On September 30, 2006, Jacksonville will experience a wonderful day of music, fun and fellowship. The first annual J’VILLE MUSIC JAM in downtown Jacksonville will feature six stages with a variety of live music. The JMJ is the brainchild of our good friend Johnnie Helm. He, along with many others, is working very hard to make this an annual event to highlight Jacksonville’s incredible music heritage.

I encourage the community to get involved in this exciting musical event. You can call the numbers listed below for ways to plug in. You will enjoy some of Jacksonville’s excellent local talent along with outstanding musical acts from other areas. This is an event that is long overdue, and I pray that we will pull together to support this event, and start a tradition of celebrating Jacksonville’s rich musical heritage for years to come.

Watch the Daily Progress for more updates on the J’ville Music Jam, and call about ways you can get involved and support this wonderful event.

Jacksonville Chamber: 903-586-2217 Johnnie Helm: 903-589-0959

Jay Hooker: 903-589-2637 Robin Butt: 903-597-6788

Sam Smith,


Democrat Hopson not at TSR meeting

Statement issued by the Larry Durrett Campaign

Democrat Rep. Chuck Hopson issued a self-congratulatory press release Tuesday shamelessly claiming credit for the outcome of a crucial meeting regarding the future of the Texas State Railroad, a meeting he didn’t even bother to attend.

In a July 25 meeting with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials, Sen. Todd Staples (R-Palestine) and Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) teamed up with the Texas State Railroad Preservation Task Force to press the case for funding the Texas State Railroad beyond the end of this year, at which point the railroad is slated to become a “static display.”

As a result of that meeting led by Staples and Cook, TPWD Executive Director Robert Cook wrote an August 10 letter to the co-chairmen of the Legislative Budget Board – Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick – requesting a $650,000 supplemental appropriation to keep the railroad running through Fiscal Year 2007. Cook’s letter is a promising development, and Craddick has recently indicated he supports bolstering the state parks budget.

The only problem? Chuck Hopson had nothing to do with the letter, as he was absent from the meeting that spurred Robert Cook’s request for emergency funding.

By contrast, Sen. Staples and Rep.. Cook – the other two state lawmakers representing areas containing the railroad – were indeed present at the all-important meeting. Sen. Staples, who is busy campaigning across the state as the Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner – but who still found time to represent his district and attend the meeting – called this a “now-or-never moment” for the railroad.

Hopson clearly disagrees. Instead of working constructively with state leaders to save the railroad, twice in the past month he has been quoted blasting the very people who largely control state park funding and who are the only officials who can authorize emergency interim funds to keep the railroad functional into next year.

Scoring political points is more important to Hopson than actually delivering results for East Texans. Just as he was AWOL when he ran off to Oklahoma, he was once again AWOL when his district – and the Texas State Railroad - needed him. It’s no surprise Hopson’s poor record of passing legislation ranks him as one of the most ineffective legislators in East Texas.

Hopson’s strategy to save the Texas State Railroad: skip the critical meetings, slam the officials who control the purse strings, then turn around and take credit when something positive occurs in spite of his own inaction and ineffectiveness. That’s not leadership, and it’s not what East Texans deserve from their representative.

Andy Sere

The Larry Durrett Campaign

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