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Impact of Pandemic On Local Businesses

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, there’s a sense of relief and optimism that things will return to normal. Long-awaited family gatherings, birthday parties and graduation ceremonies are finally happening in person. Sporting events have fans in the stands, airports are busy, and we all are in the process of reclaiming those elements of life we’ve missed the past year.

However, with that optimism is the reality of the impact the pandemic had on local communities.

Local businesses that struggled through the past year, if they were able to stay in business at all, are still trying to recover and regain lost revenues. These locally owned restaurants, shops and services are vital to our economy and provide valuable jobs and important resources. Whenever you can, please Shop Local and Eat Local.

You can add your local newspapers to the businesses that need your support. During the pandemic, newspapers provided the critical information needed to protect the health and safety of their readers.

And, that level of commitment has continued with the most relevant information about vaccines and plans for schools to return to normal in the fall.

The importance of local newspapers reaches well beyond the pandemic. Local newspapers cover the issues most important to their communities. From crime to local schools to local government, readers can rely on their newspaper to provide the latest news that will impact them directly.

Newspapers Were Hit Hard During The Pandemic

Without vibrant newspapers, cities and towns across the country would surely suffer.

Newspapers were hit hard during the pandemic, just like other businesses. Advertising revenue, which was already in decline, dropped significantly. While more readers turned to newspapers and their websites for information than ever before, that didn’t generate enough additional revenue to bridge the gap. The result is that newspapers need your support now, more than ever.

Fortunately, the importance of newspapers is being recognized in Washington. Legislation has been introduced to help protect newspapers from the business tactics of Big Tech companies that often use newspapers’ content without compensation.

Local Journalism Sustainability Act

On June 16, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act was introduced as a bipartisan effort to recognize and protect local newspapers and the journalists who deliver valuable content.

The LJSA is unlike other bills in that it delivers benefits to readers and advertisers for supporting newspapers. Subscribers will be able to get a tax credit for their subscription, local businesses can get tax credits for advertising in newspapers and other local media, and newspapers would receive tax credits for their newsroom employees.

These legislative efforts deserve your support and the support of your government representatives. Supporting your newspaper is one of the best things that you can do to directly strengthen your community.

Disappeared But Not Forgotten: Texas Cold Cases – 2009 Ferris Double Homicide

Johnson residence Ferris
Johnson residence Ferris, TX

Ferris, TX 2009 Double Homicide Cold Case

FERRIS – It’s a small city of 2,500, and cold cases don’t sit well there.

In 2009, a Grand Prairie woman and her boyfriend were murdered in their bedroom inside a house in Ferris on S. Church Street. The suspect or suspects still remain at large. It has turned into a case with more questions than answers.

At one time, former Ferris Chief Eddie Salazar, even had photos of the victims, Janine Johnson and her boyfriend Stephen Taylor as well as two other victims from a homicide there hanging on his office wall.

In the City of Ferris, although they have less resources than larger cities, Ferris Police Chief John DeLeon says this case has not been forgotten and is being worked on regularly.

Crime Scene Details

Police estimate the murders took place in the late evening hours of March 21 or early morning hours of March 22, 2009 while the couple were sleeping. There was no indication of forced entry into the home. Police said at the time they also did not find tracks indicating anyone had been creeping around the home.

According to police, all the blood from the murder was contained in the bedroom and there was no blood found in any other part of the home.

It was a city public works employee who informed police about the situation at the S. Church Street address after being alerted by Taylor’s brother who said he had arrived at the house to check on the two living there.

When police entered the home they found both Johnson and Taylor had been violently butchered. Taylor had been stabbed repeatedly with around 70 stab wounds and Johnson had as many as 50 stab wounds found on her body. As for a motive, the police are at a loss.

While the case has remained unsolved, every good law enforcement officer knows that somewhere there is a detail that might have gone unnoticed.

In 2019 during an interview with Johnson’s family, her mother Diana seemed hopeful the murderer will be discovered.

Could DNA Hold The Answer?

At that time the Ferris Police Department had also taken this cold case to the Cold Case Committee in Austin, a committee of about 20 people. This committee looked at these files and agreed more could be done.

Several years ago in Ferris’s fiscal year budget, $8,565.28 was included in the budget for DNA collection with the SW Institute of Forensic Science for DNA testing for this murder investigation.

The fact is technology has changed since these murders occurred in 2009 and detectives in Ferris thought perhaps they could cull some additional clues from the DNA.

DeLeon said too “[We] are in the process of investigating and studying the case. Officers had gathered evidence that was sent to the Dallas FBI Office, Dallas County Forensics as well as Texas DPS Forensics. Officers are still collecting evidence and analyzing the evidence that has been collected.”

Indeed, this cold case is still being worked and DeLeon is hopeful the murderer/murderers will be brought to justice.

Why this Case Went Cold

According to Chief DeLeon “Shortly after the homicide, Ferris Police Department sustained a constant change of personnel. Every Officer from then on assigned to the case would have to begin the Investigation from its inception so as to get familiarized with the background and the witnesses or personnel involved. This meant sifting through evidence as well as evidence that had been sent for forensic testing, reaching out to witnesses, following leads that had been submitted as tips, making sure that all pertinent paper was submitted i.e., search warrants and reading through witness statements just to name a few. Resources available to the Police Department then were minimal. Currently the resources have improved and getting much better thanks to the current Police Staff and City Administrators.

What’s Next?

Ferris Police Department and the Officers currently assigned to the case reached out to a Cold Case Foundation in mid-to-late 2020 and have been in constant contact with the Foundation disseminating information as needed. It has been a slow process, but the Ferris Police Department as well as the Foundation have to scrutinize all the original paperwork making sure that nothing pertinent falls through the cracks.

The Ferris Police Department is cognizant that the conditional factor in solving the case is that it must be worked. The Ferris Police Department owes it to the victims loved ones and to the citizens of Ferris to bring those responsible for this heinous crime to justice. There is no statute of limitations on this crime. The Ferris Police Department with the help of surrounding agencies and The Cold Case Foundation will prevail.

Anyone with information about this crime can contact the Ferris Police Department at 972-544-2225 or contact the Ellis County Crime Stoppers organization at 972-937-PAYS. Callers can remain anonymous.

Midlothian Family Loses Home In Fire, Community Rallies Around Them

house destroyed by fire
Harder Family home after the fire

Dallas Police Office Matt Harder Loses Home In Fire

MIDLOTHIAN – The Harder family had lived in Midlothian 12 years when their home burned to the ground during Texas’ recent arctic freeze.

Matt Harder, who has also worked with the Dallas Police Department in the patrol division for 12 years, said he has been working on the streets of Dallas for as long as he has been living in Midlothian. When his home burned down on February 18, however, he and his family discovered the meaning of good neighbors.

“We have had so many people in our community help us, whether that is helping us clean off pictures and things we tried to salvage, giving us gift cards or praying for us,” Harder said.

To begin, Heroes of Midlothian gave the Harder family a gift card for $500 and then another $40 gift card to Fuzzy’s Tacos.

Police uniforms damaged

The Fireplace Was The Cause of The Fire

Harder said the fire started in the chimney. The chimney became overworked since they were burning a fire around the clock for warmth. The family had been without power for the week with the fireplace the only source of heat.

“We were using the fireplace to keep the house warm,” Harder explained. “It then started the attic on fire, resulting in the ceiling collapsing and burning the rest of the house down.”

I spoke with Midlothian Fire Chief Dale McCaskill about the dangers of fireplaces, and what happened that led to the Harder’s fire.

He said homes that were built beginning in around the 90s have metal inserts in some cases – as in the case of the Harder fire – and the fireplaces and chimneys are not made to burn fires that are designed to heat the home. These fireplaces with the metal inserts are for short fires – like maybe a cold night watching a movie.

He said fireplaces with these metal inserts are not “in and of themselves” bad, but just not for long-term fires to heat a home. The masonry fireplaces that one would use to heat a home cost about $7000 to $10,000 more in a home.

Harder Family
Harder Family

Harder’s wife Melanie, youngest daughter Alyssa, two dogs Libby and Berkeley, and the family cat Chloe were living in the house at the time.

“Our cat Chloe sadly did not make it out of the house,” Harder added.

Midlothian Volleyball Team Went Into Action To Support Teammate

Even so, the Midlothian ISD Volleyball team wanted to help. First they tried to help the family find their cat. They also worked to make sure Alyssa did not have to worry about her Volleyball team uniform.

“The Harder Family has been involved in Midlothian Volleyball since Alyssa was in middle school,” said Heather McMichael of Mac Marketing LLC. “Our families have grown up together within this program. When we heard about the house fire and it being one of our own, we immediately began collecting donations for them.”

McMichael said one of the biggest worries for Alyssa was her concern for her practice shirts and volleyball shoes/knee pads.

“With one phone call to the coaches, we had new practice jerseys for her, a new backpack, knee pads, spandex, etc.” McMichael explained.

The coaches also spoke with their supplier for court shoes and they agreed to ship Alyssa a new pair of shoes at no charge.

“We are like one big family,” McMichael said. “We support one another through the good times and even the bad. We’ll continue to support the Harder’s throughout the coming months as they clean up and rebuild.”

Matt concluded “The house was burned down completely, resulting in a total loss. We would have to completely rebuild the home and then move back in, so it will be a while.”

As the community comes together for the Harder family, they have decided they will definitely stay in Midlothian.

Harder said for the time being they are in a rental house in Midlothian for the next year, “while we figure out the next steps.”

Fire Safety Tips

Chief McCaskill suggests always have an annual cleaning of your fireplace. Never leave a fire unattended. Also, remember fire starter logs have a lot of chemicals that can perhaps cause problems down the road if you do not have an annual chimney cleaning.




Christmas Parades, Tree Lightings, Activities In DFW Area

2020 Christmas Party flyer

2020 DFW Area Christmas Parades-Tree Lightings-Holiday Activities

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly, and who says you can’t be jolly while social distancing and wearing a mask?
Yes, COVID-19 has changed the way things are being done in 2020, including Christmas celebrations. However, the area still has numerous activities planned to celebrate the holidays.

Cedar Hill

December 1, 2020 Holiday on the Hill Drive-Thru Parade

Cedar Hill Holiday on the Hill flyer

The City of Cedar Hill is kicking off the holiday season with a “Holiday on the Hill Drive-Thru Parade” on ❄️December 1st, at 6:00 pm at Valley Ridge Park. We will have various city departments represented, and will be handing out holiday goodies + cheer for the kids. Please join us! Sponsored by City of Cedar Hill and Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

December 3 Virtual Tree Lighting & Concert 6pm-8pm

We invite you to our annual Tree Lighting with Mayor Mason, as well as a holiday concert via Facebook Live. Please join us for this festive holiday event the whole family can enjoy from home!

DeSoto Holiday Drive-In Movie

Drive in Movie Poster

Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 8:30 PM CST – 10:15 PM CST

Grimes Park $20 per vehicle/per movie with concessions available

5:30-7pm Elf

8:30-10:15 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

DeSoto Winter Wonderland December 12

DeSoto Winter Wonderland Poster

DeSoto Parks & Recreation and the DeSoto Public Library bring you Winter Wonderland with Arts, Crafts, and Painting on December 12th at the DeSoto Civic Center from 11 AM to 3 PM. This event is free for all ages under 13. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their Elves will be there to greet you. Join us as we celebrate the Holiday Season.


Ennis Christmas Celebrations

Ennis downtown shopping map

Calendar of Events:

Nov 28 Small Business Saturday with Carolers and Live Reindeer
Dec 3 Christmas Bluebonnet Market & Sip Shop & Stroll
Dec 5 Cookies with Mrs. Claus & Lucky’s CC Car Show and Toy Drive
Dec 11 Giant Snow Hill
Dec 12  Snow Hill
Dec 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession

Grand Prairie Christmas Activities

Grand Prairie Lights Poster

Prairie Lights Drive-Thru Holiday Light Experience – A Total In-Car Event for 2020.November 26-December 31 (Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve), 6-10 PM daily
*Lynn Creek Park at Joe Pool Lake
*$30 per car (up to eight people), price reduced for 2020. A Fast Pass (line jump pass) is available for $99. Additional fees apply for limos, shuttles, and commercial vehicles.

*Videos from Santa, through Dec. 20. Would you like a personalized video from Santa?
Complete the requested information and get a personal, customized video greeting from Santa for your child. One video per child. $30 per video. Video greetings will be sent to the e-mail provided during purchase from the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce. Call the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce with questions 972-264-1558 or e-mail [email protected]

Mansfield Hometown Holidays


Mansfield announced changes to their Hometown Holidays schedule due to a ride in COVID-19 cases. We have all the details in an article https://www.focusdailynews.com/mansfield-changes-hometown-holidays-schedule/


Midlothian Tree Lighting flyer

Midlothian Tree Lighting Ceremony, Dec. 1, 6-7 p.m. Usher in the holiday season with an evening of community fellowship, Christmas spirit and the ​lighting of the beautiful Christmas tree in Heritage Park on North 8th Street.

Festivities will continue in historic downtown on Saturday, Dec. 5 with the Southern Star Christmas Celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. and the annual Light-Up Parade at 6 p.m. Finally, on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. “The Grinch” will be shown. For more information, go to https://www.midlothian.tx.us/628/Special-Events

Southern Star Christmas

Christmas Adventure

Christmas is coming! Is your family ready to celebrate? Our Drive Thru Christmas ADVENTure is an interactive, drive thru event for families on Dec 2nd from 6-8pm. We will walk through the four weeks of Advent to help us get ready for the coming of Jesus in engaging, fun activities! Stations around our parking lots will focus on HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE and the miracle of CHRISTMAS and end with our live nativity. Bring your friends and neighbors, pile into the car, dress up in your favorite christmas attire, and spread some JOY! This is a community event, there is no registration or cost to our families.
If you would like a free four week Christmas devotional and supplies for your family (Advent in a Box) please register at this link: https://forms.gle/Gjie8bEP5Y7JNpPM6

Dallas Trains at Northpark

Trains at Northpark
Trains at Northpark 2016

Seeing the trains at Northpark has become an annual tradition for many DFW families. The exhibit is open from November 14 until January 3. Masks are required and social distancing will be enforced.

This year ALL tickets must be purchased online in advance for a specific date so they can manage capacity. All proceeds from ticket sales go to helping families at Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.

Admission prices listed below:$10.00 for adults
$5.00 for children (ages 2 – 12) and senior citizens (age 65 and older)
Children under 2 admitted free.

Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

These tickets are non-refundable. Please be sure to pick your preferred, correct date of admission.

Waxahachie Christmas Events

In lieu of the Community Tree Lighting & Christmas Parade, Christmas cheer will abound in Waxahachie with safe alternative events for both residents and visitors alike to enjoy!

City of Waxahachie Virtual Facebook Tree Lighting – December 1
Downtown Holiday Window Reveal & Decorating Contest – December 3
Downtown Kick-Off to Christmas – December 4
Christmas Tour of Lights – December 4 – 19

We’ll keep updating this list as cities update their event calendars.


DeSoto Mayor McCowan Makes Stunning Announcement at Council Meeting

Headshot DeSoto Mayor McCowan

McCowan Shares She’s Fighting Lung Cancer

DeSoto Mayor Curtistene McCowan began Tuesday evening’s city council meeting saying people know she is a fighter and she has something she must disclose. About a week and a half ago, she didn’t feel right and thought it was her asthma. She went to her doctor and he sent her to the emergency room, which first diagnosed her with pneumonia.

More tests were done and it turned out she has cancer in her right lung. Doctors worked with her to agree on a course of action to fight the disease.

“There will be days that will seem normal and days that I will need to lay low,” she said. There will be times like tonight when I can conduct the meeting and other times when our very capable Mayor Pro Tem Kenzie Moore will need to take over.”

Using a baseball analogy, she said she may not be able to go all nine innings every time, but she has an excellent person in the bullpen in Mayor Pro-Tem Kenzie Moore to take over for her and finish the game.

She requested prayer in that she knows she is a child of the most high God and turns now to her heavenly father. “When we work together there is nothing we cannot accomplish. When we pray together we can move a mountain.”

DeSoto City Council members React

Regarding Mayor McCowan Councilmember Candice Quarles said she supports her and thanks her for her energy, service and to say thank you.

Dinah Marks said sometimes it is more important to do rather than say and that she believes in stretching out to God. She thanked the Mayor for her leadership over the years. “We are here for you if there is anything you need.”

Nicole Raphiel continued , “You know we are here for you … I appreciate how resilient you are. I see God’s hand in your life, Mayor McCowan.”

Andre Byrd said “I am praying for you … Not only am I praying for you but for your husband and family as well.”

Kenneth Govan of the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce said “You have always been a steadfast and strong leader. You don’t have to announce your faith in God. It is evident to all.”

Curt Krohn, Chairman of the DeSoto Economic Development Corp related to Mayor McCowan, “You have energy like anyone else in the world does not have. You are loved. DeSoto is better because you are at the helm.”

Kisha Morris Perkins said “You are my second mom. I love you. We love you. The city loves you.”

“We Will Always Be There For You”

City Manager Brandon Wright expressed himself saying “We look forward to the opportunity to lift you up. I can’t stay up as late as you do. If you back it up (your energy level) you will go down to our level. We love you and look for this chance to support you.”

Kenzie Moore related, “For me it’s such a great pleasure to know you are here because you always respond. God will walk with all of us and hold our hand.” He said the comfort of knowing she was always available when he and the city needs her, has always been of the utmost comfort.

City Attorney Joe Gorfida told Mayor McCowan to “lean on him and everyone in the city in any time of need. We will always be there for you.”

Find The Right Face Mask For You

kids wearing face coverings
Kids wear face masks from Rafi Nova

Stylish & Functional Face Masks For Kids & Adults

As Texas experiences an upswing in COVID-19 cases, Governor Abbott has mandated masks be worn in public spaces. And as the Saharan dust storm moves through our state, those of us with asthma or COPD, may want to wear a mask outside. So, we’re taking a look at different masks available, in an effort to show you masks can be comfortable and stylish even in the Texas heat.


Casupo.co offers reversible face masks for children and adults made of 100% cotton. We received the blue camo which is camo on one side, solid navy on the other side. The face mask comes in a “pouch” that you can use to carry your mask when not in use, or place inside pouch when washing in machine. The nose piece is great for getting a snug fit and preventing glasses from fogging. The Casupo face mask was one of our favorites-well made, comfortable, has a pocket for removable filter and we love the pouch.

Man wearing navy blue camo face mask
Marlon models the navy camo face mask by Casupo

These masks are great quality and handmade in California. Adult masks start at $25, kids masks $23. Masks are washable and reusable.

Casupo.co donates a portion of their profits to FUNDANICA, a non profit organization dedicated to providing medical assistance to a children’s hospital in Venezuela. At the end of June, they’ve donated $3000 to FUNDANICA.

Fase Wear

If you’re looking for unique designs to show your fun side, check out the masks by Fase Wear. We think Fase Wear has some of the most creative and fun designs for kids and adults. They have sunflowers, roses, The Joker, Jason and so much more. Bonus: each mask comes with two filters.

Girl wearing face mask from fase wear
11 year old wearing a childrens face mask from Fase Wear

My 11 year old daughter likes the designs Fase Wear offers and the stretchy material. She found their masks to be comfortable. Straps are adjustable and masks are washable.

Kenny Flowers

Do you live at the beach or love beach wear? Kenny Flowers masks are fun, stylish and pair well with your beach wear. Their masks feature tie straps, making it easy to adjust without the pulling from elastic. Available in a 2 pack matching masks, or a 3 pack variety-either 100% cotton or 100% rayon.

Guy wearing Kenny Flowers facemask
Brian Eastman wearing a Kenny Flowers face mask-see the flamingo?

These masks are soft and comfortable, and don’t hurt your ears, with fun designs. We are in love with the flamingo print! Oh and if you want to be really stylish, buy a matching shirt.

Also, Kenny Flowers gives back, for every mask sold, they donate a mask to someone in need in Bali and 100% of all proceeds to Direct Relief – a non-profit delivering medical-grade masks – along with exam gloves, isolation gowns, and other protective gear to healthcare organizations in the USA.⁣

Proper Cloth

man modeling Proper Cloth face mask
Brian Eastman wearing a face mask from Proper Cloth

The masks from Proper Cloth have a very polished look about them. These masks could be worn to a business meeting or out for a nice dinner. They use a smooth 100% cotton shirting fabric with an anti-microbial finish, the result is a comfortable mask. Also, the mask comes with a removable filter of 3-layers of non-woven polypropylene. The polypropylene meltblown core to provide significantly more protection versus fabric-only masks. (lab test certified to filter out >/= 85% of 0.1 micron-sized particles)

Proper cloth masks are for adults available in small or large for $25. Note: the design has two straps that fit over your head, to prevent the mask from slipping. We found it takes time to adjust to the straps if you are not used to the design. But on the flip side, we found that these stayed on while talking, covered our chin well and didn’t need to be adjusted due to slipping!

man showing profile view of face mask
Side view of double straps of Proper Cloth face mask

For every mask you buy, they donate a mask to local healthcare workers and others on the front lines.

Rafi Nova

Rafi Nova is a small, family owned business that has pivoted to make masks for children and adults. They offer a wide variety of designs for children and adults.

9 year old wearing a teen performance face mask
9 year old wearing Rafi Nova teen performance mask

We like their performance masks which are made with a lighter material for summer. The masks feature 3 layers of materials, including an anti-bacterial layer and a filter (non-removable), a unique adjustment toggle and adjustable nose bridge. They also sell the smile masks, with transparent panel.

I have asthma which is often triggered by extreme heat or cold. Wearing the Rafi Nova performance mask, even in 90+ degree temperatures, I was still able to breathe without issues. Also, the toggles and nose piece prevented my glasses from fogging up. The teen performance masks were my daughter’s favorite.

Two pack of performance masks are $30. *Masks do run small, so order a size up* Rafi Nova also sells ear savers and filters for your mask.

The Tie Bar

Man models face mask from Tie Bar
Marlon wearing a facemask from The Tie Bar. A 5 packs is $30.

The Tie Bar makes masks for the gentleman in your life that wants to be safe and stylish. Their 100% cotton masks come in a 5-pack of designs featuring some of their favorite menswear patterns. Tie Bar masks are washable, have adjustable ear loops, flexible wire at nose and room for a filter. While the designs are made from menswear, many of them can be unisex. The 5-pack of dapper masks is $30. For the price you can have a mask for everyday of the week, and match your outfits.

Note: the companies featured sent Focus Daily News masks to try, so we could share our personal experience with our readers. These are non-medical face masks designed to cover your face to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Catch A Drive-In Movie At AT&T Stadium This Month

drive-in movie AT&T stadium

With traditional movie theaters closed due to safety precautions, drive-in movie theaters are making their comeback. AT&T Stadium is participating in the Tribeca Drive-In series this July. Families can hop in the car and catch a classic film for $26 per vehicle to $35 for a double feature.

So, what’s on the big screen? The schedule has more than 30 iconic movies and comedy acts scheduled to show on big screen outside the Stadium. Movies will often be grouped into themes, including Music Movies, Sports Sundays and Kids’ Nights.

July 9, 2020

7:00 pm Palm Springs- When carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg) and reluctant maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milioti) have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other. (90 minutes)

9:45 pm John Wick- When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a brutal Russian mobster, he hunts down his adversaries with the ruthlessness that made him a crime underworld legend.

July 10, 2020

6:45 pm Back to the Future-In this 1980s sci-fi classic, small-town California teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is thrown back into the ’50s when an experiment by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes awry.

9:45 pm Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Our non-heinous heroes Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are in danger of flunking history! But when the righteous Rufus (George Carlin) arrives in a time-travelling phone booth, the dense dudes discover their destiny! (90 minutes)

July 11, 2020

3:00 pm Inside Out- When 11-year-old Riley moves to a new city, her Emotions team up to help her through the transition. Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness work together, but when Joy and Sadness get lost, they must journey through unfamiliar places to get back home.

6:45 pm Spy Kids-The children of secret-agent parents must save them from danger.

9:15 pm Black Panther-When an old foe puts his homeland of Wakanda and the entire world at risk, you king T’Challa must release Black Panther’s full power to save them. (134 minutes)

July 12, 2020

6:00 pm Jerry Maguire-A successful sports agent, fired for being honorable, fights for his ideals and those who depend on him. (139 minutes)

9:30 pm- Love & Basketball- This story tells of childhood adversaries and talented athletes who have a love for the game of basketball and each other. Each pursues their dream of basketball success through high school, college and the pros, but along the way they must face their own personal hurdles. (124 minutes)

Movies run through July 26, check the website for a complete listing.

July 16, 2020

The Joker in Dark Knight
Publicity Photo

9:15pm- The Dark Knight- “The Dark Knight” reunites director Christopher Nolan with star Christian Bale, who returns to continue Batman’s war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. (152 minutes)

July 17, 2020 Special Double Feature Night

6:30 pm- Mean Girls-Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for Aaron Samuels, the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic Regina George. (97 minutes)

9:30 pm- Superbad- Two co-dependent High School guys comically struggle between girls and their own separation anxiety. (113 minutes)

July 18, 2020 Matinee

The Goonies
The Goonies Publicity Photo

2:00 pm- The Goonies- Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon films) and Chris Columbus (Harry Potter films) collaborate to create an epic children’s adventure of subterranean caverns, sunken galleons and a fortune in lost pirate treasure (114 minutes)

6:00 pm- Be Water- In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. (97 minutes)

9:15 pm- Straight Outta Compton- Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how five young cultural rebels – armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent – stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world’s most dangerous group (147 minutes)

July 19, 2020 Special Double Feature

6:30 pm- Friday Night Lights- Based on a book by author H.G. Bissinger, the small and economically depraved town of Odessa, Texas obsesses over the local high school football team as a a means of escape.(118 minutes)

The Wonder Woman
The Wonder Woman Publicity Photo

9:30 pm- Wonder Woman-Gal Gadot (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) returns as the title character in the epic action adventure based on the DC Super Hero. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior (141 minutes)

July 23, 2020 Special Double Feature

6:00 pm- Meet The Parents- Male nurse Greg Focker meets his girlfriend’s parents before proposing, but her suspicious father is every date’s worst nightmare (108 minutes)

9:15 pm- Meet The Fockers-All hell breaks loose when the Byrnes family meets the Focker family for the first time. (115 minutes)

July 24, 2020 Special Double Feature

6:00 pm- Girls Trip- When four lifelong friends—Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish—travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, braw…(122 minutes)

Bridesmaids Cast

9:15 pm-  Bridesmaids- Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a single woman whose own life is a mess, but when she learns that her lifelong best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), is engaged, she has no choice but to serve as the maid of honor. (125 minutes)

July 25, 2020

2:00 pm- The Lego Movie-The first-ever full-length theatrical LEGO movie follows Emmet an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person (the MasterBuilder) and the key to saving his LEGO world.

6:00 pm- Inside Man- A tough detective (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a cunning bank robber (Clive Owen) as a tense hostage crisis unfolds. (129 minutes)

9:30 pm- Do The Right Thing- This powerful visual feast combines humor and drama with memorable characters while tracing the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.

July 26, 2020 Special Double Feature

7:00 pm Pee Wee’s Big Adventure- When Pee Wee Herman’s most prized possession, his bicycle, is stolen, he embarks on a cross-country journey to find it.

Bettlejuice movie still

9:45 pm Beetlejuice- A happy couple with a lovely country house die in a car accident and must haunt their old home while waiting to be processed into heaven. Too nice to be scary, they befriend the new tenant’s daughter

Drive-In Tickets & Questions

All tickets are available for online purchase only. Only one ticket per vehicle required, regardless of how many passengers.

The Drive-In will open 60 minutes before the listed show time. It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the gate time found on your ticket. Parking spots will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Vehicles will be spaced every other parking spot or at least six feet apart. All vehicles must face forward.

Masks are Required

Upon entering, the driver and each passenger must show that they have their own mask. Masks will be required anytime a guest leaves the vehicle.

Temporary restroom facilities will be available onsite, although it is encouraged to use the restroom before arriving. Onsite restrooms will undergo enhanced cleanings before, during and after each event.

Concessions will be available. Guests are expected to practice social distancing while waiting in line for services.

Tribeca Drive-In Summer Series

“At Tribeca’s core, we aim to bring people together through the arts to send a signal of unity and resiliency to the world during challenging times,” said Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival Co-Founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal. “As an immediate and safe solution, we’re excited to bring new and classic works from filmmakers, creators, and artists to communities across the country through the Tribeca Drive-In series. As the nation begins to emerge from months of quarantine, we look forward to movie theaters reopening and hope that the Drive-In serves as a reminder of the magic of the moviegoing experience.”

“The Tribeca Drive-In series is a tribute to movies and the shared experience of watching them, even if from our cars. In anticipation of theaters reopening imminently, we look back at what we love about the big screen experience,” added Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival Co-Founder Robert De Niro.






Tami Tobey: “In November, You Can Hold Me Accountable – I’m Not Resigning Today”

Tami Tobey Midlothian
Tami Tobey at MISD Board Meeting on 6-15-2020 screenshot from livestream

Dozens Speak To Board At Marathon Meeting

Last night, dozens attended the Midlothian ISD Board meeting to speak out about the actions of board member Tami Tobey. Recently, a photo of Ms. Tobey was sent to the Dallas Observer, showing her dressed as tennis player Serena Williams. The photo has sparked outrage throughout the community with over 3500 people petitioning for her to resign, including several members of the board.

One gentleman, Mr. Wayne Howard, said he had graduated from the school system back in the 1960’s and reminisced about how things were back in those days. He pointed out, “We’ve got a church here that’s been around 100 years. You’re throwing around ‘you talked to the community leaders, the black community leaders’, who did you talk to? Ain’t nobody been over in my neighborhood. Ain’t nobody been over to the church. Who did you talk to?” The audience responded with applause and cheers.

He acknowledged the board members took a hard job. He emphasized “I don’t want you to hear me, I want you to feel me.” And he welcomed the new black members to the community. His remarks were powerful, whether you watched it in person or online. He said he had not been attending school board meetings recently, but fully intended to in the future. “I got my eye on you”. His insights were invaluable and the conclusion of his remarks were met with long applause.

The Board meeting continued until nearly 2 a.m. so details of each speaker’s thoughts cannot all be presented here, but suffice to say, the vast majority shared their belief that Ms. Tobey should resign. It was emotional as adults and young people shared their personal experiences and the impact of Mrs. Tobey’s actions.

A Community Speaks From Experience

One young lady, Olivia Natividad, who graduated in 2016 said she was of Hispanic descent and was immediately judged by her looks, even before she spoke. She said she was told by a guidance counselor that there wasn’t any ‘English as a second language class’ available. She said no translator was available right then, before she even spoke. “That experience still breaks my heart, and embarrassed me five years later,” she said. “I have never had to fight so hard for education in my life … Racism and intolerance will continue until Jesus comes,” she said. “But we have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus now. Diversity is not complicated, and there are many people here willing to help, so do better.”

That may seem incredible, but Ms. Natividad, continued “During my time as a student, I was sexually harassed by an educator, called racial slurs by my peers. When I brought my concerns to staff I was told I was over-reacting and I should be flattered by the attention.”

Next, Dr. Lisa Taylor Cook spoke, “I have come here today to advocate for changes to better our future,” she began. “We felt welcomed (to the city) as a multiracial family as I’m African-American and my husband is caucasian. At the time we moved here, our oldest was just entering third grade and our youngest had just turned three.”

She continued that at all levels in Midlothian schools, her children had amazing teachers but there were also biases that surfaced “every step of the way.”

“The expectation (an elementary teacher had) of my biracial son and of his non-white classmates was different,” she said. “At middle School, when I enrolled my daughter into the pre-GT classes I was challenged on if she could ‘make it’ in the class. I was surprised by this question as she had a 4.0 at the time. In addition, my husband and I were asked about our own educational levels and if we understood that pre-GT classes were challenging. I had to explain to the counselor that both my husband and myself were working on our PHDs.”

Ms. Cook said an experience in high school – just this school year – was even more disturbing. “A teacher told the class that she didn’t understand and didn’t believe in interracial couples and didn’t understand why these couples were having children.” The teacher continued that “she hoped her white children would not be with anyone who was black. This teacher felt her words were not offensive to my biracial child or the black student who was in her classroom.”

“Each of these times, I have had administrative support to minimize the biases that were influencing my children’s education. While she said she was able to advocate for her children, not everyone is able to do that. She continued that there should be steps taken by ISD board members: First, there should be a code of conduct for board members including how and why a board member can be dismissed and there should be a public timeline on when board members need to attend classes on diversity awareness. “Statements that are racist and discriminatory cannot be tolerated. There need to be consequences for such actions if necessary. These need to be included within the boards operating procedures.”

Yvonne Tomlin said she was a 2018 graduate of Midlothian High School. “At some points in time, I felt that I was prejudged by the color of my skin and not by the talents I had brought to the table … Racism is wrong today, has been wrong yesterday, and was wrong in 2012. The color of my skin is not just a party costume or some hip trend.”

MISD Board Member, Tami Tobey, Refuses To Resign

With a raised voice, you could hear the anger, frustration and defensiveness from Tobey. “This country was founded on change. There are certain things that are completely unforgivable…. Some of the biggest things I’ve learned were not on the mountaintops,” Tami Tobey said. “They were in the valleys.”

“It would have been much easier. Let me tell you, every mentor I have … let me tell you, they all said resign,” Tami Tobey said after dozens of residents of Midlothian told her to do just that at the Monday, June 15 Board of Trustees meeting. “Pray about this over the weekend. Run away! Get away from all this! … But, you know what, I don’t answer to but one person. I wanted bad to hear – Resign! You have a life. You have a business. You have plenty of things to keep you busy … This was a calling for me. I came here to serve kids. And my God still says stay.”

“The voters put me in this position,” Tobey continued. “And there is a process for me to leave … In November, please hold me accountable … I’m not resigning today!”

“She’s Gotta Go”

As she spoke, several members of the audience talked back, telling her she was making things worse. Some briefly chanted “she’s gotta go” before the Board President called the meeting back to order. When she told those in attendance, “In November you can hold me accountable!” A few people clapped and made noise, while others responded. One attendee said you’re showing your white privilege by saying hey listen I did this, but guess what who cares?

Ms. Tobey’s comments came after over an hour of citizens comments, all for the most part, expressing displeasure over her having appeared in blackface in 2010 and 2012. She tried to argue the difference in “painted face” vs. “black face” but the audience pushed back, clarifying they are both offensive. Many expressed their experience that there were problems within the district itself, not only with Ms. Tobey.

MISD Board Encouraged Tobey To Resign

Board President Matt Sanders introduced a resolution encouraging Mrs. Tobey to reconsider her resignation. Tobey introduced an amendment to the resolution to “correct it to the right year which was 2010 and also to include instead of painted face, blackface is what I allegedly did” and discussion ensued. At which point, the audience reacted to her using “allegedly”, by showing a poster with the picture. “Not allegedly, you did it,” they responded.

MISD Board Meeting Tami Tobey
Symphony Lowe and other Midlothian citizens discussed the upcoming MISD Board Meeting and how they felt about Ms. Tami Tobey remaining on the School Board prior to Monday evening’s meeting. Photo by Rita Cook.

In total, with other business being discussed including the budget and the 2020-2021 MISD calendar, the meeting lasted over six hours. The underlying message to the MISD board, “You’re on notice. We are watching.” This won’t be the last time the community speaks out about the inequality perpetuated in Midlothian ISD. The ball is rolling.

Focus Daily News encourages everyone to watch the board meeting. While we can tell the story, hearing the emotions and words spoken can’t be communicated with the same impact as hearing them yourself.

Red Oak Man, Lucas Cates, Life Forever Changed By COVID-19

Lucas Cates in hospital
Red Oak resident Lucas Cates had never even been to the hospital when his COVID-19 story began

Red Oak Resident Lucas Cates Shares His Personal Experience With COVID-19

RED OAK – He was a bodybuilder who thought he would never find himself with the COVID-19 virus.

He did.

He doesn’t even know how he got the virus.

But he did.

Red Oak resident Lucas Cates was a healthy 6’2,” 250-pound, 39-year-old man a few months ago.

That all changed when Cates discovered he had COVID-19.

In a nutshell he spent 24 days in two different hospitals and came out with not only COVID-19 as a diagnosis that almost killed him, but he now must spend the rest of this life with congestive heart failure.

“I knew no one who had COVID-19 before me and I was around no one who had it,” Cates began telling his story as he sat across from me at a local diner in Red Oak.

Lucas Cates-Rita Cook

“I was the guy walking around out there who thought I was invincible,” he said. “I didn’t quarantine myself like I should have or adhere to social distancing.”

Cates said before being in the hospital for COVID-19 he had never been to the hospital at all.

He originally got sick in December with 104 temperature, but that was pre-COVID-19, so the doctor had no idea what the diagnosis was at that time.

“Someone Was Standing On My Chest”

Fast forward to the end of March when Cates noticed he was having a hard time breathing.

“It felt like someone was standing on my chest, that was around March 29 and I thought this was not a big deal,” he said.

He didn’t let it bother him and he continued with his life.

He went to the gym the following Monday; his breathing was very heavy.

Tuesday, he saw his trainer and at this point he described it “I was breathing really heavy, but we worked through it.”

Finally, at around 4 a.m. that night he went to Mansfield Methodist with chest pains.

He had x-rays taken, but said he was telling the doctors at the hospital there was no way it could be COVID-19.

What the x-rays ended up revealing was congestive heart failure. To be on the safe side the hospital gave him a COVID-19 test since one of the symptoms is heavy breathing.

A Positive Test

It was not even 24 hours when he got the call from the CDC – he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“My world was turned upside down,” he explained. “I had been around my children and my girlfriend and I was ashamed and guilty. Not only had I exposed myself and got it, but exposed other people.”

Back to Methodist Mansfield he went where he stayed for eight days where he took another COVID-19 test.

Finally he was released to go home.

That did not last long because within eight hours he was back at the hospital unable to breathe.

“They said your heart is in worse condition than we thought, it is less than 20% and that is why you are having trouble breathing,” Cates said.

His doctors told him the congestive heart failure was a result of the COVID-19 and probably his smoking history had something to do with it too.

“The more I have learned about congestive heart failure it is not like arteries clogged or something that can be fixed, it is a disease that deteriorates your heart. So that is what is causing my breathing,” Cates explained.

He still has trouble breathing as he tells me his story. Every few minutes he must stop and take some labored breaths.

But his breathing has gotten much better since he was released from the hospital not only with an oxygen device, but also a $30,000 life vest too and a $100,000 bill.

COVID-19 Tests, An Unpleasant Experience

He mentioned the unusual number of COVID-19 tests he has had to take too.

“The first one was positive, then there was the second one and the third one was to test the second one – you know, the tests are also only 60% accurate. So, the fourth test was to look for antibodies. That was before I even left Mansfield Methodist and then Presbyterian had to test me again.”

Cates said if you have not had a COVID-19 test that can be horrendous as well.

“The test is the swab being stuck up to your brain practically and they turn it five times,” he said in detail also showing me a video of the way it is done.

“It was horrible, they try to downplay it, saying it is like the flu test, it is nothing like the flu test,” he said.

Two Hospitals & 24 Long Days For Lucas Cates

At Mansfield Methodist they did give him the Hydroxychloroquine and “some other concoction” as he described it.

After Methodist Mansfield he had a colleague who directed him to Presbyterian where she had some contacts.

The goal there was an elective surgery for his heart. That was a no go since during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic elective surgeries were not allowed.

Even with the knowledge of having COVID-19 and congestive heart failure, which he said can be a recovery time of up to two years and an extremely strict diet and strong medication, he said the feeling of loneliness in the hospital is what really sticks in his mind.

“I was in isolation for 24 days and it got so bad,” he said. “Every time they came into the room they had to dress out and put booties on and these pants and vest. In fact, it cost $15 of our tax dollars every time they go into the room. It got to the point if they forgot something once, they went out they would just basically just open the door and throw it in there.”

Isolation Was Traumatic

Isolation, Cates said that was as bad as the virus too.

“You see no one. They do not see your face and they call you ahead of time and say we are about to come into the room so mask up and stay on the bed. You feel like you are dying already and then the feeling that they do not want to get near you. It messes with your mind and that was the biggest thing. I finally got out and it was like getting out of jail.”

Since he was in the COVID-19 wing he was not able to receive flowers, since flowers can’t be sanitized. He did receive care packages from his friends. And his former girlfriend organized people to stand outside his hospital window with “get well” signs. She also stayed on the phone with him for many hours since he was all alone in the hospital room.

“I was in the COVID wing and I asked questions,” he said. “How many people are in this unit and they said they could not tell me. How many people have died, they said they could not tell me. They would not let me leave my room or see anyone being rolled by, that was weird. My worse fear was that I was going to go in and die and be all alone.”

Near Death Experience

Several weeks ago, he went to have the elective procedure done and he had a scope done through his wrist. He almost died during the process.

“My heart rate got down to 30 beats a minute,” he explained. “I reacted weird to it. I’d never been in the hospital and this was all new. I told him something was not right and then I heard the voices saying, ‘he is dropping, get nurses.’”

Cates said he know what it feels like to die now.

In fact, he started saying his last words. His body heated up and he could hear the doctors and nurses yelling.

“I was trying to hold my bowels, I was thinking of my kids and I thought this is the end, this is how I am going to go on this table.”

Oh, and one more thing he added “The doctor said they were upping my meds for three to four months and then I am to go back and see how it is going. If it has not significantly changed, they are going to put me on the heart transplant list – at 39 years old.”

After all the trauma he has now been through he said his mission is to educate people.

The doctors told him he only had three to eight years to live.

Whatever the future holds, Lucas Cates said his goal is to not only pass that eight-year mark, but to make sure no one else has to ever tell a story like the story he just told me.

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Walmart Changes Store Hours Again, Adds Senior Hours

Walmart hours coronavirus
Walmart publicity photo

For the second time in a week, Walmart is altering their normal hours to help with COVID-19. Starting Thursday, March 19, Walmart stores will change operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Stores that open later than 7 a.m. will continue their regular starting hours. This new schedule will make it easier for associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store. While the store hours change for customers,  associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.

Special Senior Shopping Hours

Walmart recognizes older customers could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus and to better support them, Walmart is offering special shopping hours. From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens. Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.

Item Limits

Walmart will limit items in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Other Changes

Auto Care Centers will be temporarily shut down so those associates can focus on stocking and cleaning the main store.

Vision Centers will operate on their normal schedule, providing essential services only such as glasses repair and helping customers pick up existing orders.

Suspect Matthew Gonzalez Arrested In Murder Of DeSoto Woman

Matthew Shane Gonzalez

DeSoto Murder Suspect Matthew Gonzalez Arrested

According to DeSoto Police, last night 21 year old DeSoto resident Mason Varela was stabbed at her home. The sole suspect, her ex-boyfriend Matthew Shane Gonzalez, has been arrested.

At approximately 8:20 p.m Monday evening, police were called to a home in the 1200 block of Greenbrook Drive. Upon arrival, they found a hispanic woman lying in “a large pool of blood” outside the front door. The victim had been stabbed several times in her face and upper body.

She stated to her father over and over again, “It was Matthew. It was Matthew. It was Matthew.” In the legal world that’s called a “dying declaration”. Those were the last words spoken by Ms. Varela.

The stepfather witnessed Matthew Gonzalez flee the scene in a gray 2000 Nissan Maxima. Detectives attempted contact with Mr. Gonzales by calling and pinging his phone. After obtaining more information and continuing to investigate, an arrest warrant was issued for Matthew Shane Gonzalez.

Earlier today police arrested the suspect MATTHEW SHANE GONZALEZ, a 20 year-old Hispanic male, (Date of Birth: 08-16-1999) in Irving. Detectives tried to interview Mr. Gonzalez after his arrest, but he exercised his right to remain silent. At the time of the press conference, the suspect has not made a statement.

DeSoto Press Conference
Detective Pete Schulte conducts media briefing on DeSoto homicide of Mason Varela

DeSoto Police stated the victim and the suspect were in a relationship for almost four years. The relationship ended about a month and a half ago. Gonzalez was described as possessive and controlling.

DeSoto PD Confident Gonzalez Committed Cold Blooded Murder

“And we do believe based on the evidence we’ve found today, that this was a calculated, cold blooded murder. We believe Mr. Gonzalez waited for Ms. Varela to return from walking her dog when he approached her. He brutally attacked her with a knife or some other sharp object,” stated Detective Pete Schulte.

Schulte stated DeSoto Police Department is “confident” Mr. Gonzalez committed this murder. He’s currently in jail, and will go through the justice system in Dallas county.

There’s no indication there was any argument prior to the attack. Police state the suspect took steps after the crime to hide his tracks . They believe this is another indication the crime was planned in advance.

Domestic violence spikes in November and December. DeSoto Police Department wants everyone to know if you are suffering from domestic violence in your home please call police. There are many things police can do that does not involve your loved one going to jail.

DeSoto Police Department asked the victim’s family for a photo of the victim and they declined. They’ve requested privacy while they grieve and we intend to honor their request.

Remembering Joshua C. Johnson

Joshua C. Johnson Editor

Joshua C. Johnson 1982-2019

How does a wordsmith run out of words? No, I’m not speechless, I could talk about our friend and editor’s merits for days. However, with the news of Josh’s passing, the sadness has depleted my word bank. The loss of Joshua is in many ways immeasurable. I never imagined sitting at his desk and doing my best to pay tribute to him.

I often described Joshua as the “gentle giant”. Even with his intimidating size, there was nothing threatening about Josh. He had a way of putting anyone and everyone at ease. Blessed with the ability to handle difficult situations with decorum and grace, he was able to improve any situation.

I first met Joshua Johnson in March of 2007. We were looking for an editor who could do everything … write, edit, lay out the newspaper, send the pages of the newspaper through the equipment which magically turns the pages from digital ones and zeros to hard images on what are referred to in the business as “plates.”

From there, a pressman takes over and does some more magic turning those plates into ink on paper.

Joshua had a very impressive record with the newspaper he was working for at the time so we made him an offer. Fortunately for us, Joshua accepted, and the second week of April took his place behind the desk he would call home for the next 12 years.

Over that time period, Joshua became not just a member of the Focus Daily News family, but an integral part of the communities in southern Dallas County and northern Ellis County.

I have never met anyone, whether from city governments, local school systems, Chambers of Commerce, businesses, churches, or accounts who have advertised over the years who did not have wonderful things to say about Joshua. In some way or another he had a positive impact on everyone he encountered.

Joshua’s talent did not stop with the written word. In every part of life, there are people with bad attitudes who attempt to spread their ill will to those around them. Joshua always had the knack of quieting them down and putting everyone at ease. He handled all situations I witnessed with decorum and grace.

I remember one instance when a delivery driver entered the office and saw a certain political poster. He immediately “lit into Joshua” about politics.

As only Joshua could, he put the driver at ease and they almost became friends. To this day, I can’t really remember how he did it – only the result. Joshua handled every occasion with that kind of diplomacy. I can only wish I could handle all situations as well as he.

Since those early days in 2007, Joshua kept doing more and more to serve the newspaper and the community. He would see me literally pulling my hair out (yes, once I had hair) over the tedious task of counting and billing out the legal notices placed by local cities. It’s a thankless, but very necessary job.

He started pulling each paper where a legal notice appeared and measured it according to the instructions of the government entity placing it. From that moment forward, I would find the entire job done and on my desk every month.

In 2010, I had a number of heart attacks and had to be hospitalized for quintuple bypass surgery. I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, much of which was in intensive care. Joshua took over all aspects of newspaper management in my absence and in the months thereafter while I slowly recovered.

He didn’t do it for the money. God knows, there isn’t much money in local newspapers – he did it because of who he was – no longer what he was hired to be, an employee, but a trusted member of the family and the best friend a person could have.

And he did it well. Joshua was an award-winning Editor at Focus, recognized most recently for his legal reporting. But he didn’t enter competitions for fame, he entered so he could learn where we could improve the paper. He had a thirst for knowledge and a vision for personal and professional growth.

The week since Joshua has been gone has been the toughest week I can remember in my adult life – and there have been some really bad ones. I have found myself breaking into tears on many occasions, often when having to tell someone else about Joshua’s passing. It is too hard to believe that someone so vibrant and full of life could be gone.

There is not one person on the small Focus’ staff who did not break into tears when they learned of his passing. We all keep thinking this must be a week that is just a bad dream – a dream we will wake up from. Why can’t this just be a bad dream and tomorrow we can walk into the offices and find Joshua sitting at his desk hard at work with his easygoing smile and positive attitude…

We will never be able to provide an adequate tribute to his memory, but we are trying as we put together this special issue, with comments from many of the people he touched throughout his all-too-short life.

Perhaps I can say it, using the same analogy I used when I told our children about his passing. They both broke down, crying uncontrollably. I said, “God must have needed Joshua more than we did. Rest assured he is now at God’s side and doing his bidding in heaven, just as he did it here on earth.”

Joshua – We Love You! I love you! I don’t know of anyone who has met you, who didn’t love you.

“Until We Meet Again!”

DeSoto City Council Votes to Rename Meadow Creek Park to Curtistene S. McCowan Park

Mayor Curtistene S McCowan Photo courtesy City of DeSoto

DeSoto to Rename Meadow Creek Park In Honor of Curtistene S. McCowan

DESOTO – The DeSoto City Council voted unanimously last week to rename Meadow Creek Park on Uhl Road to Curtistene S. McCowan Park.

The application was submitted by Place 2 Councilwoman Kay Brown-Patrick along with former Councilmember Candice Quarles, who was seated on the Council at that time.

DeSoto Deputy City Manager Isom Cameron read the resolution drawing out the details of why former DeSoto Mayor Curtistene, who passed away while in office, was so worthy of the honor.

McCowan “meets all the criteria for the renaming of the park,” Cameron said.

The much-loved former mayor founded the Concerned DeSoto Citizens 501c(3) non-profit organization in 1989, became the first African American to hold public office when she was elected to the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees 1990 where she later served as president. In 2000 she was elected as a Charter President of the DeSoto ISD Education Foundation Board of Directors and continued to serve on the Executive Committee until her passing.

McCowan was appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2007 to fill an unexpired term of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents and was reappointed in 2009 to fill a full six-year term where she served until 2015.

In 2012, she was elected to the DeSoto City Council, and in 2016 she made history when she became the first woman elected to the position of Mayor. She was re-elected as mayor in 2019.

She was also a member of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Best Southwest Partnership, Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition,  Charlton Methodist Medical Advisory Board and the African American Education Archive as a history program Board of Directors, just to name a few.

Brown Patrick said “The resolution speaks for itself and the desire was to do it in alignment with Mayor McCowan’s birthday in February, however the renaming policy did not work out with that date properly.”

‘An Honor and A Privilege’

Her husband Leon accepted the resolution and said at the meeting “to this illustrious council and to this city who my wife loved – this is an honor and a privilege to be here.”

He told council this park was actually acquired while he was on the Park Board “so it is bittersweet it was named after her. My wife loved parks, she loved sports, there is not too much she didn’t love about this city.”

The Park Board had also unanimously voted for the renaming several months ago, before the item was presented to council.

Resolution To Rename Windmill Hill Nature Preserve to Paul Dryer Nature Preserve

A resolution was also heard in support of the Dallas County Park and Open Space Board to rename Windmill Hill Nature Preserve to Paul Dryer Nature Preserve. The City received an application to rename Windmill Hill Nature Preserve located at 1400 Duncanville Road to Paul Dryer Nature Preserve in April.

Although, it is within the DeSoto city limits, the Windmill Hill Nature Preserve is owned by Dallas County and managed by the DeSoto Parks and Recreation Department through an interlocal agreement between the City of DeSoto and Dallas County. Therefore, the authority to rename the park rests with the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court. Council also voted unanimously on this renaming.

Dryer, who was in the audience and spoke briefly said “If you ever wanted to know what it was like to attend your own funeral,” adding “this is a such a great honor. I have spent the last 30 years operating under the radar screen, this is a wonderful honor, thank you so much.”


Methodist Mansfield Awarded Advanced Primary Heart Attack Certification

Methodist Mansfield’s cardiac team celebrates its heart attack center certification - the first in southeast Tarrant County. Photo courtesy Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Methodist Mansfield Medical Center 1st Hospital In SE Tarrant County to Earn This Prestigious Certification

MANSFIELD, TX, July 28, 2021 – Methodist Mansfield Medical Center is the first hospital in Southeast Tarrant County and fifth in Dallas/Fort Worth to earn The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark for Primary Heart Attack Center Certification.

Earning the certification required demonstrating the highest quality of cardiac treatment of STEMI or ST-elevation myocardial infarction caused by complete blockage of the heart’s main arteries provided by the Amon G. Carter Foundation Heart and Vascular Center.

The Amon G. Carter Foundation Heart and Vascular Center team showed it is prepared 24/7 to perform percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a procedure in which a tiny balloon on a catheter is inserted into a blocked blood vessel and inflated, pushing open the artery and restoring blood flow.

The hospital staff also showed it meets several Joint Commission standards of performance measures, which include keeping a patient’s PCI or door-to-balloon time to 90 minutes or less. This refers to the patient’s arrival time at the hospital to the time when they undergo PCI, restoring blood flow to the heart.

Primary Heart Attack Center Certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend Methodist Mansfield Medical Center for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for cardiac patients.”

“We are very pleased to receive this prestigious distinction from The Joint Commission” says Juan Fresquez, Jr., President of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. “It is an honor to provide our community and patients with the highest quality of cardiac care.”

“Getting immediate care to restore normal blood flow to the heart can be a matter of life or death,” says Levi Rice, DO medical section chair of cardiology, an interventional cardiologist on staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

Chuck Roe, assistant director of fine arts at Mansfield ISD applauds the skill of angioplasty at the hospital. When he had a silent myocardial infraction (heart attack), he was quickly transferred from the emergency room to the cardiac catheterization lab, where a stent was placed opening his 100% blocked artery saving his life. He shared his story in Summer Shine https://shineonlinehealth.com/heart-attack-stent-in-wrist/and celebrates Methodist Mansfield’s Primary Heart Attack Center Certification.

man standing in front of heart mural
Chuck Roe, assistant fine arts director at Mansfield ISD, poses in front of one of the murals painted in downtown Mansfield to show the connection between the community and the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. Photos by Methodist Medical

Guided by the founding principles of life, learning, and compassion, Dallas-based Methodist Health System (Methodist) provides quality, integrated healthcare to improve and save the lives of individuals and families throughout North Texas. Twelve hospitals proudly carry the Methodist Health System brand, as owners or through affiliation. More than 50 Methodist Family Health Centers and Methodist Medical Group specialty physician office locations are among the facilities served by the nonprofit Methodist Health System, which is affiliated by covenant with the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Additional information is available at MethodistHealthSystem.org.

Jimmy Monkres, Bank of DeSoto President Wins Community BuilderAward

Jimmy Mokres with Community Builder award
Pictured from left are Dutch Krebsbach – Treasurer, Don Dewberry – Secretary, Jimmy Monkres, and Curtis DeWall – Senior Warden. Photo courtesy of DeSoto Lodg #1409

2021 Community Builder Award Presented to Jimmy Monkres Jr.

Bank of DeSoto’s President, Mr. James P. “Jimmy” Monkres, Jr. was presented with The Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F. & A.M.’s Community Builder Award for 2021 by DeSoto Lodge #1409.

This Grand Lodge of Texas award is presented to non-Masons who have distinguished themselves through their service to their local community, public schools, Church or Synagogue, or to humanity.

Jimmy came to DeSoto when he started 3rd grade and graduated from DeSoto High School in 1977. He eventually went to work in the family business – The Bank of DeSoto, where he currently serves as President. Jimmy is a dedicated alumni of DeSoto High School. He supports the school district and campus functions both financially and in-kind with service from the bank. He was instrumental in having an endowment fund established for the Education Foundation by The Bank of DeSoto, with over $75,000 dedicated to supporting innovative teaching throughout DeSoto ISD.

As a dedicated volunteer and service orientated person Jimmy urges bank staff to volunteer in the district and community. They support area civic organizations like the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, the DeSoto Food Pantry, and various City events.

Jimmy Monkres is an individual who distinguishes himself through his compassion and dedication to all facets of community, and an exemplary individual, making The Grand Lodge of Texas A.F. & A.M., and DeSoto Lodge #1409 proud to recognize him as a pillar of the community by awarding him the Community Builder Award for 2021.

Break Room Brewing Company Shines in Cleburne

Break Room Brewing Co. shines in Cleburne
Break Room owners Collin and Shannon May

On a recent visit to Cleburne we tried a lively new restaurant, the Break Room Brewing Company, on Friday night. They feature live music on weekends on their spacious patio that overlooks a small pond in back. In spite of the July heat, those patio tables were quickly filling up, ready for the 7 p.m. concert by local singer/songwriter Kaitlyn Jewett.

The Break Room’s restaurant turned out to be a great find, with surprisingly good food, a welcoming ambience, and a very friendly staff. After being greeted by owners Shannon and Collin May, we felt right at home in their friendly atmosphere. The dining room tables were filled with family groups, many of them moving on to the patio after finishing their meals.

Break Room Menu

Starters range from spicy fried pickles ($8) to Calamari ($12), but my husband and I both opted for a bowl of the soup du jour, Lobster Bisque ($5). Burgers and sandwiches include a Bacon Buffalo chicken sandwich (($13), Hatch Green Chili Cheeseburger ($12), or a Reuben sandwich ($13), among others.

Break Room brewing company shines in Cleburne
Shrimp Scampi

For an entrée, I ordered their Shrimp Scampi ($17), and was so glad I did. The dish was really delicious, featuring eight large shrimp tossed in a white wine sauce with Angel Hair pasta, onion, tomatoes, and red pepper flecks. My husband ordered the chicken fried steak with gravy, fries and fried okra, which he said was great. But his CFS proved to be too much of a good thing, so we took half of it back to our hotel. Luckily, there was a good fridge in our room at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Cleburne.

Before and after dinner, I enjoyed a great chat with Shannon May, who was happy to fill me in on their company’s history. I’ve included a condensed version of the history below.

Break Room Brewing Company

“Collin May and Jeremy Hutton started our very first bar and grill seven years ago in Crowley,” Shannon said. “They met and worked together at a restaurant called Charleston’s in Fort Worth. I also worked there, but before Jeremy did.”

Collin and Jeremy planned and saved for several years before opening their first restaurant in Crowley.

“None of us come from a wealthy family. All of us worked in the industry full time while going to school, and have been in the restaurant business our entire adult lives despite getting unrelated degrees,” Shannon said. “After a year of being open in Crowley, Jeremy expressed a desire to move to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. We found a really great deal on commercial real estate there to open another small bar and grill. Despite the size of our start, our food has always been loved and always been delicious.”

Break Room Brewing Co. shines in Cleburne
Holt photo

After Shannon and Collin married and had children, she became a stay at home mom who home schooled their boys (now ages 11 and 13).

“I help support the business and Collin whenever I have additional free time,” she added.

They were able to move the Pagosa Springs Break Room to a larger location. It opened in April 2019 in a former brew pub establishment.

Big Fats’ Irish Red

“We started brewing beer there and had our very first beer on tap November 2019. The first beer was named Big Fats’ Irish Red. Big Fats is the nickname for Jeremy’s dog, Jack, who goes everywhere with him. We have also brewed a couple of IPA’s, an easy light beer, and we brewed a seasonal porter,” Shannon said.

“After the success of opening our family friendly brew-pub in Colorado, Collin and Jeremy wanted to expand that concept here in Cleburne (where the May family lives). “We wanted to offer food and drinks that you can’t really get here. We started shopping for a place to expand here a couple of years ago,” Shannon said.

The perfect spot to open a second Break Room Brewing Company became available, she said, when the Prickly Pear restaurant (previous occupants of the building) closed.

“We have big plans to add onto this building,” Shannon said. “We would like to add an additional 2000 square feet for our Brewers’ Lounge. We would have already broken ground on that but unfortunately we ran into some red tape. We found out that the laws in this precinct won’t allow us to brew beer here in this spot. We are in Cleburne but out of city limits.”

Break Room brewing company shines in Cleburne
Live music on the patio by Kaitlyn Jewett

Shannon says she met a winery owner at a Cleburne chamber event who had brewing equipment and a federal brewer’s number to brew beer. He offered his space for use by the Break Room Brewing Company.

“We drove our brew-master down from Colorado and got started! Now we have Big Fats’ Red on tap here in Cleburne. We brewed there and then had it distributed properly through our liquor distributor,” Shannon said.

Contributing to Cleburne Community

”We are so happy to be here in Cleburne, as we have enjoyed living here,” Shannon said. “As a business, we really enjoy giving back to the community. Each year we have done a school supply drive, plus a canned food drive and toy drive during the fall and winter. We have already partnered with S.H.I.N.E. Together here in Cleburne so that we can start giving back. It is a passion of ours to make a positive contribution to our community.”

The Break Room Brewing Company is located at 4001 TX 174 in Cleburne, open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. The Break Room features live music on the patio from 7-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please call (817) 773-8379.

Dallas County Reports Three-Day Total of 1,453 New Positive COVID-19 Cases and 3 Deaths

Dallas County COVID update graphic

Report Includes New COVID cases From Saturday-Monday

DALLAS — As of 3:00 pm July 27, 2021 Dallas County Health and Human Services is reporting 1,453 additional positive cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Dallas County, 1,296 confirmed cases and 157 probable cases. There is a cumulative total of 269,408 confirmed cases (PCR test). There is a cumulative total of 44,964 probable cases (antigen test). A total of 4,186 Dallas County residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19 illness. Today’s press release includes the number of new cases from Saturday, Sunday and Monday.


Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) provided over 497,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the Fair Park mega-vaccine clinic, which operated January 11 through July 17. A pop-up vaccination clinic at Fair Park will take place on Saturday, July 31 from 8am-2pm in Lot 13 for Pfizer first and second doses.


The additional deaths being reported today include the following:

  • A woman in her 30’s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A woman in her 60’s who was a resident of the City of Dallas. She had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high risk health conditions.
  • A man in his 70’s who was a resident of the City of Carrollton. He had been critically ill in an area hospital and had underlying high risk health conditions.


To date, a total of 184 cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern have been identified in residents of Dallas County, including: 144 cases of B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variants; three B.1.351 (Beta) variants; twenty B.1.617.2 (Delta) variants; and seventeen P.1 (Gamma) variants. Twenty-one have been hospitalized and three have died. One fully vaccinated patient subsequently became ill from B.1.1.7 infection and died. The provisional seven-day average of daily new confirmed and probable cases (by date of test collection) for CDC week 28 (week ending 7/17/21), was 307, which is a rate of 11.6 daily new cases per 100,000 residents.

As of the week ending 7/17/2021, about 58% of Dallas County residents age 12 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, including: 84% of residents age 65 years and older; 66% of residents between 40-64 years of age; 52% of residents 25-39 years of age; 42% of residents 18-24 years of age; and 30% of residents 12-17 years of age.

Chart showing vaccinated in Dallas County

In Dallas County, 1,716 cases of COVID-19 breakthrough COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated individuals have been confirmed to date, of which 124 (7%) were hospitalized and 16 have died due to COVID-19. Of all Dallas County residents tested for COVID-19 by PCR during the week ending 7/17/21 (CDC week 28), 9.7% of respiratory specimens tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

For week 28, area hospital labs have continued to report elevated numbers and proportions of respiratory specimens that are positive for other respiratory viruses by molecular tests: parainfluenza (8.5%), rhinovirus/enterovirus (21%) and RSV (37%).

CDC Recommends Vaccinated People Wear Masks

“Today we report 1,453 new cases and three deaths. This is a three-day total. Also, today the CDC instituted a recommendation that in high-spread areas, vaccinated people wear a mask when in indoor settings outside their own home. While this is frustrating news to many, it’s important to remember that the decisions of the CDC are not poll-driven decisions of politicians, but data-driven decisions of scientists who have prepared their entire adult lives to advise us in this moment.

I strongly recommend that vaccinated people follow the advice of the CDC and that businesses likewise require masks for their customers. Customers who are unwilling to wear a mask could be served curbside or in some other manner. Trust is important with our employees and our customers and this is a time for us all to come together.


I know there are vaccinated people who are growing frustrated with the unvaccinated but it’s important to remember that the unvaccinated includes everyone under the age of 12 as they are not yet eligible for the vaccine. As a society, it’s important that we do what we can to protect those who can’t yet be vaccinated or those who do not receive full protection from vaccination. This includes children under the age of 12 and immunocompromised loved ones.

New information is showing that some people who are vaccinated, but are contracting the Delta variant, are able to spread the virus to others. As a high-risk area per the CDC classifications, everyone regardless of vaccine status is asked to mask in indoor public settings. This is most important for those who have at-risk individuals in the home. It also means that everyone should get vaccinated just as soon as possible. It’s particularly important that children over the age of 12 who are returning to school get vaccinated as soon as possible as well.


Right now, what we’re seeing in our hospitals is that the majority of the beds that are COVID related are people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. This is also the general age of parents with school-age kids. If there’s a COVID outbreak at school, and children bring that home to their parents, then we’ll have a situation where once again we have a much less than desirable school year. I also ask everyone to cooperate with school districts as they encourage children to wear masks as we return to school. We’re all tired of COVID and we’re all tired of the fight but we cannot give up now. We must work together to defeat COVID,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.


All Dallas County COVID-19 Updates and Information can be found here: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/ and all guidance documents can be found here: https://www.dallascounty.org/covid-19/guidance-health.php.

Historic Downtown Mansfield Announces $50 Million Revitalization Project

conceptual drawing of downtown Mansfield
Conceptual images provided by City of Mansfield

Mansfield Looks To Reinvigorate Downtown District With New Development Project

MANSFIELD, Texas — The City of Mansfield is set to begin a transformative mixed-use development project in Historic Downtown Mansfield that will reinvigorate the district and catalyze future development.

The development – in collaboration with Hoque Global, a Dallas-based investment firm – will bring residential, retail, recreational, office and parking space to four acres of land along Smith and Elm streets in Historic Downtown Mansfield. Also planned are an innovation center that will foster and encourage entrepreneurial endeavors in the heart of Mansfield and an above-ground parking garage near Smith and Depot streets. Furthermore, the development will enhance the walkability of the neighborhood to expand its accessibility and promote passive activation from the Pond Branch Linear Park trail.

“For many years, our city’s leaders have been patiently waiting for a development that will revitalize this four-acre stretch of city-owned land in Historic Downtown Mansfield and position the neighborhood for long-term growth,” Mansfield City Manager Joe Smolinski said. “That development is here.”

conceptual image green space
Conceptual image courtesy City of Mansfield

The development – designed by award-winning architectural firm Merriman-Anderson – is a continuation of the City of Mansfield’s efforts to invest in the Historic Downtown district. In recent years, the city has completely reconstructed South Main Street, built the Pond Branch Linear Park, renovated the North Main Street Trail and positioned Historic Downtown Mansfield as an attractive tourist destination.

“Historic Downtown Mansfield is one of our city’s most beloved districts – one that has been essential to Mansfield’s storied past,” Mansfield Mayor Michael Evans said. “This development will modernize this neighborhood and put businesses already in the area in a position to thrive for years to come. It is a win for the Mansfield community and a win for businesses current and future.”

A Catalyst For More Downtown Projects

“Downtown Mansfield has served as a place to live, work, and play for many generations before us. It’s truly exciting to align ourselves with a proven developer, Hoque Global, that specializes in revitalization,” said Todd Tonore, Mayor Pro Tem and Chairman of the Historic Downtown Mansfield Revitalization Subcommittee. “Hoque Global currently has a $300 million project in Downtown Dallas. This $50 million project for Mansfield will be the catalyst to many other projects in the Historic Downtown area.”

The announcement of this project comes one year after the City of Mansfield adopted a comprehensive set of strategies for the continued development of Historic Downtown Mansfield. One of those strategies was for the city to use its Downtown real estate assets “to catalyze and sustain private development activity.”

“We are very excited to welcome Hoque Global to Historic Downtown Mansfield,” Assistant City Manager Matt Jones said. “Their project is a livable and dynamic mixed-use development that will serve as an economic engine and support our goal to maintain a fiscally sustainable economy. We look forward to seeing more people and new office, dining, and shopping opportunities downtown. This transformative development further advances our vision of being a vibrant hometown.”

Raising The Bar For Connectivity & Urban Design

conceptual image of Mansfield project

“We are looking forward to working closely with Hoque Global and their partners to enhance Historic Downtown Mansfield’s distinct cultural, economic, and physical flavor,” said Jason Alexander, Director of Planning for the City of Mansfield. “This is an extremely exciting project that promises to raise the bar for connectivity and urban design in downtown without compromising the delivery of distinct opportunities for living, working, and gathering.”

The City of Mansfield aims to break ground on the development within the next 18 months. Once ground is broken, construction is estimated to last for 24 months. In the coming months, the City of Mansfield and Hoque Global will continue to finalize the architectural design, amenities and other details of the development.

“We are excited to partner with the City of Mansfield on this catalytic project that will help achieve the City’s strategic goals,” said Arthur Santa-Maria, Hoque Global’s Vice President of Investment and Development. “Mansfield’s strong leadership is reflected in the City’s steady growth and success, and the Downtown Mansfield development will have a major impact on continued progress for the community. This project completely aligns with Hoque Global’s mission of development with transformative economic and cultural impact.”

New “Destructive” Severe Thunderstorm Warning Category Mobile Phone Alerts

screenshot of thunderstorm mobile alert

July 22, 2021 – Severe thunderstorms can be life-threatening, but not all severe storms are the same. Hazardous conditions range from tornadoes, large hail storms, and widespread straight-line winds called derechoes, to cloud-to-ground lightning and flash flooding. Starting August 2, the National Weather Service will better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail by adding a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, similar to our Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings.

“Destructive” and “Considerable” Damage Threat Categories

We developed three categories of damage threat for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. The categories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable, and base. These tags and additional messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats.

  • The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75 inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on smartphones within the warned area.
  • The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.
  • The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, damage is expected to be at the base level.

On average, only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms reach the destructive category each year, nationwide. Most of these storms are damaging wind events such as derechoes and some of the larger, more intense thunderstorms, called “Supercell” storms that can typically produce very large hail in their path. The new destructive thunderstorm category conveys to the public urgent action is needed, a life-threatening event is occurring and may cause substantial damage to property. Storms categorized as destructive will trigger a WEA to your cell phone.

All National Weather Service Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will continue to be issued and distributed via weather.gov, NOAA Weather Radio, Emergency Alert System and through dissemination systems to our emergency managers and partners. The addition of damage threat tags are part of the broader Hazard Simplification Project to improve communication of watches and warnings to the public.

Thirteen of the 22 costliest weather disasters in 2020 were severe thunderstorms. The new “destructive” tag would have activated a Wireless Emergency Alert for many of these impactful events, including the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history, the $11 billion derecho that affected Iowa in August 2020.

Learn how to stay safe in a severe thunderstorm. Knowing what to do before, during, and after severe weather can increase your chances of survival.

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center provides forecasts of severe weather up to seven days in advance, and severe thunderstorm and tornado watches several hours before storms form.

Midlothian Officer Takes Home Two Texas Challenge Wins  

four police officers standing together
Photo courtesy Midlothian Police department

Midlothian Police Department Celebrates Officer’s Texas Challenge Wins

MIDLOTHIAN – The Midlothian Police Department celebrated one of their own earlier this month when officer Chris Vinson returned from the Texas Challenge event in Corpus Christi with two second place wins.

The Texas Challenge is an event that improves the quality of Texas inspectors and their roadside inspections. Vinson is a member of the Midlothian Commercial Vehicle Enforcement team and participated in the Texas Department of Public Safety Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Challenge open to inspectors from any agency across the State of Texas.

He was supported at the competition by Midlothian Sgt. Jordan, Commander Harp and Police Chief Carl Smith.

The event allows for industry partners to interact and see first-hand what to expect on a roadside inspection. Additionally, it builds support for the mission of safety and voluntary compliance.

“Officer Vinson represented MPD well, earning 2nd Place trophies in Level One Inspection as well as Hazardous Materials Inspection,” said Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith. “He also earned the title of Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Overall Reserve Champion from the USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

Officer Chris Vinson

Officer Vinson is a police veteran of 18 years with nine years in Commercial Vehicle Enforcement. He began his career with the City of DeSoto. Vinson joined Midlothian Police Department in 2018 after being recruited to begin the newly authorized Commercial Vehicle Unit. He became a CVE Officer because shortly after being assigned to the DeSoto Traffic Unit and trained to operate a police motorcycle and advanced accident investigator he witnessed the mass devastation an unsafe commercial vehicle could cause in an accident.

“I was assisting another CVE Officer during an inspection where a truck and trailer had seven out of 10 brakes out and realized that CVE can really make a difference for roadway safety,” Vinson said. “Fast forward and I now realize that enforcement coupled with industry partnership has the greatest impact.” Officer Vinson continues to reach out to local industry and trucking companies to build relationships, educate and encourage voluntary compliance.”

Vinson also won the Region 1 competition this past May for the MCAP Division, which includes municipal and county officer Certified by the Department of Public Safety to conduct Commercial Vehicle Inspections.

The event was sponsored by over 70 retailers, corporations and industries that rely on commercial vehicle deliver of goods and commodities throughout the State of Texas and beyond.

“This is truly an example of public and private cooperation to make our roadways safer,” Chief Smith concluded. “Congratulations to Officer Vinson.”



DART Discount GoPass Tap Card Helps Riders

DART Tap image

50% Discount On DART Pass For Those That Qualify

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Discount GoPass Tap Card provides riders using any one of nine support assistance programs with a 50% discount on the regular price of a DART pass.


DART launched the pilot-program to ensure riders who qualify have access to jobs, health care and educational opportunities, reducing social and economic inequalities by making mobility financially feasible to more people.


All new and current DART riders who participate in any of the following programs are now eligible for DART services at half the fare:


CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program),
TANF (Texas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families),
CEAP (Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program),
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program),
Housing Choice Vouchers,
DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas program,
Texas WIC (Texas Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).

Online registration is available at DART.org/TapForHalf. Discount Tap Cards can be used on any DART bus or light rail, including Trinity Railway Express (TRE) between EBJ Union Station and CentrePort/DFW Station.


More information is available at DART.org/TapForHalf or by calling DART Customer Service at 214-979-1111, Option 1.

Parkland + RedBird Career Fair slated for July 31

Parkland logo

DALLAS – Parkland Health & Hospital System is expanding and is looking for individuals who want to use their special skills to help others, save lives and make our community better to work in its new RedBird Health Center.


Individuals who are looking for new career opportunities can attend the Parkland + RedBird Career Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 31 in the RedBird Mall Atrium, 3662 W. Camp Wisdom Road, Dallas, 75237. Parkland is partnering with Texas Workforce Solutions for the event.


“We have new career opportunities for positions including registered nurses, medical assistants, unit technicians, financial counselors, LVNs and many more,” said Akilah Griffin, MHRM, CPC, Parkland’s Manager of Talent Acquisition Sourcing. “We are encouraging members of the community to visit the career fair, bring their resumes and see what positions we have available.”


The RedBird Health Center is part of Reimagine RedBird, a mixed-use development initiative. Once fully staffed, the new health center is projected to provide 18,000 preventive and primary care visits each year including 23,000 women’s specialty health visits each year for people who reside in southern Dallas County, including Duncanville, DeSoto and Cedar Hill.


The health center will provide services including:


Adult and geriatric primary care
Specialty care for women
Today Clinic for walk-in appointments
Behavioral health for all ages
Breast cancer screenings
Social work
Physical medicine and rehabilitation
Patient Financial Services

For more information about career opportunities at Parkland, visit www.parklandcareers.com

For information about services available at Parkland, visit www.parklandhospital.com.


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