Topics include the upcoming Smith County road and bridge bond issue election and Texas A&M Commerce degree plan.
I have been a resident of Smith County for most of my life. Through the years I have used many of the 1,200 miles of county roads for work, visiting family, and recreation. Years ago, leaders of the county pursued a course to initiate the study for a County Road and Bridge plan. The plan now exists and recommends we invest in our failing county road and bridge infrastructure. County leadership is following this plan and has called for a bond election to support this vital need for improved transportation infrastructure.
Many of my family members reside in the county and use the roads and bridges every day. We witnessed over the past four decades continued development in the county, which continues to put incredible pressure on county road and bridge maintenance programs. Like many other counties our infrastructure is challenged by increased traffic counts and vehicle loading, much of which is beyond the original design criteria. Many of our county roads were constructed decades ago. The significant weather events over the years caused many county roads to require emergency repair further challenging the county budget for road and bridge maintenance.
The result is a failing infrastructure. Safety becomes a factor for which we all should be concerned for the wellbeing of our families and fellow citizens. The bond program provides major reconstruction, resurfacing and widening with drainage improvements to our deficient roads and bridges.
On Nov. 7, the residents of Smith County have the duty to go to the polls to vote "yes" to provide needed funds for maintenance and reconstruction to improve many substandard roads and bridges. Our family is voting yes for this critical need. Improved roads and bridges help keep the constituents of the county safe and help increase the tax base encouraging more development which allows our County community to prosper. We vote "yes" to ensure we don’t fall behind again in keeping up the needs of infrastructure.
It is time for the citizens of Smith County to vote yes to for improved County Roads and Bridge infrastructure.
Bryan P. Rossman
Your editorial of October 25 responds to a misreading of the headline: “Texas A&M Commerce offers $10,000 degree - but discourages freshmen from pursuing.”
No one has designed a program to offer the American university experience for $10,000. Michael Crowe, in his “Designing the New American University,” devotes a chapter to what he calls the gold standard - a four-year experience, in a residential community, students led toward a career and into life by faculty who are teacher-scholars, becoming for their students life-long mentors and friends.
Each day I am privileged to hear from East Texas State-A&M-Commerce alumni who recount how that experience, on this campus in Commerce, set their lives in motion.
Alma mater, nourishing mother. We never forget. This experience is neither cheap nor quick. But we must be prepared assist a community of adults for whom the traditional model did not suit. A young person may begin college study and then find himself or herself led off the track. Life intervenes. Texas A&M-Commerce has devised a program to reach those who began college study and then pursued a career or a life without finishing the degree.
Capturing and valuating that life experience, this competency-based program allows students to remain in their jobs and lives, receive appropriate credit for professional accomplishments, and finish online those courses necessary for a bachelor’s degree.
No freshman is denied access to this program, though it is not conceived to meet the needs of an 18-year-old just graduating from high school. Texas A&M University-Commerce must remain innovative in its delivery of education to meet the demands of a changing yet vibrant Texas.
Dr. Ray Keck
President, Texas A&M University-Commerce