September 26th marks a decade since Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge opened

This Thursday, from 3:00-6:00, volunteers will be on hand at the Visitor’s Center at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Zeugner Dr, Karnack, TX 75661, to share history of the refuge, and help direct them to interesting hikes, providing just cold water and interpretation/welcoming.

Background: September 26th marks a decade that the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Karnack, Texas, has been open to the public.  Many elected officials at the local, state and federal level, as well as employees of their agencies, alongside local nonprofits and local people, all had a hand in the journey to opening this resource to the public.  In 1997 the decommissioning of the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant allowed the Caddo Lake Institute to lease significant lands at the plant to prove the ecological value of the site.  That resulted in an agreement for the transfer of ownership from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, creating the overlay Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge on October 19, 2000. The plant has been gradually conveyed to USFWS as as clean-up of the contamination of the areas of the lands were used by the Army of manufacturing explosives, and other munitions are completed. 

The Refuge Officially opened to the public on September 26th, 2009.  Open dawn to dusk, the public has access to:  a 6 mile auto tour route, and many more miles of road suitable for cycling; 6 hiking trails providing over 10 miles of trail; 9 miles of horseback trails; multiple bird blinds; the Visitor Center; Starr Ranch Pavillion; and a boat ramp for canoes and kayaks.  The Refuge also hosts white-tailed deer hunts and feral hog hunts. Included are opportunities for youths and hunters with disabilities. 

The Refuge purpose is the management, conservation, and protection of migratory birds and other fish and wildlife.  This bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem provides essential habitat for a diversity of migratory and resident wildlife species in Texas.   Caddo Lake NWR contains some of the best examples of mature flooded bald cypress forest in the United States and includes cypress trees nearly 400 years old.  The Caddo Lake wetlands also support one of the most diverse plant communities in Texas.    The wetlands of Caddo Lake are very important to migratory bird species within the Central Flyway.  The area supports one of the highest breeding populations of wood ducks, prothonotary warblers, and other birds in the United States.  With recent reports showing a steep decline in our nation’s birds, this key habitat is even more crucial.  Fish and Wildlife Service Water right, resulting from the Refuge designation, now helps protect flows into the Lake and thus habitat for many fish, bird, and vegetation species, including the state threatened paddlefish.

For more about visiting the refuge: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/caddo_lake/.  For more about how to volunteer to help at the refuge:  http://caddofriends.com/ or the Texas Master Naturalists at https://txmn.org/cypress/.  For more about the cleanup at LHAAP: http://www.longhornaap.com/. For more about the Caddo Lake Institute: www.caddolakeinstitute.org

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To all my friends and detractors

By George Smith

To all my friends and detractors who are due-hard supporters of President Donald Trump: He is either not smart, senility is being thrust upon him…or  combination of both.

Wait! Don’t flip to the Cute Cat YouTube site just yet!

If he was smart Trump would know when to immerse himself in a cone of silence, he would know that imparting  his personal brand of wisdumb is counterproductive to advancing conservative values and he would stop lying about anything that can be easily checked.

His supporters can like his stances on abortion (on this issue he is a chameleon, changing sides like Jackie O changed White House sheets). 

He laments the influx of dark-skinned immigrants, which thrills rhe racists that help up his base. 

He embraces the worst of the world’s worst dictators. 

He undermines the security of this country by flubberlipping secrets to foreign powers.

Yet, to his faithful, he is the “stable genius” he proclaims.

Do stabie geniuses use terms like “powerful concrete” when talking about a border fence? 

Does a stable genius have to be told by an agency official he is making public classified information at a press conference?

Do stable geniuses lie spontaneously about issues and people that are easily checked with a Google search?

Are stable geniuses prone to publicly lambast individuals because of disabilities, skin color, religious preference or economic status?

Trump is a self-destructive buffoon, a spoiled rich man-child, a self-promoter with a one-sided dubious history of unethical business dealings, abusive  personal relationships and of demanding loyalty while never giving it in return.

Trump, as an ethical leader in business and in the business of politics, is a dismal failure.

As president he has let his country and the world down.

History will punish his childish antics harshly. Believers in democracy can only hope that American voters will punish him in 13 months.

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Viansa Winery Thirty Years Ago

By Deloris Munden

By Deloris Munden

About 30 years ago my technical writing company was a 7-day a week job. It was supposed to be my “retirement” job following my retirement from Uncle Sam. The one where you work a couple of days a week. In this case success was not a good thing.


In the meantime I saw an ad for a new winery nearby that featured 90 acres of wetlands, a deli and wine by the bottle. The name of the winery was Viansa and it was just too close to pass up.


My first trip there was everything the ad promised and more. The wetlands were filled with birds and migrations were fantastic. Wine, cheese and bread was good and I found myself turning away work so that I could visit the winery.


Eventually I was able to get Ron away from his office long enough to see the winery and he liked what he saw.


Bad move! Ron thought I should get a job there. No way. Most of you have been spared the experience of the Munden sales pitch. Ron can become the most nagging, in-your-face person you ever want to meet. I received multiple calls from him daily asking if I had scheduled an interview. He shoved and I would give in a bit. He would shove more and one day I found myself behind a wine tasting bar saying “Hello and welcome to Viansa.”


I must have been crazy.


That was my introduction into the Sonoma Valley wine experience. At the end of the day it was not uncommon for Sam Sebastiani to come in to the winery and share with us what he had been doing in the vineyard that day, the progress of the vines and fruit and to ask us what was selling and what was the feedback.


I couldn’t believe it. Sam’s father, Samueli, was the first generation Sebastiani in Sonoma and he was the driving force that helped Sonoma become what it is today.
What an incredible experience. It was a slow start. We would park our cars by the highway so people would think that we had a lot of visitors.


We started serving triple chocolate cookies with Cabernet Sauvignon which sent our sales soaring. 


And all the while Sam is planting and planting. Olive trees so we could make olive oil, focusing on Italian varietals and having staff meetings to keep us informed.


Ron visited Viansa last week and he said it is so lush and green with lots of visitors enjoying a glass of wine and the beautiful view of Sonoma Valley.


Thank you Ron for being a pest and pushing me into one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had.

Play Like

By George Smith

Okay, let’s play a childhood game: “Play-like”.

You remember it if your childhood days were spent in the 1950s and ‘60s: Play-like you are a princess or a Knight  of the Round Table or a rock singer or a movie star: That was the whole premise of the game.

I am, right this instant, playing this game: Play-like I am President Donald Trump.

Okay, cool! I am one of the most powerful humans on Earth; I am rich and married to a super-hot former soft-porn model who is, by all accounts, a dedicated mother.

I am also an abysmally poor liar, popping out  jaw-dropping untruths with the regularity of a kitten with diarrhea.

I open my mouth and I lie; I use my pointer finger or opposable thumbs to dash off 10 tweets a day and lie.

And my lies are of the pre-K variety, you know, lying about not taking a cookie when you have an oatmeal mustache on your face.

As president, my lies have substance and can literally adversely affect relationships with invaluable allies or even undermine basic tenets of democracy.

Listen up: I did not attend the G-7 discussion on climate change because I had important meetings with the leaders of Germany and India. 

What? Both leaders were at the meeting? Well, I just got my times messed up. 

I was actually on a phone call with China setting up important trade talks.
Say huh? China said there was no phone call? Well, there was one and I was holding the phone and talking tough, so I ought to know.

I don’t lie and anyone who claims I do, THEY are lying.

Oh, before I forget, big news: I played golf this morning and shot a 71. Yeppers, it’s great to be me.

Trumps Tweets

By George Smith

I understand loyalty to a candidate on select issues.  Using pro-life as an example, i personally would never insert myself between a conscious choice between a woman and her doctor but I have empathy for those that do).

I am taken aback by friends who question whatever I write negatively about our president and label me a biased and left-wing nutso meadow muffin chunker. 

Have you ever noticed they never explain what twerks out of Trump’s mouth mean and offer their personal explanation.

I know the reason: They cannot defend statements like these:

—“Mexico will pay for the wall.”

—“I alone can fix it.”

—“think I am, actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.”

—”Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure. It’s not your fault.” 

—”My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well been documented, are various other parts of my body.”

—”I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”

—“You know, it really doesn’t matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” 

—”There has to be some form of punishment (for work men for  abortion)…you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it.” 

—”Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people.” 

—”These are stupid people that say, ‘Oh, didn’t Trump declare bankruptcy? Didn’t he go bankrupt?’ I didn’t go bankrupt.”

—”For evangelicals, for the Christians, for the everybody, for everybody of religion, this will be, may be, the most important election that our country has ever had. And once I get in, I will do my thing that I do very well. And I figure it is probably, maybe the only way I’m going to get to heaven. So I better do a good job.” 

And, the two statements that created an undeniable need in me to vote ”against” Trump  and rail against his messidency until I go toe’s-up:

— “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

—”They don’t write good. They have people over there (New York Times) , they don’t they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good.”  

I can write good at times. I know how to vote good, too.

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Solution to overcharging the gummit

By George Smith

No one has asked the question yet, but I’ll answer it anyway: Sure. No problem. Count us in! Ready to get ‘er done!

Yes, to put the rumor to rest, Esteemed Spousal Unit Bobbie Jean and I will be more than happy to house a family of detained immigrants at Bedspring Ridge.  

It has nothing to do with the fact that private start-up detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrants are getting up to $750 per day per person detained. (At that rate, a family of four costs the taxpayer $21,000 a week or $1,092,000 a year.)

That is a ridiculous amount and my taxes are going to pay for part of that!

We’ll put up a family of four at our home for only $8,252 a week. (That is a bargain basement price of only $343.83 per detainee per day, a saving of $406.17 a day from the fee charged by the price-gouging private companies.

With a one-year federal contract, guaranteeing the same daily rate, we will accept two additional families and pledge to immediately  construct an identical facility with all amenities.

And at no extra charge, we will teach our immigrants English with daily classes (we both are teacher-certified – me in English, writing, business, marketing, Bob in reading, writing and life skills. At no additional charge, our family could include a child with special meeds. BobJean has a degree in special education and I have experience working with children with special needs in sports – soccer, baseball and basketball.

We have 1.25 miles of walking trails at Bedspring Ridge Detention Center for daily  exercise; additional, optional opportunities for exercising include performing gardening tasks, beautifying our pond or removing underbrush with tools of their choice. 

Like many detention centers, the detainees will be able to earn money for work they agree to perform. But unlike many facilities, the BRDC wil pay prevailing state minimum wage, even if it is higher than the federal standard.

“Above all, be fair.” That’s the motto on the crest of our detention center.

Our contract will also attest we will provide them with adequate shower and bath facilities, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste and clean water not out of a toilet tank.

We will guarantee ealthy food prepared and tasting better than in any federal holding facility in the country. 

As an added incentive to make our family of detainees feel at home, we will provide ingredients for a meal from their home country a minimum of two days a week with free use of the detention kitchen.

The feds will only be billed $501,991.80 year, a savings of more than 50 percent.

I know. I know. As patriots and an examples of deficit accountability, we stand tall.

Fellow Americans, you are welcome!

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Letter to the Editor: No-kill animal shelter should be a city priority

The animal shelter, again.

In March of this year, Marshall City Commissioners adopted a resolution approving a low-kill animal shelter. As we say in the navy, Bravo Zulu, Marshall!

Now what?

The city manager has had a chance to get his feet wet, the new commissioners are in place, private fundraising continues, and many of us are left wondering where the new shelter stands on the city’s list of priorities.

At about the same time a new animal shelter was approved, yet another stray dog made her way to our property, where we found her hiding in our carport, scared to death.

She had fairly recently had puppies, had hookworm and is heartworm positive. She was initially so timid that she would not join me for a walk outside the fenced yard, and getting her 60 pounds into the car for a vet visit was a Herculean task.

Inside of a month, she was the alpha dog of her new pack. She’s joyful and loving, and she leaps into the car even before I’m ready. The change was incredible.

Every time I look at her, I think of Marshall Animal Shelter and wonder how many like her have been destroyed since March, and how many more will be killed before a new shelter opens.

Yes, I understand it’s “a process.” But I also understand that we’ve been here before. I doubt that the people who worked so hard to get us to this point, again, are willing to watch years roll by as this gets pushed into the background, again. The city owes them a plan.

Linda Harber,

Marshall