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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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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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


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

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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!


By Ron Munden – February 12, 2021


In the article I said:

The Marshall City Commissioners have decided they will put themselves in the position of picking winners and losers in the District 2 election by making an appointment to fill Gail Beil’s seat for two months.

Several people have said that they think the city charter does not permit the City Commissioners to make the temporary appointment of a City Commissioner and the position should remain vacant until the next May election.

The City Charter states:

 Sec. 35. – Same—Election therefor.

In case of the vacancy of the office of any elective officer by death, resignation, failure or refusal to qualify, or for any other cause, the commission shall order an election to take place to fill such vacancy, at a date to be fixed, not later than thirty days after such vacancy occurs, and shall give ten days’ notice thereof, published in the official newspaper of the city. In case of a vacancy in the commission, the remaining commissioners shall do and perform all of the duties incumbent on such officer until the election and qualification of a successor. In case of a vacancy in the office of city secretary, the commission shall appoint some suitable person to perform the duties of such office until such city secretary is elected and qualified.

(Char. 1909, § 60)

It is clear to me that the position should remain empty until the next election.  Prior Commissioners must have agreed with me.  When Katie Jones died in December, her seat remained empty until the next May election.  When Louis Block resigned, his seat remained open until the next May election.

Looking at this from an engineering standpoint it is clear that the City Charter does not want the Commissioners to make a temporary appointment of a Commissioner. I have been told that some lawyer has reviewed the City Charter and said that the Charter is ambiguous so the City Commissioners could decide what they wanted to do.  If that is the case, the Commissioners should follow the precedent set by prior City Commissions.

The Commission made a wrong decision.  At Thursday night’s city commission meeting they will select a temporary commissioner who will serve for 8 to 10 weeks before the next election.  Their selection will signal to Marshall voters who they want to be the next commissioner for District 2.  This is exactly what the City Charter wanted to prevent.  The City Commissioners made an unforced error and it has placed them in a no-win situation.

In my earlier article I said:

There is still one final off-ramp for the Commissioners.

In other cities and counties where I have lived, I have seen two temporary appointments to positions filled by elected officials. In both cases the appointment was made contingent on the person agreeing not to run for the position during the next election. The appointment became a caretaker appointment, not an appointment that launched a political career.

This is the last-off ramp for the Commissioners. Otherwise the Commissioners are headed for a concrete wall at a high rate of speed.

Unfortunately, based on the past actions of these Commissioners, I see a concrete wall in their future.

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Mr. President, George sir, don’t forsake me now.

By Lad Moore

It was tortuous ritual to deal with my twenty-five cent allowance. There was both excitement and great trepidation to part with the coin. As soon as it fell into my hands, I placed it between my index finger and thumb, rubbing it for enough time to give the silver a fresh gleam. The tarnish remained on my fingers. I smelled it. It produced a kaleidoscope of odors—the silver tarnish smelled like, well, coins; but different than copper pennies which stained green if rubbed. It also released a faint remnant of perfume from my grandmother’s purse. I think I smelled cigar smoke too; probably the coin came to her in change from Joe Power’s Market. Mr. Power enjoyed his cigars, although they were unlit much of the time. He just swapped the mushy stub from cheek to cheek, like a battle was being waged with his tongue. 

Secondly, my reverence for the coin was amplified because of all the chores suffered to earn it. My duties included toting the horrific slop bucket to the street when the slop man came to pick it up. Sometimes the slop rocked out of the bucket as I carried it. I had to walk sideways like John Wayne to keep it a respectful distance from my tennis shoes. 

I also had to mow the thick St. Augustine grass—a task made onerous by the spiral of dull blades on the reel mower. The blades spun like a barber’s pole but without the color. My uncle Archie gave me a file for tuning up the blades, but for some reason I could never get the right angle and pitch no matter how much I filed. The edges of the blades shined like chrome but that didn’t mean they were sharp. 

Mowing had its perils. The mower constantly screamed for oil. Archie brought me bottles of used black motor oil from his garage, and I transferred the oil into my squirt can. I loved the popping noise the can bottom made when I pressed it. I could play a nice staccato rhythm, but no one was ever there for the concert. 

The most despised reel mower enemies were the spiny little sweetgum balls. Just one of them stopped the blades cold. I had to crouch down and move the blades backward to dislodge the offender. In time, I learned to rake the balls down into the storm sewer before ever starting to mow. So, add raking to my chore list.

Edging and trimming followed mowing. Spring-assisted sideways-scissor-like shears were incredibly slow, and it seemed ten degrees hotter on my knees next to the tin skirt that encircled our frame house. A blister always formed on my middle finger and thumb. I used a safety pin to pop the skin bubble and let the water out. Then I swabbed on some orange Mercurochrome which was preferred to its sharp-stinging brother Methiolate. My blisters usually took until the next mowing to heal, but meanwhile my orange fingers showcased the wounds of a working man.

Archie told me that when edging, I should be especially watchful in the shallow graveled trench created by rain cascading off the roof. He said that the continued wash would unearth arrowheads and shards of pottery from our ancient Caddo Indian ancestors. I never found a single one. Caddo Indians must have carried common old rocks to chunk at their enemies.

Grocer Earl Moos was the beneficiary of my quarters. On Saturday, which was payday, I was at his store when he opened up. He lived right beside the store, and the clap of his screen door was my cue to hop off his ice dock and meet him at the storefront. I was inside even before he turned the lights on.

In the center of the store, across from his sandwich and ice cream bar, were two doublerows of shelves housing the world’s largest array of candy. That area of the store smelled like a cotton candy trailer at the fair. It was intoxicating, like the whiff of fresh whiskey that makes a drinking man crazy and no-account. Before it was over, I would travel those aisles two dozen times before making my purchase. It was a feat to balance the lust of favorite candies-past with the experimentation of new offerings. One wrong guess, like my one-time licorice mistake, and pennies can be wasted. One nickel was always reserved for the Holloway Black Cow, which was a staple. A Black Cow, hard as a paving brick, could last until the next allowance. 

Fourteen cents was reserved for the movie which was the next thing in my Saturday cue. The remainder of my quarter went for quantity—handfuls of penny or multiple-for-apenny selections. 

It cost nine cents to get into the Lynn Theater, and that left enough for a dill pickle. The pickles were as large as a flashlight and were capable of drawing the mouth into the tightest of contortions. The shriveling twist of my mouth even distorted my voice; making words drag thick, like winter molasses. The procedure goes like this: One sucks on the pickle until it gets wrinkled, then bites of a thin slice to chew and swallow. Repeat the process until you reach the stub of the stem. The stem then joins the other disgusting articles that inhabit theater floors. Once the pickle was gone, the candy from Earl Moos always tasted fresher and more brilliant. Pickles were cleansers of the candy palate.

This day was back to back westerns and double serials. Flash Gordon would battle Ming, a bout that always ended in a draw. The other short subject is the Bowery Boys. One can count on those buffoons for a laugh a minute. I always envied them their beanie caps and overalls. They reminded me of me if I were grown.

Sometimes I sat through the movie twice. It would be dusk when I left. My footsteps clapped my way through the train passenger tunnel. On the other side of the tracks was the hole in the fence that put me on East Avenue. I glanced over at “Moosies” store as I passed by. The light was on in his house and the store was closed. 

Me and my quarter had a good day.

* * * 

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 or at  his web page at:


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

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