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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Shepherd city council handles property issues

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City Of ShepheardBy Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — The Shepherd City Council handled a variety of issues related to property at its regular meeting on Jan. 12.

The council approved sending out its inspector to 220 Jill Street, and once done, will take up a variance request regarding a manufactured home.

Additionally, the council approved a replat for dividing property for Walter Vaquero on 111 Cronin Road, who is splitting the property to sell 1.67 acres.

Council members also gave conditional approval to Dale and Trisha Francisco for placing a new mobile home at Fourth and Hill; the two were instructed to get letter from nearby property owner, and if they were OK with the placement, the variance would be granted.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said the council will get the city engineer to look at drainage for the Biddle Development on South Byrd Avenue. She said there is concern about drainage since the development will be smaller homes for rent.

Action on the development will be tabled until March.

In other business, the council:

•approved bids for sale of equipment — $700 for a Kubota mower and $325 for a 1996 Chevy truck, both to Timmy Richardson;

•adopted a resolution for TxDOT maintenance on state roads in the city;

•agreed to upgrade street lights in town to LED;

•honored City Attorney Larry Foerster, who is retiring after practicing for 50 years; and

•set a workshop for Tax Investment Reinvestment Zones for March 18.

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Lunch made special by recipe recreation

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didya LunchJim and Gayle Booth, Sen. Charles Schwertner and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick at the Reagan dinner. 

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadWomen’s League had a special guest at the February lunch. Stephanie Manley returned to bring everyone up to date on her fascinating website called CopyKat.com.

Dedicated to recreating restaurant recipes at home, it allows users to replicate their favorite dishes from popular restaurant chains.

Stephanie also has a food blog and likes to provide helpful tips and tricks for achieving restaurant quality results. She has been doing this for many years and has followers using her site all over the world.

Items include appetizers and main courses to desserts and beverages. She said she started to cook when she was 4 years old. Her mother is Judy Chatham, who is a VP on the Board of the Women’s League and Judy may have something to do with this creative urge.

Next month the guest speaker will be Joseph Green, assistant superintendent of State Parks in Texas.

The annual Style Show will be on April 11, watch out for more details and tickets coming on sale.

•Coldspring Community Center will hold a garage sale fundraiser on Feb. 24 from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. They need donations. If you have anything you would like to give for this sale (it’s a good time to clear out closets), you can drop them off at the center Monday through Friday till 4 p.m.

Call Connie at (817) 846-9460 or the Community Center at (936) 433-6783. If you need items picked up, call to make arrangements. The center has done a lot of work on the inside of the building but now needs to do some major work on the outside.

•The Reagan Dinner which was featured last week in this paper was a huge success. There were many individuals who were able to have their photos taken with the main speakers and I was told that they were very generous with their time making sure everyone who wanted a photo had one.

•Last week also had guest speaker Freddie Palmer at Coldspring Garden Club, who gave a great talk on growing Pecans. He has a Facebook page, ‘Palmer Pecans’ and lives in Coldspring. Call him at (936) 377-5477.

•SJC Senior Center has sold out of tickets for the Talent Show. To be held on Feb. 24, this promises to be a great night out. The Senior Center will celebrate Mardi Gras with gumbo for lunch this week and Valentine’s Day will also be special, more of that next week.

•Best wishes to DJ Ken Janik who is still recuperating after his fall.

•First State Bank in Shepherd will soon see a wedding for one of their staff. Kristen Minatrea has promised to send me photos. Kristen was on the Chamber Board for a while till her life became very busy.

Shepherd Police Chief Clint Headley gave me some details of a story which was mentioned in this paper, but I thought some of the details were worth writing about here. On Feb. 5, Polk County deputies tried to stop a suspicious vehicle but the driver sped off and fled toward San Jacinto County. They came into Shepherd and ended up in the parking lot of the Annex on Loop 424.

This of course is where Shepherd Municipal Court meets so it seems only fitting this is where the suspects ended up. Chief Headley said that he suspected the men involved were responsible for recent burglaries in our town.

Sheriff Lyons of Polk County and Lt. Finegan went with him to the storage impound lot where the vehicle was taken. It was filled with stolen tools. The chief knew of two residents who had tools stolen. The first one he accompanied was able to recover some of his items. The chief hopes the second one will also be able to find some of his tools.

Because of the successful outcome of this chase and capture and the cooperation between law enforcement departments, Shepherd Council will honor Sheriff Lyons, Corporal Thurston and all deputies involved during their March meeting.

Contact the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce at (210) 995-7420 or the Coldspring Chamber at (936) 653-2184.

Yvonne Cones is president of the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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No CWD at Kerr after all

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In early January, TPWD received notice from the National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa that a sample from a 14-month-old whitetail buck at the Kerr WMA submitted for CWD testing was “not confirmed.” The sample had previously been confirmed as “suspect positive” by two other labs. TPWD euthanized the facility’s entire research herd of 89 animals prior to confirmation by the national lab. TPWD PhotoIn early January, TPWD received notice from the National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Ames, Iowa that a sample from a 14-month-old whitetail buck at the Kerr WMA submitted for CWD testing was “not confirmed.” The sample had previously been confirmed as “suspect positive” by two other labs. TPWD euthanized the facility’s entire research herd of 89 animals prior to confirmation by the national lab. TPWD Photo

TPWD euthanizes research facilitydeer herd prior to confirmation by national lab test

By Matt Williams
Outdoors Writer

Just when you thought the story behind the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a penned deer at Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Kerr Wildlife Management Area’s 23-acre research facility couldn’t get any more unfortunate, it did.

The good news is the 14-month old buck that tested “suspect positive” for CWD last fall was not infected with the disease after all. The bad news is TPWD staff opted to euthanize the facility’s entire research herd before the test results were confirmed by the National Veterinary Service Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

Here’s what happened, according to TPWD reports:

Suspect Positive

= Not Confirmed

Last October, samples were collected from the buck during ante-mortem (live) testing performed at the Kerr. The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (WVDL) in Madison processed the sample. The test revealed suspect positive results that were subsequently confirmed by the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab (TVMDL) in College Station.

 Following federal regulations, the WVDL forwarded the suspect-positive sample to the NVSL for confirmatory testing. The NVSL received postmortem samples of the suspect positive deer on Nov. 28, according to John Silovsky, TPWD’s wildlife division director.

On Jan. 4, TPWD received notice from the NVSL that the suspect positive results were “not confirmed.” The notice came as a huge surprise and a sickening disappointment to TPWD, all wrapped into one.

The surprise is that the TVMDL has submitted hundreds of samples to NVSL for CWD confirmation, and TPWD wildlife staff can’t recall a single one coming back unconfirmed.

 “TVMDL has submitted more than 600 samples to NVSL for confirmation,” said Silovsky. “I can’t recall a time when TPWD has not received confirmation from NVSL following a suspect immunohistochemistry positive result. It is an extremely rare occurrence to not receive confirmation.”

 The disappointing part is that TPWD euthanized the facility’s research herd — 38 bucks, 36 does and 15 fawns — based on a presumptive outcome of testing rather than waiting until testing on the suspect positive sample was confirmed by the national lab.

Silovsky defended the decision to depopulate the Kerr WMA herd without confirmation from the national lab. He says it was the responsible thing to do.

 “The department felt it was essential to immediately eliminate the likelihood of amplifying any disease threat within the Kerr facility,” he said. “Additionally, that proactive measure reduced the risk of potentially transmitting CWD to the surrounding WMA and neighboring landowners.

A Hot Potato

TPWD has depopulated 13 breeding facilities since 2015 resulting in the demise of several thousand deer based on suspect positive confirmations of CWD from the national lab in Iowa. Roughly 260 of those animals have tested CWD positive in postmortem testing, according to Alan Cain, TPWD’s big game program leader.

Not surprisingly, TPWD’s depopulation orders and other CWD management policies have become controversial hot potatoes met with strong opposition more than once. And the potatoes are showing no signs of cooling off.

Some contend the state’s CWD restrictions are so badly over blown they threaten a $1.6 billion deer breeding industry, hurt real estate values and have a negative impact on deer hunting in general. At least one lawsuit is currently pending against the state agency.

 Adding salt to the wound at the Kerr WMA is the fact TPWD had already been criticized for blowing what some perceived as a golden opportunity for CWD research by euthanizing all of the deer, and erasing nearly 50 years of research, rather than using the existing herd and double-fenced acreage as a place to learn more about the disease.

 According to Silovsky, the facility does not have the necessary biosecurity measures in place to conduct research with CWD positive animals.

 Located in Kerr County, the research facility was built in 1974. TPWD says the herd has been instrumental in learning nutritional, age and genetic relationships in deer. It has also supported wild deer herd management activities, outreach programs, trainings and the development of antler regulations across the state.

TPWD says deer were not routinely moved into or out of the facility after the initial stocking. Seven bucks from Central Texas were introduced to the facility in 2007, along with two fawns from the Kerr WMA in 2010, according to Ryan Reitz, project leader at the Kerr WMA.

 Reitz said the facility was double fenced in 2022 to prevent nose-to-nose contact of deer outside the entire facility, as well other ruminants and feral swine. The property sits adjacent to the 6,400-acre Kerr WMA, where public hunting is allowed through the state’s drawn hunt program.

Questions Raised

The hasty depopulation of the Kerr’s valuable deer herd doesn’t look good on TPWD, no matter how you spin it. The incident also has raised questions about CWD testing methods and the accuracy of those tests.

Nor did it look good when TPWD staff met with nearly a dozen key constituents on Jan. 18 to discuss CWD management strategies, but made no mention that the NVSL test had been returned as not confirmed roughly two weeks earlier. Instead, TPWD announced the finding in a press release that went out the very next day.

Silovsky offered several reasons as to why the information about the “not confirmed” test result was not disclosed to constituents representing the Texas Deer Association, Safari Club International, Texas Trophy Hunters Association and others during the Thursday afternoon meeting in San Antonio.

“The full Commission, nor all the staff had not yet been informed of the test results from NVSL,” Silovsky said. “The confirmation of the ante-mortem presumptive positive detection did not come up in the conversation. The discussion on the Kerr focused on what research opportunities may still be available and if any of the staff would be affected by not having deer in the research facility.”

 Texas Deer Association Executive Director Kevin Davis attended the meeting. Davis, a retired TPWD game warden, said he was surprised by the timing of the announcement of the not confirmed test result, but was thankful for the opportunity to discuss CWD management strategies.

 “I prefer to look forward, as we spent a significant amount of our time in the meeting discussing a pathway other than CWD zones for managing the disease in Texas,” Davis said. “Simply put, zones are no longer necessary to manage CWD as many new tools have become available since zones were established in 2012. All CWD management strategies can be utilized without any current or new zones.”

David also believes CWD zones place a negative label on land.

“Since their establishment, no zone has ever been removed,” he said. “Zones negatively affect real estate values, they harm landowners, they harm hunters, and they hurt recruitment of hunters and hunting opportunity. TPWD chose not to implement a zone at the Kerr WMA. They chose to continue public hunts, they kept hunter harvest sampling in place, and they chose to implement carcass handling rules. These practices were implemented without a zone. I am encouraged this approach can be applied across Texas, and we can stop the unnecessary labeling of land and protect hunting heritage for all Texans.”

About CWD

CWD is a prion disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and other tissues of farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention.

It may take over a year before an infected animal develops symptoms which can include drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness and other neurologic signs. There are no known treatments or cures.

Scientists believe the disease is spread between animals through body fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine, either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food or water.

 CWD was first found in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. It has been documented in captive and free-ranging deer in 30 states and in Canada.

The first case in Texas was discovered in 2012 in a free-ranging mule deer in West Texas, according to TPWD. For more information on previous detections in Texas and current management practices for hunters and landowners, visit TPWD’s CWD page.  For more information about the Kerr WMA and research projects visit Kerr WMA web page.

 Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Luttrell introduces Jalisco Cartel Neutralization Act

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to the News-Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, has introduced the Jalisco Cartel Neutralization Act in the House of Representatives.

This legislation would require the Department of Defense to establish a strategy to kill or capture Jalisco cartel leadership and provide a report to Congress on their progress. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

“Our border is being exploited by cartels, as they run one of the most extensive human and drug trafficking operations in the world, leaving no corner of our country untouched by the danger of cartel activity,” Luttrell said. “The Jalisco cartel, the most dangerous criminal organization in Mexico and second most powerful drug cartel, must be identified and dismantled in order to safeguard the American people.”

The legislation makes clear that the Jalisco cartel cannot remain emboldened at the border and that the United States military must be ready to engage and eliminate the Jalisco cartel, should it be determined the best course of action is to use the Armed Forces of our great country.”

“Mexican drug cartels continue to kill Americans at a rate higher than any terrorist group in history,” Cotton said. “Even by the standards of drug cartels, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is especially violent and poses a direct threat to the security of Americans in border states and beyond. It’s past time that the Biden administration develops a strategy to hold these murderers accountable.”

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel is headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (“El Mencho”), one of the world’s most-wanted drug lords. The cartel is primarily known for drug trafficking, specifically cocaine and methamphetamine.

The cartel has also been known to cannibalize some of its victims, as well as using drones and rocket-propelled grenades to attack its enemies.

As of 2020, the Jalisco cartel is considered to be the most dangerous criminal organization in Mexico and the second most powerful drug cartel in Mexico after the Sinaloa Cartel. It is heavily militarized and more violent than other criminal organizations.

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Early voting starts Tuesday

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EarlyVoting3

SJNT staff

Early voting in the March 5 primary election begins Tuesday.

The November 2024 election is a presidential election, and candidates have thrown their hat in the ring for that race, as well as the U.S. Senate seat held by Ted Cruz and numerous U.S. House positions.

Also on the ballot will be candidates for Texas House District 18.

Seeking the GOP nod for the U.S. Senate are incumbent Ted Cruz, Holland “Redd: Gibson and R.E. (Rufus) Lopez. For Democrats, Colin Allred, Roland Gutierrez, A. “Robert” Hassan, Steven J. Keogh and Thierry Tchenko seek the nod, the winner to face the GOP candidate in November 2024.

Incumbent Republican Morgan Luttrell is seeking re-election for U.S. House District 8 and is running unopposed in the primary. Democrat Laura Jones is seeking the nomination unopposed.

In the State Representative District 18 race, incumbent Ernest Bailes faces challenges from fellow GOP members Janis Holt and Stephen Andrew Missick. No Democrats have filed for the seat.

In the race for Sheriff, incumbent Greg Capers and Constable Sam Houston have filed for the Republican nomination.

No Democrats have filed for election in any county race.

County Tax Assessor-Collector incumbent Betty Davis is running unopposed.

In the County Commissioner Precinct 1 race, the GOP candidates are Laddie McAnally (incumbent), Tim Fulcher, Luke Sweeney and Cheri Sewell Walker.

For County Commissioner Precinct 3, GOP candidates are Richard Arrendell, Billy Burchett, Carson Combs, Crystal Dominy, James “Butch” Moody and Keith Pinkston.

For County Constable Precinct 1, Republican candidates are Rae Lynn Phillips, Lonnie Thomas and Derek Wilkie.

County Constable Precinct 2 GOP candidates are Ray Atchley (incumbent), Emmitt Lemar Eldridge II, Kevin Freed, Dale Lowery and Peter Sparta.

County Constable Precinct 4 GOP candidates are Brian Cosme and Lou Rogers.

Early voting can be done at the Elections Administration, 51 E. Pine Ave., in Coldspring.

Voting times will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Feb. 23; Feb. 24 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 25 from 1-7 p.m.; and Feb. 26-March 1 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Applications for ballots by mail must be received no later than the close of business Feb. 23 at Early Voting Clerk 51 E Pine Ave., Rm A-1 Coldspring, TX 77331.

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