By David Webb
GUN BARREL CITY–Candidates running for the Gun Barrel City Council split along public safety and political lines while discussing smoking bans during a candidate forum Tuesday.
Linda Rankin, who is one of three candidates running for the Place 5 seat, and incumbent Councilwoman Carol Calkins, who is running unopposed for the Place 3 seat she now holds, said they favored an ordinance targeting businesses and other public venues to protect people from the hazardous effects of second-hand smoke. Calkins noted she lost a relative to cancer who contracted the disease from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Rankin limited her support of a smoking ban to restaurants and public venues but would permit nightclubs to continue allowing smoking if the owners so choose, saying environments where children gather need to be protective. Adults should be able to make their own choices, she said.
All of the other candidates said they opposed any type of ban on smoking because they objected to local government interfering in business operations.
Nightclub owner Rob Rea, who is running unopposed for the Place 1 seat, noted he smokes along with many of his customers. Prohibiting smoking could ruin his business, he said. Rea referred to proponents of smoking bans as “cigarette Nazis.”
“I have a philosophical problem with government telling me and other business owners how to make their money,” Rea said.
Incumbent Councilman Marty Goss and candidate Steven Schiff, who are running against Rankin for the Place 5 position, agreed with Rea that local governments should not impose smoking regulations on businesses.
Schiff said he is a former smoker, but he quit because the awareness of second-hand smoking hazards forced him to start smoking outside. He now avoids restaurants where smoking is allowed, and he limits his time in places such as Rea’s nightclub because of the smoke, Schiff said.
Goss said he considered it inappropriate for the city to “dictate rules” to businesses. He suggested the issue be put to a vote by citizens if a smoking ban is to be considered in Gun Barrel City.
Mayor Jim Braswell recently solicited opinions on a social media site about a smoking ban ordinance in Gun Barrel City. After the forum, the mayor said he was surprised to hear the question asked at the forum, but he noted several residents had asked him about the possibility of supporting a ban.
Other topics discussed by the candidates included the possibility of an ad valorem tax in the future, other sources of revenue, financial accountability by the city and what civic projects should take priority in coming years.
In the only contested race, Place 5 candidates Rankin and Schiff said the City Council needs to take a new direction while eight-year council incumbent Goss dismissed his critics as being “off-base” and ignorant of the facts.
The candidate forum was sponsored by the Athens Daily Review, The Monitor, Henderson County Now and CedarCreekLake.com. The media chose three of the questions, including the one about the smoking ordinance. The 50-member audience submitted several other questions at the 90-minute forum moderated by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Kevin Pollock.
Each candidate gave a two-minute opening and a one-minute closing statement in addition to answering the questions. The candidates chose the order in which they answered the questions in a random drawing.
Posted by : April 19, 2015| On :
By David Webb
Posted by : April 5, 2015| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
BROWNSBORO–Pastor Rafael Cruz, the father of 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, spoke publicly for the second time in Henderson County March 26.
He called his listeners, some 200 and a handful of church leaders, to action to restore truth and goodness in America.
“Stop playing church inside these four walls and take the light out to the marketplace and shine it at the darkness,” he said. “It’s time to fight to preserve the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and to preserve the virtue of the young.”
Using a digital slide presentation, Cruz accused Christians of keeping silent while immorality increases and the growth of governmental regulations steadily reduces freedom.
He argued against excuses such as the “separation of church and state,” assigning key issues as political concerns and restricting the church’s business to the proclaiming of the gospel.
He pointed to the Apostle Paul who wrote in Acts 20:26-27, that he was innocent of the blood of all men because he did not “shrink from proclaiming the whole counsel of God.”
Cruz reminded his listeners that God has given his people every truth needed for “life and godliness.”
“The separation of church and state is a one-way wall prohibiting government from infringing in our free exercise of religion in all spheres of life,” he said.
He stated that the church’s silence tends to justify the wicked (Provers 17:15).
He pointed out three key examples of this silence:
• The abolishment of Bible reading in schools by the Supreme Court in 1962, even though the first publishing of the Bible in America was done by the authorization of Congress for use in primary and secondary schools and universities.
• The removal of formal prayer in the classroom in 1963, and
• The legalization of abortion in Roe v. Wade.
Cruz recited from memory the words of Benjamin Franklin as recorded during the constitution convention when members had reached an impasse that threatened to abort the birth of the nation.
“In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?
“In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.
“Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.
“And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?
“We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.
“And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
“I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.”
Building the lives of young people into good citizens “requires the same humility toward a nation’s God,” Cruz said.
He also said that all 17 articles against King George found in the Declaration of Independence were first preached from the pulpits of the colonies.
And he gave the example of at least one pastor who from the pulpit cast off his ministerial robes to reveal an armed soldier underneath. “He asked who would fight with him, and lead 300 men of his congregation to fight in the War of Independence,” he said.
The Bible actually instructs on how to choose political leaders, he said pointing to the example of Moses and the advice of his father-in-law (Exodus 18: 21ff):
“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
“And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden (responsibility) with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.”
These verses also inform of levels of government, from great to small and describe a mutual sharing of responsibility and a decentralization of power, Cruz explained.
“Authority flows from God to the people to the government and not from God to the government to the people,” he said.
He closed out his comments underlining the importance of inspecting the voting record of candidates for office, voter registration and getting to the polls to follow the Biblical counsel to choose able men, who love truth, fear God and detest the coveting power.
Posted by : March 22, 2015| On :
MABANK–The first day back from Spring Break and about 40 students from Mabank Intermediate School are happy to stay after school for an hour of fun, friendship and Bible study.
Lead by volunteers, under a national nondenominational organization, KiDs Beach Club is making an impact on students and their families.
“It’s where kids connect with God,” founder/president Jack Terrell told The Monitor.
The 20-year career children’s minister from Euless formatted the one hour of activities around large and small group activities, which includes games that reinforce the lesson.
A cardinal rule for volunteers serving with the club is adults are never to be alone with any child at anytime.
Each club is sponsored by a local church which provides the screened volunteers for training, a partnering fee and after-school snacks.
While there are strict rules and training for adults working as leaders and helpers, there’s nothing but fun, excitement and learning through activities that reinforce and connect kids to Bible truths, principals and key character words.
Five short rules keep order so fun and optimism takes center stage. These are: sit up, look up, listen up, hands up and have fun.
Youngsters start off in small groups to enjoy snacks and friends, but shortly are on their feet for a very active large group worship period that uses up excess energy. The children follow student leaders and a music video to sing and move with the songs.
This is followed by an introduction to a Bible verse and a small group game that helps them remember it. On this day, the verse is: “Let the little children come to me.” Matthew 19:14.
Leaders ask questions about the verse pointing out that parents who recognized Jesus was someone special wanted their children to meet him, too. And unlike some adults, Jesus felt the children were important and he wanted to spend time with them. That’s one of the ways Jesus showed his love for children.
“He’s never too busy for you,” the leader concludes before starting the memory game, which involved tossing a hackysack back and forth with each child tossing back with the next word in the verse. Each small group competed with the other groups to finish the verse and race to the other side of the room when finished where an adult holds a large sign with the word Jesus spelled out.
Then follows a short Bible reading, done aloud by select club members. On other weeks children see the story acted out or through various other interactive ways.
A review activity follows in small groups with some more games.
Throughout the hour, children are rewarded for appropriate behavior with tickets and points that are redeemed at the end of the hour with a trip to the treasure chest.
“The word describing Jesus’ character in this lesson,” leader Stacy Ross says, “and one he wants every follower of his to adopt is Love.”
The children are attentive and well-mannered as the hour progresses. A loving atmosphere is in evidence through their behavior and interaction with adult volunteers.
“Children have tender, open, receptive hearts,” Terrell observes, “that’s why we do Beach Club.”
Started in 2003 in Euless and expanded into a national organization in 2006, the KiDs Beach Club is in 146 schools in eight states and has more than 10,000 student enrolled.
The 2,193 volunteers , which include parents, and 107 partnering churches are Making Jesus Cool at School!®
Each third-sixth grade student participates with permission from their parents in an upbeat, positive atmosphere.
Up until this year, Bibles were presented as incentives; 24 per club, one for each week the club meets. But this year, a member of the board of directors challenged the organization to ask, “Why not provide each child with his or her own special KiDs Beach Club Bible at no cost to the children?”
At Mabank Intermediate, most of the children remembered to bring their Bibles to club time and earned points for doing so. Each child read from it and found key words from within its pages.
The KiDs Beach Club also lowers barriers between families and the partnering church through the loving volunteers that form healthy, trusting relationships within the club setting. “God is made known through his people,” Terrell said.
In Mabank ISD, a club is found in each elementary school, as well as in Kemp and Eustace intermediate schools, and Malakoff and Tool elementary schools. More are located in Athens, Brownsboro, Chandler, Ennis and Corsicana.
Nearly 10 years ago, 48 percent of families whose students participated in the club did not identify with any church affiliation.
Last year, that percentage had grown to 62 percent, Terrell said.
KiDs Beach Club opens a tremendous opportunity for partnering churches to make connections with families that have no church home, he pointed out.