Texas Our Texas
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
A sign that spring has sprung — in odd-numbered years, at least — is when I get to host luncheons at the Governor’s Mansion for two special organizations, the Senate Ladies Club and Legislative Ladies Club. It is always fun to see long-time friends and meet new spouses. The luncheons this session were particularly special, since it was the first time in six years we were able to meet at the Governor’s Mansion.
I applaud the women who lead these groups. It’s a big commitment and they both make it appear effortless, although I know it’s not easy planning, coordinating and keeping everyone apprised of all the activities and events planned for the groups. Marie Aycock is president of the Legislative Ladies Club and Jennifer Estes is president of the Senate Ladies Club.
The Senate Ladies Club and Legislative Ladies Club were created in 1927 as social organizations for legislators’ wives, later expanding to include female legislators as more and more women began taking office. Today, there are 38 women serving in our State Capitol. Many more are also serving our state by being active in their communities and by supporting their husbands and each other during the often grueling legislative session.
Time and time again, Texas women have proven that they can achieve great things, and these ladies are no exception. I am proud to be an honorary member of both these clubs and to have the opportunity to meet with and learn from such extraordinary women.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Months before the Governor’s Mansion restoration was complete, I knew the first official event I wanted to host. It seemed only fitting to host former first families to the first official function. Today, the Governor and I had the honor and pleasure of welcoming members of former first families back to the Mansion. Many of these people attended a breakfast following the fire back in July 2008 to express their support of restoring the grand house. Four years later, they were able to tour—just as the media did on July 18—and see the magnificent restoration.
It was fun to hear stories and fond memories from their experiences in the house. One of the guests was married in the house. Another told of the time when Winston Churchill’s son, Randolph, visited the house. I was fascinated to hear of that visit as I had no idea and happen to be a big fan of Winston Churchill’s. And, Governor Mark White had no idea his sons had left a legacy carved under the stair banister until he heard it on the news a few weeks ago. History...it keeps on giving. And I am confident the beautifully restored Texas Governor’s Mansion will continue to be a part of history for another 150 years.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
When master builder Abner Cook drew the first plans for the Texas Governor’s Mansion in the 1850s, he couldn’t have anticipated the events the home would bear witness to over the next 150 years.
He couldn’t have known Gov. Connally would recover in the mansion from the gunshot wound he received while riding in President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas.First Lady Anita Perry points out the nail marks from Gov. Hogg’s famous distraction of banister-sliding for his children that remains part of the history of the Governor’s Mansion.He couldn’t have known Gov. Hogg would drive nails into the banister of the grand staircase to keep his children from sliding down it, or guessed the number of beloved family pets who would scamper around the grounds, or that the Queen of England would visit in 1991, five years after her son, Prince Charles, visited to help celebrate Texas’ 150th birthday.
He couldn’t have known that we very nearly lost “Texas’ front porch,” the iconic landmark he created, to a senseless arson in 2008.
But what he did know all those years ago is that Texas needed a home for the ages – the people’s house – a place governors and their families could call home that embodied the spirit of the young state, and stood out on Austin’s frontier landscape.
Mr. Cook’s vision became a reality in columns and brick, in the hustle of children playing on the grounds and the stillness of the porch on a Hill Country summer evening. And his legacy is one I’m proud to say will continue, because Texas refused to let an arsonist write the last page of the history book on the Governor’s Mansion.
Thanks to generous donations by Texans from all walks of life, the foresight of our leaders in the Legislature, and countless hours of hard work by dedicated preservationists, we not only restored the historic, one of a kind features that were damaged by fire, water and smoke, we also made some much needed improvements to help the Governor’s Mansion keep up with the times and stand ready for the future.
Not only is the people’s house now handicap accessible, but the new geoexchange system will provide more energy efficient heating and cooling, and has the 156 year old home on its way to receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and Austin Energy’s Green Building rating. These are things I think Mr. Cook would be proud of.
The story of the Governor’s Mansion started with the commitment of the Texas Legislature, was brought to life by Mr. Cook’s craftsmanship, and sustained by the more than 40 families that have called it home over the years. Rick and I are proud to see this Texas treasure restored, and can only imagine all that this home will bear witness to over the next 150 years.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
“Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision.” – Sam Houston
While I love that quote, I would take it one step further . . . the Governor’s Mansion is one of the finest places on the finest portion of the globe.
Today we celebrated the fine restoration of the house Abner Cook built back in 1836. Today is a day I’ll remember fondly for the rest of my life.
As I gave media tours today and walked through the meticulously restored rooms that look identical to the way they did before the fire, it felt like seeing an old friend. It felt like I had never left.
It was an exciting, historic day. I am confident the home will be standing in all its grandeur for the next 150 years.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
And the accolades just keep coming...in case you missed it, CNBC announced that Texas is America’s Top State for Business. This was according to CNBC’s sixth-annual study that scored all 50 states on 51 measures of competitiveness.
CNBC scored each state based on input from business groups and public information from the states themselves. Each state received points based on ten broad categories including: cost of doing business, workforce, economy, education, quality of life, technology and innovation, infrastructure & transportation, cost of living, business friendliness, and access to capital.
Texas’ economy continues to receive national recognition. The state added more new jobs over the past year than anywhere else in the country. Amazing!
Texas’ unemployment rate remains more than a full point below the national average. According to USA Today, Texas has surpassed New York as the nation’s second largest economy, and the Wall Street Journal has credited the state’s low taxes and employer-friendly environment with helping make Texas the job creation capital of the nation. Texas is the nation’s leading exporting state for the tenth year in a row, and was recently named the “Best State to Do Business” by CEO Magazine for the eighth year in a row. Texas consistently ranks among the top states for Fortune 500 headquarters.
We continue to be the land of plentiful and have much to be grateful for in the Lone Star State.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The saying, “it’s not bragging if it’s true” is especially fitting when it comes to spreading the word about our state’s great economic climate. Just today CNN Money credited Texas as one of the most entrepreneurial states, noting “Texas doesn’t mess with entrepreneurs. It’s tax-friendly, with no personal or corporate income tax. Regulations don’t change frequently. Labor and housing costs are reasonable.” And we’ve also struck gold when it comes to our job creation and economic success, winning Area Development’s Gold Shovel Award. The magazine has added its voice to the chorus of national publications praising Texas’ low taxes, predictable regulations, fair legal system and skilled workforce. Texas has been recognized each year since the magazine began the awards, receiving the Gold Shovel in 2008, and Silver Shovels in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Pretty impressive!
Shovel awards are presented to states that have achieved significant success in job creation and economic impact. Participating states submit information about their top 10 job creation and investment projects, which are compared to projects in other states with comparable populations based on the number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities, and industry diversity. Here in Texas we are obviously doing something right. It’s nice to be recognized for a job well done!
Monday, May 28, 2012
Memorial Day: a day of picnics, barbecues and family gatherings.
For most, the mention of this holiday connotes the beginning of summer, a relaxing time of year to create lasting and fond, family memories. Military families and veterans know this as a much different holiday. This is a day to remember and be thankful for those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy every single day.
For soldiers who served during a war or conflict, Memorial Day is emotional. Many veterans mark the day by attending services, sharing stories and shedding tears.
It’s important to celebrate the freedom and blessings we know as the American Dream, the land of freedom and opportunity. But let us never forget those who willingly laid down his or her own life.
As someone once said, “a hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: a child goes missing.
Every year in America, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day. Of that number, 200,000 are abducted by family members, and 58,000 are abducted by non-family members. The primary motive for non-family abductions is sexual. Each year 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions, taken by non-family members and either murdered, held for ransom, or taken with the intent to keep. National Missing Children’s Day is May 25th and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) urges parents to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about their safety.
“We know teaching children about safety works,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. “It is important that parents take the time to talk to their children about safety.”
An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 81percent of the cases, children escaped would-be abductors through their own actions, such as yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention.
May 25th is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school, and this day has been observed as National Missing Children’s Day since 1983 when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan. Etan’s story captivated the nation, and still does. His photo, taken by his father, a professional photographer, was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world. The powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families. America was again captivated by Etan’s story as the search for him continues. He is still missing.
NCMEC is the leading nonprofit organization dealing with the issues of missing and sexually exploited children and operates a 24-hour toll free national hotline for reporting missing children. NCMEC has played a role in the recovery of more than 175,234 children, and today, more children come home safely than ever before and more of those who prey upon children are being identified and prosecuted. Yet too many children are still missing and too many children are still the victims of sexual exploitation. There is much more that needs to be done, and you can do your part by following the steps outlined in the Take 25 Campaign.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Yesterday I visited the Dallas Arts District to speak at Travel Rally Day. Travel Rally Day is designed to promote and celebrate the important economic impact that travel and tourism have on our state and local economies and to encourage Texans to travel in Texas. Tourism is one of my priorities as First Lady. It’s an industry that pumps billions into the economy each year. It’s always a pleasure to speak at Travel Rally Day and see the passion and enthusiasm of people affiliated with this industry.
I love the Dallas Arts District — both because of the truly exceptional work being done there and also because it’s the realization of the dreams of an entire community. It wasn’t too long ago that the district was nothing more than a shared vision, an idea about how to best tap into the creative and economic power of Dallas and that region. Decades later, the district stands to show that by coming together, developing a plan and executing that plan with hard work and determination you can achieve something that is truly a success on many levels: economically, spiritually and artistically.
Texas tourism in its own way is a success story not unlike the Dallas Arts District.
As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” The story of Texas tourism is certainly one of success.
In 2011, 208.3 million domestic travelers visited destinations in our state, making it one of the best years for tourism in Texas history.
It gets better.
Total visitor spending in Texas was $63 billion in 2011, a 10 percent increase over 2010 and the highest spending on record.
Now, would Henry Ford consider that success? Certainly progress.
But if his definition of success is “working together”… well, we have that covered, too.
The travel and tourism industry supported more than 530,000 jobs last year. These job spread all across the state from the Gulf Coast to the Plains of West Texas and all points in between. Hundreds of thousands of families have their livelihood, their prosperity directly tied to tourism.
If you want to talk about Travel Matters (the slogan for Texas Tourism), that’s where it really matters.
If you think all those jobs are in the big cities, that’s simply not true. Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting San Angelo and Victoria — two smaller Texas towns that have made a real commitment to preserving the lifestyle and culture that make those places unique.
Those are just two of the dozens and dozens of smaller Texas towns which are working to retain local character and flavor. While there are obvious benefits to the people who live there, it also makes those places a must-see for tourists bringing in untold numbers of people who enjoy the charm and distinctive style of small-town Texas.
And those people come back to Texas…again and again.
There’s a special feeling you get when visiting our state that is hard to capture anywhere else.
And, of course, our top visitor destinations have so much to offer travelers. This year, in fact, will see some exciting new and improved attractions across the state…such as a totally new water park at Sea World San Antonio…a brand-new Pleasure Pier on Galveston Island…and “The Park,” a wonderful new outdoor gathering place in Dallas.
Of course, Texas’ appeal isn’t tied to any one amusement park, one attraction or one city.
Texas’ appeal is spread throughout an industry’s worth of friendly, helpful and talented people working in hotels, restaurants, museums and any number of other capacities.
Our state has been abundantly blessed with great natural beauty. Our weather that may trend a little warm at times but is generally pretty nice and we have locations rich with culture and history.
However, it’s our friendly Texas nature and our welcoming attitude that may be our biggest blessings of all.
People come to Texas because of our attractions and they come back because of our people.
That’s important because every year we face the renewed challenge of competition from other states. Many of these states sink significant state resources into marketing and promoting their destinations.
Texas does have significant advantages over most of them. Honestly, how many states can offer beaches, the Alamo and the Texas Rangers, all within a few hours’ drive? However such advantages don’t last long without having the people in place to make each and every visit a pleasure.
That’s why Texas is, and will remain, indebted to the hard-working men and women of our hospitality industry.
Did you know that Texas generates $7 in state taxes for every $1 spent on out-of-state advertising.
Again, Travel Matters!
Monday, May 07, 2012
This week honors a profession near and dear to my heart, National Nurses Week.
Having worked in the profession for 17 years in a variety of positions in the areas of surgery, pediatrics, intensive care, administration and teaching, I was honored to help patients during those years, from those taking their first breaths to those taking their last.
My husband likes to call me “First Nurse,” and it’s a moniker I’m proud to wear. Healthcare has been in my blood since I was a little girl, and some of my fondest memories are from my teenage years of helping my father, the country doctor, in his office. I knew early on that my preferred profession was nursing.
Perhaps it’s not uncommon for nurses to feel the calling, the passion of nursing at an early age. I’ve heard a number of times through the years of people who aspired to be nurses when they were quite young.
Caring, nurturing, hard working, flexible, strong interpersonal skills...these are characteristics shared by nurses. It’s certainly not an easy field to pursue so it takes a person who is dedicated and committed. I have great admiration for nurses, who make a positive difference in so many people’s lives every single day.
Fittingly, Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
It’s been described by many as “life changing” and when I hear that it’s music to my ears. I’m referring to the Texas Conference for Women, Texas’ largest personal and professional development event for women.
It’s only six months from now and it’s not too early to register. Early bird registration opened this week for the 13th Annual Texas Conference for Women, which will be held at the Austin Convention Center on Wednesday, October 24, 2012.
Nationally recognized speakers and leaders from Texas and across the nation will share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of topics including career advancement, money management, health and wellness, small business and entrepreneurship, social media and branding and more.
In years prior, attendees have benefited from the talent and wisdom of such trailblazers and nationally known trailblazers and experts. The 2012 speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition to the keynotes and dozens of breakout sessions, attendees can attend Local Leader Meet Ups for the chance to have one-on-one conversations with local businesswomen and community leaders, and Expert Exchange sessions offer a focused discussion with industry veterans. Conference attendees also have the opportunity to participate in the popular Career Pavilion, featuring free resume reviews by human resource experts, Mentor Match (one-on-one “speed mentoring” sessions with local career coaches and executives), workshops on communication skills and social media, and much more.
The Conference Health & Wellness Pavilion showcases speakers and companies dedicated to improving women’s health, while an onsite Exhibit Hall boasts hundreds of organizations and companies with products or services that appeal to women.
An early bird rate of just $125 per person, $1200 per table of 10, $230 for a group of two and $60 for students is available through May 24. To register or learn more about the 13th Annual Texas Conference for Women, visit the Web site at Texas Women’s Conference Website , follow the Conference on Twitter at Texas Women’s Conference on Twitter , visit the Facebook page at Texas Women’s Conference on Facebook , or find us on Pinterest at Texas Women’s Conference on Pinterest How’s that for being plugged in!
I hope you’ll join us for a day that promises to be inspiring, motivating and just plain fun!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
As a nurse, I’ve seen the impact that underage drinking can have on young people, through death, injury, or problems later in life. As a parent, though, I know both how hard it is to have the discussion with your children about alcohol and how important that lifesaving discussion can be. Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by teens, but three-quarters of all kids say parents are the number one influence on their decision to drink or not to drink.
That’s why I’m proud to support PowerTalk 21® on April 21st—the national day for parents to talk with their children about underage drinking. MADD’s Power of Parents™ program, created in partnership with Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. Robert Turrisi, provides guidance for talking with teens about the dangers of drinking before age 21, and is based on research proven to help reduce underage drinking by as much as 30 percent.
You can download a parent handbook free of charge. This handbook provides tips and conversation starters and can help you answer the difficult questions your kids may have about alcohol.
On April 21st, please start the conversation with your kids about underage drinking, and help keep the next generation of Texans safe.