It sounds a bit oxymoronic, but there really is such a thing as a competent bureaucrat, and he comes in the form of Stan Tungate, who supervises the public access area to the civil and family court records of the district clerk's office. Tungate is not only extremely knowledgeable but remarkably affable--a rare quality in civil servants these days. If a court file or record exists--some go back to 1939--he will find it for you, approaching the task with the determination of a private sleuth. Certainly it's not easy dealing with people who have a limited understanding of what they want (those are just the lawyers), but Tungate handles himself admirably in all situations. Although he dabbled in politics, running unsuccessfully for district clerk a few election cycles ago, his presence as a line supervisor would have been sorely missed.

Don't need much to be a great radio DJ, and Cindy Scull has the most important thing on the list: a voice that sounds like butter and whiskey, and the ability to use it. She's naughty and nice and the only reason to tune in to KEGL; God knows it's not the music. Give her the afternoon-drive slot at The Bone (sorry, Jeff K) and it gets no better.

They call it "The Joy of Learning After 55," and there's proof in the packaging. Seniors who never thought they would darken another classroom door are registering for lecture series on everything from "Opera for Dummies" to computer classes, "Shakespeare on Film" to pottery, photography and estate preservation. For fees that range from $10 to $20, there's something for everyone. And for those 65 and over, the fees are waived. For up-to-date information on the program's offerings, access www.rlc.dcccd.edu/emeritus.htm.

To be a truly innovative judge is a rare thing. It's so much easier just to follow the law, to mete out punishment because it's your job, to have a cuff-'em-and-stuff-'em mentality in order to get re-elected for life. But the drug addict cries out to be treated differently; he is destined to reoffend because he is an addict, sick, committing all manner of crimes to feed his habit. Most judges realize this; Judge John Creuzot was willing to do something about it. He organized what is known locally as DIVERT court, which attempts to deal with the problems of drug offenders through treatment rather than just punishment. Creuzot's street-savvy demeanor made the program work, although he has now turned over the reins to Judge Janice Warder. But with the Legislature finally exploring drug treatment courts in major Texas cities, Judge Creuzot is still working behind the scenes to see this come to pass. Damn refreshing.

Hurricane Harbor

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we gather defenses, pool resources and try our damnedest to beat the heat. And, though we may win a few battles along the way, the heat always wins the war. You can't beat it, so why not--as the cliché goes--join it. Revel in it. Bake in it. And the best place to do it is Hurricane Harbor, which opens just as the heat kicks into gear and closes as it begins to peter out into fall. The water park offers respite in the form of dozens of slides for the novice and the cowardly to the experienced and the brave, along with a lazy river for floating, pools and a pirate's ship play area for the kids. Though the lines twist up and up for popular rides such as the Black Hole, most of the waiting area is shaded and, with a 500-foot drop into a pool, the payoff is worth the wait.

Sons of Hermann Hall

The large, renovated ballroom upstairs at Sons of Hermann Hall is the perfect venue for swing-dance nights, which it hosts every Wednesday. There's a refinished hardwood floor, smooth enough for twirling without friction but with enough traction that you can stay on your feet. There are tables and chairs for those who need to take a breather, and a bar for those who need some liquid incentive to strut their stuff. With the air conditioner cranked and music blaring from the sound booth or from the bandstand, it's easy to feel as if you've stepped back in time, since Sons was around decades before swing was popular the first time.

Cedar Hill State Park

On the weekends you can't stir the bicycles with a stick. Mom and Dad are there with their trail bikes, and the kiddies, some still maneuvering with training wheels, tag right along. There's a maze of off-road cycling for all ages and all levels of expertise. The park's most popular trail is a collection of three single-track routes that wind through woods and a tall grass prairie with a nice, cooling view of Joe Pool Lake. If it has rained recently, you might want to call and check on trail conditions before loading up and heading out.

Little kids who like airplanes, trucks and other big stuff (which means all of them, natch) will truly be thrilled to spend an hour watching the jets come and go from this busy airport. The plaza overlooks main runways and provides a clear view of takeoffs and landings. Voices of air-traffic controllers and pilots can be heard over a speaker on the plaza. There is room to walk around on grass around the plaza, but parking is also plentiful from places where you can see the big beasts soar.

A true hidden paradise for local anglers, this Turtle Creek estuary is home to 1- to 2-pound bass. On a recent summer day, a single fisherman was casting his line (a light-action pole with an open cast reel), relishing the solitude away from the city traffic just a few yards away. Besides the bass, there are also some nice-sized bluegills and carp around here, according to the University Park Wildlife Department. All are edible, say the park officials. Ready to be fried up on one of those $5,000 Viking stoves in the mansions nearby.

Escapade 2001

Along with its sister club, Escapade 2009, Escapade 2001 is the No. 1 destination for Dallas' swelling Latino population (the people who've made KNOL-FM one of the highest-rated radio stations in the area) every weekend, the place to go for people looking to blow off steam by dancing to ranchera and cumbia music. And there are quite a few of them: Every Friday through Sunday--the only nights Escapade 2001 is open--the parking lot outside rivals that of a Mavericks game, and the bar receipts routinely top the list of drinking establishments in the city. With that many people voting yes, who are we to say no?

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