Moody’s assigns Aa3 to Kentucky’s $9.1M first mortgage revenue refunding bonds …

by Shelton on December 31st, 2015

filed under Below Average Credit

Kentucky has $7.9B of lease-appropriation debt outstanding

New York, December 09, 2015 —

Moodys Rating

Issue: First Mortgage Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2016
(Justice Center Project); Rating: Aa3; Sale Amount:
$9,080,000; Expected Sale Date: 12/16/2015;
Rating Description: Lease Rental: Appropriation

Opinion

Moodys Investors Service has assigned a Aa3 rating to $9.1
million Grant County, Kentucky Public Properties Corporations first
mortgage revenue refunding bonds (Justice Center Project) Series 2016.
The bonds are expected to price on or around December 16.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The rating is based on the credit quality of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
(issuer rating of Aa2, stable), the subject-to-appropriation
nature of the payments supporting the bonds, and the commonwealths
significant reliance on appropriation-backed financings to fund
capital investments.

The rating also reflects Kentuckys record of proactive financial control
and an economy that has benefitted from auto sector recovery. Low
per-capita income levels, above-average state debt
and very large unfunded pension liabilities contribute to a below-average
credit profile compared to most other states.

OUTLOOK

Kentuckys outlook is stable based on the expectation it will continue
to manage its finances responsibly and work to improve the financing of
teacher pensions, against a background of continued below-average
state economic growth.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP

-Sustained economic and revenue growth, with structural balance
in state finances and limited reliance on non-recurring resources

-Build-up and maintenance of reserves

-Significant improvement in pension funding levels

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN

-Sustained economic slowing, resulting in weaker revenue
performance that strains commonwealth finances

-Depletion of reserves with no replenishment, or indications
of strained liquidity

-Continued trend of negative GAAP basis ending balances,
or continued reliance on non-recurring resources, particularly
use of additional deficit financing, to balance the commonwealths
budget

-Failure to address declining pension system funded levels

OBLIGOR PROFILE

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a population of 4.4 million people
and a gross state product of $150 billion. It has a large
and diverse economy, but relatively low wealth levels.

The commonwealth has a four-tiered court system called the Court
of Justice that includes the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals,
circuit courts and district courts. The Administrative Office of
the Courts (AOC) serves as the staff for the Court of Justice, administered
by the Commonwealths Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. AOCs
duties include, among other things, providing offices and
court space for the entire court system and dispersing and maintaining
supplies and equipment. The Court of Justice is funded through
appropriations from Kentuckys General Assembly and represents approximately
3% of the total General Fund.

Grant County, Kentucky Public Properties Corporation is a nonprofit,
non-stock public and governmental corporation organized and existing
under the law of the Commonwealth. The corporations principal
purpose is to act as an agency and instrumentality of the county in the
planning, promotion, development, financing and acquisition
by the corporation for and on behalf of the county of public improvements
and public projects for the county.

LEGAL SECURITY

PAYMENTS FOR DEBT SERVICE PROVIDED UNDER BIENNIALLY RENEWABLE LEASE

The bonds are payable solely from lease rental payments from the commonwealths
Administrative Office of the Courts under a lease agreement, as
supplemented, with the corporation. Per the lease,
AOC is obligated to make rental payments, including payment of a
Use Allowance equal to debt service and an Operating Costs Allowance
payment to cover operating costs.

AOC is obligated to make semi-annual rental payments of the Use
Allowance directly to the trustee two business days prior to the debt
service payment due dates. The Operating Costs Allowance payment
is made to the county. Rental payments are made pursuant to the
terms of the lease agreement, which is automatically renewable for
successive biennial periods unless terminated in writing by AOC.

AOC covenants in the lease to seek sufficient legislative appropriations
to make rental payments for each biennial period. The General Assembly
has no obligation to make appropriations for rental payments, and
AOC has no obligation to renew the lease. Under the Mortgage Deed
of Trust, a foreclosable first mortgage lien on the project has
been granted to the trustee. In addition, the interests of
the corporation in the lease (excluding the Operating Costs Allowance)
have been assigned to the trustee. In the event of a default on
the bonds, the trustee may sell or re-let the facility to
benefit bondholders.

The lease may be amended to reduce AOCs use of the facility and,
correspondingly, reduce its required rental payments. Any
such amendment, however, would be contingent on the countys
assumption of the reduced portion and confirmation by Moodys that the
outstanding rating on the bonds would not be withdrawn or downgraded as
a result of the amendment.

LEASE PERMITS ABATEMENT, RENTAL CREDITS

Should the project be destroyed or damaged such that it is rendered unusable
by AOC, rental payments may be abated until AOC regains use of the
project. As protection against such an event, rental interruption
insurance sufficient to cover twenty-four months of debt service
is required per the lease. In addition, the lease provides
for an assessment of whether or not the project could be sufficiently
renovated in twenty-four months. If the project cannot be
repaired within twenty-four months of the date of damage to the
point that it is sufficiently of use to AOC that AOC will make rental
payments, insurance proceeds will be used to discharge the bonds.
Per the lease, casualty insurance is provided at full replacement
value of the project.

Certain rental credits are permitted if AOC incurs operating costs in
performing maintenance or other functions that are the obligation of the
county under the lease. These credits, however, may
only be taken against the Operating Costs Allowance, which AOC pays
to the county for operating costs.

USE OF PROCEEDS

The bonds are being issued to advance refund the Grant County, Kentucky
Public Properties Corporation first mortgage revenue bonds (Justice Center
Project) Series 2007. The refunding plan is being undertaken to
provide interest cost savings to the county and the AOC.

RATING METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was The Fundamentals of
Credit Analysis for Lease-Backed Municipal Obligations published
in December 2011. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com
for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series
or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings
are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moodys
rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular
rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the
support providers credit rating. For provisional ratings,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation
to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive
rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt,
in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed
prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would
have affected the rating. For further information please see the
ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit
rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating
review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to
the lead rating analyst and to the Moodys legal entity that has issued
the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com
for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Anne Cosgrove
Vice President – Senior Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moodys Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
USA.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Emily Raimes
VP – Sr Credit Officer/Manager
Public Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moodys Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
USA.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moodys assigns Aa3 to Kentuckys $9.1M first mortgage revenue refunding bonds (Justice Center Project), issued by Grant County, Kentucky Public Properties Corp.; outlook stable

What your credit score means and why it matters

by Shelton on December 30th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

SALT LAKE CITY Experts say maintaining a good credit rating is always critical. From buying a home to obtaining a credit card or purchasing a vehicle, almost any major purchase involves a consumers creditworthiness.

Unless you can pay cash for everything, living with poor credit can be very expensive. How much consumers pay for credit is heavily dependent upon their credit score.

In the US, a credit score is a number representing the creditworthiness of a person the likelihood that the individual will repay his or her debt obligations. In general, lenders such as banks and credit card companies use credit scores to evaluate the potential risk posed by lending money to consumers.

The most prevalent metric in use by most financial institutions is the classic FICO score. Originally founded in 1956 as Fair, Isaac and Co. by engineer Bill Fair and mathematician Earl Isaac, FICO is a measure of credit risk that is available through all of the major consumer reporting agencies in the United States, including among others Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

The company debuted its first general-purpose FICO score in 1989. The credit score range for the standard (classic) consumer FICO score is 300 to 850.

Credit scores are designed to measure the risk of default by taking into account various factors in a persons financial history, explained Murray-based mortgage adviser Al Bingham, who is also the author of The Road to 850: Proven Strategies for Improving Your Credit Score.

According to Bingham, a good credit score today is above 740, which is higher than it used to be because of more stringent standards imposed by lenders. After the financial crisis, what many creditors now consider as good credit is a bit higher than the traditional 720 benchmark that was accepted for so many years in the past, he said.

For perspective, Bingham described a 720 score as the lower edge of the above average range, which would still result in consumers paying slightly higher interest rates on loans and credit cards. In prior years, such scores would have qualified for the best interest rates available, indicative of stellar creditworthiness.

In the current credit environment, more consumers are falling into categories that end up costing them thousands of dollars in added interest costs over the long run, Bingham said.

The actual cost from a decent-to-lower credit score has jumped substantially over the last few years, he said. This can be attributed primarily to the fallout from the financial crisis.

Even though that period is mostly in the rearview mirror, credit requirements generally continue to be held at high levels in order for consumers to qualify for the best terms, interest rates and insurance premiums, he explained. Having an acceptable credit score in the high 600s or the low 700s is no longer the minimum desired score; it is approaching the upper 700s, he said.

Establishing a solid credit history is important in todays credit-driven society, and there are literally hundreds of strategies for maintaining or improving ones score, he added, with making on-time payments and reducing debt as common themes. But there is much more to it, he said.

No matter what your credit score is, create a viable plan. Identify and work with a reputable credit expert, or with a credit counseling agency that has experienced counselors, to create a successful plan, Bingham advised. A plan should correctly answer the four critical questions to credit score improvement: What accounts to keep open and use, what accounts to close, what accounts to pay down with your resources, and account activity. Failure to correctly answer these four questions will lower your scores.

He also advised that developing multiple golden accounts those accounts open for at least 10 years is a critical strategy.

If possible, avoid high levels of debt on credit card, auto and home loans, he said. Consumers never know what tomorrow brings, and one small financial hiccup can topple an excellent credit rating for years to come. That one small hiccup can easily cost a consumer tens of thousands of dollars.

The changes in the current credit market are forcing many consumers to take a more informed approach to credit management, one analyst said.

People are becoming smarter in regard to what their credit score means, said John Potter, senior vice president and credit administrator for Zions Bank. (Thats) pushing the scores up and interest rates lower for customers.

He said that as consumers become more aware of how to manage their credit and improve their overall score, the number of people with higher FICO scores is increasing. He also noted that many consumers learned some valuable sometimes difficult lessons as a result of the economic downturn.

While the financial crisis was challenging, the silver lining may be that lenders are much more careful about whom they approve, and consumers are more knowledgeable about the consequences of poor money and credit management.

Becoming educated as soon as possible is the best way to develop into a savvy consumer, said Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah.

Its really important for students to start early, she said. Its important to get going and start to build a credit history.

While FICO has not released the exact formulas for calculating credit scores, the company has disclosed the various components, she explained.

The largest proportion of the formula payment history is 35 percent, she noted, with debt burden comprising 30 percent, length of credit history at 15 percent, the kind of credit used (installment, revolving, consumer finance or mortgage) at 10 percent, and the final 10 percent based on recent searches for credit, which happen when consumers apply for a new credit card or loan.

She recalled helping her daughter launch a credit history as a teenager by putting her on her personal credit accounts at local department stores. Even though her daughter wasnt necessarily making purchases, she was benefiting from her moms usage and meticulous payment habits.

Had she needed a student loan (for college), she probably could have gotten one on her own because she would have had those years behind her of a good credit history, House explained.

She recommends that young people obtain a credit card to help them learn how to be responsible and become financially competent.

The best thing for parents to do is to put kids on a credit card to start showing lenders that (they) can handle a loan, she said. If the child is still living at home, then the parent can monitor and help and teach (them) how to use a credit card responsibly.

On the contrary, if the parent waits until their children are out of school, they have wasted a significant opportunity to impart critical knowledge about sensible credit management, House added.

Using a single credit card for everyday purchases and paying it off in full each month can help build a strong credit history that shows creditors that you are a good risk, she said.

It doesnt mean piling on debt, she said. It just means using a credit card to pay your bills. Youre using it to build good credit.

The more consumers learn about developing strong credit, House said, the less fearful they will become and the more they will be able to work within the system.

Visit MyFICO.com to learn more about bolstering an individuals credit score.

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

The Invisibility Cloak of Traditional Credit Scores

by Shelton on December 29th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

How Alternative Credit Data Brings the ‘Credit Invisible’ into View

By Patrick Reemts

Purchasing a home was once viewed as a rite of passage for young adults, similar to getting a driver’s license or graduating college.

As millennials–those ages 18 to 29–approach the age when home buying traditionally happens, few are actually entering the mortgage market, not for lack of interest or effort, however. This generation faces a variety of challenges, which may impact the future of the housing market.

Millennial Credit and Behavior Trends

According to a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Data Point: Credit Invisibles,” young adults have a high incidence of being “credit invisible,” meaning their credit histories render them unscorable based on the traditional credit scoring methods. Traditional credit scores, like FICO credit scores, are calculated based on mortgage, credit card, auto loan, and other installment loan payment histories.

Given that millennials have not had the opportunity to develop a “traditional” credit history, in part due to the recent recession and tightening of lending policies (Credit CARD Act of 2009), this demographic often does not qualify for financing with traditional credit scoring practices. Data released by the Federal Reserve Board of New York shows more than two-thirds of the under-30 age group have credit scores under 681. Almost 40 percent of this age group have scores less than 621, while many others do not have credit scores at all.

Since credit bureau scores weigh heavily in the credit decisioning process, millennials are potentially being barred from the mortgage market due to the widespread industry use of traditional credit scoring models, which render them “credit invisible,” making it extremely challenging to secure a mortgage.

Given the number of credit invisibles, it’s clear lenders need to rely on more than just traditional credit data sources.

Alternative credit data sources include insights from the wireless, banking, peer-to-peer lending, checking and savings, and subprime markets, along with address change histories, to deliver a precise and unique view of a consumer’s credit risk and worthiness.

However, the mortgage industry has been the slowest to adopt alternative credit data because even with programs like HUD, which has a mission to “create quality affordable homes for all,” mortgage lenders are reluctant to adopt new risk management tools due to heavy government oversight.

According to ID Analytics’ recent whitepaper, “Millennials: High Risk or Untapped Opportunity?” millennials were found to engage most with financial products and services that are the most available to them, especially ones that have not been affected by the Credit CARD Act of 2009.

Dispelling the Myths Around Millennials and Credit

ID Analytics’ study reveals millennials are denied at a much higher rate than others, despite outperforming other demographics within the same credit score range. For example, baby boomers and generation X are two to three times more likely than millennials to become delinquent in making a payment by 12 months or more.

Across the financial marketplace, there is a misconception that millennials do not want to establish or use credit. However, the study uncovered that this generation is, in fact, applying for credit but being denied based on new challenges, standards and policies.

This lack of information reflecting their healthy financial habits is the biggest barrier to entry for millennials looking to jump into the mortgage market.

When taking a comprehensive look at the generation, it is difficult to deny that millennials are facing unprecedented financial challenges that previous generations did not encounter.

What This Means for the Housing Market

Millennials want to establish credit and buy homes, but they are being overlooked because of traditional data sources. Given that traditional scoring does not accurately capture this group’s credit worthiness and risk, there is an urgent need for a solution that welcomes the 75.3 million millennials in the United States to the financial marketplace.

The solution is to find a way to assess credit worthiness that provides insights into millennial purchasing behavior, rather than relying solely on traditional metrics.

Using a score that includes alternative data, such as the individual’s credit behavior in wireless, banking, peer-to-peer lending, checking and savings and the subprime markets, will be more telling for the industries where millennials are seeking to establish credit relationships.

Editors note: This select print feature appears in the December 2015 edition of MReport magazine, available now.

Police seize 70 pounds of pot, cash from OR house

by Shelton on December 28th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

(WBIR) Oak Ridge police have seized 70 pounds of marijuana, two vehicles and more than $23,000 in cash after executing a search warrant at a house on Carlisle Lane.

Nicholas Salpas, 30, who lived at 102 Carlisle Lane, also faces charges that include manufacture, sale or possession of a controlled substance within a school zone.

Oak Ridge police, with members of the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force served a warrant Wednesday at the house. They were assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and, according to police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

About $4,000 in cash was seized Wednesday. They found the pot stored in vaccum-sealed bags.

The following day in a supplemental investigation another $19,000 was seized, according to the police department.

The 7th Judicial District Attorney also has placed a lien against the Carlisle Lane property.

Peabody Energy – A Look At Cash Flow In 2016

by Shelton on December 28th, 2015

filed under Business Loans

My previous article on Peabody raised questions on why I saw a serious bankruptcy risk for the company in 2016.

In this article, I explain my views on Peabodys cash flow in 2016.

The company will not run out of cash next year.

However, this does not mean it wont file for bankruptcy protection at the end of 2016.

PM Narendra Modi seen pivoting from roads to fields in next budget

by Shelton on December 27th, 2015

filed under House Loan

Calculators

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  • Financial Planner

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  • Investment Guidance

What’s a ‘Good’ Debt?

by Shelton on December 27th, 2015

filed under Student Credit Cards

Thanks to the economic downturn and its lingering effects, the word debt predominantly carries a negative connotation. But you may have heard in the midst of balancing your budget or planning for retirement, that not all financing is created equal. In fact, some debts, experts suggest, may be good for you. But what exactly does this mean?

What Is Good Debt?

Simply put, good debt is any debt that offers a return on the investment, Rod Griffin, director of public education for credit bureau Experian, said. For instance, a mortgage is often considered good debt since in normal times, [the home associated with it] has some gain in equity, he said. Other examples of good debt can include student loans (with the return being the higher salary and improved job prospects you could command with an education) or even low-interest lines of credit you take on in order invest in stocks or retirement funds.

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What Is Bad Debt?

Bad debt, on the other hand, is debt thats going to land you in financial trouble, Griffin said. Its any credit that youre taking out or utilizing without a clear-cut plan of how to pay it back. Using a high-interest credit card to cover a shopping spree or taking out a payday loan to make extra holiday purchases are examples of bad debt.

Does My Credit Score Reward Good Debt?

Technically, no. Most credit scoring models do reward you for having a diverse portfolio of accounts and revolving debts (like credit cards) are often weighted more heavily than installment loans (like auto financing) because you determine how much credit you are going to use and pay off each month, Griffin said. But determining whether debt is good or bad is more of a financial management concept — not a credit scoring standard.

Scores don’t distinguish between what we define as good debt and bad debt, Griffin said. Instead, they look at how well youre managing all your credit lines. Making on-time payments and keeping balances low is important whether or not theres a long-term investment to recoup on the financing. You can see how your current debts are affecting your credit scores by viewing your free credit report summary each month on Credit.com.

How Can I Avoid Taking on Bad Debt?

First off, remember that you dont have to take every credit offer that comes your way, Griffin said. Instead, ask yourself before formally applying if you will be able to pay off the debt, when you will be able to pay off the debt and what you will be giving up to take on the new liability.

Look at your overall financial picture, Griffin said. If you don’t have a plan to pay something off, it’s probably a bad debt.

More on Managing Debt:

  • The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
  • How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
  • 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt

Image: Fuse

Plan for the future

by Shelton on December 26th, 2015

filed under House Loan

About 20% of a workers salary is used to pay for petrol or public transportation. If the worker has a house loan, another big chunk is taken away, Selvaraj illustrates.

He also proposes that the Government set up a financial education commission to build financial knowledge and skills among young people.

Selvaraj says people should also track their expenditure so that they know where their money goes and can cut back on unnecessary items.

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) CEO Azaddin Ngah Tasir says workers should voluntarily tuck away about 10% of their salaries for long-term savings, on top of the 23% set aside from their monthly wages by the EPF.

This means about 30% of a persons monthly salary is for the future. AKPK also recommends against people having monthly loan repayments exceeding 40% of their monthly income, he says.

Azaddin observes that current lifestyle pressures are different from the past, such as the demand for expensive coffee among the younger generation today.

Last time, earning RM5,000 a month could provide a comfortable life, but now the same amount is easily spent on a variety of costs. Loan repayments for cars, houses and rental of properties are also higher today, he says.

Based on data from the AKPK in September, poor financial management is cited as the top reason for debt problems among Malaysians.

This constitutes 22.1% of total default or debt problems, followed by a failure or slowdown in businesses at 16.7%. High medical expenses (14.2%) is also another factor while other reasons are losing control of credit card usage (10%), retrenchment (9%), and the high cost of living (7.4%).

Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam attributes the lack of savings among young Malaysians to the relatively low salaries paid here.

The Government needs to come up with proper policies to increase wages so that there is enough for expenses and savings, Gopal Kishnam says.

He says a large number of workers withdraw their salaries within a few days of it being banked into their accounts to pay off loans and other expenses.

Having EPF savings alone is not enough. If our income is not even enough for survival, how are we going to save? he questions.

For Malaysians to have more disposable income, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan suggests that there should be a reduction in monthly EPF contributions by employees.

Maybe for the time being, the percentage of income that goes into an employees EPF account could be reduced. Hard times require hard measures, he says.

Shamsuddin suggests that the Government also allow employers to contribute more EPF savings for their workers instead of capping the limit at 19%.

Some caring employers contribute up to 19% to their workers EPF accounts. But why should it stop at 19%? If some companies want to give more, why stop them? he asks.

Independent financial adviser Yap Ming Hui stresses that one of the most important habits that Malaysians should have now is to stick to a proper budget according to ones income. He adds that a high income does not guarantee a debt-free life.

Some people believe that just because they earn RM20,000 or RM30,000 a month, they will not have a problem. But your expenses can still exceed your salary if you are not careful, he says.

Yap says there is too much temptation for Malaysians to spend on, especially for Gen Yers.

Sales and promotions are quite frequent here. A lot of expensive and attractive items are in the market, like smart phones.

If we couple that with the convenience of a credit card, it is very easy to overspend if you do not control yourself, he says.

A good rule of thumb that Yap believes every Malaysian should have is to save something, no matter how much or how little one earns.

Such habits should be cultivated from young to counter the temptation to spend, he says.

Related stories:

Strapped for cash

Measures to help EPF members

Stone County a great place to live or visit

by Shelton on December 25th, 2015

filed under House Loan

Stone County is a beautiful, peaceful and oftentimes overlooked portion of the Tri-Lakes Area that has many places of interest, as well as terrific dining, retail, schools and worship options.

More and more people are discovering its beautiful Ozark Mountain surroundings, neighborly small towns and laid-back lifestyle.

Southern Stone County’s communities such as Kimberling City, Reeds Spring, Indian Point, Branson West, Cape Fair, Lampe and Blue Eye areas offer access to beautiful Table Rock Lake, and central and northern towns and villages, such as Galena, Hurley and Crane feature rivers, streams and rolling pastures among the hills.

Its total land mass consists of about 464 square miles, according to the US Census Bureau, and is home to approximately 31,000 people. An interesting statistic, also according to the bureau, is that the population is about 51 percent men to 49 percent women. It would be hard to get more convenient than that. The median income is right at $41,000.

People living in Stone County reported in 2014 that about 86 percent have lived in their homes longer that one year and, based on the 2009-2013 Census, roughly 87 percent have a high school education or higher.

In short, Stone County is a wonderful place to live or visit and many have yet to explore its assets.

Table Rock Lake has numerous places in Stone County to fish, camp, swim, boat and ski. Scuba diving is available at Indian Point Dive Center in Indian Point. Thousands visit Silver Dollar City each year, you can golf at the stunning Ledgestone Country Club at Stonebridge and customers can still order a delicious twist cone in one of the area’s oldest businesses.

Pop’s Dari Dell, home of the Twist Ice Cream Cone, has been in business since 1958 and owned by the current family for more than 40 years.

Pop’s carries a wide variety of foods, including about 48 sandwiches, chicken, fish, burritos and many others.

Pop’s Twist cones come in vanilla and chocolate or you can order vanilla with your choice of as many as four of the eight different Flavor Bursts available at any given time.

Second-generation family member and owner Dale Minscer, Jr., said there are 258 different flavor combination that can be created with eight Flavor Burst cones. Make it a goal to try all 258 combinations at Pop’s located at 22527 Main Street in Reeds Spring. The restaurant will close Dec. 21 and reopen during the first week of January. Call 417-272-8290 for more information.

Meme’s Antiques amp; Country Cafe, also in Reeds Spring and owned by Judy Thornton, “makes you feel like you’re coming home to grandma’s.”

Thornton offers a menu consisting of delicious Chicken Bruschetta, open-faced roast beef, homemade chicken and dumplings, chicken fried steak, meatloaf and much more.

While you are there, you may spend time shopping or simply looking around at all of the unique items displayed or for sale in the store. You are sure to be satisfied with the entire experience.

Meme’s is located at 17 Spring Street in Reeds Spring. Call 417-272-0009 or visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/memesantiquesandcountrycafe.

One Body Pilates amp; More, owned by Cindy Gortman, teaches the Stott Pilates method.

Pilates is a contemporary approach to the original exercise method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates. The founders of Stott Pilates, along with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, have spent more than two decades refining the Stott method of exercise and equipment. This resulted in the inclusion of modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation, making it one of the safest and most effective methods available.

Strengthening the stabilizing and postural muscles is key in Pilates. Pilates doesn’t just build strength in the large muscles, but works deeper to the smaller muscle groups. By strengthening the stabilizer muscles, Pilates exercises improve stability and this helps improve balance.

One Body Pilates is in Branson West at Claybough Plaza at 11016 State Hwy. 76, Suite 10.

For more, call 417-272-8400, or visit onebodypilatesandmore.com or Facebook at facebook.com/OneBodyPilatesMore.

Wedgewood Gardens Assisted Living is a family owned assisted living facility at 17996 Missouri Business 13 in Reeds Spring.

They believe you will experience a value in Wedgewood Gardens not found in other assisted living communities.

Their package for every resident includes all three meals and snacks; medication administration, management and ordering; nursing care assistance; 24-hour monitoring and assistance; personal laundry services and housekeeping; social interaction and both in-house and outside activities; concierge services, including transportation to activities; assistance obtaining physician-ordered therapies; and all utilities, even cable. They are children- and pet-friendly.

Wedgewood Gardens recently won an award for “World Class Staff.”

Call Wedgewood at 417-272-6666 or visit wedgewoodliving.com.

Table Rock Community Bank is the locally owned bank that has two convenient locations in Stone County in order to better serve the community’s needs.

The expanded mortgage department means all loans are written locally, resulting in fast, in-house loan decisions. The bank’s team of lending professionals is ready to assist in finding the perfect loan for each person.

Totally Free Checking is really free. If you don’t want to keep a minimum balance in your checking account, then free checking could be the account for you.

Online Banking Made Simple is being able to initiate routine transactions and conduct research anytime, from anywhere. Customers can view account balances and transaction history, view account alerts, initiate account transfers and pay bills, whether using a computer, tablet or phone.

In Kimberling City, go to 1 Wildwood Lane or call 417-739-9300. In Branson West, go to 19014 Bus. 13 or call 417-272-9300 or visit trcbank.com

Leona’s Deli at 14894 Bus. Hwy. 13, right at the Branson West-Kimberling City line, has great food, low prices and friendly service.

After 10 years at the current location, Leona’s will move to a new home right across the street, to 14981 Bus. Hwy. 13.

Leona is an excellent cook and many regulars particularly enjoy her homemade soup of the day, and several of the sandwiches, although there is a wide variety of items on the menu that are all especially tasty.

She serves breakfast and lunch and always has a delicious homemade dessert available to purchase.

According to one of her customers, Leona’s is without a doubt the best place on Highway 13 for breakfast and or lunch. Food is excellent, the quantity is correct and the service is above reproach.

Call Leona’s at 417-739-DELI (3354), and remember, she will close Dec. 23 for the move and will reopen sometime in January. Search Leona’s Deli on Facebook for updated information.

Morningside is a place of worship and fellowship where people gather together to study God’s Word in church and in homes.

Morningside is also the home of the daily broadcast of “The Jim Bakker Show.” The show is an hour-long daily broadcast that is aired throughout the world through multiple broadcasts on Direct TV, Dish Network and other worldwide satellites.

In January 2008, Bakker moved the ministry and daily program to Morningside in Blue Eye on 700 acres in the Ozarks hills.

Part of Morningside is the rustic two-mile long Peaceful Valley with springs and streams of water with picnic tables and cabin homes. This valley is also home to the beautiful Tabernacle, which is home to Morningside Master’s Media training school.

If you come for a day or a lifetime, there is a place for you at Morningside.

There is also an RV Park and Wilderness Campground available, as well as condo rentals.

Reservations are not required to join “The Jim Bakker Show” studio audience and seating is free. Tapings may last up to six hours and audience members may stay for any portion.

Morningside is at 180 Grace Chapel Rd. in Blue Eye. Call 417-779-9000 or visit jimbakkershow.com/morningside.

Maple Hill Restaurant at 8089 W. State Hwy. 86 in Cape Fair has many customers that love the food and service.

One customer said Maple Hill has “very good service and delicious food. The people were so friendly and the atmosphere was really very homey. We will be stopping in there every time we are past that way.”

Another said, “Can’t wait to get back up there and visit. Biscuits gravy for breakfast was fantastic.”

Yet another said, “I give Maple Hill five stars. We eat there every chance we can.”

Maple Hill is sure to have great food, service and blackberry cobbler in a friendly family atmosphere at an reasonable price.

Call 417-538-2355 or search Maple Hill Restaurant on Facebook.

Suzie’s Mid-Town Cafe is described as having traditional American-style food with a hint of southern. The restaurant is owned by a US veteran family who support all military service members, past and present. They serve good home cooking at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is basic, including some specials with fried chicken, barbecue and catfish, but according to the menu, some are out of this world.

Suzie’s is located at 22221 Main Street in Reeds Spring.

Call 417-272-0410 or search for Suzie’s on Facebook.

Papouli’s is Reeds Spring’s Greek and American restaurant.

They serve classic Greek dishes and, according to customers, add a personal twist on American favorites.

Many mention the cashew chicken, prime rib and huge margaritas. Others talk about the pork loin, moussaka and fried eggplant.

All say the food is fantastic and Papouli’s has been at this location for decades. If you haven’t eaten there, you are missing out on a local legacy.

A testimonial from one customer said, “My husband and I had our first date here 20-plus years ago and have been coming for our special occasions ever since. The service is excellent and food is magnificent. The owner is a delightful woman, who I believe they call Mama, that was there tending to everyone. We want to recommend that if you have never been here, make time to try this wonderful place on your next night out.”

Papouli’s is at 725 State Hwy. 248 in Reeds Spring. Call 417-272-8243.

Reeds Spring Pizza Co. is also in Reeds Spring at 22065 Main Street.

The website states, “Once upon a time… A French woman, by the name of Flavie (Flaw-Vee), walked into the small town of Reeds Spring and had a vision. Digging deep from within her French heritage, Flavie drew up plans for the Italian sensation, The Reeds Spring Pizza Co. After crossing paths with some great cooks, and with the help of her husband, Paul, and her three daughters, Flavie finally brought her vision to life. Now the pizza shop has been voted “Best Pizza Parlor in Missouri” by USA. Today, it’s a local favorite, and hosts many events, which include live music, stand-up comedy, and the showing of classic, award-winning films.”

The restaurant was also named 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner.

Call 417-272-3507 or visit reedsspringpizzaco.com.

El Lago is the new Mexican restaurant in Branson West at 18942 Bus. 13, across the street from Hardee’s.

El Lago boasts a full bar and features daily specials and now has punch cards so customers can earn punches toward future discounts and they are open all winter. See the coupon on this page for a great Mexican meal for a great price.

Call 417-272-8910 for more information.

Billy Gails is a local icon.

The restaurant offers a down-home breakfast and lunch and is known locally for its jumbo pancakes served on a plate and the size of hubcaps. Customers order a full stack and try not to “tap out” before the stack is finished.

Billy Gail’s is operated by Gail and her son, Randy, who offer “country comfort grub,” according to their Facebook page.

Yelp.com says, “Billy Gail’s is a legendary place to eat breakfast in Branson …”

Billy Gail’s is located at 5291 Missouri 265 in Branson. See the Customer Appreciation coupon on this page for a very nice discount.

Call 417-338-8883 or search Facebook for Billy Gail’s.

Literacy: CM wants state among top 5

by Shelton on December 25th, 2015

filed under Student Credit Cards

To fulfil one of the seven promises made by Nitish during electioneering for Bihar assembly polls of providing student credit cards for education loan of up to Rs 4 lakh, the CM asked the department to prepare a plan. He also stressed on the need to ensure presence of teachers in all the schools and check use of unfair means at all the examinations, an official said.