Texas Parks and Wildlife recognizes TFFC

Many young anglers catch their first fish at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, making it the best place to play catch in Texas. (Larry D. Hodge, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center)
Many young anglers catch their first fish at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, making it the best place to play catch in Texas. (Larry D. Hodge, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center)

City of Athens press release

For years, the City of Athens, has attracted fishing enthusiasts to its many freshwater fishing sites. Now Athens is being recognized by Texas Parks and Wildlife for its Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. The magazine calls the center the best place in Texas to “play catch.”

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center maintains a 1.2 acre stocked fishing pond where children are taught how to bait a hook and cast a line. As Texas Parks and Wildlife says, “Many young anglers catch their first fish at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.” Bait and tackle are furnished for visitors and no fishing license is required.

Children and adults who are visiting the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center can also walk a wetland trail, watch a daily dive show, take a tram tour, and explore 300,000 gallons of aquariums teeming with native Texas fish.

Located 75 miles southeast of Dallas, the city of Athens provides an array of activities for any family vacation. Athens has scuba and zipline opportunities, as well as one-hundred wooded acres belonging to the East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society. “Athens is the perfect destination for families looking to explore the outdoors and experience nature at its best,” said Sherri Skeeters, tourism coordinator for the City of Athens Department of Tourism.

Bordering the Texas Lakes Trail and Texas Forest Trail regions, the natural beauty of the Athens countryside is a great escape for those looking to get away this time of year. The City of Athens Department of Tourism is also offering a wide variety of local coupons and discounts for those who visit this month. Coupons range from local restaurants to popular hotels, making this spring the perfect time to come and enjoy the East Texas countryside at an affordable rate.

Athens Annual Spring Cleanup


Keep Athens Beautiful press release

Keep Athens Beautiful (KAB), the City of Athens, and Republic Services and Commodity Recycling Solutions are teaming up once again to sponsor the Annual Spring Cleanup. Each spring, KAB organizes a city-wide cleanup and beautification spree for the community. This year’s event takes place Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m. to noon. This event is also part of the “Don’t Mess With Texas Trash Off” a campaign of TxDOT.

Volunteers are needed to form “Clean Teams” to comb the streets collects unsightly litter. Anyone can form a clean team by gathering family, neighbors, friends or businesses. Volunteers will receive a free lunch, compliments of Republic Services. KAB will provide the trash bags. For more information and to register your team call KAB at 675-7961.

Republic Services Recycling truck will be at the collection site for you to bring out all your recycling that you have collected since the fall. We will also be collecting electronic items for recycling. Other items that we will be collecting are household batteries, cell phones, and E and E Services will be collecting cardboard.

Residents of Athens are encouraged to clean up their yards in preparation for spring. Republic Services and the City of Athens offers free trash and yard waste disposal at the Aaron Street Collection Site. No hazardous materials, oil products, paint products, tires, appliances or construction debris will be accepted. Verification of Athens residency is required.

For more information about the Annual Keep Athens Beautiful Spring Clean up please call 903-675-7961.

Better Breathers support group launches

By Toni Garrard Clay/Special to HCN

Robert Allen is bursting with enthusiasm over the launching of the Better Breathers Club to assist and inform people with chronic lung disease or asthma.

“We’re in need of a program like this in Henderson County to help people,” said Allen, who will act as the support group facilitator. “When people with common challenges and interests get together, it helps.”

The primary goal of the Better Breathers Club, which will hold meetings at ETMC Athens, is to teach members to manage their breathing conditions and improve their quality of life. Group membership also combats common feelings of isolation among those coping with breathing issues.

“We know there are people in the community who want and need a support group like this,” said ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace. “It’s an identifiable need, and we’re happy to be able to provide a place for the group to meet.”

Over 35 million people in the United States have a chronic lung disease such as COPD, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis or lung cancer. Because these chronic conditions do not have a cure, people need to learn how best to manage them. There is no fee to join the Better Breathers Club. Members will take part in discussions, hear featured speakers, learn about resources and develop skills to help better manage day-to-day life.

Group facilitator Allen is a retired respiratory therapist with 24 years of experience. He underwent training with the American Lung Association to become the facilitator and volunteers as an ETMC Athens Auxiliary member.

Two meetings are scheduled at ETMC Athens for the Better Breathers Club. The first will be held Wednesday, April 10 at 1 p.m. The second meeting is slated for Wednesday, April 24 at 2 p.m. Both gatherings will take place in the Bush Board Room.

For more information, contact the hospital at 903-676-1102 or Allen at 903-887-8240. ETMC Athens is located at 2000 S. Palestine Street (Hwy. 19S) just off Loop 7.

Henderson County marks Child Abuse Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness month

Clothesline ProjectBy mvhannigan

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Sexual Assault Awareness month in Texas and, as is the custom in Henderson County, time for the people who fight against the violent scourge to come together.

They did that on the courthouse lawn Tuesday afternoon — law enforcement, advocates, volunteers, victims and their families — for a proclamation reading.

A visual reminder of the problem was provided by the blue and teal ribbons worn by everyone, and by the Clothesline Project, hanging t-shirts that represent victims of domestic violence.

“Every year that T-Shirt Project grows larger and larger,” said East Texas Crisis Center Director of Outreach Donna Johnson, “and I like to think it is not necessarily because we have more victims, but because more survivors are coming forward and telling their stories.”

Getting the victims to come forward is no easy task. Johnson said it was recently reported that just 18 percent of sexual assaults are reported.

“That leaves 80 percent of offenders that are never detected,” Johnson said. “Those are staggering numbers.”

Even with just one-fifth of assaults reported, Texas still handled more than 19,000 cases in 2011.

The East Texas Crisis Center has already helped 15 victims of sexual assault in just the first three months of 2013.

Elvis Allen of CASA of Trinity Valley said there were 161 confirmed cases of child abuse in Henderson County. Nearly half of those ended up in foster care.

“Unfortunately, we see these kids on almost a daily basis,” he said.

In 2012 CASA of Trinity Valley advocated for 245 children in foster care — and nearly half of those were under the age of 5.

“Our most youngest and vulnerable citizens,” he said.

“Let us all as citizens commit to making our county a safe and nurturing place for our children to grow and prosper,” he said.

See more photos from the event here.


Go Blue T-shirts

The District Attorney’s Office, County Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and Child Advocacy Center are promoting the Go Blue t-shirt campaign for the fifth straight year.

Henderson County teachers in grades 5 and lower receive free blue ribbon t-shirts, because teachers are the frontline of defense against child abuse.

The shirts are also for sale to the public for $10, with extra large sizes $13.

This year’s campaign is: “Have a heart, do your part; Prevent child abuse.”

Proceeds from the sale of the shirts help fund a fourth-grade poster contest for Henderson County schools, which is designed to educate and raise awareness and child abuse prevention.

Tuesday, April 30, will be Go Blue Day in Henderson County.

“We are rallying the community to stand together and help us turn Henderson County blue to show support,” said DeAnna Browning, crime victims coordinator at the District Attorney’s Office. “We are asking for citizens to encourage their family, friends, and co-workers not only to wear blue but to purchase a 2013 Go Blue t-shirt to help us end child abuse and neglect.”

The Go Blue t-shirts can be purchase at Island Tans in Athens or through Betty Herriage and DeAnna Browning with the Henderson County District Attrney’s Office at 903-675-6100 (ext. 6).

CASA Superhero Run

The annual CASA of Trinity Valley Superhero 5K run will be held Saturday, April 20, at the Cain Center.

The event includes a 5K race, child’s 1K race/walk and an adult 1K fun walk. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and races beginning at 8 a.m.

You can also register here.


T-shirts will be given to the first 300 registrants. Also the 4th Annual Kids Day, sponsored by Henderson County District Attorney’s Office and the Henderson County Attorney’s Office, will be provided as wrap around activities for the races. The local Athens Police Department will be fingerprinting and photographing kids for a permanent ID. There will be lots of activities for kids and everyone is encouraged to wear their superhero costumes to the races.