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Constitutional Right: Gay Marriage

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As thousands proudly wave rainbow colored flags across America, one gay couple in Sulphur Springs has received their marriage license. After being a couple for 28 years and adopting 2 children, one Sulphur Springs family is happy they are finally going to tie the knot.

“We are just a normal everyday family,” said husband Donny Foster. “I was born and raised in Hopkins County. It has always been our home.”

Their story began decades ago in Hopkins County when Foster and Joe Autrey were in their 20s.

“We met 28 years ago at a party on July 4. Over time, our relationship progressed and we knew that we needed to be together,” said Foster. “Actually, when we first met, he said he didn’t even like me. I think he thought I was a bit of a jerk. I guess I grow on people. Now, we, purchased a house together.”

Their dream of being recognized by the United States as a legally married couple has now come true. Just wanting to be like everyone else, the Supreme Court decision has not only positively affected them spiritually but financially as well. 

Foster, 52, owns a no-kill shelter called Hearts of Life Animal Rescue while Autrey  works at a local pet store.

Tragedy struck the family when Foster had a pulmonary embolism last January. Severely weakened by the medical emergency, Foster has been adapting to receiving supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day and being unable to perform physical activity.

“That is one of the many reasons we are so happy to be married. I cannot work anymore and do not make enough money to pay for [health care],” said Foster. “We pay taxes like everyone else. It seems like we were being discriminated against because my job would allow partner benefits, but we couldn’t be married.”

He continued to say that if the worst happened, his loved ones would be in a financial crisis. Most importantly, Foster and Autrey  have to provide for the their two children. 

Eight years ago, they made the decision to became foster parents. After more than 40 children had gone through their home, they decided to adopt J.P. and Shannon. 

With that in mind, they are both relieved that Social Security benefits will transfer if something happens to either one of them.

Foster said that he and his family have been subject to discrimination in Hopkins County, but it has been on a limited basis. He said friends they have had for years are now offended that they have decided to be married.

“I am disappointed in how some people are posting really hateful messages on Facebook,” said Foster. “I try not to impose, but I have upset some people and lost some friends. I have been the same person all these years. If I am excited about something that affects my family, why am I supposed to be quiet and ashamed of it? It is truly beyond me.”

Refusing to be discouraged by discrimination, Foster and Autrey are focusing on their wedding day and making sure their kids learn to accept others for who they are.

“Our plan is to have a reception, after we pay for all the expenses,” said Foster. “We have already had a few people tell us they cannot attend because they do not believe in it.”

Although not all the RSVPs have been returned, Foster believes several hundred people will be showing up for their wedding reception.

“Joe and I are in this for the long hall and are committed. We are going be like my grandparents and be together forever,” said Foster. “We are raising our kids to be agreeable with people and not teach hate. It’s sad that some people look for all the bad things in people and can’t be happy for  others.”

Arrests made in theft, burglary cases

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Sheriff’s officers Tuesday cleared three burglaries, took two into custody in relation to the cases, recovered two trucks


Plaque unveiled to honor rodeo promoter, horseman and lasso specialist Mike Pribble

Rodeo extraordinaire Mike Pribble was posthumously honored at noon Wednesday with a plaque at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center’s Equine Pavilion. The community gathered as Pribble’s daughter and granddaughter, Cathey Williams and Meredith Caddell, spoke at the event alongside their extended family. 

“Our family is so elated. There are no words to describe how much everyone has done. I can’t believe it’s actually going to happen,” said Williams before the dedication. “I don’t think I have ever been a part of something so exciting and as moving as this process has been to memorialize daddy.” 

More than 50 people attended the Pribble plaque unveiling. Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Manager Adam Teer opened the event by inviting Williams and Caddell to the front of the pavilion to speak. 

Williams invited her family to the stage along with KSST radio host Enola Gay Mathews, Billy Wayne and Charles Helm.

“Enola Gay was the one who had the vision in 1990,” said Williams. “She knew that something had to be done and founded a chili cookout and worked so hard. She ended up going to the city, Civic Center and everyone she could trying to get something done for my daddy.”

Williams said Mathews talked to Helm, who is on the Civic Center board, and they began to work together to raise money and find a way to have the plaque displayed in the pavilion. 

“I remember when Charles Helm came to the Chamber of Commerce one day and said, ‘Something has to be done for your dad,’” Williams said. “He went before the county commissioners and got it approved.”

Williams’ speech ended by talking briefly about her father and how he brought the first rodeo to Sulphur Springs. She said that although he came originally from Fort Worth, his hometown became Sulphur Springs. 

She continued to say that Pribble began his career in Sulphur Springs at a young age. He purchased a horse at age nine and began practicing every day to become the best rider and roper he could be. 

“Back in the 1930s, everything in Sulphur Springs happened in city park. Daddy wanted to hold a rodeo and got permission from the city. He held the event in the football stadium for the first two years,” said Williams. 

One of Pribble’s signature tricks would be to stand on his head while roping eight galloping horses. He also would perform a Texas skip for 200 yards up and down the arena, vaulting stunts off the back and side of his horse, suicide drags and many different standing tricks. Eventually, he was recruited by Will Rogers for Western movies.

In 1938, Pribble built a large arena in Buford Park. Pribble soon became a public figure by performing tricks and fancy roping displays during his rodeos. For more than four decades he held a huge rodeo on Independence Day weekend, attracting 20,000 fans annually.

Pribble became a rodeo producer and director and local goodwill ambassador from 1911 to 1972.  By 1954, Pribble upgraded his facility to be Texas' largest and finest all-steel, 6,000-seat arena.

The plaque unveiling ended with refreshments and dozens of photos temporarily displayed to commemorate Mike Pribble’s life.  

2015 Outdoor Kids Camp at Cooper Lake Sp/South Sulphur Unit

Texas Parks and Wildlife has promoted the theme of “Life Is Better Outside!” And how true that theme is! Studies show that a person who spends time outside is usually healthier, does better in school, and it affects people cognitively and behaviorally.


D.A.R.E. Music and Comedy Review tickets on sale for July 24 event

Deadline extended for chances for new vehicle

Hopkins County D.A.R.E. officer and friends are gearing up for the Third Annual Hopkins County Music and Comedy Review on July 24; the deadline to obtain raffle tickets for chances to win a 2015 Chrysler 200 has also been extended.

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