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Wreck claims young Colmesneil woman

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By Chris Edwards

SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY – A multiple-vehicle crash in San Augustine County left a young Colmesneil woman dead, another seriously injured and a community in mourning.

According to the crash report from the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Tuesday evening, at approximately 5:45 p.m., a Kia passenger car was northbound along FM 1277, and failed to yield to the right-of-way from a stop sign and headed into the path of an eastbound vehicle on state highway 103. The driver of the Kia was identified by DPS as 18-year-old Lacy Reynolds of Colmesneil, and she was pronounced dead at the scene by a San Augustine Justice of the peace. A passenger in the vehicle, Kaitlyn Byrum, 17, of Colmesneil, was transported via helicopter to a hospital in Tyler.

The driver of the other vehicle involved in the fatal crash, identified as Joe Worry, a 37-year-old San Augustine man, was transported to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital in Lufkin for treatment. There is no report on Worry’s condition, but sources indicate that Byrum has undergone tests and is showing some improvement.

While investigators with DPS were investigating the crash, a Freightliner tractor truck semi-trailer was eastbound and, according to the report, took evasive action to avoid the crash, and left the roadway, striking a parked pickup truck.

The news of Reynolds’ passing sent shockwaves through her hometown. The 18-year-old recent graduate of Colmesneil High School was involved in the community and a myriad of extracurricular activities in school. She was the 2019 CHS Homecoming Queen and represented Colmesneil as a Dogwood Princess last year.

Reynolds was attending Stephen F. Austin State University, majoring in business, where she’d recently been named to the President’s List. Her mother, Chrissy Reynolds, in a public social media post following the crash urged everyone to pray for Byrum, her cousin, and stated that although the family’s “hearts are completely shattered,” the family and friends know that Lacy “is walking those streets of gold.”

Several events that were scheduled for CISD were canceled or postponed in light of the crash. The crash remains under investigation by DPS.

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WWII vet Netherland dies

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WWII vet Hermon NetherlandCOURTESY PHOTO WWII vet Hermon Netherland

By Chris Edwards

COLMESNEIL – Longtime Colmesneil resident and World War II hero Hermon Netherland died last Friday. He was 94.

Netherland had lived on Lake Amanda since retiring from Texaco in 1985. He was a war hero who participated in almost every major campaign of the war in the Pacific as a part of the U.S. Navy. Netherland, who was born on April 21, 1926, in Enterprise, Louisiana, was raised in Port Arthur, and signed up to join the service at the age of 15. In an interview in 2019 with a regional publication that published an issue focused on WWII veterans in the area, Netherland recalled how he was encouraged to sign up at such a young age after a friend who was his same age joined, a fact that did not make his father happy.

Netherland said he spent a year wearing his father down, and at 16, he was able to be enlisted, in 1942, at the height of the war.

He was qualified in service as both a signalman and a frogman and was involved with several dangerous invasion campaigns. He was present for the invasions of Guam, Sai Pan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines and the Marshall Islands. At Iwo Jima, he was hit by a mortar, which left shrapnel in his back, some of which remained in him, and resulted in nagging pain throughout the rest of his service years.

After his discharge, he worked at the Texaco refinery in Port Arthur for many years, and following retirement, he and his wife Velma moved to Colmesneil. He was known as a friendly, soft-spoken man who was always willing and ready to lend a helping hand. In spite of his illustrious record as a combat veteran and his tall, imposing frame, many remember him as an incredibly kind, interesting and giving man. He enjoyed the comfort of his home on the lake, and outdoor pursuits, such as fishing, hunting and gardening, and he was a devoted, highly knowledgeable collector of antiques, jewelry, art and motorcycle memorabilia.

Netherland’s minster, Dr. Keith Bellamy, of the Woodville Church of Christ said that in spite of all that Netherland had endured and his record of combat duty, he had told him once “I don’t hate anyone.”

Scott Mitchell, who ministers at the Warren Church of Christ and volunteers to drive the VA van to appointments at the Houston VA Hospital, was a friend of Netherland’s and called him “a rare breed that most will never understand or could live up to.”

“He’s one more of the ‘greatest generation’ to leave this world,” Mitchell wrote on Facebook.

Last year, Netherland’s close friend and neighbor Kirsten Hardmant put out a call on social media to help gather donations to get him a powered lift chair, as it was getting harder for him to get up from his old recliner. Although many donations came through, when Mann Furniture owner Lee Mann got wind of the effort, he donated a lift chair to Netherland. The older man was a friend of Mann’s from church, and although the funds were more than sufficient to purchase such a chair from Mann’s business, he would not hear of it, and insisted donating the chair to his friend. Both Mann and Netherland then suggested that the money be put toward a Warren family whose home had burned down.

Hardmant said at the time that although Netherland “sometimes needs a little help,” he rarely asked for it, and was always more concerned with others.

She said that often when Netherland would go out to enjoy breakfast at the Bulldog Country Café in Colmesneil, he would be “like a magnet,” and many men and women would come up to him and thank him for his service and want to talk to him and would often buy his breakfast.

Bellamy said that at Netherland’s request, there will be no service for him, but at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 28, there will be a gathering at the Woodville Church of Christ to honor those who helped to take care of him.

Netherland was preceded in death by his wife, Velma, and daughter, Sharon.

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Western Weekend continues Dogwood Festival season

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FestivalOfTheArts 2021 002JIM POWERS | PCPC The Festival of the Arts was held at Heritage Village in Woodville last Saturday and kicked off the Dogwood Festival in traditional fashion. Festival goers enjoyed a variety of demonstrations, a quilt show and live music.

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – With the Festival of the Arts in the books to kick off the Dogwood Festival’s three weekends of celebrations, Western Weekend is now upon Tyler Countians.

The return of the Dogwood Festival to its traditional schedule, following a retooled 2020 festival due to the pandemic, will find Tyler County residents enjoying two evenings of rodeo, sponsored by the Woodville Lions Club, and plenty of other events.

The rodeo will take place at the county fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively. This year’s rodeo will be a Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) sanctioned event, produced by Branded for Christ Rodeo Productions.

A big part of the Western Weekend activities are trailrides, according to the festival’s directors, which are kept up in an effort to preserve the heritage of the East Texas cowboy and to enjoy the natural beauty afforded by the region. More than 2,000 trailriders, on average, travel by horseback and wagon to Woodville during the final weekend in March. One locally organized trailride is looking to pay tribute to the past, while embracing the present.

Kendall Coleman has organized a trailride called “Cowboys United: Calling all Trailriders,” which is calling for all trailriders from around the region and begins with the gates opening at 3 p.m. on Friday, at the location of Highway 190 and county road 3510 in Woodville. The warm-up ride will depart on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m., with the lineup for the parade at 1 p.m.

Another tradition for Western Weekend is the Western Weekend Sweetheart and Junior Sweetheart contests, in which girls aged 10-13 years are eligible for Junior Sweetheart and those who are 14-23 years of age are eligible for the Senior Sweetheart. The contestants are all judged on their horsemanship, appearance and interviews. The sweetheart horsemanship competition takes place on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

In other Dogwood Festival news, the Queen’s Weekend parade entries have been extended to this Friday. The entry form can be found at https://www.tylercountydogwoodfestival.org.

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TCSO investigating Sunday morning homicide

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CrimeScene

By Chris Edwards

SPURGER – Authorities are investigating a homicide that occurred early Sunday morning near Spurger.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies responded to a residence located on FM 1013, west of Spurger at 1:45 a.m., in reference to an individual being shot.
Weatherford said that once the deputies were on the scene, they observed several individuals standing over the victim, a male, who appeared to have been shot multiple times in the chest and stomach area. The man, whose identity is not being released at this time by Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, pending his family’s notifications, was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Jim Moore. An autopsy will be conducted within the week in Beaumont.

Weatherford said that prior to the victim being pronounced deceased, CPR was being administered to the victim, and the deputies assisted with medical attention until EMS arrived.

TCSO deputies, along with Department of Public Safety state troopers were able to secure the scene and locate several shell casings near the victim’s body.

Weatherford said that the residence was the scene of a party, where more than 100 individuals were gathered, yet “very little cooperation is being given by individuals that may have witnessed the shooting itself, or that are withholding information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) responsible for this homicide.”

The murder was especially shocking to Kendall Coleman, owner of Coleman’s Family Mortuary and a community leader in Woodville. The victim’s body was taken to Coleman’s mortuary, and he made a public video on Facebook on Sunday morning. He said he had been hanging out at the party the night before, and when he received the call to come recover the victim’s body, it shocked him. He called the crime a “senseless act.”

“Somebody saw something, somebody knows something. I’m pleading to you (to come forward) …it happened right here, in Tyler County,” Coleman said, and added that whoever committed the crime needs to be held accountable. “Do the right thing, turn yourself in,” Coleman said in the video, addressing whoever is responsible.

Coleman said although he did not know the victim, it seemed especially tragic when he learned the man was a father and said that he especially feels sorrow for his family.

Weatherford said that the circumstances around the murder are giving investigators a hard time identifying who the actor(s) may be.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at 409-283-2172, or Crime Stoppers at 936-639-TIPS. Tipsters calling into the Crime Stoppers hotline with information that leads to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward.

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WISD coach Mixon dies

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2 Jennifer Mixon 031821FILE PHOTO Jennifer Mixon

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE –  Longtime Woodville ISD educator and coach Jennifer Mixon died last week at the age of 50.

Mixon died on Friday at Lakeside Lodge in Brookeland. She had been fighting breast cancer for several years and undergoing treatments. WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said Mixon had, in more than 20 years with the district, impacted the lives of many and left behind “a legacy of strength, courage, caring and commitment.”

A public funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday at Eagle Stadium, with a graveside service to follow at 1 p.m. in Little Hope Cemetery in the Beech Grove community. WISD is cancelling classes on Thursday so that all students, staff and families who wish to do so will have the opportunity to pay their respects.

“Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as we all mourn her loss together,” Meysembourg said.

The athletic director of the WISD girls’ program, Troy Carrell, called Mixon “the backbone of our girls’ athletic program,” and said she will be greatly missed.

“She has had the opportunity to touch countless numbers of students as well as teachers and coaches alike,” Carrell said.

“Coach Mixon was a perfect example of what it meant to be a Lady Eagle. She always held everyone to high standards and expected only the best of what you had to offer both on and off the court,” he added.

Education and athletic leadership ran deep in Mixon’s blood, as her late father, Jerry Ives, was a longtime respected and beloved coach at Elkhart High School. After his death, the school’s stadium was named in his honor. Her brother, Jason, has also served as a coach and administrator. Her husband Shawn has also served as a football and softball coach for WISD.

In addition to her husband and brother, Mixon is survived by two daughters, Shelby and Emily and her mother Darlene, as well as numerous other family members.

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