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Houston County News - Breakout

Courier wins several awards

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From Staff Reports

SAN MARCOS – The Houston County Courier won several awards from the Texas Press Association (TPA) at its annual conference and trade show, which was held last week in San Marcos.

The categories the newspaper won in range from the association’s contest highlighting sports photography to feature writing.

Polk County Publishing Company publisher Kelli Barnes, who attended the conference, said of the wins, “We have a great team at the Courier.

They are committed to quality community journalism and Houston County is stronger for having a legitimate news source. Thank you, readers and advertisers, for your continued support.”

TPA, which is headquartered in Austin, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest newspaper trade associations. It represents 429 Texas newspapers, which participate in the annual contest. The contest breaks down the publications into different divisions based on circulation numbers and frequency of publication.

The Courier, for this year’s contest, was in Division 5, which was also shared by sister paper the Tyler County Booster.

According to its website, the organization “promotes the welfare of Texas newspapers, encourages higher standards of journalism, and plays an important role in protecting the public’s right to know as an advocate of First Amendment liberties.”

The awards won by the Courier staff for work produced during last year’s span of eligibility for the contest are:

• Sports Photography – Third Place (Larry Lamb)

• Feature Writing – Fourth Place (Alton Porter and Jan White)

• Headline Writing – Fourth Place (Jan White and Larry Lamb)

• News Writing – Third Place (Chris Edwards)

Courier news editor Chris Edwards said being a part of such a prestigious trade organization was “an honor in of itself,” and added that it was “beyond awesome” for the newspaper to be adjudicated as one of the best in a crowded field.

The four other newspapers in the PCPC family: the Polk County Enterprise; San Jacinto News-Times; Trinity County Standard and the Tyler County Booster, also won multiple awards for their published works from last year.

The quarterly East Texan lifestyle magazine, from PCPC, also won an award in the “Best Magazine” category.

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Leos inducted by Turner

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080422 pineywoods leos club

By Joseph Tuggle,
Leo CommunicationsChairperson

On Sunday, July 31, The Piney Woods Leos were inducted by Jim Turner for the 2022-2023 term. Members are excited about the new year and serving our community.

Officers pictured include: John Mark Cariker-Service chair, Joseph Tuggle-Communications Chair, Ariana Gonzalez-President, Grace Nesbitt-Vice President, and Ayriel Parker-Secretary. (Not pictured are other incoming officers: Sabrina Stewart-Membership Chair, Alexander Burke-Treasurer, and Edward Kane-Chaplain.)

Turner presented the Leo Club gavel and gong to Leo Club President Ariana Gonzalez.

Photos courtesy Leo Club Advisor Ellen Brooks

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P&Z committee addresses downtown issues

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080422 pz commitee

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – The Crockett Planning and Zoning Committee met recently to discuss updates on topics related to improvements in the downtown area.

One discussion focused on the idea of a possible ‘matching funds’ project, whereby the City of Crockett could work with property owners to help with exterior updates and restorations. The city receives leases on locally owned property. It was suggested that the approximate $28k a year of lease funds, which have not been earmarked, could be set up in a matching funds account. If a downtown building owner wanted to fix doors, windows, or exterior painting, they could apply for a matching restoration grant. In addition, an offer to help property owners with matching funds might encourage them to rehab their buildings.

Committee member Connie Strban suggested using the grant as an opportunity to contact and guide property owners to use a particular color palette when renovating their buildings, similar to what historic towns like Mesquite or Fredricksburg use. Currently, there are no specific color requirements in Crockett for downtown business owners who want to update their storefronts. In order to enforce a particular color palette, such a requirement would need to be a part of the City Ordinance. Some historic cities have committees whose purpose is to help select compatible color palettes. Guidelines were also proposed as to who might be committee members.

Compliance with certificates of occupancy and sewer and water continue to challenge the committee. Only one of the four buildings that received letters regarding occupancy have responded to the request so far. Another courtesy letter will be sent to property owners before more stringent steps are taken. The committee also talked about the plumbing and water issues that plague some of the buildings located in the block that is bordered by Houston, Fourth, Goliad and Fifth streets. The systems that provide water and sewage are found in a little-known courtyard located in the center of the buildings. Between the narrow entry space and overgrowth and debris found in the courtyard, repairs will be complicated without drastic measures, such as the tear-down of one of the adjacent buildings.

TxDOT is still considering plans to reconfigure the downtown area to make it more pedestrian friendly. So far, the Department seems amenable to rerouting traffic out of the downtown area, which would provide more parking for shoppers, preserve the integrity of the older or decaying buildings from damage caused by vibrations from 18-wheelers, and allow for easier access to downtown businesses.

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Lovelady Celebrates 150 years of history

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080422 lovelady celebrates 150

By Jan White
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LOVELADY – The City of Lovelady began as a fuel stop on the railway line of the Houston & Great Northern Railway.

The town was named after Cyrus Lovelady, an early settler in the area, from whom the land was acquired. In those days, cities became ‘official’ when the U.S. Postal Service established a post office.

On November 8, 1872, the United States opened its doors, officially proclaiming Lovelady as a certified town.

This is why, on August 13, the City of Lovelady will celebrate 150 years of small-town Texas history. The city plans to open its city hall to allow residents and visitors to view artifacts, pictures, books, and other memorabilia commemorating the municipality’s sesquicentennial.

Although Lovelady has the reputation of being a little one-traffic-light “if you blink, you’ll miss it’ town, it also has a notable historic significance. The Porter Place Ranch, founded in 1912 by V.H. ‘Hoyt’ Porter, was the setting for many of the outstanding photos taken by his son in law, the late Guy Gillette.

Gillette, a local historian, spent many summers at the ranch with his wife Doris Porter Gillette and their two sons.

Gillette’s historic pictorial chronicled all the aspects of small-town life – activities such as church socials, homecomings, dinners on the ground, barbershops, Bible school, and other pursuits enjoyed by family and friends. A Family of the Land: The Texas Photography of Guy Gillette was a coffee-table book by Andy Wilkinson, showcasing some of Gillette’s outstanding photos.

Native Lovelady resident, Howard A. Wooten, went to Prairie View College on a football scholarship, but aviation was his passion. In 1940, Wooten dropped out of college to enlist in the U.S. Army and rose swiftly through the ranks, becoming a Staff Sergeant in the 46th Field Artillery Brigade by January 1942. Wooten applied to the Army Flight School at Tuskegee, Alabama. Wooten was assigned to several fighter pilot groups and was one of a select group of pilots who trained to fly North American B-25 Mitchell bombers, but the war ended before he and the rest of his group were sent overseas.

Wooten lost his life, not during combat, but several years later when he fell from a scaffold while painting the 12th Avenue Bridge in Seattle. It was decades later that Wooten was memorialized by the U.S. Air Force when they used his pilot’s photograph to represent the famed Tuskegee Airman and later adopted as the official image of the Tuskegee Airmen Foundation.

Lovelady is also known as a popular country music venue in East Texas. It wasn’t unusual for locals to hear music rocking the rafters at the old school gymnasium on weekends. Notable country music singers like Carl Acuff, jr., Hank Thompson, Johnny Rodriguez and Moe Bandy have played at the gym. “It’s a wonderful place to play,” Bandy said. “The folks are enthusiastic and you always leave with a wonderful feeling in your heart.” Lovelady is also proud to boast that Cody Johnson performed at the gym on his way to stardom.

When the old gymnasium began deteriorating, the 1952 valedictorian of Lovelady High School, Norma Dell Jones, led the charge to put together a restoration effort to save the gym. Thanks to their efforts, the venue is still used for local events like weddings, church gatherings, and family reunions.

One of the newest editions giving Lovelady bragging rights is the Stesti Brewing Company. The family-owned and operated Czech-style brewery offers a variety of craft beers, and delicious food and frequently offers a venue for local and regional musicians to perform.

And who could forget Lovelady’s most popular event – the city’s annual Lovelday Lovefest. The Lovelady Lovefest got its roots (pardon the pun) from an idea conceived by the Lovelady Civic Club, formerly the Lovelady Garden Club. The Garden Club was formed by a group of ladies interested in beautifying their beloved town. For several years the Garden Club’s main goal was to plant sustainable landscape plants and maintain the property next to the railroad tracks. After losing some of its founding members, the Lovelady Garden Club changed its name to the Lovelady Civic Club and shifted its focus to finding ways to promote the community and draw more visitors to the area. Thus the creation of the Lovefest.

The festival features the crowing of the Lovefest Queen along with several days of carnival-style rides, games, and vendor and food booths designed to entertain the entire family. The Lovelady Lovefest is held annually in February.
The City of Lovelady invites you to help them celebrate at the reception held on August 12, at the Lovelady City Hall, from 2-5 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and visitors will have the opportunity to view historical photos and documents.

The city is also looking for the history of Lovelady’s founding families to display at the reception. If you have any photos or documents you would like to loan for the event, please contact Debbie Wells at the Lovelady City Office 936-636-7313.

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Workforce Solutions connects education, business

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072822 workforce solutionsTessa Easley, CTE teacher at Latexo ISD, participated in the Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Teacher Externship program offered by Vulcraft Texas in Grapeland.

Special to the Courier

The second annual Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Teacher Externship was held June 13-17, 2022, to highlight the skills necessary for success and the career opportunities across the 12 counties of Deep East Texas. Twenty-five businesses and 27 teachers from 11 Independent School Districts collaborated to better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.

The focus was on high-demand occupations in Deep East Texas industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, professional and technical services and information technology.

“Currently there is a shortage of workers, and a skills gap has been identified by our region’s employers,” said Mark Durand, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas. “The Teacher Externship was developed based on employer feedback to better connect the qualifications of students entering the workforce with the expectations of the workplace.”

The 27 career and technical education teachers were matched with 25 businesses for a week of learning, observing and job-shadowing. The teachers gained industry strategies for the classroom to help them inform, educate, guide and connect students to high demand occupations that match their skill sets.

The project is funded 100% with federal funds through a $58,112 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.
State Representative Trent Ashby said, “This is really a model that should be replicated across the state of Texas. This is a true win-win when you can bring educators and employers from the private sector into a week-long environment where they are collaborating, working together and sharing information.

On the education side, for our teachers to be the best they can be in the classroom, they need to know what the expectations of the employers in their communities are. On the employer side, it’s very helpful for them to be able to provide that input to these educators about the type of skills needed in the workforce and to continue to align education with workforce.”

Ashby attended the debriefing session at the end of the week. He noted, “It’s very relevant to both parties that are involved. This is such an exciting program and I’m really delighted to see the legislature provide the funding to allow this type of collaboration and partnership to continue.”

Among the immediate positive outcomes from the experiences were: skill-specific lessons for the classroom, internships, job opportunities, mock interviews, employers speaking at schools, and student tours during the upcoming school year. Teachers also heard employers talk about the need for soft skills such as reliability, accountability, communication, empathy, attendance, professional behavior, listening, decision-making, productivity, and problem-solving. Soft skills, the key to workplace success, were also referred to as employability skills, work-readiness skills and job-readiness skills.

“As a result, the teachers have a better understanding of the high demand industries and the types of technical and soft skills needed for success in the Deep East Texas economy. The employers and local schools have strengthened their relationships,” said Mr. Durand. “On behalf of the local workforce development board, I want to express our appreciation to the employers who spent considerable time and resources to plan meaningful experiences for the teachers. We are equally grateful to the teachers who embraced the learning opportunity and devoted a week of their summer to the program.”

Participating Business Partners

Axley & Rode
Burns Forestry
Crockett Florist and Gifts
Crockett Medical Center
Crockett Veterinary Hospital
Lee Trans
Lincoln Lumber
Lockheed Martin
Louisiana Pacific Jasper OSB
Lufkin Gears
Marshall’s Tax and Business
McWilliams & Son
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Sabine County Hospital
Spirit Outfitters
St. Luke’s Health Memorial
STI Group
Third Day Farm and Ranch
Timberidge Nursing and Rehab
Vulcraft Texas
Woodland Heights Medical Center

Participating School Districts and Teachers
Corrigan-Camden ISD – Tammy Farr, Phyllis Ortiz, Rayford Sweats
Crockett ISD – Chris Wilder, Rhett Wilson
Diboll ISD – Melinda Brasuell, Melissa Kaemmerling, Brenda Palomino, Clint Walker
Grapeland ISD – Shellee Goolsby
Huntington ISD – Michael Lantz
Jasper ISD – Allen Hadnot, Jimell Powell, Rachel Vickers
Latexo ISD – Tessa Easley, Larry Langford, Heather Mooneyham, Krystal Patterson
Lufkin ISD – Jennifer Free, Sonja Stephens
Nacogdoches ISD – Mary Sharp, Travis Squyres
Newton ISD – Andy Kibodeaux, Daniel Odom, Susie Osment, Sarah Trammell
West Sabine ISD – Tommy Jenkins

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