Sunday, April 3, 2011


Predators, from spousal abuse to bullying to serial killers:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

McKennon Wimberly Benefit

The video is disturbing - McKennon Wimberly is just over five seconds into his bull ride in Anaheim, Calif., when he is jerked forward, the bull's head comes up and the two collide, sending Wimberly's helmet flying.
A couple of jumps later, Wimberly's head is struck again, this time he falls to the side, laying motionless on the arena floor as people rush to help.
His mother, Paula Wimberly, said he was in ICU in California for seven days and remained in the hospital for two-and-a-half weeks.
"During that accident he had severe brain shearing, it's like shaken baby syndrome," his mother explained. "He had a broken jaw in two places, a fractured bone in his sinus cavity and a fractured shoulder."
When he came home, it had to be via air ambulance. Paula said doctors were concerned about pressure in the brain at high altitudes and possible consequences. He stayed at Baylor Rehab in Dallas for two weeks before returning to his home in Cool, just east of Mineral Wells.
"The PBR only pays $20,000," said family friend Luann Hammett. "That barely got that boy off the arena floor."
To help with expenses, there will be a three-day Relief Benefit and Bull Riding Thursday through Saturday, March 24-26, at the Palo Pinto County Livestock Association Arena in Mineral Wells.
The schedule includes:
8 6-10 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Expo Building: $10 barbecue dinner, live and silent auction, Calcutta.
* 7 p.m. Friday, March 25: Derby Bull Riding.
* 10 a.m. Saturday, March 26: Futurity Bulls
* 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26: Mutton busting. Sign ups will be 12:30-1:45 p.m., $25 entry fee, 50 rider limit, 60-pound weight limit.
* 7 p.m. Saturday, March 26: Classic Bull Riding. Box seat tickets, $16 each; general admission, $10 each.
In addition, donations can be made to McKennon Wimberly Benefit Fund, c/o First Financial Bank, College Park, P.O. Box 1299, Weatherford, TX 76086 or any First Financial branch.
Silent auction donations can be sent to McKennon Wimberly Benefit Fund, 606 Southland Drive, Weatherford, TX 76086.
Contact Hammett at 817-694-9791 or Wayne, 817-458-2207, e-mail or call 817-598-2700 for additional information.
A golf tournament will also be held Saturday morning at Canyon West. Contact Dave Samsel, 817-832-2131.
A number of sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Hammett or Wayne for additional information.
Paula Wimberly said the outpouring of help and support has been unbelievable.
"I would like for people to know that it's amazing," she said. "It has just been unbelievable, the people we don't know who want to help."
Today, McKennon Wimberly is still undergoing outpatient physical therapy.
"As far as relearning anything, he didn't have to," said Paula. "It's mainly to do with motor skills. He just doesn't move as fast as normal."
She said he feeds livestock, fools with his bulls and rides his horse.
"He gets better and better."
As far as riding bulls again, she said he wants to.
"I would be very content if he decided not to."
But that is not likely.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just how bad is it?

So just how serious is unemployment?
For those without a job, it’s darned distressing. For those who have jobs, it’s a matter of thankfulness and hope they don’t become a tick on the unemployment rate. But what’s the economic impact?
As reported by the Texas Workforce Commission this month, there are 1,133 people in Palo Pinto County who are unemployed. In addition, the workforce has declined, people moving away to find work elsewhere.
Just for the unemployed, figured at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the loss in income adds up quickly. How about $8,214.25 per hour? How about $65,714 per day? How about $328,570 per week?
That’s the wages that go unpaid, only marginally offset by unemployment payments. From that would come federal income and other taxes, with the balance being spent locally, money that would be used for necessities — food, gasoline, utilities and even sales tax. And that is only one county among 254 and one state among 50.
While Texas focuses on the increase in jobs, the lower unemployment rate compared to the nation and the better economy in Texas — all true — the reality is this county and probably many others are seeing the very real effects of fewer jobs.
What’s the answer?
We wish we knew — and even if we did, who would listen? Congress can take steps to ease the tax burdens on employers, eliminate the stone that hangs over the heads of small companies by rescinding the health-care overhaul that will hurt employers and others and ease cumbersome and worrisome regulations.
The state can balance its budget, but it should not be at the expense of taxpayers who will be required to pay higher fees and higher local taxes to fund mandates from the state Legislature. Gov. Rick Perry has stated he wants a balanced budget with no new taxes, but the last time that happened legislators pushed requirements on counties and cities that required tax increases there.
Perry can say the state didn’t raise taxes, but the reality was more taxes were required to pay the bills locally.
While lower taxes are wonderful and beneficial, the reality is services will have to be cut. It is already happening with the Texas Department of Transportation as roadside parks are being closed unless county governments or other entities agree to maintain those facilities. More cuts are likely to occur, not just there but with other agencies as well.
It would seem reasonable to assume lost wages because of unemployment play a large part of these shortfalls.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A question answered

I had asked the question of my friend some 30-plus years ago.
“Oh, just a little hand-to-hand,” he responded and said no more.
He had been one of only two people in our field who had been awarded the Silver Star for action in Vietnam. And, as with most people who receive awards for heroism in combat, he was not willing to talk about it — until last week.
The Silver Star is the third highest medal given for heroism and may be awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. armed forces, distinguishes himself or herself by extraordinary heroism.
“Vietnam, huh?” he responded to my question.
“Only if you want to,” I answered.
He paused for quite a while before he began. He had been in country for four weeks, stationed at Pleiku. His unit supported Special Forces bases by responding to calls for destruction of unexploded ordnance and booby traps. A Special Forces camp had been attacked by North Vietnamese and needed help removing unexploded rounds.
They flew in, he and his NCO, the camp still receiving fire, he told me. The pilot told them he couldn’t land but would get about 10-feet above the ground. They would have to kick out their equipment and drop to the ground.
“The ground was covered in body parts,” he reflected, his eyes focusing on that faraway place.
They made their way to the command post to find that only seven Americans were still alive. The rest were South Vietnamese, some Montagnards.
They continued to receive fire for two weeks.
He said he was in a mortar hole when the Special Forces lieutenant said he and his team were going to the top of a hill to their right. When it was secure, the lieutenant said he would fire a green flare and they could follow.
“I could see green tracers coming across from the hill to the left,” he recalled, his voice subdued.
When the men stood to move forward, machine guns opened up from several directions, killing three men immediately.
“I looked around and the Vietnamese were all hiding behind sand bags,” he said. “I slapped one up side the head, grabbed his M-60 (machine gun) and some ammo.”
His voice began to break and he struggled to control his emotions as he relived that day so long ago. It was the first time in over 30 years I had seen him struggle so — it broke my heart.
“At the end there were 70 dead,” he said quietly, adding that they were men, like him, doing for their country what he was doing for his.
“I didn’t want the Silver Star,” he said. “I told my captain I didn’t want it.”
Special Forces had nominated him for the award and his commander convinced him to take the few minutes to accept it.
“Have you ever talked about this before?” I asked.
“No,” he said almost inaudibly, nearly sobbing.
I know he didn’t tell me everything that happened that day, but he told me all he could.
Nor has he forgotten returning and the people at Seattle who spit on him as he came home from a war he did not start but one in which he served his country.
He has spent his life serving his nation, continuing even after retiring from the U.S. Army — no bitterness, just the memories of a man who asked for nothing yet gave so much.
Including his name is not important — it is but one story of courage — like so many more rememberances of veterans who still struggle with the memories of a time long past, yet the events remain so fresh.
There are heroes among us, those who give their all for their comrades and their country. Their stories often go untold, their deeds forgotten by others. But their memories of the horrors of war linger long after the ceremonies and honors they so richly deserve.
God bless them one and all and may they find his peace.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Charlie Goodnight's Last Night"

Barry Corbin will play the legendary Charlie Goodnight at the future amphitheater site for the Texas Frontier Trails at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.
Corbin said he’ll have to brush up a little – it has been awhile since he played the role.
“I’ve done it several times, but not for about five years,” he said.
Those performances included the National Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City; the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth; Washington state; Nevada; and others.
Corbin said he was looking for a one-man play. He had read Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley and wanted a play.
In his research, Corbin came across a song and poem written by Andy Wilkinson.
The two got together and Wilkinson would write some, send it to Corbin who would work on it and return it to Wilkinson.
Wilkinson said he had never written a play, instead he was a song writer and poet.
“I’d written a long piece of music and poetry about Goodnight,” he said, adding that in the beginning he thought it be like writing a long set of lyrics.
“Getting to work with Barry was terrific,” Wilkinson commented. “It was an invaluable experience.”
Wilkinson said the play is not so much about Goodnight’s remembering the past, although there is some of that.
“The real focus of the play is how do we move from our prime, as the world sees us, to our dotage?”
Wilkinson said in the 1920s, the world saw Goodnight as an old man who had lived an adventurous life, but a man whose time had passed, a man who had little to contribute in “the modern age.”
But the legendary cattleman saw himself much differently – he was still a vibrant and thoughtful man who had ideas and was willing to experiment.
“He was forever experimenting with cross-breeding cattle and cross-breeding buffalo,” Wilkinson explained.
In fact, Wilkinson said Goodnight wrote a letter to a friend in New York. The friend wrote back and asked Goodnight what he was doing.
“I have 25 years of projects in front of me,” Goodnight responded.
He was in his 80s when he wrote that letter.
“He was never ready to retire,” Wilkinson said.
The site of the play is at the old Pollard Creek Park at the far north end of Oak Avenue in Mineral Wells.
Gates will open at 7 p.m. and there will be a shuttle service from the parking area to the performance site.
Organizers will have water at the outdoor stage and rest rooms will also be at the location.
There are a limited number of tickets available for the one performance that will showcase not only Charlie Goodnight but also the TFT goal of building a permanent amphitheater for summer performances highlighting the history and heritage of Palo Pinto County.
Following the performance there will be a reception and an opportunity to visit with Corbin.
TFT is also seeking event sponsors for the fund-raisers. Sponsors get tickets, preferred seating, parking and acknowledgement of their contribution through advertising and special recognition.
For tickets or to become a sponsor, contact the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce, 940-325-2557; Farm Bureau Insurance, 940-325-9412; or Texas Frontiers Trail, 940-327-8386.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bail Out

Dennis O’Neill, creator of the proposed TV series “Bail Out,” was at Boyce Ditto Library in Mineral Wells, Texas, May 15 to talk about the series and show the trailer.
The story is about a tough, gritty New York cop who gets crosswise with the mob and his superiors and leaves the Big Apple, ending up in Fort Worth.
“Jimmy O’Neill leaves New York,” said O’Neill, director, writer and actor in the series. “He lost his girl, is having problems with the (police) department and hits a mob guy who is on the city council.”
Part of the show’s trailer was filmed with people from Mineral Wells, Millsap, Fort Worth and members of the acting class he teaches in Fort Worth.
“Originally we did a class project – it just took off from there,” O’Neill said, noting that it wasn’t long until it became a serious project.
“We had 22 people involved, it came down to five of us,” he added.
Those five are Pattie Walters Hart, a producer from Cool and daughter-in-law of Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart; Dana Brumley, producer; Julie Hutt, assistant director; David Pinkston, direction of photography; and O’Neill, the primary writer, director and star of the series.
Co-starring with O’Neill is Terry Kiser.
Kiser, perhaps best known for his role as the dead guy in “Weekend at Bernie’s,” plays O’Neill’s partner. He has appeared in over 180 television and movie productions, including “Baretta,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Legacy of Sin: The William Coit Story,” and more.
O’Neill said Kiser is a gifted and versatile addition to the production.
“He brings his years of experience and his skills for acting and improvisation,” said O’Neill.
In fact, much of the dialogue in the trailer was improv.
“Everything in the trailer is not scripted,” he continued. “We’d come up with one word – say, ‘cigarette.’”
In the trailer is a scene where O’Neill and Kiser are sitting in a car and Kiser pulls out a cigarette. O’Neill tells him don’t smoke in his car. When Kiser protests, O’Neill reminds him it has always been that way over their 20 years of working together.
And Kiser has been a director.
“He was the director of a lot of the Carol Burnett shows.”
In addition, Dean Smith will appear. Smith, who lives in Stephens County between Graham and Breckenridge, is an Olympic gold medalist who parlayed his athletic prowess into a movie and television career that began in 1957.
“Again, what I feel he’s bringing is his positive attitude, his zest for life and his years of experience,” O’Neill reflected.
He said Smith has appeared in over 122 films and television programs, including 11 John Wayne movies, as a stunt man and actor and been behind the scenes as well, directing stunts.
“He’s in the Cowboy Hall of Fame,” O’Neill continued. “He’s a complete actor – his life experiences, acting skills and attitude.
“If you have a positive attitude, we have a place for you here.”
The trailer for the show has humor and action with real people.
“Some of the things in ‘Bail Out’ really happened,” O’Neill said.
He reflected that, when he first arrived in Texas, he went to a grocery store where the clerk asked, “How y’all doin’?”
“Why?” he said he answered, cautious because no one in New York ever asked such a question unless they were looking to create a problem.
“‘Just thought I’d ask,’” he said the clerk answered.
“I was really suspicious, I really didn’t get it,” O’Neill added.
“One thing we all agreed on, we didn’t want him coming from New York not liking Texas,” Hart said of the character. “We wanted him to fall in love with Texas.”
Of the people portrayed, there are no exaggerated drawls or mannerisms.
“We wanted them to be just the way they are,” she said.
Locally, Judge Bobby Hart plays – a judge. The trailer has him in his courtroom in the Poston Building in Mineral Wells. There were also scenes shot at the Mineral Wells Police Department, Holiday Inn Express, Nancy’s Italian Texan Grill and locations in Cool and Millsap.
Other local talent included Lucas Mitchell and Doug Hart, son of Bobby Hart.
The music for the show, “Southern Lullaby,” was written by Caleb Williams and performed by his band, Noltey. Williams, who attended high school in Santo, is a cousin of Pattie Hart.
“What we needed was a song,” said O’Neill, adding that Hart suggested her cousin, who he thought was someone who just believed they could sing.
“She lent me his CD,” he continued. “Two weeks later I listened to the CD. ‘Oh my gosh, she really has a cousin who sings.’”
Hart said she called Williams and explained in a few words what they were looking for – something that was closer to talk, but not, and not rap.
Two weeks later she brought the recording, “Southern Lullaby.”
“She just came to the school with the CD,” said O’Neill. “When I played it, I could not have written a better song.”
O’Neill and Hart continue to try to market it as either a TV series or made-for-television movie.
“We have a possible investor,” he said. “He wants to help us raise money for a movie or six episodes. We’re pitching it everyday.”
“Bail Out” is on Facebook, YouTube and at
The series tag line, “Everybody has a story,” certainly applies, both to the proposed series and the people making it a reality.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy

The movie, “The Legend of Hell’s Gate: An American Conspiracy,” is in post production and very near completion.
“It’s in the final stages of post production,” said Tanner Beard, who wrote, directed and stars in the full-length feature film. “We definitely have picture lock.”
Once post production is complete, Beard plans on taking the film to some high-profile film festivals.
“We’ll go to the Toronto Film Festival or the Venice Film Festival for premieres.”
The story takes a look at 1876 Texas history and the legend of Possum Kingdom Lake’s Hell’s Gate. Beard, who is originally from Snyder, said he often came to PK Lake when he was growing up.
“It’s kinda the same story,” he said. “Growing up at PK, researching the legend of Hell’s Gate. “
But in researching 1876 Texas history, he found a lot of legendary names in that year including one of the most famous of the Comanche chiefs – Quanah Parker, who came to Scurry County.
Beard said it was amazing to be able to incorporate that into the script.
“I personally like it,” he said of the film. “I think it’s a solid story. I’m excited for it. You feel like you’re there.”
Many of the actors in the film, like Beard, are from Texas.
He noted that Chris Kinkade, Summer Glau, Jenna Dewan and Russell Cummings are among cast members who are from Texas and Buck Taylor lives in the state.
“Jim Beaver and Buck Taylor, having these western legends come on board with the western’s younger generation of actors is great,” Beard said.
Glau, who plays Maggie Moon, has appeared in a number of movies and TV series including “Dollhouse,” “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “The 4400,” and “The Unit.”
Taylor played Newly on the TV series “Gunsmoke,” and has appeared in countless movies including “Tombstone.”
“We hope the movie comes out in 2010,” Beard continued. “There’s no way to know, we’re looking for some entity to purchase it. We have some studio interest, but who knows what that means?”
But there is a also a lot of interest in Europe and the far East.
“We have a lot of European interest – Germany, Japan – they love westerns,” he added. “There’s definite interest, we’re just taking it one day at a time.”
As for what’s on the horizon, Beard has plans.
“We’re in the process of looking at a sequel and other projects,” he said. “I’m currently writing the sequel.”
The title will be “The Legend of Hell’s Gate: 1877.”
The trailer for the movie can be see at