- Category: News
- Published on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 21:56
- Written by Jim Bardwell
Gladewater City Secretary Melba Haralson was handed another hat to wear Tuesday night, as the City Council handed her the interim city manager’s job.
Haralson will replace city manager Sean Pate who is leaving to become city manager in Bonham. Pate's last day is July 2.
This will be Haralson’s third time to serve as interim city manager and she will be charged with guiding the city through the budget process this summer. It took the city council two hours in executive session to come to a conclusion after not making a decision last week.
Last week several names were pitched for the interim city manager's job, including councilwoman Lana Niemann and former mayor John Paul Tallent, among others. Niemann said she would serve as interim city manager, but did not want the job full-time.
Haralson was hired by the City of Gladewater in 1994 and appointed City Secretary in 1996. She is a graduate of the Texas Municipal Clerks Certification Program through the University of North Texas and has over 30 years of financial and accounting background. She is a member of the Texas Municipal Clerks Association, Texas Municipal Human Resource Association, Texas Government Finance Officers Association, Gladewater Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Gladewater Lions Club, and serves on numerous committees and volunteers with various community projects and events.
As city secretary she attends and records proceedings of official meetings of the City and is the manager and custodian of official records. She also has been responsible for conducting city elections, including early voting and is the city treasurer, finance department supervisor, human resources and personnel director. Her duties also include directing all information systems and data processing efforts and provides control and consistency to the procurement of all supplies, material and equipment.
The city council has begun the recruitment process for a fulltime city manager by advertising with the Texas Municipal League.
- Category: News
- Published on Friday, 29 May 2015 12:05
- Written by Jim Bardwell
BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS,Correspondent
GILMER--Upshur County Commissioners Court on Friday took no action on a mutual aid agreement proposed by the city of Gladewater after several commissioners said they were happy with their current interlocal agreement with the city.
Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka, whose precinct includes the Upshur County portion of Gladewater, urged the court not act on the proposal from Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate after the three other commissioners expressed satisfaction with the current agreement.
The interlocal pact lets the county and city cooperate on road work and share expenses.
County Judge Dean Fowler opened the discussion by saying the proposal was the same type agreement Gladewater has with Gregg County Commissioners Court. Berka then said "it's just spelled out in legalese stuff" compared to the current agreement.
The commissioner said he had District Attorney Billy Byrd review the proposal and that Byrd said it was okay. Then the other commissioners--Paula Gentry, Don Gross and Mike Spencer--said they were happy with the current agreement before Fowler said "it doesn't matter to me" what the court did.
Berka said the current agreement states that aid is "subject to current funding."
Pate, who did not attend the commissioners' meeting, told this newspaper afterward in a phone interview that he proposed the agreement "to create some consistency" and allow "more flexibility." He said it was "just mimicking" the agreement the city made with Gregg County, which he said has worked well.
The city manager, who said Berka had called him to express his concerns with the proposal, said the city was not demanding a change and that it was a "simple suggestion." Pate said the city is "fine with the existing" interlocal agreement if that is what the court wants.
Berka said after the meeting that the current agreement is a "very simple one page" document with "not a lot of legalese language" and the proposed new one "basically is the same thing we're doing today."
Thus, he said, there was "no sense in making changes if they're not needed."
- Category: News
- Published on Friday, 03 April 2015 14:12
- Written by Jim Bardwell
BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/Correspondent
GILMER--Upshur County Commissioners Court on March 31 approved a contract with Union Grove Water Supply Corporation, allowing the county to be the fiscal agent for a $348,300 state grant for the corporation to replace aged, deteriorating, and undersized water lines.
Under the agreement, volunteers, in conjunction with the corporation, will install about 23,500 linear feet of six-inch and 10-inch water mains, along with "road boring, service reconnections, fuel and all related appurtenances."
In a news release, Amazing Grants, Inc., a Big Sandy consulting firm which helped secure the grant, said the improvements are targeted "in areas that serve predominantly low-to-moderate income residents." The corporation hopes to begin construction this fall.
The already-approved grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture requires no matching funds from the corporation or county, said Melinda Smith of Amazing Grants. The county applied for and received the Small Towns Environment Program Grant.
Locations for the work include portions of:
--U.S. 271 from Redwood Road to Silk Tree Road.
--Union Grove Road from 271 to Short Oak Road.
--Bob-O-Link Road from FM Road 1844 to Pheasant Road
--Pheasant Road from Bob-O-Link Road to FM Road 726
--FM Road 726 from Pheasant Road to Thrush Road
Upon approval by Union Grove WSC and the county, the county will pay invoices only from grant and/or corporation funds.
The contract also provides that the corporation will "request and receive proposals for grant administration services and engineering services," and that the county will consider entering into a contract with the grant management firm and engineering firm which the corporation recommends.
"Fees will be paid with grant funds," the contract says.
In the news release, Amazing Grants said the grant was awarded "after a lengthy application process, which included a public hearing and community meeting. County Judge Dean Fowler and Precinct 1 Commissioner Paula Gentry attended the community meeting hosted by the water supply in August 2014 and received an overwhelming response in support of the project. x
"Commissioner Gentry will serve as a 'Sparkplug,'" which is the state agriculture department's "term for a volunteer that has agreed to help organize volunteers and oversee various tasks associated with the project," the news release said.
Anyone interested in volunteering may call Gentry at 903-680-8331 or Union Grove WSC Manager Cathy Harris at 903-845-2834.
Fowler said at the commissioners court's March 31 meeting that the county is "very pleased" it received the grant
- Category: News
- Published on Thursday, 28 May 2015 17:07
- Written by Jim Bardwell
Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate has officially accepted the city manager position in Bonham Texas, today. He told the Gladewater Mirror he had notified his staff and the city council of his intention to resign.
"I hate leaving this wonderful community, but I cannot pass up the opportunity," Pate said, adding his last day will be July 2.
Pate recently was a finalist for the Kilgore City Manager's job.
He has been with Gladewater for five year.
The city council has scheduled a special session for Monday, June 1, at 6 p.m. to accept Pate's resignation and appoint an interim city manager and discuss the recruitment of Pate's replacement.
City Secretary Melba Haralson served as interim city manager before Pate was hired and after former city manger Jay Stokes left to take the city manager's job in Deer Park, Texas, in April of 2010.
- Category: News
- Published on Saturday, 21 March 2015 15:19
- Written by Jim Bardwell
Texas HB 2165, introduced by Republican Representative David Simpson, was the main topic of the day at a Simpson Town Hall meeting at Tejas Cafe in Gladewater Saturday.
The bill would legalize cannabis by repealing all reference to marijuana in state law. Rep. Simpson says his policy justifications for desiring decriminalization are grounded in traditional Christian conservative values.
H.B. 2165 is bold yet simple. If enacted it would delete several provisions of Texas state law dealing with penalties related to cannabis use and possession. The bill is so thorough it would affect:
• Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
• Texas Health and Safety Code
• Texas Tax Code
• Texas Penal Code
• Texas Education Code
• Texas Government Code
Simpson believes government should treat cannabis no differently than other vegetative crops cultivated by humans for agricultural purposes.
Simpson addresses the issues surrounding HB 2165 by saying:
There is nothing like filing a bill where both sides of an issue have strongly held positions, and I have the opportunity to interact with all. I appreciate and respect those who have called, emailed, or posted on my Facebook page with their opinions on HB 2165 which would repeal all marijuana offenses in Texas statutes.
I do not advocate the irresponsible use of marijuana or any substance, but those are choices that should be made by individuals, not the state. We have plenty of laws to deal with those who harm their neighbor and these will remain in force if this law is passed.
Some of those in opposition to the concept have inferred that my comment in the op-ed that “as a Christian I see the innate goodness in all that God created” as approval of marijuana’s recreational use. That was not my point.
My point is that government has gotten it wrong when it comes to marijuana. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is defined by the government as a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. However, since that classification, at least 23 states have legalized the plant for medical use. Marijuana, used irresponsibly, can have some bad side effects. But many pharmaceuticals, used as intended, have even worse side effects. Compare the side effects of prescription painkillers, antidepressants, or chemotherapy drugs to the side effects of marijuana. Should people be allowed to make a choice between the two? Also, compare the side effects of marijuana to the countless substances and activities, which may not be the best choice for the individual, but which we tolerate and do not prohibit.
When marijuana was originally outlawed most scholars agree that the laws were motivated by hype, racism, and perhaps an industry or two seeking to control competition from hemp in some commodities markets. Hemp, coming from the same plant as marijuana (but from a strain with extremely low THC), is the strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. It produces four times as much fiber per acre as pine trees and could be an ideal source of biomass for fuel. To this day, cultivation of industrial hemp requires a permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (rarely given out) with conditions that the crop be surrounded by security measures such as fences, razor wire, security guards, or dogs.
Thus, we are missing out on both the medicinal and economic value of a plant God has given us that, coincidentally, can also be abused. Comments in emails and Facebook posts have focused on the fact that God also made poisonous snakes and hemlock, but that does not mean we should use them recreationally. That is so true, and I no more suggest that people should use marijuana recreationally than I suggest that people play with rattlesnakes. The difference is, the state does not prohibit playing with rattlesnakes, and some people actually bring them to the Capitol and let other people play with them.
Of course, another difference is that no one has ever died from the use of marijuana. It is nontoxic. This fact does not mean it’s a good idea for a person to use it recreationally, but it does underscore the fact that it does not need intense government regulation.
Meanwhile, I do not think it is right that we punish citizens who are not harming their neighbor. We may disagree with their use of the plant, but when should the state step in? We have 70,000 people incarcerated in Texas simply for possession of marijuana.
I understand the desire to send the right messages to our children. However, prohibition does more than send a message. It creates many problems. We may not want a teenager to experiment with marijuana, but would we rather that discussion be between parents and the child or the child and the police?
What motivated me to file the bill at this time is a desire to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating another bureaucracy like the ATF on the state level to regulate it, nor a registry that a future federal administration might use as evidence of breaking federal law.
Getting back to the basics on this issue will put parents in charge of their children’s lives and adults in charge of their own. It is time to reject nanny state policies and restore limited civil government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.
HB 2165 Frequently Asked Questions
Is marijuana a gateway drug?
Perhaps, but is it a gateway because of the chemical influence or because of the criminal element that a person is involved with in obtaining the plant?
What can I do to help get the bill passed?
Contact your elected officials and express your support for the bill. Pray for me.
Why do you encourage recreational use of marijuana by saying all things created by God are for good?
What I said in my op-ed is that “As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.” I do not encourage the irresponsible use of any plant, chemical, or other substance. I do not allow my children to consume caffeine until they are in their teenage years and then only in moderation. I instruct them on its addictive nature and potential abuse. Anything can be used for evil, but that does not make it evil. Cannabis can be used for much good.
Why do you want to legalize the plant that can harm you just because God made it?
Many plants aren’t good for human consumption. Some of them can even kill you. However, we do not need to outlaw them to avoid their irresponsible use. To my knowledge there are no confirmed reports of dying from marijuana, unlike synthetic marijuana.
Won’t this increase impaired driving accidents?
The research on driving accidents does not support any special fear about marijuana. While most studies will agree that the number of people who test positive for marijuana use in driving accidents has increased, there is less evidence to indicate that the drug use was directly related to the accident. Colorado accident rates were at a near historic low in 2013. The federal government recently conducted a study and concluded that marijuana potential contribution to accidents was not statistically significant.
Have you researched what legalization has done in Colorado?
Yes. It is mixed. I encourage you to do your own research of the issue and look at the information from both sides of the argument.
Do you believe that there should be some regulatory scheme to protect children from getting marijuana?
My favorite regulatory scheme for minors is parents. They have the greatest opportunity of preventing bad behavior. Prohibiting the sale of tobacco and alcohol for minors has not stopped the use and abuse of those products, though education has.
Why are you bringing this bill up now?
I filed the bill to help constituents who desire access to the natural plant for treatment of seizures, PTSD, cancer, etc. I want to expand liberty and restore personal responsibility without creating more bureaucracy. There are other bills promoting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, but they create a regulatory scheme that would be counter productive and create more government. They also create a registry of all medical users. Should the federal government choose to come into the state and enforce federal statutes, we would be giving them the information needed to prosecute.
What happens if someone smokes marijuana and has a car crash killing someone?
Driving impaired is illegal, whether it be under the influence of cough medicine, alcohol, or marijuana. This bill would not change any penalties for harming another person currently in statute.
Why do you keep saying there are medical benefits when there are so many studies saying there aren’t?
There are studies on both sides of this issue. To date, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. I am not a medical expert, but I have heard numerous first hand accounts from people in Texas and across the country that have said it has helped them, including veterans. I believe people should be given the freedom to make responsible decisions about their health without being criminals, and I trust them more than I do government to keep them safe from themselves.
Were you smoking marijuana when you came up with this idea?
No, and I never have.