Jordan’s Way Comes To Marshall

 Jordan’s Way Becomes To Marshall

The nationally recognized animal welfare advocate, Jordan’s Way, chose Friends of Marshall Animals to be one of the stops on their 50-state rescue/shelter fundraising tour.

Our fundraiser will take place Wednesday, July 21, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the current shelter. The scheduling was determined by Jordan’s Way’s travel timetable and we’re honored to be one of only 20 stops in Texas.

The event itself is a live fundraiser; essentially a telethon broadcast to a Facebook audience. In order to meet our goal of $15,000 in four hours, it’s very important that we get prominent local citizens, such as yourself, involved.

Do you have a good sense of humor? Are you willing to participate in stunts that would be beneath your dignity for anything other than a great cause? We need you! 

Some of the activities may include:

– taking a pie in your face

– enjoying a bucket of water poured over your head

– bobbing for dog bones in whipped cream

– shaving your head

– coloring your hair

– eating dog food

If you’re willing to do even more extreme stunts, we’d love to hear about it. We need good incentives to encourage people to donate!

You decide at what total fundraising amount you’re willing to participate in certain stunts. (Note that no one volunteer will necessarily be chosen to perform all of the stunts he or she is willing to do.)

For example:

At $1,000, you’re willing to take a pie in the face

At $5,000, you’re up for a bucket of ice poured over your head

At $10,000, you’ll let a puppy lick whipped cream off your face

At $15,000, you’ll eat dog food

At $20,000, you’ll allow your head to be shaved

Participants are encouraged to recruit other willing volunteers, and also to reach out to their friends, family, & social media with challenges “on the side.”  For example, you might say to them, “please help the fundraiser get to $500, and I will let them throw a pie in my face.”

We are also recruiting local businesses to match donations. They will be recognized on the live feed and also have a post of their own on our social media. Our Facebook page alone has over 12,000 followers.

Here’s a link to the Jordon’s Way fundraiser page for FOMA. People are already donating!

https://www.facebook.com/donate/4003344449712806/

This TV news story about one of Jordan’s Way’s previous stops may give you a better idea of what happens during the fundraiser: https://youtu.be/mrN9sRrvzTY

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Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

In tribute to Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary, Marshall Depot Board of Directors announces year-long commemoration to honor Amtrak’s 50 years of connecting America

May 1, 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of Amtrak. In honor of this important milestone for our nation, the Marshall Depot Board of Directors is announcing a year-long commemoration and celebration of Amtrak.

This commemoration will focus on providing information and events that highlight the important role that Amtrak has played and continues to play in providing an essential transportation option for the people of America and our community. It will also underscore benefits Amtrak provides to urban as well as rural communities, such as Marshall, in connecting cities throughout America through its vast National Network.

“On behalf of the volunteer Board of Directors of the Marshall Depot Inc., we ask people of our community and our region to join us in wishing Amtrak a happy 50th birthday.”  said Cathy Wright, current president of the Marshall Depot Board. “We appreciate all that Amtrak does for the people of Marshall and our community.”

Out of the approximately 20,000 cities in America, only about 525 cities are fortunate to have an Amtrak stop and Marshall, Texas is fortunate to be one of those cities.  Marshall, Texas is a stop on the Texas Eagle long-distance route. The Texas Eagle connects San Antonio to Chicago, with stops that include Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Little Rock and St. Louis, in addition to Marshall.

Christina Anderson, who serves as the chairman of the 2021 community fundraising campaign which is currently underway for the non-profit Marshall Depot, shared the following:

“We thought Amtrak’s 50th anniversary would also provide an excellent opportunity to continue to raise awareness in our community about the remarkable benefits that Amtrak and our historic Marshall Depot bring to our community with regard to transportation, tourism, economic development, quality of life, not to mention just a fun way to travel.”

Ms. Anderson also pointed out a benefit distinctive to Marshall that many community members might not be aware of which brings in tens of thousands of dollars of revenue to our local economy each year. That is, Marshall is one of only a few stops on the Texas Eagle route that is a crew change stop.

Ms. Anderson explained: “That means that not only do tourists and visitors spend dollars when they travel here by train, but six Amtrak crew members who stay in Marshall each night provide ‘heads on beds’ in a local hotel. This results in at least 2,190 hotel stays in Marshall each year, not counting any visitors or tourists who may travel here by Amtrak and may add additional hotel nights.”

She further explained that these six crew members also spend dollars at local restaurants, stores, and with a local van service. In fact, over the past 19 years of Marshall serving as a crew change stop, the total revenue to our local economy for Amtrak’s spending for these crews has been approximately $4.1 million.

“So, in addition to being a transportation hub which connects us to the National Network right in the heart of historic downtown Marshall,” Ms. Anderson shared, “the Marshall Depot and Amtrak are also very valuable assets with regard to generating revenue for our community.”

The Marshall Depot is one of only a few depots on the Texas Eagle route that is not maintained and operated by the city it serves. The Marshall Depot is instead maintained by a volunteer board of directors for the non-profit entity Marshall Depot Inc, which was established in 1990 to assist the City with the Depot. This volunteer board raises funds, through grants and donations, to maintain the funding needed each year for the operational costs, insurance, maintenance, and ongoing preservation of the Depot and the Texas & Pacific Railway Museum. In the past, the City had assisted with these annual costs.

For those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to the non-profit Marshall Depot Inc. in the 2021 fundraising campaign, which began in late March, please make a request to receive materials in the mail about this by calling or leaving a message at (903) 938-8373. Or you can make a tax-deductible donation by sending a check to:  Marshall Depot Inc., 800 North Washington Avenue, Suite 1, Marshall, Texas 75670.

Alan Loudermilk, who serves on the Marshall Depot Board and is owner of the popular Ginocchio Restaurant which is located adjacent to the Marshall Depot, has graciously offered to have a small display at the restaurant with information, donation cards, and envelopes so that customers who wish to make a donation to the Depot can pick up materials while they’re dining at the restaurant.

Cathy Wright also shared that the Marshall Depot Board is making plans and putting in place the necessary health-related precautions to re-open the T & P Railway Museum which is located at the Marshall Depot soon. The Museum has been closed during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, Amtrak recently announced that, on May 24, it would restore daily service to long-distance trains, including the Texas Eagle. In 2020, because of the pandemic, Amtrak reduced daily service to three days a week.

Christina Anderson concluded by saying: “Marshall, Texas is blessed to have a long and strong history as a ‘railroad town.’  The I-20 Corridor Council and the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO) join the members of the Marshall Depot Board in wishing all current and past members of the Amtrak family a happy, prosperous 50th Anniversary and a strong and prosperous 50 years to come. As one of the new Amtrak taglines says: “The Future Rides With Us.”

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You wanna talk health care?

You wanna talk health care?

By George Smith

If I didn’t have Medicare Part D, my out-of-pocket monthly expense would be about $960; Eliquis alone, without Medicare, would be $450 a month. My personal cost is about $80 a month with almost 40 percent of that amount for Eliquis alone.

Big Pharma gets away with their pricing because members of Congress are bought and paid for via campaign contributions.

Ask yourself: Why are identical drugs exponentially cheaper in other counties?

Why is a drug that costs $10 a day in Canada cost 10 times that amount in the U.S.? On average, Canadian patients pay 40 percent less than Americans.

The U.S. allows market competition to control medication pricing. This has led to higher medication prices in the U.S. than in other countries. The government in many other countries directly or indirectly manages drug costs.

The U.S. competitive marketing system, allows pharmaceutical companies to make significant profits. Manufacturers counter this complaint stating a need for profits to incentivize high-risk research.

In order for a manufacturer to get a product to market, they must pass many layers of government approval.

Between 2011 and 2015, Medicare recipients saw a 62 percent increase for brand-name drugs. The salary and pension income for those over the age of 65, however, did not meet this 62 percent rise. Thus, the steep rise in medication prices makes it very difficult for people to keep up.

Are medications really cheaper in Canada?

PharmacyChecker reports that many brand-name prescription medicines are less expensive in Canada. Yet, the U.S. Generic medications are often cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada.

Research on 20 popular brand-name drugs found a possible average savings of 70 percent when purchased in Canada. Some examples of 90-day supplies in October 2018 include:

Premarin 0.625 mg costs $623.70 in U.S. vs. $76.61 in Canada

Januvia 100 mg costs $1,593.90 in the U.S. vs. $269.94 in Canada

Crestor 10 mg costs $969.30 in the U.S. vs. $204.02 in Canada

Advair Diskus 250/50 mcg costs $1,437.99 in the U.S. vs $383.74 in Canada

Nexium 40 mg costs $863.10 in the U.S. vs. $149.94 in Canada

The U.S. government could create laws to set lower prices. Here, however, money talks and Big Pharma’s lobby

lobbyists talk BIG and LOUD!

Nothing will change until we — you, me, us, them — scream BIG and just as LOUDLY!

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Reparations for the nation’s history of slavery

Reparations for the nation’s history of slavery.

Yea or nay?

With a history of being editor and publisher of newspapers where racial disharmony was a constant stain on the communities I served, where cultures conflicted as a part of everyday life, and having a black son-in-law and biracial grandchildren, you can guess where I stand.

Or maybe not.

Attempting to erase the nation’s nefarious and horrid treatment of people of color — Black, Asian, Native American or “other” — by handing out wads of I’m-sorry! cash is not a plausible solution.

History is what it is, and the white contingent’s treatment overall of citizens and residents of different cultures, religions and colors is reprehensible and indefensible.

But trying to solve our collective consciences with bucket loads of lucre is not the answer.

Who would we pay? How much? For how long? For what specific act or collection of acts?

The answer to the past disputable behaviors lies in visible change, in the switching of attitude, creation of laws and additional opportunities with an aim of an equalization of cultures. These goals must include the education of all citizens on the importance of the fundamental right of equality.

This is the United States of America, once described as  “A City upon a Hill”, a phrase derived from the teaching in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In a modern context, it has been used in United States politics to refer to America acting as a “beacon of hope” for the world, a “shining city.”

From a global perspective — and also from a domestic viewpoint — the democratic luster  is gone from our nation. Where once the United States was held aloft as a symbol of freedom and hope, our political, racial, cultural and religious differences have caused us to be pitied and scorned.m by nations which once held us as a positive example of freedom and democracy.

Now, right now, is the time to summon  our better angels, to pray for uplifting support and guidance and make a determined effort to work in unity to recreate the America of promise and hope. Our goal should be to create, finally, a kinder, gentler America, a nation that values all citizens equally and welcomes all who share our vision, our hopes and our dreams.

We can do better. We must do better. We must change. Our children and grandchildren demand action from us.

We must not, cannot let them down.

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Marshall Animal Shelter Receives Large Donation

[Marshall, Texas] On March 29, 2021, Mr. Jerry Cargill presented a check in the amount of $150,000 to the City of Marshall to assist with the construction of the new Marshall Pet Adoption Center. This check represents the second scheduled installment of a commitment, from Friends of Marshall Animals, to raise $450,000 from private donors towards the construction of this much-needed facility.

The City of Marshall would like to thank the Friends of Marshall Animals’ private donors for their ongoing funding efforts and contributions. Tax deductible contributions may continue to be made to Friends of Marshall Animals, Inc., P.O. Drawer V, Marshall, TX 75671, and at FriendsofMarshallAnimals.org online, or by visiting their Facebook page: facebook.com/FriendsOfMA/

Photographed are Mr. Jerry Cargill, local businessman and philanthropist, presenting the $150,000 check to Marshall City Manager Mark Rohr.

Amanda Smith —

Thank you to all of the wonderful people who have donated so far – and especially to Steve Carlile and Jerry Cargill for their heroic fundraising efforts and collaboration with Friends of Marshall Animals.

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Gun Control and Drunk Driving

Sen. Jon Kennedy of Louisiana in a floor debate on tightening gun restrictions used the analogy of the number of people killed annually by drunk drivers.

He made a point, but not a valid one when linked to gun safety measures.

However, this country could easily and quickly put a severe dent in the drunk driving problem in the country.

Impose tougher restrictions: First offense, $10,000 fine, 30 days in jail and confiscation and public sale of vehicle; second offense, $25,000 fine, year in jail and confiscation of vehicle.

There might be a bunch of drunks walking around but durn few drunk drivers.

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We Do Not Have Time to Worry About China

We Do Not Have Time to Worry About China

By Ron Munden — 3/15/2021

Last week a wrote an article titled, “United States on the Verge of Losing Its Technological Superiority”

The article focused exclusively on Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, interview  by  Fareed Zakaria.  Mr. Schmidt is the chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  This blue ribbon committee, composed of 15 people, was tasked to do an assessment of the role of AI in the future and the United States position in the field.

As I aways do I posted a lead to the article on facebook along with the link.  As expected very few people clicked on the link.  Based on 15 years of experience, I was not surprised.  “Tits” alway out sell “science” – particularly in Texas.

What was surprising is none of the posts linked to the article were related to science.  Hell – they weren’t even related to tits.  Every one of the posts was a political statement; none addressed anything discussed in the article.

When I wrote the article I was careful to focus exclusively on science and engineering.

This really valids a concern that I believe Mr.  Schmidt has.  He stressed the urgent need to move now if the US has any hope of winning this race with China — politics will ensure that the US comes out on the losing end.

Unfortunately, there is other evidence that politics will lose the technology competition with China.  Look at how the US handled COVID-19.

The United States has had more deaths from C-19 and more cases of C-19 than any other country in the world.  I believe the major reason for this is that we made addressing C-19 a political issue not a science issue. 15 years ago who would have thought wearing a mask would be considered a political statement.  Government entities lined up against each other based on their political leaning.

We could have done much better fighting C-19 if we had  been driven by science and politics had stayed on the sidelines.

Sure over 500,000 people in this country are dead from C-19 but that is small potatoes compared to what is at stake in the AI competition with China.  In my opinion this competition is even more important than addressing climate change.I say this because based on all I read the results AI competition will be determined in the 10 to 20 year timeframe.  The critical dipping point of addressing climate change is in the 40 to 50 year range.  After that point we will be on a downhill slope that can’t be reversed.

If the US loses the race to remain the technology  superpower in the world and China replaces us,  they will be the dominant economic powerhouse within 30 years and able to dictate how nations like the US address climate change.  So China policy, not US policy, will dictate the approach for addressing climate change in the critical stage.

This country is in a high stakes game and we are not in a position to win the war.  A country in the middle of a civil war is not positioned well to win a foreign war at the same time.  So I believe the winner of the AI competition has already been decided.

United States on the Verge of Losing Its Technological Superiority

By Ron Munden — 3/10/2021

The United States quality of life is due in no small part to the technological superiority that it has possessed since WWII.  I have written on my concerns about the US losing that superiority  for the last 15 years.

Recently I have also written about the Country’s second civil war which is underway in this country today.

On Sunday I heard a program that was consistent with my concerns about losing our superiority but they projected the United States could lose its technology lead in a much shorter time.

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, was interviewed  by Fareed Zakaria.  Mr. Schmidt is the chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  This blue ribbon committee, composed of 15 people, was tasked to do an assessment of the role of AI in the future and the United States position in the field.

The commission was established two years ago.  It provided its report to the White House and Congress last week.The commission concluded that AI will be sprinkled throughout the entire world economy in the future. It will be the basis of everything we deal with over the next 5 to 10 years.  The three examples he mentioned were information technology, medical care, and automobiles.

AI is becoming an essential part of the world economy;particularly in developed countries like the United States.

Mr. Schmidt said that today the United States is ahead of China in AI technology but is at high risk of losing that lead fairly quickly.  China has decided to focus on taking the leadership role in AI by 2030.  It is committed to doing whatever is required to take the leadership role away from the US.  

The Commission believes that this problem is a national emergency and unless the country gets its act together quickly China will take the lead very soon.  They feel the race for AI development must become a focus of the federal government.  Even though most of the commission’s members were from the private sector, they feel that the federal government  must take the lead.  We are in a race and our competitor is China.  China has committed to spending the resources required to win the race.

The United States continues to have the best innovators today but Chain already has the lead in facial recognition and electronic commerce.  China has a significant lead in 5G communication technology and is committed to taking the lead in synthetic bio technology.

Today China is our global competitor.  Three advantages China has today are:  Large data sets, which are important to AI.  A larger and more educated workforce than is available in the US today. Today China has twice as many  supercomputers than the US. The worlds fastest computer was built in China using Chinese designed parts. Finally, China has lots of money that it has committed to winning the race.

America could still win the race but it is not organized to win the race today.  To win it would need to commit to a very significant increase in R&D funding and a massive increase in training.  

Today, China  has much more money and very smart people committed to their goal.  China has global ambitions.   Today, the United States is not prepared to compete.

What does the United States have to lose?  Alot!

The market winner is looking at $55 trillion in business over the next 20 years.

The AI winner has not yet determined but the United States needs to act now if it hopes to stay in the game.  The report submitted to the White House and Congress  recommends doubling the country’s R&D funding each year until it is up to $30 billion a year.  That sounds like a lot of money until you realize that there is a $55 trillion market at stake.

If we don’t make this  investment the next great technology companies will come from China.  20% of the US stock market is in technology.  Soon this sector of the stock market may be technology companies owned by another country – not the USA. Also our national security is based on us being the leaders in technology.

Mr. Schmidt listed additional markets that the US could lose — energy, robotics and adaptive manufacturing.

That concluded Mr. Schmidt’s remarks.

After the program I thought — A divided nation cannot stand and there will also be another nation ready to take its place.

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Non-profit Housing Finance Corporation Achieves Critical First Step

Non-profit Housing Finance Corporation Achieves Critical First Step in proposed Marshall Lofts Project           

The non-profit Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation (HCHFC) announced today that the first critical step, which needed to be accomplished in connection with the proposed Marshall Lofts Project, was successfully achieved last week. The Marshall Lofts Project envisions the conversion of the historic Marshall High School building, located on West Houston Street in the historic New Town district of Marshall, Texas, into low-and-moderate income apartments. The HCHFC’s application for a reservation of allocation for authority to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the conversion of the historic building was approved by the Texas Bond Review Board in Austin on February 26, 2021.

The application was filed by former State Senator and former Harrison County Judge Richard Anderson who serves as general counsel for the HCHFC.   The application was filed on behalf of the developer, STC Marshall Lofts, L.L.C., a Texas corporation. The application authorizes the issuance of some $20 million in tax-exempt bonds during calendar year 2021.

The bond proceeds, together with additional dollars generated by the sale of Federal and State historic tax credits and housing tax credits, will be used to develop up to 130 apartment units on the property. The financing package assembled by the developer, Mr. Jim Sari, will include these funds, as well as other funding from private investors. These funds will be used to construct the apartments as well as amenities on the ten-acre tract, which was formerly known as the old Marshall High School and, more recently, as the old Marshall Junior High School, prior to being sold by the Marshall Independent School District in 2018.

Notably, the bonds will not constitute an obligation of the City of Marshall, Harrison County, or the State of Texas, but will be payable solely from apartment rentals and associated income from the developer.

Judge Anderson stated, “We are very pleased to have assisted with this critical first phase needed for the proposed Marshall Lofts Project. It’s a general consensus that there’s a need for low- to moderate-income housing in our community and, if successful, the Marshall Lofts Project will help to address this need, in addition to repurposing an historic local building for a beneficial use in our community.”

 HCHFC President Anne Yappen, a local realtor, shared: “In addition to assisting with these important housing needs, our Board of Directors felt that this project could also help to ensure that this ten-acre tract in the west end of the Marshall central business district does not fall into a blighted condition in the future.”

The other members of the Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors are Mr. John LaFoy, a Hallsville-area builder, Mr. Barry Lovely, a Marshall businessman, Dr. David Nelson, the owner of Texas State Optical, and Mr. Jack Redmon, former interim Marshall City Manager and long-time director of Public Services for the City of Marshall.

Judge Anderson explained that, in late October of 2020, County officials, including County Judge Chad Sims, City officials, including Mayor Terri Brown and City Manager Mark Rohr, as well as Tom McClurg of Marshall Housing Authority, and other community leaders met to consider the proposal for the Marshall Lofts. All were in fundamental agreement that this represented both a challenge and an opportunity to rehabilitate this property which had been dormant for more than two years. A consensus emerged that the project move forward with the Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation heading up the application process for the project.

Judge Anderson explained that it’s now up to the developer to pursue additional funding through the applicable tax credits and private financing, following HCHFC’s successful reservation of allocation for authority to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the conversion.

Anderson said, “We’re familiar with this rather complex structure as we have utilized historic tax credits to create the Courthouse Endowment in 2009 to assist Harrison County, and have utilized housing tax credits to promote multi-family housing projects in Smith County in the past. Again, we’re glad to have been able to have done our part to afford the developer this opportunity and we wish great success for this project.”

Hilltop Securities of Dallas, Texas will serve as financial adviser of the Marshall Lofts Project. Mr. Tim Nelson, a principal with Hilltop, noted that Mr. Sari is in the process of completing the conversion of the historic Hotel Grim in Texarkana into apartments, with the opening of this project in Texarkana scheduled for the spring of this year.  Robert Dransfield of Norton Rose Fulbright law firm will serve as bond counsel.

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Background on the Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation

The Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation is a Texas corporation chartered by the State of Texas in 1979. It was formed in Judge Richard Anderson’s initial term as County Judge, and was designed to address the crisis in housing mortgages that existed at that time. The establishment of the Harrison County Housing Finance Corporation was the first county housing finance corporation in the State of Texas, using the state’s recently-enacted statute.

With present mortgage rates of less than 3.5%, it is difficult to imagine the crisis which existed in the 1980’s. However, during 1980, fixed rates for thirty-year mortgages had reached some 14.5%. As a result, some young families were simply not able to afford to purchase a home. Realizing this problem and working with a recently enacted statute, the HCHFC worked with local lenders, and sold tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds for some $23.8 million in the public markets, and produced a mortgage rate of some 9.45%. These funds were then made available to local lenders to loan to families in the County in order to address this problem.

The program made a tremendous difference in affordability since the monthly payment for a $60,000 home in 1980 was the difference between a payment of $735 per month and $505 per month, a savings of some 30%. When compounded over a thirty-year period, this represented tens of thousands of dollars in mortgage payments saved on the $60,000 mortgage.

Through this public-private partnership, the HCHFC worked with local financial institutions to make the benefits of home ownership available to over 430 families in Harrison County, saving millions of dollars in interest over the thirty-year life of their loans for young home-owners.

The HCHFC was also instrumental in the construction of West End Park on West Houston Street in the historic New Town district of Marshall in 1995.

A proposal had been made to utilize this site for a solid waste collection site, as it had long-since been vacant following the location of Maverick Stadium to the new high school on Pinecrest Street. This property had devolved into a blighted 18-acre site, which had been the location of the old Stephen F. Austin School and football field. Judge Anderson proposed instead and structured a plan to convert this property into a public park to serve the community in an underserved area of Marshall. The structure for the plan to build the park was to bring local, county, state, and federal resources together to provide the funding and services needed to construct the park.   

Long-serving MISD Superintendent Pat Smith-Gasperson, facilitated the approval of the donation by MISD of this 18-acre property to assist this HCHFC-driven project to transform the acreage into an urban park. The structure for the park plan included a grant obtained from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, contributions of labor and equipment from Harrison County, and federal assistance provided from the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps is a federal program which was established in 1993 to provide labor and resources to help address critical infrastructure and other needs in local communities in America, plus educational grant funding opportunities for the students and other citizens who serve in the AmeriCorps program to help strengthen these communities.

West End Park represented the first park constructed in the underserved west end community in many years. The park now consists of two basketball courts, a covered pavilion, a soccer field and children’s playground equipment. More recently, lights and a concession stand were added to the facility through the efforts of SWEPCO and Mr. Jack Redmon. The HCHFC continues to maintain this park for the benefit of the residents of the city’s west end. The HCHFC is also currently in the process of planning upgrades for West End Park.

With the participation in the Marshall Loft project, the HCHFC continues its mission to assist with making sanitary, safe, and affordable housing available for the benefit of the Harrison County community.  #

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And it only gets better for Texas

Editor’s note:  This information was provided by one of our readers.

Remember the cost of emergency electricity last week cost more than $50 billion and who do you think is going to pay this — yes, the customers and now we find out we have been paying higher rates along!

(Good news for Harrison County, TX is we are one of the few countries NOT part of this State rip off.)

Wall Street Journal

Texas Electric Bills Were $28 Billion Higher Under Deregulation 

Competition in the electricity-supply business promised reliable power at a more affordable cost

Texas’s deregulated electricity market, which was supposed to provide reliable power at a lower price, left millions in the dark last week. For two decades, its customers have paid more for electricity than state residents who are served by traditional utilities, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.

Nearly 20 years ago, Texas shifted from using full-service regulated utilities to generate power and deliver it to consumers. The state deregulated power generation, creating the system that failed last week. And it required nearly 60% of consumers to buy their electricity from one of many retail power companies, rather than a local utility.

Those deregulated Texas residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state’s traditional utilities, according to the Journal’s analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration.

The crisis last week was driven by the power producers. Now that power has largely been restored, attention has turned to retail electric companies, a few of which are hitting consumers with steep bills. Power prices surged to the market price cap of $9,000 a megawatt hour for several days during the crisis, a feature of the state’s system designed to incentivize power plants to supply more juice. Some consumers who chose variable rate power plans from retail power companies are seeing the big bills.

None of this was supposed to happen under deregulation. Backers of competition in the electricity-supply business promised it would lower prices for consumers who could shop around for the best deals, just as they do for cellphone service. The system would be an improvement over monopoly utilities, which have little incentive to innovate and provide better service to customers, supporters of deregulation said.

“If all consumers don’t benefit from this, we will have wasted our time and failed our constituency,” then-state Sen. David Sibley, a key author of the bill to deregulate the market, said when the switch was first unveiled in 1999. “Competition in the electric industry will benefit Texans by reducing monthly rates,” then-Gov. George W. Bush said later that year.

The EIA data shows how much electricity each utility or retail provider sold to residents in a given year and how much customers paid for it. The Journal calculated separate annual statewide rates for utilities and retailers by adding up all of the revenue each type of provider received and dividing it by the kilowatt-hours of electricity it sold.

From 2004 through 2019, the annual rate for electricity from Texas’s traditional utilities was 8% lower, on average, than the nationwide average rate, while the rates of retail providers averaged 13% higher than the nationwide rate, according to the Journal’s analysis.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group that buys electricity for local government use, produced similar findings in a study of the state’s power markets and concluded that high statewide prices relative to the national average “must be attributed to the deregulated sector of Texas.”

In other states that allow retail competition for electricity, customers have the option of getting their power from a regulated utility. The absence of an incumbent utility in parts of Texas that allow retail competition makes it difficult for consumers to know if they are paying too much for power, critics say.

The push to deregulate the electricity-supply market in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. began in the 1990s amid similar efforts in airlines, natural gas and phone services. Leading the charge was Enron, the Houston energy company and champion of free markets that went bankrupt in 2001 amid revelations of widespread fraud.

For power generators, the laissez-faire market design rewarded companies that could sell electricity inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. But it provided little incentive for companies to spend cash on infrastructure that could protect power plants during sporadic severe cold snaps.

Catherine Webking, general counsel for the Texas Energy Association for Marketers, an industry trade group, said retail providers give customers access to more choices than many standard utilities, such as renewable-energy products. Customers also typically have the option to switch plans, she said. If customers “don’t feel it’s the best thing for them they can find a different provider,” she said. 

On the retail power side, dozens of competitors emerged after deregulation. But recently, competition in Texas has been declining amid a wave or mergers in the industry.

Texas is home to the two of the nation’s largest retail-energy providers, VistraCorp. VST +2.07% and NRG Energy Inc. NRG +0.52%Marketers now owned by the two companies accounted for three quarters of the retail electricity sold in Texas in 2019.

In January, NRG completed its $3.6 billion purchase of retail-energy provider Direct Energy, which doubled the number of NRG’s retail customers to six million and boosted its workforce from about 4,500 to 7,500. About half of its retail customers are in Texas.

Vistra’s largest Texas retail subsidiary, TXU Energy, and NRG have said their customers wouldn’t be hit by spiking prices due to the blackouts because their electricity plans aren’t tied to short-term price swings in the wholesale electricity market.

Tim Morstad, associate state director of AARP Texas and a critic of retail-energy suppliers, said he expects many retail customers to suffer increases in their rates in the near future as the companies price in sky-high power rates seen during the winter blast. Most vulnerable, he said, would be customers of retail energy providers who have signed up for variable-rate plans that rise and fall every month amid fluctuations in market rates.

“The prices are definitely going to increase,” he said. “For those on variable contracts, they’ll feel the pinch sooner.”

Some retail-energy providers enter long-term contracts for the electricity they sell to consumers, potentially shielding them from the dramatic surge in the wholesale market seen last week, said Kenneth Rose, an independent consultant at Michigan State University who has studied the retail-energy industry.

The Texas Public Utility Commission said it has “strongly urged” retail electric providers to delay billing residential and small commercial customers.

Remember the cost of emergency electricity last week cost more than $50 billion and who do you think is going to pay this — yes, the customers and now we find out we have been paying higher rates along!

(Good news for Harrison County, TX is we are one of the few counties NOT part of this State rip off.)

Wall Street Jounal

Texas Electric Bills Were $28 Billion Higher Under Deregulation 

Competition in the electricity-supply business promised reliable power at a more affordable cost

Texas’s deregulated electricity market, which was supposed to provide reliable power at a lower price, left millions in the dark last week. For two decades, its customers have paid more for electricity than state residents who are served by traditional utilities, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.

Nearly 20 years ago, Texas shifted from using full-service regulated utilities to generate power and deliver it to consumers. The state deregulated power generation, creating the system that failed last week. And it required nearly 60% of consumers to buy their electricity from one of many retail power companies, rather than a local utility.

Those deregulated Texas residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state’s traditional utilities, according to the Journal’s analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration.

The crisis last week was driven by the power producers. Now that power has largely been restored, attention has turned to retail electric companies, a few of which are hitting consumers with steep bills. Power prices surged to the market price cap of $9,000 a megawatt hourfor several days during the crisis, a feature of the state’s system designed to incentivize power plants to supply more juice. Some consumers who chose variable rate power plans from retail power companies are seeing the big bills.

None of this was supposed to happen under deregulation. Backers of competition in the electricity-supply business promised it would lower prices for consumers who could shop around for the best deals, just as they do for cellphone service. The system would be an improvement over monopoly utilities, which have little incentive to innovate and provide better service to customers, supporters of deregulation said.

“If all consumers don’t benefit from this, we will have wasted our time and failed our constituency,” then-state Sen. David Sibley, a key author of the bill to deregulate the market, said when the switch was first unveiled in 1999. “Competition in the electric industry will benefit Texans by reducing monthly rates,” then-Gov. George W. Bush said later that year.

The EIA data shows how much electricity each utility or retail provider sold to residents in a given year and how much customers paid for it. The Journal calculated separate annual statewide rates for utilities and retailers by adding up all of the revenue each type of provider received and dividing it by the kilowatt-hours of electricity it sold.

From 2004 through 2019, the annual rate for electricity from Texas’s traditional utilities was 8% lower, on average, than the nationwide average rate, while the rates of retail providers averaged 13% higher than the nationwide rate, according to the Journal’s analysis.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group that buys electricity for local government use, produced similar findings in a study of the state’s power markets and concluded that high statewide prices relative to the national average “must be attributed to the deregulated sector of Texas.”

In other states that allow retail competition for electricity, customers have the option of getting their power from a regulated utility. The absence of an incumbent utility in parts of Texas that allow retail competition makes it difficult for consumers to know if they are paying too much for power, critics say.

The push to deregulate the electricity-supply market in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. began in the 1990s amid similar efforts in airlines, natural gas and phone services. Leading the charge was Enron, the Houston energy company and champion of free markets that went bankrupt in 2001 amid revelations of widespread fraud.

For power generators, the laissez-faire market design rewarded companies that could sell electricity inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. But it provided little incentive for companies to spend cash on infrastructure that could protect power plants during sporadic severe cold snaps.

Catherine Webking, general counsel for the Texas Energy Association for Marketers, an industry trade group, said retail providers give customers access to more choices than many standard utilities, such as renewable-energy products. Customers also typically have the option to switch plans, she said. If customers “don’t feel it’s the best thing for them they can find a different provider,” she said. 

On the retail power side, dozens of competitors emerged after deregulation. But recently, competition in Texas has been declining amid a wave or mergers in the industry.

Texas is home to the two of the nation’s largest retail-energy providers, VistraCorp. VST +2.07% and NRG Energy Inc. NRG +0.52%Marketers now owned by the two companies accounted for three quarters of the retail electricity sold in Texas in 2019.

In January, NRG completed its $3.6 billion purchase of retail-energy provider Direct Energy, which doubled the number of NRG’s retail customers to six million and boosted its workforce from about 4,500 to 7,500. About half of its retail customers are in Texas.

Vistra’s largest Texas retail subsidiary, TXU Energy, and NRG have said their customers wouldn’t be hit by spiking prices due to the blackouts because their electricity plans aren’t tied to short-term price swings in the wholesale electricity market.

Tim Morstad, associate state director of AARP Texas and a critic of retail-energy suppliers, said he expects many retail customers to suffer increases in their rates in the near future as the companies price in sky-high power rates seen during the winter blast. Most vulnerable, he said, would be customers of retail energy providers who have signed up for variable-rate plans that rise and fall every month amid fluctuations in market rates.

“The prices are definitely going to increase,” he said. “For those on variable contracts, they’ll feel the pinch sooner.”

Some retail-energy providers enter long-term contracts for the electricity they sell to consumers, potentially shielding them from the dramatic surge in the wholesale market seen last week, said Kenneth Rose, an independent consultant at Michigan State University who has studied the retail-energy industry.

The Texas Public Utility Commission said it has “strongly urged” retail electric providers to delay billing residential and small commercial customers.

Remember the cost of emergency electricity last week cost more than $50 billion and who do you think is going to pay this — yes, the customers and now we find out we have been paying higher rates along!

(Good news for Harrison County, TX is we are one of the few countries NOT part of this State rip off.)

Wall Street Jounal

Texas Electric Bills Were $28 Billion Higher Under Deregulation 

Competition in the electricity-supply business promised reliable power at a more affordable cost

Texas’s deregulated electricity market, which was supposed to provide reliable power at a lower price, left millions in the dark last week. For two decades, its customers have paid more for electricity than state residents who are served by traditional utilities, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.

Nearly 20 years ago, Texas shifted from using full-service regulated utilities to generate power and deliver it to consumers. The state deregulated power generation, creating the system that failed last week. And it required nearly 60% of consumers to buy their electricity from one of many retail power companies, rather than a local utility.

Those deregulated Texas residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power since 2004 than they would have paid at the rates charged to the customers of the state’s traditional utilities, according to the Journal’s analysis of data from the federal Energy Information Administration.

The crisis last week was driven by the power producers. Now that power has largely been restored, attention has turned to retail electric companies, a few of which are hitting consumers with steep bills. Power prices surged to the market price cap of $9,000 a megawatt hourfor several days during the crisis, a feature of the state’s system designed to incentivize power plants to supply more juice. Some consumers who chose variable rate power plans from retail power companies are seeing the big bills.

None of this was supposed to happen under deregulation. Backers of competition in the electricity-supply business promised it would lower prices for consumers who could shop around for the best deals, just as they do for cellphone service. The system would be an improvement over monopoly utilities, which have little incentive to innovate and provide better service to customers, supporters of deregulation said.

“If all consumers don’t benefit from this, we will have wasted our time and failed our constituency,” then-state Sen. David Sibley, a key author of the bill to deregulate the market, said when the switch was first unveiled in 1999. “Competition in the electric industry will benefit Texans by reducing monthly rates,” then-Gov. George W. Bush said later that year.

The EIA data shows how much electricity each utility or retail provider sold to residents in a given year and how much customers paid for it. The Journal calculated separate annual statewide rates for utilities and retailers by adding up all of the revenue each type of provider received and dividing it by the kilowatt-hours of electricity it sold.

From 2004 through 2019, the annual rate for electricity from Texas’s traditional utilities was 8% lower, on average, than the nationwide average rate, while the rates of retail providers averaged 13% higher than the nationwide rate, according to the Journal’s analysis.

The Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group that buys electricity for local government use, produced similar findings in a study of the state’s power markets and concluded that high statewide prices relative to the national average “must be attributed to the deregulated sector of Texas.”

In other states that allow retail competition for electricity, customers have the option of getting their power from a regulated utility. The absence of an incumbent utility in parts of Texas that allow retail competition makes it difficult for consumers to know if they are paying too much for power, critics say.

The push to deregulate the electricity-supply market in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. began in the 1990s amid similar efforts in airlines, natural gas and phone services. Leading the charge was Enron, the Houston energy company and champion of free markets that went bankrupt in 2001 amid revelations of widespread fraud.

For power generators, the laissez-faire market design rewarded companies that could sell electricity inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. But it provided little incentive for companies to spend cash on infrastructure that could protect power plants during sporadic severe cold snaps.

Catherine Webking, general counsel for the Texas Energy Association for Marketers, an industry trade group, said retail providers give customers access to more choices than many standard utilities, such as renewable-energy products. Customers also typically have the option to switch plans, she said. If customers “don’t feel it’s the best thing for them they can find a different provider,” she said. 

On the retail power side, dozens of competitors emerged after deregulation. But recently, competition in Texas has been declining amid a wave or mergers in the industry.

Texas is home to the two of the nation’s largest retail-energy providers, VistraCorp. VST +2.07% and NRG Energy Inc. NRG +0.52%Marketers now owned by the two companies accounted for three quarters of the retail electricity sold in Texas in 2019.

In January, NRG completed its $3.6 billion purchase of retail-energy provider Direct Energy, which doubled the number of NRG’s retail customers to six million and boosted its workforce from about 4,500 to 7,500. About half of its retail customers are in Texas.

Vistra’s largest Texas retail subsidiary, TXU Energy, and NRG have said their customers wouldn’t be hit by spiking prices due to the blackouts because their electricity plans aren’t tied to short-term price swings in the wholesale electricity market.

Tim Morstad, associate state director of AARP Texas and a critic of retail-energy suppliers, said he expects many retail customers to suffer increases in their rates in the near future as the companies price in sky-high power rates seen during the winter blast. Most vulnerable, he said, would be customers of retail energy providers who have signed up for variable-rate plans that rise and fall every month amid fluctuations in market rates.

“The prices are definitely going to increase,” he said. “For those on variable contracts, they’ll feel the pinch sooner.”

Some retail-energy providers enter long-term contracts for the electricity they sell to consumers, potentially shielding them from the dramatic surge in the wholesale market seen last week, said Kenneth Rose, an independent consultant at Michigan State University who has studied the retail-energy industry.

The Texas Public Utility Commission said it has “strongly urged” retail electric providers to delay billing residential and small commercial customers.

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