Sen. Robert Nichols: My five cents

Press release from State Sen. Robert Nichols

This week the pace at the Legislature picked up as almost all Senate committees are now meeting and House committees were announced. Bills now begin the long process of being referred and then heard in committee. The legislative process kills more bills than it passes, which I consider a good thing. Only the best legislation that has survived the hearing process and has had significant public input should become law.

Five things that happened this week at your Texas Capitol are:

1. Safe passage bill for highway and construction workers

On Wednesday, I filed Senate Bill 510 to require motorists near stopped highway or construction vehicles- with lights activated- to either vacate the lane closest to the highway maintenance/construction vehicle or slow down. This bill is intended to create safer highways for both motorists and workers.

As a former Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioner, I believe that safety should be a top priority. These men and women are at risk every time they put on their orange vests and work on our roads.

There is already a ‘move-over/slow-down’ law to protect emergency vehicles such as police, EMS and fire trucks. Tow trucks are even protected. This bill will simply offer the same protection to our state highway workers.

Since 1938, 101 TxDOT employees have been killed while working within the work zone or on the shoulder of a roadway. Seven of these fatalities were within the last 10 years, with two occurring in August and September of 2008.

Even one preventable death is too many. In my opinion, this legislation is past due and I look forward to seeing it passed into law.

2. State water outlook

In 2011, Texas suffered one of the worst droughts in state history, which we are still recovering from today. As horrible as it was, this drought helped bring attention to the even larger problem of Texas’ projected long-term water shortage as the state’s population continues to increase.

This week Senator Troy Fraser presented a bill dealing with state water resources to the Natural Resources Committee. Senate Bill 4 would create the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas (SWIFT) to provide a fund to finance projects in the State Water Plan. There will be an emphasis on conservation, reuse and rural projects.

This will go a long way towards funding our 50 year water plan and I predict SB 4 will be a “bill to watch” this session.

3. Senate Transportation Committee’s first meeting

This week was also the first Transportation Committee meeting of Session. As chair, I emphasized my goals for the coming months. I believe it is important to move people and goods safely, effectively and efficiently. I am hopeful that as we consider legislation this session, we will keep this mission in mind. Additionally, I plan to work with state leadership to fundamentally fix our long-term funding for transportation.

4. Texas Electric Cooperatives at the Capitol

On Wednesday, representatives of electric cooperatives from across the state came to the Capitol to discuss legislative issues important to them. Electric cooperatives are unique from other power providers because they are tax-paying, not-for-profit businesses owned by the consumers they supply.

Senate District 3 is served by eight different cooperatives, each with their own board of directors, general manager and employees. They are integral parts of the communities in which they operate.

5. Governor’s appointments

Having served six years on the Senate Nominations Committee, I am very aware of the impact state boards have on Texas and I am encouraging more Senate District 3 constituents to apply for these positions. The governor is responsible for filling around 400 appointments for everything from the Animal Health Commission to the Soil and Water Conservation Board, and these decisions are then confirmed by the Senate. Our communities are blessed with so many individuals whose expertise and backgrounds could really benefit our state as a whole and I encourage you to get involved. For an application and more information, please visit

Cardinal Pride luncheon scheduled

By Benny Rogers, TVCC Sports Information

The next Cardinal Pride Luncheon is scheduled Monday at Ole’ West Steak House, starting at noon.

The price for the all-you-can-eat buffet lunch is $9.

The event provides boosters, fans, staff and the community the opportunity to hear from our coaches and interact with our athletic staff and athletes.

There will be door prizes.


Coach Tosha Spain has announced five signees:

  • Victoria Hesson (5-11, RS/S, Porter High School)
  • Alexis Bogiorno (5-5, S, Rains High School)
  • Ashlynn Caldwell (6-2, M, Cypress Creek High School)
  • Lauren Fernandez (6-0, RS, Oak Ridge High School)
  • Brittney Griffith (5-0, M, Archer City High School)

The Lady Cardinals were 18-12 last year and qualified for the regional tournament for the first time.

The 2013 season will be the fourth year of the program.


The Lady Cardinals begin a three-date home stand today. They play Grayson at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at Cain Park.

Coach Ashley Johnston’s squad is 6-4 on the season.

Saturday, the Lady Cardinals are also scheduled to be at home, facing Grambling State in doubleheader action at 1 and 3 p.m. Former Lady Cardinal Amanda Lester plays for Grambling State.

The Lady Cardinals are also scheduled to be at home Monday against North Central Texas. Action starts at 1 p.m. Game 2 will begin at 3 p.m


The No. 1-ranked Lady Cardinals take to the road for the final time during the regular season Saturday, going to Jacksonville for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Coach Elena Lovato’s squad is 25-1 on the year and 12-0 in conference. Jacksonville is 13-11 and 6-5 after a 60-50 win against Panola at home Thursday night.

In the first meeting at Cardinal Gym last month, the Lady Cardinals nabbed a 74-53 win against Jacksonville.

The Lady Cardinals are scheduled to be at home next Wednesday against Angelina at 5:30 p.m.


The Cardinals do not play Saturday. Next up for the Cardinals is a trip to Carthage next Wednesday to face Panola at 7 p.m.

Coach Kris Baumann’s squad is 16-10 on the year and 7-8 in conference.

DAILY BRIEF: Top 5 Stories of the Week

Tuesday, Feb. 12, was Athens Day at the Capitol. Above, State Rep. Lance Gooden poses with members from the Athens community. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Tuesday, Feb. 12, was Athens Day at the Capitol. Above, State Rep. Lance Gooden poses with members from the Athens community. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Story No. 1 – Athens Day at the Capitol: Tuesday, members of the Athens community traveled to Austin for Athens Day at the Capitol.
Why it is important: Face time with elected officials is one of the most important factors in government.
Learn more: There was a story in the Review. 

Story No. 2 – County lawmakers file legislation: State Reps. Jim Pitts and Lance Gooden have both filed legislation that is drawing attention.
Why it is important: There is a reason we call them “law-makers” … it is sort of what they are supposed to be doing.
Learn more: I wrote about this issue. 

Story No. 3 – Local connections to Carnival Triumph: The country watched in fascination as a crippled cruise ship limped its way into port this week.
Why it is important: Besides the media attention the story received, we learned that a Kemp resident with ties to Malakoff was onboard.
Learn more: Rather than giving you a link, just Google “Carnival Triumph.”

Story No. 4 – Lady Cards are No. 1: The Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals moved into the top spot in the national ranking this week.
Why it is important: Because the Lady Cards have a legitimate shot to repeat as national champions.
Learn more: In the TVCC Sports Notes. 

Story No. 5 – Big honor for Railway Cafe: The Railway Cafe in Athens was named in the Texas Monthly recommendations section.
Why it is important: Because we love Texas Monthly .. and we love the Railway Cafe.
Learn more: Rich Flowers over at the Review had a good story. 


Our first birth announcement. Nice to meet you Alexis Faith Crye.

The Athens ISD February Teachers of the Month were named.

We had some photos from a sweet bake sale for Valentine’s Day.

Obituaries: Thomas Simmons. 


We need to celebrate academics just as much as athletics … and this story by Jayson Larson on an Athens boy’s gold medal in number sense does just that.

Don’t forget to check our community calendar for this weekend’s cool events: Barrel racing in Malakoff; Heart & Sole at the Cain Center; and the For the Love of Art show.

If you need something added to the Daily Brief, just click “Contact” in the menu bar and let us know.

You can get the Daily Brief in your inbox, Monday through Friday. Just add your email in the form below and let Henderson County Now come to you.



Birth Announcement: Alexis Faith Crye

Alexis Faith Crye
Alexis Faith Crye

Jessica and Mark Crye of Athens proudly announce the birth of their daughter, Alexis Faith Crye.

Siblings Kaleb and Emma also welcomed their baby sister.

Alexis was born 8:08 a.m. Feb. 8 at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler. She was 6 pounds, 5 ounces.

Her grandparents are Tim and Denice Meredith of Athens, and Dottie Crye of Cross Roads.

Obituary: Charlie Thomas Simmons

Thomas Simmons
Thomas Simmons

A memorial service for Charlie Thomas Simmons, 89, Athens is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church with Dr. Faulk Landrum officiating.

Burial will precede the service at 10 a.m. in Oaklawn Memorial Park under the direction of Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home.

Thomas died Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 in Athens.

He was born March 11, 1923 in Willow Springs Community to Charlie Thomas and Billie Tempie Welch Simmons and was a lifelong resident of Athens. Thomas had been controller of Texas Clay Products 14 years during which time the company sold the brick to build North Park Mall. He then retired after a 20-year tenure as County Auditor. He had a lifelong love for cattle and had been a lifelong contributor and supporter of the Willow Springs Community and cemetery. Thomas was an active member of First United Methodist Church and Builders Sunday School class. He served his community in many capacities for many years. He was very active in reconstruction of Athens Country Club in 1986.He was a lifelong fan and supporter of TVCC basketball and football programs.

Thomas was preceded in death by his wife of 63.5 years, Marcelle Simmons; son William David Simmons; and a brother John K. Simmons.

Survivors include son Gary Simmons and wife Pam; daughter-in-law Deborah Simmons; granddaughter Sheradon Waits and husband Seth, Sarah Simmons, all of Dallas, numerous nieces and nephews.

Honorary pallbearers will be Lester Kinabrew, David Finch, Billy Norwood, Judge Jack Holland, Charles McMurry, Nick Nichols and John Simmons.

Visitation for family and friends will be 6-8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 225 Lovers Lane, Athens, Texas 75751 or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 9400 North Central Expressway, Dallas, Texas 75231.

You may leave a message of condolence or light a memorial candle for the family at