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Answer Line: Looking back on a year of questions

Dec. 30, 2016 at 11:21 p.m.


Here we are again on the eve of a new beginning.

It's tradition for Answer Line to publish a roundup of favorite questions from the year that is ending, or what I consider the most important questions. I always enjoy seeing how they help tell our city's continuing story.

Happy New Year, and here's a look at some of the best questions this year:

QUESTION: (From April) Growing up in the 1950s-'60s I remember that in the grassy park area in front of the train station, there was a grave for a dog. Apparently, it was a three-legged dog that hung around the train yard and was known to railroad employees. The grave had a marker with the dog's name on it … That marker is no longer there. The question is where is the marker?

WHY I LIKE THIS QUESTION: This is probably my all-time favorite. I never found out what happened to the original marker, but what I did find was a beautiful story of a railroad telegraph operator named Burke Campbell. In about 1940 Campbell rescued a dog from a freight train that stopped in Longview. The dog had been wrapped in barbed wire and covered in some kind of sticky substance. He ended up losing a leg and so was known as "Crip." It was Campbell's dog, but he became a fixture at the train station and was loved — and fed — by many. When Crip died Oct. 14, 1952, a group of railroad workers gathered at the train depot to bury him, an event logged in history by a photograph in the newspaper.

In October, Burke's grandson, Ben Campbell, came to the Longview Historic Depot to help dedicate a new marker for Crip provided by Rosewood Park. I call that a happy ending.

QUESTION: (From January) If it is not too long, could you print a copy of the oath the president takes when he is installed into the office of president of the United States?

WHY I LIKE THIS QUESTION: This question and answer was published almost a year to the date from when we'll swear in our new president. I like it because it's a reminder that whatever concerns we might have at this point in our country's history, the "rules" on which our country was established still stand: The U.S. Constitution. I'll be praying that God's grace gets us through whatever is ahead and that our Constitution continues to stand the tests of time. Oh, and, here's the answer to that question, the president's oath of office, from Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

A QUESTION SUBMITTED MULTIPLE TIMES: Is there an update on Eden Specialty Care and what the nursing home is going to do with its building that was damaged by the tornado?

WHY I CHOSE THIS QUESTION: I can't say I actually "like" this question, but it's an important one.

We're approaching two years (come April) since the former nursing home was damaged by a tornado and closed. It later was further damaged by arson. This fall, the city took steps to require the owner to repair or demolish the property. That hasn't happened, and now we're hearing the property soon might have a new owner.

Do you know what other property I wrote a lot about over the years (in Answer Line and as a reporter) of which this is starting to remind me? The old Holiday Inn on Estes Parkway, which was left partially demolished for years before the Longview Economic Development Corp. purchased the property and finished demolition.

The city will be able to do only so much to force someone to take care of this situation. Here's hoping this doesn't become our next Holiday Inn.

QUESTION: (From March) I was headed into town the other day and was traveling north on High Street close to where they're building the new Buckner facility ...

WHY I LIKE THIS QUESTION: Notice I didn't reprint the question because, frankly, the question isn't what's important. What is important is the investment that has taken place in recent years on High Street: the Linda and Ken Hall Buckner Family Hope Center and the Mac and Tom Stone Buckner Family Pathways facility; construction of a beautiful, large new gas station nearby; renovation of the building where the Tuscan Pig restaurant is located. This is starting to feel like momentum.

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

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