Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Gushers & Dusters: A weekly look at what we liked -- and didn't

Dec. 22, 2017 at 12:04 a.m.

GUSHER: For the area hot air balloonists who have made a tradition of helping light up Longview's Christmas each year. After delighting crowds early this month at the Longview Ambucs Christmas Parade with a float carrying gondolas whose burners were being fired, a Christmas balloon glow last week drew about 800 people. Celebrating with the glow is fitting in Longview. Not only do the balloons evoke Christmas ornaments as they are illuminated by their burners, but the practice of glows also originated right here in Longview.

DUSTER: For declines in donations to the Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle campaign in Longview. As of last week, the drive was well short both of its goal and of last year's results. It appears the declines are due to a combination of challenges, so we hope the Salvation Army is addressing those issues before next year's campaign. And we hope last week's news story about the shortfall helped it make up some ground.

GUSHER: For AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co. for making a $15,000 donation to the East Texas Literacy Council. The funds will help the council, which is housed downtown at News-Journal Plaza, expand its programs to younger students. That will be beneficial not just to them, but to area employers needing better educated workers.

GUSHER: For Jay Davis, the retired accountant whose volunteer work the past few years with the Daingerfield High School chess team has grown the program from a handful of students to several hundred. His work is as much about quality as quantity, though, with one team winning a second place this season and team members placing first and second individually. Checkmate!

DUSTER: For this year's apparently vaccine-proof strains of influenza, which are taking a big toll on schools and workplaces — and hitting hard earlier than usual. Medical professionals say it's not too late to receive the vaccine — of which a good supply is on hand in Longview — and it remains a smart move for those hoping to avoid the bug.

GUSHER: For Wellness Pointe and Special Health Resources of East Texas, which have been chosen among seven health care providers statewide as part of a pilot program to help reduce teen pregnancy rates and get more adolescents into primary care. Higher-than-average teen pregnancy rates remain a troubling reality in our region, and we hope the program finds success.

GUSHER: For a great football season for the Longview Lobos. Though it ended earlier than any of us would have preferred, the Lobos have great reason for pride in what they accomplished with a season that took them within a whisker of a state finals games. Even better, many key players will return next fall, so Texas 6A teams are on notice!

— Readers are invited to nominate events as gushers or dusters. They may be emailed to lnjletters@news-journal.com or mailed to Letters, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.



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