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:


Ready, set, dream

Kids nowadays don't have a chance to daydream. They always have an iPhone or a smartphone or some other electronic device attached to their hands.

Free-floating ideas don't have a chance. And free thought is where great ideas come from. Do you think Copernicus would be a household word if he'd had a laptop? Or that Einstein would have made a dent in our collective consciousness if he had had access to an Android? Or that Edison would have brought light into our lives if he knew about texting?


City administrator discusses recent Vandal Service Day in Van ISD

This month’s article has been the hardest one for me to write to date so far for the Banner.

I was going to use this month’s article to rant about the State and Federal Government and their lack of ability to get things done to help the citizens but I realized by doing that, then I would be following in their footsteps of not doing anything constructive and just adding to the negativity that is being pushed in our great country.

When I write these articles, I do not want to just ramble like I tend to do at times when talking about things or continuously repeat the same things over and over from month to month.

To read the full article, subscribe to the Van Banner or pick up a copy from one of our vendors.


Celebrating Easter

Easter: The Oxford dictionary defines Easter as the “most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

It is held, in the Western Church, between March 21 and April 25, on the first Sunday, after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox. These celebrations include special church services, musicals and performances of the Passion play.

In a less religious tone, we encounter Easter egg hunts, Easter parades and new clothes to mark the holiday. So mix up a batch of dye and put those beautiful colored eggs in your Easter basket!

Remember, Friday's Storytime will not take place April 14. The library is closed in observance of Good Friday and Easter. Storytime will resume April 21.


Tablets for Disaster

For most older folks, the word “tablet” brings to mind some kind of vitamin. For younger folks, a “tablet” looks like an overgrown cell phone. This is the kind of tablet we’ll talk about here.

A tablet is an electronic box into which I can place numerous digital tools called “apps” – short for “applications” or small computer programs. A tablet is basically a small computer with a “touch screen,” meaning you interact with it by touching your fingertips to the glass face of the tablet.

There are tens of thousands of apps. One of the best places to get them is the “Google Play Store.” Your tablet connects by radio waves called “Wi-Fi” to nearby Wi-Fi sources. Many restaurants, motels, and businesses have their own Wi-Fi, so you take your tablet there with you. Ask for their password, select their unique Wi-Fi name, type in the password, and your tablet searches for their Wi-Fi connection.


March Madness challenge turns maddening

How is your March Madness bracket looking these days?

If yours is like mine right now, it has turned upside down with some of the results that happened on the first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

For the past few seasons, I have been answering the challenge issued by billionaire Warren Buffett to provide a perfect March Madness bracket from start to finish for a chance to win $1 billion but it has not happened yet including this year.

All I needed to do was predict the winner in all 63 tournament games. What could be so hard about that?

I am not alone in my frustration. Out of the almost 20 million brackets that were entered in the $1 billion dollar bracket challenge this year, there are zero perfect brackets remaining as the Sweet 16 round of the tournament begins Thursday (tonight).


Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung and there's just no denying it. The official First Day of Spring is next week on March 20; but the grass, redbuds, bluebonnets, robins and new crop of baby calves are all proof that spring is here. And, did everyone remember to “Spring Forward” with your clocks and watches as we welcomed Daylight Saving Time?

At the Van Zandt County Library, spring has arrived, also. This Friday, there will be no Story-Time because of spring break. St. Patrick's Day is also being observed with a collection of Irish and St. Paddy's books. Don't forget to wear your green March 17 to keep yourself safe from being pinched!


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