Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Houston County News - Breakout

June proclaimed as ‘Elder Abuse Awareness Month’

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

elder abuse graphicBy Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROCKETT – At the May 24 meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court, Judge Jim Lovell proclaimed the month of June as Elder Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Elder abuse is one of the most underreported criminal offenses. Texas APS in-home caseworkers in Houston County confirmed 65 cases of abuse, neglect, or exploitation against the elderly or disabled in 2021. The proclamation encourages citizens of Houston County to use the month of June to help raise awareness and work together to reduce the abuse and neglect of the elderly or disabled in our community.

In other agenda items, the court accepted the request from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund and Interlocal Agreement Pineywoods Fine Arts for Lightnin’ Hopkins Summer Series to be held on June 3, June 17, and June 24 in the Davy Crockett Park. Also accepted was (1) the donation of services by Lawson Hamilton as a legal intern for the County Attorney’s Office from June 1 through August 31, (2) approval to accept requests for qualifications for engineers to assist Houston County with upcoming construction projects, (3) and a request to State Comptroller for unclaimed capital credits from electric cooperatives to be used in the Community Development Fund within Houston County.

The court also approved to increase the limit on individual fuel cards used by Houston County Sheriff’s Office due to rising prices. Currently, the limit is $1,000, which the court increased to $1,500. 

After a lengthy discussion about rates and rehiring former employees for part-time positions, the agenda item was tabled to give County Attorney Daphne Session time to gather additional information on what steps, if any, can be taken to make a policy change.

  • Hits: 402

Capital requests top council agenda

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Crockett City HallBy Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROCKETT – At the Crockett City council meeting held on Thursday, May 19, the 2023 Fiscal Year budget took center stage as members heard capital requests.

The first agenda items tackled were the police and fire department activity and status reports for April. Police Chief Clayton Smith reported that 13 officers were working 2,606 hours. The department received 564 calls, 15 accidents, 39 arrests, and 196 traffic stops.

Smith noted that the theft reports were high, and the majority came from Walmart. Fire department calls were down approximately 21% from the prior month.

City Administrator John Angerstein reported on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality violations received. A recorded video posted on their website and Facebook showed the administrator explaining the nature of the violations and the remediation of the issues. The violations were operational/procedural and not contamination or water quality problems. 

Angerstein then moved on to the departmental capital requests submitted for next year’s fiscal budget. Preliminary values were received from the appraisal district, and those values went from about $302 million to $330 million. Angerstein explained that just because the values increased, this doesn’t mean the city will bring in more revenue. Regulations state the city can’t bring in more than 3.5% of the revenue from the previous year. That means there is only $49k in additional revenue from which the city will benefit. Angerstein indicated that budget cuts would have to be made in some areas to balance out increases in items such as fuel and material costs. Angerstein also suggested that another way to increase revenue would be a tax increase, but that would require a city election. 

Among the capital requests was an appeal from the Crockett Fire Department to hire two additional employees. Currently, the department is mainly made up of volunteers, but a lack of responders can cause a breach of protocols required by law. The addition of two firefighters would ensure that the fire department fulfills the staffing required. “Volunteerism, as a whole, is dying,” said Fire Chief Jason Frizzell, explaining his request for additional paid staff. 

Smith then submitted his request for a new police car, stating that he initially would have liked to replace the oldest three vehicles, which are now six, seven, and eight years old and require more maintenance. “We asked for three,” Smith said, “but we’d be grateful for whatever we get. I understand that we’ve got pretty tight constraints this year.” 

Other budgetary items presented were salaries and operational equipment needed. When asked if there were any backup financial sources to tap into to help alleviate the cost of some of the expenditures, Angerstein stated that the only two sources of revenue the city has at this time are cash reserves or the money from the funds currently being used to repair water, sewer, and infrastructure. 

The council also voted to select Traylor and Associates as a grant writer to assist the city in applying for grants for downtown revitalization and main street programs, a fire truck, a tornado siren, and repairs of storm creeks on Houston Street. 

The final agenda item was the consideration and appointment of a regular board member and an ex-officio member to the Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation. Executive Director James Gentry stated that although Bill Jones and Chris Ramirez were being considered, the CEIDC board had not yet finalized their recommendation for the unoccupied board position. Mayor Fisher expressed concern over the delay and suggested that Keshia Thomas be nominated as an ex-officio member, but the proposal failed due to a lack of a motion. 

  • Hits: 160

Court canvasses election results

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Vote Another GraphicBy Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROCKETT – On Tuesday, May 17, the Houston County Commissioners Court held a brief special session to canvass the results of the Constitutional Amendment Election held on May 7. The purpose of a canvass is to account for every ballot cast and ensure that every valid vote cast is included in the election totals. The canvass is the official tally of votes for any given election.

Cynthia Lum, who serves as the county’s elections administrator, spoke about the election.

 Both she and the commissioners agreed that it was a smooth process and went well. Only the voting machines were used on the official voting day, which streamlined the process. Lum reported that both propositions passed, and there were 1,032 total voters recorded for this election.

County Judge Jim Lovell inquired about the Kennard ISD Trustee Election held in conjunction with the constitutional amendment election. Ms. Lum reported that Kennard was generally pleased, with the exception of a miscommunication on the ISD website regarding online voting. Lum also noted that there was only a small turnout at the additional polling location set up for Kennard.

Commissioners reviewed the tally of votes provided by Lum. Although no official vote was needed to approve the canvass, at least two commissioners are required to review the results. In addition to the county judge, Commissioners Gary Lovell, Gene Stokes and Jimmy Henderson were there to review the findings. The results were then certified by Lovell. 

  • Hits: 198

Angerstein explains violation notices

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Crockett City HallBy Jan White
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CROCKETT – On May 12, City Administrator John Angerstein took to Facebook to reach out to Crockett residents about some notices sent out by the City.

The city is required to take water samples to ensure that a certain level of quality is maintained. This involves sending the water samples to a laboratory that, in turn, forwards those results to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which oversees the safety of public water systems. The tests ensure that there are no contaminants in the water and that the water systems maintain the proper amount of disinfectant. The results of this testing are recorded in the Annual Consumer Confidence Report. This report is available at the City Hall and on their website. A link to the site is sent to residents on their water bills to let them know that the report is available. 

However, sometimes certain violations require public notices, such as the boil-water notices. Angerstein wanted to use the video on Facebook to address the notices that customers will be receiving over the next few days concerning some violations received by the City from TCEQ.

The city purchases water from Houston County Water Control Improvement District No. 1, which uses water from the Houston County Lake. Because the water is what Angerstein referred to as “surface water,” or lake water, it must be tested frequently for “total coliform,” a bacteria that could exist in lake water, so water must be disinfected appropriately for that. This requires taking samples every month from sites across town. One of the approved sites was a home under construction, and therefore, the water had been turned off. Unaware that he could take water from another site, the employee turned in his samples with one missing. This sample shortage took place over a three-month period before TCEQ notified the city that they were a sample short. The oversight resulted in a violation order from the TCEQ, but the problem has since been addressed and corrected without further issues. 

While working with TCEQ on the current matter, it was discovered that several other outstanding violations were showing up on the records even though they had been corrected many years ago. In his video, Angerstein explained, “We went ahead and included those public notices in order to start with a clean slate, so to speak, with TCEQ.”  Those notices are in reference to lead and copper testing in 2019 and violations from 2018 and 2019 involving low disinfectant levels. Angerstein noted that all the violations were for procedural issues, not contaminate problems or issues of water quality. 

“We want to assure that the water is always safe and of good quality,” Angerstein said, “And we want to be accountable for our actions.”

If you have any questions, you can call Angerstein at 936-544-5156, or more technical questions can be directed to the utility superintendent. You can view the original video on the City of Crockett Facebook page. 

  • Hits: 292

The Comeback Kid - Lexi Mayo overcomes predictions, odds

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Lexi and Whiskey

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

CROCKETT – In December 2019, while working cattle on her ranch, Lexi Mayo was bucked off her cow horse, landing hard on her back and paralyzing her from the hips down. Transported to Memorial Hermann, doctors determined that although the paralysis was likely temporary only time would tell if she would walk again. Tests showed bone fragments lodged in her spinal cord, her T12 vertebra was shattered, and T11 and L1 were broken. Scared and wracked with pain, Mayo searched the face of her fiancé, Dallas Smalley, for some reassurance, but his expression told her the whole story. It didn’t look good. Mayo spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit and a week in the Intermediate Medical Unit before being released. Before she left, doctors told her that it was still questionable whether she would be able to walk unassisted again, much less ride horses. 

The news was devastating to Mayo, who had spent her life showing and competing in rodeos. In 2005, Mayo had decided to get her WPRA permit. The requirements are that you have to win at least one thousand dollars before you can be a cardholder. She competed from 2005 to 2009 and won some money, but not enough to qualify. However, in 2009, her luck changed, and Mayo started winning money that went towards earning her card. She managed not only to fill her permit, but she and her horse, Whiskey, made it to the WPRA Finals Derby division that year. Over the years, Mayo had won numerous buckles and championships and, on occasion, would breakaway at some jackpots.

Now here she was, unable to sit for more than 30 minutes without her lower body going numb. Still in excruciating pain, Mayo was determined to find a doctor who might offer her a little hope. That glimmer came when Mayo visited Dr. Robert Mohr. After running his own tests, Mohr gave Mayo the guarded news – they would have to place rods, plates, and screws in her back.

 The shattered T12 would be constructed of surgical-grade cement. The operation would take eight hours, and even then, Mohr warned that it might not work. 

After Mayo’s surgery, Dallas spoke with the surgeon, who told him hers was the worst break he’d ever repaired on someone still attempting to walk. Mohr had done more reconstruction to Mayo’s back than any patient before. And even if the surgery were successful, she would never be able to ride, much less run barrels again.

But that’s not how this story ends.

Refusing to believe those predictions, Mayo began aquatic therapy three times a week. The pain was so intense Mayo dreaded therapy and cried to and from the sessions each time. Because of the nature of the repairs, she couldn’t bend or twist her body. So she had to start all over again, learning a new way to function. Even the simple tasks like showering, dressing, household chores, and sometimes even getting out of bed took a monumental effort on her part. 

Besides battling the physical pain of the injury, Mayo also had to fight against the mental agony. Chronic pain can take its toll – its relentlessness can beat down the spirit and leave the victim questioning whether it’s worth the agony. Mayo admits that she suffered her share of depression. And if that weren’t enough, along came the those who had an ax to grind and told Mayo that she “got what she deserved” and the naysayers who told her she was being unrealistic to think she’d walk, much less ride again. But her best friends refused to give up on Mayo. They even paid her annual PRCA dues for her so she could stay in good standing with the rodeo association. Mayo credits prayer, good friends, and a loving fiancé for helping her get through the tough times.

Over the next few months, she began to see some improvement, but Mayo still longed to ride again. She approached her doctor and her best friends, Kendall Jordan and Jordan Beckman, and asked their help in developing a plan to get back on her horse, Whiskey. It wasn’t until March of 2021 that Mayo, with Dallas’ help, was finally about to mount her beloved horse again. At first, all she could do was sit on Whiskey’s back while Dallas led her around like you would a small child, and she could only last ten minutes before the pain forced her out of the saddle. Eventually, Mayo was able to ride by herself without anyone leading her. Then she had another daunting task to tackle – how to saddle and bridle her horse by herself. But as you can tell by now, Mayo was determined. It took time and a lot of creativity, but because of her independent spirit and never quit attitude, Mayo figured out a way. 

In June of last year, an idea began forming in Mayo’s head – she wanted to race again in her hometown rodeo. And she wanted to perform on her old companion, Whiskey, who was twenty-two years old by this time. That’s about age 65 in “people” years. This past December, Mayo got the go-ahead from her doctor and the blessing of her horse’s vet to make the run at the Crockett rodeo. 

On Saturday night, May 14, Mayo and her partner Whiskey did indeed make their run at the Crockett Lions Club 60th Annual PRCA Rodeo at the Porth Ag Arena in Crockett. It was a bittersweet moment for Mayo. Although she had triumphed over the injury doctors said would keep her from walking again, her partnership with her faithful companion, Whiskey, was ending. In Mayo’s words, “Whiskey will retire officially as we run out of the alley. But as for me, well, I still have two colts in the barn, and they have some pretty big horseshoes to fill.”

Because of her experience and the bond she shares with her horses, Mayo has recently started a new program called the Equine Outreach Program. Along with Ashley Perez and Kurstyn Adams, Mayo has developed a program to help children bond with God through horses. “Since it was by God’s grace that I am walking, and because horses have been my therapy, I wanted to let horses do for other kids what they’ve done for me.” The program teaches kids how to interact with horses, how to talk to them, groom them, feed them, and gain their trust. If you would like more information about the program, contact Mayo on her Equine Outreach Program page on Facebook. 

From the sound of it, this “comeback kid” story is far from over. As Mayo said, “God has blessed me with an amazing man, Dallas Smalley, an amazing set of horses, and a second chance. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next.”

  • Hits: 627