One Act Play inspires youngsters to perform

The Irving Park’s Recreation Centers continued a time honored tradition by inviting friends and family members to attend the 53rd annual One Act Play Competition, which was presented at the MacArthur High School auditorium on Friday evening, July 21.

During the event, young actors and actresses from six recreations centers performed on stage in front of an audience while demonstrating their acting, singing, and dancing abilities. Students from the ages of seven to seventeen practiced twice a week during the summer and prepared plays encompassing a variety of genres, from fantasy to drama to Dr. Seuss.

Karlie Ulloa acted in “Daisy-Head Mayzie” produced by Lee Park Recreation Center.

“We practiced an hour and a half for twice a week,” Ulloa said. “There are also a lot of kids, so it’s really fun to interact with them. When you think about it, it’s like a big family with all of the cast and directors included.”

The five judges scored each performance on presentation, delivery of lines and clarity of story, correct speed and length, and originality.

The 2017 One Act Play Competition winners are as follows:

Best Play – Snow White Lite by Northwest Park Recreation Center

Runner-Up Best Play – Bonding by Senter Park Recreation Center

Best Actor – Silas Whitworth from Senter Park Recreation Center, Play: Bonding

Runner-Up Best Actor – Vgom Jain from Mustang Park Recreation Center, Play:  When Two Superhero Universes Collide

Best Actress – Regina Lubbers-Reyes from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Runner-Up Best Actress – Helja Estrado from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite

Honorable Mentions:
Danielle Jackson from Georgia Farrow Recreation Center, Play: Guest in the Barracks

Angel Franco from Northwest Park Recreation Center, Play: Snow White Lite.

Summer Games provide friendly competition

 

The tennis courts at Irving High School were filled with children early Monday morning, July 24, to kick off the first week of the annual City of Irving Parks and Recreation Summer Games. The two week competition features a variety of challenges including softball, chess and dodgeball for people ages 11-17. Challengers are separated into two groups: youths (11-14) and teens (15-17). The top three winners from each age group receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal.

“Some kids will start to collect medals for every event they’re in, and they wear them all week long for whichever event they won,” Della Jones, a Senior Recreation Specialist at Lee Park Recreation Center said. “We really want the kids to communicate and socialize with other kids, but the main thing is to keep them very active in the summer and to keep them coming to the rec center. Once they get to a certain age, they think they’re too old for the rec center, and we want to make sure they keep coming back to us.”

All seven recreational centers in Irving were represented, as participants began training at the beginning of the summer for each game they signed up for.

“We practiced every week from 4-5 and 5-6,” Joshua Buckett, a Lee Park participant, said. “We practiced everything that we play in the summer games like volleyball, basketball, and dodgeball during the week. The summer games are a lot of fun, and the practice really helps prepare you for the actual tournament.”

Buckett has participated in the summer games for the past three years and has won medals in dodgeball, football and volleyball. This year, Buckett decided to try a new sport.

“This is my first year playing tennis. I didn’t know I was going to be this good,” Buckett said. “I wanted to try something new just to compete with other kids, and it sounded like fun.”

Day one of the summer games began with a tennis tournament with over 20 participants. Each player was guaranteed two rounds of play.

“We did not expect this many kids for tennis,” Jones said. “This is the biggest turnout we’ve had and have a lot of kids return each year. Some of the teens, once they get to a certain age, start working so they can’t participate and play like they used to. It’s mostly youths who are returning players.”

The games continued with dominoes and chess in the afternoon at Lively Pointe.

Mustang participant Tharun Sobanbabu (13) was one of the few tennis players that went on to pla chess. 

“I liked tennis because it was more active,” Sobanbabu said. “It was also the hardest, because there wasn’t a lot of competition for chess like there was for tennis.

“I don’t really like just staying at home. I wanted to do something with my summer and I like sports. I’m good at sports, so I wanted to do the summer games.”

Sobanbabu placed second in youth tennis and first in chess. He is signed up to participate in every single sporting event except dominoes.

“It was a lot of fun because everyone got together to play sports, and there was a lot of good people showing good sportsmanship,” Sobanbabu said. “I would love to come and play again next year.”

“Human Library” comes alive at West Irving Library

Library patrons had a unique opportunity to ‘borrow’ people during the “Human Library” presented at the West Irving Library on Saturday, July 22.

The Human Library project invited individuals to ‘check out’ real people from various ethnic, social, and marginalized communities, and ask them questions. The project has featured a wide variety of humans, from sexual abuse and traumas survivors to Muslims and transgendered individuals, all with the purpose of educating the community and helping to dispel harmful stereotypes surrounding those groups.

The event was held as part of the library’s city-wide Summer Reading Challenge and this year’s theme was “Build a Better World.”

“The Human Library was started in Denmark and it’s designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudice by talking to people who have dealt with them,” said Linda Opella, librarian at West Irving Library. “Everyone has a story to tell, and this is just a way for them to tell their story to other people and other people can say, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting. I never thought about it that way,’ or ‘I never looked at it that way.’ Hopefully, it can challenge stereotypes and prejudices and change minds.”

This was the first Human Library event held at the West Irving Library and featured three local individuals. Sylvia Nordeman, a communication specialist for the library, was one of the storytellers at the event. Nordeman suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to her son, all within a span of two years. She wanted to share her story to help people understand what it is really like to go through a miscarriage and how they can help those who have experienced it.

“When I had my miscarriage, I felt like there were so many things that people didn’t understand about it,” Nordeman said. “People were very reluctant to talk about it. People just wanted to sweep it under the rug. I thought it would be so much better if we could have an open conversation about it.”

Patrick Booth, a drug addiction counselor from Lewisville, Texas, walked away from his job in the corporate world to travel the world as a missionary. Booth has visited 11 different Latin American countries and has written a book about his adventures titled The Long Road Home.

“When I sold my business and went out into the mission field for a year visiting those 11 different countries, I was blogging. At the end of it, I just felt that this story was bigger than me,” Booth said. “I put it down into a book specifically so I could share it. I want to continue to share it because my story is really beyond me.”

Susan Sullivan, a web designer who currently lives in Argyle, Texas, walked away from the corporate world to start a farm where she raises chickens and bees. Through her story, Sullivan hopes people will gain more interest in learning where their food comes from.

“I like telling my story because I like to talk to people about the food they eat, where it comes from, teach people that you can eat food that’s ethical and sustainable, and that animals don’t really need to suffer,” she said.

Although the stories were different, all three participates learned others were just as happy to share their own stories.

“It was really nice to be able to hear not just their interest in my story, but also hear how it connects to their individual stories,” Booth said. “I really feel like everyone has a story that they can share, so it was nice to be able to hear their inspiration and be inspired by them as well as to share my story and let them be inspired by me.”

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.”

Atos opens state-of-the-art facility

Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, opened a new regional headquarters in Irving with a ribbon cutting event on Tuesday, July 18. The 800,000 square foot facility featured the company’s first North American Business Technology and Innovation Center, which will allow customers to have hands on experiences with their latest innovations.

“This new building in Dallas is a natural progression of our trajectory in the United States,” said Michel-Alain Proch, Senior Executive Vice President of North American Operations of Atos. “By providing the latest technology to our employees, we want to empower them to achieve firsts in the industry for our customers. To accelerate our expansion, we will continue to recruit top talent in the region.”

Atos works across 72 countries and is one of the largest IT service providers in Europe. Their expansion into North America comes on the heels of a string of strategic acquisitions including signing a contract to provide infrastructure and data center services to National-Bank in Germany and teaming up with Dell EMC Cloud to launch Atos Canopy Orchestrated Hybrid Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack.

“We have a large employee base here based on all of the acquisitions that were centralized,” said Lacey Hautzinger, the company’s senior director of marketing communications. “Why do many companies come to Dallas: it’s the central location, it’s the airport, and the ease of getting clients in and out. We have many North American customers, and we really wanted to put our footprint here in Irving.”

The facility contains a cafeteria, which features locally produced foods, and a game room.

“This is where we want to bring most of our customers in North America,” Hautzinger said. “We can show them what we are able to do, and show them our innovations, and come up with creative ideas.”

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer expressed his enthusiasm for the new headquarters.

“Atos is a significant addition to Irving’s roster of leading national and international corporations,” Stopfer said. “Not only has Atos chosen a stunning new facility, the company will contribute a tremendous depth of experience, opportunity, and leadership to our city. We are proud Atos chose Irving as its North American Regional Headquarters, and we welcome this exceptionally innovative technology company and its employees to their new Irving home.”

Stopfer and Michel-Alain Proch, Atos Group’s Senior Executive Vice President and CEO North America, both shared the honor of cutting the ribbon. Proch believes the prosperity of the 650 employees depends on a suitable workplace.

“It’s important to not only have a place but to work, but also to play, and that is really the success of an enterprise,” he said.

Chad Harris, president of Atos North American Operations, is proud their business technology solutions company is coming to North America.

“It’s important because it represents the center of innovation, not just because as us for employees and what we do to create solutions for our customers, but it also represents the center of innovation for Fortune 500,” he said. “These companies allow CEOs to come into Irving and imagine a future for their business. It’s not only important for us as a provider, but for the city, and we do this with great pride.”

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.


Auditions
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 www.lascolinassymphony.org/lsyo. 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.

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.

REENTRY INTO EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE

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.”

FUTURE OF NASA

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.”

Electronics store catches fire in Irving Mall

 

Firefighters were dispatched on Monday evening, July 24, to a two-alarm fire at Irving Mall.

The alert initially came into the Irving Fire Department (IFD) at 9:17 p.m. as a smoke investigation. As soon as firefighters arrived to the mall, located at North Belt Line Road and State Highway 183, they noticed thick clouds of smoke and called for a larger response.

The smoke originated in an Xspress Electronics storage room. Firefighters initially had a difficult time locating the fire because of reduced visibility caused by smoke.

“If we see a lot of fire, in a sense it’s easy,” said Jack Taylor, Assistant Chief of Operations for the Irving Fire Department. “We know right where to go, we know how to attack it, it’s visible, and you know what you’re working with. The more difficult ones are the ones where you have a lot of smoke. If you have a lot of smoke and it’s really charged and thick, you can’t see your hand in front of your face. There’s a seat of the fire somewhere, so it’s very anxious trying to find where that is before it advances and gets out of control.”

According to Taylor, in smoke heavy situations where it is hard to see flames, firefighters feel around for heat to know if they are heading in the right direction. At the Irving Mall, however, firefighters did not register a change in temperature and felt the entire room was warm.

“The sprinklers that had gone off actually kept the smoke there and didn’t let it dissipate,” Taylor said. “It stayed there like a cloud and made it a take longer to find where the fire had started. By the time we got there, it was a relatively small fire. The sprinklers did a really good job and kept it at bay.”

A second alarm was activated to have fire staff on hand help evacuate the mall, which included mostly store employees and AMC theater patrons. According to Taylor, the second alarm was more of a precautionary measure because of the size of the mall, the number of employees and customers still inside, and the poor visibility caused by the thick smoke.

IFD has a set amount of equipment they send on an initial structure fire for a first alarm. Depending on the structure or how big the fire is, the commander on the scene will call for a second alarm, which brings double the equipment and manpower. Four alarms is the biggest call that can be made in Irving.

Should IFD ever run out of resources to battle a fire, they can call on neighboring cities for support. Mutual aid agreements with other Dallas County fire departments allows neighboring cities to assist one another when large or multiple emergencies exceed a city’s capacity. The cities share a master list of all of the equipment each department has available.

At Monday’s Irving Mall fire, the DFW Airport and Dallas Fire-Rescue were called to bring truck-mounted ventilation fans. These big fans push a high volume of air to help clear smoke from large structures.

The fire was officially under control at 10:20 p.m. and no injuries were reported. In total, 18 pieces of equipment were used from IFD, two from DFW Airport, and one from Dallas Fire-Rescue. The fire was contained to the storage room, and investigators are still determining the cause.

According to Taylor, a number of 911 calls were made early enough into the incident that helped minimize damage. His team regularly sees people stopping to take a picture or film an incident rather than calling 911, and recalled an extreme situation at an apartment complex fire in Irving a few months ago.

“A lot of people there expected everybody else was calling it in,” he said. “Nobody did, and the fire was very advanced before we were ever called. We always try to push the urgency, to let people know to call 911 first, and then film it if you want to.

“In this day of social media, people are quick to pick up their phones and start filming something and not think about calling 911. I’m always reminding people to make sure 911 is called first. Several people did call in [about Irving Mall] so that’s always a good sign.”

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