Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honoring the "Barron" of Cash

Tragic news from abroad: the inventor of the first cash machine has passed away.

According to BBC News, John Shepherd-Barron, 84, passed on following a short illness. Quoting BBC:

"Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea for a cash machine while in the bath. The first ATM machine was installed at a bank in London in 1967."

Perhaps it was no illness at all, but great shame that fell this great innovator. Shame at the prospect of his great inventions being stolen with reckless abandon by brazen thieves in this area.

Let us all hope and pray that police either here or in Wichita Falls stop these thieves in their tracks, and soon. Not just for the handful of people whose vehicles have been stolen and used to commit crime. Or for the store owners, managers, and employees who have to clean up the messes left behind. But also for John Shepherd-Barron, whose greatest invention is meant to be used only for good.

As we reported Wednesday night, Abilene police got a little jump on these guys after their latest attempt. We're ready for justice, gentlemen.

Do it for John.

Related Links:

Inventor of cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, dies

Chain Gang Strikes Again...Leaves Evidence Behind

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mayor, Here's Your 15 Minutes of Fame

If you see a message or tweet that "the mayor is checking out city hall for additional burglaries," you're going to check it out. Right?

I came across a tweet from an employee of First Baptist Church in Snyder today saying just that. In my head, I figured the church must have been broken into...and for some reason, the mayor of Snyder was checking to see if the same bandits broke into city hall.

Yikes....not so....

The dispatcher told us the twitter user in question was Jim Drake. Drake apparently takes part in a "game" of sorts on (this is the first I've heard of that site). On first glance, it looks like a social media version of "The Sims." Anyway, he's the mayor and his city hall is the church.

Confused? So was I!!!!

I would've kept this strange turn of event to myself, but then Drake decided to blog about it. Apparently, someone at the police station called to tell him about our message....and probably asked him to quit calling himself the mayor (and speaking in third person!).

I thought I'd share his blog post so you can see things from his side as well:

The Next One-Tank Trip

As a producer you don't get to get away from the desk much. Most of our time is spent rewriting, editing, putting stories in order, and sifting through news stories. This weekend I went out with one of our reporters, Michelle Ashworth, and our meteorologist, Kailey Franz as they shot one of their upcoming stories.

They are doing a series on 'One Tank Trips' that are fun economical ways to get away, without going to far. I thought this was a great idea for many being it is a way to see parts of Texas that many drive right past as they head out of state for a vacation destination. This trip was to Monahans Sandhills State Park, about 3 hours west of Abilene. I won't get into the details of the story, because then you wouldn't have a reason to tune in and check out what they have put together. I will say however that if you have not been to this is amazing. Tune in to see a reporter and weather person sliding down sand dunes on boards, and getting into the camping spirit.

For me it was a great opportunity to see what the reporters do when they leave the station, and the hard work they put into that minute and a half we see on the newscast. I did some assignments in college covering stories, as well as during my internship, but it is always nice to be reminded of just what everyone else you work with really puts into the finished product.

Kailey and Michelle's story on Monahans Sandhills State Park will air Tuesday May 11th....and before that you can check out their 'One Tank Trip' stories from Glen Rose and Great Wolf Lodge HERE.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brandi's Babble

The Other Side Of My Job
First off, let me tell you that I wanted to blog about the "Backyardigans." I know, I know, but hear me out! I am the mother to two wonderful children, Jackie (3) and Wyatt (9 mos) the third one in this picture is Canon (2) my nephew. When I'm not at work, I am just a mom... But what many of you may not know is that I'm also "Mom" to about 25 anchors, reporters, producers, etc. I am the KTAB/KRBC Assignments Editor, which means I answer all of your calls, take messages, and most importantly, handle the days assignments.
My days start off with a big cup of coffee and a long to-do list. I dole out assignments to all of our reporters, inform anchors and producers about what they're shows will look like, and field phone calls from viewers and from our reporters about how they're assignments are panning out. I can frequently be heard sighing "I love life," which is usually when something big has fallen through and I'm responsible for breaking the news to those who are expecting that bit of news to be in their rundowns.
Aside from my job responsibilities listed above, I am also a support to anyone who needs it. Most often, our reporters are here in Abilene, far away from home, hoping to start a long career in the news business. That being said, sometimes they need a little motherly advice or a big hug on a hard day. I remember birthdays, ask how doctors appointments went, and am always making sure everyone is ok.
I have been known to cry about their hardships, and laugh at a funny story from their day. I get great joy from my job, because when I leave the one I love most (being Jackie and Wyatt's mom,) I get to come to work to be a surrogate to those who need one.

No, I don't have pot in the trunk!

I've been pulled over before. But twice in one day??? Twice in 10 minutes?! Unheard of!

On my way to North Texas yesterday for a doctor's appointment I passed several state troopers that had pulled over big rigs on I-20. And when I say several, I mean several!

I was highly annoyed (at myself) when, in Palo Pinto County, I saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. I was fiddling with the A/C which had just decided to crap out on a 90-degree day and wasn't paying attention to my speed.

Trooper Beverage asked me to get out of my car and talk to him on the shoulder. He told me I was going 74. I get it, that's speeding, but really? 74? He asked where I was headed and then proceeded to ask me about my doctor's visit which made me very uncomfortable, because it was so personal. But he was nice. He then told me he was going to do a cursory check of my vehicle and poked around the outside for a time.

I have a little 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier, and the trooper greeted him. He then came back and asked if I was carrying any suspicious materials in my car, then rattled off a list: "Weapons, bladed, non-bladed, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, marijuana in the vehicle, cocaine, anything in the trunk, vicious animals..."

I started giggling and said, "Yes, I have a vicious animal in the car."

We laughed and he told me to be careful and let me go with a warning. I started to crumple up the warning and toss it into my little garbage bag but something told me to put it in the glove box with my insurance.

I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get pulled over is drive safely. Within just a few miles I got in the left lane to get around a few big rigs and as I came down a hill I spotted an unmarked car that looked like law enforcement. Of course I immediately slowed down, even though I wasn't really even speeding other than to pass the 18-wheelers. I watched my rear view mirror for a while, saw him enter the highway, and after a while I was certain he was following me and then saw the hidden lights start flashing.

I started laughing. Never, have I ever laughed when pulled over! I told him right away that I had just been stopped and he asked to see the warning ticket. Thank God I saved it! This trooper -- whose name escapes me but he said he's head of DPS in the Denton County headquarters -- told me I was being stopped for lingering in the left-hand lane which is reserved for passing only. Seriously?! He let me stay in the car, but did another check around the vehicle! When he asked me if I had a trunk full of marijuana I couldn't help but to dissolve into giggles.

He said they were working a drug operation along the interstate, although I don't remember exactly how he worded it. He was also a fan of my dog and asked why I didn't have him restrained. Normally I probably would have stammered out an excuse but I was still giggling at the bizarre situation I was in and just told him that Bossier wouldn't like it.

Good job, DPS! I really hope they busted some pot smugglers because they were sure putting a lot of effort into it.

On a more somber note, I spent the rest of my there-and-back trip driving so carefully and defensively, having been reminded these past two weeks about how dangerous and tragic unsafe driving can be.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rodney Holder

Officer Rodney Holder was a friend. I was a one-year veteran reporter at KTAB when Rodney entered the police academy in 1982. He was one of the young, fresh-faced kids signing up for the job of protecting and serving the community. I was assigned the story of this new academy. My first story was about the young men in the academy and specifically about a young woman who wanted to be an Abilene Police Officer. Sandy Mayberry was a pretty girl going through the rigorous training with Holder and the other hairy-legged men working to earn their commissions. I put the emphasis on the woman for that first report, partly because she was one of the first in the APD, and partly because she was prettier than they were. I had several occasions of dealing with Rodney Holder over the years of covering the police beat. Some cops don't like nosy news reporters very much. Rodney seemed to understand the importance of this job, and he was always gracious and easy to talk to. Rodney Holder seemed to like me. His easy-going smile made it easy to approach him at accident scenes and criminal investigations. I have always understood the importance of his job, and I tried to treat him with the respect he earned with the badge. He seemed happiest at parades where he and the other motorcycle cops led the procession. I knew him well enough to speak when we were both in our jeans and tee-shirts away from the job. It's always a shock when someone you know and respect dies...especially someone so genuine, gracious and committed. The jobs of police officer and a news reporter can be adversarial at times, but neither of us let that happen. I will miss him.