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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

City quadruples water rates

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WaterRatesRise 200pxBy Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — The Shepherd City Council approved a hike in bulk water rates at its regular meeting on Aug. 8.

Currently, the city charges $60 for the first 1,000 gallons, and then $4.10 per 1,000 additional. However, with most of the state suffering drought conditions, council members opted to raise prices. 

Council Member Mark Porter, however, moved to ban sales outright.

The bulk water is chiefly used by construction companies, particularly road crews, and according to Public Works Director Jamie White, Shepherd is the only municipality in the area selling water at this time.

With the ban not on the agenda, the city opted to raise the costs, and may revisit ending sales at a later date.

Water was an issue in another matter for the council, as a proposed RV Park development on North Byrd Street would put a strain on the city’s water system.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said that currently, the city’s water system is operating at 83 percent capacity, and that the RV park, if approved as is, would put that at 89 percent. That level of use, based on state regulations, would require the city to add an additional well.

The developers had initially asked for 89 RV spots, which is above city regulations of 16 per acre, and would require a variance; however, they told the council that they would alter the plans to be within ordinance for a total of 79 spots. Hagler said this still would put the system at 85 percent, the state threshold.

Council members agreed, though, that in order to meet any future needs, the city needed to increase its capacity anyway.

Ray Vann told the council that certain grant funds the city had access to will facilitate the process, so the city opted to approve the development, and will discuss adding a well at a later date.

In other business, the council:

•tabled a request to extend a sewer line on South Byrd Street by 325 feet;

•approved an order of election for Nov. 8;

•scheduled a budget workshop for Aug. 23; and

•approved the expenditure of $27,000 for renovations at the city sewer plant.

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Eagle Scout has big plans

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081122 eagle scout big plansLt. Charles Dougherty, Chief Deputy Tim Keane and Sheriff Greg Capers stand with Ronnie Charles Jr. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — When not cracking the books in the 11th grade of Shepherd High School, Ronnie Charles Jr. can be found fishing, hiking and camping with his family, or enjoying some Gospel tunes at his local church.

At the completion of the recent Sheriff’s Achievement Award Ceremony, Ronnie told the assembled law enforcement personnel what were his plans for his obviously bright future.

The recently minted Eagle Scout said he plans to complete his undergraduate university education as a pre-med student at Mississippi State and then on to Harvard Medical where he plans to complete his MD.

After an internship and residency — perhaps at Baylor in Houston — Ronnie said he hopes to return to his hometown of Shepherd to “give back to the community of family and friends that’s originally gave so much to him over the years.”

Sheriff Greg Capers complimented the youth on his drive and determination.

“As someone who has dealt with DNA over the years, I am convinced you must come from a very high-quality parents,” he said. “I look forward to meeting them in the very near future.”

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District plans for safe school year

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081122 district plans safe school yearVolunteers help package school supplies that will be given to all students prior to the new school year. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — Safety is an important matter, but it’s a challenge that Shepherd schools will meet in the coming year.
During an online presentation last week, Superintendent Jason Hewitt said that while the school was progressing in its safety measure, it, like many other schools, became complacent in its enforcement the events in Uvalde, however, brought every district’s attention to safety.

Hewitt said the district observes five layers of school safety — emergency management, staff training, exercises, hardware/software and positive school culture. During the presentation, Hewitt outlined how the district observes each layer.

For all visitors to the different campuses, entrants must be let into the building, then present ID and be placed into a database. All classrooms will remain locked, all campus and facility gates will be locked, and SISD has partnered with DPS for providing a more visible presence, Hewitt said.

Each campus also is under a security audit, and after the events of Uvalde, the state required a door audit, which was done by the Shepherd School Police Department and the SISD maintenance staff.

Hewitt said the district also is adding cameras to entrances, security lighting at all schools, rebuilding the threat assessment team and recreating the emergency operations plan with updated policies or procedures.

All teachers and substitutes will be trained in child maltreatment responsibilities, bullying prevention, suicide awareness, food allergy management, trauma-informed care and cybersecurity. The police force has received additional training as weall, Hewitt said.

The superintendent touched on other areas of improvement, which include a new parking lot at the primary school; refinishing of gymnasium floors; high school bleachers repaired and motorized; and new intercom systems and the middle and high schools.

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Vocational programs available

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081122 vocational programs

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD offers Career and Technical Education programs of study within the agriculture, foods and natural resources, architecture and construction, arts, audio/video technology and communications, business, marketing, and finance, education and training, health science, hospitality and tourism, law and public service, manufacturing, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics career clusters
Admission to these programs is based on open enrollment.

The district will take steps to assure that lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in all educational and vocational programs.

It is the policy of COCISD not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or handicap in its vocational programs, services or activities as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

For information about your rights or grievance procedures, contact the Title IX Coordinator at (936) 653-1175, by mail at 14210 State Hwy 150 West, Coldspring, TX 77331 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; and the Section 504 Coordinator at (936) 653-1178, by mail at 14210 State Hwy 150 West, Coldspring. TX 77331, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Libraries combine forces for literacy

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081122 libraries combine

Special to the News-Times

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program is available to all children of San Jacinto County.

Coldspring and Shepherd libraries have partnered with The Dolly Parton Imagination Library to benefit children in San Jacinto County, with Coldspring Library as the host coordinating site.

Any child who resides in zip codes 77331 (Coldspring), 77359 (Oakhurst), 77364 (Point Blank) and 77371 (Shepherd) and is between the ages of 0 and 5 is eligible to participate.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides free, high-quality, age-appropriate books to registered children, from birth through their fifth birthday
For a $25 annual donation, the county’s libraries and the Imagination Library will mail 12 books directly to a registered child’s home. The child must reside in San Jacinto County and be registered by an authorized adult.

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted more than 182 million free books in the United

States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland.

To build a strong culture of reading for young children and increase early literacy in San Jacinto County, the libraries are seeking donors to contribute to our project.

Please stop by either the Coldspring or Shepherd library to pick up an enrollment form. Donations to the program can also be made in person at the library.

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