War hero comes home: Veteran rejoins family, adjusts to civilian life

The story “War hero comes home,” published in the Nov. 2, 2005 issue of The Tomball Potpourri, won an ASP Westward Excellence in Journalism Award: Third Place, for Best Enterprise Story 2005.

It is about a Tomball soldier who returns home after fighting in Iraq and the story chronicles his readjustment to civilian life.

War hero comes home
An award-winning story I wrote for the Tomball Potpourri.

Here is the first four graphs of the story:

Decorated Iraq war veteran Ben Brown has rejoined his family in the Pinehurst area and is spending as much time as he can with his 18-month-old daughter, Alison Leean Brown. Brown, who was injured in the war when a crudely-made bomb was detonated with a cell phone a few yards from where he was standing, received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with a V Device.

Brown, a 1996 graduate of Tomball High School, enlisted in the army for the second time soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At that time, he was serving in the reserves after completing a three-year enlistment in the army soon after graduating high school.

But all of that is behind him now. He arrived home earlier this month after spending about six months at Fort Hood. He’s landed a new job in Ocean City, Texas — a two-hour drive — with a company that compresses natural gas and transports it to customers. He said the biggest adjustment to civilian life for him was the monotony of it all.

“It takes a little while to get used to,” Brown said. “In Iraq, everyday was an adventure. Here, you kind of get bored. But I didn’t have too much of a problem adjusting like other people I know.”

Patrick throws his hat in Senate race from Tomball

Today, a story I wrote about radio personality Dan Patrick entering the Texas Senate District 7 race appears in the Tomball Potpourri.

The story also features a photo of Patrick that I took as he announced his candidacy from a Tomball coffee shop during a live radio broadcast.

Story about Dan Patrick's senate candidacy
This story tells how State Senator Dan Patrick announced his candidacy for the office in Tomball.

Here is the first four paragraphs from the story:

With a little help from his friends, radio personality Dan Patrick officially announced his candidacy in the Republican primary for the Texas Senate District 7 seat with a live broadcast from Tomball’s Main Street Crossing last week. Patrick, who owns KSEV 700 AM “The Voice” that has its radio transmitting tower located in Tomball, said he chose Tomball as his location for his announcement because of its personal meaning to him.

“This is where KSEV began,” Patrick said. “This is where Rush Limbaugh called me at a little station down the street and I took a big chance and introduced Houston — and the world — to conservative talk radio. Now, I want to change the mindset in Austin.”

Patrick — a born-again Christian, former KHOU Channel 11 Sports Director and restauranteur — bought KSEV
in 1988 and then later KPRC 950 AM.

“There was a transition in my life in the early ‘90s,” Patrick said. “In my early 40s, things began to mean more to me than the score of a ball game — but we do want this week’s (Astros) scores to be good.”

Download a PDF of the story.

Skaters roll to civics lesson

A story I wrote about local youth petitioning their local government for a skate park appears in this week’s Raymondville Chronicle.

Raymondville skaters
This was the largest crowd I ever experienced at the Raymondville City Council meetings.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the story:

More than 25 young skateboarders snaked through the City Tuesday during the beginning of rush hour traffic with the Raymondville City Hall as their final destination. The young skaters came to complain about the new skateboarding ordinance that prohibits riding in certain areas and to request the City move forward on its previously planned skate park for the area’s youth.

“We’ve been getting in trouble for skating around town – we’d like for the City to build us a skate park,” the group’s representative Daniel Solis said, while wearing a T-shirt memorializing 1980s punk rock band The Clash. “Some of us have gotten tickets – and we can’t afford to pay it.”

Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora said that since the skateboarding ordinance has been passed, his officers have written a few tickets for offenses. One audience member with a skateboard spoke up and said they didn’t know where they could skate and where they couldn’t – and Zamora said he provided copies of the ordinance to some who complained. Zamora and City commissioners discussed the feasibility of building a skate park – Zamora said previous estimates put the cost at $32,000 to $35,000.

Download a PDF of this story.

Fight to eradicate boll weevil to bring 60 jobs to county

A story I wrote about the City of Raymondville entering into a lease agreement with the non-profit Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation.

Raymonville approved Boll Weevil lease
This story details Raymondville's plan to lease out space to the Texas Boll Weevil Eardication Foundation in its industrial park.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the story.

In an effort to battle king cotton’s arch nemesis in the Rio Grande Valley, the City of Raymondville looks to benefit from the location of a district office for the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc. in the City’s industrial park across the Expressway next to the prisons. This week, City Commissioners approved the
recommendations of the City’s Development Corporation and agreed to enter into a lease agreement with the non-profit foundation for a few lots in the industrial park for a $600 monthly rental price tag.

The City will also “invest” in the project by constructing a caliche parking lot for 80-plus vehicles at no cost to the non-profit foundation.

“That’s our investment to get our jobs,” Raymondville City Manager Eleazar “Yogi” Garcia said.

Download a PDF of the story.

Reckoning Day: Tamez, Jimenez could get maximum 20 years for ‘selling votes’

A story I wrote about two Willacy County commissioners appearing before a federal judge appears in this week’s Raymondville Chronicle and Willacy County News.

Willacy County commissioners face charges
Two county commissioners plead guilty to federal charges of accepting bribes from companies who wanted to secure contracts with the county.

Here is the first three paragraphs of the story.

Visibly shaken, 58-year-old Israel Tamez and 67-year-old Jose “Isac” Jimenez stood before Judge Andrew Hanen’s federal courtroom Tuesday afternoon. The tension could be heard in their voices when they answered Judge Hanen’s probing string of questions to ascertain they know their rights and responsibilities before the Court.

Hanen asked each felony defendant, “Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” Tamez and Jimenez both replied, “yes” to accepting more than $10,000 in bribes each from companies wanting to secure contracts with the County.

The two former Willacy County Commissioners had voluntarily reported to the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Brownsville to plead guilty to felony charges of accepting bribes for votes in favor of a contract between the county and businesses behind the new Willacy County Adult Correction Center.

Download a PDF of the story.