Week of October 22, 2012

Story No. 1 – Judge denies FFRF banner:
This week, Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders denied the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request to display an atheist banner on the square in December.
Why it is important:
The FFRF is the organization that protested the county’s inclusion of a nativity scene in its courthouse square decorations last year.
Learn more:
Michael Hannigan at The Malakoff/Athens News broke the story. The Athens Review also had a story.

Story No. 2 – FFRF targeted AISD first: A month before the nativity scene controversy broke, the FFRF contacted Athens ISD to complain about a field trip to a church pumpkin patch.
Why it is important:
See Story 1.
Learn more:
The Athens/Malakoff News.

Story No. 3 – Fourth case of West Nile Virus: A fourth case of human West Nile Virus was confirmed in Henderson County last week.
Why it is important:
This is double the number of cases in all other years (back to 1999) combined.
Learn more:
The Malakoff/Athens News.

Story No. 4 – Pct. 1 JP Henry Ashford passes away: The Rev. Henry Ashford passed away of an apparent heart attack in Waco last weekend. He was 65.
Why it is important:
The Rev. Ashford was a pastor, Justice of the Peace, municipal judge, and active member of the community.
Learn more:
Both the Athens Review and The Malakoff/Athens News.

Story No. 5 – Former TVCC coaches fired/investigated: News broke last Saturday that former Trinity Valley Community College girls basketball coaches Michael and Kenya Landers were fired from their jobs at the University of Mississippi for “impermissible recruiting contacts and academic misconduct.”
Why it is important:
The last time Athens saw Mr. and Mrs. Landers they were celebrating a national championship title in March.
Learn more:
The story is all over the web, so just Google “Michael Landers.” The Review also has a story.

Week of September 3, 2012

Story No. 1 – Another case of West Nile: The second case of West Nile Virus was reported in Henderson County, and a fatality from the disease was reported in nearby Cherokee County.
Why it is important:
The danger from West Nile continues to be on the minds of area residents.
Learn more: The Review.

Story No. 2 – Dry weather taking a toll: Commissioners’ Court extended the burn ban another two weeks and the City of Athens initiated Step 1 of its Drought Contingency Plan this week.
Why it is important: The drought may not be as bad as it was last year, but it is still bad.
Learn more: Details of the Athens Stage 1 Drought Contingency are listed on the front page of the city’s website.

Story No. 3 – Athens council to vote on tax rate: The Athens City Council are expected to approve a 3-cent ad valorem tax increase during its regular meeting Monday night.
Why it is important: Taxes — and the services they provide — are always important.
Learn more: The Athens/Malakoff News had a story a couple of weeks ago.

Story No. 4 – Family Peace Project wants to go viral: The Family Peace Project has been selected to be a part of the Chase Community Giving online contest.
Why it is important: Because there is a share of $2.5 million on the line for charities.
Learn more: Check out the Chase Community Giving Facebook page and vote!

Story No. 5 – Big game for TVCC: The No. 6 TVCC Cardinals will play host to the No. 7 Iowa Western Reivers (yes, that’s spelled correctly – best I can tell it is a sort of pirate) Saturday at Bruce Field. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
Why it is important: This game could tell us if the Cards really do have a shot at a national championship.
Learn more: Jayson Larson at the Review has an advance.

Week of January 23, 2012

(Photo credit The Athens Chamber of Commerce)

Story No. 1 – Citizen of the Year: Judith McGilvray was named the Athens Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year during the chamber banquet last Friday. East Texas Medical Center was the Business of the Year. The Ambassador of the Year was Darlene Clark.
Why it is important: Because these are prestigious awards with a long history.
Learn more: The Athens Review has the story.

Story No. 2 – Limited time to save primary: Leaders from the Texas Democratic and Republican parties are scheduled to meet today to see if the April 3 primary date can be saved. All they have to do is agree on redistricting maps.
Why it is important: Get ready for more moving election dates.
Learn more: The Texas Tribune had a good story early in the week.

Story No. 3 – Brewery coming to town: First Athens went wet and now it is getting a brewery. The Cedar Creek Brewery will be opening on Highway 175 between Athens and Eustace.
Why it is important: New business is always good, plus the brewery is going to host tours on Saturdays.
Learn more: We first learned about this when The Malakoff News posted a link to this Pegasusnews.com story.

Story No. 4 – TVCC women still undefeated: The No. 1-ranked Trinity Valley Lady Cardinals are 20-0 after an easy win over San Jac Wednesday night.
Why it is important: We could be seeing a very special season unfolding in Athens. Remember, the coaches Landers (Michael and Kenya) took the Lady Cardinals to the national championship game last year but came up short. Could this year see a triumphant return?
Learn more: Jayson Larson has a story.

Story No. 5 – Power out at courthouse: There was some excitement at the Henderson County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon when a wire leading into a transformer in the basement shorted out and caught fire. Judge Richard Sanders said the fire was quickly extinguished with no other damage, although one employee did get stuck in the elevator when the power went out. She was rescued pretty quickly by maintenance, however, said Sanders.
Why it is important: Truthfully, it wasn’t THAT big a deal: the fire was put out, the employee got out of the elevator, and Oncor came and fixed the problem. But it is still the type of story that gets around.
Learn more: The Review had a short story.


Week of January 9, 2012

Story No. 1 – Smoking ordinance public hearings: After months of discussion, residents of Athens are going to get the chance to be heard on the city’s proposed no smoking ordinance. The first of two public hearings is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 23.
Why it is important: It doesn’t matter if you smoke or don’t smoke, or even if you are a resident of Athens or not … this ordinance will have an effect on you if you go in public in the city.
Learn more: The Review has the story on the public hearing.

Story No. 2 – Election confusion: Federal and state officials are still having trouble figuring out the once-a-decade redistricting from 2011, and the result is confusion all across Texas politics.
Why it is important: If you are waiting on a voter registration card, you are going to have to wait a little bit longer.
Learn more: Both the Review and The Malakoff News had the story.

Story No. 3 – Time for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Monday is the annual MLK holiday. Johnson Chapel AME Church will be hosting the Annual Gospel Explosion starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and the annual Candlelight Vigil will be held 7 p.m. Monday at New Hope Corinth CME Church. Both churches are in Malakoff.
Why it is important: Civil rights, nonviolence, service, equality, courage, faithfulness … Dr. King is an example for us in so many ways.
Learn more: Check out the official website.

Story No. 4 – TVCC back in session: Students registered this week for the spring semester at Trinity Valley Community College.
Why it is important: Basketball is back, for one. Another reason is a new requirement for students this semester is a bacterial meningitis vaccination.
Learn more: Here’s info about the vaccination.

Story No. 5 – Meeting for big outreach: The big rally might be over, but Henderson County Christians are looking to keep the momentum going forward. A planning meeting is scheduled for Monday at Sand Springs Baptist Church for a February outreach.
Why it is important: There are plenty of poor and down-on-their-luck people in Henderson County right now who need help – hopefully this is a step in that direction.
Learn more: Henderson County Christian has info.

*BONUS STORY – Day for friggatriskaidekaphobia: That’s right, it is Friday the 13th… the first of 2012. There will be two more this year (April, July).
Why it is important: Seriously, how many times do you get to use friggatriskaidekaphobia?
Learn More: Time to turn to Wikipedia.

Week of November 28, 2011

Story No. 1 – Primary filing period opens: Filing for the Republican and Democratic primary elections officially began this past Monday and will run through Dec. 15. The election will be held March 6.
Why it is important: Because there are plenty of important seats open this election cycle, including: State Senator, State Representative (x2), Sheriff, District Attorney, County Attorney, Pct. 1 Commissioner, and Pct. 3 Commissioner – not to mention several more localized races.
Learn more: The Malakoff News had a midweek roundup of filings. 

Story No. 2 – Parade time: Santa can’t come to town without a parade, it seems, and Henderson County residents have their choice of four different events over the next two weekends. Athens and Gun Barrel City will both be hosting parades this Saturday night. Next Saturday, Dec. 10, Malakoff will host the only daytime parade and Eustace will host its Christmas on the Square.
Why it is important: Because we don’t want any Scrooges around here.
Learn more: Here’s info on the Athens parade, the GBC parade, and the Malakoff parade. Sorry, we couldn’t find anything for Eustace except the date.

Story No. 3 – Michael Landers honoredTrinity Valley Community College women’s basketball coach Michael Landers received a plaque and some much deserved praise Wednesday night for reaching the 400-win mark.
Why it is important: Because the TVCC women’s basketball program is a source of excellence year in and year out — and you really don’t get to see excellence all that often.
Learn more: Not much else to say.
Bonus info.: Remember, the TVCC football Cardinals will be in the Citizens Bank Bowl this weekend.

Story No. 4 – Kendall Sanders decommits: Athens senior Kendall Sanders backed off his verbal commitment to play football at OSU this week, saying he would like to look closer at other offers.
Why it is important: Because the move came after an unofficial visit to Austin and the University of Texas — and everything about UT is important.
Learn more: UPDATE: On Friday, the Athens Daily Review reported that Kendall Sanders has decided to commit to the University of Texas. Jayson Larson at the Review has the latest.

Story No. 5 – Senate passes defense spending billThe U.S. Senate Thursday passed a $662 billion defense spending plan. Included in the plan is a controversial provision that would allow the government to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists, even if they are American citizens.
Why it is important: Rarely does 5 Things pick a national story, but the balance between security and civil rights touches us all.
Learn more: To try and be fair we were going to run the stories from both Fox News and MSNBC, but both websites used the Associated Press version. Instead we flipped a coin, so here is the Associated Press story on Fox News - which is identical to the story on MSNBC.

Week of November 21, 2011

Carol Morton of Keep Athens Beautiful is caught moving into her new office at the new Athens EDC building this week.

Story No. 1 – Moving into Athens EDC building: After more than two years, the first tenants have moved into the building purchased by the Athens EDC (the old Eckerd Drug building on W. Corsicana Street). So far AEDC, Keep Athens Beautiful, and the TVCC Small Business Development Center have taken up residence. The Athens Tourism Department and the Athens Chamber of Commerce will also be moving in.
Why it is important: Because having all those entities under one roof could act like an incubator for ideas and business for Athens … and also because it is your tax dollars that paid for the building.
Extra Info: The building has not been named yet, but several suggestions will likely be on the next AEDC agenda. Our favorite so far is the Athens Partnership Center.
Learn more: This Athens Review story from August marks the start of renovations to the building.

Story No. 2 – TVCC tree lighting: Monday (Nov. 28), Trinity Valley Community College will kick off the holiday season with a Christmas tree lighting at 7 p.m. There will be music and fun and a big elf in a red suit.
Why it is important: All around the county folks are getting ready for Christmas and the New Year. By the time Monday rolls around, decorations will be up on the square. The following weekend is the Athens parade and GBC parade, the weekend after that is the Malakoff parade. With everything going on it is nice to have an official start.
Learn more: Here are some more details from TVCC.

Story No. 3 – Education funding lawsuits: The Malakoff ISD school board this week decided to join a lawsuit against the State of Texas regarding school funding.
Why it is important: School funding doesn’t just touch everyone in the county, the issue goes directly back to the past Legislative Session and the way lawmakers cut the budget. Malakoff is not the only district involved – no, far from it. There are four different groups filing lawsuits, and the biggest one (which includes Eustace ISD but not Malakoff) represents more than 300 districts.
Learn more: The Malakoff story is here.

Story No. 4 – Seven Points settlement: Three separate lawsuit settlements involving the Seven Points Police Department will cost taxpayers $21,500.
Why it is important: First, because hopefully we are seeing the gradual winding down of the problems that have rocked Seven Points over the last couple of years. Second, because the problems that have rocked Seven Points over the last couple of years better be a cautionary tale for other small municipalities around the county.
Learn more: Art Lawler at the Review has been all over this story from the very start.

Story No. 5 – Holiday shopping season opens: The Christmas tree will be going up this weekend for many folks – which means thoughts will be turning not to sugar plums, but to filling up the space under the tree with gifts.
Why it is important: It isn’t just the season to be merry, it is the season to be scammed. The holidays already cost an arm and a leg, make sure it doesn’t cost your identity as well.
Learn more: The Athens PD has some great tips on how to be safe while shopping.

Week of October 31, 2011

Story No. 1Daylight Savings Ends: Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour before you go to sleep Saturday night. Officially, daylight savings ends 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
Why it is important: Do you really want to lose an extra hour of sleep? Me either.
Learn more: What’s better than Wikipedia for this sort of explanation?

Story No. 2 – Big Game Saturday: Last week, the TVCC Cardinals and the Navarro College Bulldogs played one of the most entertaining football games of the year, with the Cardinals winning 55-51. The college playoffs start this Saturday and the same two teams will face off at 3 p.m. at Bruce Field.
Why it is important:
 The Cardinals scored two touchdowns in the final 1:50 last week to pull off the upset and get this week’s playoff game at home. These two teams are primed to put on a show Saturday afternoon, and at $5 a ticket to watch guys who may end up playing on Sundays you can’t beat the price.
Learn more:
 Get ready for the game by reading Jayson Larson’s wrap up from last week.

Story No. 3 – Cancer Making Noise: Cancer survivors rode into Athens this week to send a statement to Congressman Jeb Hensarling about the importance of cancer research funding. Hensarling is a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Why it is important: From Washington to Austin to Henderson County, government agencies are cutting budgets. Hensarling’s committee has been tasked with slicing $11.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Expect to see more such demonstrations from a variety of sources in the coming year.
Learn more: Here’s the Review story on the cancer bus.

Story No. 4 – Deer Season: Saturday, Nov. 5, is the start of white-tail deer hunting season.
Why it is important: Well … it’s deer season.
Learn more: Here is a great column in the Austin-American Statesman about the start of deer season. The Houston Chronicle says more deer, smaller antlers.

Story No. 5 – Changes at Malakoff Food Pantry: The Malakoff Food Pantry is now Faith in Action Outreach. The name change reflects an expanding ministry, and the desire for the non-denominational organization to help more people in more ways.
Why it is important: Faith in Action Outreach helps feed 1,000 people a month, a staggering number of hungry when you think about it. Also, the organization started a weekend feeding program for students at Malakoff and Eustace elementary schools. A similar, but separate, program was already underway at Tool elementary. The economic troubles are causing a greater need in Henderson County.
Learn more: Here is the story about Faith in Action from The Malakoff News. And here is the group’s website.

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.