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Around Town

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March 25, 2019 - In the half century since it closed, the Timpson Colored School had deteriorated and become overgrown to the point that many residents didn't know it existed. Two years ago Charleston Johnson and other local volunteers cut back brush and hauled off debris to reveal what remains of the nearly 100 year-old landmark. At their March meeting, the Timpson Area Genealogical and Heritage Society heard city councilwoman Teri Alexander and community leader and educator Vernett Richardson emphasize the historic significance of the former school building and outline plans to create a 501c non-profit organization as a vehicle for the structure's restoration and preservation.

Councilwoman Alexander, who is now the property owner, said that although some of the school is still in fairly good condition, much of it has collapsed and the complete restoration of the school is beyond any current vision for the property. The most pressing needs now are the prevention of further deterioration of the structure and the creation of a 501c to allow donations to be tax deductible, she stated. Alexander noted that she had received the forms necessary for the establishment of a 501c and that they were very lengthy and detailed, especially regarding the history of the building. Built in 1926 for $10,000, the building was furnished with a $1,500 grant from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation. She said that the local community has been enthusiastic about the project from its inception but that it has really “taken off” since the clean-up work now that the building can more clearly be seen from the street.

Also addressing the meeting was native Timpsonian Vernett Richardson, who returned to Timpson after retiring from the Navy and now teaches at Timpson High School. He revealed that he had shared information about the project with friends around the nation and that he has been amazed by the overwhelmingly positive response he has received from them. “Timpson has a treasure of great value for more that just the city which must be honored and preserved” was the general consensus," he said. Richardson said he had shown some of the photos and videos of the work at the site with his current THS students, who “were amazed to find that Timpson once had two schools.”

He shared that the Timpson Colored School only produced one school yearbook, in 1957, and he displayed a pristine copy which had been loaned to him. Also displayed were graduation programs, play programs, and photos dating back to the 1930s which had belonged to Savannah Puckett Hooper and were brought her daughter, Joyce Hooper Tucker. Personal recollections, documents, and memorabilia of this sort are valuable resources in the historical documentation of the site required by the IRS for a 501c designation. “I know there is information out there and I know there are people still living who attended the school who can provide information”, declared Alexander.

Richardson noted that a Facebook page for the school had been established at 'Timpson ColoredSchool' which features photos and posts about the school and the project. Alexander said that once the 501c non-profit organization is established, she will donate the property to it in hopes that it will be preserved into perpetuity. She said that her research indicates that the school is the only one in Texas bearing the inscription “Colored School” which still exists.

The excitement and enthusiasm of those in attendance at the meeting for the project was palpable and some were ready to get to work right away. As attendee Odell Holmon said “Can we start doing something or do we have to wait?”

TAGHS meets at 2PM on the third Wednesday of each month in the Meeting Room of the Timpson Public Library on the corner of Austin and Bremond Streets. The public is invited.

March 25, 2019 - On February 9, 2019 we lost everything in a house fire. We just want to say a special thank you to all the people who served into Bishop Roosevelt Swindle and his wife Girtha Swindle. To all the churches, family, and friends - may God continue to bless you is our prayer.

March 22, 2019 - Shelby County Courthouse employees recognized WDSD along with their co-worker Teresa Hughes in honor of her grandson, Jack.

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.  

The Shelby County courthouse chose to honor the day by wearing brightly coloured socks. The #rockyoursocks campaign encourages people to bring awareness by wearing brightly coloured socks, long socks, printed socks, 1 sock or even 3 socks for 3 chromosomes. The idea is to wear something people will ask you about so that you can tell them about WDSD.

For more information, visit barrie360.com

March 21, 2019 (Click here to see updated Program- The 12th Annual Health and Fitness Fair, Presented by Cline Family Medicine will be held this Thursday, March 21 at the Windham Civic Center from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Gold Sponsors Focused Care of Center, Hope Community Medicine and Nacogdoches Medical Center also helped in making the event a success.

A Scavenger Hunt will be held again with three random drawings for the chance to win an Air Fryer, a complete set of Pioneer Woman cookware and a 32-Inch Flat Screen TV. Attendees and vendors are invited to participate in finding items throughout the fair.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center will be on site with a blood mobile taking donations, to sign up to donate please contact Shelby County Chamber of Commerce at 936-598-3682.

The fair is free to the public featuring over 30 vendors with give aways and door prizes. Vendors will be providing health screenings which include glucose, cholesterol, spinal screenings, heart awareness, bone density and vision, plus much more!! Teresa’s Tumblers will be performing at 11:00am.

For more information please contact the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce at (936) 598-3682, email info@shelbycountychamber.com or visit www.shelbycountychamber.com.

March 21, 2019 - DPS State Trooper Dustin Ramos presented an informative program for Delta Gamma about little known traffic laws.

He alerted the group about moving over or slowing down for emergency vehicles. He fielded many questions from members.

The meal was served by the Center ISD Culinary Department and enjoyed by all.

Submitted by Nora Robinson

District III TX Garden Clubs Convention. From left: 2019-21 District III Director Christine Fincher, 2017-19 Recording Secretary Linda Bordelon, and 2017-19 District III Director Kathi Sivess

March 19, 2019 - Representing Center Garden Club, Linda Bordelon attended the District III TX Garden Clubs Convention March 14-15, 2019 in Texarkana, Texas.

With the theme "The Seeds of Today are the Flowers of Tomorrow," members received packets of seeds and door prizes were flowers in watering cans which were used as table decorations.

The 2019-2021 District III Officers were installed and reports were given by the District III Officers and Zone Directors. Seventy-nine members and five guests enjoyed a luncheon and Spring Style Show. Awards for the past year were presented to twenty-eight Garden Clubs in District III.

Linda Bordelon, Center Garden Club

March 17, 2019 - There were many African American Educators who taught in the early years of Center's schools in the town and in the rural areas. Too many to name all of them. This Salute goes out to them this month of March which has been designated at National Women's History Month.

As the author, Dr. Charles Tatum has written in the 3 volumes of his latest publication, 'Dew Drops on the Pine Needles', it is interesting to hear about, read about, the early school days of many citizens who lived in Center. It was interesting to see that most of the students went to Prairie View A & M, a college in Prairie View, Texas (about 45 miles west of Houston) that was established in 1876 and it is still existing now as a University, with its first African American female president, Dr. Ruth Simmons.

As times changed, students from Center went to Stephen F Austin in Nacogdoches. The teachers at Daniels School were relatives of many of their students back then. It's almost that way now. It is also amazing to see students who go off to college, eventually come back to Center to teach. In the early days one only needed perhaps a year of college to become a teacher until a law was passed that a degree and teacher certification was required. Thus, many of the senior-aged teachers had to go back to College to meet that requirement. 

We salute those who did not let that requirement hinder their love of teaching others. We acknowledge them for giving their students the best learning techniques possible. Daniels School, which held grades from 1 - 12 until 1968 will always be remembered and so will the many teachers who taught there. Not only were they educators but they served the community to support culture and the betterment of the society. Several school reunions have occurred in recent years and it is great seeing the teachers attend remembering the students they taught many years ago. The number has declined but their memory lives on --African American Educators.

March 17, 2019 - An African American Woman who sat on the City Council of Center was Mrs. Gretchen McNealy. She served for over twenty years. The story of Gretchen's getting to live in Center, Texas was no accident. She was a relative of Mrs. DeIvory Sampson who moved to Center from Commerce, Texas to live with her and the family. We know Mrs. Sampson as the wife of the principal of C. H. Daniels High, Mr. Perry Sampson, during the years 1950's and 1960's.

Mrs. Gretchen graduated from Daniels and went to Texas College where she received her Bachelors. She later went to Stephen F Austin and received her Masters of Arts. That was not enough education for Mrs. McNealy because she attended Whiddon Memorial School of Nursing in Everett, Massachusetts. Evidently she believed in continuing education.

Mrs. Gretchen moved back to Center and began working in the public schools in Panola County, Strong Public School and the public schools of Center. She spent thirty-five years in the field of education. Sometimes in these years, she met and married Joe Nathan McNealy (now deceased) an educated man who also became a teacher in the Shelby County Area. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Center where the family were members and active in the church. 

The McNealy's had four children, two girls and two boys. Each were active in sports in high school and other activities. They extended their knowledge by attending and completing higher education at various schools in Texas. They have children and all are living in the Dallas area. Mrs. McNealy is proud of her children.

She was very active with various other committees besides being on the City Council with a goal of the betterment of good living for the residents of Shelby County. She served on the Planning and Zoning Commission on Loop 500, the Crime Stoppers Committee, and many others. Mr. McNealy served on the Center Planning and Zoning Commission for planning Center's growth and development. Thus, this couple cared about their community. They were productive citizens of Center.

Mrs. McNealy remained in Center several years after her husband's transition but now is living in the Dallas area with a daughter, being close to all her children and grandchildren. She has shown strides in developing education, culture and support of a better society.

March 14, 2019 - Lieutenant Del Birdwell with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department spoke at the Women on the Go Club meeting hosted by AgriLife Extension on Thursday, March 14th concerning civilian response to an active shooter situation.

Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Ph.D., Shelby County Extension Agent - Family and Community Health, introduced Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell, Chief Deputy Kevin Windham, and Lieutenant Del Birdwell to the group. Lt. Birdwell was the primary speaker and described options in an active shooter situation - to run, to lock, or to fight. 

From left: Del Birdwell, Sheriff Willis Blackwell, Jheri-Lynn McSwain, and Kevin Windham

Lt. Birdwell explained, "An active shooter is defined as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area." He continued, "Their objective is to kill as many people they can and as quick as they can." According to statistics, when an active shooter engages a group by shooting they kill on an average of one person every 15 seconds until first responders get there.

While doing research for the program he referenced reading, "To 'hide and hope' is not a good strategy. And that's really a pretty good thought, if somebody comes into here, you can go over into the corner and you can hide. And you are hoping they don't see you and you are hoping they don't kill you. That's not the best strategy in the world."

He advised it's important to be aware of the area which is called situational awareness. Knowing where the exits are located is important because situational awareness can help you have some kind of plan in place mentally. Once you are aware of your surroundings think about if a shooter enters, where the 'fatal funnel' is located. The fatal funnel is the view of the shooter.

"There are three options that you have when there's an active shooter. Run, that's your first option. Lock is your second option. And I'll cover some things with all of these and fight is your third option. Running is the best option as long as you have a plan in place," listed Lt. Birdwell.

If you are able to run, avoid the fatal funnel when possible, and run to the nearest exit. It is harder for the shooter to hit a moving target. Once you are out of the building or the room, be sure to take cover behind a vehicle or something substantial enough to stop a bullet.

If you aren't able to run but are able to lock in place, then close the door and lock it. If no lock is available, push a wedge under the door or something else to prevent it from opening easily. If in a bathroom, one option Lt. Birdwell mentioned is to put a trash can in front of the door (if it opens inward) and to lay down behind the trash can with your weight stopping the door from opening easily. If you are able to delay entrance, the shooter may move on since they know their time is limited as law enforcement will be en-route. Also, it is advised to be as quiet as possible and be sure to silence cell phones from alerting or ringing.

If not able to escape or find a secure place to hide, then your option is to fight. Look around the room and find anything that can be a weapon such as a folding chair. The element of surprise is to your advantage if attacking a shooter. Stay calm and quiet and commit to your actions, try not to hesitate. Most active shooters, although their targets may be selected randomly, they are aware of where they are going and know the floor plan. Remember a moving target is harder to hit and if possible stay out of the fatal funnel as much as possible before attacking.

If you are carrying a weapon and you do decide to engage the shooter, be aware of others around you so you don't shoot them instead of your target. When law enforcement show up, place your weapon down and put your hands up so law enforcement know you are not the active shooter or the threat. 

Several people at the meeting asked Lt Birdwell about their kids and what parents can do to help kids to know what to do in the event of an active shooter. Lt. Birdwell advised talking to them about the same things he had mentioned at the meeting - Run, Lock, or Fight. One mother at the meeting said she had heard where some parents were putting door stoppers in their child's backpack. In the event an active shooter situation occurred the door stops could be used to hopefully secure a room.

From left: Ellen Manning, Connie Morrison, and Margaret Smith

McSwain and the audience thanked the Sheriff and his deputies for their presentation with a round of applause. Door prize winners were then announced to be Ellen Manning, Connie Morrison, and Margaret Smith.

During the meeting, McSwain introduced Konnor Windham who will be interning with the Shelby County Extension office as she works on earning a bachelor's degree in family studies. Konnor is a 2017 Center High School Graduate and is attending Texas Women's University.

Upcoming events McSwain mentioned were: Health + Wellness Fair on March 21st at the John D. Windham Civic Center in Center; Freezer Pleaser Meal Prep Club on April 6th from 1-5pm; and Women on the Go Club next meeting is April 11th from noon to 1pm.

Links for more information about what to do in an active shooter situation:

March 13, 2019 - Have you ever seen a woman in her eighties move around like Mrs. Lucille Wade Cloudy? Well, you should see her at church, or ask her to go out of town with you, or see what is planted in her garden. She is slowing down a bit but she has been a very active woman.

Mother Lucille, who is County mother of Center Triumph the Church in Kingdom of God in Christ, and her husband, Marvin, who is now deceased, raised eleven children. One has preceded her in death but the other ten have grown to be successful in life. They have given her many grandchildren and great-grands. She will always talk about how she raised her children and saw that her sons worked while they were going to school and appreciated her for doing so. She stressed education and they all finished school at Daniels High and Center High. Seven boys and three girls are all proud of their mother and keep her happy with visits, traveling, and parties. There are birthday milestone parties almost every year. 

Mother Cloudy is fortunate to have many sons who are preachers and her eldest daughter is married to a preacher. It looks like the grandsons are following suit since some are beginning to preach as well. The entire family is a very spiritually active group. They support each other in any manner necessary, even if it means driving out of town.

Mrs. Cloudy is a good cook. She has been known for her baking throughout the city. Cakes and pies of all kinds are yours for the asking and sometimes a small fee is requested, just for the ingredients. She has baked for reunions, church activities, and other events. When she moved into a new home a few years ago she made sure there was a garden plowed and seeds planted so she could have productive vegetables in the appropriate season for canning and/or freezing.

The Mother of the Church is a well dressed woman as well, from head to toe. She is a great counselor for someone who needs a listener. Mrs. Lucille Cloudy is a great people person and if you meet her, you will say she does make an impact to education, culture, and society in Center, Texas.