Randall County Courthouse, in Canyon

Randall County Courthouse, in Canyon

On July 27th, 1888, pioneers organized Randall County.

The county was first settled by Lincoln Guy Conner and his wife Victoria, who moved their cattle to the vast Palo Duro Canyon area in the Panhandle.

The Conners bought their land for three dollars an acre, built a half dugout, and established a general store and post office.

When the county was organized, the dugout was the polling place.

The Conners’ daughter, Mamie, was the first white child born in the county.

In the spring of 1889, Lincoln Conner laid out the townsite of Canyon. He donated town lots to anyone willing to build a home or a business.

Over the next two decades, the Conners became some of the growing city’s most prosperous citizens, were charter members of the First Baptist church and Mr. Conner sought to establish the Palo Duro Canyon as a national park.

Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

By Ben Guarino, The Washington Post

The two fishermen thought they had a whopper on the end of the line. It was a late June evening at Lady Bird Lake, a reservoir in Austin, when 55-year-old Terry Wayne Washington and a friend began reeling in the hefty catch.

Along the shore, passersby stopped to watch the struggle. But there was no giant fish bending the pole in half. The men had snagged a large snapping turtle. When it was weighed later, the turtle tipped the scale at 40 pounds.

With the claw end of a hammer, Washington’s companion hooked the shell to pull the animal on land. The turtles had been bothering the two all day, the fisherman later told police, as they were chasing fish away. Onlookers said it appeared as if he wanted to free the turtle.

But then Washington took the hammer.

Once the turtle was on shore, according to witnesses, the spectacle took a sickening turn.

A “blood trail from the water’s edge all the way to the turtle, which was approximately 75 feet away” was left at the scene, according to a police affidavit obtained by The Dallas Morning News.

A jogger named Geoffrey Frank saw the blood and the action that drew it. In a graphic video he posted to Facebook, it is possible to hear the meaty crack of the hammer against the turtle shell over Frank’s horrified murmurs of protest.

Frank turned a corner on the trail that runs near Lady Bird Lake to see, as he told Austin’s KXAN-TV, Washington swing the tool down upon the turtle’s shell. On his second loop, the turtle was dead.

It was “sick,” Frank said to KXAN. He watched as the man “smashed it to death with a hammer.”

The animal was still hooked with the fishing line. Washington struck the animal at least 10 times, police told Fox 7, caving in its skull. While witnesses called for him to let the turtle be, according to Frank’s account Washington allegedly dragged the turtle carcass away from shore, left the body and took off in his car.

Frank’s Facebook footage tipped off authorities about the crime. Washington confessed to killing the animal two days later, turning himself in at Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Facility.

On July 26, just over a month after the turtle slaying, authorities charged Washington with cruelty to a non-livestock animal. He was also charged with two misdemeanors related to killing wildlife.

Washington said that he was simply protecting himself. The reptile had lunged at him, he said, according to the affidavit. He acknowledged to police he had made no effort to cut the line or unhook the turtle. Police countered that the witness accounts dispute the claims of self-defense and a fast death for the turtle.

As the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told The Midland Reporter-Telegram, only licensed hunters can catch turtles in Texas. It is also possible he will be fined for illegally dumping dead wildlife. The charge of animal cruelty is a state jail felony under the Texas penal code. Washington’s bond was set at $5,000.

The reaction to his Facebook video astonished Frank. “The city came together to bring justice to a turtle,” he told the Telegram, “when many would have just walked by and said, ‘Oh, it’s just an animal.’”

Nolan

Nolan

On July 26, 1877, Capt. Nicholas Nolan and First Lt. C.S. Cooper led a party of forty Tenth U.S. Cavalry troopers and twenty-four buffalo hunters from a supply base at Double Lakes, Lynn County, to pursue marauding Indians and recapture stolen horses.

The Tenth Cavalry were buffalo soldiers.

When the Indian trails diverged, the pursuit was abandoned and a search for water was begun.

Nolan turned back toward Double Lakes. The buffalo hunters turned southwest and found water.

But Nolan marched another thirty-eight hours before reaching Double Lakes, eighty-six hours since his men had last had water.

Four men were dead or missing, along with twenty-five horses and four pack animals.

At the future site of Lubbock, the buffalo hunters found the horses and learned that the Indians were returning to Indian Territory.

It is believed that this event was the last Comanche raid in Texas.

From The Austin American-Statesman

Paxton Statesman file photo

Paxton
Statesman file photo

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under indictment on felony charges of duping investors in a tech startup, accepted $100,000 for his criminal defense from the head of a medical imaging provider while his office investigated the company for Medicaid fraud.

Dallas-based Preferred Imaging LLC settled a $3.5 million whistleblower lawsuit in a case handled by the U.S. Justice Department and Paxton’s Texas Civil Medicaid Fraud Division, the head of which co-signed the agreement in June.

Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander said Tuesday federal prosecutors took the lead on the case and that the attorney general had no personal involvement. James Webb, the president of Preferred Imaging who gave Paxton the donation, did not immediately return an email and phone message.

The donation underscores the potential conflicts that Paxton, a Republican, is navigating as Texas’ top prosecutor while the state prosecutes him on two counts of felony securities fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.

Ethics and legal experts say Paxton’s accepting the money while his office investigated Webb’s company was not a clear violation of Texas’ loose ethics laws. But they said the donation at least had the appearance of conflict.

Webb is the most generous supporter of Paxton’s legal defense, covering nearly one-third of the $330,000 that two dozen people donated last year.

Paxton cannot use taxpayer dollars or campaign funds to pay for his criminal case, and is instead using an exemption under Texas bribery law that allows gifts to public servants when there is a “personal, professional, or business relationship” that is independent of their official duties.

Both the Justice Department and Justin Sumner, a Dallas-based attorney for the whistleblower who brought the lawsuit, said the state was involved in the investigation of Preferred Imaging.

“The Texas Attorney General’s Civil Medicaid Fraud Division worked on the investigation,” said Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas.

In an emailed statement, Paxton’s spokesman said federal prosecutors negotiated the settlement “on everyone’s behalf.” He said they took the lead, and he did not go into detail about the role the state’s unit had in the case.

“We trust the U.S. Attorney’s Office to handle these cases with professionalism and ensure that a fair settlement is reached,” Rylander said.

Preferred Imaging admitted no wrongdoing while settling accusations that the company performed some procedures without an on-site physician present, which is in violation of Medicaid billing rules.

Sumner said Paxton had no direct involvement with the case to his knowledge and that there appeared to be nothing unusual about how the case was handled.

“It seems like they investigated thoroughly. I didn’t notice any foul play,” Sumner said.

No criminal trial has yet been set for Paxton, who has twice lost his attempts to have the indictments dismissed. He is also being sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a separate civil lawsuit, which similarly accuses Paxton of urging people to put their money into a tech startup called Servergy Inc. without disclosing he was being paid by the company to recruit investors.

If convicted of the criminal charges, Paxton faces five to 99 years in prison.

Webb is a low-profile GOP donor who has given more than $450,000 to conservative state candidates since 2009. Nearly half of that was $200,000 toward Paxton’s run for attorney general in 2014, when the former suburban Dallas lawmaker was elected to succeed Greg Abbott, who is now Texas governor.

Craig McDonald, who runs the left-leaning watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, filed the original securities complaint against Paxton in 2014 that led to a criminal investigation. But he said he would be pressed to file a complaint this time because Paxton is taking advantage of vague Texas anti-bribery statutes that allow officeholders to accept gifts from friends without defining who meets that threshold.

Buck Wood, a veteran Austin-based ethics attorney, believes a case could be made against Paxton.

“The idea that you could accept a contribution to your so-called legal defense fund from someone that your office has under investigation is simply prohibited,” Wood said.

The lawsuit against Preferred Imaging was filed on Dec. 30, 2014, less than a week before Paxton took office. Sumner said state and federal investigators began looking into the claims after the suit was filed.

Paxton’s alleged investor deception happened in 2011, when he was still a state lawmaker. He was indicted by a grand jury in his hometown of McKinney in 2015, just six months after becoming attorney general, and has repeatedly said he will not resign.

___

 

by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune

Garry Mauro

Garry Mauro

PHILADELPHIA — A contentious scene unraveled here Tuesday morning at a meeting of Texas delegates after one criticized Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and a favorite of Lone Star State Democrats.

The tension erupted while delegates supporting Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s primary rival, were arrayed on the stage at a daily breakfast convened by the state delegation.

It was meant to be a show of unity, with one of them, Russell Lytle of Denton, speaking hopefully of dialogue with Clinton supporters.

However, several minutes into his remarks, Lytle took a sharp turn against Clinton in what other Sanders delegates later described as an isolated incident.

“We want to be clear,” Lytle said. “We are currently condemning our current presumptive nominee.”

That touched off an angry reaction from some in the crowd, sparking loud boos and bringing Clinton backers to their feet. One of the people who rose pointed his finger at the stage: “Stop this nonsense!” he said. “You need to grow up!”

Garry Mauro, the Clinton campaign’s top representative in Texas, took the microphone and tried to calm the room. He asked Clinton loyalists like himself to remember what it was like in 2008, when they arrived at the Democratic National Convention facing pressure to support presumptive nominee Barack Obama.

Texas Democrats, Mauro said, need to put their egos aside as they welcome new people to the party. That did not go over well with some Clinton supporters in the crowd, who said Sanders had lost and it was his backers who need to put aside their egos.

Lytle ultimately left the stage, where he could be seen speaking with state Sen. Royce West of Dallas, a longtime Clinton supporter. Approached by reporters, Lytle said his beef with Clinton is rooted in what he sees a less than open nominating process.

The conflict led to Lytle voluntarily turning in his convention credential, according to state party officials. That’s a largely symbolic move.

“In a moment of passion, while reaching out to my fellow members of the Texas delegation, I spoke one sentence that did not reflect my intention of promoting productive dialogue,” Lytle said in a statement issued after the breakfast. “I apologize for my poor choice of words, and hope we can continue to move forward and work together towards the common goal of turning Texas blue.”

Once the brouhaha died down at the breakfast, another Sanders delegate, Jen Ramos, took the stage for remarks that were much more well received.

“On behalf of the Bernie Sanders campaign, don’t cast off everyone just yet,” said Ramos, who is from Austin. “While I am a Bernie Sanders delegate, I am first and foremost a Democrat.”

With the crowd still buzzing about the dustup, state party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa came to the stage and suggested that Lytle’s remarks were unexpected. “What you heard was not what was supposed to be said,” Hinojosa told the delegation.

Hinojosa then introduced Ashley Rodriguez, a Sanders delegate who said Sanders supporters “don’t support any negative language” but begged Clinton delegates to be respectful.

“We can’t fight negativity with negativity,” said Rodriguez, who is from El Paso. “That’s not how you’re going to achieve unity. You’re just not.”

Later, Jacob Limon, who was Sanders’ Texas director during the primary, said there was unity in the delegation “after the dust settled.”

“So I think it was a cathartic moment that will pretty quickly turn into a unified effort,” Limon said.

State party officials also announced that Sanders will address the Texas delegation on Wednesday

 

Mr. and Mrs. Goodnight, in their elder years.

Mr. and Mrs. Goodnight, in their elder years.

On June 26, 1870, pioneering rancher Charles Goodnight married his sweetheart Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer.

Goodnight, a veteran cattleman, helped blaze the Goodnight-Loving Trail in 1866. His wife Molly, orphaned in the 1850s, had worked as a schoolteacher to support her younger brothers. The two first met at Fort Belknap about 1864.

After their wedding, the couple settled on a ranch in Colorado for a few years before moving to the Palo Duro Canyon to help establish the JA Ranch.

Charles managed the ranch, trailed cattle, and continued to upgrade the herds while Molly made a home on the solitary plains near the canyon.

Her husband invented a two-horned sidesaddle so that she could more easily ride on the ranch. Though the couple had no children of their own, she became the “Mother of the Panhandle” to countless ranch hands.

Her care for orphaned buffaloes encouraged her husband to establish a domestic buffalo herd.

In later years the ranching couple supported numerous schools, churches, and other organizations, and they established Goodnight College in 1898.

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from The Dallas Morning News

The Central Texas veterinarian who gained notoriety after she killed a cat with an arrow now may face fallout from a DWI charge.

Kristen Lindsey, 33, of Brenham was charged with driving while intoxicated in Harris County in March.

Court documents indicate her blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent — nearly twice the legal limit — the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Wes Rucker, a lawyer representing Lindsey, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the case.

A hearing set for Thursday will determine whether police followed procedure during the traffic stop. Lindsey’s license could be suspended as a result of the hearing.

Lindsey sparked outrage in April 2015 when she posted a picture on Facebook in which she was holding an orange-and-white tomcat that had been shot in the head with an arrow.

“My first bow kill LOL,” the post said. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award … gladly accepted.”

Lindsey testified that the cat she killed was feral; other witnesses said the feline was their pet, Tiger.

She was later fired from the veterinary clinic she worked at, and a veterinary board committee recommended her license be revoked. Lindsey has been able to continue practicing while she appeals the suspension, however.

In June 2015, an Austin County grand jury declined to indict Lindsey on animal-cruelty charges.

After a failed attempt to reach a settlement in mediation in March, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners called a hearing in April to resolve the conflict.

The veterinary board expects to pick up the case again at a meeting scheduled for January.

 

From The Associated Press

CoExBoDUkAAkb8JAMARILLO–At one time, Madam Queen was large and in charge. But now, she’s up for sale.

Weighing in at nearly a million pounds, the 108-foot historic Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe 5000 went from having rust holes the size of basketballs and gathering dust in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Depot yard to being moved to the corner of Southeast Second Avenue and Lincoln Street.

Madam Queen was moved by a group who loved her, whether they owned her or not, said Sam D. Teague, president and founder of the Santa Fe 5000 Railroad Artifact Preservation Society.

The city of Amarillo, the engine’s legal owner since 1957, now wants to sell her.

Teague said the preservation society has a big problem with that.

The society invested more than $800,000 in goods and services to move the engine to its museum site in 2008.

Starting in 1930, Madam Queen chugged up and down the Santa Fe railroad lines between New Mexico and Kansas via the Texas Panhandle. The locomotive retired from service in 1953, and was donated to Amarillo four years later. Then she sat and wasted away until volunteers stepped in, he said.

The engine’s restoration odyssey was documented on an episode of “Mega Movers” on the History Channel. After the move, Teague said, his organization spent tens of thousands of dollars more painting and restoring her during 1,800 volunteer hours. Their goal is to restore the Madam to a functioning locomotive and pull passenger cars around the city.

“Can you imagine how attractive that would be for our city?” he said. “But the way the RFP (request for proposals) is written, there’s no way we can even submit a bid for it.”

Sonja Gross, spokesperson for the city, said she didn’t know exactly whose idea it was to put the engine up for bid. She said parties had approached the city, so the city decided to make the locomotive available for sale.

“City management was approached by various groups that expressed interest in the locomotive, and because of that interest they, along with the city council, decided it was best to go ahead and issue an RFP to find out what the real interest was out there, in case other groups that hadn’t approached them were interested as well,” she said.

Gross did not say exactly when the Amarillo City Council voted to sell the engine.

“That was done earlier this year and there was one bid submitted,” she said. “When it was opened, the job of purchasing was then to go through the criteria set forth in the RFP, and it turns out the criteria were not met. That made that bid a non-responsive bid, so the process was opened up again.”

Although the preservation society would like to own and operate the engine, he said they didn’t bid previously and will not bid this time either.

“The city is refusing to do what it takes for us to get it,” he said. “The RFP requires that whoever takes ownership of it have $3.5 million general liability insurance and workers compensation. We have no employees. We’re all volunteers. We have all the knowledge and understanding to maintain and restore it, but we will have to ignore the RFP. I doubt there’s anyone who will accept it under those terms.”

Teague said even if the group were to gain ownership of the Madam Queen, they don’t have the funds to move or restore it right away, and the RFP does not specifically address how long the buyer would have to move it, because the city owns the land where she rests.

by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune

Texas_Democrats_yall_jpg_800x1000_q100Like their Republican counterparts, Texas Democrats are something of an afterthought at their party’s national convention.

The Republicans came home from Cleveland at the end of last week, as the Democrats were packing for their convention in Philadelphia, which will run Monday through Thursday.

The Texas Republicans are ignored because they are strong and all but certain to put the state in the red column in November’s election. Texas Democrats are ignored because they are electorally weak, unlikely to pull off the kind of upset that would result in their first win in a statewide race since 1994.

The Democrats have one big advantage in this national convention game: They’re going second. They can play off of the speeches and news from the GOP convention without worrying that the same fate will await them.

Texas Democrats don’t have a failed presidential contender like Ted Cruz to cheer in Philadelphia like the Texas Republicans did in Cleveland. They’re missing a local favorite.

They do have some national stars who might attract attention from Democrats who aren’t from Texas.

Wendy Davis, the former state senator, gubernatorial candidate, filibusterer and now head of Deeds Not Words, a civic engagement organization, will be there.

Julián Castro, secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, former San Antonio mayor and one of the people Hillary Clinton considered as a running mate, will be there.

The state’s delegates will hear from the usual suspects —members of Congress, mayors, legislators. Castro and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston will have speaking parts at the convention.

The state’s delegates will hear from the usual suspects —members of Congress, mayors, legislators. Castro and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston will have speaking parts at the convention.

But there are no Texans among the headliners.

States without headliners can still get attention, but they tend to be the states candidates are most worried about.

National Democrats aren’t worried about Texas. They’d love to get it. Clinton herself has a long history of politicking in Texas and would love to flip Texas into the blue column. But she’s busy working on the red states that are more likely to flip and back-filling in the blue states where Republicans are making an effort.

Even if Texas were a swing state, it would be at the bottom of the list of political targets. It’s a terribly expensive place to run political races. Viewed from the offices of national political parties, electing a U.S. senator from Texas costs a lot more than electing one from a smaller state, where running a statewide race is relatively cheap.

That same sort of math works in the presidential race, where each state is a winner-take-all proposition. Republicans cannot win a presidential race without Texas, but the Democrats can.

If you see either party’s nominee running a lot of commercials in Texas in October and November, you’ll know the odds have shifted in this election year. You’ll know that neither regards Texas as a comfortably red state — that the Republicans feel the need to defend it and that the Democrats think they can pick it off.

Some Texas Democrats are thinking about 2018 — the next round of elections after the current one, and the cycle that will include contests for U.S. Senate, governor, and most of the other statewide offices in Texas.

It’s tough for them out there, but nothing is impossible in politics. It’s a game of ifs.

Aside from the regular chatter about making Texas competitive for their party, the Democrats also have a chance to talk about building the voting and financial networks in Texas that would put them on better footing against the other party.

Unlike the Republicans, the state’s Democrats have to build a bench of candidates willing to take on a slate of incumbent Republicans.

It’s tough for them out there, but nothing is impossible in politics. It’s a game of ifs.

If Ted Cruz actually hurt himself at the end of his presidential ride, he could draw a primary opponent in his 2018 re-election bid.

If Donald Trump wins in November, 2018 might be a tough mid-term election cycle for the new president.

If one of the new Republican statewide officeholders stumbles — Attorney General Ken Paxton, currently facing criminal indictments and civil securities fraud charges, comes to mind — the minority party might have an opening.

Look at the ifs that came true. Bernie Sanders was a real threat to Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. The state’s liberals recorded some victories, like a U.S. Supreme Court win against the state’s 2013 abortion restrictions and a semi-favorable appeals court ruling forcing changes to the state’s restrictive photo voter ID law.

Stranger things have happened.

ddd1On July 25, 1953, Staff Sgt. Ambrosio Guillen died in Korea. He had enlisted in El Paso and was a member of Company F, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division.

In action against the enemy near Songuch-on, he and his platoon were defending an outpost ahead of the main lines. Pinned down at night and in unfamiliar terrain, he maneuvered his platoon into fighting position.

He deliberately exposed himself to heavy artillery and mortar fire to direct his men and supervise care and evacuation of the wounded.

Though critically injured, he refused medical attention and continued to lead his men until the enemy was defeated.

He died a few hours later. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor.

Sergeant Guillen is buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso.