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Weatherford named to Burke board

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Bryan Weatherford 020421 copyMUGSHOT Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford was named to the Burke Board of Trustees as an ex-officio, or non-voting, member.

The Burke network services the 12-county deep East Texas region, serviced by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and provides mental health services. Weatherford, along with another law enforcement leader, Sheriff Jason Bridges of Nacogdoches County, were named to the board, with appointments resulting from Senate Bill 632 of the 86th Texas Legislature.

The bill promotes cooperation between local mental health authorities and law enforcement by appointing sheriffs or sheriffs’ representatives, to their local governing boards as non-voting members.

“I am honored to have been elected to serve as a Burke Center Trustee,” said Weatherford. “This position will allow me the opportunity to represent not only Tyler County, but all 12 counties in the DETCOG region.”

According to a news release from the Burke organization, Weatherford was appointed to represent the smaller counties of the region and Bridges will represent the larger ones.

“I want to make sure the citizens of Tyler County and East Texas continue to receive the necessary mental health care treatment,” said Weatherford.

The Burke network was established in 1974 as the Deep East Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, which is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees.

The network has grown from a small organization, which offered limited services, into a major behavioral health provider, which serves more than 5,000 people annually, through a variety of services, according to its website.

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Birthday message discovered on Toledo Bend

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Pardue NotePHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SABINE PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE The note that arrived at Toledo Bend.

Fred boy’s balloon, message travel 100 miles

By Chris Edwards

TOLEDO BEND – A three-day journey of a birthday balloon over the course of a hundred miles resulted in a heartwarming story shared by the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, Jan. 28, deputies with the agency in Sabine Parish were called out to a residence on Toledo Bend lake in reference to a discovery of a handwritten note.

The note, which the caller said had turned up on their property, stated it was from a five-year-old boy in Fred, named Bryan Pardue, and gave instructions to call the boy at a number written on the note, if found.

PardueBryan Pardue

Sabine Parish Sheriff Aaron Mitchell shared the story to the department’s Facebook page and said that further investigation revealed the note was originally attached to a Happy Birthday balloon, and released on Pardue’s birthday, which was on Monday, Jan. 25. The note and balloon had travelled 100 miles from Fred, which sits in the extreme southeastern part of Tyler County to Sabine Parish, which sits along the western borderline of Louisiana and Texas. Deputies called the number and talked to the boy’s great-grandmother.

Mitchell said the deputies asked the great-grandmother to send them a photograph of the boy, and that he was “so happy” his note was found.

When the story was shared to the Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook, it was shared more than 1,500 times as of Monday and resulted in a swell of birthday wishes for Pardue.

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Weatherford named to state jail standards commission

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Weatherford 01 14 21FILE PHOTO Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

By Chris Edwards

AUSTIN – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, who just recently began serving another term has another reason to celebrate: an appointment from the governor.

Last week, Weatherford was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as one of the nine-member Commission on Jail Standards. He will fill an unexpired/vacated position that was occupied by Dennis Wilson, the Sheriff of Groesbeck County. Wilson’s term ends on Jan. 31.

Weatherford will begin serving his six-year term on the commission, once he is confirmed by the state senate.

He is looking forward to serving in that capacity, in addition to his duties as Tyler County Sheriff.
He said it is exciting to him, personally, that East Texas voices are able to be heard in Austin, but above all, he wants to make sure that he does the job.

“I want to make sure that I do a good job on representing our county in the aspect that the jails are running up to the standards set forth by the Commission,” Weatherford said. “I’m really excited about this appointment,” he added.

The Texas Commission on State Jail Standards serves as the regulatory body for all of the county jails in the state, as well as privately operated municipal jails. It was created by the state legislature in 1975 to implement a statewide policy for all jails under its jurisdiction to conform to a minimum standard for the care and treatment of inmates, as well as the construction, maintenance and operation of jails.

Weatherford has served and protected Tyler County citizens for 30 years in various capacities. He worked first as a police officer for the City of Woodville, then as a Justice of the Peace and most recently as Sheriff, after he was elected to his first term in 2013. Weatherford and his wife Ashley, who serves as the Director of Curriculum/Federal Programs for the Woodville Independent School District, are both Tyler County natives.

Public service runs in Weatherford’s family, as his brother Brad is a Texas Ranger with the Texas Department of Public Safety and one of his sons, Tyler Bryan, is employed as a DPS State Trooper.

Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Milton Powers will administer the Oath of Office to Weatherford at a later date.

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Longtime Tyler Countian to turn 100

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3 Old Photo FranFran with her baton and her brother with his trumpet during high school days.

By Chris Edwards

Each trip around the sun is a cause for celebration, but for those who hit the century mark, that achievement is definitely worthy of a big celebration.

Centenarians are becoming more common nowadays, with all of the advances in healthcare and nutrition available. According to the most recent numbers from the Census Bureau, there are around 97,000 centenarians in the United States, and nearly 573,000 around the world.

Yet, still, many of those who reach 100 years young are not without some complications. Longtime Colmesneil resident Frances Ellen “Fran” Wyche is the exception. Wyche, who recently moved to Zavalla, to live with her son on his small farm, still finds a great deal to enjoy from life and activities to keep her mind, body and spirit young and free.

Wyche will celebrate her 100th year on Monday, Jan. 18, and according to her younger sister Mary Ann Kittell, of Colmesneil, she has kept busy all of her life.

Wyche was the first-born child of Herman Walton and Ila Lee. Her father, a WWI combat veteran, had started his family in Detroit, where he had returned after the war to re-settle into his old job as City Electrical Engineer.

4 young Fran 011420A young Fran Wyche.

Her father was always encouraging of her pursuits growing up, and chief among them was twirling. According to Kittell, their father managed to find the best twirling teachers and even fashioned her batons in his metal shop, perfecting balance and innovation.

Wyche was also the first to use a fire baton, which features materials at each end with a chemical mix to ignite blue, yellow, green and red at the right moment.

She spent her childhood growing up in the Beaumont area, and became the state baton-twirling champion in 1939. Later, she won the national title. Her little brother Tommy was no slouch as a twirler, himself, and took the second-place honors toward the state title in 1939.

Kittell, who is nearly 89, herself, remembered when she and her sister, their parents and other siblings moved to Texas. She recalls it like it was yesterday. “There was no electricity out there in, and it was a shell road. We lived off the old Highway 90 in Amelia,” she said.

Wyche’s talents and lust for life and adventure took her far outside Southeast Texas. After years of ballet and tap dancing, she came home from Baylor to perform in shows that promoted the sale of war bonds and other benefits at the start of the U.S. involvement in World War II.

She married her high school sweetheart, who was a U.S Air Corps pilot, and traveled around the country, as well as into Okinawa, Japan and through China, and beyond. After spending time in Beaumont and Houston, and raising her son, Robin, and surviving two husbands, she worked a variety of jobs, including a stint as a receptionist at NASA. She also managed her brother’s restaurant in Colorado for a time, and later returned home to be with her aging mother and to help her sister at the BBB with public relations and memberships for a decade.

When she moved to Tyler County in 1974, she joined the Round Dance club at the Opera House and helped out as a hostess at the Friday night dinner dances and for many other occasions, her sister noted.

2 Drum Major FranFran as a drum major in high school. Her talent for performing took her far when she was young.

Last year, Wyche moved from her home on Frog Pond in Colmesneil to Zavalla, where she enjoys being around the animals on her son’s farm. “She’s always loved horses,” said Kittell.
Kittell said Wyche still enjoys her half-mile walks each day and enjoys visiting with neighbors and gardening. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren are frequent visitors, and although her eyesight is dimming, her mind is still sharp, and she enjoys reading and watching television, and good conversation.

She also still looks much, much younger than her years. Kittell joked that she could still pass for her little sister. “She was my baby sister until she turned 90,” Kittell said with a laugh.
Although the pandemic has curbed most celebrations, Kittell has put forth a challenge to Booster readers to surprise her sister with cards to commemorate her milestone.

1 Fran Wyche Recent 011421A recent photo of Fran Wyche

Anyone who would like to wish this remarkable lady a happy birthday can send a card by way of the Tyler County Booster. Just send them to Frances Ellen Wyche c/o 205 West Bluff, Woodville, Texas 75979.

NOTE: All photos are provided courtesy of Mary Ann Kittell

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Jasper man indicted on child rape charges

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MUGSHOT Anibal VillasanaAnibal Mauricio Villasana Courtesy of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department

WOODVILLE –  A Tyler County grand jury handed down an indictment to a Jasper man on child rape charges.

Anibal Mauricio Villasana, a 61-year-old Jasper resident, was indicted by the jury on two counts of Indecency with a Child by Sexual Contact. Villasana’s indictment came after an investigation regarding incidents alleged to have occurred in Tyler County. The information was submitted by Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin and his staff following the investigation.

Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said that the Texas Rangers worked on the case.

Villasana, according to a news release, has worked for the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department for more than 20 years. He has worked in various capacities within that county’s jail, including as head of kitchen staff, head of maintenance and jailer.

A statement made by Jasper County Chief Deputy Scotty Duncan to Jasper-based radio station KJAS affirmed that Villasana had been places on leave with pay, pending the case’s outcome.

Villasana reportedly turned himself in to the Tyler County Justice Center on Tuesday morning, and was released after making arrangements to post his bail, which was pre-set at $100,000, or $50,000 per charge.

The charges handed down to Villasana are a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 per charge, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.

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