There are certain rules to putting out a daily newspaper. If you break them, your readers will let you know quickly and emphatically. In my 32 years in this business, I’ve learned the first rule is don’t screw up the crossword puzzle, followed closely by don’t throw the paper in a mud puddle or go to press without the baseball standings in the Scoreboard.

Donald Trump won the election and will be president the next four years. Regardless of what people think of him, or the manner in which he conducted himself during the campaign, he won the electoral vote and defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as minor candidates, using the election system now in place.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins Monday in the state of Texas. I’ll be in line at 8 a.m. this time, taking part in the early voting process for the first time. I want no part of the Election Day circus to decide Trump vs. Clinton.

As of Friday, the Waco area had received measurable precipitation for 10 of the past 13 days. Before Thursday, it had been a while since we had seen the sun. The late-winter storms that pounded the area have had people praying for better weather.

Every year the Texas Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, releases a list of the most congested roadways in the state. The list is always dominated by roadway segments in Dallas and Houston, along with Interstate 35 in Austin. This year’s list is still dominated by the five major metropolitan areas in Texas, but it now includes critical analyses of more than 25 urban areas in the state.

Before we leave this Fourth of July weekend behind, allow me to share my list of 10 favorite presidents. It’s a dynamic list, changing every so often as I read and research more about each of the men who has served as our commander-in-chief over the past 200-plus years. No Independence Day would be complete without at least one such Top 10 list, especially in the information age.

The 2014 World Cup soccer tournament is a ratings success for U.S. broadcaster ESPN and its Spanish-speaking partner Univision. Monday’s USA vs. Ghana opening match drew 15.9 million viewers in the U.S., easily the most-watched soccer match ever broadcast in this country. Tonight the U.S. plays Portugal, and it will be ratings gold.

It was disappointing to learn last week that my home state pulled out of the Common Core State Standards initiative, citing fear of losing local control over public education. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill withdrawing the state’s participation in the consortium, effectively lowering education standards in a state with little room to do so.

Since construction began on the new 45,000-seat football stadium on the campus of Baylor University, it has been the center of attention in Waco. People have watched the new stadium rise and take shape since dirt was first turned at the site in January 2013. Now the countdown is on to opening night. You won’t be disappointed. McLane Stadium will knock your socks off, football fans.

When it comes to population growth in the Waco area, we can no longer use the past to predict the future. The population trend line reflects a long pattern of slow, steady growth in Waco and McLennan County with no immediate change in sight. If projections hold true to form, the population of the county will increase 10 percent to 15 percent between the 2010 and 2020 Census dates, much like it’s done since 1970. Waco’s virtually landlocked population will also increase, although at a slower rate.

The daily barrage of emails to the Tribune-Herald newsroom has a numbing effect. After the first couple of hundred, there is a risk of ignoring them completely and missing a good tip or legitimate news item. Such was the case this past week when an email landed in my inbox with the subject line, “I’m counting on you friend.”

The much-anticipated dedication of the City of West Fallen Heroes Memorial Saturday offered much worthy of praise, including an appropriate speech about sacrifice, loss and resilience by Gov. Greg Abbott, complete with admiration for “the remarkable work the people of West have done to rebuild this community.” But the centerpiece was quite obviously missing. Because of thunderstorms, this engaging hometown memorial — complete with informatively written individual tributes to those who perished in the West Fertilizer Company ammonium nitrate explosion of April 17, 2013 — could be conjured indoors only through a hastily but astonishingly well-produced video of the memorial, complete with scene-setting drone footage, by West videographer Ben Ranzinger.

I am a firm believer in “right to life.” However, I contend that this profound phrase covers much more than the abortion issue that has become its moniker. Personally, I believe that God, not the U.S. Constitution or a Supreme Court ruling, is the final authority on the matter. I believe that a heartbeat is enough to validate personhood and protection for those fetuses conceived in a mother’s womb. Clearly, everyone in America does not agree and so the debates continue.

How does one begin to dry the tears streaming down the ash-stained faces of Parisian Catholics? To be sure, Notre Dame Cathedral is a treasure for the world, for people of all nations and creeds. But it is first and foremost a Catholic church — where the sacraments have been celebrated for centuries, where the faithful labored more than a hundred years to erect a glorious monument to God. To watch this sacred space burn during Holy Week — the most solemn of the Christian liturgical year — stings all the more.


What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

About a year ago, our newspaper began receiving inquiries from various television production companies about the Branch Davidians. The Trib, as the newspaper of record for the 1993 Branch Davidian raid, siege and fire, possesses thousands of photographs from that era — a visual treasure trove for production officials preparing 25th anniversary specials. Predictably, most of them sought images of Vernon Howell (David Koresh), guns and the fire.