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  • New building, new business

    IMG 0418PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILIP SCHMITTEN

    By Philip Schmitten
    TCNS correspondent

    TRINITY — Got a hankering for something sweet to start your day? Then just mosey over to the newly opened Spitfire Donut Shop in Downtown Trinity for the freshest donuts in town.

    Dyna Hout and Pat Sokol are co-owners of the recently opened sweet shop. They own Spitfire Convenience Store in Pennington, as well.

    "We love Trinity and thought that it needed us," said Pat Sokol. “We hired local employees from Trinity and are doing what we can to help the local economy.”

    They offer breakfast, lunch and anytime smoothies. The hours are 4:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

    IMG 0426PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILIP SCHMITTEN Chrissy Stephens picks out a donut for a customer at the Spitfire Donut Shop.

  • New restaurant takes up old haunt

    032521 restaurant 1PHILLIP SCHMITTEN | TCNS CORRESPONDENT Maria Casas prepares some pico de gallo for the arriving customers.

    By Philip Schmitten
    TCNS correspondent

    GROVETON — Very recently a new restaurant opened in Groveton; Habaneros is the name, and you can find it next door to Los Jalapenos Restaurant next to B&B Grocery.

    The restaurant, formerly known as Wagon Wheel has some new owners, Edgar and Lori Abshire, and they serve up some excellent Tex-Mex food.

    Manager and co-owner Lori Abshire sends out a big thank you to the residents of Groveton, who have been so wonderful with their support and patience while the new eatery gets settled.

    “The folks here have been absolutely wonderful to us,” Lori said. “We plan on staying as long as Groveton will have us.”

    The Abshires have been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years and bring their excellent venue to Groveton.

    “We love the town and the people are so very friendly,” Lori said.

    They offer seating for up to 70 and have a party room for those special occasions. Lori Abshire wants to thank Groveton for making them feel so welcome and look forward to many years of service.

    “We have applied for a liquor license and are look forward to adding Margaritas to our menu real soon,” she said. “We are currently looking for local help as of now all of our staff comes from Lufkin and we would really like to hire some local talent.”

    So, if you are in the mood for some fantastic Tex-Mex, look no further than Habaneros.

  • Now it looks a lot like winter (GALLERY)

    jillian phillips steptoePHOTO COURTESY OF JILLIAN PHILLIPS STEPTOE A winter storm blew through Trinity County on Sunday, chilling noses and toes and creating pastoral scenes.

    Special to the News Standard

    A winter storm unloaded more snow in Texas than some areas have received in decades at the end of the weekend.

    The snow, stretched all the way from the northernmost parts of Colorado beginning Saturday, to eastern Texas by Sunday, according to Accuweather.

    The swath of heaviest snow, with 6-9 inches of accumulation in 24 hours, stretched from near Lubbock to Abilene and just west of Waco, which received 4.4 inches of snow on Sunday, making it the highest snowfall total the city has received since 1982 and the 10th highest 24-hour snowfall total on record, according to the National Weather Service.

    Snow-covered, slippery roadways were reported throughout the region, including along some of the major highways such as interstates 20 and 35.

    But for those who didn't need to travel, the snow was mostly fun and games.

    AccuWeather National News Reporter Bill Wadell interviewed some residents of Stephenville, Texas, who told him they haven't seen this much snow in years. Some residents were seen using the hood of a car as a sled for multiple people. Stephenville reported 8 inches of snow by Sunday evening.

    The worst of the storm stayed to the south of Dallas, where a rain and snow mix throughout Sunday led to only a trace of snow accumulating.

    Farther south, however, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted a video on Twitter showing snow covering the grounds of the Governor's Mansion in the capital city of Austin. The city officially reported 1.3 inches at the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport, but just north of town, 3-5 inches of snow was reported.

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  • Nursing home makes event out of COVID vaccinations

    011421 vaccine 1COURTESY PHOTO Claudia Brown, a resident of Trinity Rehabilitation Center, helps “Tackle COVID” by receiving the first of two vaccines.

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — Mary Poppins did it with song and sugar; Trinity Rehabilitation Center did it with football and cupcakes.

    Folks at the senior citizen center on Thursday rolled out a COVID-19 immunization plan with the theme of Tackle COVID, according to center CEO and Owner Darcy Whatley.

    “We had our vaccines today for staff and patients,” she said. “CVS Pharmacy, through the federal Operation Warp Speed, and they administered the vaccine to the employees and all the residents.”

    011421 vaccine 3COURTESY PHOTO April Ross-Lester, activity director for Trinity Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, signs the field showing she has helped “Tackle COVID” by being immunized.

    The promotion was to get the employees behind receiving the vaccine, and those that did were able to sign a commemorative football field.

    The promotion was part of educating both the staff and the residents to the need for the vaccine, and listed all the benefits of being treated, so that they would volunteer. Whatley said that pretty much all residents signed up.

    Additionally, Dr. James Crawford, one of the facility’s medical directors, talked with the staff about the importance of the vaccine, which helped convince employees.

    In 21 days, the second required vaccine will be administered, possibly to a baseball theme, Whatley said.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Opinion - It was the insanest of times, or something

    tony farkasTony Farkas file photo

    Having been through quite a lot of elections in my decades of newspaper work, I have to say that this year’s was without a doubt the strangest.

    Only one other time that I can recall has an election been held where a winner wasn’t immediately known was the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. You know, the one that ended a month later after a series of lawsuits.

    (If you don’t recall, look up “hanging chads” on the interweb.)

    So here we are 20 years later, and it was, as Aerosmith sez, “same old story, same old song and dance, my friend.”

    For purposes of this column, though, I’m not about the winner. I’m talking about the process, and what seems to be the new same old story.

    If you noticed anything about the election this year, you noticed that there was very little substance provided by the candidates — for every race. There was no discussion about plans, no debate about the future, not one idea or way of thinking was put forth to give us an indication of what the future would hold.

    My sister-in-law, who is liberal as the day is long, and myself, who really really is not, agree on this, which is rare as hens’ teeth.

    I see it like this: Politics nowadays is like NFL teams, with the presidential election being like the Super Bowl. However, it’s become about the teams deciding who should be the quarterback, talking about stats and the big game from years ago.

    What’s missing from this show is a game plan and, well, the actual gameplay. It’s just the two teams hollering at each other and their own teams, completely caught up in their own world.

    The other thing that’s missing from this equation is the fans. Or, in the world of politics, the people.

    These two bantamweights were arguing about who did what when, how they could have done it better, pointing out scandals and missed opportunities, and generally being disagreeable for months. There was nothing about things that need to matter — like actually playing and winning the game.

    I didn’t hear how either of the candidates would fix the nation’s problems that they’re actually supposed to care about. They’re supposed to do things about the pesky $20 trillion debt that’s handing over the heads of the taxpayers for centuries. They’re supposed to care about trillion-dollar deficits, about the borders, about, well, the people they’re pretending to represent.

    Us fans, or constituents, if you will, are mostly if not all to blame for this, because we let this happen. The difference here, though, is that if we were only NFL fans, we can leave the stadium and never come back, never buy another ticket or a piece of swag.

    With this country, though, it really doesn’t matter who is the winner; both teams will have their hands in our pockets and take more and more, all the while telling us it’s our patriotic duty to fund every scheme and plan that will just make our lives rosy and unicorns and puppies. It’s government that being done to us, not of, by or for us.

    See, we’ve become, in the manifest destiny of our country, the cardboard cutouts filling the stands, there only to give the players, our elected representatives, something to provide a sense of why they’re competing.

    We need to be more than that. We need to take back control, since that’s how this country was supposed to work. It’s gonna be tough, and will take a lot of time — it took decades to get to this point — but I truly believe that we need to be the ones in charge, not the elite few in Washington, D.C.

    We’re near a tipping point, and if we get a government that controls — not just regulates — all the aspects of our lives, it will mean the end of the American dream, in my view, since once a government gets power, it never gives it back, and since it has the power to give it to you, it has the power to take it away.

    I hope this election, if nothing else, opened a few eyes to the trap we’re about to step in.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the Trinity County News-Standard. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Powerlifting season kicks off

    020421 powerliftingCOURTESY PHOTO Austin Cummins prepares for the deadlift during the Jan. 30 Splendora Invitational Powerlifting meet. Cummins posted a fifth-place finish, and the team placed sixth.

    Special to the News-Standard

    SPLENDORA — The Tigers boys and girls powerlifting teams each placed sixth at the Splendora Invitational on Jan. 30.

    Trey Goodman placed first individually, while Austin Cummins placed second. Blake Dumas managed a fifth-place posting.

    For the girls, Deandra Mills and Gracie Robb each nabbed a second-place posting.

    Boys’ results

    Top 10 overall

    Fifth: Austin Cummins

    10th: Trey Goodman

    Individual results

    First: Trey Goodman with a total of 1,205 pounds

    Second: Austin Cummins with a total of 1,280 pounds

    Fifth: B. Dumas with a total of 865 pounds

    Girls’ results

    Third: Deandra Mills with 550 pounds, Gracie Robb with 560 pounds

    Fourth: Ailin Marquez with 450 pounds, Joshlyn Ainsworth with 540 pounds, Maria Mendoza with 615 pounds

    Seventh: Zoey Hawkins with 515 pounds

    Eighth: Izabella Love with 550 pounds

    2021 Tiger Strong Invitational

    Jan. 23

    Boy's Team standing

    Sixth

    Top 10 overall

    First: Trey Goodman

    Fourth: Austin Cummins

    Individual Results

    First: Trey Goodman with 1,240 pounds, Austin Cummins with 1,215 pounds

    Third: Remington Lassman with 880 pounds

    Fifth: Blake Dumas with 890 pounds

    Girls Team standing

    Third

    Top 10 overall

    First: Kailyn Fisher

    Individual results

    First: Kailyn Fisher with 1195 pounds

    Second: Maria Mendoza with 575 pounds, Deandra Mills with 555 pounds, Gracie Robb with 465 pounds, Ailin Martinez with 460 pounds

    Third: Jojo Ainsworth with 465 pounds

    Fourth: Alivia Wallace with 395 pounds, Izabella Love with 500 pounds

    Bulldog Nation Invitational

    Jan. 14

    Girls Results

    Team standing

    Second

    Top 10 overall

    First: Kailyn Fisher

    Fourth: Alyssa Hill

    10th: Myona Wilson

    Individual results

    First: Kailyn Fisher with 1165 pounds, Maria Mendoza with 565 pounds

    Second: Alyssa Hill with 695 pounds, Deandra Mills with 555 pounds

    Third: Myona Wilson with 570 pounds, Sierra Smith with 475 pounds, Ailin Martinez with 455 pounds

    Fifth: Izabella Love with 455 pounds

    Boys Results

    Team standing

    Sixth

    Top 10 overall

    Ninth: Austin Cummins

    10th: Trey Goodman

    Individual results

    First: Trey Goodman with 1180 pounds

    Third: Austin Cummins with 1185 pounds

    Fourth: Remington Lassman with 720 pounds

    Sixth: Blake Dumas with 855 pounds, Trey Smith with 565 pounds

    Eighth: Taylor Hayden with 775 pounds

  • Remembering Groveton Mayor Byron Richards

    011421 obit richardsCOURTESY PHOTO Byron Allen Richards

    June 12, 1941 - Jan. 5, 2021

    Byron Allen Richards died and went to his eternal home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus, on Jan. 5, 2021, in Lufkin, at the age of 79 years. He was born in Houston on June 12, 1941, to Ransom Allen Richards and Marjorie Nell Singletary Richards.

    Byron was a loving husband, father, brother and grandfather. He worked and retired from banking after more than 40 years of service, ending his career at First Bank of Groveton when he retired in 2006. Afterwards, he was appointed as Mayor of Groveton, where he served for 10 years until his death. He loved Groveton and the surrounding communities. During his term as Mayor, he oversaw multiple projects for the city, including improvements to the community water and sewer system, positioning the City of Groveton for long-term viability. He was most proud of the project he worked on for more than six years — restoring downtown Groveton. He worked diligently in applying for numerous grants to fund the renovation. Under his leadership, the city has been able to invest more than $50 million into its infrastructure. He loved to help people and recently answered the call to become a volunteer chaplain. Byron served as the assistant chaplain of CHI St. Luke’s Health Care for two years and enjoyed visiting with patients twice a week every week. He never missed a day. Byron was a past member of Lion’s Club and was voted citizen of the year during 2019-2020. He also enjoyed motorcycles, especially Harley Davidsons. He liked going on motorcycle trips and when he wasn’t tinkering with that then his other “pride and joy” was his classic Ford truck.

    Byron is preceded in death by his parents, Ransom Richards and Marjorie Richards; and his brother, Gary Neil Richards. His survivors include his loving wife of 38 years, Sandra Richards; of Groveton; his sons, Gregory A. Richards and wife, Kimberly Richards, of Kerrville, and Ty Wenglar, and wife, Cathy, of Austin; daughters, Gina Diane Hollis and husband, Ron Hollis, of Austin, and Tia McLaughlin and husband, Grant McLaughlin, of Lovelady; his grandchildren, Macy, Alex, Emily, Mikinna, Micheala, Jonah, Brook Elizabeth, Jaxson, John Paul, Zohe Marie, Vivian, Reagan, and Liam; and a host of other relatives and friends.

    Celebration of life services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at Pennington Baptist Church in Pennington, with the Rev. Bud Magee officiating and the Rev. Drew Scott assisting. The family understands that friends may not want to attend the celebration of life due to concerns over the spread of COVID. Friends are welcome to send their fondest memories, stories or prayers by emailing them to Bryon's son, Greg, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    In lieu of flowers, the family invites friends to purchase a commemorative paver for the Groveton downtown sidewalk. Please contact City Secretary Donna Dial for details.

    Please share your memories with the family and sign our online guestbook by visiting www.grovetonfuneralhome.com

  • Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area

    021821 snow 4COURTESY PHOTO BY TERRI GARVIN Dylan Knight and Chase Knight measure the snowfall on Monday.

    TCNS staff

    The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and Trinity 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 Trinity County Emergency Management, about 1,130 people were without power, mainly due to the overloaded electric service and the Montgomery County Power Station being down.

    Trinity County Emergency Management opened a warming shelter in the Apple Springs area for anyone in need, and opened the VFW in Trinity as well.

    Anyone feeling they are in need of the service can contact Justice of the Peace Richard Steptoe, Constable Brian McMullen, County Judge Doug Page or Apple Springs Chief Brett Selman.

    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.

    021821 snow 1COURTESY PHOTO BY KELLY DIAL 10-year-old Brance Dial enjoys some time in the snow.

    Area road closures included:

    •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.

    021821 snow 2COURTESY PHOTO BY CHELSIE JO COOK Roads are beautiful, but dangerous, after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow in Texas.

    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.

  • Saving Children

    041521 child abuse 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS County officials, area residents and representatives of child agencies release balloons on Thursday to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

    Area agencies show support during Child Abuse Prevention Month
     
    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Children are the country’s most valuable resource, and deserve all the support and protection they can get.

    Representatives from Kalin’s Center, the Groveton Police Department, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, CASA and numerous county officers marked the occasion on Thursday with information, a flag raising, and a balloon launch.

    Kalin’s Center Executive Director Angela Cross said that across Houston and Trinity counties, there are more than 260 children in foster care for reasons dealing with sexual and physical abuse and neglectful supervision.

    Cross said it takes a team to deal with child abuse.

    “It starts with law enforcement, which usually gets the calls and do the investigations; Child Protective Services investigates, places children and does follow-up care,” she said. “The school usually make the initial reports, so thank a teacher.”

    Team members also include Kalin’s Center, which works with all agencies to make sure no child falls through the cracks; therapists who work with the children to help them deal with the trauma; medical staff who take care of physical maladies; prosecutors and judges make decision and punish offenders; CASA sees children through the courts as their advocates; Child Welfare boards provide for the children in foster care; foster families who care for children; and the community for its support of all these agencies.

    “We need to pray for our children,” she said. “It’s important for them in this day and time.”

  • School Board to look at itself

    031121 trinity schools TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity ISD administration officials congratulate the Employees of the Month for February — Martha Farnsworth for professionals, Michelle Medlock for paraprofessionals and Craig Troutman for support.

    TCNS staff

    TRINITY — The Trinity ISD School Board will take a look in the mirror to help itself improve.

    At the regular meeting on March 1, which was moved from Feb. 22 because of winter weather, the board received evaluation forms to fill out over the coming weeks.

    Superintendent John Kaufman said that the board will fill out the forms to be turned in by March 23, which he will then compile and present at the next board meeting.

    The idea behind the evaluation is to use it as a training tool, Kaufman said.

    In other business, the board:

    • approved the filing for a waiver from the state for missed school days due to inclement weather;
    • approved a certification of unopposed candidates for the 2021 school board election, as well as an order cancelling the election;
    • approved moving the March School Board meeting to March 29; and
    • approved paying employees for the days the district was closed during the weather disaster.
  • School seeks help and sponsors for program

    Centerville ISD logoFILE PHOTO Centerville ISD logo

    Special to the News-Standard

    CENTERVILLE — Centerville High School's Project Celebration Committee is seeking partnerships in the community for an after-graduation celebration.

    The goal of this event is to provide an exciting party that is free of alcohol and drugs, where students can celebrate their achievement in a truly safe environment.

    Further, this is an all-night event that keeps students off the roads on an evening that traditionally has a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents. The entire evening will be free to the graduating seniors and their dates.

    Students will enjoy many activities, music, dancing, games, food and prizes. This is the last big event for seniors before they graduate.

    The Project Celebration Committee works to raise the funds necessary and gain the donations needed to pull off this event. Although monetary help is requested from many individuals and organizations; this community-directed event to keep our children safe is well worth supporting.

    If you are interested in making a donation of any kind to the Centerville Project Celebration, please send or contact Centerville Project Celebration, attention Karen Mott, 10327 N. Highway 94, Groveton, TX 75845, or call (936) 642-1597. Any donation will help make this event a success.

    Project Celebration will be held after High School Graduation on Thursday, May 27. The students who benefit from this event and the Centerville project Celebration Committee thank you in advance for your consideration of a donation.

    The graduating seniors from Centerville are Amber Castle, Weston Dial, Eryn Forrest, James Lee, Alexis May, Gracie May, Kayla Mott, Colton Shank, Garrett Smith, Ethan Rutledge and Logan Villanueva.

  • School to change weekly attendance

    050621 apple springsFILE PHOTO Apple springs calendar

    By Tony Farkas

    APPLE SPRINGS — The Apple Springs school district is going to four-day week.

    Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, students will attend Tuesdays through Fridays, with Monday now being off. The measure was approved at the April 12 School Board meeting.

    Superintendent Cody Moree said the move was something he had proposed the year before COVID hit, but for various reasons, it didn’t gain momentum; however, since then, several districts — Latexo, Corrigan-Camden, Oakwood, Calvert — have made the move, with good results.

    Interest then picked back up, Moree said, and with other districts doing it and the rumors of more, Apple Springs began to move in that direction.

    “I guess the word got around that those districts that have done so are glad; I talked to a board member in Corrigan who said it’s the best thing they’ve ever done,” he said.

    Moree said the district first surveyed the parents electronically, through email and Facebook, which came back with 85 percent of respondents in favor of it. A paper survey came back at more than 90 percent in favor.

    “We felt like we had community support,” he said. “We’re going to try it and hopefully it will turn out good.”

    Moree said the immediate benefit will be teacher recruitment and retention, because small school districts can’t offer the same pay scale as larger ones.

    “We have to compete with that, but we hope by offering this it will help recruiting good people and keep the people we have,” he said.

    Additionally, Moree said there is an academic benefit with teachers and students spending longer, concentrated time on subjects, and students will be in the same room with a teacher.

    “In the long run, the 20 percent rule kicks in; there will be better attendance because appointments can be made on off-days, teachers can make appointments during the week; we’re running the buses 20 percent less so transportations costs should drop,” he said. “With all those things, we think we’ll improve what we’re doing.”

    With students being home an additional day, child care requirements and the effect on the district was discussed, and Moree said the change will be an adjustment for parents and families. However, one of the unintended consequences of the district dealing with the shutdown and changes because of COVID was parents making such arrangements, so the effect should be minimal, he said.

    “We appreciate the support,” Moree said. “We’re trying to be innovative and look for better ways to teach the kids.”

  • Schools discuss robbery arrests

    020421 trinity isd 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity ISD Superintendent John Kaufman and other administration officials present December employee of the month plaques to Magaly Zamora, professional; Ibeth Caceres, paraprofessional; and Crista Caceres, support, at the monthly School Board meeting on Jan. 26.

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — The Trinity ISD School Board heard a presentation regarding two students who were arrested in November for allegedly breaking into the high school and destroying school property.

    Isaac Debose, pastor of Lone Star Missionary Baptist Church, said that while the events of December were tragic, he believes the two teens are being falsely accused.

    The two teens were arrested Dec. 3 and face charges of criminal mischief greater than $30,000 but less that $150,000 and burglary of a building, both felony charges.

    “The accusation doesn’t bother me, as I understand that someone needs to pay,” Debose said. “What really bothers me is the way this process is being handled.”

    Debose said the system has been unfair to certain types of people, but said that because of the open investigation, he declined to offer specifics.

    020421 trinity isd 2TONY FARKAS |TCNS Trinity ISD Superintendent John Kaufman and other administration officials present a January employee of the month plaque to Karen Shelton, professional, and the School Board meeting on Jan. 26. Other January honorees (not pictured) are Bridget Ladnier, paraprofessional, and Cassie Thompson, support.

    He said that the students have been publicly humiliated by this ordeal.

    “At what point does this go beyond hearsay or sub-par investigative work,” he said. “We need answers and we need results. The officers need to do their due diligence, and if there is no evidence, they need to be released.

    “These children need to … salvage what’s left of their senior year,” Debose said. “This is so wrong on so many levels. The people will not stand for it. We, as a people, will talk to whoever we need to talk to and take whatever measures we need to take to seek justice.”

    In other business, the board:

    •extended full pay for staff who are out with COVID through the end of the school year. The program ended Dec. 31;

    •approved 300 pages worth of changes to the school policy manual, based on recommendations by the Texas Association of School Boards. Local changes include additional cybersecurity training, adding a grievance process for terminated at-will employees, and setting parameters for the administration of non-prescription drugs;

    •discussed the system’s academic performance perform, which is done annually. However, since there was no testing done last year, and no testing will be done this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers that were provided were from 2018;

    •approved a change to the school calendar regarding COVID-related days;

    •approved the adoption of a food service procurement manual; and

    •called May 1 as an election day. Board positions held by Elizabeth King and Judy Bishop are up for election this year.

  • Schools to create grant plan

    Groveton ISD logoFILE PHOTO Groveton ISD logo

    TCNS staff

    GROVETON — The Groveton ISD Board will schedule a public hearing on how to best spend a $2.19 million grant, and will appoint a committee to brainstorm possibilities.

    Superintendent Don Hamilton said that the Texas Association of School Boards put out a resolution on the ESSER III grant, which requires publication of the districts use of funds; Groveton decided to do it as a board agenda item that will allow public comment.

    “We’re looking at $2.19 million, broken into two parts,” Hamilton said. “The first will be 2/3, or $1.43 million, and the second part will be 1/3, or $727,000. We’re working on how to spend that money.”

    Hamilton said that incoming superintendent Jim Dillard will assemble a committee to decide how to best utilize those funds, which will be presented at the public hearing.

    “We’re looking at the grant requirements, what is allowed, and what will be the best fit,” he said. “We have until late July to get application in.”

    In other business, the board:

    • accepted the resignation of James Price, who is retiring, and Hunter Hartman, who is moving to a different district’
    • approved the hiring of Rebecca Huff as assistant superintendent and Angela Richey and Britton Stovall as teachers;
    • approved an amendment to the budget to pay for property near the school that purchased earlier in the year. The land is to be used for future expansion; and
    • discussed the Health Advisory Committee Report.
  • Schools to have students help students

    050621 trinity isd copyCOURTESY PHOTO The Trinity ISD Board of Education recognized employees of the month at the regular board meeting on April 26. Pictured are (from left) Keavin Searcy, board president; Gillian Campbell, director; Matt Curtis, Support Employee of the Month; Marci Loesch, Professional of the Month; Melissa Allbright, Paraprofessional of the Month; and Kelli Robinson, principal of Lansberry Elementary.

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — Trinity ISD is looking at a new program to allow athletes to become mentors to other students.

    Susan Green, counselor for Lansberry Elementary, said that the main objective of the mentor program is to support and improve the well-being of our students by providing a role model that can help support them academically, socially, and emotionally.

    “Relationship building is a major theme of the program,” she said. “Students need to be able to make connections with people they can trust and feel comfortable talking to.”

    The high school mentors gain experiences with listening and learning, working together for a common goal, flexibility, and leading by example. This year was a piloting program year to make sure the program will be sustainable and that it will benefit students and the community.

    “I am looking forward to seeing the program grow and having a great impact on our students,” she said.

    In other business, the board:

    •approved the district’s BETA teams travel as they advance to national competition in Orlando, Fla. The district will pay for transportation and meals;

    •approved updated operating procedures for the board;

    •approved hiring Axley & Rode for the district’s annual audit;

    •updated policies for facility rental for other functions;

    •approved the 2021-22 allotment and TEKS Certification for textbooks and appointed a textbook committee;

    •approved the lease/purchase of interactive flat panels for the remainder of the classrooms, and all teachers now have one available;

    •approved the Trinity County Appraisal District budget; and

    •approved renewals of teacher and counselor contracts.

  • Season ends in style

    051321 baseball 5COURTESY PHOTO Winners display their trophies and peace signs during Championship Weekend at the Trinity Baseball-Softball League on Saturday.

    Special to the News-Standard

    TRINITY —The Trinity Baseball-Softball League said goodbye to the season with a Championship Weekend and parade, a new development for the league.

    Organizers offered thanks to all of the teams and parents for decorating floats, to the Trinity Police Department for coordinating traffic, and to the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department, as Trinity High School Baseball players led the parade atop Ladder 1.

    The top 3 best-decorated floats were 12U Lovelady, first place; 12U Trinity White, second place; and 6U Trinity Purple, third place.

    Softball Cake Auction winners were 6U Pink, Bub and Melenie Meredith; 10 Purple, Carol Ketcham; 12U Black, Trinity Cafe (Roland and Dolores Kane); and 15U Orange, Rollo Insurance (Rusty Baker).

    Baseball Cake Auction winners: 6U Gold, DC and Heather Musgrove; 6U Purple, Danny and Suzi Gearheart; 6U Red, Jonathon and Shelby Pope; 8U Sky Blue, George Kane and Bub and Melenie Meredith; 8U Green, Lloyd and Jeannette Burson; 10U Charcoal, Kembro Construction (Brian and Kimberly Kembro); 10U Royal, All-Around Electric (Matt and Jennifer Budzise); 12U Black, James and Dana Herrera; 12U White, Lynette, Kristina and Steven Bass; and 14 Orange, Ace Bail Bonds.

    051321 basseball 4COURTESY PHOTO Softball players get trophies during Championship Weekend at the Trinity Baseball-Softball League on Saturday.

    The first-ever cake auction generated $7,740.

    Volunteers and other supporters were also shown appreciation during the event.

  • Six file for two council seats

    N1411P33001CFILE PHOTO

    By Tony Farkas

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

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

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

    For the remaining candidates, infrastructure is key.

    Autumn Dial

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

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

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

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

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

    Philip Schmitten

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

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

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

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

    Robert Smith

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

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

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

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

    Chris McFarland

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

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

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

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

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

    Dwane Alsbrooks

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

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

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

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

  • Steers, lambs highlight Thursday’s fair activities

    PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS | TCNSContestants in the Continental Heifer show at the Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show on Thursday wait to be interviewed by judges.

    FAIR

    News-Standard staff

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show continued on Thursday with the Steer Show, the lamb group and Continental heifers.

    Fair Board President Bill Wagner said there have been no complaints about the extended timeframe of the show; instead, people have expressed gratitude that the show is being put on at all, since it was missed last year.

    “They’re happy to be doing it; they’re happy that there will actually be judging, since that wasn’t done last year,” he said.

    The remaining schedule for the fair is:

    Friday

    8-10 a.m. Goats, hogs check-in

    2 p.m. Goat show

    5 p.m. Hog show

    Saturday

    5 p.m. Online and live auction