Sunday, February 18, 2018

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

Jan. 25, 2018 at 11:46 p.m.

GUSHER: For another decline in the Longview-area unemployment rate, which has been falling since last year as the energy industry picks up steam in our area and across the nation. It is good news the percentages have been falling, but even more gratifying to realize each point shaved off the rate means more workers back on the job and more families with a brighter future.

DUSTER: For declining availability in rural Texas of maternity services. It's a trend that has been evidenced in East Texas by the announced cessation of such services at Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center-Marshall. To blame is a combination of declining birth rates and reimbursements, particularly from Medicaid.

GUSHER: For two Texas cities, Austin and Dallas, making it to the short list of cities still in the running as possible sites for the planned second headquarters of Amazon. They were among several others in our state that took a shot to lure the company, which plans to invest $5 billion in its new headquarters and create "as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs" in the city it picks.

DUSTER: For the apparently deepening crisis at Elderville Water Supply. To concerns about mismanagement and possible malfeasance, patrons of the water supply now are contending with low or no water pressure. Because the company's management has been removed suspended, there is nowhere for customers to turn.

GUSHER: For Gregg County dodging severe weather that did significant property damage to the north of us. In Wood, Franklin and Bowie counties, tornadoes damaged about two dozen homes. GUSHER, too, for the fact no one was hurt in that outbreak despite the property damage.

GUSHER: For the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that is being offered again this year by the Greater Longview United Way. The free service is available through tax day thanks to the assistance offered by volunteer tax preparers and support of the United Way. It helps several hundred people file their taxes each year.

DUSTER: For drought and abnormal dryness gripping large swaths of Texas. Though East Texas has been under moderate drought conditions for many weeks, recent rains improved conditions slightly. Still, more than 40 percent of the state is in a moderate to severe drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That's a huge turnaround in parts of the state that were literally under water after Hurricane Harvey — and the state climatologist says climate change is driving the extreme swings.

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



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