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  • Groveton takes second at 20-2A district meet

    IMG 2644LARRY LAMB | HCC Groveton’s Haden Lee competes in the 800-meter run at the District 20-2A Track Meet in Centerville.

    By Larry Lamb
    Polk County Publishing

    CENTERVILLE — The Groveton Indians pulled off a second-place finish at the District 20-2A track meet, even though the competition required an extra day to complete due to inclement weather.

    Groveton tallied 135.5 points, just behind the Centerville Tigers, who racked up 181 points to claim the title. The Lovelady Lions were hot on the Indians’ heels with 134 points, followed by Grapeland (66), Jewett Leon (46.5), Latexo (30) and Slocum (0.

    Field events, running prelims and 3200-meter races took place April 5 at Tiger Stadium. Athletes returned Thursday for the running finals, but just over an hour into the session threatening weather prompted meet officials to call a 30-minute lightning delay. Subsequent threatening weather in the area forced the delay to be extended and eventually the remaining six events were postponed until Friday morning.

    District 20-2A Track Meet

    April 5-9

    Varsity Boys

    Team Standings: 1, Centerville 181. 2, Groveton, 135.5. 3, Lovelady, 134. 4, Grapeland 66. 5, Jewett Leon 46.5. 6, Latexo 30. 7. Slocum 0.

    100 dash

    Fifth, Phoenix Bowman, Groveton, 11.57.

    400 dash

    Fifth, James Williams, Groveton, 56.68.6, Halston French, Centerville, 56.75.

    1600 run

    Second, Jarrett Loftin, Groveton, 5:21.59; sixth, Caden Alexander, Groveton, 5:26.56.

    3200 run

    Second, Jarrett Loftin, Groveton, 11:52; fifth, Caden Alexander, Groveton, 12:07.

    110 hurdles

    Fourth, King Jones, Groveton, 18.56; fifth, Ian Utz, Groveton, 19.18.

    300 hurdles

    Fourth, King Jones, Groveton, 45.37. 5, Tuff Reynolds, Groveton, 46.34.

    4x100 relay

    Third, Groveton (Phoenix Bowman, Byron Thomas, David Ayala, Malachi Stewart), 45.31. 4.

    4x200 relay

    Second, Groveton (Navid Pat, Bryon Thomas, David Ayala, Malachi Stewart), 1:36.88.

    4x400 relay

    Third, Groveton (David Ayala, Navid Pat, Chase Blair, Haden Lee), 3:47.52.

    Long Jump

    Sixth, James Williams, Groveton, 17-9 ¾.

    Shot put

    First, Tyler Allen, Groveton, 40-2.

    Discus

    Third, Tyler Allen, Groveton, 99-10 ½.

    Triple jump

    Third, Chase Blair, Groveton, 37-2 ½; fourth, Navid Pat, Groveton, 37-1; fifth, James Williams, Groveton, 36-11 ½.

    High jump

    Fourth, Malachi Stewart, Groveton, 5-8; fifth, Chase Vycital, Groveton, 5-6.

    Pole vault

    Second, Dalton Chandler, Groveton, 10-0; third, Haden Lee, Groveton, 9-0.

  • Hanging it up (VIDEO)

    122420 bell 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS Joe Warner Bell talks about his tenure as County Attorney for Trinity County. His last day in office is Dec. 31.

    Trinity County attorney retiring after 43 years

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — When Joe Warner Bell first took office as Trinity County Attorney, cases were entered on typewriters, and the only places to buy liquor in the area was Houston, Huntsville and even Groveton.

    The “mostly” Trinity County native has been County attorney 43 years, 3 months 16 days and 2 hours, give or take. He got into the position because he was appointed; Bell was in private practice in Trinity for six years prior to taking the county job.

    “I was in general practice, which means I did anything that came my way, which is pretty much what I do now,” he said.

    When the 258th Judicial District was created, they needed to fill three positions — district attorney, district judge and county attorney, and Bell got the nod.

    He kept with it, though, for the simplest of reasons — it was a steady paycheck.

    “It didn’t have a lot of benefits at the time, but I felt I could do more here than I could (in private practice),” he said.

    Was appointed to the position first, then had been running for reelection since then.

    In addition to the changes in liquor sales and technology, the courthouse has changed, including his office location, which was moved six or seven times over the course of his career.

    Bell said the population of the county has doubled, and the jail, which has room for seven people and was almost never full, is full now almost all the time, with up to 40 inmates at a time.

    The most contentious commissioners’ court Bell said he has advised was the first one he served with, since it had two commissioners who were related and on opposite sides of the political spectrum, another development that is mirrored in politics today.

    Video interview with Joe Bell

    “There was one commissioner that I had prosecuted three times for DWI,” Bell said. “In fact, on the filing day for election, he was sitting in jail.”

    The things his office has had to deal with over the years has been varied, but one set of cases in particular stands out, and echoes some of the issues of today: election fraud.

    “We had some guys that … liked to play the edge,” Bell said. “At that time you had to have an excuse to vote absentee — either you were elderly or were going to be out of town. (Apparently) there were many people who had never left Trinity County in their lives were going to be out of town on election day.”

    Bell said there were ballots with forged signatures on them, and even a few of them were marked for people who were in nursing homes. Several elderly women voted twice; they had voted early, but were hauled to the polls on election day and were made to vote again.

    “I didn’t grasp the depth of the problem until I got into office,” he said. “People have said that there’s nothing wrong with mail-in voting; I voted mail-in one time and it got lost. My mother, who was over 65, voted, and her vote was tossed out because they said she was a crazy old woman. What it was, the person she voted for, they didn’t want that vote counted.”

    The more heartbreaking cases Bell said he has dealt with involves child abuse, especially when, as it happened in one case, involves the parents and stepparents. However, he said that the most rewarding part of the job was finding homes for neglected and abused children, and getting women away from abusive partners.

    Also, when Bell took office, there was a civil suit against the county over county districts, which were said to have disenfranchised African American voters; Bell got the suit delayed until new district lines could be drawn, which led to the suit being dropped.

    Bell said his position is to act as the attorney for the county, but there’s a difference between his office and district attorneys: the DA prosecutes felonies, and everything else falls under the purview of the county, except child support which goes to the attorney general.

    122420 bell 2COURTESY PHOTO Trinity County Attorney Joe Warner Bell is presented with a plaque of appreciation by representatives of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments on Thursday. Bell has been a member of the DETCOG board for 42 ½ years, since July 1, 1978, which DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt described as “some kind of record.

    “Also, we’re in charge of eminent domain, when the government comes to you and tells you they’re going to take your land,” he said. “We’ve only done that a couple of times; most landowners don’t mind giving up a little strip of land to make roads better or fix the bridges.”

    Bell said his office represents the state in child protective services cases, as well as adult protective services cases.

    “We’ve had a lot of fun,” Bell said. “I’m going to rest a bit, but I still have some work to do for the county. They’ve contracted me to do any redistricting (because of the 2020 Census).”

    Bell said that the bulk of his job has been answering questions, then, after a long chuckle, Bell said of his successor, Colton Hay: “Be ready for it, it’s coming.”

  • New restaurant takes up old haunt

    032521 restaurant 1PHILLIP SCHMITTEN | TCNS CORRESPONDENT Maria Casas prepares some pico de gallo for the arriving customers.

    By Philip Schmitten
    TCNS correspondent

    GROVETON — Very recently a new restaurant opened in Groveton; Habaneros is the name, and you can find it next door to Los Jalapenos Restaurant next to B&B Grocery.

    The restaurant, formerly known as Wagon Wheel has some new owners, Edgar and Lori Abshire, and they serve up some excellent Tex-Mex food.

    Manager and co-owner Lori Abshire sends out a big thank you to the residents of Groveton, who have been so wonderful with their support and patience while the new eatery gets settled.

    “The folks here have been absolutely wonderful to us,” Lori said. “We plan on staying as long as Groveton will have us.”

    The Abshires have been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years and bring their excellent venue to Groveton.

    “We love the town and the people are so very friendly,” Lori said.

    They offer seating for up to 70 and have a party room for those special occasions. Lori Abshire wants to thank Groveton for making them feel so welcome and look forward to many years of service.

    “We have applied for a liquor license and are look forward to adding Margaritas to our menu real soon,” she said. “We are currently looking for local help as of now all of our staff comes from Lufkin and we would really like to hire some local talent.”

    So, if you are in the mood for some fantastic Tex-Mex, look no further than Habaneros.

  • Remembering Groveton Mayor Byron Richards

    011421 obit richardsCOURTESY PHOTO Byron Allen Richards

    June 12, 1941 - Jan. 5, 2021

    Byron Allen Richards died and went to his eternal home to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus, on Jan. 5, 2021, in Lufkin, at the age of 79 years. He was born in Houston on June 12, 1941, to Ransom Allen Richards and Marjorie Nell Singletary Richards.

    Byron was a loving husband, father, brother and grandfather. He worked and retired from banking after more than 40 years of service, ending his career at First Bank of Groveton when he retired in 2006. Afterwards, he was appointed as Mayor of Groveton, where he served for 10 years until his death. He loved Groveton and the surrounding communities. During his term as Mayor, he oversaw multiple projects for the city, including improvements to the community water and sewer system, positioning the City of Groveton for long-term viability. He was most proud of the project he worked on for more than six years — restoring downtown Groveton. He worked diligently in applying for numerous grants to fund the renovation. Under his leadership, the city has been able to invest more than $50 million into its infrastructure. He loved to help people and recently answered the call to become a volunteer chaplain. Byron served as the assistant chaplain of CHI St. Luke’s Health Care for two years and enjoyed visiting with patients twice a week every week. He never missed a day. Byron was a past member of Lion’s Club and was voted citizen of the year during 2019-2020. He also enjoyed motorcycles, especially Harley Davidsons. He liked going on motorcycle trips and when he wasn’t tinkering with that then his other “pride and joy” was his classic Ford truck.

    Byron is preceded in death by his parents, Ransom Richards and Marjorie Richards; and his brother, Gary Neil Richards. His survivors include his loving wife of 38 years, Sandra Richards; of Groveton; his sons, Gregory A. Richards and wife, Kimberly Richards, of Kerrville, and Ty Wenglar, and wife, Cathy, of Austin; daughters, Gina Diane Hollis and husband, Ron Hollis, of Austin, and Tia McLaughlin and husband, Grant McLaughlin, of Lovelady; his grandchildren, Macy, Alex, Emily, Mikinna, Micheala, Jonah, Brook Elizabeth, Jaxson, John Paul, Zohe Marie, Vivian, Reagan, and Liam; and a host of other relatives and friends.

    Celebration of life services will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at Pennington Baptist Church in Pennington, with the Rev. Bud Magee officiating and the Rev. Drew Scott assisting. The family understands that friends may not want to attend the celebration of life due to concerns over the spread of COVID. Friends are welcome to send their fondest memories, stories or prayers by emailing them to Bryon's son, Greg, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    In lieu of flowers, the family invites friends to purchase a commemorative paver for the Groveton downtown sidewalk. Please contact City Secretary Donna Dial for details.

    Please share your memories with the family and sign our online guestbook by visiting www.grovetonfuneralhome.com

  • Saving Children

    041521 child abuse 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS County officials, area residents and representatives of child agencies release balloons on Thursday to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

    Area agencies show support during Child Abuse Prevention Month
     
    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Children are the country’s most valuable resource, and deserve all the support and protection they can get.

    Representatives from Kalin’s Center, the Groveton Police Department, the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office, CASA and numerous county officers marked the occasion on Thursday with information, a flag raising, and a balloon launch.

    Kalin’s Center Executive Director Angela Cross said that across Houston and Trinity counties, there are more than 260 children in foster care for reasons dealing with sexual and physical abuse and neglectful supervision.

    Cross said it takes a team to deal with child abuse.

    “It starts with law enforcement, which usually gets the calls and do the investigations; Child Protective Services investigates, places children and does follow-up care,” she said. “The school usually make the initial reports, so thank a teacher.”

    Team members also include Kalin’s Center, which works with all agencies to make sure no child falls through the cracks; therapists who work with the children to help them deal with the trauma; medical staff who take care of physical maladies; prosecutors and judges make decision and punish offenders; CASA sees children through the courts as their advocates; Child Welfare boards provide for the children in foster care; foster families who care for children; and the community for its support of all these agencies.

    “We need to pray for our children,” she said. “It’s important for them in this day and time.”

  • Six file for two council seats

    N1411P33001CFILE PHOTO

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — The candidates seeking a position on the Groveton City Council each feel there is much more that can be done to make the city a better place.

    On May 1, Groveton residents will go to the polls to pick a mayor and two council members; early voting began Monday.

    One candidate, however, Mark Taylor, is withdrawing from the race for family reasons, and if elected, will not be able to serve, saying he would not be able to devote the proper amount of time.

    For the remaining candidates, infrastructure is key.

    Autumn Dial

    Community involvement is a major component of Autumn Dial’s candidacy, that and a belief that the town has seen better days, and can once again.

    “My family was on City Council in the ‘90s, and I have a little buzz for politics and want to give something back to the community,” she said. “It’s time for the next generation to get involved.”

    Dial said she has worked for the Nacogdoches Housing Authority for six years, worked in low-income housing and as a police dispatcher, and her dealings with people in all walks of life makes it easier to relate.

    “I’d like to see new businesses come to town, and more people get involved cleaning up of the local areas,” she said. “I remember riding the back roads with my grandparents and all the properties were pretty. We don’t have that now. The homes have gone to pot, and I want to see that come back. I’m proud of where I’ve come from.”

    Dial said other areas of concern include better pay for city workers, especially those in law enforcement.

    Philip Schmitten

    The former Air Force recruit Phillip Schmitten said that although he is not a Groveton native, he got here as quick as I could.

    Schmitten has lived in town seven years, and finds it to be a wonderful retirement community.

    “I love the people that live here, and I think there are some things that need addressing to make better,” he said. “We need things for the kids to do, so I would like to focus on creating a city park. The roads need some serious attention, as well as our water system.”

    Schmitten said he spent 21 years in the Air Force as combat photojournalist, and ran squads of men in battle conditions, which gave him leadership experience. Additionally, he learned about caring for other people while working as a special education teacher, as well as serving as president of the Groveton Lions Club. He also served two years as vice president of the Trinity County Chamber of Commerce.

    Robert Smith

    As one of the few incumbents running for re-election, Robert Smith said he wants to focus on continued improvement on all standards — neatness, the city’s water system and its streets.

    “I’m running because I’m interested in the city, and I want to continue improving the city,” he said. “I’ve been on the council three years. I look to serve.”

    The 1967 Groveton High School graduate said he brings experience, integrity and honesty to the table. That, combined with 26 years of work at the Lufkin Abitibi paper mill, and 16 years at the Diboll correctional facility, gives him the knowledge to serve the city well.

    “I’ve learned so much, such as we work on a budget,” he said. “People want this and that, but we have to follow that budget.”

    Chris McFarland

    Chris McFarland said he has a lifetime of experience in Groveton, which gives him a leg up on what needs the city has.

    “I have 52 years of living experience in Groveton, and I know everything there is to know about the town,” he said. “I’m tired of the way things are — not happy with the status quo. The dirt streets are a problem, and I think no one is getting adequate representation for the tax money they pay.

    “It’s ridiculous we don’t have a better place to live,” he said. “We should have decent roads and adequate law enforcement. This is messed up. Our city has been run into the ground for the last 50 years.”

    McFarland said he worked for TxDOT for 12 years and know how roads should be built, so he said he wants to focus on streets, along with the water system, emergency preparedness and “get the employees situation straightened out so they can do their work without having their hands tied.”

    “I’ve been met with huge opposition because I want to build streets out of concrete; it would be easy to do, and we can make our own cement and use our own materials,” he said. “I’ve been told it’s too expensive, but it’s not.”

    Dwane Alsbrooks

    “We’ve got a lot of problems with city streets and our water, and possibly I can bring some knowledge to the table and help the situation out,” said candidate Dwane Alsbrooks.

    Alsbrooks said he wants to focus on streets and the water and sewer system — all city infrastructure.

    He said that his 30 years of road-building experience, and having been in business for 30-plus years, gives him the background to not waste the tax dollars the city has, and fix the maintenance that’s been done on the streets, which he said has been done wrong.

    •Early voting began Monday, April 19, at Groveton City Hall, 115 W. Front St., and will end Tuesday, April 27. Polls on May 1 will open at 7 a.m.

  • Trinity County approves contract with Groveton EMS

    trinityFILE PHOTO - Trinity County courthouse

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners Court now has a new contract with Groveton EMS for ambulance services, but not without some discussion as to the nature of the $1,500 monthly payment.

    While both the county and Groveton EMS agree that ambulance service is needed, the county on Nov. 10 approved a $1,500 monthly stipend, while the EMS service sought a contract that was based on a fee for services.

    Grover Worsham, who owned the service and sold it to current owner David Robison, said he understood Robison’s position, but the real issue was getting the ambulances to run.

    Robison initially asked for the contract to read fee for services as it would benefit the organization in the long run; his argument was that the language made the difference between a vendor relationship and a dependent relationship. However, County Judge Doug Page said the contract will read subsidy based on advice from County Attorney Joe Warner Bell.

    In the end, both sides agreed that it would be best to end the negotiations and approve the contract. The previous contract expired in December 2019. This contract will last seven years with a 90-day right of termination.

    In other business, the county:

    • canvassed the county votes from the Nov. 3 General Election;
    • approved $332,106 from the October check register;
    • approved a budget amendment moving $7,952 into the general fund;
    • approved issuing a county credit card to Sheriff Woody Wallace;
    • approved disbursing Family Protection Fee funds to three county agencies;
    • approved the sale of surplus equipment;
    • approved bids for the sale of tax resale properties from the County Appraisal District; and
    • approved a resolution authorizing $35,000 in county funds as part of a Community Development Block Grant, a project sponsored by the Deep East Texas Council of Government, for the improvement of regional radio communications infrastructure.
  • Trinity County Basketball Score Roundup

    121720 bkb 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity Tiger Terius Maxie (No. 22 white) goes over a Lovelady defender during the team’s Dec. 8 matchup, which Trinity won 59-51.

    BOYS BASKETBALL

    Trinity

    Dec. 12 vs. Alpha Omega, 68-53 loss.

    Dec. 8 vs. Lovelady, 59-51 win.

    Groveton

    Dec. 11 vs. Hemphill, 56-35 loss.

    Centerville

    No scores reported

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 11 vs. Colmesneil, 58-25 loss

    Dec. 8 vs. Zavalla, 45-36 win

     

    121720 bkb 3COURTESY PHOTO A host of Groveton Lady Indians go for the ball during the team’s win over Lovelady on Friday.

    GIRLS BASKETBALL

    Trinity

    Dec. 11 vs. Tarkington, 55-44 loss.

    Dec. 8 vs. Corrigan-Camden, 64-31 win.

    Groveton

    No scores reported.

    Centerville

    No scores reported

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 11 vs. Kennard, 36-21 win.

    Dec. 8 vs. Neches, 62-15 loss.

  • Trinity County Fair set to kick off

    FAIRTRINITY COUNTY FAIR LOGO

    Special to the News-Standard

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show is slated for the third week in March in Groveton at the County Fairgrounds.

    It all starts Tuesday, March 16.

    The Fair will be a little different this year because of masking and social distancing requirements; board members decided to spread the show out over more days to eliminate having so many people in the barn at the same time.

    Patrons also are requested to wear masks. Additionally, there will be no pet show this year.

    Despite the changes, there will be a host of animals and student projects to see and a limited concession stand will offer refreshments.

    Students from 4-H and FFA from Apple Springs, Centerville, Groveton, and Trinity schools are expected to compete.

    Awards will be given at the conclusion of each show.

    All buyers are welcome, and add-ons will be accepted.

    There will be an online auction at Wal-Lee Auction Co. Inc. Online bidding starts March 15 at walleeauctioncompany.com.

    For information, call Show Secretary Laura Worsham Anderson at (936) 465-0110 or President Bill Wagner at (713) 501-6733.

    Schedule of Events

    Wednesday, March 17

    Shop projects should be entered between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. but will be accepted up till 5 p.m. for the sale. Judging will start at 2 p.m.

    8-10 a.m. Fryers and broilers check-in

    11 a.m. Broiler show at

    1 p.m. Fryer show

    Commercial Heifer test and record book due at 4:30 p.m. at the Groveton High School Ag Building

    Thursday, March 18

    7:30 a.m. Steer sift begins

    8-10 a.m. Commercial heifers, lambs, and steers check-in

    11 a.m. Heifer show

    1 p.m. Lamb show

    3 p.m. Steer show

    Friday, March 19

    8-10 a.m. Goats and hogs check-in

    2 p.m. Goat show

    5 p.m. Hog show

    Saturday, March 20

    5 p.m. Online/live auction begins at 5 p.m. starting with shop projects and the animal projects.

    Only the Grand Champion and Reserve Champions will walk at the auction. All projects will be sold.

  • Trinity County gets pushback

    CountysealFILE PHOTO Trinity County seal

    Concern about contract for vehicles results in argument, no action

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Concerns raised by the Trinity County Treasurer over a contract for Sheriff’s Office vehicles with Enterprise Fleet two weeks ago led to a battle between elected officials on March 23.

    It also led to Sheriff Woody Wallace asserting his sole authority over the Sheriff’s Office, saying he was the only one to decide what vehicles he and his deputies will drive, and that the Commissioners Court’s only responsibilities were to provide vehicle replacements and approve finances.

    He also said the court has been less than supportive in the matter.

    Wallace also cautioned Treasurer Bob Dockens about meddling in areas that are not of his concern, saying that according to the State Constitution, that was a crime.

    “These people in this room, they elected me sheriff,” Wallace said before a packed courtroom. “They did not elect Bob (Dockens) sheriff. It’s my job as sheriff to operate this department.

    “My authority is granted by the constitution as to what I can and cannot do. when one elected official interferes with another elected official he has committed a crime for trying to influence another office. You cannot do it.

    Commissioner Neal Smith said he put the item on the agenda today because questions have been raised over the last month regarding the contract, and that Wallace brought the contract forward because no one could not buy vehicles as the manufacturers had shut down production.

    He also said there is no one on the court more supportive of the department; he said that everything Wallace has asked for he has gotten, and that day’s discussion, and another item to purchase vehicles outright, should indicate that.

    Addressing the meeting, which was moved to the grand courtroom because of the crowd, Dockens said that at a Commissioners Court meeting two weeks ago, he brought up concerns after he was asked by the auditor to take a look at the contract, basically regarding the interest rate being charged and actual vehicle ownership.

    Dockens also said he was told by Wallace at the last meeting that if he could find some vehicles, he should; Wallace interrupted, saying he was being facetious.

    However, Dockens said he talked with several dealers in the area that had vehicles ready to go.

    “All I was doing was exploring if there were other places that had vehicles ready, because if we can buy them then let’s do that,” Dockens said.

    Wallace disputed that account, saying the information he received from the same dealers was the vehicles were 90 days out. He also was adamant about being the only one to run his department; saying the Sheriff decides what the Sheriff’s Department drives.

    Dockens said he only got involved because he was asked to look into it and because his office is in charge of risk management.

    “I have a problem with one man getting you to cancel a contract that we’ve already signed,” Wallace said. “I have a problem with anyone getting involved; this is between me and this court.

    “The commissioners can only tell me what I can spend,” Wallace said. “They cannot tell me what I can or cannot drive. The people of the county deserve officers that operate in safe vehicles that are not worn out or subject to crash. It’s a known fact that in the automotive world that vehicles wear out at 150,000 miles. We operate vehicles at 120 mph every day.”

    County Attorney Colton Hay said he was asked to review the contract by Dockens, and to “get ahead of” some misinformation provided by Dockens, he did the review.

    Hay said he thought the contract was standard and a good deal, and since the contract has been signed, work has been done by Enterprise.

    “If we back out of this contract because Dockens has cold feet, even though he was not in on the contract from the beginning, that could potentially cost us everything they’ve spent without any of the benefits,” Hay said. “I urge you to remember you agreed to it, and nothing’s changed except one person got involved that wasn’t in on it at the beginning and didn’t understand it all because it was not his department.

    “I don’t think this is too good to be true,” Hay said.

    Commissioner Tommy Park, a former law enforcement officer, said he took things upon himself to find answers for the questions the court and treasurer had, and then relayed those answers to everyone concerned.

    Smith said that no action was needed on his agenda item as he withdrew his objections; however, he said that in the future, there will be no votes whatsoever until everything is understood by the court.

  • Trinity County now papers boats

    031821 boatsTONY FARKAS | TCNS Nancy Due Shanafelt, Trinity County tax assessor/collector, goes through paperwork and fee schedules regarding boat registration, which is a service the county will begin providing residents.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Trinity County now has the ability to provide titles and registrations for all your boating needs.

    County Tax Assessor/Collector Nancy Due Shanafelt said the county has gotten all necessary approvals and will now register and title boats and motors in the county. Previously, boat owners had to go to Lufkin or elsewhere to have that done.

    “We have our login information, we have our forms printed out, and we even have the people waiting to register their boats,” she said. “But, we’re waiting on the stickers and supplies to be sent here from the state.”

    Shanafelt said registration is required for any boat to be on a Texas waterway. The county will start registrations no later than April 1, but only in Groveton; the Trinity annex will be able to do registrations once the bugs are ironed out.

    “I campaigned on staying open for lunch, which we’re on our second week of that; taking credit cards, which has been a hit; and the third was boat registration,” she said.

    Shanafelt said that this will be the first time the county will provide the service.

    “Anything for the people,” she said. “We can keep them here, and make a little money for the county.”

    Registration fees are based on the length of the craft, varying from $32 for boats 16 feet or smaller, and $53 for craft from 16 to 26 feet; Shanafelt said the $32 fee will be the most common.

    Additional fees include $22 for a replacement sticker, and $27 for a title.

    “I think we have 1,300 boats in Trinity County, and they need to be registered every two years,” she said. “There’s a lot to it, but it’s a great service for the people of the county.”

  • Trinity County Officials take county to task on pay scales

    CountysealFILE PHOTO Trinity County Seal

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Trinity County Commissioners’ Court on March 23 heard threats of lawsuits regarding decisions on pay raises.

    County Clerk Shasta Bergman told the court that there is a pay disparity between the employees of female elected officials and that of male elected officials, and she, by submitting several requests for raises, was addressing the problem.

    Of the four requests that were submitted, three were for Bergman’s employees; one for an additional $2.78 on a salary of $10.92 per hour, one for an additional $3.22 on the chief deputy’s salary of $11.20 per hour, and the last for an additional $1 on a salary of $10.50 per hour.

    Bergman told the funds for the raises would be taken from her department’s Records Management account, and not from the general fund, which would not affect county income or tax dollars because the funds came from fees charged for record-keeping.

    She also said those funds can only be used in her office, and mostly for salaries.

    However, Commissioner Mike Loftin said during the budget season last year that the court decided there would be no raises, as the county needed to be frugal, despite being told by Bergman that the raises will not affect the county budget.

    Commissioner Neal Smith said that the county attempted to look at all departments equally, and had the pay scales within pennies of each other.

    “You can’t starve people out of a job,” Bergman said. “You are setting yourself up for trouble.”

    Sheriff Woody Wallace said the county needed to be mindful of the legal ramifications of its decisions, saying also that he was “sick and tired” of his deputies having to work second jobs to feed their children.

    “We need to look at this before we find ourselves in a class action lawsuit,” he said.

    Loftin insisted that he understands the plight of the employees, but said the idea was to wait until this year’s budget season to determine what money was available; Bergman again said that the funds came from a different source than tax dollars.

    Commissioner Steven Truss said that if the court approved the raises, then all departments will be seeking raises.

    Commissioner Tommy Park made the motion to approve the raises, which had to be seconded by County Judge Doug Page. The end result, though, was that Smith, Loftin and Truss voted against the raises.

    Bergman told commissioners then that she will present the raises in the same manner until they are approved, or they are handled through legal means.

    In other business, the county:

    • approved the appointment of Stacye Tullos as Trinity County Extension Agent-Ag and Natural Resources;
    • proclaimed the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month;
    • discussed billing from Groveton EMS regarding visits to inmates; and
    • recognized the county’s constables for taking training regarding the state Open Meetings and Public Information acts.
  • Trinity County reverses stand

    042221 countyTONY FARKAS | TCNS County Judge Doug Page is surrounded by SAAFE House members Rana Wingo, Tracy Szymczak and Renee Murphy as the Trinity County Commissioners’ Court proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 23.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — With the exception of one commissioner, the Trinity County Commissioners’ Court approved personnel changes — including pay raises — at its Tuesday meeting.

    After a raucous meeting on March 23, the commission denied approval of any personnel action forms because they contained pay raises.

    Commissioner Mike Loftin said at the time that during the budget season last year, the court decided there would be no raises, as the county needed to be frugal.

    At the April 13 meeting, Loftin questioned the source of the raises, noting that none will increase the bottom line of department budgets.

    “As long as the budget’s not changing, it is OK,” Loftin said. “We face something we’ve never faced because of COVID — people lost their jobs — and that was the concern that I had. We didn’t know how much tax revenue we would be gaining, and we didn’t need to be eating up our savings.”

    He also said he found out that tax collections are very close to last year’s levels.

    Commissioner Neal Smith said that now is not the time to be giving raises.

    “Since I’ve been on the court, we’ve given raises ever year except last year,” he said. “Now, we’re jumping around and giving this one a little, and that one a little, and that’s not fair, and every month they’re coming in for more and more.”

    Smith said the requests will start coming in from all departments requesting raises, and while he is not against paying employees more, he is against approving raises at this time.

    Commissioner Tommy Park made the motion to approve, which was seconded by Loftin. Smith was the only commissioner voting against the measure.

    Commissioner Steven Truss said that regardless of the outcome of the vote, there needed to be some organization regarding pay raises across the board, suggesting there be a scale instituted, much like there is at the state level.

    Smith agreed, saying that he is aware that some starting employees are hired making more that people who have been with the county for 30 years or more, and that pay needs to be fair.

    “I’m not against people making more money, but we need to be equal about this,” he said.

    The court agreed, and approved the payment of $5,000 for an outside firm to conduct an employee compensation study, which will also provide suggestions for a scale as well as determine how employees’ salaries stack up to state averages.

    In other business, the county:

    • proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Trinity County;
    • proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month;
    • approved a budget amendment moving funds into vehicle maintenance after the city received insurance money to fix the wrecked Sheriff’s Department vehicle;
    • approved a measure allowing the county to hire for a cleanup of phone and IT cables and the addition of three wifi access points in the County Annex;
    • approved closing a bank account the county no longer used;
    • approved hiring a part-time clerk to hand filing and processing of notices for nuisance abatements;
    • approved the purchase of several used vehicles from the Texas Forest Service;
    • approved a road use agreement for Precinct 1; and
    • approved a replat of lots on Merrywood Drive
  • Trinity County student headed to state track

    050621 kayla mott 3COURTESY PHOTO Centerville Bulldog runner Kayla Mott will be running the 100-meter hurdles at Mike Myers stadium in Austin on May 8 after she qualified at regionals with a second-place finish and a time of 16.82. Kayla also placed fourth in the 300 meter with a time of 52.95 at the regional track meet.

    TCNS staff

    Of the four schools in Trinity County, Centerville has the only athlete that will travel to the state meet this weekend in Austin.

    Groveton had plenty of athletes participate, but none made the cut for the state invite.

    However, plenty of athletes from all schools set personal and season records for themselves.

    Trinity

    Region 3 3A track meet

    April 23-27

    Girls

    Pole vault

    Fifth, Shelby Walters, 9-00 (personal record)

    High Jump

    11th, Shaniya English, 4-08 (season record)

    Groveton

    Region 3 2A track meet

    April 24-26

    Palestine

    Boys

    800 meters

    Ninth, Hayden Lee, 2:13.40, (personal record)

    1600 meters

    15th, Jarrett Loftin, 5:25.05, (personal record)

    3200 meters

    Ninth, Jarrett Loftin, 11:39.12, (personal record)

    300-meter hurdles

    Ninth, 12 King Jones, 43.47, (personal record)

    4x400-meter relay

    16th, David Ayala, Navid Pat, Chase Blair, Hayden Lee, 3:55.71

    Shot put

    Sixth, Tyler Allen, 42-03 (personal record)

    High jump

    Fifth, Malachi Stewart, 6-00 (personal record)

    Pole vault

    10th (tie), Hayden Lee, 10-00 (season record); Daiton Chandler, 10-00 (personal record)

    Girls

    1600 meters

    Eighth, Caitlyn Antley, 6:09.28 (season record)

    4x100 relay

    Seventh, Kaylee McCrory, Maicey Smith, Emma Alexander, Breanna McQueen, 52.46,

    4x200 relay

    Fourth, Kaylee McCrory, Maicey Smith, Emma Alexander, Breanna McQueen, 1:50.34

    Shot put

    Eighth, Canaan Dillard, 31-05 (personal record)

    Discus

    11th, Stacy Rojo, 84-01 (personal record)

    Long jump

    14th, Breanna McQueen, 14-05 (personal record)

    Apple Springs

    Region 4 1A track meet

    April 23-27

    League City

    Boys

    Long Jump

    14th, Sydney Williams, 12-08 (personal record)

    Centerville

    Region 4 1A track meet

    April 23-27

    League City

    Girls

    100-meter hurdles

    Second, Kayla Mott, 16.82, (personal record)

    300-meter hurdles

    Fourth, Kayla Mott, 52.95, (personal record)

  • Trinity County's New Attorney looks to implement change (VIDEO)

    011421 colton hayTONY FARKAS | TCNS Colton Hay took the reins of the Trinity County Attorney’s office on January 4, 2021, hitting the ground running.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Colton Hay walked into the office at 8 a.m. on the first day to a ringing telephone and only him to answer it.

    The newly minted County Attorney, elected in November to replace Joe Warner Bell, was being asked about creating a protective order. Hay said he had to call around that morning to find out what the protocol and procedures were.

    “I started calling around, and Rana Wingo of the SAAFE House was able to help me out, and what I found reaching out to people is that no one really knew exactly what to do, where a protective order was supposed to start,” he said.

    Hay went immediately to work, setting up meetings with Wingo, the Sheriff’s Office and the DA’s office, as well as other entities involved, and together created a step-by-step process — that was on the second day.

    “That’s what I’m looking to do — update things, trying new things, something you can only do when you’re new and don’t really know exactly what to do,” Hay said. “(The new procedure) will be great for the victims, for everyone, and I don’t want to stop there, with protective orders and criminal cases, I want to keep going and bring that new insight to the office.”

    The word update sums up Hay’s entire campaign.

    “We’re looking to get new computers, and we, with the DA and the Sheriff, are looking into software that will connect all of us, to expedite things,” he said. “I want to get everyone communicating.”

    Hay said he hopes to bring some youthful energy to the position. Having just got married, he said he wants to put down roots, and saw the election as a good opportunity to do that.

    Hay graduated law school in 2017, and worked for an insurance defense firm for the nephew of Joe Ned Dean, who gave him some sage advice.

    Hay also is a former clerk for the Trinity County District Attorney Bennie Schiro, and has worked in Anderson County for two years doing the essentially the same work as he is doing now. He said he brings experience and a fresh perspective to the position.

  • Trinity girls take 3rd in district

    021121 bkb 4COURTESY PHOTO The Centerville Lady Bulldogs are headed to the playoffs against Zavalla on Thursday.

    TCNS staff

    TRINITY — After a win last week, the Trinity Lady Tigers fell to district rival Onalaska on Saturday to place third in the district.

    Trinity lost in overtime 57-52, even though the Feb. 2 score was a 40-37 win.

    The Lady Tigers next play East Barnard at 6 p.m. Thursday at Waller High School.

    The Tiger boys lost to Tarkington 54-48 on Saturday. Trey Goodman led scorers with 21 points, and Jakai Miller-Gates chipped in 16.

    Trinity was to play New Waverly on Tuesday and Anderson-Shiro on Thursday.

    On Feb. 2, Trinity overpowered Onalaska 67-57.

    021121 bkb 3TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity Tiger center Terius Maxie (No. 22) attempts a bucket during a district game against Tarkington on Saturday.

    Apple Springs

    Coach Michael Powell said the Lady Eagles finished district play with a 2-10 record.

    “We beat Kennard twice, but lost to everyone else,” he said.

    The Eagles went 0-10 in district with two games left to play this week.

    Their last game, Feb. 2 vs. Laneville, ended up a 68-20 loss.

    Centerville

    Head Coach Kevin Parker said the Lady Bulldogs will be advancing to the playoffs and will face Zavalla in the Bi-District Round on Thursday in Huntington.

    Boys

    Feb. 5 vs. Kennard, 59-42 loss.

    Girls

    Feb. 5 vs. Kennard, 55-36 win.

    Feb. 3 vs. Neches, 50-19 loss.

    Groveton

    Coach Rogelyn Andrews said the Lady Indians are tied with Leon for fourth place in district.

    Groveton was to play Tuesday in Grapeland, and the winner will move on to play Martin's Mill Friday in Bi-District. 

     

  • Trinity splits against Coldspring-Oakhurst

    020421 grovetonPHOTO BY MARTHA MERICLE A Groveton player looks to move toward the goal during the Indians’ 35-31 win over Latexo on Jan. 26, 2021.

    TCNSA STAFF

    COLDSPRING — The Trinity girls outlasted the Coldspring-Oakhurst Lady Trojans, but the boys, who played catchup for the game, lost by 20.

    The Lady Tigers stopped COHS with a 57-11 drubbing, while the Trojans downed the Tigers 72-52 on Friday.

    For the Tigers, Jakai Miller-Gates led scoring with 18, followed by Trey Goodman with 12.

    Coach Jacoby Mitchell

    The win puts the Lady Tigers at 7-3 in district play, while the boys fall to 3-5.

    On Jan. 26, The Lady Tigers edged out Anderson-Shiro 48-47.

    Coach Taylor Wilson said it was the team’s first time to beat the Lady Owls in district play.

    Top scorers were Rayn Balli with 19 points, Peyton Robb with 10 points, Cynthia Sizemore with 7 points, Shania English with 5 points and Nevaeh Craft with 5 points.

    Centerville

    Girls

    (10-2 overall, 6-1 in district)

    •Jan. 27 vs. Laneville, 31-20 win.

    Top scorers: Gracie May with 11 points, Alexis May with 8

    •Jan. 26 vs. Apple Springs, 34-19 win

    Top scorers: K.K. Mott with 14, Gracie May with 14

    Boys 

    •Jan. 27 vs. Laneville 67 Centerville 67-41 loss

    (Ethan Rutledge 14, Aydn Self 14)

    •Jan. 26 vs. Apple Springs 66-44 win

    (Aydn Self 33 points, Ethan Rutledge 10 points)

    Groveton

    Girls

    •Jan. 25 vs. Grapeland, 50-41 loss.

    Scorers: Tatum Porter with 12, Lena Taylor with 10, Kiki Smith with 8, Kassie Plotts with 5, Chasity Blair with 5, Maicey Smith with 1

    Rebounds: Kassie Plotts with 16, Chasity Blair with 6 op Assists: Kiki Smith with 3, Chasity Blair with 3, Maicey Smith with 3

    Blocks: Kiki Smith 2, Tatum Porter 1

    •Jan. 23 vs. Lovelady, 43-26 loss

    Scorers: Tatum Porter with 8, Lena Taylor with with 6, Kassie Plotts with 5, Chasity Blair with 4, Kiki Smith with 2, Maicey Smith with 1

    Rebounds: Chasity Blair with 8, Lena Taylor with 8, Kassie Plotts with 6

    Assists Kiki Smith with 2, Kassie Plotts with 2

    •Jan. 21 vs. Centerville, 60-25 loss

    Lena Taylor with 9, Tatum Porter with 9, Maddy Thomas with 3, Chasity Blair with 2, Kassie Plotts with 2

    Rebounds: Lena Taylor with 8, Kassie Plotts with 7

    •Jan. 20 vs. Grapeland, 56-32 loss.

    Scorers: Tatum Porter with 15, Lena Taylor 1 with 2, Maicey Smith with 2, Chasity Blair with 2, Bre McQueen with 1

    Rebounds: Kassie Plotts with 10, Chasity Blair with 9

    Assists: Kassie Plotts with 4, Ingrid Rojo with 1

    Boys

    •Jan. 26 vs. Latexo, 35-31 win.

    •Jan. 25 vs. Centerville, 59-44 loss.

    Apple Springs

    Girls

    •Jan. 29 vs. Wells, 48-25 loss

    •Jan. 26 vs. Centerville, 34-19 loss

    Boys

    •Jan. 29 vs. Wells, 70-26 loss

    •Jan. 26 vs. Centerville, 66-44 loss

  • Two seek mayor’s post

    bennetandwaltonFILE PHOTO Ralph Bennett and Tommy Walton

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — Two current members of the Groveton City Council are looking to become mayor.

    The position is up for election, as the incumbent Byron Richards passed away from COVID unexpectedly.

    Early voting ended Tuesday, and the regular election will be from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. Polling will be done at the Groveton High School Auditorium

    Ralph Bennett

    Currently the mayor pro tem, Ralph Bennett said he wants to continue to bring about improvement in the community.

    “I want to complete the projects we had started, such the downtown renovation and the water well, something me and Byron Richards had started on,” he said.

    Bennett has served 14 years on the council, and currently is the Trinity County minority rep on the DETCOG board. He worked for 35 years at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, having retired from security in the Windham School District.

    Additionally, he is treasurer and secretary of the Parker Ridge Cemetery Board in Groveton, and has more than 100 hours of continuing education from the Texas Municipal League.

    “I’m experienced, and that is key for someone being mayor,” he said.

    Aside from infrastructure, Bennett said the city needs to bring in new businesses, and especially needs to improve our road systems. He also intends to work with the state to make sure there is adequate broadband coverage in the area.

    “My top priority right now is securing a water well to have a reliable water source for the city,” he said. “This will become a fight down the road, but it is important to the growth of our community.”

    Tommy Walton

    Grant funds are the key to moving the city forward, and Council Member Tommy Walton said his main focus will be the continuation of numerous projects that are in process.

    A few of those include water meter replacement, wastewater retention pond renovation, purchase of a water well, downtown renovation and water line replacement — in all about $7.1 million.

    “Most of these projects are not something that the residents see every day, but are necessary to the running of an efficient city,” he said. “This is the result of lots of planning and lots of searching for grants. My goal is to qualify and obtain as many grants as we possibly can. It will make our projects move slower than what I would like, but we have to live within our means and I think the voters of Groveton will expect no less.”

    Walton said Groveton is a small town with a limited tax base, and if the city tried to do these projects with raising property taxes, taxes would be so high that no one could afford to live here.

    Other areas of focus include making City Hall and the Mayor more accessible, and involving residents in special projects, making use of any professionals in the area for their advice and knowledge. Additionally, the beautification of the city of Groveton is also high on Walton’s list of priorities, and all of it needs to be dealt with in a five-year plan.

    “Running the City is not a one man show; it involves the Mayor, the City Council, the office staff, the road and bridge staff, the Police Department, animal control, etc.,” he said. “The Mayor is there to help guide the direction and plan for the future. I will always be focused on our future.”