Monday, February 19, 2018

Answer Line: Signs on cars in parking lot violate city ordinance

Jan. 26, 2018 at 11:46 p.m.

QUESTION: I see vehicles parked in the old Kmart parking lot with advertising on them. Do they require a permit to have that signage there?

ANSWER: It's not so much an issue of the need for a permit as it is that the signs in question are not allowed under city ordinance.

City officials told me the signs on parked cars would be considered off-premise signs, and off-premise signs are not allowed in Longview.

The city's planning and zoning office planned to send someone out to look at the situation.

These kinds of complaints also can be reported through the city's online reporting system, CitySend. Find information at or call the planning and zoning office at (903) 237-1072.

Q: I work at one of the hospitals in Longview. Anyone who has been in the emergency room during the past month or so knows how bad it's been because of the flu. When is something considered an epidemic and who declares it, because it was standing room only at both major hospitals for a while there?

A: Not to alarm anyone, but, as it turns out, a flu epidemic occurs just about every year.

That's how Lara Anton, press officer for the Texas Department of State Health Services explained it to me, and she said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control declared this year's outbreak as such a few weeks back.

"In general, a flu epidemic occurs when flu activity in an area (e.g., a city, a country, or another region) is higher than normal. In the United States, a flu epidemic occurs when flu activity is higher than a CDC-defined 'baseline' value. The baseline may be the level of flu activity during months when flu viruses are not widely circulating in people (usually from mid-May to September in the United States)," according to information from the Centers for Disease Control website.

"For flu, there is a seasonal epidemic almost every year in the United States usually between October and mid-May. CDC and the medical community refer to this as the flu season. The season is marked by elevated flu activity across the nation. During the flu season, the level and timing of flu activity in specific states or counties might be different than in the country overall. Epidemics of influenza are not uncommon and can occur at any time."

Of course, the term "epidemic" might mean something different in real life than in the movies. Generally speaking, there won't be any mandated quarantines or National Guard on the streets controlling the chaos for a flu epidemic.

"The only thing really unusual about this is that 49 out of 50 states were reporting widespread flu activity at the same time," Anton said.

That's not something that had happened in the 13 years or so that flu activity has been tracked as it currently is.

"Basically the entire United States was having the same widespread flu," Anton said.

Q: A lot of attention has been given lately to people living in the U.S. illegally being deported back to their home country. How does this take place — by bus, airplane or what?

A: The answer to this question would largely be situational.

Some of the methods of return are dictated by federal law or by simple geography.

As an example, someone who arrives in the country illegally by airplane and who is stopped before actually entering the country would be sent right back where that person came from on the next return flight, according to a representative of customs and border patrol with whom I spoke.

The spokeswoman I talked to also said it's possible immigrants could be returned by bus or plane, for instance, but that could be largely determined by whether the country's borders touch the Texas state line.

— 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.



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