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Wildfire activity possible for multiple areas of state

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Texas A&M Forest Service fire analysts warn of wildfire activity, including the potential for significant wildfires, through Friday in the Western Pineywoods, Southeast and Central Texas.

While Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida and the national wildland fire preparedness level has decreased to a 2, wildfire activity has steadily increased over the past two weeks in Texas.

As the lack of rainfall and high temperatures have dried surface vegetation, Texas A&M Forest Service firefighters have responded to 65 wildfires over the past week, whereas the agency responded to just six wildfires during the first week of the month.

“The 2022 fire season has been significant for the state of Texas, as state and local firefighters have responded to more than 9,800 wildfires,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “The state received beneficial rainfall mid- to late-August, which helped to significantly slow the operational tempo for wildland firefighters. However, the benefits of that moisture have started to wane, and we are, once again, observing dry conditions across the state that is resulting in increased wildfire activity.”

Very dry conditions following the weekend’s cold front have resulted in accelerated drying of vegetation across large portions of the state this week.

Multiple days of relative humidity values below 25% will result in widespread critically to extremely dry surface fuel in the eastern half of the state by the end of the week. Wind speeds are forecast to increase to 10-15 mph out of the northeast and, when combined with dry vegetation, will support wildfire growth.

There is potential for significant wildfires where pine and yaupon fuels are present in the Western Pineywoods, Southeast and Central Texas. Historically, these high-risk fuels have produced high impact or significant wildfires that threaten public safety and property. Any ignitions that occur may also be resistant to firefighters’ suppression efforts.

By the weekend, the Texas Panhandle may also experience increased wildfire activity in areas where cured grasses are present. Below normal rainfall amounts, low relative humidity and elevated wind speeds will support wildfire activity.

Texas A&M Forest Service is dedicated to protecting the citizens and natural resources of Texas from wildfire, and the agency has strategically positioned personnel and equipment across areas of concern for a quick response.

In Texas, nine out of 10 wildfires are caused by human activity, which means that most wildfires could be prevented by taking simple actions.

“It is important that all residents take care to prevent wildfires while conditions are windy and dry,” said Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service Prevention Program Coordinator. “Consider waiting to conduct any outdoor burning or lighting campfires until conditions improve. Even if your county does not have a burn ban in place, we encourage everyone to be cautious with any activity that may cause a spark.”

Stay wildfire aware. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.

For current conditions and wildfire outlook, read the Texas Fire Potential Outlook at https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.

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Fantasy of Lights Festival welcomes the arrival of the Christmas season

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Downtown Bowie shined brightly this weekend as the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Festival heralded the start of the holiday season.
“Winter Lights” Sip and Stroll With Me opened the festival Friday night with a total of 31 vendors participating in the popular festival Friday night. Moderate fall-like temperatures made it a great evening for strolling and the downtown parking was filled throughout the evening as guests went from store to store to enjoy refreshments, learn about what they had to offer and even do a bit of shopping. Local student performers also sang holiday music.
Cindy Roller, executive director for Bowie Community Development, said Sip and Stroll continues to grow and grow with each outing and those attending really seem to enjoy it no matter the time of year.

Saturday morning’s Pancakes with Santa served up some 300 meals of free pancakes at the city fire hall, followed by holiday crafts at Elf ‘N’ Magic at the library. That evening after the community Christmas tree was lit, the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade rolled through downtown heralding the holiday season. The Bowie High School cheerleaders won the sweepstakes prize with its sparking snowflakes float.

Read about all the winners and see their photos in the mid-week Bowie News.

The dancing snowflake float from the Bowie High School cheerleaders won the sweepstakes prizes for best overall parade entry. (photo by Jordan Neal)
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Bowie Chamber seeking nominations for its top community awards

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Nominations are now being accepted for the business and volunteer awards presented by the Bowie Chamber of Commerce with a deadline of Jan. 9, 2023.
These awards will be presented at the Jan. 23 chamber banquet, which has a theme of “Denim & Diamonds.” Chamber members also are invited to decorate a table for the banquet where the best decorated will win a prize.
Public nominations are sought for the three major awards presented by the chamber: The Frances Brite Award for volunteerism; 2022 Business of the Year and 2022 Community Support Award. The board also will select a member for the membership award.
Nomination forms for the three main awards are located on the chamber webpage at bowietxchamber.org, and they can be dropped off to the office at 101 E. Pecan. Call the chamber at 872-1173 with any questions.

Read the full story in the mid-week Bowie News.

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MSU readies Dec. 10 graduation ceremony

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More than 600 students are expected to walk the stage during Midwestern State University’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 10 at Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls.
Students graduating with the highest grade point averages from each of the six academic colleges will be honored with the President’s Medal for Excellence. Recipients will receive their medals from MSU Texas President JuliAnn Mazachek.
Graduates will hear words of encouragement from MSU Texas leaders and alumni. The December ceremony includes students who graduated in August.
The Faculty Award recipient also will be announced. This honor is given by MSU Texas faculty to a full-time faculty member for teaching excellence and service to the university. The first recipient of the Faculty Award was Arthur F. Beyer in 1977.The winner is selected by the faculty at large and kept secret until commencement.

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