Jan

13

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 13, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan

If you are waiting for your voter registration card, you are going to have to wait a little longer; redistricting in Texas has really become a headache.

Voting districts for the Texas Legislature and the state’s Congressional delegation are in limbo with two sets of maps drawn, one by state lawmakers and one by a group of federal judges in San Antonio,

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Jan

06

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 6, 2012

From Staff Reports

January 2012 is School Board Recognition Month, a time when districts across the state show their appreciation for the pivotal role elected boards play in their local communities.

“Our school board members devote thousands of hours of their time to the success of the students of MISD. They all make many personal sacrifices tending to school board business. The members of this school

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Dec

19

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 19, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

The question of whether or not a Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) banner will be included in the annual Henderson County Christmas display may have been pushed back to next year, but that hasn’t stopped the rhetoric.

Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott weighed in on the issue, promising “my support if the FFRF follows through on its threat to pursue legal action against Henderson County.”

Abbott’s declaration came in a letter to Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

The FFRF answered back Monday in a letter to Abbott signed by foundation co-presidents and husband and wife, Dan Taylor and Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“The imprimatur of the county of Henderson, and now the imprimatur of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, are being used to endorse Christianity,” the letter reads.

By now, the story is well known and

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Dec

16

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 16, 2011

From Staff Reports

The school finance lawsuit Malakoff ISD is participating in was filed last Friday in state district court in Austin. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionally of the Texas school finance system, claiming that it fails to provide schools with sufficient funding to meet state educational standards and that the system has become a statewide property tax.

“The Texas Legislature in the last session failed to meet their constitutional obligation to adequately fund our public schools,” said MISD Superintendent Randy Perry. “Malakoff ISD will have funding cuts over

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Dec

16

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 16, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

There will be no banner from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn this year, a foundation attorney confirmed this morning.

But that does not mean the legal battle is over.

Attorney Stephanie Schmitt of the FFRF told The Malakoff News that Henderson County has outlined a procedure for requesting a display, and the procedure includes asking Commissioners’ Court. Because commissioners

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Dec

12

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 12, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

Like shadow footprints laid out on a floor, the next steps in the legal dance between the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Henderson County government seem to be in place, and they lead directly to Commissioners’ Court.

The FFRF is the Wisconsin-based organization that demanded the county remove a nativity scene

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Dec

09

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 9, 2011

Rep. Jim Pitts

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

District 10 State Rep. Jim Pitts today called the nativity scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn a “community tradition.”

“I’m disturbed that an out of state group has tried to interject itself into what has been an annual tradition at the Henderson County Courthouse for many years,” Pitts said. “That nativity scene is a holiday tradition for the entire community, and shouldn’t be used as a tool for some group to pursue an extreme agenda.”

Monday, Henderson County officials

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Dec

08

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 8, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – The media and community response was swift after news broke that a group was trying to force Henderson County to remove its nativity scene.

So was the county’s answer.

Less than two days after receiving a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which claims the nativity scene located on the courthouse lawn is illegal, County Attorney Clint Davis answered by writing, “Henderson County believes that it is in complete compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and acting very much in accord with prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings.”

The letter from Davis is dated Dec. 7 and is addressed to the FFRF attorney Stephanie A. Schmitt.

Wednesday night, Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders explained the county’s position, saying, “Because we have other decorations on the square other than the nativity, we feel we are in compliance with federal law.”

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Dec

06

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 6, 2011

The center of the nativity scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn.

(UPDATE: Added text of letter from Freedom From Religion Foundation at end of story)

(UPDATE 2: Adds quotes from Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-president. Rewrites for clarity.)

By Michael V. Hannigan

ATHENS – The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, sent a letter dated Dec. 1 to Henderson County commissioners saying the nativity scene located on the courthouse lawn is illegal.

“We request that, as the Henderson County Commissioners, you take immediate action to ensure that no religious displays are on city or county property. Please inform us in writing of the steps

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Dec

01

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : December 1, 2011

(UPDATE: Adds McGlaun to Pct. 1 Commissioner list)

From Staff Reports

Filing for the party primary elections in March opened up this week and Henderson County saw a flurry of activity, with most of the action centering on the Pct. 1 Commissioner’s race.

Four have signed up so far on the Republican side: Ken Hayes, Skip Smith, Scott Thomas, and Ron Welch. No one had filed for the Democrats as of press time Wednesday. Late Wednesday, after this week’s print edition went to press, the Democrat Party announced that David McGlaun filed for Pct. 1 Commissioner on that side.

Officials from both parties said this week there could

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