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Constable Sam Houston and his wife, Sandra Houston, have worked to keep the county’s stray problem under control. COURTESY PHOTOConstable Sam Houston and his wife, Sandra Houston, have worked to keep the county’s stray problem under control. COURTESY PHOTO

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadMerry Christmas everyone. If you are still looking for Christmas gifts, don’t forget your local shops.

One advantage in our county is that most things are close by, there are some great gift ideas in Coldspring shops, and you can also buy gift certificates at local restaurants if you ask for them.

There are florists and candy stores, quilt stores and feed stores and more.

•If you would like to try to win a beautiful quilt or one of the many other prizes in Shepherd Library’s raffle, buy a ticket or two. They are $2 each or $5 for three tickets.

First prize is the custom-made quilt, second is the electronics basket with iPad and other electronic goodies and third is a lovely wine basket. You can get your tickets at Shepherd Library or from one of the Friends of the Library.

Go to their Facebook page or website for more info. This is a fundraiser for the library to attend the TLA Conference in Austin. The drawing will be on Feb. 10. Call them at (936) 628-3515.

•This week I visited Waggin’ Tails no-kill animal shelter. Created in 2017 as a nonprofit rescue shelter for dogs, it became a county shelter in 2019. The wife of Constable Sam Houston, Sandra, dedicates most of her life to looking after the dogs in the shelter. Each one is named and treated, given shots and if needed are spayed or neutered.

You may have seen their float in Shepherd Parade, with some of the volunteers who come to help out.

Constable Houston covers animal control across the county and both he and his wife are devoted to helping dogs who are lost, hurt or have been abused. I saw more than 30 dogs while I visited, each one came to be petted and to lick my hand.

This shelter needs volunteers to help walk the dogs and help with the chores. If you love dogs and want to help, to commit some time on a regular basis, call Sandra at (281) 450-3676.

We went to the new shelter, not yet open but looking good with spaces for an office, a sick room for the dogs, a laundry room essential to keep any infections down and spaces for 35 dogs.

It’s not yet completed, but Constable Houston is hoping for this to happen early in the New Year. This is a very needed facility located on Route 2025. There are more unwanted dogs that can be cared for. All are available for adoption and need a good home. This couple are heroes for their work with these animals.

While I was there, I asked Sam Houston about himself. First, he told me that his office which he has had for about 5 years was donated by his community, at virtually no cost to the county. I decided Constable Houston would be perfect for the next interview of people in our county who are not well-known to most of us but who do sterling work for their community every day.

Sam has been a lawman for over 40 years and Constable of Precinct 3 since 2013. He is on the road a lot because despite his work with rescuing dogs, he is also a full-time constable with all that entails. I have seen him in Precinct 2 helping with the barbecue at the Impact Center’s events for Youth and he is a very active member of many good causes where he steps in to help.

I can understand why he has been elected as constable for so long.

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

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

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Coach pens memoir

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Along with former player Aaron Terry (left) and Jack Young (right), former Groveton football coach Scott Phillips discusses the information in his new book. Phillips was doing a book signing at Groveton High School last week. Photo by Tony FarkasAlong with former player Aaron Terry (left) and Jack Young (right), former Groveton football coach Scott Phillips discusses the information in his new book. Phillips was doing a book signing at Groveton High School last week. Photo by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

GROVETON — Former Groveton football coach Scott Phillips, a Texas Football Hall of Fame member, has penned a book detailing his career in coaching.

Phillips spent 23 years coaching football in Texas, including being head coach in Groveton from 1985 to 1989, when the Indians won a state championship. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019.

The book details his rise through the highly competitive football coaching ranks in Texas, his impressive record of 234-73-3, his making the playoffs in 20 of his 23 years in coaching, and even the Plano East-John Tyler game.

“I wrote the book about my career, about the many stops along the way, just reminiscing about things that happened — season highlights, funny stories — I wrote the whole thing from memory,” he said. “I had a wonderful coaching career.”

Phillips started coaching at High Island, then moved to Groveton and won his first state title. He then moved to Waxahachie and won another state ring the third year he was there, compiling a 30-game winning streak in the process.

From there he moved to Plano East, and was head coach for eight years, making the playoffs for seven of those years. After that, Phillips went to Odessa High School, a place he said will get anyone out of coaching.

“There are only two kinds of coaches in Odessa: those that have been fired, and those that are going to be,” he said. However, he got lucky and retired. Phillips did say that some of his team’s uniforms were used for locker room scenes for “Friday Night Lights,” but he was not in the film.

In his first year in Groveton, the team went 15-0 but lost in the state playoff to Electra. Following that, the team went 5-5, 13-1-1, 11-1-1 and then 16-0. One of the highlights of his career was the 60 games he won in his five years in Groveton, he said.

Phillips said that discipline is the key to success, as well as the key to consistency.

“When people say the team has great chemistry, that comes from consistency — consistency in how you treat people, in how you discipline, in how many hours you put in,” he said.

Phillips also said that discipline was the key to education. Aside from winning 60 games in his time in Groveton, the students at the high school and junior high levels won academic awards as well.

“All football programs are based on athletes, their ability and their desire to play,” he said. “We were disciplined. For instance, we shaved every Friday or we got swats, or then shaved on the bus after you got swats. The kids were held to a high standard. They had to pass their grades in school; if they got a failing slip, they got swats for it.”

Phillips said discipline is so much different today because coaches can’t do those types of things as people think that’s just barbaric.

“It didn’t kill anybody, it made them a lot tougher,” he said. “We won a lot of ball games.”

To get a copy of “Scott Phillips: A Football Life as Shared with Jack Young,” search for Jack Young on Facebook.

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Master Naturalist class offered

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122222 class

Special to the News-Times

LIVINGSTON — Piney Woods Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists will begin a new training class Feb. 1, 2023.

Interested nature enthusiasts from Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Tyler counties will take 10 weeks of virtual and classroom training delivered by Master Naturalists and specialists from universities, Texas Parks and Wildlife, TAMU AgriLife, and nature centers. Trainees will get to:

•Hang out with other nature-loving people.

•Play in the water and mud again without getting into trouble.

•Learn to identify birds by their sound.

•Lead nature hikes at parks and nature preserves.

•And many more fun and educational outdoor opportunities.

Master Naturalist certification requires 40 hours of training and 40 hours of chapter and community service within one year of beginning training. Topics covered in the training include interpretation and management of natural resources; land and water conservation and management, diverse eco-regions in Texas; pollinators, bird and wildlife identification; and improving natural habitats for all living things.

Additionally, each trainee must complete the annual requirement for eight hours of advanced training in an area of personal interest. Various presentations offered at chapter meetings typically fulfill most of this requirement.

The class fee of $140 covers the bound State Curriculum, first year chapter annual dues of $25, temporary and permanent name badges, fees for speakers and facilities, and the required Texas Parks and Wildlife background check.

Classes, most of which are 5 hours, will be held Wednesdays for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 1 and ending on April 12 with a spring break March 13-17. Most classes will be held at Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Lake Livingston State Park or in the field.  Most classes will be recorded in case you miss one.

For more information or to fill out an application, contact Tina Crichfield by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or check out the website and Facebook page. Download the membership application online at www.txmn.org/pineywoodlakes

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An “open letter” to the SJC community and beyond

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GregCapersSheriffHello members of the San Jacinto County community I’m Greg Capers, and as many of you may know I am your elected sheriff where I have had the pleasure of serving you since my initial election to this office in 2014.

As a community service I have teamed up with the San Jacinto News-Times to provide you with information regarding your safety and the safety of your family and friends. The information I will be providing will seek to draw your attention to the evildoers among us that when given the opportunity will cause you and your loved ones much hardship.

Now that we are in the holiday season, it’s even more important that you remain ever vigilant when outside your home.

Due to the amount of information I will be providing to you over the coming weeks and months ahead, I will be presenting the material in segments.

Measures to increase personal safety

•Reduce or eliminate opportunities that may make you a target.

•Increase awareness in places where are you are most comfortable.

•Prepare your daily activity with safety in mind.

•Be always aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.

•When traveling try to stay with a group. There’s always safety in numbers.

•Walk with your head upright. Makes eye contact. Thieves often target victims, who are not paying attention to their surroundings or who are looking down.

•Pay attention to your surroundings when using electronics on the street or when in public.

•Avoid traveling in unfamiliar areas at night whenever possible.

•When traveling in a vehicle, always pay attention to who might be following you. Don’t be fooled when you think the car following you is late model expensive vehicle and therefore not likely to cause you any harm. Thieves often use this technique to trick you into thinking they’re harmless.

•If you suspect you are being targeted, do not pull into your driveway, continue driving while dialing 911 immediately for assistance.

•When arriving at home and before exiting your vehicle, look around your vehicle from within with your doors locked.

•When refueling your vehicle lock your doors. You could become a victim of a carjacking. This is especially important for those who might have a little one in the vehicle!

•If you observe anyone acting in a suspicious manner, or if you feel threatened in anyway call 911 immediately.

•If you witness or suspect that some other person is becoming a victim, call 911 immediately.

•Do not under any circumstances attempt to access funds from an ATM machine in an unlit or poorly lit area. Find an area, where you are less likely to become a victim of a crime.

As mentioned previously, this is the first in a series of measures that I will be presenting in an all-out attempt to keep you and your loved ones safe.

It’s my hope that you find the information I will be providing helpful, and I look forward to sharing my experiences and the experiences of my senior law enforcement professionals with the community of San Jacinto County and beyond.

Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.

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Christmas celebrated despite parade cancellation

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The Grinch gets a kiss, and his heart grew three sizes that day.The Grinch gets a kiss, and his heart grew three sizes that day.

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadColdspring Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Christmas on The Square on Saturday and it was a huge success which unfortunately ended with a thunderstorm which went on all night.

Still, the day went very well with lots of really excellent vendors, singers and musicians and food of all kinds being eaten by hungry shoppers. Children had a wonderful time in the Kids Zone.

I spent more time watching them than shopping, although I did manage to snag a few items for gifts. The Petting Zoo was a new addition. Sponsored by Family Faith Church, this area housed not only sheep and goats, but a donkey and a young camel. There was also what looked to be a longhorn cow, but all animals were very placid and obviously used to being petted.

There were horse rides and a mechanical bull, sponsored by Dawn Hill of Coldwell Banker Realty, which went very gently up and down for the little ones. This bull was from Magallanes Toro Show. Those who liked rides of a different kind could have a small bullet train ride, a very small one that is.

Adults could go for a ride with their children in a lovely white, horse drawn carriage. The was just one of the carriages which can be rented out for special occasions; go to the Houston Carriage website for more information. Kids Zone was hosted by First Baptist Church .

•The Community & Children’s Impact Center in Shepherd also had its Christmas event on Saturday. Santa was there and so was the Grinch. He was kissed by someone. He immediately stopped stealing people’s cookies and turned over a new leaf.

Brenda Myers, founder of the Center, had a team of helpers who made the day special for many people, including a lot of children. There were games and music and great food. Vendors had some lovely items on sale and the Christmas message was portrayed by members of the Center.

•San Jacinto Women’s League had their Christmas lunch, catered by India Love, on Thursday. It was a lovely meal and afterward we had Karaoke with Ken from the Senior Center providing the music. Ladies got up to sing and of course “Jingle Bell Rock” was a favorite. The table decorations were beautiful, Santa Claus in different outfits graced every table.

•The Republican Party Reagan Dinner, to be held on Feb. 4, announced their keynote speaker this week. It will be Michael Berry who is also known as the “Tsar of Talk Radio.” Go to the website for ticket information.

•The VA Debakey Hospital in Houston needs some help for the veterans who will be there over Christmas and beyond. They are very low on sweatshirts and pants of all sizes, for both sexes, jackets and hoodies and bags of toiletries, too.

Carson Anderson, who has an office in the basement of Coldspring Courthouse, is in charge of this drive for “Sweats for Vets.” There is a large box in the Hall of Heroes by her office for your donations.

Please note all items must be new. Toiletries include shampoo and conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes and please put your selection in a bag.

The Hall of Heroes is a very impressive collection of memorabilia from local families over many years. It is well worth a visit.

For more information call (936) 653-2270.

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 secretary of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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