Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

January 4, 2013

Back to work

Education, water issues on minds of legislators

Athens — Henderson County’s representatives in the Texas Legislature are focused on issues such as water, education and transportation as the 83rd Texas Legislature gets set to convene on Tuesday.

State Senator Robert Nichols and State Representative Lance Gooden anticipate tough decisions for both chambers over the next five months.

Nichols said former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn tagged water education and transportation as the “big three” more than half-a-century ago. The 83rd meeting of state lawmakers will be dominated by debate concerning planning and funding in those areas.

“We’ve got a lot to do in education,” Nichols said. “We cut their funding quite a bit and there are a lot of things the local districts would like to see changed.”

Nichols represents more than 100 school districts in District 3. Before each legislative session, he visits every school superintendent to find out what they think needs to be fixed. The Standardized Testing and Reporting System used by the state is high on the list.

“One of the main things all of the school superintendents told me is about the testing and how disruptive it is,” Nichols said. “They only have 170 days of education for the school year, and of that somewhere between 42 and 46 days are disrupted due to the new testing. We have to have accountability in education, but we do not have to spend that much time testing.”

Gooden is not shy about giving his assessment of the test.

“We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the STAR tests which have been a total failure and lined the pockets of special interests,” Gooden said.  “I’m really disgusted with the program we have in place.”

Water concerns grow as the state population increases, especially in urban areas.

“Since we had our last session, we had a major drought,” Nichols said. “I think people realize how important water planning is, especially in those urban areas. In East Texas, we have the water and everyone else wants it. ”

Gooden and Nichols are both backing legislation to help protect consumers in rural areas from being hit with unreasonable water rate increases.

“They’ve been price- gouging for the last several years and have no intention to stop, so it’s going to be up to the legislature to provide some relief,” Gooden said. “With the support of County Judge Richard Sanders and the Commissioners Court, we’re working on legislation that will allow the commissioners court to represent rate payers across Henderson County and fight those water companies on their behalf.”

Transportation is of special interest to Nichols, who was recently named by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst as chairman of the Transportation Comm-ittee.

“How to fund it is going to be the main issue,” Nichols said.  “I’ll be filing a bill on that that will take the existing sales tax that you pay on your automobile and constitutionally dedicate it to the infrastructure — the roads and bridges.

The constitutional change would require an amendment to be placed before the voters. Nichols said the change would be phased in over about a 10-year period so it doesn’t bust the budget when implemented.

Gooden is pleased to have a spot on the House Appropriations Committee. He’s looking forward to serving with committee chairman Jim Pitts, whose 10th district now includes the western edge of Henderson County.

“This  will be another lean session and there will be talk about potentially restoring some of the cuts,” Gooden said. “I would like more funding to be restored to public education, but would also like to continue on the trail of cutting waste in our government. We cut overall state spending for the first time in 50 years in the last session, but I think there’s still fat in the budget.

Gooden said he intends to be available to the people of Henderson County during the upcoming session.

“I want the people to feel free to contact me at any time throughout the session at my Austin office and my Athens office,” Gooden said.  “I’d like everyone to feel welcome and active in the legislative session.”

Anyone who would like an electronic copy of Gooden’s newsletter can send an e-mail to He also keeps constituents up to date via his Facebook page.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-16 beauty.jpeg Bursting with beauty

    A shining star already in her parents eyes,  Geraldine Nieto displayed her ray of beauty Sunday in Tyler to claim top status in the Sunburst Talent/Beauty Contest.
    The 5-year-old Athens resident is the daughter of Jaime and Karla Nieto.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dozens attend council meeting for recovery, transfer station

    Nathan Bullard, owner of Yellow Box Environmental LLC,  was at Gun Barrel City Hall to explain future development plans for property located at 546 Gun Barrel Lane.
    Bullard said he wanted to introduce himself and his company to the neighbors who own property close to his project.  
    Bullard was on hand to inform the public and address any concerns about the company’s plan to build a recovery and transfer station.

    April 16, 2014

  • Commissioners sign proclamation for San Jacinto Day

    The battle of the Alamo may be the best remembered conflict in Texas’ fight for independence, but the battle at San Jacinto closed the deal.
    Representatives of the Sons of the Republic of Texas were on hand at the Henderson County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday in observance of a proclamation, declaring April 21, San Jacinto Day.

    April 16, 2014

  • Ram to donate $20 per test drive to FFA Organization

    On April 26 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the Ram Truck brand and Elder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will host The Next Crop Project fundraising event at the dealership to benefit the National FFA Organization and local FFA chapter leadership programs in Henderson County.

    April 16, 2014

  • Athens tables large purchase

    The Athens City Council  Monday tabled awarding a bid for a large piece of equipment that removes asphalt from the surface of paved roads to make way for repairs.
    City Director of Utilities Glen Herriage recommended that the council award the bid to RDO Equipment Co. of Irving for a Road Hog cold planer. The RDO bid was for $123,267.06, which is below the budgeted amount of $134,000.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15 Joe Curl photo.jpg Former TVCC basketball coach Joe Curl passes

    Joe Curl, the former head coach of the Lady Cardinal basketball program, passed away at the age of 59 on Monday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Review earns six awards

    The Athens Daily Review was honored with six awards for journalism excellence during the North and East Texas Press Association yearly convention held Thursday-Saturday in Tyler.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mrs. Gibbs obit photo.jpg Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs, 94, died Friday

    Long time Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs passed away on Friday, April 11. She was born in Van Zandt County on Jan. 18, 1920. She was 94-years-old.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-14 Steer at auction 3.jpg Here comes the champs!

    Friday was a big night for the Eustace FFA at the Henderson County Livestock Show and for Jordyn Costlow, who presented the Grand Champion.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Saturday was payday at HCLS

    Payday came Saturday for  the youth who placed in the 54th annual Henderson County Livestock Show.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo