Surviving the unfathomable

A word from Van Zandt Newspapers Publisher Brad Blakemore

I wanted to share something written by a colleague of mine Pete Marsh who has experienced the unthinkable loss of his son Anthony.

Only those who have lost a child can relate to his pain. His words provide great insight into his thoughts as well as a valuable perspective we should all consider before putting our feet on the ground each morning.

Since my son died, I’ve stopped making eye contact with people on the street. When approaching another pedestrian on a crowded sidewalk, I am no longer the one to politely step aside.

I’ve stopped routinely waving to my neighbors. When traveling, I’ve stopped making small talk with cashiers and hotel clerks. I tend to eat in my room so that I can avoid seeing others – especially young people – having a good time.


Aphids hit VZC

What’s bugging you?

Aphids have landed in Van Zandt County.  The first issue we experienced were these white “fly like” bugs flying in hoards all around our area.   This little bug is actually the Asian Wooley Hackberry Aphid. Dr. Mike Merchant, urban entomologist and extension specialist, pointed out that control is probably not necessary unless the honeydew (aphid droppings, which may result in plant covered with black sooty mold) is becoming unacceptable, in which case they might try dinotefuran (Greenlight Safari) instead of the imidacloprid recommended below.

It is faster at getting into the tree or shrub. Both of these products are systemic in nature and get into the plant itself. This is how it controls the pest when it feeds on the plant. With this being said, make sure you are not treating something like a vegetable garden or some other edible plant. This is for ornamental use only.


Ghosts in Grand Saline Library

As I sit here trying to decide what to write for today’s article, over the sound of the crickets chirping I heard a loud bang from the Civic Center part of our Depot Building.  Before going to investigate I asked the volunteer who is working this morning if she heard the sound as well.  After her confirming that she had heard the sound I went to the back to see if I could discover what had made the noise.  As usual, there was nothing in the back to indicate what had caused the noise.  There was only one other person in the library at the time and they were using the computers. 


State Capitol Highlights

State opts out of federal refugee resettlement program

Texas has acted on its threat to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program, Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sept. 30.

Texas had demanded enhanced FBI screening of individuals “from terrorist-based nations” and expressed resistance to the federal government’s request that the Lone Star State increase by 25 percent the number of refugees to be resettled.  An estimated 7,000 refugees have taken up residence in Texas in the past year.

The federal government did not respond to a Sept. 21 letter from the state refugee coordinator with the Texas Department of Human Services. The letter gave notice that the state would no longer participate in the program if the state’s concerns were not addressed. 


State of Texas may withdraw from federal resettlement program

Texas officials said the state will withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program if the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement does not approve the Lone Star State’s refugee plan by Sept. 30.

In a Sept. 21 letter to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, State Refugee Coordinator Kara Crawford gave official notice of Texas’ intention to withdraw from the program. A news release from the governor’s office said the letter was in response to the federal government’s “unwillingness to approve Texas’ updated state refugee plan, which would require national security officials to ensure that refugees do not pose a security threat to Texas.”

 If Texas withdraws, the state’s role in the program would end effective Jan. 31, 2017, which is 120 days after the Sept. 30 deadline.


Fall into books at the VZC Library

Babies...nothing cuter! Whether you're looking at puppies, kittens, people or a baby giraffe that's taller than you, no one can resist those big innocent eyes and surely cuddling is in order. Carl Sandburg said, “A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.” This week's Preschool Storytime will feature “babies.”

The week's volunteer profile features Susan Evans. She followed her interest in reading into the library and has worked there for two years. She has a background working with computers, with an associates degree in computer aided design.

Working about four hours every week, Susan's jobs include shelving books and generally helping out where needed. Her least favorite part is dealing with the Dewey Decimal System as she shelves books. Thank you, Susan for all you do to help the staff and patrons of the library.


Senior fraud affects millions of Americans

Easy living, easy victim

There are than 18,500,000 Americans over the age of 75. Another 10,000 turn 65 each day. This trend has led to a dramatic increase in financial crimes targeting the elderly. Many normal aspects of the aging process – memory loss, poor eyesight and reduced ability to think critically – make them susceptible to financial exploitation.

More than 90 percent of reported elder abuse is committed by members of a senior’s own family. Most by their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews and others. There are also plenty of strangers willing to take advantage.

Seniors often have substantial retirement “nest eggs” which they spent a lifetime accumulating. Many own a home and have excellent credit. Those raised in the 1930s, 40s and 50s – particularly in rural communities – tend to be more polite and trusting. This makes them a tempting target for con artists.


First In, Last Out

Masons to hold recognition banquet Nov. 12

“First In, Last Out.”  What exactly does that mean? Several weeks ago marked the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. And it brought to mind so many memories and thoughts about our first responders and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

On 09/11/2001, it meant that law enforcement officers, paramedics and firefighters were the first responders to arrive at a horrible tragedy in lower Manhattan. Many of them never left.


State Capitol Highlights

Defense secretary promotes new hub to partner with tech startups

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Sept. 14 announced the opening of a “Defense Innovation Unit Experimental” hub at the Capital Factory in downtown Austin.

Carter and University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven said the hub would provide opportunities for innovators to partner with the Department of Defense to develop technologies to address the nation’s security challenges.

“Austin’s commitment to innovation, access to talent and academia, as well as the department’s longstanding ties to Texas, make this an ideal next location for DIUx,” Carter said.

Gov. Greg Abbott added, “Texas is the new frontier in innovation, and with the arrival of DIUx, the Department of Defense’s best technologists will be right here in Austin.”


Every cent counts for libraries, too

What can you do for your library?  The next time you get ready to order flowers or a plant for a funeral or memorial service we would love if you would consider making a memorial donation to the library.  All you have to do is bring by or mail in cash or a check and let us know who it is in memory of and we will send the family a card acknowledging the donation in the name of the loved one who passed.  You can also give donations in honor of someone.  If you know someone who doesn’t want or need gifts you can give to the library in honor of them and we will send them a recognition card as well so that they know about your gift.  The next you come to the library grab some loose bills from your purse or wallet or spare change from your car and drop it in our donation jar.  Every cent counts.  There does not have to be a special occasion to give to the library.  Nothing excites us more than when someone brings in a check or a little extra cash to donate.  When the mail comes and there


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