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Candidates throw their hats in the ring

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LocalElections STOCK

By Jan White
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HOUSTON COUNTY – According to the Elections Administrator, Cynthia Lum, the following candidates have announced their intent to run during the upcoming elections.

Information on the elections will be updated as it is received.

Houston County Hospital District has five positions open. The following candidates are:

•Position 1 – Incumbent Barbara Crowson, Kim Spellman, and Joe “Buddy” Clonts

•Position 3 – Incumbent Debbie Kelly is running unopposed

•Position 5 – Incumbent Roy Langford, Tami McCreight

•Position 7 -  Incumbent Harvey Bruner, Patricia Carter

•Position 9 – Incumbent Carol Dawson, Darrell Bennett

The City of Crockett also has several positions to fill. The two mayoral candidates are incumbent Dr. Ianthia Fisher and Connie Strban. Running for Precinct 1 Council members are Samantha Wiley, Dennis Ivey and Joe Don James. Former Precinct 1 Councilman Gene Caldwell, who now lives in Precinct 2, will face Incumbent Darrell Jones.

The Grapeland City Council members are considered ‘at large’, and voters can choose three of the candidates running for office. They are Tom Delong, Pip McGee, Paul Adamson, George R. Pearson, Velda (Parker) Green, and Greg Vandend.

Several Houston County School Districts will also hold elections. Kennard ISD candidates are ‘at large’, and voters may choose two of the three candidates who are running – Jared Currie, Ronnie Cole, and Brittani Womack.

Grapeland ISD has three positions open: Position 1 candidates are Brad Spisak and Travis Brown, Position 2 candidates are Twila Ibarra and T.C. Howard, and Position 3 candidates are Josh Goolsby and Cannon Vickers.

Latexo ISD has two positions open for its Board, but at this time, information was not available as to the names of those candidates.

Crockett ISD and Lovelady ISD have no opposing candidates for their Board Trustees.

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City council braces for elections

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LocalElections STOCK

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – “Seems that we are going to have a peculiar race on our hands,” is what councilman Gene Caldwell said at the opening of the Crockett City Council meeting held on Monday, March 6.

During the ‘Comments from Audience or Council’ portion of the session, Caldwell addressed the group present.

“As all of you know, I’m changing precincts because I moved, and we’ve got other folks running in Precinct One now. I wanted to just address a couple of things.”

He then proceeded to read from the code of fair campaign practices “so that everybody will be clear.”

The code lays out basic principles of what it calls ‘decency, honesty, and fair play that every candidate and political committee in this state has a moral obligation to observe and uphold.”

The code lists seven bullet points of fair conduct, such as limiting attacks on opponents to legitimate challenges, not defaming their character, not using prejudice based on race, sex, religion or national origin, not throwing out malicious or unfounded accusations, and not condoning unethical practices that undermine the system of free elections.

After Caldwell’s comments, Mayor Ianthia Fisher moved on to address the regular agenda items.

During his presentation of the police department report, Chief Clayton Smith indicated that the number of ‘scam’ calls in the community had increased. “We’ve taken several reports from the middle of last week up until today,” Smith stated. “These guys and girls are getting very creative with ways to scam people. A lot of the calls come from overseas, or they use a ‘spoofing’ app that may look like it’s my number calling or your number calling. Those numbers are very difficult to trace.” Smith warned residents to be alert and do their best to verify whether the call is legitimate.

Smith also presented the numbers from the department’s Annual Racial Profiling Report. As part of the profiling requirement, Smith gave a breakdown of individuals who were stopped for traffic violations:

755 were white males; 516 were white females

347 were African American males; 212 were African American females

21 were Asian/Pacific Islander males; ten were females

229 were Hispanic males; 92 were females

Two were Native American males; one was a female

There were no Middle Easterners stopped for violations

Crockett Fire Chief Jason Frizell reported that the department had 45 calls in January with no structure fires inside the city limits. In February, there were forty-five calls with one structure fire inside the city. Frizell said there were two civilian casualties – one from a vehicle accident and one from a structure fire.

Approval was given to appoint the mayor and city manager to represent the city on a community block grant which would fund sewer repairs near the railroad track and the town branch creek.

The council also awarded the bid for the public swimming pool concrete decking, fencing, and lighting to Shoemake. City Manager John Angersein reported that the engineers are still on schedule for a summer opening of the public pool.

Angersten also proposed that because of the time it took to transition old data to the new public utilities software, the council should waive late fees for the month of March. Typically customers have ten days to pay their bills, but the invoices were delayed. Angerstein said the new software would significantly improve online billing and payment options.

Due to the continued suspension of CEIDC activities, invoices for current bills were provided to council members. Although Councilman Caldwell questioned paying some accounts, such as Sirius XM, Fisher suggested they continue to approve items for now. “We don’t have a timeline as to when it’s going to start back up. I think it’s expedient that you keep everything functional.” Council voted to approve the payment of the bills received.

Another item of business regarding CEIDC was the lease agreement between Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and CEIDC for office space in the Tech Center at 1505 South Fourth Street. TWC accepted the CEIDC’s proposal last September but had not finalized the contract.

Fisher clarified that Texas Workforce Solutions (TWS) and the Texas Workforce Commission, while complementary, are not the same organization. City Manager John Angerstein stated that the proposal with TWC is unlike the contract with TWS. The TWC proposal is based on the percentage of square feet they would occupy within the building, bringing in around $2,400 a month. The city currently pays around $7,100 a month for the building, which includes the note payment, maintenance, and utilities. Angerstein reminded council members that the contract had not been completed and signed, so if they wanted to build some clauses to protect their interests, this could be done during negotiations.

While Councilman Mike Marsh and Caldwell voiced concerns over the contract’s length and the building’s availability if a better offer came in, others took a different approach. Councilman Darrell Jones said, “This is something that has been in negotiations for a long time. To me, something is better than nothing. If not, the city will still be paying out.”

After further discussion, Angerstein asked the council if they wanted him to proceed with negotiations, stating that the city would still have to approve the contract. Councilman Ernest Jackson suggested they finish negotiations with TWC and look at the proposal when it comes back to them.

“Right now, the income we’re getting for upkeep and maintenance is not sufficient. $2,400 or more would be very impactful to help meet obligations and upkeep. So I’m for moving on with it and finishing up negotiations of that contract,” he said.

Jackson then made a motion to move forward, with a second by Jones. When called for a vote, Jackson and Jones voted to continue negotiations, while Caldwell and Marsh voted against it. Due to the absence of Councilwoman Marquita Beasley, Fisher broke the tie by voting to move forward with the negotiations.

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Sheriffs honored at State Capitol

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Photo right: Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove (back row, left) poses for a photo with several fellow county sheriffs and State Reps. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) (front row, left) and Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), front row, far right. Courtesy photoPhoto right: Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove (back row, left) poses for a photo with several fellow county sheriffs and State Reps. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) (front row, left) and Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches), front row, far right. Courtesy photo 

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Texas House of Representatives and State Senators honored county sheriffs from all across the state in their opening sessions at the Capitol building in Austin. The day is recognized as “Sheriffs’ Association of Texas Day” in Austin.

The group met with the Sheriff’s Association of Texas board of directors to discuss issues and bills that will be presented to the House and Senate.

Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove, who was among the attendees, said, “It was good to see my friends who serve as sheriffs of other Texas counties. I was proud to represent the citizens of Houston County as your sheriff on this special occasion.”

A resolution passed through the House of Representatives to honor the day noted the historic standing of county sheriffs as officers of the law and elected officials.

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Garden Club visits Ruby Mize Azalea Garden

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Garden Club visits Ruby Mize gardens

By Jan White
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NACOGDOCHES – On Thursday, March 2, the Crockett Garden Club traveled to Nacogdoches to tour the Ruby Mize Gardens. The 11-acre park, established in 1997, consists of miles of winding trails created to show off over seven thousand azaleas, along with camellias, Japanese maples, and other flowering plants and shrubs.

For those considering visiting the gardens, there is no entry fee. Guided tours are available, but for adventurers who want to strike out on their own,  signs throughout the area describe the featured plants and design elements used in the garden beds.

The azalea garden is located south of the Johnson Coliseum on University Drive. Azalea season is from late March to early April, but many of the trees and shrubs are already in bloom, so make your plans accordingly so that you don’t miss out on this gorgeous display of nature.

Photo provided by Jodi Jones


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UIL Winners recognized at CISD Board meeting

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UIL Participants

From Staff Reports

CROCKETT – On Feb. 27, the Crockett Independent School Board recognized its Elementary UIL participants at its regular monthly meeting. Dr. Mecheal Abbs, Crockett Elementary School Principal, praised the coaches for their outstanding job and the students for their hard work.

Following is a list of the winners and their coaches:

•First Place Winners were the 5th Grade Chess Puzzle Team led by Coach K. Gibson and the 2nd Grade Math Team led by Coach Giles.

•There were no Second Place winners, but six teams took home Third Place honors - 5th Grade Art, led by Coach Barrett, 2nd Grade Chess Puzzle, led by Coach K. Gibson; 2nd Grade Music Memory; 5th Grade Music Memory and Number Sense, led by Coach Giles; and 5th Grade Spelling led by Coach Walker.

•In the individual medal category, two students placed First. There were two Second Place individual medal winners, five students won Third Place, and five won Fourth Place. There were six Fifth Place winners and four Sixth Place winners. Coach Purperhart had individual winners in Ready Writing, and Coach Steward had individual Second Grade winners that placed Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth in creative writing.

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