Road tax, other ballot items to be discussed Oct. 12

The Van Zandt County Farm Bureau is hosting an informational meeting about November ballot issues at 7 p.m. Oct. 12.

Items to be discussed include the county road tax and several state propositions, Van Zandt County Farm Bureau President Brian Cummins said.

The purpose of the meeting is not to endorse or condemn any issue, but to provide information so that voters can make informed decisions, Cummins said.

County voters are being asked to approve an additional tax of 10 cents per $100 of property valuation that can only be used for county road and bridge maintenance.

County Commissioner Virgil Melton Jr. will be on hand to explain how commissioners will use the funds if approved by the voters. Van Zandt County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Scott Hyde will talk about the tax implications of the road tax and how the proposal will affect the average homeowner. 


Blackwell enlists EHS for NASH Next Competition

Photo by David Kapitan

Stephen Blackwell performed his own song, “Small Town Livin’ Life”, as well as Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” for the faculty and students of Edgewood High School Oct. 5. Blackwell’s wife Robin was also on hand, taking pictures of the crowd and her husband.

Stephen Blackwell, currently a semifinalist in NASH Next, an artist development competition with a stated goal of “discovering and releasing music from prominent and talented newcomers," returned to his roots earlier this week by enlisting the faculty and staff of Edgewood High School to help with a video shoot for a performance of an original song entitled “Small Town Livin’ Life.”

Blackwell, who graduated from EHS and currently resides in Wills Point, entered the NASH Next competition back in June. 


Grass fires lead to burn ban

Photo courtesy of Van Zandt County Fire Marshal

A large pasture fire north of Wills Point destroyed approximately 110 acres Oct. 2. Quick work by Wills Point, Edgewood, Point, South Tawakoni and West Tawakoni, as well as Champion EMS, the Red Cross, the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office and the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal helped to alleviate some of the possible damage, saving 10 homes that were threatened by the blaze.

Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick exercised his rights under Chapter 418 of the Texas Government Code, issuing a disaster declaration Oct. 6 with the purpose of “mitigating the hazard posed by wildfires by curtailing the practice of outdoor burning.”

The move comes on the heels of a series of grass fires over the past week that have threatened homes and laid waste to roughly 200 acres in and around the area.

On Sept. 28, multiple departments from Wills Point, Whitton and Elmo were dispatched to battle a grass fire located south of Wills Point between FM-47 and CR 3918. Reports from that incident indicate that the fire was triggered when workers in the area clearing a portion of the land and brush got into old fencing or metal with a piece of equipment, sending off sparks.

Three houses were threatened in that fire, but local departments were able to contain the blaze with no injuries or damages to homes being reported.


Members “Hit the Bricks” for Chamber Day

The Wills Point Chamber “Hit the Bricks” for the Chamber Day 2015 was Sept.16.

Directors and volunteers spent the day visiting with local merchants, sharing information with them about Chamber programs and fall activities.

There were four teams led by Bobbi Byford – TVEC, Buck Van Trease – Van Zandt Animal Care Center, Sandra Miller – Brookshire’s and Byron Wright – Chapel of the Lake.

Big Tex, represented by John Terrell, was recognized and presented with their membership plaque by Sherry Scott-Moore – Century 21 and Royce Pollard – My Credit Union.

Input from the businesses will be compiled used to help move forward with a business plan that is designed around the needs of local businesses.

Despite the best efforts of the teams, there were businesses who did not receive a visit so there will be a second day set aside to continue the work of "touching each and every local business."


Chamber luncheon


Generations past reconnect at reunion

Photos by David Kapitan

Frankie Flowers Miller of the WPHS Class of 1951 reconnects with an old friend.

Months and months of planning and preparation made by the Wills Point ISD Alumni Association finally came together at the high school cafeteria Sept. 26 with the 5-year reunion for graduates of Wills Point ISD.

More than 200 Wills Point graduates, ranging from graduating classes in the 1940s all the way to the class of 2008, attended the event.

Festivities opened with registration and campus tours beginning around 10 a.m., and more than an hour of free time for people to reconnect before lunch service began.

Current Wills Point staff members, including WPHS Principal Jim Lamb, Tiger Band Director John Young, Ag. Sciences teacher Corky Ragland and head football Coach/Athletic Director Greg Cranfill each spoke to graduates about their respective programs, and how they’ve grown and changed over the years.


A First Monday Hack: Old-timer recounts early Trade Days

Courtesy photo

Hack Berry

First Monday grounds in Canton used to home to a real Hack – a hack by the name of Hack Berry.

The nonagenarian First Monday guru now lives in Wills Point, but was always a figure to be seen at Frist Monday.

“As far back as I can remember, I have been involved in First Monday more than anyone else. I was a seller, promoter and everything in between for 58 years at First Monday, In fact, I remember when the best things to find at First Monday were handles,” Mr. Berry said.

In 1933, when Mr. Berry was 8 years old, the handmade handles for shovels and farm equipment was the item sought out by buyers who came from far and wide to see what Trades Days had to offer.

Mr. Berry ended up in Van Zandt County by way of his grandparents, who came from Arkansas in a covered wagon accompanied by eight children.


Flynn honored with TAB's Champion for Free Enterprise award

The Texas Association of Business gave State Rep. Dan Flynn the TAB's Champion for Free Enterprise Award for his efforts in the 84th Legislative Session.

This is TAB's highest legislative distinction.

"Rep. Flynn has a long commitment to the business community in Texas," said Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business CEO.  "Rep. Flynn backs the issues that keep our business community strong, vibrant and a top job creator."

Flynn received a TAB score of 100 percent for the 2015 session and has an average of 95 percent for his cumulative legislative career.


Grass fire sparks safety reminders for county

Photos by David Kapitan

Wills Point, Whitton and Elmo were among the fire departments to respond to a large grass fire south of Wills Point Sept. 28.

Local fire departments and the office of the Van Zandt County Fire Marshal are once again offering words of caution to those working outside or burning out in the county.

A large grass fire nearly destroyed three homes between FM 47 and CR 3918 Sept. 28.

The incident reportedly occurred while workers were clearing a portion of land and brush when one of the pieces of equipment being used got into some old fencing or metal on the property that sparked a fire that burned several acres.

Several fire departments including Wills Point, Whitton and Elmo sent vehicles to the scene to control the fire and save homes in the area.

No injuries or damage to homes was reported after the incident.


Former coach/athletic director injured in sideline accident

A well-liked and respected football coach and teacher with deep ties to the Wills Point area was seriously injured in a sideline collision late in the fourth quarter of a game between Scurry-Rosser and Malakoff Sept. 25.

According to reports, Coach Mark Bachtel, who enjoyed a successful stint as head football coach and athletic director at Wills Point High School from 1995 to 2008, was on the sidelines serving as an assistant coach when a play swept to the edge of the field and spilled onto the sidelines.

Bachtel, who also teaches eighth grade history at Scurry-Rosser, was knocked off his feet and hit his head, causing multiple skull fractures and other related injuries.


Advocacy Center receives community leadership award alongside state counterparts

Photo courtesy Office of the First Lady

The recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Volunteer Awards.

In an evening ceremony Sept. 21, the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas was recognized for its efforts on behalf of child victims of physical and sexual abuse across Texas.

Recognized by First Lady Cecilia Abbott, Honorary Chair of the 32nd Annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards and the OneStar Foundation, CACTX joins a select group of individuals, groups and organizations honored for a significant and measurable contribution to their communities.

“The power of the public-private partnerships our membership has established at 69 different children’s advocacy centers across the state cannot be overstated. Through these intricate collaborations, our network is able to provide much needed assistance to nearly 40,000 Texas children every year who have been subjected to heartbreaking abuse,” said Joy Hughes Rauls, executive director of CACTX.


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