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LOCAL PROFESSIONAL AND COLLEGE PLAYERS TO WATCH THIS FALL

SANDIES FOOTBALL GETS FRESH START WITH NEW COACH

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ANDERSON COUNTY “GREEN” SCULPTURES SPROUTING UP


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CONTENTS

SANDIES FOOTBALL IS GETTING A FRESH START WITH A NEW COACH . . . . . . . . . 4 BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE

4

PUZZLES AND FUN . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 ANDERSON COUNTY “GREEN” SCULPTURES SPROUTING UP EVERYWHERE . . . . . . . . . 9 BY PENNYLYNN WEBB

BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE

ROTISSERIE CHICKEN: A VERSATILE BIRD . . . . . . . . . . . .19

9

BY NANCY M. LAND

MARKETPLACE CLASSIFIEDS . . . . . . . 23 BEHIND ENEMY LINES: FRANK HALL, P.O.W. OF THE FORGOTTEN WAR . . . . . 25 BY PENNYLYNN WEBB

CANEY CREEK BECOMES HOUSTON COUNTY’S FIRST WINERY . . . 30

25

BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE

SENIOR CENTER SAGA CONTINUES . . . 35 BACK TO SCHOOL COLORING CONTEST FOR KIDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

30

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LOCAL COLLEGE & PRO PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR IN 2013 . . . . . . . . . . 12

LOOKING GOOD WHEN FEELING BAD . . . 18

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SANDIES FOOTBALL IS GETTING A FRESH START WITH A NEW COACH BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE

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LOT HAS changed for the Sandies since last football season. When Owen Clifton took over as the school’s first-ever head basketball coach named Athletic Director, many fans worried it would diminish Grapeland’s emphasis on football. I believe fans have nothing to fear. If anything, Clifton has organized an experienced and successful football coaching staff in only a matter of months. One of those coaches is the Sandies new head football coach Shawn Brown who served as the defensive coordinator at Sul Ross State University last season. The Lobos finished the 2012 season with an overall record of (5-5), with several of Brown’s

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Brown said he hopes to emphasize how the kids can succeed in the classroom via athletics. “We are going to try to utilize kids to the best of our ability,” Brown said. “We are going to try to utilize athletics as a way of improving the students’ classroom performance so that they can go on to lead successful careers and lives. Athletics are a great thing, but they are a vessel to academics, and academics are a vessel to the rest of your life.” Brown has over 20 years of coaching experience and is very familiar with the East Texas area. Prior to coaching at Sul Ross, Brown spent three years coaching at Caldwell and Jasper, both 3A high schools. Brown spent one year coaching at Caldwell in 2011, prior to taking over at the defensive coordinator

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defenders receiving ASC All-Conference Team honors. “There are a lot of positive things going on here from the students all the way up to the coaches, teachers, administration and community,” Brown said on the night of his hiring. “There are lots of positive things going on, and we are going to springboard off of that.” After graduating from Cleburne High School in 1988, Brown went on to play football at Division III Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Ind. Brown earned his Bachelor of Special Studies in Education in 1992 and completed his Master of Science in Health and Physical Education in 2002 at Louisiana Tech University. In 2008, Brown completed his Principal Certification from Stephen F. Austin State University.

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- 6 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

at Sul Ross. Before arriving at Caldwell, Brown served as the defensive coordinator at Jasper High School. During his time at Jasper, Brown helped turn a team that went (4-6) in 2008 to a team that went (8-3) in 2009. The Bulldogs 2009 team also had four defensive players make the AP 3A All-State team. Prior to coaching at Jasper, Brown also coached at Marlin, Livingston, Klein Oak, Clear Lake, Giddings, and Bloomington. Brown comes to Grapeland with his wife Pam. Their daughter Hannah Krschnak, lives in Katy and is currently working on her Master’s Degree. The Brown’s son Jacob Krschnak will begin his sophomore year at Sul Ross University in Alpine this fall. Another hire made during the offseason is Coach Shane Tuck and his wife Coach Erin Tuck. This will be Mrs. Tuck’s first year coaching, but Shane will enter his 10th year as a coach. He comes to Grapeland from the Corpus Christi area where he served as the offensive line coach for the 5A Corpus Christi Carroll Tigers. Coaches Brown and Tuck have worked together before, and Brown says Tuck will be the Sandies new offensive line coach. “Coach Tuck has a fantastic resume and has a lot of experience and exposure with various successful offensive schemes. I know what he expects out of an offense, and he knows what I expect out of an offense. I am really excited to have him and his wife here, and we are really excited about all the positives we have seen so far.” Brown takes over a Sandies football program that finished the 2012 season with a (2-8) record, the two wins coming against rival teams Lovelady and the Cushing Bearkats. The Sandies have only one two District championships in the last 15 years, one in Class 2A in 1998, and the last at the 1A level in 2008. Grapeland’s last District title was a three-way tie among Grapeland, Alto and Cayuga after the Sandies beat Cayuga, Cayuga beat Alto, and Alto beat Grapeland. Grapeland finished the 2008 season with a (9-3) record, and that was the last time the Sandies won more than five games in a season. Grapeland’s record sits at (14-27) since the 2008 season, and

the Sandies have only made one playoff appearance during that time. In 2008, the Sandies had two AllState linebackers in Henry Faulk and Kendrick Davis, three-time All-State defensive back Ta’Coyus Walker, and one of the best defenses in 1A. One of Grapeland’s greatest weaknesses since that time has been the Sandies defense, which gave up more yards than any 11man football team in our three county coverage area. Another area the Sandies have struggled with over the last four years is on the offensive line, which Coach Tuck should plans to remedy this year. Despite the 2012 record, the Sandies return 15 lettermen from last year’s team, which includes All-State defensive back Jacolby Simpson and kick-returner Patrick Walker. Simpson is included on Texas Football Magazine’s 1A Pre-season AllState defensive-back list, and Walker has received interest from the University of Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor. In addition, every senior player this fall brings at least two to three years varsity experience per player to the field with some talented underclassmen to boost the varsity ranks. At defensive back, Demetri Walker and linebacker Hunter Collins will be two of the more experienced veterans of the Sandies defense. Talent and experience will be a plus for Brown during his first year, but he believes the only way the Sandies will improve is through hard work. Throughout the summer, the coaching staff has held a strength and conditioning program that the coaches and athletes are calling SWAT, and Brown says that he has been pleased with some of the things he has seen from the athletes. “The kids that we have had coming out to participate in SWAT are doing a fantastic job so far, and we are really excited about them,” Brown said. “The o-line guys that I have seen have looked good, and we’ve got some skilled guys that are coming back that should definitely help us.” Brown pointed out that Simpson and Walker are certainly good, and that they‘ll be great assets to the team. “Jacolby has been to camp quite a lot, and Patrick is playing summer basketball,” Brown said. “They are real good kids, but there are

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other kids that I am very excited about as well. Jaques Faulk, Riley Chipman, Justin Sullivan, and Trey Sullivan have been attending the summer strength and conditioning camp quite a bit, and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from them so far. The Lewis twins, Zach and Isaac, have been working out a lot as well, and they have done a great job.” Brown said he watched films from last season and noticed impressive areas as well as some places offering room for improvement. Grapeland has run the spread offense for years now, and that won’t change in 2013. Brown explained that the circumstances essentially dictate that the Sandies run a spread offense, since they don’t have a lot of offensive linemen and have an excess amount of skilled players. “We’ll be running a different defense and type of the spread offense, but we are really just going to try to utilize the talent we have to the best of our ability.”

DISTRICT 10-1A DIVISION I IS GOING TO BE TOUGH Dave Campbell’s Texas Football reported Grapeland’s District as one of the toughest in 1A Division I, and for good reason. Besides the Sandies, District-10

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includes San Augustine, Alto, West Sabine, Shelbyville, and Cushing. All of these teams, except Cushing, have had lots of football success, and strong football traditions. In 2011, San Augustine won its 2A District, then dropped to 1A and swept District again. San Augustine finished the 2012 season with a record of (9-3), and Regional semifinal appearance. However, good news for the Sandies, and entire District, is that the Wolves graduated seventeen seniors, and only return four starters on both sides of the ball. San Augustine will also have to play the Sandies in Grapeland this year. Alto is always strong. The Yellowjackets field a good team year in and year out and always have a roster packed with talented athletes. Alto is expected by most sportswriters to win District, and some believe the Yellowjackets are poised to win their third State championship in the last seven years. The No. 2-ranked Yellowjackets only graduated nine seniors and return 21 lettermen from 2012 (11-3) Regional finalist team. One of those returning starters is Texas Football’s 1A cover boy Jacolby Whitaker, who rushed for over 2,600 yards and 42 touchdowns last season. The Yellowjackets will also have a new

Head Coach in Paul Gould, but don’t expect that to hamper Alto’s performance. West Sabine emerged as a dark horse last season, and after scoring an outrageous amount of points against pre-District opponents, the team finally broke into the top 10 State rankings by midseason. The Tigers fell to Alto and San Augustine, but secured the third playoffs spot and made it to Area. West Sabine also returns a lot of lettermen including eight defensive and nine offensive starters from last year’s team. The Shelbyville Dragons always field teams with talent, but the team struggles with consistency. That may change this year though, since the Dragons return a decent number of lettermen and have the Rogers Eagles former defensive coordinator as their new head coach. Cushing struggles year in and year out, but they always put up a good fight. You can always expect the Bearkats to be in the hunt for an upset, so they’re not to be taken lightly. The Sandies face the 2A Division II No. 8-ranked Centerville Tigers on the road, and face Trinity, Lovelady, Elkhart and Leon prior to District. Yes, this is a tough schedule, but the Sandies can compete for the District title if they take care of business, work hard

and stay focused. “I think we have the talent to play with anybody in the District, and that is not slighting any of our District opponents,” Brown said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are tough teams in our district, but on the same token I think we have skilled kids that can play with anybody. So, if we handle our business correctly then we should be in the fight every Friday night.” “We have to get the kids sold on what we are doing, and I believe that if you do it the way you are coached to do it, then we’ll be successful,” Brown said. “The better and faster they take it, the easier it is going to be. This is an opportunity, and if they just stay on top of things, then it will happen. Our job is to stay on top of them until that happens. I think everything that we want to do can happen here, and that this program can be very successful. Getting to coach football in Grapeland is a great opportunity. Everyone I’ve met in town has been extremely supportive, and the community is definitely behind us. The school board, superintendent, and Owen Clifton have all been supportive and are always open to our needs. You name anything and they try to do it the right way. So, we are excited to be here and ready to get the season underway.”

July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 7 -


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ANDERSON COUNTY “GREEN” SCULPTURES SPROUTING UP EVERYWHERE

A

BY PENNYLYNN WEBB

S YOU DRIVE into downtown Palestine on Crockett Road, many travelers may notice the beautiful metal mushrooms adorning a small park area. A closer look reveals these mushrooms were made from old satellite dishes. Serving as a “pop of color” for the sculpture grouping, one of the mushrooms is adorned with Palestine’s signature Dogwood blossom. Slowly, other sculptures of this nature have begun to spring up at various locations around Anderson County and the surrounding area. These nature-inspired works of art are the work of Eco-Artist Terry Vogeler. Vogeler is originally from Wisconsin. He moved to Texas in 1972 and attended Junior College in Athens. He then moved to Omaha, Neb. where he attended the University of Nebraska. One year later he returned to Texas and decided to take up welding and pipe

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fitting. Vogeler said he worked his way across the nation at power plants and refineries. He noted that his favorite job was at Endicott Island in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. “This is where I fell in love with geography and nature.” Vogeler reported that it was in the 1990s that he started creating geographical art from wood and steel. “The most popular piece was called The Rivers of Texas. I also created two world maps using 17 to 20 different types of wood from Anderson County. One of those maps is hanging in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Palestine, the other is at a Holiday Inn in Brenham.” For Vogeler the idea of “green art” actually came to him while driving backroads. “One day while driving the country

roads, I noticed many large satellite dishes in folks’ backyard. I knew they weren’t being used. The response I received when I first started talking about making sculptures with these dishes was, ‘Please take the dish out of my yard!’ this was strong motivation to get started using them. The shape of the dish was perfect for mushrooms or umbrellas. I got really excited when I found that I could use my welding knowledge to fabricate unique yard art.” He added, “I call my work ‘whimsical art’ and have always loved that word.” Making dogwood trees that will keep their bloom year round, Terry Vogeler is creating sculptures out of recycled materials. “Palestine’s motto is the home of the Dogwood trails. Everyone loves Dogwood Blooms, but four short weeks of

- 10 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

blooming just wasn’t enough. With yard art being my focus, it was clear that a metal Dogwood bloom was next. This took a while to design.” In search of the perfect bloom, Vogeler found another source of metal to repurpose into his creations. “I found a gentleman who had a large supply of metal sign blanks. Recycling the sign blanks for building metal leaves and flower petals worked out perfectly. Sunflowers and lilies soon followed.” Vogeler added, “When I built the large Dogwood tree for Easy Recycling in Palestine, their scrap yard became my favorite place to shop.” In fact, Vogeler now strives to make everyone of his creations completely out of recycled material. “Except for a variety of small leaves that I purchase, most

everything else is recycled steel. I shop at the steel scrap yard for hours and utilize steel in ways other than it was intended,” said Vogeler. He noted, “The steel cables from Easy Recycling come in many sizes and make excellent veins” adding, “While most people design a project on paper and then gather their materials. I enjoy looking at unused or scrap materials for hours until my imagination takes over.” Vogeler said that sometimes the idea can be right at his feet all along. “The giant sunflower I created is a fiberglass satellite dish. It took me a while to find the media for an inexpensive lightweight seedpod. One day in my yard, I stepped on a lava rock, laughed and was so excited to find just what I needed.”

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His creations include a fountain at the new convenient store on Loop 256, umbrella like awnings at a property on Circle R Lake, metal flowers at Jamie’s Therapeutic Touch Day Spa, a Dogwood Tree at Easy Recycling and several large mushroom and sunflower sculptures at various locations. At this point, Vogeler won’t claim one of his creations as his favorite, stating, “As most artist, my favorite piece will probably be my next piece, and I love a good challenge.” According to Vogeler he’s currently working on a unique gate entry for a private landowner and has two more projects in the works. Not only has Vogeler brightened the city of Palestine with his art, he also helped with the Old Town Creek Revitalization project, putting in many hours working on metal bridges, dams, plans and signage. “In the late 1990s I built all the metal Old Town Palestine signs along with the bridges over the creek and the metal Saw Dust Stage.” Recently, Vogeler finished a unique project for the Iron Spike Disc Golf

Course, located in Greens Park. “I just finished the iron spikes for the entry way of the disc golf course. I constructed them using 12” square tubing that I found at the Easy Recycling yard in Jacksonville. These spikes were the toughest challenge for me so far. Like the largest ball of twine and the largest frying pan, I hope our city’s future motto will be, ‘Visit Palestine, Home of Dogwood Trails and the World’s Largest Railroad Spikes.” At 13 ft. 2 inches, this pair of railroad spikes rivals the World’s Larges Railroad Spikes that are located in the village of Pine Creek Alberta Canada. Of his newfound career, Vogeler said, “Sometimes I feel like the poster child for starving artist, but I love doing this style of art. People tell me that they smile when they drive by some of my art. Making folks smile is all the inspiration one should ever need.” For more information or to order you own one of a kind sculpture, contact Terry Vogeler at teravo@gmail.com or call him at 903-391-3906.

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LOCAL COLLEGE & PRO PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR IN 2013 LANE JOHNSON— FROM GROVETON TO PHILADELPHIA Throughout the 2013 NFL draft process, the Eagles insisted on four premier players at the top of the draft board, and one of those players was Oklahoma offensive tackle and Groveton native Lane Johnson. The Eagles used its first pick to select Johnson as the third tackle chosen among the first four picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. At 6-foot, 6-inches and 303 pounds, Johnson is a rarity for an offensive lineman due to his 4.7 speed and incredible athletic ability for his size. Since he left Groveton High School, Johnson’s football career has been one of change, adaptation, and hard work. Johnson con-

BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE tinued playing quarterback at the junior college level, but was moved to tight end after arriving at Oklahoma. During his junior season, Johnson was moved from defensive end to the offensive line, and the Sooners where impressed with how well the quick-footed former quarterback performed. After becoming the Sooners starting right tackle for a year, the staff decided to move him over to the other side of the line starting at left tackle his senior year. After an outstanding senior year on the Sooners offensive line and a great performance during the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, Johnson was projected as a top five pick for the NFL draft. The rest is history as they say. Personally, I have learned over the past decade to always trust and go with

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However, if any team could duplicate Oregon’s offense at the NFL level it would certainly be the Eagles, which is why I believe Kelly made the decision to go there in the first place. As training camp approaches, the Eagles have a swath of talent to choose from at numerous positions. The quarterback position includes five players with talent and experience: Tulsa’s G.J. Kenne, former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, USC’s Matt Barkley, and last year’s two starters Nick Foles and Michael Vick. At running back, the Eagles are looking at TCU’s Matthew Tucker, former Dallas Cowboy Felix Jones, and last year’s starter LeSean McCoy. The Eagles wide receivers would fit perfectly in an Oregon-style offense with speedsters like Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson and veteran Jason Avant. On paper, all of this seems to suggest Kelly is ignoring the naysayers, and bringing his own offensive touch to the NFL. My own prediction is that Johnson will lock up a starting position on the

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my first gut instinct, and I have a gut feeling Johnson will play a major role in the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the Eagles greatest weaknesses in 2012 was its offensive line, which allowed a combined 48 sacks of quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles. The Eagles parted ways with longtime head coach Andy Reed and brought in Chip Kelly who established the Oregon Ducks wide-open and high-powered offense at the college level. When you consider the kind of spread and speedy offense Kelly utilizes combined with Johnson’s physical abilities on the offensive line, no one can deny how well these two powers match. There has been a lot of speculation about how much of the Ducks offensive schemes Kelly will try to implement in Philadelphia or if he will be able to make those changes at all. Many commentators and so-called experts have suggested Kelly will have to adjust his offensive playbook to the NFL and that what he did at Oregon will not produce that kind of success at the professional level.

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 13 -


Eagles offensive line, and could even go beyond that before the end of the season. Johnson’s physical tools make him a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense, and based on reports out of OTA, he may get to touch the ball a bit too. According to Jimmy Kempski of  BloggingTheBeast.com, Johnson lined up in the slot to the right side on one play, and the Eagles ran a screen to the outside receiver. This could mean that Johnson may get outside and block down field on wide receiver screens in the future, but it could be a flash of other opportunities for the rookie to show whether he is capable of coming in at the tight-end position down the road.

ADRIAN PETERSON— PALESTINE, MINNESOTA VIKINGS Since he left Palestine High School in 2004, the legend of Adrian Peterson has grown with the passing of each football season. After a great high school

football career as the Wildcats running back, Peterson became a star running back for the University of Oklahoma as a true freshman. After an outstanding career carrying the ball for the Sooners, Peterson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, and has been one of the best running backs in NFL since that time. However, in December of 2011, Peterson suffered a season-ending ACL tear, which many believed could have ended his career. As Peterson prepared to hit the field again in 2012, many people doubted he would ever be the same player again. The average NFL running back has a career span of about three years, but Peterson is no average back. Not only did Peterson return as the Vikings starting running back, he had the best season of his NFL career. In 2012 Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, which was just a mere nine yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s NFL single-season rushing record. This year could justifiably be considered the year of Adrian Peterson, since

- 14 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

the Palestine native’s unbelievable comeback has helped him scoop up some of the most prestigious awards in professional sports. This year Peterson was named the National Football League’s Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player. In order to win those two awards, Peterson beat out one of the best quarterbacks of the last decade— Peyton Manning, who made an astonishing comeback of his own during the 2012 football season. On July 17, Peterson locked up another outstanding award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) in Los Angeles. Peterson won the Comeback Athlete of the Year and was nominated for ESPY Male Athlete of the Year. In the grand scheme of things, Peterson’s comeback will probably go down in the record books as one of the most impressive in NFL history. The Palestine Wildcat determination and hard work took him from the brink of disaster to the top of the

sports world, which is always something special. Peterson should have a big year in 2013 considering the expectations of Viking fans and himself. Peterson wants to win a Super Bowl, and Minnesota may be in a position to make that happen. The greatest shock of all for this upcoming season will be if Peterson surpasses his 2012 achievements by setting the single season rushing record and winning a Super Bowl in the process. One can only hope, but the Viking and Peterson fans out there sure hope that’s the case.

JA’GARED DAVIS & WILLIE CARTER—FROM CROCKETT TO HOUSTON AND JACKSONVILLE On April 27, two former Crockett Bulldogs signed on to play football with two NFL teams. Both players signed as undrafted free agents, with Carter going to

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the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Davis signing with the Houston Texans. Seeing these two Crockett natives sign with pro football teams is definitely exciting, but what is even more exciting is they both have legitimate shots at securing spots on the team rosters. Davis and Carter played against each other throughout college, as one played at SMU and the other at Tulsa, both Conference USA teams. Now the two pro teams they signed with compete in the same NFL Division, the AFC South, which includes the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars draft needs were specifically on the offensive-line, defensive-line, at quarterback and the corner back position. Regardless, Carter’s impressive balance in strength and speed should help him stand out during training camp. Carter’s ability to play multiple positions on offense will definitely give him an advantage over some of the other rookie players due to the

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fact he has proven success and experience running and catching the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him operate as a multipurpose player on the Jaguars offense and special teams this season. Davis entered the SMU program about the time June Jones took over as head coach, and together the players and the coaching staff turned the program around Davis was added to the Butkus Award watch list heading into the 2012 season after three solid seasons as an impact player on the Mustang defense. Davis had another great year as a senior, finishing the regular season with 71 total tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 2 sacks, 1 fumble returned 34 yards for a touchdown, and 1 blocked kick. Davis was also named First-Team All-Conference USA this season, which makes his third time to receive the honor. The Texans received a quality linebacker in Davis, which should help bolster the already hard-hitting defense.

The Houston CBS affiliate recently pointed out that with training camp starting July 26, the Texans line backing corps still has some holes and question marks. Brian Cushing and Darryl Sharpton are both returning from injuries, which is good news for the Texans defense.  However, the Texans will be thin at inside linebacker if Cushing or Sharpton get hurt or can’t go every down. A weak Cushing and Sharpton would seem like bad news for Texans’ fans, but it’ll be good news for Davis, who is competing against fellow undrafted free agent Evan Frierson of Illinois State. Both Carter and Davis will be tested throughout training camp, and may even get a lot of playing time during the Texans and Jaguars preseason games.

DOMINIQUE WHEELER— CROCKETT, TEXAS TECH, WR After four years of varsity football dominance at Crockett High School, Dom-

inique Wheeler’s ability on the field caught the eye of some of the best programs in college football and for good reason. Wheeler’s speed and athleticism put him at the top of recruiting lists like Rivals, Scout, ESPN and Maxpreps, and helped him earn numerous All-District and All-State honors. Wheeler was also selected SuperPrep All-American, and played in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Wheeler had offers from Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU, Utah, Texas and Texas A&M, but decided to sign with Texas Tech over all of them. The Red Raiders redshirted Wheeler during the 2012 season under former head coach Tommy Tuberville and played on the scout team throughout the year. Now that Tuberville is out and the legendary Kliff Kingsbury is in, Wheeler may step into the spotlight in 2013. Kingsbury will almost certainly execute a Mike Leach-style offense, which

July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 15 -


would utilize wide receivers like Wheeler to the max.

MALCOME KENNEDY— CAYUGA, TEXAS A&M, WR Cayuga High School’s former All-State and District Offensive MVP football player Malcome Kennedy made a big splash at wide-receiver last year for the Texas A&M football team led by Coach Kevin Sumlin and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. While playing for the Wildcats in high school, Malcome led Cayuga to the Class 1A State championship after rushing for 2,356 yards and 24 touchdowns, passing for 1,516 yards and 22 scores and intercepting six passes on defense. Kennedy chose Texas A&M University over offers from TCU, Missouri and Stanford, and is expected to fill the shoes of the Aggies All-American wide receiver Ryan Swope who was selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.

After playing a bit on offense and special teams as a freshman, Kennedy had a big year as a sophomore. The Cayuga standout played in all 13 games and earned starts in three games at wide receiver during the 2012 season. Kennedy finished the year with 285 receiving yards on 26 catches, and averaged 11 yards per catch. Kennedy also scored two touchdowns on the season, the first at Auburn and the game winner at No. 1-ranked Alabama. There is no doubt in my mind that Malcome Kennedy will start in every game this season and play a crucial role in helping the Aggies earn a BCS Bowl bid in 2013.

TRAYLON SHEAD— CAYUGA, SMU, RB After a historic high school football career, Traylon Shead left Cayuga as one of the most highly touted recruits in the country. He signed with University of

Texas after receiving offers from U.T., Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Rice and Texas Tech. Expectations were high for Shead who set Texas high school football records throughout his career, but the former Wildcat never received the chance to shine under Coach Mack Brown and staff. After two years, Shead transferred to Navarro Junior College where he started his college football career anew. At Navarro, Shead rushed for a teamhigh 1,194 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2012, earned honorable-mention NJCAA All-America honors and led Navarro to a final ranking of No. 4 nationally with a 10-2 record. Now Shead is starting from scratch once again and is finally back to the Division I level. The Mustangs lost veteran running back Zach Line to the NFL, but SMU Head Coach June Jones expects Shead to help fill Line’s shoes. “With Zach Line graduating, running back will be a position of need in 2013,

and Traylon should help fill that void,” said Jones in December of 2012. “He was a great high school player and had a great year at Navarro as well. We look forward to having him with us for our Big East schedule this fall.” Shead proved in the past that he can excel when given the opportunity, so keep your eyes peeled for him in 2013 as the SMU Mustangs move into their new football conference.

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STORIES AND SNIPPETS FROM THE LAST 2 WEEKS ON

WWW.COUNTYLIFEONLINE.COM

THE ONLY DAILY NEWS IN DEEP EAST TEXAS ELKHART’S WILSON RECEIVES OFFER FROM TEXAS STATE

WESTWOOD TO HOST ANNUAL VOLLEYBALL CAMP

TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO ARREST OF BURGLARY SUSPECT

AN EASTHAM PRISON GUARD HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR BRIBERY

READER COMMENTS FROM COUNTYLIFEONLINE.COM RE: LOUSIANNA KIDNAPPER AND ABDUCTED CHILD MAY BE IN EAST TEXAS After the last fiasco with a wanted suspect, all she has to do is barricade herself for, oh say, 8 or 9 hours and let thunder and lightning cancel the search from there and she’s home free! — Jack Soffalot

A traffic stop by the Crockett Police Department has led to the arrest of a man wanted by both the PD and the Houston County Sheriff’s Department. According to a press release, on Wed., July 17, 2013, officers with the Crockett Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a white Mercury Mountaineer for a traffic violation. The driver was identified as ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

LATEXO FFA AT STATE CONVENTION

Westwood volleyball coaches and instructors will hold the Lady Panthers’ annual summer volleyball camp beginning Monday, July 29. The camp will last until August 1, and will be held at the Westwood High School Gymnasium. Lady Panthers Head Coach Janae Evans and Assistant Coaches Jenna Jenkins and Jordan Pope will be in charge of the camp throughout the week, while varsity ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

RE: TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO ARREST OF BURGLARY SUSPECT A female guard at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Eastham Unit in Lovelady has been arrested on the charges of Bribery after she allegedly smuggled drugs into the prison unit. According to a probable cause affidavit, Ramonica Whitfiled was found to be in the possession of a substance believed to be marijuana during a routine shake down that occurred ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

PALESTINE MAN ARRESTED, ANOTHER HOSPITALIZED AFTER SHOOTING

LATEXO SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSSES NEW FACILITIES

This P.O.S. broke into my sisters house. Great Job Crockett PD. Thank goodness, at least one Law Enforcement Agency in this County does their job. It’s a shame while the rest of us are out working for a living, scum like this shows up in broad daylight and steals your belongings. One down, Many more to go. — citizen

RE: CROCKETT CITY COUNCIL HEARS ISSUE WITH NEW AMPHITHEATER I must admit I am surprised that these pastors were so selfish to put their function over another that had been planned and publicly advertised for months. Is it not written ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’? Is it not written ‘do unto others’? Is it not written ‘Love one another as I have loved you’? —Concerned

The Texas FFA State Convention was held in Dallas, Texas. Latexo FFA headed to Dallas for the week of July 8–12. The students were able to go to the sessions throughout the week that dealt with making important changes within the FFA organization as well as be voting delegates. There was also a variety of events that the students could ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

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One Palestine man has been hospitalized and another arrested after a shooting incident that occurred on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. According to a press release, the Palestine Police Department responded to the Palestine Regional Medical Center at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving information that a man had been brought in with a gunshot wound to the chest. The ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

After calling the Latexo ISD regular monthly school board meeting to order on Monday night, Board President Mike Furrh suggested that the board go right into discussions with Larry Lasiter of Goodwin-Lasiter on the district’s new facility plans. Lasiter presented the board with new and improved facility proposals based on the discussion he had with the board during his last ... Full story at www.CountyLifeOnline.com

RE: DETAILS EMERGE IN CROCKETT SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE Shocking! Irresponsible! Immature! I really don’t want to know what goes on inside the mind of this kind of predator. — Andrew Reader comments in no way reflect the views and/or opinions of County Life publications, LandMarcMultimedia, its employees, owners, advertisers or subsidiaries.

July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 17 -


LOOKING GOOD WHEN FEELING BAD

S

OME DAYS YOU eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you. When the bears in life take a big bite out of your heart or your hiney, that’s when it’s most important to take the best care of yourself. Whether it’s a death, break up or a lost job, if an event puts you mentally and emotionally into a tailspin, it’s then when you must take a deep breath, take a look around you, and figure out how to go forward for the best possible result. We all handle life’s pain in different ways. I personally discovered that my best defense against life’s pain was to go on a strong offensive.

1. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol While getting wasted and escaping the problems by going into a stupor might sound like the best, immediate fix, this is the LAST thing you want to do when you feel like dying. Drinking and most drugs are depressants. So often, after the initial relaxation hits you, a dark and horrible funk soon follows. I discovered several years ago that when I’m sad and I drink, I feel about 10 million times worse within the first two hours of inebriation. The depressant effect of the booze seems to intensify my existing depression to an intolerable level. This causes hours of pain and crying and horribleness until I finally cry myself to sleep feeling exhausted, dehydrated and gross. Then I wake up the next morning with a horrible headache from the crying and the drinking, bloated and starving for greasy food. Now I’m on my way to Whataburger with a whatasized hangover searching for a whatasized No. 1 meal. None of that stuff makes you feel good when you are happy. When you’re depressed, it just makes everything so much worse.

BY LAURA M. LAND 2. Watch What You Eat When depressed, it’s so easy to drown you problems in soda, ice cream, cake, booze. Any kind of fatty, unhealthful comfort food is the wounded’s knee-jerk remedy. Don’t do it! Doing this only leads to more pain for several reasons. First, you’ll gain weight and bloat, which will then make your clothes tight. It makes your face puffy, and odds are it’s already puffy from hours of crying. Doing that will only exacerbate the troubles you have while creating new ones. Second, with diet, we really are what we eat. While a burger does provide significant nutritional value and eating them in moderation is fine, when you’re sad, your body needs anything and everything that will make it operate on an optimum level. Sugars and starches may provide you with a quick boost, but when the sugar crash hits, you’ll likely find yourself lower than you were before and sobbing in a ball on the floor. When you eat vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, they always make you feel better and look better. Since you’re depressed, now’s the time to really focus on feeling good and the right diet will truly help your cause. Not only will it help boost your mood, it’ll help maintain or even lose any extra weight the hurt and stress might put on you.

3. Drink Water I don’t know why, but I find when I’m really upset and depressed, nothing soothes me like an ice cold glass of refreshing water. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, but I can feel so horrible and the water will always cool me off and help me relax. Perhaps it slows my rapid heart rate and shallow breathing stress causes. Regardless of why it works, it works, and water is healthful.

- 18 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

Besides, if you’ve cried hours of tears, you might be on the verge of dehydration. You’re body is over 50 percent water, so giving it a H20 is never a bad idea.

4. Exercise Whatever you think about exercise— whether you love the gym or hate walking through a parking lot—exercise is the very best anti-depressant option. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Not only that, it helps clear your mind of all the junk floating around in it for at least the time you’re in the gym, and that gives you a break from the constant obsessive thoughts that likely bombard you. If you doubt me, give it a try. I guarantee that within 10 minutes of starting your workout, your mind will be totally clear of whatever ails you. If killing yourself at the gym isn’t your cup of tea and you just don’t want to go, put on some comfortable clothes and take a walk. I know it’s hot, but going in the morning, evening or both will make it tolerable. Swimming is another good summer activity. No pool and it’s too hot to go outside? Do a video or pushups or try some different stretches. Use your body and feel how it reacts when you use it. Move some furniture. I guarantee if you use your body, it’ll give you a clear and peaceful mind and disposition.

5. Turn to a Higher Power This is another one of my favorite ways to deal with pain—I give it away. As a Christian, when I feel overwhelmed, I just let it go and give it to God. If you aren’t a Christian, you can still give your grief and stress over to God, Allah, a Hindu god, the sky, whatever. Meditating is a wonderful practice I employ regularly as well. I love sitting still and focusing on

my breath and thinking about absolutely nothing. In meditating through pain and strife, I often visualize holding my pain in my hands and giving it over to God. It’s amazing how much weight that will lift from your head, heart, and soul. Life is hard and I can’t imagine going through it alone. I am thankful I always have God with me to hold me up when I can’t stand.

6. Look Your Absolute Best You may wear jeans and tees on a regular basis. Maybe combing your hair isn’t exactly your cup of tea. Regardless, now is when you take extra time and care to make yourself look your absolute best every time you walk out the door. Even if you feel like wearing dirty sweatpants and shuffling along while stooped over and starring at your feet, depression isn’t the time or place for any of that. Wear an evening gown or suit every day. The point is, even if you feel over dressed, you’ll start walking taller and feeling better when you look good. People will want to talk to you, which is extremely important when you’re sad and feeling lonely. Fix your hair. Wear your makeup and stand up straight. Life is full of pain and joy. We have highs and lows as we make this journey. While we can let ourselves slide when we feel okay, when we’re feeling bad it’s imperative you treat yourself well. If a friend comes to you in a depression, you support that friend and help them to feel better. You must to be your own best friend because no one can make you do these things but yourself. You can’t control what happens in life, but you can control your reactions to it and how you let it affect you. Keep in mind that whatever it is, it too shall pass. Follow these steps and before you know it, you’ll feel better than ever.

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ROTISSERIE CHICKEN: A VERSATILE BIRD BY NANCY M. LAND

I

GENERALLY DO not like using prepared foods but sometimes you can use a prepared food to make a quick supper that has a surprising amount of flavor and originality. Rotisserie chicken is one of those prepared foods and it has made it to Crockett! For a quick and inexpensive dinner for two or even three, these tender chickens keep you out of the kitchen on a hot summer evening. Just buy them and eat them. They are best right off the rotisserie. Walmart’s deli section has them, made fresh every day, and Brookshire’s has them as well. The rotisserie chicken is good by itself the day you buy it, serve it with homemade mashed potatoes and green beans, but do not try reheating it. Somehow it turns to cardboard. You can use the leftover chicken in a number of ways, however, that are pretty darn tasty. Here are a few ways I have found to use leftover rotisserie chicken that may make you buy two—one for now and one for later!

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 19 -


Tortilla Wraps 1 c

2 c 8

1 c 8 ½ c 1 1

rotisserie chicken meat, removed from the one and shredded red or green salsa soft flour tortillas (I prefer buying the uncooked flour tortillas in the dairy section of Walmart or HEB. These take a minute or two to cook on a hot griddle and are so much better than the precooked ones you buy in stacks in plastic bags in the bread aisle.) (4 oz) grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese sprigs fresh cilantro (opt) sour cream avocado, chopped lime, quartered

Heat the salsa in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and heat until warmed through. Fill the tortillas with the chicken and top with cheese and cilantro (if desired). Serve with the sour cream, avocado, and lime wedges on the side.

Chicken Empanadas

1 T 1 1 T 1 c 1 c 1 c

3 c ½ t ½ t 2

unsalted butter yellow onion, diced flour chicken broth frozen peas carrots, peeled, diced, and lightly steamed rotisserie chicken meat, shredded salt black pepper refrigerated 9-inch piecrusts or, if you prefer a flakier pastry, use puff pastry sheets (defrost as directed)

Heat oven to 400° F. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the broth. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots, chicken, and ¼ t each salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Cut each piecrust in half. Spoon the chicken mixture over one side of each

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half-circle, leaving a ½-inch border. Using a pastry brush, wet the border with water. Fold the crust over the chicken. Press firmly to seal. Make three 1-inch slits in the top of each. Place the empanadas on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake until golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve hot.

Chicken Chilaquiles 1 ½ c ½ c 10 ¼ c 2 c 1 c 1 c

1

green tomatillo salsa sour cream flour tortillas olive oil shredded deli rotisserie chicken shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese (8 oz) additional green tomatillo salsa perfectly ripe avocado, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In medi-

um bowl, mix 1½ c salsa and the sour cream. On the top of the stove, sauté in olive oil the flour tortillas until golden brown and crispy. I actually like to do this on a griddle. Remove to a cutting board and slice the tortilla into strips about ¼ inch wide. Place half the crispy strips into the casserole dish. Top with shredded chicken and half of the salsa mixture. Top with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips, salsa mixture, and cheese. Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with additional tomatillo salsa that you have mixed with a chopped avocado. Although traditionally served for breakfast made with scrambled eggs instead of chicken, chilaquiles done this way make a delicious lunch or dinner.

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 21 -


Chicken Tetrazzini 3 oz 2 t 1 3 c

finely chopped prosciutto vegetable oil pkg (7 oz) vermicelli cooked chicken, chopped (leftover Rotisserie chicken is perfect) 1 c (4 oz) shredded Parmesan cheese 3 c Alfredo sauce (make your own or buy the kind in a jar) 1 c sliced mushrooms ½ c chicken broth ¼ c dry white wine ¼ t freshly ground pepper 1 c frozen baby English peas, thawed ½ c slivered almonds Sauté prosciutto in hot vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Be careful to cook just until done. Do not overcook! Combine chicken, ½ c Parmesan cheese, and next 5 ingredients; stir in

prosciutto, pasta, and peas. Spoon mixture into 6 lightly greased 8 oz. ramekins or a lightly greased 11 by 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining ½ c Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° F for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Serve while hot with some crusty garlic bread and a green salad with lemon and olive oil dressing. If you make these in the individual dishes, you can freeze any you do not use and have a wonderful meal anytime you don’t have time to cook.

1

can diced tomatoes (28 oz), drained 1 dried ancho chili, thinly sliced, or ¼ t crushed red pepper 2 c shredded rotisserie chicken meat 1 can hominy (15 oz), rinsed 1 lime, cut into wedges ½ c fresh cilantro leaves 1 avocado, pealed and cut into chunks (squeeze some lime juice over the avocado to keep it from turning brown)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and ¼ t each salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, and chili and bring to a boil. Stir in the chicken and hominy and simmer until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the posole with the lime wedges and cilantro leaves. Top with chunks of avocado.

Chicken Posole Jim and I have become addicted to this wonderful soup that is usually served only on weekends in the authentic Mexican restaurants that line Milpas Street in Santa Barbara. It can be made ahead and keeps in the refrigerator for 3 or even 4 days. Our soup never lasts that long. 1 T 1 1

olive oil onion, chopped salt and black pepper to taste container chicken broth (32 oz)

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 23 -


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- 24 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

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BEHIND ENEMY LINES: FRANK HALL—P.O.W. OF THE FORGOTTEN WAR BY PENNYLYNN WEBB

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OR THE UNITED States, the Korean War was initially described by President Harry S. Truman as a “police action” conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. Today it’s often referred to as “The Forgotten War” because of its lack of recognition received both during and after the war. The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) launched a surprise attack on South Korea and captured Seoul, the southern capital. The war stemmed from North Korean president Kim II Song’s desire to unify the peninsula under communism. Prior to World War II, the peninsula operated as one country. The United Nations decided to draw a line between the 38th parallel to avoid conflict

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 25 -


between the United States and the Soviets. The Soviets occupied the north side and U.S. troops occupied the south side. Over time, the differences between the country’s governments and ways of life changed drastically. South Korea was aided by U.N. and U.S. troops. Under the direction of General Douglas McArthur, the U.N. and U.S. troops pushed the DPRK troops to the border between Manchuria and North Korea. At that point, North Korea turned to the People’s Republic of China for help. With the use of thousands of foot soldiers, the Chinese pushed the U.N. and U.S. troops back to the 38th parallel. The result was a three-year war in the peninsula that ended with an armistice. The Korean War ended on July 27, 1953. However, for some prisoners of war like Airman Frank Hall, returning home remained only a dream. Hall was born in Crockett in 1933 and lived in the area until he was 9 years old. Hall’s father was a farmer until 1942 when the family moved to Houston because his father did not

want to be drafted. In an effort to avoid the draft, Hall’s father and uncles went to work for defense industries building tanks during World War II. The family moved to Pasadena in 1949, where Hall met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Phyllis. Mrs. Hall’s family had moved to Pasadena from Ohio for her father to work for Champion Papers. Hall joined the Air Force after he graduated in 1951. He attended basic training in Denver then trained in San Antonio before being transferred to an 11-man crew in Okinawa. It was just before Hall went overseas, in the summer of 1952 that he proposed to Phyllis who accepted his ring and agreed to wait for him. Hall was a gunner on a B-29 that flew over Korea dropping bombs. “There were two 11-man crews that flew B-25s in WWII that flew over Germany that were shot down on their 13th mission, and they served as POWs for four years. We sweated out our 13th mission because of that.” Mission 13 went off without

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a hitch, but the 14th bombing mission proved unfortunate. According to Hall, the 11-man crew had a 12th man flying with them that fateful night in November of 1952. Hall said the extra airman flew the mission in order to avoid paying his income tax that month. The crew flew from Okinawa to North Korea when it was hit by a missile from a MiG-15. “Our airplane exploded and completely split into pieces at 26,000 feet. The three of us that got out were in the tail section. We basically just fell out,” he said. Hall was deaf from the explosion and decompression from the altitude and was badly cut on the forehead. The blood ran down into his eyes and froze, blinding him as he tumbled through the sky. “I had no idea if I was still in the plane or not. I wasn’t sure if I should pull my parachute or not.” Hall did finally pull the parachute and landed safely in a village below. “I thought I was the only one who survived. None of us who survived knew that anyone else had fallen out with us. We each thought that we were the only

survivor. I was amazed that I did survive. I was captured immediately by North Korean militia at 2 a.m. and turned over to the Chinese. That 12th man whom I never met before, got cut up pretty badly. After we were captured, they sent him to a hospital in China where he spent the rest of his time as a POW there. I never saw him again, but my parents knew his family in Mississippi or Alabama and they got to be good friends.” Hall said he and his crewmates were significantly underdressed. “We had come from a nice warm climate in Hawaii, and North Korea was frozen solid, and it was that way until the next April. We were not dressed for cold weather and truthfully, I don’t know how I survived the cold. I never got frost bite, but one of my disabilities was from being exposed to those extreme temperatures.” Phyllis recalled that Hall’s family received information his plane had gone down and that he was missing in action and presumed dead. Phyllis said that she and Hall’s mother never lost faith he was alive. However, she noted that at some

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point through the experience, she believes his father began to assume Hall was dead. Once taken prisoner, the Chinese took Hall to an interrogation camp and put him in a 4-foot by 4-foot by 5-foot hole. In an effort to gain military information from the prisoners, the Chinese tortured and played extreme mind games on their prisoners. Hall said twice they forced him to dig his own grave and stand at the end as the captors fired blank bullets at him. Hall said soldiers were beaten, starved, put into forced labor, marched to death and some were executed. While they were fed two meals a day, the diet was meager. “They gave us one small scoop of rice and poured a scoop of cabbage soup over it. We got that every day for every meal. There wasn’t really any cabbage in the soup, they kept the cabbage for themselves. We just got a cup of the broth.” He said when they finished eating, the Chinese soldiers served them a scoop of water into the same dish from which they ate. It would be all the water they received for the day. “You couldn’t

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drink any other water than the water they had given you because the water they were giving us had been boiled. Many men who drank unclean water there died from amoebic dysentery. “It was winter while I there. The Chinese had cut a hole in a pond that was frozen over. Each day they would march some of us out to that hole and we would fill buckets of water and bring them back to camp. They would then boil the water for everyone to drink and use. They had to boil the water. That water was getting run off from fields that were being fertilized with the waste that was coming from the outhouses in our camp.” As far as his Chinese captures knew, Hall never left his “hole” except for interrogation or menial labor. But Hall had a secret. “I was a smoker back then. They would give us pieces of paper to write information on to pass to the guards, but I would save mine. I would sneak out of my hole at night and take the bark off of a tree nearby. I would dry it out during the day and then I would roll it up in those pieces of paper. There was a house not far from where we were be-

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July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 27 -


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ing held. They had pipes that ran through their house that provided heat. I would light my homemade cigarettes on those pipes and have me a smoke. If they had caught me, they would have killed me. But I lived everyday thinking it would be my last anyway.” After six weeks in the interrogation camp, Hall arrived at a POW camp in North Korea where conditions improved just a little. The second camp was in a village the military captured. There he lived in a house and slept on a grass mat on the floor in a camp with approximately 70 other POWs. “There they gave us clean socks, a blanket and canvas shoes.” In this camp, Hall reunited with the other gunner he had flown with who survived the crash. The Koreans forced Hall and his fellow prisoners from across the globe to perform hard labor daily, including chopping firewood and retrieving water and supplies for the camp. Hall said he never knew the Korean language before captured, but several interrogators in the camps spoke English.

In fact, one interrogator received an education at Rice University in Houston. “He knew Houston better than I did. He also knew personal things about me. How he knew that, I don’t know, but evidently they got information from the plane that went down and then their spies were able to find out more because they knew me. They didn’t know which one I was, but they knew information about me.” Hall said that throughout his time as a POW, the Chinese and North Koreans tried to make all of the POWs embrace communism through a communist indoctrination program. “There were officers there that were trained to manipulate your mind to believe in communism. Part of their strategy was to convince you that communism was the right way. They would work on you, on mind twisting. Some of the guys, not many, but some of the POWs in the camps became believers in communism. They were never repatriated. Of course they couldn’t convince me. I was a brilliant 18-year-old. I thought I knew everything.”

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back9retirement.com - 28 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

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Hall reported that during the monsoon season, the POWs marched out of camp in August of 1953, placed on rail cars, and taken to a tent camp for repatriation. “We had heard that the war was over, but none of us knew for sure. There they would exchange a certain number of prisoners per day with other governments. On Aug. 31, I was turned over to the American force. I was marched through the repatriation area into a line going toward this building. They made us strip off our clothes, which they tore up and put into a bon fire. They had us walk through the showers. They soaked us down good, scrubbed us down good. Out of the showers they sprayed us down with DDT powder to kill all the lice. Then we were issued new uniforms and given cigars and ice cream. We really celebrated.” Hall said they returned to the United States on a ship that sailed from Korea to San Francisco. The men received medical treatment during that 17-day trip. When he arrived in San Francis-

co, he was flown to Ellington Air Base in Houston where he met his parents, Phyllis and his siblings. Hall recalls the first thing he wanted to eat once he made it home—“Breakfast! Eggs, bacon and sausage. I’m still big on breakfast today. I never dreamed about steaks or apple pie, just breakfast.” Hall thanked God for giving him the strength to survive the experience. “I talked to him all day, everyday.” Hall said that he also had imaginary conversations with loved ones and did mental exercises to keep him mentally strong. When Hall returned to Texas, he couldn’t wait to buy a car. He and his father visited every dealership in the area, but his dad continually talked him out of buying anything. On the day a parade was given in Hall’s honor, he was presented with a new Buick, the exact model he wanted. Apparently his father knew about the surprise. Hall and Phyllis married not long after his return and the couple was blessed with four daughters and two

sons. Not long after his return from Korea, Hall retired from the military and went to college. Several careers later he enjoys his days living on a ranch in Anderson County. The couple will celebrate their 60 th wedding anniversary in October. Although he did not receive a Purple Heart directly after the war, one of his daughters worked diligently to see that Hall was recognized with the honor, which he received recently. Almost 5 million people died in the Korean War, including 40,000 Americans. There were over 100,000 wounded American GIs. The Korean War didn’t receive much media attention in the United States. The most widely recognized representation of the war in pop cultures is the television series M*A*S*H about a field hospital in South Korea. The show ran from1972–1983, with its final episode the most-watched in television history to-date.

In an effort to spotlight Korean War Veterans, Dogwood Trails Assisted Living in Palestine will be hosting a special ceremony on Friday, July 26, 2013, at 11 a.m. This year’s event will include an honoring ceremony led by military organizations, a fish fry, special singing with Sandra Partin and a 5-minute film tribute with Kip Sutherland from Veterans Long Time Care Solutions. Korean War Veterans and their spouses are invited to attend. Dogwood Trails Assisted Living is located at 1625 W. Spring St. in Palestine. For more information about this event call Debbie Wesson at Dogwood Trails Assisted Living at 903-373-8639. Information for this article was found at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~jeehan/summary-korewar.html; wikipedia.com; and www.history.com/topics/ korean-war.

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GYMNASTICS, CHEERLEADING, MARTIAL ARTS AND ADULT FITNESS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY! July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 29 -


CANEY CREEK BECOMES HOUSTON COUNTY’S FIRST WINERY BY MATTHEW O. GAYLE

A

FTER YEARS OF hard work, Bill Gayle’s dream is finally becoming a reality. The Gayle family recently announced the grand opening of Caney Creek Winery located just outside the Grapeland city limits. It’s officially the first winery in Houston County, the oldest county in Texas. “It is hard to believe we have come this far,” co-owner Bill Gayle said. “We’ve worked very hard to get here, and we are proud of the grapes and wine that we have produced. Seeing all of this come together means a lot to the family.” Caney Creek Winery is located on the Gayle family’s 250-acre ranch one mile past the Grapeland city limits sign on Old Crockett Road. The house is on the right as you travel from Grapeland and three large barns dot the horizon. Behind those barns sits a six-acre vineyard the Gayles developed and manage going on eight years. “The vineyard looks great now, but it wasn’t easy,” Gayle said. “We had to overcome a lot of obstacles along the way and learned a lot in the process.” Gayle, a UPS pilot, explained his love of wine developed from his exposer to wine culture during his travels. “Back in 1995, I flew corporate and visited Napa Valley and different areas around the country,” Gayle said. “During that time, I drank wines and tasted wines, but I was never really a big wine drinker. However,

the culture began to grow on me, and I always found it interesting how people interacted when they drank wine. It became evident to me that wine culture in the United States was growing, so I decided that if I could ever put a vineyard in then I would.” Gayle, a Grapeland native, dreamed of starting a vineyard years before he returned to his hometown. “I had dreams of doing different things in the future like raising cattle, building a lake, and all kinds of other things,” Gayle said. “One of them was a vineyard, so after inheriting and purchasing some property, I did just that.” Gayle purchased the Gore farm in 2004, which included 103 acres, three large barns, and a house with a guesthouse. Gayle also inherited 75 acres of the 520-acre Flaying G Ranch owned by his parents Col. Charles A. and Mary Lee Gayle. In 2006, Gayle purchased another 75 acres adjacent to Caney Creek’s property from his sister Nancy. The compilation of all this acreage gave the Gayles more than enough room to begin planting the vineyard, and in 2006, they began putting in their first rows. “I decided to put that vineyard in not knowing a dang thing about vineyards,” Gayle said with a laugh. “I had learned a few things and read some stuff, but we really didn’t know anything about it. One of the first problems was that we didn’t put the trellises out, and went ahead and

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In 2013, Caney Creek’s Lenoir Por’ Tejas won a Bronze Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, and a Silver in 2012 at the Lone Star International Wine Competition. Caney Creek’s Blanc du Bois Semi-sweet also received a Silver at the Lone Star International in 2012.

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planted the plants. We didn’t even install a water system, so we lost a lot of plants. We didn’t know anything, and the vineyard would be gorgeous if we had put it in the right way from the start.” The Gayles lost about 40 percent of the vineyard the first year due to frost and mistakes. “By the second or third year, we had some trellises in, but there were sunflowers and weeds everywhere,” Gayle explained. “We would put an acre in one year, and then an acre or two the next. We just built what we could, when we could afford it.” “There were plants growing everywhere in the two acres in the back, and it was honestly the worst thing you had ever seen,” Gayle said. “The front few acres looked great, but the back was full of tall sunflowers and weeds. I mowed the rows, but the flowers were grown up all around the plants, and, believe it or not, they still grew grapes. They grew a lot of grapes, and seemed to grow better that way. It was strange.” Gayle created tools out of 1x4 and 2x4 lumber the family used to lay the sunflowers and weeds down into the rows. Then he would come along and mow them. “It was a mess, and we went through a lot in learning how to do this. After about the third year, we finally had all of the trellises in and had pretty much figured most of it out. By then, the grapes were looking really good, so we finally started selling them. By the fourth year we were selling grapes to a couple of different people, and the next

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year we sold the grapes to some people out of Athens. “Year before last when I was in the hospital, my son Will Gayle worked out a great deal with a doctor from Houston,” Gayle said. “The doctor had just opened a winery, and Will sold our grapes for more money than that type of grape has ever been sold in this state before. The most I had seen was $1,400 per ton, and Will sold them for $2,000 a ton. I was very proud of him. “Last year we finally decided to go into business for ourselves and make wine,” Gayle said. “We got our winery permit in June of last year, but we didn’t have bottles, caps, labels or anything, and we had to harvest in July. That left us with only one month to get organized. But we went ahead and harvested, and were able to make the wines.” Gayle said that around the time that Caney Creek began to really produce a lot of grapes, he felt that if they were going to do this, they needed some credibility. “Will and I attended Grayson College in Denison to get our degrees in Enology and Viticulture,” Gayle said. “We had been making some wines with kits and stuff, and they all turned out good. But we wanted to learn as much as we could.”

EXPANSION & FUTURE PLANS In 2012, Caney Creek produced large quantities of wine for the first time, and

since then, the vineyard has purchased more equipment to increase ease in producing those large amounts. “We had the wine but didn’t have a place to sell it or allow people to taste it, Gayle said. “Gary McKibben the owner of Red Caboose Winery helped us out and gave us some guidance and also provided us with architectural blueprints for our expansion.” The Gayles then decided convert their guesthouse into the tasting room and have spent a lot of time getting it up and running over the last six months. “I told my wife Becky and son Will that they were going to have to open the place up while I was gone, and I think both of them also knew that it was time for us to get this thing open. So while I was on my last trip we opened the doors.” Right now Caney Creek Winery produces four wines: a white port, a red port, a semi-sweet white, and a dry white. It also has two fantastic dessert wines, but doesn’t have enough volume to sell it at the moment. Since opening on July 4, Caney Creek Winery has received a significant amount of business, which is a pretty good start. However, Gayle said the he believes the wines’ popularity will increase as he increases the visibility and notoriety of the product. So far, Caney Creek Winery has been invited to numerous festivals throughout East Texas, and its semi-sweet and dry whites are available for purchase at Brookshire’s FRESH in Tyler. Concerning the winery’s expansion, Gayle said he doesn’t want to “just jump

into it” because he realizes it’ll be a slow process. While the winery converted the guesthouse into the tasting and sales room, it faces the problem of already needing more storage and workspace. “Instead of two tanks I need about 10 tanks and 8 to 10 smaller tanks to put out the amount of wine that we are aiming for.” Gayle added he has been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the wines, though he’s not surprised. “This is an art, and you have to really trust that you did everything right,” he said. “The art of making wine is making a wine that people like, but the science is making the wine correctly. We want to do things right because we want our name, labels, vineyard and winery to have an excellent reputation in every way. I recognize that revenues produce growth, and there will be a point that signals to us that we can continue to grow and expand. We have big plans for the future expansion of our winery, but that is all based on revenue performance as well. Once we have extended revenue figures that will aid in our long-term plans for development, then we’ll be able to make the major changes we have planned, but as we can afford them. Based on what we’ve seen and experienced since we started selling the wine, people really love our wines. So, we have just got to get our name and our product out there, and that’s what we are trying to focus on at the moment.” Gayle said that as soon as he can, he will expand the winery, which will provide a lot more space to make wine. But

July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 31 -


these expansions of the winery will be done in phases. “One phase will be moving our tasting room from our current building of 300 square feet to a tasting room that is at least 1,500 square feet,” Gayle said. “Then a winery behind that, which would include around 3,000 square feet of space for us to work in for a while. If we continued to grow after that, then then we’ll move on to the next phase.” That phase would include a redesigning and renovation of the Gayles’ largest 35x96-foot barn. That’s a lot of space, but it also includes 20-foot eves. “It is a high building and perfect for the winery,” Gayle said. “That would allow me to put our 10-foot tall tanks throughout the building. We’ll close it in, and it won’t look anything like it does now.” Telephone poles spaced 12-feet apart surround the three barns. Structurally Gayle said he considers himself lucky. “We are planning on joining the two buildings together, and we’ll eventually attach the third barn to the structure. There is a lot of design in the mechanical working of those buildings, so it’s going to be a large and extensive project.” That additional space will allow Caney Creek to expand the production from 500 to 1,000 cases to over 3,000 cases. “Once we reach that point, we are going to start excavation from beneath barn number two and begin the construction of our wine cellars,” Gayle said. “That depends on a lot and will take a lot of work, but those are the plans.” Beyond those improvements, Gayle also plans to build an Italian-styled arched ceiling inside the building, a new tasting room to make way for a commercial tasting and sales room, a laboratory, an automated bottling block, a distribu-

tion dock for loading and unloading, and much more. “Phase three will include the creation of an events tasting room with a scenic view from the third barn, which will include an office, kitchen, banquet hall, and multi-tiered patio that will be directed toward the lake that’s also planned for future creation. “This space will be an events area where we can host couples, families, and groups on special occasions,” Gayle explained. “We would like for the patio and walkway to move down the hill toward what will be the lake, and we’re planning on building a stage on the edge of the lake for music and entertainment. The natural geography of this space will create a type of amphitheater setting, and we hope it will bring in a lot of people and events. Weddings in the banquet room and vineyard are also in Caney Creek Winery’s extended plans.” Once all of the phases are completed, the winery and events area will include about 14,000 square feet. Gayle also added that he hopes to add another 50 acres of vineyard to the property as Caney Creek Winery expands. “I am 55 years old, I want to do this right, but I would also like to accomplish as much of my plans as I can as soon as I can,” Gayle said. “I would prefer to not be 80 years old by the time this is all completed. In five years, I would like to have Will running this place, have at least five full-time staff members, vineyard workers, and be making major strides in marketing and growth. “The thought of opening a winery was way beyond anything thing we could have considered when we originally started, “Gayle said. “If I went back to the begin-

- 32 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

ning and compared then to today, it would seem like we have a long way to go. We have been developing this vineyard for years, and we really haven’t been making any money. Now we are doing pretty well, making money, but we have to start paying someone with wine knowledge to get in here to work the tasting room.” “I never thought that it would get to this point, but it’s a progression,” Gayle said. “I flew with a guy years ago who buys and sells businesses, and he said something to me that relates very well to this experience: if you want something, you must be willing to take a chance.” Gayle said it’s daunting to get started in the field, particularly when you visit big vineyards with beautiful wineries that cost several million dollars. “But you have to overcome that, and pursue the knowledge needed to make that become your reality,” Gayle said. “The other thing is that you cannot let money scare you, and you have to think of it as a business venture. “Life is too short not to pursue your dreams,” Gayle said. “One day we have a guestroom, the next day it’s a tasting room. One day it’s just our family out here and the next day people are showing up to visit, enjoy, and buy wine.” “Ideally we need 150 to 500 acres of grapes in this area,” Gayle commented. “There is no reason that there can’t be more wineries and vineyards here in Grapeland and that we couldn’t start our own wine trail right here. That would be huge would bring an enormous amount of tourism to the area.” The very name Grapeland offers a major marketing tool for a grape and wine industry in the area, and the expansion of this industry would provide numerous jobs. Besides manual labor and

wait staff, wineries and vineyard would provide specialized jobs like coopers, negociants, oneologists, sommeliers, and viticulturists. All of these professions play a crucial role in the areas with large grape and wine production, and would also increase the value of properties and land throughout the area and county. “Our area is ripe for the expansion and development of this industry,” Gayle added. Gayle explained that Becky, William, and his two daughters Kaycee and Sydney built the vineyard from the ground up. “There are 900 posts in that vineyard, and Kaycee and Sydney dug and put in most of them. I don’t know if it was meant to be, but as we worked on this vineyard, the vineyard worked on us. It really helped the whole family. There is a deep connection between my family and this vineyard, and I am proud that my children are interested, involved, and will take it over one day.” “It is so hard to grow and produce beautiful grapes for wine, and for that to happen in Grapeland, Texas, is exciting for us all,” Gayle said. “What I pray is that everyone in the Grapeland area is proud that we are growing grapes here and that the name Grapeland can be associated with vineyards and Houston County’s first winery. When people buy our wines they know that the Grapes were grown in Grapeland and are unique because of that.” Caney Creek Winery tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 936687-2455 for additional information, and like the winery’s Facebook page to view pictures of the vineyard and winery and receive updates on tastings and progress.

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CALENDAR of EVENTS CALENDAR WED 7/24

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 7 Mele Kalikimaka, A Hawaiian Christmas for Children  O’Sweet Pea (105 W Oak St, Palestine), Enjoy Hula Hoop Lessons, Shopping & Snacks for Children  10:00 am–5:00 pm. Story Time with Santa  Blaser’s Books (211 W Oak Street, Palestine)   10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Sabor a Pasion  Live Music in the vineyard with acoustic guitarist, Alex Graser. Enjoy the sounds of sunset with cheese & charcuterie platters and your favorite wine; $15 per person, BYOB. Call 903-7299500.  6:00–8:30 pm. Big Shot Bingo with Donna Kaspar  Whitehall Nursing Center, Crockett  2:00–3:00 pm.

OF EVENTS

Holiday Shopping on Palestine Main Street  Downtown, Old Town and the Courthouse Square offer historic Courthouse Square offer historic architecture, shopping, antiques, restaurants and more.  10:00 am–5:00 pm.

Annie, The Musical  The Texas Theatre (213 West Crawford); For tickets call 903-723-8383.  7:30 pm.

Piney Woods Steam Excursion  The Texas State Railroad (789 Park Road 70); For tickets contact the Texas State Railroad or call 877-726-7245.  11:00 am.

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 11

Women Who Wine for Holiday Food & Wine  Red Fire Grille (400 N. Queen St., Palestine); Reservations required; call 903-723-2404.  11:30 am Storefront on West Oak (Downtown)  12:00–6:00 pm. Granny Time  Granny Muffin Wines (301 W. Oak St., Palestine); Join Granny Muffin for Happy Hour at Granny Muffin Wines.  5:00–7:00 pm.

SUN 7/28

Piney Woods Steam Excursion  The Texas State Railroad (789 Park Road 70); For tickets contact the Texas State Railroad or call 877-726-7245. 11:00 am.

Storefront on West Oak (Downtown)  12:00–4:00 pm. Annie, The Musical  The Texas Theatre (213 West Crawford); For tickets call 903-723-8383.  2:00 pm.

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 8

Annie, The Musical  The Texas Theatre (213 West Crawford); For tickets call 903-723-8383.  7:30 pm.

Join Santa for His Summer Daycation  Splash Park (at Reagan Park corner of Crockett Road & W. Park Ave.); Join Santa for his summer daycation. Cool off at Splash Park while you enjoy Christmas music, food vendors, & photo opportunities with Summer Santa.  4:00–6:00 pm.

Sew What!  Christmas in July; Come make a “Dear Santa” door banner! Finished size is 26″x46″; Class is $50.00 and includes all supplies and material (619 West Oak, Palestine);  For reservations call 903-729-2889.  9:00 am–12:00 pm.

SAT 7/27

MON 7/29

THU 7/25

Trim the Tree at the Palestine Mall  Palestine Mall (2000 Texas 256 Loop, Palestine).  12:00 pm. Sabor a Pasion  Chef Simon Webster & Tyler Morning Telegraph Food Editor, Christine Gardner transport you from East Texas to Tuscany with authentic Italian recipes and wines. Well-known for his Tuscan dinners, Chef Simon has been pleasing palettes with his handmade Italian delicacies for many years. Christine also studied in Sorrento, Italy and brings a wide variety of Southern Italian dishes to the table. Learn how easy it is to cook authentic Italian and enjoy an array of dishes with paring suggestions featuring amazing Italian wines. Reservations required; $50 per person, advance payment required; For reservations call 903-729-9500.  6:30 pm. Community Cooling Station  Winfield Nursing Center (1108 E Loop 304) will serve cooling refreshments; 936-544-0150.  2:00–3:00 pm.

FRI 7/26

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 9

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Logan Strong  Sweet Dreams Winery (2549 ACR 441, Palestine); Live music.  10:00 am–5:00 pm.

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 10

12 Days of Christmas in July—Day 12

Holiday Shopping on Palestine Main Street  Downtown, Old Town and the Courthouse Square offer historic Courthouse Square offer historic architecture, shopping, antiques, restaurants and more.  10:00 am–5:00 pm.

Holiday Traditions for 2013  Kickoff at Courthouse Square (500 N. Church St., Palestine); Join the celebration as we kick off our Holiday Schedule & Theme for 2013. Activities include: Guess the Ornament Game.  10:00 am.

Storefront on West Oak (Downtown)  10:00–6:00 pm. Piney Woods Steam Excursion  The Texas State Railroad (789 Park Road 70); For tickets contact the Texas State Railroad or call 877-726-7245.  11:00 am. Withrow Cooley & Friends  Sweet Dreams Winery (2549 ACR 441, Palestine); Live music. 11:00 am–8:00 pm.

Harvest Feast & Grape Stomp  Sabor a Pasion (110 CR 406, Palestine); Activities Include: Grape Stomp & Footprint T-shirts, “I Love Lucy” Grape Stomp Look a Like Contest, Live Music, Pavlova Raffle, Dedication Ceremony and Food & Wine Vendors. Advance tickets $20, Day of Event $25. Ticket price includes admission to event and Sabor a Pasion tote bag. Grape Stomp t-shirt, food & beverages sold separately. Bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs. A portion of the proceeds raised by the Grape Stomp event will benefit the Montabla & Elmwood Volunteer Fire Departments.  3:00–10:00 pm.

TUE 7/30

Community Cooling Station  Whitehall Nursing Center (1116 E Loop 304, Crockett) will serve cooling refreshments; 936-544-2163.  2:00–3:00 pm.

FRI–SUN 8/2–8/4

Annie, The Musical  The Texas Theatre (213 West Crawford); For tickets call 903-723-8383.  Fri & Sat, 7:30–8:30 pm; Sun, 2:00–3:00 pm.

SAT 8/3

Classic Movies in the Park  Reagan Park, Palestine; Shadow of the Thin Man (1941); Bring your lawn chairs and blankets.  7:00–9:00 pm.

July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 33 -


WED–THU 7/24–7/25

Latexo ISD Surplus Sale  Latexo ISD Bus Barn, 544-5664  8:00 am–4:00 pm.

Crockett Lions Club Meeting  Rosemary’s Hilltop Kitchen, Crockett  12:00–1:00 pm. Dig Into Reading  Crockett Public Library 2:00–

CRCIL Ladies Exercise Class  Crockett Resource Center (CRCIL)  3:00 pm.

4:00 pm.

Vacation Bible School  First Baptist Church, Crockett, 4 years–5th grades; 544-3420  5:00–7:30 pm.

5:30 pm.

WED 7/24

Crockett Football Camp  Crockett High School Stadium; $25; 3rd grade through incoming Freshmen are invited to attend  9:00–11:00 am. Cancer Support Group of Houston County  Crockett Resource Center, Crockett  12:00–1:00 pm.

THU 7/25

Passport to Summer—Word Games  Grapeland Public Library  11:00 am–1:00 pm. Story Hour  Crockett Public Library  2:00–3:00 pm.

FRI–SUN 7/26–7/28

1st Annual Co-Ed Softball Tournament  Auxiliary Field on Stadium St., Trinity; $100 registration fee; for information call Donald Givens at 936-594-2505 or Stephen Jones at 936-594-2506.  all day.

FRI 7/26

Passport to Summer—Puzzles and Games  Grapeland Public Library  10:00–11:30 am.

SAT 7/27

Huntsville Farmer’s Market  Downtown Huntsville  8:00 am–12:00 pm.

MON–THU 7/29–8/1

CRCIL Ladies Exercise Class  Crockett Resource Center (CRCIL)   3:00 pm.

MON 7/29

Book Art  Grapeland Public Library  3:00–5:00 pm. Latexo Girl Scouts  Community Center, Latexo  4:30 pm. Crockett ISD School Board Meeting  H.S. Cafeteria  5:30 pm. Family Support Group  508 E. Goliad, Crockett  6:00–8:00 pm.

TUE 7/30

The Tuesday Stitchers  Grapeland Senior Citizens Center  9:00 am–3:00 pm.

Children’s Crafts  Crockett Public Library 4:30– Country Western Dance Lessons  Grapeland Senior Center  6:00–8:00 pm.

WED 7/31

Community Resource Fair  Crockett Resource Center (1020 Loop 304 E, Crockett); FREE; 936-5442811.  10:00 am–12:00 pm. Passport to Summer—Party and Book Exhibit  Grapeland Public Library  10:00–11:30 am. Cancer Support Group of Houston County  Crockett Resource Center, Crockett  12:00–1:00 pm. Crockett Chamber of Commerce Meeting  Crockett Civic Center  12:00–1:00 pm. Nacogdoches Farmer’s Market  Old Hitch Lot (107 W. Pearl St., Nacogdoches)   2:00–6:00 pm.

SAT 8/3

Huntsville Farmer’s Market  Downtown Huntsville  8:00 am–12:00 pm. Walker Waggoner & Stephanie Hale Perform at Sweet Dreams Winery Live Music Saturday’s  Sweet Dreams Winery  11:00 am–8:00 pm.

SUN 8/4

VFW Post 4377 Bingo  VFW, Crockett  2:00 pm.

MON–TUE 8/5–8/6

CRCIL Ladies Exercise Class  Crockett Resource Center (CRCIL)   3:00 pm.

MON 8/5

Water’s Edge Addiction Recovery Group  508 E. Goliad, Crockett  12:00–1:00 pm. Latexo Girl Scouts  Community Center, Latexo  4:30 pm. Crockett City Council Meeting  Crockett City Hall Building  6:00 pm.

THU–SAT 8/1–8/3

Family Support Group  508 E. Goliad, Crockett  6:00–8:00 pm.

Great Texas Mud Race  Nacogdoches County Exposition Center  6:00–10:00 pm.

Houston County Choral Society  First Christian Church Memorial (220 N. Market St.), Grapeland; call Vicki Braun at 687-4245 for more information  7:00 pm.

Youth Rally 2013  Acquire The Fire, Grapeland City Park.  5:30 pm.

THU 8/1

Crockett Rotary Club  Spring Creek Country Club  12:00–1:00 pm. Story Hour  Crockett Public Library  2:00–3:00 pm. Masonic Lodge #539 Meeting  Lovelady Masonic Lodge, Lovelady  7:00 pm. Crockett Elks Lodge #1729  Elks Lodge  8:00 pm.

FRI 8/2

Latexo Booster Club Meeting  Latexo Community Center  7:00 pm.

TUE 8/6

The Tuesday Stitchers  Grapeland Senior Citizens Center  9:00 am–3:00 pm. Family Film Festival  Schulman Theatres Dogwood 6, Palestine  9:30–11:30 am. Crockett Lions Club  Rosemary’s Hilltop Kitchen  12:00–1:00 pm.

Bishop’s Brisket House  Live Music Fridays, Bishop’s Brisket House in Palestine Mall  8:30 pm.

Palestine Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Meeting  Chamber Office (401 West Main Street, Palestine)  12:00–1:00 pm.

Caddo Creek Classic Country Band in Concert  Rusk Civic Center  3:30–4:30 pm.

Children’s Crafts  Crockett Public Library 4:30–

Fab Fridays at Granny Muffin Wines  Granny Muffin Wines (above Texas Art Depot) 301 W. Oak, Palestine; FREE Music and Fun; contact April at 903-729-1940  5:00–9:00 pm.

Trinity Chamber of Commerce, Groveton Senior Citizens Center  5:30–6:30 pm.

Scott Helmer Performing at Sweet Dreams Winery Live Music Friday’s  Sweet Dreams Winery 5:00– 8:00 pm

5:30 pm.

Country & Western Dance Lessons  Grapeland Senior Center  6:00–8:00 pm. Lothrop Masonic Lodge #21 Meeting  Crockett Masonic Lodge  7:00 pm.

Entertainment with Tom T and Friends  Grapeland Senior Center  7:00–9:00 pm.

- 34 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

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SENIOR CENTER SAGA CONTINUES BY PENNYLYNN WEBB

I

T’S LIKE WALKING into a new building when you enter the Houston County Senior Center. The building, now clean and clutter free, feels light and airy. A new glass entryway to the dining hall allows you to observe the happiness of the center’s daily patrons, obvious by their smiles and body language. As you enter the dining hall, the sounds of conversation and friendly laughter greet you as all is well since Houston County took the reins. Bingo games returned on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and everyone loves gospel singing on Wednesdays. A game of dominos is usually in full swing in the back game room and puzzles are abundant in the Kenny Rogers Room. Aerobics classes for the seniors were also added to Tuesday’s events. You wouldn’t know that just three months ago the center’s fate lay in the balance and emergency measures were taken to ensure a future for in-center and home-delivered

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Crockett, Texas July 24–August 6, 2013  CountyLifeOnline.com  - 35 -


meals for the Houston County elderly residents. Prior to June 1, 2011, a non-profit corporation known as the Service Center for Older Americans of Houston County, Inc., governed by its own bylaws and board of directors, operated the center. Although the county owned the building, it didn’t appoint the board and had no legal authority to run the business. In November 2010, the former director of the Senior Citizen’s Center Glenna Enos claimed the center was having problems receiving Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) funds. According to Enos, those issues led to overages with several local vendors, one of which, William George, decided to sue the center for $72,000 in unpaid food deliveries and $6,000 in hot checks. Enos claimed those vendor issues combined with a week of inclement weather that caused power outages, road issues, and flooding within the building, prevented the center from opening or making home deliveries for the Meals on Wheels program. With no deliveries made, DETCOG withheld the March 2010 funding. With-

out those funds, the center operations came to a standstill on April 25, 2011. “From the conversations I’ve had with the vendor, the problem with William George goes back a couple of years,” DETCOG representative Holly Anderson said. “It’s been growing over time. At first, they were allowed to charge and that rocked on for a while and then they were put on a cash-only basis and that’s how they got into the hot check issue.” Reports surfaced that the center’s gas was disconnected in early April and food prepared at the Catholic Church and Houston County Jail. This was confirmed by Houston County Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary Shearer who said the Houston County Jail had been warming food for the center “due to equipment problems at the center.” Staff members from the sheriff’s office have also helped deliver meals for the homebound for various reasons. After reports that local shut-ins were not receiving their meals during the last week of April, DETCOG—which had already received calls concerning vendor and employee non-payment, liens on the center’s vehicles, and a 2009 IRS lien on

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“Glenna stated that the reason they were closed was due to the storm, but they did not notify us and they are required to do so,” Anderson said. In January of this year, Enos first contacted local media and concerned citizens and claimed publicly that DETCOG payments for the center were in arrears and the situation was beginning to hurt the center. Enos reported shrinking funds and high overhead costs with little aid in sight from DETCOG. During that meeting in January, Enos stated, “In the past, we didn’t really have to worry about whether or not we received our funding from DETCOG in a timely manner, we had grants to support us, but over time those grants have dried up and we became more dependent on DETCOG. We’ve learned that we cannot depend on them either, and we need to break totally away from them.” When contacted for a response at that time, DETCOG representative Holly Anderson reported that the DETCOG budget was statewide and that everyone, including all senior citizen centers were affected. She said the state reduced op-

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payroll taxes—stepped in to investigate the situation. The March funding was withheld until DETCOG and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) could conduct a monitoring visit of the Senior Citizen’s program in Houston County. Although congregate meals at the center are not served daily, Anderson and her team at DETCOG received permission from the state to begin an emergency home-delivery meals program on a temporary basis. Those shelf-ready meals were stored at the old Houston County Jail facility and transported by DETCOG staff this week until an alternative plan was established or the center could reinstate operations. Last week during a private DETCOG meeting, Enos requested Anderson release the funds for the center to restart operations. Anderson told Enos the center’s contract with DETCOG mandates the center have at least enough cash on hand to operate for 45 days. According to Anderson, the center’s lack of delivery for more than a week also put the center out of compliance with its contract.

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erational dollars not the meal money. “This is an area that all centers are going to have to figure out how to fund with fundraisers or donations,” she said. Anderson explained Enos and her staff are required by law to have on-hand certain items at the center. She said many of those items like paper goods and cleaning supplies could be donated and cash donations could also be accepted. She said volunteers for the center’s “Meals on Wheels” program could also help lighten the center’s financial burden. Anderson said at that time that Enos missed the called meeting where this issue was discussed. With a $3,000 food bill twice a month, an $800 weekly gas bill, a $900 weekly milk bill, and payroll of approximately $17,000 a month, Enos claimed in early March that without help, the center would only be able to operate for a few more weeks. Unlike other senior citizen centers that are in the same boat as Crockett, Enos reported that she would be cutting back her staff by at least four positions before she would begin to cut services, adamant she would continue the “Meals on Wheels” service at all cost. Enos then addressed the Houston County Commissioners Court during the Public Comment portion of the meeting with regard to funding. In her address,

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Enos stated that DETCOG had been “holding” monies earmarked for center operations from October through March from not only Crockett’s center but also other senior citizen centers in the area, forcing some to close. She noted that DETCOG had finally decided to release those funds. When she concluded her address, County Judge Lonnie Hunt spoke in defense of DETCOG. “I don’t want to get into a public dispute with you, but I want to point out that when I talked to the folks at DETCOG, they assured me that they have not held up any money.” After the meeting, Hunt contacted Anderson for answers to Enos’s claims. Hunt said Anderson said no money has been “held back” by DETCOG. After reports that local shut-ins were not receiving their meals during the last week of April 2011, DETCOG stepped in to investigate the situation. The March funding was withheld until DETCOG and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) could conduct a monitoring visit of the Senior Citizen’s program in Houston County. DETCOG gave the Houston County Senior Citizen Center a deadline of June 30, 2011, to get operations back online before taking further action. DETCOG also received permission

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from the state to begin an emergency home-delivered meals program on a temporary basis.  The Service Center for Older Americans of Houston County, Inc. Board voluntarily terminated its contract with Houston County on May 31, 2011. Board President Norma Dell Jones issued a letter to Judge Hunt: “Please accept this memorandum as notice of the termination of the Interlocal Agreement between the Service Center for Older Americans of Houston County, Inc., and Houston County. This voluntary termination is effective immediately. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we find that we are not able to continue operating the Houston County Senior Citizen Center at this time.” With the building back in the county’s care, a community service work crew began deep cleaning the building and stripping and waxing the floors and working on a plan to get the center back up and running for the local seniors. The county has always had a substantial investment in the program; the county owns the building that houses the Senior Center in Davy Crockett Park. The building was constructed in the early 1980s with funding from a federal grant obtained by Houston County. The land where the building sits is owned by the city of Crockett and is leased to the county for 50 years. When the lease expires in 2032, ownership of the building will transfer from the county to the city. While the Houston County Senior Citizen Center was closed, local businesses and Crockett’s Central Baptist Church provided services for the displaced elderly. Central Baptist Church opened the doors of their Activity Building as a temporary meeting place for local seniors until the issues at the center could be resolved and it could reopen. During the center’s hiatus, the annex building of the church served as an activity room and dining hall. The Houston County Commissioners Court set up a dedicated fund for the center in the county budget during a meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. At the time, Hunt noted that this budget would be tightly controlled.

DETCOG continued to deliver meals for the homebound as the county established its program. “Our primary goal was to get the center reopened for our seniors. We are completely disassociated with the former board and staff. Although we hope that this is a temporary situation for the county to run the center; however, we realize that due to the state’s practice for reimbursement funding, any non-profit group that would be interested would have to have a considerable amount of capital to initially run the center on. “The community support for the center has just been overwhelming, and we sort of expected that, because we’ve always known the Houston County and Crockett area to be a loving community who seem to come together when it’s most needed, stated Commissioner Willie Kitchen. He later said, “The attendance is wonderful. I think the first day we had somewhere around 100 people show up. So, we are very pleased, very, very happy.” The commissioners have approved a budget for the center, set at $33,977.32. The county will be receiving a grant in the amount of $3,000 per month and hope to receive another $3,000 in cash donations from those eating at the center with a new suggested price of lunch set at $2.50 for people over 60 years of age and $5.00 for everyone else. The county was already paying for the center’s electricity; therefore, the commissioners approved the line item transfer to the new fund. The commissioners set the salaries of part-time workers and approved a host agreement with Experience Works to provide two workers at no cost to the county. Through the Department of Labor, Experience Works provides staff and pays the salary for those “employees” in trade for them to receive “on the job training.” Experience Works representative Paul Martin, who went over the program with the commissioners, reported that Extension Agent Mandy Patrick would serve as their operations supervisor at the center. The Commissioners approved a vendor agreement with the Area Agency on Aging of Deep East Texas. Through this agreement, the county agrees to pro-

- 38 -  CountyLifeOnline.com  July 24–August 6, 2013

vide a place for senior citizens to meet together to pursue mutual interests, receive services and/or take part in activities that will enhance their quality of life, support their independence, and encourage their continued involvement in and with the community. The County Extension Office was also moved to the senior center building. It was noted by the commissioners that with the extension service operating out of the center building, it would remain open during the county’s normal business hours, giving the seniors more time to socialize and also providing a place for the extension service to host its own community programs. “I think things are working out well. I’ve not had to be out there very much and I take that as a great sign,” noted Hunt. It was recently announced by Judge Hunt that DETCOG’s emergency meal delivery service would end on October 1, 2011. In order to continue providing those services to our citizens, Houston County is working to obtain its own DADs contract. Hunt reported, “We’ve been talking with DETCOG and DADs, and yesterday, two ladies with DETCOG came down and with input from us, they created a proposed budget for the county to take over the home-delivered meals program.” Hunt noted, “My biggest concern is that we are taking off something here that could end up costing us a lot more money. The good new is, based on the proposed budget that they developed, not only should it not cost us any additional money, it actually should generate a little additional money that would help with what we are doing at the senior center.” He reported, “Right now we are in the black and we are only putting in slightly more than we were before when we weren’t running it. It’s not like we increased a bunch. We’ve increased minimally, if at all.” Hunt reported that the city of Crockett was now donating the center’s water and garbage services. “They are happy to do it and we are happy to have it,” noted Hunt and then added, “Some of the local churches continue to help, and every bit of it helps.” When asked if the center could utilize volunteers, Hunt stated, “There will

always be areas where volunteers can help, but you can’t have new and different volunteers coming in every day because they need to be trained and things have to be done a certain way. But it would be wonderful if somebody wanted to volunteer every Monday or every Wednesday or each Tuesday and Thursday. In other words, the same every week, but it wouldn’t work to have them only coming in sporadically.” Out at the center, several of the longtime patrons report that people who had stopped coming had returned. One lady reported, “We are having such a good time. The food had been pretty good. There have only been three or four meals that we didn’t really care for or that we thought were bad, but the lady who’s planning the menus, she used to work at the state school, and she said, ‘If you don’t like it let me know and we will try something else.’ She’s not forcing us to eat anything that we don’t like and she’s trying new things all the time.” A volunteer reported that on average the center sees at least 40 patrons a day, but their numbers sometimes rise above a hundred on any given day. She reported, “It’s just such a different place to be. Everyone is happy to be here. They enjoy the food and fellowship, and we are so happy to have Betty Gun back as our activity director. She’s not above sitting out here and eating with us or sitting down in the back and playing a game of dominos.” While the future looks bright for the Houston County Senior Citizens Center, the fate of several of the prior board members who governed the center remains to be determined. There is a lawsuit pending by William George for $72,000 in unpaid food deliveries. A 2009 IRS lien on payroll taxes has frozen the bank account of the Service Center for Older Americans of Houston County, Inc. According to incident reports from the Crockett Police Department, five cases have been filed against Glenna Enos, Victoria M. Scott, and Norma Dell Jones regarding unpaid payroll checks. Those cases have been turned over to the Houston County District Attorney for further investigation.

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