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Kilgore amends local banner, sign ordinance

The Kilgore City Council earlier this month amended its ordinance governing banners and temporary signs with a goal of providing clarity on how and where they can be used.

In general, the changes provide new opportunities for the use of banners and temporary signs — but with the goal of providing a neat and clean appearance for the roadways that these signs and banners typically tend to appear on.

Carol Windham, Kilgore’s director of planning, says the city will begin enforcing the new regulations June 1.

“We want people to have time to adjust to the rules,” Windham said. “Some local business rely on banners and temporary signs as their exclusive means of promotion, so we’ll give everyone a month or so to adapt.”

The new ordinance requires a permit — no fee required — for both banners and for temporary signs. For a permit, call Windham at (904) 984-4113 or email permits@cityofkilgore.com

Temporary signs advertising softball sign-ups or church bazaars? Those are still ok. But off-premise temporary signs for businesses are still not permitted.

The ordinance defines a banner as a soft, flexible sign — similar to a flag — made of cloth, plastic or other similarly flexible material. One banner will be allowed for each building housing a single business, but the rule allows one banner for each business in multi-tenant structures like a shopping center. Banners will be limited in size to 32 square feet; they have to be attached to the front wall or canopy of the building but cannot cover windows or doors.

Banners which promote vendors or brand names associated with a business can be no larger than 12 square feet, must be attached to a wall of the building associated with that vendor and may number no more than three at any given time.

All banners must be kept “in good condition and neat in appearance” and must be securely fastened at all corners. No banner may be used for permanent signage.

The new rule allows temporary signs, but only according to new guidelines. Temporary signs are signs displayed for a limited and specific period of time and are usually made of paper or cardboard. The ordinance also identifies “feather flags” as a temporary sign.

Those temporary signs can be no larger than 12 square feet and only three temporary signs are allowed per year for any business; they will be allowed for up to 30 days and are allowed only on the property where the business is located. At no time will temporary signs be allowed on public right-of-way.

Except for signs promoting community festivals, conventions, major events and other non-profit activities, no banners or temporary signs will be allowed in residential or agricultural zones or in the downtown core.

Kilgore Rotarians honor outstanding student-athletes

The Rotary Club of Kilgore honored local student-athletes at their Wednesday meeting this week, praising the students’ achievements both on the field and in the classroom and rewarding them with honors and a check for $500.

“In 1986, we decided that it was time to start honoring young people who were athletic but who excelled at academics,” said Rotarian David Castles.

“So, we began this Scholar Athlete program and we’ve been doing it since. We honor young men and young ladies from Kilgore High School, Sabine High School and from Kilgore College.”

Rotary Secretary Kay Castles began the ceremony by presenting honors and awards to the young women nominated for the Scholar Athlete program. Each honoree was presented with a United States flag flown over the Texas Capitol, courtesy of U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert; a plaque; and a check for $500.

Jada Hood, a guard on the Kilgore College Lady Rangers basketball team, attended Roseville High in St. Paul, Minnesota, before coming to play for KC. She was accompanied by KC Lady Ranger Head Coach Addie Lees.

“Jada is ferocious on the basketball court, she’s after it, she’s a great leader,” Castles said.

Hood is also active in the KC Baptist Student Ministry, helps Coach Lees run summertime youth camps for girls and has a 3.8 GPA.

She plans to return to KC in the fall and continue playing for Lees.

Makenzie Cook, a volleyball and softball player at Sabine High School, lives in Gladewater. She is ranked in the top 10 percent of her class, is a member of the National Honor Society, the SHS Spanish Club, the FCA and participates in UIL.

She plans to attend UT Tyler in the fall to major in pre-med.

Emma Taylor is a Kilgore High School student who plays soccer, competes in track and cross-country, is a member of the KHS orchestra, KHS band, National Honor Society and also helps coach young soccer teams and enjoys playing the piano. She is ranked eighth in her class and plans to attend Tyler Junior College to continue playing soccer before attending UT Tyler to study nursing.

Tysen Banks, a guard for the KC Rangers basketball team, is from Memphis, Tennessee and recently returned from competing in the NJCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Championships, having won the regional tournament along with the KC Rangers, who had an 18-6 season.

Banks says he loves the atmosphere of the KC campus, where he assists Head Coach Brian Hoberecht with sports camps.

Ty Francisco, from Sabine High, has a 4.026 GPA, plays football and soccer for the Sabine Cardinals and competes in track. He’s a member of the Spanish Club, Anchor Club and has participated in community clean-ups. He plans to attend TJC to major in business.

Kyle Wheeler plays baseball at KHS, is ranked 12th in his class and is Hi-Stepper Manager. He plans to attend Texas A&M to major in biology with a minor in kinesiology.

Mike Collier explores possible second run for lieutenant governor
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Mike Collier, a Democrat who ran against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in 2018, is considering another run for the position to bring his problem-solving skills to the state level.

Collier came to Tyler as a part of exploratory efforts to see if he’ll run for the Democratic nomination in 2022. According to 2018 election results, Patrick, a Republican, received 51.3 percent of the vote compared to Collier’s 46.5 percent.

“Because I came close, I decided that I would explore and I’m exploring now whether I should or shouldn’t run, but I’m going to run,” Collier told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “My ambition is to run. My heart is in it; I have a strong desire to run, but I do need to confirm that others also agree that I should run. So it’s important that I go around the state and share my point of view as broadly and as publicly as I can.”

He said he wants to see if there’s support among Democrats for him to seek the party’s nomination. His decision to run will likely be made in the next two or three months.

“Texans want a lieutenant governor who will work on solving problems and we have a lot of problems that seem to be getting worse and worse. Public education is not properly funded in my judgment. Property taxes are going up and yet that money’s not going into schools,” Collier said. “We saw what happened with COVID and that was a disaster, where a lot of people died that didn’t need to and then the power grid goes down and people have water problems and they can’t afford a plumber. Our current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t really work on solving problems.”

Collier said, as a businessman, he has experience solving complex problems for a living.

Regarding his 2018 finish, Collier said he came out of the first half down by a field goal, and he thinks 2022 will be a winnable race.

“Dan Patrick, in my opinion, is a very bad influence on all politics in Austin. I think he brings out the worst in the Senate because he’s so extreme and my way or the highway,” Collier said. “I also think Greg Abbott spends a lot of time protecting the state from Dan Patrick. And so, you take Dan Patrick out of the equation and put someone in who’s not hyper-partisan that in of itself changes the dynamic I think quite a lot.”

He said, if elected, he’ll look for solutions.

“The mere fact that a Democrat could win statewide in Texas would change how every politician views what Texans want. I think it’ll have a profound impact on the senators, Abbott and everybody else in a very positive way,” he said. “I hold my head very high that I’ve never held office, and I’m coming out of the business world to do this. I think that’s a real asset in terms of my campaign. I do intend to shake things up.”

He noted that the lieutenant governor is the president of the Senate and has influence in the legislature.

“Some will tell you it’s the most influential position in Austin more so even the governor. So if you come into this because you want to solve problems and make the state a better place and a more just place where it’s more fair and we’re actually dealing with things that affect people’s lives, then lieutenant governor is the job that you want,” Collier said. “What really appeals to me is being able to solve problems in a way that helps their lives.”

Collier said he’s very concerned about bills this legislative session he thinks would restrict voting, such as Senate Bill 7.

According to the Texas Tribune, SB 7 would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify.

“It goes well beyond voter integrity in my opinion,” Collier said. “I don’t think we have a voter integrity issue; I see no evidence to show that we have a problem. But we all want voter integrity, but this goes well beyond that into voter suppression to make it harder for people to vote.”

He said there needs to be a focus on Medicaid expansion, public education solutions, hospital closings, outgrowing water resources, natural disaster responses, broadband access and high speed internet across the state and criminal justice reform in the legislature.

“We have an awful lot that the legislature is not doing, and I think it’s just so bad for our state,” he said.

Regarding public education, Collier said high stakes testing in schools needs to be “reengineered.”

“The way we test is just awful. Teach to the test is a disaster; parents don’t like it, teachers don’t like it, employers don’t like it,” he said. “There are better ways to do testing, and we’ll let the experts guide us as to what those better ways are, but the experts didn’t put this testing regime in place.”

Collier added Texas has invested much less on a per student basis compared to other states, leading to larger class sizes and inadequate teacher compensation.

“We’ve got to put more money into public education, but we can’t raise property taxes to do it because property taxes have been going up and up. But that extra money has not been finding its way into schools. And the reason for that is schools are funded by property taxes and the state, and the state has less and less money so they force homeowners and small businesses to pay more and more money,” he said. “Why does the state have less and less money? Because we keep cutting corporate taxes, and that is not just not right.”

He said schools are receiving less money while corporations are paying less in taxes.

Collier also said he disagrees with the efforts to implement constitutional carry, meaning Texas residents would not need a license to carry a handgun if the person is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a gun.

“I consider it canceling gun safety. Why do we feel we have to cancel gun safety? Which is exactly what this is nothing less than that. I think it’s pure electoral politics,” he said. “I think Texans don’t support it. I think businesses are going to be much less likely to come to the state because of this. There’s absolutely no reason for it, except some politicians are pandering to a very small base.”

Collier believes the state legislature should move in the opposite direction by strengthening background checks and adding red flag laws.

Geekend returns to Kilgore next Saturday
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Melissa McGinnis describes Geekend as a cross between a traditional comic book convention and a street fair: There are panels and cosplayers, but you’ll also see people like the local quilters and the high school marching band.

Geekend will return to downtown Kilgore next weekend, May 1-2, for its eighth year. McGinnis says they are planning a wide-ranging schedule of events to make up for last year’s more pared down Geekend — although last year reminded them of what Geekend was about, McGinnis said.

“It had its benefits, it really did, because even though it was pared down and much smaller than we wanted just so we could... stay within mandates and things, it kind of reminded us of somethings that we don’t want to loose with Geekend, which is that small community spirit,” she said, noting how all of the downtown merchants banded together during the difficult time. “That was something that was just really, really awesome last year. as small as it was.”

Geekend events will take place at the Texan Theater, as well as outside on South Kilgore Street and on Main Street. Tickets are $5 for a one-day pass, $8 for a two-day pass and $20 for the new VIP pass.

Buy tickets online at http://bit.ly/geekend2021tix.

VIP passes include a private tour of the East Texas Broadcast Museum, a vendor set-up sneak peek, a VIP dinner with guests, a VIP ghost hunt in downtown Kilgore, a premium swag bag and much more.

There will be fan-friendly events, such as author panels and cosplay characters roaming the streets; family-friendly events, such as a Cookies with Chewie event and face painting; and a long list of local and sci-fi/comic vendors for shoppers to explore while at Geekend.

“There’s definitely going to be a lot to do,” McGinnis said.

One of this year’s focuses, given the fact that everyone is finally able to come out of COVID quarantine, is helping people reconnect or find new interests in the community, McGinnis said. For example, they’ll have info on the Gregg County Master Gardener program for those who picked up a gardening hobby during the pandemic.

“We’re bringing in a lot of organizations, clubs, fan groups, places that can offer help so that people can get what they need, they can find ways to plug back in and reconnect with things that they may have been doing without while we’ve been in isolation,” she said.

Special guests and performers include voice actor Joshua Passmore, Theatre Longview improv troupe Duck Duck Moose!, Red Dirt Paranormal, T&T The Haunted Ones, singer Sheri Booth, magician Wesselini the Card Houdini, San Antonio cosplayer and aerialist Ashe, cosplayer Paul T. Watson, author Michael Scott Clifton, author Edward Hancock II, Lucky Shot Laser Tag, rock band Jericho March, cosplayer Bill Necessary and bellydancer Lauren Raqs.

A casting call for an upcoming alien sci-fi movie, “Know Thy Enemy,” will take place Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Head to the Charlie’s Sno-Balls and Seasonal Tanning truck.

Geekend is also hosting a Naruto Run, a silly and fun event where people will be sprinting at breakneck speed while leaning forward, arms stretched straight behind and hands splayed open, based on the long-running show. Winners will get a prize pack, for the kids’ race, or a free membership to Raw Iron Gym in Kilgore, for the adults’ race.

Chewie, from the Star Wars franchise, will take photos all weekend and host a Cookies with Chewie event and a Storytime with Chewie event on Saturday.