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The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) latest travel publication is a timely redesign and expansion of the long out-of-print heritage travel guide, The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy. It coincides with this year’s 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail.

What we know today as the Chisholm Trail was a conduit for Texas longhorn cattle to move from South Texas to markets in the Midwest. Despite its relatively short existence from 1867 to the 1880s, the Chisholm Trail made an inestimable cultural impact on Texas and the nation, influencing literature, music, motion pictures, and television.

The Chisholm Trail guide provides a compelling, educational experience for all heritage travelers, whether a local exploring the history surrounding three of the biggest names in cattle—Richard King, George Fulton, and Charles Stillman—and their roles in founding prominent South Texas cities, or a visitor experiencing Fort Worth’s Stockyards National Register Historic District—one of the most popular heritage travel destinations in Texas. These and dozens of diverse cultural and historical destinations across 44 cities, from Brownsville along the Rio Grande to Saint Jo and Nocona near the Red River, offer a glimpse into the rich cowboy culture and heritage of the Lone Star State.

The full-color travel guide is lavishly illustrated with photos, timelines, maps, and educational information on Texas’ heritage, all in an intuitive, pocket-sized brochure. Last printed in 2002, the new version features an all-new design, expanded educational section about the trail, 10 new cities, and information about the companion mobile tour. The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy once again joins other THC guides highlighting a wide range of Texas stories and the places that preserve them.

A mobile app version of the guide is also available for free download. Part of the Texas Time Travel Tours app, the mobile tour adds to the travel experience by offering videos, first-person interviews, maps, and other useful visitor information for exploring cowboy culture and heritage in Texas.

The travel guide and mobile tours are organized around 10 heritage regions in the THC’s nationally award-winning tourism initiative, the Texas Heritage Trails Program. For more information about heritage travel opportunities in Texas, visit, where you can download or order a free copy of the THC’s The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy.


The Texas Historical Commission (THC), the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), and Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) are taking a virtual road trip this summer to promote water awareness. Throughout the month of July, these three agencies will travel across the state looking for two of Texas’ water symbols: windmills and water towers.

The public is invited to join the second annual tour by posting their own photos of water towers and windmills on Instagram. From Luling’s signature watermelon water tower to the Victoria Grist Windmill, interesting opportunities abound across the Lone Star State. Search the THC’s historic sites atlas at to learn about several of the structures with significance in Texas history.

To participate, follow @txwaterdevboard, @texasparkswildlife, and @txhistcomm on Instagram. Post photos from a public profile with the hashtags #txwindmills and #txwatertowers. Include the location and tag the agencies.

The virtual tour runs through July 31. Five participants will be randomly selected to receive a prize from the THC, TPWD, and TWDB. Winners will be notified and announced on Instagram the week of August 1. Photos will be shared on agencies’ social media accounts throughout the campaign period. For complete guidelines and rules, visit


Join the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and learn how to research and apply for an Official Texas Historical Marker for your community. Free THC workshops, throughout the state and online, provide an overview of important historical research fundamentals as participants walk through a sample historical marker application and sample narrative. The workshops encourage consideration of the elements comprising successful marker applications. Topics include determining historical significance and integrity, conducting research, reviewing primary vs. secondary sources, using research tools, writing the narrative, and the roles of the THC and County Historical Commissions in the application process. Historical Marker program staff is offering the following workshops and webinars in the remainder of 2017:

  • July 14: Marker Workshop, Leming (Atascosa Co.)
  • July 25: Marker Workshop, Marshall (Harrison Co.)
  • August 11: Marker Workshop, Jasper (Jasper Co.)
  • August 15: Role of Marker Chair (Webinar)
  • October 6: Refinishing Workshop and Marker Workshop, San Angelo (Tom Green Co.)


Check the THC marker page at for full details and locations. For more information, contact the THC’s History Programs Division at



 Texas is home to more than 900 local history museums that are dedicated to telling the stories that make up a community’s unique history. The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Museum Services program provides training to help museums stay current on best practices and a variety of topics ranging from enhancing visitor experiences to streamlining operational procedures.

Museum Services is offering a series of upcoming workshops about a variety of topics, including the following throughout July:

  • July 26: Telling the Story in Three Dimensions: Exhibit Design and Development, Austin
  • July 25: Know Your Own Bone and Your Audience with Colleen Dilenschneider, Fredericksburg
  • July 27: Know Your Own Bone and Your Audience with Colleen Dilenschneider, Irving


Designed for anyone who works or volunteers at a museum, these informative workshops examine common issues in collections care and offer practical, low-cost solutions on how to solve these problems. For more information including location, instructor, cost, and registration details, visit

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On October 29, 2016, at approximately 9:45 p.m. on rural FM road 49 in Western Upshur County, the Defendant, Randell Jay Phillips, W/M, DOB: 01/17/1975, from Big Sandy, drove his 2006 Chevrolet Avalanche 256 feet off the roadway into a tree.  His two year old grandson, Skylar Rabourn, was killed as a result.  The Defendant was highly intoxicated.  Blood evidence showed that even 31/2 hours after the crash his blood alcohol level was still two times the legal limit.  Skylar was trapped under the front dash in the passenger floorboard and died at the scene.

This Defendant would normally have been charged with Intoxication Manslaughter which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  However, this Defendant had two prior Driving While Intoxicated convictions as misdemeanors from Gregg County, Texas, and we sought a murder indictment under the felony murder statute in Texas.  It is a rare but unique aspect of Texas Law where if a Defendant is in the commission of a felony (in this case felony driving while intoxicated) and they commit an act clearly dangerous to human life and that causes the death of another individual they may be charged with murder.  The evidence showed that this Defendant, the biological grandfather of this two year old boy, placed him, unrestrained, in the front seat of his avalanche and drove head on into a tree while intoxicated.

This was a very difficult case due to the age of Skylar and because the mother of the child, while she knew her father needed to be punished, wished and hoped for a much lesser sentence for her father as she believed he did not mean to cause her son’s death.

This sentence ensures the very strong likelihood that the Defendant will never leave prison alive.  He must serve at least 25 years in prison day for day.  The maximum sentence would have been 30 years day for day.  Phillips waived his right to appeal.

The State was represented by District Attorney, Billy W. Byrd, and Assistant District Attorney, Catherine McQueen.  The Defendant was represented by Longview Attorney, Scott Novy.  This case was set for jury trial to begin tomorrow morning.  Judge Lauren Parish presided over all proceedings.

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The video of Wednesday’s rally can be viewed at:

By Jim Bardwell/Gladewater Mirror

Texas teachers are fed up and they want elected officials in Austin to “Remember Mark White.”

White was elected Texas governor in 1983 thanks to the backing of Texas teachers. And when he didn’t honor his campaign promises made to teachers – they joined forces again and voted White out of the governor’s office in 1987.

An estimated 800 retired and active teachers and school employees who rallied July 12 in Longview on the Gregg County Courthouse lawn want Texas legislators to understand history can repeat itself, so stop cutting teacher benefits and start listening to what teachers say.

Teachers dressed in red for solidarity came from Gladewater, White Oak, Longview, Pine Tree, Union Grove and other Northeast Texas school districts. They were joined by fellow teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance personnel, administrators and others who paid into the Texas retirement system’s pension and/or health insurance from as far away as New Boston and Nacogdoches. They were all urged by rally organizer Suzanne Bardwell to “Use Your Teacher Voice” and let Texas representatives and senators know they plan to vote for the people who support them.

“You are the largest voting bloc in the state of Texas,” Bardwell, a retired teacher of 33 years, told the sea of red that filled the courthouse lawn. “Let me remind you of this: One in 20 Texans is a member of the Texas Retirement System, and teachers and public school employees vote.

“We’ve got to begin using our teacher voices, people. We’ve got to stand together for ourselves. We’ve got to stand for the retirees, and we’ve got to stand for teachers and the public school employees in the system right now.”

The rally was held just ahead of the Legislature’s special session, which began Monday. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, whose wife taught for 30 years, welcomed the large crowd to Longview and “to YOUR courthouse” and urged everyone to get involved and not to become complacent when it comes to decisions made in Austin that affect their pocketbooks and the future of education.

(Read the complete story next week in the Gladewater Mirror)


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A rally to address the needs of public school retirees, current teachers and school districts will be held Wednesday, July 12 at 10 a.m. on the front lawn of the Gregg County Courthouse.

With health insurance costs rising dramatically and with benefits cut for retirees, as well as concerns for the TRS Pension fund which is the sixth healthiest pension plan in the nation and is in danger of being redefined by the legislature, and many other education issues such as school funding, testing, vouchers etc. affecting districts and active teachers, the need for political activism has resulted in rallies including one held last week in Nacogdoches.

The rally goal is to inform the public and let legislators know of the level of educator concern prior to the legislature’s special session beginning July 18.

All public school employees, retirees, their friends and family members are urged to attend the event. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, whose wife is a retired educator, will lead a slate of speakers addressing concerns such as:

* Public schools serve 5.5 million students and Texas ranks 43rd in the nation in teacher salaries.

* Retired teachers have not had a cost of living raise in 16 years.

* The Teacher Retirement System of Texas is the sixth largest public pension fund in the United States serving 1.4 million educators. TRS has more than 375,000 retirees with an average annuity of $2,035 a month while 105,000 retirees (30 percent) receive $1,000 or less per month yet can not draw on social security they have earned in addition to their TRS.

* Currently a 65-year old retiree and spouse’s insurance takes one-third of their pension and those retiring before 65 fall in a gap which is hit harder with insurance costs possibly taking up to half a retiree’s pension.

Public school district issues of concern will also be highlighted.

Chairs will be provided for those who need them.

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Gladewater, Texas