Week of October 24, 2011

Story No. 1 – TVCC’s Rip Drumgoole dies: Trinity Valley Community College Vice President of Student Services Dr. W.P. “Rip” Drumgoole passed away Thursday morning after a long battle with cancer.
Why it is important: Rip was truly one of the good guys. He was a part of the TVCC family since 1973 and was heavily involved in the Athens community. He was a member of the Athens Rotary Club, Cain Center Board of Directors, the Athens Economic Development Corporation, the East Texas Arboretum and the Henderson County Girls Softball Association.
Learn more: Here is the story from TVCC.

Story No. 2 – BIG Friday of football: There are two huge football games Friday night. Both the Athens Hornets and the Malakoff Tigers will clinch playoff spots with wins Friday night. Both teams would be entering the postseason for the third consecutive year. In both cases, it would be for the first time in school history. Malakoff will be on the road in Elkhart. Athens will be home to host Rusk, with White-out scheduled.
Why it is important:
 Come on, this is Texas. Do I really have to answer that?
Learn more:
 Here is info on the Athens White-out.
 If you don’t get enough football on Friday night, then No. 9 TVCC will be taking on No. 6 Navarro at Bruce Field 3 p.m. Saturday. And if you STILL need more, the Cowboys will be in a divisional battle with the Eagles Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.

Story No. 3Burn Ban extended again: Tuesday morning, Henderson County Commissioners’ Court extended the burn ban on a 3-1 vote.
Why it is important: How can this be a top story considering that the burn ban has been in effect continuously since April? Because it could be coming to an end, if only temporarily. This week marked the first time the vote wasn’t unanimous (Ronny Lawrence voted no), and the Keetch-Bynum Index is at its lowest in several weeks – and that was before rain fell Thursday. But if the ban is lifted you better be ready to take care of business because it probably won’t be off for long. Everybody and their uncle in the weather game is saying the Texas drought will extend into next year.
Learn more: Here is the Athens Review story and The Malakoff News story.

Story No. 4 – Monarch Utilities water/sewer rate case: How would you like to pay more than $200 a month for your water and sewer? Neither do Monarch customers. Both State Rep. Lance Gooden and State Sen. Robert Nichols have written letters supporting the nearly 3,000 Henderson County customers in their rate case.
Why it is important: Decisions made in this case could have a far reaching impact on legislation the next time lawmakers meet in Austin.
Learn more: The Malakoff News has a story.

Story No. 5 –  Former Eustace Principal Karen Mullin named Region 7 Principal of the Year: Karen Mullin was named the Region 7 Principal of the Year. I can’t say “Principal Karen Mullin” because the Eustace ISD school board removed her from her position after a 7-year-old photo of her mooning someone came to light. Oh, and EISD has to pay her twice as much to not be the principal. To add to the fun, the old photo was found by a former member of the Eustace City Council, who then shared it with the school. Lawsuits are pending all around.
Why it is important: Someone is going to end up with egg on their face in this situation. It is an object lesson in how things can quickly go wrong.
Learn more: The Athens Review has the story.

Bonus Story – The Texas Rangers: By Saturday morning, the Texas Rangers will either be World Series Champions or they will forever be the team that was twice just one strike away from their ultimate goal and failed. Let’s all hope next week we’ll be talking about the Rangers parade.

Week of October 17, 2011

Story No. 1 – Fugitive Chase in Tool: A suspect fled from a narcotics search in Tool Wednesday night and stayed on the loose, hiding in the woods, until early Thursday morning. Police called in US Marshals, the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, DPS Air from Garland, Texas DPS, and the TDCJ dog teams to help with the search.
Why it is important: The incident was connected with methamphetamine production in the county and will no doubt spur another round of questioning why drugs are so prevalent here.
Learn more: The Athens Review story is here. The Malakoff News story is here.

Story No. 2 – Smoking Ordinance: On Wednesday, the Athens City Council started discussing a possible smoking ordinance in the city. One council member said the process is just beginning, but could include bans in local restaurants and public buildings.
Why it is important: Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, everyone shares the same public space.
Learn more: There have been no stories about this issue yet in the local newspapers, but there was an interesting conversation about it on The Malakoff News Facebook Page.

Story No. 3 – Texas Rangers: The World Series is coming back to Texas with the series tied 1-1. The Rangers now have three consecutive games at The Ballpark in Arlington, playing by American League rules.
Why it is important: By winning Game 2 – in dramatic style, with a 9th inning comeback – the Rangers flipped the home field advantage. This is now a five-game series, with three in the Ballpark. Make sure you are near a TV Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.
Learn more: Best place to check out the World Series is the official site of Major League Baseball.

Story No. 4 – Randall Wayne Mays: The U.S. Supreme Court this week refused to review a petition by Randall Mays, the convicted killer of sheriff’s deputies Tony Ogburn and Paul Habelt. The two deputies were gunned down by Mays during a 2007 standoff in Payne Springs.
Why it is important: That day in 2007 was devastating to local law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office still carries around the memory of Ogburn and Habelt. Anything that stops the march to the executioner would not go over very well in Henderson County.
Learn more: Here’s what the Athens Review had.

Story No. 5 – TVCC Rankings: The local college has three teams with national rankings right now. The Cardinal football team is ranked No. 11; the Cardinal basketball team is starting the year at No. 6; and the Lady Cardinal basketball team is at the top at No. 1.
Why it is important: You want quality sports, don’t you? Or how about the chance to see future professionals on the field or on the court right in Athens? Former TVCC players have landed in the NFL, NBA, and WNBA.
Learn more: Check out Cardinal football here; basketball here; and women’s basketball here. Here is a story by Jayson Larson from this week’s Region XIV media day.

Week of October 10, 2011

(Photo by Muffet used under a Creative Commons License)

Story No. 1 – Burn Ban: Henderson County Commissioners’ Court extended the burn ban again this week. The ban has been in effect since April with commissioners renewing it every two weeks. There was one important change this week: residents can use propane grills and smokers to cook outdoors now. Charcoal is still a no-no.
Why it is important: Area residents might think the drought is over because of the recent rains. Wrong! Henderson County is still near the top of the Keetch-Bynum Drought scale. You don’t want to pick up a $500 fine for burning a pile of leaves or grilling a burger the wrong way. Plus, if you start a fire and it gets out of control, you are the one liable for the damages to your neighbor’s property.
Learn more: The Henderson County Fire Marshal’s Office has the ordinance posted online.
Extra: Fire Marshal Darrell Furrh announced this week indictments and arrests were made in two separate arson cases around Cedar Creek Lake. Read about that here.

Story No. 2 – County Offices Move: Henderson County government offices began moving into the new Annex (the old Prosperity Bank Building) this month. Departments already calling the Annex home include the Tax and Auto Office, Veterans’ Affairs, the IT Department, the County Treasurer and the County Auditor. Next week, Commissioners’ Court will begin holding its meetings in Room 100 of the Annex. Meetings will still be held on Tuesdays at 9 a.m.
Why it is important: You don’t want to get lost when you have to pay your taxes.
Learn more: Here is a story from June 2010, when the county closed on the bank building, as a reminder of how we got to this point.

Story No. 3 – Domestic Violence Awareness Month: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. County officials and domestic abuse survivors gathered on the Courthouse Square in Athens Tuesday to mark the occasion.
Why it is important: Because Henderson County has a very real, but very quiet domestic violence problem. In the past year, local agencies (Crisis Center, HELP Center, Family Peace Project) have assisted 897 new domestic violence victims or children of victims in Henderson County alone.
Learn more: Here’s the Athens Review story of the proclamation signing. The Texas Council on Family Violence has a very informative website.

Story No. 4 – Edom Festival of the Arts: The annual Edom Festival of the Arts will be this weekend, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival features art, music, fun for the kids, and great food.
Why it is important: This event is nearly 40 years old and is the biggest art festival in the area; there’s nothing else like it in this part of Texas. Also, your Saturday alternative is that honey-do list.
Learn more: Check out the Edom website.

Story No. 5 – Texas Rangers: The Texas Rangers lead the American League Championship Series 3-2 and are just one game away from their second straight World Series appearance. The Rangers will play the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 Saturday night with Game 7, if necessary, scheduled for Sunday night.
Why it is important: Two reasons. First, win or lose, the Rangers are what everyone will be talking about Monday morning and you don’t want to be left out. Second, the other option is the Cowboys and does anyone really think they will beat New England Sunday?
Learn more: Check out the Texas Rangers website or the Official site of Major League Baseball.