Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day Of 2008 Brings Reflections Of Year & Hopes For A Better 2009

I want to wish all the regular readers of Waco Newsbeat a Happy New Year and please be careful tonight as you make your way around town. 2008 has turned out to be a year most people would like to forget, as soon as possible. Both young and old will look back on 2008 and remember it as a year that started out with sky high gas prices and ended with a severe recession that caused most of our stock market investments to drop by as much as 50%.

While no year is all bad, 2008 proved to be the one when the bad actions of a few caused terrible financial pain for most as poor government choices and inaction allowed criminals to steal billions of dollars from Americans on Wall Street and to make matters even worse, that same government decided to reward those same criminals with a taxpayer bailout, rather than letting them go bankrupt or even worse prosecuted and sent to federal prison.

The terrible choices of the US federal government in 2008 changed the American political landscape forever as the GOP for all practical purposes committed suicide as the party of Reagan rewarded the bad behavior of big business in a way that would have made die-hard liberals jealous. Tomorrow we all start 2009 and when next year ends, I certainly hope that this nation has made a positive turn where once again our nations leaders are on the side of the people and not just themselves.

Title: Last Day Of 2008 Brings Reflections Of Year & Hopes For A Better 2009
Written: December 31, 2008
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brush Fires Started By Fireworks Concern Authorities This New Years Weekend

Everyone loves to party on New Years Eve and part of that celebration for many people includes fireworks. New Years Eve 2008 is going to be a very dangerous time for Waco area residents to be setting off fireworks in rural areas because of an abundance of dead and dry under brush.

Some areas of Central Texas seem to stay in high fire potential conditions all the time. For years, I have heard local television reporters talk about 'Bell County Burn Bans' on a regular basis. Considering the vast amount of rural grass land in Bell County around Ft. Hood, it does make sense to keep most of that area under a burn ban, all the time.

Tomorrow night, fire departments in the Waco area will be on high alert to respond quickly when and if fires break out due to the use of fireworks. Unfortunately, the consumption of alcohol is also a big part of New Years Eve and there is no doubt in my mind that fireworks and alcohol do not mix well, at all.

Title: Brush Fires Started By Fireworks Concern Authorities This New Years Weekend
Written: December 30, 2008
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Wild Dog Attacks Waco Police Officer, Shot Fired At Charging Animal

Last night, just after dusk, a Waco police officer was called to the scene of a home where a 'pit bull' dog was out-of-control in the front yard of a residence. While the police officer tried to keep his distance from the visibly upset dog, non the less the dog charged the officer who then drew his gun and fired one shot in the direction of the animal.

The dog was not hit and later Waco Animal Patrol showed up at the scene and they were able to get the dog under control. A police spokesman said last night on the late local news that it is permissible for a police officer to draw and fire his weapon if attacked by a human or even a K-9.

I know that all Waco police officers now carry Taser Guns which leads me to ask the question why a taser was not fired at this dog rather than a regular gun? I am in no way questioning the need of the Waco police officer to protect himself, but only wondering what might have happened if his stray bullet actually hit an innocent bystander?

Title: Wild Dog Attacks Waco Police Officer, Shot Fired At Charging Animal
Written: December 30, 2008
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Police Search For Eric Damon Benavidez, Accused Of Waco Arson Fires October 24, 2008

David Kevin Allen, was arrested last weekend and charged with arson for starting multiple fires at abandoned buildings on October 24, 2008 in the City of Waco. Also charged, but not yet under arrest is Eric Damon Benavidez.

Long time residents of Waco were shocked when we heard the news that the old Sanger Avenue Elementary School had burned to the ground, but when the additional news that other buildings and even an automobile had been set on fire that same night, most people became fearful of their own property and personal safety.

While all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, many Waco resident will feel a slight sigh of relief that the alleged arsonist that struck many old abandoned structures on Oct, 24th are now in police custody. Setting fires, even in abandoned buildings, is a very serious crime because even if no one lives in those buildings, Waco firefighters must still risk their lives putting those fires out.

Title: Police Search For Eric Damon Benavidez, Accused Of Waco Arson Fires October 24, 2008
Written: December 30, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Monday, December 29, 2008

Terrible Truck Accident Near Troy Claims The Life Of Spencer Willard Casebolt

My wife talked to her sister yesterday after she arrived back in Waco from a trip to Austin. According to my sister-in-law the traffic on I-35 between Waco and Austin was filled with slow traffic and numerous accidents as Christmas travelers made their way back home after a long holiday week.

On Friday, there was a terrible traffic accident on I-35 near the town of Troy. For some still unknown reason - the driver of a big rig truck, Spencer Willard Casebolt, lost control over his 18 wheeler and drove down the grassy divider part of the Interstate before eventually crashing into a concrete portion of an overpass.

My personal opinion is that most likely a heart attack or some other major illness caused Spencer Casebolt to pass out or die while his truck continued down the road until it finally had nowhere else to go. I have seen that type of accident happen before and it almost always ends up being fatal for the truck driver. Spencer Casebolt died in that accident, but his body was burned so badly after a fire that resulted from the crash - an autopsy will be impossible to preform.

Title: Terrible Truck Accident Near Troy Claims The Life Of Spencer Willard Casebolt
Written: December 29, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wife Went To See Marley & Me While I Stayed Home To Watch The Dallas Cowboys

This afternoon my wife and I made different choices when it came to entertainment. I decided to stay home and watch the Dallas Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles while she went to see 'Marley & Me' with her sister at a local theater. Man did I make a huge mistake choosing the Dallas Cowboys over a movie.

As everyone now knows, the Dallas Cowboys played their usual of late terrible football this afternoon as the Eagles cleaned house with them which ended the Cowboy's 2008 season with a massive blowout defeat.

Now that the season is over for the Dallas Cowboys, maybe during the off season someone in team leadership will try and figure out what is wrong with them. During the first half of the season the offense was great and during the second half of the season the defense shined, but at no time during this season did both the offense and defense play up to their full potential.

Title: Wife Went To See Marley & Me While I Stayed Home To Watch The Dallas Cowboys
Written: December 28, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Gas Prices In Waco Are Low Compared To Last Year

Compared to the past couple of years, gas prices in Waco are low this Christmas with prices at some gas stations and convenience stores below $1.40 per gallon. Considering most people that have a retirement plan either at work or through the ownership of stocks and/or mutual funds have seen their net worth drop considerably the past 90 days - low gas prices in Waco do have the effect of making us feel better this holiday season.

While lower gas prices are a net positive for most Waco residents, unfortunately those lower prices could cause the SUV addicts of GM, Ford and Chrysler, in Detroit, to once again fall back on producing more of those gas hogs and further delay a move to a more stable automobile industry in the United States. Don't get me wrong, I love SUV's as much as the next guy, but they are only fun to drive when gas prices are low.

In the world today, nothing stays the same for very long - so be prepared for gas prices to once again rise in the near future and hopefully the US stock market will go back up again, as well. In the mean time, the Christmas of 2008 will provide gas prices that are closer to $1 per gallon than $2 and that in and of itself is a good thing.

Title: Christmas Eve Gas Prices In Waco Are Low Compared To Last Year
Written: December 24, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Home Invasions/Gun Crimes Increasing In Waco During The Holiday Season

The Christmas holiday season of 2008 is turning out to not be so jolly for citizens of Waco as home invasions and crimes like robbery with a gun are reported multiply times per day. Not that long ago, there was a billboard on I-35 that said 'Waco Is The 7th Most Violent City In Texas' and now I can see what that unfortunately ranking means to folks in real life.

For years, there have been violent crimes committed in Waco on a daily basis - but most of the time those crimes were limited to a small area of town that was known for gang activity and illegal drug sales. However, over the past month - home invasions and robbery with a gun crimes have gone citywide which have left most people in Waco afraid to even travel outside their home after dark.

While I am not expert when it comes to knowing whether or not the City of Waco has enough police officers to guard our community, right now it appears that we do not and I am starting to wonder if the Waco City Council has made a mistake in not increasing the number of police officers that are protecting the public? Until some kind of new law and order brings a sense of security back to Waco, most people are going to be reluctant to leave their homes at night.

Title: Home Invasions/Gun Crimes Increasing In Waco During The Holiday Season
Written: December 23, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Friday, December 19, 2008

James Ramirez/Jerry Newland Indicted For The Murder Of Officer Bobby Evans

Last night, I watched the daughter of murdered Bellmead animal control officer Bobby Evans interviewed on the late local news here in Waco. She emotionally talked to a TV reporter about how difficult is was for her to be spending her second Christmas, this year, without her father who was murdered near the Bellmead animal shelter.

James Ramirez and Jerry Newland were charge with the murder of Bobby Evans back in February, but they were not indicted for the crime until yesterday. Witness reports say that Ramirez and Newland killed Officer Evans for no good reason while search the area he was in for chemicals to produce drugs.

While I am pleased that Waco area police authorities have made arrests in this senseless murder, I am most curious as to why it too so long for a local grand jury to indict them on murder charges after their arrest back in February of this year?

Title: James Ramirez/Jerry Newland Indicted For The Murder Of Officer Bobby Evans
Written: December 19, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Holze Music Holds Auction Saturday, Another Waco Business Icon Gone For Good

I moved to Waco in 1983 and one of the first business names I heard of back then was Holze Music. Now, after almost a year of trying to stay alive in Waco after tax problems - on Saturday the Holze Music Company on Lake Air Drive will auction off it's remaining inventory to the highest bidder and close forever.

Change is just a daily part of life for all of us, but as father time has caught up with me - I find myself sometimes a bit emotional when I see old time Waco businesses biting the dust with nothing to take their place but outside major retail chains that wouldn't know your name even if you shopped there every single day.

I'm sure that hundreds of people from Waco and all over Texas will attend the Holze Music final auction on Saturday, but I won't count myself in that crowd. To me, an auction of a closed business is something that is more than just a bunch of pieces of furniture or in this case band instruments, but more akin to a death in the family.

Title: Holze Music Holds Auction Saturday, Another Waco Business Icon Gone For Good
Written: December 19, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Violence Seems To Be Increasing At The Mexia State School In Mexia Texas

I'm not sure if the facts will bear out my opinion on this subject, but to me there seems to be an ever increasing problem of violence at the Mexia State School in Mexia, Texas located east of Waco. Rather than focusing on the same old argument of whether or not the taxpayers, via the State of Texas, are spending enough money at the school - I instead would like to ask the question of what is being taught at this school that receives millions of dollars each year in tax dollars?

My young roots go back to the Texas panhandle and one school that has been around for decades there is a place called 'Boys Ranch'. When I was in high school, I remember several occasion when my father took me to a rodeo at 'Boys Ranch' and along with a fun day of activities, there was a tour of what that school was trying to do for troubled young Texas boys.

Maybe someone reading this post will comment on what kind of moral behavior is being taught at the Mexia State School and if there is none - maybe there should be some type of responsibility behavior system put into place there that is similar to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in the Texas panhandle.

Title: Violence Seems To Be Increasing At The Mexia State School In Mexia Texas
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Big 95 In Waco Plays A 'Soldiers Silent Night' Tribute To Members Of The Military

Radio station 'Big 95' in Waco has been playing a special Christmas song this year and after some research and the help of a friend from work, I have found the story that surrounds this Christmas tribute to US soldiers called 'Soldiers Silent Night'.

About one week ago, I first heard this tribute to US soldiers on 'Big 95' in Waco - but I caught the song in the middle and never understood the full context of where the song was coming from. Then tonight, I heard a 'Soldiers Silent Night' once again and this time I heard most of it before a telephone call caused me to miss the end.

Tonight, when I arrived home from work - my coworker had his wife email me the link to the story surrounding a 'Soldiers Silent Night' and I am so thankful that he did. Here is a link that will give you more information about this Christmas song and also a way to download it and listen to the full presentation yourself. Merry Christmas.

Title: Big 95 In Waco Plays A 'Soldiers Silent Night' Tribute To Members Of The Military
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Christopher Healer Surrenders To Waco Police After High Speed Chase/Standoff

Christopher Healer held police at bay today after a high speed chase that began in a quite Lorena Texas neighborhood and ended near Greg May Honda and Bird-Kultgen Ford at Loop 340 and Beverly in Waco. The police pursuit began after Healer fire at least one shot into the home of his mother and step father in Lorena. No one was injured.

After being pursued from Lorena to Waco, eventually Christopher Healer wrecked his blue mini-van under the Loop 340 bridge on Beverly Street and that is when a several hour standoff began as Mr. Healer threatened to take his own life.

Patience on the part of local law enforcement took it's toll on Christopher Healer and around 1pm today he left his mini-van and surrendered to waiting police officers. One of the biggest things that most Waco residents noticed from this incident today were long waits to travel north on Loop 340 because police blocked off that lane of travel to protect drivers from possible harm.

Title: Christopher Healer Surrenders To Waco Police After High Speed Chase/Standoff
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Long Police Standoff At Loop 340/Highway 6 In Waco Is Over

A long standoff under the bridge at Loop 340/Highway 6 in Waco is now over. Earlier this morning, Waco police were chasing a man in a blue mini-van and at the conclusion of that police chase, the heavily armed man wrecked his vehicle and began a standoff with local police.

Around 12:50pm, the man finally surrendered to Waco police officers. For several hours this morning, traffic on Loop 340/Highway 6 was brought to a stand still as police negotiated with this man to surrender peacefully. Apparently, that effort was successful.

Local residents of Waco that were traveling down Loop 340 between I-35 and the Richland Mall were treated to long delays as traffic was routed around the accident site where this yet unnamed man hunkered down and refused to surrender to Waco police.

Title: Long Police Standoff At Loop 340/Highway 6 In Waco Is Over
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Cindy Lynn Love Arrested On Theft Charges, HOT Council On Alcoholism/Drug Abuse

Cindy Lynn Love was arrested yesterday on theft charges. As an employee of the Heart of Texas Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse for more than a decade, Cindy Love is accused of stealing more than $65,000 in the criminal complaint against her.

The arrest of Cindy Love comes only one month after the sentencing of the former director of Downtown Waco Inc., Margaret Mills. With the sentencing of Mills and the arrest of Love, on similar charges at another Waco non profit group - many people are going to wonder if this is the end of bad news for Waco non profits or just the beginning.

According to the local Waco newspaper (Waco Tribune Herald), the Heart of Texas Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse does business out of the National Lloyds building at 9th and Franklin in downtown Waco and the group has an annual budget of $575,000 which in mainly funded by the State of Texas.

Title: Cindy Lynn Love Arrested On Theft Charges, HOT Council On Alcoholism/Drug Abuse
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Traffic At Waco Malls/Major Retailers Looks Strong Right Now

The past couple of weeks, I have been paying closer attention to the number of cars that are parked at major retailers like Target and Walmart, along with the usual traffic jams associated with the Richland Mall in Waco during this time of year.

The big talk on national television news programs and also in the local Waco newspaper and area television stations in regards to the US economy has been pretty negative as of late.

That said, from my casual observations of local Waco malls and retail stores - everything seems to be looking fine, locally, even if there are problems in other parts of the country. What I can't tell from looking at traffic patterns at local mall is the amount of money each shopper is spending or if they are buying anything at all.

Title: Traffic At Waco Malls/Major Retailers Looks Strong Right Now
Written: December 18, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thick Fog Blankets Waco On Wednesday Night

It was a bit tricky driving tonight as a blanket of thick fog moved into the Waco area. This afternoon, while the skies over Central Texas were mostly cloudy - as the sun went down, a thick fog entered the area and made driving somewhat dangerous.

With the exception of a few brave souls that were out driving around tonight around 10pm, there were few cars on the road which is not normal for this time of year because Christmas is only one week away. Of course, if people were not out shopping tonight because of the heavy fog - that probably means that stores will be even busier tomorrow.

If you were forced to leave home and drive your car tonight, you know exactly what I am talking about when referring to thick fog in the Waco area. Hopefully, your travels were safe and uneventful. More than likely though, on tomorrow mornings television news there will be numerous people that were not so lucky.

Title: Thick Fog Blankets Waco On Wednesday Night
Written: December 17, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, December 14, 2008

La Vega Pirates Football Team, So Close But Yet So Far Away

The 2008 high school football season ended yesterday for the La Vega Pirates with a loss to Prosper in the Texas State Championship football game in class 3A by the score of 17-10. Yesterday's game between La Vega and Prosper took place in the soon to be closed Texas Stadium in Irving.

From newspaper reports (Waco Tribune Herald), La Vega could not hold onto a 10 point lead they earned early in the game and as the final seconds of the 4th quarter ticked away - they were unable to score a touchdown, which would have given them a chance to tie up the game and send it into overtime.

Just like with the China Spring Cougars and the Midway Panthers, the La Vega Pirates had a fantastic season in 2008. Without a doubt, all La Vega fans are very disappointed this morning because they came so close to winning that beautiful Texas State Championship trophy in 2008. With time, La Vega fans will think back on this season with pride - but before that day comes, there will be a necessary grieving period which will need to pass after yesterday's heartbreaking loss.

Title: La Vega Pirates Football Team, So Close But Yet So Far Away
Written: December 14, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cranfills Gap Residents Party For Free In Las Vegas

As part of a city (Las Vegas) promotional campaign - about half of the residents that call Cranfills Gap, Texas home will be leaving today for an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Not long ago, it was learned that some advertising folks from Vegas wanted to find a small town in America and invite every resident that lives in that town to Las Vegas for a free five day stay, including airfare.

In the end Cranfills Gap won and while not every person that calls this small Central Texas town, not far from Waco, home will not be traveling to Las Vegas - the local newspaper is reporting this morning that at least half of them will be taking advantage of this free offer from Las Vegas and living it up on the strip for the next five days.

In addition to the airfare and hotel accommodations being paid in full by the City of Las Vegas, all of their meals and even entertainment like live shows will also be paid for by the Las Vegas folks who plan to make a television commercial early next year showing how much fun the residents of Cranfills Gap had on their Las Vegas getaway. Whether you believe gambling is right or wrong, the idea of getting a free vacation to an exciting place like Las Vegas is truly a once in a lifetime experience for many residents of Cranfills Gap who will participate in this free promotional trip.

Title: Cranfills Gap Residents Party For Free In Las Vegas
Written: December 13, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Robbery Increase In Downtown Section Of Waco Recently

It has always been considered unsafe to walk around in the downtown section of Waco at night, but recently there have been a series of armed robbery's that have drawn even more attention to some of the crime problems that have faced this area for years. Over the past few days, at least three people in Downtown Waco have been robbed at gun point.

Like almost every other medium to large city, Waco's downtown section has seen the crime rate grow over the years. In what use to be the thriving section of town back in the 1950's and 1960's, it has now turned into a place where many people that are involved in drugs and other crimes tend to hang out once the sun goes down.

Over the past year, many new businesses and construction projects have stared in Waco's downtown section and hopefully over time these new and more modern structures will bring increased police patrols and solid citizens to downtown Waco who are more interested in calling police when they see something wrong going on there, rather than just turning away because of the fear of retribution if they call police.

Title: Robbery Increase In Downtown Section Of Waco Recently
Written: December 11, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Mark Kirks (42) Still Missing After December 6th Disappearance

42 year old Mark Kirks is still missing after he wondered away from his group home on December 6th. Mr. Kirks has been off of his medication since that time and people that love and care about him are impatiently hoping he will be found safe and sound soon. In addition to the Waco Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety has also been helping in the search for Mark Kirks.

Last night and this morning, it is very cold in Waco and the surrounding area and that fact does not work in the favor of finding Mark Kirks safe and sound. However, miracle's happen in this world everyday and I will be hoping and praying for one in this case. Mr. Kirks is 5'10 and his weight is 160 pounds. A picture of Mr. Kirks can be found here on the Waco Tribune Herald website.

Mark is challenged in some ways, so it is very important that he is found and returned to his group home so he can be feed, cared for and continued on his medication. If you have any information about the whereabouts of Mark Kirks you are asked to contact the Waco PD Special Crimes Unit at 750-7500. Please be on the lookout for Mr. Kirks.

Title: Mark Kirks (42) Still Missing After December 6th Disappearance
Written: December 11, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Very Cold Weather In Waco Last Night/Today, Some Sleet Also

I got out for a while last night and did not wear a coat. Needless to say that was one stupid move on my part because it was very cold in Central Texas on Wednesday night. Last night, the TV weatherman said that we could wake up to temperatures around 25 degrees around 6 or 7am this morning. Wow, that is something we very seldom see in the Waco area even in the dead of winter in late January or early February.

As I have written before, I have dreamed of a White Christmas for a long time now - but most years there is little to no chance that snow will fall in Central Texas at Christmas time. It is more common to see people sitting outside on their porch after a big Christmas meal than to see them making snowmen while all bundled up in heavy coats and sweaters. However, the winter of 2008 is shaping up to be somewhat different here in Waco than in years past.

Tonight when I got home from my drive without a coat, I quickly went to the closet to find one to wear to work tomorrow. Upon pulling out my old coat, I noticed that it was in bad need of visit to the dry cleaners - so I guess I'll add that to my to do list tomorrow. On a serious note, the cold weather did remind me last night how fortunate I am to have a warm home to sleep in at night. Please remember that other people are not as fortunate and some children may not even have a coat to wear today. While economic times are tough for all of us right now, there are some people that are really in need and none of us should forget that.

Title: Very Cold Weather In Waco Last Night/Today, Some Sleet Also
Written: December 11, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Killeen Police Officer Jason Wright Dies In Drowning Accident

Judging from the tears of his coworkers, Killeen Police Officer Jason Wright was loved greatly by those he served with in the Killeen Texas police department. Sunday night, there was a story on the 10pm news in Waco about a man that was trying to make it to shore after his boat capsized. An onlooker tried to save him, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

Then yesterday the tragic news that the man who went underwater over the weekend at Stillhouse Hollow Lake was an off duty Killeen police officer. I did not personally know Officer Wright, but I am pretty good at reading the emotions of others and from the video I watched last night on KWTX Channel 10 - when his body was removed from the lake, it was crystal clear to me that Officer Wright was loved and respected by his coworkers.

For thousands of people in the Central Texas area, nothing is more fun than riding around in our boats and fishing. Many times I have found myself out at Lake Waco just fishing from the bank while waving to men and women in small boats as they pass by. The boating accident that took the life of Jason Wright will hopefully serve as an example to us all that while fishing and recreation boating is a fun sport, anytime we are in or on the water there is always a chance that something could go wrong.

Title: Killeen Police Officer Jason Wright Dies In Drowning Accident
Written: December 09, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best Hamburgers In Waco Are Found At Fuddruckers On Valley Mills Drive

If you ask the people that call Waco home where the best hamburgers in town are served, you will probably get three different answers. My favorite hamburgers are found at Fuddruckers on Valley Mills Dr. in Waco and the atmosphere is great there too.

Recently, my nephew went to work part-time at the Waco Fuddruckers and his presents there will cause me to eat there even more often that I usually do. While most restaurants that offer hamburgers in the Waco area do serve great meat, what I like the best at Fuddruckers are the numerous side selections that customers can add to their burger after it is cooked - free of charge.

Last night, my wife and I visited Fuddurckers once again and I ordered my usual selection of a hamburger, french fries and a peanut butter cookie. This time, however, I added many additional condiments to by hamburger, like fine sliced onions and tomatoes and a good helping of A-1 sauce instead of mustard. With dozens of new restaurant choices now available in the Waco area, it is important to not forget old time favorites that have been around for years - like Fuddruckers on Valley Mills.

Title: Best Hamburgers In Waco Are Found At Fuddruckers On Valley Mills Drive
Written: December 08, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Empty Stores Greet Few Waco/Central Texas Shoppers This Weekend

My wife came home from shopping about an hour ago and she told me that there were few people out and about at Waco retailers this morning. Considering this is the first weekend of December, most years local malls and retail locations like Walmart and Target in Waco would be packed with Christmas shoppers.

On 'Black Friday' stores in Waco and around the country were flooded with shoppers who showed up to buy extremely discounted products, which lead to a 3% increase in 'Black Friday' sales in 2008 versus 2007. When I first heard that fantastic news, I had hoped that the 2008 recession was not as bad in Waco as it seems to be in other areas of the country.

Now with 'Black Friday' a distant memory, it is possible that the rest of the 2008 Christmas shopping season could be a bleak one for Waco retailers. Of course, it is also possible that the shopping trip made by my wife this morning was just a case of shopping at the right time, when few other shoppers were out spending their money. In time we will see how the 2008 Christmas shopping season ends up in Waco. Right now my gut feeling tells me that all will not be well when the final numbers are calculated later this month.

Title: Empty Stores Greet Few Waco/Central Texas Shoppers This Weekend
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Bad Call By Officials Cost Midway Panthers Semi-Final Game?

Last night in one of the closest semi-final Texas high school football games ever, Longview defeated the Midway Panthers by the score of 43-42. The controversial call by officials came on the last play of the game when Longview went for two points after scoring a touchdown.

According to many people at the game and some very good pictures of that final play on the Waco Tribune Herald website, it appears that Midway stopped Longview before the football crossed the goal line. Unfortunately, there is not instant replay in high school football - so the sad fact is that the Midway Panthers had to return to Hewitt defeated, when in reality if that controversial call by the officials would have gone the other way - it would have given the Panthers another chance to win the game.

It is a difficult road to travel when any high school football team tries to win a Texas state championship game in any division. Right now, most of the players and fans of Midway are angry because they feel like they were cheated out of their chance at victory. However, over time - most players and fans will realize just how good their football team was this year and carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.

Title: Bad Call By Officials Cost Midway Panthers Semi-Final Game?
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Amazing Changes/Improvements To Downtown Waco Taking Place Right Now

As father time has caught up with me, I find that I travel to the downtown section of Waco less each and every year. Today, my wife and I decided to eat lunch at Ninfa's - so we took Valley Mills Drive down to Franklin and proceeded to their restaurant. Everything looked the same to us until we got close to the restaurant and then I was amazed at the massive construction that is taking place near the Waco City Hall and the Hilton Hotel.

Of course, like everyone else I have read about the massive Downtown Waco development projects currently underway - but until I saw the actual progress with my own two eyes, I had no idea how much was being done within those few short blocks that have pretty much remained abandoned since a tornado destroyed much of that part Downtown Waco back in the 1950's.

In addition to all of the new construction in Downtown Waco, there was even a great deal of road construction taking place there, as well. To say that I was impressed with the new look of the downtown section of Waco would be a huge understatement. Like many other Waco residents, I do not travel downtown that often anymore since most retail stores are located in the western part of the city these day. However, if you want to see some amazing community projects - travel downtown and just see how different it looks from this time last year.

Title: Amazing Changes/Improvements To Downtown Waco Taking Place Right Now
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Free Tuition For Low Income Texas A&M Freshman With Good GPA

About 100 miles to the southeast of Waco is the home of Texas A&M University in College Station. Recently, that major university offered what amounts to a fantastic opportunity for students that come from low income households. New freshman students who come from homes with family income below $30,000 per year will receive free tuition at Texas A&M if they maintain a GPA of at least 2.5.

When I first heard about this fantastic offer on last night's KCEN-TV Channel 6 late local news, I thought to myself that what Texas A&M was offering was one of the best collegiate opportunities for higher education that I had heard of in years. Not that long ago, Texas universities received a grade of F when it came to making higher education affordable within the state.

The United States of America has always been considered the land of opportunity and with this new program at Texas A&M University, they are going above and beyond what is expected of a great university like A&M in providing a chance for everyone to receive a college education despite their families financial means. What I like best about this program is that it only remains free, if the students participating in the program maintain a passing GPA.

Title: Free Tuition For Low Income Texas A&M Freshman With Good GPA
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

La Vega Pirates Offer Last Chance For A Waco Area Texas State Championship

Last night the Midway Panthers of Woodway, Hewitt and West Waco lost in an over time game to Longview by one point. Now there is only one football team, the La Vega Pirates, that can bring a Texas State Championship win back to the residents of the Waco area. Only a few weeks ago - China Spring, La Vega, Midway and the Waco High Lions were all on their way toward a statewide victory.

Now with one more week left in the Texas high school playoffs, only the La Vega Pirates from Bellmead Texas have a chance to 'bring home the bacon', to Waco area high school football fans. There were so many surprised in the 2008 high school playoffs and while most people expected China Spring and La Vega to do well, almost no one - early in the season, expected the Midway Panthers to progress to the semi final game.

By the time Texas high school football reaches this stage of the season, most Waco residents are pulling for the remaining local team that has a chance to win a state championship. In 2008, that team is the La Vega Pirates and I hope everyone that calls the Waco area home will get behind this fantastic football team which has an excellent chance to win a state title next weekend.

P.S. I also want to acknowledge the successful season which ended with a second state championship victory in the TAPPS division for the Reicher Cougars. Well done!

Title: La Vega Pirates Offer Last Chance For A Waco Area Texas State Championship
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

2009 Waco Employment Market Could Be Tough For Job Seekers

I attended a Christmas party today and unlike last year, most of the people at this party were in a pretty sour mood. While no one was rude and thankfully no one drank more alcohol they they should have, most people at this Christmas party seemed emotionally down.

While everyone at today's Christmas party was gainfully employed, I believe that there is a certain negativeness in the local Waco economy that is causing many people to become depressed this holiday season. Everyday, it is impossible to watch the local or national news on television without witnessing first hand what the slowing economy is doing to families nationwide.

Even when a person has a good job during tough economic times, there is little joy in their hearts because so many other people are not as fortunate as they are. In 2009, most local experts believe that the employment/jobs market in the Waco area will begin to suffer like what has been the case in other areas of the country and with news like that being spread everywhere these days, it's no wonder that Christmas cheer is in short supply this holiday season.

Title: 2009 Waco Employment Market Could Be Tough For Job Seekers
Written: December 07, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Saturday, December 6, 2008

KWTX/KCEN/KXXV DTV Switch Over Announcement Burn Out

First let me say that the television conversion to DTV is a big deal and if people do not receive their signal from cable or satellite they are going to lose TV reception in February. However, the number of commercials and on air announcements that are being run by local television stations KWTX, KXXV and KCEN have become over kill and most people I know have grown tired of hearing the same announcements over and over for the past year.

Within the past thirty years, over the air broadcast television has pretty much disappeared. With the tremendous growth of cable and satellite television, most Waco and Central Texas residents no longer receive local television signals via a roof top antenna or rabbit ears. However, judging by the hundreds of commercial announcements currently being run on local television - many people would assume that most residents still watch TV the old fashion way via an antenna.

While it is understandable that Waco's big three television stations would be concerned with the loss of any viewership come February, the fact that they are advertising this nationwide DTV change so frequently could be leading some viewers to tune out of the message entirely because of excessive repetition.

Title: KWTX/KCEN/KXXV DTV Switch Over Announcement Burn Out
Written: December 06, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

La Vega Pirates Give Central Texans A Chance For A State Football Title

Update 12/06/08: La Vega Defeats Cuero by the score of 41-21. La Vega plays for a state championship title next week.

There are two very important high school football playoff games being played later today. The first one between the Midway and Longview I wrote about yesterday. The other major high school playoff football game is between La Vega and Cuero and it too should also be a good Texas high school playoff match-up.

This is the second year in a row when La Vega High School which is located in Bellmead, Texas just outside of Waco is competing in Texas school boy playoff football. Today, I learned that a coworker of mine has a grandson that attends La Vega High School and she was none to shy about telling me how much she was looking forward to this weekends playoff game.

Hopefully, between the La Vega Pirates and the Midway Panthers - the thousands of people that call the Waco area home will have a local team that brings that most prestigious State Championship in football trophy back to our area of Texas. Make no mistake, both Midway and La Vega have their work cut out for them later today because no team travels this far in the playoffs without being one heck of a good football team.

Title: La Vega Pirates Give Central Texans A Chance For A State Football Title
Written: December 06, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Megan Lewis Grant Convicted For The Murder Of Her Husband

UPDATE 12/06/2008: Megan Lewis Grant Was Sentenced To Life In Prison Today. She must serve 30 years before she is eligible for parole.

In a story that will most likely be profiled on the CBS television show '48 Hours' at some future date, Megan Lewis Grant was convicted yesterday in a Gatesville, Texas court room for soliciting her boyfriend and son to kill her husband. Until the end, Megan Lewis has maintained the she is innocent - but with a mountain of evidence stacked against her, yesterday's guilty verdict was expected by most Central Texas residents.

Later today, the same jury that convicted Megan Lewis Grant of murder yesterday - will begin to deliberate her prison sentence which could be anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison. There is something very special and completely different between a murder trial in a small town like Gatesville, Texas and one that is held in a major city like Dallas or Los Angeles.

A high profile murder trial with massive media publicity in a large city can often times last for several months. However, whether it be right or wrong - justice is very swift in a small community where a murder trial only lasts a matter of days instead of months and also the jury deliberation for the punishment phase of a small town murder trial usually begins the next day after a murder conviction.

Title: Megan Lewis Grant Convicted For The Murder Of Her Husband
Written: December 06, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Friday, December 5, 2008

Heavy Local Traffic As Shoppers Look For Christmas Deals

I know that thousands of residents of Waco love to shop, but I am not one of them. When I travel to a store to buy something, I usually know what I want and how much I am willing to pay before I leave home. December always bring with it a bunch of extra traffic on Waco streets and highways and all that extra traffic leads to delays.

Maybe it is just because I do not like shopping that much that I start to dread the holiday season because of the crazy drivers and backed up traffic at intersections and even at fast food drive-thru windows. Last night, all I wanted to do was visit McDonald's for a cheap hamburger and fries - but that small trip took a lot longer than usual because the drive-thru lane was packed with Christmas shoppers.

The good news is that I was fortunate enough to marry a woman that loves to shop and also she is a person that does not mind waiting when it comes to long lines at stores. Sometimes I think my negative attitude about heavy traffic and long lines at stores during Christmas time is just a 'guy thing', because most of my friends do not like waiting in line to buy stuff either.

Title: Heavy Local Traffic As Shoppers Look For Christmas Deals
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Christopher Heath Moves From KWTX To KENS San Antonio

For awhile now, thousands of Central Texas residents have watched Channel 10 weekend news anchor Christopher Heath, but soon he will be moving up in the world as he takes the job of weekend anchor at KENS TV in San Antonio.

My wife and I have enjoyed watching Christopher Heath anchor the weekend news at KWTX-10 and we will miss watching him on Saturday and Sunday nights. Many other Waco Channel 10 reporters and anchor's have move from Central Texas to San Antonio's KENS over the years because from a career standpoint, the better paying television news jobs are usually found in larger cities.

According to Christopher Heath's KWTX-10 blog, Stephanie Franks will be taking his place as weekend anchor at Channel 10. While I'm sure that she will do a great job in reporting the news in and around Waco on the weekend, there will be many Central Texas residents that will miss Christopher Heath's regular weekend appearances on the late local news.

Title: Christopher Heath Moves From KWTX To KENS San Antonio
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Fred/Slaughterhouse Waco Comments Are Funny But Getting Old

It is common to hear people talking, around the Waco area, about 'Slaughterhouse Waco Fred'. This unknown guy, or at least I think he is male, is a regular commentator to most stories that are published online at the Waco Tribune Herald. As most folks can guess from his name and his trademark Slaughterhouse Waco references that he uses in every post, Fred is very negative about Waco and the people that live here.

The other day, when I was reading another negative comment from Fred on the Trib website - I began to think to myself about what a wonderful tool he is for the Waco Tribune Herald website because he (Fred) knows exactly what to say and how to say it to get other people to comment on what he says there. If fact, on most days - more people comment about Fred's comments than the actual story that was published.

My personal opinion is that Slaughterhouse Waco Fred could very well be someone that works at the Waco Tribune Herald who's job it is to reply in a negative way to positive Waco stories that the paper publishes. While there are many negative and pessimistic people that live in Waco, it is hard to believe than anyone is really as negative as Slaughterhouse Waco Fred - except the unfortunate few that call the DePaul Center home.

Title: Fred/Slaughterhouse Waco Comments Are Funny But Getting Old
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Midway/Longview Battle At Texas Stadium Tomorrow

Update 12/06/2008: Final Score (OT) - Midway 42 Longview 43

When the 2008 high school football season started, few people expected the Midway Panthers to still be playing football as the middle of December approached. However, as many other Central Texas football teams like China Spring have already finished their season due to losing a playoff game, the Midway Panthers are still alive and they will play Longview at Texas Stadium in Irving tomorrow.

Since the Midway Panthers are playing at the home of the Dallas Cowboys tomorrow night at 8pm, let me just say that the Panthers 2008 football season looks very similar to the Dallas Cowboys this year as well. The best way for a high school football team or a professional one like Dallas to win a state championship or Superbowl is to peak at the end of their season and not at the beginning.

The Midway Independent School District which is made up of students from several local communities like Hewitt, Woodway and parts of West Waco has been known for it's high academic standards for a long time now - but as most folks know, here in Central Texas the only thing most people really care about when talking about local high schools revolves around the talent they have on their football team.

Title: Midway/Longview Battle At Texas Stadium Tomorrow
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Temon Roark, Jr/Malcolm Howard Both Killed In Crawford Truck Accident

Two Waco men were killed early Thursday morning near Crawford when their truck was involved in a single vehicle accident on FM 185. Temon Roark, Jr and Malcom Howard - both of Waco, were pronounced dead at the scene. According to police reports, the driver of the truck (Roark, Jr.) drifted off the road to the right and then over correct the the left which caused his truck to overturn.

Over the years, I too have traveled down FM 185. This narrow two lane road is usually very safe, but there have been accidents over the years. Like many other people, the Christmas holiday season causes me to become emotional about preventable deaths like this one that took the lives of two Waco residents.

While large 18-wheeler trucks are necessary for the transportation of the products we use everyday, when one of these massive vehicles over turns or collides with a small car - the consequences are often times fatal to the people involved. My condolences go out to the families of Temon Roark, Jr and Malcom Howard during this sad time in their lives.

Title: Temon Roark, Jr/Malcolm Howard Both Killed In Crawford Truck Accident
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Another Cold December Weather Day In Central Texas

On Wednesday afternoon, a cold front blew into the Waco area and turned a beautiful day into what most people expect, weather wise, in December. Even though the weather has been cold the past couple of days here in Waco, it has not been so bad that I did not want to get outside and enjoy it.

To me, the worst part of living in Central Texas are the long hot days of summer that many times reach high temperatures in July and August of over 105 degrees. It is much easier to stay warm in the winter time in Waco than it is to remain cool in the summer. I have often joked with friends by saying that the weather in Waco is the most extreme between seasons than anywhere else in the United States.

Like many local residents, I hope each year for a White Christmas and each year I am disappointed when we don't get one here in Waco. The last time I remember really bad winter weather during the holiday season was several decades ago when it came a huge ice storm in Waco and all across Central and North Central Texas on Thanksgiving Day. Now that was a day for the history books.

Title: Another Cold December Weather Day In Central Texas
Written: December 05, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Central Texas Automobile Dealerships Could Close Soon

As the CEO's of the 'Big Three' automobile companies continue their testimony before Congress in Washington, one fact of their survival plan that is being ignore by most members of the mainstream news media is that each of these companies is pledging to close hundreds of dealerships around the country. Most certainly, some of those dealerships will be in small Central Texas towns where job losses will be difficult to replace.

Just a few days ago, Country Ford in Gatesville closed their doors and I expect more Waco area automobile dealerships will close as well due to the bad economy and now also because of the 'Big Three' CEO's pledge to Congress to shutdown even more of their dealership operations.

When most people drive by an automobile dealership, they do not think how many people are actually employed there. In addition to the administrative and sales staff, there are usually dozens of men and women employed in the parts and service departments along with a dozen more in the dealerships body shop. When an automobile dealership closes in a small Central Texas town, there is more lost than just the convenience of having a car dealership in that community.

Title: Central Texas Automobile Dealerships Could Close Soon
Written: December 04, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December Cold Front Slams (Waco) Central Texas Today

That old saying that goes something like this: 'if you don't like the weather in Waco, wait 15 minutes and it will change' was so true today as a warm morning turned into a cold afternoon and night on the 3rd day of December. Actually, when I left my home this afternoon about 2pm - I was dressed in short sleeves without a clue that within a couple of hours the temperatures here in Central Texas would drop dramatically.

Tonight, when I went outside again - I was shocked at how cold it was compared to the temperature at 2pm this afternoon. To me, it is the strong winds that traveled along with this cold front when it blew into Waco today that make it miserable outside. I have never been a fan of cold weather, but it is bearable to me if there are no strong winds.

Tonight, I am looking through my closet for a coat to wear tomorrow. During most winters, I do not wear my coat that often because these Waco cold fronts do not last that long. On a funny note, my wife dressed our two dogs up in sweaters today for their walks and just like human beings who seem proud when wearing new cloths, our dogs looked like they were on top of the world as they went outside to do their business.

Title: December Cold Front Slams (Waco) Central Texas Today
Written: December 03, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Recession Effects Small Towns More Than Larger Cities

To the west of Waco, there is a small town called Gatesville. I have visited there many times and I have found the residents that call this small Central Texas community home to be some of the most friendly people in the world. That is why it saddened me when I heard the news that two Gatesville, Tx businesses had recently closed their doors for good. While it is never good when a business fails, it is especially bad when one fails in a small town.

Country Ford and Mex-Taco Express, in Gatesville, were both closed by their owners within the past week. As Christmas Day, 2008, approaches - many residents of Waco and some of the smaller towns and cities close by are welcoming an invited guest to their holiday season, that unwelcome visitor is called stress. In a small town like Gatesville, when two employers close down within a period of one week - the financial effect is devastating to the entire community.

On a positive note, years ago, the State of Texas built huge prison facilities in Gatesville that provide an additional source of income for residents that live there. However, the loss of an automobile dealership is a big blow in a different way to a small city like Gatesville. Not only do automobile dealership provide employment for dozens of people, but when they close due to financial hardship - they generally do not reopen in the future under new ownership.

Title: Recession Effects Small Towns More Than Larger Cities
Written: December 03, 2008
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2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bush Retirement Plan, Weekdays In Dallas Followed By Weekends At Crawford Ranch

First Lady Laura Bush told 'Meet The Press' today that once she and George W. leave the White House on January 20th, they will spend weekdays at their new home in Dallas while their weekends will be spent at the Crawford Ranch. The President George W. Bush Crawford, Texas Ranch became famous during his eight years as President of the United States.

It came as a surprise to some people that George W. and Laura Bush would not call their Crawford Ranch home when they leave the White House. However, considering that Laura Bush likes to stay in contact with friends - Dallas seems more like the kind of place she would feel at home. To me, the two home idea sounds like a compromise that all married couples make from time to time.

President George W. Bush has gone from one of the most popular Presidents in our nations history to one of the least loved over his eight year tenure as the 43rd President of the United States. Soon, George W. Bush will no longer be the President of the United States - but instead only one of many former Presidents that must find something positive to do with their time. For the first few years, President Bush will have preparations and construction plans to work through for his presidential library in Dallas - but my guess is that he will always feel more at home on the ranch than in a busy city like Dallas.

Title: Bush Retirement Plan, Weekdays In Dallas Followed By Weekends At Crawford Ranch
Written: November 30, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Pedestrian Killed When He Stepped In Front Of A Car At 16th/Waco Drive

Early Saturday morning, a man was killed at 16th and Waco Drive when he step off a curb and was hit by a car. Not far away from this location, another man was killed a few weeks earlier when his motorcycle struck a car. To me, it seems like it is getting very dangerous to drive or even walk close to Waco Drive.

In the Central Texas area, few streets are as congested as Valley Mills and Waco Drive. To me, the traffic congestion seems to be getting worse every single year - but the number of deaths on these two major Waco streets involving pedestrians seems to be growing. Like thousands of other people in Waco, I travel down Waco Drive almost every single day.

I have often wondered if some of these pedestrians who are being killed by drivers on some of the busiest streets in Waco, might not be deciding to commit suicide by stepping in front of a vehicle? We have all heard of the term suicide by cop and it is well documented that depressed people will sometimes try to force police officers to kill them. Could this new trend of pedestrians being stuck and killed by cars in the Waco area be another way for depressed people to take their own lives?

Title: Pedestrian Killed When He Stepped In Front Of A Car At 16th/Waco Drive
Written: November 30, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heavy Traffic/Accidents On I-35 Today As Holiday Travelers Return Home

Without really realizing how much traffic would be on I-35 today, my wife and I traveled from our Waco home to Lorena Texas to eat at one of our favorite restaurants - Raymond's Southern Kitchen. As soon as I entered I-35 south for the short drive from Waco to Lorena, I knew that traffic was going to be bad and after only driving about one mile I saw an accident in the north bound lane that had traffic backed up for miles near Hewitt.

Fortunately, we arrived at the restaurant without any major delays or even more importantly not getting involved in an accident ourselves. While I knew that this was Thanksgiving weekend, I had no idea that traffic on I-35 was going to be this busy on a Saturday afternoon. Usually, the mad rush to return home after a long Thanksgiving weekend takes place on Sunday afternoon and night.

I certainly feel bad for people that must use I-35 between San Antonio and Dallas to make their way back home this Thanksgiving weekend. All I can say is, expect long delays and frequent accidents along your way home. If this afternoons traffic is any example of what a person could expect tomorrow, leave early and take your time getting home because there will be many areas of I-35 that will slow to a crawl because of the never ending construction work taking place on Interstate 35.

Title: Heavy Traffic/Accidents On I-35 Today As Holiday Travelers Return Home
Written: November 29, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Temple Still Has Bicycle Police Patrols, What Happened To Officers On Bikes Here In Waco?

Maybe there are still police officers in Waco patrolling on bicycles, but if there are I have not seen them in a long time. Years ago, I remember visiting downtown concerts at which time I saw Waco PD officers patrolling downtown as they weaved in and out of streets and sidewalks with ease. However, it seems like years since I saw a Waco Police Officer riding a bicycle anywhere in town.

Last night on the local news, I saw a group of Temple, Tx police officers climbing on bicyles to help with crime as thousands of shoppers headed to retail shops around that community. That is when I started thinking about the fact that I had not seen any Waco PD officers patrolling the streets of Waco on bicycles in a long time.

From my point of view, it would be much easier for a police officer to interact with the citizens they are charged with protecting if they were on a bicycle rather than riding in a 3,000 pound car. When I use to see Waco Police officers downtown, I felt safer just knowing that they were around and that they could ride up at any moment, on their bicycles, if something was not right. I sure miss seeing them around and maybe someone will comment as to why there are few or no Waco PD officers on bicycles patrolling the streets of Waco anymore?

Title: Temple Still Has Bicycle Police Patrols, What Happened To Officers On Bikes Here In Waco?
Written: November 29, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

University Credit Union In Waco Was Robbed On Friday Afternoon

It was not a happy Friday for employees at the University Credit Union in Waco when a black young man stop by to rob that institution. Not only were employees of this credit union shaken up by this mid afternoon robbery, but there were are least half a dozen customers in the credit union as well when it was held up.

Over the years, banks and credit unions in the Waco area have found themselves under attack by criminals who are looking to score some free cash at the expense of others. A little over a year ago, people that I know who worked at the Independent Bank in Elm Mott were robbed on two different occasions in a period of only a few months time and each and everyone one of those employees at that bank never seemed quite the same after they had a gun pointed at them.

No arrest has been made yet in the University Credit Union robbery on Friday, but there is a good picture of the man who robbed that credit union and my guess is that someone will come forward soon and help lead police to his location. Yesterday's credit union robbery in Waco should be a warning sign for us all to be extra careful this Christmas shopping season because there are people out there who are looking for happy go luck folks just enjoying the holiday's to take advantage of.

Title: University Credit Union In Waco Was Robbed On Friday Afternoon
Written: November 29, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Is Over In Waco, Large Crowds Show Up At Most Central Texas Stores

At most major retail stores in Waco, there were large crowds today as 'Black Friday' made it's annual appearance. While there were thousands of people shopping at local stores like Walmart, Target and Dillards - it is still too early to know for sure if local shoppers spent more money on 'Black Friday' 2008 as they spent last year. Conventional wisdom is suggesting that the 2008 Christmas shopping season will be bleak for many local retailers as major companies in the area are either discussing layoffs or worse, closing down all together.

Simply judging by the high volume of traffic I saw today on Valley Mills Drive, there were most certainly thousands of people visiting Waco retailers in search of that perfect Christmas gift. Unlike previous years, some major retail chains are offering great deals already on popular Christmas items like HDTV sets and what are usually hard to find toys and games.

Like all previous years, I wanted to be anywhere but in a Waco retail store on 'Black Friday'. I have never been a person that likes to shop in the first place and when you add crowded stores and full parking lots to that mix - I would have no fun at all shopping on a day like today, even if the prices of gifts were really low. I guess it's good that I have a wife that likes to shop and big crowds don't seem to bother her if there is a deal to be found somewhere inside a store.

Title: Black Friday Is Over In Waco, Large Crowds Show Up At Most Central Texas Stores
Written: November 28, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toys For Tots Waco Deadline Nears, Last Year Almost 80,000 Kids Were Helped

The first week of December is the deadline for people to register children to receive a gift this Christmas from Toys for Tots in Waco. In 2007, almost 80,000 toys were distributed to children in the Waco area and this charities chief sponsor, the US Marine Corp, is hoping to help even more children this year.

Every holiday season, my wife and I try to give a gift to Toys for Tots and we are not alone. Central Texas residents are always generous when it comes to helping out kids that find themselves in the a holiday season, living with a parent or parents that are having a difficult time making ends meet.

Remember that the deadline for registering a child to receive a gift from Toys for Tots is next week. On another subject, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and I just wanted to express my heart felt wish that all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your friends and family. Even in tough economic times and with our nation still fighting wars on two fronts, there are ample blessings we all have which sometimes we don't even realize because of our busy lifestyles. I have so much to be thankful for and God has truly blessed me with more than I deserve.

Title: Toys For Tots Waco Deadline Nears, Last Year Almost 80,000 Kids Were Helped
Written: November 26, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Layaway Shopping Makes A Come Back In Waco/Central Texas Stores This Christmas

For people under the age of 40, the term 'layaway shopping' might be something they have never heard of, but for older folks like me - buying cloths and other gifts for Christmas, in days gone by, sometimes involved using layaway to obtain needed products or as a means to an end to get the presents we wanted to give for Christmas.

The recession of 2008 has brought back the long lost practice of retail businesses offering layaway and my guess is that additional stores will do so as well, as Christmas draws closer. What caused the death of layaway around 40 years ago was the easy access to credit offered by major department stores and major credit card companies like Mastercard and Visa. However, in 2008 - there is a major credit crisis evolving in the US, which means that new or extended credit terms are few and far in between this Christmas.

There has been too much easy credit available in the world today which has lead Waco citizens and folks around the country to not save money or put major purchases into layaway before buying them. In years past, all most people needed to do was show up at a retail store - pick out what they wanted to buy and within minutes they were given instant credit to buy that item and take it home with them. Everyone knew that easy credit would get Americans into trouble someday, but hardly anyone knew those problems would happen so fast and with so much negative economic consequences.

Title: Layaway Shopping Makes A Come Back In Waco/Central Texas Stores This Christmas
Written: November 25, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Baylor Expansion Plans Could Be Put On Hold Because Of The Bad US Economy

Anyone that lives in the Waco area has noticed the massive expansion that has taken place at Baylor University over the past five to ten years and most certainly there are additional building and academic goals that Baylor would like to see accomplished as soon as possible. That said, the recession of 2008 will hurt Baylor in the same way it has hurt other major Universities and businesses, which means that some of the proposed expansion plans for the Waco Baylor campus may need to be put on hold until the US economy turns around to the plus side.

It is hard not to be impressed with the new buildings that make up the Waco Baylor University campus, but the truth is that most of those new and impressive structures are being financed by Baylor supporters and alumni with large cash contributions to the University. In a slowing and recessionary US economy, there will be less money available for big contributors to give to Baylor and that is just the start of the problems that will face Baylor in the near future.

Another huge problem facing Baylor University over the next couple of years will be it's high tuition costs compared to public institution of higher education that are partially financed by Texas taxpayers. The recession of 2008 is flowing from the top down, rather than from the bottom up like previous ones. As we have all seen, the biggest pain faced so far in the recession of 2008 is being felt by rich Wall Street companies and banks, which have as their employees many previous Baylor University graduates that will not be able to support their alma matar the way they have done in the past.

Title: Baylor Expansion Plans Could Be Put On Hold Because Of The Bad US Economy
Written: November 25, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat