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Houston County News - Breakout

St. Francis awards scholarships

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063022 catholic scholarship

By Jan White
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St. Francis of the Tejas Catholic Church has awarded scholarships to five graduating seniors. Those receiving scholarships are Antonio Cruz, Daniel Torres, Magali Castillo, Perla O’Campo, and Rubi O’Campo. Other graduates who didn’t receive scholarships but attend the

church are Marlen Cruz and Nayela Gutierrez.
The scholarships were funded by the Men’s Club, the Ladies Guild, and John Grupa, who donated scholarships in memory of his wife, Brenda.

All the graduates were recognized at Mass, and a reception was held afterward. Father Selvaraj Sinnappan and the parishioners of St. Francis congratulate all the graduates.

Pictured are Father Sinnappan, Perla O’Campo, Ruby O’Campo, and Daniel Torres.

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Crockett welcomes new family doctor

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063022 new family doctor

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – A crowd of local residents and Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce representatives turned out to welcome Dr. Michael R. McLeod and Crockett’s newest medical clinic – Texas Family Doctor.

The Chamber held a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, June 21, at the Texas Family Doctor clinic. Located at 951 E. Loop 304, the facility offers comprehensive family medical care and promises to treat patients with “Old school values with a modern twist.” Dr. McLeod’s office offers not just the usual “in clinic” visits, but for patients bedbound or unable to travel without great difficulty, the doctor is available to make “old-fashioned” house calls. And because Dr. McLeod’s facilities use the latest technology and advances in evidence-based medicine, they can provide virtual visits and at-home monitoring services.

McLeod is a Board Certified Family Physician with over twenty years of practice in rural Texas. McLeod is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in psychology, and he received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. McLeod has also served in faculty roles for institutions such as UTMB, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Texas A&M College of Medicine, helping train future doctors and leaders. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice and won a national research contest with his presentation on diabetes care. McLeod was also recognized with the first-ever Health Heroes Award from the Texas Medical Association.

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PWFAA hosts Missoula Children’s Theatre troup

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063022 pwfaa hosts troupeThe cast of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” performs the show for a Crockett audience. Photo by Ashley Keenan 

CROCKETT – The Pineywoods Fine Arts Association hosted the Missoula Children’s Theatre group this past week at the Crockett Civic Center.

On Monday, they held tryouts and for the remainder of the week these aspiring actors practiced lines and rehearsed their roles for the debut of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” on Saturday, June 25.

In this rendition of an old tale, the Emperor is pressured by royal guests and money hungry townspeople to be something he’s not and dress differently than he ever has.

The Emperor starts dressing in over the top, expensive clothing and even his personality begins to change. When his true friends try to talk to him, he won’t listen. He says that he must give the people what they want. Finally, at his birthday parade celebration, he comes to his senses and realizes that his friends were right. It’s the personality and heart that matter most. He surprised everyone with his “birthday suit”, a simple number that he started out with.

Emperor: Hannah Hickson

Roxy: Trinity Small

Red: Jimmie Sims

ManyPenny: Emily Farmer

Money Council: Bren Bezdek, Georgia Calvert, Emery Eden,

Katie Gentry, Daniel McLain and Kerri Tubs

King Air: Caleb Hickson

Queen Air: Grace Capistran

King Fire: Angel Capistran

Queen Fire: Aubree Ogg

King Water: Landon Walter

Queen Water: Taylor Hickson

King Earth: Kendall Hickson

Queen Earth: Hiliana Arvizu

Gem: Kara Luedeker

Jewelers: Chelsea Kellim, Lacet Sims, Natalie Sims, and Aubrie Wyble

Boots: Jaycie Thornton

Cobblers: Genesis Arvizu, Maddie Carter, Zoey Jimenez, and Hannah Navario

Lid: Nathaniel John-Mark Cariker

Hatters: Keira Dubberly, Andrew McMullen, Kayla Sims, and Sidney Woolverton

Stitch: Lauren Gentry

Tailors: Kyle Branch, Oliver Jimenez, Lucas Mcginn, and Skylar Walter

Silkworms: Bryan Byrd, Winnie Byrd, Keaton Dubberly, Cooper Hickson, Amelia Jimenez, Amelia McLain, JR Sims, Bailey Walter, and Brooke Walter

Assistant Directors: Lila Hutcherson and Leela Sims

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CEIDC concerns top council agenda

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063022 ceidc concerns Council members discuss and give their opinions about auditing the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation.

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – During the Crockett City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 21, concerns over the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation dominated the meeting.

It began with the public comments, where speakers lined up to comment on topics that ranged from allegations of wrong-doing by the former mayor, questionable checks, unlawful use of sales tax funds, problems with long-term liabilities of the CEIDC, and disregarding the CEIDC bylaws.

Before discussing the agenda item regarding a third-party audit of CEIDC, Mayor Ianthia Fisher explained, “When you are talking forensic audits, you’re talking fifteen different types to narrow it down. So we are going to try to come to a consensus, and narrow it down to a vote, and decide what you want to do.”

Council members volleyed back and forth, giving their opinions about the topic. Councilman Darrell Jones began the conversation, expressing his dismay over accusations he felt questioned the integrity of the city attorney, Bill Pemberton, and auditors Axley and Rode. “Everybody knows the audit comes to John, and he looks at it, and then it goes to Mr. Pemberton. He looks at it and gets back with Axley and Rode to make sure everything is ok. Then we get it. Every report is then brought to you. Y’all have looked at it, and we have approved every last one. Now, how in the heck is something wrong? All this is a lie. Y’all said you voted, and Mr. Pemberton knew what he was doing.”

Councilman Gene Caldwell’s take was that if something was wrong, “Let’s get it corrected, and get on the right track so that the public will be with us again. Right now, we’ve got half the city thinking we’re not taking care of business and covering things up. And I don’t want to be like that.” He said that if it takes a qualified third-party audit to settle the issue, that was the thing to do.

Councilman Ernest Jackson told the council that it was time to take a deeper look at the CEIDC. “The public trust has been violated. An audit reveals what a company is doing and makes sure it’s on track with its goals. A forensic audit deals with the allegations or beliefs that something is illegal or wrong.” Jackson went on to say that he didn’t have a problem with a forensic audit as long as it went further back than just the current Executive Director. He advised the group that, in fairness, they should also take a look at actions under past directors, naming Flint Brent, Tom Lambert, and Tim Culp.

Jones spoke out about the lack of documents to back up the concerns expressed by constituents. Although admitting that everyone has a right to their opinion, he stated, “Neither one of y’all have received any documents, and you’re just going off on what somebody is saying. And you don’t have nothing to back that up. Period. Where are the documents? What did they present us? They came up and spoke, but they ain’t brought nothing.” Jones asked representative Molly Abele from Axley and Rode to stand so the council and audience would know that she was in attendance. “You’re saying Axley and Rode is lying, and you’re saying Mr. Pemberton is lying.”

Both Jackson and Fisher offered explanations of the difference between a standard audit and a forensic audit.

Standard audits are based on just a sampling of documents and transactions and don’t include looking at every detail and area. Forensic audits are costlier, and the council would need to decide whether they want an audit of procedures or financials or what exact type of audit they need.

“And for every year you go back,” Fisher said, “there’s a price tag attached.”

She told the council that if they agree on a forensic audit, they must define expectations and determine who will foot the bill. “The cost can be anywhere from $200 to $500 an hour, and we are talking many, many days, not hours.”

As the discussion was winding down, Jones made a motion not to have a forensic audit because of the lack of documentation that would support allegations made about the handling of finances by the CEIDC. Jone’s motion died for lack of a second. Jackson then made a motion that a forensic audit be conducted and include previous administrations going back to Tim Culp. Council members Jackson, Caldwell, and Marsh voted for the motion, and Jones voted against.

Before adjourning, Jones asked that the council put on the agenda to review and take action on the pay for city employees who have worked for the City for twenty-five or thirty years and make less than $11 per hour.

At the beginning of the meeting, Police Chief Clayton Smith praised his staff for their work in solving two recent robberies, one in which approximately $30k in stolen materials were recovered and another involving the theft of $10k to $15k worth of tobacco products. Assistant Chief Fajardo, Captain Gates, Lieutenant Lum, and Officer Milligan were named by Smith for their outstanding contribution to the investigations.

The other agenda item that received less hype but is essential to improving downtown Crockett was the resolution to designate a stretch of sidewalk on Goliad as a “Blight area” and “detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare of the community within the downtown district.”

The sidewalk area referenced is a section of East Goliad Street between Second and Fourth streets and another section between South Fifth Street to South Sixth streets.

In the resolution, it was stated that “The infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of the area, including deteriorating walkways and steps, absence of accessibility, ramps and handrails for persons with disabilities to commercial and other public buildings in the area, and inadequate lighting in the downtown area of the City.”

After designating the section as a “blight area,” the city could then move forward to apply for a grant from the Texas Community Block Grant Program for the Downtown Revitalization Program Fund. Council approved the designation and application for $500K of grant funds to provide reconstruction, engineering, and administration for the project, as well as authorizing Fisher and City Administrator John Angerstein to serve as representatives for the city.

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Commissioners extend burn ban

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062622 burn ban extendedThe burn ban to the court’s next scheduled meeting on July 12.

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – The first major agenda item passed at the Commissioners Court meeting held on Tuesday, June 28, was to extend the burn ban to the court’s next scheduled meeting on July 12.

Also approved was the request from the District Attorney for approval of a SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) for Houston County as required under Texas Local Government Code #351.

The court moved quickly through the other agenda items:

• Approved the payment of $5,890.99 to Houston County Electric Cooperative to move the electrical line on CR 4555 as part of the new bridge construction

• Denied the request by UT Tyler to add their addendum to Houston County Senior Citizens Center rental agreement. The amendment requested by the University was to allow for electronic payment., but the Senior Center is not set up to accept electronic payments, only checks, cash, or money orders. Commissioners felt the request would cause an undue burden and thus voted not to accept the request.

• Approved the request for Hotel Occupancy Tax fund and Interlocal Agreement with Robin Ogg for the “Day Trippin” Entertainment Event on August 12-14 at the Crocket Family Resort. Ogg is requesting $2,000 to help cover the cost of entertainment for the event.

• Approved the dates and locations for the County-Wide Trash Cleanup scheduled for July 2022. The clean-up schedule is as follows: Precinct 1 will take place on July 9, and Precinct 2 will take place on July 16. Both will be at the Crockett transfer station. Precinct 3 clean-up will be on July 23 at Precinct 3 county barn, and Precinct 4 clean-up will take place on July 30 at the Precinct 4 county barn.

• Appointed Todd Stone as Commissioner to ESD No. 2

• Voted to update the County Travel policy with the new IRS mileage reimbursement rate effective July 1, of 62.5 cents a mile, up from 58.5 cents.

• Approval to determine eligible uses and authorizations of budget amendments for the American Rescue Plan Act.

• Approved advertising for bids and necessary budget amendments for the purchase of a used semi-truck for hauling for Precinct 3 with ARPA grant funds.

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