DEPORT — Mayor John Mark Francis has been appointed by the City of Deport to serve on the Ark-Tex Council of Governments board as a Lamar County representative. 

The Ark-Tex Council of Governments is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1968. It serves nine northeast Texas counties and one southwest Arkansas county, covering over 6,400 square miles: Bowie, Cass, Delta, Franklin, Hopkins, Lamar, Morris, Red River and Titus counties in Texas, and Miller County in Arkansas, according to its website. 

The organization, which Francis described as a “quasi-government entity,” assists local governments with implementing plans; contracts with local, state and federal governments and other public and private agencies and comments on federal and state applications grants-in-aid and solid waste permits. ATCOG consists of executive, administration, finance, information technology, area agency on aging, criminal justice, economic development, environmental, housing, transportation and public safety departments, the website states. 

“They’re not just like a social club,” Francis said. “Since they’re a quasi-governmental entity, they do a lot of advocacy work, too. It’s pretty awesome because you get officials from different states working together for the common good of our communities.” 

“The primary goal of ATCOG is to improve the quality of life for all citizens of the region on behalf of regional governmental organizations by providing a perspective on information and problem solving and by coordinating funding, resources, programs and services,” the website states. 

The organization has assisted with initiatives like public transportation in Paris and funding for a sewage plant in Deport, Francis said. ATCOG’s work includes everything from building relationships within communities to helping write grants, he said. 

“I was thrilled to be appointed by the Deport City Council, at the request of the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, to fill the vacant seat left years ago by Deport mayor Charles Foster,” Francis said in a statement. “What most excites me is that this is a life passion. I truly discovered and developed my passion for assisting others and working to relieve poverty in blighted neighborhoods. 

“Ark-Tex Council of Governments conducts planning, assists local governments and assists local governments in solving governmental problems. I am thrilled to be joining such a great organization with phenomenal leaders that I am looking forward to learning from.” 

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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