It seems too good to be true, especially to parents – but it is true.
Kilgore ISD has announced plans to offer free meals to all students for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, starting this coming Monday, November 2.
The announcement was made on social media at the end of last week, following a decision by the United States Department of Agriculture (which oversees public school lunch programs) to extend additional funding to schools, allowing free meals to be offered in schools nationwide through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
An October 9 press release from USDA announced the decision:
“U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced (Oct. 9) that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. The flexibilities extended today will allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to provide no cost meals to all children, available at over 90,000 sites across the country, through June 30, 2021.”
KISD has also taken part in the Summer Food Service program in recent years, offering free meals to young people over the summer months when school is out of session. This is because many low-income families in the East Texas area often rely on school breakfasts and lunches to ensure their children get enough to eat throughout the day.
KISD posted a “Frequently Asked Questions” document to social media Monday to let parents and guardians learn more about the program. According to the document, the free meal program will start in Kilgore on Monday and will last until the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Until that date, meal services at all KISD campuses will continue as normal.
Additionally, the document clarified which meals will be free: only basic breakfast and lunch meals will be offered for free. Items added to the basic meals or items purchased from the a la carte menu will still be sold at the regular price. However, this does mean that parents will no longer have to pay for basic meals at KISD campuses.
The Grab/Go meals will be made available for free to any child up to age 18 who is not receiving a meal on campus at the same time. This includes children who are not students at KISD. Children receiving the Grab and Go meal packages must be present with their parents or guardians to receive the packages or their parents or guardians must present identification.
Those can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Chandler Elementary on all scheduled KISD school days.
For additional information or for additional questions, contact KISD Director of Nutrition Jennie Hammerbacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (903) 988-3900.
That’s what we like about Kilgore!
Kilgoreites have been patiently awaiting progress (and the promise of Blizzards and steak finger baskets) on a new Dairy Queen location at Lantrip Street and Highway 259 and, Tuesday morning, the project took a big step forward.
DQ representatives, Kilgore city councilmembers and K-K Mobbs Construction members turned up to the location at 600 N. Henderson Boulevard (259) on a misty morning for a groundbreaking ceremony. Two Kilgore College Rangerettes were also at the scene to hoist gold-plated shovels, marking the beginning of the long-awaited construction project.
Ashley Gary, Director of Operations for Hometown Restaurant Group, said the new DQ will be one-of-a-kind in the Lone Star State.
“We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to be part of the Kilgore community. We have been preparing for months to make this one of our greatest stores yet. The new Kilgore location will feature the new Dairy Queen building concept, giving an updated and modern look to the well-known Dairy Queen brand. This store will actually be one of three stores in the United States that will be showcasing our new look and the only store in the state of Texas when it is completed,” she said via email prior to the event.
At the groundbreaking, Gary said the long-awaited construction project would make a unique addition to Kilgore.
“It’s definitely been a process to get here but we’re excited to finally move forward and move forward with the new concept. We’re excited to bring that and showcase that and y’all getting to be a part of that too.”
District Manager Joe Scally agreed. “It’s good. I’m glad we’re finally getting it going.”
Hometown Restaurant Group, based in Lindale, has also opened DQs in Athens, Chandler, Chapel Hill, Cleburne and other Texas locations.
The new design, as well as heavy rains last year, were responsible for some project delays. Residents on Lantrip Street complained about the long delays, which shut down part of the street for months. However, as K-K Mobbs Construction prepares to carry out the building phase of the project, Kilgoreites can finally breathe a sigh of relief (and maybe feel a few hunger pangs) as they watch the project unfold.
Kilgore Mayor Ronnie Spradlin, also on hand for the groundbreaking, joked that he’d gotten a phone call from the mayor of Henderson, which reportedly boasts the oldest DQ in the state. Spradlin countered by noting Kilgore would be home to the newest in the state, as well as the only one in Texas to feature the new design, and said he was happy to claim that honor for the city.
There are three days, counting today, left to vote early for this important election. The early voting period ends Friday.
Election day is Tuesday, November 3.
Missy Merritt and Alan Vandoren are both running for Place 3 on the Kilgore City Council.
In Rusk County, the positions of Trustee At-Large and Trustee, Precinct 1 on the Countywide School Board of Rusk County are both up for election. Dale Hedrick of Kilgore and Dwain Knight of Henderson are running for the Trustee At-Large seat; Phil Patterson of Kilgore is running unopposed for the Precinct 1 seat.
Overton City Council’s Place 1 is up for grabs, with candidates Josh Hill, Trampas Freeman and Curtis Gilbert, and Place 5 is as well, with candidates Christopher Hall, Lane Schurbon and Jason Wood.
The trustee at-large or Leverett’s Chapel ISD seat is contested, and candidates are Tommy Brown, Chris Dean, James “J.R.” Rodgers, Jimmy Faye Waller and Robbie Waller.
Nationally, of course, the President of the United States office is contested between incumbent President Donald J. Trump, a Republican, and the Democratic nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn, also a Republican, will face Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar; that race has heated up in recent weeks, with both candidates running rather contentious advertising. Also, in the U.S. House of Representatives race, incumbent U.S. Rep. District 1, between Louie Gohmert faces Hank Gilbert, a Democrat challenger. For the U.S. Rep. District 4 seat, Republican Pat Fallon meets Democrat Russell Foster.
Also of importance are the Texas State races, including Bryan Hughes (R) facing Audrey Spanko (D) for a State Senate seat; and the State Representative District 11 seat, with Travis Clardy (R) meeting Alec Johnson (D).
Since Kilgore’s voters are in both Gregg and Rusk Counties, and as such, here is the early voting information for both.
In Gregg County, in addition to the Gregg County Courthouse:
• Kilgore Community Center — 622 Kay St, Kilgore 75662
• Judson Community Center — 1129 FM 1844, Longview 75605
• Broughton Community Center — 801 S MLK Blvd, Longview 75602
• Longview Community Center — 500 E Whaley St, Longview 75601
• Community Connections — 501 Pine Tree Rd, Longview 75604
• White Oak Community Center — 100 E Center St, White Oak 75693
• Sabine old elementary cafeteria — 5331 Old Hwy 135, (Liberty City) Gladewater 75647
• Elderville Community Center — 10450 Hwy 349, Longview 75601
• Greggton Community Center — 3211 W Marshall Ave, Longview 75604
Locations are open daily from 8 a.m. until 6, until Friday at 6 p.m. when early voting ends.
Masks are required, and gloves are available on site for those who wish to use them. Social distancing is in place, and surfaces are being sanitized regularly.
For more information, call the Gregg County Elections Office at (903) 236-8458.
In Rusk County, registered voters can cast their ballots early only at Rusk County Elections Office, located on 204 N. Main Street in Henderson. Hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Friday.
Election day voting will be held on Nov. 3 in Rusk Co. from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at several branch voting locations, in addition to the Elections Office:
• Overton Community Center — 505 S. Meadowbrook, Overton, TX
• Kilgore Chandler St. Church of Christ — 2700 Chandler St., Kilgore, TX
• New London Comm. Center — 125 Tyner, New London, TX
• Centre Presbyterian Church — 8531 FM 2011, Longview, TX
• Stewart Voting Box — 13606 FM 782 N., Henderson, TX
• Tatum Sherman R. Smith Comm. Center — 231 N. Hood, Tatum, TX
• Henderson Civic Center — 1005 HWY 64 W., Henderson, TX
• Minden Voting Box — 11389 CR 317 S, Henderson, TX
• Mt. Enterprise Comm. Center — 300 NW 2nd, Mt. Enterprise, TX
• S. Main Church of Christ Multi. Bldg. — 402 S. Main, Henderson, TX
• Carlisle Voting Box 2541 — HWY 42 S, Price, TX
• County Barn Precinct 4 — 13612 FM 1798 W, Henderson, TX
For more information, call the Rusk County Elections Office at (903) 657-0321.
One of Kilgore’s best institutions has received national recognition.
The Kilgore Economic Development Corporation (KEDC) has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as the national Economic Development Organization of the year, for cities with a population under 25,000. The Excellence in Economic Development award was presented at the IEDC’s annual conference last week.
“It is an honor to have KEDC recognized on a national level for such a high achievement. We’ve always known what an amazing job KEDC does, but now everyone does,” said Mayor Ronnie Spradlin. “This award acknowledges the hard work, planning and innovation that KEDC has demonstrated over the years.”
KEDC is an organization focused on growing the Kilgore economy and funded by a dedicated sales tax approved by voters. It is directed by a five-person board and managed by a staff of four with certifications in economic development and economic development finance.
In the last five years the organization has closed deals representing more than $150 million in new and retained investment and 2,800 jobs under contract.
IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders.
Thirty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries.
“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing campaigns, projects and partnerships have measurably improved regional quality of life.”
“On behalf of the KEDC board of directors and staff, we are proud and humbled at being named the Economic Development Organization of the Year,” said Bob Davis, KEDC Board President. “This award recognizes Kilgore, Texas among the top economic development organizations in the nation.”
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions.