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Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke Clayton
April 16, 2024


Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
Luke (rt) and his good friend Larry Weishuhn are both in their mid seventies and still enjoying the great outdoors, maybe more now than ever! Photo by Luke ClaytonThere was a time back when I was in my twenties and thirties that I thought I would be hanging…
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April 13, 2024

Close-to-home fun

Category: Outdoor Life Author: Super User
As an outdoors writer for the past 39 years, I’ve become accustomed to “gallavanting” around the country fishing, hunting and collecting material for my articles. Lately though, I’ve been sticking pretty close to home. Kenneth Shephard with a good “eater…


A lesson we all need to learn again

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By Rhonda Oaks/TxDOT

roadsign graphicI sat in front of the local big box store watching the crowd and contemplating whether I really needed what I went there for. I hate crowds and I am a power shopper, meaning I go straight in and out of a store. I don’t need to look at everything before I make up my mind about what I want. As I watched almost every shopper crossing the parking lot either looking at their phone, texting or just not paying attention, it dawned on me those storefront crosswalks might give pedestrians a false sense of security.

Pedestrian fatality rates are on the rise and TxDOT is frantically trying to figure out why. TxDOT currently has safety campaigns that include television and radio spots, billboards, and other safety messages in hopes of getting your attention to this growing problem.  You can help. Put away all electronic devices and pay attention to what is going on around you when you are walking or driving. 

As I watched the traffic that day, I noticed the store had big stop signs erected at the crosswalk so the customers could get safely into the store without stopping for traffic. And while that is legal at any crosswalk, the pedestrians are assuming that motorists will stop anywhere they might choose to cross a street. Pedestrians should always yield to traffic. Not the other way around. Drivers are only required to stop for pedestrians at legally marked crosswalks or when directed by law enforcement or school crossing guards.

I had a customer ask me, or rather argue, that all motorists should yield to pedestrians, no matter where they are located. Don’t be fooled into believing motorists are required to yield anywhere you choose to walk. Of course, a motorist will not deliberately hit a pedestrian. It’s usually a matter of not seeing them or the pedestrian has stepped out into traffic.

In October 2021, there were 631 crashes in Texas involving pedestrians that resulted in 90 pedestrian fatalities. In 2021 in the Lufkin District, there were 49 crashes involving pedestrians that resulted in 18 fatalities and 17 serious injuries. As the days grow shorter, the chances of crashes involving pedestrians increase. From 2020 to 2021, we saw them increase by 15 percent.

As a motorist, when you see a pedestrian, keep your eyes on them. Pay attention as you drive and put your phone away. Always be ready for them to step into traffic. They might not see you, and they might not be listening or paying attention. 

As a pedestrian, cross only at crosswalks or intersections. Make eye contact with motorists before you cross the roadway, even in a parking lot. Use a sidewalk if there is one available. Listen and pay attention. At night, wear bright or reflective clothing or carry a flashlight.

If you are still confused about pedestrian law, check out the Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Vehicles and Traffic; Subtitle C, Rules of the Road; Chapter 552, Pedestrians.

If motorists and pedestrians will follow these suggestions and the law, I believe pedestrian fatality rates could decrease. Getting your attention is the first step. Look up. Look both ways before crossing and don’t walk in the street. It’s the same simple lesson we were taught as children. We just need to relearn it.

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Pull that lever, or your house will be haunted

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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There’s quite a bit of doom and gloom floating around the ether this season, and not so much of it is related to the Halloween holiday.

Of course, I’m referring to the election, and whether it’s the end of the world or just the end of democracy depends on who ends up in charge — at least that’s what the “knowledgeable” pundits on the air and on your social media/email feeds will tell you.

Regardless of who you cast your ballot for, it behooves me to remind you to not only vote but remember that whatever happens to our country in the future is up to us, and who we put in charge will be on our heads. Just like the protagonists in horror movies — the ones who go off alone, or into the woods at night, or, well, you know.

In honor of both seasons — Halloween and election — here’s an exercise that will put the proper spin on all the scary stuff we’re facing using some horror films that are either notorious or enjoyable, depending on your particular bent: the swap.

•“The Exorcist” was a movie I saw only once but it left a lasting impression on me for two reasons; some friend of mine, under the influence of illicit substances, were sitting behind me, so the film for me at the time was a laugh riot, and then later, I realized just how scary the implications were for someone so seemingly nice becoming something evil. Like, say, Mitt Romney, who had everyone believing that he was going to do nice things for the country only to become something more sinister and unlikeable.

Linda Blair can become a senator from Utah, which would I’m sure scare that population out of its mind.

•”Dracula,” either the Bela Lugosi or Gary Oldman version, would feature any Democratic president, but for this we’ll use Joe Biden as the titular bloodsucker. He won’t actually drink blood, but that would be eww, but instead would siphon tax dollars to provide “life” to a country that would be better off fending for itself.

•”Frankenstein,” the man who created the monster, dabbled in something he didn’t understand and consequently let loose a terror on the world. In my mind, former President Obama would fit the bill as the monster, given his ham-fisted approach to leadership, and his putative creator, Rahm Emanuel, who ended up being the real monster.

•Given the Texas border is a sieve, and nobody can seem to solve that problem, I’m thinking that would be an interesting substitute for “Aliens.” After all, the premise is the same, and the country is changing because of inaction and anyone raising an alarm is treated as the problem. 

Frankly, not even Ripley and her loader could solve this issue.

•Until it’s purchase by Elon Musk, the Twitterverse was more like the movie “A Quiet Place,” except that only permitted speech was allowed to be disseminated. Unless you feel “The Silence of the Lambs” would be a more appropriate swap. I’m good with either.

•This one might be a bit of a stretch, but I’m thinking that former President “W” Bush would be a fit for “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” except instead of mind control, there would be that execrable Patriot Act responsible for controlling the people of this country.

The moral of this particular tale today is a simple one: Despite a seemingly dauntless task, people, and voters as well, can solve most problems. So buckle up and pull that lever and let’s vanquish all the demons.

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Committee charged with environmental regulation

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Trent AshbyBy Rep. Trent Ashby

As we near the 2022 General Election Day on November 8, I’d like to offer a friendly reminder that the early voting period will begin on October 24 and will end on November 4. While I always encourage folks to take advantage of the early voting period to avoid Election Day lines, what’s most important is that you plan to participate in the process by exercising your right to vote. For more information about early voting locations, what you’ll need to bring with you to the polling locations, or any other questions you may have, please visit www.votetexas.gov. With that, we’ll dive back into our examination of House interim charges. . .

House Interim Charge: Environmental Regulation

The House Committee on Environmental Regulation is up next on our tour of House Committees. With nine sitting members, the Committee focuses on policies relating to air, land, and water pollution, waste disposal, and the regulation of industrial development as it pertains to the environment. The House Committee on Environmental Regulation also oversees several state agencies, including the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission. 

Like most committees, Environmental Regulation will monitor policies enacted during the 87th Legislative Session to ensure the implementation of the measures align with the intent of the legislation. For instance, HB 1680 streamlines the regulation of on-site sewage disposal systems on federal land leases by establishing that each tract of leased land is considered separate to allow lessees to update or replace their existing septic systems. Another bill, HB 4472 amends the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) to expand the number of projects eligible for grant funding, while also allowing for enhanced investments in our state’s infrastructure funding. In addition to the review of HB 4472, the Committee has also been tasked with evaluating the TERP program’s effectiveness and identifying unrealized opportunities that would further the program’s goal. 

The Committee has been charged to review the recent passage of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how the federal funds may be used to complement the state’s efforts to clean up polluted sites, plug wells, and carry out various pollution mitigation initiatives. The Committee will also monitor various federal regulations that could directly impact the state’s economic development, manufacturing, and industrial activities within the purview of the House Committee on Environmental Regulation, including regulations adopted or proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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Ain’t nobody special

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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American singer, songwriter and actress LeAnn Rimes recently released a new song, Spaceship. Rimes has struggled with depression and anxiety for years. The song could be an anthem for those who suffer from major depression.

While I’ve never struggled personally with major depression, I have years of confronting the struggle daily and have learned a lot about compassion and understanding others because of it. Check out the video of Rimes’ song on YouTube by searching for Leann Rimes Spaceship (brief nudity at the end).



Here’s the beginning lyrics to the tune:

No, I never felt like I belonged here
This world wasn't quite ready for me
Whoever's out there in the stratosphere
Got a question for the cosmic engineer
Is it all you believed it would be?

Hey God, why don't you take me home?
Beam me up, I got a ticket to board
Yeah, you know I'm coming home anyway
So, we might as well blast off today, for fun
I'm waiting on my spaceship to come

How much pain can we bear being human?
I'm pretty sure that my mission is done here
How much more, yeah, do you want from me?
Haven't I earned the right to be a nominee?
To float out past the Pleiades
Oh, no, you can't be that hard to please…

Leann Rimes is 40 years old. The insight and sentiment in the song sounds more like those of an old guy like me, not a middle age, very successful and talented singer. A lot of older people feel the same way, struggling to get by without the buffer that wealth can provide in old age. I have heard it many times, “God, surely I’ve done whatever you put me here to do, why don’t you take me home.” We can’t know the mind of God.

But I don’t really want to write about depression. I want to write about privilege and power. And the very common struggles of someone with privilege and power illustrate my topic well.

Many people, as we can tell from the popularity of TV preachers promoting the Prosperity Gospel, believe that acquiring wealth and success in life means that God loves them in a special way that He doesn’t others. They believe that money and success mean they have earned a place in the spiritual realm different than those of us who have lived average lives. That God bestows material wealth and success on those he loves most. And that that special position with God justifies their exercising power and control over mere humans. That God has given them a special wisdom to lord over other human beings.

But my Bible tells me that God has no favorites, bestows no special insight on anyone, sees every human being as special and important. The wealthy and powerful still suffer the calamities of the poor, despite the solid gold health care and living conditions that wealth provides. Wealth often fuels hubris, though, and we end up with politicians who believe only they have the truth. And that “truth” gives them the justification to tell others how they will live, what they will believe, who they will love, and the box they will spend their life in.

It's a lie. Ain’t nobody special. While we may never understand what purpose we were to accomplish by being put on this earth, we were not put here to rule over other humans. God makes it clear that He reserves that power to himself. Don’t give it to flawed human beings with overinflated opinions of their own superiority.

And whatever political party you ascribe to (a concept ridiculous to God, along with geographical borders), don’t forget to vote. If you really want one wealthy politician or another to control your life, at least pick them deliberately, don’t give them that power by default.

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History Is HISTORY!

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Horace McQueen ColumnBy Horace McQueen

Nero Fiddles and Rome burns!  Such a fitting comparison to the headlines of today! Protestors continue marching, burning, looting and raising Hell in general. And too often the weak spineless politicians are afraid to challenge the protesters. Once statues come crashing down that are not “correct” in the eyes of the rabble rousers, what next? One Houston reactionary advocates tearing down the huge statue of Sam Houston that graces I-45 and old Highway 75 near Huntsville. And all roads, streets, highways, byways, schools, other public buildings that bear names of our leaders from generations ago are in the target zone. Just think about this! If not for the leadership of slave owner Houston at the battle of San Jacinto, Texas today could be a part of Mexico. 

Reckon what the “tear ‘em down” morons really know about our history—not a whole lot! Teachers must spend a lot of time “teaching to the test” and not teaching our youngsters the history about the building of this great nation. Reckon how many high school students know that the Washington monument was built by contractors (all Yankees) using slave labor. Or that the Inca and Mayan temples in Mexico and Central America were built by slaves. Those who need a cause to destruct property should join the U.S. military and head across the water to where real battles are being fought by REAL AMERICANS.

No more Six Flags Over Texas featuring the flags that have flown over the Lone Star State. With all the protests against anything Southern, the Six Flags owners removed the six flags that have flown over the tourist attraction since 1961. Destined for the burn barrels are the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the Confederacy. Only the flag of the United States will be waving henceforth at Six Flags. A Six Flags spokesperson said owners wanted to feature that which “unites us rather than divides us.” 

What a mess, man-made and no end in sight. Lord, bring us leaders with common sense and the backbone to bring us together! 

That’s –30--- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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