Category Archives: News

Concealed carry now a reality at North Lake College

A state wide concealed carry policy for all Texas community colleges took effect on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

In June of 2015, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 11, which now permits License to Carry (LTC) holders to keep a concealed handgun on or about his or her person into any institution of higher education in Texas.

On Aug. 1, 2016, the legislation went into effect for all Texas four-year colleges and universities.

“We are prepared, and our students are prepared,” said Carole Gray, Dean of Disability Services, Veterans Affairs and Counseling Services at North Lake College. “We have information going out to student, facility, and staff. This is part of who we are now, and to predict the future wouldn’t do us any good. We can only wait and see.”

“The law does not allow ‘open carry’ on college campuses,” said Lauretta Hill, Dallas County Community College District’s (DCCCD) Commissioner of Public Safety and Security. “Open carry refers to the intentional display of a handgun, including the partially- or wholly-visible display of a handgun stored in a shoulder or belt holster. The law also does not allow the carry of rifles or shotguns on college campuses.

“In the future, students, facility, and staff can expect to see several changes regarding their security, including being required to wear identification name badges. This will also effect visitors who will be required to show identification at the front desk before walking campus grounds.”

Certain campus locations do not allow firearms such as child-care centers, polling places, sporting events, or any locations where grievance or disciplinary proceedings are conducted. The college prohibits the use, possession, or display of any illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon that cannot be concealed.

Proponents of open carry believe arming the ‘good guys’ allows individuals to protect themselves and others in a world where bad guys carry guns.

“I feel that now it’s kind of better, because at least now we can protect ourselves if something happens, especially because of what happened recently,” said Ashley Gonzalez, a North Lake student, referencing a violent campus shooting in May which claimed two lives. “I believe as long as the students and facility are responsible and they know how to use it right and not play around with it, then they should be allowed to bring it here.”

Opponents of open carry are often quick to point out that statistically a gun owner is more likely to be shot by his own weapon than use it to defend himself or others.

“Our focus has been on compliance with the law and making sure that the college community understands what is allowed and what is not allowed,” said Dr. Christa Slejko, President of North Lake College. “Over the last year, we have held public forums to solicit feedback and questions from the community, the employees, and students. We’ve also had the opportunity to participate in the development of the DCCCD policy for implementation of the law.

“I think it means we will be adjusting to this new environment based upon our individual feelings about concealed carry. As you know, this is a controversial subject with proponents and opponents on both sides. In addition to complying with state law, it is also our role to be sure that our facility, staff, students and community understand the law and how concealed carry will look on a college campus. Above all, we don’t want this to be a distraction from our learning mission.

“The only part of the law that is open to local control is in the area of exclusionary, or gun free, zones. With input from the many constituents involved in our planning, the DCCCD Board approved as part of their policy, exclusionary zones. Exclusionary zones cannot be used to work around the intention of the law, but examples of approved gun-free zones including sporting events, the college Health Center, the Counseling Center and lab areas in which there are combustible materials.”

Irving ISD welcomes over 300 new teachers

Irving ISD welcomed nearly 330 new teachers to its ranks during the 62nd annual Back-To-School Luncheon presented in the Nimitz High School cafeteria on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

New teachers and professionals joined the staffs of every Irving elementary, middle and high school. They were welcomed to the district by members of the city council, school board, fellow teachers, and Superintendent, Dr. Jose Parra. 

“I can give all of you, as new staff members, the assurance that we will give you the support that you want, the feedback you deserve, and the students that you’re going to come to love,” Parra said. “Our kids will give you more than you could ever dream they could, if you give them that first. I think that’s the amazing thing about our students and our school district. They appreciate the smallest kindness and will always give you more than you think they can, if they think you care about them in the least.”

The event was sponsored by Michaels’. The company gave all the incoming teachers gift cards to help prepare their classrooms for the school year. The district also gave out its annual “Spirit Award” for the group with the most school spirit. This year’s recipients will be teaching at Britain Elementary School.

For many of these teachers, Irving ISD classrooms will be their first teaching positions. Emily Hartwig will be teaching 7th grade humanities at Ladybird Johnson Middle School. From a family of educators, Hartwig is looking forward to teaching in the same school district her father taught in years ago.

“Both of my parents are teachers and I’ve always been around education,” Hartwig said. “One day, I just started thinking about what I really wanted to do, and I liked helping kids, so that’s kind of where I landed. My dad actually taught for Irving ISD for 13 years. He loved it. He felt like they really backed new teachers and they make sure that they provide the resources to build teachers. Coming in as a new teacher, I wanted somewhere that would provide the resources and support me along the way. That’s why I chose Irving ISD.”

Hartwig enjoys teaching middle school students in particular, because she believes they are at an age where their teachers can really make a difference to their futures.

“I feel like they’re at a point where they’re starting to look towards the future and looking towards what they want to do as a career,” Hartwig said. “I feel like I can really help lead them down whatever path they choose and let them know that they can succeed however they want to with whatever path they choose.”

Incoming teacher, Jeremiah Fincher, has taught 6th through 8th grade for the last eight years. This year, he will be teaching Texas History, World History and PE at Ladybird Johnson Middle School.

“My whole family were pretty much educators: my grandparents, my mom, my sister, aunts, uncles,” Fincher said. “It’s basically what I’ve wanted to do my whole life.

“Irving is very unique. It’s in a big area and is a big town, but it’s really got a small city vibe to it.”

Jordan Schneider, another first-time teacher, will be teaching 8th grade English, language arts and reading at Crockett Middle School.

“I worked with youth in a really poor community and saw how teachers treated their students,” Schneider said. “It just wasn’t a really good environment, and I realized the students needed somebody who cared about them. It was too late for me to change my major, so I decided I was going to get my alternate certification, because I can’t complain about something if I don’t do something about it.”

Local Irving family fighting for paralyzed son

On the morning of July 14, Alexia Rafeedie received a call from her mother, Sandi Brown, saying there had been a family emergency. Alexia was asked to return home immediately. A hospital in Hammond, Louisiana had called Brown minutes earlier saying her son had been in an accident, but they could not give more information on his condition.

Alexia picked her mom up and together they drove over eight hours to Louisiana to learn what had happened. Sandi’s son, Patrick Rafeedie, 20, was driving his new motorcycle to work when a truck pulled in front of him, causing him to slam into the back. His upper body took much of the force of the initial blow before he flew into the air and landed hard on the pavement, sliding nearly 200 feet.

Most of Patrick’s ribs were either broken or fractured. Both of his lungs collapsed. His pelvis was broken, and he had no feeling from the waist down.

“They didn’t think he was going to make it,” Alexia said.

Paramedics worked on him for over 45 minutes before airlifting him to North Oaks Hospital in Hammond.

“Most of the time he recognizes me,” Sandi said. “He doesn’t know where he’s at. Sometimes he’s in Florida. It’s touch-and-go with what he remembers and what he doesn’t. We have to explain to him that he’s in a hospital. He doesn’t realize, and when he does, he gets a really terrified, scared look on his face.”

Patrick’s hands are restrained to prevent him from pulling out or breaking the medical devices keeping him alive. He has a trachea in his neck providing oxygen and a peg in his stomach feeding him.

“He’s pulled the peg out five times,” Sandi said. “He’s actually broken the tubes on the trachea twice, not just pulled it out but both times he’s actually broken the tubes.”

Patrick, who lost his older brother in 2009 to a car accident, just finished his sophomore year at Louisiana’s Southeastern University. A boy that Alexia describes as very family oriented and hard-working, he had recently started a job at a landscaping company to help pay for college.

For his mother, a State-Farm insurance agent that owns her own agency on MacArthur Blvd, keeping spirits high and still running the business has been a struggle.

“My daughter has been here as much as she can, but I need her at the office working,” Sandi said. Sandi has been at the hospital for over 26 days, and the hospital staff set up an air mattress in the waiting room for her.

The truck driver received a ticket for failure to yield at a stop sign. He was driving on a suspended license and has had a bench warrant out since 2012. At the time of the accident, he had no insurance on the vehicle and was driving four children.

“I’m working hard to get somebody to pick him up on the warrant that he’s had out since 2012,” Sandi said. “Then I’m waiting for this case to be put on the docket so I can try to pursue further charges.”

On Thursday, August 3 Patrick had back surgery to fix his fractured T4 through T11 and T1 spinal nerves. Sandi said he may need more surgery as they monitor each day.

Since the accident, Patrick has not recovered feeling from his waist down. He has received 19 units of blood and is on life support, but doctors told his family to remain optimistic.

“They’ve told us not to give up hope, but as of now it’s not looking good,” Sandi said. “My goal is to get him completely off the ventilator, to get him in the right state of mind, and to get his physical therapy started. That’s the goal before they’re able to even get him out of SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit).”

For now, the family has limited hospital visits to immediate family because Patrick contracted MRSA in his lungs, an infection caused by a staph bacteria resistant to many antibiotics. He also fights fevers every night from a rare super bug in his lungs that doctors have yet to identify.


Although the family has insurance, most medical providers will cover up to a certain amount, leaving the family to foot the bill for the remaining cost.

“Out-of-pocket expenses he’s incurred so far on 23 days is $32,000,” Alexia said. “That’s not including what health insurance is going to cover. That’s out of pocket that we have to pay.”

Patrick is set to be in ICU for a few more weeks before moving to another room. The price of staying in an ICU varies, but generally is over $5,000 a day.

Although Patrick was initially air lifted just five miles from the site of the accident, the cost of that flight alone could easily be thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, medical flights are not required to report fees, and they can range from $12,000 to as much as $25,000 per flight.

Sandi was told by the hospital staff that the medical flight will not be covered by insurance. Now, the family hopes to save money so they can air lift Patrick to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, one of the leading rehab facilities in the country. A medical flight to Houston from Hammond could cost as much at $20,000.


Patrick’s family made the decision to make their private struggle public. They hope that by telling their story, they can raise money for his rising medical costs. The money raised will help cover continued care after hospitalization and living expenses after rehabilitation. The family’s GoFundMe page has a goal of $50,000.

“The funds will go for anything that insurance doesn’t cover as far as any medical equipment he’s going to need,” Sandi said. “He’s going to need a wheelchair. He’s going to need ramps whenever he does come home. He’s going to need living expenses and getting readjusted to being paralyzed.”

A family friend has set up a blood drive at Sandi’s office on August 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 717 North MacArthur Blvd to store blood for the Irving community. The blood won’t assist Patrick directly, but is a way for Brown and her family to honor his name.

“With the amount of blood that has been given to Patrick, I want to do something for our local community,” Sandi said. “Without the blood that Patrick’s been given, he wouldn’t be here.”

Mark your calendar!

Back-to-School Nights
August 15-18

Each campus in the district will host a back-to-school event that will give families and students the opportunity to meet teachers, drop off school supplies and become familiar with the school. In addition, those who have not completed all steps of the registration process can do so at these events. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, August 15 – high schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, August 16 – middle schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, August 17 – elementary schools, 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday, August 18 – early childhood schools, 2 to 4 p.m.

School Supply Drive
August 18, 6 – 7:30 p.m. 

First Baptist Church in Irving (403 S. Main Street) will be having a School Supply Drive to help provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Parents of Kindergarten – 5th grade students may pick up a free package of school supplies, while supplies last. 

U.S. pet toys market tops $1 billion

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Toys is the largest durable dog and cat petcare category with sales crossing the $1 billion threshold in 2016, up from $851 million in 2011. This reflects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the brand new report Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities. Packaged Facts forecasts similar annual gains looking ahead to 2020.

As in the overall market, dogs account for the lion’s share of sales, at 75 percent in 2016, with cats accounting for the remaining quarter. Dog toys continue to see steady growth in sales as one of the faster growing segments within the durable petcare category. Much of the growth can be attributed to the steady demand in sport and fetch toys as well as renewed interest in chew toys and a new love of more durable plush toys. Packaged Facts pinpoints the uptick in chew and plush dog toys as a promising opportunity for both pet product manufacturers and retailers.

Historically, dog owners have always been more willing to purchase toys for their pets than cat owners, notes David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. A look at households by pet type over the last six years shows this trend has been consistent over the entire period. It is also worth noting that the percentage of households with either cats or dogs purchasing toys has stayed above 53 percent for this period as well, although there have been larger shifts in the percentage of households buying toys that own just cats or just dogs. However, the biggest change, and a positive one at that, is in households with both cats and dogs. In these homes, toy purchasing has gone from 57 percent of households buying toys in 2011 to 67 percent of households in 2016.  

Pet humanization and “pets as family” trends play pivotal roles in growth within the toy industry. For instance, there is an extremely strong tendency for dog owners to use new toys as a way to pamper their pet. In fact, survey data reveal that 88 percent of dog owners agree they enjoy pampering their pet with new toys. Of course, long gone are the days when any old stick or old shoe would do for a toy. Attitudes have shifted significantly over the decades, and now only 36 percent of dog owners say their pet regularly uses household items as toys more than commercial toys, which is great for pet toy manufacturers.

About The Report

Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities provides an in-depth analysis of dog and cat toy sales through all channels in the U.S. market, focusing on the key categories of toys driving the market and highlighting sales trends. The report covers sales of chew, plush, rubber, fetch, tug, and puzzle toys, as well as cat scratchers and cat stands, discussing the top marketers in each category. All information and analyses in the report is highly accessible, presented in concise text and easy-to-read and practical charts, tables, and graphs.

View additional information about Dog and Cat Toys: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities, including purchase options, the abstract, table of contents, and related reports at Packaged Facts’ website:      

SOURCE Packaged Facts

Tipping culture grows uncomfortable, greedy


Ericka Prince frequents a snow cone stand in Irving with her husband and children. The ice-cold strawberry, lime, and rainbow treats, however, do little to cool off the heated exchange she has with the cashier who asks if she wants to include a tip. Not sure of whether it’s customary to do so, she sought advice from others around the stand.

“I don’t feel like I need to tip for a snow cone, but often I do because it’s awkward,” Ericka said.

Ericka and her husband, Philip, join a growing number of people frustrated at what they feel are abusive tipping practices.

“We make sure we’re doing what the norm is in society,” Philip said. “We tip our masseuse, we tip our beautician, we tip our hair dressers, and we tip our servers here. If I had to pick from this point forward, I would say I do not want tipping to exist.”

Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert, author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life,” and founder of The Protocol School of Texas that specializes in corporate etiquette training, said what is happening now among a lot of businesses is “tip-shaming”.

“What happens is people feel uncomfortable,” Gosstman said. “They say, ‘I don’t want to tip nothing, because then I feel uncomfortable.’ Then what they do is tip too much and walk away uncomfortable or unhappy.”

The annual tradition of tipping doormen, mail carriers, maids, nannies, and others originated in the 1700s when young newspaper delivery boys got in the habit of asking subscribers for gratuities on Christmas or New Year’s Day. The practice was later adopted by other local service people. In recent years, companies have begun taking advantage of the practice, including a decision by Marriott International to start placing tip envelopes in its hotel rooms. This practice of aggressively prompting customers for tips, Gottsman said, only ends up hurting businesses and customers.

“You end up losing customers that way, because they don’t want to go back and have that uncomfortable feeling,” she said.

Jo Ann Goin, founder of Glory House Catering Receptions Bistro on Main Street, agrees tipping practices have gotten out of hand.

“Most of us tip somebody, because we think we’re supposed to and then we adjust the amount of that based on how impressed we were,” Goin said. “But it’s getting abused because growing up it was only restaurants and now everywhere we go, we’re wondering if we’re expected to be tipping or not.”

Goin, who has been working at restaurants since she was in high school, said that unless circumstances are horrible, you should always tip a minimum of 20 percent.

“If a server is totally in the weeds, which is a term of being so far behind you can’t catch up because you’re so busy and you have too many tables, that’s one thing. The restaurant’s short staffed and you’re overwhelmed, that’s not their fault. But if they’re lazy and don’t care, that’s something else.”

Gottsman said the standard practice is actually closer to 15 to 20 percent and there is never a situation to tip under 10 percent.

“It’s difficult to say the food wasn’t good because that’s a kitchen issue and that’s not your server’s issue,” Gottsman said. “Let’s say you have a bad experience, you should leave 10 percent and talk to the general manager because oftentimes in restaurants, servers split their tips with others.”

Some residents believe that anything over 10 percent is excessive.

“I give 10 percent,” said a customer at Di Rosani’s, an Italian restaurant on Main Street. “I can’t figure out why I would give anybody more than what I give Jesus.” In one particularly bad instance of service, the same customer left a tip in a glass of ice water.

Philip and Ericka feel 15 to 20 percent is an acceptable range, but the problem with a set percentage is it implies the more expensive the product or meal, the better the service.

“We had a $100 meal, and I gave this person $15,” Philip said. “They didn’t do any more for me than the place down the street where I got a $30 meal did, and I only gave him 15 percent of $30.”

Philip grew up with a family that owned a restaurant and worked there as a waiter until he graduated college. Now, he owns a business and does not accept tips.

“It’s in my nature to provide good customer service, a tip doesn’t change the way I provide service for that person,” Philip said. “Managing other people, if you haven’t had the pleasure, is very stressful and labor intensive, and it’s hard work. The last thing I want to do is be judging somebody’s work when I’m not at work.”

The average tip rate seems to be rising. According to a PayScale study, the median tip is at 19.5 percent and a 20 percent tip, once considered generous, is now about average.

“The way it stands now, if you don’t tip, the person on the other end doesn’t necessarily take that and say they didn’t do a good job, they take it and say, ‘Oh this person’s a bad tipper,’” Philip said. His solution is a scale of one to ten on each table with a suggested percentage associated with the scale. That way, the server has a visible measure of their performance.

“That would reflect responsibility back on the service provider,” he said. “Now it becomes about the server as opposed to me the tipper.”

Shifting the emphasis to the server, Goin said, can have an impact beyond a restaurant.

“I remember giving a girl a $100 tip for a $30 lunch, because I just felt like I wanted to bless this girl,” Goin said. “If I was in college and somebody tipped me $100, I would have remembered that for the rest of my life.”

Irving recruits new sports complex


Perhaps the only person more excited than Irving city officials to attend the July 20 hard hat tour of the new Drive Nation sports complex was the facility’s owner, Jermaine O’Neal.

“Obviously it’s been a long process to get to this point,” O’Neal said. “It’s taken a lot of long nights and a lot of long days, and to be honest, a lot of people thought it couldn’t be done.”

That process began two years ago, when the five-time NBA All-Star received a call from his Cowboys season ticket account manager. O’Neal was unsure if he was going to renew his tickets, because he had been struggling to get his sports complex idea off the ground in Keller, Texas. His account manager connected him with John Terrell, Vice President of Commercial Development at DFW International Airport and former Mayor of the city of Southlake.

The game changer, O’Neal admits, was this area panned out both athletically and academically for his daughter. Located off Rental Car Drive near DFW airport, the 85,000 square foot complex is designed for all ages and tailored toward youth athletes. It includes 6 basketball courts, 8 volleyball courts, a turf field, batting cages and pitching tunnels, a sprinting track, weight room, hydrowork training room, as well as offices, team meeting rooms, and a kitchen.

“This is a corporate headquarters,” O’Neal said. “I don’t believe a facility for amateurs should look like a box gym. When they walk through these doors, we want them to feel as if they’re walking into the Cowboys arena, as if they walked into the Mavs headquarters.”

Construction on the $10.4 million, 16-acre youth sports facility started roughly eight months ago and is slated to open in the middle of October.

The complex is managed by Sports Facilities Advisory: Sports Facility Management (SFA and SFM) and focuses on performance training, nutrition, and wellness education. This headquarter facility will incorporate some of the latest sports science and technology including a shot tracker where amateur and professional athletes can monitor their field goal percentages or free throw percentages. O’Neal says the technology is used as a compliment to helping kids grow mentally as well as physically.

“Kids are always going to get bigger, stronger, and faster by nature because they’re getting older, but it’s that mental process that sets you up for everything,” O’Neal said. “If your mentality is all wrong, it doesn’t matter whether you can shoot, dribble, or play the game, so we want to create this environment where life lessons and athletic lessons are the exact same thing.”

At the start of 2016, DFW airport’s commercial real estate team, led by Terrell, informed the city of Irving they had a prospect looking to build a facility within Irving’s city limits. O’Neal’s team was also looking at five other cities including Keller and Frisco.

“Jermaine was looking at other outlying areas,” said Jay Ory, director of business development and marketing for Drive Nation, “but with this being on the Dallas-Fort Worth airport grounds, we thought it would be centrally located to attract not only Dallas-Fort Worth participants from surrounding communities but also out-of-towners that come in for these elite tournaments. Just imagine, you can fly right into DFW airport and there’s a cluster of Irving hotels surrounding the location. It’ll be very easy and convenient for these tournament participants and families to get to Drive Nation.”

Upon hearing of O’Neal’s project, the Irving Chamber of Commerce, city officials, and Irving ISD acted quickly to sit down with O’Neal and the Drive Nation team to learn more about the project.

“Any time we have a business that comes to the city of Irving, we ask them how we can help,” Councilman Dennis Webb said. “It’s their vision, but we want to partner with them and assist, because it’s going to benefit us. We want them to be successful.”

Drive Nation estimates a $13.1 million dollar economic impact for the DFW areas and surrounding communities. The real value, O’Neal says, lies in education and that begins with the parents.

“The parent becomes paralyzing for the kid,” O’Neal said. “They want their kid to be so good, they think their kid is Michael Jordan and the kid can barely dribble. Some people grow early, some people grow late. That’s mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s important for parents to be patient. If the kid is working, don’t drive him or her to the ground where they don’t want to play anymore.”

For at least the first year, O’Neal will serve as the complex’s basketball director.

“I’m a very aggressive personality when it comes to doing it right,” he said. “There’s no concessions to a talented kid that wants special treatment because he or she can play. So we’re going to be as I lead. In order for us to be the best version to get to what we’re trying to do, we’ve got to have great leadership.”

Drive Nation was founded in 2016 by O’Neal in Dallas as a grassroots youth sports organization that also hosts a basketball skills academy and an AAU team. They have partnerships with some of the largest youth sports providers in the country including Nike and AAU, the largest amateur sports organization in the country. By hosting national tournaments including USA volleyball tournaments, AAU tournaments, and Nike EYBL, some of the top high school and college players and coaches in the country will come to the area. That economic drive, Webb said, will help propel other new building projects.

“(This venue) is going to draw people in who then can go to our music factory,” Webb said. “Once they get here, they can go right down the street and visit this world class music factory and entertainment venue.”

“Tea with the Sheriff” discusses Dallas County Sheriff Department programs

Officer Paul Lehmann with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department discussed how his department is helping to “Build a Better World” during “Tea with the Sheriff,” hosted at the East Irving Library on Thursday, July 27.

During the presentation, Lehmann first went over services the Sheriff’s Department is required by law to provide. These services include keeping the Dallas County Jail, serving warrants and subpoenas, coordinating extradition of prisoners, and providing bailiffs for county and city courts. While these services are necessary for any Sheriff’s Department, Lehmann wants to focus on the programs that are not required by law but were created by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department to help the community.

“If a judge tells you to go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), people go to AA because they’re told to and they want to get out,” Lehmann said. “Even though we offer AA, for all the good it does, that’s been left out of the kind of things I put in to the ‘Build a Better World’ (program). These are the things that the Sheriff’s Department is trying to do, on its own, to ease the workload and ease problems we’re finding in the community.”

One of those problem-solving services is the homeless diversion program, which is designed to help homeless and/or mentally impaired individuals stay out of jail and get into programs that can help them.

“If you are mentally ill or homeless and picked up on the kinds of charges that mentally ill and homeless people tend to get picked up on, which is shoplifting, trespassing, things like that, there is a program in place now to identify you and will divert you over to a judge who will let you out of jail without bond, on the condition you go to drug counseling or you go to mental health services,” Lehmann said. A similar program was also created to assist prostitutes, offering to let them go free if they agree to seek help for whatever initially drove them to prostitution.

Lehmann discussed many other services the department provides, from education and vocational training for inmates, to roadside assistance with the Courtesy Patrol, to community outreach with programs such as Citizens’ Academy, Homes for Hounds and Kids and Cops. Many of these services came about as a result of officers observing problems in the community and deciding to do something about them. 

“One of the things about working in law enforcement that I will say is probably a benefit – you don’t have to complain,” Lehmann said. “If you get involved in this line of work, a lot of times you can actually do something about the things you’re complaining about.”

Rose Mary Cortez, branch manager of the East Irving Library, organized the event as part of the library’s “Build a Better World” summer reading program. She said after hearing about the many programs the Sheriff’s Department provides, she wanted to let the public know about them.

“I had heard about the different programs [the Sheriff’s Department] offers our community, and so many of them we are not aware of as just general citizens,” Cortez said. “This was a good opportunity for us to let everybody else know what a wonderful job they’re doing to build a better world in our community.”

Cortez feels events like this are important to help improve the public’s perception of law enforcement as a whole.

“I think if more people knew about [these programs], it would really help our community to make a better contact with them and to understand they’re not just sitting in an office or giving out tickets,” she said. “They’re really helping our community.”

Judith Osegueda, a clerk at Cedar Valley College and a criminal justice student, was very impressed by all the different services the Sheriff’s Department offers.

“I didn’t realize how much the Sheriff’s Department did for taxpayers,” Osegueda said. She would like to see more law enforcement outreach to the Hispanic community as well as the public at large. “I feel that my people are not well informed, even me. I used to be intimidated by sheriffs because they have a reputation of being mean. It’s really good to have the first-hand information and know that they’re not here just to pull me over, give me a ticket, and put me in jail.”

Set the Date!

Free Genealogy Classes
August 4 – 18, 12:30 p.m.
Free genealogy classes are available to the public provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, who has created the largest collection of family records in the world. A three part course will be offered at The Summit Active Adult Center in Grand Prairie. Topics that will be covered include Genealogy for Beginners, Sources for Genealogical Information and Search Techniques for Genealogical Information. Instructors for the course are Elder and Sister Grieve, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints. Classes will be Fridays at 12:30 pm. The class is free for all Summit members. Nonmembers may be charged a $5 entrance fee by The Summit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints collection of family records includes more than 3 billion deceased people and has 5,003 family history centers in 138 countries.

Summer School Graduation
August 10, 7 p.m.
Summer school graduation for all high schools is Singley Academy.

August 12, 10:30am-4:30pm
The Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra will be holding auditions for the Lone Star Youth Orchestra’s 2017-2018 Season at the Irving Arts Center.

Based in Irving, the Lone Star Youth Orchestra is the only tuition-free youth orchestra in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Lone Star Youth Orchestra is open to all middle and high school students residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. These talented youths are given the opportunity to supplement and enhance their music education by learning symphonic literature through high-quality orchestral and ensemble training with the very best in the field. Students have the opportunity to perform with the Garland Symphony Orchestra and the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra through our side-by-side concerts, and students may also compete for scholarship opportunities and guest artist spots through our annual concerto competition.

Auditions are by appointment only. All audition information can be found at Students can expect to perform two scales, a solo of their choice, and 2-3 excerpts that have been preselected for their instrument.

Apollo 13 recounts NASA’s “successful failure”

“Fred, no more jokes,” were Captain’s James Lovell’s first words to his Lunar Module Pilot, Fred Haise, after hearing an explosion while aboard Apollo 13.

For the weeks leading up to the flight, Haise had been firing a repress valve to get a scare out of Captain Lovell and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert. Firing the valve during training created a loud bang sound and always got a laugh from Haise.

“Suddenly on the flight, I hear the same thing,” Captain Lovell said. “When I looked up, [Fred’s] eyes were real wide, and I could tell from his expression that he had no idea what was going on.”

The Apollo 13 craft launched on April 11, 1970 on its journey to the Moon, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days after takeoff.

Nearly 50 years later, Captain Lovell and Haise recounted the mission that has since been classified as a “successful failure” at the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s Exploration Space 2017 Gala, where both astronauts were presented the George E. Haddaway Award.

Presented each year by the Frontiers of Flight Museum, the award honors individuals who have distinguished themselves by their accomplishments in the realm of flight and can include pilots, aircrew members, corporate or political leaders, engineers, educators, or writers.

“I’m glad that Fred and I received this together, because Apollo 13 was a team effort, not any individual but a team effort to make sure we got that spacecraft back in one piece,” Lovell said.

Haddaway was involved in the north Texas aviation scene in the 1930s through the mid-70s as a pilot and aviation journalist, publishing the aviation magazine “Southwest Aviation”.

Past winners of the award include General James “Jimmy” Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and Wiley Post.

Mark Davis, host of 660AM’s The Answer, moderated a discussion between Lovell and Haise following the awards ceremony, where both astronauts spoke about their experience on the mission.


Ken Mattingly was originally intended to be the Command Module Pilot on the flight, but only three days before launch at the insistence of the flight surgeon, John “Jack” Swigert was moved to the main crew.

“Jack helped develop some of the malfunction procedures for the command module,” Lovell said. “If we wanted someone else on board, he was the guy to have.”

Several days into their mission, however, Jack recorded the first incident on Apollo 13.

“Jack suddenly looked at us and said, ‘You know, I didn’t file my income taxes. I’m in deep trouble,’” Lovell said. “He told mission control and finally they called back and said, ‘Well we talked to the President and he said since you’re out of the country, we’ll give you a pass.’”

Not long afterwards, the crew heard a loud bang.

“It kind of echoed, because we were sitting in metal hulls,” Haise said. “It sounded like somebody hitting a sledgehammer on the side of a big tin can you’re in.”

That explosion crippled the Service Module and led to uncharted territory for NASA, which for the first few minutes after the explosion was not certain what was happening.

“The first thing that mission control thought about was all this could not happen at one time, because we build things with redundancy,” Lovell said. “The original thought was it’s gotta be a communications problem. The information coming down from the spacecraft was really caused by a solar flare. Of course in the spacecraft, we knew what was going on. It took a little while for the ground to finally realize this is not just a communications problem, it’s a real one.”

The crew then had to rely on the lunar module, a device meant only to operate for two days. The crew, however, was at least four days away from getting back to earth. Captain Lovell asked Haise to do a consumable check, a checklist of everything they had remaining on the ship.

“I felt we were really in good shape excepting I forgot about the lithium cartridges,” Haise said. “They are the things that cleanse the air of carbon dioxide, which builds up as you’re breathing out. In a submarine, you have to figure out a way to scrub it. I didn’t think about it but we didn’t have enough of those cartridges.”

NASA engineers on the ground had to quickly solve the problem and relay instructions.

“They actually tested that with human subjects in a chamber before it got shipped up to us,” Haise said.


Upon reentry into earth’s atmosphere, the crew was concerned their heat shield was damaged. If the heat shield didn’t function properly, the hull would burn up.

“There was nothing we could do if the heat shield was damaged,” Lovell said. “All of the other questions we’d gone over one by one, but the damaged heat shield, there was nothing that we could do. We just prepared to come in.”

For roughly three minutes entering the atmosphere, a ball of fire surrounded the hull and kept a signal from going out from the capsule and Houston’s signal from coming in.

“Jack and Fred and I looked at each other and said ‘Don’t call [Houston] because this might make a good movie,’” Lovell said.

The craft was recovered by the USS Iwo Jima six days after launch. Lovell says that although the flight was a failure, it could not have happened at a better time. 

“If you recall from Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, success looked so easy,” Lovell said. “The news was getting to be stale. The launch of Apollo 13 was registered on the weather page of the New York Times, because people weren’t interested anymore. Then suddenly, there was a resurgence of interest in space flight.”


In recent decades the trend among space exploration has turned toward international cooperation. The International Space Station (ISS) launched its first component into orbit in 1998. The station is a joint project among five space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (European Space Agency), and CSA (Canada). Ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. The American portion of the ISS is funded until 2024.

“It’s worked out pretty good from a management standpoint,” Haise said. “I hope people will now get more of a picture of not the U.S. Space Program but the Earth Space Program, to have that unity and that funding support from a multitude of countries, to really make it happen. Right now without a drastic change in what this country’s willing to fund, it’s not going to get there very fast.”

NASA was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the percentage of the federal budget allocated toward NASA has been steadily falling since the 1966 Apollo program, when the U.S. saw the federal budget briefly fund the program at 4.41 percent. Now the number sits at just under 0.5 percent.

“NASA’s hopefully going to get back into the exploration business and continue to build things that can move us further out,” Haise said. “Right now underway they have a capsule, a little bit bigger than the Apollo capsule that can carry a few more people, and they’re building a big booster. They can go out to the moon, but they really don’t have all of the ingredients to land on the moon or certainly not to go to Mars at this point.”

“It takes a lot of money, and it actually has to be a national policy and a national priority to do something like Buzz preaches to go to Mars or if you went back to the moon even and set up a base,” Lovell said, who believes we have barely scratched the surface of the moon.

“We should direct our technology for going back up to the moon, learning more about it and developing the infrastructure to be very comfortable about doing regular flights back and forth without really having the risks we fought when we did it on Apollo. We then take that and build it up to eventually go to Mars.

“We know more about Mars today than Neil Armstrong knew about the moon when he landed on it,” he said. “Mars is there, and someday, somebody is going to go there. It’s like the highest mountain to climb, somebody is going to do it, and it might as well be the United States.”