59 trophy

Cleburne ISD Superintendent Kyle Heath, center, and Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon, second from left, hold the Jackets’ 1959 state football championship trophy which will be returning to Cleburne High School following years of display in the CHS archives at the Guinn Justice Center. The trophy, along with Cleburne’s 1920 championship cup, will be going into a new display case located in the foyer of the Jeff D. Cody Arena. Also pictured, from left, are CISD Athletic Director Jeri Larrison-Hall and Commissioners Rick Bailey, Kenny Howell, Jerry Stringer and Larry Woolley. 

Cleburne ISD Superintendent Kyle Heath attended Monday’s the Johnson County Commissioners Court meeting to accept Cleburne High School’s 1959 UIL Conference AAA Co-Champions football trophy. Cleburne and Breckenridge High School battled to a 20-20 tie that year and were named co-state champions.

“I was at that game,” Johnson County Judge Harmon said. “I was about 13. It was an exciting game. It would go one way, then the other. 

“Then the other team would come back to tie and it went back and forth throughout. 

“Today it’s an honor to present the trophy back to CISD where it should be.”

Harmon mentioned that David McWilliams, who later went on to serve as head football coach at the University of Texas at Austin, played on the 1959 team.

The trophy came into the county’s possession about 20 years ago. Johnson County bought the old Cleburne High School building, which was subsequently remodeled and is now used as the Guinn Justice Center.

The trophy was one of several CHS-related items still in the building when the county took ownership, Harmon said.

The trophy commemorates Cleburne’s second state championship, Heath said. 

Cleburne in 1920, the first year of UIL championships, was named co-champion along with Houston Heights High School. Both schools met in the championship game, which ended in a 0-0 tie. 

Harmon assured the commissioners and Heath that he was not in attendance at that game.

Both trophies, Heath said, will soon be “proudly” displayed in the school’s new Jeff D. Cody Arena.

Tax abatement change

Commissioners approved updated guidelines and criteria for the county’s tax abatement policy, something they do every two years. The new guidelines remain much the same with one major exception. 

Where the ceiling for the amount of tax abatement allowed by the county was 75 percent it has now been lowered to 50 percent.

“I think that’s good because the county’s tax rate is so much less than the rates for the cities or school districts,” Harmon said. “If I had my druthers we wouldn’t give any abatements. 

“But it’s an important tool that we can use to draw companies to locate in our county. Unfortunately, we have to compete with other counties in the state, and other states.”

Use of abatements helped attract Louis Vuitton and numerous other businesses and manufacturers to Johnson County, Commissioner Rick Bailey said, and helped create thousands of jobs and increased economic activity. 

Abatements have also convinced existing businesses to expand and remain in the county, he said.

“We don’t give 100 percent abatements so they’re still paying taxes,” Commissioner Kenny Howell said. “And we do need this tool to compete with the larger counties.”

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