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East Texans elect school board candidates in May election
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After a slow start to early voting this spring, East Texans turned out on Saturday to select their school board candidates for the next term.

Marshall ISD

Marshall ISD voters had a choice between three candidates to fill two at-large trustee seats. Two of the candidates were incumbents, Board President Brad Burris and Vice President Cathy Marshall and the third was newcomer Yolanda Anderson.

Voters selected Marshall and Burris to retain their seats with Marshall receiving the most votes with 729 votes (44 percent) and Burris receiving 673 votes (40 percent). Anderson received 263 votes (16 percent).

Hallsville ISD

Hallsville ISD voters had one contested race on this May’s ballot.

Board President Jay Nelson, who serves in the Place 3 seat and incumbent trustee Jason Ainsworth, who serves in the Place 5 seat, were both uncontested. Nelson received 342 votes (100 percent) and Ainsworth received 346 votes (100 percent).

Place 4 incumbent trustee Lee Gaw was challenged by newcomers Beth A. Duncan and Dustin Wisdom and voters selected to elect Gaw to the seat with 298 votes (70 percent). Duncan received 77 votes (18 percent) and Wisdom received 50 votes (12 percent).

Jefferson ISD

Jefferson ISD voters saw two seats on the ballot this election, though both were uncontested.

Place 6 and Place 7 seats, currently held by incumbents J.P. Abernathy and Ned Fratangelo, were up for grabs though neither incumbent filed for re-election.

Newcomer Tolesia Smith Davis filed to run for the Place 6 seat while fellow newcomer Michael Williams Jr. filed to run for the Place 7 seat. Results from this race were not available at presstime.

Waskom ISD

Waskom ISD voters had to select just two trustees out of a candidate pool of five names, including two incumbents and one former trustee.

Incumbent trustees Jimmy Whorton and Linda Bond were challenged by former trustee Shanta Chatman and newcomers Wade Nelson and Kathy Baugh.

Voters selected Chatman and Baugh for the seats with Chatman receiving the most votes — 166 (30 percent) — and Baugh receiving 152 votes (27 percent).

Nelson received 113 votes (20 percent), Bond received 76 votes (14 percent) and Whorton received 50 votes (9 percent).

Wiley College sees 102 graduates walk the stage on Saturday during commencement
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Wiley College seniors returned to campus on Saturday for the first time since last spring, to walk across the stage and earn their diplomas as part of the university’s 132nd commencement ceremony.

The first to celebrate senior graduation in Harrison County, Wiley College awarded 102 graduates their degrees on Saturday.

“As Wiley-ites, you are expected to be a beacon of light in the communities where you live, work and serve,” Wiley College Chairman of the Board Walter Sutton Jr. said Saturday. “It is our expectation that you will do so with distinction.”

Wiley College President Herman Felton Jr. introduced Keynote Speaker Rev. Matthew Whatley who congratulated the students on their hard work to continue their studies throughout the pandemic.

“Let’s celebrate that not even a global pandemic by COVID-19 could stop you from getting your degree and walking across the stage,” Whatley said. “According to the 2021 Census Report, bachelor degree attainment is at an all time high at 32 percent of Americans 25 or older. In the workforce, you now become one out of three. That means this is not the end, that’s why they call this ceremony a commencement. We are just getting started.”

Whatley then told a story from Kobe Bryant’s successful basketball career about keeping an eye on the goal.

“Kobe Bryant understood the goal was not winning the game, the goal was winning the championship,” Whatley said. “He understood there was still so much more work to do. You still have some more work to do.

“This day, receiving a diploma, does not necessarily make you special but what does make you special is the last four or five years on this campus makes you special. The hustle you had to master each semester makes you special. The friendships you made that you will carry through life make you special and it’s the swag of knowing that you graduated from the home of the Great Debaters. You are a Wildcat. Most of all, it’s knowing that you have been fearfully and wonderfully made and that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world — that’s what makes you special.”

Next up, East Texas Baptist University students will earn their degrees and certifications during two separate commencement ceremonies set for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 8 at the university’s Rogers Spiritual Life Center.

Elysian Fields High School will be the first of the area high schools to have its students walk the stage and take their diplomas during a ceremony set for 7 p.m. on May 14 at Yellowjacket Stadium.

Three area high schools will all celebrate on one big night when Marshall High School hosts its ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on May 21 at Maverick Stadium and both Waskom and Jefferson High Schools host their ceremonies at 8 p.m. on May 21 at Wildcat Stadium and Bulldog Stadium, respectively.

Texas Early College High School in Marshall students will celebrate their high school graduation at 2 p.m. on May 22 at the Panola College campus in the Q.M. Martin Auditorium. Panola College will host a virtual graduation ceremony only on May 6.

Both Hallsville and Harleton High Schools will celebrate senior graduation at 8 p.m. on May 28 at Bobcat Stadium and Wildcat Stadium, respectively.

Texas State Technical College in Marshall celebrated its spring 2021 commencement with a virtual ceremony last week.

Despite rain, show goes on at Hallsville 'Music in the Park'

HALLSVILLE — Saturday’s rain showers didn’t dampen any spirits as the city of Hallsville presented the town’s inaugural “Music in the Park” event, showcasing Hallsville ISD bands.

“We tried to do this last spring,” Mayor Jesse Casey shared. “COVID didn’t allow it.

“COVID’s caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, including our band,” he said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bands weren’t able to have fundraisers or operate their football game concession stand this year. To help support the band program, the mayor provided a decorative donation box for attendees to contribute to Saturday. The band program also offered a chance to win a Yeti cooler for a donation.

“They hadn’t been able to have a fundraiser, so we’re just trying to raise some money for them and trying to help them out,” Mayor Casey said.

“And I just took it up on myself to make this,” he said of the donation box, “and just do some things to try to raise some money.”

The band program is offered sixth through 12th grade. The highlight for seniors, Casey said, is their annual band trip, but due to the pandemic, they weren’t able to raise funds for one this year.

“So we’re trying to help them out,” the mayor said.

In addition to providing a chance to support the band, the Music in the Park event also gave families an opportunity to hear the students belt out their tunes for the first time this year.

“I invited the choir. Well, the choir couldn’t do it from the schools, so the band jumped on it because the parents have not gotten to hear these kids play this year, and so we invited them,” Casey said. “It was very nice.”

City officials were glad to see the crowd Saturday and happy that the rain didn’t cancel the event. Although the early morning games kicked off slow due to the rain, things picked up by the afternoon as the bands began to play.

“We work with some smart people. They know when you start getting the school kids out, the folks end up coming,” Mayor Casey teased. “And their parents and their grandparents hadn’t got to hear them play all year.

“It’s the first time they got to perform, so we’ve had a pretty good crowd,” Mayor Casey said.

Hallsville band director Sherry Morgan thanked all for their support.

“We’re so glad we were able to have a concert outside, so that we didn’t have to social distance in a building and all that kind of stuff,” she said, looking at the crowd.

“That’s what today is all about — letting your parents come hear you play for the first time — and we’re practicing to go to our competition,” Morgan said as she applauded the bands for their efforts.

Increase in sales tax passes in Uncertain city election; Jefferson city council
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UNCERTAIN — A proposed increase in local sales and use tax passed in the city of Uncertain, Saturday, with 75 percent of the vote.

The adoption of a local sales and use tax at the rate of 2 percent passed with a 15 to 5 vote.

The city council voted back in January to propose to increase the sales tax from 1 percent to 2 percent on the May 1 ballot. The motion was made by Councilwoman Trish Jones, and seconded by Councilman Bub Mueller, according to the minute meetings.

The item was the only consideration on the ballot for the city of Uncertain’s May 1 election. City Secretary Judy VanDeventer said they are hoping to get some funding to help maintain streets.

“Streets are a main concern, although we’re hoping to get a grant to help with our streets too, but we won’t know,” Van Deventer explained previously. “Our application is not due until May 3.

“But we haven’t raised our tax at all, so we thought now was the time to do that so we could get some funds set aside, because streets and drainage are high to do,” Van Deventer added. “And for a little town that doesn’t have a big budget, there’s not much you can do without additional money.”

“That’s the main priority. We’re not dedicating it to that, but that’s why we’re needing it,” she said of the additional funds to hopefully help maintain streets.

For the election, a total of 17 of 100 eligible voters cast ballots during early voting; only three turned out for Election Day.

City of Jefferson

In the city of Jefferson, Ward 1 incumbent Jim Finstrom ran unopposed, garnering 17 votes.

Ward 2 councilwoman Tyrani Braddock and challenger Robin Moore tied, both securing 20 votes.

In Ward 3, former councilman and Jefferson Economic Development Corporation board member Richard Turner unseated incumbent Victor Perot with 82 to 78 votes.

On Amtrak's 50th anniversary, Marshall depot board announces year-long commemoration

May 1, 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of Amtrak. In honor of this important milestone for the nation, the Marshall Depot Board of Directors is announcing a year-long commemoration and celebration of Amtrak.

This commemoration will focus on providing information and events that highlight the important role that Amtrak has played and continues to play in providing an essential transportation option for the people of America and the Marshall community. It will also underscore benefits Amtrak provides to urban as well as rural communities, such as Marshall, in connecting cities throughout America through its vast National Network.

“On behalf of the volunteer Board of Directors of the Marshall Depot Inc., we ask people of our community and our region to join us in wishing Amtrak a happy 50th birthday.” said Cathy Wright, current president of the Marshall Depot Board. “We appreciate all that Amtrak does for the people of Marshall and our community.”

Out of the approximately 20,000 cities in America, only about 525 cities are fortunate to have an Amtrak stop and Marshall is fortunate to be one of those cities. Marshall is a stop on the Texas Eagle long-distance route. The Texas Eagle connects San Antonio to Chicago, with stops that include Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Little Rock and St. Louis, in addition to Marshall.

Christina Anderson, who serves as the chairman of the 2021 community fundraising campaign which is currently underway for the nonprofit Marshall Depot, shared the following:

“We thought Amtrak’s 50th anniversary would also provide an excellent opportunity to continue to raise awareness in our community about the remarkable benefits that Amtrak and our historic Marshall Depot bring to our community with regard to transportation, tourism, economic development, quality of life, not to mention just a fun way to travel.”

Anderson also pointed out a benefit distinctive to Marshall that many community members might not be aware of which brings in tens of thousands of dollars of revenue to the local economy each year. That is, Marshall is one of only a few stops on the Texas Eagle route that is a crew change stop.

Anderson explained: “That means that not only do tourists and visitors spend dollars when they travel here by train, but six Amtrak crew members who stay in Marshall each night provide ‘heads on beds’ in a local hotel. This results in at least 2,190 hotel stays in Marshall each year, not counting any visitors or tourists who may travel here by Amtrak and may add additional hotel nights.”

She further explained that these six crew members also spend dollars at local restaurants, stores and with a local van service. In fact, over the past 19 years of Marshall serving as a crew change stop, the total revenue to the local economy for Amtrak’s spending for these crews has been approximately $4.1 million.

“So, in addition to being a transportation hub which connects us to the National Network right in the heart of historic downtown Marshall,” Anderson shared, “the Marshall Depot and Amtrak are also very valuable assets with regard to generating revenue for our community.”

The Marshall Depot is one of only a few depots on the Texas Eagle route that is not maintained and operated by the city it serves. The Marshall Depot is instead maintained by a volunteer board of directors for the nonprofit entity Marshall Depot Inc, which was established in 1990 to assist the city with the Depot.

This volunteer board raises funds, through grants and donations, to maintain the funding needed each year for the operational costs, insurance, maintenance, and ongoing preservation of the Depot and the Texas and Pacific Railway Museum. In the past, the city had assisted with these annual costs.

For those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit Marshall Depot Inc. in the 2021 fundraising campaign, which began in late March, please make a request to receive materials in the mail about this by calling or leaving a message at (903) 938-8373. Or you can make a tax-deductible donation by sending a check to: Marshall Depot Inc., 800 North Washington Avenue, Suite 1, Marshall, Texas 75670.

Alan Loudermilk, who serves on the Marshall Depot Board and is owner of the popular Ginocchio Restaurant which is located adjacent to the Marshall Depot, has graciously offered to have a small display at the restaurant with information, donation cards, and envelopes so that customers who wish to make a donation to the depot can pick up materials while they’re dining at the restaurant.

Cathy Wright also shared that the Marshall Depot Board is making plans and putting in place the necessary health-related precautions to re-open the T & P Railway Museum which is located at the Marshall Depot soon. The museum has been closed during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, Amtrak recently announced that, on May 24, it would restore daily service to long-distance trains, including the Texas Eagle. In 2020, because of the pandemic, Amtrak reduced daily service to three days a week.

Christina Anderson concluded by saying: “Marshall, Texas is blessed to have a long and strong history as a ‘railroad town.’ The I-20 Corridor Council and the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO) join the members of the Marshall Depot Board in wishing all current and past members of the Amtrak family a happy, prosperous 50th Anniversary and a strong and prosperous 50 years to come. As one of the new Amtrak taglines says: “The Future Rides With Us.”