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Gohmert announces official campaign for Texas attorney general
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After announcing he was considering a run for Texas attorney general earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert said Monday he will challenge incumbent Ken Paxton in the March Republican primary.

Gohmert, R-Tyler, announced his plans to explore a campaign for attorney general on Nov. 9 during an event and through a campaign website. He delivered his official announcement on Monday night just before 8 p.m. via a YouTube video.

With the website (gohmert.net), Gohmert asked for 10,000 people to send $100 each by Nov. 19 to reach $1 million. The website said, “that amount to start with will allow a state-wide campaign to have a chance.”

“It’s my honor to let you know that we’ve reached our initial goal of raising $1 million in order to start a run for Texas attorney general,” Gohmert said in the video, thanking donors for allowing a “proper start” to the campaign but noting more funds will be needed.

If elected, Gohmert said he will start “boldly protecting” Texans’ rights on Day 1.

“Unconstitutional mandates will not be tolerated from anyone,” he said. “Parental consent is still an important concept in America, and especially in Texas.”

Gohmert said one priority of his will be to secure the state’s southern border, adding “the invasion has to stop.”

Another top focus will be election integrity, he said, “so that every legal vote counts.”

“Changing voting laws by anyone but the legislature is also unconstitutional,” Gohmert said. “Our AG (Ken Paxton) was suing other states, as I would have, but he failed to ensure Texas abided by the same constitutional provisions that he was suing the other states for violating.”

Earlier this month, the Texas Ethics Commission said it had received a new campaign treasurer appointment from Gohmert for an attorney general run, according to the Texas Tribune.

Gohmert has served in the U.S. House representing the First Congressional District — which includes Longview, Tyler and other area cities — since 2005.

The website noted that Paxton has been accused of bribery by some of his office’s employees.

“We need a Texas Attorney General whose top attorneys working for him have not found it necessary to send a letter to the FBI urging an investigation into corruption of their boss,” the website stated. “This is not at all like Obama loyalists working in the Trump administration who worked to get rid of Republican President Trump. It is true that the current Texas Attorney General filed some popular Republican-favored lawsuits, especially in the last year after the latest ethical, moral, and criminal allegations against him arose from his top staff.”

Other Republican candidates who have officially announced a challenge against Paxton in the primary, include Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, state Rep. Matt Krause and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. Democratic challengers are Rochelle Garza, former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union; Joe Jaworski, attorney, mediator, and former mayor of Galveston; and Lee Merritt, civil rights attorney.

Volunteers prepare for Longview Thanksgiving Food Drive distribution

Volunteers and packages of food filled Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center Monday as teams prepared, stacked and sorted ahead of today’s Longview Thanksgiving Food Drive distribution.

Charlotte Davis, chair of the annual drive, said the volunteers were preparing boxes of food for about 900 families for the 37th annual event.

“We’re filling 1,000 boxes,” Davis said of the volunteers, the largest percentage of which she said were high school students.

Among the volunteers was Davis’ granddaughter, 17-year-old Longview High School junior Alexus Thomas, who said she has been volunteering at the food drive since she was 12. She had been at Maude Cobb since 9:30 a.m.

“I’ll keep coming until they don’t want me anymore,” Thomas said with a laugh.

Volunteers could use the food drive’s website to sign up for two-hour shifts beginning at 10 a.m. and going until 6 p.m.

Thomas is part of a student group at Longview High School with Luke Farr, 16, who also volunteered Monday at the food drive. It also was not Farr’s first time volunteering to prepare for the drive’s distribution. He said donating his time and effort is fun.

“This is important to me because, I mean, I just want to give back to the community. It’s fun and, for people who need help, I want to help,” he said.

At least 10 students from Longview High School were at Maude Cobb for the effort.

Yadira Torres, Shreemayi Undavalli, Evelyn Campos, and Hibah Khan, all 15, worked together to sort the various tomato products that were donated.

They arrived at about 10 a.m. and had spent a couple of hours sorting through hundreds of cans of tomato products like tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and others.

The girls said they are part of Longview High School’s Technology Student Association, which encourages members to take on leadership roles and to provide community service.

“Knowing what we’re doing here is making a difference in our community and giving another meal to people to eat, especially around the holidays when a lot of people aren’t as fortunate as most of us, it’s just nice to know that,” Undavalli said.

Hallsville High School students Abby Anderson, 17, and Sadie Stanitz, 16, were at the event as part of the National Honor Society. The girls said they want to help others this holiday season.

“We’re very fortunate with our families, and we get food put on our plate almost every day and we know that people aren’t as lucky as we are,” Anderson said. “So, we just wanted to come help people in our community and hopefully make Thanksgiving a little better for people that aren’t as fortunate as we are.”

Not all of the volunteers, however, were high school students.

Mae and Arthur Cook were donating their time at the Longview Thanksgiving Food Drive for the fifth time. The couple on Monday was busy loading boxes with a half-dozen cans of green beans each.

“We like to volunteer and serve the community,” Arthur Cook said. “(There’s) satisfaction knowing that we’re helping other people.”

“God’s been good to us, so we like to give back,” Mae Cook added.

Similar to this past year’s food drive, pickup today will be a drive-thru event. Food boxes will be loaded into vehicles so families won’t have to go inside Maude Cobb.

Prequalified families had to fill out an application to receive a food box.

Leftover goods will be donated to local service organizations such as the Salvation Army, Caring and Sharing, Newgate Mission, Longview Dream Center and Longview Community Ministries.

Yes, there are turkeys for Thanksgiving - for a price

Turkeys may not be able to fly very far. But their prices can soar — along with the costs of other holiday staples like cranberry sauce and pie filling.

The Thanksgiving table hasn’t been spared the price inflation that is rampant elsewhere in the economy because of strong consumer demand and labor shortages.

The American Farm Bureau estimates a Thanksgiving feast for 10, complete with sweet potatoes, rolls, a vegetable tray and a pie with whipped cream, will cost $53.31 this year, up 14% from a year ago. It’s an unusual spike. Before this year, the annual cost estimate had been falling since 2015.

A more recent survey of grocery store prices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a different basket of Thanksgiving staples up 5.5%, after stores started running more discounts.

“The inflation is real. Everybody is saying that. Everybody is feeling it,” said Butterball President and CEO Jay Jandrain. “Whether it’s labor, transportation, packaging materials, energy to fuel the plants — everything costs more.”

North Carolina-based Butterball, which supplies around one-third of Thanksgiving turkeys, struggled to attract workers earlier this year, leading to processing delays. While turkeys waited, they grew bigger, adding to already skyrocketing costs for corn and soybean feed.

But Jandrain said labor shortages have lessened and the company was able to secure enough trucks to get its turkeys to grocery stores. So there will be about the same number of whole turkeys as last year, but fewer smaller birds.

“The good news about that is everybody loves the after-Thanksgiving leftovers, and they are going to have more of them this year,” Jandrain said.

According to the USDA, the average wholesale price of an 8- to 16-pound frozen turkey in mid-November was $1.35 per pound, up 27% from a year ago. Stores offer discounts to lure shoppers, and the average advertised price of that size turkey the week before Thanksgiving was well below the wholesale cost, at 93 cents per pound, the USDA said. That’s still up more than 9% from last year.

For other staples, weather conditions compounded labor shortages. Pumpkin crops were smaller due to heavy rains and a fungus in Illinois — a top supplier — and drought in California. In early November, fresh pumpkins were averaging $2.72 per pound, up 5% from a year ago, according to Nielsen IQ. Prices for green beans were up 4% while canned cranberry sauce was up 2.5%.

Ryanne Bowyer of Dallas, Texas, usually buys turkey a day or two after Thanksgiving to save money. But this year, she signed up for Ibotta, a receipt-scanner app, which gave her a turkey, potatoes, corn, soup, gravy and cornbread from Walmart — all free — just for signing up.

“If that hadn’t come along, the plan was just to go to the woods with my wife and grill wieners,” Bowyer joked.

Still, many retailers facing cost pressures of their own are pulling back on their usual Thanksgiving promotions. In the week before Thanksgiving, the number of U.S. stores offering specials on turkeys was at the lowest level since 2017, said Mark Jordan, the executive director of Leap Market Analytics, which follows the livestock and poultry markets.

“There will still be some discounts, but some of the extreme giveaways are going to be fewer and farther between,” Jordan said.

Diana Jepsen, a retiree from West Hartford, Connecticut, said she usually pays $1 per pound for her Thanksgiving turkey. This year, her 23-pound Butterball cost $1.50 per pound. But she still thinks that’s a good value, especially compared to the recent price increases she has seen for beef and chicken.

Jepsen will celebrate Thanksgiving with 21 family members, including her 96-year-old mother. Her Cuban-American family bastes the turkey in a mojo criollo marinade. Jepsen’s husband, George Jepsen, the former attorney general of Connecticut, cooks the turkey, following his mother-in-law’s recipe. Other staples they serve, including black beans and yucca, haven’t increased in price, she said. Jepsen also got boxed stuffing on sale.

“We still think it’s a good bargain to be able to serve that many people,” she said.

Higher turkey prices could persist into 2022, Jandrain said. Feed costs remain elevated, along with labor and transportation costs.

That could help the turkey business, however, which for years has faced faltering demand for parts like turkey breasts and deli meat. The industry slaughtered 159 million turkeys in the first nine months of 2021, giving the U.S. its lowest per capita supply of turkey since 1987, Jordan said. Higher prices could encourage farmers to raise and slaughter more turkeys next year.

For some shoppers, availability — not price — was the biggest concern this year. Lauren Knapp, an economist in Rochester, New York, bought two frozen turkeys on sale weeks earlier than she might have because she worried about shortages. Knapp and her partner plan to make a practice meal on Thanksgiving and a second meal for relatives in early December.

“Friends in D.C. were saying it would be a chicken Thanksgiving because they can’t find turkey anywhere,” said Knapp, who was relieved turkeys were available even though some items she buys, like low-sodium turkey slices for sandwiches, have been harder to come by this year.

Jamie Harper

Jamie Harper

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Limited on land and buildings, LEDCO looking at next steps
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The Longview Economic Development is facing a challenge.

Available land and buildings that could be used to help attract companies to the market are limited in Longview and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

“Where do we go from here,” said Wayne Mansfield, LEDCO’s president and CEO, explaining the reason for a presentation he gave to the organization’s board of directors this past week.

Mansfield’s presentation reviewed the properties LEDCO markets, including the remaining land in the Longview Business Park off Eastman Road in South Longview and the North Business Park off Judson Road. He also included privately-owned buildings LEDCO helps market, such as the vacant Ball/Rexam building on Fisher Road and the Neiman Marcus distribution center that will be ending operations after the holidays in the Longview Business Park and other smaller buildings across town.

“It was more of a bringing it to the attention of the board, that we need to start being a little proactive,” he said.

Mansfield said LEDCO is receiving requests for information from businesses it can’t respond to, for instance, companies that are a looking for 200 or 500 acres of land that is served by rail.

“And that’s missed opportunities because we don’t have that currently in our inventory,” he said.

The Longview Business Park consists of about 500 acres, but most of it is developed. Aviagen, which will operate a facility that incubates and hatches breeder chicks, will take up 15 to 20 acres of the remaining land. Mansfield said that leaves a couple smaller lots in the park and the rest consists of undevelopable floodway and floodplain.

In the newer North Business Park, Dollar General and the Gap e-commerce distribution center that is under construction occupy about 250 acres, leaving a couple of 40-acre lots and a few smaller 20-acre lots for a total of about 150 to 160 available acres remaining. That means the park is almost full five years after it opened.

“I guess that just goes to show that we do need to start thinking about where do we go from here, what are our next steps,” Mansfield said.

No action was taken on the report, he added, but he was making the board aware the issue needs to be at the top of LEDCO’s radar in the coming year.

“We’ll continue to look at opportunities within the city and within our extra-territorial jurisdiction,” he said.