Darsey Furniture owner, Charley Darsey, gives $25 cash to Tammy Cousins, winner of the Houston County Courier "You Make the Call" Football Contest. Entries are in the Sunday issue of the Courier through football season and can be turned in by 5 p.m. on Friday each week at the Courier office in downtown Crockett for a chance to win $25. All perfect entries are also entered into a drawing for $100 at the end of the season.
The Davy Crockett Regional Juvenile Detention Center was targeted by high-ranking State Sen. John Whitmire of Houston just days before its grand opening as unnecessary as far as the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) is concerned.
Whitmire, powered with the clout that comes with being ranked first in seniority in the Senate, put a quick stop to an anticipated contract with TJJD that would have provided a substantial population for the facility.
On Thursday, Sept. 4, Cornerstone Programs, the operator of the Crockett center, informed local staff that they will "temporarily close" the Davy Crockett Regional Juvenile Detention Center at the end of this month.
Cornerstone President Joe Newman said in a phone interview on Friday, Sept. 5, that his team now is in the process of notifying the parole officers of the 15 kids currently located at the Crockett facility.
Since learning that Whitmire had halted the anticipated transfer of TJJD youth to Crockett, Cornerstone Programs has obtained contracts with county juvenile probation offices in the Deep East Texas region.
Local officials, as well as State Rep. Trent Ashby and State Sen. Robert Nichols have focused their energy on trying to help Cornerstone obtain those state contracts that Whitmire and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee he chairs have blocked.
Houston County Judge Erin Ford is one local official who is actively trying to persuade the governor's office to intervene. After several attempts speak with someone in the governor's office, he reported Friday that he has a phone conference scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8 with the governor's staff representative for criminal justice.
"I'm still dumbfounded and find it incredible that one individual can effectively control a state agency (TJJD)," Ford said.
"We will continue to do everything we can to secure those (TJJD) contracts and reopen in short order," Newman said. "That's our goal.The staff is great. They're still working hard and doing a good job in spite of the circumstances."
U.S. District 8 Congressman Kevin Brady came to Lovelady for a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 2.
Approximately 50 people meet with Brady at the Lovelady Old Gym to hear him share thoughts about scandals at the IRS and Veterans Affairs and on the crises at the nation's borders.
The first issue Brady discussed was the scandal at Veterans Affairs (VA).
"If it is any group in America that deserves health care and to be treated right, it's our veterans; they have sacrificed so much for us," Brady said.
He indicated the veteran's health care scandal has reached about 18 VA regional centers with three or four of those in Texas.
"Of 330 bills passed by the House of Representatives, with most related to jobs, getting the budget under control and getting people back to work, none were acted on by the senate, except they finally acted on the VA bill and we got it signed by the President," Brady said.
According to Brady the bill will: • Allocate $5 billion to hire more doctors and nurses at VA clinics; • Open 27 new VA clinics; • Give the new VA Secretary the ability to immediately fire "bad apples"; • Help nearly 1 million veterans who are backlogged and waiting for care; • Give veterans the option to see a local doctor or use a local hospital if they have to wait more than 30 days to see a VA doctor or drive more than 40 miles to a VA clinic.
"We have to take care of them -- whatever it takes," Brady said of veterans.
The second issue discussed by Brady was the IRS. Brady is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee who is jointly investigating the IRS.
This investigation has revealed that the IRS has targeted conservative groups and their donors for over two years. According to Brady these groups included those standing for the Constitution and those that were pro-Israel and pro-life.
"Some disagreed with the way government was run. So what, in America are you supposed to be able to do that," Brady said.
Brady thinks it strange that out of thousands of IRS computers, only five containing emails requested during the investigation crashed. His committee has forwarded recommendations to the Attorney General for the prosecution of Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS. The House has passed legislation asking for a special prosecutor.
"The White House has stonewalled us for over a year," Brady said. "The reason we are doing this is that it is not (a) Republican or Democrat (issue). The IRS has power to destroy families and lives.
"You can't give any president or government the power of the IRS to silence the voice of active Americans who simply want a say in their government.
"Our goal is to get the truth, hold people accountable and make sure this does not happen again."
Finally, Brady talked about the border crises and immigration issues which directly affect Texas.
"By the new year, almost 200,000 kids will have made a 1,000-mile journey without their family, with the false hope that once they get their feet on U.S. soil, a permit will be waiting for them. There is no permit waiting for them," Brady said.
He is convinced this crises started several years ago when President Barack Obama signed an executive order deferring the deportation of certain children.
According to Brady, drug cartels and coyotes are using this loop hole to smuggle kids into the U.S. at a cost to their families of $3,000 to $9,000 each.
Brady told his audience that the House Republicans sent a team to Central America to talk to parents and governments.
"We were told they wanted their kids back," he said.
The House Republicans have passed legislation that will close the loop hole that allows kids to come in, hold them at the border, hear cases within 14 days, and reunite them with their parents, according to Brady.
"My view is," Brady said, "You have to shut the back door of illegal immigration so we can keep the front door of legal immigration open."
Brady gave an opportunity for a few questions that covered a wide range of subjects such as the EPA and wetlands, NSA spying on American citizens, checks and balances in government and border fencing. He then headed to Centerville for his next town meeting hall meeting. Brady tries to hold at least 50 town hall meetings per year in his Congressional District which includes all of Houston, Trinity, Madison, Walker, San Jacinto, Montgomery, Grimes and parts of Leon and Harris counties.
In opening comments, Brady said he likes to stay close to the people he represents.
Brady never moved to Washington and lives in Montgomery County with his wife, Cathy, and his two adopted sons, Will, who is 15, and Sean, who is 12.
He has logged over 2 million miles commuting to Washington each week.
"I am starting my fifth round trip to the moon," Brady said about flying so much.
One week after Mayor Robert Meadows and Interim City Administrator Mitzi Thomas terminated Public Works Director Kelli McChesney, the Crockett City Council unanimously voted Tuesday, Sept. 2, not to renew its interlocal agreement with Houston County for the position of environmental control officer.
Currently, Ashley Perry holds that position. She works part-time in the City of Crockett and part-time in the rest of Houston County.
After reading the resolution to terminate the city-county agreement, Meadows said, "We intend to retain the position."
Precinct 5 Councilmember Mike Marsh asked what that meant, and Meadows responded that the city thinks it can hire someone to work part-time for the city.
Meadows then praised Perry, saying she has done a great job and the decision has nothing to do with her performance.
Unofficial plans are for Perry to work full-time for Houston County (excluding Crockett).
McChesney has requested an appeal board hearing regarding her termination the previous week. The city will schedule a hearing in the next 25 days, according to a letter she received from Meadows on Tuesday night.
Without a doubt, country legend Merle Haggard "still has it", as he demonstrated before a crowd of 1,100 at the Crockett Civic Center Monday night, Sept. 1. Many in the audience were from outside Houston County. The Labor Day concert opened the 24th season for the Piney Woods Fine Arts Association.
Those who attended the concert said Haggard, although he is 77 years old and doesn't hang around after the show for any after-parties, sounds as good as he did when he was young - "great".
The next PWFAA event that is expected to draw tourists to the county is the annual Polka Fest at Houston County Airport on Sept. 13.
Other Labor Day entertainment took place at Salmon Lake Thursday - Sunday, Aug. 28-31.
The Bluegrass Festival once again drew large crowds from within Houston County and from across the United States.
Kudos went to Terri Meadows (right), court coordinator manager for the County Court at Law, during the Tuesday, Aug. 26 meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court. Meadows recently graduated from the Texas Court Management Program. "Terri Meadows is an outstanding court coordinator manager who has been recognized for her expertise by the State of Texas. I am so pleased that she has dedicated herself to continue to advance her training and knowledge and to serve with professionalism in Houston County," County Court at Law Judge Sarah Clark (left) said. (Photo by Robert Neel)