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  • Aircraft safe, after all (UPDATE)

    Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)

    From the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office

    On March 3, 2021, at approximately 2 PM, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a military plane flying low to the ground, with smoke coming from the engine.

    The citing was reported near the Tyler and Polk County line. First responders concentrated search efforts around and near FM 1943, West of Warren, to Highway 190 West of Woodville, into Polk County.

    The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers and Air units, Texas Game Wardens, Texas Forest Service, Warren Fire Department, Tyler County Emergency Management Office, Alabama Coushatta Fire Department and Air and Ground Medical units from Southeast Texas participated in the search.

    Approximately 2 hours later, responders received information that the aircraft had made a safe landing at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

    Weatherford said, “Thank you to all our Southeast Texas Federal, State, and local first responders. To protect and serve is truly a team effort.”

  • 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

     

  • Ivanhoe awarded $11.4m

    Cathy Bennett lakeCHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett stands in front of the remnants of Lake Ivanhoe. Its dam was severely damaged during Hurricane Harvey.

    Funds will go toward flood mitigation projects

    By Chris Edwards

    IVANHOE – For a city that has seen its fair share of progress in its short life as an incorporated city, last Friday was a red-letter day for Ivanhoe.

    On that date, Ivanhoe’s mayor Cathy Bennett, along with the state’s land commissioner George P. Bush and state Senator Robert Nichols announced that the state’s General Land Office (GLO) approved a funding amount of more than $11.4 million to go to the city toward flood mitigation projects, which will improve the city’s drainage infrastructure.

    Bennett said when she received the good news, she was “extremely elated.” The money will go toward several projects in the city that, with its budget, could have not accomplished, she said.

    Multiple flooding events, going back to 2015, and the Hurricane Harvey disaster in 2017, have damaged parts of Ivanhoe’s dams, and in the case of the Lake Ivanhoe Dam, breeched it, and caused severe erosion on the face of the dam. Lake Ivanhoe was reduced from a 22-acre lake to a body of water the size of a pond. That dam will be reconstructed, along with the Camelot Dam.

    Along the Tristan Dam, the road level will be raised to match the level of the dam. Recent storms have exceeded the lake’s capacity of its emergency spillway. This has presented a hazard to first responders, as well as the public, travelling along Lakewood Drive during and after storm events.

    These projects are a few of the major infrastructure works to be undertaken with the funding within the city.

    According to a news release from the GLO, the scope of the work to Ivanhoe’s infrastructure will, in the long term, increase the city’s resilience to any future disasters and reduce the long-term risk of loss of life and damage to property.

    “Since 2015, 140 Texas counties have received a Presidential disaster declaration,” said Bush. “The need is extensive, and this first round of mitigation funding is geared directly at helping communities that are majority low-to-moderate income and lack the resources to fund their own mitigation projects. The GLO is proud to help communities across Texas increase public safety, prevent property loss and minimize hardship on residents,” he added.

    The grant carries a 1% match, which Bennett said the city still has money in its bond fund to cover. There are many in the community asking questions on social media about the coming windfall and the timetable of the work it will cover, and to that end, Bennett has scheduled a town hall meeting at the Ivanhoe City Hall for Saturday, June 5 beginning at 10 a.m. She said the meeting will address the myriad of questions that residents, as well as city officials, may have, including the timetable of the project and how the funding is awarded.

    Bennett has invited the engineer working on the project, the city’s grant administrator and also the GLO grant manager to participate. The town hall meeting will be livestreamed on the official City of Ivanhoe Facebook page and YouTube site. For anyone who might have questions to bring up at the event, but cannot attend, Bennett is encouraging them to email her at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with their name, address and question. Bennett invited the citizens to read the grant application, which the city has posted to its website, in full, at https://cityofivanhoe.texas.gov.

    Ivanhoe’s grant award is part of more than $2.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) earmarked to protect Texas communities affected by Harvey and other severe floods going back to 2015.

    Nichols made a statement last week in support of the grant funding, and noted that within Senate District 3, more than $105 million of the overall funding was awarded. Neighboring Jasper County was approved for $29.4 million, which will go toward projects in the cities of Jasper and Kirbyville.

    “This grant money will be key in protecting infrastructure that we have, and it is also going to be helpful in our economic future,” Bennett said.

    One bittersweet note occurred as the city’s grant award was announced on Friday. Jack Brockhouse, who served as the mayor of Ivanhoe for a term before Bennett was elected in 2014, died. Brockhouse lived on Lake Ivanhoe and had hoped to see it return one day, Bennett said.

  • Judge Blanchette fights COVID

    Blanchette 2CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File photo - Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette swearing in Warren ISD board members in November, 2020.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette found himself among the 13 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus this year.

    Blanchette received a positive result from a COVID-19 test administered on Friday, Nov. 28. He said he had begun feeling ill the day before Thanksgiving, and by Friday was very sick. He is currently staying confined at home. His wife, Leeza, had also fallen ill with the virus and is recuperating.

    An update from the Tyler County Emergency Management Facebook page noted Blanchette’s announcement and that he appreciates the prayers and support from the public in his recovery.

    As the pandemic has experienced a nationwide surge in the past month, the likelihood of infection has increased, and anyone is fair game for the virus.

    Several other elected officials in the area have tested positive for the coronavirus. According to a recent story from KJAS out of Jasper, the Jasper ISD School Board President Mark Durand and the county’s Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Raymond Hopson were both diagnosed with the virus last week.

    Hopson was elected to fill the seat held by Judge Jimmy Miller who died from coronavirus complications during the summer.

    In Tyler County, the total number of confirmed cases has surpassed 300, and at press time is at 320. This number represents the total number of positive cases in the county since reporting began in late March with the first confirmed case.

    Two recent deaths were also reported as COVID-related. Last week, Ruby Moore, of Warren, died from complications, and the week prior, Ethel McGough’s passing was linked to the virus.

    Those two deaths brings the COVID death count to nine in the county.

    In other COVID news, the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe recently addressed the methodology for reporting the county’s number of cases and added reportage for the number of quick tests administered. Jobe said those cases are not listed by public health as active, but they are tracked, investigated and logged in the system as “probables.”

    In addressing questions about the seeming lapse in reporting cases, Jobe said “The public health numbers and my numbers don’t always match,” which he attributed to a timing issue.

    Additionally, the numbers from public health sources use the test date as the starting date for active cases, and then county 10 days and remove from active if they do not receive the result, Jobe said. Those cases are posted to the recovered category. “Several counties where we have residents go test are slow to get results to our public health group,” he said.

  • Office of Emergency Management urging vaccinations

    virus logoFILE PHOTO - Coronavirus

    By PCNS Staff

    President Joe Biden set a goal Tuesday for 70% of the country’s adult population to receive at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot by July 4.

    Polk County is well on track for that mark when considering those who are 65 years of age and older. Of that age group, 67.80% in Polk County have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 57.63% have been fully vaccinated.

    The totals aren’t as impressive amongst younger adults.

    According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 14,540 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 10,612 people in Polk County have been fully vaccinated. There have been 24,102 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the county.

    The Polk County Office of Emergency Management has a total case count of 3,282 locally, with 1,493 of those confirmed positive, 1,789 probable and 136 cases that are active.

    They are still encouraging residents in Polk County to get vaccinated and remind all that COVID-19 is a vaccine-preventable disease.

    The virus and its impact are not diminishing. According to the health district, numbers in COVID-19 cases and COVID hospitalizations each day have slightly increased. There have been 112 fatalities and an estimated 3,034 recoveries.

    A pause was placed on the administration of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine April 13, but lifted April 23. The Texas Department of State Health Services recommends vaccine providers in Texas resume administering the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine following the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    The pause was recommended after reports of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. During the pause, medical and scientific teams at the FDA and CDC examined available data to assess the risk of thrombosis involving the cerebral venous sinuses, or CVST (large blood vessels in the brain), and other sites in the body (including but not limited to the large blood vessels of the abdomen and the veins of the legs) along with thrombocytopenia, or low blood platelet counts.

    The teams at FDA and CDC also conducted extensive outreach to providers and clinicians to ensure they were made aware of the potential for these adverse events and could properly manage and recognize these events due to the unique treatment required for these blood clots and low platelets, also known as thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

    The two agencies have determined the following:

    · Use of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine should be resumed in the United States.

    · The FDA and CDC have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.

    · The FDA has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.

    · At this time, the available data suggest that the chance of TTS occurring is very low, but the FDA and CDC will remain vigilant in continuing to investigate this risk.

    VACCINE INFORMATION (POLK):

    PROVIDERS:

    Brookshire Brothers Pharmacies:

    936-327-4354 in Livingston, 936-398-9227 in Corrigan, 936-646-2488 in Onalaska

     

    CVS:

    936-327-2561

    Address: 1500 W. Church St., Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Phizer

    Vaccine Days: 7 days a week

    Administration Fee: No Charge Appointments: Online at https://www.cvs.com/content/coronavirus

     

    Wal-Mart Pharmacy:

    936-327-1294

    Address: 1620 W. Church St., Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Check availability online

    Vaccination Days: Check availability online

    Administration Fee: No charge Appointment Scheduling Information: https://corporate.walmart.com/covid-vaccine To Schedule an Appointment: Online at https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302

     

    Walgreens:

    936-327-1086

    Address: 1501 W. Church St., Ste. 500, Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Pfizer

    Vaccine Days: Daily While Supplies Last (check availability online)

    Administration Fee: No Charge Appointments: Online at https://www.walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19/location-screening

     

    Health Center of Southeast Texas:

    936-327-4660

    Address: 204 West Park Drive #200, Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Call to check availability

    Appointments: Call 936-327-4660

     

    West Park Primary Care:

    936-328-5820

    Address: 210 West Park Drive, Ste. 104, Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Call to check availability

    Appointments: Call 936-328-5820

     

    Livingston (HealthMart) Pharmacy:

    936-327-5510

    Address: 714 W. Church St., Livingston, TX 77351

    Vaccine: Call to check availability

    Vaccine Days: Daily While Supplies Last (check availability online)

    Administration Fee: No Charge

    Appointments: Call 936-327-5510

     

    Polk County Emergency Management:

    Clinic Location Address: Given upon Appointment

    Vaccine: Moderna

    Vaccination Days: Fridays

    Administration Fee: No Charge Appointments: Online at http://www.etxcovidvaccine.com

     

    Angelina County & Cities Health District:

    Sign up at: www.etxcovidvaccine.com. Those without internet access, can call the Coronavirus hotline at 936-630-8500 to register for a vaccine.

  • Report on plane ‘a true mistake’

    U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft fly in formation during Cope North 21 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021. Cope North is an annual multinational exercise designed to increase capabilities and improve interoperability among partner nations, and this year’s exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, large force employment and combat air forces training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)U.S. Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft fly in formation during Cope North 21 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 9, 2021. Cope North is an annual multinational exercise designed to increase capabilities and improve interoperability among partner nations, and this year’s exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, large force employment and combat air forces training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY – A report from a concerned resident about an aircraft in distress led to a large-scale search effort that ultimately ended with good news.

    At approximately 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a military plane flying low to the ground, with smoke coming from an engine, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. The report came from a resident living on FM 1450, who reported what appeared to be a plane in distress, as well as smoke coming off of the ground. The sighting was reported near the county lines of Tyler and Polk.

    According to Weatherford, the first responders concentrated their search efforts around and near FM 1943 west of Warren, to US 190 west of Woodville, into Polk County. Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe said there were two AMBUS units staged in the two counties: one in Warren and one in Midway on 190.

    The search lasted for two hours, after the responders received information that the aircraft had made a safe landing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish, La. Jobe said the report that launched the massive search was “a true mistake,” that the person who made the report saw the smoke on the ground, which was likely from a controlled burn that was taking place on the A-C reservation, and with the smoke coming from the plane, along with the fact that it was flying low, put the elements together and feared the worst.

    Jobe added there were probably a total of 12 or 15 ambulances involved, as well as three fire departments. “We had a whole lot of medical care response in about an hour,” Jobe said.

    Polk County OEM Coordinator Courtney Comstock and Alabama-Coushatta Tribal OEM Coordinator Willo Sylestine were also part of the efforts, Jobe said.

    Along with TCSO, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Game Wardens and Forestry Service also participated.

    Jobe said that although the search was the product of “a legitimate error” from a concerned resident in the area, emergency personnel will likely treat the experience as a training exercise.

    There will be an after-action review on Wednesday, Jobe said, which will be done cumulatively with the Emergency Management offices that were involved.

  • Sales Tax Holiday for Emergency Supplies, April 24-26

    bre02FILE PHOTO Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar Releasing Biennial Estimate on Jan. 7, 2019

    From the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

    AUSTIN - Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar reminds Texans they can purchase certain items tax-free during the state’s sales tax holiday for emergency preparation supplies, which begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, and ends at midnight on Monday, April 26.

    There’s no limit on the number of qualifying items you can purchase. These include:

    • household batteries, fuel containers and flashlights priced at less than $75;
    • hurricane shutters and emergency ladders priced at less than $300; and
    • portable generators priced at less than $3,000.

    For purchases made online, note that delivery, shipping, handling and transportation charges are part of the sales price. If the emergency preparation supply being purchased is taxable, the delivery charge is also taxable. Consider these charges when determining whether an emergency preparation supply can be purchased tax-free during the holiday.

    For example, if you purchase a rescue ladder for $299 with a $10 delivery charge, the total sales price is $309. Because the total sales price of the ladder is more than $300, tax is due on the $309 sales price.

    Several over-the-counter self-care items, such as antibacterial hand sanitizer, soap, spray and wipes, are always exempt from sales tax if they are labeled with a “Drug Facts” panel in accordance with federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.

    Purchases that do not qualify include:

    • batteries for automobiles, boats and other motorized vehicles;
    • camping stoves and camping supplies;
    • chainsaws;
    • plywood;
    • extension ladders and stepladders; and
    • tents.

    A list of emergency preparation supplies that may be purchased tax-free can be found on the Comptroller’s website.

  • Winter Storm Warning in Polk County

    Polk County OEM PSA COVID 19 Vaccine Temporary WaitlistPolk County OEM

    From the Polk County Office of Emergency Management

    The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston (NWS) issued a Winter Storm Warning, which is in effect from 9 p.m. Saturday through 6 p.m. Monday for Polk County.

    Periods of freezing rain or drizzle are expected, especially tonight and Sunday, creating icy conditions. A period of moderate snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected Sunday night and Monday followed by bitterly cold conditions Monday night and Tuesday.

    Snow, ice and cold will likely pose a threat to life and property with hazardous road conditions, burst pipes and water mains, damage to infrastructure, and power outages. Temperatures are expected to drop to 26 degrees Sunday morning, 19 degrees Monday morning, and 8 degrees Tuesday morning.

    NWS is forecasting 1-2 inches of snowfall for most of Polk County, with .10 to .25 inches of ice accumulation through Tuesday morning. A decision on closing County offices will be made late Monday afternoon.

    Check your school district's websites and social media pages for school closure and virtual learning updates. Now is the time to insulate pipes, and make plans to shelter in place Sunday night through Tuesday if possible.

    Remember to protect, pets, plants, and pipes. There is a risk of hypothermia for anyone outside who is not dressed properly.

    Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Insulate pipes to keep them from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.

    Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.

    Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights and keep electronic devices charged.

    Create an emergency supply kit that includes a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable food and snacks. Avoid travel if you can. To check highway conditions, log onto www.DriveTexas.org.

    TXDOT began pre-treating highways yesterday and will continue to monitor and treat TXDOT roads as needed throughout the winter weather event.

    Another winter storm is possible on Wednesday although it could bring more rain for southern areas, and an ice threat, especially in northern areas of Southeast Texas. There is uncertainty still with that storm.