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  • Heroes honored

    042921 baby save 2COURTESY PHOTO Coldspring VFD Chief Emmitt Eldridge presents Paramedic Kristin Loftice with a Lifesaver’s Award for his help with the delivery of a baby.

    Coldspring paramedics receive lifesaving awards

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — Two paramedics with the Coldspring Volunteer Fire Department were honored with lifesaving awards recently.

    Kristin Loftice and Timothy King helped with the birth of a child, who was in danger because the umbilical cord had wrapped around its neck, on the side of FM 3081 near Willis on Nov. 26, 2020.

    The mother and child were not identified for privacy reasons; and King was out on a medical leave.

    “We got a call at around 4 a.m. for a lady in labor,” Loftice said. “By the time we got there, the Punkin-Evergreen VFD was there, and had her laying down on a pallet because she was going through contractions. I was trying to calm her down as she was pretty hysterical and hurting, and I tried to get her to not push so we could transport her to the hospital.”

    While prepping the woman for transport, she did a hard push and the baby’s head had crowned, so Loftice told her partner to get the OB kit because a baby was on the way — in the dark, in a driveway, and just flashlights for light.

    It wasn’t only the conditions that were a problem; the birth was a problem as well.

    “When the baby’s head came out, I noticed the baby was blue, and I felt around and found the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck,” she said. “I had gotten my fingers in and was able to spread out the cord, and at that time, the baby started to move its mouth.

    042921 baby save 1COURTESY PHOTO Coldspring VFD Chief Emmitt Eldridge presents Paramedic Timothy King with a Lifesaver’s Award for his help with the delivery of a baby.

    “I told mom to push and let’s get the baby the rest of the way out; I was able to guide the baby out (of the birth canal) so the umbilical cord didn’t wrap any tighter,” Loftice said. “King took care of the mother and prepared her for transport; I took the baby into the ambulance and began taking care of it. The baby then started crying, and he pinked up very good, and he started trying to feed on the way to the hospital.”

    In the end, they delivered a strong, healthy boy.

    “We got them to a hospital and everything turned out great,” she said. “Mom and baby checked out OK. My first baby delivery, and with it being one with an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck, it was scary, I’m not gonna lie. But I went with my gut and my training and toughened up. Still, it was intense.”

    There was a point that Loftice had questioned her career choice, having seen quite a lot of bad things as a paramedic. However, birthing a child has given her a new outlook.

    “That, as well as helping people, is why I got into paramedic work,” she said. “It warms my heart up. It’s why I’m here and do what I do. Bringing a life into the world, instead of trying to keep it from going out, was a breath of fresh air, a big change.”

    Loftice keeps tabs on the family, and said that all reports indicate mother and son are doing fine.

  • Lady Trojans outshine Lady Tigers

    040121 softball 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Coldsprint-Oakhurst Lady Trojan Cami Fussell (No. 4) attempts to lay down a bunt during Friday’s game against Trinity. The Lady Trojans won 18-8.

    SJNT staff

    TRINITY — The Lady Trojans hammered runs out here and there to take a win over Trinity on Friday.

    "We are taking it day-by-day," Coldspring coach Brandi Hill said. "Trinity is pretty good. Their ace pitcher ended up getting hurt, so they had to pull in backups. We just kind of hung with them at the very beginning and weren't hitting very well, but just making contact.

    "We ended up scratching out a couple of runs here and there,” she said. “When she got injured and they had to pull her is when they were trying to keep things together, but it was really difficult for them."

    Trinity Head Coach Doug Sanchez said Tiger Pitcher Cynthia Sizemore was injured, and the backup pitcher didn’t mount much defense.

    Hill said the team is working to improve, with a goal of reaching the postseason. She said the offense usually begins clicking as games progress.

    "It is hard for us to start, but as time goes, we are piecing together hits here and there by the end of the game."

    The team is trying to get consistent play and "level out the bumps and trying to keep everybody on the same page" to improve. Coldspring's district record is 2-3 and tied for fourth place with Tarkington, which currently holds the tiebreaker in a win over the Lady Trojans.

    To this point, Coldspring has dropped district games to Onalaska, Tarkington and Hardin, while defeating Anderson-Shiro and Trinity. New Waverly is the top team in district and the Lady Trojans challenged them Tuesday to finish up the first round of league play.

    “We have a good fighting chance and hopefully things end up better on the second time through district."

    Sanchez touted Dayanara Martinez, who hit her first home run of the season during the game, and Dezi Galvan and Abby Crowton, who each go their first hits at the varsity level.

    Trinity heads to district play on Thursday against Onalaska.

  • Law enforcement seeks suspected ATM thieves

    KODAK Digital Still Camera     PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN JACINTO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE The entrance to the Timewise convenience store was damaged Feb. 23 after a group of men rammed it with a pickup truck in order to steal the ATM inside.

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — San Jacinto County law enforcement officers are seeking the identification of a group of men believed responsible for the Feb. 23 break-in at the Timewise Convenience Store near Shepherd.

    According to Detective Gary Sharpen of the SJ County Sheriff’s Office, police received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the store, which is located at 4700 US 59.

    Records show the clerk inside, who was not named, noticed a pickup truck that contained several African American males with hoodies, who then sped up and backed into the store, striking the ATM machine.

    “There were five to six black males wearing masks and gloves, and not wearing COVID masks,” he said. “They knew what they were doing — they had planned this out. This wasn’t something spur of the moment.”

    Sharpen said the clerk held their hands up throughout the robbery.

    The suspects loaded the ATM into the truck, which was identified as a stolen Dodge Ram 1500, and took off, heading into the town of Shepherd on Pine Street, reports indicate.

    Sharpen said a witness observed a bunch of debris on the roadway, and saw the pickup in the ditch, which apparently had crashed during its getaway. The witness saw males running around the vehicle, looking confused; however, the suspects had another car with them — a small dark colored 4-door vehicle — which picked up the suspects and fled the scene.

    The pickup truck, as well as several sets of gloves and masks, were recovered and are being processed for evidence. Additionally, the ATM was left in the back of the truck, and was recovered and turned over to the company that owns the ATM.

    Sharpen said the investigation is continuing, and anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Office at (936) 653-4367 or the Multi-county Crime Stoppers at (936) 539-7867.

  • Man found murdered

    sjsoLOGO San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office

    Special to the News-Times

    CLEVELAND — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the identity of a shooting victim and details of his death.

    According to a press release, on April 22, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office 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 to be deceased then immediately notified the Detective Division, and preliminary investigation showed the victim had been shot one time in the head.

    The victim is described as a white male, approximately 25-30 years of age, with a brown short haircut and a goatee. He was wearing brown shoes, blue jeans and a plaid black/white short sleeve, button-up shirt.

    Anyone with information about the identity of the victim or about the circumstances of the crime, please call the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at (936) 653-4367 and or the Multi-County Crime Stoppers at (936) 539-7867.

  • 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.

  • Pole vaulter heading to state

    042921 track copyCOURTESY PHOTO Troy Fortenberry clears the bar on his leap during the Region 3 3A Track Meet in Waco on Saturday. Troy heads next to the state meet next week.

    SJNT staff

    WACO — Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojan Troy Fortenberry will represent the district in the state track meet next week.

    Fortenberry placed second in the pole vault with a leap of 12’6 at the Region 3 3A meet, held Friday and Saturday at Midway High School in Waco.

    Region 3 Track Meet

    Boys Results

    400 meters

    Curtis Parker, third, 50.95 finals (50.34 prelims)

    300-meter hurdles

    Troy Fortenberry, 16th, 48.40 (prelims)

    4x400 relay

    Jared Curry, Reagan Roberts, Gavin Trejo, Curtis Parker, sixth, 3:30.37 (fourth, 3.31.77 prelims)

    Shot put

    Dante Eldridge, sixth, 44’ 2.75

    Pole Vault

    Troy Fortenberry, second, 12’ 6.

    Carter Currie, eighth, 11’

    Girls

    100 meters

    Miya Ellis, 14th, 13.22 (prelims)

    Shot put

    Shanaya Gilbert, third, 35’ 8.25

    Alexis Moore, 11th, 30’ 5

    High jump

    Amanda Ready, fourth, 5’ 2

    Triple jump

    Alexis Chandler, seventh, 33’ 9.75

  • 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).

  • Praise for prowess

    051321 fort 4COURTESY PHOTO Troy Fortenberry accepting award from Rep. Ernest Bailes

    By SJNT Staff

    Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Trojan Troy Fortenberry receives a recognition from the State Legislature, presented by Rep. Ernest Bailes, noting his participation in the State Track Tournament, held May 6-8 in Austin. Fortenberry, the lone high-school student participating from San Jacinto County, placed ninth in the Pole Vault with a leap of 12 feet 6 inches.

  • Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area (GALLERY)

    SanJacSnowFeb2021 7COURTESY PHOTO Frozen Texas yard ornament.

    News-Times staff

    The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and San Jacinto County came to a standstill on Monday.

    Schools have been closed at least through Tuesday; roads have been closed, and electric utilities have been forced to start rolling blackouts to stave off a larger blackout because of the huge demand put on the electric grid.

    The possibility of a second winter storm bearing down on the region exists as well.

    According to The Weather Channel, Winter Storm Uri spread brought heavy snow and damaging ice to parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast. Winter Storm Viola has already begun in the West and will be right behind #Uri, bringing significant snowfall totals to many across the country this week. It is expected to bring snow to many of the same locations currently being hit by Uri.

    Area road closures include:

    •Highway 190 Trinity River Bridge shut down

    •Highway 59 Trinity River Bridge heavy ice over roadway

    •FM 223 to Stringtown Road heavy ice over road

    •FM 1514 Heavy ice over the roadway

    •FM 1725 heavy ice

    •East Fork San Jacinto River Bridge on FM 495 heavy ice

    •FM 2025/FM 2666 to Highway 150 iced over

    •FM 946 South and Highway 156 iced over.

    According to the San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management, the low may lead to burst pipes, ruptured water mains and other serious damage to infrastructure.

    Snow and ice that accumulates will stick around until at least mid-week with temperatures remaining below freezing for extended period of time. More wintry precipitation may fall with another system behind the current one.

    TxDOT is encouraging motorists from traveling across the nine-county Lufkin District during the winter weather.

    As of Monday, the Lufkin District currently had 170 employees working 12-hour shifts to monitor and address trouble spots as they arise, utilizing more than 125 pieces of equipment. Pre-treatment of roadways began on Friday.

    “We want people to be aware that driving surfaces will freeze and we are doing all we can to prepare the roadways, but even with a brine mixture, if we experience the low temperatures they have predicted, roads will still freeze,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “I don’t think there is enough manpower to cover the more than 7,000 road miles in the Lufkin District with a brine mixture but we are doing our best. We have focused our attention on major roadways, state highways and farm roads, but we should remember that Mother Nature is and will always be undefeated. It is up to us to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves to stay safe.”

    Crews will re-treat all major roadways as needed if conditions continue to decline, since additional moisture will re-freeze road surfaces after the initial downfall of snow and ice.

    “Pre-treatment with a brine solution can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form,” Oaks said. “There will be patches of ice on local roads, even on roads that have been treated. If you must drive, motorists should reduce speed and stay alert. But because this is an unprecedented weather event, TxDOT is urging drivers to stay home and travel only if absolutely necessary.”

    Visit drivetexas.org (or call 800-452-9292) for real time road conditions/closures or call 911 if you find yourself stranded or facing an emergency. For more information, call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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  • San Jacinto Chamber celebrates cream of the crop (GALLERY)

    9TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Chamber of Commerce honored the top businesses and organizations in the area, as well as its own volunteers, at its annual banquet on Saturday.

    Chamber President Barbara Justice said that even though 2020 was an unprecedented year, the chamber and the county managed to make it through by learning to innovate.

    “We figured out how to social distance, how to mask, and all the other COVID-19 precautionary measures,” she said. “Zoom became our secondary method of meeting, and email became our primary mode of communication.”

    For the first time in memory, annual events were canceled; however, alternate arrangements were made for scholarships, however, Justice said.

    “We had various sponsors, and were still able to give scholarships for students,” she said.

    The first event attended in 2020 was the Christmas Parade, which was exciting as residents were able to get out of the house; there were more than 30 floats and more than 120 vendors, which put the town at max capacity, Justice said.

    In 2021, plans are to have more in-person events, including lunch-and-learn events held monthly, she said.

    Winners of the annual Best of Coldspring awards are:

    • Grand Business: Bullet Grill House, first; Brookshire Brothers, second; Sheco, third.
    • Large Business: The Mason Jar, first; Browders Marina and Store, second; Eastex Title Co., third.
    • Medium Business: Hilltop Ice House, first; People’s State Bank, second; Wolf Creek Air, third.
    • Small Business: Camp Jason RV Resort, first; Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique, second; and The Dam Liquor Stor, third.
    • Non-profit: American Legion Post 629, first; Republican Party of San Jacinto County, second; Heaven’s Army of Resources, third.
    • Volunteer of the Year: Barbara Creel, first, Michelle Haylock, second; Terry Holcomb, third.
    • Citizen of the Year: Phyliss Powdrill, first, Larissa Sustaita, second; Alvin Wyatt, third.
    • Lifetime Member Award: Kathleen E. Mathieu.
    • Board Member of the Year: Barbara Justice.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
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  • San Jacinto County Chamber celebrates new businesses

    032521 chamber rhjTONY FARKAS | SJNT Relson Gracie JiuJitsu celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Saturday.

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — Three businesses new to the community were honored by the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, two with ribbon cuttings and one named Business of the Month.

    Fierce Nutrition, a store that specializes in nutritious smoothies, shakes and herbal teas, was named Business of the Month for March and April.

    032521 chamber fierceTONY FARKAS | SJNT Fierce Nutrition was named Business of the Month for March by the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce.

    Texas Glam Girlz celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting, although owner Misty Slawson says they’ve been open since October.

    Slawson, who’s been a Shepherd resident most of her life, offers several different services: there’s a boutique that offers women’s and girls clothes, shoes and accessories; a tanning salon, which has tanning beds or spray tans available; and a dry cleaning business.

    032521 chamnber tggTONY FARKAS | SJNT Texas Glam Girlz celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Saturday.

    The grand opening was delayed, Slawson said, because of damage done to the building during the severe winter weather, requiring remodeling.

    Hours are from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturdays.

    At Relson Gracie JiuJitsu, owner Bruce McKinzie said he’s been open eight months, but has been teaching for 10 years.

    He has been practicing the discipline for 16 years, but has been into martial arts for 38 years and holds multiple black belts. Currently, he has top belts in kenpo karate, taekwon do, jeet kune do, and kali, a Filipino martial art, to which he holds a rank of full instructor, the highest available.

    He also holds full instructor ranking for jeet kune do, a discipline started by Bruce Lee, having trained with Bruce Lee’s friend Ted Wong.

    McKinzie said he teaches jiujitsu because of his age and his retirement from competitive matches, and the art is less violent, but will teach other disciplines on a one-on-one basis.

    “What I teach kids is to be bully-proof,” he said. “I teach students not to fight if they don’t have to, but to control the situation and holler for a teacher.”

    Instruction is offered Monday through Thursday; kickboxing is from 6:15 - 7:15 p.m., children’s jiujitsu from 7:15 - 8 p.m.; and from 8 - 9 p.m. for adults.

    Fierce Nutrition is at 11104 TX 150 Suite 300, and can be reached at (832) 946-4615.

    Texas Glam Girlz is at 1281 S. Byrd Ave., and can be reached at (334) 429-0545.

    Relson Gracie JiuJitsu, next door to Fierce Nutrition, can be reached at (281) 387-8782.

  • San Jacinto County man injured in shooting

    San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department logo

    SJNT staff

    OAKHURST — A dispute between family members left an Oakhurst man injured, and his uncle arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

    Detective Sgt. Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting occurred after Charles Tubbs shot his nephew, Elem Wynne III, had an argument.

    Tubbs allegedly discharged a 12-gauge shotgun at Wynne, hitting him in the neck.

    According to reports, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Walker County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a shooting victim located at Bubba’s gas station located off US 190 in Walker County.

    Authorities found Wynne in the parking lot of Bubba’s convenience store in Dodge with an apparent gunshot wound to his neck. Walker County emergency personnel and a DPS trooper were dispatched, and the trooper provided medical aide while he questioned the victim, who said he was shot by his uncle who lives off Harrison Road in Oakhurst.

    Reports indicate Wynne drove away from his uncle’s house after the argument, and ended up at Bubba’s. After treatment at the scene, Wynne was LifeFlighted to Houston for treatment.

    In the meantime, San Jacinto County deputies arrived at Tubbs’ residence, where it was determined that Tubbs was standing outside when an unfamiliar pickup truck pulled into his driveway. Tubbs told police he was not familiar with the vehicle and could not see the driver or passenger.

    The driver’s window came down, and Tubbs and Wynne continued an ongoing family dispute, reports state. It was then Tubbs reportedly discharged his 12-gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot in the direction of the vehicle.

    Wynne was struck in the neck and face, and then drove away, reports state.

    Sharpen said Wynne’s condition was unknown, but emergency personnel at the scene were confident the injuries were not life-threatening.

    Tubbs was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. He currently is being held on an undisclosed bond.

    This case is still under investigation and will be forwarded to the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office for further review.

  • San Jacinto County talks trash

    CountySealSJFILE PHOTO San Jacinto County Seal

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court talked a little trash at its regular meeting on May 19.

    County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that about 20 people from the Trails End subdivision in the southwest part of the county came to express their concerns about a proposal for an area landfill planned in that part of the county.

    Faulkner said Peach Creek Environmental has put in an application with Texas Commission for Environmental Quality for a proposed landfill.

    Area residents that showed up told the court they don’t want it in their back yards; however, Faulkner said that the county is not part of any of the process. Peach Creek has 2,000 acres of land purchased, and 600 acres will be part of the initial phase.

    “When you put one of these things in, there’s a valid concern about water quality,” Faulkner said. “There is a membrane put down to protect water table, but it could rupture. You’re also talking about 500 trucks a day coming in through the roads, and there are concerns about property values. Also, part of the area may be in the flood plain, which carries additional concerns.”

    Faulkner said it was a very informative discussion; however, the plan is only in the permitting process and there a lot of work left to do. He also said the county will look into the matter, but took no action.

    “It’s people just bringing concerns to the court,” he said.

    In other business, the county:

    • discussed new storage for the county’s records, which currently are stored in elections building and the basement of the courthouse. Maintenance personnel were asked to price metal buildings or seagoing containers;
    • approved purchase of track loader for $86,200; and
    • approved bonds for all employees of the Sheriff’s Office.
  • San Jacinto County to receive grant funding

    9a115719052b863acadd43acbc60e24fFILE PHOTO Shepherd logo

    Funds to improve drainage and sewer infrastructure for the city of Shepherd

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Texas Sen. Robert Nichols and County Judge Fritz Faulkner announced the Texas General Land Office approved funds for flood mitigation projects in San Jacinto County and the City of Shepherd.

    These infrastructure projects will directly benefit residents in a majority low-to-moderate income area that faced repetitive storm damage in 2015, 2016, 2017 with Hurricane Harvey, and 2019.

    The City of Shepherd received $4,200,000 for its Citywide Sewer Infiltration and Inflow Mitigation Project, which will assist with ongoing drainage issues throughout the city by replacing sewer lines, replacing or reconstructing sewer manholes and raising and hardening a lift station.

    Shepherd Mayor Charles Minton said the city is excited about the grant, which will go a long way to improve its sewer plant and lines.

    “I believe this is one of the largest grants the city has received, and will greatly benefit our residents and greatly improve our infrastructure for water and wastewater,” he said.

    The city developed a scope of work in order to qualify for the money, which is part of the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund.

    “With the severe weather we have, our sewer system was reaching an age where it suffered from infiltration and overflow at the sewer plant,” Minton said. “Heavy rains overload the plant, causing function issues, and could back up into homes.”

    The project will encompass approximately 46,872 linear feet of sanitary sewer line replacement, trench safety, connect new main (or new manhole) to existing manhole (or existing main), main line cleanout, connect service to new main, remove existing manhole with standard manhole replacement, driveway repairs, highway and railroad bore, replace one sewer lift station, elevate and rehabilitate 18 manholes, and associated appurtenances.

    Click here to view the locations: 052721_grant.pdf

    “The city of Shepherd has experienced ongoing drainage issues for years, running the risk of loss of life, injury, damage to and loss of property, and suffering and hardship for our residents,” Faulkner said. “This $4.2 million will help us improve our citywide sewer system, including the replacement of almost nine miles of sewer lines, to reduce the impact of future disasters.”

    In May 2020, Commissioner George P. Bush announced the kick-off of the application process for the first round of more than $2.3 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect Texas communities hit by Hurricane Harvey and severe flooding in 2015 and 2016. During the first round, the GLO conducted three competitive application programs from the CDBG-MIT Action Plan. Those programs include:

    • 2015 Floods State Mitigation Competition – GLO awarded $31,426,781 to four grantees.
    • 2016 Floods State Mitigation Competition – GLO awarded 21 grantees with $135,462,438.
    • Hurricane Harvey State Mitigation Competition Round 1 ($1 billion of $2,144,776,720 total)

    “Texas leads the nation in disaster designations for repetitive flooding,” Bush said. “We must work together to help communities across Texas be more resilient against devasting storms in the future. This first round of funding represents an historic investment in protecting lives, homes, and public facilities, as well as minimizing environmental impacts of severe storms, in many of our state’s lower-income communities. The GLO is proud to play a part in addressing this tremendous need.”

    Nichols offered his support from the Texas Capitol saying, "It's impossible to overstate how important these flood mitigation funds are to East and Southeast Texas. Senate District 3 saw severe flooding during the 2015 floods, the 2016 floods, and again during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. These flooding events showed just how vulnerable this area of the state is and how necessary mitigation efforts are. Senate District 3 won over $105 million in the competitive flood mitigation fund award process because the projects in our region are vital to protecting Texans from future flood events. I appreciate the professionalism of the GLO throughout this process and our local officials who worked so hard to make these projects a reality."

    Applications closed for the first round of funding Oct. 28, 2020, and the GLO evaluated all 290 submitted applications in accordance with the HUD approved scoring criteria. Eligible applications with the highest scores were awarded funds. The second round of the competition will award the remaining $1,144,776,720 in mitigation funding to Hurricane Harvey eligible entities.

    HUD defines mitigation as activities that increase resilience to disasters and reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of loss of life, injury, damage to and loss of property, and suffering and hardship, by lessening the impact of future disasters. HUD requires that at least 50 percent of total funds must be used for activities benefiting low- to moderate-income persons.

    The State of Texas CDBG Mitigation Action Plan: Building Stronger for a Resilient Future outlines the use of funds, programs, eligible applicants, and eligibility criteria as required by HUD. The plan was sent to HUD on Feb. 3, 2020, after an extraordinary public outreach effort including a 50-day public comment period and eight regional public hearings, far-surpassing HUD requirements. HUD approved the plan March 31, 2020.

    For more information, visit recovery.texas.gov/mitigation.

  • San Jacinto teen pens socially relevant novel

    IrisJones3Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula | SJNT Local Author Iris Jones reads her first book, “Growing Up Iris,” at the Shepherd Library to a small crowd. At the reading, Iris did a Q&A with the audience, as well as a book signing. Her book is available on both Amazon and Audible.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
    SJNT staff writer

    SAN JACINTO COUNTY — Ushered in by April showers, local author Iris Jones has been touring the county, visiting the Coldspring and Shepherd libraries to read a preview of her new book, “Growing Up Iris.”

    Originally from Cypress and moving out to Point Blank a few years prior, Iris found less pressure to be the best and more room to be laid-back, giving appreciation for the rural atmosphere by noting “It’s good for your character development to be able to be yourself out here,”

    With plenty of pandemic free time, 15-year-old Iris set out to write about her experiences, not only as a city kid moving out to the county, but also as a biracial girl finding comparative experiences between Houston and East Texas.

    Now 16, Iris has been touring the county and beyond reading excerpts from her book, dabbling in the different roles she finds herself in when around different groups.

    Her chapters range from chapters like “Black,” which addresses subjects like fear of police brutality to struggles of accepting her own skin, to titles like “Siblings” that discuss the dynamic of being the youngest girl out of six brothers.

    The book includes both personal stories of growing up with a White mom and Black dad, (an experience she views as average, while others around her were sometimes taken aback), as well as historical references to Black America.

    During the Q&A portion of the reading, Jones replied to how society has shaped how she sees herself as a Black and White woman. Identifying more as a Black woman, Iris said, “I grew up with Disney princesses mostly being white with blonde haired with blue eyes, and I remember how important it was seeing ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ seeing a new example that I could be proud of.”

    She reflected on learning more about Black History in America, from medical malpractice to systematic oppressions, to present day where laws are still being passed that allow Black people to exist in their own skin (and hair) without repercussion. Alongside oppression, Iris cites inspirations including seeing more people in power and media that she feels she can better connect with.

    Iris hopes her book is able to accomplish similar goals, whether giving those going through similar experiences a page to turn to or providing a new perspective to those interested in reading about personal experiences beyond their own.

    In taking the time to learn more about Black history in America, Iris currently is in the TAMS program that allows her to take university courses through UNT remotely, and she is on track to have her associate’s degree in biology by the time she graduates from high school.

    With plans of becoming a surgeon one day, she cites inspiration found in an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks, whose cancerous cells led to the discovery of the almost immortal HeLa cell line, which under the right conditions, can reproduce indefinitely. Though the discovery was great, malpractice around it is part of what drew Jones into the profession, hoping to provide a voice of accountability for those who look like her.

    On top of her other endeavors, Iris also started the Racial Literacy Project, which aims to give local libraries books that include stories and characters from racial and cultural backgrounds that are historically underrepresented.

    Her donations include books to both the Shepherd and Coldspring Libraries that were used as inspiration while writing her own book, ranging from serious to light-hearted. Iris plans to eventually follow her first memoir with an update, but not before first exploring the possibilities of a children’s book which would deal with similar subject matters.

    “Growing Up Iris” by Iris F. Jones is available on Amazon and Audibleor at any of her book signings.

  • Save Our Seniors initiative starts in San Jacinto County

    031121 SOS 2EMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA | SJNT Sergeant Rachelle Thomas and her team of medics and administrators teamed up with the San Jacinto County’s Office of Emergency Management to keep the clinic running smoothly, with 105 doses administered in the first day.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
    SJNT Staff Writer

    COLDSPRING — Last week, San Jacinto County was the first of 26 counties in Texas to implement the Save Our Seniors vaccination program, meant to get the first round of the vaccine into the arms of the county’s older citizens.

    Volunteers, who have already been working to assist with distribution at the Brookshire Brothers, along with Army medics, worked side by side to administer the allotted 200 vaccines, with 105 doses of the Moderna vaccine being used in the first day at the Coldspring Emergency Shelter.

    Medics also drove around the county to give the first dose to those who are homebound, with officials in the Operations and Emergency Management office calling residents in the county to make sure they were aware of the free program.

    The initiative was originally intended for those 75 and older with an appointment, but volunteers moved to contact those 65 and older on the second day as to not waste any of the vaccines, which must be kept refrigerated.

    Among those assisting the San Jacinto County OEM office in distribution was Sgt. Rashelle Thomas and her team of certified medics and administrators, who are based out of Lufkin and will continue moving around East Texas to assist in distribution, including in Shelby and Panola county.

    “The volunteers and the town are awesome, and we just enjoy all the people we’ve gotten to work with,” she said.

    The county, which has been holding vaccination clinics through several outlets prior to last week’s event, claims luck had a small part to do with why the county was chosen as the first to pilot the program, which was put together in less than a week.

    “The first day was a little hectic, but we’ve had a steady flow of participants and it’s gone smooth,” SJ County Judge Fritz Faulkner, equipped with a mask, said. “This has really been a blessing.”

    Other factors, as stated on the governor’s website, include vaccination rates among seniors and total vaccine allocations over the past three months.

    Participants will need to return approximately three weeks after the first shot, as indicated on their form. Those who have received the vaccine are encouraged to continue wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing, as indicated on the CDC website.

    While the vaccine has been proven effective in reducing symptoms, specifically those that lead to hospitalization, it’s ability to reduce spread is still being monitored.

  • Severe storm leaves lingering cold temperature and questions

    022521 weather 2PHOTOS COURTESY OF FRITZ FAULKNER San Jacinto County Commissioner Laddie McAnally, County Judge Fritz Faulkner, and Brandon McClendon and Mike Flynn unload pallets of drinking water to be distributed throughout the county to those affected by Winter Storm Uri.

    By Tony Farkas

    San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner can’t really remember a time that winter was this bad.

    “It’s the worst winter weather I’ve seen in my life,” he said.

    However, Faulkner said the communities in the county pulled together nicely to get through it.

    “We opened up a warming center, but we didn’t have a lot of response to it, got about 14 out of the cold,” he said. “Most people prefer to stay home. The roads were in terrible shape because the highway department was overwhelmed.”

    Faulkner said the power companies did an outstanding job getting power restored as well, and as of Friday, all the county now has power.

    “Everyone is now at the stage of putting their water pipes back together,” he said. “In anticipation of that, I ordered a couple of truckloads of water from the state to pass out, divided between the four commissioner precincts.”

    Faulker said that food pantries were delivering food Friday and Saturday to people that needed it.

    Cassie Gregory, public information officer for Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD, said the district was not impacted by the weather, as it was taking the winter break.

    However, Shepherd ISD did close for the week, for weather and because the city of Shepherd issued a boil water notice in response to the storm.

    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.

    San Jacinto County is among the 77 counties that will be eligible to receive federal aid.

    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.

    “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.

  • Students gather food

    041521 food drive 1 copyCOURTESY PHOTO Shepherd ISD FFA members participated in a food drive recently. Pictured are Madison Smith, president; Aulstin Baloy, treasurer; and Ashley Adams, secretary.

    Special to the News-Times

    SHEPHERD — The Shepherd FFA participated in the Seventh Annual Battle of the FFA's Canned Food Drive recently.

    In all, Shepherd FFA collected 1,360 pounds of donated goods, with Coldspring FFA collecting a total of 616 pounds.

    With the generous donations from San Jacinto County Farm Bureau, Bank of San Jacinto County, and McClain's Food Market, the overall total surpassed last year's donation with 3,234 pounds.

    All proceeds will be divided equally and donated to the Shepherd and Coldspring Senior Citizens Centers.

  • Students inducted into Honor Society

    060321 honor societyCOURTESY PHOTO | CASSIE GREGORY Lincoln Junior High welcomed 14 new inductees into the National Junior Honor Society on May 25. They are (back row, from left) Lane Madison, Luke McClure, Alayna Rodriguez, Tess Phillips, Averey Moss, Hayden Richards, Angel-Joy Zane and Brayden Coker; and (front row, from left) Ashlynn Holley, Avery Keel, Averi Tucker, Cali Crowder and LJH NJHS Sponsor Aimie Patrick. Not pictured are Iliana Ferman and Haley Tullos.

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — Lincoln Junior High School welcomed 14 new inductees into the National Junior Honor Society on May 25. 

    The NJHS elevates a school's commitment to the values of scholarship, leadership, character, service and citizenship. These characteristics are considered the five pillars of the NJHS, and have been associated with membership in the organization since its inception in 1929. 

    Current LJH NJHS members performed the induction ceremony, which included the symbolic lighting of five candles to represent the five pillars. Inductees were sworn in by repeating the following NJHS Pledge:

    "I pledge to uphold the high purposes of the National Junior Honor Society to which I have been selected. Striving in every way by word and deed to make its ideals the ideals of my school and of my life."

    Congratulations to LJH students Brayden Coker, Cali Crowder, Iliana Ferman, Ashlynn Holley, Avery Keel, Joel Lane Madison, Luke McClure, Averey Moss, Tess Phillips, Hayden Richards, Alayna Rodriguez, Averi Tucker, Haley Tullos and Angel-Joy Zane.