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Ellis County Judge COVID Update Appears At Odds With Data

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UTSW COVID hospitalization graph

Judge Little COVID-19 Update July 30

On Thursday Ellis County Judge Todd Little issued a COVID-19 update for Ellis County via Facebook. He wrote the following, “Thought I’d would give an update on Covid. Currently there are 40 patients in Ellis County with Covid, out of 16 ICU beds, 8 are filled with Covid patients. Ellis County Hospitals were around 82% capacity early this week. 75-85% is typical regardless of illness. 81,000 people have received at least one vaccine. Most likely at least 75 percent of the 200,000 population (150,000 estimated) in the county have been naturally infected or vaccinated. If you’ve been naturally infected you will have much more immunity against the virus.”

“If we follow the trends from Great Britain we should be through this surge very soon.”

“No need to have lockdowns, mandated masks or school shutdowns. This too shall pass…live on my friends!”

Facebook Comments Push Back

When a commenter on Facebook asked the Judge for additional information about his assessment he responded, “… spoke with a private physician yesterday and we ran the calculations from DSHS and discussed those infected and the time that has passed and this is what he projected for our county.” In another Facebook post a commenter pressed the Judge for his source and he responded, “this was information given to me yesterday directly from a cardiologist who has spent 2 years studying the virus.” I guess the question might be, why is Judge Little sharing information from a cardiologist versus information/guidance from Dr. Nordstrom, Ellis County Health Authority.

Later Judge Little goes on to say, “I receive data weekly from DSHS and hospital professionals. Most of the time it is before any sources are released to the public. The data does get old each week. But after talking with physicians, they say this 2nd surge could burn out in a few days or weeks. My data is based on science from sources I have … not based on the public’s google searches. As you know everyone knows everything about everything these days with an IPhone. I still like direct communication with doctors in the field. This is why I have stayed away from posting for months but with all the fear again, I believe it’s important for people to see and hear what I know. This isn’t political for me … I am providing facts from sources in the field as of this week.”

However, according to the data/projections from UTSW it looks like this surge fueled by the Delta variant is on an upward trajectory vs. burn out.

Ellis County COVID-19 Statistics

Ellis Count covid vaccine infographic

From Judge Little’s statement the 40 patients he’s referring to are the 40 patients currently hospitalized in Ellis County, there are currently a total of 380 active COVID-19 cases in Ellis County per DSHS as of August 1.

Since March 2020, Ellis County has reported 325 fatalities from COVID-19, with no new COVID-19 deaths reported since June 25, 2021 per DSHS.

Ellis county covid 7 day avg graph
Data from as of 8/2/2021 https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/

UTSW Model Predicts Increases Across Dallas/Tarrant County

We don’t have an official “model” predicting COVID spread in Ellis County like UTSW provides for Dallas and Tarrant County. However, many Ellis County residents work in Dallas and Tarrant County. As we’ve seen from previous surges, when cases there increase, Ellis County cases tend to follow.

According to data from UTSW, Tarrant County hospitalizations are expected to reach 1,000-2,000 concurrent cases by August 16. Additionally, data projections there are that there will be roughly 1,500 new COVID-19 cases daily by August 16. This is particularly concerning, as schools begin to resume with full classrooms, distancing reduced and no mask mandates.

In Dallas County, UTSW predicts there will be 800-1,000 hospitalized cases and roughly 1,000+ new cases per day by August 16.

COVID-19 Immunity From Infection vs. Vaccine

Focus Daily News reached out to Dr. Benjamin Neuman with Texas A&M for a better understanding of immunity from COVID-19 infection vs. immunity from the vaccine.

“When it comes to the concept of immunity, I think most non-specialists expect it to be a fairly simple all-or-nothing deal. A hundred years ago, that would have been state-of-the-art knowledge, but the field has moved on since then, and the old wisdom that my mother and possibly yours passed along about the need to build up immunity naturally, without vaccines, doesn’t work anymore.”

“If I had a question about jurisprudence, I’d ask a judge. I don’t know who would be better to discuss the intricacies of the law than a person who has an advanced degree and considerable experience working in that field.”

“When it comes to a question about antibodies, I’d ask an immunologist. I don’t see where a judge would have the kind of free time to devote to building up expertise in what is frankly a difficult and rapidly changing field.”

“I don’t know that any of this was the judge’s idea – Governor Abbott gave the order to put COVID-related public health decisions solely on the shoulders of county judges, as opposed to the public health officials who are paid by our cities, counties and Texas itself to do this for a living.”

Recent Study Shows How Vaccine & Post Covid Immunity Measure Up

“A recent study answers the question of how vaccine and post-COVID immunity compare. The study compared people who recovered from COVID with people who got the Moderna vaccine showed that vaccination produced higher and much more consistent amounts of the most useful antibodies, called neutralizing antibodies, compared to natural vaccination.” https://stm.sciencemag.org/content/13/600/eabi9915

“This makes sense because all of the vaccines use a stabilized spike protein. The coronavirus spike is like a coiled spring – it is barely stable so that it can easily be triggered to reach out, punch a hole in the cell, and reel the virus in to start the infection – that’s what spikes are for.”

“The vaccines use a modified version of the spike that is changed in two ways – one change erases a part called the furin cleavage site, which is part of the spike triggering mechanism – that change works like a gun lock, in effect. The second change locks down the shape of part of the spike, so it is not able to release that stored-up energy like a natural spike.”

“The vaccine version looks like a spike, as far as your immune system can tell, but the vaccine-derived spikes aren’t fragile and hair-triggered the way the natural spike is. That gives the immune system a much better chance of getting a clean look at the spike, and making antibodies that will stick tightly to it. It’s the difference between trying to hit a moving target and a stationary one.”

“It’s not all bad news for people who have recovered from COVID-19 – another recent paper shows that some aspects of immunity that would help to clean up an ongoing infection may be similar after infection or vaccination. But the antibodies that are the front line defense in stopping you from getting infected in the first place seem to be much better positioned to do that job when they come from a vaccine.”

‘Prior Infection Should Not Be a Reason To Not Get Vaccinated’

“And another new study showed that people who have been infected, then vaccinated, make really excellent levels of the components that make up immunity, so prior infection should not be used as a reason not to get vaccinated.”

“Using a vaccine to build immunity is the equivalent of learning to recognize a criminal from a wanted poster – getting COVID to get antibodies is like getting mugged by that criminal. You can build some degree of immunity either way, but the vaccination way a lot less painful and safer than the alternative.”

“And if we really got to 75% or 80% of the population with functional immunity, as the judge imagines, you would know because the coronavirus would not be able to spread the way it is. At that point it is just math, or rather epidemiology – another complicated and specialized field of knowledge that would be difficult for someone not trained in the field to understand,” Dr. Benjamin Neuman- Professor of Biology and GHRC Chief Virologist at Texas A&M University.

Concerns About The Delta Variant

New information from the CDC reports that this variant may be as infectious as chickenpox. And while the Alpha variant was contagious, the Delta variant is thought to be up to 60 percent more transmissible. Texas Department of State Health Services says, “The best protection for yourself, your family and community is to get FULLY vaccinated. Since vaccination began, nearly all Texas COVID-19 deaths are among people not fully vaccinated.”

 

Supporting Local Means Supporting All Local Business

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By DEAN RIDINGS
CEO Americas Newspapers

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

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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

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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

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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

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
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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

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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

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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

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

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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
Bridesmaids

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
Beetlejuice

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”

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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

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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.

Support local news stories like this one by subscribing to Focus Daily News, for a limited time you can get a 1 year e-edition subscription for $10, normally $100.

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Walmart Changes Store Hours Again, Adds Senior Hours

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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

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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

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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 Eagles Fly Past Longhorns with a 45-0 Battle of Beltline Victory

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DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor and Cedar Hill Mayor Stephen Mason represented their cities as they gathered to watch the “Battle of the Beltline”. They had engaged in a friendly wger regarding the outcome of the game. Whichever team lost, that city’s mayor would wear the other team’s jersey while also making a donation to the Tri-City Animal Shelter. That will be a photo screaming to be taken and published! Photo by JOHN ASKEW

DeSoto Eagle fans as well as the players themselves were in for a treat as fellow DeSoto alum Ellis Hobbs gave a tremendous speech right before Friday evening’s game. Ellis Hobbs graduated from DeSoto in 2001 and went on the play in the NFL for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. Hobbs is still remembered for his electric 108 yard kickoff return for a touchdown versus the New York Jets in 2007.

DeSoto alum and former NFL star Ellis Hobbs motivated the Eagles with an incredible speech prior to the DeSoto win 45-0 over Cedar Hill. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

Coach Mathis Was Under The Weather

Head Coach Claude Mathis was under the weather with pneumonia. Therefore the Eagles looked to Offensive Coordinator Andy Padron to step-up as the head coach for this game. The Eagles began a little tight. This was the first game of the year that DeSoto was unable to score any points in the first quarter.

The stout Cedar Hill Longhorns played some shell coverage to slow down the passing game of the Eagles. It became apparent the Eagles needed to change up their play with more of a running game. In the second quarter, the Eagles came alive putting 17 points on the scoreboard going into halftime. Running back Chris Henley Jr was the key to the Eagles success with 170 yards and three touchdowns.

As the second half started, the Eagles continued their onslaught punching in two touchdowns on the ground, continuing to expand their lead. Quarterback Matt Allen showcased his passing skills by connecting with his two incredible wideouts, Johntay Cook II and Mike Murphy for touchdowns.

Longhorns were held to 67 yards

The stifling defense of the Eagles held the Longhorns to only 67 yards. The front seven of the Eagles helped the defensive backs to make plays and cover the dynamic wideouts of the Longhorns. Quarterback Cedric Harden Jr and the Longhorns fought until the end.

The DeSoto Eagles were determined to recapture the “Battle of Belt Line” Belt. Photo by JOHN ASKEW.

With DeSoto’s 45-0 win, this time set a record for the largest win in history of the series.  It’s the fourth time DeSoto has shut out Cedar Hill all-time. For the past three years Cedar Hill was the victor and that streak has now ended, with DeSoto leading the series 20-16. We’re sure Cedar Hill will be looking to avenge this loss next season.

The Eagles will look to extend their three-game winning streak as they play on the road against Waco Midway this coming Friday. Hopefully Coach Mathis will be fully heathy, as the Eagle faithful are praying for his speedy recovery.

Chris Henley Jr prayed before the Cedar Hill vs DeSoto game. His prayers were answered as he was able to have a monster game with 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

Mansfield ISD to Hold Safety and Security Town Hall Meeting on Oct. 21

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Mansfield ISD safety graphic

Last week Mansfield ISD Superintendent Dr. Cantu sent an email to all parents outlining new safety procedures in the district as well as the upcoming Town Hall. The Town Hall is scheduled for October 21, but parents have until Monday the 18th to fill out a form to express interest to serve on the district’s school safety committee.

Email From Dr. Cantu

Dear Mansfield ISD Community:

Our commitment as a district has been, and will continue to be, that every one of our students and staff members feel safe and secure when coming into our buildings.
With the events that transpired at Timberview High School last week, we have been taking an even closer look at our systems, analyzing what is working and assessing what needs to be improved upon.

Please know that we are forming ways in which the community can voice their input pertaining to school safety, and our school safety committee—comprised of students, staff, parents and community members—will be reestablished to help review systematic procedures and determine the next best steps.

In the meantime, we have implemented changes at all Mansfield ISD schools to enhance our safety and security processes even more. Effective immediately, MISD schools will have these heightened physical security measures:

The Mansfield ISD Police Department will be partnering with neighboring agencies to ensure that more law enforcement is available at our campuses.

There will be a designated staff member at the district level, who is fully trained in safety and security, to assist campuses in monitoring high-traffic and common areas in real time through our video surveillance systems.

In addition, random classroom checks will be implemented on our secondary campuses to check for weapons and other unauthorized objects using metal detector wands.

These protocols are in addition to our current Emergency Operations Plan and will remain in place until the safety committee finalizes its recommendations. Although the above measures go into effect immediately, the conversation with the community surrounding safety and security at our schools will be ongoing.

You will be receiving an invitation to attend a Town Hall Meeting in the near future. The meeting will be scheduled with the goal of opening a dialogue between MISD officials alongside law enforcement and district stakeholders. Additionally, it will provide an opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions about student safety. We want to be proactive about safety, so topics like social-emotional learning and our threat assessment reporting will also be included in those conversations.

We take the safety, security and well-being of our students and staff very seriously, and it will remain our top priority. I appreciate your support and cooperation as we work through this process together.

Parent Concerns

After receiving this email many parents expressed their concerns about the new safety measures, specifically the random classroom checks or what some have referred to as secondary searched. They feel this may lead to a potential for bias with searches targeting minority students and possibly campuses with higher proportion of minority students.

Mansfield ISD Safety and Security Town Hall October 21

School safety and security is a top priority at Mansfield ISD. To partner with the community in an open dialogue about the topic, the district will host a Safety and Security Town Hall Meeting.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Dr. Jim Vaszauskas Center for the Performing Arts, located at 1110 W. Debbie Lane in Mansfield. All community stakeholders are invited to attend.

The meeting will feature a panel of community leaders and experts, including Superintendent Dr. Kimberley Cantu, School Board President Michelle Newsom, Chief Greg Minter from the MISD Police Department, Chief Alexander Jones from the Arlington Police Department and Chief Tracy Aaron from the Mansfield Police Department. Bruno Dias, MISD’s Director of Safety, Security and Threat Management and a representative from Texas School Safety Center will also be part of the panel.

After a discussion about various safety topics, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions or share comments with the panel. The feedback given will help the district’s school safety committee—comprised of students, staff, parents and community members—which will review systematic procedures and determine the next best steps. Those interested in serving on the district’s school safety committee can fill out a form of interest. *The deadline to complete the form is Monday, Oct. 18 at 5 p.m.

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to attend the Safety and Security Town Hall Meeting, there will be free shuttles located at Lake Ridge High School, Legacy High School, Mansfield High School, Summit High School and Timberview High School to take riders to and from the meeting location on Oct. 21. Shuttles will leave promptly at 5:20 p.m. from each location. Shuttles will return riders to their high school locations once the meeting concludes.

Ellis County Redistricting Committee Workshops Have Started

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people in meeting at courthouse
An agent of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP, a legal firm that specializes in government procedures, briefs the Ellis County Redistricting Committee on relevant law during the committee’s first meeting on October 13th

2020 Census Data Leads To Redistricting In Ellis County

Ellis County, TX – On October 13th, the new Ellis County Redistricting Committee held its first workshop at the Historic Courthouse. The committee is comprised of citizen-representatives and is tasked with redrawing the boundaries for each of Ellis County’s four precincts following updated demographic data from the 2020 Census.

“The 2020 Census revealed population imbalance between the precincts,” said County Judge Todd Little, “because some areas have experienced more development than others over the last decade. The Redistricting Committee is working with our legal partners to equalize the precinct populations based on this new census data.”

During the workshop, the committee was presented an overview of relevant redistricting law by an attorney from Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, LLP, a legal firm that advises local governments on procedural matters. In particular, the committee studied the “one-person, one-vote” principle, the non-discrimination standard of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and case law limitations on the use of race as a factor in efforts to ensure equal representation of every voter.

1st Time In 56 Years Texas Can Implement Major redistricting Plans Without Federal Oversight

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the original requirement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that southern states obtain federal preclearance of their redistricting plans. After the 2020 Census, this year’s redistricting effort will be the first time in 56 years that Texas jurisdictions will be able to implement major redistricting plans without federal oversight.

Proposed redistricting maps are routinely challenged in court over allegations of disenfranchisement, but Ellis County pre-emptively partnered with the Bickerstaff law firm in April for guidance during the process. The Redistricting Committee represents a broad spectrum of citizens from the county and will work to implement a politically unbiased precinct map.

The Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet for two more workshops, and it is expected to have its new precinct map complete by November 2nd. Once the map is complete, the committee will submit it to the Commissioners’ Court for approval. Upon approval, the map will go into effect in 2022.

Readers Vote Methodist Mansfield Hospital as Favorite

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Methodist Mansfield Hospital Photo courtesy of Methodist Mansfieldi

A Personal Perspective

My family has used Methodist Mansfield Medical Center as our primary hospital since it opened. I admit I did not know anything about it until my granddaughter Berkley was about to be born. I remember when my son told me the due date was upon his wife Krista and to come to the hospital in Mansfield. I did not even know where the city was, let alone the hospital.

I asked him why there and he replied, “It’s the newest and the best in all of Dallas.
He gave me instructions and I found that he was right. The hospital room was perfect as was the care received for both mother and daughter.

I found that the distance from our Cedar Hill home (at that time) was not that far and immediately marked Methodist Mansfield down as the hospital I would be taking the rest of the family should the need ever arise.

My own care has been at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas, but on occasion I have even chosen Methodist Mansfield for myself in emergency situations.
I was heartened to find that citizens throughout the entire southern portion of the metroplex who voted in this year’s Readers Choice awards felt the same way.

The results were overwhelming with Methodist Mansfield winning the vote for Best Hospital, Best Maternity Center, Best Imaging Center (Breast Center), and Best Physical Therapy.

Celebrating 15 Years In December

Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, a 262-bed acute care hospital, has been proud to serve the community for more than 14 years while it continues to expand to meet patients’ needs. Here are just a few of the hospital’s recent enhancements.

Angel Biasatti, Director of Community and Public Relations at the hospital, says, “Methodist Mansfield will be celebrating the hospital’s 15-year anniversary on Dec. 27, 2021. When we opened in Dec. 2006, we were the first hospital in Mansfield with five hundred employees and eighty-eight patient beds. Today we have more than 1,000 employees, more than three hundred physicians on the medical staff and have expanded to 262 licensed beds. In these 15 years we have become a Magnet designated hospital, achieved top safety scores of an “A” by The Leapfrog Group, earned Level III Advanced Trauma Center, are an Advanced Primary Stroke Center and Chest Pain Center, and more to meet the needs of the community.”

In addition, “We are proud to be a community healthcare leader serving our communities. We also proud of our healthcare heroes for the compassionate quality care they provide each day and for going above and beyond to serve patients in need.”

Exceptional Hospital Safety Scores

Methodist Mansfield has achieved exceptional Hospital Safety Scores from The Leapfrog Group®, an independent watchdog organization for healthcare consumers. The hospital received the organization’s highest score, an A, for the 15th time for achieving the highest national standards in patient safety. The hospital achieved Magnet® recognition, the highest distinction bestowed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to healthcare organizations for nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. Methodist Mansfield is also designated a Level III Trauma Center and Level II Neonatal Facility.

This year the hospital joined Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing and the city of Mansfield to bring the first Texas Tech University System satellite campus to Tarrant County on the hospital’s 23-acre campus.

The Breast Center, Readers Choice Best Imaging Center

Methodist Mansfield is home to The Breast Center, which offers a beautiful, tranquil office with a diagnostic radiology specialist, advanced breast imaging technology services, women’s health services, bone density scans, and pelvic health therapy — all under one roof.

Newborn Intensive Care Unit

To enhance care for our tiniest patients, a new $8.7 million neonatal intensive care unit provides a procedure room, lactation center, and newborn clinic. The advanced facility also boasts robotic telemedicine services, the AngelEye camera system for enhanced security, a respiratory therapy work area, and rooms for parents with an adjacent laundry unit and family lounge.

The newly completed 82,000-square-foot, four-story Professional Office Building II on the south campus is home to family medicine physician practices, Texas Oncology – Methodist Cancer Center and an ambulatory surgical center.

The new Methodist Center for Diagnostic Imaging – Mansfield, across the street from the hospital, offers advanced outpatient diagnostic imaging services, including the community’s first high-field open MRI.

Methodist Mansfield is part of Dallas-based Methodist Health System, which became the first Texas member of the Mayo Care Clinic Network. This network gives physicians at Methodist Mansfield the opportunity to consult with Mayo Clinic physicians on behalf of their patients.

“Methodist Mansfield offers personalized healthcare services for every stage of life and every state of health,” says Methodist Mansfield President Juan Fresquez Jr. “Our families, neighbors, colleagues, and friends deserve a hospital that puts safety and patient care first and is committed to improving health and quality of life.”

For more information see the hospital’s website: www.MethodistHealthSystem.org

Goat Milk Soap Class at Cedar Hill Market

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ladies sitting at tables
Decor on the Hill

Décor on the Hill is planning to hold a Goat Milk Soap class Oct. 17, an event that has proved extremely popular with their customers in the past. Store owner Richard Leonard has been selling Stone City Farm goat milk soap at his store in Historic downtown Cedar Hill for the past three years.

“I found these amazing soaps at the Texas State Fair,” Leonard said. “I Love the Texas State Fair and try to go every year. I was attracted to the line because of the beautiful packaging and the fact that the products are all natural and made from high quality ingredients. Also, Stone City Farm Goat Milk Soaps are American made.”

Leonard said, “Our best seller is the Luscious Lavender bar. Another good seller is the Man Bar, with added coffee grinds for exfoliation. We also sell several other varieties as well as Stone City Farm Lip Balms, Lotions, and Teak Decks. The Teak Decks prolong the life of the soap. The products are long lasting and amazing, and I use the products daily.”

Stone City Farm

Stone City Farm is a veteran-based, family-owned and operated farm set on 14 acres in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The mission of Stone City Farm is to use high quality, all natural ingredients for people who desire a fresh, unrefined, natural product.

ladies holding bowls
Decor on the Hill photo

The owner of Stone City Farm Kathleen Nece makes the soaps on her goat farm in Tenino, Washington. Kathleen uses milk from the goats raised on her farm to make the soap as well as other natural ingredients. Stone City also makes wooden gift boxes and Teak soap decks by hand on the farm. Stone City Farm Products are sold all over the country, as well as internationally.

Decor on the Hill

Decor on the Hill will host a Goat Milk Soap-making class this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4p.m. at their sister store, Cedar Hill Market. The class costs $60, and participants are required to register in advance for the class. Class length will be 60 to 90 minutes. Students will learn how to make 100% natural goat milk soap in this hands-on class. All materials required for the class will be provided, and each person who attends will make two pounds of soap to take home.

Bars of Goat Milk Soap will also make great gifts for friends or neighbors on your holiday shopping list. To register for the class at Cedar Hill Market, 208 Houston Street in historic downtown Cedar Hill, visit Stonecityfarm.com. For more information, please call 469-454-0699.

Oak Cliff Pilates Empowers People Through Fitness

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woman and two boys at baseball field
Courtesy photo

Oak Cliff Pilates Emphasizes Increasing Physical & Mental Strength

One of the most talked about small businesses in Oak Cliff is secluded upstairs in an older building on Davis Street, where Amanda Mecsey helps her clients get stronger and leaner – slowly. Each movement is extended to help clients to safely stretch and gain muscle, while increasing both physical and mental strength.

The Oak Cliff Pilates (OCP) Facebook page explains this in detail:

IT’S OUR HAPPY PLACE!!
Where we challenge ourselves
Where we push ourselves
Where we grow
Where we accomplish goals
Where we find our motivation
Where we burn + sweat it out!!!!

Levels of Intensity

Pilates is about working all the muscles of the body together, in a way that they should be engaging in healthy alignment and healthy human movement. Pilates involves precise moves and specific breathing techniques. It can be intense, but also can be adjusted to work for nearly everyone, from older adults looking for a daily movement regimen to help with their strength training and balance, to teenage dancers supplementing their cardio workouts to gain strength and better body movement.

Oak Cliff Pilates founder Amanda Mecsey says, “Our mission is to put our people first. Take care of our trainers, cultivate our community, and harness the power of our ‘hood.”

Amanda’s background

Born and raised in Tempe, Arizona, Amanda attended McClintock High School, “Home of the Chargers!” in Tempe, Arizona, where she played Soccer both for the school and for a premier Arizona club team, Sereno Soccer Club. Then, she went on to Mesa College on an athletic scholarship for Soccer and finally Metropolitan State University in Denver.

She graduated with a degree in sociology and continued to cosmetology school. Her first job out of school was as a hair stylist at Crimpers Hair Salon in Chandler, Arizona.

Few people know that Amanda was an outstanding amateur athlete before she became a Pilates instructor. “I played left defender at Mesa College and still hold the record for the most career assists.” And, she has another talent: “I am really good at snowboarding. I spent a lot of time in my early twenties on the mountain.”

Inspiration to Mothers

Now she is an inspiration to mothers. Her toughest time in life came as a young mother. “When we moved from Arizona in 2014, I had a one-year-old and four-year-old, and I didn’t know anyone here. I had given up most of my career as a hair stylist and felt lost.”

Amanda started working out at a local Pilates studio and met some friends who have continued to be some of our closest friends today. “I started teaching Pilates and developed a passion for it, before moving to Oak Cliff. Through the power of friends and fitness I evolved as a person and continued my passion of Pilates to my business today.”

Like many small businesses, Oak Cliff Pilates began in 2016 out of her house.
“I was teaching Mat Pilates in the park and doing private Reformer classes out of my living room,” she remembers. “I continued to build a following and, working with a local gym, helped build a local Pilates studio and a strong community. In June of 2021, I parted ways with the old gym and opened my own location, Oak Cliff Pilates at 428 W. Davis St. Suite 3.”

Building Muscles and Relationships

The beautiful studio combines the vintage building’s original bones coupled with brand new cutting-age Pilate’s equipment. Her gym is used daily to help strengthen the clients who use them. Reservations for a spot are encouraged as her classes fill up quickly.

Amanda says, “It brings me immense joy to empower people of our amazing neighborhood through fitness. I love working with all of our members and cultivating a relationship and helping people beyond a normal workout.”

Amanda’s relationships with her clients make her more than just a coach because she is considered a friend. One who “kicks your butt!”

Sports Are a Big Part Of Her Personal Life

lady and man on theme park ride
Courtesy photo

Her closest friend is her significant other, Kiel Jared, whom she met in Temple, Arizona on Halloween, “Our favorite holiday!” They have an awesome dog named Jethro, two cats named Luna and Star, and a Leopard Gecko named Teriyaki.

When she’s not in her gym helping her clients get stronger, she takes care of her two boys who both play hockey and soccer. She also wakes up early to run and recently completed her first Marathon. But, she admits, “I spend a lot of time at the Pilates Studio.”

A serious athlete herself, she would love to meet pro tennis player Serena Williams one day. “She is the most incredible, talented athlete on the planet, and an inspiration to everyone, especially women.”

Oak Cliff Pilates is part of the BISHOP ARTS FITNESS FESTIVAL happening this weekend. The event will feature workouts, holiday shopping, cocktails, giveaways and more.
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Amanda says, “We are honored to join @denovoactive and @thefamilyplace for a Bishop Arts Community fitness event!” Amanda is inviting the public to come check out her class.

INDI ONE Electric Smart Car With Onboard Supercomputer

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INDI ONE electic vehicle
Publicity photo

INDI ONE EV With Supercomputer

For many of us, time in our car is a chance for us to decompress, unplug, crank up the radio and enjoy the open road…when there’s not traffic of course. But, have you ever wanted to use that “downtime” to multi-task? Personally, my answer is NO. However, the folks at  INDI EV, a company specializing in the design of the next generation of electric vehicles, disagree with me.

Today they announced the launch of the revolutionary INDI ONE, a five-passenger family crossover representing the future of smart mobility. From their press release, INDI ONE, will be “the first vehicle to have an integrated supercomputer specifically to enrich the driving and digital life experience”.

INDI ONE is a vehicle that allows drivers to create content and engage with audiences. Um, what kind of content is one creating while driving to work or to pick up the kids from school? They continue, it “assists with everyday life tasks, and offers an impressive range of customizable hardware and software features”. So, it’s like Siri or Alexa for my car?

Created in Los Angeles, the INDI ONE is unique from other electric vehicles in the space thanks to its VIC (Vehicle Integrated Computer), the first ever in-vehicle integrated supercomputer. Supported by an open-sourced network and Software Development Kit for third-party developers, VIC is an integrated supercomputer offering any array of media hardware as the central heart and offers services such as Life Assistant, a personalized virtual assistant equipped to learn your habits and enhance your life. Do I need my vehicle to learn my habits? I’m leaning towards this sounds kind of creepy.

‘You Do You’

“We at INDI EV saw a disconnect in the software experience when consumers transition from using their computers and phones to getting into their cars,” said Andre Hudson, INDI EV Head of Design. “Enabled by an electric vehicle platform, we saw an opportunity to bridge this gap and elevate what your vehicle can enable you to do with INDI ONE. We see cars as more than just a mode of transportation but as a device that empowers the ‘you do you’ mentality. Through smart design, artificial intelligence, and unparalleled customization features, we’re expanding the horizons of how your vehicle can support your life.”

Apparently the advanced software with the VIC will allow riders to capture content while on trips with the many interior and exterior cameras, live stream videos, and even shoot, edit and upload content to the cloud – all from inside the vehicle. Okay, so if I’m on a family road trip my car can capture all of our memories, and we can share them with family and friends. No more wrestling with the GoPro, the INDI ONE records all the action inside and out. Am I the only one wondering why anyone wants to watch my kids argue in the backseat or ask ‘how much longer’ for the 100th time?

I guess if you’ve been sitting around just waiting for the day for an EV to arrive that can multi-task for you, learn your habits, record your trips to soccer practice, then check out the INDI ONE. However, I prefer my car to be fun yet safe to drive, I can multitask when I’m not enjoying the open road.

Launching 4th Quarter 2022

The launch edition of INDI ONE is targeted to arrive in the last quarter of 2022 with an expected MSRP of USD $45,000. The launch edition will float on an adjustable air-ride suspension, maximizing both off-road clearance and aerodynamic efficiency. The all-wheel-drive platform contains a modularized 95KW battery capable of a 275-mile range and a zero to 60 time of five and a half seconds, with 22-inch wheels adding to the athletic stance.

INDI EV was also developed to be conscious of the impact on future generations. The company’s supplier network provides recyclable materials with shorter production times, resulting in less energy and a lower carbon footprint.

Lockhart excelling academically and athletically at Rice University

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Rice football players
October 02, 2021: During a game between the Rice Owls and the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker | Rice Athletics)

Strong Academic Foundation at CHISD

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Kirk Lockhart said the Advanced Placement classes he completed at Cedar Hill prepared him for academics at Rice University in Houston, one of the premier academic universities in the United States.

Lockhart, 20, graduated in the Top 10 percent of the Cedar Hill High School Class of 2019 and enjoys the academic and athletic challenges at Rice. He was named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll the last two years.

“Schooling at Rice is very focused on the student,” Lockhart said. “The professor knows your name, who you are and what you do at Rice.”

Lockhart is a Sport Management Major, with a minor in Business. His plans are to manage an athletic facility or to work in facility management for a sports franchise or university athletic department. He has interned with Rice Athletics, working at games when the Owls won Conference USA in Women’s Soccer and working at games for other Rice sports.

Lifelong Longhorn

As a lifelong Longhorn, Lockhart started Kindergarten at Waterford Oaks Elementary in 2006 – just months before Cedar Hill won its first Football Championship.

Nearly a decade later, he was a Bessie Coleman Middle School scholar when the Longhorns repeated as State Champions in 2013 and 2014.

“I went to all of those games when I was in middle school,” Lockhart said. “Playing football for Cedar Hill was a dream when I was a kid.”

Lockhart, who plays Safety, won a district championship as a senior in 2018. He was also part of Student Council, the Computer Club, Track & Field and Powerlifting at CHHS.

As a sophomore at Cedar Hill, he played on the JV Team and started his junior year on JV – an unlikely path for a Division I Football Player.

Carlos Lynn arrived at Cedar Hill in 2017, and Lockhart worked hard to find his way on to the varsity roster. Lockhart also learned a lot from former CHHS defensive coordinator DeMarcus Harris, who was hired as Mesquite High’s head coach last spring.

“Lockhart’s a hard worker and just found his way through at Cedar Hill,” Cedar Hill head football coach Carlos Lynn said. “He is a good testament of hard work. He was ready to go every time we played.”

The Reason Behind Choosing Rice

Coming from an established high school football program, Lockhart wanted to be part of building something special when he chose a college football program.

“If you go to a large school, you’re not changing any culture,” Lockhart said. “I’ve always wanted to be a guy that changes the culture. I don’t care who else would have offered me. I definitely still would have gone to Rice.”

Fifty-nine years ago, President John F. Kennedy spoke at Rice Stadium – the venue where the Owls still play their home games – and gave a famous speech about efforts to reach space. In that speech, Kennedy spoke about doing challenging things, “Why does Rice play Texas…because it’s hard, not because it’s easy.”

Rice has made a total of 12 bowl games, between 1937 and 2014. Lockhart turns 21 years old on November 28, and the Owls’ 13th bowl appearance would be a great birthday present.

The Owls (2-3) must win six games to qualify for a bowl, and Lockhart clinched the program’s second victory with a 24-19 over Southern Miss on October 2, recording his first collegiate interception late in the fourth quarter.

“Viper”

Lockhart was an unlikely hero in the game. He wasn’t feeling well (but tested negative for COVID-19) and was only expected to go into the game if fellow Safeties were injured. The Owls called upon Lockhart, who recorded two tackles and the interception in the victory.

“It’s always exciting to get a walk off the field pick – that played a big role in finishing the game,” said Lockhart, who at Rice often plays a position called “Viper”, which is a hybrid of Safety and Linebacker.

Lockhart played primarily as a true freshman in 2019, accumulating 12 tackles for the Owls, who finished 3-9 but won their final three games of the season.

Eligible Through 2023

Last season, Rice finished 2-3, playing just five of its 12 games on the schedule due to COVID-19 related cancellations. Lockhart played in four games, finishing tied for second on the team in tackles with 28. He had seven tackles in a 20-0 victory over then-#15 and undefeated Marshall last December.

Because he only appeared in four games, Lockhart didn’t use a year of eligibility last season, so he’ll be eligible through the 2023 football season.

This season, Lockhart and the Owls visited the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas and led 17-7 in the second half, before the Razorbacks – currently ranked 17th in the nation – rattled off 31 unanswered points.

“It’s a blessing to play for head coach Mike Bloomgren, because he won’t say we can’t beat Arkansas or Texas because we can,” Lockhart said. “I really love my defensive coordinator, Brian Smith, because he develops great schemes every game. It’s a blessing to be able to go out there and play football.”

Lockhart recorded his first collegiate sack in a loss to crosstown rival, the University of Houston, in the Bayou Bucket Rivalry Game and had two tackles in a loss to Texas in Austin.

Living In Space City

At 5 p.m. Friday, Lockhart and the Owls will visit undefeated UT San Antonio, led by Lockhart’s former Cedar Hill teammate, junior Zakhari Franklin, who has 37 receptions for 447 yards and four touchdowns this season.

“Zakhari is the sole reason they changed the way they played,” Lockhart said. “He had such a breakout game when we played UTSA my freshman year.”

Lockhart says adjusting to the humidity in Houston has been a challenge, but he’s enjoying living in Space City. His twin sister attends Texas Southern University, located just three miles away.

The Owls defeated TSU, 48-34, on Celebrate Houston! Day.

Lockhart has maintained his allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys over the Houston Texans, but he conceded that he might root for the Houston Astros or Houston Dynamo.

DeSoto In Depth Looks At 2021 Battle of Beltline

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football players run onto field
DeSoto's Eagles are eager to put on a show as they host the Longhorns Friday night. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

Former DeSoto Cornerback & Local officials Discuss 2021 Battle of Beltline

DESOTO – The Battle of Beltline really became a “thing” in 2013 according to a live “DeSoto In Depth” program Thursday morning covering the fiercest High School football rivalry in the region coming Friday night.

A unique perspective was shared by DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor, State Representative and former DeSoto Mayor Carl O. Sherman and the mystery guest who turned out to be former DeSoto Eagle Runningback/Cornerback BJ Hanspard. Hanspard currently plays for the Baylor Bears in Waco.

As a reminder, the current Baylor Bear Cornerback had committed to Arkansas just one day after an unofficial campus visit even though many had believed he would follow his father to Texas Tech. His father, Byron Hanspard (who also played for DeSoto High School) was a unanimous All-American and the Doak Walker award winner in 1996. Byron went on to be drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons and play professional football for them. He set a team record (since broken) in his rookie year with a 77 yard run from scrimmage. The Hanspard name is well-known in the City of DeSoto and in the annals of Eagle football.

BJ Hanspard

BJ Hanspard retracted his University of Arkansas decision however, and ended up at Baylor when the Razorback head coach Bret Bielema parted ways with the Razorbacks’ organization.

Hanspard remembers his time as an Eagle well, and is ready for his alumni to walk away with a victory tomorrow night.

A Friendly Wager

No matter who wins though, Mayor Proctor said it will be a win-win for either city. Proctor and Cedar Hill Mayor Stephen Mason have a “friendly wager” for Friday night’s showdown.

Whichever team loses, that city’s mayor must wear the other team’s jersey while also making a donation to the Tri-City Animal Shelter.

“So, it is a win-win situation for the Tri-City Animal Shelter,” Proctor said.

But everyone knows DeSoto’s Football coach Claude Mathis is ready this year. Even so, over the years there have been some upsets.

In 2016, when Hanspard was on the DeSoto Eagles football team he was part of the fierce rivalry as the Eagles punished the Cedar Hill Longhorns with a score of 33 Eagles to 18 for the Longhorns.

Hanspard remembered, “That was the last good Battle of Beltline in terms of the final score.”

That year the Eagles logged two victories against the Longhorns.

“We were able to play the Battle of Beltline twice. The first time we went into their home, so we knew we had to ‘bring it,’ we had to have the city with us.”

For that game, the scoreboard indeed did all the talking.

The second game that year, Hanspard remembers, was the playoffs and played in Jerry’s country at Texas Stadium.

“We buckled up,” Hanspard said, adding it was a blessing “to be a part of that.”

“Part of that” meaning the Eagles 16-0 record that year.

The DeSoto Eagles weren’t so lucky in years following, taking a hit in 2019 with the Battle of Beltline when the Longhorns came in with 28 to the Eagles 27.

“That one hurt,” Proctor said.

Then in 2020 it was another Eagles loss with 42 to the Longhorns 49.

These days Proctor said, “It is family until game day – and it is all about Eagle country.”

An Exciting Rivalry

District 109 State Representative Sherman added his thoughts on the rivalry since his wife, Michelle is a former Longhorn and athlete from Cedar Hill.

“I am excited about the game,” Sherman said. “And who is not excited about the rivalry. In fact, as mayor that was always a high point during the year.”

A high point so much in fact that Sherman remembers extra stands having to be brought into the stadium for the Eagle/Longhorn rivalry each year.

Sherman also reminded those listening Thursday morning that the DeSoto High School Football team has had more NFL athletes in the nation than any other high school.

Home Field Advantage

As for Friday night’s game, the Eagles will have the home advantage this year and Proctor said, “We are going to have to do different this year.”

She echoed the sentiment that Hanspard said earlier “we are not rising to the occasion, but instead falling back on the training.”

Proctor added “The Eagles have the right coaches, right staff and the right season.”

Sherman also said the Hanspard family over the years has always meant much to the City of DeSoto.

“They instilled in their children the legacy,” Sherman said.

The Baylor Bears Cornerback said that growing up with his dad first and foremost it was “definitely a blessing to have a father in the household who has done such amazing things on and off the field.”

He also added his father showed him he still had what it takes when the son got a little too cocky recently.

Best Rivalry Around, Battle of Beltline

With all eyes on the Friday night Battle of Beltline, Cedar Hill ISD Public Information Officer Michael Sudhalter said, “The Cedar Hill-DeSoto Battle of Belt Line is one of the premier rivalries, not just in Texas, but in the United States. Both programs regularly make deep playoff runs. There’s just six miles between the two campuses, and many of the scholar-athletes grow up attending church and playing sports alongside one another.

football players run onto field
Cedar Hill’s Red Army is ready for The Battle of The Beltline. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

Step aside, Texas-Oklahoma, Alabama-Auburn and Ohio State-Michigan, the best rivalry around is here in the Best Southwest. From my perspective, I arrived at Cedar Hill ISD in March 2020, and the first Battle of Belt Line Game I saw was a classic when Cedar Hill defeated DeSoto, 49-42 last fall at Longhorn Stadium.”

The game will be broadcast live on 660-AM – The Answer, at 6:30 with a one-hour Countdown to Kickoff, or WFAA will have the game on their YouTube channel.

What Makes a High School Football Game A Famous Rivalry? Battle of Beltline

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battle of beltline poster

In the past 10 years, DeSoto has played Cedar Hill eleven different times with the Eagles 6-5 vs the Longhorns.

This includes one playoff game were DeSoto won 55-41 in 2016. The past three seasons the Longhorns have taken home the belt with dramatic wins.

Next, these two teams have won four state titles in the past 15 seasons. Anything can happen on the gridiron under the Friday night lights with a packed stadium.

Will this be another year with both teams as state title contenders? It’s too early to know. The two schools are less than ten miles apart. Therefore, it’s not out of the norm for these young men to see each other in church or other non school-relate activities. Some could even be related, so this Friday you could see a house divided.

Coach Mathis truly understands the magnitude of this rivalry game and has his team ready for the task. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

DeSoto Eagles:

Coach Mathis and his DeSoto Eagles have been on fire, as they have won their last two games by an average margin of 48 points.

Field general Matthew Allen is able to spread the ball around his dynamic playmakers to rack up points against his opponents. Allen has passed for 1,453 yards and 26 touchdowns in 6 games.

The Eagles are excited to put on a show as they host the Longhorns. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

His main targets are Johntay Cook II, Mike Murphy and Stephon Johnson. These young men have the speed and size to make amazing plays.

The running game is led by sophomore Christopher Henley Jr., and this young man has already rushed for 400 yards this season.

Coach Lynn is in focus as he takes his team to DeSoto this Friday. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

Cedar Hill Longhorns

Coach Carlos Lynn has put together a solid team that is on a a ee-game winning streak. The Longhorns have only been giving up an average of ten points per game on this winning streak.

Junior quarterback Cedric Harden II has played well with his arm doing yoman’s service. Harden has also been able to extend plays with his legs.

Watch out for wideouts Keunte Rhinehart and Jarrus Nicholson to make some big time plays in the game. Meanwhile, running back Jaylen Jenkins is looking to have another big game with his explosive runs.

Cedar Hill is motivated to win 3 in a row for The Battle of The Beltline. Photo by JOHN ASKEW

The Longhorn defense will look to make the Eagles turn the ball over a lot, as Cedar Hill has averaged almost two turnovers a game.

Football fans who follow these teams understand why Friday nights are so amazing. When there’s nothing but talent and excellent coaching it is no wonder why WFAA named this the game of the week.

10-year history of DeSoto vs Cedar Hill

  • 2011 DeSoto 44-13 
  • 2012 DeSoto 48-35 
  • 2013 DeSoto 47-20
  • 2014 Cedar Hill 65-42
  • 2015 Cedar Hill 26-2
  • 2016 DeSoto 55-41
  • 2017 DeSoto 21-7
  • 2018 Cedar Hill 32-17
  • 2019 Cedar Hill 28-27
  • 2020 Cedar Hill 49-42

DeSoto Eagles host the Cedar Hill Longhorns this Friday night at Eagle Stadium. Hear all the play-by-play action on 660-AM – The Answer, beginning at 6:30 with a one-hour Countdown to Kickoff.

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