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  • Leggett Water Supply rescinds one notice, places another

                                   The area of the map highlighted in blue is where the boil water notice is for residents along Old Highway 35 in between Leggett and Seven Oaks.

    By Jason Chlapek

    POLK COUNTY - The Leggett Water Supply Company rescinded a nearly-week long boil water notice for residents in the Pratt subdivision and some along Marston Road in Livingston. However, some residences along Old Highway 35 in between Leggett and Seven Oaks had a boil water notice put in place for several residences in the area. The boil notice forresidences on Old Highway 35 was put into place Wednesday — the same day that the Pratt subdivision and Marston Road notice was rescinded. Both boil notices were put into place because of breaks in the respective service lines. Just like last week’s line break, the Wednesday line break was repaired quickly and a sample of the water was sent to Eastex Environmental Laboratory Inc. to get tested for bacteria.

     

  • Local attorney enjoying time back in school

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Joe Roth presents a Zoom discussion from his online WWII Studies class during a recent Rotary Club meeting. Roth is in graduate school at Arizona State, and takes his courses online.

    By Jason Chlapek

    College has changed quite a bit since Joe Roth graduated from Baylor in 1973.

    The Livingston attorney returned to school last fall as a graduate student at Arizona State, albeit to a different setup — a virtual one. Roth filled his fellow Rotarians in on one of his fall semester courses by showing them 20 minutes of a Zoom discussion during a recent Rotary Club of Livingston meeting.

    “So far so good,” Roth said. “Arizona State is very well known for its technology and innovation. They have some really good professors and the lectures are good. We write papers that are discussion boards and the professor will prose a prompt. We are required to not only respond to his prompt, but at least two other students’ prompts. It’s been a great experience.”

    Roth is working on his master’s degree in World War II studies. He’s currently on his third course — Decision Points II.

    “I call this class, ‘D-Day and A-Bomb,’” Roth quipped. “One decision we will study will be the Allied decision to invade the continent of Europe in 1944 and all of the factors that went into that decision. We’re just getting started on that. The other decision will be the decision to drop nuclear weapons on Japan.”

    Roth said he received a solid “B” in his first course, which was a survey course of WWII. In his second course — Decision Points I — he received an A.

    “It was difficult after all these years getting back in a classroom setting again and taking tests with a timer over your head,” Roth said of his first course. “In Decision Points I, the decision that we studied were the decision of the Germans to invade the Soviet Union and what was Hitler thinking. The goal was to try and get into Hitler’s mind instead of writing a paper saying, ‘He’s a mad man. He’s crazy.’ We had to get in his mind and figure out what he was thinking in terms of logic and necessity. The second part of of Decision Point I was the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbor. Once again, it was what were they (the Japanese) thinking. We could not write a paper saying, ‘They’re crazy.’ We had to get inside their minds and see what elements of logic and necessity existed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

  • (UPDATE) 4 shot, 1 dead in residence shooting

    Jared HopeCOURTESY PHOTO Jared William Hope

     2 suspects on the run, 1 in custody

    From Staff Reports

    LIVINGSTON — One man is dead after a shooting that took place at a residence on the 200 block of Maple Lane in Livingston Wednesday evening.

    Ashton Allen Smith, 22, was found deceased after he received multiple gunshot wounds. Three other people were shot at the residence as well.

    At approximately 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Livingston Police Department responded to the residence, located at 201 Maple Lane, after receiving two 911 calls in regard to gunshots fired inside the residence and several occupants of the residence had been struck. The officers arrived on scene and found multiple gunshot victims and one white male laying on the floor of the residence.

    Shooting 2JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Livingston Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers investigate a shooting that took place at a residence on the 200 block of Maple Lane Wednesday night in Livingston. Four people were shot and one died from gunshot wounds.

    After securing the scene, EMS was summoned to the scene to treat the wounded, which included a 3-year-old female. During the investigation, witnesses were able to positively identify two of the alleged three suspects who all fled the scene after making forcible entry into the residence.

    The suspects have been identified as Cole Byron Tucker, 20, and Jared William Hope, 22, both from Livingston. The third suspect has not yet been identified.

    According to witnesses, Tucker began firing his weapon upon making forcible entry into the residence and a male inside returned fire with his weapon. The investigation continued and the male inside the residence was later identified as Smith, who was deceased at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.

    The other occupants inside the residence were identified as Jimmy Douglas, Vickie Douglas and Erin Pasket. All the victims except for Jimmy Douglas sustained gunshot wounds and are being treated for their injuries, including the child.

    The LPD is continuing with the investigation and arrest warrants have been issued for Tucker and Hope for the felony offense of Murder. The LPD has received several tips in regard to the locations of the alleged suspects and Tucker was arrested in Houston.

    Tucker went to Memorial Hermann in downtown Houston to be treated for gunshot wounds. He was arrested at 12:20 a.m. Thursday by an LPD detective and a Texas Ranger.

    Hope was taken into custody by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The investigation is continuing by the LPD and are being assisted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers.

    Anyone with information on this crime and the whereabouts of Jared William Hope, you are asked to contact Detective Leon Middleton at the Livingston Police Department 936-327-3117 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867). Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to an arrest or grand jury indictment of a felony offender.

  • (UPDATE) Polk County Jailer reportedly terminated

    logoDPS LOGO

    From Staff Reports

    A Polk County jailer who was put on leave two weeks ago after a complaint of excessive use of force was filed has been terminated, per sources.

    On Feb. 22, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of a Lieutenant at the Polk County Jail allegedly using excessive force on an inmate in the jail. PCSO administration notified the Texas Rangers and requested the Rangers’ assistance in conducting the investigation.

    The jailer was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Between the PCSO and Polk County Jail, there are currently 14 job openings listed on the Polk County Texas website.

  • 2020-21 Hunting Season

    Scott Vaughn and grandsonCOURTESY PHOTO Scott Vaughn and grandson posing with a hog shot in Northern Tyler County October 30, 2020.

    By Caleb Fortenberry

    Covid-19 has had people recreating more this past year than in the last several years and with White-tailed deer muzzleloader season being over, there have been plenty of eager East Texan sportsmen wanting to show off a few bagged game animals.

    For years, newspapers have been publishing sportsmen and their game. Here recently, showcasing has been less than normal. Maybe it’s time to start showing off those game that hunters haven’t been able to brag on for some time.

    Here’s a list of a few of the harvests from East Texas, or people from the area:

    Tyler County

    1. Tina Barnes

    Tina BarnesTina Barnes - 9 point, with crossbow in Chester, TX on October 24, 2020.

    2. Dusty Sturrock

    Dusty SturrockDusty Sturrock - 9 point in Chester, TX on November 15th, 2020

    3. KimSturrock

    Kim SturrockKim Sturrock – 8 point in Chester, TX on November 8th, 2020

    4. Mark Keller

    Mark KellerMark Keller - 9 point 14.5”, spread in Colmesneil, Tx on November 27, 2020

    5. Buck Odom

    Buck Odom 2Buck Odom – Hog shot between Woodville and Chester on December 17, 2020.

    6. Nathan Vaughn

    Nathan VaughnNathan Vaughn - 8 point buck at the Diamond T Ranch in Warren, Texas on January 3, 2021.

    7. Scott Vaughn

    Scott VaughnScott Vaughn - 10 point buck in Northern Tyler County November 8, 2020.

    Polk County 

    8. Ashton Davis

    Ashton DavisAshton Davis - Doe, harvested in Texas hunters club in Soda, TX.

    9. Paul Oliver

    Paul OliverPaul Oliver - 10 Point with a 19 Inch Spread at the Texas Hunter Club in Soda, TX.

    Houston County 

     10. Hunter Burris

    Hunter BurrisHunter Burris, 9 years old from Danbury, TX holding his first deer, 7-point, on January 2, 2021 in Crockett, TX.

  • 3 bodies found in Escapees Park

    The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers Company A and ATF are investigating the deaths. (Jason Chlapek Photo)The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers Company A and ATF are investigating the deaths. (Jason Chlapek Photo)

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    LIVINGSTON — Three people are dead after their bodies were discovered over the weekend.

    The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office was requested to conduct a welfare concern on the parents of the caller, because she had not been able to make contact with them for two days.

    A deputy arrived on scene and soon after requested assistance at that location. After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, investigators from the PCSO along with Texas Rangers from Company-A, re-entered the residence and began the investigation into the deaths of the Nuncios family.

    Upon entry, Investigators observed items in the residence and an adjacent building that caused concerns of possible explosive devices at that location. Agents from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms) were requested to assist with the investigation to identify items found at the scene.

    Unable to identify, agents detonated the object with a small explosive charge. After both structures were deemed safe to re-enter, investigators continued their investigation and discovered who they believed to be Michael Nuncios, his wife Debra Nuncios and their adult son Anthony Nuncios.

    After talking with the daughter and neighbors, it is believed the bodies had been there since Thursday. An inquest was conducted by Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Robert Johnson, who ordered the bodies transported to the Harris County Forensics Lab.

    The PCSO will be looking for confirmation of the findings from the medical examiner’s office on cause of death, how long the bodies have been deceased, and confirmation of the identities.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said via press release it is not looking for suspects in connection with the deaths nor are there hazards to the community surrounding these deaths.

    Those with information concerning the deaths are asked to contact Captain Rickie Childers of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810.

  • 70 years and counting

    041521 anniversary 1COURTESY PHOTO Benjamin Malrey Pyle and Mary Ellen Hartman

    Couple celebrates ‘Platinum Jubilee’

    Special to the News-Standard

    GROVETON — The key to a happy marriage is to love and cherish each other completely and always be respectful of each other's differences, something Ben and Mary Pyle took to heart and nurtured — 70 years ago.

    Benjamin Malrey Pyle and Mary Ellen Hartman tied the knot after knowing each other for about seven weeks on March 23, 1951, and have been side-by-side since.

    This was in spite of naysayers; Ellen's mother was skeptical about their marriage and said, "it will never last.” The couple smiled, knowing their love would survive any of life's storms.

    Benjamin and Mary met in the home of a friend, Bettyy Scott Tripp, when Ben was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps stationed at Cherry Point, N.C.; Ellen lived at home in Alliance, N.C. with her mother and stepfather, Fairy and Nathan Miller, and worked as a stenographer.

    Ben escorted her home that evening, and they arranged for a date on the following weekend. The rest is history.

    Ellen's uncle, Saint Elmo Harper, A Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in his home in Grantsboro, N.C., and at her request, sang "Amazing Grace" in his beautiful tenor voice. His wife, Aunt Nancy, accompanied him in her sweet voice.

    Ben's best friend, Jack Wroten, a fellow Marine from Tyler, served as best man, and Ellen's friend Betty, served as matron of honor.

    The newlyweds honeymooned in historic Richmond, Va., where Ellen had lived until the age of 12.

    The Pyles have two wonderful sons, their lovely wives and one lovely granddaughter.

    The family members are Malrey Nathan Pyle, his wife, Jan, and their daughter, Madison, and Dwight Dana Pyle and his wife, Sharon.

  • A NEW TRADITION?

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Onalaska seniors Chase Fletcher and Olivia Scott were crowned Onalaska Junior-Senior High Schools’ homecoming king and queen, respectively, during a coronation ceremony Thursday night.

    Onalaska celebrates homecoming with separate ceremony 

     
    By Jason Chlapek

    ONALASKA – Onalaska’s 2020-21 homecoming coronation seemed to be missing one small detail Thursday night.

    The king and queen were crowned, the freshman, sophomore and junior classes each had representatives, and it took place in the Onalaska gymnasium. What was missing was a basketball game.

    Because of Covid-19, District 23-3A – Onalaska’s district for basketball – decided to have split sites for its games where the boys teams play a district opponent at one location and the girls teams play at the other. This caused Onalaska administrators to make an unusual decision.

    “There was not a night where the boys and girls played in the same gym where we could have the ceremony,” Onalaska Junior-Senior High School principal Robyn Thornton said. “So, we made the decision to have it on a night when we didn’t have any games. This way students and parents could attend.”

    In the past, homecoming coronation took place in between the girls and boys varsity games, or at the end of the boys varsity game. Thornton explained why a change was made.

    “When I first came here, it was varsity girls game, coronation, then boys varsity game,” she said. “But we learned that neither group could get ready fast enough for coronation, so we moved it to after the games to help the kids have more time to get ready. But many people didn’t stay around so we didn’t have that much attendance.”

    Seniors Chase Fletcher and Olivia Scott were crowned the king and queen, respectively. There were four senior boys in the running for king and four senior girls in the running for queen.

    William Boyce, Alex Casner and Brady Neuman were the other king candidates, while Kierra Anstee, Avery Schamerhorn and Jordyn Shutter were the other queen candidates. Kylie Sisk was the junior class duchess and Layne Purkerson was the junior class duke; Briseis Sabino was the sophomore class baroness and Logan Eagle was the sophomore class baron; Reese Peavy was the freshman class lady and Bryan Wyatt was the freshman class lord.

    The crown bearers were Andy Strong and Taylor Treuter. Dylon Goins was the Master of Ceremonies and Shelbi Bennett was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

    “I think this could be the start of a new tradition,” Thornton said. “It was great. We had a large group and were very pleased with the number of people who came out. I think we could continue to grow something like this. I hope we’ll be back to having a school dance next year and hopefully do this on a Saturday night with a school dance to follow and an alumni reception in the library. Hopefully this will encourage more former students to come back.”

  • A place to rest their heads

    EastTexan Spring2021

    Sleep in heavenly peace commits to ending childhood bedlessness

    By Chris Edwards

    In the classic song “The Weight” by The Band, a weary traveler’s lament known to every man, woman, child and beast, the late, great Levon Helm sings of someone looking for a place “where a man might find a bed,” to no avail.

    There are many who are in search of that same, seemingly basic amenity/comfort, including children, a fact that bothered Woodville resident Brian Smith.

    “I had no idea that children without beds was an issue, a problem at all. I simply never thought about it. I have always had a bed; everyone that I knew had a bed,” he said.

    Sleep in heavenly1

    Smith and his wife Deborah saw a story on a Beaumont television station’s news broadcast that reported on that particular issue and an organization fighting to end it, and it left a deep impression upon both their hearts and minds.

    The story was about a non-profit organization named after a line in the old Christmas time hymn “Silent Night.” Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a nationwide concern, and was began by a concerned church youth group leader named Luke Mickelson.

    Mickelson first encountered the issue of children without beds in his church and got a group together to build beds for a family in need. From that humble show of service sprung the organization, which became a non-profit with chapters around the country. Mickelson was even honored by CNN in 2018 as a “Hero of the Year.”

    The Smiths added an East Texas chapter of the organization to its growing roster on September 5, 2020, which was a quest of approximately 10 months.

    The couple investigated the practical aspects of getting a SHP chapter started, namely the cost of materials and the necessary non-profit paperwork, interest was fomenting, and several members of the community became interested in helping.

    With a group together, the “core team,” they had their first building event on that day in September, when they built six twin beds to donate to families in the county who were in need.

    Sleep in heavenly4

    “There are children in Tyler County sleeping on the floor, on a couch, in a chair, or are sharing an undersized mattress on the floor with too many siblings or otherwise in a less-than-optimal sleeping environment,” Brian said.

    The word got out quickly throughout the community, and Deborah said it was “an extremely rewarding experience” to see her desire to help the community pay off.

    Although the story on the news brought the issue into living color for Brian and Deborah, seeing folks who could use a hand-up was nothing new to Brian. He said he has done mission work in some of the poorer areas of Mexico, places “where one sees true poverty,” he said, and seeing how people lived left a deep, lasting impression, which came back in spades when he and his wife saw that broadcast.

    “Here, in the United States, to realize that our little county probably has hundreds of children without beds hurts my heart,” he said.

    Sleep in heavenly2

    “As a sentimental older man, I still get choked up when I think of the joyous reactions of the children we help. The feelings of peace and security that a real bed gives them gets me up for early morning bed builds,” he said.

    SHP currently has 240 chapters across the nation, and in Bermuda, and there are hopes to break into Canada in the near future.

    Anyone can volunteer at one of SHP’s bed-build events, and they do not have to bring anything, “except a desire to help others,” Brian said. The group will supply the tools, PPE, drinks, snacks and instructions.

    The Woodville chapter of the group hopes to be able to build sturdy, functional bunk and twin beds from dimensional lumber one Saturday each month during the 8 a.m. to noon time period. The volunteer-driven assembly line process allows most anyone to contribute.

    According to the chapter’s website, located at shpbeds.org/chapter/tx-woodville, anyone who wishes to volunteer can show up to the build day event or a delivery event, and those dates are available on a calendar on the site. There is also a link on the site to allow anyone who is interested in contributing financially to the cause, or to sponsor a build day.

    According to Brian, the cost to build a twin bed is $170 and $350 for a bunk bed, and all of the materials must come from donations. Each chapter of SHP must be financially self-supporting and entirely dependent on donations, which is all carefully accounted for, from local chapters through the national headquarters.

    The estimated monthly need for the SHP Woodville chapters is $2,500 to $3,000, which is enough to provide 14 to 17 beds per month, and this is the cost for the bare materials.

    The organization also needs tools, such as saw blades, drill bits and other items, such as gloves, safety glasses and many other PPE items.

    Brian added that for anyone who needs one of the beds, there is a place on the website to request a bed, and applicants can answer a few basic questions and submit. He and Deborah can also be contacted directly, at 844-432-2337 (extension 5757) or at PO Box 143, Woodville, Texas 75979, for anyone who might be interested in donating to the cause.

  • Additional charges for Jasper jailer

    MUGSHOT Anibal VillasanaMUGSHOT Anibal Villasana

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE –  A Tyler County Grand Jury handed down two more indictments to a Woodville man who was first indicted last year, all on child rape charges.

    Anibal Maurico Villasana, 61, was booked into the Tyler County Justice Center last week on two charges of

    Sexual Assault of a Child. He was subsequently released after posting bond. Each charge carried a $100,000 bond amount.

    Villasana was indicted on two counts of Indency with a Child by Sexual Contact in December 2020. The indictments came after an investigation regarding incidents alleged to have occurred in Tyler County.

    At the time, he was working for the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. He has worked in various capacities within the Jasper County Jail, including head of kitchen staff and jailer. He had worked for the county for more than 20 years. At the time, he had been placed on leave with pay, pending that case’s outcome.

    The four charges Villasana faces are second-degree felonies, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 per charge, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.

  • Addressing critical in today’s world

    020421 addressingFile photo

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — The people of Trinity County live in a time where health care is of special importance, especially since there is no full hospital in the area.

    Imagine, then, if in a health crisis, the ambulance ends up at an address on the wrong side of the county, or across the street, or down the block.

    Proper addressing will help first responders, utility installation, mail delivery and even the tax office, and 911 Addressing Coordinator Jolynn Wars can help make sure things are right.

    “I give incoming residents addresses if there is not one already, verify existing addresses if there is one, and if I get a state error report on an address, I correct it, and notify the resident, landowner or business owner,” she said.

    FCC regulations stipulate that 911 is the universal number for emergencies, in order to increase public safety. Enhanced 911 provides addresses to emergency personnel when a call is made, or a location if the call is made from a cell phone.

    To make the system work its best, addresses throughout the county were inspected and changed, if necessary, Wars said. However, the work is not done, and not without some resistance.

    “There’s a lot of the county not done, mainly in (the City of) Trinity,” Wars said. “When (addressing) first started, it wasn’t addressed properly. The odd and even (address numbers) are swapped on almost every street. Westwood Shores is the same. There also are problems with numbers being in the wrong range of the road.”

    The problem becomes worse, since residents and business owners continue to use old address numbers, even after the new address has been posted. Also, many addresses are not posted with the correct numbers, if at all.

    “For people moving into the county, their first phone call should be to me,” Wars said. “Utilities can’t be set up, or mobile homes can’t be moved onto properties, without a proper address.”

    Posting the address numbers, especially on roadways, is very important as well, she said, as well as changing letterheads and business cards for businesses.

    For more information, or to verify addresses, contact Wars at (936) 642-3904 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • 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.”

  • Altercation leaves juvenile dead

    TX DPS SealTX DPS Seal

    From the Texas Department of Public Safety

    A juvenile male is dead after being stabbed during an altercation.

    The subject and two other juvenile males were involved in an altercation at an Onalaska residence with another juvenile male early Saturday morning. At the request of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Texas Rangers are investigating the homicide.

    The preliminary investigation indicates that three male juveniles went to a residence where a male and a female juvenile were located. A short time after the three male juveniles arrived, a physical altercation between the male at the residence and the three males occurred.

    During this altercation, the male who was at the home stabbed one of the three juvenile males. Immediately after the incident, the male who was stabbed was transported to a medical facility in Livingston by some of the other male juveniles.

    While being transported to Houston for further medical care, the injured juvenile succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased. One of the juveniles was armed with a handgun during the incident and was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and placed in the Polk County Jail and later transferred to a juvenile detention facility in Montgomery County.

    This incident remains under investigation. Since the individuals in this criminal investigation are juveniles, their names will not be released at this time.

    Further information is not available for release.

  • Annual celebration taking place at Heritage Village

    Judith Haney Toasting Texas 2018JIM POWERS | PCPC FILE PHOTO A group of celebrants, led by Judith Haney, give their toast to Texas during the 2018 annual event at Heritage Village.

    By Chris Edwards

    Heritage Village in Woodville is gearing up for its annual event to celebrate of Texas Independence Day. It will take place on Tuesday, March 2.

    Festivities will begin at 1 p.m. out at the Village Stage, weather-permitting. Masks are required, and seating will be spaced-out, in accordance with recommended social distancing guidelines.

    Come and join Texans and honorary Texans in saluting this sacred holiday to our state. The celebration at the Village includes a toast with pure East Texas spring water.

    The event is held to coincide with the time and date in 1836 when a group gathered at Washingon-on-the-Brazos to sign a Declaration of Independence from Mexico, which set forth the creation of the Republic of Texas, an independent country for almost 10 years.

    Texas Highways magazine suggested that Texans all commemorate the event by stopping whatever they happen to be doing at 2 p.m. on March 2 to drink a toast to Texas. In 1993, historian Joe Franz, who often contributed to the magazine composed a poem to commemorate the event.

    Texas Highways, also suggested, according to Dottie Johnson’s “At the Village” column in the Feb. 23, 1994 edition of the Tyler County Booster, that those celebrating Texas Independence Day might also want to write and use an original toast, and the Heritage Society followed suit with their own toast that was used in the program.

    Students in Texas History classes from area schools also got involved in writing original toasts, as well.

     

    “Texas Toast” by Joe B. Franz 

    To Texas: 

    Joyous and Sparkling, 

    Ever green when it rains, enduring in drought, 

    Timeless, endless in boundaries, exciting, 

    Home to the adventurous of yesterday and today, 

    with shrines from the past 

    and space and spirit for the future. 

    To Texas, 

    Everlasting in the hearts of your people! 

  • Arrests made in possible homicide

    Homicide LivingstonCOURTESY PHOTO Jameous O’Neal Smith and Mark Anthony Jacobs

    Two Livingston men charged with murder

    The Polk County Sheriff's Department and Texas Rangers have made two arrests in theTuesdaydeath of a Livingston man.

    On the morning of Dec. 8, the Polk County Sherriff’s Office received an emergency call in reference to a deceased male found on Lone Wolf Road, just off of FM 1988 East in Polk County.

    The victim was identified as 19-year-old Brodrick Anthony Cooper of Livingston.

    Sheriff’s office investigators, along with Texas Ranger Ryan Clendennen, responded to the scene. The scene was processed and evidence was collected. Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino conducted the inquest and ordered an autopsy to be performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

    Once investigators made a positive identification of the deceased, they were able to start tracking his whereabouts and with whom he had associated within the last 24 hours.

    Investigators developed two suspects during the investigation. They were identified as 35-year-old Jameous O’Neal Smith and 18-year-old Mark Anthony Jacobs, both from Livingston.

    Both Smith and Jacobs were arrested on their charges. During their arrest and search of their residences, authorities say evidence was found linking both suspects to the crime.

    They were interviewed by investigators and confessed to the murder of Cooper, as well as robbing him afterward. The victim’s property was recovered during the investigation, along with the murder weapon.

    Smith and Jacobs are currently in the Polk County Jail charged with capital murder.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers would like to send their appreciation to the large amount of information received from numerous individuals regarding the investigation.

  • Babin bill targets voter fraud (VIDEO)

    Babin ParadeCALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File Photo - Rep. Brian Babin in the 2020 annual Tyler County Dogwood Festival Parade.

    By Chris Edwards

    WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) introduced a bill during the first week of December to tackle voter fraud, specifically regarding ballots cast of deceased individuals.

    HR 8830 or the You Must Be Alive to Vote Act, was written by Babin and addresses allegations that have emerged in the wake of November’s general election that ballots were cast absentee from deceased voters. “The right to vote is one of the most vital pillars of our democracy,” Babin said in a news release. “The ease with which someone is able to steal the ballot of a deceased person and cast an illegitimate vote should disturb, alarm and outrage every American citizen, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on.”

    Babin summarized the bill and spoke to concerns with the issue during an interview with One America News network. He said it was “sad to say, but a necessary item we have to introduce [the bill.]”

    “We don’t have an open and transparent election process,” he said during the interview, and cited public distrust of the election process as part of the rationale for the bill, which now has eight co-sponsors in the House.

    If passed, the bill will prevent any states or counties that do not annually check their voter lists against the Social Security Administration’s most recent death records in order to purge them of deceased residents from receiving federal funds from the Department of Transportation or the Department of Education.

    In Tyler County, the office of the County Clerk regularly checks the obituaries in the Tyler County Booster to cancel voters on the rolls.

    County Clerk Donece Gregory said that every county in Texas has a different method, and in Tyler County, since she is also the voter registrar, whenever someone dies in the county, her office is sent an abstract of the death so there is documentation on file in order to cancel that voter. Gregory said the same thing happens in other counties, whenever a Tyler County resident dies outside the county.

    “If someone dies in the hospital in Beaumont, for example, on a monthly basis, Jefferson County will send an abstract of that death to us,” Gregory said.

    As far as any deceased persons’ ballots being cast in Tyler County, Gregory said it has never happened that she was aware of. There have been, however, voters who have died after their ballots were cast, and those ballots were counted, as the voters were alive when they voted.

    Ultimately, with deceased persons, Gregory said as long as her office has some type of documentation, they will be able to cancel them.

    If Babin’s bill becomes law, the penalized counties or states found to be in violation, would be barred from receiving funds from the aforementioned agencies, but Babin said they would not be stopped from law enforcement-related funding at the federal level.

    “All elected officials, from your local city council member to your U.S. President, have an obligation to obey the law and prevent fraud in our elections, and Congress should not be awarding taxpayer dollars to any counties or states that refuse to do the job they swore to do,” Babin said.

    Babin said during the OAN interview that there are claims of dead people being registered to vote in South Florida being investigated. Similar claims have emerged in other parts of the country since Election Day. The claim has been made in past presidential elections, as well.

    “We better get this right or the consequences to our free, democratic republic will be dire,” Babin said.

    Video of Rep. Babin Explaining HR 8830 on Fox News

  • Babin slams Equality Act

    BRIAN BABIN Courtesy of Babin.House.Gov Courtesy of Babin.House.Gov Rep. Brian Babin

    By Chris Edwards

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) took the Equality Act to task in Congress last week, referring to the bill as “an outright lie.”

    Babin, who voted no on the bill, said before the House of Representatives, that the Equality Act is more about the political left prioritizing a “radical agenda over religious freedom, the well-being of children and the safety of women and girls.”

    The Equality Act, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to employment, housing, education opportunities, federal funding and the jury system.

    Since it was introduced on Feb. 18, the bill picked up 223 co-sponsors and subsequently passed the House in a 224-206 vote on Thursday, Feb. 25. The bill was introduced by Rhode Island congressman David Cicilline, a Democrat from the state’s 1st congressional district. All of the House Democrats voted in favor of the bill, and eight Republicans, including San Antonio-area congressman Will Hurd, voted for it.

    Cicilline, who served as mayor of Providence, RI prior to being elected to Congress, is, according to his biography, the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital. The bill’s passage also comes in the wake of President Joe Biden’s ending of former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military.

    Babin’s opposition to the bill is shared by many feminists, women’s rights organizations and some religious organizations, which have opposed part of the bill due to verbiage that defines biological sex to include gender identity. Critics claim that factor will harm single-sex spaces, such as prisons, locker rooms and shelter.

    “As the father of three daughters and the grandfather of nine granddaughters, I am outraged at the assault this bill launches on women in sports,” Babin said.

    Babin also expressed concerns from the perspective of a healthcare provider. Babin, who is a dentist, said the bill, if passed, would prohibit physicians from counseling children with gender dysphoria. Instead, physicians would have to administer “dangerous medical treatment,” which includes puberty blockers and even surgeries, and contradicts science, he said.

    “These treatments compound these children’s confusions, rather than solving it,” he said.

    The bill is now in the hands of the Senate for consideration and a vote as to adopt it as law or not.

  • Big Sandy ISD swears in trustees and reorganizes board

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Standing from left, Big Sandy ISD trustees Quentin Matthews, Mark Duff and Kabe Murphy take their oaths into four-year terms from Kelly Hardy during last Monday’s meeting.

    By Jason Chlapek

    DALLARDSVILLE – Four trustees took oaths for four-year terms during Big Sandy ISD’s monthly meeting last Monday.

    Mark Duff and Quentin Matthews were re-elected, while Darrell Murphy and Kabe Murphy were elected to new four-year terms. Duff, Matthews and Darrell Murphy all ran unopposed in the Nov. 3 election, while Kabe Murphy defeated William Handy for his seat.

    The officers on the school board were chosen as well. Darrell Murphy will serve as board president, while Sheila Neal will be the board vice-president, and Matthews is the secretary.

    During the meeting, Big Sandy ISD Superintendent Eric Carpenter gave a financial report during his report. He also talked about Title I funds that the district receives.

    “Covid has been our biggest expense to the tune of $200-250,000,” Carpenter said. “Getting ready for class, cleaning buses, cleaning supplies, etc. It’s just part of it. The amount of Title I funds a school receives is based on the number of kids you have on free or reduced lunch. That’s about 50% of our students.”

    Last month, Big Sandy ISD decided to go back to onsite learning for all students with the exception of those students who have preexisting medical conditions or have immediate family members with preexisting medical conditions. Carpenter believes onsite learning is more beneficial.

    “One of the biggest reasons why we went back to onsite learning was we had a high percentage of distance learners who were failing,” he said. “It’s easier for students to get the one-to-one help they need when they’re in school. If they’re not checking in, you can’t help them at all.”

    Carpenter also commended Senator Robert Nichols for everything he’s done for his district and other rural districts in East Texas. He’s not only a fan of Nichols, but also House Bill 3.

    “With House Bill 3, Sen. Nichols helped rural schools get the funding they needed,” Carpenter said.

    Big Sandy ISD meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14.

  • Big Sandy receives ‘good, clean’ audit

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE From left, Big Sandy ISD board members Maynard Williams and Lyndon Alec review an agenda item during last Monday’s monthly school board meeting.

    By Jason Chlapek

    DALLARDSVILLE – Big Sandy ISD went over its audit during last Monday’s monthly school board meeting.

    According to Superintendent Eric Carpenter, the district received a “good, clean audit.” He gave credit where he believed credit was due.

    “The board has been good stewards of their money,” Carpenter said. “Our staff as a whole also has been good stewards of their money.”

    Axley & Rode of Livingston performed Big Sandy’s audit. Carpenter said his district has worked with the firm for four years now.

    Big Sandy ISD nurse Amanda Foster also gave an update on Covid-19. Carpenter is pleased with the way his district has combated the virus.

    “Our saving grace is wearing masks,” he said. “Our staff and students have done a great job of wearing masks.”

    During the first semester, Big Sandy ISD did not have to shut down because of Covid. Carpenter credits that to staff and students “doing what they have to do to stay safe.”

    The board also approved for Carpenter to submit a waiver to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to waive the student growth requirement in the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) and the student growth requirement in Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System (T-PESS). On Dec. 10, the Commissioner of Education announced that TEA would waive the A-F Accountability system for this year.

    Big Sandy ISD meets again on 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25.

  • Birthday message discovered on Toledo Bend

    Pardue NotePHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SABINE PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE The note that arrived at Toledo Bend.

    Fred boy’s balloon, message travel 100 miles

    By Chris Edwards

    TOLEDO BEND – A three-day journey of a birthday balloon over the course of a hundred miles resulted in a heartwarming story shared by the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office.

    On Thursday, Jan. 28, deputies with the agency in Sabine Parish were called out to a residence on Toledo Bend lake in reference to a discovery of a handwritten note.

    The note, which the caller said had turned up on their property, stated it was from a five-year-old boy in Fred, named Bryan Pardue, and gave instructions to call the boy at a number written on the note, if found.

    PardueBryan Pardue

    Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell shared the story to the department’s Facebook page and said that further investigation revealed the note was originally attached to a Happy Birthday balloon, and released on Pardue’s birthday, which was on Monday, Jan. 25. The note and balloon had travelled 100 miles from Fred, which sits in the extreme southeastern part of Tyler County to Sabine Parish, which sits along the western borderline of Louisiana and Texas. Deputies called the number and talked to the boy’s great-grandmother.

    Mitchell said the deputies asked the great-grandmother to send them a photograph of the boy, and that he was “so happy” his note was found.

    When the story was shared to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook, it was shared more than 1,500 times as of Monday and resulted in a swell of birthday wishes for Pardue.