Obituary: Ruenell Eloise Hegwood

Ruenell Eloise Hegwood
Ruenell Eloise Hegwood

A memorial service for Ruenell Eloise Hegwood, 86, of Athens, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Central Baptist Church with Bro. Mike Gibbs officiating.

She passed away Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 in Athens.

Ruenell was born June 20, 1926 in Arlington, Texas to John Jay and Ann Eason Jay. She was employed as an inspector for Justin Boot Company and loved travelling, gardening, and enjoying time with friends. Ruenell was a member of Central Baptist Church in Athens.

She was preceded in death by her parents.

Ruenell is survived by husband Gordon Hegwood of Cross Roads; children Joe Ford and wife Alicia of N. Richland Hills, Ginny Stockton of Cross Roads, Gene Ford of Athens, Rocky Ford of Athens; two step-children, Charles Johnson and wife Sue of Flint, Fred Hegwood and wife Sandra of Mercedes, Calif.; seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Gooden, Pitts partner to support Cedar Creek Lake bridge project

Pictured (from left) are  Jo Ann Hanstrom/President CCLACC, Marty Mullins/TexasAbility, LLC and Board Chair CCLACC, State Representative Jim Pitts (Dist. 10), State Representative Lance Gooden (Dist. 4), Pamela Burke, Scott Six/Star Lite Custom Homes and It’s Your Home, Scott Confer/Ex. Director Mabank Economic Development Corp. and Board of Directors CCLACC; back row (from left) Kevin Pollock/Mayor City of Seven Points, Paul Eaton/Mayor City of Gun Barrel City, Dennis Baade/City Council Gun Barrel City. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Pictured (from left) are Jo Ann Hanstrom/President CCLACC, Marty Mullins/TexasAbility, LLC and Board Chair CCLACC, State Representative Jim Pitts (Dist. 10), State Representative Lance Gooden (Dist. 4), Pamela Burke, Scott Six/Star Lite Custom Homes and It’s Your Home, Scott Confer/Ex. Director Mabank Economic Development Corp. and Board of Directors CCLACC; back row (from left) Kevin Pollock/Mayor City of Seven Points, Paul Eaton/Mayor City of Gun Barrel City, Dennis Baade/City Council Gun Barrel City. (COURTESY PHOTO)

CCL Area Chamber of Commerce press release

As a result of months of talks with both of the Cedar Creek Lake State Representatives, the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in setting up a meeting on Feb. 27 with TxDOT representatives, State Reps Jim Pitts (Dist. 10) and Lance Gooden (Dist, 4) and a delegation of local leaders. The subject of the ongoing talks and the meeting in Pitts’ Capitol office was the expansion/improvement of Texas State Highway 334 between Gun Barrel City and Seven Points. The end result of the meeting was promising and positive, with TxDOT making a commitment to spend approximately $2 million to conduct the Environmental Impact Statement in 2014.

The delegation of local leaders that traveled to Austin for Wednesday’s meeting included Jo Ann Hanstrom, President Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; Scott Confer, Executive Director Mabank EDC and board member CCLACC; Marty Mullins, board chair CCLACC; Scott Six, Star Lite Custom Homes and member of the Gun Barrel City CCLACC Chapter Committee. Also in the delegation were Kevin Pollock, Mayor Seven Points; Paul Eaton, Mayor Gun Barrel City; and Dennis Baade, City Council Gun Barrel City member. Six is a long-time, active member and former board vice-chair of the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

Letters of support and reports from various entities in the cities and Henderson County were secured by Hanstrom and presented to TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson and Deputy Executive Director John Barton, along with an oral presentation by the delegation’s spokesperson, Six. Six pointed out the growth that the Cedar Creek Lake community has enjoyed since the existing bridges were constructed in the early 60s and noted the mutual impact of travel between the two communities. He emphasized the known danger, loss of business and other problems when the two-lane bridges are closed for accidents or repair.

It was made clear by the TxDOT representatives that the rebuild would be a $40 to $50 million project, there’s much work to be done between all of the entities involved and that a new bridge is years in the future, but the mood of the delegation was extremely positive and Six said, “We’re very encouraged by the news that the EIS funds have been committed and we believe we’re in a position now to look forward to being put on the TxDOT schedule for our requested bridge expansion project. This is good news and what we were hoping for.”

Hanstrom said, “I want to thank the members of our local delegation for devoting the time to travel to Austin for the meeting and I’m especially appreciative of Representatives Pitts and Gooden and the TxDOT representatives for recognizing our need and responding in such a swift and positive way.”

She went on to say that everyone who was asked for support, including the Chiefs of Police of Gun Barrel City and Seven Points, played a role in the positive outcome of the meeting.

Gooden files legislation to help water customers

State Rep. Lance Gooden

By Michael V. Hannigan

Earlier this month, I wrote a story about State Sen. Robert Nichols filing legislation to help the customers of investor-owned water utilities.

State Rep. Lance Gooden, who has been an outspoken defender of water customers in the past, has also filed legislation for the same reason.

Since I wrote about this subject recently, it seems easiest to let Gooden explain it himself. The following comes from his weekly column:

In our continuing battle against monopolistic, out-of-state investor owned water utilities (IOUs) in our area, I have filed two pieces of pro-consumer legislation: HB 1456 and HB 1457. (Click the link to see the bill). IOUs are different from city water utilities and water supply corporations because IOUs don’t have to answer to the voters that live in the areas they serve.

Under current law, a municipality can initiate and contest a rate increase proposed by an IOU on behalf of its citizens; however, ratepayers in an unincorporated area are forced to raise their own funds to fight
against a well-funded legal team for the right to affordable drinking water. This is wrong.

HB 1456 would level the playing field and allow a county to initiate and intervene in a contested rate case proceeding on behalf of its citizens living in an unincorporated area. I really appreciate Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders for joining me, along with the entire Henderson County Commissioners’ Court, in supporting this legislation. Monarch Water has been the most problematic in our area, though I have heard a rising number of complaints from Aqua Water’s customers.

Our second bill addresses the legal expenses incurred by an IOU if its ratepayers contest a proposed rate increase. Current law allows an IOU to pass legal expenses incurred onto its ratepayers if the IOU wins a rate case. This law only serves to discourage the consumer from contesting a rate increase due to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s history of ruling in favor of these utilities. With HB 1457, I’m seeking to reduce the amount an IOU can pass along to its ratepayers.

For too long these monopolistic companies like Monarch Utilities have been fleecing citizens across Texas with exorbitant rates while consistently applying for rate increases. Texas law has allowed this and, obviously, the IOUs would like to keep things the way they are. Our bills face tough opposition from expensive lobby teams hired with the dollars that my constituents are paying each month for overpriced water.

Sen. Nichols: My Five Cents

State Sen. Robert Nichols
State Sen. Robert Nichols

Did you have a chance to watch the Grammy awards last week? Well this week the Texas Senate was proud to pass a resolution in honor of all our Texas musicians who received awards at this year’s ceremony. SR 296 was presented personally to Josh Abbott, Jack Ingram, and other well-known individuals who contribute so much to the national music scene. Additionally, at this point in the legislative session, most lawmakers are still getting along, and that is music to my ears as well.

Some of the things happening at your Texas Capitol include:

SB 810 – Working to prevent fraud

On Tuesday, I filed SB 810 to help crack down on Medicaid fraud. We have worked with the Attorney General’s office to develop this and other strategies to improve Medicaid fraud enforcement. When criminals steal from the Medicaid system they are stealing from every Texas taxpayer.

SB 810 would add a provision to the Texas Penal Code that prevents a defendant from attempting to repay the Texas Medicaid program as a defense to criminal prosecution. Some district attorneys’ offices decline to prosecute a defendant who has defrauded the Medicaid program if that defendant repays the program. This amendment would keep defendants from making that argument.

Celebrating Texas Independence Day and the Return of the Travis Letter

On March 2nd the state will mark the 177th Anniversary of Texas Independence and will celebrate by bringing Colonel William Barrett Travis’ famous “Victory or Death” letter back to the Alamo. Written at the Alamo by Travis on February 24, 1836 as Mexican General Santa Anna’s troops began their siege, this letter is considered a Texas treasure and one of the most stirring battleground letters in our nation’s history. It is normally housed at the Texas State Archives and Library Building in Austin, but is currently being exhibited at the Alamo in honor of Texas Independence Day.

The document “came home” to the Alamo on Saturday, February 23rd and will be on display through March 7th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in a custom-made, climate controlled and bullet-proof case. As always, entry to the Alamo is free, and there is no charge to see the historic Travis letter. This occasion presents a good opportunity to reflect on the courage and bravery exhibited by Texas’ founders. They left a legacy of freedom, self-reliance and liberty that still inspires our state today.

FFA leaders at the Capitol

This week it was great to see so many FFA members for their day at the Capitol this year. These young men and women represent Texas so well and remind us all of how important agriculture is to our state. It is always an honor to meet with this and other organizations who are training tomorrow’s Texas leaders.

SB 665 – It’s OK to say “Merry Christmas”

I recently filed Senate Bill 665 to protect Texas public schools’ ability to use traditional holiday greetings such as ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’ on school grounds and to educate students about the history and roots of such holidays.

I have heard from many constituents who dislike that it is becoming less culturally acceptable to openly celebrate these holidays in the ways past generations have. To me this is a matter of helping our teachers and administrators feel safe talking about these holidays at school without fear of legal action being taken against them.

We are currently standing at a cultural crossroads in our society, and this is one step forward for those defending our traditional values and beliefs. To follow the bill’s progress, please go to

SB 7 – Medicaid Restructuring

This week the Health and Human Services Committee, which I serve on, voted out of committee an important bill to improve outcomes in our Medicaid system. The bill focuses largely on improving long term care services, which is one of the biggest costs to the program. The goal is to redesign the system to prepare for the growing need for long term care, given that Texas has the nation’s largest number of seniors and a growing number of Texans with disabilities.
Those who receive these services are some of the most vulnerable people we serve. We need to make sure they get the best care available — and that we are delivering that care in the most sustainable and efficient way possible.

Athens High School recognized for blood drive efforts

Athens blood driveAthens High School has been recognized by Carter BloodCare as a “Best Performing High School for 2012” for its blood drive efforts. Students donated 384 units of blood, saving 1,152 lives. AHS teacher Rebecca Wilder, who is responsible for the blood drive efforts, said: “This is a great accomplishment and I am so proud of our students. It is great to be a Hornet!” (Photos courtesy Stacy Dunacusky/AISD)

See more photos on our Facebook page.