ATHENS - Henderson County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Henry Ashford died Saturday in Waco, the victim of an apparent heart attack.
Ashford, who was 65-years-old, had gone to Waco to visit family members. An employee in his office said he had been in good spirits, Friday, and was excited about the trip.
Ashford’s office was in the Henderson County Justice Center, where he handled many of the arraignments for the county. He was also often at the scene of fatality wrecks and other deaths that required his services.
Ashford was first elected to the office in March 2002, defeating Cristy Hart. Because Ashford had no Republican opponent in the November election, incumbent Bill Burton resigned allowing Ashford to take office about eight months early.
“It’s my desire to be an asset to the county,” Ashford said. “I’ll make you proud.”
Ashford was re-elected in 2010, with no opposition and repeated the feat in 2010.
Ashford was vocal in the 2011 Henderson County redistricting hearings in which major changes to the Precinct 1 JP map were discussed. Commissioners looked at one suggested map that would have placed the entire city of Athens in Precinct 1.
That map, met with Ashford’s disapproval, because he questioned whether the map could pass the scrutiny of the Department of Justice. Ashford believed the map would dilute minority representation.
“He was a tremendous advocate for fair and equitable treatment of all people,” Henderson County Democratic Party Chairman Marsha Head said. “ He was not bashful about speaking up before the Redistricting Committee.”
Constable Daryl Graham was Ashford’s campaign chairman when he first sought the JP office and worked closely with him during his tenure.
“We’ve been friends ever since he first ran for office,” Graham said. “He will be sorely missed.”
Ashford served in the Army during the Vietnam War and was Pastor at Mt. Providence Baptist Church before becoming Justice of the Peace.
“He was a pioneer and a pillar of the community,” Graham said. “He served honorably and was very professional.”
Ashford cared for the young people of the community, Graham said, and tried to guide them in the right direction while handling numerous truancy cases.
Ashford was planning to announce his retirement soon, Head said, and had recently discussed a possible replacement with County Judge Richard Sanders. Commissioners Court will now have the responsibility of naming a replacement to serve out the unexpired term which runs through December 31, 2013.
“First, we want to send our condolences to his family,” Sanders said. “It’s sad that he didn’t get a chance to enjoy his retirement.”
Sanders said he and County Attorney Clint Davis will be meeting with Ashford’s staff to map out how his duties will be handled until a replacement is selected.
Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Athens. Viewing will be at 12 p.m., Friday at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.
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Funeral held for 15-year-old drowned Eustace student
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The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the drowning. According to reports, a medical emergency call came to 9-1-1 shortly after 5 p.m. from Timber Bay in the Payne Springs area.
PSCA seeks new student enrollment
“Striving to make a difference in each child for eternity,” reads the motto of one local private school seeking new enrollment.
Payne Springs Christian Academy is looking to enroll new students for the 2014-2015 school year.
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Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery to dedicate historical marker
The Texas Historical Commission, Henderson County Historical Commission and descendants of those who are buried in the Lightfoot-Miller Cemetery invite the public to the dedication of a historical marker at the property.
The observance is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 2.
‘Party for the Paws’ event great success
The Henderson County Humane Society in Athens as well as Beckham are continuing to celebrate results of the Party For The Paws fundraiser. Beckham is a dog that was recently adopted from the HCHS.
HCHS Treasurer Ellen Barton commends those who were involved in the event’s planning and execution.
Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen
Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.
Coston named chamber president
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“The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”
Update on restaurant projects given
City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.
HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales
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The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”
Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.
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