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  • Oklahoma authorities arrest former Coldspring resident

    Marcus MorseCOURTESY PHOTO Former Coldspring resident Marcos Morse was arrested in Guymon, Oklahoma last week on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Morse had a pair of warrants out of Polk County for those crimes.

    By Jason Chlapek

    A suspect with outstanding warrants in Polk County and Coldspring ties was brought to justice Wednesday evening in Oklahoma.

    Marcus Morse, 23, was arrested by the Guymon Police Department in Guymon, Oklahoma. Morse had two warrants from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.

    At approximately 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, the GPD received a call from the PCSO that they had warrants for Morse’s arrest. GPD officers attempted to serve the warrants to Morse at his residence, but he wasn’t there.

    They learned that he was working at Seaboard Foods in Guymon, and they went there to make contact. GPD officers made contact with Morse an hour later and informed him of his warrants.

    Morse was placed in handcuffs and taken to the back of a patrol unit where he was transported to the Texas County Detention Center without incident. He was awaiting extradition to Polk County at press time.

    One Polk County resident who is pleased that justice was served is Hope McWhorter. Her 14-year-old nieces were the victims.

    “My nieces will get justice from this monster,” McWhorter said.

    Morse graduated from Coldspring-Oakhurst High School in 2015 and worked at the San Jacinto County Jail at one time. McWhorter said that she and her family took him and his family under their wing.

    “We took them in when they were living in a shelter in Houston,” she said. “We got his baby brother graduated when their mom ran off on them. My husband took (Marcus) under his wing and took him to work on pipeline with him. We also helped him financially. There is so much to list.”

    McWhorter said the incidents took place in October. Morse left for Oklahoma shortly after.

    “I would encourage kids to speak up if this is happening to them,” McWhorter said. “People will protect them. Listen to your kids or any kids if they’re trying to talk to you.”

  • On the rebound

    022521 weather 4PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Wayne Byers spreads a compound to help melt ice and snow.

    By Tony Farkas

    From rescheduling certain sporting events to clearing roads of dangerous conditions, workers at local, county and state levels as well as possible, given the nature of the weather event that shut the area down last week.

    Trinity City Manager Steven Jones called the weather last week unprecedented, and while water pressure was a problem at first, it was handled within a matter of hours.

    “The Trinity water system is up and running,” he said. “Other than people having personal problems, all is good with us. Our system was prepared for this; what happened was a mechanical function, a pump, which was repaired within a couple of hours, and a pipe burst which was fixed right away.”

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Apple Springs resident and neighbor Dreux Land distributes some water to the folks in Groveton who are still without. Good neighbors and great citizenship are what help make this a wonderful place to live.

    The city wells did perform, and any lapse in service was because of problems with Trinity River Authority equipment.

    Throughout the county, TxDOT scraped roads and applied a compound to melt the ice.

    Groveton Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett was out as long as possible each day, helping where he could, and inspecting streets for signs of water breaks.

    There was a major line break and Fourth and Crow streets, and Bennett asked residents to call the city if they suspect there are more water leaks.

    All area of town should have water restored by Wednesday, he said.

    Area schools from Apple Springs to Trinity went to remote learning and were closed for the week, although in Groveton, the school was on its winter break and only had to cancel some sporting events.

    Apple Springs Superintendent Cody Moree said he decided Feb. 12 to switch to remote learning for two days in light of forecasts, and then extended it through Monday.

    “Our greatest concern was for our students and families who spent extended time without power, heat and water,” Moree said. “But we are looking forward to getting back to face to face learning ASAP.”

    Centerville Superintendent Mark Brown also closed the campus, and while the first two days featured remote learning, the district will file an inclement waiver with the state to excuse the remaining three days.

    Trinity ISD was closed through Tuesday, and was to resume classes Wednesday, according to Superintendent John Kaufman.

    022521 weather 3PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Keith Rogers uses a front-end loader to remove snow and ice near the intersection of Main and FM 355 in Groveton.

    Other than two small water line breaks, there was minimal damage to the facilities, he said.

    The biggest obstacle, though, was delays in the delivery of food and milk to the cafeteria, and drinkable water was in high demand and short supply. 

    “We could have opened the district on Monday, but we have many students and staff members who are still without water, and I wanted to give our community and staff a few more days to try and recover,” Kaufman said. “This was a very damaging storm to our community and effected everyone in our town. The school district is very aware of the needs of our families and want to be very sympathetic to their concerns. I would like to thank the community for being patient and working with us as we try and navigate through these difficult times.”

    In a news release, Entergy Texas expected all customers who can safely take power were able to turn the lights on by the end of the business day on Friday.

    At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott, after issuing an emergency declaration for all Texas counties on Feb. 14, on Saturday announced that President Joe Biden approved a partial emergency declaration for Texas.

    FEMA added 33 Texas counties to the list on Monday, but Trinity County was not included at that time.

    Additionally, Abbott temporarily waived regulations from the Department of Motor Vehicles to aid in the response to winter weather and power outages throughout the state.

    These waivers allowed commercial vehicles to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere and doing emergency response.

    These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Trinity County Judge Doug Page looks on as Apple Sprints resident helps some of the waterless victims of Groveton with a helping hand, distributing free water to those who are in need.

    “As we continue to bring power and water back online throughout the state, it is essential that we deliver the food, water, and supplies that Texans need during these challenging times,” Abbott said. “These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency.”

    Since the Legislature is in session this year, Abbott added a mandate for the winterization of Texas' power system to the list of emergency items the state must tackle. 

    Abbott also requested a Major Disaster Declaration — which includes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program — from the White House. This declaration will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage.

    The state is also working to distribute food, water, generators, and additional supplies to Texas communities, and warming centers are established every day. For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit: https://open.texas.gov/winter

    Expressing concern about financial challenges Texans will face as a result of the winter storm, Abbott will address the need to ensure that Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market.

    The meeting include committee leaders, including Sen. Robert Nichols, who represents San Jacinto County.

    The Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees public utilities, prioritized natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order on Feb. 12, and recently extended it through Tuesday.

    This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

  • Onalaska Board meets for January

    OISD 03Onalaska ISD logo

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    ONALASKA - The Onalaska ISD school board met for their first meeting of the year to discuss logistics of 2021, including renewing the contract for Superintendent Anthony Roberts for another year with the district.

    The board approved Feb. 15 to be a staff development day in order to make up for the January in-service date that was canceled. This day will serve as a holiday to students as it is also Presidents Day.

    School board elections will take place on May 1, pending anyone chooses to run against the current incumbents for positions 3 and 6. Any parties interested in filing for a spot on the ballot can do so by visiting the Onalaska Administration office located at 134 North FM 356 in Onalaska, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Additional information, as well as the candidate packet, can be found at onalaskaisd.net by clicking on the “Superintendent’s Office” tab at the top and scrolling to the bottom link that says, “Click here for School Board Election Information”

    While government mandates offer paid sick leave to school faculty expired on Dec. 31, but the board voted to extend the benefits. This will allow faculty and staff to take time off due to exposure or infection of Covid-19 and will remain in effect the rest of the year.

    For a calendar of future Onalaska ISD board meetings and other district events, please visit https://www.onalaskaisd.net/ , click on the “Superintendent’s Office” tab at the top, scroll to the bottom and click “School Board Agendas”.

  • Onalaska City recognizes local election results

    SwearinChoateEMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA I PCE David Johnson swears in newly re-elected Mayor Chip Choate before being sworn in himself as Municipal judge.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    ONALASKA - Re-elected Mayor Chip Choate opened the monthly Onalaska city meeting with news of an agreement made with TXDOT to allow the city to place flags on the Kickapoo Creek bridge, outside of the guardrails. Traditionally, the city has put flags along Highway 190 on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, but has been unable to along the bridge due to TXDOT regulations.

    During his announcements, the mayor also encouraged meeting-goers to reach out to their representatives, James White and Robert Nichols, citing their inaction on legislation to assist the Alabama-Coushatta reservation in retaining their gaming activities. With hundreds of bills already filed for the 87th legislation, which will start at noon on Jan. 21, 2021, there is still time to reach out to representatives to better help the tribe, which helps bring millions of dollars to East Texas and Polk County.

    For a list of representatives by zip code, visit www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

    The city approved several hires and appointments, including Onalaska-raised Simon Prince, who will serve as a full-time officer with a standard probationary period. Chief Jessica Stanton said his prior experience includes working in Cleveland and in San Jacinto County before deciding to move back.

    Other positions include the re-appointment of David Johnson for Municipal Judge, Associate Judge Greg Magee, city council member Paul Laverty, and newly appointed Attorney and Prosecutor for Onalaska, Chris Thompson. Thompson will replace David Mormon, who earlier resigned after 17 years with the city to take on a judgeship for Walker County.

    Shirley Gilmore was also continue serving as Mayor Pro-tem.

    City Events

    On Nov. 21, the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department will hold a blood drive from 2:30-7 p.m. Those wishing to participate must sign up online prior to giving blood.

    Sign-up forms can be found at tinyurl.com/y56z8mkp.All. Successful donations will include a free Covid-19 anti-body test.

    The Second Annual Onalaska Reindeer Dash will be on the afternoon of Dec. 5, which the Christmas Parade immediately following. Parade participants will toss candy and parade-goers are encouraged to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

    For more information on the race or parade, contact Tammy Seader at 936-646-5000 or visit the city’s Facebook Page. Parade forms are also available online at cityofonalaska.us.

    The City of Onalaska meets every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Public comments can be made at beginning of the meeting.

  • Onalaska pines on Canyon Park

    Onalaska HorizontalPhoto by Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula Mayor Chip Choate swears in newly hired Police Officer Heather Perry.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    POLK COUNTY — The city board met for a quick meeting this month to provide information on early voting and ongoing city events.Canyon Park Months after a tornado struck the area several structures in the Canyon Park subdivision are still in violation of city ordinances, but will continue without penalty, as plans to correct or condemn structures are finalized with Onalaska Fire Marshall Lee Parish. A request to allow the full-time residents of a motor home within city limits in Canyon Park was made and denied. While the Canyon Park POA approved the structure, Parish stated that in the past similar mobile home requests have been denied within city limits, which falls in line with the current city ordinance in place.

    Other Business
    The board accepted the resignation of Jeremy Williams in good standing, and welcomed Heather Perry onto the police force for a standard probationary period. She is a graduate of the Angelina Police Academy in Lufkin, and Onalaska Police Chief Jessica Stanton said references spoke highly of Perry and that she led by example in the academy and strived to motivate the other cadets around her. Announcements Early voting is underway in Polk County. A schedule of times, places, sample ballots, and accepted forms of identification can be found at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.co.clerk.election. A precinct map is also available.

    Twin Harbors will host a drive-thru Trunk-Or-Treat celebration on Saturday, Oct. 31 from12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Twin Harbors POA Pool Parking lot at 274 Valley view Drive in Onalaska. For any questions or if you wish to pass out candy, contact Barbara Dickens at 281-630-5120 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fire department will hold their annual letter drive soon, their only fundraiser this year since the barbecue event was canceled due to the tornado. The City of Onalaska meets every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Public comments can be made at beginning of the meeting.

  • One arrested in murder case

    052021 suspectMUGSHOT Emmanuel Smith

    By Tony Farkas

    CLEVELAND — Two people have been arrested in the April 22 shooting death of a Cleveland resident.

    Emmanuel Smith, 20, a resident of the Porter/New Caney area, was arrested in Montgomery County in connection with the shooting death of Clay Heard. A second suspect, who was not identified at this time, is currently being held in Montgomery County Jail on drug charges.

    Detective Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Office said that the two men were found in the Home Depot parking lot in Conroe and were arrested by tactical officers of the Houston Police Department and agents of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Heard, who is from Cleveland, was found shot in the head in a ditch in south San Jacinto County, and police began investigating the death as a homicide. Over time, SJCSO detectives, Texas Rangers, Houston Police, Homeland Security and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.

    The arrest involved a tactical team because it was believed that the two men were most likely to be armed, Sharpen said.

    The case remains under investigation; however, Sharpen said the crime appears to be drug-related.

    According to reports, on April 22, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the SJCSO received a call about an unresponsive male laying in the ditch, about two miles down Forest Service Road 201 from FM 1725 in the Cleveland area, deep inside the National Forest.

    Deputies arrived and found the victim, who had been shot one time in the head, and then immediately notified the SJCSO Detective Division.

    Smith has been charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. He is being held on a $1 million bond.

  • One arrested in shooting incident

    042921 shootingMUGSHOT Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr.

    Special to the News-Times

    WILLIS — A Willis man was seriously injured after being shot three times in the stomach on Wednesday, and a suspect in in custody on a charge of aggravated assault.

    Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr. is being held in the San Jacinto County Jail on a $100,000.00 bond after being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

    According to SJCO reports, on April 21 at about 5 p.m., deputies were notified about a shooting in the 100 block of Foxfire Lane in Willis. The victim was shot three times in the midsection of his body.

    Law enforcement personnel immediately began lifesaving procedures, along with the Bear Creek Fire Department firefighters and EMS crews. The victim was then taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he went into surgery and was listed in stable condition.

    The report states that further investigation revealed the name of the suspect, who had fled back into the house at the original address and barricaded himself in.

    The suspect reportedly was heavily armed, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, its 30-man SWAT Team, a robot, Bomb Squad, and two drones were sent to the scene.

    Officers began a search of the area, which was about eight to 10 acres large with outbuildings and houses; however, the suspect had fled out the back door of the house, the report states. He was arrested Thursday without incident.

  • One arrested in single-car crash

    031121 crashMUGSHOT Blake Ellery Partain

    TCNS staff

    APPLE SPRINGS — A Kennard man was arrested Sunday for a one-vehicle crash that left a woman dead.

    Blake Ellery Partain, 29, is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter in connection with the death of Chelsea McBride, 29.

    According to reports from the Department of Public Safety, troopers were notified of a one-vehicle crash on FM 357, about 2 ½ miles north of Apple Springs.

    The preliminary crash investigation indicates at about 2 a.m., a 2009 Dodge pickup, reportedly driven by Partain, was traveling north at an unsafe speed when the driver drove off the roadway to the right, then crossed back over the roadway and struck a tree. The pickup then caught on fire.

    McBride was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Trinity County Justice of the Peace, the report states.

    During the investigation, Partain was determined to be intoxicated and taken into custody, the report states.

    This crash remains under investigation.

  • Parents allege child abuse, seek answers

    IMG 7787ALTON PORTER | HCC Exterior of the Treehouse Academy, a daycare in Crockett, Texas.

    By Alton Porter

    A group of parents who had children at a Crockett day care are still searching for answers after a grand jury voted to no-bill a case in December.

    Criminal charges will not move forward against past employees — Shaquill Johnson, Sekelthia Nicole Jackson and Sabrina Griffin — of Treehouse Academy at 301 Renaissance Way for alleged child abuse. They were charged in April and May 2020 with abandoning or endangering children at the day care.

    All cases were closed after a Dec. 2, 2020 Houston County grand jury hearing returned a no-bill. That decision means the jury did not feel there was enough probable cause for arrests or charges to move forward, Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar said in an interview with Polk County Publishing Company.

    Therefore, the case will not proceed to trial unless another grand jury finds probable cause with additional evidence.

    As prosecutors are not present in the jury room during a vote, no explanation was given as to the grand jury’s decision, Kaspar said, adding she was unaware of any further investigation into the alleged incidents.

    The investigation began after Treehouse Academy teacher Paola Mendez, whose two-year-old son attended the day care at the time, came forward with video evidence that her child had been mistreated or abused by some of the staff. Mendez said her son got to the point where “everyday he was crying all day” at school and at home in the middle of the night, behaving strangely at home and mimicking what he experienced at the day care.

    In an interview with Polk County Publishing Company, Mendez said her son was “scared of Shaquill (Johnson) and (Sheklethia Nicole Jackson) due to alleged mistreatment,” adding, when she arrived at work each morning, “once he would see them, he would start screaming and crying, and he would continue to hide.”

    Mendez said this was very confusing and concerning and wanted to know what was going on, so she obtained access to videos taken by surveillance cameras at the facility. In viewing the videos, she saw employees spanking and hitting her son and other children; dragging children by their arms, legs and ears; grabbing them by their hair; slapping one in the mouth; cursing to some of them; and other unacceptable things.

    Mendez said she was later fired by Treehouse Academy owner Lyndsey Rice. She obtained copies of videos showing children at the day care allegedly being abused from her attorney. She said many of the videos were not included in the montage that was presented to the grand jury.

    “They do not show the dragging” of a child, she said. “They do not show the slamming him in the mat. They do not show them picking him up waist-high and then slamming him down and dragging him off.”

    She also said grand jurors were not shown a child being grabbed by the hair to make her sit, another child who was grabbed by the ear to make him sit, or one who was “popped in the mouth.”

    In addition to reporting the alleged abuses to police detectives and her lawyer, Mendez said she and three other parents upset by the alleged mistreatment of their children reported the information they had to the district attorney’s office.

    Physical discipline of children in a day care setting is prohibited, Mendez noted.

    “You cannot discipline a child (with) anything physical. You cannot do anything of that matter. You cannot spank them. You can’t pinch them. You can’t pull their hair. You can’t even thump them.”

    Mendez said she and seven other parents whose children allegedly were abused at the day care were hoping their attorney and the district attorney would reopen the cases under a different charge.

    “We were all kind of hoping to do that,” she said. “And what we understood was they were supposed to take it back to the grand jury. And now, they’re saying that they’re not because there’s no new evidence, which that still does not make sense to me. I think that they have enough.”

    Asked for her reaction to the charges against her former employees and the grand jury’s no bills, the academy’s owner declined comment on the matters.

    “I’m not going to comment on this,” Rice said. “I’m not going to comment on anything, because I have not been told anything yet. I don’t want to make any comments right now, because that has not even been told to me yet. I just would like to not make any comments at this time.”

    Allegations of abuse toward the children at Treehouse Academy in 2020 resulted in Johnson, Jackson and Griffin being charged for the alleged offenses and arrest warrants issued by officers of the Crockett Police Department (CPD).

    After the first warrant was issued for Johnson, she turned herself in to authorities April 26, 2020, on the charge of abandoning or endangering a child — a state jail felony offense — at Treehouse Academy after the initial stages of an investigation. She was released on a $50,000 bond later that day.

    Jackson turned herself in to law enforcement personnel on the same charge the next day. She was released the day after on a bond in the same amount as Johnson’s.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Crockett police detectives issued an arrest warrant for Griffin, also on abandoning or endangering a child, and she turned herself in to the authorities the next day. She also was released from jail on bond, but one of a smaller amount.

    The allegations of abuse toward children at Treehouse Academy were in regard to the 2- to 3-year-old (children) class.

    In an April 16, 2020 statement, Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith said detectives met with the day care’s administrative personnel and obtained surveillance camera recordings during initial stages of the investigation. A follow-up statement on Monday, May 4, 2020 said the initial investigation began with abuse allegations in the two- to three-year-old classroom, but expanded to include all age groups and classrooms.

    Smith stated then that Treehouse Academy executives and staff members cooperated with police department detectives throughout the thorough investigation.

  • Patsy Wilson Citrus Drive

    20201208 133444COURTESY PHOTO Family honors former volunteer by providing produce to the community.

    LIVINGSTON— Former Center of Hope volunteer Patsy Wilson would have been pleased to see families in need receiving bags of oranges during the holidays.

    Patsy's family decided to honor her after she passed Sunday. They are providing many in the area with one of her favorite memories.

    "Growing up in Tyler, her favorite thing at Christmas time was she would get an orange," Patsy’s daughter-in-law Leigh Wilson said. "It was outside the means of her family's budget, but it was always their treasure at Christmas. She loved it and would always bring Cuties over here (to Center of Hope) at Christmas time."

    The family decided to buy as many of the small oranges as possible, bringing them to Center of Hope for families to enjoy. They purchased 112 bags of Cuties from Walmart and 3,024 candy canes.

    "We were actually thinking that maybe we would work with the Center of Hope and start an annual citrus drive for the mission Christmas time — the Patsy Wilson Citrus Drive," Leigh said.

    Patsy retired in 2003 and volunteered at Center of Hope. She was part of move to the center's current location and is remembered as a compassionate person who helped others. Always involved in the community, her focus was preventing childhood hunger and spreading joy. 

    The family is asking that all expressions of sympathy for Patsy be sent to the Center of Hope to continue her legacy. They are challenging all who are able to help during the holidays.

    "She had a heart for single parents struggling to feed their babies," daughter LaJuana Lattimore said of Patsy. "She made sure that every mother that needed food for her babies got it."

    Patsy worked in food service in the Humble Independent School District for 37 years. She was a dietitian and constructed menus for school children.

    "This is the way that we are expressing our grief for her, because this would just freak her out," Leigh said. "She would be like a kid in a candy store."

    For families to receive donations by Christmas, the Center of Hope is asking that blessings of food or funds are submitted as soon as possible. The center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-3:30 p.m.

    Those hoping to submit produce are encouraged drop off items at 12:30 p.m. for 1 p.m. distributions. Center of Hope serves approximately 100 families on each of the two days per week.

    The center is located at 600 South Washington in Livingston and may be reached at 936-327-7634.

    MonCOURTESY PHOTO Patsy Wilson

  • PCSO arrests 2 in drug sting

    SANDY LYNNE SWEETMUGSHOT Sandy Lynne Sweet

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Two suspects are behind bars after Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies conducted a drug sting on Sunday.

    PCSO narcotics division detectives and patrol deputies arrived at a residence on Boatdock Street in the scenic loop area to conduct an investigation into the possession of illegal narcotics. Detectives had received numerous tips in reference to the high traffic volumes and the belief of narcotics transactions taking place at the residence.

    RICK EDWARD RULEMUGSHOT Rick Edward Rule

    Detectives have been conducting a lengthy investigation into this residence due to the narcotics tips. While on scene, deputies identified Rick Edward Rule, 56, and Sandy Lynne Sweet, 58, inside the residence.

    During the investigation, probable cause was established for the search of the residence and a search warrant was obtained. A search of the residence revealed several firearms, methamphetamine, a large amount of what is believed to be heroin and fentanyl, as well as items used to ingest and distribute the narcotics.

    It was known to detectives that Rule was a convicted felon still out on parole and due to this fact, Rule was not legally allowed to possess firearms. Rule and Sweet were both charged with manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, and Rule was additionally charged with tampering with evidence and four charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by felon.

  • PCSO arrests man in shooting death

    Dallas SimonDallas Simon

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – A man is behind bars after shooting his brother to death Sunday afternoon in Onalaska.

    Dallas Joseph Simon, 55, was arrested for murder after he shot his brother, 57-year-old Kevin Simon, to death after a brief altercation. Dallas Simon was booked into the Polk County Jail with a murder charge and a bond set at $100,000.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from Dallas Simon who stated he and his brother, Kevin Simon, got into an altercation and he shot him. Deputies responded to the residence, off of May Drive in Polk County, and found Kevin Simon deceased at the property.

    Investigators arrived on scene and began to process the crime scene and interview witnesses. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Robert Johnson conducted the inquest and ordered an autopsy to be performed by Jefferson County.

  • PCSO seeks shooting suspect

    LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A 19-year-old female is still hospitalized after she was shot in Goodrich last week.

    On the night of Jan. 30, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the Siesta County Subdivision after receiving 911 calls of a shooting victim. At the scene, the 19-year-old female was found to have a single gunshot wound to her abdomen during an altercation involving several people that were attending a party at the location.

    Others that showed up believed to have escalated the altercation. The victim was transported to Kingwood Hospital where she is listed at this time in stable condition in the intensive Care Unit.

    Detectives have conducted interviews with several persons present at the time of the shooting and is asking that anyone with information to provide to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks suspects in trailer theft

    SUSPECT TRUCK STOLEN CARGO TRAILERPHOTOS COURTESY OF PCSO A cargo trailer was stolen from an Onalaska residence on January 1, 2021.

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in obtaining information in regard to a theft that occurred on Jan. 1, at a residence in the Pine Harbor subdivision, in Onalaska.

    At approximately 2 a.m., the suspect(s) hooked up to the victim’s 2021 Cargo Express Enclosed Utility Trailer, and took it from the victim’s property.

    CARGO TRAILERCOURTESY PHOTO Cargo trailer

    Anyone who knows the identity of these suspects or has any information in reference to this case that will help with the investigation, is asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where they can remain anonymous and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. People may also contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division directly and speak to a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • Pet Show kicks off 2021 Houston County Fair (GALLERY)

    2021 Houston Co Fair 3ALTON PORTER | HCCQueen Ayvery Sallee, left, and Princess Kallie Jo Stephens are this year’s royalty for the Houston County Fair & Youth Livestock Show and Home & Garden Fair. They were introduced to attendees at the annual event’s Pet Show Tuesday evening.

    By Alton Porter

    The 2021 Houston County Fair & Youth Livestock Show and Home & Garden Fair is being held this week at the usual places, the Porth Ag Arena in Crockett and Crockett Civic Center.

    Participants assembled at the arena and set up the fairgrounds for the event Monday evening and it was kicked off with the check-in of many of the animals and home and garden items entered in the various shows and the holding of the Pet Show late Tuesday afternoon and evening.

    The Pet Show, which features youngsters and their pets, is one of the most popular fair activities.

    Pet Show class award winners were Lacey Currie and her dog Dixie, in the Mixed Breed Under 25 Pounds class; Kayleigh Hicks and her dog Lucy, in the Mixed Breed Over 25 Pounds class; Charlee Culpepper and her pet dog, in the Pure Breed Under 25 Pounds class; Isaac Mathison and his dog Piper, in the Pure Breed Over 25 Pounds class; and Kade Stephens and his lizard Mushi, in the Miscellaneous Animals class.

    The Best of Show trophy was won by Kennedy Craycraft and pet, the Best Team trophy by Nolan Jansky and pet, the Best Groomed trophy by Corey Hicks and his pet, the Showmanship trophy by Carley Tucker and pet and the Best Mannered trophy by Jase Turner and his pet.

    Tobi Curless, left, leading a llama, and Chuck Curless, leading an alpaca, along with Kathy Curless, not pictured, presented a demonstration with the two animals to attendees at the Pet Show of the 2021 Houston County Fair & Youth Livestock Show and Home & Garden Fair Tuesday evening. ALTON PORTER | HCC

    Tobi Curless, left, leading a llama, and Chuck Curless, leading an alpaca, along with Kathy Curless, not pictured, presented a demonstration with the two animals to attendees at the Pet Show of the…

    2020 Houston County Fair Queen Jamie Welch, right, and Princess Laney Smith were introduced to fair attendees Tuesday. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    2020 Houston County Fair Queen Jamie Welch, right, and Princess Laney Smith were introduced to fair attendees Tuesday. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Queen Ayvery Sallee, left, and Princess Kallie Jo Stephens are this year’s royalty for the Houston County Fair & Youth Livestock Show and Home & Garden Fair. They were introduced to attendees at the annual event’s Pet Show Tuesday evening. ALTON PORTER | HCC

    Queen Ayvery Sallee, left, and Princess Kallie Jo Stephens are this year’s royalty for the Houston County Fair & Youth Livestock Show and Home & Garden Fair. They were introduced to attendees at…

    acey Currie and her dog Dixie won the trophy in the Mixed Breed Under 25 Pounds class competition at the Houston County Fair Pet Show Tuesday. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    acey Currie and her dog Dixie won the trophy in the Mixed Breed Under 25 Pounds class competition at the Houston County Fair Pet Show Tuesday. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Kayleigh Hicks and her dog Lucy were presented the trophy for winning the Mixed Breed Over 25 Pounds class competition by 2020 Fair Princess Laney Smith at the Houston County Fair Pet Show Tuesday. ALTON PORTER | HCC

    Kayleigh Hicks and her dog Lucy were presented the trophy for winning the Mixed Breed Over 25 Pounds class competition by 2020 Fair Princess Laney Smith at the Houston County Fair Pet Show Tuesday.

    Charlee Culpepper and her dog are the winners of the trophy in the Pure Breed Under 25 Pounds class competition of this year’s Houston County Fair Pet show. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Charlee Culpepper and her dog are the winners of the trophy in the Pure Breed Under 25 Pounds class competition of this year’s Houston County Fair Pet show. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Isaac Mathison and his dog Piper are winners of the trophy in the Pure Breed Over 25 Pounds class competition of the 2021 Houston County Fair Pet Show. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Isaac Mathison and his dog Piper are winners of the trophy in the Pure Breed Over 25 Pounds class competition of the 2021 Houston County Fair Pet Show. ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Kade Stephens and his lizard Mushi won the trophy in the Miscellaneous Animals class competition at the Houston County Pet Show Tuesday. A ALTON PORTER | HCC
    Kade Stephens and his lizard Mushi won the trophy in the Miscellaneous Animals class competition at the Houston County Pet Show Tuesday. A ALTON PORTER | HCC
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    Before the Pet Show competitions were held, three Latexo-area residents—Kathy Curless, Chuck Curless and Tobi Curless—put on a demonstration with one of their llamas and one of their alpacas for the show attendees.

    In addition, both last year’s fair and livestock show queen and princess and this year’s royalty were introduced to the event attendees.

    The 2020 queen was Jamie Welch, a Latexo High School graduate who now attends Texas A&M University. Laney Smith, a fifth grader at Kennard Elementary School, was the 2020 princess.

    This year’s queen is Ayvery Sallee, a Lovelady High School Senior, and the 2021 princess is Kallie Jo Stephens, of Latexo, a Grapeland Middle School student.

    The fair and youth livestock show activities will continue through Saturday, when the participants will clean up the fairgrounds, and the climaxes of the event will be held Friday: the Buyers Appreciation Dinner, beginning at 4 p.m., and the Sale of Champions, beginning at 6 p.m.

  • PLAY BALL

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE JT Drake (seated) recently organized a lemonade and hot dog stand that raised more than $4,000 dollars – all of which went to Making Sports Possible. Jason (second from left) and Gisele Ivy (third from right) are the co-founders of MSP, which helps underprivileged youth in Polk County pay for sign-up fees and equipment to play sports. Also pictured are JT’s parents Rachel (far left) and Marty Drake (second from right) and his sister Sully (far right).

    Local youth raises $4K for nonprofit sports organization

    By Jason Chlapek

    JT Drake likes to play sports, particularly baseball.

    JT, 7, plays Little League in Livingston and Select in Kingwood. Recently, the son of Marty and Rachel Drake did something that most children his age wouldn’t think about doing – start a fundraiser.

    JT was the brainchild behind a hot dog and lemonade stand that brought in more than $4,000. The money isn’t going to his college fund either.

    Each dollar of the $4,076.37 that JT and his family raised that Saturday afternoon was donated to a local nonprofit organization called “Making Sports Possible.” Gisele and Jason Ivy are the heads of MSP, which provides funds for sign-up fees and equipment for underprivileged children who otherwise can’t afford to play.

    “I wanted to make sports possible so more kids could play,” JT said.

    The Drake family began selling hot dogs, cookies and lemonade on their front lawn at 10 a.m. that day and stopped selling at 3 p.m. While the entire amount was not raised in that five-hour window, there were other methods people used to donate to JT’s cause.

    “People also mailed money in and we had a lot of online donations,” Rachel Drake said. “We posted on social media that we had a lemonade stand.”

    Last Tuesday, Gisele and Jason Ivy presented a trophy to JT at Bull Shack Coffee and Smoothies. The couple also has a connection with the Drake family, which includes younger daughter Sullivan, or “Sully.”

    “We know Marty and Rachel from coaching the Go-Getters with Marty,” Gisele said. “We know their heart. We were surprised when we found out that JT wanted to do it, but we weren’t surprised that they did it because JT is such a sweet boy. It’s a blessing and perfect timing.”

    MSP was organized in 2017 and started paying for underprivileged Polk County youth to participate in sports in 2018. The organization partners with youth basketball, baseball, football, soccer and softball leagues in Polk County.

    “We saw the need to pay for some kids to play sports when my nephews played,” Jason said. “You would have kids show up one year then not show up the next because they didn’t have the funds to play.”

    Jason Ivy graduated from Livingston in 1998 and joined the Army, where he served for 10 years. He and his wife, Gisele, LHS Class of 1994, moved back to Livingston in 2008.

    “One year we had a pair of brothers on a team that had to share the same bat, the same glove and the same helmet,” Gisele said. “They couldn’t be on the field at the same time.”

    Those instances inspired Jason and Gisele to put their heads together and try to figure out a way to not only make sure Polk County youth didn’t have to share playing equipment, but also make sure they had enough money to sign up to play.

    “We reached out to friends and tried to fund it ourselves,” Gisele said. “But then we got together and decided to start this nonprofit.”

    MSP also has a governing board of six members. In the previous three years, the organization has helped an average of 50-60 youth participate in sports.

    “Almost every member on our board has been a member of the board since we started this organization,” Jason said. “Everybody continues to be an internal part of what we do. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We’re grateful for each and every board member. It’s a big family-oriented organization. The more people know about us, the more the funds increase. We want to help more kids and reach out to the community.”

    A year ago, MSP was planning its annual color run fundraiser when Covid-19 hit. That fundraiser, as well as others, were canceled.

    MSP also had raffles, motorcycle rides, sold tacos and set up booths at Hometown Christmas. The timing of JT’s fundraiser couldn’t have been more ideal.

    “It was a God-send that he decided to do that right then and there,” Gisele said. “We were pretty low on funds and this is our biggest sign-up season because it’s baseball, softball and soccer all at the same time. This is the time where we have the most kids, so for him to decide to do that was amazing.”

    According to the Ivy’s, JT’s fundraiser was the only fundraiser that MSP had this year. In addition to baseball, JT also plays basketball and golf, but baseball is his favorite.

    JT plays on the coach-pitch level in both Little League and Select. Although he can play catcher, any of the three outfield positions, shortstop or third base, JT has his favorite position.

    “My favorite position is third base because you have to have a strong arm in order to get the ball over to first base,” he said.

    After the five-hour fundraiser, there was still plenty of food left. JT’s generous nature kicked in when he and his family were deciding what to do with the leftovers.

    “We had leftover hot dogs and we gave them to people who didn’t have a house,” JT said.

  • Point Blank bringing in revenue

    point blank doc

    By Jason Chlapek

    POINT BLANK — The City of Point Blank brought in nearly $10,000 more than expected during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

    Point Blank Mayor Mark Wood reported to council aldermen during the monthly city council meeting on Oct. 12 that the total income for the previous fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was $121,270. The projected total income for the fiscal year was $111,400.One of the things Wood believes helped the city was its sales tax revenue. It has gone up each of the last seven years from $40,964.50 in 2013-14 to $76,854.20 in 2019-20.

    “One of the more interesting charts is the sales tax that the city’s received during the fiscal year,” Wood said. “In 2014, we were at $40,000, which averaged about $3,400 a month. Now we’re getting $76,000, which is averaging $6,400 a month. This substantial increase is due to getting all of the people on the tax rolls that needed to be. This has stayed constant.”

    During the previous fiscal year, the lowest the city took in sales tax revenue was $4,177.51, which was during the statewide shutdown because of Covid-19. However, the city bounced back to collect more than $6,000 per month in each of the last five months of the fiscal year, including a seven-year high of $9,055.57 in August.

    “This comes from people living up here as opposed to just using their summer or vacation homes,” Wood said. “Instead of going back to Houston, they’re either working up here or moving up here. If you look at Point Blank, you won’t see any houses for sale. This is unusual and I don’t know how long it’s going to last; if it’s purely Covid-related or if it’s an honest increase in population. This is Precinct 4 and this is where thepredominant development in San Jacinto County is. It’s a little hard to tell how much of this is actually from Covid and how much of it is real growth. We’re a retirement community and I don’t see anything dynamic. It’s pretty interesting.”

    While there is some growth in Point Blank, Wood said that growth in commerce would be more beneficial as opposed to just residential growth. He also said there have been rumors going around that his city has been mentioned in the talks of being in or along the Interstate 14 corridor, which is expected to follow the US Highway 190 corridor.

    "I don’t think a lot of people want growth,” Wood said. “It would be nice to have some jobs and industry here. There’s a lot of things going on.”

  • Point Blank discusses drainage problems

    Screenshot 2020 11 17 20201116 122303 2 pdfCourtesy photo - 2020: A Google Map view of the Forest Cove subdivision from the year 2020.

    By Jason Chlapek

    POINT BLANK – Point Blank city council aldermen decided to table an agenda item regarding the Forest Cove subdivision during last week’s city council meeting on Nov. 9 at the Point Blank Civic Center.

    The issue regarding Forest Cove is its drainage. The subdivision was platted in 1979.

    “The drainage has been happening since it was first platted,” Point Blank Mayor Mark Wood said. “Forest Cove has a rough infrastructure where the roads are not in good shape. You’ll see that throughout the city.”

    Wood and other council aldermen are going to research the problem before coming to a consensus on what to do. The decision could be made by next month’s city council meeting, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

    During the month of October, Point Blank made a profit of $9,631.71. The city’s net operating income is now $6,382.80.

    The sales tax revenue compensation for the month of October was $8,284.01. Wood doesn’t know if these types of numbers are permanent or temporary though.

    “We made money during Covid because the people who own lake houses either moved up here or spend more time here,” he said. “I don’t know if the growth is permanent, but you don’t see houses for sale. It’s an interesting phenomenon that I didn’t anticipate.”

    Wood also discussed how the city determines how much money to spend on street repairs per subdivision. He also talked about the outdated POA assessments.

    “The POAs were set up in the 1970s and they have never upped their assessments,” Wood said. “There’s not a property tax base in Point Blank either. What we do is set a budget for what we think we can spend on streets for the fiscal year. We had a really good year last year and we try to spend it based on the percentage of miles in each subdivision.”

    The actual street mileage for the North Woods subdivision is 4.57 miles, Governor’s Point is 4.07 miles, Forest Cove is 2.574 miles and the remainder of the city is 4.925 miles. Last month, the city spent $500 on street repairs (Forest Cove $79.75, Governor’s Point $126.09, North Woods $141.58, rest of city $152.58).

  • Police arrest sexual assault suspect

    crime stoppersMUGSHOT David Lynn Turner of Houston

    Special to the News-Times

    The San Jacinto and Montgomery County Sheriff’s offices are seeking potential victims in connection with an ongoing sexual assault case.

    According to a release from Multi-County Crime Stoppers, on May 4, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint investigation into allegations of sexual assault made by several victims describing similar incidents.

    During the investigation it was learned that the suspect, David Lynn Turner of Houston, targeted several of his victims through various social media platforms and dating apps.

    The release states Turner, a former reserve Texas Peace Officer in Harris County between 2012 and 2015, is alleged to have driven the women to remote locations in San Jacinto and surrounding counties under the guise of "Ghost Hunting," where he would then force himself upon the women in various ways.

    As a result of the investigation, Turner was arrested on May 4 and charged with two counts of sexual assault, and currently is being held in the San Jacinto County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

    The release states that law enforcement officials believe Turner's activities began in December 2018 in the greater Southeast Texas region, with potential victims from Beaumont, Galveston, Katy, The Woodlands, Coldspring and Livingston.

    San Jacinto County and Montgomery County detectives continue to investigate, and are seeking contact with possible additional victims, the release states.

    Anyone with information or interactions associated with David Lynn Turner or similar incidents are encouraged to contact the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 653-4367 or the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 760-5800.

    To remain completely anonymous, call Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867).

  • Polk County approves land for solar plant

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP law firm talks to Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County could be getting solar power in the next few years.

    Commissioners approved a measure to establish a reinvestment zone for the purpose of tax abatement to provide economic development within the county Tuesday morning. The reinvestment zone consists of a total of 5,939.349 acres in the eastern portion of the county.

    “Solar power will bring jobs and new industry.,” George Riggs of Long Road Energy said. “It builds the tax base and it’s more revenue for the landowners. The more projects you have like this, the more opportunities you have for storage of equipment, warehousing and repair facilities. It brings a whole new dynamic to the area. In addition to timber, you have a whole new industry.”

    The county has been in talks with solar companies for nearly four years. The project is expected to break ground during the first quarter of 2021 and completion is projected for the fourth quarter of 2022.

    “This process has taken about four years,” Riggs said. “Normally it takes about 3-4 years to get it approved. Once we break ground, it’ll take a year to a year and a half to complete. This is our first East Texas project. We chose Polk County because the close proximity to the transmission lines that service this area.”

    Riggs is a former commissioner in Pecos County. Most of his company’s work is done in West Texas.

    Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass and Magee, LLP represents the county through this agreement. He talked about the process to get these projects approved and ultimately finished.

    “(Long Road Energy) came to us with the proposal,” Bass said. “These projects are built in a reinvestment zone. There’s several layers of this process. First, the developer goes out and leases ground from the landowner so they have a place to build. Next they go to the taxing entities to tie down their tax burdens. Then they have to essentially find a buyer for the power and go to a lender to borrow the money to fund the project. This is basically the second step toward that. We hope it will develop and I expect that this project will go on through.”

    In other items, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office decided to stay with its current resident banking and commissary service, a community development block grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture in support of Dallardsville-Segno water improvements was approved, and a resolution adopting civil rights plans and procedures was approved. Commissioners court meets again at 9 a.m. Nov. 24.