Making a Splash: Organizers break ground at Kiwanis Park

Organizers get ready to break ground Wednesday, March 27, at Kiwanis Park for a splash pad. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)
Organizers get ready to break ground Wednesday, March 27, at Kiwanis Park for a splash pad. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)

By mvhannigan

There wasn’t any water in sight when more than two dozen officials from Athens’ government and civic organizations gathered in Kiwanis Park Wednesday morning.

But it was still a big day for the Splash Pad project.

Members of the Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club joined city officials, including the mayor and city administrator, to ceremonially break ground on the project this week just six months after it was first announced.

A splash pad, for those uninitiated, is a water feature that includes no standing water. The pads usually have nozzles that spray water into the air, buckets that drop water, rainbow tubes that spray water, mushroom showers, tree showers, etc.

There were 12 gold shovels which, according to Chamber Board Chairman and pastor at Athens Life Fellowship Church Mark Allen, represents perfect government in the Bible.

“It is like a perfect melding of us all coming together as a city. We are representing it by 12 shovels saying this is is perfect government, and that we do it together and that we work together and we can accomplish more together,” he said.

“I really believe the best days for Athens are ahead, I really do believe that. And as we continue to work together we will see even greater days,” he added.

The Splash Pad is a combined project by the Athens Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club, the Athens Leadership Institute (ALI, which is a chamber program), and the city.

Splash pads have become very popular in recent years at least in part because of the low cost of maintenance. 

While organizers were able to turn dirt to get started, there is still fundraising to do. The project is about $50,000 short of its projected cost.

Enough has been raised to start the splash pad, but the rest of the project money is for items like fencing, parking, sidewalks and complying with the all-important Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules so that children in wheelchairs can enjoy the water.

One of the best aspects of the project, according to chamber board member Kim Hodges, is how it has become a true community effort. Donations have ranged from a child giving the money she received from the Tooth Fairy to a $25,000 corporate check.

This week, Girl Scout Troop 1999 brought in $67 … all raised in pennies.

If you would like to make a donation to the project, please call Kim Hodges at First State Bank, 903-676-1923.

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Athens Farmers Market open this Saturday

Photo courtesy Athens Farmers Market Facebook Page.
Photo courtesy Athens Farmers Market Facebook Page.

Press release from Athens Farmer’s Market

We are growing, growing, growing! Not only in produce, but in size! Visit the Historic Downtown Athens for a fun day of community support.

This Saturday, March 30, we will be featuring the North 19 Volunteer Fire Department. Homemade breakfast taco sales each weekend help keep gas in their trucks. Summer is on its way and they need our support!

We have everything from baked goods (breads, cookies, sweetbreads and pies), tamales, jams and jellies including: strawberry pineapple, peach, blackberry, blueberry, wild plum, pickled vegetables, salsas, relishes and soups.

Don’t forget about free-range eggs, fresh grown herbs, local raw honey, granolas and sugar scrubs.

We also feature local artisans’ handcrafted items such as wood cutting boards, screen printed t-shirts, Texas crafts and handcrafted natural gemstone jewelry.

Local produce includes, but is not limited to, naturally grown carrots, greens, kohlrabi, mixed lettuces, purple and green okra, cabbages, onions, frozen shelled peas (black eye, red ripper, and zipper cream).

If you would like to know more about the market or becoming a vendor please visit us at Also be our fan on Facebook@

The Athens Farmer’s Market, located in the Market Square one block northeast of historic downtown Athens and is open from 8 a.m. until noon. If the market parking lot is full, additional parking is available around the courthouse square and street side.

Please note that the Farmer’s Market is a smoke free environment for the health of our customers and vendors.

North Texas Conference AME Gala

Mrs. Ford, left, President Elder James Ford and other members of the North Texas Conference Lay Organization enjoying music Saturday night, March 23, at the 2013 Clergy and Lay Gala at the Malakoff Community/Senior Center. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Mrs. Ford, left, President Elder James Ford and other members of the North Texas Conference Lay Organization enjoying music Saturday night, March 23, at the 2013 Clergy and Lay Gala at the Malakoff Community/Senior Center. (COURTESY PHOTO)

By Delanda S. Johnson/Special to HCN

On Saturday, March 23, the North Texas Conference Lay Organization of the AME Church held its 2013 Clergy and Lay Gala at the Malakoff Community/Senior Center.

The gala was an afternoon of relaxing, dining, music, and dancing. Everyone was dressed in their semi-formal attire and things were clicking.

Hosting the event for the evening was husband and wife team Marlin Roy and Jackie Ross-Roy. Greetings from the City of Malakoff and special acknowledgements was given by Delanda S. Johnson.

The president of the North Texas Conference Lay Organization Bro. Frank Robinson extended a warm thank you to everyone and introduced the Executive Board Officers of the NTCLO. The NTCLO is a combination of Greater Dallas District, under the leadership of Presiding Elder James W. Ford and Tyler District under the leadership of Presiding Elder Darrell G. Caldwell, Sr.

President Robinson presented a special certificate to entertainer Corlis Calvin, who performed later that evening. “It is a long time coming, but it’s finally here and we are here to have a good time; to dine on great food, and dance,” said Robinson.

Calvin is a native from Ft. Worth, Texas and is a graduate from Control Data Institute Technical School in Dallas. She also attended Eastfield College in Mesquite and is currently the Customer Communication Manager for Northland Communications in Mexia. She is a member of Zion Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Austin and when not at her day job, she can be found singing at various venues around Austin and around Texas; plus; performing in other states.

Presiding Elder Darrell Caldwell, Sr., who has served the Tyler District for three years and that he has enjoyed ever minute of it. Caldwell stated the Clergy and Lay Gala was a day for everyone to come together in fellowship; to have fun and indulge in good food. It is a day that celebrate the goodness of God, but also show that you still can have a good time and still love the Lord.

Caldwell said, “The future of the Tyler District is to focus on the mission of Christ, but there is also much work to be done. The Tyler District is working on different programs to expand the needs of the people; to lead them to Christ. We focus on evangelism, church growth, winning souls to Christ, etc., however, we’re looking forward to more training sessions at our district meeting along with having fun like we are here today.”

Presiding Elder James W. Ford has also served the Dallas District for three years. Ford explained that the Clergy and Lay Gala was a way for pastors and lay persons to come together and get to know each other. “This event was in a non-church atmosphere; to just have a good time; to enjoy the smooth golden voice of Ms. Corlis Calvin with gospel, R&B, jazz, and much more. With this type of setting, I see Pastors and Lay persons coming together in unity,” said Ford.

“The Dallas District future plans are more, however, the time frame will be cutting it close because within two years I’m planning to retire. We are looking at developing young churches in the rural areas with the larger churches adopting them; help the smaller church meet their obligation for the year. As far as today’s event, I am enjoying myself. I am as happy as a hyena; happy with a peacock tail spread out,” said Ford.

Obituary: Norma Ruth Hathcock Ashton

Services for Norma Ruth Hathcock Ashton, 83, of Eustace are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday March 29, 2013 at Assembly of God in Eustace with Rev. Tim Howard and Rev. Sam Jock officiating, under the direction of Eubank Funeral Home, Canton.

Burial will be in Moorehead Melton Cemetery, Eustace.

She passed away March 26, 2013 in Athens.

Mrs. Ashton was born Feb. 4, 1930 in Rhome to Joe and Pearl Cornelius Hathcock.

She was a founding member of First Assembly of God in Eustace. Norma served as a teacher and secretary treasurer in the church. She was a seamstress at Malouf’s in Wills Point and at numerous other factories. Norma enjoyed her soaps, traveling, dancing, and befriending people of all ages. She was a very loving, kind and compassionate mother and enjoyed her grandchildren.

Surviving are daughter, Linda and Jimmy Squires of Dallas; son, James Dennis Ashton of Eustace; daughter, Jan Dockery of Eustace; grandson, Jason Shirey of Dallas; granddaughter, Alicia Renee Ashton of Nacogdoches; granddaughter, Jaydie LeAnn Ashton and Bryan Buchanan of Commerce; great-granddaughter, Skyla Raynn Buchanan of Commerce.

Norma was preceded in death by her parents, Husband, J.D. Ashton, Sisters, Essie Mae, Oleta Ray Hale, & Edna Sue Roberts York, Brother, J.R. Hathcock.

Pallbearers are Bryan Buchanan, Joe Ashton, Michael Ashton, Gary Roberts, Wesley Preston, and Mike McManus.

Family will receive friends Thursday 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home.

Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday

It is time for the Annual Athens Kiwanis Club Easter Egg Hunt, which will include 12,000 eggs this year.

The event, which is open for the whole community, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, March 30, at Kiwanis Park.

The Kiwanis Club will be giving away 14 bicycles and 20 plush rabbits during the event.

Children will be separated into three divisions: 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12.

The Easter Bunny will be on hand and is scheduled to arrive on a fire truck.

Everyone is welcome.