Lewisville Lake Armadillos Dutch oven cooking group stand in front of the feast they prepared in LL Woods Park on Saturday, March 1st, 2014(Photo by Steve Southwell)
By Steve Southwell
The Lewisville Lake Armadillos meet the first Saturday of each month in a local park to share their enthusiasm for Dutch oven cooking. At these “DOGs” (Dutch oven gatherings), they not only learn recipes and techniques from one another, but they share the resulting feast smorgasbord style when the food is done, like a big happy, extended family. At their invitation, I joined them on a beautiful day last Saturday to see and taste for myself.
For the uninitiated, a Dutch oven is a round cast-iron pot with feet, and a heavy cast-iron lid with a raised rim. To cook in them, you typically place the pot on a layer of burning coals or charcoal briquets, then place briquets on top of the lid. The heavy iron conducts heat evenly, and bakes the contents, melding the flavors nicely. Until Saturday, my only experience with them had been at the occasional Cub Scout camp-out, where the leaders had used them in the campfire to cook peach cobbler. What I didn’t realize was how versatile the cookers are, and how seriously some devotees take the art (or shall I say “science”) of cooking in them.
Lewisville resident Steven Sick along with his wife Stacy, organized the Lewisville Lake Armadillos as a local chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society. Although Steven Sick and his wife were not at the March cookout that I attended, their family was well represented. Deborah Sick was there cooking up a wonderful cabbage dish, and Craig Sick was making several interesting things, most notably “Hot Dogs Jubilee” - a simple mixture of cherry pie filling and cut up frankfurters. I got the sense there is a bit of competition for concocting things that are a bit out of the ordinary.
Selected Statewide and U.S. Offices In the race for U.S. Senate, John Cornyn handily beat Tea Party challenger Steve Stockman. On the Democratic side, David Alameel faces a runoff with LaRouche candidate Kesha Rogers, after getting 47% of the vote.
In the Governor's race, favorites Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis will face each other in November.
In the Lt. Governor's race, it will be a runoff between Dan Patrick with 41.5% and David Dewhurst with 28.3% of the vote. The winner will face Democrat Leticia Van De Putte in November.
In U.S. House District 26, Republican incumbent Michael Burgess easily wins his primary with 83%. There is no Democratic challenger this year.
In U.S. House District 24, Kenny Marchant was unopposed, and faces Democrat Patrick McGehearty in November
Republicans Ken Paxton and Dan Branch will face one another in the runoff for Attorney General, and the winner will face Democrat Sam Houston in the general election.
In the race for Comptroller, Hegar, with 50% might narrowly win without a runoff, or may face Hilderbran (26%).
Wayne Christian will face Ryan Sitton in the Republican runoff for Texas Railroad Commission. Steve Brown won his race on the Democratic side for RRC.
Incumbents won all of their races for Texas Supreme Court
Denton County State Reps: - District 63 incumbent Tan Parker was unopposed and will face Democrat Daniel Moran in November - District 64 incumbent Myra Crownover beat challenger Read King with 55% and will face Democrat Emy Lyons in November - District 65 incumbent Ron Simmons was unopposed and will face Democrat Alex Mendoza in November - District 106 incumbent Pat Fallon was unopposed and will face Democrat Lisa Osterhold in November
County Judge Mary Horn has beat off two challengers, and will avoid a runoff with 54% of the vote. There is no Democratic challenger.
In the race for District Attorney, incumbent Paul Johnson received 43% of the vote, and will face a runoff with challenger Karen Alexander. There is no Democratic challenger.
In the race for County Criminal Court 5, Coby Waddill beats Vic Rivera with 63% of the vote.
Justice of the Peace pct. 3 Becky Kerbow (Lewisville) was unopposed and faces no Democratic challenger in November
In JP Precinct 4, it will be a runoff between Republicans J Hand with 39% and Harris Hughey with 27%.
In JP Precinct 5, it will be a runoff between Republicans Cynthia Mitchell with 23% and Mike Oglesby with 19%
In JP Precinct 6, Gary Blanscet beat Tom Washington with 53%.
Former Lewisville police officer and current precinct 1 Constable Jesse Flores was upset by former Deputy, Johnny Hammons, who had 65% of the vote. More background on that race here.
Republican Party County Chair Dianne Edmondson beat challenger Labib Basta of Lewisville with over 99% of the vote. Democratic Party Chair Phyllis Wolper was unopposed and retains her seat.
Elsewhere: State Rep Lon Burnam narrowly lost his primary (by 111 votes) to Domingo Garcia-backed candidate Ramon Romero.
State Senator John Carona has been defeated by challenger Don Huffines, with 50.6% of the vote.
U.S. Rep Ralph Hall in District 4 will face a runoff with John Ratcliffe after only garnering 45.4%
Primary runoff elections are May 27th, with early voting May 19th-23rd.
The change in service results in a $1.11 per month decrease in customers' bills, whereas continuing with the same level of twice-weekly trash pickups would have cost an additional $0.85 per month. The $1.96 difference would have added $23.52 per year to each bill, or a cost of about 45 cents each for the 52 extra pickups. Waste Management will issue 96 gallon trash and recycling carts. The carts are 50% larger than the city's current recycling carts. Part of the goal is to encourage more recycling and less trash to extend the life of the landfill.
The Council also added mandatory recycling for apartments, which will be required to take on recycling dumpsters, and pay an additional cost of $1.18 per unit.
Other service options, such as bulky waste pickup and dump privileges remain the same under the new plan.
Texas’ March 4th Democratic and Republican Primary elections are less than a month away, and early voting starts on Feburary 18th. We will be posting information about what is on the ballot and where and when to vote. We invite readers to post their civil and well-reasoned arguments in the comments below, about the candidates and parties they favor.
About Primaries in Texas Primary elections are elections to determine who each political party’s nominees will be for the general election in November, 2014. The winning nominee from each party will face each other in November, Voting in a party primary affiliates the voter with that party for the full two-year cycle. Although voters in Texas do not register in parties, voters cannot vote in another party’s primary or sign a nomination petition for a candidate who is a member of another party or running as an independent. You may switch parties any time you like, but you may not vote in another party’s primary runoff once you have voted in your original party’s primary for that year. Voting in a primary election does not obligate you to vote for the same candidate in the general election. For this reason, voters in Texas often will cross over and vote in another party’s primary in order to affect the outcome. In our area, most elections are decided in the Republican primaries, so many Democrats will choose to vote in the Republican primary in order to choose the better candidate. In 2008, Republicans crossed over to the Democratic primary, since Texas had a huge say in the Democratic presidential race. The Libertarian party chooses candidates by convention, and independent candidates pay a filing fee and must collect signatures in order to get on the ballot.
About Voting in Texas Voters must be have been registered 30 days prior to the election, and must provide an appropriate form of photo identification such as a Texas Drivers License, Texas ID, Military ID, or Passport that is no more than 60 days expired. If you received a current voter card in the mail, it will list your precinct, which you will need to know if you choose to wait until election day to vote. Denton County voters can check their registration and precinct information online here.
Hide your wallets and shield the children, because they're voting down in Texas. Texas Republicans will be testing the strength of the Tea Party as they pick their first post-Rick Perry slate of statewide candidates since the 1980s. But Texas Democrats might end up missing Perry, as there is a decent shot that Republicans will nominate not their best-qualified, most-electable candidates but an entire clown car full of crazypants.
Let's start at the top of the ticket, where incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, rated the second-most conservative senator in 2012, was apparently not conservative enough to escape a primary challenge. Into that breach leapt Steve Stockman, the congressman who once Tweeted, "If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted." This race should have been great fun, but Stockman has campaigned mostly by hiding from public view and skipping votes in congress. Going into the candidate protection program is working. One poll shows Stockman could force Cornyn into a runoff.
Below Greg Abbott on the ballot is a quartet of candidates for lieutenant governor, the most reasonable of whom advocates changing the 14th Amendment to prevent anchor babies from attaining citizenship. All of the Republicans seeking this office oppose abortion exceptions for rape and incest and supported keeping a dead woman on life support because she was pregnant. Even on this stage, state Sen. Dan Patrick, who faces good odds to advance to the next round, stands out for calling undocumented immigrants an "illegal invasion." What's smart in a Texas Republican primary can be politically fatal in a state that's 40 percent Hispanic.
Consumers asked to conserve electricity Monday morning
AUSTIN, TX, March 2, 2014, 7 p.m. – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), grid operator for most of Texas, is asking electric consumers to limit their electric use as much as possible on Monday morning, March 3.
“The cold weather and accompanying wind that has spread across the region today is expected to result in high electric demand for tomorrow’s peak,” said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of System Operations. “Based on the level of generation supplies that we expect to be available, we are asking consumers throughout the ERCOT region to reduce their electricity use as much as possible Monday morning.”
Consumers can help ensure the system is able to continue serving current power needs by taking the following steps to reduce demand Monday morning:
- Keep your thermostat as low as is comfortable, preferably no higher than 68 degrees. - Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances. - Avoid running large appliances, such as washers, dryers and electric ovens. - Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. - Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes. - Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
“We have asked all available generation units to be prepared for tomorrow morning’s demand, but we believe conservation by consumers also will be necessary to help maintain overall reliability during this extreme winter weather,” said Woodfin.
Today is Texas Independence Day. On March 2nd, 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico. In honor of Texas Independence Day, we hoisted the Texas flag here at the house, cooked a pot of Texas Red last night, and drank a couple of Shiners. You might say we’re just a little proud of being born in Texas, but we thank our lucky Lone Star that Texas joined the United States of America. You can learn more about the brief history of Texas independence here.
I’ve generally considered Texas Tribune to be a decent and reliable source of news in Texas, and from time to time we re-publish their stories. We have even at times considered going non-profit to follow their model. But they've been getting some criticism for taking money from big donors who have an interest in avoiding bad coverage. The criticisms there do cause me to reflect on our own operation and how we might avoid that kind of bias. Even if you take money completely out of the equation, it is easy to find yourself thinking twice before publishing something derogatory about a newsmaker who provides you with access and information.
We recently had a big conversation on the City of Lewisville Facebook group regarding license plate recognition systems, and specifically the storage of data in them. Councilman Neil Ferguson wrote a response, which we posted here. I wanted to share with you the article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the national database. I would just say that I’m wary about there being too much storage of that information, and the potential for abuse. The information collected definitely is useful in law enforcement; I don’t dispute that. It loses utility the longer you keep it. At some point, the usefulness crosses below a point where it outweighs the potential for abuse. I don’t know where that point is, but I hope that Lewisville Police Department and others will keep that in mind when determining how much data to keep.
This is some interesting drama: Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs bought a condo in Dallas for some reason, and is involved in a lawsuit because he refuses to return a $175,000 piece of art that was in the unit. He bought the unit as-is, and without an inspection, but is holding the art hostage over what he considers to be defects in the unit.
As you know, the Lewisville City Council as well as surrounding cities took steps to reduce the availability of e-cigarettes to minors. This NPR article discusses the rationale (or lack thereof) for banning their usage. For what it’s worth, I don’t feel there is enough evidence of harm from second-hand vapor to justify any bans. But property owners are free to do as they wish for their own establishments.
Here is something that gets me: We left-leaning folks genuinely believe in the process of science, and we think science should not only be taught in schools, but should shape public policy. We poke fun at idiots like Joe Barton, and the people who want to teach creationism as if it’s a scientific theory with equal footing as evolution. Yet, so many of our lefties also are willing to set aside discernment and jump on all sorts of bandwagons where the science is either non-existent, or has been totally ignored. A lot of folks are familiar with the Facebook page “I Fu**ing Love Science”, but do you know about “I fu**ing hate pseudoscience”? I recommend that everyone who professes to love science follow both - especially the latter.
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson lives on a luxury estate in Denton County near Bartonville. He has joined a lawsuit against the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., which is building a water tower near his home. The lawsuit claims it will be an eyesore and hurt his property value, which is the main BS argument. What had gas drilling opponents fuming, and asserting hypocrisy was the suit’s assertion that the tower could be used to supply drilling operations, and that would result in a lot of truck traffic. Here is an open letter to Tillerson from a former oil company executive who now fights against the industry’s practice of “fracking” or hydraulic fracture stimulation.
Flower Mound will not have a city election this year because none of their candidates drew opponents. This could work to the disadvantage of Flower Mound candidates in the LISD races. Those candidates usually have an advantage because of Flower Mound’s high voter turnout.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Excuse me if I’m appalled at the negative reaction to this sculpture by some folks who think Jesus wouldn’t be a ‘vagrant’.
The big international story right now comes out of Ukraine, where citizens ousted the Russian-affiliated leader, and Russian troops have now occupied Crimea. President Obama warned that there would be a price for Russia’s actions there. Here is a map that can help you understand the situation, and here is an article that explains some of the history behind Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea. It’s not a clear-cut situation of Russia invading because they just want it. Russia clearly has some interests to protect, but we should be concerned about the unilateral nature of their actions. I’m not sure their motives are entirely summed up by what they have stated. Nevertheless, the US has confronted them about it, and when two nuclear superpowers have words like, it concerns me greatly.
After a beautiful sunny Saturday, temperatures are expected to drop quickly in the early hours Sunday morning, and frozen precipitation will fall on North Texas. North Texas is under a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY Sunday from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Most of the region will likely see some freezing rain and/or sleet Sunday and Sunday evening. Accumulations are more likely north and northwest of a line from Killeen to Palestine. Total ice accumulations are expected to be less than a tenth of an inch. Total sleet accumulations are expected to be less than half an inch. Sleet accumulations closer to half an inch are more likely to occur within isolated afternoon thunderstorms. The highest accumulations within the region are expected in areas east and northeast of a Gainesville to Canton line. If higher accumulations are expected in this area, a winter storm warning may be needed.
The greatest impacts due to sleet and ice on Sunday will occur north of a Breckenridge to DFW to Emory line. Hazardous travel conditions are expected in this area. Many bridges, overpasses, and secondary roads will likely be icy and some main roads may also become icy. In addition, any sleet will also result in hazardous road conditions. South of this area but north of a Comanche to Palestine line, ice and sleet will likely cause bridges and overpasses to ice. Roadways will largely remain free of ice, but slick spots will likely still form on roadways. Travel could become hazardous. Across our far southern counties, some freezing rain or sleet may occur that could result in slick spots on bridges and overpasses. Roadways are expected to remain free of ice.
There is uncertainty about the extent of Sunday's winter weather and the potential impacts. Here is what we know as well as some unknowns that could alter the eventual impacts.
An arctic cold front will move through North and Central Texas on Sunday with temperatures falling rapidly behind the front. The front should move through the DFW metroplex before daybreak, through Waco before mid morning, and through Killeen and Temple before 11 AM.
The man who robbed pharmacies in Lewisville and Flower Mound at gunpoint last August could have received up to 20 years in prison, but instead was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication and probation. But the robber, Daniel Khan of Lewisville, who was just 22 years old at the time of the crime, will not be on the streets soon, and will have to adhere to some pretty strict terms of probation, or risk going to prison.
On August 13th, Khan robbed a CVS pharmacy in Lewisville - not for money, but for drugs. Again on August 25th, Khan held up a Walgreens in Flower Mound, demanding oxycodone and other drugs. A witness provided Flower Mound police with a license plate, and he was arrested at his home on Vista View in Lewisville. Chilling surveillance video from the Lewisville robbery showed a nervous Khan waving the handgun around.
We wanted to understand why the perpetrator of a crime that could have turned out so badly could end up with just probation in the case, so we reached out to attorney Richard Gladden, who practices criminal law in Denton. Gladden wasn’t involved in this case, but has some experience with cases of this nature.
Gladden reviewed the plea bargain agreements and the orders we obtained in the case, and explained that in exchange for a guilty plea, Judge Margaret Barnes ordered deferred adjudication in the case, which effectively sets a bargain that if Khan can meet the terms of a stringent probation for 10 years, the 2nd degree felony charges would be dropped, and Khan could avoid prison. The deal was likely offered due to him having little or no criminal history, and because his crime was related to a drug problem. The probation terms include participation in an SAFP (Substance Abuse Felony Punishment) program.