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By Brian Besch
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.”
By Emily Banks Wooten
Thanks to the support of the local community as well as his friends and former classmates who raised $50,000, the newly endowed Don Wilson Glenn African American Playwright Scholarship at the University of Texas has been created and the first scholarship will be awarded in 2023. An annual playwrighting competition in Glenn’s name is being sponsored by the UT Department of Theatre and Dance and will determine each year’s scholarship recipient. Glenn will serve as a judge on the competition panel.
Born and raised in Livingston, Glenn is an award-winning African American playwright of Native American descent from the Apalachicola Band of Creek Indian Tribe of East Texas. A 1984 graduate of Livingston High School, Glenn went to the state finals at UT as a senior drama student with a play in which he adapted and starred. He has continued his passion for theater arts in the 38 years since, with no signs of stopping.
“The UT-Austin scholarship idea originated with Ryan Stubbs during the beginning of the 2020 pandemic. Ryan then graciously invited a few LHS friends to share in his vision of getting the scholarship endowment funded,” Jessica Dunn Guilbeau, a member of the scholarship committee and a classmate of Glenn’s, said.
“Basically, we were a group of 1980s close-knit LHS childhood friends who were very proud of Don’s lifetime of work in the theater arts. As kids of the 1980s, we all grew up in a loving community with both shared and diverse experiences, who, over the years, no matter where we lived, no matter where life took us, we somehow managed to remain lifelong friends. In a nutshell, Ryan invited the group to share in his vision and everyone was excited to help in any way they could,” Guilbeau said.
“Laura Walker was the chairperson who kept us focused and on track. Sadly, in June 2021, we lost Donna Cryer Lawson, who was an integral member of the group. She was a voice of reason who always weighed in with the right suggestions for our success. After her loss, we decided to continue on in her honor,” Guilbeau said.
In addition to Stubbs, Guilbeau, Walker and Lawson (in memoriam), other members of the scholarship committee are Kimberly Camp Orr and Kimberly Robertson Jackson. An interesting note that Guilbeau shared is that everything was electronically accomplished by Zoom meetings, Gofundme, Facebook and word of mouth.
“We had lots of hits and a few misses, yet the group persevered with Don’s blessing and got the job done,” Guilbeau said.
Listening to the life stories of the multi-generational matriarchs of his family as a youth, Glenn gained inspiration and began writing “American Experience” plays that he hopes bless, encourage and entertain his audiences.
With extensive theater credentials, Glenn received the 2002 AUDELCO Award for Excellence in Black Theatre for “American Menu,” receiving Best Playwright, Best Director, Best Ensemble Cast and Best Dramatic Production of the Year. He received the 2003 Outer Critic Award Nominee for American King Umps.
He received the 2019 Mario Fratti & Fred Newman Political Play Award for his play “American Summer Squash: Katrina 2005 Raw.” Additionally, he was the 2020-2021 season recipient of the Meyer Memorial Trust-Oregon Cultural Trust and the Cultural Coalition for his winning proposal of “Troy USA,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida that he co-authored with Dmae Roberts. It will open in the Summer of 2022.
One of Glenn’s current works in progress is “Walking through Portland with a Panther, The life of Mr. Kent Ford, All Power to the People,” a one-man show based on the life and times of Kent Ford, the leader of the Portland, Ore. Chapter of the Black Panther Party from the 60’s through the early 80’s. It will open in the Spring of 2022 at the Vanport Mosaic Festival in Portland.
Another of his works in progress is “Martha Bakes: A biography of a Revolution and Insurrection that never Happened,” a one-woman show that takes a satirical lens to American Colonial HerStory. Part historical biography and part cooking show, the audience is invited into the relationship between Martha Washington, the original First Lady, and her dower slave Oney Marie Judge during an imagined slave revolt on Mount Vernon. The play begins with Martha, the fresh widow of George Washington, socially distancing herself during a fictitious slave uprising on Mount Vernon. The slaves have learned the contents of George’s will declaring that the over 350 enslaved bodies on the plantation are to be set free –upon the death of Martha. Enduring her newfound circumstances with a pleasant disposition, Martha bakes a three-course meal during the revolt as she barricades herself in the kitchen, and with each preparation reflects on her influential role with scant representation in the creation of the nation.
“That the suffrage and abolition movements are not always easy bedfellows echo the legacies of racism, sexism and voter suppression that our nation is still struggling to unpack today,” Glenn said. It will open during the 2022-2023 season.
His work has been produced in theaters across the country, including the Woodie King Jr. New Federal Theatre, Mrs. Gertrude Jeannette’s H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players, Theater For The New City, PassinArt Theatre Company and Vanport Mosaic Producer Damaris Webb.
Glenn received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He has served as the President and Artistic Director of the Angelina Community Theater in Lufkin.
From Enterprise Staff
A Livingston man is in the Polk County Jail after a teenager suffered a gunshot Thursday.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a shooting near Newberry Drive, in the Indian Springs subdivision.
Sheriff’s office deputies arrived on scene and located the victim sitting on the side of the roadway. Tylor Smith, 18, of Livingston sustained a gunshot wound to his lower leg and was taken by EMS to the Livingston Hospital for treatment.
The suspect was identified as 57-year-old Maurice Scott, also of Livingston. Scott was quickly located and deputies were able to take him into custody without incident. He is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, The case is still under investigation at this time.
Those with information in reference to this case are asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810.
Congratulations to Natalie Bachynsky, (center) nurse practitioner and owner of Houston County Family Medical Clinic in Crockett, TX. She is the big winner of our easttexasnews.com app download contest. The contest took place during the month of February, and the drawing was held live on March 1. The prize package, worth over $1200, includes a two night stay at Moody Gardens resort in Galveston, a family four pack of tickets to several Moody Gardens attractions, $100 gift card from Moody Gardens, and a $25 gift certificate to Gypsy Joynt in Galveston. Pictured with Natalie are Brandy Jones, left, graphic designer at the Houston County Courier newspaper, and Kelli Barnes, right, publisher for Polk County Publishing Co. group of newspapers.