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Making a Mess http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess Where Communication Meets Community Journalism Wed, 12 Feb 2014 01:15:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 If an eighth grader ran for president… http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2475 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2475#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 21:59:58 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2475 As part of a unit on the presidential election, students in Larry Owens’ English/language arts class at Bridgeport Middle School devised their own platforms based on the issues they found pertinent. Here are a few of the topics some of the students addressed:

  • Nathaniel Strother — “I would help provide teachers with better ideas on how to do more hands-on things so the kids can be more involved and raise standradized testing scores. My old school was one of those exemplary places so I wouldn’t aim for that school. I’d aim for some of the smaller schools, like here, that are having trouble.”
  • Jake Martinez — “The one thing I would really like to address is hackers, scammers. One of my cousins lost $3,000 in a scam. We need to take care of things like that.”
  • Tyler Banner — “I would lower the driving age so teens wouldn’t have to rely on their parents to get to places. They could get their permit when they were 14 and their license when they are 15. But I would make the test harder, and if they failed it two times, they couldn’t get their license until they were 17.”

See the midweek edition of the Messenger, on newsstands tomorrow, for more “student platforms” and to see how the middle school voted in a mock presidential election.

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Blessed moments http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2471 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2471#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:17:02 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2471 Wise County Special Needs Baseball volunteers are just as much the heart of the organization as its participants. The midweek edition of the Messenger, on stands tomorrow, features a story on the Jones family of Rhome. Parents Mark and Lori and their sons Brett, 17, and Ethan, 12, regularly volunteer — batting with players, holding their hands as they run around the bases and cheering on their feats.

Several of their most treasured memories (“blessed moments” they called them) made while volunteering were not included in the story due to space. So they are shared here:

“Teddy (Baker, 56) was my buddy last week. He was constantly asking, ‘What’s the score.’ Gail, his coach, had warned me that he would constantly be asking and she told me to tell him it was ‘2 to 2, at the bottom of the seventh.’ So I would, and he’d get so excited and convinced he needed to steal base. We were at first base and so I said, ‘Teddy, steal second.’ He asked, ‘Do you think I should?’ I said, ‘Just do it.’ And he took off. It was the funniest thing. Everybody was cheering. Some of the coaches were like, ‘There goes Teddy, stealing bases again.’” — Lori

“One player, Brandon, every time he would hit the ball, he would try to run straight up the middle toward the pitcher instead of first base. He was so energetic. I love getting to watch the kids’ reaction after the fit the ball. Even if it’s a foul ball or straight up in the air, they get so happy.” — Ethan

“My favorite part is the party at the end of the season.” — Ethan

“When they get there, they don’t waste anytime getting to the field. They get to field as fast as possible, and they’ll all be out there chatting up and having fun. It’s cool to see how excited they get.” Brett

“I’ve heard stories from their favorite sport is baseball, and then they’ll go off and name their favorite players … they’re into it, they’re excited. They want to hit just like that person or catch just like that person. You’re there to encourage them to do that. They know their baseball. They really love the game of baseball.” — Lori

“Some of the kids are very shy. It’s almost like the parents have to drag them to get going. But once they get started, then they really enjoy it.” — Mark

“There are a lot of teenagers that get out there and help. It’s fun to watch them interact. You can really see a difference and how the other kids look up to them. It’s an awesome thing to watch. And the expression on parent’s face watching their kids having such a good time, interacting with other kids. It’s priceless.” — Mark



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The day the earth shook http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2466 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2466#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 16:43:00 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2466 Many people who know me or have read my stories, columns or blogs over the years know I love baseball. I even tell people I can name the exact date when I became an official baseball fan: Aug. 22, 1989. That was the day Nolan Ryan got his 5,000th strikeout, and I was hooked.

So that World Series in the fall of 1989 was the first one I had ever watched. It was the “Battle by the Bay” between Oakland and San Francisco. It was the same Oakland Athletics team that Nolan had faced a couple of months earlier for his milestone moment.

I remember being at my grandmother’s house (she was the only other one in my family at the time who loved baseball and is the reason I’m a baseball fan today) in a back room watching Game 3 on a small television set with the rabbit ears.

It was 23 years ago today.

So what was so special about Game 3? The pre-game show started normally. They showed highlights from the first two games of the series, both won by Oakland. Now the series shifted a few miles to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were doing their introduction.

Suddenly, the picture got a little static-y, and I remember hearing Al say “We’re having an earth -” and then nothing. I remember walking to the front of the house and telling family members, “I think an earthquake just hit San Francisco.” I don’t remember what was being watched on the “big TV” up to that point, but now we had it on coverage of the earthquake.

I looked up some information on the earthquake prior to writing this blog, and I had forgotten just how much worse it could have been.First, you had a stadium full of people – if, say, the upper deck had collapsed, thousands would have died. But since the game hadn’t started yet, only about half the people were in their seats, lowering the maximum load of the upper deck. A seismic-strengthening project had also previously been completed on the upper deck.

And due to the early 5 p.m. start of the game, many people had left early either to attend the game, watch it at home, or stayed late at work to watch it with co-workers. In other words, the normally heavy rush hour traffic was remarkably light that day. If you’ll recall, several bridges collapsed as a result of the quake. Several did die, but it could have been a lot worse.

Kind of puts things in perspective as I recover from my disappointment of my Texas Rangers failing to reach the World Series for a third straight year.

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Photos at your fingertips http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2458 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2458#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2012 18:24:55 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2458 Ever seen a Joe Duty photo that you absolutely love?

What about a picture in the paper of your kid? You know it would look great in a frame on your mantle.

In an effort to share our photos with others and get prints to those who so desperately want them, the Messenger has set up a new site where readers can easily order copies of our photos.

Visit wcmessenger.com/reprints to start browsing. We also have a link posted on our homepage, if that’s easier.

Once there, the site is simple and intuitive. The photos are organized by the issue in which they appeared and by event. You choose the photo you would like, pick the size and indicate if you would like it printed on paper or canvas. You “check out” like any other online shopping site, and the photos are shipped directly to you. It’s that easy.

And here’s a little secret: There are tons of photos on this site that never made it to the pages of the Mess. We spend countless hours covering events around the county but can’t get every photo in the paper due to limited space. Now, through this site, we can share them with you!

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Prairie View Elementary educator named KLTY Teacher of the Month http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2454 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2454#comments Tue, 09 Oct 2012 21:06:50 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2454 Prairie View Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Samera Doroodchi was named the 94.9 KLTY CareNow Teacher of the Month.

Today, she was recognized at Hawk Huddle, a morning school-wide assembly (Read more in the midweek edition of the Messenger).

The segment of the phone call notifying Doroodchi of the recognition aired last Monday. Listen to it by clicking the link below.

100112-Teacher of the Month

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Move over snowmageddon, here comes Gandolf http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2448 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2448#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2012 19:52:29 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2448

Image provided by Wikipedia

Who says meteorology is boring?

There appears to be a controversy brewing this week among meteorologists over the Weather Channel’s decision to start naming major winter storms, similar to the way tropical storms and hurricanes are named.

Here’s part of the Weather Channel’s reasoning, according to a story posted on its weather.com web site posted by Tom Niziol:

“Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation.”

Storms will not be named more than three days in advance of impact “to ensure there is moderate to strong confidence the system will produce significant effects on a populated area.”

Looking at the list of names, it looks like the Weather Channel used a mixture of Greek mythology and action or fantasy films. How else do you explain names such as Athena, Helan, Luna and Zeus along with Gandolf, Rocky and Khan? One is even “Q,” which the Weather Channel explains is “The Broadway Express subway line in New York City.”

Oddly, the names Frosty, Jack Frost, Snowflake, Flurry Fury, Dr. Freeze and Vanilla Ice didn’t make the cut, apparently. We’ll just have to miss a scene like this:

TV Weatherman: “For those in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area, Vanilla Ice will move into the area on Thursday, bringing with it the threat of six inches of snowfall and below freezing temperatures. It will be too cold too cold. Word to your mother – seriously, check on elderly neighbors to make sure they are OK.”

Many meteorologists aren’t in a joking mood, however, over all this. Here’s a comment I had in my inbox Wednesday from Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and President:

“In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety and is doing a disservice to the field of meteorology and public service,” Myers said.

He went on to say that unlike hurricanes which are usually well-defined and move along a patch that can be predicted, winter storms are erratic, affecting different areas unevenly.

Much of the negative feedback from the meteorology community seems to be based on the fact that the Weather Channel seemed to take it upon themselves to name storms and expect other weather forecasters to jump on board. Many claim that the move is simply a marketing attempt rather than a sincere desire to raise public awareness about potentially dangerous storms.

I’m convinced newspaper headline writers must have been on the naming committee. Wanna bet we see “The wrath of Khan” on a front page at some point? How about “Rocky lands knockout punch”? Maybe “Gandolf to motorists: You shall not pass.” (And before any Lord of the Rings fans point out my misspelling of Gandalf, I’m using the spelling provided on the Weather Channel web site.)

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Oopsa Dazee and Okee Dokee’s debut http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2446 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2446#comments Tue, 02 Oct 2012 23:20:47 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2446 Tomorrow’s edition of the Messenger features a story on Carolyn Bassham and her son, Brian, making their debut as Oopsa Dazee and Okee Dokee the clowns.

Brian graciously volunteered to join his mother, filling the void left by his dad Alvin, who passed away this summer. Carolyn and Alvin had clowned for 15 years since the early ’90s.

The couple was recruited to the Wise County Clown Alley by Clara Clay and her husband, Henry, who they knew from Garden Club.

“Well I never thought about clowning in my life, you know,” Carolyn said. “They invited me to come, and I thought, ‘Well, I don’t know’ off and on all through the day. I asked Alvin if he wanted to go, and he said he don’t think he wanted to go. And I thought no, but then at the last I thought, ‘Oh I will. They’re so sweet.’”

Members of the Cowtown Clown Alley out of Fort Worth attended the meeting to help the local clowns get started. Carolyn took to one clown in particular, Cecily Conklin, who later became a clown for the Ringling Brothers Circus.

With the help of the Cowtown Alley, the Basshams were founders of the Wise County Clowns.

“We had it for several years, but Henry and Clara were older people and we had quite a few older people. It gets hard when you’re older,” Carolyn said. “We had some young ones, too. But they went on. They were clowns to help put themselves through college. But they went on and moved away. So it just kind of disbanded. I wish we still had it. I’d like to have a clown alley. But I’m not up to starting one.”

Back then, Carolyn also held a summer clown camp at her home.

“We had a bright-colored Jeep that we fixed up for this,” she said. “We taught them how to put their makeup on, and we came up with costumes and we would to go to The Hills to put on a show. I was just amazed how young people can be with the residents.”

In her second debut, Carolyn hopes she and her son have the opportunity to visit with residents through gospel clowning and religious skits.

“We are just so tickled to get to do this,” she said. “It will be fun.”

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Gangnam what? http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2441 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2441#comments Wed, 26 Sep 2012 22:00:55 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2441 I’m not the best person to ask about popular culture. I’m more likely to read the Washington Post than the National Enquirer, or watch CNN rather than TMZ.

So I had never heard of the phenomenom that is South Korean pop star Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video. Apparently I’m the only person who hasn’t seen this video, since it has been viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube.

So I didn’t immediately click on an email I received last week saying that some local folks had made a parody of the video (apparently, according to the Google, making parodies of the video is as popular as the video itself.)

But I have to admit, putting together a parody of a video, especially one with as much going on it as this video has, is quite the feat. So, without further ado, I present our local Center for Animal Research and Education in Bridgeport with Gangnam Style Big Cats.

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Animal tales http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2425 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2425#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 18:19:38 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2425

This guy lives in our parking lot. Or nearby.

He was the Messenger’s unofficial mascot for a couple of weeks. We would go to our vehicles at lunch time to find him resting in their shade. Or walk out the back to find him playing at the bottom of the steps. Even in the rain, he would run from some unknown hiding place to greet us in the morning or tell us goodbye at night.

Several of us considered taking him home, but many of us, like me, already have at least two dogs and can’t take on another right now. None of us dared name him, although we did consider bringing him in the newsroom on more than one occasion. (Don’t tell the powers that be.)

I haven’t seen him since last week, but his tummy looked full, a sign which I hope means he’s found a new home. We’ll miss him at the Mess but would feel better knowing he’s found a forever family.


In other animal news, remember this guy?

The panic-stricken kitty that was tangled in a high-line wire Aug. 30 has been adopted, according to a post by Wise County Animal Shelter volunteer Brenda Argraves on the Messenger Facebook page. After being rescued by Rhome firefighter Katy Wacasey and medic Jacob Souder, the feline was taken to Boyd Animal Hospital where it was given a shot for pain. It was later quarantined by Wise County Animal Control because it bit two people during the rescue.

The cat reportedly recovered from its traumatic experience and continues to heal with a new, loving caretaker.




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Front porches http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2434 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2434#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 02:11:28 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/blogs/mess/?p=2434 I came across a story in USA Today this week about the rise in the number of new homes being constructed with front porches. The story said that this trend “hints at a shift in the way Americans want to live: in smaller houses and dense neighborhoods that promote walking and social interaction.”

Interestingly, the story points out that the trend of back porches or decks seems to be declining.

Now the story is mainly talking about urban areas. Out here in Wise County and other more rural locales, the front porch (and back porch) is alive and well.

Still, it could indicate an interesting trend. With all of the technology at our fingertips, actual face-to-face social interaction has seemed to decline in recent years. Could we be seeing the beginning of a shift back to more “human” interaction?

From the USA Today story: “The front porch acts as a social mechanism,” says Christopher Leinberger, president of Smart Growth America’s LOCUS, a coalition of developers and investors who promote walking over driving.

“You sit on the porch and talk to people walking by without having to invite them in. It’s outdoor space without taking up too much space.”

I guess the reason the story caught my eye (other than the fact that I’ve been spending more time on my own front porch during recent evenings with the cooler temperatures) is the fact that we’ve talked in newsroom meetings in the past about doing such a story locally. I think our photographer, Joe Duty, has even scouted out some local front porches he’d love to shoot.

But a front porch itself won’t make a story. The people who use them have the stories. So how about it? Anybody have some favorite front porch stories to share?

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