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Angerstein explains violation notices

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Crockett City HallBy Jan White
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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. 

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The Comeback Kid - Lexi Mayo overcomes predictions, odds

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Lexi and Whiskey

By Jan White
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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.”

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Community gathers for National Day of Prayer

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Charlana Kelly leads National Day of Prayer - JAN WHITE | HCCCharlana Kelly leads National Day of Prayer - JAN WHITE | HCC

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – Thursday, May 5, marked the 70th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer. Citizens of Crockett and surrounding areas met in the Community Room of Sunflower Bank to pray for the City and the Nation. 

The theme for the nationwide event is “Exalt the Lord Who Has Established Us” Colossians 2:6-7. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming the nation, our country’s leaders have continued the tradition. President Lincoln, in 1863 called for a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual national day of prayer. President Reagan, in 1988, signed an amendment that officially selected the first Thursday of every May as the National Day of Prayer.

Pastor Charlana Kelly of HCMA and Good Shepherd Fellowship Church gave the opening remarks, followed by local leaders and pastors who offered individual prayers for different areas in the community, state, and nation. Judge Jim Lovell led off the session by reading a Proclamation designating May 5 as the National Day of Prayer, then offered a prayer for our government and its leaders. Pastor Shane Sibley from Central Baptist Church, Pastor Tim Allen of First Christian Church, Jessica James, candidate for CISD, Tami Bruner, Community Ministry Leader, Pastor Johnie Wood, First Presbyterian Church, J. Barnes, Minister to Veterans, Pastor Tim Lowry, President of Desert Rock Entertainment prayed for families, churches, business, education, military, government, and media. Dennis Ivey, Pastor of Harvest Church, shared a few heartfelt words and closed the meeting with prayer.

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Parenting awareness highlight of court meeting

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Houston County Seal 1280x640By Jan White
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CROCKETT – At the May 10 meeting of the Houston County Commissioners Court, a representative for PADRES spoke on a community-based intervention outreach service recently offered in Houston County.

Vallie Cross, local PADRES Program Manager, explained the program to the commissioners. PADRES, which stands for Parenting Awareness and Rug Risk Education, is a program designed to try and reduce the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on families. An arm of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas, the program focuses on free parenting services for families expecting or having at least one child under the age of 6. The thirteen-week program educates parents on issues such as discipline, substance use, anger management, co-parent communication, child development, and more. The service can also supply diapers, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, and hygiene supplies and offers housing and utility deposit opportunities. The local program will be held in Groveton as a centralized location between Lukin and Houston County. Gas cards are available to help with transportation costs, and free childcare is also provided. 

Cross can be contacted at (936) 634-4081 for additional information.

In other business, commissioners voted to approve the salary for part-time equipment operator Bobby Tims and a 4% raise for the County Attorney’s legal assistant, Hernan Gonzales. The court accepted a grant award of $27,536 from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission for FY2022. Commissioners also voted to allow retail permit holders to sell fireworks to the public for the Jul 4, 2022 celebration. 

Additional agenda items included renewal of property and mobile equipment insurance package with the Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool, from Jul 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, and ratification of the terms of the new lease-purchase agreement for Precinct 2 to purchase a used Caterpillar Motorgrader.

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Unofficial results tallied for May 7 election

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Vote 005By Jan White and Chris Edwards
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HOUSTON COUNTY – The unofficial results are in for the May 7 special election. The May 7 election gives voters the opportunity to vote on proposed state constitutional amendments, as well as ballot decisions pertaining to school districts and other political subdivisions.

For this voting period, Houston County residents made their voices heard on two statewide constitutional proposals, as well as several city council and school board seats up for grabs.

In the race for Crockett City Council Precinct 5, incumbent Mike Marsh marginally retained his seat on the council with 91 votes. His opponent, Lynda Warfield, received 86 votes. 

In the Kennard ISD Board of Trustees election, incumbent Terry Pilkington was elected with 125 votes, and newcomer Angela Higbee by 113 votes, ousting incumbent Keith Cole who received 108 votes.

In the Crockett ISD race, District One incumbent, Ansel Bradshaw retained his seat with 100 votes over Gary Fitch at 52, and Jessica James at 51. Vying for the District Six position were newcomers TieAsia Tucker and Zenita Hamilton. Tucker won the race with 232 votes over Hamilton’s 198.

At the statewide level, two proposed constitutional amendments passed, overwhelmingly. The two measures will provide property tax relief to homeowners. 

Proposition one, which authorized the legislature to provide for the reduction of the amount of a limitation on the total amount of property taxes that may be imposed for general public school purposes on elderly and/or disabled taxpayers. Proposition two raises the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 starting this year.

Houston Countians voted “for” both propositions by large percentages, as with the statewide trend. According to the unofficial statewide results, 87% of voters voted “for” Proposition 1, and 85% in favor of Proposition 2.

The next opportunity for voters to make their voices heard at the polls comes May 24 with the runoff races. 

Several statewide races are slated, including attorney general and land commissioner, in both parties.

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