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March 2012 Letters

TCP Talk

Letters and comments from our readers

Will van Overbeek

Building Hope, Building Homes

I enjoyed your articles about the Bastrop County fires [“Up From the Ashes,” January 2012]. I live in Comanche County. I volunteered with Texas Baptist Men, a disaster-relief organization based in Dallas, from October through December, helping clean up homesites in the aftermath of the wildfires. My church also went down a couple of times to help.

We have met some great folks while working there. After meeting a local pastor there, my church, along with some other area churches in coordination with the Heart of Texas Baptist Network, has made a commitment to construct homes for some of the victims who had no insurance. One of the families we are helping is the McClintock family referenced in your article. The weekend after your magazine came out, we started the foundation and are well under way with the home.

Charles Carroll, Comanche Electric Cooperative

A Dim View of New Lighting

The “Illuminated Thinking” story in the January 2012 issue discussed the use of incandescent lightbulbs vs. the newer, more energy-efficient bulbs. Incandescent bulbs give off heat, which is very important during winter for people who have water wells. The use of just one traditional 60-watt bulb in a pump house that supplies water to our home or in the middle of our ranch to livestock is very important. Broken pipes and frozen pumps are expensive to replace. A 60-watt bulb gives off enough heat to prevent this and is a very cheap and safe alternative to any heat source that I know of. I guess the cost of going green is going to cost us a lot more money than the silly new bulbs will save in energy. I’ll send you the bill.

Johnny Taylor, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

About three years ago, I began replacing my incandescent lightbulbs with the highly rated CFLs [compact fluorescent lightbulbs]. They cost more, but they were supposed to last from five to nine years—touted on the packages that I purchased.

Some of the CFL bulbs lasted maybe three months, some have lasted almost three years. So far, I’m not impressed with the quality vs. the cost.

I’m trying to conserve energy, but it sure is costing a lot to do so, at the rate the CFLs burn out.

So here’s hoping the manufacturing companies drop their claim of long life, or make a better bulb.

Thanks for allowing me to put in my two dollars worth—oops—my two cents worth.

Cass Reasor, Cooke County Electric Cooperative

Well, looks like the “Big Brothers” (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy) are watching out for our best interests again! After reading the “Illuminated Thinking” article, I went shopping at the major home improvement centers and hardware stores and was shocked at the costs of LED lighting—from $29 to $39 per bulb. Think of what that would cost to illuminate your home! Then I found that CFL bulbs were very limited in choices, also expensive, and NONE were usable with dimmers! And halogen incandescent? Good luck finding them in average and useful household configurations and wattages!

I think the cost of these bulbs is ridiculous and far outweighs any long-term life advantages and “estimated energy savings.”

Jack Frazee, Pedernales Electric Cooperative

I can purchase four incandescent lightbulbs from dollar stores for $4. CFLs set me back approximately $7 each. I have purchased 21 CFLs thus far, five of which have already failed with less than a year’s operating time. The energy savings is minuscule compared to the replacement cost, plus the time and effort to climb a ladder (and risk of falling) to swap out a faulty lamp.

And what do I do with the failed CFLs? I understand they contain mercury and are not to be placed in the landfill. I considered going to LED lamps until I discovered they sell for nearly $50 each!

Ron Dow, Scroggins

Editor’s note: Some retailers throughout the nation—including The Home Depot, IKEA and Ace Hardware—offer CFL recycling programs for expired, unbroken bulbs. Download a PDF document with more information about CFLs, including how to clean up and dispose of broken bulbs, here.

A Very Special Theme Park

I really enjoyed the article on the San Antonio theme park, Morgan’s Wonderland, for children and adults with special needs [“The Wonder of It All,” January 2012]. I quickly sent the magazine to my niece in Dripping Springs and told her it would be an ideal place to take her daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Thank you for running the article.

Barbara Schroeder, Fayette Electric Cooperative

Shining a Light in the Dark

I am an elderly widow with an equally ancient dog. After Thanksgiving, we went to my place in Crockett County. It was late when I arrived, and I had no power. A benevolent neighbor called Southwest Texas Electric Cooperative for me and told them he could guide them to my place, which is extremely remote and has no real address. The dog and I settled in and went to bed with a flashlight. I expected the service to arrive the next day. I was amazed when they arrived a few hours later that night.

The two young men were so impressive. They were conscientious, professional and determined that “no customer would be left cold in the dark.” The co-op and its employees will forever enjoy my esteem and gratitude!

Lucille McDavid-Neuse, Southwest Texas Electric Cooperative

In This Corner: Judge Roy Bean

I really enjoyed “The Hide-and-Seek Fight of 1896” article by Clay Coppedge [January 2012]. Judge Roy Bean seems to have been the true politician of our day and time, considering his involvement with the boxing circuit.

Lillian Beasley, Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative

Salute to a Soldier

After reading the article “Sunday Best” [December 2011] I wanted to share an experience from one of those painted Catholic churches. On November 6, my husband and I attended the annual Veterans Day memorial service held on the grounds of St. Mary’s Church in Praha.

The speaker, Orby Ledbetter, spoke about his 19 months as a prisoner of war during World War II. The remembrances that he shared spoke volumes about what this great soldier endured. (Our 8-year-old grandson could tell us the next day some of the things that he remembered from the speech.) I regret that more of our youth couldn’t have heard him speak; they would have realized that the freedoms we enjoy today come at a price.

Karry K. Matson, Fayette Electric Cooperative

Thanks to Firefighters and Co-op

I really enjoyed your article on aerial firefighters [“Fighting Fires,” November 2011].

In April 2011, my wife and I endured the fear of the approaching Wildcat Fire in Coke and surrounding counties. Although we did not have the benefit of the SEATs [single-engine air tankers], we did have the aerial help of a DC-10, C-130s and helicopter tankers.

The fire came within half a mile to the south and a quarter of a mile to the west. The fire retardant drops in the photos are on the south side of FM 2662 south of Bronte and Robert Lee, our last line of defense prior to the fire reaching these towns. The ground forces spanned the entire eight-mile length of the road. I met firefighting crews from Florida to California. No homes were lost in this horrific fire.

After losing electricity, I pulled my meter and connected the generator to the house. Within hours, Concho Valley Electric Cooperative had power restored. Co-op power is the greatest. Locals helping locals.

Mike Medeiros, Concho Valley Electric Cooperative

The Power of Teamwork

My husband and I live in Lake Kiowa and are members of Cooke County Electric Cooperative. Around midnight on December 22, we noticed that our lights were dimming and blinking. We called the co-op’s 24-hour emergency service number for help, and a crew arrived in less than an hour. They stayed on the job until around 2 a.m. and determined that the problem was not in the transformer, meter or the lines connecting to the house. The problem seemed to have resolved, and the technicians advised us that if the problem recurred, to call them back.

The next morning we were without electricity in several areas of our house.

We again called our co-op, and again received prompt attention. The technicians rechecked the transformer, electric meter and voltage levels. They again determined the problem was not in those connections and advised us that we should contact an electrician. We contacted Parker Electric from Gainesville, and they were able to correct the problem, which they found was located in our electrical power box.

We were very impressed with the service we received from both our co-op and Parker Electric and want to express our appreciation to them for their prompt, professional and dedicated service.

Charlie and Fran Sypert, Cooke County Electric Cooperative

Shipbuilding Heritage

I was thrilled to read about the contributions of Orange, and especially the Weaver Shipyard, to shipbuilding during World War II [“Orange’s World War II Shipbuilding Boom,” October 2011]. I was glad to be reminded of the minesweepers made from wood to deter German magnetic explosives. I have pictures of some of the ships being christened, and I was in some of the pictures as a baby. I am the daughter of Lewis Weaver, one of the Weaver Shipyard owners. Thank you for the recognition and the memories.

Leah Weaver, Hamilton County Electric Cooperative

I am commenting on letters written by Dick Martin and Tom Hanson in the December 2011 issue about the Orange shipbuilding story. I was a beginner welder myself. I joined the Navy and spent the rest of the war aboard the heavy cruiser USS Boston (CA-69). I enlisted at the age of 17.

Leroy McClelland, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative