A golden Centennial issue that was almost…uh, green?

Posted on Thursday 22 October 2009

The Spur Centennial was great fun and a worthwhile celebration of Spur’s first 100 years. The Centennial issue was the largest edition we have published, but worthwhile in the long run for us, and more importantly for our readers. I am happy to mark it a memory now, one that I will hold fondly, although it was filled with some stress-ridden moments for this newspaper editor and her staff.

We began our work on that issue a couple of months prior to the week’s celebration, then went over it numerous times for a few days before emailing the special sections to press. We decided to use blue and gold this year instead of just blue as we have done with our past special homecoming issues, and the pages looked great, at least to us on screen, but upon seeing the first printing on both the centennial section and the homecoming section come off the press, Kassi and I were brought to tears when our hard work and effort was marred by the verdant color, not gold, on the front page headlines which I can only now describe as “puke green”. “Where did the Spur bulldogs blue and gold type go?” I asked the printer. “And what part of pea green did you think I would like?”

After much anguish and wringing of hands we decided to have both sections reprinted and asked the printer to do whatever had to be done to make it blue and gold instead of blue and green. We made some adjustments on our end too, and the second press run came out much better. Fortunately, due to my logical persuasion,–after all who would pair green with blue?–we got the second press run on those two sections free of charge.

The printer told me to tell him next time if it was a special issue. Like I didn’t!? What part of Centennial issue did he not understand? Anything that happens one time in 100 years is usually considered something pretty special, isn’t it? Not to mention this will be the only Centennial issue Kassie and I will ever do. Thank God!

Cindi @ 4:05 pm
Posted under: Local Life
Spur is 100! Centennial Celebration October 5-11

Posted on Friday 2 October 2009

Where have I been???!!! I have been spending the last few weeks working on our special issue for the Spur Homecoming/Centennial Celebration next week. With two sections in the can, now I have time to write. I’ve had numerous calls and emails requesting a schedule of all of the activities so here they are:

Monday, October 5
1:30 p.m. Dickens Co./Spur Library, Book Signing-Bill McIver (Spur native) will talk about his book By Dead Reckoning

Tuesday, October 6
2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Hank the Cow Dog, Palace Theater, $8 Adults, $4 Children 12 & under

Thursday, October 8
5:00 p.m. SHS Senior Class Hamburger Supper at Rickels Mini Park

7:30 p.m. Pep Rally & Crowning of Homecoming Queen at Rickels Mini Park followed by Homecoming Bonfire at Swenson Park

Friday, October 9
10 a.m. Dedication of “Big Spur” across from Allsup’s on Hill Street; Presentation of Centennial Rifle; Special Presentation Spur Fire Department

11 a.m.-12 Noon (following “Big Spur” dedication) Open House at Spur High School New Gym foyer. Birthday cake will be served.

2 p.m. Historical Marker Dedication at site of Hagins Gin, first gin in Dickens County. Location is on CR404 Southeast of Spur. Travel Highway 70 east to Steel Hill Church, turn south on FM208 and to to CR404 and turn left, 1 1/2 miles east to the iron bridge.

2-4 p.m. Decades of Fashion at Dana’s Too & Dana’s Pharmacy

2:40 p.m. Pep Rally at Spur High School New Gym

5:00 p.m. SHS Senior Class Tailgate Supper at Rickels Mini Park

7:30 p.m. Football Game Spur Bulldogs vs. Ira Bulldogs

9 p.m. Homecoming Dance at Swenson Park, $10 Adults, $5 Middle School & High School students

Saturday, October 10
10 a.m. Homecoming Class Assembly at SISD Cafetorium

12 Noon Homecoming Meal at Cafetorium (catered by River Smith’s Catfish & Chicken) $10/plate

1 p.m. Nuestra Herencia & The Mexican Dancers at Rickels Mini Park

2 p.m. Parade line-up begins at Spur High School

3 p.m. Centennial/Homecoming Parade on Burlington

7 p.m. Magic Show at Palace Theater, $5 Adults, $3 Children 12 & under

9 p.m. Homecoming Dance at Swenson Park, $10 Adults, $5 Middle School & High School students

Sunday, October 11
10:30 a.m. 100th Aniversary Celebration at First Baptist Church
10:45 a.m. Special Centennial Worship Service at First United Methodist Church

Come join us! Have a safe trip and we look forward to seeing you next week!

Cindi @ 3:30 pm
Posted under: Local Life and Uncategorized
The beginning of the end or the end of a beginning

Posted on Monday 7 September 2009

I had a birthday on Saturday which launched the beginning of the end, or the end of a beginning, for me as I approach the half-century mark. If “50 is the new 30″, like women’s magazines tell me, then I guess that makes me 29 years old. What a relief! I’m good for another decade then.

I really wanted to begin a blog about this final year of being in my 40’s (and closing in on the BIG 5-0) on my birthday, but on Saturday I just really didn’t feel like it. My knees ached and the 1 1/2-hours massage didn’t motivate me much either, so I came home, ate a sandwich, and fell on the couch to nap with my two female basset hounds. Nothing like girlfriends to remind you of your priorities.

So how does it feel to be 49? Well it feels pretty good–like 29 or 39 did–but worse.

Cindi @ 4:12 pm
Posted under: Uncategorized
Crazy 8

Posted on Wednesday 2 September 2009

When people who pick up our print edition of the newspaper this week, they’ll think I’m crazy, like that would be anything different than what they probably already thought. We had to shuffle some pages on Tuesday prior to sending them to press. A late ad, adding two pages and repositioning some pages were done after I had already finished page one and also didn’t get back to it for proofing. Consequently my front page story says it jumps to page 8 when it is actually jumped to page 7 and a filler that tells our readers there are more Old Settlers photos on page 8 should say pages 6 and 7. Not to mention leaving out the t in 86th, so it looks like Old Settlers finished a really, really long run which, if they had, it would be big news.

The frustrating thing, though, is I actually tried to head the problem off. I woke at 3:30 a.m this morning and a thought bolted through my mind that I had forgotten to change that information on the front page. At 6:45 a.m I came to the office, made the corrections, then sent the corrected page to press–well before the press would print our newspaper since the press manager doesn’t even get to work until 8:00 a.m. He always checks email before he puts us on the press, but not today.

He sheepishly greeted me when I arrived to pick up the newspapers and told me. He said he hoped the page number change was all that was corrected. I told him it was, and he apologized. As I told him, “My readers will just think the editor is crazy yet again.”

Cindi @ 4:53 pm
Posted under: Local Life
Keep the Ox; You’ll need it for the harvest.

Posted on Friday 28 August 2009

Blogger’s Note: In my previous post I outlined for you the City of Spur’s budget deficit problem. If you haven’t already read that post (”Spur City Council faces a daunting task”), I ask you to read it before you continue reading this one.

Spur City Council members are facing the difficult task of balancing the city’s budget for the upcoming 2009/2010 fiscal year which begins on October 1. The City must overcome a shorfall in revenue next year versus this year’s revenue. Their proposed budget will cut the Spur Main Street Program after December 31, so the city has only budgeted funding for that program for the remaining three months of its contract with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Main Street Program.

Spur Mayor Deborah Harris and the city council are hoping to find funding for the program from other sources. Harris told the council that when the program was adopted three years ago, individuals and businesses had promised to help fund the program but as the years passed that commitment from the community fell away.

Shortly after Spur became a Main Street city, Friends of Spur Main Street, a nonprofit organization was formed to take donations from individuals, businesses, and other organizations to help fund the program. Now that organization needs someone to step up to the plate to raise funds to keep the program going when the city pulls out at the end of the year.

The Main Street Program is responsible for the downtown revitalization efforts which have occurred during the past three years in Spur. It is also responsible for the adoption of Spur’s Type B sales tax which recently accrued enough revenue to begin helping  Spur businesses improve their facilities and services. Hopefully that same fund may be used to attract new businesses as well. Main Street is also responsible for the adoption of a Hotel/Motel tax which created funds to promote tourism.

Many in our community don’t see the program as necessary, and maybe it is unnecessary, but it is vital if we as a community really want to improve our community. Whether that be aesthetically or economically, the Main Street Program could and would be a key component in achieving improvement in both of those areas.

I receive a daily devotional via email at my office every morning. This morning’s was about a verse in Proverbs: “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”—Proverbs 14:4; the devotional goes on to explain, “This interesting verse focuses on two possible approaches to risk and personal investment. You can choose a ‘clean stable’, avoiding the dirt, mess, and hassle of taking care of the ‘ox’ (pet, child, opportunity). But then you also miss out on the reward: what the ‘ox’ could bring into your life (’a large harvest’). Certainly there are times to ‘buy the ox’ and times not to. As opportunities present themselves, pray about whether this is an ‘ox’ that’s worth all that’s entailed with giving up a ‘clean stable.’ Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

Many can only see the exterior of the program and some of the problems it has exhibited which usually comes with initiating a new program. Yes, our sidewalk improvement project in downtown Spur left a distasteful air, but we can’t blame the Main Street Program for that. It is the nature of the beast (program) to look like a war zone during the project, and, in our case, shoddy workmaship and poor engineering took a toll on the face of it in the end. But we do have new sidewalks. Also many blame Main Street Manager Joyce Howze for the problems, but I feel she has done the best she could without much direction from the city or the Main Street Advisory Board. Whoa!!! What I just said will definitely get your attention if you want to take it personally. But there again, the board and the city could have used more direction as well.

But this is the type of program that takes years to see with the naked eye. I have never realized this more thanI have in recent months as a member of the Spur Economic Development board. That’s the board that governs how our Type B sales tax is spent for economic development within our community. We as a board had to wait a while to allow the money to accumulate before we could do anything substantial with it. Also all of the members of that board were new to this idea of economic development and how we could spend the funds, so consequently we had to create policies and practices as we went along. In the last couple of weeks our board has awarded about $15,000 to two downtown businesses for major improvements to their buildings. So things are starting to happen, and it has taken almost two years since the Type B sales tax went into effect.

Everyone in the community is a stakeholder in a local Main Street Program and benefits from effective downtown revitalization because it results in a better quality of life. Broad-based community support is a very important element of the Main Street model, and I am afraid this may be where the program may have faltered in its formative years. It failed in diligently seeking community support, and we as a community failed in giving it.

I believe we all should receive a “do-over”. Let’s see what we can do to keep the Main Street Program by supporting it with our time and our money. Granted some revamping needs to be done, but with willing community members much can be accomplished, and this “ox” called Main Street can drive the benefits home come harvest time.

Cindi @ 3:49 pm
Posted under: Local Life and Local Politics and Uncategorized
Joe Bell-a hometown boy

Posted on Sunday 23 August 2009

Sometimes there is the death of someone, who even though you knew them only slightly or saw them only occasionally, it jars you because you suddenly realize that they have indeed had an influence in your life. Joe Bell was one of those Spur exiles that held such an allegiance to his hometown and school that he seldom, if ever, missed a Spur Homecoming. Unfortunately he will miss the Spur 100 Centennial celebration this year October 8-10 during Spur Homecoming, and I for one will miss him. Joe died on Thursday in Odessa where he now lived.

Joe was a few years older than my parents and I always knew him by stories they told and the fact that he was one of the Spur “Bells” who used to operate Bell’s Cafe in downtown Spur which I remembered for fantastic open-face burgers with a superb brown gravy. They don’t make them like that anymore, at least not anywhere I have found.

I gathered from my parents’ stories that Joe was a character–one who was a bit of a bad boy but one who had a good heart and loved Spur with undying devotion. It was decades later that I would run across Joe in my own adult life. Working for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, I ran across Joe in a United grocery store in Lamesa. He was a manager. He was kind to me, treating me especially good just because I was from Spur.

Another decade later I encountered Joe again after purchasing the Texas Spur and moving back to my hometown of Spur. A few years later, Joe contacted me because of his involvement in establishing a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and drug addicts at White River Lake. I attended the grand opening of that facility and covered it for the Texas Spur. That’s when I learned of his compassion for those recovering from addiction. Joe exercised God’s grace because it had been shown to him. His obituary in the Odessa American quotes, ” ‘No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others.” - Big Book of AA’ ” And they certainly did.

Joe was a dedicated person who loved not just Spur but those whose lives he touched. While I may be a “hometown girl” who came back to contribute to my community of upbringing, I only hope to be the “hometown girl” that Joe was a “hometown boy.”

God love you, Joe. You will be missed!

Cindi @ 7:57 pm
Posted under: Local Life and Uncategorized
Spur City Council faces a daunting task

Posted on Thursday 20 August 2009

I attended the Spur City Council meeting on Tuesday night to hear a preliminary presentation for the city’s proposed 2009/2010 budget. Spur City Council members are faced with some tough decisions to make on the coming fiscal year’s budget. Preparation of the city’s annual budget is one of the most important responsibilities the city council faces each year.

This year the council is faced with a budget deficit of approximately $18,000 which means the city’s budget for next fiscal year is $18,000 short on income to meet estimated expenses. There are several reasons for this shortfall:

• A reduction in tax property values this year versus last year. The property value tax base for fiscal year 2008/2009 was $17,999,164. In 2009/2010 it will be $17,752,940. This is $246,244 less in taxable value than last year.

- Some of Spur’s commercial property went down in value according to the Dickens County Appraisal District after a reappraisal was peformed earlier this year.

-Several new exemptions and a new house bill for disabled veterans also dropped the taxable value of some residential homes inside Spur’s city limits.

Not enough profit from sales of water and sales of gas. Water and gas profits have been continually used to help fund operations of some of the following services: fire protection, police protection, parks & recreation, street maintenance, and the Main Street Program.

- Gas prices can fluctuate depending on demand. The City of Spur’s gas customers experience monthly increases or decreases due to the fluctuation in purchase price from WTG Gas Marketing whose prices reflect the current gas market prices. The City’s average purchase price for gas last year was $8.35 and for this year has been $3.84. The City considers the need to maintain their gas price within the rate of current propane prices. Most of the total budgeted profit from gas sales in 2009/2010 will be used for operating expenses in the city’s gas department with only $7,281 going into the general fund to fund city services that were mentioned above.

-The water and sewer fund will also operate with a 15 percent decrease in profit in the next year due to less water sales. The city will experience a 50 percent decrease in water sales to Valley Water Corporation alone, since Valley Water has dropped from 2 million gallons used per month to under 1 million per month. While the city is proud that the Valley Water System will be financially sound due to their improvements, management and conservation efforts, the city cannot ignore the drop in water sales.

Spur City Council members are faced with a daunting task in the next couple of weeks. I am hoping this will make Spur residents and others aware of what the council faces when its looks at ways in which to overcome the $18,000 shortfall. Please keep this in mind and in prayer as council members look at different avenues in which to cut the city’s budget. Most of all my hope is this will give residents some understanding and compassion for those trying to make such difficult decisions, and, rather than slandering the council with negative remarks and objectionable advice, shower them with encouragement and helpful suggestions.

Cindi @ 3:31 pm
Posted under: Local Life and Local Politics and Uncategorized
Emotional attachments

Posted on Thursday 13 August 2009

I’m sure most everyone has or has had an emotional attachment to someone or something at some point in life. As a child I had a collection of Breyer horses. I kept them on a bookcase in my room and would take them down and dust them just to look at them–the only thing I would dust without my mom having to tell me to dust them, but don’t tell her that. During one summer’s particularly active thunderstorm season I think I carried my collection in a cardboard box to the cellar at least three times. My older sister has never let me live that down.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were fly fishing on the Conejos River in Colorado with a fly fishing guide when I hooked a trophy-sized rainbow trout. Our guide coached me as I fought to land the mammoth trout directing me to reel it toward the river’s bank. That’s when I realized, “Oh my gosh! He doesn’t have a net!” As he positioned his hands underneath the fish, my guide assured me that I could consider this fish caught, because if I lost it now, it was no fault of mine. With that said he scooped the fish up in his hands and tossed it up and onto the bank of the river.

I stared at the fish, amazed at its size and beauty and awe-struck that I had actually hooked such a trophy, knowing this was the kind of fish my husband and many other anglers only dreamed of catching. It still seems surreal. Later our guide told us that he had lost his net a couple of weeks prior after guiding a party on another river. At the end of that day he neglected to load the net into his vehicle. As he drove down the mountain he realized he had forgotten his net, so he turned around and went back to the retrieve it only to find his net already gone. He said the net held great sentimental value for him, and he had not yet been able bring himself to replace it.

Hopefully he will now. The experience of helping me land my trophy fish without one might add some affection to a new net.

Cindi @ 12:34 pm
Posted under: Uncategorized
Testing texting

Posted on Friday 24 July 2009

I never thought I would get into text messaging until last summer when my husband had surgery. Then it was a useful tool to communicate the same message to multiple parties and ony have to say it once. Now it has become useful in various situations like sending a message to someone who may be in a meeting or indisposed in other ways.

My friend’s son tells her he prefers texting to calling and talking to friends and/or family on the phone because he can bypass all the salutations like “What’s going on?” or “How are you?” and get to the point of the call. Then, in the case of my 22-year-old assistant and my 18-year-old part-timer, there is the benefit of communicating with peers, boys in particular, with the security of not having to talk to them face to face, which leads me to the point of this blog.

It has come to my attention in observing the two young ladies’ involvement in their “text liaisons” that things are often said or asked that one would never say or ask if one were actually looking the addressee in the eye. Last week, for example, one of them was asked by their “friend” if they had ever slept with anyone. In my day, that was not a question that was asked of someone, especially at the beginning of a relationship and certainly not if two people had never carried on a conversation face to face. Often these “text trysts” are abruptly halted by one or both parties when something is said and, whether it got a response or not, all conversation ceases. End of discussion, so to speak.

It makes me wonder where our society will go when relationships with other people are left to such chance. Without a face there are no clues to be found through expressions or body language which ultimately dooms the whole point of getting to know a person.

Cindi @ 11:43 am
Posted under: Uncategorized
Making history

Posted on Friday 19 June 2009

To say that attending a person’s memorial service is rewarding may be atypical, but in the case of Ila Johnston, who passed away last month at the age of 103, it was an edifying experience. But then that wouldn’t come as any surprise to those who knew her, for her life was just that, an edifying experience. As a teacher at Spur ISD she touched the lives of many, teaching generations of students, including my mom, dad, and sister. Unfortunately for me, I missed having her as a teacher, since she retired before I got into Spur Junior High.

I got to know Ila when I moved back to Spur in 1996 while she was working on the restoration of the Palace Theater. This spry, energetic 90-year-old woman was at the Palace most every day and would drop in to say hi at the newspaper office located right next door. One day she arrived with a gift for me–a coffee mug with the inscription “In the cookies of life, friends are the chocolate chips.” I cherished that mug which lived on my desk filled to the brim with coffee every day.

When freelance photographer Michael O’Brien contacted me in late 1998 about nominating a “small-town character” from Spur for his feature “Townsfolk” in Texas Monthly magazine I consulted a couple of friends, and we were decidedly for nominating Ila. When O’Brien arrived to take photos of Ila, by then age 93, I wondered what I had gotten her into, asI helped her over a weedy bar ditch into a field to be photographed. O’Brien spent part of a day and the better part of the next day hauling her around to different locations to take photos of her. Still, she bought me that mug anyway.

Every time I went to visit her, as I would be leaving she would tell me, “You behave.” I always assured her I would not, and she would laugh and said she wouldn’t either. So I gave her a shirt as a parting gift when she moved away from the nursing home in Spur to Crosbyton. It was inscribed: “Well behaved women seldom make history.” That would be the last time I saw her. Here’s to making history, Ila.

Cindi @ 11:02 am
Posted under: Local Life and Uncategorized
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