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From Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the west to Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the east, North Carolinians are passionate about the outdoors. In fact, more than 1.6 million sportsmen and women call North Carolina home. That’s nearly one in five of our residents, and I’m proud to represent each of them in the U.S. Senate as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

In this role, I recently introduced the Sportsmen's and Public Outdoor Recreation Traditions (SPORT) Act, a package of policies supported by Republicans and Democrats to expand access to federal public lands for hunters and anglers, conserve wildlife habitats, and reform regulations that prevent people from enjoying the outdoors.

Hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing are not only an integral part of North Carolina’s heritage, but these activities also benefit our state’s economy and create jobs. The SPORT Act is first and foremost about jobs because, as one study found, outdoor recreation supports 192,000 jobs and $430 million in retail sales for businesses and communities across North Carolina.


It ruffles my tail feathers that Thanksgiving is becoming a casualty of commercialism.

It's a great holiday. No gifts to worry about or songs to memorize. You’re not expected to send Thanksgiving flowers to anyone or to decorate anything. Food, football, friends, family - all the basics of life are included on the fourth Thursday of November. The bounty of the holiday is a reminder of things to be thankful for. However, Thanksgiving has now taken a support role as a staging point for the great retail holiday, otherwise known as Christmas.

The spending frenzy of Black Friday has infected the Thanksgiving holiday itself with major retailers opening doors Thursday to get the jump on the competition. A Forbes Magazine report states “A Black Friday spending analysis from the credit card giant (MasterCard) shows a whopping 70 percent of consumer spending happens at the first two stores they visit.” So, make sure you are one of those two stores. Locally, that’s going to be Walmart and somebody else. It’s the retail version of the “arms race,” with each competitive escalation needing to be matched to stay in the game.


The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature (NCSTHL) heard from state leaders during its final meeting of 2013. In addition, the group also chose a new resolution to add to its current four resolutions sent to the North Carolina General Assembly for consideration. The group elected new executive officers and celebrated the outgoing Speaker.

The final report for the year came from Dennis Streets, director of the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services (OMS). Streets offered encouraging words to the group and thanked everyone for their service stating "the difference that you have made since 1992 is immeasurable." He also explained how the federal government "shutdown" will impact OMS. "This reaches down into each of our communities,” explained Streets. "Many of our services are dependent on federal funds, and the hard part is to decide what will be affected." Streets stated that he is working to keep advocates as well as service providers posted on current and correct information as he receives it.


Back in my younger days, the dominate filler expression in conversation was “you know.” It was a verbal comma that overpopulated speech. It sounded more hip than being silent or uttering, uh. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum and that must be true concerning speech as well. "You know" is still going strong, but has been replaced as the numberone speech extender by the word “basically.”

A few months ago while having a conversation with a person who is currently in his younger days, my attention was drawn to his propensity of interjecting “basically” in what seemed to be every other sentence. I decided that the next time he and I spoke, I would count the times “basically” was used in a two-minute span. I never made the survey because I discovered that I too, had been infected by the “basically” meme and unbeknownst to my conscious mind, had been regurgitating the word on a regular basis.


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