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    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Lady Trojans outshine Lady Tigers

    040121 softball 1TONY FARKAS | SJNT Coldsprint-Oakhurst Lady Trojan Cami Fussell (No. 4) attempts to lay down a bunt during Friday’s game against Trinity. The Lady Trojans won 18-8.

    SJNT staff

    TRINITY — The Lady Trojans hammered runs out here and there to take a win over Trinity on Friday.

    "We are taking it day-by-day," Coldspring coach Brandi Hill said. "Trinity is pretty good. Their ace pitcher ended up getting hurt, so they had to pull in backups. We just kind of hung with them at the very beginning and weren't hitting very well, but just making contact.

    "We ended up scratching out a couple of runs here and there,” she said. “When she got injured and they had to pull her is when they were trying to keep things together, but it was really difficult for them."

    Trinity Head Coach Doug Sanchez said Tiger Pitcher Cynthia Sizemore was injured, and the backup pitcher didn’t mount much defense.

    Hill said the team is working to improve, with a goal of reaching the postseason. She said the offense usually begins clicking as games progress.

    "It is hard for us to start, but as time goes, we are piecing together hits here and there by the end of the game."

    The team is trying to get consistent play and "level out the bumps and trying to keep everybody on the same page" to improve. Coldspring's district record is 2-3 and tied for fourth place with Tarkington, which currently holds the tiebreaker in a win over the Lady Trojans.

    To this point, Coldspring has dropped district games to Onalaska, Tarkington and Hardin, while defeating Anderson-Shiro and Trinity. New Waverly is the top team in district and the Lady Trojans challenged them Tuesday to finish up the first round of league play.

    “We have a good fighting chance and hopefully things end up better on the second time through district."

    Sanchez touted Dayanara Martinez, who hit her first home run of the season during the game, and Dezi Galvan and Abby Crowton, who each go their first hits at the varsity level.

    Trinity heads to district play on Thursday against Onalaska.

  • Law enforcement seeks suspected ATM thieves

    KODAK Digital Still Camera     PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN JACINTO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE The entrance to the Timewise convenience store was damaged Feb. 23 after a group of men rammed it with a pickup truck in order to steal the ATM inside.

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — San Jacinto County law enforcement officers are seeking the identification of a group of men believed responsible for the Feb. 23 break-in at the Timewise Convenience Store near Shepherd.

    According to Detective Gary Sharpen of the SJ County Sheriff’s Office, police received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the store, which is located at 4700 US 59.

    Records show the clerk inside, who was not named, noticed a pickup truck that contained several African American males with hoodies, who then sped up and backed into the store, striking the ATM machine.

    “There were five to six black males wearing masks and gloves, and not wearing COVID masks,” he said. “They knew what they were doing — they had planned this out. This wasn’t something spur of the moment.”

    Sharpen said the clerk held their hands up throughout the robbery.

    The suspects loaded the ATM into the truck, which was identified as a stolen Dodge Ram 1500, and took off, heading into the town of Shepherd on Pine Street, reports indicate.

    Sharpen said a witness observed a bunch of debris on the roadway, and saw the pickup in the ditch, which apparently had crashed during its getaway. The witness saw males running around the vehicle, looking confused; however, the suspects had another car with them — a small dark colored 4-door vehicle — which picked up the suspects and fled the scene.

    The pickup truck, as well as several sets of gloves and masks, were recovered and are being processed for evidence. Additionally, the ATM was left in the back of the truck, and was recovered and turned over to the company that owns the ATM.

    Sharpen said the investigation is continuing, and anyone with information can call the Sheriff’s Office at (936) 653-4367 or the Multi-county Crime Stoppers at (936) 539-7867.

  • Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area (GALLERY)

    SanJacSnowFeb2021 7COURTESY PHOTO Frozen Texas yard ornament.

    News-Times staff

    The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and San Jacinto County came to a standstill on Monday.

    Schools have been closed at least through Tuesday; roads have been closed, and electric utilities have been forced to start rolling blackouts to stave off a larger blackout because of the huge demand put on the electric grid.

    The possibility of a second winter storm bearing down on the region exists as well.

    According to The Weather Channel, Winter Storm Uri spread brought heavy snow and damaging ice to parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast. Winter Storm Viola has already begun in the West and will be right behind #Uri, bringing significant snowfall totals to many across the country this week. It is expected to bring snow to many of the same locations currently being hit by Uri.

    Area road closures include:

    •Highway 190 Trinity River Bridge shut down

    •Highway 59 Trinity River Bridge heavy ice over roadway

    •FM 223 to Stringtown Road heavy ice over road

    •FM 1514 Heavy ice over the roadway

    •FM 1725 heavy ice

    •East Fork San Jacinto River Bridge on FM 495 heavy ice

    •FM 2025/FM 2666 to Highway 150 iced over

    •FM 946 South and Highway 156 iced over.

    According to the San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management, the low may lead to burst pipes, ruptured water mains and other serious damage to infrastructure.

    Snow and ice that accumulates will stick around until at least mid-week with temperatures remaining below freezing for extended period of time. More wintry precipitation may fall with another system behind the current one.

    TxDOT is encouraging motorists from traveling across the nine-county Lufkin District during the winter weather.

    As of Monday, the Lufkin District currently had 170 employees working 12-hour shifts to monitor and address trouble spots as they arise, utilizing more than 125 pieces of equipment. Pre-treatment of roadways began on Friday.

    “We want people to be aware that driving surfaces will freeze and we are doing all we can to prepare the roadways, but even with a brine mixture, if we experience the low temperatures they have predicted, roads will still freeze,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “I don’t think there is enough manpower to cover the more than 7,000 road miles in the Lufkin District with a brine mixture but we are doing our best. We have focused our attention on major roadways, state highways and farm roads, but we should remember that Mother Nature is and will always be undefeated. It is up to us to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves to stay safe.”

    Crews will re-treat all major roadways as needed if conditions continue to decline, since additional moisture will re-freeze road surfaces after the initial downfall of snow and ice.

    “Pre-treatment with a brine solution can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form,” Oaks said. “There will be patches of ice on local roads, even on roads that have been treated. If you must drive, motorists should reduce speed and stay alert. But because this is an unprecedented weather event, TxDOT is urging drivers to stay home and travel only if absolutely necessary.”

    Visit drivetexas.org (or call 800-452-9292) for real time road conditions/closures or call 911 if you find yourself stranded or facing an emergency. For more information, call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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  • San Jacinto Chamber celebrates cream of the crop (GALLERY)

    9TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Chamber of Commerce honored the top businesses and organizations in the area, as well as its own volunteers, at its annual banquet on Saturday.

    Chamber President Barbara Justice said that even though 2020 was an unprecedented year, the chamber and the county managed to make it through by learning to innovate.

    “We figured out how to social distance, how to mask, and all the other COVID-19 precautionary measures,” she said. “Zoom became our secondary method of meeting, and email became our primary mode of communication.”

    For the first time in memory, annual events were canceled; however, alternate arrangements were made for scholarships, however, Justice said.

    “We had various sponsors, and were still able to give scholarships for students,” she said.

    The first event attended in 2020 was the Christmas Parade, which was exciting as residents were able to get out of the house; there were more than 30 floats and more than 120 vendors, which put the town at max capacity, Justice said.

    In 2021, plans are to have more in-person events, including lunch-and-learn events held monthly, she said.

    Winners of the annual Best of Coldspring awards are:

    • Grand Business: Bullet Grill House, first; Brookshire Brothers, second; Sheco, third.
    • Large Business: The Mason Jar, first; Browders Marina and Store, second; Eastex Title Co., third.
    • Medium Business: Hilltop Ice House, first; People’s State Bank, second; Wolf Creek Air, third.
    • Small Business: Camp Jason RV Resort, first; Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique, second; and The Dam Liquor Stor, third.
    • Non-profit: American Legion Post 629, first; Republican Party of San Jacinto County, second; Heaven’s Army of Resources, third.
    • Volunteer of the Year: Barbara Creel, first, Michelle Haylock, second; Terry Holcomb, third.
    • Citizen of the Year: Phyliss Powdrill, first, Larissa Sustaita, second; Alvin Wyatt, third.
    • Lifetime Member Award: Kathleen E. Mathieu.
    • Board Member of the Year: Barbara Justice.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
    2
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
    3
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
    4
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
    5
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
    6
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
    10
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
    11
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
    12
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
    13
    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
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  • San Jacinto County Chamber celebrates new businesses

    032521 chamber rhjTONY FARKAS | SJNT Relson Gracie JiuJitsu celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Saturday.

    By Tony Farkas

    SHEPHERD — Three businesses new to the community were honored by the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce on Saturday, two with ribbon cuttings and one named Business of the Month.

    Fierce Nutrition, a store that specializes in nutritious smoothies, shakes and herbal teas, was named Business of the Month for March and April.

    032521 chamber fierceTONY FARKAS | SJNT Fierce Nutrition was named Business of the Month for March by the Greater Shepherd Chamber of Commerce.

    Texas Glam Girlz celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting, although owner Misty Slawson says they’ve been open since October.

    Slawson, who’s been a Shepherd resident most of her life, offers several different services: there’s a boutique that offers women’s and girls clothes, shoes and accessories; a tanning salon, which has tanning beds or spray tans available; and a dry cleaning business.

    032521 chamnber tggTONY FARKAS | SJNT Texas Glam Girlz celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting on Saturday.

    The grand opening was delayed, Slawson said, because of damage done to the building during the severe winter weather, requiring remodeling.

    Hours are from 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturdays.

    At Relson Gracie JiuJitsu, owner Bruce McKinzie said he’s been open eight months, but has been teaching for 10 years.

    He has been practicing the discipline for 16 years, but has been into martial arts for 38 years and holds multiple black belts. Currently, he has top belts in kenpo karate, taekwon do, jeet kune do, and kali, a Filipino martial art, to which he holds a rank of full instructor, the highest available.

    He also holds full instructor ranking for jeet kune do, a discipline started by Bruce Lee, having trained with Bruce Lee’s friend Ted Wong.

    McKinzie said he teaches jiujitsu because of his age and his retirement from competitive matches, and the art is less violent, but will teach other disciplines on a one-on-one basis.

    “What I teach kids is to be bully-proof,” he said. “I teach students not to fight if they don’t have to, but to control the situation and holler for a teacher.”

    Instruction is offered Monday through Thursday; kickboxing is from 6:15 - 7:15 p.m., children’s jiujitsu from 7:15 - 8 p.m.; and from 8 - 9 p.m. for adults.

    Fierce Nutrition is at 11104 TX 150 Suite 300, and can be reached at (832) 946-4615.

    Texas Glam Girlz is at 1281 S. Byrd Ave., and can be reached at (334) 429-0545.

    Relson Gracie JiuJitsu, next door to Fierce Nutrition, can be reached at (281) 387-8782.

  • San Jacinto County man injured in shooting

    San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department logo

    SJNT staff

    OAKHURST — A dispute between family members left an Oakhurst man injured, and his uncle arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

    Detective Sgt. Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting occurred after Charles Tubbs shot his nephew, Elem Wynne III, had an argument.

    Tubbs allegedly discharged a 12-gauge shotgun at Wynne, hitting him in the neck.

    According to reports, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Walker County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a shooting victim located at Bubba’s gas station located off US 190 in Walker County.

    Authorities found Wynne in the parking lot of Bubba’s convenience store in Dodge with an apparent gunshot wound to his neck. Walker County emergency personnel and a DPS trooper were dispatched, and the trooper provided medical aide while he questioned the victim, who said he was shot by his uncle who lives off Harrison Road in Oakhurst.

    Reports indicate Wynne drove away from his uncle’s house after the argument, and ended up at Bubba’s. After treatment at the scene, Wynne was LifeFlighted to Houston for treatment.

    In the meantime, San Jacinto County deputies arrived at Tubbs’ residence, where it was determined that Tubbs was standing outside when an unfamiliar pickup truck pulled into his driveway. Tubbs told police he was not familiar with the vehicle and could not see the driver or passenger.

    The driver’s window came down, and Tubbs and Wynne continued an ongoing family dispute, reports state. It was then Tubbs reportedly discharged his 12-gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot in the direction of the vehicle.

    Wynne was struck in the neck and face, and then drove away, reports state.

    Sharpen said Wynne’s condition was unknown, but emergency personnel at the scene were confident the injuries were not life-threatening.

    Tubbs was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. He currently is being held on an undisclosed bond.

    This case is still under investigation and will be forwarded to the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office for further review.

  • Save Our Seniors initiative starts in San Jacinto County

    031121 SOS 2EMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA | SJNT Sergeant Rachelle Thomas and her team of medics and administrators teamed up with the San Jacinto County’s Office of Emergency Management to keep the clinic running smoothly, with 105 doses administered in the first day.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
    SJNT Staff Writer

    COLDSPRING — Last week, San Jacinto County was the first of 26 counties in Texas to implement the Save Our Seniors vaccination program, meant to get the first round of the vaccine into the arms of the county’s older citizens.

    Volunteers, who have already been working to assist with distribution at the Brookshire Brothers, along with Army medics, worked side by side to administer the allotted 200 vaccines, with 105 doses of the Moderna vaccine being used in the first day at the Coldspring Emergency Shelter.

    Medics also drove around the county to give the first dose to those who are homebound, with officials in the Operations and Emergency Management office calling residents in the county to make sure they were aware of the free program.

    The initiative was originally intended for those 75 and older with an appointment, but volunteers moved to contact those 65 and older on the second day as to not waste any of the vaccines, which must be kept refrigerated.

    Among those assisting the San Jacinto County OEM office in distribution was Sgt. Rashelle Thomas and her team of certified medics and administrators, who are based out of Lufkin and will continue moving around East Texas to assist in distribution, including in Shelby and Panola county.

    “The volunteers and the town are awesome, and we just enjoy all the people we’ve gotten to work with,” she said.

    The county, which has been holding vaccination clinics through several outlets prior to last week’s event, claims luck had a small part to do with why the county was chosen as the first to pilot the program, which was put together in less than a week.

    “The first day was a little hectic, but we’ve had a steady flow of participants and it’s gone smooth,” SJ County Judge Fritz Faulkner, equipped with a mask, said. “This has really been a blessing.”

    Other factors, as stated on the governor’s website, include vaccination rates among seniors and total vaccine allocations over the past three months.

    Participants will need to return approximately three weeks after the first shot, as indicated on their form. Those who have received the vaccine are encouraged to continue wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing, as indicated on the CDC website.

    While the vaccine has been proven effective in reducing symptoms, specifically those that lead to hospitalization, it’s ability to reduce spread is still being monitored.

  • Severe storm leaves lingering cold temperature and questions

    022521 weather 2PHOTOS COURTESY OF FRITZ FAULKNER San Jacinto County Commissioner Laddie McAnally, County Judge Fritz Faulkner, and Brandon McClendon and Mike Flynn unload pallets of drinking water to be distributed throughout the county to those affected by Winter Storm Uri.

    By Tony Farkas

    San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner can’t really remember a time that winter was this bad.

    “It’s the worst winter weather I’ve seen in my life,” he said.

    However, Faulkner said the communities in the county pulled together nicely to get through it.

    “We opened up a warming center, but we didn’t have a lot of response to it, got about 14 out of the cold,” he said. “Most people prefer to stay home. The roads were in terrible shape because the highway department was overwhelmed.”

    Faulkner said the power companies did an outstanding job getting power restored as well, and as of Friday, all the county now has power.

    “Everyone is now at the stage of putting their water pipes back together,” he said. “In anticipation of that, I ordered a couple of truckloads of water from the state to pass out, divided between the four commissioner precincts.”

    Faulker said that food pantries were delivering food Friday and Saturday to people that needed it.

    Cassie Gregory, public information officer for Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD, said the district was not impacted by the weather, as it was taking the winter break.

    However, Shepherd ISD did close for the week, for weather and because the city of Shepherd issued a boil water notice in response to the storm.

    In a news release, Entergy Texas expected all customers who can safely take power were able to turn the lights on by the end of the business day on Friday.

    At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott, after issuing an emergency declaration for all Texas counties on Feb. 14, on Saturday announced that President Joe Biden approved a partial emergency declaration for Texas.

    San Jacinto County is among the 77 counties that will be eligible to receive federal aid.

    Additionally, Abbott temporarily waived regulations from the Department of Motor Vehicles to aid in the response to winter weather and power outages throughout the state.

    These waivers allowed commercial vehicles to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere and doing emergency response.

    These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.

    “As we continue to bring power and water back online throughout the state, it is essential that we deliver the food, water, and supplies that Texans need during these challenging times,” Abbott said. “These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency.”

    Since the Legislature is in session this year, Abbott added a mandate for the winterization of Texas' power system to the list of emergency items the state must tackle. 

    Abbott also requested a Major Disaster Declaration — which includes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program — from the White House. This declaration will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage.

    The state is also working to distribute food, water, generators, and additional supplies to Texas communities, and warming centers are established every day. For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit: https://open.texas.gov/winter

    Expressing concern about financial challenges Texans will face as a result of the winter storm, Abbott will address the need to ensure that Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market.

    The meeting include committee leaders, including Sen. Robert Nichols, who represents San Jacinto County.

    The Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees public utilities, prioritized natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order on Feb. 12, and recently extended it through Tuesday.

    This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

  • Students gather food

    041521 food drive 1 copyCOURTESY PHOTO Shepherd ISD FFA members participated in a food drive recently. Pictured are Madison Smith, president; Aulstin Baloy, treasurer; and Ashley Adams, secretary.

    Special to the News-Times

    SHEPHERD — The Shepherd FFA participated in the Seventh Annual Battle of the FFA's Canned Food Drive recently.

    In all, Shepherd FFA collected 1,360 pounds of donated goods, with Coldspring FFA collecting a total of 616 pounds.

    With the generous donations from San Jacinto County Farm Bureau, Bank of San Jacinto County, and McClain's Food Market, the overall total surpassed last year's donation with 3,234 pounds.

    All proceeds will be divided equally and donated to the Shepherd and Coldspring Senior Citizens Centers.

  • Trojans, Pirates begin playoff quests

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Duke Lawniczak (with ball) dribbles in the paint against Shepherd post Bradley Davis during a game between the Trojans and Pirates earlier this season. 

    By Jason Chlapek
    SJNT staff writer

    COLDSPRING — The road to San Antonio begins tonight and tomorrow night for the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd boys basketball teams, respectively.

    The Trojans, defending Region III-Class 3A champions, face Van Vleck at 6:30 p.m. today at Friendswood High School in a 3A bi-district contest. Coldspring (16-3) is the runner-up out of District 23-3A.

    The Pirates begin their playoff journey Friday when they face Lumberton at 7 p.m. at Warren High School. Shepherd (13-13) tied for third with Hamshire-Fannett, but is the No. 4 playoff seed out of 21-4A.

    The Trojans and Pirates are both limping into the postseason. Coldspring lost two of its last three contests, including a 58-54 setback at the hands of Anderson-Shiro in last week's regular season finale.

    Shepherd has lost three in a row, including a 65-40 defeat against district co-champion Huffman Hargrave in last week's regular season finale. Bradley Davis and Dillen Johnson led the Pirates with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Jared Curry (left) and Shepherd guard Christian Castillo chase down a loose ball during a game between the Trojans and Pirates earlier this season.