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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Travis Gunn Makes Pool Look Simple, Wins Amateur Poolplayers Association Title

During the day, Travis Gunn is the financial director at Allen Samuels Chevrolet in Waco - but in his spare time, he is one of the best pool players in Central Texas and maybe even the world. In a story published on the Waco Tribune Herald website today, there was a wonderful story and video display of just how well Travis Gunn plays the game of pool.

Like me, Mr. Gunn's age is around 50 years and also like me he enjoys the game of pool. However, totally unlike me - Travis Gunn is a great pool player and when he traveled to Atlanta to participate in the national championship for armature pool players earlier this month, he returned to the Waco area with a win under his belt.

Years ago, I too was in the car business like Travis Gunn and if recent news stories are anywhere close to reality about how tough it really is for automobile dealerships to earn a profit these days - everyone in that business needs a hobby that will help take some of the stress of their daily life. Some people look down on people that play pool for relaxation because of some bad movie stereotypes that have been developed over the years. However, I view pool in the same way as I do any other sport and for those who have played this game often - they understand just how much fun it is to play.

Title: Travis Gunn Makes Pool Look Simple, Wins Amateur Poolplayers Association Title
Written: November 24, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Space-X Rocket Test Lights Up The Waco Area Skyline Late Saturday Night

Shortly after 10:30pm, KWTX Channel 10 broke into programming to explain why there was a bright light and a loud noise coming from an area just west of Waco and near the small Central Texas town of McGregor. Last night at 'Space-X' near McGregor they were conducting a test on a new rocket engine designed to propel astronauts into space. While I did not see the bright lights associated with this test, I did hear the loud rumble just like thousands of other people did last night in the Waco area.

While I agree with some of the concerned citizens that commented on the Waco Tribune Herald website about the timing of such a test, in hindsight - I wish more people knew that this rocket test was happening so we could have staked out a position to watch it take place. On tonight's 10pm news there were wonderful video images of this rocket test at 'Space-X', but they did not do justice to what it would have been like to watch this test live and with our own two eyes.

More than likely, most rocket tests at 'Space-X' in McGregor take place during the daytime hours which means that thousands of local residents will see nothing when these tests take place. My personal opinion is that 'Space-X' should notify the local media the next time they test one of their rockets at night, so Waco residents can witness the awesome power that these amazing rockets can produce.

Title: Space-X Rocket Test Lights Up The Waco Area Skyline Late Saturday Night
Written: November 23, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

China Spring Cougars Defeat The Bulldogs Of Burkburnett Last Night In Playoff Game

The China Spring Cougars continued their winning ways last night in the second round of the 2008 Texas high school football playoffs. From television reports, the first part of the game was a bit tough for the Cougars, but in the end they defeated the Bulldogs of Burkburnett by a score of 17-3.

For weeks, die-hard fans of both the China Spring Cougars and Burkburnett Bulldogs have been looking forward to this game and now that it is over the Cougars will advance to week three of the 3A Texas high school playoffs, while the Bulldogs will return hope to lick their wounds and start rebuilding their football team for the 2009 season.

In week three (3) of the 2008 3A high school playoffs, China Spring will play Abilene Wylie at a yet to be determined place and time. Right now it appears that the Cougars from China Spring High School are playing in a certain pattern that should serve them well in next weekends game against Abilene Wylie. That positive China Spring trend involves sometimes getting off to a slow start in playoff games, but when the second half of play rolls around - the Cougar coaching staff seems to get their team on the same page - which leads to big victories in the 3rd and 4th quarter of play each week.

Title: China Spring Cougars Defeat The Bulldogs Of Burkburnett Last Night In Playoff Game
Written: November 23, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Friday, November 21, 2008

Old Marlin Texas Elementary School Catches Fire, Investigators Suspect Arson

Following in the footsteps of several suspicious fires at old school buildings in Waco, early this morning there was another fire in Marlin, Texas at an old/abandoned school that also appears to be arson related. Area police and fire investigators will most certainly be checking out what remains of the old Marlin Elementary School this weekend to try and discover evidence that will lead them to the person or persons involved in setting that fire.

It's hard to believe that all of these fires at old school buildings around Central Texas are somehow not related. The most logical explanation is that a single person suffering with some type of mental issue against schools is setting these fires. However, in previous arson investigations - authorities have found demons in some individuals which drive them to set fires. In a sick sort of way, those people actually get a thrill out of watching stuff burn.

If all of the recent old school building fires in Central Texas are related, I hope that the person or persons responsible are caught soon before someone gets hurt. While these recent school building fires in and around Waco have been in abandoned buildings that are not occupied by people, anytime there is a fire - firefighters are called to put out the blaze and there is always a chance that one of them could be hurt in the process of putting out the fire.

Title: Old Marlin Texas Elementary School Catches Fire, Investigators Suspect Arson
Written: November 21, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great Place To Live And Work, New Waco Billboards Proclaim Positive Message

A few weeks ago, I wrote about new billboard advertisements that were put up on I-35 in Waco that said 'Waco Is The 7th Most Violent City In Texas'. Those billboard ads were purchased by a local police association that was upset when the Waco City Council would not put them on their agenda to talk about problems at the Waco PD.

Now that their current advertising contract has run out, the owners of those billboard signs have decided to replace that negative Waco message with public service ads that show Waco in a more positive way. The new billboard signs on I-35 now have positive messages like, 'Waco A Great Place To Live And Work'. I can only image what drivers that regularly use I-35 to travel between DFW and Austin/San Antonio must be thinking right now about this massive change of attitude on those huge billboard signs.

When I wrote about the old billboards before, one person that lives in the Dallas area commented on that story by saying that when they saw that first billboard - they decided not to stop in Waco to buy gas and eat dinner, but instead they drove to the next town before they stopped. While these new billboards do give a positive impression of Waco, in reality it is difficult for positive messages to override the negative ones that were created by those first set of billboard signs on I-35.

Title: Great Place To Live And Work, New Waco Billboards Proclaim Positive Message
Written: November 20, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Dickey's Waco Location Closed, Reportedly To Reopen Soon As Bill's Barbecue

The previous problems at the old Dickey's Barbecue are still making news in Waco as reportedly the local owners of that restaurant chain have lost their franchise. According to the owners of the now closed Dickey's Barbecue, all of their current and previous employees have been paid their back wages - but in reality the only thing that has happened, so far, is that their former employees have been given a check that was insufficient when they showed up at the bank to cash it.

Once again last night, the manager of the now closed Waco Dickey's was interviewed on local television and in my personal opinion he seemed to be in some kind of state of denial about the events that have transpired over the past few weeks. First, he said that all employees had been paid - which was untrue when you consider their checks were no good and second he said that soon the restaurant would reopen as Bill's Barbecue and that they were leaving the Dickey's problems behind them.

From my take on this managers interview on local TV last night, it appeared that he was blaming his problems on the Dickey's franchise instead of realizing that it was the fault of the local owners of Dickey's. From my understanding of this issue, it was the Dickey's franchise that took their name away from him because of bad publicity and not the other way around. My gut feeling is that Bill's Barbecue will not reopen in the old Waco Dickey's location and if it does it will not last long because of the bad will that has been created by the untrue states given to their employees and the media during this whole mess.

Title: Dickey's Waco Location Closed, Reportedly To Reopen Soon As Bill's Barbecue
Written: November 20, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

I'm Hoping That Waco Will Experience A White Christmas In 2008 Or At Least By 2009?

I moved to the Waco area back in 1983 and since that time there have been few winters with snowfall and almost no December's when a White Christmas was experienced here in Central Texas. In fact, most years around Christmas time it is common to see men and boys playing football in the front yard of houses around town, in their short pants, as other people inside the house are cooking Christmas dinner.

I guess if I really wanted to experience a White Christmas I should have picked another city to live in beside Waco, Texas. However, one need not leave Texas to see a White Christmas because when I lived in the Texas panhandle in a small town, while growing up, it was not uncommon to have a White Christmas or two every decade or so. That said, most years there was no snow even in the Texas panhandle before the latter part of January or the early part of February.

Maybe we all just wish for that we cannot have, but it would be nice to see something besides warm weather in Waco around Christmas time. Will 2008 finally give Waco, Texas a White Christmas? Time will tell, but if history is any guide to what is to come - most folks in Waco will be sitting in the backyard eating their pumpkin pie in short pants, rather than watching snowfall through the front window as Christmas dinner is served.

Title: I'm Hoping That Waco Will Experience A White Christmas In 2008 Or At Least By 2009?
Written: November 20, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Saying Goodbye To Waco's Brazos Belle As It Was Torn Apart Today After Flood Damage

Traveling down I-35 late today, it was a terrible site seeing a long time Waco landmark being torn apart by a demolition crew. The previous Waco landmark, 'The Brazos Belle' will soon be only a memory in the minds of thousands of Central Texas residents as flood damage from the massive flooding of 2007 proved to be so extensive that rebuilding the Brazos Belle was not practical.

It always saddens me when anything that once stood proud and tall is taken apart by huge tractors and then hauled away by big trucks to a landfill. However, when that demolition involves something like the Brazos Belle - the sadness takes on new meaning because of the history that old ship has had and the fact that literally millions of people have seen it as they travel north and south on Interstate 35.

By this weekend, there will be nothing left of the Brazos Belle in Waco except old photographs and memories of special occasions spend there. Of course, there is always a chance that something new will take the Brazos Belle's place - but just like the Twin Towers in New York City, nothing new can really replace the original structure. Like with everything else, in time Waco residents will forget about the Brazos Belle and in the full scope of history it will be forgetting soon enough. However, as that old boat was being tore apart today - my guess is that more than a few tears were being shed by local residents.

Title: Saying Goodbye To Waco's Brazos Belle As It Was Torn Apart Today After Flood Damage
Written: November 19, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rick Sheldon’s Waco Brazos River Corridor Vision Beautiful But Unrealistic By 2015

Like hundreds of other Waco residents, last night I watched a very impressive video by Rick Sheldon. This video describes Mr. Sheldon's vision of downtown Waco in the year 2015. While this video was impressive to watch, in the back of my mind I kept going back to how hard it is to get any type of major change to happen here in Waco when large sums of money are involved in the project.

Already this morning I have read some very negative comments on the Waco Trib website about Mr. Sheldon's video and his vision for downtown Waco. Most of those negative comments have to do with how the City of Waco has dealt with issues like this one in the past. I too believe that the City of Waco through our elected leaders has been resistant to positive changes over the years, but there is also nothing wrong with a citizen producing a video showing what changes to downtown Waco might look like if the government and citizens decided to move in that direction, together.

In many way, Waco is at a cross roads and the choices we make in the next few years will decide our future path. Will the citizens of this wonderful city decide to make changes that will effect the way Waco appears in the future or will we continue down the same road we have been on for decades? I want to complement Mr. Sheldon for producing a positive vision for this city and if more people would start to think like him, Waco could become an Oasis in the Heart of Texas rather than a laughing stock created by our own poor choices of the past.

Title: Rick Sheldon’s Waco Brazos River Corridor Vision Beautiful But Unrealistic By 2015
Written: November 18, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Owner Of Old FNB Building In McGregor, Tx Urged To Take Down Negative Obama Signs

One of my favorite little towns in the Waco area is McGregor, but right now - most city leaders and owners of businesses there are upset by some signs that Mark Woodward, the owner of the old First National Bank building in McGregor, has decided to display in the windows of that historic building. All of the sign are in one way or another negative about President Elect Barack Obama.

While Mr. Woodward is well within his legal rights to express his free speech guarantees under the Constitution of the United States, most other owners of buildings and businesses in McGregor, Tx wish that he would remove those signs from public view. I both understand the feelings of business owners in downtown McGregor and I also understand the feelings of Mark Woodward in wanting to show his displeasure with the results of the last presidential election. However, somewhere in that mix there has to be some respect for his neighbors and in that area Mr. Woodward is lacking.

In the United States we have a process of selecting a President of the United States and using the rules of our Constitution, Barack Obama was elected and that should be that. While none of us are obligated to agree with the will of most of the American people, we are all expected to be good citizens and honor the voting process. If Mr. Woodward is upset about how the presidential election turned out in 2008, he has every right to try and change the course of this country when the next presidential election occurs in 2012. In the mean time, it would be the right thing to do for him to give President Elect Obama a chance to prove himself in office and if he does a poor job - not only will Mark Woodward vote against him when reelection time comes around again, but so will a majority of the American people.

Title: Owner Of Old FNB Building In McGregor, Tx Urged To Take Down Negative Obama Signs
Written: November 19, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CLEAT/City Council/City Manager In Hewitt, Texas Involved In A Messy Dispute

In Texas, it has been well known for years that the fastest way to lose a job is to start talking about forming a union at work. In Hewitt, while a union was not being discussed, the formation of civil service protection for Hewitt police officers is considered just as bad so one Hewitt police officer, Danny Powell, was allegedly fired by the Hewitt City Manager for trying to obtain civil service protection for his department in a recent election.

When I first moved to the Waco area back in 1983, my first residence was in Hewitt. At that time there were few businesses lining the side of Hewitt Drive and for the most part I considered Hewitt, Texas just a sleepy little town that people wanted to live in because of the Midway School District. Fast forward a couple of decades and Hewitt, Texas is no longer a sleepy little town, but instead a growing community with not only new homes being built everywhere - but there has been a massive expansion of businesses there, too.

What is happening right now in Hewitt, Texas is no different that what has happened in other formerly small towns which woke up one day and noticed they were not a small town anymore. With increasing population and businesses come an increasing need for more police officers. In my opinion, it is time for the City Manager of Hewitt and the City Council to take a look at their city and see it not as a sleepy little town anymore, but as a growing city that must change in order to survive.

Title: CLEAT/City Council/City Manager In Hewitt, Texas Involved In A Messy Dispute
Written: November 18, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Bad Economy Could Lead To An Increased Crime Rate In Waco/Central Texas

It is really no surprise that when the local Waco economy turns downward that the crime rate also increases. All throughout history, during slow economic times - crimes of all nature increase because of a lack of employment which leaves too many people without the income they need to survive. Especially right now as the Christmas holiday approaches, local police are warning shoppers to be on the look out for people that might try to rob them during shopping trips to Waco malls and other retail locations.

While hard economic times in Central Texas will lead to a higher crime rate, the bad people that are always criminals during both good and bad times will still be around to make life miserable for the rest of us. The really terrible thing about a bad economy is that when crime is most on the increase, that is the exact time when city governments try to cut back on services like police and fire protection. These cutback make life even more difficult and yes dangerous to everyone that lives in the Waco area.

It just makes sense to really pay attention to your surroundings this holiday season and don't let yourself get so caught up into shopping that you ignore potential dangers that could be resting in your path. I certainly hope everyone has a nice holiday season and just like in years past - a little prevention and intelligence will go a long way in making sure that you or a member of your family do not become a victim this holiday season.

Title: Bad Economy Could Lead To An Increased Crime Rate In Waco/Central Texas
Written: November 18, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Fall Brings Fire Danger To Homes With Natural Gas Heating

I really hate being one of those people that warns others about the potential of fire danger this time of year, but from November to the end of December - dozens of homes are either damaged or destroyed by fire when residents first click on their gas fueled heaters. Like many other people in Waco, my home is powered by some natural gas and some electricity.

Our heater and oven are natural gas fueled while everything is electrical. Each year, when I turn on our gas heater - I always smell a terrible odor which I have been told is the smell of burning dust that has accumulated during the summer months inside my heating unit. Unlike other natural gas based heaters, ours does not have a pilot light that burns all the time - but instead it is started by electronic ignition. Most of the fires we see around Waco each year are started by faulty gas heaters and sometimes something as simple as making sure the pilot is lit is enough to prevent disaster.

While fires are a real danger to property this time of year, the main danger to people is a build up of carbon monoxide inside of the home. The bad thing about carbon monoxide is that unlike natural gas which has a smell added to it, there is no smell to carbon monoxide fumes and without really being away of what is going on around them - it is easy for a person or a whole family to die in their sleep because of it. Let's all be careful and stay alive this winter.

Title: Fall Brings Fire Danger To Homes With Natural Gas Heating
Written: November 18, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Everyone Is Talking About Small Cars, But Will People In Waco Really Buy Them?

The other day I was passing by the motor mile on Loop 340 in Waco and noticed that with all the talk recently about the move to small cars by residents in the United States, here in Waco - most consumers must still be interested in purchasing large pickup trucks. New car dealer lots are still filled with trucks and some SUV's and while there are some small cars in the mix, from a cursory look - it still appeared like there were more trucks on Waco dealer lots than small cars.

This looking, on my part, at car dealers lots in Waco was brought about by the current talk in Congress about bailing out the big three automakers in Detroit to the tune of somewhere between $25 and $50 billion. Right now, gas prices are low and the previous history of US automakers usually takes them right back to building large trucks and SUV's because of the high profit margins they bring to their companies and dealers.

However, the day of reckoning is close at hand for General Motors, Chrysler and Ford as this new bailout will probably be their last because if they don't find a way to cut into the domestic car sales of Honda and Toyota - soon all three of them will be toast anyway. While I hate bailouts of any kind, with the US economy already in recession - the reverberations of one or more big US automakers going out of business at this current time in our nations history would cause a financial disaster with long term consequences to all of us.

Title: Everyone Is Talking About Small Cars, But Will People In Waco Really Buy Them?
Written: November 18, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Monday, November 17, 2008

Retailers Feel Bleak About The 2008 Waco Christmas Shopping Season

From the few Waco retailers that I have talked to over the past couple of weeks, none of them are expecting a great Christmas shopping season in 2008. Instead, they are just hoping that there will be enough customers shopping at their stores in order to stay in business long enough for the local economy to turn around. While most people in Waco are still employed, it is impossible for anyone to escape the bad economic news that is tossed their way everyday through television and the Internet.

While most Waco residents are still employed, that does not mean that most folks are not concerned about potentially losing their job later this year or at the beginning of next. In recent weeks, DHL closed it's long time facility at TSTC and other large Waco businesses are certain to shutdown as well in the upcoming months. All of this bad economic news is not helping local retailers because just the thought of the possibility of a person losing their job is enough to cause them to tighten their wallets, hunker down and wait for a brighter day.

What I predict will happen this Christmas shopping season in Waco and in other cities around the country is a rebirth of the past when it comes to celebrating Christmas. In the old days, Christmas was more a holiday where friends and family got together to enjoy the company of each other and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In more modern times, Christmas changed from a family based holiday to one filled with greed when family fellowship was replaced by how much a person spent on the gift that we received.

Title: Retailers Feel Bleak About The 2008 Waco Christmas Shopping Season
Written: November 17, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Street Racing In Waco Shows Up On YouTube, Channel 6 Reports

According to a report on Waco television station KCEN, video of street racing on Valley Mills Drive has shown up on the popular video sharing service 'YouTube'. With the exception of this kind of activity being promoted on the Internet, I do not see what is new about any of this. When I first moved to Waco in 1983, there were street races happening on Valley Mills Drive all the time and they have continued ever since.

The difference now is that these dangerous street races on Valley Mills in Waco are being uploaded to 'YouTube' for all the world to see and I guess in some kind of way it makes Waco look bad that these types of races are happening. On any given night and dozens of times on the weekend, street races are occurring on Valley Mills Drive in Waco and they are very dangerous not only to the kids taking part in the racing - but also to the general public.

Unfortunately, kids will be kids and part of that growing up process means that they will do reckless and dangerous things in order to get a thrill. Just this past weekend, two teenagers were killed - one in West and the other in Gatesville. However, little will change in teenager behavior because of these deaths. The human brain does not fully mature until a person reaches their mid 20's and until that time comes, to most teenagers, bad things will never happen to them.

Title: Street Racing In Waco Shows Up On YouTube, Channel 6 Reports
Written: November 17, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Teens Dead After Two Weekend Accidents In West/Gatesville, Texas

Every year it gets harder to be the parents of a teenager. That said, this weekend in the Waco area was terrible for a couple of parents of teenage kids when two different accidents took the lives of two young women. The first accident happened on Friday night near West, Texas and the other accident happened last night near Gatesville, Texas. Both of these weekend accidents in Central Texas are still under investigation and as of now there has been no ruling as to whether alcohol or drugs were associated with these fatal accidents.

The first accident this past Friday took place not far from West, Texas as a vehicle being driven by a teenage tried to maneuver a sharp turn while traveling too fast. That teenagers vehicle left the road and while she was wearing a seat belt - Katherine Gant of West, Texas was pronounced dead at the scene. For me, seeing another traffic fatality near West, Texas is just terrible as 2008 has provided way too many teenage deaths due to traffic accidents in this small Central Texas community.

The other fatal vehicle accident that happened this weekend in the Waco area occurred near Gatesville, Texas. In that accident a vehicle being driven by Kodi Hitt, overturned and one of the passengers in that vehicle - Jessica McGehee was killed. Too many times teenagers believe that they can do what they want and no harm will come to them. Of course, that wrong headed thinking leads to many deaths in automobile accidents each year. Like teenagers today, I remember many close calls in my own life and only through the grace of God did I and most other teenagers eventually live to see adulthood.

Title: Teens Dead After Two Weekend Accidents In West/Gatesville, Texas
Written: November 16, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Chet Edwards Decides To Stay In Congress/Waco, Says No To VA Position

It may have come as a surprise to some people that Congressman Chet Edwards would turn down the position of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, but long time Waco residents were not surprised at all. While it is true that Congressman Edwards would be able to help veterans more as the VA Secretary in the short run, in the long term his vote and position on the House Armed Services Committee will be more valuable to them.

There is another reason why I believe Congressman Chet Edwards turned down the VA Secretary position and that is because if he resigned his House Seat, most certainly the next election would see a Republican take his place. Without really saying anything, down deep inside it must give Congressman Edwards a bunch of pride knowing that he has defeated GOP national and state leaders at their own game when they redrew Texas House Districts so that Democrats would have a tough time winning.

After many years of the national GOP throwing tons of money at defeating Congressman Edwards along with big named D.C. Republicans coming to Waco and Bryan/College Station in order to help his opponent, in the end Congressman Chet Edwards has defeated the national GOP in every single election here in Central Texas. President Elect Obama has many qualified people that can serve as VA Secretary, but citizens of Central Texas would certainly feel the loss if Chet Edwards resigned his House Seat to serve in the VA.

Title: Chet Edwards Decides To Stay In Congress/Waco, Says No To VA Position
Written: November 16, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Baylor Wins Big Over A&M Saturday, Waco Filled With Excitement

Saturday, my sister who lives in College Station called and wanted to know if my wife and I would like to meet her family at La Fiesta before they attended the A&M Consolidated High School playoff game that night in Waco. Of course, we were thrilled to be able to see them and share a good meal before their game. It was at dinner when I first noticed how many people were in Waco this weekend due to either high school football playoffs or the big Baylor Bears/Texas A&M Aggies football game.

As we were leaving La Fiesta about 6:15pm, I began to realize just how many people were in Waco this weekend due to football games. The Baylor/A&M game ended about 6:00pm and the traffic both on Valley Mills Drive and on Franklin was very heavy as we were leaving the restaurant. While eating dinner we also noticed many people from Tyler, who also traveled to Waco this weekend for their game against A&M Consolidated. Unfortunately, A&M Consolidated lost their high school game, but Baylor won big over A&M which does not happen that often considering the difference in school size between Baylor and A&M.

Considering all of the visitors visiting Waco Saturday night for football games, all of that money that came into town must have given a shot in the arm to local restaurants which have not seemed to have that many customers in recent weeks. As my sister was leaving, I told her to thank all the folks from College Station for bring all that money to Waco this weekend. I'm sure local businesses were also happy to see that increase in their business, as well.

Title: Baylor Wins Big Over A&M Saturday, Waco Filled With Excitement
Written: November 16, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Friday, November 14, 2008

Acts Of Violence Increase At The Mexia State School In Recent Weeks

In recent weeks there have been growing acts of violence at the Mexia State School. For decades this special state school in Mexia, Tx has been the home for troubled teenagers in Texas.The latest acts of violence at the Mexia State School took place recently when a teacher from the Mexia ISD was attacked while visiting the school as part of his teaching activities. During that visit, this Mexia ISD teacher was yelled at by two students at the school and while school officials were able to subdue one of the students, the other was able to break free and injure the teacher in a severe enough way to cause that teacher to be hospitalized.

These latest acts of violence at the Mexia State School could be related to the decision of the State of Texas to send all violent teenagers to that school who cannot be put on trial in a court of law because of mental issues. While I have no first hand knowledge that this alleged change in what students are being sent to the Mexia State School is responsible for the recent increase in violence, it does fit the pattern of why violence is increasing there and if my guess is right - the State of Texas probably made this change without increasing the amount of school corrections officers to help maintain order.

The Mexia State School has been a fixture of Mexia Texas for decades and for the most part the people of Mexia and the troubled teens that make up the population of that school have coexisted together quite well over the years. However, if these recent acts of violence by students directed at teachers in the Mexia ISD and other acts of violence against other students continues - the folks that call Mexia home might just begin to believe their community would be better off without this state school.

Title: Acts Of Violence Increase At The Mexia State School In Recent Weeks
Written: November 14, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Bi-District Playoffs Tonight, China Spring Cougars/Midway Panthers/Waco Lions

Update: 10:30pm Friday (Final Scores)

Midway 35 - Forney 12
China Spring 24 - Burnet 0
Waco High 7 - Lancaster 26
West 0 - Liberty Hill 27

Bi-District football playoffs get underway tonight as two big Central Texas teams try to keep their hopes alive for a state championship. The China Spring Cougars will play the Burnet Bulldogs tonight at 7:30pm in Killeen and the Midway Panthers play the Forney Jackrabbits at 7:30pm in Midlothian. While it was no real surprise for me to see the China Spring Cougars in the playoffs, the great 2008 season play by the Midway Panthers did offer me a pleasant surprise.

I make no secret of the fact that I desire to see China Spring win their football games every single week and now that the playoffs are upon us, I am really hoping that the Cougars from China Spring will repeat their state championship win of last year. While I now live in the City of Waco, for many years I lived in Hewitt, Texas and my daughter attended school there many years ago. Back when she was a student in the Midway ISD the Panthers made few visits to the playoffs and most certainly they were not entering the playoff season with an impressive 9-1 record.

I wish all local teams well tonight and in addition to the China Spring Cougars and the Midway Panthers, the Waco High Lions will be playing the Lancaster Tigers - plus the West Trojans will be playing the Liberty Hill Panthers in Temple, Texas tonight. Good luck to all the Waco area high school football teams on week one of the playoffs. It would be great if we had several local teams represented in their various divisions in Texas state championship games this season.

Title: Bi-District Playoffs Tonight, China Spring Cougars/Midway Panthers/Waco Lions
Written: November 14, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thanksgiving Day Meal Can Be Fun While Eating Out At Waco Golden Corral

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and like many other people I will be spending the holiday's right here in Waco, rather than traveling to some far away location. Last Thanksgiving, my wife and I decided to eat our lunch time Thanksgiving Day meal at the Golden Corral Restaurant on Valley Mills Drive in Waco.

This year, we plan to visit Golden Corral once again because when it's just two people eating on Thanksgiving Day, neither of us has the desire to cook a big meal and then spend hours cleaning it up after the big football games. If memory serves me correctly, last year at Golden Corral we paid $10 each for our meal and when we left we were so full that a nap was needed before we could even watch the big football games on television.

In years past, Thanksgiving was a time when we would gather together with family in some other city. However, recently my wife and I both have needed to work on the day after Thanksgiving and it just did not make sense to spend most of the day Thursday driving to a distant location to eat a short meal and then spend several hours driving back home to Waco. If you find yourself alone on Thanksgiving Day, I would highly recommend the Waco Golden Corral because their food is fantastic and the after meal deserts are even better.

Title: Thanksgiving Day Meal Can Be Fun While Eating Out At Waco Golden Corral
Written: November 14, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Old Waco High Catches Fire Early This Morning, Too Many Suspicious Fires Lately

From time to time, all major cities find themselves with a person often referred to as a 'fire bug' on their hands and right now there seems to be someone or a group of people that are burning abandoned buildings in Waco. This morning a fire broke out at the old Waco High School in downtown Waco. Fortunately, the Waco Fire Department arrived quickly and put the fire out before the whole building was gutted.

The old Waco High School was closed in 1971 and has pretty much sat the way it is today for decades. Recently, there has been talk of a developer turning this old school into loft apartments, but to my knowledge no work had yet been done to date. As we all know, there have been suspicious fires in abandoned buildings in Waco for weeks now and while the cause this mornings fire at the old Waco High School has yet to be determined, in my gut I have a feeling that this mornings fire was no accident.

While people that set fires for kicks do not normally follow a logic that most people can understand, I do find it interesting that two old and abandon school buildings are among a group of fires that recently happened in Waco under suspicious circumstances. I have driven by the old Waco High School many times over the years and at least to me it is one of the most interesting buildings in Waco to look at. When that school was holding classes, I did not live in Waco - but I can just image in my mind what kind of busy activity took place there when it was open and part of the Waco educational system.

Title: Old Waco High Catches Fire Early This Morning, Too Many Suspicious Fires Lately
Written: November 14, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Thursday, November 13, 2008

China Spring Cougars Could Face Burkburnett For 2008 State Championship

I am a long time sports junkie when it comes to following Friday night high school football in Texas and regular readers know that I have a special affection for for China Spring Cougars. After reading about the other various teams around Texas that are also good, I believe there is an excellent chance that the Cougars of China Spring Texas will meet the Bulldogs of Burkburnett in the 2008 state championship game.

The only downside to Friday night football in the State of Texas is that the football season is too short. For me and thousands of other fans, the annual high school football season just gets underway and then a few weeks later all anyone can talk about are the playoffs and which teams are going to be represented there. I guess the NFL has just spoiled me when it comes to a longer season, but that longer season can turn out to be horrible when a team like my favorite Dallas Cowboys decide to play as sorry as they have done so far this year.

I grew up in the Texas panhandle, so I am familiar with the the City of Burkburnett - which is located almost exactly on the Texas/Oklahoma border about a half an hour drive from Wichita Falls, Texas. Burkburnett and many other small towns that make up the landscape of far north Central Texas are subjected to the ups and downs of the price of oil and the prices paid for crops like cotton and livestock like cattle. While I believe that a State Championship between the Cougars of China Spring and the Bulldogs of Burkburnett will likely occur in 2008, without a doubt I will be pulling for my favorite Texas high school football team the Cougars as they try to repeat last years successful football season.

Title: China Spring Cougars Could Face Burkburnett For 2008 State Championship
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

A Restaurant Need Not Be Fancy For Me To Enjoy It, Dinner Tonight At Sonic

It was a beautiful day in Waco this November 13th. Late today, my wife and I decided to visit our neighborhood Sonic Drive In on Valley Mills Drive and enjoy a brown bag special. It had been several months since we last visited Sonic in Waco because neither of us really enjoys sitting in a hot car while eating dinner. However, now that November has arrived in Central Texas - tonight's weather was perfect to pull up to Sonic, order a brown bag special and sit and talk for awhile.

My wife and I both like the Cherry Limeade drinks that Sonic has become famous for and their tater tots are second to none. Tonight's, brown bag special from Sonic was rightly priced at only $8, but I was a little disappointed that Sonic now charges a little extra if a customer orders a Cherry Limeade as their drink, instead of a Coke or Dr. Pepper.

There are other great foods that I like to eat at Sonic and another perk to eating there is the fact that a customer can order off the breakfast menu all day long. Maybe I'm just strange, but there are days when I love to eat breakfast at the end, instead of at the beginning of the day. Being a guy that like his food spicy, the big breakfast burritos at Sonic are great and filled with bacon, eggs, tots and jalapenos.

Title: A Restaurant Need Not Be Fancy For Me To Enjoy It, Dinner Tonight At Sonic
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

That Reported Noose At Baylor On Election Night Now Said To Have Been Swing

Whether the truth has really been told or not about the Baylor University election night incident that caused racial tensions on the campus, the explanation being reported by school officials today sounds totally ridiculous to most Waco residents. Today, Baylor University said that the reported noose that was found hanging in a tree on their campus on election night has now turned out to be a swing and not a noose. When I first heard this explanation late today, I actually laughed out loud.

While all major Universities value their reputation above everything else, why is it so hard for Baylor officials to admit that there are racist that attend their school, just like there are racist all over town? With today's explanation that the reported noose turned out to be a swing instead, Baylor has put it's very ability to tell the truth into question - which will damage the University more than the likelihood that a few racist students attend Baylor University?

While everyone should tell the truth and not allow their opinions to drift into a deep hole of denial, especially at Baylor University the truth should always be the mainstay because of the religious aspect of the school. Without major Universities like Baylor standing up to tell the whole truth about something as important as racism, the entire foundation of this school could come into question in future years. What Baylor really needs right now is a full time and permanent President that believes that the truth should always be practiced at Baylor University. This obvious case of denial will guarantee that this issue will occur again in the future.

Title: That Reported Noose At Baylor On Election Night Now Said To Have Been Swing
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

DHL Closes Shipping Operation In Waco As Local Economy Continues To Weaken

There is an old saying that goes something like this, 'when your neighbor loses his job it's a recession, but when you lose your own job it's a depression'. That said, many people that had good jobs with DHL at the TSTC Airport in Waco will soon be searching for a new job after one of the worlds largest carriers of freight decided to stop doing business in the US starting early next year.

Last night on the 10pm news here in Waco, they interviewed a man that had worked for DHL locally for years. That man with a half smile on his face said, 'that he had hoped to retire with DHL, but now he will be forced to find a new job'. Christmas 2008 is going to be very different from last year in Waco as many local and national business will find themselves falling on hard times which will lead to even more layoffs and some store closings.

Another issue that is going to face hundreds of Waco residents this holiday season will be the ever tightening of credit by major credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Whether it is good thing or not, many Central Texans have relied on credit cards to fund their Christmas purchases for decades - but now that our country is facing a credit meltdown, some credit card companies are already lowing credit limits even for their best customers.

Title: DHL Closes Shipping Operation In Waco As Local Economy Continues To Weaken
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Most Newspapers Have Commentators, But Few Top Fred In The Waco Tribune Herald

The best thing about the Internet is the growing influence of mainstream newspapers, like the Waco Tribune Herald and blogs like this one in offering regular people the chance to comment on news stories that they find interesting. In Waco Texas, there is a regular commentator on the Waco Tribune Herald web site that goes by the name 'Fred' that causes regular Waco citizens to either laugh out loud or get so angry that they must comment too in order to set Fred straight or shout him down.

Using the words, 'Slaughterhouse Waco' as a regular part of his almost daily rantings on the Waco Trib web site, people all over town are not only talking about Fred - but they are also rushing to the Waco Tribune Herald homepage to see what Fred will write next. I told my wife a few days ago that the comments that are being made by 'Fred' in the Trib are helping that newspapers web site grow at a fast pace, because most of what Fred has to say about Waco is negative and that flies right in the face of what most local residents think about this city.

While I never thought I could become so hooked by a web site commentator that I would regularly visit the Waco Tribune Herald web site just to see what some guy named 'Fred' has to say about the news of the day, I was wrong. Now, I regularly visit the Waco Trib web site for no other real purpose but to see what 'Fred' wrote today. If the Waco Trib finds out who 'Fred' really is, they should put him on the payroll as a regular contributor to their local editorial pages not just on their web site, but in the real newspaper too.

Title: Most Newspapers Have Commentators, But Few Top Fred In The Waco Tribune Herald
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Baylor/A&M Play Football This Weekend And For A Change, The Bears Are Favored

It's been a long time since the Baylor Bears were the favorite in a football game against the Aggies, but that is the case this weekend as A&M travels to Waco for their annual game. A few years ago, in a game that Baylor was not suppose to win against the Aggies, they did win and when the game was over, totally ecstatic fans rushed the field at Floyd Casey Stadium and tore down the goal posts. Before that unexpected Bears victory, the last time I remember that much excitement being shown for Baylor football was during the tenure of Grant Taff as head football coach decades earlier.

This weekend, the Bears play the Aggies again in Waco, but this time most sport predictors and more importantly the folks that put out the gambling odds on college football games - believe that Baylor will come out of this weekends game victorious against Texas A&M. While everyone in Waco is excited that Baylor might win another football game this weekend, in reality the Bears and the Aggies are basically playing for last place in the Big 12 South. The good news for the Baylor Bears is that they are playing much better in 2008 than they did in 2007, but the same cannot be said for the Texas A&M Aggies.

So much has changed at Baylor University since I move to Waco back in the early 1980's. Back then, there were still strong feelings about a Southwest Conference Championship that Baylor won a few years earlier and still lingering talk about the night that the lights burned all night long at the Bears football stadium. Since then, most of the sport attention directed toward Baylor University has gone to the Women's Basketball Team and the Men's Tennis Team, which have both won national championships over the past five years.

Title: Baylor/A&M Play Football This Weekend And For A Change, The Bears Are Favored
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Woman Saves Neighbor From Burning House, A New Waco Hero Is Born

There was a major fire at a Waco home yesterday where the resident of the house on fire was disabled. A neighbor to this man rushed into his burning house and rescued him from certain death. The name of the victim or the lady that rescued him from the fire have not yet been released, but this lady suffered serious second degree burns to her arms as she rushed into the flames to carry this disabled man, without legs, to safety.

When I heard of the heroic efforts of this mans neighbor on our 10pm late local news last night, I knew why I decided to make Waco, Texas my home back in 1983. I like living in Waco because to me the size of this town is just right. I have lived in larger cities before and when I was young I grew up in a small town with a population of less the 5000 people. For me, Dallas is way too big of a city to call home - but I don't have a real desire to live in the middle of nowhere, out in the country, either.

In Waco, I have found good friendships with people that share the same values that I cherish. I have also noticed that no matter how much money a person might have in Waco, it really does not matter to most citizens. In fact, it is not uncommon to see wealthy business owners sitting down with blue color workers at a Waco hamburger joint and enjoying a good meal and conversation with each other. While the lady that saved this doomed man from a certain death in a fire yesterday is a hero. To be honest, I have seen regular folks act like heroes for well over 20 years now since I made Waco my home.

Title: Woman Saves Neighbor From Burning House, A New Waco Hero Is Born
Written: November 13, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Circuit City To Remain Open In Waco, At Least Through The Christmas Holiday

When a long time Waco business dies, part of our town dies along with it. I felt that way when I read the other day that the national Circuit City chain had filed for bankruptcy. Not that many weeks ago, Circuit City announced that they were closing over one hundred stores and now this - the whole company is going into bankruptcy. While I have not been a regular visitor to the Waco Circuit City store at Waco Drive and Lake Air Drive - I have shopped there before and the customer service was fantastic.

Now, I feel, it is almost certain that the Waco Circuit City will be closed after the Christmas holiday's and that closure will leave only one national competitor - Best Buy - left with a super electronic store that has almost everything a person could need when it comes to games, televisions and computers. I was one of the hundreds of Waco residents that was sad to see the local Best Buy move from their location near the Richland Mall to another location at I-35 and Loop 340. While the new Best Buy store is larger, it was handy to have that store closer to where most people live in the Central part of the city.

I guess it won't be long before I will be forced to shop at Best Buy for my electronic needs, but I sure wish my second favorite electronics store - Circuit City - would remain open because from my home I can get to their Waco location within five or ten minutes. There are so many problems with the US economy right now and I just hope that in the upcoming months the people with the money on Wall Street will be forced to play by some kind of rules so they don't continue to drag our economy down into the gutter.

Title: Circuit City To Remain Open In Waco, At Least Through The Christmas Holiday
Written: November 11, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Marijuana Raid Nets Waco Police $500,000 In Drugs Plus Cash/Nice Black Hummer

Who said that local, county and federal officials cannot work well together? On Friday, a joint effort between the Waco Police Department, McLennan County Sheriff's Office and DEA raided a McLennan County resident and seized 750 pounds of Marijuana (weed) that has a street value of at least $500,000. Along with this huge cash of illegal drugs, authorities said they also seized an H2 black Hummer - a Dodge Charger and numerous handguns and semi automatic weapons. This Waco raid took place on Chappel Hill Road, but as of now I do not know if this house was inside or outside the Waco city limits.

Considering the amount of Marijuana that was seized in this single raid and the population of Waco and McLennan County, the people that were arrested in this massive drug raid on Friday were undoubtedly big players in the local drug market. While authorities are not saying how they discovered this house which contained so many firearms and illegal drugs, common sense will cause most people to believe that someone tipped off local police or the DEA to what was going on at this house on Chappel Hill Road. During my years as a citizen of Waco, I have traveled down Chappel Hill Road on many different occasions and never once did I think that one of the houses I was passing by was dealing in this type of illegal drug operation.

Waco police say that three people were arrested in this huge drug raid on Friday and their names are: Javier Vences Sr., Javier Vences Jr. and Juan Morales. If current US law is the same as it has been in previous years, the 750 pounds of Marijuana that was seized in this raid will be burned in the future at some undisclosed locations and the money and other property that was bought with illegal drug proceeds will be turned over to local law enforcement. If that turns out to be the case, the Waco Police Department and McLennan County Sheriff's Office could be splitting a great sum of money, if these three defendants are eventually convicted on drug trafficking charges.

Title: Marijuana Raid Nets Waco Police $500,000 In Drugs Plus Cash/Nice Black Hummer
Written: November 11, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gas Prices Vary Widely At Different Waco Convenience Stores/Retail Locations

There was a time when a person could pretty much count on the fact that all convenience stores and other gas retailers would have the same price for a gallon of gas as other locations in Waco. However, after the spike in gas prices last summer and the regular drop that has been seen at the fuel pumps around town recently - I have noticed that the price of gas in Waco varies widely now and on some days, I have seen gas prices at different locations in Waco be as much as 20 to 25 cent per gallon different at convenience stores just blocks apart.

The latest example of this wide difference in gas prices can be found on Sanger Avenue near Loop 340 in Waco. Today at the 'Skinny's' convenience store the price of unleaded regular gas was $2.09 per gallon. However, just around the corner at the 'Valerio' convenience store - their price for that same gallon of gas was on $1.94. Either some people are just not paying attention to these big differences in gas prices or the folks that own 'Skinny's' don't want to sell that much gasoline to Waco consumers. There was a time when gas sales were used as a loss leader to get people into convenience stores, but now with pay at the pump options - there are countless people that fill up with gas, pay at the pump and then drive away.

Without anyone really saying it, I believe there is a gas war going on between H.E.B. and Walmart in Waco. If you ever want to make sure you are getting the best price on gas, just pull up to an H.E.B. Supermarket that is near a Walmart Super Center Store and you can be sure that both of these retail giants will have the same low price on gas and more than likely their price will be the lowest in Waco. Maybe I will get luck and someone from 'Skinny's will comment here and let me know why their gas is worth more money than the Valerio store just one block away.

Title: Gas Prices Vary Widely At Different Waco Convenience Stores/Retail Locations
Written: November 10, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Great Food Found At Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant - I-35/Loop 340 - Waco, Tx

There are dozens of new restaurants that have opened for business over the past few years here in Waco, but few of them are is good as a place called Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant. On our first visit to Don Carlos in Waco we went at dinner time and were shocked at how expensive the food selections were compared to many other Waco restaurants. However, in the end my wife and I decided to order one of the big dinner specials and split the meal between the two of us. That meal cost $15.99 plus tax and gratuity.

We both enjoy our meal very much and to be honest there was more than enough food to fill both of us up by ordering one entree and splitting the food between two people. On our way out, after that first visit, we noticed that Don Carlos Waco restaurant offers complementary paper menus for all guest to take with them as they are leaving. Those paper menus were the reason we have now gone back several times to eat at Don Carlos again. Like many other restaurants, Don Carlos in Waco offers most of their dinner entrees as lunch specials with most of them costing under five dollars.

The last time we visited Don Carlos Restaurant, my wife and I both ordered off of the lunch menu and since we drank water with our meal, the price for both of us came to about $12.00. Another perk at the Waco Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant is that on the lunch menu, complementary Queso is now being offered for a limited time and since we both love Queso - that little perk has been a constant benefit that keeps bringing us back to Don Carlos time and time again. The location of the Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant in Waco is at I-35 and Loop 340. For folks that remember the old 'Smokey Bones' Barbecue of Waco, the new Don Carlos Restaurant is located in that same building just one block south of the new Best Buy retail store.

Title: Great Food Found At Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant - I-35/Loop 340 - Waco, Tx
Written: November 10, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Purple Heart Club Honors Soldiers With New Monument At Waco VA Hospital

Yesterday, Congressman Chet Edwards and other dignitaries attended a dedication ceremony at the Waco VA Hospital of a new monument which honors members of the military that have been injured in battle. The 'Purple Heart Club' was responsible for raising the money for this new monument. Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the United States and like thousands of other people around the Waco area I will be thinking about the men and women who have sacrificed so much so that my family has the choice to live in a free nation.

Unfortunately, as this country has turned away from support of the War in Iraq - many Americans have also forgot that there are still over one hundred thousands US troops who are still serving in that far away nation. In my opinion, all soldiers are hero's because of the hard work they are doing while under the threat of violence each and every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States has a history of ignoring our veterans once a war is finished or if it falls out of favor with the people back home. We all should be ashamed of that attitude.

In my daily travels it is not uncommon to see a man or woman traveling the streets of Waco dressed in a military uniform. I always try to walk up to these soldiers, shake their hand and tell them how much I appreciate the sacrifice they are making for this great country. I have also found another way to honor our soldiers that seems to have a positive effect on them. When my wife and I are eating at a restaurant and we see a single solider or a group of them eating there as well - I sometimes ask the waitress to bring me their bill so I can pay it. I always ask the waitress not tell them that their meal has been paid for by a stranger until after we leave the restaurant.

Title: Purple Heart Club Honors Soldiers With New Monument At Waco VA Hospital
Written: November 10, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Margaret Mills Begins Serving Her Nine Year Prison Sentence On Monday

This morning, long time Waco resident Margaret Mills walked into the 54th District Court with her husband Coke at her side to formally be sentenced to nine years in prison. While this mornings court hearing for Mills was not a surprise to anyone, because all the details were worked out ahead of time - it did bring closure to the case of the former head of Downtown Waco Inc., who admitted stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from that organization over many years.

At today's sentencing hearing for Margaret Mills, a check for $100,000 was presented to the court on behalf of Mills - which will be given to the new head of Downtown Waco, Inc as part of her restitution to that organization. As today's short sentencing hearing drew to a close, Margaret Mills was turned over to a female deputy with the McLennan County Sheriff's Office to be processed before being transferred to the State of Texas prison system. Some experts believe Mills will be forced to serve at least two of her nine year sentence before she is eligible for parole.

As most Waco residents already know, there is a huge female prison facility located in Gatesville, Texas. My guess is that the State of Texas will house Margaret Mills at that facility once all of the paperwork is filed out and she is released to their custody. Today's smooth sentencing hearing for Mills would not have been possible if not for the help of four Waco civic leaders who each contributed $25,000 of their own money so she could make that $100,000 restitution payment this morning before she was sentenced to prison.

Title: Margaret Mills Begins Serving Her Nine Year Prison Sentence On Monday
Written: November 10, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Failed Franklin Bank Of Houston Had A Location In College Station, Texas

To my knowledge, Franklin Bank - which was closed by the FDIC last week did not have a branch operation in the Waco area, but I learned today that they did have a location in College Station. In fact, while talking to a friend from College Station today - I learned that not that many years ago, Franklin Bank bought the old First National Bank of College Station, Texas. So far, most people in the Waco area have been fortunate that our local banks and other financial institution have weathered the storm of recent FDIC closure activity and I for one certainly hope that trend will continue.

Last week I attended a meeting where the reasons for the current financial and Wall Street collapse were openly discussed and to be honest there are so many people to blame for this current mess that no single group of people or businesses are totally responsible for what went wrong in the sub-prime mortgage market. The good news for people in Waco and the rest of Central Texas is that our local banks were not as reckless when it came to making risky home mortgage loans as were some of the huge New York City banks like JP Morgan and Citibank.

While there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the cause of the recent Wall Street and bank meltdown resulting in a huge government bailout of $700 billion by the federal government, there were some people in charge of huge banks and brokerage firms that looked the other way while their subordinates set about a path of getting wealthy while at the same time driving huge multi billion dollar companies to the brink of bankruptcy. I certainly hope that the failure of Franklin Bank in College Station Texas does not spread to even more banks closer to Waco, because even though most deposits are federally insured - when a local bank fails it usually leads to some out of town bank taking up residence in their old locations.

Title: Failed Franklin Bank Of Houston Had A Location In College Station, Texas
Written: November 09, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat

I Just Love The New Chipotle Restaurant Near Valley Mills/Wooded Acres In Waco

Like most of the new restaurants that open up for business in the Waco area, one of our newest - Chipotle - was so busy the first couple of weeks after opening last summer that I waited a couple of months before trying it out. However, about one month ago my wife and I finally stopped into the new Waco Chipotle and we were not disappointed. What I like best about Chipotle is that their menu is so easy to read and while most new restaurants try to offer endless selections of food to order, Chipotle is not that way at all - but instead they offer burritos and tacos in a simple straight forward fashion and their food quality is fantastic.

This afternoon we visited the Waco Chipotle once again and like our previous visits we both enjoyed a burrito from their menu. In my family, I like my food spicy while my wife enjoys more mild fair when we eat out. At Chipotle, we can order our burrito the way we each of us like it. On today's visit I felt exceptionally bold so I had them put a large portion of their HOT sauce on my burrito and when I left the restaurant I was glad that it was a cool day in Waco because I needed that cool air to act like a fire extinguisher for my mouth. The neat thing about eating really hot and spicy food is that about an hour afterward a persons whole body feels better because the body releases powerful endorphins.

If you live in Waco and have not tried out the new Chipoltle Restaurant, you might want to stop by some time and check it out. One other thing, when I say that the Waco Chipoltle has burritos, please don't confuse the term burrito with some small ones you might have had for breakfast. The burritos at the Waco Chipoltle are huge even by big Texas standards and there are some very good choices of fillings that can make your burrito perfect.

Title: I Just Love The New Chipotle Restaurant Near Valley Mills/Wooded Acres In Waco
Written: November 09, 2008
2008 © Waco Newsbeat