Frustration has turned to hope at Lawton Municipal Golf Course.
Armed with a to-do list that is spiced with references to birds and water, Joe English has hit the ground running as the new man in charge at the 18-hole southside layout.
English, a 59-year-old Lawton businessman, takes over the lease that has been in the hands of the Jack Greer family since the original agreement with the Airport Authority was signed in 1952. Greer's daughter, Cindy Nunn, and her husband, Ron, announced in November that they were vacating because of financial issues created by two summers of intense heat and drought.
The course closed on Dec. 31. The Airport Authority turned over the lease to English on Wednesday and the course re-opened Friday.
That's good news for the 30-plus members who store private carts at Muny and the dozens who purchase annual or monthly memberships.
The major issue facing English is the geese that nest at Lake Lawton the course's only water source and fly to a nearby field to feed. Their route sets up a potential collision with airport traffic.
English has become one of the city's leading authorities on how to lessen the problem. One of his first priorities is to remove the nesting areas.
"What we're going to do the first couple weeks is clean up a bunch of the dead trees and the grass that hasn't been mowed and then start on the pond area, getting it cleaned up," he said.
"Basically, it's cleaning the course. We have to rework a lot of the sprinkler systems to bring them back up. We have to aerate all the fairways and get them to where they'll hold some water. Then I'm going to rebuild some of the tee boxes and change them up to where they're level and get some water to them so we have some nice-looking tee boxes.
"Until I get better control of the water situation, I can't waste the water we have on the fairways except for maybe some of the landing areas."
Our country is changing with every passing day and one only has to look at how Americans celebrate their major holidays as a sign of those changing times.
It used to be that Christmas was the time where most families made the ultimate effort to assemble and spend time together. Of course, Thanksgiving was right there as well but somewhere things started to change and it wasn't until Sunday when a car-hop at one of our local drive-ins tipped me off to their holiday work schedule that I really got the clear picture.
She said that they were closing Thanksgiving, but would be open Christmas evening.
"We were really slow on Thanksgiving evening last year but on Christmas we were really busy, we got hammered," she said.
So, why has that changed, are many Americans looking differently at the holidays?
In my opinion the commercialization of Christmas may be part of the reason. While millions of people will be out shopping Friday morning, others seem to be getting tired of the barrage of Christmas sales, the headaches of shopping and thus are looking for a less hectic holiday and Thanksgiving fills the prescription as the perfect holiday for many families.
For many of you, Thanksgiving will find you waking up early to go hunt that prize buck, or maybe a mess of quail. Then it's back to the house to plop on the couch and watch football, all the time enjoying the smell of that plump turkey or pumpkin pie cooking in the oven.
When you think about what the car-hop said, it makes sense that nobody wants to go to a drive-inn on Thanksgiving night because most of them are still full from stuffing themselves earlier in the day. It's a more relaxed holiday and maybe that's why it's becoming more and more popular with Americans.
We wonder, though, are Americans remembering why we celebrate Thanksgiving? Instead of complaining about all the problems we face in our country and world, today is supposed to be a time to celebrate the good things in our lives.
To this writer I'm most thankful for my dedicated wife of 40-plus years Brigitte, a great son Russell who is helping others as a hospital pharmacist, and hard-working daughter-in-law Tanya who presented us with the joy of our lives, grandson Jordy, now 2-years-old and becoming more amazing with each passing day.
Every minute I get to spend with my small immediate family is special, but I still think back at the holidays of the past, like those at the old summer home west of Apache. Back then we had fun, laughed, hunted, ate . . . it was an exciting time for us all. OK, well there was that one fateful Thanksgiving Day where I just happened to fall backwards into a big cactus while searching for pecans.
That day I was thankful that there were plenty of tweezers around the house.
We return today to a brief history of Cameron University football.
This season marks Year 20 that the Aggies have not fielded a team. The program was disbanded at the conclusion of the 1992 campaign. Reasons given were financial. We'll let it go at that ñ for now.
The 1984 season marked the beginning of the Brian Naber era. That team finished 5-5, scoring 179 points and allowing 183. Three games were decided by one point; two others by one touchdown.
Game 3 was against Southern Arkansas in Magnolia. The Aggies faced a 21-14 deficit with 10:28 remaining, but promptly went on an eight-play, 66-yard drive that Ike Jackson capped with a 15-yard pass to Jake Brownlow. Doug Brady fielded the two-point conversion pass for a 22-21 Aggie edge with 4:35 on the clock.
CU got the ball back at 2:42 and promptly ran the lead to 28-21 on a 68-yard pass from Jackson to Kenneth Storey. The conversion kick failed, but the Ags looked safe with just 1:25 to play.
That was plenty of time for the Muleriders to go 67 yards in seven plays to make it 28-27. The hosts ran a screen pass for their two-point conversion attempt and the win, but Cameron end Pat Hartline broke up the play to preserve Naber's first road win Ö
The 1985 season was going nowhere, the record standing at 2-7 after a 10-0 loss to Western New Mexico on the wind-blasted hilltop stadium in Silver City.
Before you hit send, think about who will see those 140 characters
That little blue bird is causing a lot of problems these days.
We're not talking about the Toronto Blue Jays or anything that is an actual bird. Nope, it's time we had a frank discussion about Twitter, Facebook and the other social media outlets and how kids really don't understand that everyone can see what they are saying.
Let's step back and say that again for emphasis if you put something on Twitter, we can see it unless you go to some serious lengths to protect your tweets.
Facebook is a little different in that it takes a little more to get to your status updates. Facebook has privacy settings that make it easier to protect the poster from people seeing what they are saying, but you have to take time and go through the settings with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you are protected.
Let's talk about the actual issue here. It's not that anyone can access and see what these people are saying, it's the need to go on a very public forum and say those things at all.
And as much as many would like to forget, Twitter is a very public forum.
Tweets can cost you a scholarship, can cost you a job and can cost you a place on your nation's Olympic team.
The easiest examples are Greek triple jump champion Voula Papachristou who tweeted some very improper and racist comments about African Olympians. That got her kicked off the team.
Suspense builds at Ike, LHS to see who’ll play quarterback
While football coaches are always tweaking their lineup seeking the best combination of players, some decisions are more important than others and we all know that selecting a quarterback is a big deal at any level of competition.
Last spring we saw Oklahoma State University have a great three-way battle for that job which was eventually claimed by freshman Wes Lunt, while at Oklahoma there was little doubt that Landry Jones was the top candidate for the Sooners' leadership role.
So, with the suspense out of the way at the college level, the next step down the ladder is at the prep level and in Lawton there are two dandy quarterback races that are attracting a great deal of attention around town.
Since my beat this year is Lawton High, I spent a few minutes at the Wolverines' practice Tuesday and watched with keen interest as Dallas Sealey and Jack Meservy handled the offense.
There a similar race going on at Eisenhower where Randy Green and Bentley Bross are fighting for the starting role.
Tonight all three city schools compete in their final scrimmages and for LHS and Ike, this could be the final testing ground for the quarterbacks involved in the race.
"We really wanted to make a decision last week but they both completed almost every pass they threw and both did a super job running the offense," LHS coach Randy Breeze said. "So, we waited until this week to make our decision. We're going to see how they handle themselves against Duncan and see if one of them separates himself out there on the field."
The Duncan will be a good test for LHS, with the varsity units set to battle at 7 p.m. at Cameron Stadium. Meanwhile, Ike and MacArthur will be competing in the Mustang Preview and the Ike coaches will also be watching their quarterbacks with a keen eye.
If Barry Beauchamp and Steve Cothren had it in their power to let every student attend sporting events for free, they would do just that, however, with these tough economic times at the federal, state and local levels, that is just not a wise decision.
For years this writer has felt like the Lawton Public Schools have kept costs in check for students, keeping tickets at the $3 mark for many years, probably about 8 to 10 if my memory serves me.
Last year they opted to increase the price of a student ticket to $4 because of smaller levels of funding and now the LPS Board of Education has agreed to elevate those student tickets to $5 for the coming school year.
Trust me, Superintendent Beauchamp and Athletic Director Cothren didn't propose this to the board without serious consideration because they want students to be able to afford those tickets because that makes for a better atmosphere.
However, they are faced with tremendous cost increases in many areas, including athletic equipment and especially fuel to transport those athletes to Oklahoma City and often beyond.
If anything, this increase may very well trim away some of those students who didn't really want to support the team, they just wanted to be there to see friends. And, maybe this will eliminate some of those trouble-makers that always seem to show up for the intracity games.
In my opinion, if students will cut out one or two large soft drinks each week, that will offset the cost of their Friday night football ticket, plus it will save them a few calories. It was something none of those involved wanted to see happen, but there was a need so we can keep funding athletics without adopting drastic measures that nobody wants to see like "play to play."
This writer will do his best to track the number of tickets sold last year and compare it with the numbers for the 2012 season and see just what effect the increase had so we can share that news with you. I expect that there will be very little fluctuation when those numbers are available because we think the students who really care about their school and who really support their athletic teams will still show up at each home game.
Hours of study, preparation makes Throckmorton consummate rodeo announcer
Rodeo fans may think the job of announcer is an easy one; show up each night, introduce the cowboys and cowgirls and keep everyone informed of what is happening. As soon as the rodeo is over they head to the hotel room, relax and do it again the next night.
While it sounds easy, there is much more to being an announcer and anyone who has attended past Lawton Rangers Rodeos can tell by the amount of information delivered by Charlie Throckmorton that he doesn't just show up each night, he works countless hours preparing for each performance and learning as much about all the contestants as he can.
And, in the case of the Rangers Rodeo, he probably knows more about the event than many of the younger Rangers. He will begin sharing that knowledge when the first performance of the 74th Annual event begins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the LO Ranch Arena east of Lawton.
Advance tickets remain on sale for $12 at all Lawton EZ-GO stores, Crutchers for the West, Western Warehouse, Frog's Pawn, and Ruben's Shoe Repair. Wednesday night will be family night with a "Five for $25" deal, then Thursday will be "two for one night."
Throckmorton is expecting another big crowd, which is what he especially enjoys about coming to Lawton.
"I think this is my 14th or 15th year, I'm not really sure when I started here," the Clebourne, Texas, native said. "I've really enjoyed this rodeo; it's become one of my favorites for several reasons, one of those being the size of the crowd. Another is because we've worked together so long that the rodeo pretty much runs like a sewing machine, really smooth. That's what you want, a performance that doesn't drag."
Another reason he loves the Rangers Rodeo is the annual Saturday visit by 1,500 trainees from Fort Sill.
"Those soldiers just make that final performance special," he said. "They have been there on post without seeing any outsiders for several weeks and they just love getting out and kicking up their heels. They just make for a loud, exciting environment that the contestants just love. That night we will have 10,000 people or more and that is what makes for a great performance."
With apologizes to fellow sporty Herb Jacobs, today's column starts out with one of those "where are they now" stories that is mixed in with an equal dose of "it's a small world indeed" thrown in for good measure.
David Tyler is one of the good guys in this world; you might remember we shared his heart-warming story of changing roles and becoming Santa during the months leading up to Christmas, making an annual trip to the Oklahoma Children's Hospital to give out gifts to kids who are fighting for their lives in many cases.
He's the same guy who built the Lawton High School softball field and continues to help maintain it to this day, long after his own daughter has left the LHS campus.
Throw in a full-time job at Goodyear and the guy stays pretty busy to say the least. Case in point was Thursday when he was involved in a mass-casualty exercise at the plant where he serves as a first responder.
Even with such a busy schedule, he still finds time to watch his beloved Texas Rangers, especially when son Kenny makes the "short" commute from Japan to visit the family here in Lawton. Tuesday they were sitting on the first row down the third base line where the Ballpark at Arlington juts out toward the foul line, right near where the ball girl and a security guard are posted.
Before the game they made a sign that included Lawton, Okla., on it and when the ball girl saw the sign she told David that she had spent four years in Lawton playing softball at Cameron University. Aggie softball fans probably can guess that it was none other than Ashton McBride.
So, for the remainder of the game David and Ashton visited between just about every inning, sharing stories about Lawton, Cameron and girls softball since both love the sport a great deal.
It seems that Ashton is now coaching in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and happened to see a notice about tryouts to be a Rangers ball girl so she signed up.
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