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  • A STORYBOOK CAREER

    IMG 20201116 132120COURTESY PHOTO Coldspring-Oakhurst running back Contavious Parker-Harden (20) set his school’s all-time rushing record with 4,578 yards in four seasons. Parker-Harden is the only player in school history to have more than 4,000 yards throughout his career.

    Coldspring senior boasts school rushing record

    By Jason Chlapek

    COLDSPRING — Throughout the Coldspring-Oakhurst football team’s history, many great running backs have come and gone.

    There was Ray Fisher, who ran for 3,542 yards throughout his career (1990-92), including a single-season record 2,791 yards in 1992 when the Trojans lost to Southlake Carroll in the Class 3Å state championship game. A few years later, Isaac White broke the school’s all-time rushing record with 3,615 yards in three years (1996-98).

    More than two decades later, the C-O all-time rushing record has been broken again. Contavious Parker-Harden now has that distinction with a grand total of 4,578 yards in four years.

    “When I first came in here, it was looking at the whole picture and I saw some big kids,” C-O coach Ken Stanley said. “When you make a transition into the double-wing, you know you’re going to have to have some guys up front. We had a young man in Liberty that was a lot like Tay and we did very well with him when we put that offense in. I thought Tay had everything that kid had, only Tay was bigger and stronger. Tay was the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. He’s a big kid that has some speed and he made it very easy for me to pull the trigger on this whole double-wing. That made me very excited knowing what I know about the offense. I knew with a kid like Tay that sooner than later we were going to have success. He was a big part of that.”

    In Parker-Harden’s four seasons, he ran for more than 1,000 yards three times, including a 1,635 in 2020 — his final in a Trojan uniform. He also rushed for 1,049 yards as a freshman in 2017 and 1,031 yards in 2018 his sophomore year.

    In the year prior to Stanley’s arrival, Coldspring-Oakhurst was 3-8 in its only campaign under previous coach Jim Bird. Once the coach arrived from Liberty, where he served as the offensive coordinator, he thought he was going to have something special.

    “Tay and his fellow seniors were the group that put their cleats in the ground and said they weren’t going to settle for 3-8,” Stanley said. “In two years, they won a district championship.”

    For Parker-Harden and his teammates, Stanley was the third coach the team played under going into his junior season. Mark Byrd was the coach Parker-Harden’s freshman year and Bird coached him as a sophomore.

    Both Byrd and Bird had one thing in common — the spread offense. But Stanley proved to be an answered prayer for the school running back.

    “I felt more calm in the double-wing,” Parker-Harden said. “In the spread, I wasn’t able to read as much as I could before the snap. In the double-wing, I was able to read the defense and see who I have to beat on the play. It calmed me down a lot.”

    Parker-Harden recently committed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He also talked a little bit about his running style.

    “I ask for the ball on the first play of the game because on that first play I’m going to give them everything that I’ve got,” Parker-Harden said. “Pretty much every team that we play, I’ll look at them and I’ll start laughing because if I want it I can get it. I don’t let one guy tackle me. I want all 11 guys tackling me. Coach Stanley and I talked all year about how I’ll never let just one guy tackle me. If I allow just one guy to tackle me, then I don’t deserve to be in my spot.”

    Stanley talked about a particular play when the Trojans met Diboll in the regular season finale. The play was pivotal in C-O’s 20-12 victory that clinched the district championship.

    “We had a critical moment in our season against Diboll where we were on our own 30-yard line and it was fourth-and-two,” Stanley said. “It would’ve been real easy to punt right there, but we went for it. If they can stop us, I’ll tip my hat to them and put our defense back on the field. The Diboll coach called a timeout before that play and tells his team, ‘you know No. 20 is going to get the ball.’ They knew it, we knew it, and everybody in the stands knew it that Tay was going to get the ball on that play, and we still got the first down.”

    When Parker-Harden was in seventh grade, Bryan Barbay was the Trojans’ head football coach and athletic director. Barbay employed another run-oriented offense — the wing-T.

    “The double-wing is actually a lot different than the wing-T except for the misdirection,” Stanley said. “In the wing-T, you have a lot of double teams up front and a lot of buck sweep with pulling guards and trap. The double-wing is more of a gap-control offense and it kind of lends to all offenses now where you have a power/counter scheme. The beauty of the double-wing for us is we feel like you have to balance on us, and we can always put one more man on you. Our quarterbacks have to be blockers. By having that extra blocker, running that tunnel sweep gets us over the top. We also emphasize the weight room and we get guys who can get good technique and move on people. We want two-and-a-half yards a play. When we get to fourth-and-two, we’re going to go for it. The fullback in our offense is primarily a blocker. They block on our tunnel sweep and counter play. We get a kid who’s gritty and tough hat fullback.”

    One thing that helped the Trojans — and Parker-Harden — during the last two seasons was fellow senior Greg Terry. With Parker-Harden’s power style and Terry’s finesse, C-O gave opposing defenses headaches.

    “I like to get a kid like Tay on one side and a quick, slasher type runner on the other side,” Stanley said. “It gets down to if we’re getting 6, 7 or 8 yards on our tunnel sweep play, I’m going to keep running that play. When a defense does something to adjust, then we hit them out the backdoor with our slasher. It was a lot of fun with these guys. They made it easier to call the offense. A lot of teams tried to make us beat them with someone other than Tay. Greg Terry in his own right had great seasons. Defenses had to respect him on the counter and it kept Tay honest. It was a good combination.”

    Just another group of great Coldspring-Oakhurst running backs.

  • A sign of things that are coming

    tony farkasFILE PPHOTO Tony Farkas

    By Tony Farkas

    I ran across a story last week, and I got chills.

    It was run by a Houston television news outlet, so props to them. Full disclosure, though: I am trying to nail down a story myself.

    I feel that this event is significant enough, though, that I can mention it here, because I do have verification that it happened.

    Also full disclosure: I believe I’ve mentioned these things will happen. I just thought it would take a little longer, and have the weight of government meddling behind it.

    Seems that in early May, during a hearing involving a divorce case and child custody arrangements, District Judge Travis Kitchens ordered the parents to get COVID vaccinations in order to complete visitation.

    (This information was taken from the Divorce Docket filed in District Court in Trinity County.)

    According to the news story, the judge told the respondent in the case, the father, that he would not be allowed to see his children if he did not comply with the order.

    I’m pretty gobsmacked at that development, for any variety of reasons, but most notably is how a sitting, elected judge, sworn to uphold laws, asserted a non-existent authority and removed a man’s ability to not only visit his children, but make his own medical decision regarding this shot.

    Say what you will about it, the vaccinations are untested, not in the normal manner, and have been shown to occasionally have some pretty stringent side effects.

    And while there can be a long, arduous and even dangerous argument to be made that it should not be up to the courts to decide how to handle the end of a relationship (or even require a license to marry, for that matter), the issue here is demand that a private citizen submit to a medical procedure.

    All the while dangling the “carrot” of child visitation in front of him (and her), with the “stick,” backed by the force of law, of losing visitation privileges.

    Leaving aside the sketchy nature of the vaccine itself, the judge does not have the required medical background to make such decisions. That’s pure danger right there.

    The judge does, however, have legal training, and should understand that it’s completely against any and all rights, laws and even common sense for courts to start meddling in these areas. It’s frankly unconscionable.

    We citizens have civil rights. These rights, especially those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are inviolate. If it comes down to the state, through legislators or court officials, making these decisions, then we as a society are completely doomed. Moreover, we as a species will be doomed.

    Will judges start ordering lobotomies for defendants who have been found unable to be tried because of mental incompetence, or by reason of insanity?

    Will people be ordered to abort unborn children, or conversely, ordered to have children, for whatever whim a judge has?

    Will people who have been diagnosed similarly, such as, oh, say, leprosy? It’s happened before, in Hawaii, and the government has a history of segregating people without benefit of trial, such as the Japanese internment camps.

    There are ample what ifs to throw out here, but that would be overkill. Suffice it to say that any medical decision cannot be made by anyone other than the interested party. Any lawmaker that proposes things like that (such as the current rage of vaccination passports), or any judge that orders procedures that are none of his business, they need to be voted out of office, or even recalled if egregious enough.

    The only other option, one that is unacceptable, is to give up all freedoms.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Annual car show granted weather delay

    cabmaFILE PHOTO

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — Weather is responsible for another delay, this time the annual Car, Truck and Bike Show sponsored by the Coldspring Area Business and Merchants Association.

    CABMA’s Car Show Committee voted to move the event to July 31.

    According to information from the meeting posted on the group’s website, vehicle owners will not show the cars in rain, and musicians and DJs will not risk damage to their equipment.

    Sponsors for the event, Bourland Land Surveying, Paradise Grille, Bear AC & Heating, Farm Bureau Insurance and Matticks Real Estate, have been contacted and have agreed to the delay; however, the food purchased for the event will not be used, and it is non-refundable.

    Vendors that have been booked for the event will not be charged to set up on the new date, and were allowed to set up Saturday if they so chose.

    In the release, members stated it was a very hard decision to make as a new board, and that some people will be disappointed, but Mother Nature is 100 percent out of the board’s control.

    The board cannot take of chance of losing or wasting hard-earned money to possible thunderstorms, the release states, and postponement of any event is not the end of the world, it’s a compromise.

    More information is available at cabma.org.

  • Anti-mask mandate mandated

    052721 mandateFILE PHOTO Gov. Greg Abbott

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued an executive order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas — including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials — from requiring or mandating mask wearing. 

    Public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

    However, in San Jacinto County, the governor’s action will have no effect, as both the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd districts had already voted to remove masks.

    Shepherd Superintendent Jason Hewitt said that in April, the board voted to remove masks after a survey of the staff and community showed masks should be removed.

    Cassie Gregory, information officer for COCISD, said that board had made masks optional previously.

    Beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the executive order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

    "The Lone Star State continues to defeat COVID-19 through the use of widely-available vaccines, antibody therapeutic drugs, and safe practices utilized by Texans in our communities," Abbott said. "Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities. We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans' liberty to choose whether or not they mask up."

    Exempt from the order are state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.

    Additionally, the governor said that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective June 26.

    This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, a release states.

    “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. That assessment does not include the voluminous jobs that typically are not listed, like construction and restaurant jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60 percent more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there was in February 2020, the month before the Pandemic hit Texas.”

    The current job openings are good paying jobs. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, nearly 45 percent of posted jobs offer wages greater than $15.50 per hour. Approximately 76 percent pay more than $11.50 per hour. Only 2 percent of posted jobs pay around the minimum wage.

    At this stage of opening the state 100 percent, the focus must be on helping unemployed Texans connect with the more than a million job openings, rather than paying unemployment benefits to remain off the employment rolls.

    Another reason why the action was necessary is the high level of fraudulent unemployment claims being filed. TWC estimates that nearly 18 percent of all claims for unemployment benefits during the pandemic are confirmed or suspected to be fraudulent, which totals more than 800,000 claims, worth as much as $10.4 billion, if all claims had been paid.

    Federal law requires the effective date of this change to be at least 30 days after notification is provided to the Secretary of Labor. As a result, the effective date will be June 26.

  • Board discusses PD’s outreach efforts

    040121 COCISD PDCOURTESY PHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team gave a year-in-review presentation at the COCISD school board meeting on Monday, March 22.

    By Cassie Gregory
    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — The highlight of the March 22 COCISD Board of Trustees meeting was the yearly report given by COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team of officers.

    They reported on the year's events and outreach programs that have been implemented to build relationships with students, families and the community.

    "A lot of what we've been doing is to foster the relationship between the public and police officers," Joseph said. "This has been a tough year with all of the things going on around the country. We are community based — that's what we are all about."

    Some of the programs include Cops Who Care at the beginning of the school year, where officers give away free backpacks filled with school supplies, and Shop with a Cop at Christmas, which helps to provide gifts for students in need at Christmas.

    "We don't want any child to wake up on Christmas morning without a gift under the tree," Joseph said.

    The department also works with organizations and other police departments to acquire equipment, technology and software at no cost to the district. Recently, hey were awarded a grant for a sophisticated report-writing system that has cut down on the time it takes to record reports and has greatly increased the security of confidential information. Another grant provided equipment designed to teach students about the danger of vaping, and they also received new radios as a donation, saving the district $12,000.

    "We work very hard every day to make this a safe environment, and we are going to continue," Joseph said.

    Also at the meeting, Coldspring-Oakhurst High School advanced culinary arts students served a delicious meal to board members and staff under the direction of Chef Joel Casiday. The selection included chicken and dumplings, mixed greens salad and a fresh, multi-berry crisp topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

    The meeting began with the pledges of allegiance led by Coldspring Intermediate students.

    Interim Superintendent Walter Key introduced and thanked the culinary arts students, followed by a presentation given by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Vikki Curry and campus principals on benchmark scores.

    In other business, trustees approved:

    • •The adoption of pre-kindergarten instructional materials to be implemented in the 2021-22 school year.
    • •The TASB Localized Policy Manual Update 116.
    • •Recommended revisions to board policies.
    • •A digital learning agreement with Apex Learning.
    • •The purchase and installation of a paint booth for Coldspring-Oakhurst High School.
    • •The purchase of interactive televisions.
    • •Participation in the Region 7 purchasing cooperative.
    • •Construction of a tennis court.
    • •Proposals for facility projects.
    • •To temporarily delegate hiring authority for contract personnel to the superintendent.

    The next regular meeting of the COCISD Board of Trustees is set for 6:30 p.m. April 26 at the Jones Educational Complex Auditorium.

  • Board makes it official

    060321 cocisd board 2COURTESY PHOTO | CASSIE GREGORY Executive Administrative Assistant Cindy Elliott administers the oath of office to new school board members William Baker and Ashney Shelly during the May 24 COCISD board meeting.

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Board of Trustees officially hired Dr. Bryan Taulton as Superintendent of Schools at a special meeting on May 27.

    Taulton was named lone finalist on May 4, but due to state law, there was a 21-day waiting period before the Board could formally vote to approve him for the position. 

    Taulton has 15 years of professional experience in public education and has served as a teacher, assistant principal, junior high principal, high school principal, and assistant superintendent before taking the position of superintendent at Goodrich ISD.

    He currently teaches graduate courses at Houston Baptist University in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, specializing in school law, school business management and finance, instructional leadership and evaluation, and interpersonal communication and public relations.

    At the board’s regular meeting on May 24, the board swore in two new members, elected in the May 1 general election.

    Other items discussed by the board include:

    • the annual review of board policy on ethics.
    • a proposal for the construction of stadium restrooms.
    • awarding the depository contract for the 2021-2023 biennium.
    • revisions to summer school supplemental pay rates.
    • the COCISD 2021-2022 compensation plan.
    • a resolution regarding ESSER III grant funds.
    • the purchase of technology devices and components.
  • Brady to retire from House

    Kevin BradyFILE PHOTO U.S. Representative Kevin Brady

    Special to the News-Times

    THE WOODLANDS — U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, announced he will end his tenure as a Congressman at the end of this term.

    Brady made the remarks during The Woodlands Economic Outlook Conference, held online on Wednesday.

    The 13-term Representative of the Eighth District, which includes Trinity and San Jacinto counties, told those attending the conference about his decision to retire.

    “I set out to give my constituents the representation you deserve, the effectiveness you want and the economic freedom you need,” he said. “I hope I delivered. It’s a remarkable privilege to work for you in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

    Brady said he was proud to have worked with the President and lawmakers from both parties to redesign America’s broken tax code, reform the IRS, pass the new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, reform America’s retirement system, end the unfair ObamaCare individual mandate and its harmful taxes, and sign into law a historic national ban on surprise medical bills.

    “The Tax Cuts lifted millions of Americans out of poverty, and gave hope to so many the old tax code had left behind,” he said. “America recaptured the title as the most competitive economy in the world, bringing manufacturing jobs and investment back home to America from overseas.

    “And we preserved my first success as Chairman: negotiating for Speaker Paul Ryan an end to the 40-year ban on selling U.S. crude oil overseas,” Brady said.

    Brady said he works with some of the most dedicated people in the nation — people who are talented, hardworking and serious about their responsibilities — in both parties, and after 25 years in the nation’s capitol there hasn’t been a problem that can’t be solved.

    “I love this job, and thanks to incredible lawmakers I’ve worked with in Congress and the White House, I’ve been fortunate to do big things for our country, bigger than a small town boy from Rapid City, South Dakota whose father died when young, with all five of us children raised by a remarkable single mom, could ever dream of,” he said.

    Brady said his decision to retire does not have an ulterior motive.

    “Is this because I’ve lost faith in a partisan Congress and the political system? Absolutely not,” he said. “Given the times, I’m sure some will say, ‘It’s Trump’s fault.’ Nonsense.

    “As you may not know, because House Republicans limit committee leadership to six years, I won’t be able to Chair the Ways & Means Committee in the next session when Republicans win back the House majority,” Brady said. “Did that factor in? Honestly, some. But as I see it, our committee leader term limits ensure lawmakers who work hard and effectively have the opportunity to lead, to bring fresh ideas to our committee work. In my view, it’s a good thing. And the great news is that our Ways & Means Committee is incredibly talented. I’m confident about its future.”

    Brady said that in the end, he will leave Congress the way he entered it, with the absolute belief that we are a remarkable nation – the greatest in history.

    Despite what the media and social media bombards you with each day, we are not the hateful, racist, divided nation they peddle,” he said. “They are dead wrong. Turn off that noise and you’ll hear the true heartbeat of America. We remain the most charitable nation on the planet. We are a nation so valued that a million military men and women have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms and opportunity.

    “Look at yourself; look around at your friends and our community,” he said. “We come together every day voluntarily to feed the hungry, house the homeless, rescue our veterans, race to help our neighbors in a natural disaster, and more. We do this without a single thought about the color of our anyone’s skin, their religious beliefs, or the circumstances of their birth. We volunteer, we give from our pockets and our hearts, we care for each other. Because that is who America is.”

    Brady said the country remains a work in progress, but it’s what makes America special.

    “Every parent, every generation, is determined to leave a nation for our children — and others — better than the one we inherited,” he said. “As a result, the American Dream is still alive and well for anyone willing to work for it. That is why I remain optimistic about our country, because I have faith in our people. I’ve seen up close how remarkable you are, and while I am leaving Congress, I am excited about our future.”

    Brady thanked his supporters for what he called many unbelievable opportunities to lead, including becoming only the third Texan in history to chair the House Ways & Means Committee, and saved his most heartfelt appreciation for his wife, Cathy.

    “She is a true angel (you have no idea), who made all this possible and is the best thing in my life … ever,” he said..

  • Career month offers alternatives

    031121 ctec 016 COEF PHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY COCISD CTE Director Jeff Eichman, pictured right, presented Computer Science teacher Robert Mills with a gift bag from the COCISD Education Foundation for CTE Month.

    By Jessica Caso
    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — For the month of February, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD celebrated Career and Technical Education Month, which is a public awareness campaign that celebrates the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of such programs.

    In addition to celebrating CTE staff and programs, the month also brought awareness to different career paths by providing videos or in-class presentations on engineers, project developers, branches of military, law enforcement and director of academic success.

    The month began with gift bags from the Health Center of Southeast Texas and the Coldspring-Oakhurst Education Foundation. Sprinkled throughout February were sweet treats, plants and a Taco Tuesday.

    The Yokogawa Corporation ended the celebration by providing breakfast to the program’s 21 staff members and student teachers.

    Each day CTE staff were spotlighted as "CTE Staff of the Day" for their contributions to the school and community, and featured on the COCISD CTE Facebook page.

    Special thanks were given to the Healthcare Center of Southeast Texas, the COEF, and Yokogawa for their contributions to CTE this month.

    Although CTE month is over, COCISD will continue to work with partners to produce career videos throughout the school year. This will provide families access at any time to explore options with their children and know what training, certifications or education is needed for potential careers.

    The goal is to empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal and career success and reach their fullest potential as respectful, responsible citizens.

    Businesses, people and organizations participating in career video project include Angelina College's Director of Academic Success, Jennifer Balduaf; Solar Power Project Developer, Aaron Arriaga; Yokogawa Corporations Human Resources, Engineering and Marketing Team; U.S. Marines; Texas National Guard; software engineer at Amazon AWS, Lauren Elkins; U.S. Navy; and Westpoint Academy.

    Jessica Caso is the COCISD College, Career and Military Readiness Counselor.

  • Closing the barn door behind the eight ball

    tony farkasFILE PHOTO Tony Farkas

    By Tony Farkas

    Gov. Greg Abbott last week issued the mandate to end all mandates by mandating that no government entity can mandate the use of masks.

    Better late than never, I guess.

    For the liberty-minded among us, this is something that has all the earmarks of government — at least at the state level — is headed in the right direction. It’s really nice to see that at least one politician understands that it is not them what holds the ultimate power over our lives, but us people do.

    The issue for those that cherish liberty and individual freedom, though, is that it’s comes only after the fact.

    The government did not hesitate in the least to issue the mask/social distancing/stay home-stay safe mandates the minute some unelected government flunky suggested it. (This is the same government flunky that been not only caught not wearing a mask, but has been shown to have opinions about the efficacy of mask use that are as varied as there are grains of sand on the Gulf.)

    At one point, everyone was following the bizarre and ever-changing guidance of the Center for Disease Control, spurred on by the governments Czar of All Things COVID Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Note: still not elected.)

    One mask, two mask, Pfizer shot, J&J not, everybody do the pandemic conga.

    Because the hysteria even gripped Texas, Abbott followed suit. This is not to say that the pandemic should have been taken lightly; this is to say that there really wasn’t any authority for the action, not to mention no real evidence proving it would (or did) make a difference.

    Because of those actions, he has drawn the attention of people who believe the mandates were short-sighted, and have now announced their attention to run for governor against him — even as conservatives.

    It would be easy to believe, then, that the governor’s actions were self-serving, an act of preservation of a legacy, and a chance at re-election. While that may be the case, it also misses a critical point, in that the federal government doesn’t exhibit any inclination to honor states’ rights.

    See, Unca Joe loves us, and will always lock us up and throw away the key to show that love, and will do so with a smile because he, after 40-plus years in government crafting things toward that end, the government is becoming the be-all, end-all for everything.

    So the next time there’s a pandemic, guess what happens? The feds will clamp down, and force — passive-aggressively — states to comply by threatening federal funding for things like health care or hospitals or emergency services. Because as was pointed out so eloquently in “The Wizard of Id” so many years ago, they operate by the Golden Rule: “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”

    I do, I really do appreciate the governor’s gesture. However, the cynical elf that lives in my brain is laughing hysterically because he knows nothing will change with things as they are. Texas will always be independent, but it’s the feds that have usurped all power, because — everyone say it with me now — we let it happen.

    Becoming comfortable with being taken care of, combined with nurturing propaganda and vilification of any opposition, has been going on so long it’s become ingrained in us that rebelling against tyrannical actions has become unthinkable.

    In order for the governor’s actions to become something more than a token gesture, it needs to be the first domino in a chain that will ultimately right the American ship, putting it back on course. Individual liberties are paramount, and we’re not subject to the whim of people who “know what’s best for us” and the diktats that inevitably, inexorably follow.

    Tony Farkas is editor of the San Jacinto News-Times. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • COCISD settles on single candidate

    Dr. TaultonCOURTESY PHOTO Dr. Bryan Taulton

    SJNT staff

    COLDSPRING — On Tuesday, May 4, the Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name Dr. Bryan Taulton as the lone finalist for the position of COCISD Superintendent.

    Dr. Taulton is the current superintendent of Goodrich ISD.

    Due to state law, there is a 21-day waiting period before the board can officially hire Dr. Taulton. The board is scheduled to meet about the matter May 27.

    According to Taulton’s LinkedIn profile, he currently is the superintendent of Goodrich ISD in Houston, and had previously been an adjunct professor at Houston Baptist University.

    He holds a Ph.D. in education administration and supervision, which he obtained in 2014.

  • COHS sending 14 entries to region meet

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst athlete Crystal Ramos finished fourth in the pole vault during last week’s area meet.

    By Jason Chlapek

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst boys and girls track and field programs each qualified seven entries for the Region III-Class 3A Meet this weekend in Waco.

    The Trojans finished third in the team standings of last week’s Districts 23/24-3A Area Meet, while the Lady Trojans finished fifth. The meet took place on April 12 at Trojan Stadium in Coldspring.

    The top four finishers in each event qualified for the region meet, which takes place Friday and Saturday at Midway High School’s Panther Stadium in Waco. The top two finishers and top third-place finish statewide in each event qualify for the Class 3A state meet, which takes place May 6 in Austin.

    TROJANS

    A trio of first-place finishes kept C-O in the hunt for the area championship. Edward Brown and Curtis Parker, Jr., won the 100 and 400-meter runs, respectively, and the quarter of Parker, Reagan Roberts, Gavin Trejo and Jared Curry won the 1,600-meter relay.

    Dante Eldridge took second in the shot put, while Carter Currie was the runner-up in the pole vault. Troy Fortenberry finished third in the pole vault and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles.

    C-O had 79 points in the standings to finish third. East Bernard (96.5) and Boling (94) finished 1-2.

    LADY TROJANS

    Five of the seven regional-qualifying entries for C-O took place in the field events, including a pair of first-place finishes. Alexis Moore and Amanda Ready won the shot put and high jump, respectively, to lead the Lady Trojans’ charge.

    Shanaya Gilbert finished second in the shot put, while Alexis Chandler was third in the triple jump, and Crystal Ramos took fourth in the pole vault. Miya Ellis qualified in two events as she finished third in the 100 and fourth in the 200.

  • Coldspring downs rival Trinity

    040121 baseball 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst hurler Easton Dean delivers a pitch to a Trinity batter during the team’s 18-1 win over the Tigers on Friday.

    News-Times staff

    TRINITY — Hot bats gave the Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans a commanding win over the Trinity Tigers on Friday.

    Trojan Head Coach Austin Riddell said it was a great overall team win, defeating the Tigers 18-1 in five innings.

    Easton Dean, who also carried pitching duties, went 4-for-5 and hit for the cycle, including his first high school-career home run. He also put up three strikeouts while allowing only two hits.

    Trinity managed to put up a few hits, but couldn’t string together enough to counter Coldspring-Oakhurst.

    Tiger head coach Chad Kinney said senior Sam Allen gave up a total of 4 earned runs and 1 RBI at the plate, and junior Cole Caldwell went 2-for-2 with a triple and a run scored. Freshmen Remi Lassman and Cole Hortman each went 1-for-2 with a double, and freshman David McKendree walked twice.

    Riddell said this week is going to be a tough test, as they were to play New Waverly on Tuesday at home, and then travel to Anderson-Shiro on Thursday.

    “This will be a great measuring tool to see where we truly stand in our district and we are excited for the opportunity,” he said.

    Kinney said that due to having players out, the next game — Onalaska on Thursday — they will be starting five or six freshmen.

  • Coldspring students excel at Black History Month projects

    003 COHS law enforcement studentsPHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY Capt. Kim Webb's law enforcement students in front of their Black History Month project displays. Shown are (back row, from left) Adrienne Steede, I'Kra Bryd, Kynadee Benestante, Stephen Torres, Stormie Payne and Brandon Harris; and (front row, from left) Luckie Poppenhusen, Natalynn Ramirez and Webb.

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — February's Black History Month offers the Coldspring-Shepherd CISD a special opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to the nation and the world.

    LJH students created bulletin boards featuring profiles of prominent African Americans throughout history in many different fields, including education and invention.

    Students in B.K. Harrison's education classes conducted research and created two displays; the Child Guidance students, including Ann Bennett, Abigail Casy, Triniti William and Ashlee Trujillo, created an African American Educators bulletin board; and the Education and Training Practicum students, including Paige Barton, Kandis Martinez, Lila Stevens and Brianna Warren, created an African American Inventors board.

    Students studying law enforcement under COCISD Police Capt. Kim Webb did a display on law enforcement professionals.

    "To celebrate Black History Month the students wanted to go back in time and research some pioneering and inspirational events of African American officers,” Webb said. “Our class found several who have held key criminal justice positions and influenced progressive law enforcement activities.”

    Student Stormie Payne said she enjoyed learning about Georgia Ann Robinson, the first Black female police officer to work for the Los Angeles Police Department, and may have been the first Black female LEO in the country.

    Robinson started out as a volunteer before becoming a full-fledged officer when she was hired as a jail matron in 1919. She also worked as an investigator in juvenile and homicide cases and set up a much-needed women’s shelter in the city during her time as a cop, Payne said.

    “These are individuals who paved the way during a difficult era for law enforcement and Black Americans,” Payne said. “These stories of unwavering dedication to policing serve as strong examples all LEOs can aspire to. (Robinson) had an obvious passion to help her fellow citizens.”

    Black History Month began as the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson after he participated in the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves. While there, he witnessed thousands of African Americans gathered to view exhibits showcasing the accomplishments and progress their people had made since the abolishment of slavery.

    Woodson had the idea to create an organization specifically for the scientific study of Black life and history. He and four others formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, or the ASALH) on Sept. 9, 1915. Eleven years later, Woodson announced "Negro History Week" in February of 1926.

    Eager for the movement to gain ground, Woodson chose the month of February for Negro History Week because it coincided with celebrations already held in many African American communities to celebrate the births of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. His aim wasn't just to include it in the traditional celebrations, but to encourage these communities to use the opportunity to extend their study of Black history in general.

    His goal was to change the focus of the celebrations from only two men to the greater view of the multitudes of African American men and women who had impacted history and humanity. His ultimate intention was for the study and celebration of Black history to continue not just for a week, but throughout the year.

    Beginning in the 1940s, African Americans in West Virginia began to celebrate February as Negro History Month. By the late 1960s, African American college students led the charge to replace the name "Negro History" with "Black History" and to extend it to a month-long event.

    In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued the first Black History Month proclamation. Since then, the celebration has grown to include similar observances in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Netherlands, though not always in February.

    The study of Black History should not be relegated to one specific month, but should be studied year-round. It helps to teach people about the African American experience beyond stereotypes. Learning more about Black History and the unique struggles faced and overcome by African Americans, both in the past and in the present, is the bridge to understanding. Understanding is the bridge to a better future.

  • Commissioners seek more county improvement

    CountySealSJFILE PHOTO San Jacinto County seal

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
    SJNT staff writer

    COLDSPRING — Reports of residents not respecting private or public property when holding events that may require security spurred a county law enforcement professional to seek a remedy.

    Precinct 2 Constable Ray Atchley took advantage of public comment during the regular County Commissioners’ Court meeting to address county gatherings.

    Atchley said that recent events in Shepherd were held and have made some residents miserable. While law enforcement has attempted to stay within their authority while respecting the rights of both parties — those having the event and those potentially filing the complaint against the coordinators — with no oversight, the resources to help maintain public safety are not always available to law enforcement.

    Atchley asked the court if they would consider passing a resolution to give law enforcement more authority to enforce restrictions should they become necessary, and he presented the court with an example to consider.

    No action could be taken.

    Elsewhere, the Court will seek bids for administrative services and requests for qualifications for the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The county expects to receive $5,597,025.34, which will go towards projects aimed at expanding the definition of traditional infrastructure, seeking to provide more resources for more projects, including rural healthcare, small business credit expansion initiatives, and improvements to the Child Tax Credit.

    More information on how money will be distributed can be found at https://home.treasury.gov/.

    Other matters discussed by the county include:

    • The county’s newest truck stop off of Highway 59 and FM 1127 in Shepherd will soon be hiring 70 new employees pending the completion of inspections.
    • Vaccination rates in San Jacinto County have continued to decline as those who are eligible and want the vaccine have been able to receive theirs. At the last Army-run clinic less than 10 people showed up, according to County Judge Fritz Faulkner. They are keeping ears open for when children will be eligible.

    The next Commissioner’s court meet will meet Wednesday, May 19 at 9 am at the Emergency Shelter in Coldspring, across from the courthouse. Public comment can be made at the beginning of the meeting.

  • Council set on cleaning up the town

    coldspringcityFILE PHOTO Coldspring town hall sign

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council is making bold moves to clean up the city.

    At its regular meeting on May 3, council members approved starting the process to have the property owners of three properties within the city remedy the violations of the city’s nuisance law.

    According to Mayor Pat Eversole, one property is an abandoned home on Slade Street, and the city has received complaints from neighbors about it being an eyesore and dangerous.

    The remaining two, both on Highway 150, are vacant and full of parked cars and litter, Eversole said.

    The properties and complaints have been turned over to the city’s attorney to start the process for remediation, and the for the attorney to contact the landowners.

    In other business, the council:

    • discussed a draft ordinance to ban private and civil helicopters landing within the city limits, which will come up for approval at the next council meeting;
    • discussed a planned ballpark expansion, and the council’s hope to find some additional property to expand the Dixie Youth Park fields and construct another entrance. Also, portable toilets with handicapped access were ordered for placement at the park;
    • approved the repair of a sewer line that had been damaged by a vehicle; and
    • tabled a discussion about removing an ADA-compliant handrail section on the town square at the intersection of Highway 150 at Church Street for further discussion.

    The Coldspring City Council meets the first Monday of every month, beginning at 7 p.m. at Coldspring City Hall.

  • Court holds special session on flood infrastructure

    SJchildabuseawareness1EMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA | SJNT The Courthouse lawn is festooned with Marvel and DC comic book characters and stars in honor of Child Abuse Awareness Month.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
    SJNT staff writer

    COLDSPRING — Residents of San Jacinto County can soon expect to see prescribed burns and surveyors with the U.S. Forest Service wrapping up their jobs around the Sam Houston National Forest, with improvements to come from them.

    During a special session on Wednesday, the court discussed plans to bid on CDBG-DR Harvey Round 1 projects, including on streets in the Waterwood subdivision and other roads in the county including Butch Arthur, Jeanette, Pelican, and Chipmunk roads.

    Improvements include plans to install culverts, clean neglected ditches and perform other means of flood mitigation, since several roads and bridges in the county historically flood via the San Jacinto river and several of its creeks.

    Pending the completion of the surveys and updates of county records, that information will be used to complete Harvey related projects as well as other potential areas of improvement including running new power lines and means to reduce speeding on the county’s curvier roads.

    Those still seeking to receive their first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, either Pfizer or Moderna depending on availability, can reach out to the San Jacinto Office of Emergency Management at (936) 653-8714 for upcoming clinics.

    Those seeking a vaccine do not need to live in the county to receive one. This includes those participating in the ongoing Save Our Seniors Initiative, which aims to prioritizing getting the vaccine to those 75 years or older.

    The Enterprise Lease program continues to provide Chief Tim Keen with weekly check-ins but production cutback from pandemic-related problems have left the department without new vehicles, something that has been ongoing since late 2020.

  • Covid-19 regional update

    N2103P48004CFILE PHOTO Covid-19

    By ETxN Staff

    Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler Counties

    In the Trauma Service Area designated H, which includes Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler counties, the amount of hospital bed usage by COVID-19 patients is down to 10% as of Wednesday, April 21, according to figures from the state department of health services. 

    Of the ICU beds available, 14% are being used as of Wednesday by COVID-19 patients. 

    The figure for daily cases reported as of Wednesday was 13 and the cumulative totals for the trauma region are 11,591 cases reported since reporting began in 2020, and 698 total COVID-related fatalities.

    Since reporting of active cases ceased in early March, concurrent with the lifting of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate, Tyler County reported 1,213 total cases and 34 deaths since March of 2020 when the county’s first confirmed case was reported."

    Houston County

    According to emergency management coordinator Heath Murff, as of April 30, the total number of Covid vaccination doses that had been administered in the county was 10,431.

    He added, “6,500 of those have been first doses; 4,633 of those are fully vaccinated people.

    “Houston County Emergency Management has hosted three vaccinations clinics, and we have vaccinated 600 citizens.”

    Murff said DSHS staff members “used to give us information daily, as far as, how many cases we had, how many active cases we had, how many recoveries we had, all that kind of specific (information) for Houston County, and they quit doing that.”

    ET COVID CHART

    **More information for up-to-date numbers can be found at:

    https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83

     

  • FFA hands out honors

    006CASSIE GREGORY | COURTESY PHOTO The 2020-21 Coldspring-Oakhurst High School FFA Chapter Banquet was held on Thursday, May 13.

    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst High School FFA Chapter celebrated a year filled with firsts, lasts, and hope for the future.

    At the FFA banquet on Thursday, 2020-21 Coldspring FFA President Brelynn Ellisor opened the emotional evening.

    "We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this a successful year," Ellisor said. "The hard work and dedication of each member has played a role in making all of these accomplishments possible."

    The invocation was led by FFA member Cinco Bailes, followed by a meal prepared and served by Mary Gray Catering with assistance from the FFA Booster Club.

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    American FFA Degree
    Certificates of Merit
    Chapter Degrees
    Fundraiser Award
    Greenhand Degrees
    Honorary Member Degree
    Junior FFA members
    New Officers
    Outstanding Member
    Star Chapter Award
    Star Greenhand
    Star Lone Star Award
    State Degrees
    Top Hand Awards
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    The 2020-21 FFA officers — Ellisor, Vice President Camilla Fussell, Secretary Kimberly Blackmann, Treasurer Kylie Curri, and Reporter Kaylen McAdams, with Advisor Ashlie Taylor — presented the year's awards and scholarship winners.

    The evening wound down with a touching end-of-year slideshow and the ceremony for retiring seniors, who hung up their FFA jackets as a symbol of the end of their high school FFA years.

    Before closing the meeting, the names of the 2021-2022 Coldspring FFA Officers were announced: President Kimberly Blackmann, Vice President Brelynn Ellisor, Secretary Cinco Bailes, Treasurer Hayden Richardson, Sentinel Mayci Whitten, Reporter Camilla Fussell and Student Advisor Kaylen McAdams.

  • GOP chair receives award

    041521 wrightCOURTESY PHOTO The first-ever Greg Abbott Leadership Award was presented to Dwayne Wright, chairman of the Republican Party of San Jacinto County.

    Special to the News-Times

    AUSTIN — Dwayne Wright, chairman of the Republican Party of San Jacinto County, was recently recognized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his contributions to conservative principles in the state.

    This is the first leadership award given by the governor, which from now on will be annually awarded.

    Wright promotes strong core values in the state, and contributes his time and effort across the area to champion conservatism and strong Texas principles.

    Wright is not only head of the Republican Party of San Jacinto county, but also is executive director of the Texas Republican County Chair Association. He has worked on various campaigns to help spread conservative values throughout the state.

  • Helping Hands (GALLERY)

    042221 fundraiser 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Volleyball players helped raise $480 that went toward senior scholarships at the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday.

    Shepherd Chamber raises funds for scholarships

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — Townspeople, volleyball players, chess masters and singers were among the throngs of people who turned out Saturday to give toward a worthy cause — high school seniors.

    Chamber President Yvonne Cones said there were upwards of 25 vendors selling everything from food to toys, and entertainers Eddie B of Albuquerque, N.M., and the band Crosstown Renegades provided musical interludes.

    Chamber member and master of ceremonies Brenda Myers said 12 eight-member teams signed up for volleyball at $5 a head as part of the fundraiser; and 20 cornhole teams at $20 a pop lent close to a third of the $3,000 raised.

    Cones said she was pleased with the turnout, and offered her thanks to everyone.

    042221 fundraiser 2
    042221 fundraiser 2
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Shepherd ISD cheerleaders outclass their male counterparts in tug of war at the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday.
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    042221 fundraiser 5
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The competition on the pad in chess was fierce at the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday.
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    042221 fundraiser 6
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eddie B, a Christian singer from Albuquerque, N.M., entertains the crowd at the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday.
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    042221 fundraiser top

    TONY FARKAS | SJNT

    Children and their parents participated in a Hula Hoop contest at the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fundraiser. For every child that brought a parent to the event, a…

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