[Spring 2011] Photo essay: eight women raise the roof. Community colleges and budget cuts. Four-person photography
gallery. The life of an arachnologist. Become a green machine.
The Flare Magazine KILGORE COLLEGE
[look at it this way]
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The Flare Magazine Editorial Staff Editors..................................Kasi Dickerson Elizabeth Wisdom Copy Editors................................Jacob Root Stephanie Shipp Illustrators.........................Ashley Forrestier Kaitlin McCullough Ad manager.................................Jamie Barr
Photographers: Briley Boren, Brandy Eubanks, Bethany Ford, Hayley Harris, Cara Herbert, Amanda Lattery, Christopher Loewen, Jamie Maldonado, Carlos Peña, Heather Pilcher, Bonney Quine, Jon Vashey and Elizabeth Wisdom
Writers: Meagan Brown, Jarred Crenshaw, Kasi Dickerson, Betsy Foreman, Chelsea Hough, Jamie Maldonado and Jacob Root Photo Adviser.....................O. Rufus Lovett Adviser............................... Bettye Craddock
As college freshmen, we were naive to the work behind creating a college magazine. Surely, six weeks was more than enough time to plan, design, edit and produce a 40page publication. Yeah, right! Soliciting stories, selecting photographs and compiling pages worth reading, proved to be more challenging than we ever anticipated. One minute we’d realize a photograph was missing, we’d find it and then the next minute misplace a cutline. And who would have thought the hunt for stories would bring us to appreciate the state budget crunch? Slowly, but surely, blank pages transformed into the magazine you hold in your hand. We hope the journey through The Flare Magazine reminds you of all the gifts KC has to offer. A special thank you to all of the contributors, Bettye Craddock and O. Rufus Lovett for making this magazine possible. Editors, Kasi Dickerson and Elizabeth Wisdom The Flare 1100 Broadway Kilgore, Texas 75662 email@example.com www.theflareonline.com © 2011 by Kilgore College Flare
Cover photograph by ELIZABETH WISDOM
23 24 28 34 36 39
Habitat for Humanity Student photographer Brandy Eubanks sheds insight on her Spring Break trip to Fairfield, Alabama, where she captured eight hardworking women as they rebuilt homes and restored a community.
Four students share selections from their portfolios.
by Betsy Foreman Steven Vowell spins his life in a new direction by turning to faith.
State news on budget cuts
by Meagan Brown KC budget crisis deepens as money is cut from state funding.
Commentary – Mexico
by Chelsea Hough The U.S. position is questioned as drug violence escalates in Mexico.
compiled by Jarred Crenshaw What does it take to be a fireman?
by Kasi Dickerson Biology instructor Lynn McCutchen explains his love for arachnids.
Look at it this way
Students display a collection of work that defies normal perceptions.
by Jacob Root See how eco-friendly you are by tallying your points.
Commentary – Church Fires by Jamie Maldonado A series of church fires in East Texas sparks a debate on the fairness of arson sentences.
DISCLAIMER: Editorial staff positions are held by Kilgore College communications students. Comments and views expressed in The Flare Magazine reflect the thoughts of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of other students, staff members, faculty members, administrative officers or the Board of Trustees.
“As a photographer, we must learn to see light. We must learn to respond to light. We must learn to feel light.” – John Sexton, photographer
“One must learn to look through one’s eyes, not just with them.” – Edward Weston, photographer
Clockwise from top left: Jamie Maldonado, Amanda Lattery, Carlos Peña and Brandy Eubanks.
Brandy Eubanks During the past year I have spent many hours chasing light patterns around my house. Every hour of each day light radiates differently. Never once have I seen the exact same luminance as nature paints her art throughout my home. Everything in life is dictated by our perceptions. The simplicity in these photographs is where I discover beauty in the ordinary. This body of work evolves from day dreams as I escape reality â€“ it has become my soul-shine.
Jamie Maldonado Our deepest insights can come effortlessly in quiet moments. Sometimes we are delighted by our discoveries, and other times we are terrified by them. These dark insights can drive us to seek constant distraction. However, this is a mistake, because some of our greatest victories can come from confronting them. Also, some of our purest joy comes from these profound and seemingly irrational experiences. Photography is a gateway to these instinctual moments, freeing viewers from the artifice of consciously taking steps to reach an understanding. I hope these images illustrate some moment in the viewersâ€™ lives where he or she came to a sudden and powerful realization.
Amanda Lattery I have been photographing the drag queens in East Texas for more than a year. I find the transformation my subjects make from male to female fascinating. Not only does the physical transformation raise my curiosity, but also the cerebral transformation. I experience these young men exiting their shy and quiet personas into outgoing and confident performers who can not seem to gain enough attention on stage.
Carlos Pe単a A good sense of humor and an unusual way to see make surreal photographs. I do not have the luxury of having dreams or nightmares like most people, so I must find a way to dream. I enjoy taking the ordinary or the mundane and turning it into what I like. Needs are what dare us to pursue or to chase after something. For me, those needs are my photographs.
Not the almighty rapper –
He’s rapping for the
Almighty Story by BETSY FOREMAN Photographs by JAMIE MALDONADO
t is hard to miss his Five-Deuce Hoover-Crip tattoo and the other gang-related body art covering his hands and arms. One may get the wrong impression of Steven Vowell if merely glancing in his direction. Pause for a few seconds, though, to take a more in-depth look at Vowell. Note the sparkle in his eyes and his positive glow. Take in the Bible which he clutches close to his heart as if it were a precious child. Then, just a few sincere words from him and one knows they’d certainly pegged him wrong. However, there was a time when one could attribute to Vowell many of the stereotypes associated with a person brandishing gang tattoos. He had a troubled youth, lived a gang-member lifestyle and set that life to music. Yet, that is just a small excerpt out of the saga that has been Vowell’s life. There is much more.
Family Life Vowell, born in Kilgore, did not have the advantage of strong family ties, the emotional connections that intertwine a family and create enduring bonds. If those ties ever existed within his family, they were tattered and torn by the time he came along. He was deprived of love, good role models and the crucial instruction necessary for a child during his formative years. His family life began to unravel at the seams some time after his first birthday. At the tremendously tender age of 1, his mother was incarcerated for manufacturing methamphetamines.
The majority of his life he contemplated her existence. “I didn’t know if she was dead or where she was,” Vowell said. Vowell’s only source of paternal influence was strong but unfortunately ill-natured. Although Vowell and his dad have developed a good relationship he is now proud of, it was not always that way. As a child Vowell experienced mental, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father. The man who was supposed to protect him heaped insult atop injury.
“It felt like hell. I wanted to die. Sometimes I would plot on killing him,” Vowell said of the abuse he suffered. During his fifth-grade year, his grandmother pulled him away from his father. Still, stability was not a part of this arrangement. He was uprooted constantly, moving many times for various reasons. The family and friends he had in his life undermined any good moral lessons and any sense of stability he could have learned at an early age, through unstable or licentious and violent behavior.
His life was in constant turmoil. Moving from place to place, his foundation was shaken. His grandmother moved him three times his fifthgrade year. That school year he wound up in College Station. There he met a young man named Tiger who encouraged him to join the Five-Deuce Hoover-Crip gang, and he accepted. From that point on thievery, violence and drug use ensued.
Continued on page 12.
what God can do, then take a look at my life and how the old me is through.
If you’re “ interested in
– Steven Vowell 11
“I was homeless and on the run,
freezing cold and tired of running.
– Steven Vowell
Drugs, Violence and Incarceration Vowell is not completely sure if it were age 11 or 12 when he began to pop pills. He began to use marijuana daily at age 13. Directly after that came regular cocaine use. At 14, he started using ecstasy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ecstasy is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that can have long-term adverse effects on overall health and can be particularly harmful to the brain. At 15, he stopped using pills, cocaine and ecstasy but continued to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. During one of his stays in various places, he lived with a cousin who made selling drugs seem glamorous. “My cousin always partied, bringing in money. He was living lavish. I looked up to him,” Vowell said. His cousin’s lifestyle encouraged Vowell to continue living an unscrupulous life. “My life was graphic. I went full
blown evil, working for Satan,” Vowell said. Frequently, Vowell exhibited violent behavior toward other people and even toward himself. Jailed for the first time at the age of 13, Vowell began his teenage years caged and the majority of years after that were spent locked down. More than 10 times he was confined in the juvenile detention system, rehabs, boys’ homes and even a mental hospital. His list of charges was extensive: robbery, escape, drug use, assault, even two attempted suicides. He found himself living on the streets at times. Vowell’s mind began to tire of his lifestyle, without his realizing exactly how much it was going to change. “I was homeless and on the run, freezing cold and tired of running,” Vowell said.
Enlightenment, Transformation and a Positive Example Prior to his grandmother moving him around, Vowell attended a Christian school from pre-K to fifth grade. In that fifth-grade year he started on a downhill spiral. Getting an education was the furthest thing from his mind, unless it was knowledge on how to run the street game. It took a spiritual education to get someone playing a gangster’s role to learn a disciple’s life. Vowell thought his road to reach fame and glory would be rapping about the debased lifestyle he lived. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his cousin who rapped, the same one who influenced him to sell drugs. But, this secular rap game was not to be his calling as he expected it to be. “Music can influence in one of two ways, good or bad. It triggers emotions,” Vowell said. Money, gangs, drugs and sex dominated the lyrics Vowell laid over the beats that used to fuel his mind and drive his goals. Now it’s lyrics about God, Christ, love and faith that he lays over tight beats, offering praise to the Almighty to help save souls. It was an unplanned visit to a small country church that kindled a spiritual flame within Vowell. “God spoke to me through the pastor. I broke down in tears and Jesus met me at the altar and His undeserved mercy turned me toward repentance,” Vowell said. He was saved on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, and
he has found a new calling. Friends encouraged him to use the lyrical talents God gave him in a positive way. Yet, Christian rap to him was an oxymoron. The two could not coexist. This was his take on the genre until he web-searched it. There he stumbled across an artist who served as what he considered a God-sent messenger. The words of the song uplifted and encouraged him. It was then he realized he too could uplift others with his God-given talent. Vowell’s transformation is evident to others seeking spiritual direction. “It was powerful,” Kendal Moore, a friend, said about meeting Vowell for the first time. Vowell’s passion for living a Christian life radiates from his body in a golden light. His warmth and sincerity are like magnets to those who are hungry for spiritual growth. He offers prayers to those he meets, whom he feels are in need of uplifting. He has only kind, encouraging words for all those he meets. “I don’t want to encourage others to live the kind of life I did by telling my story,” Vowell said. Perpetually positive, he lives his life by example to bring others to Christ and away from the dangers of the world. His intent is profoundly evident in his lyrics. “If you’re interested in what God can do, then take a look at my life and how the old me is through,” Vowell wrote. ;
$ Limbo $ H a n gin g in
~ CARLOS PENA
Budget-slashing lawmakers eying community colleges
By MEAGAN BROWN
ilgore College is facing a possible $3.4 million cut in state funding for 2012-13 after the budget (HB 1) passed in the Texas House of Representatives April 10. As of April 21, the Senate Bill concerning the budget is still in committee and has not yet been passed on to the floor. KC’s Representative David Simpson voted against HB 1 because of the cuts that education will receive. “Such a budget, in my opinion, would have eliminated or at least drastically reduced corporate welfare before substantial cuts to social welfare, community colleges, K-12 education and libraries were implemented,” Simpson wrote in his latest newsletter.
colleges are the solution to the state’s “ Community budget crisis – not the problem.
– Dr. Bill Holda, KC president
Why is the Legislature imposing such a high cut for the college? Because the state of Texas has a $27 billion deficit and Gov. Rick Perry and Legislators are adamant that cuts – not a raise in taxes – are the answer. The state spends $48.9 billion annually on public schools and higher education, which is more than any other discretionary spending amount (including money spent on public health services, prisons, the Department of Public Safety and all other state programs). Therefore, public and higher education are seeing some of the largest cuts from the Legislature because, logically, the more money spent on a program, the more money cut from it. Higher education is looking at an overall 10 percent formula cut and will not receive funding for enrollment growth even in the best possible outcome of the new budget. Many agree with Robert Garrett, Dallas Morning News columnist, who says community colleges across the state are getting hit the hardest by the lack of funding for growth. Since the fall of 2000, community college enrollment has increased by 290,000 students (67 percent). Fiftyfive percent of all higher education students attend community colleges in Texas. Community colleges are, on average, 79.5 percent cheaper than universities, even with the 33 percent increase in tuition and fees that has occurred since 2003, according to the Texas Association of Community Colleges research. “Already operating on smaller budgets than universities, increased student population combined with decreases in funding endangers our community college system,” said TACC. But how do all of these numbers affect KC? These state-wide higher education budget cuts affect KC in two ways: more cuts for the college and imposing an increase in revenue. Holda outlined a three-part process in meeting state funding cuts. “One: we’ll be as lean as we can.
Two: we will cut services. Three: rules will change to pass costs on to employees,” Holda said. Many cuts have already taken place; some were mandated and others were voluntary. These cuts have saved the college around $500,000 overall thus far. The Board of Trustees raised tuition and fees for the 11th time since 2003 in its March meeting, and trustees raised tuition for continuing education courses in their April meeting. These increases should bring in more than $1.2 million in additional revenue, effective Fall 2011. Will KC survive the current budget cuts and those to come? “Yes, Kilgore College will undoubtedly be able to survive,” Holda says. “[With budget cuts], what happens is you soul search and try to preserve your core.” The college may have to cut off an arm and a leg or two, but the important part of the body will still function, Holda noted. There has already been some amputation done, and there will most likely be more to come, but the college’s “long-term future is not threatened,” Holda said. In light of the cuts and increases, one may wonder if now is the time to be attending a community college. Students are being faced with continually increasing tuition and less services, and the Legislature is cutting community college funding slowly but surely. Why are community colleges a necessity? A plethora of reasons can answer this question, but one main reason can be found: because community colleges increase the number of employable people in the state, which in turn increases revenue for the state. TACC research shows average earnings for someone with a one-year certificate are 16 percent more than someone with a high school diploma, and someone with an associate’s degree earns
36 percent more than someone with a high school diploma. If the state continues to invest in community colleges as opposed to cutting their funding, a 15.9 percent investment return will be seen in the first 8.2 years after a degree is earned. “After the first eight years, students’ expanded earning and spending will contribute to an ever larger tax base for the remainder of their career,” notes the TACC. Not only do community colleges benefit the overall state of Texas, but they also benefit the individuals who attend them and help students become more successful. Seventy percent of all first-time college students choose to attend a community college first, rather than a university. On top of that, students who attend a community college and then transfer to a university are more likely to graduate, and to graduate in less time, according to TACC. One of the Texas Legislature’s commissions is “Closing the Gap,” which focuses on getting minorities better educated and leaving no one behind. Community colleges benefit this program by serving and educating a broad cross section of Texans. Holda summarizes the problem and solution to the deficit simply: “Community colleges are the solution to the state’s budget crisis – not the problem.” ;
WHO TO CONTACT
WHAT YOU CAN DO THE RULES
1. Do not make phone calls from a Kilgore College phone. 2. Do not use KC letterhead, envelopes or postage to mail letters. 3. Do not use KC email system to send emails.
n The Honorable David Simpson Room E1.416, Capitol Extension P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768 512-463-0750 david.simpson@ house.state.tx.us n The Honorable Kevin Eltife P.O. Box 12068 Capitol Station Austin, TX 78711 512-463-0101 kevin.eltife@senate. state.tx.us
M e x i c o
A young girl awakens in the middle of the night to muffled screams and the slamming of the front door. She runs to her bedroom window and peeks cautiously around the curtain. She is horrified to see her older sister being carried away by three masked men. Then all is quiet as the four shadows disappear into the night. The Mexican drug cartel has struck again. Many people understand that Mexico is an unsafe place at this time thanks to the numerous drug cartels, groups that control the trafficking of drugs from South America to the U.S. We hear the reports about American tourists kidnapped or even killed while just trying to enjoy their vacations. In fact, a reported 65 Americans were killed in Mexico in 2010 alone. However, that number is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Mexicans dying each year. Last year 15,273 Mexicans were killed in drugrelated murders, making 2010 the bloodiest year to date since the drug wars started. With an even more staggering statistic, over the past four years, 34,612 Mexicans have
lost their lives thanks to drug violence. The Mexican government categorized these deaths as they were logging them into their crime database. Of the 34,612 deaths, 30,913 were execution-style shootings, 3,153 were deemed confrontations and 546 were classified as aggression and other clashes. Now, it is true that many of these deaths are of people who are members of drug cartels themselves. However, a significant portion of them are simply innocent bystanders. They are children who get caught in the cross fire of a drive-by shooting as they play ball in the streets. They are young women who get taken from their families as a warning to the surrounding community. They are fathers who join the gang themselves in hopes of protecting their loved ones from harm. How is this OK? No matter what opinion
Americans have formed about our neighbors to the south, we cannot sit idly by and let this violence continue. I believe John Lennon said it best: “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” According to USA Today, U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to step up and help make dreams of peace a reality. In his press conference held March 3, he and Mexican President Felipe Calderon appeared together and looked hopeful for a solution to come soon to end the drug-related violence. Obama said the U.S. “accepts our shared responsibility for drugs,” and will cite programs to reduce U.S. demand for narcotics and restrict weapons traffic. Could this be the first step to ending the bloodshed? I hope so. Whether it is or isn’t, a solution must be found soon. ; By CHELSEA HOUGH
Social Silverware By KASI DICKERSON
Any etiquette-savvy soul knows the correct way to set a Southern-style table:
is becoming challenged by technology. Without the luxury of a delete button, people are turning to technology to replace the spoken word. People are preferring to view profiles or text someone rather than look the person in the eye or carry on a face-to-face conversation. Even when it comes to toddlers, the cell phone is becoming the ideal baby sitter. Have crying babies? Just stick an iPhone in their hands with a game and they will become instantly soothed. My question is this: how much of our lives are we willing to let technology dictate? Will we become a society akin to Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” where meaningful conversation is replaced with people’s desire to watch their wallsized TVs? Are we going to become so consumed with our hand-held “best friend” that we tune out the rest of the world? Will we forget the natural beauty of the world and view life through virtually generated scenes on our iPads? What will it take to peel our eyes away from another round of Angry Birds on our iPhones? Today, technology has eaten its way into our dining time. Tomorrow, what will be left for it to consume? ;
ELIZABE TH WISD
s I sat in the iconic Oasis restaurant nestled atop Austin’s beautiful Lake Travis, a live band strummed folk music intermingling with the laughter I could no longer contain. The giggles did not come from a joke or witty remark from one of my friends, but from the silence and what I like to call social silverware. Naturally, when setting a table one places a fork, spoon, knife and plate at each seat, but around our table cell phones sat on top of each napkin like they were the newest addition to the restaurant’s tableware. It amazed me how we were all so plugged in to what was happening online than what was actually happening in the real world. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know that Jane Doe just bought a latte and is on her way to work. Words were nonexistent unless they were in a tweet or wall post. Waiting for the chips and salsa, I allowed my mind to wander since I obviously wasn’t missing any great conversation. I started to remember how when I was growing up it was considered rude to answer a phone call during dinner. My mom and dad would just let the phone ring if we were eating. Now it seems more of society is accepting social silverware. Rarely do people comment on someone having a phone at the table. In fact, it appears that more dinner conversations are with someone on the other end of the phone rather than someone across the table. Face-to-face interaction
Right: Knife and spoon Center: Main dish plate Left: napkin, fork and cellphone?
hope Spring Break â€™11: One KC team. Eight women. 1,030 miles. One black eye. 25,000 shingles. One box of Band-Aids. 10,000 nails. One mission. Success.
Photographs by BRANDY EUBANKS
The Flare Magazine talked with KC photographer Brandy Eubanks to learn more about her Spring Break in Fairfield, Alabama, working with Habitat for Humanity. Flare Magazine: What is Habitat for Humanity? Brandy Eubanks: It’s a program where participants build and repair houses for people with a low-income. In order to have a house built for you, you have to have 300 hours of volunteer work or what they call “sweat equity.” KC participated in the Habitat for Humanity collegiate challenge with schools across the nation. Each group went to a different location to work.
FM: What type of work did the team experience during Spring Break? BE: That type of work is what they call “rehab” and that’s where they make improvements for existing homes for low-income people. They also call it a “brushwith-kindness” program, and it’s where they make critical repairs in existing homes. FM: How long were you there? BE: The groups went on Monday, March 14. They went to two sites. On the first site, they started building a new house for a woman from Iraq. They started to work KC were working so hard that they inspired me to put my on Ethel Williams’ house on camera down to work along with them. Wednesday and finished the rest of the week there. FM: How did Habitat for Humanity affect you personally? FM: While in Alabama what was your official job? BE: I was there as the photographer; however, I did end up helping because the girls from
BE: The whole thing was enlightening. It’s definitely an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. The girls I went with were really great and easy to get along with. Their personalities and outlook on the entire trip is what made the experience.
4 1 Mrs. Ethel Williams, homeowner; 2 Selena Church; 3 Christina LaRoux, Amanda Dean and Kami Rutherford; 4 Heather White
FM: How long were you working on-site?
more than just shingles and nails that went into the house; it took a lot of hard work, sweat and heart to do it.
BE: We left the volunteer center at 7 a.m. and we would follow our volunteer coordinator to the site and start working as soon as we got there. Then we would work up to 4 or 5 p.m. until we reached a good stopping point.
FM: How would you describe the experience?
FM: What emotion did you try to capture with your photographs? BE: These girls worked very hard, so I wanted to photograph the human condition and show the truth of the experience. There was
BE: We stayed in a church in Fairfield, Alabama, that had converted the basement into a volunteer center. At first everyone was a little reserved about the living conditions. It was very tight, however we made the best of it. After a hard day’s work we were exhausted, and thankful to have a place to rest. We would gather around Tina Rushing’s bunk to share stories and laughter, like camping with a bunch of girlfriends. It was a rewarding experience in the deepest sense. FM: Tell about the type of work the group did and the family they helped.
BE: Mrs. Williams is a sweet lady who had been living alone for many years. She had her roof replaced a few years prior, but didn’t get what she paid for. Her roof leaked so badly that it caused the ceiling to cave in
5 5 Kami Rutherford and Christina LaRoux; 6 Tina Rushing; 7 Christina LaRoux
There was more than just shingles and nails that went into the house. It took a lot of hard work, sweat and heart to do it.
– Brandy Eubanks
on her kitchen. Habitat’s “A Brush with Kindness” program had us strip her existing roof, rebuild a new one and replace her kitchen ceiling. It was very hard work. FM: Since you were there documenting the trip, what reactions did the workers have to spending their Spring Break doing manual labor? BE: When I asked everybody what their best experience was from the trip, they said meeting the homeowners. Pretty much everybody was enlightened by the experience. Everybody enjoyed building new friendships and that’s something they will keep for the rest of their lives. Also the hands-on experience of helping someone who doesn’t necessarily live as we do was memorable.
raising money since August. I didn’t really communicate with them much before the trip, and then the Sunday before they called me and asked if I wanted to stay with them at the volunteer center since a few people were unable to attend. I said yes, because I thought I would have a more rewarding experience if I stayed with them and did everything they did. FM: Did spending your Spring Break photographing Habitat
for Humanity change your perspective on society? BE: Yes. It amazed me to see so many people gather together to help others without gaining any benefits for themselves. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of. The entire trip gave me hope for society as a whole. Also, the girls from KC were a wonderful bunch of girls. I was impressed with how selfless they were. I enjoyed spending my Spring Break with them. ; 8
FM: How did you become involved with Habitat for Humanity? BE: At the beginning of this semester, I went to the instructor coordinating the trip, Tina Rushing, and asked about Habitat for Humanity. I explained that I was with The Flare and I wanted to do a photo essay, and I said I was going to use my own expenses to go since the girls had been 9
8 B.J. Roberts; 9 Justin Mathias, volunteer coordinator, and Christina LaRoux; 10 The work site in Fairfield, Alabama.
Firefighter Making of a
Trainees must take the heat to validate success n The Kilgore College Fire Academy on-site and online fire classes train and graduate more than 220 firefighters annually with an overall exemplary licensure pass rate of 98.5 percent. n 283 Canadian students have graduated from the course since 1998. Seven more Canadian students are expected to arrive in May. n The course is 482 hours and takes 13 weeks. n Must have a doctor’s release to certify their ability to lift the gear and perform the tasks required. n Gear includes PPEs (personal protection equipment), bunker coat, bunker pants, gloves, face shield and SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) which adds 50 - 80 lbs. per firefighter. n Must be physically fit and able to stand and run with the equipment on. Trainees are supposed to work out on their own time with their own regiment. n Firefighters learn forcible entry, hazardous materials, water supplies and ventilation. n Must pass all four IFSACS “shields” or sections to be certified: Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Hazmat awareness and Hazmat operations. n It all comes down to the fire commission exam and the state exam: Must pass with a minimum of 70 percent grade.
Compiled by JARRED CRENSHAW
~ Photo illustration by CARLOS PENA
Student firefighters participate in an end-of-the-semester controlled burn as part of the requirements for graduation from the KC Fire Academy No. 79. Eighteen of the 24 graduates are from Canada, a record for a single class.
Instructor shares his passion for arachnids By KASI DICKERSON
ith snake guards securely fastened around his legs, he excitedly walks through the Big Bend mountains. As the sand meshes into the grooves of his boots, he becomes lost in the starlit night and forgets that he is conducting class. For the moment he is 6 years old again and climbing the sand dunes with his father. He is not a teacher, but an explorer searching ancient and mysterious lands for the prize snake. Shining his UV light over the rocks, he suddenly snaps back to reality as he sees a florescent object crawling about a foot from his left boot. He motions to his students that he has found something while he carefully sneaks closer to the scorpion. With a steady hand, he draws his forceps close to the scorpion’s tail and catches it! Success!
“When I go out in the field, I still feel like a kid again,” said biology instructor Lynn McCutchen. Last year, McCutchen began teaching a Biology of the Arachnids course at Llano River Field Station in Junction, Texas, with his major professor, Ned Strenth. In this course, students have the opportunity to collect arachnids like spiders, ticks or scorpions from the 11 arachnid groups. “Because it is a field course the students just love it. They get to collect things and bring them back and identify them and see how they behave. It’s one of those fun courses because the students are almost more active than you,” McCutchen said. “Last year, we had a young lady who was a tarantula fanatic, and I learned more about tarantulas than I had in 55 years. It’s a better learning environment, plus the people that take the courses are like the teachers and they are in love with biology and nature.” The course is a four-hour course that is offered, this year, through Angelo State University. Graduate and undergraduate credit is available. Three graduates and two undergraduates enrolled in McCutchen’s class last year, but this year 10 students have signed up so far with the education levels ranging from a faculty member to a
community college student. “We’ll see how that works out, and hopefully by next year we’ll find some students from Kilgore that are interested,” McCutchen said. “If we could get some of our students in the course that will be the icing on the cake. It would be a good experience for biology majors to take a field course, especially with upper-level students who can give them some hints, helpful instructions and guidance.” As of now, McCutchen and Strenth have developed a lab manual, Power Points, lecture outlines and organized the field trips for the course. Whether sitting in a classroom listening to lectures or out in the field searching through caves and turning rocks, this three-week course is packed with activities. “It’s a field course so we spend pretty much every day in the field doing something and we collect right around Junction,” McCutchen said. “Every weekend we take a trip to West Texas around the Big Bend area, and we actually collect in the Black Gap.” Even though last year was the first time McCutchen offered the Biology of Arachnid course, it was not his first time to collect or research arachnids with Strenth. “We’ve been going to Mexico together
Right: Lynn McCutchen displays his pet of four years, an amblypygi that he collected in Mexico.
McCutchen collects arachnids in his Biology of Arachnid course held at Llano River Field Station in Junction, Texas. Pictured clockwise from left: Scorpion, Rio Grande Gold and Prokoenenia wheeleri.
for 30 years and we’ve become very good friends,” McCutchen said. “He’s right at 70 and he’s still as interested as the students. It’s nice to be around people who love what they do.” Texas is the only state in the U.S. where all 11 arachnid groups are represented and are reported as naturally occurring. According to the course website, a four-to-five-hour drive from the Texas Tech Llano River Field Station will bring students in contact with all the recognized major arachnid groups. This fact in itself is one of the reasons McCutchen and Strenth decided to create their own course. “We went to the American Arachnology meeting where we talked with very prominent arachnologists, and we were asking them about this or that particular group and we kept getting the same response (‘I have seen this group or that group’) and we realized that we’ve probably seen more of the different arachnid groups than most of the arachnologists there,” McCutchen said. “So we thought we ought to teach a course and get more students interested in arachnology. The idea was to get students at all levels.”
With his father working for El Paso Natural Gas, McCutchen remembers living in camps for the gas workers in “the middle of nowhere.” Living in the Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas country, McCutchen discovered arachnids at a young age. “We would always spend our days out in the desert on sand dunes or on the Monahans Sandhills. We picked up everything that we could think of and we raised it,” McCutchen said. “My interest piqued when I was taking biology courses at Angelo State University for my master’s.” McCutchen fondly remembers his first trip to the Pecos River. “When I took my first field trip it was in a plant course. I went out with a bunch of upper-level students and I was overwhelmed and intimidated because they knew all the plant names and every organism. They just had this tremendous background and depth of information,” McCutchen said. “On the Pecos River there were snakes and scorpions – anything you name it, it was out there. It was just so much fun that I made up my mind that I was going to sit down and work to make sure that when I went out
time we get out there it’s like Christmas “Every morning; there’s always something neat.
– Lynn McCutchen, biology instructor there again I would know a little bit more.” McCutchen attended McMurry College in Abilene, Texas Tech University, New Mexico Tech University, Angelo State University and the University of Texas at Tyler. Spending his summer at home working at the oil field in Oil Center, New Mexico, McCutchen met his future wife, Kim, while playing a volleyball game. While at first simple opponents in a game, McCutchen and Kim’s relationship grew after she wrote her number in the sand by his car. In 1977, Kim and McCutchen married. “We have just always had a lot of fun. We laugh a lot, and he has a good sense of humor; that’s what I like about him,” Kim said. “When we met he wasn’t a biologist yet; he was a geology major. After we married, he changed his college major five times and I finally said that’s it. You’re sticking with biology and he went on to get his master’s, and his first teaching job at Kilgore College.” Since 1983, McCutchen has not only been a faculty member at KC, but has also spent time as a KC student. “When I first came here I took one of Rufus Lovett’s classes and I realized I didn’t know that much about photography,” McCutchen said. After taking all of the black and white film and color photography classes, he decided to go ahead and earn a photography degree. “I wanted to take as many classes with Rufus as possible and I wanted to go through a Kilgore College graduation to see what it was like,” McCutchen said. While shooting an assignment at Caddo Lake, McCutchen captured more than just photographs; he was bitten by a brown recluse spider. After three days, his wife continually photographed the bite to keep their family and friends updated on his condition. The small bite on his thumb turned into a bad infection, landing him in the hospital. He eventually had to have four surgeries. “I’m pretty careful about where I put my hands now,” McCutchen said. “I thought I was careful before.” Regardless, he continues to collect arachnids.
“Every time we get out there it’s like Christmas morning; there’s always something neat,” McCutchen said. Today, his four-column brick house is not only home to his wife of 34 years, but to about 50 scorpions, one spider, one amblypygi and a lovable Great Dane. While many have the occasional scare with a spider in the shower, Kim says it’s only scary when she hears her husband open a container and say “Uh oh!” “One day he opened a container where the mom had a bunch of scorpion babies and he said ‘uh oh,’” Kim said. “I told him you better not lose any of them.” Before marriage, Kim was afraid of scorpions and spiders, but she says after 34 years of being married to a biologist she is used to it. In fact, Kim has camped out at the collecting site with McCutchen. “She’s put up with a lot,” McCutchen said. “She’s gone down to Mexico and camped out and bathed in rivers. Now she camps at the Holiday Inn.” Collecting has become a “fun family hobby” which began when the McCutchens brought their daughter, Kristina, out collecting when she was younger. Now every weekend when their two grandchildren visit, they go out on a search for amphibians, reptiles, arachnids and snakes. “My daughter was a wonderful little collector,” McCutchen said. “My grandson is interested in frogs and lizards now. He has turtles, frogs and lizards all over his house that he is raising. Seeing him interested makes me interested. It’s just like with students; if the student is interested the teacher is interested. And everything is new so we have to stop and look at everything and that’s always fun. Even my granddaughter who is only two is starting to get interested.” Next weekend McCutchen will lose all sense of reality as he will once again don the role of an explorer. With his grandchildren at his side, he will journey through the grassland behind his house in search for the next grand discovery, be it a common frog or a swift lizard. ;
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ASHLEY FORRESTIER
For me the creation of a photograph is experienced as a heightened emotional response, most akin to poetry and music, each image the culmination of a compelling impulse I cannot deny.
– Ruth Bernhard, photographer
[look at it this way]
~ CARLOS PENA
On point for a green revolution H
ow environmentally friendly a person is has become a status symbol in some circles. Whether or not you are green can severely affect the view others have on you. While Recyclops, the Earth Day alter ego of The Office’s Dwight Schrute who visits to educate people on how to go green, may be an example of going a little too far, there are many things any person can do to help out the environment. In order to make it easier to compare how green you truly are, there would have to be some way in which to subjectively compare yourselves to others. So, we have presented a simple point system designed to help you tally your score in becoming more green than your peers. Go green and earn more Eco-points.
Each of the following earns one Eco-point, because even though they help the environment they’re simply too easy, and all your friends can do them too:
n Recycling your paper, plastic and
aluminum. (Each piece of trash that is recycled earns an Eco-point.) n Going into restaurants rather than running your vehicle in the drive-thru lane. n Using reusable shopping bags rather than taking plastic home every time.
By JACOB ROOT
These will earn you three Eco-points: n Shop for produce at your local farmer’s
market. n Take shorter showers, not only to conserve water but also energy use. (Every minute over five, deduct three Ecopoints from total score.) n Air dry your clothes to reduce the use of machine drying.
This final set requires a lot of commitment, but allows for a greater return. These earn you five points:
n Install solar panels on your roof to power
your water heater. n Buy an environmentally responsible car. n Walk or bike to work. (Every minute walking or biking rather than driving earns five points.)
See where you stand!
Tally up your points and check your status.
1 - 5.........Green Giant 6 - 18.......Green Machine 19 - 27.......Green Genius
hese lists leave many things out, but we encourage you to discover your own ways of helping the environment, and if it helps, attribute a subjective number score to whatever action you take, and continue to tally your scores daily. This game is sure to become more popular than football. This will also ensure a much cleaner and longerlasting environment.
Being environmentally responsible is important because we don’t know that we will be the last people on this Earth. Those who come after us must also live on this planet. We call you to prove Recyclops’ declaration wrong: “Humans are terrible for the environment!” ; PHOTO BY ELIZABETH WISDOM ILLUSTRTATION BY ASHLEY FORRESTIER
Forgiveness divine, judgment still human
cacophony of sirens and horns shattered the tranquil day spent taking photos with a friend in Tyler. The source of the clamor became obvious as we approached in my car: thick smoke rose in the air as fire could be seen crashing against windows of a wood and brick building, setting the new dusk aglow. A church was burning. Years of journalism training kicked in as I turned over my car to my friend, pulled out my camera and started documenting the blaze from every possible angle for the next few hours. The inferno tore through the roof of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, severely damaging it. This incident was one of 10 intentionally ignited church fires by confessed arsonists Jason Robert Bourque and Daniel George McAllister. As it turns out, the images I took that night seem to comprise some of the most thorough visual documentation of any of the string of church arsons that plagued East Texas through January and February 2010. This fact led to their use in the investigation by the Texas Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Texas Rangers. However, I could not help but feel a pang of guilt when Tyler State District Judge Christi Kennedy condemned Bourque and McAllister, 19 and 21 respectively at the time of their arrests, to multiple life sentences. Though the crimes they committed were without a doubt reckless and dangerous, it just did not seem right to take two young people and destroy their lives for crimes that did not physically harm a single person. At the time I handed a DVD of my images over to the investigators, little was known about the motivations or intentions of the fire starters, and there was every reason to believe people at some point might even unwittingly be injured or killed if the blazes were to continue. However, only property and security was damaged, and those responsible mostly seem like angry and tragically lost youths. Even the pastors and congregations at the churches have widely spoken of their forgiveness for Bourque and McAllister, while simultaneously voicing their desires to move past the fear and destruction. Surely not everyone victimized feels the same way, but when the leaders of these churches speak with such compassion, it might beg the question as to why Judge Kennedy did not take a cue.
Firefighters battle a Jan. 17, 2010, blaze at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Tyler. The fire was part of a string of 10 church arsons across East Texas. While serial arson should not be met with a weak punishment, it must be noted that murderers have been handed weaker sentences. I still canâ€™t help but wonder what the results would have been like had the two torched any other type of structure.
The fires of the 2010 arson spree are long gone, and new roofs and buildings greet the affected congregations, but the questions about the sentences for two young men still burn. ;
By JAMIE MALDONADO
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Contributors Kasi Dickerson,
editor, is a freshman communicationseducation major from Van. She is also design editor of The Flare.
photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Longview. He will earn a Certificate in Photography in May and plans to pursue a graduate degree. Jamie Barr, advertising manager, is a sophomore communications major from Longview. He will graduate in May with an Associate of Arts degree and plans to transfer to Texas Tech to study advertising.
Ashley Forrestier, illustrator, is a freshman art major from Kilgore.
Briley Boren, photographer, is a freshman photography major from Center.
Cara Herbert, photographer, is a freshman photography major from Longview.
Meagan Brown, writer, is a sophomore journalism major from Kilgore. She is the executive editor of The Flare and will transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall.
Chelsea Hough, writer, is a freshman communications major from Hallsville. She is also assistant editor of The Flare.
Jarred Crenshaw, writer, is a freshman communications major from Hallsville. He is also a staff writer for The Flare. Bethany Ford, photographer, is a freshman dance major from Dallas. Betsy Foreman, writer, is a sophomore communications major from Longview. She is also assistant editor and advertising manager for The Flare.
Hayley Harris, photographer, is a freshman photography major from Kilgore.
Amanda Lattery, photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Gladewater. She is earning an Associate of Arts Degree and plans to transfer to a university to continue her studies in photography. Christopher Loewen, photographer, is a freshman art major from Seminole. Kaitlin McCullough, illustrator, is a sophomore graphic design major from Kilgore.
editor, is a freshman photography major from Van. She is also editor of The Ranger Yearbook.
photographer, is a sophomore photography major from Longview. She will earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in May and plans to continue her education at a university. Carlos PeĂąa, photographer, is a photography major from Longview. He will earn an Associate of Arts Degree in May and plans to continue his studies at Texas A&M University â€“ Commerce. Jacob Root, copy editor, is a sophomore English major from Longview. He is also a staff writer for The Flare. Stephanie Shipp, copy editor, is a sophomore communications-education major from Kilgore. She is managing editor of The Flare and will transfer to Texas A&M University in the fall. Heather Pilcher, photographer, is a photography major from Longview. Bonney Quine, photographer, is a sophomore art major from Richardson. Jon Vashey, campus photographer, lives in Kilgore and is enrolled in digital photography classes.
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