Council candidates debate Reunion resurrection

Whatever happened to the Brownwood Reunion?

That question was posed on the Facebook page of Ward 1 City Council Candidate Patrick McLaughlin’s page. McLaughlin also polled his audience as to whether they’d like to see the Brownwood Reunion make a comeback.

Incumbent Ward 1 City Councilman H.D. Jones, who is seeking re-election his seat, posted an answer on Facebook explaining that the Reunion was originally intended to be a one-time event, which continued beyond the initial year due to the success of the event. Over the years, revenue declined, and thus the Reunion had to be cancelled, according to the post.

During Tuesday night’s candidates’ forum hosted by the Pecan Valley Republican Women, the two candidates’ were asked whether they would support the return of the Brownwood Reunion.

McLaughlin stated he would support it, saying that it helped put Brownwood on the map, and that he has experience in putting on events like the Reunion. McLaughlin is involved with the Brownwood Jaycees, who put on the Lone Star Expo and Rattlesnake Roundup every year.

Jones stated that he would not favor it’s return, citing the financial losses reaching into the tens of thousands to the city.

The candidates also discussed parks funding, with both candidates supporting the construction of new splash pads at three city parks. However, the two differed on how the project should have been funded, with McLaughlin saying the splash pads should have been funded through donations and grants, while Jones said that donations and grants are not sufficient to fully fund parks projects.

A full video of the forum can be found on the Pecan Valley Republican Women’s Facebook page.

‘Loaded’ Empower Texans question sparks controversy at candidates’ forum

A question about the candidates’ opinion of Empower Texans led to a controversial exchange between candidates for mayor at Tuesday’s municipal candidates’ forum hosted by the Pecan Valley Republican Women.

The question, posed by moderator and KXYL personality Leland Acker, was, “What is your opinion of Empower Texans?”

The question stemmed from answers given during a previous candidates forum in which candidate Mike Tittle addressed the involvement of Empower Texans and their employees in his campaign. Critics of the question labeled it as “loaded.”

Mike Tittle, former 3M plant manager who is challenging Mayor Haynes in his bid for re-election said that Empower Texans is an organization that supports God, faith and family. He then solicited the support of Empower Texans by publicly giving his cell phone number.

Mayor Stephen Haynes responded by saying that Empower Texans is a non-profit group funded by two billionaires who do not want to pay property taxes. While saying that he understood their opposition to property taxes, Haynes said that property taxes fund local government, and not state government, adding that if property taxes were used to fund state government, then Empower Texans would target the Texas Legislature.

Tittle then returned to the mic, asking why the mayor did not support “God, faith and family,” while accusing the mayor of being tied to the rich and the powerful. Mayor Haynes then rebutted, saying that he would not respond to the first comment, but added that he will not apologize for having friends in the business community.

A full video of the candidates’ forum can be viewed on the Pecan Valley Republican Women’s Facebook page.

Ranger tax annexation debated during mayoral candidate forum

The first question posed to Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes involved his support of legislation enabling the Ranger College tax annexation election, where more than 90 percent of voters rejected a proposal that would have annexed Brown County into Ranger’s taxing district, thus creating another layer of property taxes on local residents.

That election, which took place last November, was made possible by legislation supported by Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes.

In defending his support of the legislation, while opposing the annexation, Mayor Haynes said there were a lot of promises made when that legislation passed that never came to fruition.

“At the time that I testified in support of that legislation, the rate that was being proposed was 5 cents, not 11 cents, and not 42 cents,” Haynes said. “Ranger was telling me that we would have control of the board, and by virtue of having control of the board, we’d have control of the tax rate. They said they were moving their headquarters down here, which would mean jobs. It meant big infrastructure and lots of students.

“Fast forward four years, there was no discussion about control of the board, there was no plans for a campus, and there were no promises of jobs and no promises of students. So, I did not support that position.”

Mike Tittle, former 3M plant manager who is challenging Haynes in his bid for re-election, told a crowd of approximately 100 people that he was opposed to all annexation.

“Annexation is always wrong,” Tittle said. “Any type of county wide annexation will hurt our factories, which will hurt our jobs and hurt our citizens. So, I will always be opposed to Ranger annexation.”

Haynes and Tittle are campaigning for Mayor of Brownwood, a post Haynes has held since first being elected in 2010. During the forum, hosted at the Brownwood Country Club Friday by the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, the two debated Brownwood’s debt, and spending levels.

Haynes told the crowd that spending has increased this year less than 1.6 percent, which is less than state and federal spending increases. Tittle pointed out that Brownwood’s city expenditures have increased $5 million over the past six years.

Tittle told the crowd that Brownwood has record-high debt. Haynes countered by saying that Brownwood’s debt service was less than 10 percent of the budget.

Election day for the Brownwood mayoral election will be Saturday, May 5.

Burn Ban Lifted

The Brown County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to lift the burn ban in Brown County. A burn ban had been in place due to high winds and tinder dry vegetation, but recent rains abated the wildfire risk. The Commissioners Court will revisit the burn ban every Monday during their regular meetings, however, for the time being, there is no burn ban in Brown County.

Empty Bowls slated for Thursday

The Good Samaritan Ministries’ “Empty Bowls Project” will be held from 11-2 and 4:30-7 p.m. Thursday at the Brownwood Coliseum. The event raises hunger awareness by allowing participants to select a hand-painted ceramic bowl, then enjoying a meal of soup and crackers. Participants can then take the bowl home as a reminder of those in the Brown County area who suffer from hunger.

Cost to participate is $10, with tickets available at the door. Tickets are also available at the Good Samaritan office and online at GoodSamBWD.org.