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Pruitt named Kilgore College athletic director
  • Updated

Kilgore College has named Longview native Courtney Pruitt as athletic director, as announced by Dr. Staci Martin on Monday.

Pruitt served a short time as KC’s part-time assistant athletic director, then assumed the role of full-time interim athletic director in November.

She began duties as full-time athletic director on Jan. 1.

“She is very well-qualified to take on the day-to-day management of KC’s athletic programs, beginning her coaching career in 2005 after playing basketball collegiately,” Martin said.

Pruitt has served as associate head women’s basketball coach at Prairie View A&M University; head women’s basketball coach at Alcorn State University; associate director of athletics at Wiley College; head women’s coach at Wiley College; associate head women’s coach at Tyler Junior College; head women’s basketball coach at Ranger College; and assistant women’s basketball coach at Lon Morris College.

Pruitt said she is happy to be home after a long and successful coaching career.

“My experiences at both the junior college and four-year levels have allowed me to master the skill of managing small operating budgets and unique scholarship allotments while still maintaining high expectations for my program,” Pruitt said.

She earned an associate of science in chemistry from Lon Morris College, a bachelor of science in sports management from Newberry College, and a master of education in kinesiology and health science from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Musicians gather at Kilgore shop for evening of bluegrass, gospel jams

KILGORE — Local guitar, fiddle and bass players gathered around in a circle Saturday at Kilgore Mercantile & Music for a jam on a rainy evening.

The “pickin’ circle” began with one guitar starting the tune and the others joining in as they picked it up. The group meets at the shop in downtown Kilgore on the second Saturday of each month for Bluegrass & Blue Bell Acoustic Jam.

“We’re about music,” Kilgore Mercantile & Music Owner Fred Gebhardt said. “These jams go on all over the place.”

His wife and fellow owner, Vivian, sat behind the food counter with a mug of hot tea on the damp, cold night. She said she does not play music but loves listening to the group come together.

All are welcome to join in or listen, but the event also has a few regulars.

“You just never know who’s going to show up,” Gebhardt said. He said professionals have come through as well.

“It’s always great, never a bad time,” he said.

Between songs, the group members chatted. Some laughed about how they had no idea what song they had just played, though no one could tell.

“It’s more about the fellowship than it is about pickin’ anyway,” JoAnn Wilgus said.

The group played bluegrass, gospel and some country.

Carolyn Johnson of Longview sang and played bass. She has been playing in “pickin’ circles” for about 45 years, she said.

“I love it,” she said.

Eldon Hamilton, 71, said he has been playing a stringed instrument since he was 5 years old.

“We’re generation after generation of church musicians,” he said. “Most of us here have been playing for a long, long time.”

Kilgore College taking applications for trustee seat

Kilgore College is accepting applications until 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, for one board appointment to fill the vacant seat of Larry Woodfin, who is retiring from board service.

Woodfin represents the North Zone, Voting Unit 2, Place 5. The remainder of the term for this seat lasts until May of 2023 when a regular election will be held for that seat.

Voting Unit 2 includes Gladewater, White Oak and Sabine independent school districts.

Applicants for the seat will be reviewed by a board subcommittee that will recommend an appointment for consideration by the full board.

According to board bylaws, “any vacancy occurring on the KC Board of Trustees through death, resignation or otherwise, shall be filled by a special election ordered by the board or by appointment by resolution or order of the board. Appointees will serve until the next regular election.”

Each member of the board must be a resident, qualified voter of the district and must take the proper oath of office before taking up duties of the board.

Anyone interested in being appointed to serve in this vacant board seat may request an application from Karen Scibona, located in Office 100 on the first floor of the Stewart H. McLaurin Administration Building on the Kilgore campus.

Office hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:45 p.m. on Fridays.

To receive forms by mail or e-mail, call Karen Scibona at (903) 983-8101 or email her at

More information is available at

Data: Gregg County has second-highest community transmission rate in region
  • Updated

COVID-19 infections are spreading rapidly across East Texas as the region continues to see high transmission rates and an increase in total cases.

In Gregg County, the exposure rate rose 154 percent during the weekend, according to data from the Northeast Texas Public Health District. The county’s community transmission level remained “substantial” with a seven-day rolling rate of new cases of 130.35 compared to 51.29 on Thursday.

The county’s rate of new infections on Monday was the second-highest in NET Health’s seven-county jurisdiction, passed only by Smith County’s rate of 137.60.

All counties are experiencing substantial rates of transmission, meaning cities across each county are experiencing large-scale, uncontrolled community transmission of the virus in places such as grocery stores, schools, churches, workplaces, nursing homes, day cares and other congregate settings.

Seven-day rolling rates of infection at 35 or more cases are considered substantial, compared to moderate at 10 to 35 and minimal at zero to 10.

According to NET Health, the rate calculates the average number of all COVID-positive cases from the previous seven days. That number is divided by the population of the county and multiplied by 100,000.

In Monday’s report, NET Health showed Gregg County’s total active cases was 1,676 an increase of 37 percent since Thursday. Also on Monday, Gregg County saw 455 new cases — 227 confirmed, 228 probable — reported since Thursday.

NET Health defines probable cases as those which are attributed to patients who have received positive antigen tests, until the individual has been administered a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. If a person’s PCR laboratory result is positive, that becomes a confirmed case.

In Longview on Monday, the line for drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Christus Good Shepherd’s NorthPark facility stretched onto Hawkins Parkway. Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne this past week said half of the people who have presented in the county for testing and receiving a positive result.

Jo Lee Ferguson 

A line of cars on Monday stretches to Hawkins Parkway in Longview as people wait to get a drive-thru COVID-19 test at Christus Good Shepherd's NorthPark facility in Longview. 

He also said the demand for COVID-19 tests has been stressing local emergency rooms.

On Monday, NET Health reported 147 East Texans being treated for COVID-19 at Tyler hospitals. The county’s hospitalization rates now trend similar to data last seen in early November.

On Monday, there were 267 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the state’s 19-county Trauma Region G. Of COVID patients hospitalized, 63 of those are in ICUs and 48 patients are on ventilators. In the first half of September, hospitalizations reached 822, the highest number of single-day COVID-19 hospitalizations in the region since the pandemic began. Similar trends were last seen late October.

As of Monday in Gregg County, 55.11 percent of people age 5 and older had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 48.12 percent of people age 5 and older had been fully vaccinated, according to the state. State data shows 88.51 percent of people 65 and older in the county had been vaccinated with at least one dose on Monday, while 80.94 percent of that population had been fully vaccinated. As of Nov. 4, children 5 to 11 years of age are included in vaccination numbers and rates.