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April 25th, 2013 under West Texas Talk

Five years ago, as a newly commissioned Texas Game Warden, I drove my family to Marfa for the first time upon being assigned to Presidio County. Before becoming a Game Warden, I served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Mississippi, California, and Wyoming. I can definitely say that Marfa is the most welcoming and friendly community in which we have lived. Through my job with the state and my wife’s job at Marfa ISD, we have become connected with many families and individuals throughout the community.

I recently received a transfer to a different region of Texas where I will have the opportunity to gain new experiences while working the lakes and waterways of Central Texas. My wife has also received an opportunity to work as a private counselor in a position that will give her the ability to do what she loves by assisting children and their families. Although we will be leaving Marfa soon, we will never forget the town that welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like part of the community within our first few months here.

I am thankful for the opportunity I was given to serve on the Marfa ISD School Board. I think that a continued course of careful planning will lead to great opportunities and endeavors within Marfa ISD which will greatly benefit the kids in a way we can not yet imagine. As a family, we wish God’s blessings upon this community and our friends whom we will dearly miss.

Sincerely,

Zach Moerge

and the Moerbe Family

Marfa

* * *

I picked up a copy of your paper for the first time in a long time. I’ve got to admit, you’re doing some good work; great articles on the Big Bend, Sul Ross, local schools, etc. But what I enjoyed most were the letters to the editor. Now there’s some real stuff; view points from the left, right, and who knows where.

Don Cadden and Lee Scarborough seem to be having a bit a P N match. It appears that Don is replying to Lee’s reply of Don’s previous writing (that is what I call a P N match).

I couldn’t find the article but I would bet Lee favored a little more caution be administered on the sale and ownership of guns and possibly was quite vocal that he sees no real evidence of the government attempting to confiscate our firearms.

Don really takes him to task on his failure to properly document his assertions.

Don goes on to furnish inflammatory anti-gun statements on virtually everyone from Janet Reno to Michael Dukakis: “I am going to do everything I can to disarm the state.” “The prohibition of firearms is the goal.” “If I had my way, sporting guns would be strictly regulated, the rest would be confiscated.” The list goes on and on.

Don further admonishes Lee for not properly researching. P N match, big time.

In the interest of fair play, I undertook the job of researching the many examples laid out by Mr. Cadden. I have yet to find any of those quotes that were not taken totally out of context or that were not found on an obviously biased blog site. So much for fair and honest research.

Was I shocked ? Absolutely not! After all, I have done similar research on claims that “illegals get free health care, it says it on page 50.” “On page 117, Obama says he will stand with the Muslims,” and “Obama is spending $200 million per day on his trip to India,” to name a vey few.

Back to the gun thing; here is what I know for sure: I personally own 23 guns. Some I have had for more than 50 years.  I have never, in any way, been asked to surrender any one of them even for a second. I firmly believe in this country and in the Second Amendment. If push came to shove, I have no doubt that I would give my life to protect that freedom.

On the other hand, I hope to always temper my actions with common sense.  I feel secure in the fact that among those firearms I own, there is not one assault weapon. That’s not a problem for me.

My neighbor, however, does own such a weapon. He claims it is his right, you know, under the Second Amendment.  I suppose I, kinda, sorta, in a way, understand his point of view. But then, how far does that right go? Can he add a grenade launcher to that weapon? How about a tiny little nuke on the end? Is that still his right? You gettin’ my drift?

As for Lee and Don, hang in there, do your research.

Randy Jackson

Alpine

www.rjshowbiz.com

* * *

Last week, the U.S. Senate rejected a bill that, if passed into law, would implement expanded gun background checks. This reminded me of the letter Lee Scarborough wrote in last week’s paper. Lee references a seeming paranoia circulating primarily among the Radical Right that the government is attempting to circumscribe our civil liberties, with the right to bear arms at the very top of the list. While I do not agree that this is a fear solely among the Far Right, I do agree that it is an odd sort of paranoia that confounds me.

How can a reasonable person support extreme identification verification measures at border checkpoints (e.g. demanding U.S. citizens provide a detailed narrative of their trip, all but requiring them to provide a blood and hair sample) that are nearly sixty miles from the actual border, but refuse to support similar extreme measures to prevent unstable or criminally minded people from obtaining assault rifles and high capacity magazines?

The mass homicide of children in Newton, Connecticut is only one of many demoralizing tragedies caused by gun violence, and it is only one of the most recent. Closer to home are the gun murders of Texas state prosecutors; although they weren’t mass killings, they can and should be classified as rage killings.

Yet and still, Congress refuses to pass any legislation that requires potential gun owners to undergo extensive scrutiny. Yet and still, many well-meaning citizens would rather enhance law enforcement’s presence in our schools and on our streets than limit gun buyers’ access to high capacity magazines and military-grade rifles that are made for one thing only: ripping a body apart. These tend to be the same citizens who complain about the size of government and overspending. Nothing is more costly or leads to government expansion more than developing militarized zones or investigating, hunting, prosecuting, and incarcerating perpetrators of gun violence.

So if we were to take the moral question off the table and forget about contemporary gun owners’ actually “needs,” and make it purely a matter of economics or fiscal accountability, something equally as important to Republicans, then proof that we need more gun control lies in all the cases of gun violence currently being investigated and tried across the country. The list is far too long for this letter, but we know they have a high price tag that is worth sacrificing aspects of the Second Amendment to reduce. But as far as I’m concerned, the moral question and the disproportionate concern for some aspects of public safety and national security (border surveillance) above others (domestic terrorism committed by mass killers like the Columbine, Aurora, and Newton shooters) cannot be ignored. They should inspire us to flood our Congressional representatives with phone calls and letters asking them to vote yes on gun control, or at the very least asking them to pass legislation requiring ammunitions manufacturers to charge exorbitant prices for bullets. At $500 a shot, I’m sure even the most determined killers would sleep on it.

Thanks as always,

crystal am nelson

Marfa

* * *

Several years ago Congress told the Federal Aviation Administration [ FAA] to work out plans for airspace use taking account of increased drone use. Some of you may know of a proposal, The Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems initiative], to locate a test site for drones [called UAS] at the Alpine airport.  The proposal, prepared at Texas A & M University at Corpus Christi, has been discussed with the Alpine Airport Advisory Board.

Documents at City Hall are:  Summary of the proposal, a map of the area [not clear on the source or the use or relevance to the proposal], two maps of air traffic—Texas and the United States—and a power point program in written text from the office of Governor Rick Perry listing the financial benefits to the state. Eventually the FAA will choose six states from the many competing for the programs. Funding   would be provided by the states chosen.

I urge the Alpine Airport Advisory Board and/or the Alpine City Council to have a website for those documents and others that may be germane. I urge a public meeting or hearing be provided for presentation and questions from the audience. And I urge those services to be offered in a timely manner.

Questions arise about the impact on the area residents, public land, private property and the environment as well as on safety and privacy. Public concerns should be considered before the decision is made to approve or reject the proposal.  One wonders also about impact, if any, upon Border Patrol activities and finally what happens when the test is completed

In conclusion, I thank The Big Bend Sentinel for its excellent article that broke the story publically.

Sincerely,

Fran Sage

Alpine

* * *

I appreciate the opportunity to clarify matters raised in a story about the Lone Star UAS Initiative by Alberto Tomas Halpern in the April 18 edition of The Big Bend Sentinel.

I represent a team of 17 public- and private-sector institutions and companies that has been developing a proposal on behalf of the State of Texas in response to a solicitation released in February by the Federal Aviation Administration for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites. We are supported in this effort by Governor Rick Perry, who recognizes the growth potential and economic value of this sector of the aviation industry; the Texas A&M University System, and dozens of private-sector UAS-related companies throughout the state.

Our efforts have been transparent. We are in a highly competitive environment, so competition-sensitive details of our plans will be kept under wraps until all submissions to the FAA are complete. Our general plan, however, is no secret. We have a Web site – http://sites.tdl.org/lsuasi/ — and we have been promoting this effort among academic and research institutions, state government agencies, UAS industry groups and the Legislature.

The Lone Star UAS Test Site has no plans to lease Alpine-Casparis Airport – let alone close it to public use – but only to secure hangar space to support our research efforts and to serve our clients and customers. We also want to use the Alpine airport as a launch and recovery site for UAS flight operations, which does not require airport managers to give up any control of the facility. We just want to share it with other aircraft operators. It is unlikely that UAS operations at ACA will disrupt regular flight operations; moreover, our operations will be overseen by the government’s most safety-conscious agency, the FAA.

Our aircraft must operate at altitudes no less than 300 feet, according to an agreement we have with the National Park Service; in fact, however, UAS research operations in the proposed Big Bend regional airspace will be at much greater altitudes (more than 9,000 feet), so high that they will be virtually unseen and unheard.

FAA requires that test sites assure that UAS operations compromise neither the environment nor wildlife, including migratory birds. One of the FAA-required research goals of the Lone Star UAS Test Site is to establish whether UAS operations endanger the environment.

Our team’s flight-safety record is immaculate; moreover, FAA has kept everyone in the UAS sector of the aviation industry on a very short leash and will continue to do so until the agency is assured that it is safe to operate UAS in the national airspace. That doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen; it does mean, however, that the Lone Star UAS Team knows its business when it comes to aviation safety. Our airspace safety plan is robust and informed by former FAA executives’ decades of air-traffic-control experience.

The Lone Star UAS Team welcomes public interest in and discussion of the proposed test site, especially the proposed range over the Big Bend region. Our plans include a community-outreach team that will visit Alpine in the near future. We have assured the FAA that we will work with communities to address their concerns while exploring the means, methods and benefits of integrating UAS into the national airspace.

Ronald E. George

Senior Research Development Officer

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for the State of Texas

& the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation

* * *

I thank the Big Bend community for supporting the Alpine Agate Festival this year.

It was a great turn out, and all our vendors went away happy, and are looking forward to next year’s show.

I thank the City of Alpine for the use of the Civic Center, an ad budget, and making available the parking space for our overflow of outdoor vendors. A big thanks to Eddie for getting ramps built; we didn’t have as many wheelchairs this year as last, but there were a lot more baby strollers.

Suzanne Hughes of Balmorhea won the grand prize.

A big thanks to the volunteers in the Chihuahuan Desert Gem & Mineral Club who gave time and labor to make this family event happen.

Paul Graybeal, show chairman

Marfa

* * *

The 2013 Relay For Life Committee of the Big Bend Unit of the American Cancer Society thanks everyone in our tri-county area for all their support and efforts in helping us to have another successful Relay. We had a large enthusiastic crowd enjoying the entertainment and participating in the event. Best of all, we went over our goal, with a preliminary count of over $50,000 with more money still coming in.

We especially want to recognize our 2013 underwriters and sponsors for the event and the hospitality sponsors for the refreshments.

Our underwriters and sponsors for the event were Porter’s Thriftway, Big Bend Regional Medical Center, Alpine 3 on 3 Basketball, McDonald’s, Prescription Shop, Alpine Small Animal Practice, Big Bend Telephone Company, Johnson Feed & Western Wear, Leoncita Cattle Company, KVLF/KALP Radio, Mayor and Anju Rangra, Sheriff Ronny Dodson & Staff, Subway, Tallent Roofing, Twin Peaks Storage, A King’s Image, American Legion Auxiliary, Alpine Community Credit Union, B & S Services, Fort Davis Family Practice, Fort Davis State Bank, Front Street Books, Frontier Lodge 766, Graphic Unlimited, Highland Concrete, Holland Hotel, In & Out Rental, Jarrett Dirt Work & Paving, Rio Grande Electric Corp., Something Special, VFW Post 7207, W. Jay Fielder, D.D.S., West Texas National Bank, TransPecos Banks, and Desert Sky Quilters Marge Nunley, Sally Schaeffer, and Dot Mainz.

Our hospitality sponsors this year were Alicia’s Mexican Restaurant, ARAMARK Food Services, Coca-Cola Refreshments, First Baptist Church, First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Dairy Queen, Highland Inn, Ivey’s Emporium, Pepsi Cola, WTG Fuels, Inc., Judy’s Bread & Breakfast, Frito-Lay, LaCasita, and Subway.

We also want to recognize Sul Ross State University for their generosity in providing their facilities and co-hosting the event and their Physical Plant employees for bringing the tables and chairs and for setting up the stage.

We do appreciate everybody participating in helping us to raise money for cancer research, education, advocacy, and patient services. Our cancer patients reap the benefits through our Road to Recovery program, whereby local certified drivers drive patients for treatment to Odessa or El Paso. Patients may apply for gas cards for their travel to treatment and obtain wigs, hats, turbans, breast prostheses, and mastectomy bras through the ACS Office.  Other ways that our money is spent is through our Reach to Recovery program, through educational literature placed in doctors’ offices and at the hospital, through the ongoing research conducted to find a cure for cancer, and through our advocacy program. The Patient Service Center number is 1-877-227-1618.

Sincerely,

Dorothy Leavitt, Chairman

Big Bend Unit Relay For Life

Alpine

* * *

First of all, I would like to be clear that I am happy that The Presidio County Sheriff’s Dept is giving excellent coverage to Marfa, given our reliance on tourism and greater reliance on safety in general. So, perhaps you can take this letter as tongue in cheek.

We live in an incredible place, and hopefully everyone knows that perfect would never be perfect- far from it. My vision of Utopia is definitely a very blurred and dystopian version of the stock and trade, but I would like to present a BeebeTopian vision regarding the arrests of two of my compatriots for fighting last Saturday night in the street.

I would propose to the Court of Jesters (because that would be what we would have, in an official capacity) that every person be allowed a list to carry of five people they would be allowed to fight with impunity (must be same sex, can be siblings of same sex) and when confronted by law enforcement, lists would be compared and action would be taken or not. I can think of three people (including the two perpetrators from last week’s mini-melee) who would be on my local list, by the way (ha!).

In closing, I am certain that a night in jail did my buddies some good, and here’s hoping they keep it in the house next time.

David Beebe

Marfa

Story filed under: West Texas Talk » West Texas Talk Highlight

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