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updated 1:55 PM UTC, Apr 8, 2019



76th Annual Dogwood Festival Queen Madison Shay Fondren

Dogwood Queen Madison Fondren


The 76th Annual Tyler County Dogwood Festival crowned its Queen Saturday night at the amphitheater in Woodville. Madison Shay Fondren of Warren will represent Tyler County this year as Dogwood Queen. Check out more from Queen's Weekend in the April 11 Issue of the Tyler County Booster. (Jim Powers/Tyler County Booster Photo)

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Babin meets with local law enforcement leaders



WOODVILLE – U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36) participated in four working meetings with law enforcement leaders from across his nine-county district this week. The meetings were attended by dozens of seasoned lawmen and women with decades of expertise including the U.S. Marshal Service, Texas Rangers, County Sheriffs and Constables, Police Chiefs, and other representatives from local police departments and schools. 

Discussed in the meetings was Babin’s bipartisan Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act (TAPS) Act which was recently reintroduced. The TAPS Act promotes utilizing the process of Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM) for determining the credibility and seriousness of potential threats and interrupting and managing those on a pathway to violence. For decades this process has been in place to identify, investigate, assess and mitigate threats in order to counter targeted violence. Pioneered by the U.S. Secret Service, BTAM has proven successful in protecting our presidents and foreign dignitaries.

The TAPS Act would spread this process to

“As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy, it is unfathomable to think we still are not doing enough to prevent the indiscriminate shootings, stabbings, bombings and other mass casualty events occurring all too often in our schools and communities,” said Babin. Thankfully, we’ve found a bipartisan solution. Our local leaders and law enforcement are the professionals with the boots on the ground who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities from violence, and I am thrilled to have received their overwhelmingly positive support for the TAPS Act.”
To learn more about the TAPS Act, please visit

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Appeals panel rules against Tribe’s gaming operation

Congressman Brian Babin (R-Woodville) presents an award to Emma and Elliott Abbey of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe at the annual Tyler County Chamber of Commerce Banquet last weekend. Babin has supported the tribe and  its efforts to keep its Naskila Gaming Center open. (JEFF FATHEREE | TCB PHOTO)Congressman Brian Babin (R-Woodville) presents an award to Emma and Elliott Abbey of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe at the annual Tyler County Chamber of Commerce Banquet last weekend. Babin has supported the tribe and its efforts to keep its Naskila Gaming Center open. (JEFF FATHEREE | TCB PHOTO)


By Greg Peak
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NEW ORLEANS, La. – Although Naskila Gaming will remain open for the time being, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has affirmed a lower court order closing the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas’ gaming facility.

The tribe has announced it will appeal the decision, which will allow the facility to remain in operation at least until a decision is made on that request.

“The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe will file a petition to have our case heard by the entire Fifth Circuit. We stand ready to appeal any adverse ruling to the United States Supreme Court as well,” Tribal Council Chairperson Cecilia Flores said Monday.

“There are 371 full-time jobs at stake, and we have a moral obligation to fight for every one of the people working at Naskila Gaming. Our alcohol-free facility is making a significant difference in the lives of East Texans and we will continue to pursue every legal avenue to continue operating Naskila Gaming on our Tribal lands.

“Naturally we are disappointed by the ruling of the three-judge panel, but the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe remains committed to protecting our sovereign rights and the people whose livelihood depends on this facility,” Flores added.

In a ruling filed Thursday, March 14, in New Orleans, La., the three-judge panel ruled the federal district court in Beaumont did not abuse its discretion when it ruled against the Tribe last year.

That February 2018 ruling came during a federal lawsuit filed against the Tribe by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton challenging their authority to operate electronic bingo games at their Naskila Gaming facility on the reservation east of Livingston.

In that decision, the district court judge ruled provisions of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act supersede the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The Restoration Act is the 1987 law which created the federal reservations for both the Alabama-Coushatta in Polk County and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (also known as Tigua) near El Paso.

The two laws are in conflict in that the IGRA allows gaming on Indian reservations nationwide while the Restoration Act prohibits it on the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua reservations in Texas.

In the district court ruling, the judge ordered the gaming facility to be closed, but granted a stay to allow it to continue to operate while the ruling was being appealed to the 5th Circuit Court.

The Tribe will have 30 days to file its appeal to the full court. It was not known how long it will take for the full court to decide if it will hear the appeal and if they do, how long it will take for a ruling to be issued.

In addition to the proceedings now underway in federal court, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin has introduced legislation in the U.S. House that would settle the conflict between the two laws. H.R. 759, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act would give both the Alabama-Coushatta the Tigua the authority to offer limited gaming on their federal reservations.

The bill has been sent to the House Natural Resources Committee for review, which on Feb. 12 referred it to the Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples of the United States.

As of Monday, of the bill’s 21 co-sponsors three were members of the subcommittee, including its chairman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa). In addition, two other co-sponsors, Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico) and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) are members of the full Natural Resources Committee.

Because Radewagen and Gonzalez-Colon do not represent states, they are classified as delegates and may not vote on the floor of the House. However, they are allowed to introduce legislation and fully participate – including vote – on the committees and subcommittees to which they are assigned.

A total of 10 members of the Texas delegation have signed on as co-sponsors including Republicans Will Hurd of Helotes, Michael Conaway of Midland, Randy Weber of Friendswood, Lance Gooden of Terrell, Dan Crenshaw of Houston, as well as Democrats Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Filemon Vela of Brownsville, Vincente Gonzalez of McAllen, Veronica Escobar of El Paso and Sylvia Garcia of Houston.

Other co-sponsors include Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.).

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WISD signs MOUs with colleges; nixes custodial service contract



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Woodville ISD Board of Trustees approved signing two memorandums of understanding with Stephen F. Austin State University and Lamar Institute of Technology at its Monday night meeting.

The MOUs indicate the district’s interest in a program, which although “still in its infantile stages,” according to WISD superintendent Glen Conner, shows promise of being an immense asset to the district’s student population.

“This could be the best thing that’s happened to us in the 12 or 13 years I’ve been here [as superintendent],” Conner said.

According to Conner, the project involves an academy-type situation with the two higher learning institutions partnering with schools in Tyler, Jasper and Newton counties. At present, the plan is to offer classes out of the former Angelina College teaching center in Jasper.

The method of instruction will be different than the dual-credit courses currently offered at WISD, Conner said. The situation proposed through the SFASU/LIT agreement will offer “a true college atmosphere,” he said, with face-to-face instructors.

Aside from helping high school students to better prepare for college, the program will make it possible for them to obtain associates degrees in a variety of disciplines ranging from health career pathways to welding.

Conner said representatives from the TLL Temple Foundation are helping with the planning stages and could possibly fund it.
He said all that WISD would be responsible to provide are the students for the program and “a shared vision of doing better for our kids.”

Custodial service nixed
The Board killed an agenda item that proposed using a third-party custodial service for the district. Representatives from Houston-based McLemore Building Maintenance were at the meeting to make a presentation about their firm.

The representatives gave specifics on hiring practices, training procedures and examples of some of the institutions they service. District business manager Cody Jarrott said the option of awarding a contract to a third-party service is something the administration has been considering for a while with the retirement of custodial director Bernard Collins.

Jarrott said he believed it to be the best option as opposed to hiring one person. He cited the fact that the firm does custodial work on a large scale in school districts as well as colleges and businesses.
McLemore would hire a project manager, and custodial employees in the district would become employees of McLemore, according to a representative.
Currently there are 30 custodial employees in the district. McLemore projections show that number would likely be cut in half, if they were awarded the contract.
Board member Richard Shaw said the proposal contained “a lot of information we’ve been hit with.”
“This is a big change that affects a lot of people,” he said.
Another board member, Josh McClure, stated concern for employees who would potentially be cut. “I am very, very concerned about every district employee and the families affected,” he said.
Conner said the employees have been aware for some time that changes are on the horizon. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we were satisfied with what we have currently,” he said.
Shaw suggested another meeting to examine the information closer, but board president Jimmy Tucker said “If we wait 30 days, it doesn’t change the fact that half of [existing custodial staff members] are leaving.”
Tucker asked if anyone had a motion to put forth for the contract’s approval. Bryan Shirley motioned for the approval, but no second was provided.

“Teachers of the Year” recognized
The Board recognized teachers from each one of the WISD campuses for the “Teacher of the Year” awards. Tracy Wilson, from the elementary campus; Melanie Spivey from Woodville Intermediate; Marsha Watts from the middle school and Earl Bryan from Woodville High School were given the honors.
Board members along with administration from the different WISD campuses gave praise to each of the educators for their passion and abilities. Bryan, a science teacher, was also named WISD’s “Teacher of the Year” at the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet last weekend.


Other Business
During his monthly report, Conner gave some updates on the district-wide renovations taking place. He said the lighting replacement, on all WISD campuses, is 80% complete.
The HVAC work on the WHS campus is progressing, as well, with workers on site four days out of the week and working on Saturdays.
Conner voiced support on a bill before the Texas House of Representatives. House Bill 3, which was unveiled by Rep. Dan Huberty, a Houston Republican serving as chairman of the House Public Education Committee, proposes $9 billion toward increasing funding per student. The bill would also lower property tax rates by four cents.
Conner called it the best proposal he has seen in 38 years as an educator.
“I honestly feel like they are going to do something with school finance reform this year,” he said.

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