Daily Brief: Jan. 14

Ornament and money found at the door to the Henderson County Courthouse this morning. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)
Ornament and money found at the door to the Henderson County Courthouse this morning. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)

Folks arriving for work at the Henderson County Courthouse this morning made an interesting discovery. Sitting by the door were two $1 bills and a beautiful “Noel” Christmas ornament.

Nobody knows who left the gift or why, but considering the controversy the past two Christmases, it seems at least possible that it is connected to the nativity scene.

Our hearts are heavy today and our prayers are with the staff and students at Malakoff High School. One of the students at the school was killed in a car accident near Crandall last night.

Jamiya (Givens) Williams and her infant daughter, Alahna, were both killed in the accident.

Officials at Malakoff High School reported that grief counselors were on hand today for those students who needed them.

It was cold this morning and it looks like it is going to stay that way through the first part of the week.

Average retail gasoline prices in Texas have fallen 0.5 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.16/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 13,114 gas outlets in Texas. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.26/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Texas during the past week, prices yesterday were 4.4 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 12.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has decreased 1.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 8.7 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

The City of Eustace will be holding a called meeting tonight to discuss the firing of Police Chief Troy Tucker. The meeting will be 7 p.m. in the Eustace Municipal Court. 

The City of Athens will also be holding a meeting tonight, 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The agenda looks to be fairly routine.

Bartlett HouseLoretta Humble’s “Around the Town” Facebook page has a cool photo spread about recent improvements to the historic Bartlett House.

In the photo, Cheryl Kietscheraski points out some of the work she’s done with the help of her brother, Dennis Haws, and bricklayer Billy Gray.

Heads in Austin for Legislative Session

Head 2 Former Athens State Rep. Fred Head and his wife, Henderson County Democratic Party Chairman Marsha Head, were in Austin for the start of the 83rd Legislative Session this week.

TOP PHOTO: Fred Head and his wife, Marsha, right, enjoyed a visit with current Texas House of Representatives Speaker Joe Straus and his wife, Julie, at the Texas Legislative Wife’s Club Dinner Dance held at the Omni Hotel Ballroom in Austin Monday, Jan. 7. (COURTESY PHOTO)

BOTTOM PHOTO: Shown below with Representative Gooden (center) are Marsha Head (left, her husband Fred (right) and their granddaughters Katie and Clara Love (center left and right), who work in Austin after finishing their University Educations there. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Head 1


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.

Daily Brief: Wednesday, Jan. 9

Rain_Rain_Go_Away_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546Rain, rain go away
Come again some other day

Actually, the rain is a good thing for Henderson County. We’ve seen way too much of drought in recent years. Still, when the rain comes down like it did last night — and the way it is forecast for today — that children’s song always comes to mind.

I checked, and that little phrase goes back at least to the 17th century… and a version of it has been around all the way back to Ancient Greece.

So remember to take your umbrella today, and when you unconsciously hum “rain, rain” under your breath you will know you are singing the hits from the 1600s.

The Legislature convened yesterday amid declarations of being different than Washington, D.C.

Here at HCTNow, we had a story about State Rep. Jim Pitts filing legislation to extend the no-cellphone-while-driving-in-a-school-zone rule to the entire school property for elementary and middle schools.

The Athens City Council will be holding its “regular” special meeting today at 11:30 a.m. The council nearly always holds a special meeting the Wednesday afternoon before their Monday night regular meeting.

I used to be bothered by the pre-meeting meeting, but I have since changed my mind. Now I think it is pretty smart. On Wednesday, council members get to learn about what they will vote on Monday night, giving them several days to think about the issue. The setup also gives citizens several extra days to learn what the council is doing.

And with one meeting in the afternoon and one at night, a broader spectrum of citizens have the opportunity to see their council in action.

I call it a win-win.

The county has lowered the speed limit on Mill Run Road from 60 mph all the way down to 35 mph. We applaud the change — we’re all for safety.

Rich Flowers over at the Review has a good story about the change.


Keep dry out there … and if you are one of the fans following the TVCC basketball teams to Brenham for their games against Blinn tonight: Be Careful!

UPDATE: TVCC has announced it will stream tonight’s games live online.