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On the rebound:

from recession to recovery

Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news



Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Lufkin, Angelina County holding their own as far as the economy goes Workforce Center: Jobs available in construction, extraction, health care By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News


ufkin and Angelina County haven’t seen that breakthrough moment for the economy and employment figures that would allow everyone to breathe a collective sigh of relief. But in comparison with other parts of Texas and the country, Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Executive Director Charlene Meadows said, Lufkin and Angelina County seem to be holding their own. “We’re seeing what we’ve historically seen, and a lot of that has to do with the health care industry and office and administrator support,” Meadows said. “There are a lot more of those (jobs) compared to other occupations. That’s where are highest number of job openings are.” Last week there were about 21 jobs in construction and extraction available listed on the Texas Workforce Commission’s database, Meadows said, and although positions in health care have declined slightly in the last year, there are still plenty of openings available. According to data from the Texas Workforce Commission, 5,570 people were employed in construction in the 12-county Deep East Texas area in the third

quarter of 2011, up about 276 from the quarter before. There were 16,270 people employed in education and health services in the 2011 third quarter, down about 29 from the previous quarter. The biggest decline was in local government, which includes school districts, according to the data, with 17,422 people employed in the Deep East Texas area, down about 1,319 from the quarter before. The 12-county Deep East Texas area includes Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. There were fewer continued unemployment insurance claimants in January, about 2,065, than in December, when there were 2,111. There were also 477 fewer claimants in January compared to the same month in 2011, according to TWC data. “It says one of two things: Either the labor force is shrinking or people are going to work,” Meadows said. “The labor force does go up and down, and they may have gotten jobs somewhere else. (The unemployment rate is) down from a year ago. We continue to stay at our relationship to the state’s (unemployment rate), about two points

appointment. “We do have services available for anyone,” Meadows said. “If you’re currently employed and looking for something else or unemployed and looking for a job, we welcome you to come in and take advantage of our services. We don’t have any magic wands, but we do have people who know how to help you decide on a direction to go.” Workforce Center locations include 210 N. John Redditt Drive in Lufkin for Angelina County residents; 799 W. Gibson in Jasper for Jasper, Newton and Sabine county residents; 2103 South Street in Nacogdoches for Nacogdoches County residents; 1241 W. Church, Suite 300, in Livingston for Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler county residents; 1121 Hurst St., Suite 2, in Center for Shelby and San Augustine Joel Andrews/The Lufkin News county residents; and a satellite Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Executive Director Charlene Meadows. center for residents of Houston and Trinity counties at 1505 S. been somewhat fortunate and 4th Street in Crockett, which ofapart. We’ve been doing that for said the Lufkin economy, in comparison with other parts of will continue to be. Our housing fers many of the same services, years and years. We’re holding the country, is healthy. market is better. At least, they although some services and our own with the state; we just “I know that some places don’t seem to be losing their programs are limited or offered have a higher rate than the state. close, but we have not had a value like in some parts of the off-site. That doesn’t take away from country.” For more information on emthe people who aren’t employed large one in a while,” she said. “Nacogdoches is reaping the For Deep East Texans needing ployment services, call 639-1351 or can’t find a job for whatever benefits from the energy fields. employment assistance, Workor toll-free (877) 639-1351, or visit reason.” She doesn’t have a crystal ball It actually benefits both cities. force Center offices are open Steve Knight’s email address is in her office to predict what the “I think that given what’s from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday future will be like, but Meadows going on in the world, we have through Friday, or by special

Now 110 years old, Lufkin Industries looking to expand here and beyond

Company had modest beginnings but now stretches over six continents By micah powell The Lufkin News


micah powell/The Lufkin News

Ramundo Tovar welds a part to an artificial lift unit. With 94 percent of oil being produced globally using artificial lifts officials project that revenues will break the $1.2 billion mark in 2012.

t’s unlikely that in 1902 J.H. Kurth’s and Frank Kavanaugh’s vision for Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company would match what it has become today. From a company built to service the logging and rail industry that once paid bills with no money in the bank to cover them, to a global leader in the oil field and power transmission business that brought in $932 million in revenues in 2011, Lufkin Industries has seen many changes in its 110 years. According to the book “Lufkin: From Sawmill to Oil,” Kurth, who owned Angelina County Lumber Company, would purchase parts needed for repairs for sawmill and locomotive equipment from surrounding areas such as Tyler, Rusk or Houston. In the event of major breakdowns, the company would be forced to do business with firms as far away as St. Louis or Milwaukee, forcing mills to shut down for weeks at a time. In 1901, Kurth and Kavanaugh, who operated a small foundry and machine shop, began working on an idea to build a foundry that would serve the sawmills of Angelina County and alleviate the drop in production from long repair times. In February 1902, Kurth and Kavanaugh, along with three others, signed the company SEE 110 YEARS, PAGE 8H

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Woodland Heights Medical Center Lufkin 4B ready to woo prospective recognized for stroke, heart care business park tenants First occupant of 156-acre industrial area hires 33 people in first six months

Contributed photo

Hospital administrators are pictured with the certificate naming Woodland Heights one of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures by The Joint Commission. Pictured from left are Kathy Busbee, Chief Nursing Officer, Casey Robertson, Chief Executive Officer and Jannett Fowler, Chief Quality Officer. Woodland Heights Medical Center

Heights was named one of the The ACR gold seal of acnation’s top performers on key creditation represents the quality measures by The Joint highest level of image quality As the first hospital in Lufkin, Commission, the leading accredi- and patient safety. It is awarded Woodland Heights Medical tor of health care organizations only to facilities meeting ACR Center has been at the forefront in America. As one of only 405 Practice Guidelines and Techniof healthcare in East Texas, U.S. hospitals and critical access cal Standards after a peer-review continually providing the best hospitals earning the distincevaluation by board-certified in care and technology. A key tion of top performer, Woodland physicians and medical physifocus is working closely with Heights was recognized for cists who are experts in the physicians, employees and the achieving these thresholds for field. Image quality, personnel community to provide the best heart attack, heart failure, pneu- qualifications, adequacy of facilpossible patient care. From monia and surgical care. ity equipment, quality control opening the first cardiovascular “We understand that what procedures, and quality assurcenter in 1987 to being nationally matters most to our patients is ance programs are assessed. The recognized for quality and safety, safe, effective care. That’s why findings are reported to the ACR Woodland Heights’ team of phy- Woodland Heights has made a Committee on Accreditation, sicians and staff are committed commitment to accreditation which subsequently provides the to staying on the leading edge of and to evidence-based care practice with a comprehensive healthcare quality, innovation processes. We have earned this report they can use for continuand technology. recognition through the dedica- ous practice improvement. As the first and only Accredtion and skill of our medical With this accreditation, ited Chest Pain Center in the staff, nurses and other clinicians Woodland Heights now has all Deep East Texas area, Woodland Heights continues that commitment. Building on its long-established reputation as a leader in cardiac care, Woodland Heights applied for and was granted full accreditation by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC) — a designation held by only 12 percent of hospitals in the United States. To receive accreditation, Woodland Heights has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and completing on-site evaluations by an SCPC review team. “This is momentous not only for our hospital and patients, but the community as well,” said Woodland Heights CEO Casey Robertson. “It’s another step in Contributed photo our commitment to providing Lead technologists display their respective certificates, illustrating superior emergency and cardiac that Woodland Heights now has all advanced imaging services that care to the residents of Lufkin are offered at both the hospital and outpatient diagnostic center and surrounding area. While accredited by the ACR. Pictured back row from left, Rebecca the focus is on our emergency Petty, Radiology Director; Dana Reynolds, Lead MRI Technician; department, this accreditation Kim Lovelace, Lead Ultrasound Technician; Charlotte Bush, is possible because of the work Lead Nuclear Medicine Technician; front row, Sherry Rush, Lead and commitment of a multiMammography Technician; and April Smith, Lead CT Technician. disciplinary team that includes employees, physicians and local who care for our patients each advanced imaging services that EMS.” day,” said Robertson. are offered at both the hospital The American Heart AssociaAs recently as February of and outpatient diagnostic center tion has recognized the quality this year, Woodland Heights accredited by the ACR. care Woodland Heights offers was awarded a three-year term As we have settled into the and honored the facility with of accreditation in computed new year, we look forward to two awards — the Stroke Gold tomography (CT) as the result of continued success in serving Quality Achievement Award and a recent review by the American the residents of East Texas and the Heart Failure Silver Quality College of Radiology (ACR). CT providing them with healthcare Achievement Award. These scanning — sometimes called options that can compete with awards recognize Woodland CAT scanning — is a noninlarger cities like Houston or Heights’ commitment and sucvasive medical test that helps Dallas. In addition to the quality cess in implementing higher physicians diagnose and tailor care Woodland Heights provides, standards of care. treatments for various medical SEE WHMC, PAGE 8H In September 2011, Woodland conditions.

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

The entrance to the City of Lufkin Business Park on Farm-to-Market 842. By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News


ufkin voters in 2004 approved a one-eighthcent sales tax to create the Lufkin 4B Economic Development Corporation. One of the corporation’s first moves was to purchase land and create a business park with the idea of putting the city in position to recruit new industry and create jobs. Located near the convergence of state Highway 103 and Loop 287, the 156acre park welcomed its first tenant, Innovative Metal Components, in December 2010. Jim Wehmeier, director of economic development for the city of Lufkin and president/CEO of the Lufkin/Angelina County Economic Development Partnership, said companies don’t have time to negotiate with multiple land owners and don’t want to get into bidding wars, so

communities have to have access to land to be competitive in today’s challenging economic environment. “This really puts us in a position to be competitive,” Wehmeier said. “One of the first priorities was to identify a piece of land and develop it as a business park. We were really lucky. Because of the location of the Abitibi paper mill, the parcel of land we were able to cobble together, which was made up of about five different owners, is about 160 acres. It’s just a prime location. It’s got a rail siding that goes by the back side of the park that was there to serve Abitibi and further east of us. It’s got utilities — water, sewer, telephone, gas — and all the utilities in this area are oversized because they had to serve one of the biggest utility users in Texas. We got the benefit from the infrastructure that had to be overbuilt to serve

the mill. That’s why we designated this and worked so hard to put that deal together.” A $4 million grant from hurricane recovery money set aside specifically for economic development assisted with funding the park project. “After Hurricane Ike (in 2008), a portion of the recovery funds were run through the (Economic Development Administration) instead of (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). They were specifically to assist communities in recovering that were affected by the hurricane,” he said. “We were affected multiple ways. We were a major hub for evacuation, which has a huge financial impact, and we were hit by the hurricane. We also had physical damage, and the hurricane affected a lot of SEE PARK, PAGE 8H

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sunday, march 25, 2012 the lufkin news

the lufkin news sunday, march 25, 2012


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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Memorial Health System touts its robotics, therapy programs

Contributed photo

The Cardiovascular & Stroke Center was completed in 2009 with expansion and community education in mind.

Contributed photo

Dr. Kaywin Carter has performed hundreds of robotic gynecological procedures in the past several years. Memorial Health System of East Texas


hat started out as a vision of local industry leaders to reinvest 100 percent of all hospital proceeds back into a medical facility and into the community now represents the largest health care system in the Deep East Texas area — Memorial Health System of East Texas. The facility, which opened its doors in 1949, continues to pave the way for quality, innovative health care in East Texas. In fact, Memorial consistently ranks among the nation’s best for exceptional health care and patient satisfaction. Just recently HealthStream Research indicated that Memorial is the preferred hospital in East Texas area when it comes to patient care. The private, not-for-profit hospital provides more than a quarter of a million patient services each year, and over the past six decades, the facility has experienced significant growth to offer a 175-member medical staff, 1,400-plus health care workers and a host of patient care services that at one time could only be found in large metropolitan cities. The Lufkin and Angelina County communities can be proud of Memorial’s numerous services provided from the Temple Imaging Center with PET/CT scanning for cancer and Alzheimer’s, 64 Slice CT scanning, Open Bore MRI, 4D Ultrasound, and digital mammography. Other specialty areas include orthopedic care, Women’s Services, Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation, Homecare, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Kidney & Diabetes Treatment, Sleep Disorders Treatment and Express Lab. The area’s first established robotics program Five years ago, Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin introduced the first da Vinci High Definition Robotic Surgery System in the state of Texas. Since 2007, multiple surgeons have taken advantage of the new technology and have successfully performed hysterectomies, prostatectomies, thoracic and cardiovascular procedures and nephrectomies with robotic assistance.

Most recently, Dr. Gregory DeArmond performed the first robotic gallbladder surgery in Lufkin. Assisted by local urologist, Dr. David Price, who served as the proctor, or someone who has significant experience with the robot, the gallbladder was removed in just 34 minutes. The 20-year-old patient was then able to return home after only a few hours at the hospital. Dr. Price, who has performed more than 1,000 robotic procedures, is not the only physician with an immense amount of experience on the da Vinci Surgical System. Dr. Kaywin Carter, a local obstetrician and gynecologist, has also performed hundreds of robotic surgeries in the past three years. Today she is a hysterectomy proctor for the da Vinci High Definition Robotic Surgical System, meaning she has performed enough cases and received certification to teach other physicians across the country how to use the robotic system to perform hysterectomies. Memorial utilizes the only specialized robotics team of surgical nurses and technicians in East Texas which has assisted in performing hundreds of cases during the past several years. Currently, there are eight local physicians trained in robotics: Michael Arnold, M.D., Brent Campbell, M.D., Kaywin Carter, M.D., Joseph Dean, M.D., Gregory DeArmond, M.D., Jerry Johnson, M.D., Carolyn Moyers, M.D., and David Price, M.D. Using the most advanced technology available, the da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to operate through a few tiny incisions with breakthrough vision, precision, control and improved access to the affected area. By overcoming the limits of both traditional open and laparoscopic surgery, da Vinci is changing the experience of surgery for people around the world. Advantages of robotic procedures for the patient include smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time. State-of-the-art Outpatient Therapy Center In 2011, the hospital opened the doors of the Memorial Outpatient Therapy Center, a state-of-the-art 14,000-square-foot facility at 1301 W. Frank Ave. in Lufkin in the former VA (Vet-

eran’s Administration) Clinic. The center was completely renovated and designed with therapy in mind. In fact, the center was designed to enhance the overall healing process with the use of soothing colors and soft lighting. The Memorial Outpatient Therapy Center features a 5,000-square-foot gym and hand therapy clinic equipped with the latest in therapy equipment and a heated therapeutic pool. Looking toward the future Memorial is home to the area’s only Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Care facility. The Cardiovascular and Stroke Center was completed in 2009 with expansion and community education in mind. Through a partnership with The Methodist Hospital in Houston and the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, stroke education continues in Angelina County, where the mortality rate from stroke is Contributed photo almost four times the national Physical therapist Elisa Harris works with a patient in the new Memorial Outpatient Therapy Center average. The $5.8 million grant gym. The Center opened its doors in 2011 offering a wide range of rehabilitation services, including from the T.L.L. Temple Founphysical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy for adults and children. dation was initially funded for three years, but was extended for another two years due to its Lufkins Premier Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center overwhelming need in the community. So far, more than 13,000 individuals and local entities have been educated about the dangers of stroke and prevention methods. The stroke education program has been recognized by Get With The Guidelines’ Bronze, Silver and Gold Plus awards for core measure compliance, the Texas Council for Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke’s Outstanding Program Award two years in a row, and the International Stroke Conference’s Poster Presentation award. As a leader in cardiovascular medicine, Memorial’s advancements in cardiovascular and cardiothoracic care is allowing patients to stay close to home for most of their heart health needs. Recently, Memorial welcomed Dr. David Ladden, a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon trained under the renowned Micheal E. DeBakey, to treat the unhealthy hearts in the community. Prior to Dr. Ladden’s arrival, Memorial completed construction on the area’s first dedicated heart facility that houses the most technologically advanced operating suites and catheterization labs.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Young Professionals Network is up and running Group relishes networking opportunities but also intends to be active in the community By DENISE HOEPFNER The Lufkin News


t has been nearly a year since the Young Professionals Network held its first meeting, and Chairman Hilary Haglund says since then the response and the results of being part of the group have been excellent. “In the last 10 months since our first meeting, the group has really taken off and continues to pick up steam,” Haglund said. “Members of the group have expressed that they are not only enjoying the fellowship of other East Texas young professionals, but also appreciate that the contacts they are making at the events have helped them build better business practices and more resourceful relationships.” Haglund had been on the board of a Houston-based YPN group and found nothing similar here when she moved back to Lufkin. After Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Huffman mentioned he was interested in starting one, Haglund volunteered for the task. “With the support of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and some early sponsors, we were able to get the group off the ground,” she said. “We average 20 to 30 people at the monthly networking happy hours and now have an advisory committee of 12 YPN members who work to come up with new and exciting ways for young professionals in our area to meet and make a difference.” Huffman said he had heard from area businesses who had young people moving in that there was nothing for them to do. With a national trend of similar groups for young professionals, he had been wanting to start something for some time. “We felt like we needed to create opportunities for young professionals that didn’t exist currently, to get together in a social environment and find out about some volunteering oppor-

tunities, as well,” he said. While the group has the support of the Chamber, it is autonomous, Huffman added. More than just social time, the group’s vision and goals involve a range of activities and purposes, Haglund said. “The vision of YPN is to create an organization that will grow into a vast networking group with membership that includes representatives from all of Lufkin and Angelina County’s most well-known and prominent companies and organizations,” she said. “YPN will serve to promote local businesses, support philanthropic activities, and plan social events all to encourage the professional development of our members. “The goal of YPN is to prepare our young professionals to be the next business and community leaders by preserving, protecting and improving upon the foundation which has been laid by the good people of this community. YPN will promote the growth of young professionals while supporting the development of a vibrant Lufkin and Angelina County.” The group is currently working on a voter registration drive and candidate forum, Haglund said, with other projects in the planning stages. “There are plans to team up with the new SMILES outreach to help package food for needy Angelina County children,” she said. “We are also planning to hold regular ‘Lunch and Learn’ programs where members and the general public are invited to a presentation from various professionals on a wide range of topics.” Also in the works, Haglund said, is a Health and Recreations Sub-Committee, which will strive to keep members informed on a variety of topics, including recreational opportunities in the area, exercise and health tips. “This sub-committee has plans to participate in and volunteer with existing events such as the Neches River Ren-

dezvous, Pineywoods Purgatory, and local fun runs,” she said. While some members grew up in the area, others are new to town and looking for a way to become involved and meet people. YPN provides a way to do that, Haglund said. “YPN is a great program for companies that are interested in involving their young professionals in all aspects of our community and in providing them with opportunities to meet and network with other like-minded individuals,” she said. YPN meets for happy hour on the second Thursday of every month at various locations. Details can be found on the Chamber’s website at or anyone interested can contact Haglund to join the email list. Membership is open to all. For more information about YPN, call Haglund at 639-0007 or Jordan Strassner at 634-6644. Denise Hoepfner’s email address is dhoepfJOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News People mingling during a Young Professionals networking event at Another Broken Egg.

contributed photo

Pictured at a Young Professionals networking event are Lindsay Christensen, Jennifer Stover, Holly Weems, Robin Bowers.

Vince Lombardi once said . . . “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

We think Vince would be proud of this community. Temple-Inland is certainly proud to be a part of it.


Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news



Continued from Page 3H

Continued from Page 3H

the local businesses because the whole area was affected.” It was a great opportunity, Wehmeier said, but there also matching funds that needed to be available to finalize the grant, as well as a job-creation plan. “We ended up with a $4 million EDA grant, and we were able to use the money that we had spent acquiring the land as the match,” he said. “Three years ago, you were looking at a forest out where our business park is today. Today, you’re looking at a shovel-ready business park that is ready for a company to come in and say, ‘That’s the piece of land I want,’ and we’re able to say, ‘Here’s the engineering on the dirt. We’ve already got the zoning completed for you. These two roads are already into where we can extend them where they need to be. The infrastructure is in place — let’s go.’ It cuts tens of thousands of dollars off their engineering costs, and it cuts months off the process. Time is money when you’re developing a project. That puts us in a good position to be competitive.” Innovative Metal Components is expected to provide about 80 jobs within the next five years, according to Wehmeier. The aerospace company initially promised to create 20 jobs in the first year. They ended up creating 33 jobs within the first six months. “We were truly blessed to have somebody to be an anchor-tenant and to lead the charge. It worked out well, and we were able to facilitate them. We’ve got all of our infrastructure. We’ve got

110 years

water lines and sewer lines to accommodate the entire park. We’ve got telephony, fiber and copper,” Wehmeier said. “All of the infrastructure not only is to the border of the park, but is extended to the interior of the park. It’s ready to tap into and ready to go. The site work has been done with the grant.” And with a lot of collaboration and planning, Wehmeier believes he has a marketable and competitive product. “We’ve got a building and sites committee that represents the Economic Development Partnership and the 4B Corporation. A lot of planning from those people — very knowledgeable people — and a lot of planning from the city staff, engineering and management has really given us an extremely functional piece of land that we can market. We’re not in the business to make money selling these parcels. What we’re in the business of doing is using this land to create good-paying jobs for our citizens. It’s the only reason we do what we do, is to create good jobs and to add valuable tax base to our community. This puts us in a good position to do that.” Those who believe the park will fill with tenants in the next year or so might be disappointed. Wehmeier said the 4B Corporation has always looked at the park as a long-term development opportunity. There are prospective companies out there, however, and conversations to bring those companies — new jobs and new industries to Lufkin and Angelina County — are ongoing, he said. “We don’t expect to fill it in five years. It has already

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

The entrance to the City of Lufkin Business Park on state Highway 103 east. helped to attract other companies that we’re in conversation with now or have at least come into the community to see what we’ve got,” Wehmeier said. “It gives us a way to market the community and gives us a competitive advantage. We as a community have put ourselves in a great position, all the way around, through everything we’ve done as a community — from the county judge and commissioners, the mayor, council and city manager, the college trustees and the school boards that affect Lufkin and Angelina County — by being very competitive and being extremely aggressive when it comes to economic development projects. We want Lufkin to have quality growth, and we’ll be able to do that. The business park will have more tenants in the nottoo-distant future.” Steve Knight’s email address is

the hospital also takes pride in the advances in technology and the procedures that are offered locally. In late 2011, Woodland Heights acquired the da Vinci Si Surgical System. This is a significant arrival because of the value it offers our surgical staff and those in the region we serve, as it is the only Vinci Si Surgical System between Tyler and Houston. The da Vinci Si has several unique features designed to provide additional clinical benefits and efficiency in the operating room, many of which translate to patient benefits. Here are a few features of the da Vinci Si: ■ Enhanced 3D, high-definition vision of operative field with up to 10x magnification ■ New optional dual console allows second surgeon to provide assistance ■ Superior visual clarity of tissue and anatomy ■ Surgical dexterity and precision far greater than even the human hand ■ Updated and simplified user interface to enhance OR efficiency ■ New ergonomic settings for greater surgeon comfort Together, these technological advancements provide our surgeons with unparalleled precision, dexterity and control that enable a minimally invasive approach for many complex

surgical procedures. Commenting on the introduction of the da Vinci Si System, Robertson said, “We believe that the new features of the da Vinci Si System will help us provide the best possible outcomes and is proof of our commitment to provide our community access to the latest advancements in minimally invasive surgery.” The system’s advanced level of technology takes surgery beyond the limits of the human hand. This acquisition compliments our goal of extending minimally invasive surgery to the broadest possible base of patients. It can be used for a multitude of procedures, including, but not limited to: prostatectomy, hysterectomy, myomectomy, hernia repair and colorectal surgery. With a medical staff of more than 200 physicians, Woodland Heights offers a comprehensive list of medical and surgical specialties and treatment modalities and a commitment to quality patient care. The team of physicians and staff take pride in the care they provide and Woodland Heights looks forward to carrying on the tradition of providing care with quality and compassion.

Contributed photo

Woodland Heights main entrance

Continued from Page 2H charter, and Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company was born. By the 1920s, Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company was the largest industry in Lufkin and began to set its sights on the emerging oil industry in Texas. In 1923, Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company built the first enclosed geared oilwell pumping unit on a Humble Oil well at Goose Creek, Texas, according to “Lufkin: From Sawmill to Oil.” Lufkin Industries’ current president and CEO, Jay Glick, said this was a turning point for the growing company. “It really wasn’t envisioned that this would be an oil field company at all,” Glick said. “That (pumping unit) was sold to a company called Humble Oil, which, if you know anything about that company, you know it’s Exxon-Mobil now, and the field it was sold into was called Goose Creek, which is now Baytown. Everybody’s name has changed in the story except for Lufkin. Lufkin is the one constant in the whole thing.” Since its inception, Lufkin Industries has become an international leader in the artificial lift division of the oil field business. With locations ranging from Montana and Canada to Argentina and Romania, and with 94 percent of oil being produced globally using artificial lifts, the future of Lufkin Industries looks as bright as ever. Lufkin Industries has acquired various companies in the past three years that has expanded its reach even further, and officials project that revenues in 2012 will break the $1.2 billion

mark. “Our core business is growing at 12.3 percent annual rate, which is great. Companies get excited about 9 percent annual growth rates,” Glick said. “We’re not unhappy with 12.3, but what’s amazing is the acquired companies and the startups are growing at a 16.3 percent per year rate. That is a staggering rate over that period of time. We’re very happy we made the acquisitions we did.” Through it all, Lufkin Industries has remained headquartered in Angelina County, employing more than 2,200 workers in the region. In 2011 alone, Lufkin Industries added 584 jobs, with 500 staying in Angelina County. “It’s unusual to have a company this size in a town this size,” said Brian Gifford, vice president of human resources. “Many companies — and I’ve worked for some of them — big multi-nationals would just as soon close down and move to Houston because it’s convenient. We have stayed dedicated to the community, and I think that’s an important part of who we are.” Lufkin Industries is not dwelling in its past success, but instead is looking toward the future. Glick said Lufkin Industries has a two-part strategy for expanding its business across the globe. “We have two strategies for growing the business,” Glick said. “One is expanding geographically the reach of the business, and then, secondly, broadening the portfolio of artificial lift products that we produce.” Both strategies are visibly

in action as the company has manufacturing plants, service locations or sales locations on six continents, and the acquisitions of Zenith Oilfield Technology, Datac Instrumentation and RealFlex Technologies, among others. Glick said the goal is to have the international aspect of Lufkin Industries equal the output of its U.S. business. “We’ve been trying to grow this piece (international business),” he said, “but as fast as we can grow the international, the U.S. is growing at a much faster rate.” Lufkin Industries is looking to expand even further in Angelina County. Gifford said it is proposing a fourth shift that would allow for greater micah powell/The Lufkin News production and produce more Jermaine Chandler paints a part to an artificial lift unit. Lufkin Industries has become an jobs while not working its international leader in the artificial lift division of the oil field business. workers to exhaustion. “What’s happening is that a lot of our employees are working very hard and many, many hours a week,” Gifford said. “What we want to get to is add an additional shift and change some of the schedule around so that people can get days off and we can get more people working.” From humble beginnings to a multi-million-dollar industry, Lufkin Industries plans on staying true to its roots in Lufkin and Angelina County, the company officials said. “We feel like we’ve had a great partnership here for a number of years, and I think that should carry on for a number of years into the future,” Glick said. “We like to think we’ve got at least 110 micah powell/The Lufkin News years in front of us.” Micah Powell’s email address is Daniel Hearne, right, and Donnis Minschew work in the Oilfield Division on U.S. Highway 69 near Huntington. In 2011 Lufkin Industries added 584 jobs, with 500 staying in Angelina County.

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Brookshire Brothers makes big investment in community Company contributes to large festivals and small projects By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News

But is the big box presenting all the festivals going on? Are they even making a donation? We take ince Austin and Tom Brookgreat pride that we’re able to do shire opened their first that kind of thing, but it takes grocery store on Sept. 21, money to do that.” 1921, near the Angelina County Although the grocery business courthouse square, Lufkin has is a great business, Watts said, been home for what is now the economy affects it just like a 72-store Brookshire Brotheverybody else. ers chain that has about 6,000 “We’re not going anywhere,” employee-owners. she said. “Nothing’s going to hapThe company acts as presentSteven Knight/The Lufkin News pen, but our stores in Angelina ing sponsor for some of the Emily Watts, director of business County support a lot of what’s largest events in Angelina and going on.” development for Brookshire Nacogdoches counties, including Brothers In addition to their sponsorthe Angelina Benefit Rodeo, the ship activities, each of BrookTexas Blueberry Festival in Natake pride that we can do that, shire Brothers’ retail stores, cogdoches, Summer Fest Texas, but at the same time, I wish that including the five Lufkin-area Cinco de Mayo and the Texas our customers and those that we stores and two Nacogdoches Forest Festival. hope to gain as customers would stores, maintain a budget for Emily Watts, director of understand that some day may merchandise donations. business development, said the come that we won’t be able to The store director reviews the company takes pride investing in do those things if we don’t have completed donation request form its hometown. shoppers shopping with us. It’s and determines if the request “When you look at the five really easy to say, ‘That other will be approved. Approved biggest things that take place in “big box” across town — I can requests for in-store donations this area, we’re it,” she said. “We get things much cheaper there.’ are up to $100 in gift cards, and


recipients are limited to one donation per year. If the request exceeds the store’s donation budget or requires special consideration, the form will be forwarded to the corporate office for processing and formal submission to the company’s donation committee, which meets monthly to consider requests. “Anything that comes into us, we require a donation request form that comes from our website,” she said. “It’s easy to find from our home page.” The company evaluates each request in the context of Brookshire Brothers’ focus areas, company priorities, geographic relevance available budget and eligible activities and restrictions. The company is not able to consider donation requests for United Way-funded organizations; individuals; advertising and promotions including signs, T-shirts and promotional print

materials; reducing debts or past operating ventures; political or partisan organizations or campaigns; endowment funds; talent and beauty contests; named academic chairships or fellowships; research; religious organizations; generic requests that may have been sent to various organizations; sports sponsorships; medical expenses and benefits for individuals. Donation request forms are available in all Brookshire Brothers locations or by downloading from the company’s website at misc/donationpolicy.aspx. Then there’s the Brookshire Brothers Charitable Foundation, which according to Watts has donated about $1.3 million to charitable organizations since its founding about 12 years ago. “That’s the money that we raise from two golf tournaments each year — one golf tournament in May and one in September. These are solely supported by our vendors,” she said. “Those vendors come in a big way, and we tell them each year which charitable organizations we’re

supporting. Those are sizeable donations. That’s besides the money that we give for festivals and everyday things.” Six charitable organizations were recognized and honored with donations totalling $65,000 from on Feb. 28. Recipients of the foundation’s funds included the Friends of Ellen Trout Zoo, the Angelina Alliance for Children, the Boys and Girls Club of Deep East Texas, the Volunteer Services Council for Lufkin State Supported Living Center and two chapters of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association — the East Texas Regional Office and the Capital of Texas chapter. The company also donates money and goods for school-related activities, including Project Graduation at each Angelina County school. Watts said investing in the home folks is something Brookshire Brothers takes seriously. “I feel a big responsibility to be a good steward of money from this company,” Watts said. Steve Knight’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Unrelenting drought revitalizes local tree removal businesses

By NICK WADE The Lufkin News


ccording to a report released last month by the Texas Forest Service, an estimated 5.6 million trees that once shaded homes, streets and parks in communities across Texas now are dead as a result of last year’s unrelenting drought. With dead trees piling up in Lufkin (many forestry analysts said that East Texas’ trees were hit hardest by the

sure whether or not the tree is actually dead,” Hulsey said. “During the drought no one cut hardwoods because they thought maybe they would come back. But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of trees out there that aren’t coming back.” Hulsey said that during Texas’ last comparable drought in the 1950s, trees became dormant and lost their leaves, but then came back to life once conditions improved. As for last year’s drought, and this

“The drought caused a great loss for a lot of us, but for tree morticians like me, there is something to be gained.” Steve Hulsey

A-A Tree Service

drought), tree service businesses in the area are doing their best to keep up with a mounting workload. “Laura Ingalls said in her ‘Little House on the Prairie’ that no great loss comes without some small gain,” said Steve Hulsey of A-A Tree Service. “The drought caused a great loss for a lot of us, but for tree morticians like me, there is something to be gained.” After one of the driest years on record, many shade trees went into dormancy as early as August 2011, dropping their leaves and branches in a “desperate act of self-preservation,” the report stated. Pine trees with normally thick, green crowns turned red with dead needles, while foliage on cedar trees turned brown. Even though winter is the best time to remove trees, according to Hulsey, the workload is always heaviest in the spring. “Most people wait until spring because they aren’t

spring’s subsequent crop of dead trees, Hulsey said he has never seen anything like it. “Business usually picks up every spring, because people can see what is dead or alive, but we have never had something like this,” he said. “There is a bumper crop out there right now and we are making a fortune.” While business is booming, that means long days and little rest for the workers clearing away the dead trees. “We are backed up right now,” said Melvin Walker of Timberland Nursery Tree Service. “I’ve been working until 8 or 9 every night. I haven’t seen anything like this in 30 years.” Walker said deceased trees are everywhere in Lufkin, and that “driving down the road at any point, you can see patches where there are 30 dead trees just sitting there.” Walker and Hulsey both said the huge crop of dead trees has also backed up the

ANDY ADAMS/The Lufkin News

Melvin Walker of Timberland Nursery Tree Service prepares his “moon walker” to begin cutting down a dead tree in the back yard of a home in the Crown Colony subdivision. timber mills and recycling plants where they usually haul their wood. The number of trees killed

nities. They also provide economic and environmental benefits that include lowering heating and cooling costs,

es, like the ones owned by Hulsey and Williams, will total an estimated $560 million. That number could grow, as

significantly under-counting the number of trees that ultimately will succumb to the drought. That number may

“I’ve been working until 8 or 9 every night. I haven’t seen anything like this in 30 years.” Melvin Walker

Timberland Nursery Tree Service

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cleaning the air and water, and boosting property value. The estimated loss of these benefits across the state is projected to cost roughly $280 million per year. The Texas Forest Service also predicts the cost paid to Texas tree service business-

the Forest Service says that many trees are still dying. “This estimate is preliminary because trees are continuing to die from the drought,” said Pete Smith, Texas Forest Service staff forester and lead researcher. “This means we may be

not be known until the end of 2012, if ever.” The Forest Service also reported that over 500 million non-urban trees were likely killed as a result of the drought. Nick Wade’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Family proud to have operated Coca-Cola plant for 100-plus years

Company became one of two independent bottlers in Texas By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News


n May 8, 1886, Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Styth Pemberton invents Coca-Cola, producing the syrup in a three-legged brass pot in his backyard. In 1894, Joseph Beidenharn installs bottling machinery in the rear of his store in Vicksburg, Miss., and becomes the first to put Coca-Cola in bottles. In 1905, Lufkin Bottle Works, the forerunner of what is now known as the Lufkin Coca-Cola Bottling Company, is born. And since 1911, when W.D. Newsome bought the plant, it has remained in the same Lufkin family’s hands. It is one of two remaining independent bottlers in Texas (the other is located in Crockett) and 68 in North America. Newsome’s great-granddaughter, Lynne Haney, has served as president since 2007. “This has been part of our family as an independent bottler, and we’ve kept it familyowned and independent since that time,” she said. “There is

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Coca-Cola mural at the corner of First Street and Shepherd Avenue in downtown Lufkin.

Steve Knight/The Lufkin News

Lynne Haney and Jim Watkins of Lufkin Coca-Cola. great-grandfather, my mother and uncle, then my father, my sister (Ann Mackey) and I, and now my son is here. With the four generations — that’s an ac-

Newsome built a plant in 1926 at Angelina and Dozier Avenue, now Frank Avenue, and purchased franchise rights to Dr Pepper in the 1960s.

best Coke. The best place to get a Coke was from that bottle. It was part of history. It was part of (people’s) daily routine was to go by, and kids would go and

“We’re in a pretty good place to have Coke and Dr Pepper, the two strongest brands in our region. We have great customers from a company perspective. We have great relationships with our customers, and I’m bullish about the future of our parent company, Coca-Cola Refreshments and about Dr Pepper-Snapple Group. They’re very healthy businesses and translates to us being on solid ground.” Jim Watkins

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complishment in itself — but we were always hopeful, anticipating and looking forward to a fifth generation, and now we do.” Taylor Haney joined the family business last year after graduating from Texas A&M University.

“There were big pane-glass windows where you could walk on the sidewalk and watch the bottling process,” Lynne Haney said, referring to the old downtown Lufkin plant. “They were six-and-a-half-ounce glass bottles at the time, and it was the

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Pipe dream: Lufkin man, son

plan to open downtown cigar, tobacco shop JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

The Tobacconist, one of the more recent specialty businesses to open in downtown Lufkin, is owned and operated by father and son Ron and Chase Crocker. By JESSICA COOLEY The Lufkin News


pening Lufkin’s first downtown cigar shop has been a dream 10 years in the making for Lufkinite Ron Crocker. Crocker and his son Chase are set to open the 1882 Tobacconist at the end of this month in downtown Lufkin. Crocker is the operations manager for Carroway Funeral Home, so

“We’re really excited. I think it’s going to be eye-appealing and comfortable to our members and to people who come off the streets to buy cigars.” Ron Crocker

co-owner 1882 Tobacconist JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

the Tobacconist will be his side project. Cigars have been a hobby for Crocker for years, he said. “I have enjoyed cigars for many, many years, and it has been difficult to get cigars in our area,” he said. “Due to the lack of places to enjoy cigars and pipe tobacco, I decided to open this up.”

The Tobacconist is one of the more recent specialty businesses to open in downtown Lufkin. From picking a location to helping design custom cabinets, Crocker said he’s enjoyed the entire startup process. He and Chase have been working tirelessly on opening the cigar shop for the past eight months. “It was an enjoyable

undertaking,” he said. “A lot of time went into the theme. We ended up using more of a Texas theme for our look. I had a local cabinet maker make all of our humidor cabinets and accessory area. And then there’s working with

different companies in acquiring cigars and pipe tobacco.” As for the cigar and pipe tobacco brands Crocker intends to carry, he said it will be an eclectic mix with something for everyone. In naming the pipe tobacco, Crocker is paying homage to the Lufkin cigar merchants that came before him. “All of our pipe tobaccos are named in dedication to 10 different merchants who opened up stores and shops in the 1880s that sold tobacco,” he said, naming a few. The 1882 in the name is also a historic nod, to the year Lufkin was founded. While the shop will offer an assortment of cigars, it will also have a smoking lounge exclusively for members. At first, membership will be offered by invitation only. Crocker said he intends to extend membership to about 65 people, but anyone can come into the shop to buy a cigar. “We’re going to limit the number of people able to go into the lounge for the comfort and convenience of our members,” he said. “We’re really excited. I think it’s going to be eyeappealing and comfortable to our members and to people who come off the streets to buy cigars.” The shop at 117 S. First St. will be open TuesdaySaturday, noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call the shop at 639-1882.

“I have enjoyed cigars for many, many years, and it has been difficult to get cigars in our area. Due to the lack of places to enjoy cigars and pipe tobacco, I decided to open this up.” Ron Crocker

co-owner 1882 Tobacconist

Jessica Cooley’s email address is



Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Shopping, entertainment options expand in downtown Lufkin

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Downtown Lufkin 2011

By DENISE HOEPFNER The Lufkin News If you haven’t been to downtown Lufkin lately, there’s a lot you’re missing. New shops, venues and hangouts have opened in the past year, changing the look — and the energy — of the once-sleepy area. “Blithe Boutique, Mama Tried, Angel-a-Mine, A Furniture Fetish, Images by Becki, Abram’s, Standpipe Coffee House, The Eleganté and The Grand have all opened in the past year,” said Main Street Director Barbara Thompson. Because of the number of venues that have opened up downtown, nights are more active than they used to be, Thompson said. Abram’s, The Grand on First and Blithe Boutique, which rents out its second floor as a party room, have joined The Lodge and Behannon’s as the go-to spaces for fêtes. “Downtown Café and Manhattan’s also host parties, and we have ‘the little Alamo’ that’s owned by Joe Lowery that people will rent for weddings and parties,” Thompson said. “Because of the venues we have downtown, they’re bringing the crowds. There’s always pretty much something going on.” Also drawing a growing number of nighttime visitors downtown are Standpipe Coffee House and The Eleganté, which both feature live music on weekends. The Eleganté, a jazz and blues club located at 122 S. First St., is quickly becoming a weekend hot spot for music aficionados. After paying a cover charge, custom-

ers can provide their own drinks and enjoy a free buffet until midnight. In addition to music, the club also features poetry readings and comedy, depending on the entertainment lineup. Just across the street, Standpipe Coffee House has already gathered a faithful crowd of regulars who pop in for a coffee drink, to visit with friends, to check out the latest art, catch a classic movie or to hear the rotating lineup of performers who stop by on any given night. Recent Lufkin Convention and Visitors Bureau events have also helped the district, particularly Lufkin’s Bistro, a food and wine event which was held outdoors on First Street, and Corks and Forks, a wine-pairing event which drew a crowd to Abram’s. “I think the things the CVB does brings a mixture of young and old,” Thompson said. “I think Tara (Watson-Watkins) has done an excellent job of that.” There have also been some little changes that are meant to help locals and visitors learn more about the history of downtown, and about the businesses they can find there. “In Cotton Square Park, we put up information boards, and we’re working on some ‘You are here’ signs to present to the Main Street advisory board,” Thompson said. “It will be a Main Street District map with the names of the businesses on it.” And other projects, when finished, will also benefit the downtown area, such as the renovation of Pitser Garrison Civic Center into a convention

center, Thompson said. “The expansion of the civic center is most definitely a plus,” she said. “It’s going to bring more traffic in and more people from out of town, and that’s another time for downtown to show off. When they leave that event, maybe there will be something going on downtown the day before or after. It will be a benefit for our entire community.” The Pines Theater renovation is scheduled to be completed by fall and will offer another option for downtown entertainment and events. “We can have small concerts — we can seat 300 to 400 people there — and people can rent it for weddings or receptions or small conventions,” Thompson said. With all the new additions and traffic, Thompson said, other businesses have become interested in what’s happening downtown. “I think with all the growth we have, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got another restaurant chain downtown,” she said. “There is someone who has been talking to me about it and of course, I can’t say who they are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. There have also been people coming downtown to meet with some of the building owners.” Next up for Main Street is the annual Hoedown, a street festival that will kick off Saturday, Apr. 21, with a parade at 10 a.m. and last until 5 p.m. This year, Thompson says, visitors to the Hoedown will find more attractions than they have in the past. “We’re working on two enter-

tainment stages, with the possibility of three,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of new things and are bringing back others we haven’t been able to have for a while, like the petting zoo and pony rides. New this year is a bungee jump.” The Hoedown is just one annual event that brings families downtown. Others include

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Experience, expansion prepare Lufkin for next round of evacuees

Civic center project expected to be completed by end of 2012, officials say

By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News


n late summer and fall, when tropical winds start blowing in the Gulf of Mexico, many coastal residents look towards the north. Many of those residents look to Lufkin, about a 120mile trip from the coast — far enough to provide safe housing, but still close enough to experience a hurricane’s powerful winds and flooding rains, as Hurricane Ike proved in 2008. The city hosted an estimated 4,500 evacuees during Ike and an estimated 17,000 evacuees during 2005’s Hurricane Rita, according to officials. “We get a double-whammy every time we get a storm,” said Angelina County Emergency Management Coordinator Don Morris. “We get the storm, the wind damage and the flooding. And we also get the people who leave the coast for safety.“ With the help from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs and the General Land Office with funds allocated by HUD through the Development Block Disaster Assistance Grant Program, the city will be better prepared for the next big storm, especially for the most vulnerable evacuees. Lufkin and Angelina County continue their efforts in constructing a $6.8 million expansion project at the Pitser Garrison Civic Center in Lufkin, a 35,000-squarefoot facility that city employees, local volunteers and other professionals can use to house and feed evacuees. With an expected completion date of December, the expansion project doubles the size of the facility by

adding a shelter section to the south side of the existing civic center, with an enlarged lobby and a large conference room. The shelter facility will also come equipped with a full-sized kitchen, showers and laundry facilities. “We’ll be able to help 1,400 people at the shelter,” said Assistant City Manager Keith Wright. “That includes 400 with special medical needs. Unlike any other current shelter, the new one will have rooms for family members who want to stay close to their medically dependent loved ones, many of whom have been evacuated from nursing homes.” Lufkin’s role in housing evacuees is part of the state’s emergency planning structure, and according to City Manager Paul Parker, the city can take care of about 8,000 to 9,000 evacuees. With the experience of Hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Ike, officials have learned something each time the city has hosted evacuees. “As long as Highway 59 and Highway 69 come to Lufkin, we’re going to shelter the whole coast. We’ve made a lot of improvements,” Parker said. “We’re so much better than we were four or five years ago, it’s night and day. When you do it three times, you start getting pretty good at sheltering people. Right now, with the shelter, we’re as prepared as we can be, but with every event, we learn new things.’’ The Lufkin facility is similar to one being constructed in Nacogdoches. Together, the two shelters will boost the capacity of Deep East Texas to handle an influx of coastal city residents. “There is no question these shelter projects will be a tre-

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

mendous benefit for both of the communities and for the state,” said Walter Diggles, executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments, which is coordinating disbursement of federal recovery funds. “There will be a lot of positives to

come from these projects.” Kansas City-based HNTB Corporation was hired by the state to help local governments work through a complex engineering, design and environmental review process. “We’re very pleased to be

part of this effort,” said Jerry D. Holder Jr., HNTB’s lead person in Texas. “Our job is to get projects efficiently through the process and ready to be bid out by local governments. We plan, we design, we permit — and then the project is ready to

be built. The process helps assure that the billions of dollars appropriated by the federal government truly help harden our coastal communities against the next hurricane.” Steve Knight’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Castleberry’s Furniture celebrates 50 years here

Fire in 2005 causes company to change the way it does business By CHASITY MONSCHEIN The Lufkin News

said. “My father was teaching me what employees should do. I’m not afraid ooper Castleberry to ask my employees to do has worked in the anything, because I’ve done furniture industry in it all.” some way for over 40 years, Over the years, Castleberry and has held every job in the said the retail business has business from cleaning the changed a lot and it’s not for trucks to being a retail floor the better or worse. salesman. This year Castle“I think the big chain berry Furniture Showroom, stores, like Walmart, have which his father Harry changed the way things are Castleberry began in 1962, is done,” he said. “They don’t celebrating 50 years in busigive the kind of service that ness in Lufkin. was expected when my dad When Harry Castleberry’s first started the store. It’s not house caught on fire, he used good or bad; it’s just differthe insurance settlement ent. But my customers don’t money as an opportunity get the experience they do to open his own store at 113 at a big chain store. They W. Shepherd Ave. His father get the type of service they continued to own the store would have 50 years ago.” until his death in 1998, but When the store caught on Harry took Cooper under his fire on Frank Avenue in 2005, wing a long time before he Castleberry Furniture Showpassed. room had to downsize, and “I’ve been in my father’s it changed the way they did stores for 50 years, even business, Castleberry said. though I was too young to “Up to that point we were work at them at the time,” just a furniture store,” he Castleberry said. “I didn’t said. “But when we downwork when I was really sized we became a furniture small, but he’s always had store and an interior design MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News me around whatever job he business. We go into homes had at the time. I remember and design a space. It’s somewhen I was a kid, before my thing we wanted to do for a dad opened the store, he used long time and weren’t able to sell appliances. I climbed to until then. It gives us the into a refrigerator box and ability to really be creative couldn’t climb out. The and help someone make their adults thought it was funny.” home one-of-a-kind.” Cooper Castleberry said Once someone makes a his father’s influence and furniture purchase from the knowledge are still used in store, he said, they will visit the store. the customer’s home and “My father taught me evtake measurements and creerything I know about busiate a to-scale drawing of the ness,” Castleberry said. “At room. about 15 he started training “We discuss the cusme. Back in the day, if your tomer’s ideas for the room, family owned a business you the room’s use, and suggest were expected to continue it. furniture arrangements,” he That attitude has changed. said. “We’ll coordinate the We’re dinosaurs now. There’s fabrics, woods, rugs, and help not a lot of us local guys left; select flooring and window instead it’s all chain stores.” treatments.” At the beginning of his Castleberry Furniture career in the furniture busiStore is at 1702 S. First St. ness, Castleberry said he For more information about had to do the jobs no one else the store, visit its website at wanted to do. or call “I was the runt employee 632-8000. MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News Chasity Monschein’s email address who had to clean the bathis Castleberry’s Furniture employees Jan Dickson, left and Martha Keller try out a sofa on display in the showroom on South First Street. rooms and the trucks,” he


Coca-Cola Continued from Page 4I

has value.” Tab and “New Coke” not bottles its product, but with 75 withstanding, the value of employees at its Webber Street Lufkin Coca-Cola continues to location — home since 1978 — grow. the company sells and distribIn 1979, Lufkin Coca-Cola utes 1.6 million cases of drink joined with other regional products each year in Angelina, soft drink bottlers to form Polk and Trinity counties. Southwest Canners Bottling “It comes with its set of chal- Company, which produces and lenges being an independent, distributes 22 million cases and especially one of two in the annually. big state of Texas,” Haney said. The company established “It’s a lot of area that’s covered Vend-Buffet, a full service by someone else in the parent vending operation, in 1984. It company. These are challenges has grown to more than 400 acwe’re embracing and meeting counts, according to company head-on and doing a good job figures. with.” Jim Watkins, general manPart of the challenge is man- ager since 2010, said the Cocaaging and distributing more Cola product is not necessarily than 380 brands, including recession-proof, but is much Coca-Cola brands, Dr Pepper, more resistant to economic V8 and Minute Maid juices, Big pressures. Red, Big Blue, Big Peach, Mon“We saw a slight downturn ster, NOS and Full Throttle en- in sugared beverages in the last ergy drinks, PowerAde sports two or three years,” he said. drink and Vitaminwater. “I don’t attribute that to the “I think that’s probably one economic woes of the country. of the biggest changes from I attribute that to a shift in con1905 to 2012, is the advent of sumer trends that still is and those categories,” Haney said. will always be our bread and “If you’re not a player in those, butter, but some of the other you’re left behind. The isotoncategories — sports drinks, ics are one. The energy drinks PowerAde, isotonics, Vitaminare one, along with sugared water. We sell a tremendous drinks and the ‘zero’ versions amount of Daisani and smartof all of those. Then there’s the water — it’s a big product for flavored — Cherry Dr Pepper, us. The challenge comes with Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, managing all of those individuCherry Coke — it’s a constant al products and packages. The quest for something new that other side of that, or benefit, is

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JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

when people go in to a convenience store, it doesn’t matter if gas is $3 a gallon or $4.50 a gallon, they’re going to buy a Coke or Dr Pepper product when they go into those stores.” With Coca-Cola continuing its recognition as the world’s most valuable brand, according to Interbrand, and Diet Coke becoming the No. 2 soft drink in the country behind only its older brother in the red-colored can, according to Beverage Digest, the Lufkin plant is optimistic about its future.

“I see our industry continuing to be very competitive,” Watkins said. “I continue to see shifts in consumer preference. I think that we’ll continue to see more and more drink varieties, be it the sports drink or different waters. I’m very bullish on our local company. We’re in a pretty good place to have Coke and Dr Pepper, the two strongest brands in our region. We have great customers from a company perspective. We have great relationships with our customers, and I’m

bullish about the future of our parent company, Coca-Cola Refreshments and about Dr Pepper-Snapple Group. They’re very healthy businesses and translates to us being on solid ground.” That solid ground allows the company to support the community with significant financial contributions and products to 23 school districts in the three-county area. Numerous scoreboards, including the Panther Jumbotron, were provided by the company in

addition to countless baseball fields and basketball gyms. They also support numerous community events and organizations each year, including the Salvation Army, area Boys and Girls clubs, Junior Achievement and Project Graduation. But if anybody is looking to get on the Coca-Cola bandwagon and purchase the company from this longtime Lufkin family, they are out of luck. “Oh, no,” Haney said. Steve Knight’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Lufkin insurance firm weathers economic downturn, celebrates 50th anniversary By micah powell The Lufkin News


Lufkin insurance agency is celebrating its golden anniversary of protecting and serving the people of East Texas. Morgan Insurance was founded in May 1962 by Bob Morgan and has since grown to employ more than 20 agents, including Morgan’s son Terry, who joined in 1982. For five decades, the company has worked to serve the insurance needs of Angelina County — from auto to home insurance and everything in between. Operations manager Debra Cahill has seen the growth first-hand over the past 36 years. From doing every rate by hand to entering the age of Internet billing, Cahill has been a part of it all. “We got our first computer around 1980, and it would have just about filled up this room,” Cahill said. “There was no uploading of policies, no email, no cell phones, and we had rooms full of paper files. Little by little we started scanning all that into a system, and things kind of grew from there. Now everything we do is online and we’re pretty much paperless now.” Morgan Insurance credits the lasting impact it has had on Angelina County to being there for its customers as well as staying ahead of the game when it comes to marketing and advertising. By embracing social media such as Facebook early, company officials said, Morgan Insurance has been able to take advantage of the wide variety of ways to connect with its clients to offer even better customer service. “The main thing we’ve realized is that a few years ago, when we started working on our website and social media, we didn’t really know we were getting anything for it,” Cahill said. “It’s just something you

MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News

Morgan Insurance is celebrating 50 years of business in Lufkin. Morgan Insurance is, from left, Leah Willett, Trey Moore, Jeanna Tatum, Jonanna Mason, Debra Cahill, Monica Posey, Donna Arabie, Layla Smith, Brandy Dunkin, Michelle Lyles, Ellen Hawkins, Tina Callison, Velincia Dobrec, Mitch Ashley and Terry Morgan. Not pictured is Toni Murray, Jessica Mann, Hunter Haglund, Wade Moore and Mike Haney. can’t hardly tell, but in meetings that we go to in the past six months I can’t tell you how many insurance companies that we represent are getting on Facebook and wanting you to be friends. It makes us look back and say we weren’t wrong.” While customer service and marketing create business for Morgan Insurance, the economy has taken its toll on a

fair share of businesses. Cahill credits the people of Angelina County, and the importance they put on insurance, in helping the company weather the economic storm. “We track our cancellations, and I really don’t see that our economy actually took any business away from us — we’ve still had some growth,” Cahill said. “The weather — the hurricanes and tornadoes

— probably had more of an impact on our business than the economy. It seems like everyone in Lufkin understands that we weren’t hit as hard as some other places were. Its a compliment to the people of East Texas.” Cahill acknowledges that online upstarts such as Geico have swayed many to their low-cost coverage, but she still thinks a good, local company

is the way to go for Angelina County residents who need someone to be there for them when times get tough. “We’re more about service and protection than about slashing your prices,” Cahill said. “You can go online and compare prices with us and find we’re really competitive. We understand that people are going to compare rates online, they’re going to search on the

Internet. But we honestly feel like maybe they’ll come and sit across the desk from us.” There is no big celebration in store for Morgan Insurance’s 50th anniversary except the company crawfish boil. Instead, the company said, it’ll be business as usual — serving and protecting the people of Angelina County. Micah Powell’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news



Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Diboll ISD celebrates opening of new campuses

Bond passed in 2009 provides $22.5 million worth of improvements By NICK WADE The Lufkin News DIBOLL — Earlier this month Diboll ISD opened its newest facility, H.G. Temple Elementary and Intermediate, as a result of a $22.5 million bond that was passed in 2009. The campus is equipped with state-of-the-art technology including wireless Internet capability, rolling computer carts and electronic cards to open doors in the facility. The new technology, along with a gym that holds 600 people, two music rooms, a band/choir hall and cafeteria tables that transform into benches, have the students and teachers excited about education, according to district Superintendent Gary Martel. “We are extremely proud of the K-6 school, and with its opening we now have the ability to serve our students for years to come,” Martel said. “After spending time on the campus with our students and staff, I am firmly convinced it has changed our staff and student mindset to one of pride and accomplishment. The whole building just buzzes with excitement and potential.” The opportunity to construct the new campus was something that Martel said reflected how important education is to the Diboll community. “The bond passed by 70 percent in 2009, and now half of the district’s student body is now in new buildings with the ability to grow,” he said. “Diboll taxpayers showed they valued education and great facilities for our students and teachers.” Martel said the community was instrumental in helping teachers and staff move into the new facility, with over 300 people lending a hand earlier this month at Diboll’s “Move Day.” That kind of community support is something Martel is proud of, and wants to continue to foster. “Our community is our school,” Martel said. “We are all on the same team. We expect people to look at the city of Diboll and Diboll ISD as a great place to raise their children. Like a family, we will have problems, but it is our intent to always work together to solve them. We have an open-door policy that has facilitated the ‘trust factor’ both by parents and our educators. This is one of the reasons I am proud to call Diboll my home.” With a tax ratification election that passed by 70 percent last year, Diboll ISD was able to increase its budget by approximately $750,000 while lowering its tax rate by 8 cents. A $330,000 “Cools Schools” grant allowed the district to upgrade air handlers to improve efficiency in both the junior high and high school. These financial boosts are key for district progression during a time when state funding is questionable, at best, Martel said. “Strong partnership and communication with our parents and taxpayers has led to recent new school bonds being passed and a successful TRE to maximize funds available from the state as we are faced with state funding cuts,” he said. “Our fund balance position has strengthened over the last two years through sound financial decisions that utilize

every opportunity to maximize state funding while keeping our local tax rate as low as possible. Our district pay scale continues to be at or above regional averages in all positions, and we have upgraded to Skyward student software, which will allow for better data transfer with the state and better parent communication online.” With a dual language program under way, open enrollment in pre-kindergarten, a dual credit program for high school students and a robotics program initiative that will field teams at every campus, Martel said the district has “progressed every year, in every aspect.” “I hope we can continue that trend,” he said. “The school board has been supportive, and we have really begun to work better as a team of eight. When a board has an agenda, it is very hard to move forward. We have had very little of that and very few issues. We agree to disagree and then we do what is best for the district and all of our students.” Martel said the primary driving force in accountability is student growth from one grade level to another, and ultimately equipping students with the tools to make them successful, productive citizens by the time they reach graduation. “We expect our students to grow at least one grade level each year,” Martel said. “Eighty-five percent of our students pass their standardized tests, and by graduation we expect — and have had — a 99 percent passing rate, along with having every one of our students accepted into college, technical schools or a military career. Our student attendance is up, our dropout rate is low, and we are getting them to the stage with the ability to be a successful adult.” Thanks to what Martel described as the school board’s “commitment to being a 21stcentury district,” Diboll ISD has wireless capabilities at district facilities and an upgraded technology infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of digital learners. Diboll Junior High received a Texas Rural School grant for mobile science carts, or COWs (computers on wheels), which can turn any classroom on campus into a computer lab. The district is also on the verge of using a thin client server system that will keep its campus computer upgrade costs to a minimum in the future. Diboll ISD has purchased seven school buses over the last three years and is planning to update the fleet each year. Two of those buses were bought without using taxpayer money, thanks to stimulus grants and a PTSA grant. The district is also in the process of equipping its buses with security cameras, and plans to have a camera in each bus by July of this year. “We truly believe in our vision to have a positive impact on every child, every day, every way,” Martel said of Diboll ISD. “We want to develop positive relationships with all students and set high expectations, because most of the time students will surpass those expectations.”

photos contributed by Jordan Strassner

Diboll ISD celebrated the opening of the H.G. Temple Intermediate school with a ribbon cutting by the Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce.

The new campus includes a state-of-the-art cafeteria that features lunch tables that have the capability of folding into benches for extra seating. The cafeteria, gym and media rooms join the elementary and intermediate campuses.

The new building is held by over 300 beams, which allows for maintenance to happen from below, in a climate-controlled area which stores the school’s electronic systems.

Nick Wade’s email address is The campus features two music rooms, a choir/band hall and a plethora of technology features, including multiple computer labs.


Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

St. Cyprian’s eyes future Lufkin ISD uses GEAR UP with a new wing and a prayer grant to fill some holes left By NICK WADE The Lufkin News


s part of the construction covered by an $800,000 physical expansion grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School plans to add a Dyslexia Therapy wing later this year. The expansion will include new classrooms and a new cafeteria to accommodate the school’s growing enrollment. “This is without a doubt a monumental time for our

both print and cursive.” Using iPads has aided in accomplishing a teaching style that encompasses all aspects of the learning process, according to McCarty. “Everything the students are doing is multi-sensory, and that is a huge word with us,” she said. “It is a method of learning that engages all of your learning senses at the same time. Most students are auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners, and if they are only exposed to one of those types of learning, then they may not

and college, including at least one valedictorian. “It is so cool to watch a student who came in here with no self-esteem, struggling in the classroom, and see that kid walk away three years later as a confident reader and a confident student in all aspects,” McCarty said. St. Cyprian’s invites former students to speak at a dyslexia awareness luncheon that the school hosts each year, and share their experiences with parents, students and the community.

Contributed photo

Mary Gail McCarty, lead dyslexia therapist for St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School, uses an iPad with firstgrader Madison Johnson. school,” said principal Brinn Williford. “We are so completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation. We are also grateful for our school board and their vision to improve the school.” Williford noted that the dyslexia therapy is something that has historic roots with the school. A school press release stated that Father John Caskey, the first headmaster of the school, was instrumental in bringing help to children with learning disabilities. In 1967 he became proficient in training children who could not read. Today, the Dyslexia Therapy Department has three therapists and 22 students. The new Dyslexia Therapy Wing will provide more space and top technology for students with learning challenges. The students have individualized curriculum and study one-onone with a therapist. Among the new technology already being used by the department are educational iPad applications. “Kids these days love to keep up with technology, and having the programs available for them really enhances their excitement when it comes to learning,” said therapist Mary Gail McCarty. “Our boys love the baseball-themed word game, and there are piratethemed activities where the kids get treasure for spelling a word correctly, and handwriting programs that show students the proper stroke in

be getting the best opportunity to comprehend and retain information.” The nontraditional learning methods are geared for dyslexic students, and according to McCarty, those methods help bring out the potential that each of her students have. “Dyslexic students are smart kids. Unfortunately, they often are labeled as lazy, because they are not progressing the way they are expected to,” McCarty said. “But in reality their intelligence is above average, they just haven’t been taught in the way that they are most capable of learning. So what we are able to do is expose them to that different way of learning that will help them as they move forward.” The iPad applications assist in that progression, as well as giving the students a chance to become more comfortable with the technology toward which education is trending. “This something that students need to familiarize themselves with moving forward, anyway,” McCarty said. “School is not what it used to be, and with the changes in education, technology is playing a major role. We are trying hard to move and grow with technology because when our kids move on in their educational careers, we want them to be prepared.” McCarty said the St. Cyprian’s dyslexia therapy program has produced a multitude of students who have gone on to be successful in middle school, high school

“We try to promote knowledge and awareness when it comes to dyslexia,” McCarty said. “We want people to be more educated about the topic. We have a great staff here, and we are able to catch it very early because we know what to look for with struggling students, and we are constantly monitoring. So we want to raise that awareness within the community as well.” With cutting-edge technology, and proven teaching methods, the only thing left for the dyslexia therapy department is the new wing, which is an exciting prospect to McCarty. “We talked about what we wanted and then we presented that idea to Mr. Williford, who in turn presented it to the school board,” she said. “We are very excited to have the dyslexia lab included in the grant, because with the school growing so fast, the number of therapy students is growing as well. This is going to be a great way to accommodate that growth.” This will be the first time in 28 years for the school to increase the physical footprint of its facility. The grant will cover 80 percent of the cost to build the addition, with another 20 percent coming from the school. According to Williford, the school plans to break ground as soon as the finances are in order. He has also let parents know that school tuition will not be increased to cover the expenses of the expansion. Nick Wade’s email address is

Transportation Compliance & Risk Management

by state budget cuts By NICK WADE The Lufkin News


hile hovering near the bottom rungs of the state funding ladder, the Lufkin school district received a much needed boost this year when it was selected as one of only 46 cohorts nationwide (seven in Texas) to participate in GEAR UP. GEAR UP is a federal grant program based on the economic needs of students, with a goal of increasing high school graduation rates, improving academics and preparation for post-secondary education, as well as informing families of postsecondary education options and financing. The program, in which Lufkin has participated twice in the past, follows and provides funding for seventhgrade students through their high school graduation and then one year into whatever post-secondary educational option they choose to pursue. The East Texas Cohort for GEAR UP, which includes Lufkin, Hudson, Central, Nacogdoches and Woden, will follow the Class of 2017, beginning this year. The grant seeks to provide low-income, under-served and at-risk students with resources and services that improve the likelihood of their postsecondary success. With more than 70 percent of students in the Lufkin school district being on a free or reduced lunch program, GEAR UP director Vickie Evans said Lufkin’s need for additional funding probably played a major role in the district being selected to participate for a third time. “People may be uncomfortable saying that much of our area is in poverty, but that is the reality,” Evans said. “We


JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

have a lot of kids who are on free and reduced lunch. There are people in our area that make a lot of money and are doing well, but there are also a lot who are economically disadvantaged. I think that is one of the reasons we were able to be chosen for this grant again. Our district gets the low end of the state funding, but we have the highest student need for that support.” In the midst of a school funding crisis that has resulted in multiple lawsuits claiming inequity against the state, Lufkin has been forced to reduce its budget to what Evans called “bare bones.” With state education standards rising, but funding

decreasing, and with universities desiring students who are “college ready,” the GEAR UP grant has given LISD an opportunity to make up some of the difference. With Stephen F. Austin State University being the fiscal agent, close to $7.5 million will be allocated to the five school districts over the seven-year period of the grant. With the money being dispersed on a “per student” basis, Evans said Lufkin will be given enough to revive some of the teacher training the district has lost to budget cuts. “On the financial end, it is huge for staff development. We can’t make our classes SEE GEAR UP, PAGE 8J

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Grants, technology allow Hudson campuses to get creative Middle school finds a way to clone its teachers, so to speak By NICK WADE The Lufkin News HUDSON — Both the middle school and high school campuses in Hudson are using creative financing to improve their classroom technology. Hudson Middle School students are using netbooks in the classroom, working on blog assignments at home and programming small machines in the hallway. Principal Richard Crenshaw’s campus is full of teachers and students who are taking advantage of the growing presence of technology in education. Teachers are recording science lab instructions on Youtube, study materials are being uploaded to the web, and the campus was featured on the cover of INSIGHT magazine, which spotlights different technologies being used around the state. All the while, the financial inequity of school funding that has led to a highly publicized funding battle between public schools and the state legislature, has Hudson’s budget shrinking, not expanding, leaving Crenshaw and other school officials to “get very creative when it comes to funding.” “With site licenses and replacing equipment, the technology budget doesn’t go far,” Crenshaw said. “We have 11 rolling carts of netbooks, and none of those were in the budget. We’re obtaining the majority of our technology funding through grants.” “Grant” has become the magic word in Hudson, and other public schools trying to advance their educational value while not dipping into their budgets. “All grant money,” Crenshaw said as he pointed to a roomful of students using computer programs to work on vocabulary. “If anyone is wondering whether or not we are spending our money wisely, they should look in these classrooms and computer labs. We are doing all that we can to raise the bar and have an effect on the future.” While grant money enables schools like Hudson to fund programs and keep up with technology, the problem with school finance at the state level is still looming. “We are at 28 kids per classroom in our sixth grade,” Crenshaw said. “We’re undermanned, and we are really going to feel it next year. Most of the state funding goes to your staff, and we need to be able to pay more teachers so that we can lower that number of students in the classroom, which will create a stronger learning environment.” With the student/teacher ratio being driven up, the use of technology allowed Hudson teachers to clone themselves, in a manner of speaking. “A science teacher records a step-by-step instruction video of how to complete a lab,” Crenshaw said. “The students pull up that video on their netbook, and they are able to work through the lab at their own pace. But the best part is, this frees the teacher up to walk around the room and answer questions or make sure no one is falling behind.”

Contributed photo

Members of the Hudson High School Robotics team figure out the best course of action for their robot to shoot balls into multileveled baskets.

Contributed photo

Middle school students in Carla Ladner’s class work on programming a robot to complete obstacle courses.

Another hotbed of debate this year has been the implementation of Texas’ standardized STAAR test, which has been met with resistance by school officials, including Hudson Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker. But according to Crenshaw, Hudson educators are not going to teach to the STAAR test, they are going to teach above it. “We are not going to say STAAR. We have a new nineweeks exam system, and that is what we are concentrating on,” Crenshaw said. “We believe that our test standards are challenging enough to allow the students to perform well on the STAAR test if they are proficient with ours.” Crenshaw said that despite any funding problems, and beyond any standardized test, the key to a successful campus (Hudson Middle School has continually been ranked as one of the top middle schools in the state and in the country, according to multiple education websites and magazines) lies in the mindset of the students and teachers. “It starts at the bottom,” he said. “It is not an administrative accomplishment. Our success is about our teachers and their ability to impart their knowledge to the students. And with our students, it is a mindset to do the very best they can — not just pass — and to be eager to learn and to rise above expectations.” Crenshaw said HMS has worked to tie UIL academics (Hudson has won 15 consecutive UIL academic titles in its middle school district) into its campus initiative, part of which included hosting academic pep rallies, and he has seen a direct relation in classroom performance. As for the campus’ standardized test scores, HMS was in the top 3 percent of Texas schools, including private schools. “It comes down to the goal of the district,” Crenshaw said, “and everyone knows the expectations when they come to work here. The work ethic of our teachers is something that

translates to our students, and one of the reasons we are able to be successful.”

not lost on them. “Increasingly, companies and other businesses in the modern world are using robots,” said High school robots team member Stewart Haas. Beginning a high school “It’s good for us to have experirobotics team in order to keep ence with that, not just the students on the cutting edge technical experience but also of technology and make them the creative skills. This whole more marketable in the workthing is like a giant puzzle with force is a positive notion. Find- no instructions.” ing money for tools, supplies The team only has two and equipment, not to mention seniors, Cody Perez and a $6,500 contest entry fee, while Trevor Rudd, which means that in the midst of a school funding returning members will have crisis — that becomes slightly a better feel for the program more complicated. going into next year. Enter community support, “None of us really knew in the form of $6,500 apiece, what we were getting into,” from J.C. Penney and the Texas said Raymond Barringer. “We Workforce Commission, and weren’t really sure what to the Hudson High School robot- expect, so it was definitely a ics team was born. learning experience, but a good “Without outside funding experience. Regardless of how we couldn’t do this,” said team we do in Houston, it will still be coach P.T. Walters. “There are a positive thing, because next grants and funding out there, year what took us two months but you have to search for those resources. We wouldn’t have been able to pay the entry fee, much less purchase the tools you need to start out with.” Hudson found the resources, and with other sponsors that include Consolidated Communications, Angelina Steel, Lufkin Federal Credit Union and Walmart, the team of 10 students will compete at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston next month against teams that stretch from Hawaii to Spain. Win or lose, the experience has been something that Walters believes will benefit the students. “Some of these guys had never touched a tool before this, and now they are getting to work with power tools, and having to build every part of the robot,” Walters said. “It promotes critical thinking and problem solving, and it emphasizes those soft skills that we have gotten away from in today’s society. This stuff could help these guys get jobs in the future.” While the team has had fun throughout the process, and is looking to compete at a high level in Houston, the advantages they have moving forward is

Contributed photo

With an emphasis on technology, and a dedication to finding available funding, Hudson Middle School is a prime example of the future of education. The campus was featured on the cover of INSIGHT magazine. do accomplish we will be able to do in two weeks.” Walters said he has been along for the ride with his team, through the trials and errors, and while he is looking forward to next year, he believes they can be a force at the competition in April. “This has been a learning experience for all of us, myself included, and it has certainly been fun,” Walters said. “But I fully expect us to be able to

compete when we get to Houston. I’m a competitive guy, and I think we will be able to hold our own down there.” Team members include: Haas, Perez, Rudd, Barringer, Cole Meyer, Noah Brock, Blake Fountin, Tyler Law, Kyle Trammell and Kaleb Lee. Sponsors from Consolidated Communications are Chris Smith and Danny Butler.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Central band director marvels at program’s rapid growth Contributions from Lufkin DAV, other schools help group make big strides in first two years

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

David Lambert directs the Central Junior High band. By NICK WADE The Lufkin News


arlier this year the Central Junior High Band won 40 medals at its first ever UIL competition. Earlier this month the band members visited Stephen F. Austin State University and played alongside the Lumberjack Band. Later this year the band will march in community parades, and the 2012-13 school year will see twirlers, more UIL events and basketball games added to the band’s expanding resume. These achievements and future plans are beyond what band director David Lambert expected

because we didn’t have enough instruments, or the instruments they wanted to play.” The Disabled American Veterans of Lufkin donated $3,500 to help the band get started, and once the Central ISD school board saw the interest the program was garnering, it “tapped in” to some of its funding to help out, according to Lambert. Next was a grant from the E.L. Kurth Foundation, then instruments began being donated by other schools and community members who heard about the program’s need. “We literally went from having zero instruments to over 100 by the end of the first year,” Lam-

background, I sort of became the guy who asked the right question at the right time and was the lucky one to have the opportunity to help start this program,” Lambert said. “I taught math for six years, and I would walk around campus and see kids with guitars, and kids that really enjoyed music. It’s like there was this need because the students love music, but there wasn’t an outlet for it.” Lambert said seeing the needs of the program continually met at every turn has made him feel incredibly blessed. “God was calling me, and I have seen his provisions,” he said. “On multiple occasions I

“We literally went from having zero instruments to over 100 by the end of the first year.” David Lambert

Central Junior High band director

when he stopped teaching math two years ago to begin what he assumed would be a small band program. “I thought maybe someday we would get to where we are now,” Lambert said. “But this being our second year, and to see how far we have come, I am continually floored by it.” Lambert’s reaction is not surprising, considering the lack of funding and space, not to mention instruments, with which the band began. “We had 130 students in the sixth grade, so we expected maybe 25 kids to sign up, and the old music classroom would be plenty of room for that many students,” Lambert said. “We started with a grand total of zero instruments, and we didn’t budget any money because we didn’t really expect a huge response.” The response Lambert received was, as he described it, overwhelming. Eighty-five students participated the first year, and this year 90 more sixthgraders joined the band. “There were kids knocking on the door constantly, every day, asking if they could be in band,” Lambert said. “It was at that point that I was excited, but growing concerned about possibly having to tell kids no

bert said. “It is really beyond explanation how much support we received and how well everything turned out.” According to Lambert, with the state funding problems that exist in public education, during a time of economic uncertainty, starting the band program in 2010 did not make sense — just like the program’s instant success has not made sense. “Logically, it should not have happened now, but it did,” Lambert said. “Someone is looking out for us.” Lambert, a man of faith, said God was calling him to do something other than teach math in 2010, when his own son began talking about playing instruments. With his son still a few years away from junior high, Lambert wondered whether the school would have a band program in the near future. “The timing of it is all still so funny,” he said. “I asked our administrators what it would take to get a program going, and Superintendent (Allen) Garner pretty much told me he had already been thinking about the same thing.” Lambert, the first to ask the question, also became the first to get the job. “With my interest and musical

have had students come to me and want to play an instrument we don’t have, and right before I tell that student that they can’t do it, I get a call and someone has just donated that exact instrument. It is beyond explanation.” Lambert said that during one those instances, a student who wanted to play the trumpet had come to see him. Just before having to tell the student that there was not a trumpet she could play, a man walked into the office and brought a trumpet and a snare drum. “At that point, this type of thing had happened before and I just smiled and was thinking, ‘Wow,’ but I remember at the time I wondered what the snare drum was for,” Lambert said. “The very next day a student came to me and asked if there was a snare drum he could play.” Now, according to Lambert, the band program has become a place that students can call home during the school day. Groups of students eat lunch in the band room, then practice their instruments until it is time to go back to class. “The biggest positive, for me, is that we created a band family for the kids,” Lambert SEE BAND, PAGE 8J

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Christian school sees uptick in fund-raising as economy improves

Pineywoods Community Academy adds senior grade level By NICK WADE The Lufkin News


Micah Powell/The Lufkin News

Harmony Christian teacher Suzy Harkness answers a question from student Brooklyn Sutherland. By micah powell The Lufkin News

for many area families. “Our heart’s desire is to give Christian education to hrough Christianas many families as possicentered teaching, ble,” said Harmony Chrisinstructors at Harmo- tian School Head Adminny Christian School attempt istrator Tracye Brashear. to integrate biblical prin“For middle-class families ciples in every subject. And that is hard. They desire it, with a seemingly resurgent but it’s hard because our economy, the Lufkin private economy has hit our middleschool is hoping to reach class families so much.” even more students in the Brashear estimates that it coming years. costs $5,000 per student for Harmony Christian Harmony to function, with School was founded in 1995 nearly 80 percent of that as a ministry of Harmony coming from student tuHill Baptist Church, under ition. The school offers varithe leadership of Pastor ous fundraisers throughout John Greene, to offer nonthe year, like Harmony Hoedenominational evangelical down and a Winter Bazaar, education to all who desire to account for the remaining


“This year we did see an increase, so I feel that shows the pump in the economy,” Brashear said. “In the past two years we have made $35,000 and this year we did $43,000.” With an uptick in giving, the school hopes to expand its reach in Angelina County by offering even more families a chance to experience Christian-centered education. “We try to use those funds to keep our tuition low so families can afford Christian education — that’s our main purpose,” Brashear said. “Our tuition is under $4,000 and our pre-school is actually below day-care

“We’ve found that we have stabilized this year, when in years past it has been a little bit harder.” Tracye Brashear

Harmony Christian School Head Administrator

it in the Lufkin area. The campus is at 1601 Rice Road, off South Chestnut Drive outside Lufkin’s Loop 287. Over the years, Harmony has earned accreditation with Association of Christian Schools International and the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission and currently has 82 enrolled students from pre-kindergarten through seventh grade with plans of expanding to eighth grade next fall. At the same time many public school districts in Angelina County have filed suit against the state of Texas for lack of funding, Harmony has to rely almost exclusively on student tuition and fundraising events to make ends meet. In an economy that has struggled in recent years, Harmony has felt the pinch in enrollment, as private education has stopped being an option


20 percent. With the economy looking more and more promising, Brashear said enrollment has started to return to normal levels. She is hopeful that will be a continuing trend. “We’ve found that we have stabilized this year, when in years past it has been a little bit harder,” she said. “We’ve seen some declines, but now we’re beginning to stabilize, and I am hopeful that is because of the economy.” The Harmony Hoedown, a silent and live auction put on by the school, further emphasizes the economy’s impact on the private school. Community members bid on 50 items provided by local businesses and classes at Harmony Christian School, including a 90-minute session with History Channel’s Top Shot Season 3 champion Dustin Ellermann.

prices. We are a non-denominational, evangelical school, and I think that sets us apart because our curriculum is designed to integrate God’s Word throughout every subject. It’s not just an add-on, it is something that is integrated in history, science, in their readers, everywhere God is a part.” The school recently received accreditation through the Association of Christian Schools International and the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission. Registration for the 2012-13 school year is currently available with discounts for families with multiple children enrolling. For more information about Harmony Christian School visit its website at harmonychristianschool. org.

he 2012-13 school year will be the first for Pineywoods Community Academy to have high school seniors on its campus. With that important step ahead, the Lufkin charter school has focused on implementing a host of other “firsts” in the upcoming year. With a first-year drill team, UIL academic team and Gifted and Talented program, PCA’s theme this school year has been expansion — something about which the charter school staff is excited. “We have wanted these things for a long time,” said second-grade teacher and GT coordinator Rayna Smith. “This is an awesome opportunity for our students, and it is something that we as teachers find very exciting. I remember when we first started and were a much smaller school, so for us to be growing so quickly and to be able to add so many wonderful things for our students, this really means a lot.” PCA students took home 19 first-place medals in 31 competitions at the school’s first ever UIL academic meet, the drill team performed during PCA’s first-ever Spring Show, and the school’s Destination Imagination team competed in Mesquite last month with schools from around the state. The GT program, in its first year, is something of which Smith is particularly proud to be a part. “This is something we have wanted for a while,” Smith said. “It is only our first year, but when we decided to take a bite, we took a really big bite. The students in the program are working on online projects through the state website, effective and efficient research skills, a mock courtroom,

Micah Powell/The Lufkin News

Members of the PCA Drill Team perform at the charter school’s first-ever Spring Show. and they’re setting up for an antique roadshow that will help them learn about value and how things depreciate or appreciate over time.” The GT program at PCA currently serves qualified students in grades 2-6, with more expansion planned for the future. Added to the excitement at

Pineywoods is the inclusion of the Timberwolves in next year’s UIL athletic competitions. School Director Bruce Marchand said the growing opportunities at PCA mean a lot for the betterment of the SEE SENIORS, PAGE 8J

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

iLearning: Huntington campuses don’t just allow smartphone use — they encourage it By NICK WADE The Lufkin News HUNTINGTON — At the high school and middle school campuses in Huntington, students have their cell phones, iPads and a variety of other digital devices out on their desks. They are not being disruptive. They are utilizing what district Superintendent Eric Wright calls virtual learning. Both campuses are operating with wireless Internet capabilities, and rather than having cell phones taken up, the students are being encouraged to bring their digital devices to school in order to access educational and instructional websites and programs, use the Internet for research and follow along with videos that are recorded by their teachers. “We have certainly embraced the technology that is out there,” Wright said. “Our school board was very proactive in allowing us to create a wireless infrastructure, and what we are looking to do in the future — our vision — is to have our students become global digital citizens.” While forward thinking played a huge role in implementing the new digital aspects of education, Wright said there were also logistical and funding factors that made the decision a little easier. In what is an ever-changing digital world, technology can become obsolete at a more rapid pace than in the past. That was leading the district to replace or update computer and technology labs and equipment every three years. With more than 70 percent of the student body having access to some type of digital device, Wright said he and the board believed it would be a wise investment to incorporate those devices into the classroom. “We did some extensive research into this ourselves before we got started,” Wright said. “Instead of telling to kids to power down as soon as they walk in the school, we want to embrace and seize technology in order to capture the educational imagination of this first digital generation. By allowing the students to do this, we get the best of both worlds. We can have access to virtual learning, but without the cost of new purchases in technology

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Students using wireless devices as study aids at Huntington Middle School. every year.” Another positive, according to Wright, is that the students need little training in operating the devices and finding information on the web. Plus, he said, enabling the students to use their own devices keeps them more engaged and can curb the fear a child may have to participate in class. The addition of digital devices to the classroom has also had an effect on teachers, according to Assistant Superintendent Maria Betancourt-Smith, who said most instructors recognize that the students may know more about the technology than they do, but that those same instructors have shown a willingness to expand their teaching styles.

“This is sort of a leap of faith for the adults who are not as comfortable with the new technology,” Betancourt-Smith said. “But our teachers have embraced the fact that we’re the immigrants to this culture and sometimes we are going to have to learn from the natives. Once the teachers saw how much more they were able to accomplish in the classroom using these devices, they understood why this technology is revolutionizing education.” Using EBSCO research and other online tools, BetancourtSmith said, the students are learning to be consumers of information, finding reliable sources and separating fact from opinion on the web.

“When I was in school, if I wanted to research something, I would go to the card catalog in the library to find my subject,” Wright said. “It was a process that took forever, but now you can type in a concept or keyword and access information instantly. That is how problems are being solved now and how they will be solved in the future, so we want to make sure our students know how to efficiently use those resources.” Wright said another function of the wireless-friendly campuses is to promote teamwork and idea sharing. Students who do not have access to a digital device are partnered with those who do, creating what Wright says are collaboration skills that

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businesses want to see in their employees. While some in education are doing everything they can to keep these Androids and iPhones out of the classroom, Wright said students in Huntington have not taken advantage of the system by causing disruptions in the educational environment. “The kids feel respected, and that encourages them to do the right thing,” he said. “There will always be that one student who causes problems, but that happens with or without an iPad. Our philosophy is that the majority are using these devices the right way, and we shouldn’t punish them for what the minority does. The students have been super excited about this, and it

has been a positive experience for everyone so far.” Wright added that the teacher is still in control of the learning environment and determines what is appropriate in the classroom. “I walked into one classroom and saw that some of the students had earphones in. They were listening to music while they work on research papers,” he said. “Some may see that as misuse, but that is what they do at home, what they will do in college and it is exactly what I do when I’m working on something. The way I see it, whatever works for them, as long as they are on task.” Nick Wade’s email address is


Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Gear Up Continued from Page 3J more rigorous and aligned with what colleges want without properly trained staff,” Evans said. “School, like any other business, spends the most money on salary. When resources are cut, the last thing anyone wants to do is cut people, because that doesn’t only hurt those people and their students, that hurts the entire community. So the first thing to go is staff development, supplies, resources, and that is where we are now. But this grant can pay for some of those things that went away. Things are changing so fast with technology and it is having a huge impact on education, so our teachers need to know the best way to educate our kids. But we just haven’t had the money for that much needed development.” The GEAR UP grant also provides funds for tutoring, summer programs, leadership and mentor programs, along with increasing the ability to interact with parents through meetings, information sessions and newsletters. Evans would also like to see some of the funds used to supply the students with the latest educational technology. “We can also use some of this budget to purchase technology for the students,” she said. “We did a good job in the past, as technology advanced, of equipping our teachers; now I want to get it into the students’ hands. Keeping up with technology is something that is going to be extremely beneficial to the students, but even beyond that, we have seen that when you put technology in their hands, the students really respond and it improves their outlook on education.” Any technology that is purchased for the students covered by the grant will remain in whichever grade level for which it is purchased, making it sustainable for future students. For example, if this year’s seventh-grade students received iPads for a science class, the iPads would stay in that science class for next year’s seventh-graders as well. In the past, the program has been successful in promoting post-secondary education, be it a university, community college or technical school. The number of applications to these institutions rose, but that alone did not ensure student success. “We saw a big increase in the number of students who actually applied for some type of post-secondary education,” Evans said. “In fact, when the seventh-grade class that was part of the grant graduated high school, all the of the students were accepted to a post-secondary institution. But what we saw after the number came back the next year is that many of the kids didn’t actually enroll and attend these institutions.” While school funding politics, classroom equipment needs and staff development all factor into the ability to educate students, there are also life-related realities outside of the classroom that Evans said has to be a focus to ensure post-secondary success. “The feedback we got was a shot of reality,” she said. “One of the most common reasons why a student didn’t attend college or whatever else they were accepted into was that they didn’t have reliable transportation to get

Seniors there. Things like owning a car are not usually something that we have control of, but those responses give us a platform to approach financial literacy with students and talk about the realities of post-secondary education and the things that students need to be aware of and be able to achieve in order to set themselves up to succeed. We did a good job encouraging students to apply for college and technical schools, and we succeeded in creating a college-going culture, but our focus now is going to include some of the more realistic things — like getting to and from class, attending classes and all the things it takes to actually be there.” That success in postsecondary education, is something Evans believes is crucial to students being able to have successful careers. Evans said that while a high school diploma was once enough to ensure employment, now the country’s relentless engine of technological development, fueled by increasingly fierce global competition, has required an ever-growing pool of workers savvy enough to integrate these sophisticated new tools into their work routines. As an outcome of these technological changes, there has been a persistent and ongoing demand for more post-secondary education and training. “It is a global world and the job market has changed. Even things like manufacturing jobs have changed, because employers put so much money into these new machines, they want them operated by well-educated workers who understand their concepts. In terms of the job market, physical labor is now becoming mental labor,” Evans said. “With so many students coming from single-parent homes and low-income families, they may not have the same support systems that other kids have. It is a different world, things have changed, and education is the key for these kids. I’m afraid they will be lost without it.” GEAR UP is a program that is vital to breaking poverty cycles in communities, according to Evans. She listed parent knowledge as one of the keys to student success. The rationale is that once parents are informed about financial aid and other educational options, it will be easier for students to navigate the college landscape. Evans said she hopes to set up a fund where community members can contribute to students who are planning to continue their education after high school. For now, she plans on maximizing the GEAR UP grant’s potential, which she hopes will increase the potential of the students and the community. “This type of grant can go a long way and make a big difference in the community,” Evans said. “Look at how much it cost to educate a person, but then look at how much it costs if that person is not educated and they end up on federal aid, or in prison or rehab or any other social service that is paid for by taxpayers. If that investment is made in education, then it is more likely the person will be able to find a job and have the ability to contribute to the system, rather than be supported by it. That is what changes a community for the better.” Nick Wade’s email address is

Continued from Page 6J

Micah Powell/The Lufkin News

Along with the Drill Team (above), PCA has expanded its programs to include a Gifted and Talented program, UIL academic teams and new sports teams, as the school will be competing in UIL athletics this fall.

school’s students. “Our bread and butter is academics, but we want to give our students chances to broaden their interest and their perspectives,” Marchand said. “We want them to know what it means to excel in all areas of life. Our motto is that we are getting students life-ready.” Marchand credited his staff with being the driving force behind the progress at PCA, saying that having teachers who care about kids is what makes everything else work. Smith seconded the comment, saying the PCA staff is like a family, and they have all grown together. “We have awesome teachers here, and one thing about our school is that as a staff we listen and consider everyone’s ideas for improvement,” Smith said. “This year has opened up into a lot of things for us. We have been working hard toward having the same opportunities that larger schools do, and to see it actually happen is very exciting.” Nick Wade’s email address is

Band Continued from Page 5J said. “They have a safe group of friends. They look out for one another, and they have healthy relationships with their peers. That is something that band encourages.” Not only has the band provided positive social results, but academics have improved as well, according to Principal Chad Smith. When Lambert asked Smith what stood out to him about the emergence of the

program, Smith said students in the band had seen improved attendance and grades. “We haven’t had a single student fail a course for the year,” Lambert said. “Those that may be struggling during the nine-weeks period always turn it around, because they know that they can’t play if they don’t.” Lambert attributed the program’s success to the desire of the students and the support of the community, the school board, the principal and the su-

perintendent. Moving forward, Lambert said he has a pep band in the works to play at basketball games. “We don’t want the band to be an isolated entity, but rather a catalyst for school spirit and student involvement,” Lambert said. “We want to continually enhance the community by marching in parades and being visible.” Eventually, with the band’s size growing, Lambert hopes to be able to practice and store

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

equipment in a band hall that can accommodate the full group. “Everyone understands that would be a huge commitment for the district, considering the state of the economy and the scarcity of funding for new programs,” Lambert said. “We have initiated an intensive search for grants, and we are doing everything we can, but we are getting a little bit beyond what we can accomplish on our own, without more community help.” Lambert said that he, as well as the district, is in uncharted territory at this point, but will trust things to work out the same way they have since the program began two years ago. “As we add one grade each year, we don’t know what high school will hold,” he said. “We know we are going to have an even greater need for funding going forth and that any help would be greatly appreciated, but if there is a way for things to work out, I believe our community, our district and our superintendent will make it happen. There is not better advocate for student opportunities and involvement than Mr. Garner. This is new for everybody. We are out of the beginning stages and into the big leagues.”

French horns, trombones and baritones of the Central Junior High band.

Nick Wade’s email address is

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Central Junior High band students put away their instruments at the end of practice.


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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Zavalla community invests in school construction By NICK WADE The Lufkin News ZAVALLA — New buildings mean construction, and construction means money. No one understood that more than Zavalla ISD Superintendent David Flowers in 2009 when a bond construction election and a tax ratification appeared on the same ballot in Zavalla. When the voting was complete, Flowers knew exactly where his community stood when it came to education. “For the people in this community to pass a bond construction and a tax ratification on the same ballot, that shows how much they care about this school,” Flowers said. “It also goes a long way in showing that we are all in this together,

be in state-of-the-art facilities, using the best tools there are for education.” Flowers said the district spent the bond money efficiently, completing all of the construction projects under budget, thus freeing up funds to remodel floors and restrooms that were more than 60 years old. Zavalla was able to ensure that students were not using restrooms from the 1950s thanks to the support of the community. Flowers said he hopes school funding issues with the state will be resolved, and that the solution will take some of the weight off of communities like his own. “Zip code shouldn’t matter. One of the big things that all of us, the superintendents in

they can for our students.” Flowers also credited the E.L. Kurth Foundation for being he described as a “saving grace” for Zavalla and other schools in the county. “They have blessed us with close to $200,000 in my short time here, and we cannot thank them enough,” Flowers said. “They have helped us purchase laptops for teachers, new projectors, and computers for our labs and libraries. The Kurth Foundation is proeducation and pro-Angelina County, and has truly been a great friend to this school district.” Zavalla ISD also finds itself as one of the leaders in a new Nick wade/The Lufkin News educational trend called “noteWith multiple stand alone buildings presenting safety and efficiency issues, Zavalla ISD’s new wing booking,” a non-traditional connected the buildings and created a main entry way. way of encouraging students

“For the people in this community to pass a bond construction and a tax ratification on the same ballot, that shows how much they care about this school.” David Flowers

Zavalla ISD Superintendent

100 percent. The community really blessed us by voting for that bond.” One of the reasons for the bond was the need for a new wing that would combine the younger grade-level campuses with one another and with the cafeteria. “All of our buildings here used to be standalone,” Flowers said. “There was no main entrance, and that was a safety concern for us. What we were able to do with the bond construction money was drop a wing right in the middle of the buildings and connect everything.” This is the first year that Zavalla students have been in the district’s new building, and Flowers said the response has been extremely positive from both the school and the community. “It has been a great morale boost for our teachers and our students,” he said. “These parents are sending the prize possessions of their hearts to us, and they want those kids to

this county as well as others in the state, have been pushing for is equity and adequacy when it comes to funding,” Flowers said. “Every public school in Angelina County is toward the bottom in funding, and what we want is for our kids to have the same opportunity as everyone else. Hopefully the state will change its stance when it comes to funding, but the way it is looking, it is going to take the courts to make that change.” Flowers added that while his, and other Angelina County schools, are low on the state funding end, they are more than adequate when it comes to producing quality students. “With funding the way it is, we have relied on other things in order to give our students the best educational experience and the most opportunities moving forward,” Flowers said. “We have teachers and staff who care, and put in a tremendous amount of time and work to do everything

to take notes. Notebooking is a concept that combines foldables, 3-D pop-ups and various other shapes that are designed by students with whatever information they feel is important to remember about a particular lesson. For example, the students folded and cut out an accordion shape, and then wrote notes on it about the “Bill of Rights.” When the lesson was over, the students folded the shape down to a compressed version and taped it in their notebooks. “It’s a lot more hands-on, and more fun than just writing what’s on the board,” said eighth-grader Hanna Eddings. She joined seventhgrader Makaela Eastwood and teacher Cathy Lott for a video conference with the East Texas Piney Woods Region VII Education Service Center during which the girls showed off their own notebooking skills and answered questions from other teachers around the region who were interested in

acquiring the craft. “It was a great honor for Zavalla,” said Lott, who is a product of Zavalla ISD herself. “And we were happy to share and discuss notebooking with other teachers and students because it something that we have found is very successful with our students. It is a creative way for them to organize and learn the material. It’s very visual, and the ownership aspect of their notebooks keeps the students engaged and motivated.” The next thing on tap for Zavalla ISD is “Zavalla Reads.” The event will be held at 10 a.m. May 10, when the school will invite the entire community to devote 15 minutes to reading. School board members and other community figures will be on hand in the library to read with students, while the school is sending books to restaurants and other local businesses so that anyone in town can stop and read along.

Nick wade/The Lufkin News

The new library on campus will play host to “Zavalla Reads” in May, when the school invites the entire community to “read with the Eagles.”

Nick wade/The Lufkin News

Makaela Eastwood (left) and Hanna Eddings (right) joined teacher Cathy Lott during a video conference with the East Texas Pineywoods Region VII Education Service Center to demonstrate Nick Wade’s email address is the concept of “notebooking” to other teachers and students in the region.


Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news



• 2 TEA Exemplary Campuses • 4 TEA Recognized Campuses • Partner with Purdue University Engineering • Dual Language Magnet Program • Gifted/Talented Magnet Programs • Full Day Prekindergarten and Kindergarten • Hewlett Packard National Elementary Technology Campus • Duke Talent Awards 7th grade • 46 AP & Pre-AP Course Offerings • Dual credit with Angelina College • National Champion Career/ Technology Classes • State Recognized Robotics Team • Destination Imagination • IGNITE Mentoring program • Nationally Recognized Reading Programs • State Renowned Performing Arts, Band, Choral Music, Theatre, & Dance

Since 2000: • 26 National Merit Finalists • 39 National Merit Commended Scholars • 3000+ Academic Letter Jackets Awarded • 4 UIL Academic Championships • 3 Bill Gates Scholars • LHS Alumni Association with $4 million Scholarship Endowment LHS Graduates Attend: Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Emory, Vanderbilt, University of Texas, Rice, Texas A& M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Tulane, Trinity University of North Carolina, TCU, Southwestern, University of Alabama, SMU, Annapolis Naval Academy, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State University

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Welcome to the Lufkin Independent School District. The mission of the Lufkin Independent School District is to ensure student success through high expectations, a focus on student learning, creating challenging and engaging classrooms, and a commitment to continuous improvement. With increased accountability standards for all students and the demands of high stakes testing, Lufkin ISD embraced the need to be proactive in assisting all students in meeting increased performance standards. Lufkin ISD is proud to provide all students with world class educational opportunities. Lufkin ISD students are successful and the Lufkin ISD staff takes pride in that success. Lufkin ISD has two “Exemplary” campuses and four “Recognized” campuses. In 2010-2011, Lufkin High School was the only TEA “Recognized” 5-A high school in the entire East Texas area. Like many districts, Lufkin ISD has wrestled with increases in population and the challenges of providing adequate facilities while being faithful stewards of taxpayer money. In November of 2007 this community passed a $49.5 million bond initiative to address three main areas of need in facilities and programs. These needs relate to campus safety and security, program and facility upgrades, and provisions for student growth. In 2011-2012 all projects, except the renovation of Garrett Primary, are complete. These projects guarantee that the students of Lufkin ISD have world class facilities, safe and secure campuses, and a positive atmosphere for learning. The community continues to demonstrate public confidence in Lufkin ISD. Lufkin ISD offers successful, competitive, and challenging programs to include: world class dual language magnet programs, gifted and talented magnet programs, full-day prekindergarten instruction for three and four year olds, full day kindergarten programs, full day programs for students with autism, deaf education, and PPCD programs for early childhood. Lufkin ISD puts the needs of every student in the forefront. Lufkin ISD strives to recognize academic excellence and challenge every student to reach his full potential. Come and experience what it means to be part of the Panther Nation on any fall Friday night and you will see an entire town turned out to support a world class football team, band, drill team, cheerleaders, to name a few. It’s a community event of massive proportions. It’s Panther Pride. For some towns, it might just be a slogan on a t-shirt. For Lufkin, it’s a great time to be a Lufkin Panther!



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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news



Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Recent rains help Sam Rayburn Reservoir rise closer to normal

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Sam Rayburn shoreline. Since March 1 the lake has reportedly risen 3 feet and is now at 160 feet above mean sea level thanks to recent heavy rains. Its normal level is 164.4 feet. By JESSICA COOLEY The Lufkin News


hile last summer cars were seen driving out onto dry lake beds (something that’s actually against the law), Sam Rayburn Reservoir is on the rebound with a surge of rainfall this year. According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake manager Bart Dearborn, since March 1 the lake has risen three feet, to 160 feet above mean sea level. It is now only four feet shy of its normal level of 164.4 feet, Dearborn said. “We’re happy with where we’re standing today,” he said. “We’re still in a time of year where this region sees rainfall, so there is the possibility the lake will come up with additional rain. There’s no determination we’re in the clear yet, though.” The record low was set in 1996 at 150.78 feet. Last November the lake level was just shy of that at 150.79, becoming a dry stump bed visible from the state Highway 103 east bridge. Overseeing the lake’s daily operations, Texas Parks and Wildlife District Capt. Shawn Phillips said he’s beginning to

see lake traffic return to normal. “The lake has risen a lot. Even with the drought, activity and traffic has been as busy as normal,” Phillips said. “The fishing has been really good for crappie and white bass.” Although the lake appears to be on the mend, its economic impact is still suffering. Under normal conditions, the waters in Sam Rayburn can be released through the two 26,000-kilowatt hydroelectric generators to produce an annual average of more than 118 million kilowatts of electricity for users in Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. Due to the lack of water, electricity production at the dam ceased in October and remained at a halt as of mid March. With limited lake access, there is less boating and tourism on the lake, which means fewer potential customers for shops like Lowery’s and Brooks Grocery, both located near the lake’s 103 east bridge. “I know recreation is a big piece of the local economy, and any time there is an impact to the recreation it affects our local communities,” Dearborn said. “The biggest impact to the public is where they can access the lake.”

As of mid March all primary boat ramps were open except for those on the north end of the lake. Dearborn said the Corps of Engineers is considering the reopening of two access sites on the north side of the lake. “We’re optimistic, but we know they’re anticipating another dry year,” Dearborn said. “We’re headed in the right direction.” Regardless of lake conditions, Dearborn reminded people to be cautious while out on the water. “People need to be familiar with the reservoir and familiarize themselves with the area,” he said. “Wear proper safety equipment, play it safe and protect yourself by wearing a life jacket.” Construction on the dam began in 1956 with deliberate impoundment of water beginning in 1965, according to the Corps of Engineers. A year later the lake reached its normal level. The project — authorized by Congress in 1955 for flood control, hydroelectric power generation and conservation of water for municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational uses — cost roughly $66 million. Jessica Cooley’s email address is

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

November 2011 the lake level was 150.79 feet, just shy of the 1996 record low of 150.78.

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

According to Wildlife District Capt. Shawn Phillips lake traffic is beginning to return to normal.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Good Nightlife

Lufkin CVB events bring foot traffic downtown; Robert Earl Keen to play at second Summer Fest By DENISE HOEPFNER The Lufkin News

ter in Texas, Watson-Watkins is looking to surpass those numbers this year. f you bring it, they will come. “We’re looking at going to two That’s what Lufkin blocks,” she said. “We’re going Convention and Visitors to go with anywhere from 800 Board Director Tara to 1,000 people, and I Watson-Watkins has think we can sell that learned after a series out.” of new and successful The popularity of sold-out events. the Bistro had people With Lufkin’s Bisasking for it to be held tro, Corks and Forks more than once a and Summerfest, year. Watson-Watkins Watson-Watkins has answered with Corks given local foodies and and Forks, a smaller, music enthusiasts a indoor food and winereason to turn off the Tara Watson-Watkins pairing event held in television and head February that also out on the town. Out-of-towners incorporated live music and an are taking notice, too. art auction. Having lived in Ft. Worth, “People kept asking for a Dallas and Austin before moving second Bistro, so we decided we back to her hometown, Watson- would do it on a smaller scale Watkins said she missed some and I knew we needed to do it


a.m. and tickets are $15 each.” For $150, teams can compete in the annual Backyard Barbecue Cook-off in any or all of four categories, Watson-Watkins said. “They can do chicken, pork butt, ribs or brisket. We just ask that they cook enough to provide samples,” she said. “Last year we had 24 cook teams, and we’re looking to double that this year.” With new partnerships, Watson-Watkins has already seen the results of cross-marketing events. “Last year we sent out postcards to every single rider who had ever participated in a Purgatory saying, ‘Come and enjoy Purgatory, but stay an extra day and play.’ We actually had 94 riders and spouses that stayed an extra night for Lufkin’s Bistro, which is great.” Using the same strategy

JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

Corks & Forks at Abrams in downtown Lufkin. of the benefits of big-city life, namely the opportunity for enjoying a night out on the town. When I moved back home, I really missed sitting outside, having a glass of wine and eating good food with my friends,” she said.

indoors because of the weather,” Watson-Watkins said. Tickets for the event, which was held at downtown venue Abram’s, sold out quickly. “We had 300 tickets that sold in a week-and-a-half,” she said. While guests at Corks and

brought in nearly a dozen people who booked hotel rooms for Corks and Forks, Watson-Watkins said, although she expects that number to grow. “We sent out letters to everyone who had been to a Lufkin’s Corks & Forks at Abrams in downtown Lufkin. Bistro,” she said. “It starts out

“I think downtown Lufkin is really becoming a great, little fun spot.” Tara Watson-Watkins

Visitors Board Director

After she took over the job as head of the CVB, she realized others were hungry for the same thing when she began receiving calls to bring back the formerly popular “A Taste of Lufkin.” “I think people were just longing for something to do,” she said. “That’s really where Lufkin’s Bistro came about.” With the “A Taste of ...” series of events copyrighted by the Restaurant Association, WatsonWatkins decided to instead create Lufkin’s Bistro, giving it her own spin by making it an outdoor nighttime event featuring live music held downtown. “I think downtown Lufkin is really becoming a great, little fun spot,” she said. “The first year we sold 350 tickets, with a couple of hundred on a waiting list. This past year we sold more than 500 tickets, with a couple of hundred on a waiting list, as well.” Because bigger is always bet-

Forks enjoyed food and wine samples from various eateries and wineries, a trio of local artists worked on renditions of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in various mediums. The finished paintings were auctioned at the end of the evening, with money raised for scholarships. “We really wanted to show off our art community,” WatsonWatkins said. “We raised about $550 that night that went in our scholarship fund with the money we raised with the Bistro. This is our second year to give $1,000 scholarships to three graduating seniors.” Summer Fest Texas, a music festival at the George H. Henderson Exposition Center that incorporates a barbecue cook-off with live entertainment, will be back for a second year, WatsonWatkins said. “Robert Earl Keen is our headliner,” she said. “It will be held May 19, the gates will open at 11

small, then it grows.” Filling the extra hotel rooms and “putting heads in beds” is what makes a CVB event successful, Watson-Watkins said, because the organization receives the taxes on hotels and motels. “Even though that’s where my money comes from, I know, and the board is very conscious that, you have to start with your hometown people first,” WatsonWatkins said. “Once the local people buy in, then it spreads like wildfire. We have seen that. We have people coming back from Louisiana for Summer Fest; we had that with Bistro. We’re getting recurring visitors, which is really a fun thing.” For more information about the CVB, including upcoming activities, go to For more information about Summer Fest Texas, go to Denise Hoepfner’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Christian foundation helps people succeed as foster parents

Lufkin trail coordinator telling people about little-known bicycle routes By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News

riders get closer to Zavalla. The one of these hills, they might end up swimming in the creek, most challenging section of the route begins with multiple steep because there is no guard rail recovering economy climbs up what the beneath the bridge. and a little extra cash in To avoid that seclocal residents refer to the pocket means more tion, riders can as Moss Hill. After this time for leisure activities for climb, riders are on ride to a crosswalk many people. the downhill portion a short distance For those who want to stay of the ride, continuing from the trail that fit and trim while experiencing will cross over First though pine stands the Texas Forest County landmanaged by the U.S. Street. scape, there are bicycle routes Forest Service. RidThe 27.5-mile Airin Lufkin and around Angelina port Loop is one of ers then go through County for riders of all experi- the longer beginner Huntington, the last Aaron Friar ence levels. stop before pushing on rides throughout Using global positioning to the final stretch into the area, providing a system technology, Lufkin Trail steady uphill climb for beginLufkin. The route also takes Coordinator Aaron Friar has riders around a portion of Sam ning cyclists to increase their spent the last year mapping endurance. Friar said there are Rayburn Reservoir. various bicycle trails and catThe route begins at Lufkin some unique sights along this egorizing them into difficulty High School at 309 S. Medford route that include Pine Valley and experience levels — begin- Race Track and the Angelina Drive, where there is parking ner, intermediate, advanced, next to Abe Martin Stadium. County Airport. Cyclists will family and mountain biking. When students are attending also pass behind the Crown Colony subdivision and Ange“The bicycle routes have class, cyclists should call the


MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News

Bethany James intake director of The Bair Foundation stands outside the Lufkin office located on Turtlecreek Drive. The Bair Foundation provides homes to more than 70 children across Angelina County who have been abused or neglected. JOEL ANDREWS/The Lufkin News

By micah powell The Lufkin News


Christian foster care ministry in Angelina County prides itself on saying yes when others say no.

tions about foster children and that most of them are negative. She contends that the majority of foster children are just normal kids, and she urges foster parents to focus on why a child acts out rather than focusing on

be right alongside them as they start their new journey as foster parents. “As a foster parent we don’t ask you to make a lifetime commitment to a child, we ask you to make a meaningful commitment

“As a foster parent we don’t ask you to make a lifetime commitment to a child, we ask you to make a meaningful commitment to a child’s life.” Bethany James

intake director of The Bair Foundation’s Lufkin office

It’s their motto. The Bair Foundation. The Bair Foundation has grown since being founded by Bill Bair in Pennsylvania in 1967 to include 37 offices in eight states with the goal of providing therapeutic foster care to thousands of children across the nation. The foundation’s goal is that foster parents trained and equipped by Bair can become role models for the children they take in and even the parents looking to get their lives back on track. Bethany James, intake director of The Bair Foundation’s Lufkin office, said there is an abundance of children in the Angelina County area who need foster parents. “For all those kids that need to be adopted, there’s so many more that need a temporary home so Mom and Dad can get it together and work out their family situation so the kids can come home,” James said. James acknowledges that many have preconceived no-

the act itself. “We urge them to remember the emotion behind the behavior and not taking the behavior personally, which is very hard to do sometimes,” James said. “You may have a child that comes in your home that never smiles and never laughs and may be awful all week, and then they hug you and it makes everything worth it.” Bair provides a three-part process to becoming a foster parent that is usually completed within 60 days. The first step is a group study process, also referred to as Foster Parent University, that takes 16 hours spread over four classes and teaches the potential foster parents about what it means to be a foster parent. The second step is the evaluation process in which foster parents are assigned a home study date that includes a thorough investigation of their background and home. The third and final stage is all about support. Bair strives to support its foster parents and aims to

to a child’s life,” James said. “You may have a child in your home for two weeks or two years or until they turn 18 and go to college. You can be very meaningful to a child just by showing them love and just showing them positive attention.” Currently Bair has 24 families spread across East Texas, as far away as Joaquin and Hardin. James said interest in Bair is starting to peak, but some families are put off by the price at the pump. “We’ve gotten more inquiries lately. However, the hard part is that because they are from so far sometimes they’re turned off from having to come to Lufkin if they’re from Jasper or Kirbyville, with gas the way it is.” Bair is hoping to expand its offices to Beaumont to alleviate some of the pain in travel. For more information on The Bair Foundation, visit or visit the Lufkin office at 1403 Turtle Creek Drive. Micah Powell’s email address is

The Azalea Trail begins in Grace Dunne Richardson Park and follows a winding route through south Lufkin to Kiwanis Park. actually been around for a long time. We have a very active bike club, the Angelina Bicycle Club and the DET-TRAC, the Deep East Texas Trail Route and Access Coalition,” Friar said. “They have been riding for a long time, but it was more word-of-mouth. We had them make a list for us of some of the routes. They helped organize the whole program and build the bike trails.” One example of a bike trail that the whole family can enjoy is the Azalea Trail, a paved trail in the heart of Lufkin and is about 1.9 miles one-way. The trail travels along Hurricane Creek, which is surrounded by hardwood forest. That provides a shaded ride that is great for families and riders looking for a route that is relaxing and absent of motor vehicle traffic. It’s a good route for those looking for a place to teach the little one how to ride a bike or looking for exercise without having to travel far. The route begins at either Grace Dunne Richardson Park or Kiwanis Park. There is parking at both parks or behind Lufkin Mall. According to Friar, the trail is easy to follow and is not very strenuous, but there are areas that need special attention, the most notable being the section of trail that goes beneath the bridge at First Street. That portion has a steep hill on both sides of the bridge that leads down to Hurricane Creek. If riders are traveling too fast on

lina College. Although the route does not extend far from Lufkin, it still provides scenic views of the countryside. The route begins at Brookhollow Elementary School at 1009 Live Oak Lane, and there is parking next to the school. Outside of school hours, parking should not be an issue, but when students are attending classes, riders should call the school at 634-8415 to inquire about parking accommodations. With the exception of U.S. Highway 59, farm-to-market roads and streets within the Lufkin city limits, most roads do not provide a wide shoulder for cyclists to ride on. Those roads can also have narrow turns that limit visibility and have rough surfaces. This is specially true for Box Car Road, and cyclists should ride single file when encountering these obstacles. There is an alternate Airport Loop route that extends the original loop by 12.5 miles and is considered an intermediate route. That route takes riders further out into the countryside and includes sights such as Pine Valley Race Track and The History Center in Diboll. The Broaddus Loop is one of the longest and more advanced routes in the area. The 72.6-mile route will take riders though mostly Angelina County, but also passes through Nacogdoches and San Augustine counties. The route begins with rolling hills, then travels through the Angelina National Forest. The route is relatively flat until

school’s police department at 630-4410 to inquire about parking accommodations. Because commercial resources to restock supplies can be vast on any of the routes, riders should obtain food and water before departing. Each of the routes utilize public roads that are open to motor vehicle traffic, and cyclists should obey all traffic laws and ride at their own risk. Friar recommends that all cyclists use caution when riding, wear helmets and equip their bicycles with rearview mirrors. The local bicycle trails are likely to get more use as more people find out about them. “They have been around for a while. I just put them on a map so other people can find them,” Friar said. “It’s been a real learning curve this first year. I’ve really been trying to get out and experience these areas and make these maps. A month after we published them, we had over 3,000 hits on the website. A lot of that had to do with the Pineywoods Purgatory (held each fall).” For those new to the sport or to the area and would like more information from experienced riders, visit the Angelina Bicycle Club website at www. For more information on these and more bicycle routes, including maps and turn-byturn instructions, visit Steve Knight’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Lufkin zoo enhances its education offerings, but plans to do even more

Nick Wade/The Lufkin News

A group of Dunbar students stare at a tiger pacing its habitat at the Ellen Trout Zoo. This is now possible via webcam; the zoo recently installed a camera so Dunbar students can view the exhibit while in the classroom. By NICK WADE The Lufkin News

high school agriculture classes, as well as hosting photography classes. or decades, the Ellen “We also do labs for the wildTrout Zoo in Lufkin has life management classes at SFA, provided the community where we cover captive animal with a place to picnic, see exotic management for them,” Henley animals and attend events, but in said. “During the summer, of 2012 one of the biggest highlights course, we have 18 sessions of for the zoo is its ability to proZoo Safari for elementary-aged mote education. students and two sessions of Jr. Local schools, colleges and Zookeeper for middle school stuindividuals alike are utilizing dents. We also do an assortment the zoo’s educational resources of library programs.” daily. From hosting teacher Another important program, workshops to holding summer according to Henley, is the partcamps, the zoo has become a nership with Dunbar Primary’s super-sized classroom for East first-grade PACE classes, which Texas. allows the students to visit the “We offer a variety of prozoo almost every month to learn grams here at the zoo,” said about different concepts of math education director Charlotte and science. Henley. “We do presentations Earlier this month, the zoo for students in pre-kindergarten was able to install a webcam through college. The types of in the tiger exhibit, enabling programs we offer include basic Dunbar students to watch the taxonomy; feeding labs where animals while in the classroom. second-graders learn about “The zoo is essentially a living what animals eat, and get to feed laboratory,” Henley said. “Many them; Texas animals, which natural history subjects that stuincludes endangered species in dents learn in school are everyTexas; as well as animal adapta- day activities and functions in tions and zoo careers.” a modern zoo. In addition to the Henley said the zoo also does normal science-based subjects, special request programs, such we use and demonstrate math as a vet medicine program for concepts. We participate with


Dunbar Primary and Brandon Elementary in their engineering projects, where we teach about pulley systems, building components of exhibits, tensile strength, momentum and a variety of engineering subjects.” One of the primary catalysts for the zoo’s ability to promote and provide education is the education center, located across from the zoo’s administrative offices. “We are able to host science meetings, such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Recreation Forum for Region VIII, the East Texas Black Bear Task Force, and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker/ Louisiana Pine Snake meeting,” Henley said. “We are also able to do teacher workshops, like the ‘Growing Up Wild’ workshop we did last month. We had teachers from Lufkin, Palestine and Longview attend. We host teacher planning for Lufkin ISD, as well.” The zoo’s education center also served as a host for the U.S. Forest Service Fire Command Center during the wildfire outbreak last fall, and the building is used as a staging area for the Zoo Boo, Zoo Brew and other

special events sponsored by the Friends of the Zoo organization. Henley said she understood the importance of working with local schools, and that the zoo sees the benefits as students get older. “Students get a more handson experience and a real-life experience of the subject matter they are learning in school, and it’s fun,” Henley said. “Additionally, we are able to provide a resource to teachers who don’t always feel comfortable teaching science. The zoo receives in return a more informed citizen, support for conservation programs and community support of the zoo and its goals. We are proud of our continued collaboration with Lufkin ISD on all levels.” Henley said the zoo plans to continue using its educational resources to host more teacher workshops and more special events in the future. “We want to continue Bear Awareness Day/Bears, Blooms and Butterflies,” Henley said. “We’d also like to add a special day for bats, since the United Nations has declared 2012 the Year of the Bat. We have the potential to do temporary exhibits in our Jaguar Room, but we haven’t moved in that direction yet. I would like to offer a college level course on zoo biology through either Angelina College or SFA.”

Nick Wade/The Lufkin News

A zoo employee talks to children about a young giraffe.

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Nick Wade/The Lufkin News

Pictured above is Ellen Trout Zoo’s education center. The zoo is making the most of its ability to educate the community, including hosting teacher workshops, summer camps, and a variety of special request programs.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

The perfect church for people who aren’t

Brothers Keeper worship service growing in popularity “We wanted to have a place where people could come as they are to get away from over emotionalism and over traditionalism to just have a place to come worship the Lord.” Dave Sarver

Brothers Keeper pastor



hurches like Brothers Keeper are growing in popularity as people look for a nontraditional atmosphere to awaken something in their souls. It’s the perfect church for those who aren’t, according to pastor Dave Sarver. With his long hair, beard and tattoos Sarver is taking on the traditional approach of “paint by number” Christianity. After pastoring in a mainstream church for four years Sarver said he was burned out on seeing

“We’re unique in that we don’t do membership. We tell people, ‘If you like it, hang out as long as God wants you here.’” Dave Sarver

Brothers Keeper pastor

people just going through the motions for the sake of appearances and church politics. “One of the main things we teach here is having a real relationship with God. Not just walk the aisle and say a prayer, but a day to day relationship with God,” he said. He along with his family started the non-denominational church in 1995. The name, Brothers Keeper, comes from the message that we are all our brother’s keepers, he explained. “We wanted to have a place where people could come as they are to get away from over emotionalism and over traditionalism to just have a place to come worship the Lord,” he said. Initially attendance was low but it has grown exponentially in the last seventeen years. The church does not have members, Sarver pointed out explaining “membership” makes people feel like attendance is required. “We’re unique in that we don’t do membership.

We tell people, ‘If you like it, hang out as long as God wants you here. If he sends you somewhere else go,’” he said. “I grew up in church and I felt like you went to church because that’s what you had to do. That’s what Christians did.” With average Sunday attendance currently ranging from 100 to 200 people, Sarver said the church is a melting pot with people from all walks of life. The church’s come as you are attitude is what draws a lot of people in, he said. On Sunday mornings you can find people in anything from jeans and T-shirts to their “Sunday best.” As for the sermon, Sarver said he focuses on scripture. He spends countless hours studying the word of God. Sarver said he has a special fondness for the Hebrew teaching of Christ. “That’s a big thing for me because I believe the Hebrew people are the roots of our faith so I study as much Hebrew as I can,” he said. “I don’t study because I have to, I study because I want to. The more I know, the closer I feel to Him.” While there are many misconceptions about the church, the No. 1 Sarver would like to clear up is it is not a biker church. The church does however have a motorcycle ministry of which it is very proud. The motorcycle ministry, really more a motorcycle outreach, is headed up by Scott Wilcox. Its motorcycle ministry has become a fixture in many Lufkin area events including the annual Christmas toy run. Another misconception Sarver would like to clear up, they don’t handle snakes, he said with a laugh. The church also offers a children’s church for ages 0-8 and youth group on Wednesday nights. To check out what Brothers Keeper has to offer, Sunday service starts around “11-ish,” Sarver said with Sunday school starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday service starts at 7 p.m. For more information contact the church at 4149014 or online at

Contributed photo

The non-traditional atmosphere of Brothers Keeper has grown in popularity over the years. Initially attendance was low but now averages 100 to 200 people at Sunday service.

Contributed photo Contributed photo

Brothers Keeper’s come as you are attitude is what draws a lot of people in according to pastor Dave Sarver.

Pastor Dave Sarver, pictured above, started Brothers Keeper church in 1995 after experiencing burn-out pastoring a mainstream church, seeing members just ‘going through the motions’ for the sake of appearances and church politics.

Jessica Cooley’s email address is The church also offers children’s church and youth group on Wednesday nights.


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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Girl Scouts in Lufkin and worldwide celebrate organization’s 100th year

Contributed photo

Girl Scouts Green Starlettes Drill Team 2012, Senior Division. Top Row, Moira Lockington. Middel row, Nature Card, Ariyonn Garrett. Bottom row, Belen Solis, Victoria Bowden, Katie Martin.

By STEVE KNIGHT The Lufkin News


ccording to Girl Scout history lore, Juliette Gordon Low, known to her family and friends as Daisy, made what would become a historic phone call to her cousin, Nina Pape. “Come right over! I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” Believing that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually, Low brought 18 Savannah, Ga., girls together for the first Girl Scout meeting on March 12, 1912. The goal was to bring girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air. Those first Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, learned how to tell time by the stars and studied first aid. The dream for a girl-centered organization came to fruition. Now in its 100th year, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of more than 2.3 million girl members and 890,000 adult members working primarily as volunteers. More than 50 million women in the country are Girl Scout alumnae. And it’s more than selling those incredibly delectable Thin Mint cookies — alumnae take learned skills and go on to become service, government and business leaders. According to the New Yorkbased organization, 10 of 17 women in the United States Senate and 45 of 75 women in the House of Representatives are former Girl Scouts. Fifty-three percent of all women business owners are former Girl Scouts, and 76 percent of all Girl alumnae report that Girl Scouts had a positive impact in their lives. In a move designed to focus national attention on girls and the issues they face, Girl Scouts of the USA declared 2012 the Year of the Girl, a program designed as a celebration of girls, recognition of their leadership potential, and a commitment to creating a coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals in support of balanced leader-

Contributed photo

Green Starlettes after Veterans Day parade. Top row, Nature Card, Skylar Robertson, Moira Lockington, Belen Solis, Madison McGrath. Middle row, Deneseia Davis, Xavjah Tatum, Areyana Goolsby, Victoria Bowden. Bottom row, Ariyonn Garrett, Jenae’ Menefee, Katie Martin.

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout. — The Girl Scout Law

ship in the workplace and in communities across the country. “The Year of the Girl is only a beginning,” Girl Scouts of the USA Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chavez said in a statement. “We can’t transform American leadership in a year, but we can transform expectations in a year. We can transform awareness in a year. We can set in motion a generational change, and make certain that a baby girl born in 2012 will experience her life in a new and vastly different world. Only Girl Scouts, with its scale and timehonored place in society, can launch this initiative. If not us, who? If not now, when? When girls succeed, so does society. We know that together, we can get her there.” Girl Scouts nationwide are mixing celebrations of the organization’s 100 years as the premier leadership experience for girls with efforts to create a sense of urgency around girls’ issues. “Girl Scouts is at the forefront of building girl leaders,” said Girl Scouts of the USA National President Connie L. Lindsey. “We embrace the opportunity we have to develop the next generation and future generations of leaders that understand the inter-connectedness of the global community. Our girls will

understand that they matter. And when they dream their future, they see a world of shared leadership: where the values of courage, confidence, and character really do make the world a better place.” Angelina County Girl Scouts, part of the Pine Shadows Service Unit of the San Jacinto Council, are also celebrating the landmark anniversary. “It’s very exciting. It’s huge. There’s so much going on, not just in our area, but all over our council and our nation,” said Jame Kouts, the local service unit’s membership manager. “The girls are doing all types of activities to commemorate the birthday, so it’s a pretty exciting time. There are so many different ways that they are marking it. Some people are planting 100 trees in 100 days, and all sorts of different things.” At a Lufkin City Council meeting on March 6, Lufkin Mayor Jack Gorden presented a proclamation proclaiming March 12 as Girl Scout Centennial Day. Those interested in joining, volunteering with or donating to Girl Scouts can call the Lufkin office at 634-5813, call the national headquarters at (800) 478-7248, or visit Steve Knight’s email address is

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Casa volunteers needed By steve knight The Lufkin News

budget alone is $1.2 billion. That does not include all the additional costs, such olunteers from as Medicaid for health care, Lufkin-based Court mental health services, Appointed Special etc. When families get the Advocates of the Pines see services they need — parthe terrible devastation ent education, counseling that abuse takes on chilfor drug and alcohol abuse, dren. assistance with housing According to the Texas and job searches — that Department of Family and benefits the children, famiProtective Services, one lies and taxpayers. Foster child in Texas is confirmed care should be a last resort as a victim of abuse and for children, and CASA neglect every eight minvolunteers work to ensure utes, on average, and one that children move through dies from abuse and neglect the foster care system and every 38 hours, on average. into safe, permanent homes Natalie Thornton, execu- as smoothly as possible.


program and the knowledge Dolores brought to the case, Rebecca’s behavior has greatly improved. CASA is now looking forward to a spring adoption, with Rebecca officially becoming part of her forever family.” Thornton hopes that volunteers will consider contacting her office to learn more about being a CASA, but an additional way to support CASA is to participate in the CASA Superhero 5K on April 21 at Kiwanis Park in Lufkin. Welcoming all runners and walkers, from beginner

“These are children in our community who deserve to grow up in safe, permanent homes where their basic needs — food, clothing, shelter and education are met — where they can live in a home where they are not subjected to or exposed to physical and emotional abuse.” Natalie Thornton

executive director of CASA of the Pines

tive director of CASA of the Pines, said statistics like that are unconscionable. “These are children in our community who deserve to grow up in safe, permanent homes where their basic needs — food, clothing, shelter and education are met — where they can live in a home where they are not subjected to or exposed to physical and emotional abuse,” Thornton said. “We need more CASA volunteers who can help break the cycle of abuse.” Children who have CASA volunteers typically spend

We want to ensure that children do not experience additional trauma through frequent moves, over-medication and lack of the necessary services they need in order to become healthy, contributing adults.” Thornton cited an example of a recent success. The names have been changed to protect confidentiality. “Rebecca was placed in foster care after allegations of physical abuse,” Thornton said. “The very first time Dolores, the CASA advocate, met her, they both connected through the love they share for horses.

to elite, the Superhero Run is an opportunity for participants to become superheroes in the eyes of children who need CASA volunteers to speak for them. “The 10K, 5K and onemile event raises awareness and funds to ensure that someday, every abused or neglected child in the East Texas area will have a Superhero CASA volunteer,” Thornton said. “This one-of-a-kind event will feature costume contests, a children’s area, food and drinks, awards ceremonies and a family-friendly atmoNational Adoption Day Ceremony in Angelina County. sphere. Most importantly,

Contributed photo by Dena Strban

Contributed photo by Dena Strban

National Adoption Day Ceremony in Angelina County. less time in foster care and get the services they need, including medical and mental health services, educational services and, when appropriate, family services to help reunite families. Thornton said it is beneficial when children spend less time in foster care, which also saves taxpayer funds. “Every month less that a child remains in care saves taxpayers $1,835 in just foster care payments,” she said. “When you multiply that amount over the more than 46,000 children who are projected to be in the state’s care this year, the sum is a substantial total of savings. In Texas, the CPS

After Rebecca was placed in a foster-adopt home, she began to act out with consistent tantrums. The behavior was reaching a point that both CASA and (Child Protective Services) were concerned that this family unit was beginning to crumble.” Dolores began working on a solution. “She remembered the knowledge she had about equine therapy and recommended to the foster mom a program offered that she knew could help Rebecca. Through the next few weeks, Rebecca’s energy was redirected, and her negative behaviors subsided,” Thornton said. “Through this therapy

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the event will feature CASA volunteers sharing why they serve as advocates in court for abused and neglected children. You’re invited to dress up as your favorite superhero and walk, jog or run toward a better future for Angelina, Polk, and Houston County children. Help us give every abused child a true superhero — a CASA volunteer.” For more information about the Superhero 5K race or CASA volunteer opportunities, call 634-6725 or visit Registration forms for the race can be downloaded by visiting Steve Knight’s email address is Melody Adams and Michelle Driscoll, two CASA advocates, take their oaths.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

Light at the end of the tunnel for Ratcliff Lake

Officials estimate the park will reopen beginning in June

MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News

This large pine and many others are casualties of the recent drought.

MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News

Ratcliff Lake was ravaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and then fell victim to a tornado in April 2011, followed shortly thereafter by a record-setting drought

By micah powell The Lufkin News


isitors to Ratcliff Lake looking to enjoy the great outdoors are greeted with unwelcome signs as they pull up to the gate. “Closed.” “Danger: Hazard Trees.” It’s been a tough stretch for Ratcliff Lake, to say the least. The recreation area, located in the Davy Crockett National Forest, was ravaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and then fell victim to a tornado in April 2011, followed shortly thereafter by a record-setting drought. “It was like a one-two punch on this thing,” said Ernie Murray, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service. “Hurricane Ike came through and messed up a lot of roads and trees. We got that fixed, and then they had a little twister come through that tore up a lot of trees, uprooted trees and messed up the roads and pulled up asphalt. “We just about got done with that and then the drought just starts hitting and trees start dying left and right. Until we get them taken out, we can’t let the public in because it’s a hazard. People go to Ratcliff not expecting to be in danger of falling trees that might bop somebody in the head.” The centerpiece of the Davy Crockett National Forest, the 45-acre lake is still teeming with wildlife, but the effects of the disaster are evident. Fallen trees litter the popular day-use area, leaving behind dented canoes and paddle boats as casualties. Dying trees, marked in pink, outnumber the fallen and have made hard hats a dress code requirement. Officials with the U.S. Forest Service estimate that between 300-400 trees were killed by the drought of 2011, the worst one-year drought in Texas history. District Ranger Gerald Lawrence said the effects of the drought on Ratcliff Lake were unknown until cleanup from the April

“This is one of the places that generations of families have gone every summer. They’re getting calls from the public wanting to know when it’s going to open, but until you go out there and see it you don’t realize how bad it was.” Ernie Murray

public affairs specialist with the U.S. Forest Service

2011 tornado started revealing that trees unaffected by the tornado were beginning to die in bunches. “We had just finished the tornado salvage, trying to get it reopened, when we started seeing trees start to die that hadn’t been hit by the tornado,” Lawrence said. “Then we realized the drought was starting to impact the recreation area as well. “As a dead tree stands, over time the needles first fall, then the finer branches and then the bigger branches start falling. That’s what we’re most concerned about, the public being beneath one of these. If a strong windstorm were to come through here, it could easily knock some of these trees over.” Campers and fishermen are not the only ones affected by the closing, as area businesses have struggled with a drop in customers and an instable economy. “This serves the community in an economic way, as well,” Lawrence said. “This is one of the main attractions to this area of Texas. We get people from Dallas and Houston coming here. All of the people that come here to visit the lake are helping to keep the economy going in the local area.” There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. Officials estimate that the park will reopen for public use beginning in June, showcasing renovations through-

out the area. A new beach was put in, along with handicap accessible walkways, picnic tables, and new lighting and ceiling fans in covered picnic areas. Murray said he is ready to get the park open MICAH POWELL/The Lufkin News so families can enjoy time in the great outdoors again, but These paddle boats may soon be in use again. Officials estimate Ratcliff Lake will reopen to the the public’s safety is the main public this June. priority. “They’ve done an awful lot of work out there, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Murray said. “This is one of the places that generations of families have gone every summer. They’re getting calls from the public wanting to know when it’s going to open, but until you go out there and see it you don’t realize how bad it was.” Visitors will come to find that the damage done by the natural disasters has changed the look of the park. The area is more open than it once was as a result of the hundreds of dead and dying trees. Lawrence said getting the park reopened is something he looks forward to seeing accomplished, and he hopes the lake can avoid another plague of catastrophes. “We just don’t want any more disasters — earthquakes, volcanoes or anything,” Lawrence joked. “This poor lake has seen about all of it.”

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Sunday, March 25, 2012 the lufkin news

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Spotlight 2012 On the rebound: from recession to recovery  

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