Brownwood moves east, Early moves north in UIL Realignment

The University Interscholastic League announced the new districts for football. Football districts are as follows:

District 5-4A D1:

  • Brownwood
  • China Spring
  • Gatesville
  • Stephenville
  • Waco La Vega

District 3-3A D1:

  • Early
  • Breckenridge
  • Clyde
  • Eastland
  • Jim Ned
  • Wall

District 4-3A D2:

  • Bangs
  • Coleman
  • Anson
  • Ballinger
  • Cisco
  • Merkel
  • Grape Creek
  • San Angelo TLC

District 6-3A D2:

  • Comanche
  • Dublin
  • Jacksboro
  • Millsap
  • Rio Vista
  • Tolar

District 13-3A D2:

  • Brady
  • Sonora
  • Ingram Moore
  • Comfort
  • Blanco
  • Johnson City

District 7-2A D1:

  • Goldthwaite
  • San Saba
  • Crawford
  • De Leon
  • Hico
  • Valley Mills

District 7-2A D2:

  • Cross Plains
  • Albany
  • Haskell
  • Roscoe
  • Baird
  • Hamlin
  • Roby

2018 Economic Summit Set for February 20th

The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce announced this week that registration for the 2018 Economic Summit is currently underway. The event will feature Texas State Demographer Dr. Lloyd Potter as the keynote speaker. The summit will be held on Tuesday, February 20th at Howard Payne University’s Bullion Suites in the HPU Mabee Center from 8:00 AM to 11 AM.

Lloyd Potter was appointed State Demographer on June 4, 2010. He is a professor in the Department of Demography at The University of Texas at San Antonio where he also serves as the director of the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research (IDSER). He has extensive experience working as an applied demographer in several settings.

Dr. Potter will outline current demographic and population trends in the state of Texas and specifically Brown County and how they may impact the economic future.
U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway will also make a presentation that will outline the current economic state of the federal government and how that may impact business locally.

Also speaking at the event will be Guy Andrews, Executive Director of the Brownwood Municipal Development District and a representative from the Heartland Association of Realtors. The speakers will give an in-depth look at the local and state economy regarding sales tax, employment statistics, the real estate market, current trends and more.

The presenting sponsor for the 2018 Economic Summit is TexasBank. Gold sponsors include Coldwell Banker, Mark Campbell & Associates and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Moseley Real Estate. Silver sponsor is the Brownwood Municipal Development District.

Breakfast will be served from 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM, with the program from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Cost of the Economic Summit is $15 per person.
For more information or online registration, go to the Chamber’s Calendar of Events: www.brownwoodchamber.org or call the office at 325.646.9535.

Lang, Risse discuss teacher pay

Candidates for State Representative for HD 60 began the candidates forum hosted by the Early Chamber of Commerce Friday by answering a question concerning teacher pay.

The question asked was, “We all agree that teachers need pay raises, but how do you propose that we fund this increase?”

Incumbent State Rep. Mike Lang said the issue could be resolved by shifting money away from school administration and back into the classroom.

“We need to have money put back into the classroom,” Lang said. “What has happened over time is that we’ve spent money more on administration than in the classroom. What we need to do is stop paying into the administration that we’re doing through unfunded mandates. I put in a bill last session to stop unfunded mandates, but the administrators association said ‘Wait, if we do away with these unfunded mandates, our jobs go away.’ And that’s exactly right. Those jobs would go back into the classroom.”

Challenger Gregory Risse said the reason teachers struggle financially was due to high health insurance premiums.

“I’m a retired teacher, I walk every day to teachers,” Risse said. “Teacher pay borders good, it’s just right at adequate until their health insurance premiums cut about half of it away. That’s the key. If their health insurance were commensurate with the jobs they do, they’d have about an $800 per month raise.”

Dr. Jim Largent, who was not in attendance, replied to the question via email. Dr. Largent said that teachers could receive pay raises if unfunded mandates were cut.

Judge West asserts innocence during candidate forum

County Judge Ray West vehemently defended himself against allegations of corruption during a candidates forum hosted by the Early Chamber of Commerce at the Howard Payne Mabee Center, Friday.

West, who shouted down moderator Rick Phelps in asserting his innocence, said that he had not engaged the discussion for fear of compromising the integrity of the court.

“Eight years ago, and four years ago respectively, I was accused of wrong-doing in two separate matters,” West said. “One case was referred to the Texas Attorney Generals Office, the other was a civil suit in federal court in San Angelo. By 2014, the Attorney General’s office had absolved me of any wrong doing, and the lawsuit was decided in my favor in San Angelo. That judgment was affirmed on appeal by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015.”

Judge West then questioned the motives of those bringing the accusations back up.

“Now on the eve of the primary elections, the complainants are reasserting their accusations through two mass media outlets desperate for a sensational story, not to mention social media. I am tempted to take issue with the complaints with those social media participants.”

In the debate over qualifications for office, West said that the majority of his work was hearing cases brought to the Brown County Court, and that the administrative side of the job was a small part of being county judge.

Challenger Paul Lilly countered, saying that Texas law did not require one to have a legal license to hear many of those cases, and that those cases that did require a legal license could be referred to the county court at law.

Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan discusses school funding, priorities

Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan discusses school funding, priorities

Speaking to a group of 35 who attended the January meeting of the Pecan Valley Republican Women, Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan spent most of his hour-long speech discussing priorities in public education, and how society at-large expects public schools to do more than they were intended to do.

Sullivan explained that the Texas Constitution requires the Texas Legislature to adequately fund public education for the general diffusion of knowledge, being necessary for the protection of the freedom and liberties of the republic.

“It’s amazing that we talk about not having enough money to educate kids,” Sullivan said, “and yet, the Allen ISD made headlines a couple of years ago for their $60 million football stadium.

It’s not the third grader who requests a jumbotron at the football stadium. That’s Mom and Dad.”

Sullivan went on to point out that the top-10 jumbotrons in high school football stadiums in the nation are all in Texas.

“They’re all in Texas. You don’t have high schools with jumbotrons anywhere else.”

Thursday night’s speech to the Pecan Valley Republican Women wasn’t the first time Sullivan has taken on the issue of “jumbotrons” at high school football stadiums. In Dec. 2011, Sullivan wrote a piece on the Empower Texans website criticizing then-Brownwood ISD Superintendent Dr. Reece Blincoe for simultaneously criticizing the state for under-funding public schools while lobbying for a $400,000 video scoreboard to be installed at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Following his speech, PVRW President Jessica Acker asked Sullivan to respond to the accusation that Empower Texans is anti-public school. Sullivan said that Empower Texans strongly supports what the public school system could be, adding that they are fierce critics of those who profit off of systems that fail Texas kids.

Sullivan’s organization, Empower Texans, was founded in 2006 to inform the public to inspire residents to effectively be involved in their local and state governments.

HPU social work students participate in Mission Waco’s poverty simulation

Seven Howard Payne University students and one faculty member recently took part in one of Mission Waco’s poverty simulations, an experience designed to give participants a firsthand look at poverty in America. This was HPU’s ninth year to participate in the event.

Mission Waco creates a safe, controlled weekend of experiences that is designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty in America. HPU students joined approximately 30 other people of various ages to go through this simulation together.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Social Work and Sociology, takes part in the simulation with his students each year.

“The whole group of participants was smaller this year which was actually a good thing,” said Humeniuk. “We were able to go through the simulation and spend more time in processing the experience which is difficult with a larger group.”

Attendees experienced a very small sample of the hunger, tiredness and hardship many homeless people have to endure on a daily basis. Morgan Lacy, a senior from Early, attended the simulation and gave his perspective of the event.

“Those who are from a poor background are not less than me; they are my equals according to God,” Lacy said. “Having a better understanding of the hardships of those in poverty, I can understand what their needs are.”

The poverty simulation participants were not given any luxuries, including transportation. They walked everywhere they needed to go which totaled about 18 miles over the weekend.

The group had the opportunity to experience a church service and worship under the I-35 bridge over 8th Street in Waco on Sunday morning. Mission Waco conducts the church services and, as part of the simulation, participants walk one-and-a-half miles from the site to the bridge. Groups of people from all over Waco including college students, families and homeless people join together to worship under the bridge.

Another HPU student who attended the poverty simulation weekend, junior Lyn Norway from Brownwood, shared her takeaway from the event.

“I believe that all people, no matter what career they go into, should go through this poverty simulation, so that they will have a better understanding of what poverty truly is and how they can help to end it,” said Norway.

Besides Humeniuk, Lacy and Norway, others from HPU who attended were junior Jessica Catlett from Alleyton, senior Jacob Escobar from Brownwood, 2017 HPU graduate Gabriella Guest from Brownwood, senior Crystal Hernandez from Brownwood and junior Marina Sheets-Ochoa from Brownwood.

Brownwood ISD School Board extends Dr. Young’s contract

Brownwood ISD Superintendent Dr. Joe Young will be around a few more years, as the board of trustees voted to extend his contract through July 2021. Dr. Young joined the district in 2016. When Dr. Young was hired, Board President Michael Cloy told KXYL that Dr. Young was selected because he has experience working in districts the size of Brownwood, and that he targeted Brownwood, meaning that he had not sought employment as a superintendent elsewhere.

GOP Candidates forum scheduled for Feb. 19

A forum for Republican candidates for local, state and federal office will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19 at the Adams Street Community Center. The forum is sponsored by the Pecan Valley Republican Women.

Candidates who have confirmed their participation in the forum include Congressman Mike Conaway and challenger Paul Myers; State Rep. Mike Lang and challenger Gregory Risse (Dr. Jim Largent declined); County Judge Ray West and challenger Paul Lilly; and Pct. 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton and challenger Eddie Lord.

Invitations have been sent to candidates for statewide office as well.

The format will consist of questions being posed to the candidates by a moderator. Questions can be submitted in writing prior to the forum.

Michael Quinn Sullivan visits Brownwood

The executive director of one of the most influential conservative organizations in Texas will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Adams St. Community Center. Michael Quinn Sullivan is the CEO and executive director of Empower Texans, a group known for putting together a scorecard ranking votes by Texas legislators based on conservative principles, and the group’s legislative priorities.

His speech will be part of the monthly meeting of the Pecan Valley Republican Women. The public is invited to attend.

Democrat Leeder to visit Early

Democratic Congressional Candidate Jennie Lou Leeder will hold a meet and greet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Early Chamber of Commerce. The meet and greet is being held in conjunction with the Brown County Democratic Party’s monthly meeting.

Leeder faces a challenge in the Democratic Primary from Eric Pfalzgraf. Leeder has served as a county party chairman, and ran for State Senate against Republican Dr. Dawn Buckingham in 2016.