As I write this, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Louisiana, exhausted from an all-day meeting, and still stuffed from a fabulous business dinner with my clients and colleagues from my day job. It's the second week in a row that I've been out on travel, and it follows a week that saw my employer get bought out by another company, causing me endless paperwork and disruption.
Regular readers know this, but maybe some people don't realize that The Lewisville Texan Journal is an all-volunteer effort run on a shoestring. About 10 years ago I started this site as a blog, serving as an outlet for my curiosity that was part soapbox and part therapy. Over time, it morphed to a point where the content was less opinion and observation, and more facts, information, and news. In late 2011, we changed the name of the site to better reflect our coverage.
I've never been entirely comfortable with what to call this thing that we do here. In some ways - especially lately - it's more of a blog. But many times we do journalism. Whatever you want to call it, the point has been to try to improve the overall coverage of what goes on in Lewisville in several ways:
- Filling in the gaps in coverage where we can, when other outlets miss something. - Going deeper on some topics. - Investigative reporting - which is sorely lacking - Being first to cover something when we can - Having better sources when we can - Getting information out on social media more nimbly than others - Setting the record straight where other sources have got it wrong - Encouraging Lewisville and its residents to get involved and make this community a better place.
Since most of the time, it's just me writing, and I work a full-time job with business travel involved, and I have kids, and I have volunteer work to do, I have to be pretty selective about what I spend time to try to cover. Even then, what happens far too often is that I'm able to shoot photos or video, or maybe talk to someone and begin to gather information... then promptly get extremely busy at work or with some situation at home, and whatever it was is either no longer newsworthy, or it becomes a part of the ever-increasing backlog.
You may have noticed the past few weeks, we really haven't posted much. It's not because there is a lack of material. We still get a ton of press releases and story tips. We still know of things going on that need to be shared and explained. Nobody is more disappointed than I am, that this is not happening on the schedule I would like it to. If it just weren't for that pesky problem of having to earn a living, I would be able to do this full time, and I might get close to covering a third of what is newsworthy here. Personally, I'm just pinning my hopes on winning the Powerball (which, I once again didn't have any matching numbers tonight). A multi-million dollar jackpot would fund a heck of a staff. Or perhaps a wealthy donor would step up with a start-up grant... Or monkeys might fly out of my butt.
Anyhow, I just thought I'd put this note out here tonight to let the readers know that the plan is for LTJ to keep doing what we do. It's just that I don't have a lot of time to give here lately, and to be totally honest, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I need more volunteers, but that means I need to not only keep things going, but I need to recruit and train people. And the software that runs this site is not the easiest and most intuitive thing in the world to learn.
I hope none of this scares anyone off. I hope you'll keep sending me story tips, and keep sending me your press releases, links, and information. I hope you'll keep visiting and keep reading, even if there are times like now where I don't have much original content to share. I also hope that if you have a talent for writing, and can share any time with us, that you'll contact me. There is so much going on here in Lewisville that deserves more attention. I hope that together we can make it happen.
Check in with LTJ on Saturday, because I have a ton of links to share with you all.
I am not going to use anyone’s real name in this post. I’ll use initials for the accused, and you’ll soon know why.
A conversation overheard at an animal adoption event resulted in a woman in Sherman, Texas thinking that a man there (J.B.) was looking for a “bait dog” to use in hunting feral hogs. The woman apparently talked to J.B. and got his business card. She wrote an email explaining that “bait” dogs were intentionally being injured or crippled and staked out as bait to attract wild hogs, which hunters would then go after. The point of the email, in which she attached a photo of J.B.’s business card, was that shelters should beware of the guy and not let him adopt any dogs. Supposedly, J.B. was looking for Catahoulas, Aussies, or Black Mouth Curs.
Another woman who had received the email, posted it on her personal Facebook wall, along with the photo of the business card showing the J.B.’s name, phone number, and personal email address. Within four hours, it had been shared nearly 600 times, and presumably viewed by many thousands of people. One commenter on the post I saw mentioned something about breaking the guy’s kneecaps. Others were very quick to condemn, and said they’d be sharing the link.
There’s just one problem: As best we can tell, in hog hunting, there’s no such thing as “bait” dogs. Hog hunters who use dogs often use "bay" dogs though.
After discussion here at LTJ, we removed a story from the site and from our Facebook page today due to a very negative reaction in the community.
It's not often that we remove items from the site - especially when they are factual and fair, which we thought the article was. The reason we removed it is that the discussion on social media had vilified one of the unnamed people in the story to the point that the online discussion seemed like a lynch mob waiting to happen. The breaking point was when the discussion turned to personal bullying of others who expressed opposing viewpoints.
We do this service to spread the facts, and increase our community's understanding of one another and the institutions that make our community tick.
I'm just so incredibly disappointed right now to have had this forum and our work used in such a negative way.
Perhaps at some point, the story will come back into the archive, but for now we think it's best for all involved to cool off.
The Lewisville Texan Journal’s editorial team is pleased to unanimously select Allison Stamey as our Lewisville Citizen of the Year for 2013. Stamey received an honorable mention last year, and is being honored this year for the work that she does, going above and beyond the call of duty in her job as Student Activities Director at Lewisville High School. Because of work that Stamey initiated and has continued to do, our Lewisville community is a better place to live, and the lives of hundreds of students and their families have been a little better. Her can-do attitude means that she is the type to see a need in the community, and rather than waiting around to see if someone else will do it, she says “why can’t we do it?”
Stamey has facilitated the adopt-an-angel program at Lewisville High School for over a decade. The program is run by the LHS Student Council, which she is a faculty advisor for. School counselors identify children whose families are in hard times, and who could use some help at Christmas with toys, clothing, food, or other needs. Individuals and community organizations then adopt individual kids from the list to buy gifts for, or contribute money, which is used to buy gifts for kids who were not adopted. Stamey and the other volunteers then deliver the gifts to the students. You can read more about the program in our story on the 2013 Angel Tree, which helped close to 700 students.
LHS Student Activities Director Allison Stamey (File photo courtesy of Rotary Club)
Years ago, there were other organizations running Angel Tree programs in Lewisville, but Stamey saw that those programs often were not able to serve all the children who needed help at Christmas time. So she took on the task of organizing the program at LHS.
In addition to the Angel Tree, Stamey also helps organize the Lewisville High School homecoming activities, including the homecoming parade, which is a major event for the city. We are told that the parade is one of, if not the outright largest homecoming parade in the State of Texas.
Last year, Stamey was part of the group that organized Hey! Day, a new annual event to welcome LISD kids in the LHS feeder patterns back to school, and connect the community to the students and vice-versa. In her role as an advisor to the LHS Student Council, the largest in the State of Texas, she oversees a student mentoring program that pairs up high school students with students in elementary and middle schools who need help.
Stamey treats everyone like family, according to Sarah Marcus, LISD’s current Assistant Public Information Officer, who formerly worked with Stamey as the LISD Central Zone Communications Coordinator. “She taught me how to be a Farmer,” said Marcus. “I’ve never seen her say no. She’s just amazing!” she added.
Jane Recchia, who works in the LISD Central Zone office, nominated Stamey. “Ms. Stamey represents Farmer Pride to the utmost and her continuous contributions to both the City of Lewisville and the Central Zone schools, as well as the positive influence she has on the students of Lewisville, makes her a strong contender for the Lewisville Texan Journal's Citizen of the Year award," wrote Recchia. We agree.
Here we are at the end of 2013, and it seems like just last week we were writing up the summary of 2012 in Lewisville. Around New Years, everyone likes to take a little look back and reflect on what happened over the course of the year, and we’re no different. (Plus, we’re on vacation, and revisiting old material is easier than working on new stuff, right?)
We’ll talk a little bit about what has gone on with The Lewisville Texan Journal, and what has happened here locally that we covered this year. The stories linked here are those that either got a whole lot of reads and attention, or in some cases, those we thought were important, even though maybe someone else covered it better, or we didn’t get much attention on.
Lewisville resident Brenda Latham was re-elected to her second term on the LISD school board. Kris Vaughn was elected in place 4, the seat formerly held by Julie Foughty of Frisco, who decided not to seek re-election. In the same election, Mark Welding was elected in Place 3, but resigned in the middle of the Summer, just months after taking office.
A friend of mine who I respect a lot approached me earlier this week to ask if I would look into something that he thought was a scandal. My friend and I have some fundamental disagreements on some political issues, but we respect each other, and I was happy to look into it. The issue he said, was that the federal health insurance exchange website had some "hidden code" in it that meant Americans were giving up their rights to privacy when signing up for health insurance through the website.
“You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transmitting or stored on this information system. “
If you are on the end of the political spectrum that believes that the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” is evil, and you don’t have any experience with HTML or the other technologies that make up the world-wide web, then you might think this is some sort of a smoking gun. You might take note of the deer-in-the-headlights look on this poor executive’s face, probably not understanding what she was seeing, and being put on the spot to explain HTML source code, and you might prefer to see it as some sign of guilt.
For those of us who build these types of transactional websites for a living, it’s pretty simple to see that this is a non-issue. Whatever issues there are with the law or its implementation, this is not one of them. Rather, this is just a technical artifact. And it happens way more often than you think.
Well, it seems like it can't possibly already be Thanksgiving time again, but it certainly is. I don't know about you, but the past year seems to have been a blur. At the moment, I'm sitting here with my first cup of coffee, and my beautiful wife Fluffy is expressing her Czech heritage in the kitchen, playing traditional Czech music on her phone while she prepares another batch of kolaches.
I thought I would take a moment to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving, as well as a meaningful one. In times where life seems rushed, and there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we are expected to do, it can be hard just sort of sit with family and friends and BE thankful. Especially on Thanksgiving morning when we're hurriedly trying to get things prepared for our feast, the stress levels can be high.
But today, I'm going to try, and I hope you will too.
The Dallas Observer reported today that a local area Mom's group called the "Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas" tried to make a sizable donation to the Denton County Children's Advocacy Center, but was refused "due to the conservative nature of our organization".
We contacted Children's Advocacy Center Executive Director Dan Leal today to inquire about the rejection, and what the group meant by "conservative", and got this response:
"The Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County appreciated the generous offer made by the Tattooed Hippie Pirate Mommas organization; however, the money was raised with a pin up calendar that could be perceived by some as sexual in nature and our Children's Advocacy Center's mission is to provide justice and healing for children who are the victims of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, we could not accept the proceeds of this pin up calendar's sales because of the calendar's possible perception, and not the hard working mothers who sponsored it."
What do you think? Has CACDC just hurt its cause by making a giant leap from "pin-up" to "sexual"? Why are pictures of women being themselves considered sexual? How does this even have anything to do with victimizing children?
Just a quick note here about some technical difficulties we're currently experiencing on our website: We have experienced difficulties at times with the comment section rejecting comments. This past Wednesday we started having an issue where I couldn't even post blogs because of some sort of security "feature" of our hosting provider, GoDaddy. They fight an ongoing battle to protect their customers' websites against denial-of-service and spam attacks, but somehow their system was mistaking legitimate posts for spam or attacks.
Making matters worse, at GoDaddy's insistence, we updated the version of software that runs this website. After that, there was a brief time we couldn't even log in. There are still a few things on the site that have problems, such as our photo section being inaccessible, as well as various articles.
Hopefully the problems will be ironed out by Sunday Monday Saturday night. In the mean time, if you have tried to post a comment, and not been able to, please understand that we're not censoring you; it's just that the system may be losing them. Feel free to email us in the mean time: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get it posted for you.