Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Come one, come all Saturday!

The nights are turning a little chilly and the leaves are starting to fall.

That means a couple of things to me. First, that fall foliage will be hitting soon and lots of photo opps.

Second? The Heavener Lions Club Fall Carnival will be here soon.This Saturday, Oct. 3, to be exact.

I have been going to the carnival for most of my life. It started when I was just a little squirt and continues as I struggle to hang on to middle-agedom.

Thousands of people will find their way to downtown Heavener Saturday. If you live in or near Heavener, chances are good you will be there.

Lions Club members start working on the event months ahead. They start rounding up prizes for the bingo stand and getting volunteers to help stage the big event.

The Carnival starts right around 6 p.m., give or take a few minutes. Usually the first event is bingo. Players start arriving well before 6 p.m., wanting to make sure they have a chair at the bingo tables.

These are hotly contested seats. Some never leave from when the bingo starts until the last “Bingo” echoes off the old buildings and throughout downtown.

Some come to eat. Yes, there will plenty of food and drinks available from grilled hot dogs and burgers to popcorn and maybe even cotton candy. Plus, funnel cakes!

There are other games such as the dart throw, spin the wheel and ring toss. Little ones can get their faces painted and the older ones can get a free test to see how high the cholesterol is after scarfing down a burger or two or three.

Little ones can tire themselves out (pay attention to this parents, it is important) by jumping or sliding on the inflatables. These are the newest events and usually the most popular for children and parents alike. Remember, the tire themselves out part, parents.

You will see pretty young girls and their escorts dressed up like they probably haven’t been before (and for the guys, like they hope they won’t have to again), getting ready to see if they are fortunate enough to be crowned as one of the queens and kings of the Carnival.

And there are some who come just to mingle with friends and classmates they haven’t seen in some time. There is something special about visiting with old and new buddies and finding out what has been going on with them and their families.

I used to work the Carnival every year. I actually retired some years back, came back to take pictures then sat out the last few. But like Brett Favre, I can’t stay retired. I will be there Saturday, making popcorn or manning the booth in the dart throw, wherever I am needed.

Come Sunday, many of us will be tired and sore from walking and standing on those old streets of downtown Heavener. No, things aren’t the same in downtown Heavener like they were when I was a child. But for one night, things will be like they once were.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tyson Pollution of Lake Wister

In the Friday September 25, 2009 edition of the Tulsa World, there is a story about our Oklahoma state Attorney General Drew Edmondson going to court in Tulsa this coming wednesday against the Arkansas
poultry processing plants who are polluting the Illinois River and consequently Lake Temkiller.
I am not alleging that this is a political stunt of Mr. Edmondson's since he in running for Governor, but, I
do wonder, and, always have since he started this action years ago, why he did not include the pollution
of Lake Wister by Tyson ? The Tyson chicken processing plant at Waldron, Arkansas has been dumping their
(treated) waste water into Bull Creek, a tributary of Lake Wister for about fifty years now.
Several years ago our good friend former state Representative Jim Hamilton secured a grant for tens of thousands of dollars for a study to be conducted on Lake Wister's sources of pollution. Samples were taken all the way up to that plant and the closer they got the worse the phosporous and undesirable chemcials got, with a trail of green glob leading all the way to the lake. Ninety-five percent of LeFlore county gets their drinking water from Lake Wister.
Yet, another source of lake pollution is as a matter of fact the runoff of rain water from the fields located in the lake watershed which are used to spread chicken litter on by the thousands of tons annualy. And, this is a rather "catch 22 situation" in as much as we, the people of LeFlore county depend upon the chicken industry for much of our income, taxes and economical stability.
Perhaps it is time for someone to come up with a new "green way" to get rid of the chicken litter, to allow the chicken growers to continue to operate unemcumbered and at the same time save the PVIA money on chlorine and other chemicals used to treat our water. And there are definetly"water purification systems" available large enough to treat the volumes of water used daily from the lake.
Well respected Poteau Doctor Winters once wrote in the Poteau newspaper that he believed
chemicals in our drinking water could be the reason why LeFlore county has a high rate of
deaths due to cancer. I have been concerened abou this matter since I was the Mayor of Poteau
and went to inspect the Tyson plant at Waldron.
Perhaps it is time for the Tyson company to help purchase a "state of the art" water purification system to be installed at the Poteau Valley Improvement Authority water treatment facility at Lake Wister. And, maybe if the right strings were pulled, a few dollars of "stimulus money" might be procured for such purposes ? Maybe Attorney General Drew Edmondson could help us accomplish this ? Now, that's "my two -cents" ..what's yours ?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Update on the Journal

A little update about The Journal…

First off, thanks to everybody who has visited and passed the word about the Journal to family and friends.

We have over 225 fans of the Journal on facebook!

I also want to thank everybody for their encouragement and help. There are a lot of friends, new and old, who have helped out with ideas and other suggestions. When I first started milling around the idea of starting a web site, I was torn between doing one for Poteau only, which would have been called The Poteau Press, and one for the county.

Three people I talked with all suggested doing the county version and I am glad I followed their suggestions. Ralph Perdue Jr. came up with the logo for the web site and the one being used on facebook and twitter. Others have submitted pictures and stories.

The submissions are going to be the lifeblood of the Journal. I can’t cover everything by myself and need lots of help from our Citizen Journalists to make the web site as good as it can be. We have had stories and pictures that other traditional media have not had and that is great.

So please continue to send in information and pass on the word about the Journal…

Now, for some updates…

If you enjoy writing, we can always use your stories, columns or blogs. We can have up to 100 writers for Leflore County Bloggers, so if you are interested, let me know. I also need people willing to cover events in all the county communities and stringers for the sporting events.I started a photo gallery for the web site. It can be found here. The only pictures on the new gallery are from Poteau’s games with Idabel on Tuesday night.

We also have a forum for the Journal. Please get involved. There are several different categories: news, sports, entertainment, suggestions and one for everything else. Everybody can read the posts but to post and vote, you have to register. It is easy and I can help if you need assistance.

I try and add new information and links every day. If there is a site you enjoy going to, let me know and I will add it to the links under etc.

If you run across a story about the county, its residents or former residents, please pass on the information. If you have done something or seen something interesting or know of somebody else who would make a good story, pass it on.

We will also soon have a letters to the Journal category. This is much like the letters to the editors traditional newspapers feature.

The Journal is ready for obituaries, wedding announcements, births, anniversaries, reunions and celebrations. This information is published at no cost. Please pass on the information to let us and the other Journal readers know.

Please let us know your suggestions, comments and advice. Again, thank you and I hope you enjoy The LeFlore County Journal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fetching Miss Daisy

From the moment she first sees me every day, my weenie dog Daisy is ready to play fetch.

Sadly, I am not ready then. She never fails to let me know of her disappointment, whining and running back and forth along the fence of her pen, staring at the building where I keep her ball.

But I usually break down sometime and make the trek out to her pen to play in the big yard. She is happy. So is Buddy, her companion weenie dog.

Buddy was once a stud dog, but those dogs are behind him. If you saw Buddy, the phrase “stud dog” would probably not come to mind. Actually, you can see him. He is on the left in the picture with Daisy bringing a former toy to me. Buddy, as you can see is short, squat and I think whoever sold him to me forgot to mention that he is half chihuahua.

Daisy is definitely 100 percent Dachshund. She is long and sometime thin, at least when I frequently play fetch with her.

As soon as she is out of the pen, Daisy sprints to the other end of the backyard. Yes, she springs. I know her legs are only two or three inches long, but let me tell you, those legs are like little pistons.

So I throw the ball, she brings it back, but never all the way to me. Daisy wants to stop five or so feet away from me and drop the ball. I don’t know why she does that. Maybe she notices my gut and decides she isn’t the only one needing exercise? I prefer to think it is so she can spring back down the yard and be ready when the next ball comes toward her.

After the gun (what I used to call my arm before I got old and arthritic) gets loosened up a bit, or I scoot closer, I throw the ball against the privacy fence.

The Green Monster at Fenway has nothing against our privacy fence. Daisy would be a heck of a left fielder, aside from the fact that she chooses to catch the ball with her teeth and I don’t think that would be a good idea if a line drive came her way.

She almost always plays the angle correctly. Sometimes, just for fun (mine, probably not her’s), I try and seldom hit the metal posts holding the fence up. Ooh, what fun! Talk about some wicket bounces!

Daisy never complains, probably because she is a dog. If I was a dog, would I complain? No doubt. Buddy can also be a bit of a nuisance.

He likes to tail behind her until she gets the ball and then bang against her while Daisy tries to return the ball to several feet away from me.

Buddy also tends to like to do his business in the playing field, which is what I call the area where we play fetch.

He has a streak of two straight days going, littering the field. Since I am also the combo lawn mowing guy and ground crew dude, this gets a little frustrating when I hit the particular slick spot.

Daisy is pretty good about avoiding what I call the danger zone. Yes, I could pull out a pooper scooper upper, but that would require too much energy.

Buddy also likes to mark everything in the yard with short little squirts. So far, he has not tried to mark me. Thank goodness.

We usually play for fifteen minutes or so. We end when either I get bored (which typically happens because I fear I have the adult version of ADD) or when her old tongue drops to the ground.

Nutri Systems has nothing compared to these fetch sessions. Both Daisy and Buddy are trimming up rather nicely, I must say. Me? Don’t ask. No, really. Don’t ask!

Finally, I put the ball up. Daisy still runs around for a bit, looking to make sure I haven’t played some cruel trick on her like throwing the ball when she isn’t looking. Then, it is time to head for their pen so I can protect them against the Big Guy, the Bull Mastiff who also lives here and isn’t fond of other dogs, cats or animals intruding in his yard.

Buck (aka The Big Guy) does not care for the fetch sessions. He REALLY does not care for Buddy’s marking the yard sessions. And no, he does not offer short little squirts to override Buddy’s marks. He is a big dog and responds accordingly.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Night Lights

Yes! It is Friday afternoon and for many of us, that means we will be heading out to watch a high-school football game tonight.

I am headed for Poteau to watch the Pirates host Mena.

Over the last few years, I have not been to many games. Last year, I went to one. This year, I have already been to one so I will double my production from last year!

I used to go to a game every Friday but got out of the habit. But it was always there, the itch to go watch a game.

Now that I have the Journal going, I have a good excuse to go to a game every week and that is what I plan on doing unless all the county schools are playing in Timbuktoo and I doubt that will happen very often, though.

Each week I will try to select the game which is most important, not just whichever game is held closest. If that was the case, I would watch Heavener playing at home tonight against Westville. I watched the Wolves play last week, although I didn't have the web site up and running and did not report it.

Sadly, I feel the Wolves are in for a tough time tonight and believe the Poteau game will be better and a little more important in the grand scheme of things. After all, Heavener is 0-2, Poteau is 2-0.

Nuff said.

After escaping college, I had a pretty cool job as a sports writer for the now defunct Denison Herald. (I must point out here that the Herald did not go belly up until long after I was gone so I am not responsible, at least I don't think I was).

It was a good gig. I got paid to go watch sporting events. Sadly, I did not get paid much to go to sporting events or to answer the phone in the office and explain why I failed to include the important results from Lousiana Downs the previous day.

Yeah, that's like the perfect job for me. Like most jobs, everything wasn't perfect. In addition to getting cussed out for the lack of racing results, I had to be at work at 7:30. That would be in the a.m., not p.m. My body did not react well to mornings then. Now, it wouldn't be a problem but for a 24-year old guy just out of college?

Let's just say I wasn't always bushy tailed and bright eyed when it came time to go to work. Also, some of the people I had to deal with (i.e. coaches) were kind of a jerk at times. Plus, I had to cover some things that were about as exciting as watching snail races.

In my journalistic days, I have covered sporting events from Midland to Austin to Marshall in Texas. I have covered a few in Arkansas and a lot in Oklahoma. I have been to Ardmore in the south to motionless H2O (otherwise known as Stillwater) in the north. There have been games at OU, Claremore, Colcord, Hugo, Ada and many other places.

Some of the games are memorable. Others, not so much. I have frozen my tush off (literally) and sweated my rear off. There have been games in the snow, driving rain storms, mud deeper than my ankles and fog so thick I couldn't see the other sideline.

But I still like it. And I still get excited prior to every game, just like I will before Mena's game at Poteau tonight. Will tonight's game be one I remember five years from now? Probably not. I hope to still be able to remember my name five years from now.

I do hope to be going to some football field in the county five years from now, watching a bunch of 15-18 years old make memories they will treasure for the rest of their lives.

Just like the ones I remember from way back when I was a chubby guy wearing #15 and playing quarterback for the Heavener Wolves. And no, we weren't that good. But the memories are priceless and helped forge friendships and relationships I still treasure to this day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Journal facts and stuff

This is, as you can see, The LeFlore County Journal. Actually, this is a blog to tell you a little about the Journal.

First off, The LeFlore County Journal is a web site dedicated to the people, places and events of LeFlore County.

In later blogs, this fine blog will cover a lot of different areas, about the county, people, thoughts and whatever enters my mind on that date. As you can tell, the Journal web site is not finished and probably will not be completed for a long time or if ever. There will be changes and updates on a daily basis.

I want the Journal to be a place where you check in daily (hopefully several times a day) to find out what is happening in the county and your little neck of the woods. You can even make the Journal your home page (hint, hint!)

My primary emphasis is on county news and the 13 communities with high schools. Will the Journal neglect the fine citizens of, say, Shady Point, Hodgens and others? Negative. All you need to do is send in the information and the Journal will post it.

To make the Journal successful, your help is vital. How? Well, as you know, LeFlore County is big. There are around 50,000 people living in the county (give or take a few) and many communities. With a current staff of one (me), it is impossible to cover everything, or even most things.

That is how you can help. Whether you live in Arkoma, Talihina or any spot in between or to the side, if something is happening, let the Journal know. It’s easy, just send an email with all the important stuff such as the five W’s (who, what, where, when and why). A phone number to call you back would be handy also.

I am not a rocket scientist, as anybody who knows me will be glad to tell you, and there might be a question or two. Maybe even three.

But the important thing is LET THE JOURNAL KNOW! It might not be important to the whole county, but if it is something you are interested in, so am I, and possibly many others.

We have a submit a story button you can punch (or preferably click on) and send the information in. Also, you will be able to submit photos, write blogs if you choose, list your business in our business services category, advertise with the Journal, place and look at classified ads, and much more.

There is a county calendar so you can see what is happening in the county on a certain date. If your event is not listed, all you have to do is submit the information and it will be posted.

I will spend much of my time on the people of our county, primarily the county government (along with town government), schools and sports. If little Johnny is on the honor roll at Fanshawe, little Johnny will have his name in the Journal, provided somebody is nice enough at the home of the Grizzlies to send in the information.

One area I feel has been short changed by many of the traditional media sources is the county sports. They do not get nearly the coverage they should. That may be because I really, really like sports. But also because many years ago, I was a sports writer in college and the first four years of my professional (well, maybe not thaaaat professional of a career).

I hope to have all the scores from softball, football, basketball, wrestling, soccer, baseball, golf and even fishing tournaments. I know, they don’t have scores in fishing tournaments, but I hope to post the results and maybe a picture or two.

Again, the Journal needs your help. Coaches, stat keepers, organizers or whoever can send in the information and it will be posted ASAP (that means as soon as possible, in case you were wondering).

Hopefully there will be readers in each community who send in stories about what is happening in their town, along with scores and much more. These people are called stringers and I love them. Not enough to pay them, sadly, but if you want to be a stringer for the journal, please let me know.

That is where the Journal has a big advantage. If somebody sends in information about a t-ball game on Tuesday night, most of the time the information will be posted that night. Now if that information comes in after the publisher is in bed, it will be posted first thing the next morning.

Other newspapers in the county or covering the county, typically will not post the information until it has appeared in the paper, so you will have to buy the paper or read it for free while you eat a sausage biscuit at whichever fine eating establishment offers both the newspaper and a sausage biscuit.

Or, they don’t have a web site.

I don’t have newspapers for sale. Maybe in the future…maybe not. It depends on how things go. But you will not have to wait a day, or days, to see the story.We will also have obits, wedding notices, anniversaries, babies and reunions. FREE, that’s right free! That information will be posted at no charge to you. And, sorry, but I also failed to mention you can read the Journal for free. That’s no charge. You don’t have to pay to read it or even subscribe! The only area where you do have to do that is in the forum section, provided you want to post anything.

As I mentioned earlier, the Journal will offer advertisements from our fine county merchants, business service listings and classifieds. If you enjoy the Journal, you can be kind enough to send in a donation. That is how the Journal will make enough money to keep its publisher fed. And I do like and need to eat.

In our forum, the readers can discuss whatever they choose to discuss: Sports, political events, how much a movie stunk or pretty much anything. Only one rule: No personal attacks! You can say, for instance, “I don’t feel like Bart Simpson is qualified to serve as (fill in the blank)” You may not say: “$%#@, Bart Simpson is a stupid (fill in the blank)!”

I like my readers, but not enough to get sued by Bart Simpson, or whoever, because somebody writes something about Bart or anybody else, that is not generally acceptable.
That’s enough for this blog. Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think.