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Big Thicket National Preserve Announces Summer Programs

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KOUNTZE, Texas – Are you looking for something to do during the summer when family comes to visit or when the kids need to get out of the house? Experience Big Thicket National Preserve with a variety of free summer programs, including canoe trips, nature walks, free fishing days, and more. 
Ranger-led Programs 
Explore Big Thicket with a ranger! We’re excited to host free ranger-led activities every weekend this summer. Take a nature walk and learn about carnivorous plants, life on the bayou, and other topics. Our popular canoe trips on certain Saturdays and Thursdays provide a relaxing way to see the Big Thicket’s scenic waters. And see the park after dark on a night hike! Check the calendar of events for more information. 
Kids to Parks Day 
Kids to Parks Day is a national day of outdoor play on Saturday, May 21. This annual celebration connects kids and families with Big Thicket while promoting discovery and exploration in the great outdoors. Check out the three activities for this year’s event: learn more about paddling from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Baby Galvez boat launch in Silsbee, test your map skills while hiking the Sundew Trail, and try a scavenger hunt for Big Thicket’s animals at the visitor center. During the event, pick up a free activity book—kids and families who visit all three spots will receive a special patch to take home. For more details, call us at 409-951-6700. 
Free Fishing Days & “Pop-Up” Fishing Events 
Get hooked on fishing this summer at our free fishing events on Saturday, June 4, and Saturday, August 6! From 10 am to 1 pm, join rangers at the Texas Highway 327 boat launch on Village Creek in Silsbee for free fishing and activities. Kids and families can learn about different knots, fishing limits, and fish with a ranger on the banks. Kids who finish all activities will earn a Junior Angler badge. No fishing license is required for free fishing events. 
Also, meet a ranger at “pop-up” fishing events at different Village Creek boat launches on certain weekends. Kids can fish with a ranger, get a free activity book, and earn a Junior Angler badge. A Texas fishing license is required for anyone 17 and older. 
Accessible Thicket Thursdays 
Have you ever avoided a ranger-led hike or skipped exploring the visitor center because of a disability? This opportunity is for you! Accessible Thicket Thursdays are specialized opportunities for those who would feel more comfortable in a smaller, tailored group. Email us or call 409-951-6700 to choose a Thursday and let’s design a program that’s right for you. And learn more about accessibility at Big Thicket. 
Big Thicket National Preserve is in Southeast Texas, near the city of Beaumont and 75 miles northeast of Houston. The preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 113,000 acres. The Big Thicket, often referred to as a “biological crossroads,” is a transition zone between four distinct vegetation types – the moist eastern hardwood forest, the southwestern desert, the southeastern swamp, and the central prairies. Species from all these different vegetation types come together in the thicket, exhibiting a variety of vegetation and wildlife that has received global interest. 
Find general information about Big Thicket National Preserve at our website or call the preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700. Visit us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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Big Thicket National Preserve
US National Park Service

6044 FM 420 Rd.
Kountze, Texas 77625
409-951-6700 - Visitor Center
409-951-6800 - Park Headquarters
@BigThicketNPS(Facebook, Instagram & Twitter)
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Legendary Keen to play in Lufkin Final tour wraps up a 41-year career

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REK Kerrville 2016 08394LUFKIN – The Angelina Arts Alliance is thrilled to announce that Robert Earl Keen will perform at the Temple Theater on Sunday, July 3, 2022, at 7:30 PM.

The Road Goes On Forever…until it doesn’t. Legendary Texas songwriter and entertainer

Robert Earl Keen wraps up 41 years on the road with his 2022 Final Tour, I’m Comin’ Home: 41

Years On The Road.

Keen made the announcement in January 2022, with a personal video posted on his social

media accounts. “I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of brilliant, talented, colorful, electrical, magical folks throughout my life,” Keen said. “This chorus of joy, this parade of passion, this bull rush of creativity, this colony of kindness and generosity are foremost in my thoughts today. It’s with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you that as of September 4,

2022, I will no longer tour or perform publicly.”

With a catalog of 21 albums, his band of stellar musicians, and many thousands of shows under his belt, POLLSTAR ranked Keen in its Top 20 Global Concert Tours in July 2021. Keen has blazed a peer, critic, and fan-lauded trail that’s earned him living-legend status in the Americana music world.

The Americana genre was officially recognized by the music industry in 1998 and Keen was the first artist to be featured on The Gavin Report’s Americana Music Chart and on the debut cover of its magazine.

Keen continues to blaze a trail for other artists with Producer, Clara Rose, and their Americana Podcast. In 2019, Americana Podcast launched with the inaugural episode featuring Jamestown Revival and Lucero. The Americana Podcast has furthered the interest in artists Billy Strings, Lori McKenna, Drew Holcomb and I’m With Her.

A Houston native, Keen is one of the Lone Star State’s legendary singer-songwriters. In 2019, at a homecoming at the Houston Rodeo, Robert performed with his college friend Lyle Lovett. The old friends opened the show for George Strait to a record-breaking audience of more than 80,000.

Keen was weaned on classic rock and Willie Nelson records. By the time he entered Texas A&M University, Robert taught himself how to the play the guitar and turned his poetic musings into songs. These early days are captured in spirit on the Keen/Lyle Lovett co-write, “The Front Porch Song,” which both artists recorded on their respective debut albums, and in Happy

Prisoner, REK’s bluegrass recording.

From the beginning, Keen took the road less travelled. He produced and financed his first album, No Kinda Dancer. Robert began to make a name for himself when he won the Kerrville Folk Festival’s prestigious New Folk Songwriting Competition.

After his debut release, Keen moved to Nashville. He worked at the legendary Hatch Show Print as a pressman. When he returned to Texas, Keen had a publishing deal, a new label, and a national booking agent. He released The Live Album and West Textures, the seminal album which debuted the rowdy rockin’ fan favorite “The Road Goes on Forever.”

Keen had no idea that his song about a couple of ill-fated lovers running afoul of the law would catapult into the stratosphere of classic Americana, but he credits DJ Steve Kaufman of San Antonio radio station KRIO for helping to start the fire. “Steve talked the station into doing sort of a free-form programming format during ‘drive time,’” Keen says. “It was anything he

liked, which turned out to be great music and a last glimpse at the influence of the DJ on

radio. With an organic boost from Kaufman, I went from playing the front room at Gruene Hall for a max of 150 people to playing a show in San Antonio for 1,500 people. That was a moment that kept me going; because before that, I’d been working for 10 years and had a lot of rejection but very little success.”

Fellow Texas icon Joe Ely recorded both “The Road Goes on Forever” and “Whenever Kindness Fails” on his album, Love and Danger, and the secret was out on Keen’s credentials as a songwriter’s songwriter. He is now a member of the Texas Heritage Songwriter Hall of Fame, The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters.

Keen continued to steer clear of the waters of the country mainstream. His authentic alternative to three-and-a-half minute repetitious radio tunes formed the perfect storm of Keen’s literate song craft, razor wit and killer band. It stirred up a grassroots sensation not seen since the ‘70s heyday of maverick outlaw country.

Two more albums, A Bigger Piece of Sky and Gringo Honeymoon, brimmed with instant classics like “Corpus Christi Bay,” “Gringo Honeymoon,” “Dreadful Selfish Crime,” and “Merry Christmas From the Family”.

The live performance, the show, is an essential experience for REK fans. BMI acknowledged Keen’s contribution as a road warrior in 2015 when they honored Robert with the inaugural Troubadour Award.

Keen and his band hit the road, going out 180 days a year, to play dance halls, roadhouses, theaters, and festival grounds with diverse crowds of college kids, serious singer-songwriter fans, and plenty of true believers.

In 2018, Keen returned to College Station to accept the Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni Award. The prestigious honor has been granted to only a few hundred of Texas A&M’s half a million alumni. The award recognizes Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions, made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University, and in their local communities.

 Keen will continue to write music and create, host his popular podcast, support young artists, and follow his artistic muse wherever it takes him.

“We are so excited to be able to present this incredible Texas artist in Lufkin for what is his final tour. This performance demonstrates our continued commitment to bringing the very best performing arts to our community. This performance will likely draw many people to Lufkin from other cities thereby driving tourism and economic development,” said Jennifer Allen, Angelina Arts Alliance Executive Director

This is a very special pre-season performance where all single tickets will be on sale to the general public on Friday, March 18 at 10 am. Patrons are limited to purchase up to 8 seats and will be available online, in person and by phone at www.angelinaarts.org, 936-633-5454. The Angelina Arts Box Office is located at 108 South First Street, in downtown Lufkin. Tickets range from $70 to

$110 each.

The Angelina Arts Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich, entertain and educate by presenting and promoting the arts in East Texas.

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TCSO make arrests in alleged sex crimes

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By Chris Edwards
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sexcrimesarrestTYLER COUNTY – Law enforcement made arrests in two separate incidents last week in alleged underage sex crimes.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office began investigating a possible sexual assault crime in March and were able to gather several items of evidence.

Weatherford said that on May 2, deputies arrested a suspect, Kaden James Essary, an 18-year-old Spurger man, on the charge of sexual assault of a child.

Weatherford said that Essary admitted, in an interview with deputies and investigators prior to his arrest, that he had sexual intercourse with a minor. His victim had been interviewed by a team of professionals at the Garth House, a children’s advocacy center, Weatherford said, and also underwent a forensic examination.

Following the interview with law enforcement, Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Milton Powers issued an arrest warrant for Essary when the investigators presented him with a probable cause affidavit. Powers pre-set a bond of $100K on Essary.

Essary remains in custody at the Tyler County Justice Center.

In another incident, TCSO arrested a 38-year-old Chester woman, Jennifer Louise Acrey, on several charges relating to underage sex crimes.

According to Weatherford, TCSO began investigating a report of an adult female (Acrey) who was allegedly sending nude photographs, via phone, to a male minor.

Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe issued a warrant to search Acrey’s phone, as well as an arrest warrant, after probable cause affadavits were presented by investigators.

Acrey was arrested on Saturday, May 7 for the sale/distribution/display of material to a minor, which is a class A misdemeanor offense.

Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Jim Moore set Acrey’s bonds at $125,000, and Weatherford said she could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

She agreed to talk with investigators and deputies, and confessed to multiple sexual encounters with the juvenile victim, as well as communicating by electronic messaging in a sexually explicit manner.

 Acrey is charged with sale/distribution/display of material to a minor; felony online solicitation of a minor; felony sexual performance by a child and felony sexual assault of a child. 

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Regional manhunt continues for murderer

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By Chris Edwards
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Matthew EdgarMatthew EdgarSABINE COUNTY  – A manhunt continues for a Sabine County man who was sentenced three months ago to 99 years in prison for murder.

Matthew Hoy Edgar, a 25 -year-old Hemphill man, has been at large since he failed to show up for day four of his trial on Jan 27. On that day, he was found guilty, and subsequently sentenced. Despite his absence, the trial continued through his attorney. He was last seen on the previous day.

Edgar was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Livye Lewis on Oct. 31, 2020. According to Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox, the search continues and “has intensified and broadened” as of Sunday, he said in a news release. 

While Edgar has remained at large, Maddox has reported on social media as well to regional media outlets that there have been leads followed as to Edgar’s whereabouts, but all 10 leads were cleared and closed with no contact with the convicted killer.

“As these investigative leads come in, they are assigned to a deputy or completed by the lead investigator for the Sabine County Sheriff’s Office,” Maddox said. Several of the leads to date involve leads from East and Northeast Texas as well as Western Louisiana.”

Last week, Maddox said that the Sabine County Sheriff’s Office has checked out sightings of Edgar in Jasper and Orange counties.

Maddox said for any Sabine County residents, as well as anyone in the region who has seen Edgar, or has knowledge of his whereabouts, to contact either the Sabine County Sheriff’s Office at 409-787-2266 or to call 911. He said that anyone who sees him should not try to contact or try to stop him. He is considered armed and dangerous. He is described as having short brown hair, blue eyes and is approximately six feet tall. 

Maddox said anyone who sees Edgar can also contact the US Marshals’ Office through its website at https://www.usmarshals.gov/tips/index.html.

Maddox provided a recent photo of Edgar, which was taken during his trial, exiting the courthouse. Most photos of Edgar available on regional media are of his booking photo, which show him with shoulder-length hair.

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State Representative James White Offers Opportunity for Students to Apply for the Texas Armed Services Scholarship

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(Screen Shot 2022 05 09 at 3.27.52 PMAustin, TX) - State Representative James White is now taking applications from Southeast Texas students who want to be selected as recipients of the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program (TASSP). The purpose of the TASSP is to encourage students to become members of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, the Texas State Guard, the United States Coast Guard, or the United States Merchant Marine, or to become commissioned officers in any branch of the armed services.

Students who wish consideration must be enrolled in an institution of higher education directly from high school and meet two of the following four criteria at the time of application:

- Be on track to graduate (or have graduated high school) and complete the curriculum requirements of the Distinguished Level Achievement Plan or the International Baccalaureate Program (IB);

- Have a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher;

- Achieve a college readiness score on the SAT (1590) or ACT (23); and

- Be ranked in the top one-third of the prospective high school graduating class.

"It is an honor to be able to recommend outstanding Southeast Texas students who plan to be active in Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs for this scholarship opportunity," said Rep. White. “As a former officer in the army, I am glad to see these young men and women, who are interested in serving our country, seek out a quality college education.”

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will open legislative member nominations for the TASSP scholarship on April 19th, 2022. We ask that those interested apply as soon as possible.

Additional information and applications for the TASSP can be found at www.hhloans.com. Students may send their applications to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before July 31st, 2022. If you have any questions, please contact State Representative James White's office at (512) 463- 0490 or (409) 283-3700.

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