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Houston County News - Breakout

Rescue team receives equipment donation

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Pictured left to right: Van Sims, Randy Havard, Joe Earley, and Kevin Sims.Pictured left to right: Van Sims, Randy Havard, Joe Earley, and Kevin Sims.

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – Last Wednesday, Joe Easley and Van Sims, members of the Houston County Amateur Radio Club, met at Collins Tractor Supply to award a New Holland 9,000-watt generator to the winner of their recent fund-raising raffle. 

What made this giveaway unique is that the winning ticket was held by Randy Havard, Director of His Glory Search and Rescue of Lufkin. Havard, the purchaser of the ticket, is donating his prize to the search and rescue team.

“This generator will probably be on its way out by the time I get it home,” Havard said, explaining that he had already spoken to a team in South Texas that could use the apparatus. 

His Glory Search, Rescue and Aid Team is a Christian-based, non-profit organization that has been in operation for over twenty-three years. It is comprised of volunteers who monitor, prepare for, and respond to disasters in the United States and worldwide. Besides search and rescue, other areas of disaster response include medical aid, resource management, such as providing supplies for communities and other teams, onsite meals for First Responders, and other humanitarian assistance.

The team is looking for volunteers to assist in quick response search and rescue, logistics specialists to help load and unload gear, set up campsites and triage units, and operate ham radio equipment. If you would like to volunteer, or are interested in learning more about the His Glory Search and Rescue ministry, email Randy Havard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (409) 201-6512.

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HCHD swiftly retiring debt

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Houston County Hospital District LogoBy Jan White
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CROCKETT – At the Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors’ meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16, members voted to pay $225,000 towards its debt of $1,450,000 to Prosperity Bank. 

After hearing the regular reports from the hospital personnel and the ambulance report, the Board moved on to the critical topic of debt retirement. The first course of action was to approve the amendment to the loan with Prosperity Bank. This amendment is routine for these types of promissory loans; today’s was the 6th amendment, authorizing interest on the loan at 4.25%. The second item was a recommendation from the Finance Committee to approve a specified prepayment on the bank loan. 

The Finance Committee had convened on Nov. 8 to discuss the District’s finances to determine if an additional payment was feasible. After reviewing the financials provided by Dick Murchison, the Committee agreed to recommend that the District pay $225,000 at this time and $500,000 in February towards debt retirement.  After the two payments are made, the balance of the loan will be $725,000 plus interest. 

These payments will cut the balance owed in half, bringing welcome financial relief to the District. The Board was quick to commend Brandon Bridges at Prosperity Bank for his part in working with the District on its loan.

Introduced at the meeting was Crockett Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer, Anthony Cumbie. 

Cumbie gave several reports, including the write-off cost of indigent care, which amounted to approximately $687,675 over a three-month period. Emergency Management Services reported that they had received 300 calls. Out of that number, 50 were canceled, with 185 transported to Crockett, Huntsville, Lufkin, and Palestine ER facilities. When asked about the cancellations, it was explained that ambulances are sometimes dispatched for police or fire calls. When individuals don’t need EMS assistance, the requests are canceled. 

The Finance Committee also reported on the shared expense between CMC and HCHD for replacing and installing two cooling towers at the hospital. The cost for the HCHD portion was a little over $83k.

President Barbara Crowson also noted that Dr. Kelly Tjelmeland was listed as a “Super Doctor” in a recent edition of Texas Monthly Magazine. Tjelmeland,  one of the owners of Crockett Medical Center, specializes in aesthetic and plastic surgery. Crowson congratulated Tjelmeland on making the list.

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Kennard High School honors veterans

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Veterans Group 

KidsOn Thursday, Nov. 11, The Kennard High School student council presented a Veterans Day tribute and breakfast to honor and thank local veterans. Veterans in attendance were: Aric Champagne, Danny Gallant, Shane Stevenson, Jason Wheeler, Adam Fuller, Terry Pilkington, Charles Eilenstein, Travis Winebrinner, James White, Dennis Eifling, Steven Martin, Sr., Jimmie Berry, Steven Martin, Jr., Dustin Ennis and Heath Thompson.   Photos by Jan White | HCC



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Darsey’s celebrates 135 years of history

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By Jan White
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GRAPELAND – “Wall to Wall We Sell It All.”

You’ve heard the booming voice of Charley Darsey repeat this phrase for years, encouraging customers to buy locally and save money at Darsey’s Furniture. But the story behind the voice is one that you might not know.

It began in 1886 when George E. Darsey, Sr., bought out John R. Foster’s share of the dry goods store located in downtown Grapeland. The store, operating under Geo E. Darsey Dry Goods, Groceries & Furniture, sold everything from groceries to dining room tables, ladies hats and high-buttoned shoes, steamer trunks, mules, barrels of whiskey, and Huff mobiles. 

Business boomed, and the store expanded. A new brick building replaced the old wooden structure. According to an old edition of the Houston County Courier, it was the first brick building in Grapeland. Additions were made to the original building. The dry goods department moved across the street next door to the Farmers and Merchants State Bank. 

Things were going well for Geo E. Darsey’s Dry Goods, Groceries & Furniture. But on the night of March 4, 1913, a fire raged through downtown Grapeland, destroying fifteen businesses. Mr. Darsey himself lost six buildings. But the following day, Darsey’s was open for business, selling merchandise out of a boxcar that had been rented from the railroad. 

Throughout the years, Darsey’s proved to be the definition of a ‘family business.’ Joe Darsey and J.S. Darsey worked hardware, W.G. Darsey and George E. Darsey, Jr. were office managers and cotton and produce buyers. M.E. Darsey Sr. managed the dry goods section with the help of Miss Loye Darsey, Miss Bable Boykin, Starley Boykin Sr., and Mrs. Maggie Darsey. The children and grandchildren were egg counters, sackers, and delivery boys until they were old enough to handle more responsible positions. 

After graduating from Sam Houston State University in 1988, Charley H. Darsey joined his father operating the business. In 1999, the younger Charley and his wife, Tonya, purchased Darsey’s corporate assets. Under the George E. Darsey & Co. name, they sold appliances, hardware, and furniture. 

After the death of Charley’s father, Charley H. and Tonya relocated the store to a showroom they owned on the Loop in Grapeland. The old iron warehouse building, built by George E. Darsey, Sr., after the fire of 1913, was used for storage. In the new location, the Darseys decided to focus on just selling mattresses and furniture. According to Tonya Darsey, the last check she wrote to Frigidaire was in 2003. The store had evolved into what it is today – a premier mattress and furniture retailer.

In May of 2009, tragedy again struck the family business. A tornado ripped off the warehouse roof, destroying the structure that had served the Darsey family for almost 100 years. The loss was heartbreaking, causing the Darseys to question whether to even continue in the furniture business. But the tenacity that had kept the Darsey legacy alive prevailed. In September of 2009, Darsey’s opened their showroom that houses 25,000 square feet of home furnishings. 

This Friday, Nov. 19, Charley and Tonya Darsey, along with their family and employees, invite you to visit their store and celebrate their 135th Anniversary by taking a stroll through history. The walls are lined with photos depicting the store’s past. On display is an antique door, the name “Darsey’s Appliance Warehouse” faded but visible as a reminder of the family’s resilience. And then there’s the cash register, purchased by George E. Darsey, Sr. back in the late 1800s from the National Cash Register Company. If you’re lucky, you might get a guided tour by Charley Darsey himself, who enjoys sharing the history with anyone interested in learning about the five generations of Darseys who created the furniture dynasty. 

In appreciation for past and present employees, helpers, and their families, the Darseys will host a private breakfast at 8 a.m. The doors will open to the public at the usual 9 a.m. Then, there will be a brief ceremony around noon, where Charley and several other speakers will honor the Company’s 135th Anniversary.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Darsey’s if they didn’t offer great sales on mattresses and furniture.

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