Eagles in the News

September 2009

For Andie and Dennis Townsend, being a fan of Abilene High is more than a pastime.

It’s a way of life.

Andie Townsend comes by it naturally, having graduated from AHS in 1969 and spent more than two decades on the faculty as a Spanish teacher. Her husband, who grew up in Pennsylvania before attending McMurry, also has ties to the school dating back more than 30 years. Now an assistant principal for Abilene High’s ninth-grade academy, he previously taught history, speech and psychology.

The couple’s two children are also AHS grads — son Javan in the Class of 1998 and daughter Adrienne in the Class of 2002.

So there will be no questions of where their loyalties lie Friday when the Eagles and Cooper Cougars hook up for their crosstown showdown at Shotwell Stadium.

“We have season tickets. The reason why is so we are assured of a place to sit,” Andie Townsend said. “As teachers, we’re in the spirit of things as much as the students. We really get into the game and supporting our students, supporting our football players, the band, our cheerleaders and just the students being fans.”

And being on the faculty doesn’t interfere with enjoying the games.

“I don’t perceive anything being different,” Andie said. “We’re just all out there to support our team and to rally them on.”

Eagles coach Steve Warren said the Townsends have been loyal in their support even through the lean times.

“They were fans when there wasn’t a lot of people coming,” Warren said. “It makes me feel good that we’re able to fill that stadium up every time that we play with fans who are proud of our team. We’ve been able to build that fan base over the last several years and it’s a great one. I don’t know anybody who does a better job than our fans.”

Abilene High’s run of 10 consecutive playoff seasons has just been that much more enjoyable.

“With the Eagles community, that support has always been there,” Andie said. “But it is much sweeter now than what is has been in the past.”

The Townsends are part of a growing segment of fans who continue their support even after their children have left home.

“Andie and Dennis are both very positive supporters of ours and always have been, even when their kids have graduated,” Warren said. “I think we’ve got a lot of fans that way. They’re just a sample of what we do have. We’ve got a lot of people who have had kids go through here and play for us that have enjoyed it and stuck with us and become supporters all the time.”

And the reason for that, Andie said, is simple: “It’s the students.”

“It’s a great feeling,” she said. “The spirit gets pumped up at its height and the kids are exciting. It just gets the Eagle blood going.

“The students really get into the spirit of the week. We have things going on every day and I’m sure Cooper does, too. They’re still focused on their studies and what they have to do academically, and that doesn’t faze them because they know what they’re supposed to do academically. But when it comes to Friday, it’s a different day because the spirit’s up.”

It’s an atmosphere that has been the same pretty much since the first meeting in the series in 1961.

“There’s always been the rivalry,” Andie said. “I graduated from Abilene High. The rivalry was really stronger and thicker through all those years. I don’t think the district changes that we’ve had has changed much within the community. It’s still the same feelings. Crosstown rivalries will always be there and as long as you have two schools it doesn’t matter what district we’re in. The rivalry will still be there. The hype and everything that we’re feeling hasn’t changed much either throughout the years.

“As far as teaching them, it’s just the same. We’re wanting to beat Cooper as much as Cooper’s wanting to beat us.”

The trick, she said, is to not let that interfere with classwork before the final bell rings on gameday.

“Usually on Fridays, it just depends,” she said. “We have the pep rally and the kids are hyped up and everything. In order to keep the kids’ attention, I try to come up with a game for them to play. Not necessarily having anything to do with the week and to not slow down or anything, but knowing they’re not going to be focused that day. We try to do something to incorporate some fun activity that’s related to our subject.”


 History of the blade learned through Tech museum exhibit

Sunday, September 06, 2009
When most think of swords, they bring to mind legions and armies of long ago, or perhaps they recall seeing swords used in duels or close quarter combat on the wide screen.
The sport of fencing strikes one as a refined challenge, one perhaps learned more often in more aristocratic homes.
The actual sword, however, is relatively unknown as a physical artifact, and visitors are certain to be intrigued when they visit a four-gallery exhibit of swords at the Museum of Texas Tech, 3301 Fourth St., called "A Double-Edged Weapon: The Sword as Icon and Artifact."  The exhibit will remain at the museum through Oct. 25.  It includes more than 100 different swords, reflecting periods of history sometimes separated by centuries.
David Dean, assistant director at the Museum of Texas Tech, said, "The sword shaped the development of major civilizations, and today provides a clear road map of each society's technological advancements toward modern times.  This is a significant and important exhibition for Lubbock, as the used of edged weapons and tools helped shape the evolution of our society. Not many people carry swords nowadays, but improvements in metallurgy and the use of edged tools influenced the settlement of the United States, Texas and South Plains as recently as the early 20th century."
Dean added, "The sheer technological virtuosity displayed in these metallic implements shines a bright light on human ingenuity through the ages.  The myths and legends surrounding swords point to the innate human desire to show power and prowess through the objects we create."
Swords became famous in the process.  The visual impact of such weapons found Viking warriors personifying their blades with bold names.  Dean also showed how swords could become legendary figures in their own right, such as Roland's Durendal, Charlemagne's Joyeuse and King Arthur's Excalibur.
Gary Edson, executive director of the Museum of Texas Tech, pointed out, "The blade has been a part of every culture in the world. When it no longer was used in warfare, it became an instrument used to define office or rank.  In fact, it has been seen as a fashion statement as much as a tool for defense."
Mind you, Edson is aware of the influence the sword has on the masses.  He explained, "We saw this exhibit as one having mass appeal. The blade has been a part of popular cinema since the first early movies were made.  It remains popular today with such movies as 'Star Wars,' 'Kill Bill' and "Pirates of the Caribbean.' People of all ages are fascinated by the blade."
This particular exhibit stands out, said Edson, "because of its broad appeal. People of all ages and backgrounds find the blade a fascinating icon and artifact. Some are drawn to the craftsmanship, while others view the sword as merely a relic from the past.  Actually, those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Both bring people to the exhibition and to visit the museum."
In the late 1500s, the rising use of firearms found sword makers forced to diversity.
Armor could not stand up to gunpowder, and swords took on new forms for civilians. The rapier, popular during the Renaisance, led to more delicate swords.
Asked how weapons helped define cultures, Edson replied, "The exhibition demonstrates the unique features of the blade as it crossed social and cultural boundaries.  The cutting edge was always important. But shape and defining characteristics of the sword as a cultural manifestation differ. Long, short, curved, decorated, serrated, cutting, stabbing, holding or carrying each blade has a design to fit its purpose, and the purpose was culturally motivated."
One part of the exhibit, for example, reveals how the expansion of Islam into central Asia brought contact with the curved swords favored by mounted warriors.   By the 1500s, the characteristic curved shape of the Islamic sword was well established.
While visitors have a good time noting the difference between ceremonial swords and one preferred by, say, the executioner, Edson stressed that there is much to learn.
"The exhibition is about technology in the form of metallurgy, as much as it is about a double-edged weapon.  The development of the blade prompted advancements in the metal-working craft, and, with those advancements, new blades were shaped and made available - both for warfare and for fashion.   It is an interesting point of reference that these two elements developed together."  


Jan Nunally Lineweaver was named Teacher of the Year by the Optimist Club. 

She retired this year after 30 years of teaching.



June 23, 2009

If you see Billy Enriquez riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle near Abilene, please drive carefully. He may be daydreaming.

“I don’t go very far,” he said, “but I like to ride for a couple of hours. It gives me time to think of new ideas. I should be paying attention to the road, but sometimes I’m daydreaming. I want to help people.”

And he’s helped many people in Abilene in the last 15 years — so many, in fact, that Tuesday he received an award as the Minority Small Business Champion of the Year from the U.S. Small Business Administration. He was honored as the top minority business advocate in the Lubbock district, which covers 71 counties in West Texas and is one of six districts in Texas.

“This shows how one person can make a difference for a community,” said Herbert L. Johnston, district director, “and it shows what small businesses can do for a community.”

The award was presented during a meeting of the Hispanic Business Council of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Enriquez is a past chairman of the council and owner of several local automobile businesses. His community activities include membership on the Critical Needs Task Force for the Abilene Independent School District.

Samuel Garcia, another local businessman, called Enriquez “a man of action. He’s personal about it. He doesn’t just sit there.” Garcia and Sledge are co-directors of the upcoming Fiesta Mercado.

Mike McMahan, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said Enriquez is able to help local people start businesses “because he been in their shoes. He un derstands how it is. He’s out there to help, large or small, business or individual.”

Enriquez, who moved to Abilene from Monahans at the age of seven, graduated from Abilene High School in 1969 and McMurry University in 1973. “I have always been intrigued by automobiles,” he explained. “I knew from an early age I would be involved with automobiles and own my own business.

“But I didn’t do it by myself,” he continued. “I had a support group and a desire to be successful.”

Enriquez is married, and he and his wife Tina have two children, Heather, a 2009 graduate of AHS now preparing for her college career, and Rick, a Rotan resident who works in the health care and medical industry.

“I’ve worked 15 years trying to bring resources to struggling businesses here,” Enriquez said. “I’ve helped Hispanic business owners and tried to make an impact. I was raised here, went to school here and owned a business here. People gravitate to me.”

Also at the council meeting, plans were announced for the second annual Fiesta Mercado on Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Abilene Civic Center for Hispanic-owned and small businesses. The chairwoman-elect of the council, Joyce Sledge of JS Design, was introduced by the current chairwoman, Liz Phariss of Kinder Hearts Home Health.

Four new members of the council’s executive committee were also presented. They are James Lemon, Jesse Cardenas, Marci Payne and Liz Nunez.


January 2009

UNT Printing and Distribution Services recently received 10 awards from the national In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association. The competition includes entries from about 22,000 corporations, universities and nonprofit organizations. Nineteen awards were presented to Texas entries; UNT earned 10 of those. A total of 79 awards were presented nationally. The awards are for work completed in 2008, says Jimmy Friend, director of Print and Distribution services. Awards are based on design and quality of production. Awards included 5 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze.

The IPMA is an organization for university and corporate publishing and distribution services. The association provides services to in-house professionals and staff that provide graphic design, page layout, copy, print, mail and distribution services to organizations. Jimmy Friend, director of Printing and Distribution Services says, "Winning the awards is exciting, not only for our department, but for the university. This has been a true team effort, and our entire department is vested in maintaining the level of quality necessary for submission to this competition. We competed with large, nationally known in-plant printers, so the university is receiving additional name recognition at a high level."


 A peek inside Dallas architect Ron Wommack's
award-winning home

02:24 PM CST on Monday, January 26, 2009

See the article and leave comments online at The Dallas Morning News

Neighbors hardly knew what to think when the linear stone, glass and steel compound started going up on the once-weedy corner lot.  After all, this was the ungentrified end of Douglas Avenue.  Modest single-story houses were the norm in Clifton Place, a neighborhood just west of Oak Lawn.

What was it going to be? The view from the street: dual concrete boxes forming a two-car garage on the right, and, on the left, a glass-walled main structure. Each was topped with a steeply slanting roof of steel pipe columns and slatted beams that cantilevered out on one side, dappling everything underneath in shadows.

On the street side of the quarter-acre lot, a concrete-block wall created the urban equivalent of an Old World courtyard, with gated entryways on either end forming a breezeway. The south-facing gate also served as front entry, framing a postcard view of downtown's skyscrapers.

With landscaping yet to come, the structure had a vaguely commercial look. (The heavy glass doors and expansive windows were originally manufactured for retail storefronts.) There was speculation it would be everything from a dental office to a mechanic's garage. One man even stopped by to apply for a job.

All of which still amuses Ron Wommack. The Dallas architect designed the project in partnership, at least on a practical and emotional level, with his wife, Monica, to be the couple's full-time home.

The result is a sharp contrast to Wommack's commissioned projects, which include modernist rehabs of downtown's Mitchell Lofts and Powerstation condos.

"When you get an opportunity to do something for yourself," he says, "you can make it as structural as you want without having to add in a lot of design flourishes."

And that may be what drew the attention of the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects, which named Wommack's inner-city marvel best in show in its 2008 design competition. Among the judges was LA-based architect Thom Mayne, the 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner currently at work on the new Dallas Museum of Nature & Science building.


"It's beautiful without any sense of decadence," says Mayne of the home's simplicity and restraint in an era of excess. "It emphasizes quality over quantity, which is not an American aesthetic at all. I found it magnificently detailed."

Of course, the Wommack house is way beyond a vanity project. This is home.  More than a year after moving in, the Wommacks are still fussing with Ron's growing collection of Noguchi lamps and hunting the perfect Knoll fabric to recover a set of vintage Mies van der Rohe "Brno" chairs. "We didn't want a really traditional place," Monica says, then glances around. "Well, obviously." 


Sitting in their garden on a sunny late fall afternoon, the Wommacks take note of a chipper mockingbird in the lull between a jet plane rumbling toward Love Field and a big rig jostling down nearby Maple Avenue. This is the simple life, urban remix.


"We wanted to see what we could really boil everything down to," says Ron, eyes framed by owlish black glasses de rigueur for architects from Le Corbusier to Philip Johnson to I.M. Pei. "What is the bare minimum we think we can live with?"  Turns out, 1,675 square feet – space that visually doubles thanks to glass walls that look out onto the courtyard of bamboo, grass and limestone quarried in Lueders, Texas.


Sustainability was another theme. Ron, an Abilene native who trained under Texas minimalist masters Bud Oglesby and Frank Welch, tipped his own hat here to regional architecture by sourcing as many local materials as possible. Even the German Rheinzink metal used for the home's exposed skeleton arrived by way of the Granbury, Texas, courthouse, which had just enough of the material left after a renovation.


Wommack based the home's design on the time-honored concept of a feather and a stone: "The stone is what anchors it to the site, giving it a gravity and earthiness. The feather is the steel structure that sort of hovers above it, and the glass, which is very ephemeral and light. It's the paradox of the two qualities that gives the space a kind of tension, an edge."

Monica provided her own grounding influence. Brushing aside spiky, blonde bangs, she recalls how Ron loved the home midconstruction, when it was just a steel roof and supports, and fantasized leaving it as a pavilion in the garden.


"That's what all of this has been about?" she asked at the time. "You just want a damn picnic pavilion – I want a house."  The couple laughs now, but construction lasted a grueling 15 months and included the "wettest January since 1898." Monica looked it up.

"We analyzed materials to death," Ron admits. "We pored over our samples and talked through everything. It's a really fun process but can also be a very destructive process if

the couple has not already been litmus-tested to do something like this together."

The Wommacks were better equipped than most. Aside from their professions (Monica does marketing for a Fort Worth architecture and engineering firm), the duo previously partnered to renovate the midcentury modern they shared for 28 years near southern Irving's hospital district.


Buying the Douglas Avenue lot in 2003 was a wild-card move. The couple was ready to be closer to downtown and Ron's office. They also wanted a challenge. The biggest turned out to be how to create a sense of expansiveness within the home's modest footprint. Ron stayed focused on one abiding value: "Space is luxury, not materiality."


Among the design tricks the Wommacks used to open the home's interior is a discreetly integrated kitchen. They omitted upper cabinets (Monica had her doubts, but doesn't miss them now) that would have encroached visually upon the main living space.


They also positioned the fridge inside a center pantry. "I know a lot of people like their Sub-Zero and want to show it off," says Ron. "But we just wanted to get rid of anything in the kitchen that was above three feet." The result is an uninterrupted visual line from the main living space.


Monica admits she's the clutter bug of the pair. Ron tactfully acknowledges her "significant piles" – not an architectural term, he jokes – of everything from paperwork to photographs. Custom cabinetry in the bedroom now conceals a desk and what Ron calls the "messy vitality of life."  "You have to make value judgments on what you want to keep and what no longer has meaning for you and is weighing you down," says Monica, who's still going through boxes. "It feels good to purge."


The paring also included losing a door and part of the wall in the home's single bedroom. A custom freestanding bookcase is all that separates the sparsely furnished room from the main living area, where it serves as home for a seldom-watched flat screen.

"I originally wanted at least a sliding door for privacy," Monica says, noting that Ron always managed to dodge her request. "Even when we were moving in, I asked if we were going to put the door in now, and he was like, 'No problem ...' "


Turns out, there never was a plan for a door (note to anyone planning to marry an architect). But Monica says she wouldn't have it any other way. "I love it open now. If there was a door there, we would never close it."   Ron is more philosophical: "There are things that define scale and coziness other than total acoustical privacy."


The larger lesson of the experience, according to Monica, was learning "to trust each other." It's a point well taken for a home the couple feels represents a lighter load for both of them on every level.


The once-befuddled neighbors seem pleased as well. One stops by to see if the grass needs cutting. Another, who's lived on the street since the 1950s, keeps the couple in the loop on everyone's comings and goings. And that suits the Wommacks just fine.  "We've always been front-porch people," says Ron. "We just happen to have a really big porch now."