By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Lone Star Republican Women sponsored a Republican candidates meet and greet with a moderated discussion following Jan. 30.
With more than a dozen office seekers in attendance, the event attracted more folks than seats available. The moderated discussion ran in three one hour rounds, starting with those running for 392nd District Judge and State District 4 Representative. Each candidate was given a brief time to introduce himself or herself and an equally brief limit to summarize why they feel they are the best choice for office. In between each presented an argument and had an opportunity for rebuttal. Moderators Rich Flowers of the Athens Daily Review and Chris Quinn of KCKL-radio posed the same question to each candidate.
Former officeholder Lance Gooden argued for his return as Dist.4 State Representative on the basis of his effectiveness in office, pointing to his record as printed in a handout sheet, which also listed current Rep. Stuart Spitzer’s record to get legislation passed. He stressed legislation he passed that benefited the county fair grounds and a simple piece of legislation that should have been passed this last session, which didn’t.
Spitzer highlighted his efficiency on bills he co-sponsored and supported, along with his conservative stance and voice for those who sent him to Austin, as opposed to special interest groups. Gooden responded with mentioning Spitzer backing by a group wanting the Speaker of the House ousted.
Judge candidate Maryann Warren said the most important characteristics in a district judge should be an attitude of service from a heart of humility, compassion and mutual respect. She suggested that the citizens of Henderson County would be better served by treatment of many drug offenders rather than the court system. Changed lives would also impact the number of children being admitted into the foster care system, which would also impact the bottom line. She also highlighted the need for greater efficiency in the 392nd court that wouldn’t leave highly-paid lawyers for the indigent waiting. An uncontested docket would shorten the court schedule, she said. She pointed out her 23 years as a lawyer handling civic and criminal cases in several counties, where things are done differently.
She also felt her strength lies in not having any connections to Henderson County government, with no ties to apply the law equally.
“I’m about improving this court system and improving all that stems from the drug and alcohol problem in the county, along with the churches. If we work to improve that, it would be a significant savings to the county,” she said.
DA Scott McKee stressed his budgeting experience to save taxpayer dollars, overseeing a $33M budget at the DA’s Office. His record together with Sheriff Ray Nutt have greatly reduced drug manufacturing and selling in the county. He pointed out his service on various boards and organizations, work with youth sports and the Go Blue campaign to bring greater awareness to child abuse. He also listed his commitment to the unborn, family life, Texas law, U.S. Constitution and service as a reservist in the military. “I’ve served in the courtroom to the battlefield,” he said.
Scott pointed out that in the county he feels no one is really in charge that it takes teamwork among the department heads working toward a common cause to serve the people of Henderson County.
Former County Attorney James Owen proposed a consolidation plan of the county attorney with the district attorney’s office to save the taxpayers at least $500,000 to $1,000,000. He pointed out that this plan is seeing success in 52 other counties, including nearby Kaufman County, Navarro, Anderson and Van Zandt counties. Owen said this consolidation would increase efficiency in the court system, lessen the number of court-appointed attorneys for the indigent and would make for a smoother operation.
When asked why he didn’t move on this plan when he was county attorney before, he answered that with a politically split court of commissioners and a county judge who was sick, the proposal was not feasible, but now it is and Republicans should do whatever it takes to save tax dollars.
Current officeholder Clint Davis opposes this plan and outlined what it would take to establish the joint office, whose combined budgets total $2.4 million, he said. All but $100,000 is allocated to employee salaries and benefits, he stated. He pointed out that his office not only handles 3,000 misdemeanor case a year, but also mental commitments, juvenile and truancy cases, processing and responding to open records requests, collection of fines, court costs and hot checks and advising officials on the drafting of contracts and agreements. He also pointed out the benefits of having two offices, including a separation of powers, and how each office serves the other when a conflict of interest arises, and the fact the county receives $70,000 a year from the State of Texas for the County Attorney’s Office.
The race for sheriff is between Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse, jail administrator and longtime HSCO investigator Billy Jack Valentine.
Hillhouse stressed his march up through the ranks, earning promotions under the last four sheriffs and the endorsement he has from retiring Sheriff Ray Nutt. “I’m the only candidate who knows the department from bottom to top,” he said. “I know county government. I work there every day.” He pointed to the $11 million budget he forged with the help of county commissioners. “That’s something I’m very proud of,” he said.
Valentine stressed what he would do to increase community involvement in order to make the department more effective and responsive. He would operate a transparent department, so citizens would know just how the Sheriff’s Office works and win their trust to partner with the department in getting the job done. “I propose community meetings with the deputy assigned to your area,” he said, ride-alongs and being available 24/7 “by phone to help you.”
“I want to take care of you, your children and save your tax dollars,” Valentine said, adding since he was 7 years old he has wanted to be the Sheriff of Henderson County. “I’ll be the best sheriff this county has ever had,” he said.
Both candidates demonstrated a lot of passion for the job.
Candidates for constable in precincts 2 and 5 answered questions about their responses to open carry gun law, and serving as bailiff in their courts and district court, when asked to. All agreed that they would not approach someone just because they were wearing a gun on their hip. “I assume everyone is armed in all cases,” Precinct 2 Constable Mitch Baker said.
Wick Gabbard, candidate for Precinct 5, said, “As long as they don’t point a gun at me, I’m glad they have one. Precinct 5 Constable Brad Miers said he wasn’t in favor of open carry, having seen a lady newly licensed, who he described as “scared and carrying a gun.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner candidates Ken Hayes and Keith Pryor faced off. Hayes said his 24 years in road construction and as a businessman makes him a well-rounded commissioner.
Pryor with a long career with the Texas Department of Transportation makes him the best choice. “I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” he said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner candidates Kevin Head, Charles “Chuck” McHam, Mark Tillison and Sammy Scott also sounded out their qualifications and willingness to serve.
Posted by : February 4, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : January 22, 2016| On :
Monitor Photo/Robyn Wheeler
Prior to giving her “30 second elevator speech,” Take Action with Teresa Domestic Violence Advocate Teresa Hawley Howard (left)practices her handshake with Launch It owner Stacie Flowers.
By Robyn Wheeler
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK–Launch It Owner and Business Counsultant Stacie Flowers of Gun Barrel City held an Introduction to Business Workshop at the Tri-County Library Jan. 18.
“I help individuals start, build and grow their business,” Flowers said.
Flowers and the participants discussed how to create a “30 second elevator speech” and then record it on video.
“Elevator speeches should not sound practiced or rehearsed, even though the are,” Flowers said. “We help you sound natural and flowing.”
Other topics discussed included business marketing and budgeting, setting personal and business goals, and setting deadlines.
“If you would like to begin your own business but you’re not sure what to do, we can help you brainstorm and figure out where you talents lie,” Flowers said.
The next Introduction to Business Workshop is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15 at the Tri-County Library.
For more information, call Flowers at (214) 502-7166 or go to www.launchittoday.net.
Posted by : January 22, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
KEMP–Like many college students, Blaine Clamon, 22, enjoys the social aspects of attending a public university. His personality is friendly, outgoing and he loves to talk. Unlike most college students at Texas A & M University at College Station, Blaine has had to overcome challenges related to Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
With help from his parents, Cheryl and Rusty Clamon, he completed his third semester with two B’s and four A’s, after a rocky first semester start.
“He struggled with change in routine and location,” his dad stated. “The first semester in the fall of 2014 was an academic disaster.”
The Clamons appealed to the review board of the College of Liberal Arts and convinced them to give their son another chance. After all he had proven his ability while earning his Associates Degree at Trinity Valley Community College, and they knew their son could make the necessary adjustments to do well at A&M. Blaine’s academic performance proved their trust in him was well placed, and Blaine built a great deal of self-confidence in the process.
“I want to be a historian, working in the archives of a museum or doing research or perhaps at an observatory,” the history major told The Monitor. Computer science also remains a strong interest, he added. During the interview, Blaine demonstrated a keen memory for details, facts and figures.
He told The Monitor one of his most helpful coping devices is to schedule in his out-of-class study time and book regular times in the computer lab. This daily schedule keeps him on track to perform better on test days. During his first semester at A & M he took six course like he had at TVCC; however, one course provided for just two final exams and no interim quizzes or projects.
In an effort to their son from afar, after that first disastrous semester, his parents enrolled him with the school’s Disability Services, which provided Blaine with regular academic counseling, some technical assistance to help him in his classes and the use of a testing center, which afforded him extended time and helped him manage his anxiety. “I have also taken a couple of exams with the class,” Blaine said.
“Blaine’s pattern with the Asperger’s Syndrome is essentially that he encounters a new situation, struggles, learns how to adapt and then conquers the problems,” his dad observed. “It’s the same with anyone who is succeeding in life. He learned a great deal during his first semester and then made the necessary adaptations to ensure his success.”
He is also studying sports management as his minor, which covers free agency, marketing, academic funding as well as aspects of coaching. Each semester, he has taken two history courses and some of his sports courses are earned online.
Like most students, he finds the courses he has most recently completed to be the most interesting. At the top of his list at the moment is Africana studies from the 1600-1800s. While in intermediate and older grades, Blaine enjoyed learning Texas history, he said.
One other important element to Blaine’s success is his living situation while away from home. A former Kemp coach moved his family into the College Station area where he and one of his own sons had attended the university successfully. The Clamons had struck up a friendship with this family and maintained it after Kemp High School Coach Walt Mangan left the area.
They were willing to have Blaine stay at their house while he attended A&M, and Blaine contributes to the household by looking after the family’s pets, especially when they go out of town for any reason. That arrangement has relieved his parents from anxiety and worry about their son’s day-to-day care, management of his meds and oversight of his routines, and transportation.
Blaine anticipates graduating in the summer of 2016 and is already planning for his master’s degree, including searching for avenues to fund that venture. As the eldest child in the Clamon clan, Blaine recognizes the importance of his example to his brothers and younger cousins. “Hopefully, my brothers can follow in my footsteps,” he said. He and cousin Wade are the first ones to earn college degrees. Blaine has two younger brothers, Derek, 12, and Cameron, 15. His dad has been serving as president of the Kemp Area Sports Association and is in his second year as a Kemp School Board member.
Blaine’s parents first learned of his condition when he was in the second grade and attending New Horizons Private School and Day Care, a facility the Clamons purchased when Blaine was 18 months old. “Having that school was a godsend to us,” Cheryl Clamon said. “We were able to learn and adjust his early education to meet his needs from the beginning.”
The outlook for Blaine’s future success is bright and hopeful. Here is a young man who has much to offer his family, community and world, not least of which by his example of persevering his way to success!