Turn your passion into online profit

business man
Photo: Jopwell/PEXELS
NewsUSA - Have you ever shopped at someone’s personal online store and thought, “I could do that”? In the wake of the pandemic, more people are reinventing their work lives and choosing to follow their passions. And the ever-expanding world of e-commerce makes it easier than ever to turn your pastime into a profit.     

Launching an online business can seem daunting, especially if you lack a background in technology, computer programming, or website building, but it doesn’t have to be. The right website host and store builder platform can make setting up the online business of your dreams a seamless process.     

Nexcess, a company dedicated to ecommerce entrepreneurship, offers several tips for how to get your ecommerce business off the ground, whether you are selling physical products, digital products, or online services ranging from consulting to yoga classes. Key considerations when launching any ecommerce business include:     

- Sales. The most efficient ecommerce platforms keep it simple with automated sales and performance tools. Nexcess also has a membership website builder that allows you to add subscriber-only content for even more sales.     

- Management. Setting up an online store should be simple. Platforms such as Nexcess StoreBuilder include intuitive features that let you design a beautiful online storefront with no need for coding or a website designer.     

- Mentorship. The best platforms for online businesses have fast speed, strong security, inherent scalability, and, last but not least, competent and responsive tech support for any problems and questions that arise. Nexcess managed hosting provides live chats with a website hosting advisor to help you get started and make a plan for success.     

If you have an existing online store or website that you want to upgrade, Nexcess offers free website migration to or among any of its website hosting platforms, with 24/7 support that kicks in immediately.     

Also, many ecommerce entrepreneurs miss the importance of a business location when establishing online. The business may be in cyberspace, but location still matters for taxes and other administrative purposes.     

Some states are more appealing than others for ecommerce business owners. According to a new ecommerce study, Florida is the number-one state for ecommerce businesses, based on criteria including tax climate, economic outlook, financial resources, and infrastructure.     

Rounding out the top ten states for ecommerce businesses are Utah, North Carolina, Texas, South Dakota, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. The great thing about an ecommerce business is it can launch from any state with a website and a good idea.

Wine pairing ideas for this summer's fun and friendship

wine in the country
Photo: Chelsea Pridham/Unsplash
News USA -- "Wine and food pairings don't have to be complicated," says Riana Mondavi, a member of the fourth generation of the Mondavi wine family from Napa and an ambassador for her family's CK Mondavi and Family wines. "It's really about what you taste and smell in the wine and how you feel the wine brings out and compliments the food you are eating."

If done correctly, a proper pairing can enhance the flavors of both the food and your chosen bottle of wine. The intensity of a specific food or wine depends on a lot of things such as sugar, acid, salt and spice. The food should not overpower the wine (and vice versa). By matching a light wine with light fare or a heavy dish with a heavier wine, the food and wine balance each other out and their intensities line up for a perfect pairing.

For example, if you have a dish that has a lot of citrus in it, it's great to pair with a Chardonnay, as it also has hints of citrus in it. The two enhance each other and balance out the flavors. A lighter white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, pairs well with summer vegetables, as it brings out the crisp, light flavor profiles. Red wines typically pair best with richer food such as steak and sweets, but there's no set rule. Many people pair a Merlot with seafood.

CK Mondavi and Family has made wine pairing easy for everyone, and this summer they invite you to play around with pairings. They've created a downloadable "Wine pairing made simple" guide on their website: https://www.ckmondavi.com/ckm-pairings. They also added flavor descriptors to each bottle of CK Mondavi and Family. With descriptors such as "Rich & Velvety" for Cabernet Sauvignon and "Bright & Fresh" for Chardonnay, anyone can quickly decide on a wine.

Riana Mondavi also recommends impromptu wine pairings with friends. "It's fun to get together with a group to see what everyone tastes or smells in the wine," she adds. "Everyone has a different opinion and it's fun to see what we all come up with."

So, this summer, have some fun pairing wines with your favorite foods. And while doing it, enter CK Mondavi and Family's monthly #pairNpost drawing, where you can enter to win a prize. Just snap a photo of your favorite pairing and tag it with #pairNpost on Twitter or Instagram.

It's all part of a new, fun approach to wine. After all, summer is about enjoying yourself and what better way to enjoy life than at the table with friends and family?

Illinois taxes are driving families and businesses out of the state

by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

Studies show the tax burden on people and businesses in Illinois - and particularly those in Chicago - is among the highest in the country.

Economists warn that unless lawmakers change how they write budgets, Illinois is likely to continue its decade-long exodus of residents and businesses.

Reports show that the median Illinois household has a tax liability of $9,500, while Chicago's debt per taxpayer is almost $42,000.

Justin Carlson is a policy analyst for Illinois Policy Institute. He said the main driver of debt at both Chicago City Hall and the statehouse is underfunded pensions.

"It means higher taxes and higher fees, as the pension systems have required more funding," said Carlson. "That's less funding that you have for education or health care or social programs, or violence prevention, different things that communities rely on."

Carlson said the watchdog group Truth in Accounting reports Chicago's debt totals almost $49 billion, with two-thirds of that owed to the city's pension fund. In recent years, the city has almost doubled its property taxes to make its annual payments.

Carlson said across the state, the annual effective tax rate is just over 15%, making it the largest among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

He said the high taxes are taking the biggest bite out of the incomes of people in marginalized neighborhoods and communities of color.

"That burden shifts even more to the people who can't afford to leave or don't want to leave," said Carlson. "Your taxes are just going to continue to go up, and that kind of feeds this vicious cycle where you have less money to draw from, and then the people who are left need to pay for higher and higher burdens."

He said part of the problem is that the formula for funding public pensions is spelled out in the Illinois Constitution, giving lawmakers very little leeway in how they write the budget.

"If you wanted to reform public pensions in Illinois, you would need to advance a constitutional amendment in order to change the benefits that are currently being offered," said Carlson. "So it's the case really locally and statewide of pensions being over-promised."

Brazelton takes another step up the podium, SJO sophomore finishes third at state wrestling

St. Joseph-Ogden's Holden Brazelton celebrates his win over Coal City's Jake Piatak with assistant coach Shawn Freeman after his Class 1A 132-pound consolation semifinal at the 2023 IHSA Individual Wrestling State Finals on Saturday. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Top Left: St. Joseph-Ogden's Holden Brazelton is all smiles while on the podium with his third place medal during the awards ceremony for the 132-pound Class 1A weight class.

Top Right: Brazelton tosses Coal City's Jake Piatak to the mat during their consolation semifinal.

Below: One match away from finding himself in a state title match, Brazelton wrestles West Marian's Vance Williams in the second semifinal match in the bracket. Williams shutout the SJO two-time state finalist 7-0. (Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Working to keep Coal City's Jake Piatak on his back during their consolation semifinal on Saturday, the SJO sophomore, who was up 4-0 after the first period, advanced to the third-place match thanks to a 6-2 decision. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

**Correction** In the second photo from the bottom the caption was incorrect. Brazelton was not wrestling Wyatt Doty, but West Marian's Vance Williams. The caption was updated on 2/22/23 to reflect the correct match.

Unity's Nosler wins IHSA state wrestling title

Unity's Nick Nosler is declared winner after his 195-pound title match with St. Thomas More's Brody Cuppernell at the 2023 IHSA Individual Wrestling State Finals on Saturday. Nosler, who finished as the Sentinel area's top finisher, won the bout by major decision, 11-3. The senior improved to 55-2 on the season after going 4-0 at the State Farm Center. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

TOP LEFT: Nosler scores a takedown on Cuppernell. TOP RIGHT: Smiling for his official IHSA photo, Nick Nosler stands tall at the top of the 195-pound podium on Saturday. BOTTOM: Cuppernell tries to avoid being rolled to his back by Nosler during their title bout. (Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Brody Cuppernell is rolled to his back by Unity's Nosler. Cuppernell, a junior at St. Thomas More, finished his season with 45 wins and against 6 losses. See more photos of area wrestlers at the state tournament here. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Three things you should do this spring to freshen up you home

BPT -- Spring is the perfect season for home improvement as it presents many opportunities for first-time homebuyers and experienced homeowners to be more thorough when it comes to maintenance. As the weather warms up, you'll find plenty of indoor and outdoor projects that can improve the functionality of your home and boost its curb appeal while also avoiding unpleasant surprises.
Photo provided/Brandpoint

“Many homeowners perform spring cleaning tasks to freshen up and declutter their homes, but it’s also crucial to tackle important maintenance tasks,” said Viviane Essex, merchant at The Home Depot. “For most people, their home is their biggest investment. The Home Depot’s Home Services can help homeowners with routine repairs and installation projects that provide comfort, safety and most importantly, peace of mind.”

Don't know where to start? The Home Depot’s Home Services has provided a helpful spring maintenance checklist. Here are three items you can check off your to-do list to make sure your home's internal systems and external features run smoothly.

1. Schedule seasonal maintenance on your HVAC system

Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is crucial to keeping your home cozy in the winter and cool during the summer. Most systems have a lifetime of 10 to 20 years, and efficiency can drastically decrease as your equipment gets older.

If your HVAC system is working harder and not performing as well as it should, it may be time to replace it. Book a consultation with a certified professional who can inspect your existing system, make recommendations and give you an estimate for a new system. Not only will it help improve your home's air quality, but it will also keep your family comfortable all season long.

2. Maintain, repair or replace your water heater

Water is used throughout your entire home, from showering and bathing to cooking and watering your lawn. To ensure you are using quality water, you'll need to inspect, replace and repair your water heater.

Make sure to check "inspecting your water heater" off your spring cleaning list. Keep an eye out for any water buildup around your water heater, water-quality issues or small plastic pieces from your fixtures that can affect your water supply.

Also, look out for changes in water temperature or temperature duration, a broken pilot light, noise in your unit or pipes, or the smell of gas around your water heater. If you notice any of these signs, your water heater may be failing and need to be repaired or replaced.

3. Spruce up the outside of your home

The exterior of your home is just as important to inspect and repair as the interior. Your windows are an especially visible part of your home that need careful attention.

During winter, you may feel drafts or frequently see condensation on your windows. As the seasons change, you may notice cracking or peeling around window exteriors. These are signs that it may be time to replace your windows.

This spring, book a window replacement. Windows should be inspected by a licensed professional every 20-25 years to see if they need to be replaced. No matter what windows you choose, a new high-quality window with thick, insulated glass is more energy efficient than older single-pane windows. Best of all, new windows can also improve your home's appearance.

Another external item to inspect this spring is your garage door. You may not think your garage door needs regular maintenance, but just like a car, it needs regular tune-ups. Small issues can quickly turn expensive down the line. Also, some garage door problems can pose a safety hazard and cause serious injury.

Depending on the age and condition of your garage door, it may be time to replace it. Replacing your garage door can improve the look of your home and increase its market value.

Finally, consider installing a new fence around your property. Fences provide privacy and security. They can help keep children and pets safe inside your yard, while also keeping out unwanted animals and trespassers. This decorative element also provides protection around an outdoor space, like a pool or garden.

For all your indoor and outdoor spring-cleaning projects, you can find help at The Home Depot’s Home Services. Their installers can help you choose the material and style that best fits your property and needs.

All certified service providers are local, licensed, insured and background checked. To learn more and book appointments to spruce up your home this spring, visit HomeDepot.com/Services.

Guest Commentary | America needs their police, we need good people wearing the badge

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

American citizens need police officers. Our state police, county sheriff’s department and city police all deserve our help, respect and decent pay. None of us like being recipients of speeding or other motor vehicle violations. However, often a warning or a ticket may be what it takes to get our attention and might even save our lives.

When someone is threatening us we want the police. We expect them to come and help us. These are the men and women who often risk their lives to protect us. So, praise the good ones because they are deserving of honor.

The defund the police movement has been fueled by horrific incidents such as when Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd on May 25, 2020. This cruel and disturbing murder has been replayed over and over on national television. Most recently the horrific killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee has fanned the flames of police hatred. These and other police brutality events continue to severely damage the image of America’s police forces.

The behavior of five Memphis police officers toward Mr. Nichols was beyond criminal. This does not justify defunding the police. Such behavior reinforces the need that all those in law enforcement must have routine mental health tests. Only qualified people who have been thoroughly examined and trained should ever be allowed to wear a badge. Training and mental health evaluations must be ongoing.

The Five former Memphis police officers were charged with murder over the death of Tyre Nichols but pled not guilty in their first court appearance.

The arrest of Mr. Nichols on January 7 has been reported throughout the national media.

They were fired after an internal investigation by the Memphis Police Department.

"Memphis and the whole world need to see that what's right is done in this case, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later," lead prosecutor Paul Hagerman told reporters.

The officers were arrested and taken into custody on January 26, after the Memphis police reviewed bodycam footage of the violent arrest.

In the footage, 29-year-old Mr. Nichols can be heard calling for his mother as he is beaten by police after being pulled over for alleged reckless driving. He was pepper-sprayed, kicked and punched by the officers and died in hospital three days later.

Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the incident was "not just a professional failing", but "a failing of basic humanity toward another individual". (Source BBC news)

I believe that 99 percent of the men and women wearing badges are good people who are looking out for our welfare and safety. The actions of a few should not discredit all law enforcement. Whether it’s politics, medical doctors, attorneys, business persons and more there are always a few bad apples that make others look bad.

Police officers have the upper hand. They have a badge and a gun. We should give them respect and they should respect all citizens. Having a badge never gives any law enforcement officer the right to pour out their frustrations, racial hatreds or their own personal demons on another citizen. No one is ever in a position to put up a defense as sadly shown by Tyre Nichols, George Floyd and too many others.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of Grandpa's Store, American Issues, and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to editor@oursentinel.com.


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