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Trustee escapes

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061222 trustee escapesJames Tad Wheeler Jr.A trustee has escaped from the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office after walking away from the jail while on work detail.

The incident occurred Thursday at approximately 9:55 p.m. Inmate James Tad Wheeler Jr., 36, is described as a white male, approximately 6-foot tall and 180 pounds. Wheeler has sandy blond or light brown hair.

He was last seen wearing a bright green t-shirt and black and white striped uniform pants. Wheeler is in jail for multiple felony thefts, multiple burglaries, engaging in organized criminal activity, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Those with information on Wheeler’s whereabouts are urged to contact the sheriff’s office at 936-634-3331.

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Texas tribes win Supreme Court case

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SylestineRicky Sylestine, chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas

By Emily Banks Wooten
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The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its ruling in a case brought by the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, a tribe in El Paso, related to electronic bingo on federally recognized tribal lands in Texas. Because the Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas had their federal recognition restored in the same act of congress, the Court’s decision impacts the Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe equally.  

In a 5-4 decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that federal law does not prohibit gaming on tribal lands if that type of gaming is not prohibited by state law. Therefore, because the two tribes offer electronic bingo, and bingo is not prohibited under Texas law, the Court vacated an earlier decision from the Fifth U.S. Circuit saying that the tribes could not offer electronic bingo. Wednesday’s decision sends the case back to the Fifth Circuit.

“The Court’s decision is an affirmation of tribal sovereignty and a victory for the Texas economy. The highest court in the land has made clear that our tribe has the right to legally operate electronic bingo on our reservation, just as we have the past six years,” Ricky Sylestine, chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas’ Tribal Council, said.

The issue before the court was whether the two tribes can offer electronic bingo under a federal law known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has offered electronic bingo at Naskila Gaming for the last six years. Some 700 jobs are tied to Naskila Gaming, making this case extremely consequential for the East Texas economy.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in February from Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and from the State of Texas, which has argued that Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas do not have the authority to offer electronic bingo on their reservations. 

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LPD looking for suspect

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061222 looking for suspect

An investigation is underway at the Livingston Police Department from a theft that occurred at a local business. The subject in the photograph is a person of interest in that investigation. Those with information on the identity or location of this individual are asked to contact the Livingston Police Department at 936-327-3117 and reference case number 220503347.

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Tribe to hold celebration

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06092 tribe to celebrate

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has announced its plans for their annual Independence Day Celebration.

This year’s event will be Saturday, July 2 at the Alabama Coushatta Ball Park. The park is approximately 16 miles east of Livingston off Highway 190.

Admission to the celebration is free and brought to you by the Alabama-Coushatta Volunteer Fire Department and the Scenic Loop Volunteer Fire Department.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. to kick off the festivities. The lineup begins with games and trivia that will occur 5-7 p.m. The tribal dancers are set to entertain at 7 p.m.
Brian Jack and the Zydeco Gamblers take the stage at 8 p.m. and fireworks will light the Polk County sky at 9:30 p.m.

Those looking to become a food or arts and crafts vendor may contact the tribe at 936-563-1120 or 936-563-1131. There is a limit of seven vendors of each, and are first come, first served. Food vendors must have a food handler’s certificate to turn in with the application.

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Reduction in citations during Memorial Day weekend seen

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060522 boating safetyGame wardens stress to always wear life jackets while boating. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

Texas Game Wardens issued fewer boating-related citations over Memorial Day weekend than they did in 2021. They cited increased boating safety awareness and patrols by game wardens and other marine safety officers as contributors to a drop in incidents.

Between Friday and Monday, 352 game wardens conducted 10,218 safety checks on vessels, issuing 62 fewer citations than they did the year before. Texas Game Warden Colonel Chad Jones attributed this decrease to factors including expansion of boating safety awareness outreach.

“First off, I want to commend those who conducted themselves safely and responsibly over what is always a busy weekend,” he said. “Our game wardens have really focused on increasing boating safety awareness over the past year, and I think we are starting to see the fruits of that effort. Combined with our patrols on Texas rivers, lakes and coastal bays, we saw a general reduction in cases over the weekend.”

Game wardens did, however, respond to 15 boating accidents and six drownings that occurred on waterbodies including the Rio Grande, Lake Sommerville, Grapevine, Blanco River, Cedar Creek Lake and Lake Buchanan.

“Unfortunately, drownings and deaths on the water are a painful reality our game wardens must contend with over holiday weekends,” Jones said. “So, while we are proud of the progress we’ve made in awareness of safe boating practices, we know we must continue our work to see people return home safely.”

This year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launched new social media channels focused on water safety. Game wardens attended outreach events including Houston Boat Show, Poteet Strawberry Festival, Duck’s Unlimited and Mayfest, and used other digital media tactics to broaden awareness, said Boater Education Manager Kimberly Sorensen.

“With boating season in full swing, we encourage all boaters to take the boater education course,” Sorensen said. “Boater education is required for anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993. If you are a new boater, learn the required safety equipment for your boat, use your engine cut off switch, avoid alcohol while boating and be aware of carbon monoxide even on open-air motorboats.”

Over the weekend, game wardens rescued capsized boaters, including at Lake Nasworthy, where they pulled 13 people from the water, and Lake Lewis, where some of the 16 rescued from choppy waters were not wearing life jackets, and instead were clinging to their overturned boat while waiting for help.

They also worked a cliff-jumping injury that resulted in a broken femur, broke up a fight at a swimming area and a hunting without consent case for a pronghorn killed in Sherman County, among other incidents.

For more information about water safety, visit www.tpwd.texas.gov.

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