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  • TxDOT hosting US 69 corridor hearing

    US 69 Corridor Overall Location MapUS 69 Corridor Overall Location Map

    By Caleb Fortenberry

    The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has issued a notice for the US 69 corridor project and study. The project, which is dubbed “Gateway to the Big Thicket,” is the subject of a virtual public hearing next week.

    The virtual hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19. A video with information about the project will be attached to the following website https://www.txdot.gov, by 4 p.m. next Thursday. The video will be posted near the bottom of the web page, according to a TxDOT news release.

    The corridor covers approximately 345 miles of highway from Port Aurthur to Denison. The part of the project projected to reach Tyler County would stretch to FM 1943 near Warren. Involvement with the public began in 2017 and is still an ongoing part of the process.

    The proposal for the project is to:

    • widen portions of the highway to four lanes,

    • add 12-foot travel lanes in both directions,

    • include 4-foot inside shoulders,

    • 10-foot outside shoulder on the southbound lane,

    • a 12-foot shoulder on the northbound lane that serves as hurricane lanes,

    • and extend 10-foottrails for biking and hiking.

    According to the notice of the hearing, the additional right-of-way width in the project proposal, which would increase the typical 100-120 feet width to 300 feet, would potentially displace five residences and two other non-residential structures.

    The in-person version of the hearing, available by appointment, will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at the TxDOT Beaumont District office, 8350 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77708. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Individuals must call to make an appointment at (512) 560-5108 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To leave a recorded voicemail of concerns, call (409) 402-0151 between Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. and Friday Dec. 18 at 11:59 p.m.

    Written comments can also be received at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., through the TxDOT website, or through mail addressed to TxDOT Project Manager, 8350 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77708 before 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 18.

  • 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.

  • Tyler County deputies make arrests in Spurger area

    Richard Lyles Scott Sanford 2MUGSHOT Richard Lyles and Scott Sanford

    By Chris Edwards

    SPURGER – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford reported that his office has been busy lately in the southeastern end of the county.

    Last week, TCSO made two arrests in two separate incidents, which resulted in multiple charges, including narcotics possession and stolen property.

    Last Monday, when deputies with TCSO were patrolling in the Spurger area in the late afternoon, they stopped a Ford Expedition on a traffic violation along County Road 4426. According to Weatherford, when deputies made contact with the driver, identified as Richard Lyles, a 40-year-old Kountze resident, they learned his driver’s license had been expired since 2012.

    When they searched his vehicle, they discovered a Remington 552 rifle and were notified that Lyles was a convicted felon, which, under statute, makes it illegal for him to possess a firearm. Also discovered in the search was a small, clear plastic baggie containing a crystalline substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamines.

    The deputies took Lyles into custody, and transported him to the Tyler County Justice Center, where he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm; possession of controlled substance and no driver’s license. He later bonded out with his bonds set at $10,000 by Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe. Before Lyles left the jail, a Woodville woman was arrested when she arrived to pick him up.

    According to Weatherford, deputies saw Keiosha Rowinsky, a 29-year-old Woodville woman, drive into the Justice Center parking lot. They knew from previous encounters that she did not have a valid driver’s license and made contact with her. She admitted to the deputies she did not have a valid license and was placed under arrest.

    Deputies located two loaded syringes in her jacket pocket and purse, both of which field-tested postiive for methamphetamines.

    Several other items of drug paraphernalia were found inside her vehicle, Weatherford said, and she was charged with possession of a controlled substance and driving while license invalid. She later bonded out of jail on $5,000 bonds set by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

    The second incident Weatherford reported about in Spurger happened the next day, when deputies were patrolling in the early morning hours along County Road 4420. When the deputies on patrol approached CR 4426, they discovered two sets of small lights shining throughout a clear-cut section of the woods, according to Weatherford.

    The deputies then made contact with two individuals, whom they identified as Scott Sanford, age 39, of Silsbee and Rusty Mathis, of Spurger.

    Sanford was holding a Remington pump-action 30-06 rifle, and both men had small spotlights. “While checking the information on the rife, deputies learned that the rifle had been reported stolen in a late 2020 burglary that occurred in Colmesneil,” Weatherford said in a press release.

    Sanford was taken into custody and charged with theft of a firearm. At press time, he remains in jail with a $5,000 bond set by Jobe. Weatherford said he could face additional charges.

  • Tyler County eligible for FEMA funding

    Donna 190 PhotoDONNA HAMMER | TCB Snow, ice and impassible roads were an unusual sight for Tyler County, as well as the rest of the state last week.

    Lawmakers set to hear ERCOT testimony

    By Chris Edwards

    In the aftermath of last week’s winter storms, although the ice and snow have melted and the temperatures have risen, most areas of Texas sustained damages as a result, and Tyler County is one of the counties eligible for federal disaster assistance.

    President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Texas on Saturday, Feb. 20, making most of the state eligible for federal relief funding. At press time, 108 of the state’s 254 counties were eligible. Initially, 77 were named as eligible for public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but on Monday, 31 further counties were added to the list.

    The assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and businesses recover from the disaster’s effects, according to a news release from the White House.

    The request made by Gov. Greg Abbott on Feb. 13 for the presidential disaster declaration included all of Texas’s counties.

    Abbott said on Monday that additional counties will continue to be re-requested and urged Texans who have suffered damage from the storm to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) Individual Assistance Reporting Tool, a form found on its website, located at tdem.texas.gov.

    Completing the form will help state officials to identify damages across the state and help emergency management officials gain an understanding for reportage to FEMA.

    All of the counties within the region were included on the list of FEMA-eligible counties, save for Newton, which Rep. James White said he had inquired to TDEM about, and added that Rep. Brian Babin is working with FEMA to get its status as FEMA-eligible.

    “Congressman Babin and I will stay on top of this until we get the answer Newton County deserves,” White said.

    Power outages were the primary utility concern for many Texans during the storm, but many also went without water. As of Friday, power had been restored to all Tyler County residents, but there were still around 1,200 residents without water, according to the county’s Emergency Management Office.

    For some of the millions of Texans who were left without electricity, it was reported that some electric consumers received extremely high bills, which is something Abbott said he and other state leaders are working to find solutions for.

    On Saturday, the Texas Tribune reported that Abbott held an emergency meeting with lawmakers to discuss the issue, and the Public Utility Commission met on Sunday to sign two orders: one for providers to put a temporary moratorium on disconnections for power or water customers for non-payment and another for companies to stop sending invoices or bill estimates to customers until, in the words of PUC chair DeAnn Walker “we work through issues of how we are going to financially manage the situation we are in.”

    Abbott also has given the directive to power companies and lawmakers to winterize the state’s power infrastructure, something that was lacking to keep the various power sources online during the record-low temperatures.

    White said he is committed to addressing the causes and implementing the solutions in order to prepare for such extreme weather events in the future, but not promoting agendas. During and after the storm, many public figures and lawmakers voiced opinions on the state’s infrastructure. Fox News’s commentator Tucker Carlson blamed the predicament on wind turbines, while former congressman Beto O’Rourke said that Abbott chose to ignore facts and science; that state Democrats in the House had been warning of a potential blackout for years.

    Part of Abbott’s directive was for the legislature to investigate the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texans, or about 90% of the state’s electric load.

    White said he reached out to ERCOT and spoke with their legal counsel, as well as Bill Magness, the president and CEO of ERCOT. White said that although ERCOT requested two orders to provide a variance to generating entities to provide power generation above licensed levels (one to TCEQ and another to the federal Department of Energy) and neither order restricted, prohibited or eliminated electricity generation during the storm.

    White said that ERCOT stated it was up to the owner of the power generation unit to take advantage of the increase variance, and that ERCOT should have a list of the generating units that utilized the TCEQ variance, the DoE variance or those that chose to do nothing.

    “I look forward to listening to the committee testimony by ERCOT for consistency,” White said.

    White and the rest of the state legislature are expected to hear testimony from ERCOT officials on Thursday in hearings in Austin.

  • Tyler County’s Dogwood Festival planned

    Allie JarrottPHOTO COURTESY OF THE TYLER COUNTY DOGWOOD FESTIVAL DIRECTORS The current, reigning Dogwood Queen, Allie Jarrott.

    BY CHRIS EDWARDS

    WOODVILLE – The directors for the annual Tyler County Dogwood Festival have met and set in motion preliminary measures to produce the annual festival.

    Last year’s festival was postponed and re-tooled due to concerns with the pandemic, and instead of taking place over the course of three weekends in March and April, was limited to one date on the second weekend in June, still, the 77th annual Dogwood Festival was celebrated in Woodville. It was only the second time in the festival’s history that a drastic change had to be made. Throughout America’s involvement in World War II, the festival was cancelled.

    The festival’s executive director Buck Hudson, now in his 30th year of being associated with the festival, said that last year’s festival was the most challenging of any to produce, but that it was important to have the event for the youth of the county, and to uphold the tradition.

    According to a news release from the festival directors, the event has, for more than 80 years, allowed Tyler Countians the opportunity to “[pay] tribute to the glories of spring and the lovely dogwood trees.”

    Hudson and the directors announced that they are planning the full and traditional range of Dogwood activities, which will begin with Festival of the Arts weekend, on March 20-21, followed by Western Weekend on March 26-27 and concluding with Queen’s Weekend on Saturday, April 3.

    Along with all of the fun events that comprise those three weekends, the directors also announced the traditional historical play will commence. “This year’s historical play will go back to the very beginnings, as this is the 175th anniversary of Tyler County,” according to the news release.

    The theme for the festival, overall is “We are Tyler County: A Celebration of the Beginning.”

    At present, the selection process is underway to choose the new Dogwood Queen for 2021, with the first round of selection planned for Thursday, and subsequent rounds scheduled for Feb. 11 and 25.

    According to the directors, the contestants will be evaluated on the basis of beauty, poise and personality through individual interviews conducted by the Kingsmen Committee.

    The current, reigning Dogwood Queen is Allie Jarrott, who is the daughter of Cody and Joanna Jarrott of Woodville.

    She was a senior at Woodville High School when she was crowned and is now attending Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree.

  • Vaccine Saturday

    021121 covidTONY FARKAS | TCNS Health professionals from HealthPoint provide COVID-19 immunizations at a clinic held at Trinity High School on Saturday. More than 700 vaccinations were provided through a combined effort of the Trinity Memorial Hospital Board, HealthPoint, the city, the county and the school district, as well as numerous volunteers.

    HealthPoint, hospital board hold COVID vaccine clinic

    TCNS staff

    TRINITY — Seven hundred residents received the first round of COVID vaccines at an immunization event at Trinity High School on Saturday.

    The event was a joint effort between the Trinity Memorial Hospital Board and HealthPoint.

    Marjory Pulvino, vice president of the TMHB, said HealthPoint received 925 vaccinations from the state very recently, and when the event was announced online, 600 people had registered for the vaccinations within hours.

    On Feb. 1 and 2, 120 people who did not have online access were registered through the Trinity Community Health Resource Center.

    On Saturday, 45 health professionals from HealthPoint, along with help from TMHB, Trinity schools, Trinity Police Department, and County Judge Doug Page and the county’s Emergency Management Operations Center, as well as volunteers, held the drive-through clinic at Trinity High School.

    Pulvino said there were no problems with people receiving shots because of the work of everyone involved.

    TMHB President Randy Karnes called the event incredibly successful.

    “We would like to express our deep gratitude to HealthPoint for their generous support,” he said. “We are fortunate to have HealthPoint in the community. I also would like to recognize the community for supporting this event.”

  • Vehicle fire holds highway traffic 

    20210222 135229COURTESY PHOTO Vehicle fire holds highway traffic 

    By Brian Besch

    A large vehicle fire held traffic on the county's main thoroughfare for nearly an hour Monday.

    After rear-trailer tandem brakes overheated and ignited, the tires of a tractor-trailer caught fire around 1:45 p.m. The vehicle's driver was able to unhook the trailer, as it burned on a Highway 59 overpass across from Livingston Junior High.

    "All eight tires were involved and with all the heat, it caused the trailer to buckle," Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said. "With all the tires on fire and some of the materials inside, it took a little time to get it all knocked out."

    An engine and two tankers responded from the Livingston Fire Department. Also on the scene were Livingston Police, Department of Public Safety, the Polk County Sheriff's Department, Texas Department of Transportation and City of Livingston Public Utilities.

    The trailer was hauling polyethylene plastic polymer resin, a non-hazardous material.

    "The packaging burned and also some of the product as the heat intensified," Cochran said. "We were delayed just a couple of minutes researching what was in the truck before we made any fire control attempt. We needed to make sure it wasn't something that was water reactive. When we got those doors open, you could immediately see about a third of the way into the trailer."

    Traffic was blocked for around 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze and a small grass fire that began nearby. Officers diverted traffic into downtown and the highway's feeder road.

    Livingston also assisted the Corrigan Fire Department with nine firefighters and two trucks around 9:45 a.m. Saturday at a residence just off Highway 59.

    On Collins Street, 11 Corrigan firefighters and three engines responded to the nearby house.

    "It was pretty significant," Corrigan Fire Chief Jimmy McDonald said of the damage. "It's a total loss. It had a good jump on us before we ever got there. We were all in the truck headed to hand out some water that day to the area. The call dropped when we were all in the truck. We didn't even need an address because you could see the smoke when we pulled out of the station. It had been burning for a little bit before someone called."

    No one was at the residence at the time of the fire and no injury was reported.

    McDonald took over the Corrigan Fire Department about a year ago and has several new members. The chief said they are looking for others to join.

    "We're always looking for people," he said. "Anybody interested in joining up can come by the fire station on Monday night at 6 p.m. and pick up an application."

  • VFD trading up on vehicles

    042921 new trucks 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Firefighter Clint Jones puts a shine on the new First Responder vehicle for the Coldspring Volunteer Fire Department.

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Volunteer Fire Department is getting new vehicles to help its mission

    Emmitt Eldridge, CVFD fire chief, said the City of Coldspring saw a need with a growing population to have more vehicles to respond to medical calls.

    Currently, the FD has three ambulances, one being repaired after an accident.

    “This county is growing,” Eldridge said. “We do have a First Responder program in the county, but the city started one, and we told them we need some vehicles. It’s a wonderful thing, seeing all the entities in the county getting together to provide the residents with what they need.”

    The first vehicle the department received is a first responder/transport vehicle, meaning it can both arrive at a destination ready to aid, or transport firefighters to where they are needed.

    The department also received a small brush truck from the county Emergency Services District Board.

    Eldridge said the department will receive a similar vehicle, an F-150, from San Jacinto County, which will arrive in July; also, the county and the Texas Forestry Service, through a grant, will provide the department with a large brush truck in the near future.

    “Before getting this vehicle, we had a ‘03 F-450 that had a lot of issues,” he said. “Every year, it seems we get more grass fires, and with the truck we had, we couldn’t get anywhere.

    “Last year, before receiving the vehicles, the company had to walk three miles to fight a brush fire in the woods, with only the hand tools they could carry, because the vehicle could not make it,” Eldridge said.

    In order to show the new direction of the Fire Department, the logo has been changed slightly to reflect the Coldspring mascot, the Trojan.

    “We are big on community, going to schools and doing education, and implementing an explorer program,” Eldridge said.

    He said the department is very appreciative of the city and county.

    “Everything the county and city has done for us has been tremendous,” he said.

  • Virus concerns lead to declining attendance for Rotary Club

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Rotary Club of Livingston president Matt Anderson conducts business at last week’s Rotary Club meeting at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Matt Anderson remembers when Rotary Club of Livingston met on a weekly basis.

    He also remembers when there were 30-40 club members meeting on a weekly basis. But things have changed since Covid-19.

    The local Rotary Club has met every other Thursday since the pandemic and attendance at the meetings has declined. Many of the club members are in the 50-over age group, which is more susceptible to adverse effects from Covid.

    “The main reason for declining attendance is the health concerns related to Covid,” Anderson said. “People are a little leery to meet in large groups and to expose themselves is what the majority of our members have expressed. The majority of our members are mature and they’re the ones that are more susceptible to Covid.”

    Anderson is the president of Rotary Club of Livingston. He would like to see attendance return to the way it was prior to Covid, and an increase in membership.

    “In the past we’ve had committees and chairs that have taken care of and brainstormed different ideas for recruiting new members,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, the last 6-8 months have been kind of stopped and had a pause button placed on it. We’re more in maintaining mode right now than we are growth mode or anything else. It’s just really hard right now to get new members and do events. We want new members and welcome new members. Unfortunately, this past year we have not been able to do the events we normally do or help out with them.”

    While things are not as active as they were prior to Covid, Rotary Club is still going to perform two of its biggest service projects, albeit on a smaller scale. Anderson said manpower, not finances, are more of a reason behind this.

    “We’re still doing the Empty Stocking program to help our community, but we’re doing it on a smaller scale just for the sheer number of volunteers and community help that we have,” he said. “We need people to help us shop and to deliver. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have as many as we normally do. We have our Pancake Supper toward the end of February. We’re still planning on having that, but with a revised schedule of having a drive-thru meal option. We hope the community is still looking forward to having some Rotary Pancakes.”

    For the moment, Rotary Club meets every other Thursday at noon at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. Anderson said things could change once the new year starts.

    “We’re doing every-other-week meetings to help people social distance,” he said. “We can go back to meeting once a week if that helps our members if that’s what our membership wants. We’re trying to do what’s best for our membership, listen to what their needs are and what they want. With the holidays approaching, lots of our members travel and visit families so it’s a little harder right now. If we decide to resume weekly meetings, it would be in January before we did that.”

  • Waitlist for Phase 1B of Covid vaccine

    Polk County OEM PSA COVID 19 Vaccine Temporary WaitlistFILE PHOTO Polk County OEM

    From the Polk County Office of Emergency Management

    On Tuesday, Polk County launched a temporary waitlist for the COVID-19 vaccine for Phase 1B.

    Phase 1B includes persons who are 65 and older, or persons 16 years and older with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk for severe illness from the virus. See the Texas Department of State Health Service’s definition of Phase 1B for more details.

    Persons who wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccination may sign up on Polk County’s temporary waitlist by clicking the following link: https://arcg.is/11ePGb. Persons without internet access who do not have someone able to help them sign-up online may contact Emergency Management at (936) 327-6826.

    This temporary waitlist will be used by county staff and our partner vaccine providers to distribute the vaccine to the public for a limited time. Please note, this is a waitlist only and not a registration list.

    The Angelina County & Cities Health District (ACCHD) is preparing a more sophisticated self-registration and appointment program that we hope will be launched soon. When ACCHD launches their new program, it will be linked to our Facebook page and website so you can sign up.

    The temporary waitlist will then be discontinued.

    Please stay tuned to the Emergency Management Facebook page and website for the announcement of the ACCHD COVID-19 vaccine registration and appointment program. The OEM will also share this information with other local media outlets such as the Polk County Enterprise, PolkCountyToday.com, Piney Woods Express online newspaper, and local radio stations.

    Vaccine supplies are limited and wait times will be dependent upon vaccine availability and distribution phase. As the vaccine becomes more available, eligibility will expand.

    Again, for further updates from Emergency Management, visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PolkCountyEmergencyManagement) or our website at www.PolkCountyOEM.com.

  • Weatherford named to Burke board

    Bryan Weatherford 020421 copyMUGSHOT Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford was named to the Burke Board of Trustees as an ex-officio, or non-voting, member.

    The Burke network services the 12-county deep East Texas region, serviced by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and provides mental health services. Weatherford, along with another law enforcement leader, Sheriff Jason Bridges of Nacogdoches County, were named to the board, with appointments resulting from Senate Bill 632 of the 86th Texas Legislature.

    The bill promotes cooperation between local mental health authorities and law enforcement by appointing sheriffs or sheriffs’ representatives, to their local governing boards as non-voting members.

    “I am honored to have been elected to serve as a Burke Center Trustee,” said Weatherford. “This position will allow me the opportunity to represent not only Tyler County, but all 12 counties in the DETCOG region.”

    According to a news release from the Burke organization, Weatherford was appointed to represent the smaller counties of the region and Bridges will represent the larger ones.

    “I want to make sure the citizens of Tyler County and East Texas continue to receive the necessary mental health care treatment,” said Weatherford.

    The Burke network was established in 1974 as the Deep East Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, which is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees.

    The network has grown from a small organization, which offered limited services, into a major behavioral health provider, which serves more than 5,000 people annually, through a variety of services, according to its website.

  • Weatherford named to state jail standards commission

    Weatherford 01 14 21FILE PHOTO Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

    By Chris Edwards

    AUSTIN – Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, who just recently began serving another term has another reason to celebrate: an appointment from the governor.

    Last week, Weatherford was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as one of the nine-member Commission on Jail Standards. He will fill an unexpired/vacated position that was occupied by Dennis Wilson, the Sheriff of Groesbeck County. Wilson’s term ends on Jan. 31.

    Weatherford will begin serving his six-year term on the commission, once he is confirmed by the state senate.

    He is looking forward to serving in that capacity, in addition to his duties as Tyler County Sheriff.
    He said it is exciting to him, personally, that East Texas voices are able to be heard in Austin, but above all, he wants to make sure that he does the job.

    “I want to make sure that I do a good job on representing our county in the aspect that the jails are running up to the standards set forth by the Commission,” Weatherford said. “I’m really excited about this appointment,” he added.

    The Texas Commission on State Jail Standards serves as the regulatory body for all of the county jails in the state, as well as privately operated municipal jails. It was created by the state legislature in 1975 to implement a statewide policy for all jails under its jurisdiction to conform to a minimum standard for the care and treatment of inmates, as well as the construction, maintenance and operation of jails.

    Weatherford has served and protected Tyler County citizens for 30 years in various capacities. He worked first as a police officer for the City of Woodville, then as a Justice of the Peace and most recently as Sheriff, after he was elected to his first term in 2013. Weatherford and his wife Ashley, who serves as the Director of Curriculum/Federal Programs for the Woodville Independent School District, are both Tyler County natives.

    Public service runs in Weatherford’s family, as his brother Brad is a Texas Ranger with the Texas Department of Public Safety and one of his sons, Tyler Bryan, is employed as a DPS State Trooper.

    Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Milton Powers will administer the Oath of Office to Weatherford at a later date.

  • Western Weekend continues Dogwood Festival season

    FestivalOfTheArts 2021 002JIM POWERS | PCPC The Festival of the Arts was held at Heritage Village in Woodville last Saturday and kicked off the Dogwood Festival in traditional fashion. Festival goers enjoyed a variety of demonstrations, a quilt show and live music.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – With the Festival of the Arts in the books to kick off the Dogwood Festival’s three weekends of celebrations, Western Weekend is now upon Tyler Countians.

    The return of the Dogwood Festival to its traditional schedule, following a retooled 2020 festival due to the pandemic, will find Tyler County residents enjoying two evenings of rodeo, sponsored by the Woodville Lions Club, and plenty of other events.

    The rodeo will take place at the county fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively. This year’s rodeo will be a Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) sanctioned event, produced by Branded for Christ Rodeo Productions.

    A big part of the Western Weekend activities are trailrides, according to the festival’s directors, which are kept up in an effort to preserve the heritage of the East Texas cowboy and to enjoy the natural beauty afforded by the region. More than 2,000 trailriders, on average, travel by horseback and wagon to Woodville during the final weekend in March. One locally organized trailride is looking to pay tribute to the past, while embracing the present.

    Kendall Coleman has organized a trailride called “Cowboys United: Calling all Trailriders,” which is calling for all trailriders from around the region and begins with the gates opening at 3 p.m. on Friday, at the location of Highway 190 and county road 3510 in Woodville. The warm-up ride will depart on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m., with the lineup for the parade at 1 p.m.

    Another tradition for Western Weekend is the Western Weekend Sweetheart and Junior Sweetheart contests, in which girls aged 10-13 years are eligible for Junior Sweetheart and those who are 14-23 years of age are eligible for the Senior Sweetheart. The contestants are all judged on their horsemanship, appearance and interviews. The sweetheart horsemanship competition takes place on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

    In other Dogwood Festival news, the Queen’s Weekend parade entries have been extended to this Friday. The entry form can be found at https://www.tylercountydogwoodfestival.org.

  • Western Weekend: A hoot and a half (GALLERY)

    2021 Western Weekend 12JIM POWERS | TCB Rider falling off a horse at the Tyler County Rodeo

    Last weekend saw the traditional Western Weekend portion of the annual Dogwood Festival in Woodville. From the two-day Lions Club Rodeo to the parade on Saturday, the weekend was full of activities, sights and sounds for folks of all ages to enjoy.

    Here is a selection of some of the fun, from both the rodeo and the parade.

    Photos by Jim Powers

     

  • White bills address firearms, ballots, and cannabis

    Jas WhiteFILE PHOTO State Representative James White (R-Hillister)

    By Chris Edwards

    AUSTIN – It has been a week of legislative triumphs for State Rep. James White (R-Hillister.) A bill that White had a hand in writing pertaining to Constitutional Carry of firearms passed out of the House of Representatives. Another White bill, which would require electronic voting machines to produce a traceable paper ballot also passed to go to the Committee on Calendars.

    White’s House Bill 1927, if passed into law, will allow Texans to carry handguns without requiring a license to carry. That bill gained initial approval from the House on Thursday with a vote of 84-56, with most of the House GOP voting in favor and seven Democrats voting for it.

    White issued a joint statement with the bill’s co-author Rep. Matt Schaefer on HB 1927, which featured comments from several LTC instructors in support of the bill. According to White’s statement, opponents of the bill “are pushing a false narrative that these bills would ‘dismantle’ Texas’ License to Carry law,” which White says is untrue.

    “Experience shows that residents will continue to voluntarily seek out training and licenses in permitless carry states, recognizing the benefits of instruction as well as acquiring and maintaining a license,” White said.

    The bill will allow Texas residents, aged 21 and up, to carry without a permit as long as they are not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm.

    HB 1708, which is the bill White penned pertaining to electronic voting machines, passed out of a House Committee on Elections with a vote of 8-1 on Wednesday. If the bill is passed into law, starting on Sept. 1 of this year, electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper ballot record cannot be purchased in Texas.

    Another bill that White had a hand in writing would reduce the penalties for the possession of cannabis. HB 3772 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, April 19 before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

    The bill would reduce criminal penalties for low-level possession of cannabis flower and THC concentrates. It would classify the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana as a Class C misdemeanor and allow for the expunction of a paraphernalia charge if it is dismissed.

  • WHS speech and debate competitors excel

    Izzy NarvaezPHOTO COURTESY OF CATHY D’ENTREMONT Izzy Narvaez prepares to compete at Congress State Debate.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Students in Woodville High School have excelled in a great number of extracurricular pursuits throughout the years, with each endeavor preparing them for some sort of skill in life beyond graduating. A group of WHS students recently took home top-notch honors in a field of competition that is relatively new to the school.

    The sport of speech and debate is, in the words of WHS’s speech and debate coach Cathy D’Entremont, “the consummate academic activity”; one that uses research, analysis, critical thinking skills and a variety of other skills, for competitors to succeed. WHS’s speech and debate team recently took home the first-place honors in District-level UIL competition.

    D’Entremont, a seasoned speech and debate coach, has been involved in the world of forensics, for more than 50 years. From the time she started competing as a seventh grader in Beaumont, she was active throughout the rest of her student career as a speaker and debater.

    After graduating from the University of Texas, she began coaching in public schools, and coached a national champion in 1983 in Houston.

    When she began working at WISD, she said she began looking for students to debate, and a recommendation from a colleague bore her witness to a transformation. “A teacher suggested I recruit a student who was acting out,” she said. That student, whom she said was a “bright, articulate smart aleck,” was Drake Broom a 2020 WHS graduate, who became a standout success and went to state in Student Congress and Cross-Examination Debate.

    “He developed great leadership skills, stayed out of trouble and is now in the Marines planning to become a JAG (Judicial Advocate) and follow a career in law,” D’Entremont said.

    “I have seen the transformative power of speech and debate many times in my years as a coach,” D’Entremont said. “I remain lifelong friends with numerous former students who are professors, attorneys, entrepreneurs, physicians and CEOs.”

    The current crop of award-winning speakers and debaters at WHS includes Izzy Narvaez; Jaydee Borel; Zander Duckworth; Kyler Coleman; Riley Vaughan; Kirby Wright; Mollie Jarrott; Kesean Paire; Kevon Paire; Rachel Risinger; Conner Risinger; Adriana Stark; Savanah Ludwig; Tanyia Mitchell; Chase Gray and Cailee Stephenson. All of the students took home awards from the recent UIL District competition in their respective events. Team captain Narvaez won first place in Congressional Debate and has been to state two years in the event.

    As the speech and debate program at Woodville High School flourishes, D’Entremont said it is a great benefit, both to her and the student body. “Anything that helps make better thinkers, writers and communicators is a huge educational success,” she said.

    She added that the support of WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg, along with WHS Principal Rusty Minyard and special programs director Terry Young, along with the WISD Board of Trustees, has been encouraging and supportive.

    “I feel blessed to have opened the door to this activity I love to the kids here,” D’Entremont said.

  • Winter Storm Warning in Polk County

    Polk County OEM PSA COVID 19 Vaccine Temporary WaitlistPolk County OEM

    From the Polk County Office of Emergency Management

    The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston (NWS) issued a Winter Storm Warning, which is in effect from 9 p.m. Saturday through 6 p.m. Monday for Polk County.

    Periods of freezing rain or drizzle are expected, especially tonight and Sunday, creating icy conditions. A period of moderate snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected Sunday night and Monday followed by bitterly cold conditions Monday night and Tuesday.

    Snow, ice and cold will likely pose a threat to life and property with hazardous road conditions, burst pipes and water mains, damage to infrastructure, and power outages. Temperatures are expected to drop to 26 degrees Sunday morning, 19 degrees Monday morning, and 8 degrees Tuesday morning.

    NWS is forecasting 1-2 inches of snowfall for most of Polk County, with .10 to .25 inches of ice accumulation through Tuesday morning. A decision on closing County offices will be made late Monday afternoon.

    Check your school district's websites and social media pages for school closure and virtual learning updates. Now is the time to insulate pipes, and make plans to shelter in place Sunday night through Tuesday if possible.

    Remember to protect, pets, plants, and pipes. There is a risk of hypothermia for anyone outside who is not dressed properly.

    Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Insulate pipes to keep them from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.

    Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.

    Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights and keep electronic devices charged.

    Create an emergency supply kit that includes a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable food and snacks. Avoid travel if you can. To check highway conditions, log onto www.DriveTexas.org.

    TXDOT began pre-treating highways yesterday and will continue to monitor and treat TXDOT roads as needed throughout the winter weather event.

    Another winter storm is possible on Wednesday although it could bring more rain for southern areas, and an ice threat, especially in northern areas of Southeast Texas. There is uncertainty still with that storm.

  • Winter weather slams through Polk County

                                   PHOTOS BY JASON CHLAPEK AND PAM NOBLES I PCE Winter weather made driving conditions treacherous for a Toyota pickup truck and an 18-wheeler earlier this week.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Like the majority of the state of Texas, Polk County was not spared by Mother Nature this week.

    A winter storm came through most of the state Sunday night and Polk County was one of the storm’s destinations. The storm left snow on the ground, which prompted schools and some businesses to close its doors because of adverse travel conditions.

    Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy called a declaration of disaster from Sunday to Wednesday. The northern portion of the county received 4-6 inches of snow, while Livingston received 3-4 and the southern portion received 1-2.

    Temperatures did not go above freezing (37 degrees) and are not projected to until Friday when the high is supposed to be 43. Temperatures dropped to as low as 4 Tuesday morning.

    Truck 1

    As of press time, the Polk County Office of Emergency Management reported that approximately 2,600 homes were without water and 292 were without electricity. A second cold front was projected to sweep through the county Wednesday afternoon, which would make driving conditions treacherous again.

    All six county school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska – either closed or performed virtual learning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. C-CISD is closed for the remainder of the week, Goodrich is closed today and the other districts didn’t make a decision about today or Friday as of press time.

    The Polk County Office of Emergency Management can be reached at 936-327-6826, or visit the website at http://www.PolkCountyOEM.com/ . Other agencies that can be reached during winter storm emergencies are the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (936-327-6810), Department of Public Safety (936-327-6806), Livingston Police Department (936-327-3117), Onalaska Police Department (936-646-5676), Corrigan Police Department (936-398-2551) and the Alabama-Coushatta Police Department (936-563-1200).

  • WISD coach Mixon dies

    2 Jennifer Mixon 031821FILE PHOTO Jennifer Mixon

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE –  Longtime Woodville ISD educator and coach Jennifer Mixon died last week at the age of 50.

    Mixon died on Friday at Lakeside Lodge in Brookeland. She had been fighting breast cancer for several years and undergoing treatments. WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said Mixon had, in more than 20 years with the district, impacted the lives of many and left behind “a legacy of strength, courage, caring and commitment.”

    A public funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday at Eagle Stadium, with a graveside service to follow at 1 p.m. in Little Hope Cemetery in the Beech Grove community. WISD is cancelling classes on Thursday so that all students, staff and families who wish to do so will have the opportunity to pay their respects.

    “Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as we all mourn her loss together,” Meysembourg said.

    The athletic director of the WISD girls’ program, Troy Carrell, called Mixon “the backbone of our girls’ athletic program,” and said she will be greatly missed.

    “She has had the opportunity to touch countless numbers of students as well as teachers and coaches alike,” Carrell said.

    “Coach Mixon was a perfect example of what it meant to be a Lady Eagle. She always held everyone to high standards and expected only the best of what you had to offer both on and off the court,” he added.

    Education and athletic leadership ran deep in Mixon’s blood, as her late father, Jerry Ives, was a longtime respected and beloved coach at Elkhart High School. After his death, the school’s stadium was named in his honor. Her brother, Jason, has also served as a coach and administrator. Her husband Shawn has also served as a football and softball coach for WISD.

    In addition to her husband and brother, Mixon is survived by two daughters, Shelby and Emily and her mother Darlene, as well as numerous other family members.

  • WISD discusses first step in long-range planning

    SHP Donation 042221CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Wheat Elementary students present a check to Brian and Deborah Smith of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. The students raised the money through a coin drive fundraiser.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees discussed taking the first steps toward long-range planning involving its facilities.

    The district recently went out for request for proposals from architects and construction managers and received eight submitted proposals. Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said that in reviewing the materials and conducting interviews, it will be a matter of finding out who will be able to suit the district best. “This is the initial part of seeing what firm best fits the district’s needs,” Meysembourg said.

    The board discussed the best method for reviewing the proposals and agreed to use a 10-day period for review, ranking and to schedule interviews on May 10.

    Meysembourg emphasized that in gathering the proposals and reviewing them that was the first step toward whatever the district might need in the future; that there’s been no discussion of any expenditures concerning the facilities or other infrastructure concerns, and that needs might change years down the road.

    Wheat Elementary students make presentations

    At Monday night’s meeting, the WISD board convened with a full boardroom full of Wheat Elementary students, faculty and parents. Several Wheat second graders and gifted and talented students made presentations. Wheat Vice Principal Allison Mosley and second-grade teacher Bridgette Stott introduced the students.

    The presentations by the second graders ranged from facts about flying squirrels to a discussion about what tigers eat. Stott said the students began their projects in March, with researching.

    The GT students presented a check to the Woodville chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who do not have beds to sleep in.

    The GT students, through a coin drive fundraiser, raised more than $1,200 to give to the charitable organization. SHP’s Brian and Deborah Smith were on hand to accept the donation. Stott said the fundraiser was helpful in teaching financial literacy to the students.

    On behalf of the WISD board, Vice President John Wilson said the students’ efforts made the board, faculty and parents of the district proud.

    Other Business

    At its meeting, the WISD board also approved the following items:

    • The board approved a resolution regarding affordable broadband access. The resolution is one going through school boards across the state, Meysembourg said. She said broadband access has “a critical impact upon the education of our students.” The resolution will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott and the state legislature.
    • The Texas Education Agency’s annual verification for TEKS certification was approved.
    • A two-year extension for WISD’s depository contract with Citizens State Bank was approved.
    • The next regular meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 17.