Obituary: Verna Louise Martin

Verna Louise Martin of Athens passed away Thursday, July 20, 2017. She was born in Pampa, Texas on September 16, 1929 to Earl and Verna Marie Barnard. She was an educator for 40 years and finished her career as a recruiter at Tyler Junior College. Mrs. Martin was preceded in death by her husband Hugh Edward Martin, her parents, & brother Duane Barnard.

She is survived by her son; James Martin and wife Lynda; grandchildren: Maegan Martin, Chayce Martin, Dewayne Stewart, Melanie Montgomery; 5 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law: Shirley Barnard; Nieces and Nephews: David Barnard & wife Teresa, Sherri Stone & husband Tim, Darrell Barnard & wife Emily.

Visitation will be at 1 p.m. prior to the service. Funeral service will be 2 p.m., Monday, July 24, 2017 at Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Larry Fondren officiating. A private family interment will follow at Cathedral in the Pines Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home.

Obituary: Marjorie King Cochran

Marjorie King Cochran of Malakoff went to be with the Lord on 18th of July, 2017.

Marjorie was born August 31, 1931 in Burnt Prairie, IL. Her devotion to her family, community, church and friends was the focus of her life. Marjorie was a master at listening, teaching, telling amazing stories and making you feel good. She also was a devoted follower of the Trinity Valley Community College Choral Department. Marjorie was married to Stewart Benson Cochran, the love of her life for 52 years. Together, Stewart and Marjorie were a spectacular team.

Marjorie received her Masters Degree from San Diego State University. Marjorie was involved in numerous organizations and was an avid animal lover. Marjorie started teaching in 1955 is the San Diego city schools where she won many teaching awards. Her interests included rescuing dogs, bible study groups, listening to big band music of the 40’s, and touring the country in the motor-home with her husband. Marjorie is survived by her husband Stewart Benson Cochran, her son Douglas Benson Cochran, her two grandchildren, Karsen Cochran, and Tanner Benson Cochran. Additionally her sister and brother in-law, Pamela and Charles LLewellyn.

Visitation service will be held at Autry- Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 23. Services will be at First Presbyterian Church of Athens, on Monday, July 24 at 11 a.m.

Athens City Manager submits letter of resignation

Philip Rodriguez

City Officials verified that Athens City Manager Philip Rodriguez submitted his letter of resignation today.

Rodriguez’s last day will be Sept. 10, according to the letter, which says, “It is now time for me to move on in my journey ….”

Rodriguez was hired in March 2015 to replace Pam Burton, who had stepped down in December 2014.

Below is the text of the letter.


Dear Mayor Montgomery, Mayor Pro-Tem Winn and Councilmembers Clay, McCain and Whatley:

It has been my distinct pleasure and honor to represent you, our employees and this community as your City Manager since March 2015. Together we have successfully restored severely neglected water and wastewater systems, brought much needed financial stability which resulted in a four-tier improvement in the City’s credit rating and established a 60-day financial reserve for the first time in City history. We invested heavily in quality of life amenities like our parks and historic assets such as the Texan, created strategic plans for Athens’ future, significantly increased public safety by funding and hiring new police officers and fire inspectors, abated blighted buildings such as the old hospital, found countless efficiencies that saved our taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest and fees, experienced significant growth and development and ushered in new investment at a pace not seen in decades. We did all of this and more while establishing a truly impressive city staff that is one of the most capable group of professionals and public servants that I have ever worked with. I am extremely proud to have played a key leadership role in our countless successes as a City, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

It is now time to for me to move on in my journey, and as such, I am providing this letter as my notice of resignation as City Manager, effective September 10, 2017. It is my commitment to work with you and our entire Management Team to plan for a smooth transition of projects, initiatives and responsibilities prior to my departure. Knowing this decision will impact the organization, I earnestly encourage you to rely on the members of the Management Team to help lead the way forward. Each member of the Team is a true professional, subject-expert and leader in the organization and community. In particular, I urge you to consider relying heavily on Gary Whittle, Director of Project Management to serve in an Interim City Manager capacity. I am confident that he can assist the City Council as you ensure quality service delivery for the community until such a time that a permanent City Manager can be selected.

Lastly, I wish to thank Mayor Jerry Don Vaught for his consistent support and mentorship during my time in Athens. He, along with a number of dedicated community leaders like yourselves, ignited a resurgence in Athens that set the stage for the City’s greatest days ahead. Thank you for allowing me to serve as City Manager of Athens, and I wish you and the City much success in the future.

In Public Service,
Philip Rodriguez
City Manager

A new school year brings an urgent need for volunteers at CASA

Press release

Backpacks, pencils and notebooks are filling up the aisles in stores all over Texas, reminding us that a new school year is just around the corner. The beginning of the school year can be an exciting time for most children, but it can also lead to more reports of abuse and neglect as faculty, staff and other parents notice signs of maltreatment children may have endured during their time away.

In 2016, schools were the most common source of child abuse or neglect reports made to the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). Of the more than 293,000 reports – a significant increase from last year – a total of 56,980 allegations were from school officials.

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Obituary: Alfred Kelley

Funeral services for Alfred Kelley, 84, of Athens are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, July 21, 2017 at the Sand Springs Baptist Church with Bro. Erick Graham officiating. Interment will follow at Oaklawn Memorial Park in Athens.

Mr. Kelley went to be with his Lord and Savior on July 17, 2017 in Athens.

Alfred Winson Kelley was born July 20, 1932 in Columbia, Tennessee the son of Alfred Winson Kelley and Ora Jane Shepherd Kelley. He was inducted into the Army in 1957 and spent nearly ten years serving our Country. He was a member of the Sand Springs Baptist Church and was a good Christian man who loved reading his Bible. Alfred owned Athens Alternator & Battery for many years and worked hard to provide for his family. He was a musician who loved to sing and play his guitar; even spending time in his younger years in a country and western band. He was a loving husband, father, brother and grandfather who will be missed by all he knew and loved.

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