No Deed; No Title


Having been presented with an irrefutable sign.

By Lad Moore

For most of my working career, the dictates of corporate employment took me to duty stations a great distance from home. Those absences seemed like exile, serving only to make me long to return to the place I had left.

True to this need for reconnection, I reserved one week a year to revisit my insatiable mistress; fishing and frogging the bayous and main waters of East Texas’ Caddo Lake. In the course of those years I took many of my friends there. Introducing them to the lake was like showing off some cherished personal belonging. Later, I began to regret my generosity. Many of my guests assumed the same level of ‘ownership’ that I held and began including their other friends. There was something about the pristine wildness and the rare beauty of the Spanish-moss tapestries that made me selfish. I did not like others losing their hearts to the lake as I had mine. 

Caddo holds a special place in our state’s history. After its peaceful days as habitat for its namesake Caddo Indians, the lake was never again allowed to rest. Spanning decades, man’s ego devised many plans for this, the largest natural lake in the state. Some of the schemes were grandiose, some just folly. Steamboats once ploughed the waters from New Orleans to the port of Jefferson, serving as an important waterway from the south. Much later there followed private development of homes and businesses to support the growing popularity of recreation. Perhaps its heyday came in the 1950s, when there were few competing lakes. Norman Rockwell-modeled anglers in expensive outfits and wicker creels traveled great distances to enjoy Caddo’s unique character. Lodges and campgrounds were built to complement its beautifully rustic state park. The lure of the cypress and moss-framed scenery brought tourists by the carloads. Some visitors came and went in a single day. Some stayed a lifetime. 

Thankfully, the sanity of time prevailed over these pressures and most dreams of aggressive development were one by one subjugated. But even today, with the adjoining property pending protection as a refuge, there still stir controversies over the lake’s purpose. There are those who wish it to enjoy a natural evolution. Others want to tamper with its heart to artificially serve special interests such as industrialization and water exploitation. Sadly, the squabbles about claims, ownership and rights of determination may go on forever.

Like some say about the state of Texas itself, everything at Caddo Lake is bigger and grander than anywhere else. It’s true of the nesting birds, its arm-girth moccasins, the spring and fall crappie runs, and especially true of the prized frogs that reach extraordinary size in its secretive backwaters. In keeping with this theme of grandeur, such was…

The Storm

It was daybreak on a May morning that was forecast for scattered showers. As I sat on the pier with cane pole in hand, mountains of green-black clouds began to march menacingly at me from the North. Their darkness gave the scattering egrets an eerie contrast, like Styrofoam sailing against black velvet. At the bottom of the approaching curtain was a hundred-foot wall of churning sky, rolling like yesterday’s crawfish-boil. The wind brought a sudden chill, banishing the warmth of the yellow sunrise just past. Webs of electricity began to lace the clouds together, emissaries of St Elmo himself. 

In an instant, campground tents were billowing like towels pinned to a clothesline. Coffee pot lids joined potato chips as impromptu airborne missiles. Campers still in nightclothes were scrambling, as would ants disturbed by a sudden exposure of their hiding place. Then came awesome arrays of cloud-toearth lightning, streaking like tracer bullets. Their brilliance illuminated the darkness to reveal a submissive heaven, engorged with rain and stones of ice. Random blasts of thunder trailed the lightning, crashing like the crescendo of a dozen angry kettle drummers.

Now poured a merciless torrent, cascades of water from a bottomless urn. I scuttled to the safety of the steel and cement canopy beneath Big Cypress Bridge. Golf-ball hail began to pound my new pickup truck, a weather-sin I could not forgive. I bolted for the truck, hoping to move it under the cover. I was quickly driven back. All things of man must relinquish their mastery, at least for this moment.

It ended as suddenly as it began, the storm losing its potency like the anticlimactic whimper of an extinguished Roman candle. I stepped out from under the bridge into a freshly washed day. Soon my stunned camping comrades joined me and we stared out over the water. A carpet of steam stirred gently across the now-placid lake, rising like the sweet vapor from freshly baked bread on a morning windowsill. Suddenly the wonderment all fit; this place, its history, the wildlife, and now this humbling, terrible storm.

It was heaven’s smorgasbord with melded recipes that contrast awesome power with the beauty of creation. 

No, I thought, this place and its purpose must not be altered. Somehow we must always be reminded that we are merely overnight guests.

* * * 

The author’s three collections of short stories, Tailwind, Odie Dodie, and Riders of the Seven Hills are available at all traditional booksellers. Copies signed by the author 

may be obtained by contacting him directly via  pogo@shreve.net or at  his web page at:  http://laddiemoore.blogspot.com/

~~~

The story featured here holds © Copyright 2010 by the author, Lad Moore. All rights reserved.


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MARSHALL’S SECOND BIGGEST TOURIST EVENT RETURNS – HEALTFEST IS BACK!

By Ron Munden – February 23, 2020

Josey Ranch is Marshall’s biggest tourism draw.  In 2017 the second biggest tourism draw for Marshall was Healthfest.  By state definition a tourist is someone who travels more than 50 miles and stays overnight in Marshall. Studies have shown someone that stays overnight spends more than three times as much as a day visitor.

By comparison Josey Ranch’s tourism draw is more that 10 times bigger than Healthfest.  But using the same comparison Healthfest’ tourism draw is over 10 times bigger that Wonderland of Lights tourist draw.  So, since 2010, nothing other than Josey Ranch has brought more tourists to Marshall. Heathfest 2020 is a big deal for the town.

There is another milestone.  Healthfest 2020 will be the first tourist event to be held at the Memorial City Hall Performance Center.

Here are few interesting numbers related to Healthfest:

Between 2012 and 2017 registration grew from 160 to 622.

In 2017 the data shows:

Healthfest Stats for 2017

  • Total Registration  — 622
  • 5K/10K/1 mile Fun Run — 308
  • Cities represented — 154 
  • States represented — 22
  • Countries — 2
  • From Marshall — 15% 

You may be asking — why did the Healthfest not continue in 2018.  There are two reasons.  First, the organizers Ed and Amanda Smith decided to spend more of their time working on replacing Marshall’s 50-year old animal shelter.  Second and just as important, between 2017 and mid-2019 no one in the city could give the wildest estimate as to when the Memorial City Hall renovation would be completed.

All of this is finally behind the city, which means Marshall’s second largest tourist event is coming back to town.

One final number.  Registration in 2017 was 622.  Registration for the 5K/10K/1-mile Fun Run was 308.  I interviewed some of the runners and found that a number of the people who registered for the race were not attending Healthfest but came from Dallas and Houston to run with some of the better-known racers who were featured in the race.  Based on this information the total combined registration may have been more than 700.

Heathfest’s return is great news for Marshall on so many levels. It provides outstanding and proven health information and also provides an economic boost to the community.


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DEBATE

By George Smith

Politics. Debate. Las Vegas.

It was easy to tell the winners and losers Wednesday night. 

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg: Ouch. Bad night. Double ouchy. Lots of heavy blows landed by just about ever other candidate but his his were heavy when it came to counterpunching. There is no way he could not have anticipated the heavy verbal artillery that his opponents lobbed at him. Yet, he dud and stumbled around like an eighth-grade boy asking his dream girl to the junior high prom.

Small town Mayor Buttigieg: He was there.  Yeah, he showed up but seemed lost in the verbal brouhaha. He’s is so likable and intelligent yet on this night he seemed to be stuck looking for the right moment to jump in the adult conversation.

Former VP Joe Biden: Lackluster performance. Looked and talked like he missed his nap. Lost more ground, if that was possible.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Seemed more accommodating and pleasant than usual. She tried hard to be the party peace-keeper…but no one else was listening; the others smelled Bloomberg’s blood in the water. Gained no ground but didn’t lose much either. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders: He was so strident and red-faced, I

It was hard not to sincerely worry about his health. His screamin’ meemie style is really getting old. And his call for “Free Everything for Everybody” plan is getting on the nerves of a lot of moderate Democrats and Independents. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Won the night by tacking Bloomberg’s record on stop-and-frisk policy, non-disclosure agreements with women, his course language and contributions to Republican candidates up on the TV screen for all to see.

On this one night, in this single debate, she showed the in-your-face mettle it will take to trump Trump’s superiority ploy on any stage.

And the candidates go plodding along…. 


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NEGATIVITY

By George Smith

I hate negativity.
That said, Bernie cannot win.
Neither can Buttigieg.
Warren is iffy-squared.

To be frank, the label “Socialist Jew”, a man proudly claiming “This is my husband” and a wary woman warrior with a branded label (Pocahontas) cannot win…without some stipulations.

Bernie might have a chance if he were to announce he would only serve one term and pick his successor as VP. Klobacher? Staci Abrams? Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan? Whoever the choice, it cannot be a white man.

Buttigieg’s time is coming, but just not now, not in this toxic no rules-niceties-be-damned political environment.

Warren might take a brokered convention, but she, too, needs to select the proper running mate to have a chance against Trump? Corey Booker, mayhaps? Beto O’Rourke? 

The Democrat Party’s choices are daunting.

One thing is clear: If the Democrats don’t get it right in 2020, America in 2024 will be unrecognizable.

Not a dire prediction. A take-it-to-the-bank reality.


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OPINION: HONORING THE MEMORY OF COMMISSIONER GAIL BEIL?

By Ron Munden – February 17, 2020

During the last few years of Commissioners Gail Beil’s life she worked tirelessly on replacing Marshall’s  50-year old animal shelter.– the oldest animal shelter in Texas and one with one of the highest “kill rates” in the state.  I think it is safe to say Gail Beil was the strongest supporter of replacing the shelter on the City Commission.

With only 5 commission meetings before the next city election, the Marshall City Commissioners selected a temporary commissioner to serve in Commissioner Beil’s place for those 5 meetings.  On a 3 – 2 vote the Commissioners selected Mr. Leo Morris.  Commissioners Bonner, Calhoun, and Ware voted for Mr. Leo Morris.  Commissioners Brown and Lewis voted for Mr. Jeff Henderson.  Commissioner Hurta did not attend the meeting.

I find it ironic that the Marshall City Commissioners replaced the strongest supporter of the animal shelter with the person that has fought hardest to prevent Marshall building a new animal shelter.

On April 12, 2017 the Marshall News Messenger printed and article that said:

Morris said, while he was not expressly against the animal shelter, he felt the city had other priorities it should be attending to.

“I am not against the animal shelter; I think Marshall needs one,” Morris said., adding he collected a petition of 342 signatures for the animal shelter to be placed up for a bond election.

I must point out that this move by Mr. Morris and others was to stop the City Commission from moving forward on the long-delayed project.

On April 26, 2017 the Marshall News Messenger printed:

District 2 candidate Leo Morris reminded the audience infrastructure was more than roads, and stated the allocated funds for the animal shelter should be used to repair other city structures, with the animal shelter being placed in the strategic plan.

Anyone that has worked in business or government knows that moving a project for a tactical plan to a strategic is a “kiss of death” for that project.

Last Thursday action by the Marshall City Commissioners was a slap in the face to Commissioner Beil.

Commissioners Bonner, Calhoun, and Ware what were you thinking?

Commissioner Hurta where were you when the votes were counted?

Voters of District 2 you can honor Commissioner Beil on May 2, 2020.  Go to the polls and vote for the kind of person that Gail Beil would have wanted to replace her on the commission.


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Gail Kimes Beil Obituary

Obituary

Gail Beil ~ longtime community advocate and city commissioner, historian, gardener, baker, champion of vulnerable people and homeless animals alike ~ died Wednesday evening, January 8, 2020, after a long illness.  She was 81.

She was born in Oklahoma City on February 7, 1938 to Steve and Gail Kimes, who died in childbirth.  Following the death of her birth mother and namesake, the baby Gail was raised by Albert and Louise Kimes, a newlywed aunt and uncle who also became her parents.  She spent her early childhood moving throughout the South along the path of Albert’s job in oil exploration, eventually settling in Houston.  She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1960, and married Greg Beil on September 3 of that year.  In 1965, the couple and their two young children moved to a small German village in the Rhine River Valley, where Greg obtained his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at the Max Planck Institute in Mainz.  The family returned to the United States, first to Houston, and then to Marshall in 1971 after Greg was recruited to join the faculty at Wiley College.  In the late 1990s, Gail returned to college, obtaining her master’s degree in history from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1999.

During her life, Gail worked in public relations, public services administration and journalism.  But her passion lay in jobs without a salary.  She was instrumental in construction of the Marshall Public Library building in 1973.  She was a charter member of the local League of Women Voters, an organization she served for 50 years.  She was a past president of the East Texas Historical Commission. (If you’ve read a historical marker in Harrison County, chances are she researched and wrote it.)  She served on boards for the library, parks, depot, symphony and others we can’t remember because the list is so long.  In 2017, she was elected to serve on the Marshall City Commission, a seat voters returned her to in 2019.

She threw her all into every task, whether it was restoring Memorial City Hall, cooking meals for the Wiley College debaters, or pulling weeds from the garden she tended even by moonlight.  She was happiest when her hands were digging in dirt, or dusted in flour. Strangers were welcomed into her kitchen as friends, and friends as family.  We will miss her sharp wit, her famous potato rolls, and most of all, her bottomless heart. 

Services for Ms. Beil will be held Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 3:00pm at First United Methodist Church.  Survivors include her children, Tom Beil of Berkeley, CA, Laura Beil of Cedar Hill, TX and Angie Potts of Dallas, TX; sisters, Kathy Gutierrez of Houston, TX, Charlotte Speers of Tucson, AZ; brothers, Louis Kimes of San Augustine, TX, Lloyd Kimes of Cuero, TX and Brownie Kimes of Houston, TX; foster son, Jonathan Ennis of Fort Worth, TX; four grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom she loved beyond measure.  Donations in Gail’s honor may be made to the Marshall Depot Museum, 800 N. Washington Street, Marshall, TX 75670 or Friends of Marshall Animals, P. O. Drawer V, Marshall, TX 75671. Online condolences may be offered at http://www.meadowbrookfh.com


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OPINION: THE MARSHALL CITY COMMISSION PICKS THEIR WINNER

By Ron Munden – February 14, 2020

On February 12, 2020 I wrote an article titled, “OPINION: WHY IS THE MARSHALL CITY COMMISSION PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS?”.  On February 13, 2020 the current City Commission fell into a trap that two other recent City Commissions had avoided – they inserted themselves into the selection of a City Commissioner in a district other than the district they represent. They signaled who they want to be the commissioner for District 2.

With only 5 commission meetings before the city election, the Commissioners selected a temporary commissioner to serve for those meetings.  On a 3 – 2 vote the Commissioners selected Mr. Morris.  Commissioners Bonner, Calhoun, and Ware voted for Mr. Leo Morris.  Commissioners Brown and Lewis voted for Mr. Jeff Henderson.  Commissioner Hurta did not attend the meeting.

In my opinion, the City Commission acted improperly in selecting a temporary commissioner for these five meetings.  But, my opinion is not important — the opinion of every voter in District 2 is very important. 

On May 2, 2020 those voters should go to the poll and vote for the person THEY think will be the best commissioner for District 2 and not be influenced by the unfortunate action of the current City Commission.

Go vote!