Master gardeners to host rose program

The Free State Master Gardener Association (Van Zandt County) will host a rose program at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Farm Bureau Building, 281 E. Hwy. 243, Canton.

Mark Chamblee of Chamblee’s Rose Nursery will be the guest speaker. His program will be titled “How to Grow Beautiful, Low-Maintenance Roses In Your Landscape.”

The program is free and open to the public and will show those in attendance “how to grow beautiful, low-maintenance roses in your landscape,” organizers said.

Registration begins at 5:30 p.m.

The Texas Master Gardener program is an educational volunteer program sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service of Texas A&M University. 


WP five-year reunion rapidly approaching

Event to honor 1965 State Championship team

Sept. 26 will mark a special day for graduates of Wills Point schools, with members of the local Alumni Association Board of Directors planning the latest five-year reunion for all graduates that have passed through the halls of the WPISD.

The 2015 event is expected to be bigger and better than previous versions of the event, with the added draw of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 State Champion Wills Point Tiger football team.

The Alumni Board – including President James Harris, Vice President Damon Davis and members Tom Hubbard, Sammie Gunter, Keeta Lybrand, Darlene Kelley, Jackie Ragland, Sundy Rodgers and Nancy Morris – recently announced the event, explaining how graduates can register and listing expected activities for the day of.

To register online for the event, visit the website


Jones questions 2015-'16 tax rate, budget

During the first public hearing on the 2015-’16 proposed tax rate, Ronnie Jones spoke to commissioners concerning the proposed budget and tax rate.

The proposed tax rate is $0.485847 per $100 valuation which is the same as last year’s tax rate.

The effective tax rate is $0.47173823 per $100 valuation.

The rollback rate is $.48586097 per $100 valuation.

Jones asked commissioners for transparency regarding funding for capital murder trials.

Jones stated that the commissioners had proposed a budget with “nothing for capital murder trials” for the fiscal year and wanted to know “where the extra money was going if not to capital murder trials.”

Jones also asked for clarity on the budget and told commissioners that the “public needs to know exactly where the funds were going.”

Jones explained that the 2.5 cent tax rate increase in 2013 was “due to capital murder trials.”


Grand jury clears deputies of charges

Sheriff speaks out on video incidents after investigations

A Hunt County Grand Jury has cleared sheriff’s deputies of charges in connection with incidents earlier this year.

One in March involved a pregnant woman and sparked widespread outrage when a short video was released on social media. A second incident from November 2014 involved two deputies and an inmate.

Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks spoke out this week on both cases.

“In reference to the Deanna Robinson incident, I wish to point out that as of today, no official complaint has been filed with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office in reference to the incident that was disseminated through social media. I was notified on Easter Sunday that there was a video on social media. That was my only notification. We immediately opened an internal affairs investigation into the incident on our own,” Meeks said in a news release.


City announces King’s resignation

The City of Wills Point joined a crowded club in Van Zandt County by announcing the resignation of Chief of Police Kirk King effective Sept. 4.

Edgewood and Canton found themselves in a similar position recently with Canton announcing this week that the city had promoted Lt. Brad Allison from within to serve as its next police chief.

In a press release announcing the resignation, city explained, “Kirk King tendered his resignation as chief of police with the city of Wills Point.”

In his statement to City Manager Pam Pearson, King stated, ‘As much as I have wanted to continue the restructuring of the Wills Point Police Department, I have other matters that also deserve my undivided attention.’ Kirk King started with the city as chief in December of last year. He replaced Scott Johnson who retired after many years of service. Sergeant Rob Powell will be instrumental in running day to day operations until the interim chief is announced.”


Residents invited to upcoming Watch meetings

The Van Zandt County Precinct Watch Program meets by precinct at the following times and locations in September:

Precinct One meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at 304 S. Houston St. in Grand Saline.

Precinct Two meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Elm Grove Church, 979 VZCR 2708.

Precinct Three meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Wills Point Community Room, 134 N. 4th St., Wills Point

Precinct Four will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Calendar Lake meeting room.

Visitors are welcome, PWP Chairman Buster Leavell said


19-year CPD veteran named new chief

Lt. Brad Allison

Lt. Brad Allison, 45, has been selected to be the next chief of the Canton Police Department.

Allison will take over the CPD’s top spot when current Chief Mike Echols officially retires Aug. 31. Echols has been with the department since 1987. He has been chief since October 2007.

Allison has been with CPD 19 years and has worked his way through its ranks starting out as a patrolman before becoming a corporal, sergeant and then lieutenant. He has spent the last two and a half years as a narcotics officer.

Originally from West Monroe, La., Allison said he grew up and wanted to be a police officer. “From the time I was a little boy, I always wanted to be a policeman,” he said.

He moved to Texas at age 18 and while working for a trucking firm eventually putting himself through the police academy.


Fruitvale recognizes special ed supervisor

Rebecca Bain attended her first Fruitvale ISD board meeting as the new superintendent of Fruitvale ISD and her first agenda item at the meeting was to recognize Linda Eddy.

Upon the dissolution of the Van Zandt County Special Education Co-op, Fruitvale promoted Eddy to oversee Fruitvale’s Special Education Program.

“Ms. Eddy was instrumental in the organization and success of the program. Our special needs students are being served better than ever before under Ms. Eddy’s supervision,” Bain said.

Eddy told the board it wasn’t just her but the entire Fruitvale staff that joined together to make the program a success.


Cowboy show benefits tornado victims

The Cross Brand Cowboy Church of Tyler will be hosting a benefit for Van tornado victims at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30.

R.J. Vandygriff will be presenting his award winning one-act play “The Cowboy Ain’t Dead Yet.” The show depicts the American cowboy from the early trail drive days of the 1800s to today’s modern rancher.

Vandygriff is a 2014 Country Music Association of Texas Hall of Famer and a2013 Western Male Vocalist of the year. He has appeared on stage with George Strait, Garth Brooks, Alabama, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Red Steagall. He also appeared or worked in more than 100 episodes of “Walker, Texas Ranger.

Van ISD will be honored at the Saturday performance and food – hamburgers and fries – will be served before the matinee performance.

Admission for both performances and the cost of food will be a love offering with proceeds all going to those in the Van area affected by the May 10 tornado.


Precinct Watch grant

Courtesy photo

The TVEC Charitable Foundation has awarded a grant in the amount of $2,500 to the Van Zandt County Precinct Watch Program. The foundation is funded by donations from Operation Round Up, a voluntary program that allows TVEC members to round up their monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. The portion that is rounded up goes to the TVEC Charitable Foundation and may be used to award grant requests to local charitable organizations.  TVEC Public Relations Representative Joy Long made the check presentation to PWP Chairman Buster Leavell, center, and Vice Chairman Tim Ball.


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