Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
Since 1963, the Las Colinas Country Club has grown and changed as the surrounding community has come into its own. For the past 50 years, members have enjoyed drinks on the terrace, broken in their clubs on the golf course and hung out with the kids around the pool. Deals have been made, anniversaries celebrated and families nurtured within its walls.
On Feb. 8, the club’s membership was invited to raise a glass to toast the club’s illustrious past while anticipating its promising future.
“This club has been a gem in the community and an integral part of the development of Las Colinas and Irving,” said Ron Woolard, the club’s General Manager. “We probably have 200 people here tonight. Once we are done with the toast, we will go out in the restaurant and on the patio to have dinner, music and a celebration all night.
“I’ve been here three years, and I took over a club that had a tremendous amount of history and pride, yet was struggling a little bit. It was struggling because of the economy and because it needed some money and energy put back into it.
“I’ve been able to hire a great staff and collaborate with the members and owners to reinvent the club. We are the same club with pride, but we are a different club with energy, programming and passion for the future.
“When I arrived, about 25 percent of the membership was age 70 plus. They were very proud members. They had been here for a while, and they loved this club. But a club needs to have a balance between the ages. Last year, 40 percent of the memberships we sold were to people under the age of 40. Now, 25 percent of my membership base was not here a year ago. So we are back, and this is all about what the members want. This year we will continue to reinvent and create programming that matches up with what people want. These clubs are places where people can raise their families and be around their friends.”
Among those toasting the club, was Marilyn Noble, who happened to be celebrating a personal anniversary as well.
“My husband Ed Noble joined in 1967,” Marilyn said. “I met him in 1970, and we had our wedding reception here on Feb. 8, 1975, so tonight is our 38th wedding anniversary.
“Tonight, I am really overjoyed,” continued Noble. “I have seen so much positive growth at this club. The direction of the club has been amazing. The LPGA is coming to join us in April.
“The best part of being a member of the club is the people. The people are amazing. Everybody who enters these doors is here to have a good time and enjoy camaraderie. The kitchen is good, the staff is excellent, and the service is over the top.
“I am on the social committee, and we try to offer something to each segment of age groups. We have a lot of young families becoming more involved, and we have a place for their children to have activities. This club is a wonderful place to be, and if there is anyone out there who really wants to be embraced, please join us.”
Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 09:46
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jason Alderman
Back when people from my parents' generation were first planning their lives together, most married couples looked forward to working hard for a few decades, buying a house, raising a family and then retiring together while they still had enough money and energy to travel and pursue favorite hobbies.
Some couples do manage to pull this off and thrive; but for many others, any of a host of obstacles can block their ability to retire at the same time. For example:
Thanks to periods of unemployment, home-value decline or 401(k) account loss suffered during the Great Recession, many couples simply don't have enough money to retire together comfortably.
If there's a significant age difference, one spouse may not have accumulated enough Social Security credits to qualify for a benefit by the time the other is ready to retire.
Women often worry that the couple hasn't saved enough since they're statistically likely to survive their spouses – often for a decade or more.
One spouse must continue working to supply employer-provided medical coverage until both reach Medicare eligibility age (65 in most cases).
One spouse is just hitting his or her stride, career-wise, and isn't ready to slow down.
Among couples who have managed to save enough to retire together, when it comes time to pull the trigger, many realize they haven't fully agreed on where or how to retire; or they discover that their wishes have diverged over the years. This can put tremendous strain on a marriage if you're not willing to compromise and talk things through.
Long before you actually retire, ask yourselves:
Should we downsize to a smaller dwelling or even move to a retirement community?
Sell the house, buy a trailer and live like nomads for a few years?
Move to a warmer climate or to be nearer our grandchildren?
Move to a state with lower taxes or cost of living?
Start a small side business to keep money rolling in?
Are we finished supporting our children financially?
Even before asking those tough questions, you already should have begun estimating your retirement income needs. Social Security has a helpful online Retirement Estimator that can help (www.ssa.gov/estimator). After you've explored various retirement scenarios, consider hiring a financial planner to help work out an investment and savings game plan, or to at least review the one you've devised.
Along with the financial impact retirement will have on your marriage, keep in mind that this may be the first time that you've been together, day in and day out. Many people are so consumed by their jobs that they haven't taken time to develop outside interests and hobbies. Well before retirement, you and your spouse should start exploring activities and networks of friends you can enjoy, both together and independently. Consider things like volunteer work, hobbies, athletic activities or even part-time employment if you miss the workplace interaction and need the money.
And finally, if your plan is to have one spouse continue working for a while, try living on only that one salary for a few months before retiring as an experiment. This will give you an inkling of how well you'll do financially and whether you might both need to keep working to amass more savings.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 09:02
Written by Phil Cerroni
Make sure you have all the needed documents, including all your Forms W-2, before you file your 2012 tax return. You should receive an IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from each of your employers. Employers should have issued your Form W-2 by the end of January.
“If you have not received your W-2, contact your employer to inquire if and when the W-2 was mailed,” said Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman in Dallas. “If it was mailed, it may have been returned to the employer because of an incorrect or incomplete address.” After contacting the employer, allow a reasonable amount of time for them to resend or issue the form.
If you do not receive your W-2 by Feb. 14, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, Social Security number, phone number and have the following information:
• Employer’s name, address and phone number
• Dates of employment
• An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during 2012. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible.
Source: Internal Revenue Service
Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 09:01
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez’s employment contract will not automatically renew in May.
Rather than allowing the City Council to vote on whether to prevent the employment agreement from renewing on May 1, Gonzalez instead notified the Council at Thursday’s meeting that he was voluntarily pulling the renewal clause from his contract.
The City Council then unanimously voted to withdraw an agenda item about the contract, thus nullifying debate over the controversial contract and a sending packed room of supporters and critics outside of Council chambers.
“It’s been a privilege to be the City Manager of this City, and I would like to continue in that capacity,” Gonzalez said. “I’m amenable to negotiating a new contract that is acceptable to the City Council.”
In late January, the Council listened to roughly an hour of public comment about Gonzalez’s contract. Some championed him for saving the City millions of dollars, while others questioned his leadership.
The Council voted at that January meeting to hire an outside law firm to negotiate a new contract for Gonzalez.
The value of his salary and benefits has been debated, but his base salary is about $246,000, according to City documents. He receives another $66,000 in insurance, vacation and other benefits. He also is paid another $7,800 in incentive pay, which is available to other City employees for reasons such as a sick leave buyback program.
He is paid about $67,000 in contributions and about $40,000 for housing. Finally, he is eligible for performance retention pay, which this year is about $60,000.
Gonzalez also asked Thursday that any discussion about his employment agreement with the City be discussed in closed executive session. He also said he was willing to agree to a contract that was “mutually acceptable” to both the City and to him.
“We have the best employees on the planet,” he said. “They are wonderful to work for … and there’s so much more we can accomplish in the future.”
In recent weeks, Gonzalez has come under fire for allegedly soliciting and accepting sports tickets from companies that later scored business contracts with the City of Irving. Despite reports, a criminal complaint has not been filed against Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’ contract was drawn in 2008. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in government from Eastern New Mexico University.
He has worked as an assistant city manager for the City of Dallas and for the City of Lubbock. He was also the city manager of Harlingen, TX.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:35
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding with a developer to build a $90 million hotel next to the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. The agreement with Mortenson Development, Inc. is an initial step in the development of a hotel near the Convention Center – a request that officials and business leaders have had for years.
With the new hotel neighboring the Convention Center, City leaders are hoping to bring in more businesses, conferences and events that could spur development in the Urban Center.
“The Convention Center will be able to have bigger conventions where people can stay multiple days,” Councilman Brad LaMorgese said. “If you look at this hotel, what do people like to do when they go to conventions? They like to go out to eat, and I think with this, some of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to get Las Colinas where people want it.”
The hotel will be either a Marriott or Starwood and will have at least 350 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Under the agreement, the City would spend $9 million to build a parking garage and sky bridge. In return, the hotel would be eligible for city and state tax rebates, according to City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.
The City Council reviewed four proposals from developers in executive session.
“The (proposal) was the best in terms of overall what we wanted and what they were willing to do,” Gonzalez said.
The City Council still has to vote on a final contract with Minneapolis-based Mortenson Development. Negotiations could take up to 90 days.
If approved, groundbreaking on the hotel could be as early as December with the hotel finished by 2015.
The Las Colinas-Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau committee has also voiced support of the deal, Council member Roy Santoscoy said.
The hotel was originally conceived as an asset for an entertainment center, which was to also be built near the Convention Center. However, the entertainment center project stalled in the fall when the City Council voted down a resolution to extend negotiations with the project’s developer.
Parts of a lawsuit filed by Las Colinas Group shortly after the vote have since been dismissed.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:34
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