GUEST POST by Kevin Hamilton – Why we are here, what we do

This week, I felt it was important to run a guest post by my co-worker at the Iowa Park Leader, a weekly newspaper. I have a passion for free press as much as I have a passion for laughter.  However,  I feel as deeply about this topic as Kevin, but I leave to brilliantly echo my thoughts about it.

If you need a little comic relief, though, I wrote a little thing about being who you are.

by Kevin Hamilton, managing editor of the Iowa Park Leader

I, like many in Iowa Park, were extremely proud of the Hawk baseball team’s run through the Class 4A state playoffs.

These guys … a mixture of seniors, juniors and sophomores, fought through half a dozen elimination games and made it all the way to the region finals, where they finally lost to a stout and talented Godley Wildcat team, only one step from the big games in Austin.

As the Hawks moved through the playoffs, some best-of-three series (including against Bushland and Godley) started on a Wednesday, which presented a problem with our paper, since we go to press on Wednesdays with a Thursday publication date.

We had never … up at that point … really utilized our presence on Facebook, but this became a vehicle where we could inform our readers in a timely fashion, and keep them up to date on how each series was progressing.

So we posted game schedules, results, and a picture here and there.

The response was fantastic, for the most part. We had more likes and shares than at any other time in making Facebook posts.

But we also had one or two posts that were meant to spank us for missing out on other things happening that are important in the community.

“I’m so over the media bias. Don’t think that it only happens in the mainstream media. Nope! Happens right here in small-town USA where sports rule all,” wrote a person in one post. Another added a comment to that post “You have to remember that boys sports are going to be mainstream. If you excel in UIL for anything musical or knowledge (ie. Number sense or narrative reading) you may get a tiny blurb. It really shows when the girls volleyball or even girls in general are on the last or second to last page where the football get a whole 2 pages (toward the middle) but it’s still major attention.”

The first person posting was referring to the fact nine IPHS students made it to the state contest in Solo/Ensemble competition in band and choir.

And the person making the post was not happy that we weren’t making as big a deal on their endeavors as we were making for the Hawk baseball team.

With all that, I want to make a few observations.

1) The Leader has never up to this point promoted anything on Facebook, because that is something new to us … and with the Hawks and the timing of their playoff schedule, we felt it was a good time to “experiment” with postings that would not only inform the public, but point them eventually to our business, which is a community newspaper.

2) We (the Leader) has always promoted the academic/musical/choral/robotics progress at Iowa Park High School. Even this year, we ran stories and pictures of students advancing through the regional/area rounds all the way to state. We’ve reported academic excellence through regular honor rolls and competitions (SkillsUSA, FFA CDE and LDE competitions) and the annual awards assemblies, which included not only honors, but scholarships each individual senior obtained. No one on the planet Earth has reported more on the tradition of the Hawk Band. Trust me.

3) When I came back to Iowa Park and the Leader more than a dozen years ago, there was traditionally a two-page spread each week for Hawk Football … and I added a two-page spread each week for Lady Hawk volleyball to give girls athletics equal exposure.

And trust me on this … if advertisers were game, we would have continued those spreads throughout the school year for all the other sports, for boys and girls.

The Iowa Park Leader has reported and continues to report this community best we can. Of course we will fall short of that in the eyes of some, but that is the nature of the beast.

Moving forward we will look for ways to utilize social media where we can A) better inform our readers of timely and important events, and B) hope you continue to support our efforts by subscribing to the paper, or buying the issues at the news stands.

That is the only way this paper will be able to survive. We hope you continue to make it possible.

On a final note, if you see we are missing out on covering something newsworthy in the community, you can reach me at 592-4431, or email me at

It is why I am here.

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Look for the helpers

With all eyes seemingly on the coast of Texas and Louisiana, I have been no different, keeping close watch on several good friends from high school who now live in Houston or the greater Houston area.

The historic hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday in Corpus Christi, and the result since has been record-breaking rainfall on United States soil, most of it in Houston and the surrounding areas.

News and social media coverage has made it much easier to get accurate news, and check on friends and family. Luckily, most of those I know have escaped injury and a significant loss of property.

Some have even been able (and more importantly, willing) to leave their homes and neighborhoods and help others deal with their losses.

We got word at the newspaper yesterday that several residents from Iowa Park left for the coast to aid in the rescue efforts. Some were sent with their jobs, and some went as private citizens and took boats with them. One of our locally-owned gas stations donated the fuel for the trip.

A locally-owned pizza restaurant, Ken’s Pizza, raised in one day $7,100 for the Red Cross to aid victims. Even more have begun collecting necessary items to truck south.

At tragic times like this it is important to look for the helpers, because it is far too easy to find the problems. There is still more good than bad, my friends.

One of my friends who lives in Port Arthur used humor to make it through the worst days, sending me a picture taken in her back yard of a croc … Seriously, a shoe – that Croc – that had ended up in her back yard,  and said, “some people might not find this funny, but …”

Finding a bright spot, something to smile inside about, in tragic times is a healthy coping mechanism, I think.

And because it is my lifelong vocation and passion, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the local media who are covering their respective communities, many of whom I’ve known most of my life.

Not only have several had significant personal and business losses, but they are also charged with accurately covering the damage as it is occurring. And they are doing it in many cases with no electricity and with their staff scattered all over the state, helping remotely. Their own homes will have to wait, but the newspaper will be printed for the good of the community.

With national rhetoric as of late tearing down this honorable profession, it’s important I think to cast a light on the importance of what they are doing.

It’s important to send prayers and love and thoughts to these people on the Texas coast, but if you can, send more.

Many reputable news organizations are publishing lists of what is needed by the victims – and what is not needed – with organizations all over Texas taking donations and getting them to the proper place. Check that out and do what you can, even if it is only $10, a box of diapers or some feminine hygiene products.

And to my friends and family who live there, or who have travelled there to help out, stay safe and keep making sure that love bats last. Your spirit is healing in many ways.

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To all the dads I love

Father’s Day hasn’t been celebrated the same for me since 2008, when my own Dad died.

Now, instead of buying him something he really didn’t need or want, but would graciously smile at and thank me for anyway, I reflect on the 42 years I had him.

I think he would think that was an even better gift, and no returns are necessary.

It’s a paradigm shift to go from celebrating to reflecting, and while it’s not my preferred way to spend Father’s Day it is an unwavering fact of life.

In this reflection, I’ve learned to appreciate what he brought to the table more than I did before, both literally and figuratively.

To honor my father, I now celebrate a couple of special men in my life whom I revere and are also fathers – my husband and son-in-law.

I spent the past week in South Carolina with my daughter, her husband and son and got to witness first-hand what modern parenting looks like in their natural habitat.

My heart is happy to report that my son-in-law, Branden, is everything I could ever ask for as a husband for my daughter and a loving, patient Dad for the little man he and my daughter brought into this world.

His unabashed love for his son, his patience, willingness to be an all-hands-on-deck kind of man are the kinds of things worth acknowledging and celebrating.

As a mother and grandmother, the blessing of him in our lives is a gift in itself.

Then, there’s my husband. Like many families are now constructed, Bobby is not the biological father of my two children. But it would be difficult to tell that from looking.

I am one of the luckiest people I know to have a husband who takes my kids as an extension of myself and loves them fiercely, and genuinely.

My Dad would be proud, he would smile and consider it his gift, too.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads – biological and step, granddads and special uncles. Celebrate those who are still here, doing their work to love the next generation; and reflect on those who made us who we are.

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Some sweet puppies in Iowa Park need your help

Quick Note: Apparently, this is the year of the dog. The following is a column I penned that ran this week in the newspaper I work for, the Iowa Park Leader, asking for donations to our animal reclaim center after close to 50 animals that were neglected  were seized by the city. Most were Italian Greyhounds, but there were Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Dachshunds, as well as other lost and abandoned animals that were already being held looking for new homes. This created an unexpected and huge need for supplies to care for the animals. Read on, and if you can, donations are being accepted. Also, I’m going to ask to you share this one . . . Thanks to my readers throughout the world – y’all are the best!

italian greyhound

Last week, Iowa Park experienced a situation that isn’t often experienced, and one I hope is never repeated.

The city took custody of close to 50 dogs, most suspected to be neglected and part of a working puppy mill here.

The purpose of this column is to give credit to our city and citizens in times like this, and to underscore a need that still exists to take care of these animals.

Our city of 6,400 has been working to expand our animal control reclaim center for a while now, and has asked Iowa Park’s 4B for funds to help with that expansion. The 4B committee has generously agreed to help, and plans are in the works for that new facility.

Still, when the city took custody of the dogs over the last week, our animal reclaim center did not have adequate facilities to house them, and were not prepared.

These are the times Iowa Park shines.

By the first evening when 34 of those dogs had been seized, dozens of volunteers had come to help build a safe shelter for these dogs, some of whom city officials don’t believe had seen daylight or felt grass on their paws in their lives. People also donated hundreds of pounds of dog food, blankets and dog houses, as well as giving the little guys baths.

I also know many people who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the animal reclaim center to insure a safe and healthy environment for these dogs, and all animals without homes in Iowa Park.

I have personally seen people donate food, collars, blankets and other needed items to the local animal reclaim center because they do their best to get animals back to their original owners or into new homes before they have to be euthanized.

With that said, the city has specific needs in regards to adequarely caring for these dogs, and they include specific items, gifts cards, cash donations and volunteer help.

They will continue to need blankets, towels, cedar chip bedding, dog food (both hard and soft), dry soft puppy chow for the weaning puppies, dog toys, a metal trash can with a lid, spray nozzle, and gift cards to PetSmart, Petco or Atwoods.

Any donations may be dropped off at the Iowa Park Police Department, or be mailed to P.O. Box 190, Iowa Park, Texas 76367.

Volunteers are still needed, mostly in the morning. Anyone wishing to volunteer to help with the dogs should contact the Iowa Park Police Department, 592-2181, to sign up.

While the city has been overwhelmed and appreciative of the interest in the welfare of these dogs, the animal reclaim center has been closed to the public and only authorized personel will be permitted on site, so it is imperitive that those wishing to volunteer call.

Since 34 of the 50 dogs received last week remain part of ongoing judicial proceedings, they may not be adopted out yet. However, there are several dogs available for adoption. Anyone wishing to adopt may submit an adoption application at the Iowa Park Police Department.

Many of you reading this may not know that this community came together 45 years ago and built Hawk stadium, all with donations and volunteer labor. And I’ve seen it dozens of times since then, when there is a need.

It’s what our community does. It is at the heart of what makes this community so special.

Many thanks to the people in Iowa Park for your willingness to help those in our community who don’t have a voice.

You are all helping to turn  something bad into something good.

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Showing Some Love

I told you guys last week that it was homecoming week in Iowa Park, Texas. For those of you not from Small Town, Texas, USA, football season here is like a recognized 11+ week holiday.

And people gripe about the length of Christmas season.

Also, I work at our local weekly newspaper where I am advertising director, columnist and a damn fine trash taker-outer. My occupation alone makes homecoming week a lot like a root canal you get once a year, only I dread homecoming more and the aftermath is more catastrophic.

I am tired.

I am so tired, I haven’t felt funny in days except when I read a couple of my favorite writers, and a new favorite. Which is why we’re here today. I want to spread the love to a few of my favorite writers, so maybe you’ll have a few new favorites.

Stephanie Posey – Steph On The Rocks

The first is a great friend of mine from right here in Iowa Park, Texas. Stephanie Posey now lives in Alabama, and among other things is the biggest Alabama football fan I’ve ever met (Roll Damn Tide!), not that I’ve met many. But still.  She is also hysterically funny and occasionally foul-mouthed. I love her for all of those things.


Stephanie started blogging this year at Steph On The Rocks. The post I’m linking to is one about her family’s absolute love for and dedication to doing Halloween right, and chronicles the last few years of getting just the right costumes – with pictures! This one is the first of a five-part series until – finally – she unveils what the family is doing this year. So follow her….I myself am giddy with anticipation to see what they’ll be wearing this year. It beats the hell out of the red carpet.

Gina Barreca 


Next is Gina Barreca, who has so many descriptors I don’t know where to start.

I count Gina among my friends (luckily), unknowing mentors and champions. I was lucky enough to meet her in Dayton, Ohio in 2012 when she was a keynote speaker at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. I fell in love with Gina as much as a straight woman can fall for another straight woman. I met up with her again this year at the workshop, which confirmed that my lady-love had not been misspent. She is funny, smart and a champion for women.

The picture below is Gina and I late one afternoon this year in Dayton after a cocktail or two and many laughs, and before more cocktails and laughs. In fact, not long after this was taken, I peed myself laughing and another woman at the table threw up in the bushes from laughing too hard. Apparently, you gotta get that stuff out of your system.


Gina a columnist at Hartford Courant, a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Psychology Today and her work is distributed to newspapers all over the US; she is a member of the Friar’s Club (you read that right); a professor of English literature and feminist theory at UCONN;  and has a TedX talk under her stunning belt. She is also the author of several books, a few of which are It’s Not That I’m Bitter, They Used to Call Me Snow White but I Drifted, Babes in Boyland and I’m with Stupid. There are so many more you can find at her website,

The piece I’m sharing from Gina is entitled Get Away: Vacations Take You to Other Parts of Yourself. I read this about the time I was wanting to escape from this place and homecoming, so it was very timely for me. When you’re done, read everything you can find by her – she’s that good. I’m about a third of the way through It’s Not That I’m Bitter, and let’s just say I have seriously considered investing in some Depends Undergarments for my reading time.

Glennon Doyle Melton – Momastery  


I have to say this before I go any further: I am not a regular reader of what is called “mommy blogs,” and I think that’s what this is, technically.

There, I said it. For one, I am not so much a mommy anymore as an adult contemporary to my grown son and daughter, so I haven’t needed to know how to cut up a PB&J  sandwich into a star-shape since Bill Clinton was president. But mostly, the mommy blogs I’ve read border on precious, and I am not a fan of precious. It’s disingenuous, and I’ve always been a fan of the Erma Bombeck school of mothering, which is a mixture of laughter and exhaustion.

Still, I stumbled upon a blog post on Momastery that I think everyone should read, mostly because the author, Glennon Doyle Melton, is obviously amazing. And, if I still had little ones, I would bookmark the crap out of this site.

Glennon Melton is funny, a very good writer and doesn’t appear to try and be something she’s not. In fact, I loved this post because she  included a picture of herself first thing in the morning right next to a professional shot, and it stole my heart.

In addition to her blog, she is an author with her book Carry On, Warrior named a finalist for “Best Memoir of 2013” and “Best Relationship Book” of the year. She also has done Ted Talks (I’m kind of addicted to those on YouTube) and runs a non-profit organization to help families in need.

Enjoy these…I do. And if you love them, spread the love on Facebook,  Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ – where ever you’re connected to others. I think everyone needs to read what these women are thinking about.

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