Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry uses ministry to reach others battling addiction

Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry uses ministry to reach others battling addiction 2

Darryl Strawberry, once the highest-paid professional baseball player in America, now travels the country as an ordained minister.

After a very public fall from grace, a Major League Baseball legend, has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel and sharing a message of redemption. Darryl Strawberry became one of the biggest stars in baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, until his career was derailed by drugs.

Drafted by the New York Mets, Strawberry was the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year. With a powerful swing, he hit 26 home runs and propelled himself into the national spotlight.

“That lifestyle is not real. It’s so many trap holds for you,” Strawberry said. “So many things that are out there. You say as a young player, ‘Well, I’ll never get into it.’ Well, if you don’t have any discipline (and) you don’t have any integrity and character, you will get into it.”

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WATCH: Juding the Official Texas Gumbo Cook-off

For the last few years, I’ve had the great privilege to be invited to judge the Official Texas Gumbo Cook-off. As a native of south Louisiana, it’s always a real treat to sample some familiar cuisine, take-in live music from an authentic Cajun band, and spend time telling stories with great people.

Click the video below to check out what goes into the competition!

WATCH: Riding atop a fire engine in Longview’s Christmas Parade

One of my favorite community events in all of East Texas is the annual Longview Christmas Parade. I’m always astonished by the number of people lining the streets, no matter the weather. Businesses and community groups really put on a show to get people in the Christmas spirit. Each year, the KLTV 7 crew is fortunate enough to ride with the city’s finest, perched atop a Longview fire engine.

Click the video below to check out all the fun!

Hidden among the pines, The Blue Hole is preserved as a Texas treasure

The Blue Hole, a privately owned swimming hole in the Angelina National Forest, is located in a former quarry in rural Jasper County.

Nestled in the Angelina National Forest in Deep East Texas, 36 miles southeast of Lufkin, is one of the hidden jewels of Texas. The Blue Hole, as it’s known, is a brilliant blue-green-colored lake surrounded by the craggy white sandstone cliffs of a former rock quarry.

First opened in the late 1800s, rock was removed from the quarry and transported by the Rockland, Jasper & Northeastern Railway Company for use in the Sabine Pass and Galveston jetties extensions, according to an article published by The History Center in Diboll.

Once known as Kyle’s Quarry, the 12 acres were flooded in the 1920s and has been a popular spring-fed swimming hole for decades, the article stated. A 1918 University of Texas publication noted the distinct coloring of the water is from the sandstone, containing quartz and chert, as well as layers of clay.

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New spacecraft named after astronaut killed in E. Texas space shuttle tragedy

The next Cygnus spacecraft to visit the International Space Station will be named S.S. Rick Husband, Orbital ATK announced Tuesday. (Source: NASA)

The next Cygnus spacecraft to visit the International Space Station will be named S.S. Rick Husband, Orbital ATK announced Tuesday. (Source: NASA)

The next cargo spacecraft to launch to the International Space Station will bear the name of an American astronaut killed in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy over East Texas.

An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft bearing the name S.S. Rick Husband will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 22.

Husband served as commander of the STS-107 mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart during reentry over East Texas on February 1, 2003.

All seven crew members perished in the accident, just 16 minutes before the scheduled landing in Florida. Continue reading

Where to find the best gumbo in Texas

Judging the Official Texas Gumbo Cook-Off was no easy task.

Texas is proud of its culinary heritage — a figurative and literal melting pot of cultures and signature dishes known the world over. Drawing discerning foodies from around the world, the Lone Star State is no longer catering only to those with a taste for barbecue.

Kitchens are serving up creations by world-renowned chefs and recipes handed down for generations are known in every corner of the state.

It appears our palate is expanding again, with help from Texas transplants from Cajun country. On Saturday, March 5, I got to help judge a ranking of the best gumbo served up in 2016. Continue reading

East Texas Symphony presents ‘Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant’

Narrating "Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant" with the East Texas Symphony was an opportunity to share my love of the performing arts with young audiences.

Narrating “Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant” with the East Texas Symphony was an opportunity to share my love of the performing arts with young audiences.

Have you ever heard of a “Zipperpotamus,” a “Panthermometer,” or a “Pop-Up Toadster?” These imaginative animals come to life illustrated in the children’s book, “Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant” were brought to life in the East Texas Symphony’s Family Concert on Saturday, February 27.

I had the great privilege of serving as narrator for the poetry, written by Jack Prelutsky, which inspired the musical arrangement composed by Lucas Richman.

The concert in Tyler’s Liberty Hall featured many of the Symphony’s resident performers: concertmaster Mark Miller on violin, Zachary Mansell on cello, Rebecca Wenck on clarinet, Andrew Merideth on horn and Maria Guénette on piano. Continue reading

Remembering a pioneer in East Texas television history

Hudson Collins, the first chief engineer of KLTV, has died at age 94.

This week, we learned of the passing of KLTV’s first chief engineer, Hudson Collins, who lived a long life of 94 years. While I never had the opportunity to meet him, I’m fascinated by many of the details of his pioneering career.

An engineer is an important position in any television station, but he holds the distinction of being a true pioneer in local television.

After speaking with his family, former colleagues, and even the workers at a Whataburger restaurant, I quickly developed great admiration for “Hud,” as he was known. Continue reading

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

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