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Texas’ oldest operating restaurant is Salado’s Stagecoach Inn

March 18, 2015
Texas’ oldest operating restaurant is Salado’s Stagecoach Inn

Traveling through Salado for thousands of people has meant a stop at the Stagecoach Inn.
Its earliest guests arrived in 1861 to spend the night and to enjoy a good meal. Indeed, some of the famous Texans who climbed the steps to the four bedrooms on the second floor or enjoyed meals at its tables included Sam Houston (who made an anti-secession speech from the balcony),  George Armstrong Custer,  Robert E. Lee’s son (who shared the same name), and cattle barons Shanghai Pierce and Charles Goodnight.… Read the rest

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Lawmakers seek to control state spending elements

March 18, 2015
Lawmakers seek to control state spending elements

Debates over the Texas House and Senate versions of the state budget lie ahead, and movement toward setting budget controls to blend into a final, agreed-upon budget for 2016-2017 emerged in low-numbered bills filed last week.
SB 20 by Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine, would strengthen state agency contract reporting requirements, require agency heads to sign off on contracts worth more than $1 million and require agencies to post a list of all contracts on their state website, according to a report posted by the Senate’s in-house news service. “These contracts are paid for with taxpayer dollars,” Nelson said. “We must ensure that they are awarded with the highest degree of ethics and transparency.” Nelson said her committee would vote on SB 20 this week.… Read the rest

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Old man math

March 11, 2015
Old man math

Whenever I catch myself sounding like a grumpy, get-off-my-lawn old man, I pause and think of my dad.
He died nine years ago this July. As a kid, of course, I thought he was the most out-of-touch human on earth with his crewcut and, as a WW II vet, an unwavering hawk mentality. (You would never convince him that Vietnam was a mistake.)… Read the rest

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U.S. territory grew by one-third during Polk’s term

March 11, 2015
U.S. territory grew by one-third during Polk’s term

James K. Polk of Tennessee,  protege of Andrew Jackson, served four years as president, 1845-1849. During that term, his policies brought territory into the U.S. that increased its size by at least one-third.
A book by Robert W. Merry, A Country of Vast Designs, about Polk’s presidency, reveals tremendous drama and threats of war. Polk’s handling of two major issues  threatened war with two countries, Britain and Mexico.   Indeed, the U.S. fought Mexico, 1846-1848. Polk’s insistence on settling the U.S. and Canadian boundary threatened war as well.… Read the rest

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Senate bills setting the stage for tax, debt relief

March 11, 2015
Senate bills setting the stage for tax, debt relief

A trio of powerful state senators, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, on March 5 jointly announced the filing of legislation they coauthored to cut taxes and pay off state debt.
Patrick, who presides over the 31-member Senate, Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Senate Business & Commerce Chair Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler; and Senate Finance Vice Chair Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, each delivered brief statements.… Read the rest

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Lessons from a dermatologist appointment

March 11, 2015
Lessons from a dermatologist appointment

Getting older is an interesting trip. Notice, I did not say “old” or “mature.” I am in denial about the first and ill equipped for the second. So, we’ll stay with the concept of the journey toward an undisclosed and undefined destination (the “older” part…I am certain about my ultimate destination).
Part of this getting older thing is becoming acquainted with more and more doctors.   In fact, I started writing this column about one doctor while I was waiting in the office of another doctor. I’m actually healthier right now than I have been in several years, but I have more doctors with whom an annual checkup is necessary.… Read the rest

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Who knew so many people hated squirrels?

March 5, 2015
Who knew so many people hated squirrels?

WARNING!
If you love all animals, you’d probably better skip this column. If you’re a “circle of life” kind of person, continue. If you are among the apparently ten million people that hate squirrels, then definitely keep on reading.

The snow fell for hours. I finally headed outside to shoot the traditional newspaper picture of a bright red cardinal flying in the swirling snow.… Read the rest

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On adjusting the agenda

March 5, 2015
On adjusting the agenda

We have some new friends from Michigan. We met them in Jamaica in January. They are a delightful young couple that we would be happy to adopt as another set of “our kids.” (A tribe that keeps growing). These happen to be the furthest away, so we are connecting on Facebook.
A couple of my recent Facebook posts have generated responses that highlight the Texas/Michigan difference. The first was a photo of the current temperature of 71 with the caption, “February 10th in north-central Texas!” Comment from Michigan: “I’m going to pretend I didn’t see this!”… Read the rest

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Lasting fame came for Overland Stage’s John Butterfield

March 5, 2015
Lasting fame came for Overland Stage’s John Butterfield

In our modern world where we can know almost instantaneously what is taking place on the other side of the planet, it is difficult to remember that barely 150 years ago people got excited that a letter could leave the middle part of the U.S. (St. Louis) and be in San Francisco in 23 days!
The method of this great accomplishment officially was the Overland Mail. However, since John W. Butterfield won the government contract to supply the stagecoaches, relay stations, and drivers, the endeavor commonly became known as the Butterfield Stage.… Read the rest

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Senate panel passes legislation to fund state highways

March 5, 2015
Senate panel passes legislation to fund state highways

The Senate Transportation Committee on Feb. 25 tentatively approved two pieces of legislation that would take a portion of various motor vehicle related taxes and dedicate that money to road and bridge construction and maintenance.
Senate Bill 5, enabling legislation, and Senate Joint Resolution 5, which would put a constitutional amendment on the November statewide ballot, are meant to help cover the shortfall in the state highway funding program. According to Senate documents, the two measures work together to dedicate a portion of the motor vehicle sales tax and other taxes associated with vehicle use, but not the gas tax, to TxDOT so the agency “can reasonably predict and plan projects six to 10 years into the future, to replace congestion and to preserve our system.”… Read the rest

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