2017 Year in Review

Surviving founders of the Eagles, which included Linden native Don Henley, were recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in early December.
Mattie Brown along with her daughter Beverly Harper handed out homemade lap quilts with Christmas cards at the Linden Nursing Home on Dec. 21.
On Dec. 20, Superintendent Trevor Rodgers presented the Hometown Hero award to Winston Sullivan of Sullivan Companies.  
The Cass County Sun Publisher Randy Grider announced Jan 3 that Ben Woods has been promoted to news editor/advertising manager.
The Main Street Advisory Board met for the first time on Jan. 12.
Gary L. Pinkerton, held a book-signing and discussion of Trammel’s Trace at the Cass County Courthouse Saturday afternoon.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Department and Atlanta Police Department both recently received two grants to update their emergency dispatch equipment.
Armed with a plan to help improve a small town with a big vision, Texas native Allie Anderson left her hometown of Uvalde, Texas and traveled 500 miles to the opposite side of the state. Her mission: Main Street Manager of Linden.

Local Teen Lauren Burton is no average 14 year old, and her heifer is no average bovine. Burton  who recently won second place with her Black Angus heifer named Constance at the Fort Worth livestock show this January,  also has won many awards in 4-H.
Linden-Kildare High School’s Student Council announced its Believing with Brock Benefit Barrel Race & Silent Auction, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Marshall City Arena in Marshall, Texas to assist Brock Troxell’s family with the cost of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) treatment.
The Main Street Advisory board held its first meeting of the year to discuss the next steps they will take and what Main Street manager Allie Anderson learned at training. “I just want to set the foundation at this meeting for the next couple of meetings in which I really want us to start looking at strategic planning for the next year,” Anderson said.
The Linden City Council held a special meeting on Friday, Feb.  17 to revisit the issue of repealing an amendment to the Linden Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) bylaws approved by the council in December.
The Main Street Advisory board unveiled the new logo for the program during its February meeting. Members of the community attended the board meeting to learn more about the Main Street program and to give their input.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s Julian Alvarez  presented a check for $69,986 from the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) program to Linden-Kildare CISD last week.  The grant will help the district purchase and install equipment to provide 60 students with training for careers in the food services profession. 
The Texas Main Street Resource Team on March 2 held a community meeting at the historical Cass County Courthouse in order to provide an overview of their initial impressions of Main Street efforts in Linden, and to cover other topics. The group is providing support to Linden’s Main Street program as it works toward revitalization of the historic downtown.
The Fourth Annual Hope 4-H McLeod FFA Forestry Invitational took place on Wednesday, March 1 at Crow-Heath Park in Linden.   139 4-H and FFA members competed individually and as teams.    There were approximately 50 volunteers, teachers, agents and parents -- as well as our Cass County Judge, Becky Wilbanks -- in attendance. 
The Linden City Council last week discussed and approved a resolution moving management of the hotel and motel tax from the Linden Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) 4B to Main Street Manager Allie Anderson. 
Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar was the featured speaker last week at a luncheon hosted by Texarkana College to kick off the “60x30NETX” initiative in northeast Texas.
Roger Hailey has been named interim superintendent of Linden-Kildare CISD following the recent announcement of Trevor Rogers’ decision to depart for a post in Lindsay ISD.
Formation of a new Cass County Cybercrimes Unit is helping local authorities overcome one of the biggest hurdles involved in prosecuting internet-related offenses -- the time it takes the state crime lab to analyze computers and other devices for evidence.
Cass County last week joined communities across Texas and the nation in marking April as Child Abuse Prevention Month with events aimed at increasing awareness of the problem and promoting educational efforts aimed at finding solutions.
The Texas Municipal Courts Education Center recognized the Linden Municipal Court in Austin the week of March 2729 as a Municipal Traffic Safety Initiative Award Winner. 
The Light it Up Blue autism awareness event took place at the historical Cass County Courthouse on April 11. The event featured children with autism and their siblings saying the pledge of allegiance, and event coordinator Shirley Baker’s son, Will Baker, sang the national anthem. 
The First Lady of Texas welcomed Linden into the Texas Main Street program last week during her tour of newly designated Texas Main Street cities. On Tuesday, April 18 citizens of Linden and officials gathered next to the historic Cass County Courthouse to welcome First Lady of Texas Cecilia Abbott during a ceremony and reception.
The Cass County Commissioners’ court last week approved a proclamation declaring that May 25-27 are Daughters of The Republic Texas Days. The court also approved an action naming April 30 through May 7 Soil and Water Stewardship Week.
News last week that the idled U.S. Steel mill in nearby Lone Star will reopen was greeted enthusiastically by people across western Cass County. The mill’s restart is the result of improvement in the oil industry and an upturn in the economy in general, according to U.S. Steel’s first-quarter earnings report. Increased rig counts were cited specifically.
The outcome of the hotly-contested Linden City Council race, which was decided at the polls Saturday, will mean one new face on the council. According to unofficial results posted Saturday night, Candidate Frank Lanier received the most votes and incumbent Mike Berry came in second, while incumbent Ruth Halleck polled a distant third place.
Just in time for preservation month, the Linden Main Street Program will host an “Imagine the Possibilities Tour” downtown to correspond with the recent statewide launch of DowntownTX.org by the Texas Historical Commission, a software application designed to revolutionize how downtown programs connect potential investors to development opportunities in Texas’ historic downtowns.
Several emergency first-response helicopters touched down in a field behind the Atlanta Fire Station Saturday morning as part of a public landing zone class meant to bring the copters’ crews together with local first-responders and others involved in reacting to emergencies.
The Linden Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) board on May 16 reserved $10,000 to be available for facade grants to local businesses.
Linden-Kildare Interim School Superintendent Roger Hailey offered a recommendation during the May 15 meeting of the L-K school board regarding policy for stipends for certified teachers in grades three through five.
A Lone Star man was recently sentenced in Cass County District Court to a combined 70 years in prison after being found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child, related to his conduct involving a 9-year-old boy.
The Cass County Commissioner’s Court recognized the Hope Cass County 4-H Forestry Team as state and southern regional champions during last week’s meeting. Judge Becky Wilbanks presented each member of the of 4-H team with a certificate of congratulations after reading a proclamation recognizing their recent accomplishments.
Crawfish fanatics and event supporters flocked to the recent Big Bird Crawfish Boil despite morning rain. The 20th annual Big Bird Crawfish Boil celebrated the lives of three public servants from Cass County while raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Volunteers cleaning up Macedonia Cemetery are one step closer to having a ground penetrating radar machine scan for unmarked gravesites.
Linden-Kildare CISD held a Teacher and Employee Appreciation Breakfast last week at which service awards were handed out. There were around 125 teachers and employees that attended.
Cass County Clerk Jamie O’Rand recently had 27 volumes of vital historical documents restored as part of the Archival and Preservation Project.
Linden-Kildare Interim Superintendent Roger Hailey and Linden-Kildare High School principal Keri Winters presented Vietnam Veteran Hoss May with an honorary high school diploma and perfect attendance award at his home last Tuesday. 
The Linden City Council last week voted to begin the bidding process on replacement of sewer pumps at the Beech Creek Sewer Treatment Plant, and to use money from the capital fund to pay for the project.
A redesigned casscountynow.com, the online home of the Atlanta Citizens Journal and Cass County Sun, launched June 16. The website’s new format is more attractive, better organized and easier to navigate -- whether readers access it on their computers or their mobile devices.
The Linden City Council discussed a water rate increase during its June 12 meeting, as well as beginning a sinking fund, and voted to have a public meeting on the issue. Linden City Administrator Bob Swisher spoke about aging infrastructure and the need for a sinking fund for repairs now and in the future.
The Linden-Kildare CISD Board of Trustees last week voted to end the Kickstart martial arts program, sell three buses and purchase three new buses.
The Linden Main Street board last week decided on transformation strategies that will guide the work of the group and committees for the next several years. After discussing a report from the Texas Main Street Resource Team, the board made a decision on strategies to position downtown as an arts and culture district with an emphasis on musical heritage and a destination for empty-nesters and retirees.

Linden Economic Development Corporations’ newly hired executive director, Gus Gustafson, comes to Linden from his hometown of Winnsboro. In Winnsboro he was employed as the Main Street Manager for the past couple of years. Winnsboro boasts a cultural arts district.
Only one citizen from Linden attended the June 26 public meeting to discuss a possible water hike for Linden residents and businesses.
The Linden City Council approved a proposed water rate hike and a water and wastewater sinking fund for future repairs and other costs at the July 10 council meeting. The water rate hike will go into effect Aug. 1 but users will not see the increase on their billing until they receive the September bill.
Cass County Commissioners last week approved a resolution supporting the Texas Department of Transportation’s efforts to study future route alignments of Interstate Highway 369 from Linden to Queen City. 
Linden City Council had a lengthy conversation at a budget meeting about budgeting for remodeling of the Crow-Heath Baseball Park concession stands and bathrooms.
The Main Street Board approved revised facade grant guidelines at the July 20 meeting.

Linden-Kildare CISD named Keri Winters the lone finalist for the superintendent position at a special meeting on July 24. “I want to review the financial health of the district and look at some campus improvements that need to be made and try to see what can be done now, and things we can afford in-house,” said Winters. Winters has been principal of L-K High School for five years. 
Linden Lion Richard Bowden and wife Holli Bowden presented a ‘Heart of the Lion’ award from the Lions Club of Linden to Don Henley after his question-and-answer session on July 23. Henley has provided a free meeting facility for the Lions Club weekly meetings for over 10 years. 
The Cass County Commissioner’s Court approved a resolution supporting the role of Riverbend Water Resources District in implementation of the ‘Ultimate Rule Curve’ at the Aug. 8 session.
Linden City Council chose a chief of police search committee due to Chief Alton McWaters’ upcoming retirement.
A major culvert was replaced last week on East Rush Street in front of Linden United Methodist Church. The culvert is 200 feet long, 28 feet deep and five feet in diameter.
Kimberly Smith Morris is the new assistant district attorney for Cass County. Morris has served previously as assistant district attorney in Collin County for about three years and has been a defense attorney as well.
On Aug. 1 the Linden Heritage Foundation was allocated a $9,750 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns.
Cass County Commissioner’s Court adopted the county budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, Judge Donald Dowd spoke about Cass County’s drug court and Judge Becky Wilbanks announced that she will be running for re-election in 2018.
Cass County Commissioner’s Court adopted a property tax rate of $0.58760 per $100 for the upcoming fiscal year at the Sept. 21 session. The preceding year tax rate was $0.589423 which is slightly higher than the newly adopted tax rate but is still higher than the effective tax rate $0.577680.

The courtroom was standing room only when Cass County Commissioners Court declared a proclamation naming Oct. 1-7 National 4-H week in Cass County. Representatives from almost every 4-H in the county were at the session on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
The L-K FFA recently competed at the Seventy-Third Annual Four States Fair Junior Livestock show in Texarkana, Arkansas.  Eight high school students along with 11 steers and heifers competed during the three day event. 
Cass County Commissioner’s Court accepted the resignation of Cass County Clerk Jamie O’Rand at the court session on Oct. 10. O’Rand was not present the court session but in her letter of resignation explains that she is resigning due to several issues that she experiencing with her family which she feels obligated to tend to. The court also passed a resolution that will deed the county building that is currently used by Agri-life extension office, to Community Services of Northeast Texas Inc. (CSNT) a non-profit group.
Congressman Ratcliffe visited the Cass County Law Enforcement and Justice Center to speak about a bill that authorizes the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) to train local law enforcement officers.
More than 50 pairs of shoes and more than 44 thousand miles behind him, Steve Fugate has one message for us all: it’s simple, to ‘Love Life.’ The 71-year-old has walked across the country. In fact, he is on his ninth walk across the United States, most recently passing through Atlanta.

Amy Varnell was sworn in as the Cass County Clerk on Nov. 1 in the courtroom of the historical Cass County Courthouse to fill the unexpired term of the previous county clerk, Jamie O’Rand. Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Barbara McMillan was the official to swear in Amy Varnell. Varnell thanked everyone attending for coming to the event.
The City of Linden recognized with a proclamation that Nov. 7-11 as municipal court week for the municipal court of Linden. The mayor of Linden Clarence Burns read the proclamation on Nov. 8 in the municipal courtroom of Judge Barbara McMillon. The week is also recognized as municipal court week by the state of Texas.
Former Cass County Clerk Jamie O’Rand was recently charged in regards to seven counts of forgery of doctor’s excuses. According to probable cause affidavits issued on Nov. 8, the recently resigned County Clerk is suspected of seven counts of forgery for doctors’ excuses made for her child and then submitted to Linden-Kildare CISD.
Linden City Council made the motion to name Eric Lee as the new Linden Police Chief at the recommendation of the police chief search committee at the monthly meeting on Mon., Nov. 13.
On December 8th, 2017, Community Services of Northeast Texas, Inc. (CSNT), who has been delivering meals to home-bound citizens for more than a quarter century, will deliver its last meal.
After 15 minutes of deliberation, on November 8, 2017, Jarrod Michael Taylor, 32, was found guilty by a jury on one charge of Sexual Assault of a Child, two charges of Indecency with a Child, and six charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor.
The Cass County Commissioner’s Court approved a resolution of bringing suit on behalf of Cass County against the manufacturers, developers, suppliers and others of the class of drugs referred to as opiods at the regular meeting of the court on Nov. 28. 
The newly elected Linden-Kildare CISD trustees, Lane Roberts and Marlon Sullivan, were sworn in by Judge Donald Dowd before the monthly meeting of the school board on Nov. 27.
A DPS Trooper was drug by a fleeing vehicle on Wednesday, Dec. 6 after stopping a vehicle for failure to stop.
Linden City Council approved the acquisition of property from Cass County for a new water tower by the Cass County Jail and Cass County Law Enforcement and Justice building.

Cass County Now

The Cass County Sun
122 W. Houston Street
Linden, TX 75563

Atlanta Citizens Journal
306 West Main Street
Atlanta, TX 75551