Last updateWed, 04 Nov 2015 1pm

Back You are here: News


Community College value underfunded by state

By Suzanne Bardwell

Kilgore College, along with other community colleges must sometimes feel like the hardworking employee that gets called on to do the heavy lifting but is taken for granted when the state payday rolls around.

According to the Texas Association of Community Colleges’ stats the pie is not being divided fairly when it comes to state support. According to state enrollment statistics community colleges enroll 54 percent of the state’s college students, 75 percent of freshmen and sophomores and 78 percent of all Texas minority students.

Despite those stats Texas’ community colleges only get 12 percent of the higher education budget while 4-year state universities get 41 percent, other higher education agencies get 28 percent, health related institutions get 18 percent and Texas State Technical Institutions get 1 percent.

In dollar value though it appears the state has an underappreciated bargain in community colleges like Kilgore with the state cost per student at community colleges a budget happy $2,506 per student as compared to $10,924 at a state university, or the high dollar education of technical college per student cost at $14,923 according to the state report Fiscal Size Up 2014-2015.

Often one of the counter arguments to community college success are the graduation rates which do not take into account the numbers of students who do not choose to get an associate’s degree before pursuing higher education or those who do not pursue a 4-year degree but go into the work force

Despite those factors the graduation statistics do warrant a greater effort in keeping students in community college to prepare them for higher education or career certification programs.

Community colleges also often do the heavy lifting when it comes to college readiness remediation. Of more than 95,000 first-time-in-college students at community colleges, just 34,000 met college-ready standards in math, reading and writing. The rest were required by state law to pass at least one developmental education course, for no college credit, as a condition of enrollment. All entering students must take tests required by the Texas Success Initiative meant to rate their ability to do college freshman level work. 

With all the obstacles presented Kilgore College does indeed prove value on the dollar with their results. First, students who live in KC’s taxing district which includes Gladewater, White Oak and Sabine ISDs, the savings are a whopping $69 per college hour compared to out-of-district students at $130 per college hour. 

There are also a host of courses now offered on area high school campuses, including GHS, White Oak and Sabine that allows students to acquire college hours while enrolled in high school. 

Those courses, depending on school district, include U.S. History 1301 and 1302, Music Appreciation, Government, English 1301 and 1302. 

Web courses are also available for local high school students and include Statistics, Environmental Science, Environmental Biology, Astronomy, Psychology, Sociology, College Algebra and Trigonometry.

Those dual credit courses are a parent’s dream at a cost of only $115 for a 3-hour course with additional fees for labs and web courses. Welding and auto mechanics are available also but a bit more expensive than the traditional courses.

With bargain basement prices, dedicated remediation courses and the vast array of dual credit courses available to high school students Kilgore College proves to be a budget saver for students and parents despite the inequities of state funding.



Upshur ESD calls for tax election, tax hike



The Upshur County Emergency Services District has called a Nov. 3 election on inceasing its tax rate from the current three cents per $100 valuation to seven cents.

The five-member ESD board unanimously called the election Aug. 10 because the three-cent rate is inadequately funding the district, which provides financial aid to the county’s 12 rural fire departments, said board Vice-Chairman Cloddie Henson.

Voters who reside in the city limits of Gilmer, Ore City, Big Sandy and Gladewater cannot vote in the election since those cities are not included in the district. However, all other Upshur County voters may participate.

Henson said last week that under current funding, the district is “barely maintaining our status quo” when it needs to upgrade rural firefighters’ equipment. And grant funding from the state for that purpose, which helped Upshur rural departments obtain new trucks over a period of past years, is now “pretty much unavailable,” he added.

As an example of why the district is seeking the tax hike, Henson said he believed the Simpsonville Volunteer Fire Department has a 1984 model truck which is “past its prime,” and which needs a brand-new, or at least newer used model, engine.

The district has budgeted $15,000 for work on the vehicle, but that still leaves the department with a truck which is “basically worn out,” Henson said.

In addition, he said, the Pritchett Volunteer Fire Department is “limping along” with an aging tanker and needs to upgrade. Too, any rural fire department in the county has “some piece of equipment that needs to be replaced,” he asserted.

The district sets an individual budget for each rural department and reimburses the departments for expenses within the budget, Henson said. Although the four aforementioned cities are not in the district, they contract with it to fight fires outside their city limits, “so really all the departments (in the county) benefit from the ESD,”  he argued.

As for grants, which once paid 75 or 90 percent of the cost of a new truck for a rural department, Henson noted that Simpsonsville VFD has applied for one, but been told “we’re way down on the list” of departments who might receive it.

In addition, he pointed out, some trucks obtained with grant monies in the past are now about 10 years old.




State school truancy law changes


By Suzanne Bardwell

A new school truancy law takes effect Sept. 1 and although students will no longer face criminal sanctions there will be more pressure on parents and schools if students fail to show up for class.

A key component of the new law requires all public schools to implement truancy prevention programs something nearly all have had in place in years.

The new law works like this:  If a student has three unexcused absences in a four-week period the school must inform parents, warn them of potential truancy measures and request a face-to-face meeting.

The school must put in place truancy prevention measures.

If a student has 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period the school must evaluate whether the student’s absences are the result of a pregnancy, homelessness, foster care or because he or she is the primary earner for the family.

If they fit the stated criteria the school may not refer the student to truancy court, instead the school will offer additional counseling and support.

If they do not fit the criteria the school may file a criminal complaint against the parents in court. Schools must prove the absences were unexcused and a result of the parents’ negligence.


If the school finds its truancy plan is not working the student can be referred to a truancy court. The student can be fined $100, have his or her driving privileges revoked, or be referred to the juvenile court system.




“I will be discussing the financial position and 2016 County budget at the Pritchett Community Center on Sept. 1st at 7 PM.  I believe the information is critical to the taxpayer.

“Before Sept. 1st, we will have already adopted the budget.  One item of critical importance to folks in the Gladewater area is that if the Commissioners approve a ‘NEW’ Election Administrator Dept., the tax assessor says she will close the Gladewater sub courthouse because money to fund the new dept. and one employee will be transferred away from her dept.  I am adamantly opposed to the closing of Gladewater sub courthouse and creating larger government and expense when it is the County Clerks responsibility to hold elections.  Tax payers should contact their Commissioners and discuss this issue ASAP.”


We invite everyone to the Pritchett Community Center monthly meeting at 7 PM on September 1 and woule like imput on the community.


I was happy to get a telephone call from Rowan Shirley of Utah this week.  The Shirley’s have been friends with my Denton family for at least 2 generations and we have visited in their home in Utah.  It seems that we are the older generation now and we all have our challenges.


Barbara May Langford sent me a pictures of  an old canning factory on White Oak Road in the Cross Road’s Community  with the names of the people in the picture, her dad is in the picture.  I appreciate Barbara for sending these pictures, also one of the Cross Roads School (about 1934-35) that was in the paper August 2, 2000.


Since the recent rains, the burn ban has been lifted for Upshur County.  People need to still be very careful if you are burning.


WORDS OF WISDOM:  The Savior is our supreme example of humility and submissiveness.  Perhaps some of the most sacred words in all the scriptures are simply, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done’.  (Luke 22:42)


There has been a report that Maurice Mask is in ICU in Longview.  Maurice has lived in our community for many years.  Let’s keep him in our thoughts and prayers.


Cooks for the quilters this week were Kathryn Beard, Ellen Johnson, Mary Askew, and Ann Leahy who served homemade chicken pot pie, spinach & strawberry salad with a raspberry dressing, avocado-cucumber salad, garlic bread, with spice cake for dessert.


Lynne Munoz and Betty Holden visited with us today.  Lynne had surgery and is recuperating.  Betty has recently become a citizen of the United States after living here for 50 years, coming from Canada.  We enjoyed having both of them and will be glad when they can come back to quilting.  Lynne crocheted 30 hats for cancer patients.


Thought for the day:  “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”  Thomas Jefferson


Lone Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church will be the subject of this weeks history from the records of Myra Watts.


The Lone Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church is still active today.  Daniel Wilson Stanley was the minister of the old Paint Rock church south of Shady Grove and served there almost 30 years.  In the early 1900’s the school had consolidated with Shady Grove and the congregation saw the need of a new building.  Since most of the members lived closer to Cross Roads they decided to build the new building there.


In 1914 Tom Atkinson and Alvin Robertson donated land on what is now Lemon Road for the sight of the new building.  It was a lovely, peaceful setting among large trees.


The basis of the Primitive Baptist religion is that of predestination.  Their service includes traditional washing of the feet.  In this congregation they also include Sacred Harp singing which is based on songs and hymns written in a basic four beat meter (also called Fa-so-la).


The founder of this church was Daniel W. Stanley.  His brother, John Jordan Stanley, died in 1875 after singing a Sacred Harp song.  He was 22 years old.  He just stepped out onto the church porch and fell dead.  It is believed he died of a stroke due to high blood pressure which runs in the family.  We don’t know why D.W. Chose “Lone Pilgrim” as the name for this church, but there is a song in a Sacred Harp song book titled “Lone Pilgrim.”  It is a hauntingly love song.  I have the words to the son, but not the music.


Charter members were Brothers and Sisters:  D.W. Stanley, W.A. White, M.J. Stanley, Charlie Brogden, Rob Stegall, W.A. Bryant, George Jones, Jim Burcham, Mack Howell, A.B. Robertson, Marion Satterwhite, J.H. Johnson, Henry Steelman, John Robertson, Jim Robertson, Millie Robertson, Bert Atkinson, Luna Stanley, Fince Meeler and Carrie Bullard.


One gentleman recalls going to the meetings when he was a boy and slipping away during the sermons to go swimming in Miller’s (then Wilburn’s) Pond.  The sermons sere so long that the same preacher would still be in the pulpit when they returned.


Ruby Johnson Starks is still a member of this congregation today.  They meet every second Sunday of the month.


Words from Brenda Johnson:  Ruby still amazes me that at over 90 (she will be 96 on August 25) years old she still goes to a lot of meetings (Upshur County Hospital Auxiliary, senior citizens in Gilmer), still mows her own yard, and the last I knew, she was still making the most delicious pies for anyone that wanted one.  Ruby and I were Pink Ladies together at the hospital before it closed down.  One of Ruby’s daughters has been in the hospital this week and we wish her well.

Next week’s history will be on the Stanley-Mclaughlin Family.




GISD votes for tax hike

By Suzanne Bardwell

Between concerned African-American citizen education concerns and the passage of a higher than expected tax rate, Monday’s school board meeting was focused on the weighty issues of how to ensure academic and fiscal health for the district.

Twelve members of the Concerned Citizens Committee were in attendance with B.K. Johnson addressing issues of concern during the public forum portion of the meeting.

Johnson read from a prepared statement that was a “compilation of alleged infractions within our school system. Numerous complaints, assertions and statistical data brought to the committee through a series of open forum public meetings.”

The issues listed in the statement included limited numbers of minority instructors. According to Johnson, African-Americans make up 20 percent of the student body but only constitute 7.2 percent of the faculty. Other concerns noted included minority performance on standardized testing, limited numbers of minority students in advanced and dual credit classes, over population in remedial programs and the lack of “any active program that actively seeks recruitment of minority personnel for leadership positions.”

The statement concluded with a request for an open forum meeting with GISD Trustees and the superintendent at Garfield Hill Community Center.

Because of plummeting appraisal valuations, the almost certain passage of a statewide homestead exemption of $25,000 which will be on the November statewide ballot and the cost of bond construction in the face of lower revenues, the school board voted 6-0 to set the tax rate at $1.565 for 2016. David Floyd was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The Maintenance and Operation (M&O) is set at $1.17 and the Interest and Sinking which funds building and capital outlay expenditures was raised from 35 cents to 39.5 cents. According to Business Director Susie Stephens the budget concerns lay with making debt payment in the face of the falling appraisal valuations.

“We need to make this plain to the community,” trustee Garth Cockerell reiterated with Superintendent Dr. J.P. Richardson noting that the rate will fluctuate every year depending on valuation with the hopes that it will go down in the future.

In other business the board heard an extensive performance and achievement report from new Asst. Supt. of Curriculum Dr. Julie Davis which noted across the board success for the district including areas of minority achievement in standardized testing. 

The board approved checks to Apex, ESA and RLM for a combined construction project cost of $1,803,692.96. The board also approved a check to RLM for $636,181.54 for stadium and track improvements which includes expanded handicap parking, new home side seating and resurfacing of the track which will now allow track meets to be held at Gladewater.

The board approved the changing of the location and time of the Sept. 21 board meeting to 5 p.m. at Weldon Intermediate to tour the construction.

Resignations received included Chris Clifton and Sherry Davis. Approval of new hires included that of Sandi King new GHS Principal, Cory Kutin-HS, Patricio DeJesus-MS and Heather Rogers-Weldon Intermediate.




Stop Zebra Mussel Spread! – Boaters Asked to Help and Obey the Law

A Video News Report is now available on our site called “Stop Zebra Mussel Spread.” The 2015 flood waters brought lake levels around the state up and boaters back on the water. The downside is the threat of invasive zebra mussels spreading from lake to lake. Texas Parks and Wildlife is asking boaters to help stop the spread of these economically and environmentally damaging pests. The law requires boaters to clean, drain and dry their boats and water compartments that can carry microscopic larvae.

See the Youtube link at


By James Draper

Round Two: The first stack of resumes didn’t turn up Gladewater’s new city manager, and council members officials are rebooting their summertime hunt for the fall.

In a special session last week, the elected officials went directly into a closed meeting and remained sequestered for about an hour as the apparent lone finalist – Gerry Boren, city manager of Gun Barrel City – waited in the council chambers at Gladewater City Hall.

Briefly speaking with Gladewater Police Department Capt. Michael Kirkwood, the council brought Boren into the closed meeting and sent him out minutes later Aug. 12.

“They said they want to look some more,” Boren reported with a shrug.

The council reconvened their public meeting at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’ve interviewed two candidates,” council member J.D. Shipp said in a motion to continue the search, “however in the interests of the city we’ve decided to interview more candidates.”

It’s a good hunt, said Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells, with a healthy pool of applications in the initial run.

That said, “We’re still hunting for the right person. Now we’re going to run it again for another 30 days, see who’s still out there,” he explained. Meanwhile, after two key interviews in the first round, “We’ve still got all the old applications there in our files. We’re not going to dispose of any of those.”

Several of the initial candidates may have already been hired elsewhere, he said, but some may still be on the job market.

“See, we’re not in a big hurry to hire because we’ve still got Melba there. She’s sharp. She can run the city, but right now she does not want to be the city manager.” Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate announced his looming departure in late-May after he was hired for a similar post in Bonham, and council members voted 7-0 to formally accept his resignation June 1.

Following Pate’s final day July 2, longtime city secretary Melba Haralson accepted the duties of interim city manager – her third time holding the reins on a short-term basis at City Hall –  while Gladewater’s elected officials kicked off their search for Pate’s permanent successor. 

The city collected 31 resumes by mid-July, vetting resumes and launching the interview process in the open-ended hunt for a new chief executive.

Last week’s meeting doesn’t go all the way back to the drawing board; Haralson was ready to re-advertise the open post Aug. 13. If the group follows the same schedule as before, after re-advertising for the position for another 30 days the council will likely be vetting applications in mid- to late-September.

Haralson confirmed there’s no set date to have a new manager in office, but she allowed an October-hiring isn’t out of the question.


“The council felt it would be prudent and in the best interest of the city to seek more applicants and interviews,” she said Aug. 12. In the meantime, “I’m just willing to serve as interim until they find the right person.”