Former police chief passes

Mike Echols

Former Canton Police Chief Mike Echols passed away Saturday, July 1, in Tyler. Chief Echols retired from the Canton Police Department Aug. 31, 2015. Echols had been with Canton PD since 1987 and was the chief since October 2007.

Memorial services were held for Michael Wayne Echols, 72, of Malakoff Monday, July 3, 2017, at Eubank Funeral Home in Canton. Bro. C. R officiated the services. Interment followed in Haven of Memories.

He was born Feb. 18, 1945, in Corpus Christi to Robert Wayne Echols and Betty Lou Warren.

He grew up in Gainesville. He worked as a police officer for 34 years. He spent 28 years at Canton Police Department, with 10 years as chief of police.

To read the full article, subscribe to the Van Zandt News or pick up a copy from one of our vendors. 


Trailblazer science exhibit to visit library

The Trailblazer traveling science exhibit will be at the Van Zandt County library, 317 First Monday Lane, Canton, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 12.

 Trailblazer is a traveling science exhibit filled with hands-on activities centered on energy, aerodynamics, space science, weather and biotechnology. It is suitable for all ages. The Trailblazer engages students in interactive projects in science and creates awareness of careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

This program is free and open to the public.  All library patrons are invited to explore and participate in this exciting learning experience.  For more information call 903-567-4276, visit or visit

This program is a collaboration between the Van Zandt County Library, the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering, and the Tocker Foundation.


Emergency physical loss loans available in counties affected by April tornado

U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency  Acting Administrator Chris Beyerhelm announced that physical loss loans are available for four counties in Texas. Farm operators who have suffered major physical damage and losses caused by a tornado that occurred on April 29, 2017, may be eligible for emergency loans.

This Administrator’s Physical Loss Notification has been issued for Henderson, Hopkins, Rains and Van Zandt counties as the primary damaged area. Additionally, 11 Texas counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are: Anderson, Cherokee, Delta, Ellis, Franklin, Freestone, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, Smith and Wood.

FSA’s low interest emergency loans may be made available to any applicant with a qualifying loss in the counties named above. Approval is limited to applicants who suffered severe physical losses only.


Sen. Hall calls on Gov. Abbott to prioritize grid security

As Texas Legislature heads into a special session, threats to electrical grid security loom

Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) called on Gov. Greg Abbott to add electrical grid security to the agenda items for the legislative special session starting in July.

"There are several very real threats to the Texas power grid, and the consequences would be so severe that we should address this now,” Hall said. “There are hostile countries that might cause this, but there are also natural forces that may also cause the same result soon. Either way, we need to be prepared.”

Threats to the United States from weapons designed to affect the electrical grid, such as those from North Korea, were highlighted today in the Wall Street Journal article, "North Korea Dreams of Turning Out the Lights," which explains plans by North Korea to launch electromagnetic pulse weapons, aka "EMP's," against America.


Van Zandt County 4-H Members Recognized at State 4-H Roundup

Van Zandt County 4-H Members Sierra Ross, Chloe Dixon, Addison Alexander and Mallory Alexander participated in the 2017 Texas 4-H Roundup at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The highlight of the weeklong event focused on competitive events, workshops, and general assembly’s where members were recognized for their projects and achievements each night. Senior 4-H Member Sierra Ross served as a member of the Texas 4-H Council and assisted with planning meetings, events, and assisted with community service projects.


State Capitol Highlights

First Gulf storm of season elbows Texas
AUSTIN — State emergency responders geared up for the first time this hurricane season in response to Tropical Storm Cindy, which came ashore just east of the Texas-Louisiana border on June 22.
Two deaths were attributed to the storm — one of them an elderly man found in a sand-mired pickup truck on Texas’ Bolivar Peninsula.
The storm dropped most of its rainfall east of its center — up to 18 inches in some places far to the east — and much less in Texas. But as a precaution two days before landfall, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered an increase in readiness from level four, normal conditions, to level three, increased readiness. 
Four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads were activated, along with two Texas Military Department vehicle squads. Also, the Texas Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Task Force, the Texas Military Forces Aircraft and shelter and feeding teams were placed on standby.


Pucketts recall April 29 tornado

Only a clean slab remains following an April 29 tornado that destroyed the home of Pat and Jenneane Puckett of Canton on VZCR 2434.

Surviving a tornado is nothing new for Pat Puckett of Canton but he has no interest in being in the path of another one especially after what he and his wife, Jenneane, experienced during and after the April 29 storms that struck their home and property in Van Zandt County.

Puckett was a 10-year old in July, 1957 living with his family in Silverton, Texas when a tornado hit their residence around daylight.

“My mother was killed in that tornado,” recalled Puckett. “I was unconscious for three days. Our neighbors saw me crawling out from under one of my dad’s combines. I don’t recall that. I landed a half-mile from my house and I survived. How I got to where I landed, I have no idea to this day.”

Thirteen years later, in 1970 in Lubbock, Puckett survived another tornado. “I was living in an apartment building and the tornado tore up my car and truck,” said Puckett.



Photo by Brandi Knight

Izzi, the pet prairie dog, of Brandi Knight sits in a bed of bluebonnets in Martins Mill. 

For more stories like this one, subscribe to the Van Zandt News or pick up a copy from one of our vendors. 


Events slated throughout county

Parades, fireworks headline holiday activities

Residents of Van Zandt County will have plenty to choose from during the Fourth of July. Communities across the county have events slated to please all ages.

While most of the events will be held on Tuesday, July 4, the City of Van will kick things off for the holiday with activities scheduled for Saturday, July 1.

Information about the various Fourth of July events throughout the Van Zandt County area are as follows:


The Canton Texas Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Fourth of July parade at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 4.

A stage of events will begin the evening at 5:50 p.m. “God Bless America” will be performed by Matthew Hook followed by Cody Robbins singing “America the Beautiful.”

Following a performance of “God Bless America” by Megan Gebauer, The National Anthem will be presented by Nathan George and Antonio Mendoza.


Saline Creek Lake able to provide water to 24k

The second and final survey report on the topography/hydrology study on Saline Creek was presented to the council June 20.

On May 16, results of the topography map of the Saline Creek area were presented and determined that no structures or homes would be affected by the lake.

The City of Canton hired Johnson & Pace Inc. of Longview to conduct the study of the Saline Creek area. Joe Hart presented the information on the second study June 20.

Hart said the water availability model, which is an analysis of how much water can be pumped out of the lake for use, yielded a range anywhere from 2.23 million to 3.4 millions of gallons of water a day.

“To put that in perspective,” Hart said, “the city of Canton currently has 2.06 million of gallons per day base.  Even at the lowest normal pullout, the lake would double the city’s water supply. From a population standpoint, the city of Canton would provide water to 24,000 people.”


Subscribe to RSS - News