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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All aboard the Polar Express!
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The first showing of the movie will be this weekend at the Henderson County Clint W. Murchison Memorial Library.
A royal event
Miss Texas 2013, Ivana Hall, will join a royal celebration at the Cain Center in Athens on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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Nativity goes up
The Nativity Scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn is shown during it’s construction midday Wednesday. Keep Athens Beautiful Executive Director Carol Morton, coordinator for the project, was present at the scene, as were employees of Dillon Manufacturing in Athens. They were Isidrio Catano, Edgar Rodriguez, Francisco Carranzo and Curtis Vaughn. The scene was finished Wednesday and will be well-lit through the Christmas holidays.
Athens readies for holiday events
It is going to feel a lot more like December this weekend, as temperatures are predicted to drop into the 30s just in time for several area community Christmas events.
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During a special-called council meeting Wednesday, the Athens City Council voted unanimously to authorize a 5-percent matching fund for an Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) sponsored by Homeland Security. City Manager Pam Burton, said the 5-percent matching would amount to about $4,800 the city would provide.
Chandler holiday event moved
The city of Chandler's Holiday in the Park scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 has been moved from Winchester Park to First Assembly of God church.
Organizer Shelia Haskins said the possibility of inclement weather forced the change as the city wanted to keep its citizens safe.
Breakfast with Santa coming to Seven Points
Best Friends of The Library at Cedar Creek Lake will host the 13th annual Breakfast With Santa, Saturday, Dec. 14, at the library, 410 E. Cedar Creek Parkway in Seven Points.
Christmas in GBC this weekend
Christmas will be coming to Gun Barrel City this weekend.
The City's Annual Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7. The theme this year is “Remember Me.”
Gun Barrel City Street Superintendent Mike Horton said, “The ‘Remember Me’ theme is because the date is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.”
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