What We Learned: Crime stories and skating rinks

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

The holidays are officially over now with the kids returning to school. Welcome back to the real world!

This is Week 2 of 2019 and Christmas is just 351 days away, so while we wait here are 5 Things We learned last week.

1. Readers really like stories about crime.

I went back and reviewed the top posts on our Henderson County Now website for 2018 and found out the top posts were dominated by crime stories and obituaries. Of the year’s Top 50 posts, 24 had to do with crime and 19 were obituaries.

The top ranking story that wasn’t in one of those categories was the post about Athens ISD considering a four-day instructional week. That post came in 24th.

With those statistics in mind, I reached out to Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse and suggested doing a weekly podcast to talk about what’s happening in law enforcement. I told him we’d do it just like I do podcasts with football coaches, only for the Sheriff’s Office and he agreed!

So Wednesday morning we will record our first “Sheriff’s Beat” podcast. I am looking forward to it and hope you guys listen.

(UPDATE: The first episode of the Sheriff’s Beat has been posted here.)

2. There’s going to be ice skating in Gun Barrel City.

Give the folks in Gun Barrel City credit, they keep on coming up with interesting things to do. They have lawnmower races, for instance, and their July Fest is becoming a can’t miss event.

And now, they are going to have an ice skating rink at their Winter Wonderland the weekend of Jan. 18-20. Cost is $5 and you can find the hours here. 

Be aware that there will be a 2-hour limit for skating to accommodate everyone who wants to be on the ice.

Should be a cool event. (Yeah, I went there! :D)

3. Illegal drugs come out on top in poll.

The big boss, Jeff Weinstein, posted a poll on Henderson County Now’s Facebook page asking what people thought was more important in the county, illegal immigration or illegal drugs.

Drugs won big time, 663 – 123 as of Tuesday morning.

Many of the folks commenting on that post pointed out there is a link between illegal drugs in the county and Mexico, something Sheriff Botie Hillhouse said in an interview with the Athens Daily Review last week.

“(Meth is) a problem everywhere — all over the nation. It’s the most prominent drug here in Henderson County, and it’s coming from Mexico. Years ago, people were cooking it here,” he said.

In that interview, Hillhouse said 85 percent of those incarcerated in the county jail have a drug problem.

It seems clear that our county’s leaders have to do something to try and change the drug abuse story and I’m not talking about law enforcement. I believe our officers do what they can with the resources and mandate they’ve been given.

I also believe any answer will require strategies to stop people from using before they get to the arrested stage.

The question is: Who in our county should be stepping up to take the lead on this issue?

4. Tevan McAdams was a beast at TVCC.

Trinity Valley Community College defensive lineman Tevan McAdams was named an NJCAA All-American over the holiday break.

Believe me, it was a well-deserved honor. Every time I covered the Cardinals this year, McAdams was making life miserable for the opposing quarterback.

McAdams is headed to New Mexico State University.

5. Lawmakers are back to work in Austin.

The 86th Texas Legislature opened up on Tuesday, Jan. 8. The final day is set for May 27.

Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R – Angelton, was elected the new House speaker.

We’ll be keeping our eye on freshman Rep. Keith Bell as well as Sen. Robert Nichols.

Nichols pre-filed a couple of bills, one dealing with escort flag vehicles for oversize or overweight vehicles and another regarding the appraisal of land used as an ecological laboratory.

Bell did not pre-file any bills.

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What We Learned is a weekly column by Michael V. Hannigan.

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