Chorus auditions June 22 for Grades 3-12

Children’s Chorus of Collin County auditions Aug. 11

Children, teens, boys and girls from across Collin County are invited to share their musical passion with the Children’s and Youth Choruses of Collin County. Opportunities are available for singers in grades 3-4; 5-7 and 8-12 to schedule an audition for possible membership in either the Children’s or Youth Chorus of Collin County.

Russ Porter, Executive Director for the Chorus, said, “The Chorus is looking for those children and teens who want to be a part of an elite group of singers. Last year the enrollment soared to more than 100 singers. This coming year we are planning to accommodate additional singers.”

Boys and young men who are accepted into the Chorus organization are provided an additional opportunity to participate in the elite “Boys of the Chorus” ensemble.

Janie Oliver, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of the Chorus, said, “The Children’s Chorus of Collin County is a group of diverse singers who are looking for a little something extra. We can offer that through our study and performance of quality and diverse choral literature, and our commitment to vocal excellence in our singing.

She said, “Our youngest Chorus begins with the basics and our progressive choral system provides continuous education in the growth and development of our singers. Our high school Chorus performs music on a scale that is much more challenging. The Chorus provides an opportunity for our singers to grow musically, artistically, and personally.”

 

Auditions for these premier choruses are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. Auditions will be at 6601 Custer Road, Plano.


To schedule your audition time for one of these three choruses, email office@ChildrensChorusOfCollinCounty.org or call 972-618-4536.

 

The Children’s Chorus of Collin County is a non-profit organization and sponsored in part by the City of Plano, the City of McKinney through the McKinney Arts Commission, Frisco Arts, Allen Arts Alliance and the Junior League of Collin County.

 

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Sheriff Terry Box: ‘I’m not retiring’

By J.B. BLOCKER
Sheriff Terry Box is not retiring! On a recent Facebook announcement, Terry let all his friends know before he made the public announcement. This sheriff is socially interactive! He has nothing to hide and regularly post food for thought, warm wishes, and local events. His passion for antique autos keeps him in the mix locally. You might see him on any given weekend showing his Purple ’55 Chevy.
You can count the current Texas sheriffs who have served as long as Terry on one hand. In the world of Sheriff’s, he is a respected role model who embraces the ever changing world of technology while respecting the human factor of his staff and the counties revolving door of inmates.
“I truly enjoy my work. As long as my health permits, I feel I can continue to contribute to a better Collin County.”
I would be amazed if anyone dared to challenge the popular local boy who is considered a role model for Law Enforcement leadership. With an easy going management style and firmly engrained work ethics, his staff and the departments reputation for courteous humanitarian handling of its responsibilities is well documented. He truly leads by example.

Collin County Sheriff Terry Box has held his elected office since February 1985, and he has served with distinction. This sheriff does not look like the typical Texas lawman. While many wear their Stetsons and side arms and are usually dressed in a white pressed shirt, blue jeans, and boots, this gentle and unassuming lawman dresses casually and unadorned.

“Heck, I showed up in baggy shorts and a golf shirt to the Sheriff’s Convention. Some might call it travel wear!” recalls the seasoned lawman. “You can spot the new Sheriff’s pretty easily.” Normally, Sheriff Box wears dress slacks and a polo type shirt. He could more easily pass as a history teacher at the high school.

Local Boy knows his Neighborhood
When the Sheriff took office, Collin County’s population was around 200,000. Now with the tremendous growth of Plano, Frisco, Allen, and McKinney, the count is closing in on a million. It won’t be long!
The southern county border catches a bid of Carrolton, Dallas, and Garland as well as parts of Richardson. In all, 31 cities and towns are inside the county’s border. An incredible blend of the newest urban developments and rural historic Texas can be experienced in Collin County. Nearly two thirds of the county is still considered rural.
Box’s Upholstery in McKinney was Terry’s fathers business. The future president of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas was born and raised in McKinney. After graduating from McKinney High, he began his career as an 18 year old dispatcher. He has dated his wife Rendy since he was a junior in high school and they are still dating after 42 years. “My wife is the kindest, most caring person I know, beams the sheriff. I am sure she gets me more votes than I do! When she goes shopping, she ends up buying things for others as much as for herself.”
“When I was 21, I became a peace officer in Plano. I took the job because I just couldn’t see arresting people I grew up with in McKinney and knew so well.” But 10 years later he was lured to the sheriffs’ office with the rank of Lieutenant and was the Deputy Chief three years later. After the death of close friend Sheriff Joe Steenbergen in 1985, Terry Box was appointed by the Commissioners Court to complete the term and has been Sheriff Terry Box ever since.
After a special election in ’86 where he faced four opponents, the Republican Party candidate has basically run unopposed ever since. It’s is no wonder! Collin County’s sheriff has maintained an impeccable reputation that has led to special FBI training at Quantico and an appointment by Governor Bush for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards where he became the Chairman in 2000.
“Collin County is very fortunate to have a man like Terry Box as their sheriff”, claims Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson. “When Randall County built their new county jail we decide to model it after Collin County. Theirs was one of only two jails to successfully integrate a state of the art Direct Supervision Facility. His progressive style of management and his kindness, courtesy, and respect for human rights has helped me to see a different side of law enforcement and jail operations. We sent our staff down to McKinney to train at their facility. He and his staff were so accommodating and all of us were grateful and impressed with the leadership and management. When I started in law enforcement, I was part of the bag em and cage em mentality. Now, I see my job in a more humanistic light of protecting the rights of every individual.”
The new facility takes in account that not all who are held in a county jail have been found guilty of the charges. Many awaiting trial and are held in custody are later found to be innocent. “You have to treat people with humanity first and always.” declares the Sheriff. This facility helps maintain that balance.
“The sheriffs’ senior staff views Sheriff Box as an inspiration with great ethics, and an approachable style of leadership that makes everyone strive to be a kinder, better person.” this from long time friend Major Mike Anderson.
There isn’t enough space to list his resume of boards, directorship, accreditations, and community service involvement. The modest Sheriff doesn’t even list them on the county web sight like most others do. Always early to work, he disdains being lazy or late but forgives others just as easily as he leads by his example of respecting each citizens rights.
Terry’s humanity showed itself in spades when he discussed the challenges of his Border County brethren. “They live a totally different life than I do! They have to fear for their staff, their families, and even their own safety every day. Not me!” In Lou Gehrig type style he closed our interview with his appreciation for his family and his home. “I am always aware that I am one of the truly lucky people to have a job I love in a great county in my home town.”

To support Terry or just to share this story, there is a FB link below.

Cowboy Coffee

JB Blocker

Romancing the Bean, A Series of Short Stories

By J.B. BLOCKER

The Caffeine Cowboys

By the time I met Tom Robinette, he was walking with a cane to help him bear the years he carried on those stooped shoulders. I didn’t know it then, but now I know that years are like gravity.

His short cropped balding head was usually covered by a worn and venerable cowboy hat. All scrunched up and sweat stained, that hat was iusually tilted to one side. Tom would scratch the side of his forehead when he was contemplating serious questions. I caused him to scratch a lot. I clearly remember those hands. His fingers were bent and knotted. His skin had the look of fragile leather as they opened and closed in an almost robotc dance I have witnessed often.
Tom ran the old pool hall in Sunray, the tiny town where I grew up in West Texas. I watched those hands many times as they caressed his pool cue with chalk and then slowly plant those fingers on the pool table to set his bridge. They looked like the roots of an old vine growing out of the green felt of the table and into his long shirt sleeves that were always buttoned.

I don’t know why they call it West Texas. We’re the very northern part of the state. It’s the Panhandle! It should be called North Texas, but that name was taken by the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. Still, if you drive about 400 miles north and west of Dallas, you’re near my home, and you are still in Texas!

If you keep on driving north past Amarillo, Dumas, and Stratford, you are in the Oklahoma Panhandle and another 40 miles will get you in to Kansas. Now, that’s really North Texas! From there, only a barbed wire fence separates us from Canada ‘so they say.’

Entertainment

Sunray, Texas, sprouted up in 1930 as a station for the Rock Island Railroad. It quickly built a square with a hotel and theatre that included the pool hall but never could claim 2,000 residents. There are only so many jobs when most of the farms and ranches are thousands of acres. The few nearby oil refineries, feed yards, and meat packing plants keep it alive.

Back in the ’70s it cost a quarter a rack for a game of 8-ball and 30 cents to shoot a game on the snooker tables. These were oaken; hand carved, and inlaid tables that must have been some of the first ones in the Panhandle.

Ice cold Cokes in those little bottles were a dime at the pool hall. That little oval topped Coke machine was a great reason to stop and quench a thirst. The pool hall was a place where the cowboys and farmers alike traded stories and challenged man-hoods. There were eight grand old tables in two rows that were the only entertainment to be had in town.

Someone brought in a pinball machine at one time, but it made too much noise so it ended up at the Tastee Freeze (our only restaurant). The pinball machine was quickly banned from the Tastee Freeze because too many kids began hanging around just to play it! Imagine that!

Sunray, Texas, doesn’t even have a stop light but now it has a Dairy Queen, a Mexican diner, and a good old fashioned café called Judy’s. There are no longer any pool tables or pinball machines except in private homes that I know of!

To protest the banning of the pinball machine, teens used to gather at the four-way blinking caution light eight miles away to drink beers, swap lies, share aspirations, and watch something change.

The back tables in the pool hall were usually used for gambling. If one of the front tables was open at the pool hall, and no one else wanted a game, you could play against old Tom. If you won, you didn’t have to pay.

I would stop by anytime spare change came into my possession to buy a Coke and maybe get asked to play. Over time, I came to know the rhythm and ways of the pool hall. Inside those old walls, young boys and men interacted and shared their stories. I cherish those times. Especially, when it was just Tom and I.

Back in Time

This was the late 1960s and Tom was in his eighties. He was an old-time cowboy. A real cowboy! I would sit for hours listening to stories from Tom and some of the other old timers who would kill a little time over a snooker game called 101.

What I was hearing was history. It was the Texas panhandle of the 1880s after the first of the barbed wire began to spread its tentacles all over Texas and beyond. It was a time when teenage boys became men on the open range.

It wasn’t until after the late 1870s that the Indians and buffalo had been decimated or relocated from the panhandle. That is when the settlers began to move in.

Tom and some of the other old timers claimed that time as their own. They were there at the end of the days of the trail rides of legendary proportions. At the Sunray drive-in that closed in ’69, there was the Old West starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, at the pool hall you could hear the truth!

Many times Tom would pick me to be his partner among those hanging around looking for a game and I relished the relationship and the affection we shared. He was patient and gentile in nature, and he was slow in movement and speech. So sloooow!

I didn’t realize it was due largely to severe arthritis until I developed some of my own. If you don’t know patience, arthritis’ll teach it to you. (That’s cowboy talk!)

Smallville

I became a pool shooter to be reckoned with over those years. I could almost claim daily visitations except on Sundays. Tom didn’t seem to see the need to be open seven days a week. Sundays were consumed by Church activities and the Dallas Cowboys or Wild World of Sports. Our preacher knew to end sermons in time for noon kickoffs!

There was no home mail delivery in Sunray, Texas. Still, isn’t! The post office was across from the city hall, the Boy Scout house was also in the town square next to the library and across the street from the dilapidated row of buildings which once held an old hotel, theater, grocer, the local news paper office, and the pool hall. The Black Cat Saloon once operated on the west side of the square and it is said to have been one of the panhandles first houses of Ill Repute. The Baptist Church owns that lot now.

My house was four blocks north of the square, and the Church of Christ (with a Sunday school) was two blocks south. I could not escape the pool hall’s shadow or its lure.

During my junior and senior years, I developed the film and reported on school events for the local weekly news paper operating next to the pool hall. The Sunray Sun! Great memories! I sometimes was paid more for a week than my high school teachers by reporting on football, basketball, track, rodeo, and any other school events. I was paid $10 for every photo that made the paper and by the inch for the accompanying stories. I learned to always have a camera around my neck and a pen and notepad in my pocket. I got away with so much because of the power of the camera and pen. Still do!

Before I had a job, I picked up coins and change regularly just to have that quarter for pool. When I had money, I played almost daily. The pool hall was the last business to close on that once vibrant side of the square. Fortunately it didn’t close until after I left for Lubbock and Texas Tech (Guns up!). Unfortunately, but fittingly it was closed after the caretaker was laid to rest, for Tom Robinette was truly a caretaker, not only to the pool hall, but also to the many young boys and men who had learned their game over the years.

I don’t remember any women ever coming in except for the mothers, wives, and girl friends who were looking for their men. I don’t recall them ever playing.

Passing close to the pool hall was frequently required, and for me, it was an irresistible magnet. My ears should look like Spock’s from the many times my mother dragged me by a twisted ear in her patented grip as she led me out the door. This was witnessed often, especially before or after any church activities. We never missed any of those.

Eventually, I received carte blanche privileges by sweeping, cleaning, brushing the tables, replacing the cue tips, racking and collecting the table fees. There were only two racks in the house, so you would have to pay for your last game before you could start another. Tom held the racks! That’s how he kept them honest. You paid and Tom racked. As Tom’s walkin stick became more important, I racked more often. Me and Tom, we be mates!

The Robinette Rodeo

Just north of town was the city corral and rodeo arena. By the time I moved to Sunray, it was well worn at best. By the time I left, it was barely standing It was for public use and our high school rodeo team practiced there. I myself took fierce splinters home from that place and almost dreaded the risk over the thrill. Almost! The risks were the splinters from the aged and sagging corral as well as the unpredictable livestock.

One particular bronc we would practice on was predictable! He liked to rub you off with the corral! I almost had enough when Mom had to remove the largest of the splinters from my backside before I could shed my shirt and jeans.

Tom’s family and friends worked their horses and practiced roping early mornings. They would arrive before the sun along with other kids who would try to get in an early ride before school. These kids were my classmates. In a school system of fewer than 100 in high school, the morning Robinette Rodeo was common knowledge and several of us showed up early. It was like family. We went to the same church where my father was an interim minister.

The first time I showed up at school with a tear in my shirt and dirt on my seat from an early morning ride was huge point of pride. It was my first attempt to ride on a small steer. It was also my last.

It is my opinion that cattle are not meant to ride! It’s their opinion too!

The Cowboy Way

On those early mornings, Tom would sometimes make his own fresh coffee the cowboy way! The way he had made it on the open range as a teenager in the late 1890s.

When wranglers were sent out for days at a time to round up strays, they were often given a hunk of corn meal cake, a chunk of bacon, and either a piece off of a brick of tea or some green coffee beans. Whenever the cowboy stopped to rest and eat, he would boil some water and make one of the only two beverages that were practical.

7-11’s were a hundred years away. Boiling their water helped with sanitation and flavored the water. The grounds would be used to season the bacon grease that was used to soften the corn cake.

I was the kid who hung on Toms every word when it came to cowboying in the Old West. So when Tom decided to show me how cowboys made their coffee, I quickly learned his brewing method and have shared the experience as if I were Johnny Coffeeseed.

Campfire Coffee

Over a small camp fire, Tom began by heating the well-cured little skillet he had once carried with him on the open trail. He would count out fifty green coffee beans from his worn leather pouch. The pouch was made from the scrotum sack of a calf. They make great handy bags and come in a variety of sizes. They are still used today. You can find them with Mexican and Indian curios. I have even made hacky sacks out of a few and given them as gifts.

The green coffee beans were rattled around in the skillet until they browned and swelled, and began to smoke. This takes about 10 minutes. When the beans are beginning to release their oils, they are a dark brown and they begin to sizzle. With judicious timing, Tom removed the skillet with the now dark roasted coffee and picked up a large smooth stone to pulverize the smoking beans. The smoke changed quickly from a smell of burning to the scent of invitation.

Tom told me that he once used his revolver as a kid to crush the beans “till it fired of early one morning and spooked the cattle they had just rounded up.” He said it started a bit of a stampede, and I remember I believed him. Tom didn’t tell tall tales, he told good ones.

After the beans were satisfactorily crushed, Tom would place the skillet back on the fire and add water. The measurement was two tin cups of water. The pungent smoke of the coffee beans around the morning campfire became warm rich flavor floating around us like a blanket of aromas.

The water would come to a boil, and after the grounds were sufficiently soaked and settled, he would lay his bandanna over the cup for a filter and pour. The coffee was strong and rich. It wasn’t anything like the Folgers in our kitchen or the often burnt coffee at the café. I shared my first cup of fresh roasted coffee made the Cowboy Way in the extra tin cup Tom provided.

In that tin cup were the past and my future. I just didn’t know it yet! Exposed to fresh coffee in such a dramatic fashion, the memories of the smells and taste have never stopped resonating.

Once, Tom cooked a little bacon and corn cake too. He used the coffee grounds in the mixture. It was an earthy porridge by the time he served it. My first, cowboy breakfast on the range, sort of!

Oh the logic of it all!

It all made sense to me then. You know, the reason the Westerns always show the cowboy making a campfire even in the heat of the day. If you could smell and taste the coffee, you’d understand too. It’s that blanket of comfort a hot cup of aromatic coffee provides.

Tom also taught me something else I’ll never forget. Often, when there appeared to be no make-able shot on the pool table, scoffers would ponder the impossibility of a shot and declare “There’s no shot! Not a chance!” It was to those without the vision that Tom would slowly, casually drawl, “Don’t need no shape, if you’re a shooter!” That simple phrase seems to apply more often and in more and more circumstances. It’s a fact of life!

Thanks Tom … and, where’d you get those beans?

– J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas. Phone: 469-334-9962. Email: jbblocker@hotmail.com

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***
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A Texas love story

Reprinted with permission of the McKinney Courier-Gazette. For home newspaper delivery, contact 972-542-2631.

Civic Duty, a call from above

David Myers had a problem. There weren’t enough Valentines in the packet they had bought for his 4th grade class Valentines card exchange.  You remember, those shoe boxes we wrapped and covered in hearts with a slit on top to slide in those little cards. It’s a big deal. At that age, it’s not about love. It’s about friends and mutual recognition. Those little cards have vague little notes that make the giver and the receiver feel better. It’s amazing what a little note can do to make someone feel better. 

There were a few more kids in his class than there were cards in the Valentines kit, and David didn’t want to leave anyone out.  

Mom came to the rescue with a few extra ‘grown up’ cards.  Now, there’s another problem. “Who do I give the bigger ones to? Well, there are my friends. And Lana Rolf is nice. We almost have the same birthday and she’s always nice to everyone. That was easy.” 

Lana showed her compassion at a very young age. One day, she came home worried about a teacher. “My teacher is all alone and her pet bird is sick.” reports a concerned little Lana. 

Wanda recalls, “ I was so proud of her for being concerned about a teacher who was not very nice to her students.” 

David and Lana were both good kids. Well behaved and polite. Thoughtful children. They were never really friends, but they were in home room together in 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. There was always a silent but mutual respect. Their mothers were home room mothers and even worked on some local elections together.

Years later, a boy in David’s English class mentioned his prom date was Lana Rolf, David’s sincere reply was, “Way to go!” 

The children would grow their separate ways.

David the shy, tall, lanky athlete was late in filling out but would eventually grow to 6-5.  Even though leg injuries kept him from competing at higher levels, basketball was in his heart. After graduating from UTA, he would eventually become head coach at Irving MacArthur, a position he held for 16 years. David married, had a daughter and continued to coach and teach. After completing his Masters at UNT the teaching spirit won out over coaching and so, David turned his attention to teaching Biology and working with student leadership programs. Competition took second seat to preparing students to succeed. 

The Fire Truck Crew is a group of students who are chosen for their enthusiasm, spirit, and interest in serving the community. Although dozens of Juniors try out each year, only 12 are selected. They get their name from the restored 1928 fire truck that serves as their mascot.

Lana was always the consummate student with an artist heart and a drive to be helpful. A member of I-teens , a group of teens who participated in local charity work, she would become the Treasurer of her Senior class and be voted Top Toy Tiger on her high school drill team.

After graduating the studious achiever headed for Baylor.  Competitions weren’t really important to her. Preparing to do her best and contributing to group causes was her motivation, not awards. The awards came anyway.  Lana makes the Deans List and graduates Magna Cum Laude from Baylor.

It took two years as an Art teacher in a Junior High school where art was more of an elective class for study hall overflow than a resource for creativity to change her direction. “Lana would come to the house on weekends and we would try to come up with ways to inspire in a class with no budget. She spent her own money to buy supplies and struggled to make her class a fulfilling experience. Lana is meticulous and detail oriented in every thing she does and it showed in her art. To her, this was not an art class.  Her father and I told her that if she wanted to continue her education, we would support her.” 

Lana goes back to Baylor and law school where the always studious Lana completes her law degree.

While David is coaching winning high school teams, Lana becomes a prosecuting attorney putting 12 years in to the Dallas D.A.’s office.  . 

David is devoted to his students and child. “I’m an Aggie by tuition.” beams the father of a school teacher.

Judge Lana spends another nearly 15 years as an elected judge for the 203rd District Court where she runs unopposed as a conservative Republican when almost all the courts turned over to a strong Democrat surge in Dallas County in 2006. 

“I saw it as a compliment and a sign of support when none of the many attorneys who enter my court wanted to replace me. I knew I had been doing a good job and running unopposed was of itself rewarding.” 

That’s Justice Lana now. Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed her to the 5th District Court of Appeals, Place 4, a seat she has occupied since December 2, 2009. 

Was It Fate? 
David takes it from here.

 ”Seated among hundreds of other prospective jurors in the Central Jury Room of the Dallas County Courthouse that September morning, I settled in for what I anticipated was a long and uneventful day. 

“Little did I know that my life would change dramatically, and for the better, because of the fulfillment of my civic duty.  Half an hour after arriving, seventy-five of us were called forward and instructed to report to a 7th floor courtroom where twelve men and women would be selected to hear evidence and decide the guilt or innocence of a man charged with capital murder. 

“I was juror Number 57.  Once the judge began the voir dire, I had this feeling that I knew her, but not as the Honorable Lana McDaniel.  I studied her portrait hanging in the courtroom and then looked back at her on the bench.  Soon my feelings were confirmed when she stated that we had graduated from high school together and revealed her maiden name. 

“Immediately, I made the connection.  When she posed the question, “Would the fact that we know each other affect your ability to serve as a juror in this case?” I wanted to respond with a rather clever, but true, statement like “Not unless you count that crush I had on you in second grade your Honor.”  Considering the serious nature of the courtroom, I thought better of it and replied with a rather milquetoast answer of “No, your Honor.” 

“After our lunch break and before the jury panel entered the courtroom, I was quizzed by some of the female members of the panel about our possible social life back in the day.  One such question was “Did you and the judge date in high school?”  Before I could answer, I felt the attention of other jurors gathered in the hallway, waiting for my response. 

“My answer of course was ‘No,’ as I was painfully shy and she was a leader on the drill team, a class officer, and Number 8 of 460 in our senior class. To me, she seemed way out of my league.  At the end of the afternoon, I was excused from service by the court and looked at the judge for what I thought would be the last time. ”

Practice what you preach

“That same evening, I realized I should practice what I preach.  As a high school teacher of a Student Leadership class, I impress upon my students the value of composing and sending a handwritten note of congratulations, appreciation, or encouragement to people in their lives.  

“I wrote to the Judge, my former classmate, congratulating her on her achievement and wished her a long and distinguished career as a judge.  Not knowing that her marriage had fractured and dissolved as had mine, I never expected to hear from her.  Much to my surprise, the next week she called me at school and left a message of thanks for the note. She did not receive positive notes from jurors very often. 

“Returning the voice message was not as simple as I thought it would be.  Because of a glitch in the telephone system, my calls kept going to a different judge, who thankfully, got me connected to my former classmate. 

“We finally visited for a few minutes and learned some about our past.  Now summoning all the manly courage I could muster, I asked her if she would like to meet for dinner sometime.   When her answer was ‘Yes,’ and we agreed to meet for dinner the next week.   

“The dinner was a surreal experience as we reacquainted over the course of three hours, and discovered among other things that we were in the same class four different years in elementary school.  We talked of elementary school and high school memories, of teachers we shared, and what we had done during the thirty-two-year interval.  That began a whirlwind romance in which we were married almost six months to the day after that courthouse summons.  The romance has not slowed now six years later.   

“What was the lesson I learned from this experience?  I learned that every single day is a gift that is to be unwrapped and then treasured and that each day brings an adventure because you never know what is in store for you that day. ”

The Note

David had been teaching his leadership classes the value in developing the practice of sending complimentary notes and thank yous as part of their follow up procedures. Practicing what he has preached, David sent a note to the Judge. 

Judge Lana receives the note, a first of its kind, and shows a friend. She explains that the note is from a former high school classmate who was recently excused from jury service. “Do you think I should call him and thank him for his kind note?” The friend asks “Is he cute?” Well, yes! “Well, just call him and thank him.” 

Lana knows from his juror card that David is divorced. Neither of them is looking. Both know something is missing. 

Dates to remember

Each can tell you the day of their first phone call that led to their first date.

They both mention the day of their first date, Oct. 7, 2004, that lasted three hours at the Cantina Laredo in Lewisville. It is still a favorite date spot. 

Both remember Oct. 24th, the day Lana says, “I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” 

Lana had never done anything like that. She couldn’t believe those words came out of her mouth. There was a nervous moment as she awaited David’s response. To David, those words were music. You can feel David shiver when he talks about that magic moment.

By Christmas, mothers Wanda and Billye are beside themselves wondering how the relationship is going. They are now two happy mothers who light up when the others child is mentioned. They have already completed their circle and it’s time for the kids to cooperate! 

On Valentines Day 2005, David brings a ring he helped to design to their date and then proposed in front of the Mustangs at Las Colinas.  They were married in March.

“We know that it was no accident that I ended up in her courtroom on jury duty.” 

In the weeks just before, Lana started painting her house. She was going to sell the house that was not a home and try to fill in the missing pieces of her single life. The colors she selected were dull and drab. It’s not that she was lonely! Not with two supportive sisters and devoted parents. She had her faith, she was dedicated to her responsibilities as a judge, and was leaning heavily on God’s plan. Whatever that was.  

As it turns out, she kept the house that had started to feel like a trap. There is a framed note hanging on the wall in the home of David and Lana Myers. The walls are painted in light pleasant colors. 

Q: How have you become a better judge?

Justice Lana Myers: Since David and I have been together; I have grown closer to God, and have balance in my personal and professional life.  The peace and joy in my personal life has made me a better person, and thus, a better judge. 

To quote John Wooden, “When you are through learning, you are through.”  I never stop learning.  That attitude has made me a better judge. 

As a District Judge, I was a good listener–listening to the witnesses and attorneys who came before me in the trial court.  As an Appellate Justice, I have become an even better listener.  I have to listen more with my eyes than ears because we don’t hear from live witnesses.  I listen to their testimony through the cold record of the trial court.  I listen to brief oral arguments from the attorneys in court, but also listen through reading their briefs filed with the court. 

As I review cases on appeal, I find my nearly 15 years of judicial experience as a trial judge has given me invaluable perception and insight.  I listen carefully, thoughtfully, and with an open heart and mind.  My judicial experience has trained me to be a good listener. 

I see detail in everything. … That’s how I see the world.  I guess that comes from the artist in me.  I am perceptive, and don’t want to miss anything.  As an Appellate Justice, that perceptiveness translates into a detailed, thorough analysis of the legal issues presented to me.  The finished painting is the written opinion of the Court and God is a living presence in my life.

David and Lana Myers are active members of the First Baptist Church were David is preparing to begin teaching an adults Bible class. They glow.

Phantom Haunted Village opens Friday

By J.B. Blocker
There was a huge turnout for the Phantom’s Haunt actors call at the Ghost Town at Storybook Ranch in McKinney. Eventually, 85 stayed for the full tour and a chance to be a part of a Halloween production that will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at dusk for the month of October. The haunted tours start Friday and will journey through a wooded, county road into a world of lights, sounds, and surprises.
The Phantom, James Dunn, and Wayne Kirk of River Ranch Educational Charities at Storybook Ranch set down the law and kept the largely teenaged bat boys and tour ghouls captivated and motivated to find their place in the Halloween adventure.
One attending parent was Mark P. Yablon. His oldest daughter, Natalie, was chosen to be a narrator after she made up an impromtu ghost story to land the opportunity. “I was totally impressed and very surprised at the way that many behaved so attentively for so long,” Yablon said.
The Phantom and his men herded the excited want to actors around the back 10 acres of the Storybook Ranch at Custer and Stonebridge.
Expect the experience to get better with every performance as each member of the team gains in experience with the heavily wooded areas,the two haunted houses, a memorable walk through the cemetery, and Dry Bones western village.

A Storybook wedding for the Deputy Chief

By J.B. Blocker

The first wedding since the reopening of Dry Gulch western village in the back 10 acres of Storybook Ranch in McKinney came together like magic.
Mark down Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 was a historic night for many reasons. The last time the Sun, Earth, Moon, and Jupiter were in opposition (on a vertical plane) was in 1951. The next closest sighting will be in 2022.
On Thursday evening, the first newlyweds from the Storybook reopening were able to view this rarity knowing that all their stars were aligned.
For McKinney’s Deputy Chief of Police Kim Lee and her new husband Sean Malolepszy, the 23rd has become life changing. Both of their birthdays are on the 23rd and now they are Mr. and Mrs. Malolepszy.
The Chief will take on her new last name. It will be much harder for people to say or spell.
The wedding included Sean’s children Chynna and Maddie, and Kim’s children Kenzie and Jason along with a close collection of family and friends.

Coincidence?

When Justice of the Peace Paul Raleeh arrived, he shared his long relationship with Storybook.
“I used to work events here 20 years ago as an officer on security detail. I remember working with this good looking blonde. We even baked cookies together for an event. I married her!”
On Thursday, he officiated as Sean and the Chief were married, too!
In a quaint, personal, and sometimes humorous ceremony the I-Do’s were recorded by McKinney photographer Juan Carlos Cortez and can be viewed on-line at entertainmentphotos.net.
The whole affair was made possible by a series of coincidences.
The day after the couple decided that Sept. 23rd was the perfect date, Chief Lee visited Storybook Ranch for the first time to help Directors Wayne Kirk and Vanessa Fry coordinate security for upcoming events.
When Kim saw the little white chapel with 100 year old stained glass from the original Adophus that had been moved in years ago from Clarksville, Texas, she mentioned her intentions to marry in a private ceremony at the courthouse.
Wayne would have none of that!
He insisted on using the chapel. The Chief was concerned about the details on such short notice, especially since judges are readily available at the court house but not so much outside on short notice.
I happened to have JP Paul Raleeh on my speed dial, and he always responds to me so I took a shot and explained the situation. As you read above, the Justice of the Peace had his own personal reasons for offering his services.
Next, Wayne volunteered me to take the wedding photos. Now I have hundreds of photos published in the locals each year, but they are of the impromptu event category. This was the wedding for the Deputy Chief of Police in my hometown!
So, I called my friend Juan Carlos to take the photos and volunteered my guitar and a wedding song for my part.
I told Kim, I don’t do “Here Comes the Bride,” but I would be honored to play a song of my own for their First Dance.

Stunning!

You know that Go Daddy commercial with Danica Patrick getting pulled over by a woman officer who pulls off her sunglasses, let’s her long luxurious hair down, and then reveals her Go Daddy shirt? No one really believes that the women in all the cop TV series are really that hot in real life.
I’ve known Kim for about two years. I’ve only seen her with her hair pulled back tight, her shades on, and a bullet proof vest under full police uniform.
Who knew? Look at their wedding photos at entertainmentphotos.net and you’ll see what I mean.
Sean knew!
Congratulations to the new couple, and best wishes.

J.B. Blocker is a media consultant with Impress Me Media based in Historic Downtown McKinney, Texas.

Thursday Night is Poker Night in McKinney

By J.B. Blocker, Viewpoint

Are you looking for something fun and inexpensive to do? Look no further!
The World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League (WPTAPL) is coming to McKinney, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 at The Tokyo House.
This “Free” amateur poker league plays weekly in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other establishments throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the U.S.A. and beyond.
Sitting at a Hold’em table is a great environment for meeting near perfect strangers, making new friends, and having fun while competing for the over $250,000 in cash and prizes given away annually by the WPTAPL.
It could be your chance to become the next poker-made millionaire!
In addition to the WPTAPL’s multitude of prizes awarded throughout the year, the venue(s) hosting WPTAPL tournaments typically provide either a cash prize or gift certificates to the nightly winners.
All participants compete for and accumulate points based on their finishing order (top 16 each session earn points) in an effort to advance through the league structure to the WPT Amateur Championship in Las Vegas.
There, one lucky (or very good) member is crowned the WPT Amateur Championship of the World.
Have no fear, it’s all completely legal poker because as a participant you pay nothing to become a member and nothing to play nightly.
Best of all, its for everybody. Even those who have never played Texas Hold’em can play! The nightly tournament director provides lessons every poker night 30 minutes before the start of that night’s tournament. Anyone can learn and play.
Here’s a look at some of the great things you can win while having fun, hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones:
1. Win cash and/or other prizes awarded nightly by the host venue
2. Qualify nightly for WPTAPL’s weekly $500 Online tournaments
3. $10,000 Buy-in seats at official WPT Main events
4. $25,000 Buy-in seats at WPT Celebrity Invitational events while also competing for the chance to become the World Poker Tour Amateur Champion of the world
5. And the chance to become the next poker-made millionaire
Feel free to contact the league’s director in this area David Adamson for more details (214-914-0873) or go to http://www.wptapl.com for additional information about the league.
Last, but not least, make sure to check out the first tournament hosting WPTAPL in the McKinney area this week and next:
Where: The Tokyo House on Eldorado and Medical Center just east of U.S. 75/Central Expressway every Thursday at 7 p.m. beginning Thursday, Sept. 9.

Guitar players now have a sanctuary in McKinney

Guitar players now have a sanctuary
By J.B. Blocker, Viewpoint
You don’t have to die to go to Guitar Heaven!
In the heart of Collin County lies Adriatica, a 45-acre Mediterranean village reproduction. Go to West Virginia and Stonebridge on the west side of McKinney.

Music from above

If you happen to be strolling around the stonework streets of Adriatica, while you are admiring the architecture and landscape of the inner urban community, you might hear the sounds of a guitar coming from the bell tower. That would be George Fuller the builder/contractor up there trying out some of his newest guitar discoveries.

When he is not building or participating in community development, George answers to a higher power. He plays lead guitar for a band named for his wife, the Maylee Thomas Band. The higher power is a devotion to God, Family, and Guitars.

GuitArch Angels

There are guitar prodigies all over the world. There might be one under your roof. I’ve known people who can pick up just about any musical instrument and instantly make a connection. Don’t be surprised if it’s your son or daughter who is just waiting for the opportunity and inspiration to become the next Taylor Swift or even John Lennon.

But it takes more than talent to make it as a musician. The difference in instruments can change everything! The way it fits your body, your hands, and your personality all come together when you sit down with the right guitar. Knowing equipment and accessories is a must, and associating with better musicians is the catalyst to improving your art.

The first time I visited the Guitar Sanctuary, I was greeted by an old acquaintance Quinten Hope. He’s the kind of guitar player that makes my fingers ache. If you are a guitar player, and you watch somebody really good, you automatically try to air guitar along. When their talent is out of your league, your fingers get tangled in knots trying to copy the riffs and make the transitions.

Guys like Quinten, George and a host of other local guitar talent work, hang around, and teach at the Sanctuary. They can show you how to play that chord that has the 5 spots arranged in some ridiculous pattern on the guitar tablature.

The tablature is music copy with those little boxes with black spots that appear above the lines of sheet music and show chord transitions and how to make that chord. The problem for beginners is figuring out how you make five fingers move around the neck and cover those black spots. And if you don’t have the tablature for the music, how do you transition from a Bb7 to an Eb7sus. How do you even make an Eb7sus?

The really talented and seasoned pros had someone to teach them the tricks along the way. For the lucky beginners who have access to the pros, the learning curve changes dramatically.

Kiss the Girls

Two things have to happen to turn the tide for a budding guitarist.

First of all, finding the instrument that fits you is like finding a lover. To find that connection, you really need to play the field. You know, kiss a lot of girls! It will be worth it.

When you find that guitar and take her home with you, you will fall asleep with her in your lap. You will have her strategically resting within arms length of your favorite chair. You will talk to her with your fingers, and she will magically talk back with sounds that started somewhere between your head and your heart. Those sounds are finally spoken from the hollow depths of wood and electronics.

Expert dating advise

I walked in to the Guitar Sanctuary and behold! Beautiful variations of a woman’s form in a full range of colors and embellishments cover the walls. I am looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars hanging on Georges custom made racks like wall flowers at a debutants ball.

I greet Quinten who is the store manager, and I instantly know I have a new guitar resource always at the ready. He can’t run, he can’t hide, he works there!

I haven’t had a real Guitar haven since the days of Earl Swinford’s studio/guitar shop in Lubbock, Texas.

It was a place where the elite of Lubbock’s guitar world hung out. It was my entry into the world of 6 strings. Oh, I was already playing little steak house gigs for tuition, but I didn’t have much range past Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, and others noted for easy 3 chord progressions. I couldn’t transpose and I stumbled mightily with the chord complexities of many of the Beatles, John Denver, and the Eagles songs that were in my vocal wheel house.

I can thank a dozen or more players who showed me the way while I was discovering new guitar models and new electronic gizmos.

I can’t abide the big super music stores. Piano players are selling flutes and guitars they have never played. The chance of someone knowing how to use different effects boxes is slim and bad information is as rampant as lack of knowledge. They sell Wal-mart versions and knock off accessories because sales are more important than customer satisfaction.

If you were to find a competent sales associate, they probably wouldn’t still be working there the next time you stop by. I quit stopping by those big boxes years ago.

As George Fuller promises, “Everything in here is here for a reason, and we know the reasons. Every new guitar and effect gets played with because we can’t help it! It is our own candy store.”

Guitarist like Quinten and George love to share their knowledge and will happily strap you in and turn you on to the world of guitars and effects.

Just Flirting

I spied a Martin acoustic and strapped in. Behind me, a Takamini much like my own kept staring at me until I had to change partners. Next to the Takamini was a Collins special edition flirting with me. I am so fickle!

But while I’m playing the Collins, two ladies kept winking at me from across the room. They were Paul Reed Smith custom acoustics. Beautiful works of art with details of fine rare woods, intricate inlays, and custom hardware. I shyly put away the Collins with her clean clear tones, and I tentatively reached for one of the PRSmith girls.

Once she was safely in my embrace, she began to talk back to me! With tones that were astonishingly deep and rich! She sang a new song. One that I had heard in my head but it was music that had gotten lost in the translation through my own guitar.

Uh oh! My love for my Takamini just changed. I instantly realize that I might have been dating the wrong girl. No wonder my music seemed flat and lifeless.

I looked up at Quinten and his always sheepish grin. I held the PR Smith sister away from me and said to Quinten, “I’m not sure I’m worthy!” He looked back and knowingly responded, “I know what you mean!”

This is Guitar Heaven!

There is a lot more to this story but I said there were 2 things a guitar player needs. First, you need a guitar that you can dance with like a seasoned partner, and secondly, you need continuous knowledge and inspiration like flowers need rain! Knowledge is inspirational!

Get Some! at a sanctuary for the guitarist at heart. Bring your prodigy and meet some of Collin Counties Guit Arch Angels.

You might even get some autographs when you are there! You never know who might be there. You might be seeing them on the big stages.

They had better not be dancing with my girl! I’m saving for the engagement ring that is engraved JB loves PR Smith!

J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney.

Everything you need to know about computers

By J.B. Blocker
Viewpoint

Help me! I’ve got a virus!
I called my daughter. I called my editor. I called a geek friend. Check that, I called several.
They had their own viruses. What else did we have in common? We all use Facebook, hotmail, and have some sort of anti-virus already installed.
I tried everything over hours of following my daughter’s instructions and then hours more with my geek.
My laptop eventually wouldn’t boot up because my anti-virus had a virus!

Redneck
at the Chamber

I go to the Wednesday morning Links breakfast for the McKinney Chamber at Saltgrass on US 75 and El dorado. One of the regular 100-plus friendly faces is Tracy Holz.
That morning, Tracy talked about his $97 computer repair service.
I picked up his card and read his Redneck Glossary. Here it is with his permission.
Reboot – What you do when yer done scratchin’ yer feet.
Server – The feller who doles out the beans.
Hardware – Nuts, bolts, nails, and so on.
Spread sheet – One way of fertilizin’ a field.
Cell Phone – What you use to make yer one call from jail.

After reading that, I felt dumber! That’s when I realized that I really wish I could trust someone with my brain.
My whole writer’s life revolves around my computer. I have wasted hours ad in finitum over a slow computer and more hours waiting for a link.

Referral

Andrew Shull is a State Farm agent who is a regular at the Links meetings.
I asked him for a reference. “I’ve known Tracy for about 4 and a half years. He has helped me set up computers and helped me maintain them in my office and at my home. He is always trying to find a way to give you the most for your money.”
Ian Buchanan is a finance whiz for Interfacefinancial.com. He is also an Ambassador for the McKinney Chamber.
“Tracy is a great resource. He knows his stuff, is very honest, and customer focused.”
Good enough!
I dropped my brain off at his 4550 Eldorado office and got a receipt from his sister Elizabeth who keeps Tracy in line while he keeps us on line.
A few hours later, they called! They had cleaned and removed about a gazillion viruses. They added a free anti-spyware, anti -Trojan, scanner and cleaner. They told all the software that was booting up every time I turned to computer on to wait until I ask for them.
And as a bonus, Tracy added a replacement 256 memory card to replace my faulty one for free!
As it turns out, High Tech Redneck doesn’t try to sell you new computers, and they don’t sell off repaired trade-ins. They did have a spare part that they just gave me. I like that.

Thank You
This is my thank you letter to Tracy and my fellow Chamber members. Tracy is as advertized. A friendly, reliable, and courteous businessman who knows his stuff so I don’t have to. All for $97!
From what I understand, Tracy will make home visits to help set up computers, Internet connections or to repair for a $97 house call. If you have to have hours of systems checks and downloads you should drop it off or have it picked up to save charges for waiting.
I do know this. Tracy will figure out the way to save you the most time and money. Then you’ll be writing one of these letters.

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