Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports


Free Press

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Danny Tyree Column headBy Danny Tyree

National Newspaper Week (October 1-7) compels me to acknowledge my journalistic catastrophe of fifth grade.

Based on my passion for reading Nashville’s two dailies, Miss Bunch handed me the plum assignment of launching a newspaper for our class.

I joyously composed articles of my own and proofread the contributions of classmates.

Alas, my mechanical ineptitude reared its ugly head and for the life of me, I couldn’t operate the mimeograph! So the project died without its first issue hitting the streets (er, aisles).

(My klutziness didn’t stop there. I couldn’t master the intricacies of a paperclip until junior high. And I didn’t learn to snap my fingers until I was taught by a girl I briefly dated in college. How appropriate! Because just like that – SNAP! – she apparently went into the Witness Protection Program.)

I don’t know that our newspaper would have changed the world, but I can’t help feeling melancholy about “the road not taken.”

Even a small class has its cliques and introverts, so we moved on to sixth grade still blissfully ignorant of many strengths and weaknesses of our peers.

Perhaps a poem or a joke or an opinion published in the ill-fated newspaper would have made us see each other in a different light. Who knows what new lifelong friendships might have been formed?

Maybe a “What I did on my summer vacation” essay would have inspired readers to travel to exotic places or do charitable work.

Considering five decades of classmates’ relocations, spring cleanings and house fires, I have no illusion that abundant copies of the periodical would have remained in existence.

But the few that survived would be such a priceless time capsule – offering contemporary accounts of who actually won the (foggily remembered) big game and preserving a wealth of slang, fads and predictions of which classmate would eventually become Mrs. David Cassidy.

The issues would be treasures to share with grandchildren. (Our staff artist wound up having 12 children, so if the newspapers weren’t already falling apart…! Truth be told, I had a secret crush on her. 12 children! I didn’t just dodge a bullet; I dodged the Manhattan Project!)

Some of the class members are deceased, so this supplement to our group photograph would be something to cherish. Equally poignant, one of the classmates suffered a head injury a few years ago and remembers nothing of his school years. He wasn’t exactly the sentimental type, but still… he would have options.

The lost opportunities of that long-ago newspaper fortify my belief in the importance of newspapers in 2023.

Yes, our fifth-grade class learned to think globally, but we tried to appreciate our immediate surroundings.

Nowadays, social media encourage citizens to become hyper-focused on a particular hobby and to consume “news” and opinion from a super-narrow sliver of the political spectrum.

Newspapers are produced by professionals who strive to present a wide range of activities, opportunities, problems and solutions that you might not stumble across if left to your own devices.

Yes, chat with a video-game player from half a world away. Listen to a podcast by pundits who share your worldview.

But keep local newspaper subscriptions “top of mind” when pondering gifts for the people in your life.

Even a fifth-grader could tell you that sometimes your neighbor really is the person who lives a few blocks away.

  • Hits: 694

Ashby reviews propositions 10 and 11

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Trent AshbyBy Rep. Trent Ashby
District 9 Representative

This week, I formally announced my intention to seek re-election as the State Representative for House District 9. As a lifelong East Texan, I have been proud to serve as a voice for the Deep East Texas region in the Texas House. Though we have achieved a great deal, I believe there is more work to be done to secure our southern border, support our teachers and students, cut property taxes, generate greater economic stability for local job creation, and preserve rural values and interests in a rapidly growing state. It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the folks of House District 9, and I am committed to continuing to provide effective conservative leadership to ensure our rural family values drive Texas forward.

With that, here’s this week’s Capitol Update …

This week we’ll dive into propositions 10 and 11 as we continue our weekly examination of propositions that will be on the ballot in November.

Proposition 10 would provide medical and biomedical manufacturers with an exemption from certain property taxes. As our state continues to grow, state leaders and lawmakers have made it a priority to reduce our reliance on foreign countries for essential goods. Proposition 10 seeks to advance this effort by creating an incentive for medical and biomedical manufacturing companies to operate here in Texas. You might be interested to know that most medical and biomedical manufacturing is located abroad, and the cost of shipping medical supplies to the U.S. has increased by over 50% since 2021. By reducing the tax burden on medical manufacturers located in Texas, we create an incentive for companies to relocate to Texas while also reducing the cost for consumers and creating thousands of Texas jobs.

Simply put, Proposition 11 does not impact our local communities in any way. This proposition adds El Paso County to the list of existing counties in the Texas Constitution that the legislature may authorize as a conservation and reclamation district for the purpose of developing and financing parks and other recreational facilities with certain tax revenue. Ultimately, this amendment provides for the issuance of bonds funded by taxes in districts located wholly, or partly, in El Paso County. To be clear, should this amendment pass, local voters in El Paso County would still have to vote to approve any proposed bond package, but this would in no way affect East Texas or any other Texas county.

The mobile office is on the road again and our district director will look forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: Oct. 11 at the Polk County Commissioners Courtroom in Livingston from 9-11 a.m. or the Tyler County Commissioner Courtroom in Woodville from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Oct. 18 at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9-11 a.m. or the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at 936-634-2762 and our Capitol office at 512-463-0508. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my official Facebook page, where I will post regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and share information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

  • Hits: 921

Politicians gonna politic, and we pay that bill

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas

Probably to no one’s surprise, Congress pulled out a hail-Mary vote that passed a stop-gap funding measure so the government wouldn’t shut down.

Also to no one’s surprise, both sides of the “debate” — Democrats and Republicans — are completely unhappy with the results.

Yet, the taxes roll in, and the taxes roll out.

Democrats are upset, based on news that President Biden got cranky as well as other interviews, because this measure did not include any additional funds for the Ukraine war, I guess because the party of inclusion gets upset when its intentions to kill get thwarted.

Republicans are upset because the Ukrainian funds were stripped, but only to be dealt with later — separately and alone. They’re calling for the head of puppet Speaker Kevin McCarthy for allowing it to happen.

I have several questions, though, but I’ll start with the MacGuffin of week, in which Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York, who claimed he needed to get to the House floor for the vote, pulled a fire alarm in his attempt to get through a security door.

I’ll skip the arguments here, and just say that if an elected official thinks pulling a fire alarm will open a door, then is it any wonder that our government is wackadoodle?

Late Saturday, the Senate passed the bill, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas voting against it.

This is just the latest in a series of continuing resolutions that have been passed keeping the government afloat, and yet another year goes by without the country operating on a budget. Not that it matters much, anyway; any budget that would be considered would still be deficit spending and still require more and more debt.

It still puzzles me that very few of the politicians on the Hill understand that this kind of reckless spending is a slow-motion train wreck, and that it cannot be sustained. Still, the leaders of this country continue to seek more funds to pay for more projects and programs, with no end in sight.

It’s probably a good thing that economics and fiscal management aren’t really stressed in schools anymore, because anyone with even the most basic understanding of finance would see that government spending is one of the most foolish things ever.

I say foolish because of its sheer scope, as well as the fact that quite a few things being funded really are not something in the purview of the federal government.

There needs to be a reckoning. There needs to be voices of reason that actually make a dent in monolithic spending. I think that all federal programs need to be shut down, or at least put on pause, until its spending and constitutionality are examined. If it doesn’t cut the mustard in either case, it needs to be abandoned.

In order for our country to continue to prosper, there has to be sustainable, believable and most especially legal funding of the government, and before it gets repossessed by whomever is holding the notes.


Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Hits: 774

Death by misadventure

Write a comment

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Chris MetitationsBy Chris Edwards

In 1969, Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones’ shaggy-haired, mercurial guitarist was found dead in a swimming pool. The ruling: “death by misadventure.”

Oh, how those Brits have a way with euphemisms. In the United Kingdom, that phrase is used to describe an accidental death caused by a risk taken of one’s own volition. Theories abound as to what actually happened to Jones, but an autopsy revealed his death occurred while he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Americans know sadly, and all-too-well, the dangers of death by misadventure, even if that phrase does not appear on coroners’ post-mortem findings here, and although our fair share of glamorous rock stars have met untimely ends due to substance(s), the problem knows all ages, income tax brackets and other demographic signifiers.

Every generation, it would seem, has a problem linked to a certain drug, and this generation, it would seem, has the deadliest one of them, yet, yoked around its neck: fentanyl.

It is an issue that mars all corners of our country, but Texas has an especially pressing problem with the substance. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that fentanyl-related overdoses in our state rose by 399% between 2019 and 2021.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is often mixed with drugs such as heroin. One source stated that the drug was the cause of more than 5,000 fatal Texan overdoses in from 2021 to 2022. Experts claim that the drug is 50 times more potent than heroin, and sadly, many of those 5,000+ deaths appear that the users were unaware they were ingesting fentanyl.

In a perfect world, people would not feel the need to obtain a good feeling via synthetic means that might harm, but as we know, that utopia does not exist, and people want to feel high, often at the expense of their health.

There’s no crime in wanting to feel a “high,” whatever that might entail. People are going to pursue an elevated state, whether that comes from driving too fast; eating insanely spicy foods; bungee jumping or however one gets one’s kicks. Sadly, some do so by turning to illicit substances.

As many times as a parental figure, or someone with caution in mind, might implore one to proceed with extreme caution, we all know that people are going to do what they’re gonna do; lessons learned the hard way. The “Just Say No” rhetoric of Nancy Reagan’s era does not work for everyone.

The problem with fentanyl is that lesson is often fatal. As more of the drug pours into our state, more unnecessary deaths will occur. The drug is odorless and tasteless, which makes detection almost impossible without specialized equipment, such as testing strips.

In today’s hyper-partisan climate of the country’s two biggest street gangs bickering back and forth, anything labelled “bipartisan” seems about as rare as finding eyebrows on eggs. One thing that both the red and blue tribes can agree on is that fentanyl is an enormous problem.

This year, our lawmakers failed constituents on a measure that could prevent overdoses and save lives. A bill that would have legalized fentanyl testing strips passed the lower chamber, yet died in the Senate, despite support from Gov. Greg Abbott. The testing strips are classified as drug paraphernalia, at present.

The War on Drugs has been an enormous failure, with untold billions of dollars poured into punitive measures regarding dangerous drugs. Instead of this measure, basing drug policy on a moral model, emphasis needs to be placed on harm reduction, which such practices as legalizing fentanyl testing strips works toward.

There is nothing inherently “moral” or “immoral” about using drugs, and those who choose to use them deserve fundamental human rights, including, above all, the right to live.

Policymaking based on fear and mythologies needs to be replaced with evidence-based approaches in the name of harm reduction, education and keeping people healthy and safe.

Along with measures such as legalized testing strips, the state should enact a “Good Samaritan” policy, where someone can call 911, if they suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, without any fear of arrest or subsequent prosecution. Access to Narcan, a drug which can reverse an opioid overdose, should also be increased.

People will get their kicks however they choose to do so, but there are ways the risks can be mitigated. Prevention cannot exist if there is no attention given to harm reduction.

  • Hits: 1010

If you don’t participate, then don’t complain

1 Comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

From The Editors Desk Emily WootenWhat do you think are the most pressing issues facing Polk County? What do you think the priorities for Polk County should be? Do you value quality of life over economic growth or vice versa? Or are they equally important in your mind?

There are myriad issues of importance – health care, education, infrastructure, affordable housing, public transportation, recreation, shopping, dining. But what should be the primary focus? Now is your chance to contribute and share your thoughts. You and I have the opportunity to identify priorities, foster collaboration, create inclusive solutions, drive economic growth and enhance quality of life. And it couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is take a quick survey at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.county.news

The strategic planning process presently underway is a collaborative effort aimed at developing a comprehensive county-wide strategic plan. This plan will serve as a roadmap to guide the collective vision and goals for Polk County. It will outline the aspirations, priorities and strategies to enhance various aspects of the community, including economic growth, public services, infrastructure development and more.

This is a tremendous opportunity. Each one of us is being given a platform to share our views on what local priorities should be, to plan for the future and to help create policy.

There are three different surveys. One is geared toward residents, one is geared toward business owners and one is specifically for elected officials and government staff members. Business owners and entrepreneurs can provide insights that will shape strategies for economic growth, job creation and a thriving business environment. Residents’ perspectives on public services, recreation, transportation and environmental concerns will guide efforts to enhance the overall quality of life in Polk County. Elected officials and government staff members play a pivotal role in implementing policies and initiatives. Their input will facilitate collaboration and innovative solutions for a progressive county.

Participation in the strategic planning process is easy and impactful. You may complete one or all three of the surveys tailored to your role and perspective. Diverse viewpoints will enable the development of solutions that cater to a wide range of needs, fostering inclusivity and unity within the county. Input will help to identify the most pressing issues and prioritize them effectively to address the core concerns of the community.

The surveys are simple to follow and take very little time, yet they can impact all our futures. Your contribution matters. Engage in the process and encourage your friends, family and coworkers to participate as well. Together, we can create a strategic plan that truly represents the aspirations of our entire community. Let’s work together to build a brighter future for Polk County.

  • Hits: 1282