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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Aircraft in distress lands safely

    N1805P42006CFILE PHOTO

    There was a report of a plane in distress from Polk County. The incident was reported on the Tyler and Polk County line. The search quickly moved to the Southern Tyler County area between Warren and Buddy Lowe road. 

    Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, along with Tyler County Sheriff's Office deputies and first responders from multiple agencies searched the scene.

    Police scanner said it landed safely at an Air Force base and was identified as a helicopter.

    More to follow.

  • 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.”

  • American Pickers to film in Texas

    American Pickers 1Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe are the stars of the show “American Pickers.” They are planning to film episodes in Texas during the month of November and are looking for people with private antique collections.

    From American Pickers media relations

    Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team are excited to return to Texas.

    They plan to film episodes of the hit series “American Pickers” throughout the area in November. The troupe understands that with the proliferation of COVID-19, the people of this country are all facing very uncertain times.

    The staff at American Pickers is taking the pandemic very seriously and will be following all guidelines and protocols for safe filming as outlined by the state and CDC. While its plan to be in Texas in November, it will continue to reschedule if conditions change for the worse.

    Regardless, Wolfe and Fritz are excited to continue to reach the many collectors in the area to discuss their years of picking. “American Pickers” is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History.

    The hit show follows Wolfe and Fritz, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

    As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Wolfe and Fritz are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the Pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items.
    The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way. Mike and Frank have seen a lot of rusty gold over the years and are always looking to discover something they’ve never seen before.

    They are ready to find extraordinary items and hear fascinating tales about them. “American Pickers” is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure.

    If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the Pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send us your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 855-OLD-RUST. Facebook: @GotAPick

  • 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! 

  • 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

  • Bulldogs chomp Warriors, 28-14

    PSX 20201030 233925PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO A Corrigan-Camden wide receiver hauls in a pass as a Warren defender hangs on for dear life to try and bring him down Friday night.

    By Albert Trevino

    The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs defeated the Warren Warriors 28-14 on Friday.

    It was the first district win for new head coach Brett Ratliff, who finally witnessed real-game progress under his offensive system.

    "We have gotten better every week. I think we are finding weaknesses in different defenses. Sometimes, we have to run a little more or throw. Since we can play multiple, we are able to exploit those things." said Ratliff after the game.

    The Bulldog defense had another strong performance, making crucial third- and fourth-down stops throughout the game.

    "We definitely played a full team game tonight. When our offense stumbled, getting inside the red zone and not putting one in, our defense picked us up." Ratliff said.

    It was also a breakout game for Bulldog sophomore quarterback Christian Hood, who ran for three of Corrigan's four touchdowns.

    "[Hood] is a great athlete and has a heart on him." said Ratliff. "He never gets rattled and plays even keeled like a quarterback should. But he also plays physical like a running back."

    The Warriors scored first with an early touchdown by senior running back Kevin Kirk.

    Corrigan responded with Hood scoring his first rushing touchdown to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter.

    A turnover on downs by Warren in the second quarter gave the Bulldog offense a short field and a chance to take the lead. Hood finished that drive with 11-yard touchdown run to go up 14-7 at halftime.

    The Bulldogs stretched their lead in the third quarter, as sophomore running back Anthony Harrell broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run. That score gave Corrigan a 21-7 lead going into the fourth.

    Warren's offense would keep fighting, with help from a personal foul call that kept a late possession alive. The penalty was immediately followed by a 43-yard touchdown run by Warrior sophomore back Jeremy Smith to make it a one-score game.

    Corrigan answered on its next possession, with Hood scoring his third rushing touchdown to help seal the win.

    Corrigan's final game of the season will be this Friday at home against the Newton Eagles.

  • Buying a drone can cost more than one might think

    IMG 2242CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File photo of Tyler County Booster reporter, Caleb Fortenberry, flying a Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) while on a video production job in Conroe, Texas in March, 2020.

    By Caleb Fortenberry

    Every Christmas the Booster receives letters to Santa from children in the Tyler County region. This year a surprising number of children wished for drones.

    Parents should consider the amount of laws to be followed before the drone can be launched into the air.

    Before a recreational flyer can actually launch their drone, they must register it through the (Federal Aviation Administration) FAA. Not only do you have to pay for the registry, you must display the registration number on the drone and keep the proof of registration on your person while flying.

    Now, the exception is weight. If the drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams) then there is no need for registry. Still, those drones are few and far between.

    weight applicibility FILE PHOTO Courtesy of the FAA website.

    There are several penalties not only on the federal level, but also through the state to be aware of. According to CHAPTER 423. USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT of GOVERNMENT CODE, TITLE 4. EXECUTIVE BRANCH, if you take photos or video someone else’s property with intent to conduct surveillance, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. If any image or video is kept, distributed, or displayed it is also a Class C misdemeanor and each image is a separate offense.

    But that’s not all, the property owner of the photos taken can enjoin a violation or imnent violation of $5,000 for the capturing of images and $10,000 for displaying, distribution, or use of the images.

    So, a child’s $40 drone that a parent buys for Christmas could ultimately lead to larger costs. Those are just charges through the state. The FAA is constantly tracking down on violations made. And each violation fine gets worse with less laws followed.

    If your child is older and the goal is to get into a photography business, do your research. There are far more laws and requirements and fees to face. You may live in an area where the airspace restricts drone flights. That could be problematic for finding a place to fly recreationally.

    You can own and operate a drone legally, but there are many repercussions that parents can face from the ignorance of a child. Be smart this Christmas, plan ahead, follow the law, and if you do get your child a drone, supervise the flights.

    You can read more about Texas drone laws at https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/GV/htm/GV.423.htm and federal regulations at https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/

  • Colmesneil council accepts Davis resignation

    Colmesneil City HallPHOTO BY WENDY BENDY Colmesneil City Hall

    By Mollie LaSalle

    TYLER COUNTY – The Colmesneil City Council met for its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, with Mayor Don Baird announcing the resignation of council member Kenneth Davis.

    Davis’s resignation was effective on Sept. 10, when he notified Baird through a letter. Davis was arrested in August and charged with a felony sexual abuse charge following an investigation out of Trinity County. His resignation was accepted unanimously.

    Councilmembers held a round table discussion about a possible replacement for Davis. While many names were suggested, as of press time, no one person being considered has met the criteria for the open seat.

    All councilmembers agreed that further discussion is warranted, with members stressing the need for “some younger folks” at city hall.

    Councilmembers discussed the basketball goal on the corner of Hickory and Sutton streets once again. Baird said people have been called City Hall with complaints about it.

    The resident who owns the goal was asked on more than one occasion to remove it from its current location, which is deemed dangerous, as children are playing in or near the street at all hours.

    When the basketball goal was first installed about two to three months ago, the city contacted Texas Municipal League Attorneys about the question of liability in the event someone gets hurt. TML has stated from the beginning that the city will not be held liable for any injuries. Furthermore, the city cannot move it, and Duane Crews added that “there ought to be some way to legally move it”.

    This had been on ongoing discussion/problem for at least the last two months, with council coming up with no real solution. Continuing discussion/monitoring of the problem is the only recourse at the present time.

    Fall festival planned

    City Secretary Wendy Bendy reminded council members about the Fall Festival on October 28 at First Baptist Church. The Community Center will be opened to serve chili cheese nachos for attendees. Hayrides and other activities are planned for the event.

    Bendy also announced that as of Sept. 14, City Hall is once again open to the public, and the check-free bill pay service is operational also.

    She advised that the CD’s at Citizens Bank have all matured, except for one. Bendy also reported during the water and sewer report that there were seven leaks, one sewer tap, two meter taps, three meters turned on and three meters turned off. She also reported that water lines on Steel Grove Road are being continuously broken by logging trucks. This issue is at a stalemate for now.

    The first reading of the fiscal year 2021 city budget was tabled, pending further discussion/review, as was the matter of the basketball goal.

  • Colmesneil suspends in-person learning

    Remote Learning graphicFILE PHOTO Remote Learning graphic

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – As of Monday, Colmesneil ISD will forgo all in-person learning until Jan. 5 of 2021.

    The announcement was issued on Friday by Superintendent Eldon Franco, who cited potential exposures to COVID-19 since Thanksgiving break. “The cases on campus have been very minimal and have not affected large numbers. Regardless, the process that we must follow, as dictated by state and local governments, creates a great deal of worry and stress for those both directly and indirectly involved,” Franco wrote in a letter addressed to parents and community members on Friday, Dec. 11.

    Franco said that the number of cases has surged in the community, and attributed it to outside sources, and that it was expected to occur due to holiday gatherings.

    At present, the COVID numbers, countywide, include 49 active residents who have tested positive from the PCR testing and 86 active tests from the rapid, or quick testing.

    In going to the remote mode of learning, all CISD students will still be expected to participate in remote learning for the remainder of the semester by using district-provided or personal devices to access instruction.

    Students are also expected to check-in with teachers each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, and breakfast and lunch will continue to be provided by the CISD cafeteria for pick-up from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    “Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy and continue the educational process,” Franco said.

    With the announcement that CISD will suspend its in-person learning, Colmesneil eatery The Rustic Grill announced that it will offer its facility and Wi-Fi capabilities to anyone in need. “We would like to help out. If you don’t have Wi-Fi at home to do virtual school please don’t hesitate to come here and do your work,” a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page stated.

    The Rustic Grill is typically closed on Mondays but will open its doors for anyone who needs to access the restaurant’s Wi-Fi to do schoolwork.

  • Councilman recognized for birthday and service

    NEWS Herb Branch photoCOURTESY PHOTO Woodville Mayor Paula Jones presents long-serving councilman Herbert Branch with a key to the city. Branch was recognized on Monday night for both his coming 90th birthday and his long, faithful service to the city.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Woodville Mayor Paula Jones began Monday evening’s regular meeting of the Woodville City Council with a proclamation to acknowledge the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    Along with the proclamation, Terry Allen, with the Tyler County Child Welfare Board was on hand with other volunteers from the CWB and spoke about the problem of child abuse as it affects the county.

    Allen said there are 31 children from Tyler County in foster care, and added that the pandemic has complicated the data, in her estimation, on how many children have died as a result of abuse or neglect.

    Branch honored with key

    Under the standing agenda item set aside for reporting community interest news, City Administrator Mandy Risinger announced a special “milestone” birthday approaching for a certain Woodville resident – longtime councilmember Herbert Branch. Branch will turn 90 next month.

    Jones presented Branch with a key to the city and a hearty thanks for his service to the city. Branch said he has lived in Woodville for 48 years and was appreciative for the gift. “That is so nice. Thank you very much,” he said.

    In other business on the brief agenda for Monday evening, the city approved the procurement of Lufkin firm Goodwin Lasiter Strong for engineering services for an upcoming CDBG program grant application.

    The grant cycles every two years, Risinger said, and the city will be applying for a street improvement project. One stipulation is that a grant administrator and engineer must be appointed, and Risinger said the city has utilized the firm’s services for past projects.

    A special meeting will take place this week to authorize the submission of the application.

  • Covid-19 regional update

    N2103P48004CFILE PHOTO Covid-19

    By ETxN Staff

    Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler Counties

    In the Trauma Service Area designated H, which includes Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler counties, the amount of hospital bed usage by COVID-19 patients is down to 10% as of Wednesday, April 21, according to figures from the state department of health services. 

    Of the ICU beds available, 14% are being used as of Wednesday by COVID-19 patients. 

    The figure for daily cases reported as of Wednesday was 13 and the cumulative totals for the trauma region are 11,591 cases reported since reporting began in 2020, and 698 total COVID-related fatalities.

    Since reporting of active cases ceased in early March, concurrent with the lifting of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate, Tyler County reported 1,213 total cases and 34 deaths since March of 2020 when the county’s first confirmed case was reported."

    Houston County

    According to emergency management coordinator Heath Murff, as of April 30, the total number of Covid vaccination doses that had been administered in the county was 10,431.

    He added, “6,500 of those have been first doses; 4,633 of those are fully vaccinated people.

    “Houston County Emergency Management has hosted three vaccinations clinics, and we have vaccinated 600 citizens.”

    Murff said DSHS staff members “used to give us information daily, as far as, how many cases we had, how many active cases we had, how many recoveries we had, all that kind of specific (information) for Houston County, and they quit doing that.”

    ET COVID CHART

    **More information for up-to-date numbers can be found at:

    https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83

     

  • Dogwood Festival: a look at its return in photos

    Dogwood Dash Winners GroupDogwood Dash Winners Group

    All photos by Jim Powers

    WOODVILLE – The 78th installment of the countywide Dogwood Festival was a success and drew large crowds for its third and final weekend, Queen’s Weekend.

    Sunnie Wilkinson, of Colmesneil, was crowned as the new Dogwood Queen to top off the festival, and a variety of events took place, with a great deal of family friendly fun to be found in Woodville.

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    The Dogwood Dash drew runners from all over the state on Saturday morning, and Jaycie Spann of Idalou, was the overall winner for the female runners with a time of 24:10.9 and Rex McGehee, also of Idalou, won in the male runners’ division, with a time of 19:43.6.

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    The overall theme of the festival was “We are Tyler County, a Celebration of the Beginning,” and the 175th anniversary of the county, which occurred on Friday, April 3, was celebrated within the historical play on Saturday night. Additionally, members of the Tyler County Historical Commission served as marshals of Saturday afternoon’s parade, which featured more than 100 entries.

  • Family of missing man hoping for clues

    Missing Man Thomas ThorntonCOURTESY PHOTO Thomas Thornton

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY – Family members of a missing Town Bluff man have spread the word through social media, and given descriptions, along with photographs, of the 72-year-old Thomas Thornton. Thornton has been missing for a little more than a month now.

    According to his family, Thornton is good-natured, likes to chat with people and has a distinctive, loud laugh. Like many men of his generation who saw combat in Vietnam, however, Thornton has a history of PTSD and a few other health issues that worry his concerned family members, since he did not take any of his medications with him.

    Thornton went missing on March 24, when he was last seen leaving his Town Bluff home around 6 p.m. to head to Jasper, where he used his debit card at Brookshire Bros. According to the timeline of Thornton’s last known whereabouts, which were gleaned from security cameras and cell phone pings, he was last on the grid on March 26, when his cell signal was pinged in Shelby County, but lost after that. It is surmised that his cell phone lost its charge, and that is when his family and the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department attempted to get a Silver Alert issued for him, which was activated two days later.

    The Silver Alert has since been discontinued, but Thornton’s family members are still asking the public to be on the lookout for the missing man. His niece Dana Lee Summerlin Hutto asked the public to check their hunting clubs and fish camps. “We are really hoping for some clues to lead us to him,” Hutto said.

    Hutto said her uncle, who has lived in Tyler County for more than 20 years, enjoys fishing and walking in the woods, and of primary concern, medically, is the fact that he is in the early stages of dementia, which has caused his family to fear for his wellbeing since he initially went missing.

    His sister, Norma Armstrong, said that her brother is dependent on his medications, and there is no evidence that he has had any of his meds since he took off. She also said that “Tommy,” as his family knows him, typically wears a baseball cap with a “Vietnam Veteran” patch on it, and usually sports T-shirts and carpenter-style blue jeans.

    He stands 5’7” tall and weighs 255 lbs. Thornton drives a dark grey 2017 Ford Edge with the Texas license plate number NJJ-8580. He also has blue eyes and a visible scar on his right arm.

    Hutto said the family is prepared for the worst but needs closure. Although there have been no updates in more than a month, she said that the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office has been nothing but caring and compassionate to the family during their ordeal. She praised the efforts of Sgt. Don Calhoon, deputy Travis Rice and Tracy Bump for working the case. Anyone with information regarding Thornton’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at 409-283-2172

    Hutto celebrated her birthday last week, and although she said she never asks for anything for her birthday, she wants to ask the public a “big favor,” and for people to be on the lookout for her uncle. She also said that if individuals work in, or visit, hospitals, nursing homes or homeless shelters, to be on the lookout for him and to spread the word.

  • Festival of the Arts kicks-off Dogwood

    1 Dulcimer 01JIM POWERS | PCPC FILE PHOTO Musicians as well as artisans will have their talents on display at the festival of the arts at Heritage Village on Saturday March, 20.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – A surefire sign that things are eking back into the way they should be in Tyler County is that the Dogwood Festival is upon us, as in starting this weekend.

    The festival will kick off with the Festival of the Arts on Saturday at Heritage Village, and it offers a prime opportunity for residents and visitors, alike, to celebrate the heritage and culture of the county, which will turn 175 years young on April 2, the day before the events of Queen’s Weekend, the final weekend of Dogwood.

    The Festival of the Arts was one of the first victims of the slew of COVID-19 cancellations last year, as the entire Dogwood Festival had to be rescheduled and relegated to a single Saturday in June. This year, however, it is business as usual, with the pandemic on a downhill slide and the growing availability of the vaccines.

    Tyler County Heritage Society President Sarah Reinemeyer said the Village, along with its staff, volunteers and the TCHS Board of Directors wishes to welcome the public back after last year’s absence. The festival is “a fine time to learn, have fun, and make memories,” Reinemeyer said. “We eagerly await your return and hail your good health.”

    The gates will open at the Village at 9 a.m., and the festivities last until 3 p.m. Admission is $5, and visitors can tour the Village, take in some live music from the Village Stage and enjoy a special Dogwood Festival exhibit, which is on display in the special exhibits room next to the gift shop.

    Along with all of the aforementioned features, there will be a quilt show. Reinemeyer said the Sassy Scrappers group have decorated the entire Village with lots of beautiful homemade quilts. “Each is an art work on its own,” she said. “Many with the family memory to make it more precious.”

    Although the traditional dinner-on-the-grounds that has long been a part of the Festival of the Arts has been cancelled this year, visitors will still be able to get some of the legendary food that the Pickett House puts out, including the restaurant’s famous fried chicken and chicken and dumplings.

    On Sunday, the Village Street Bed and Breakfast, located at 201 North Village Street in Woodville, will host its Royal Tea, to which all of the little princesses are cordially invited.

    The event lasts from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and offers the opportunity for young girls to meet the Royal Court and take photos with the princesses and the ladies-in-waiting and to make their own sash.

    Each of the girls who attends will also receive a crown of their own. Tickets are available at the door for $20.

    Mr. East Texas named

    In addition to the inaugural weekend for the Dogwood Festival, the customary honor of Mr. East Texas has been named. This year, Ben G. Raimer, MD, was awarded that title, as the festival’s executive director Buck Hudson announced on Monday.

    Raimer, a Warren High School grad (class of 1965) currently serves as the president ad interim of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He has held many appointments, honors and has earned many advanced degrees.

    Raimer is a member of the Texas Pediatric Society Executive Board and President-Elect of TPS. He serves as chair of the Texas Health Institute Board of Directors and the East Texas Baptist University Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and serves as a commissioner on the BGCT Christian Life Commission.

    Raimer served as chair of the Health and Human Services Commission Council for a term, appointed by then-Governor Rick Perry.

  • Festival to benefit special needs camp this weekend

    Shinyribs102220PHOTO COURTESY OF SHINYRIBS.ORG Kevin Russell of the popular Austin-based roots rockers Shinyribs will headline the annual Hogs and Strings event.

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY –This Saturday will provide area residents starved of entertainment and fun as of late (no thanks to COVID) a chance to have just those two things.

    The third annual Hogs and Strings cook-off and music festival is scheduled for this Saturday at the Indian Springs Camp, located near Kountze. The festival will feature a variety of sounds from some of the most popular musical acts across the state, and some from the region, as well as a barbecue cook-off.

    The gates will open at 10:30 a.m., and the price of admission for the event is $10 at the gate. Each ticket, according to the event website, enters the holder into a raffle with five chances to win some great prizes.

    The Indian Springs Campground is home to a special-needs camp, which allows children, wounded veterans and their families the chance to get back to nature through events such as hunting, camping and fishing.

    The origins of the came go back to 1985, when a dream was hatched to build a camp where inner city and underprivileged children could go and enjoy nature, according to the website, and it was built in 1987. In 1998, it was expanded to include programs for disabled children and veterans, and along with the help of Texas Parks and Wildlife, the camp began offering a hunting program.The event features a hog cook-off, and food sampler tickets will be available for festival goers.The music lineup features a variety of acts guaranteed to appeal to lovers of great tunes.

    Legendary singer/songwriter Walt Wilkins, who has blazed a path as an influential solo artist through the years, and led the band the Mystequeros, will perform.The popular roots rockers Shinyribs, led by Kevin Russell, will headline the event. Shinyribs’ fusion of cosmic American roots music has endeared them to audiences across the state, and beyond, and their energetic stage show is always a treat for listeners of all ages.The music schedule will also include a group of singer-songwriters playing in the round to kick off the entertainment at 11 a.m., and consists of Courtney Mock, Pug Johnson, Southpaw Smitty and David Pool. Regional favorite and guitar guru Tim Burge will also perform.

    The camp is located at 6106 Holland Cemetery Road in Kountze. Indian Springs Camp is a 501 c/3 non-profit organization, and all proceeds raised from the event will go toward the outreach the camp offers.

  • Flannery presented with TEA award

    Payton Flannery 111920CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Woodville High School senior Payton Flannery (left) was presented with the Student Hero citation from the Texas Education Agency. Matt Robinson from TEA (right) presented her with the award. It recognizes students in pre-kindergarten through high school who do outstanding volunteer service. One student from each of the 15 State Board of Education districts is recognized with the award. Flannery started a group at WHS called Eagles for Christ. Flannery is involved in a variety of other clubs and activities, including the WHS Interact chapter and Future Farmers of America.

  • Former NFL player, Crockett native drowns at Rayburn

    Pete Lammons trading card as a New York JetCOURTESY PHOTO Pete Lammons trading card as a New York Jet

    By Chris Edwards

    A man who drowned in Lake Sam Rayburn on Thursday was identified on Friday by authorities as that of Peter Spencer “Pete” Lammons, Jr., a 77-year-old Houston man who was once an NFL athlete.

    Lammons, who was reportedly an avid outdoorsman, was fishing in the Major League Fishing’s Toyota Tournament when the incident occurred on Thursday. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the drowning occurred near San Augustine Park, which is located on the east side of the lake, seven miles southwest of Pineland. The drowning in the second that has occurred in the region during this week. On Sunday, 18-year-old Richard Tyler Johnston, of Hemphill, drowned in Dam B.

    Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens recovered his body by using sonar, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, according to a press release from Major League Fishing. The accident occurred when Lammons fell overboard at the dock while preparing to fish in the tournament, according to MLF.

    Lammons was a native of Crockett and played football for Jacksonville High School in the late 1950s and early ‘60s before he matriculated to the University of Texas in Austin and played as a Longhorn. He was drafted as an eighth-round pick by the New York Jets in the 1966 AFL draft, according to ESPN, where he played as a tight-end through 1971. He finished his career as one of the Green Bay Packers in 1972.

    Pete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UTPete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UT

    Lammons was a starting defensive player on the Jets’ Super Bowl III championship team, and he was also a part of the UT 1963 national championship team under legendary coach Darrell Royal.

    Lammons also played for another legendary coach, Bum Phillips, as a high school freshman. Phillips was then head coach at Jacksonville High School. Years later, the two men met again on the sidelines of the 1967 AFL All-Star Game.

    According to Lammons’s nephew Lance, his uncle had been fatigued from two recent stent surgeries and tripped as he was about to board the boat, fell into the lake and could not be saved.

    After his football career, Lammons was involved in real estate and horse racing. He was also a professional angler, and had competed in more than 50 of the MLF tournaments.

    On a story about Lammons’s death on the New York Jets’ official website, his nephew is quoted as saying that “Pete wanted Jacksonville to have his Super Bowl ring and his National Championship ring from the University of Texas.”

    Lammons also has a scholarship named in his honor for Jacksonville HS graduates.