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  • Broadband project sees some funding

    3 NEWS Broadband GraphicGraphic courtesy of Pixabay

    By Chris Edwards

    LUFKIN – A project that has been three years in the making for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) moved from the planning stages into one signaled by a green light.

    Broadband funding for the 12-county East Texas region that DETCOG services has been high on the council’s list of priorities since 2018, and last Thursday, a chunk of a $32 million round of General Land Office funding for various projects will be allocated toward a broadband project in northern Newton County.

    “We are thrilled to learn that our grant application to construct a rural broadband network in northern Newton County has been approved,” Lonnie Hunt, DETCOG’s Executive Director, said.

    He called the Newton project’s funding award “a significant step toward realizing our ultimate goal of ensuring every home and business in Deep East Texas has reliable and affordable broadband.”

    The project claims $9,008,688 of the overall pie, and Hunt said that DETCOG is awaiting word on another larger grant application, which if approved, would enable the agency to construct a rural broadband network in all 12 member counties.

    “It’s very, very doable,” he said last week on a conference call before the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce Stakeholders and added that the larger grant application may take a couple of months.

    Hunt described the project as intimidating, even scary, when DETCOG first began the initiative in early 2018, but now it is a must. “It must be done here in Deep East Texas,” he said.

    All of the DETCOG member counties signed resolutions in support of the initiative. The Newton County-specific request came from funding after flooding in 2016. The other grant DETCOG is awaiting an answer on is from the GLO’s Hurricane Harvey recovery funds.

    Hunt acknowledged the state legislature, which has placed priority on broadband access throughout the region.

    Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) filed identical bills in the Senate and House (SB 506 and HB 1446) to address the issue by forming a state broadband office, creating a comprehensive statewide plan and identifying which areas have the greatest need.

    Hunt said that broadband access is a big project, which will take time to complete. With the Newton project, he said a contract will have to be put in place with the GLO, and then there is additional engineering work and environmental assessments before any construction can begin.

    “We will move as quickly as we can but will also take the time to make sure this project is done right. Since we began the DETCOG broadband initiative three years ago, we have sought out the best experts available to make sure we have a solid plan that will be successful. We already have our engineering and grants management teams in place and ready to start once we have a contract in place,” he said.

  • Brookshire Brothers pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccine

    BrookshiresFILE PHOTO Brookshire Brothers logo

    Special to the News-Standard

    LUFKIN — As distribution of the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine begins at a rapid pace, Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy is proud to be one of the first retailers in the nation to offer the vaccine, as it becomes available.

    To maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a governmental partnership with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains — including those in retail and grocery chains — to further increase access to the vaccine across the country — particularly in traditionally underserved areas.

    Brookshire Brothers is honored to partner with HHS and the states of Texas and Louisiana in offering COVID-19 vaccine.

    The vaccine will be available in a phased approach, with the first doses being offered to healthcare workers and residents of long-term health care facilities, followed by essential workers and other high-risk individuals. It is expected to be available to the general public by spring or early summer of 2021 and will be administered at no cost to patients.

    At the Tuesday, Dec. 22, Trinity County Commissioners’ Court meeting, Emergency Management Coordinator Richard Steptoe said that the Brookshire’s in Trinity has secured 40 vaccinations, and the Brookshire’s in Groveton has secured 10.

    “Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”

    Many pharmacists, such as the ones who work at Brookshire Brothers, are trained to provide immunizations and are already important immunizers in their communities. Pharmacists have been heralded for playing a vital role in the public health response to COVID-19 by counseling patients and expanding access to childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. By working with these partners, the federal government will rapidly expand access to COVID-19 vaccines.

    “This is consistent with our commitment to being a trusted resource for our communities. Pharmacists and their staff are some of the most accessible healthcare professionals in the nation, and we stand ready to help increase access and convenience for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is approved and available to us,” said Laura Edmundson, Director of Clinical Pharmacy Programs at Brookshire Brothers.

    For more information, visit BrookshireBrothers.com/pharmacy.

  • Hornets take 2nd, qualify for region meet

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Goodrich athlete Aralyn Angel finishes third in the District 28-A Meet last week in Lufkin. Angel will compete in the Region IV-A Meet Monday in Corpus Christi.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LUFKIN — Frigid, rainy conditions were not enough to slow down Goodrich senior Joaxci Garzon, who won the boys race at the District 28-A cross country meet in Lufkin.

    Garzon and teammate A’Maereion Bookman finished 1-2, respectively, in the meet. Garzon finished with a time of 17 minutes, 50 seconds, while Bookman had a time of 18:33.

    “It’s been a few years since I’ve run in weather this cold,” Garzon said. “I think I could’ve run better. I have to keep working, keep running and try to improve.”

    Garzon was the individual district champion last year as well. In addition to him and Bookman, the rest of the Goodrich team will participate in Monday’s Region IV-A Meet in Corpus Christi.

    The Hornets took second with 47 points and edged Chester (50) for the runner-up spot, while Zavalla scored 30 points to win the team title. The top two teams and top 10 individuals qualified for the region meet.

    Rounding out the Goodrich roster was Exzavier Henderson, Tilde Guzman, Jose Reyes and Marcos Machuca. At the region meet, the top three teams and top 10 individuals not attached to a qualifying team will earn berths at the Class A state meet Nov. 23 in Round Rock.

    “We’ve been working out as much as we can,” Garzon said. “We just have to keep running to make ourselves better.”

    In the girls race, Goodrich finished third and missed out on team qualification. Zavalla and Chireno finished 1-2, respectively.

    However, a pair of Lady Hornets will compete in Corpus Christi on Monday. They are Aralyn Angel and Daisy Stutts, who finished third and seventh, respectively.

  • The Great American Smokeout

    SmokeoutFILE PHOTO national great american smokeout logo

    PCE STAFF

    LUFKIN - Did you know that tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States?

    Each year, smoking accounts for 443,000 premature deaths and according to the American Cancer Society thousands of non-smokers die as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

    Nov. 19 is the Great American Smokeout and there is no better time than now to quit the use of any tobacco product.

    Beyond the health hazards of smoking to consider, there is also the financial cost to think about. In 2009, the Federal Tobacco Tax Increase added an additional 62 cents to the price of each pack of cigarettes.

    According to The Coalition for Tobacco Free Kids, a pack-a-day smoker spends around $2,000 a year on cigarettes. With the rising cost of tobacco and the current economy, this would be the perfect time to finally quit for good.

    Beyond the extra savings on cigarettes, quitting smoking could also save you on the cost of extra medical expenses, doctor visits, medications, and other health issues associated with the use of tobacco and secondhand smoke.

    It takes the average person multiple attempts to quit for good, but you can beat the odds with help and support. Smokers who have support are more successful at quitting smoking than those who go it alone.

    You can call the American Cancer Society Quitline at 1-800-227-2345 to receive information and support.

    The Coalition of Angelina, Polk, and San Augustine counties offers free virtual cessation support.

    For more information, go to www.project-quit.org. You can also contact the Region 5 Prevention Resource Center for information on cessation support by calling 1-844-772-3483. Join the millions who will make Thursday, Nov. 19 a tobacco-free day.