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Publisher Points - We would like to work with you in 2023

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BARNES Photo for Columnby Kelli Barnes

A newspaper, by definition, brings news of interest to the area where published, in the form of the printed page. If a newspaper is good, it will be useful to you. Yes, searching in multiple places to find what you need to know is an option, but the job of the newspaper is to compile a good mixture of information about the community into one central, convenient location. The more cooperation between the newspaper and the community, the more valuable the newspaper will be to its residents, organizations, and businesses.

Unfortunately, individuals can get in the way of this process because of personality conflicts. Or, it can happen by withholding information from the newspaper, by discounting the need for the newspaper, or simply just forgetting to bring information to the paper for publication. This does hurt our small business, but more importantly, it hurts the community. The stronger the newspaper, the stronger the community. This is a fact we cannot ignore. We may not always agree, but we can all agree one centralized location to disseminate information is valuable.

Each week, you will find obituaries, stories about meetings and events, church information, classified and display advertising from local and regional merchants. Also, legal notices concerning important upcoming activities in the community are required to be printed in the newspaper of record. School sports and information about student progress is included. Information from the local sheriff and police departments, in addition to stories about all school boards, city councils and commissioners court are here to keep you informed of current activities when you cannot attend.

I understand there is a group of people who do not read newspapers or consume any news. We want to reach those who want and need to be informed. Readers are our audience, then they take the information to all the others in our community via word of mouth. Thirty-plus years of research back up this theory and it holds true.

If you are in a place of authority or privy to information useful and of interest to our community, please make the commitment to open a line of communication with the newspaper. We are here for you and for the betterment of the community. We will not become the story, we will not make a judgement, but we will present information in a straightforward manner. Our journalists are professionals, and I am committed to keeping trained journalists in our community.

There is a place in the newspaper for editorials, letters to the editor, and paid advertisements. These are not to be mistaken for news items, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the newspaper. Keep them coming.

Finally, let me wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This season means different things to different people and produces different emotions depending on life experience and current life situations. For me, this season is a time to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus. He alone can bring true peace, and produce lasting faith, hope, and love. Seek Him.

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Music choice one that will make the mood

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas

If there’s a person that loves Christmas, that person would be … my wife.

Seriously. At last count, there were seven (!) fully dressed and themed Christmas trees in my house. Each bedroom (four of them) had decorated mini trees.

There’s something like 15 doors facing into living areas, each of which have wreaths of various styles hanging on them. Even the coat closet, if you can imagine that. Every one of those doors also sport door hangers, from gymnastic snowmen to bells.

The dining room table and the kitchen island are having a Survivor Series match on which flat surface can hold the most decorations, Christmas Village displays, and Thomas Kinkade Santa figurines.

I have five Nativity scenes, ranging from expensive porcelain to hand-me-down plastic to Snowbabies sets. With the exception of the Hungarian nutcracker and Santa figurine, I’ve not really contributed much to this.

I am, though, in charge of outside, and I do a pretty respectable job there, but my largest and most enjoyed contribution to the season is music.

My Christmas-loving wife was mired in the traditional Perry Como-esque version of Christmas music, as every one of her CDs was traditional (or Country, bless her heart) fare, or at least the latest Christmas CD as put out by Dillard’s.

One day, I introduced her to “Christmas in the Aire” by Mannheim Steamroller. Wow is and understatement; she proceeded to buy the rest of the group’s available albums, and each year when a new one comes out, our collection grows.

We then grabbed up the three holiday CDs put out by Trans-Siberian Orchestra and loved those so much we even caught them in concert (which, if you have the chance, you should do. They’re amazing.).

So, along with certain movies, such as “The Bishop’s Wife,” “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott, and the musical “Scrooge,” there are certain songs I will listen to each and every Christmas which are guaranteed to prop up my flagging Christmas spirit (that, along with hot buttered rum, but I digress).

•“O Holy Night.” This is for me the absolute best, bar none, Christmas carol ever ever ever. It’s even in the running for the best song ever.

Aside from the fact that it deals with the real reason for the season, the adoration in the lyrics, especially when delivered by a masterful singer (like Michael Crawford), stokes me like no other. I truly feel the presence of the Lord when I hear this.

•“This Christmas Day” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. An original song that I first heard during the PBS special “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” A runaway girl, through the miracle of Christmas, returns home, and this song is about the father’s joy.

The opening line, “So tell me Christmas, are we wise?” is also completely thought-provoking to me, and a question I ask myself every year. Did I do well? Did I make a difference? Was I, like Bill Murray said, “the person that I always hoped I would be?”

•“Los Pesces en el Rio” by Mannheim Steamroller. While all instrumental, with a few oohs thrown in, it’s a toe-tapping romp that’s a lot of fun. Also from that album is “Joy to the World,” which started me on my continuing journey with this wonderful group.

•“Campanas de Belen,” a Spanish children’s Christmas carol.

As a youngish lad, I was a member of the Catholic Youth Organization while I was living in Spain (my dad was stationed in the military there). We did numerous cultural exchanges, not only with the CYO but with the schools, and once there was a performance of this song during a Christmas program. I was particularly captured by the tambourine player, who was doing things with the instrument I would never have thought of.

Between the sentiment of the song, and the coming together of two cultures, I was enthralled.

So, while it may take a little music to get my heart in the right spot, it gets there. If you need a little help, try music, and we all can make a joyous noise unto the Lord.

Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Will this be your best Christmas ever?

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121812 danny tyree

By Danny Tyree

When writing advertising copy, I sometimes find myself desperately searching for a zinger of a tag line - and settling for trite admonitions such as “Make this the best hunting season ever” or “Make this the best summer vacation ever.”

I despise such capitulations to deadlines, because listeners with terminal illnesses, maxed-out credit cards or fruitless marriage counseling sessions may perceive the sentiments as glib or clueless.

Never is the situation more danger-fraught than at Christmas. A melancholy Judy Garland yuletide favorite notwithstanding, an ill-timed “Have the merriest Christmas ever” can hit people the wrong way.

Assuming you don’t relish being hit the wrong way, take the reindeer by the horns (er, antlers) and accept responsibility for your own Merry Christmas. Clement C. Moore wrote about a visit from Saint Nicholas; he never promised that LIFE was going to climb down your chimney with goodies galore. So like Ms. Garland, you may have to brainstorm ways to “muddle through somehow.”

Cherished memories can be both a blessing and a curse around the holidays. Sideline your rose-colored glasses and apply some perspective to those much-ballyhooed “simpler times.” Not everything is perfect for everyone all the time. In those halcyon days of visiting your grandparents and playing with an inexhaustible supply of cousins, it’s very likely that your “carefree” grandparents had already lost their own grandparents.

It’s likely that someone in the crowd struggled with polio or tuberculosis, or lost sleep worrying about loved ones facing enemy fire. Unless you grew up in a prolonged economic sweet spot, your stoic mom and dad probably had to make genuine sacrifices to see that you had that bike or that dolly.

On these cold, gray winter days, some people spend less time stoking the fireplace than fanning the embers of old grudges. Be the better person and try reaching out to friends and relatives who are no longer in your social circle. Practice deflecting touchy topics. Santa’s elves have a corner on building toys - try building some bridgesto replace those that you’ve burned behind you.

Accentuate the positive. Instead of counting the empty seats at the table, count the freckles on that step-grandchild you’re meeting for the first time. Count the job offers heaped upon that nephew who lives on the far side of the country. Count the extra hours of family time that modern conveniences afford you (if everyone will forego the modernly convenient smartphone for a few hours).

Bad habits can steal all the happiness of Christmas. Don’t feel obligated to wait until the ball has dropped in Times Square to unleash your resolutions - get a head start.

If you’ve worn out a pair of scissors clipping obituaries from the newspaper, it’s time to be proactive and make some new friends. Depending on your budget and your mobility, do your best to get to know your neighbors, strike up a conversation while standing in line, volunteer to feed the less fortunate or send a card of encouragement to a young stranger who exhibits good citizenship.

Even with all my coaching, this may not be your best Christmas ever. Or even in the Top 5. But loneliness and regret don’t have to be inevitable parts of anyone’s Christmas. (Reasonable) happiness is yours for the taking.

I say the following with the least glibness and cluelessness possible: Have yourself a Merry Christmas.

Copyright 2022 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

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I did it. So what?

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Whatever happened to consequences, and whatever happened to the rule of law?

Recent events have me puzzled about what it actually means to the phrase actions have consequences.

Growing up, my dad gave me a pretty simple rule about my behavior, particularly as I grew older: Do what you want, just don’t get caught.

I didn’t take that as a challenge, mind you; I did have my moments, but when I did, I suffered the penalties.

Even when I didn’t do anything wrong, I suffered the penalties. Being as how I was the son of a cop, there were certain lessons I was taught that were meant to be object lessons. For instance, I was with some friends in a store, and one of them felt the need to shoplift. Since I was around, I was scooped up.

Although I insisted loudly and continually about my innocence, I was still given the full arrest treatment, and later told that it was for my own good. Turned out it might have been, since I’m not a master thief.

News reports indicate that society today has tacked differently, offering leniency for crime, or outright refusing to prosecute for some misdemeanors (most if you live in California). In certain major cities, stores of major chains are being shuttered because shoplifters are not arrested or prosecuted.

The Securities and Exchange Commission cracks down on certain hedge fund managers for insider trading, but legislators in Washington, D.C., who make just over $200,000 a year, leave office as millionaires because of their inside knowledge, and no one makes a peep.

Brittney Griner, who was convicted for violating the laws of Russia and was sentenced to a Russian prison, was released last week in a prisoner swap for a Russian arms dealer who sells arms to terrorists. Seems our government bowed to pressure toward the swap, and a woman who violated the law has escaped serving her 9-year sentence.

Maybe it’s me, but I was under the impression that prisoner exchanges were done for high-dollar political reasons for high-profile prisoners. Maybe it’s also me, but it seems that a prison sentence is something to be served, not something to be bartered.

Certain prosecutors have been put in place that have vowed to ignore certain laws and events for budgetary and personnel reasons.

Celebrity status or political connections, a la Hunter Biden or Ghislaine Maxwell, leads to little or no prosecution.

All of these are symptoms leading to one fairly obvious conclusion, and that is we have a burgeoning problem in this country. For instance, look at the days of rage. Weeks of riots, property damage, looting and arson followed police shootings. People claiming injury over some slight took over private property to demand justice, then demanded they be given anything they need.

Bullying has become such a problem in schools. School violence itself has grown, and that includes shootings.

In short, these are consequences.

If you remove the moral center of laws, such as religion, and couple that with reduced or ignored penalties for criminal acts, it stands to reason that more and more heinous acts will follow. Plus, the sad byproduct of this is that good, law-abiding and decent people are forced to guard themselves.

That’s backwards, and could lead to collapse, so it’s time for us to face our own music.

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Decking the malls with nostalgia

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121812 tom purcell

Tom Purcell HeadBy Tom Purcell

I read a great piece in the Tribune-Review about the nostalgia many Pittsburghers hold for their favorite old suburban shopping malls — especially around the holidays.

Malls around the country are in trouble these days. Experts say their Golden Age ended years ago and Pittsburgh proves it.

Century III Mall, which was a hub of activity when it opened in the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh in 1979, has been shuttered since 2019.

In the city’s eastern suburbs, Monroeville Mall has many empty retail storefronts.

South Hills Village is the mall my friends and I frequented during our high school years in the ‘70s.

A year ago I wrote about my experiences and my affection for “The Village,” which in our era of constant disruption is holding strong as far as malls go.

Disruption is said to be a healthy thing for a vibrant economy — though the decline of malls proves it is not often pleasant.

Just as the migration from city neighborhoods to the suburbs disrupted and ultimately killed most big department stores in downtown centers, online shopping has disrupted and, in some cases, has killed suburban malls.

Regrettably, there is another reason fewer people are frequenting malls: fear of violence.

According to the American Psychological Association, more than a third of Americans fear going to crowded public places, such as malls, because they fear mass shootings.

Social media sensationalizes relatively rare acts of violence and makes us more fearful in our daily lives than we should be.

But Psychology Today reports that “active shooter” incidents in public spaces have in fact increased considerably since 2017.

Google “mall and shooting” and several stories will pop up.

Most are not mass shootings, but the ugly truth is that in the back of many people’s minds when they head to the mall they are worried about someone planning violence.

The Tribune-Review article shares examples of the tremendous nostalgia people have for the malls where they spent their formative years — a nostalgia that I share.

I’ve never been a big shopper, but the mall was always a cheerful and eventful place to visit, especially during the holiday season.

I remember one year in the 9th grade when I saved enough money to buy my mom and dad a lava lamp at Spencer Gifts, the store specializing in nutty and funny items.

My dad did his best to thank me when he opened that gift on Christmas morning, but it was clear he was thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with a lava lamp!”

The truth is, though today I live only five or six miles away from South Hills Village, I don’t often visit it. The last time was to buy a new black suit for my dad’s funeral.

I have no plans to visit the Village during the Christmas season, either, and I have no idea how busy the place is now.

But I do fondly remember the energy and excitement of visiting it in my “mall-rat” years.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas was always alive there. We never knew what to expect — or what friend we might bump into along the crowded walkways.

Those fun, carefree days of shopping at the mall are a thing of the past now — for me and many others.

But if someone were to visit Spencer Gifts to buy me a lava lamp for Christmas, I’d be forever in that person’s debt!

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Purcell, creator of the infotainment site ThurbersTail.com, which features pet advice he’s learning from his beloved Labrador, Thurber, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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