Lewisville Texan Journal Group winners from left to right: Mr. and Mrs Terry Fuller, Tim Lane, Jennifer Lane, Seth Southwell (back), Alex Linde (front), Jennifer Linde, Councilman TJ Gilmore (back), Emma Linde (front), Brandon Cooper (back), Steve Southwell (front), Brent Daniels (back), Gwen Simpson,Todd Simpson, Cooper Daniels (back), Zak Simpson, Nathan McLain, and KLB ED Amy Wells. LTJ won for adult large group, picking up over 90 bags of trash from a local waterway that is a new addition to the Spring Clean Up area list. (Photo provided by KLB)
Keep Lewisville Beautiful celebrated its 27th annual citywide cleanup on Saturday April 20, 2013. This free event was held in conjunction with the Keep Texas Beautiful Trash Off and the Keep American Beautiful Great America Clean Up activities. Over 522 volunteers showed community spirit by working hard and picking up 5 tons of litter off of Lewisville streets, parks, historic cemeteries, and creeks. Volunteers contributed 2,350 volunteer hours valued at $53,040 in litter abatement services for the City of Lewisville. KLB Director Amy Wells says the 522 participants set a record for the Spring Cleanup, beating last year's record of 409 people, and picking up much more than the usual 2 - 3 tons of trash per event.
Lunch, T-shirts, goody bags, and door prizes were provided by KLB and event donors. A big thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers who worked so hard to make Lewisville a better place to work, live, and play! Five teams were awarded trophies for their hard work: Youth group winners included Boy Scout Troop #162 who picked up 10 bags of trash and Independence Elementary who picked up 30 bags of trash around their LISD campus. For the adult groups, the Hlatky family won with 50+ bags of trash with just 3 volunteers on their team and the Lewisville Texan Journal team led by Steve Southwell won with over 90 bags of trash collected from a creek. EA Engineering won the trophy for the most unusual trash for bringing back a leather recliner, a baby carrier bike attachment, and a broken trampoline that were dumped in a field along Hwy 121.
Once again, I've fallen behind in updates. My brain has been mostly engaged my my paid employment, and I've been too beat down to spend as much time as I normally like to.
Saturday, LTJ's cleanup team participated in the Keep Lewisville Beautiful Spring Cleanup. We are told that our team collected 90 bags of trash. The area we cleaned up was probably the worst litter area I have ever seen, and it was in and along Timber Creek and its tributary streams. Once again, I am thankful for our 15 volunteers who turned out and not only put a way bigger dent in this area's litter problem than I thought we would, but also brought home our team's 5th trophy for large group. Thanks to the Lanes, the Simpsons, the Lindes, then Daniels, Cooper, Stephens, and Gilmore. We'll have to schedule another one for that location at some point to get the rest. Whenever we get the final stats from KLB, we'll post an article.
I only have a few links today:
Behind many major screw-ups these days is an Excel spreadsheet. It’s great software when you use it right, but if you set the formulas wrong, it’s easy to convince yourself of the wrong thing. In this case, pundits and politicians were quick to use a flawed study to justify their ideology of austerity, when the actual mathematical results (had they been calculated correctly) would have shown the opposite.
Here are my thoughts on the disaster in West: It indicates a huge failure in regulation at all levels. We don't just have regulations in place for the hell of it. Regulations are meant to save lives and protect property. What we had here was a private company with private profits, but socialized risk. We have 15 dead now, and scores injured, and many have lost their homes because materials were stored improperly.
Unlike terrorism, where there is malicious intent, and the evil will always find ways to circumvent our best efforts, these types of disasters are almost 100% preventable. You can regulate the amounts being stored together, you can regulate locations, and you can regulate safety practices and fire prevention. You can require that ammonium nitrate only be stored in areas with adequate fire protection from sprinklers.
I also have to say that this disaster should illustrate with crystal clarity WHY we have zoning laws, and why modern cities do not allow certain industrial uses within residential areas. This is why we didn't lose our heads and allow gas drilling right next to houses in Lewisville. We know the risk exists, because we have seen the outcome from other cases. The Texas City disaster should have been all the proof needed for West Fertilizer, the Town of West, and the State of Texas to put reasonable limits on that. The fact that it had happened, and did happen indicates that it was a concrete risk to be mitigated.
Those who ignorantly blather on about "we need to get rid of regulations" almost never can name any that they want to get rid of. They complain about bloated government and wrongly assert that it is "killing jobs", but then wonder why - after cutting regulatory staffing - we can't seem to get these types of places inspected, and ensure that they comply with what little regulation we have. This kind of failure is the direct and predictable result of the naive Laissez faire ideology that assumes "the market" will do the right thing. Ask yourself whether the victims in this tragedy were part of "the market" for West Fertilizer.
As of this writing, we know the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas killed at least 14 residents and injured 200 others with many still missing. "Your heart weeps for their suffering," said Sen. Ted Cruz, who toured the disaster area on Friday with Sen. John Cornyn. It feels wrong to talk politics when they're still looking for bodies, but a respectful silence would only reward Cruz and Cornyn for their putrid hypocrisy.
Sometimes the truth overrides good manners, even in a nice place like West, which has a special place in the heart of anyone who's made the otherwise dreary drive on IH-35 between Austin and Dallas and pulled off at exit 253 to get a sweet, chewy kolache at the Czech Stop, perhaps the best-reviewed convenience store in Texas on Yelp. When news filtered in about the explosion late Wednesday night, every one I know had the same question: Is the Czech Stop still standing?
It was, and it stayed open all night and ever since to serve food for the first responders, and we love them for it. So when Cruz wears his weeping heart on his sleeve or Cornyn worries about the 60 people unaccounted for, even Texas liberals grant them the sincerity of their emotions because we're right there with them.
But it was what Cruz said yesterday in Washington before he decided to visit West that deserves condemnation: "It's truly horrific and we are working to ensure that all available resources are marshaled to deal with the horrific loss of life and suffering that we've seen," he said.
The Ted Cruz who promised to get federal help for West is the same guy who voted three times against federal Sandy aid and blamed it all on pork, though Politifact called that a lie.
The first campaign finance reporting deadline for City Council candidates has passed, and all four candidates for Lewisville have reported. Reports cover the period from 1/1/2013 to 3/31/2013, so candidates have no-doubt raised and spent other money since then.
Place 4: Councilman John Gorena reported receiving $2,266.50 in contributions from 22 donors, and spending $589.75. He reports $2,160 in cash on hand.
Challenger and former councilman Greg Tierney raised $6,700 from 11 donors, and spent $2,997.36. He reports $3,702.64 in cash on-hand.
Place 5: Councilman Rudy Durham reported no contributions or expenditures, and cash on-hand of $1,039.28
Challenger Raymond Daniels reported $80, all in contributions under $50, and total expenses of $382.72, with $80 cash on-hand.
Bioshock Infinite Developer: Irrational Games Publisher: 2K Games Date of release: March 26 Platforms: Windows, Xbox 360, PS3, OS X forthcoming in summer
By Doug Lane
The greatest trick of Bioshock Infinite is the idea that it’s just a video game. If anything, Bioshock Infinite transcends familiar conventions and delivers something entirely different.
Very rarely while playing this game did I think it was just a video game. I didn’t recognize myself sitting in my 3rd story apartment with a 27-inch flat screen television, grasping a PS3 controller. No, I was living the video game. I felt the anxiety and confusion upon seeing the city of Columbia flying above the air in 1912. I felt the cool breeze whispering throughout the city. I felt awe and insignificance at the towering city and it’s inhabitants, and how they had found their Eden. These things weren’t merely felt but lived.
The immersion of this game is a rare quality barely felt in any form of media. From the very opening mission, you get lost within Columbia. Details such as the shrines of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to hummingbirds buzzing around flowers are not escaped. I constantly found myself just wandering around the city, studying the miniscule details such as propaganda posters and toys at the shopping mall.
The player assumes control of Booker DeWitt (Troy Baker), an ex-military agent whose debt gets him way over his head. “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt” is constantly reminding Booker throughout his trip to Columbia. The girl is Elizabeth (Courtnee Draper)—the “lamb of the prophet,” a Christ-like figure prophesied to bring Columbia to glory. With her big, beady eyes, her engaging wit and charm, and an optimism that seems unbreakable, Elizabeth is the perfect foil for Booker. Locked up in her tower with only a limited literary understanding of the world, she thinks she understands the horror of the world. But this is no Disney movie.
An explosion tonight has rocked the town of West, TX, just 15 miles north of Waco, destroying buildings, and injuring over 100 and killing as many as 15 people, according to the most recent estimates. 50 - 75 houses have been damaged. An apartment complex and nursing home have been destroyed. Information is still coming in at this time.
One EMT reported that two EMS responders were killed, and three firefighters. Many others may be trapped in collapsed buildings.
Since the regional and national media is doing a fine job of reporting the breaking story, we'll provide a few links to their coverage.
Update: 4/18/2013 Erin Floyd, who used to do the weather here on LTJ, is taking a load of requested supplies to West, where it will be distributed through one of the police officers working the scene. They are requesting the following items:
- Bottled water - Toiletries - Clothes - Blankets - Diapers - Baby Formula and bottles - Adult diapers and urinals - Hydrogen Peroxide
- Alcohol - Gauze - Medical supplies - Cots - Air Mattresses - Pillows - Pet food - Pet crates and carriers
If you have items you can donate, please contact her right away at 972-800-2007. She is going to be making a trip down there Saturday morning, so you will need to make arrangements with her prior to that to get the supplies to her.
Flags are ordered at half staff statewide through sunset on Saturday, April 20, 2013 by the Governor pursuant to an order issued by the President of the United States under 36 USC 10 in respect for bombing victims in Boston. City Hall is lowering them now.
It is April 15th: Tax Day for those who procrastinate. But that's not the reason why today sucked so badly. I'm of course talking about the bombing in Boston this afternoon. It was hard to concentrate and finish out the day today at work after seeing the carnage, and one too many awful pictures that someone shared on Facebook. This is the kind of thing that happens every day in God-forsaken sh** holes on the other side of the world where our troops fight to survive each day. But there is something especially shocking about soft target attacks like what we saw today. I got my fill of cable news by about 6:30 p.m. today. I'm disgusted by reading some of the comments that some folks have posted on news website comments and in Twitter. Can we just wait for police and our intelligence folks to piece together the evidence before we start trying to blame one group or another?
If anything, I think we should just reflect a bit on what it means to live in a free and open society. The fact that we have soft targets is just evidence of what we value the most: our freedom. This sort of thing will happen from time to time; that seems to be the "new normal". But they will never win. They already lost when they stooped to that level. Lets do what we can for the victims, and stay vigilent, but lets not BE terrorized. Lets live life in freedom, and with no regrets. Enough about that from me for now.
Lewisville Lake, as of this morning had an elevation of 517.21 feet, or 78% full - nearly 5 feet below conservation pool. Hopefully we’ll get some more rain and catch up before summer. Texas needs to get serious about drought, and plan on this being the new normal. This New York Times article is a must-read.
The Lewisville Leader, and the Dallas Morning News both reported that Highland Village is getting $3.5 million from TxDOT to replace park land at Lewisville Lake being taken for new I-35E right-of-way.