Category Archives: Uncategorized

MADD conference urges legislative changes

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently hosted a conference in Austin, gathering together major supporters with Texas State Legislators to share the findings of an annual report. The report, which focused on the effects that mandatory ignition interlock devices have on drunk drivers, showed the devices stopped nearly 350,000 unlawful attempts to start vehicles nationwide.

“We were meeting to garner support for HB 2089, SB 761, and SB 664, all of which ask for interlock devices to be part of any deferred to judication agreement that a court makes with an offender,” Ron Sylvan, MADD’s Affiliate Executive Director, said. “They would require a six month use of the interlock, and if the offender successfully meets all of the requirements of his or her court order stipulations, then the offense would be wiped from their record.

“We had a tremendous response. We rally our staff across the state. In Texas we have six affiliates, and the staff in those affiliates rally the victims in their authority. We all go down to Austin and start knocking on doors. It’s a long day, but we’re very driven by our mission. We visit every representative and every senator in the state of Texas, and we share our position on these bills and educate those legislators when needed.

“Another important piece of that legislation is if at some point after that the same offender offends again, then the second offense would be treated as a second offense,” Sylvan said. “In other words, it would enhance the offense, unlike current law, which would treat it as a first offense again.

“We know that interlock devices save lives, and we think that these are very strong bills. They are supported by defense attorneys across the state of Texas. We’re very hopeful that these bills will come to fruition and become law,” he said.

Sylvan mentioned some of the support the bills have in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives.

“The three bills mirror themselves,” Sylvan said. “James White is the sponsor of HB 2089. SB 761 is authored and sponsored by Jose Mendez; and SB 664 authored and sponsored by Don Huffines. Over the course of several weeks of conversations with a variety of people, MADD being included, district attorneys across the state, the support behind these bills is big, and we have high hopes for the bills passing.”

Even under the current law, the interlock devices have been responsible for stopping hundreds of thousands of drunk drivers.

“Here in Texas alone over the past ten years, interlocks have stopped 245,000 drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and driving,” Sylvan said. “The numbers are significantly larger than when you look at the rest of the U.S.

“I think it’s important to focus on the current law, in which a first-time offender, as long as they don’t exceed .15 BAC, can opt for deferred adjudication without an interlock. They might opt to just have their drivers’ license suspended. Data research, time and time ago, show that 50-75 percent of drunk drivers continue to drive on suspended licenses, so it doesn’t really protect the public from those offenders. Thus, the importance of these bills that are being considered right now, would make it mandatory for those offenders to have interlock devices in their cars for a period of six months.”

MADD is focusing most of its support into making the interlock devices mandatory after a drunk driving conviction.

“MADD’s number one legislative priority is to have ignition interlock devices installed for all convicted drunk drivers,” Sylvan said. “Twenty-eight states and Washington DC have all offender ignition interlock laws as we speak. Again, data shows us that they save lives. That is our number one priority. What’s important is that we’re protecting the public from these offenders going out and causing any further harm to the general public.”

Sylvan mentioned a handful of individuals in attendance at the conference who have been directly affected by drunk drivers, including one Texas resident who lost his son to a drunk driver.

“That particular day culminated with a press conference that featured the authors of all three bills, as well as a representative from AAA, one of the local district attorneys, and a victim named Gary Hoff from El Paso who shared with everyone how an offender impacted his life. He happened to have a son named Garrett who was killed by a drunk driver, and he has become a huge advocate for MADD in terms of pushing for stricter drunk driving laws,” he said.

“This is a mission unlike any other. I’ve never seen more committed volunteers associated with any organization as I’ve seen with Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” Sylvan said. “These folks have certainly been touched personally by the issue, and are huge advocates for stricter legislation across the board trying to eliminate this crime. That’s where we want the general public to focus, that these are crimes, they’re preventable crimes, and that the interlock devices are just one step in preventing these crimes from happening a second, third, or fourth time.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of these senseless crimes. It’s really rare to go any day in the Metroplex and not hear something in the news in regards to a drunk driving crash,” he said. “The people who commit these crimes make a decision to get behind the steering wheel of a car and drive in an impaired state of mind, causing huge harm to many, many people in their own communities. We constantly urge the public to get behind us, and to keep reminding our judges, our prosecutors, and our legislators that this can be prevented.”

Not-so-mobile America: What Honolulu and Detroit residents have in common

By Yuqing Pan
Realtor.com 

Whether we’re setting out across the country or just changing neighborhoods, upgrading or downsizing—movin’ on up or movin’ on out—the idea of pulling up stakes has always been a core part of the American DNA. Our willingness and eagerness to move is emblematic of our faith in the idea that we can always make a fresh start in a new home.

But actually, we don’t move as often as we used to. Figures for 2015 show that only about 12 percent of Americans swapped their address for a new one within the past year. In 1948, when the U.S. Census Bureau first collected moving data, the percentage of those who had moved within the past year was 20 percent.

We decided to take a look at the U.S. cities that have the most mobile populations—and those where people are most likely to stay in home, sweet home. To gauge which cities had the highest and which had the lowest number of residents moving to new homes—whether across the street or across the country—our data team reviewed the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. For each of the United States’ 100 largest cities, we calculated the percentage of households (both homeowners and renters) that had moved since 2010, to figure out where residents are most mobile.

Then we looked at the places where the largest percentage of households had been in the same home since 1990, to see where folks are staying put.

We found some surprising juxtapositions on our Top 10 “sticking around” list. Do Honolulu and Detroit really have so much in common? Turns out the cities were ranked high on the list for completely different reasons.

“There are two main determining factors whether people move or not,” said Nathalie Williams, a sociology professor from the University of Washington. The good: “The better people feel their lives are going, the less likely they are to move elsewhere.” The bad: Lousy economies can force people to head for greener pastures.

But of course, economic insecurity can also keep people in the same place.

After the housing bust in 2007, migration slowed down, because uncertainties about the job market made people nervous about changing jobs and deciding to move on. They were less likely to upgrade to a bigger and nicer home. Plenty even found their homes deep underwater, and were unable to sell.

Now that the recession is over, mobility is finally picking up again, says Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire. And jobs lure people, especially younger ones who haven’t put down deep roots, to new centers of employment.

So where are the folks the most and least mobile? The answers just might surprise you.

Detroit: When the going gets tough, the tough stay put

In the mid-20th century, Detroit, our least mobile city, drew thousands of workers, because it was the home of the Big Three automakers. But as the American auto industry lost market share and began to shed workers, the population dwindled. And while young people are streaming out, many longtime residents are staying put. The Census data show that 21.4 percent of Detroit families moved into their homes before 1990, the highest percentage in our study.

One reason is that owners are simply stuck in their homes.

About one in five Detroit homes is still seriously underwater, with a loan amount that is at least 25 percent higher than the property’s market value, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate information company. The median home value in Wayne County, where Detroit is located, is only $149,602, but the median loan amount is $161,965.

“If your house is upside down, you can’t move. You can abandon your house, but there’s no way to sell it,” said Eli Lehrer, president of R Street Institute, a policy research organization. He notes that people receiving government assistance typically have to reapply if they relocate to another state—and might not qualify, or have their benefits reduced.

Many Detroit residents live and shop near hulking vacant buildings that have been abandoned, overtaken by weeds, graffiti, and trash. But as the city recovers, its longtime residents are an integral part of the city’s growth, says Tahirih Ziegler, executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which promotes safe communities and affordable housing.

“Longtime residents stabilize their communities by mowing their lawns, keeping properties in good condition, investing in their homes. Overall, that’s helping the city stabilize the population,” Ziegler said.

Similar narratives of decline play out in Midwestern cities like Pittsburgh (No. 3), Cleveland (No. 6), and Toledo, OH (No. 7), after the steel industry’s downfall.

The high costs of moving often prevent the poorest folks from relocating, says retired New York University journalism professor William Serrin. Serrin wrote about the fate of a former steel town outside Pittsburgh in his book “Homestead: The Glory and Tragedy of an American Steel Town.”

“When you are 52 years old and have five kids, you don’t just move to Arizona—it’s just not in the cards,” Serrin said.

On the East Coast, Philadelphia (No. 4) and Baltimore (No. 5) are some of the country’s oldest cities. So it’s no surprise to see generations with deep ties to their metros.

Honolulu: Why ever leave?

Blue ocean waters, soft sand, mountains of Spam, and tropical weather all year round—it makes sense that people wouldn’t want to leave Honolulu, right?

But it also may come down to dollars and cents. The median list price of single-family home in this U.S. paradise is a whopping $730,000, according to realtor.com®. So while longtime homeowners stand to profit if they sell, they might not be able to afford another home in this town—or perhaps anywhere in Hawaii.

In addition, established homeowners benefit from the fact that the 50th state has, by far, the lowest property tax rates in the country.

And the unique culture of Hawaii binds people together.

Leonard Kam, 60, was born in Honolulu and runs Alicia’s Market, a general store that sells Chinese-style roast duck alongside Hawaiian poke bowls of marinated raw fish. His parents, who were originally from China, started the store in 1949 in a small wooden hut. Now Kam’s two sons help him develop new recipes. It’s a third-generation business, Kam says with pride.

“Honolulu is a small community. Everybody knows everybody, we are all family,” said his son Chris Kam. “You don’t move to the mainland unless you have to.”

New York and San Francisco: America’s meccas of the stubborn

Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. Maybe it’s because it’s so hard to find a foothold—or a decent apartment—in this town, just as it is in San Francisco (No. 9). You hang on to what you can get for as long as you can. That’s why, despite skyrocketing home prices and rents, many residents have managed to stay in their homes for decades. And low housing inventories don’t make intercity moves easy.

About 16.1 percent of New Yorkers and 15.6 percent of San Franciscans have been living in the same home since 1990, according to Census data. That’s compared with 13 percent of the population nationally. Yes, gentrification is pricing out longtime residents in some areas, especially renters. But luckily, both cities have rent control or rent stabilization, which keep some renters in their homes.

A certain amount of stubbornness helps too.

Regina Karp, 78, a retired public school teacher, has lived in a rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 47 years. Her children grew up there and left, her husband passed away, and now she’s living by herself. For two bedrooms, she pays almost $3,000 a month, which she says is her entire pension. Still, she nevertheless refuses to leave.

“This is my apartment. I was born in New York City, I’ve lived here my entire life. All my friends are here. I’m simply not going to live in the middle of a suburb in Jersey,” Karp said.

Orlando: Life beyond Shamu

Outsiders may think of Orlando as the home of Mickey Mouse and poor Shamu, but increasingly, this is the city that leads Florida in job creation. The metro added 50,300 jobs in December, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Health care is one of the fastest-growing local employment sectors: Orlando’s newest asset is a medical research park with a medical school, three major hospitals, and multiple research labs. The city even benefits from the Disney World expansion, including an “Avatar”-themed addition opening in May and a “Star Wars”-themed addition that is in the planning phase.

All this economic prosperity means that more people are moving here—and those already established may now have the means to upgrade their living situation.

“Economic development is usually glacial, but it’s been like a volcano erupting in Orlando. The development happened very rapidly,” said Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Orlando is trying out different remedies for its infamous sprawl, from bike rentals to commuter rail.

Nevada: A good place to start a business

The low cost of living and business-friendly atmosphere also makes Nevada an appealing place to call home. Reno (No. 3), the self-proclaimed “Biggest Little City in the World” has long been better known as a pauper’s version of Las Vegas. But put all that aside: The place is fast becoming a high-tech manufacturing hub. A few miles east of Reno, Tesla’s Gigafactory manufactures batteries for its electric cars.

“We have no corporate tax, no income tax, a very pro-business government,” said Mike Kazmierski, president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. That makes it easier for newcomers as well as locals to become entrepreneurs.

Big brother Las Vegas (No. 4), too, is adding people in its many master-planned communities. The high cost of living in Los Angeles and San Diego is pushing Californians to look for greener pastures—or even desert living.

Jacob Orth, a 29-year-old hospitality worker, moved to Vegas from San Jose four years ago. At the time he left, San Jose was the most expensive housing market in the country (it still is). Orth says he cut his living costs by half after the move. And he’s not alone—millennials are flocking to Vegas for its abundant entry-level jobs.

“The big secret about the Las Vegas area is that it’s a lot more family-oriented than people realize. The Strip is kind of like its own little world; once you get outside it, life is pretty normal,” said Orth, who writes about Sin City in his blog, “Jacob’s Life in Vegas.”

Texas’ population boom

It’s hard not to see the appeal of Austin (No. 5): with the booming tech scene, friendly people, great live music, and amazing barbecue, just for starters. No wonder 20-something engineers, boomer corporate hot shots, and even retirees are flocking to the place. And plenty of them live in sweet high-rise apartments that were built over the past decade.

Grandmother Susi Spies moved to Austin two years ago, to be close to her children and their families.

“My children asked me to babysit for them, but I’m too busy having fun [with] food trucks, hiking trails, bat-watching cruises,” said Spies, president of Austin Newcomers, an association that connects new residents with one another and to their new neighborhoods. “It’s an amazing city.”

Texas’ population boom is no secret, but few cities add people as fast as Irving (No. 2), a suburb of Dallas. Home to ExxonMobil, and surrounded by corporation headquarters, like those of AT&T and J.C. Penney, the city’s flourishing job market is powering its exponential growth.

Fast turnover in college towns

Some of America’s most transient cities are college towns. In addition to Austin, there are Irvine, CA (No. 7), Madison, WI (No. 8), and Durham, NC (No. 9). For obvious reasons, incoming students and departing graduates help raise the turnover figures as they move back home or to different parts of the country to start careers.

“College towns are more transient, because new students come every year, and four years later, they are out,” says Realtor Alex Saloutos of First Weber Realtors in Madison. Plus, they tend to move around quite a bit during their tenure. “Students don’t buy homes, they rent.”

This article “Not-so-mobile America: What Honolulu and Detroit residents have in common” appeared first on Real Estate News and Advice from realtor.com.

Local Events

Martin Luther King Jr. Observance

January 15, 6:00 p.m.

The City of Irving will celebrate the life and triumphs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The annual observance of the humanitarian and civil rights leader’s legacy will feature a radio show tribute including the news, pop culture, politics, sports and history of the 1960s. Hosted by CBS Sports Radio Talk Show Host Chris Arnold, the event will present a compilation of audio, video and live performances from leading vocal and performing artists at the Irving Arts Center. Admission and parking are free.


Five Women Wearing The Same Dress

January 20 – February 4

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas continues its 2016-17 Razzle Dazzle season with the female-fueled play, FIVE WOMEN WEARING THE SAME DRESS. The production opens at the Irving Arts Center’s Dupree Theater (3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving, TX 75062). All evening performances are at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Single tickets range from $21-28. Ticket discounts are available for seniors and students.

During a lavish wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, determined to avoid the festivities below at all costs. Though their dresses match, their personalities are vastly different. As the afternoon wears on, these five unique women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, and touching celebration of female friendship. From the eclectic comedic mind of Alan Ball who authored American Beauty, and HBO’s “True Blood” and “Six Feet Under.” Watch out flower girls…here come the bridesmaids!

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the Irving Arts Center’s Box Office at 972.252.2787 or by ordering tickets online at www.irvingartscenter.com.

Irving ISD celebrates 30 years of partnerships

Photo: Dr. Jose Parra shares his thanks for the many contributions made by IISD Partners in Education. /Photo by Courtney Ouellette

An evening of praise and appreciation was hosted by Irving ISD’s Partners in Education in honor of the program’s 30th year on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Presented in the Irving ISD Administration Building’s atrium, the reception and ceremony recognized local businesses that dedicate time and money to Irving schools.

“We are just so honored to be here tonight, but even more, so grateful for all of the ways that you partner with our schools,” Leslie Weaver, Irving ISD director of communications said.

“We know that your partnership helps bring activities to our students, to make sure that they’re achieving at their maximum potential. You provide wonderful incentives for our teachers. You come together with our schools to make Irving a great community,” she said.

Weaver also recognized the contributions of students to the evening’s atmosphere, including the Nimitz High School culinary students who provided anniversary cupcakes for the event, art students whose work was displayed around the atrium, and the Nimitz students responsible for creating the floral arrangements.

In addition to thanking the current ISD partners, Randy Randle, president of the board of trustees, recognized his fellow board members for their dedication to the schools.

“It’s really an honor to represent our school board,” Randle said. “We have a fantastic board of trustees that is focused on students, parents and teachers. It’s really a team effort. As a volunteer board member, we contribute our time, not for recognition or credit. Like you, our partners in education, we get involved because we care about student achievement; we care about our kids living a productive life after they leave our campuses. That drives us to serve, and I know that drives you to volunteer your time and resources, and we greatly appreciate it.”

Randle takes his dedication to the district one step further.

“In addition to serving on the board, my family is also involved with Bowie Middle School. We’ve been doing stuff with Bowie for a while and officially became a partner last week,” Randle said.

“We provide cutting boards that administrators use to give out to teachers for gifts as door prizes, incentives, whatever. We also help contribute to a rolling cart of snacks that are for teachers’ rooms, just for a nice little break for them during the day.

“It’s a very small way that we can give back. But from what I understand, the teachers really appreciate it. We’re going to continue to grow that partnership, and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

The Irving ISD’s Partners in Education program began in 1986 and has grown and evolved over the decades. It currently boasts over 220 partners.

“Participation of the business community in our schools is welcome and necessary for healthy school climate. As a result, this program provides students the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of key people in the community,” said a note written by former superintendent Jack Singley.

The district’s current superintendent, Dr. Joes Parra, outlined some of the measurable impact the 200 plus partners made last year.

“Businesses large and small, faith based groups, community organizations working hand in hand with us at Irving ISD to offer students the best education possible,” Parra said.

“Irving ISD is fortunate to be part of a city that is dynamic and has a heart for service. Partners contribute more than 8,000 volunteer hours at our schools annually. The impact our partners make in our district equates to more than $210,000. It’s phenomenal,” he said.

Looking forward to future growth and success, Thelma Cantu, the partnerships in education coordinator, summed up the district’s appreciation.

“Thirty years of partnerships, isn’t that incredible? The partnership program began with a handful of partners in 1986 and has grown significantly over the last three decades,” Cantu said. “We appreciate the decades of service that your companies and groups have given tirelessly to our students, our teachers and our schools, and look forward to many more years of productive collaboration to come.”

Did Barbie Jeep Girl Just Ruin Her Life? Yes, Yes She Did…

barbiegirl
Photo: @GratefulRaver / Twitter

She’s a Barbie girl, living in a cruel, cruel Barbie world.

Texas State college student Tara Monroe may have just made the mistake of a lifetime. And no, we don’t mean the DUI that got her license suspended and her car revoked by daddy. The 20-year-old student became a viral news story and unlikely antihero this week because of photos showing her driving around campus in a toy car made for children.

Monroe lost her license after getting pulled over on her way home from a Waka Flocka concert. While drivers can get a DUI for a blood alcohol concentration above .08, Monroe refused to take a breathalyzer, resulting in an automatic license suspension. That’s when her dad came to take her car away, replacing it with a bike.

Riding a bike around campus sucks,” said the industrial engineering student. “Like really sucks.”

So Monroe bought a tiny pink Barbie Jeep on Craigslist, and now cruises around campus at five miles per hour. Confused bystanders eagerly shared pictures of her new ride on Instagram and Snapchat, and eventually Monroe gave an interview to the San Antonio Express-News. And that might have been an even bigger mistake than the DUI, even if she doesn’t realize it yet.

“This is the best way I could have gotten my 15 minutes of fame,” Monroe said. “Basically, it was the best decision I’ve made in college, yet.”

Unfortunately for Monroe, the Internet never forgets, and those 15 minutes of fame are likely to follow her for the rest of her life. That means when she graduates and goes to apply for engineering jobs, prospective employers will still be able to read her quotes online — quotes such as “I do stuff like this all the time.”

According to her recent interviews, Monroe is enjoying her viral notoriety, at least for now. She plans to arrive to her 21st birthday party in her signature pink car. And what does her dad think of his daughter’s college shenanigans?

“I don’t think she anticipated the publicity that would come from it,” her dad said. “But I’ve told her, I said, ‘Use this to be an example for other people not to make the same mistake so they won’t be where you are.'”

After Offering to Torch Confederate Paraphernalia, Food Truck Owner’s Business Set Ablaze

confederateflagWhen former stand-up comedian Rob Jenkins decided to get in on the food truck craze, he didn’t think he’d one day become the target of possible arson for doing what he believed to be the right thing.

After years of traveling across the country, Jenkins decided to settle down in Odessa, TX and use $40,000 of his savings to buy a food truck. After all, food trucks have been estimated to be on track to become a $2.7 billion national industry by 2017. Why not seize a lucrative opportunity, and offer West Texas some good gumbo, catfish po’ boys, and blackened alligator? And so last April, Jenkins got PoBoy’s and Rich Chic’s Cajun Kitchen up and running.

Jenkins, a liberal in a conservative area, knew that politics could have possibly gotten in the way of business, but it didn’t. That is, until a white supremacist assaulted Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and took nine lives.

When many stores began taking Confederate flag paraphernalia off of their shelves in response, Jenkins offered Odessa the opportunity to trade in Confederate items for free meals. Then, he went one step further — he told them that he’d pile all the Confederate items together, and torch it all.

This did not go over well.

“We got a lot of hate mail with a lot of people saying ‘Burn the truck down,'” Jenkins told the Washington Post.
In an attempt to ameliorate the situation, Jenkins announced that he’d donate some of the things he’d received, such as Confederate money and a book of Confederate soldiers’ stories, to a Dallas museum, but it didn’t help much. “Maybe could have the Scimitars and Cossacks [biker gang] pay you a visit you sniveling snake,” wrote a Facebook user with a confederate flag profile picture on the PoBoy’s Facebook page.

“Why don’t all these ‘I’m offended’ people just get into that truck and well light it on fire,” wrote another user. “Problem solved.”
As idle the threats may have seemed, it wasn’t all big talk. On July 29, someone did set the food truck on fire.

“They burnt my business like they said they would,” said Jenkins. “My family is left with nothing.”

Although Jenkins read the writing on the wall and suspected arson, authorities were unconvinced.

“The fire marshal said it was started in the engine and he ruled out arson because we had locked the doors on the truck,” said Jenkins said, who admitted that while there was a gas can for the generator inside the truck in the area of ignition, there couldn’t have been a reason for a locked, unoccupied truck to have burst into flames in the middle of the night.

“It’s really odd to me that at 1 a.m. in the morning a fire would start in a parked truck,” he said. “And it’s really odd for a fire like that to happen mysteriously the way that we had been threatened.”
Worse, Jenkins had no insurance on the truck, because it was simply too expensive.

“We have to start all over again from scratch,” said Jenkins.

Fortunately, the community came together to help Jenkins out, regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed with him. Owner of rival food truck Midnight Munchies, Kimberly Vandiver, set up a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised over $7,000. Others helped Jenkins and his wife salvage appliances from the scorched, ruined hulk of their former food truck. Best of all, a local pastor sold Jenkins a new truck for next to nothing.

“I’m not religious but people keep telling me that they are saying prayers for us,” said Jenkins, who stands by his actions and words unapologetically. “That’s pretty much what has brought my spirits up.”

Council approves alcohol sales variance for Big State

As many may remember, there was an outpouring of opposition against the council granting a zoning variance allowing alcohol sales for the Texas Musician’s Museum, scheduled to open next year.

So during the Irving City Council meeting Nov. 13, it came as a bit of a shock to some – including owners Rick and Susan Fairless – that the same request made by Big State Fountain Grill went over without a hitch.

Not a single individual stood to speak against the request, leaving the decision solely to council, which voted quickly and without comment to approve the business’ request to sell alcohol in the Heritage District in an 8-1 vote.

In fact, several members of the community responded to the original notice of a potential zoning change by letter in favor of the request being approved.

“If we allow alcohol sales, more businesses will be interested in moving downtown,” Irving resident Kelly Warms wrote on the reply form.

Aside from Warms’ response, four other letters were received in favor of the request.
Only one Heritage District entity responded in opposition via letter.

“Much has been advertised about [Big State] being a 50s fountain/grill for family, etc.,” a letter from the Baptist Benevolent Ministries of Irving stated. “Fifties fountains/grills did not serve alcohol.

“We are concerned about the element this facility, or future ones, may bring given a change.

“This location is also in close proximity to local churches and within a mile of a local AA chapter.”

If all goes well with the TABC licensing, south Irving residents may be able to have a beer with their burger earlier than expected in the heart of Irving.

Navy Cross recipient speaks at Irving High’s USMC JROTC Military Ball

The Irving High School Marine Corps JROTC program celebrated its 20th annual Military Ball at DFW Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 1. The exquisite evening featured the award-winning JROTC color-guard, a cake-cutting ceremony, dinner, dancing and distinguished guest speaker, Samuel L. Felton.

“Tonight is a very special night. It’s not often you have a chance to meet a recipient of the Navy Cross, our country’s second highest award,” said Lt. Col. Chris Fears, Senior Marine Instructor.

“[Felton] was in Vietnam about the same time my father was, and they actually stomped some of the same ground at the same time. He was the 1st battalion 5th Marines, and my dad was right next to him in 7th Marines. It’s a rare opportunity to meet somebody like this.”

Felton is a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest military decoration for valor that may be awarded to a member of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps or U.S. Coast Guard for extraordinary heroism in combat.

“I’m extremely proud and humbled to be amongst you tonight,” Felton said. “I’d like to salute all members of the armed forces because throughout America’s story in history, you’ve had people and individuals of all walks of life, all races and ethnicities, answer the call to defend this great nation in the cause of freedom. Whenever there is a conflict around the world, each and every member of our armed forces has done so. My heart, my spirit and every fiber of my being is with that Eagle, Globe and Anchor. To those of you who have served, in any capacity, never down play or excuse your service.”

The students listened intently as Felton continued.

“He who bleeds for me shall be my brother. All around the world, America is criticized from time to time because of our ideals and beliefs, but I think it’s because of our freedoms,” he said. “There are a lot of people from countries around the world that use the term ‘Marines’. There is only one that starts with ‘US’ and ends with ‘MC’: United States Marine Corps. There is nothing equal to it on the face of this earth, as far as I’m concerned. For me, in Vietnam, I witnessed numerous acts of heroism and bravery that are stamped in my mind.”
While speaking with students, Felton told a story about one night in Vietnam, which he had never before shared publicly.

“On the night of June 11, 1969, we became engaged in a battle with an enemy force of well in excess of 100 NVA [North Vietnam Army] soldiers. The NVA soldiers were just as well equipped and just as dedicated and willing to give their lives for what they believed. At three o’clock in the morning, I was [given] the task to send my [three] fire team members out as a listening post,” Felton said.

“I was only 18, and I was a fire team leader. As we were engaged in battle, it was as if the earth itself opened up. Everybody was firing and fighting. It comes over the command center [radio] that the three men [I had sent] were pinned down. We were losing men, and there was no way we could risk any more casualties.

“I gave it thought (not too much) and decided it was my turn to do what I could to help save them. Through knee deep mud, I made my way out to them. [The first] was at the base of the tree in a makeshift fox hole and his guts were hanging out. I had to take my canteen out to put water on his intestines and put them back inside of him. The other two were blind and were hit by ammo and shrapnel, so I did the best I could to try to administer first aid and help [them] back to the safety of our lines. On the way back to the lines, three enemy soldiers stopped my progress and stood in front of me. They shot me and the good Lord gave me the strength to carry on. I killed all three of them and made it back to the line to save my men.

“On that same night, another member of the 5th Marines, dove on a hand grenade and gave his life to save other Marines. Our cook was awarded a Silver Star, because he fought hand-to-hand to kill two enemy soldiers who tried to penetrate our command center,” Felton said. “What I’m saying to you is, in the history of the Marine Corps, acts like this are uncommon, but yet they are common, because for those of us who aspire to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor and for those of us who have worn it, we have a proud tradition that we have to maintain.”

Felton currently serves veterans and youth of Lorain County. He created the Samuel L. Felton, Jr. Community Development Program Inc. and A&S Semper Fi Cleaning LLC to mentor at-risk and underprivileged Youth.

The Irving High School JROTC program and KIRV Broadcast students recently partnered to create the Irving High School Freedom Radio Station, which is operated by Irving’s JROTC cadets. To listen, tune into KIFR AM 1690.

Photo: The Irving High School JROTC Color Guard marches the Flags after the presentation of the Color’s and the National Anthem at this year’s Military Ball / Photo by Nick Kammerer