Angelina Co. leaders visit Austin, learn about state-wide issues - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Angelina Co. leaders visit Austin, learn about state-wide issues

Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
AUSTIN, TX (KTRE) - It was a busy day in Austin for Angelina County officials.

Wednesday was Lufkin/Angelina County day and for leaders that meant a chance to see how the county can both benefit from and affect legislation. The day was more than just sightseeing at the Capitol. It was a day to see how the county fits in to the entire lone star state, with the main issues being how to improve rural health care and the situation at the Texas/Mexico border.

Dan Finch with the Texas Medical Association spoke to the group about the changing landscape of rural healthcare.

"It's not the same product that it used to be," Finch said. "It's become so complex that we need to do this in a physician lead approach."

Finch also stated that Texas needs to improve their residency program so doctors can stay in the state after medical school.

"We don't give them an opportunity to train in our state," Finch said. "We stand less of a likelihood of getting them back."

Yana Ogeltree with CHI St. Luke's Memorial hospital said she understood what Finch was talking about.

"We're not immune to any of those situations with rural healthcare," Ogeltree said. "We do have challenges with the pay with medicare and medicaid, but what we do have is that we are truly blessed with two great hospitals."

DPS Col. Steven McCraw also spoke to the group about what he calls a crisis at the U.S./ Mexico border.

McCraw stated that last June, his department detained around 38,000 illegal immigrants at the border in just two counties.

"It is scary," McCraw said. "You see what ISIS is doing and I can tell you that the cartel is a lot worse."

McCraw said his group is using the private sector to help them with technology to help in the fight  and it is a fight is is willing to take.

"We got no problem getting on the river with the black and white boats with machine guns; getting up in the air and getting after them because they don't care about Texans and they will kill you in a second," McCraw said.

McCraw said he wants to cut off the problem at the border so troopers in East Texas can focus on their area.

"It's important to recognize that here in Texas, our DPS and National Guardsmen understand the challenge we face and are willing to hit it head on," Representative Trent Ashby said.

The group that came today said they will take what they have learned and go back to the pineywoods with a plan to change the area.

"We'll have some legislative meetings and then meet with Ashby and see how it effects the pineywoods," Scott Skelton said.

Before the meetings, Representative Ashby presented chamber director Jerry Huffman, Angelina college president Dr. Larry Phillips and lufkin native and Miss Teen Texas Cassidy Brown with special resolutions honoring their service to the area.

The presentation came as a surprise to Huffman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

"I was honored," Huffman said. "I did not know they were doing that for me. I have enjoyed getting to do this for all these years."

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