Local News

 The Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards dinner Thursday, February 6, at the HILCO Civic and Event Center in Itasca and recognized outstanding members of the Lake Whitney community.
The Whitney citizen of the year award was presented to longtime resident Ron Roberts, who was recognized for his contributions to the community with the Lake Whitney Ministerial Alliance, Operation Greater Love and Veterans Pardners, among other organizations.
Presenter Debbie Clay described Roberts as an individual who works quietly behind the scenes helping people in his community, ministering to local nursing homes and participating in mission work.
Roberts owns Syn Con Construction in Whitney and built the Whitney food bank. He is also a veteran, having served as a Marine in the 1980s. He has devoted an extensive amount of time serving on a number of boards and committees throughout the area, including the HILCO Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, the city Planning and Zoning board, the Hill County Water Supply board, and the White Bluff Chapel board, to name a few.
Clay said that he helps where he can without asking for accolades just because it is the right thing to do. “He is a man of his word and a man of few words,” Clay said.
The young person of the year award was presented to two Whitney High School seniors this year, with Delaney Woodell and Kolby Tanner being honored. Both students were recognized for their outstanding achievements in sports and academics, as well as their community service.
Whitney High School Principal Amy Leech said that Woodell gives 100 percent in all of her endeavors, which include being a standout athlete in multiple sports, FFA chapter president, National Honor Society and PALS member and taking honors and dual credit classes. “To say that she is a well-rounded student is an understatement,” Leech said.
Whitney Athletic Booster Club President Scott Estill presented Tanner’s award, recognizing him for his contributions to Wildcat Nation. Some of those include being an all-state wide receiver on the varsity football team and an all-district guard as a starter on the basketball team. He has also performed well academically.
Estill said that Kolby’s family is active in sports and the community, and he has been active in the community since he could walk. “He is just a great all-around young man,” Estill said.
Woodell will be attending Texas Tech next year, and Tanner recently signed with Southwestern Assemblies of God University to play football.
Whitney Athletic Director Mark Byrd presented the educator of the year award to Coach Bo Johnson. Byrd described Johnson as a coach with a passion for students who is gifted at connecting with them in impactful ways.
“He is a magnet for kids on our campus and someone who talks real to them,” Byrd said. “He does a really good job of having hard conversations.”
John Thiele presented the 2019 Impact Award to Whitney Athletic Booster Club President Scott Estill, who was recognized for his efforts as a community organizer and his dedication to Whitney athletics.
Estill, who also spent many years as president of Whitney Youth Association, was honored for countless hours spent coaching, raising funds for youth, counseling athletes and supporting athletes of all ages in every sport.
“His dedication to the youth of the Lake Whitney community is unparalleled in recent memory,” Thiele said. “He understands the importance of getting young kids involved and getting game time in every sport.”
He helps accomplish this by picking kids up for practice, marking fields, stocking concession stands, helping with scholarships and counseling high school students, getting sponsors and anything else that needs to be done to support youth.
Thiele said that Estill also understands that programs need money and is active at organizing and working on fund raisers to benefit youth sports.
“He may actually bleed royal blue and white,” Thiele said.
The chamber member of the year award was presented to Syndi Hillberry of The Accounting Experts. Chamber Executive Secretary Janice Sanders said that Hillberry has been an active member of the chamber since she joined in 2018, and has demonstrated dedication and commitment to chamber goals while promoting Lake Whitney.
Looking back on 2019, Chamber President Colt Hatcher reported that the chamber welcomed 30 new members and held 26 ribbon-cutting ceremonies, which doubled the previous year’s activity.
The evening also included the annual live and silent auctions, which are major fund raisers that help the chamber promote Lake Whitney, with the help of auctioneer Les Alley of Itasca.


Blum man dies in crash on FM 933
One victim was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Farm Road 933 Saturday, February 8.
A motorist reportedly alerted authorities to a vehicle off the road north of Whitney on FM 933 near HCR 1201 at 2:45 a.m.
Department of Public Safety troopers responded to the scene and determined that a Jeep Grand Cherokee left the roadway on a curve and crashed into a tree before overturning. The driver was ejected.
Curtis Tice, 36, of Blum, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Personnel from the Hill County Sheriff’s Office and 2604 Volunteer Fire Department responded, and the Department of Public Safety investigated.

New Appraisal District board members elected
The Hill County Appraisal District has tallied the votes received from its taxing entities for members to serve on the district’s 2020-21 Board of Directors.
The five candidates receiving the largest number of votes and selected to serve on the board are Eugene Fulton, Roberta Skelton, Don Ford, Scot Kelley and Edith Omberg.
Ford, Fulton and Omberg are incumbents returning to the board, and Skelton and Kelley will be new members.
Chief Appraiser Mike McKibben thanked the candidates for their willingness to serve and said that he looks forward to working with the board to offer the best service possible to the taxing entities and the general public.

TDCJ sentences handed down in 66th Judicial District Court
The office of District Attorney Mark Pratt prosecuted the following felony criminal cases in the 66th Judicial District Court of Hill County, presided over by Judge Lee Harris, in January.
The following Texas Department of Criminal Justice sentences were handed down:
Donald Wayne Jones, possession of methamphetamine between four and 200 grams, 26 years prison
Kameron Robert James Lair, theft of property under $2,500 with two or more previous convictions, 15 months state jail
Edward Donnell Cosper, two counts of sexual assault of a child, seven years prison
Dramaine Dupree Robinson, possession of methamphetamine under one gram, 15 months state jail
Kyli Renee Wagner, DWI with child under 15, 12 months state jail
Carlos Humberto Barberena, theft of firearm, nine months state jail
Rolando Flores, possession of methamphetamine between one and four grams, three years prison
Peter Christopher Harris, possession of heroin between one and four grams and possession of methamphetamine under one gram, four years prison; bail jump and failure to appear, four years prison
Charles Waylon Gorman, possession of LSD, four years prison; evading arrest detention with a vehicle, four years prison
Bruce Allen Rechenthin, possession of methamphetamine between four and 200 grams with intent to deliver, 15 years prison
Bashir Justin Bashir, harassment of a public servant, two years prison; assault of a public servant, two years prison
Randy Aaron Ponder, sexual assault of a child – three counts, six years prison
Gabriel Lavern Fennell, theft of firearm, 19 months state jail
Claudio Jaramillo Vega, money laundering between $1,500 and $20,000, 24 months state jail (time served)
Brittany Kae Hooker, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, six years prison
Jamiee Leeann Farrar, forgery financial instrument – elderly, 20 months state jail
Floyd Junior Garner, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, 30 years prison
Terrance Jamon Deal, assault family/household member impeding breath/circulation, five years prison
Diana Maribel Ramirez-Lopez, smuggling of persons, two years prison
Joel Omar Perez, possession of methamphetamine between four and 200 grams, nine years prison; smuggling of persons, nine years prison; tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair, nine years prison; assault of a peace officer, nine years prison.

Wildcats to face Dallas teams after UIL district realignment
Every two years, Texas high school athletic directors and  coaches plan contingencies for the district realignment announcement from the University Interscholastic League (UIL).
Whitney Athletic Director Mark Byrd described the 2020-2021 realignment as a perfect situation for Wildcat Nation.
In 3A Division I football, Whitney, West, Grandview and Maypearl will stay together and welcome Dallas Madison, Dallas A+ and Dallas Life Oak Cliff to form District 7 Region II.
In basketball and volleyball, District 17-3A Region III will feature Whitney, West, Clifton, HSI Waco, Lorena, McGregor, Riesel and Troy.
In Conference 1A Division I Region III six-man football, District 11 will contain a Hill County threesome with Blum, Covington and Bynum. The district will also include Milford and Avalon.
Blum AD Cooper Thornhill indicated that the realignment will necessitate a defensive change for his team.
“We are going from tight formation based teams to spread formation teams. We are going to have to change gears on defense,” said Thornhill.
Blum basketball teams will play in Region III District 20-1A against  Covington, Iredell, Kopperl, Morgan, Walnut Springs and TLC-Arlington.
Also in Conference 1A Division I Region III six-man football, District 12 will see Abbott, Aquilla, Penelope, Coolidge and Gholson compete.
In basketball, Abbott, Aquilla, Mount Calm, Oglesby, Jonesboro, Cranfills Gap and Gholson will compete in District 25-1A Region IV.
In volleyball, Class 2-A District 13 will include Aquilla, Bynum, Penelope, Milford, Frost, Gholson and Dawson.

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