So just who is Erath County Breaking News?
If you live in Central Texas and are on Facebook, you probably belong to his page. Today, I sat down inside the historic Comanche Depot with Mr. Erath County Breaking News himself, John Forson, so that I could ask him just why it is that he takes the time to keep the page alive, well, and more importantly, current.
“Why? It’s a strange thing. I joined a Facebook group with 300 members called Erath County Breaking News, but the woman who was the administrator of the page decided that she couldn’t keep it up. One day, she asked if anyone wanted to be the admin, and I waited all day while no one answered her. Finally, that evening, I told her that I would do it. I have a police scanner, and I knew I could do it.
“As soon as I took over, I started posting the accidents and fires, etc. and within a month, we were having armed robberies in Stephenville. That really started the page growing, and it’s never stopped.
“Then, a year ago Mother’s Day, we had a kidnapping in Stephenville, and people starting posting. I spent most of the day on the phone with the police and they told me what to delete and what to keep and by the end of the day, we had the kidnapper, who had joined the page the night before, I guess to monitor what the police was doing.
“Once they figured out who she was, I had to really watch so as to be sure that no one posted anything to tip her off that the Texas Rangers and police were coming for her.”
Crazy, isn’t it? And there are those who still believe that Facebook is nothing but fluff! Today, there are almost 19,000 people on the Erath County Breaking News page, and it is the fastest way we know of to pass along information that people need to know NOW.
And if all of that were not enough, John Forson is also the administrator of the Comanche County Breaking News page as well as Hamilton County, Eastland County, Hood County, and Callahan County Breaking News. From his home scanner in Proctor, he can pick up news from Erath, Comanche, Hamilton, Eastland, and Hood counties, but he doesn’t listen to Hood a lot; he leaves that for the members to do.
“Really all of the pages are supposed to be member run, and that is how a lot of things are posted. If someone doesn’t want his name on the post he will message it to me, and I will do the posting. I actually have three scanners that I can monitor.
“From the time I wake up until I go to bed, I am busy with it. It started out as an hour a day, and it has just grown until it takes all of my free time to keep the drama out of it. If it weren’t for that, it would be easier.”
What? Drama on Facebook? I can hardly believe it!
“This week I spent my time on Hood County, deleting posts about marriage licenses. If people would just leave their opinions out and move on, it would be fine, but they all want to express their opinions.”
For now, these breaking news pages are one of the best services I have seen offered, and it is totally free because John Forson, like so many others, is a 100% volunteer, and I’m betting most of you have not even remembered to thank him for his work.
“As of today, we have over 930 lost items that have been successfully found that I know of from our pages. I even know of three recovered stolen vehicles because of them.”
Most of these recovered items have been lost dogs, and John said that he would give anything if he could convince people to put tags on their dogs since that would solve a lot of the problems.
“A lot of good things have happened in Stephenville since the page started It works so well, that I would never give it up. The page really helps people during bad weather or icy roads. Forever is a long time, but I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon.”
To be honest with you, I don’t see how people could do without the service now that they have come to depend on it. In fact, John’s pages are so popular that now, anytime there is a child missing in Texas, the authorities send him a photo of the child to post, and I’ll say it again…AMAZING!
Here at United we salute the man, the volunteer, John Forson, the person that keeps the rest of us in the know, and sometimes that translates into the man who keeps us safe.