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Sign Up for Great Texas Birding Classic by April 1

AUSTIN – Next month, hundreds of birders will flock to the coast, forests, prairies and mountains of Texas to compete in the nation’s biggest, longest and wildest bird watching tournament. The registration deadline for the 20th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, which runs from April 15 to May 15, is April 1.

CHECK THE TPWD VIDEO AT: https://www.youtube.com/watch…

Since the Classic started 20 years ago, a lot has changed. The competition has expanded statewide to record participation, and it’s no longer just for experts since new categories appeal to budding naturalists and avid birders alike.

Competitors can choose from more than 40 tournament categories to test their birding skills, participating for as little as half a day or as long as a week in a statewide tourney. Participants form a team and compete in such categories as the Big Sit!, in which birders must remain within a 17-foot-diameter circle to count their birds. Other categories include a sunrise-to-noon event, youth-only tournaments, a human-powered contest and one tournament held entirely within Texas state parks.

“The Birding Classic is a wonderful opportunity for bird watching enthusiasts and all nature lovers to gather with family and friends to see how many bird species they can spot in a few hours, a full day, or even a few days in a row,” says Shelly Plante, nature tourism manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “This is a fun event that anyone, regardless of their age or ability, will enjoy.”

Last year, more than 530 competitors competed in the Birding Classic, documenting 413 out of 643 documented avian species in Texas. The 2015 event attracted a record-breaking 100 teams that competed from Far West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to the Golden Triangle in southeast Texas and the Valley down south. The Birding Classic sported family teams, teams of work colleagues, birding buddies having their spring birding get-away together and more.

Registration fees and team sponsorships for the event raise money for birding and habitat conservation, restoration and enhancement grants throughout the state, helping preserve critical bird habitat and support nature tourism. Overall last year, the tournament raised $25,000 for conservation grants—a 40 percent increase from the previous year. Since its inception in 1997, the Great Texas Birding Classic has awarded conservation grants totaling $844,500.

One of last year’s participants, teen birder Hannah Franklin of San Antonio, joined a team sponsored by the Texas Ornithological Society that competed in an age group competition in Central Texas.

“It was an amazing day with wonderful friends, fantastic birds and great leaders,” Franklin says. “I can’t wait for next year!”

To register online and learn more about the tournament, visit www.BirdingClassic.com. This event is made possible by sponsorship and registration fees, donations from event sponsors Toyota and Texas Ornithological Society and the awards ceremony sponsor Audubon Texas.

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Landlords Cry Foul At Proposed Ordinance

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By Jim Bardwell

Have you ever heard the old saying “I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out?” Well, Thursday night there was a city council meeting and a testy public hearing broke out.
While no public hearing was on the official agenda, Gladewater Mayor Harold Wells opened the flood gates by letting audience members voice their opinion on the city’s proposed certificate of occupancy ordinance. And the audience gave the council what for – telling them the ordinance wasn’t needed and if implemented would cost already money-strapped renters (the $35 fee would be passed on by landlords) and result in more expense for landlords, who own about one-third of Gladewater’s housing property – an estimated 750 homes.
The proposed certificate of occupancy ordinance is designed to improve living conditions in Gladewater by forcing substandard housing to be upgraded to current health and safety codes, by requiring mandatory inspections between rent house move-outs and move-ins. However, property owners – who protested the same issue in December 2015 – said these inspections and upgrades would cost them money.
City Manager Theo Melancon and code enforcement officer Al Harrison showed the council and audience multiple photos of local rental homes with holes in the floors, exposed wiring, sewage seeping from faulty plumbing and substandard carpentry.
Before the council could vote on the ordinance, Wells allowed several people in the audience to address the council – and address them they did.
Joan Sturkie, who along with her family own the bulk of Gladewater’s rental property – scolded the council for not asking her advice. She said the council agreed at the December meeting to include landlords in the decision process.
“No one has asked me and I’m two blocks away,” Sturkie said, adding – “What’s your hurry? I don’t want this ordinance.”
She told the council to “do your homework” on whether the ordinance was really needed. She said the city has many other pressing problems – water quality, potholes, trashed out lots – and should address those and leave landlords alone.
Councilman J.D. Shipp asked Sturkie and other landlords who objected to the ordinance if they didn’t think the problems shown in the power point presentation weren’t dangerous and a safety hazard to children. He then offered a compromise after Sturkie’s lengthy talk and other landlords pounded the council.
Wells never enforced a time limit on those who spoke and even allowed people to speak from their seats, rather than stand at the podium as is usual procedure.
After about one hour of discussion the council decided to hold an “official” public hearing in May to discuss the issue further. The council wanted to hold the meeting in April, but Sturkie said she would be out of the country on vacation and unable to attend, so the council voted to wait for her to return to include her in the process.

Photos and Presentation from city manager and city code enforcement HERE

Mr. Theo Melancon – City Manager

Mr. Al Harrison – City Code Enforcement

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March 15, 2016

TYLER – Flood waters continue to necessitate the closure of the following road in the Tyler District:

Gregg County:

  • FM 2087 closed from Loop 281 to I-20

Smith County:

  • FM 1804 closed from south of US 80 to north of US 69

Wood County:

  • FM 1804 closed from south of US 80 to east of US 69
  • FM 1254 closed from north of Loop 564 to west of FM 778

Please visit www.DriveTexas.org and follow @TxDOT on Twitter and TxDOT on Facebook for updates.

A reminder that if you are driving in areas where water is crossing the road, remember #TurnAroundDontDrown.

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easter eggsATHENS—The sixth annual Athens Eggfest is scheduled for Saturday, April 9, at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC).
The event will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cooking will end at 3 p.m.
Regular admission to TFFC will be charged; an additional $5 donation to the Friends of TFFC is required for tasting. Tasting will continue until all the food is gone.Cooks should preregister at http://athenseggfest.wordpress.com/. There is no fee to cook.
Demo eggs used at the event will be available for purchase at the end of the day. Click on the link above to reserve a once-used Big Green Egg ceramic cooker prior to the event.
The Athens Eggfest is sponsored by Morrison Supply, Paragon Distributing, Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy, Friends of TFFC and First State Bank—Athens.
For more information on visiting TFFC, visit www.tpwd.texas.gov/tffc or call (903) 676-2277.

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The annual Highway 271 Progressive Car Cruise is on for Saturday, April 9. It will include Gladewater, Gilmer, Pittsburg and Mt. Pleasant. Over a $1,000 in cash prizes will be given away and door prizes at each stop.
Registration forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce in each participating city. For more information go to Facebook.com/Hwy271.


The 85th Chamber of Commerce Banquet will be held Thursday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. The speaker will be inspirational artist Richard Height. Tickets are $25 each or $200 for a table seating eight. Contact the Chamber for more information. 903-845-5501.


The Songfellows Quartet of Nashville will perform March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church at 300 W. Upshur Ave. (Hwy. 80). There is no charge but a love offering will be taken. The group performs weekly on the Bursh Arbor Jubilee.


The Friends of Lee Library will hold a book sale during Gusher Days April 16 at Lee Library. Book donations are being accepted now and may be dropped off at Lee Library 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays or at the Gladewater Mirror weekdays 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The money raised will support the Children’s Summer Reading Program.


The Gladewater Area Ladies’ Association will hold a Saturday, April 2 fundraiser from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. to raise money for area scholarships for graduating seniors. The admission is $10 which includes a luncheon, games, silent auction and shopping bazaar. Area ladies are warmly invited to attend. For information call 903-918-7549 or 903-845-5501.


The Gladewater Garden Club will meet Monday, March 21 at 2 p.m. at Gardens of Gladewater Clubhouse to hear speaker Jeanette Swahn of Mansfield discuss Organic Gardening. The hostesses for the event are Tammy White, Fritzy Glenn, Peggy Rich, Tish St. John and Marilyn Ussery.


Gusher Days’ activities open with Carnival rides on Thursday, April 14 and officially kicks off with a luncheon on Friday, April 15 with tickets available at the Chamber of Commerce. A bass tourney is o tap of Saturday, April 23.
The event will host craft, commercial and food vendors, free live music and DJS including DJ Jack Fowler “Jack Attack” Saturday 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. The Ragin’ Sound Crew will provide karaoke on Friday night from 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. for kids 16 and under. After 8 p.m. it will be adult performances only.
There will be the annual chili cookoff with nationally competitive chili cooks as well as a local division for chili and beans. Community groups interested in participating need to call Jim Bardwell at 903-845-2235.
The Friends of Lee Library will host a book sale at the library from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with all proceeds going to the Children’s
Summer Reading Program.
With a car show, a parade, carnival rides and great shopping this is a not to be missed event. Check the Gusher Days website for more information and signup forms for events and contests.


Story Time at Lee Library is every Wednesday at 11 a.m. with coloring activities after the story time. All activities are free to the public. The library is located at 312 W. Pacific Ave. in Gladewater. For more information call 903-845-2640.


Union Grove juniors are hosting Lion G-Force days March 15 and April 14 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to raise money for prom. G-Force is an indoor trampoline and karting complex at 4800 Gilmer Road in Longview.


The Gladewater Opry will host April Sanders, Lance Moore, Dorothy Hinman, Rodney Walls, David Allen, Shara Stanley, Bennie Davis, Danny Turrentine and The Texas Smoke Band at 8 p.m. Adult tickets are $10 and children’s tickets are $5.


Grace Baptist Church at 212 E. George Richey Road will hold a revival March 16-20 with Ohio evangelist Jared Williams bringing the message. Services Wednesday through Saturday are at 7 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Jim Withers is pastor of the family of faith.


Walk Across Texas sponsored by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension will hold a kick off event April 1 at Gregg County Courthouse at 101 E. Methvin in Longview. The program will set the goal of an eight week walking program. For information contact Tami Putnam, FCS Agent at 903-236-8429 or email at tami.putnam@ag.tamu.edu.


GILMER–Two books will be read to small children at both of the Upshur County Library’s two weekly “Storytime” sessions Thursday.
“The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever” by Teddy Slater, and “Ten Lucky Leprechauns” by Kathryn Heling, will be read at the 10 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. sessions at the library, 702 W. Tyler (which is also Texas Hwy. 154.)
A craft will follow Storytime, said Debbie White of the library’s Children’s Services division.
The events are free to the public, but children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call the library at (903) 843-5001 or visit its website at www.youseemore.com/upshur.


GILMER–Financial sponsors are still being sought for the 5th Annual Special Olympics Field Day, to be co-sponsored April 1 at Jeff Traylor Stadium by the Kiwanis Club of Gilmer and Upshur County Shared Services Arrangement.
Those wishing to donate may contact Carter at 903-790-1311 or c_carter@stanleyautogroup.com. Checks should be made payable to the Gilmer Kiwanis Club and marked Special Olympics, she said.


The Kilgore College Rangerettes will present Rangerette Revels April 6-9 in Dodson Auditorium on the Kilgore campus.
Shows are set for 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, April 6-8, and two performances on Saturday, April 9, at 1 and 7 p.m.
The show’s theme is “The Show Must Go On” and will include a variety of dance genres including the Rangerettes’ signature “high kick” production for the finale.
Tickets can currently be purchased online at www.rangerette.com or in-person beginning Wednesday, March 16, at the Rangerette Box Office located on the first floor of the Rangerette Gymnasium on the Kilgore campus.
The box office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Tickets are $25 each and are seats all reserved. For more information, contact the box office at 903-983-8179.


St. James Missionary Baptist Church on March 19 will host a Musicians’ Appreciation at its 6 p.m. service.


The Lions’ Club will hold a flower and plant sale on April 2 from 9 a.m. until noon at the derrick downtown. There will be a wide variety of hanging pots and flower selections for spring. The proceeds will go toward their scholarship program.


A “Bass-N-Babies Fishing Tournament” to benefit the Hannah House Maternity Home near Gilmer is set April 9 at Lake O’ The Pines Johnson Creek.
First place wins 10 percent of the total entry fees submitted, and is guaranteed to be at least $1,000, plus an extra $500 if the boat was purchased from Plano Marine. Total payout to anglers will be 50 percent of the entry fees.
The overall event includes two-man teams and five-fish stringer/boats. Early entry fee, due by April 1, is $125 per boat while entry fee afterward is $150 per boat, and those fees include lunch starting at 1 p.m.
Final registration opens at 5 a.m. with opening ceremony at 5:50 a.m. The shotgun start is at 6 a.m. with weigh-in from 1-3 p.m.
To register, ask questions, or help sponsor the event, call Darlene Rawlinson of the Hannah House at 903-238-5351.


A special farewell paty will be held March 25 from 6-8 p.m. for Warren City Secretary Vi Melton, who is retiring March 31 after14 years of service. The party will be held at the City Hall.
Everyone is invited to attend and visit with Melton.

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Gladewater, Texas