Houston County Commissioners Honor Eustice Kitchen, Announce Support for Border Security

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court held their regular bi-monthly meeting Tuesday, Dec. 27. The court honored local business woman and body builder Eustice Kitchen and called on leaders in Austin and Washington D.C. to secure the southern border. 

After opening the meeting and approving minutes and paying bills, the court approved the hiring of long-time experienced jailer Thomas Morgan Phillips to the county jail. A donation of $2,000 was gratefully accepted from the J.B. and Kathryn Sallas charitable foundation for the Houston County Senior Citizens Center. 

Gene Kellum from Houston County Search and Rescue (HCSR) was welcomed to the court and asked to present an update on the activities of HCSR. Kellum gave an extensive update on the work this group has done from training to real-life scenarios where they helped save lives. Kellum told the court all of the staff are CPR and “stop-the-bleed” certified and helping Lovelady first responders train for water rescue. 

Kellum told the court, “There is nothing that can happen in Houston County that we are not ready for.”

Twelve of the group will travel to Arkansas in March for tracking and evidence-recovery training. Of the 27 members, 11 are now trained in water rescue and the group has the ability to set up a mobile command center almost anywhere they need to – thus improving their ability to search and rescue. 

Kellum said proudly they now have a “recovery” time of missing people of under three hours – two hours and forty-five minutes to be precise. The group was started in 1974 but reinvigorated three years ago and has assisted in everything from last year’s tornado to finding missing people in other counties. 

Commissioner Gene Stokes explained to the court his resolution to call on additional measures to secure the Texas-Mexico border, stop the invasion of immigrants and protect our communities. 

“They used to apprehend 2,400 people each day in the El Paso sector – that number is now up to 6,000 every day – in just one sector,” Stokes told the court. 

Stokes told the court the resolution was meant to show support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbot and his efforts to both secure the border and elicit help from the federal government to do the same. Commissioner Jimmy Henderson said many counties were passing such resolutions and this would also go to lawmakers in Washington, D.C. The court approved unanimously. 

In an emotional moment, the court adopted a proclamation making Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2002 “Eunice Kitchen Day” to honor local businesswoman and bodybuilder Eunice Kitchen. Kitchen was given a surprise when her sister joined the reading of the proclamation by video conference. 

A visibly emotional Commissioner Willie Kitchen (her husband) told how the couple had met in a gym years before. Eunice was closing the gym and noticed Willie was lingering at the gym but said nothing to her. Thinking he was up to no good, Eunice called 911 to report him! He later explained to her he was just working up the courage to ask her out. 

The proclamation related Eunice’s story from a poor girl with a dream to be like her then idol, bodybuilder Rachel McLish to her success both in business and as a bodybuilder in her own right. 

This summer Eunice competed in the National Masters’ World Championships in Pittsburgh – a special competition giving older competitors a chance to compete against their own age group. She worked for 10 months to eliminate as much body fat as possible through a regime of strict diets and intense work outs.

She told The Messenger at the time, “I think anyone can do anything they set their mind to, regardless of age, regardless of economics. I came from dirt poor and nothing’s ever stopped me. The only thing that can stop you is yourself.”

Kitchen came away from the competition winning:  

  • Women’s 55 and over, bodybuilding lightweight class, First Place and IFBB Pro Card
  • Women’s 50 and over, bodybuilding lightweight class, First Place
  • Women’s 45 and over, bodybuilding lightweight class, First Place
  • Women’s 40 and over, bodybuilding lightweight class, First Place
  • Women’s 50 and over, physique, First Place and IFBB Pro Card
  • Women’s 55 and over, physique, Second Place
  • Women’s 45 and over, physique, Fourth Place

Eunice was grateful for the proclamation and told the court, “Usually I stand up in rooms with thousands of people but I think I am more nervous today in this little room with you.”

She told the court she has a “heart of service” with so many people in her family serving in law enforcement. 

Eunice finished by saying, “I just want to say anything can come true at any time. Thank you so much for the recognition.”

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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