Texas Our Texas
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Kyle Lewis, a native of Arlington with a passion for baseball, dirt bikes and making other people smile, would have been 10 years old in May.
After swimming in a lake with family in 2010, Kyle lost his life to a microscopic organism called Naegleria fowleri. An amoeba that thrives in warm, fresh water, this organism infects the nervous system through the nose and causes meningitis, with symptoms ranging from headaches and fevers to loss of balance, seizures and hallucination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 100 Americans have been infected with Naegleria fowleri since 1962 — and only one has survived. Infection can lead to death in as little as five days.
Kyle’s parents started a foundation called Kyle Cares to raise awareness of this deadly amoeba. As a former nurse and a mother, I’m so proud of these fellow Texans for taking this opportunity to share Kyle’s story. No parent wants to lose a child, and the Lewis family is working hard to educate the public throughout the country so that no family has to suffer the same tragic loss and grief.
According to the CDC, while infections with Naegleria fowleri are rare, they occur mainly during the summer months of July, August, and September. Infections are more likely to occur in southern-tier states, but can also occur in other locations. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels.
Monday, June 10, 2013
OK you history buffs – here’s a quiz:
Who was the first president to visit Texas?
Since it was more than 100 years ago, perhaps you’d prefer a question about a more recent historic event:
What year did Queen Elizabeth visit the Governor’s Mansion?
Soon you’ll be able to tour the Governor’s Mansion from the comfort of your home and learn interesting tidbits such as these, along with many more . . .
That’s because I recently taped a tour of the Mansion that will be posted on the Office of the Governor’s Website. The tour will take you through all of the public rooms downstairs and includes a little history about each room. I’m really excited about this virtual tour because it allows us to share this Texas treasure with you, even if you can’t make the trip to Austin.
(P.S. Still scratching your head to the questions above? Here you go: William McKinley in 1901; 1991.)
Monday, May 20, 2013
As First Lady, I am privileged to have the opportunity to meet Texans from all walks of life and hear their stories. One of the things I enjoy most is getting to say “thank you” to members of our military and first responders. Their dedication, their willingness to place themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others, is what keeps our state and nation strong and secure.
That’s why I am so proud to support Carry The Load, an organization founded in Texas that helps Americans across the nation remind those brave men and women that we value their service.
As Memorial Day approaches, I encourage you to visit CarryTheLoad.org to learn more. Memorial Day is not just a school holiday or a day off from work — it is a time of solemn and sincere thanks for the selflessness of those working to keep our communities safe. Carry The Load seeks to bring the true meaning back to this important day of remembrance and to support military veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters and their families.
Whether by participating in the annual Memorial Day relay, donating, volunteering or even getting a green camo license plate for your car, there are so many ways you can honor our heroes. They have earned our deepest respect and thanks.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
When this group arrived at the Governor’s Mansion for their 10 a.m. tour this morning, they had no idea they’d be part of history. But, they are! This is the first public tour of the Mansion since the restoration was completed. Beginning today, public tours of the Mansion are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Eric Boedy with the State Preservation Board is the Mansion reservationist and can be reached at 512-305-8524.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Today I’d like to take a break from business to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have prayed for me and my family during this difficult time. Losing a family member, especially a parent, is never easy, but Rick and I have been deeply comforted by the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, colleagues and former patients of my father’s.
Sept. 30, 1920 – April 16, 2013
Daddy was a great man who served as an example of courage, determination and compassion for me and all who knew him. As a pilot, he served his country in WWII; as a physician for 50 years, he served others. He was part of “The Greatest Generation.” As a wise and compassionate physician, his broad and diverse knowledge of medicine was surpassed only by his understanding of his patients’ needs. From delivering babies to delivering medical advice, he treated his patients as if they were his family. I was lucky enough to call this amazing man, ‘Daddy.’
Although I will miss him dearly, I know he is still with us in spirit and I will always be guided by his love, compassion and life lessons he taught me. And, I thank God for the long and full life he lived.
Sadly, countless other Texans have experienced this same loss after the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. I hope you will join me in praying for strength and grace for all the families who have lost loved ones in these tragedies.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” –S. D. Gordon
Easter has long been one of my family’s favorite holidays. A symbol of hope, resurrection and new life, it is an opportunity to come together with family and friends and celebrate our many blessings.
This year, Rick and I invited the Governor’s office staff and their families to an Easter egg hunt at the Governor’s Mansion. It was a way not only to say thank you for their hard work, but also to carry on an old tradition. The sound of children’s laughter echoing on the lawn of the newly restored Governor’s Mansion was truly joyful.
After celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the beginning of spring, I was inspired to breathe new life into this blog. I hope you will join me as I continue to chronicle life as First Lady of the best state in the nation: Texas!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty and in the point of life.” He was talking, of course, about the city in France. But the same is true of Paris, Texas.
In my last post, I wrote about celebrating new life. Paris is doing just that thanks to a commitment by its people to both preserve and reinvigorate its rich history. Paris is home to nearly two centuries of stories embodied by historic sites, museums, a quaint Main Street to stroll down and, of course, the signature Eiffel Tower replica topped with a ten-gallon hat. It’s a place where families and family businesses grow and thrive. It’s a place Texans love to visit because of its charm and history.
Not only is preservation a vital part of strong communities, what many have said about history is true: we can only prepare for the future by learning from the past. Each year since 2009, I have had the privilege of presenting the First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award to remarkable towns in all corners of our state that have dedicated themselves to maintaining and promoting their heritage. I am proud to say that Paris truly deserves the recognition as the 2013 First Lady Texas Treasure award.
The “Second Largest Paris in the World” is a jewel of a town, honoring its past while preparing for a bright future ahead. I hope you and your family have the opportunity one day to visit this true Texas Treasure.
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.