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Rare plant on verge of endangerment

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A bloom of a Navasota false foxglove. PHOTO BY SHEENA GIRNER | US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICEA bloom of a Navasota false foxglove. PHOTO BY SHEENA GIRNER | US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

By Chris Edwards
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TYLER COUNTY – Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a public comments period for a proposed rule to list the Navasota false foxglove as endangered. The plant, which stands up to three-feet-tall and blooms with purplish-pink blossoms, is known to exist in only three locations – one of which is in Tyler County, according to Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Wildflower lovers can rejoice that the Navasota false foxglove will get a recovery plan,” Robinson said in a news release. By protecting the plant as an endangered species, its habitat would be protected, and a recovery plan will be implemented.

Aside from one area of Tyler County, the plant (its scientific name Agalinis navasotensis) also grows in two spots in Grimes County, where its namesake city is located. A public notice filed last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that approximately 1.9 acres in both counties fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation.

“In addition, we announce the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed designation…[if finalized as proposed] it would add this species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants,” the notice read, citing the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, noted that the wildflower species is imperiled not only due to its limited distribution, but also from drought, as well as encroachment from trees that shade out the direct sunlight they require to thrive.

“Critical habitation designation identifies places important to the plant and prohibits use of federal funds for projects that would harm or destroy those habitats,” Robinson said.

In the news release, it was noted that road widening and development projects were also threats to the species, and that some of them are found on a road right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The plant was first identified in 1993, and it is similar to the Caddo false foxglove, but genetically different. The Caddo false foxglove, according to Robinson, is now presumed extinct. The Navasota false foxglove grows in shallow and sandy soils and requires annual rainfall and direct sunlight.

Comments from the public are open until August 14 and can be submitted electronically by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, which can be accessed at https://www.regulations.gov.

On the site, in the “search” box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2022-0156, which is the docket number for the rulemaking pertaining to the plant.

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Collins named new Warren HS principal

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Collins Warren ISDNew Warren High School Principal Keith Collins introduced himself to the WISD Board of Trustees at the board’s Monday evening meeting. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB

By Chris Edwards
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WARREN – In his first board meeting at the helm of Warren ISD, superintendent Rusty Minyard reported a slate of new hires across the district.

On Monday evening, at the regular meeting of the Warren ISD Board of Trustees, Minyard began by welcoming the new Warren High School principal Keith Collins. Collins, who last served Henderson ISD, will replace the long-serving Jimbo Swinney, who announced his retirement in May. Collins introduced himself to the school board, and said he grew up in Caneyhead, and said it was quite the easy decision to make; to come and serve Warren ISD. “I won’t let you down,” he told Minyard and the board members.

Minyard followed that announcement with several other new hires to key positions within the district. Troy Moore has been hired as Warren ISD’s new network administrator. Minyard called him “a very impressive young man.”

Natalee Foret is moving from her role as a third-grade teacher at Warren Elementary to the role of instructional coach for that campus, Minyard announced.

Other positions Minyard reported to the board include: Keppie Fortenberry – math coach and Lydia Thompson – instructional technology.

Another topic Minyard reported to the board on concerned a district-wide computer availability to faculty. “One of the biggest issues was teachers not having access to computers,” Minyard said.

He said a presentation is underway to present to the board in July at its next meeting, along with a budget of how to remedy the problem.

He noted that teachers did have the Chromebooks in their classrooms across the district, but they were not sufficient for long-term, high-power usage.

Proposed budget reviewed

In his report to the board, Warren ISD’s CFO Terry Ling presented the proposed budget for the 2023-24 school year.

The figures Ling drew from represented numbers gleaned from a 95% collection rate from taxpayers on a $15.1 million budget.

Ling explained that the district would receive in excess of $10 million in state aid, part of which would cover its I&S (debt service) tax levy. With tax collections in the district at the estimated percentage, that revenue was shown at $4.77 million.

The proposed M&O (Maintenance and Operations) levy is 0.9333, which Ling said is down a couple of pennies from what it was. The district’s I&S rate is proposed at 0.36 per $100 of valuation, for a combined tax rate of 1.2933 in the proposed budget.

Ling also presented the preliminary appraisals from the Tyler County Appraisal District, which allocates 12.98% of its funding for schools to Warren ISD, or $3.92 million. Warren ISD is also partially serviced by Hardin County taxpayers, with a number of students residing in Wildwood.


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Burnthorn named Spurger ISD lone finalist

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By Chris Edwards
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BurnthornBurnthornSPURGER – Spurger ISD recently announced Jeff Burnthorn as the district’s lone finalist to lead the district as superintendent.

Burnthorn will fill the position after the resignation of Morgan Wright. He will be welcomed aboard with a meet and greet on Thursday, June 29, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Spurger ISD cafeteria.

“Spurger is an amazing place with amazing people,” Burnthorn said, and added that he “can’t wait to get started” as the district’s lead administrator.

Most recently, Burnthorn served as Executive Director of Secondary and School Services with Silsbee ISD, a position he has held since 2020. In that time, he developed and administered a teacher incentive allotment, and among other achievements, supported the creation of the Silsbee Education Foundation.

Burnthorn holds a BA in history with a minor in economics from Lamar University, which he obtained in 2000. He also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and his superintendent certification in 2012 and 2022, respectively.

As an educator, he has served the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for 11 years and was named the district’s “Teacher of the Year” for 2012-13.

“I am excited about the opportunity to support our principals, teachers, and school personnel in our journey towards providing the best educational experience for every student in Spurger ISD,” Burnthorn said.

Burnthorn’s wife, Peggy Hatton Burnthorn, to whom he has been married for 28 years, is a Spurger native, and teaches algebra at Spurger ISD.

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Dog Days of Summer already here

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DogDaysOfSummer STOCK

By Mollie LaSalle
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Summer officially began June 21, per the handy old calendar on the wall. The sweltering heat and high humidity have succeeded in making many folks miserable. For many, June through September are not eagerly anticipated months. 

The forecast for the next foreseeable future is hot with a 100% chance of it being hot tomorrow. The temperatures for the rest of this week are predicted to be near 100 degrees. With that in mind, we need to do everything humanly possible to survive the next few months. 

Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe offered up a few words of advice: “Heat-related injuries can sneak up on you and you will never know. You won’t know you’re getting bad until you’re bad. If you must be outside, schedule breaks and drink plenty of water. Take a 10-minute break every hour to stay hydrated. These are the best ways to prevent injuries.” 

Jobe said “the next few days are going to be incredibly hot. Be cautious while outside, take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid strenuous activity and prolonged time outside. The combined heat and humidity make it almost unbearable to be outside. Just standing or walking can cause problems. If working outside, take frequent breaks, drink lots of water and get help if you start feeling light-headed or sick. Late afternoon is the worst part of the day.”

Jobe also stressed that you recognize the three levels of heat related illness. Heat cramps are the first stage, heat exhaustion is the second, and heat stroke is the final stage, and is a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment at a hospital emergency room.

Never leave kids, pets, or elderly people in cars. The inside temperature can accelerate to deadly highs in minutes. Seek out air-conditioned buildings if you are out and about. Schedule activities either early in the morning, or later in the day. 

Wear sunscreen and a hat. It is easy to become dehydrated or for your body to overheat. You can develop cramps and heat exhaustion in a matter of minutes if you are not equipped to deal with the excessive heat. Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and if you do go out, seek out shade and make sure you have plenty of water.

Babies and young children are much more susceptible to the hot weather, as are people with compromised immune systems, as their body temperature rises faster than healthy adults. Also, when walking your dogs, the hot pavement can burn their paws in minutes, just as a person walking barefoot on the sidewalk. 

You can help others by doing a few simple acts of kindness during the excessive heat of summer. You can offer to run errands or shopping for elderly neighbors. Call them at least once a day to check on them. If their homes do not have adequate working a/c or window units, invite them to stay with you during the night/and or day, or get them to a facility with a working a/c. 

When the weather app on your phone says it’s going to be 80 degrees at 3 a.m., that’s hot, but just like the weather, all things change, like the seasons. I am looking forward to the fall, and better weather, it’s my favorite time of the year. 

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Wigley presented with Rotary award

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Woodville ISD faculty member and Interact Club sponsor Janay Wigley (pictured left) was presented with a Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary Club of Woodville president John WIlson. MOLLIE LA SALLE | TCBWoodville ISD faculty member and Interact Club sponsor Janay Wigley (pictured left) was presented with a Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary Club of Woodville president John WIlson. MOLLIE LA SALLE | TCB

By Mollie LaSalle
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WOODVILLE – Woodville Rotary President John Wilson presented a Paul Harris Fellow award to Janay Wigley at last Wednesday’s meeting at the Pickett House.

A Paul Harris Fellow recognizes outstanding commitment to the club or the community. It is the highest form of recognition for Rotary clubs. It is both an award for exemplary work in community service or helping those in need.

Wigley was honored for her support of Woodville High School’s Interact Club, the Rotary club, and her community. She became Interact sponsor in 2020, with 30 students participating. 2021 saw an increase to 50 students, and as of 2023, there are 52 students in the club. Wigley is an example of Rotary’s Four Way Test and “Service Above Self” motto.

Club president Wilson, in his remarks stated, “Janay has been with Woodville High School for eight years, and teaches Financial Math, Principles of Business, and Money Matters. She has coached cross country and tennis this past year. In addition, she is working on getting her MBA. She spends hours with these students as a positive influence and role model. These students are our future leaders. Janay sets an example of honesty, respecting others, good work ethics, commitment, working together, and service”.

Wilson added, “with the help of Interact our club continued our annual fundraisers and service projects. Many times, we had more Interact than Rotarians working. These included the Gumbo, Breakfast with Santa, working the concession stands at football games, and the Memorial Day Weekend flag project at Magnolia Cemetery. Each time, Janay was there with the students. When it took all day to set up for Santa’s Breakfast, with Interacts help it came down in one hour. At the Gumbo, when we were working on a home football game evening and some students were committed to a school event, Janay came and brought her sister to help. They worked and were so appreciated. When we needed to take the flags down at the cemetery, Janay, Rusty (Minyard) and students showed up. The flags came down (over 400), rolled and placed on headstones for pickup, beating the rain by minutes. They were awesome! We also appreciate Janay’s help with RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) Conference and Scholarships. Thank you, Janay, we appreciate your service”.

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