Columns/Opinions

Thu
06
Dec

World War II captivity of “Lost Battalion”

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

A troop ship carrying more than 500 fighting men from Texas was a week out of Hawaii on the way to Australia on Dec. 14, 1941.

National Guardsmen from Wichita Falls, Abilene, Lubbock and other towns throughout northwest Texas were drummed into federal service in November 1940. A stroke of the pen turned the weekend warriors into regular Army and lumped them together in 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.

The rigorous regimen at Camp Bowie near Brownwood whipped the citizen soldiers into shape. But basic training was a picnic in paradise compared to two miserable months of tropical warfare maneuvers in the swamps of Louisiana.

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Thu
06
Dec

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush dies November 30

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 1 issued the following statement on the Nov. 30 death of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States:

"The state of Texas mourns with the nation at the passing of one of our greatest presidents. George H.W. Bush was an American hero and icon, he was a friend to all he met, he embodied class and dignity. Texans are genuinely honored that he called the Lone Star State home and we collectively grieve this monumental loss. On behalf of Texas, Cecilia and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the Bush family in their time of need."

Bush, 94, a Republican, served as the president from 1989 to 1993. He served as vice president from 1981 to 1989 alongside President Ronald Reagan. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas Congressional District 7, from 1967 to 1971, and went on to serve the nation in many other high-level appointed positions.

Thu
29
Nov

Texas unemployment rate hits lowest level since 1976

AUSTIN — Texas has its lowest unemployment rate in more than 42 years.

The Texas Workforce Commission on Nov. 16 announced that Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in October, down from 3.8 percent the prior month.

It is the lowest level of unemployment the state has seen since January 1976.

The Texas economy added 32,300 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in October. Annual employment growth was 3.1 percent, marking 102 consecutive months of annual growth.

Still, job opportunities abound.

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Thu
29
Nov

What’s happening in our state capital

My Five Cents

As we head into the holiday season and you gather with friends and family, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Here are five things happening around your state this month:

1. Visiting the Permian Basin

One of the things that Texas is most known for, other than cowboys and everything being bigger, is oil booms. One that has been in the news recently is the Permian Basin in West Texas. This boom is so big that companies are producing twice as much oil as they were four years ago. Recently, I traveled to West Texas to see the effects this boom has brought to this area of Texas. As Senate Transportation Committee Chair, my primary purpose was to study the damages caused to the infrastructure by the heavy traffic a boom like this one brings with it.

Thu
22
Nov

Jack Valenti: The rest of the amazing story

Texas History

By Bartee Haile

In the Nov. 22, 1963 photo taken on Air Force One, Jack Valenti is the compressed figure on the far left watching Judge Sarah T. Hughes swear in Lyndon Johnson as President of the United States.

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants was born in Houston in 1921. While still in the primary grades, he sacked groceries in the family-owned store and threw a newspaper route. An exceptional student, he was double promoted at least once and graduated high school at the age of 15.

College was financially out the question for Valenti leaving him with no other choice but to join the horde of desperate job-seekers in the depths of the Great Depression. He was happy to find work at a neighborhood movie theater popping corn, showing ticket-holders to their seats and doing whatever else his employer needed done.

 

Thu
22
Nov

Field of candidates for House speaker narrows to one

AUSTIN — Eight members of the Texas Legislature filed papers with the Texas Ethics Commission to declare themselves candidates for speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and as of last week, only one remained.

The candidacy of state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, gained momentum in October, and Bonnen on Nov. 13 announced he had the support of 109 members of the 150-member House. At minimum, it takes 76 votes to elect a speaker, which is 50 percent, plus one, of the 150 members of the House.

Thu
15
Nov

Western artist Remington visited Texas often

Texas History

The Evening Tribune took note of the presence of Frederic Remington in El Paso in a brief announcement on Nov. 19, 1893. The renowned artist was such a frequent visitor to Texas’ westernmost town that the editor saw no reason to make a big deal of another appearance.

Proving roots need not dictate destiny, the painter who gave stayat-home Americans their first true glimpse of the Southwest grew up in northern New York state. He enrolled in Yale at age 16 to please a demanding father but dropped out as soon as he died.

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Thu
15
Nov

Election results reveal larger than usual turnout

AUSTIN — More than 8.3 million of Texas' 15.8 million registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 general election, as shown in results posted by the secretary of state.

The turnout of almost 53 percent was recognized widely as the highest in nearly 50 years for a Texas election without presidential candidates on the ballot.

U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, D-El Paso, garnered national attention in his quest to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston, but Cruz won the race with 4,244,204 votes (50.92 percent) to 4,024,777 (48.29 percent) for O’Rourke.

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Thu
08
Nov

“Open Forum” opened minds in Houston, Dallas

By Bartee Haile

 

As part of the popular “Open Forum” in Houston, Margaret Sanger spoke on “The Need For Birth Control In America” to an audience of 2,500 in the city auditorium on Nov. 7, 1931. While six different Texas cities held regular public lectures by wellknown guest speakers in the early twentieth century, the “Open Forum” programs with the most staying power were in Dallas and Houston. And in both cases single individuals determined to broaden the intellectual and cultural horizons of their communities were responsible for the creation and survival of the civic institutions. In Big D that person was Elmer Scott. The Ohio native was fresh out of college in 1889, when a fraternity brother hired him as an assistant for the new office his company was opening in Dallas. The midwesterner liked the people and the city, which had a population of 65,000 at the time, and made a promise to himself that someday he would return.

 

 

Thu
01
Nov

Texas receives grant to help fund anti-terrorism measures

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Oct. 24 announced $55.5 million in funding from the federal Homeland Security Grant Program to support state and local efforts to prevent terror attacks and crack down on terroristic activity in Texas.

 

These awards, according to a governor’s office news release, will go toward local anti-terrorism efforts across the state, including 227 different State Homeland Security Program projects and 134 Urban Area Security Initiative projects.

 

"Texas is confronted with a wide range of threats that pose a risk to our safety and security each day, and as governor, my first priority is to ensure the safety and security of all Texans. These grants will enhance state and local officials' efforts to not only confront, but also prepare for and prevent, attacks before they happen," Abbott said.

 

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