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San Jacinto County News

One upset, two defeats in local elections

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By Tony Farkas

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While most incumbents retained their seats, Mayor Pat Eversole of Coldspring has been unseated by challenger and Mayor Pro Tem John Benestante.

The two statewide propositions passed overwhelmingly, but only one of three bond issues for the Willis school district garnered approval.

Proposition 1, which will benefit individuals with an over-65 or disabled exemption on their property, passed 86.92 percent to 13.08, or 1,069,963 to 161,032.

The amendment will become effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Proposition 2 increases the homestead exemption by $15,000, and passed 84.84 percent 15.16 percent, or 1,058,511 to 189,087.

It is now effective, so homeowners will see the savings when they receive their property tax bill this fall.

  • In the Cleveland ISD election, incumbent Willie Carter won against LaDerrington Baldwin by a margin of 12 votes, or 43-31, for the Cleveland ISD Board of Trustees Position 4.

For Position 5, incumbent Amanda Sandoval Brooks won by more 2 to 1 votes to challenger Sharica Lewis, 56-23.

  • Willis ISD, which includes parts of San Jacinto County, had three bond issues on the ballot totaling $225 million on the ballot, all of which were defeated more than 3 to 1 within the districts in the county.

District-wide results were slightly different, as the measure for $143,045,000 in bonds for school improvements did pass. However, the  $62,565,000 in bonds for improvements to the athletic stadium, and $19,390,000 for a natatorium were defeated.

  • In Coldspring, Benestante defeated Eversole 64-26, or 71.11 percent to 28.89 percent.

Dianne Griffith ran unopposed for District 2 and Nichole Gatewood ran unopposed for District 4.

in the Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD races, incumbent Tony L. Sewell outlasted Roosevelt Joseph for Position 3 743-287. Incumbent Berlin Bradford ran unopposed.

  • A runoff election for state offices will be held May 24.

The races on that ballot include state offices only.

For those in the Democratic party, the ballot contains four races: Michelle Beckley and Mike Collier for lieutenant governor; Rochelle Mercedes Garza and Joe Jaworski for Attorney General; Angel Luis Vega and Janet T. Dudding for Comptroller of Public Accounts; and Sandragrace Martinez and Jay Kleberg for Commissioner of the General Land Office.

For Republicans, those races include: George P. Bush and Ken Paxton for Attorney General; Tim Westley and Dawn Buckingham for Commissioner of the General Land Office; and Sarah Stogner and Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner.

Early voting runs from May 16-20, and ballots can be cast from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Elections Administration Building in Coldspring.

On May 24, polls will be located at the Elections Administration Building, Shepherd Community Center, Evergreen Community Center in Coldspring, and County Precinct 4 Annex in Point Blank.

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Policing plan credited for drug arrest

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Deputy Sheriff Samantha Crenshaw, Sheriff Greg Capers and Sgt. Rodney Nash display the seized items the SO gathered following a traffic stop in Shepherd. Courtesy photoDeputy Sheriff Samantha Crenshaw, Sheriff Greg Capers and Sgt. Rodney Nash display the seized items the SO gathered following a traffic stop in Shepherd. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — San Jacinto County deputies made reality out of training, arresting two people on various charges and seizing more than $100,000 worth of methamphetamines.

Sheriff Greg Capers said the arrest is due to the policy of proactive policing the office recently instituted.

“Patrol vigilance is a term I like to use when describing the duties and responsibilities of our officers,” Capers said. 

In this particular case, Deputy Samantha Crenshaw, along with field training officer Sgt. Rodney Nash, were on patrol on Thursday and noticed an older model light blue Buick sedan in the parking lot of McClain’s Market in Shepherd that had an unreadable temporary license plate.

The deputies stopped the vehicle, and as Crenshaw approached, she noticed 37-year-old Amber Ford of Ratcliff, who appeared very nervous and upset. Nash approached the passenger, 36-year-old Lanny Walton of Huntington. 

Further investigation showed that the temporary plate was invalid and the vehicle registration had expired in 2014. Additionally, an arrest warrant for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon had been issued in Lufkin on Walton.

Based on the arrest warrant, the deputies searched the vehicle, an found approximately 2.83 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of more than $100,000, as well as a scale. Also, deputies found a loaded Glock 9 mm pistol that was later determined to have been stolen, and a 50 round Pro Max Drum magazine.

“The distribution of these life altering drugs into our community and beyond and a horrifying thought of a concealable semi-automatic handgun and a 50-round magazine is something that keeps my entire office on their toes,” Capers said.

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Robbery suspect killed

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CrimeScene road

Police shoot during high-speed chase

By Tony Farkas
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CLEVELAND — A robbery suspect who stole a vehicle and led police on a chase through three East Texas counties was killed after being shot by Cleveland police officers.

Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard said that the suspect, who was not identified pending notification of next of kin, went into Martin Chevrolet on West Southline Street brandishing a weapon and demanding a vehicle.

A salesperson managed to toss the suspect a set of keys, and the man took what was identified as a new model Chevy Equinox.

Police were in the area immediately, and a chase began north on U.S. 59, Broussard said.

San Jacinto County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Mark Gustafson said his department became involved when the chase entered San Jacinto County.

Deputies joined the pursuit, which continued into Polk County.

Gustafson said that the suspect lost control of the vehicle near FM 1988 on 59 east of Goodrich, slid into the median, then he reversed course and headed back south on 59.

The suspect went through Cleveland where he came to a construction zone south of Cleveland, and again tried to reverse direction. The vehicle traveled north for a bit, when Cleveland police officers were able to deflate the suspect’s tires, Gustafson said.

left vehicle and starting to run with a weapon in his hand.

police ran after, and then there was a discharge of weapons.

Broussard said the suspect then jumped from his vehicle and attempted to flee into a wooded area, and was carrying the weapon used in the robbery.

The suspect then turned toward the officers while he was holding the gun, and the officers fired on the suspect, Broussard said.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Ralph Fuller.

Broussard said that the officers, who also were not immediately identified, will be placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues.

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DETCOG seeks comments

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detcogSpecial to the News-Times

LUFKIN — The Deep East Texas Council of Governments is soliciting public review and comment on the proposed changes to the Housing Choice Voucher Program Administrative Plan, Annual PHA Plan and Revised Utility Allowances. 

DETCOG will receive written comments regarding the proposed changes during a 45-day public comment period through May 26, 2022. 

All written comments may be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., faxed to (844) 975-1212 or mailed to the following address: Deep East Texas Council of Governments, Attn: Housing Choice Voucher Program, 1405 Kurth Drive, Lufkin, TX 75904.

Copies of the proposed changes to either plan is available on the DETCOG Housing website at www.dethousing.org, or a copy may be requested by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by fax at (844) 975-1212 or by calling the DETCOG office at (936) 238-7771.

The DETCOG Housing Advisory Committee will discuss the proposed changes on Thursday, April 28, at 11 a.m. at the Windham Civic Center, 146 Express Blvd., in Center.

The Board of Directors for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments will meet on Thursday, May 26, at noon at Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center, 3805 NW Stallings Drive, Nacogdoches, to consider adopting proposed changes to the Administrative Plan, Annual PHA Plan and Revised Utility Allowances for the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

If you have any questions regarding the proposed policy changes, please call (936) 634-2247 extension 5262.

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Elvis is headed to Huntsville

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3 31 elvis

Special to the San Jacinto News-Times

Travis Powell, one of the nation’s foremost Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs), will perform at 4 p.m. on April 10 at the Huntsville Old Town Theatre at 1023 12th St. in Huntsville. The doors open at 3 p.m. Tickets run from $25-$40 apiece and may be purchased by visiting www.oldtowntheatre-huntsville.org or by calling 936-293-8681. “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” an all-female group, will be the special guest performers.

Powell has been winning ETA contests since grade school. While most toddlers were barely warbling their ABCs or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, by age four Powell had already zoned in on what he liked to do–and that was to sing Elvis songs.

“My mom was a music director and after (my parents) started playing Elvis for me, I apparently got up in the middle of a church service and started singing Love Me Tender,” Powell said.

From there, he started entering talent shows at school and church events, winning his way through childhood and adolescence. After a stint in Nashville to pursue a country music career, he returned to his roots, and to what he loves best–as Elvis once said, “It’s my favorite part of the business, live concerts.”

Describing what fans can expect at his show, Powell said, “They’re going to see me cover a couple of eras, the ‘68 special and an authentic tribute to the later years ... We’re gonna have fun, we’re gonna dance, relive the magic of Elvis in an authentic way, it’s going to be a good time.

“I know I’m not Elvis, but if we can go back in time and people can be transported and remember that feeling of actually watching Elvis, that’s what it’s all about. I just want to give everybody in that audience something to relate to. If I can do that, I feel like I’ve done Elvis proud,” Powell said.

And for those who like to get up close and personal with their favorite performer, Powell says he has never had a bad experience with a fan. “If a fan comes up and they are teary-eyed or emotional, then I feel like I’ve done my job. What I do when I go on stage is sort of go back in time and remember what it was like to be there … especially for the ones who never got to see him. They can get the feel of what it was like to see him in person.”

Like his idol, Powell is also involved in charitable endeavors. “I started the Travis Foundation in 2014, basically to help the poorer children’s homes in my hometown, whether it be Christmas presents, school supplies, food, tutors, schoolwork, just a bunch of things to help the kids in my hometown.”

When asked what his favorite Elvis song is, Powell said, “My Way, although it does sometimes change because I listen to a lot of Elvis songs.”

From performing with artists who actually performed with Elvis himself, such as the Sweet Inspirations, to playing in venues where Elvis once played, Powell has strived to provide the most all-encompassing show possible. “We’ve got a great band, great costumes,” Powell promises.

“I just want to be the most authentic Elvis and express the love I have for him,” Powell said, adding, “It’s been a fun ride.”

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