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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