I’M SURE GLAD YOU decided to exclude Belton Lake from your “Water, Water Everywhere” story [June 2006]. Maybe it will stay one of the most gorgeous, least crowded, clearest, and most enjoyable lakes in the state.

HOW COULD YOU LEAVE OFF the state’s number one bass-fishing lake, Lake Alan Henry, near Post?

I LOOKED ALL THROUGH this month’s issue for a nod to Somerville Lake, and nothing. Not only is it one of the first man-made lakes in Texas, but back in the sixties, it was the place where the famous Batboat was tested before it hooked up with Batman Adam West. Now, that’s fame.
College Station

Mystery Science Theater

NO, NO, NO, NO! I can’t believe that smart folks like y’all haven’t figured out the Marfa lights yet [“The Truth Is Out There,” June 2006]. In the town of Marfa, you have your night for the PTA, your church night, your poker night, and, of course, your assigned night to go out into the desert and run around with lights and puzzle the tourists and the scientists. It’s a source of deep satisfaction for these folks, and children eagerly await the time when they too can contribute to the mystery. I know that with their civic pride, the good citizens of Marfa will neither allow the lights to die nor tolerate their being disparaged.

I THINK THERE EXISTS a valid contradiction to Michael Hall’s findings, which likely preceded his cumulative observations by some years. I am of sufficient age to recall that during World War II, there was gasoline rationing, which essentially precluded casual nighttime or daytime driving. The country roads in and around Marfa in those days were conspicuously silent. Hence, the Marfa lights would necessarily have originated from sources other than automobile headlights.

Try again, Michael.
Rancho Cucamonga, California

MY HUSBAND AND I VISITED West Texas for the first time in May 2004, and Marfa was among our stops. In fact, we were at the Marfa lights viewing center on one of the nights the Society of Physics Students from the University of Texas at Dallas were performing their “research,” which seemed to include a lot of mishandling of various lights and miscommunication on walkie-talkies with what I assumed were some of their cohorts a few miles away.

While this was entertaining enough, we were also quite taken by the crowd’s oohs, aahs, and proclamations about seeing the work of God in Marfa’s “lights,” which, to us at least, were quite obviously car headlights. It’s amazing what people will be suckered into when they want to believe badly enough. We overheard one man—whose IQ seemed about thirty points higher than the rest of those assembled, including the physics students—mention to a couple that the City of Marfa had intentionally built the viewing center so that it faced not where the lights were most often seen but rather the faraway road with a continuous stream of cars. Brilliant. And in fact, when we did later see what we thought might have been a Marfa light, it was about 40 degrees off of where we’d previously been watching.

I’m still not sure we saw what we went looking for. But between the “researchers” and the gullible crowd and the hilarity that ensued among them—not to mention the beautiful clear night skies that West Texas afforded—we felt like we’d experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event nonetheless.

Money Matters

I CAN AGREE WITH DR. LEININGER on one point: Many Texas schoolchildren are in need of help [“Money Talks,” June 2006]. More funding for public schools would provide the necessary assistance. Dr. Leininger asserts that his intent is simply to provide school choice and that parents can use vouchers to attend other public schools. In reality, vouch­e­r programs such as those touted by Dr. Leinin­ger would drain billions of dollars from public schools, further restricting their ability to address the academic and social needs of our students. Public education struggles to meet unfunded state and federal mandates, improve graduation rates and college readiness, attract and retain qualified personnel, and provide remediation for struggling students. Now is not the time to send public funds to private schools.

Dr. Leininger asserts that the education community is a special-interest group that is committed to the status quo even if the current system traps students in failing schools. First, choice does exist in the form of intra-district transfers, magnet programs, and charter schools. Second, the special interests in Austin are those committed to supporting vouchers that would divert funds needed by the public education system to storefront for-profit schools or online “virtual” schools. Educators, on the other hand, are committed to fighting for the funding needed to ensure that every child in the state of Texas can be successful now and in the future.
President, Alief ISD Board of Trustees

Eyes of the Storm

FINALLY SOMEONE IS TELLING the world how we in Southeast Texas have been treated [Behind the Lines, “Blown Away,” June 2006]. We returned the Sunday following Hurricane Rita armed with supplies, gas, water, and a generator. We cut our way into our home and for a week never saw a living soul within a mile of our home. We got ice from the National Guard on the next Tuesday, and it was all we got for another week. Thanks for putting out there the frustration we all feel.


I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR EDITORIAL about Hurricane Rita. Being a Beaumont/Texas Gulf Coast resident most of my fifty years, I was beginning to wonder if what happened to us was just a figment of our area’s collective imagination. It is frightening to read in your article about counties going bankrupt due to the damage in their areas. As always, though, we are Texans, and we can and will take care of our own and go on to be stronger and better! Thanks for your comments—and keep talking about it so it is not forgotten.