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"But I see it being as very much as we did in Afghanistan," he said. "Supporting the ground forces. Command and liaison. Enabling movement over great distances and avoiding the danger that is obviously on the ground."

Today, at age 93, Ellis is one of the few remaining veterans from that era who can tell the stories of the squadron's early days of bravery and sacrifice.

Despite all the changes over the decades, the squadron has maintained its original patch, a Canada goose, which was championed by the unit's first commander, Nelles Timmerman.

Clancy said that remains good advice for the current members of the squadron, which has just been placed in a state of high readiness for a potential deployment to Iraq in January.

based 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron marks 75 years as it prepares for possible Iraq deployment

As for Ellis, who followed his time in the military with careers raising tropical fish and restoring antique cars, he said he is proud to be part of a unit that continues to do important and dangerous work on Canada's behalf.

Timmerman was also responsible for the squadron's motto: For Freedom.

On Sunday, he was on hand at the Edmonton Garrison to do just that as his former squadron now renamed the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron concluded three days of celebrations to mark its 75th anniversary.

"When asked why that motto, (Timmerman) answered with a simple question," Clancy told the crowd. "Why are we here?"

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"There were a lot of disasters. Planes coming back short of fuel, or shot up and that," Ellis recalled of his 1943 45 experience. "There was one situation where a plane crashed into a meadow and killed seven cows. One came back with 52 holes in it. Another one came back with a hole blown in the wing that must have been eight feet in diameter."

By the end of the Second World War, the squadron had collectively flown more than 4,600 sorties, while suffering 936 casualties.

He remarked on some of the squadron's accomplishments as it underwent different homes, assignments and aircraft types since Ellis' time.

Lt. Col. Trevor Teller, the current commander of 408, said the details of any mission are still being determined.

The event included marches conducted by current members of the squadron, along with a group of about 20 veterans and old guard, including Ellis. O Canada was played, followed by a fly past of four Griffon helicopters the squadron's current aircraft in diamond formation.

Alfred Ellis was part of it, working long hours in English airfield hangars to fix up Halifax and Lancaster bombers that had returned from runs over Europe.

In addition to its work photographing and mapping much of Canada's North, the squadron has deployed to a number of war zones. Most recently, it played a pivotal role in Afghanistan, operating Chinook and Griffon helicopters that kept Canadian troops off roads laden with improvised explosive devices.

Like many of Canada's air force units, the early years for 408 Squadron were a difficult and deadly trial by fire.

The unit has also assisted in the response to various natural disasters around the world, including last month's Fort McMurray wildfire.

"Anniversaries are a time for us to connect with our history, and history inspires for what we have to do in the future," 1 Wing Commander Col. Scott Clancy told about 200 people gathered on the tarmac outside Hangar No. 2.

"I pray for them," he said, staring at a black and white 1943 picture of himself sitting atop a Halifax bomber surrounded by other mechanics. "Keep Baby Canada Goose Snow Bunting Red Dublin it up."

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In recent years, Old World Geese visit New England in small numbers. A few Pink footed Geese have graced us with their presence in cow pastures in Yarmouth. A Barnacle Goose or two visit northeastern North America each fall. The nearest breeding area for both of these species is Greenland.

The notion of migration is implicit in a verse of the Old Testament: "The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtledove and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming." In the eighth century BC, Homer wrote that cranes flee from the coming of winter.

Humans have certainly been aware for millennia that bird abundance changes through the year. When you depend on birds as part of your diet, failure to pay attention to changes in bird numbers can influence survival. But where did the birds go?

The path leading to our current understanding of bird migration is a circuitous one, with plenty of dead ends. Buy Women Canada Goose Whistler Parka Black Online Like most scientific inquiry, observers build on the observations of those that came before them. The notion of standing on the shoulders of earlier observers stems from at least the 12th century to a man known only as Bernard of Chartres. The metaphor is best known from Sir Isaac Newton's quip, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

On October 13, Bill Sheehan hit the goose jackpot in central Aroostook County. He found six species of geese. Three species were not surprising: Canada Goose, Cackling Goose (a smaller version of Canada Goose, now recognized as a separate species) and Snow Goose. But he hit the trifecta of rare geese finding a Barnacle Goose, a Greater White fronted Goose and a Pink footed Goose. A great day!

Barnacle Geese and Migration Myths Maine Birds

We occasionally see a Greater White fronted Goose. This widely spread species occurs mostly west of the Mississippi River in North America but also in the Old World, as far west as Greenland.

But Barnacle Goose? It's a peculiar name because these geese are vegetarians like other geese and rarely if ever eat intertidal animals. The explanation for the name provides a good opportunity to think about the methodology of science as we seek to better understand the natural world.

Some birders will argue that the fall migration beats the spring migration hands down. Sure, spring songbirds are singing with full throat, dressed in their breeding season finery. But the spring migration is relatively brief.

Unfortunately, Aristotle also wrote "certain birds (as the kite and swallow) decline the trouble of migration and hide themselves where they are." He went to write that some birds hid themselves in hles in the ground, sometimes without their feathers. Some Greeks also believed in transformation. In Greece, the European Redstart is a common breeder, migrating to Africa each fall. The European Robin is a winter visitor to Greece. Aristotle claimed European Redstarts transformed into European Robins.

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The fall migration is much more protracted, spanning early August into December for different species. Post breeding dispersal of many species leads to surprising records of vagrant birds. Storms may also displace migrants.

In the Middle Ages, Europeans used Aristotle's mistaken observations to explain the arrival of Barnacle Geese each fall from their high Arctic breeding grounds as a transformation from the stalked, goose neck barnacles found commonly on floating driftwood. We've come a long way since then but the history of this misstep is perpetuated in the Barnacle Goose's name. We'll continue our exploration of migration next time.

A couple of centuries later, Aristotle wrote, "Some creatures can make provision against change without stirring from their ordinary haunts; others migrate as in the case of the crane." He also wrote of the migration of pelicans. So far, so good. Observers surmised that some birds come and go in response to the changing of the seasons.

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"As crazy as it may sound, this is a big problem all over," Boyles said. "When you have a corporate pond or a golf course or a tall building or whatever, you are creating the perfect place for birds to live. But that many birds can create a real health and safety problem. Then the next problem is how to get rid of them in a humane way."

"Anyone can go out there and just throw bait or set a trap, but then you have a bunch of dead birds lying around, which doesn't exactly add to your popularity," said Bruce Donaho, who started his business, Bird B Gone, in the bedroom of his Mission Viejo home in 1992 after a pigeon dropping landed on his dining companion at a Laguna Beach restaurant.

Banishing Birds to Nature

In the last six years the number of companies that specialize in the new industry, called "bird control," has jumped from fewer than 500 to more than 3,000, according to a trade magazine called Pest Control. No one has tracked how much money the firms take in overall. But one sector of the industry, companies that manufacture nets, repellents and other products to discourage birds, does more than $30 million in sales annually, up from $8 million five years ago. And the number is expected to grow as more land is developed and avian wildlife increasingly comes into conflict with man's clean stucco housing and backyard fountains.

'Bird Control' Yields More Firms, Profits

The number of birds making the mess keeps getting bigger. A decade ago Canada goose populations were so small it was an endangered species. Today there are more than 2 million of the birds in the United States, according to the National Audubon Society. Coot populations have not been measured, but ornithologists believe they are on the rise. And the snow goose population in North America is up from 2 million four years ago to more than 5 million today.

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"We're seeing a change in mentality toward birds, that people want to get rid of them without causing them harm," said Stephanie Boyles, wildlife caseworker with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in Norfolk, Va.

The number of dog trainers who sell or rent the use of border collies and other breeds to chase birds away from lakes, swimming pools and anywhere else they congregate is on the rise too. There were fewer than half a dozen such businesses nationwide a decade ago. Today there are more than two dozen just in California, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

With wetlands, fields and forests that are natural homes to migratory birds disappearing beneath suburban sprawl, and Canada geese, coot and swallow populations booming, birds do hundreds of millions of dollars of damage a year making their homes in places considered people territory. They fly into airplane engines, graze the smooth grass of putting greens into dirt, make muddy nests under the eaves of million dollar homes and gum up hospital air conditioning systems with their germ carrying feces.

Today the firm sells spikes, netting and wire to keep birds from roosting where they're not wanted. This isn't bird feed we're talking about. Bird B Gone has 50,000 clients, including Disneyland and Sea World.

The bird busters are out there, right now probably, armed with nets, stuffed animals, sticky tape, even border collies all battle implements against an enemy that munches incessantly, tweets noisily and leaves calling cards no one wants.

"Some animals have just adapted to humans much better than others," Steuber said. "This time of year there's not a lot of green grass out there that's not irrigated. It so happens that California has 30 million people, and a lot of these people interface with wildlife on a daily basis. There's a lot of conflicts."

Boyles said thousands of golf courses, airports and other businesses across the country have contacted the group in the last two years for suggestions on dealing with birds.

But as the bird problem gets stickier, and environmentalists increasingly take the rights of fowl under their wings, the business of getting birds to roost somewhere other than the plum habitats man has unwittingly created for them is beginning to take flight.

The problems are not pretty. Swallows leave mud caked on Men Canada Goose Chateau Parka Grey Sale Ireland houses and churches. Pigeon droppings obscure the million dollar facades of Las Vegas casinos and the historical stained glass of churches. Coots chew well tended lawns down to dirt. Bird nests in electrical lines ignite.

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Mendoza said he did not know whether Carranza had a knife, but they were near a prep area where knives are located.

The morning of Saturday, June 13, Carranza arrived at the restaurant, Mendoza said. The restaurant owner heard screaming from the kitchen and went to his office to get his gun. According to Mendoza, Carranza came toward him in a small room near the hall. "So when he took the first step, I shot him."

After the shooting, the restaurant quickly returned to business as usual, and remains open nearly a year later. Mendoza told the Pioneer this week that he has not heard of any charges against him and does not have a lawyer.

One year later

Carranza felt it was unfair that he was fired while the other employees involved in the fight were not, and asked Mendoza for $2,000 for rent and help getting to Atlanta where his family lives, according to Mendoza. Mendoza said he gave Carranza, who was his wife's cousin, the money, but the next day Carranza asked Mendoza for an additional $10,000. Mendoza declined to give him the money.

On June 13, 2015, Mendoza shot and killed Otoniel Carranza, 32, of Bemidji at Mi Rancho, according to statement Mendoza made to the Pioneer days after the incident. Mendoza said he shot Carranza, a former employee, to protect himself and others in the restaurant on Anne Street.

The Beltrami County Attorney's office has not filed any charges against David Mendoza, 33, owner of the Mi Rancho Men Canada Goose Borden Bomber Red Ireland restaurant, but the case is still "under investigation," according to County Attorney Annie Claesson Huseby, who declined to comment further.

Days after the shooting, Mendoza told the Pioneer he shot Carranza, but law enforcement never confirmed the information.

The shooting

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Bemidji restaurant employee shooting case still in flux

Mendoza said Carranza has moved to Bemidji from Mexico and worked at Mi Rancho until Mendoza fired him for getting into physical altercations with other employees about ten days before the shooting.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp told the Pioneer the Sheriff's Department referred the case to the county attorney in October. Hodapp said the office was waiting for some results from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and that all of those results were turned over "in the recent past.".

Mendoza said Carranza had told other Mi Rancho employees that he would cause trouble at the restaurant. Mendoza was concerned and brought his gun to the restaurant.

After Mendoza shot Carranza, he called 911. Sheriff's deputies and Bemidji Police Department officers arrived at the restaurant and identified the shooter, who was taken into custody.

wetlandsOUTDOORS CALENDARopinionHeadlinesPort: We need a "None of the above" option on our ballotsOUR OPINION: Kudos to UND for photo findingsVIEWPOINT: Tobacco tax hike proposals ignore economic realityLETTER: North Dakota protest response shows Cavalry mentality LETTER: Let medical marijuana work in North DakotaBEMIDJI Nearly one year after a Bemidji restaurant owner allegedly shot and killed a former employee, the case remains in flux.

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"This transaction is a win win combination for Rona and Lowe's as well as all stakeholders involved," Rona Buy Women Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket White Ireland CEO Robert Sawyer said in a conference call Wednesday.

Lowe's chairman and CEO Robert Niblock said the Canadian home improvement market is worth more than $45 billion and growing. The North Carolina based company estimates a compounded average growth rate of 3.9 per cent between 2014 and 2018.

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The publicly traded shares soared Wednesday to just below the offer price, with nearly nine million traded in less than an hour after the market opened. The offer is about $10 above the $14.50 per share that was rejected in 2012.

Rona chairman Robert Chevrier said Lowe's has made commitments to the Canadian company's employees, suppliers and independent dealers, including the preservation of Rona banners.

Quebec's Caisse de depot, which owns about 17 per cent of Rona, said it supports the deal.

Niblock and other Lowe's executives also said that Rona has made a number of improvements since the two companies came close to a similar takeover agreement four years ago. That attempt failed in the face of opposition from the Quebec government and a number of Rona's independent dealers.

"It is the intention to capitalize on this strong leadership position to transform the Canadian industry and offer more value to Canadian consumers."

For Rona shareholders, Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) is offering $24 cash per common share (TSX:RON) about double what the stock was worth at the end of trading on Tuesday before the announcement.

"We also like the market because of its long term fundamentals, with its high level of home ownership and well developed distribution infrastructure," he said in a separate conference call.

Lowe's said it has identified more than $1 billion in opportunities, including adding appliances to Rona stores, extending its private label and e commerce capabilities and leveraging its supplier relationships and enhanced scale.

"Overall, la Caisse believes the transaction will result in equal or superior economic activity generated by the Rona banners in Quebec," the Montreal based pension fund manager said.

Nonetheless, the announcement drew reaction from a union that represents workers at Rona. Teamsters Canada Local Union 1999 said the sale of a Quebec "economic showpiece" to American interests is raising concerns, even if Lowe's is promising to maintain the majority of Rona jobs.

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"Managers at Lowe's need to know that we'll be very vigilant regarding the more than 2,000 Teamster jobs at Rona," union local president Serge Berube in a statement.

Rona said the agreement would allow it to tap into the strength of a multinational company while preserving its brand, business relationships and most of its current operations.

For Lowe's, Rona is a way to quickly become Canada's leading home improvement retailer. The acquisition would mark the company's foray into Quebec, where Rona was founded in 1939.

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"I tell [people] that the ducks coming our way each fall get shot at and called to in every state between here and Canada and are real educated by the time we see them, so you have to be good to call them in," Crawford said.

"It all begins with duck hunting," Crawford assured.

"I blew on that call for five minutes and said that's it, it's dead on," Crawford interjected. "I told Wayne [Betts] that the duck calling god must have walked through that one withhim because it was dead a on!"

Noting that Arkansas callers have won the world championship more often than not during the competition's 70 year history, he said he knows why the state's callers were so good.

The last activity comes first and foremost at a small backyard workshop in Rogers where a few men regularly gather on Wednesday nights during the long offseason. On those nights, the little shop can be said to be the duck calling capital of Northwest Arkansas.

Many competition callers, he noted, prefer the versatility of the single reed call and are willing to put in the time it takes to become comfortable with it.

"I make a one piece insert with either a double reed or single reed," Betts said. "The double reed makes it easier to make a realistic sound of the hen mallard, while the single reed is more versatile, but takes more skill."

"Nowadays, I make five different calls an open water call, a timber call, a hybrid timber call, a competition call and a Canada goose call," Betts said, indicating the various models on display in his shop.

While the external shape of the calls is designed to fit comfortably in a caller's hand and against his mouth, it's the interior reed design that is key to producing the seductive sounds of the mallard hen so crucial to success in the field or on the stage of a callingcontest.

At the time of the 2000 contest, Crawford already was a legend in duck calling as a three time winner of the world championship held annually in Stuttgart.

Competing the night before, he won the Chick Majors contest hosted by a former world champion and calling legend. Then, on his birthday, he started the day by winning the Arkansas State Championship and followed up that night by winning the world championship.

Demonstrating his calling expertise, he cupped his hand to his mouth and began going through a repertoire of calls, such as the Hail Call and theComeback Call.

"Now that's really a lost art," he said, adding that a caller named Herman Callioutte of Greenville, Miss., had once won the world championship long ago by mouth calling.

One of Betts' calls was recently used to win the Oklahoma State Duck calling Championship, but his breakthrough came when Crawford asked him to make a call for the 2000 Champion of Champions calling contest limited to former world champions and held every five years in Stuttgart.

Within the warm confines of his shop on a cold, snowy nightlast week, Betts took time for a show and tell regarding the history of his calls and how they are made. "I don't make any molded calls; I hand turn each one on a lathe according to designs that took me years to refine," the middle aged craftsman said. "Most call makers today have never turned a call themselves. With less than a half dozen hand makers left in the country, it's kind of getting to be a lost art."

Betts made and tuned the call and shipped it to Crawford.

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His calls typically start out as blocks of acrylic or cocobola wood that are placed on a lathe and sculpted with sharp tools to create the barrels and inserts. Showing how it was done, he made it look easy.

The level of expertise and experience is genuinely world class when Trey Crawford and Wayne Betts of Rogers get together with young duckcalling proteges like Jeff Morrison of Springdale and Brock Bertrand of Fayetteville, as well as other young callers who show up from time to time.

On his 17th birthday in 1976, Crawford was in Stuttgart going up against the best callers in the world.

Growing up near Newport in northeast Arkansas, Crawford got an unusually early start in duck hunting and call ing competition in a family immersed in everything ducks.

After winning the title in 1976, 1986 and 1993 and the Champion of Champions in 2000, the burly, middle aged caller became the only person to ever achieve the pinnacle of calling in four straight decades.

"Robertson came up to us after we won and said, 'You boys sound like you might have killed a few ducks in your time,'" Crawford recalled.

The calling sounded great even before Crawford pulled his hand away from his mouth and grinned to show me he had no call in his hand and had been mouth calling alone.

Betts and Crawford are sensitive to the contention that competition calling bears little relation to calling ducks during actual hunts.

"It was a heckuva birthday," Crawford said.

Crawford went on to win the 2000 Champions of Champions competition, which marked the beginning of a close friendship with Betts that has only grown closer since Crawford recently moved to Rogers and became manager of the Whole Hog Cafe in Bentonville.

For starters, the shop is home to Betts Championship Duck Calls, where Betts has been making calls since 1994. The word "championship" associated with the name of the calls is not hype one Cheap Women Canada Goose Victoria Parka Green Ireland of Betts' calls was once used to win the World Duck Calling Championship in Stuttgart, and others are used regularly by top competitors in calling contests around the country.

He added that one of the most memorable compliments he's received during his callingcareer came after he and Betts had won the World Team Meat Calling Contest held in Pocahontas and judged by Phil Robertson, a famed caller known as the "Duck Commander."

"I started duck hunting when I was 5 years old and entered my first [calling] contest in 1969 when I was 10 years old; that was the year I won the Jackson County Junior Duck Calling Championship," Crawford said. "On the same day, my father won the Northeast Arkansas Regional Open and my brother won the Jackson County Senior Division."

BEYOND THE CALL

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For example, last year I learned about the case W5 investigates this year involving more than 700 fishermen in Newfoundland and Quebec. However the case was still before Federal Court so we waited until this year to report on this important case where more than 700 fishermen were treated unfairly by the CRA.

Producing stories on the Canada Revenue Agency presents a number of challenges. For the past three years W5 has investigated cases where the CRA has erred in its rulings against Canadian taxpayers. In all the cases we have waited until a court ruled on a particular case.

The fact is that many of the Canadians W5 contacts want to tell their story about their experiences with the CRA but are afraid. They tell us that they believe there will be some form of retribution from the CRA if they go public with their story.

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Another avenue for finding cases is to read through the rulings by the Tax Court of Canada and even Federal Court. This involves many, many hours of reading the rulings by judges and then following up with tax payers as well as lawyers and accountants.

Another avenue we are pursuing is through Access to Information requests. The CRA will not discuss specific cases with W5. So we have requested all emails, memos and other communications from CRA and the Minister of Revenue about our coverage. This week we learned that there are 2,000 pages that refer to W5. Those documents will be made available to us in the coming weeks. Needless to say we will be pouring through them to see if there is anything relevant to our continuing investigations of the Canada Revenue Agency and how it treats Canadians.

Every year after W5's CRA investigation is broadcast we hear from many taxpayers who are also doing battle with the taxman. They provide a jumping off point for future stories and show that many Canadians feel ill treated by the tax department Canada Goose Expedition Ireland and are demanding fairness.

While it is frustrating that the government refuses to talk to W5 we will keep pursuing interview requests.

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Some of our cases have come from you, our audience. After each CRA episode we receive hundreds of e mails about your cases. We follow up on many but, as I have explained, W5 needs to know that the case has been ruled on by a court. This means that many complaints need to be monitored as it can take years for them to work through the judicial system.

In many cases the initial reaction we get from a taxpayer who has fought the CRA in court is a desire to tell us all about it. This year one taxpayer we contacted was almost in tears when we first talked. He desperately wanted to tell his story to W5. But then he changed his mind and stopped taking our calls altogether.

For three years now W5 has asked the government for an interview about how the CRA handles disputed cases. Every year we have been turned down. This year the office of the Commissioner of the CRA, Linda Lizotte MacPherson sent W5 a letter saying; "Regrettably, we must decline the request." We also requested an interview with the Minister of Revenue, Gail Shea. The response from her office was much shorter, an email that provided no reasons stating only "we will be declining your request."

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At first glance, it would appear that the 2015 Ticats coaching staff is virtually identical to the 2014 version. But while most of the faces are indeed the same there's only one addition and one subtraction there's a subtle shift in emphasis toward an often overlooked part of the game.

"When I looked how we could strengthen the overall complexion of our staff, this was the best way to do it," said Austin, who spent five seasons coaching in the NCAA before coming to Hamilton. "I think that model is more appropriate, especially when you're in a game where it's so important. It puts a proper emphasis on it."

Zamberlin is the only remaining member of the 2012 staff that served under Women Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber Brown Ireland Online George Cortez, and this will be the first time the Ticats go back to back seasons with the same head coach and co ordinators since 2010. In an off season that has seen an unusual amount of turnover in the coaching ranks around the league, only the Ticats and the Riders last year's Grey Cup opponents will enjoy that level of stability.

"It's something that we believe in quite a bit, but it has to be continuity for the right reasons," Austin said. "Staff turnover and volatility isn't good. If you have guys that you believe in and are doing a great job, I need to find a way to retain them."

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Austin tweaks Ticats coaching staff

"We're not cutting ties with Paul. Paul will have an ongoing involvement. He will be always involved with this organization," Austin said. "We don't have any specific role yet, but we've had several discussions about it. This was not a severing of relations at all."

"I've spent a number of years building programs, recruiting players and developing talent, so there's a network there," Zamberlin said. "I know people in the NFL, scouts and other people that can help us find good players. This a is a different challenge for me, and I'm looking forward to it."

And Austin says the man known as Ozzie will still be around in some capacity.

Given that focus, the departure of kicking coach Paul Osbaldiston would seem counter intuitive, but Austin says that the man who set most of the team's scoring records during his 17 year playing career was made obsolete by the signing of American kicker Justin Medlock, who neither wants or needs much by the way of guidance.

The Ticats have moved more resources into special teams by devoting not only co ordinator Jeff Reinebold to the kicking and coverage units, but giving him added resources in John Zamberlin and newcomer Marcello Simmons, both of whom will serve assistant coaches. college football, multiple staff members are expected to help out on special teams, not just the co ordinator.

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Reba McEntire set list: I Can Even Get The Blues; Fear Of Being Alone; Strange; The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia; I Have What She Having; Falling Out Of Love; I Keep On Loving You; Nothing To Lose; medley; Does He Love You; I Want A Cowboy; The Greatest Man I Never Knew; Consider Me Gone; Why Haven I Heard From You; Because of You; I A Survivor; Is There Life Out There. Encore: Fancy. Strait setlist: Deep In The Heart Of Texas; Twang; I Hate Everything; Check Yes Or No; I Can Still Make Cheyenne; Run; Wrapped; Honk If You Honkytonk; Sea Shores of Old Mexico; Texas; The Fireman; Front Property; Ain't Her Cowboy Anymore; Leave You With a Smile; Have I Been All My Life; 'Bout Them Cowgirls; Dave; Chair; Get to You; By Morning; Saw God Today; It Away; of Love; for the Night; Troubadour; Unwound.

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Photos by Susan Pfannmuller/Special to The Star

It sure looked like it, inside the arena, where the seats were filled to the rafters, and outside before the show, where the lines into the place stretched south on Grand, almost to Truman Boulevard. That what you get when you put three headliners on the bill.

Anyone who has ever seen George Strait knows there aren many fireworks in his performances. His shows are more like bonfires: warm and relatively low key, especially when he follows someone like McEntire. is an old pro in every facet, from his starched shirt to his "thank you, kindly" manner to his efficient work ethic. When you reel off 30 songs in roughly 120 minutes, you don indulge in much messing around. (He started No. 15 one hour into the show; that clock management.)

Some of us delayed by the long lines missed most of Lee Ann Womack, who opened with a 45 minute set that included "I Hope You Dance" and "Ashes By Now." She would return later, for a duet with Reba McEntire, who was part of the undercard this evening but, clearly, was one big reason a lot of people showed up.

He showcased a few songs off his new album, "Twang," including "Arkansas Dave," for which his son, George "Bubba" Strait Jr., gets some writing credits. And he showered the place with No. 1 hits, which fell upon a crowd that was primarily in a sit down and sing along mood. this part of Big 12 country, it probably better not to sing "Texas," which aroused a few good natured jeers (the fawning video that accompanied the song was a bit over the top). Otherwise, without too much flash, pep or flair, he and his ultra honed country orchestra played country jukebox for a record crowd. Even his strolls from one corner to the other seemed measured and choreographed.

Keeping fans happy, that is what it is all about. I give them the respect they deserve.

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I am delighted that they did so well in KC.

These 3 artist are the real deal, based mainly on how they have been doing it. They have paid thier dues, and they are known to be pros. I especially respect Reba. I hate the sound but I love and respect the lady : )

The stage was a square platform in the middle of the arena floor that gave the performers 360 degree access to fans on the lower levels. and Womack made good use of that during, "Does He Love You," a song about two women in love with the same man. They started in opposite corners of the stage and ended in a face off in the same corner some melodrama that the big, enthusiastic crowd devoured with gusto.

was nothing fancy about it, but I pretty sure he didn let any body down, either.

Her setlist included covers of one of the schlockiest murder ballads ever, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia," the Ronnie Dunn song, "Keep On Loving You" and "Because of You," a hit by her former duet and touring partner, Kelly Clarkson. ended with some glitter and flair. For her encore, she was ferried back to the stage in a yellow taxi. She emerged in a glittery red cocktail dress, and then ripped into "Fancy," which felt like a grand finale. But the night was barely half Buy Women Canada Goose Kensington Parka Brown Ireland over.