The convention center straw man

Gearing up for back-to-school time
Ready or not, it’s time for local kids to head back to school. Classes begin Monday in Dumas and Sunray, and that means a return to the early morning hustle and bustle of getting the kids up, getting them fed, and getting them off to school on time.
The NewsHPress knows this is an important time for both parents and students. That is why inside today’s edition you will find all kinds of helpful back-to-school information such as messages from Dumas ISD and Sunray ISD administrators. And, if you haven’t already met some of the new teachers in the district, we’re providing a first look at the new faces students and parents will see on campus beginning Monday.
Heading back to school can be both exciting and scary at the same time. We hope our administrator messages, new teacher pictures and other helpful information will make the shift into the school routine a little easier.
We hope each and every student in our local school districts has a great year. We’re looking forward to informing the community on your successes as the year goes along.
Teachers, coaches and campus administrators, we hope you will take time to share information with us regarding special accomplishments, etc.
Before long, the News-Press will be returning with its Kids Korner page. If you have a suggestion for a theme of one of these pages, please e-mail me at and I will see what we can do to get your topic some attention.
Now, take a little time and enjoy these last few hours of the weekend before that Monday morning school bell rings.

Printed public notices at risk
Late last year I wrote about a bill that was filed in an attempt to take printed public notices out of newspapers and place them on the World Wide Web. It appears that bill, and a similar one, have been referred to a House committee (Government Transparency and Operation) before they advance further.
House Bill 139, filed by Rep. John Stickland (R-Bedford, House District 92), is attempting to make it acceptable to publish certain governmental legal notices on the comptroller's website, and making it optional to publish them in local newspapers.
Another bill, House Bill 814, has a similar goal, aiming to get notices posted to a governmental body on the Internet instead of in a newspaper.
As I said before, that is a bad idea.
Printed public notices have long been found on the pages of newspapers across this nation. Such notices are published in order to increase the public's awareness of governmental actions and intent. Changing that may leave many Americans in the dark when it comes to what the government agencies are up to.
It is important for residents to be made aware of actions being considered by governing bodies, and there are a lot of people who prefer to read such notices in print.
Here are a few things to consider:
• There are many people out there, especially in rural areas, who have no access or limited access to the Internet, making it difficult for them to search for such information online. This means the elderly, the poor, minorities and rural residents run the risk of becoming disenfranchised from civic involvement;
• The Internet is not as popular with the older demographics such as 50-64 and 65-plus — age groups that are very likely to get involved and take action;
• It can also be difficult to find public notices on websites, as they may be hidden several layers within the site; and
• You've got to be aware of the myriad of governmental agencies out there to even be able to begin locating the public notices.
Newspapers provide an outlet with a readership that far exceeds any other medium, to reach a large audience. In fact, the number of print readers, combined with our online readers, makes total newspaper penetration the most attractive to anyone who must reach a mass audience. And, public notices are easy to find.
In addition, newspaper readership online, regardless of market size, is consistently much higher than readership of governmental websites. Newspapers are seen as a "go-to" source reliable and consistent information. Local governmental websites have a very small sliver of readership.
Why are newspapers fighting to keep public notices on their pages? It is not about the revenue. In fact, Texas law requires newspapers publish such notices at the lowest published classified rate. Revenue from public notices accounts for a mere 1 percent to 5 percent of total revenue at a Texas newspaper. So, yes, it would hurt to lose that revenue, but newspapers would survive.
What will be impacted most is the governmental transparency and accountability to taxpayers, something that doesn't need to be diminished as government continues to grow and take more and more control over our everyday lives.
Keep published public notices in Texas newspapers, and keep Texans aware.
Share your thoughts on this topic by contacting your state-level elected officials. Their contact information may be found along the left-hand side of this page.

Plenty to be thankful for this year
The season of Thanksgiving is upon us. This week many of us will gather with family, friends or even complete strangers to share in the celebration, and there is plenty to be thankful for this year.
We can be thankful for our loved ones, our friends, our health, having a job, and countless other things. You know, when you step back and take a look at the big picture, we are all really blessed in many ways.
While the holidays are a time to spend time with those we hold dear to our hearts, many people are faced with their first Thanksgiving without a loved one.
The loss of a loved one can make the holidays difficult. Rather than having that special someone around, there is now an empty chair at the dinner table as the family sits down for the meal.
We all go through those holidays at some point in our journey through this life. What is important is that we remember all the things about our missing loved one that us laugh, made us cry, made us love them.
For those of you who are facing this reality as Thanksgiving rolls around, my thoughts and prayers are with you to make it through your first holiday without your loved one.
This will be the first Thanksgiving for my family since my paternal grandmother passed away. We faced the same situation last Thanksgiving as my maternal grandmother passed away a few months earlier.
It wasn’t easy, and this year won’t be either. However, I know we’ll make it through, and we’ll probably share some “I remember when...” stories while we enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner.
Those memories are something to be thankful for. And, there will be plenty more memories made this Thanksgiving. I hope the same is true for you and yours.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, Moore County!

Mayor Pro-Tem Bonner addresses hospital issue
Editor’s note: The following are comments provided by Dumas Mayor Pro-Tem Dr. David Bonner regarding the proposed hospital expansion/upgrade currently being discussed. Please read on:

The issue presented to the voters by our hospital board was regarding a bond election for a tax increase to build an entirely new hospital at a new location. The majority of the voters voted against a tax increase to support this. That election did not ask the voters if it was ok for the hospital board to update the present facility adding an adjacent structure to bring the hospital into compliance with current regulations and technology requirements, all without raising taxes. The hospital board is planning on doing this, as I understand it, without raising taxes therefore making it essentially a $20 million dollar gift to the entire multi-city hospital district.
The duty of the Dumas City Commission is not to conduct straw polls of a few citizens on the interpretation of a tax bond election. Our responsibility is to decide whether closing this section of street would be a detriment to the health, safety, and welfare of our city. We have certainly set a precedent with previous decisions of closing a city owned roadway where an entity owns or will own both sides of the roadway. I understand the Fire Chief, Police Chief, and our Public Works Director have all stated that closing this section of street is not a problem for the City.
The hospital board is appointed by the County Commission and the County Commission does not typically “micromanage” the hospital board. However, if the hospital board is acting inappropriately it should be the role of the County Commission and not the City Commission to block the hospital board’s decision. If the City Commission tries to do this, it would in my opinion, have the City putting its nose into the business of others where it does not belong. Dumas is not the only city in the hospital district affected by this.
If the City of Dumas refuses to close this section of 2nd street it could result in the hospital being forced to build its new structure across the street from its original structure. This would be a terrible inconvenience the hospital workers and we as patients would all have to suffer through.
This issue reminds me of one that the Dumas City Commission faced in the 1980s. The City Commission under the leadership of Mayor Mike Salim, Commissioner J.B. Funk and others proposed a new city hall. A bond election was held to raise the funds. The voters voted it down. Later the Cactus Feeders Corporation offered to sell its corporate headquarters building to the city for only $50,000, which was such a low price it was easily affordable to the city without any tax increase and would have been foolish to turn down.
Mayor Salim, Commissioner J.B. Funk, and the other commissioners could have said "no, we cannot accept this offer since the voters voted against a new city hall." However the commission understood that the voters had only voted against a tax increase. They accepted this generous gift without another election. Yes, there were some citizens who seemingly misunderstood the situation and criticized that commission for its decision.
As you hear this issue debated at the coffee shops you will hear some who are excited to get this new modern health care facility without an increase in our taxes. Some are excited it will be at the same location as the old facility. Others say they do not use our hospital and are not interested in helping our hospital. However, I am confident that even the most hardened opponent will feel differently if it is their time for a life crushing heart attack. When you visit with those who are publicly against this newest proposal ask them what their solution is for bettering health care facilities in Dumas. It is easy to be negative, but leadership is about providing solutions. Telling all the cities in a three county hospital district to essentially “just go to Amarillo” for hospital care is not leadership.
My four children and two of my grandchildren were born in Dumas. We have had several surgeries at our local hospital and I have performed numerous surgeries there. We have excellent doctors and an excellent hospital team. The present facility needs to be brought in to the 21st century. To do otherwise and to potentially see our hospital diminished will cost lives. Being against upgrading our local hospital care is not how our community and its leaders need to be perceived. Try recruiting new doctors or even new businesses with the reputation that Dumas and its civic leaders are against upgrading its hospital facility even when it will not involve a tax increase. That is not the reputation we need. We need to be a community that is progressive in every area, including our hospital care.
Dr. David M. Bonner, Mayor Pro-Tem City of Dumas