In 1999, thirty-seven citizens participated in the Texas Community Futures Forum process to discover the most important needs here. The high priority issues that were identified were health care, economic diversification, forestry, animal damage control, county litter control, private land ownership, youth services, community services, child safety, family crisis, and technical education.

Panola County is located in northeast Texas and borders Louisiana. The population is 22,096 comprised of 80% white, 18% black, and 2% Hispanic. Carthage is the county seat and has a population of 6,700. The county is divided north and south by US Hwy. 59 and east and west by US Hwy. 79, crisscrossing at Carthage. Lake Murvaul and the Sabine River give the county an excellent water supply and provide recreation resources. The topography is gently rolling to hilly and the soil is composed of sandy, loamy, and clay textures. The climate is the warm-temperate-humid zone. The county receives 48″ of rainfall annually on average. Panola County was created by the first Texas Legislature in 1846. The towns are Carthage, Beckville, Bethany, Clayton, Fairplay, DeBerry, and Gary. The major agricultural commodities are cattle, poultry, and timber. The Tex Ritter Museum, Jim Reeves Memorial, and Texas Country Music Hall of Fame are major tourist attractions.