In this photo from last summer, Clay McKinney, then 14, poses with his father, Pct. 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney, and grandfather, Mac McKinney. Clay had just finished cutting 25 acres of hay by himself, something that might have been outlawed by new Bureau of Labor rules, but the proposed changes were dropped last week.
Story No. 1 – Proposed Farm Labor Changes dropped: Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it was dropping proposed changes to agricultural child labor regulations. The new rules for the employment of those under 16 would have put restrictions on the operation of tractors, and prohibited many animal husbandry practices such as branding, breeding, dehorning, vaccinating, castrating, and treating sick or injured animals.
Why it is important: In a rural area like Henderson County, the rules were seen as an attack against a way of life.
Learn more: The Malakoff News and The Athens News had the story. You can read it here. (The News has begun to post the entire paper online, so you will have to go to the page to read the story.)
Story No. 2 – Anonymous Group Enters Nativity Debate: An anonymous group concerned over the possible cost of a legal battle over the county nativity scene has hired Athens attorney Martin Bennett to represent them. County officials confirmed Bennett has had meetings with members of the Keep Athens Beautiful board and County Attorney Clint Davis.
Why it is important: This is the first time a concerted effort for moving the nativity scene has come from within the county.
Learn more: The story was only in The Athens News, but that paper doesn’t have a website.
Story No. 3 – Monarch at the Table: Monarch (a subsidiary of SouthWest Water Company), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a coalition of affected cities, and Texans Against Monopolies Excessive Rates (TAMER) have been engaged in negotiations over water and sewer rates the past two weeks in Austin.
Why it is important: Thousands of Monarch customers live in Henderson County, particularly around Cedar Creek Lake and Lake Palestine.
Learn more: Again, the story was in The Malakoff News and The Athens News.
UPDATE: The Malakoff News and The Athens News reported Friday that an agreement has been reached – details are expected to be released later.
Story No. 4 – FPP Annual Waffle Breakfast: The Family Peace Project will hold its annual Waffle Breakfast fundraiser Saturday morning, May 5.
Why it is important: Because the waffles are awesome and the cause is important.
Learn more: The 11th Annual Family Peace Project Waffle Breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at the United Methodist Church (225 Lovers Lane) in Athens. Tickets are $6 per person in advance, $7 at the door. Children under 5 are free. Call 903-677-9177 for information.
Story No. 5 – Farm Market Comes Back: Fresh vegetables and crafts will be back on the city parking lot this Saturday as the Athens Farmers Market returns.
Why it is important: Because the Farmers Market has a long history in the city — besides, who doesn’t like fresh veggies (eat more!!).
Learn more: The Athens Review has the story.