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PERSONALITY PROFILE / RICHARD STANLEY | New responsibilities, founded commitment

For over 18 years, Richard Stanley has been the guardian of about 1,100 students a day as the Kilgore Independent School District’s resource officer.

He’ll soon be wearing a different hat – Stanley was elected just over two weeks ago as the new Rusk County Precinct One Constable – but he doesn’t plan to be a stranger.

“I’ll still be there,” he laughed, in an interview with the News Herald on Thursday. “Might not be as much as I’m used to being there, but I’ll still be there. I don’t think I could give that up.

“The friendships and relationships I’ve built with the faculty, staff and students, and also the parents – that means so much to me. Parents trust you to take care of their kids. It’s kind of hard not to develop friendships and bonds with them, throughout all this time. I’ll miss that day-to-day interaction very much.”

Stanley won the runoff for the constable’s position on July 14, and he has no opponent in the November election, so he’ll take office in January. And it’ll be the latest chapter of a life that seems to be all about public service.

Richard Stanley grew up in Longview, in the Spring Hill area, one of the children of Lynn and Brenda Stanley, and after becoming a law enforcement officer, he eventually found his way to Kilgore.

“I started (as KISD resource officer) in spring break of the 2002 school year,” he said. “(Wife) Farris and I immediately felt like Kilgore was home. We moved over here in Christmas that year.”

Richard and Farris have one child, a daughter, Ashley, herself a Kilgore High School alum now working at Longview Regional.

One brief break in his KISD career was time he spent in the military, called up in 2008 for a trip to Iraq. Stanley was there for about a year, from Thanksgiving, 2008 until the same holiday the next year.

Stanley, 47, said he’s going to take on his new position just like he has everything else: head on, full steam ahead. He explained the duties of a constable in Texas.

“A constable is an elected law enforcement officer whose duties include bailiff for the Justice of the Peace court, and serving civil papers that come through that court, or any other court,” he said. “A constable is a law enforcement officer, just like a sheriff’s deputy or a police officer. Have the same rights granted as other officers.”

Stanley was just learning how to operate a campaign when the COVID-19 virus not only slowed everything down but also changed the rules of the campaigning game.

“Once (COVID) began shutting things down, we all pretty much agreed the door-to-door standard campaign had to be changed, that we had to change our ways,” he said. “I did most of my campaigning through phone calls and Facebook, so the majority of mine was done at a distance. Luckily for me, I know a lot of people.

“…For me, it wasn’t so much stressful as it was frustrating. From the time I decided to run until the final election was almost a year. It was frustrating that it got pushed back a couple of months. I understood the reason for it. I was more concerned that the ones who got out to vote could do it in a healthy way.”

The night he won, Stanley spent with family, with great anticipation of the results.

“After the polls closed,” he recalled, “we went to my parents’ house and watched the news. We were seeing all the results coming in, but not ours. (Rusk County Republican Party Chairman) Charlie Williamson rang my phone, and said, ‘This is the official phone call. I’ll be announcing you as the winner of the run-off election.’ It was huge relief, that all the effort, all the time, all the energy – not only myself and my family, but for all those who went so far to support me, just a great relief, but also a sense of new responsibility.”

That’s a challenge in which Stanley has been meeting his entire life.

“I worked with the schools just over 18 years,” he said. “I have so enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed it, and all the positive things I’ve gotten to be involved in – what other position in the police department allows you to go and celebrate state championships?

“I really feel that serving our community in that capacity was my calling. I want to continue what I’m doing but broaden that to a bigger area. I’m looking at the opportunity (of helping serve) four school districts in Precinct One of Rusk County. I’m looking at the possibility of expanding to others. There’s nothing else within the law enforcement community that you can make such an impact on so many people.”

Stanley said the next chapter in his career, he’ll have the same attitude as the first few.

“I’m willing to work with anybody who’s willing to work with me,” he said. “We all have ultimately the same goal, which is to make this area a better place.”


News
CRUISING IN STYLE! | KC awards brand new car, checks to hard-working students

One lucky Kilgore College student will be driving home in a brand new Chevrolet Cruze and nine others will have some financial assistance as they pursue their educations.

Dani Moreno, a Kinesiology major from Houston, won the grand prize of a new Chevy Cruze Friday morning as nine other students took home checks from KC.

“It feels great!” Moreno said about her win. “It’s so cool. I was not expecting this at all.”

Moreno said she doesn’t currently have a vehicle and the new Cruze will be especially useful.

The 10 finalists assembled on the Mike Miller Plaza in front of KC’s Watson Library Friday for a brief ceremony that was slightly delayed by a rain shower. The first eight $500 winners were drawn at random from a bowl of names and the final two were each allowed to choose a key fob, only one of which would unlock the new vehicle.

The moment of truth came as the fobs were pressed and Moreno raised her hand to her face in surprise as the other contestants cheered.

The car, donated by Patterson Chevrolet of Kilgore, was the grand prize in KC’s “Cruise For Success” program. The first runner-up prize was a check for $1,000 and the eight remaining prizes were $500 checks.

The “Cruise for Success” program allows qualifying KC students to earn points throughout the fall and spring semesters for a chance to win a new car, sponsored by Patterson Chevrolet Kilgore.

Beginning in August of 2020, qualifying KC students can once again earn points for monthly prizes and work toward qualifying for the drawing for a new car in the spring.

On Friday, the college also unveiled next year’s prize, sponsored by Patterson Chevrolet in Kilgore. A brand new Chevy Trax will be awarded to the grand prize winner in the spring of 2021 for the second year of the “Cruise for Success” program.

“We are so thankful for Patterson Chevrolet of Kilgore’s commitment to this program and the success of our students,” said Dr. Brenda Kays, KC President. “None of this would have been possible without our partnership with Patterson Chevrolet in Kilgore – a true community partner dedicated to the success of our students.

KC graduate and NHRA Top Fuel two-time defending champ Steve Torrence, who serves as the official spokesperson for Cruise for Success, was on hand Friday to help with the drawing and also said a few words.

The Cruise for Success incentive program is KC’s way of encouraging student success by giving students an opportunity to win prizes as a reward for doing things proven to increase overall success in college.

KC holds monthly prize drawings for students earning points, culminating in the grand prize giveaway of a new car ach spring.

In addition to Patterson Chevrolet in Kilgore, other sponsors include CAPCO Contractors; Torrence Racing; Marco Inspection; and AMBUCS of East Texas.

Asked where she would take her new car for its first spin, Moreno answered quickly, noting her family would be very excited to hear the news.

“Probably home!”


News
City completes work on accessible playground
Built For Friendship | City completes work on new accessible playground

Kilgore is now in a better position to offer fun and recreation to community members of all ability levels.

A two-year planning, fundraising and construction process was completed Wednesday as city officials, staff and a slew of volunteers of all ages placed the finishing touches on the brand-new Friendship Playground at Harris Street Park. Construction took place Monday through Wednesday this week. Surfacing work at the park will take place over the next few weeks before the amenity officially opens to the public.

Specially-tailored so everyone can enjoy its equipment without regard for any medical, physical or mental limitations, the playground development was spearheaded by Kilgore Chamber of Commerce’s E4 leadership participants in partnership with the City of Kilgore and the Special Abilities Family Fun Event (SAFFE) Day.

First proposed in 2017 by the E4 Leadership Class, the completion of the Friendship Playground marks a milestone for the city in its efforts to create an inclusive community for all.

“I ‘played’ on it yesterday and I think that everyone will be amazed at how inclusive it is,” said Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin.

“Regardless of a person’s condition or abilities- there is something for everyone. It has slides, musical instruments, games and something for every level of agility. The leadership class had an incredible vision that they made a reality.”

The new setup at Harris Street Park includes a wide variety of inclusive elements: from swings designed for individuals in wheelchairs to a fully-accessible two-story ‘treehouse’ structure. There are sensory toys as well, each piece of equipment specially picked to make Friendship Playground a welcoming place for anyone regardless of mobility restrictions or learning disabilities.

Fundraising for the playground began in 2018, with the E4 class raising $50,000 for the project and City of Kilgore contributing an additional $75,000.

Kilgore Public Library Director Stacey Cole helped to organize the project, fundraising and volunteers for the project.

“The volunteer build was finished yesterday but we do not anticipate being able to open the playground until late August,” Cole said Thursday.

She added the playground was unlike anything seen before in the city and its completion marks a new chapter in the drive to create a more inclusive community.

“Friendship Playground is quite different from any of our other playgrounds within the city as it has many features that allow for inclusive play. I am very excited to see all of the children and parents who may be unable to play on traditional playgrounds utilize Friendship Playground. It is another way we can promote inclusiveness, provide an amenity for our citizens and make all feel welcome.”

Cole said the playground was purchased from Game Time, who also gave a matching grant towards the equipment.

The group received feedback and direction over a two-year period, setting up a booth at Kilgore’s annual SAFFE Day event to learn more about what type of equipment and activities would be most useful at the playground.

“People don’t realize, it’s not only for the kids with mobility or medical or any kind of physical limitations, Cole said in 2018, “but also for the adults with limitations to be able to play alongside them.

“Our community doesn’t have anything like this, but SAFFE Day is already fueling a sense of togetherness for people of all abilities. That’s already brought awareness to our community, and this is a way to take that even further.

For more information and photos, visit the Friendship Playground Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/FriendshipPlaygroundAtHarrisStreetPark.


News
State’s sales tax holiday set Aug. 7-9
State's sales tax holiday is next weekend

AUSTIN — With the Texas economy slowly awakening from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminds shoppers they can save money on clothes and school supplies during the state’s sales tax holiday next weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 7-9.

The law exempts sales tax on qualified items — such as clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks — priced below $100, saving shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend. The date of the sales tax holiday and list of tax-exempt items are set by the Texas Legislature.

“Even though significant uncertainty remains for our public and private schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sales tax holiday is a perfect opportunity to save money on school supplies and other tax-free items at a time when many Texans are carefully monitoring their family finances,” Hegar said. “Online shopping is covered, so I encourage all Texans to shop online or practice social distancing when making in-store purchases. We want folks to stay safe while saving money.”

Apparel and school supplies that may be purchased tax-free are listed on the comptroller’s website at TexasTaxHoliday.org.

To promote social distancing, the comptroller’s office wants all taxpayers to know that during the annual sales tax holiday, qualifying items can be purchased online or by telephone, mail, custom order or any other means (including in-store purchases) tax free, when either:

 the item is both delivered to, and paid for by, the customer during the exemption period; or

 the customer orders and pays for the item, and the seller accepts the order during the exemption period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period ends.

Texas’ sales tax holiday weekend has been an annual event since 1999, allowing Texans to save millions of dollars in state and local sales taxes each year.

Uncertainty surrounding consumer activity in the retail sector coupled with a lack of clarity regarding the timing and nature of schools reopening prevents the agency from producing an estimate for dollars saved by taxpayers during this year’s holiday.

Last year’s holiday generated an estimated $102.2 million in savings for Texas taxpayers.