QUESTION: Do you know when the next free electronics recycling event will be here in Longview? The last one was rained out.

ANSWER: The next Green and Clean, which is 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 9 at Lear Park, will include electronics recycling with one change: No television sets will be accepted.

Assistant Public Works Director Dwayne Archer explained to me that the cost of recycling has “gone through the roof.” The city has to pay someone “quite a bit” to recycle televisions, and then they mostly end up in the landfill once the pieces that can be recycled are removed from the sets, he said.

“Sanitation customers with televisions should place smaller sets in their landfill cart. For larger television sets, we ask that they call Sanitation at (903) 237-1250 to schedule a bulky item pick up,” he said in an email.

The other electronics recycling options that have been part of previous events will continue, including: microwaves, cellular phones, copy machines, computers and monitors, keyboards, CDs and DVDs, circuit boards, phones, video cameras, satellite television equipment, VCR tapes, scanners, sewing machines, and walkie talkies. (Don’t forget you’ll need a city of Longview water bill to participate in electronics recycling.)

Q: Why is it so expensive to attend the Great Texas Balloon Race? Do they have to pay all those people who work there? Do they have to pay to have the race at the airport?

A: Expensive is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. Ticket prices for the Great Texas Balloon Race are $15 to $20 per person, depending on what day you attend and whether you buy them in advance or at the gate (and Sunday is free). Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.

Race spokeswoman Gai Bennett, who also happens to work for the News-Journal, said those tickets prices mean you get to attend the balloon glow, get into the carnival midway and attend a concert.

“I think we’re priced at a very good value,” she said, adding that all proceeds go to producing the event.

She said the race comes with an annual price tag of about $570,000, including about $480,000 in cash and $90,000 in in-kind donations, such as the use of vehicles.

“I’m also extremely proud of the fact that this is an all-volunteer organization,” she said of the nonprofit balloon race organization. “There is not one paid position in the organization.”

The means all the board members are volunteers. Also, the people you see selling tickets the weekend of the race each year and performing other tasks are volunteers. (The balloon race makes a donation to the Texas State Guard to help with parking.) The race does pay the championship director and staff to actually conduct the race, and for balloon pilots’ hotels in Longview.

Bennett said the race’s largest expenses are associated with the concerts — to the tune of $94,259.02 this year, including renting a stage and other items, followed by operations at almost $92,000. That amount includes generators, tents, port-a-potties, security and emergency medical services, fencing, radio rentals, etc.

“While those are just the two biggest expense categories, I think it’s worth mentioning that we awarded $48,000 in prize money to the competing pilots. And that is what makes this event one of the most highly regarded ballooning events in the country,” Bennett said in an email.

The race does not pay to rent the East Texas Regional Airport where the event is held each year. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said the commissioners court grants the organization use of the airport each year as a community event. The organization is required to provide insurance coverage.

Q: If you would, get back on your computer and see who won the $5,000 a day from Publishers Clearing House.

A: Bad news. It wasn’t me. Ricky Williams of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, won the “$5,000 a Week for Life!” sweepstakes. (And that’s according to reporting by several legitimate news organizations.) I’m now resisting the urge to spend all my free time entering Publishers Clearing House contests.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.