updated 3:49 PM UTC, Jul 23, 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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Babin commends FEMA on Harvey funding

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WOODVILLE – U.S. Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36) released the following statement commending FEMA for awarding Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District (ISD) $27,818,876 in federal funding to replace Henderson Middle School, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey. This funding is being provided under the authority of Section 428 of the Robert T. Stafford Act.

“I’m proud to finally say that Hardin-Jefferson ISD has officially been obligated more than $27 million dollars to replace its middle school, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey nearly three years ago,” said Rep. Babin. “My staff and I have worked nonstop with FEMA personnel since the storm to ensure that the flooded school building was replaced. It was a long fight, but this moment is worth every setback we have gone through over the years.

“For too long, Hardin-Jefferson’s students and teachers have been in temporary facilities. Now, the process of moving forward can begin, and soon, a state-of-the-art facility will be built to showcase the incredible education this school district provides. I’m grateful for the hard work and dedication that Hardin-Jefferson ISD leadership continuously poured into this long process, proud to have helped them reach this goal, and privileged to represent these individuals, students, teachers, and faculty members in the U.S. Congress.”

Hardin-Jefferson ISD’s Director of Communications, Mandy Fortenberry, also commented on the celebratory occasion: “We are so thankful for the support that we have received from Representative Brian Babin as well as Senator Cornyn's office,” said Fortenberry. “Though the road to recovery from Harvey has been long, we are excited to move forward with the design of our new facilities.

“We will be sharing more details with our community soon. Our current focus is on the upcoming school year and the obstacles we face in the current pandemic.”

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Fred man caught for evading arrest

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Fred man last week who initially fled authorities because he, admittedly, had a warrant out for his arrest.

Christopher Keith Loftin, age 39, is currently in Tyler County Jail and has been charged with Evading Arrest with a Motor Vehicle, which is a State Jail felony, along with a Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole violation warrant.

The deputies who arrested Loftin were patrolling the Spurger area last Tuesday where they observed a small blue Honda passenger car headed north past the campus of Spurger ISD, travelling at a high rate of speed, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. The deputies attempted to initiate a stop, but the driver made a right-hand turn onto County Road 4420 and continued at a high rate of speed.

Weatherford said the deputies continued in pursuit, and soon found the vehicle abandoned, but still running, near CR 4426.

The deputies recovered several pieces of evidence from the vehicle and around it. Weatherford noted that there were skid marks trailing the vehicle for approximately 70 yards. They also spoke with several witnesses, and were subsequently able to locate Loftin, who told the deputies that he had fled because he knew he had active warrants

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Blacksher wins runoff

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Joe Blacksher won the runoff election for the Precinct 1 Commissioner seat. The results were announced on Tuesday night, and he received 530 votes to Kent Gore’s 336 votes.

The election was originally scheduled for May 26, but it was postponed to July 14 due to the statewide efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. With Blacksher’s victory, he will be on the ballot in the November general election, running likely unopposed.

The current commissioner of Precinct 1, Martin Nash, announced retirement to take effect at the end of the current term he is serving.

Also in the Republican runoff, Tyler County voters supported Jay Wright for Chief Justice of the Ninth Court of Appeals over Scott Golemon, 739 to 487.

In statewide runoffs, the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, local voters supported MJ Hegar with 115 votes to Royce West’s 86. The statewide total is not available at press time for that race, but the winner will take on the incumbent, John Cornyn, a Republican, in the general election.

The position of railroad commissioner was also contested, and county Democratic Party voters chose Roberto “Beto” Alonzo over Chrysta Castaneda by a single vote of 99 to 98.

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 3, and along with local and statewide races, voters will get to bubble in the box for U.S. President in a race between incumbent Donald Trump, a Republican; presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Libertarian Party nominee Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

These totals are unofficial until verified.

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