Tag Archives: North Texas

Population sign already obsolete

Whenever they get around to posting these signs at the Princeton city limits, the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will have to consider replacing them with fresh signs … and numbers.

The 2020 Census puts Princeton’s population at 17,027 residents; the 2010 Census had our once-sleepy little town at 6,807 individuals. The increase has nearly tripled between those two Census periods. 

However, the 17,027 figure already is old news. I can tell you that without a doubt there are many more people living in Princeton at this moment than there were when they stopped counting for the most recent Census.

If I were in charge of keeping track of that number, I would go dizzy trying to catch up with the rapid growth that is occurring along our stretch of U.S. 380 in Collin County, Texas.

I’m just sayin’, man.

For sure, our city is far from alone in this exercise in frustration. McKinney is exploding, as is Plano, Wylie, Farmersville, Frisco, Allen, Anna, Prosper, Melissa and many other North Texas communities. 

When you see the 17,027-resident figure whenever they post the next signs at the edges of our city, just know that the number doesn’t mean a thing. The real number of residents no doubt is far greater.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Prepared for worst …

My bride and I live by the credo that whenever we prepare for the worst the worst hardly ever arrives.

Thus, when the weather forecasters told us today that the latest round of North Texas spring storms could bring hail stones the size of golf balls or (gulp!) baseballs, we prepared for the arrival of the monstrous storm.

We moved our big ol’ pickup — Big Jake — into our garage. Jake’s rear end stuck out about a foot, given that it’s too big to fit completely into our garage. We covered the exposed portion with two layers of plastic. The wind was howling. We had a bit of rain.

The hail stones? Hah! They never arrived!

Is that an omen? Maybe it is. We won’t take anything for granted as we push our way through the spring, which in North Texas provides a weather-related surprise seemingly every day. It reminds us a bit of the Panhandle, where we lived for more than 20 years before we relocated to the Dallas ‘burbs.

So, we’ll trudge on preparing for the worst whenever the weathermen and women tell us to be alert to Mother Nature’s wrath.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Rainbows shine a light of peace

First, an admission: I didn’t take this picture; it showed up on my Facebook feed and I grabbed it to post here.

Someone who lives in my neighborhood snapped it. However, I just want to offer a brief comment on it.

The rainbow came after two hailstorm bursts that pounded our North Texas subdivision. The rain is moving east. It caused a bit of uproar around here. Hailstones the size of medium-sized marbles forced a few of us to move our vehicles indoors; we moved our pickup (most of the way) into our garage.

However, the rainbow after the storm just seemed so refreshing and hopeful to my eyes, given all the distress that bombards us these days.

I just had to share this and hope we can some more hopeful signs of light and peace.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Moving day at City Hall

Princeton City Hall is about to pack up and move to a new location down the road a bit.

It figures to be a proverbial cakewalk, according to City Manager Derek Borg, who once told me he has been through this already and, thus, he expects a relatively smooth transition from the cramped quarters that City Hall occupies into a vastly more spacious and modern complex east along U.S. Highway 380.

Moving day actually will occur over the span of two days, Jan. 27 and 28, city officials announced recently. There will be a grand opening set for March 11. Mayor Brianna Chacon wants to have it during students’ spring break to ensure that residents can be available to attend and relish what the city will unveil to the public.

It’s a huge deal.

The city spent $20 million to build the municipal complex on donated land on the north side of the highway. It’s a fabulous array of office space, comprising about eight times the space the city now uses. Borg told me the new complex will bring virtually all municipal government departments under one roof.

The complex will feature plenty of glass, lots of windows as a symbolic statement of the “transparency” the city hopes to convey to the public. Future plans call for plenty of green space, retail space and an entertainment venue for residents to enjoy, according to the city manager.

But … first things first.

I don’t think Derek Borg is predicting a hiccup-free move. However, he will take on whatever challenges arise with joyful determination that once everyone settles in, they will be able to provide top-flight municipal service to the residents who are footing the bill.

Good luck to you all.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Puppy Tales, Part 88: Brave and skittish

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Toby the Puppy has a remarkable memory.

He once was fearless. Nothing seemed to bother him when he joined our family in early September 2014. Then we went to a Fourth of July celebration in the summer of 2019. He heard fireworks exploding and, shall we say, became frightened by its sound.

Toby the Puppy hasn’t been the same ever since.

It is stormy tonight in North Texas. The sky is lighting up. The thunder is loud. My wife and I enjoy the sound. Not our beloved puppy.

The sounds that never used to make him flinch, now send him scurrying for cover.

Bear in mind that this is the same pooch who acts tough in the presence of much larger doggie beasts. He acts — and sounds with his big, throaty bark — like the meanest Rottweiler you’ll ever hear.

However, he isn’t mean. Not at all. He is gentle and let’s not forget that he weighs about 13 pounds.

Not even a Rottweiler could overpower the sounds we’re hearing tonight. So, our puppy is in good company.

If only we could persuade him that the thunder and lightning won’t hurt him. Or us.

Partisan bickering could cost more lives

Oh, my goodness. The partisan bickering is filtering from Austin to county courthouses throughout Texas.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is issuing warnings to Democratic mayors and county judges to back off their local coronavirus pandemic mandates because, Paxton says, they do not conform with what Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has declared.

This is rich, man.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, one of those Democrats, has emerged as a champion in my eyes as he seeks to battle the viral infection outbreak in North Texas. Oh, I need to mention that my wife, one of our sons and his family and I reside in next-door Collin County.

Jenkins has ordered that everyone “shall” wear masks when they do business; Abbott’s order doesn’t require the wearing of masks. Thus, Paxton said that Jenkins and other get-tough local officials are overstepping their authority.

C’mon, Mr. AG. The judge is seeking to save Texans’ lives!

It’s all part of what looks like a deepening and widening of the partisan divide in Washington as Democrats and Republicans squabble over how to fight this pandemic. This won’t surprise you, but I do believe Democrats are on the correct side in that D.C. fight, with Donald Trump continuing to muddle his messages and continuing to pick fights with Democratic governors needlessly.

It’s now happening in Austin, where Republican state officials are haggling with Democratic local officials over which of them is taking the correct course. GOP officials want to reopen the economy more rapidly than their Democratic colleagues. Why are Democrats dragging their feet? Let’s see. Oh, they fear that a too-rapid reopening puts Texans’ lives in danger!

Hey, that concern is good enough for me.

So, with that, allow me this rejoinder: Mr. Texas Attorney General … back off!

Sounds of spring are upon us!

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

I get that it ain’t spring … just yet!

We’ve got another three weeks or so until the vernal equinox arrives, but in North Texas I am hearing the sounds of spring already.

They are?

Well, let’s see. We have birds chirping at dawn. That’s a sure sign that winter is giving way to spring.

Then there’s the sound of lawn mowers cranking up. Some of them are sputtering a bit as they get going in our Princeton neighborhood. I root for them to get going. Accordingly we hear the sound of weed whackers and the occasional child squealing as he or she speeds by on a bicycle.

This clearly is my favorite season of the year, which I have declared already on this blog. I think I’ve said it more than once, so pardon me for repeating myself. It’s the time of year when we awaken from winter slumber and the grumbling about the cold.

Our grass grows dormant. Then it — pardon the pun — springs to life.

With all the other baloney, malarkey, crapola, nonsense going on this crazy world, I just want to welcome the onset of my favorite time of the year. If only it could overshadow what awaits.

For now, I am going to enjoy the day.

Happy Trails, Part 161: Meeting the neighbors

I am living, breathing, talking proof that rear-entry driveways have helped damage neighborly relations among folks.

How do I know this? We sold our house in Amarillo more than a year ago after living in it for more than two decades. We had it built from the ground up. It had a rear-entry garage that allowed us to drive our vehicle from an alley that ran along the rear of our homes.

We had infrequent exchanges with our neighbors. Why? We hardly ever saw them.

It’s different these days. Our retirement journey has taken us to Princeton. Our new home has a driveway that faces onto the street.

Here’s the benefit we have accrued from this new arrangement: We have gotten acquainted early with several our neighbors on our side of the street and also across the street.

My wife and I know the names of folks living in two residences across the street; we know the names of both our next-door neighbors, as well as the neighbors two and three doors to our east.

I have concluded that with front-entry driveways we have returned to a more neighborly environment than what we experienced for 22 years living in our Amarillo home.

It’s not that our neighbors in Princeton are friendlier than they were in Amarillo. Indeed, we became good friends with several of the families living on our street in Amarillo. It took some time, given the rear-entry garages that prevented a lot of regular face-to-face interaction with them.

Make no mistake that Panhandle residents pride themselves on their friendliness, their sense of community. We would hear about it regularly as we went through our day over many years.

Now, though, our daily routine as we go about our day in the home with our front-entry driveway includes a lot more frequent interaction with our neighbors along our street.

It’s nice to know the folks with whom we share this neighborhood.

Casting my gaze over my shoulder

I love my life in my new home. There’s much to explore about Collin County, the rest of North Texas, the Metroplex. The growth all around our home is astonishing.

However, I remain committed to casting my gaze backward, perhaps for beyond the foreseeable future. I know that might seem counterintuitive, looking backward as we move forward.

However, the community my wife and I departed in 2018 has some issues that are boiling. Two of them stand out:

  • Downtown Amarillo is moving into a new existence, with a new energy and a new purpose. I want to keep my eye on how that progresses. I have high hope that the city’s future is looking brighter week by week.
  • The Amarillo Independent School District is facing some potentially critical policy debates over the short and perhaps the medium terms. The board of trustees is suffering a lack of community confidence. It has fumbled — in my view — in its handling of the resignation of a high school girls volleyball coach and the alleged misconduct by one of the elected trustees.

I am in touch with Amarillo ISD residents who are intent on getting to the bottom of matters. I intend to stay in touch with them and I intend to keep talking about those issues on this blog. I want the Amarillo ISD to resolve these problems constructively and permanently.

But I have to tell you that based on what I am hearing, there well might be some more AISD issues to tackle than what I’ve laid out with this brief blog post.

I also intend to get more involved with the community where my wife and I — along with our precious puppy, Toby — have settled. Princeton is a community on the move. My still-developing relationship with KETR-FM public radio will allow me a chance to get more deeply acquainted with the individuals and groups who are calling the shots in Collin County and throughout KETR’s listening area.

So . . . retirement has brought some new challenges my way. They involve getting involved with our new surroundings.

And keeping tabs on the community we recently departed, but did not leave behind.

Learning my way through North Texas

My new gig as a blogger for a public radio station has set me on a course to learn more intimately about Collin County and much of the rest of North Texas, where my wife and I now call home.

KETR-FM, based at Texas A&M University-Commerce, has given me a chance to write for its website. I’ve submitted three posts already. More will be on the way.

The next one is going to bring a challenge or two.

Mark Haslett, news director at KETR-FM, has given me an idea to examine. It’ll be about traffic, road construction and what in the world is happening along U.S. 380, the highway that cuts through several North Texas counties. Indeed, it runs about a half-mile north of where my wife and I live.

The highway is undergoing major work at this moment, and likely for past the foreseeable future. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is the lead public agency with responsibility for all that road work.

I’ve put in a phone call. I am awaiting a call back from NCTCOG’s media relations fellow. I am confident it will come soon.

Why is this a big deal? I’ve written before how much I learned about all the communities where I lived and work. Whether it was in Clackamas County, Ore., or in the Golden Triangle of Texas or in the Texas Panhandle, I took away a good bit of local knowledge from each place.

I now intend to launch my learning curve in North Texas.

My new “career” as a blogger continues to bring rewards. They’re difficult to quantify. The knowledge I will gain about my new home still will be of considerable value.