State Capitol HIGHLIGHTS

Texas sues EPA over new ozone standards

The State of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Dec. 23 filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its new ozone standards rule. 

Eight other states have filed separate lawsuits against the new rule: Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

On Dec. 28, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained his reasoning for state’s taking legal action, saying the EPA “has lowered the ozone standard placed on states to a level that is inappropriate and unrealistic and is based on flawed science” and the changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard would impose a serious financial burden on the Texas economy for dubious public health benefit.


Start your new year at the library

Elvis Allen, an eminent historian and Van Zandt native, will present the program at the regular meeting of The Friends of the Van Zandt County Library at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan.11. 

The topic is” The War over the County Seat.” 

“Many natives don’t know much about this facet of Van Zandt History, and newcomers may not even know it happened.  Come to the library and hear this true story,” librarians said.   

Memorials continue to remember friends and loved ones who were library supporters. 

Recently, Stefani Curtis sent a gift in memory of Earlene Jackson Brock.   Marla Baugh and Charles Page also remembered Earlene Brock.  Amy Huddle honored Sue and Butch Hilliard.  Joyce Pirtle’s gift was in memory of Ken A. Davis.  Bryan and Delnia Crum‘s memorial was for Wretha Mae Reding. 

Memorials have provided many extras for the library that make it more useful to patrons, and that are not covered by the operating budget.


Pedestrian safety can be enhanced with smart phone

It goes without saying that many people received smart phones as Christmas presents this year.  And of course it also goes without saying that smart phones are known for distracting drivers and pedestrians when they are driving or walking on our roadways and crossing intersections.  Many people either ignore the recommendations to wear bright reflective clothing when walking on streets and crossing intersections at night or simply find themselves in a situation where they were unable to plan ahead and wear appropriate safety enhanced clothing.  After all most people don’t leave the house thinking well my car will break down on the side of the road today so I better wear my reflective clothing.


Street crews are utility players

I just wanted to take time out to talk to you about our Utility/Streets Crew. These guys are the ones who work on water breaks and sewer stops. They also have many other duties which include mowing right of ways, patching roads, trimming trees and changing street signs. These employees must have a wide range of skills in order complete their jobs.

We have Rick Malone, Joe Adams, Eric Pickens, J. Allen Horton, Anthony Prox, Randy Byars, Tim Spurgeon, Jesse Bates, and Harvey Hayes working in these departments.  

I want to take the time to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication.

Lonny Cluck is the city manager of Canton.


Size doesn’t matter at library

Small but mighty is an apt description for our library. 

As the year-end approaches we have started running some preliminary numbers for our annual statistics and we are very pleased with how things are looking.  Right now we have had close to twelve thousand items checked out from the Grand Saline Public Library this year.  We have given out two hundred and sixty three new library cards this year.  That breaks down to almost four percent of our service population.  Approximately sixty seven percent of the people in our service area have library cards and we would love to see that number increase. 



You can make your own emergency gear

I’ve never traveled to Outer Mongolia. One account I read of was a young man who backpacked through it. He expected no restaurants or hotels. So he packed a couple weeks of food along with him.

One thing he noticed was that it was impossible to litter in that benighted country. Every time he threw away a tin can, some woman would grab it before it hit the ground. For him it was garbage. For her it was a useful article in her household.

Let’s talk about making survival gear out of the things we throw away, instead of going out and buying it. What comes to mind first is a cup. I have half a dozen cups made from tin cans that originally contained food. I saved the cans. True, I filed the sharp edges down a bit, but an empty tin can makes a great cup.


To be worried or not is no worry at all

Years ago I developed a "worry" habit.  Seemed everything about my life caused me concern and I couldn't get a handle on it.  I had a young son, and of course if anything had happened to him, somebody was going to pay.  It was an overall feeling of dread that I could not shake.  A therapist I sought out told me that worry does no good; it only saps your energy and wastes your time.  What I should do, he advised, was to take reasonable precautions, be careful and watchful, and go on with my life. 

When my mother died my older sister was out of town on business.  After she had returned and we had taken care of all that needed doing, she said, "I'm never going out of town again, just in case something else happens."  I told her that she could not live her life waiting for a tragedy to occur. 


Saying goodbye to some good Friends

The Friends of the Library and the Library Board of Trustees works year around to make sure that the library has the support and resources it needs to do the most that we can for the community. 

From requesting donations to hosting events these groups of individuals are always at work for the library. 

Most recently the Friends of the Library bought a new computer and printer for the staff after one of our computers and printers quit working. This allowed us to be able to shift around our existing monitors so we had a monitor to replace one that quit working in the public area.  The Friends of the Library are so important because they are there to help us when we have unexpected expenses such as those come up. 

Their assistance allows us to be able to get the items we need without having to use the operations budget which needed for utilities and library materials. 


Questions remain in case of missing county funds

On Thursday, Dec. 10 former Van Zandt County Tax Assessor-Collector, JJ Minyard was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution to Van Zandt County for stealing close to $180,000 from the pockets of the citizens of this county.

Getting to this point took entirely too long and if it weren’t for current TAC, Shirley Chisham, County Judge Don Kirkpatrick and pressure from other sources, this would have been swept under the rug long ago. 

From my perspective, people on the inside had to know what had happened and they were attempting to make it go away. Either that or certain county officials, employees, outside and inside auditors were simply unqualified and / or too incompetent to perform the duties of their job description.


Precautions to take when solicited for donations

It’s that time of year when everyone is in the spirit of giving and various causes are trying to capitalize on our generosity and garner budget-saving donations before the end of the year.

Charities often target certain groups of people when soliciting donations. Those groups may include past donors and people who have recently attended charitable fundraisers. Such an approach can be very effective. It should come as no surprise that criminals posing as legitimate organizations tend to target specific groups of people as well.

Anyone can be fooled by a fraudulent charity, but such criminals tend to target seniors more than others.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, seniors often make attractive targets to con artists because seniors are most likely to have substantial savings, own their homes and have excellent credit.


Subscribe to RSS - Columns