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Josh Allen Josh is the Managing Editor of www.eParisExtra.com. If you have a suggestion or comment about a story or possible story, you may email him at josh@eparisextra.com.

Local church hosts Vacation Bible School at George Wright homes

IMG_7981The Paris Biker Church is extending their mission to the George Wright homes over the next few days by offering Vacation Bible School to children at 6 p.m. each evening through Saturday.

The VBS started on Wednesday, and the first night’s turnout was good (approximately 30 children). On Thursday, despite the rain, even more kids came to enjoy the fun and learn about the Word. According to coordinators the number of children will likely keep growing, as news of the event spreads among the children and their families.

Each evening the children sing praise and worship songs, then enjoy Bible ‘story time’, prayer, arts and crafts, and more.

“Paris Biker Church decided to come to the George Wright homes because we felt the call to come and try and tell some people about Jesus that may not get to hear it,” church elder, Ronnie Melton, said.

By Josh Allen, eParisExtra

Red Cross of Lamar County encourages community to help send holiday cards to our troops

The Red Cross chapter of Lamar County kicked off its inaugural “Holiday Mail for Heroes: Messages from Home” campaign last week, beginning an effort to get the community involved in sending cheerful holiday cards to active-duty soldiers during the coming holiday season.

Female soldiers receiving personnel hygiene items from the Red Cross facilities in Bagdad (Photo by Peter Macias/American Red Cross)

Female soldiers receiving personnel hygiene items from the Red Cross facilities in Bagdad (Photo by Peter Macias/American Red Cross)

The entire community was invited to the free festive event to learn how to get involved in the campaign for our troops.

This is a four-month campaign, in which ‘card-raising’ teams comprised of local citizens receive 50 Red Cross holiday cards that they will encourage friends, family members, acquaintances and anyone they can to sponsor the cards for $20 each. Once they sponsor a card, individuals can then customize it with messages of gratitude and support.

There are many opportunities for corporate sponsors to get involved as well, Red Cross officials said.

This campaign will culminate into a holiday card send-off event at Heritage Hall on November 6, where all the teams and corporate sponsors will gather to acknowledge the work of the teams, while also recognizing a local ‘Community Hero’ and ‘Military Hero’.

All the sponsored cards will then be gathered and shipped to deployed service members and military hospitals in an effort to bring them cheer during their holiday time away from family.

Santa delivers a Christmas gift from the American Red Cross to a wounded soldier during the holidays. (American Red Cross photo)

Santa delivers a Christmas gift from the American Red Cross to a wounded soldier during the holidays. (American Red Cross photo)

“We wondered how we could raise funds to support our work with service members at Camp Maxey and other local military families without trying to pull off another golf tournament or gala or walk,” Red Cross Lamar County executive director, John Davis, said. “With the creative help of a great board and volunteers, I think we’ve conceived a great campaign that will raise both awareness and funds for Red Cross service to the armed forces programs in Lamar County and also generate holiday cards and messages from home to send to deployed service members.”

The campaign committee is chaired by long-time Red Cross Lamar volunteer, Sally Hensley, and Captain Michael Ford of Camp Maxey.

“The campaign has been extremely well received by the community”, said Sheree Williams, Major Gift Associate with Red Cross in Lamar County. “Our local committee has been busy recruiting teams and sponsors and putting this campaign together.”

If you are interested in forming a team, joining the committee, or becoming a corporate sponsor, please visit www.redcross.org/redcrossnortheasttexas or call Sheree Williams at (903) 737-4390.

American soldier poses with a Red Cross 'pet volunteer' at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southwestern Germany. (American Red Cross photo)

American soldier is visited by a Red Cross ‘pet volunteer’ at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southwestern Germany. (American Red Cross photo)


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid, and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/northeasttexas, Facebook.com/redcrossnetexas or @RedcrossNETexas on Twitter.

Tourism director sends “a million thank yous” to those who made 30th Anniversary Tour de Paris a success

The Lamar County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director, Becky Semple, sent in to eParisExtra.com a letter that she’s written to thank the many volunteers and individuals that work so diligently and tirelessly each year to make the Tour de Paris a success.

tour-de-paris-2013This year, according to Semple, the event — which also celebrated its 30th anniversary — was a “grand success”.

This year’s Tour de Paris bicycle rally was held on Saturday, July 19, and began at 8am. The in-town route had been changed from previous years in an attempt to avoid most of the railroad tracks.

Cyclists from all over came to participate in the race, which had four routes available — the 35K (20 miles), the 60K (35 miles); the 90K (57 miles) or the 110K (68 miles). The race started and finished at the Love Civic Center, giving participants the chance to see the wonderful scenery that Northeast Texas has to offer.

On all routes there were friendly rest-stops (made possible by the many volunteers and sponsors that this ‘thank you’ letter is being extended to) located at different points along the way, giving riders the opportunity to enjoy a free, homemade hamburger, water and fruit smoothies.

A special Spaghetti Supper was held for the cyclists on the Friday evening before the Tour de Paris started.

For more information about the Tour de Paris, visit the website at www.tourdeparis.org or visit the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce website, www.paristexas.com.

The following words are written by Semple to extend some much needed and public gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of those that made possible the successful event that brings so many to Paris each year.

A million “Thank Yous” for making our 30th Anniversary of Tour de Paris such a Grand Success!!

To the most WONDERFUL and DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS in the world!

We are so grateful to all of you and many more for all you did to make the 30th Anniversary of Tour de Paris Bicycle Rally a tremendous success!!

You spent months helping us prepare and finalize plans for his great event!

You made sure every cyclist was safe!

You worked on signage, and then you put out signs in town and all over the county. You made sure the cyclist knew every step of the way how to go!

Then you went back and made sure the signs were ok, and then you took them down!

You worked on streets and county roads filling pot holes and sweeping off gravel!

You cut low hanging limbs that might deter a cyclist on their ride!

You covered railroad tracks to keep flats from happening on 4th and Washington!

You put out many, many barricades!

You worked on the Trails both in Paris and Reno to make them safe!

You ran up and down the route all day until every cyclist was in!

You sponsored this event and made generous donations in product and monetary support!

You marketed our event to cyclists in your data base all over Texas and beyond!

You helped us to pre-register cyclists days before the event!

You donated goodie bags!

You donated neat items from your businesses for the goodie bags!

You stuffed the ‘goodie’ bags!

You helped set up the Civic Center for Tour de Paris for days and days!

You played music downtown and they loved being in a parade!

You honored us by coming a long distance to present the colors of our nation!

You held the American flag to wave proudly as every cyclist entered downtown!

You stood in the streets, and while protecting the cyclists you cheered them on!

You provided communication stations at every rest stop and other locations to keep track of how things were going!

You smiled and greeted each cyclist at registration and helped him or her in a timely manner both on Friday night and early Saturday morning!

You prayed for their safety!

You cut up fruit and arranged the refreshments before any cyclist reached your stop!

You took supplies to the rest stops and watched for weary cyclists!

You managed a Rest Stop, and you smiled, waved, and greeted each and every one even if they didn’t stop! They were impressed with that I will assure you!

You made your rest stop unique and fun!

You picked up, and brought back supplies and then returned many items that were borrowed!

You fixed flats!

You tenderly nursed a scraped knee!

You furnished dozens and dozens and dozens of the best cookies anywhere, and they were ALL appreciated!

You promoted and talked about the rally for months!

You took brochures to other rides around Texas and other states!

You helped with jerseys and socks, and sells were good!

You made a delicious chicken spaghetti supper for cyclists and volunteers to enjoy with all the trimmings!

You cooked a pancake breakfast for Champions!

You made fruit smoothies!

You grilled hundreds of hamburgers!

You made the hamburgers to order for each cyclist and volunteer, and we hope you got too eat one too!

You organized, counted and recounted and folded hundreds of shirts!

You followed cyclists all the way in to the finish!

You stayed after all had left and helped to clean up!

You continued to help sort through and return items on Monday and Tuesday of this week

You gave many hours of your precious time to make this event the best ever!

We heard many, many compliments through out the day Saturday, and from Melissa, Gina, Judy, Randy, Kem, and myself, we are truly grateful for YOU because YOU are the reason why people love to come to Paris and participate in Tour de Paris year after year!

God bless you ALL!

Becky :)

Texas Homeless Network to host free webinar on practices to end homelessness today

Everyone is invited to attend the Texas Homeless Network’s free monthly webinar focusing on best community practices to be used to end homelessness in Texas. The webinar is Tuesday, July 29, at 3 p.m., but you must be registered by 2 p.m.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 10.25.31 PMCalled ‘Bloc Talks’, these free monthly webinars will provide the community the opportunity to learn how to more effectively serve your homeless population through exploring successful practices in housing, mental health and education.

In this monthly webinar THN will bring guest speakers who can talk first-hand about the practices that they are involved in and then they will link you with trainings for the practices if you decide to incorporate them.

Keep in mind, the target audience is the local coalition for homelessness and all parties that make up this group — business owners, case managers, program directors, etc.

These sessions will be brief, twenty minute presentations with fifteen minute Q&As  following. So as to give you the best service snap-shot in a time sensitive manner, the sessions will begin and end on time.

Also, due to the nature of these sessions, there will be no CEUs (continuing education) offered.

In this July webinar, the focus will be on ‘Best Housing Practices’, featuring Johnny Riley from the Texarkana Housing Authority.

To register for this free webinar, click here. Please register by 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The webinar will start at 3 p.m. Once you register you will received a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Big Gun & Knife Show photo gallery

IMG_7910The annual Big Gun & Knife Show, which is the Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center’s main fundraiser, was held at the Love Civic Center on Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of people came through to buy, sell or trade guns, ammunition, knives and many other things available.

All the proceeds raised at the show go toward the opening of the Valley of the Caddo Museum & Cultural Center, scheduled for October 4.

Valley of the Caddo board member Don McCaskill is shown holding the AR-15 that was raffled away and won by Matthew Sheldon.

Valley of the Caddo board member Don McCaskill is shown holding the AR-15 that was raffled away and won by Matthew Sheldon.

The mission of the museum and cultural center is to represent the history and culture of the four northeastern Texas counties — Lamar, Fannin, Red River, and Delta. In an attempt to promote academic knowledge and education in areas of local history, archaeology, astronomy and the arts.

The VoCM&CC raffled a Bushmaster 90391 XM-15 AR-15 Carbine ORC, which is a semiautomatic assault rifle with a 16″ barrel. The winning ticket was drawn by the Lila Lanning, granddaughter of Lamar County Probation director and VoCM&CC chairman, Jimmy Don Nicholson. The name on this winning ticket was that of Matthew Sheldon of Pecan Gap, Texas.

Along with all the guns and knives and crafts, the United States Air Force had their ‘Rapid Strike’ full-motion simulator ride that was available for anyone to ride for free. The simulator immerses you in the high-tech world of the U.S. Air Force.

While inside the ‘Rapid Strike’ simulator, participants experienced real Air Force missions from a first-person perspective, including an F-22 flight, C-17 cargo drop and Combat Controller ground surveillance. The ride lasted approximately seven minutes, and there were no age restrictions, although children under the age of 13 were to ride with a parent or legal guardian.

If you are a gun or knife enthusiast, don’t miss next year’s Big Gun and Knife show. The proceeds are for a great cause that will benefit generations for years to come.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge photos) – By Josh Allen, eParisExtra