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No paper on Monday

There will not be a newspaper published on Monday, July 6, as the News-Telegram staff takes that day in observance of  Independence Day.

The Echo Publishing Co. office will also be closed on Monday.

Normal newspaper production will resume on Tuesday, July 7, and Echo offices will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Prayer vigil held on square promotes unity

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More than 100 people turned out for an evening of spiritual contemplation and humility during a community wide devotion and vigil. The event focused on praying for America in light recent tragedies, like the shooting in Southern Carolina, and by publicly proclaiming the message of God.

Minister Valanderous Bell hosted the prayer evening which included Sulphur Springs Mayor Kayla Price, Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Mike Lamb, Eighth Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt and Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell. 

“I feel like the more our community has events like this, where we get to know one another and pray together, when hard times come, we will know we can count on each other,” said Price. “This is a real blessing for our community.”

Price’s speech focused on hope. She said that through education, teachers and parents should inspire children not to hate but accept each other. The power of religion was also discussed during the speech.

“Parents, no matter how old your children are, take them to church with you. Make sure your children are surrounded by other Christians,” said Price. “Our faith in God gives us the hope to persevere and overcome all of life’s challenges.”

Lamb followed Price to stage. His speech urged the Hopkins County community to humble themselves before God.

“I don’t know if there are any non-believers listening right now, but I would encourage you to find out what this Jesus is all about, ask questions,” said Lamb. “No matter how bad things are, there is hope in Him. He is the only way out of the troubles we are in as a nation.”

Lamb ended his speech by asking everyone to join hands in the audience. All the attendents in the square joined hands in large circle. Lamb asked everyone to bow their heads and pray. The prayer was followed by song.

“American society has taken God out of everything, but until we individually ask God to come into our hearts, nothing is going to change. There are some problems that we, as a people, will never be able to get rid without God,” said Bell

The evening ended as everyone, still joining hands, sang “Amazing Grace.” Lamb stated, no matter the race or background, everyone needed to join together and unite as a community. 

The main  Bible verse used throughout the evening was 2 Chronicles 7:14. Bell read the verse during the evening.

  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” repeated Bell. “Honestly, as a community we are not praying enough and it is creating divides in our culture.”

“This devotional is not about race, or any other difference, it’s about people,” said Bell. “We need to see each individual as a creation of God, look into our own hearts.”

Texas Half-Mile Shootout headed to airport

If you like fast cars, Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport will be the place to be Nov. 14-15, when wannaGOFAST.com brings the Texas Half-Mile Shootout drag races come to Sulphur Springs.

Drag racing has, for the most part, evolved from a quarter-mile drag strip to a one-eighth mile track. The Texas Half-Mile Shootout takes drag racing to the next level — a half-mile long drag strip that will have some of the fastest production cars in the world lining up in the staging lanes.

Specializing in holding drag racing events on airport runways across the country, wannaGOFAST.com brings this race to Sulphur Springs, promising vehicles from Lamborghinis to Chevrolet Corvettes and everything in between.

Awards are given based on vehicle trap speeds instead of elapsed time like a normal drag strip. The race features seven different classes including forced induction, naturally aspirated, rear wheel drive, front wheel drive, manual, fourdoor and heavyweight (for vehicles weighing over 4,000 pounds).

This event is open to cars of all makes and models and every vehicle must undergo a safety inspection before it is permitted to race. 

The race is limited to 150 cars per day plus sponsors. Pricing to race is $225 per day and $400 for a weekend pass. This fee includes unlimited races (only restricted by the length of the line) and a free lunch. Race participant tickets must be purchased online in advance with registration opening 8 a.m. August 14 at www.wannagofast.com/sulphursprings.php. On August 21 prices will increase to $250 per day and $450 for a weekend pass. 

Spectators are welcome and encouraged. Pricing for spectators is $20/day for adults and $10/day for children 12 and under. Tickets will be available the morning of the event at the front gate with cash only. Gates open at 9 a.m. for spectators and concessions are available on-site. 

For more information call 850.585.5168 and visit www.wannagofast.com/sulphursprings.php

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

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

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