Tag Archives: local news

Repaying Your Student Loan: 7 Essential Tips You Should Know

October 26, 2013

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If you borrowed money to finance your college education, you are in good company. According to data from FICO, the average student owes educational financiers $27,253; a figure which represents a 58% rise since 2005. The following tips will come in handy as you prepare to repay your student loan. [...]

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Three Must-See Destinations in Augusta, Georgia

October 20, 2013

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Near the mouth of the Savannah River you will find Augusta, Georgia’s third-largest city. Bordering South Carolina and 136 feet above sea level, Augusta experiences hot, humid summers and mild winters with occasional freezes. Augusta was named in honor of Augusta Saxe Gotha. She was a princess of Wales born in the year 1736, the year in which Augusta was established. The city has since grown to a healthy population of over 500,000.

If you’re a golf fan, you know that Augusta hosts the famous Masters Tournament each year. But there’s more to this place than golf. History buffs flock to the Georgia area. In fact, the Historic District encompasses most of downtown, honoring Georgia’s pre-Civil War history and her role in the conflict. You will also find the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson, a history museum, an art museum, and a cultural center.

Augusta Museum of History

augusta mesuem of historyAfter stopping by the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau to get your bearings, I recommend heading off to the Augusta Museum of History. The place is dedicated to preserving and interpreting Augusta’s past.

They strive to enrich present and current generations by keeping Augusta’s history alive.  Inside, you will find exhibits on golf, local legends like James Brown and Ty Cobb, and of course everything about Augusta from Indians to the war in Vietnam.

Morris Museum of Art

Now that you have a feel for what Augusta is all about, head over to downtown’s Riverwalk, where you will find the first ever art museum dedicated to artists from the American South. Opening in 1992, the Morris Museum of Art now has an extensive permanent collection that includes paper, photographs, sculptures, and nearly 5,000 paintings. The museum hosts about nine special exhibitions each year, so you never know just what you’ll find!

Presbyterian Manse

Presbyterian ManseAfter a rich experience in the art world, it’s back to history at the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson. The 28th President of the United States (1913-1921), Wilson is known for being a leader of the Progressive Movement. World War I began during his second term. Wilson is also remembered for his statement Fourteen Points, his role in negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, and the organization of the League of Nations.

The charming, two-story house (Presbyterian Manse) serves to depict the life of Woodrow Wilson as a boy who grew up during the Civil War and following Reconstruction. The house is the oldest Presidential residence in Georgia and serves as both a historic attraction and an educational facility. Its white columns will invite you in and make you want to further explore Wilson’s boyhood history.

“Tommy” Wilson lived in the house from 1860-1870. While living there, he experienced the hardships of war, started his education, and became a devout Presbyterian. His experiences here would prepare him for his later responsibilities as President of the United States. Woodrow Wilson’s famous quote proves that he never forgot his roots: “The only place in the country, the only place in the world, where nothing has to be explained to me, is the South.”

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Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1450 Greene Street, Suite 110

Augusta Museum of History: 560 Reynolds Street

The Morris Museum of Art: 1 10th Street

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson: 419 7th Street

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Augusta’s Master Plan for Revitalization

October 14, 2013

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Lee Epstein, attorney and land use planner working for sustainability in the mid-Atlantic region, recently discussed Augusta’s master plan for revitalization, on the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Staff Blog. Below is a summary and highlight of the key points covered. 

augusta streets

The city of Augusta has many faces: some see the sweet green golf courses with fiendish sand traps, while others see it as their home, a heart of the South and third-largest city in the state.

Distressingly, the city has begun to lose its luster, in tune with many other great cities in the United States. These cities are fading due to a combination of empty downtown areas and an increase in suburban sprawl.

The neighborhoods could definitely do with some renovation. Not all is lost, however; the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program has come up with intensive plans to revitalize this old Southern belle of a city.

The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program (ASDIP) has paired up with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to use one of their challenge grants to revitalize Augusta and its empty neighborhoods. The project’s main goal is to upgrade Augusta, injecting sustainable economic development, enhanced transportation, and improved neighborhoods to bring the city back to life. The program is focused on results, not just plans.

regency mallThey hope to work wonders on Downtown Augusta – ranging from the 4.5 mile long Dean’s Bridge Road, to the Regency Mall and through the neighborhoods near the rail yards. Like many malls in America, Regency Mall slowly faded and then died, becoming an abandoned relic. With the ASDIP program in place, it would become a village center, while the neighborhoods leading to the mall would offer the basic amenities needed to sustain a bustling community. These would include farmer’s markets, grocery stores, medical clinics, and small restaurants – all the ingredients needed to create a successful neighborhood. During the rebuilding process, they will also add some mixed-unit and higher density housing, though older neighborhoods will likely remain untouched.

Another large focus of the project would be transportation. Without accessibility, the revitalized sections would never flourish. Many elderly or mid-to-lower income residents don’t have cars or do not drive, so a renewed public transport system will be required to ferry them to the rejuvenated sections of Augusta. The program will also create better walking areas, with repaved sidewalks and more sitting areas in shady sections, as well as pedestrian walkways and crossing areas. Bike lanes will also be implemented and made safer.

The hub of the transport reform would be a new transit center to replace an old bus transfer station. At the same time, a nearby building will be rebuilt to become a pedestrian shopping and commercial village.

They hope to improve the number of parks and playgrounds, as well as renew previously existing ones. The program looks to acquire more land for public parks in strategic neighborhood locations, as well as improve storm water management and other green projects. The public areas would be enriched by public art and mixed-use centers for everyone, creating a welcoming, friendly neighborhood feeling.

Most impressively, this project has been meticulously planned for and articulated, with required costs enumerated and accounted for. Specific proposals have also been evaluated, together with potential funding sources – both public and private. The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program members appear to have spared no effort to make this program successful, identifying all possible ways of fulfilling their plans for urban development as well as managing vacant housing. All in all, this project stands to be one of Augusta’s best chances for revitalization – restoring its former glory as well as propelling it towards the future.

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Five In-Demand Jobs that do not Require a College Degree

October 2, 2013

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In today’s society, you might think that a college degree is required in order to land a great job. But college just isn’t in the cards for some of us. We don’t have the time, the money, or the mindset. If you are one of these people, don’t lose hope! There are plenty of great jobs out there that do not require a college degree.

The majority of all working-class individuals in the United States (as of 2013) do not hold a college degree. Does this surprise you? These people aren’t just delivering pizza or driving garbage trucks. In fact, 30% of these people earn more money than college grads. With diligence and dedication, it is very possible to have a rewarding career without spending all that money on tuition. Based on projected job growth and salary, here are the top five jobs that do not require a college degree:

#5 – Dry Wall Taper

wall taperIf you like to be on your feet and use your hands, this might be a good job for you. A dry wall taper prepares walls for paint after they have been installed. This vocation doesn’t require a high school diploma, an apprenticeship, or a technical degree. You can simply learn the trade from experienced workers. The construction industry is expected to grow as the economy improves. The average salary for a dry wall taper is $45,490. Keep in mind that you will be working in a construction environment and will have to deal with the elements, dangerous materials, and loud noises.

 #4 – Electrician

An electrician is someone humanity will always need, especially considering how technology is advancing. The average salary for these guys is $48,250. Electricians work in all types of buildings from private apartments to offices to stadiums. The more gadgets we develop, the more we need people who know how to fix them. Although you won’t need a college degree to be an electrician, you will need to go through an apprenticeship – but you get paid while you learn! Because you are working with electricity, there is always the rare danger of electrocution.

#3 – Commercial Pilot

If you’re not afraid of heights and have good eyesight, consider becoming a pilot. Although airlines have suffered recently, they are projected to add 6,900 jobs by 2020. The average salary for a commercial pilot is $67,500 (that’s $26,000 more than the average full-time employee). The only requirement for this profession is a commercial pilot’s license and some time at a local flight school. Although many airlines prefer pilots with two- or four-year degrees, it is very possible to become a respected commercial pilot with experience and a pilot’s license. The downside is that you will be away from home a lot as you bounce from city to city.

#2 – Brickmason/Blockmason

brick-masonThe average brickmason earns $46,930 each year. By 2020, the workforce is projected to grow by over 36,000 individuals. With our rapidly increasing population, there is always a need for new hospitals, schools, and homes. Brickmasons are craftsmen who work for construction contractors. Growing urban areas are where they see the most business. Brickmasons are expected to complete a paid apprenticeship lasting three or four years. They will also pick up skills on the job from more experienced workers. Just like any construction job, masons are exposed to the weather along with dangerous materials and loud noises. Make sure to wear your helmet!

#1 – Pile-Driver Operator

Are you a high school grad good with machines? Pile-driver operators make 19% more money than the US average. With on-the-job training, you can become a pile-driver operator in no time. The average salary for this profession is $47,860. In this job, you might work on oil rigs, cranes, barges, or skids. Using large machines, you will drive construction supports deep into the ground. If you’re interested in this job, look towards Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Demand for pile-driver operators is expected to grow nearly three times the rate of all other US jobs in upcoming years. This job may be a little more dangerous than the average job, but if you like to use big machines and work outside, it might just be the perfect job for you.

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Trends in Green Home Design

September 18, 2013

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When you opt for an eco-design home, you will not only be living up to your environmental ideals but saving yourself money too. Green homes incorporate renewable resources and concepts which reduce the amount of water and electricity you consume. With their environmentally friendly design, you are assured of reducing your family’s carbon footprint and ultimately, you will have more money in your wallet and in the bank.

Select eco-friendly door and window designs

Recycling

Maybe there is an argument for a front door fitted with a glass window as it helps light up the entryway. However, this design also allows warmth from the interior to escape. Contrast this with a door made of environmentally friendly and recyclable wood (without a window) which keeps your house energy efficient at all times.

Homes without eco-friendly window designs lose, on average, about 30% of air conditioning and heating energy a month. As different climatic zones have different energy efficiency requirements, look for window designs with an Energy Star rating for your region.

 

Opt for eco-friendly siding

For the best results, go for stucco, wood or aluminum siding. Avoid siding made of PVC as these are infused with toxins not to mention they are neither biodegradable nor reusable.

Go for a natural gas fireplace

Traditional wooden fireplaces may satisfy your nostalgia but burning wood releases harmful pollutants and also encourage deforestation. A natural gas fireplace is a more eco-friendly choice.

Choose green roofing materials

Again, opt for roofing materials with a fitting Energy-Star rating, preferably made of recycled resources. Aluminum metal roofs are highly recommended as they offer excellent heat resistance and can be reused again and again.

Opt for renewable energy to run your HVAC system

Solar panels are a sensible choice for anyone looking to cut their energy bills. While the cost of installing a solar panel system at home may be high, the system begins paying for itself immediately with lower (sometimes even eliminating) energy bills. Moreover, homes with solar installations have a higher resale value.

Natural gas is also comparatively energy efficient when it comes to running heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. Just be certain that the equipment you go for has the relevant Energy Star rating.

Go for bamboo flooring

Bamboo is by far the most eco-friendly and resilient flooring material you can find. Being a type of grass, bamboo is quick to grow and therefore is sustainable and renewable. Best of all, the material is as sturdy and durable as oak and other hardwood flooring materials.

Use a tank-less water heater or solar thermal heater

Tank-less water heating systems are more energy efficient than traditional heaters fitted with tanks. Solar thermal water heaters, while a trifle more costly, are even more eco-friendly. You will reduce your energy bill by at least half and your house will never run out of hot water.

Use natural paints for your walls

Paints made from natural materials such as plant extracts, oils and minerals are not only safer but also eco-friendly. Such paints are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a well known pollutant.

Ensure your plumbing is green

Clay pipes are highly recommended for underground pipes in place of PVC, a form of plastic infused with harmful toxins. For pipes above the ground, alternatives such as galvanized steel, zinc and aluminum are highly recommended eco-friendly options.

Go for furniture made from recyclable and renewable materials

It is prudent to take time in choosing furniture that complements the look and appearance of your entire home. When it comes to eco-friendly furniture materials, you will be spoilt for choice from alternatives such as bamboo, rattan, teak and recycled wood.

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