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  • Judge Blanchette fights COVID

    Blanchette 2CALEB FORTENBERRY | TCB File photo - Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette swearing in Warren ISD board members in November, 2020.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette found himself among the 13 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus this year.

    Blanchette received a positive result from a COVID-19 test administered on Friday, Nov. 28. He said he had begun feeling ill the day before Thanksgiving, and by Friday was very sick. He is currently staying confined at home. His wife, Leeza, had also fallen ill with the virus and is recuperating.

    An update from the Tyler County Emergency Management Facebook page noted Blanchette’s announcement and that he appreciates the prayers and support from the public in his recovery.

    As the pandemic has experienced a nationwide surge in the past month, the likelihood of infection has increased, and anyone is fair game for the virus.

    Several other elected officials in the area have tested positive for the coronavirus. According to a recent story from KJAS out of Jasper, the Jasper ISD School Board President Mark Durand and the county’s Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Raymond Hopson were both diagnosed with the virus last week.

    Hopson was elected to fill the seat held by Judge Jimmy Miller who died from coronavirus complications during the summer.

    In Tyler County, the total number of confirmed cases has surpassed 300, and at press time is at 320. This number represents the total number of positive cases in the county since reporting began in late March with the first confirmed case.

    Two recent deaths were also reported as COVID-related. Last week, Ruby Moore, of Warren, died from complications, and the week prior, Ethel McGough’s passing was linked to the virus.

    Those two deaths brings the COVID death count to nine in the county.

    In other COVID news, the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe recently addressed the methodology for reporting the county’s number of cases and added reportage for the number of quick tests administered. Jobe said those cases are not listed by public health as active, but they are tracked, investigated and logged in the system as “probables.”

    In addressing questions about the seeming lapse in reporting cases, Jobe said “The public health numbers and my numbers don’t always match,” which he attributed to a timing issue.

    Additionally, the numbers from public health sources use the test date as the starting date for active cases, and then county 10 days and remove from active if they do not receive the result, Jobe said. Those cases are posted to the recovered category. “Several counties where we have residents go test are slow to get results to our public health group,” he said.

  • Tyler Countians encouraged to take broadband survey

    NEWS Broadband IllustrationIllustration by Mohamed Hassan | PIXABAY

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY –  A survey is available online to gauge the broadband internet needs of Tyler County residents. The survey, which launched in early February, is being put forth by the Connected Nation Texas, a localized division of a national non-profit organization dedicated to expanding access to broadband.

    The survey launched in early February, but the response has been hamstrung by the recent winter storm, and the loss of utilities for many.

    “We understand that everyone across Tyler County should have access to the resources they need and can find online for themselves, their families, their work and more,” said Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette.

    Pamela Waggoner, a community technology adviser with Connected Nation Texas, said that Blanchette, along with Woodville ISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg have been local champions in getting the word out about the survey. The survey is available online for residents to take at the URL Connectednation.org/Texas, and Waggoner said that Meysembourg has paper copies available, and copies of the survey in Spanish, as well, for anyone in need, by calling her office at 409-283-3752 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    “Basically, what we’re trying to do as Connected Nation Texas is to understand broadband availability needs in Tyler County,” Waggoner said. “The better info we have, the better the information we can provide to provide solutions for the county.”

    Blanchette said that local residents’ input, along with that of businesses, community organizations and other demographics within the county, will help to identify challenges and provide solutions to bringing broadband access to the county.

    “The better educated Tyler County officials are, the better the opportunities are for grants. The monies are only available for a certain amount of time, and if they know [the county] can use the resource efficiently, it has a better chance of being funded,” Waggoner said.

    Tyler County is one of 27 counties asked to participate in a statewide effort led by Connected Nation Texas and funded by the Texas Rural Funders at no cost to the county.

    “Having access to the internet means having access to doctors and specialists through telehealth, a global market for our small businesses, educational opportunities for our children and so much more,” Blanchette said.