State Capitol Highlights

Judge reaffirms, expands reach of injunction against bathroom directive

Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has reaffirmed his Aug. 21 injunction placing a temporary hold on federal guidelines for accommodating transgender students in the use of public school bathrooms and locker rooms.

In his order last week, O’Connor also denied a request by the Obama administration to limit the injunction to Texas and 12 other states that signed on as plaintiffs. The administration asked that the injunction not apply to states that did not sue for relief. In his order, O’Connor wrote, “A nationwide injunction is necessary because the alleged violation extends nationwide. Defendants are a group of agencies and administrators capable of enforcing their Guidelines nationwide, affecting numerous state and school district facilities across the country.”


Free cell phones for emergencies

Having a cell phone on your person can be useful to you if there’s an emergency at school involving one of your children. The cell phone is definitely useful if you’re job hunting and hoping a potential employer will call.

It’s important to be able to be notified if there is a sudden illness, if the car won’t start, or if the electricity has gone off. We need to know if a child or grandchild is sick, if a neighbor needs help, or if a planned event has been cancelled. It helps to know when your spouse has locked the car keys inside the car.

My wife and I both have cell phones. When we travel, each brings a cell phone. If we become separated, we use our cell phones to find each other.


Learn a new language at the GS Library

I was fortunate enough to attend a training about the databases our library provides hosted by the Texas State Library.  This was a great opportunity that over 30 library staff members from the East Texas area were able to participate in so that we will be able to better serve our library patrons.  All of our patrons have access to the databases by visiting our website ( and clicking on the Library Catalog link.  When you get to catalog page you can log on using the last five digits of your library card number and your phone number, including the area code as your email.  


Volunteers, farm animals fill up the VZC Library

Pat Howerton

Cows, horses, pigs and chickens are some of the first animals that come to mind when you think of the farm. But when Miss Rhonda reads about the farm at preschool Storytime, there's no telling what might come up!

Come to the the Van Zandt County Library at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, and you will find out. Who knows, Old MacDonald may even make an appearance!

The October meeting of the Friends of the Library was really interesting. Members and guests learned about an event that happened near the end of the Texas War for Independence called the Runaway Scrape. Mayor Lou Ann Everett brought it to life with her narration.

The next big event for the group will be the Book Fair, Nov. 4 and 5. If you would like to donate books, please bring them in by Nov. 1. And there's always plenty to do, if you want to help; please leave your name and contact info with the librarians at the circulation desk.


Walking with Bob

Avoiding humongous helpings, measuring success 

The “eating out” industry is in a contest to see who can sell us the biggest sandwich, stuffed taco, loaded breakfast croissant or biggest helping on the largest plate, platter or basket. It’s OK, don’t get in a twit. There is a solution.

Order a glass of ice water with lemon, take out box, and request your meat and baked potatoes be cut in half. If they look at you strangely, tell them your health advisors told you this is what you need to have for your healthy lifestyle. That works in most situations.

Here is my helping (portion) system:

PALM SIZE: Cottage cheese, eggs, chicken, lean beef and pork, catfish, salmon or shrimp.

FIST SIZE: (a bit smaller than palm size) Whole grain bread, corn tortillas, fresh and fresh frozen fruits, root veggies like taters and sweet taters especially from east Texas. Avoid white bread and white flower. Stick with whole grain.


Large print in great demand

One of the things is a surprise to new patrons at Grand Saline Public Library is the number of large print book we have.


State Capitol Highlights

High court refuses to rehear Texas immigration case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 3 denied the Obama administration’s petition for a rehearing of United States v. Texas, a high-profile immigration case.

Heard by the eight-member high court in April, the case ended in a 4-4 deadlock in a late-June ruling. The deadlock left in place a Texas federal district court’s temporary injunction freezing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s November 2014 policies known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.” The policies are aimed at forestalling the deportation of an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants and providing a conditional path to citizenship.


Book Fair scheduled at VZC Library

Jack Evans

Finally, we're beginning to see communities appreciate the heroes who surround us. One definition of a hero is “an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor and self-sacrifice.”

During the 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, preschool Storytime, Miss Rhonda will be reading books featuring firefighters.

The volunteer profile this week is about Jack Evans who watched his wife Susan  volunteer and then decided to join her in this pursuit a year ago. He is a lifelong reader and library patron and felt compelled to help.

Jack holds degrees in music, specializing in trumpet, and in accounting/auditing. He also worked in information security at the end of his career. This experience is so valuable as he helps to keep library computers updated each month. Working an average of two hours weekly, he tries to find some time to shelve books also. Not only does he volunteer, but he serves on the Library Advisory Board.


Surviving the unfathomable

A word from Van Zandt Newspapers Publisher Brad Blakemore

I wanted to share something written by a colleague of mine Pete Marsh who has experienced the unthinkable loss of his son Anthony.

Only those who have lost a child can relate to his pain. His words provide great insight into his thoughts as well as a valuable perspective we should all consider before putting our feet on the ground each morning.

Since my son died, I’ve stopped making eye contact with people on the street. When approaching another pedestrian on a crowded sidewalk, I am no longer the one to politely step aside.

I’ve stopped routinely waving to my neighbors. When traveling, I’ve stopped making small talk with cashiers and hotel clerks. I tend to eat in my room so that I can avoid seeing others – especially young people – having a good time.


Aphids hit VZC

What’s bugging you?

Aphids have landed in Van Zandt County.  The first issue we experienced were these white “fly like” bugs flying in hoards all around our area.   This little bug is actually the Asian Wooley Hackberry Aphid. Dr. Mike Merchant, urban entomologist and extension specialist, pointed out that control is probably not necessary unless the honeydew (aphid droppings, which may result in plant covered with black sooty mold) is becoming unacceptable, in which case they might try dinotefuran (Greenlight Safari) instead of the imidacloprid recommended below.

It is faster at getting into the tree or shrub. Both of these products are systemic in nature and get into the plant itself. This is how it controls the pest when it feeds on the plant. With this being said, make sure you are not treating something like a vegetable garden or some other edible plant. This is for ornamental use only.


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