Military News: Thompson graduates basic

Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class William F. Thompson
Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class William F. Thompson

Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class William F. Thompson graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Thompson earned distinction as an honor graduate.

He is the son of Rebecca Thompson of Brownsboro.

The airman is a 2012 graduate of Brownsboro High School.

Henderson County sick with influenza-like-illness

DSP 231: Sick 2008-01-03
(Flickr photo by Vern Hart)

ATHENS — An outbreak of influenza-like-illness (ILI) that has spread across the country has hit Henderson County hard.

East Texas Medical Center Athens Infection Preventionist Mary Pruitt said the Athens hospital is full with every bed taken, and has been that way for several days. She said the hospital emergency room has seen its record for number of patients seen in a day broken twice in the past week.

The ER, which usually averages well less than 100 patients, saw 146 one day.

The most current flu surveillance report from the Texas State Department of State Health Services lists activity as “widespread” and the intensity as “high.”

Nationally, the numbers are up as well.

“Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in Centers for Disease Control’s Influenza Division. 

“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Bresee.

Pruitt said things are bad enough that “if you don’t have to go out, stay home.”

She also asked that people suffering with a common cold not come to the hospital or visit the emergency room in order to allow the hospital to treat those who are seriously ill.

Pruitt said one of the key indicators is fever. Flu and more serious instances of ILI often bring a temperature of 102 degrees or higher.

“People with a common cold will run a temperature more like 99.6 or 100,” she said, “and not have the higher temperature.”

Health professionals encourage everyone to practice common sense habits to protect yourself: 

  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be active, drink plenty of fluids, eat right.

“The flu is a bad thing and you don’t want it,” said Pruitt.

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.”