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Arrest made in hidden video case

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Arturo Rodriquez -  Courtesy Crockett Police DeptArturo Rodriquez - Courtesy Crockett Police DeptBy Chris Edwards

CROCKETT – A Crockett man was arrested last for allegedly videotaping customers at a local business.

Arturo Fajardo Rodriguez, 27, was arrested by Crockett Police Department last Tuesday, after officers were dispatched to a business in reference to a hidden camera that had been installed in a public restroom, according to Crockett Chief of Police Clayton Smith.

An employee at the business had notified supervisors upon discovery, and then law enforcement was notified. A recording on the device had captured a suspect placing the camera above the ceiling tile, according to Smith, and Rodriguez was identified as a suspect.

Rodriguez was brought in for questioning and cooperated with investigators, and then taken into custody. Smith stated that his department feels it would be counterproductive to publicly release the name of the business involved, and the investigation is ongoing and still active.

“If you are found to be a victim of this crime, you will be contacted individually and given more information,” Smith said. The charge of Invasive Visual Recording in the state of Texas is a state jail felony.

Rodriguez was brought in for questioning and cooperated with investigators, and then taken into custody. Smith said Rodriguez bonded out the same day on a $10,000 bond. Smith stated that his department feels it would be counterproductive to publicly release the name of the business involved, and the investigation is ongoing and still active. Smith said there are additional charges that will likely come. 

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Close Encounters of the Ghostly Kind – Part 3

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The entrance to Glenwood Cemetery, the oldest in Crockett. (JAN WHITE | HCC)The entrance to Glenwood Cemetery, the oldest in Crockett. (JAN WHITE | HCC)

By Jan White

When you live in the oldest county in Texas, you are bound to hear stories about hallowed grounds where the restless spirits of Indians and Confederate soldiers roam. Our third installment of eerie anecdotes is about three areas said to be haunted by these troubled spirits.

Pine Springs Campground

Pine Springs Campground, located about fourteen miles northeast of Crockett, was known as a favored campsite of the Tejas Indians. “Miss Eliza” Bishop would tell stories of her encounters with what she called “Ghost Indians.” These ghosts made their presence known either in the spring or early autumn. There are those who believe the best time to commune with these spirits is around midnight on Halloween.  They typically communicated through rushing winds, which came up unexpectedly, and swept through the pines. And if you were very quiet and listened closely, you could faintly hear the war whoops and yells that echoed through the forest.  They say the spirits return each year to the Pine Springs Campground. Many people make an annual pilgrimage to Pine Springs Campground to attune to the spirits that inhabit the area. 

CADDO MOUNDS

Caddo Mounds is one of the best-known and extensively investigated Indian sites in Texas. Six miles southwest of Alto, Caddo Mounds consists of three large earthen mounds and a large portion of a prehistoric village. While two of the mounds represent communal structures serving multiple functions, the third mound is a burial site for elite members of the community. This would explain the claim that the mounds are haunted by an Indian woman dressed in white. This tale has circulated since the 1970s. The woman has been seen sitting atop of or wandering among the mounds, weeping for her lost loved ones. Some claim that a banshee haunts the area, wailing a sorrowful, piercing cry. 

GLENWOOD CEMETERY

Nestled in a secluded area off the town square stands Crockett’s oldest cemetery, Glenwood Cemetery, built soon after the county seat was founded in 1837. While a beautiful place to visit during the day, you might want to steer clear of the historical site after dark. Glenwood is the resting place for many Confederate soldiers. But it might not be, as they say, their “final” resting place. There are rumors that the ghosts of these soldiers wander restlessly among the tombstones. Witnesses have reported seeing a ghostly image hobbling across the graveyard on crutches because of a missing leg. Other apparitions are missing hands or arms, all of which are thought to have been lost during the war.  There are those who claim they’ve heard the soldiers whisper from beyond the grave, phrases like “war is hell,” or more plaintive cries such as “Here I am General, over here.”  One local resident claims that “The Confederate soldiers who rest in the old cemetery appear to be no more peaceful than they were while waging war.”

Many people try to convince themselves that there’s no such thing as ghosts. But if you talk to someone who has experienced the phenomenon, you might find yourself swayed into believing. Of course, you could always spend a night at one of these “haunted” places and find out for yourself. 

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Peace by Piece – Event raises awareness of domestic violence

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Domestic ViolenceBy Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROCKETT – The Family Crisis Center of East Texas hosted the “Peace by Piece – Empowering Survivors” luncheon last Wednesday. The event took place at the Farmer’s Market & Food Park across from the City Hall in Crockett. Lunch was provided by Keisha’s Café. 

In the forefront of the event was a tree, on which hung colored puzzle pieces - black, white, and purple. Each color and segment represent a story. The black puzzle pieces stood for the number of domestic violence fatalities that occurred in 2020. The white pieces represented survivors, and the purple puzzle pieces represented those still trapped in violent situations. 

After a welcome by FCC Legal Advocate Maria Rodriquez, Whitney Burran, Executive Director of the Family Crisis Center, began the meeting by quoting alarming statistics. The Texas Council on Family Violence reported that domestic violence increased 10% in 2020. Domestic or intimate partner abuse or deaths rose from 185 in 2019 to 228 in 2020. And from 2019 to 2020, violence against law enforcement officers responding to domestic violence calls increased 80%. 

As the guest speakers stepped to the microphone, each described their role in response to the cycle of domestic abuse. Sheriff Randy Hargrave gave a detailed explanation about crimes committed in Houston County involving family violence and how it touches every member of the abuser’s family. Kim Riddle, Forensic Nursing Supervisor, stated that everyone knows someone affected by domestic violence and encouraged the community to break the cycle. Angela Cross of Kalin’s Center spoke of the effect on children who witness adult violence, described how the Center handles child abuse and children’s counseling. Leea Price, who works closely with CPS and the Family Crisis Center, gave a step-by-step recount of what to expect when the police respond to a domestic violence call. County Attorney Daphne Sessions encouraged victims of domestic abuse to report their abusers and seek help from the Family Crisis Center. Taylor Farmer, Investigator, and Crime Victim Coordinator, read an email from a former client of the Family Crisis Center who sought help for herself and her son and escaped the cycle of abuse. 

From the addict who abuses their spouse to the abused parent who takes it out on their child, to the child who grows up believing abuse is the norm – the cycle of intimate partner violence must be broken. Awareness, education, law enforcement, counseling, and community involvement are essential if Houston County hopes to win the fight against domestic abuse. For more information on how you can help, contact (936) 639-1681 or visit www.FamilyCrisisCenterofEastTexas.com .

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How historical markers came to be in Texas

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The marker at Jim English Cemetery is one of the 255 historic site markers in Houston County issued by the Texas Historical Commission. (COURIER FILE PHOTO)The marker at Jim English Cemetery is one of the 255 historic site markers in Houston County issued by the Texas Historical Commission. (COURIER FILE PHOTO)By Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Houston County is rich with historical markers. You can spot their distinctive shape without even knowing what they commemorate. But where did they originate? What qualifies a person or place for this distinction? A little background information helps us understand how these markers came into being.

As much as we'd like to think that historic preservation was an American idea, the practice actually started in England. In 1863 a member of Parliament, William Ewart, presented the idea to the House of Commons. It wasn't until 1889 that the United States government took a step in this direction by reserving a tract of land in Arizona containing the prehistoric Casa Grande Ruin. But there was no actual legislation concerning preserving natural, cultural, or scientific features, although there were efforts toward preservation in the 19th century. On a steamboat ride past Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, Louisa Cunningham noted its deterioration and began a money-raising project to buy and preserve the property. Inspired by her mother's concern, Ann Pamela Cunningham initiated her own campaign. In 1853 Ann founded The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, recognized as the oldest private preservation organization in the United States. Through funds raised, the Association was able to purchase the home. 

No official preservation steps were taken until 1906, when Congress, concerned over private collectors removing artifacts from federal lands, like Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, created The Antiquities Act. The Act gave the President of the United States authority to create national monuments from federal lands to protect historic and prehistoric sites and prohibit excavation and destruction of antiquities. 

 A decade later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service, whose primary purpose was preservation, regulation, and management of the parks, historic buildings, sites, and monuments. 

 By 1935, Congress passed the Historic Sites Act. Its policy permitted the Secretary of Interior to create programs for preservation efforts. This Act allowed for the organization of national parks under the National Park Service, which in turn founded the National Register of Historic Places. This register is the official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects worthy of preservation. 

 In addition to the National Register, there are plaques designated by states, city and local markers, University historical marker programs, and historic districts. Texas alone recognizes more than 3,678 historical landmarks. 

In 1953, the Texas State Legislature established The Texas Historic Commission, although the Legislature established the agency in 1953 as the Texas State Historical Survey Committee with the task to identify important historic sites across the state. The Texas Legislature changed the agency's name to the Texas Historical Commission in 1973. Along with the name change came more protective powers, an expanded leadership role, and broader educational responsibilities.

National Park Service plaques are unique in that they only mark locations, and don't commemorate people or events.

The Texas State Legislature first created the Texas Historical Commission in 1953. Initially, it was called the Texas State Historical Survey Committee and was formed to identify important historic sites across the state/ When the Legislature changed the organizations name in 1973, they expanded its leadership role, broadened educational responsibilities, and endowed more protective powers. Their focus was on preserving the real stories of Texas history by discovering and documenting places and stories of the state's rich cultural heritage and the establishment of communities.

From attracting tourists to generating jobs and income, historic preservation is important to towns, not only from a historic aspect, but according to an economic impact study in 2015, preservation activities in Texas contribute over $4.6 billion annually to the state. 

 

 

 

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County ready to implement technology action plan

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cyberspace g40282fb6f 1920By Chris Edwards
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HOUSTON COUNTY – The push to get broadband access into rural areas, such as Houston County, has been on the lips of many for the past several years, including several legislators and governing bodies. 

Legislative efforts in the last regular session of the Texas Legislature resulted in bills being passed into law, which were spearheaded by local state representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and state senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville). Their legislation, which was deemed a priority issue by Gov. Greg Abbott, resulted in the adoption of a statewide broadband office. Last week, Connected Nation Texas announced it is getting ready to implement the Technology Action Plan in Houston County.

The plan was developed after a survey was conducted between the period of January and May of this year. Through the survey, responses were collected from 391 households.

The purpose of the survey, according to a Connected Nation news release, was to determine the availability of internet infrastructure and how residents are adopting and using broadband internet services, as well as what steps would have the greatest impact toward improving access to high-speed internet, locally.

“It has been a pleasure working with Connected Nation Texas on our broadband survey and developing an actionable plan to strategically move our city and county forward in providing digital access to all of our current and future residents,” Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein said. 

Angerstein added that he is looking forward to working with Connected Nation on future projects in order to realize goals regarding broadband access.

Pamela Waggoner, who works as broadband solutions manager for the firm, said that the county brought together many leaders in order to work toward bringing high-speed internet to all sectors. “By implementing the actions CN Texas has provided and by using incoming grants and services wisely, Houston County is set up to be successful. I look forward to continuing to work with leadership,” Waggoner said.

The survey found several aspects about the county and its internet access. Chief among its findings was that 83% of Houston County residents have internet access, although many of them do not subscribe and speeds are often a major obstacle.

The average download and pay rates were also noted by the CN survey. The download speed of 18.8 mps is the average speed county residents have access to in order to download files, which, according to CN, is “considerably slower” than other communities. 

On average, also, county residents pay $82.74 monthly for internet service, while other communities average $71.05 each month.

CN’s plan of action suggests solutions the county can implement, including the establishment of a broadband office to oversee broadband infrastructure and adoption, countywide. 

The plan also looks to educate the community about low-cost options available, either via the federal government or by way of local providers, according to the news release.

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