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Suspect sought in shooting death

By Tony Farkas sjntnews@gmail.com WILLIS — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office is seeking a suspect in connection with the murder of a Coldspring teenager. Sheriff Greg Capers said that Sean Velasquez, 19, was shot twice sometime Friday afternoon at a…

Corrigan-Camden ISD names lone finalist

The Corrigan-Camden ISD board voted Thursday to name Dr. Keith Brooks as its lone finalist for superintendent of schools. He currently serves as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Sheldon ISD. Brooks has 22 years of experience in education, 13 of which have been in administration. He has served as a principal at every…
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TCSO offering career opportunity

By Chris Edwardsnews@tylercountybooster.com TYLER COUNTY – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford announced last week that a new opportunity is available for county residents who are interested in pursuing a law enforcement career. The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office will award up to two individuals an opportunity to attend a local law enforcement…
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Head-on collision results in fatality

Stock Photo From Staff Reports HOUSTON COUNTY – On March 16, a Texas Department of Public Safety report stated that a woman had died after a head-on collision on FM 229 near the 666-mile marker, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The accident happened around 7:15 a.m. when a 2005 Hyundai passenger car heading north drove into the…
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Sheriff investigates gas scam

A box truck driven by two suspects attempted to steal diesel fuel from a store in Shepherd. Courtesy photos SJNT staff Law enforcement officials are searching for the suspects who attempted to steal fuel.SHEPHERD — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an attempt to steal diesel fuel through the use of gift cards and storage…
A box truck driven by two suspects attempted to steal diesel fuel from a store in Shepherd. Courtesy photos

Western Weekend continues festival

Mutton Bustin’ is always a popular and fun event at the annual Western Weekend Lions Club Rodeo. Booster file photo by Jim Powers By Chris Edwardsnews@tylercountybooster.com WOODVILLE – Now that the annual Dogwood Festival is in week two, that can only mean one thing: Western Weekend is among us. Tyler Countians and visitors, alike, will be able…
Mutton Bustin’ is always a popular and fun event at the annual Western Weekend Lions Club Rodeo. Booster file photo by Jim Powers

TPWD seeking input for the 2024 land, water plan

From Enterprise Staff The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is seeking public input to help inform future management directions of the agency. TPWD’s mission is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and…
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Livingston man charged in shooting

From Enterprise Staff A Livingston man has now been charged with murder from an incident occurring in November. On Nov. 16, 2022, The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call near Holly Hill Road in Livingston back on Nov. 16, 2022, in reference to a male subject who had sustained a gunshot wound. Sheriff’s deputies and detectives…
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Continuing to look for suspects

The Livingston Police Department is currently investigating a several thefts that have occurred over the past month at local businesses. The people in these photos are persons of interest in separate investigations. Those who recognize any of the people in the photos are asked to contact the police department at 936-327-3117.

Kembro wins FWSSR Calf Scramble scholarship

Kayla Kembro brought home a $12,000 scholarship from the Fort Worth Stock Show. Courtesy photo Special to the News-Standard FORT WORTH — A $12,000 scholarship was recently awarded to Kayla Kembro of Trinity FFA by the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s Calf Scramble Scholarship Committee. She is the daughter of Kimberly and Brian Kembro. Kembro…
Kayla Kembro brought home a $12,000 scholarship from the Fort Worth Stock Show. Courtesy photo

Beach Boys tribute band to perform Tuesday

From Enterprise Staff The Livingston Community Concert Association will present “Sail On! The Beach Boys Tribute” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Polk County Commerce Center, located at 1017 U.S. 59 Loop North in Livingston. Memberships in the Livingston Community Concert Association may be purchased for as little as $50 per person and family rates…

Axe-carrying man arrested

Stock Photo By Chris Edwardsnews@tylercountybooster.com MirandaWOODVILLE – A man who was seen carrying an axe while walking along a county road was arrested, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 5. Deputies were on a routine patrol when they were dispatched to CR…
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Livingston man charged in shooting

A Livingston man has now been charged with murder from an incident occurring in November. On Nov. 16, 2022, The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call near Holly Hill Road in Livingston back on Nov. 16, 2022, in reference to a male subject who had sustained a gunshot wound. Sheriff’s deputies and detectives arrived on the scene…
031623 murder charge

Child thought to be missing found safe

Haven Barker By Tony Farkaseditor@trinityconews.com GROVETON — An 8-year-old child was found safe on Friday after an Amber Alert galvanized the community and brought numerous law enforcement together. One person, Charles Estep, 50, was arrested on parole violation charges in connection with case and the child is unharmed at this time. Sheriff…
Haven Barker

Sheriff’s Department investigates killing

By Tony Farkassjntnews@gmail.com COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting death of a man that occurred during an attempted robbery on March 8. Sheriff Greg Capers said that between 5:20 and 5:40 a.m. Wednesday, Jeffrey Vance Gunter, 22, broke into Frank’s Liquor, located in the 13000 block of Highway…

Naskila Casino’s economic impact continues to grow

Tribal Gaming in the United States ($Billions) From Enterprise Staff The total economic benefit of Naskila Casino continues to grow, with the facility injecting $212 million into the Polk County economy in 2022, according to a new report commissioned by the Texas Forest Country Partnership. The study by the economic analysis firm TXP found that…
Tribal Gaming in the United States ($Billions)

Legislation filed to require state gaming compact with Texas tribes

From Enterprise Staff State Rep. Mary Gonzalez of El Paso filed legislation this week proposing a state constitutional amendment requiring the governor to enter into gaming compacts with the three federally recognized tribes in the state. The proposed amendment in Gonzalez’s bill – HJR 156 – would have to be approved by two-thirds of the Texas…
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After the storm

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deadfish2021COURTESY PHOTO | TPWD Red drum killed by freezing temperatures in last week’s winter blast float in Pringle Lake, a backwater estuary along the middle Texas coast near Port O’Connor.

Texas wildlife, fisheries experts reporting mixed bag of hits following frigid winter blast

Story by Matt Williams

The polar vortex that pummeled the south in February with snow, ice and record low temperatures caught lots of people off guard and wreaked havoc on life as we know it. Many who lived through Winter Storm Uri will forever remember it as a chaotic week when Texas froze over and all sorts of trouble came in the wake.

The state’s power grid choked, leaving millions to fend off the ruthless cold in the dark without heat for days.
Limbs snapped and trees toppled, taking power lines with them. Pipes burst, flooding countless homes and businesses. Roofs collapsed and ceilings caved in. Lakes and ponds froze over.

At Lake O’ The Pines and Toledo Bend reservoirs, sections of two popular marinas sank under the weight of ice and snow.
Excessive demands for gasoline caused long lines at pumps.

Grocery store shelves were stripped bare and many fast food hubs ran short of meat for tacos and buns for burgers.
For many, finding clean water to drink and warm water to bathe became a challenge.

To make matters worse, all of this hardship and more fell on top of a lingering pandemic that refuses to go away.
Texas’ fisheries, wildlife and habitat took some hits in the winter storm, too. It’s still too early in the game to know the full extent of the damage done in the outdoor world, but some of the early reports indicate it isn’t pretty.

A panel of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department experts offered some thoughts on the situation thus far:

White-tailed Deer and Exotics

White-tailed deer program leader Alan Cain doesn’t foresee any significant losses with white-tailed deer with the exception of a few older animals.
“Obviously, some mortality of the very old deer or those deer in poor body condition is to be expected — this is just nature, survival of the fittest,” Cain said.

Cain pointed to possible damage to native habitat in some regions as a more pressing concern. He said some brush species in South Texas that had green leaves before the freeze are now parched or brown.

“We’re also seeing some impact on the winter weeds which are critical for deer this time of year and into the early spring,” he said. “There are still some green patches of burclover, but we’re also seeing lots of it burned from the freeze. I’m hopeful the moisture from the snow and ice soaked up in the soil we’ll see a good start to the spring green up as temperatures warm.”

Exotic animals didn’t fare near as well in the winter blast. Axis deer and black buck antelope were among the hardest hit. “Many of the exotics don’t do well with extended periods of extreme cold,” Cain said. “I’ve heard reports of axis deer seeking shelter in barns on some ranches in the Hill Country, which is completely unexpected. This just shows how desperate some of the axis deer were to find shelter from the weather. I suspect it will be several weeks before we know the full impact on the exotics.”

Coastal Fish Kills/Shad Die-offs

Sadly, widespread fish kills occurred along the Texas Coast when frigid air chilled water temperatures into the mid-40s in shallow bay systems. Reports of dead fish and cold-stunned sea turtles began coming in as early as Valentine’s Day. Quantification of the impacts are still ongoing, according to a Feb. 23 TPWD news release.

Biologists and game wardens have documented mortalities along the entire coastline, but TPWD says it appears that bays south of Galveston were the hardest hit. Early assessments indicate the majority of fish impacted were non-recreational species, but game fish including spotted sea trout, red drum, sheepshead, grey snapper, snook, black drum and tarpon were also impacted. Experts will know more as gill net sampling and angler creel surveys get underway this spring. Freshwater sport fish aren’t near as susceptible to mortality in freeze events because they can usually find refuge in deeper water. However, shad populations that provide vital forage for game fish aren’t always so lucky, according to TPWD fisheries biologist Brian Van Zee of Waco.
Van Zee said threadfin shad die-offs have been reported at lakes Texoma, Lavon and Graham.

“It’s not that uncommon, especially at Lake Texoma,” he said. “Luckily, shad populations rebuild quickly. Once it warms up they’ll starting spawning like crazy.” Van Zee added the game wardens at Lake Falcon in South Texas scooped up numerous tilapia that perished in the cold.

Wild Turkey

Wild turkeys are big, hardy birds. Likewise, TPWD wild turkey program leader Jason Hardin isn’t expecting to see any major impacts from the big freeze.
“Most of our turkeys should be fine,” he said. “They should have had enough fat and energy reserves to survive. That said, any birds that were in bad shape (malnourished, injured, or sick) going into this event would have a harder time and would be more susceptible to predators. This undoubtedly depleted fat reserves, so there could be an impact going into the nesting season with reduced reproductive effort, but if we can stay warm and green from now until spring they should have a chance to replenish their reserves.”


Texas bobwhites just can’t catch a break. The verdict is still out as to how hard the iconic game birds may have been hit by the cold blast, according to Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader.

“Our Texas quail species do have adaptations to get through tough weather,” he said. “With the right escape cover available, the covey formation does an excellent job of heat retention. However, the snowfall seems to penetrate even good escape cover, so coveys may have been pushed and possibly weakened.”

Perez added that icing events lasting beyond 3-4 days can spell trouble for the dapper game birds. “Bobwhite and scaled quail are only weak scratchers, so they are not really adapted to having to dig through ice,” he said. “Once the body fat reserve is gone birds have been found whole/frozen after prolonged ice periods in the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma. I have not gotten any reports of that so far with this winter storm, but it is possible.”

Doves, Ducks and Bats

TPWD’s webless migratory program leader Owen Fitzsimmons said there have been reports of mortalities among white-winged doves, pelagic offshore species and various songbirds, but he isn’t expecting the impacts to be significant. He believes any dove losses will be quickly offset with a decent breeding season.

“Birds need to consume a lot of food to generate heat and stay warm in sustained cold weather,” he said. “It only takes a day or two without food to kill a bird in extremely cold temperatures. The bad part was that all the snow and ice made finding seeds/insects impossible, so that’s why some birds didn’t make it.”

Additionally, TPWD reported hundreds of dead coots and multiple blue-winged teal mortalities at state wildlife management areas, along with dead or cold-stunned bats beneath road bridges.

Giant Salvinia Knocked Back

The big freeze may have helped in the state’s ongoing battle against giant salvinia. The invasive plant is present in more than two dozen Texas reservoirs and several rivers, according to John Findiesen, TPWD’s aquatic habitat enhancement team leader.

“I’m not completely sure what the long-term impacts will be, but short term looks good,” he said. “We had a cold weather event in January 2018 that was was not as severe as this one and had a shorter duration, but it still wiped out 98 percent of the salvinia in the state. Giant salvinia covered nearly 6,000 acres of Caddo Lake prior to the 2018 event. We found less than 50 acres of salvinia in our initial post-event survey in 2018.”

Unfortunately, the plant has knack for bouncing back. “This event will definitely help reduce salvinia coverage again, but I don’t know how long it will be before we see it floating again on area lakes,” Findiesen said. “Even if it all dies in Texas, it could easily be brought from somewhere else by trailer, boat or other equipment.”

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