|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - June 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Alford named Precinct 4 commissioner
Trinity Standard - June 2008
GROVETON – Following the unexpected resignation of Pct. 4 Commissioner Travis Forrest of Apple Springs, retired County Extension Agent James Alford was sworn in as his replacement on Friday. May 30.
Alford becomes the first African-American to hold a seat on the Trinity County Commissioners Court.
Forrest resigned effective May 30 and Trinity County Judge Mark Evans formally appointed Alford to the Precinct 4 post on that day.
“Commissioner Forrest came in my office a week ago Friday and gave me his letter of resignation,” Evans said Monday.
“He has worked for the county for 25 years, including about 10 years as a commissioner, and he apparently decided it was time to pursue other interests,” Evans said.
The judge noted that Forrest was eligible to retire under the county’s system and said he believes he plans to start another career to build up a second retirement benefit.
Forrest was not available for comment at press time.
Under Evan’s appointment, Alford will serve as the Precinct 4 commissioner until shortly after the November general election.
While Forrest has about 2½ years left in his current term and his post was not scheduled to be on this year’s ballot, Evans said Texas law will allow both the Democratic and Republican parties to select nominees.
Under the election code, the voting box chairpersons from Precinct 4 will gather and select a candidate to represent their party on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The eight voting boxes contained within the precinct include Groveton’s Box 16 as well as the boxes located at Pennington, Possum Walk, Apple Springs, Nigton, Centerville, Centralia and Oaklawn.
Meetings of the precinct chairpersons to select a nominee had not been scheduled at press time.
The winner of the November election will take office as soon as commissioners canvas the election returns.
After receiving Forrest’s resignation, Evans said he drafted a list of qualifications for the person he would select to fill the vacancy.
Evans said he wanted someone who is knowledgeable about the Trinity County and county government, experienced with local county government, educated, progressive and a consensus builder.
“I think Commissioner Alford meets all of these qualifications, that’s why I decided to appoint him,” Evans said, noting that his years as the county’s agricultural extension agent gave Alford detailed knowledge about the county, local government and local residents.
Alford, who retired as county agent in 2005, said Monday he is excited about his new role as Precinct 4’s commissioner and plans to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the November election.
“I’ve had a lot of very positive response from the people in Precinct 4 and I look forward to serving them,” he said.
“Public service is perhaps the most rewarding and gratifying experience you can have,” he added. “When you can see that something you have done has been able to move people forward from one place to the next, it means a lot.”
Alford, who served as the county extension agent in Trinity County from 1991 until his retirement in 2005, said he had the privilege of working with many of today’s young adult leaders when they were members of the county’s 4-H program.
“I’m interested in helping the county grow,” he said. “I guess you could say I am all about progress. How can I encourage my children and my grandchildren to move forward with their lives if I’m not going anywhere?”
A native of Freestone County, Alford graduated as class valedictorian from Butler High School in 1968. He also graduated from Prairie View A&M University with academic honors in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture.
While attending Prairie View, Alford interned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in both Eugene and Yahats, Oregon.
After earning his degree, Alford joined the Texas A&M University extension service and in 1972 was named as assistant county agent in Houston County, a post he held until 1975.
He then served for four years as the 4-H coordinator and community development coordinator in Limestone County (Groesbeck).
From 1979 until 1991, he was the community development coordinator and natural resource coordinator in Smith County (Tyler).
Alford was assigned to as the Trinity County coordinator in 1991 and served until his retirement, following 33 years with the extension service.
After leaving the county extension service, Alford said he was not quite ready for a “quite life of retirement,” so he went to work for the Groveton and Lovelady school systems as an IPC, world geography and vocational agriculture science teacher.
He currently serves the Mayo Baptist Church of Nigton as chairman of the deacon board, as Sunday school superintendent and as a Sunday school teacher.
Alford is a lifetime member of the Alpha Tau Alpha Honorary Agriculture Fraternity, the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Speakers Committee and serves as secretary of the Groveton Economic Development Corporation.
He also has served as the representative for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments in Trinity County, served as the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator and served on the Resource Advisory Council (RAC) for the Houston-Trinity County Davy Crockett National Forest.
He is a lifetime member of the Texas County Agricultural Agents Association.
Alford has been married to Nigton native Billie Mark Alford for 34 years. They have three daughters and a son-in-law, Shandy and James Stewart of Groveton, Julia Alford of Hemphill and Jamie Alford of Hempstead; and four grandchildren, Chesney, Elijah, Malachi and Asa Stewart, all of Groveton.