Sunday, December 27, 2009

Will Preacher Matt Baker Be Convicted Of Killing His Wife?

“Will preacher Matt Baker be convicted of killing his wife?” From my point of view the answer is no, but when you put adultery into the mix of a Waco, Texas murder trial – anything is possible. While Matt Baker has denied killing his wife and also having an extramarital affair with a member of his congregation before his wife's death, I believe most Waco residents believe that he did cheat on his wife, Kari – but most people are not convinced that he was responsible for her death. Here in the Heart of Texas (HOT) there are many people who will not find it difficult to believe that if Matt Baker cheated on his wife Kari, that he must have also murdered her too.

I have kept up with this case for years in the local newspaper (Waco Tribune Herald) and to date, I do not see any smoking gun evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Matt Baker murdered his wife. Instead, I find it easier to believe that his ridiculous time table of what happened the night his wife died was likely caused by him not wanting to admit that he was out seeing another woman – while his wife Kari was at home committing suicide. This whole murder Matt Baker murder trial has been pushed by Kari's family, because they truly believe that Matt Baker killed his wife. In my view, their strong belief that Matt Baker murdered Kari - is much easier for them to accept than the possibility that someone they loved decided to take her own life.

As the murder trial of Matt Baker starts soon, I am going into it with an open mind and if the prosecution is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Matt Baker did indeed murder his wife, then I will most certainly change my opinion about this case. However, with just a few weeks to go before Baker goes on trial for murder here in Waco – the evidence still looks extremely weak when it comes to convicting him of the murder of his wife. In addition to keeping up with this case via the Waco Tribune Herald, I have also watched the various specials that have been presented by the CBS News program “48 Hours” about this case. As the Waco trial date of Matt Baker approaches, “48 Hours” and other members of the national mainstream news media will once again take a special interest in following this case.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Will Recession Effect Waco Area In 2010?

“Will recession effect Waco area in 2010?” The answer is probably yes. For some strange reason, Waco tends to run behind the rest of the country when it comes to economic trends. For the past six months, the economy in Waco has remained pretty strong – while in other cities around the United States, people have been losing jobs at an alarming rate. I first moved to the Waco area back in 1983 and ever since that time I have found that not only do the attitudes and the opinions of most Waco resident differ from those of people in other communities, but also when it comes to hard-times and recession – the Waco area is usually the last to enter them and it is also the last area of the country to recover as well.

I have always thought of this delayed reaction trend in Waco as a great way to keep up with what is coming next, as it relates to the U.S. economy. Unlike the major cities of New York, Los Angeles or even Dallas – Waco seems to always keep moving along at a steady pace and when bad economic times do hit the United States of America, most Waco residents received a wake up call months before bad economic times even start to hit our area. Sadly, what was good for Waco in 2009 – will likely be a huge negative in 2010 as the bad economy that has effected other cities around the United States for the past six months, will finally settle in and negatively effect Waco citizens at the exact same time when all of those other cities are moving toward an economic recovery. In Waco, I think we need to all prepare for some pretty tough financial times in 2010. I hope that will not happen, but if history is any guide – Waco citizens will see a major recession hit our city within the next six months.

For me, I hope to just ride out the upcoming local financial storm with the same patience that other Americans have used for the better part of 2009 as their cities struggled through some pretty tough economic times and unemployment numbers. I love living in Waco and the fact that our economy does not run at the same fast pace as many other much larger cities is something I wear like a badge of honor. There is nothing wrong with Waco taking it's time before it buys on to all the new stuff going on around the world. That attitude has kept most Waco businesses solvent the past year and a half and it is also the reason why Waco residents will come out of the other end of this latest economic recession as a stronger city than when we went into it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is 135 Prime Waco Restaurant Good For Parties?

“Is 135 Prime Waco restaurant good for parties?” From my point of view, the answer is yes. About one week ago, my company held our annual Christmas Party at 135 Prime – located at 1201 Hewitt Drive in Waco and I think everyone had a really good time. Many of the people that I work with usually eat at either fast food restaurants in the Waco area or if they go out for sit down dinner they choose a place that serves family style food. For Waco, 135 Prime is an extra nice restaurant - where a nice lady greets you at the door and asked about your reservation. That was the first clue to me that “135 Prime Waco” was not going be like most eating establishments in this area.

After my wife and I were greeted at the front door, we were escorted to the back of the restaurant to a special room that was reserved for our party. It was easy to see, as we made our way back to the room where our Christmas Party was being held, that 135 Prime was not like most restaurants we usually visit in the Waco area. In fact, before it was closed several years ago – my company regularly held our annual Christmas Party at the Waco Northwood Inn. My wife and I enjoyed that restaurant and we were sad when it closed. After entering our party room at 135 Prime, we were seated at a table that was decorated nicely and we sat in very comfortable white backed chairs – which we also thought was a nice touch. Our Christmas Party, at 135 Prime in Waco, was held in the “Audrey Hepburn Room” - which I believe is the largest party room available there.

As my wife and I made our way back to the room where my Christmas Party was being held, we were able to see other diners that were visiting 135 Prime Waco - who were seated in the main restaurant section. I must say, that I felt a little bit under-dressed when I first walked into this restaurant. As we made our way back to the Audrey Hepburn room at 135 Prime, I remember thinking in the back of my mind that I should have maybe worn a tie or at least a black jacket before going to such a nice restaurant? However, it was good to see other Waco residents eating in their main restaurant area - who were not dressed up in their Sunday best either, even on a Saturday night - just a couple of weeks before Christmas. As far as the food and service goes at 135 Prime Waco, I would just say that – for me - there was nothing at this restaurant disappointing and if you are searching for the perfect place for a company party or an intimate date, 135 Prime Waco is the perfect location for you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Best Dentist In Waco, Texas - Dr. Daniel R. Davis DDS

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Purely by accident I have discovered the best dentist in Waco, Texas. His name is Dr. Daniel R. Davis and his office is located at 1215 Lake Air Drive. Before I get into the reasons why I believe Dr. Davis is the best dentist in Waco, let me give you a little background information on my previous experiences with some members of the dental profession. As a young boy, I remember on more than one occasion being hurt badly by a dentist. Those negative experiences caused me to put off needed dental work in my early adult years – because I did not want to suffer through weeks of pain after a dentist messed something up.

As I got older, it became necessary for me to locate a dentist to try and repair years worth of needed work brought on by my bad dentist experiences as a young man. I first met Dr. Daniel Davis a couple of years ago when I needed to have a bad tooth pulled. I remember being nervous when I first went to his office, but when I left – I remember saying to myself that going to the dentist does not have to be a painful and negative experience. For dental pain phobics, like myself, nothing will cure a decades long fear of bad dentists quicker than a really good one and in Waco, Texas – Dr. Daniel R. Davis is a really good dentist.

On my first trip to the office of Dr. Davis DDS, there was another surprising thing that happened. Like many other people who visit the dentist and also have dental insurance, I did not know exactly what I should personally pay for an office visit. Since most dental insurance programs have a $50 deductible, the lady that took my money after that tooth extraction charged me $50. However, three weeks later - I was completely amazed when Dr. Davis sent me a check for $30 – because my insurance company paid more than was expected. Some of you might think that Dr. Davis just did what he was suppose to do in quickly refunding my money. However, I consider the fact that he quickly refunded my overpayment a really strong positive in his personal character.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting Waco's best dentist on several more occasions. This time, my visits will include a root canal and a crown. Earlier this week, I visited Dr. Davis' office for the first step in my root canal process and later that day he did something for me that has not happened in years. Several hours after I went through the first office visit for my root canal, Dr. Davis personally picked up the telephone to check and see how I was doing. I was not at home when he called, but he put a very nice voice mail message on my answering machine. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time a doctor personally called me at home to see how I was doing. If you live anywhere in the Waco area and you are in search of a great dentist with a boat load of experience and a kind heart - you should pick up the telephone and call Dr. Daniel R. Davis DDS.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

HOT Fair Arrives With Rainy Weather

So far, the organizers of the 2009 Heart of Texas Fair (HOT) in Waco cannot be pleased with the weather. For most of this past weekend, there was a slow rain in the Waco area that more than likely hurt attendance at our annual fair. Ever since I moved to Waco back in the early 1980's, I learned right away that thousands of Central Texas residents love the HOT fair and many of them go deeply into debt each year just to show the family a good time during fair week. Over the first decade that I called Waco home, my wife and I visited the fair each and every year - but as we aged, we lost interest in attending the Heart of Texas Fair.

Most businesses in and around Waco do not like fair week because most of the spending money in the pockets of local consumers are spent on the HOT fairgrounds rather than in local businesses. At the top of the list of local businesses that are hurt the worst during the HOT fair each year are restaurants. Rather than Waco residents eating out at their favorite place, instead they just eat when they get to the Heart of Texas Fairgrounds. While restaurants usually hurt the most during HOT fair week, most other businesses also report lower sales both in the weeks before, during and after the annual Heart of Texas fair.

In contrast to local businesses, the people that organize and run the Heart of Texas Fair earn a tremendous amount of money during HOT fair week - which helps them to be able to financial afford to maintain the fairgrounds for other less profitable entertainment throughout the rest of the year. When I think back to when attending the HOT fair was the most fun for my wife and I, it was during the time when we had a young child that loved to go out to the fairgrounds to eat a bunch of cotton candy and get on the various rides that show up each year in the carnival section. Once my little girl grew up and did not enjoy attending the HOT fair in the same way she did as a child, the fun and excitement for me went away as well.

While I use to enjoy walking around and looking at the various exhibits at the fair, there are other folks in the Waco area that just love to watch the rodeo. Watching young men almost kill themselves on the back of a wild bull or horse has never been that entertaining to me. However, Central Texas is filled with both men and women that love to watch the rodeo and for many of them the closest they will ever come to watching a rodeo live and in person is at the Waco Heart of Texas Fair each fall. Hopefully, the rain will go away this week - which will allow more people to get out of the house and travel to the 2009 HOT fair and rodeo in Waco. That is if attending the Heat of Texas Fair is your personal cup of tea.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Waco School Counselors Help Students

Yesterday, I wrote about the senseless death of a kindergartner at school here in Waco when a large bookshelf or cabinet fell on her. Five year old Princanna Strain was pronounced dead at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center after doctors and EMS personnel work in vein to save her young life. Counselors from throughout the Waco ISD were rushed to Princanna Strain's school this morning to try and help all those kids understand why Princanna would not be in school anymore. Even at work today, almost everyone had an opinion on the death of Princanna and they also freely expressed whether the Waco ISD should be sued for her wrongful death.

In the end, it is not going to matter whether or not the Waco ISD should be sued for the wrongful death of Princanna Strain. Down deep inside we all know that Princanna's relatives will soon seek out a lawyer and a lawsuit against the Waco ISD will be filed. In a strange sort of way, the death of Princanna Strain is a classic case example of why there should not be tort reform in the United States. However, even when there is a case where someone should have known better at the school she attended - I still get a bad feeling in my gut when we the taxpayers get sued, because the representatives that run our schools for us act in a negligent way.

There will be plenty of time for lawsuits in the future and I may write about a potential lawsuit against the Waco ISD if/when it is filed. Right now, I would like to focus on the counselors that are showing up at Princanna Strain's school to try and help her classmates make sense out of her death yesterday. Here in Waco, there are still some folks who refuse to accept that mental health counseling can and does help people of all ages that suffer through a bad trauma. I know that attitude far to well as I remember my father always telling me not to blame my problems on others and he also told me just to suck up bad news and just move on. His advice has severed me well over the years, but in a case like this one - something from a mental health standpoint should be tried to help these five and six year old kids.

I tip my hat to the men and women who will travel to Princanna Strain's school over the next few weeks. I cannot image the problems that will face them as five and six year old children open up about the sudden and tragic death of their classmate. Over my 50 years on this Earth, I have learned to temper my fathers words to suck it up, with more mainstream thinking that there is a time and a place for everyone to express their feeling about what bothers them. Like the kindergartners who faced the stark reality of how unfair life is yesterday when their classmate Princanna Strain was suddenly killed at school, all of us can remember a time and a place in our own lives when we also discovered that there was more to life than just good times. The counselors who will help the students that knew Princanna Strain as a friend, most certainly will have to work hard to help some of Waco's youngest citizens to understand why Princanna will not be joining them at school anymore.

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Princanna Strain Dies At Waco School

In one of the worst school accidents in years, five year old Princanna Strain was killed yesterday while she was attending kindergarten at J.H. Hines Elementary School in Waco. Ms. Strain's death is still under investigation, but what we do know now is that she was climbing on a wooden cabinet and after being told to get down by her teacher - that cabinet fell on her and caused her death. Tonight, when I returned from work to learn about Princanna Strain's death on the late local news - my heart was very troubled because of this senseless loss of a young life. No parent expects their kindergarten aged child to be killed at school because of a senseless accident, but far too often - freak accidents do cause of death of youngsters.

Only a few short weeks ago, parents in the Waco area were most concerned about the spread of H1N1 Swine Flu when their children went back to school. However, as we all learned today - there are always many different threats that can injure or kill school children. It's really hard for me to wrap my thoughts around what Princanna Strain's family must be going through right now. What a shock it must have been to learn that Princanna died today in one of the most unlikely of ways. In addition to Princanna Strain's family, I am very concerned about the teacher that was in charge of her care. I can only image the guilty and anguish that teacher must be going through as he or she was the person in charge of keeping the class safe.

Waco ISD officials have already removed all the types of wooden cabinets that caused the death of five year old Princanna Strain on Wednesday, but that post accident decision will offer little comfort to her family. From what I could see on the late local news last night in Waco, the type of cabinet that Princanna Strain was climbing on today had wheels on it. We have all seen these types of cabinets before and never gave them a second thought. However, the adventurous nature of young children that makes them want to climb on stuff - should have made all of us stand up and take noticed of what a potential danger those kinds of cabinets pose for five year old kids. However, no one in the Waco ISD saw that danger before Wednesday's tragic fatal accident.

More than likely, a wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against the Waco ISD, because of Princanna Strain's death Wednesday. While I can certainly understand the anger that her family must feel at this time, a lawsuit against the Waco ISD will not bring back their little loved one. In my opinion, the death of Princanna Strain should be a huge wake up call for all of us who ignore or neglect our young children from time to time. Right now, as most families worry about the stability of their employment - they often times let the stress of everyday life keep them from enjoying their children. Yesterday's tragic death in a Waco public school should cause us all to retake stock in what things are really important in our lives.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Baylor Ready For Oklahoma?

So far in the 2009 college football season, the Baylor Bears have looked pretty good. In contrast, the Oklahoma Sooners have started their year in less than a stellar way. On Saturday, the Baylor Bears travel to Norman Oklahoma to play the Sooners in what could be the closest scoring Baylor/Oklahoma game of all time. Most seasons, the Baylor Bears are outmatched at almost every position by the Oklahoma Sooners -but in 2009, there is a chance that the Bears could defeat the Sooners and for Baylor fans that would be a game worth watching. Sadly, in the history of college football play between Oklahoma and Baylor - the Bears have never won a football game against the Sooners.

I have felt for a long time that when it comes to "Big 12" football play, Baylor is not ready for prime-time. When compared to Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M - Baylor is a very small school in overall student population. While Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M have a student body of 50,000 or more - Baylor's population is less that half of that amount. Building a great college football team is all about finding the right high school students that are willing to attend your college and play football when they graduate. There too Baylor finds itself at a disadvantage to larger universities. For a high school football player that has visions of become a professional someday, the fact is - if they sign with Oklahoma or Texas, they are more than likely joining a winning football program - which will include many nationally televised football games.

That reason alone could be why Baylor University is able to attract quality basketball and tennis players, while their football team usually ends up on the losing end of the "Big 12" each year. Most individuals that play basketball and tennis are not as focused on turning their sports ability into a professional career once their college playing days are over. So, small universities like Baylor are able to attract great athletes for Lady Bears basketball and the tennis program - while much of the great high school football talent around the country will not even consider a scholarship to play football at Baylor, because they know that the NFL draft will treat them more fairly if they play for a winning college football program.

A great many questions about the Baylor Bears football team will be answered on Saturday when the Baylor Bears travel to Norman to play the Oklahoma Sooners. Newspaper headlines in Waco have already proclaimed that this is not the same old Baylor football team. On Saturday, the people of Waco and school alumni from around the nation will learn if this years Baylor Bears football team is the real deal. No matter what the season, there is always a big difference between Kent State and Oklahoma. This Saturday, the Baylor Bears could begin a new winning chapter in school history if they defeat the Oklahoma Sooners. So much is riding on Saturday's game and I look forward to writing about a Baylor victory this weekend.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Red Light Cameras In Waco?

The good news is that the Waco City Council has not decided as of yet to install red light cameras in the city. The bad news is that more than likely they will make the decision to do so if the economy does not turn around soon. While city council's around the country have proclaimed the life saving benefits of red light cameras, I think we all know that most cities install red light cameras solely as an additional revenue source on already tapped out taxpayers. I spoke with my mother the other day who lives in the College Station area. She told me that the City of College Station has installed red light cameras and she believes they are a good idea. On that issue I will disagree with my mother... sorry mom!

While my mother believes that red light cameras are a good idea, she did tell me that when College Station first installed cameras to catch people running red lights, they set them to write tickets to people who were inside the intersection while the traffic lights were on yellow. After much complaining from residents, the City of College Station decided to change the ticket cameras from yellow to red. I certainly can understand why they would do that since most people would be ready to slam on the breaks each and every time they approached a red light camera intersection, which would greatly increase accidents where a person is hit from behind because of a sudden stop.

I am all for getting people to stop running red lights in Waco, because it is a dangerous thing to do. Only a few short weeks ago, my wife and I witnessed a traffic accident at the intersection of Franklin and New Road. Like many times before, cars continued to turn off of Franklin and on to New Road - long after their traffic light had turned red. On that day, I remember a small car leaving on a green light on Franklin only to plow into the side of a pickup truck who was turning while the signal light was red. It's very scary to watch a traffic accident happen, but fortunately it appeared that no one was hurt in that particular accident.

In my opinion, if the City of Waco really wants to save lives when it comes to people running red traffic lights, they should put police officers at the most dangerous intersection to draw attention to the dangers. Red light cameras are just another way to tax the people. After years of taxing cigarettes and alcohol to death, local and state governments are now looking for a new way to raise revenue that does not use the dirty word called taxes. Most people know that red light cameras are just another way to tax the people without calling the revenue that is generated a tax. I'm all for stopping people from running red lights, but red light cameras are not the answer to the problem.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Nick Klaras Dies At Age 80

It is with a heavy heart today that I report the death of Nick Klaras. Mr. Klaras died yesterday at his home in Waco. He was 80 years old. When I first moved to the Waco area back in 1983, one of the first people I met after moving here was Nick Klaras. At the time, I was working for a local radio station as an account executive and Nick's Restaurant was one of my clients. The first thing I remember about Nick Klaras was that he always focused on asking me how I was doing and he always wanted to know how my family was settling in as new residents of Waco.

Over the years, I would run into Nick Klaras from time time even after he closed his restaurant years ago. Each and every time I saw Nick, he was just as nice as the time before. From my point of view, the everyday little problems that drive most people nuts never seemed to effect Nick like they do others. Instead, Nick always had a smile on his face and he had a memory like an elephant when it came to details about the lives of people he interacted with. I will miss Nick Klaras because he not only had a positive effect on my life, but he also effected thousands of other people in the Central Texas area over his eighty years of life.

Several years after I first met Nick Klaras, I was introduced to his son Evan. While I never got to know Evan as well as his father, I remember also seeing a smile on his face every time is saw him as well. As the years went by, I started to noticed that Nick Klaras was selling his famous Greek salad dressing at other restaurants around town like Uncle Dan's Barbecue. It seemed to me that even after Nick sold his Waco restaurant, he still needed to keep his hand in the business of serving great food and following the example of Paul Newman - he discovered that offering a great salad dressing for sale to the public was an excellent way to accomplish that dream.

There are few people that I have met since moving to Waco in the 1980's that have had as positive an effect on my life as Nick Klaras did. From reading the comments in today's Waco Tribune Herald, it is clear that I was not the only person who was touched in a positive way by Nick. Sadly, we all must die someday - but it's extra hard to accept the death of someone that was loved as much as Nick Klaras was during his lifetime. Nick's funeral will be held at the First Baptist Church in Waco on Wednesday. On that date, hundreds of people will show up to pay their last respects to Nick Klaras - who will be remembered fondly for many years to come.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

2009 Baylor Bears Win Two Of Three

Who would have thought that after week three of college football, the Baylor Bears would have a 3-1 win to loss ratio? I certainly would not have thought so and in fact I even laughed a few weeks ago when the Waco Tribune Herald displayed the headline of "This Is Not The Same Old Baylor". I moved to Waco in 1983 and back then people in these parts were still talking about the night the lights burned all night long when the Baylor Bears under the leadership of head coach Grant Teaff won the Southwest Conference years before.

There is a certain spirit in long time Baylor football fans that fires them up right before the start of each Big 12 season. Everyone, Baylor fan or not knows that it is next to impossible for a small Baptist school in Waco Texas to compete with the big powerhouse state schools of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech on a yearly basis. However, die-hard Baylor fans have what I refer to as a David versus Goliath attitude at the beginning of each years football season and for that I tip my hat to them.

Even with their starting quarterback out for the season - the Baylor Bears came away with a victory against Kent State today in Waco, which leads me to believe that there might really be something special with this years Baylor Bears football team. That said, beating Kent State at home and defeating Oklahoma next week in Norman are two completely separate things. However, if Baylor wins it's game against Oklahoma next weekend - then I will totally agree with that newspaper headline that this is not the same old Baylor football team of the past.

While I still believe it is unlike that the 2009 Baylor Bears football team will be able to win against teams like Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M, it is true that they will have a better chance at doing so this year than in years past. As a decades long resident of Waco, nothing would make me happier than to see the Baylor Bears 2009 football team win the Big 12. The Lady Bears basketball team and the men tennis team have already proven that Baylor can compete in the Big 12. Now the only question that remains is will a future Baylor football team be able to win it all, as well?

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Angus Burger At McDonald's

I went through the drive-thru window at the McDonald's Restaurant on Valley Mills Drive tonight so I could pick up a couple of their new Angus Burgers for my wife and I. For weeks, we have both heard people we work with talk about how good the new McDonald's Angus Burger was – so tonight we decided to try this new menu item at McDonald's for ourselves. At first, I thought the new McDonald's Angus burger was made up of ¾ pounds of beef. However, tonight I discovered that the burger only has 1/3 pound of beef – but that in no way made my eating experience of the McDonald's Angus burger any less enjoyable and filling. It amazes me how good the food has gotten at fast food restaurants like McDonald's over the past few years. Not only do they still offer their long time favorite hamburgers, but they also seem to find new menu offerings that please both new and repeat customers alike.

Up until a few months ago, there was a national fast food restaurant chain located in Waco that was called “Backyard Burger”. However, for some reason Backyard Burger closed it's locations in Waco – which disappointed thousands of people that loved to eat there on a regular basis. Tonight, when I took my first bite of the new Angus burger at McDonald's – I thought I was eating a burger that I had enjoyed many times before at Backyard Burger. Since I did not know anything at all about the three choices McDonald's offers the customer when ordering their new Angus burger, I decided to go with the “deluxe” version, which suited my taste buds just fine. On the deluxe McDonald's Angus burger that is a good sized piece of meat that is surrounded by mayo, fresh lettuce, onions and a new type of hamburger bun. I am excited to report that I loved the new deluxe Angus burger that is offered now at Waco area McDonald's restaurants.

In addition to the deluxe Angus burger from McDonald's they also offer two other types of this new hamburger product. One of the other types of Angus burgers offered at McDonald's is called bacon and cheese with the final choice being called Mushroom and Swiss. As a long time Texas country boy, Mushroom and Swiss cheese is not one of my favorite things to eat. However, I do like American cheese and over my fifty years of life – I'll bet I have eaten a ton of bacon. I have already decided to visit McDonald's again real soon so I can try out the bacon and cheese version of their new Angus burger. And yes, I did order a large McDonald's French Fries to go with our two Angus burgers tonight, because everyone knows that it is a waste of a trip to McDonald's - if french fries from there are not enjoy at each and every visit. For people that like to cook out, the new McDonald's Angus burger tastes the same as a burger that is cooked well done on a backyard barbecue grill.

So, the next time you are traveling by a Waco area McDonald's restaurant – why not stop in or order one of their new Angus burgers from their drive-thru? The cost for a McDonald's Angus burger is about $3.50 plus tax and it is worth every penny of that dinning investment.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

H1N1 In Waco Schools

As many health care experts predicted, the start of the 2009 school year in Waco has proven to be a great opportunity for the H1N1 Swine Flu to grow. We all know that kids do not fear germs or getting sick the way adults do, so they go about their business of playing with each others toys and even sharing food with each other in a hand to hand fashion. Before school started in Waco a couple of weeks ago, I was concerned that the beginning of the 2009 school year in Waco could turn out to he a health care disaster because of swine flu, but fortunately for everyone – the cases of swine flu being seen in people this fall is not near as severe as the cases that caused widespread death earlier in the year.

The fact that more people are being exposed to the H1N1 swine flu is a good thing because when this deadly form of flu was first discovered, no one in the world had any natural resistance to this strain of flu. However, six to eight months after swine flu found it's way into the general population worldwide, tens of millions of people have now been exposed to it and the bodies of those exposed to H1N1 swine flu will now know how to fight this new form of flu virus. Like most other people in the Waco area, I was very concerned about the start of the 2009 school year because I wrongly believed that H1N1 swine flu was going to be as deadly as it was earlier this year. Fortunately, right now the regular flu is proving to be more of a danger to Central Texans than H1N1.

In one very important way, all the fear surrounding the H1N1 swine flu virus has been a good thing for the Waco public school system and for that matter most workplaces in the Central Texas area as well. At my workplace and at others around the area, everyone is more concerned about the spread of germs this flu season than in any other year in resent memory. This fear or better put concern about what swine flu might mean to the workplace has caused everyone to be more careful about cleaning the areas they touch when they are feeling ill and swine flu has also caused even the most hard nosed employers to say, stay home, when an employee is sick – rather than coming on into work and making the rest of the office sick as well.

In my opinion the world was very fortunate that H1N1 swine flu did not turn into a worldwide pandemic that caused millions of deaths as was feared when this new strain of flu first made it's appearance. There is still a bunch of fear in the Waco area about the swine flu, but I believe that fear has eased considerably in the past couple of weeks as our school children have returned to class. While we were all lucky in respect to the H1N1 swine flu of 2009, in reality it's really just a matter of time before another worldwide pandemic does kill millions of people around the world. Flu pandemics have happened in the past and they will happen again in the future - the big question is when, which is always followed by – how bad will the next new strain of flu virus be.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Week One Football Scores

The first week of high school football in the Waco area has come and gone. There were some tough games and some surprises as the 2009 high school football season in Central Texas got underway. Regular readers already know that I am a fan of all the local high school football teams, but my heart is always closely following the China Spring Cougars. Listed below are the final scores of the games that were played in the Waco area. Let's all remember that thousands of high school football players work hard and give their best on Friday night with the hope of victory and the desire that lots of people will show up at the games to watch them play.

Friday Night Final Scores:
  • Evant 57 - Holland 48
  • Valley Mills 0 - Tolar 27
  • Mart 14 - Lexington 21
  • Academy 60 - Granger 8
  • Rosebud/Lott 49 - Moody 48
  • Florence 6 - Crawford 48
  • Whitney 14 - McGregor 24
  • West 17 - Lorena 14
  • Brownwood 24 LaVega 7
  • Connally 41 - Marlin 27
  • Robinson 7 - Alvarado 34
  • Mexia 41 - China Spring 21
  • Lorena 14 - West 17
  • University 35 - Carter 27
  • Midway 38 - Vista Ridge 10
  • Copperas Cove 36 - Waco 24
  • Belton 36 - RR McNeil 2
  • Leander 25 - Bryan 21
  • Harker Heights 7 - Westwood 35
  • Cedar Park 29 - Temple 14
  • Corsicana 17 - Jacksonville 28
  • Lampasas 6 - Rockdale 7


Title: Week One Football Scores
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Waco Logan's Restaurant Great

My wife and I have found a Waco restaurant that we now eat at every weekend. While this restaurant is part of a national chain, to us the great food and excellent service we receive at Logan's Restaurant in Waco is second to none. Logan's Restaurant located near I-35 and Loop 340 in Waco has a special deal that they offer to people between 3pm and 6pm daily. Like many other restaurants in the Waco area, Logan's has started to offer meal services for two people at a price that use to be reserved for someone eating single.

For about $14 at the Waco Logan's Restaurant, my wife and I can both eat a very filling meal and still have plenty of money left over to pay a nice tip at the end of our dinning out experience. My wife usually orders the fried catfish and I usually get the 8oz steak both of which are offer for a combined total price of only $14. What makes our dinning out experience at Logan's in Waco so special is that we both order a salad with our meal and the dinner salad that is offered at Logan's is not your regular run of the meal bland said that is served at other restaurants. Instead, it is filled with cheese, onions and many other delightful vegetables and it is brought to our table long before the main course is served. However, the food at the Waco Logan's Restaurant is just part of the story - because my wife and I have found two employees there that offer outstanding customer service.

When we first started eating at the Waco Logan's restaurant several months ago, we found a very nice young man that waited on us - so we started asking for him each time we ate there. This young man is named Kevin. Over the weeks that followed, Kevin never let us down and was always coming by our table at just the right time to ask if the food was good and offering to refill our water. We grew to love the service that Kevin provided to us at Logan's in Waco. Then a couple of months ago when we went in to eat at Logan's we discovered that Kevin was not a waiter anymore, but one of three mangers at their Waco location. Wow, I just love it when a company rewards good service with a deserved promotion.

Ever since Kevin was promoted to manager at Logan's we have been served by a new waitress that is equally good at providing service to us during our weekly visits. Her name is Kristen and like Kevin she is in her early 20's. When we visit the Waco Logan's now it almost seems like we have two people waiting on our table at the same time because the once waiter and now manager of Logan's, Kevin, also comes by our table to find out if we need anything and how our service has been during that visit. If you find yourself wanting good food and great service in the Waco area, I urge you to visit Logan's and ask for Kristen as your waitress. Before long - you will also find one of the managers there named Kevin coming by your table to inquire about your experience, as well, and when you leave you will be filled not only with a good meal, but customer service that is not found that often in the restaurant business anymore.

Title: Waco Logan's Restaurant Great
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back To School Time

The end of August always means it's back to school time in the Waco area. Right now, most parents have bought all the school supplies they need for the 2009 school year and tens of thousands of students are back attending class in school districts all around the Waco area. While many people look at back to school time as a purely book learning experience, I on the other hand cannot wait for Friday night football to get started again. A coworker of mine has a son that plays in the band at China Spring ISD and I asked her the other day if she would get him to pick up a school newspaper from there so I could find out who they were playing each week as the football season goes along.

While I do not act like Tim McGraw in the popular movie "Friday Night Lights", I do consider myself a big time high school football fan from the State of Texas. I grew up in a small Texas panhandle town where the only real excitement that happened each week took place at the local high school football stadium. If my favorite home town team was not playing at home that Friday night, the whole family would load up into our car and travel the short distance to the town where our team was playing that week. In the Texas panhandle, the weather was much cooler for Friday night football than it is here in Central Texas and to be honest - I much prefer cool temperatures for Friday night football than attending games in short pants and short sleeves.

While I have long since left the small town I grew up in, my love for Texas Friday night football has not diminished over the years. As a small town boy, my family usually ate three meals per day at home except on Friday night during football season. I'm sure some of you reading this post will think I'm a little bit crazy, but when I was a kid - Friday night football in the Texas panhandle was not only a time when there was decent entertainment to watch, but for many people it was the only night of the week when we ate one meal that was not prepared by mom at home. Instead on Friday night, my entire family would eat nachos, popcorn and hot dogs at the high school football game.

Now, the 2009 season of Friday night football is close at hand again and I hope this season to watch several games that will be played by my favorite area team the China Spring Cougars. Right now, I am hearing rumors that the China Spring Cougars will not be as good as they were back in 2008 or even 2007 when they went far in the playoffs. However, at the end of the day - Texas Friday night football has never been about whether my favorite team won all their games or not, but instead since childhood it has been about getting together on Friday night with friends and family to share a sport we all love and at the same time to all eat a bunch of junk food that we try to stay away from the rest of the week.

Title: Back To School Time
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Guaranty Bank FDIC Closed

People in and around Waco found out the bad news late this week that Guaranty Bank had been closed by the FDIC. Guaranty Bank has been a local fixture in Central Texas for the past 20 years and before that it was a strong financial institution that was named First Federal. A bank from Spain has agreed to take over Guaranty Bank. On Saturday, the FDIC reopened the Guaranty Bank locations in the Waco area and also around the nation so customers could withdraw their money, if they wished to from the failed Guaranty Bank. The FDIC also advised customers that their funds were safe and checks drawn on Guaranty Bank along with ATM and debit card transactions would continue to be processed as normal.

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, the second largest bank in Spain, agreed to take over Guaranty Bank locations nationwide and they will begin operations sometime next week. To my knowledge, this is one of the few times a foreign bank has stepped in to buy a failed U.S. bank from the FDIC. Earlier today, I was reading some online comments on the KWTX Channel 10 website and sadly there were some negative commits posted there about a non U.S. bank purchasing the assets of Guaranty Bank. I believe that rather than being hateful toward this new bank, we should all look in the mirror and find out why the way we do business in the U.S. is not successful - while banks in other nations are making money.

There are many basic problems that reside in the U.S. when it comes to the operation of banks and Savings and Loans. In my view, the government is far too involved in making sure that loans are given in a politically correct way – rather than judging loan applicants based on the their ability and willingness to repay the loan. Also, I get angry when I think about how U.S. banks continue to play games on Wall Street with depositors money with the full knowledge that if they mess up badly, the taxpayers will once again rush to their rescue with bailout money with no requirements to change the way they do business in order to receive the money.

While I am sad to hear the news that Guaranty Bank will no longer be doing business in the Waco area, I am concerned about the U.S. banking system as a whole more. The FDIC said that Guaranty Bank made home loans to people that should not have qualified for the loan. If true, my next question is were those loans approved by Guaranty Bank because of their own incompetence or were they encouraged by the federal government in an attempt to create some kind of false fairness in the home loan process? We may never know the answer to that question, but the answer might surprise many if it does eventually surface.

Title: Guaranty Bank FDIC Closed
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Waco Police Officers Arrested

Acting in a country where no one is above the law, arrest warrants were filed yesterday against eight former Waco police officers who were also recently fired for their involvement in much publicized cases of “double dipping” of their employer, the City of Waco. As a citizen of Waco, Texas – I have mixed feelings about the criminal charges that were filed today against these eight police officers. Without a doubt, if they are indeed guilty of these “double dipping” charges, they should have lost their job – but for the State of Texas to now follow that action with criminal arrests of these police officers is in my opinion going too far.

Waco citizens are divided on what should be done from a criminal point of view to these eight Waco police officers. People who generally do not like the police because of bad past experiences are much more likely to be happy to see the State of Texas take a hard stand against these eight police officers because of their bad conduct. However, there are just as many citizens of Waco that believe when these officers were fired recently, that should have been the end of the story and not the beginning. Now we all know that the State of Texas intends to blemish the records of these eight police officers with a criminal conviction that will follow them for years.

Please don't get me wrong in thinking that I believe these Waco police officers do not need to be punished for their bad conduct. When they were fired, they lost many of the benefits that they had earned over the years with the City of Waco. Now, if these eight Waco police officers are convicted of a crime – the blemish on their criminal record will follow some of them for the rest of their life. Just like anyone else, a criminal record will prevent all eight of these police officers from serving in other jobs that they would be well qualified to apply for. I just think that the State of Texas could be going overboard in now seeking criminal convictions of these eight police officers.

It's a fact that the citizens of Waco are already under served by our local police department. As the economy turned bad, it became clear almost instantly that the City of Waco did not have enough police officers and that occurred before these eight police officers were fired for “double dipping” the department. I really believe that business as usual in the City of Waco made many police officers think that they could “have their cake and eat it too” when it came to outside employment. However, that feeling of entitlement has long since left the Waco Police Department and when all is said and done eight former police officers will be finished when it comes to any type of security position for many years to come.

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Title: Waco Police Officers Arrested
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is Texas Going Broke?

Not long ago, Texas governor Rick Perry said that the State had a tremendous budget surplus and about that same time he decided to turn down some money that was offered to the State of Texas because of a political disagreement with the Obama administration. Now, only a few short months later – the State of Texas is reporting that sales tax revenue is dropping quickly as the national recession starts to take root right here in Texas. Unlike most other states, Texas does not have a state income tax – so most money is raised through sales taxes and through huge taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

While property owners love the GOP in Texas because the party loves to reduce state taxes on homes and land, to make up for that shortfall in revenue – state leaders have for far too long raised the sales tax and what I refer to as sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to make up the difference. However, if the Texas economy does not turn around soon – state leaders will be forced to either start making major cuts in the Texas budget or do something they promised they would never do and that is to raise property taxes or create a state income tax for Texas.

Right now, Texas in not going broke – but who knows what the future holds if the 2009 recession drags on for another few months. Governor Rick Perry is about to be in the fight of his political life when he runs for reelection next year against Senator Kay Baily Hutchison. My thinking is that Rick Perry will be defeated by Senator Hutchison in the GOP primary and if Texas Democrats cannot find a decent candidate to run against Senator Hutchison, she will most likely be the next Governor of Texas. I have supported Rick Perry in the past, but not anymore. In my view he has changed from an ultra-conservative governor to an extremist in record time.

I have called Texas home for my entire life and I love living here. However, in recent years I believe the GOP has become to radical in Texas and I am hoping that if Kay Baily Hutchison is elected as our next governor she will bring more moderator and less “red meat” conservative leadership to Austin. Most Texans might disagree with the leadership of President Barack Obama, but that does not mean that all Texas Republican want to see our state get left out when money is appropriated for our use because that money will not be saved, but instead it will just be shipped off to some other state that did not say no when it was offered.

Title: Is Texas Going Broke?
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Waco Friday Night Football

Soon, hot summer nights will give way to cooler temperatures and when that happens the first thing I think about is Friday night football in Central Texas. I am a Waco transplant from the Texas panhandle since 1983, but no matter where I have lived – I have always loved to watch Friday night football and here in the Waco area we have many good high school football teams to not only watch play, but to keep up with as the season moves along. Of course, the fall night time temperatures here in Central Texas are not as cool as they were in the Texas panhandle, but that does not make the on field action any less fun to watch.

Four Waco area teams are always on my radar as high school football time nears. My favorite of these teams are the China Spring Cougars. Most of the residents that make up the small community of China Spring, Texas work in Waco so I have become friends with many people that have children that attend that school. The past couple of football seasons, the China Spring Cougars have played exceptionally well on the football field, but in 2009 – after many of their former great players have graduated, will the Cougars once again be a high school football powerhouse this year? Only time will tell.

The other three Central Texas football teams that I follow are the Waco High Lions, the LaVega Pirates and the Midway Panthers. In 2008, the Midway Panthers came out of nowhere to go far in the playoffs only to be stopped by a bad call from an official at the end of their game with Longview in the regional finals. I still remember how that bad officiating call took a potential state championship title away from the Midway Panthers in 2008 while at the same time making hundreds of Panther fans wish for instant replay for high school football just like the pros have in the NFL.

The Waco High Lions and the LeVega Pirates round out my list of favorite high school football teams in the Waco area. In 2009, I know little about what to expect from the Lions and Pirates – but as the season begins, I will follow their player rosters and daily updates in local newspapers to see if either or both of those teams have the potential to be contenders for a state championship. Win, lose or draw – for me the fall is the best time of year in Texas for the simple reason that people from all walks of life dress up in their favorite team colors and head out to watch Friday night football.

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Title: Waco Friday Night Football
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Waco Health Care Protests

Earlier this week, a bunch of Waco residents showed up at Congressman Chet Edwards downtown office to protest changes to the U.S. health care system. Congressman Edwards was not in his Waco office when these health care protests took place, but most certainly he heard about them from his staff and the news media. Central Texas residents are very angry with the changes that have been proposed in Congress and like other citizens around the nation they want to be heard by their elected representatives on this important issue.

We all know that the current health care system in the U.S. is flawed because the price of medical treatment has gone through the roof over the years. However, just because there are some problems with the current U.S. health care system does not mean that the government should take it over and run it like the VA or Medicare. In my mind, what some Democrats in Congress are attempting to do is to take our current medical system and over time turn it's control over to the federal government. That would be a terrible mistake for the country.

In recent weeks, Congressman Chet Edwards has decided not to hold town hall meetings to discuss health care changes, but instead he hopes to hold meetings with voters via a teleconference. Congressman Edwards has once again found himself between a rock and a hard place when it comes to what voters want back home and what his liberal leaning political party expects him to do in the halls of Congress. Last year, Congressman Edwards went against the folks back home and backed the Wall Street bailout and my gut tells me that Central Texas voters are likely to get the shaft again when it comes to his vote on health care reform.

While there is a ton of misinformation going around right now about what health care reform is all about, in the end – what concerns me the most is the idea of government control of health care both over the short and long term. I really believe that Democrats want to control health care not because it will improve the system, but I believe they want to control health care for political reasons which will serve them well down the road. I really wish out elected leaders would fix the current health care system rather than completely change it in a way that will likely break it even further.

Title: Waco Health Care Protests
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Was Kelley Barr Fired?

#TexasNewsBlog #TexasNews #TexasBlog


For the past week or so I have noticed that Kelley Barr is no longer co-anchoring the news on KCEN-TV anymore. Then last week, my wife told me that someone she worked with had a relative who worked at KCEN-TV that said that Kelley Barr was fired. While I do not know the reasons that might have gone into the possible termination of Kelley Barr, I do know that I thought she did one heck of a good job in her duties as co-anchor on KCEN-TV news. Last night, I went to the KCEN website and on all the pages I checked, there is no mention at all of Kelley Barr or where she might have gone.

The same person that told my wife that Kelley Barr had been fired from KCEN also said that rumors around the TV station were that management thought Kelley had gained too much weight to be an effective prime-time news anchor. While I take rumors like that with a grain of salt, in the competitive world of TV journalism – it might very well be the case even though management probably gave a different reason. Like most people in the world, I too fight an ongoing battle with weight and if the ownership and management of KCEN did indeed fire Kelley Barr because they thought she was too heavy, I might just switch to another local TV station just to make a point.

Word on the street is that KCEN-TV has hired a thin 20 something young lady to take Kelley Barr's place as anchor. Wow, how creative for a television station to fire a mature, trusted and well liked TV journalist named Kelley Barr and replace her with some young and thin news anchor who most likely will look pretty on television, but with the exception of being able to read a teleprompter well – will have no real world experience in reporting the news that Central Texas residents expect to see each night when they watch the local news.

By writing the blog post, I am hoping that someone will comment and set the record straight about what happened to Kelley Barr and reveal why she is no longer part of the news team at KCEN-TV. If she quit to accept another position it would be nice to find that out or if she was fired for reasons other than stated above that would be nice to know as well. It wasn't that long ago that the sports anchor on KCEN was promoting the experience of Kelley Barr and now with no announcement whatsoever, she is gone from KCEN and many Central Texans, including myself, would like to know why.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcome Clifton Robinson

Last week, the Waco Tribune Herald began a new chapter in it's long history of service to the citizens of Waco when long time Central Texas business leader Clifton Robinson purchased the newspaper from Cox Enterprises. In the days that followed, I have carefully read many of the pro and con comments that have been added to the Waco Tribune Herald website about this ownership change. As is usually the case, there are huge supporters of Clifton Robinson and a few people that just don't like the man or any kind of change when it comes to their local newspaper. To my knowledge, I have never met Mr. Robinson – but I do wish him well because I do not want to see Waco lose our local newspaper . Over the past three or four years, in cities large and small, the once certain fact of waking up in the morning to read the local newspaper has become a thing of the past. With advances in computer and Internet technology, daily newspapers in the United States have found themselves lacking the number of readers and advertisers that are necessary to remain profitable.

Many of the negative comments that I have read on the Waco Tribune Herald website about Clifton Robertson have a taste of class envy attached to them. Mr. Robinson is a very wealth man who at one time owned National Lloyds Insurance. While I have no idea what changes Robinson has in store for the Tribune Herald, I believe every citizen of Waco should give him the benefit of the doubt. Let's all stay focused on the fact that if Clifton Robinson had not purchased the Waco Tribune Herald from Cox Enterprises – I am certain that sometime around the first of next year that the Waco Tribune Herald faced a likely shutdown, which would have left all of us with no daily local newspaper at all. From my personal point of view, it is important for the long term growth of Waco to have a functioning daily newspaper even though circulation and sold advertising space is much less than it has been in years past.

As Clifton Robinson stated in his welcome message a few days ago in Waco Tribune Herald, he feels that eventually all local newspapers will go digital. I totally agree with his assessment of that certainty, but I do disagree with his timetable on when the complete digital switch over will be completed. Internet Technology has changed every part of our daily lives and the advancement of IT is expanding even while our nation suffers through one of the worst recession we have seen in a long time. While my family subscribes to the Waco Tribune Herald, I seldom read the hard-copy of the newspaper that is delivered each morning – but instead I prefer to read real-time updates on the Waco Tribune Herald website along with Internet updates from KWTX, KCEN and KXXV. I must confess that while I prefer to get my news from the Waco Tribune Herald website, rather than from the hard-copy edition, my wife seldom reads news via the computer, but she does read the entire newspaper each and everyday.

I think all citizen of Waco need to take a step back for a minute and let Clifton Robinson get his feet wet as the new owner of the Waco Tribune Herald before we cast too many stones. While some people will dislike Mr. Robinson because of his financial success, let's all remember that if Robinson was not a wealthy man - he would not be in a position to buy the Waco Tribune Herald in the first place. I think we should also remember that Cox Enterprises had few companies interested in purchasing the local Waco newspaper, which means that we would have eventually lost our local paper if Clifton Robinson had not step up to purchase it. I also believe that Mr. Robinson is taking a big financial risk with his purchase of the Waco Tribune Herald and at this late stage of his life, it would have been easier to just protect has wealth, rather than to risk a large portion of it on a newspaper that few businesses were willing to take a chance on.

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Title: Welcome Clifton Robinson
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