Welcome to the Letters To The Editor section

A Letter Of Thanks To Panhandle

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone, not only at the courthouse, but also in the community to say thank you for welcoming me and my family to the community. We have been in the community for a year now and it just feels like home.

My name is Vanessa Watkins and most of you know me as Vanessa Biggs. I am the daughter of the Kathy and the late Wayne Biggs and granddaughter the late Betty and Jim Biggs.

As some of you may know, I am not brand new to the community, but have been in and out of the community throughout the years including my third grade year at Panhandle Elementary as well as summer vacations and holidays.

I want you also to know that I am now working in the courthouse as Judge Dan Looten’s secretary and loving it. It has been an awesome opportunity for me, especially with my children being in school here. It has been awesome seeng my children become the fourth generation to grow up in Panhandle.

So, thank you so much for welcoming us to this town of Pride and Purpose and I look forward to serving you the best that I can. My husband is James Watkins who works at Bell Helicopter in the Security department and my two boys are Blayne and Issac Watkins.

Thanks Panhandle, so much for everything.

Vanessa Watkins

Letter To The Panhandle Community:

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

To all the emergency personnel, firefighters, policemen and DPS officers in Panhandle who worked the accident our daughter was in Friday, May 22, we thank you. Thank you for your quick response. Thank you for your gentle handling in getting Mary out of the truck. Thank you for all you did to keep her alive. Thank you for giving up your evening with your family to help ours. Thank you for coming to the hospital to check on her. I am so sorry, I do not remember all your names, but my husband and I owe you a debt we can never repay. We will be forever grateful to you for your willingness to help. We thank you, too, Panhandle High School students, who, though on your bus, took the time to pray for our daughter, Mary. Her injuries were life threatening. In fact, the accident was called in as a “one fatality” accident. You have no idea how it makes us feel to know that you took the time to pray for someone you did not know. Your compassion and concern shouts volumes of the quality of students in the Panhandle School District.

The emergency personnel told us your school had just completed the Shattered Dreams program. Then you witnessed an accident involving alcohol that seriously injured a woman who was not drinking. Unlike Shattered Dreams, she was not able to wash fake blood off of her face and change her clothes and go back to her everyday life. She laid near death in that pick-up. It was not an act.

For you, the Panhandle students, I hope the memory of that night will be forever etched in your minds and that you will never be guilty of taking a drink and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Thanks to all of you, our daughter is on the road to recovery from very serious physical injuries. In Panhandle that night, because the people of Panhandle did their jobs and those students interceded with prayer for our child, she is alive and with us today.

How can we ever repay such a wonderful gift? There are no words.

Thank you,
Sharon & Al Williams

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Panhandle isn’t so bad after all.
I remember as a young teenager growing up in Panhandle hearing other kids saying how they couldn’t wait to graduate and leave Panhandle. I guess at that age if you hear something often enough, you tend to accept and believe what you hear. Now that I’ve graduated, left for nearly 20 years and come back to Panhandle, I often hear co-workers ask me WHY I choose to live in Panhandle. I’ve got a simple answer for them – the people.
I was unfortunate enough to be involved in a multi-vehicle accident a few days ago and saw yet another reason why the people in Panhandle make it such a great place to live. I would like to thank the first responders of our town, the EMS, Police department and Fire department personnel who responded to the accident. I think there even may have been some private citizens (be they from Panhandle or other surrounding areas) who were rendering first aid to me were nothing shy of top-notch professionals who were genuinely concerned about my safety and wellbeing. They provided me superb medical attention both at the scene and during me transport to Amarillo.
I would also like to give a big thanks to Will Stearns for securing my vehicle after the accident. The people of Panhandle really do make this a great place to live and raise a family. Thank you again folks!
Bruce Curtis

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Dear Editor,

This letter is long overdue to my hometown of Panhandle, TX. Thoughts are that most if not all the sentiments expressed are not solely mine. Forgive me, if I don’t politically sanitize every word. However, I’m sure that language sanitation (LS) is not required in this editorial. But wait! LS might be on the next round of public education testing requirements. I pray otherwise.

Seems of late, many men/women that had a direct hand in my life have passed. Countless times I still hear their words of wisdom resonating in the grey matter between my pointed ears. How would they have faced some of the tough challenges and doubt storms? Then I remember in whom they ultimately placed their trust.

Whether it was science, sports, social studies, language arts, music, history, or home economics the teachers who I was privileged to have were more than just teachers. Why, because they taught more than book learned lessons. For me they and the Panhandle community taught life lessons. You (all) got “it” right.

The “it” is honor, integrity, love, courage, humility, and faith. Throughout my travels and educational opportunities across the United States, I’ve encountered this same life’s philosophy. But the standard I used for comparison was Panhandle and the people of Carson County.

Fleshing out the “it” concept one has to look no further than the words of the Apostle Paul. Words that were written down for posterity’s sake in Almighty God’s Book. Those that know me wouldn’t be surprised to find out that The Bible was my first real grown up book to read. Those Biblical men/women never compromised the truth even if the truth cost them their earthly everything.

Life lessons learned from a little map dot town in the Texas Panhandle. Life lessons learned from those “so called” little people in/around that little country town. Life lessons learned from a “so called” little book of “so called” little fables. (I’m still studying that little book for my final earthly examination before the heavenly author…an eternal pass or fail.)
What a huge comfort not only to me, but many others that the above life lessons learned/to be learned are still the truth. “It” still matters because a God inspired life still matters. Thank you for showing and teaching “it” to me those many years ago.

Lisa Wagner – PHS Class of 1981 (ret. 3 times, now just tired!) – Professional writer/copyrighter/current business owner.

P.S. “Having raised little sheep for many years. I have come to understand this: Many little sheep are followers. Few little sheep are leaders.” L. Rae Wagner – 06-06-2014

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

I want to take the opportunity to encourage my fellow White Deer citizens to come out and vote in favor of the pending local alcohol election that would allow the sale of all alcoholic beverages, including mixed drinks, within our City.

You may not know that the town of White Deer is the only jurisdiction in Carson County that is “dry,” while all other areas within the county allow at least some form of alcohol sales. This election is part of an on-going trend in Texas. In last November’s elections, according to the TABC website, 24 Texas cities voted to go from “dry” to some form of alcohol sales. As many of you know, all of Donley County, including Clarendon and Claude, has recently voted to allow alcohol sales. The TABC also tells us that only 11 of Texas’ 254 counties remain dry as of November 2013, and some of those have elections currently pending.

I believe that trend is because local jurisdictions have learned that, like White Deer now, while it is legal to drink here, it is not currently legal to purchase alcohol here. The question then becomes not whether people will drink, but who will get the tax revenue generated by those alcohol sales. I, personally, would like to see White Deer keep that sales tax revenue that is currently going to surrounding communities. Allowing alcohol sales will also draw more local businesses, which will mean more local jobs, further improving our economy.

I understand that the types of businesses and the locations of such businesses will be controlled not only by State law, but by city permit regulating such uses. These permits themselves will generate additional revenue for our town.

I know there is some concern that allowing alcohol sales will increase alcohol-related accidents or injuries. Studies show that when residents are required to drive further to consume alcohol at restaurants or to purchase alcohol, that situation creates greater impaired driving exposure.

Personally, I believe this added income will benefit our City and I want to encourage you to vote in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages, including mixed drinks. Early voting is April 28 through May 6 at White Deer City Hall and the election is May 10 at the White Deer Community Center.

Thank you for supporting your local businesses and community.

Johnny Freeman
(signature on file)
Clint & Sons/Freeman Bros.

Letter To The Editor & Panhandle ISD Basketball Fans

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Rarely does a person fight a battle and have both sides – the hometown and the visitor – rooting for them. I not only witnessed this phenomenon last Friday night at the Panhandle/Wellington girls’ area playoff game, but I was also the recipient of the incredible generosity shown by fans from the two rival towns. It’s difficult to put into words how blessed I felt to have both sides cheering for me in my battle with cancer. My family and I were overwhelmed by the love and support shown to us.

If we could thank each person individually we would, but since that is not possible, please accept this expression of our profound gratitude. Your generous donations will be a huge help with travel and medical expenses, but even that can’t compare to the uplifting you produced in my spirit.

I will never forget what you did for me and my family. God bless Panhandle!

Daryon, Shannon, Nathan, Marlee and Major Brown

Editor’s note: Shannon Brown, English Teacher and Coach at Wellington, is Dana Ford’s cousin. She’s been undergoing treatment in Amarillo, but had to go to Houston today for surgery. The cheerleaders from both teams passed a bucket for collections during half-time at Friday night’s game.

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

(Editor’s Note: Billy Dan Hughes was a beloved member of our community, working for Carson County for many years. He was a 1974 graduate of Groom High School. Billy Dan passed on Jan. 16, 2013. This is a testament to how one man can make a big difference.)

Dear Editor,
In the late 40’s Eastridge Baptist Church was founded as a mission church by Grand Ave. Baptist in Amarillo. At the time the need for a church in Eastridge was prompted by a thriving Air Base and the need for a church to minister to those families stationed there and the people who worked on the base.

EBC grew rapidly and quickly outgrew the house church where it was meeting. Property was secured and a new building (about 30’X 80’) was constructed. Well the need for more space came quickly and several buildings actually from the Air Base were brought in and added to the structure. The final piece of the structure was added in 1954, a 400+ seat sanctuary which housed multiple services until the late 1970’s. Then what would seem to be the worst possible thing that could happen became a reality — the Air Base was closed. People left the Eastridge Community in droves. Houses were empty everywhere and you could have one for pennies on the dollar.

It seemed as though God was through with the relatively young church. Attendance began to decline rapidly. What remained of the congregation was a group of people dedicated to serving God in the Eastridge Community. At that time the language makeup of the community was primarily English and Spanish. But then something special began to happen. With the end of the Vietnam War, there began to be a need for communities to welcome refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Eastridge was a natural place for refugees to settle, with many empty homes and meat processing plants located nearby. When the refugees began to arrive, Eastridge Baptist came forward to sponsor the first Laotian Baptist Church in Texas. This was only the beginning. The core group remaining at Eastridge were not stopped by the radical changes, they knew God had a plan.
Part of the ministry that reached out to the community was a bus ministry where Bill Dan Hughes took great pride reaching children. He worked in the background desiring to make a difference for the kingdom of God regardless of where the children he picked up were from.

Throughout the years, many more refugees came and by 2010 Eastridge Elementary was serving students that spoke 23 different languages; only 8% of the community spoke English.

The church now had only about 20 English speaking members and a small Laotian congregation. At that time the church felt God leading to reach out to more of the refugee groups. The decision was made to reach out to the Karen, a language group from Burma. Before long about 120 Karen were attending EBC and Dawe Po was called as associate pastor. Ministry at EBC was anything but “normal”. Ministry included a food pantry and a partnership with High Plains Food Bank to feed over 100 children per day during school, assisting refugees with food stamp and medicare applications, making doctor appointments etc... Although there were many ways to minister, it became clear that a need for a “Mission Center” for the purpose of providing a safe place for children year-round was needed desperately.

The church voted to build the Mission Center even though the current budget was not being met. The church gave the $15,000 they had to start and the Laotian church gave $10,000. A good start but a long way from the $300,000 it would take. Other individuals and churches began to give and before long the total grew to $50,000. To avoid a price increase in steel our builder encouraged us to buy the steel ($50,000) and store it, so we did. After a year, we had collected about $10,000 more. Reluctantly, we decided to secure a $130,000 loan to complete the “shell”. By the time we finished the shell, we had $20,000 in the bank. Several churches came forward to help and got the framing completed. But we were still far short in finishing the project. Then another miracle happened. For years, during all the difficult times, we would arrive at the church to find groceries by the door and a note that simply said “Mr. Eastridge”. We had no idea who “Mr. Eastridge” was. In early 2013 the groceries stopped. Just as we were praying and wondering where the funds to complete the building would come from, we were contacted by Robert Redmon, Jake Lopez and Jigger Britten, the trustees for the Billy Dan Hughes estate. Yes, Billy Dan Hughes was our Mr. Eastridge. As the story unfolded, Billy’s love for the Eastridge children, community and EBC had never died. He continued to watch and pray for the community hoping he could help to feed the children and even be involved in some sort of building to minister to the children and community. Before he passed away, he was able to see the beginning of the building. His gift completed the construction and retired the note on the building! Billy Dan Hughes was faithful in life and death to the dreams that God planted in his heart. The dream that he had, lives on in the faces of children every day.

Mike Garman, Pastor
Eastridge Baptist Church

Letter To The Editor

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Why are we happy being good at a bad system?

Lately there has been much discussion about schools; their policies, curriculum, programs and etc. Schools tout their excellence on state tests or their varied curriculum and technology advances, but I would rather hear from their students four or five years after graduation to see how their “excellent test scores” served them in college or the work place. And although there are complaints that “The system is broken” or “The current education system is bad” everyone seems content to continue to try to operate by being the best at a bad way some may still wonder if things are all that

In my opinion, yes they are. The state of Iowa has been ahead of the testing game and has tested its students with a standardized test since 1942. The data from the Iowa Test of Basic Skills showed that from 1942 to 1970 students were making steady improvements in math and reading. Since the 70’s, however, there has been a troubling downturn. No Child Left Behind has been left behind because since its inception in 2002 there have been no improvements in math and reading proficiency in students. Based on the long term trend data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress the math scores for students are now only slightly better than in 1960 and the reading scores are lower.

While these are Iowa statistics, I believe they show a disturbing trend in the education system as a whole. The idea of a broad-based education that includes exposure to fine arts, science, social studies and more from a young age is intriguing, but let’s remember the old adage: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

It is my opinion that we must first give our children the opportunity to MASTER the basics, not just cover them. Our teachers are pressured to “cover” all the material that the state deems critical for a year with no time to consider whether or not the students have truly learned and will retain the knowledge or skill they are teaching.

Everything is “test driven” or “data driven”. I wonder what happened to “student driven”. You remember the teacher that could look at your face and know whether or not you understood. Some teachers needed only to see the top of your head and hear the sigh to know that more time, more practice or more explanation was needed. Now we expect computers to allow our students to learn at their own pace, but I have yet to see a computer that knew the difference between a lucky guess and a knowledgeable choice.

The pressure of academics has resulted in a drastic reduction in P.E. and recess, which research shows, is actually counterproductive. Students learn better when they are physically active. In fact, they should have at least 60 minutes of activity a day to reach optimal learning potential.
In conclusion, please consider your own education experience and whether the changes we have seen in our schools these past years have truly been improvements in education or whether they have just been change. Are we improving education or are we just trying to reinvent the wheel? I believe now is the time to have a meaningful discussion on fixing the system.

Stacy Fields Detten (signature on file)

Letter To The Editor

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Dear Editor,

Panhandle High School is doing great! We’ve begun a robust fall full of rigor and challenge. Publicly, folks may have noticed our sports teams’ successes and struggles (which I know does us good) as well as our band’s efforts to choreograph a new and exciting show for contest; and hopefully, our fans have noticed a larger and very athletic cheerleading squad.

Beyond the public eye, our students and faculty are in the midst of responding to the rising standards and student expectations of our world, our state, our district, and our campus. Our 12th graders have been challenged to top off their college entrance exams with higher scores this fall and spring - as most of you are aware, high ACT and SAT scores translate into college scholarship $$$$$!

Every ninth, 10th and 11th grader on our campus is engaged in practical learning that addresses both stated requisites for post-secondary readiness and the state-imposed assessments that help determine if our campus is staying current and relevant. Our high school faculty has taken the reins of site-based decision making and have implemented reading initiatives that have every ninth, 10th and 11th grader reading and doing reflective writing.

This sounds like a simple process, but if you have kept up with state trends, our public school student’s ability to write in expository style (a type of written discourse that is used to explain, describe, give information or inform) has been lacking. PHS teachers spotted this trend early and built into our schedule a time slot and a plan to face the challenge of this new standard; I applaud them...and so should you.

This is just a taste of the hustle and bustle of the Panhandle High School Campus - come see us, come share with us, come be a part of preparing the youth of Panhandle to impact the world.
See you at school,

Jerry Schaeffer, Principal, Panhandle High School

Message From The Editor

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

The Panhandle Herald wishes to welcome the Panhandle Progress subscribers this week. The Herald purchased the Progress’ subscribers along with several other aspects of the Panhandle Progress.

The Herald and White Deer News will continue business as usual as we attempt to bring our readers the local and county news. Our office remains at 319 Main Street and the phone number is 537-3634.

We wish Margie Braidfoot well on her new endeavors and feel certain that she will be successful in whatever she chooses to do.