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Aircraft safe, after all (UPDATE)

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Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)Staff Sgt. Jordan L. McFarland (left), 2nd Operations Support Squadron air traffic control craftsman, and Senior Airman Hunter J. Maggard, 2nd OSS air traffic control apprentice (right), keep an eye out for an aircraft that is scheduled to land at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, August 22, 2019. While working eight hour shifts in a small tower, the 2nd OSS air traffic controllers are able to spend a lot of time getting to better know their wingmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)

From the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office

On March 3, 2021, at approximately 2 PM, the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a military plane flying low to the ground, with smoke coming from the engine.

The citing was reported near the Tyler and Polk County line. First responders concentrated search efforts around and near FM 1943, West of Warren, to Highway 190 West of Woodville, into Polk County.

The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers and Air units, Texas Game Wardens, Texas Forest Service, Warren Fire Department, Tyler County Emergency Management Office, Alabama Coushatta Fire Department and Air and Ground Medical units from Southeast Texas participated in the search.

Approximately 2 hours later, responders received information that the aircraft had made a safe landing at the Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Weatherford said, “Thank you to all our Southeast Texas Federal, State, and local first responders. To protect and serve is truly a team effort.”

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Aircraft in distress lands safely

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N1805P42006CFILE PHOTO

There was a report of a plane in distress from Polk County. The incident was reported on the Tyler and Polk County line. The search quickly moved to the Southern Tyler County area between Warren and Buddy Lowe road. 

Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, along with Tyler County Sheriff's Office deputies and first responders from multiple agencies searched the scene.

Police scanner said it landed safely at an Air Force base and was identified as a helicopter.

More to follow.

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Tyler Countians encouraged to take broadband survey

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NEWS Broadband IllustrationIllustration by Mohamed Hassan | PIXABAY

By Chris Edwards

TYLER COUNTY –  A survey is available online to gauge the broadband internet needs of Tyler County residents. The survey, which launched in early February, is being put forth by the Connected Nation Texas, a localized division of a national non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to broadband.

The survey launched in early February, but the response has been hamstrung by the recent winter storm, and the loss of utilities for many.

“We understand that everyone across Tyler County should have access to the resources they need and can find online for themselves, their families, their work and more,” said Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette.

Pamela Waggoner, a community technology adviser with Connected Nation Texas, said that Blanchette, along with Woodville ISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg have been local champions in getting the word out about the survey. The survey is available online for residents to take at the URL Connectednation.org/Texas, and Waggoner said that Meysembourg has paper copies available, and copies of the survey in Spanish, as well, for anyone in need, by calling her office at 409-283-3752 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“Basically, what we’re trying to do as Connected Nation Texas is to understand broadband availability needs in Tyler County,” Waggoner said. “The better info we have, the better the information we can provide to provide solutions for the county.”

Blanchette said that local residents’ input, along with that of businesses, community organizations and other demographics within the county, will help to identify challenges and provide solutions to bringing broadband access to the county.

“The better educated Tyler County officials are, the better the opportunities are for grants. The monies are only available for a certain amount of time, and if they know [the county] can use the resource efficiently, it has a better chance of being funded,” Waggoner said.

Tyler County is one of 27 counties asked to participate in a statewide effort led by Connected Nation Texas and funded by the Texas Rural Funders at no cost to the county.

“Having access to the internet means having access to doctors and specialists through telehealth, a global market for our small businesses, educational opportunities for our children and so much more,” Blanchette said.

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Annual celebration taking place at Heritage Village

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Judith Haney Toasting Texas 2018JIM POWERS | PCPC FILE PHOTO A group of celebrants, led by Judith Haney, give their toast to Texas during the 2018 annual event at Heritage Village.

By Chris Edwards

Heritage Village in Woodville is gearing up for its annual event to celebrate of Texas Independence Day. It will take place on Tuesday, March 2.

Festivities will begin at 1 p.m. out at the Village Stage, weather-permitting. Masks are required, and seating will be spaced-out, in accordance with recommended social distancing guidelines.

Come and join Texans and honorary Texans in saluting this sacred holiday to our state. The celebration at the Village includes a toast with pure East Texas spring water.

The event is held to coincide with the time and date in 1836 when a group gathered at Washingon-on-the-Brazos to sign a Declaration of Independence from Mexico, which set forth the creation of the Republic of Texas, an independent country for almost 10 years.

Texas Highways magazine suggested that Texans all commemorate the event by stopping whatever they happen to be doing at 2 p.m. on March 2 to drink a toast to Texas. In 1993, historian Joe Franz, who often contributed to the magazine composed a poem to commemorate the event.

Texas Highways, also suggested, according to Dottie Johnson’s “At the Village” column in the Feb. 23, 1994 edition of the Tyler County Booster, that those celebrating Texas Independence Day might also want to write and use an original toast, and the Heritage Society followed suit with their own toast that was used in the program.

Students in Texas History classes from area schools also got involved in writing original toasts, as well.

 

“Texas Toast” by Joe B. Franz 

To Texas: 

Joyous and Sparkling, 

Ever green when it rains, enduring in drought, 

Timeless, endless in boundaries, exciting, 

Home to the adventurous of yesterday and today, 

with shrines from the past 

and space and spirit for the future. 

To Texas, 

Everlasting in the hearts of your people! 

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Tyler County eligible for FEMA funding

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Donna 190 PhotoDONNA HAMMER | TCB Snow, ice and impassible roads were an unusual sight for Tyler County, as well as the rest of the state last week.

Lawmakers set to hear ERCOT testimony

By Chris Edwards

In the aftermath of last week’s winter storms, although the ice and snow have melted and the temperatures have risen, most areas of Texas sustained damages as a result, and Tyler County is one of the counties eligible for federal disaster assistance.

President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, Feb. 20, making most of the state eligible for federal relief funding. At press time, 108 of the state’s 254 counties were eligible. Initially, 77 were named as eligible for public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but on Monday, 31 further counties were added to the list.

The assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and businesses recover from the disaster’s effects, according to a news release from the White House.

The request made by Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 13 for the presidential disaster declaration included all of Texas’s counties.

Abbott said on Monday that additional counties will continue to be re-requested and urged Texans who have suffered damage from the storm to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) Individual Assistance Reporting Tool, a form found on its website, located at tdem.texas.gov.

Completing the form will help state officials to identify damages across the state and help emergency management officials gain an understanding for reportage to FEMA.

All of the counties within the region were included on the list of FEMA-eligible counties, save for Newton, which Rep. James White said he had inquired to TDEM about, and added that Rep. Brian Babin is working with FEMA to get its status as FEMA-eligible.

“Congressman Babin and I will stay on top of this until we get the answer Newton County deserves,” White said.

Power outages were the primary utility concern for many Texans during the storm, but many also went without water. As of Friday, power had been restored to all Tyler County residents, but there were still around 1,200 residents without water, according to the county’s Emergency Management Office.

For some of the millions of Texans who were left without electricity, it was reported that some electric consumers received extremely high bills, which is something Abbott said he and other state leaders are working to find solutions for.

On Saturday, the Texas Tribune reported that Abbott held an emergency meeting with lawmakers to discuss the issue, and the Public Utility Commission met on Sunday to sign two orders: one for providers to put a temporary moratorium on disconnections for power or water customers for non-payment and another for companies to stop sending invoices or bill estimates to customers until, in the words of PUC chair DeAnn Walker “we work through issues of how we are going to financially manage the situation we are in.”

Abbott also has given the directive to power companies and lawmakers to winterize the state’s power infrastructure, something that was lacking to keep the various power sources online during the record-low temperatures.

White said he is committed to addressing the causes and implementing the solutions in order to prepare for such extreme weather events in the future, but not promoting agendas. During and after the storm, many public figures and lawmakers voiced opinions on the state’s infrastructure. Fox News’s commentator Tucker Carlson blamed the predicament on wind turbines, while former congressman Beto O’Rourke said that Abbott chose to ignore facts and science; that state Democrats in the House had been warning of a potential blackout for years.

Part of Abbott’s directive was for the legislature to investigate the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texans, or about 90% of the state’s electric load.

White said he reached out to ERCOT and spoke with their legal counsel, as well as Bill Magness, the president and CEO of ERCOT. White said that although ERCOT requested two orders to provide a variance to generating entities to provide power generation above licensed levels (one to TCEQ and another to the federal Department of Energy) and neither order restricted, prohibited or eliminated electricity generation during the storm.

White said that ERCOT stated it was up to the owner of the power generation unit to take advantage of the increase variance, and that ERCOT should have a list of the generating units that utilized the TCEQ variance, the DoE variance or those that chose to do nothing.

“I look forward to listening to the committee testimony by ERCOT for consistency,” White said.

White and the rest of the state legislature are expected to hear testimony from ERCOT officials on Thursday in hearings in Austin.

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