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  • Joe Biden and the Presidency

    Did Joe Biden win? Let's talk about that.

  • San Jacinto County turns out the vote

    SanJacelectionCOURTESY PHOTO Most of San Jacinto County voted “Red” or Republican in the 2020 election.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    SAN JACINTO COUNTY - San Jacinto County saw a little more than 65% of registered voters turn out for a mix of Election Day and absentee voting with an overwhelming majority participating in early voting at one of the 10 polling places within the county. 

    Overall, residents casted roughly 80% of votes for the current president Donald Trump with just under 20% for former vice-president, Joe Biden. Other elections followed similar voting trends, including the closely-watched race for senator between republican incumbent John Cornyn and democratic hopeful MJ Hegar, as well as State Representatives, Railroad Commissioner, judges positions and most other races that ran both democratic and republican candidates.

    For the City of Shepherd, Mayor Charles D. Minton will serve his second term along Lee “P.K.” Wesley Jr., who will act as a City Alderman. Yvonne Ryba Cones also earned a spot on the Shepherd City Council.

    Coldspring also voted to re-elect Pat Eversole as mayor, with 58% of the vote being cast in her favor.

    For a full list of election results for the county, please visit http://www.co.san-jacinto.tx.us/page/sanjacinto.Elections. Please note that as of press time, results are unofficial and are subject to change as provisional ballots are counted.

  • Shepherd city meets for election results

    Shepherd CityEMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA Yvonne R. Cones gets sworn in as a city alderman following the Nov. 3 elections.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    SHEPHERD - Brenda Myers, Executive Director of the Impact Center in Shepherd, addressed the council regarding ordinance violation fees she had received while trying to build a free-standing restroom near the center.

    Myers, who is being fined for failing to obtain a building permit which would ensure the structure is up to ADA standards, (a water and electric permit had been obtained prior), claimed she was given bad information when she asked what permits she would need. Per city ordinance, buildings that have not obtained all proper permits prior to construction will be fined double the original cost. Myers, along with several members of the crowd, pleaded with the council to drop the violation fees.

    After several minutes of discourse, a vote to dismiss the fine was reached, with the possibility of having the Shepherd Economic Development Cooperation (EDC) determine if they are able to help with the permit fees, since the restroom may serve public use. The Impact Center, located in Shepherd, is a 501c3 non-profit that provides relief programs to several surrounding counties.

    Update to voting results

    At 4:30 p.m., shortly before the Tuesday monthly council meeting, election results for the City of Shepherd were certified, with Mayor Charles P. Minton serving his second term as Mayor, unopposed. Lee “P.K.” Wesley Jr., who had won a majority of the votes and was set to take on an alderman position, was discovered to be ineligible to hold the position due to an old conviction on his record.

    Despite having served his term and taking care of all associated matters, according to Texas Election Code, a felony conviction leaves individuals unable to hold public office without a governor pardon, something the board and Wesley did not know until after the election. Since the offense occurred in Louisiana, he would need a pardon from that state’s governor to serve in Texas.

    The city’s attorney, Larry Foerster, spoke with the Secretary of State in Texas in an attempt to find a legal way that would allow Wesley to serve, citing overwhelming support from his community as a testament to his character, but was unable to find an initial solution. With two positions open for city alderman, Yvonne R. Cones will fill one, and if they are unable to find a course of action to instate Wesley, a special election will be held to fill the second.

    Both the legal entities for the city and Wesley encouraged the audience to reach out to representative Earnest Bailes and Robert Nichols to try and change the current law that makes felons ineligible to hold public office.

    Other Business

    With money left over from not holding a July fireworks ceremony, the Chamber of Commerce and Impact center are seeking to combine their holiday events for a Christmas fireworks show and parade on Dec. 5 with the parade starting at 6 p.m. Two job vacancies will be posted to the city’s website, one for a temporary front office position and the other for the public works department.

    The November Food Bank Drive will happen on Nov. 20 from 4-7 p.m.

  • Six file for two council seats

    N1411P33001CFILE PHOTO

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — The candidates seeking a position on the Groveton City Council each feel there is much more that can be done to make the city a better place.

    On May 1, Groveton residents will go to the polls to pick a mayor and two council members; early voting began Monday.

    One candidate, however, Mark Taylor, is withdrawing from the race for family reasons, and if elected, will not be able to serve, saying he would not be able to devote the proper amount of time.

    For the remaining candidates, infrastructure is key.

    Autumn Dial

    Community involvement is a major component of Autumn Dial’s candidacy, that and a belief that the town has seen better days, and can once again.

    “My family was on City Council in the ‘90s, and I have a little buzz for politics and want to give something back to the community,” she said. “It’s time for the next generation to get involved.”

    Dial said she has worked for the Nacogdoches Housing Authority for six years, worked in low-income housing and as a police dispatcher, and her dealings with people in all walks of life makes it easier to relate.

    “I’d like to see new businesses come to town, and more people get involved cleaning up of the local areas,” she said. “I remember riding the back roads with my grandparents and all the properties were pretty. We don’t have that now. The homes have gone to pot, and I want to see that come back. I’m proud of where I’ve come from.”

    Dial said other areas of concern include better pay for city workers, especially those in law enforcement.

    Philip Schmitten

    The former Air Force recruit Phillip Schmitten said that although he is not a Groveton native, he got here as quick as I could.

    Schmitten has lived in town seven years, and finds it to be a wonderful retirement community.

    “I love the people that live here, and I think there are some things that need addressing to make better,” he said. “We need things for the kids to do, so I would like to focus on creating a city park. The roads need some serious attention, as well as our water system.”

    Schmitten said he spent 21 years in the Air Force as combat photojournalist, and ran squads of men in battle conditions, which gave him leadership experience. Additionally, he learned about caring for other people while working as a special education teacher, as well as serving as president of the Groveton Lions Club. He also served two years as vice president of the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce.

    Robert Smith

    As one of the few incumbents running for re-election, Robert Smith said he wants to focus on continued improvement on all standards — neatness, the city’s water system and its streets.

    “I’m running because I’m interested in the city, and I want to continue improving the city,” he said. “I’ve been on the council three years. I look to serve.”

    The 1967 Groveton High School graduate said he brings experience, integrity and honesty to the table. That, combined with 26 years of work at the Lufkin Abitibi paper mill, and 16 years at the Diboll correctional facility, gives him the knowledge to serve the city well.

    “I’ve learned so much, such as we work on a budget,” he said. “People want this and that, but we have to follow that budget.”

    Chris McFarland

    Chris McFarland said he has a lifetime of experience in Groveton, which gives him a leg up on what needs the city has.

    “I have 52 years of living experience in Groveton, and I know everything there is to know about the town,” he said. “I’m tired of the way things are — not happy with the status quo. The dirt streets are a problem, and I think no one is getting adequate representation for the tax money they pay.

    “It’s ridiculous we don’t have a better place to live,” he said. “We should have decent roads and adequate law enforcement. This is messed up. Our city has been run into the ground for the last 50 years.”

    McFarland said he worked for TxDOT for 12 years and know how roads should be built, so he said he wants to focus on streets, along with the water system, emergency preparedness and “get the employees situation straightened out so they can do their work without having their hands tied.”

    “I’ve been met with huge opposition because I want to build streets out of concrete; it would be easy to do, and we can make our own cement and use our own materials,” he said. “I’ve been told it’s too expensive, but it’s not.”

    Dwane Alsbrooks

    “We’ve got a lot of problems with city streets and our water, and possibly I can bring some knowledge to the table and help the situation out,” said candidate Dwane Alsbrooks.

    Alsbrooks said he wants to focus on streets and the water and sewer system — all city infrastructure.

    He said that his 30 years of road-building experience, and having been in business for 30-plus years, gives him the background to not waste the tax dollars the city has, and fix the maintenance that’s been done on the streets, which he said has been done wrong.

    •Early voting began Monday, April 19, at Groveton City Hall, 115 W. Front St., and will end Tuesday, April 27. Polls on May 1 will open at 7 a.m.