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  • Ready for the challenge (VIDEO)

    IMG 3389BRIAN BESCH | PCE Corynn Kaleh had six points in the first quarter and eight for the game.

    Lady Cats prepare for two games that will determine district lead

    By Brian Besch

    Tuesday’s game in Dallardsville seemed more of a formality than competition, as Big Sandy easily outscored Spurger 69-14.

    The home team overpowered the Lady Pirates 42-3 in the first half and never allowed more than six points (fourth) in any quarter.

    “We have battled a little bit of injury since the Christmas break, but overall, I have been pleased with the way we have been playing,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said of his group. “We've beaten some quality teams over the break and we also lost to a quality team in Central Pollok at their place. They were a good, solid team. We got a chance to see what a really great team looks like.”

    Alexis Thompson led the way on the scoreboard, with 28 points in just three quarters. The sophomore point guard hit eight 3-pointers. Faith Geller had 19 points, connecting three times from behind the arc, and Kalyssa Dickens collected 10 points.

    The Lady Cats are undefeated going into an important two-game stint of district contests. Both could prove to be pivotal in determining District 24-2A seeding for the postseason.

    “In my opinion, it is going to come down to us, West Sabine and Broaddus,” Alec said of the title race. “I think all of us will battle it out for the top spot. With West Sabine, we are going to have to match their intensity and we will have to play well. We play at their place on Friday and that is always a tough place to play.

    “You always tried to take games one game at a time and our focus is on West Sabine now. We have Broaddus at home on Tuesday, which will be another tough battle. They are very aggressive and play extremely hard. That will be another tough game.”

    The challenges are something the coach believes his team is prepared to face.

    “We're ready and I think the kids are excited for Friday night. They know how big of a game Friday night is going to be in West Sabine.”

     

  • Spurger ISD ends in-person instruction for a week

    Morgan WrightCALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File photo - Spurger ISD Superintendant Morgan Wright speaks at a monthly board meeting in September 2020.

    By Chris Edwards

    SPURGER – A spike in COVID-19 numbers resulted in a closure for in-person learning at Spurger ISD this week.

    The district’s superintendent Morgan Wright said that administrators and faculty have been actively monitoring the numbers of positive cases, and there has been a steady increase in those numbers among both SISD staff and students as well as in the community.

    “After a few days of discussion we believe it is in the best interest of the students, staff and our Spurger community that we exercise a five-day remote option the week of Nov. 30 - Dec. 4.,” Wright stated in a letter he released on Friday, Nov. 27.

    Wright said that going solely remote for a week will help control the exposure numbers. “Our desire to be remote for a week is that it will prevent the district from having a major outbreak,” he said.

    Spurger began the school year in an entirely remote mode for its first four weeks of the current school year. Wright said the move allowed faculty to focus on how to operate with asynchronous learning, as well as the ability to troubleshoot for both parents and teachers.

    Up until last week, Wright said, the district’s numbers have been fairly low. “The potential for increased exposure has become evident in the growing numbers being reported. We want to do our part to protect everyone that is a part of Spurger ISD,” he said.

    The district will resume in-person instruction on Monday, Dec. 7. For any parents or guardians who need a Verizon Hotspot or a Wi-Fi device for connection, the district has some available. Andrea Wilson is the point of contact for the district’s technology, and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a time to pick up a device.

  • Spurger students obtain workforce certifications (VIDEO)

    Screenshot 2021 02 18 page0001 pdfCOURTESY OF AMANDA HATTON Spurger FFA welders passed their state test and now hold a certificate to weld. Five received multiple levels of certifications.

    By Caleb Fortenberry

    SPURGER – The Spurger ISD board of trustees met last Thursday on February 11, 2021 to discuss regular agenda items and recognize students for getting certified in welding and floral knowledge.

    The meeting began at 7:02 PM with Ag teacher of 43 years, Ken Cauthen, and Ag/Floral design teacher Amber Conner boasting of the students’ success.

    “These rascals work, and I like ‘em,” said Cauthen, “We need some people that are workers in this world.”

    Cauthen’s inspiring speech explained further his ideals of how education is sometimes gained through work rather than books. “You cannot learn out of a book… We can look at all the pictures in the world, but you got to put your hands on something.”

    Eleanor Holderman presented the Tyler county historical commission (TCHC). She spoke of many of the legendary Tyler County historical figures, specifically Dr. Josiah Wheat one of the first pioneers to settle on the Neches River, Fannie Jenkins, the last operator of Sheffield’s Ferry, and Henry Gainer, the first black pastor in Texas.

    The group donated a flag to the school campaigning their #wearetylercounty promotion for the 175th anniversary of Tyler County April 4th, 2021.

    Spurger ISD Superintendent, Morgan Write spoke to the board about the school’s goals and how they have been utilizing the Deep East Texas College & Career Academy (DETCCA).

    Write explained the students, “can get an Associates when they leave High school,” and they are encouraged to take those courses.

    Any student is eligible starting their Freshman year, but to continue, they must take the TSI exam.

    Welding, Automotive technology, Criminal Justice, and Cyber Security are the degrees listed on the Career & Technology (CT) Education program. However, there are more certifications and schools to come. “There’s a fire school coming in the fall,” said Write.

    The school also has ties with the Texas Workforce Commission that have certifications in Paramedic and Nationally Registered EMT.

    Write also mentioned the Drop-Out Program that DETCCA offers, saying there were now night classes being offered for High school drop-outs up to the age of 24. Welding and CDL certifications are offered through the program.

    Elementary Principal’s Report

    “Enrollment is pretty steady,” said Elementary principal Jason Drake. Drake mentioned he went to five students’ homes that had attendance issues, with a majority of them not answering the door.

    Drake also reported that the Elementary placed second in UIL, but noted it wasn’t easy to get to that position.

    “This a rough year,” said Drake, “I went through seven observations this week. Our teachers are rocking it. I’ve been impressed.”

    High school Principal’s Report

    High school principal Amanda Hatton spoke before the board on several topics. Chic-fil-a becoming the popular fundraising activity, where all proceeds go back to students. On a non-health food day, Hatton brings Chic-fil-a sandwiches to the school and sells them for $6 per sandwich. She encouraged board members to join them and purchase some for lunch.

    Hatton also spoke on a less than orthodox way of finding enrolled students who have been absent and with 36 remote learners, the probability of students not attending class can be higher.

    “These kids have just disappeared on us,” said Hatton, “Usually we shut off their access to their computers to get the students to get in contact with us.”

    Students have all been given Chromebook computers and internet hotspots in the event of necessary distance learning.

    She also briefed the board about College, College and Military Readiness (CCMR) saying they had, “Seven students Due to take a Microsoft test.”

    The school also now has instructional partners, which is a company that works with rural schools.

    The instructional partners are being used to help with learning gaps.

    “They help us where we need so teachers can continue to grow,” explained Hatton, “We developed a plan to address the gaps that we’ve been seeing.”

    Other Business

    • The review board needs a new member, with one stepping down. They get paid and miles paid for.
    • Spurger received an ExxonMobil grant of $500 donated to each campus for math and science. “It can be used accordingly, but for math and science specifically,” said Write.
    • After two year of waiting for a $25,000 security grant, the school will receive updated security devices. “We will have cameras on the perimeter.” Said Write. The bathrooms will also have smoke detectors installed that can detect E-cigarette vapors.
    • The TEA will have a presentation over the 20-21 accountability on February 24 2021.
    • Boys and girls are finishing up basketball. There will not be any scrimmages or practices the following week due to quarantine issues. If there are two more wins, Spurger could be in the playoffs in Huntington.
    • Spurger will not have a baseball team this year due to low participation. However, the students that do want to participate will be covering fundamentals throughout the year.
  • Turning ‘Time in Texas’ into Country Gold

    tyler dozier 2COURTESY PHOTO Tyler Dozier

    By Caleb Fortenberry and Chris Edwards

    The pandemic that seized the entire planet last year made for a drastic change in how humans live, work, worship and play. In the “blessings in disguise” category, many who had to re-invent their lives found new passions or re-discovered old hobbies.

    Spurger native Tyler Dozier is one such young man who managed to turn bad news into something positive. “As bad as the coronavirus is, I got laid-off from the plant, and jobs are slow,” he explained. “So, I decided to do something that I enjoyed.”

    Dozier took his God-given talent in music, which he’d honed through his young life, and blaze the trail that many talented Texans before him had taken. So far, he has gone gung-ho into his fresh start, with two singles already under his belt and a full-length album in the works.

    The young singer/songwriter has music in his genes. His father, Donald Dozier, is still known in the region for his prowess as a guitarist and played with many bands and artists through the years, including a pre-superstar Mark Chesnutt. Tyler said his father is his primary influence in chasing a musical career, although he did not get to see him onstage in his glory days.

    “I never got to see him play, because I was too young at the time that he quit playing out,” he said.

    Some other influences came by way of artists like Josh Ward and Cody Johnson, both of whom Tyler began following before they were huge regional acts.

    The young artist said he pretty much taught himself to sing and started playing music when he was eight years old, beginning with piano. Eventually, he also took to playing guitar and drums. His father helped him get started on the guitar when he was 12, and he added the elder Dozier will also play with him live. “I do have plans of getting a band together,” he said. “I have some guys right now that I’ve played with for a long time just around my house and stuff. The only thing I’m missing is a bass player right now but if everything goes as I hope then I will have a band to play out in the next couple of months.”

    Until he gets a band solidified for live work, though, he said he is content to play as a solo act, which he said is a good way for the audience to really hear him and his songs “as I am.”

    At present, even though the continuing efforts to curb the pandemic have slowed down consistent live performance opportunities for musicians, Tyler has been able to take to the road and play some solo acoustic shows in such venues as Conroe’s Red Brick Tavern. “It’s a blast to get out and play in front of live audiences,” he said.

    Before he even started getting into venues, he began laying down some of his material in the studio. His first single, “Doing Time in Texas,” a classic-sounding country tune detailing the heartbreak of a man’s willingness to wait for the woman he loves, went out to radio stations during last summer, when he was the tender age of 19.

    The song was co-written between three songwriters, one of whom was Tyler’s cousin David Reed. “First time I heard it, I was like, ‘Man, I really got to cut this song’,” he said.

    The song made enough of a splash in the Texas regional market that Dozier was able to score a management deal with Salter-Gann Universal Promotions and Management, LLC.

    A second single, “How Can I Get You Off My Mind,” also penned by his cousin Reed, is currently making its rounds in the radio markets, and to add to that excitement, Tyler said he has plans to journey to Nashville soon to record some songs he has co-written with Reed.

    Dozier’s performance of his new single, which is orchestrated by traditional country instrumentation, such as the whine of a pedal steel guitar and acoustic guitars, bares the influence of his dad’s old running buddy/bandmate, Chesnutt, but still sounds uniquely Tyler Dozier.

    Whatever happens for the young East Texan singer and writer of pure country songs, one thing is certain to anyone who meets him: he will remain the same grounded, yet talented, young man he has always been.

    “Man, it’s crazy how people have responded to my music. Especially when I play live. Man! People come up and talk to me and that’s just what this is all about. I’m just an ol’ country boy out here doing what I love and for people to enjoy listening to it as much as I do, it means a lot and it’s really inspiring.”

    Tyler Dozier’s singles “Doing Time in Texas” and “How Can I Get You Off My Mind” can be downloaded from all digital music retail platforms and can be streamed on Spotify or requested from radiofreetexas.com.

    Video interview with Tyler

  • Tyler County cross-country runners place at Regional meet

    11JASON CHLAPEK | PCPC Spurger Pirates Colton Fredieu and Luis Jimenez cross the finish line.

    BY CHRIS EDWARDS

    HUNTSVILLE – Tyler County was well-represented at the UIL Region 3 Cross-Country Regional Meet.

    The meet, for the 2A through 6A conference schools, was held Nov. 9-10 in Huntsville at Sam Houston State University, and found teams from Spurger; Colmesneil; Warren and Woodville competing in the 2A and 3A events, respectively.

    For the Spurger Pirates, the boys placed in eighth, overall, with 223 points.

    In the girls’ two-mile run, Katy Curry came in 55th place with a time of 15:36.60 and Jillian Leasman placed at 111th with a time of 18:34.50.

    The boys had six runners compete in the three-mile run. Jose Jimenez placed at 24th with a time of 19:26.80. Luis Molina Jimenez came in 53rd place, with a time of 20:26.70, and Colton Fredieu came in right behind at 54th with the same time. Nicholas Wilson got a 65th place finish with a time of 21:12.20; Bryce Oseguera got the 100th place finish with 25:01.80 and Coby Anthony got the 104th place with 25:32.90 on the clock.

    The Colmesneil Bulldogs’ cross-country runners put a team of six girls in the two-mile run and Treston Horton running in the boys’ three-mile event. Horton placed 66th with a time of 21:20.20.

    For the girls, Katherine Vargas-Martine placed 18th, with 14:39.40; Alyssa Mabry came in 37th with 15:04.70; Bernice Pittman placed 87th with 16:47.30. Erin Frazier got 97th place with a 17:05.20; Karen Vargas-Martinez got 113th with 18:41.20 and Katelyne Guerrero placed 115th with a time of 18:48.

    The Warren Warriors cross-country boys had a team consisting of Jerrod Yeagin (#42, 18:21.70); Eli Carrell (#105, 20:46.40); Arturo Bustamante (#118, 21:26.50); Jonathan Lee (#126, 22:02.80); Jerry Don Brinkley (#133, 23:01.30); Juan Lianes (#137, 23:45.90) and Corley Dilbeck (#138, 24:03.70.) They placed 15th in the three-mile event with a total of 378 points.

    Abby Carroll from Warren also ran in the 3A girls’ two-mile run and finished 24th with a time of 13:57.70.

    The Woodville Eagles were represented in the 3A girls’ two-mile run with a ninth-place finish for a team of seven Lady Eagle runners.

    Here are the results for Woodville individual runners at the meet: Kristina Nash (#60, 14:55.50); Brittany Lilley (#63, 15:00.30); Raegan Frantz (#71, 15:23.30); Ryleigh Stewart (#85, 15:23.30); Aubrianna Torres (#96, 15:50.40); Ashley Davis (#118, 16:35.30) and Kenadi Frauenberger (#129, 17:28.20.) The Lady Eagle runners accumulated a combined 258 points.

  • Tyler County deputies make arrests in Spurger area

    Richard Lyles Scott Sanford 2MUGSHOT Richard Lyles and Scott Sanford

    By Chris Edwards

    SPURGER – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford reported that his office has been busy lately in the southeastern end of the county.

    Last week, TCSO made two arrests in two separate incidents, which resulted in multiple charges, including narcotics possession and stolen property.

    Last Monday, when deputies with TCSO were patrolling in the Spurger area in the late afternoon, they stopped a Ford Expedition on a traffic violation along County Road 4426. According to Weatherford, when deputies made contact with the driver, identified as Richard Lyles, a 40-year-old Kountze resident, they learned his driver’s license had been expired since 2012.

    When they searched his vehicle, they discovered a Remington 552 rifle and were notified that Lyles was a convicted felon, which, under statute, makes it illegal for him to possess a firearm. Also discovered in the search was a small, clear plastic baggie containing a crystalline substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamines.

    The deputies took Lyles into custody, and transported him to the Tyler County Justice Center, where he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm; possession of controlled substance and no driver’s license. He later bonded out with his bonds set at $10,000 by Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe. Before Lyles left the jail, a Woodville woman was arrested when she arrived to pick him up.

    According to Weatherford, deputies saw Keiosha Rowinsky, a 29-year-old Woodville woman, drive into the Justice Center parking lot. They knew from previous encounters that she did not have a valid driver’s license and made contact with her. She admitted to the deputies she did not have a valid license and was placed under arrest.

    Deputies located two loaded syringes in her jacket pocket and purse, both of which field-tested postiive for methamphetamines.

    Several other items of drug paraphernalia were found inside her vehicle, Weatherford said, and she was charged with possession of a controlled substance and driving while license invalid. She later bonded out of jail on $5,000 bonds set by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

    The second incident Weatherford reported about in Spurger happened the next day, when deputies were patrolling in the early morning hours along County Road 4420. When the deputies on patrol approached CR 4426, they discovered two sets of small lights shining throughout a clear-cut section of the woods, according to Weatherford.

    The deputies then made contact with two individuals, whom they identified as Scott Sanford, age 39, of Silsbee and Rusty Mathis, of Spurger.

    Sanford was holding a Remington pump-action 30-06 rifle, and both men had small spotlights. “While checking the information on the rife, deputies learned that the rifle had been reported stolen in a late 2020 burglary that occurred in Colmesneil,” Weatherford said in a press release.

    Sanford was taken into custody and charged with theft of a firearm. At press time, he remains in jail with a $5,000 bond set by Jobe. Weatherford said he could face additional charges.

  • Wildcats play for district lead Friday (VIDEO)

    IMG 3417BRIAN BESCH | PCE Michael Hamilton led all scores with 14 Tuesday night.

    By Brian Besch

    A stifling defense made for easy offense as Big Sandy breezed past Spurger 83-13 Tuesday. Turnovers gave the game the look of a layup drill at times, as the Wildcats led by 17 after the first quarter and 33 at the half.

    Nearly at full strength, the Wildcats were too much for Spurger. The Pirates’ best quarter was in the first, scoring five points. Meanwhile the Big Sandy attack never amassed fewer than 19 points in a period.

    “We’ve got nearly everybody back,” Wildcat coach Kevin Foster said with a bit of relief. “We went on a stretch from Thanksgiving until Dec. 28 where we constantly had two or three guys out. We've played a lot of bigger schools, so it has been tough on us. I kept telling the kids that it will prepare us for the long run, even though we are taking our lumps now.”

    The ‘Cats spread the wealth, with each of the eight players scoring at least four points. Michael Hamilton was tops amongst them with 14. Elias Bullock scored 13, Kaden Foster and Josi Celestine both had a dozen, and Adrian Thompson had 10.

    “The last few games we have really worked on getting the ball up and we go through stretches where we struggle to score,” Foster said. “We need to get into our offense quicker and really transition and fast-breaking. We have done a better job of that as of late. I feel like the one thing that we've done well for the past couple of games is defend. We’ve also rebounded well all year long.”

    Much the same as the girls, Foster believes Friday's game at West Sabine will be in an important one for his Wildcats. The two schools were projected by many to finish first and second in the district.

    “It is going to be a challenging and difficult game, but that's what makes it fun,” the coach said. “I told the kids that we will be focused these next two days in practice to get ready to play. They probably have the best individual player in the district. He has started for them since he was a freshman and is a junior now. They have some good athletes and we are looking forward to it.”