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  • Everything old is new again

    image 2After being spotted by Buc-ee’s management at his Highway 19 shop and collection, Jimmy Cochran was commissioned to create display vehicles to use at various Buc-ee’s, the first of which is still displayed in the store in Ennis.

    By Tony Farkas

    Jimmy Cochran’s passion gives him such a great sense of anticipation that he relishes getting up each morning.

    That passion is restoring vintage vehicles, something he grew up with and continued throughout his life.

    The 71-year-old Cochran was in the used car business for many years, and he turned that experience into his hobby.

    “I’m semi-retired; I had a dealer’s license from 1978 to 2018,” he said. “I gave up the license, but not the love. The car collection became another business, where people either use them as backdrops or purchased them.

    “I like all old cars, but my real passion is for pre-war, wartime and post-war models — 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s,” he said. “They have the most unique body designs. I’m a ‘49 model, and that’s the reason I like those years.”

    Cochran said he grew up around cars — especially the older ones.

    “My father was a tractor mechanic by trade; we never could afford a new car, so I’ve been around used cars all my life,” he said. “I’ve always liked the old cars — I’ve had the passion since was I was a kid. I see potential in every one of them.

    “When I get it in the shop, I start dragging things in that will go with it,” he said. “I’ve only had one that I couldn’t figure out what to do with, and I traded that off. I’m a hands-on guy.”

    Even as a child, he had the bug. Starting out with four-wheel scooters, he began his foray into rebuilding and refurbishing vehicles.

    “I had a scooter, one someone gave me when I was in junior high school. I overhauled the engine, painted it, ran it all over the place,” he said

    The next step

    A 1936 Dodge 500 Business Coupe park ed on his lot northwest of Trinity about 10 years ago was the key to the start of his new venture of restoring old vehicles.

    “I kept (the Dodge) parked here, and it started drawing people to it,” Cochran said. “Those people would then ask me if I knew about this old car in the woods or over there in a barn, and I would go a check it out. Next thing you know, I’m dragging stuff in here left and right.

    Image 1One of several projects Jimmy Cochran is working on is a 1927 Ford Model T Coupe.

    “These cars are like a magnet drawing people in off the road; I have met people from other countries because of these old cars,” he said. “As a matter of fact I had a young couple in their 30s stop here, they were from Scotland. They had flown over here, got a rental car at the airport and drove around sightseeing, had a big time. They got around here, and did a U-turn and hung out with me, talking and taking pictures, and two hours later, they told me that out of all of the traveling they’ve done, hanging out with me was the highlight of their trip.”

    Cochran is not hung up on any particular model, and not on any particular vehicle; it would be like trying to choose a favorite song.

    “There’s something to love about each and every one,” he said. “I still like the old engines like the flathead V8. They’re just nostalgic — they sound bad, but there’s nothing bad about them. And it’s not just the sound, but the feel, the smell, everything.

    “You won’t see anyone using the current cars in 40 or 50 years, but you can take one of these old cars out of a field, and if they’ll turn over, they’ll run.”

    One of his first pieces was pulled out of a field with chin-high weeds; Cochran said he made it run again under its own power, and then started driving it to car shows. However, restoring a vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean creating a pristine piece.

    Cochran prefers that many of his pieces retain the patina of rust and age, and he’ll clear-coat on top of it to preserve that look — wanting it to look like it just came off the farm. He also likes to do most of the work on the vehicles, but does hire out the glasswork and pinstriping, as well as some of the welding.

    “I’ve sold them for people to advertise with, and I’ve rented them for people to advertise with, and I’ve now got people who call me when they find something, and if I get something good from it, I’ll give them a $100 bill. It keeps them looking,” he said.

    Famous finds

    Cochran’s cars attracted more than just people, it attracted a manager with the Buc-ee’s organization who happened to be driving by the lot.

    “He told me I have some stuff they need,” Cochran said. “He said they redo the old trucks to use as displays inside of a store. He looked around at what I had, and had me get together with someone who was rebuilding them. We met, and they picked out four trucks — two 46 Fords, a 49 Studebaker and a 49 Chevrolet.”

    Cochran was given an opportunity to build one on his own, and he went to work. An old parts truck was on the lot, and he began work. Eight months later, when the Buc-ee’s people came to pick it up, Cochran said “his mouth flew open like a two-bit suitcase.”

    The first one built is in the Ennis store, and the latest one is going to a new store that is scheduled to open in Georgia.

    “They were real pleased, and told me to get to work on the next one,” he said.

    Those builds, Cochran said, are not typical; the work is mostly cosmetic. There is no engine, or even axles, leaf springs or rear ends; the inside is redone, the bed and hood are repaired and painted, and the whole piece is mounted on heavy casters to allow it to be moved around.

    Barrels are used to mimic wheels; those are used to house display items such as small stuffed beavers sold by the stores.

    And if there’s no parts laying around, that’s OK; items such as shaving brushes, barrels, picnic tables and other items not necessarily car-related are repurposed into bed material, running boards, and even shifter knobs.

    It’s a process Cochran plans to continue as long as possible.

    “I like it so much I can’t wait to get in here in the morning,” he said. “I need to get out here and do something with these cars.”

    image 3Jimmy Cochran, a longtime car dealer and a lifetime car enthusiast, has a 1949 Ford Police Cruiser prominently displayed at his lot on Highway 19 north of Trinity. Cochran has a passion for cars and trucks from the 1930s to the 1950s, and if you make an appointment, you can travel down memory lane with his antiques.

  • On the rebound

    022521 weather 4PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Wayne Byers spreads a compound to help melt ice and snow.

    By Tony Farkas

    From rescheduling certain sporting events to clearing roads of dangerous conditions, workers at local, county and state levels as well as possible, given the nature of the weather event that shut the area down last week.

    Trinity City Manager Steven Jones called the weather last week unprecedented, and while water pressure was a problem at first, it was handled within a matter of hours.

    “The Trinity water system is up and running,” he said. “Other than people having personal problems, all is good with us. Our system was prepared for this; what happened was a mechanical function, a pump, which was repaired within a couple of hours, and a pipe burst which was fixed right away.”

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Apple Springs resident and neighbor Dreux Land distributes some water to the folks in Groveton who are still without. Good neighbors and great citizenship are what help make this a wonderful place to live.

    The city wells did perform, and any lapse in service was because of problems with Trinity River Authority equipment.

    Throughout the county, TxDOT scraped roads and applied a compound to melt the ice.

    Groveton Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett was out as long as possible each day, helping where he could, and inspecting streets for signs of water breaks.

    There was a major line break and Fourth and Crow streets, and Bennett asked residents to call the city if they suspect there are more water leaks.

    All area of town should have water restored by Wednesday, he said.

    Area schools from Apple Springs to Trinity went to remote learning and were closed for the week, although in Groveton, the school was on its winter break and only had to cancel some sporting events.

    Apple Springs Superintendent Cody Moree said he decided Feb. 12 to switch to remote learning for two days in light of forecasts, and then extended it through Monday.

    “Our greatest concern was for our students and families who spent extended time without power, heat and water,” Moree said. “But we are looking forward to getting back to face to face learning ASAP.”

    Centerville Superintendent Mark Brown also closed the campus, and while the first two days featured remote learning, the district will file an inclement waiver with the state to excuse the remaining three days.

    Trinity ISD was closed through Tuesday, and was to resume classes Wednesday, according to Superintendent John Kaufman.

    022521 weather 3PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Keith Rogers uses a front-end loader to remove snow and ice near the intersection of Main and FM 355 in Groveton.

    Other than two small water line breaks, there was minimal damage to the facilities, he said.

    The biggest obstacle, though, was delays in the delivery of food and milk to the cafeteria, and drinkable water was in high demand and short supply. 

    “We could have opened the district on Monday, but we have many students and staff members who are still without water, and I wanted to give our community and staff a few more days to try and recover,” Kaufman said. “This was a very damaging storm to our community and effected everyone in our town. The school district is very aware of the needs of our families and want to be very sympathetic to their concerns. I would like to thank the community for being patient and working with us as we try and navigate through these difficult times.”

    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.

    FEMA added 33 Texas counties to the list on Monday, but Trinity County was not included at that time.

    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.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Trinity County Judge Doug Page looks on as Apple Sprints resident helps some of the waterless victims of Groveton with a helping hand, distributing free water to those who are in need.

    “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.

  • Opinion - It was the insanest of times, or something

    tony farkasTony Farkas file photo

    Having been through quite a lot of elections in my decades of newspaper work, I have to say that this year’s was without a doubt the strangest.

    Only one other time that I can recall has an election been held where a winner wasn’t immediately known was the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. You know, the one that ended a month later after a series of lawsuits.

    (If you don’t recall, look up “hanging chads” on the interweb.)

    So here we are 20 years later, and it was, as Aerosmith sez, “same old story, same old song and dance, my friend.”

    For purposes of this column, though, I’m not about the winner. I’m talking about the process, and what seems to be the new same old story.

    If you noticed anything about the election this year, you noticed that there was very little substance provided by the candidates — for every race. There was no discussion about plans, no debate about the future, not one idea or way of thinking was put forth to give us an indication of what the future would hold.

    My sister-in-law, who is liberal as the day is long, and myself, who really really is not, agree on this, which is rare as hens’ teeth.

    I see it like this: Politics nowadays is like NFL teams, with the presidential election being like the Super Bowl. However, it’s become about the teams deciding who should be the quarterback, talking about stats and the big game from years ago.

    What’s missing from this show is a game plan and, well, the actual gameplay. It’s just the two teams hollering at each other and their own teams, completely caught up in their own world.

    The other thing that’s missing from this equation is the fans. Or, in the world of politics, the people.

    These two bantamweights were arguing about who did what when, how they could have done it better, pointing out scandals and missed opportunities, and generally being disagreeable for months. There was nothing about things that need to matter — like actually playing and winning the game.

    I didn’t hear how either of the candidates would fix the nation’s problems that they’re actually supposed to care about. They’re supposed to do things about the pesky $20 trillion debt that’s handing over the heads of the taxpayers for centuries. They’re supposed to care about trillion-dollar deficits, about the borders, about, well, the people they’re pretending to represent.

    Us fans, or constituents, if you will, are mostly if not all to blame for this, because we let this happen. The difference here, though, is that if we were only NFL fans, we can leave the stadium and never come back, never buy another ticket or a piece of swag.

    With this country, though, it really doesn’t matter who is the winner; both teams will have their hands in our pockets and take more and more, all the while telling us it’s our patriotic duty to fund every scheme and plan that will just make our lives rosy and unicorns and puppies. It’s government that being done to us, not of, by or for us.

    See, we’ve become, in the manifest destiny of our country, the cardboard cutouts filling the stands, there only to give the players, our elected representatives, something to provide a sense of why they’re competing.

    We need to be more than that. We need to take back control, since that’s how this country was supposed to work. It’s gonna be tough, and will take a lot of time — it took decades to get to this point — but I truly believe that we need to be the ones in charge, not the elite few in Washington, D.C.

    We’re near a tipping point, and if we get a government that controls — not just regulates — all the aspects of our lives, it will mean the end of the American dream, in my view, since once a government gets power, it never gives it back, and since it has the power to give it to you, it has the power to take it away.

    I hope this election, if nothing else, opened a few eyes to the trap we’re about to step in.

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

  • The jihad against the truth continues unabated

    tony farkasFILE PHOTO Tony Farkas

    “It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. And only yesterday (…) it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it. …” — George Orwell, “1984”

    It’s long been understood by tinpot dictators, socialists and pretty much everybody that if you control information, you control society.

    Propaganda was a key ingredient in Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. He even had a director that made sure the precise message was delivered.

    I’m not at this point equating this country to pre-World War II Germany, nor am I calling anyone fascists.

    I am, however, expressing my dismay at the state of the news media, especially at the national level. There are many times, and it’s growing in frequency, that I lament my chosen profession has become a parody of itself, choosing to embrace access instead of objectivity and celebrity instead of credibility.

    But I led off with the Orwell quote because something alarming came across my radar last week, and it frankly chilled me. I wouldn’t even deny being gobsmacked.

    According to numerous outlets, as well as the paper itself, the Boston Globe is starting what it calls the Fresh Start Initiative. It will allow people to petition the paper to have stories published by the newspaper and placed on the website edited to remove names, add updated information or have it removed from Google searches.

    The reasoning is to allow people to craft a future without the baggage of the past interfering.

    Other outlets, such as the Washington Post and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, are doing the very same things.

    Now let’s be clear here. It’s not like the newspapers are changing the events — yet. What’s happening is supposedly designed to help people move on without the baggage of a past arrest. Yet that’s not what happened in the case of Vice President Kamala Harris.

    The Post heavily edited a story in which Harris made a quote — which was not incorrect or wrongly reported — that portrayed the then-candidate for president in a bad light. The Post waved its magic wand and changed the story.

    It wasn’t until it was noticed and written about in Reason Magazine that the Post put the original story back up. However, the edited version remained, and the reader was given a choice of which way to go.

    As with the stories and posts about arrests, what Harris did was news, and was reported correctly. That is not up for dispute. But much as Winston Smith was changing headlines to make a news piece about chocolate rations positive, so is this trend.

    In the cases of arrests, I fully believe that finishing the story is right, and if a suspect is exonerated, it should be written about. That’s just good, responsible journalism, and that’s following the story to its conclusion.

    But changing the original should never be done, for one simple reason — it’s still the truth.

    This profession, or trade if you will, at its core is about the truth. We present the information, and it’s up to the reader to decide what to think about it. Sure, we have opinion pages (like where this column is), but that is clearly marked and its clearly understood that a column is the opinion of the writer.

    When that creeps into a story, or when stories and events in those stories are erased or changed based on nothing more than it hurts someone’s feelings, that’s really not how journalism works.

    Most parents will agree that children are taught that actions have consequences. If the action is egregious enough, it’s a distinct possibility it will end up in a news report, and that is assuredly a consequence.

    But whitewashing a truth is no benefit. And it’s not journalism.

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