It’s only in retrospect that we can see who really had vision.
Steve Barksdale, a former Chairman at Biotech Manufacturing Center, addressed the Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, giving a history lesson about the center and projecting its future impact. In December, the heads of economic development for Louisiana Tech University and Louisiana State University toured the facility.
“The first thing they said resonated in my ears for a long time,” Barksdale said. “I asked point-blank what they thought. They said, ‘Can’t believe the vision a town this small has had in doing this project. This is unbelievable.’”
Barksdale said the Biotech grew out of seeds planted by Athens leaders searching for answers when the city lost a major manufacturer that employed about 1,200 people in the late 1980s.
“The forefathers of this town began to research and ask, ‘How can we come out of this? How can we survive,’” Barksdale said.
City leaders contacted Texas A&M University and the Texas Engineering Extension Department. The city commissioned a feasibility study to get ideas about what the city needed to grow.
“In 1990, they discovered that we had some neat characteristics already within our city,” Barksdale said. “We had Argon Medical and opportunities for some more medical devices.”
When the Athens Industrial Park was created, it provided a catalyst for new businesses.
“We’ve had many things come into the Industrial Park,” Barksdale said. “The place where the Biotech Manufacturing Center is located was really designed to be a fishing-lure bag manufacturing company. That company was the start of Dallas Manufacturing.”
Soon, a medical device serialization plant was located in the park, which opened the door for more medical-device-related businesses.
“A sterilization company in the medical device industry is a very important facet,” Barksdale.
BMC fits into the mix as a locally-owned, non-profit facility that helps incubator companies in the medical field get new products to market. Barksdale describes an incubator company as one with some great ideas that needs some help in getting its product to the market.
With the support of local leaders, BMC opened its doors in 2005. Biotech, which now has 22 employees, can help with manufacturing, building prototypes and aiding clients in acquiring funding for their projects.
“We can try to get you funding by using some of the contacts we’ve gotten through the state and through other entities, and we can get you there quicker than you can do it on your own,” Barksdale said.
It’s only in retrospect that we can see who really had vision.
- Local News
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
After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president.
“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
Why would HCPAC be selling mattresses? Actually, the “mattresses” are tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens Thursday, Aug. 7.
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.
Paul Harris recognition
Rotary of Cedar Creek Lake President Erin Osborn presents Rotarian Bill Burnett with his second Paul Harris recognition. Rotarians are given a Paul Harris recognition when a Rotarian donates $1,000 or more to the fund outright. Benefactors receive a certificate and insignia to wear with a Rotary or Paul Harris Fellow pin.
Sanders suspended indefinitely
Two University of Texas football players were arrested and charged Thursday with felony sexual assault after a female student said she was raped in a campus dorm room last month.
Wide receivers Kendall Sanders, of Athens, and Montrel Meander were arrested and later released on personal recognizance bonds. According to an arrest affidavit, Sanders and Meander texted each other during earlier interviews with police to "get their story straight" and Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography tied to the alleged assault on June 21.
Thunderstorms take their toll on counties
A line of thunderstorms rolled through Henderson County on Wednesday, snapping tree branches and power lines along the way.
The winds that accompanied the storm resulted in thousands of people in North Texas without electricity and roads broken by falling trees or debris.
Council considering Burton's severance package
The Athens City Council, by a 3-to-2 vote, tabled a budget adjustment on Wednesday to fund a severance package for City Administrator Pam Burton who’s stepping down at the end of the year.
Eustace ISD approves tax rates
The Eustace Independent School District Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the Eustace High School Library.
Several reports and agenda items were considered by the board, and all were passed or approved. Board Secretary Ashley McKee was absent.
The board was presented with the superintendent's reports on revenue, expenditures, payroll and taxes.
- More Local News Headlines
- Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen