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updated 12:55 PM UTC, Oct 14, 2018

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Mia Spradlin raises Grand Champion Steer at 2018 Fair

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Warren FFA member Mia Spradlin poses with her steer, which won Grand Champion honors at the Tyler County Fair. Her steer sold for a total of $9,000 in the livestock auction. The annual event featured rides, games and food, along with the auctions and nearly $290K was raised in livestock sales. Be sure and check out our salute to all the fair participants in this issue. You can check out our special salute  and photos to the Tyler County Fair Participants here:

Tyler County Booster Special Fair Photo Section

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Updates delivered at DETCOG meeting

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Deep East Texas Council of Governments held its monthly meeting in Woodville last Thursday, Sept. 27 at the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church. Following a steak lunch, DETCOG members and constituents received updates on a few programs and projects the council is working on.

DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt presented the proposed grant program budgets for the coming fiscal year. The amount budgeted is $20.2 million, which represents a decrease of $400,942 from the previous budget.

The grant programs budget for fiscal year 2019 was approved.

Broadband study update
An update was given on DETCOG’s rural broadband study.

DETCOG President Daphne Session appointed a committee to review and recommend a firm from a list of six. The committee will make a recommendation at the next board meeting.

Hunt said the TLL Temple Foundation has provided funds for expert help in selecting the firm and management of the study.
The broadband network study was approved by DETCOG in March when the board of directors approved an amendment to allocate $513,323 in funds remaining from Hurricane Ike Round 2.2 disaster recovery money.

In a letter to community leaders within the DETCOG region, Hunt wrote that broadband internet speed and access is “a critical issue everywhere, especially in rural areas like the Deep East Texas/Texas Forest Country region.” Hunt wrote that without adequate connections, it is impossible for businesses and community services to participate fully in today’s digital economy.

GLO buyout and acquisition program update
Christi Sullivan, who is DETCOG’s new head of economic development, gave a report on behalf of the Texas Association of Regional Councils. Sullivan detailed a buyout and acquisition program conducted by the Texas General Land Office to assist areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The GLO allocated $275 million into the program, with $31 million of it available for five counties within the DETCOG region.
Hunt said the money is available to rebuild rental properties and encouraged anyone who owns rental property to apply.

New employer coming to Lufkin
Nancy Windham, CEO of Texas Forest Country Partnership, called the decision for Illinois-based Sterling Lumber Company to locate a new facility in Lufkin “a huge win for our region.”

The project, which was announced by Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, will bring 150 new jobs to the area for on-site work at the facility and close to 500 total (direct and indirect laborers), according to Windham.

The company will invest more $30 million into the facility, according to Abbott’s statement.

DETCOG building project update
Hunt gave an update on the DETCOG headquarters building project. The new DETCOG office, which will be located in Lufkin, was greenlit last year. “Our hope is by sometime in November everything can be in place,” Hunt said of the project. Once the ground is broke, Hunt said the timetable for construction should be eight months.

The Lufkin-based firm KSA Engineers was selected to build the office and donations from the Temple Foundation, the City of Lufkin and the Economic Development Administration helped to acquire the land and will be used in the construction.

Housing payment standards approved
Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy presented an update on payment standards for DETCOG’s regional housing authority. Murphy said that historically the payment option stays the same, which is 110%. Murphy said DETCOG has the option of approving a 90% payment standard from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for its housing assistance program, but the higher payment standard “incentivizes landlords to provide better structures for the people we are helping.”

Murphy motioned to maintain the payment standard at 110% and it was approved.

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Head-on collision near Spurger results in fatality

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SPURGER – On Wednesday, Sept. 26, at approximately 2:45p.m., the Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers responded to a head-on collision on FM 1013 in Tyler County. The crash occurred five miles east of Spurger.

Preliminary reports indicate that a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix was traveling eastbound on FM 1013. A 2015 Ford Mustang was traveling westbound on FM 1013. For an unknown reason, the driver of the Pontiac crossed the center dividing line and collided head-on with the Ford Mustang.

The rear passenger of the Pontiac, identified as Marissa Gilchriest, a 16-year-old female from Orange, was transported to the Tyler County hospital with serious injuries. She did not survive her injuries and was pronounced deceased, at 4:29p.m., by Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford. The teenager was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.

The driver of the Pontiac, 25-year-old Carley Buckley from Fred, and her front passenger, a 16-year-old female also from Fred, were both transported by ambulance to St. Elizabeth hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the Ford, 22-year-old Karli Mears from Porter, was also transported to St. Elizabeth hospital with serious injuries.
At the time of the crash, the roadway was wet from a previous rainfall.

There are no additional details to be released as DPS continue to investigate this fatal crash.

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Wright retires as TCH administrator; Williams appointed interim

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Dr. Sandra Wright has stepped down as CEO of Tyler County Hospital after serving in the position for 18 years.

According to Ken Jobe, chairman of the Tyler County Hospital District Board of Managers, Wright approached the board about retirement last week. On Monday, the board appointed Sondra Williams as the hospital’s interim CEO.

“We wish Dr. Wright well in her retirement,” Jobe said. “Eighteen years is a long time and shows dedication to Tyler County and to the hospital.”
Jobe said that at present there are no plans to search for a new CEO.

Williams, who has worked at TCH for 19 years and served as CNO since 2008 says there has been “a stir of excitement” around the hospital. “We’re working to bring some patients back into our system for healthcare,” she said.

TCH hired a new physician, Dr. Natalia Ivanova, who began working for TCH on Tuesday, according to Williams. Williams said the Family Medical Clinic and the walk-in clinic for sick and acute care are both seeing success and provide quality healthcare to Tyler County residents.

Williams said that the operations of the clinic have been delegated to Scott McCluskey, who handles finance and Janay Gilbert who is in charge of clinic operations.

Williams said that in addition to the infusion clinic that operates in the hospital on Wednesdays via the Baptist Hospital network, TCH offers a variety of other specialty services, including urology and mental health services.

“We want to become the heart of Tyler County for healthcare,” she said.

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