Athens Leadership Institute graduates honored

Graduates for the 2012-2013 ALI class were honored at the Athens Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Wednesday. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Graduates for the 2012-2013 ALI class were honored at the Athens Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Wednesday. (COURTESY PHOTO)


(UPDATE: See photos from this month’s chamber award winners here.)

By Michael V. Hannigan

The Athens Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to its recent Athens Leadership Institute (ALI) graduates at the chamber’s monthly luncheon Wednesday.

Athens Leadership Institute, also known as ALI, meets once a month for 10 months. During the program, leaders will have the opportunity to learn about what the community has to offer as well as attend a one-day leadership retreat and speak with legislators during “Athens Day In Austin.”

The graduates for the 2012-2013 ALI class include: Steven Barksdale, Colin Barrett, Jeri Canatella, Michael Canatella, Lynn Clark, LaQuita Cox, Adam Davis, Meadora Hawkins, Dr. Charles Hueber, Russell Kidd, Dr. Jay Kinzer, Jeaneane Lilly, Kathy Means, Mary Nicholson, Greg Smith, Will Traxson, and Kim Walker.

This class will always be linked to its group project, the Kiwanis Park Splash Pad.

Steve Barksdale of BancorpSouth Insurance actually graduated from the program in 1986 as well.

“The reason I took it again is because I see men and women who want to stand out in our community, and we need to equip them with everything we possibly can,” he said. “We have things happening here because of people just like these who graduated today. They want to see things happen and they desire to have a quality of life that is second to none.”

“The greatest joy I had in taking a repeat was getting to know these young men and women who are going to make a difference in this community,” he said.

Will Traxson of Hannigan Smith Funeral Home said, “I encourage all of you who have not been a part of this to take part in it. It is an awesome opportunity for somebody to see a lot of the things that on a day-to-day basis you wouldn’t normally go and be a part of.”

Jeaneane Lilly of McDonald’s is another one who has gone through a leadership institute, but her past experience was in Allen, Texas.

“This experience with this class was so eye-opening and so positive. Every single month, I looked forward to spending the day with the class doing things in the community,” she said. “Sometimes you hear the negative all the time, and if you hear that don’t believe it. Go out for yourself and learn.”

Rock Band University for kids at Guitars Etc.

Guitar lessons

Guitars Etc. press release

Rock Band University, a part of the music education program at Guitars Etc., is dedicated to teaching young people how to perform in a band and live on stage. We provide the necessary tools and instruction to match musicians into bands, provide their musical parts, broaden their musical horizons, get them to play together on time, and to overall strengthen their skills in their instrument of choice.

“Our spring break camp was a huge success and our students got a chance to shine on stage and perform. The audience absolutely loved it too. Great musicianship and showmanship for such young musicians,” said Will Burgin, owner of Guitars Etc.

They accept performers from ages 10-18 who meet certain playing ability. The performers create their own band name, learn about stage presence, further their musical learning, and of course how to rock and roll. Continue reading “Rock Band University for kids at Guitars Etc.”

ACPA raises money with paintball


ACPA press release

Athens Christian Preparatory Academy recently completed its annual paintball fundraiser.

ACPA faculty member Brian West, who organized the event, said, “We are very grateful to the businesses who helped us sponsor the event this year. Scuba Steve’s of Tyler donated all the compressed air tanks and inspections this year, and Wes Chaney of Athens helped with gear. Beverly Duke, Marsi and Morgan Jones, Kim Hardin, and Melissa Bush donated paint for the players.”

Teams played four rounds each. Players were either sponsored by individuals, or collected pledges that paid every time their player sent another player to the elimination tent. Parents organized concessions of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs.

The event earned approximately $4,500 for the school. Proceeds will be used to help the school move to its new property this summer.

It is National Tourism Week in Athens

Tourism Week 2013_Proclamation

Mayor Jerry Don Vaught signs the proclamation declaring Tourism Week May 4-12. The travel industry is one of Texas’ largest industries with visitor spending generating $63.2 billion and directly supporting 545,000 jobs with earnings of $17.6 billion. Henderson County generated $110.1 million in visitor spending and supported 480 jobs with earnings of $17.6 million. National Tourism Week is annually recognized the first full week in May, a tradition first celebrated in 1984. Pictured from left to right are Tracie Lyda, America’s Best Value Inn; Sherri Skeeters, Tourism Coordinator; Mayor Jerry Don Vaught; Pam Burton, City Administrator. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Athens Farmers Market Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon

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

Farmers Market press release

We are growing, growing, growing, not only in produce, but in size!

Visit historic downtown Athens for a fun day of community support. This weekend we will be featuring the Humane Society and the Texas Swing Festival. You may purchase tickets for their fundraiser on May 11 complete with the live music of Ruby Jane, great food and lots of fun!

The North 19 Volunteer Fire Department returns with their near famous homemade breakfast taco in which sales each weekend help keep gas in their trucks. Summer is on its way and they need our support!

Drink sales will benefit the Girl & Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls.

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 etched glassware, 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 eyed, 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@