Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You can be a busy body, in life and death

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

From playing basketball to getting married, there are a lot of things to do in life.
But what about after you die?
Granted, not much happens to your body after that last breath, but there are some choices you can make now that will put your body to good use.
Liza Anne DeNeice, of Orchard, is one person who’s opted to forgo the traditional burial.
“I want my bones to be a skeleton at a Texas A&M lab,” DeNeice said. “After my back and knee surgeries, there are bound to be some neat things to look at.”
The 52-year-old woman was smiling as she talked, but she wasn’t joking.
“There’s just no sense in rotting,” she said.
She’s already shared her plans with her family and is in the process of completing the necessary paperwork.
Her family has accepted her decision.
“I thought it was a little weird at first,” said DeNeice’s daughter, Jamie Belknap, of Houston. “But the idea makes her happy. And she’s always been into re-using and recycling, so in a way, it’s fitting to who she is. I’ll be happy to see that her wish is carried through.”
This topic is not meant to take away from the joy of Christmas. It’s just something to think about so wills are updated for the New Year.
So here are some ways you can put your body to use after you die.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Teen chefs cook for Habitat volunteers

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

Building a house – that’s hard work, work that can make a man hungry.
Dec. 15 at noon, nobody knew that better than Chuck Dawson, of Georgetown. He’d been up since 7 a.m., working on the Habitat for Humanity house at 504 S. Doak St. in Taylor. And he was hungry.
“Oh, just let me look at a picture of food,” Dawson said, rubbing his belly. “I’ll salivate at that.”
His lunch was a little late.
Taylor High School’s Culinary II class was preparing a spaghetti lunch for the Habitat for Humanity volunteer crew, but their work was about half an hour behind schedule.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Relay for Life has plans for new year

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

Taylor’s Relay for Life committee is set and ready to go for the New Year.
Taking the helm as event chair in 2011 is Tammy Patin, a woman who was raised in Taylor but now lives in Leander. Strong emotions and the need to contribute to the fight against cancer inspired her to get involved.
“I took on this responsibility after losing my grandfather to cancer in August,” Patin said. “I also lost my father-in-law, grandmother and uncle to cancer. So the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life event is very dear to my heart and so is raising money to find a cure for that horrible disease.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Taylor’s honored as a National Main Street

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

Hundreds flocked to the Christmas bazaar earlier this year, stocking up on baked goodies, homemade decorations and all things crafty. Who was behind all the holiday hubbub? It wasn’t elves.
The efforts of the Main Street program, responsible for putting on the bazaar as well as events throughout the year like Zest Fest, have not gone unnoticed.
Last month, the Texas Historical Commission and the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Taylor as one of the 52 National Main Street Cities in Texas for 2011.
“It’s a fabulous honor,” said Deby Lannen, manager of the Taylor Main Street Program.

Volunteers sought to deliver

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

If there’s a blank spot on your New Year’s resolution list, consider filling it with the pledge to become a volunteer.
One group that could use the extra help is Taylor’s Meals on Wheels. The program provides food and company to the area’s home-bound senior citizens.
“We need help for the whole year,” said coordinator Verna Guajardo, explaining that the efforts of the Meals on Wheels crew are non-stop. “The seniors need their lunches everyday, and the area we cover is broad.”
The group services the Taylor, Thrall and Bartlett areas.
“That makes five different routes,” Guajardo said.
Making stops Monday through Friday, the local Meals on Wheels team managed to deliver a total of 17,925 lunches in 2010.
Naomi Pasemann, of Taylor, has volunteered with the group for five years, and she said the work is rewarding.
“It’s a grand experience, so I’d encourage anyone to be a part of it,” Pasemann said. “It’s a way to see a people be helped, and it’s right here in Taylor.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taylor band makes good impression at regional contest

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

December has turned out to be a good month for Taylor High School’s Duck Band.
Their run of recent success started Dec. 11 when they auditioned for the state’s All Region Band.
“That’s where the top students from the different bands in Texas come together to compete,” said Jacques Brown, THS band director. “It’s a contest run by the Association of Texas Small School Bands, and this year it took place at Smithville High School.
Of the 19 Taylor band students who auditioned, 13 earned spots on the All Region Band.
The winners include Ashley Bengston, Kyle Bohac, Taylor Bryant, Nathan Dunn, Lorellye Graham, Amy Janecka, Travis Kovar, Diane Lepe, Elric Martinez, Andrea Navarro, Stephen Svatek, Julie Polasek and Josh Villarreal.
As All Region Band members, those 13 students will have the chance to spend a weekend at Texas State University in Waco.
“They’ll be rehearsing for a big concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 22,” Brown said.
But the success story doesn’t end there.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Youngsters ring charity bells

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

“Thank you and Merry Christmas!”
Those are four simple words, but they have a world of meaning to Stephanie Richardson, a 13-year-old student from Taylor Middle School.
“It’s a good thing to see people donate,” Stephanie said as she rang a Salvation Army holiday bell. “It’s nice to watch them put money in for kids.”
She knows exactly what kind of good that money can provide.
“There was one year when we, my two brothers and sister, didn’t have nothing,” Stephanie said. “But the Salvation Army made sure we had stuff for Christmas. And it was wonderful.”
That’s why she volunteered to brave the cold wind and man a Salvation Army post last Thursday night outside of the Walmart in Taylor.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soldiers come home, families overjoyed

By TOMIE PARKS
Staff writer

It was a camouflaged Christmas Saturday. Literally.
Dozens of Army bags and holiday decorations decked the halls at the Texas Army National Guard armory in Taylor as a crowd of about 100 awaited the homecoming of the Guard’s Alpha Troop.
“The luggage made it to Taylor before the troop did,” said Lila Beard, of Austin, the troop’s family readiness group leader. “They’re all coming home from Iraq.”
The 63 Army duffels didn’t have to wait long for their owners, though.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hunter’s greatest trophies call him Grandpa

By TOMIE PARKS
Contributing Writer to the July 2010 issue of Texas Wildlife

To Alvin Dusek, the thrill of the hunt is second only to the thrill of being Grandpa.
“And when you put them together, you’ve got one heck of a day,” he said.
The 76-year-old TWA member lives in Temple, but he spends most “good weather days” at the 16-acre spread of land he owns in Belton. He calls it The Ponderosa. “It’s a nice place for dove hunting in the fall, and down the road in Holland is a good spot for fishing,” he said.
But he’s rarely got the place to himself. With seven grandchildren, he’s got plenty of overnight guests. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dusek said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New byline

All of my future articles will be published under the byline of Tomie Parks.
I married Brandon "Rusty" Parks of Austin on March 14. It was a fabulous ceremony, and we are happy to be newlyweds. See some pictures at http://juneblossomphotography.com/2010/03/25/tomie-rustys-wedding-the-caswell-house-austin-tx/.
I will change the blog title after my new byline makes its debut.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Updated résumé

Tomie V. Parks
 tomie.parks@gmail.com

Triple Q Questions, June 2010-present, contract content provider
• Submit, edit and rewrite quiz bowl material for U.S. school districts
Taylor Daily Press, Dec. 2011-Jan. 2011, assistant lifestyles editor
• Generated quality news and feature stories.
Temple Daily Telegram, July 2006-February 2010, assistant lifestyles editor
• Generated quality news and feature stories.
• Stories consistently published throughout Texas via the Associated Press (See Appendix A).
• Managed content and design of daily lifestyle pages and weekend feature sections.
• Maintained online content for lifestyle section. 
• End-stage copy editor for daily and weekend feature sections. 
Galveston County Daily News, March 2005-May 06, editorial assistant
• Responsible for content and design of weekly Applause tab. Duties included writing feature stories, editing copy and maintaining community calendars
El Campo Leader-News, July 2004-January 05, reporter
• Generated news and feature stories for twice-weekly newspaper. Beats were crime, education, agriculture and religion.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Retired nurse gets dose of joy at clinic

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

'You do what you can, when you can and all that you can because someday you might not be able to.'
That's the motto of Theda Maxfield, the 2010 Temple Community Free Clinic Volunteer of the Year.
'It's the way I was raised, and it's how I've lived my life,' she said.
It's also what makes Mrs. Maxfield a powerful volunteer.
'She is dependable,' said clinic director Connie Minnick. 'Every week, she's here until the last patient leaves.'
That dedication, Mrs. Maxfield said, is the stuff of a nurse.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Not all Christians celebrate prelude to Easter

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

This time of year is about Lent.
And people are talking about 'giving up' stuff; it could be anything from meat to treats.
Those who follow the tradition know what its about. But to those outside the faith - like the TV host who recently mistook Vice President Joe Biden's ashes for a bruise - the rituals and traditions are a bit of a mystery.
To help explain the yearly occurrence, the Telegram did some research and compiled this list of facts about Lent.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Club thanks community volunteers

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Nothing shows love of community more than volunteer work.
The City Federation of Women's Clubs knows this to be true.
'Volunteering is what we're about,' said president Judy Scarborough at the City Federation's Feb. 9 meeting. 'We aim to do what we can when we can.'
That was her introduction to the club's annual distribution of the Community Volunteer Awards. The 2010 recipients are Federation member Jean Nolen of Temple and Shawn Shannon of Belton, the director of the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
'These two women are out in the community giving their time for the betterment of others,' said Aliceanne Wallace, co-chair of the Volunteer Award committee. 'They don't do it because they expect anything back. They do it because they enjoy the work and because they see value in it.'

Fashion show will focus on prom

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Prom can make or break a girl's high school experience.
So to help Bell County girls have the best prom they can, the upcoming Day for Women event will showcase the newest trends in prom wear.
'The most popular thing, by far, this year is the one-shoulder prom dress,' said Patti Halbert, owner of After 5 Formal Wear in Robinson. 'And the trend's not just limited to prom. It's showing up in dresses for other special occasions too, like holidays and birthday parties.'

Chinese new year comes roaring in

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Today isn't just about kisses between Valentines.
For the Chinese culture, it's the start of a new year: the Year of the Tiger.
'According to the Zodiac, Tigers are aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive,' said Alicia Go of Temple, a woman of full Chinese descent. 'They are also emotional, willful and likely to rebel.'
These traits are, supposedly, good for boys born in the Year of the Tiger.
'But it's not good news for girls,' Mrs. Go said. 'The Chinese culture says that's bad luck.'
Luck, superstition and the lunar calendar are intertwined in the Chinese Zodiac. It's the astrology that makes it so.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Church plants roots on 'holy' highway

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

There's a new church in town, and it's congregation hopes to become a part of the 'Highway of Holiness' that is Interstate 35.
'We wanted to be on the highway,' said the Rev. Gary Pemberton, pastor at Water Life Christian Center at 5106 S. General Bruce Drive in Temple. 'Not just because of the exposure, but because of what God is doing there. He wanted us to be on I-35.'
Pemberton's not alone in believing that I-35 has divine preference. In the 'Light of the Highway' movement that caught the media's attention in 2007, hundreds of people claimed I-35 to be the road referenced in Isaiah 35:8.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On my honor... Boys salute a century of Scouting

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

A boy's not a Scout for the awards or weekly meetings.
'We're in it for the adventure,' said 18-year-old Bryan Walker of Belton Troop No. 153. 'There's camping, hiking, shooting - everything.'
The activities are numerous, agreed the older Dwight Jekel of Cameron, who was a Scout in the '50s and '60s.
'There's more than 120 merit badges a boy can earn by learning and doing,' Jekel said.
But that's not the real adventure.
'It's the growing up that happens in between,' Jekel said. 'You start as a boy and leave a man.'
He's seen it happen dozens of times, first to himself and then to the boys he led as troop guide.
'It never fails,' Jekel said. 'You watch a boy come in. He knows nothing and is scared of everything, but when, he leaves, he's competent, able and self-reliant.'
This magic is the crux of the Boy Scouts of America - and Monday, it will be 100 years old.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

No stall left unturned: College uses 'reading time' to educate

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Toilet stalls have a pretty specific purpose.
You go in, let nature run its course, wash your hands and go about your day, right?
There's not much else to do in there, unless you have a book or cell phone at easy access.
At least, that's what I used to think.
A recent trip to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton changed my mind. I took a bathroom break that gave me a giggle and taught me a few things about studying habits and sleep patterns.
It wasn't a joke or cheat note scrawled on the stall wall.
It was what every UMHB student and professor sees when a potty is needed: the latest issue of the Stall Street Journal. Its trademark is its icon, a human-like toilet that's got a wide grin on its face.

Cancer's no match for laughter, love

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

She was 39 when the doctor told her she had breast cancer.
'I was like 'OK,' ' said D'Anne Willis of Lampasas, the luncheon speaker for the Feb. 20 Day for Women program at the Frank Mayborn center in Temple. 'Let's do what we need to get it fixed.'
The professional musician and comedian said she was a good patient.
'I sailed through it,' Mrs. Willis said. 'I passed with flying colors.'
That was in 1997.
'The second time the doctor told me I had breast cancer is a completely different story,' Mrs. Willis said. 'It was several years later in 2001, and I thought I had paid my dues.'
She was angry.
'I was like, 'What's the deal, God?' I questioned my faith and held Him accountable for everything that was going wrong,' Mrs. Willis said. 'I got very sick, I withdrew from all my friends and left my job. I was a hermit.'

Saturday, January 30, 2010

La la la menopause: Group sings, laughs and prays about 'the change'

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Night sweats, mood swings and headaches.
Menopause is a bother.
'But it sure can be funny,' said Cheryl Morrison of Katy.
She's one of three Hot Flashes who travel the state with Minnie Pause, singing and joking about 'the change' that every woman eventually endures.
Billed as Minnie Pause and the Hot Flashes, the group's got a Feb. 6 date with First Baptist Church of Temple. The ladies will give a concert they say the town will never forget.
'We are so excited,' said Marci Gaglione of Temple. 'I hope they are as funny and uplifting as they sound because we all could really use that right now.'
Like so many others from the congregation, Ms. Gaglione is still recovering from the shock of the Jan. 19 fire that destroyed FBC's sanctuary.
'So this comes as welcome program,' Ms. Gaglione said. 'It'll be a good chance to let go a little bit and have some fun.'

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Patriotic pastime: Woman crochets American flags

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Just give her a hook and some yarn, and she's set.
'I love to crochet,' said Ethel Slusher of Belton. 'I've done it all. You name it, I've crocheted it.'
Her list of accomplishments includes a crocheted christening gown for her great-grandson and a crocheted version of the nativity scene.
But this month it's the American flag that has her attention. For the last few weeks, she's been creating a full-length afghan that sports all the beauty and grandeur of Old Glory.
'Red, white and blue, it's all there,' Ms. Slusher said.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

God bridges gender, race gap

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Race and gender do not define African American women.
'More than anything, it's faith that binds us,' said Shirley Walker, a 17-year social work professor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. 'As a group, spirituality is something that is very much a part of us. It goes all the way back to slavery. The ability to get through it came from God.'
That's the premise of an article she wrote for 'Advances in Developing Human Resources,' a publication of the Academy of Human Resource Development, a professional organization for scholars and business people.
Published in the October 2009 issue, her piece was one of eight that spoke to the theme of 'African American Women in Leadership.'
'The other articles dealt with the scholarly definitions of leadership and the practical applications in the work place,' Ms. Walker said. 'Mine focused more on what leadership is to me as an African American woman.'
She listed the abilities to communicate, manage and persuade as common attributes to successful leaders.
'Those things are important, yes, but it's not what leadership is,' Ms. Walker said. 'It's God, and it's faith. He presents a door of opportunity to you, and if you have faith in Him, you open and walk through it.'

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plants are at the root of Fort Hood history

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Soldiers aren't the only ones who roam the grounds of Fort Hood.
There are ornithologists, botanists and archaeologists too.
'They are professionals who study and document the kinds of life at the Army post,' said ornithologist Gil Eckrich, outreach spokesman for the Fort Hood Natural Resources Division.
Sometimes it's an animal species that catches their attention.
'Winter's a prime time for bird watching,' Eckrich said. 'That's why I work Sundays this time of year, so I can come out and take pictures of them.'
But more often, it's the plant life that intrigues Eckrich and his co-workers in the Natural Resources department.
'Especially the plants that aren't native to Fort Hood,' Eckrich said. 'We can't help but wonder where they came from and how they got here.'

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1880s photograph sets professor on the trail of a feminist Muslim

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

The professor loves to read, but it wasn't a word that caught his attention.
It was a picture of a man and his wife.
'Obviously staged,' said George Gawrych, a history professor at Baylor University in Waco. 'But what it showed was striking.'
The photo was of an Albanian couple, dated to the early 1880s.
'The way they are posed, it shows equality and respect,' Gawrych said. 'That notion was rare and controversial at that time.'
Intrigued, the professor researched the lives of the couple: the Albanian Semseddin Sami and his Turkish wife Emine Veliye. He learned they were Muslim.
'But her head is uncovered,' Gawrych said. 'That's a subtle but definite statement on how that man felt about his wife. To him, she was his partner. Her unveiled face puts her on even ground with him.'

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Local men mix up a hobby of the mind, palate

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

There's nothing like a good hobby.
'It gives you something to do,' said Earl Soudelier of Gatesville. 'And it keeps you foucsed and active.'
From gardening to woodwork, anything can be a hobby.
'Whatever it is, it's got to interest you,' said Charles Smith of Temple. 'And then as you pursue it, the hobby becomes an individualized art.'
For Smith and Soudelier, wine is their hobby.
'It's such a beautiful thing to make,' Smith said.
'Yes,' Soudelier said. 'And, for me, it's an endorphin rush when I have people over and they specifically ask for something I made. It's a real ego boost.'