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Abbott nominates Racing Commission chair as secretary of state

December 14, 2016
Abbott nominates Racing Commission chair as secretary of state

Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed Rolando Pablos of El Paso to succeed Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, effective Jan. 5.
Pablos has served as chair of the Texas Racing Commission, the state agency that regulates pari-mutuel racing, since December 2015.
Because Abbott nominated Pablos during a legislative interim, the Texas Constitution requires the Senate to conduct a confirmation hearing and vote on the appointment during the first 10 days of the next session of the Legislature.
The 85th Regular Session of the Legislature is scheduled to convene on Jan. 10. Confirmation would make Pablos Texas’ 111th secretary of state.
In accepting the appointment, Pablos said, “I am humbled and honored that Governor Abbott has placed confidence in me to faithfully execute those duties.… Read the rest

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I’m taking an ADVENTageous perspective this Christmas

December 7, 2016
I’m taking an ADVENTageous perspective this Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Of course, in some places, that started months ago. It is, after all, convenient to be able to buy your zombie Halloween costume on one aisle and your tinseled garland (or is it garlanded tinsel?) on the next.
Other signs of the season: people with cuts, bruises, and dark, baggy eyes still recovering from Black Friday shopping; credit cards hot to the touch from the friction of holiday-pace swiping; turkeys who survived Thanksgiving starting to look over their shoulders again; critics getting ready for every “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Xmas” sign. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!… Read the rest

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The native Americans’ miracle food was ‘pemmican’

December 7, 2016
The native Americans’ miracle food was ‘pemmican’

This column first appeared December 3, 1998.

We preserve our food today by putting it in a freezer, canning vegetables or fruits in jars, or even freeze-drying it. Many years ago, even before the white man came to North America, the Native Americans (well, earliest Americans, anyway), prepared food to last a long time for an emergency supply. They called it “pemmican.”
After the hunters slaughtered buffalo, the tribe feasted on fresh meat. In the next day or two, however, the squaws cut the meat into thin strips and placed them on wooden drying racks. Fires were built under the racks solely to dry the meat, not to smoke it.… Read the rest

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Finding the perfect kids’ Christmas gift

December 7, 2016
Finding the perfect kids’ Christmas gift

Unless you are one of “those parents” who make Playdoh for your kids or mail a “contribution in their name” to some obscure charity, you are likely on the hunt for the hottest Christmas presents.
The No. 1 sought-after toy this year by far is the Hatchimals.
It’s a hands-on “interactive” egg that a child must feed until it hatches.
Hopefully for you, the time frame for the “interaction” isn’t longer than about 10 minutes, or soon you’ll be feeding it like that dog the child swore they would take care of and you’ve been keeping alive now for 11 years.… Read the rest

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It begins with the boy

December 7, 2016
It begins with the boy

It is here. I have been dreading it for 10 years, but it is here. Puberty has arrived in the Derr household.
I have two much younger sisters who I watched go through their pubescent years, but this is different. My child is a boy. I am in very strange territory.
I do have a younger brother, but he is only four years younger than me. I was a teenager myself when he went through it. I could not see past the end of my own nose.
I remember we fought, a lot. And then once he got through it, we became the best of friends and have been ever since.… Read the rest

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Board sets state funding limit for next budget

December 7, 2016
Board sets state funding limit for next budget

Texas lawmakers will have just under $100 billion to use for the non-constitutional spending portion of state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019.
The 10-member Legislative Budget Board, which is charged with adopting a spending limit, met on Dec. 1 and accepted the figure of $99.897 billion recommended by Ursula Parks, director of the LBB. The amount is based on a projected growth rate of 8 percent in the state’s economy. The current 2016-2017 state budget for “non-dedicated” appropriations – funding that’s not mandated by the state constitution – is $92.5 billion.
Members of the Legislative Budget Board include co-chairs Lt. Gov.… Read the rest

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A family and its stump: It’s at my place now

November 30, 2016
A family and its stump: It’s at my place now

Much to my delight, the door was unlocked.
It was Thanksgiving Day and the family was where it always is on that day – at Lake Whitney at the Bride’s parents’ house.
After the death of my parents, we are selling their small lake cabin with the screened-in porch perched on a high ledge with dramatic views of towering limestone cliffs across the way.
We had had the place cleaned to be made presentable for sale, and it must’ve worked because it sold on the first day of its listing. The Realtor said we needed to get what we wanted out of the cabin before the new occupants arrived.… Read the rest

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What if we were the blessing others were thankful for?

November 30, 2016
What if we were the blessing others were thankful for?

My friends, I hope your Thanksgiving was truly a time of gratitude to God for His blessings, provision, and presence. And I hope you survived Black Friday! (Of course, if you didn’t survive it, you are not reading this, so never mind). As I heard someone recently say, “Only in America, do we follow up a day of gratitude with a day of unrestrained and frenzied shopping where we spend money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like!”
If you live in the USA, you are among the most materially blessed in the world.… Read the rest

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Arizona Ranger’s trickery to capture a killer outlaw

November 30, 2016
Arizona Ranger’s trickery to capture a killer outlaw

This column first appeared November 25, 1971.

Texans probably think that they were the only state in the union with a famous ban dof outlaw chasers called “Rangers.”
Not so.
In 1901, the Arizona Rangers were organized to fight outlaws in that territory; Arizona was not yet a state.
Outlaws found its dry deserts adjacent to Mexico a good on-man’s land whre they could hide out from the authorities.
The governor of the territory asked a stern and efficient ranch manager named Burton C. Mossman to organize the first Ranger company. One might wonder why he accepted, because the pay was less than what he got at the Hash Knife Ranch where he worked.… Read the rest

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Texas African-American History Memorial unveiled

November 30, 2016
Texas African-American History Memorial unveiled

A crowd of citizens and dignitaries gathered on the south lawn of the state Capitol on Nov. 19 to witness the unveiling of the Texas African American History Memorial.
The 32-foot-wide, 27-foot-tall bronze monument by sculptor Ed Dwight features images of African-Americans in Texas from modern times going back nearly 500 years.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former long-time member of the Texas House of Representatives, spoke at the event.
“This monument stands as a marker that no matter how smart you may think you are, no matter how gifted you may be, and no matter what contribution you may have made, we are standing on the foundation and the shoulders of people who have sacrificed to get us where we are today,” Turner said.… Read the rest

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