Monday, November 2, 2015

At Panola College

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

With Dr. Greg Powell in front of the new
Student Services Building
Panola College, my home base as Texas State Historian, has undergone a major construction project during the past couple of years. A $35 million bond issue, the first since the initial construction bond in 1948, passed with an 84 percent voter approval. Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Powell, president of Panola College, two major new buildings have been erected. A state-of-the-art health and natural sciences building opened in August, just in time for the fall semester, and in October another ribbon-cutting was held at the large, splendid student services building. With the completion of these two important buildings, the next phase is the renovation or razing of some of the older structures.

Ribbon-cutting at the Student  Services Building
For nearly three years my office as State Historian has been located in what now is the former science building, which currently is undergoing a complete renovation. During the summer, therefore, I moved to new quarters in the college library. The office of State Historian is on the second floor of the library, only a few steps from the reference shelves. Of course, all of the resources of the library are near at hand, and so is an excellent copy machine. And after nearly three years in a windowless office, I now enjoy a second-floor window that overlooks the campus.

Student Services Building and a 30-foot clock tower
There is a 600-seat auditorium on campus, and during my first year as State Historian I provided a public program for the Murphy-Payne Lecture Series (the Murphy-Payne Foundation is the source of funding for my travels as State Historian). A fine new venue for campus programs is the large ballroom in the student services building. In October I was privileged, as State Historian, to offer the first public lecture in this handsome new facility. 

Crowd gathering in the new ballroom
The head of the Panola history department is Bill Offer, a longtime member of the Shreveport Police Department who often taught night classes at the Panola College Center in Marshall. Last Year Bill retired from the Shreveport PD and became a full-time faculty member. Bill organized a Panola College History Club, and he asked if I would present a Texas History program sponsored by the club. Of course I was eager to help.

With Bill Offer
We decided on “Texas Gunslingers,” because of the popularity this presentation has enjoyed across the state. The program was scheduled for 6 PM on Monday, October 26. Most of the dorm students take their evening meal at 5 PM in the new dining hall, which is in the same building and near the ballroom. The lecture was open to the public, and a number of friends and former students attended. There were 235 comfortable chairs arranged across new ballroom, and the new sound system was excellent. The audience of nearly 200 enjoyed the program, and many lingered to visit, to take photos, to acquire personalized books, and to examine the weapons and gun rigs I used during the program. Before leaving, Bill Offer and I proudly posed for photos with the Panola College History Club.

With members of the Panola College History Club

New Health and Natural Sciences Building
At the August ribbon-cutting, Dr. Powell was interviewed
by Jerry Hanszen of KGAS Radio.
New office of the Texas State Historian

Entrance to the new Student Services Building

Panola College Band, under the direction of Dwaine Hubbard

New dining hall

New weight room

Fillie volleyball team in the new practice gym

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