Sen. Nichols: My five cents

State Sen. Robert Nichols
State Sen. Robert Nichols

Press release from Sen. Robert Nichols’ Office

The hardest part about this stage of the legislative session is needing to be three places at one time. This happened several times this week as I needed to be in one committee to hear testimony, present a bill in a different committee, and cast a vote in a third committee. The only way to be everywhere I need to be is to work fast and coordinate with other senators who also need to be several places at once. My great Senate staff keeps me organized as well. As you can tell, it’s a busy time for everyone here in Austin.

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

A vote for schools in Senate District 3

This week the Texas Senate tackled a piece of legislation that would increase the number of charter schools in Texas. After careful consideration, I decided to cast my vote in opposition of the bill which passed 30-1. I am not opposed to the concept of charter schools; in fact, we have several great ones in Senate District 3. However, prior to each legislative session, I make a point to visit with all 102 school superintendents in Senate District 3. One thing I have learned is that most public schools receive less funding per student than charter schools statewide. Additionally, public schools have more rules and state regulations than charters.

Unfortunately, SB 2 does not adequately address these two important issues. Until the playing field is leveled and school funding is addressed, I cannot support further charter expansion. I have often said the education of our students is one of the most important things we make decisions on in the state legislature. This week I was proud to stand up for the public school students of my district, even if it meant standing alone.

Gunmakers moving to Texas?

On Wednesday the Senate passed SB 1467 by Senator Craig Estes to attract more gun makers to Texas. At a time when other states and the federal government are attempting to increase gun control, this bill would create incentive programs for gun manufacturers in the state’s economic development law. In addition, Governor Rick Perry has already sent more than 30 invitations to out-of-state manufacturers to move their operations to Texas. I am pleased to have been able to vote in favor of SB 1467 and be a part of this movement.


One interesting measure under consideration this session is House Concurrent Resolution 59 by Representative Todd Hunter. Under his proposal, the state would create a joint interim committee to study seawater desalination along the Texas coast. The study would spend the next year-and-a-half analyzing the economic viability of desalination from coastal waters.

What many people do not know is that the state already has 45 desalination projects, and not just along the coast. The Texas Water Development Board estimates that there are around 2.7 billion acre-feet of brackish groundwater throughout Texas. As we begin to look for long-term solutions to our state’s water needs, desalination is one of several possible ideas deserving of attention.

House budget

After much debate, the Texas House recently approved a $193.8 billion budget for the next two years. With the Senate having already passed their own version, some significant differences have already been noticed. Some of these include the amount to be spent by the state on public education and the possibility of Medicaid expansion.

The differences between the two bills will now be worked out in weeks of meetings by a committee of selected House and Senate members. The joint bill will then have to get final approval from both chambers. Bottom line, the budget process is far from over. There will be more changes in the next few weeks as the Legislature works out how to allocate our much-sought-after state dollars.


On Thursday approximately 2,000 Texas realtors came to visit the Capitol. With approximately 80,000 members across the state, the Texas Association of Realtors is an organization that advocates on behalf of realtors and private-property owners to keep homeownership affordable and to protect private-property rights. They are an important part of our capitalistic market and it was a pleasure to have them visit.

District 13-2A track meet results

By Michael V. Hannigan

The District 13-2A track meet was held Thursday, April 11, in Malakoff. Local schools involved include Eustace, Malakoff and Kemp.

The Eustace girls varsity took first place, while the boys took second. The Malakoff girls finished sixth and the boys were fifth. The Kemp girls took fourth and the boys were seventh.

The top four finishers in each event will advance to the area track meet. Those advancing include:


  • Eustace: 4×400 relay team, Samantha Crocker, (3200 meter run, 1600 meter run), Noa Taylor (800 meter run), Jaci Aiken (110 meter hurdles, 300 meter hurdles, long jump, triple jump), Caitlyn Culp (shot put), Casey Bramblitt (shot put), Grace Holcombe (discus), Chelse Oldham (discus), Mackenzie Abbott (discus), Alex Cravey (pole vault), Meagan Gunter (pole vault), Whitney Boerner (pole vault)
  • Malakoff: Erika Gilmore (110 meter hurdles), Brenda Cruz (1600 meter run)
  • Kemp: 4×100 relay team, 4×400 relay team, Kelsey Gage (800 meter run), Bree Weisinger (110 meter hurdles, 300 meter hurdles), Madison Allen (300 meter hurdles), Nicole Cox (200 meter dash), Madison Thompson (high jump), Madison Kerr (shot put)


  • Eustace: 4×400 relay team, Evan Arambula (3200 meter run, 1600 meter run), Mark Zimmerer (3200 meter run, 1600 meter run), Preston Schwartz (3200 meter run, 1600 meter run), Gavin Kirkhart (800 meter run), John Bradburn (300 meter hurdles, triple jump), Tyler Stokes (high jump), Thomas Hyde (shot put), Tyler Folsom (discus), Kyle Prselley (discus), Austin Givan (pole vault), Gavin Kirkhart (pole vault)
  • Malakoff: 4×100 relay team, 800 relay team, Rene Aguilar (800 meter run), Stephan Wolfe (110 meter hurdles), Demontes Dowell (100 meter dash), Jake Woolverton (300 meter hurdles, high jump), Garrian McCallister (200 meter dash), Carrington Manning (long jump)
  • Kemp: Jesus Perez (3200 meter run, 1600 meter run), Forrest Summerhill (110 meter hurdles), Morgan Webb (400 meter dash), Jordan Litts (high jump)

TVCC Cheerleaders in second place

The Cardinal Cheerleaders will be presenting their 2013 national competition routine free to the public at 7 p.m. Monday at Cardinal Gym. The team is traveling to Daytona, Fla., this week for national competition. (COURTESY PHOTO)
The Cardinal Cheerleaders will be presenting their 2013 national competition routine free to the public at 7 p.m. Monday at Cardinal Gym. The team is traveling to Daytona, Fla., this week for national competition. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Following the end of the first round of national competition Thursday, the Trinity Valley Community College Cheerleaders were in second place.

The TVCC team was awarded a first-round score of 95.88, coming in hot on the heels of Corsicana’s Navarro College.

TVCC competed against five other college teams in the first round of the National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship, which is held each year in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The top three teams in the first round were guaranteed a place in Friday’s final round of competition. The other three were scheduled to face off against each other Thursday evening, vying for the fourth seat in the final round.

“I am extremely pleased with how well our students represented themselves today. We have a few things we can adjust and I feel like we are in a great place for finals,” said TVCC Cheerleading Coach Khris Franklin.

“Our team was simply awesome to watch. TVCC should be proud of the job these young men and women are doing here,” said TVCC Executive Director of Student Life Dr. Charles Hueber, who is traveling with the team.

Overall, TVCC came in 1.65 points behind Navarro’s lead score of 97.53. Weatherford College placed third, trailing TVCC by 1.35 points with a 94.53 out of a possible 100.

The other three teams in the junior college division of the competition were Wallace State Community College in Alabama, Mt. San Antonio College in California and Iowa Central Community College in Iowa. Those three teams scored a 91.45, 88.15 and 86.40 respectively.

The finals round of competition is expected to take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Friday. The awards ceremony is set to begin at approximately 1:45.

The All-Henderson County Basketball Teams (courtesy the Athens Daily Review)

The following are the 2013 All-Henderson County Area Basketball Teams. The teams are picked by staff members at the Athens Daily Review, with input from the coaches. We reprint it here with permission.


David Marler, 6-4/Senior/Mabank

Senior David Marler had a strong year for the Panthers after a first-team all-district selection last year. The senior post averaged 17.2 points per game to go with 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game. He was a 61-percent field goal shooter and a 70 percent free-throw shooter. Marler was the District 15-3A offensive player of the year this year.

Anthony Sanders, 6-1 junior guard, Athens
KEY STAT: Averaged 23.2 points, 6.1 assists, 5 steals, 5 rebounds.

Logan McClelland, 5-10 senior guard, LaPoynor
KEY STAT: 2 steals per game, 5 points per game.

Marcus Dowell, 6-0 sophomore post, Malakoff
KEY STAT: Averaged 8 points and seven rebounds per game

James Jackson, 6-0 freshman forward, LaPoynor
KEY STAT: 14 points per game, 10.5 rebounds, 57 percent field goal shooter.

Ryan Jefferson, 6-2 junior forward/guard, Athens
KEY STAT: 10 ppg., 6.8 rebounds off bench

Dean Nuckolls, LaPoynor and Tracy Carter, Mabank

First Team

  • Deon Johnson 5-2 SR LaPoynor Outside
  • Demontes Dowell 5-8 JR Malakoff Outside
  • Blake Ralson 6-0 SR Brownsboro Outside
  • Octavius Crear 5-8 JR LaPoynor Outside
  • Landon Marshall 6-2 SR Mabank In/Out
  • Davonte Givens 6-1 SR Brownsboro Outside

Second Team

  • Zach Spencer 5-9 SR Trinidad Outside
  • John Bradburn 6-2 SR Eustace In/Out
  • Patrick McCarthy 6-4 SR Brownsboro Inside
  • Courtland Lyons 5-10 SO Athens Outside
  • Kyle Wood 6-0 SR Eustace Outside
  • Keonte Ross 6-0 SR Malakoff Outside

Honorable Mention

  • ATHENS — Antwon Chilton, senior; Chris Jefferson, junior.
  • BROWNSBORO — Taylor Beall, senior; Will Bailey, sophomore; Jared Bragdon, junior; Tamrick Pace, freshman.
  • MABANK — Garrett Graham, senior; Taylor Willeford, senior; Parker Johannesen, junior.
  • MALAKOFF — Carrington Manning, senior.
  • LAPOYNOR — Mason Motal, junior; Ashton Abendroth, senior; Wade Lang, junior; Justin Street, senior; Seth Anderson, sophomore.
  • DID NOT REPORT: Cross Roads, Kemp


Player of the Year
Kourtney Holyfield 5-6 senior guard, Mabank

Kourtney Holyfield took on a deeper role according to head coach Ashleigh Weeaks this year and made a rebuilding year team into a playoff level team. Holyfield averaged 21.7 points, 3.3 assists, 4.4 steals and 4.7 rebounds in district play. Overall for the season, she finished with 18.9 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

Demi Cumby, 5-8 senior guard, Athens
KEY STAT: 23.5 ppg., 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.8 steals this season.

Bailey Swain, 5-10 sophomore guard, Mabank
KEY STAT: 3.0 rpg., 0.6 steals, 25 charges this season.

Plandreika Jackson, 5-6 senior guard, Malakoff
KEY STAT: 7.4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assists. She had the highest free throw percentage on the team.

Madison Montgomery, 5-8 freshman post, Brownsboro
KEY STAT: 6 ppg., 6 rebounds per game. She was also named second team all-district.

Sierra Perez, 5-3 sophomore guard, Malakoff
KEY STAT: 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, two steals and one assists per game.

Ashleigh Weeaks, Mabank
For the second straight year, Weakks coached the Lady Panthers to the District 15-3A championship and the area round of the playoffs. She had a balanced scoring attack this season and has a lot of talent coming back next season.

First Team

  • Cari Aguilera 5-9 JR Athens Inside
  • Kacie Richards 5-10 SR Eustace In/Out
  • Sidney Hightower 5-10 JR Brownsboro Inside
  • Taye Jackson 5-11 SR Malakoff Inside
  • Kelsie Bristow 5-4 SO LaPoynor Outside
  • Meagan Holyfield 5-8 SO Mabank Outside

Second Team

  • Jensen Anderson SR LaPoynor Outside
  • Josee McNeece 5-3 JR Athens Outside
  • Kaitlyn Holyfield 5-7 SR Mabank Inside
  • Candace Denis 5-8 FR Malakoff Outside
  • Kiana Reed 5-10 FR Malakoff Inside
  • Bryla Barker 6-0 SO Athens Inside

Honorable Mention

  • ATHENS — Shelby Sims, junior; Hadley Cain, sophomore; Allison Kalawe, junior; Seirra Walker, sophomore; Krystal Davis, junior.
  • MALAKOFF — Hayley Thomas, sophomore; DyEsha Brookins, senior.
  • DID NOT REPORT: Cross Roads, Kemp
  • NO NOMINATIONS: Trinidad

Around Malakoff: A deep breath before the whirlwind

Loretta Humble
Loretta Humble

Hey I’m sorry, I just can’t seem to crank a column out this week. My brain is in overload thinking about all this stuff that is coming up.

Tomorrow I’ve got to go to a Family Peace Project Board Meeting where we are getting ready for our Annual Waffle Breakfast on May 4.(Want to buy a ticket?) Then I’ll leave there and go to my third acupuncture session. I’ve had two, and they have helped my knee. I’m looking forward to see how much better they’ll get me.

Then tomorrow night, I get to go to the Master Gardener’s Annual Banquet and Plant Sale and play hostess to Jo Ann Surls’ table since she had to do something else. Then Friday, there is the Henderson County Performing Arts Center Annual Fundraiser Gala. My grandson Beau will be performing, and Cedar Lake has a couple of tables. I’m thinking of putting on some makeup for that one.

Then the weekend starts. This is Cornbread Festival weekend. I hope by the time you are reading this you are getting ready to be there for all the fun. We start early: 7 Saturday morning, with the Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast at the Community Center. Just $5 and surely I’ll get there before they close at 9 a.m. Maybe I’ll wave at the 5K runners or walkers or whatever they do, but that’s it for me and the 5K I’ll try to get a quick look at the 14th Annual Texas State Knife & Tomahawk Championship going on over at the park behind the Community Center, but I’ll mostly save that till Sunday, since it will still be going on then.

I’ll be spending most of my time hanging out at Cedar Lake Home Health and Hospice where the Cornbread Cook Off will take place. I hope a bunch of you have entered, and the rest of you will come by and get a sample of the winning cornbread and a cup of good old pinto beans.

After the cook-off excitement, I’ll be checking out all the vendors, and maybe get another feather in my hair from the face painting and hair-feathering lady. I might even get my face painted. The library is going to be having a book sale, so I’ve got to make that for sure. The Favorite Things folks are going to be there with their famous chicken salad and pineapple walnut cakes among other goodies. I’ll have to have some of those goodies, along with good stuff from many other food vendors who will be there. I don’t want to miss any of the games and contests of which there will be plenty: Corn eating, corn chunking, hat contests, dog contests, I don’t know what all. I understand there are going to be some big sales at the antiques stores, and at least one huge garage sale. I don’t think I can get over to the Volunteer Fire Department’s Barbecue for lunch, but maybe I can get some to take home before they close.

I hope I’ll get a little rest for a couple of days after Cornbread is over. Then we have to get in high gear to get ready for the big Sculpture Garden Tour, which in addition to the Surls and Stewart Gardens, this year will feature open house at the Bartlett House property. That is just two weeks away. You really, really don’t want to miss this. (Advance tickets will save you money, and I just happen to have some for sale.)

I hope you’ll come take all this in with me. We can rest in May.