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  • Corvette owner shows collection to Livingston Lions Club (VIDEO)

                                   PHOTO BY KELLI BARNES | PCE Pat McCulley’s collection of corvettes was on display Wednesday afternoon at the weekly Livingston Lions Club meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. McCulley’s collection includes one corvette from each of the brand’s eight classes.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Sometimes one thing leads to another.

    That’s the case with Pat and Jerry McCulley. Somehow one corvette turned into eight.

    Pat displayed her corvette collection Wednesday afternoon at the Livingston Lions Club’s weekly meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. She was able to show her entire collection, including her eighth corvette which arrived in September — the 2020 C8 mid-engine.

    “We have a corvette from every generation,” McCulley said. “The oldest corvette is a 1960 C1.”

    McCulley said each corvette generation averages about 10 years. She also said that there was never an intention of having a full-blown corvette collection.

    “It just sort of happened,” McCulley said. “The first one I bought was a 1975 C3. It was a popular car when I was a teenager. After I bought that one, I thought it would be neat to buy a 2005 C6. I didn’t intend one to get one of every generation, but it just happened that way.”

    In all, the McCulleys have a C1 from 1960, a C2 from 1965, a C3 from 1975, a C4 from 1990, a C5 from 2000, a C6 from 2005, a C7 Grandsport from 2017 and a C8 from 2020. Pat has an interesting story about the purchase of the C4.

    “(Jerry) found the C4 online in California,” Pat said. “We have friends in LA who we sent money for the purchase of the car and we had it shipped to Texas.”

    The McCulleys ordered their latest corvette in July 2019, and were scheduled to receive it in March. But, a few things happened that delayed the arrival date until September.

    “GM went on strike back in March then Covid-19 hit,” Pat said. “This is the first year of the C8 generation.”

    The McCulleys are lifetime members of the National Corvette Museum, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have lived in Livingston since 1979.

    “I try to show them every opportunity I get,” Pat said. “We always try to participate in anything FAITH does, Hometown Christmas and anything else we can do to help the community. We take children for rides in the corvettes and also do fundraisers and food drives.”

    While the C8 was just released this year, the C9 has likely crossed Pat’s mind. Whether or not she and Jerry purchase one a decade from now will be the question.

    “We’ll have to see how young and spry I am when the C9 comes out,” Pat quipped.

    It might just lead to another corvette in the family.

  • Council set on cleaning up the town

    coldspringcityFILE PHOTO Coldspring town hall sign

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council is making bold moves to clean up the city.

    At its regular meeting on May 3, council members approved starting the process to have the property owners of three properties within the city remedy the violations of the city’s nuisance law.

    According to Mayor Pat Eversole, one property is an abandoned home on Slade Street, and the city has received complaints from neighbors about it being an eyesore and dangerous.

    The remaining two, both on Highway 150, are vacant and full of parked cars and litter, Eversole said.

    The properties and complaints have been turned over to the city’s attorney to start the process for remediation, and the for the attorney to contact the landowners.

    In other business, the council:

    • discussed a draft ordinance to ban private and civil helicopters landing within the city limits, which will come up for approval at the next council meeting;
    • discussed a planned ballpark expansion, and the council’s hope to find some additional property to expand the Dixie Youth Park fields and construct another entrance. Also, portable toilets with handicapped access were ordered for placement at the park;
    • approved the repair of a sewer line that had been damaged by a vehicle; and
    • tabled a discussion about removing an ADA-compliant handrail section on the town square at the intersection of Highway 150 at Church Street for further discussion.

    The Coldspring City Council meets the first Monday of every month, beginning at 7 p.m. at Coldspring City Hall.

  • Councilman recognized for birthday and service

    NEWS Herb Branch photoCOURTESY PHOTO Woodville Mayor Paula Jones presents long-serving councilman Herbert Branch with a key to the city. Branch was recognized on Monday night for both his coming 90th birthday and his long, faithful service to the city.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Woodville Mayor Paula Jones began Monday evening’s regular meeting of the Woodville City Council with a proclamation to acknowledge the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    Along with the proclamation, Terry Allen, with the Tyler County Child Welfare Board was on hand with other volunteers from the CWB and spoke about the problem of child abuse as it affects the county.

    Allen said there are 31 children from Tyler County in foster care, and added that the pandemic has complicated the data, in her estimation, on how many children have died as a result of abuse or neglect.

    Branch honored with key

    Under the standing agenda item set aside for reporting community interest news, City Administrator Mandy Risinger announced a special “milestone” birthday approaching for a certain Woodville resident – longtime councilmember Herbert Branch. Branch will turn 90 next month.

    Jones presented Branch with a key to the city and a hearty thanks for his service to the city. Branch said he has lived in Woodville for 48 years and was appreciative for the gift. “That is so nice. Thank you very much,” he said.

    In other business on the brief agenda for Monday evening, the city approved the procurement of Lufkin firm Goodwin Lasiter Strong for engineering services for an upcoming CDBG program grant application.

    The grant cycles every two years, Risinger said, and the city will be applying for a street improvement project. One stipulation is that a grant administrator and engineer must be appointed, and Risinger said the city has utilized the firm’s services for past projects.

    A special meeting will take place this week to authorize the submission of the application.

  • Country star Supernaw dies

    Doug SupernawFILE PHOTO Doug Supernaw

    From staff reports

    LIVINGSTON – Country star and Livingston resident Doug Supernaw died on the morning of Friday, Nov. 13. Supernaw was 60, and his passing came after a battle with cancer.

    Supernaw’s death was announced on social media by his manager J.J. Morris. “My friend and boss man Doug Supernaw passed away this morning, with his wife Cissy Allen Supernaw at his side,” her post read.

    Other musicians expressed condolences on social media after the news became public. Neal McCoy, a friend of Supernaw’s and fellow ‘90s hitmaker, said “What a good fella and a heck of a singer,” and added a note of encouragement to Supernaw’s wife: “Stay strong Cissy! You have been for a while. Doug couldn’t have been blessed with a better woman, and I’ve heard you say the same thing about him.”

    Supernaw, who was a native of Bryan, grew up in Inwood Forest and was exposed to country music at an early age by his mother.

    In high school, Supernaw was a star athlete, and attended college on a golf scholarship, before he began playing in bands. He later moved to Nashville and found work as a staff songwriter, before moving back to Texas where he formed a band called Texas Steel.

    Supernaw and his band (later renamed the Possum Eatin’ Cowboys) became a huge draw across the state, and in 1993, he signed to BNA Entertainment, the label that released his gold-selling debut Red and Rio Grande.

    The album, which drew critical acclaim along with its big sales, produced several hits, the best-known of which were “Reno” and the number one hit “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” The video for the latter included an appearance from Supernaw’s son Phillip, who would later go on to play in the NFL.

    After two more albums for major labels, Supernaw recorded Fadin’ Renegade for an indie label, and took a lengthy hiatus from recording. He was reportedly disillusioned with the recording industry but continued to perform live. His blend of literate lyrics, catchy melodies and traditional country sounds, along with a stick-to-your-guns Texas-born attitude, helped influence many Texas country acts that became popular around the turn of the millennium.

    Supernaw returned to full-time touring in 2016 and recorded an album the following year comprised of re-recorded versions of his hits, along with a pair of new songs.

    He was diagnosed with stage IV lung and bladder cancer in early 2019 and began an aggressive course of treatment. Several benefits were held throughout last year to help Supernaw with medical expenses, including events at Pontoon’s and Coal’s Smokehouse in Splendora.

    Reportedly, the treatments were working, and Supernaw was on the mend, but recently, it was announced that the cancer had spread to his spine and brain, as an MRI had indicated, and he was placed under hospice care.

    Supernaw is survived by his wife Cissy, his children and grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

  • County attorney helps save infant

    060321 hayCOURTESY PHOTO Trinity County Attorney Colton Hay walks away from a one-vehicle crash, where he and others helped rescue an infant that was in the vehicle.

    News-Standard staff

    GROVETON — Trinity County Attorney Colton Hay can add lifesaver to his resume, having come to the aid of an infant following a car crash on May 25.

    The wreck occurred on State Highway 94 west of Groveton at about 5 p.m.

    According to police reports, the driver, James Christopher Gambrell Jr., 29, was driving his vehicle in an unsafe manner during a rainstorm, hydroplaned, and rolled the vehicle into a ditch.

    Hay said he witnessed the event on his way home from work,

    “We went over to the car, me and a few other people, and someone hollered, ‘There’s a baby in here,’” Hay said. “I carry a sledgehammer in the car for trailer hitches; we looked, found the child, and broke the back window.”

    Hay then called law enforcement officials on his cell phone to report the event.

    The car had come to a stop upside down in about a foot of water, with oil and other fluids leaking from the car, reports indicate. Hay, who recently became a father for the first time, climbed into the car to get the baby out.

    Hay said the car was filled with many items, such as computers and tools, which made entering the car difficult.

    “I shimmy into the car through the back window; the driver was wedged in the car, part in front and part in back,” Hay said. “I got to the baby; it looked to be about a year old. The car seat was flipped over, because it was not attached properly.”

    Hay said the child was crying and moving her arms and legs, and had a small abrasion on her cheek.

    “I unhooked her as carefully as I could from the seat, cradled her as best as I could, and shimmied out,” he said.

    Reports state the child was taken by ambulance to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver was arrested for driving with license invalid with a previous conviction, and other charges are pending.

    Hay said that with the help of other passers-by who witnessed the crash and stopped to help, they were able to help the child.

    “I just had a baby, and holding her was like holding mine, and we got her out and we all were ecstatic,” Hay said. “It was beautiful to see people to come together from all walks of life and save this girl.

    “It was an emotional experience,” he said.

  • County begins road to recovery from Uri

    image Photo by Charles Miller of RE/MAX Lake Livingston Arial footage of the city of Livingston depicts snowfall that covered the city and much of Polk County last Monday. The snowfall was the result of Winter Storm Uri, which made its presence last Sunday night and impacted the county much of the week.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Winter Storm Uri wrecked havoc on the entire state of Texas, including Polk County.

    While Uri forced several businesses to close for much of the week, the county’s biggest winter storm since 1996 didn’t do as much damage as anticipated. While there were power outages, frozen pipes, water main breaks and water shortages, there were no fatalities from automobile accidents or freezing/hypothermia.

    “Power in Polk County was restored quickly,” Polk County Office of Emergency Management coordinator Courtney Comstock said. “Water is still an issue. We are advocating for our residents in trying to get information when their water will be restored. There are a lot of water main breaks. It also took a little while for utility companies to identify the leaks. Crews are working diligently to restore homes.”

    Comstock said that power was restored fairly quickly after the storm. She said that SHECO (Sam Houston Electrical Cooperative) moved really quickly and Entergy resolved most of their outages Thursday.

    According to Comstock, SHECO had 11,758 meters without power due to outages from the storm in Polk County between Monday and Tuesday, but as of Thursday, they were up and operational completely. She said Entergy had slightly less than 100 outages as of Thursday and now they have just one.

    Uri made her mark Sunday night by bringing snow and freezing rain to the area. Snow continued through Monday night, and much of the county had to deal with icy road conditions until Thursday.

    “This disaster is different because it impacted all 254 counties in the state of Texas,” Comstock said. “DPS reported eight vehicular accidents. First Responders had to pull some folks out of ditches as well. But there were no fatalities from accidents or freezing.”

    Uri also forced the county’s six school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska ISDs – to shut down for the entire week. All school district except Goodrich, which has a student holiday on Monday, are scheduled to return to the classroom on Monday.

    Comstock said she expects some supplies in from Red Cross on Monday, and the Center of Hope provided meals and beverages to residents in need on Saturday. She also said that drinking water was expected to arrive this weekend, and that most restaurants are open to serve hungry citizens.

    “Emergency Management has requested drinking water from the state,” Comstock said. “Residents have been directed to restaurants in Livingston because most have been operational in serving the past two days. We’ve been telling people to call local restaurants to ask if they have filters for their water so they can serve drinks. The state is getting ready to roll. I anticipate drinking water to arrive soon. When the water comes in, volunteer fire departments will distribute it. This helps with localized distribution.”

    Comstock also said that Lifeline Church of Livingston helped by opening a warming shelter and managed to maintain power and water. The church also provides showers and laundry services at the facility.

    Uri brought back memories for Comstock, a Livingston native. She compared it to another winter storm that took place a quarter of a century ago.

    “The last ice storm that could be compared to this one happened in 1996,” Comstock said. “I was in elementary school when the winter storm of 1996 hit. I remember that we had thick ice and snow mix on the ground for three days. I don’t remember a long-term power outage then, but as a kid, I was excited to get out and play. Those were fun memories.”

    Comstock said Uri was the first winter storm of this magnitude that she dealt with as coordinator of the OEM. This is her 13th year with the Polk County OEM.

    “I think Polk County fared better than many other counties,” Comstock said. “Power was restored quickly. Once we get water restored, we’ll be back to normal conditions. Some residents will have to make home repairs in order to get back to normal. I think we’re all looking forward to some 60-degree weather this weekend.”

  • County commits funds to regional communications infrastructure

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Byron Lyons addresses commissioners about an agenda item that he wants tabled during Tuesday morning’s Commissioners Court. The item was tabled.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Polk County commissioners approved a measure that will help not just their own county, but other counties as well during Commissioners Court Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    The measure is a resolution authorizing the commitment of county funds and participation in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project by the Deep East Texas Council Of Governments (DETCOG) for regional interoperable radio communications. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy believes this is a good move.

    “A few years ago, one of our Sheriff’s deputies was shot at and he was unable to get out and his radio wasn’t working so he couldn’t get help,” Murphy said. “What we’re trying to do is get interoperable communications with the entire 12-county DETCOG region and build a network across those counties that will allow us to have interoperability for emergency management, law enforcement, first responders or anybody that needs to be in communication in a crisis situation or circumstances. If we can get this done, then they’re asking for a commitment of 1 percent from the cog, which is huge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these counties to be able to get good interoperability.”

    The DETCOG region consists of 12 counties that include Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. The project calls for some communication structure.

    “It’s going to be upgraded technology where towers will be placed strategically,” Murphy said. “For example, let’s say Polk County ends up with a tower. That tower will be powerful enough to cover part of Liberty County, part of Trinity County or part of Tyler County depending on where the tower is located. The idea is to put ‘umbrellas’ over the entire DETCOG region to where everybody is covered regardless of where the location of the tower is. It’s a regional plan.”

    Commissioners also approved a measure to submit a CDBG grant application for flood and drainage improvement in a subdivision in Precinct 1. The Precinct 1 Road & Bridge Department will match the funds.

    “What happens when you receive these grants, there’s a matching portion,” Murphy said. “They don’t just give you the money. You have to have ‘skin in the game.’ It’s a matching grant. Some of the HUD requirements that those people be low to moderate income. To be LMI, it’s based on the average income for that county. The average income for Polk County is lower than the average income for Montgomery County based on the businesses and what people make. The cost of living is also higher in Montgomery County. The LMI is what qualifies certain areas. Let’s say you live by the lake and you have a home with a low monetary value, but it’s right next to a mansion. The mansion skews it and does not allow the person living in the smaller home to receive as much funding or assistance because the value for that area is so high. HUD has set up requirements for LMI and that gives you points for when you apply for those grants. The lower the income, the more assistance you will be providing and the more points you get when you make application. The LMI is what qualifies that subdivision based on the conditions and the amount of money the people living in that area make.”

    Also approved was a measure for county transportation infrastructure. The Texas Department of Transportation is partnering with the county.

    “Our agreement with TxDOT is to help replace some bridges and culverts or things like that,” Murphy said. “Our agreement is to allow them to proceed and each commissioner will communicate with TxDOT engineers to get what those precincts need. We’re trying to streamline the operation as much as possible and allow it to be simplified.”

    The next Commissioners Court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

  • County offices relocating during courthouse construction

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Matt March of Texas AgriLife discusses surface lease agreements with Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County employees who have offices in the courthouse will have to relocate for two years soon.

    That’s because the courthouse will undergo a renovation project after the county received a $3 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission earlier this month. During the projected two-year project, courthouse offices will be relocated to the vacant building of the former Regional Health Center and to the Polk County Annex building.

    “We’re scheduled to complete in mid-2023,” Polk County grants and contracts administrator Jessica Hutchins said. “But with construction, that could always change. The project is expected to begin within six months of our contract. We don’t receive contract until March, so we should be going out for bids within six months of that agreement. It’s roughly a two-year project.”

    The relocation measure was approved during commissioners court Tuesday morning. During the two-year period, commissioners court will take place in the former Regional Health Center building.

    “When we originally applied for the grant, we didn’t qualify,” Hutchins said. “But when THC had an additional $3 million left over, they awarded that to us. We’re not receiving the official award until THC meets on Feb. 3. Then we’ll know more and have an accurate date on contracts and construction.”

    Speaking of grants, the county is working on finding a project for the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant. Once an administrator and engineer have been selected, the project selection can begin.

    “TDA every year opens up grants for their CDBG program,” Hutchins said. “It’s basically to improve water districts, sewage and basic necessities for the community. Last year we received $250,000 for Dallardsville-Segno Water Corporation. Now we’re opening up a new grant period. We’re getting an administrator and an engineer to select a project in the county.”

    A similar process will take place for the Hurricane Harvey Regional Mitigation Program. Hutchins elaborated on that as well.

    “For Hurricane Harvey, there’s a mitigation program and that’s set where any flooding for Harvey was done we want to mitigate that for the future so those same areas are not flooded,” she said. “There are certain zip codes within the county that flooded so they are eligible to apply for the program. There’s two rounds of mitigation. The first round is competitive. We already applied and submitted that application. There’s allocated mitigation funding that’s given to each of the counties that DETCOG is receiving in allocated amounts that are set for us and they help the general land office come up with a way to disburse it among our community. The general land office will be allocating set funds to each of the counties that DETCOG services. Each county that was impacted by Harvey will be receiving funds that are not competitive that we are set to receive.”

    Matt March of Texas AgriLife discussed surface lease agreements. The lease agreements, which are set to expire June 30, are for land in Baylor and Throckmorton counties that Polk County has designated for its six school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska.

    “A long time ago, the legislature set up some land in West Texas and designated it as property for the school districts in our county to be managed by the court,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “The lease money gets split up with the schools in the county and the county benefits as well. The majority of counties sold their land a long time ago. Polk County is one of the few that did not. We are responsible for managing it and maintaining the quality of the property, and making sure the money is going where it’s supposed to go.”

    The next commissioners court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9.

  • County sets speed limit near Apple Springs

    110520 countyGoogle Maps

    TCNS Staff

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners’ Court on Oct. 27 put its foot down on drivers putting the accelerator down.

    Commissioners approved setting a 25-mph speed limit on Graham Road between FM 357 and State Highway 94, which was done without debate. It was approved unanimously.

    In other business, the county:

    •approve the county’s investment policy, an annual undertaking, and reappointed County Treasurer B.L. Dockens as investment officer;

    • approved budget amendments of $1,500;

    • appointed Tom Hester as reserve deputy constable for Precinct 3;

    • approved the purchase of a 2012 HAMM 3410 cab roller for Road and Bridge Precinct 3; and

    • declined to discuss or act on a burn ban for the county.

  • County to investigate insurance options

    CountysealFILE PHOTO Trinity County seal

    TCNS staff

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners’ Court delayed action on renewing its health benefits with the Texas Association of Counties to allow questions about plan availability are answered.

    County Attorney Colton Hay had asked if there was a second option that could be offered that had a higher deductible but lower premiums, to be offered to people who would prefer that type of plan.

    County Treasurer Bob Dockens said there was, but there also was a danger of the county losing its grandfathered position on health care plans, which will mean much higher premium costs.

    Dockens will schedule a discussion with the county’s TAC representative to get clarification on options and county’s grandfathered status.

    In other business, the county:

    • approved a hiring recommendation from the county’s Internship Committee;
    • approved the purchase of a new recording system for 911;
    • approved the countywide transition to Microsoft 365 for the county’s email needs;
    • approved the purchase of several vehicles for Precinct 4 from the Texas Forest Service;
    • approved the hiring of a structural engineer to evaluate the needs for a new maintenance building;
    • approved a resolution regarding 1115 Medicaid waivers.
  • County to receive $3 million restoration grant

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE From left, Polk County Commissioners Guylene Robertson and Tommy Overstreet listen to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy during the first commissioners court of the 2021 calendar year Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County will receive a $3 million restoration grant from the Texas Historical Commission soon.

    The grant was approved at the first commissioners court of the new year Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse. The approval was music to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy’s ears.

    “Thank goodness it was approved,” Murphy said. “It was a long time coming. It’s nice to receive $3 million.”

    The grant will be used to restore the court room located on the second floor of the courthouse. Murphy said county grants and contracts administrator Jessica Hutchins was instrumental in achieving this grant.

    “Jessica took the bull by the horns and submitted a beautiful grant request,” Murphy said. “She’s been in contact with the Texas Historical Commission throughout and it’s pretty exciting to be able to get the courthouse up to par.”

    Murphy does not have a timetable on when the project will begin. However, she said the news about receiving the grant was “pretty exciting.”

    “You have to go through planning and the THC has to approve everything before receiving the grant,” Murphy said. “One of the requirements is that the district courtroom has to be restored. We will have to remove some modifications that were made by the previous administration. It has to go back to its original look.”

    Commissioners also approved the purchase of nine foreclosed properties. Eight of the nine properties are located in Lake Livingston Village and the other is in Indian Springs Lake Estates.

    Tuesday’s commissioners court was the first for newly-elected Precinct 1 commissioner Guylene Robertson. More on her can be seen in Sunday’s Enterprise.

    The next commissioners court will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26.

  • Covid-19 regional update

    N2103P48004CFILE PHOTO Covid-19

    By ETxN Staff

    Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler Counties

    In the Trauma Service Area designated H, which includes Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler counties, the amount of hospital bed usage by COVID-19 patients is down to 10% as of Wednesday, April 21, according to figures from the state department of health services. 

    Of the ICU beds available, 14% are being used as of Wednesday by COVID-19 patients. 

    The figure for daily cases reported as of Wednesday was 13 and the cumulative totals for the trauma region are 11,591 cases reported since reporting began in 2020, and 698 total COVID-related fatalities.

    Since reporting of active cases ceased in early March, concurrent with the lifting of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate, Tyler County reported 1,213 total cases and 34 deaths since March of 2020 when the county’s first confirmed case was reported."

    Houston County

    According to emergency management coordinator Heath Murff, as of April 30, the total number of Covid vaccination doses that had been administered in the county was 10,431.

    He added, “6,500 of those have been first doses; 4,633 of those are fully vaccinated people.

    “Houston County Emergency Management has hosted three vaccinations clinics, and we have vaccinated 600 citizens.”

    Murff said DSHS staff members “used to give us information daily, as far as, how many cases we had, how many active cases we had, how many recoveries we had, all that kind of specific (information) for Houston County, and they quit doing that.”

    ET COVID CHART

    **More information for up-to-date numbers can be found at:

    https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83

     

  • Crockett burglary suspect arrested in Huntsville

    MUGSHOT CorleyMUGSHOT Castein Austin Corley

    By Chris Edwards

    CROCKETT – Crockett Police last week identified one of the suspects in a burglary that occurred earlier in the month.

    According to a news release from CPD, a 20-year-old Crockett man, Castein Austin Corley, was arrested on March 12 by the Huntsville Police Department for warrants issued by CPD. The warrants were for Burglary of a Habitation and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.

    The burglary Corley was named as a suspect in occurred on March 4 in the 500 block of Anson Jones and was one of several to occur at the home within the last few months.

    Police say that suspects have taken in excess of $200K in cash and property.

    Footage from the victim’s home DVR system allowed law enforcement to obtain videos depicting the crime as it occurred, and the videos are available on the Crockett Police Department Facebook page, as well as the Deep East Texas Crime Stoppers page. The footage shows four suspects making unlawful entry into the home through a window.

    Both charges Corley faces are felonies, with the conspiracy charge a first-degree felony and the burglary a second-degree felony.

    According to the investigators working the case, the investigation is still ongoing, with the arrests of the other suspects to follow.

    CPD is asking the public to help with this case. Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the remaining suspects is urged to call the Crockett Police Department at 936-544-2021, or the Crime Stoppers tip line at 936-639-TIPS. Crime Stoppers tipsters can remain anonymous and can be eligible for a cash reward if information leads to an arrest.

  • Crockett Chamber $100 weekly drawing (VIDEO)

    IMG 8870TONI BROWNING | HCC The Crockett Area Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark, left, and Ashley Keenan, a chamber ambassador and Houston County Courier marketing director, conducted the drawing for the fourth week’s raffle Monday, Feb. 1, inside the office of the Courier, one of the sponsors of the event.

    By Alton Porter and Toni Browning

    The Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a 10-week series of free giveaway drawings, called “10 in 2021”, through which lucky visitors to chamber-member businesses can win $100 each week.

    Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark visited the Houston County Courier office to draw the winning name on Feb. 1. Ashley Keenan, a chamber ambassador and Houston County Courier marketing director, assisted Clark by drawing the winner’s name.

    Linnea Robison, a visitor to Betty Boop’s restaurant, was the $100 winner of the fourth week’s drawing. Robison will receive $100 in cash and the restaurant will receive a free E-Blast from the Chamber. The E-Blast is sent out to all chamber businesses by email and contains information that is important to the winning company.

    Each Monday at 10 a.m., a winner’s name will be drawn at a sponsoring business. A live video is streamed on the Chamber’s Facebook page at that time.

    Sponsoring the drawings are Smitty’s BBQ, Knox Furniture, Bella’s Gifts and the Houston County Courier.

    For information on how you can participate in the free raffles, contact Clark by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 936-544-2359.

  • Crockett leaders updated on winter storm damage and recovery

    IMG 7751ALTON PORTER | HCC Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein, above, updated the city’s councilmembers on last month’s winter storm events and water losses and announced that the city has recovered from most of the damage done to its water system by the storms at a meeting Monday evening.

    By Alton Porter

    The city of Crockett sustained damage as a result of last month’s extremely cold winter storms. However, the city has recovered from most of the water problems and other damage caused by the weather events that were atypical for this part of the country.

    City Administrator John Angerstein presented an update on the recent “winter storm events and water loss” to Crockett city councilmembers and they discussed the matters at a meeting Monday evening.

    In a related item of business, the councilmembers voted to pass a motion approving a policy, which offers certain city water customers the opportunity for a one-time adjustment to lower their bills for “water loss due to the winter storm damage/leaks.”

    “Friday through Sunday (Feb. 12-14), after we were getting reports in from our weather forecasters, we realized that it (the winter storms) was going to be even worse than we initially had been told,” Angerstein said, in presenting his update, referring to a timeline he had distributed to the councilmembers.

    The timeline “gives everyone an idea of when this event happened and kind of our recovery process throughout it,” the city administrator said.

    “So, we sent out a couple of PSAs (public service announcements)—one on Friday and one on Sunday. We started scrambling as a city, going around and winterizing everything, covering and insulating all of our pipes, and doing what we could to double check our pumps and exposed piping and everything.

    “As a note, our pumps, all of our exposed piping, weathered the storm event really well. We have 12-inch water mains that go up our towers; those actually froze. We had heaters on those, keeping those thawed out. That’s how cold it really got.”

    “But we lost a couple of pumps at our wastewater plant due to freezing,” said Angerstein. “And we lost a pump on our sewer trailer. As we were trying to work it and also take care of sewer issues, the water froze up within that pump and it cracked as well. Those are insured losses.

    “Other than that, we faired (well), as a city, with our city infrastructure and our pumps and our systems. We came out of it with relatively little losses.”

    Angerstein continued, “During the night between Sunday and Monday (Feb. 14-15), is when things got serious for us enough to where our (water) system pressure really dropped…. We had no explanation for it, so we began sending people throughout the city, thinking we had water mains that had broken.

    “Between Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 15-17), our pressure just continued to drop with just no end in sight, and all the way up until last weekend, we were continuing to find water leaks. As of that time, we had turned off approximately 500 meters at locations where we had found leaks.”

    Angerstein noted that city officials and staffers opened the Crockett Civic Center as a warming shelter for residents whose electric power was out and needed a warm place to stay during the extremely cold weather days.

    “As a city, we spent a lot in manpower—staffing, overtime, fuel, equipment—but did not receive any really uninsured damages or losses,” Angerstein said.

    Concerning the Water/Sewer Bill Adjustment Policy, adopted in response to the winter storms, “Angerstein noted, “The city of Crockett is helping its water/sewer utility customers who experienced significant higher water/sewer bills as a result of water leaks resulting from the winter storms and prolonged freezing temperatures during the week of Feb. 14, 2021.

    “If you are a city of Crockett water utility customer and your water/sewer bill that included the week of February 14 was at least 25% higher than the billing average of your November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021 bills, you are eligible for a one-time water/sewer bill adjustment.

    “The adjustment is based on an assumption that such an increase would be due to a water leak. If eligible, the adjustment will reduce your monthly water/sewer bill that covers the week of Feb. 14 to be equal to your monthly average bill for November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021.”

    Water customers who believe they are eligible for an adjustment, can contact the city of Crockett water department office by phone at 936-544-5156, Extension 206.

    Also, during the meeting, the councilmembers received an update on Phase 2 of the city’s Small Business Relief Program presented by James Gentry, executive director of the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation (CEIDC).

    The program provides financial assistance to Crockett small businesses that have experienced economic fallout as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Gentry said several businessowners have expressed interest in receiving funds from the program.

    Forty businesses were granted $500 each through the first phase of the program. The CEIDC initially put up the money for that phase and was later reimbursed with funds made available by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    Gentry said the CEIDC is planning to provide $20,000 for Phase 2 as well.

    Owners of businesses with 10 or less employees that were impacted by the pandemic or last month’s winter storms may apply for funds through Phase 2 of the relief program by visiting the CEIDC office in the Crockett Civic Center or calling the office at 936-546-5636.

  • Dangerous drug kills 1, sends 3 to hospital

    PCSO logoPCSO logo

    From the Polk County Sheriff's Office

    One person is dead and three more in the hospital after they consumed a dangerous drug earlier last week.

    On Tuesday, Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a location in the Ace area of Polk County concerning the death of a local individual and two others that were believed to have consumed methamphetamines. Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons suspects that due to the evidence located at the scene along with drug evidence all three individuals consumed the unknown drug laced with an unknown chemical.

    Later that day another individual was discovered in a different subdivision with the same symptoms stating that he also consumed drugs associated with the three individuals from earlier. This person was transported to a local hospital.

    At this time detectives are conducting investigation and awaiting information from the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office as well as hospitals the individuals were transported to for treatment.

    Lyons wants to make the public aware of drugs such as crystal meth and heroin being sold to individuals in Polk County that is suspected of being laced with an unknown chemical or possibly fentanyl. He asked that anyone with information as to the illegal use and sale of narcotics to contact and report to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867).

  • Deer Season is underway

    white tailed 139715COURTESY PHOTO Whitetail Deer Season started on Saturday and concludes Jan. 3.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County Game Warden David Johnson believes that Christmas time is here already.

    “Deer season is a Game Warden’s Christmas,” he said. “Most of us look forward to it. I enjoy getting out and visiting with hunters and people who are out having a good time. I enjoy seeing all of the new harvest of deer and getting to visit with folks who are hunting for the first time. It’s like a social event.”

    Johnson and his fellow game wardens across the state will be busy over the next two months. That’s because Whitetail Deer Season began on Saturday and will conclude in January.

    The general season for whitetail deer is from Nov. 7 to Jan. 3. Archery-only season took place from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6.

    With Covid-19, social distancing has changed the way of life in many areas. Johnson said it shouldn’t play too much of a factor in the general season, however.

    “There are no new rules for social distancing,” he said. “Our directive is to be smart and be safe. We’re just going to go out and do our work.”

    There are certain regulations when it comes to deer hunting. For starters, there is a county bag limit of no more than four deer — two bucks and two does — per hunter.

    While each hunter is allowed a maximum of two bucks, only one of those two may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. A legal buck is defined as a male deer with at least one unbranched antler or an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

    “Do have a good time, Do be safe, and Do remember to be courteous to others,” Johnson said. “Be aware of shooting times — one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset, Be mindful of your surroundings, and remember to properly fill out your tags and cut out your dates in addition to filling out your harvest log.”

    One change that has been made because of Covid is the publication of the Outdoor Annual magazine that is published on an annual basis. That has been replaced by a cel phone app.

    “Our outdoor Annual Now is online and is a downloadable app,” Johnson said. “They’re not printing them this year, but it’s a free app. It’s real easy to look up all of the information that you’re looking for.”

    Johnson plans to spend a lot of time in the woods over the next two months — both on and off the clock.

    “I believe I’ll take advantage of deer hinting on my days off,” he said. “I like to get out there and see what’s in the woods. I’m ready to get in the woods. It’s going to be a good time and a lot of fun. We look forward to seeing everybody out there. I enjoy hunting with my two boys and watching them have fun in the deer stand. You can’t beat it.”

  • Deputies investigating weekend shooting

    020421 shooting Photo courtesy of SJCSO Facebook page Law enforcement officials investigate a shooting in the 100 block of Cindy Lane on Friday that left one man with a gunshot wound.

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — A Shepherd man was arrested in connection with a Friday shooting that left a second man in critical condition.

    Brent Donnan, 36, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the incident.

    According to information provided by The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, a 911 call was made around 6 p.m. on Jan. 29 regarding a possible shooting in the 100 Block of Cindy Lane in Shepherd.

    A San Jacinto County deputy constable arrived first on the scene to find a victim was shot and being transported out of the area by a personal vehicle to meet EMS personnel.

    Witnesses provided a description of a person involved in the altercation, which was relayed to law enforcement personnel, the SO said.

    The suspect that was involved in this shooting had left the residence, running into a nearby wooded area with a firearm, according to witnesses.

    As other deputies and state troopers arrived to establish a perimeter, the subject came out of the woods and surrendered to authorities, the SO said.

    The victim was transported to an area hospital in critical condition, where he was admitted and underwent surgery. The victim is listed in stable condition, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

    Donnan has been released on a $10,000 bond.

    The investigation by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's detectives is continuing.

  • DETCOG five-year transit plan summarized

    DETCOG Cunningham 052721ALTON PORTER | HCC Mark Cunningham, above, of DETCOG, presented a summary of the entity’s five-year transit coordination plan for residents in its 12-county region who have transportation needs or know of available services.

    By Alton Porter

    CROCKETT – Staff members of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments & Economic Development District (DETCOG) have held public meetings in the 12 counties the entity covers, including Houston County, to offer and receive information on transportation needs and services in the region.

    The meetings drew small attendances, according to DETCOG Regional Disaster Economic Recovery Coordinator Mark Cunningham, who came to Crockett last Tuesday, May 18, to present the Deep East Texas Regional Public Transportation Coordination Five-Year Plan and collect information from Houston County residents who have transportation needs or know of available services.

    Low turnouts at the meetings is not stopping DETCOG staffers from attempting to spread information about the plan and collect information from regional residents, Cunningham told the Courier at the Houston County meeting.

    “Some of our counties do not have any public transit,” DETCOG Regional Planner Bob Bashaw was quoted as saying. “In some of our counties you can call and schedule a ride a couple of days in advance. Some of our cities have fixed bus routes. The planning process gives us an opportunity to look for better ways these resources could be used.

    In addition, the press release states, “Anyone providing transportation is also encouraged to provide information on their services at the meetings. Matching up available rides with needs is an important part of the plan.”

    Persons who have needs or know of services and were unable to attend any of the meetings “can also submit comments and information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” Cunningham stated, adding they may also call the DETCOG office in Lufkin at 936-634-2247. Also, “they can call 211—the 211 program—and they can be referred,” he said.

    Cunningham said, “We contracted with TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) to create a five-year regional transit plan. It’s one that we do every five years through TxDOT. It’s for the DETCOG region.

    “The contract was finalized before Jasper (County) was moved to the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission. So, they’re still included in this plan.”

    Cunningham explained, “Right now, Brazos Transit District is the designated public transit provider in the DETCOG region. They operate demand-response transit services in Houston, Polk, San Jacinto and Trinity counties. And then, they do fixed-route bus services, where the buses just make regular routes in the cities of Nacogdoches and Lufkin.

    “So, you can call them for the demand-response, or you can go online—btd.org. Then, the fixed-route bus services—you can find out more about those at btd.org, as well. As of right now, there aren’t any known public transit services in Jasper, Newton, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby or Tyler counties.”

    Cunningham continued, “So, those counties don’t have the bus services from BTD or any others that we know at this point, which is why we’re having these meetings. We’re having the meetings so that we can learn of anybody that is providing transit services to veterans—to anybody, really.

    “So, that’s really the whole purpose of these meetings that we’ve been having in each of the 12 counties that makeup DETCOG. We go out in the communities; we ask people if there are people providing that services. We’re making sure that people have the information that they need and making sure we can get to the information so that we can pass it on to TxDOT so they can have it as well.”

    Cunningham added, “There are a few providers, like Nacogdoches has a taxi service and Lufkin has a couple of services, as well. But BTD is the main public transit.”

    He said the main needs DETCOG and BTD staffers have heard about in the region are medical needs and veterans’ needs, but he was not aware of any in Houston County. “That’s why we’re holding these (public meetings) so that we can hear from the public; so that anybody that has unmet needs, anybody that has ideas of needs, they can go through.”

    The Houston County public meeting was DETCOG’s ninth one, Cunningham said. Meetings also were held last week in Angelina, Trinity and three other counties. Meetings were held in the six other DETCOG region counties week before last.

    The message Cunningham said he would like to distribute to residents in the region is “just if they know of needs and have ideas of what can be used, to contact us—to reach out to us—and we can pass that along. We want to be able to provide as much help as we can—just to get the word out and to make sure that they can get that (help). We’re here to make sure that we can get that feedback. We are required to have the meetings, but we just can’t stress enough that people need to reach out with anything they’ve got.”

    Jo Marlow, of Bryan, BTD’s vice president for marketing and communications, who was present at the Houston County meeting and attended several others, according to Cunningham, confirmed Cunningham’s statement that Brazos Transportation District provides transit services in several counties in the region.

    “We provide a demand-response service. It’s a door-to-door service where people can—we would pick them up from one location and take them to another location. Here in Crockett, the majority of our transit needs are mainly medical—people getting to and from doctors’ appointments or hospital visits—something like that—or a pharmacy.

    “Our services are available to anybody,” said Marlow. “You don’t have to be disabled to use it. We’ll take you anywhere you’ve gotta go within Houston County.”

    To request BTD’s services, a person must first fill out a short application; “and then, if you want to call or schedule a ride, we’re going to need your pick-up location and your drop-off location, and if you’re going to an appointment or something, we need to know what time you need to be there,” Marlow said.

    The phone number to dial to request services is 979-778-0607, BTD’s main office number, and the caller will be transferred to its dispatch office to talk to a dispatcher to get setup for their trip, she said. “You can call up to a week in advance. As soon as you know when you’ve got an appointment, I would suggest calling because we do fill up pretty fast.

    “We do offer same-day service, but that’s just based on availability if we have the space and the drivers available, but I would suggest that you do it as soon as you can.”

  • Dogwood Festival: a look at its return in photos

    Dogwood Dash Winners GroupDogwood Dash Winners Group

    All photos by Jim Powers

    WOODVILLE – The 78th installment of the countywide Dogwood Festival was a success and drew large crowds for its third and final weekend, Queen’s Weekend.

    Sunnie Wilkinson, of Colmesneil, was crowned as the new Dogwood Queen to top off the festival, and a variety of events took place, with a great deal of family friendly fun to be found in Woodville.

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    The Dogwood Dash drew runners from all over the state on Saturday morning, and Jaycie Spann of Idalou, was the overall winner for the female runners with a time of 24:10.9 and Rex McGehee, also of Idalou, won in the male runners’ division, with a time of 19:43.6.

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    The overall theme of the festival was “We are Tyler County, a Celebration of the Beginning,” and the 175th anniversary of the county, which occurred on Friday, April 3, was celebrated within the historical play on Saturday night. Additionally, members of the Tyler County Historical Commission served as marshals of Saturday afternoon’s parade, which featured more than 100 entries.