Dad hopes accident leads to parking safety

An SUV driven by a 79-year-old woman jumped the curb July 7 and hit 18-year-old Jessica Bunch as she stood in front of the Redbox movie machine in front of CVS in Canton. The Edgewood girl’s father is now calling on retailers to place barricades in front of sidewalk vending machines.

Don Bunch has spent most of his time since noon July 7 at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler at the bedside of his 18-year-old daughter Jessica.

Jessica was seriously injured when a 79-year-old woman driving an SUV and pulling into a handicapped parking spot at the CVS in Canton hit the gas instead of the brake, jumped the curb and slammed into the teen who was standing in front of the Redbox movie rental machine.

The Edgewood girl who was scheduled to report to Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., in September remains in intensive care having undergone surgeries to remove her appendix, gallbladder and part of her bowel, place plates to stabilize her broken pelvis and relieve pressure on her lungs from her crushed rib cage. Her left ankle was also broken and just this week doctors discovered her shoulder was out of socket.


Trustees eye proposed budget of 2015-’16 school year

The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees talked dollars and cents July 16, hosting a nearly hour-long budget workshop led by Superintendent Suzanne Blasingame prior to the start of their regular monthly meeting.

 “We are not proposing an increase in taxes for this school year,” Blasingame said. “Our rate as been $1.04 for maintenance and operations and then $1.104 for the I and S (interest and sinking fund) understanding that we’re in the middle of re-selling those funds. With that consideration, Mrs. Sanderson (Director of Finance Mary Sanderson) and I felt like we need to keep it as is at this time.”

The re-sale of those bonds could produce close to $120,000 in savings for taxpayers.

Proposed tax collections for the 2015-’16 year, which will start late in 2015, are estimated to be $5,726,817.


Resignations bring dramatic close to July meeting

Suzanne Blasingame and Dyde Manning III

Months of rumors swirling around the community regarding potential turnover in the upper reaches of the Wills Point ISD finally came to a head during the July 16 board of trustees meeting, with the announcement that Superintendent Suzanne Blasingame had tendered her resignation.

Moments after the news was announced, longtime trustee Dyde Manning III took the floor to voice his disappointment and frustration with the board’s actions. Manning offered his own resignation before abruptly walking out prior to the adjournment of the meeting.

Speculation about Blasingame’s position as the district’s superintendent had picked up in intensity in recent months despite the fact that trustees renewed her contract in January following an executive session item listed on the agenda as “Superintendent’s evaluation and contract.”


Larry Ottinger 1944-2015

A Celebration of Life Service for Larry Ottinger, 70, of Wills Point, will be held at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, July 19, 2015, at International Outreach Church, located at 1404 Lake Drive, Wills Point. Burial will follow at White Rose Cemetery under the direction of Hiett’s LyBrand Funeral Home in Wills Point.

Larry went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.


Connells county’s first same-sex couple to wed

The Connells and their family

At his Wills Point office July 8, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Herbert Dunn officiated the wedding of Jerry Rosengartner and Paul Connell.

With the ceremony, Rosengartner and Connell became the first couple to be married in Van Zandt County since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling June 26 gave same-sex pair the right to legally wed.

The couple actually got their marriage license in Kaufman County but came back to Van Zandt County for the ceremony. Connell, 48, has been a resident of the Wills Point area for the past 15 years. Rosengartner, 24, has lived here six years. They have been a couple for the past six years.

Rosengartner said he will take the last name Connell.


Same-sex marriage licenses issued in Van Zandt County

Despite some set-up delays with software, The Van Zandt County Clerk’s office began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples July 1.

As of July 14, the office had issued two licenses.

Local justices of the peace have taken varying stances on performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Pct. 3 JP Herbert Dunn said he has no problem performing the ceremonies and officiated at the counties first same-sex union July 8.

Pct. 2 Judge Ronnie Daniell has stopped doing weddings altogether in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

A sign on Daniell’s office door makes his position clear to those seeking wedded bliss. “Based on my Christian convictions,” the sign reads, “I, Judge Ronnie Daniell, will no longer perform weddings as justice of the peace Van Zandt County precinct #2. I must stand for my Lord, His holy word and my firm belief that is it truth.”


Most county cities continue upward momentum

Things continued to trend in a mostly positive direction for Van Zandt County cities this month, with the office of Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar releasing figures that indicate that four out of six local cities would be in line for larger sales tax revenues for July 2015 than those that were collected for the same period back in July 2014.

Hegar’s report shows that Canton, Edgewood, Grand Saline and Wills Point all continued their recent upward trend while Edom and Van either took or continued a downward trend by falling behind last year’s July collection totals.

The city of Grand Saline, which has been on a hot streak in 2015, posted the largest positive dollar change for any county city in July 2015 by collecting $45.465.82. That figure was up $13,736.09, or 43.29 percent, over the $31,729.73 collected back in July 2014.


WPRC Rodeo weekend begins tonight

The Wills Point Riding Club has selected one of its founding members, Leon Lester, as grand marshal for this year’s WPRC Rodeo Parade. This year’s parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on July 18.

The Wills Point Riding Club will have its busiest weekend of the year beginning today (July 17), playing host to large crowds of community members and visitors during its annual two-day rodeo event.

The WPRC UPRA Rodeo is scheduled to take place nightly on July 17-18 at the Bill “Ike” Allred Arena. Each night of the rodeo action is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m., and feature the Flying “C” Rodeo Company and professional barrelman and entertainer Cameron Keeton.

Following a lengthening tradition, the two-day rodeo event will bookend the annual WPRC Rodeo Parade, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. on July 18 in downtown Wills Point. This year’s parade will feature a “Blazin’ Saddles” theme.

The WPRC announced this week that Leon Lester, one of the founding members of the riding club, will be grand marshal of this year’s parade.


Council moves closer to wrapping Juanita Street projects

On Tuesday night, the Wills Point City Council moved one step closer to putting roadwork on Juanita Street into its rearview mirror.

The council approved a bid to repair drainage issues that have been a bump for both city leaders and area residents

Stretching back to 2013.

The project was initially put in motion back in February 2013 when city staff members were directed to develop cost estimates for road projects throughout the city. In March of that same year, plans were made to proceed with a reconstruction project of both Juanita and Gordon Streets.

Phase one of the project, which began in April 2013 and included curb and gutter replacements, and phase two, which started in August 2013, were both completed as planned.


Children’s shelter seeks assistance

By Pam Millican



The Children’s Shelter, an emergency placement shelter for children in Van Zandt County, is undergoing some major changes.

The shelter is owned and maintained by a board of trustees who contracts with Azleway to provide “house parents” who oversee the children and day-to-day running of the shelter.

 “Most people don’t realize there is a children’s shelter in Van Zandt County and we have been in the same location for 37 years,” said Kerry Cartier, shelter board president.

The location of the facility is undisclosed for the safety of the children.

When Child Protective Services has to remove a child from his or her home for the child’s safety due to parental neglect or when the there is no one to care for the child due to the parent’s incarceration, CPS contacts Azleway.


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