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Ashby Named East Texan of the Year

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070722 asby wins steen awardRep. Trent Ashby responds after being named recipient of the Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year Award during the DETCOG Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on June 23rd at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin. Courtesy photo of DETCOG

Special to the News-Times

LUFKIN — State Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, was named East Texan of the Year for 2022 at the annual meeting of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments held June 23 at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin.

The award was presented by State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, a recipient of the honor in 2014.

“The person we are honoring today, while still a young man, has already made a huge difference in the lives of East Texans,” Nichols said. “We live in a time when politics often divides us. But this man has risen above that. He is one of those rare individuals who has demonstrated the ability to stay true to his core beliefs and principles, while at the same time finding common ground with others — often working across party lines for the greater good of all Texans.”

As an example, Nichols said that Ashby authored House Bill 5, known as the Texas Broadband Bill, in the 87th Legislature and passed it on a vote of 146-0 in the House. Nichols carried the same bill in the Senate and the two worked together to ensure its passage.

Ashby has received numerous accolades since he was elected to the Legislature a decade ago. He was the Republican Caucus Freshman of the Year, Capitol Insider’s Most Valuable Sophomore, and has been named to Texas Monthly’s Ten Best Legislators list. He was honored as the Deep East Texas Legislator of the Year in 2017.

In an emotional acceptance, Ashby cited previous winners of the Steen Award. “To be affiliated with that group — I’m not sure I deserve this, but I’m touched and honored to accept it,” he said.

This marks the 47th consecutive year DETCOG has presented the Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year Award. In 1976, Dr. Steen was retiring after 20 years as President of Stephen F. Austin State University. To honor his contributions to the region DETCOG presented the first East Texan of the Year Award to him and then decided to make it an annual presentation in his honor.

DETCOG, organized in 1966, is a voluntary association of local governments in the 11-county region encompassing all of Angelina, Houston, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler counties.

DETCOG was established in November of 1966 as an Economic Development District under the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. In 1968 the organization also became a political subdivision of the State of Texas as a Regional Planning Commission under state law. Current membership includes 11 counties, 34 cities, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, plus a number of other entities including school districts, river authorities, special purpose districts, and sustaining members. a

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Drawn hunt permits being accepted

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070722 drawn hunt permits

Special to the News-Times

AUSTIN — New opportunities and scenery are available to hunters this fall through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s drawn hunt permits program, now accepting applications for a shot at almost 10,000 permits in 62 hunt categories.

The permits allow drawn hunts on both public and private lands throughout Texas. Among the offerings available through the online system are hunts for white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn, turkey, alligator, dove and guided packages for exotic species and bighorn sheep.

“This season, we will conduct drawings in 62 hunt categories,” said Kelly Edmiston, TPWD Public Hunting Program Coordinator. “These drawings include selections for U.S. Forest Service Antlerless Deer Permits, both adult and youth hunts, 18 e-Postcard Selections for hunters using the $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit, and hunts conducted on 10 National Wildlife Refuges in Texas.”
Applicants for e-Postcard hunts and U.S. Forest Service Antlerless Deer Permits must have a current APH permit to apply.

New areas included in this year’s drawn hunt catalog include the Muleshoe NWR and Powderhorn State Park. Devil’s Sinkhole SNA, Lost Maples SP, Village Creek SP, and Stephen F. Austin SP have re-entered the program this season. TPWD also created two new NWR hunt categories, for Antlerless Deer and Alligator.

An interactive map shows all drawn hunt opportunities by category or by area, and all applications, fee payments and permit issuance are handled electronically. To participate, applicants will need internet access, an email address and a credit or debit card. The customer ID number from the applicant’s hunting or fishing license is the most effective way to access the system.

Application fees are $3 or $10 depending on the hunt category. Adult hunters that are selected may also need to pay a Special Permit fee of $80 for regular hunts and $130 for extended hunts. Some categories, such as the Youth-Only hunts, require no application fees or permit fees. Permits are open to resident and non-resident hunters alike.

The first application deadlines are in August. Aug. 1 is the deadline for the alligator hunt categories, pronghorn, and private lands dove hunts, and Aug. 15 is the deadline for archery deer, general exotic and javelina.

Application deadlines are the 1st and 15th of the month from Aug. 1 to Nov. 1. A full list of category deadlines can be found online. Hunters can apply up to 11:59 p.m. Central Time on the application deadline, and after the application is submitted, they can check their drawing status online at any time.

For more information or to get started in the application process visit the TPWD drawn hunts webpage. For questions, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (512) 389-4505 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Suspect shot by SJCO officers after threat

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060922 police shooting

SJNT staff

SHEPHERD — A 40-year-old Shepherd man died after threatening police with a handgun in the early evening of May 22.

John Tapp died from gunshot wounds after confronting law enforcement officers.

Sheriff Greg Capers said that Tapp had been under the influence of illegal substances and had been “hollering about suicide by cop” throughout the day.

Tapp had gotten into altercations with family members and twice had attempted to crash his vehicle, Capers said.

The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office was notified; Capers said that when they showed up, suspect had weapon. The officers told Tapp to put down gun, which he did, but then grabbed another gun from his waistband, which the then swung around and pointed gun at officers, firing one round, Capers said.

At that time, Tapp was shot; he was taken to CHI St. Luke’s in Livingston where he was pronounced dead, Capers said.

The officers, who were not identified, were placed on administrative leave according to policy but are now back at work, Capers said.

The investigation was turned over to the Texas Rangers, who still are investigating.

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One upset, two defeats in local elections

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N1206P36001C

By Tony Farkas

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

While most incumbents retained their seats, Mayor Pat Eversole of Coldspring has been unseated by challenger and Mayor Pro Tem John Benestante.

The two statewide propositions passed overwhelmingly, but only one of three bond issues for the Willis school district garnered approval.

Proposition 1, which will benefit individuals with an over-65 or disabled exemption on their property, passed 86.92 percent to 13.08, or 1,069,963 to 161,032.

The amendment will become effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Proposition 2 increases the homestead exemption by $15,000, and passed 84.84 percent 15.16 percent, or 1,058,511 to 189,087.

It is now effective, so homeowners will see the savings when they receive their property tax bill this fall.

  • In the Cleveland ISD election, incumbent Willie Carter won against LaDerrington Baldwin by a margin of 12 votes, or 43-31, for the Cleveland ISD Board of Trustees Position 4.

For Position 5, incumbent Amanda Sandoval Brooks won by more 2 to 1 votes to challenger Sharica Lewis, 56-23.

  • Willis ISD, which includes parts of San Jacinto County, had three bond issues on the ballot totaling $225 million on the ballot, all of which were defeated more than 3 to 1 within the districts in the county.

District-wide results were slightly different, as the measure for $143,045,000 in bonds for school improvements did pass. However, the  $62,565,000 in bonds for improvements to the athletic stadium, and $19,390,000 for a natatorium were defeated.

  • In Coldspring, Benestante defeated Eversole 64-26, or 71.11 percent to 28.89 percent.

Dianne Griffith ran unopposed for District 2 and Nichole Gatewood ran unopposed for District 4.

in the Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD races, incumbent Tony L. Sewell outlasted Roosevelt Joseph for Position 3 743-287. Incumbent Berlin Bradford ran unopposed.

  • A runoff election for state offices will be held May 24.

The races on that ballot include state offices only.

For those in the Democratic party, the ballot contains four races: Michelle Beckley and Mike Collier for lieutenant governor; Rochelle Mercedes Garza and Joe Jaworski for Attorney General; Angel Luis Vega and Janet T. Dudding for Comptroller of Public Accounts; and Sandragrace Martinez and Jay Kleberg for Commissioner of the General Land Office.

For Republicans, those races include: George P. Bush and Ken Paxton for Attorney General; Tim Westley and Dawn Buckingham for Commissioner of the General Land Office; and Sarah Stogner and Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner.

Early voting runs from May 16-20, and ballots can be cast from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Elections Administration Building in Coldspring.

On May 24, polls will be located at the Elections Administration Building, Shepherd Community Center, Evergreen Community Center in Coldspring, and County Precinct 4 Annex in Point Blank.

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Policing plan credited for drug arrest

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Deputy Sheriff Samantha Crenshaw, Sheriff Greg Capers and Sgt. Rodney Nash display the seized items the SO gathered following a traffic stop in Shepherd. Courtesy photoDeputy Sheriff Samantha Crenshaw, Sheriff Greg Capers and Sgt. Rodney Nash display the seized items the SO gathered following a traffic stop in Shepherd. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — San Jacinto County deputies made reality out of training, arresting two people on various charges and seizing more than $100,000 worth of methamphetamines.

Sheriff Greg Capers said the arrest is due to the policy of proactive policing the office recently instituted.

“Patrol vigilance is a term I like to use when describing the duties and responsibilities of our officers,” Capers said. 

In this particular case, Deputy Samantha Crenshaw, along with field training officer Sgt. Rodney Nash, were on patrol on Thursday and noticed an older model light blue Buick sedan in the parking lot of McClain’s Market in Shepherd that had an unreadable temporary license plate.

The deputies stopped the vehicle, and as Crenshaw approached, she noticed 37-year-old Amber Ford of Ratcliff, who appeared very nervous and upset. Nash approached the passenger, 36-year-old Lanny Walton of Huntington. 

Further investigation showed that the temporary plate was invalid and the vehicle registration had expired in 2014. Additionally, an arrest warrant for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon had been issued in Lufkin on Walton.

Based on the arrest warrant, the deputies searched the vehicle, an found approximately 2.83 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than $100,000, as well as a scale. Also, deputies found a loaded Glock 9 mm pistol that was later determined to have been stolen, and a 50 round Pro Max Drum magazine.

“The distribution of these life altering drugs into our community and beyond and a horrifying thought of a concealable semi-automatic handgun and a 50-round magazine is something that keeps my entire office on their toes,” Capers said.

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