Local News

Hill County producers reminded to complete Crop Acreage Reports
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds agricultural producers in Hill County to complete crop acreage reports by the January 15 deadline for fall-seeded small grains.
“To make sure you’re eligible for many USDA programs, you need to file an accurate crop acreage report by the applicable deadline,” said Arianna Thedford, FSA county executive director.
The following acreage reporting dates are applicable for Hill County January 15: wheat, oats, barley and triticale.
To complete your acreage report, call the Hill County FSA office to schedule an appointment. FSA can work with producers to file timely acreage reports by phone, email, online tools and virtual meetings. The Hill County office is not open for in-person appointments at this time.
The Hill County FSA office will provide maps to producers along with instructions for completing and returning the maps through either mail, email or through commercially available free and secure online tools, such as Box for file sharing and OneSpan for eSignature solutions.
After planting is complete, producers must return the signed form certifying their acreage report to the FSA office through mail, email or Box by January 15.
The following exception applies to acreage reporting dates: If the crop has not been planted by the acreage reporting date, the acreage must be reported no later than 15 calendar days after planting is completed.
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) policy holders should note that the acreage reporting date for NAP-covered crops is the earlier of the dates listed above or 15 calendar days before grazing or harvesting of the crop begins.
For questions or assistance, call the Hill County Farm Service Agency office at 254-582-8411.

COVID-19 test site moved to new location
The regional COVID-19 testing center in Hill County has been moved from the Hill County Fairgrounds to a new location for the month of January.
The testing center opened at the Hill County Courthouse John Erwin Annex on Monday, January 4, at 8 a.m. as a drive-through or walk-up testing site. The annex is located at 200 East Franklin Street in Hillsboro.
The site will operate from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. seven days a week.
The center will be moved back to the Hill County Fairgrounds the first week of February.
Anyone, no matter where they live, can be tested for free without an appointment at the center.
The site will offer oral COVID-19 testing with results expected in 48-96 hours. Those being tested should avoid eating or drinking for 15 minutes prior to being tested.
Anyone who tests positive will receive a medical consultation from a provider.

Texas Heritage Museum dean wraps up term as president of national organization
John Versluis, dean of the Hill College Texas Heritage Museum (THM) since 2005, recently completed a three-year term as president of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG), the nation’s leading educational and professional organization for academic museums, galleries and collections.
AAMG board members are primarily from academic art museums and galleries, and Versluis’ election in June 2017 made him the first history museum director (non-art museum director) to serve as the organization’s president.
“John’s appointment announced that we are committed to the diversity of all academic museums and galleries,” said Jill Hartz, AAMG President Emerita and former executive director of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. “Having a dean-level president also strengthened AAMG’s stature among our members and their supervisors.”
As AAMG president, Versluis was instrumental in solidifying a sustainable, standalone annual conference (established the year before under Hartz’s presidency) that was no longer held in conjunction with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual conference in May.
Versluis said AAMG was becoming too big to continue to host its conference alongside AAM’s, and he and the board wanted to improve the conference experience for AAMG’s members.
“Many of our members are also faculty and typically have finals in May. We wanted to move our conference to June so more of our members could attend,” Versluis said. “We also wanted to increase the networking and session offerings, which would require a three- or four-day conference.”
Versluis also successfully—and unexpectedly—coordinated AAMG’s first-ever virtual conference after the pandemic hit last year. Within 90 days, Versluis and the AAMG conference committee turned the originally planned four-day conference at the University of Kansas into a 10-day virtual event on Zoom, which ended up hosting more than 700 attendees.
“Everyone was able to attend more sessions than they might have been able to at an in-person conference,” said Versluis. “And because it was online, entire museum staffs were able to attend.”
Versluis’ leadership also contributed to significant membership growth within the organization, increasing by 234 institutional memberships during his term. He worked with the board to assess and update membership rates and benefits and targeted new membership audiences.
As a result of these efforts, AAMG also experienced financial growth, and the all-volunteer board saw this as an opportunity to hire an administrative firm to manage AAMG’s operations. Versluis oversaw the hiring of the firm and was then able to re-evaluate roles and responsibilities within the organization.
“Hiring a management company freed up our board members’ time and allowed them to focus on efforts that would continue to grow and strengthen AAMG,” he said. “This also allowed me to redefine board and committee member roles so that each position had specific responsibilities that would directly support our strategic goals.”
Additionally, with Samuel H. Kress Foundation grant funds, Versluis aided in reprinting and distributing the AAMG Professional Practices for Academic Museums & Galleries manual to members and their supervisors. Versluis assisted Hartz and the board in the development of the manual the year before, which provides best practices and standards specific to academic museums and galleries and is crucial to training future generations of museum professionals.
“John has advanced us in so many ways,” said Hartz. “He led AAMG with a steady hand and seasoned advice, which in these unusual times, are much needed. He’s a good listener, asks great questions, and is a consensus-builder.”
Versluis is now serving as AAMG’s Immediate Past President and Mountain Plains Regional Co-Representative, a regional territory spanning 10 states and 200 academic museums, and will continue to assist the board in growing sponsorships and memberships, developing virtual workshops, and writing grants to support strategic goals.
“John’s service on AAMG’s board has brought notoriety, as well as awareness to Hill College and the Texas Heritage Museum and all it has to offer,” said Hill College President Dr. Pam Boehm. “We are very proud of his accomplishments, and he has represented the college and City of Hillsboro well.”
AAMG has 835 total members, including 486 institutional members, nationwide. It was founded in 1980 to promote and support academic museums and to help its constituent members achieve their educational missions. To learn more about AAMG, visit https://www.aamg-us.org/.
To learn more about THM, visit https://www.hillcollege.edu/Museum/Index.html or like the museum Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/texasheritagemuseum/.

Next round of Economic Impact Payments now being delivered
Last week, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments to millions of Americans as part of the implementation of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.
The direct deposit payments will continue into this week, according to the Treasury Department. Paper checks began to be mailed Wednesday, December 30.
This second round of payments was issued to provide critical economic support to those who, through no fault of their own, have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Treasury and the IRS are working with unprecedented speed to issue a second round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans and their families,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “These payments are an integral part of our commitment to providing vital additional economic relief to the American people during this unprecedented time.”
Eligible individuals will receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child.
Generally, if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, you will receive the full amount of the second payment.
For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.
Mnuchin said that the second round of payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required for eligible individuals. If additional legislation is enacted to provide for an increased amount, Economic Impact Payments that have been issued will be topped up as quickly as possible.
The swift issuance of this second round of payments follows the delivery of more than $270 billion in CARES Act Economic Impact Payments earlier last year, providing crucial economic support to nearly 160 million Americans.
You may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For more information about Economic Impact Payments, visit IRS.gov/EIP

HCSO seeking suspect after car burglaries
The Hill County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in identifying a subject who made large purchases on credit cards stolen from vehicles in the White Bluff community recently.
According to the Hill County Sheriff’s Office, the break-ins occurred in the early morning hours of Monday, December 21, at around 1 a.m., and involved several vehicles.
Authorities reported that debit/credit cards were taken from vehicles, and the suspect charged large amounts at several stores in Dallas.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5’5″ to 5’10″, with a thin build. He possibly has tattoos on his left hand or wrist. The suspect vehicle was described as a newer-model, silver-colored Ford Fusion four-door sedan.
Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact Hill County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jessica Castro at 254-582-5313 ext. 204.

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