Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week in Review - Jan 27, 2013

I'm tired.

And feeling lazy.

And I'll be honest: I don't want to get up and iron. Or vacuum. Both of those things have to be accomplished before my head hits the pillow tonight.

So I was just sitting here thinking about the week - how busy - and how GREAT - it was.

It started last Sunday, with a baby shower for a very special friend.

I get to be there when baby Stella is born. I've never gotten to see a baby born (my own do not count) and I've always wanted to. It's on my bucket list. And the fact that this baby's mama is very special to me makes it all the better. I can't wait! I'm so excited. I've offered to take all the middle of the night feedings. Oh wait...

 I took Monday off. The boys had the day off of school *AND* it was Curt's birthday. WIN/WIN. We didn't do a whole lot (my idea of going to Tyler State Park to hike the bike trails and grill a picnic lunch was immediately shot down after the Birthday Boy received a certain electronic he was blown away by) but we still had a great day. Where, oh where, did 11 years go?

Then we got our new couch for the freshly dubbed "Family Room." I love that they call it that. It's where we go after dinner to read (and use electronics). But point being, we all pile onto the couch. Together.

One of these kids didn't want their picture taken.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed in the usual flurry of work deadlines, a few extra special sections and karate.

On Thursday, the school nurse called, just as I'd gotten settled into my desk, some 24 miles away from school.

Thank you to the Brookshire's pharmacist who suggested the allergy meds on Day 2 of the Crud. We didn't even need the cough medicine, which I'm leery of to begin with. Curt is feeling much, much, MUCH better and he doesn't sound like we need to check him into the first sanitorium we encounter.

Saturday was GIRL POWER. Our second event of the year, Girl Power promotes positive self-esteem, a healthy lifestyle, leadership and volunteerism among 6th grade girls in Smith County. Let me just tell you: 6th grade girls squeal. A. LOT. But I'm glad they had plenty to squeal about. Kids in the Kitchen facilitated the morning's festivities. The girls talked about topics from exercise to puberty to acne and nutrition, made healthy snacks, did zumba and yoga and squealed. A. LOT. The highlight of the event is always The Meg Show. Thank God for women like Meghan Goade, the middle school girls' minister at Green Acres Baptist Church. The girls. LOVE. HER. Hey girl. 

At the end of the rainy day, it was good to come home to the boys, some homemade chicken noodle soup (I was determined to kick the crud's butt and I won!) and the Family Room.

It was a most excellent, and exhausting, week.


Monday, January 21, 2013


January 21, 2002

8:31 p.m.

7 pounds 15 ounces

Infinite love.

Happy birthday, Curt T.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

'No Good Deed Goes Unpunished' - A News Story Deconstructed

I wanted to run "WE WERE DUPED" jam capped in a 72-point headline.

Because Charlie Boothe has made me angry.

Not only because he lied to us for his own pathetic gain, but because he put me, and all my co-workers, in danger. When he gets out of jail, he'll probably do it again somewhere else.

And I'm angry that I felt BAD for calling the police on this pathetic excuse for an individual, hoping he'd get to sleep off his stinking, ranting, threatening drunk in the Jacksonville jail, and if he was really lucky, get a psych eval and a three-day stay in Behavioral Health in Tyler. The JPD explained that because he was not a danger to himself, he didn't qualify for a psych eval, but he'd be released from jail the next morning, when he was sober.

BUT THEN they found out about his violent past. And arrests for violent crimes in at least six other states.

We did our due diligence with the story. Newspapers don't typically run background checks on everyone they write about. He was known to the local Marine Corps League Det. 1381 (who were trying to help him get housing at the local Travis Towers). The certification papers for his dog were legitimate. There was no way of knowing that they didn't actually belong to this dog and the papers were stolen. And sometimes,  you just WANT TO TAKE PEOPLE AT THEIR WORD. We get lambasted regularly for running what the public perceives as "negative" news, so when a feel-good story comes along, we tend to jump on it. Not all of us are cynical and jaded, although I feel that way today (the Lance Armstrong confession isn't helping my cynicism).

I didn't write the follow up article, after Mr. Boothe's arrest. At that point, I was PART of the story, and as I'm sure you can tell from above, not fair and impartial in the least.

You see, because when he came back to our offices Friday, he only wanted to talk to me. I was called back from lunch out with a friend and I NEVER, EVER leave for lunch (so it was a special treat). And I sat out in front of the building (after he'd been kicked out of the lobby for vulgar and abusive language) listening to his lies, which included being sent to Vietnam when he was 14 years old. "I was a baby killing babies," he said, with tears streaming down his face. He said he was a platoon mate of guitarist Carlos Santana (turns out he may or may not have a second dog named Carlos Santana). He said his job in the military was highly classified. He said he had previously threatened to blow up the White House, which is why the CIA had been looking for him. Then he started talking about his love of the AK-47. This is when I texted the co-worker to call the police. But the whole time, we all felt bad for this man, who clearly, lies or not, has emotional and mental problems. We felt bad his dog was taken away again. We felt bad that somehow, somewhere, a system has let him down.

But he lied. He had a calculated plan to extract money and sympathy from the community.

And THAT makes me angry.

'Missing dog' story turns out to be hoax



What started out as a "feel-good" story about a homeless man who lost, then recovered, his service dog with the help of Jacksonville's good Samaritans last week has turned out to be a  hoax.

Charles Lee Boothe, 54, is described by Jacksonville police as a "drifter-grifter" with multiple violence-related convictions in seven states.

Authorities believe he lied to a Jacksonville Daily Progress reporter, claiming he had lost what he claimed was a “service animal.” By getting the reporter to write about the alleged incident, Boothe was hoping to receive resources and money from sympathetic area residents, police believe.

But something was very wrong with Boothe on Friday. He showed up at the offices of the newspaper, drunk and muttering conspiracy theories along with angry expletives. In the process, he troubled nearly every member of the newspaper staff.

"If he hadn't come back into our offices in the throes of a meltdown, we might not have ever known that something was wrong, very wrong, with his version of events," Editor Amy Brocato Pearson said. "I feel bad for all the people who tried to help him."

After the staff tried to talk to Boothe several times, Pearson determined that police should be called.

After Boothe was arrested on a charge of public intoxication, officers searched his belongings and found a stolen birth certificate – the theft of which is punishable as a state jail felony – and also determined paperwork Boothe showed the reporter when claiming his black-mouth cur Fuzzy as a service dog was legitimate, but actually belonged to someone else.

Police have taken Fuzzy to the city pound, where authorities will determine to whom he will be released.

Also, Jacksonville Daily Progress officials have filed a charge of criminal trespassing, a Class B Misdemeanor, against Boothe.

"It appears he is going to be in jail for awhile,"  Jacksonville Police Sgt. Jason Price said.

During the newspaper visit that led to his incarceration, Boothe disclosed that a reporter with a Tyler newspaper had upset him. But Sgt. Price said it's a fair bet Booth actually was angry because he knew he was attracting too much attention to his scam. During his ill-fated visit, Boothe claimed that the CIA could now pinpoint his location because of details disclosed in news articles, and that he was a target of the CIA because he had previously threatened to blow up the White House.

While interviewing with the Progress, Boothe claimed he was a veteran of the United States Marines – going so far as to allege he lied his way into the service at age 14. However, a Social Security number check by the Marine Corps League Det. 1381 could not locate a service record for Boothe whatsoever.

Following is the sequence of events:

• Boothe approached the paper about the allegedly missing animal on Monday;

• The first story ran on Tuesday.

• Fuzzy was found Tuesday afternoon.

• The second story ran on Wednesday.

• The final, ill-fated, visit to the newspaper took place Friday.

What is bothersome to Pearson is how many good-hearted members of the community became involved in this search. During the search for Fuzzy, the Daily Progress received numerous phone calls with Fuzzy sightings Tuesday morning. One resident apparently found Fuzzy and brought her to the Klein Animal Shelter. Another woman, who was physically unable to assist in the search, offered funding to put up 'lost dog' flyers in the area. When she learned Fuzzy was returned to Boothe, she said she would just buy dog food and drop it off near the location where Booth was living. Even on the day Fuzzy was returned, a customer who had stopped by the Jacksonville Daily Progress offices during Boothe's and Fuzzy's visit handed him a folded $20 bill.

"God bless," Boothe told her.

The "missing dog" scam is one Boothe had tried at least once before. According to information recovered by Jacksonville Police, Boothe circulated "lost dog" flyers in Palestine as well as penning a letter to the editor of the Palestine Herald Press.

In the flyers, Boothe referred to a missing service animal who answered only to "Lil Brother" or "Hey Stupid."

"Please return him," Boothe wrote in the Palestine newspaper. "I just want my baby back."

That was the exact same phrase he used with the Jacksonville paper.

The details were slightly different from the Jacksonville case, but for the most part it was the same basic scam, police believe.

Officers initially had just planned to take Boothe into custody overnight because he was drunk, but that changed after they discovered the stolen birth certificate,

Officers looked into his background and discovered his extensive criminal record, which ranges from aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas; to disorderly conduct in Florida; robbery and burglary out of California; and further charges in New Hampshire, Georgia, and Tennessee.

He had been living behind a local florist shop near Highway 79. In addition to Fuzzy, he also cared for a small black dog. That other dog's status was not immediately available Monday.

Ultimately, when Boothe gets out of jail, authorities hope he drifts on to another area.

Editor Pearson said she refuses to allow this incident to blind her to the mission of the newspaper.

"They say 'no good deed goes unpunished' and this could very well fall under that category," Pearson said. "However, just because Mr. Boothe fooled us into believing his trumped-up tale doesn't mean we still won't rally behind residents of Cherokee County who have a compelling story or who need the community's help in the future.

"As a newspaper, we did our due diligence in confirming as much of Mr. Boothe's story as we were able to at the time."

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I knew it was coming.

But no matter how much I told myself it was coming, I wasn't ready.

I had a pretty good inkling after the Great Car Line Incident of 2012. You see, Curt was too embarrassed to get out of the BACK SEAT of the car in the drop off line one morning at school. Apparently only BABIES ride in the back seat. So he refused. to. get. out. of. the. car. He was too EMBARRASSED.

Guess what is even MORE EMBARRASSING than riding in the back seat? 

When MOM gets out of the car and opens your door for you, in the drop off line at school.

Lesson learned.

Oh there were tears (because it's embarrassing to ride in the back seat of the car, but not to walk into school crying???) and I pretty much felt like mom-crap all day, but the sheer ridiculousness of his blatant refusal to get out of the car exasperated me beyond belief.

So I had a pretty good idea that embarrassment + tears = hormones and puberty.

Ack. I said the "p" word.

Fast forward to last night.

The boys were sitting on the sofa, happily eating a small dish of ice cream for dessert after dinner.

The next door neighbor boy knocked on the door to see the boys.

Curt FLIES into the kitchen, tears streaming down his face, moaning, "Why did you give me that bowl? Why did you give me that bowl?"

I had NO. IDEA. what he was talking about, until he practically threw his bowl of ice cream into the sink.

"It's a BABY BOWL," he cried.


Alas, it was. Probably bought at Target in the dollar bin for a Valentine's Day in a year when he didn't think that cutesy bowls were BABY. It still hangs around because it's a good portion size for a single scoop of ice cream, and the like.

And he was SO EMBARRASSED to be caught eating from a BABY BOWL in front of a buddy.

Lesson learned.

Hello, Puberty. I hope we make it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The News Business Is Like A Box of Chocolates...

...You never know what you're going to get.

There is no "average" day in the news business. I was telling someone yesterday that my morning was going well so far, but you never know what kind of turn it could take thoughout the day. It was raining, so the probability of traffic accidents was high. It was a Monday, so there might have been murders over the weekend that we hadn't heard about until the cops reporter made his rounds. We did hear about a tragic suicide, but we don't report on those.

No, yesterday's news took the kind of serendipitous turn that makes building a front page fun in a man-loses-dog kind of way.

At first blush, a man losing a dog doesn't sound like a happy-happy-joy-joy kind of story. But this one was.

A man came in off the street. Literally. He lives in a horse trailer behind a floral shop down the street from the paper. He had his back pack and his winter hat and a special service dog vest. That no dog was wearing. His service dog, Fluffy, had been missing since Saturday. Mr. Booth, a homeless veteran, was beside himself. His "baby," as he called her, helped him with physical and mental issues he didn't like to talk about. In his extensive lamentations, all he wanted was his dog back.

Veteran searches for missing dog

JACKSONVILLE — A self-described homeless Jacksonville veteran is anxiously awaiting the return of his missing service dog, Fuzzy.

Fuzzy, a black-mouth cur, has been missing since early Saturday afternoon, said her owner, Charlie Booth.

The 1-year-old, golden-colored dog stands about a foot-and-a-half high and has a black spot on her tongue, Booth said.

Booth, who lives behind Cindy's Floral, has had Fuzzy for about nine months. He trained her himself and she's certified as a service animal through Gold Star German Shepherds: All Breed Dog Training & Service Dogs, a company out of Nevada. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, service dogs are not required to have a federal certification, although state requirements vary from place to place. In Texas, assistance animals must be trained by "organizations generally recognized as reputable and competent by agencies involved in rehabilitation of people with disabilities." Booth has all papers regarding Fuzzy's certification and had just received her vest, designating her as an assistance dog, in the mail on Monday.

"She's my baby, I just want her back," Booth said. "People know me and Fuzzy are together. We go together."

Booth, who suffers from what he describes as partial paralyzation and equilibrium problems, among other things, said Fuzzy helps him get up and down and helps him maintain his balance. On his "lazy days," when standing is too difficult, "she lays in the driveway by me and watches the world go by," he said.

"She helps me mentally and emotionally and physically," he said. She helps him so much, in fact, that the first thing Booth does when he receives his disability check is buy Fuzzy a steak.

Booth has visited the police and the animal shelter in Jacksonville looking for Fuzzy, but doesn't have the financial resources or transportation to launch a larger-scale effort to find his beloved dog.

Booth, who doesn't like to talk about his service in the military, has also sought aid from the local Marine Corps League Det. 1381, confirmed Commandant Chuck Bones.

"Just bring her back," he pleaded. "I don't want to meet you, I don't want to see you, I just want my dog."

If you find Fuzzy, please return her to Booth in the area behind Cindy's Floral on East Rusk Street or call the Jacksonville Daily Progress at 903-586-2236.

Fast forward to this morning: calls came in with alleged Fuzzy sightings. At lunch time, I went out to investigate. In the rain and fog we drove around Jacksonville, slowly driving down the streets where Fuzzy was supposedly seen.

No luck.

We finally stopped by the animal shelter.

"Oh, Mr. Charlie? He's got his dog back," the official there was happy to tell us.

I decided to pay Mr. Booth a visit. Sadly, he wasn't there. I came back to the office, beating the heaviest rain storm of the day by a mere matter of minutes.

Moments later, I was paged over the interoffice intercom to come to the front lobby.

I went up front and there was Mr. Booth. AND FUZZY.


JACKSONVILLE — It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a small city to find a lost dog.

But that's exactly what Jacksonville did.

Fuzzy, the black-mouth cur belonging to veteran Charlie Booth, who went missing Saturday afternoon, was safe in his owner's arms Tuesday.

"You're goofy, you're just a goofy girl," obviously jubilant Booth said, when he visited the offices of the Jacksonville Daily Progress to share the good news.

Meanwhile, Fuzzy, who definitely lives up to her name with a thick, luxurious golden coat, laid at her master's feet and obeyed his every command.

The Daily Progress received numerous phone calls Tuesday morning with Fuzzy sightings, but it was one resident, a man only identified as living on Brown Street, who apparently found Fuzzy and brought her to the Klein Animal Shelter.

"Then Mr. Roy and Ms. Jennifer went and got her and brought her back," Booth said.

'Roy' and 'Jennifer' (Booth insisted on first-names only) are the owner and employee of CJ's Quick Stop on East Rusk Street.

"They were helping me," Booth said.

Booth wants to thank the Marine Corps League Det. 1381, the Jacksonville Police Department, the Klein Animal Shelter, 'Ms. Micky' at the Clothes Closet, Jacksonville Animal Control officers, the USPS mail carrier in the area of Cindy's Florals on East Rusk Street, 'Mr. Roy,' 'Ms. Jennifer and her husband, Scott, and everyone else who assisted in the search, which includes an 86-year-old reader of our newspaper who was unable to physically help search, but offered financial assistance for flyers to help find Fuzzy.

Fuzzy, who was missing the collar and tags she was wearing when she disappeared, will turn 1 year old on Jan. 22.

Did I mention I love my job?