Citizen Police Academy

From September through December I participated in the Mesquite Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy. Most cities in the area have this type of program. It brings local citizens (either living or working in the jurisdiction of the Police Department) into the class room with Police Department leaders. Once per week for three hours we enjoyed presentations from each of the departments and had hands on demonstrations detailing how the police do their job.


The Mesquite Police Department’s Citizens Academy was developed to provide transparency to how the police department does their job. Chief Derek Rohde wanted this program to welcome all citizens who either worked or lived in Mesquite to learn directly from the Police and the Police support staff. It was his hope that this would show the attendees that the department was working for them and is willing to hear directly from the community if the citizens wanted change.

Entertaining and Educational

I highly recommend that everyone go through this program or the one that is local to where you live or work. It was great to hear directly from the Police Officers how they do their job. It was very helpful to understand the process that police go through to identify crime and apprehend the criminals. It was reassuring to hear how effective the Mesquite department has been in reducing crime over the years and what they are doing to drive crime even lower.

Officers Goodfred and Officer Williams of the Citizen Polilce Academy

Officer Goodfred, left, and Officer Williams photographed with employees of Academy Sports. The business donated over 80 bicycles to the Toys for Tots program.

Officer Don Williams led the Citizen Police Academy program and Officer Goodfred supported him. Both of these officers are very good-natured and easy to talk to. They obviously enjoy the interaction they have with the citizens and both are very entertaining speakers. Officer Williams told a very entertaining story about one time while he was working as the Resource Officer for one of the Mesquite High Schools. He was instrumental in gathering information that led to an arrest of one of the teachers. The arresting officers asked Officer Williams to stay in his office at the school to insure that the teacher was not spooked if he saw Officer Williams. He knew that the arrest had been made when two students ran into his office and exclaimed, “Officer Williams hurry…our teacher is being kidnapped!” The teacher had tried to run and was subdued by the arresting officers.

Citizen Police Academy Practicals

The last class of the year is what is known as the practicals. We teamed up with a fellow citizen and were put into simulated police situations. In the first, my partner and I went to a ‘domestic disturbance’. Two of the support staff were having an argument: one was posting inappropriate remarks about the other on Facebook. A lot of yelling occurred between the two ladies and the ‘officers’ but we were not successful in getting the two ladies to separate.

I then noticed that one of the ladies had put her hand behind her back. Officer Williams had told us that officers always watch the hands of the people they are speaking with. As he said, “the threat will always come from the hands.” I told the woman to bring her hand out so I could see it and her eyes went a little wide…like, “uh-oh, he caught me going for my ‘gun.'” She started to pull her hand out (a little aggressively for my taste) so I pulled my ‘gun’ and we had an old fashioned shoot out. I think she got me since I did not realize I had to pull the gun and say, “bang” but I was definitely pulling on the gun’s trigger.

What it confirmed is that I really don’t want to be a police officer and I am really happy that we have people like Officers Williams, Goodfred and the rest of the great people we met through the Citizen Police Academy class. Once you have completed the course you are eligible to join the alumni association. Through this association you can volunteer to do special projects for the police: drive the license plate reading car, monitor the parking lot at Town East from the police tower, etc.

Citizen Police Academy

Citizen Police Academy photo with vehicles.


Handgun Law Sign Text

Handgun Law Sign Text iconStarting in 2016 many buildings (i.e. government) are required to display the following handgun law sign text. Also, any establishment that wants to exclude guns that are either concealed or openly carried must display the appropriate text. Here is the text copied from the Texas DPS website as of January 4th 2016.

Medical facilities are posting language prohibiting both concealed and open carry. One of our customers opted to just display the open carry language. They are fine if their customers carry in a gun as long as it is concealed.

Handgun Law Sign Text – Concealed

The following text must be displayed in both English and Spanish.



Handgun Law Sign Text – Open Carry

The following text must displayed in both English and Spanish.



Improv Comedy and Why it is Important to Me

This is the story of how I joined the local comedy cult and why I want to remain a member. More importantly it explains why I believe improv comedy is such an important tool in helping anyone more effectively deal with what life throws at you.

I started taking improv comedy classes at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) as a lark. My friend, Bob, and I were eating at the Angry Dog on Commerce in Deep Elm. Just down the street there was a neon sign that read “Comedy”. We decided to check it out. We saw a couple of great shows and were really impressed. The emcee let the audience know that classes were starting the next week and were open for anyone. Bob and I decided to join for level 1 together right then and there.

Where’s Bob?

Bob did not attend the first class…or the second…or, in fact, any classes ever. I did. And I went through all five levels and graduated. Now I take workshops with Nationally acclaimed teachers. I went to a summer retreat just for improvisers. I am halfway through the sketch program at DCH. And one of the teams I am on actively pursues performing at improv festivals in other cities which we have done. How did I go from never doing improv three years ago to performing and training every week and reading as much as I can about the art form?

Why Improv Comedy Is Important to Me

There are a number of reasons that I love performing and practicing improv comedy.

  • Everyone is very nice and welcoming
  • People have fun
  • It is a supportive community
  • It teaches you to swerve well
  • It is a challenge

From the first time I walked into the club people welcomed me in. It is in the nature of people who love to improvise to be accepting of other people. In fact, that is a fundamental of how improv works. Whatever your scene partner says or does you accept it as fact and move forward. Performers at the Dallas Comedy House doing improv comedy.

People who hang out at DCH are funny. Some more than others. And, like everyone, they like to have fun. There are a few people who are trying to make a career in comedy but most are taking classes just for the fun of it. Because of this the atmosphere is always relaxed with people trying to make each other laugh. Plus because everyone there knows the feeling of being on stage without a script there is a tremendous sense of camaraderie. We have all been in TERRIBLE shows. We all know the feeling of doing something on stage and getting NO reaction. The kool aid we drink is flopping on stage. And it makes the community very supportive of each other. Supportive both with our DCH activities but also with real-life activities. Case in point: when the family that does custodial work at the club lost their home the community contributed $3000 in less than 24 hours to support them.

Why it is Important

The most important lessons that you learn from improv is to swerve well and not worry about making a mistake. In fact, making a mistake is one of the greatest things you can do on stage. If you mispronounce a word, or misunderstand what your scene partner has said, or just stare at your partner not knowing what to do all of these are opportunities for something wonderful to happen. The key is to just swerve with the flow of what is going on. Don’t call out that you made a mistake: YOU DIDN’T. You made a choice that will lead to something wonderful. This is a golden rule that I hope everyone learns at some point in life. Mistakes are always opportunities.

Improv Comedy is Easy/Hard

Improv is very easy and very hard. It is easy because it requires nothing more than listening to your scene partner and responding honestly in the character you have chosen to what they have said. It is very hard because to do it well you must remember everything that is said so you can bring it back up later, do physical work in an empty space (make a cake on stage with no bowl, spoon, counter, refrigerator, etc.), use emotions effectively, and make it all seem natural.

But no matter how hard it is I will continue as long as I can. Some people play golf: I do improv comedy. A couple of friends and I are going to try to something that Jason Alexander says is impossible: musical improv. We want to make up a 25 minute musical with new lyrics, melodies, and story when we walk on stage. It is very likely that we will fail miserably. But we will have a great time trying.

Van Wraps for RSI and CES

RSI (Refrigerated Specialists Incorporated) has been a client of Accurate Signs since the 90s. As the story goes the owner of RSI dropped by the Accurate Signs office because he saw Frank’s bicycle. Both Frank, the founder of Accurate Signs, and Marvin, the founder of RSI, are cycling enthusiasts. That started a life long friendship that has included cycling, the Mesquite Rotary Club, van wraps, hockey games, and an occasional alcoholic refreshment.

Van Wraps

RSI Van wraps


Accurate Signs designed the wrap used by RSI vans. They knew the basic design that they wanted: ice across the bottom and their name across the back so we put together a design and refined it based on their feedback. Since then we have done dozens of wraps for RSI and their other company CES (Cooking Equipment Specialists).  In fact, both companies use photos of their wrapped vans on their company website.

A wrap is a great way to communicate the company message. It is especially effective if your company has one or more vehicles that are traveling around the city. It is a great advertising tool very much like a moving billboard. But it is also a great way to demonstrate professionalism to your existing customers. When a nicely wrapped vehicle arrives at their business it gives them confidence in your work.

There are many variations that you can consider. The RSI and CES vans are not full wraps but give the appearance of a full wrap because they have material laid across the entire van. You can do more or less depending on your taste and budget. We always provide a digital mockup of the vehicle before proceeding. This provides a visual representation of what the vehicle will look like before work is begun.

CES Van WrapsRSI and CES

RSI installs, and services commercial refrigeration machines. They also install medical grade refrigeration systems. CES provides installation and service for commercial hot side food service equipment.  The list of clients include some of the highest profile restaurants in the Dallas Fort Worth area. They include Panera Bread, ATT Stadium, Brinker International, El Chico, IHOP, and dozens of others. Both companies are certified by the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association (CFESA).


Engraved Signs

If you need name plates, name badges, directional signs, or other types of engraved signs then contact us. We provide name plates for several local companies and generally have them delivered within two days of the initial call. If there is a problem with the initial plate we will replace at no charge. Engraved signs for Pepsi include this name plate

Name Plates

The plates can be made using one of several backgrounds, font color, and font style. Most of the materials that we use are made for indoor use, however, we have some materials that are designed for outdoor and can have signs made in bronze if you need something for a permanent, exterior location.

Name plates can come with or without a bracket that is permanently attached to the wall allowing for the name plate to be displayed and then switched out if need in the future. Here are some examples of color combinations that we can do.


Engraved Name Plates - a type of engraved sign

Engraved Name Tags

At the top of the photograph are samples of name tags that we can make for your business. Each tag has either a clip, magnet or a pin that is used to secure it to the user’s clothing.

Specialty Engraved Signs

We can also make custom signs of any size for specific needs. This includes wayfinding signage in buildings, signs honoring donors or other honorees of your organization, warnings or instructional signs, etc. Any sign can be affixed with double sided tape to make installation easy. Or Accurate Signs employees can be hired to do the installation for you.

Font Options

Here are the font options available for engraved signs. There are a limited number of icons available as well. Please let us know what type of icon you need and we will provide the options available. They include Helvetica, Roman, Optima, Fifth Avenue, Carendon, Futura, Palatino, Paragon, Cursive, Script, Victori, and Roman Italic.

Engraved Fonts used for making engraved signs.



Williams Chicken

Typical Williams Chicken window clingWilliams Chicken has been a long time client of Accurate Signs. Frank Block, the founder of Accurate Signs, and Hiawatha Williams, the founder of Williams Chicken have had a very good business relationship built on mutual respect. Most recently we have provided window clings that promote seasonal specials, menu board updates, posters, a trade show booth throw, and a parade banner for the Williams Chicken company. The main company uses our services as well as several of the independent franchise owners.

Williams Chicken uses an eye-catching yellow font on red for their posters and window clings to promote their dinner and seasonal specials. They provide high visibility for their size which leaves plenty of window space to let the sun shine in.

Williams Chicken – More than a Business

Williams Chicken parade banner

“Dedicated to Serve, Grow, and Give Back to the Community.”

One of the reasons that Accurate Signs is so proud to help Williams Chicken is because Mr. Williams has always looked for ways to help others and support his community. His business allowed him to provide good food and employment throughout the city as well as the ability to mentor people in the organization. But his Samaritan efforts do not stop with the business. He has been a long-time mentor of at-risk youths, donated to the poor, and shared his philosophy at numerous colleges and self-help seminars for the benefit of all who attended.

Wear My Good Socks

Early this year Williams Chicken ordered a few hundred window clings for their stores and I delivered them to their home office. When I told Shana, the marketing person at the time, that I would be coming out to drop off the signs she responded, “I will be sure to wear my good socks.” I thought this was a very funny response. Now anytime I am going to a meeting and want to make a good impression I think of Shana’s phrase and remember to wear my good socks!

Located Throughout North Texas

There are over 40 Williams Chicken restaurants located from Tyler to Fort Worth and from Cedar Hill to Plano. The business has steadily grown since it was founded in 1987 and currently employs over 500 people.

Pinball Repairs

Unique Challenges

There are a number of things you must consider when you are recreating the back glass for a pinball machine. First, you are printing the image on the backside of the glass so all of the images are reversed. Second, some areas of the glass must be clear to allow for the score to be seen. Third, some areas of the screen have to be translucent so that game-play messages can be seen but other areas need to remain dark. Fourth, recreating the artwork can be time-consuming. Accurate Signs has made a number of repairs to pinball machines for a Fun!, a company located near us in Mesquite, Texas. On occasion they will get a machine that has been damaged and will need us to create a new back glass.

Pinball Repairs

It is not uncommon for the back glass of a pinball machine to become damaged in shipping. Since they are made of glass they will break if over stressed. The top glass is also broken with regularity but is easily replaced. But the back glass has a number of unique issues (noted above) that make replacement much more of a problem. Fortunately, a good sign shop that has a printer that can print white and clear can solve the problem. Especially if they have a good graphic designer who can imagine how to print the glass and create the elements, in the correct layers, needed to accomplish this. Without a good printer and a good designer pinball repairs can be difficult if not impossible.

Pinball repairs to back glass; specialized sign solutions

Basic Repair

In most cases a pinball machine has a clear back glass that has relatively simple artwork. The Lady Luck machine (back glass shown at left) was damaged in shipping. Notice that there are 13 rectangles across the face that need to be clear so that each player’s score and other information that is shown using digital readouts can be seen. Also, note that the “Ball In Play” and “Dealer’s Card Score” text are not prominently displayed but have lights behind them that make this information pop when appropriate. Those two areas are bound by a rectangle of white ink that blocks light from shining across a larger area of the glass. You cannot see the white because it was laid down last after the colors were printed. Creating the art files needed to print clear, translucent, opaque, and other unique aspects of a pinball back glass can be very difficult. Not only because each layer must be created with care but then you must print each layer in the correct order so that the finished product looks as it should.

White Water; pinball repairs; unique solutions for a sign maker Special Repair

The White Water pinball repair to the back glass was much more of a problem. The original had a reflective finish that made the water shimmer. We decided to print the entire piece on a silver reflective surface. Then white was laid down on the silver so that the words, and other features could be printed in full color.  Then color and clear was printed over the top of the water area of the image to give it the swirls, and white water effective to make it look like the original.

Though pinball repairs is a small part of our business it is very interesting to determine how to recreate these pieces. And our experience in solving these types of problems helps us better provide solutions for customer problems that are more traditional in nature.


Vehicle Wrap

Flow Plumbing vehicle wrapOne of the best ways to advertise for a business is to wrap their vehicle. However, there is a wide array of options available for consideration. In this post I will highlight some options and then describe the process we use to lay a wrap.


A business must take several things into consideration when they are deciding on how to advertise on their vehicle(s). How many miles is the vehicle driven each week, is it important to have your vehicle present your business well to your customers, how much do you need to say on the vehicle to effectively communicate, and how much can you spend. Depending on how you answer the previous questions will give you an idea of what you should do.


Cecil Wilkins

Many businesses just use cut vinyl (which can be cut into any font or image that you wish) on the doors of their vhicles along with any required licenses that the state requires. This can be very effective, especially if most of your clients reach you through other means: not because they saw a company truck. It is recommended that you include your company name, any tagline, your primary phone number, and a website address. Notice on the Cecil Wilkins vehicle to the right the required state license numbers are list below the company name. The Wilkins company deals directly with a number of long-time customers so they did not want to add contact information.


Total Fire

By using a larger area of the vehicle you can promote additional aspects of the business. This can still be done using cut vinyl so is much less expensive than a vehicle wrap. As you can see in the photo of the Total Fire truck it is possible to use multiple colors to make an eye-catching and professional look. Notice the red lettering just behind the cab where they promote some of their primary services: fire alarm, sprinkler systems, etc.



To get a more complete coverage of the vehicle and to allow for full color graphics a partial wrap may provide a very good alternative. For a company that depends on their vehicles for awareness of their services as well as to communicate to their customers that their professional service technician is on the job a partial wrap can be very effective. The photo of the RSI van is an illustration of how a partial vehicle wrap can be very effective.


There are three basics steps to doing a wrap. First, working with the customer to understand what they are trying to accomplish and the budget they have available for a vehicle wrap. Second, developing the decals that will  be used. Third, installation.

The first step begins with the customer providing to us the basic information of what they want from the vehicle wrap and any specifics that they would like to see included on it. If something more extensive than door lettering is needed then our graphic designers will create a draft of what we will do for the client. We use Adobe Illustrator as well as the latest version of Pro Vehicle Outlines to build something that clearly shows what the customer will see in the finished product.


The first step when the decals are ready to install is to thoroughly clean the vehicle. We use 91% isopropyl alcohol because it cleans completely and dries quickly. Then we use 3M’s 94 primer at the edges and in any crevices. This is an adhesive made for vinyl decal application that strengthens the bond to help prevent the wrap from coming loose over the years it is used.

RSI wrap installationDuring the installation process our installers position the decals on the vehicle using super strong, rubber coated magnets. This insures that the decal is positioned correctly and allows the installer to apply one section at a time. In the image to the right Brent is shown applying the ice cube decal used by RSI, a commercial refrigeration company. You can see the black and orange magnets at the upper left of the photo. He is pulling the vinyl so he can lay it tightly into the crevice of the metal. He will use the blue squeegee in his mouth to insure the vinyl lays flat.

Though it is time consuming to develop and install a vehicle wrap can provide years of effective advertising for business of any size.

In the video below you can watch a time-lapsed video of the installation of decals to a Breadwinners van.


Casa Linda

TorchysCasa Linda Shopping Center has been a staple of East Dallas shopping since it opened in 1945. The Business Development manager of Accurate Signs, Doug Barton, grew up near to the center and currently lives within walking distance. Accurate Signs likes to support local area businesses and as part of this effort we will feature Casa Linda on our blog this month.

El Fenix at Casa LindaCasa Linda is located at the intersection of Garland Road and Buckner Boulevard and has a wide mix of businesses. The shopping center features some great restaurants including Torchy’s, Chili’sEl Fenix, Pei Wei, Alligator Cafe, and Highland Park Cafeteria. Recently Elliot’s Hardware moved into the space next to Chili’s and joins some other great businesses: Natural Grocers, AT&T, Albertson’s, Sergio’s Jewelers, and Petco. For a full list of companies in Casa Linda go to the center’s website.

Artistic Gathering recently close their doors and will be sadly missed, however, “Miss Kim” is still available for her loyal customers. She now provides art training at your location.

Natural Grocers at Casa LindaOld time residents of the area remember with the Natural Grocers was originally a movie theater. It is said to been only the second movie theater to have been built as part of a shopping center – a novelty for the time. It was built by B.R. McLendon, father of Gordon McLendon who was a famous radio personality. John Wayne and Glen Campbell came to the opening of True Grit at the Casa Linda Theater. The story was that John was friends with Gordon so did him the courtesy of showing up for the premiere.

The shopping center rarely has empty space for long and in recent years the parking lot is very full as customers frequent the stores. Over the decades Casa Linda has been an anchor for East Dallas and the stability it has provided has helped to provide a high quality of life for area residents.

Rodeo Road Rally

The 2015 Rodeo Road Rally was a big success this year. The event started in 1995 as the Mesquite Rotary Bike Ride and has been a favorite of cycling fans in East Dallas for 20 years. The event started at the Mesquite Convention Center and provided routes of varying lengths for cyclists of all abilities. The three options were 20 miles, 42 miles, and 65 miles.

Participants at the 2015 Rodeo Road Rally.

Participants at the start of the 2015 Rodeo Road Rally.

This years event raised 10s of thousands of dollars for local charities and was given very positive feedback by the participants. Some of the comments from riders include:

  • Great rest stops.
  • All major and more minor intersections were controlled by local police.
  • Parking was easy, registration was efficient and fast.
  • A very good ride with ample end of ride festivities.
  • Everything ran like clockwork.
  • The breakfast/lunch was AWESOME!!!!!!

Panera and Whataburger provided meals for this years event and as the last comment above illustrates the participants were very appreciative. The bagel holes (Bogles) in particular provided by Panera were a big hit at the rest stops.

Rodeo Road Rally Logo

The first 1300 registrants received a commemorative, red tee shirt that is super soft and shows the event logo on the front. Participants could buy one or more raffle tickets for a bike valued at more than $2500 dollars. The lucky winner this year is Michael from Dallas.

The event benefits local high school graduates with college scholarships as well as numerous other organizations inclulding: Mesquite Social Services, the Mission East Dallas Health Clinic, the Mesquite Public Health Clinic, the Mesquite Police and Fire Departments, the Mesquite Public Library, Mesquite Youth Services, the Boy Scouts, the Mesquite “Red Ribbon Day” youth substance abuse awareness and prevention program, the Mesquite ISD Educational Foundation, Equest, Mesquite Parks and Recreation, and the annual charitable “Dentists with a Heart Day”.

Accurate Signs has been a proud sponsor of the event for over a decade. We provide the signage for the event including the sponsor banner, start and finish banner, and all the route signs needed to keep the cyclists on course. We also worked at the pre-sign up booth at the Richardson Bike Mart on Garland, the sign up booth at the event, and the removal of the traffic cones at the event conclusion.