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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    POLK COUNTY - The Leggett Water Supply Company rescinded a nearly-week long boil water notice for residents in the Pratt subdivision and some along Marston Road in Livingston.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on Old Highway 35 was put into place Wednesday — the same day that the Pratt subdivision and Marston Road notice was rescinded.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.”

  • New online jury system in effect

    jury dutyCOURTESY PHOTO Over 100 people arrived for jury duty at the Polk County Commerce Center Monday. While this is the second jury selected since jury trials have resumed following the pandemic, this was the first jury selected using the district clerk’s office’s new online jury system.

    By Emily Banks Wooten

    The Polk County District Clerk’s Office has begun using an online jury system, having recently partnered with Tyler Technologies Inc.

    The jury selected Monday for a trial in the 411th Judicial District was the first one selected using the new online jury system.

    “It went as well as I expected it to, considering we’d never done it live before,” Polk County District Clerk Bobbye Christopher said. “Out of everybody that we polled, everybody thought it went well and thought it was easy.

    “The new jury summons has a different look and will arrive in an envelope from this office,” Christopher said.

    The new jury summons will have a link to the jury e-response portal. You may also access the portal by going to the district clerk’s webpage at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.District.Clerk

    “We urge everyone to use the online system to answer the juror questionnaire, request an exemption or report a disqualification,” Christopher said. “Summoned jurors will be able to enroll their email or cell phone to receive messages concerning their service, such as court assignments, cancellations, etc.”

    For those without Internet service, an automated phone line is available for people to call and enroll over the phone. The number is 844-927-2687.

    The local district courts have gradually reopened following over a year without trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Monday’s was the second jury selection undertaken but the first with the new online jury system. It’s being held at the commerce center in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

    Although Governor Greg Abbott recently issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent, the courts are under an order imposed by the Texas Supreme Court.

    “The order expires June 1 so we’re waiting on direction from the OCA (Office of Court Administration),” Christopher said.

    “It was more difficult on my staff being offsite,” she said.

  • (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..

  • Agent takes a step up to get back to roots

    052721 extensionCOURTESY PHOTO Stacye Tullos (second from right), the new Texas A&M Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent for Trinity County, stands with (from left) Trinity County Judge Doug Page, Cathey, Kayla Kembro, Clarissa Ashworth, and Cole Sullivan, 4-H members who were honored with Gold Star awards from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Tullos recently was promoted to the agent, having served initially as an agent for Healthy Texas.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Combined passions for agriculture and teaching put Stacye Tullos back to the place where she always wanted to be.

    The former Health Agent for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, which dealt with educational programming in the school about chronic disease and nutrition, among other things, is now agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources.

    “I always knew I wanted to be in something ag-based because of how I grew up,” Tullos said. “That made me who I am, being in FFA in high school. I was one of those kids who didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do until I got into high school and started in ag.”

    When it came to learning about all things agriculture, Tullos said she fell to that like a duck to water; instead of athletics or other extracurricular activities, that was her passion — her sport.

    “4-H program is part of what I deal with, and that’s where my heart is at,” she said. “I was an ag teacher for three years (prior to joining the Extension Service). I come from a long background in agriculture. My grandpa was the largest producer of rice in the state of Texas in the 70s and 80s, and he also ran cattle, grew corn and hay, and things like that.”

    Tullos said that children are her passion, especially teaching them, and with agriculture, the possibilities for kids to find something that will interest them are endless.

    “People think that ag only has to do with cattle or pigs or lambs or goats, or maybe just farming, and it’s a misconception,” she said. “I’ve seen kids so shy that when they got an opportunity to be a part of FFA or 4-H, they find themselves. There are speaking events, or sewing, or robotics, or mechanical engineering. It’s cooking and learning about food. It gives them a sense of responsibility and grow character. You’ll find some of the most exceptional kids come from ag. It’s not just county fair stuff.”

    Agriculture and its related disciplines teaches responsibility, and a work ethic, and how to create, and it teaches children how to sell themselves, not just sell a commodity, Tullos said.

    “Kids need to know how to market themselves these days, and they need to learn to earn their way,” she said.

    So in her new role, Tullos helps people with questions about starting gardens, or identifying plants, or check a pond, or eve finding out why cattle aren’t producing well or losing weight.

    “It’s everything you can possibly imagine under the umbrella of agriculture,” she said. “We have a wealth of people with knowledge that help us with that, so if we don’t know, we have the resources of A&M.”

    Tullos is replacing Armon Hewitt, who had been agent for Trinity County for about 15 years. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture services and development, and followed that with an internship in ag education with the Extension Service in Grimes County.

    After spending a few years working in human resources, Tullos made the change to teaching, and has been there since.

    “At the end of the day, our youth are our future, and if I can say I had a small part in helping them to blossom into a mature adult with a work ethic and skills to use throughout life, that’s where I live,” she said. “We have to invest in our kids, and they have to know there is someone behind them.”

  • 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 car show granted weather delay

    cabmaFILE PHOTO

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — Weather is responsible for another delay, this time the annual Car, Truck and Bike Show sponsored by the Coldspring Area Business and Merchants Association.

    CABMA’s Car Show Committee voted to move the event to July 31.

    According to information from the meeting posted on the group’s website, vehicle owners will not show the cars in rain, and musicians and DJs will not risk damage to their equipment.

    Sponsors for the event, Bourland Land Surveying, Paradise Grille, Bear AC & Heating, Farm Bureau Insurance and Matticks Real Estate, have been contacted and have agreed to the delay; however, the food purchased for the event will not be used, and it is non-refundable.

    Vendors that have been booked for the event will not be charged to set up on the new date, and were allowed to set up Saturday if they so chose.

    In the release, members stated it was a very hard decision to make as a new board, and that some people will be disappointed, but Mother Nature is 100 percent out of the board’s control.

    The board cannot take of chance of losing or wasting hard-earned money to possible thunderstorms, the release states, and postponement of any event is not the end of the world, it’s a compromise.

    More information is available at cabma.org.

  • 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! 

  • Anti-mask mandate mandated

    governorFILE PHOTO Gov. Greg Abbott

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing. 

    Public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

    However, in San Jacinto County, the governor’s action will have no effect, as both the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd districts had already voted to remove masks.

    Shepherd Superintendent Jason Hewitt said that in April, the board voted to remove masks after a survey of the staff and community showed masks should be removed.

    Cassie Gregory, information officer for COCISD, said that board had made masks optional previously.

    Beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

    "The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities," Abbott said. "Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

    Exempt from the order are state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.

    Additionally, the governor said that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective June 26.

    This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, a release states.

    “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”

    The current job openings are good paying jobs. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, nearly 45 percent of posted jobs offer wages greater than $15.50 per hour. Approximately 76 percent pay more than $11.50 per hour. Only 2 percent of posted jobs pay around the minimum wage.

    At this stage of opening the state 100 percent, the focus must be on helping unemployed Texans connect with the more than a million job openings, rather than paying unemployment benefits to remain off the employment rolls.

    Another reason why the action was necessary is the high level of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed. TWC estimates that nearly 18 percent of all claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic are confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent, which totals more than 800,000 claims, worth as much as $10.4 billion, if all claims had been paid.

    Federal law requires the effective date of this change to be at least 30 days after notification is provided to the Secretary of Labor. As a result, the effective date will be June 26.

  • Anti-mask mandate mandated

    052721 mandateFILE PHOTO Gov. Greg Abbott

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing. 

    Public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

    However, in San Jacinto County, the governor’s action will have no effect, as both the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd districts had already voted to remove masks.

    Shepherd Superintendent Jason Hewitt said that in April, the board voted to remove masks after a survey of the staff and community showed masks should be removed.

    Cassie Gregory, information officer for COCISD, said that board had made masks optional previously.

    Beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

    "The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities," Abbott said. "Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

    Exempt from the order are state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.

    Additionally, the governor said that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective June 26.

    This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, a release states.

    “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”

    The current job openings are good paying jobs. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, nearly 45 percent of posted jobs offer wages greater than $15.50 per hour. Approximately 76 percent pay more than $11.50 per hour. Only 2 percent of posted jobs pay around the minimum wage.

    At this stage of opening the state 100 percent, the focus must be on helping unemployed Texans connect with the more than a million job openings, rather than paying unemployment benefits to remain off the employment rolls.

    Another reason why the action was necessary is the high level of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed. TWC estimates that nearly 18 percent of all claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic are confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent, which totals more than 800,000 claims, worth as much as $10.4 billion, if all claims had been paid.

    Federal law requires the effective date of this change to be at least 30 days after notification is provided to the Secretary of Labor. As a result, the effective date will be June 26.

  • Apple Springs Board OKs use of grant funds

    apple springs ISD logoCOURTESY PHOTO Apple Springs ISD logo

    TCNS staff

    APPLE SPRINGS — The Apple Springs ISD School Board will get to spend $808,000 of federal grant funds.

    At its regular meeting on May 10, the board approved a spending plan designed by Superintendent Cody Moree, which will take effect in mid-July, the earliest the money can be drawn down by districts.

    “This is an occasion where there’s a lot of leeway in spending protocol,” Moree said. “Typically, federal money will have to supplement what we’re already doing; this will allow us to (use grant funds for) payroll operations for a year, and take our regular allotments and put them in a fund balance to give us a cushion.”

    Moree said that $575,000 of the funds will be used for payroll.

    Other uses include $107,000 to be used on direct learning loss strategies, purchasing personal protective equipment, and replacing plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, fountains and sinks, to non-touch varieties, all necessary because of the pandemic; and $15,000 for new computer hardware.

    In other business, the board:

    • moved the regular meeting days to the second Thursday of the month from the second Monday, the first being June 10. Moree said this was because the district moved to a 4-day week, and is closed on Mondays; and
    • approved changes to school policy based on Texas Association of School Board recommendations.