Howard Payne University graduate Isaac Sommers prepares for Harvard Law School

BROWNWOOD – June 4, 2018 – Months before graduating from Howard Payne University in the spring of 2018, Isaac Sommers, of Brownwood,  was already readying himself for the next step in his academic career.

He graduated May 5 from HPU with a double major in the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy: The Program for Civic Leadership and Public Policy, and social science with an emphasis in jurisprudence.

Sommers was informed of his acceptance to Harvard Law School in March. He said he is quite excited about pursuing his unique opportunity this fall.

“Harvard Law School has plenty of resources and many areas of focus in terms of what is available to study, which will open a lot of doors for me,” said Sommers.

He said his educational path has been influenced through the instruction he has received at HPU.

“I’m interested in going into public service and working in government,” said Sommers. “The Honors Academy is very oriented toward people who want to go that route. The focus on civic leadership and public policy offered in the Honors Academy are two things that are very much related to public service.”

Dr. Matthew McNiece, Guy D. Newman Honors Academy director and associate professor of history and government, said that Sommers has been an excellent student in the Honors Academy.

“We’re incredibly proud of Isaac’s accomplishments both inside and outside the classroom,” said Dr. McNiece. “He is a tremendous example of the Honors Academy’s motto, ‘Facing the Future with Faith and Knowledge,’ and we are eager to see how God continues to use him for great things both at Harvard and beyond.”

During his time at HPU, Sommers was very active in campus activities and student leadership roles. He was particularly involved in Student Government (SGA), serving as a freshman class senator in fall 2014, sophomore class presiding senator from fall 2015 through spring 2016, SGA vice president from fall 2016 through spring 2017 and SGA president from fall 2017 through spring 2018.

Sommers was also the captain of the Moot Court team, was the vice president of Gamma Beta Phi national honors and service society and participated in Student Speaker Bureau for several years.

“Through his involvement in SGA, Isaac has faithfully served as an advocate for HPU students and the entire HPU community,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president of student life and dean of students. “His love for the Lord, commitment to learning, sense of humor and concern for others have positively influenced our campus.”

His alma mater has also had a personal impact on Sommers.

“I started off much more introverted than I am now, though I still consider myself a pretty strong introvert,” he said. “HPU gave me the opportunity to come out of my shell in that sense and embrace the community that it has, because there really is a great community here.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at

Texas Comptroller’s Office Begins Operation of Texas Bullion Depository

(AUSTIN) —Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today the official opening of the Texas Bullion Depository, the first state-administered precious metals depository in the country.

“We’re proud that the nation’s first state-administered bullion depository is now a reality — this is a big day for Texans who want to secure their precious metal assets,” said Hegar, who became the depository’s first customer. “I deposited some gold. The process was easy, and I hope people will go to and set up an account.”

“I can’t think of anyplace else in the world that could create a bullion depository this way, and I’ve heard from legislators across the country who want to do what we are doing, from Tennessee to Utah,” said State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, author of the legislation that created the depository as a state agency under the Comptroller’s purview. “We will see a lot of financial interest in this depository, with gold, silver and other commodities coming here.”

Depositors can buy bullion from a dealer and have it shipped to the depository directly or send in precious metals they already own. Metals admitted to the depository will undergo three types of non-destructive testing, including a density scan to ensure purity.

Depository personnel will take a photo of metals upon deposit, and that digital image will be displayed on the depositor’s online account dashboard. The depository will accept deposits of gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium.

In 2017, the Comptroller’s office partnered with Lone Star Tangible Assets (LSTA) as the vendor to build and operate the depository. LSTA, a Texas-based company, is operating a highest-rated, Class 3 vault as the depository’s initial location.

“Private depositories are not regulated, but ours is overseen by the same agency that has helped grow the Texas economy to the 10th largest in the world,” said Matthew Ferris, LSTA chairman. “You can feel comfortable storing your precious metals with us, knowing that we test and verify your items before they are deposited to your account.”

Planning for a permanent home for the Texas Bullion Depository began earlier this year, at a site in Leander that should be completed in 2019. Tom Smelker, director of the Comptroller’s Treasury Operations Division, was named administrator of the depository in 2017.

“This facility is going to have state-of-the-art security, layered with cameras, alarms and biometric access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Smelker said. “And everything you store with us will be completely insured.”

“Combining the entrepreneurial spirit and technical expertise of the private sector with the trusted oversight of the Comptroller’s office is what makes this so special,” Hegar added. “Texans can rest easy knowing their precious metals are right here in the Lone Star State.”

For more information, go to

Residents honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

It is still unknown whether the monument stones that fell at the Central Texas Veterans Memorial were knocked over by high winds, or by vandals, but the absence of the stones did not prevent Brown County Residents from paying their respects to local men and women who gave their lives in the defense of this country while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Harold Steiber told the crowd that the tragedy of the broken monuments has been turned into a blessing, as donations have poured in from all over the United States to restore the memorial. Steiber announced that replacement stones have already been ordered.

Every year, residents gather for a Memorial Day Observance at the Central Texas Veterans’ Memorial, which is set up at Memorial Park across from Brownwood Regional Medical Center. Speakers this year included Mayor Stephen Haynes and General Dan Locker.

Camp Bowie Aquatic Center to Open in 2 Weeks

The Camp Bowie Family Aquatic Center will open Tuesday May 29th.  We will be offering two daily swim sessions and will also have extended hours on Tuesdays & Thursdays until 8:00pm for family swim time. Wiggins Pool will open the regular hours on Tuesday May 29th which will be Tuesday thru Sunday 2:00pm to 5:45pm.

o   MONDAY          CLOSED

o   TUESDAY          Session I  – 10:15 am to 1:45 pm

   Session II  – 2:15 pm to 8:00 pm

o   WEDNESDAY    Session I  – 10:15 am to 1:45 pm

   Session II  – 2:15 pm to 5:45 pm

o   THURSDAY        Session I  – 10:15 am to 1:45pm

   Session II  – 2:15 pm to 8:00 pm

o   FRIDAY              Session I  – 10:15 am to 1:45 pm

   Session II  – 2:15 pm to 5:45 pm

o   SATURDAY        Session I  – 10:15 am to 1:45pm

   Session II  – 2:15 pm to 5:45pm

o   SUNDAY            1:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Admission Fees

  • $2.00 ages 12 & under
  • $3.00 ages 13 & up
  • $1.75 for Day Cares & Senior Citizens
  • Pool Punch cards are available! (12 visits for the cost of 10 visits)
  • Rental of Pool Pavilion available at Admission Window after first hour of opening.

Lap Swimming (starting June 5th)

  • Tuesday thru Friday
  • Hours 7:00am to 8:30am (1 ½ hours)
  • Standard Admission Rates will apply. Punch Cards must be purchased in advance.
  • No other features will be open during Lap Swimming

For more information please visit

Workshop to Outline Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities Set for May 22nd

The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and the America’s Small Business Development Center are offering a business workshop that will outline the benefits of hiring people with disabilities on Tuesday, May 22nd from 11:30 am -1:00 pm at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce (600 E. Depot Street).

The workshop will help separate facts from myths regarding hiring employees with disabilities.   Topics will also include tax incentives, statistics, accommodations and general rules and regulations.

There is no cost for Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce members.  Non-member fee is $10.  Attendees may bring a lunch.

To register visit or for more Information call Amy Wright at America’s SBDC  325-646-7299 or the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce 325-646-9535

Early Police Respond to Domestic Violence Reports

On 05/13/18 at approximately 11:15pm officers responded to a call of a domestic violence call at an apartment in the 100 block of Sudderth Dr. Neighbors reported hearing screaming and the sounds of someone hitting the floor and walls in an apartment. When Officers arrived they also could hear screaming and yelling and loud crashing noises coming from the apartment. When officers made contact with the male and female inside, the male had a torn shirt and visible injuries along with scrape marks and redness on his face, chest and arms. The female Rowena Marie Coers who was intoxicated had been detained during the investigation was told she was under arrest for assault family violence. Coers, while handcuffed, began screaming and trying to body slam herself into officers and then began kicking both EPD Corporal Sheedy and Highway Patrol Trooper Hoy. Coers then was able to grab and pinch one officer in the groin causing pain to the officer. Coers continued to kick and attempt to hit and slam her body in an uncontrollable rage while officers were taking her to the patrol car and until placed in the patrol car. Coers was taken to the Brown County Jail where she was booked into jail for 2 charges of assault on a public servant, resisting arrest and assault with bodily injury family violence. Both officers received minor injury during the incident but did not seek medical treatment at this time.

On 05/12/18 at approximately 3:15pm Officers responded to the 200 block of East hall ct for a domestic violence call. Officers were informed that they began arguing approximately 30 minutes prior to the call. The male had received scratches and pinch marks from the argument. The female Karla Joanna Torres-Vasquesz was placed under arrest for assault family violence and taken to the Brown County Jail.

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.