Welcome to 2014

Well, here we are, the first day of another new year. What 2014 holds for us no one knows. We can speculate but that’s all it is. One thing that is certain, when this time next year rolls around some of us won’t be here. For me, losing friends each year is the hardest. Last year, to name a few,Betty Lou Womack died in Jan., then there was Jerry Wimberly, Don Shockley, Doug Harrington and several others in between.***** This is a midterm political year. Besides state races for governor, lieutenant  governor, etc., we elect a U.S. congressman. On the local scene this year, we will elect a new county judge. Carl Thibodeaux, who has served us so well for 20 years, won’t be on the ballot for the first time in 30 years. He previously served as mayor of West Orange. Four candidates are running to replace him. This will be a hotly contested race. With the primary in March and the runoff in April, we won’t have to wait until November to know the winner taking office at this time next year. All candidates are running under one party banner. Same is true in Pct. 2 commissioner’s race where commissioner Owen Burton is retiring to spend more time with Nelda. A district clerkk’s race will be decided in the March primary. Two J.P. races and a congressional race will have opposition in the November general election where Judge Janice Menard and Judge David Peck will face opponents and for congress, local Democratic candidate Michael Cole will have opposition in November. *****Nationwide, many seats are up for grabs in the Senate and House. I look for the Democrats to hold the senate and Republicans to hold a slight lead in house. Republicans biggest challenge will be from their Tea Party wing, moving regular Republicans so far to the right that they can’t win in a general election. I look for Paul Ryan to leap frog over congressman Kevin Brady and be named chairman of the Way and Means committee. I also look for Ryan to propose his own health care plan this year.***** I’ll have much more later but for now I’d best get going. Come along, I promise it won’t do you no harm.


A few New Years resolutions should be made by a select group. First, our longtime friend, attorney Sharon Bearden should resolve that while deer hunting in the Hill Country, a long way from a hospital, not to get too excited when a lucky shot downs a deer. The results of over exertion could be falling out of the deer blind and breaking a collar bone. Makes for a long ride to the hospital. ***Assistant Bridge City Police Chief Brad Frye should resolve that the next time he wounds a deer, not to try running it down on foot. It might be macho but it’s dangerous. A tree limb might jump out and knock you out leaving a scar on your forehead. ***Justice of the Peace David Peck should resolve that he will be nicer to Roy Dunn between now and November. He should quit referring to him as “Goat” and “Hog Scratcher”, remembering he buys ink by the barrel.***Local politico Jerry Wilson should refuse to be Sen. Candidate Steve Stockman’s county campaign chairman. Instead, Jerry, who is running to be head of the local Republican Party, should again turn to a Democrat and support local congressional candidate Michael Cole for U.S. Congress. That would give him at least two Demo candidates in the November election.***Pinehurst Mayor Pete Runnels, now that he is not a candidate for county judge, should resolve to tell the public how many people, unable to get health insurance, are now benefiting through Obamacare and how Humana is helping folks every day with affordable insurance. Many with pre-existing conditions who feared they would die or lost everything.***The Orange County Sheriff’s Union and County should resolve to come to the bargaining table in a sincere effort to come up with a contract and put that issue behind us. It’s giving law enforcement and the county a black-eye and the citizens deserve better.


We were sorry to hear of the death of Jessica Evans, 28, who lost her life Saturday in a one car auto accident. Our sincere sympathies to her twins Jackson and Jillian and condolences to father Wayne Evans, his family and Jessica’s many friends. Please see obit.


10 Years Ago-2004

Last weekend, Frances Harris celebrated her going away to prison onJan. 6. The group of family and friends also celebrated the birthday of her granddaughter Nocona Burton. Frances was charged and convicted of federal kidnapping charges after taking Nocona to Honduras where they remained for eight years. Harris disappeared with the 3-year-old in 1994. Harris will serve her time at Carswell Federal Prison in Forth Worth. She was sentenced to serve seven months and seven months home incarceration and year probation. Harris said she shouldn’t be going to prison. She said, “I’ve gotten nothing but compliments from everyone.” (Editor’s note: Frances served her time and has since written a book about her experience. She does Christian work and enjoys every day. She’s a nice lady and I’m sure has no regrets. In life you do what you have to do. *****Bridge City graduate Theresa Hearn, a 1981 grad, is taking a break from her work in Nashville to visit her family here. Theresa owns her own company ‘Cornerstone Communications’ in Nashville. She is again working on the Academy of Country Music awards project to be shown in May. Theresa is involved in many other projects involving country music and is a friend to many of the big stars. She’s the daughter of Ray and Elaine Hearn and granddaughter of Inez Hearn. (Editor’s note: We haven’t heard if Theresa has been back home lately. Last time we saw her she had two children, Grace was 6 or 7 and Jake was nearly 5. Theresa, like her grandmother is one of those rare people. Theresa has had a great career and makes her family and friends proud.*****Texas Monthly publishes Bumsteer Awards. Top of the list are Tom DeLay, Rick Perry, David Dewhurst and Tom Craddick. The magazine condemns the redistricting power grab. It will be the biggest injustice forced on rural Texas, disenfranchising them with no voice in congress. The new maps will create 22 Republican districts and ten Democratic districts. Most of the power will go to the cities, leaving out rural counties. (Editor’s note: Ten years later, that is exactly as it turned out. What’s been done to us is so obvious it’s amazing folks can’t see it and realize who screwed us with redistricting.)*****Walter Riedel is chosen Citizen of the Year by the Greater Orange Chamber.*****Pat Pate, wife of H.D., had back surgery in Houston.*****Walter B. Hillard, 71, died Dec. 28.*****Buddy Bourque, 58, died Dec. 27.*****Joyce “Granny” Jones, mother of Arlene Howland, died Dec. 27..*****Jiimmy Tuppen, 83, died Friday, Dec. 26. Roy wrote a Down Life’s Highway column about his longtime friend Jimmy. In the column he wrote that with Jimmy you didn’t need a handshake, his word was good enough. Fairness was his creed. Being a gentleman and being courteous his way of life.*****Bridge City and Orangefield School Districts will see some major changes in 2004. Bridge City approaches completion of a new high school and Orangefield began construction on tis recently passed bond issue. Bridge City superintendent Sam Luciasaid he anticipates the new state-of-the-art high school to be complete in September.*****Claude Spruell, of Bridge City, wins refurbished 1966 mustang in Clear Channel’s Cool 92.5 oldies radio contest. (Editor’s note: I wonder what became of that car and Claude.}


10 Years Ago-2003

Bob Hope, 100, who contributed so much to our little part of the country;Johnny, 71, and June Cash, 73; Katharine Hepburn, 90;  Art Carney,85, one of the Honeymooners; Buddy Ebsen, 95, The Beverly Hillbillies; Coach Sid Gilliam, 91; Gregory Hines, 57; Buddy Hackett, 79; Donald O’Conor, 78; Fred Roger’s, the host of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood;John Ritter, 54, son of Tex Ritter, an East Texas pioneer; Johnny Paycheck, the Working Man’s Friend, age 64; Barry White, 58; Floyd Tillman, 88, a singer and one of the first electric guitarist; Robert Stack,84, The Untouchables; Preston Smith, 91, Texas’ education governor;Nina Simone, 70, a great jazz singer; Bill “Willie” Shoemaker, 72, Hall of Fame jockey with 8,833 wins; Tex Schramm, 83, made the Cowboys America’s team. Also gone were seven of our astronauts, lost over East Texas Feb. 1, when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry;David Brown, 42; Rick Hubbard, 45; Laurel Clark, 41; Kalpana Chawla, 41; Michael Anderson, 43; William McCool, 41; Han Ramon, 48. One of my favorite actors Charles Bronson, age 81. Two guys who made a name for themselves and went down in a blaze of fire power,Uday Hussein, 39, and brother Qusay, 37, sons of Saddam, who were killed July 22. Last but not least, Strom Thurmond, 100, U.S. Senator for 48 years.


Orange native, coach O.A. “Bum” Phillips, 90; singer George Jones, 81; singer Ray Price, 87; Nelson Mandela, 95; Margaret Thatcher, 87;Stan “The Man” Musial, 92; James “Saparano” Gandolfini, 51; Jean Stapleton, 90; journalist Helen Thomas, 92; singer Patti Page, 86 actress Jonathan Winters, 87; Peter O’Toole, 81; Joan Fontaine, 96;Glee’s Cory Monteith, 31; Fast and Furious star Paul Walker, 40; country singer Mindy McCreedy; pianist Van Cliburn, 78; singer Eydie Gorme, 84; Woodstock’s Richie Havens, 72; coach Earl Weaver, 82; actress Esther Williams, 91; boxer Ken Norton, 70; former New York mayor Ed Koch, 88; Arthur Elmore Leonard, 87; Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, 70; astronaut Scott Carpenter, 88; Dr. Joyce Brothers, 85; sportscaster Pat Summerall, 82; former house speaker Tom Foley, 84; President Hugo Chavez, 58; boxer Emile Griffith, 75; David Frost, 74; broadcaster Jack Germond, 85;  Otis “Damon” Harris, 62, one of the “Temptations;” U.S.A. Today founder Allen H. Neuharth, 89.


Congrats to Judge Courtney Arkeen and husband Cody on the birth of their new twins born on Dec. 15. Channing, a lovely little girl arrived first, followed by brother Chaplin. They both weighed in at exactly the same weight of 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Mom and the kids are home and doing great. I‘m not so sure about dad.*****Pretty Jana Ridgeway, of Bridge City branch bank in Orange, is due to welcome a new baby on Jan. 3. We extend our best wishes.*****About the time longtime friendNancy Vincent celebrates her birthday on Jan. 26, she will be retiring from former Orange Savings Bank, recently acquired by First Financial Bankshares. I understand Nancy will be doing special work for the bank from time to time, however she wanted to spend more time with her mom, who is in an assisted living home. Many of her customers, as well as the bank, will miss her. Nancy has been at the banking business a long time.*****I’ve seen many people come and go in public office over the years. I’ve seen very few who didn’t change in some way, maybe not even noticeable to them. I’m not sure if the pressure of the job, or the change in their lives is the reason but it happens. One person elected who doesn’t appear to have changed at all is Constable Mark Philpott. Mark is the same Mark he was before becoming constable.*****Bridge City Little League is one of the finest youth programs available and has been for many years. The program has produced many high school and college baseball stars. This year the league is opening the program to all Orange County youths. Registration dates are Jan. 11, 18,and 25 at Bridge City Elementary School cafeteria, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.*****Its been a busy holiday season for Judge Janice Menard, Justice of the Peace. She was called out to do several inquest, three of them unexpected deaths, an auto fatality, a suicide and a person traveling through the county apparently dying of a heart attack. An autopsy was ordered in that death. While on her way to one of the calls, praying as she always does on an inquest call, she received a message that her son Neal had been in an auto accident in Houston. His car was totaled and he had been sent to hospital. The Judge got off call Monday and another J.P. will handle calls the rest of the week. Citizens never think of the work Justice of the Peace officials do.It’s an all day, all night job, not just in the courtroom.*****A few good folks we know celebrating their special day: On Jan. 1, Robert Hoke, Joanne Hill and Ronnie Hearn celebrate.***Jan. 2, Cody Johnson, Jude Gunstream, Courtney Anderson and Angela Abshirecelebrate.*****On Jan. 3, Our friend, married to the lovely Nelda,County Commissioner Owen Burton celebrates a birthday. He is retiring at the end of the year and not rerunning for office. As I recall, and it seems like yesterday, he defeated Sue Bearden in a runoff. He’s been a good commissioner.***Also on this day Roy Simar, Barbara Darden and Ann Burns celebrate.*****Jan. 4, finds “Red” and Pat Garrett’slovely daughter, longtime friend Beth Rash celebrating; also lovelyVergie Moreland. This would have been the birthday of the late BBRC Richard Corder.*****On Jan. 5, Tommy’s mom, Marilou Gunncelebrates as does our friend Fain’s widow, the always sweet Vivian Holbrooks.***Our friend for over 50 years, the ultra conservativeKenneth Young celebrates number 83. He was Republican way back there when being Republican wasn’t cool. Now he says the Party is way too far to the left. Reagan was to moderate and Glenn Beck is just right.Pop and I agree on nothing when it comes to politics but he and I and his late wife, Joyce, bonded for life many years ago.*****On Jan. 6, Skipper Free, one of a kind, colorful, and always full of it, celebrates number 80.***Joan Trivino marks 82 years and Louise Dubose and Sherry Morgan also celebrate.*****On Jan. 7, Sue’s little boy, Mike Collins celebrates as does Betty Jagen, Jo Green, Ted Arnold and Teresa Collins. Happy birthday to all. Please see complete list.*****Kyndall Turner, infant daughter of Kayla and Preston Turner, is out of ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Kayndall was admitted to hospital with RSV.***Also in Texas Children’s is Angel Sehon battling  pneumonia and thyroid cancer. Angel was BCHS homecoming queen in 2013. We wish both a speedy recovery.*****TheWednesday Lunch Bunch will dine at Robert’s on Jan. 8th for the first gathering of the year. Start the year out with great fellowship. Everyone always welcome.


Joanne Hill, Cynthia Hernandez, Glenda Wilburn, Robert Hoke, Ronnie Hearn, Amber Cortez, Angela Abshire, Cody Johnson, Courtney Anderson, David Villanoueva, Jason Sieck, June Gunstream, Kathy Mercer, O’Neal Waldrop, Betty Johnson, Ann Burns,  Alvin Wright, Barbara Dardeau, Betty Johnston, Devin Force, Lillian Wray, Mary Williams, Nancy Lapeyrolerie, Marilou Pachar Gunn, Catherine Young, Deborah Schlicher,  Malinda Vail, Patsy Dowder, Jeff Peveto, Clint Reves, Louise Dubose, Sherry Morgan, Marvin Ziller, Skipper Free


Joe Thibodeaux, him, has been raising his tree little boys by himself since his wife, Clarise, run off wit Oris Mouton, da policemen, wen da boys was small dem. Da boys couldn’t’ get no one to play wit dem, probably because day stayed so dirty.

Dey taught it was because dey weren’t baptize, so dey walk to da nearest church. Only da custodian was dere. One of da chillens said, “Mr. we got to be baptized cause no one will play wit us. Will you baptize us please.”

Da custodian him, took dem boys to da bashroom and dunked dem in da toilet bowl, one at a time. Den he say, “Now you baptize so get out of here and go play.

Wen dem boys got outside dripping wet da oldest one, Joe Jr., ax, “Wat religion are us hanh?” He continued, “We not Catlic cause dey pour water dem, and we not Baptist cause dey dunk da people in da river.”

Da littest boy, Tee-Ray him, he say, “Me, I smelled dat water and I know wat we is us, we’s Pisscopalians, dats wat we is.”


One column down 51 more to go. Last year I predicted that when gasoline was at $4 a gallon it would drop to $3 or below by years end. We hit that one and I believe unless a crisis breaks out somewhere it will fall lower. We predicted we would not have a major storm in the Gulf. I’m not as optimist this year. I believe we will have a major hurricane in the Gulf. Hopefully it won’t affect us. I said it would be a colder than usual winter and I believe it will be another very hot summer but not as dry as last season.*****Soon we will come to the end of another college and pro-football season. We’ll miss it when its gone but we can look forward to some great high school baseball. I believe most county teams will be loaded with talent.*****As for our economy, a national jobs bill would be the best bet. Re-doing our roads and bridges would add a million jobs and many more satellite jobs would be created. We need to raise the minimum wage at least a couple of dollars. We need to extend unemployment insurance and most importantly we need an immigration bill making tax paying citizens out of those 11 million immigrants. Many more jobs will be created when they can come out of the dark and work their way to citizenship. Raising the minimum wage alone will put billions into the economy, plus the wages are shameful. Wall Street is at its best ever and the rich are getting richer; the poor and middle class haven’t been able to make any headway. Unfortunately there are those who don’t want them to.*****I’m optimistic about Orange County’s future. I see good things coming, plus the state will continue to grow and we will get some spill over. Our county is fiscally sound and this year we will overcome the shortfall without having to lay off employees.*****Happy New Year to you and to our family of advertisers. We have some great plans for our publications this year. We look forward to continue being the largest consumer reaching media in Orange County. Take care and God bless.