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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Amarillo's White Christmas!

I was pleasantly surprised to wake to a lovely blanket of snow covering the ground this Christmas morning. What a lovely gift for a photographer!

After church - I took a solitary walk through John Stiff park to celebrate Christmas - and take a few photos. It was a wonderfully gorgeous stroll.


-Steve Douglass

I was pleasantly surprised to wake to a lovely blanket of snow covering the ground this Christmas morning. What a lovely gift for a photographer!

After church - I took a solitary walk through John Stiff park to celebrate Christmas - and take a few photos. It was a wonderfully gorgeous stroll.


-Steve Douglass

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blizzard looms - Amarillo EOC opens

AMARILLO, TEXAS -- The City of Amarillo Weather Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been opened in anticipation of severe winter weather.

According to city officials, the center will be open for 24 hours. It is monitoring weather information from the National Weather Service. It is also coordinating operational responses with Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation and Potter and Randall Counties.

Motorists are asked to practice safe driving as sn

Friday, December 2, 2011

AISD teacher accused of sexting/sexual conduct with 15 year old.

KVII/CONNECT AMARILLO: AMARILLO, TEXAS -- An Amarillo elementary teacher is being accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to three high school students, as well as having a sexual relationship with the boys.

A search warrant affidavit obtained by Pronews 7 revealed Julie Ann Moore, 34, of Amarillo, allegedly sexted a 15-year-old boy more than 100 times. Additionally, Moore is accused of having a sexual relationship with the boy and two other Amarillo High School students.

Moore is a third grade teacher at Sanborn Elementary School. She has since been placed on paid a
Texas Rangers along with the Texas Department of Public Safety investigated the matter. A Trooper personally witnessed unusual behavior between Moore and the 15-year-old student at a football game, the affidavit said.

Students also reportedly suspected the sexual relationship between the two. The Trooper said he saw Moore and the boy walking off together to speak privately for a lengthy amount of time during the football game.

Police say they met with one of the other boys. He provided an audio recorded statement, police said. In the statement, he detailed his sexual relationship with Moore. He also spoke about the sexually explicit text messages Moore had sent him. He said Moore had "kissed him with an open mouth on thee separate occasions."

The boy also told police he had three sexual encounters with Moore. He said he received about 100 text messages from Moore with about half of them being "extremely sexually explicit," according to the affadavit.

Additionally, the boy told police he suspected Moore of having sexual intercourse with one of his 15-year-old friends.

Cell phones, laptops and computers were voluntarily surrendered to police to proceed with the investigation.

Moore has not been officially charged with anything. The case remains under investigation.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Verizon outage in Amarillo/Texas Panhandle prompts stupid questions!

According to a source at the Verizon store on Coulter (and reports from Verizon customers) the entire Verizon network for the Texas & Oklahoma Panhandle is down. The outage began shortly after 9:00AM. The cause is not known at this time but both Verizon & AT&T technicians were working to isolate and repair the problem.

The Verizon store at I-40 & Coulter soon became a parking nightmare as anxious customers dropped in to see what the problem was. The staff was soon beset with stupid questions such as "Will Verizon credit my account?" and "How long will this take?"

"No - you will not be credited (see your contract for an explanation) and "We don't know yet." were the standard replies.

Frustrated by the growing crowd of impatient and jones-ing customers all unable to update their Facebook accounts - the staff was finally forced to post a sign in their window. "NETWORK IS DOWN" which stopped the still-arriving throngs of disgruntled customers from entering the store.

Note: as of 11:55 the network appears to be back up - and the world was saved once again from complete anarchy. Thanks Verizon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bloomberg: Perry's education plan leaves Amarillo schools in shortfall ...

Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Students at elementary schools in Amarillo, Texas, don't get drawing lessons as a five-year-old finance plan from Republicans led by Governor Rick Perry hasn't delivered funding needed to avoid cuts and improve education.

"We'd love to offer art or foreign languages," said Rod Schroder, Amarillo's superintendent. "But we have never had the revenue to put in those programs."

Perry, a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and legislative leaders in Austin have blamed this year's public-education funding shortfall on a weaker economy and flaws in a 2006 tax overhaul that hasn't met projections for revenue. In the two-year budget that began in September, aid to local schools fell short by more than $5 billion, a situation that business leaders have said threatens the state's economy.

"Texas needs a structurally sound school-finance system that isn't continually underfunded," Harvin Moore, a board member of the Houston Independent School District, said in a telephone interview. The fourth-biggest U.S. city by population has the state's largest system with about 200,000 students.

"Numerous legislators told me and others that they would rather leave the system broken and wait for districts to sue," letting a judge make the hard choices involved, Moore said. The two-year budget passed in May eliminated a deficit estimated to be at least $15 billion and provides $53.8 billion for schools.

A Budget Priority

Perry has said little on the issue this year, while in his presidential campaign he has called for the elimination of the U.S. Education Department, returning the funding it distributes to the states. His budget proposal, submitted to lawmakers in February, made few references to school finances. Its introduction calls public education a priority and says budget writers had to sort needs from wants in completing their plan.

In terms of spending per student, Texas ranked 43rd among states at $8,562 in the school year ending in 2009, down from 36th a decade earlier, Lynn Moak, a partner at Moak, Casey & Associates, said in October at a conference of school administrators. His firm in Austin advises schools on finances. National Education Association data show Texas ranked 39th in the past school year, at $9,128 per pupil.

Local business leaders including Ed Whitacre, the former AT&T Inc. chairman, have warned that a decline in the quality of public education may undermine efforts to increase jobs.

Aid Trails Growth

State aid hasn't kept pace with the estimated 80,000- student enrollment increase each year, dropping as much as $400 per pupil this year, according to Lauren Cook, a spokeswoman for the Equity Center in Austin. The nonprofit organization represents 690 less-wealthy systems and organized a lawsuit that claims the state's financing mechanism is unconstitutional and seeks to force an increase in funding.

Similar complaints have been brought against other states such as Connecticut and New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie was ordered to raise spending in the 31 poorest districts by $500 million. In a 3-2 ruling in May, the New Jersey Supreme Court said "full funding" for the schools was a "constitutional mandate."

Connecticut schoolchildren haven't been given sufficient resources by the state to make up for disparities in local property-tax revenue, according to Philip Streifer, the superintendent of the Bristol system and president of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. The group is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which may go to trial as early as next year.

'Expensive' Endeavor

"I wish politicians would understand that given the requirements and labor laws and mandates, education is expensive," said Streifer, an educator in Connecticut since 1971. "This funding problem is systemic. It was in place when I started 40 years ago and it hasn't been resolved."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Body found - police seek info.

DATE: November 17, 2011
TIME: 2:00 AM
CASE NUMBER: 2011-533157
INCIDENT TYPE: Suspicious Death

DETAILS: At approximately 0200 hours on Thursday, November 17, 2011 patrol officers of the Potter County Sheriff’s Office discovered a deceased white male in the ditch at 1800 N. Smelter Road. The deceased subject was identified as Clay Petersen, thirty-seven years old.

An autopsy is scheduled for later today. Anyone with information concerning this subject and his death should contact the Potter-Randall Counties Special Crimes Unit at 806-378-9468.

City-wide ban on texting while driving sought.

CONNECT AMARILLO: AMARILLO, TEXAS -- Texting while driving in a school zone in Amarillo is illegal and eventually, that ban could go citywide.

Wednesday, the Amarillo Traffic Commission talked about the possibility of a citywide ban on texting while driving.

"They wanted input as to if we need an ordinance, is an ordinance feasible," said Amarillo Traffic Engineer, Taylor Withrow. "Are there some other things we could do instead or in conjunction with the city wide ban."

They looked at information from Austin, which has had a city wide ban on texting while driving in effect for the past two years. During those two years, Austin only issued 310 citations for individuals breaking that ban, a relatively small number for such a large city.

Because that number seems so low, discussion during the Traffic Commission's meeting Wednesday turned to the difficulty of enforcing such a law.

"The difficulty comes with enforcing it," said Traffic Commission Chairman, D.J. Stubben. "But our wonderful police department is good about observing the drivers to see if they're driving erratically or anything then they can pull them over for another misdemeanor."

No action was taken on this issue during the meeting but will be discussed again at the next Traffic Commission meeting in January.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Images from Cruise Night - 11-5-2011

Click to enlarge:

All photos (C) Steve Douglass

Quake rattles Oklahoma - felt in Amarillo and Canyon!

SPARKS, Okla. | Oklahomans more accustomed to tornadoes than earthquakes suffered through a weekend of temblors that cracked buildings, buckled a highway and rattled nerves. One quake late Saturday was the state's strongest ever and jolted a college football stadium 50 miles away and was followed early Sunday by a jarring aftershock.

There were no reports in the hours after the quakes of any severe injuries or severe damage.

"That shook up the place, had a lot of people nervous," Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon said of the late Saturday quake, the strongest of a series of quakes. "Yeah, it was pretty strong."

The magnitude 5.6 earthquake Saturday night was centered near Sparks, 44 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, and could be felt throughout the state and in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, northern Texas and some parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, said geophysicist Jessica Turner at the U.S. Geological Survey. A magnitude 4.7 quake early Saturday was felt from Texas to Missouri.

Turner told The Associated Press that the subsequent magnitude 4.0 quake that struck at 3:39 a.m. Sunday was an aftershock centered some 36 miles east of Oklahoma City in the same region. Like Saturday night's quake, she said it was another shallow quake occurring about 3 miles underground, but experts had no immediate explanation for the spurt in seismic activity.

Following the quakes or numerous small aftershocks, several homeowners and businesses reported cracked walls, fallen knickknacks and other minor damage. At Shawnee, the fire department said one spire on the administration building at St. Gregory University had been damaged and another one was leaning, according to KWTV in Oklahoma City.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pirates Of The Canyon - Balloon Glow 2011

Just one from tonight's balloon glow in Amarillo - part of the "Pirate's Of The Canyon event taking place this weekend.

(C) Steve Douglass

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What was that flash? Pantex dismantling last largest nuke today.

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — The last of the nation's most powerful nuclear bombs — a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.

The final components of the B53 bomb will be broken down today at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, the nation's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. The completion of the dismantling program is a year ahead of schedule, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, and aligns with President Barack Obama's goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.
Thomas D'Agostino, the nuclear administration's chief, called the bomb's elimination a "significant milestone."

First put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000 pounds and was the size of a minivan. According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.
The B53 was designed to destroy facilities deep underground, and it was carried by B-52 bombers.

Since it was made using older technology by engineers who have since retired or died, developing a disassembly process took time. Engineers had to develop complex tools and new procedures to ensure safety.

"We knew going in that this was going to be a challenging project, and we put together an outstanding team with all of our partners to develop a way to achieve this objective safely and efficiently," said John Woolery, the plant's general manager.

Many of the B53s were disassembled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired from the stockpile in 1997. Pantex spokesman Greg Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how many of the bombs have been disassembled at the Texas plant.

The weapon is considered dismantled when the roughly 300 pounds of high explosives inside are separated from the special nuclear material, known as the pit. The uranium pits from bombs dismantled at Pantex will be stored on an interim basis at the plant, Cunningham said.

The material and components are then processed, which includes sanitizing, recycling and disposal, the National Nuclear Security Administration said last fall when it announced the Texas plant's role in the B53 dismantling.
The plant will play a large role in similar projects as older weapons are retired from the U.S.'s nuclear arsenal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Air/car show this weekend!

Click to enlarge:

The Dewline Squadron of the The Commemorative Air Force is hosting a car and and airplane show Saturday at Tradewind Airport. Activities include opening ceremonies at 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Amarillo Skyline ...

If you ever get back to Amarillo
In a shiny new car or
Worn out shoes
If you ever get back to Amarillo
I’ll be waitin' for you - Alan Jackson.

(C) Photos copyright Steve Douglass and requires permission for reproduction.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Balloon Glow scheduled at Discovery Center!

AMARILLO --- The Don Harrington Discovery Center is hosting Balloon Glow.

Hot air balloons are coming to Amarillo from the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.

Watch as the balloons inflate and the pilots fire their burners.

Spectators are encouraged to walk around the lawn, see the balloons up close and talk to the pilots.

You can even climb up into the basket and take photos with your own camera.

The fun event will feature lots of hot air balloonists fueling up. It's Friday, October 14, starting at 6:00p.m.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SWAT standoff in Amarillo ends peacefully


Update 2:00aM
Police now have the man in custody who barracaded himself in a home for several hours late Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

It was just after 6:00 Monday evening when police were dispacted to the 6100 block of Palmetto, near the intersection of 34th and Bell. According to Amarillo Police, a female occupant was not able to get out of the house. She advised police the male subject, who was still inside the home, had threatened her with a gun.

Officers then made contact with the man who said he had weapons inside the home. He told police he was not coming out.

The residence was secured as SWAT and hostage negitiators were called in.

Communication was made and after several hours, at around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, the man came out of the house. He was taken into custody without further incident.

He was taken to the Randall County Jail where, according to police, he will be booked on a charge of Aggravated Assault.

The man's identity is not yet being released.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Space shuttle trainer finds new home in Amarillo!

Click to enlarge:

NASA pilots Dick Clark and Ken Cockrell pose after the last flight of NASA 946 Space Shuttle trainer on delivery to Texas Air & Space Museum here in Amarillo. Wonder gift in honor of Rick Husband - our hometown astronaut who gave his life on Columbia -STS-107,

The Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) is a NASA training vehicle that duplicates the Space Shuttle's approach profile and handling qualities, allowing Space Shuttle pilots to simulate Shuttle landings under controlled conditions before attempting the task on board the orbiter.

Because NASA has discontinued the shuttle program, the training
aircraft is no longer needed.

The donated craft was delivered to the Texas Air & Space Museum shortly before noon today.

Museum Board President Ron Fernuik told the Amarillo Globe-News
that the aircraft is a significant gift to the city because it is "bringing one of our own home."

The training aircraft was upgraded from its original production
version - a Grumman Gulfstream II - to simulate the space shuttle.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Live: Amarillo Area Air Traffic Radio

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