Letter to the editor

Dear editor,


Abbott, Texas delegation ask Congress for hurricane relief funds

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott and members of Lone Star State’s congressional delegation last week signed a letter seeking $18.7 billion in Texas-specific Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery funding in the next federal supplemental appropriations bill.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Emergency Management Commission is working with county judges and mayors to secure funding and resources requested by those local officials. 
John Sharp, who heads the commission, testified along with other state officials before the Texas House Appropriations Committee at a meeting in Houston last week examining recovery costs. In his testimony, Sharp urged officials in Harris County and other hurricane-stricken counties to submit the FEMA-required Request for Public Assistance forms by Oct. 31. 
Sharp speculated that the $140 billion early estimate of Hurricane Harvey recovery costs would be turn out to be low.
Revenue total increases


Governor applauds TxDOT efforts in removal of hurricane debris

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Sept. 27 announced the Texas Department of Transportation had collected more than 2.4 million cubic feet of debris left behind by Hurricane Harvey in roadways across the four districts hardest hit by the storm.
TxDOT is continuing to assist in the removal of debris from roadsides in Corpus Christi, Houston, Beaumont and a number of areas along the Gulf Coast region, Abbott said in a news release. 
“This is a tall order, but I want to assure Texans that TxDOT is up to the challenge and has already made great progress. We will not rest until this important job is finished, and we are working to do so as quickly as possible,” he added.


Legislation proposes to regulate access to restrooms, locker rooms

AUSTIN — Texas now has a “bathroom bill.”

The Lone Star State has joined Alabama, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington as states where legislation has been filed in an effort to restrict access to restrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities on the basis of sex or gender.

On Jan. 5, Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, filed Senate Bill 6, titled the Texas Privacy Act. The legislation, she said, would address “the personal privacy concerns of many Texans.”

The legislation comes after a May 13, 2016, “joint guidance” from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice “to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.”


What kind of news do you like? -- Blood and gore?

In more than half a century in the news business (and still counting), it seems inescapable that the general public is drawn to “bad news.” It just seems to be in our nature to gawk and almost revel at scenes of misery and tragedy.
One of the best arguments showing folks propensity for “blood and gore,” is a car wreck on a busy, major thoroughfare.
Naturally, the traffic on the side where the accident occurred is either stopped or crawling along. On the opposite side of the road, for no apparent good reason, traffic is creeping its way past the scene.
It is my contention that most of us are, if not downright bloodthirsty, drawn to “bad news.” That is, I believe we seem to thrive on someone else’s troubles.
And, that, brothers and sisters, is why the news media will almost always go with the most horrific news as the headline lead story. Morbid curiosity. It’s in every one of us.


Cousin Dooley and his sleek, black 1950 Mercury

Perhaps junior high age boys aren’t as gullible and impressionable as they were when I was that age.
In my hometown, one campus served both the high school and the junior high, grades 7-12, with 210 students total. If you wanted to be the Big Man on Campus (BMOC), you either had a really long wait or it was never. The latter was the norm.
I was in my first year on that campus, located on Main Street that also doubled as U.S. Highway 84.
During that year, I had a big boost in my status (at times, at least) since my cousin Dooley lived in a rooming house cat-a-corner from the campus. Dooley had returned from military service, had gone to work for the railroad and had bought himself a brand new black 1950 Mercury 2-door.


Memory jogged about those who gave me a leg up in life

Some of us are blessed to have true blood brothers. I have three, all younger, and they each can give me a giant case of puffy chest.
If you have friends so cherished that you feel they are truly brothers, then you are doubly blessed as I am.
Sometimes, things happen in life that jog my memory concerning those who have made invaluable contributions to my life.
Two natural brothers — Rigby Owen Jr. and Steve Owen — have been major players for me all of my adult life. I have been in their employment and also in business as a partner with them. What I have gained from their friendship and “brotherhood” is immeasurable. And, thankfully, it continues.
“Big brother” Steve jogged my memory a little deeper recently when he sent me a book about a man — Don Reid Jr. — who was a major influence and helper in my college years.


Great thing about my job: meeting interesting people

Several years ago, one of our nieces spent part of a day riding around with Life Mate Julie while she tracked down news. After a while she said “You have a great job; you get to get in everyone’s business and you get paid for it.”
Perhaps that’s how some people might see it, but one of the very best things about our business is the interesting people we get to meet. And, if we’re lucky, we get to know them well.
One of the first interesting and delightful people I met when I moved to Jasper was attorney Joe Tonahill.
Tonahill was a personal injury-trial attorney with quite the reputation for winning big sums of money for his clients. Most of his cases were of a personal injury nature.
Of course, I’d heard of him before we met. His time in the headlines had little to do with the majority of his cases. What got him the big headlines was a national trial.


Not all Tabasco's products are hot stuff, some are sweet

My cowboy daddy, the late Lawrence Ray (L. Ray) Webb, saw to it that spicy seasoning was a staple around the household when he and Mom were raising four sons.
Dad spent a lot of his early childhood in Brady and spicy food — a definite Mexican influence via a significant Hispanic population — was plentiful. So, naturally he craved as much of the taste as possible. Mom, being the typical housewife and mother of the times, sought to satisfy that taste as much as possible.
While, her central Texas farm-raising gave her recipes and talents for creating in the kitchen, she was also good at old-fashioned canning. One area of canning involved relishes that were used to season everything, particularly the typically somewhat bland pinto bean and black-eyed peas dishes.


On small town newspapers and microphone thrusters

Folks at small town newspapers for any length of time have been subjected to “microphone thrusters” at Friday night football games.
Over the years, I have found that small town radio stations are faced with some of the same problems as country newspapers, principally a shortage of help that leads to a lot of double duty. And, despite some natural enmity, bred by the competitiveness to be the best news medium in your town, there comes a natural tendency to latch onto a little help from “the enemy” in certain situations. That enmity never seemed to spill over into real war. Some even conceded that helping each other out never seemed to be impeded by the competitiveness.


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