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From its inception date of September 23, 2020, the Woodville chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace has delivered 297 beds to children in both Tyler and Jasper counties.
Those totals comprise 59 delivered from Sept. 23, 2020 through Dec. 26, 2020, and 238 in all of 2021.
SHP is looking forward to see what 2022 has in store, and wishes to thank everyone who have volunteered and/or donated to the cause. All that the organization does is from the generous donations and volunteer efforts.
Anyone can be a part of the work that SHP is doing.
SHP is inviting anyone interested in volunteering to come and join them this coming Saturday, Jan. 8 for the chapter’s next build from 7:45 a.m. to noon at the old McClures furniture building across from the Intermediate School on Hwy 69. 502 N. Magnolia, Woodville.
By Chris Edwards
TYLER COUNTY – The Tyler County Emergency Management office is once again reporting countywide COVID numbers.
Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe said that his office would begin updating the numbers again once they surpassed 20 cases and will continue until they decrease again. The last reportage was in mid-October. At present, Emergency Management is reporting 108 active cases in the county.
Jobe gave an update via social media on Friday, Dec. 30, which represents a sharp increase from the initial update provided two days’ prior, which showed 45 active cases in the county.
At present, Emergency Management is reporting 2,635 total cases since reporting began in March 2020 with the first confirmed case in Tyler County. There have been 2,454 recovered cases and 73 deaths from COVID complications.
“This is an attempt to keep citizens informed of the status of our county,” said Jobe. “I will post updated counts as I receive them from the health department,” he added.
According to the latest figures, there have been 18,004 doses of vaccines administered in the county, with 8,541 people having received at least one dose, or 39.73% of the population. There have been, according to Department of State Health Services, 35.41% of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated.
At the statewide level, hospitalizations are increasing. The numbers from the DSHS show that as of Dec. 29, hospitalizations for coronavirus patients is up by 2,147 from the previous week.
The number of average new cases has also increased across the state, with 5,412 cases up from the seven-day average reported a week prior to Dec. 29.
DSHS reports that 59.02% of Texans are fully vaccinated, and 69.31% of the population has received at least one dose.
The surge in positive cases, according to state health officials, is attributable to the omicron variant. Officials say the variant is more transmissible than the delta variant and the original viral strain.
The rise surpassed 10% by mid-December, and put Texas in a “red zone” rating. This rating for positive case numbers means that federal officials encourage more restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.
Last week Gov. Greg Abbott asked the federal government to open additional testing sites in some of Texas’s most populated counties and to send new shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments.
For updates, follow the Tyler County Emergency Management Facebook page.
By Merrick R.D. Moody
After 20 years of Distinguished Law Enforcement Service for Big Thicket and more than 30 years counting time as a State Peace Officer, with SWAT Certification, Ranger Mike Hughes has announced his retirement at as U.S. park ranger.
Hughes, a Tyler County resident, had numerous accomplishments throughout his career that are noteworthy. He captured a wanted suspect for kidnapping, meth and a stolen vehicle. He led numerous body recoveries and felony investigations. He taught hundreds of young hunters to respect wildlife conservation and natural resources, as a State Certified Hunting Educator. He was a lead U.S. Department of the Interior Small Craft Boat Instructor who taught many students, from numerous agencies, to Safely operate GOV vessels.
He detailed to the Mexican Border for Border Security and assisted other parks during special events, such as Jean Lafitte’s Battle of New Orleans Anniversary, as well as Post-9-11 Gateway Arch Security.
Along with a USFWS agent, at the Arch, Mike detained terror suspects who were transferred to the FBI. He was a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Distinguished Weapons Firearms Instructor, the highest award for firearms.
He led many Search and Rescue operations, helping numerous individuals in distress. He saved lives during record flooding events and received the U.S. Department of the Interior Valor Award for Heroism and Life Saving, Texas Parks and Wildlife Director’s Award for Life Saving, Tyler County Emergency Management Award for Public Safety and a US Congressional Award for Life Saving, presented by US Congressman Brian Babin at the park.
By Chris Edwards
DAM B – A facility in Dam B that is setting up as a halfway house for ex-offenders has caused many residents in the area to ask questions and pose concerns.
The facility, which bears the name “RJMFSC, No Lost Cause,” will, according to one of its spokespersons, provide a faith-based approach to helping parolees get back on their feet. The facility will be based out of a property that was once a motel and restaurant east of the four-way stop that marks the intersection of US 190 and FM 92.
The acronym stands for Restorative Justice Ministry Family Services Center and was established as a non-profit in 2003 by John Morrison. “No Lost Cause” is the name of the program which will be used to rehabilitate parolees in the program, according to a Facebook post from Doneal Nicholson, who will work as an on-site manager.
RJMFSC once operated a mediation center in Woodville when Morrison was chairman of the non-profit of the same name. According to Nicholson, the site in Dam B had not been used in 15 years, but a donation helped with much of the remodeling work that needed to be done to the property.
“We have tried to get them to talk to us…they won’t talk to us,” said Glen Kenney of the Dam B Community Watch Group (DBCW).
The DBCW invited representatives from the facility to its monthly meeting, which took place on Thursday, Dec. 16, but no one from RJMFSC appeared. Kenney said the group has a list of questions pertaining to the facility, which have yet to be addressed.
Ron Goodwin, who serves as executive director for the statewide Restorative Justice Ministries Network (RJMN) said that the statewide organization serves in an advisory capacity for localized organizations and facilities like the one opening in Dam B.
Goodwin said that he advised the facility’s principals to put together a town-hall type meeting as soon as all “the ducks are in a row” concerning the licensing and legalities of the facility’s operation.
“You want to make sure that the public’s safety is assured,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin also added that with the facility’s possible success, transparency with the community is key. “The success upon that project will depend upon how involved they are with community,” he said.
Goodwin said that with faith-based programs such as the residential model that the facility plans to utilize, recidivism rates have continued to drop. “It’s smart justice,” he said.
Rev. James Edwards, who is listed as chairman for the non-profit, stressed that the program is still in its infancy, and all of the work that has been done thus far was made possible entirely through donations.
“We want to make sure the requirements set forth by the state are in place,” Edwards said.
Edwards explained that he, and the other organizers of the RJMFSC want to involve the community, once it is all set up.
“When everything is lined up, I want to be able to come to the [DBCW] and show them what we want to do and to be able to answer any questions they might have,” he said.
Both Edwards and Goodwin said that some of the information put out on social media about the facility was done prematurely, and Edwards emphasized that all of the necessary paperwork is not in order to open its doors.
One question that DBCW posed about the halfway house pertains to the type of offenders who would be eligible for the program. Edwards said that all parolees who are interested in participating will have to meet some requirements and be a part of a faith-based organization.
Another factor that has been expressed publicly by DBCW is the fact that both Nicholson and Morrison are ex-offenders, both of whom were convicted of sex crimes. Morrison, who established the non-profit prior to his conviction, is listed on public records as a point of contact for the non-profit, but not on its most recent available 990 EZ form from the IRS (its 2019 filing).
Edwards said he understood the apprehension concerning the role of ex-offenders in the facility, among the other concerns, but said that in prisons, many offenders take part in faith-based programs and continue to volunteer in such programs following parole.
Edwards said he has been involved in prison volunteering and ministry since 2008 and sees the goals of the Dam B facility as serving a need in the area.
“I’m involved in this because this is what the Lord put in my spirit to do,” he said.
Edwards also addressed the perceived lack of transparency from the community. He said he was only now aware of some of the questions and concerns from the DBCW group.
“What we’re trying to do, I want it all to be clear as glass. Nothing will be swept under the rug,” he said.
Goodwin said that community involvement is paramount but will take time.
“Reassuring the community just takes time, but with the community efforts to support and help, it would open a lot more hearts,” he said.
DBCW has also posted, publicly, its concerns and questions concerning the facility on its Facebook page and has opened up the conversation to the community to gather its thoughts.