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THE ASTRODOME: WHATEVER BECAME OF ME?

By Chris Daigle, Contributing Editor and Houston Historian

Uof Hwins Bluebonnett Bowl

University of Houston celebrates winning the 1969 Bluebonnet Bowl against the Auburn Tigers in the Astrodome

There are very few distractions when you work from home, so you tend to notice things close to your heart. For me, one of them, along with the ice cream man in the afternoon and washing off sand at a Galveston beach, has to be the Astrodome. That’s all you have to say to a stranger who grew up in Houston. The Astrodome. Just stand back, because memories are going to come out like a fire hose. Way in the back of my mind, I always wanted there to be something to represent how we collectively felt, and still feel, about this place, and I’ve recently stumbled upon it.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis recently recorded and made a video for their song, “Astrodome.” They get it – they really understand what the Astrodome meant to us. Together with Texas songwriter/singer Jack Ingram, they take us on a journey of deep introspection, and get right to the bullseye of Astrodome culture.

Texas Monthly calls this newest song from Robison and Willis’s album Beautiful Lie “touching.” In my opinion, that comment is on par with calling the ocean “damp.” Robison and Willis travel back to the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and wipe the dust off fading memories.

Fortunately, my memories aren’t fading. Every minute of my time in the Astrodome was spent mentally remembering every detail of the spectacle in front of me: The smell of the smoke from the destruction derby or watching Evel Kneivel about to jump several cars on his motorcycle and wondering if he was going to make it. Oh no, my friends…nothing’s faded. I don’t remember what I wore last Tuesday, but I remember everything about the Dome.

Robison and Willis draw on familiar Texas music legends in their mixture of memories and harmonies. “There’s something familiar in here,” was my thought. Sure enough, Robison cites Roger Miller and Jerry Jeff Walker as huge influences on his style. The styles of Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings come along for good measure.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis really did it this time. They were just fine with songs like the slow waltzing ballad, “Beautiful Lie,” the crushingly sublime “Lost my Best” and the album closing, “Heartache to Houston.” But they really put the pedal to the metal with “Astrodome,” going right to the center of all our nostalgia and reminding us there was a place like none other, and a time like none other. We may be older and we may not live in Houston anymore, but we were there to see Elvis in a Jeep waving at us or to see George Strait supersize his career at the Rodeo on a moment’s notice. The Dome is a shrine to Texas “Can Do” spirit, which is a part of us, like a nostalgic tattoo never to be removed.

I was lucky. I did sit in the Astrodome and wonder whatever became of that version of me so many times. I became one with the dream that this building represents; a tireless effort by one man to make something unforgettable, and to create a legacy for a city. The stadium next door [NRG Stadium] never quite achieved that. It just made us sit on plastic seats and pay a fortune for food.

Robison and Willis have brought us all together in the field boxes again, and we remember.

Thanks to them from the state of Texas.

‘.

Editor’s Corner: Officer’s death is another blow to kindness and compassion for others

By Stacey Doud

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Castaneda

A Grand Prairie police officer, AJ Castaneda, age 38, was killed around 10:30am on June 7 while checking radar speeds on the shoulder of the George Bush Turnpike. A 17-year-old driver hit the officer’s vehicle and the officer fell off of the overpass onto the lower highway, about 20 feet below. He died at an Arlington hospital about 30 minutes later.

The person who came upon the accident and reported it was an officer from another city. He had the brains to get into Castaneda’s patrol car and radio directly to Castaneda’s agency in Grand Prairie to let them know what was going on.

I’ve been a law enforcement supporter for many years now, simply because I know I could not to that job, so I admire those that can.

In today’s climate, I often get criticized for supporting the cops; however, I am not a blind follower. I realize that there are bad apples in the policing field, just as in any area of employment. I feel shame when I hear about a cop abusing his or her privileges as peacekeepers.

That being said, I attended a candlelight vigil for Castaneda on June 9, which was held in front of Grand Prairie’s Public Safety Building.

I had never met Castaneda, but when something tragic like this happens, I like to lend my support, even if it’s providing another warm body at an event.

I got there a bit early and parked. As I walked up to the gathering spot, I was overwhelmed with the crowd. Literally hundreds of people, young and old, showed up to pay respects to this officer that I knew nothing about.

As I listened to the speakers, I came to understand that Castaneda was an exceptional officer. He raised money to provide meals every Thursday to the youth of an impoverished neighborhood in Grand Prairie. He saved the life of a choking baby. He earned medals and awards too countless to list.

The question everyone asks themselves when a good person dies popped into my head: Why him? Why him and not the cop that sits in the back of a parking lot all day or night watching movies? But does anyone’s life count “more” than another’s?

The wind was blowing pretty hard that night, and the candles wouldn’t stay lit. The chief suggested that folks turn on the flashlights on their phones instead. What resulted was a beautiful sea of light to honor this exceptional officer.

I cried and cried – not because I knew Castaneda – but because yet another person who had compassion and went above-and-beyond had been taken way too soon. Those traits are hard to find these days.

Remember when customer service existed everywhere? Remember when employees cared about your experiences in their stores? Remember when people would stop to help other folks in distress?

Those days are long gone, and so to lose someone who loved his job, had compassion for his fellow human beings and went farther than necessary to give a helping hand to people he didn’t even know was just another blow to the things we used to cherish, and want to cherish again.

RIP AJ Castaneda. End of Watch: June 7, 2019

They’ll take it from here, brother.

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Kids’ lemonade stands legal in Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill

By FOX4News.com Staff

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Abbott

Your neighborhood lemonade stand operated by a smiling child is no longer illegal in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill on Monday that blocks cities or HOAs from creating rules that would stop kids from selling nonalcoholic drinks, like lemonade, on private property.

“Here is a common sense law,” Abbott said.

Read more from FOX4News…

Chief identifies ‘model police officer’ killed in Grand Prairie crash: ‘Our city is hurting’

By Sarah Sarder, Loyd Brumfield and LaVendrick Smith

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Grand Prairie police Officer A.J. Castaneda served in the department for five years. He is the third officer in the department’s history to die in the line of duty. (Grand Prairie Police Department)

A Grand Prairie police officer was killed Friday after a crash threw him off an overpass on the Bush Turnpike, police said.

Officer Albert “A.J.” Castaneda, 38, was running radar while standing outside his SUV parked on the inside shoulder of the Dickey Road overpass around 10:40 a.m., Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said in a news conference Friday afternoon.

The driver of a Nissan 300ZX heading north on the turnpike lost control and struck Castaneda’s vehicle, throwing Castaneda to the ground about 20 feet below, police said.

Read more from Dallas News…

Amazon’s helping police build a surveillance network with Ring doorbells

Screen Shot 2019-06-07 at 9.12.19 AMIf you’re walking in Bloomfield, New Jersey, there’s a good chance you’re being recorded. But it’s not a corporate office or warehouse security camera capturing the footage — it’s likely a Ring doorbell made by Amazon

While residential neighborhoods aren’t usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell’s popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments.Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products.

While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested.

Read more from C/NET…

Grapevine Police investigating graffiti damage at Grapevine High School

Grapevine Police are investigating approximately $1,200 in graffiti damage at Grapevine High School.  
 
A school employee says the damage occurred between 10:00 p.m. June 1 and 3:00 a.m. June 2. Words and drawings were spray-painted on multiple walls, the sidewalk, a window, parking lot, and fence on school property.  
 
Surveillance cameras captured the suspects on video, and detectives are currently analyzing the footage. Anyone with information on the graffiti is asked to contact Grapevine Police Criminal Investigations Division at: 817.410.3200 during regular business hours, or 817.410.8127 after hours.

Drowning in Rockledge Park on Grapevine Lake

Grapevine, Texas (May 26, 2019) – The Grapevine Fire Department responded to a reported drowning on Grapevine Lake in Rockledge Park.

IMG_5711On May 26, 2019 at approximately 5:22 pm, the Grapevine Fire Department responded to a reported drowning on Grapevine Lake in Rockledge Park. Upon arrival of GFD members worked with by-standers to learn the last seen point of a Hispanic male who was reported missing. Marine 1 also responded and began running sonar in the area. As soon as possible, members of the Grapevine Fire Department Dive Team began searching the area. Unfortunately, the patient was not located within the first hour and the dive operation became a recovery situation.

The Flower Mound Fire Department (FMFD) along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens (TPWD) arrived to assist with the search in any way they could. GFD and TPWD continued running their sonars over the area while FMFD patrolled the area to keep other boaters clear of the area. GFD Divers continued to check areas and were successful locating the victim. TPWD along with the Grapevine Police Department worked with by-standers and family that were on scene.

It only takes seconds for someone to disappear below the water, please wear a life jacket, learn to swim, have a swim buddy, and learn CPR, this will help you enjoy our local reservoirs, specifically Grapevine Lake.

Happy Memorial Day…and Thank You!

Let’s never forget what Memorial Day is REALLY about!

THANK YOU all military, whether active, retired or deceased (I believe there are letters in Heaven) for your sacrifice for OUR freedom.

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The Winning Sand Sculpture of the 2019 Texas Sand Sculpture Festival

liberty-crumbling-by-damon-langlois-1Damon Langlois has been awarded 1st Place for his incredible sand sculpture, “Liberty Crumbling”, at the 2019 Texas SandFest. The 23rd annual Texas SandFest drew 35,000 people to Port Aransas, Texas and is recognized as the largest native-sand sculpture competition in the United States.

Texas SandFest’s mission is to give back to the community by raising funds for local charities and scholarships for high school students. This year they raised $355,000 and have raised $1,261,750 for charities in the last 8 years.

To see all of the winners from this year’s competition click here.

Read more from Twisted Sifter…

Texas House passes bill to prohibit telemarketers from falsifying caller ID

BY ALEX SAMUELS

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Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

The Texas House gave an initial stamp of approval Wednesday to a bill that aims to prohibit telemarketers or businesses from falsifying their phone numbers.

The measure, House Bill 1992, would prohibit caller ID spoofing — when callers tamper with information transmitted to people’s caller IDs to disguise their identities.

Under the proposal by Republican state Rep. Ben Leman of Anderson, telemarketers using a third-party source to make calls to the public must ensure the number that appears on people’s caller ID matches the number of the third party, or the number of the entity that has contracted with the third party.

Read more from the Texas Tribune…