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Tyler County News - Breakout

New Chester councilmember sworn-in

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Chester Mayor Floyd Petri (R) swore in new councilman Wes Whitworth at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, Dec. 6. (PHOTO BY MICHAEL G. MANESS)Chester Mayor Floyd Petri (R) swore in new councilman Wes Whitworth at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, Dec. 6. (PHOTO BY MICHAEL G. MANESS)

By Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – Chester Mayor Floyd Petri swore in new councilman Wes Whitworth at their regularly scheduled meeting held on Monday evening, Dec. 6. 

Unusual circumstances and a bout with Covid kept Whitworth from being sworn in earlier after the election, and Petri then appointed to fill his own spot. 

Petri was thrilled to inform the council that as of 4 p.m. that very day, their specialists who had helped the city write the grant informed him that Chester had receive both the $350K general grant and the $70K infrastructure grant. That was such great news, and they will be working out soon what they will be able to do with those grants. 

Kim Glawson submitted a petition to the council to have Ashby to appear in Woodville

WOODVILLE – Rep Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) is inviting the public to come out and meet him next Monday, Dec. 13 at Magnolia Bar and Grill in Woodville.

At the meet and greet for Ashby, which is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., constituents have the opportunity to meet their new representative in the state House of Representatives. Ashby represents House District 9, which encompasses Tyler, Polk, Trinity, Houston, Angelina and San Augustine counties. 

Tyler County was formerly a part of HD-19, which was represented by James White (R-Hillister), who is running for state agriculture commissioner in 2022. 

The recently drawn House and Senate districts have been signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. The redistricting process happens every 10 years after new census data is released. The new districts will be used for the first time in next year’s primary and general elections, barring any court interventions.

A Lufkin area resident, Ashby has served in the lower chamber of the state legislature for five terms, which began in 2013. He currently serves as a member of the House Committees on Appropriations and Transportation. 

Ashby was recently named as one of the 10 best legislators in the state by Texas Monthly magazine, an honor which he shares with his predecessor, White, who was named to the list following the 86th legislature in 2019.

During the last legislative session, Ashby co-authored the broadband bill with Sen. Robert Nichols, which was prioritized as an emergency item and passed with near unanimous support in both the House and Senate.

Texas Monthly also noted Ashby’s priorities in the last session of creating new funding streams for drug courts and reducing regulations of water slides.

In the Texas Monthly profile of Ashby, it noted that his drive to work on issues such as rural broadband instead of “fighting about wedge issues such as transgender kids and abortion” set him apart from many GOP legislators.

The event at Magnolia is free to attend.

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Countywide Christmas celebrations begin

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Christmas Tree Stylilized 300By Chris Edwards
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TYLER COUNTY – Even though the forecast for the coming days doesn’t suggest anything close to a scene from an Irving Berlin song, it will, by Thursday, look a lot like Christmastime in Tyler County.

Several noteworthy Christmas celebrations take place this week, including the annual Twilight Tour at Heritage Village, the Woodville Rotary Club’s Breakfast with Santa and the Chamber of Commerce’s countywide celebration.

The Chamber’s theme for this year’s “Christmas in Tyler County” celebration is “Bring Back Traditions,” and that will begin on Thursday and continue through Friday. 

“Let’s all gather to show the true meaning of Christmas in Tyler County,” said Tyler County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Holly Wells.

The fun slated for Thursday includes the “Mistletoe Market,” which will take place inside the Emporium Stage in downtown Woodville, beginning at 6 p.m. There will also be a movie screened on the square, “Polar Express.”

Attendees to the film screening are invited to bring blankets and chairs, and children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. 

The Mistletoe Market will continue on Friday, with shopping available inside the Emporium from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. that day. At 6 p.m., Santa will appear on the courthouse square and at 6:30 p.m., the tradition of lighting up the square will commence.

Some of the other events being sponsored by the Chamber include a Christmas cookie contest, which will take place on Friday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse square.

Participants can enter online at the Chamber’s website, tylercountycoc.com.

On Saturday, Dec. 4, the Rotary Club of Woodville will host its popular annual pancake and sausage breakfast event, “Breakfast with Santa.”

This event begins at 7:30 a.m. and takes place inside the fellowship hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Tickets to that event are $6 for adults and $5 for children.

Also slated for Saturday is the annual “Twilight Tour” celebration at Heritage Village, which lasts from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. In addition to a decked-out Village, attendees to this event also have the opportunity to visit the Clyde Gray House Museum, which will be decorated for Christmas.

If all that was not enough, the Chamber is also hosting a Christmas decorating contest, which is open to all Tyler County residents and businesses. 

The theme of the contest is “Back to Traditions,” in keeping with the overall theme of the celebration this year. The registration period for entrants ends on Sunday, Dec. 5, and judging will take place from Dec. 8 – 12.

There will be winners in both categories, business and residential. For anyone interested in entering, check out www.tylercountycoc.com/christmasintylercounty.

Boat parade next weekend

The annual Christmas Boat Parade in Ivanhoe is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11. It will be the eighth year for the popular event.

The organizers said they are hoping to have a record number of participants this year, and are encouraging everyone who wishes to participate to get some lights for their boat and come and join in the fun.

The boats will gather in front of Tommy and Patsy Morris’s dock at Charmaine South at 5:30 p.m. and the parade will commence at 6 p.m.

After the parade, there will be festivities in the Community Center, which will include photos with Santa. 

Anyone wishing to participate in the boat parade can register by calling or emailing either Mayor Cathy Bennett: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 409-429-6752; or Suzy Fortenberry at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 409-504-4804.

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Chester ISD board reviews transportation needs; reports

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Chester ISD logo template 300By Chuck Davidson

CHESTER – All of members of the Chester ISD board of trustees attended the Monday, Nov. 29 regular board meeting held in the Chester library after having completed a busy month of special meetings in their search for a new superintendent. 

They had more than 20 applications and after narrowing their choices down to three on Nov. 8, selected Paul Drake on the 16th to be lone finalist. 

The consent agenda was approved without comments and as no members of the community spoke during the public forum portion, board president Ray McKnight got to the key items on the agenda, which after being presented by interim superintendent Katie Loughner, were all approved. 

The items included: District of Innovation Plan 2021-2026; TASB Update 118 and Safe and Supportive School Coordinator Stipend. Loughner also updated the board on HB 3 goals and the district’s memorandum of understanding with the county’s special education co-op. 

Marty Thompson gave the board a comprehensive review of the transportation needs (another bus and more drivers) plus a thank-you for the current order of a 14-passenger vehicle and purchase of a “new” used 44-passenger bus.

Under the principal’s report, Loughner reported that current enrollment is 216 and that they will have a Christmas program on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. It was also reported that new playground equipment is now projected to arrive in early spring of 2022. 

The board spent about 26 minutes in executive session and when back in open, set Monday, Dec. 13 as the next board meeting, then adjourned.

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Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette not seeking re-election

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Jacques BlanchetteJacques BlanchetteBy Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Long-serving Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette announced on Tuesday that he will not seek re-election for another term.

Blanchette said that initially he did plan to seek re-election, but “recent events” have caused him to “re-evaluate what family needs may be required of me,” he said, which has caused him to decide against seeking another term.

“I greatly appreciate the privilege you’ve entrusted to me in serving. I hold fond memories of your kindness toward my family and confidence in me to do what’s right,” he said.

Blanchette’s term ends next year. Last week, Melissa Riley made an announcement to run for the office as a Republican. 

The primaries for next year’s general election are on March 1 to decide candidates for parties. There are no other declared candidates at present for the county judge position.

Blanchette began his first four-year term as county judge in January 2007 and is currently in his fourth term. Prior to becoming elected to office, he was affiliated with Stringer & Griffin Funeral Home.

Throughout Blanchette’s tenure, he has led the county through natural disasters, such as hurricanes Ike and Harvey, and through the coronavirus pandemic.

Along with his position, Blanchette has also served in various regional and local leadership positions and in his church. 

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