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  • Wilkinson commits to Rich Mountain

    SPORTS Sunnie Wilkinson 012621PHOTO COURTESY OF COLMESNEIL ISD ATHLETICS Colmesneil Lady Dog (and soon-to-be Rich Mountain Buck) Sunnie Wilkinson at bat.

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – Lady Dogs softballer Sunnie Wilkinson announced her commitment to play for the Rich Mountain Bucks last week.

    Wilkinson, a senior, announced the commitment on social media. “I am honored and blessed to announce my commitment to further my education and play softball at the University of Arkansas, Rich Mountain,” she said.

    Wilkinson, who is set to graduate Colmesneil High School this year, as part of the class of 2021, plays short stop, left field and centerfield for the Lady Dogs under Coach Kayla Day.

    She said she wants to thank her coaches, family and friends to help her further her goals, both on the diamond and in the classroom.

    The Rich Mountain campus is located in Mena, Arkansas and is part of the University of Arkansas system.

    The school’s softball program was added to its athletic offerings in 2020, under the direction of Coach Tracy Nealy, a 34-year veteran of coaching various softball programs.

    Currently, Wilkinson and her Lady Dog teammates are prepping for the coming season. They began practice the second week of January and are scheduled to play the Groveton Lady Indians at home at 5 p.m. on Feb. 16 to kick off the season after scrimmages with Onalaska, Corrigan, Hudson, Woodville and Huntington.

  • WISD coach Mixon dies

    2 Jennifer Mixon 031821FILE PHOTO Jennifer Mixon

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE –  Longtime Woodville ISD educator and coach Jennifer Mixon died last week at the age of 50.

    Mixon died on Friday at Lakeside Lodge in Brookeland. She had been fighting breast cancer for several years and undergoing treatments. WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said Mixon had, in more than 20 years with the district, impacted the lives of many and left behind “a legacy of strength, courage, caring and commitment.”

    A public funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday at Eagle Stadium, with a graveside service to follow at 1 p.m. in Little Hope Cemetery in the Beech Grove community. WISD is cancelling classes on Thursday so that all students, staff and families who wish to do so will have the opportunity to pay their respects.

    “Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as we all mourn her loss together,” Meysembourg said.

    The athletic director of the WISD girls’ program, Troy Carrell, called Mixon “the backbone of our girls’ athletic program,” and said she will be greatly missed.

    “She has had the opportunity to touch countless numbers of students as well as teachers and coaches alike,” Carrell said.

    “Coach Mixon was a perfect example of what it meant to be a Lady Eagle. She always held everyone to high standards and expected only the best of what you had to offer both on and off the court,” he added.

    Education and athletic leadership ran deep in Mixon’s blood, as her late father, Jerry Ives, was a longtime respected and beloved coach at Elkhart High School. After his death, the school’s stadium was named in his honor. Her brother, Jason, has also served as a coach and administrator. Her husband Shawn has also served as a football and softball coach for WISD.

    In addition to her husband and brother, Mixon is survived by two daughters, Shelby and Emily and her mother Darlene, as well as numerous other family members.

  • WISD discusses first step in long-range planning

    SHP Donation 042221CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Wheat Elementary students present a check to Brian and Deborah Smith of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. The students raised the money through a coin drive fundraiser.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees discussed taking the first steps toward long-range planning involving its facilities.

    The district recently went out for request for proposals from architects and construction managers and received eight submitted proposals. Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said that in reviewing the materials and conducting interviews, it will be a matter of finding out who will be able to suit the district best. “This is the initial part of seeing what firm best fits the district’s needs,” Meysembourg said.

    The board discussed the best method for reviewing the proposals and agreed to use a 10-day period for review, ranking and to schedule interviews on May 10.

    Meysembourg emphasized that in gathering the proposals and reviewing them that was the first step toward whatever the district might need in the future; that there’s been no discussion of any expenditures concerning the facilities or other infrastructure concerns, and that needs might change years down the road.

    Wheat Elementary students make presentations

    At Monday night’s meeting, the WISD board convened with a full boardroom full of Wheat Elementary students, faculty and parents. Several Wheat second graders and gifted and talented students made presentations. Wheat Vice Principal Allison Mosley and second-grade teacher Bridgette Stott introduced the students.

    The presentations by the second graders ranged from facts about flying squirrels to a discussion about what tigers eat. Stott said the students began their projects in March, with researching.

    The GT students presented a check to the Woodville chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who do not have beds to sleep in.

    The GT students, through a coin drive fundraiser, raised more than $1,200 to give to the charitable organization. SHP’s Brian and Deborah Smith were on hand to accept the donation. Stott said the fundraiser was helpful in teaching financial literacy to the students.

    On behalf of the WISD board, Vice President John Wilson said the students’ efforts made the board, faculty and parents of the district proud.

    Other Business

    At its meeting, the WISD board also approved the following items:

    • The board approved a resolution regarding affordable broadband access. The resolution is one going through school boards across the state, Meysembourg said. She said broadband access has “a critical impact upon the education of our students.” The resolution will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott and the state legislature.
    • The Texas Education Agency’s annual verification for TEKS certification was approved.
    • A two-year extension for WISD’s depository contract with Citizens State Bank was approved.
    • The next regular meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 17.
  • WISD lifts mask mandate

    Jarrott 052021CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB WISD Business Manager Cody Jarrott discusses information for the board members to look at about possible salary schedules for the next school year.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees had a host of achievements to recognize among the faculty, staff and student body at its regular Monday night meeting.

    Prior to moving the meeting to the board room in the WISD Administration Building for the regular agenda items, the meeting began in the community room in the cafeteria to accommodate the large audience of students, parents and well-wishers. The board recognized WISD athletes Kesean Paire and Linus Mannino for their achievements at the UIL State Track and Field Meet. Paire won the gold medal in the wheelchair shot-put event and Mannino took home a bronze medal in the high jump.

    Lady Eagle powerlifter Natalli VonEssen was recognized for her achievement of placing eighth in the state in her sport.

    Two WISD Speech and Debate competitors, Jaydee Borel and Izzy Narvaez were recognized for qualifying in the State-level Congressional Debate event.

    The trustees also recognized Michelle Merchant on being named “3A Girls Assistant Coach of the Year” by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

    On to its regular agenda, the WISD trustees approved an interlocal agreement between the district and the board of directors of the Allan Shivers Library and Museum.

    Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg spoke about the matter. She and trustee Josh McClure have served on the library board and have worked with the other board members to come up with a new interlocal agreement to help with administrative matters concerning the library, particularly since the death of longtime director Rosemary Bunch last year. The last document was signed in 1985, Meysembourg said. The City of Woodville recently entered into an interlocal with the library, as did the county.

    Mask mandate lifted

    The board approved a recommendation by Meysembourg to change its district-wide COVID-19 safety protocol of mask wearing.

    Meysembourg said she feels “very confident” that it is time to lift the mandate, and make mask-wearing optional. There have been two active cases reported since spring break, and no active cases in the district for several weeks.

    “I feel the community and school district have taken all of the necessary actions to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID,” she said.

    The lifting of the mandate was deemed effective immediately after its passage by the board.

    Architectural firm chosen for long-range planning

    The trustees approved an architectural firm, Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong, for long-range planning. The district went out for proposals earlier in the year from architects and construction managers and combed through them to review and rank the submissions to find the best fit for the district.

    At the board’s April meeting, Meysembourg said that gathering the proposals and reviewing them was the first step toward whatever measures the district might need in the future, infrastructure/facilities-wise.

    Meysembourg was approved by the board as authorized to negotiate and execute a contract with the firm. The Lufkin-based firm was also selected as the construction manager for the district’s long-range planning concerns, and Meysembourg was given authorization to negotiate and execute a contract with the firm on that front, as well.

    Other Business

    WISD’s Board of Trustees also approved the following items, or received the following information items:

    • Belt, Harris, Pechacek was approved to conduct the annual fiscal year audit for WISD.
    • The board authorized a resolution regarding ESSER III policy.
    • Meysembourg reported a community-wide meeting scheduled for Monday, May 24 beginning with food at 6 p.m. The public is invited, and it is an open-house for information for the community’s benefit. The meeting will take place in the cafeteria on the elementary campus.
    • WISD Business Manager Cody Jarrott reported in his regular report that the district is at 91.53% for its collection of property taxes. Jarrott also presented packets of information for the trustees pertaining to possible salary schedules for the coming 2021-22 school year.
  • WISD recipient of Temple grant

    student 5520411COURTESTY OF PIXIBAY student

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – The continuing pandemic has been especially tough on how schools carry on with the business of education. As part of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation’s efforts to address the issues East Texas school districts have faced, it awarded grants totaling $377K to 12 school districts, with each district getting $30K of the amount. Woodville ISD was one of the districts and district superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said she and the faculty, staff and administration are extremely excited to recceive the grant money.

    Meysembourg said WISD will utilize the funds to address instruction and achievement at all grade levels, from Pre-K through grade 12 “to ensure that all students have equitable access and opportunity to learn, progress and master learning expectations needed for future success,” she said.

    T.L.L. Temple Foundation President and CEO Dr. Wynn Rosser said that although educational inequities existed prior to the pandemic, “the most vulnerable students are bearing the heaviest burdens.”

    Recent studies have posited that the learning disruptions brought about through COVID-19 will only continue to widen underlying achievement gaps, and could ultimately prove detrimental economically, due to increases in dropout rates and reduced postsecondary education completion.

    “Research has shown that without an intentional targeted response to accelerate learning in reading and math in our schools, this event could impact the educational achievement and future of students for generations to come,” Meysembourg said.

    Meysembourg added that the grant funding will help give the district financial resources to provide additional focused instruction and intervention support services to meet the individual needs of the district’s student population in order to increase potential success in school as well as life after school.

    Specifically, she said that on the district’s elementary, intermediate and middle school campuses, master reading and math instructors will be hired as interventionists in order to provide targeted small group instruction to students who are identified as being at-risk, and to help fill learning gaps.

    Also, a summer credit recover program will be offered for WHS students, and the district’s teachers and staff will be provided ongoing professional development in order to strengthen their curriculum knowledge and to build skills toward helping students to recover from the pandemic’s impact upon their learning.

  • Woodville recognizes Blind Veterans Day

    NEWS Woodville City Hall 03 10 21USED COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS The Woodville City Hall

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, the Woodville City Council began with a proclamation to honor blind military veterans in Woodville.

    Mayor Paula Jones read the proclamation aloud

    The date of March 28 is recognized nationwide as Blinded Veterans Day, recognition that is now in its 76th year, enacted by the 111th Congress to aid in rehabilitative efforts for our nation’s blinded veterans.

    Such efforts as improving the VA’s vision rehabilitation services, benefits, research and caregiver support for blinded veterans.

    Cleanup scheduled

    Under the “Items of Community Interest” standing agenda item, City Administrator Mandy Risinger apprised the council on a variety of ongoing projects and events within the city limits.

    One such topic is the city’s annual cleanup effort, which begun on Monday and will last through Friday, March 19.

    The city will accept heavy waste at its warehouse, located at 200 Wingate Street. Residents can take advantage of this opportunity for disposal of heavy, solid waste items during this time period from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    There will also be “Be Green – Stay Clean” events on Saturday and on March 20, and Risinger encouraged individuals, as well as organizations to take part in the effort.

    On a related topic during her report of community-related items, Risinger said the city will begin sending out letters to property owners of problematic and/or nuisance properties soon to compel them to clean-up said properties. There will also be hearings scheduled over these matters, also with substandard buildings. These issues have been put on hold due to COVID, she said.

    Risinger also spoke about the coming Dogwood Festival events, all of which are scheduled to take place as they traditionally do, with Festival of the Arts at Heritage Village; Western Weekend and Queen’s Weekend, scheduled for the third and fourth weekends in March and first weekend in April, respectively.

    She referred to the language of Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent executive order, which ended the mask mandate and reopened occupancy for businesses to 100%, statewide. She said the order does not address public gatherings, and the previous order addressing them allows for localized approval for events of more than 10 people. The festival’s governing board has already approached the city for approval, which was granted, Risinger said.

    The city is not planning to issue any vendor permits until May 1, however, which will be after the festival has taken place. “By that time, vaccinations should be readily available, and the summer months will be on,” Risinger said, which are both factors that will further mitigate the spread of the virus, which is in decline locally and nationwide.

    Other Business

    • The city approved its fiscal year 2019-20 audit, which was conducted by Alexander, Lankford & Heirs. Richard Rudel reported on the audit results to the councilmembers and Jones and said there were no difficulties encountered in conducting the audit.

    • Citizens State Bank of Woodville was awarded as the city’s depository bank.

    • Risinger reported that the city looked at applying for the $350K CDBG grant cycle, with a match that is to be calculated based on variables such as population. “We are primarily looking at street improvement projects (if funded),” she said. A hearing was held to look at potential projects.

    • The city approved the procurement for administration services for CDBG program grant funding to David Waxman and Associates. Risinger said the firm has helped the city obtain millions and millions of dollars throughout the years.

  • Woodville’s Wise signs with Sul Ross

    DQuincyWise021121PHOTO COURTESY OF WOODVILLE ISD D’Quincy Wise, seated – center, on signing day. Wise signed on to play for the Sul Ross University Lobos.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – For high school athletes hoping for the opportunity to test their mettle at the collegiate level, the first Wednesday of February is a day of anticipation, as it is National Signing Day.

    One Woodville High School senior has signed on to play college football last Wednesday. D’Quincy Wise, who played both ways for the Eagles as a tackle, during his high school career, will go on to play for the Sul Ross University Lobos.

    The 5’11”, 285-lb. senior is set to graduate in May, is planning to major in kinesiology, and has a goal of becoming a coach.

    Upon signing with the university, Wise wrote on social media that he is “blessed to commit to Sul Ross and become a person on and off the field.”

    Sul Ross is located in the west Texan locale of Alpine, and their athletics program is part of the American Southwest Conference West division, which also includes schools like McMurry, Hardin-Simmons and Texas Lutheran. Wise will play under the direction of Lobos head coach John Pearce.

    As an Eagle, Wise was part of a powerhouse team for his last season, which found them achieving bi-district champion status and finishing third in UIL 3A Division 1. Wise also played basketball for the Eagles and competed in the shot-put event in track and field.

    He was named the Defensive MVP in district when all-district honors were named. In 2019, he was named first team defensive tackle.

    A social media post from Woodville ISD congratulating Wise stated “We can’t wait to see you on the field as a Lobo.”

  • Wreck claims young Colmesneil woman

    blue light 73088 960 720FILE PHOTO Blue Light

    By Chris Edwards

    SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY – A multiple-vehicle crash in San Augustine County left a young Colmesneil woman dead, another seriously injured and a community in mourning.

    According to the crash report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday evening, at approximately 5:45 p.m., a Kia passenger car was northbound along FM 1277, and failed to yield to the right-of-way from a stop sign and headed into the path of an eastbound vehicle on state highway 103. The driver of the Kia was identified by DPS as 18-year-old Lacy Reynolds of Colmesneil, and she was pronounced dead at the scene by a San Augustine Justice of the peace. A passenger in the vehicle, Kaitlyn Byrum, 17, of Colmesneil, was transported via helicopter to a hospital in Tyler.

    The driver of the other vehicle involved in the fatal crash, identified as Joe Worry, a 37-year-old San Augustine man, was transported to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital in Lufkin for treatment. There is no report on Worry’s condition, but sources indicate that Byrum has undergone tests and is showing some improvement.

    While investigators with DPS were investigating the crash, a Freightliner tractor truck semi-trailer was eastbound and, according to the report, took evasive action to avoid the crash, and left the roadway, striking a parked pickup truck.

    The news of Reynolds’ passing sent shockwaves through her hometown. The 18-year-old recent graduate of Colmesneil High School was involved in the community and a myriad of extracurricular activities in school. She was the 2019 CHS Homecoming Queen and represented Colmesneil as a Dogwood Princess last year.

    Reynolds was attending Stephen F. Austin State University, majoring in business, where she’d recently been named to the President’s List. Her mother, Chrissy Reynolds, in a public social media post following the crash urged everyone to pray for Byrum, her cousin, and stated that although the family’s “hearts are completely shattered,” the family and friends know that Lacy “is walking those streets of gold.”

    Several events that were scheduled for CISD were canceled or postponed in light of the crash. The crash remains under investigation by DPS.

  • WWII vet Netherland dies

    WWII vet Hermon NetherlandCOURTESY PHOTO WWII vet Hermon Netherland

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – Longtime Colmesneil resident and World War II hero Hermon Netherland died last Friday. He was 94.

    Netherland had lived on Lake Amanda since retiring from Texaco in 1985. He was a war hero who participated in almost every major campaign of the war in the Pacific as a part of the U.S. Navy. Netherland, who was born on April 21, 1926, in Enterprise, Louisiana, was raised in Port Arthur, and signed up to join the service at the age of 15. In an interview in 2019 with a regional publication that published an issue focused on WWII veterans in the area, Netherland recalled how he was encouraged to sign up at such a young age after a friend who was his same age joined, a fact that did not make his father happy.

    Netherland said he spent a year wearing his father down, and at 16, he was able to be enlisted, in 1942, at the height of the war.

    He was qualified in service as both a signalman and a frogman and was involved with several dangerous invasion campaigns. He was present for the invasions of Guam, Sai Pan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines and the Marshall Islands. At Iwo Jima, he was hit by a mortar, which left shrapnel in his back, some of which remained in him, and resulted in nagging pain throughout the rest of his service years.

    After his discharge, he worked at the Texaco refinery in Port Arthur for many years, and following retirement, he and his wife Velma moved to Colmesneil. He was known as a friendly, soft-spoken man who was always willing and ready to lend a helping hand. In spite of his illustrious record as a combat veteran and his tall, imposing frame, many remember him as an incredibly kind, interesting and giving man. He enjoyed the comfort of his home on the lake, and outdoor pursuits, such as fishing, hunting and gardening, and he was a devoted, highly knowledgeable collector of antiques, jewelry, art and motorcycle memorabilia.

    Netherland’s minster, Dr. Keith Bellamy, of the Woodville Church of Christ said that in spite of all that Netherland had endured and his record of combat duty, he had told him once “I don’t hate anyone.”

    Scott Mitchell, who ministers at the Warren Church of Christ and volunteers to drive the VA van to appointments at the Houston VA Hospital, was a friend of Netherland’s and called him “a rare breed that most will never understand or could live up to.”

    “He’s one more of the ‘greatest generation’ to leave this world,” Mitchell wrote on Facebook.

    Last year, Netherland’s close friend and neighbor Kirsten Hardmant put out a call on social media to help gather donations to get him a powered lift chair, as it was getting harder for him to get up from his old recliner. Although many donations came through, when Mann Furniture owner Lee Mann got wind of the effort, he donated a lift chair to Netherland. The older man was a friend of Mann’s from church, and although the funds were more than sufficient to purchase such a chair from Mann’s business, he would not hear of it, and insisted donating the chair to his friend. Both Mann and Netherland then suggested that the money be put toward a Warren family whose home had burned down.

    Hardmant said at the time that although Netherland “sometimes needs a little help,” he rarely asked for it, and was always more concerned with others.

    She said that often when Netherland would go out to enjoy breakfast at the Bulldog Country Café in Colmesneil, he would be “like a magnet,” and many men and women would come up to him and thank him for his service and want to talk to him and would often buy his breakfast.

    Bellamy said that at Netherland’s request, there will be no service for him, but at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 28, there will be a gathering at the Woodville Church of Christ to honor those who helped to take care of him.

    Netherland was preceded in death by his wife, Velma, and daughter, Sharon.

  • ‘Wit’ challenges notions about life and death

    OAP Kids 032521PHOTO COURTESY OF WHS THEATRE The cast and crew of Woodville High School’s One Act Play entry “Wit” is advancing to UIL Regionals and officially placed in the Top 32 in the state of Texas. Adrianna Stark received Top Performer; Madison McGinty got All Star Crew and Tatum Chandler earned an Honorable Mention Cast award. The cast and crew will compete for advancement to the State competition on April 17.

    By Jacob Spivey

    Saturday March 20, Woodville High School Theatre competed at the Bi-District One Act Play Contest. After a convincing performance that won district the week prior, this week’s contest would select the best performances from Bi-District to compete at the Regional Contest in Houston April 16.

    Woodville’s selection by Director Melanie Spivey, is scenes from the Pulitzer prize winning play Wit. Wit is the story of Dr. Vivian Bearing, and her death from ovarian cancer. Over the course of the play, Bearing reflects on her life which she has dedicated to the study of metaphysical poet John Donne.

    Throughout her career, Bearing has developed a reputation as a harsh intellectualist, preferring knowledge to kindness, throughout the play, as she realizes that she if of interest to her physicians more as research than as a person, Vivian finds a new appreciation for humanity and kindness.

    Wit is headlined by Adiranna Stark’s rendition of Dr. Vivian Bearing. Stark, who received Top Performer honors at both District and Bi-District, captivates the audience throughout the performance, never leaving stage she is unequivocally the star of the show and shows tremendous range. In the course of 40 minutes, Stark showcases Bearing as a force of nature in the classroom lambasting students who have no passion for poetry, a graduate student still unsure of her convictions, a child learning to read, and woman dying as she grapples with the reality of death. Stark’s performance as a woman who has studied the humanities only to find that it is in her death, not her life, that she finally understands the depth of what it means to be part of humanity is both breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

    Joining Stark on stage is an ensemble that includes Joseph Ratcliff playing Dr. Harvey Kelekian, Tatum Chandler as E.M. Ashford, Savannah Ludewig as Jason Posner, A’Nijah Betts as Susie Monahan, and Zachary Woravitz as Vivian’s Father.

    Chandler, who was awarded as an All-Star Cast Member, joins Stark in showing a wide range as she and the crew backstage does a masterful job of showing Dr. E.M. Ashford in her prime as Vivian’s professor while in graduate school, and then thru the force of makeup and costuming she ages 30 years to return to the stage as Vivian is dying to provide comfort and love that Vivian has so desperately needed.

    Other standout performances included Savannah Ludewig as young medical resident Jason Posner, who along with Bearing, learns that there is more to people than just research. Ludewig showcases a depth of understanding of her role as she embraces the intellectual complexity of remaining professional well having compassion for her patients. Susie Monahan RN, played by A’Nijah Betts plays opposite Posner, as a nurse who is long on compassion, and truly tries to provide comfort and dignity to Vivian as she fights, and ultimately loses, her battle with cancer.

    Other members of the cast include Madison Benthall, Alexis Lee, Taniya Mitchell, Brianna Gilbert, Gladys Abbey, and Elizabeth Mullins, who provide support in a variety of strong roles that bring the story of death to life. Crew members include All-Star Stage Manager Madison McGinty, Lights Mckenzie Perkins, Sound Theta Drake, Katelyn Jasper, Brek Wagon, Jeremy Waldrep and Kesean Paire.

    While the crew may be behind the scenes, it should not be lost on those who come to see this show, that the lights and set for Wit were by far the most complex showcased on Saturday. This show, directed by Melanie Spivey and assisted by Donna Blackerby, was truly a delight that challenges our assumptions about what it means to die, and live with dignity.

    Woodville One Act Play will next perform in Houston at the Regional Contest on April 16. By Advancing to this level, they are already ranked in the Top 32 3A plays in the state, in April, they will compete for a place on the stage in Austin for the State Competition and a top eight finish.

    At this time a public performance is being planned for the near future and trust me when I say you don’t want to miss an opportunity to witness fantastic theatre right here at home.