Five ways to know if there’s an IRS imposter on the phone

A scam by callers reporting themselves to be IRS agents was reported last week by Sheriff Randy Meeks to be active in Hunt County.

The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert this week to provide taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due. Bottom line—they try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.


Resignations bring dramatic close to July meeting

Suzanne Blasingame & Dyde Manning III

Blasingame, Manning end lengthy WPISD tenures

Months of rumors swirling around the community regarding potential turnover in the upper reaches of the Wills Point ISD finally came to a head during the July 16 board of trustees meeting, with the announcement that Superintendent Suzanne Blasingame had tendered her resignation.

Moments after the news was announced, longtime trustee Dyde Manning III took the floor to voice his disappointment and frustration with the board’s actions. Manning offered his own resignation before abruptly walking out prior to the adjournment of the meeting.

Speculation about Blasingame’s position as the district’s superintendent had picked up in intensity in recent months despite the fact that trustees renewed her contract in January following an executive session item listed on the agenda as “Superintendent’s evaluation and contract.”


Disaster loans available to county residents

Van Zandt County property and business owners have qualified for disaster loans from the United States Small Business Administration. Those who wish to apply for a physical damage loan may apply before Aug. 27 and for economic injury loans before Feb. 29, 2016.

Types of disaster loans include home loans, business physical disaster loans and economic injury disaster loans. 

Applicants must have a credit history acceptable to the Small Business Administration.

Home loans are limited to $200,000 for the repair or replacement of real estate and $40,000 to repair or replace personal property with an interest rate of 1.688 percent.

Business loans are limited to $2,000,000 with interest rate of 4.000 percent; and EIDL loans are limited to $2,000,000 for alleviating economic injury caused by the disaster at 4.000 percent with nonprofit organizations at 2.625 percent.


Edgewood ISD raises bar for honor grads

The Edgewood ISD school board has voted to raise the grade point average requirement to be distinguished as an honor graduate.

The current GPA required for an honor graduate is 3.0. Beginning with the 2017– ’18 school year, the required GPA will be 3.5. Raising the requirement this year or next would be unfair to current juniors and seniors, Superintendent Andy Baker said.

The board also discussed possibly creating an additional classification for the top 10 percent of each class. The top 10 percent of a graduation class often receive tuition benefits from colleges and universities.

The change comes because the majority of each class has a 3.0 GPA and are classified as honor graduates, therefore the award isn’t recognizing those students that have truly excelled academically, district officials said. According to information from the district, most schools use a 3.5 GPA as the baseline for recognizing honor graduates.


Grand Saline school board gets tech savvy

The Grand Saline School Board had a meeting full of tech talk as it discussed the purchase of Google Chromebooks July 20.

Lance Caffey, director of information technology, spoke to trustees about the benefits of purchasing the Google Chromebooks for high school students.  All students would be issued a Chromebook at the beginning of the school year.

Superintendent Trish Elliott discussed why she wanted students to have the Chromebooks. “The math department at the high school adopted online curriculum therefore needing something either an iPad or a computer in the classroom,” she said.

The Chromebook costs $200 each, which is cheaper than repairing the laptops the high school currently has, school official said. 

There are 325 students enrolled at the high school and 355 Chromebooks would be purchased so there would be 30 extra in case a student forgets his or her Chromebook at home, Elliott said.


ESD No. 2 to contribute to warning sirens


In the June 19 edition of the Van Zandt News, it was reported that the Grand Saline Economic Development Corporation would help pay for emergency sirens and a backup generator for the city. This information was incorrect. The VZC Emergency Services District No. 2 will help cover the cost of the siren and backup generator.

According to Grand Saline City Administrator Rex White and VZC Emergency Services District No. 2 President Bill Rowton, the total cost to purchase and install a new emergency warning siren system and backup generator for the City of Grand Saline is $58,035. The warning sirens will be heard approximately three miles in circumfrence from the location of the sirens at the Grand Saline volunteer fire department at 101 N. Green Street, Grand Saline.


Dad hopes accident leads to parking safety

Courtesy photo An SUV driven by a 79-year-old woman jumped the curb July 7 and hit 18-year-old Jessica Bunch as she stood in front of the Redbox movie machine in front of CVS in Canton. The Edgewood girl’s father is now calling on retailers to place barricades in front of sidewalk vending machines.

Teen hit at CVS Redbox July 7 still in ICU

Don Bunch has spent most of his time since noon July 7 at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler at the bedside of his 18-year-old daughter Jessica.

Jessica was seriously injured when a 79-year-old woman driving an SUV and pulling into a handicapped parking spot at the CVS in Canton hit the gas instead of the brake, jumped the curb and slammed into the teen who was standing in front of the Redbox movie rental machine.


Chambers County donates to recovery efforts

Photo by David Kapitan Van Zandt County Emergency Management Coordinator and Fire Marshal Chuck Allen presents County Judge Don Kirkpatrick with a $2,000 check received from the people of Chambers County, Van Zandt County’s sister county for sheltering, to be used towards the cleanup efforts of the tornado that damaged the Van area.
On July 2, Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Chuck Allen met with representatives from Chambers County to present Van Zandt County with a $2,000 check for disaster recovery for the citizens of Van Zandt County.
Chambers County is the sister county to Van Zandt during a hurricane operation. In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane that forces the residents of Chambers County to evacuate, Van Zandt County is the home they will come too.

Edgewood appoints interim police chief

Officer Robert Dearing has been appointed interim Edgewood police chief, Mayor Charlie Prater has announced.

Former Police Chief Henry Askew resigned July 7.

Dearing has been with the Edgewood Police Department since November 2006.

Dearing will serve chief until a full-time chief for the city of 1,435 residents is hired, Prater said.

The city is currently accepting applications for the position.

Applicants must have TCOLE certification, pass a written test and pass a detailed background check. Duties will include traffic enforcement, respond to calls, case investigation and enforcement of all federal and state laws in addition to all city ordinances. Benefits of the position include health insurance, take home vehicle and cell phone. The salary will be based on experience and qualifications.

Application packets can be obtained between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at Edgewood City Hall, 107 NE Front St.


Remembering a forgotten battle

Photos by Kat Hinson Danny Hair places his smudging ceremony tools on the memorial in an effort to heal the pain of the spirits of the dead.
Redland site of Cherokee Chief Bowles memorial
Van Zandt County once had a red-haired, freckled-faced Indian chief that led 13 tribes of Indians against the Texas Calvary in
a battle to the death.
In the tip of the southeastern party of VZC close to Redland, a Cherokee Indian chief and Texas Republic President Sam Houston are memorialized by a five-foot granite marker, denoting the location of the Battle of the Neches.
A gruesome death awaited the half Scotch-Irish and Cherokee Indian Chief Duwa’li Bowles when he took a stand against Texas Republic President Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar who ordered that all Cherokee Indians be removed from Texas in the 1830s, 
thus forcing Bowles and his tribe from their homes and land previously given to them by Houston.


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