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2021: A Year in Photos
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News-Journal photographers Michael Cavazos and Les Hassell traveled throughout the state in 2021, documenting life in East Texas and beyond. Here are some of their favorite photos from the year.

Official: Vehicle last driven by missing Gregg County woman found with human remains inside
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Officials on Friday were working the scene after the discovery of a vehicle that belonged to a woman who has been missing out of Kilgore since October 2019.

Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano said the vehicle, which belonged to Rosemary Rodriguez, had human remains inside, although officials have not confirmed the remains are those of Rodriguez.

The vehicle was found in a wooded area off Mount Pisgah Road. Officials arrived on scene Thursday evening and were working Friday to extract the vehicle.

Rodriguez was reported missing Oct. 8, 2019. According to officials, she had been last seen the previous day leaving her boyfriend’s house in the area of Mount Pisgah near Kilgore.

Gregg County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Joshua Tubb announced in November 2019 that the office had recovered an electronic device that belonged to Rodriguez. The device was set to be sent to a lab that specializes in forensic examination and electronic device recovery. At the time, he said the device “is believed to be a significant piece of evidence.”

Tubb previously said that law enforcement believe criminal activity could be involved in her disappearance.

When she was reported missing, the sheriff’s office said Rodriguez drives a green 2014 Chevrolet Sonic.

Rodriguez’s daughters in October 2019 helped organize a vigil for their mother to pray for her return and to continue to raise awareness about her disappearance.

Anyone with information about Rodriguez is asked to contact investigators at (903) 236-8408 or Gregg County Crime Stoppers at (903) 236-7867 or

Commissioners OK funding for water system upgrades in western Gregg County
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More than a half-million dollars in federal coronavirus recovery funds will be going to improvements to water systems in western Gregg County.

Commissioners on Wednesday approved the funds from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to go to pay for three projects in the West Gregg Special Utility District, or West Gregg SUD. The utility district is in Kilgore and provides water services for parts of Gregg, Smith and Rusk counties.

West Gregg SUD requested assistance from the county for several projects the entity is undertaking.

One of the authorized uses of the fund is to make necessary investments in infrastructure. The county determined the three West Gregg SUD projects constitute necessary infrastructure.

Projects being funded by the allocation are:

Drilling a new water supply well to address a deficiency in supply capacity

Constructing an elevated storage tank to address a deficiency in capacity

Building a looped water supply main from Goforth Road to Texas 31 on the east end of the district’s sytem to address distribution system pressure issues

Funds from the county will pay for half of each of the projects. The water supply well project is estimated to cost $325,000, according to a letter from Hayes Engineering President Stanley R. Hayes. The elevated storage tank is expected to cost $350,000, and the looped water supply construction has an estimated cost of $408,000.

The county’s allocation amounts to $541,500.

While the agreement is set to expire at the end of 2026, West Gregg SUD’s engineer said the three projects will be complete before Dec. 31, 2023.

Part of the agreement stipulates that West Gregg SUD submit monthly invoices to the Gregg County auditor for work and materials related to the design and construction of the projects.

For more information about West Gregg Special Utility District, visit