Joshua Hiett (Counsel) and Heather Hiett (Q360 Support Specialist) welcomed their new addition on New Year's Eve. What a birthday to look forward to annually, along with all the fireworks around the world in her honor! 🎇🎇🎆🎆


"When I went to the Townview training in Dallas this morning, they were very concerned about social distancing, so I floated the idea of having them try out the Articulate module instead of doing the training in-person. They really liked that idea. I ended up

doing the console portion of the training in-person with the Science Magnet since I was already there, but I am going to personalize the Articulate for Townview and send it out to them so they can train on bell scheduling. I am also going to send it to the other two magnet schools (Health and Talented/Gifted) today so they can try it for training as well. I am also going to offer a follow-up Remote training to answer any questions they may have after doing the module." - Erin Tate, Education C.A.S.


What a great response to a Customer's need! Well done, Erin! We appreciate your flexibility and supportive attitude. -Patt Bowles


Justo Garza received a great birthday message on 12/22 at 08:00 from the Project Management Institute.

Justo has earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) Credential.

Justo took the PMP course a couple of years ago from Villanova University. He self-studied and then scheduled the exam for December 21, 2020. What a stressful way to end the year. The good kind of stress that you get when you strive for improvement. This is quite a challenge.

The PMP Exam is 200 questions with a four-hour time limit. The questions are broken down into Process (50%), People (42%), and Business Environment (8%).

This is a four-hour exam, but due to so many on-line tests (which are usually in-person), Justo’s test was five hours.

He was on camera the whole time and not allowed to leave his seat. Anyone coming into the room during the test would have disqualified him.

With the certification come the requirements for continual Professional Development Units (PDU’s) to remain sharp on the subject matter and retain the credential.

Please join me in giving Justo a well-deserved CONGRATULATIONS!

-Ronald F. Kruse, Chief Operating Officer, Houston

All I Can Say Is Just WOW!!!

I haven’t replaced or filled a new position in seven years, and may I just say I was so impressed at how thorough everyone was and how fast and smooth the new hire onboarding process went. Great job to Ramona Rook, Brian Manibo, Craig Cordes, Jon Pennington, and Tony Urban. Thanks to the IT and HR teams, my new hire is all set up and ready to go on day one. What a great impression you all are making on our new hires.

A special thanks to Ramona Rook for holding my hand through this and for your outstanding communication. The organization of this whole process has your name all over it. As always your work is outstanding! As we like to say in Little Rock…You’re the BEST!

-Melinda Gibbs, Office Manager, North Little Rock

Please join me in welcoming Melissa “Missy” Woodruff to Lone Star Communications as an Administrative Assistant in the Springdale, AR office. Missy began her employment on Monday, December 21st under the supervision of Melinda Gibbs. She brings 15 years of administrative experience and expertise in fire systems and alarms, and office management. We look forward to having her on the team.

In her spare time Missy enjoys photography and riding horses.

Welcome to the Lone Star Team! She can be reached at 901-371-7191 or .

-Ramona Rook, Senior Human Resources Director

Cool Christmas Ornaments!!

The North Little Rock office made little Christmas angels out of masks to hang on their tree last month, and there were enough remaining for everyone to take one home. What a cool way to repurpose a mask and lighten things up!!!

Zach Wilson Obtains NICET License!

I'm pretty proud of this guy! Zach Wilson obtained his NICET level II in Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems. Way to go Zach!

-Melinda Gibbs, Office Manager, North Little Rock

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Cyber Security 2020 at Lone Star Communications was a challenging year. Cyber criminals did not exclude us in their daily attempts at trying to get us to compromise our data and in some cases, our customer’s data. We experienced a series of attempts that included, phishing emails, ransomware, fake text messages, and targeted attacks. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to adjust our cyber security processes, for remote offices, as well. Our commitment to addressing these concerns as a Team paid off for 2020. Our Quarterly Cyber Security Training Completions remain over 97%. Our Defendify Phish Testing score results were awesome. We experienced no Cyber Security incidents that caused a loss of personal or company information.

AWESOME WORK EVERYONE! Also, I would like to extend a huge thanks to our awesome IT Team, Dan Martinez, Craig Cordes, Hashem Tahajjod, Mumin Adeyemi, Jon Pennington, Brian Manibo, Jason Marshall and Kevin Henderson (he will never admit it, but he is a tremendous help).

Cyber Security 2021 will surely be another challenging year with evolving methods by cyber criminals. Now that working from home has become common place, homes have since been flipped into offices for the foreseeable future. More employees are using devices to access confidential data on home and corporate networks, which poses a considerable risk to our organization. Without secured access and robust security tools that protect the distributed attack surface, threat actors will easily hack into our networks and jump from one machine to another until they find a suitable target. Working from home is now a critical weapon in our fight against COVID-19. However, this also provides an opportunity for skilled cybercriminals. In 2021, we can expect cyber criminals to evolve their attack strategies and adapt to the “work-from-home economy,” pursuing remote workers even more so than in 2020. Unmanaged home machines will become targets, and in turn, these easily compromised machines at home will become the pivot point to home-bound corporate devices allowing advanced persistent attacks.

Our continued Quarterly Training and testing will remain one of our best methods to counter attacks and attempts. There are many business processes and practices that translate to our home offices and networks as well. For 2021, I plan to make myself available via MSTEAMS to answer any questions as to what additional processes can be added to your home network. Please feel free to schedule a discussion. No home or business network is identical. However, there are common security practices that should be in place. Here are some things to consider and possibly adjust for your home network. Again, please feel free meet or chat with me via MSTEAMS to discuss making your home network secure.

1. Change the name of your default home network

2. Make sure you set a strong and unique password to secure your wireless network

3. Increase your Wi-Fi security by activating network encryption

4. Turn off the wireless home network when you’re not at home

5. Use a strong network administrator password to increase Wi-Fi security

6. Change your default IP address on the Wireless router

7. Turn off the DHCP functionality on the router

8. Disable Remote Access

9. Always keep your router’s software up-to-date

10. A firewall can help secure your Wi-fi network

-Brian Banks, Internal Information Security Officer

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Hello all,

It’s Newsletter time again. Wow, this month went fast. Out with the old, in with the new. We have started a new year and it’s going to be a good one. I’m excited for 2021. I always like starting a new year with all of the unknowns and the promises a new year will bring. One of the promises that we really don’t want is more COVID cases in the world and in our offices. The good news is we have two and very soon three vaccines that are slowly making their way through the systems to be available to us. They have hit a lot of places in Texas and Arkansas, but they are only available to phase 1a qualified people. These are first responders, nursing homes, health care workers etc. In Tarrant county, the health department made all of the phase 1a appointments they could and rather than have their vaccine expire, they began vaccinating phase 1b qualifiers. It will be another 45 days before the states identify and start on the phase 1c it is estimated.

Some of our personnel have been fortunate and have received vaccinations on site. Some of the hospitals in Houston and San Antonio have asked we submit names of techs that would like to get the shot. If they have enough vaccine available, they are going to vaccinate our personnel. That is wonderful news. As I have said in past writings, it’s only a matter of time until the hospitals make it mandatory for our personnel to be vaccinated before they are allowed in their facilities. I would expect educational facilities to require the same thing of us. I have heard there are a few Lone Star employees saying they do not want to take the vaccine, that is your choice. Though it is certainly desired, Lone Star will not require that you be vaccinated. We may however, limit office access to only those personnel that have been vaccinated at some point. We need to keep everyone safe, and the best way we can provide safety is for everyone to get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID.

Perhaps you have been led to believe that the vaccine is somehow unsafe and risky. If you get your news from Facebook or some other social media outlet or from rants that have been floating around for months, months before a single vaccine was available by the way, you may be misinformed on the vaccines currently available and their safety and efficacy. Whether or not you think COVID is a hoax or you think you can’t get COVID, please, I implore you, to study what is being written from first Pfizer and Moderna and then the CDC website or World Health Organization website. Talk to me or Donna Montgomery or anyone at the company who has done the research and let’s discuss the Pros and Cons. There is a lot of information, so you can make a very informed decision. If you don’t take vaccines because of religious reasons, nothing I can say will change your mind, though this pandemic is very serious, and it might be the reason you should still consider taking it. If you have become an anti-vaxxer because what you read on Facebook or another social site about of the side-effects (none) and how it was rushed (not true) or how it has not been fully tested (also untrue), please study and make your own decision. Don’t let the vocal minority that sends thousands of emails or posts on social media sites make the decision for you. Please, make an informed decision.

We have a couple of videos that we will be sharing in the near future. One is from Dan Martinez, Lone Star’s Director of IT. He is still recovering from COVID and he wants to tell you what it was like and why he, even after having the virus, wants to take the shot. The other is on the specifics of this type of vaccine and why this is different. This vaccine is not made from dead virus cells, it is made from an mRNA synthetic. This from the Pfizer website:

What is in the vaccine? The active ingredient is messenger RNA that carries instructions for making the virus’s spike protein, which it uses to gain entry to cells. The mRNA is synthetic, not extracted from actual viruses. It is delivered in a tiny sphere of inert fatty material called a lipid nanoparticle.
The RNA-bearing nanoparticles are suspended in saline solution and injected into muscle tissue in the upper arm. The mRNA is then taken up by specialist immune cells, which follow its instructions to make the spike protein, just as they would do if they had become infected with the actual virus.
The spike protein is recognized as foreign by the immune system, which mounts an attack against it. Antibodies, B cells and T cells are activated, according to Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of the small German company BioNTech that co-developed the vaccine with US drug giant Pfizer. An immune memory is also laid down, he says, which means the immune system has learned how to defeat the pathogen and is primed to mount a swift response if it encounters the coronavirus again.

Read more:

Let me finish by saying, company wide Lone Star has thus far had 40 cases of COVID identified. There are at least that many family members that have been affected as well. You know a Lone Star employee that has had it at this point. Talk to as many of those employees as possible and learn firsthand from them as much as you can about this. Over the next three weeks, I fear we will have another breakout, I sure hope not. But with the gatherings over the last few weeks, it is bound to spike again. Please be careful and remember H-F-S: wash your hands, cover you face, keep your space. Be safe, your family needs you, we need you.

Books, Books, and more Books: Remember when I challenged everyone to set a number of books read goal for the year? I set my goal at 30 books to finish in 2020. I don’t think I have ever read that many books in a single year, but I was willing to make a goal to stretch my reading habits and learn something in the process. I am happy to report, I made it! In fact, I read 32 books in 2020, two more than my goal. It took me setting the goal and checking on that goal from time to time to achieve it. If I had not set the goal, I would have not read 32 books. I know that because when I wrote the mid-year update I was behind, and I had to make a point of getting started again and picking up the pace. I caught up, but when I checked around October, I was behind again. I was reenergized and just kept it up through the end of the year.

I found the exercise very challenging. When I started, I set out to read a bunch of business books I had either heard about or had received from the NSCA conferences. After I read a number of them, I started getting burned out on just work-related reading, so I turned to entertainment. I was then recommended a couple of research type books covering the European continent in one book to the entire World in another. I then received a couple of WWII books and was excited to read them as I kept slipping business books in between. I found by mixing a little entertainment reading in with general studies, then some business study, I was engaged and really enjoyed the reading. I learned a lot I had never known anything about…and may never need, but it has all been very interesting. Right now, I’m trying to better understand why the country is in such turmoil with the BLM movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Defund the Police movement as well. I read The New Jim Crow, a book about racism after reading The Nickle Boys, a book about a boarding school/prison of which a number of people went in, mainly blacks, and a number never came out. This was chilling and happened in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the prison finally getting shut down in 1963 with a number of people going to prison themselves. I want to know more about this, so I have a few more books on the subject of race on my list this year.

Here’s my 2020 list with Simon Sinek leading the way with three books and Ben Horowitz and Patrick Lencioni with two each on the business side. I like all three of these authors.

  1. Circling the Sun, Paula McClain

  2. Be the Best at What Matters Most, Jim Calloway

  3. Delivering Happiness, Tony Harnish

  4. What You Do Is Who You Are, Ben Horowitz

  5. The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon

  6. Start with Why, Simon Sinek

  7. The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek

  8. The Last Bush Pilot, Eric Auxier

  9. Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown

  10. Vivid Vision, Cameron Herold

  11. Guns, Germs and Steel, Jerod Diamond

  12. Multipliers, Liz Wiseman

  13. The Room Where It Happened, John Bolton

  14. Exercise of Power, Robert Gates

  15. Countdown 1945, Chris Wallace

  16. Without You, There is no Us, Suki Kim

  17. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

  18. Playing to Win, Roger L Martin

  19. The Hundred-Year Marathon, Michael Pillsbury

  20. Lucky 666, Ben Durey, Bob Clavin

  21. Exceptional Selling: How the Best Win in Hight Stakes Sales, Jeff Thull

  22. The Hard Thing about Hard Things, Ben Horowitz

  23. Indestructible, John R Bruning

  24. Dare to Lead, Brene Brown

  25. What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith

  26. Beyond the Goal, Elliyahu Goldrath

  27. Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek

  28. The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni

  29. The Nickels Boys, Collin Whitehead

  30. Bazonomics, Brian Dumaine

  31. Longmire - Next to Last Stand, Craig Johnson

  32. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

Next to read in 2021...

  1. Humanocracy

  2. Caste (about racism)

  3. The Heart of Everything That Is (about the American Indian)

  4. 1984, George Orwell, a classic

  5. The Outsiders (Study of 8 CEOs)

  6. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (American Indian)

  7. Excellence Wins! (Business)

  8. Alone at Dawn (Navy Seals)

  9. Cutting for Stone (African story)

  10. Built To Last (Business)

  11. What Makes an Effective Manager

  12. Traveling to Infinity, Steven Hawking

I encourage you to pick up a book and learn all you can. Read on!

-Ray Bailey, President

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