DUSTER: For the circumstances leading to the Longview City Council rejecting bids for a new police and fire training center. This past week, council members decided to reevaluate the project, which is part of the 2018 bond package. That’s because original construction estimates for the facility were $2 million, but bids ranged from almost $4.2 million to $4.9 million. City officials said they would consider which parts of the project can be cheaper before again taking bids. City spokesman Shawn Hara cited increased costs of construction materials for the eye-popping bids. The main purpose of the new police and fire training facility is to relocate a long-controversial fire training center from the Stamper Park neighborhood. The city already has removed tank cars from the area that the fire department used for training on how to respond to train derailments. The new training center will be built on about 90 acres in the Longview Business Park off Eastman Road. It’s unfortunate that economic realities have put a damper on progress for the facility. We hope officials are able to effectively and efficiently lower the project costs.
GUSHER: For a state award honoring fallen Panola County sheriff’s Deputy Chris Dickerson. Gov. Greg Abbott presented a Star of Texas award to Dickerson at a recent ceremony attended by Dickerson’s wife and daughter. The annual awards are given to peace officers, firefighters and first responders who demonstrated heroism and sacrifice in service to their communities and Texas. Dickerson was killed in the line of duty Dec. 31, 2019.
GUSHER: For a new downtown Longview mural painted by a Spring Hill High School freshman. The mural on the back wall of Texas Tire Exchange at Tyler and High streets, titled “Spring Melody,” was created by Ava Arnold, 14, with help from her mother, Wendy Arnold. The mural is among several commissioned by Arts!Longview to enhance the city’s cultural arts district. We continue to be wowed by the creations of Ava and the other artists whose murals now adorn downtown buildings. The efforts by Arts!Longview to enhance the cultural district are admirable. Ava’s mural as well as two others will officially be dedicated Oct. 7 during the next downtown ArtWalk.
GUSHER: For a Longview woman’s bid to become Miss Texas Latina. Michelle Gamboa, who was born in Mexico, migrated to East Texas at age 7 and eventually graduated from Texas A&M University. She’s the first Miss Longview Latina in the pageant and the only East Texan participating in the competition. Each contestant has a platform, and Gamboa’s is ending child abuse and neglect. She aims to give a platform to Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, for which she volunteers. Congratulations to Gamboa for being a Longview trailblazer, and we wish her luck in the competition, which is set Oct. 28 to 31 in Houston. The winner will advance to the Miss USA Latina pageant.
GUSHER: For an honor won by a Pine Tree High School art teacher. Spring Parnell, who also is a professional artist, recently earned the Marty Zewick Artist Award, which came with $10,000. The award is named after Zewick, one of the founders of the Edom Art Festival in Van Zandt County. Parnell, who grew up in Alaska, said she fell in love with art in elementary school and encourages her students to pursue their passion for art. She said she plans to use the money for art supplies, studio space and a gallery of her own.