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New Mayor and Councilmember Sworn in During City Council Meeting
By Will McClure
The Stamford City Council held its regular meeting last Monday evening, May 21st, to discuss a few upcoming items for the city, but more importantly to officially swear in a new mayor and city council member. Outgoing Mayor Johnny Anders called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm with all members present and a full meeting room, when he would ask Councilmember Jimmy Doan to lead the invocation. After Councilmember Dennis Braden led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance, Anders began the meeting by stating that it had been an honor and a privilege to serve the city of Stamford for the last 20 years, 13 of which as the Mayor.
“I would like to tell this council that I appreciate your support,” Anders said. “The only thing I have is to ask you all to stay with Cedar Ridge, stay with some of the projects we have going; that’s the future of Stamford.” After expressing his gratitude, Anders turned the meeting over to City Secretary Kim Bryant to give the Oath of Office and Statement of Elected Officers to new Mayor James Decker, new Councilmember Paul Wright for Place 5, and returning Councilmember Dennis Braden for Place 4. After giving their oaths and statements, Bryant asked the new Mayor and Councilmembers to take their positions. City Manager Alan Plumlee took a moment to present Anders with a token of appreciation for his service to Stamford for the last 20 years, noting that his term as Mayor lasting from 2005 to 2018 was the longest sitting mayor since the incorporation of Stamford in this time period, with the previous longest being six years. With the presentation, Anders was then given a standing ovation by the citizens in attendance, as well as the members of the city council, as a final “thank you” for his service.
New Mayor James Decker then continued the meeting by opening the floor for citizens’ comments. With there being none, the meeting moved forward with time for Decker to make his first official comments as Mayor of Stamford. Decker began by stating that it was an honor to officially have the role of the 37th Mayor of Stamford and that Stamford was very important to him.
“I chose to start my business here, to come back here, to bring my wife back here, and to raise a family here and I did that for a reason,” Decker said. “It’s because of my love for the community and the people that were in it, and I think back to when my family moved to Stamford in 1986 and my dad had an opportunity to be transferred here and questioned his dad and said whether Stamford was the right place and if it was the move he should make or not. His dad told him 32 years ago that the best thing about Stamford is the people…You’ll move there for the people and you’ll love it because of the people. 32 years later, that’s exactly right.” Decker went on to say that it was important to him to serve his community and also once again thanked Anders for his service and everything that he has done for the community. Decker ended his comments by stating that the best days of Stamford are still to come and that we are all here to make the community better to creating a lasting legacy. With his comments finished, the meeting would move forward with the remaining items on the regular agenda.
The next item was to look over the minutes of the May 7th regular meeting as well as the May 14th special called session. With no needed additions or corrects, the council moved to approve the minutes as presented, with Councilmember Braden being the only member to abstain from the vote. The next item was the passing of Resolution 2018-05, which allowed the council to give authority to the City Manager to make decisions for the VIP Center in town. After assuring the council that the VIP Center was heading in the right direction, the council moved to unanimously approve the resolution as presented. Cheyenne Bereuter then stepped forward to seek the council’s permission to use city streets for the annual Texas Cowboy Reunion Parade. Bereuter stated that the parade would take place on Wednesday, July 4th at 4:00 and would follow the same route as in previous years. With this said, the council moved to approve the request. The final item of the agenda, would actually be resolved later in the evening, was to appoint a Mayor Pro Tem. Decker stated that he felt that Councilmember Melinda Smith had been doing an excellent job serving in the role that, unless there were any objections, to appoint Smith as Mayor Pro Tem once again. The council moved to approve this appointment and moved forward with the consent agenda, which saw the council approve a lake lot lease transfer as well as a subsequent new lake lot lease.
The meeting was then turned over to City Manager Alan Plumlee for his City Manager’s Report, which he began by stating that the city will set the opening of the pool for June 2nd and will be filling the poolto make sure everything is fine before that date. The next item was that Plumlee, along with Lindy Patton and Gary Walker, made a presentation to the Commissioner’s Court in Anson asking for funding and assistance for the cloud seeding program. Plumlee stated that the Court told them that they would look into the matter, but no action was taken. Regardless, the seeding program did begin earlier in the week to begin the cloud seeding process. Next, Plumlee stated that he along with Decker attended the Cedar Ridge Reservoir meeting where they had the opportunity to speak about the reservoir where the idea was receptive about the reservoir becoming regional instead of localized for Abilene. Plumlee stated that public comments concerning the reservoir would be open until June 16th.
Plumlee continued his report by informing the council that he had met with the Cowboy Country Museum board about extending Museum Coordinator Jewellee Kuenstler’s hours from half-time to a full-time contract which will include health insurance while items such as sick leave and vacation were tabled until a later date by Kuenstler herself. In addition to the new contract, Kuenstler’s title would change from Museum Coordinator to Museum Curator. Next, Plumlee stated that he received news from the VIP Center that the center will be holding a kickoff party on June 1st from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm and will serve hamburger and hot dogs and well as provide entertainment. The final item of the report was positive as Stamford’s water was entered into the Abilene Water School Contest and received an award for the best-tasting water in the area for any town under 10,000 people, which was received by Casey Chambers from the Stamford Water Treatment Plant. After fielding a few more items from the council, Plumlee concluded his report and, with there being no other items to discuss, the council adjourned for the evening at 5:41 pm with those in attendance invited to stay for refreshments.
Man Acquitted of 1st Degree Murder
By Teresa Barbian
A twelve member jury, consisting of five women and seven men, took a little over two hours to return a verdict of Not Guilty in the case of Barry Lee Bailey, Jr. Bailey was charged with 1st Degree Murder in the shooting death of Jesse Arms. The shooting took place in Stamford on Mother’s Day 2016 at the home of Arms. A 911 operator dispatched Stamford PD at 1:41 am. Several witnesses indicated that “Barry did it”, but confusion as to which Barry the witnesses were referring to surfaced in the defense’s case. Prior to the shooting, the victim had a physical altercation with Barry Eugene Bailey, Sr. and a video that was taken of this fight was posted online by the girlfriend of Jacob Simon, the victim’s brother. Prosecution witness Rudy Sanchez testified that the victim thought that Bailey Sr. would be back with others to retaliate.
Stamford Chief of Police Darwin Huston testified during the four day trial that mistakes were made in collecting gunshot residue from the defendant and that the evidence was ultimately contaminated and could not be used to prove that the defendant had recently shot a firearm. But prosecution witness Anne Koettel from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office testified that gunshot residue can be washed off with just water. Defense attorney David M. Stiller from Spring, TX questioned another Stamford PD officer on why the crime scene was not cordoned off. The officer on the stand responded, “It was a mistake on my part,” for not roping off the scene. Each prosecution witness from the scene testified to hearing a different number of gunshots, but Stamford PD did not find a gun, shell casings, or other evidence at the scene. The body camera from the first officer on scene was played in the courtroom. In this footage, voices could be heard shouting, “Sr. did it” and “It was Barry”.
Prosecution witness Rudy Sanchez testified that he heard Bailey, Jr. ask, “Why you (expletive) up my pops?” Another prosecution witness admitted on the stand that he had been smoking a “blunt” before the shooting. Other witnesses testified that there were no drugs or alcohol present at the home before the shooting. The victim’s wife testified that she did not see any faces when she walked outside just before the shooting, she only saw shadows. She testified that the shorter shadow was holding a gun in his right hand. This witness also could not identify the defendant in the courtroom because she didn’t know what he looked like. Video from the surveillance cameras at City Hall was introduced and showed two individuals running a short distance from the crime scene. Although no faces could be seen from the black and white footage, Chief Huston testified that he could tell it was Bailey, Jr. who was running past the camera. He stated that he had played basketball with Bailey, Jr. and knew what he looked like running.
Bailey, Jr. testified on his own behalf and told the courtroom that he was with his common-law wife asleep at home when the shooting took place. Veronique Titus, Bailey’s common-law wife, testified that she was lying right next to a sleeping Bailey, Jr. just before she fell asleep around 1 am. Both this witness and Bailey, Jr. testified that Bailey was injured at work about five years ago and dislocated both of his shoulders; medical records were brought into the courtroom showing that the defendant ultimately had surgery on his right shoulder. He testified that he still has pain in both shoulders and that he cannot run anymore. He also testified that the last time he played basketball with Chief Huston was about eight years ago. The defendant also testified that he is left-handed, but in cross examination, the prosecutor suggested that since he had surgery on his right shoulder that the right arm was now stronger than his left.
In the end, the prosecution did not meet their burden of proof as the jury came back with a Not Guilty verdict. Both sides of the courtroom erupted in sobs when the verdict was read. The family members of the victim were visibly and understandably angered and upset by the verdict and were led out of the courtroom in screams of agony. The defendant laid his head on the table and quietly wept and shook when the verdict was read. The muffled cries and embracing hugs from his family and attorney camouflaged their tears of relief. The lives of all who were involved have been forever changed, and the tragedy of a life lost will stain their hearts forever.
The Voice of the Tigers
By Teresa Barbian
It’s that time of year, Friday night football and unless you’ve been under a rock for the last year you know that the expectations of our Anson Tigers are pretty high. Sometimes we just can’t get to the stadium to support our tigers, but there’s a solution to that problem. The Country Giant 106.9 has partnered with the Anson Tigers to bring you a play by play broadcast which will be beginning its third year Friday, September 1st with a home game against the Hamlin Pied Pipers. It’s definitely not a ‘one man job’. The familiar voices who can become extremely excited at times are none other than our very own, Brooks Hagler and Coach Todd Lange. Producing these broadcasts is Mr. Richard Kemp, one of the owners of KLDG radio station.
Ironically the Stamford Bulldogs, Anson’s biggest rival, are the reason that the Anson Tiger’s are on the radio. Kemp traveled to Stamford to talk to their Athletic Director Ronnie Casey about broadcasting Friday night football for the Bulldogs. Kemp wanted KLDG to be a part of the community, but it didn’t work out with the Bulldogs because they were already being broadcast by another radio station. Casey told Kemp to go over to Anson and talk to Coach Chris Hagler and as that old saying goes, “Botta-boom, botta-bang,” the Country Giant sealed a deal with the Tigers. Now all they needed was an announcer. Judge Hagler, Coach Hagler, Kemp, and Jay Baccus, Anson’s Superintendent, were having lunch and discussing possible announcers and throwing several names around. When all of their prospects had other obligations, Coach Hagler looked at Judge Hagler and said, “Well, Judge, I guess you’re just gonna have to do it.” The fear and anxiety of doing a live broadcast was quickly laid to rest for Judge Hagler because of the speed of that first game and his critics were not shy about his performance. After that first broadcast, preparation was a key component for his future broadcasts.
To say that Judge Hagler is passionate about Anson is an understatement. “My roots run deep,” commented Judge Hagler who is unapologetic about his passion for the Anson Tigers. He was born and raised right here in Anson, he graduated from Anson High School, his family works for the school district, and he has kids in the school district ,so he definitely shows his favoritism for Anson. Because you can’t have a Big Mac without the fries or your coke without a smile, let’s not forget about Judge Hagler’s trusty sidekick Coach Lange. He complements Judge Hagler’s excitement for the Anson Tigers. Lange is the head basketball coach for the varsity Lady Tigers. Hagler and Lange’s play by play broadcasts have become very successful with 106.9’s listening audience and that is due to the pair’s keen sense for the game, Judge Hagler’s impressive recollection of Anson’s history, and the overwhelming support of the community for the broadcasts. The businesses in Anson have been especially supportive with the advertisements which air during the commercial breaks. A significant amount of the proceeds from these advertisements goes the Anson Athletic Booster Club, and Judge Hagler surmises that the booster club has gotten upwards of $5000 or more each season of the broadcasts.
Asked what his favorite part of doing the broadcasts is, Judge Hagler responded, “Knowing that I’m a small part of the platform to display the school district from a football standpoint.” He loves to talk about the kids in the school district and what a great school district Anson is. And as for that unbiased admiration for the Anson Tigers, “We make it clear throughout the broadcasts that if you were expecting an unbiased opinion of what’s going on then you need to tune into a different station. This is an Anson Tiger broadcast and we are Anson Tigers.” Judge Hagler absolutely loves this community and he thinks it’s awesome that the kids get to have a few moments on a Friday night with Anson as the star of the show.
Kickoff for the new season starts Friday, September 1, 2017 with the Anson Tigers hosting the Hamlin Pied Pipers. If you can’t make it out to the game, make sure to tune in around 7 pm on The Country Giant 106.9 on your radio or go to KLGD.fm on your computer or Smartphone to hear the voice of the Tigers.
Hurricane Harvey Hits Close to Home
By Heather Sutton
Hurricane Harvey has devastated the southern counties and coast of Texas with flooding and high winds for over week now. Over 30 counties had to be evacuated and are now underwater and without power, water and other necessities.
But Hurricane Harvey hits close to home for one Stamford family. Melissa Velasquez just happened to be in Taft, Texas, when they evacuated the town. Her cousin's children had just days before had a funeral for their father and were now being evacuated because of the hurricane. So naturally, Melissa stepped up and brought them home to Stamford with her. Not only did Melissa help her family but about 10 strangers as well. Most of them are gone now and have found shelter with their families elsewhere, but Ayita, Caleb, Corey, Christina and their two children, Isaiah and little Ava, hope to get home on Saturday. But for now they have a home with Melissa.
As for their family and friends still in Taft and Gregory, Texas, they have all been in communication with them and everyone is safe but they aren't completely sure about their homes. They think there is just wind damage and not flood damage. They are for now just happy with having a comfortable place to stay and trying not to stress about the mess of going they are going home to. They continually remind themselves that all that matters is that they are safe and the children are comfortable.
When asked how she was doing with all this excitement, Melissa said that she was blessed with a great church and community who jumped in to action and donated food, clothing, and paper goods to help them and keep them all comfortable and safe. When asked why she volunteered to provide a shelter for total strangers, she simply said that was what she was supposed to do and that she did what she believed was right, that God had to have put her there for a reason. Melissa also commented that with her cousin's children around her, it has helped her in return grieve the loss of her cousin, their father.
And when asked how they were feeling about all of this, naturally Ayita, Caleb, Corey and Christina said they are nervous about returning to their homes and the mess that the hurricane has left them with, no power, no running water, and the fears of if their homes have been looted or not. They also mentioned that they were concerned about their jobs and paying bills after having been off work for almost two weeks. But they say for now they are trying not to over stress and over think anything by playing Uno and eating Melissa's good food. They are just happy to be safe and have a comfortable roof over their head, and they are grateful for Melissa opening her home to them.
It is safe to say that Melissa is a wonderful, courageous person and that everyone wishes Ayita, Caleb, Corey, Christina, Isaiah, and Ava safe travels and best wishes as they return home.
Hurricane Harvey has now made its way over to parts of Louisiana and has spawned Severe Thunderstorms up into Texas as far as the Dallas-Fort Worth area leaving some residents there without power as well. And remember you are never too far away to help... So please pray for the people affected by Hurricane Harvey and help in any way you can, every little bit counts.
Jody Nix: A Western Swing TCR Staple
By Will McClure
The 87th Texas Cowboy Reunion is just around the corner with the residents of Stamford ready to welcome visitors to join them in celebrating the Texas cowboy. Over the many years of the TCR, there have been established many traditions that still continue to this day and have helped make the TCR a must-attend event. Over the many different events and guests of the TCR, one performer stands out as Jody Nix will be making his 31st straight appearance at the TCR, dating back to his first TCR event in 1986. An always-popular attraction, Nix and his band, the Texas Cowboys, have always loved returning to the TCR to perform each and every year at the place where Nix said that he really got his start after doing music on his own after performing in his father's band since he was only eight years old. Now, with the TCR approaching, Nix was able to spend a bit of time discussing the TCR and what it means to return to Stamford each year.
Nix began his career in music in 1960, joining his father, Hoyle Nix, in his band playing drums at the age of eight. He soon began playing the fiddle at the age of 11 and then began singing at 16. After 25 years of performing with his father, Nix found himself taking the lead after his father passed away in 1985. It was around that time that Leon Rausch and the Texas Panthers, who had performed for the TCR for several years prior, announced that they would no longer be performing. As the new leader of the Texas Cowboys and performing a few smaller events, Rausch suggested to Nix that he should play at the TCR. Reaching out to TCR Dance Chairperson Jim Astin, who still serves in this role, Nix and the Texas Cowboys found themselves on the schedule to perform all four nights of the 56th Texas Cowboy Reunion. Bringing a Western swing style popularized by Bob Wills in the 1930s which boasts a big band with a Western sound, Nix proved to be popular with the rodeo crowd his very first year, leading to over a decade of performing each night of the rodeo until newer acts would be brought in to perform on separate nights. However, Nix continued to be on the schedule as he would continue to come back each year.
Ever since that first year at the TCR, Nix said that it became an event that he looked forward to each year as it was one of the bigger places that helped him get his start, allowing him to grow as a performer and build a long and lasting friendship with Jim Astin over the years. When he comes to Stamford for the TCR, Nix said that it is always a great, fun atmosphere as visitors come to celebrate cowboy traditions and end the nights with good music and dancing. Although he and his band only perform one night of the rodeo, Nix said that they are always ready to perform more than one night if asked, helping to make sure that visitors have a good time and enjoy themselves. However, Nix still enjoys being able to go to the rodeo itself and enjoy the festivities with others.
Over his 32 year career on his own, Nix said that he has been able to cover a lot of ground performing all over Texas and the United States, even representing Texas in Washington, D.C. However, Nix said that he never takes anything for granted and that God had given him his talent. In addition, Nix said that it would not be possible without the hard work of the fellow members of the band, who also try to have a little fun at the same time. Nix said that he has been able to do what he loves and play music for 57 years in July when he first began with his father. With his 65th birthday this weekend on June 25th, Nix said that he sees no sign of slowing down now and is always happy to be able to play good music and receive a great response.
All in all, Nix said that it feels good to be back playing at the TCR for the 31st year in a row and is very appreciative of the warm and welcoming response from the people of Stamford each year. He ended by saying that the rodeo is always a fun time for him whether enjoying the festivities or playing the double fiddle to get people out on the dance floor. Ultimately, Jody Nix said that he and the Texas Cowboys will always continue to work hard and do what they do best, but still have some fun along the way.
Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys will be performing Friday, June 30th at 9:30 pm after the conclusion of the rodeo performance for the evening. So wear your dancing shoes and come on out for a good time and some Western swing!
Carlos Cantu: The Poet Laureate of Stamford
By Will McClure
When one wishes to share their thoughts and experiences, they have different ways in which they can do so from talking about them with others, writing in a journal, or even putting it into verse by way of poetry. For Stamford's Carlos "Charlie" Cantu, he would choose the latter, as his collection of poetry, compiled over many years with some originally written on napkins, was recently published by Clear Fork Publishing in Stamford. The collection, entitled Mesquites, is made up of different poems written about the many different experiences in Cantu's life and features verse in both English and Spanish. Although writing was merely something he did on the side while he pursued an eventual career in social work, Cantu began to write poems based on things in his life and what he had seen, writing his first poems in his 20s while working in restaurants and originally attending culinary school. Despite not writing as much as he did when he was younger, stating that the most recent poem in the collection was written in 1987 before he began the process of gathering all of his poetry together, Cantu has been able to see his work shared with the people of Stamford. With a lifetime of stories and thoughts now in the printed word, Cantu took some time to discuss his book and his life leading up to its publication.
Cantu said that he chose the name of the collection, Mesquites, as a reflection of his life and how the book is structured. He stated that the mesquite tree grows in its own path and can do anything that it wishes, going in different directions as it grows. As such, Cantu stated that the tree was a representation of his life as he moved around the state and gathered many different life experiences. Before writing his first poems on napkins, Cantu grew up in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, graduating from San Benito before moving on to study in four different colleges starting in the Brownsville Junior College before moving on to Texas A&M, Stephen F. Austin and finally University of Texas in Panhandle. It was also during this time in which Cantu traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to work as a cook and a waiter where he would also begin writing his poetry. He would then teach English as a Second Language for three years before accepting a position with the Texas Department of Human Services in 1973.
Over the next 15 years, Cantu would work with Child Protective Services all around Texas working as a hearing officer, personnel officer, and later daycare services. His work would eventually lead him to Abilene where he would work to recruit Hispanics to work in the Abilene area. He would move back to Austin to work in the cheese and butter program, earning the nickname "Carlos Queso" or "Charlie Cheese" before returning to Abilene as a personnel officer. After going to San Angelo and then back to Abilene in 1990, Cantu retired from the state in 1998 and began working in Stamford at Stamford Residence and Rehab, then known as Teakwood, as a contract social worker. There, he would meet his future wife of now 17 years, Caron, who worked as a nurse at the time.
When discussing the collection, Cantu said that the structure represents the mesquite tree and the poems are placed in no real order or groups, allowing the reader to focus on each poem as its own entity in contrast to it falling into a certain category. Many of his inspirations for the poems came from his life experiences, such as the poem entitled "Return to A.C." which reflects on his time in Atlantic City and how much it had changed since his time there to a simple interpretation of looking at a neon light on a foggy night in "Foggy Nights." The poems range from thought-provoking, sorrowful verse to humorous tones that would appeal to any reader. In choosing to write in both English and Spanish within the same poem, Cantu said that he did this in order to appeal to the English and Spanish readers while at the same time leaving enough context within the lines to be able to translate the words.
After amassing a large collection of poetry by 1987, Cantu decided that he wanted to print the book by taking his work to a printing company to print the book himself without a formal publisher. It was not until he met Clear Fork Publishing owner Callie Metler-Smith, who was giving a speech about publishing during an Abilene seminar, that he was able to get the book formally published. Although changes were made from the original printed book, Mesquites still represents who Carlos Cantu is as he sees his work spread to a wider audience. Cantu said that while he did not know if there would be any interest in his work, he is happy to see his poetry published where it can connect with the reader. Ultimately, Cantu said that it is not about the money, but rather getting that connection with the reader on a deeper level, stating that if just one person reads and relates to the printed verses, then the collection would be a success.
Congratulations to Mr. Carlos Cantu on the publication of Mesquites! Copies of this collection of thought-provoking poetry are available at Noteworthy bookstore in Stamford as well as online at clearforkpublishing.com
Former Bulldog to be Honored at Final Baseball Home Game
By Will McClure
With the Stamford Bulldog baseball regular season quickly winding down, the Bulldogs prepare to play their last home game of the season against Hawley on Tuesday, April 18th. However, before the first pitch, the Bulldogs will take the time to honor former Bulldog Eric Alvarez as his jersey number will formally be retired along with the installation of a sign on the outfield wall. Alvarez served a major role in the early years of Bulldog baseball for all four years of his high school career from 1995 to 1998 before moving on to play for Hardin-Simmons University, and then become a baseball coach himself before he tragically lost his life in November 2005. With his number having been unofficially retired for several years and after discussion that lasted for a few years between current baseball head coach Jeremy West and former coach Lannie Templeton, the time was right to honor Alvarez.
Coach West stated that this honor had been something that has been talked about since Wendeborn Field had been renovated, with both West and Templeton wanting something permanent to be added to the field to recognize Alvarez. Informally, West said that he and Templeton before him had simply not used Alvarez's #15. Templeton even said that when he would order jerseys, he never order the #15 and, when he received the number accidentally one year, quickly put it aside to maintain the informal retiring of the number.
A multi-sport athlete, Alvarez spent all four years of his high school career playing baseball under Coach Templeton, who will formally make the presentation to Alvarez's family on the 18th, where Alvarez played shortstop and pitched and became an integral part in the first baseball district titles for the program.
While he displayed his passion for baseball, Alvarez was also an exceptional tennis player, moving back and forth between the sports. However, he would always come back to baseball, a sport that he expressed his desire to coach one day.
"He loved the game," Templeton said. "He would practice when everyone had gone home and always wanted to be a coach...One thing that sticks out in my mind was how meticulous he was with his equipment. He was always very well dressed and mannered. He was very quiet, not really outspoken, a lot of his actions were those on the field." Alvarez's attitude towards the game was always positive and, when he got his opportunity to coach in Rotan, he would be well respected by his fellow coaches and his players where he stressed the fundamentals, never being "flashy" about the game, but always getting his point across. West stated that he had the opportunity to coach against him and got to know him when Alvarez was in Rotan in 2003, seeing him on a different level as he guided his players.
After a successful high school career, Alvarez moved on to play for Hardin-Simmons University, where he graduated in 2004 while also working for Rotan in 2003 where he would be the head baseball coach, head junior high football coach, junior high girls' basketball coach and assistant high school football coach. Even though he had achieved his dream of becoming a baseball coach, fate would have other plans as on November 6, 2005, Eric Alvarez would pass away after an automobile accident in Runnels County. Templeton said that he still remembers the day when he received the news of Alvarez's passing.
"I was in the deer blind when I got the phone call and immediately left and came back," Templeton said. "I had talked to him that week and he was telling me he was going to San Angelo to get some equipment for the upcoming year." Templeton went on to say that it is always tough to lose a young man like him and that Alvarez was someone that he admired in his passion to be a coach and that he was an all-around good kid that his teammates admired and was a pleasure to coach on the field.
Now, on Tuesday, April 18th, Eric Alvarez will take his rightful and permanent place at Wendeborn Field with the unveiling of a permanent memorial on the outfield wall and the official retiring of the #15. With his family in attendance to receive the honor on his behalf, Eric Alvarez will now be forever remembered every time a Stamford Bulldog takes the field.
Faces of our Community: Allana Hicks
By Teresa Barbian
There are many things that are a big part of our community that we may not be aware of. Take for example Allana Hicks FNP-C. Those in Stamford are familiar with this name. She spent many years in Stamford but moved to the Anson Family Wellness Clinic in November 2014. With her stylish matching vest and boots, she sat down with me and talked about herself and what the Anson Family Wellness Center (AFWC) means to our community.
Allana grew up, “All over the place.” Her father was a Baptist preacher so they moved around a lot when she was younger. She has been married to Charley Hicks for 28 years. They have a large family, with six children, 14 grandchildren, and 4 greatgrandchildren. And as you guessed, she loves spending time with her family when she’s not seeing patients. She also loves to color (this is actually a stress reliever for some). Allana received her Nursing degree from Hardin Simmons University and her Graduate Nurse Practitioner degree from Abilene Christian University. She said that when she was in the Graduate program at ACU, there were no other women in the program. Allana always knew she wanted to be a nurse and she says that it is not about the money, but about people.
“This is not just a job, it’s a relationship,” is how Allana describes her work. She really loves helping people feel better or getting them to someone who can help them. Dr. Michael Hart was her first supervising physician and then she worked with Dr. Neil Gibson. Both supported her to help her become who she is today. She told me, “Dr. Gibson has been amazingly kind and guiding.” Dr. Gibson was one of the people who encouraged her to bring her practice to Anson. She said, “The opportunity was something I couldn’t turn down.” The staff at AFWC has always made her feel welcome. She describes AFWC as having a very homey feel with kind, caring staff. She said that AFWC is no different than any other clinic when it comes to meeting the needs of everyone who comes in. There are varying levels of economic status in our community and there are those who don’t have health insurance that use the clinic. She told me one of the challenging parts of her job is arranging access to care for those without health insurance. The AFWC offers quality care, and they look at individual situations such as family, financial, and chronic health issues when patients come in. Allana said that the clinic cares for the whole patient and that AFWC does more than any other clinic she’s worked in when it comes to follow-up care for their patients.
Allana had lots of positive things she would tell someone who was considering whether to use the services of the AFWC. She talked about the continuity of care, the quality of the care, and the follow up with her patients. She told me that she gives individual treatment to her patients. “If you are my patient, we’re a team and I’m not your boss. Patients have a say about their care.” Wow, what a concept. Imagine having a medical professional actually listen to you, but that’s what you get when you are one of Allana’s patients. There are not many medical professionals around our area that choose to involve you, as the patient, in decisions about your health. She also wants to assure the community that there are people here that will care for you. As for the future of AFWC, Allana states that the AFWC will be a stable facility in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. So whether you are new to the area or are looking to change physicians, take a gamble on Allana Hicks FNP-C. I guarantee you’ll come out a winner.
Council Discusses Social Media Decorum
By Teresa Barbian
The Anson City Council met for a special called meeting on Monday, February 6, 2017 at the Anson Public Library. There were three items on the agenda. The first agenda item was to discuss and take action on a complaint against a city employee and deliberate the employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of an employee, namely the Chief of Police. The council chose to go into executive session as pursuant to Texas government code 551.074. When the council reconvened, they stated that there would be no action at this time since no formal written complaint was received. Sources said that the complaint in question was one that was presented in a citizen presentation to the council in a prior council meeting.
The next agenda item was to discuss recent resignations of members of the Anson Police Department. Officer Caleb Hodges is resigning effective February 15th. Officer David Sanchez also put in his resignation but indicated that he is actively pursuing other employment and that he would stay until another officer was hired or he gains other employment. Chief Moore indicated that there has been a job posting on the TML website since December, but they have received no inquiries for the position. Chief Moore also said that it is hard to get officers to come to Anson because, “Anson is not a glamorous place to work” and that the pay for a police officer is not great. Moore also stated, “When you don’t have the support of council, it demoralizes the officers.” No action was taken because this issue was only brought to the council to gather ideas on how to recruit new officers.
The last agenda item was to discuss and take action on a resolution setting guidelines for decorum of city council members and mayor in use of social media. Resolution #020617 indicates in part, “The Mayor and City Council agree to not speak negatively regarding any public employee or Council Member or Mayor through social media and other forms of public communication. It is not the desire of the Mayor and the City Council to create a public forum for the demeaning of any individual or group. Neither is it the intention of the Mayor and City Council to insult the honesty and/or integrity of any city employee, the City Council as a body, or any member or members of the City Council, individually or collectively. Accordingly, any insulting language, or language that is otherwise negatively directed toward an employee of the City or members of the City Council is discouraged.” This resolution is essentially a pledge for each council member to sign.
A heated discussion between the Chief of Police and Councilwoman Jeannie Free ensued over whether or not the Facebook pages from Free’s Facebook account, that were presented to the council, made disparaging remarks against members of the Anson Police Department. The council was also presented a letter from Officer Michael Prado from the Anson Police Department, which he wrote to his supervisor Chief David Moore, accusing Free and Councilwoman Linda Powell of creating a hostile work environment and the comments (that were made on Facebook) that they made were offensive and degrading. He also accused Katy Moncrief, a dispatcher for the Jones County Sheriff’s Office and girlfriend of Mayor Sara Alfaro of also making disparaging comments about him. One of Free’s comments on her Facebook page stated, “I’m sitting in my driveway!!!! I swear I smell bacon!!!” and “Must have been a pig in heat!” Prado stated in his letter that he lives three houses north of Free and that these terms commonly refer to police officers. Free stated that others have taken her comments out of context. “We should all refrain from throwing stones,” said Councilwoman Evelyn Edwards and Mayor Sara Alfaro stated, “We should be grown-ups and move on.” Councilman Keith Gilbert moved to approve resolution #020617 and Evelyn Edward seconded the motion. All the other council members and the Mayor agreed to the resolution except Councilwoman Jeannie Free who voted “No”. The council meeting was then adjourned.
An Ideal of Oneness
Boards from Stamford Hospital District, Haskell Hospital District, and Stonewall Hospital District gathered at the Haskell Memorial Hospital Educational Building on Thursday, February 3rd at 6:00pm. Fran McCown, the Haskell Hospital CEO, opened the meeting stressing that this meeting is the result of two years of planning and input and advice from almost three dozen healthcare leaders.
Stamford CEO Rick DeFoore provided the opening remarks for the presentation saying that the current rural hospital as the foundation of local healthcare was an excellent model when Medicare was created in the 1965, but now it has become the horse and buggy of healthcare. He went on to state that it is getting harder and harder to have enough hospital inpatients to keep any rural hospital afloat, which is the lifeblood of the rural hospital. He also said that in his 35 years in healthcare he had seen the closure of 3 other rural hospitals in Cisco, Baird, and Albany, and all were due to their proximity to other hospitals. He outlined that 80 U.S. rural hospitals have closed since 2010, 13 of them were in Texas. He said that discussions between these three hospitals started in early 2015, with talks of a possibility to move towards a collaborative solution.
Doug Hawthorne, the former CEO of Texas Health Resources and member of the LRC Advisors consulting group, next came to talk. He stressed that tonight was ACT 1 of a play of new beginnings for this region as far as Healthcare and that the board members that were present were the players. He stressed that the timing was important, because none of the hospitals involved were failing; they were all in equal places as far as income and struggles. “The time to act,” he said, “is when the hospital is strong and has the flexibility to make needed changes.”
Dave Ashworth, also with LRC Advisors, spoke next stating that all of the hospitals agreed that a “last man standing approach” was not the right approach to the situations. Dave quoted a Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals study that stated if rural hospitals in Texas “cut all of our salaries to zero and everyone worked for free, they would still be operating at a deficit.” He said that according to recent data, 70% of Medicare patients receiving inpatient healthcare from this area were getting that care from another hospital outside of this service area.
He suggested to the board members that a joint operating agreement could serve as a platform for collaboration between the hospital districts involved. This agreement would not require the transfer of title between the districts and that each hospital district would retain their own separate hospital board, hospital license and designations. The debt, if any, of each district would remain with that district as would the control of the tax rate and use of tax dollars.
Numerous governance issues and options were discussed including the size and composition of the TMHN Board. One option that was described included a new board to be created under the name Texas Midwest Healthcare Network that would consist of 9 members. Two board members from each hospital board and one board member from each community at large. TMHN’s CEO hired by the TMHN Board and TMHN’s Medical Director would oversee the Network operations.
Josh Weaver, a lawyer with Weaver, Johnstone & Nelson, outlined key legal aspects of the proposed arrangements stating that Texas law appears to support the formation and operation of TMHN. After the presentation, the suggestion was made that each hospital board take the issue back to their individual board meetings in February to further study the possibility of this collaboration agreement.
Stamford Hospital District will have their next board meeting on February 21, at 8:00am in the Faye Kelly Board Room.
Fareed Hassen: A Man of Many Hats
By Will McClure
If one were to visit the Stamford square during a weekday morning, they would be greeted with a smile and a wave from a familiar face to Stamford residents for the last 60 years who has gone above and beyond in his commitment to the Stamford community. This gentleman is none other than Fareed Hassen during his daily two-mile walk and prayer time, something that he has done every day, missing only three days, since having heart surgery 31 years ago, crediting his daily ritual as keeping him humble and moving each day. Not content with having only one job, Hassen has been a part of many Stamford committees and has filled many different roles over the last 60 years, really becoming a man of many hats.
Hassen was born in Stamford in 1930 and was raised here until his junior year of high school when he moved to Seminole, Oklahoma, graduating from Seminole High School and later graduating from Oklahoma University with a degree in Architecture in 1955. Shortly after graduation, Hassen moved back to Stamford in 1956 to take over his family's business shortly after the passing of his father. It would not be long before Hassen would start becoming involved in many other projects in the Stamford community, becoming a member of the Stamford Rotary Club and the Stamford Service Unit of the Salvation Army.
"I first got involved with the Salvation Army after Bob Estes, a former scout leader of mine, secured a position with the Army and asked me to help with the local unit," Hassen said. Although he admitted that he did not know much about the organization at first, he has grown to become an integral part of the Salvation Army, including raising an average of $7,000 a year for the last 12 years through the Red Kettle campaign during the holiday season.
In 1968 during a trip to Lebanon, Hassen met and married his wife, Insaf, in Beruit, on September 28. Upon returning home to Stamford, the Hassens would continue to show their support and care to the community of Stamford. They also opened their home to Fareed's sister and her children while her husband was deployed to Vietnam. The Hassens would later welcome their daughter, Amal, to the world in 1980, the same year in which Fareed would be named Man of the Year by the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, an honor he would receive again in 1989.
Among his many accomplishments and involvements, Hassen has been a part of the Stamford Jaycees, United Way, VIP Center Board, and Chamber of Commerce. Hassen has also been a part of the Texas Cowboy Reunion for over 20 years and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the West Texas Rehabilitation Center for over 25 years, serving as the Finance Director as well. In addition to his many involvements, Hassen also served on the Stamford ISD School Board and Stamford City Council, being named Mayor Pro Tem during his time on the city council. Due to his efforts to propose and set up elections for the 1/2 cent sales tax, he was instrumental in helping create the Economic Development Corporation, which he still runs to this day.
Even with all of his involvements and accomplishments along the way, life still found a way to test Hassen's spirit when over 30 years ago, he was required to go under the knife to undergo heart surgery with five bypasses and had 13 stents put in. Since then, Hassen has worked to live an active life that includes his daily two-mile walk and prayer time. In 2015 his loving wife Insaf passed away after 47 years of marriage. Hassen said that he gives praise for the beautiful life that they had together, stating that after only being married for a year, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and was given only six months to live. However, the Hassens would overcome the diagnosis through faith, hope and love.
"Insaf was a private person, but always thought of the other person and was not all about herself," Fareed said. "She loved people and they were always welcomed in our home. We always appreciated how blessed we were. It was her request that I not sit and grieve, but that I continue to have faith and live my life. She is in a better place today, and I hope to be with her when I can finish what God has planned for me."
Hassen has continued to follow Insaf's request every day with his daily walk and time of personal reflection. Hassen takes with him a prayer list that is five pages long, stopping along the way to say a prayer for the many people that he has met and helped in some way during his 55 minute walk. Hassen always puts his best foot forward as he greets every person with a smile and a kind word as he continues to do his part for the Stamford community even at the age of 86. Hassen said that in his actions, he tries to focus on God's love and be patient and listen to what He would have him do instead on depending on himself. Fareed Hassen says that his desire every day is to do something to help someone's life, and there is no doubt that he has and will continue to do what he can to help the people of Stamford.
An Outlaw in Anson?
Is there an outlaw in Anson? You bet there is, Outlaw Cleaners is here. Instead of wasting your money and time by driving to Abilene to drop off your laundry, then going back to Abilene the next day to pick it up, just drop it off at Outlaw Cleaners. They are located inside the Anson Antiques & Gifts store. If you get that laundry in by 10 am, you can pick it up the next day by 10:30 am. Larry and Linda White wanted to diversify their store and truly be a community home town business. Outlaw Cleaners inside the antique store is a substation/satellite location. The main store for Outlaw Cleaners is located in Clyde and that’s where your items are laundered. Prices range from $3.30 and up. They have special pricing for uniforms (military, police, and fire). They are a full service laundry. So if you have any shirts, slacks, suits, jeans, or maybe you’d like to get your great grandmother’s quilt cleaned, drive the one to five minutes over to Anson Antiques & Gifts and drop those items off. Then take that money you saved in gas by NOT driving to Abilene and treat yourself to a nice warm pastry or a delicious Blue Bell ice cream cone that can be picked up just a few steps away from Outlaw Cleaners in Anson Antiques & Gifts. Stop in and check them out, they are offering a 20% discount on your first visit through the end of February.
Former Bulldog Head Coach to be Inducted to Hall of Fame
By Will McClure
On January 18th, the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame announced its inductees for the 2017 Hall of Fame class, with the formal ceremony taking place Monday, May 1st at the Abilene Convention Center. Among the seven individuals in line for this prestigious honor is a name that is familiar to the citizens of Stamford in former SHS head coach Larry Wartes. Wartes is currently one of three Stamford head coaches to have led the Bulldogs to a State championship along with Gordon Wood, whom he coached under, and Wayne Hutchinson, and will be the third Stamford head coach to be inducted to the Hall of Fame after Wood and Bill Anderson. With his posthumous induction a few short months away, we take the time to look back on the life and career of former Stamford coach Larry Wartes.
Born August 30, 1929 to W.O. and Audley Wartes, Larry Wartes had a lifelong love of sports. After his family moved to Amarillo when he was 12, Wartes would eventually join the Maverick Boys Club in 1943 and attend Amarillo High School where he played basketball and led his team to state tournaments in 1946 and 1947. Wartes received a basketball scholarship from Hardin-Simmons University where he played on the baseball team as well. It was there that he met his wife, Lera Joyce Hale, whom his married on March 22, 1951 at Calvary Baptist Church in Lubbock. Shortly after graduating from Hardin-Simmons, Wartes began his coaching career in 1951 in Meadow, TX. Wartes then made the move in 1955 to Stamford to become head basketball coach and assistant football coach under Coach Gordon Wood.
"I could tell he had a winning attitude the first time I met him," said Wood in his autobiography, Coach of the Century. "That was when I interviewed him in my office during the summer of '55...During the '54-'55 school year, Wartes coached at Stanton, Texas, but he was looking for something better. After we talked, I was so impressed I insisted he meet with L.W. Johnson, Stamford's superintendent. Superintendent Johnson was similarly affected by the young coach's credentials and charismatic personality. He gave me his blessing to hire Wartes." Although Wartes impressed both Coach Wood and Superintendent Johnson, he was hesitant to commit to Stamford at first for two reasons, one of which concerned his status as head basketball coach.
Wartes knew that Wood loved basketball and had coached the team to three district championships, leading other coaches to warn him that Wood would constantly interfere. Coach Wood assured him that he would let Wartes coach in his own style. Wartes was also concerned with the salary offered by Stamford, which would be $200 less than he would have received from Hamlin. Wood told him that if he were only in coaching for the money, then he would need to quit coaching, telling him that money should be the least important thing on his mind but he'd rather he measure how happy he would be by the team's chances of winning. After Wartes said that he would take a couple of days to think about it and left to return to his home in Abilene, he only made it to Anson before calling Wood to accept the job. Coach Wood commented that hiring Wartes was one of the finest decisions that he had ever made, saying that Wartes made him a better coach.
Wartes' first year at Stamford proved to be a historic one for the Bulldogs as they would go undefeated that season to clinch their first State championship, followed by a second the next year. Wartes would help continue the Bulldogs' success on the basketball court with two more district championships, with the Bulldogs only losing one district game in the 1955 season. After three years as assistant coach, Wartes ended up taking over for Coach Wood who left at the end of the 1957 season, but would not disappoint in his very first season, going 13-1-1 to capture Stamford's third state championship in four years, repeating the feat in 1959 for Stamford's fourth and last State championship for over 50 years.
Wartes kept his optimistic attitude throughout the rest of his tenure at Stamford, asking for the support and encouragement from the community for the team. In 1963, before their season-opener against Quanah, Wartes said, "Don't criticize the boys. Any mistakes they make are human. If you want to criticize anyone, criticize the coaches. They get paid to take it...Criticism hurts the boys. They put in long hours working out and put their whole heart into the game." Wartes' leadership would help the Bulldogs earn two more District and Bi-District titles along with a Regional Championship in 1964 before he would leave Stamford after the 1966 season.
After Stamford, Wartes moved to Hereford, TX in 1967 to take over as athletic director and head football coach, soon becoming assistant superintendent in 1971 and holding the position until his retirement in 1988 with a football coaching record of 97-47-4. Wartes was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Honor in 1975 as well as the Hardin-Simmons University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
Outside of coaching, Wartes served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and on other church committees for First Baptist Church in Hereford for more than 40 years, maintaining his friendly, optimistic, and charismatic personality no matter who he met. Coach Larry Wartes passed away at the age of 80 on September 1, 2009 in Hereford.
And so, with over 20 years as a coach, Coach Larry Wartes let his love of sports shine during his 11 years at Stamford, seeing the Bulldogs to four State championships as an assistant coach as well as a head coach. Even though Coach Wartes is no longer with us, his impact on the Bulldog program will never be forgotten as he joins his fellow coaches Gordon Wood and Bill Anderson as he takes his rightful place as part of the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Editor's Note: A special "thank you" goes to Sandra Rhea and the Stamford Cowboy Country Museum for help in the gathering some of the information for this story.
City to Outsource EMS
By Teresa Barbian
The Anson City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 23, 2014 at the Anson City Library. Mayor Sara Alfaro called the meeting to order and Councilwoman Jeannie Free led with an opening prayer. The council approved the minutes from the January 9th public hearing and council meeting and then approved the minutes from the January 17th budget workshop meeting. There were no citizen presentations.
Next, the court approved the sale of the following trust properties; R21444 in the amount of $5500, R26962 in the amount of $600, and R13931 in the amount of $150. The council rejected the sale of trust property R28668 in the amount of $101. The council made a motion to table the sale of trust property R19565 in the amount of $904 until further investigation into whether the waterway that is located near the property is included. The City does not want to sell the waterway.
The next item on the agenda was to discuss and take action on passing a resolution that creates a policy for issuing technological equipment to employees, council persons, and the mayor, and a form to sign when such equipment is issued. City Attorney Chad Cowan presented a contract for the council to use, but after much discussion, many changes were made to this contract and the contract would only be for council members because there is already a policy in the employee handbook for city employees. Anyone interested in viewing this policy can contact City Hall.
Next on the agenda was a discussion of terms of contract with the Anson Golf Course Association and rules of use of the park. The council decided to approve the addition of requiring the golf course to post signs in the clubhouse stating ‘No Underage Drinking Allowed.’ The golf course association will have to decide if they want to add this rule to their lease (which has expired). Next, discuss and take action on Resolution 012317. This resolution is regarding a Texas Capital Fund Grant. This is the beginning phase of a obtaining a business grant of around $700,000 for the Star Dodge Dealership that is moving to Anson. Grantworks will administer the grant and Jacob and Martin will be the engineers for the grant. The council approved this resolution.
The next agenda item was to discuss the City of Anson’s Street Maintenance Fund Tax. Councilwoman Linda Powell wanted to know what the plan was for this tax since the taxpayers voted to change the allocation of the amount deposited into the fund. City Manager Sonny Campbell explained, that no plan has been voted on by the council yet and that this fund had to accumulate before a plan is submitted to the council for approval. Since the voters decided to change the allocated amount from the sales tax for this fund during the November election, the projected total amount for 2017 is around $100,000. Before the election, only about $38,000 annually went into this fund. This fund can only be used for street maintenance and nothing else. He also indicated that the plan is to possibly get a TAN Loan once the fund has accumulated in order to address road issues such as drainage and water lines in the middle of the streets. Once these issues are addressed, the City can concentrate on repairing the streets. But all this is speculation for now since the funds have not accumulated yet. No action was taken. Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on the Racial Profiling report from the police department. This is a report that the council has to approve before it can be submitted to the State. There was a total of 1545 motor vehicle stops for 2016. The breakdown of ethnicity was as follows; 88 African American, 9 Asian, 1064 Caucasian, 378 Hispanic, 3 Middle Eastern, and 3 Native American. Out of the 1545 stops, the race/ethnicity of 23 stops was known prior to the stop. This report was approved by the council.
The next agenda item was the City Manager Report. The City has decided to outsource their EMS to Stamford EMS. This does not mean that there will be no ambulance service in Anson, it means that Stamford EMS will use the facility and ambulances belonging to the city to provide service for Anson. This deal is still in the early stages, but the City Manager stated that the City will pay Stamford EMS $3000 per month to provide EMS services for Anson. No formal action by the Stamford EMS Board has been taken yet. Stamford EMS will have to present the contract to the City Council for approval. The City will save approximately $164,000 per year to keep the ambulance service in Anson. No action was taken.
Next the City Manager discussed adding a clean-clause to trust property tax deeds. The clause would indicate that once the trust properties are sold, the new property owners have six months to clean the property per code enforcement rules or the property will revert back to the City. This item was approved.
The City Manager then discussed setting a date for the next Budget Workshop meeting. The Council decided to schedule this meeting for Monday, January 30, 2017 at 6 PM. They did not indicate the location, so if you would like to attend, please call City Hall @ 325-823-2411.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on a complaint letter submitted to the City Manager and the Mayor. This letter was a complaint against the noise level of gallery members during council meetings. Quoting from the letter, “I am not signing this letter as I fear retribution by gallery members and council members”. Councilwoman Linda Powell did not want the letter read during the meeting because it was not signed, but Councilwoman Evelyn Edwards wanted it read because of the ‘overall’ message of the letter. The letter was not read.
Since the letter was made public during the meeting, the American was able to obtain a copy of this letter. The letter talks about side conversations and comments that are happening during the meetings and the unprofessionalism of the council to allow it to go on. The letter described the meetings as a “circus” and that people are turned off to these meetings because of it. The letter also has an accusatory tone of council members making decisions for the entire community based on the opinions of a “few city employees”. Mayor Sara Alfaro told the council and the gallery that she would be enacting a “Call to Order” if noise levels happen during future meetings and if the noise level continues that members of the gallery would be asked to leave.
No further action was taken. The council approved to pay the bills and the meeting was adjourned.
Robots, Activate: A Look at the SHS Robotics Program
By Will McClure
Stamford High School has had a long tradition of students achieving success in many areas. Whether it be in athletics, FFA, FCCLA or UIL academics, the students have been able to meet and succeed in whatever challenge is presented to them. One of these new challenges that students have not only succeeded in, but have had a lot of fun learning in is the new robotics class offered by SHS and taught by Debbie Birdsong. Now in its second year in existence, the SHS Robotics class has allowed students to be more hands-on with their work as they work with science, technology and engineering skills to solve problems as well as create inventions for competition. Recently, Stamford Robotics students Nikki Bhakta, a sophomore, and Bry Birdsong, a senior, competed in the Area Robotics Invention competition in Clyde, taking home second place for their project and advancing to the State competition in May. As the students worked on their robotics projects, Mrs. Birdsong, along with students Nikki and Bry, were able to talk about the class as a whole and how the program has allowed students to show their creativity with hands-on applications.
With the budget allowing for the class, the Stamford Robotics program began during the 2015-16 school year when the school was able to purchase Lego Robotics kits for the class and allow the students something new and interesting to add to their class schedule. Debbie Birdsong said that the class began by going over some programs for the class groups to build exactly according to specific guidelines. However, once students have going the hang of building, programming and sometimes controlling their robots, they are given the freedom to design their own builds to solve a particular problem. An example of which that the students would be working on this week was to build and program their robot to move small cylinders to a specific area of an “arena,” giving them some instruction along the way, but would ultimately not instruct them on what exactly to do to achieve the desired goal.
“Part of [the early classes] was just me learning not to jump in and try to take over or influence too much,” Birdsong said, “allowing them to come up with their own ideas. It’s more of a student-centered class, but every once in a while, I’ll give them a little ‘what if you did this?’ or ‘why don’t you try this?’ and then back away.” Birdsong went on to state that by allowing the students to work on their own, they are able to find their strengths and weaknesses within the group, with some being better at the building aspect of the robot while others are more suited to the programming aspect, providing a good harmony among the groups. While all groups may not be at the same level, they are able to work together to solve the problems while also seeing their hard work pay off.
When discussing what the class has been able to do, Birdsong said that while the teams have done well at competition, they were able to have some fun with their builds, including designing and building a robot that can kick a small ball and holding a small “tournament” in class as well as “lights out” robots that function with glow-in-the-dark tape and even robots that react to one another. While the classes have had fun with their builds, the skills they have learned have helped them prepare for competition in both Arena, where they must complete a scenario in a specific time, and Invention, where students create, build and “pitch” an invention in competition, with Nikki Bhakta and Bry Birdsong taking second place after only three weeks of preparation.
Originally planning to participate in the Arena competition, Bhakta and Birdsong came up with their idea of a car seat heat monitor. After researching what would be considered too hot for a baby, the students designed a monitor that would sense when a child was buckled in and would set off an alarm when the surroundings got too hot, helping prevent heat stroke in the process. They said that they are currently working on getting the system to tie into phones as well as coming up with a price range, a requirement for the presentation. Birdsong said that they were coming up with a list of teachers that had children with the goal of getting feedback to try and find the ideal price while also hoping to talk to insurance agents in town to see if it could be something that can be covered or provide a deduction on insurance premiums.
When talking about the competition, Bhakta and Birdsong said that it was a bit of a rush to get everything together after listening to the news and wanting to try out inventions. Birdsong said that “there were four teams [at competition] and it was really cool because, even though we didn’t get to see them present, there were a bunch of different things like a drone picking up a softball…it was such a broad spectrum of problems, so it was really kind of neat to look at.” They went on to say that they received a lot of feedback from the judges that helped them move forward with their project along with sharpening up their presentation, which they had little time to prepare for, but was ultimately very informative and helpful for the State level.
Looking at the program altogether, Debbie Birdsong said that she hopes to see the program expand in the future, incorporating other areas such as Ag to bring the different personalities together, and she would love to work with the lower grade levels and possibly offer a “camp” during the summer for the younger students to experience the program. Birdsong ended by stating that although the program is growing, Stamford is one of the few schools in the area to offer this new opportunity, which has translated to students gaining new skills as well as having a lot of fun along the way.
Stamford Loses an Icon
By Callie Metler-Smith
Chances are if you were born in Stamford you were delivered by Dr. Tony Selmon. In fact you would be hard pressed to find anyone over 35 that lived in Stamford that wasn't seen at one time by Dr. Selmon in his 36 years as a General Practitioner and OB/GYN doctor. Stamford suffered a great loss to the community Monday, January 16, when Dr. Selmon passed away at the local hospital that he worked at for so long.
Tony Selmon was born to John and Emma Selmon on February 1, 1917 in Spur, Texas. His father, “Scandelous" John, was a career cowboy who started out as a ranch hand on the Spur Ranch. When the Swenson Brothers bought the ranch he was working on, he just stayed on with them and in 1919 he moved with his wife and two-year-old Tony out to the old headquarters located on the Flat Top Ranch. Thus began young Tony's induction to the cowboy way and he remembers fondly his dad loading into his model T a black with white face Shetland pony he named "Jug" to serve as Tony's first introduction to horses.
When he got old enough he started to school at Tuxedo, and the next year his parents got a small apartment in Stamford so he could start 2nd grade in town. The family lived in town during the week, but many weekends were spent out at the ranch home about 12 miles outside of town. Selmon enjoyed school and played football, injuring his left knee one of the years he played. Stamford High School only went to the 11th grade then, and he graduated from school in 1935.
From that point he did a little of everything, working with his father on the ranch and then moving to Burkburnett where he dug ditches for the gas company there. Less than a year after moving there though, he moved back to the ranch and worked as a ranch hand until he entered commercial college in Ft Worth and studied bookkeeping. After completing the course, he was hired at Hardey Motor Company, which was located right off the east side of the square in Stamford.
About this time, Selmon began courting his wife, Maxine Roland. She was going to school to be a teacher, and one day he picked up her psychology textbook and became interested in it. He decided he wanted to be a psychiatrist, but in order to do that he would have to get his medical degree. He enrolled in Texas Tech's pre-med program and after graduation was accepted to Galveston's medical school where he acheived his medical degree.
He hadn't been in medical school very long when after a long day of studying, he turned on the radio to hear of the bombing of a place called Pearl Harbor. He remarked that he had never heard of Pearl Harbor before that date, but it was not a place he would soon forget.
Selmon enlisted in the United States Navy, but was allowed to finish medical school. He graduated in 1944 and was sent to a Naval hospital in San Diego to do his internship. The San Diego hospital was huge having at any one time more than 10,000 patients. Wounded or sick soldiers, both Navy and Army, were brought in by the shiploads to this hospital.
After completion of his internship, he was sent to Washington where he was tapped to go to China. While he was awaiting orders, he was reassigned to San Fransico where he worked on one of two barracks barges. These barracks barges were about the length of a football field and three stories tall. Tugboats would pull them to provide support for ships. Selmon relates that his barge was pulled by tug boat from San Fransico to Pearl Harbor. He said the boat moved around 4 miles an hour, and it took them 2 weeks to get there. By the time he reached Pearl Harbor in 1945 the war in Europe was over.
After staying in Hawaii for two weeks, his unit moved on to the South Pacific and reached just east of the international dateline. He said that at night they traveled with complete darkness with ships all around them. One night all the lights were turned on and the cannon went off in celebration as the word spread that the Japanese had surrendered. Selmon stayed in the South Pacific for another 7 to 8 months. He hurt his knee again while playing tennis and was put in sick bay and moved to Hawaii and then on to Corpus Christi in 1946. He was then discharged and came back to Stamford where he joined the other practicing doctors, Dr. E.P. Bunkley and Ike Hudson. He practiced in Stamford a total of 38 years before retiring at the age of 66.
He came home to more than just a medical practice. Tony and Maxine were married on June 11, 1943 and his daughter Tee was born on January 23, 1945. His two sons John Richard and Matthew Roland were born in his next few years home.
Dr. Selmon was called back into the military in 1953 where he served again as a doctor on a Navy ship that carried troops and dependents back and forth to Japan. The round trip took around a month, and the ship carried about 2,500 people at a time. He made six trips with his ship. Following his discharge, he joined the Naval Reserves and served many years as a reservist until he retired.
After retiring from his medical practice, he enjoyed spending time with his wife and woodworking. His wife, Maxine, passed away after 68 years of marriage in 2011. Nowadays he spends his time watching a lot of TV. He says he mostly watches the news.
Tee went on to be a doctor in the Air Force, and she trained at the Mayo Clinic to be an orthopedic surgeon. When she got out of the military, she had a private practice in Wisconsin where she still lives.
John went to Texas Tech and did a lot of flying and gave flying lessons in California. He now lives in Los Angeles where he works for Boeing. He has two children.
Matthew is a cardiologist who practices in Austin. He has two boys and two girls.
A few years ago during an interview with the Stamford, Dr. Selmon reflected on his life and joked that he had delivered a lot of babies. He also said the best thing about being a doctor was helping people. He was one of the three doctors that built the Stamford Health Clinic that still stands beside the hospital today. There is no doubt that Dr. Tony Selmon has been a true asset to the town of Stamford. He died just prior to his 100th birthday.
Anson Clinic Welcomes New Doctor
We have a new doctor in Anson, Dr. James Burleson. The hospital is having a “Welcome” reception for Dr. Burleson on January 19, from 5-7 p.m. in the foyer of the Anson Family Wellness Clinic building and would like for the public to be aware. Dr. James Burleson signed an employment contract with Anson General Hospital in early December and began his practice in the Anson Family Wellness Clinic on January 3. His education began at the University of Texas in Austin where he earned a B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering. He attended the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. He completed one year of an Internal Medicine Residency and one year of a Neurology Residency before deciding to go into General Practice. Dr. Burleson has several years of experience in general medicine and has also worked in the prison system and emergency medicine. Dr. Burleson and his wife, Angela, have moved to Anson and live out west of town. They are raising their grandson, Brian, who is attending Anson Public School. Angela is from Hamlin and still has family in the area. Dr. Burleson is looking forward to serving Anson and the surrounding community. Dr. Burleson is accepting new patients in the clinic. His phone number is 325-823-3670.
Jones County Constable Resigns
By Teresa Barbian
The Jones County Commissioners Court met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, January 9, 2017. The minutes from the last regular meeting were approved and the following trust property bids were approved; R11880 in the amount of $200, R16398 in the amount of $100.00, R13931 in the amount of $101, R28668 in the amount of $101, and R15130 in the amount of $260.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on the disaster declaration and all items related regarding FEMA, TDA, and TDEM forms and requirements. Judge Dale Spurgin received additional proposed project worksheets from FEMA in regards to small projects for Precincts 2 and 3. The court approved for Spurgin to sign the worksheets if the commissioners agree with the proposed projects and return them to FEMA. The court posted notice on January 3, 2017 that they will be requesting funds from TDA for a 25% local match for disaster 4223. This notice has to be displayed for 10 days. Next on the agenda, discuss and take action on bid proposals for road material. The court received one bid from True Limestone Operations and will have crushed limestone rock for road material at $8/ton. The court approved to add this company to the list of vendors that can be used for road repairs. Next, the court approved to add to the minutes the tax assessor-collector continuing education transcript for the reporting period of 6/1/16 – 5/31/17.
Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on accepting the resignation of the Jones County Constable. Scotty Hansen, who is the current Jones County Constable, sent a letter of resignation to Judge Dale Spurgin effective February 10, 2017. Mr. Hansen has chosen to pursue a career in safety. The court accepted his resignation. Next, discuss and take action on the process for appointment of a Jones County Constable. Any vacancy by an elected official other than a commissioner is filled by the Commissioners Court until the next general election. The court approved to post for this position and accept applications or resumes for two weeks. The court will look at all applications and conduct interviews and will appoint a new Constable during the first meeting of Commissioners Court in February.
The next agenda was to discuss and take action on the treasurer’s report. The bank balance for the end of November was $5,630,610.30; outstanding checks were $167,735.94 so the ending ledger balance for November was $5,462,874.36. The County is secured with First National with $7,546,867.55, the account balance was $6,326,093.04, and therefore the county was over secured by $1,220,774.51. The court approved the treasurer’s report. The court then approved line item transfers and budget amendments and also approved to pay the bills. Next on the agenda, discuss and take action on approval on deputation of County employees. This regards all newly elected County employees. The court approved this item. Next, discuss and take action on order setting the compensation for County Auditor. The court approved to set compensation as set forth by the 2017 budget. The court then approved to set compensation for the Assistant County Auditor and the official Court Reporter as set forth by the 2017 budget.
Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on approving agenda items 26-39 in one action. The court approved all items as one and they include: bonds for elected officials, set bailiff pay, set salaries of County and Precinct officers, set salaries of employees, set special venire pay, set licensing and registration fees for Tax Agent, set travel pay for Veterans Service Officer, set judge's travel expense, set educational expense for elected officials and Veterans Service Officer, set travel expense for County Agent and Home Demonstration Agent, set jury pay, set paupers funeral expense, set expense account for juvenile board members, and approve Kash for Kids donation for distribution to the child protective board. All monies for these items were set forth by the 2017 budget.
Next on the agenda, discuss and take action on per diem rates for County employees when traveling outside the County. Rates at this time are 40.5 cents per mile and $30 per day for overnight stays for meals. The court approved to change the mileage to 0.53 cents per mile and the per diem amount to $40 per day for overnight stays. Next, discuss and take action on distribution of fire department funds. The court at this time and for 2017 will continue to use a pro-rated history for distribution. But for 2018 will be changing the distribution method based on run reports. This item was approved. The court also approved to continue with the worker’s compensation insurance for volunteer firemen outside city limits while working fires.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on an inter-local agreement with Jones County Precinct 4 and the City of Anson. No action was taken at this time, the court will re-visit this item at the next meeting. Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on a grievance committee. This committee is made up of three public members and three public alternates and is set up according to the requirements of the government code. The members will be Donald George Womack of Anson, Alice F Nichols of Anson, and Alfredo Castillo of Hamlin. The alternates will be David Allen Twillings of Abilene, James Spalding of Hamlin, and Deborah Keel of Merkel. This committee has never had to be activated, but is required by the government. The court approved this item. Next, discuss and take action for appointment of a Purchasing Agent and adopt a policy of expenditures of $750-$5000 to be approved by this purchasing agent. Anything over $5000 must be approved by the Commissioners Court. The court approved to name Judge Dale Spurgin as the purchasing agent. The meeting was then adjourned.
Last Chatter: Carolyn Smith Steps Down as Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
By Will McClure
After three years of helping the Chamber of Commerce build a stronger relationship with the businesses and community of Stamford, Executive Director Carolyn Smith celebrated her last day at the Chamber last Friday, January 6. In her time as director, Smith, along with the help and support of the chamber board, has worked to establish the Chamber's place in the Stamford community, helping to increase membership and bring more visitors to town with sponsored events. Essentially starting from scratch with no chair, computer or desk, Smith was able to help institute many changes and infuse a bit of personality over the last few years, with it becoming more than just a job for her. Now, after careful consideration and changes in her own life, Smith made the decision to step down as director to "let someone younger take over and run with it."
When asked why she made the decision to step down, Smith said while she has enjoyed and loved her time at the Chamber, she believed that it is ultimately time for someone younger with fresh ideas to take over after thinking about it for a while and even considering staying. On the same note, Smith said the decision came about after her husband's parents became ill, requiring extra care and support from Smith and her husband. However, Smith said that the Chamber would be in good hands and that the community is very capable of seeing membership increase under new director Kaitlyn Richards.
When she first began at the Chamber, Smith said that she had to learn quickly in order to really begin helping it build up. In the early days, Smith said that she received a lot of mentoring and guidance from Fareed Hassen, stating that he had the knowledge and experience to help her adapt to the new position and appreciated all of the help that he gave. Smith said that she also had people like Melinda Smith help her learn the Quickbooks program to help keep the Chamber’s finances in order and Cheyenne Bereuter help her learn the bylaws of the city of Stamford. From there, Smith knew that one of her first priorities would be to begin increasing membership for the Chamber. Having no office at the time, Smith put in the legwork by trying to go to as many businesses as she could to offer Chamber membership. Over time, Smith began to help the businesses see the value of membership, stating that she felt that this was one of her greatest accomplishments as director as she tried to establish a bond with the business and help in any way she could, telling them that they could call the Chamber at any time for support or just simple information as to who to get in touch with for a certain task.
Smith would not stop there in this relationship as she helped businesses with free advertising. Whether it was a permanent black sign on the square, a Chamber spotlight on the marquee or a complete write-up in her Chamber Chatter column for the Stamford American and Stamford Star. Smith went above and beyond to make sure to build a good relationship with local businesses and tried to put a bit of her own personality in the job, thoroughly loving what she did each and every day, ultimately not even considering it a job at the end of the day.
Along with increasing membership at the Chamber, Smith also worked with the Chamber board to help organize more events around the square to help showcase businesses but also help encourage visitors from out of town to visit Stamford. Smith said that, initially, vendors would be contacted by mail to see if they wanted to set up, but the longer she worked, the more hands-on it became to pick up the phone and call the vendors to encourage them to set up on a Saturday afternoon. Smith also said that social media had been wonderful for the Chamber to help get the word out about the events quickly and draw in more visitors to the square.
All in all, Smith said that she has enjoyed her time as Chamber Executive Director and said that she will miss greeting and talking to the public, stating that she is indeed a people person. She said that she would still continue to help with the food bank and the Baptist Church, but the time had come for someone younger with fresh ideas to take over and make the Chamber even better. Smith said that she advised her successor, Kaitlyn Richards, to get out and visit with the businesses and be personable with them, letting them know that the Chamber is ready to help with anything Chamber-related and continue to build that relationship.
Smith ended by stating that she would like to thank the board members, businesses, and community for all of their help and support as well as Fareed Hassen for his mentoring and advice. She said that she has absolutely loved the job, but it is now time to move on. Thank you for all you have done, Carolyn. You will be missed and good luck in whatever you do next!
New Mayor and Council Sworn In
By Teresa Barbian
The Anson City Council met on Monday, December 12th for their regularly scheduled meeting at the Anson Public Library. Mayor Mike Herndon called the meeting to order and Councilman Larry White led with an opening prayer. The council approved the minutes from the Special Called meeting held on November 21st, then approved the minutes from the last regular council meeting.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on a resolution designating an administration service provider and an engineering service provider for the 2017-2018 Texas CDBG Community Development Grant. The City will try to get a grant through TDA (Texas Department of Agriculture) to get new water/sewer lines. The council approved the resolution to select Grantworks as the administrator and Jacob and Martin as the Engineering service. Next on the agenda, the council approved the sale of trust property (R11144) in the amount of $700. Next, the council approved the sale of trust property (R13925) in the amount of $250.
The next agenda item was the police report. David Moore, Chief of Police, presented the Police, Animal Control, and Code Enforcement reports for November. Next on the agenda was the City Manager report. Sonny Campbell, City Manager, presented the council with a financial update. He then told the council that Anson is expecting two new businesses to move into the city. A Star Dodge full service dealership and C-4 Fuel Stop will bring in approximately 30 new jobs between both. Campbell also indicated that there is another company looking at moving to Anson, but could not go into detail at this time. Next, the council approved to pay the bills.
Sara Alfaro was then sworn in as the new Mayor of Anson by City Attorney Chad Cowan. Linda Powell and Robert Patterson were then sworn in as new Council Members by the City Attorney and took their respective spots at the table. Before beginning new business, the Mayor of Anson, Sara Alfaro presented plaques to the outgoing Mayor Mike Herndon and outgoing Councilman Larry White for their service to the City of Anson.
Next on the agenda, discuss and take action on the IDC’s (Industrial Development Corporation) approval of a $19,116.56 loan/grant to Teo Garcia for a concrete slab. The wording of this proposal was incorrect at the last council meeting when it was approved. The council approved the IDC loan/grant. Next there was a presentation from the Tommy Morris Agency. This agency is the broker for health insurance for city employees. Health insurance premiums that the City pays for their employees is increasing 17%, so options on health insurance had to be presented because the increase would put the City over the budget. The City pays 100% of the premium for its employees, and the council discussed a few options. Rather than put the cost of increase on the employee, the council approved an option which would have an out of pocket expense (deductible) of $3700 for the employee. This option allows the City to come under budget for health insurance premiums. Next on the agenda, discuss and take action on the purchase of winter coats for City employees. The council approved this purchase. Next were presentations from citizens and the meeting was adjourned.
Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs Each Take Third in Stamford Shootout Tournament
By Will McClure
Stamford High School played host to the third Stamford Shootout tournament last weekend, December 8 -10, where both the Stamford Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs played host to six other teams at a chance to take home the tournament championship and bragging rights. For the Lady Bulldogs, this would be their last games before entering District play the following week while the tournament served as the first home games of the season for the Bulldogs.
The Lady Bulldogs began pool play on Thursday, December 8 in a close 53-50 loss to Paducah, with Taylor Beeson attempting to tie the game in the final seconds with a 75 foot shot that bounced off of the rim. They would go into the second day of action with a convincing 64-17 victory over Trent, securing runner-up honors for Pool B to enter the Gold Bracket for the end of the tournament on Saturday. The Lady Bulldogs, however, would come up short in a close 68-62 overtime loss to Coleman in a rematch from earlier in the season, sending the Lady Bulldogs to the consolation game against Wylie JV. After a close back-and-forth battle with the Wylie JV Lady Bulldogs, the Stamford team was able to come away with a definitive 62-51 victory to take third place overall in the tournament.
The Bulldogs began pool play a little bit differently on Thursday with a dominating 89-43 victory over Paducah, followed by 78-55 victory over Trent on Friday to win Pool B. Going up against Hawley in the first game of the Gold Bracket, the Bulldogs could not figure out a way around the Bearcats' defense, falling in a close 50-42 loss to head to the consolation game. In a rematch over Paducah, the game would prove to be a much closer contest, coming down to the wire as Noah Horn barely beat the buzzer to take third place in the tournament with a 50-48 win over the Dragons.
After the end of the tournament, the Lady Bulldogs' overall record stands at 5-8 before heading to Albany to begin district play on December 13. They will then return home to take on the Hamlin Lady Pipers on December 16, with a tip-off time scheduled for 6:30 pm. The Bulldogs' overall record stands at 7-4 for the season with district play moving closer. They took on Eula at home on December 13 before traveling to Quanah on December 16, with a game time of 6:30 pm. They will then begin district play against Haskell on December 20, with the game set in Haskell at 8:00 pm. This game, as well as the girls' game at 6:30 pm, will be broadcast on Big Country 97.1 KVRP-FM.
Preparing for the Future: A Look at the SHS AVID Program
By Will McClure
Nearly everyone remembers the days looking forward to life after high school graduation and also finding it a bit difficult to adjust whether they go to college or the workforce. However, for some Stamford High School students, this adjustment period will be much easier thanks to Stamford ISD's AVID program. AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, was established over 35 years ago by a single teacher in San Diego, the program impacts nearly 1.5 million students in 46 states and 16 other countries where students receive instruction in college or career readiness to help prepare them for life after high school. Stamford High School AVID teacher Theasa Lefevre gave some more insight into the program at SHS where the students are able to grow not only academically, but personally as well.
When discussing the class as a whole, Lefevre said that the main core of the class is for the students to learn the skills that will help them after high school, with many skills revolving around building up their communication skills, specifically with speaking. Lefevre said this helps the students communicate in the workplace, communicate with their professors in college or even with their fellow classmates. She went on to say that the skills even go into conflict management when needing to work with disagreements with fellow coworkers, classmates, or even the general public. Even with all of these skills that will help them academically or in the workplace, it also allows the students to grow on a deeper level.
"Also with the communication, they learn about themselves," Lefevre said. "They learn whether or not they are an introvert or an extrovert. So they learn about their personality types and how they learn best so that they can either work on that or go off of what works for them."
Lefevre went on to discuss the main core of the class, which focuses on the WICOR curriculum, with everything accomplished in the class revolving around writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading. Lefevre said that the class does a lot of group work, allowing the students to interact with each other and even help hold each other accountable for their work. As part of the class, the students are required to keep an AVID binder which helps them organize their materials for each of their classes with notes, calendars for upcoming assignments, and weekly recaps on what was learned throughout the week. Lefevre said that there is a lot of time management involved to stay on top of their work as well as take notes quickly and efficiently for maximum benefits along with setting personal goals for themselves. She went on to say that a lot of the class is teaching the students to hold themselves accountable for their work, but also help each other and encourage each other to reach their goals. Lefevre said that a big part of the class is growing as an "AVID family" as the groups do a lot of team building and share a lot of personal experiences with each other. Lefevre said that the students get to learn a lot of different things in the AVID classroom that helps translate to their other classes, with each year building on the last.
"The whole idea of the college and career part is that we do a lot of investigation of what interests them and the thing with AVID is that every year is different. The freshman right now are focusing on the transition from middle school to high school and time management...then with the sophomores we start looking at how to study for the ACT and there is a lot of writing, investigating what would be the perfect college for them. The juniors kind of get more into scholarship writing and [how to] apply for colleges and when they are a senior in AVID they apply and we go through the FASFA and we talk about financial aid and we talk about living on their own. So every year kind of builds," Lefevre said. She went on to say that the program can also go down to the elementary level to start the organization process and learn what interests them early.
Along with learning in the classroom, the students are able to see the college experience first-hand with two college visits a year where the students get to visit with college students to learn about college life, see a college classroom and living on campus, and also have the opportunity to eat on campus and learn about the meal plans. In addition, Lefevre schedules guest speakers, predominantly from the Stamford area, to come visit with the AVID students to discuss their own college experiences and career choices as well as answer questions for the students. Lefevre said she tries to find guest speakers, scheduled for once a month, from around the area as the students are able to relate more to the speakers that had attended Stamford schools.
All in all, the SHS AVID students have to undertake a lot of responsibilities to succeed not only in the class, but use the skills to succeed in their other classes as well. Lefevre said that while the class is challenging for many students, with all freshmen taking it last year, the ones that returned for their second year are already seeing the benefits of the program. While the class offers an opportunity to obtain the skills that will help them in the future, ultimately it is really their decision to want to be better and improve, with the rewards being beneficial for their individual futures.
The Way He Remembers It
By Teresa Barbian
As we get older, our ability to recall memories starts to fade. But for one local storyteller, that was not the case. Eugene “Jeep” Spurgin was an amazing storyteller who sadly passed away in October of this year. His wife Donella, who preceded him in death, always said that Jeep was the only person she ever knew that could remember things three or four years before he was born. Some of his friends lovingly joked that it sometimes took him a while to tell a story. His good friends Tom Martin and Rowland Foster agreed that Jeep never met a stranger. Jeep had a very good sense of humor about life as well. From stories about his childhood to his time in the service and throughout his adulthood, Jeep could really make you chuckle when he told his stories. Linda Langford and David Langford captured his remarkable storytelling on DVD and the DVD which is titled “As I Remember It” is available at the Anson Public Library for $15. You can watch as Jeep tells how he remembers some of Anson’s history. Jeep tells about his paper route he had while in high school and the fact that he was making between $30 and $40 per month delivering papers on his bicycle (an astronomical amount back then for a teenager). He goes on to describe how he volunteered for the Army Air Corps, which today is referred to as the Air Force. He also talks about life as the City Secretary and then the City Manager and how he got his nickname, “Jeep”. There are two DVD’s, one about history in Anson and one that covers his days during WWII.
I think one of his most memorable stories he told was the one about the statue of Anson Jones that still stands at the courthouse today. Jeep insisted that he had no idea how that whiskey bottle ended up on the statue when it was un-veiled. He laughs at the time Mr. Heidenheimer chewed him out for the water leak just outside his store. He also tells about the time he was shot trying to steal a watermelon as a teenager. One thing he said he couldn’t remember was how the term “No dancing in Anson” came about because he remembers when they roped off the east side of the courthouse and they had street dancing. He also talks about the dancing at the Buttermilk Tavern which was located near where the golf course is today.
After Jeep got out of the military, he married Donella and drove the school bus every morning and afternoon. He held several positions in County and City government. Jeep held positions on boards and was involved with the Lion’s Club for 69 years. So, it’s easy to understand where he got a lot of his stories; from being involved in numerous activities. He was an avid bird hunter and talks of some of his hunting memories on the DVD. He was also an avid golfer.
If you are a history buff or just want to listen to Jeep’s impressive storytelling technique, stop by the Anson Public Library and get your copy of “As I Remember It” and hear how he remembers it.
City Council Swears in Members and Calls for Runoff Election
By Will McClure
The Stamford City Council held its regular meeting on Monday, November 21 to canvas the 2016 election, swear in a returning and new member to the council, and announce a runoff election to fill the Place 2 position which is still held by outgoing member Pam Reither until a candidate is elected. After Mayor Johnny Anders announced a quorum followed by the invocation led by Councilmember James Decker and then the Pledge of Allegiance led by Councilmember Melinda Smith, the meeting moved to open the session for citizen's comments. However, as no citizen wished to address the council at that time, the meeting moved forward with approving the results of the 2016 election.
Due to the move to electronic ballots, the canvassing process is much easier for the council to be able to see the numbers easily and approve the results. After briefly looking at the results, a motion was made to approve the results before Anders moved to recognize outgoing Councilmember Leldon Clifton, presenting him with a plaque to commemorate his years of service from 2005 to 2016. After the presentation, City Secretary Kim Bryant called forward Councilmember Melinda Smith, who was reelected over candidate Haleigh Newby for Place 1, and new member Jimmy Doan, elected over candidate Kody Whitworth, to take the Oath of Office and assume their positions on the council. Mayor Anders then moved to certify the runoff candidates for the runoff election for Place 2 on the council, currently held by Pam Reither who will maintain the position until a new member is elected.
Anders announced that candidates Ken Roberson and Rey Alvarez, having not received 50% of the votes in the general election, will meet in a runoff election to be held on December 12, with early voting to be held from December 2 to 8 and all voting to be held at City Hall during regular business hours. The council unanimously approved the 2016 runoff election between Roberson and Alvarez before also approving the minutes of the last regular meeting on November 7.
Before approving the City Holidays for 2017, which remain the same along with the inclusion of July 3, a Monday before July 4, Mayor Anders would appoint a new Mayor Pro Tem, the position also vacated by Clifton. Anders announced that Councilmember Melinda Smith would assume the role of Mayor Pro Tem, who accepted the position with her normal councilmember duties. With no other items on the agenda, Anders turned the meeting over to City Manager Alan Plumlee for his report.
Plumlee said that he did not have much to report on at that time, reiterating that City Hall will be holding early voting for the runoff election and that the doors will be open through lunch for anyone wishing to vote at that time while also stating that on December 6 and December 12, voting will be open from 7:00am to 7:00pm. He also said that City Hall would be closed for the Thanksgiving holidays on November 24 and 25, wishing everyone a good Thanksgiving holiday. Plumlee also thanked outgoing councilmember Leldon Clifton for his years of service to the council and said that he looked forward to working with new member Jimmy Doan. Plumlee finished his report by showing potential designs for the new water tower that would be built and that he could set up a tour for the council to see the water treatment plant as the city continues to work on updating the systems. With no other business to attend to, the council adjourned the meeting at 5:34pm.
Stamford High School Hosts AVID Parent Meeting
By Will McClure
Everything you always wanted to know about AVID, but were afraid to ask. This was the tagline for the AVID Parent Meeting held by Stamford High School in the Stamford ISD Media Center on Monday, November 29. Organized and presented by AVID teacher Theasa Lefevre and her AVID students from all four high school classes, the meeting was designed to give parents an idea of what their child does in the AVID classroom and how it will help prepare them to become better students in both high school and at the college level.
AVID is described as a "college and career readiness class that prepares students for their college experiences," with the students using different tools and skills learned within the class to help them throughout their high school classes and better prepare them for the college experience. Students keep binders in all of their classes at Stamford to help them stay organized for their classes, separated by class, as well as keep a pencil pouch to keep all of their writing materials handy for note-taking using the Cornell Notes system as well as maintain a "learning log" and calendars for upcoming assignments. When taking notes for their different classes, the AVID students use the Cornell Notes system to help them organize their ideas and learn how to take notes quickly, but efficiently, to take notes during class, point out key points about the notes after class, and summarize the main idea of the lesson in order to make review much easier. The students are also required to keep a learning log throughout the week where they document what was learned in each of their classes each day of the school week, ending with a summary of the week as a whole on Friday to be turned in. Students also keep weekly and monthly calendars to keep up on homework assignments and upcoming tests to help them study and prepare for major assignments.
After giving the brief overview of the class, the AVID students discussed their different experiences of the class and how it will help them in their future. Along with the different tools learned in the classroom, the students are able to visit college campuses to see the college experience first-hand as well as be visited by guest speakers who bring different life experiences to teach to the students. Students are able to build their confidence and set goals for themselves, putting forth hard work and dedication to help them achieve their goals. As far as AVID's impact, students are able to learn skills that will help them in the college application process, making the process much easier, as well as organize items for financial aid and letters of recommendation to help potentially boost acceptance.
Throughout the evening, parents were able to ask questions about the program to gain a better understanding of the concepts learned by the students. While the students show that they have to complete a lot of work to achieve their goals, the results are more than worth it as the students move through high school and into the next chapter of their academic career. Lefevre thanked the parents for coming to the meeting to learn more about the program and stated that there will be another meeting in the spring where parents can learn more about AVID tutorials, but for now, parents were able to see the benefits that the AVID program can bring to their children.
Discussions on Payroll Periods Continue
By Teresa Barbian
The Jones County Commissioners Court met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, November 11, 2016. The meeting was called to order and the minutes from the previous meeting were approved. The court then approved all trust property bids as one action. The following bids were approved; R15640 in the amount of $1000, R17128 in the amount of $33, R28851 in the amount of $250, R12058 in the amount of $201, R12353 in the amount of $35, R17617 in the amount of $850, R28505 in the amount of $275, and R14135 in the amount of $50.
The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on the disaster declaration and all items related regarding FEMA, TDA, and TDEM forms and requirements. FEMA submitted revised project worksheets from the April 2016 disaster to Precincts 2 and 3. Judge Spurgin has asked those commissioners to review them to see if any changes need to be made. The commissioners also need to make sure that if FEMA signs off on these projects as large projects, then the court will need to contact FEMA to re-write them as small projects. Precinct 1 also received a project worksheet in which FEMA indicated that it ‘lacked’ information. The commissioners need to make sure they have their write ups for the work that has been completed for disaster 4223 so that the forms can be sent to TDA for the local match dollars. No action was taken on this agenda item. Next, discuss and take action on TXDOT County Transportation Infrastructure Grant. The commissioners were asked to turn in their write ups for all completed work for reimbursement. No action was taken.
The next agenda item was a called meeting to canvass election results on November 21, 2016 at 9:00 am. Judge Spurgin also wanted to express his appreciation to all those involved in the November 8th election. Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on a memorandum of understanding for the Outreach, Screening, Assessment, and Referral program by Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. This is a program for the adult probation department and the memorandum is something that Jones County has had in place for a while. This item was approved.
Next on the agenda was to discuss and take action on the employee policy manual regarding payroll periods. The court is continuing its discussion on possible issues and questions that may come up if the payroll periods change. New time sheets, what to do with leave accrual and balances, paying overtime and holiday for each pay period and not using comp time anymore, and whether to combine vacation and sick time as paid time off were just a few of the discussion items. The County Treasurer will communicate with the Salary Committee for Jones County to get their input on combining the time off. No action was taken at this time; they will take final action at the next meeting. The next agenda item was to discuss and take action on the Treasurer’s report. The County was secure with $7,642,457.50. The account balance at the end of the month was $5,735,966.47 leaving the County over secured with $1,906,491.03. The Treasurer’s report was approved. Next, the court approved the filing of a copy of statement of financial positions for the adult probation department and approved line item transfers. The court then approved to pay the bills and the meeting was adjourned.
City of Stamford Adopts CodeRED Community Notification System
The City of Stamford is implementing CodeRED, a notification system which will alert residents by phone or email in the event of an emergency. The system is set up to allow the city in case of a boil water notice, power outages, missing person or other emergency situations, to telephone or email all residents who are signed up in the database.
To help grow the database with the most current information, the City has arranged to have a link on the Stamford American (http://www.americannewspapers.net) and the Stamford Star (www.thestamfordstar.com) websites where residents can click on the CodeRed button which will take them to the sign up page. There is also a link that will allow citizens to download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app.
City officials recommend that that all Stamford residents participate in order to receive notifications via this rapid system. Citizens who have previously signed up and haven't made any changes to their contact information don't need to sign up again.
The City is finalizing plans for an event in the near future to help residents enroll. If you have any questions, contact City Hall at 773-2723.
Texas Water Development Board Visits City Council During Regular Meeting
The Stamford City Council held its regular meeting on Monday, November 7 where the council would hear from representatives of the Texas Water Development Board and formally approve the adoption of the water rate increase after the second reading of the new city ordinance. After the invocation was led by Councilmember Dennis Braden followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Councilmember James Decker, Mayor Johnny Anders called the meeting to order and opened the floor for Citizen's Comments. However, as no citizens had anything to address to the council, the meeting moved forward to approving the minutes of the October 17 regular meeting before hearing from a representative of the Texas Water Development Board. Carlton Wilks of the Texas Water Development Board, specifically the section of financial compliance, stepped forward to address the council, addressing his concerns with the city potentially falling into non-compliance due to failing to have the funds to make the first payment to the water loan in February. Wilks stated that the city received $265,000 in 2004 followed by the $20,000,000 awarded earlier this year, half of which was forgiven and the other half as a loan at a interest rate of less than 1.5%. He said that the contact was entered in good faith with the agreement being that the city could make the necessary payments in a timely manner. He urged the city council to set up a savings account which would help make the payments and be aware of the dangers of falling into non-compliance if they do not meet the agreed-upon structure, noting that the worst case scenario would be federal filings that would make the issue public record as well as a court order from the Attorney General for the first time in the 50 plus history of the board. Wilks stated that no one wants non-compliance to happen as it would negatively affect future loans by the board to not only Stamford, but to other cities requesting assistance. Wilks concluded his presentation by recommending to the council that they make the decisions to get things together to help make the payments on time and maintain compliance. As he could not give specific recommendations to the council at this time, he urged the council to gather the funds together. With the presentation complete, Anders thanked Mr. Wilks for his time and moved the meeting forward to the second reading of City Ordinance 895, which would approve the increase in water rates for the city by $8.50 per meter. The council was once again not unanimous in the approval of the ordinance, with Councilmember Leldon Clifton being the sole vote against the new ordinance, which was passed by a vote of 4-1. Along with the official passing of the ordinance, customers can expect to see the increase in the water bills beginning with December, while an interest and sinking savings fund can be set up once a new Mayor Pro Tem is appointed following the end of Clifton's term on the council. The council then moved forward with renewing the terms of the commissioners of the Stamford Housing Authority, with the terms of Harold Foster, Cary Davis and Shirley Moore renewed through December of 2018. Once this was completed, the council approved all items to the consent agenda which included property bids and lake lot leases. After that, the meeting was turned over to City Manager Alan Plumlee for his report. Plumlee began his report by informing the council that he had met with water wholesale customers to tell them what to expect from the rate increase. He said that he did not face any opposition from the customers as they had expected the increase, but he did say that the city was still waiting on the rate study which may change the water rates again. Plumlee continued by stating that the city has been using the Code Red emergency alert system for a year now, receiving positive response from the community. Plumlee stated that efforts were being made to sign more citizens up for the program, which includes adding a link to the service to the websites of the Stamford American and the Stamford Star. Plumlee continued by stating that he will be getting volunteers from the VIP Center to help older residents with signing up for the service. He continued by stating that the city is advertising the sale of two vans formerly used by the VIP Center, which will be sold as is with no warranty. Plumlee concluded his report by stating that he had received phone calls from concerned citizens believing that the tornado sirens were being tested. Plumlee said that the sirens heard were from the new lightning detectors installed at the schools, softball and baseball fields to alert when lightning is in the area. Plumlee said that while the tones were similar, the tornado siren is long and steady and the lightning siren is short at around 10-15 seconds only. With no other business to attend to, the meeting was turned over to the Stamford High School Ag Issues team, who presented their competition project to the council who were allowed to ask questions afterward. Ag teacher Rode Merryman informed the council that the team would be competing in district competition the following Tuesday and stated that anyone that has research on the subject presented that may prove helpful to the team is always welcome. Once the presentation was completed, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 pm.
Masons: Making a Difference in Our Community
By Teresa Barbian
Have you ever heard of a Mason? Yes, a mason is a builder and worker in stone. But I’m really referring to a Mason who is a member of a Masonic Lodge, often referred to as Freemasonry. A widely accepted theory on the origin of Freemasonry is that it came about from stonemasons in the Middle Ages. According to the website of the Masonic Service Association of North America, the oldest document that makes reference to Masons is the Regius Poem printed about 1390 which was actually a copy of an earlier work. People often refer to this group as a “Secret Society”. In a manner of speaking, that is a true statement. Not wanting to give away business tactics, group handshakes, or passwords, a private business or other social group conducts their business in private meetings. And they are somewhat ritualistic in their meetings, but in reality it’s a routine that is performed at every meeting. Think about the church you attend, there is a usual routine that is followed with each service. Some people speculated that the group was some sort of religious cult. They have been accused of using their own, presumably, satanic bible. The fact is, Freemasonry membership requires a belief in God, but they do not support any specific denomination of faith. The Masonic bible is nothing more than a King James Version of the Old and New Testament with commemoration of important dates, places to sign the record of Masonic degrees, a glossary of biblical references relating to Masonic ceremonies, and essays about Masonry in the front of the Bible.
I spoke with Charlie Martin at the Masonic Lodge #575 here in Anson and I asked him what Masons were about. “Taking good men and making them better,” he responded. In 1883, Masonic Lodge #575 was established and Robert Duvall was the first Mason. The lodge was originally on the corner at the red light where Allsup’s sits today.
The Masons are involved in numerous community programs. They have a Fantastic Teeth program which provides a toothbrush kit to every 1st grader in Jones County (which is approximately 300 kids every year). Every year the local Masonic Lodge provides books and curriculum for the Dyslexic program for Anson ISD. They give away bicycles every year to kids at Christmas in Anson and Stamford. The Masons have a Take Time to Read Program which is designed to promote awareness of the importance of reading aloud to children and the benefits reading can provide. Members volunteer at area schools to read to the kids. There are many, many other charities that the Masons are involved in.
They also have the Shriners. All Shriners are Masons. Shriners are a brotherhood; they are known for their philanthropic efforts. They are dedicated to providing care for children and families in need. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the Shriners Hospital in Houston. This hospital provides care to children at no expense to the family. I have firsthand experience with this hospital and can tell you that through the Masons and the Shriners, we were given travel money and lodging when my daughter had surgery when she was three years old. We were also provided entertainment while at the hospital from the Shriners. From the tiny car parades, the clowns, balloons, and stuffed animals, my daughter always seemed to have a smile on her face while we were there. Not having to worry about how we would pay for medical treatments, lodging, and food was a tremendous relief for my family. We were able to concentrate on getting my daughter well.
And ladies, they have auxiliary groups for women as well, such as Daughters of the Nile and Eastern Star.
If you’ve ever thought of becoming a Mason, all you have to do is ask. Masons cannot ask people to join; you have to make the first move. If you see a man walking around with a rather large square ring on one of his fingers, chances are he is a Mason and he can get you started in the process of becoming a Mason if you are interested. Or you can stop by the lodge; it’s catty-cornered from First National Bank.
Admit One: Filmmaker to Make Documentary About Stamford
By Will McClure
In 1995, Stamford helped play the background to the film The Stars Fell on Henrietta, the only real time Stamford graced the big screen outside of early newsreels that featured the Texas Cowboy Reunion. Now, a little over 20 years later, one filmmaker has decided to give Stamford the full film treatment as Adam Baldowski is filming a documentary about the Stamford community. Adam is the grandson of Stamford resident Maggie Baldowski who once operated Maggie's Cafe, a short trip down the sidewalk from the Grand Theater. Encouraged by the eventual reopening of the Grand next year, Baldowski started the filming process last weekend and will continue to shoot and edit at various times throughout the next year to help create a film that will show the heart of Stamford.
"I spent my summers here [in Stamford] with my dad, Gary," Baldowski said. "My dad grew up here, so I used to accompany him in the summers and drive cross-country. It was a kind of father-son road trip. I always had a soft spot for Stamford and over the years I started to understand more about how the community came together and started to see that while there have been struggles, it always manages to survive. The community was always a part of it." Baldowski went on to state that he had been talking about filming a documentary for several years, but had always struggled to find what the central story of the film would cover. However, Baldowski was able to find his theme when he heard two months ago about the Grand Theater being renovated for the spring, deciding that it was now the time to get started on Stamford's documentary.
A teacher at the Full Sail University with a background in film and television, Baldowksi set out to get to work on the film, focusing on the revitalization of the theater, the traditional aspect of the Texas Cowboy Reunion and Stamford Bulldog football. Baldowski said that he hopes to come back to Stamford in January with his parents to shoot more footage before coming back in July to film parts of the Texas Cowboy Reunion. With work needing to be done, Baldowski began the filming process by visiting Stamford High School on Friday, meeting with High School Principal Greg London and many of the teachers while he walked around the school, filming the students and the activity that is Stamford ISD. Baldowski said that he was thoroughly impressed with the enthusiasm of the students and the heart and dedication of the teachers throughout the day as they demonstrated the heart and spirit of the community, not only in the school itself but also during the pep rally and during the football game against Hawley, where he continued to pick up more footage for the film. In addition to visiting the school, Baldowski continued the filming process the next day by visiting with Cowboy Country Museum Director Sandra Rhea as part of his full day of getting shots around town, including possibly being able to visit the Grand Theater as it is being cleaned out.
With so much to film and plan for in the future, Baldowski said that he plans to edit the film in progress as he continues to work on getting the required shots for the film throughout the year, making the final production process a little bit easier once he films the final frames of the film. Once finished, Baldowski said that he hopes to premiere the film at the Grand Theater, but at this point the plans for the film after the premiere are not set in stone as far as a possible theatrical release or a pitch to networks such as PBS. He said that there are many different ways that the film can be pitched so it can be seen by a wider audience, but for now that is a long way off as he has only begun the filming process.
Over the next year, the community of Stamford will continue to be captured on film as Adam Baldowski looks to capture the heart and spirit of the Stamford community. While the filming process will take a long time due to certain events, Baldowski looks to get as much as he can to tell the story of a humble little town. More information about the film will be known and confirmed once it is completed next year, but for now the journey has begun to bring Stamford to the silver screen.