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Acronyms make for a queasy alphabet soup

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, September 15, 2012

Although I work with words, individual letters often give me a headache.

I have my favorites, like “K” and “T” (my initials) but when you start stringing several together to form acronyms, my brain turns to mush.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

Covering a city council or county commissioners meeting often feels like you’re choking on alphabet soup because any given agenda item includes a hearty helping of acronyms.

Just this week commissioners were considering a cost-share program to help pay for breach analysis and dam studies in Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (WCID).

Sounds simple enough.

But before I could wrap my head around “breach studies,” the acronyms started flying.

Public Works Director Tom Goode told commissioners the WCID would pay for the four studies in the Big Sandy and Salt Creek areas. Since then TCEQ had returned more emergency action plans, and the county would need to cost-share those with SWCD.

They’re about $6,000 each, and the work would be done by M&E Consultants, he said.

By this time, everyone was quietly snickering, and my notes were a mess. I wasn’t sure who was doing what.

More jokes were made and after a little guffawing, Tom slyly added: “and that’s just FYI.”

“Well, that’s A-OK,” said the judge.

More laughter.

“And all of this so it won’t cause a “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” said the judge, referencing a Tammy Wynette hit from 1968 and the entities’ attempts to all get along.

When the above code is deciphered, it reveals that commissioners were talking about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (WCID) and the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

I’ve been covering them long enough that I’m familiar with most of the acronyms they use, but I’ll admit, sometimes I just scribble down the letters and look it up later.

I never trust myself to remember NCTCOG, also commonly referred to as COG, all of which stands for North Central Texas Council of Governments. In this case, even the acronym is a mouthful.

Because of what we do, these alphabetic collections fill our pages. Besides those mentioned above, you may regularly see DPS, TxDOT, CPS, WARM, WCWC, EDC, ISD, FCCLA, SADD, FFA … the list is neverending.

Our job is to also tell you what these mean: Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation, Child Protective Services, Wise Area Relief Mission, Weatherford College Wise County, Economic Development Corporation, Independent School District, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, Students Against Destructive Decisions and FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America.

In 1988, the latter organization had a Prince moment, opting to change its name to National FFA Organization. The F, F and A now have no specific words associated with them.

I suspect that may be the case with all acronyms, someday, or even PDQ.

Otherwise, I could go AWOL.

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