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Jacksonville announces hire of assistant city manager
  • Updated

A City of Tyler director has been hired by Jacksonville to fill its newly created assistant city manager position.

ReNissa Wade will start in the job early next month, according to a statement from the City of Jacksonville. Wade makes the move after a more-than 20-year career with the City of Tyler, where she most recently worked as a managing director responsible for multiple departments including human resources, water and wastewater, streets and engineering, according to city officials.

“Jacksonville is an outstanding community and I am humbled to be selected to be a part of this amazing team,” Wade said.

The assistant city manager job is a new one in Jacksonville.

City Manager James Hubbard said a city council strategic visioning session in February showed a need for someone to lead attraction, retention, training, risk management and succession planning initiatives.

“The council-supported decision to hire ReNissa is an indicator of their commitment to support and build the team necessary to effectively serve our citizens,” he said.

Hubbard said Wade exhibited the qualities the city was looking for in the new position.

“When Ms. Wade was interviewed, it was evident she had the talent, experience, and drive to do more for Jacksonville,” he said. “I am thrilled to name her as Assistant City Manager.”

In addition to leading human resource efforts, Wade will have oversight of multiple departments.

Wade has an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Tyler.

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Tyler police K-9 Dino celebrates birthday, set to receive protective vest
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Tyler Police Department K-9 and birthday boy Dino has a lot to celebrate these days.

The canine, who turned 4 on Wednesday, is set to receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K-9s.

Dino, currently the only Tyler police K-9, began serving with the department in 2019, according to department spokesman Andy Erbaugh.

Erbaugh said the type of vest Dino will get is essential in providing extra protection for the four-legged officer.

“This vest will serve as an extra layer of security that will allow officer Black, Dino’s handler, and Dino to ensure their safety as they serve the community,” Erbaugh said. “Unfortunately, sometimes the lives of police K-9s are taken by suspects using firearms and knives. Having Dino now wear a ballistic vest will give him the security he needs to stay as safe as possible while on the job.”

A $960 donation, which was raised by Robin Sawyers of Bed Bath n’ Bonz in Tyler, will sponsor one vest which ranges anywhere from $1,744 to $2,283, according to Vested Interest in K9s.

“It is an awesome thing to see how the community comes through for the members of the Tyler Police Department,” Erbaugh said.

The vest weighs an average of 4 to 5 pounds and will come with a five-year warranty.

Vested Interest in K9s, established in 2009, is a 501c3 charity with a mission to provide the vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the country. The group has provided more than 4,601 vests to K-9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by private and corporate donations, according to the organization.

Erbaugh said Dino’s new vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love-Trained to Serve-Loyal Always” and is expected to arrive within eight to ten weeks.

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New Tyler coffee shop focuses on community, giving back
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A recently opened coffee shop in Tyler is on a mission that involves more than just serving a cup of joe.

JumpShot Coffee has been serving not only the local community, but communities as far away as Uganda since it opened in late February, according to owner Sasha Rodriguez.

“Our shop is mainly a tool to impact our community locally, and to also make an impact internationally. My husband and I have both served in missions, and helping others locally and internationally has always been part of who we are,” Rodriguez said.

Part of that impact can be seen on a large mural on the outside wall of the business that depicts four of several young children in Uganda the couple has been aiding for years.

“At an orphanage in Uganda, we have been supporting 35 children,” Rodriguez said. “The kids in the mural are Namatovu Maria, Kawessa Ryan, Nakimuly Tracy, and Kaggude Jimmy and they are real kids that were rescued from the streets in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. They have suffered severe hardships throughout their lives.”

Rodriguez said the mural has been a conversation-starter, which she said was one of the goals.

“The purpose of the mural is to let everyone know a little bit of who we are and what we do, and hopefully, share some ‘hope’ with Tyler. It gives our customers the opportunity to enjoy and explore its beauty from up close, which is such a fun and unique experience; and it also causes them to ask questions.” she said. “Quite a few customers have already asked for the opportunity to help kids as well, not only through buying our coffee, but through directly sponsoring a child from the orphanage.”

Mural artist Dace Kidd said she felt compelled to take on the project.

“When I learned about the charity work of JumpShot Coffee, it deeply moved me,” she said. “The mural design wasn’t created yet; therefore, I was thrilled when we decided to use the photos of the kids from the orphanage in Uganda for the mural concept to emphasize the importance of charity.”

Kidd said she hopes the mural serves as an inspiration for others to be of service.

“We all can make a difference and make the world a better place,” she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes the business also makes an impact on a local level.

“In the short two months we have been open, we have been serving underprivileged people in our area. We have served free breakfast to homeless, widowed and hospitalized women in Tyler,” she said. “Beautifying our downtown, especially in the health district, where so many people with compromised health drive by every single day. Our goal has been to serve them by bringing art and beauty to their drive.”

Rodriguez went on to say something as simple as buying a cup of coffee can make a huge difference.

“We learned that serving is the essence of purpose. Everyone is called to serve somewhere, and that’s what brings true fulfillment to our lives. We are offering to our community the opportunity to give as an act of service, which has changed our lives personally,” she said. “Doing something as simple as buying coffee, or giving a little extra, can make a huge impact.”

The shop has set a grand opening for May 21. Rodriguez said they have big plans for the future.

“This is just the beginning. We soon hope to offer customers a $1 a day tax deductible donation with 100% of the money benefitting orphanages,” she said. “We also have plans to take a group of 10 to 15 volunteers to Uganda next year to visit the orphanage and participate in the construction of the new orphanage we will hopefully be able to build for them.”

JumpShot Coffee is located at 734 South Fleishel Ave. Hours of operation are 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

For more information, call (903) 630-4694 or visit the JumpShot Facebook page.

Bible verse 5.13.22

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.”

(Proverbs 31:10, 27-28)

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'American Idol' contestant, Tyler man Fritz Hager III releases new song

One self-titled EP with five songs landed Fritz Hager III a No. 1 spot on the iTunes chart. Fans have streamed those songs hundreds of thousands of times, and today a new song joins the lineup.

Hager, who is one of the top 5 contestants on Season 20 of “American Idol,” is releasing a new single called “Hearts Align” at midnight.

The 22-year-old from Tyler has teased the song on social media all week.

“It’s a dope song and I’m so excited to share it with you guys,” Hager wrote on Instagram on Tuesday.

In part, the lyrics include “’Cause you hold my days, and you haunt my nights; oh when it’s dark, you’re on my mind.”

The song is available on all streaming platforms.

The other remaining contestants, including Leah Marlene, Nicolina Bozzo, Noah Thompson and Huntergirl, also released singles today. Jay Copeland and Christian Guardino, who were eliminated last week, were also expected to release a new song.

Season 19 was the first time in “American Idol” history where contestants recorded in a studio, worked with professional producers, and released a song during the competition, according to Billboard.

A performance of two original songs landed Hager a spot in the top 5, and professionals have publicly complimented his songwriting skills in the past.

Grammy award winning artist compared Hager to artists such as John Legend.

“You’re one of those cats, you’ve got special talent,” he previously said as he raved about his songwriting abilities.

“American Idol” judge Lionel Richie, who was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, said Hager is not only a singer, songwriter and performer — he’s a star.

Hager has loved music since he was a toddler and has been writing songs since he was just 12 years old, according to his parents.

“He had a natural instinct for it,” mom Sarina Hager previously said of her son’s guitar playing and songwriting abilities.

Hager will compete against his fellow remaining contestants on the upcoming episode of “American Idol” which will reveal the final 3. The show airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

Locally, East Texans can reserve a spot for a live watch party in downtown Tyler on Sunday night. For free tickets and current availability, visit . Seating is limited.

If Hager is voted into the final 3, he will perform a free live concert at Bergfeld Park on Tuesday. The performance would be filmed as part of the hometown visits on the show, set to air as part of the finale. A full list of potential events on Tuesday will be announced at a later date, if applicable, according to Visit Tyler.

Tyler officials and residents alike are encouraging the community to vote for Hager.

There are three ways for supporters to vote during Sunday’s live episode. Voting is open until right after the final commercial break. Voting methods include online at, through the American Idol app, or by texting the contestant’s number to 21523 (Hager’s number will be announced during the live episode).