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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

A hot time was had by all

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Winner of the adult patriotic dress competition with his trophy and friends. (Left) Winner of the pet patriotic dress contest with his owner. Winner of the adult patriotic dress competition with his trophy and friends. (Left) Winner of the pet patriotic dress contest with his owner. 

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadI hope you had a wonderful July 4. Shepherd held its event on July 1 at the Community Center and it was a day of music and food, fireworks and fun.

Our DJ Jaccen Lee was also our MC, standing in for DJ Joe LeBlanc who had a wedding to play for. Thanks to Bayou Sounds, the Zydeco Band, who played a variety of music and had people dancing under the Pavilion roof.

Thanks to Mike L, our soloist, who also sang the National Anthem and of course, thanks to American Legion Post 629, who, as always, opened up our celebration with the moving Flag Ceremony and prayer. Fireworks were done by Sonny Guzman who always creates a spectacular show for us. KETX, The Eagle, came to join our event, thank you.

Brenda Myers of the Impact Center created games for the children and youth. I saw adults trying out the Limbo Game. Brenda and her team brought boxes of gifts for prizes for the games and also for the Patriotic Costume Contest. Thank you, The Impact Center.

We appreciated our law enforcement officers visiting with the crowd, thanks to Clint Headley and all. Thank you, vendors and Commissioner Donnie Marrs, who attended with the hundred watermelons he donated for the melon eating contest. Well, it seemed like a hundred.

Most of all thank you Shepherd Chamber of Commerce Board members. Without their help in the organization and presentation we would not have had an event to celebrate.

•The Community & Children’s Impact Center is acquiring a building in Shepherd for a Crisis Center. If you are interested in helping by donating supplies, volunteering to help with the painting, landscaping etc, please call Brenda Myers for information. Her Facebook page also has photos and information. Call (936) 499-2632.

•If the hot weather is getting to you, think of Christmas in five months or so. You can shop in Coldspring on July 29 for Christmas with the Christmas in July. Santa in his summer outfit will be there and vendors, music and more courtesy of CABMA will let us pretend it is cooler.

If you want to be a vendor, applications are on the web site or call Paul at 713-471-3460. Plan to be there on Aug. 5, 9 a.m.-noon, for the next Cars, Coffee and Donuts. Both events are held around the Courthouse Square.

•Shepherd Library is almost ready for their Summer Program ‘Journey Through Time’. Sign your child up for this incredible trip through the past from Dinosaurs to Ancient Rome, from Wild West to the Victorian era and then to 100 years ago, back to 1923. The program runs from July 24-28 from 2 to 4 p.m. Call (936) 628-3515 or look online at Facebook.

•Looking ahead to August we have a SAAFE House benefit on 26th. Lures & Lace Bingo at SJC Shelter will run from 6 p.m. till 10 p.m. Tickets are $50 each or $400 for a table for 8 people.

Call Tammy at (936) 284-5547 or go to saafehouse.org/events.

•We have some ribbon cuttings for new members coming up and more events being planned for the future. Go to both Chambers of Commerce for information and also www.sanjacintocountybulletinboard.com, Linda Deeter’s excellent site for all that is coming up in our area. This is a free advertising outlet for all local events.

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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New area code proposed for Houston area

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AreaCode STOCK

Special to the News-Times

AUSTIN — The Public Utility Commission of Texas is accepting public comments on a petition by the North American Number Planning Administrator for the addition of a new area code to accommodate continuing growth in the greater Houston area.

Comments must be submitted by Aug. 5.

NANPA projects the four existing area codes — 281, 346, 713 and 832 — will run out of numbers by the third quarter of 2025.

The new area code would overlay existing area codes, which currently serve the greater metropolitan area of the City of Houston and smaller cities including Alvin, Baytown, Cleveland, Cypress, Dickinson, Friendswood, Humble, Katy, Kemah, League City, Richmond, Rosenburg, Rosharon, Spring, Sugarland, and Tomball, within the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller.

Adding a new area code to the region would not affect the phone numbers of existing customers. Since the greater Houston area is currently served by four area codes, customers are already required to dial a 10-digit phone number to place calls locally. The addition of the proposed fifth area code would not change that requirement.

The PUCT is accepting public comments regarding the proposed new area code in PUCT docket number 54986.

To learn more, please visit https://www.puc.texas.gov.

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School Board attends summer ‘classes’

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coldspring Sports logoBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — While school was out, the Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD board members were in class.

Superintendent Bryan Taulton said that at the regular meeting on June 26, board members receive training regarding the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Taulton said that the seminar was primarily for new board members, but also served as a refresher for other members.

Additionally, the board scheduled “Team of 8” training for July 10.

Taulton said that training will assist the board and administration in working together.

“This is a great time to do this before school starts in August,” he said.

In other business, the board:

•approved Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills certification for the district, all will ensure all classes are implementing TEKS requirements;

•discussed developing the budget for the next school year;

•approved the calendar for T-TESS appraisals for the next school year;

•discussed strategic and district improvement plans, which will come for approval at the next meeting;

•approved policy revisions regarding class ranking;

•awarded depository contracts for the next two years to People’s State Bank;

•approved roof repairs on James Elementary School using ESSER funds;

•approved resignations and hiring new staff; and

•approved board meeting dates, with the possibility of moving the location of meetings. Taulton said the next regular meeting on July 24 is tentatively set to be held in the High School foyer.

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Commissioners begin budget process for county

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Trinity Countyseal 200By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Jail staffing and pay rates were the main topics of discussion during the first San Jacinto County Commissioners Court budget hearing on Wednesday.

Following the court’s regular meeting, Chief Tim Kean said the Sheriff’s Department needs assistance to alleviate the problem of staffing at the jail.

Kean said that there’s 25 jailer positions budgeted, but only 14 are filled; jailers are working 14-hour days 6 days a week, and it’s creating a safety situation.

“We need to hire 11 jailers, and we don’t have any resources to attract people,” he said. “Everybody else around pays more than us. We have not had a jailer application in months; nobody will apply because we don’t pay anything.”

Kean said that since the jail is bringing in close to $1 million a year for housing prisoners, that money could be dedicated to the jail; however, County Judge Fritz Faulkner said those funds go into the general fund, and since the jail budget is more than $2 million annually, they’re getting all of the income.

He proposed raising jailer pay $3.52 per hour for licensed jailers, $2.52 without. That gets things to $20 per hour for jailers.

A second option would be to hire outside staffing.

Pat Marion of Recana Secure Facilities his firm either could fully man the facility or provide assistance with hiring and retention.

“We can provide eligible applicants, get them hired and licensed, and we will take a $5,000 commission with a 30-day guarantee,” he said.

The county is opening itself up for potential litigation, or it could be shut down by the state, if it doesn’t solve its issues soon.

Kean said that while Recana did not give any specific figures, he said in previous discussions that it could cost $300,000 per month if the firm ran the jail.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner did not think that paying for another company to run the jail was a viable option.

The court took no action, but did direct Kean to have an action item regarding pay raises placed on the next agenda.

For the Elections Administrator, Vicki Shelly said that recent legislation requiring more hours to vote on the last two days of early voting will cost the county additional funds, but did not have any additional figures.

She said she wanted the county to be aware of the change for their budgeting.

In other business, the court:

•approved an interlocal agreement with NG911 Public Safety Answering Point Service;

•approved IRS tax inflation adjustments for medical reimbursement accounts to $3,050;

•approved automobile liability coverage with Texas Association of Counties;

•approved a materials hauling bid with MSR Transport;

•approved bond renewal for County Judge Fritz Faulkner;

•approved raising the credit card limits to $5,000 for Constable Sam Houston and the District Attorney’s Office, and issuing a second card to the DA;

•transferred a 12,000-pound wench to Precinct 2 Road Department;

•approved seeking bids for police vehicles; and

•took no action on changing its reimbursement policy.

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Luttrell introduces modern VA measure

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to theNews-Times

WASHINGTON, D.C — Congressman Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, introduced the Modernizing VA Disability Benefit Questionnaires Act recently.

Luttrell, who serves as chairman of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the legislation would create a universal standard for contractors to use when transmitting Disability Benefits Questionnaires.

“Veterans shouldn’t be facing roadblocks and cutting through red tape to receive the benefits they have earned from the VA,” Luttrell said. “When I speak to veterans in my district, and across the country, they always express the urgent need for more productive care.”

Luttrell said this legislation is a step in the right direction to streamline the claims process for veterans, VA employees, and veterans’ private providers.

Disability Benefits Questionnaires are standardized forms used by the Department of Veterans Affairs, private physicians, and contractors to perform disability examinations in support of a veteran’s claim for disability compensation as a result of a service-connected injury or illness.

Current practice does not require VA contractors, who perform disability exams, to submit DBQs in a format that can be easily read by the VA’s claims automation software. Additionally, there is currently no convenient online portal that a veteran’s private physician can use to submit a DBQ.

As a result, automation is more error-prone and VA employees have to manually read and input DBQs from outside providers, which contributes to the growing backlog of disability claims and results in longer wait times for disability compensation from the VA.

The Modernizing VA Disability Benefit Questionnaires Act would create a universal standard for contractors to use when transmitting DBQs. The standard would require them to be readable by an automated program to simplify the claims process.

It also would require the VA to submit a plan for a convenient, online portal that veterans’ private physicians could use to complete DBQs. The Modernizing VA Disability Benefit Questionnaires Act would make DBQs more convenient and useful, allowing VA employees to focus on claims processing activities that require human intervention, such as rating claims and weighing evidence, rather than menial processing tasks.

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