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April: Alcohol Awareness Month

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AlcoholandDrugAbuse CouncilFor more than forty years, Gary’s life has revolved around alcohol. It has adversely impacted every aspect of his life: his wife has left him, his children seldom speak to him, he struggles keeping a job, and now his health is failing. Over the years, Gary has tried and failed time and time again to stop. Now he feels it’s pointless to even try to quit anymore. “I’ve failed in the past, why would today be any different?”

This story has become increasingly common. It may even be your story or the story of a close friend or relative. Alcohol dependence is a serious problem that negatively impacts the lives of those who live each day dependent on alcohol to make it through the day. The negative effect of alcohol goes far beyond the damage to body organs such as the liver, stomach, esophagus, and intestines. It also negatively impacts your ability to work and play and have meaningful relationships. The truth is, if you’re alcohol dependent, your story does not have to end in despair. There is hope for healing and help for restoration. Everyday thousands of people begin on the road of recovery and today could be the start of a new path in life for you.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month which is a public health initiative supported by the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas as a way of increasing outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. The purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month is to draw attention to the stigma that still surrounds alcoholism and substance abuse in general. For many, denial is a common trait among those that are ensnared by alcoholism or alcohol abuse. Those that struggle with alcohol often underestimate how often they drink, how much they drink, it’s impact on their life, and their level of addiction.

The consumption of alcohol is often normalized within our culture. However, while advertisers attempt to put a positive spin on alcohol, there are adverse effects from alcohol consumption. Alcohol in all forms (beer, wine, and liquor) contain Ethanol (ethyl-alcohol) which is toxic to the human body. This is why the body experiences “hangovers” as a warning that it has been poisoned and is struggling to recover.

Ultimately, the worst part is the development of a dependence to alcohol. Once the misuse of alcohol takes hold, even though one may realize the damage that is being caused due to the consumption of alcohol, they may still feel compelled to continue drinking and remain on a path of destruction. At this point the brain has been reprogramed to consumed alcohol…regardless. However, it is never too late. There is a way and a road to recovery.

Today would be the perfect day to turn your life around and to take your life down a new path. There are people willing to walk with you and to show you there is a way out of alcoholism and substance misuse. Begin today by reaching out to ADAC and calling (936) 634-5753. You CAN do it.

Connor Gilbertson
Public Relations Coordinator
Region 5 Prevention Resource Center
Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council

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3 27 fire

The Alabama-Coushatta Volunteer Fire Department and the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department responded to a woods fire on both sides of FM 942 just east of the Ollie Community at 8:46 p.m. March 19. The Texas Forest Service sent a crew to assist. The Polk County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office assisted with traffic control. The fire was out around 10:10 p.m. Courtesy photo

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Chesswood dedication

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RIBBON CUT  Assisted by his wife, Clara, Col. Howard Daniel Jr., pastor of Chesswood Baptist Church, cuts the ribbon to the new church building following a dedication ceremony Thursday. The ceremony was held one year to the day that the church burned down.  Photo by Emily Banks WootenRIBBON CUT Assisted by his wife, Clara, Col. Howard Daniel Jr., pastor of Chesswood Baptist Church, cuts the ribbon to the new church building following a dedication ceremony Thursday. The ceremony was held one year to the day that the church burned down. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

Community celebrates new building following fire

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Turning to Scripture, “Beauty for ashes … that He might be glorified,” was the theme of a ceremony Thursday in which the congregation of the Chesswood Baptist Church dedicated its new building one year to the day after it burned down.

Members of the community turned out Thursday for the ceremony that included prayer, songs, readings and remarks.

“After the fire, someone said to my wife, ‘I heard your church burned down,’ and she said, ‘Oh no ma’am, the building burned but the church is still alive,’” Col. Howard Daniel Jr., pastor of the church, said of his wife, Clara.

“My go-to guy is Frank Burrows. He is the best general contractor in Polk County. My next go-to guy is Homer. I guess you wonder how in the world we got this up in a year. It was done on handshakes. Forget about contracts and small print. No one could believe that this was ashes right where we are now. I was sad on one hand but rejoicing on the other,” Daniel said.

“‘You wanted to get the parking lot done. You wanted to get the driveway done. How I do it is not your business,’” Daniel said that God said to him. “We found the plans for the original building in the rubble. You can’t tell me that’s not God. Joy comes in the morning. Beauty from ashes.”

Music was provided by Donna Moody and Gigi Jones. Poems written by Clara Daniel were read by Rena Hagler. Scripture was read by Don McCain. Prayers were provided by John Van Lieshout and Eddie Brooks.

Following the dedication ceremony, tours of the new building were given prior to everyone meeting at Lone Star Charlie’s for refreshments and more fellowship.

Nearly 70 local and area firefighters battled the blaze that reportedly began around 10 a.m. on the morning of March 24, 2021 at the church located on Hwy. 59 between Livingston and Goodrich.

There were no injuries but the building was engulfed in flames for several hours. The fire was thought to have begun in the annex or fellowship hall, with faulty wiring believed to be a possibility.

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Light is the best disinfectant

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Donnis Baggett TPADonnis Baggett
Texas Press Association

Editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent once penned a masterful sketch of a newspaperman — a skinny, bug-eyed fellow in a baggy suit with a press card in the band of his porkpie hat.

The unnamed journalist was depicted in the simple act of entering a dark room at city hall and switching on a light. The cartoon had no caption. It didn’t need one. In your mind’s eye you could see cockroaches scurrying for cover.

Sargent’s message to Austin American-Statesman readers was clear and timeless: Light is the best disinfectant, and nothing shines light on the activities of government like a newspaper. That’s especially true in this era of real-time news coverage, instantaneous online commentary and partisan electronic echo chambers. 

Governments today are larger, more pervasive and more powerful than any time in our history. Fortunately for those of us who believe in self-governance, newspapers are still around. And they're the best source for information on how government spends your money and what government plans to do to you. That’s because newspapers still cover the behind-the-scenes goings-on at city hall and not just the horse-race aspect of political campaigns. It’s also because newspapers are still the home of public notices, and some of the most important journalism in your newspaper arrives in the form of public notices.

Public notices are mandatory announcements of what a governmental body plans to do or what it has already put into motion. They are not universally popular among government officials. Public notices are printed in newspapers — the civic journals of their communities —because they’re required under scores of laws passed over the past two centuries. The idea behind those public notice laws was to foster transparency to keep government open and accountable.

If you're a parent and you need to know ahead of time that the school district is drawing up new school attendance zones, you should appreciate public notices. The law requires the district to print that plan in a newspaper. Without even knowing you should look, you can stumble across new information on where Little Johnny may be attending school next year while sipping your latte and reading the morning paper. You become aware of this important development in your family’s existence whether or not you follow the superintendent’s social media posts. If you don’t like what you see, you can take action to oppose it.

If you’re a taxpayer and you want to learn out about property tax rates planned for next year before they’re passed,  you can appreciate public notices. State law requires cities, counties and school districts to notify you of their intentions before tax rates are set in stone. How? In a public notice printed in the newspaper.

And if you’re a property owner like the folks of Fayette County, you’d appreciate knowing if an out-of-town company is seeking a permit to dump Austin sewage sludge in a field beside the Colorado River. A modest legally required public notice in the Fayette County Record brought that plan to light. It didn’t pass the smell test with citizens, and they raised a stink with state officials. The permit application was quickly withdrawn.

Public notices in newspapers get noticed. When they do, readers may decide to share a thought or two with the officials involved. Let’s face it: those officials’  jobs would be ever-so-much less stressful if they didn’t have to interact with upset voters who pay the taxes that fund their paychecks. Some officials are particularly galled that state law requires them to pay newspapers to publish these notices. They complain to legislators that it’s a waste of money — that the notices could simply be posted on the governmental entity's website without paying newspapers to spread the news.

Their argument doesn’t mention the fact that public notice rates are among the lowest charged by newspapers. It also fails to note that creating, operating and maintaining a government-public notice site would also cost taxpayers money. And it conveniently ignores the immense watchdog value of a newspaper serving as an independent, verifiable and archived third-party source for these important notices. 

Today, newspapers are making their notices more visible than ever, and it doesn’t cost the taxpayer an extra dime. In addition to printing the notices for a fee, Texas publishers make public notice information available at no extra charge online. Citizens can even sign up at no charge to electronically receive notices by subject matter and by jurisdiction.

A few months ago, the state of Florida updated its public notice laws by requiring newspapers to provide this additional electronic service for public notices at no additional charge. But only eight weeks after the new law went into effect, the Florida legislature backtracked. It passed another law allowing governmental entities to post notices on their own government websites and bypass newspapers altogether. In doing so, the state of Florida legalized the concept of the fox guarding the henhouse.

If you think that sort of thing can’t happen in Texas, think again. Like Texas, Florida is a conservative state with voters who want to hold government accountable. That’s a good thing. But some overeager legislators committed to cutting taxes, supporting local control and promising to “work with” local officials can be misled by a local official's suggestion to eliminate newspaper notices and put the money into pothole repair. That, combined with the reckless labeling of all traditional media as “fake news,” means a toxic environment for newspapers that have faithfully served their communities for a century or longer.

Not only should government not be in the business of disseminating their own public notices; government shouldn’t want to. By handling the publication, verification, distribution and archiving of official notices, newspapers keep government from serving as its own publisher, distributor, certifier of the record and archivist. By handling public notices, newspapers give government officials legal protection from accusations of releasing incomplete or untimely information  — or of surreptitiously changing the record for the officials’ convenience. 

So it comes down to this: if you want to know what’s going on in your hometown, tell your local officials and your legislators to keep public notices in newspapers. It’s the civically healthy thing to do.

Don’t risk waking up one morning to the aroma of something foul being spread in your neighborhood.

Donnis Baggett is executive vice president of the Texas Press Association. TPA represents some 400 Texas newspapers, including this one. TPA campaigns in Austin for open records, open meetings, public notices and government accountability. Baggett may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Copyright © 2022 Texas Press Association. All rights reserved.
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Time with family - Livingston instructor wins championship at Rodeo Houston

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Grady Tinker (middle) and partner Raymond Martinez (right) are shown with Dave Wolfe (left), president of Ranch Sorting National Championships.Grady Tinker (middle) and partner Raymond Martinez (right) are shown with Dave Wolfe (left), president of Ranch Sorting National Championships.By Brian Besch
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Grady Tinker needed a good score at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Competing in ranch sorting, there were 100 other teams looking to better him. But they weren’t the main competition — that would be in his home.

His wife, who is a nurse at Leggett ISD, and son, a graduate of Livingston High, also competes with and against him. Successful on his seventh try in Houston, it was mandatory Tinker achieve this goal or face plenty of razzing at home. 

His wife, Krystal, won a buckle in Houston three years ago, and he has been chasing her ever since. In the past, Tinker has won National Finals Champion of the Ranch Sorting National Championships, so he may hold bragging rights for now.

“We’ve been doing this about 10 years — my wife and me. It’s taken me 10 years to get that,” Tinker said pointing at his shiny, new belt buckle. “It is hard. The cows are always tough at Houston.”

Tinker said rodeo has been part of his life since riding calves as a 5-year-old. After graduating his senior year at Lamar High School in Arlington, Tinker joined the Army, starting a 25-year career. He retired in Polk County, where his wife has called home. 

Interest in the sport from the couple began when friends told them about ranch sorting. The event has a 60-foot round pen with two sides, making a figure eight. The middle is called the gate, yet it is not a physical gate. It is an opening that joins the two pins with a 12-foot separation. Calves are numbered from 0 to 9 with a couple of blanks. There are 60 seconds on the clock and a number gets called. The calves then must be shuttled through from that number in sequenced order.

With 10 heads of calves and three rounds, Tinker and his partner, Raymond Martinez, registered a perfect 30 score and beat the field by a five-second interval.

Tinker’s father was a foreman on a ranch, allowing him to grow up around horses and cattle. Yet, he had to learn the sport, putting in three years of work to become competitive. He goes to many events on weekends, traveling two or three hours to reach a destination and practice his craft.

“It’s a family sport. There are kids probably five, six or seven years old that do this,” he said. “Grandparents do this; it is all ages. It is one of the sports out there that is really family oriented. 

“You have to have your horses taken care of and medically taken care of, and then you have to turn around and get yourself physically fit and mentally fit to go in there. You have to correct the mistakes that you are making because it is a sport where the least amount of mistakes is what puts you into the winner’s circle. 

Tinker said he chose the event because any age group can participate. He said competitors take part into their 80s.

“Those guys and gals will put it on you, because they have been doing it for so long. It is about reading cows. You have to be able to move the horse, but you also have to know how to read the cow and outthink where that cow is going to go or what pressure you need to put. Some of those people that have been doing it 30 or 40 years will go in and school you real quick.”

Buckles, jackets, saddles or prize money are all fantastic perks, but it is time with family that is the real goal.

“It is the family time and something that is competitive that we can have fun with. My wife and I can spend time together, and then my son can go with us and that is what makes the sports so enjoyable.”

Tinker, a military science instructor at Livingston ISD, said he wants the students in his program to learn from his experiences in sorting. 

“All through life, you never stop being competitive at whatever you are doing. At the end of the day, it is how you mesh with other people. It is not about winning a buckle; it is about the commitment that you make with something. That is with an educational goal, going further in some type of sport or something similar. I want them to see that it never stops and that you can go out and reach your goals in anything you want to do.”

The course Tinker teaches is a lesson in leadership and how to interact with others. The lessons are something from which all students could benefit. 

“You learn how to have honor, courage and commitment. That is the cornerstone behind anything that we do in life. What I am looking for in the term leadership is young people — when they graduate high school — that are goal oriented, driven and that they have commitments. They know that it takes hard work to go out there and earn things. You always go out and work like a team with people you are working for, whether they are under you, peers of you, or over you.

His students are all JROTC, but only around 3-5% contract with the military. Tinker says he receives phone calls regularly from his students’ employers who rave about their commitment and working as a team.

“They hear military science and it kind of gets a bad rap in a way,” Tinker said of the class. “People look at it and think, ‘That is only for people that are going to the military.’ It’s not. It teaches so many things that are going to prepare you. There is a lot of kids that miss out on this program because they look at it and think that they have to wear uniform, but that is just a tiny portion of what our program is about. It is more teaching you how to lead, how to work as a team, and teaching you how to work hard to accomplish things.

“I have a senior that is graduating this year. She got accepted to McNeese (University in Lake Charles, Louisiana,) for a music scholarship. She is never going to do the military thing. That school, when I wrote an endorsement letter for her and summarized all of her leadership from the time that she came into the program as a sophomore, they said, ‘We want you because you are going to bring some leadership to our team.’ That is what carried weight for her, and that is not going to be anything military.”

When Tinker arrived, there were 30 students in the class. This year, there were 80 enrolled at the high school with another 30 at the junior high.

“We tried to make this a place where everybody can feel like this is family. You can count on the person left and right and front and back, so that when you make mistakes you can grow and learn from them. You pass that on to the lowerclassmen before you graduate. Most of my seniors I put into director positions and are like my direct assistants, and at that point, should have learned how to develop a team. They should be able to take a group of people and work out all of their issues.”

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