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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Luttrell in favor of border security measure

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to the News-Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas 8, the Vice Chair of Border Security and Enforcement Subcommittee on the Homeland Security Committee, lauded the House passing the Secure the Border Act.

However, he lamented Democratic resistance to the measure.

“I am proud to have helped craft and voted for the Secure the Border Act that will take back control of our borders, establish crucial immigration policies, and make our country safe again,” Luttrell said. “It is unfortunate that rather than addressing one of the most important issues to Americans, my colleagues across the aisle railed against legislation that would secure President Biden’s open border, which has led to a fentanyl crisis, attempted crossings by terrorists, and unchecked child exploitation. While the Biden Administration and Democrats continue to be extraordinarily unserious about the border crisis, House Republicans are delivering on our promise to secure our border and keep Americans safe.”

Luttrell and his Republican colleagues on the Committee on Homeland Security traveled to McAllen for a field hearing on the border crisis where he heard testimonies from Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Texas Department of Public Safety, Kinney County Sheriff, and National Border Patrol Council.

In April, CHS also heard testimony from Secretary Mayorkas. During this hearing, Luttrell challenged Mayorkas about the ongoing fentanyl crisis that has been exacerbated by the Administration’s open border policies, while having two parents in attendance who have lost children to drug overdoses.

The legislation passed today included provisions specifically drafted by Congressman Luttrell:

•Publication by CBP of operational statistics — Requires Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to report Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) hits and whether the individuals were released into the interior of the United States, in addition to reports on got-away numbers.

•Report to Congress on terrorist crossings — Requires a report to Congress detailing which terrorist organizations are attempting to exploit the northern, southern, and maritime borders to get their members in.

Morgan Luttrell represents District 8, which includes San Jacinto County, in the Texas Legislature.

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Resident urges county to beef up SO

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — In light of the recent mass killings in San Jacinto County, residents came to the San Jacinto County Commissioners Court looking to have the Sheriff’s Office fully staffed.

George Deeter said that while all the accolades were to be given to the Sheriff’s Office for the arrests in the catastrophe that occurred, they need to be fully staffed and equipped.

“You have tasked the Sheriff in covering 700 square miles of the county, but have not provided the necessary funds for the Sheriff’s Office to have a full staff,” he said.

Deeter said he was fearful during the manhunt because he was not sure where the suspect was going to land.

However, court officials told Deeter that the office had the funds available to be fully staffed, and had the paperwork to back it up, but there was a hiring problem statewide.

Deeter said there has to be a way to make people interested in working for the Sheriff.

“Between the five of you sitting up there, and with the county and the residents, we need to solve this,” he said.

Commissioner Donnie Marrs said that the hiring shortage was due to people not wanting to work as police due to the way they are treated, and that, combined with shortage in proper equipment, including vehicles, leave people demoralized.

In other business, the court:

•approved a bid of $43,300 on the sale of several lots of land owned by the county;

•approved the bond renewal for Jaclyn Williams;

•approved a lot split in the Tomiko Brown survey for J. Moore;

•approved seeking bids for an asphalt grinder/reclaimer for Precincts 1 and 3; and

•approved seeking bids for a Maxxum tractor.

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Incumbents big winners in election

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election resultsBy Tony Farkas

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City and school board elections held Saturday saw numerous incumbents win re-election, and a few newcomers are filling positions where incumbents chose not to run again.

In the Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD board elections, President Paul Buchanan won over challenger Bruce Wayne Ellisor 277-208 in Position 6, while incumbent Alec McGowen, running unopposed since his appointment to the board, garnered 402 votes in Position 2.

In Position 5, Dale Richards won over Dennal Elmore 293-191; and for Position 7, M.J. Coker won over Melanie Cook 247-226.

•In the Cleveland ISD board elections, Deborah “Wendy” McNair won over Aaron Montesnieto 13-2 for Position 6, and Marvin Searles Jr., running unopposed, received 11 votes for Position 7.

•The city of Point Blank held its first election in 21 years, and incumbent Mayor Mark Wood, running unopposed, received 69 votes.

For Alderman Place 4, incumbent Mel Basham gained 35 votes, Phillip Kurkowski won 17 votes and James Woods won 18.

For Alderman Place 5, incumbent Mike Pagel received 39 points, while Matt D. Smith received 30 votes.

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City seeks support for sidewalk project

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coldspringcitySpecial to the News-Times

On March 31, the city of Coldspring was invited to submit three detailed applications to The Texas Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program, which grants funds for locally sponsored bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects.

The projects are being designed to create more accessible conduits for pedestrian movement throughout the community, to enhance connectivity, and to promote alternative transportation for non-motorized travelers.

The proposed projects will provide nonmotorized transportation opportunities and accessibility throughout the community, creating a pedestrian network that connects the junior high school, high school, public library, City Hall, and numerous local businesses with the historic downtown area.

“We’re excited about it,” Mayor John Benestante said. “This project will revitalize the community by providing much-needed sidewalks, increasing mobility and accessibility, and helping to connect the city for everyone and most importantly provide safety for our school kids walking to and from school and those in the community who walk these areas as well.”

The community’s support will play an integral part in the success of this project, so Coldspring will hold an open house at City Hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the week of May 8.

Resident are invited to view maps of the proposed plans and provide input, with an aim of crafting a project that responds to the challenges of residents and reflects community priorities.

“We’re asking our community to come out and support the City’s efforts,” Benestante said. “We want to know how they want the city to develop and where they want to see the improvements.”

TxDOT announced a statewide Call for Projects for TA Program funding in November 2022. The TA program provides funding to plan for and construct a variety of alternative transportation projects that improve safety and mobility for non-motorized travelers and mitigate congestion by providing safe alternatives to motor transport.

The department will select projects for recommendation to the Texas Transportation Commission for current TA funds under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, totaling approximately $250 million (from both the available FY 2022-FY2023 and anticipated FY 2024-FY 2025 federal appropriations).

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Scholarship, summer seasons just ahead

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Women’s League board members met at San Jacinto Senior Center in Coldspring.Women’s League board members met at San Jacinto Senior Center in Coldspring.

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadWe are coming to the last weeks of the school year. Both chambers of commerce, Coldspring and Shepherd, give scholarships to graduates who are chosen by the scholarship committees of each chamber.

Coldspring has already completed their choices, and these will be awarded at the ceremony at the High School on May 23. The Shepherd committee meets this week to judge the entries from Shepherd High School. The winners will be announced at their ceremony on May 17.

I am delighted that we have returned to almost normal after our difficulties during COVID when school was often disrupted. Now we can enjoy the hard work these students have done to further their futures. Photos of the ceremonies will be in this column.

•The Women’s League of San Jacinto County Board met at the Senior Center in Coldspring last week. The Board members decide how to disburse the funds they collected throughout the year. The League give back to our community in many ways with scholarships for graduates from both high schools and then to many other organizations.

The group will make the list of donations public at its next meeting, which will be the last before the summer break. President Kay Capers and the Executive Board will announce nominations and elections of the upcoming board also at this time. The new year will start in September.

Members will meet for the last lunch before the break on May 11 at the Coldspring Community Center.

•The Coldspring Chamber held its quarterly lunch at the Coldspring Community Center last week on Tuesday. The guest speaker was John Fletcher from the Small Business Development Center.

He spoke and answered questions on legal and other issues for those starting a new business and explained the nature of the help the SBDC is able to offer small business owners. Lunch was catered by India Love and her staff and President Barbara Justice introduced other elected officials who were attending the lunch.

Among the attendees were the new Chamber members of the Ferguson Flats RV Resort. This is a family business still in the works with many wonderful facilities to come. Three of the family were there and said the land had been in their family for generations and they wanted to honor the family memory by creating a place where those with disabilities could come and enjoy it.

We are coming into the hurricane period of the year. Several organizations are ready to help when disaster strikes. The Red Cross is asking for volunteers in our area to sign up on the web page on their web site. It is a very simple sign up and if you are interested, please have a look at it. The SBDC also has a disaster preparedness page available on their web site. This is also easy to use.

•Shepherd Library is getting ready for its Summer Program. This year it will involve time travel. Director Terri McIntyre and Crystale Thompson are acquiring the items for the journeys into the past. Please be ready to sign up your children when the time comes, space will be limited in the Time Machine.

It is not available yet, this is just a preview.

•Shepherd Chamber of Commerce is busy with its Independence Day event to be held on July 1. The American Legion will open the ceremony for us. The zydeco band Bayou Sounds will perform as will soloist Mike L. Jaccen Lee will be our DJ and MC through the day.

There will be a patriotic dress competition for adults, children/youth and pets will be held as will children’s games and a bouncy house will be present. Walterine Carr will be in charge, as always, at the volleyball contest and we have some great food vendors lined up. Vendors who wish to take part, forms are available on our web site, wwwgreatershepherdchamberofcommerce.org or at the Shepherd Library. Vendors selling products can secure a booth for $20, and food vendors for $40. Non-profits that would like to advertise their organization are welcome. Fireworks will start at 9 p.m.

Contact the Shepherd Chamber at (936) 628-3890 or the Coldspring Chamber at (936) 653-2184.

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

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