Alabama Coushatta Tribe signs foster care/adoption agreement with state of Texas

(Sharon Miller Photo)by Kelli Barnes

"This is an historical event for us," said Clint Poncho, vice chairman of Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The agreement, concerning Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, was signed Thursday, April 12. According to Poncho, it allows the Alabama Coushatta Tribe to ensure the Alabama Coushatta foster care and adopted children do not lose their heritage by being placed outside the reservation. "We have a peacemaker court within our tribe, that upholds our own judicial system, culture, heritage and traditions," said Poncho. Pam Parker, special projects attorney for the state of Texas, said this signing is a culmination of several years of efforts to provide federal and/or state funding to tribes seeking to provide foster care and adoptive services for the children from their own tribe. According to a tribe spokesman, this agreement is not retroactive, but will help with funding from this time forward.

The Federal Foster Care Program helps to provide safe and stable out-of-home care for children until the children are safely returned home, placed permanently with adoptive families or placed in other planned arrangements for permanency. The program is authorized by title IV-E of the Social Security Act, as amended, and implemented under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 45 CFR parts 1355, 1356, and 1357. It is an annually appropriated program with specific eligibility requirements and fixed allowable uses of funds. Funding is awarded by formula as an open-ended entitlement grant and is contingent upon an approved title IV-E plan to administer or supervise the administration of the program. The title IV-E Agency must submit yearly estimates of program expenditures as well as quarterly reports of estimated and actual program expenditures in support of the awarded funds. Funds are available for monthly maintenance payments for the daily care and supervision of eligible children; administrative costs to manage the program; training of staff and foster care providers; recruitment of foster parents and costs related to the design, implementation and operation of a state-wide data collection system.

The 50 States, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are eligible to participate in the Foster Care Program awards. Beginning in 2010, direct funding started becoming available to Indian Tribes, Indian Tribal organizations and Tribal consortia, with approved plans to operate the program. Alabama Coushatta has now joined the ranks of Tribes included in the Title IV E funding.

Three arrested during County-Wide Sex Offender Compliance Check

On March 14, 2012, at approximately 5:30 AM, the Tyler County Sheriff's Office (TCSO), along with the US Marshall's Service (USMS) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) conducted a county-wide 'Sex Offender Compliance Check'. All sex offenders registered in Tyler County were subject to the check, and a total of 51 persons were the targets of this operation. Six teams, comprising of a mixture of TCSO/USMS/DPS officers, were assigned different geographical areas throughout the county, and were assigned to conduct their checks on those registered within those areas.

During the operation, a total of 42 of the 51 offenders were actually contacted. Eight of the 42 were not in compliance and charges are pending. Three were arrested for unrelated crimes which were felon in possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance.

Bomb Threat Temporarily Evacuates Chester Schools

 Bomb sniffing dogs from Ft. Polk check out Chester ISD Campusby Kelli Barnes

A search dog from Fort Polk spent part of the day at Chester ISD because of a bomb threat early Friday morning. According to Don Campbell, program director for KETX Radio station in Livingston, a female caller threatened the following Polk County Schools: Big Sandy, Onalaska, Corrigan, Leggett and Goodrich. Campbell said Polk County Sheriff's Department is having the radio station trace the phone records in an effort to find the caller.

Chester ISD was also listed in the threat and Tyler County Sheriff's department responded to the school immediately. According to Tyler County Sheriff David Hennigan, as soon as Chester superintendent Kenneth Graham received the information, the students were evacuated to a safe location according to protocol set up by the school district. "We did an extensive search of the entire school," said Hennigan, "A Texas Ranger from Lufkin assisted, along with our deputies, constables and the superintendent."

The caller who made the threat specifically said "at 1:20 p.m.", so the Sheriff's department had the school disengage the school's alarm/bell system until everything was searched and 1:20 p.m. had come and gone. "The school set the alarm/bell system again for a check as a final precaution," said Hennigan.

In spite of the serious situation, Chester students enjoyed food brought in by McDonalds and Brookshire Bros. while waiting in their safe location for parents to pick them up.

Colmesneil VFD Responds To Brush Fire

Colmesneil VFD responds to brush Emily Waldrep

Colmesneil volunteer fire department responded to a brush fire down County Road 3200 near Colmesneil on Wednesday afternoon.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but firemen spotted a few downed Entergy lines at the scene. The fire burned near an occupied house, but thankfully the quick action of Colmesneil VFD and Entergy linemen prevented the fire from spreading.

Entergy states that the brush fire off of County Road 3200 in Colmesneil was caused by a tree limb that fell onto some power lines, causing them to fall on the ground and start a fire. The lines will be repaired and the tree will be trimmed as soon as possible to prevent future fires.

Warren ISD Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Resigns

Kevin Barbay, the athletic director and head football coach at Warren Independent School District, officially resigned from his position on March 6,2012 to pursue other opportunities for himself as well as his family.

"We will begin searching for a new head football coach in the coming weeks," said Lance Johnson, superintendent at Warren.

Johnson has not yet set a definite time-frame for finding the new head football coach.

Hillister Woman Arrested After Chained Dog Dies

by Kellie Barnes

There have been a number of animal cruelty instances in Tyler County recently, the latest resulting in the death of the animal.

Tiffany Roy, 23, of Hillister turned herself in to the Tyler County Sheriff's Department March 3, after a warrant was issued for her arrest on a charge of cruelty to animals. Bond was set at $500.

New Tyler County deputy Stephani Byron, accompanied by sergeant Ricky Coker, responded to a call on February 15 about a dog tied to a tree in the backyard of a residence. When officers arrived on scene, they discovered the dog was deceased. The dog was chained to a tree with no sign of shelter or food. According to officers, the animal's hip and rib bones were protruding from lack of nutrition. Roy had moved from the residence three weeks before and abandoned the animal.