Posted by : December 25, 2014| On :
By David Webb
TRINIDAD–Retired Judge Ron Chapman and his wife, Sally, attended President Obama’s Christmas party at the White House Dec. 11, something they “never dreamed about being able to do” in their lifetimes.
“It was amazing,” Sally Chapman said after the couple returned home. “It was so beautiful and elegant. It was so exciting. It was just overwhelming.”
The vision of the lighted Christmas decorations on the first and second floor of the White House continues to thrill her, she said. “It was over the moon,” she said.
She said the best part of the experience though was the “reward” it represented for her husband, a longtime Democratic Party member.
“I was just so happy for him,” she said. “He loved it too.”
The trip came about as a result of a friend of Ron Chapman arranging the invitation. The friend asked the former judge if he would like to receive a Christmas card from President Obama, and he of course replied, “Yes.”
Then he received an e-mail asking for his Social Security number, address and other pertinent personal information in preparation for them attending the Christmas party. The couple, of course, wondered if it might be some sort of Internet scam, rather than a legitimate inquiry from the White House.
“Ron said, ‘Well, if it is a scam, it’s the best one I’ve ever seen,’” his wife said. A call to the judge’s friend revealed it was legitimate.
They received the invitation to the Christmas party about a week prior to their trip to Washington, D.C., and they made reservations to spend five days in the nation’s capital to see all of the historic sights.
Upon their arrival at the White House in the afternoon, it took about an hour for them to get through security. There were about 750 guests in attendance so the Chapmans only got a glimpse of the President and the First Lady, who descended to the second floor from a back staircase to greet the crowd.
The entertainment included the Marine Band, the St. Louis Carolers and an array of food on a 50-foot-long buffet table that offered everything imaginable to eat. President Obama and the First Lady danced during the party.
The Chapmans and other guests were free to roam throughout the first and second floors of the White House. Each room had a Christmas tree designed as a ball gown and a Secret Service guard who answered questions.
“I walked into one room where everything was blue so I said, ‘This must be the Blue Room,’” she said. The Secret Service agent joked back, “You are very observative.”
The rest of the stay in Washington, D.C. proved to be just as thrilling of an experience, she said. They toured the Smithsonian and visited as many national landmarks as they could.
Now, they are back at home, recovering from a bout of the flu, but the memories of their visit to the White House are comforting them through the aches and pains.
Posted by : November 30, 2014| On :
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners approved a contract with Dr. Vincent Ramos to oversee inmate mental health at the prison.
Ramos and his staff will counsel with inmates for 30 hours a week. He provides the same function at the Rockwall County Jail and HCSO Chief Deputy Botie Hillhouse told the court Tuesday, the program has been highly successful.
“The Rockwall County jail administrator spoke highly of the program,” Hillhouse said. “They’re very happy with his services. They say he’s basically made his jail a safer jail and has lessened the use of force within their facility.”
Hillhouse said Ramos’ services will make the process smoother and safer if an inmate needs to be transported to a mental health facility.
“Our goal is to do everything in house, instead of having to take the inmate to the hospital,” Hillhouse said.
Dr. Ramos is a Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Specialist in School Psychology with over 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in home, school and/or correctional settings.
He specializes in conducting English and Spanish psychological and forensic mental health evaluations. He worked with Rockwall County inmates in 2010.
“At any point in time, you can expect 65 to 70 percent of the inmates to have a mental health disorder or a drug addiction,” Ramos said. The problem is growing nationwide as community mental health funding has been reduced, he explained.
“These people come into the jail and bring their problems to the jail. What we’ve discovered happens in the jail is when we provide services, the whole environment improves,” he said.
The $1,500 per month contract will be paid through the HCSO commissary fund. The HCSO has more than $170,000 in the account. The agreement will run through the end of 2015.
Dr. Ramos has been honored with the Mental Health Professional of the Year Award (2011) by the Dallas affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He sits on the NAMI Dallas Board of Directors and Executive Committee.
In other business, commissioners:
• declared an emergency for the Henderson County Fair Park in the amount of $23,000 to allow the purchase of new stalls;
• resolved to add optional worker’s compensation coverage from the Texas Association of Counties;
• approved the resale of four lots in Log Cabin Estates;
• allowed a right-of-way request from Atmos Energy for County Road 1315, near Cross Roads; and
• paid bills totaling $172,653.96.
Posted by : November 23, 2014| On :
Wills Point ISD impacted by the news; motorists cautioned to use seat belts
Monitor Staff Reports
OUACHITA PARISH, LA.–Tragedy struck a Terrell family Wednesday night when a single car crash left five family members dead and three injured in Ouachita Parish, La.
The family was headed eastbound on Interstate 20 on the way to Walt Disney World in Florida to vacation when the 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe veered into the median, ejecting six from the vehicle. According to police reports, the driver, a 16-year-old, overcorrected and the vehicle rolled.
Trudi Hardman, a kindergarten teacher at Wills Point ISD, and her husband Michael Hardman, a second-grade teacher at Terrell ISD, were killed in the crash. Michael Hardman was also a former teacher at Wills Point.
Three of their children, ages 4, 7 and 15 were also killed in the wreck. The 15-year-old was a sophomore at Wills Point High School and the 7-year-old attended the intermediate school there.
The driver, a junior at Wills Point ISD, and the two remaining passengers were taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries. None of the ejected passengers were wearing a seat belt.
Wills Point ISD released this statement in response to the crash:
“Words cannot express the sadness in our hearts today. The Hardman family was in a serious accident in Louisiana last night. Five family members were lost in the accident and three survived.
“Mrs. Hardman was a Kindergarten teacher at our Primary. Please keep the family and their friends in your thoughts and prayers. The impact of the tragedy is far reaching and has effected each campus. Also, keep the family of Jami Johnson, another teacher, in your prayers as this has also impacted her family as well with the loss of one son and two others injured.” Counselors have been made available on each campus for students and staff, it continued.
Police believe the driver may have fallen asleep prior to the crash and impairment is not suspected as a cause of the wreck.
The crash remains under investigation.
The Lousiana State Police released a statement following the crash, cautioning drivers to buckle up.