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CHEMICAL PLANT EXPLOSION IN SHEPHERD, TX - 11/8/23

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Chemical Thing
 
There has been a chemical plant explosion in Shepherd, TX on FM 1127. Responders have communicated that a plume is heading towards the Livingston area. Polk County Emergency Management recommends that residents along US Hwy 59 from Goodrich to Leggett shelter in place and turn off HVAC systems in homes and businesses immediately. At this time, the effects of the chemical in the air are unknown. See the map below for the shelter-in-place location. Please check back for updates on this developing situation. Please refer to the FaceBook page of the Polk County Office of Emergency Management for further updates.
 
 
 
 
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Tribal members question senator’s remarks

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alabama coushatta logo

By Emily Banks Wooten
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The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, along with other constituents, is taking exception with the controversial word choice used by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas during a recent call with reporters regarding the election of Mike Johnson as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives following three weeks of infighting among the GOP.

“Good reports about him as a person but the jury’s out in terms of his ability to deal with this bunch of wild Indians over in the House,” Cornyn said.

“At this time in our country’s history, we are curious as to why Sen. Cornyn would use this derogatory phrase,” Chairman Ricky Sylestine and other members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council said in a statement released Tuesday.

“We would welcome any opportunity for him to explain why he thinks the verbiage he used was appropriate or necessary,” Sylestine said.

The president of the National Congress of American Indians, a nonprofit representing tribes from across the country, called the comment “derogatory” and “deeply disrespectful.

“It perpetuates damaging stereotypes about our diverse and vibrant American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” Fawn Sharp said.

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Tribe names new community development manager

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Herbert Johnson Jr.Herbert Johnson Jr.

From Enterprise Staff

Herbert Johnson Jr. is leading the growing effort to build support for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Naskila Casino throughout the state.

Johnson, a citizen of the tribe, is the new Community Development Manager for Naskila Casino, the tribe’s electronic bingo facility. In this role, he works to educate community groups about the tribe and about Naskila Casino. Thanks in part to his work, almost 100 community and civic groups have approved resolutions expressing their support for the tribe’s right to offer electronic bingo on its reservation.

“I am very honored to continue our relationship with our supporters and building new bridges within our East Texas region,” Johnson said. “I want to continue great relations with our neighbors within the city, county, chambers of commerce and civic organizations and to continue educating state and local leaders about what Naskila provides.”

Johnson, son of former Chief Skalaaba Herbert Johnson Sr., previously led public relations at Naskila Casino. He is well-connected in the community and has met with many groups around the region to help them learn about the tribe.

Community support is critical as the tribe is hopeful that the U.S. Congress will pass legislation that would treat the tribe like other federally recognized tribes in the country. Other tribes with gaming facilities are regulated under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), but the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso are regulated under a different structure. Congressman Morgan Luttrell has introduced the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Tribal Gaming Regulatory Compliance Act, which would ensure all federally recognized tribes that are eligible for gaming in the U.S. are regulated under IGRA.

Naskila Casino is responsible for 800 local jobs and $212 million per year in local economic activity, according to the Texas Forest Country Partnership.

“Herb is a great representative of our tribe and a champion for Naskila Casino,” Chairman Ricky Sylestine of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council said. “People in this community know and appreciate Herb, and I am glad he will continue to build relationships with our neighbors and help them learn about our history, our traditions and our contributions to Deep East Texas.”

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Intruder shot in head

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STOCK PHOTOSTOCK PHOTO

Police have a man in custody after he was shot trying to enter a Polk County residence.

Deputies and detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded just after midnight on Wednesday to a shooting in the Indian Springs Subdivision of eastern Polk County. 

The sheriff’s office received a 911 call from a homeowner, who reported that a male subject was trying to enter the front door to his home. 

An altercation ensued, resulting in the male subject being shot in the head.  Deputies located the male subject and his vehicle approximately two miles from the homeowner’s residence.  First responders immediately had the subject flown to a Harris County hospital, where he was later released within a few hours, with non-life threatening injuries.

Interviews were conducted and evidence was collected at the scene to assist detectives in determining how the incident occurred and what role both the male subject and homeowner played.

The events surrounding this incident are still under investigation. According to law enforcement, it appears to be an isolated incident with no further threat to the public. 

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Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas secures 100th resolution of support

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Representatives of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the Port Arthur City Council after the Council became the 100th group to approve a resolution supporting the tribe. Photo by Victoria Johnson.Representatives of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the Port Arthur City Council after the Council became the 100th group to approve a resolution supporting the tribe. Photo by Victoria Johnson.

From Enterprise Staff

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas secured its 100th formal statement of support from a business, civic or governmental group on Oct. 24 when the Port Arthur City Council passed a resolution supporting the tribe. The first resolution of support was approved in March 2018 by the All Pueblo Council of Governors.

The tribe began gathering the statements to demonstrate support in Texas for its citizens and for the right to offer electronic bingo at Naskila Casino. At the time, the State of Texas was attempting to shut down Naskila Casino through the court system, but that effort ultimately proved unsuccessful in 2022, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the tribe’s right to offer electronic bingo.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from elected officials, community leaders and our fellow Texans,” Ricky Sylestine, Chairman of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council, said. “These groups have met with us to learn more about our tribe and our contributions to East Texas. We are proud to be part of this community and to enjoy such positive, productive relationships with our many neighbors and friends.”

The second largest employer in Polk County, Naskila Casino is responsible for 825 local jobs, about 400 of which are at the facility, and $212 million in annual economic activity, according to a study from the Texas Forest Country Partnership.

The groups approving resolutions of support have included city councils, county commissioner courts, chambers of commerce and political organizations. Resolutions have often noted the tribe’s contributions to the community, such as the help provided to neighbors after Hurricane Harvey and the college scholarships offered to tribal citizens after they graduate high school.

“The resolutions from our neighbors are very helpful as we advocate for ourselves before legislators at the state and federal levels,” Sylestine said. “We are proud to show that our community supports us and understands the importance of Naskila Casino to our regional economy.”

Currently, advocates of the tribe are pushing for the U.S. Congress to approve the Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Act, which is legislation that Congressman Morgan Luttrell has introduced to ensure that two Texas tribes – the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso – are regulated under the same federal structure as other tribal nations that offer gaming on their lands.

“I’m proud to be a supportive voice in Congress for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, working to protect the economic well-being and sustainability of the tribe and the reservation,” Luttrell said. “I’ll continue working with my colleagues in a bipartisan, bicameral way to invest in the Alabama-Coushatta community by enhancing economic opportunity and fostering the relationship between the tribe and fellow Texans.”

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