Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guitarist, Singer 'Mean' Gene Kelton Killed in School Bus Crash

HOUSTON - FOX 26 News has learned the person killed in a wreck involving a Crosby ISD school bus was Houston-based singer-songwriter "Mean" Gene Kelton.

The wreck happened on FM 2100 around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Kelton was the only fatality in the crash, but 11 people on the school bus were transported to the hospital as a precaution.

Friends and fans paid their respects on Kelton's Facebook page after a 'status update' announced his death.

"To my friends and fans of Mean Gene Kelton: Gene was involved in an accident in Crosby late Tuesday evening, and did not survive. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, especially his children and his mother, Helen."

According to Kelton's website, he was one of the top blues guitarists in Texas. Along with his regular performances across Texas, Kelton also spent time as an actor and author. Kelton was scheduled to perform a New Year's Eve show at the Rowdy Bucks Saloon in Crosby. In early December, he opened for ZZ Top in Odessa.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office says Kelton was driving a 2002 Ford Explorer northbound on FM 2100 when he hit the Crosby school bus head-on. While the crash remains under investigation, witnesses told deputies Kelton swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting another vehicle that had stopped to turn.

The school bus Kelton hit was carrying the 9th grade basketball team from Crosby High School.

Kelton was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Keltons are friends of mine and this hurts me to my very core.  Please keep his wife and family in your prayers.  BB

Photos by Bert Marshall
Doug Delony - Senior Web Producer

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 33 Rules of Geocachingland by Baytown Bert

1. Cardio (you will need it)

2. The Double Tap (bring redundant data)

3. Beware of Bathrooms (don't use PI for TP)

4. Wear Seat Belts (it's the law)

5. No Attachments (check for ticks)

6. The “Skillet” (remember granola bars)

7. Travel Light (you may be out late)

8. Get a Trusted Partner (self-explanitory)

9. With your Bare Hands (bring band-aids)

10. Don’t Swing Low (barbwire in the back)

11. Use Your Foot (see number 10)

12. Bounty Paper Towels (see number 3)

13. Shake it Off (ladies, see number 12)

14. Bring Change of underwear (in case you forget number 12)

15. Bowling Ball (if all else fails, crawl under it)

16. Opportunity Knocks (FTF!)

17. Don’t be a hero (occasionally let someone else be FTF)

18. Limber Up (3 push-ups will usually qualify)

19. Break it Up (be the first to say "break is over")

20. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint (see number 16)

21. Avoid Strip Clubs (avoid skirt-lifting as often as possible)

22. When in doubt know your way out (dehydration kills)

23. Ziplock (bring extra baggies)

24. Use your thumbs (on a heavy caching day, use both hands on the GPSr)

25. Shoot First (Stop looking at your GPSr and follow your gut)

26. A little sun screen never hurt anybody (self-explanitory)

27. Incoming! (Watch for swinging limbs)

28. Double-Knot your Shoes (*GBP = 3X knots)

29. The Buddy System (No cacher left behind)

30. Pack your stain stick (better your stick than your hand)

31. Check the back seat (Don't leave without your kit)

32. Enjoy the little things (That's why you geocache)

33. Swiss army Knife (GSAK)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hazelwood Benefits extended to Vets Kids!

Many times veterans from all era's never hear of earned benefits they have in Texas. Many of our Baytown Veterans of Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post 912 and Vietnam Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter 922 mission is to make sure we educate our area Veterans about earned benefits. Many web sites have been set up to help all veterans and families look up or apply for State and Federal benefits. Today I want Veterans to know that many State Representatives and many Veterans in Texas have made it possible now for Texas

Veterans to have their Hazelwood Act for educational funds go to their children under 25 as per procedures set up by State of Texas.

This is a awesome benefit for a Veteran's children and here is where to get information

Also I hope all eligible Veterans join us and become members at VFW or VVA in Baytown,TX. Our mission is to help other Veterans and families and our community. If you need any veteran type information we maybe able to help direct you to organizations that will help direct Veterans or Veteran Families.

Thank you Baytown Sun newspaper, ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips, and Bert Marshall (Baytown Bert) for sharing Veteran information..when I put it out.

Proud Veteran and Life member in Baytown TX. VFW / Vietnam Veterans of America

WG Fitts

My Observations Entering the New Year 2011

- The BP oil spill was over-blown by the media creating a giant panic and millions of wasted tax dollars. The reason I say this is based on observation of the multitude of news programs, news articles, an extensive understanding of the industry and two eye witnesses who covered the spill from Texas to Florida. The first was my Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) instructor this year. This fellow spent 3 months working the coast line and never saw oil other than one time when he saw a light sheen in one small area. No oily birds, no blobs of oil – nada. The second is an independent film maker friend of mine who, on the government dime, documented…nothing and this for 2 months.

- Garry Brumback leaving Baytown may be very bad for Baytown. Mr. Brumback has been very good for Baytown and I am basing this on my personal observation and personal communication between him and myself. Whenever I brought up a concern, he was quick to address it and as just one individual in a large city, this impressed me very much. I vote to offer Bob Leiper the job.

- The Red light camera removal will prove to be a step backward. Before the cameras, people in this town drove akin to 19 year old soldiers driving a HUMVEE on the crowded streets of Baghdad and with the removal of the cameras, things will return to that sad state of driving. I am already witnessing a return to reckless red light running. I pray the fellow who stirred up the whole city against them continues to compile data to expose his error in getting them removed.

- The Bark Park in Jenkins park is one the best things to happen to our city. It is my desire that continued effort is put into keeping it in tip top shape. The few trail system in the adjoining field will make this park a real draw for walkers and runners. I’ve expressed hope they will certify a 5K trail in this park.

- Geocaches in Baytown are drawing out-of-towners to our city. Larry Houston, Aaron Barbee, Brian Hillier, myself, and others have placed a large number of geocaches around the city to invite geocachers to hunt for them. People are driving in from as far as Huntsville, Louisiana, San Antonio, and folks traveling on I-10 to find them. Many of them eat in our restaurants and stay in our motels. It’s a win-win for Baytown.

- Los Torito’s on N. Main is the best place to buy tamales. They are friendly, locally owned, big fat tamales, which taste delicious. My favorite is the bean, cheese, & jalapeno.

- I’m not sure my councilman is listening. Lynn Caskey is the councilman over my district (5) and I’ve never had a conversation or an email response from him over a single issue, but I do hear from the others often enough to know they are listening. I don’t see evidence he has helped improve my area one iota. We need sidewalks in the most desperate way and shoulders on our side roads for starters. Riding a bicycle in our town is suicide. Walking is not much safer. McKinney road connecting Massey Tompkins and SH-146 is a good example of a dangerous road, which is shoulder and sidewalkless.

- Power lines should be installed or reran underground. Why oh why does the power company continue putting power lines on ugly poles? I lived in north Georgia 50 years ago and they put their power lines underground. Can you imagine N. Main with the ugly power lines, or Garth Road?

- Goose Creek should be dredged. Considering the barge/container expansion on Cedar Bayou is most likely inevitable, we need to develop Goose Creek pronto. Dredging should begin with added boat ramps and tie it into the Goose Creek Trail with expanded parking and pavilions.

- Bayland park needs trees planted. The tall pines are thinning out and soon there will be nothing there, but dirt. The marina island is barren and why that is, is a mystery. I’ve raised this concern to the city numerous times, but no change has taken place that I can see.

- The Eagles have landed. The observation area on Tri City Beach road where people stand and park to observe our bald eagles needs to be improved and maintained by the city before it turns into a giant headache and trash strewn area. It’s called being proactive folks and should be on the short list of our council.

- La Porte and Pasadena have new bike trails. Whatever those city council members are doing over there, we need to do over here. I’d like Mayor DonCarlos needs to get on the horn and see if we can secure some of that state and federal money.

- The TV series “The Closer” is canceled. Kyra Sedgwick has the worst Southern accent I’ve ever heard on a series. I couldn’t get past it.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Take THAT Comcast!

If you were affected by this outage, by all means call your Comcast rep and get a credit.  They don't mind hammering you for every little cent, so make that call.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eleven Intrepid Geocachers Take on TEXAS Series

Yesterday, 11 intrepid geocachers tackled the 47-cache series dubbed TEXAS in George Bush park.  We logged 11.5 foot miles in 82 degree heat, briars galore, and no trail to speak of.  Texas Dreamcacher wrote a poem to commemorate the effort:

'Twas the Winter Solstice

with our apologies to

Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston

By Texas DreamCacher

'Twas the Winter Solstice in George Bush Park

And cachers began to gather - even though it was dark;

Packs were loaded and batteries checked

While GPSR's were hung 'round their necks;

The gate was still chained and padlocked,

But Baytown Bert said, “It's time... says my clock.”

“On geogeex, Team Trogladyte and AaronBarbee,

Z_Malloc, ggmorton and Nebulous703....

Move Nov64, agtitan, GreatBirds... ya hear?

We'll let slo-poke, TDW bring up the rear!”
And so it began long before daylight,

11 brave cachers sallied forth, unaware of their plight;

The morning sky was cloudy and gray,

Looked it 'twould be a perfect caching day;

Down the path they all trod as they all tried to be first,

Little did they know that this would bring on a big thirst.

But more on that later, we've only begun,

The litter of cachers started having great fun;

For efficiency, simplicity and speed,

we would sign as a group, it was agreed;

Solstice Swarm, said someone we could sign as SS,

But after a discussion we decided that wasn't the best;

Approaching the first cache, we needed a name,

“Sign it SOL!” someone said, “even though it is lame”.

SOL is for Solstice which really doesn't suck,

But we know that you'll refer to us a S*** Out of Luck.
We found the first cache and were proud of ourselves,

So we hiked on some more, like good little elves;

At the second cache as a group we struggled,

Later found out that it had been muggled;

The DNF did not dampen our mood,

As the third cache showed up right where it should;

Through briar, bramble and thorn we did travel,

As the “T.E.X.A.S.” series we began to unravel;
The leader would switch off and on during the day,

And most everyone could show us the way;

Except for one cacher who showed up in short pants,

He led us through barbwire, thorns and fireants;

He would find the cache, 'though we had to donate,

Pints of blood for the survival of this asylum inmate;

All went well until we finished “S.A.X.E”,

It was at that time that we lost the first three;
“Hey, where ya going, just what is the matter?”

“We're hot and we're tired and we've run out of water”;

So they left without shame and vanished behind a tree,

As the rest of us started to complete the “T”;

We had only seven more caches to log;

At one of them we saw a whole herd of hog;

When the series was finally done,

At least 50 smilies we each had won;

So as we parted ways and BaytownBert we did hear,

We had a great time caching on the shortest day of the year!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Eagles Have Landed…Again!

In the slim chance that you haven’t heard, the eagles are back on Tri City Beach Road adjacent to Evergreen Golf Course. American bald eagles, that is and our country’s symbol of freedom. From morning to dark, observers line the road to watch, learn and photograph this great raptor.

A couple of evenings ago, I was on Evergreen road and cruised over in my snazzy KIA Rio 5 to have a gander for myself. Already assembled were a dozen or so folks, most of which were sporting expensive cameras with giant lenses and sturdy tri-pods. Everyone was bundled up against the wind and 40 degree weather – and there were no eagles present.

Passing amongst them, I asked if anyone was a member of the Baytown Photo Club only to learn none were from here. Two were from San Antonio, one from Beaumont, three from College Station and on and on. All were standing in the hard-packed dirt along the no-shoulder road waiting a chance to see the birds.

Since it was near dusk, it was a logical conclusion that all of these out-of-towners would be spending the night in a Baytown motel and eating food in our restaurants. Well known businessman and avid eagle photographer Chris Navarre joined me about this time and we stood close to the road and chatted about the possibilities and both of us agreed the area could be a boon for Baytown.

Hey! The birds are a big draw for our town, even though while we were there, a fellow who lives further down the road pulled up and asked “Hey, why are you guys here every day?”. “We are watching for the eagles” was the reply. “Eagles?” he asked.

I say it’s time the city capitalized on our small, but growing eagle population and bring in crushed rock to expand parking. A roofed structure with slab could be poured on the golf course side of the road to retreat to when it rained briefly and benches installed so photographers and observers could rest in between sightings. Add large garbage containers also and maybe a dog poo station for good measure.

Regardless if this happens or not, the area will inevitably become a giant mess from all the tourists visiting the area, pulling off the road and grinding up the soil. We will then be known for another eyesore and that is hardly what we want.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Date Which SHOULD Live in Infamy

After polling a number of my younger coworkers yesterday about the American significance of December 7th and finding they had no reference point, I brought out breakfast, cooked it, and presented it to them, to call to remembrance a "date which will live in infamy".

The day we forget our own history, is the day we are doomed to repeat it.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

"The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.

And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us".
Source: Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Houston Geocaching Society Featured Cacher Nov 2010

HGCS: What got you interested in caching?

BaytownBert: Back in 2003, I was introduced to the idea of geocaching by the famous Sam Morrow (UsMorrows). Sam was the Lab Super and since we are both computer nerds, we would share and compare each morning while I was passing by on my rounds. I found about 40 caches before I came to the conclusion my bride was not interested and since I had numerous other hobbies, I decided to drop geocaching in favor of continuing mutual interests. Now years later, I decided it was time I get back to hiking and well, geocaching gives me a reason to be on the trail, plus it’s a reward for the labor.

HGCS: How did you decide on your caching name?

BaytownBert: I’ve been BaytownBert online (300 bps) before Al Gore invented the Internet. I moved to Baytown in 1974 and put down roots. I do my best to promote the city and surrounding area on a daily basis and folks recognize my name for the proactive work I do here and my columns in the Baytown Sun and my blog.

HGCS: When you cache, what equipment do you use? (PDA, Garmin, Magellan, software)

BaytownBert: I use a Garmin Oregon 450 and a Tom-Tom for roads, plus I plot out my agenda/route on paper and print it. I have a love/hate relationship with technology you see and still like to hold paper in my hand. In an emergency, it sure beats leaves. Ever try that with a Smartphone? Sometimes I print out an aerial view of where I am going for reference also. If you walk the Huge Smile series in the near future, you may find one of my plastic sealed maps in a thorny bush area somewhere...feel free to use it (I dropped it - not the other!). I still research each cache and load them singly or update them before I go – I know, I should use pocket queries or GSAK, but I do not. I could use some help here I guess, but being mostly a lobo kind of guy, I just stumble happily through life and then make stupid videos of myself falling down with flatulence sounds.

HGCS: What are your all-time favorite cache(s)?

BaytownBert: I love the long endurance series best of all BBSPES (Brazos Bend State Park Endurance Series), Noble Road was very good, and the Alphabet Soups series was primo too. My other favorites are Aaron Barbee’s PUC’s and Houston Control’s caches, because they almost always draw attention to history or something interesting.

HGCS: Do you have any special caching adventures you want to tell us about?

BaytownBert: I was caching solo north of Liberty, Texas just the other day and trying to find a cache which I figured had dropped from its empty tether into a deep creek bed about 20 feet below. I attempted to get down there, but slid out of control and fell the last 8 feet into the bed. It was really stupid of me being 58 years old, but I have a lot of break-fall experience from years of martial arts training and all that happened was I drove my hand about 6 inches into the muck. Yuck. The cache was nowhere to be found after all of that, but I told myself I should think twice before I do something like that again (not likely).

HGCS: Have any "Most embarrassing Geo-moment" you would like to share? Details please!

BaytownBert: I have them all the time I guess, but since most of the time I am trekking solo, I reenact them for my videos. The reason I video me is because I don’t mind making fun of myself and I feel that what I post, others often can see themselves, both for the adventure we cachers experience and the limbs that smack all of us in the face when we are bushwhacking. The flatulent sounds just add…humor. You decide.

HGCS: What is your favorite type of cache (traditional, multi, puzzle) and why?

BaytownBert: I’m pretty much a traditional cacher, I guess. When I first began caching again after a 6 year lay-off, I couldn’t stand nanos or micros and now, due to being educated a bit, I realize there is a place for all sizes. Everyone is not as mobile as I am and some are downright physically challenged and a micro or nano in a parking lot is about all they can muster, so I added some park and grabs in my hides. However for the more adventurous types, I try to make them very physically challenging. I am guilty of hiding well-disguised preforms in hard to find places, like my Brawndo series in Baytown. It’s an endurance series after-all, designed to keep folks fighting brush and thorns in and out of the woods throughout the whole thing…with a few climbs and snakes and mossies for good measure. I love to place regular size caches with lots of goodies also and I religiously maintain my caches. On the opposite end, I hate micros and nanos in ligustrum bushes in high-muggle areas and won't do them, or close to private homes and businesses, especially if electricity is involved.

HGCS: What is your favorite local cache?

BaytownBert: I guess my favorite local cache is one of my own, because it was my 3rd attempt at a hide and it has stumped so many seasoned Vets (GC25TKG). I placed this one in an attempt to be sneaky and I was delighted when folks had trouble locating it. Between Woodpicker and Mudfrog they tally over 10,400 finds and could locate it in September. No Muggle with almost 4400 finds gave me a call and I swapped secret info for maintenance favors on another of mine they found lacking.

HGCS: How about your favorite out of state cache?

BaytownBert: Out of State? What’s that? I work about 500 hour’s overtime every year. LOL Seriously, I haven’t cached out of state since I returned to the sport.

HGCS: Summer or Winter caching? Why?

BaytownBert: Both have their advantages, however, I do not mind sweating and I love sunshine. If I hear about a physically challenging series or cache(s) and it is scalding hot and humid, I am drawn to it like a Democrat to a free hotdog lunch. If it's cold and windy and overcast, I'll find something else to do. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

HGCS: When a new cache is listed, are you tempted to go for FTF?

BaytownBert: Yes, but usually I can’t get to it for a myriad of reasons. If I am off-work and there is nothing stopping me, I burn out of there like a liberal going to an anti-Tea Party rally. I am going to make a humorous video about FTF in the future. I hope to catch the passion some folks experience.

HGCS: Tell us about your cache mobile.

BaytownBert: I’m almost embarrassed to say it is my 2007 KIA RIO 5 instead of my beloved 1997 lifted-Jeep Wrangler Sport which I drove for 5 years when I was President of the TX4X4 Cyber Club – Now morphed into The hatchback area is loaded with caching repair supplies, new cache containers, and a subwoofer.

HGCS: What other hobbies do you have?

BaytownBert: Off-roading (currently Jeep-less), photography, blogging, hiking, writing in general, and local history. I run 5 mailing lists,, and when I'm not working at the Chemical Plant by the San Jacinto monument.

HGCS: Do you currently have any caching goals that you are working towards?

BaytownBert: I am taking it one day at a time and trying not to become obsessed like I do in everything I "get into". Sound familiar? I have a feeling I'm in good company here.

HGCS: Is it all about the numbers?

BaytownBert: Yes and no. I’ve seen this argued both ways. For me it is about numbers to a certain extent, as it shows my skill level. When a person has 5000 finds behind their name and they have earned each number, they have Jedi status in my eyes. However, I want to earn each number and I want to remember to be in the moment while I’m earning them. When I go out for a day of caching, I want to be rewarded with a lot of total finds too, which adds up to bigger numbers, right?

HGCS: Thanks for this interview. Is there anything you would like to add?

BaytownBert: Yes there is. If you are out and about and come across one of my hides which needs repair, have at it. I am attempting to keep a ratio of hides to finds right at 10% and this means I will have a lot of hides eventually. It takes a village to support an idiot.

I've taken it upon myself to present creatively named hide pages and attempt to leave original and humorous write-ups with photographs when I leave log finds. Most people do not understand how important feedback is until you own some hides. Latitude_Attitude almost always leaves great feedback and I know there are others.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Local Artist helps Wheelers for the Wounded Project

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010 12:05 am   The Baytown Sun - Jane Howard Lee
*Photo Nicki Evans

What Baytown resident Jim McDonnel can do with pencils is pretty amazing.

What the pencils have done for him is perhaps more amazing still.

The walls of the home that McDonnel shares with wife Cindy are covered with art and much of it is his work.

A self-trained artist, he works in pen and ink and in acrylics, but his favorite medium is pencil.

Born in Alice, Texas, McDonnel spent his earliest years in south Texas, but moved to Barbers Hill when he was in high school. He graduated from Barbers Hill High School in 1974.

Life led him to work in a chemical plant. He was employed by Dow Chemical in Freeport for 23 years while he and Cindy raised a daughter. When he retired, they moved to Baytown, but retirement didn’t suit him for long. He soon went back to work full time in a Baytown chemical plant and works there still.

"I guess I started really drawing in junior high," McDonnel said. "I wasn’t paying much attention in class. Instead I was always drawing soldiers and such."

It was the Vietnam era, after all.

Those schoolboy drawings evolved over the years. McDonnel discovered that he really loved creating art. He tried painting, found that he really likes working with acrylics but always returned to what got him started … drawing with a pencil.

Of course the pencils he uses today aren’t the No. 2 Ticonderoga he probably used in junior high and he’s not doodling on the edges of notebook paper. But the works he’s created with art pencils and paper are a natural progression from those early works.

About two years ago, McDonnel was diagnosed with cancer, an advanced case that required chemotherapy, followed by surgery.

He is doing well now, but went through a very rough time.

"It’s been tough, but my art gave me something to focus on besides being sick," he said. "When I was too sick to do much of anything else, I could still pick up a pencil."

With that ordeal behind him, he is back at work and enjoying time spent with his three granddaughters. He especially enjoys working on art projects with them and has discovered that they seem to share not only his enthusiasm for art but also some of his artistic talent.

He recently taught a couple of art classes (as a visiting artist) at his granddaughters’ school and enjoyed that immensely, he said.

He shuffled through stacks of his drawings and pointed out favorites on the walls of his home, expressing regret that he doesn’t have too many examples of the work he did in his younger days.

"I gave so much of my early artwork away and I wish I at least had copies of some of them," he said.

Nowadays, he does make and keep copies or prints, whether it is a drawing he does on commission, something he creates for a nonprofit group to auction (he does a lot of that) or drawings he does for himself or family members.

He’s been drawing a lot of beloved pets for people, often people he connects with on Internet forums that he frequents.

"I put a couple examples of my work on there and people will get in touch," he said. "A lot of them want pictures of their pets … you know for a lot of people, their pets are like their kids. They especially want a special portrait of their pets after those pets have died. They send me a photo and I’ll work from that."

McDonnel likes that his art can make those people happy, but he especially likes it when his art can help out a good cause.

One of his drawings recently brought in about $4,000 at an auction for the nonprofit organization Wheelers for the Wounded, whose primary mission is providing a weekend of off-roading, camping and sometimes fishing to the people who were wounded or injured while serving in the U.S. military.

A fan of off-road driving himself, McDonnel was a founding member of Wheelers 4 Wishes, a local four-wheeling group that participates in the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Toy Run/Ride that features motorcycle enthusiasts and four-wheeler fans and takes place at the Pasadena Fairgrounds each year. This year marks the 17th annual toy run and takes place on Dec. 11. McDonnel created the art that will grace the event’s T-shirt this year, as he has done for four of the last five years.

"It’s neat to see all those bikers wearing my art," he said.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prints for Sale -Wheelers for the Wounded


One of Kind prints available. These prints were drawn by fellow Wheeler and artist Jim McDonnel. They are numbered 1-150 and are signed by Jim. This print was given to Wheelers for the Wounded and all proceeds will go to help fund the 2011 main event. This is a quality print, not a copy. It is done a quality 100# paper. It is suitable for framing and should last many lifetimes. It would make a great gift for any soldier. Jim has expressed an interested in doing a series, every year. This would make it very collectible.

The price is $25 per print and $5 for shipping and handling. I can ship up to 5 prints for that price. For example, if you wanted 3 prints the price would be $75 plus $5 for shipping. Below is a picture of the print.

Contact info: Bodanno at

Saturday, November 20, 2010

WWII War Hero Passes Quietly - Lindsey "Zeb" Wilcox

On November 18th, 2010, one week after Veterans Day, Mr. Lindsey “Zeb” Wilcox made his final goodbyes and passed on to Davy Jones’ locker to join his lost USS Indianapolis shipmates, albeit via DeQuincy, Louisiana - his birth place. I like to think Baytown, Texas was his hometown though.

On November 17, the evening before, I sat in the parlor at Navarre’s funeral home and watched the procession of family friends, Masons, his fellow Lion’s Club members, and church folks form a line to condole their prayers, support, and warmth on Mr. Wilcox’s daughter and grandson, his lone survivors.

I was in no hurry, so I sat for about an hour and simply watched the line grow.

This was a man who was loved and I know why. He was a good man.

As his Pastor reminisced about his life and her personal experiences with him, I couldn’t help but smile. I do not claim to have known him well. Rev. Carol Turner talked about folks knowing him as “Zeb” and “Lindsey”, but I simply knew him as Mr. Wilcox. We talked many times both in person and on the phone and out of respect and deference, I always addressed him this way and he never corrected me, knowing my preference.

Three years ago, almost to the day, I sat down with Mr. Wilcox at his home to hear not only about the infamous sinking of the USS Indianapolis, but also to learn about the man and chronicle his life for such a day as today. We struck up a friendship which lasted and have had many conversations, some of which I videoed and or sound recorded for posterity. I’ve turned this material over to Heather Mills Parker, a senior at Texas A&M Galveston for her to publish in a term paper. She also interviewed Mr. Wilcox for additional information and literally fell in love with the man.
Sitting beside me at the funeral was my friend Claudius Joseph, himself a survivor of a US Navy disaster, the explosion on the gun turret of the USS Iowa and a friend too, of Mr. Wilcox. Claude was on duty that day and had been relieved of his place in the turret minutes before the explosion.

Mr. Wilcox’s shipmate, bugle master Glenn Morgan blew “Taps” and I know that was very difficult for him. Claude and I sat in silence through-out the funeral feeling a sense of deep loss. My own father had passed just days before and he too was a WWII Navy Veteran.  I had delighted in introducing Mr. Wilcox to my Dad and vice versa at my own son’s military funeral last year.

It’s been a rough couple of years for us Vets and sending Mr. Wilcox off to sea along with my Dad made me see my own mortality that much more. One by one, our WWII Vets are leaving us and the saddest thing of all is the almost total lack of fanfare most of them receive, Mr. Wilcox included. In his case, two lone enlisted-grade sailors folded a flag for him and then marched away. He should have been sent off by officer-grade sailors at the very least, but that may not have followed military protocol, I realize, but just the same.  Sometimes, the rules should be ignored and this was one of those times.

Both Claude and I were dismayed at the small amount of pomp and circumstance offered by his country and the US Navy. The man received precious little at the end for the service he endured and the great educational effort he performed in the community to keep the memory of the USS Indianapolis alive for Veterans and future generations.

We can do better than this and the man certainly deserved it. His funeral should have filled an auditorium instead of the 150 who attended and most of them should have been active and retired military and Veterans.

Hi Bert,

My name is Sara and I recently came across your article about USS Indianapolis survivor Linsey WIlcox, or Zeb, as I came to know him.

I have been working with the survivors of the organization for many years to tell their story.  Recently, I've put together a documentary; which I'm proud to say has been chosen as an official selection at the upcoming GI Film Festival in Washington DC.  Zeb was one of the 104 people we interviewed for this project.  

The reason I'm contacting you is because I'm also putting together information on Zeb's life after the war.  I have some information about the time he met and spent with Captain McVay, but I was hoping he spoke to you more about this in his final days, and that you could share any information with me about it.  Any notes or details you might have in this respect would be greatly appreciated.  I'm doing my very best to keep the Indianapolis legacy alive, and thank you, in advance, for any assistance you may be able to help me with.

And just in case you're interested, here's a link to our trailer. 

All the best,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

American Fighting Man Code of Conduct

I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause. I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Please remember our Vets tomorrow and our active military and say a prayer.

Sgt Bert Marshall

USAF 70-74

654 days SEA

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bark Park Plans For Trail Upgrades

Letter to the Parks Department 10-27-10:  I notice there are numerous piles of material for raising the level of the trail, just outside of the park.  Can you give us a time-line for pouring the material before the rains begin again please?  Thank you.  All of our parks show your dedication to Baytown and I am in many of them each week geocaching or walking with my wife and dogs.

Response:  We are currently making a round mowing the parks, by doing this it will give us a little break with the winter months mowing. Once we are complete with this round of mowing it will free up our operators to be able to do the work out at Jenkins with the dog park. The dog park work is scheduled for next week as long as everything goes to plan with the mowing. Thank you for being a regular visitor to our parks and let us know if you see any other issues that might arise in the future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update from Deadhorse Alaska 10-20-10

Right now, according to, it is one degree Fahrenheit and with the wind chill factor, it is negative 12. The wind is 8 mph and it is foggy.

Yesterday, we had steady snow until late evening. I cleared about 8 inches of the stuff off my truck while it was warming (questionable) up, and about ½ inch of ice had to be broken and scraped off my headlights. Being rather short, getting enough off the front top of the windshield is a herculean effort for me, but I did a satisfactory job. In the process, I got a substantial amount of snow in my boots and on my jeans. I’m really looking forward to the arrival of those boots from Cabella’s. I have mittens and a really warm, fur-lined, Scandinavian-style hat coming, too.

This morning, what little snow fell on my truck last night had been blown away and I was happy that I didn’t have to do any cleanup before getting on the road. It seemed much warmer than when I went home yesterday, so I was surprised to find out that the temperature was 5 degrees. It fell to 3 before I got to work and is now registering 1, as I wrote above.

The first half of the drive was really pleasant, the new snow is gorgeous on the tundra; in the lights of town and the facilities that I pass, it looks like the whole place has been covered with melted ice cream. The roads are in great condition; hard as rock and drive like pavement instead of the gravel that they are. There’s a line of snow about a foot wide that appears to be a center line, and only occasionally do you find a bit of slippery area, because there’s been no warm up to create thaw followed by ice.

I once again found myself chuckling over the fact that I am here, writing this journal, instead of reading what one of my brothers or friends wrote. I am still enjoying the whole experience and it has not yet become common to me. As I was thinking these things, I thought about how proud my father was of me, and how thrilled he was that I am here. I was suddenly so overcome with grief that I had a hard time pulling myself together enough to drive.

My dad had travelled over much of the world through the Navy and work assignments later, but he never made it to Alaska. He mentioned many times that he had wanted to go to Alaska all of his life, and through my journal he was living it for himself. When I was 15, he had the opportunity to move to Alaska with Mother and all five children in tow, but instead, he accepted a job in Marietta, Georgia and we moved to Woodstock a tiny town in Cherokee County, where I finished High School. That move had a very strong influence on the lives that my brothers and I would live from there on out. We would all be very different people, I am sure, if he had chosen the Kenai Peninsula over Lockheed Marietta!

From the Artic Circle....I remain,
Deadhorse Connie

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writings of Nick Marshall - Friday, August 22, 2008

Writings of Nick Marshall - Friday, August 22, 2008
Current mood:  confused
Category: News and Politics

I look back upon my Iraq experience with pride and misunderstanding.  I was proud to serve my country but as the time goes by and the killed tally continues to climb without results, I wondered what the hell is going on.  I wouldn't trade my war experience for anything…but to deny that we were mislead into the Iraq war would not only be ignorant, but extremely stupid.  Did we need to get rid of Saddam Hussein?  Of course we did….by letting him die of old age, and once he was deceased his son, Qusay, (a psychopath with a love for cocaine and fast cars) would have ascended to power.  If his extremist rule was not stopped by his own Generals, the U.N. would have backed a multi-nation Army (that would have included Islamic nations) to go in and re-align the government. This would allow for the U.S. to take control, as it had done in Desert Storm, without becoming the 'bad guy.'  This would also allow Islamic governments to have a seat at the table thus almost quelling extremists that are currently fighting what they believe to be 'Imperialistic Christians.'  Thanks George have 'shocked and awed' everyone. 
6:42 PM
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Inside looking out....Georgia (not peaches)
Current mood:  angry
Category: News and Politics

So the Red's have pushed their way into Georgia based on false accusations that they are just supporting the oppression of South Ossetia....which is completely false because this conflict was started by Georgian separatists that support Russia....and they've spit in the face of the U.S. because they know that our military is stretched thin due to the incompetent Bush.  Russian loyalists in Georgia have started looting and raping...ravaging the country side....I've met many Georgians; they are poor soldiers, but good people....I had a long discussion with a Captain in the Georgian Army that was fascinating in 2004; he hated the Russians and I share his opinion.  The 'Red Scare' is well and active and as long as I live I will be prepared to take arms against the me a racist, a bigot, ignorant, whatever you want, but when it comes to the Russians....I'd rather have a weapon in my hand then a shot of vodka....I always told myself that the only way I'd rejoin the military is that if it's WWIII or a fight against the Russians or Iran.......well, I'm more than ready to risk myself to crush the 'comrades.'
6:37 AM
Saturday, August 09, 2008
China Olympics
Category: News and Politics

So the world  makes China the host of the Olympic games....a communist country that abuses human rights, leads the world in pollution (the U.S. is second,) and monitors it's population like a risk board game.  What the hell???   Well....lets think back; the world did give the 1936 Olympic Games to Nazi Germany...and Jesse Owens dominated (Hitler wouldn't present the award....FYI my father met Jesse Owens.)  Many predict that China will surpass the U.S. as the main superpower....
2:21 AM
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Where are you now Teddy?
Current mood:  pessimistic
Category: News and Politics

Where are you now Teddy Roosevelt?  The political figures of today seem to appeal to the American citizens needs as they campaign for the Presidency...but once elected they cater to their political friends and the needs of their party.  As Police Commissioner of New York, Governor of New York, and finally President, Teddy's main objective was to meet the needs of the people.  The Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the implementation of the FDA, and the regulation of big business were aimed at benefiting the common man.  The ultimate reformer, Roosevelt was a champion of the American people; no other politician did more to maximize his time in office toward the benefit of the American people than did he.  Colonel Roosevelt remains the only President to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the Medal of Honor.  As I look at the disaster that was the George Bush presidency, I can only hope that the next President is even a tenth of the leader that Teddy was.
1:22 AM

You’re better than me...
Current mood:  argumentative
Category: News and Politics

I struggle to find a better Americans we find ourselves in a political you vote for the energetic Obama, or the maverick McCain?  Where do we make the division between conservative and liberal?  What if we believe that the pledge of allegiance should be said before class.....or if the diversity of America should be supported and that considered uncivil?  The democracy pill is a hard one to swallow these days....everyone wants to be free, but does that mean we must give up some of our freedoms to be free?  I believe so.  The diversity that makes America may be its undoing (remember, the 9/11 pilots were trained in Florida.)  Recently Congress passed the Surveillance Bill that shielded telecommunication companies from being legally responsible for privacy acts.  BRAVO!  I have nothing to hide, do you?  I believe that it is worth the government tapping into my conversation to find out which bar I'm going to, if they are able to stop an Islamic radical from committing a terrorist act.
10:43 PM
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The traveler

Traveling is an art.  The experience of the unknown paints a permanent picture into the mind of the individual making the journey.  I love travel, the excitement of being on foreign soil, rubbing shoulders with the locals, and diving head-first into a new culture stimulates even the most zombie-like personalities. It is within this that we build upon our character and push the boundaries of our own lifestyle....
7:07 PM
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Football versus Futbol

I've been watching the 'beautiful game' in a 'cheating on your girlfriend' type of way.  Why this reference?  Well, I’m a die hard American football fan, that's why.  The juke, the battle in the trenches, and the Hail Mary have been my way to escape reality and feel the hypnotic vibe of the NFL world.  But wait, I was in South Korea right after the 2002 World Cup was held, and was in Germany when they hosted the 2006 World I caught a little fever.  The Houston Dynamo winning the past two MLS cups just added fuel to the futbol fire. I started to sweat...and while the 'pigskin' will always reign supreme in my mind, that black and white ball beckons my eyes....'the beautiful game' has a European hold on me.....
6:06 PM
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Born red, white and blue

The more I think about the places I've been....Italy, Germany, Korea, Switzerland, etc., the more my mind drifts back to the good ol' U.S.  To be born a United States citizen is the equivalent of hitting the life lottery.  Ok, so maybe being born in the U.K. would be a privilege, but it’s hard to beat being born an American.  

An update from my sister in Deadhorse, Alaska

This morning was the most uncomfortable weather I have experienced since I’ve been in Alaska. The temperature wasn’t bad; 22 degrees, but the wind is blowing steady at 40 mph and gusting to 52. This causes the dry, very fine snow to blow like needles across the tundra and into your skin if you are facing into it. The wind is blowing straight out of the north, into the door leading  out of my camp. It took two of us to open the door this morning. When I finally made it to my truck, the wind caught the truck door and I’m grateful I wasn’t injured. Once in, I had a tough time getting the door closed. For a minute, I thought the door hinge was sprung.

This morning was the first time I had to depend on the markers alongside the road to guide me. For about 3 miles of my trip, I was unable to see the road. The markers are reflective and spaced roughly every 25 feet on either side of the road. At best, I could see three, sometimes two. It was a little unnerving, but certainly nothing compared to the conditions I will be driving in later on and through the winter. I felt exhilarated when I finally got to work! Crazy, huh? Maybe I am more adventurous than I ever thought. I still have no plans to ride a roller coaster, ever again!

It is completely dark by 6:30 PM and doesn’t get light till around 10:00 AM. So, I am driving home in twilight and to work in darkness.

Early last week I had a scary experience. I was driving down the road, going home, and it was still daylight. I suddenly saw/felt this dark shape looming up by my window and my brain instantly recognized danger and flashed: “BEAR!” In a heartbeat, I turned and saw a raven, right at my eye level, just a couple of feet outside the window. It soared upward and floated away across the tundra. I could have run halfway home, I had so much adrenalin running through my system!

There is a red fox living under a conex close by in the compound where my office is. I see her trot across the snow to her snug hiding place when I’m leaving work, sometimes. She looks very content. They are very beautiful in winter, but not so much in the summer in their various stages of shedding. I really love seeing the Arctic Foxes, they are tiny; the size of a house cat, but beautiful, fluffy and white except for the very black eyes.

Connie from Deadhorse, Alaska

Branan Towers Resident Chased Pancho Villa in 1916

This is the transcript of the 1982 Atlanta Journal article about my paternal Grandfather,
Thomas Franklin Marshall

Branan Towers Resident Chased Pancho Villa in 1916

      Tom Marshall, tall and erect at 85, still remembers in vivid detail being dispatched from the University of Kentucky to the Texas-Mexican border in 1916.

      He was part of an organized signal company as a student. The whole company was sent to the border when President Wilson responded to a raid by Pancho Villa, the Mexican bandit and revolutionary who crossed the U.S. border in March 1916 with 400 men, raiding and burning Columbus, New Mexico, killing 16 citizens.

      “Black Jack Pershing was sent down to go into Mexico and apprehend Pancho Villa,” Mr. Marshall recalled in his Branan Towers Apartment. “Pershing took a lot of the national guard troops with him. They were all mounted, including our Signal Corps outfit.”

      There was a remount station at Ft. Bliss, Texas where the soldiers drew their horses and mules from some 150,000 animals kept there.

      A Kentucky farm boy used to horses and mules, Mr. Marshall chuckled out loud at his mental picture of the city boys in his outfit trying to ride horses for the first time.

      “Our officers had us gather our horses, saddle and bridle them and lead them out. He told us to walk around the prairie with our horses and get acquainted with them. Then he blew his whistle and told everybody to mount up. I knew my horse, he had been broken. A lot of those horses had never been broken. It was the most ridiculous sight you ever saw, arms and legs pinwheeling all over the place.”

      Fortunately the commanding officer was a good professional who “straightened us out and made a good outfit in no time,” Mr. Marshall said.

      At that time the Signal Corps used, among other things, a strange device called a heliograph by which they could telegraph signals using the sun’s rays reflected by a mirror. The area where west Texas borders New Mexico provided two perfect spots to break the world’s distance record for heliographing.

      “From Mt. Franklin we could see the Sacramento Mountains far in the distance at Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 150 miles,” Mr. Marshall recalled. His detail was assigned to take a heliograph to the Sacramento Mountains and make contact with Mt. Franklin.

      Eighteen mounted men and a wagon pulled by six mules made up the expedition. The two extra mules were added because the desert sand made pulling difficult. Their route took them through the white sands of New Mexico later famous as a testing site for the nation’s first atomic bomb.

      We went at night to avoid the heat, riding 40 minutes, dismounting and leading our horses 10 minutes and resting 10 minutes,” he said, describing the vivid whiteness of the sand and the brilliance of the stars in the dry desert night, as if he had seen it last night instead of 66 years ago.

      “It was chilly at night because of the altitude and the dry air,” he said. “We would light the tops of those dried out yucca plants in the desert to warm the night air.”

      Alamogordo was [illegible], it had a city park in the center and cottonwood trees planted along the streets with a ditch alongside carrying water to keep the cottonwoods alive, Mr. Marshall remembered.

      They made it to the mountains through sands so white an early film company had just used them for a snow scene. At a mountain peak they set up the heliograph and made contact with Mt. Franklin, setting a distance record at the time.

      He never did see Pancho Villa. It wasn’t long before the U.S. entered World War I and Tom Marshall’s unit was torpedoed on a Dutch ship named The Princess, after Queen Juliana of Holland. They did reach France, but that’s another story.

      Mr. Marshall was in charge of the machine shop at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta for many years before his retirement in 1963. He still attends the Sunday School class he taught for two decades at Lakewood United Methodist Church.

      One son is vice president of a steamship company and lives in New Jersey. His daughter lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and a second son is with a major construction company in Texas. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Geocaching the Alphabet Soup Series GC253NY

Well folks, Nebulus703 and I did all the Alphabet Soup series, plus 14 more yesterday in 7 hours.  We started at the Pond park and finished on the west end at GC194VC (Come one come all).  I goofed up and didn't load GC253px (Eager...), but we detoured way too far north and found Heme the Hunter, so we got the 40 we were after.

The weeds were even worse than described and I say that w/o exaggeration, with pollen plumes exploding around us to the point that my arms and face were yellow. There are at least 4 levels of thorns close tot he woods and the path to each cache takes you side to side to experience them, then there is an evil weed which wraps around your feet, necessitating a lift of the knee straight up repeatedly, or you will fall face first to the ground.

The bayou had at least 3 good crossing points and we took the one closest to GC252F0 (The point of no return).  I filmed Nebulus703 crossing after I made it across.  Crossing the second half of the bayou, the log broke and I plunged one foot into the water to my knee.  However, all 3 logs are doable if you have the confidence to go over the water.

I found the whole trip exhausting after the fact and slept real hard last night.  The time after I got home at 3pm was a bust and I crashed at 8pm.  I cant speak for Nebulus703, but I've had my fill of uncut power lanes.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vote Against Prop 1 - Rebuttal

AB: In response to your well received argument in favor of removing the red light cameras, I want to post a rebuttal and some suggestions.

1. “Innocent people are being ticketed, harassed, and forced to pay fines for something they didn't do just because the vehicle is in their name.” Loaning your car to people who run red lights or don't come to a complete stop before turning on a red light will result in THEM paying the fine(s). However, YOU will have to be the one to enforce that.  The bottom line is to tell them when you loan the car that they have to obey traffic laws.

2. “We are exporting over $100,000 a MONTH out-of-state. Well over a million dollars a year." Based on these numbers and the amount of money the city receives for each violation, there are an average of 20-30 cars every day of the week in violation of either running a red light, or not coming to a complete stop on the streets which have red light cameras, which incidentally are installed at the expense and maintenance of the Arizona-based company, free of charge to the city. I would say we have a major problem here, especially because of the hundreds of stop signs and red lights which do NOT have a camera. It’s called poor driving.

3. “We've outsourced our legal system. Now we need to talk to someone out of state to address something that happened in Baytown.” That company is carrying the burden of installation, equipment cost, and maintenance. If it were a Baytown owned and operated business, would you agree with the cameras?

4. “The laws are being played with to violate our rights. You are now GUILTY until you can prove your innocence.” If a cop watches you run a red light and gives you a ticket, you ARE guilty also until you represent yourself in court, regardless of the innocent until proven guilty argument. Watch one provided video of the infraction and you will readily see it is obvious the car did not stop.

5. “Running red lights have been changed from a moving violation to a non-moving violation (to circumvent the law).” After getting a ticket, most people would see this as a plus, since their insurance doesn’t go up and they don’t have to take DE.

6.” It is WAY too convenient to issue a ticket now. Press a button and someone gets a ticket. Quality control is out the window. Yeah, someone REVIEWS the footage, then pushes a button and tickets get sent out.” It’s my understanding 3 different people review the video. If there is a shadow of a doubt, it is discarded. I’ve watched 2 now and it is so obvious, it disarms argument of right and wrong. I can’t speak of the ease of the operation as to whether this is a bad thing, or good.

Conclusion: The bottom line is somewhere between 600-700 people per month are without a doubt running a red light, or not stopping completely before turning at the relatively few camera covered intersections in Baytown. There is no telling how many thousands of times it happens in the city limits and no cop is present or no accountability.

DS: In response to your well received argument in favor of removing the red light cameras, I want to post a rebuttal and some suggestions.

“No, I can't vote FOR Big Brother. If CITY COUNCIL had entered into this agreement in all honesty then perhaps I'd think differently, but THESE clowns KNEW they were screwing us with their freakin SHORT yellow lights. I've got a good idea, let's sue THEM and make MILLIONS!!!!!Oh....and put these clowns in JAIL where they belong. Seriously, folks. Let's NOT let these idiots rule our world. We are all intelligent enough to drive safely down Garth Road. City Council needs to have their own bank accounts audited. Thank YOU!! “

I am also very distrusting of “Big Brother” - a reference to George Orwell’s great book ‘1984’. However, having an automated device at an intersection, which is monitored by a human being after an infraction, is hardly in this day and age something I am wary of. I also would not be suspicious of an automated device which determined the red light frequency based on how many cars (or lack of cars) before it changed and this without human oversight.

I can’t speak for City council’s veracity in this matter, or if they are clowns (they don’t appear to be), or if they deliberately set some of the yellow light intervals shorter to make more money. I also have no intention of suing them and making millions. In response that we are “all intelligent enough to drive safely down Garth Road” it is readily apparent that every single day in Baytown, somewhere between 20 to 30 unintelligent people are not and this is only the ones who are caught by a red light camera. I imagine BPD catches a few every day also, but I can’t say, as I don’t have the numbers.

And lastly, I imagine auditing City council’s bank accounts is beyond the scope of my original argument.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Vote against Prop 1 in Baytown!

Back on September 10th, 2007, I stood as the spokesman for the Baytown Concerned Citizens group and spoke to the police department, our concerned citizens, city council, and with the media and pleaded with them to address the speeding and traffic violations as a top priority.  My exact phrasing was "stop it by hook or crook".

The red light cameras are a direct result of this. Thus I am voting against Prop 1. I want to keep the red light cameras.

The reason people are running red lights and taking rolling turns on red lights is because they are not paying attention, distracted, and careless drivers, plus they are endangering everyone, especially children (I had to throw that in, as that is always the trump card, but true none the less).

The BCC as a whole, which it appears is not exactly the same as it was 3 years ago, is still and should be a logical approach to crime, but to some, the red light cameras are viewed much the same way a stop sign was, back in the day when they first appeared.  ("What?  Who says I have to stop?").  They are not taking away our rights, but are an enforcement tool and for most of us, the $75 fine is adequate enough to make us pay attention.

BPD cannot be everywhere at once, so it falls upon us law-abiding citizens to do our part and actually drive the way it was taught in driver’s education.  Stop talking on the cell phone, eating hamburgers, and digging through our purses and pockets while we are watch-out for all those people who don't and there won’t be a single violation on the law-abiding driver.

I DO NOT want to go back to the old system addressed in September 2007, where the chances are excellent that a cop is not going to be present when a red light/right turn violator runs through with impunity and make no mistake about it, that is exactly what will happen.

Take any weekday on the streets of Baytown and take the time to park and watch what goes on at any of our busy intersections and I promise you will see a constant flow of violations, even with the red light cameras.

The cameras are not the problem...distracted drivers are.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gilbert S. Marshall Obituary

Gilbert Stivers Marshall, 82, of Dayton, Texas, known as Gil and better known by his close friends and family as “Fishy”, because of his love of the water and fishing, passed away silently and painlessly September 24, 2010 after a lengthy illness, surrounded by his wife and loving family.

Gilbert was born 24 August 1928 in Irvine, Kentucky at home to Thomas and Nell Marshall.  Gil from early childhood dreamed of travel and lived the life of a pathfinder throughout much of his life.  Serving honorably in the US Navy as a Machinist Mate and during and following WWII he traveled across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe and was a walking encyclopedia of information on geography and many other subjects.

Always the pioneer visionary, he shunned commercialized amusement and instead took his family on adventures like panning for gold in the Rockies, hiking the trails of the American ranges and forests, hunting and fishing the choicest of lakes, ponds, and streams, searching rock quarries for fossils, roaming Americas deserts for exotic wildlife, and venturing from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Salt lake, the Texas Gulf coast and the waters of the Great lakes.

Gilbert spent much of his life as an expert Tool and Die maker in machine shops across the country.  He was heavily involved in the development of the Lockheed C5A project in Marietta, Georgia and the F4E project at McDonnell-Douglass in St. Louis, Mo. and in later years a “Gold Hat” for Brown & Root in the Middle East as a Pipe Superintendent.

Gilbert is preceded in death by his parents and grandson Sgt. Nick Marshall.  He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marian, his daughter, Connie Byrd (Michael), sons, Bert Marshall (Sandra), Gordon Marshall (Cindy), Terry Marshall (Debbie) and Bruce Marshall (Linda), his brother Harry Marshall (Mary) and sister Jean Koglman (Johnny), along with many loving grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Never the one to be selfish with his life, Gilbert asked to have his body donated to science and then cremated.  A memorial service will be held at Christmas for friends and family.  The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and love in this difficult time and celebration of his life.  Bubba, you did good.

For those desiring, memorial donations may be made to Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Bayland Guards Historical Marker project

I finally had time to put all of this together!  If anyone has photos of the event, please send them my way and I'll add them to the pages.  In this photo, the Bayland Honor Guard - Living history actors salute the marker with an old cannon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One American is Evidently Worth 8 Iranians!

.Ahmadinejad Wants Release of Iranians Held in U.S.
Published: September 19, 2010

"One of the three American hikers held in Iran for 13 months on spying charges arrived in the United States on Sunday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the United States, as "a humanitarian gesture," should now release eight Iranians whom he said were illegally arrested."
Here's my take and you can call it Redneck Texan, if you want: Now that is some fancy math, President Ahmadinejad.  When I saw this headline, I couldn't see how many he wanted us to release for it to be considered a fair exchange, but somehow, I already knew the answer... it would be ridiculous. 

I'll answer for President Obama "Okay, here's one Iranian.  Got any more Americans, cause I got more Iranians"?
Evidently, one American has the same value as eight of his own countrymen.  Don't call me a hater - he said it, I didn't.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bayland Guards Marker Installed Today!

This in from Larry Houston:  Bert was instrumental in arranging funding for a new historical marker in Baytown, commemorating the Bayland Guards. The unveiling was this morning. 
Top 2 photos by Larry Houston.  The man in the red shirt is Darrell Bailey - Total Petrochemicals Manager.  The lady in the aqua blouse is Harris County Historical Commission's Trevia Wooster Beverly.

The marker on the right is one of Bert's earlier efforts.

Wybra Wooster Holland sent these 2 photos in:

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