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AC honoring Black History Month

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black history

Series of events planned highlighting cultural contributions

From Enterprise Staff

Angelina College will honor Black History Month during the month of February with a series of events including art galleries, guest speakers and musical performances. Beginning with a public reception for artists in the Angelina Center for the Arts Gallery at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the college will host events geared toward raising awareness of cultural contributions in all forms. This year’s gallery is dedicated in memoriam to longtime contributing artist Dwight Gipson.

“As black artists we create more than just Black Art. We do not want you to lump us as artists together based on our race without looking at the art we are creating because it does not give enough credit to the work,” Karen Moore-Christopher, group member and contributor, said.

“Come and see ‘what we do’ and leave with and concede that ‘once you viewed’ there is something significant about the traditions of a black artist’s work that is empowering. It allows connections to be made in the curating process that make for meaning about black art. Black artists are practicing art that speaks loudly and unapologetically of and to the black experience,” Moore-Christopher said.

“As an artist, creating beauty is a challenge. Each time we pick up a canvas, it’s about the colors of the work. The artist who’s creating it happens to be African American. The art has no boundaries–only the boundary of the mind. The joy is seeing and hearing people’s reactions to the paintings,” Group member and Artist Shelia Thomas added.

Following is a list of scheduled events:

• Feb. 1-24: Artists will display their works in various mediums in a gallery exhibited in the Angelina Center for the Arts Gallery on the AC campus.

• Feb. 3: Guest speaker Joseph Ceasar, will offer a presentation titled “Finance and Business Ownership and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream.” The presentation takes place from 11:25 a.m. until 12:25 p.m. at AC’s Temple Theater.

• Feb. 15: Guest speaker Johnny Giles will discuss “Local Black History and Voting Rights” from 11-11:20 a.m. at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium.

• Feb. 16: A screening of “Women of the Movement” will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium.

• Feb. 17: Presenter Martha Hernandez of the Angelina County Health District will offer “Health Equality vs. Health Equity,” followed by a discussion, from 10:50-11:20 a.m. at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium.

• Feb. 22 and 23: Jazz and Blues bands – and the AC Chorale on the 23rd – will perform for attending fans from 10:50-11:20 a.m. in AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium. 

All events offer free admission to the public. For additional information, contact Krista Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Le’Anne Alexander at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Scenic Loop Fire Department vehicle stolen

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The Scenic Loop Fire Department reported its 1996 Ford Super Duty Rescue 15 stolen and was found later in Dayton. Courtesy photoThe Scenic Loop Fire Department reported its 1996 Ford Super Duty Rescue 15 stolen and was found later in Dayton. Courtesy photo

By Enterprise Staff

Scenic Loop Fire Chief Donald Marlow has nearly four decades dedicated to fighting fires, but the events from Thursday are likely to be burned into his memory for years to come.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Scenic Loop Fire Department reported its 1996 Ford Super Duty Rescue 15 stolen. “It was a very exciting day and I’m kind of glad that it’s over with,” Marlow said. “We’re trying to put a close enough approximate time on
when this thing was taken.”

A postal employee was said to have delivered their mail around 12:15 p.m. and at that time, she remembered that the bay doors were down. Marlow himself said he drove by around 2 p.m. and noticed that the bay door was open. He lives near the station and dropped some items at his house. Once he returned, he noticed that the lights were not on.
After checking with his firemen and placing a few other phone calls, he reported the truck stolen to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Scenic Loop Fire Department also broadcast via social media that the truck was stolen. Around 45 minutes later, dispatch contacted Marlow to inform him that a Union Pacific Railroad employee had located the truck in Dayton.

Marlow was then told that the truck had been unloaded under the overpass on FM 321 and thrown onto the ground. The doors of the vehicle were left open.
After a few firemen arrived on the scene and performed inventory, Marlow said that a cervical collar bag was taken, as well as a pet oxygen mask.

Wires had been cut in the truck and many fuses were cut out. Marlow said the police department surmised it was done because someone wanted to come back later that night to go through the truck and scrap it for parts. He was told that the drivetrain on the truck is an expensive part and could have been the motive.

Rescue 15 now sits in an auto repair shop to discover the damages.

“I have been in this business for 38 years and never had to experience something like this,” the chief said. “You hear it happening, with people taking ambulances and police cars. When we put it on Facebook, we had a guy that did post and said that he was in Humble now, but followed that truck all the way to Cleveland.

The truck thief broke into the department through the back door. Marlow said the other two doors have keypad locks and promises the back door will have the same this weekend.

“I do not want to go through this again, because this is a headache. I hope they catch these people and put them in jail for a while. They broke into the back door and just went to that truck and pushed the bay door opener. The back door was locked, but it didn’t have a deadbolt on it. It is like anything else, if somebody wants in, they
are going to get in.”

Marlow is asking for those with security cameras to check between noon and 2:30 p.m. for possible identification. He estimates the driver’s path traveled down FM 3277 to Shelter Cove, then FM 3126 to FM 1988, entering Highway 59 from there. Scenic Loop Grocery has checked their security camera and the fire chief feels that the truck may have been driven through Shelter Cove to avoid those cameras. A resident off FM 1988 near the dam reported seeing the truck as well

The post on social media had over 37,000 views and was shared nearly 500 times. The fire chief thanks those who shared the information to help locate Rescue 15.

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Caddo Mounds begin reconstruction

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The garden site at the historic Caddoan Mounds. JAN WHITE | HCC The garden site at the historic Caddoan Mounds. JAN WHITE | HCC

By Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Off State Highway 21 West, not far from Alto, three earthen mounds rise from the lush prairie landscape - remnants of what was once an influential ceremonial center for the Mound Builder culture. Locally known as Caddo Mounds, the site is one of the most extensively investigated Indian sites in Texas and reveals much about the everyday lives of the tribe, known as the Hasinai. The Mounds, located on what was once the El Camino Real, give great insight into the culture of the Caddo Indians who occupied the area. The 397-acre site consists of a temple mound, a low platform mound, a burial mound, and a large portion of the adjacent village. 

 When the village was abandoned, the burial mound was estimated to be twenty feet tall and over ninety feet in diameter. The mound consisted of layers upon layers of graves spanning generations. The process began when an influential political or spiritual leader was buried. Archeologists who excavated the mounds would sometimes find several bodies occupying one grave, indicating that servants or even family members may have been sacrificed and buried along with the leader to honor their death. Special items were also buried with the deceased, such as jewelry, finely decorated pottery, and intricate stone tools that symbolized the person’s importance and to help them along in the afterlife. 

 Occasionally wooden frames with thatched roofs were built over the graves as a ‘protection’ for its inhabitants. After days of ceremonies, rituals, and feasts honoring the dead, workers would bring in layers and layers of fresh dirt to cover the tomb and make a new surface on the mound. This required thousands of baskets of soil, carried by workers one at a time, mounding up the dirt. It was a slow, back-breaking process. Then the cycle of building, living, dying, and rebuilding would begin all over again.

 The tallest ritual or temple mound was originally more than 35 feet in height.   

 It was the political and spiritual center of the village. The temple mounds contained layers of the charred remains of wooden buildings that were once temples or houses of important leaders. The buildings were periodically taken apart and burned for safety or as special rituals. Then a new temple was built on the same spot, above the charred remains of the old one. 

 Much like the burial mounds, the ritual mounds developed over long periods of time. Archeologists have suggested that the second temple mound, known as the ‘low platform mound,’ may have served a ritual or ceremonial function.

 In 1982, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department opened the site to the public. A Visitors Center containing exhibits and replicas of artifacts helped visitors learn about the history and culture of the Caddoans. Self-guided walking trails guided tourists around the mounds and the village. 

During celebrations of Caddo Culture Day in April 2019, an EF3 tornado struck the Mounds, killing one person and injuring dozens more. The visitor center and service buildings were heavily damaged, with a capital loss estimated at $2.5 million. Many artifact replicas were lost, along with the thatched-roof home representative of the Caddo people’s dwellings.

On Saturday, January 22, the Friends of Caddo Mounds sponsored a day full of events designed to bring awareness to the historical Caddo Mounds, but more importantly, to rebuild the Caddo grass house. Saturday’s events began with a switch-grass cutting at the East Texas Plant Materials Center, near Nacogdoches. About forty Caddo Mounds and East Texas Plant Materials staff and volunteers cut a quarter of an acre of switchgrass for thatching the house. At 4 p.m., the public was invited to the Caddo Mounds site, where Friends of Caddo Mounds President Jeff Williams shared information about rebuilding the grass house. The target date for beginning construction of the house is July 4, with the main work to start on July 9. Williams expects the house will be completed by September or October. Following William’s remarks, Dr. Leslie Bush spoke on the archeology of Caddo building materials and how the homes were made. Attendees were then invited to stay for star-gazing with Doug Parsons, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Tyler Junior College.

For more information regarding the Caddo Mounds, visit the Caddo State Historic Site Facebook page or @visitcaddomounds.

Photos by Jan White

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Sylestine elected to AC Tribal Council

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alabama coushatta logoNewly elected officers of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council have taken office and are looking forward to leading the Tribe during what could prove to be a pivotal year.

Tribal citizens have elected Rick Sylestine to serve as Chairman of the Tribal Council. Chairman Sylestine is starting his fourth year on Tribal Council and will serve a one-year term as Chairman.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve our Tribe,” Chairman Sylestine said. “We have a great Tribal Council and we are all committed to representing the needs of our Tribal citizens. Our highest priority right now is the health and safety of our people. Covid has wreaked havoc over our small community and we want to make sure we have the capabilities to combat the virus.”

The full membership of the newly elected Tribal Council is as follows:

• Chairman Rick Sylestine 

• Vice Chairperson Nita Battise 

• Secretary Yolando Poncho 

• Treasurer Ronnie Thomas 

• Council Member David Battise 

• Council Member Melanie Battise 

• Council Member Roland Poncho

Another priority for the leadership of the Tribe is the stability of Naskila Gaming, the electronic bingo facility on the reservation. While the State of Texas has fought against the Tribe’s right to operate the facility for many years, the U.S. Supreme Court could rule this year on a related case that could end the state’s efforts. The U.S. House of Representatives has also passed legislation to ensure that the Tribe can operate the facility, but the U.S. Senate has not yet acted on the bill.

Naskila Gaming is responsible for 700 Texas jobs and is the second-largest employer in Polk County. More than 80 groups have approved resolutions stating support for the facility and thousands of Texans have written letters to Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to ask them to keep Naskila Gaming open and save hundreds of jobs.

“We want to get past the issues with the State and we are at a good point concerning that, legislatively and litigation-wise,” Chairman Sylestine said. “This would be a big victory.”

The Tribe will also soon begin work on a new Education Center and is in the planning stages of a new housing development. Both are priorities for Tribal leadership as the new year begins, as well as continuing to have positive relationships with the East Texas community. “We want to protect our sovereignty and keep the Tribe in the forefront as well as being good neighbors to our surrounding community,” Chairman Sylestine said. “We were here long ago, we are still here and will be still be around for a long time. We aren’t going anywhere.”

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas has the oldest reservation in the state located on approximately 10,200 acres in the Big Thicket of Deep East Texas. The Tribe is a fully functioning sovereign government with a full array of health and human services, including law enforcement and emergency services. There are more than 1,300 members, about half of whom live on the reservation.


For more information about the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, please contact Jason Embry at (512) 560-3876 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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PCSO searching for fuel bandits

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An investigation is underway from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division concerning the theft of approximately 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel. 

suspectThe incident occurred at a local business in the Goodrich area, on the night of Saturday, Jan. 15. 

The store manager noticed a significant fuel shortage in the nighttime sales and inventory report the following morning. Security video shows three different one-ton work trucks driven by Hispanic males, pulling up to a diesel pump and dispensing fuel into the trucks, as well as additional tanks in the truck beds. 

Detectives met with technicians knowledgeable in fuel pump operations, who advised the detectives how the suspects were able to alter the pumps to dispense fuel at a lower cost per gallon. 

Those who recognize any of the attached suspects, vehicles or have information on this case are asked to contact the sheriff’s office and speak to a detective at 936-327-6810. Tipsters may remain anonymous by contacting the Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where a cash reward could be collected for information leading to an arrest.

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