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Houston County News - Breakout


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From Staff Reports

On January 5, 1933, construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, the structure that spans the 400-foot strait that connects the San Francisco Peninsula with the southern end of Marin County.

After the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators predicted that the land north of San Francisco Bay would increase exponentially in value according to its accessibility to the city. But it wasn’t until 1916, when James Wilkins suggested building a suspension bridge, that the idea began to feel like a possibility.

Wilkins, an engineering student who worked as a journalist with the San Francisco Bulletin, came up with a plan, but the budget for his concept called for an unheard-of amount of money - one hundred million dollars. The city’s engineer, Michael O’Shaughnessy, began searching for a bridge engineer who could construct it at a lesser cost. It was Cincinnati-born engineer and poet Joseph Strauss who agreed to the job.

Eventually, O’Shaughnessy and Strauss devised a plan to build a 4,000-foot structure for somewhere between twenty-five and thirty million, but by the time all the obstacles were cleared to start construction, the Great Depression had begun. It wasn’t until 1932 that San Francisco-based Bank of America agreed to fund the thirty-five million dollar project to help the local economy.

The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937. It was the longest bridge span in the world at that time, and its tall towers and famous ‘orange vermillion’ paint job made it a prominent landmark and symbol of San Francisco, both then and today.

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Residents asked to help verify broadband need

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Broadband Stock

By Chris Edwards
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LUFKIN – Residents within the Deep East Texas region are being asked to help verify a broadband availability map released recently by the FCC.

According to a news release from the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG), the map which can be viewed or downloaded at https://broadbandmap.ffc.gov/home, was designed with information available from regional internet service providers.

The federal government released the map showing what it believes is the type and speeds of internet service in the region, according to Mickey Slimp, who serves as DETCOG’s Broadband Project Manager.

“Rural leaders from throughout Texas have voiced concerns that the map exaggerates the actual service that is available,” Slimp said.

The process for individual households as well as communities in the region to challenge the map data can be found through the state’s Broadband Development Office, which was established in the last legislative session, as the process for providing reliable broadband, statewide, has been a priority item to the state legislature, as well as the regional COG.

The Broadband Office, which can be accessed online through: https://comptroller.texas.gov/programs/broadband/communities/maps/fcc, contains the information for challenges to the data to be filed.

Challenges can be based on several criteria, according to Slimp, including facts that providers have denied requests for service or demanded excessive connection fees. The deadline to submit a challenge is Jan. 13, 2023.

“More than $40 billion from the federal government will soon be sent to states to expand internet,” Slimp said, stressing the importance of the map’s findings. The FCC map will determine how that money is allocated among the states, with funding based on the number of unconnected homes on the map.

DETCOG has made broadband access its primary goal in recent years, and in a news release, stated that it will help ensure that Texas receives its fair share of the $40 billion, which is part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package. Biden announced in. May that about 40% of the U.S. population is eligible for free internet, under a program dubbed the Affordable Connectivity Program, which was part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law passage.

“If only one percent of [the FCC’s map] is inaccurate, 100,000 or more Texas homes could remain unserved,” Slimp said, and added that the problem is thought to be greater in rural areas, where the map inaccuracies could be as high as 25%. In Deep East Texas, that could equate to in excess of 31,000 homes.

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Kitchen excels in bodybuilding

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122922 kitchens bodybuildingEunice and husband Willie. Courtesy Photo

By Jan White
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In a video recorded for NPC New Online, interviewer Skylar Lanier called Eunice Kitchen “the Michael Phelps of the National Masters World Championships.”
Like Phelps, Kitchen walked away from the competition with an armload of medals and trophies.

The event, sponsored by the National Physique Committee (NPC) and the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), was held in Pittsburgh, PA, this past summer. During the interview, Kitchen was asked, “How does it feel to be not only an IFBB pro but a TWO-time IFBB pro.”

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Kitchen replied. “I knew that one day my dream would come true. I’ve been lifting since I was 15, and this was one of my dreams.”

From her humble start in San Benito, Texas, Eunice Martinez Kitchen has come a long way to reach her goal. It began when she was accompanying her father on a construction job. Kitchen saw a full-sized poster of Rachel McLish, the first crowned Ms. Olympia. Fascinated, Kitchen made up her mind that she, too, would become a professional bodybuilder like McLish.

While attending college at Stephen F. Austin State University, Kitchen joined a gym where she was one of only two females who lifted weights. The gym’s owner encouraged her to enter bodybuilding competitions. It was also at SFA that she met her husband, Willie Kitchen.

After the couple moved to Crockett, Kitchen said she would commute to Nacogdoches to continue her workouts, but the commute was challenging to her training schedule. Kitchen and her husband decided to start their own gym, and Muscles and Curves opened its doors in 1991. Kitchen says she competed back in the 80s and 90s for about thirteen years but never won her ‘pro card.’ So she decided to retire from competition.

Although Kitchen left professional bodybuilding, her journey in health and fitness continued. She has a degree in food systems/dietetics from SFA. She served as a public health nutritionist for the Texas Department of Health and the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for eighteen years. She became a member and Certified Trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine. Kitchen obtained certifications as a Fitness Specialist for older adults, a Pilates instructor, a Primal Movement Consultant, a life coach, a functional movement specialist, a strength and conditioning specialist, and is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Kitchen also lobbied for funding of the Secured Rural Schools and Counties alongside a coalition group in Washington, D.C., and is the founder of the annual Davy Crockett Classic cycling race in Crockett. In 2021, Kitchen was nominated as one of the top personal trainers in the state.

But Eunice Martinez Kitchen never let go of her dream.

When she discovered that the NPC and IFBB were adding a Master’s League to their competition, Kitchen decided to compete again. “So I retired for twenty-four years but returned in 2019, thinking that maybe now there was a Master’s Division I could earn my pro card.” Although she competed in 2019, 2020, and 2021, Kitchen told herself, “This is my year.”

And she was right. 2022 was most definitely Eunice Kitchen’s year. She won seven awards in bodybuilding and physique competitions.

When asked about her favorite part about prepping for the events, Kitchen stated, “It has to be the personal growth. The commitment. The drive. The fortitude that it takes. Each prep is different. Each prep is a challenge. But in each prep, there’s personal growth. There’s spiritual growth. And you become in tune with your body. Your body is your sanctuary. You learn the inner part of you. You know that if you can do a prep, you can do anything in your life.”

Regarding the wins, Kitchen said she wanted to thank her Lord and Savior, who has kept her safe and given her the energy, drive, and focus. She also wanted to thank her husband, Willie Kitchen, “who’s my biggest fan and believes in me better than I do.” She also thanked her team, her gym staff at Muscles and Curves, and the members who have supported her with phone calls and texts. In a recent interview, Kitchen stated, “I came from dirt poor, and nothing’s ever stopped me. The only thing that can stop you is yourself.”

On Tuesday, the unstoppable Eunice Kitchen was honored for her personal and professional achievements by the Houston County Commissioners Court, which proclaimed Dec. 27 as “Eunice Kitchen Day.”

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Proclamations top court agenda items

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Pictured left-to-right: Gary Lovell, Willie Kitchen, Eunice Kitchen, Judge Jim Lovell,  Gene Stokes and Jimmy Henderson. Jan White | HCCPictured left-to-right: Gary Lovell, Willie Kitchen, Eunice Kitchen, Judge Jim Lovell, Gene Stokes and Jimmy Henderson. Jan White | HCC

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – At Tuesday’s meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court, the court passed two important resolutions: a resolution calling for additional measures to secure the border and a declaration of Dec. 27 as “Eunice Kitchen Day.”

The first resolution was the brainchild of Commissioner Gene Stokes. Stokes said that the proclamation was to show support for Gov. Greg Abbott and his work at shoring up the borders and to let officials know that the county endorses more governmental support. “We are being invaded,” Stokes said, “ and we are asking our Federal Government to do their jobs to stop the invasion.” Stokes went on to read statistics on how many illegals have crossed over into the country. Regarding the proclamation, Stokes said, “A number of counties have already done this.” The resolution calls for additional measures to secure the border, stop the invasion at the border, and protect our communities, and will be sent to state and government offices.

The next resolution was on a more personal note. The court proclaimed this “Eunice Kitchen Day” in honor of her achievements not only at the local level but for winning several medals and awards at the “National Masters World Championships” bodybuilding and physique competition this past July. Kitchen, who is 57 years old, is an inspiration to the community.

In other business, the court approved the hiring of Thomas Morgan Phillips as a new jailer, approved the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund request for Bear Hall, accepted a donation of $2,000 from the JB and Kathryn Sallas Charitable Foundation for the Senior Citizens Center, and approved the addition of a phone and line for the new insurance coordinator.

The court also heard a report from Gene Kellum with the Houston County Search and Rescue. Kellum reported that the group had received nine “callouts” over the year, ranging from lost kids to adults with Alzheimer’s. Kellum said that their average recovery time is two hours and forty-five minutes. Kellum stated that the organization has twenty-seven members and is currently located at the armory.

During the meeting, Judge Jim Lovell also reported that Chief Deputy Roger Dickey had suffered a stroke over the Christmas holidays and was transported to Houston.

Lovell noted that he spoke to Dickey yesterday and that Dickey was having trouble with balancing and walking. Lovell also said that Terri Meadows, county clerk, had suffered a fall but was on the mend. Prayers for Dickey and Meadows were requested.

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Local church hosts candlelight service

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From Staff Reports

CROCKETT – Good Shepherd Fellowship Church invites you to join them in their second annual candlelight service to be held on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. The program centers around the theme “What Child is This?” It will feature musical renditions of sacred Christmas songs, a scriptural reading of Christ’s birth, and a special message presented by Reverend Charlana Kelly. The service will end with the congregational lighting of candles and a duet of O Holy Night sung by Pastor Ron and Najah Forehand.

Kelly said this about the service, “Christmas is all about worshiping the greatest gift ever given to humanity, Jesus Christ. Coming together around His name will set a beautiful tone for all your family Christmas celebrations.”

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