updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

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  • Abbott plans to visit East Texas

    Networking 071620PHOTO BY MICHAEL G. MANESS Former Mayor Jimmie Cooley networked with JEDCO Director Eddie Hopkins, U.S. Representative Dr. Brian Babin, NAPC President Lonnie Grissom, TCIC President Gil Tubb, and Texas Rep. Dr. James White at the Magnolia Bar and Grill in Woodville on July 6 to help schedule a visit to East Texas by Governor Greg Abbott. Pictured (L-R) are Grissom, White, Cooley, Babin, Tubb, and Hopkins.

    By Michael G. Maness

    WOODVILLE – Governor Greg Abbott is planning on coming to East Texas soon.

    Former Woodville Mayor Jimmie Cooley and Texas Rep. James White were visiting Abbott at his mansion in Austin, and Abbott expressed to Cooley an interest in coming to East Texas. Cooley said she would have to “check with her boys.”

    Abbott deferred to his scheduler who set a date with Cooley and White, then Covid-19 surged again, and that forced a rescheduling.

    Cooley networked with Eddie Hopkins, executive director of the Jasper Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO), who hosted a meeting at the Magnolia Bar and Grill in Woodville on July 6 with U.S. Representative Dr. Brian Babin (R-Woodville); Lonnie Grissom of the North American Procurement Company; Gil Tubb of the Tyler County Industrial Corporation; White and Cooley.

    They discussed options and will be working on a date with Abbott’s office to come to Jasper in the near future. Hopkins said, “We need more partnership with each other for the betterment and growth of East Texas.”

    Babin said, “Great to think regional. We need to meet together more often.”

    The meeting of economic shakers in East Texas also discussed the new sawmill coming to Jasper County, timber and logging in the area, the redistricting of Texas, the I-14 highway that will go through Woodville and Jasper, Mobile Oil Credit Union in Woodville, and much more.

    They also discussed the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe U.S. H.B. 759, and the need to get U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to support that bill. It will, if passed, clarify gaming laws and allow the tribe to continue to operate its gaming facility, Naskila Gaming.

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  • Senators can deliver fairness for East Texas


    By Cathy Bennett

    IVANHOE - There is a question facing U.S. senators right now that should matter to all of us, because it will affect the short- and long-term economic health of our region: Will they treat East Texas fairly?

    The Senate has the chance to pass legislation, already approved unanimously in the House, that would expressly allow electronic bingo on the land of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe near Livingston and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo near El Paso. This would stop the state’s misguided efforts to shut those facilities down.

    East Texas knows all too well how important it is for the Alabama-Coushatta’s bingo facility, Naskila Gaming, to remain open; Naskila is responsible for 700 direct and indirect jobs in our region and generates $170 million a year in economic activity while providing a highly limited, regulated form of gaming.

    Some say Texas’ two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, will never support the East Texas and El Paso facilities because they do not want gaming. But here’s the problem with that argument: Texas already has gaming on tribal lands. Due to differing federal laws, the Kickapoo Tribe in Eagle Pass near the Texas-Mexico border already offers electronic bingo and will continue to do so. The state isn’t trying to shut that facility down.

    This, in other words, comes down to fairness. Why should Eagle Pass reap the community benefits of an electronic bingo facility — the jobs, the economic activity — while providing the exact same form of gaming that the state is trying to shut down in East Texas and El Paso? It makes no sense that the border region gets to play by a different set of rules. When our state is enduring a recession like this, our elected officials should be looking for ways to create jobs rather than taking them away from us.

    East Texas strongly supports the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and Naskila gaming. More than 70 organizations have passed resolutions or taken votes to support the facility, including county commissioners courts and city councils, county Republican parties and chambers of commerce. The conservative Republican congressman who represents Livingston, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, authored the congressional legislation that would allow the facility to stay open. Not only did his bill pass the House without dissent, but 19 members of Congress representing Texas from across the ideological and partisan spectrum sent Cornyn a bill last month urging him to help the bill move forward.

    Now, the ball is in our senators’ court. They can save Naskila and hundreds of East Texas jobs by helping Babin’s bill move forward before Congress adjourns at the end of this year. Cornyn asked his Senate colleagues to block the bill last year. But if he drops his opposition, he can save hundreds of good jobs at this moment of economic pain. And, just as importantly, he can show that he listens to East Texas and is committed to a bright future for our region.

    Cathy Bennett is the Mayor of Ivanhoe, Texas.




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