LeAnn Kay Rafferty speaks at Tenaha Business Mens Luncheon

East Texas Press had the opportunity to cover The Tenaha Business Men's Luncheon on Thursday, February 11th. We made a video of LeAnn Kaye Rafferty as she spoke to the attendees of the luncheon on the campaign trail for Judge of the123rd Judicial District Court. Mrs. Howard, resident of Tenaha, opened the meeting and the school and the City gave their reports to the organization. The school has had a very busy schedule; basketball season is still active with the Tenaha girls in the playoffs. First playoff game for the girls will be on Monday in Overton.  Tenaha School hosting many games, the dates and time for these games can be found on the Tenaha ISD calendar. During the school report the UIL redistricting was mentioned pointing out that the furthest team to play in football would be about 3 hours away. This information can be found on the UIL website, for basketball or football redistricting. It was also reported that the new baseball park is coming along very well with a new road afforded by a railroad project. Swepco installed power lines for the Baseball field score board up and Tenaha is expecting to have their first game in about 3 weeks on the new field. 

The City report consisted of letting everyone know they have been shutting some of their water storage tanks down due to maintenance and cleaning. A gas line was accidentally cut into from the school and had to evacuate some houses but luckily the wind was blowing in a direction that kept the school from being affected. Seems the gas line was not marked correctly, being about 10 foot off what was marked. Everything worked out safely for all concerned. Good news for Tenaha was brought up regarding the railroad having agreed on donating $250,000.00 to the City for the closure of Railroad Street Crossing. The City expects to have the check within 45 days. 

When all the department heads finished with their reports Mrs. Howard introduced guest speaker, Ann Blackwell our Shelby County Treasurer. Mrs. Blackwell started off by letting everyone know, it’s good not to be here campaigning and thanked everyone for inviting her to speak. She went on saying that she has only been in office for one year but has found out that she loves her job but hates politics. Mrs. Blackwell explained she has been busy the first year reaching several goals she has set for herself. She has worked hard to make sure the funds collected from the Justice of Peace from around the county were getting to the correct place. Before this was a problem for the County. She is happy to report that as of last September all of the JP’s have been fully updated with computers. This has made all the reports identical and easy to manage while making sure the funds are going to the correct place. All the money collected from the county is brought into her office on a regular basis. Another project she is proud of is to correct all the phone lines that supplied the County to Justice of the Peace and other phone lines the Treasury office is responsible for, creating a savings of as much as .99 cents per minute while also cutting the monthly fees for phone lines to around $40.00 or less each. This will save the County right at $70,000.00 a year. She ended with inviting anyone that would like to visit The County Treasurers office to please stop by to say hello or to ask any questions that may need answering. 

LeAnn Kay Rafferty took the floor sharing information with the Tenaha Businessmen and guests about her background and experience. She thanked everyone for inviting her and talked about growing up in the area and coming to the football games when she was little. See East Texas Press video attached.

Next taking the floor was Incumbent Constable of Precinct 4, Bryan Gray. He stated that he enjoyed working for the Precinct and hope that he can continue. He prides himself with working with the youth of Tenaha. He comes up on his lunch break to spend time in the cafeteria to have a little extra security and to show the kids that law enforcement is here to help not to harass or come after them just when they are doing badly. Lots of times he goes home in the evening to take a nap and then gets back out patrolling sometimes as early as 2am in the morning. He makes time to patrol just to help out the residents by shining a flashlight into their yards or walking them to their car. 

Willis Blackwell, incumbent Sheriff, took the floor saying politics is something he sure does not like but he does enjoy working for the people of Shelby County. Sheriff Blackwell states that he is running again and hopes to have your vote. He stated that the crimes that have been going around in Tenaha have been solved and although the arrest has not been made, they will be. The person committing these crimes is believed to be a local person. Another man is in jail in Longview for crimes committed in Tenaha involving drugs and using stolen credit cards among other crimes. His investigators are scheduled to go to Longview to try to find out where some of the stolen property could be. With 7 deputies working, this only leaves 2 working at a time. It is hard for the Sheriff's office to cover everywhere at one time in the County. He stated that it is good for the constables and police to be able to work together. Sheriff Blackwell wants people to understand that they would like to be proactive but because of the lack of deputies they are more reactive. Sheriff Blackwell also pointed out that the bondsman sometimes are too quick to bond someone out on credit or taking these people’s word that they will pay the 10 percent later. Sometimes these people do not show up for court and the County has not held bondsman responsible for this. He cannot recall when or how long it has been since the court has called a bond in. There are a lot of cases that have been dismissed because they did not show up for court, saying the outlaw community knows this and refuses to show up at times. If the bondsman is not held responsible to get these people to court they will not worry about who they bond out. The Sheriff's office is in contact with the office of Representative Chris Paddie trying to put a stop to this. He ended with saying without prosecution it does no good to arrest anybody and we need strong prosecution from start to finish making a difference in Shelby County. 

Each candidate asked for your vote; but each one also stated how important it is to vote, regardless of your choice in candidates. 

Early Voting begins Tuesday, February 16th and ends February 26th. The regular election will be held Tuesday, March 1st. Remember Photo ID is currently required to vote in person.