News

Thu
02
Jul

Fourth of July celebrations mark America’s birthday

By Payton Weidman

Staff Writer

 

Looking for things to do this Fourth of July?  Well look no further, here’s a list of the celebrations going on in or nearby Van Zandt County.

 

ATHENS – Saturday, July 4 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center after 4 p.m. free admission for the annual firework show will begin.

Visitors are encouraged to fish in the stocked pond until 8:30 p.m.  No license is required to fish, and bait and tackle are furnished for free.

The fireworks will begin at 9 p.m.  Food and beverages will be available for purchase, and people are encouraged to bring picnics.

Pets, alcohol and private fireworks, including “snap caps” and sparklers are not allowed.  TFFC is a tobacco-free facility and smoking or the use of tobacco products are not allowed on the premises.

Mon
29
Jun

Annual rodeo, parade drawing near

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

Preparations for the annual Wills Point Riding Club Rodeo Parade and WPRC Rodeo continued to find another gear this week with dates for this year’s editions, scheduled for July 17-18, drawing closer with each passing day. 

Events, and event information, includes:

Queen Competition

Ticketing for the UPRA Rodeo at Bill “Ike” Allred Arena got underway last week with challengers for this year’s Queen title hitting the bricks to sell advance tickets.

Rodeo queen contestants are broken down into three age groups: Tiny Miss, age 6 years and younger; Princess, ages 7 to 13 years; and Queen, ages 14 and up.

Rules for Tiny Miss, Princess and Queen include:

-Each contestant will be given $250 in tickets at the time of registration.

Sun
28
Jun

Commissioners appoint ESD #4 board

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

The Van Zandt County Commissioners Court met in regular session on Tuesday morning, greenlighting the appointment of board members for the soon to be established Emergency Services District #4 and spending extended discussion on a request made by M. Lee Thornton to donate labor and funds to repair a stretch of County Roads 3105 and 3109 located in Precinct 3.

Business opened with two housekeeping items, the approval of minutes from the previous meeting and the payment of bills, before Ronnie Jones addressed the commissioners court during the agenda item designated for public comment.

Sat
27
Jun

Free State Jubilee offers free family fun, educational activities

The Free State Jubilee Saturday, June 27, will offer something for the whole family. 

There will be carnival type of games, three bounce houses, an indoor shooting gallery and an archery shooting area plus face painting and tattoos – all free to the kids, according to Van Zandt County Extension Agent Melisa Rhodes.

“In addition to all these fun activities there will be educational opportunities to learn about gardening, recycling projects  and demonstrations on knitting and crocheting,” Rhodes said. “And for all you anglers, we will also be having a casting/pitching contest with the assistance of the Grand Saline High School Fishing team.”

The Van Zandt Extension Education Association will be conducting a cakewalk and there will be other contests and competitions.

Fri
26
Jun

Community celebrates end of slavery with Juneteenth event

Photo by David Kapitan

Cyclists, including some with homemade signs and balloons fixed to their respective bikes, rode through the streets of Wills Point during the parade.

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

Mother Nature has wreaked havoc with plenty of events throughout much of 2015 with rain, cold and everything in between but she gave attendees of this year’s local Juneteenth festivities a reprieve by providing relatively mild temperatures and holding off on showers until later in the day.

For more than two decades, the city of Wills Point has been the site of the largest Juneteenth celebration in Van Zandt County. It maintained the tradition this year June 20. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. 

Mon
22
Jun

Sales tax figures trending upward

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

The office of Texas State Comptroller provided good news to most Van Zandt County cities this month, releasing figures that indicate five out of six local cities would be receiving larger sales tax revenue figures than what was collected in June 2014.

Hegar’s report shows that Canton, Edgewood, Edom, Grand Saline and Wills Point all saw their respective arrows trend upwards, while the city of Van ended on the opposite end of the spectrum by trailing behind last year’s monthly figure.

The city of Canton posted the largest positive dollar change for any county city in June 2015, collecting $277.988.53. That figure was up $18,085.44 over the $259,903.09 collected back in June 2014.

Sun
21
Jun

Juneteenth event to draw crowd

From staff reports

For the 18th consecutive year, the city of Wills Point will be the site of the largest Juneteenth celebration in Van Zandt County.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with the news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. 

This announcement came two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The celebration of June 19 became “Juneteenth,” and the observance has grown beyond the borders of Texas and traveled to other countries. It became an official state holiday in Texas after having been signed into law on June 13, 1979.

Sat
20
Jun

Trustees tackle grievance hearings, preliminary student test scores

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

The Wills Point ISD doubled up on meetings this week, holding a special meeting to hear grievances from the second and third-ranked members of the Class of 2015 before clocking in another 2.5 hours for their regular monthly meeting on June 15.

The special meeting, which began one hour prior to the start of the regular monthly meeting, became the latest chapter in what has become an ongoing debate about the district’s policy regarding the minimum residency requirements necessary in order to qualify for the title of class valedictorian.

Stephen Magee, who finished second overall in the final class rankings, and Austin Roberts, the third ranking graduate for this year’s class, were at one time considered the valedictorian and salutatorian for the Class of 2015.

Fri
19
Jun

Southard tenders resignation from WPISD Board

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

 

The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees will take on a different look moving into the summer months.

Bryan Southard, a member of the Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees since 2010, issued a letter to board members and the community at large after Monday night’s regularly scheduled monthly board meeting to announce his resignation to be effective June 16.

Southard, a 1998 Wills Point graduate, served on the board as both a trustee and vice president during his two terms on the board.

Thu
18
Jun

Grants to help farmers, ranchers available

Farmers and ranchers in the area who suffered damage from recent storms may be eligible for help from the State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund.

The STAR Fund was created solely with monetary donations from private individuals and companies, including Farm Credit, Valero and McCoy’s Building Supply. STAR Fund money may be used to assist farmers and ranchers in rebuilding fences, restoring operations and paying for other agricultural disaster relief.

Other projects that may be eligible for funding include replacing feed, hay, barns and debris removal. 

Applications must be received by close of business 60 business days after the governor’s declaration of disaster for the county in which assistance is sought.  In Van Zandt and Hunt counties, that date is Aug. 21. 

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