomatoes, butter beans, peaches, lady peas, corn on the cob, watermelon—all from Nell’s produce stand under the red and white tent. 2014 marked Nell’s 25th year in business, and the anniversary was commemorated by her new neighbor, Chick-Fil-A. I just happened to be there that Saturday to pick up my usual weekly supply of fruits and veggies, so I stumbled across the celebration in progress.

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Taking off this summer
Updated: May 26, 2015 - 8:50 am

June 21 marks the 2015 summer solstice, the official debut of summer. In the minds of most, summer activities start Memorial Day weekend. What travel adventures are on your bucket list?

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Tuesday 05/19/2015
A matter of interest
Updated: May 19, 2015 - 10:00 am

Investors worry about Federal Reserve Bank policy and rising interest rates. The question has been “how much, how soon,” not “if?”

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Tuesday 05/12/2015
Horton’s ‘Songs and Stories of the Civil War’ on tap
Updated: May 12, 2015 - 8:00 am

Back by popular demand, Bobby Horton will transport you to the days of the Civil War and share his love of music and history this June 3. The Dunwoody Preservation Trust presented Bobby Horton last September and are happy to announce his return to Dunwoody as part of their HistoryAlive series.

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What if your assumptions are wrong?
Updated: May 12, 2015 - 7:50 am

We know what happened in the past but the future largely is supposition. We seek forecasters and gurus who we believe can tell us what is likely to happen in the future. All plans, including your financial plans, are based on assumptions. What if an assumption integral to your life and wellbeing is wrong?

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Tuesday 05/05/2015
My other mother
Posted: May 05, 2015 - 10:50 am

This column was adapted from a Mother’s Day blog written in 2014.

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Virtue in staying put
Updated: May 05, 2015 - 10:40 am

The New York Times Magazine ran a column by Virginia Heffernan, titled “Staying Power.” A commentary on changing trends in society reflected in movies, the piece offered philosophical precepts applicable to financial planning and investment strategies.

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Monday 05/04/2015
BMW 228i convertible provides speed, safety and a terrific driving experience
Updated: May 04, 2015 - 2:15 pm

My neighbor drives a BMW 228i and loves it. You can tell just by how he takes a tight curve into his driveway and how he pulls out with speed in the morning. To him, this BMW is his man cave. So we were a bit skeptical that we would like this 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine. Would it be an estrogen-challenged car that would overwhelm with its power?

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Tuesday 04/28/2015
Milkweed project can unite community
Updated: April 28, 2015 - 9:48 am

A while back I wrote in this column about the plight of the Monarch butterflies.

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Volatility and the art of prediction
Updated: April 28, 2015 - 9:35 am

Whenever the stock market hits a speed bump, investors wonder, “Where is the market headed?” On Friday, April 17, global markets wobbled with anxieties over Greece (again!), corporate earnings, new trading restrictions to cool China’s hot stock market, and a technology hiccup in Bloomberg computer networks that disrupted global trading for several hours.

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Wednesday 04/22/2015
Lexus CT 200h hybrid hatchback delivers gas savings, reliability and style
Updated: April 22, 2015 - 1:02 pm

Our first car was a Toyota Corolla 5-door hatchback, and the hatchback is still our favorite type of car (well, wouldn't a convertible hatchback be awesome?). We drove that hatchback for seven years until the bottom literally fell out and we learned the importance of regular oil changes.

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Tuesday 04/21/2015
Too many books? Never. Dunwoody Library sale won’t help
Updated: April 21, 2015 - 9:30 am

Books! A girl can never have too many books. Well, I could say that about shoes too, but if I were asked to choose between more books or more shoes, I’d have to choose books. I know that neither my husband nor my girlfriends will believe that, but it’s true. I read at least two books a week, mostly mysteries. When I first moved to Dunwoody, Walden Books on Holcomb Bridge and Borders Books on Ashford Dunwoody were still open, and while I rarely paid full price for books, I bought plenty of their sale books. Since their demise, I can often be found at a Barnes & Noble location perusing their sale books.

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A wakeup call at 50
Updated: April 21, 2015 - 9:19 am

A little over 3.7 million people were born in the U.S. in 1965. Some died between then and now, but add immigration and we could see roughly 4 million people celebrate their 50th birthday this year. Something interesting happens on one’s 50th birthday, a change of mindset that impacts personal financial and life transitions planning. Age 50 is a wakeup call.

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Tuesday 04/14/2015
A local travel agency makes personal connections
Updated: April 14, 2015 - 9:29 am

This is another tale of making connections in the Dunwoody community. I haven’t used a travel agent in years, and way back when I did, it was just for airfare. Since then, I’ve made my personal travel plans using the internet.

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Early Dunwoody history on display at Lemonade Days
Posted: April 14, 2015 - 9:25 am

While you are at Lemonade Days this weekend, stop by the history tent and enjoy the collection of photographs of early Dunwoody, including historic schools, churches, homes, and maps of the Hightower Indian Trial.

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Market outlook going forward
Updated: April 14, 2015 - 9:16 am

The first quarter of 2015 ended midst relief that perhaps the harsh winter weather was over as signs of spring energized consumers and travelers. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s International Terminal was packed with “spring breakers” and families headed south to Caribbean climes. Despite a year-over-year increase in domestic airfares of about 14 percent, demand for travel is up, indicating rising consumer confidence. How do trends stack up for financial markets for the balance of 2015?

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Everything you wanted to know about General Assembly
Updated: April 14, 2015 - 9:19 am

Below are the major bills that were passed in the 2015 General Assembly Legislative Session:

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Wednesday 04/08/2015
Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.OT doubles as a fan favorite and family car
Updated: April 08, 2015 - 6:30 am

As many definitions as there seems to be today of “family,” there are as many definitions of a “family car.” But to us, the sedan fits the bill as an adult car that can accommodate two kids and a dog while being able to drive down the highway without “Frozen” blaring from a TV in the back seats. In fact, it fits five comfortably so you can add the kid down the street as well.

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Tuesday 04/07/2015
What technology cannot replace
Updated: April 07, 2015 - 7:53 am

My friend complained, “My Smartphone is smarter than I am!”

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Tuesday 03/31/2015
Time for spring plant sales, Monarchs and Margaritas
Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:27 am

It’s officially springtime now. The trees are budding, the daffodils are blooming, the plum trees are all pinked out and the birds are he-ing and she-ing. It must be time for plant sales.

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Dining choices constantly in flux hereabouts
Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:28 am

When a few friends were planning a weeknight dinner outing, I sent out a list of options: Simply Thai, California Pizza Kitchen, Little Azio’s, Marlow’s, O’ Brian’s, Village Burger. I was surprised when a girlfriend responded that Little Azio’s had closed.

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Last week of legislative session is ‘dangerous time’
Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:16 am

It was a busy week in the legislature and we have two days remaining with adjournment scheduled April 2:

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Tax law confusion on gains and losses
Updated: March 31, 2015 - 9:17 am

As April 15 approaches, investors recognize that they must report gains or losses on sales of securities in 2014. If you sold stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) or other securities last year, you have received a tax form from your bank, broker, or custodian. Data covers the sale of covered securities and non-covered securities. What does that mean?

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Monday 03/30/2015
Nissan’s Murano’s redesign brings style, innovation and comfort
Posted: March 30, 2015 - 2:20 pm

Nissan’s commercial calls the Murano the most “Social car ever designed,” and while we’re not sure exactly what it means, the Murano is a car where it is easy to sit back, enjoy the ride in comfortable seats and, in fact, have a conversation. It may not make one go from the car to the dance floor, as in the commercial, but it does inspire interaction due to its open design and roominess.

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Tuesday 03/24/2015
Daffodils, roses and a bench for Dunwoody’s steel magnolia
Updated: March 24, 2015 - 9:39 am

Joyce Amacher: Dunwoody’s quintessential southern lady. I’m pretty sure if you squint in certain light you can actually see tiny stars trailed by sparkling silver dust flying out of Joyce Amacher’s head.

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Taylor will hold independent school district bill until 2016
Updated: March 24, 2015 - 9:39 am

As we begin this week, the legislative session for 2015 is drawing rapidly to a close. This coming Friday, March 27, will mark Legislative Day 38 of 40, leaving the last two legislative days until next week.

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Millar supports transport bill, trying to shape new cities
Updated: March 24, 2015 - 9:25 am

Now the session begins! I am going to make some assumptions since it is early Monday morning.

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