Pastor’s spiritual walk leads him from orphanage to Capitol Hill

As guest chaplain, Rev. Milton delivered the invocation before a session of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

As guest chaplain, Rev. Milton delivered the invocation before a session of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.

As a coach, pastor, and foster parent, Reverend Jerome R. Milton has touched the lives of hundreds of East Texans.

On December 12, 2012, his devotion to spreading the word of God earned him an invitation to lead the U.S. House of Representatives in prayer as guest chaplain. After an introduction by East Texas congressman Louie Gohmert and then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, Milton began the session by praying that lawmakers would find common ground to work for the common good of the nation.

He prepared for that experience through deep reflection. “God said to my heart and my spirit, ‘I’m with you and when you go there. They will hear my words through you. They will hear my through you.'”

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Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from atheist to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from athiest to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron is no stranger to talking about his faith. He’s become one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood.

Actor Kirk Cameron became a pop culture idol as the star of the 1980s hit TV comedy ‘Growing Pains.’ Raised in a family without God, he found his faith while portraying teenager Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom.

Now, as one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood, Cameron is inspiring others by sharing his spiritual walk.

“As a recovering atheist, I look back and I see how God used a friend who invited me to church even though I didn’t have any interest in God, to hear the message of the Gospel, at a time that I was thinking about what life was really all about and what happens after you die and how did we get here in the first place,” Cameron said.

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Advice from a 105-year-old with no intent of slowing down

Advice from a 105-year-old with no intent of slowing down

Northwestern State University’s oldest living graduate, Earline Andrews, turned 105 on Wednesday. We attended NSU nearly 75 years apart.

What a privilege and honor it was Wednesday morning to visit with Tyler resident Earline Andrews on her 105 birthday. She happens to be the oldest living graduate of my alma mater, Northwestern State University! I don’t think she could have been more delighted when we arrived with a beautiful bouquet of flowers on behalf of NSU and balloons from our KLTV morning team.

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories from her time at ‘old Normal,’ short for the college’s former name, Louisiana State Normal College. Andrews explained that Natchitoches, Louisiana has earned a special fondness in her heart. She recalled sleeping on the porch of the girls dorm during warmer months, the plantation bell that signaled the start of each school day, and vivid memories of the famous Christmas lights that adorn the downtown riverbank. Continue reading

Celebrating 60 years of broadcasting in East Texas

Celebrating 60 years of broadcasting in East TexasHappy birthday KTRE! This weekend our station, serving Deep East Texas, celebrated 60 years of broadcasting excellence and service to the community. Hundreds of East Texans, local and state dignitaries, along with KTRE staffers, both past and present, gathered at the studios north of Lufkin for a Texas-sized celebration.

A few families even camped out in the parking lot, hoping to be first in line to register for contests an get autographs from the news team. It proved to be a wise decision, as the winding line snaked across the lot and down the street. We carted folks across the Lufkin State-Supported Living Center campus in golf carts for a first-class arrival. The reward was worth it — hot dogs, snow cones, and all the fixings waited under a tent that felt like a big-top circus was in town. Bounce houses helped the kids burn off energy after pigging out on cookies, cake, and sweets. Continue reading

Emotional ESPN film profiles heroic death, legacy of NFL great Joe Delaney

This month, the heroic story of NFL legend Joe Delaney will be shared with millions of people around the world in ESPN’s latest ’30 For 30′ film. Wednesday night, I got the chance to attend an advance screening of ‘Delaney,’ the short film profiling the life and legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs running back who died in 1983 while trying to rescue three children from drowning in a pond.

The 20-minute documentary, screened at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, beautifully captures an emotional account of Delaney’s tragically short 24-year life and legacy.

The running back from Haughton had an extraordinary collegiate career in both football and track at Northwestern State University. Chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft, Delaney exploded on the field and was selected AFC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and played in the Pro Bowl. Continue reading

Wildly popular ‘The Art of the Brick’ exhibit opens at Tyler Museum of Art

Thousands of people are expected to wind their way through an exhibition featuring thousands of LEGO bricks arranged into 25 large-scale sculptures at the Tyler Museum of Art.Wildly popular 'The Art of the Brick' exhibit opens at Tyler Museum of Art

The Art of the Brick, a global-touring exhibit by Nathan Sawaya, is being hosted at the museum on the campus of Tyler Junior College through September 13.

Opening weekend, the exhibit broke museum records for attendance on an opening day, single-day, and opening weekend.

The Art of the Brick is such a popular exhibition because the artist uses a familiar childhood toy to create powerful and engaging sculptures,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said in a news release. “Children and adults are instantly captured by the creativity and design of these human forms. We’ve gotten calls from as far away as Tuscaloosa, Ala., asking when they can see this show.” Continue reading

Ministers patrolling E. Texas streets through community policing program

Ministers patrolling E. Texas streets through community policing program 01

30 Titus County ministers of various denominations are enlisted in the Clergy And Police Alliance, or C.A.P.A., riding with Mouth Pleasant police officers on patrol.

Rockie Simpler is not a peace officer, but a man of the cloth. Still, his ministry puts him alongside Mount Pleasant police officers — armed only with the word of God.

“This patrol car is my church,” Simpler said. “I use it as a tool to go out and help people with the Lord. I use it to help somebody who has a problem and a need.”

Simpler is among the 30 Titus County ministers of various denominations who are enlisted in the Clergy And Police Alliance, or C.A.P.A. They participate in regular patrols and volunteer for an on-call rotation after completing a six-week training course. Ministers are given an inside look at the duties of law enforcement officers and an overview of the criminal justice system. Continue reading

Shuttle Columbia debris collected in E. Texas goes on public display for first time

The ‘Forever Remembered’ exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center marks the first time artifacts from the shuttle disasters are on public display. (Source: NASA)

A new exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida memorializes the Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart over East Texas in 2003.

The 2,000 square foot exhibit, housed at the Space Center’s visitor complex, features the personal effects of crew members and recovered shuttle hardware from both the ill-fated Columbia tragedy and the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

It marks the first time that artifacts from Columbia will be on display to the public. Much of the debris was collected by East Texas volunteers in a months-long recovery effort that began when the shuttle broke apart on February 1, 2003. Continue reading

Theology on Tap serves up Bible study with a twist

The Tyler-area men’s group ‘Theology on Tap’ is catching on with East Texas, drawing as many as 70 attendees each month.

A Christian men’s group in Tyler is reaching out the faithful in an unlikely way, through Bible study with a twist. Theology on Tap provides fellowship and conversations about faith and spirituality in a casual setting.

Rev. Justin Braun, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, helped start the group in 2012. “We’re East Texas men. We like beer. You know, and we like to talk about Jesus. So, we can do those things together.”

Once a month, the group meets at various restaurants in the Tyler area, with as many as 70 men participating. Organizer Nathan Ihrig said the idea was to create a relaxed environment, while offering meaningful discussion. “Guys are more willing to come and enjoy a beer or two and eat and listen and ask questions.” Continue reading

Texas DMV rejects hundreds of ‘indecent, vulgar’ personalized license plates

Since 2011, the Texas DMV has rejected more than 1,600 submissions for personalized license plates.

Picking a personalized Texas license plate isn’t a free-for-all. The Department of Motor Vehicles uses very specific criteria for reviewing vanity plate requests, resulting in more than 1,600 rejected requests.

Car enthusiasts at Saturday’s ‘Classic Cars & Art in the Park’ in Mineola are very familiar with the application process. Dozens of hot rods, rat rods, sports cars and classic trucks drew admirers from across East Texas.

Show organizer Ronnie Gorman says a personalized plate captures the character of the car. Putting a custom tag on his classic car was a simple process. “Like on our Impala, we had a 1966 Impala. It said ‘TUFF 66,’ and it was a pretty sweet car,” he said. Continue reading

Volunteering: A chance to repay your “debt”

Being named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ only motivates me to work harder to live up to this tremendous recognition.

I believe one person truly can make a difference in the life of another and I hope to never ignore that calling. It’s quite humbling to think of the special individuals spent countless hours mentoring me — many of whom continue to do so. Counting myself among the extremely fortunate, I’m pursuing my “dream profession” as a journalist.

I wonder where I might be without that help and encouragement from role models. Journalism professors, seasoned reporters and anchors, and news managers took me under their wing, helping me navigate decisions that will impact my future. What a blessing they have been. With faith and family as my foundation, I also credit involvement in a fraternity as one of the influences in helping me become a productive member of society. Continue reading