LONGVIEW — Former President George W. Bush is set to speak in early December at the inaugural program in a regional speaker series being launched by the Tyler Morning Telegraph and other leading institutions across East Texas.

The East Texas Speakers Forum, a new nonprofit organization, will present “An Evening With President George W. Bush” on Dec. 3 at the Belcher Center in Longview.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday through the Belcher Center box office. Seat prices are $65 and $100. For more information or to buy tickets, visit belchercenter.com, call 903-233-3080 or visit the box office.

“We were inspired by enthusiasm in our communities after other recent speaker events, by hearing President Bush at another Texas fundraiser, and especially by the possibility of furthering a sense of regionalism and encouraging East Texas communities and organizations to pull together on this project,” said Ric Brack, president of the Speakers Forum.

Representatives of presenting sponsors Christus Health, LeTourneau University, Longview News-Journal, Texas Bank and Trust, Tyler Morning Telegraph and the University of Texas at Tyler have been working together on the project since early this year.

According to a mission statement developed by the regional partners, other goals include increasing civic engagement and community education by “providing a platform for interesting people to talk about topics that inspire, challenge and concern our communities.”

Bush, who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and was the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000, will share stories from his life in business and politics in a Q&A format.

The board-led nonprofit has commitments of financial support from individuals and corporations across East Texas and fundraising efforts are underway, said Sam Forester, a founding director of the Speakers Forum.

“Our initial focus is to gain participation from Gregg, Harrison, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Titus and Upshur counties, which will include fundraising and future events in all these counties,” he said, adding that state and local officials also are pledging support. Future efforts would include other East Texas communities.

Forester said that any individual or business interested in being a founding sponsor may contact the Speakers Forum via email at info@etxsf.com or by calling 903-237-7755.

Along with Forester and Brack, who is editor of the Longview News-Journal, other founding directors are: Mary Elizabeth Jackson, vice president, government affairs at Christus Health; Cynthia Hellen, senior director of the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University; Jennifer Harris, senior vice president at Texas Bank and Trust; Gai Bennett, director of events at the Tyler Morning Telegraph; Laura Jackson, assistant vice president at the University of Texas at Tyler, and Amy McHaney of Tyler Morning Telegraph parent company M. Roberts Media.

Visit easttexasspeakers forum.com for more information.

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