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White stumps for ag commissioner

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State Representative James WhiteState Representative James White

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – On Thursday, Nov. 4, State Representative James White spoke to a group of Republican voters regarding his bid for the position of Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the upcoming 2022 election. 

During the meeting held at the Moosehead Café in Crockett, Representative White shared his personal history. A native Texan, White graduated from Prairie View A&M in 1986, serving in the U.S. Army from 1987 until his honorable discharge in 1992.  White began his stint as a public school educator in the Houston area and continued teaching in the Fort Bend, Livingston and Woodville school districts. 

White taught history, geography, government, and economics and coached high school football, basketball and soccer. 

In 2010, White was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 2015, the Texas Justice of the Peace and Constable Association voted White as their Legislator of the Year. In 2019, White garnered recognition as Texas Monthly Magazine’s “Best Legislator.” He has received awards from numerous associations, such as the Texas Association of Business, Texas Eagle Forum, American Conservative Union, Texas Right to Life, and the National Federation of Independent Business. 

Currently, White serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety and sits on the Corrections and Redistricting committees. 

Representative White shared his vision for working with local constituents to improve communication and representation in the Agricultural Department. He spent an hour answering questions from the audience on topics from flooding in the Trinity River to Homeland Security involvement at the border.

The Texas election for Agriculture Commissioner will take place on November 8, 2022. The primary is scheduled for March 1, 2022, where Representative White will be competing with incumbent Sid Miller, who has held the position since 2015. 

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Two Texas legends playing Crockett

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Two Texas Legends Play

By Chris Edwards
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CROCKETT – Live music lovers have the opportunity to catch two legendary Texas singer/songwriters in Crockett next week in two separate shows.

Pat Green will perform a Piney Woods Fine Arts Association-produced show at the Crockett Civic Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19, and Shake Russell will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Camp Street Café downtown.

Green, who came to prominence in the Texas County boom of the late 90s and early 2000s, began playing live during his college days at Texas Tech in Lubbock. His early string of albums were produced by the legendary steel guitarist and producer Lloyd Maines and contained several of the songs that still fill his concert setlists to this day, such as “George’s Bar” and “Southbound 35.”

Green’s major label run in the early 2000s produced such hits as “Wave on Wave,” and through his career, he has covered songs by legends such as Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Walt Wilkins.

His last full-length album was Home, which was released in 2015.

The admission price to the Green concert are $25 general admission and $55 for VIP table seating. The show is being sponsored by HCEC and Callaway-Allee.

Saturday’s show at Camp Street with Russell will showcase a performer and songsmith with more than 50 years of experience to draw from.

Russell, who is best-known to mainstream audiences for co-writing such songs as Clint Black’s hit “Put Yourself in My Shoes,” has released 30 albums in his career. His latest album is titled Chasing the Song, and according to a news release from Camp Street about the show, Russell’s new record showcases “a delightful array of original compositions” that display his talents.

Russell’s sturdy folk-rock style falls under the “Americana” banner in today’s musical marketplace, and among his accolades, he has been a two-time recipient of the BMI Millionaire Award and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Music Association.

Russell has performed solo, as well as with bands and often as a duo with fellow singer/songwriter Dana Cooper. Admission to see Russell is $22.

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Jones sentenced in shooting death

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Judge SenticingBy Chris Edwards
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CROCKETT – A jury sentenced a Crockett man to three 60-year sentences following a trial last week.

William James Jones, 48, stood trial before a Houston County jury in the Third District Court, on three offenses, including murder. Jones was convicted of killing Artimas Dewayne Lockhart in 2019.

Jones was also charged with possession of a firearm and violation of protective order, and he was given 60 years on each charge. The sentences are set to run concurrently.

Jones’s trial got underway in Crockett last week, and the guilty verdict was delivered on Friday, Nov. 5. The sentencing was handed down on Monday.

The killing of Lockhart occurred during the early morning hours of March 26, 2019. Jones was arrested and charged shortly after the incident, and at the time, Crockett Chief of Police Clayton Smith recounted the killing to the Courier.

Smith said that an eyewitness saw the entire incident and identified Jones as the suspect. The killing occurred on the 100 block of Lewis Circle, and when law enforcement arrived, they found Lockhart inside his vehicle with an apparent gunshot wound to his upper chest region.

Smith said that although life-saving measures were conducted by officers and Houston County EMS personnel, who arrived on the scene later, the victim succumbed to his injuries.

Reports indicate that Jones fired at least three shots, and the victim was able to return fire and strike Jones. Jones was taken to a hospital in Houston, where he was under supervision by a Crockett Police officer.

At the time Jones was on parole and had an active parole warrant from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Parole Division.

Jones was represented in court by Palestine attorney Josh Liles, while Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar handled the prosecution for the state. District Judge Mark Calhoon presided over the trial. 

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Honoring the past in Lovelady

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Memorial 2

By Jan White
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LOVELADY – It’s the summer of 1891. In the law office of William Ballinger, Betty Ballinger and her cousin, Hally Bryan, are deep in conversation over a recent discovery. During their visit to a local Galveston cemetery, they discovered the unkempt graves of two Texas Patriots, David G. Burnet and Sidney Sherman. Burnet was the first president of the Republic of Texas snd Sherman, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. The neglect greatly impacted Betty because her maternal grandfather, Wil-liam Houston Jack, had also fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Surely there must be a way to help preserve these historic graves and honor the heroes who were such an important part of Texas history. 

Their discussion leads to an idea. Why not form a ladies’ organization dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the heroes of San Jacinto. Their course of action? Solicit support from other women of Tex-as whose husbands or ancestors had helped the Republic achieve and maintain its independence.

When Hally’s father learns of the plan, he offers to assist the women. Guy M. Bryan is the Texas Vet-eran’s Association president. Bryan has his own connections to Texas heroes. His mother, Emily Aus-tin Bryan, is the sister of Stephen F. Austin, 

so understandably, Guy is eager to see history preserved. He offers to introduce Betty and Hally to two influential women who might aid their cause - Mary Smith Jones, widow of the last president of the Republic of Texas, and Mary Harris Briscoe, widow of Judge Andrew Briscoe, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.    

On Saturday, Nov. 6, the cousins travel to Houston, to the home of Mary Briscoe, where they share their ideas with fourteen other women in the home of Mary Briscoe. That afternoon, they form the organization that will eventually become known as the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. 

What began back in 1891 is still carried on today. On Oct. 26, members from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) gathered at the Center Hill Cemetery in Lovelady to recognize two former members. Annie Houchin, born in 1871, and her daughter Minnie Cordelia Houchin May, born in 1891, were awarded a Daughters of the Republic of Texas medallion.

President of the New Kentucky Chapter of DRT, Carol Ann Waldrop, and Parliamentarian Marie Howell conducted the ceremony. The medallion was revealed, and a single rose, symbolic of friend-ship and remembrance, laid atop each woman’s headstone. In attendance for the reveal was special guest Linda Sue Martin of Galveston. “Susie,” as she is known by friends and family, is the grand-daughter/great-granddaughter of the honorees.

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Cook-off raises money for veterans

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Front Page Chili Photo

By Ashley Keenan

CROCKETT – Last week, the heavy wind that blew in from the west disappeared just in time for the Courier Cook-Off, providing the perfect weather for a bowl of chili. 

Folks from all over Houston County and surrounding counties traveled to the American Legion Post #134 on Saturday, October 30, to taste-test chili, beans and barbecue. The event kicked off with a “thank you” to the cooking teams for their participation and veterans for their ultimate sacrifice. 

This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance recited by four attending children and then a moment of silence for those who didn’t make it back home. 

Live music was provided by Chris Edwards, Houston County Courier’s news editor, and the aroma of multiple barbecue pits and chili pots filled the crisp air. Children competed in the Halloween cos-tume contest, trick-or-treated from booth to booth, had their faces painted by the Ladies Auxiliary, and bounced in an inflatable house donated by M&G Inflatables. Residents of Houston County showed up and honored their local veterans in what has been the most successful Courier Cook-Off to date.

In 2019, eight chili teams participated, and raised $300.

Last year, COVID didn’t stop us. We took precautions and had ten chili teams and two barbecue teams and raised $1,000.

This year, we had twelve chili teams, eight barbecue teams, seven cornhole teams, four vendors, and after expenses and payouts, we raised and donated just under $900.

For the first two years, the cost of a taste testing wristband was $10. To make it more affordable, we lowered the price to $5. Veterans’ wristbands were free, although many still insisted on donating the $5. We spent more on trophies and prizes to give our winners a memento, which was more rewarding than just a certificate. So, while the money raised is lower this year, we hope these changes give us a solid foundation on which to grow.

Once families, friends, and neighbors taste-tested to their stomach’s content and our panel of five judges reached their conclusions, the cook teams and attendees gathered in anticipation of the an-nouncement of winners.

“Before we announce the winners, there are two people that we would like to recognize. The first per-son I called when this cook-off was in its very early stages of planning. I knew that he had a little more knowledge about cook-offs than I did, so I asked for his advice. The conversation ended with him agreeing to be a judge, and he has judged every year since. He has helped fill the spots on the panel, offered suggestions, and each year I call him and ask, ‘So remind me again how we did this…’. I would like to recognize Rodney Taylor as an honorary judge,” I said.

After receiving his plaque and a photo, I retook the microphone.

“If you can believe it, we had a hard time getting veterans involved in this. On the afternoon before the first cook-off, I remembered a friend I  made while working at Sears who happened to be a Veter-an. I gave him a ring, and he agreed to be there bright and early to judge chili. Before this, he did not know about this event and was quite impressed with our efforts. He immediately became the missing link between the American Legion and the Houston County Courier. From that day forward, he has been the backbone of this operation. I would like to recognize Milton Ladnier as the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in the Courier Cook-Off.”

Milton is now the Commander of Post #134 and Houston County’s Veteran’s Service Operator. Once asked to say a few words, he kept it short and sweet by reminding those in attendance that the Amer-ican Legion is here to serve the Veteran’s of Houston County and their families, calling it “their home.” 

I led with the winner of the costume contest. With nearly 50 contestants, it wasn’t easy to choose a favorite with such a variety of characters. Jan & Gary White were the judges, and they agreed that a terrifying mummy, Jordan Garcia, would take home the trophy and the bucket of candy donated by Morris and Sharon Luker. 

The winners of the cornhole tournament were announced. With six male teams and one female team, it may seem hard for some to believe, but the Corn Dogs, a female duo, won the first place trophy and 50% of the entry fees, which totaled to $105. What’s even more interesting is these ladies are both coaches in the Austin school system and were only in Houston County to house/dog sit for a family member. The runner-up was a team called M&R, and they received a medal for second place. 

The winner of the booth decor, by a longshot, was Kenneth Brooks. He wowed the crowd with his Halloween-themed tent, vampire costume, and seven-foot-tall werewolf. 

First Place for Jackpot Beans was Taylor & Sons out of Madisonville. His winnings were $150.

1st Place Chicken: Mike McCreight for Justice of the Peace Pct. 1

2nd Place Chicken: 134 Riders

1st Place Brisket: Cookers & Hookers out of Camilla, TX

2nd Place Brisket: KJ’s Kuntry Cooks

1st Place Ribs: Cookers & Hookers out of Camilla, TX

2nd Place Ribs: Chili Billy’s

1st Place Chili: Cookers & Hookers out of Camilla, TX

2nd Place Chili: Pineycreek Stir Crazy

3rd Place Chili: My Chef Lizzy

People’s Choice Chili: Pineycreek Stir Crazy

We’re given one day per year to celebrate veterans, and that day has been deemed “Veterans Day.” These men and women went out into the unknown at a young age and fought for our freedoms today. And many are still fighting for us to keep them. In a world like we’re living in today, where everything they fought for is being threatened and taken away, they deserve more than one day. Many are in con-stant need of food, healthcare, and a roof over their head. In Houston County, we may not see the se-verity of some veterans’ hardships, but they’re there. A fundraiser like the Courier Cook-Off may not give them much, but it does provide a cushion for times of need or crisis. 

Thank you, Houston County, for loving your veterans!

“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Winston Churchill

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