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!

Police: Rocket debris washes ashore on Texas beach

Debris found on a Brazoria County beach is reportedly from a rocket launched from South America. (Source: Freeport Police Department)

Debris that washed ashore along the south Texas coast has been identified as part of a rocket, according to law enforcement.

A police officer made the discovery last week while investigating a report of possible airplane or boat debris being found at a Brazoria County beach.

The large rectangular object is believed to be debris from a rocket launched from South America last month. Freeport Police Department notified the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. State Department, after making the mysterious find.

“It clearly did not burn up on reentry, landed in the ocean, and floated all the way here to Freeport,” the department posted on Facebook. “It is not dangerous, except for the smell of dying barnacles that called it home for the past two weeks.” Continue reading

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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An unfamiliar place: Making sense of the current political landscape

Our political panel in Austin included Ted Jarrett, Josh Phoebus, and Major General Tom Carter.

Time and again the current presidential campaign has defied tradition, shedding any familiarity to previous election cycles. After a brutal primary season for candidates, the two presidential nominees and their running mates are ramping up the rhetoric.

The next 100 days are sure to mired in mudslinging, with more tweets, nicknames, and distractions from the real issues facing the nation.

Not all political discourse is petty. This weekend, I had the great opportunity to moderate a round table discussion in Austin, Texas. Three panelists with extensive backgrounds in politics and government provided a fascinating look at what is steering the national conversation into uncharted territory, including what one panelist called our “Kim Kardashian culture” that invents drama for entertainment.

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WATCH: Millions of bats take flight over downtown Austin

Crowds of people gather every Summer evening around dusk to watch as many as 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from the world’s largest urban bat colony, the Congress Street Bridge over Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin, Texas. Click the video below to watch.

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

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

Jimmy Kimmel Live returns to Texas for South By Southwest

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live returned to South By Southwest in Austin for a week of shows.

Austin’s iconic South by Southwest festival has gone from an eclectic festival featuring arts and entertainment to a showcase of innovation and ideas.

Techies, foodies, and celebrities have also found a home at SXSW, including late-night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel. This year, the funnyman brought Jimmy Kimmel Live back to Austin for a week of shows, March 16-20, 2015.

Joining Jimmy for the 29th annual South By Southwest, an impressive list of A-list guests. Some of the standouts included Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Romo, and Willie Nelson. Continue reading