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Direct Deposit and the Indirect Texan

Some of the stuff we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

We found a co-op that beats its retired meters to a pulp, but don’t try this at home. Our monthly compendium of things we thought you should know continues with a reminder that Social Security checks no longer will arrive in the mail. We try to ease the transition to direct deposit. And finally, if are heading into February with that diet you promised yourself in January already shot, here are some words of comfort from a masterful wit and an incidental Texan, Mark Twain: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Meter Beaters

Some co-ops make lamp bases out of one or two old electric meters and give them away like trophies. Others ship them all off to landfills. A Texas electric cooperative is recycling its retired analog meters en masse.

CoServ Electric, the second-largest electric cooperative in Texas, plans to recycle 160,000 mechanical meters by this spring when it completes installation of advanced meters across six counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

At a facility in Grand Prairie, Canada-based Global Electric Electronic Processing, or GEEP, shreds 8,000 to 13,000 old meters a day in a two-story machine that spins two huge chains (with links weighing 10 pounds each) at up to 700 revolutions per minute—like a giant food processor.

The remains, now in smithereens, exit on conveyer belts where workers salvage about 98 percent of all the materials, including iron—grabbed by a giant magnet—copper, plastic and glass. GEEP sells the recycled metal and returns a percentage of the payment it receives back to CoServ: about $1 per meter.

The Check Is Not in the Mail

Chances are you’ve read or heard the news that starting March 1, Social Security and other federal benefit payments will be available only electronically. That means instead of receiving checks in the mail, the funds will be electronically deposited into personal bank accounts or debit card accounts.

We know change can be hard to embrace, especially if you’ve been doing your banking one way for years. However, three out of four working Americans who have direct deposit available for their pay use it, and there are some benefits:

• It’s considered safer because it removes the possibility of lost or stolen checks.

• Your money is available immediately upon deposit and not dependent on mail delivery or a trip to the bank.

The debit cards can be used to make purchases anywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted and can be used for one free cash withdrawal a month at more than 50,000 ATMs nationally. Additional transactions cost 90 cents.

More information is available online, by phone or at your financial institution.

Godirect.gov | 1-800-333-1795

La Prensa

One hundred years ago February 13, the Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa was founded in San Antonio. It was published daily to keep Mexicans living temporarily in the United States apprised of events in Mexico, including the Mexican Revolution. La Prensa was sold all over South Texas and in communities of Mexican emigrés elsewhere in the United States and Central and South America. The paper ceased publication in 1963.

By the Numbers

98% of Texas farms and ranches are family farms, partnerships or family-held corporations, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Never the Twain Shall Meet

This month marks the 150th anniversary of when Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain. It was February 2, 1863, and Clemens was a reporter for the Virginia City Enterprise in Nevada. He wrote a story using the byline of Mark Twain.

Why should you care about this? Twain never lived in Texas—never even set foot in the state. And he mentioned Texas just a few times in his writings, twice in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Still, most readers of this magazine have something in common with Twain. He, too, paid property taxes in Texas.

It’s a very long, very complicated story. But essentially, Twain’s wife, Olivia Clemens, helped out longtime friend Louisa Baird by either purchasing or loaning Baird the money to purchase 320 acres in Archer County in 1877.

Ultimately, the property in Archer County ended up in Olivia Clemens’ possession, and when she died, it became Twain’s. Twain sold it in 1905. Oh, Twain’s tax bill in 1882? $17.06.

One more thing: Archer County is the famous home—and truly the home—of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry.