Name: Diane Perkins
Date registered: July 9, 2012
No voter ID required to make your mark on Texas
By IMANI EVANS
The Dallas Examiner/Special to ETR
With the presidential election mere weeks away, Texas Secretary of State Esperanza “Hope” Andrade is on a mission to disseminate the most accurate information on voting procedures to concerned Texans, and to lay to rest any fears about irregularities at the polls.
Andrade’s office has stepped up a public awareness blitz, begun during the primary elections earlier this year, that has been named “Make Your Mark on Texas Through Voting.” The campaign includes voter education, outreach to local election officials and even the promotion of a new mobile app that puts the most important voting information in the palms of citizens’ hands.
“When we started the campaign, we wanted to make sure that we would be able to provide, that all the information would be readily available,” Andrade said about the app, called SmartTXVoter. “And so what we’re seeing, what the agency we hired was seeing, is that everyone is now communicating through their smart phone. I think over 50 percent of people have a smart phone and are accessing it.”
SmartTXVoter, which can be downloaded from the iTunes App and Google Play stores, can be used to schedule reminders for specific voting dates, research voting procedures online and even inform a voter about his or her registration status. The app is viewable in English and Spanish, and has already had roughly 4000 downloads since its launch earlier this month.
“So all of this information is readily available in the palm of your hand, and that was the purpose,” Andrade said. “We wanted to make sure that we could say that, that anyone who says, ‘Oh, I’m too busy’ or ‘I don’t have access to it’ that we say, ‘No, you have access to it.’”
Andrade said that the local election administrators and community leaders she has visited with have expressed excitement about the election and gratitude for her outreach efforts.
“What everyone is saying is that they’re glad that we are providing the resources, that we’re providing all the information out there, because this allows for people to be able to not use that as an excuse, that they don’t have the information,” Andrade said.
One of Andrade’s main goals is increasing the number of registered voters, and she said that the news on that front looks promising.
“At this time, we’re at 13.5 million registered voters,” Andrade said. “As I travel throughout the state, everyone is saying that they’ve seen an increase in the number of voter registration cards they’ve received, so we’re hoping that by the end of next week that number will have increased. 13.5 million is what we had in 2008, and so already we have that, and that’s not including all the new ones.”
Andrade said that she spends a large chunk of her time addressing some of the most common complaints that Texans have about voting, and giving pep talks to voters that she hopes will counter the defeatism and cynicism about the process that some voters may feel.
“We’re trying to bust those myths of ‘It takes too long,’ or ‘My vote doesn’t count,’” Andrade said. “It absolutely does count, and if you do early voting, which is Oct. 27 through Nov. 2, it won’t take you but a few minutes. So that’s the message that we’re taking out.”
Senate Bill 14, the voter identification law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011 but so far blocked by the federal courts, has been a source of confusion and concern for some voters. Among other changes to voting procedures, the law would require that most voters present a non-expired photo ID at their polling place in order to cast a ballot.
Some state legislators, such as Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), complained that the extensive media coverage of the issue often failed to get across to the public that the law has not gone into effect. As part of her voter education campaign, Andrade emphatically reminds voters that S.B. 14 is not being enforced, and believes that the issue will not significantly affect the November ballot.
“The simple message is: there is no voter ID, you continue to vote in the same manner that you’ve always voted – that is, by presenting your voter registration card, or for a list of documents you can go on our website,” Andrade said. “I don’t want to confuse the public by going into detail. The simple message is there’s no voter ID.
“And I’m not asked that often,” Andrade adds. “In fact, I’m usually the one that has to prompt that and say, ‘I want to remind everyone that there’s no voter ID.’”
Likewise, Andrade believes that the recent controversy surrounding a directive to county voting officials to purge deceased Texans from the voter rolls should not weigh on the minds of voters. A lawsuit was filed by four living voters who each received a letter warning them that their voter registrations would be canceled if they didn’t prove within 30 days that they were alive. The four plaintiffs were among approximately 80,000 voters who were identified as “potentially deceased” by federal records.
A settlement was reached that shifted the burden to county registrars who must now prove, in the case of such “weak” matches that rely on incomplete federal data, that a voter was actually deceased.
“My responsibility is to make sure that we provide a clean voter roll, which we’ve tried doing,” Andrade said. “We had a little setback, but the process continues. Those ‘strong’ matches have been removed, and in the case of the ‘weak’ matches, every election administrator is looking at that. So we don’t see anything that really changed other than we had a temporary setback.”
Andrade is at the beginning of her fifth year on the job asTexas’ chief elections officer. She credits her many years as an entrepreneur inSan Antoniofor her straightforward, no-nonsense approach to ensuring fair and orderly elections.
“My background is, I was a businesswoman, and so you gave me the goal and I went after it,” Andrade said. “My goal is to make sure that all Texans have all the information that they need, and that’s what I do. I go out every day – I just got back from a long week of travel, and visiting chambers of commerce, and visiting with any group that will hear us – so if you set me up, I’m there. That’s my commitment.”
Andrade anticipates a 22-hour workday on Nov. 6, starting at 7:01 a.m. when the polls open. She anticipates a night of tension and excitement, but also a night when the diligent work of election officials and poll workers will be sufficient to keep the machinery of voting running smoothly throughout the state.
“I am looking forward to a good election, and that’s because I know how hard our local election officials work on making that happen, and also I’m optimistic that ourTexasregistered voters will go out and vote.”
For any questions or concerns about voting, call 1-800-252-VOTE. The official elections website is http://www.votetexas.gov.
Joe Bob and his wife Lou Ann have been dedicated members of the Longview community for more than 30 years. In 1985 Joe Bob founded Joyce Crane, which started in Longview and has since grown into five locations serving the Ark-La-Tex and southern Oklahoma. Joe Bob and Lou Ann are proud parents to Candace and Joe Bob Junior, who both work in the family business. The family belongs to First Christian Church in Longview, where Joe Bob has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Diaconate and Elder.
Joe Bob also serves on several East Texas Boards and Committees, including: Boys and Girls Club of Gregg County Board of Directors, Eastman Contractor Safety Council, Good Shepherd Foundation Board of Directors, LEDCO Board of Directors, President of the President’s Advisory Council of LeTourneau University, Campaign Chair for LeTourneau Athletic Complex Project, Trustee on LeTourneau University Board of Directors and President of the Safety Council of East Texas.
A long-standing member of the National Association of the Specialized Carrier and Rigging Association (SCRA), he has been involved as SCRA’s President of Crane and Rigging Committee, President of the SCRS Foundation and on the Board of Directors.
By Kelly Bell
The Unity and Diversity Committee is inviting the community to celebrate Diversity Week at the new location Mickey Melton Performance Center at Longview High School, 201 Tomlinson Parkway, Longview on October 6, at 7pm.
Kashmere High School Stage Band racked up more than three dozen awards and recorded as many as eight albums during its 1960s-1970s heyday. The message of the touring Kashmere alumni – the subject of a 2010 documentary – is less about winning and more about their hall-of-fame director, the late Conrad O. “Prof” Johnson, Sr.
“I love him. He’s still here,” said Craig Baldwin, chief operating officer and executive music director of Kashmere Stage Band Alumni. “Everything he’s ever done that I was a part of, I remember it like it was yesterday. I owe him, and I want to give it back to him any way I can give it back to him.
“I want people to know who he is, and I’m going to die trying, because he could have walked away with me.”
Baldwin joined nearly a dozen local residents at Longview Public Library on May 10 to watch Thunder Soul, a documentary about alumni of the Kashmere Stage Band returning home after 35 years to play a tribute concert in February 2008 for Johnson. Terrell native and Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx presented and executive produced the documentary about Johnson, credited with transforming the high school band into a legendary funk powerhouse.
How good was the Kashmere band? It wowed audiences around the world during a nine-year span, even claiming the 1972 All-American High School Stage Band Festival in Mobile, Ala., at a time when that state’s governor was segregationist George Wallace.
“As they say, you couldn’t write a story any better even if you made it up,” a writer described in a Hollywood Reporter critique of the film. “It’s that good.”
There are Northeast Texas connections. Johnson was a graduate of Wiley College in Marshall.
In 2006, Los Angeles, Calif.-based production company Now-Again Records compiled a two-disc album of seven years of Kashmere Stage Band recordings from 1968 until 1974. Johnson was listed as the producer and arranger of the original recordings. At least 32 songs from the band are available at 99 cents plus tax each on iTunes.
Also in 2006, a reporter for KUT in Austin, David Brown, interviewed the then-92-year-old Johnson. Brown began his article with the words, “High school stage performances often prove to be nothing more than memories, but Kashmere High School in northeast Houston has spawned a sensation that’s still drawing listeners some 40 years later.”
Johnson told Brown about attending an Otis Redding concert about four decades earlier. He had watchedReddingperform, and how he let every member of his band perform, sing, play and do everything on stage. Johnson went back to hisKashmereHigh Schoolband and asked the students if they could put on a show while playing their instruments.
“My band said, ‘If you believe we can do it, we can do it,’” Johnson told Brown.
With choreographed moves, platform shoes and matching crushed-velvet suits, the Kashmere Stage Band began a decade of dominance and influence. It won national championships, and it was considered among the nation’s best stage bands and funk bands. It recorded eight studio albums featuring at least 20 original compositions by Johnson and won 42 out of 46 contests it entered between 1969 and 1977. The students’ success led them to travel and perform throughout Europe,Japanand theU.S.
Following Johnson’s retirement in the late 1970s, the band’s recordings became prized by hip-hop producers and disc jockeys, who sampled them in other songs or played them in clubs, Brown wrote.
In 2000, Johnson was inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame. The induction was not just for Kashmere Stage Band’s exploits, but also for his influence through more than 50 years in shaping theHoustonsound, noted for its elements of down-homeTexasblues and sophisticated jazz.
“Kashmere, at that time, was a palace… and Prof put Kashmere on the map, especially with all of these major competitions,” said Baldwin, a Channelview resident, during a recent visit to the Longview home of Victoria Wilson, who helped organize the May 10 film viewing..
Baldwin said Johnson’s discipline was firm, often unspoken and undoubtedly necessary in a northeast Houston public school filled with students from broken homes who battled going the wrong way each day. Kashmere High School became a source of community pride thanks to the award-winning stage band and other notable victories during the 1970s – the basketball team won back-to-back state titles in 1973 and 1974, when it claimed a mythical national title.
“He was ferocious when you crossed him like anybody would be, but he always told you why,”Baldwin said. “The majority of the time, it was silent. He could look at you a certain way, and you know. His gestures, it was just how he did things and how he spoke to us.”
In February 2008 – less than two days before his death – Johnson was feted during a tribute with 30 original members of the Kashmere Stage Band, who had reunited for the first time in at least 30 years. Johnson had been wheeled into the Kashmere High School auditorium, but he after receiving a standing ovation, he was helped to his feet before he said to the crowd, “All I can say is… thank you. We appreciate the fact you like our music.”
Along with the accolades,Baldwinremembers Johnson most for his fatherly influence. He recalled a time whenBaldwinrefused to play a keyboard solo in the style Johnson had written it be performed. Johnson ordered Baldwin, a talented percussionist, to leave the band, which won at least two competitions without him.Baldwindid not return until he heard an earful from his disappointed bandmates and took more than 10 licks from Johnson’s paddle.
“That man got my attention,”Baldwin said, “and if he hadn’t gotten my attention, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Information and a trailer about ThunderSoul: The True Story of Conrad Johnson & The Kashmere Stage Band is available at http://thundersoulmovie.com. The documentary won at least 10 awards prior to its September 2011 release, including audience awards at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, the Indie Memphis Film Festival and film festivals in Dallas and Los Angeles.
Educational Awareness to be held at Allegiance Specialty Hospital in Kilgore
Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. “Many people in our community are directly affected by mental illness,” said Kim Brown, Director of Outreach and Community Relations. “The good news is that treatment does work and recovery is possible.”
Here are some interesting facts:
On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of all children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.
One in four Americans will experience a serious mental disorder in his or her lifetime, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe anxiety disorders.
Mental illnesses are no-fault, biologically based brain disorders which cause disturbances in thinking, feeling and/or relating. Persons living with these disorders deserve the dignity of medical treatment and a wide range of supportive services from mental health care providers and caring congregations. Though the majority of individuals living with mental illness can successfully be treated, stigma and misinformation continue to be significant barriers to treatment.
“The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it,” Brown said. “That’s why Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in ourcommunity. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help andsupportthey need.”
With that, Allegiance Specialty Hospital of Kilgore would like to host an informational health fair on various mental health related topics in the lobby of our facility on Tuesday, October 9 and again on Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 10:00am – 2:00pm, so we can better educate the people our community. Allegiance Specialty Hospital is located at1612 S. Henderson Blvd.,Kilgore,TX, (in the old Laird Hospital).
About Allegiance Specialty Hospital:
Allegiance Specialty Hospital is a licensed 60 bed hospital with two specialties: Medical Acute Care and Behavioral Health Care. The hospital, formerly known as Laird Memorial Hospital, changed ownership after Allegiance bought the hospital license. Since that time, Allegiance has focused on providing medical and behavioral health services exclusively for older adults. Allegiance worked with Good Shepherd Medical Center (GSMC) in bringing emergency services back to the Kilgore community. The GSMC Emergency Center is now open 24 hours a day.
Allegiance currently has 118 employees with a financial impact to the city of Kilgore of 3.6 million in annual payroll. The progress of Allegiance Hospital over the last year includes partnering with the nursing programs of Kilgore College,UT Tyler, Panola Junior College and UT Arlington whose nursing students rotate through Allegiance Hospital as part of their training. Over the last year, Allegiance received over 1200 referrals from 26 counties throughout East Texas and treated over 100 patients daily in its outpatient programs. In addition to providing ongoing community education about mental health,Allegiance Hospital is nationally recognized and accredited by DNV for meeting high standards in healthcare.
Louis Morgan Drugs #1 is marking 60 years of service to the health of its customers, whose grandparents were the first to patronize the store. The National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) President Lonnie Wilson, R.Ph. makes plain the significance of this milestone and what it has done to help so many.
“NCPA applauds and appreciates pharmacies like Louis Morgan Drugs #1 for their dedication to the practice of community pharmacy,” he said. “More importantly, they continue to be a vital health care provider, offering exceptional service to their patients and bringing dynamic leadership to their communities.”
The 2011 NCPA Digest reports that there are currently more than 23,000 community pharmacies operating nationwide. Such challenges as cuts in Medicare and Medicaid have not stopped them from continuing and expanding their services, which include nutrition counseling, deliveries and compounding.
“Community pharmacies like Louis Morgan Drugs #1 continue to thrive over the years because they are constantly adapting to satisfy their patients,” saidWilson.
A recent Consumer Reports article confirms this by noting how in every drug store satisfaction survey since 1998 customers have ranked community pharmacies higher than other kinds of druggists in the areas of service, knowledge, keeping prescriptions in stock and overall customer satisfaction.
The NCPA represents all of the country’s independent pharmacies, which employ more than 315,000 workers (62,400 pharmacists,) and dispense 41% of all retail prescriptions. For more information please visit www.ncpanet.org or http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.