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PATH recognizes local companies for partnership at nonprofit's annual luncheon

People Attempting to Help recognized five local entities for their active partnerships with the nonprofit in meeting immediate needs for East Texas residents.

PATH, as it is more commonly known, honored East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, KLTV-Channel 7, TXU Energy, Walmart stores of Tyler and the Genesis Group with its new Trudy Richardson Community Impact Award for their contributions to its emergency assistance programs.

Richardson was the granddaughter of PATH’s founder, Gertrude Windsor, as well as an active volunteer and PATH board member.

“We really wanted to focus on those businesses who are huge supporters of PATH and we really couldn’t do this without them,” PATH Executive Director Greg Grubb said Thursday during the organization’s annual PATH Week Celebration Luncheon at Green Acres Baptist Church CrossWalk Conference Center in Tyler.

PATH meets the needs of East Texans through a variety of services including a food pantry; emergency utility, rent and mortgage assistance; basic medical services; long-term prescription assistance; and a mentoring program.

In the past, PATH gave the Windsor Award to an entity that helped with long-term services. Grubb said the nonprofit may return to this award in the future. However, this year, the new award was the focus.

Award recipient East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind is a nonprofit organization serving the needs of blind and visually impaired people through rehabilitation, education, training and employment. The Lighthouse has partnered with PATH for several years.

KLTV was recognized for its efforts in publicizing PATH’s Coats for Kids program. KLTV General Manager Pat Stacey said it’s easy for them to tell people about PATH’s mission.

“It’s there because the need is there,” Stacey said. “We’re grateful to be a part of PATH.”

TXU Energy was honored for its partnership that allows PATH to pay for people’s utility bills. Kim Campbell, TXU Energy senior manager, told the crowd that over 6,000 clients have been assisted through the program.

“That’s making an impact in this community every single day,” Campbell said.

The Walmart stores of Tyler were recognized for serving as a retail donation partner. Mike Vasquez, PATH resource supervisor, accepted the award on behalf of the local Walmart stores. He said in a video presentation the partnership has relieved financial obstacles for PATH.

The Genesis Group, a software company in Tyler, was honored for its active participation in PATH charitable causes, such as the summer fan drive.

Michelle Small, PATH volunteer and Kelly Community Federal Credit Union CEO, advocated for people to help in any way including by volunteering, giving donations or praying for the organization.

“There’s always a need for volunteers,” said Small, who has been involved with the organization for 10 years. “You can certainly pray for us. The Lord has used this ministry in amazing ways.”

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Texas voters prefer Biden to O’Rourke in latest UT Tyler Poll

A new poll taken after the most recent presidential primary debate says Democrats in Texas prefer former Vice President Joe Biden to former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Biden is the preferred candidate of 26% of Texas Democrats, followed by O’Rourke at 20%, according to the poll conducted Sept. 13-15 by the University of Texas at Tyler Center for Opinion Research.

Other top candidates among Texas Democrats are Sens. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, at 18%; Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, at 11%; Cory Booker, of New Jersey, at 6%; and Kamala Harris, of California, at 5%.

Among all voters, Texans prefer O’Rourke to President Donald Trump 42% to 40%, and Texans prefer Biden to Trump 40% to 38%. Texans prefer Trump to Sanders, Warren, Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to the poll.

On gun issues, a majority of Texans, 54%, said they do not believe elected officials are doing enough to prevent mass shootings, and 85% of Texas registered voters said they support requiring background checks for all potential gun buyers, compared with 5% who oppose it.

Sixty-five percent of Texans support so-called red flag laws that allow law enforcement to take guns away from someone a judge deems dangerous; 61% support a nationwide ban on magazine clips with more than 10 bullets; and 59% support a nationwide assault weapons ban.

“Voters are more ambivalent about repealing the law that protects gun manufacturers from being held liable for crimes resulting from the unlawful misuse of firearms,” the center said in a news release. “Forty-one percent support repealing law, but 32% oppose doing so, and 22% have a neutral position.”

In Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has proposed requiring background checks on private gun sales between strangers, something that federal law does not currently require. O’Rourke has gone further to ask for a mandatory federal buyback of AR-15-style and AK-47-style weapons.

The poll was conducted online using a sample of 1,199 registered Texas voters from Sept. 13 to 15 and was weighted to represent the Texas voter population, and balanced to represent accurate demographic information.

The margin of error on the poll was 2.8 percentage points among all participants and 4.5% among the 474 who identified as Democrats or independents who lean Democrat.

The poll was separate from the focus group the Center for Opinion Research held on Sept. 12.

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Celebration marks opening of School of Community and Rural Health building at UT Health Science Center at Tyler

Disparities in health among people from different races, ethnic groups, income levels and hometowns are among the things that will be researched at a new campus in Tyler.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler’s new building for the School of Community and Rural Health had its grand opening and ribbon-cutting on Thursday at the health science center campus on U.S. Highway 271.

“This facility is all about serving our community, and working every day to improve the quality of life for East Texans,” said Dr. Kirk Calhoun, the president of the health science center.

The 87,000-square-foot, $45 million building is three stories high and situated across the driveway from the main campus of the health science center. Amenities include an ergonomics center and a community teaching kitchen.

The building also is the formal home to programs to train doctors in family medicine, rural family medicine, psychiatry and occupational medicine; and it will offer new residency programs in general surgery and internal medicine starting in 2020.

The school also offers three master’s degree programs in biotechnology, public health and health administration; is home to the Center for Population Health, Analytics and Quality Advancement; and has a program that pairs nurses with women with high-risk pregnancies.

“It’s a very vibrant and exciting institution right now, and this building will contribute immensely to that,” Calhoun said. “I’ve tried to urge faculty here and all of us to make sure that our home is open to the community to address its health care challenges, the issues that exist, and improve the quality of life here.”

Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun, President of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, speaks at the grand opening for the new School of Community and Rural Health building at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler is pictured on Thursday Sept. 19, 2019. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

He said the three goals of the School of Community and Rural Health are to discover new knowledge through research, to share that research knowledge with others, and to make a better community and human condition.

“This wonderful structure is about collaboration,” said Dr. Jerry Ledlow, the school’s dean. “It’s about engaging, teaching, learning and doing spaces, very open and collaborative. It will shape us and be a catalyst to a synergistic effort that was not readily available before.

“Elements of the school were distributed across six, seven different areas, some of which were off-campus for a little bit of time,” Ledlow said. “And now most or all the faculty, students, staff, residents are in this one building, and that makes a huge difference.”

The University of Texas System has 14 academic and health care institutions. Tyler is one of three cities in Texas that is home to two system institutions, the health science center and UT Tyler. The other cities are Houston and San Antonio.

Kevin Eltife, the chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said there were times over the years that the health science center was on life support, at risk of being closed, but leaders at the health science center and in the community fought to keep it.

“Had it not been for the sheer determination of these people that came before us to give it the time and treasure it, we wouldn’t be standing here,” Eltife said. “We wouldn’t have UT Health East Texas right now. This place would’ve closed. We would’ve never had the Ardent-UT merger.

“What I really hope is that 20 years from now people look back on all of us that were here today and they say, ‘You know, those people really did something for our community’ because at the end of the day that’s what it’s about,” he said.

“It’s not about the facility,” he said. “No offense to the architect or the contractor. We love the building. But you know what, it’s not about the building. It’s about people. It’s about the patients we serve, the students we serve, our neighbors who need help.”