Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brady Cases!

Abilene case maker makes boxes for Christian bands

Mon Gurung, right, and Kenny Cartwright attach hardware and metal edges to flight cases at Brady Cases in Abilene. The company makes cases to transport a wide range of items including musical instruments, computer components and guns.  [photocredit]Reporter-News Photo s by Ronald W. Erdrich[/photocredit]

Mon Gurung, right, and Kenny Cartwright attach hardware and metal edges to flight cases at Brady Cases in Abilene. The company makes cases to transport a wide range of items including musical instruments, computer components and guns. [photocredit]Reporter-News Photo s by Ronald W. Erdrich[/photocredit]

Reporter-News Photo by Ronald W. Erdrich Brady Bruton started his business in his garage more than two years ago.

Reporter-News Photo by Ronald W. Erdrich Brady Bruton started his business in his garage more than two years ago.

The outline of guitars hang on the wall in Brady Bruton’s shop where he cuts out the shapes for guitars to rest in while being transported. Bruton said he keeps them around because they are fun to look at.

The outline of guitars hang on the wall in Brady Bruton’s shop where he cuts out the shapes for guitars to rest in while being transported. Bruton said he keeps them around because they are fun to look at.

Three years ago, 20-year-old Brady Bruton decided he was no longer going to buy cases for his guitar.

Instead, he would buy the necessary materials and make them himself.

Now 23, Bruton, of Abilene, owns his own case making company, Brady Cases, which caters to popular Christian bands such as RED, Rush of Fools, and NeedtoBreathe.

“I’ve been a musician all my life, touring with different bands here and there,” Bruton said. “Making cases is my way of keeping in the music industry.”

Bruton has always had a habit for thinking outside the box.

In third grade, he got his ear pierced and began spiking his hair. He still has the spiked hair and the piercing, by the way, and occasionally puts an earring in to “freak people out.” He’s a “shy and quirky” inventor, and has been playing music since he was 4 years old.

“It’s always been about the music,” Bruton said. “I graduated from Abilene High and majored in music at Hardin-Simmons University for a year. After my first year, I quit to start Brady Cases.”

Bruton’s background in music is what ultimately brought Brady Cases into existence. He has played in over 20 bands, including Nobody Famous and Beltway Park Baptist Church’s worship team. Somewhere along the road, Bruton simply got tired of buying cases and decided to make his own.

“Brady eats, drinks, and breathes music,” said Brenton Dowdy, a fellow band member and friend. “His experience in the music industry gives him an extreme advantage over his competitors. He is excellent at what he does.”

Brady Cases are made with aluminum bodies, featuring rivets every four inches, double angle extrusions, recessed hardware, a one-inch foam minimum, and high-grade locking casters. Prices range from $250 to $1,800 and can be found on and ordered from under Brady Cases. They can also be purchased at Bruton’s shop at 301 S. 11th St., which is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our cases are top quality,” said Kenny Cartwright, one of the two employees working with Bruton. “Brady is a good guy to work for. He’s a case-making genius.”

Because Brady Cases are completely customized, customers are able to walk into the store with their dream case in mind and walk out with it.

“Something that makes our company unique is that we offer 3-D animation design to all of our customers before they make their purchase,” Bruton said. “Depending on our workload and the type of case, some people may be able to order their case, see their 3-D animation preview, and pick it up in the same day.”

3-D animation is something Bruton uses to market his company to bands via Bruton sends messages to bands through MySpace telling them all about his custom orders, attaching pictures of his portfolio and samples of the 3-D animation design. Marketing through MySpace is what hooked bands such as RED and NeedtoBreathe. Other connections come from playing with the bands (Rush of Fools), or having a mutual friend.

Although Bruton has made over 350 cases in his career, the piece he takes most pride in is a keyboard case he made for Rush of Fools.

“This case was built for two keyboards and included two rack units, a sliding drawer on side for a computer, and hookups for internal wiring,” Bruton said. “It usually takes about 15-20 minutes to get keyboards set up, but with this case, you just open it, plug in four cables, and go.”

Rush of Fools is one of the many Christian bands flocking to Brady Cases to fulfill their case needs.

“It’s actually surprising to me that the majority of my business is Christian bands,” Bruton said. “I don’t market that, but about 80 percent of bands that contact me are Christian.”

Although Brady Cases is music-inspired, they are now filling orders for IBM, and will soon begin making medical, military, weaponry and computer cases.

“Brady is constantly thinking of ways to improve and expand his company,” Dowdy said. “I’ve seen cases of his that no one else has on the market. His company works hard, and has been able to keep prices low and competitive. Brady Cases are unique, and I recommend them to everyone.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lions Roar Photography

Photo by Keely Tinkle(?)

Photo by Colt Keller (?)

Photo by Keely Tinkle

Photo by Kaityln Wiloth

Photo by Keely Tinkle

Photo by Maggie Shirley (Welcome to the Feed Store)

Photo by Melany Maurer "Where do students get their news?"

Photo by Colt Keller

Photo by Keely Tinkle

Photo by Colt Keller

Photo by Mary Garvin (That bump would be a bullet)

Photo by Mary Garvin (No more bullet)

Photo by Maggie Shirley

Photo by Mary Garvin (We actually weren't allowed to use this photo because there's too much skin showing)

Photo by Melany Maurer "Junior paints her dream"

Photo by Mary Garvin

Photo by Mary Garvin

Photo by Mary Garvin

Photo by Mary Garvin

Hunting with the boys gone wrong

Photo&Story by Mary Garvin
School Paper, The Lion's Roar

On a night out hunting with the boys, junior Rhone LaBonte knew he'd be shooting something, he just didn't know it'd accidentally be his best friend, junior KC Jones.
"All I know is that we were driving down the road varmint huntin' and all of a sudden a shot goes off from inside the truck and Rhone starts screamin', 'It wasn't me! It wasn't me!'," junior Cole Moore said.
LaBonte, Moore, and Jones were out varmint hunting after dark with juniors Cody Alexander and JT Bowman on their friend, Robert Putnam's, ranch. The group was driving around the ranch in Putnam's pickup with LaBonte, Putnam, and Alexander inside the truck. Jones was in the back sitting on the toolbox with his elbows resting on top of the truck. LaBonte had just shot at something from inside the truck and as he pulled his .22 in through the window, the safety switched off. He held the gun beside him, barrel facing up, and when the truck hit a bump, the gun went off. The bullet sailed through the ceiling of the cab, through Jones's coveralls, and into his side.
"I heard the shot go off and was looking around to see what had been shot, but then I got this sharp pain like I had just hit my funny bone," Jones said. "I turned to look at my elbow and my whole arm was floppin' in the air like a water hose under too much pressure. My hand was all purple."
After exclaiming a few profanities, the group pulled over to examine Jones.
"I started freaking out when I realized my gun had shot KC. At first I thought it was my fault, I had just shot my best friend," said LaBonte. "They reassured me that it wasn't my fault though. I just wanted him to be okay."
Jones slipped out of his coveralls to reveal a once white shirt now soaked in blood. The group then immediately turned around and headed to the highway to meet an ambulance.
"KC was just sitting in the back of the pick up whistling and telling us to turn up the radio and drive faster," Moore said. "Everyone should know this wasn't Rhone's fault. It could've happened to anyone."
One might think that after being shot, if the bullet were still in the body, it would be taken out. However, this was not the case with Jones. Jones' bullet was left in his body and was very visible, even mobile, for several weeks. The bullet entered under Jones's right arm and traveled up over his shoulder. It stopped just beneath his skin, and minorly damaged the nerves in his right hand. It could take up to six months for the nerves to recover-if ever.
"It's like something out of a sci-fi movie. He gets shot, but it misses his major arteries and bones. It's a miracle really," junior Dacoda White said. "It's something you'd expect to happen to KC. Crazy things always happen to him and he just laughs it off."
Jones agrees that it is somewhat of a miracle.
"It feels like God has given me a second chance at life," Jones said. "That bullet could've hit my lungs or even my heart, but it didn't. It makes me want to start going to church more and cuss a little less. I have a second chance, I don't want to screw it up."
The bullet, however, was removed during spring break. Doctors said he could leave the bullet in if he wanted to avoid surgery, but now that the bullet is practically sitting on top of his shoulder under his skin, removing the bullet was no longer such a high risk. Since removed, Jones has been able to feel his right hand for the first time since his accident.
"When I got home my mom and sister freaked out and didn't want me to hunt anymore," Jones said. "My little brother thought it was awesome though."
Jones still makes hunting and camping a frequent activity, regardless of the past.
"We don't bring our guns camping anymore," Jones said with a laugh. "We're always careful, it was just an accident."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Perfection" more elusive than ever

By Mary Garvin
The Lions Roar, School Paper

The idea of healthy weight loss has become seemingly more and more popular among the media, and students have not been ignoring it. Though most media sources are taking the "healthy" approach to weight loss such as a dieting and work outs, what are students more concerned about? Health or appearance?

"It used to be all about the dangers of eating disorders and now its all about who's in shape and who's not,” sophomore Kasey Presley said. "Every time I get a magazine or turn on the T.V., there's always something about some celebrity who gained weight or lost it and now they're supposedly anorexic. It hasn't always been like this, but now the media is all over it."

Presley says se is more concerned about staying fit than being skinny. Staying in shape, however, is not a priority for all students. In fact, physical appearance and what it takes to be “beatuiful” trumps all health concerns for sophomore Kaci Carlton.

“Right now I’m not really concerned about my health or staying in shape,” Carlton said. “I just want to be skinny. Sometimes I’ll do things I know I shouldn’t just to lose weight. I feel like there is an image of “the perfect weight” out there and I’m constantly struggling to obtain it.”

Risky weight loss techniques such as 'hunger strikes' and 'bingeing,' have been popular in the past, but after recent deaths of run way models and teens practicing annorexia and bulemia, more healthy ways to achive that mysterious “perfect weight,” are becoming prefered. Instead of weight loss turning into a taboo subject, the topic apears to have skyrocketed and became one of the prominent topics in teen magazines.
“I read a lot of Seventeen and Teen Vogue and in every issue they have a huge section on healthy eating alternatives and work out plans,” Presley said. “Everyone is just so obsessed with their weight. At least now people are taking a healthy approach to it.”

But even with the new stream of healthy encouragement, Carlton still feels pressure to be skinny from friends and family, but mostly from herself. She feels that if she were skinny, she would be prettier and more popular.
Like Carlton, eighth grader Hallie Roach's weight is always on her mind.

"When I walk into a room I feel like people automatically reject me because of my weight," Roach said. "I keep thinking that if I were skinnier, it wouldn't be that way."

Algebra teacher Jessica Reiger remembers physical appearnance being relevant to popularity in her high school years, but she doesn’t remember the media as being the strongest cause of that belief.

"I just remember people being looked at as skinny or fat, not as in shape or out of shape. I certainly don't remember the media being so crazy about weight loss and diets," Reiger said. "When I started working out and running it was to lose weight, but now, running is my passion, and when I don't eat healthy, I honestly feel like I'm eating poison."

Last year Reiger started a running club for high school students who wanted a new hobby or wanted to lose weight and stay in shape. Since Reiger has been working out and eating healthier for the last few years, she says that it has changed the way she views herself.

"I don't believe that I feel better because I have lost weight. When I work out, I feel like I can take on the day. It gives me confidence," Reiger said.

Working out and running does increase endorphins (chemicals in the brain that produce the feeling of happiness), which Reiger said is why, in addition to the feeling of accomplishment, working out makes her feel so good.

“I run because I love it and also to stay in shape to run in marathons, but I haven't always been like this. Definitely not in high school,” Reiger said. "I eat healthier so I can properly fuel my body for those workouts. Even though I started out with weight loss being my goal, now it's just a bonus."

Junior Kallie Noble, as a member of four different varsity teams, never has an “off season,” and thus is always physically fit. In her case, it's neither to stay healthy or skinny, but to be in shape to better her performance in sports.

“Its important to me to have a fit and athletic body, but not necessarily skinny and slender. Just strong and fit,” Noble said. “I don’t worry about my weight and I eat whatever I want because I know I’ll just run it off later.”

Like Noble, junior Jason Brothers is just trying to stay in shape. While most girls are trying to lose weight, guys like Brothers are trying to increase their weight.

“A lot of guys use protein shakes so they can gain more weight to build muscle,” Brothers said. “Sometimes people think if you’re bigger you’ll be a better athlete, but that's not true. I’m skinny and still a good athlete. My priority is more of staying in shape rather than getting bigger.”

Last year the school conducted a state required Fitness Gram. The test included six different sections to test physical fitness such as sprints, push ups, sit ups, and jump ropes. This test was made in response to the growing child obesity rate and will now be mandatory every year for each school in the state of Texas.
Baseball Coach Fairchild said that Albany High School did well in the rankings last year due to the high number or participants in athletics.
Reiger, however, doesn't completely agree with the new Fitness Gram and believes that the school is leaving students shorthanded.

"If a child takes that test and finds out they are over weight, it kind of leaves them thinking 'Well, what do I do now?'" Reiger said. "Not everyone competes in sports. I think the school should teach a healthy living class or something to teach students what to do to stay healthy."

Eighth grader Hallie Roach has found her solution to weight loss; her mother. Over the Christmas break, Roach and her mother, Shelia Edgar, acquired a new knowledge of health in general and shed pounds together with the help of diet plans like LA Weight loss.

“My mom and I work out together and diet together,” Roach said. “We don’t necessarily diet, we just talk to doctors about good eating habits. We also read through brochures from [organizations] like LA Weight loss and get good tips from them on what not to eat, and we kind of take it from there.”

Roach said that committing herself to a stricter diet and work out plan was hard at first, but after a lot of encouragement from her mother and sticking to it, she’s getting closer to her goal every day.

“I learned that there are a lot of misconceptions about losing weight. I did a lot of research and learned what’s healthy and what’s not," Roach said. "My mom made me realize that if I decided to lose weight, I had to make sure I was doing it for myself, and not because I felt pressured into it. Diets don’t work, lifestyle changes do."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jalen Huckabay

By Mary Garvin
Special to the Reporter-News
Friday, January 2, 2009

ALBANY -- Who needs "American Idol" to become a star? Sixteen-year-old Jalen Huckabay became a recording star thanks a story by The Associated Press.

The story about Purple Songs Can Fly, a one-of-a-kind program at Texas Children's Hospital, appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News and other newspapers across the country Friday. In addition, radio and television stations carried the story.

The story didn't mention Jalen is from Albany, but then again she hasn't spent much time here.

"We've been home for two weeks, and we'll leave this weekend for Texas Children's Hospital in Houston for treatment again," said Jalen's mother, Karen Huckabay. This is the first time in four months that the family has been home. "Then in about four days we'll come back home, and five days after that we'll go back to Houston."

Jalen was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 3 months old. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the respiratory and digestive systems. Respiratory symptoms typically appear before digestive problems, but when Jalen was 13, she started experiencing digestive symptoms. The unusual order of symptoms made her the topic of medical research papers.

Jalen received a liver transplant, and three years later a lung transplant. After the lung transplant, doctors asked her to remain in Houston for the rest of her treatment.

This request added unexpected expenses such as hospital parking ($11 per day), food, gas and an apartment.

Jalen's hometown pitched in to help with medical expenses whether it be a Mexican pile-on dinner, a golf tournament or a silent auction at the high school.

"They've raised about $30,000 for us in the past year. We've had people we don't even know donate thousands of dollars," Karen said. "Sierra Scott, a junior high student from Albany, won a contest and gave all of her prize money to Jalen. I just don't know what we would do without everyone's support."

Jalen has been doing a little bit of fundraising herself. While she was hospitalized last fall she created the "Build-a-Friend" fund for Texas Children's Hospital.

"Some of the children's parents in the hospital don't come and visit them as much as mine do," Jalen said. "They looked so lonely, I wanted them to have a friend."

Jalen's fund has given away more than 150 stuffed animals to patients. The frequent visits to Build-a-Bear, a store at which customers can make their own stuffed animals, led to her being on an advisory board for Build-a-Bear.

After Jalen's transplant the doctors discovered that the lungs she received contained Epstein-Barr virus. The virus had infected the lymph nodes in her throat, and she would need another surgery to remove the infected lymph nodes.

"Jalen's doctor caught it early and was able to remove the main infected nodes, but she needed chemotherapy to completely get rid of the infected area," Karen said.

While Jalen was undergoing chemotherapy, her doctor suggested the teen try recording a song through the Purple Songs can Fly program. After much hesitation, Jalen decided to record a song about her dog, Jasmine. A reporter was doing a story about the program, and Jalen was featured prominently in the article.

Jalen, however, is not thinking of becoming famous -- she's just happy to be home.

"I have a friend coming over for a sleepover tonight, and another friend came by and gave me a Christmas present," Jalen said Friday. "In a hospital you're just stuck in a tiny room. It gets old. I'm happy to be home, even if it's for a little while."

hear the song here:(

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ann Jones

Old Jail Art Center Docent Ann Jones has been watching jaws drop at the Old Jail for twenty eight years. Since she co-planned the first exhibit with founder Riley Nail, she says that the Old Jail has just gotten better.

In 1980, Ann Jones sat down with Riley Nail, the founder of The Old Jail Art Center, and Pat Jones to plan the museum’s first exhibit featuring “The Women of Albany.” Together they began what Texas Monthly says has become “The best small-town museum in the state - and maybe in the nation."

Playwright Robert E. Nail, Jr., author of Albany’s Fort Griffin Fandangle, first purchased Albany’s old jail and turned it into a studio. After his death, he willed the jail to his nephew, Rilley Nail, who, with the help of volunteers and friends like Ann, turned the jail into The Old Jail Art Center.

“I work with volunteers on a regular basis and have been working with Ann for about eight years,” education director Kathryn Mitchell said. “Ann is always eager to help in any way she can. Her family also generously donates to the museum.”

Ann’s husband, Jon Rex, has chaired many fundraisers that have been essential to the expansion of the Old Jail. In addition to chairing fundraisers that in the past raised up to $2 million, the Jones have donated so generously that the Old Jail has planned on naming a gallery after them in the future.

“Out of everything Albany does, the Fandangle, the Nativity, anything, the Old Jail is Albany’s best calling card,” Ann said. “It is truly a gift to the community. It is very important to Jon Rex and I that we support the old Jail in anyway we can.”

Whether it be the Old Jail, her church, community, local schools, or the Drug and Alcohol task force, Ann is always looking for ways to serve her community. Her love for serving, however, does not stop in Albany.

“I’ve been on the board of trustees at TCU for 20 years. I was also awarded the Honoree Alumnus at TCU two years ago,” Ann said. “You don’t want to say ‘Hey look at me and what I’ve done!’ but these things are important.”

Volunteering as a docent at the Old Jail for Ann means working the front desk, cooking meals for Old Jail events, or working at one of the many festivals the museum holds every year, all of which are common duties for any volunteer Docent.

“It’s always so much fun to watch people come through the museum and say ‘What is this small town doing with such a great museum?’” Ann said. “I’m so proud of the direction the Old Jail is going in. Margaret Blagg has done such a phenomenal job. If Riley got to see this now, he would just be so proud.”