Students voice concerns over final class rankings

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

The finish line may just be a day away for the Class of 2015, but two graduates from this year’s class are far from finished in their fight to bring more transparency and clarity to the school district’s ranking policy.

Stephen Magee, currently ranked second by the district, and Austin Roberts, currently ranked third, were at one time considered the valedictorian and salutatorian of this year’s senior class.


Webb, Magee to lead Class of 2015

Courtesy photos

Valedictorian Ben Webb and Salutatorian Stephen Magee

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

Valedictorian Ben Webb and Salutatorian Stephen Magee are scheduled to lead the Wills Point High School Class of 2015 through commencement exercises at Sunnyvale First Baptist Church in Mesquite at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 6.

Ben Webb – Valedictorian

Ben Travis Webb is the 19-year-old son of Tess Deen and the grandson of Doctors Travis and Carol Deen.

He will graduate on Saturday with a class best 4.862 grade point average. Webb has been enrolled at Wills Point High School for two years, participating in athletics as a member of the golf team, as well as the UIL academic team, the National Honor Society and the WPHS Student Council.


Remembering the fallen: a Memorial Day salute

Photo by Faith Caughron

Taps was played by Ridge Taylor at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Day service May 25.

By Diana Farmer

Guest Contributor

Remembering the fallen, honoring those who currently serve, and memorializing those who remain lost was on the agenda of the Memorial Day Ceremony in Canton at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial May 25.

Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett emceed the event with Major Brigadier General Howard N. Palmer Jr. serving as the guest speaker.

Many Veterans from the branches of military were on hand to witness the memorial.

Soldiers from World War II, the Korean, Iraq and Afghanistan wars were all present to pay their respects. 


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Commissioners continue down road to recovery

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer

The Van Zandt County Commissioners Court continued to take steps to help repair the damage done by recent weather events that have battered much of the county during a meeting Tuesday, May 26.

The commissioners started down the road to recovery by approving a bid with Traylor Associates, Inc. to prepare the necessary paperwork for a Texas Department of Agriculture Disaster Relief Fund Grant and green lighting a measure that could lead to the reappraisal of storm damaged property.

Business opened with Precinct 2 Commissioner Virgil Melton Jr. advising constituents that county workers and the commissioners’ court as a whole were doing their best to get things repaired and operational as quickly as possible.


Tigers honor academic excellence at Scholarship Banquet

Photo by David Kapitan

Lt. Colonel Jerry Dittman announced that class of 2015 member Aaron Berberich had been granted admission to West Point, receiving a $250,000 scholarship.

by David Kapitan

Staff Writer

The Wills Point Tiger academic community gathered together at the high school campus last week, recognizing excellence in the classroom during the annual WPHS Scholarship and Who’s Who program May 21.

During the ceremonies, organizers recognized that the Class of 2015 had earned more than $1.5 million in grants and scholarships towards their academic future.

Scholarship awards announced included:

-Shelby Rotenberry: $1,000, TVEC; $12,000, UT Tyler Patriot Scholarship; $1,000, Wills Point PTO; $250, City of Wills Point; $500, Hardman-Watson

-Stephen Magee: $1,000, TVEC; $250, Round Em Up Cowboy Church

-Hallie Davis: $92,928, UNT Terry Foundation

-Garrett Lathem: $500, Principal Textbook Scholarship; $500, Bluebird Scholarship; $500, Ministerial Alliance; $500, WP Rotary Club; $43,100, UT Grants



WPHS Principal Lamb placed on administrative leave, gains spotlight

Courtesy photo

Jim Lamb

By David Kapitan

Sports Editor

The Wills Point rumor mill was kicked into high gear last week after word began to spread that WPHS Principal Jim Lamb, a 24-year district employee, had been put on administrative leave on May 22.

Lamb, who has also served locally as a coach, teacher, head coach, athletic director and assistant principal prior to being named principal, was expected to go before the Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees at a special called meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. May 28 at the Wills Point ISD Administration Building.


Memorial Day event honors sacrifice

Courtesy photo

Members of the Wills Point Historical Society, including Herschel LyBrand and Mike Goggans, placed approximately 61 white crosses sponsored by family members and friends of deceased veterans at Ollie Webb Park along Highway 80 this past week. Each of the crosses is adorned with the name of a veteran along with their branch of service and rank.

Canton’s new mayor Lou Ann Everett, Brigadier General Howard N. Palmer, Jr., Commander, Army Componet Command Texas State Guard, a 21-gun salute and an airplane flyover are all part of the Memorial Day program planned for 10 a.m. Monday, May 25, at the Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Plaza in Canton.

Everett will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the event that will also include presentation of the colors by the East Texas Stampede 4H Equestrian team.

“Last year we were all treated to a missing man, three-plane flyover, much to everyone's delight. So, this year, four local area private planes will be in the air again for all to see as they fly over,” said Diane Farmer, Veterans Memorial public relations chairman.

Pastor Dan Torina of Grace Fellowship Church will lead the opening prayer and M/Sgt Bob Borth, USAF Ret. will read “The Veteran.”


Hoop-ti-do! McNeill continues to throw hoops around competition

For those that may not know, Glenn McNeill, Jr., former owner of Van Zandt Newspapers, is concealing a secret identity.

By day, McNeill often masquerades as an ad salesman dressed in a dress shirt and slacks as he travels through Wills Point.

Get McNeill on a basketball court with a ball in his hands, however, and a much different person complete with superpowers appears.

On April 16, McNeill easily took first place overall in both the Men’s Free Throw Competition and Men’s Around the World Competition at the 2015 Texas Senior Games in San Antonio.

McNeill knocked down 24 of 25 free throws this year, beating the next closest finisher by three shots. The win marked his ninth out of the past 10 years, and the 12th time he’s finished first in his age group.

McNeill collected 19 points in the around the world competition, beating the next closest competitor by five points.


Roads group gets OK to use courthouse to gather petition signatures

By Donnita Fisher

Managing Editor


In a test of Van Zandt County’s new premises use policy, May 12 commissioners granted Van Zandt Citizens for Better Roads permission for an event permit to gather petition signatures on the courthouse lawn May 30, June 6, 13, 20 and 27. But the vote wasn’t unanimous.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Virgil Melton Jr. voted against issuing the permit and Pct. 3 Commissioner Bobby Chaney abstained.

“I oppose the event and would oppose all campaign events on the courthouse lawn,” Melton said. “Not someone announcing they were running for office … but any political event.”

The courthouse should have a neutral atmosphere, Melton said.

County Judge Don Kirkpatrick said while he and Melton “are good friends …. We disagree on this topic. It is never my intent to control the message delivered to the public.”


Tornado storms through Van; Spirit of community shines on

 “We are Van” is the motto that sums up the identity of the 2,600 people who live in the community of Van.

The town thrives on its oil history and the stellar performance of its school district.

The spirit of Van can be seen in the red banners and signs posted throughout the community. After all  “once you’re a Van Vandal, you’re always a Van Vandal.”

The essence of that community spirit came shining forth May 11 after an EF-3 tornado ravaged most of the northeastern part of the town during the late evening May 10.

“This is a strong city and community. They will bounce back,” Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick told an assembled group of media in front of the Frist Baptist Church of Van Monday morning May 11.

EF stands for the Enhanced Fujita, the classification scale for tornadoes. Tornadoes are divided into six categories – EF0 through EF6.  


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