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Crockett City Council approves utility rates

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Photo cutline: Crockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher with FFA winners and sponsors. PHOTO BY LIZ GUZMAN | HCCCrockett Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher with FFA winners and sponsors. PHOTO BY LIZ GUZMAN | HCC

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – The Crockett City Council meeting opened with congratulations to Crockett High School FFA members, who won State Recognition awards for their leadership and participation in recent Future Farmers of America competitions. 

Mayor Ianthia Fisher presented the teams with Certificates of Excellence, recognizing the students for their accomplishments. Each team took a few minutes to tell attendees about the projects which won them their awards.

From there, the meeting moved on to their regular business session. The first item of business was to consider and approve the increase in utility rates. City Administrator John Angerstein explained that this was not an increase in base rates, but the increase will be on the consumption side, raising the cost to $0.06 per 100 gallons of water used. 

“This is the first time we’ve seen our water rates increase since 2016,” stated Angerstein. “Due to some of the construction that city has been able to take on, and the employee raises that were in the budget, this is enough to cover that.”

Mike Marsh spoke out to address criticism aimed at Angerstein during the public comments portion of the meeting. “I’d like to say that our City Administrator did NOT [instigate the increase in rates]. The water district went up on us. So we had to pass it on. We’re not getting any “extra” here. It’s just the amount they went up on us. So just to clarify that the City Administrator had nothing to do with this.”

The increase in the water district utility rate was approved.

Business moved on to amend some of the ordinances in the garbage and trash collection code, including the requirement that all loose refuse and kitchen garbage be placed inside garbage bags. 

Angerstein said that if a residence has garbage that repeatedly extends to outside bags, Piney Woods Sanitation has asked that they upgrade and get additional carts, but when occasional extenuating circumstances like holidays generate more trash, the sanitation department will allow up to three extra bags outside the poly cart. Angerstein also said that initially, the department said they would pick up two large items once a month for free. 

Due to the number of residents, the department has now agreed to pick up two large items for free on a weekly basis. “Their only request,” said Angerstein, “is that you call the day before, so they will know in advance that large items need to be picked up on their route.” Angerstein also said that the sanitation department would not pick up items on one’s property, but those items have to be curbside.

Council was asked to vote on a requested increase of 6% from the Piney Woods Sanitation Department. There was some dissent regarding the increase, but as Gene Caldwell pointed out, “You have to also take into consideration that through the tornadoes and all that stuff, they donated, I don’t know how many dumpsters, and hauled off and cleaned up a considerable amount of area throughout all of our precincts. And that was a great cost on their behalf that we didn’t have to take care of.” Marquita Beasley also reminded the group that during a previous budget meeting, the concerns over the increase had already been discussed, and the 6% had already been included in the 2023 budget. The council then approved the increase.

The next item of business was the approval of a lease agreement with South Pine Animal Hospital. The city had purchased the property, but due to construction on their new facility, the hospital asked that they be able to remain on the property and lease it until the new facility is completed and they can relocate. Angerstein stated that the animal hospital would eventually be used as an animal shelter. “We look forward to being able to finally address our animal shelter issue.”

Fisher said “I think it’s a good thing that we’ve gone from conversation to actually having a building. We’re in business now, give or take a little time in between. I’m excited about it.” 

The council was then asked to review the sealed proposals to perform the forensic audit of the Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation from qualified Certified Public Accountant firms and approve the selection of the firm. 

After reviewing the packets, a motion was made by Marquita Beasley to accept the bid from Weaver. The board voted unanimously to approve the motion.

The final agenda item was to authorize Mayor Fisher to act on behalf of the city in matters related to the contract with the firm performing the forensic audit and to approve the recommendation that both the City of Crockett and the CEIDC share the cost of the audit. 

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Republican candidates visit Crockett

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CandidatesVisit 09 15 2022

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – Republican incumbent candidate for Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, and the U.S. Representative for the 17th Congressional District, Pete Sessions, made an appearance at the Moosehead Café in Crockett on Thursday, Sept. 1, to share their platforms and encourage voters to hit the polls in November.

Sessions spoke first. Due to the redistricting that took place after the results of the 2020 census, Sessions will take his seat as Houston County’s representative in January of 2023. 

Before introducing Miller, Sessions took the opportunity to share a little about himself and speak on his concerns for the upcoming mid-term elections. “I want you to know that this is a very important county, and you are very important.” 

Sessions’ main emphasis was to encourage voters to get out and vote for their candidates. “I endorse every single Republican that’s on the ballot,” Sessions said. “I want to be a leader for Republicans. For common sense people. And just like Sid Miller, I will be here for you. I’m very proud of our awesome Ag Commissioner.”

Sessions turned the microphone over to Miller to talk about the future of agriculture in Texas. Out of the chute, Miller stated, “The one thing I’ve learned is that our greatest natural resource we have in this state is not oil and gas. It’s our youth. We put a huge emphasis on that as a part of agriculture because the average age of the Texas farmers and ranchers is fifty-nine-and-a-half. So we’ve got to have that younger generation coming along to take over that mantle and furnish food for the next generations.”

During Miller’s talk, he interspersed personal and humorous stories and discussed the various roles the Agriculture Department plays. “We lead the nation in agricultural exports. We oversee production, transportation, and marketing. “We do the sows, cows, and plows,” Miller said, “But we do a lot of stuff you don’t know about. We’re the consumer protection agency for the state.” The AG Commission is responsible for bar code scanners and the accuracy of scales and even ensures the precision of the ping-pong balls used in the Texas lottery.

The Commission also helps manage the National School Lunch Program, and is responsible for millions of daily school meals, helping to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers to local cafeterias. They sponsor the Go Texan program dedicated to developing, encouraging, assisting, and promoting Texas products and services. The Commission also initiates and supports international livestock and produce exports.

Miller said that his priorities for the upcoming year include putting an armed guard in every school cafeteria in the state. Referring to the shootings in Columbine and Uvalde, Miller said, “Without exception, these mass shootings have happened in a “Gun-free Zone. They know that there’s no opposition, and they can just walk in uncontested.” His reasoning for targeting cafeteria protection was the number of children in one room, and the predictability of their lunch schedule. 

Another of Miller’s goals is to put the medical decision to prescribe medical cannabis in the hands of doctors, “Not bureaucrats and legislators,” said Miller. “We’ve had medical cannabis since 2011, but [the government] picks winners and losers. So if you have epilepsy, your doctor can treat you with cannabis. But if you have Parkinson’s, which cannabis helps, you can’t get it legally. So we’re making criminals out of people because it’s the only way they can get relief. It’s time to let doctors decide who can use that.” 

Regarding the sale of land to China, Miller said, “My biggest pet peeve, and the most stupid thing we do as a nation and a state, is to allow China to buy our farmland.”  He went on to say that he doesn’t think the nation should allow China access to the power grid, food supply, or proximity to military installations. “We can stop it as a state,” Miller said. “It needs to be nationwide, but we can at least stop it as a state.”

Miller concluded his talk by emphasizing, again, the importance of voting, and stumped for the GOP. “Rural Texas has got to carry the Republican party,” Miller said. “Y’all have got to turn out as many voters as you possibly can.”

The meeting then opened up to a question and answer period. Most of the questions were related to voting, with both candidates encouraging voters to hit the polls and reminding them to contact legislators with their concerns. Following was a meet-and-greet, where attendees were encouraged to take pictures with the representatives and ask any additional questions that weren’t answered during the general portion of the meeting.

Photos by Jan White | HCC

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HCHD decides on tax rate

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Houston County Hospital District LogoBy Jan White
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CROCKETT – At its called meeting on Tuesday, September 6, the Houston County Hospital District Board voted to keep the tax rate the same as last year, at $0.13 per $100, based on property valuations determined by the Houston County Appraisal District. 

After listening to several public comments during the Public Tax Rate Hearing, Board President Barbara Crowson closed the open session and dove directly into the called meeting agenda. 

“At our last meeting, we did declare our intent to set a rate for the 2023 Fiscal Year of $0.13. Do we have a motion?” The motion was immediately made and seconded, then opened for discussion. 

Arguments were heard on both sides of the rate issue, from those hoping to lower the rate to $0.11 and those who were determined to keep it at $0.13. Supporters of reducing the rate felt it was their duty to the taxpayers not to burden them with an increase. They also voiced concerns over how the previous finances were handled and questioned the need for what they feel are excess funds generated from the increased tax revenue. Those advocating the $0.13 rate see the additional funds as a safety net for unknown expenditures. They hope to maintain to meet current budget expenses and still leave room for contingencies such as roof repairs or replacement and negotiations with the current tenant, who wants to enter into service contract talks before renewing his lease to continue operating the hospital.    

Several members suggested that the opposing sides meet halfway and amend the motion to a tax rate of $0.12, but that agreement was not reached.

When it came time to vote for the tax rate of $0.13, Rhonda Brown, Harvey Bruner, Dina Pipes and Roy Langford voted against the proposal, while Pam Ainsworth, Carol Dawson, Debbie Kelly, Dr. John Stovall, and Crowson voted for, passing the motion by one vote. 

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Hay show deadlines approaching

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Hay Graphic

The 2022 Hay Show and Judging Contest sponsored by the Davy Crockett-Trinity Soil and Water Conservation District will be held Nov. 9 at the Porth Ag Arena in Crockett. 

Hay samples are now being taken and the deadline to submit hay samples is Sept. 30. Hay samples may be taken to the NRCS office at 1032 S 4th St in Crockett, the Houston County Extension Office, or the Trinity County Extension Office.

A sample consists of one (1) feed sack full of hay.  All entries must show physical evidence of having gone thru a mechanical baler. 

Fifty percent of the score will be on physical characteristics and appearance, and 50% will be on the chemical analysis.  Hay entered must have been produced in Houston or Trinity County or a producer who lives in Houston or Trinity County.

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