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Houston County News - Breakout

National celebration days in June

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By Jan White
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You’ve seen the proclamation hundreds of times. “Today is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day,” or “National Nail Polish Day,” or a Texas favorite, “National Brisket Day.” But how do we keep from missing out on these special days? Where do you find the list of these celebrations? A quick search will take you to the quintessential website: https://nationaltoday.com. Just a glance, and you’ll find an endless list of potential observances for each month. So what’s in store for June? Here’s a brief sampling of some national days you can look forward to.

June 2 – National Moonshine Day. Moonshine

Spencer, Wisconsin, December, 26, 2019  Jar of Ole Smoky Moonshine  Ole Smoky is a product of TennesseeThe word conjures up visions of illegal homemade liquor, Prohibition, fast cars, and makeshift stills in the Appalachian woods. The passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919 made criminals of both those who wanted to drink and the black marketeers who filled their needs - moonshiners and bootleggers. Under cover of moonlight, they distilled the illegal liquor and then delivered it. Legendary tales abound of bootleggers hauling moonshine in their souped-up cars, with extra interior room and heavy-duty shocks, running from authorities. When Prohibition was repealed and the need for bootleggers waned, drivers sought another outlet to meet their need for speed. North Carolina’s tradition of auto racing found its beginning in the garages of bootleggers and the roads between North Wilkesboro and Charlotte. NASCAR was born.
These days large distilleries, looking to exploit the nostalgic memories of the illicit drink, sell moonshine. But if you want liquor closer to the feel of Prohibition moonshine, look for craft whiskeys made by small companies or individuals.

June 13 – National Weed Your Garden Day

A woman weeds her hands in the gloves of a plant in the gardenAny true gardener knows that weeding is as essential to gardening as watering the plants or enriching the soil with fertilizers. Regular weeding keeps those nasty invaders from overwhelming your garden and depriving plants of nutrition and space. Why not use National Weed Your Garden Day to commit yourself to weed regularly. National Weed Your Garden Day can also be a day of community service. Offer to volunteer your time at the community garden or refresh planters in the downtown square. And if the thought of weeding overwhelms you, team up with a friend to make the job easier and quicker. Since pulling weeds can be challenging, once you’re done with the work, relax and treat yourself to a refreshing beverage while you enjoy your fresh, weed-free garden.

June 17 – National Flip-Flop Day

FLIP FLOPS websiteThe design of the modern-day flip-flop was inspired by the Japanese “zori.” After World War II, American soldiers returning from Japan brought the zori home as novelty items for loved ones. As they became adopted into American culture, colorful flip-flops made from rubber or plastic gained popularity with beachgoers and eventually gained popularity in the mainstream. These days, flip-flops are widely considered acceptable footwear for almost any occasion – even red-carpet events.

June 25 – National Catfish Day

CATFISH websiteFishermen nationwide will appreciate that June 25 has been dubbed National Catfish Day. Catfish get their name from the long barbels that hang on either side of their mouth, like cats’ whiskers. Catfish is one of the highest consumed fish species in America. Apart from its great taste, catfish farming has also led to a stable income for many fish farmers and provided a sustainable and environmentally friendly food source. If you don’t live near a lake or own a rod and reel, here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate National Catfish Day. 1. Eat catfish. Commemorate the day by eating catfish for one or more of your meals throughout the day. You can have it grilled, baked, or fried, in a salad or on a sandwich. Either way, it’s going to taste great. 2. Try a new catfish dish. Tap into your sense of adventure and give a new spin on your old favorites like pretzel-crusted baked catfish or catfish gumbo. Your taste buds will appreciate the variety 3. Visit a catfish farm. Get in on the action and learn all about these aquatic creatures’ life cycles and habits from the experts.

June 30 - National Meteor Watch Day

Why not wrap up the month of June by looking to the stars? And that doesn’t mean watching TikTok videos of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. June 30 is the night when stargazers will turn their eyes to the heavens in hopes of spotting the glow of a falling star. Millions of meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere daily, so your search will most likely be successful as long as it’s a clear night. Find a location far from the city lights- a state or national park would be perfect. Grab some friends, a blanket, some snacks, and get ready to be the lucky one that spots the first shooting star. And when you do, don’t forget to make a wish! You can also share your sky viewing adventures on social media using #NationalMeteorWatchDay.
Be sure and visit www.nationaltoday.com and find out what other national days you can celebrate.

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Gospel Bluegrass Festival entertains crowds

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By Jan White
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Chuck Duffin with Whitehouse HarmonyChuck Duffin with Whitehouse HarmonyGRAPELAND – On Memorial Day Weekend, musicians and fans flooded the grounds of Salmon Lake Park to attend the 25th anniversary of the Annual Gospel Bluegrass Festival.
The origin of bluegrass music dates to back to immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and England, who settled in remote areas of North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Their song reflected life in the hills and their music was referred to as ‘hillbilly” or “mountain music.”
Kentucky native, Bill Monroe, is generally considered the “father of bluegrass music,” but most believe that the classic bluegrass sound began with Earl Scruggs and his innovative three-finger-picking banjo style. When Scruggs teamed up with guitar and vocalist Lester Flatt, the duo became a major force introducing bluegrass music to America. In the 1960s, the concept of the “bluegrass festival” was first introduced. Movies and television featuring bluegrass music helped bring the genre out of obscurity. Today bluegrass music is performed around the world.

Officially known as the 25th Annual Floyd & Fannie Salmon Memorial Day Gospel Bluegrass Festival, this year’s event was hosted by David and Leah Powers. The festival featured performances by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, The Purple Hulls, Blake Brothers, The Isaacs, White House Harmony, The Marksmen, The Herrins, The Right Direction, The Sonja Barber Band, Tin Top Road and a host of other popular bluegrass artists. The music-filled weekend also featured workshops, Sunday morning message and worship, food and souvenir tables, raffles, giveaways, and a fan favorite – the golf cart parade.

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June proclaimed as ‘Elder Abuse Awareness Month’

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elder abuse graphicBy Jan White
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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.

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Capital requests top council agenda

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Crockett City HallBy Jan White
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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. 

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Court canvasses election results

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Vote Another GraphicBy Jan White
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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. 

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