Bedford United hosts vigil downtown

BEDFORD, Va. — Less than 100 miles from Charlottesville, where protesters clashed violently with white supremacists over the weekend, this small town of less than 7,000 put together a community healing event at Centertown Plaza where more than 50 attendees shared thoughts and held vigil for the three people who died Saturday.

Those gathered held signs and lit candles for the two Virginia State Troopers who perished in a helicopter crash while providing air support for law enforcement on the ground and for the 32-year-old woman who was killed when a car drove through a crowd of protestors in downtown Charlottesville.

The event was put together in less than 24 hours to synchronize with similar events across the country held Sunday night. Bedford United organizer Kim Kirsch said she arranged the vigil via Facebook after learning the closest similar event was taking place in Roanoke, Va.

Kirsch told the group she wanted the Bedford community to have the opportunity to come together on its own.

Speakers included Bedford Town Manager Bart Warner and other community members and leaders.

A follow-up event is scheduled for Sept. 17.


Vela’s opposition to fence not new

velaU.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) made headlines earlier this week when he penned a heated open letter to Donald Trump, but it’s not the first time Vela has been vocal about his opposition to the border fence.

Vela, whose father was a long-serving federal judge led a Congressional visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2013 while the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill was still on life support in the U.S. House of Representatives. He and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (Arizona) filed a bill to resurrect the immigration reform effort before the end of the session, but Syria and mounting Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act ultimately derailed any chance at governance, culminating with a fortnight-long government shutdown.

Vela’s proposed bill sought to eliminate the conditions in the Senate immigration bill which required border security benchmarks be met before the creation of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.

“We’re talking about the 11 million that are already here,” Vela said in 2013. “For sure we need to put in place security measures and they can take many shapes.

“But it shouldn’t be conditional.”

President Barack Obama has said it was the inaction of Congress that led him to issue executive orders allowing temporary visas for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens. That program has been held up by the courts.

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Life is a carnival

I used to hate Melvin Mora before I moved to Brownsville.

Yes, I soured on the Orioles’ highly paid third baseman after his numbers fell following the front office’s sweetening of the pot. From North Carolina it seemed like he was sandbagging after he got his big contract.

IMG_4003During the latter part of his time in Baltimore, I was hot on my streak of watching at least one Orioles game per season (which sadly ended in 2013) and each time I made the pilgrimage to Camden Yards, Mora came to bat while the same song played.

I heard the song occasionally outside of the stadium and each time I was reminded of his failure to produce, and I would wince. In truth, I have realized in hindsight that the fact that no one could replace Cal Ripken Jr. likely factored into this dislike, but the truth remains that reminders of Mora brought me no pleasure until I came to South Texas.

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Uh oh.

Outside of gaining an extra hour of birthday thanks to my East Coast birth and my interpretation of how time zones work, having my first birthday outside of Eastern Standard Time (hell, outside of North Carolina) in Texas doesn’t seem like anything worth noting.

Yes, friends have been forced to video chat in hugs that used to be across the hall, campus or state, but outside of that there shouldn’t be remarkable about a man turning 26 in South Texas.

Except there is.

I have, in the past six months, gained such an amazing array of friends in this region that I couldn’t be happier with.

I have neighbors that somehow knew I would be celebrating at 11 p.m. CST Thursday who decorated my door and brought over cake, (That’s right. By 11:05 p.m. I was already sitting down to cake.) a friend who serenaded me in Spanish, another friend who made me feel like the most popular girl in a Miami high school by having doughnuts and balloons on my desk, another friend who is willing to host a party at her house for me and enough other friends to have consumed so much sugar today that I feel like a detox is needed before I even begin drinking.

Add to this the fact that I already had the greatest set of friends in the world before I even left the land of the pine and I’m almost convinced that I’m someone worth celebrating.

It’s crazy to have come from an almost apprehension and hatred for my birthday just five years ago to wearing a tiara all day and making ridiculous rules (No speaking Spanish, Casual Friday is canceled, et al) just because I think it’s fun.

Outside of all of that, however, there’s one more thing worth celebrating: My birthday is a Friday, meaning that five years after that glorious, life-changing birthday I can now listen to this song and sing the lyrics as loudly as I’d like.

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Permanent markings

My parents came to visit me about a month ago for the first time since I moved to South Texas.

It means I'm grown up.

It means I’m grown up.

It had been nearly five months since they had seen me last — the longest I had ever been away from them thanks to the state university just up the road from my hometown.

There were many great memories made, but one sticks out somehow.

We were all in my apartment hanging out when a project my mom was working on required a permanent marker.

She asked if I had one and I said “Yes, ma’am,” dropped what I was doing and went into my bedroom.

I reached under my bed and pulled out the Sperry shoebox that became the depository for all of my writing utensils sometime during the move.

I knew I had a handful of highlighters, pens, pencils and at least half a dozen permanent markers.

I opened the box up and presented it to my mom, who selected a single permanent marker from it. I then closed it up and put it back beneath my bed.

About 15 minutes later my mom was done with the marker and her project, but what she said next baffled me.

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Spoiler Alert Part 1

This two-part series chronicles the roughly 12 hours I spent chasing actor Edward James Olmos around South Texas for this story.

It was early May when I found out about the fundraiser and began putting together an advance story.

An actor, Edward James Olmos, was going to headline an annual event that raises money for the local Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children chapter.

My editor was freaking out about coverage, saying Olmos was one of his favorite actors.

Based on his reaction, I assumed there were dozens of movies starring Olmos that I had missed somehow.

I remembered watching Stand and Deliver in high school, but if I was being honest with myself, I couldn’t keep the plot completely separate from Dead Poets Society, another film about an inspirational teacher.

I shrugged it off as another actor that was before my time, but he and a colleague began discussing his work on Battlestar Galactica.

Those words, in my head, evoked half memories of cheesy sets and poor video quality akin to Knight Rider, only in a science-fiction setting. I remembered my dad attempting to explain the details of the wars between humans and Cylons, and something about a red eye, but everything else in the sci-fi compartment of my brain was filled with AT-ATs, Kessel runs and Kashyyyk history factoids.

But it turns out there was a second series. One that began in 2003. And Olmos was the star.

I wrote the advance, but assumed my editor would be covering the event. After all, I didn’t know Olmos from Robin Williams, so what warranted me being there?

He was busy the night of the fundraiser, though, so I headed to the event where Olmos’ speech was the keynote.

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We have the meeting as planned! NO EXCUSES!

I had plans to meet a candidate for Brownsville’s City Commission today following a meeting he was having at the zoo.


It’s an American Kestrel named Kelsey!

It’s within walking distance of the office, so I had no qualms about making it a little easier on his schedule, but moreso I was hoping I could see some animals while I was there.

When I called to make sure we were still on, he said the meeting room he assumed we could discuss his campaign in was full of squawking birds and asked if I wanted to meet somewhere else where it would be a little quieter.

Yeah right.

I convinced him it was fine, stressing that I wanted to make things easier on him.

While he was finishing up the meeting I met the little guy pictured to the right, plus a handful of snakes thicker than my arm, a cockatiel, a little owl that had his head cocked to the side like he was trying to sleep and DID NOT appreciate all of the noise and some insects that I somehow doubt realized they weren’t on display, but on the menu.

$Texas, Journalism, Uncategorized

A day in the life


Oh no big deal. Just picking up a media packet from this awesome courthouse which was erected in 1912.


Check out the marble stairs and walls. It’s like it was made for me. And, yes, I drag the back of my wrists against the cool, smooth stone on my way up and down.