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Houston School District bond issue voting to take place Mar. 3

HOUSTON • The voting on the proposed bond issue for the Houston School District will take place on Tuesday, March 3 at the Houston Upper Elementary School.

The Houston School Board passed a resolution in December to move forward with a special election on a $9.25 million bond issue to make needed repairs in the district.

Since then, Superintendent Tony Cook has been vocal about the need for the issue, and has hosted three public meetings. He has also spoken to some civic clubs and other organizations.

Some members of the community have gone public with their support of the bond. These include Jason Brooks of Watkins, Ward and Stafford and the Houston Tourism Board, and Milette Nabors, of Nabors’ Home Center.

The proposed bond would break down into multiple categories:

1. Safety

– Entry vestibules at each school

– Bullet resistant film

– New doors

– Cameras

– Safety fencing

– Buses

2. Roofing

– Upper elementary cafeteria and class buildings

– Houston Middle School

– Lower elementary 2nd grade hall

– Houston High School

3. HVAC units that need replacing at all schools

4. Convert lighting throughout the district to LED

– Restrooms

– Lower: 2nd grade hall

– High school: by the gym

– Football field

5. Drainage

– Middle school front lot and bus circle

– Upper elementary outside drive of cafeteria and bus lot

– CTE/bleachers

6. Pave high school parking lot

7. Upper elementary gym renovation and HVAC

8. High school gym AC

9. Drop ceilings

– Lower elementary 2nd grade hall

– Upper elementary

10. Windows

– Lower elementary

– Upper elementary

The breakdown of funds to each school would be $3.52 million to high school/CTE, $2 million to middle school, $1.93 million to upper elementary and $1.8 million to lower elementary.

The bond would be for a term of 20 years and would raise the millage rate by approximately 11.50 mills. This has been a point of contention for many, citing what they call already high millage rates.

The main argument for the issue is that a school district is a direct reflection of the community, and a pull factor for new industry.

“Our community’s future depends on the quality of our future community leaders, who will be our current students,” said Cook. “This is an investment in the future of our community.”

According to Cook, the district has been underfunded $10.5 million dollars since 2009. He cites this as the reason that many of these problems have been able to progress so far, and the main factor in needing the bond issue now.

Because of our printing schedule, we will not be able to publish the results of the election until the Mar. 11 issue of the Chickasaw Journal, however, they will be published on our website and Facebook page before then.

Houston High School to host 2nd annual Fine Arts Festival on Feb. 28

HOUSTON • Houston High School will be hosting their 2nd annual Fine Arts Festival in the commons area on Friday, Feb. 28 from 6-7:45 p.m.

The event was started last year, and it serves as a way for all of the various arts programs at the school to showcase what they have to offer. These programs include band, choir, art, culinary arts and speech and drama.

“We started this last year and it was a huge success,” said Houston Band Director, Eric Malone. “It is an opportunity to show off all of the different Arts programs that Houston schools offer.”

The event is aimed at people coming and going as they please, no one will be required to stay the full time.

The choir will be set up at the door, singing to greet people as they enter. The art students will have the commons area set up like an art gallery, wherein people can walk around and view the different projects that the students have worked on. The culinary arts class will have a table set up offering treats for the guests. The speech and drama department will have a little area set up to perform a puppet show and other skits. The nigh will close out with a set of concerts. One at 6:30 p.m., featuring the Houston Jazz Band and the other at 7 p.m. being the band with some of the other groups playing a role as well.

The event is free and open to the public, and as mentioned, guests can stay as long as they like.

“They can come for five minutes or close to two hours if they wish,” said Malone. “This is just a way for the community and surrounding communities to see what our school offers and the tremendous talent that our students showcase throughout the year all in a one-night event.”

1943 – Reviewing a year of History and Heroes

The Times Post’s weekly publications in 1943 diligently covered local happenings – who played Rook or Bridge in whom ever’s home, with detailed descriptions of the floral arrangements, the food, the attendees and sometimes even the attire of the ladies. There was also ‘community news’ reported from Houston, Van Vleet, Thorn, King’s Hill, Pyland, Concord-Wesley Chapel and Arbor Grove. If you left your kitchen and scooted over to the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar, likely your trip would be reported in the gossip columns. Each month the County Health Nurse posted a list of all births and all deaths – sex of the baby and names of both parents; name and date of death for the deceased. Even the comings and goings of college students made the paper. Listings were also included of names of patients in the hospital. I shudder to think what would be the result if this type of information was published in today’s world. We would have to import a boatload of attorneys to handle the lawsuits and we would have to build another jail to house those who vandalized the homes of those folks in the hospital.

To my surprise, the County Health Nurse’s job entailed more than collecting data on births and deaths. Syphilis seemed to be quite rampant. She seemed to have been kept rather busy treating the infected. Even the state health officials were concerned with the numbers

However, without a doubt, more column inches were devoted to war news, especially as it touched the lives of Chickasaw countyans – the sons, fathers, husbands and brothers who were in the thick of the war or about to be. I shall share the following as I made my way through the year:

Feb. 11: “Hogan Lyles, of the US Navy, spends a few days here.” Hogan Lyles, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Lyles, who has been with the US Navy for more than 2 years has been spending a few days here in route to CT for a special course, before going to Pearl Harbor. Hogan was on one of the US vessels in the Pearl Harbor area when the Japs made their dastardly attack, Dec. 7, 1942. He escaped injury but since suffered a painful hurt in his throat----

“The son of a popular minister was happy because he had sunk his first Jap ship”. The son was Lt. W. C. “Dub” Stewart, Jr., son of the popular Baptist minister of the same name.

Feb. 25: “Homer Knox, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Knox, who is somewhere in North Africa, has been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry when the troops landed in North Africa Nov. 19. The notice, sent by the public relations department was received in Houston by his wife----

Mar. 4: Another “4-star” family was listed. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dendy’s son Elgin was in Trinidad, Virgil was at a camp in Alabama, Elvin in North Carolina and Avery in Panama.

March 11: A letter home from William Dryfus Kendall thanked all of those who had sent him various articles for Christmas. He went on to write that he had been “in the thick of the fight” and asked that all remember him in prayer.

April 29: “Houston boy is Prisoner in Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Clark of Houston, have been notified that their son, Grady Barnett, is a prisoner of the Germans and has been since the 18th of February when he was first reported missing. A letter received a few days ago follows: Dear dad and mother: I am a POW as you probably already know by now, because I have sent the 18th of February in Africa. Mother, if you all want to send me anything, take this letter to the local Red Cross and they will tell you what you are allowed to send me and my address is on this letter in German language. I would like for you to send me some cigarettes for one thing, or I would appreciate anything else you might send me. Mother, be sure to let Clayton know where I am and tell him I am ok. Tell all those uncles and aunts of mine I would appreciate a few words or anything they could send me. Tell my girl friend I am alright. Well, I will close for this time, will write again soon. Love, as ever, your son, Grady W. Barnett

13 May: “Can anyone give information about this?” was the heading of the paragraph. It continued with an article from a Birmingham, AL paper of May 10. “Ripley, the Believe it or Not cartoonist in a recent picture shows 2 graves in a cemetery in Chickasaw County. The graves are side by side and have the following inscriptions on the head stones: ‘Dooin Wright Well.’ Do any of your readers know anything about this cemetery or was Ripley just drawing on his imagination? He seems to specialize in cemeteries for in another picture, he shows one in Iowa with this inscription on the grave marker: ‘Mrs. Ima Dedman’”

20 May: “While the family of Doyle Davis has not been officially notified, through letters from him it was learned that he had been in a hospital somewhere in North Africa suffering from a leg injury. He didn’t state the nature of how obtained.

27 May: “Local Boys casualties in African battle – Among the casualties on one of the last battles in North Africa, were two Chickasaw County boys according to information from the War Dept. to next of kin. Doyle Davis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Davis, was reported to have received a leg injury and is in a North African hospital. Woodrow Earl Cook, son of Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Cook of Star Route, was reported missing the 24th of April. Letters have been received from Doyle since his injury and he writes cheerfully. Cook makes, so far, the 3rd Chickasaw boy reported missing since the war. The others were Garland Blanton and Edward Land, both of whom are with the Air Corps. Edward was with the RAF. The only know KIA from this county is W. D. Sykes and Grady Barnett is a prisoner, somewhere, of the Germans.”

10 June: “Houston Soldier back from the grave” – Among those returned to duty in the North African area was Pvt. Woodrow Earl Cook of Houston, Miss. Mr. and Mrs. Cook have been notified of the locating of their son and also a letter from him Saturday brought additional joy.”

24 June: American soldiers officially reported as POW in enemy countries today total 17,083, the War Department has announced. Of these 11,307 are held by Japan, 3,312 by Germany and 2,464 by Italy.

15 July: PFC William D. Kendall, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Kendall, has seen action against the Japs in the South Pacific. His outfit was in the drive which drove the Japs off the island of Guam. He is a rifleman and participated in numerous patrol missions into enemy territory. {He used to tell of one patrol when they were on a jungle trail and after hearing Japanese soldiers behind them, they dropped to the ground amongst the vines and undergrowth. The Japanese patrol came so close, they almost stepped on his hand as he hid.}

12 Aug: Howard H. Cassady, nephew of Mrs. Grace Peden, today wears the silver wings of an aerial gunner in the army-air forces. He received the right to wear the coveted insignia and was promoted to the grade of Sgt. after successfully completing training at the Army Air Force Flexible Gunnery School.

19 Aug.: Willie Foster who has been in New Caledonia and Australia for 2 years is at home for a furlough before going to Ft. Riley where he will attend Officers Training School. Willie was one of the first of Houston boys to go overseas.

26 Aug: Contained information from Superintendent of Houston Schools, S. F. Smith, regarding the times for children to report. Consideration was given to the farm children who would be needed at home in the time of harvest – as in beginning at 7:40 a.m. and dismissing at 12:20.

14 Oct.: Words were “Rationed but still comforting”. “Still OK” and “Don’t worry” were words of the 25 words Pvt. Grady W. Barnett was allowed to write from a Berlin prison to his mother, Mrs. Bertie Clark, of rural Houston. Dated July 4, the message, hand printed on a regulation card bearing several 2-inch long German words, arrived here yesterday, 101 days after mailing. Prisoners of the Nazis are limited to 25 words in a message. It was the 2nd Mrs. Clark had received from her son since he was interred in Berlin. He was captured Feb. 18.

Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Davis, Sr. are doing their effort to help win this war, having 4 sons, one son-in-law and one grandson in Service. One son, Pvt. Lemuel Porter Davis of the Air Corps is now stationed at San Antonio, Texas; Pvt. Crawford Gilliam Davis is an airplane mechanic stationed at Lawrenceville, Illinois; Pvt. Malvern Ishmael Davis of the Signal Depot Co. is somewhere overseas; Pvt. Doxie Maddox Davis is at Camp McClellan, Ala. With the Infantry; Sgt. Samuel J. Gormley, the son-in-law, is at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. Cpl. Leon C. Neal, Jr. the grandson, is now stationed at Camp LeJune, New River, North Carolina as instructor.

25 Nov. “22 More draftees have been inducted in the armed forces and assigned to a branch of service….16 Army, 6 Navy. Curtis E. Alford, Brady Andrews, Claude H. Berryhill, Edward Branham, Ted Brown, Durell C. Gann, Robert Priest Harris, Johnnie Mac Hood, J. C. Hollandworth (sic), William Clifton Naron, Jodie Louis O’Barr, Maylon Earnest Ward, John Paul Westmoreland, Samuel Lamar West, Robert G. Wiggs and Dorris Neal Wimberly; Navy – William Clyde Stewart, William F. James, Leon Land, Ross Young, James Leonard Baily and Calvin Baker.”

9 Dec. “Grady Barnett writes to his mother---from German Prison: July 9: Dear Mother, just a few lines to let you know that I am still well and ok. Hope this will find you all the same. How are grandmother and them getting along? Tell them that I am just fine. By the way, mother, if anybody tells you that we get a Red Cross box once a week, it is wrong because we do good to get one once a month. So, I wish you would send me all the candy and cigarettes you can. Tell the little boys hello for me and also Tom Criddle. How is dad by now? I hope the crops are fine. I wish I were there so I could help with them. I guess I better close for this time, hoping to see you soon. With all my love, your son, Grady Barnett

According to information in Grady’s obituary, he was part of the 1st Armored Division, 81st Recon Division; he was in prison in Poland and released April 18, 1945, in Germany, near the Black Forrest.