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Travel Info for Summer Road Trips

AUSTIN – If you’re planning a road trip this summer, the Texas Department of Transportation offers the Texas State Travel Guide, Texas Highways Events Calendar and Texas Official Travel Map to help you get where you’re going and have fun along the way.

“Whether you have a particular destination in mind or are just planning to explore Texas, these publications will help you every mile of your trip,” said Joan Henderson, TxDOT’s Travel Information Division director. “Texas is big, and so is the list of things to do and places to see offered in these publications. Plus, the travel information is free.”

The 264-page Travel Guide offers features on history, arts and culture, music, food, shopping, sports, family activities and the outdoors. In addition, you’ll find information on more than 450 cities and 3,000 attractions. The city and attraction listings are separated into regions and each has a section highlighting some of the mustsee places.

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Gifts for outdoor dads

(StatePoint) Does Dad love the great outdoors? Show you care this Father’s Day by helping him gear up for upcoming adventures.

There are many different gift options for outdoor dads, whether he’s a hiker, angler or grill master.

Camping and Hiking

Help Dad avoid dull blades far away from home with a portable sharpener. Those from Smith’s Consumer Products are lightweight, compact and durable. They feature a coarse slot to give a new, sharp edge on dull or damaged blades, and a fine slot for regular edge maintenance, as well as a fold-out, tapered diamond rod to sharpen serrations. The brand’s new model, the Pocket Pal X2 Sharpener and Outdoors Tool, helps campers pack light, as it also features several outdoor essentials in its compact frame -- a fire starter, compass, LED light and signal whistle.

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Governor Abbott participates in White House conference call on Zika virus

 AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott participated in a conference call for Governors June 9 to discuss strategies for addressing the Zika threat and efforts to combat the virus. The call was hosted by the White House and led by Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

“Texas is working with our local and federal partners to ensure Texans are protected from the Zika virus,” said Governor Abbott. “With the recent floods, and as we enter the height of mosquito season, I encourage Texans to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito exposure and heed all warnings and recommendations from health officials.”

Governor Abbott has activated the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response. The Task Force and the Department of State Health Services are currently finalizing the Zika Virus Preparedness and Response Plan.

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Second annual Lone Star City Cook-Off a huge success

 Smoke filled the air at the Lone Star City Park on Saturday, June 11. Lone Star Police, fire crews from Lone Star, Jenkins, and Cason all converged on the park, adding to the smoke. The reason: the second annual Lone Star City Cook-Off. The fire and police teams were joined by a team from the Daingerfield Country Club, as well as the Daingerfield-Lone Star Independent School District Police department to determine who put out the best chicken, ribs, and brisket.

Teams began setting up on Friday evening, preparing their smokers for the competition that would began at 10am on Saturday morning. Each team would prepare smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket for judging by a panel that included Morris County Judge Linda Munkres, Lone Star Judge Bob Mattox, D-LS ISD Superintendent Sandra Quarles and D-LS Curriculum Director Martha Campbell.

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Teaching kids to accept others

 (StatePoint) While racism and bigotry continue to exist in this country, experts say that social change is not impossible.

“Just follow the news and you’ll find ugly instances of racism occurring every day,” says Stephen L. Kanne, author of the new historical novel, “The Lynching Waltz.” “But it’s never too early or too late to promote long-term change through actions and words.”

Kanne, inspired by the way Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fueled the anti-slavery cause in the 19th century, hopes his new novel can help abolish racism in the 21st. Based on a personal childhood incident, “The Lynching Waltz” recounts the story of a town that defies a visiting stranger’s attempts to exclude black children from participating in a beloved rite of passage -- a ballroom dance class called Fortnightly.

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Scam claiming IRS action targeting area residents

Scams are not a new occurrence. Although many people recognize suspicious calls, it is always good to be aware of potential scams, and what can be done if scamming occurs.

Recently, multiple residents have claimed to have been contacted by a caller claiming they are from the IRS, and demanding payment on an IRS case against them. The caller sounds official, and even gives the victim an official sounding case number. Several calls of this type have been known to show a 206 area code on caller identification devices.

These are not the first types of scam calls claiming IRS action. According to the Internal Revenue website, scams have included asking the victim to use a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer to pay outstanding debts. If a victim refuses to cooperate, the caller then threatens legal action, including arrest, deportation, and suspension of a business or driver’s license.

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Five things to know before visiting a national park this summer

(StatePoint) This year, the National Park Service celebrates 100 years of encouraging adventure and preserving the great outdoors, making it the perfect time to get out and explore.

The untouched wonders, not to mention the clear skies and sunny days of summer, make a beautiful backdrop for the all- American family road trip. And while grand adventure awaits, so does the unexpected. Before you lace up your hiking boots and pack up the car, take some time to plan ahead.

Prepare for the Unexpected

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Gift Guide for DIY Dads and Grads

(StatePoint) Father’s Day and graduation season are the perfect opportunities to beef up your gift recipient’s garage -- and high-quality tools are a must for anyone -- from DIY novices to professional handymen.

“A quality tool goes a long way toward getting a job done quickly and efficiently,” says Jon DeArment, president and COO, Channellock, Inc., a leading manufacturer of tools. “Damaged gear can slow down work and be dangerous to the user.”

Here are a few gifts to consider:

• Every one needs a good set of screwdrivers designed to withstand the rigors of daily use. This is a great gift idea for different budgets, since screwdrivers can typically be purchased individually or in sets. A good-quality option should feature a tube and bits that pull out and reverse easily to configure the driver needed for each job.

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Put Your Phone Away: Distracted Driving Includes Hands-Free Talking

(StatePoint) In an age of constant communication and connectivity, it can be difficult to take a break. But drive time is when your phone should take a backseat to safety, say experts.

 

“You don’t need to be texting to be distracted by your phone,” says Kelly Nantel, vice president of communications and advocacy at the National Safety Council. “Even hands-free talking is a major distraction.” Research indicates drivers using handheld and hands-free phones only see about 50 percent of all the information in their driving environment. This phenomenon is known as “inattention blindness,” similar to tunnel vision.

While multitasking is valued in today’s culture, researchers find that the human brain doesn’t actually perform two tasks at the same time but rather switches attention between tasks. At your desk, this can be an effective and efficient way to work, but behind the wheel, “multitasking” can be deadly.

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TEA cancels June STAAR testing

 The Texas Education Agency has cancelled the June STAAR testing administration for fifth and eighth grades. This decision comes following numerous ongoing reporting issues with the testing vendor.

Commissioner Mike Morath, in a letter to administrators, stated “As a result of ongoing reporting issues with our testing vendor, we will be removing student consequences attached to STAAR testing for grades five and eight for the remainder of the 2015-2016 assessment cycle.”

Due to the issues, and that the STAAR test will not be used for promotion of fifth and eighth grade students, the agency has cancelled the June administration for those exams.

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