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Grant request left unfilled

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — A request from Friends of Hopewell Inc., a community center, for America Rescue Plan Act funds received no interest from the San Jacinto County Commissioners Court on Wednesday.

Lillie Boson of Friends of Hopewell asked the commission to put the measure to some sort of vote, since their application has been essentially ignored since it was made in June.

“We’re here today because we feel like we’re sitting around the rich man’s table waiting for the crumbs to fall,” she said. “What we asked for, compared to what was received by the county, was just small. We would like the commission to pull the application from the table and vote on it.”

Boson said the organization feels as it is not being taken seriously, claiming issues with the construction of a dog pound have gotten more consideration.

“You’ve given excuse after excuse, and we’ve given you our answer,” she said. “The last time we were here, Judge (Fritz) Faulkner said the people would be upset if we gave you the money. What people?”

The application previously was tabled because of questions of the legality of donating to the non-profit organization. At first, it was believed that Friends of Hopewell was associated with Hopewell Church, which would mean it could not receive grant funds. That was later found to be wrong.

Faulkner denied he said people, but instead said the county couldn’t favor one church over another. He also said the court did hold a vote to settle what would be done with the grant funds — $1 million to fix the courthouse, and the rest was split between the precincts to fix roads.

“Other people have had requests, and they haven’t come up here three or four times and keep asking over and over,” Faulkner said. “We haven’t given any money to non-profit organizations.”

No commissioner brought the item to a vote, meaning it was denied.

In other business, the court:

•approved an agreement with Harris County Institute for Forensic Sciences for autopsies;

•approved the canvass of votes for the Nov. 8 general election;

•approved adding a regulation requiring utility companies to obtain permits for work;

•approved the certified tax roll for the county’s general fund;

•approved rehiring James Burgess for the sanitation/compactor part-time position in Precinct 1;

•approved issuing a county credit card for the District Attorney’s Office;

•accepted the audit results from Brooks Watson and Co. showing the county is in good financial standing;

•approved renewing bonds for county elected officials;

•changed operation times on the county’s trash compactors;

•approved county employee participation in the annual Toys for Tots campaign;

•declared a Caterpillar maintainer and filters as salvage to be sold at auction; and

•approved entering a lease for a Caterpillar motor grader for $317,839.40.

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City takes next step for law enforcement

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Michelle Minton and husband, Mayor Charles Minton, pose after the mayor was sworn into officer after his re-election. Courtesy photoMichelle Minton and husband, Mayor Charles Minton, pose after the mayor was sworn into officer after his re-election. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — The Shepherd City Council took the next required steps for the creation of its Police Department on Nov. 14.

The council adopted an ordinance that establishes a police chief and the scope of duties, and appointed Precinct 2 Deputy Constable Clint Headley as chief.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said the ordinance allows Headley to hire another officer to bring department up to two full-time officers. The old City Hall building was used as an office for the constable, and now will become the Police Department building.

Hagler said the department will be up and operational once the city receives the necessary credentials from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

In a related matter, the council approved a new law that establishes a curfew for minors within the city.

During weekdays — Mondays through Fridays — children under 17 years of age must be indoors, and remain until 6 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the curfew is 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The ordinance states the city has “determined that there is an increase in juvenile violence, juvenile gang activity and crime committed by persons under the age of 17.” It also states that the ordinance is necessary due to the lack of maturity and experience of juveniles, making them susceptible to participate in unlawful and gang-related activities, and to become victims of crime as well.

In other business, the council:

•canvassed and certified the results of the Nov. 8 city election;

•approved placing $6,000 of road material on the beginning of the road to Shantal Pope’s property;

•approved an agreement to participate with BuyBoard, a purchasing collective for municipalities;

•authorized Rocking B Subdivision, which will have 17 homesites for potential builders;

•tabled action on development approval for Greg Biddles to build rentals to determine drainage issues;

•signed an agreement with San Jacinto County Permitting and 911 Mapping departments;

•approved adding a fee for second or subsequent inspections at $50;

•tabled a matter on permitting noncompliance;

•tabled approval on an extension of a sewer line;

•approved use of the Community Center by Shepherd ISD for a staff support dinner; and

•set a staff Christmas party for 6 p.m. on Dec. 10.

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Looking forward to December

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Constable Sam Houston and his barbecue team. Courtesy photo

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadChristmas is just around the corner. The cold nip in the air reminds us that winter is coming too.

San Jacinto Christmas events start with the Town Lighting in Coldspring on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. Mayor John Benestante will do the honors in the Courthouse Square.

Then Shepherd Christmas in the Park, next to Shepherd Library this year, will take place on Dec. 3. The park will ring with the music of some of the spectacular entertainers we had at our July event. We will have Jinda “Lady Songbird’ Harris, Brenda Landers, Lateja Skinner, Tamisha Crowley and our own Megan Lewis. DJ Joe LaBlanc will be playing, and a Children’s Christmas Choir is being formed.

Santa will be in the Gazebo and vendors will be in the park. Please send or drop off your form if you wish to be a vendor ($20), food vendor ($40) or want to enter the parade at 6 p.m. If you will have animals, horses, donkeys, etc., you will need to show parade insurance. This is a one-time event insurance and does not cost very much but will be required.

Coldspring ‘Christmas on the Square’ will be on Dec. 10. The Square is almost full of vendors and there will be a fabulous Kids Zone hosted by the First Baptist Church.

In addition to go along with this year’s theme, “A Gingerbread Christmas,” there will be a Gingerbread House Contest. This contest is open to children 5 years to 15 years who may have one helper. This can be a parent or other adult. This is open to the first 10 entries. Contestants must provide all the ingredients and decorations to build their house. Set up is 9.30 a.m. and the houses will be on display for view from 11.45 a.m.- 12-15 p.m. for people to vote for ‘Peoples’ Choice’. Call the office for more information. The parade is at 6 p.m.

•Shepherd Library will have its annual book sale starting November 28 through Dec. 1. If you would like to donate books to this sale you may donate them at any time before then, Shepherd Library is next door to Shepherd City Hall on Liberty St. Call (936) 628-3515.

•If you like working in a good restaurant, call in at Paradise Grille in Coldspring. Servers who can work days and weekends, kitchen help and a trainee prep cook can apply at the location just off the Square in Coldspring.

•The Community & Children’s Impact Center had a fundraiser on Saturday in Shepherd. The weather was excellent for barbecue, courtesy of Constable Sam Houston’s barbecue Team.

The Cornhole Contest was great fun and a lot of people turned out to watch and eat and mix with friends and family. Brenda Myers and her great team of volunteers worked hard to make this event a success and it was.

Termite Watkins, world champion boxer, spoke to the crowd and mentioned the movie that is being made about him and his time in Iraq. Reggie Dixon was there too, and he showed off some of his skills with the basketball. He told everyone that his team, The Harlem Globetrotters, travel the world playing exhibition games for charity and also appeared on TV every Saturday morning.

•If you did not attend the Veterans Day Ceremony honoring Staff Sgt. Ellis J. Williamson, you can view it at San Jac Radio on Facebook. Williamson served in World War II and was a prisoner of war. You can also see photos at sjcradio.com.

•Last but not least, thank you all those who voted in our local elections. I am especially grateful to those who helped me be re-elected to Shepherd City Council.

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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Council OKs holiday happenings

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ChristmasPackages Stock

By Albert Trevino
SJNT correspondent

COLDSPRING — The City of Coldspring council moved forward with upcoming holiday-related resolutions during its meeting on Nov. 7.

The Highway Department has reportedly approved the city’s request this year to close Highway 150 and FM 1514 for the annual Christmas on the Square activities.

The council expects Letecia Matticks to present a formal request for the City to close Cedar Street between the San Jacinto County Courthouse and Annex for a street dance from 7-10 p.m. after the Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 26.

Additionally, the city has adopted its 2023 city holidays/city council meeting dates, which are lined up with the county’s dates for next year.

Officials will be set to review an ordinance regarding public events in order to properly update the long-standing ordinance.

In other business, the council:

•approved continued participation in the statewide Opioid Settlement Initiative. The account and fund are used to manage payments received by the state from settlements against opioid manufacturers, distributors, or other parties subject to violation of state or federal laws on the manufacture, marketing, distribution, or sale of opioids;

•approved an increase in funds to help support the annual Dolly Parton Imagination Library program for the Coldspring Area Library;

•discussed revising bids for the ballpark restroom/concession stand and sewer project;

•discussed making an offer to buy back a portion of the Mary Elizabeth Reynold 20-acre property that was originally owned by the city;

•approved a new RV park ordinance with changes to be finalized next month;

•discussed wastewater plant production which is reportedly operating at 25 to 30 percent of capacity; and

•discussed the 2023 budget to be proposed in December.

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WWII vet honored at ceremony

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Ellis James Williamson of the 397th -599th Army Air Corp. Receives special award form County Judge Fritz Faulkner on Veterans Day. Photos by Charles BallardEllis James Williamson of the 397th -599th Army Air Corp. Receives special award form County Judge Fritz Faulkner on Veterans Day. Photos by Charles Ballard

SJNT staff

COLDSPRING — A 99-year-old World War II veteran was honored for his service as part of the county’s annual Veterans Day observance on Friday.

District Judge Travis Kitchens read Williamson’s history and praised his service during the ceremony, and Williamson was presented a certificate of appreciation for his service from County Judge Fritz Faulkner.

Ellis James Williamson was a flight engineer and gunner stationed in England in 1944, and then in France following D-Day, according to information provided by Janice Lenz. He was assigned to a B-26 Marauder as part of the 397th Bomber Group, 599th Army Air Corps, and saw action in Normandy, LeHavre and Eastern France during the Battle of the Bulge.

On his last mission — Dec. 23, 1944 — his plane was shot down as it attempted to sever the enemy’s supply line. Williamson ended up being a prisoner of war until April 1945, when Gen. George S. Patton liberated the camp.

Williamson was awarded the Air Medal with two Silver Oak Leaf clusters and Two Bronze clusters, and several others. From there, he worked as a paint salesman and as an owner and operator of a trucking company.

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