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Fundraiser ongoing for child with multiple medical needs

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Ryan Addison Newborn 010721Ryan Addison at birth PHOTO COURTESY OF HANNAH WOLF ADDISON

By Chris Edwards

CENTER – If rising medical costs aren’t scary enough, the ancillary expenses of hospital stays and surgeries can be overwhelming, as well. Hotel stays, meals and other travel expenses can add up when a family member is ill.

In this day and age, many folks get by with a little help from their friends, family and churches, and some fundraising efforts can be creative. Such is the case with Hannah Wolf Addison and her son Ryan. Hannah, a Center resident, is the granddaughter of Woodville Church of Christ Minister Keith Bellamy.

Bro. Bellamy has kept his flock and his friends in the loop on what has been going on with little Ryan, who was born facing a litany of health problems. Ryan, who was born on Nov. 9, 2019, had difficulties breathing from the start, and following several incidents and a five-hour surgery to repair his esophagus, he was diagnosed with VACTERL syndrome, an acronym for which each letter stands for a different condition present at birth. “I was honestly devastated,” Hannah said, when she learned that her newborn baby boy had to be airlifted from Tyler to Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas.

The costs from the many medical needs will continue to mount, Hannah said, with another surgery scheduled this year. To assist with these costs, Hannah is selling a wide variety of air fresheners under the fundraiser name “Mighty Dino Rawrs for Ryan.”

Some of the products have colorful and creative, amusing names, such as “Lick Me All over” and “Leather & Lace,” but one thing is for certain, they smell better and last longer than similar products one can find in stores.

Hannah said that initially, she and her sister began kicking around ideas of how to raise money for her family’s expenses, and originally, they were creating candles to sell. With her sister now enlisted in the Army, Hannah looked toward other ideas of goods to sell.

She said she has a cousin who crafts similar products, and so she learned how to do them herself. With that skill in her bag, she has come up with a variety of different scents, ranging from the manly and/or rustic in nature (leather scents and one labelled “Coffee”) to the sweeter ones, which have the colorful names, and yes, the Coffee scent actually smells like premium coffee beans. The air fresheners are $10 apiece, and all of the proceeds are going toward any associated expenses with Ryan’s care to which they can be applied.

Her grandfather has helped spread the word about Hannah’s wares. He said that Hannah has a lot of experience in working with young people with challenges.“She is a very loving mother, who is doing her best to raise her little son Ryan,” he said.

Hannah Brandon and Ryan AddisonHannah, Brandon and Ryan Addison in a more recent photo PHOTO COURTESY OF HANNAH WOLF ADDISON

Bellamy added that Hannah had a cousin who was challenged and became her friend when she was about two years old. After high school, Hannah worked as a counselor at the Texas Lions Camp.

Along with the current fundraiser that utilizes her skill and creativity, some of Hannah’s family, friends and church family have helped out with barbecue fundraisers and a chili cook-off.

Despite the challenges, Hannah is staying positive and grounded in her faith. “After we found out everything, I knew that God was going to take care of us, and He has ever since,” she said.

While last year presented its share of challenges to her family, Hannah remains hopeful for the new year. “We’re just ready for the surgeries to be over so that we can all be safe and happy,” she said.

In addition to the products she has listed on the Mighty Dino Rawrs for Ryan Facebook page, she will also create special orders. Anyone interested can message her via Facebook, or by text at 936-590-8338. Payments can be made online by way of Venmo at: @Hannah-Addison-6 or PayPal: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Remnants of Rockland (GALLERY)

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Remnants of Rockland 10CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Rockland, Texas Abandoned Railroad Trestle, completed in 1899.

By Caleb Fortenberry

Sawmill towns drove the economy of Southeast Texas in the 1800s. From topographical to abstracts, many of these forgotten towns can be referenced in early 20th century maps. One of the most notable towns that was forgotten and left to fall into ruin was the Aldridge Mill in Jasper County, just north of the Neches River and East of Zavalla. This is one of the only mill structures left standing in the area and for an unusual reason. Owner of Aldridge Mill, Hal Aldridge, had a fire occur on his mill in 1911 when it was fashioned out of wood. To avoid insurance rates increasing, he made the structures more fire retardant. He constructed the buildings out of concrete in 1912. With the buildings being made in this fashion, the structures are still standing to this day, and is a spectacular sight to see in the Angelina National Forest. Aldridge did not only operate just this larger mill. He actually started on a smaller scale in Rockland on the south side of the Neches nestled at the northern end of Tyler County.

Remnants of Rockland 2 2CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Aldridge Saw Mill in Jasper County, Texas.

Rockland is known for its stone, and various quarries that helped make the Galveston Sea Wall. Unknown to many, it also was full of longleaf yellow pines at one point and a mill was situated West, right next to the Texas and New Orleans Railroad. Many mills, such as the Rockland Mill, were placed near railroads for quick transportation to other towns, rather than letting the logs float down a river, which was not only time consuming, but problematic. Trams were built to bring logs back to mill ponds, which preserved them while they awaited to be sawn.

Cary Ard with shovelCOURTESY THE HISTORY CENTER, DIBOLL, TEXAS Cary Ard and his shovel in the rock pits near Rockland.

Education coordinator for the Texas Forestry Museum, Kaitlin Wieseman clarifies, “they would build little short lines out into the forest so then they could cut the trees and have the train bring them back to their sawmill. So, basing their sawmill next to actual prominent rail lines that were main lines, like the Houston East and West, was probably a better idea to do than building out in the forest, in the middle of nowhere. They did have capabilities to build a line but usually they would have teams of men that would build that short line out just into the forest, not necessarily out to their own sawmill, but they could have if they needed to.”

Remnants of Rockland 28CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB One of the only remaining track railings along the track bed.

The Rockland Mill, also known as the Rockland Plant, was first owned by one of Rockland’s postmasters, John Delaney and others. Delaney, interestingly enough, worked with Aldridge at the post office. In 1890, Aldridge bought the mill and vast amounts of land tracts in the area. He operated the mill until 1898, when he sold the business to William Cameron & Co., one of the first forestry millionaires. It was burned down November 4, 1898, only a few short months after Cameron bought the sawmill.

Remnants of Rockland 18CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Remains of the Rockland Sawmill. Steam wheel foundation, located West of most residents in Rockland and East of Highway 69.

“If you can just imagine, we’re working with steam, which you have to have fire to be able to produce steam, to heat up the water, but also your working with wood around everywhere. So, some sawmill towns would build their sawmill only of wood. They wouldn’t build them, usually, out of stone just because that costs more,” said Wieseman, “most of the smaller ones, if it burned down, and they didn’t have enough money or area to cut down trees, then rebuilding wasn’t really in their thoughts of doing that because it would cost too much.”

Woods Crew Near TrainCOURTESY THE HISTORY CENTER, DIBOLL, TEXAS A woods crew, possibly connected to the Aldridge Sawmill, stops for a photo.

The plant was rebuilt with newer equipment and a water tower that measured 125 feet above the ground and able to hold thousands of gallons to transport water throughout the mill. Cameron operated the mill producing roughly 3,000,000 linear feet of lumber per year, until he sold it to John Henry Kirby in 1905.

Remnants of Rockland 20CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Foundations at the Rockland Mill.

One of the interesting details learned about mill towns of that time is that they had a form of currency for each company. In this particular mill, it could have had at least three different forms of coin being used for trade at the company general store and commissary. Aldridge, Cameron, and Kirby used these coins for the workers to make various purchases from the mill’s stores.

Remnants of Rockland 1 2CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Bricks found adjacent to the Rockland mill pond and saw mill.

One of the reasons Rockland became so popular, was not just the sawmill, but the fact that the railroad did not cross the Neches. It stopped in Rockland. That is, until 1899 when the rail road trestle was completed. Similar to the remains of the Rockland Plant, the bridge over the Neches still remains intact and unharmed by human vandalism, more than likely due to the inconvenience of getting to it. It is still a spectacular view if you can get to the bank near it. The engineering and man power that went into building it is perplexing.

Rockland rail yard locomotive facing BeaumontCOURTESY THE HISTORY CENTER, DIBOLL, TEXAS A locomotive heads toward Beaumont, passing through the Rockland railyard.

Remnants of Rockland 2CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Rail Road on the Jasper County side of the Neches leading to the Rockland Trestle.

The main way to cross the river without taking the train was Dunkin’s ferry, which has been speculated that country singer, George Jones, once helped operate. Mac Dunkin’s well, barn and chimney are all that remain of the crossing. The old Lufkin – Beaumont Highway led to the ferry situated just Northwest of the mill. It operated until the 1930s when the US Highway 69 bridge joining Jasper and Tyler counties was completed. This left the town of Rockland off to the wayside and the mill eventually shut down. It wasn’t until rock quarries began to produce in higher volumes, that the town was revived for a period.

Ferry Boat Neches RiverCOURTESY THE HISTORY CENTER, DIBOLL, TEXAS A group of well-dressed travelers cross the Neches River using a ferry near Rockland.

Remnants of Rockland 6CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB Mac Dunkin's well, located Northeast of the Rockland Mill site.

The Rockland Mill site is on private property and unfortunately there is no public access to it. Because of this factor, it has remained in a healthier condition than the other structures such as the Aldridge mill, which has been defaced with spray paint graffiti for years. After being granted permission to locate different parts of the mill, many older bottles were discovered near where the general store or commissary would have been placed. What would have been trash, paints a picture of what life could have looked like back then. The concrete structure that held the steam engine still stands erect, but the steam engine itself is no longer on the site. Various concrete foundations lay in the dense underbrush. There are numerous possibilities of what they could have been used for, but it is safe to assume the boilers would have been located nearby and there is a good chance they would have been placed on foundations, such as the ones found. Trams that ran from the railroad are still built up around the mill pond. The pond is still holding water, but many trees have grown in it and around it, so it is not easily accessible nor noticeable.

 Remnants of Rockland 24CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB The Rockland Mill pond's levee broke at some point, but still holds water and has traces of the tram surrounding it.

According to Texas State Historical Association, Rockland has had a population of about 100 people since 1990. From 1900 to 1940 the population was roughly 300 and thought to have close to 500. The town included 150 to 200 dwellings for sawmill workers, a school and church building, three doctors' offices, two drugstores, a livery stable, a dance hall, and a railroad station. Now, only residential structures, rock quarries, and lumber tracts remain. Although, not much resides in the once bustling town, the remnants of Rockland are still there, underneath the earth being preserved in its once trampled grounds.

Aldridge Home in RocklandCOURTESY THE HISTORY CENTER, DIBOLL, TEXAS The Aldridge family home in Rockland. Hal Aldridge built this house at the time of his marriage. The home was later turned into a hotel. The home was still standing in 2020.

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Buying a drone can cost more than one might think

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IMG 2242CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File photo of Tyler County Booster reporter, Caleb Fortenberry, flying a Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) while on a video production job in Conroe, Texas in March, 2020.

By Caleb Fortenberry

Every Christmas the Booster receives letters to Santa from children in the Tyler County region. This year a surprising number of children wished for drones.

Parents should consider the amount of laws to be followed before the drone can be launched into the air.

Before a recreational flyer can actually launch their drone, they must register it through the (Federal Aviation Administration) FAA. Not only do you have to pay for the registry, you must display the registration number on the drone and keep the proof of registration on your person while flying.

Now, the exception is weight. If the drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams) then there is no need for registry. Still, those drones are few and far between.

weight applicibility FILE PHOTO Courtesy of the FAA website.

There are several penalties not only on the federal level, but also through the state to be aware of. According to CHAPTER 423. USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT of GOVERNMENT CODE, TITLE 4. EXECUTIVE BRANCH, if you take photos or video someone else’s property with intent to conduct surveillance, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. If any image or video is kept, distributed, or displayed it is also a Class C misdemeanor and each image is a separate offense.

But that’s not all, the property owner of the photos taken can enjoin a violation or imnent violation of $5,000 for the capturing of images and $10,000 for displaying, distribution, or use of the images.

So, a child’s $40 drone that a parent buys for Christmas could ultimately lead to larger costs. Those are just charges through the state. The FAA is constantly tracking down on violations made. And each violation fine gets worse with less laws followed.

If your child is older and the goal is to get into a photography business, do your research. There are far more laws and requirements and fees to face. You may live in an area where the airspace restricts drone flights. That could be problematic for finding a place to fly recreationally.

You can own and operate a drone legally, but there are many repercussions that parents can face from the ignorance of a child. Be smart this Christmas, plan ahead, follow the law, and if you do get your child a drone, supervise the flights.

You can read more about Texas drone laws at https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/GV/htm/GV.423.htm and federal regulations at https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/

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TEA suspends letter-grading system

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TEA GraphicFILE PHOTO TEA Graphic

STAAR test will still commence, according to agency

By Chris Edwards

AUSTIN – The Texas Education Agency announced on Thursday, Dec. 10, that it will pause its A-F accountability ratings for the current school year.

The ratings system, which has been in place since 2018, is being paused due to the ongoing disruptions associated with COVID-19, according to a news release from the agency. On the other hand, the STARR test will proceed for the school year “In order to provide critically important information about individual student learning that teachers and parents can use to help students grow,” according to TEA.

The letter grade accountability system, which was adopted statewide after being passed into law by the 85th Texas Legislature, gives each school district a letter grade based on a number of criteria. The practice came with controversy from many educators and officials, but proponents argued that the system makes for a simple, transparent way for the public to understand how effective schools are.

“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students,” said TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.

Morath said that the past nine months have been “some of the most disruptive of our lives,” as educators and administrators have struggled to find ways to keep students learning while continuing to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus. “The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers and students. We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers and staff in our schools this year, while working to ensure students grow academically,” Morath said.

Although the letter grades will be paused this year and the STAAR testing will continue, Morath said the STAAR will not be used toward accountability purposes for this school year.

Morath said the test will serve as a comprehensive picture to demonstrate what might be sweeping impacts of the pandemic upon student learning, and to help policymakers craft solutions for the coming years ahead.

Morath said in the news release that the test will be administered on school campuses statewide, or at other secure alternative testing sites.

During the summer, a large group of state lawmakers asked Gov. Greg Abbott and TEA to suspend STAAR testing to some degree. One of the lawmakers who spoke out was State Rep. James White (R-Hillister.)

White, a former educator, said that the first concern for educators should be for the students’ safety and health, and that any rating based on STAAR testing during the current school year would provide questionable results.

“The Legislature did not devise the current accountability system in the paradigm of a pandemic that has created a bifurcated instructional delivery system…with vast swathes of rural Texas disconnected from the 21st century means of global connectivity,” White wrote in a letter to Morath dated July 16, 2020.

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White takes proposed bills to task

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Jas White 110719CHRIS EDWARDS | PCPC State Rep. James White (R-Hillister) is shown speaking before the Woodville Rotary Club in November 2019.

By Chris Edwards

State Representative James White (R-Hillister) recently spoke out about some bill proposals up for consideration in the next legislation.

The 87th Texas Legislature will not gavel in until January of 2021, but state lawmakers have had the opportunity to file bills since November. White recently took three of the proposed bills to task and called them “assaults on liberty.”

The bills in question, House Bill 238, HB 185 and HB 196, all filed by Rep. Terry Meza (D-Irving) primarily deal with firearms-related issues, and White, in a news release, said the bills are “disrespectful, immoral and unconstitutional to freedom-loving and law-abiding Texans from the Sabine to the trans-Pecos; from the Texas Panhandle to the South Texas Plain.”

HB 238, looks to repeal the state firearms pre-emption law and allow local governments to restrict guns as they please. HB 185, seeks to mandate firearms to be stored in locked gun cases, safes or cabinets, and would make failure to do so a criminal act.

HB 196 was filed to modify the “castle doctrine,” which gives residents the right to use deadly force to protect their “land or tangible, movable property,” according to the Texas Penal Code. The bill looks to modify the requirement that homeowners not be able to safely retreat before deploying deadly force. It also seeks to remove robbery and aggravated robbery as crimes that can be legally stopped with deadly force.

Meza’s bill to modify “castle doctrine” has already caused a stir. She claimed on Twitter that the bill has been misrepresented in news outlets. “While theft is obviously wrong, we have laws to address that. I don’t believe that stealing someone’s lawn ornament should be an offense punishable by death” she posted in a Nov. 19 tweet.

Gov. Greg Abbott responded to Meza’s tweet by stating that “We won’t force Texas homeowners to retreat…homeowners need to protect themselves now more than ever.”

White said that many of his constituents have expressed concern about firearms-related legislation. “None of these bills address any concerns with mass shootings,” White said. “The put more law-abiding citizens in danger, subject them to civil litigation and criminal prosecution.”

Although thousands of bills typically get filed during a legislative year, only a fraction of them usually make it through the state House and Senate to find their way to Abbott in order to be signed into law.

White, who serves as chair of the corrections committee in the state legislature, and also serves as part of the redistricting and judiciary and civil jurisprudence committees, has authored or sponsored several bills in advance of the coming session.

One bill that has White’s authorship is a property tax reform bill, HB 529, which would cap year-to-year appraisal increases at 2.5%. Currently the limit on increases is 10%.

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