Archives March 2018

Texas Private School Says it’s Arming Administrators

A private school in Arlington Texas is beginning to arm their administrators with firearms to help keep children in the school safe.

According to Fox 4 News, Pantego Christian Academy says they have had plans to arm their administrators with guns since before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. This plan came as a shock to many as teachers and private schools are not allowed to carry firearms on campus. However, teachers in public school districts are allowed to do so.

An estimated 87% of private schools in the United States have less than 300 students. However, Pantego Christian Academy has about 600 to 700 students. Fox News says the school has a campus in Mansfield and in Arlington. The president of the school, Dr. Jeff Potts, says he wants the public to be aware of the fact that at any given time, any of their administrators on their campuses may be carrying a concealed weapon. Potts alerted parents in February that this newly added security, known as the School Marshal Program, was in full effect. He spoke with Fox 4 News about the new security.

“We are arming select individuals who meet certain criteria. And they are administrative type people who are in close proximity to all of our classrooms,” Potts said. “It’s not Florida. It’s the culture today, and it’s something we felt led to do.”

Potts did say that any administrator who is walking around campus with a concealed weapon will be properly trained and undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He wants parents to know that the school is willing to do anything they can to help protect their students. Now, even though administrators will be carrying guns, teachers will not be allowed to do so. The school is going to follow the rules that state no teacher in a private school can carry a concealed weapon. They want to play by the rules while still making the extra safety efforts.

At this time, Potts says his school might be the only private school in North Texas to utilize the program.

Construction to Foreclosure: The Residential Real Estate Market 10 Years After the Crash

In 2008, America was staring down the barrel of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The economy was in freefall. The subprime housing loan market bubble had burst with such ferocity that millions of families were affected, and many were left homeless, creditless, and without hope. Yet a mere 10 years later and the U.S. housing market is poised for a second consecutive record-breaking year, according to Boston Globe.

The recovery happened swiftly, and it just goes to show how resilient the real estate market is. Historically, growth in residential home values has outpaced both inflation and yearly wages, and at the end of 2017 they were 6% higher than the highest ever peak in 2006.

Why is the housing market so resilient? Ten years after the crash, let’s take a look back at what exactly happened in 2008 that brought it all tumbling down.

Construction Begins

Obviously, it costs a lot to build a new house. But where does the seemingly extreme cost come from? When we dig into this question we find some of the immediate expense, and what it doesn’t necessarily account for.

First, we need some raw materials. Some of these are renewable, some of them are not. In metal materials alone, the four most common in construction are aluminum, copper, carbon steel, and stainless steel. These need to be mined, fabricated, shipped and installed by contractors. Next, you have the wood, cement, and insulation. Plumbing and electricity follow, so ceramic, piping, wires, and circuitry are installed. In material alone, a house already becomes expensive.

Second, labor and machining costs are drastic. Digging the foundation of a new home, mixing and pouring cement, and framing all account for a significant chunk of change. But before all of this comes the less than efficient commissioning process. You, the interested real estate investor, want to build a residential home. You then employ a general contractor who in turn must go find an architect, engineer, laborers, landscapers, interior designers, and all the workers that are needed to build a house. The fact that they all work on a contract basis means the price stays high, and the level of organization often leaves something to be desired.

Because of all of these costs, the average price of building a new home in 2018 is $288,280. This is certainly one of the reasons why most real estate construction investments happen in the commercial sector. Yet no matter the cost or the risks, Americans are still building a lot of houses in 2018.

What happened in 2008?

Prices for homes crashed into oblivion while foreclosures happened left, right, and center. Currently, 0.5% (or one in 200) homes are foreclosed upon, and there are very strict state laws regarding giving the resident notice. In 2008, that number was one in every 54 homes. Why?

The abridged version is that banks were giving out adjustable rate mortgages like candy to people that could not afford them. Then, major financial institutions snapped up bundles of these junk loans. When the rates rose, people had no way of paying. This resulted in foreclosure, repossession, and sale at auction.

Except, no one could afford to buy the repossessed homes, causing the banks to also eat a huge loss. Bad news.

Today, though, the American residential housing market is alive and well. And even after the housing downturn, the U.S. construction market is the second-largest in the world, boasting a 210% market share. Mistakes were made, but real estate is in yet another period of growth. Though residential real estate might not be the best business investment, chances are if you buy a home today and can afford to pay for it, by the time you go to sell, it will be worth much more. At least, that’s what history would say.

Rise In Acupuncture Treatments Try to Alleviate Opioid Use

Due to an overwhelming opioid crisis throughout the nation, people are looking for answers. There are many like Marine veteran Jeff Harris who simply do not want to take prescription painkillers. Harris was among one of the first to sign up when the Providence, Rhode Island VA hospital started offering acupuncture for chronic pain.

“I don’t like taking pain medication. I don’t like the way it makes me feel,” he said. Harris also didn’t want to risk getting addicted to heavy-duty prescription painkillers, as many do. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly 11.5 million Americans from the ages 12 and up misused prescription pain medicine in 2016 alone.

For this reason, Americans are now using acupuncture more than ever before. According to government surveys, one in 67 United States adults say they get acupuncture treatment every year. This number is up from the last decade, where it sat at one in 91 adults. Even though insurance only covers about a quart of the costs, the numbers are still rising.

Emmeline Edwards from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is a federal research agency, says that the military recognizes the need for new pain management methods. Her agency is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to spend $81 million on research projects. The agency aims to study the effectiveness of many other treatments for pain that do not rely on the use of drugs.

Insurance companies are starting to recognize this apparent issue, and coverage is now starting to expand. California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island pay for acupuncture through their Medicaid insurance programs, as long as the treatment is for pain. Massachusetts and Oregon also cover acupuncture as a treatment for substance abuse. Although some scientist question the effectiveness of acupuncture, many are desperate for another solution that does not involve addictive painkillers because they are afraid of the current opioid crisis and becoming another statistic.

Easy Ways to Keep Your Apartment Warm While Saving Money

If you live in an apartment, you’re probably familiar with the daily routine of turning your heat down just a little bit to help save you some money on your monthly bill. Heating is one of those things that can really add up if you’re not careful with how you use it.

While you have to be careful about how much heat you’re actually using, there are some alternatives out there to turning down your heat. The New York Times has compiled a list of different ways to keep your heating bill from skyrocketing.

Even though spring is on the horizon, it’s still cool enough outside where you feel the need to turn your heat up just a little bit to be comfortable. Instead of turning your heat up, the New York Times has some suggestions. First, they say that it’s very important to seal your windows and your doors. The smallest of crack in your window or door can actually let cool air in and hot air out. If you have the smallest draft, you’re still risking an extremely high heating bill. You can easily fix these issues by slipping a draft seal underneath the bottom of your door so that nothing can come in or out. You can also plug window cracks with clay rope caulking. These are super easy and inexpensive ways to keep costs low.

The New York Times also suggests putting down area rugs throughout your home. We’ve all experienced stepping on a cold floor after waking up first thing in the morning. It’s not a fun experience and can easily be prevented. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to carpet your entire home, but a few rugs here and there will keep your feet warm and will actually add some insulation to your space. If you want to add extra insulation, put a rug pad underneath the rug!

While many people use space heaters to heat up an area, you can also use an air compressor. In fact, 80 to 90% of the electrical energy used by an air compressor is converted to heat.

Now, if you still do want to rely on your thermostat, make sure you only keep it on for a few hours at a time and keep it under 68 degrees. The Daily Evergreen suggests turning down the thermostat five degrees when you go to bed or when you plan on leaving your home for more than an hour at a time. It’s also important to make sure that you turn off your heat while you’re going on vacation. Forgetting to turn your heat off while you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time is a really easy mistake to make that will end up costing you a lot of money.

To save some money and to help keep yourself warm during the remainder of the colder season, take note of the steps above.