Written by Phil Cerroni
Strong momentum in the Texas real estate market continued through the second quarter, furthering Texas’ progress towards a statewide seller’s market, according to the Texas Quarterly Housing Report. Homes sales increased 13 percent from a year ago and the median price increased by 7 percent over the same time frame. Locally, Irving home sales increased 2.94 percent while the median price increased 2.7 percent.
Source: The Texas Association of Realtors
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 August 2012 12:45
Written by Phil Cerroni
HOUSTON, TX (08/01/2012)(readMedia)-- The following local residents were among more than 5,800 students from University of Houston who made the Dean's List for the Spring 2012 semester:
Cesar Casarez, a Mathematics, BS major and a resident of Irving, Texas
Steven Ekpo, a Pre-Pharmacy, DEG UN major and a resident of Irving, Texas
Glenn Miles, a Health, BS major and a resident of Irving, Texas
Elizabeth Okugo, a University Studies, DEG UN major and a resident of Irving, Texas
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 39,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 August 2012 13:00
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
The 2012 USA Judo Junior Olympics were held at the Irving Convention Center July 20-21. All around the large room, the winners beamed and the losers were downcast and many times even crying.
Quentin Cook, a lean, swarthy teen, took home the gold medal for the Juvenile Division A - sixty-kilo weight group. Not only will he go home with one of the highest awards at this event, but also his victory here at the Junior Olympics has earned him a spot on the USA team going to the Pan American Infantile Championships.
This is not Cook’s first time at the Olympics, and he said that the important lessons he learned last year were instrumental in his victory this time around.
“Last year I got choked out,” he said. “This year, I actually won my semi-finals match with a choke, and my finals match with a choke.”
When asked why he fights, he said, “It’s just something I love. I started at five, and I’ve loved it ever since. My club is like family for me.”
Grab, pull, slide and crash. Reset. One boy had his opponent in a hold that looked something like a half nelson, their bodies at perpendicular angles to each other.
Another gold winner is sixteen-year-old Bruno Reagan who won the Juvenile B division for +90 kilos, a very broad weight class.
“You can get people from 220 pounds to 350 pounds,” Reagan said.
Although he had an excellent tournament, Reagan did not let himself get cocky.
“I didn’t get scored on during the tournament,” he said. “And although that can happen, judo’s a very humble sport; some guy can come out of nowhere – a white belt can beat a black belt. This tournament I played it out real smart, real safe, real aggressive and it got me the gold.”
But he did not plan to stop with Friday’s victory. He planned on competing later that weekend in two more divisions: the under 20 for +100 kilos and the open division.
“Anyone from one pound to five thousand pounds can enter the open division,” Reagan said. “It’s meant to find to best fighter in the age group.”
Reagan was extremely excited that he has the opportunity to participate in a division as challenging as the Open.
“Usually heavy weights dominate this division,” he said. “But there have been some upsets; there have been some really athletic fighters of lower weights who have beaten much heavier opponents.”
This love of the challenge was evidently one of the reasons Reagan loves judo.
“It’s the best sport in the world. It’s you and another man on the mat fighting – there’s no one else to blame if you lose. It’s all about your heart, your determination.”
All of the athletes I encountered that morning carried themselves with an easygoing confidence. They also possessed keen minds for quick problem solving that are necessary for one to react to an opponent in hand-to-hand combat.
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 July 2012 21:42
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
His frame is wracked by lymphoma, but a fire burns on in H.M. ‘Smoky’ Eggers. The Irving resident still guards his vision of the Boy Scouts with the fervor of a lifelong advocate.
“We need to pray and stand up for the Boy Scouts of America,” he exhorts, inviting supporters to join him in the Prayer Fellowship for Christian Scouters. “Pray for them to have the freedom and the courage to stay true to their founding aims and purposes.”
Eggers has served the Boy Scouts of America for 71 years, starting as a Scout, then as an Assistant Scoutmaster while he was a student in forestry at Oregon State, and ultimately assuming various leadership roles in the national organization. Most recently, he says, he was “recycled” as a fundraiser with the nonprofit Baptists for Scouting.
To him, there’s no question about whether or not to admit homosexuals to leadership roles in Scouting. But admitting boys who are homosexual – that’s a different story.
“With the boys, we definitely do not discriminate,” he said. “After 71 years in Scouting, I’d never seen an interpretation like I read in the ‘Irving Rambler’ story of July 2. [‘Woman Challenges Boy Scouts to Become More Inclusive’ containing coverage of gay Pack Leader Jennifer Tyrrell’s appeal to BSA to reconsider their decision to ban her from leadership].
“[Tyrrell] implied that a boy would be refused membership in Scouting because he was homosexual. I’ve never seen that. I have always believed that Scouting was for all boys.
“Scouting has tried its best to stay out of politics,” he explained, describing the 2000 Supreme Court ruling in the case of the BSA vs. James Dale as a “victory”. In that case, Assistant Scoutmaster James Dale of New Jersey had been expelled after revealing his homosexuality. He sued for readmission, winning a decision in the New Jersey court – but that was overruled by the Supreme Court. Their finding: A private membership organization was judged to have the constitutional right to exclude certain persons from membership when their inclusion would violate the organization’s ability to express its viewpoints.
“The recent picketing of Boy Scouts….What they’re saying is, if we don’t cave in to the homosexuals, and more important, to duty to God, we’ll be in trouble,” Eggers continued.
“When you’re considering the development of a boy’s moral character, you really have to be vigilant. Over the years we have tried to meet with homosexuals around the country. And we’ve found a group of them that only want their own agenda. They deliberately try to get into leadership with Scouting and YMCA to recruit youth for their lifestyle.
“But there’s another group that sincerely believe the Boy Scouts should loosen their restrictions, like [other groups] have done.
“Well, those groups that caved in – they’ve lost membership and more important, they’ve lost money. If we bent now, we’d alienate the 75 percent of people in this country who support us. We’d lose our financial base, and we’d lose our heroes.
“Being around for 101 years and having two million Eagle Scouts, we have so many heroes. Men like Secretary of State Robert Gates and Neil Armstrong.
“We’re strongest when we promote faith-based packs. And those congregations are convinced that if the homosexuals broke into scouting, they would concentrate on churches next.
“Stephen Covey who just died – his latest book has a formula for communicating. If I could say just one word to homosexuals, it would be this: Read Covey’s book. Be willing to listen to another side.
“And that cuts both ways. I do think that someday, there may be a way for Scouting sponsors to represent more views in their communities.
“Scouting gave me a life,” he concluded. “I’ve been blessed to bring so many boys into Scouting.
“Back in my little town of Butler, TN I’d been hanging out in a bad gang, and Scouting gave me a good gang.”
‘Smoky’ Eggers’s reading list:
‘On My Honor’, by Texas Governor Rick Perry [“The best book on our battle with the homosexual community,” as Eggers described it.]
‘The Third Alternative’, by Stephen Covey [“On a compromise you both lose, but work it out together, and you’ll arrive at what’s best for everybody,” according to Eggers.]
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 July 2012 21:00
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
Junior Conference Room A at the Irving Convention Center was packed with businessmen chatting happily about shared work and common interests before the start of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute’s (TCCRI) Irving Energy Summit. The conference’s topic: the possibility of energy self-sufficiency in the United States.
State representative Linda Harper-Brown’s opening statements put the proceedings into perspective by saying that the topics discussed that day showed the “broad economic benefits of our state’s robust energy sector.”
The most important thing, she said, is to develop a, “commonsense approach to regulation and to balancing the need for regulation with the prosperity that the free market brings us.”
Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, was adamant that one of the reasons for Texas’ economic success is its involvement in developing new means of energy advancement.
“Oil and gas have been driving everything for the last year,” Combs said.
No matter how positive Combs is about Texas’ healthy economy, she said there have been obstacles to its progress including a lawsuit filed by the EPA over greenhouse gas emissions and taxes like the recent Affordable Care Act that Combs says is an “extraordinary legal region,” that could stunt the recent economic growth this state has been experiencing.
“Tax policy creates an environment, and capital will flee a hostile environment, which is why people are fleeing California. We do not want to turn into the son of California,” Combs said grimly.
The afternoon’s keynote speaker was T. Boone Pickens, oil magnate and investment capitalist. A geologist by schooling, Pickens has drilled for oil on almost every continent and released an energy model in 2008 called the Pickens Plan. His plan for nurturing our burgeoning economy is simple: “Use our own resources instead of using foreign oil.”
Part of his plan hinges on the exciting new possibilities we are literally standing on – the natural gas being drilled in Texas and the potential it has for placing our country far down the road to self-sufficiency.
“The United States has the cheapest energy in the world,” Pickens said. “We are sitting on a huge change in energy globally. OPEC is not going to have near the power in five years that they have today. There is a lot more energy around the world than I ever imagined.”
Part of Pickens’ solution is a “natural gas highway” that would greatly reduce the cost of highway transportation. With a twenty-four thousand dollar upgrade, each truck would have a fuel equivalency of eight cents per gallon.
Not only does this bring down transportation costs, but it also acts as a huge step in lessening our dependence on foreign oil. Pickens is sure that we have the potential to save 3 million barrels of oil a day by switching over to natural gas. That is a large part of the 4.4 million barrels a day we import from OPEC.
But Pickens, like Combs, does not predict an easy road ahead. However, he says that the only people stopping us are ourselves. A fact he bemoaned saying, “This country has never had an energy plan.” But none of these obstacles seem insurmountable as long as the United States is willing to change the way it does business.
“We have taken care of supply; we need to develop demand,” he said confidently.
One objection that has been brought against this plan is that it “forces one to choose winners.” There is nothing farther from the truth Pickens insisted, saying, “You can either go with your fuel or foreign fuel,” he said.
Unlocking our energy resources is already having a local effect on Texas. Barry Smitherman, Texas Railroad Commissioner, elaborated on the many benefits that it has for private citizens.
“The typical household should be able to save between ten and fifteen dollars a month just because the price of natural gas is so low.”
Smitherman said that saving on one’s electricity bill is not the only benefit of natural gas.
“Any manufacturing or industrial process that uses natural gas is doing much better today because the price of natural gas is low. If you are in an industry that uses natural gas as a building block of what it does, like making plastic, that plastic is cheaper made in Texas than it has been in a long time. Companies will expand, invest, and create more jobs here locally. And that brings down the price of everything.”
The private sector is chomping at the bit to take advantage of what they see as this nation’s full energy potential, and it is now a matter of enacting policy that will allow the industry to reach its full potential.
Last Updated on Sunday, 29 July 2012 21:52