It’s time to silence ignorance

The right to freedom of speech and expression has been a hot topic in the media lately. The privilege to speak our opinions and beliefs without the fear of government reprisal is critical to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness all people are entitled to as provided by our Creator.

The right to responsibly share publicly one’s opinions or to express oneself in protest or grievance is a privilege protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. However, failure to understand the tenets of the First Amendment can cause the uninformed to create chaos or even injury to silence those whose perspectives don’t align with their own.

According to a poll conducted by the Brookings Institute, a non-profit public policy research firm, a “concerning number” of college students “lack essential knowledge” about what’s protected under the First Amendment.


Aunt Sandi’s Baked Beans

I won’t it’s possible that just SMELLING these beans can add ten pounds to your waistband. It’s so worth it, though. Sizzling bacon, spicy garlic and dark brown sugar blend to make a delicious dish that people would sell their souls for. Ok, maybe not that far, but almost. Aunt Sandi made these for us and we have never loved her more. We’re really loyal people, especially when you cook for us.

Aunt Sandi’s Best Baked Beans

One pound thick cut bacon
2 large cans Busch’s Baked Beans
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder


The Journey Back to Normal

The devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is profound. The material loss is staggering and the loss of life is heartbreaking. I imagine it will take months for those affected by the storms to regain some sense of normalcy.

Unfortunately, as the survivors of this tragedy work to regain stability in their lives, life selfishly moves on. As it relates to education, students, teachers and administrators will need to return to the classroom soon. Class must continue even if survivors aren’t ready.

There are countless efforts underway to ensure students’ practical needs are met as they weather the aftermath of the storm. They will have fresh water, food and clothing, but their needs don’t end there. Many students will return to school with emotional needs that may never be addressed outside of school.


Better than Nana's chicken

A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 28th anniversary. That's a long time, but it's not so long that I haven't forgotten my experiences as a new bride. I had managed to keep a closely held secret: I didn't know how to cook. Not a clue.

My new husband loved me so much he managed to fake enthusiasm when I tried my hand at homemade biscuits. They were horrible, partially because I overdid it on the baking soda and they were way too salty. This combined with the fact that I tried to compensate for their saltiness by NOT salting the gravy made the whole thing a disaster.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Somehow he managed to choke down my cooking, but it became painfully evident that I needed to learn to cook, quick, before we both starved to death.

That's where Lee's little old Italian grandmother, Rae (short for Rafael) came into play.


College Pantry Essentials: Preparing for your rodeo

You know how people say, “This ain’t my first rodeo?” I always thought that expression was sort of lame, but as I help my son pack for college, I can’t stop seeing the similarities.

It’s dusty.

There’s lots of pageantry.

It’s a lot more expensive than you think.

It’s messy and wonderful all at the same time.

There’s a young bull just busting out of the pen. There’s blood and sweat and tears (mostly from me).

There are always, always clowns of some sort.

But raising a kid? My time raising this child seems suddenly down to 8 seconds—or even less.


Grand Opening of new school facilities, “Meet the Teacher” set for Saturday

Standing in front of the Administration Building and surveying the damage on the morning of May 11, 2015, it was hard for me to imagine that this day would ever come to fruition but it has and it is amazing to see what has been accomplished in the last 27 months.

The new J.E. Rhodes Elementary School is 100% complete. Our teachers are currently working hard in their rooms and getting everything ready for the day that our students come back to school on Tuesday, Aug. 22.


Back to the Routine

It’s that time already. Summer breaks seem to be shorter than ever although the number of days off has not changed. It’s back to school season which can be good or bad depending on your perspective. The time has come to prepare for the inevitable return to school. If we start right now, we can have our students back on school schedules and ready for the first day of school. The following suggestions can be helpful as Summer Breaks wind down.



Why Texas should worry about heavy-handed government

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Lower state taxes have never been a free lunch.I remember watching the 2006-‘07 legislative session as a school board member — granted, I was much more naive then — but I believed our legislators were supporting public education and wanting to do what was best for all taxpayers.It made a flawed attempt at property tax cuts — and anyone involved in the fight then knew it. By compressing a school district’s maintenance and operations rate and forcing school boards to hold elections for tax increases, the Legislature could indeed boast of a $7 billion savings over two years.

The Legislature intended to supplant lost school revenues with funds generated through state business franchise taxes, also known as the “hold harmless tax.” However, there were predictable problems: The price of oil dropped as sales taxes declined. Small business’ dislike for the franchise tax led current lawmakers to cut this income.



Keeping eyes wide open as VZC Grand Jury Foreman

On June 21, I completed one of the most eye-opening and rewarding experiences that I have ever had as I finished a six-month term serving as the foreman for the Van Zandt County Grand Jury.

When I received my jury summons soon after the Christmas holidays in early January, I did not pay a whole lot of attention to the “fine print” on the summons notice.

I knew that I had an appointed time and date to report to VZC District Judge Teresa Drum’s court for what I thought at the time was going to be a petit jury trial selection.

When I arrived in the district courtroom at the VZC Courthouse in Canton, myself and 40 other individuals who showed up that day were informed by the judge that the selection involved picking individuals to serve on the VZC Grand Jury.

Out of the 40 citizens present in the courtroom, VZC District Judge Teresa Drum announced that there would be 12 individuals and two alternates that would be chosen to serve on the VZC Grand Jury.


Dunn anticipating another busy summer at Van ISD

We are looking at another very busy summer. Believe it or not, this summer may even be busier than the summer following the tornado. While the work done during the summer of 2015 was mostly reactionary, this summer is filled with coordination and exact deadlines. The only thing both have in common is the hard and fast date for completion of August 1.

Everything must be finished by this date in order to turn our buildings over to our teachers so they can prepare their rooms for the first day of school. Here is the list of items we are working to complete by August 1:


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