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Travis principal retires early

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A long-time beloved educator has retired this week from Sulphur Springs Independent School District. Dr. Juan Harrison, principal at Travis Primary, turned in his notice of retirement a bit sooner than administrators expected.

Harrison “got an opportunity to work with his church” that required him to “take avantage of it” immediately, so he handed in his letter of retirement, SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb said.

According to Lamb, Harrison had let administrators know well in advance his intention to retire in the near future, and even considered not coming back this school year. School officials thought they’d have a few more months to plan for a permanent replacement.

Lamb said the district will implement what will likely be a four-phase plan to fill the principal spot at the school.

The district will utilize staff who would visit the campus, only asking them to be there extra time, to finish out this week, and possibly the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. For example, a counselor who normally visits there one day a week could be utilized an additional day or administrators or others who might visit the campus a day or two could be called on to fill in an extra day or two, or periodically until a more temporary replacement can be found.

“This week is easily workable. One person could do it for three weeks, or it could be three weeks and a semester,” said Lamb, noting the idea is to continue operations at the school in the least disruptive maner possible.

Who the temporary replacement will be will depend on who is available for those three weeks and possibly, ideally, through the spring semester, until the administrators can screen and interview 

applicants — most likely in the spring — to find a qualified candidate for the position.

“The goal is to find the right person so we can interview for it. We’ll do some calling and talking. We’ll try to maintain so we can go through a good interview process. We don’t won’t to find just anybody. We want a good pool,” Lamb said.

He noted that the temporary principal would most likely not be someone who is qualified for and would “try for the job.” 

“What we don’t want to do is not let someone do it temporarily, then have to turn around and say ,”No, thanks but you don’t get the job,’” Lamb explained. “Who we get to fill in will depend on availability.”

He said that also means current school personnel who might apply for the job would allow them to “stay active” instead of moving them from another “position of need” for a short time period, which could create another shortage.

“We are sad to see Juan Harrison go. We understand the quick turn around. He’s much loved. We wish him the best and thank him for his years of service. He’s a great guy. We are sad but certainly respect the decision he is making,” Lamb said.

Harrison has been an educator for 42 years, serving many decades with SSISD, including as principal at Houston and Austin Elementary schools, and most recently at Travis Primary School.

Parents of Travis students should be receiving a letter from the school district this week if they haven’t already notifying them of Harrison’s retirement, which is precipitating change in the prinicipal’s position.cants — most likely in the spring — to find a qualified candidate for the position.

“The goal is to find the right person so we can interview for it. We’ll do some calling and talking. We’ll try to maintain so we can go through a good interview process. We don’t won’t to find just anybody. We want a good pool,” Lamb said.

He noted that the temporary principal would most likely not be someone who is qualified for and would “try for the job.” 

“What we don’t want to do is not let someone do it temporarily, then have to turn around and say ,”No, thanks but you don’t get the job,’” Lamb explained. “Who we get to fill in will depend on availability.”

He said that also means current school personnel who might apply for the job would allow them to “stay active” instead of moving them from another “position of need” for a short time period, which could create another shortage.

“We are sad to see Juan Harrison go. We understand the quick turn around. He’s much loved. We wish him the best and thank him for his years of service. He’s a great guy. We are sad but certainly respect the decision he is making,” Lamb said.

Harrison has been an educator for 42 years, serving many decades with SSISD, including as principal at Houston and Austin Elementary schools, and most recently at Travis Primary School.

Parents of Travis students should be receiving a letter from the school district this week. if they haven’t already been notified of Harrison’s retirement.

Tuna Christmas Play comes to Sulphur Springs

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Main Street Theatre is getting ready to run the Texas-themed play “Tuna Christmas” in the second week of December. The comedic show stars four actors playing more than 20 characters and revolves around the third smallest town in the state, Tuna.   

  “We have already been getting reservation requests, which never happens three or more weeks before a performance,” said Phillip Bickford, director of “Tuna Christmas.” “This is going to be such a fantastic show and it’s hilarious.”  

The plot is about a small town’s Christmas yard display contest and a local theater producing a rendition of “A Christmas Carol.” Everyone in the hamlet knows that the contest has always been won by Vera Carp, but when a mysterious “Christmas phantom” starts vandalizing yard displays, the town is thrown into an uproar. For Main Street Theatre, four actors will play all 20 towns folks as they unravel the who-done-it plot.

“The play was written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams and performed by Joe and Jaston.” said Bickford. “We decided on four actors to cut down on all the memorization. We are going to be playing males, females and children — I think it’s going to be a very entertaining experience.”

“Tuna Christmas” was selected by the play committee last year, but they hit some speed bumps along the way. This production almost didn’t happen for the theater. 

“We thought that ‘Tuna Christmas’ was not going to happen because we were having difficulty obtaining the rights to the show,” said Bickford. “We kept calling their representatives and they kept telling us to wait.”

Bickford  was told a professional tour of the original cast was about to begin around the United States. The rights to the production said that another production of “Tuna Christmas” could not be performed within several miles from their tour locations. Until the tour dates were officially released, approval for the show was at a stand still for Main Street Theatre. 

As Bickford kept waiting for approval, the theater starting looking at another show to run for their Christmas season.

“I had already picked out another show and started to plan the audition process,”said Bickford. 

The day before they finalized the the new play, they got word from the “Tuna Christmas” publicist. 

“It was around May when we first contacted ‘Tuna Christmas’ and finally got the approval in September. That is really late in the game for us,” said Bickford.  

The  cast of Hopkins County locals will be David Woody, David Bryant, Bryan Deterding, Landon Mabe and play director Phillip Bickford.

“I get to play four characters in Tuna, which are some of my favorites in the show,” said Bickford. “I am very excited we are getting to perform ‘Tuna Christmas.’” 

“Tuna Christmas” runs Dec. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. at Main Street Theatre. For tickets, call 903-885-0107 or visit mainsttheatre.com. 

Andrew Babb achieves Eagle Scout rank; Court of Honor scheduled Saturday

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A Court of Honor recognizing Andrew Babb for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is set for Saturday morning, Nov. 22, at the First United Methodist Church in Sulphur Springs.

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Hopkins County United Way exceeds goal, still going

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Hopkins County United Way has exceeded the $160,000 allocation goal by $24,000, but campaign workers aren’t done yet.

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Key to the holidays

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As Christmas draws closer, Sulphur Springs High School Key Club wanted to do something special for US troops who are serving around the world. Key Club President Drew McCullough and fellow cabinet members realized many military service members may not be able to be with their families and decided to join forces with “A Millions Thanks” organization to write Christmas cards for them. 

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