ETMC unveils new helicopters

New ETMC helicopter(Press release from ETMC)

The East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System unveiled today two new emergency transport helicopters, valued at over $9 million, to provide patients in East Texas with critical, fast access to the region’s only level 1 trauma center at ETMC Tyler.

The Eurocopter, EC135 P2+ helicopters will be stationed at ETMC Tyler and Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. The EC135 that currently is stationed in Tyler is being upgraded and will be positioned at ETMC Athens. This allows ETMC to provide high quality care and rapid transport to residents within a 150-mile radius around each helicopter base, covering 38 counties in East Texas.

“Since 1985, ETMC Air 1 has been flying the skies of East Texas and saving thousands of lives,” said Art Chance, vice president of operations for ETMC. “Reducing transportation time to ETMC Tyler’s level 1 trauma center, helps severely injured or seriously ill patients arrive within the ‘golden hour,’ significantly improving their chances for recovery.”

Jim Speier, operations coordinator, said safety is the focus on every flight. “Our goal is to safely complete each mission without having any issues. The new helicopters have updated safety features, including a terrain avoidance warning system that gives an audible voice alert message if an obstacle appears along the flight path. They also have a traffic collision avoidance system to warn the pilot of another aircraft in close proximity.”

Other features include live weather radar, which allows the crew to monitor area weather systems; an OuterLink satellite tracking system, which allows the communications center to track the entire flight; a black box recorder system, which stores critical data regarding each flight; night vision goggles; an automatic flight control system to assist the pilot; an improved environmental system, which allows for better patient comfort and a wire strike protection system that cuts power lines in the event of a wire strike.

The helicopters have updated medical equipment, including a new ventilator, which allows medical personnel to better treat patients of all ages. The overall interior has more room for equipment storage and is more user-friendly. The cabin also includes improved lighting, dual redundant oxygen storage systems and a restraint system to help when carrying larger patients.

“Each aircraft is staffed with a pilot, nurse and paramedic who are ready 24 hours, 7 days a week,” said program director Terri Rowden. “Air 1 is especially beneficial to our rural areas. We average 1,500 transports a year.”

The program is endorsed by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport and was the first program in Texas to receive accreditation in 1994.

ETMC Air 1 can fly up to 158 miles per hour, can transport up to two patients at a time and can fly as far as Houston on a single fuel load.

Sweet Assurance sings at PSUMC

Sweet Assurance. (Courtesy Photo)
Sweet Assurance. (Courtesy Photo)

Those who attended Fellowship Night at Payne Springs United Methodist were entertained Jan. 2nd by “Sweet Assurance,” a quintet from the First Baptist Church Malakoff. Their voices were perfect harmony, pleasing to everyone. Singers included: Barbara Monroe, Kay Downey, Dottie Crye, Adabeth Routt, and Kathy Clardy. The public is invited to every Fellowship Night. (COURTESY PHOTO)

SBDC/AEDC join up to help small business

By Jennifer Hannigan, TVCC Public Information

Athens Texas LogoA new partnership between two Athens agencies could result in big dollars for one budding entrepreneur.

For more than a year, the Small Business Development Center and the Athens Economic Development Corporation have been neighbors in the Athens Partnership Center. Earlier this year, AEDC President Brian Malone and SBDC Director Mike Ellsberry realized their services could work together.

So beginning in February, the two will pool their resources to offer a new program, and their effort will give one business venture $30,000 in startup funds and the training to give a new business owner the tools to succeed.

Malone said the AEDC has been going through a strategic planning process for the past year. During that process, the group has realized it needs to do more to encourage new small businesses in Athens. However, he said, he also wanted to include a way to train new business owners in the specifics of opening an establishment.

“We needed a way to make sure we had qualified people who wanted to begin businesses,” said Malone. “We realized that new business owners who are properly trained have a greater potential for long-term success.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the building, the SBDC has the resources to train those who want to start a business, but relies on outside sources to fund those new ventures.

“With the economy and banking the way they are, it’s very hard to secure funding for start-ups,” said Ellsberry. The SBDC – a venture of Trinity Valley Community College, the State of Texas, and the U.S. Small Business Administration – provides consulting for new business owners and existing businesses.

Starting on February 19th, the SBDC and AEDC will offer a high-level Going into Business Seminar forsix Tuesdays. The class will run from 5:30-7 p.m.

The course, said Malone and Ellsberry, will be fast paced and will include work both inside and outside of class. Potential business owners will build a full business plan which will address virtually all the significant decisions which need to be made for a start-up.

“This class will be very intensive,” said Malone. “It will not be for the faint of heart, but will provide real training to help a new business succeed.”

At the end of the six weeks, the entrepreneurs who have attended all the classes and completed their business plans will be eligible for consideration for the grant.

The plans will be judged on several criteria, including the potential size of the businesses and if there is a market in Athens for the proposed venture.

“Will the winning business help the community grow? Will it provide a place for future residents to work in Athens?” Malone asked. “We’re looking for businesses that have a real potential to grow and meet the needs in this community.”

For a business venture to be considered, it must be located in the city of Athens and potential owners will be required to meet other criteria as well as possibly undergo a background check before being considered for the grant. Those who currently own businesses but would like to take their current venture in a radically different direction will also be considered.

The cost for the seminar will be $50. For that amount, the attendee will also receive the textbook onwhich the seminar is based, Rhonda Adams’ “Entrepreneurship, a Real World Approach,” and other materials. Attendees will also be coached by an SBDC advisor and will be expected to meet weekly with that person.

Ellsberry said he sees the joint venture being a great way to help encourage new businesses in Athens.

“We are hoping to make this a regular event,” said Ellsberry. “It’s important for us to be collaborative. We’re hoping to build Athens into the future.”

For more information and to sign up for the seminar, contact the SBDC at 903-675-6390 903-675-7403. Pre-registration is required and the deadline is Feb. 12.

TVCC men drop Lee, 99-81

254814_10151313849267284_398758990_nBy Benny Rogers, TVCC Sports Information


Talk about overcoming a slow start!

With 7:17 left in the first half Saturday at Cardinal Gym, the Cardinals found themselves in a 40-19 deficit to the Lee College Rebels, who had hit nine three-pointers. By halftime, they were back in the game, trailing by just six, 47-41.

In the second half, the Cardinals hit stride and blew away the Rebels for a 99-81 win.

Freshman Jarion Henry, in his first game of the season, led the assault with 32 points. Karon Phillips and Josh Gentry tossed in 13 and 10, respectively.

The win improved first-year coach Kris Baumann’s Cardinals to 12-4 on the season and 3-2 in the the conference. Lee dropped to 10-6 and 2-3.

The Cardinals are scheduled to return to action Wednesday at Brenhman against Blinn College. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

The Cardinals will be at home again Saturday against Coastal Bend Community College. Game time is 4 p.m.


The fifth-ranked Lady Cardinals are scheduled to return to action Wednesday at Brenham against 14th-ranked and unbeaten Blinn College (15-0). Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Coach Elena Lovato’s squad will carry a 14-1 record into the game. The Lady Cardinals, who have won 11 straight conference championships, are 1-0 in league play. Blinn is 2-0.

The Lady Cardinals observed an open date Saturday. Blinn scored an impressive 84-71 road win against Tyler.

The next home game for the Lady Cardinals is Wednesday, Jan. 16 against Kilgore.

AGRIVIEW: Prune correctly

Rick Hirsch, County Extension Agent

Late winter is the time to complete most pruning chores around the landscape. The fastest period of wound healing is in the spring so pruning done now will soon be on its way to healing. Pruning cuts are often done incorrectly.

Leaving a stub results in a dead piece of branch that prevents the wound from being able to close. The dead stub becomes a route for decay to enter the tree. Cutting flush up against the trunk or another branch removes the natural collar around the branch that results in fast healing. It also creates a larger wound than is necessary. Thus it takes a lot longer for the wound to heal.

Different plants often require different pruning techniques. Factors such as deciduous, evergreen, spring blooming, upright shrubs and arching shrubs, all affect the type and timing of pruning. There are many resources online and from your local Extension office to illustrate proper pruning practices. Take advantage of these cold days to brush up on your knowledge before heading outside to prune.

As a general rule, if an ornamental plant blooms only in the spring wait to prune it until after the blooms are gone. Otherwise late winter is the time to get the job done.

This is also a good time to plant woody ornamental trees, shrubs and vines. The sooner you get them in the longer they have to establish roots into the surrounding soil so that when hot dry weather arrives they have a better chance of survival. As with pruning, planting can be done correctly or incorrectly. There is plenty of information available to help you do it right. This will help protect your investment in time and money.

Insect Problems

The start of the growing season is just a few short weeks away and that means insect problems are sure to follow.

Producing your own vegetables can be challenging. One of the greatest challenges is to successfully control insect pests. Fortunately, there are numerous management alternatives that vegetable gardeners may consider when dealing with insects and other pests. These include cultural, biological, and management controls and, last but not least, chemical controls.

There are approximately 30,000 insect species in Texas. Fortunately, fewer than 100 species are routine pests in vegetable gardens. Most insects found in the garden are either incidental or beneficial, contributing to pollination, the balance of nature, or recycling of organic matter. A garden with an abundant supply of insects actually may be quite healthy and productive. However, insect pests can reduce the quantity of quality of the vegetables produced and may transmit plant diseases. Consider using control measures when insects threaten the garden.

Identify the insects in your garden to determine if they are beneficial, incidental or pests. Learn to recognize the common insects in your area, especially the pests and learn to recognize the type of damage associated with pests.

Insect pests can enter vegetable gardens by walking or flying. Flight allows many insects to have great mobility and their movement in large numbers is possible. Also, certain pests, like aphids and mites, reproduce about once a week under good conditions and their populations can increase rapidly. When pests seem to appear in large numbers almost overnight, they have either moved in or are rapidly reproducing.

As insects grow, they change in size and shape. This process is called metamorphosis. Some insects damage plants in both the immature and adult stages.

Because insects change, they may be difficult to identify and the type of damage they cause also may change. Young caterpillars may barely scrape the surface of a leaf when feeding, while the same caterpillar may eat great chunks of leaves when mature.

An insect’s mouthparts can be a key to understanding the type of damage caused by a pest. Insects with sucking mouthparts feed by piercing leaves or fruit. Damage appears as pock marks or mottled leaves. Insects with chewing mouthparts chew holes in plants. If you can recognize the type of feeding, you can select the proper insecticides (I. E. stomach poisons for chewing insects).

When planting a vegetable garden, anticipate the pests that may occur during the year. Consider all management practices that will help deal with the pests before they become problems. Then, develop a management plan and put it into use before problems occur. Use your past experience as a guide in anticipating pests for the upcoming season.

Integrated pest management, IPM , is a philosophy of managing pests using multiple control techniques. IPM balances the goals of economic production and environmental stewardship when implementing control practices. IPM is the overriding strategy for most of production agriculture today and is rapidly being adopted in home gardening as well.

Monitoring or scouting crops for the presence and abundance of pests is an important part of IPM. Most IPM programs reserve the use of insecticides for situations when the pest is present in large numbers and the cost of return on the investment in control practices can be justified.

Many specific insect control practices can be implemented as part of an IPM program; generally the use of insecticides is included as a control option. When alternate control practices are substituted for insecticides, the IPM approach is similar to organic gardening.

New Year’s Resolution

Farm and ranch safety should be a resolution at the top of the list for farmers and ranchers. Accidents and work related illnesses cost time, money and sometimes life. So, protecting safety and health should be a top management goal. There are several guidelines that you can follow in helping to insure that you and those around you remain free from harm.

Manage to prevent accidents and work-related illnesses. Make safety part of every farming operation.

Train new and/or inexperienced workers.

Buy quality products and take proper care of them. Read and heed instructions in operator’s manuals, on labels and containers.

Establish an on-farm/ranch safety program that includes regular inspection of all equipment, tools and facilities.

You budget money for fuel, seed and other farming inputs. Adding a little more for safety devices can help protect you.

Be prepared for fire, weather, medical and accident emergencies.

Rick Hirsch is the Henderson County Extension Agent – Agriculture for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit our web page at