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Harvest Festival slated; volunteers needed

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Scene from a past Heritage Village Harvest Festival. (Jim Powers Photo)Scene from a past Heritage Village Harvest Festival. (Jim Powers Photo)

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Following a forced hiatus due to the coronavirus, the Harvest Festival is returning to Heritage Village.

The festival will take place on Oct. 15-16, and this will mark year number 32 for the region’s premiere folk-life festival. Ofeira Gazzaway, the director of Heritage Village, said the festival is still in need of demonstrators and volunteers.

Volunteers, Gazzaway said, are essential to the Village’s (and the Harvest Festival’s) success and longevity. 

For those who wish to participate in the festival as a vendor or demonstrator, they are welcome to do so if their product(s) are appropriate to the time period of 1840-1920, which is the span of time that the Village covers.

During Harvest Festival, participants dress in period costumes, use tools of the period and demonstrate skills that settlers used during the time period.

The festival always includes demonstrators of artisan skill, such as the blacksmith demonstrations and jewelry-making, as well as dance and music, and food vendors.

There will also be a photography contest, which will be staged a bit differently than in the past. This year, participants are to take their photos at the festival itself, and the adjudication of the contest will take place after the festival is concluded.

This year’s festival will start with “Kids’ Day,” which will feature schools bringing children to the village from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be a short version of the Runaway Scrape for the children. On day one of the festival, the Village is open until 3 p.m.

On Saturday, day two, the fun will begin at 9 a.m. and last until 5 p.m. Attendees will be able to tour the Gray House, as well. 

Admission to the event is $6 for adults, $3 for children aged 5-11 and free for those four and under. 

For information on volunteering or participating in the Harvest Festival, call 409-283-2272 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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White announces Aerospace Scholars project

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James WhiteJames WhiteBy Chris Edwards
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AUSTIN – Last week, State Rep. James White (R-Hillister) announced the launch of the High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) project, which White says will help young Texans compete in a rapidly changing, tech-dependent workforce.

“Math and science are integral to educating our young Texans to compete in a 21st century high-tech global economy and ensuring our economic freedom in Texas,” he said.

HAS will enable high school juniors who are selected to become a part of NASA’s plan for space exploration. Students who score high enough during the school year on assignments in the program will have the opportunity to travel to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and implement what they have learned for a two-day stay.

According to White, those who are selected to travel to the Space Center will be able to design a mission to Mars and take part in several hands-on engineering challenges, under the guidance of NASA scientists and engineers.

Eligibility for the program requires U.S. citizenship, state residency and an interest in STEM fields. Interested students must also commit to the six-month online course and a one-week residential experience at the Space Center during the summer. Students will also have to have access to internet and email.

“As a former public school classroom teacher, I urge educators to encourage their students to apply and participate in this outstanding program,” said White.

Any students who are interested can apply for HAS for the 2021-22 school year by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Prospective students can also visit the website www.nasa.gov/has, which features the application for the project, contact information and a Youtube video on the project.

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Woodville adopts tax rate, budget

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Mandy RisingerWoodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger gives reports to the city council. (Chris Edwards Photo)

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council met for its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 13. The first items on the council’s agenda were to approve the city’s tax rate and budget for the coming fiscal year.

A public hearing and workshop took place before the meeting to field any questions or concerns residents may have had about the tax rate and to discuss any budgetary matters between the city officials. Council voted to adopt a tax rate 0.3261 per $100 of valuation, which is the same rate the city currently has.

The budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year includes a roughly 2% increase in expenditures. City Administrator Mandy Risinger noted a nearly 6.1% decrease in overall revenue for the city, which is primarily due to the loss in gas revenue from the closure of AmeriForge.

The increase in the budget does include a 3% cost of living adjustment for city employees and roughly $365K worth of capital expenses.

Presentation given

Risinger presented a slide show to the councilmembers and Mayor Paula Jones pertaining to Section 3 financial assistance.

The Texas Department of Agriculture recently made a requirement that all members of governing bodies receiving grant funding must receive a program detailing Section 3, Risinger said. The presentation gave an overview of the program, from its history to the protocol used in determining recipients.

The presentation was given due to the city’s CDBG grant-funded sewer improvements project.

Other Business

During Monday night’s meeting, the Woodville City Council also voted to approve the following items:

• A resolution to cancel the upcoming city election was approved, as a candidate withdrew.

• The resolution to designate the Tyler County Booster as the City of Woodville’s official newspaper was approved.

• A vote on behalf of the city for Michael Stelly to serve on the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool Board of Trustees was approved. Stelly is the West Orange Chief of Police.

• A variance to the city’s noise ordinance was granted to Kendall Coleman for a private party to be held outdoors on Oct. 2 from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

• The utility bill write-offs for delinquent customers was approved for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

• The next regular Woodville City Council meeting was moved to Tuesday, Oct. 12 due to the Columbus Day holiday.

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Restoration efforts undertaken on Mt. Zion church

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Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Chester. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Chester. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

By Chris Edwards
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CHESTER – The oldest church still standing in Tyler County has been undergoing a facelift, and there are plans to fill the church with worship soon.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church, which is located on Hwy. 287, in Chester, was built in 1845 at Mt. Hope, and in 1870, it was moved to its present-day location. The restoration efforts begun in October 2019, and according to Lisa Wappler, who has helped spearhead the efforts, it has taken longer than initially anticipated, due to the problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wappler said that the majority of the work done to the church has been by family members of those who are buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, which is located behind the church building. 

The land that was donated for the purpose of that cemetery, according to Wappler, was given by her great-great grandfather, Joseph Peters.

“As children, many of us remember going to church there with our grandparents,” she said. 

To celebrate the completion of the work, Wappler said a service is planned, and the volunteers hope to fill up the little white church. 

The service is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16 at 11 a.m., and will include singing, preaching, fellowship and a potluck lunch afterward. The luncheon will take place at Caney Creek Baptist Church, and Wappler said anyone hoping to attend is encouraged to bring a couple of dishes to share.

Wappler said that many of her family members have been generous in monetary gifts, as well as their time, toward the work that needed to be done at the church. “Because of their generosity, we were able to level the church, make many repairs, rebuild several windows, paint inside, pressure wash and have the outside repainted,” she said.

She added that during some of the workdays as many as 22 people came out to lend helping hands, and on occasion, some people took it upon themselves to trim trees, move dirt, grind stumps and clear the fencelines.

For the upcoming service, Wappler said that those wishing to attend need to RSVP by Oct. 6 by including their name and how many will be attending with them. They can call or text her number at 409-293-8157 or Susan Smart at 409-781-2341.

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Woodville veteran participates in Legacy Run

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Mark Meysembourg is shown presenting donations totaling over $19,000 collected during fundraisers this past year to National Commander James “Bill” Oxford from the Department of Virginia. Donations from Texas alone totaled approximately $35,000. Also pictured to the left of Mark is the Department of Texas Commander Bret Watson. On the right is the National Auxiliary President, Nicole Clapp from the Department of Iowa.  Looking on is National American Legion Riders Chairman Mark Clark from the Department of Missouri. Mark Meysembourg is shown presenting donations totaling over $19,000 collected during fundraisers this past year to National Commander James “Bill” Oxford from the Department of Virginia. Donations from Texas alone totaled approximately $35,000. Also pictured to the left of Mark is the Department of Texas Commander Bret Watson. On the right is the National Auxiliary President, Nicole Clapp from the Department of Iowa. Looking on is National American Legion Riders Chairman Mark Clark from the Department of Missouri.

Special to the Booster

Mark Meysembourg of Woodville and a member of Woodville’s American Legion Post 299, participated in this year’s American Legion Legacy Run. 

The Legacy Run was started by the American Legion Riders (ALR) which is a post run program made up of veterans and spouses who are also motorcycle enthusiasts.  This year’s run started on August 22 in Rogers, Arkansas, ending 5 days and 1,400 miles later at the National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Donations raised during the Legacy Run provides money for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which gives college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.  A few years ago, children of post 9/11 veterans with a combined disability rating of 50 percent or greater became eligible for the scholarship as well. 

Last year’s run was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic however, the American Legion Family came back stronger than ever, raising over $1.1 million. Since 2006, they have raised over 12 million dollars.  Donations are raised throughout the year by different American Legion Departments/Posts and ALR Chapters and presented to the American Legion National Commander during the Run and at the National Convention.

This year is the seventh year that Meysembourg has participated in the Legacy Run.  Earlier this summer, he was also appointed as the American Legion Department of Texas State Advisor for the American Legion Riders.  In addition, he also served as the Assistant Road Capitan for B Flight during this year’s run.  With over 250 motorcycles participating in 13 flights, they presented quite a sight running down the roads and highways. In many towns and communities, observers lined the streets waving flags and cheering them on.  During the run, the riders visited different American Legion Posts and had wreathe laying ceremonies at several Veterans’ Memorials and National Cemeteries. 

To learn more about the American Legion Riders and the Legacy Run, visit www.legion.org/riders.

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