Thursday, July 29, 2010

Local pols do it the right way

Just what in the name of Kenneth Corn is going on here?

We had six Democratic candidates running for the house seat.
Yes! That should be good for a little fighting, slapping and old-fashioned mud slinging!

Right? Uh, not really.

Matt Webb, James Lockhart, Jake Leming, Traci Barnes, Jarrod Ridenour and David Hogan were on their best behavior during the campaign, for the most part.

The only controversy, if you would even consider it to be controversy, was the challenge filed by Webb and Leming over Barnes’ residency filing. It was decided that Barnes could file using her address at the hotel.

That should have got some blood boiling and name calling going, eh? If it did, I never heard it.

But surely as the primary election neared all that nicey nicey stuff would go away, right? Drats, no. All the candidates acted like grown up, respectable citizens, sort of like the kind of person you would want to represent our area in the House.

You probably know by now that Webb got the most votes in the primary with Lockhart second. Those two will be in the runoff election on Aug. 24. Mano-o-mano, head-to-head! At last, the mud would start slinging!

Yeah, right. Here is what Webb said about his opponent: “James ran a really good race. He worked really hard. He and his family did a good job and James is a good candidate.”

Huh? A candidate praising his opponent?

Well…good for him, and the other candidates.
It was also a surprise for Lockhart.

“Yeah, it was really pretty neat,” he said. “When I decided to run I thought I’d need to have really thick skin. But it was really clean for the most part. It was very humbling.”

Hmm, perhaps candidates for larger elections could learn a lesson from our locals. It is not necessary to use name calling and mud slinging tactics in elections. State your qualifications and why you are the better candidate without resorting to saying your opponent is not worth a puddle of tobacco spit and lower than a worm.

Think that would happen in a race involving congressional candidates, governor or president? Not hardly. But it would be good to hear, say, President Obama describing Jeb Bush as a “good, hard-working candidate” like Webb said about Lockhart.

Wouldn’t it? I think so.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My favorite weather guy comes to Poteau

On Monday evening, a friend told my wife that Garrett Lewis was coming to Poteau.

I must admit, Lewis is by far my favorite weather forecaster. He is accurate and you can tell he cares about his job and the people of the Channel 5 viewing area.

Each year, Lewis makes a tour of the area on his bicycle. That was his reason for coming to Poteau. I thought it would be a good photo op and decided to be at the Chamber office when he arrived.

Whoa, I thought when I got to the office, there must be some kind of meeting going on. The parking lot was packed and several people were milling about inside.
No meeting. The people were there for Garrett. I talked to Karen Wages for a minute and listened as the crowd discussed where Garrett was and how soon he would arrive.

I went outside with my trusty camera to get a shot of Garrett. Several others soon joined me. We waited, and waited some more. Yes, more people showed up. Finally, we had a Garrett sighting!

And then, we saw Garrett turn down Dewey Avenue, a block north of the Chamber office. You could almost feel the worry! Garrett went the wrong way. He was preceded by the green Camaro courtesy of Hug Chevrolet in Van Buren, outfitted like a Nascar car.

The anticipation grew. Where was Garrett? Did he know where he was going? Our chamber manager went down the block looking for him.

More people gathered. You could cut the suspense with a butter knife. Alas, another Garrett sighting! The channel 5 news crew arrived to film Garrett’s arrival. I strategically moved behind the camera, but still had a good spot to take a picture of Garrett.

The semi-old Craigman has been on television before and the old tale of television adding a few pounds is not accurate in my case. It adds much more than a few pounds. Plus I was afraid the sun shining off the old dome might blind the people watching on television if we did have a shot of me.

Finally, Garrett and his entourage turned back on Broadway and came toward the chamber office. People started clapping. Honest. I snapped a few photographs and in this one, Garrett was smiling and waving at…ME!

Unfortunately I cut his arm off in the picture. Drats. Garrett pedaled into the back parking lot and got off his bike. The crowd did not rush him, but they did approach quickly to shake his hand and Garrett smiled, shook hands, hugged a few (eek, he had to have some sweat going, I thought). Several in the crowd told Garrett he was their favorite weather guy and welcomed him to Poteau.

They popped the trunk on the Camaro and were kind enough to hand out t-shirts. Garrett was about like you would expect. He seemed to be having as good of a time as the people did who came to see him.

I had to get back to work. But last night, I watched the 6 p.m. news to see how it turned out. My wife and I about had our first fight as I wanted to watch the news but she kept flipping over to King of Queens.

Finally, it was weather time and she switched off Doug and Carrie. Garrett did the weather and then they got to the story on Garrett’s trip to Poteau. It started with him at the Choctaw Travel Plaza.

He drove down Broadway and talked to the camera person, pointing out Cavanal.

Finally, they got Garrett turning into the chamber office. I thought all was safe when suddenly, the camera panned and ugh, Craig was on the television. At least the back of Craig. Double ugh. I looked like a bald whale. Luckily, the Craig sighting was brief. And I thought I had lost weight!

They showed Garrett visiting and signing t-shirts. Hmm, I didn’t think of that. I could have had a shirt signed by Garrett. It may seem a little odd, but I doubt most of those shirts won’t be washed very often.

They closed off with Garrett talking to the camera and the Garrett fans standing behind him, saying something I could not make out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1

Today is July 1. It should be like any other day.

But it isn’t.

July 1 is one of those days I will always remember. Some dates are remembered for birthdates of spouses and children, along with anniversaries.

July 1 is different, though. Because we lost my father on this date two years ago. I try not to focus on it, or let it bother me, but it weighs heavily on me, bringing back all those memories of my father.

He had such a big influence in my life for 45 years and there has been a hole for the last two years.

My earliest memories feature him. I remember we were out at Wister Lake and he would pick me up and act like he was going to toss me in the lake. We still have that picture somewhere. I have a big smile on my face.

I also remember so much more. He taught me how to throw a football, play catch with a baseball and shoot a basketball. He also taught me pretty much everything I know about photography.

He and my mother also tried to teach me the difference between right and wrong. My parents were rather strict on me when I was a youth. Other kids could do so much more. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t come and go as I please or stay out as long as I wanted.

I do now and I am thankful. What kind of person would I have been if I did not have that support?

I regret that I never thanked him or told him how much he meant to me. I always planned on saying these things and much more, but never got around to it. Hopefully he knew. We butted heads many times. I figure he was right and I was wrong about 99.9 percent of the time.

I try not to dwell on my last memory of him, or the last few weeks when he was so sick and weak. But even then he would ask how I was doing, more concerned with his wife and sons than he was about the cancer eating up his body.

Instead, I try to remember him standing on the sidelines during a football game with his camera out and ready. Or going outside at halftime of a football game to play catch. Or shooting baskets and the old-fashioned way he shot with one hand. And calling me up during football games when something good, or bad, happened. It is hard now to watch an OU game. He loved the Sooners almost as much as he loved his family.

I remember how meticulous he was about his projects. He would spend more time reading and planning than he did doing the project, while I would just wing whatever I was trying to put together.

I also remember how perfect his garden was, back during his gardening phase. All the rows were perfect. Over the last few years, he enjoyed reading and I remember him sitting on the back porch with a book in his hands, wearing his old overalls with the glasses leaning down on his nose.

And I remember how much he cared for his dogs, lastly Buck, who we lost last week. Buck was never the same without my father, and I don’t know that I will be either.

He was always so proud of Heavener and could not understand why others did not feel this way. My father was a private person, but he gave so much, more than I could ever hope to do.

I will try to think of other things today and not dwell on what happened two years ago. But I don’t know if that will work.