Sunday, July 27, 2008

Group needs help to get kids ready for school

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

More than 300 students from the Belton school district need your help. And the deadline is fast approaching.
'School supplies are needed, yes,' said Jeannette Kelley, founder of Project Appletree, a program that has worked for 10 years to make sure that the start of school is a happy time for children from low-income families. 'But we also need sponsors for these 300 kids who signed up for new outfits.'
Project Appletree students receive a pair of jeans, a shirt, undergarments, a pair of shoes and socks in addition to the things like crayons, scissors and notebook paper. All of the items are new.
'It's the older kids who are harder to get sponsors for,' Ms. Kelley said. 'It's because it's so expensive, with the sizes being bigger. But every year, we've had every child be sponsored, so I know it'll happen again.'

Teachers go to class in the garden

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Don't let them fool you, kids.
Teachers get shushed too when it's time for them to pay attention.
It took some effort to refocus the 24 teachers after break time during the July 23 class at the Bell County Extension Office. Their excited chatter was focused on the morning's activities.
From 14 area schools, the teachers were there to learn from Bell County Master Gardeners. Covering topics from vermiculture to rain water harvesting, class sessions started July 22 and continued through July 25. It was the second annual Junior Master Gardener Teacher Training.

Firefighters provide supplies for Temple school

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Firemen show up when needed regardless of whether there's flames.
The Temple Professional Firefighter Association, Local 846 agreed to sponsor the 15 children who were without Backpack Buddies.
'Last week we were contacted by Jefferson Elementary and asked to help 15 more students from their school,' said Carol Lynch, coordinator of the Backpack Buddies, a ministry by Churches Touching Lives for Christ that works to provide low-income students with new school supplies and backpacks each year.
Another 15 needed to be added to the 1,100 students already on the list.
'It doesn't sound like a lot, but all our churches had already committed to helping all they could,' Ms. Lynch said.

The King will rock forever in small Mississippi town

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

TUPELO, Miss. - Go up three brown steps.
A porch swing sways on your left. To the right, you can see a church across the sidewalk.
Straight ahead, the screen door of a white house hangs open.
It's not big or fancy, but that's the building Elvis never left. It's where the King was born.
---
A treat for a road trip fiend, my time at the Birthplace of Elvis Presley wasn't planned.
The excursion to Tupelo was a spontaneous affair. It occurred on my second day of meeting the in-laws - err, my boyfriend's relatives.
We had just finished up an afternoon of fishing, a.k.a. feeding crickets to catfish, at a pond in nearby Pontotoc. The conversation focused on what to do next.
'I guess we could go to Tupelo,' said Ricky Parks, my boyfriend's dad. 'That's the place where Elvis Presley was born, you know.'
I squealed in response to the offer. I'd already been to Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tenn., and to several 'Heartbreak Hotels' - the one in Memphis and a couple of others in Las Vegas and South Dakota. So for consistency's sake, I had to go.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mom turns loss into help for others: Aquatics instructor wants to make sure another baby doesn't drown

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

There are two sides to the swimming hole.
It can be the quick fix to a long, hot summer day. But year after year, it has been a place that children and babies die.
Drowning can happen as easy as a stubbed toe. Anatasia Dewald knows that to be true in a way that no parent should ever have to experience.
In June 2005, the bodies of her 23 ½-month-old twins, Devin and Conner, were found face down in a pool.
'They were at a licensed daycare. I took them to daycare one day a week, so that I could work,' said Ms. Dewald of Copperas Cove. 'The person who was supposed to be watching them decided to take a nap.'
So Ms. Dewald's babies - who were conceived via the expensive, lengthy process of in vitro fertilization - went unwatched.
'It was an above-ground pool. It had a gate, but it wasn't latched,' Ms. Dewald said. 'The twins got outside. The gate was open. They drowned.'
Counseling has helped her manage her grief and anger. Her need to 'find a positive in the negative' inspired her to become what she is today - an aquatic skills instructor for infants.
'I had to do something,' Ms. Dewald said. 'There would never be any justice as I saw it.'

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wedding fee increases, but premarital course waives it

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

It's kind of like a get-out-of-jail free card, except you end up married.
Come Sept. 1, the state fee for marriage licenses will double from $30 to $60. But there's a way not to pay.
Nuptial-minded Texans can choose to take an eight-hour premarital education course to qualify for a fee waiver.
Called the Twogether in Texas Healthy Marriage Program, the law's goal is to save taxpayers money.
'With the frequency of divorce and the problems we have with marriage in this state, it's time somebody addressed the problem,' said the law's author, State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, in a recent address to Austin legislators.
With 80,000 divorces each year, Texas spends at least $8 billion in family-fragmentation programs, according to a study conducted in 2006 by Georgia College.
'It's a taxation issue. If we can promote healthy marriages, then the cost of entitlement programs will be reduced,' said Christen Wohlgemuln, Chisum's legislative director. 'Good, solid marriages will save taxpayers money in programs that cater to broken-up families like welfare, Medicaid and food stamps.'
To accomplish the goal, Twogether will look to premarital education in the form of an eight-hour, skill-based course. The benefits of such programs, Ms. Wohlgemuln said, have long been recognized and documented in social research.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Army man finds pease with bonsai

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Thou shall not ignore thy tree.
If there were to be an 11th commandment, Ian Toland would say it should be something like that.
And he wouldn't be joking.
Trees are serious business at Toland's Killeen home.
For 10 years, he has dedicated two hours a day to the maintenance of his 125 bonsai trees.
'That's how I end my day - out with the bonsais,' Toland said. 'I like it that way.'
Tending to them caters to his desire to be outdoors.
'Never did I think I'd have to work at an inside job,' Toland said, referring to his position as database administrator for the Killeen school district.
After eight years, Toland still is adjusting to life behind a desk. He misses his outdoor work - the years he was a mechanic and in the U.S. Army.
'I'd still be working on cars if it wasn't for my shoulder,' Toland said, explaining the injury that prompted early retirement from the Army.
But he isn't bitter over the predicament. If it never took place, he would have never discovered the art of bonsai.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hobby sparkles in TV contest

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

The time is ticking. She's got until midnight to get what she wants.
No, this story is not about a woman with a Cinderella complex, but it is a story about a woman who makes jewelry fit for a princess.
Dori Benner of Temple, owner of Dreamshadow Designs, is one of the top 50 finalists in a jewelry design contest sponsored by cable's Jewelry Television. Open until 11:59 p.m. tonight, online voting at www.jtvdesigncontest.com will determine the winner.
To vote, the user should go to the site and click on the necklace image above Ms. Benner's name. That necklace is the design that earned Ms. Benner her place in the contest.