Hear, hear to a great woman – Berneta Peoples

I had the privilege of working with Bernita Peoples from 2003- the end of 2005.

She is a true treasure and a wealth of knowledge. And at 96 she’s contemplating retirement – again.

Read the article in today’s Dallas Morning news.


Web to become primary vehicle for LA Times breaking news

From Editor and Publisher:

Speaking to hundreds of Los Angeles Times journalists in the newspaper’s Harry Chandler auditorium this morning, editor James O’Shea outlined a bold plan to increase traffic and revenue from LATimes.com in the face of an increasingly difficult economic climate for newspaper publishers, and urged journalists to think of the Web site as the newspaper’s primary vehicle for news.
“We can’t hide from the fact that smart competitors such as Google and Craigslist are stealing readers and advertisers from us through innovative strategies that are undermining the business model we’ve relied on for decades,” said O’Shea, whose remarks were published in their entirety on the paper’s Web site.
“Currently we have a newspaper staff and an LATimes.com staff,” he said. “No more. From now on, there are no two staffs, there is just one. And we will function as one. One of Russ’s first jobs will be to help set up that newsroom.”
He said that LATimes.com would become the paper’s “primary vehicle for breaking news 24 hours a day.”

I wonder how quickly other newspapers will take notice and start changing with the times.


I was just looking over the March 2 issue of the Belton Journal, and realized somehow I was lumped together with Michael Robinson and Chris Allman. Not that I object to being lumped with either of those two great guys (they’re probably two of the greatest guys to be lumped with), but the term they used to describe us was “indelible.”

I have to admit, I had to look that word up. It was not an 8th grade word.

According to my thesaurus, it means, “impossible to remove” or “unforgettable.”

I’m not sure which meaning they were going with there and the editor was out when I called to question his wording.

Oh well.

Reporting death

The Iraq memorial from Basra

I’m never a huge fan of writing stories about death, but yet at the same time I’m intrigued by them.

I’ve written several in my short journalism career and it’s never been easy to do, but I don’t shy away from them either.

My first story was about two students murdered from my University. It was an odd story, because like most murders there wasn’t much information about it. And as a reporter for a college newspaper it was difficult to get local authorities to give me much information. But I was out to get every ounce I could and probably annoyed some people along the way.

The second story was about the first soldier from Belton killed in Iraq.

I also wrote a brief story about a soldier who named Belton as home, but lived in Kentucky with his family at the time of his death.

Today I discovered a former Harker Heights resident and Fort Hood soldier was killed in a plane crash Saturday.

I debated on telling the story. It ran on the AP wire, but neither of the local papers apparently noticed or cared to run it.

But I felt differently. Here is a man who served his country and likely died of a mechanical failure in his plane.

I was sure he had some sort of ties to Harker Heights and I’m sure people would appreciate knowing. So I write…

Former Heights resident killed in Georgia plane accident
Jonathan Blundell

Former Harker Heights resident and Fort Hood officer, Col. William Powell (Ret. US Army) was killed Saturday afternoon at approximately 3:39, when his single-engine, Beechcraft 35 Bonanza went down in a field outside Trinity, Ala.

Powell was killed on impact, while the passenger on-board was seriously injured and rushed to Huntsville Hospital by helicopter.

According to witnesses, the plan was coasting at a low altitude and no engine noise was heard shortly before the accident.

“You could tell something was wrong,” witness Danny Moore of Prattville, Al told The Decatur Daily News. “The plane rolled over and went nose down, tail up. It went straight to the ground.”

Powell’s wife, Patricia, who lived with Powell in Harker Heights between 1990 and 1992, while Powell was stationed at Fort Hood, said she wasn’t sure where William may have been headed, but assumed he was taking the plane for a test flight.

“Each year he takes the plane to Decatur for its annual inspection,” Patricia said. “When he went to pick it up earlier in the week, they had found something wrong with it and he waited till Saturday morning to pick up the plane. I believe something went wrong mechanically during the test flight and that caused the accident.”

Patricia did not know the passenger, but said she was sure he was a mechanic who may have worked on the plane.

Patricia also said she believed William found something wrong after take off and turned it around to head back to the airport.

According to initial reports by the Federal Aviation Administration, the plan crashed shortly after takeoff but no cause of the accident has been released.

Butch Wilson, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board told The Decatur Daily News that the plan was still in good condition after the crash.

“The cockpit and engine area are crushed. But there was no fire and it didn’t hit any trees coming in.”

Wilson was unaware of any flight plan and also noted that the plane’s fule tanks were empty.

Investigation into the crash by the FAA and NTSB could take six months before a final report is complete.

The accident was one of eight fatal airplane related accidents in the U.S. over the weekend, including one accident Sunday in Houston.

I’m waiting to hear more from the NTSB and FAA hopefully, but the little information I pulled off the web is likely all I’ll get.

I also hope I can find Powell’s obit to give more of the human side of the tragedy.

What do you think? Should newspapers report death and accidents? Should local papers who normally focus on happy chearful tea parties give the same coverage to death and accidents? What do you think makes news and who should decide?

Times Up


Oh snikies! Its press time and I haven’t finished my column yet.

What happened?

I remember at least trying to write a column this week, I think.

What could have happened? I’m not even sure why I write this column anyways. I feel like an old preacher who has three sermons he gives year round. Over and over again, hoping someone catches on.

But what happened this week? Why did I procrastinate so much?

According to Wikipedi, procrastination is the deferment or putting-off of an action or task, usually by focusing on some other distraction.

I’m not easily distracted am I?

Maybe I could find an old blog entry and run it here. Or better yet, find someone who’s a better writer, run their blog entry and then once you think I’m a super writer, I can tag the end with one of those silly MLA style citations.

No. Stay focused. Try and remember why you don’t have your column written.

I know I sat down with my laptop Sunday afternoon. I vaguely remember typing something about how big my God is. Because the bigger your God is, the smaller your problems are. And the bigger your problems are, the smaller your God is.

Wait, I remember what happened now.

I kept deleting it because all I was doing was re-hashing that morning’s sermon.

Ok, so that column idea was a wash.

Sunday night I remember – I planned on trying again, but I ended up playing 10-9-8 at my neighbor’s house.

And for the record – I did maintain the highest score throughout the majority of the evening. Yet for some reason, they said I came in dead last. I guess I’ll have to look into that.

After 10-9-8 I remember coming home and sitting in my living room and “getting my praise on” with Chris Tomlin.

Yet before I knew it, morning had arrived and I headed back to the office.

Now I’m pretty sure I tried typing something that morning.

I do remember staring at a blank screen for a long time.

Oh yes. I almost finished two columns Monday morning. But both times I hit a writers block and decided no one would be interested in my weekend trip, tubing on the Guadalupe River.

Somewhere along the way I remember being caught up in the blogosphere.

Everyone was blogging about Apple Computer’s announcement to start fitting their computers with Intel processors, replacing the IBM chips that have run the machines forever.

I think I may have enjoyed a #2 from Crow’s about that time as well.

That should have inspired a column in-and-of-itself, because it doesn’t get much better than that. But I guess food on the brain and a full tummy just made me put writing off even more.

Monday evening I spent my time trying out a new Thai Shrimp recipe from H-E-B and then enjoyed a quiet evening on my porch with my two dogs.

Maybe if I had more time during the day, I would have written a column by now.

Isn’t that ultimately the problem? Its not a matter of time management is it?

Around 10:30 p.m., my “sister” Kathryn Shindoll called and we talked about her trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.

I was so fired up about her going and the opportunity she’ll have, as she leads 11 interns to work in orphanages there, that I completely forgot about writing my column for whatever little time I had left before I fell asleep.

All I could think about was how badly I wanted to take a trip on my own and how I needed to start talking to Rebecca O’Banion about a trip to Haiti.

I was fired up. It felt like the end of a CWF show. One of those shows when we know God inhabits the praises of his people and works in ways we’ll never know or understand. Awesome.

Well, that brings me to Tuesday — one day before press time.

Surely I wrote something — somewhere.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m.


Showered, changed and read Isaiah 40-44. I think reading those chapters may have changed my life – I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In fact, I was so inspired that I did write something that morning. I had to re-write one of the verses in my Bible.

I marked through “Jacob” and “Israel” in Isaiah 40:27-28 and replaced it with my name and America.

Why do you say, O Jacob (Jonathan), and complain, O Israel (America), “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

I was fired up after reading these chapters. I mean seriously. Do you realize how big God is?

Isaiah says, “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Isaiah also writes, “God measures the heavens with the span of His hand.”

Any idea how big the heavens are?

Our sun is roughly 150 million kilometers from the earth. If we traveled at the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers per second, it would take us eight minutes and 20 seconds to get to the surface of the sun.

On average, Pluto, is 6 billion kilometers from the sun, depending on where it is in its orbit. That puts Pluto 5.85 billion kilometers away from Earth. At the speed of light, it would take us roughly 325 minutes, or 5.4 hours to reach the furthest planet in our solar system.

Yet our solar system is only one in our galaxy, which scientists say is 130,000 light years in diameter. It would take us 130,000 years, traveling at the speed of light to travel from one side of our galaxy to the other.

Is anyone else getting this? Oh wait. I’ve started re-hashing Sunday morning’s message haven’t I.

Sorry about that.

On to the business at hand.

Oh no! Times up. Looks like I put off writing my column for too long.

We have to send the paper to press.

So, I guess this is it for me. No time to type anything else.

Maybe next week I’ll plan ahead better. But then where’s the fun in that.

See you next week.

Flowers make all the difference

Originally published as Church Flowers in The Belton Journal

A pastor in St. Paul, Minn. blogged this week about a flower garden planted in front of his church.

First of all, I love pastors that blog regularly. It gives a lot of insight into the ministry and what they go through and see throughout the week.

Some even give insight into how their weekly sermon progresses.

Fellowship Church in Dallas has a blog set up for their entire church staff to post notes and journals on. (UPDATE: While Pastor Ed Young still blogs, I can’t find the blogs for the entire staff anymore.)

It gives you a connection with the staff that you might not otherwise have.

But I digress…

Pastor Pat Kahnke of St. Paul Fellowship Church writes that he noticed a bunch of kids bustling around in the church parking lot earlier this week.

As he walked closer he realized that a number of his church members had taken the initiative to plow up a weedy section of their church lot and plant a flower bed in its place.

While planting the flower bed, one of the church members knocked on a neighboring house door to ask to borrow a water hose.

The church neighbor said they could borrow the hose that day and year-round to keep the flower bed looking healthy.

And as a result, another member volunteered to plow the man’s backyard for him.

What a great sign of ministry on so many levels.

They took the care of the church upon themselves

No one sat around and waited for a church beautification committee to tell them what needed to be done. No building committee hired out work that church members could easily do.

People took responsibility for their church and went the extra mile to be sure their place of worship was taken care of.

What if each of us looked for areas in our own churches or work places where we could go the extra mile without being asked?

What if we quit shrugging responsibility for things in our offices or church and stepped up and said, “This needs to be done — and I’m going to do it. Even if it’s not in my job description and even if I may not be an expert on the subject.–

They involved outsiders

One of the things I love about this story is that it involved people in the neighborhood.

Now granted, with a little planning they could have brought their own water hose, but think of the ministry opportunity they would have missed. In the process, they made sure that a neighbor of the church knew what was going on at the church and then found a way to meet him at his need.

Wasn’t that Jesus’ entire ministry was about? He met people at their need.

If we are passionate about what we do, or wherever we do it, it can be contagious – people will want to be a part of it.

A business cannot grow without new customers and a church cannot grow without new members. We must rid ourselves of being exclusive or selective in who we reach out to. We must bring outsiders in.

A few months ago I wrote about George Masters who was so passionate about Apple’s iPod, that he spent several hours designing a complete television commercial based on his favorite toy.

“Why would a school teacher spend a good chunk of his free time, for five months, crafting a really slick ad for no money? For no real recognition other than a, ‘Hey, that’s cool,’ from a few friends? Because he really, really likes his iPod,– wrote blogger Andy Havens. “Masters frankly admits that he partly worked on the project as a way of teaching himself some computer animation basics, and to be part of a portfolio. That being said, why pick the iPod mini as his subject? Because he’s a huge fan. And let’s remember that ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic.’–

If we can get people passionate about our product or message, people will become a part of the message and share it with them where ever they go.

Little efforts can go a long way

Third, as Pastor Kahnke wrote in his blog that he was blessed and ministered to by seeing their effort and the beautiful flowers left by their effort.

A pastor who was worn down was encouraged and blessed by a small effort by members of his congregation.

I can’t imagine that this group of church goers would have realized the impact their thoughtfulness had on their pastor, or the impact it would have on a newspaper editor some 1,113 miles away.

You never know what impact your willingness to serve will have on others.