Top 5 stories of the week

State Rep. Lance Gooden takes the oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 8. (COURTESY PHOTO)
State Rep. Lance Gooden takes the oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 8. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Story No. 1 – State Legislature convenes: The 83rd Texas Legislature Regular Session began Tuesday.
Why it is important: Because the legal and financial decisions that impact every Texans’ life happen in the Legislature.
Learn more: There were many, many stories this week about the Lege. HCTNow had stories about lawmakers convening, and about State Rep. Jim Pitts filing distracted driving legislation and a bill to end the STAAR 15-percent Rule. The Review had a story about lawmakers heading back to Austin.

Story No. 2 – Rocked by the flu: Flu activity level continues to be widespread and intense in Texas and throughout the country.
Why it is important: HCTNow is currently working on a story about the flu impact locally, but it is clear that many in the county are sick.
Learn more: The Texas Department of State Health Services has the state info., the Centers for Disease Control reports flu activity increasing across the country.

Story No. 3 – Atheist drops lawsuit: San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene withdrew his lawsuit against Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders this week.
Why it is important: The lawsuit was based on the nativity scene displayed each year on the courthouse lawn, and that is still a hot-button issue for most people.
Learn more: HCTNow broke that story Wednesday.

Story No. 4 – Kendall Sanders takes a break: Former Athens Hornet and current Texas Longhorn Kendall Sanders came home following the UT bowl win over Oregon State.
Why it is important: Because you will be hearing Kendall’s name called plenty this year while watching the Longhorns.
Learn more: Check out our story here. 

Story No. 5 – Sylvan classes coming to Athens: Sylvan Learning Center will start offering remedial reading and math classes at the Cain Center starting in February.
Why it is important: Reading and math … can do much without those two.
Learn more: The Athens Review has the story. 

Daily Brief: Friday, Jan. 11

Michael Hannigan (yours truly) cuts the cake at a reception thrown by members of the Malakoff community. The event was organized to mark Hannigan leaving The Malakoff News. (LORETTA HUMBLE PHOTO)
Michael Hannigan (yours truly) cuts the cake at a reception thrown by members of the Malakoff community. The event was organized to mark Hannigan leaving The Malakoff News. (LORETTA HUMBLE PHOTO)


Looks like a fairly quiet weekend ahead. Enjoy it, because next weekend is going to be busy!

Monday, Jan. 21, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Scheduled events include:

– MLK Parade: Saturday, Jan. 19 
– Gospel Explosion: Saturday, Jan. 19
– Candlelight Vigil: Monday, Jan. 21

Another big event on the horizon is the Athens Chamber of Commerce Banquet. The event will see big awards, like the Citizen of the Year.

The event is set for 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18. Tickets are still available, but hurry. 

We won’t see as much rain this weekend as we have during the week, but the forecast is still calling for some drizzles. Prepare accordingly.

The Athens Daily Review has a story about the Athens EDC considering a funding request for the splash pad planned for Kiwanis Park.h

Finally, I owe a personal thank you to the folks in Malakoff who threw me a wonderful party last night to mark my departure from The Malakoff News. It was beyond anything I could have envisioned and a lot of nice people said some really nice things about me.

I have been very blessed to work in a community full of people who care, and the secret is that I should be the one thanking you for allowing me into your lives and being able to make a living doing what I love.

So, thank you.

Pitts looking to end 15-percent Rule

Jim Pitts
Jim Pitts

State Rep. Jim Pitts has filed legislation that would end the so-called 15-percent Rule, which would require that 15 percent of a student’s final grade come from their State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) end-of-course exams.

The STAAR replaced the TAKS two years ago. According to the Texas Education Agency: “The STAAR program at grades 3–8 will assess the same subjects and grades that are currently assessed on TAKS. At high school, however, grade-specific assessments will be replaced with 12 end-of-course assessments: Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, biology, chemistry, physics, English I, English II, English III, world geography, world history, and U.S. history.”

Continuing uncertainty about the STAAR test, however, has caused the 15-percent rule to be deferred the past two years.

Now Pitts would like to just end the rule permanently. In December, State Rep. Lance Gooden announced that he was going to file legislation that would do the same thing.

Area superintendents have reservations about the STAAR.

In December, Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles said, “The plan for implementation of the end-of-course tests has been very disorganized. Schools did not know what the passing standards would be and there was very little directions from the state as to how we should apply the 15 percent rule to the courses (by semester, by year, retakes, GPA, etc.). The rules and procedures for the end-of-course tests and the 15 percent rule should be crystal clear before we hold our students accountable for their performance on the exams.”

Daily Brief: Thursday, Jan. 10

Gold watchIn the photo above, Athens Mayor Jerry Don Vaught (right) reads the inscription on a gold watch the city presented to former mayor and current Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Randy Daniel during a council meeting yesterday. Daniel was also presented a plaque for his service. Daniel served as mayor from 2005 through 2012.

Vaught said the presentations were “With much appreciation from the city and the City Council.”

During the meeting, the council also looked at items that will be on Monday night’s agenda, including appointing Steve Grant to the Airport Advisory Board, a possible air show at the airport, and improvements needed at the facility. No action was taken, but the appointment is expected to be approved Monday.

Rich Flowers over at the Review has more details.

The UT Tyler Mobile Go Center (MGC) will be at Malakoff High School from 6-8 p.m. tonight.

According to the website:

The University of Texas at Tyler Mobile Go Center is an internet-equipped mobile computer lab providing college-going resources to individuals and their families. The mobile center is designed to increase the number of students enrolled and succeeding in higher education programs in Texas.

Parents of seniors, take note.

Speaking of Malakoff, the District Attorney’s Office issued a press release yesterday announcing a convicted drug dealer from that area was sentenced to 18 years. 

In case you missed it, San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene has changed his mind … again … about suing over the Henderson County nativity scene. 

Anyone want to make book on if he decides to file again?

Didn’t think so.

TVCC Sports Notes: Men, Women sweep Blinn


TVCC Lady Cardinals
TVCC Lady Cardinals

By Benny Rogers, TVCC Sports Information


In a game played under the national spotlight, the third-ranked Lady Cardinals scored an impressive 89-72 road win against the 12th-ranked Blinn College Lady Buccaneers Wednesday night.

The win upped Coach Elena Lovato’s squad to 15-1 overall and 2-0 in Region XIV Conference. The loss was the first of the season for the Lady Bucs, who dropped to 16-1 and 2-1.

Five players scored in double figures for the Lady Cardinals, led by Shannon Smith with 20. Adut Bulgak and Shlonte’ Allen added 19, Savannah Carter finished with 11 and Krystle Henderson 10.

Blinn’s top scorer was Aarika Reyna with 17 points.

The Lady Cardinals are scheduled to be back on the road Saturday, going to Paris for a 4 p.m. tipoff. Paris is 6-9 on the year and 1-2 in the conference.

The next home game for the Lady Cardinals is Wednesday, Jan. 16 against Kilgore.


Jhaustin Thomas and Karon Phillips poured in 20 points each to lead the Cardinals to an 82-73 win against Blinn College’s Buccaneers Wednesday night.

Thomas was the steadiest of scorers for Coach Kris Baumann’s squad, scoring 10 in each half. Phillips gave the Cardinals a spark to pull away in the second half, pouring in all his points in the final 20 minutes.

The score was tied 30-30 at the half.

Octavius Ellis and Jarion Henry also scord in twin figures for the Cardinals with 13 and 12, respectively.

Blinn was led by Rashaun Stimage with 18 points. Donald Moore had 17 and T.J. Berry 14.

The Cardinals will be at home again Saturday against Coastal Bend Community College (10-3, 4-2).

Game time is 4 p.m.