Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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June 21, 2014

The events of 2014 have set a brisk pace

Athens — This will be my last column before the year 2014 reaches its midway point, and I’ve got to say it’s been a challenge to keep up with everything going on in the county.

It always is, of course. Henderson County has almost 80,000 people, two major lakes,  and if I counted right, 18 incorporated cities and town. Athens, is a small city, but three major highways cut through it. It’s the seat of county government and the site of three district courts.

The Henderson County Fair Park Complex and Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center usually have something special going. Likewise Trinity Valley Community College. Every where you turn, something is happening.

But 2014 has been unusual because of the number of news stories that have arisen that aren’t part of the regular events calendar.

When the year began, the dispute between the City of Athens and the Athens Municipal Water Authority was already underway. The disagreement led to an unusually hard-fought city election, and ultimately the seating of three new council members.

Sad news came on Jan. 2, with the death of H.B. “Slick” Alfred, who commanded the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years. Alfred logged 42 years in law enforcement, before his passing at age 80.

The March Republican Primary sent two county incumbents into runoffs. County Commissioner, Precinct 4 Ken Geeslin won his runoff race in May, while Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Dale Blaylock was unseated.

The County Courthouse was the scene of a big birthday bash on May 17, and the building itself  was the guest of honor. A large crowd came out on a Saturday for speeches, music and a re-enactment by the Masons of the laying of the cornerstone in 1914.

Former District Court Judge Jack Holland told of the beauty of the original courthouse, making us latecomers wish we had been able to see the balcony and the ornate design of the original building.

On May 29, as the end of the school year neared, and the city was anticipating the arrival of Fiddler’s Day, a fire erupted at Ag Services on Larkin Street. The presence of tons of ammonium nitrate in the old building led to the evacuation of a 5-block downtown area.

The Athens Fire Department stood by as the old structure burned down, aware of the protocol for containing a fire involving the hazardous material. Athens Police patrolled the downtown area, keeping citizens away from the endangered area.

The next few hours brought a swarm of officials from agencies like the State Fire Marshal’s Office to the city. The fire also brought a circus of media from Tyler and Dallas, swirling about the area like autumn leaves. With Their television cameras pointed and microphones mounted, they questioned the local response to the emergency.

Mayor Jerry Don Vaught and Fire Chief John McQueary fielded the questions in a manner that led to the city council approving a proclamation that recognized the first responders for “their profound sacrifices and dedication.”

Cleanup of the Ag Services site is ongoing. A report from the State Fire Marshal’s is expected soon.            

The way I see it, the news business is like a river. Sometimes, we’re in the rapids, and sometimes things slow to a trickle. A change could be just around the bend.

Rich Flowers is News Editor of the  Athens Daily Review.

Text Only
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    She did it.
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  • Joe new mug.jpg Fanfare is a time to prepare for another season

    I love to see the talent our student athletes have across Henderson County. To know that each player puts in the blood, sweat and tears to play for a district championship and hopefully a state title is something special to see.
    Another great in the world of sports is a player who is retiring this season in New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
    Jeter once said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
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  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
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    It's our problem-free philosophy.
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    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

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  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
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    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

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