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  • Polk County celebrates 175 years

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE A pair of photo exhibits commemorating Polk County’s 175th birthday will be on display at the Polk County Historical Museum until April 10. Polk County celebrated its 175th year on Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County turned a year older on Tuesday.

    The county celebrated its 175th year of existence, and the Polk County Historical Museum hosted a celebration Tuesday. The birthday celebration took six weeks to plan, according to museum curator Betsy Deiterman.

    “We had to be sure of the date, research the founding of the county and how the division was made, the legislature, then go through the archives and pick interesting pictures,” she said. “This was a come-and-go acknowledgement of the birthday for Polk County. We gave away a limited supply of gift bags. Patrons saw lots of photographs from many decades. The oldest photographs are framed and the oldest was in the 1880s.”

    A pair of photo exhibits are on display at the museum until April 10. These displays are in commemoration with the county’s 175th birthday.

    “I pulled 75 pictures that people normally don’t get to see,” Deiterman said. “I think we need to acknowledge that Polk County has been here 175 years and it’s a notable number.”

    Some of the photos on display are in need of identification, according to Deiterman.

    “Many of our pictures don’t have identification or dates,” she said. “We’re asking people that if they recognize anyone in the pictures to please let us know. We have a form for people to fill out if they recognize people or dates.”

    A decade and exactly four weeks after Texas became a state – March 2, 1836 – Polk County was formed on March 30, 1846. The county was formed out of neighboring Liberty County.

    The county was named after then-President James Polk. The 11th President of the United States was an advocate for Texas statehood.

  • Polk County commissioner decides not to spray for mosquitoes

    N1006P22004HFILE PHOTO Mosquito on human skin

    By PCE Staff

    East Texas has received its fair share of spring precipitation throughout the past few weeks. In Texas that usually means the heat and everyone’s favorite insect to hate — the mosquito — are right around the corner.

    For many, the mosquitoes are already here, along with millions of their friends.

    So why is Commissioner Guylene Robertson parking the truck that sprays for mosquitos down Precinct 1 county roads?

    As it turns out, she also isn’t too fond of the insects. Yet, through conversations with commissioners from Polk and surrounding counties, she found that they aren’t spraying either.

    Health effects are the main reason, as pesticides can cause both acute and chronic problems. Acute health effects appear shortly after exposure to some pesticides and can include skin and eye irritations, headaches, dizziness and nausea, weakness, difficulty breathing, mental confusion and disorientation.

    “The times have changed environmentally, and things that were considered safe in the past are no longer acceptable or recommended,” Robertson said. “At this time, motor-driven mosquito spraying is in that category.”

    Precinct 1 was the only in Polk County that has sprayed for mosquitoes over the past few years. However, the City of Livingston continues to do so. Roberston said the decision not to spray was one that was difficult.

    “Due to the hazards and concerns environmentally Polk County Precinct 2, 3, and 4 have not sprayed for mosquitoes for several years,” Robertson said. “This summer, Precinct 1 will now be doing the same, while observing all environmental safety aspects.”

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several organophosphates, a class of insecticides, are highly toxic and poison insects and other animals, including birds, amphibians and mammals. Until the 21st century, they were among the most widely used insecticides available. Around 36 of them are presently registered for use in the United States, and all can potentially cause acute and subacute toxicity. Organophosphates are used in agriculture, homes, gardens and veterinary practices.

    The EPA has a few suggestions in preventing mosquito bites. The first is to eliminate any standing water (even small amounts) to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs. If water cannot be eliminated, as in ornamental water features, use mosquito larvicide products (available at many retailers) or other pest control measures to minimize breeding opportunities. You may be able to add fish that eat larvae to a pond. Adding a fountain or aerator will keep the water and mosquitoes moving.

    The agency suggests use of window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, workplace, or children’s schools. Dress in light-colored clothing, long pants, and long sleeves. EPA-registered insect repellents will also prevent bites. Products that are EPA-registered have been confirmed to be safe and effective when label directions are followed.

    There are several different homemade concoctions that can be found on the Internet. We have provided one such mix below.

    HOMEMADE MOSQUITO SPRAY RECIPE

    • 1 bottle of blue mint mouthwash 
    • 3 bottles (per 12 oz) of stale beer (take the cheapest – it works as well)
    • 3 cups of Epsom salt

    Pour beer and mouthwash into a container (an old saucepan, a bucket), stir and add the salt. Mix up the solution properly until salt is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake well before use and spray areas where you spend time outside.

  • Polk County hero receives historical marker (VIDEO)

    20210417 110050BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Polk County Historical Commission held a Texas Historical Marker dedication for Lt. Col. James M. Parker. The Polk Countian was part of the Doolittle Raid, the United States’ first attack on the Japanese mainland in World War II. The dedication was Saturday morning at Restland Memorial Cemetery off Highway 59. Saturday coincided with the 79th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The Polk County Museum, located at 514 Mill Street in Livingston, has an exhibit honoring Parker that will continue until May 22.

    Historical marker video

  • Polk County implements burn ban

    burn ban logoCOURTESY PHOTO Polk County implemented a burn ban Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy put a burn ban in place for unincorporated parts of the county Tuesday.

    The ban was put in place because of drought conditions caused by a lack of rain int he area. There were other circumstances as well.

    “Fire events in neighboring counties and drying out of fuel material,” Samuel Murra of the Polk County Office of Emergency Management said. “We’re getting really dry and KBDI (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) is getting high.”

    Murra, the Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, said La Nina is likely the reason for the lack of rain. La Nina conditions historically translate into warmer and drier than normal conditions for Texas during the winter and spring fire season.

    A La Nina advisory was put into place Nov. 12. The Climate Prediction Center believes that La Nina will likely continue into the spring.

    Murra said the burn ban is at least the second put in place this year. One was put in place following the tornado that touched down in the county in late April.

    While the burn ban only applies to unincorporated areas of the county, the city of Corrigan also issued a burn ban. The city of Onalaska is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss whether or not to put a burn ban in place.

    “Be careful, especially with yard work,” Murra said. “While mowing, make sure you’re not accidentally causing a fire. Be careful with cigarettes or any ignition sorts. Always be cognizant of what’s going on.”

  • Polk County receives Freeze Warning

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE This stretch of land along US Highway 190 in between Livingston and Onalaska had frost on it Tuesday morning. Polk County and several other counties in Southeast Texas experienced a freeze warning Monday night and Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County experienced freezing temperatures Monday night and Tuesday morning.

    For the first time in the fall season, temperatures in parts of Polk County were at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The low for Polk County was 27 degrees in between Dallardsville and Livingston in the eastern portion of the county.

    “This was our first freeze warning for the fall season,” Polk County Emergency Management Director Courtney Comstock said.

    According to Comstock, a freeze warning is put in place when expectations of a freezing temperatures are projected. Much of the region was projected to have freezing temperatures Monday night and Tuesday morning, according to the Houston/Galveston Weather Forecast Office.

    Livingston was projected to have a low of 29 Monday night, while Lufkin was projected for a low of 26.

  • Polk County rescinds burn ban

    Burn Ban LiftedCOURTESY PHOTO Polk County rescinded its burn ban on Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Consecutive days of rainfall last weekend led to a rescinded burn ban Tuesday morning.

    Polk County Commissioners called an emergency meeting to rescind a burn ban that was originally put in place Nov. 17 and extended to 30 days on Nov. 24. But substantial rainfall last Friday and Saturday prompted commissioners to lift the ban.

    “Because of the rainfall we received over the weekend, our drought conditions improved and our commissioners decided it was safe enough to lift the burn ban,” Polk County Emergency Management Director Courtney Comstock said.

    The Texas Forest Service and the Polk County Office of Emergency Management both agreed that it was safe enough for commissioners to lift the ban. However, there are a few reminders to citizens who wish to burn outdoors.

    “Use caution when proceeding with any outdoor burning, be mindful that conditions may change quickly and individuals burning outdoors are responsible and liable for any fire damage from such burning,” Comstock said. “We recommend any persons contemplating a sizable amount of debris for outdoor burning contact their local VFD for recommendations and assistance. Never leave fires unattended.”

  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrests 9 in drug sting (GALLERY)

    LOU ANN HUDSONMUGSHOT LOU ANN HUDSON

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Nine people are in custody after a successful drug sting conducted by the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office.

    On March 10, detectives with the PCSO narcotics unit assisted the criminal investigation division with an ongoing investigation re-garding an overdose, in which one person was found to be deceased and three others admitted into hospitals. The drug was believed to be cocaine laced with an un-known chemical.

    During the investigation, it became known to detectives that the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a very dangerous and deadly drug. The investigation led to information that the drug was possibly obtained from an unknown address off of E. Capps Road in Polk County from a person known as “Mom-ma Lou.”

    Detectives began investigating the E. Capps Road area, making contact with numerous residents to inquire about “Momma Lou” and her whereabouts. Narcotics detectives located Lou Ann Hudson, also known as, “Momma Lou,” just off of E. Capps Road.

    Narcotics Detectives also found many others to be at the residence and on the property, and were identi-fied as Justin Sanders, Sibbie Hoffer, Billy Lafour, Steven Shelby, Stacy Allen, Clinton Moore, Joshua Jones and Desiree Allen. While speak-ing with Momma Lou at the residence probable cause was obtained to apply for a search warrant, which was granted for the residence and property.

    Detectives conducted the search and found all above listed individuals to be in possession of what Narcotics Detectives knew to be Methamphetamine. Ad-ditionally items were found and seized from the resi-dence that are known to be used in the distribution of illegal narcotics.

    Hudson was placed under arrest and charged with Pos-session of Controlled Sub-stance. Sanders, Hoffer, La-four, Shelby, Allen, Moore, Jones and Allen were also all placed under arrest and charged with Possession of Controlled Substance.

    All the above listed de-fendants were taken to the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office Jail and booked in on their charges.

    **PLEASE BE ADVISED**

    The PCSO is seeing a dangerous trend of drug dealers and cartels cutting various drugs with fentanyl which is leading to death and/or serious hospitalizations. The public needs to be aware of the danger of using any controlled substance, as PCSO is seeing an emerging pattern of cases where fentanyl is unexpectedly being added to cocaine/methamphetamine and other drug combinations.

    BILLY LEE LAFOUR
    CLINTON WARREN MOORE
    DESIREE MICHELLE ALLEN
    JOSHUA DATHAN JONES
    JUSTIN TAYLOR SANDERS
    LOU ANN HUDSON
    SIBBIE CAROL HOFFER
    STACY MARIE ALLEN
    STEVEN ADAM SHELBY
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  • Possible homicide of Livingston man

    LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO - Law Enforcement flashing lights

    GOODRICH — The body of a Livingston teenager was found after a possible homicide in Goodrich Tuesday.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call Tuesday morning in reference to a deceased male found in an area off of FM 1988 East in Polk County.

    Sheriff’s office investigators, along with the Texas Rangers, responded to the scene on Lone Wolf Road. The scene was processed and evidence collected. Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino conducted the inquest and ordered for an autopsy to be performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

    The victim has been identified as 19-year-old Brodrick Cooper of Livingston.

    According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation is continuing as a possible homicide. The body is said to have been recovered from the road. As of Tuesday, it is thought that an altercation occurred at the location.

    Friends on social media have messaged that Cooper died from a gunshot.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information please contact their office at 936-327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP.

  • Praise for prowess

    051321 fort 4COURTESY PHOTO Troy Fortenberry accepting award from Rep. Ernest Bailes

    By SJNT Staff

    Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Trojan Troy Fortenberry receives a recognition from the State Legislature, presented by Rep. Ernest Bailes, noting his participation in the State Track Tournament, held May 6-8 in Austin. Fortenberry, the lone high-school student participating from San Jacinto County, placed ninth in the Pole Vault with a leap of 12 feet 6 inches.

  • Prayer warriors met for Crockett prayer day event

    NEWS Prayer Day photoALTON PORTER | HCC Crockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher led in prayer at the observance of the National Day of Prayer.

    By Alton Porter

    CROCKETT – Local Christian leaders and church members, supported by governmental officials and business representatives, hosted a prayer gathering on the Houston County Courthouse lawn Thursday, May 6.

    It was “the seventieth observance of National Day of Prayer,” said Minister Charlana Kelly, who served as emcee and welcomed attendees to the event. “Can you believe that? Seventy years. That’s awesome.

    “I won’t be around actually if it goes this far, but wouldn’t it be great, 170 years? And the only way that can happen is passing this gift that we’ve been given to pray onto our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

    “And that’s the thing … the Lord said: ‘If you will teach these things to your children and your children’s children, then you’re going to be blessed. And so, let’s continue our commitment to pray every day for our leaders and our nation, our neighbors, our community, our churches and all of the things that concern us because when we call upon the name of the Lord, he answers. He hears and he answers.

    “And the Word says he’ll show us great and mighty things that we do not know. So, we need to know what God knows. Right? Because he has the answers to everything that we need.”

    Kelly is a part of the Houston County Ministerial Association and a minister at Crockett’s Good Shepherd Fellowship Church.

    The theme of the prayer day gathering locally, as well as nationally, was based on 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

    “And our freedoms and liberty can only come from God,” said Kelly. “And I thank God for that because we don’t need to look to anyone else for freedom. We look to God. And when we have Christ as Savior, we have liberty. Amen.

    “And so, the theme’s called ‘LORD pour out Your LOVE, LIFE, and LIBERTY.’

    “And so, all across the nation today, beginning early in the morning, there’ve been gatherings already.” The national gathering was held that night (Thursday, May 6), and was accessible online and on smart phones via Facebook, Kelly said.

    She read an excerpt from President Joe Biden’s National Day of Prayer proclamation: “On this National Day of Prayer, we unite with purpose and resolve, and recommit ourselves to the core freedoms that helped define and guide our Nation from its earliest days.

    “We celebrate our incredible good fortune that, as Americans, we can exercise our convictions freely—no matter our faith or beliefs. Let us find in our prayers, however they are delivered, the determination to overcome adversity, rise above our differences, and come together as one Nation to meet this moment in history.”

    “And today is a moment in history,” Kelly said. “And I know that God has good things for our future regardless of our government. Amen. Can we all agree on that?”

    Kelly said she was honored when Pastor Tim Allen, of First Christian Church in Crockett, selected her to emcee the prayer day event, because the late Pastor Steve Meadows, of Westside Baptist Church, “was the one who often organized the National Day of Prayer events” in Crockett.

    “And one of the things that I really loved and appreciated most about him was that he loved to pray, and he loved our nation,” Kelly said. “And oftentimes, he was committed to do that right here at this courthouse on a weekly basis during seasons of time that it was necessary.”

    Kelly then had the late pastor’s wife, Terri Meadows, the Houston County Clerk, pray the first prayer, which focused on love and life.

    Ten other individuals, including Kelly, followed Meadows in praying specific prayers targeting various focuses.

    Those prayer warriors included Allen, who also is president of the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards, who prayed for children and families; Pastor Michael Bedevian, of First United Methodist Church, who prayed for the elderly; and Pastor Leon Wallace, of Good Shepherd Fellowship Church, who prayed for churches.

    In addition, Maria Mathis, a First Baptist Church Crockett member and an educator, prayed for the education system, students and educators; Tiffany Wiggins-Blackmon, owner of Crockett Printing, prayed for businesses and their customers; and Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove prayed for freedom and government.

    Also praying at the event were Crockett Mayor and Minister Dr. Ianthia Fisher, who focused on all levels of government; Pastor Reggie Gregory, of Calvary Baptist Church, who prayed for local, state and national unity and the elimination of prejudice; Kelly, who made additional comments and prayed a general prayer; and Houston County Judge Jim Lovell, who prayed the closing prayer.

  • Regional legend Country Willie to perform at Camp Street

    Country WilliePHOTO COURTESY OF COUNTRY WILLIE EDWARDS Singer/songwriter Country Willie Edwards is scheduled to perform Saturday night at Camp Street Café in Crockett.

    By Chris Edwards

    CROCKETT – Country Willie Edwards is a name well-known to many music lovers within the East Texas region.

    Edwards, a singer-songwriter, whose sound harkens back to the days of troubadours such as Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams, will appear at the Camp Street Café, in downtown Crockett, on Saturday, May 29. The show begins at 8 p.m.

    Edwards is currently promoting his latest record, Midnight Cowboy, a 14-track collection that was recorded at Encore Studios in Nacogdoches with Heath Perritt engineering. On the album, Edwards’ deep, bass-baritone vocals and acoustic guitar mastery is joined by his longtime drummer/percussionist Thomas Oliver. Edwards and Oliver fill up an astonishing amount of sound space for just two musicians, both on record and in live performances. Edwards’ vocals, which are tuneful and resonant, are at the forefront, and cover the frequencies a bassist would typically occupy. Occasionally Edwards and Oliver are accompanied by a standup bassist for live shows.

    Onstage, Edwards is a man of few words in between songs, instead, he allows his music to tell the tales. He maintains a powerful stage presence with just the performance of his songs, and it is something that has endeared him to many audiences. One reviewer, Kevin Curtin, in the Austin Chronicle, wrote the Edwards “transformed into the coupling rod on a locomotive via his right arm, which strummed with unrelenting momentum.”

    Oliver said he has enjoyed working with Edwards through the years. “Working with Willie is amazing,” he said. “He is a master of his own craft. He takes the simplest things in life and turns them into folk classics. It is just a treasure, for me, to be a part of the rhythm to help Willie deliver his final product.”

    Alongside his unforgettable stage presence, Edwards has also gained a cult level of interest in the Texas songwriters’ community for his large repertoire of original compositions. Some of them, such as “Marfa Lights,” “Rollin’ Down the Highway” and “Dallas in the Night” are standards at his shows and inspire singalongs with those in the know. To the uninitiated, they are liable to be singing along (and tapping toes) well before the performance’s end.

    The new record is a whole slate of songs sure to become crowd pleasers. Songs such as “When I’ve Finally Gone Crazy” and “Down by the Railroad Tracks” seem to transport the listener to a roadhouse on the outskirts of town, circa 1955, but at the same time, there’s still a modern edge in some of the lyrics.

    Edwards’ music has made him something of a legend among connoisseurs of live music, and not just in Texas. He grew up in the tiny Cherokee County community of Sardis, where he returned to establish roots in recent years. A farmer by trade, Edwards has been playing music from a young age, when he led hymns in church and played the East Texas opry circuit as a teenager.

    Since his collegiate days, he has played before live audiences steadily, and became a favorite in the Nacogdoches area, typically mesmerizing audiences as a solo acoustic act. Throughout his career, he has also played in bluegrass bands, like the Nacogdoches favorite the Remains, and even led the punk band Country Willie and the Cosmic Debris, which showcased a more rock-based influence, and allowed Edwards’ songwriting to branch out to include lyrics that worked in his fascination with extraterrestrial matters, as well as B-movie type imagery about zombies. Edwards also starred in a film, Rainbows End, which was directed by Eric Hueber, a filmmaker and musician, who played in the Cosmic Debris. The film documented an ill-fated tour undertaken by the band and featured a cast of other real-life characters associated with the band, including the late East Texas mystic Audrey Dean Leighton.

    Aside from his live gigs, Edwards has also recorded many albums, in a variety of locations. The latest album is available through his website, www.countrywillieedwards.com and will be available at the show.

    Despite all of his recognition and achievements within music, and other media, Edwards remains a humble country boy. “He is so humble, and so talented,” Oliver said. “Just a great dude!”

  • RELIVING THE GLORY

    IMG 9919LARRY LAMB | HCC Former Crockett Bulldogs taking on the 2021 team Saturday, Feb. 6 were (front l-r) Kendall Rhodes, Joseph Smoldas, Dustin Wyble, Antwaain Boston and Garrett Reeves; (back l-r) Ryan Young, Jake Young, Larren Reeves, Drew Corry, Rascal Yates and coach Joe Smoldas. Not pictured is Tyrone Colter.

    Crockett baseball alumni shine again

    By Larry Lamb

    Eleven former Crockett High School baseball players dusted off their gloves, grabbed a tube of sports cream and returned to the diamond for the annual alumni match-up against the 2021 Bulldogs Saturday, Feb. 6.

    The “Bulldogs vs. the Old Dogs” battle has become a tradition in Crockett along with a home run derby in which the old-timers have a chance to show off their power hitting prowess.

    Kendall Rhodes and Tyrone “Six” Colter, both members of Crockett’s 1996 state championship team, headlined the alumni squad’s roster. Rhodes and Colter played for legendary coach Tommy Parker, who earned championship rings in 1982 and 1996 during his stint at Crockett.

    Rounding out the Old Dogs roster were 2001 graduate Antwaain Boston, Joseph Smoldas, Dustin Wyble, Garret Reeves, Ryan Young, Jake Young, Larren Reeves, Drew Corry and Rascal Yates. Joe Smoldas coached the Old Dogs.

    Continuing their domination of the series, the Old Dogs won this year’s battle 8-5.

    Bulldog baseball coach Cole Pemberton told the victorious alumni, “Nothing but love and respect for you guys. Today was about honoring y’all. Old guys still got it.”

    Pemberton, a CHS graduate who took the reins as head coach this season, inherited a baseball program that has struggled in recent years.

    Addressing the alumni crew before the game, Pemberton said, “You guys started this tradition of greatness in Crockett and it’s something we don’t take lightly. I preach every day to my guys about the greatness Crockett baseball has produced.

    “I’m beyond proud to be the head coach here in Crockett and an alumni from here myself. To the class of ‘82 and ‘96, thank you for showing us what excellence is all about. We hope one day to get the program headed in that direction that you guys showed us,” Pemberton concluded.

  • Remembering Groveton Mayor Byron Richards

    011421 obit richardsCOURTESY PHOTO Byron Allen Richards

    June 12, 1941 - Jan. 5, 2021

    Byron Allen Richards died and went to his eternal home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus, on Jan. 5, 2021, in Lufkin, at the age of 79 years. He was born in Houston on June 12, 1941, to Ransom Allen Richards and Marjorie Nell Singletary Richards.

    Byron was a loving husband, father, brother and grandfather. He worked and retired from banking after more than 40 years of service, ending his career at First Bank of Groveton when he retired in 2006. Afterwards, he was appointed as Mayor of Groveton, where he served for 10 years until his death. He loved Groveton and the surrounding communities. During his term as Mayor, he oversaw multiple projects for the city, including improvements to the community water and sewer system, positioning the City of Groveton for long-term viability. He was most proud of the project he worked on for more than six years — restoring downtown Groveton. He worked diligently in applying for numerous grants to fund the renovation. Under his leadership, the city has been able to invest more than $50 million into its infrastructure. He loved to help people and recently answered the call to become a volunteer chaplain. Byron served as the assistant chaplain of CHI St. Luke’s Health Care for two years and enjoyed visiting with patients twice a week every week. He never missed a day. Byron was a past member of Lion’s Club and was voted citizen of the year during 2019-2020. He also enjoyed motorcycles, especially Harley Davidsons. He liked going on motorcycle trips and when he wasn’t tinkering with that then his other “pride and joy” was his classic Ford truck.

    Byron is preceded in death by his parents, Ransom Richards and Marjorie Richards; and his brother, Gary Neil Richards. His survivors include his loving wife of 38 years, Sandra Richards; of Groveton; his sons, Gregory A. Richards and wife, Kimberly Richards, of Kerrville, and Ty Wenglar, and wife, Cathy, of Austin; daughters, Gina Diane Hollis and husband, Ron Hollis, of Austin, and Tia McLaughlin and husband, Grant McLaughlin, of Lovelady; his grandchildren, Macy, Alex, Emily, Mikinna, Micheala, Jonah, Brook Elizabeth, Jaxson, John Paul, Zohe Marie, Vivian, Reagan, and Liam; and a host of other relatives and friends.

    Celebration of life services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at Pennington Baptist Church in Pennington, with the Rev. Bud Magee officiating and the Rev. Drew Scott assisting. The family understands that friends may not want to attend the celebration of life due to concerns over the spread of COVID. Friends are welcome to send their fondest memories, stories or prayers by emailing them to Bryon's son, Greg, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    In lieu of flowers, the family invites friends to purchase a commemorative paver for the Groveton downtown sidewalk. Please contact City Secretary Donna Dial for details.

    Please share your memories with the family and sign our online guestbook by visiting www.grovetonfuneralhome.com

  • Resolutions, library funding discussed by Tyler County commissioners

    NEWS TyCoCourthouse graphicCOURTESY OF OFFICIAL COUNTY WEBSITE The Tyler County courthouse

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court approved a resolution in opposition to two pieces of legislation they say would, if passed, “silence county officials.”

    The officials adopted several resolutions and proclamations during its regular monthly meeting on Monday morning. The first resolution the officials approved was to voice opposition to Senate Bill 234 and House Bill 749, of which County Judge Jacques Blanchette said “is of a concern to all of us who hold public office.”

    The bill in the Senate (by Sen. Bob Hall) and the House bill (by Rep. Mayes Middleton) would prohibit the usage of county funds to support any non-profit organization engaging in legislative communication.

    Blanchette said information is going around about the bills, which are among the thousands of pieces of legislation up for examination in the current legislative session, and other counties across the state are voicing similar opposition.

    “It is just simply our way of enjoining ourselves to the other counties who are expressing themselves and their voices to the legislature in the opposition to any of our efforts to speak out to the legislature regarding laws they pass that place burdens upon us that are in turn passed on to the taxpayer,” Blanchette said.

    The second item under the heading “Resolutions/Proclamations” was to proclaim the month of April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Tyler County.

    CASA board member Donnie Wayne Gulley spoke to the issue before the officials on Monday morning. Gulley, who was a foster child himself, said he has striven to be an advocate for abused and/or neglected children who are in the foster care system.

    Gulley said that through the last year there were 188 confirmed victims of child abuse and/or neglect in the county last year, which he said was “188 confirmed victims too many,” along with 87 total children in the child welfare system.

    He outlined the process of the Court Appointed Special Advocates and what they do. “The difference that CASA makes for children who have experience abuse or neglect is definitely life-changing,” he said, and spoke of his own experience and memories of abuse at 18 months old when he was removed from his first home.

    “We can stop the cycle of abuse by being a much-needed voice of support,” Gulley said.

    Library funding discussed

    Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock brought an agenda item up for discussion concerning funds allocated to the Allan Shivers Library in Woodville. Sturrock said that he has researched commissioners court minutes from the 1950s or 60s and could not find anything that specified how county funds to the library were to be applied.

    Sturrock wanted to bring the item up so that the court could have, in writing, a way for the facility to use county funds in whatever ways its governing board sees fit.

    Blanchette and Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall are both on the library’s board, and former county employee Kay Timme was recently appointed. “The concept is certainly laudable and has a lot of merit,” Blanchette said of Sturrock’s agenda item. He recommended suspending any action until more information comes from the governing board for the library. He also described its funding structure, which comes from three different entities: Woodville ISD, the City of Woodville and Tyler County, and is supplemented further by grants, fundraisers and donations.

    Timme read the deed for the library, which states that if there is a failure to keep the facility going on the part of the three contributing entities, the funding would revert back to a foundation associated with the Shivers family.

    Other documents that Timme uncovered spelled out what particulars the county is responsible for funding, which include the staff along with books and professional supplies.

    Library board member Josh McClure also spoke on the topic, specifically to the inclusion of the word “may” within Sturrock’s agenda item, as in “Tyler County may support the Allan Shivers Library in the amount agreed upon by the Commissioners’ Court…,” which McClure said could be problematic in the future, with regard to whomever might be elected to serve in the future and their desire to fund or not to fund.

    “I do think that wording needs to be visited,” McClure said. “If the policy said ‘may,’ and then one day someone who doesn’t support the library is voted in…and says ‘Hey, we don’t have to do this,’…it would put more of a burden on the county.”

    Other Business

    During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners also approved the following items:

    • A proclamation recognizing March as Red Cross Awareness Month in Tyler County

    • A resolution for an indigent defense grant program

    • A proclamation to proclaim March 1 through April 3 as “It’s Dogwood Time in Tyler County”

    • Billie Read and Walter McAlpin were re-appointed to the Tyler County Hospital Board of Managers to begin serving new two-year terms.

    • The starting of procurement services for engineering and administrative services for the fiscal year 2021-22 TDA CDBG grant cycle, along with the appointment of a rating committee were both approved.

  • Robert Rolin needs your votes

    Robert and the snowmanCOURTESY PHOTO Robert and the snowman

    Onalaska man in final round to win custom motorcycle from television show

    By Brian Besch

    Over three decades ago, a motorcycle crash nearly killed Robert Rolin.

    However, the Onalaska resident is now surviving several rounds of voting and close to winning a custom motorcycle from the television show Orange County Choppers.

    "Paul Teutul and his son started a show called American Chopper," Rolin said of the television show's beginnings. "It was him and his son building motorcycles in their garage. They built some really nice custom bikes. They built showcase bikes. They started building for celebrities and superstars.

    "I was on Facebook one day and saw this thing that said "dream chopper." It said enter a contest to win a dream chopper. It also helps the Hudson Valley SPCA in New York."

    Rolin said when he signed up, there were 70,000 other people who did the same. He won the first round and the group shrunk to 9,000. He won a five more rounds and has just three more competitors in his way of the grand prize.

    Also included in the grand prize is an appearance on the television show and a feature on the cover of Cycle Source Magazine.

    A vote is free, but additional votes can also be purchased to accumulate more. The money donated goes to helping animals.

    The competition runs until 10 p.m. Thursday evening.

    Rolin says he has many groups voting for him, with numbers in the hundreds. However, the other contestants have similar backing.

    "It's very humbling. I am kind of a private guy and I keep to myself. Me and my son have a company; we build houses. It is my son's company, but I work with him."

    If Rolin wins, Teutul will build a custom motorcycle for him. Rolin has a history with motorcycles, some good and some nearly fatal.

    FB IMGCOURTESY PHOTO Robert's red motorcycle.

    "I lost my left arm in a motorcycle wreck back in '87. It was a rainy night and back then, I had about the fastest 750 made. I had a real need for speed when I was a youngster. I was just going really fast and the road that I was on was a two-lane road. One lane went up about an inch, so when you change lanes, it threw you to the left. I went too far and hit the curb and there was a fire hydrant. It hit my arm and just took it right off at the shoulder."

    Rolin said the officer that responded didn't even notice his arm missing, because his leg was so badly injured. The officer was actually a high school classmate of Rolin. The officer ran across the street to a corner store and filled an ice chest with ice and poured it into Rolin's leg, likely saving that limb.

    That officer is also one of the voters helping Rolin.

    "I almost died and it tore my right leg up. I don't have a quadricep in my right leg. I lost five inches of my femur, but they put a steel rod in my leg and it has held my leg together. Here 33 years later, I am still getting along."

    Though it was difficult to get back on a bike, he still rides today, owning a Harley-Davidson trike.

    Rolin said he is a positive person, who tries to promote ability instead of disability.

    "I hope that I can inspire one person. Just because they might have lost their leg or their arm or had some kind of disability or even people that just have low self-esteem -- you have to just get out there and try. I hope, if I win, I really want to promote that disabled people can do things. I'm just a normal guy that doesn't have a left arm. I want to get up there and show the world that we can do things. If you are disabled, don't give up. I boat, I water ski, I hunt, I fish and I build houses -- I never let it slow me down.

    "It took me two years to get out of a wheelchair. Once I did, I've never looked back. I try to live life. I ended up raising five kids and having a great life. I didn't get back on a motorcycle for about 20 years. Once I did, I loved it. This (contest) has been a great experience, it has brought me back to the policeman that was on the scene and people that I remember from my high school. It has been a great experience, but I still want to win."

    To help Rolin win, go to dreamchopper.com and place a vote.

  • Rotary Club Makes annual Christmas deliveries

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Rotary Club of Livingston delivered gifts and meals to 10 families last Thursday as part of the club’s Empty Stocking program.

    By Jason Chlapek

    As long as Janet Wiggins can remember, the Empty Stocking program has been a Rotary Club of Livingston tradition.

    “I’ve been in Rotary since 1992 and we’ve had it since then,” she said. “We go through the Empty Stocking program, which is headed up by Angela Figgs, and she gives us the names of needy families.”

    While Wiggins has been with Rotary since 1992, she’s not certain when the club began its participation in the Empty Stocking program. Rotarians made their annual deliveries of gifts and food to 10 families last Thursday.

    “I love seeing the faces of the children when the gifts are delivered,” Wiggins said. “It’s such a reward to be able to help someone who may be in need. It’s always been a reward for me.”

    Beginning in October, Rotary Club of Livingston starts collecting funds for the Empty Stocking program. Two weeks prior to delivery day, Rotarians split into groups and buy gifts for the children in the family of which their group was assigned.

    On delivery day, club members gather at Brookshire Bros. to pick up a box of food for their assigned family. In year’s past, 20 families were selected by Rotary Club of Livingston.

    But with Covid-19, only 10 families were chosen. The club also has seen a decline in attendance and service project participation since the pandemic, which meant less volunteers to deliver to families.

    Wiggins also is the director of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, which has the 12 Days of Christmas program. With that program, Wiggins and her group go to the houses of 12 families and deliver gifts to them for 12 days.

  • Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area

    021821 snow 4COURTESY PHOTO BY TERRI GARVIN Dylan Knight and Chase Knight measure the snowfall on Monday.

    TCNS staff

    The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and Trinity County came to a standstill on Monday.

    Schools have been closed at least through Tuesday; roads have been closed, and electric utilities have been forced to start rolling blackouts to stave off a larger blackout because of the huge demand put on the electric grid.

    The possibility of a second winter storm bearing down on the region exists as well.

    According to Trinity County Emergency Management, about 1,130 people were without power, mainly due to the overloaded electric service and the Montgomery County Power Station being down.

    Trinity County Emergency Management opened a warming shelter in the Apple Springs area for anyone in need, and opened the VFW in Trinity as well.

    Anyone feeling they are in need of the service can contact Justice of the Peace Richard Steptoe, Constable Brian McMullen, County Judge Doug Page or Apple Springs Chief Brett Selman.

    According to The Weather Channel, Winter Storm Uri spread brought heavy snow and damaging ice to parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast. Winter Storm Viola has already begun in the West and will be right behind #Uri, bringing significant snowfall totals to many across the country this week. It is expected to bring snow to many of the same locations currently being hit by Uri.

    021821 snow 1COURTESY PHOTO BY KELLY DIAL 10-year-old Brance Dial enjoys some time in the snow.

    Area road closures included:

    •Highway 190 Trinity River Bridge shut down

    •Highway 59 Trinity River Bridge heavy ice over roadway

    •FM 223 to Stringtown Road heavy ice over road

    •FM 1514 Heavy ice over the roadway

    •FM 1725 heavy ice

    •East Fork San Jacinto River Bridge on FM 495 heavy ice

    •FM 2025/FM 2666 to Highway 150 iced over

    •FM 946 South and Highway 156 iced over.

    021821 snow 2COURTESY PHOTO BY CHELSIE JO COOK Roads are beautiful, but dangerous, after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow in Texas.

    TxDOT is encouraging motorists from traveling across the nine-county Lufkin District during the winter weather.

    As of Monday, the Lufkin District currently had 170 employees working 12-hour shifts to monitor and address trouble spots as they arise, utilizing more than 125 pieces of equipment. Pre-treatment of roadways began on Friday.

    “We want people to be aware that driving surfaces will freeze and we are doing all we can to prepare the roadways, but even with a brine mixture, if we experience the low temperatures they have predicted, roads will still freeze,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “I don’t think there is enough manpower to cover the more than 7,000 road miles in the Lufkin District with a brine mixture but we are doing our best. We have focused our attention on major roadways, state highways and farm roads, but we should remember that Mother Nature is and will always be undefeated. It is up to us to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves to stay safe.”

    Crews will re-treat all major roadways as needed if conditions continue to decline, since additional moisture will re-freeze road surfaces after the initial downfall of snow and ice.

    “Pre-treatment with a brine solution can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form,” Oaks said. “There will be patches of ice on local roads, even on roads that have been treated. If you must drive, motorists should reduce speed and stay alert. But because this is an unprecedented weather event, TxDOT is urging drivers to stay home and travel only if absolutely necessary.”

    Visit drivetexas.org (or call 800-452-9292) for real time road conditions/closures or call 911 if you find yourself stranded or facing an emergency. For more information, call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

  • Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area (GALLERY)

    SanJacSnowFeb2021 7COURTESY PHOTO Frozen Texas yard ornament.

    News-Times staff

    The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and San Jacinto County came to a standstill on Monday.

    Schools have been closed at least through Tuesday; roads have been closed, and electric utilities have been forced to start rolling blackouts to stave off a larger blackout because of the huge demand put on the electric grid.

    The possibility of a second winter storm bearing down on the region exists as well.

    According to The Weather Channel, Winter Storm Uri spread brought heavy snow and damaging ice to parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast. Winter Storm Viola has already begun in the West and will be right behind #Uri, bringing significant snowfall totals to many across the country this week. It is expected to bring snow to many of the same locations currently being hit by Uri.

    Area road closures include:

    •Highway 190 Trinity River Bridge shut down

    •Highway 59 Trinity River Bridge heavy ice over roadway

    •FM 223 to Stringtown Road heavy ice over road

    •FM 1514 Heavy ice over the roadway

    •FM 1725 heavy ice

    •East Fork San Jacinto River Bridge on FM 495 heavy ice

    •FM 2025/FM 2666 to Highway 150 iced over

    •FM 946 South and Highway 156 iced over.

    According to the San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management, the low may lead to burst pipes, ruptured water mains and other serious damage to infrastructure.

    Snow and ice that accumulates will stick around until at least mid-week with temperatures remaining below freezing for extended period of time. More wintry precipitation may fall with another system behind the current one.

    TxDOT is encouraging motorists from traveling across the nine-county Lufkin District during the winter weather.

    As of Monday, the Lufkin District currently had 170 employees working 12-hour shifts to monitor and address trouble spots as they arise, utilizing more than 125 pieces of equipment. Pre-treatment of roadways began on Friday.

    “We want people to be aware that driving surfaces will freeze and we are doing all we can to prepare the roadways, but even with a brine mixture, if we experience the low temperatures they have predicted, roads will still freeze,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “I don’t think there is enough manpower to cover the more than 7,000 road miles in the Lufkin District with a brine mixture but we are doing our best. We have focused our attention on major roadways, state highways and farm roads, but we should remember that Mother Nature is and will always be undefeated. It is up to us to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves to stay safe.”

    Crews will re-treat all major roadways as needed if conditions continue to decline, since additional moisture will re-freeze road surfaces after the initial downfall of snow and ice.

    “Pre-treatment with a brine solution can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form,” Oaks said. “There will be patches of ice on local roads, even on roads that have been treated. If you must drive, motorists should reduce speed and stay alert. But because this is an unprecedented weather event, TxDOT is urging drivers to stay home and travel only if absolutely necessary.”

    Visit drivetexas.org (or call 800-452-9292) for real time road conditions/closures or call 911 if you find yourself stranded or facing an emergency. For more information, call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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  • Sabine County teen drowns at Dam B

    LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO LE Flashing Lights

    By Chris Edwards

    DAM B – A Sabine County teenager drowned on Sunday afternoon while fishing at Dam B, according to Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman.

    Richard Tyler Johnston, 18, of Hemphill, was reportedly fishing near the spillway at the reservoir. The incident was reported right before 7 p.m., and volunteers from the Jasper County Emergency Corps, as well as others, were dispatched to the location, on the lake’s south end. The volunteers, along with officers from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene, and game wardens from TPW recovered Johnston’s body.

    According to Newman, the body was recovered from an area between the floodgates and the Willis Hydroelectric Unit. Johnston was pronounced dead at the scene by Jasper County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Raymond Hopson.

    Hopson said that he requested an autopsy be performed.

    According to Newman, from the preliminary investigation, it appears that Johnston, along with others, walked to the location where the incident was reported, from the east side of the dam. Johnston was reportedly there on a fishing trip.

    Johnston’s family has established a Go Fund Me page to raise money for his funeral expenses. According to the site, Johnston had turned 18 in December, and he had only begun working and had no life insurance.

    His father preceded him in death, and the family wishes to bury him next to his late father, as they believe it is what he would have wanted.

  • San Jacinto Chamber celebrates cream of the crop (GALLERY)

    9TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Chamber of Commerce honored the top businesses and organizations in the area, as well as its own volunteers, at its annual banquet on Saturday.

    Chamber President Barbara Justice said that even though 2020 was an unprecedented year, the chamber and the county managed to make it through by learning to innovate.

    “We figured out how to social distance, how to mask, and all the other COVID-19 precautionary measures,” she said. “Zoom became our secondary method of meeting, and email became our primary mode of communication.”

    For the first time in memory, annual events were canceled; however, alternate arrangements were made for scholarships, however, Justice said.

    “We had various sponsors, and were still able to give scholarships for students,” she said.

    The first event attended in 2020 was the Christmas Parade, which was exciting as residents were able to get out of the house; there were more than 30 floats and more than 120 vendors, which put the town at max capacity, Justice said.

    In 2021, plans are to have more in-person events, including lunch-and-learn events held monthly, she said.

    Winners of the annual Best of Coldspring awards are:

    • Grand Business: Bullet Grill House, first; Brookshire Brothers, second; Sheco, third.
    • Large Business: The Mason Jar, first; Browders Marina and Store, second; Eastex Title Co., third.
    • Medium Business: Hilltop Ice House, first; People’s State Bank, second; Wolf Creek Air, third.
    • Small Business: Camp Jason RV Resort, first; Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique, second; and The Dam Liquor Stor, third.
    • Non-profit: American Legion Post 629, first; Republican Party of San Jacinto County, second; Heaven’s Army of Resources, third.
    • Volunteer of the Year: Barbara Creel, first, Michelle Haylock, second; Terry Holcomb, third.
    • Citizen of the Year: Phyliss Powdrill, first, Larissa Sustaita, second; Alvin Wyatt, third.
    • Lifetime Member Award: Kathleen E. Mathieu.
    • Board Member of the Year: Barbara Justice.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
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