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Forsyth, Georgia
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June 26, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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"Declare among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard, & EDITORIALS publish, and conceal not." - Jeremiah 50:2 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 wirmer: Ediloria! Page excellence~ 2017, 20111 winner:. Best Headline Writing /O~~ 2019 winner:. Best C i'y Service I~l~J~! 201Q win.r: Best I ayout and Design ~"~~51 2019 winnen Best Serious Column - Don Daniel '~YeA~,4[~'J ON THE PORCH by Will Davis 'e WfourWe found her, she had had a rough life. But so we of late. family adopted our first Great Pyrenees in 17 and while we loved Asian, her puppy antics were wearing us out. There were destroyed blinds. Late-night barking competitions (she always won). And she thought our hands were chew toys. Finally our famity decided we knew what we needed. Yes, another Great Pyrenees. But this one, we hoped, would be an older, wiser Pyrenees, slow of motion and a sedative to our hyper puppy whom we re-named Spaz-lan. We found Danica in May 2018 through the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Atlanta group. Her foster morn told us she had fostered Pyrenees dogs for many years and Danica was the sweetest she had ever kept. Danica was great with her small children and her other dogs, she said. We had both as well. And she seemed to show no ill effects of a rough background. She was found as a stray. The rescue group discovered that she had metal in her teeth, an indica- tion her former owners kept her on a chain which she had tried to escape, perhaps during a storm. Rescuers also found a bad infec- tion in her right eye, which had to be removed. She was Popeye. We took our five-year-old boy to meet the five-year-old dog in Stone Mountain. He was smitten, and so were we. She was so laid back we could've called her Honey Badger. She was the manatee of the dog world. She even got along with Spaz-lan. We got her in the car and as I tried to get on 1-285, she was trying to sit in my lap. She was so affectionate. Our little boy hugged her neck every time he passed her, sometimes in ways that looked more like the WWF. But she always let him. And he changed her name. Our boy started calling her Danico. Then it became Cocoa` And that stuck. And she did help with Asian. They would gnaw on each other and as a result the puppy was biting us less. But after awhile Aslan got prettyjealous. One time she took a chunk out of her back, and poor Cocoa had to wear the Cone of Shame, the infamous lamp shade, while her back drained and healed. But since we moved to the country in they seemed to be fighting less. And Cocoa was loving having more room. She had gained 20 pounds, up to 120, under our watch, but was now losing weight, was more energetic, and we actually saw her run for the first lime. Sometimes I let her go with me to deliver the Reporter on Wednesday mornings. Last weekend we took my teenage son to North Carolina for basketball camp and boarded the big rascals, as we had done many times before. On the way home on Father's Da) I had stopped at the store near Lake Oconee with just one hour left in the trip when our veterinarian called me. A knot formed in my stomach. What was wrong? He told me that they had found Cocoa dead on Sunday morning. They had, and still have, no idea what happened. No, there were no bite marks and she was alone. Thank God for that. We couldn't blame Aslan. Other tests were inconclusive. I was stunned. After returning to the truck I had to teU the rest of the family. I knew it would be hard. They bawled for the next 30 minutes. "My heart is breaking day-da ' said little Ford from the backseat. The vet kindly let us pick up Asian on a Sunday. She would not eat though. Asian may have lorded over her buddy, but she missed her. On Tuesday, my wife called in a panic looking for the key to the gun safe. Apparently Asian was barking furiously in the yard and my wife discovered a four-foot rattlesnake there. Unable to find what shells go with which gun, she simply fired her 22 pistol at the snake with no success. I was on deadline and couldn't leave the office. Thankfully our buddy Jarrett Hill was nearby and blasted the rattler to smithereens. You know what we were thinking. But our vet says that if a rattlesnake had bit Cocoa, surely she would've shown some panting or other signs. So we may never know what killed our Cocoa. Well put her ashes in the creek bed behind our house because she was always trying to get in it, where it's cool and boggy Meanwhile, we're akeady talking to the Pyrenees rescue group about adopting another one. It's been said that everyone thinks they have the perfect dog and none of them are wrong. Yes, weft like to rescue another Pyr for the dog's sake. But also for ours. www. MyMCR.net is published every week byThe Monroe County Reporter Inc. Will Davis, President. Robert M. Williams Jr Vice President Cheryl S. Williams, Secretary-Treasurer Will Davis Publisher/Editor publisher@mymcr.net Richard Dumas ~ News Editor forsyth@mymcr.net Carolyn Martel Advertising Manager ads@mymcr.net Trellis Grant Business Manager business@mymcr.net Diane Glidewell Community Editor news@rnymcr.net Amy Haisten Creative Director graphics@mymcr.net Official Organ of Monroe County and the City of Forsyth 50 N. Jackson St PO Box 795 Forsyth, GA 31029 Periodicals Postage Paid at Forsyth, GA 31029 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: THE MONROE COUNTY REPORTER 478-994-2358 SUBSCRIPTION RATE: In County:. $40 Out of County:. $48 Single Copy: $1 Deadlines noon on Friday prior to issue. Comments featured on opinion pages are the creation of the writers, the do not necessarily reflect the opinions oflhe Reporter management. Publication No. USPS 997-840 PEACH STATE POLITICS by Kyle Wingfield e e lmost two years have passed since Repub- efforts to reform the U.S. health insurance market were pronounced dead. Perhaps they were merely on life support. In July 2017, Sen. John Mc- Cain sur- prised many observers by vot- ing against the GOP's "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act. His rejection left the bill with just 49 votes, the closest Republicans have come to repealing the law they had by then spent almost eight years deriding as "Obamacare" There was one more short-lived effort to repeal and replace the law, but since then Republicans have lost their majority in the U.S. House - and their nerve. "Shell-shocked" is how D.C. denizens still describe congressional Republicans who spent years promising to repeal and replace the ACA, only to fall short. The White House pub- licly moved on to other matters. But all the while, the Trump administra- tion worked on a trio of reforms that wouldn't re- quire a vote in Congress. Two of them debuted last year: a report on various ways to boost competi- tion and choice in the healthcare marketplace, and an outline of four new ways states could reform their insurance markets to help indi- viduals and small busi- nesses. Unlike some Hol- lywood trilo- gies, this one didn't run out of steam - in the third iteration. In fact, the ad- ministration may have saved its best episode for last. Earlier this month, the administration unveiled a new rule governing the way employers subsidize their workers' health insurance. It amounts to an innovation akin to the 401(k) account for retirement. It expands employers' ability to fund an account known as a Health Reimburse- ment Arrangement, with which their employees can purchase their own health insurance. Why is this important? For decades, employer- sponsored insurance received more generous tax treatment than plans bought by individuals. That meant most people offered insurance by their employer took it - even if they were offered only one plan, and even if that plan ate up a large chunk of their paycheck. Buying insurance any other way was bound to be even more expensive. Under the new rule for HRAs, employers can continue to offer tradi- tional insurance plans or, instead, offer workers a flat, untaxed stipend to buy their own plans. Think of it like the differ- ence between a defined- benefit retirement benefit (i.e a pension) and a defined-contribution benefit (such as a 401(k) plan). This change gives the many employers who don't offer health insur- ance a new way to help subsidize a plan for their workers. Accord- ing to the Kaiser Family Foundation, just 58.4% of working-age Ameri- cans were offered a plan by their employer in 2017 - up from a low of 55.6% in 2011, but still well below the 67.3% of Americans covered by an employer plan in 1999. The Trump adminis- tration projects the new arrangement will reduce the number of uninsured Americans by about 800,000, with a total of 11 million Americans getting their coverage in this way. Like many reforms, this one is no panacea. But along with moderately increasing the number of insured Americans, the HRA reform could finally put some downward pressure on insurance rates. How? By giving workers more options for obtaining their coverage. Of the employers that offer insurance coverage, about 80% have just one plan. With an HRA un- der the new rule, workers get to choose from other insurers and products. This change could be turbo-charged in Geor- gia: As Gov. Brian Kemp seeks federal flexibility for how Georgia admin- isters the subsidies for private coverage on the HealthCare.gov ex- change, an increase in the number of Georgians with tax-free dollars shopping for insurance would help. Combine this with more flexibility in the types of plans that can be bought with subsidies on the exchange, along with a reinsurance program to more directly subsi- dize the sickest patients seeking coverage, and Georgia could soon see a much healthier market for individual coverage. The president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Kyle Wingfield's column runs in papers around the state of Georgia. TAKING A LIKENS TO YOU by Dale Likens lbert and Alberta, my older brother and sister, were twins. Alberta told recently that Albert could sit in class and solve a math problem before the teacher finished writing the problem on the blackboard. He later became an elementary school principal and she be- came a special educa- tion teacher. My other sister, Shirley, who was one year older than they, also becamee an elementary school teacher. My brother Earl loved to draw and design bridges and buildings so he spent 40 years as a well-respected drafts- man for a company in Warren, Ohio. Billy, my younger brother, became a fine insurance salesman in the Trumbull County area. My desire was to become the greatest third baseman for the Cleveland Indians and since that was a lost cause I, too, became an elementary school teacher. My older brother, Jim, spent a couple years fighting his way in and out of jail for minor infractions and finally settled for becoming a full- time Methodist minister. My old- est brother, Gene, had little formal education because he had muscu- lar dystrophy and spent very little time in public school. Still, Gene was by far the wisest of all eight children in my family. It was he that we all went to for advice and a common sense view on all our decisions. For a few years of our lives we children grew up in an old, rented, rundown house with no electricity, no running water and an outhouse that sat 100 feet from our house. Our nearest neighbors were a quarter of a mile from us on either side of our house. Though our father worked the midnight shift at a factory in town, he was often in and out of the hospital with a slipped disc in his back. We had little, but somehow we sur- vived. We had wonder- ful friends and relatives who visited us often and shared in the fun and laughter that permeated from our country home. We never accepted government handouts. We studied by the light of kerosene lamps each evening after we finished our farming chores and basketball games against the side of our barn or our softball games in the field behind our barn. We planted fields of sweet corn, snapping beans, sweet peas, car- rots, cabbage, onions, turnips, watermelon, muskmelon, etc. My mother and my two sisters canned over a hundred quarts of all that could be canned each year. Our cellar was full of quart jars. Five of us children worked our way through college with no government loans and no assis- tance from friends or relatives. Jim and Earl found their interests in other fields and moved on in great professions without the help of a college degree. It was early in my teaching career that I realized I had a deep desire to tell people of all ages about my wonderful years of growing up in rural America. It was also dur- ing these that my wonderful wife, Karen, supported every desire I had to better our lives. I began telling my fourth, fifth and sixth grade students about my exciting life on a lonely, dusty road many years ago. "You need to write a book about your life, Mr. Likens. You lived a very interesting life" they often told me. I could see it in their eyes. It was then I realized college had not prepared me for my newest ad- venture. I began buying books that taught me how to become a good writer, how to make the reader taste and feel what I was tasting and feeling. I learned how to bring similes and metaphors into my writing and describe each charac- ter as someone every reader could feel he or she knew personally. It matters little today how suc- cessful my novels may have served. I have been blessed with a wonder- ful life. Only in America can one be offered the opportunity to give it your best. Only in America do we possess the opportunity to live truly under the power of our God and our first amendment. Today my two sisters are ada- mant Democrats. My only surviv- ing brother, Bill, and I are unwav- ering conservatives. We all still understand each other and still have a deep love for our past lives together. That's the America I grew up in] That's the America I love and defend. My wife and I pray for the com- ing election. Will America remain the America we once grew up in; whether controlled by a Demo- cratic Party or a Conservative party? Will America become the America where we all have an equal opportunity to become the best we can be? Let us not become a nation of free handouts. Let us proudly work for what we receive. Let us not give our freedom to vote as citizens to those who are not citizens of America. Let us put God back into our schools, our government and our per- sonal lives. And may our churches become strong and vocal as they once were in years gone by. God bless! Dale Likens is an author who lives in Monroe County.