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Western Weekend Kicks Off Friday

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WesternWeekend STOCK

Special to the Booster

WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Dogwood Festival Western Weekend, which is the second weekend of the festival, is this weekend, running March 29-30.

The Western Weekend Parade is an event that many spectators attend every year and has been around for more than 60 years. In 1958, 75 horseback riders formed on Highway 190 West at the Dickens County Line Store and rode to Woodville in time to join the Dogwood Festival Parade.  These riders came back every year to join the Dogwood Parade until 1968, when the trail bosses asked for their own parade, and Western Weekend as we now know it was started.   

The parades were once very large, and at one time, more than 1,500 horses and riders rode in the parade.

The Western Weekend parade will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday the 30. The parade will begin at the intersection of Highway 69 and Highway 287, and will end at the Rodeo Arena, on 190 West.  The parade will feature various trail rides, wagons, floats, and tractors.

The Woodville Lions Club will again sponsor an open rodeo on Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, March 30 at 4:30 p.m. The rodeo is a CPRA sanctioned event and will be produced by Bubba Miller with Branded for Christ Rodeo Company.  The rodeo will feature the following events:  Junior NFR bull riding, mini bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, barrel racing, bareback riding, and team roping.


There will be a calf scramble for kids aged 10-13 years old.  There will also be a goat scramble for kids aged 3-9 years old.  Entry fee for both the calf scramble and goat scramble will be $5 and sign-ups will be held before each rodeo performance.

An event that everyone looks forward to is Mutton Bustin’ for the little cowboys and cowgirls. The cost is $30 per ride, and there will be Mutton Bustin’ at both the Friday and Saturday performances. This year, the Mutton Bustin’ will get started before the actual rodeo begins.

On Friday, March 29, the Mutton Bustin’ will start at 6 p.m. Books will open at 5, and will close at 6 p.m. On Saturday, March 30, Mutton Bustin’ will start at 3:30 p.m. Books will be open from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30p.m. Sign-ups will be at the Rodeo Arena under the cover stand (there will be signs posted). All participants must be 7 years and under and 60 pounds.

For more information on the parade, or to inquire about a parade entry, contact Martin Spurlock, Western Weekend Director, at 409-429-6308.

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White named ‘Mr. East Texas’

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Jas White

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Former State Rep. James White has another honor to add to his already impressive mantle or brag wall – that of Mr. East Texas.

Last week, the Dogwood Festival board of directors made its announcement that White has been bestowed the title for the 2024 festival year. White, a Hillister resident, said he is extremely honored to be this year’s Mr. East Texas, and wishes everyone a joyful Dogwood celebration.

The award, according to the Dogwood Festival directors, is given at the operating board of directors’ discretion to an East Texan resident “who best exemplifies the spirit and quality of leadership which advances, shapes and gives direction to the growth and progress of East Texas.”

The award was first established in 1967, and White joins an impressive list of honorees, which includes philanthropists such as Walter Umphrey and Joe Penland; medical pioneers such as Dr. Red Duke and men and women of letters such as Dr. F.E. “Ab” Abernethy.

White, who is a proud fifth-generation Texas native, was born in Houston and attended public school in Houston ISD.

He graduated with honors from Prairie View A&M in 1986. He earned a B.A. in political science, and later completed a doctorate in poli sci at the University of Houston.

In 1986, White was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Infantry. He served with the Berlin Brigade from 1987-90 during the fall of the Soviet Union.

After his military career, White began a career in public education, and served in districts in the Houston area, as well as Fort Bend, Livingston and at Woodville ISD.

As a classroom teacher, White taught history, geography, government and economics, and also taught classes concurrently, at the college and high school level. He also worked as a coach, and coached high school football, basketball and soccer.

White began his career in politics in 2010, when he was elected to serve his first term in the state House of Representatives.

White served House District 19, which was comprised of Tyler, Angelina, Trinity, San Jacinto, Polk, Jasper, Newton and Hardin counties. Even before being elected to serve in the state legislature, White was involved in politics as a chair of the Harris County GOP, for which he served as both precinct chair (from 1993-2005) and Senatorial District Chair from 2000-05.

During his 11-year run in the House, White served as chair of the Corrections Committee for two legislative sessions and served on the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

White addressed challenges in the state’s juvenile justice and child support systems, and also passed key legislation that helped military veterans and strengthened the logging industry in the region.

White is currently serving as the executive director of the Texas Funeral Service Commission. He resigned from the House in 2022 to take the job, following an unsuccessful bid for the state’s office of Agriculture Commissioner.

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Former cop pleads guilty to indecency charge

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By Chris Edwards
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MUGSHOT DeesWOODVILLE – Johnathan Broussard Dees, a former law enforcement officer and Doucette resident, who is currently serving time for multiple sex offenses against children, pleaded guilty to another charge on Monday in District Court.

Dees was charged with Indecency with a Child by Exposure. According to Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin, a plea deal netted Dees a five-year sentence, which will run concurrently with his existing sentence he is serving. Those sentences run until March 2029.

The five-year sentence handed down in 2023 to Dees was for convictions in Jasper and Orange counties. The victim in the Tyler County case, according to Babin, was the same victim in the case from Orange County.

Dees was arrested in September of 2022 by the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office on another indecency charge (sexual contact). At the time he was already registered as a sex offender; classified as a low-level offender, with a requirement for annual verification.

His offender status stemmed from an investigation on an incident from 2006, where he sexually assaulted a child under the age of 14, according to one account of his crime. He had worked as a sheriff’s deputy for both Jasper and Jefferson counties.

Dees was indicted in December of 2011 for the charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony. He took a plea bargain in 2016, and avoided jail, with seven years’ deferred adjudication, a $2,500 fine and 160 hours of community service, along with the lifetime sex offender registration requirement and a permanent surrender of his peace officer license.

The conviction on the 2022 charge got him the five-year sentence he is currently serving, and he is being held at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville. Records indicate he is eligible for parole in March 2026.

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Harmon named to DETCOG leadership position

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Andrew Harmon DETCOG

By Chris Edwards
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LUFKIN – Last Friday, the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and Economic Development District announced Tyler County native Andrew Harmon to serve as the new Assistant Executive Director.

Harmon will work under DETCOG’s executive director Lonnie Hunt and said “I’m thrilled to announce my new role as the Assistant Executive Director…it’s an honor to have been selected, and I’m blessed to be in a position to serve my community in this capacity.”

Harmon, who graduated Colmesneil High School, earned college degrees at the University of Texas in Austin, and dating back to his high school career, has worked in service-based positions within the community and in governmental entities, having worked for the county as an intern.

He also worked as a journalist, having written for the Tyler County Booster during his high school days as a stringer reporter and later as part of an internship while obtaining his master’s degree.

He has been employed by the state’s General Land Office since graduating with his master’s degree from UT.

“Although I’ll miss my time at the GLO, I’m proud of the direction the agency is heading under Commissioner Dawn Buckingham’s leadership,” he said.

Harmon added that he is “grateful for the relationships I formed during my time at the GLO, and I’m excited to continue working with many familiar faces in this new capacity.”

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Texas files Colony Ridge suit for fraudulent practices

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Lawsuit STOCK

Residents of the Houston-area development, who were maligned by Republicans last year, have complained about the developer for years.

By Alejandro Serrano,
Texas Tribune

HOUSTON — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday sued Houston-area developer Colony Ridge for committing deceptive trade practices and real estate fraud against homebuyers there, months after state Republicans claimed many residents were undocumented immigrants and the area was a hub for drug cartels.

The state’s allegations mirror a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in December that alleged Colony Ridge lured thousands of Latinos into seller-financed mortgages and set them up to face foreclosure. The alleged practice, repeated thousands of times, destroyed those Latinos’ dreams of owning property, government officials said.

Paxton’s suit filed in federal court in Houston marks the most significant action to date taken by the state, whose agencies have received complaints from Colony Ridge residents for years about potential problems — including some that echoed the federal government’s allegations of financial wrongdoing. However, the state had little to show for those complaints, according to an investigation by The Texas Tribune and Houston Landing.

“Colony Ridge’s business model is predicated on churning land purchasers through foreclosure mill,” Paxton’s lawsuit says. “Namely, Colony Ridge targets foreign born and Hispanic consumers with limited or no access to credit with promises of cheap, ready to build land and financing without proof of income.”

A Colony Ridge spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Right-wing media last year portrayed the development as a magnet for undocumented immigrants and criminal activity. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered lawmakers to address the development, but legislators struggled to craft bills that addressed the area after hearing from local officials and the developer. The Legislature ultimately approved up to $40 million in funds that could be used to pay for state troopers to patrol the Liberty County development.

A 2023 Houston Landing investigation found Colony Ridge had reacquired 45% of the 35,000-plus properties it had sold since 2012. The company’s practices raised concerns of a predatory lending scheme, experts told the Landing, which published the report in December, days before the Justice Department announced its lawsuit.


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