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See the Dark

Some of the topics we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

Electric cooperatives generally see darkness as a problem to be solved, but in Big Bend Ranch State Park, darkness is celebrated and honored. And in Celina, a family turns its darkest days into a mission to put webcams in neonatal intensive care units.

Darkness in Big Bend

An estimated 80 percent of Americans have never seen the Milky Way. If that includes you, Big Bend Ranch State Park can help you change that.

The park has been designated an International Dark Sky Park, joining Copper Breaks, South Llano River and Enchanted Rock state parks with this designation. Night skies are fading, and natural darkness is disappearing because of the growing glow of artificial lights.

The International Dark-Sky Association works to preserve the darkness as the authoritative voice on light pollution, educating lighting designers, manufacturers, technical committees and the public about controlling light pollution.

Leighton’s Gift for Newborns

Chris and Amy Skaggs are determined to ease the stress and helplessness parents experience when they can’t constantly be present with their newborns who must spend time in neonatal intensive care units.

In 2011, Amy gave birth to premature twins, Leighton and Jaxon, who remained hospitalized in the NICU for specialized medical care. But three weeks after she was born, Leighton died from a serious infection.

To memorialize Leighton, the Skaggses, members of Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative, started Leighton’s Ride, an annual motorcycle ride to raise money to purchase web cameras for NICU beds so parents can see and speak to their babies any time. Leighton’s Ride is May 19 in Celina, north of Dallas. The 75-mile ride includes an after-party with a car show, music, raffle and food.

Since 2013, Leighton’s Ride has purchased 45 webcams for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, where the twins were born. Leighton’s brother, Jaxon, is 6 and doing fine as he finishes kindergarten. Find more information at (972) 977-8156,

Farewell to a Pioneer

Weatherman John Coleman might not have been a household name when he died in January, but he dramatically changed how TV viewers get their weather news.

The Alpine native was working at a Chicago station in 1972 when he developed the first green-screen weather map ever used. The innovation not only enlivened forecasts, it allowed him to become the first weatherman to display weather satellite information on-screen for viewers to see.

In 1975, he became the original meteorologist on Good Morning America.

Then, in 1981, in the early days of cable TV, he co-founded the Weather Channel, where today millions of Americans turn for news about hurricanes, blizzards and wildfires.

Historic Election

Wilhelmina Delco was elected to the Austin school board 50 years ago, in 1968, making her the first African-American elected to public office in Austin. In 1974, she won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, making her the first black official elected at-large in Travis County.

In 1991, she was appointed speaker pro tem, becoming the first woman and the second African-American to hold the second-highest position in the Texas House.

Super School

Nick Foles, a 2007 graduate of Westlake High School in Austin, became the second Chaparral quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP, joining 1997 Westlake grad Drew Brees. Foles (below), who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, threw for three touchdowns and caught one from his own tight end in a 41-33 upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in February. Brees won a championship with the New Orleans Saints in 2010.

The only other high school to produce two Super Bowl quarterback MVPs is Isadore Newman School in New Orleans, a private school that produced brothers Peyton and Eli Manning.

Did You Know?

25 years ago: The Alamodome in San Antonio, built for an NFL team that never came, opened May 15, 1993. The arena was home to the San Antonio Spurs from 1993–2002.