Mason County News
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010 • Posted April 21, 2010

Annie Oakley Would Be Proud… (Last week's column)

Their shots weren’t heard around the world. But, in the annals of intercollegiate rifle competition, the all-female team at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth won the whole "shebang" last month in the NCAA’s co-ed rifle competition.

Winning this year was improbable, what with three freshmen on the team. (The other two members are seniors.)

Annie Oakley would be proud, what with TCU’s riflery and "hossback" proficiency. (The TCU equestrian team won the national intercollegiate title in 2008, but this is not yet an NCAA sport.)…

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Should community leaders decide to again trot out the "Where the West Begins" slogan for Fort Worth, these teams could be in the spotlight.

For readers wondering when TCU men’s teams won national titles, the answer is football: 1938.

(Actually, there’s been one other TCU national championship. It was carded by the women’s golf team in 1983.)…

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The rifle competition this year was expected to favor two other institutions. After all, defending champion West Virginia University has won 14 national championships, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks has won 10, including nine in this century.

Military loyalists may wonder about West Point and the Naval Academy in the eight-team field. Those teams won fifth and eighth, respectively.

It may take weeks for the victorious Horned Frogs to get their "eyes unsquinted" and the smiles off their faces. In the 31-year history of the event, this is the first-ever championship won by an all-female team….

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There’s more good news in the world that meets the eye, though too many headlines suggest otherwise.

A good example is an ever-widening emphasis on projects to help fund cancer research.

Starting four years ago on Holland American Lines, "deck walks for the cure" were introduced on selected cruises. Now, all 15 HAL vessels feature walks that have netted almost $2 million for the Susan G. Komen Foundation funding of cancer research.

Pink-trimmed t-shirts and bracelets adorning guests throughout the ships are testimonies to strong support of cancer research….

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On the subject of cruising, Fort Lauderdale, FL, residents have good news. The community boasts 33,000 hotel rooms and has invested mega-millions in the Port Everglades cruise port and area tourist attractions.

Citizens "love to live there" and tell others that they "love to live there."

Little wonder but that within a year, this will be the world’s number one cruise port.….

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One who’d be hard to dislodge from his Florida digs is concierge James Lesnick.

He’s spent the past 32 years with hotels in New York City, Las Vegas, Paris and Fort Lauderdale. James also has been on the eye-rolling end of wacky phone requests.

Countless experiences are worth recounting, but in the interest of space, I offer hem-of-the-garment treatment….

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Zsa Zsa Gabor’s appeal for help is a good place to start. She was befuddled by the coffee maker.

James went to her suite, patiently explaining the step-by-step process.

"Oh, so I must pour the water through the top," she squealed….

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The concierge has scars to show for his work.

Once he suffered an arm triple-fracture in a canned heat explosion, and he may still have shoulder blisters caused by Ann Margaret. He remembers the frantic call vividly, one of many complaints fielded during a late-afternoon power failure. The Broadway star was in her 52nd floor penthouse, dressed for her evening performance, high heels and all. And the elevators weren’t working.

He did, of course, what any red-blooded American male concierge would have done.

James bounded up the 52 floors, threw her over his shoulder and delivered her to the lobby, taking only a few minutes longer than a functioning elevator….

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His strangest request came not from guests, but from his boss, the general manager of a hotel in Paris, France.

The man owned a French poodle, perhaps the most coddled pet in Europe. "Fifi," or maybe it was "Phydeaux," had been trained to respond to commands in Spanish, French and Italian. Among James’ daily duties was to expand the dog’s training. (After all, if the pet could master commands voiced in English, she’d be "quad-lingual," or whatever comes next after "trilingual!") Anyways, following each "English lesson," James served the pet’s favorite foods—carefully measured servings of chopped ham, English peas and carrots.

So far, his duties with Sheraton have been considerably more conventional….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to Phone: 817-447-3872. Website:

Lines in the Sand…

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Column #364 for Release Saturday, April 17, 2010, or Later

A rare moment in Texas history was marked by a line drawn in the sand.

We Texans proudly point to the Alamo in San Antonio, where Colonel William B. Travis drew the line, and brave, out-numbered comrades rallied behind him.

Now, 164 years later—in the same city—members of the Board of Trustees of Trinity University have the opportunity to draw yet another line to uphold the university’s heritage and Christian principles.

The Board will consider a petition requesting that the words "our Lord" be omitted from Trinity diplomas. Members will have numbers on their side, since only 185 students and faculty members have signed the petition. This figure represents slightly more than 5% of students and faculty at Trinity, which was founded by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1869….

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The teapot tempest started a few weeks ago when Sidra Qureshi, president of a student organization called "The Diversity Connection" proposed striking the two words from diplomas. She trotted out a well-worn diversity argument. "By having the phrase ‘In the Year of our Lord,’ it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ," Qureshi said.

The petition has been endorsed both by the Association of Student Representatives and the Committee for Commencement and Convocation.

To his credit, Dr. Dennis Ahlburg, in the presidency since January and yet to be inaugurated, has expressed support for the current wording that has been acceptable to generations of students….

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Conventional wisdom suggests that the Board will respect Dr. Ahlburg’s position and the wishes of a strong majority of alumni. Hundreds of emails and phone calls suggest that most respondents feel that the current wording recognizes Trinity’s Christian heritage.

If the Board should acquiesce, such a decision would move to the top of the list where "the tail wags the dog." Detractors would be well-advised to "study up" on institutional heritage before enrolling or signing employment contracts.

At the risk of cutting too quickly to the chase, I recall the response of the late Dallas County Judge Lew Sterrett when he learned that some prisoners were critical of jail conditions. Sterrett fired back, suggesting that persons who don’t like the Dallas County Jail should commit their crimes in some other county….

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The university has borne the brunt of hurtful negative press in this ordeal. I join legions of other Christians in believing that the Board of Trustees will handle this matter with courage and dispatch. If the petition is considered early in the meeting, surely this body can get to the remaining agenda items in record time.

Institutions such as Trinity depend greatly on endowment gifts, and TU is generously endowed. It is a given that much—if not most—of its billion-dollar endowment has been provided by donors predisposed to supporting Christian higher education.

Now described as an "independent, private institution," Trinity’s relationship with the Presbyterian Church changed in 1969. Since that time, it has maintained a "covenant relationship" with the church. Any action short of dismissing the petition would be tantamount to ignoring its sacred covenant….

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The Internet is awash in commentary about the bubbling brouhaha. It is highly critical of the petition.

It would be well if persons championing this cause would consider numerous institutional efforts to insure diversity and tolerance. In the past decade, minority enrollment has grown from 1% to 9%.

A history lesson might also be helpful. Our U. S. Constitution, for example, guarantees freedoms that allow for dissent.

Upon perusing this document recently, jumping out at me were these words concerning the date of its adoption: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 1787….

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Trinity University is far stronger than its adversaries. Like the old cowboy, it has endured "far worse burrs than these under its saddle blanket."

A prediction is that it will emerge stronger, its "covenant relationship" with Presbyterians undamaged and strengthened.

During a 40-year career in higher education, I’ve dealt with a few "sticky wickets" as a trustee, university president and as institutional liaison with media. It was helpful to remember former presidential press secretary Bill Moyers’ credo: "When at all possible, tell the truth…but never lie." A goal was to keep my school "in the news and off the front page." I wish Trinity University well….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Website:

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