Brown County Youth Fair kicks off Monday

The Brown County Youth Fair will kick off Monday with the clothing divisions being checked in from 8-9:30, with appearance judging at 10 am. Fashion show practice will be held immediately following the judging, with the fashion show Tuesday evening at 6:30 at the Home-Ec building at the fairgrounds.

There will be a livestock show for special needs kids Tuesday morning at 11 am. The Ag-Mechanics show will be Tuesday at 2 pm. Livestock divisions kick off Wednesday. All activities will be at the Brown County Youth Fairgrounds on Hwy 377 South in Brownwood.

Mayor Haynes prepares ‘State of the City’ address

Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes will give his annual “State of the City” address during the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon, which will be held Friday, Jan. 19, from 11:30-1 at the Coggin Avenue Baptist Church Connections Center. Mayor Haynes addresses the chamber concerning the state of the city of Brownwood every January during the chamber’s monthly luncheon, which is held at Coggin Avenue to accommodate the larger than normal crowd.

Those interested in attending the luncheon must RSVP by calling the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce at 646-9535.

Each year during the state of the city address, Mayor Haynes discusses sales tax revenue, property values, economic and retail development, and future projects for the city.

No, the City of Brownwood did not pay $400,000 to force the local Kroger out of business

Several local residents are questioning Brownwood’s economic development policies on social media after a report posted by the satire site, The Brownwood Examiner, accused the city of paying $400,000 in incentives to bring United and Aldi to town to directly compete with Kroger.

While the city did spend nearly $400,000 through infrastructure improvements and land and fill dirt donations to aid in the construction of the United Supermarket, Brownwood officials say that the city first approached Kroger with an offer to aid in construction of a Signature store.

Following through on a campaign promise of retail development, Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes led the Retail Advisory Council, a coalition consisting of the Brownwood City Council, the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce, to contract with the Retail Coach, a retail consulting firm that conducts market research, then connects cities with potential retailers.

Research provided by the retail coach revealed that a large segment of the local population was of retirement age, and that many local residents traveled out of town to purchase groceries, meaning that there was a gap in the grocery market for another major grocery store.

In a Facebook response to the Examiner’s post, Mayor Stephen Haynes said:

Actually, when the Retail Coach identified grocery markets as a need, I asked them for a contact with Kroger. They supplied one and I contacted the company. I told Kroger we would be interested in helping them update or replace the store. Kroger’s representative politely declined saying that Kroger’s only interest in our market was adding a fuel station. These communications occurred before anyone reached out to United.

After Kroger declined the invitation, city promoters began reaching out to major grocery chains, including H-E-B and Target. At that time, most were only interested in developing new locations along the I-35 Corridor in Central Texas.

Contact was later made with United, which resulted in the agreement to open a United Supermarket in Brownwood, contingent on the infrastructure improvements.

With Kroger closing, MDD springs into action

When news broke Wednesday that Kroger decided to close its Brownwood location, officials with the Brownwood Municipal Development District immediately went to work looking for ways to help the impacted employees find new jobs, and for developers to fill the retail space that will be vacated by Kroger in March.

“People are our first priority,” said Marshall McIntosh with the Brownwood Municipal Development District. “As an MDD,  our most important thing is what we do with those jobs, whether that’s working with Kroger to see how we can transition those jobs, to holding a job fair tailored to those employees like we did with the Ron Jackson unit a few years ago, or working through Demand Staff or Texas Workforce Commission.”

McIntosh said the MDD has already contacted developers with whom the city has made connections through the ICSC conventions, with some interest being shown.

With an unemployment rate hovering around four percent, it should be easy to find new jobs for the employees laid off by Kroger’s closing. 61 employees will be affected, though some will be eligible for severance packages.

Meanwhile, McIntosh said it could be a challenge to find a new business to take over the Kroger facility, as a four percent unemployment rate means potential employers could face challenges finding qualified workers.

Kroger announced the closure of the Brownwood store Wednesday. The store will close in March. Inventory will be marked down as the store seeks to empty its shelves prior to closing.

Brown County Youth Fair features new special needs show, new sale time

The Brown County Youth Fair will feature a show for special needs kids this year. The show for special needs kids will be Tuesday at 11 am. Miss Brown County Fair Association Tara Glasscock told the KXYL Morning News that the show will provide an amazing experience for the kids, as well as those helping in the show.

Also changing this year will be the time of the awards and premium sale. Traditionally held Saturday at 5 p.m., this year the awards ceremony and premium sale will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at the livestock show barn. Glassock said the change was so that the sale didn’t run past midnight as it has in previous years.

The Brown County Youth Fair kicks off Monday, Jan. 8 with the home-economics divisions. There will also be an ag-mechanics show on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Livestock divisions will begin Wednesday. All activities will be at the Brown County Youth Fairgrounds on US Hwy. 377 South in Brownwood.

Largent, Lang debate local representation

The race for State Representative for HD 60 got into full swing today as the three candidates in the Republican Party presented their campaigns on the KXYL Morning News. Granbury ISD Superintendent Dr. Jim Largent said he entered the race over frustration that State Rep. Mike Lang was not representing local interests, saying that Rep. Lang barely interacted with local leaders.

“Go ask your mayor, your city councilman, your county judges and commissioners, go ask those people, ‘How many times have you had a discussion with Mike?'” Largent said. “What I’m getting when I go around our district, is that once Mike was elected, he was an absentee legislator.”

Lang countered, drawing a distinction between being absentee, and disagreeing with local leaders over issues.

“We’ve been out as much as possible talking to all the elected officials we can,” Lang said. “They come down to Austin, they have groups that come down to Austin. We speak to them quite a bit. There’s a difference between being absent, and truly understanding what’s going on. You may say I’m absent or not there, but that’s because you disagree with the way I feel about local spending and local control. Local spending is out of control.”

The third candidate in the race, Coleman resident Greg Risse, bypassed the debate over Rep. Lang’s presence in the district, instead focusing on his own platform of increasing healthcare benefits for teachers, and raising teacher and first responder retirement pay. Risse also discussed his support for border security and immigration reform.

The three candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for State Representative for HD 60. With no Democrats running, the winner of the Republican Primary will be the presumed winner in November. Primary election day is March 6. Early voting will be Feb. 19-March 2.

Sheriff’s Office released names of hunters killed by carbon monoxide

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office released the names of the three individuals killed by carbon monoxide at a local hunting camp. Deceased are:

  • John Glass, Sr., 69, of Brownwood
  • Bryan Glass, 41, of Temple
  • Cody Glass, 13 of Troy

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office reports that the three were found in a box trailer that had been converted to a deer cabin which was heated by a propane heater. The Sheriff’s Office warns residents that use propane heaters to make sure they have plenty of ventilation, and that they use a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often marked by symptoms of headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and lack of consciousness. If these symptoms appear, move to an area of fresh air and seek medical treatment.

Commissioners Court declines Turner contract

The Brown County Commissioners declined to vote on a contract with Bob Turner of Rural Issues Consulting for legislative consulting services during their regular meeting held Tuesday morning at the Brown County Courthouse. Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Traweek made the motion to renew Turner’s contract, but the motion died for lack of a second.

The meeting marked the second time that a local entity has declined to renew Turner’s contract. Last month, the Early City Council declined to renew a contract with Turner after a similar motion died for lack of a second.

With Brown County and Early dropping out of the contract, the City of Brownwood, the Brown County Water Improvement District and the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce could be on the hook for a greater share of Turner’s $44,000 fee for serving the local area in the Texas Legislature.

Brownwood city officials say that as the area’s legislative liason, Turner works to defeat any legislation that would have a negative impact on the area, while promoting legislation that would benefit the area. Opponents of the contract say that the agreement amounts to taxpayer-funded lobbying, by which local governments use taxpayer funds to pay a lobbyist who lobbies for their ability to raise taxes.

Arctic air to remain in place Tuesday, no snow expected

The National Weather Service reports that the arctic air mass that produced sub-freezing temperatures will remain in place until Wednesday, keeping daytime temperatures below freezing Tuesday with the overnight low sinking into the lower teens. The northwest air flow will keep things dry, meaning no precipitation is expected over the next few days. Temperatures will begin warming on Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the lack of precipitation, freezing temperatures can still result in frozen moisture on area bridges, so caution is advised while driving. Residents are also advised to follow fire safety guidelines, including allowing plenty of space around heaters, and never powering a heater with an extension cord.

Commissioners to take up Turner contract Tuesday, no action expected in Early

The Brown County Commissioners Court will consider whether to renew a contract with Bob Turner of Rural Issues Consulting when they meet Tuesday at 9 am at the Brown County Courthouse.

Turner, a former state representative, has served Brown County, as well as the cities of Brownwood and Early, and the local chambers of commerce and economic development corporations as a liason to the Texas Legislature. Officials describe Turner’s job as watching for legislation that would negatively impact Brown County, either by design, or by unintended consequences. For his services, Turner is paid $44,000 by the partnership of local entities.

While local officials say Turner is a liason, opponents to his contract say that the agreement amounts to nothing more than taxpayer funded lobbying. Proposed legislation in 2017 would have banned cities from hiring lobbyists with taxpayer funds.

The Commissioners Court passed on considering Turner’s contract during their last meeting, as some members of the court were absent. The item was re-agenda’ed for Tuesday’s meeting so it could be considered by the full court.

The Early City Council declined to renew their part in the partnership with Turner at their last meeting. The motion to renew failed for a lack of a second. Early City Administrator Tony Aaron told KXYL last Thursday that he has received no instructions to put the item back on the agenda, and will not bring it back up for consideration unless instructed to do so by a council member.