DUSTER: For the forced resignation of a Gregg County constable after his October arrest. Pct. 2 Billy Fort submitted his resignation this week to county commissioners, who are expected to officially accept it Monday. As part of a plea agreement on a charge of DWI after his October arrest, Fort received a 180-day suspended jail sentence and one year of probation on community supervision. Fort was also ordered to complete 40 hours of community service, pay $875 in fines and fees as well as attend DWI and drug classes. Finally, he was forced to surrender his peace officer license and resign as constable. Fort still faces a felony charge of obstruction or retaliation for an incident that police said happened after his Oct. 12 arrest. We wish him well as he leaves elected office.

GUSHER: For a project that will upgrade essential services to western Gregg County. Commissioners recently agreed to provide $3 million from federal pandemic funding to a Liberty City Water Supply Corp. infrastructure project totaling $6 million. The nonprofit corporation serves 25 square miles in Gregg County, 6,000 water customers and 2,000 sewer customers and includes Sabine ISD schools as well as a part of Kilgore. Officials said planned work includes adding generators to make the system more resilient and reliable and installing 12-inch water lines on the system’s east end that is served by 4- and 8-inch lines. Another piece will see a new, larger pump station replace the aging one on FM 1252, while a water line from there to Texas 31 under Interstate 20 also is planned. In addition, the wastewater treatment plant on Texas 135 will be expanded. The Liberty City Water Corp.’s water system was originally built in the 1960s and the wastewater system in the 1970s, and as officials said, like all infrastructure, age takes a toll. The system made it through February’s winter storm unscathed, but upgrades such as these to our infrastructure are key to ensure it can handle the next major weather event.

DUSTER: For a report by an East Texas health official that shows the rates of lung cancer in the region are the highest in the state and directly tied to higher tobacco consumption. Smith County Health Authority Dr. Paul McGaha said while 15% of Texans use tobacco products, that rate is 20% in the 35-county East Texas region. It’s a headshaking statistic, even after years and years of research detailing the negative health effects of tobacco products.

GUSHER: For the return of Longview’s community Christmas tree, which was lit during an event Sunday at Heritage Plaza at the corner of Green and Methvin streets. Nothing ushers in the holidays more than a bright tree, and we urge residents to take a drive or walk downtown and soak in the festive spirit. The tree will remain lit through the end of the year.

GUSHER: For the generosity shown by the Longview community during this week’s annual Thanksgiving food drive at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center. Thousands of canned and boxed items were distributed during a drive-thru event Tuesday, and the stories we heard from recipients showed the necessity of the food drive. Unfortunately, it’s easy to take for granted a well-stocked fridge and pantry and a crowded Thanksgiving dinner table. A big thank you to everyone who contributed and volunteered during this year’s food drive.

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