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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

The fun comes back around

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The San Jacinto County Courthouse contains a museum in the basement.The San Jacinto County Courthouse contains a museum in the basement.

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadWe are back in the swing of things here in San Jacinto County. On Jan. 2, a large crowd visited the Coldspring Courthouse to see the swearing in ceremonies of the newly elected officials. Judge Fritz Faulkner performed the ceremony for each one and he also invited J.P. Greg Magee to speak on his retirement.

Magee is a well-known figure in our county. He has been in law enforcement for more than 40 years both as a rookie police officer and then to a judge. He told funny stories about his retirement and also one about J.P. “Red” Blanchette, who was sitting near him. Greg and his wife Betty are looking forward to taking time off to travel and relax after both of them have spent their lives working in law enforcement, one way or another.

Greg Magee decided to amuse the crowd by taking off his jacket and then his shirt. Underneath was a custom T-Shirt with his new message to everyone. It says, “The Legend Has Officially Retired. If You Want to Talk, You’ll Be Charged a Consulting Fee.” The photo of him wearing this T-shirt was taken in the basement of the Courthouse.

•Did you know there is a museum in the basement? It has grown considerably over the years. Dale Everitt with the Historical Commission started to hang photos of his family and others from past wars. Then uniforms and artifacts of all kind were donated and are now displayed throughout the basement. They are well worth a look.

The Historical Commission provided wonderful refreshments after the swearing in ceremonies. Carson Anderson and Barbara Magee worked hard at making it welcoming and it was a great idea to end the morning in such a happy (and delicious) way.

•On Thursday, Coldspring Garden Club held the first meeting of 2023. We were treated to a wonderful presentation from Beth Miller who talked about how to propagate African violets. By the end of the presentation everyone there was given a leaf in a small container filled with perlite and shown how to keep it till more leaves grow from the “mother.” It was a most interesting session and Beth is an excellent instructor. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Go to the Coldspring Garden Club online for more information. The club meets every first Thursday of the month at the Coldspring Community Center at 1:30 p.m.

•Coldspring Chamber will hold the ‘Best of San Jacinto Banquet’ on Jan. 28 in Jones Hall. Tickets are $25 each before the event and $30 at the door. Please call the office to buy tickets. Go to the website at www.coldspringtexas.org for more information. This is a special event to celebrate the businesses who have been voted by the public as the best. There will be a silent auction and wonderful food.

Just a reminder. The Reagan Dinner will be held in Coldspring Shelter on Feb. 4. The San Jacinto Republican Party host this event and special guest this year in radio talk show host Michael Berry. Tickets are $75 each, a VIP pass costs $100. You can buy them online.

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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Senator hopes for sense in session

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By Tony Farkas
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Sen. Dr. Charles  SchwertnerSen. Dr. Charles SchwertnerAUSTIN — San Jacinto County’s newest representative, Sen. Dr. Charles Schwertner, looks for a more prosperous county while ensuring the state spends money wisely.

The Texas Legislature banged into session on Tuesday, focusing on what Schwertner said is its main responsibility of creating a two-year budget.

Schwertner is now considered a senior senator — 10th in seniority of the 31-member body — and has a hand in shepherding bills to the governor’s desk.

“Each session is different; I’ve been in six, and this is seventh,” he said. “Sometimes we have money, sometimes not, and we must pass the budget.

“We have some extra money , but its hard to spend that wisely,” he said. “I look forward to making sure that areas of infrastructure are taken care of, such as roads, water and power.”

Schwertner is a fiscal conserve, and any time the Legislature has the means to return funds to people, it should do that. That also can be done by reining in appraisal prices and raising the homestead exemption.

“In the long term, we need to determine how much money we can put away, and right now we have a surplus,” he said. “Some of that goes into the rainy-day fund, and that is capped at 10 percent. I will look to raise that cap to not have to spend it.”

Schwertner said both the Texas economy and budget are growing, with the budget nearing a quarter of a trillion dollars. Because of economic fluctuations, and the possibility of a recession and inflation being what it is, it would be prudent to have a bigger cushion.

The senator is chair of numerous committees, such as the Sunset Committee, but most especially the committee on Business and Commerce.

About 30 percent of all legislation flows through his committee, which also has jurisdiction over the power distribution. Because of that, Schwertner said he has sponsored the Public Utilities Commission reform bill after the issues that cropped up during Winter Storm Uri two years ago.

Other areas of importance include education, which Schwertner said he would like to see schools in San Jacinto County get their fair share of resources.

Regarding San Jacinto county, a rural county, Schwertner said he wants to key in on economic development.

“That’s high on my list,” he said. “I’ve offered bills to raise the franchise tax exemption from $250,000 to $1 million, which would help small businesses. Small businesses are the job creators in Texas.”

Schwertner said he is honored to represent San Jacinto County, one of 11 counties in his district and one of the strongest Republican voting counties, on that shares his values. There will be a San Jacinto Day on Feb. 16, and his constituents in the county are invited to the Capitol.

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Ready for the second half

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Shepherd ISD staff learn strategies to engage with their students. Courtesy photosShepherd ISD staff learn strategies to engage with their students. Courtesy photos

Special to the News-Times

Each campus at Shepherd ISD participated in a Capturing Kids Hearts reboot to start the new semester, during the Teacher Workday on Jan. 3.

The High School team got a few laughs from the role-playing portion, reviewed the components of CKH, discussed ways to greet and interact with students, provide daily affirmations, and reviewed how to support students.

All Shepherd ISD staff members are ready for a fresh start to the 2023 school year and look forward to seeing the smiles on our students’ faces.

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Bailes to focus on property taxes, education

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010523 bailesBy Tony Farkas
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AUSTIN — Property taxes and education will be the cornerstones of the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature.

The session starts Tuesday, and Rep. Ernest Bailes of Shepherd said property taxes, or more importantly property tax relief, is at the top of the list.

“Property taxes are the biggest thing we still are working on, and we’re looking to get certain caps in place,” Bailes said. “The rates aren’t the issue, but the actual appraisals are.”

Bailes said that property values increased about 14 percent, but the tax rate either remained the same or dropped a little, and for property owners, the math is simple — either you

write the same check for taxes, or you write it for a little bit less or a little bit more.

“You can say you’ve dropped property tax rates for 5 years in a row, but with appraisals growing, you’re still writing a bigger check,” he said.

Bailes also said the state doesn’t do much for commercial property taxes, which can be extremely expensive for small businesses. Those taxes, he said, could go up 75 to 100 percent in a year’s time regardless of the shape of the economy, and people can’t continue to run a business like that.

For education, Bailes said that there is a lot of talk regarding school choice, but in reality, it is a different way of saying a voucher system. However, with state money comes state parameters, and instead of moving state money around, Bailes hopes to level the playing field and make all schools in the state equally attractive.

He also said we need to keep focus on actual education and keep social issues out of the equation.

“The difficult part is that at the state level, we preach local control over schools until we don’t like what the schools do, and then try to tell the schools how to do it better,” he said.

Other items of interest, Bailes said, that particularly for San Jacinto County, it’s inevitable that growth is coming, so he would like to ensure that all growth in the county is positive growth, and that there is enough infrastructure to sustain it.

Additionally, rural broadband is still an issue, as there are a lot of students who don’t have access to broadband in their homes.

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County abandons roads

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By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court approve a measure left over from its Dec. 14 meeting that was delayed because it was unsure it could be approved with only three attending members.

The item, a request to abandon Webb Road and portions of Carey, Dolive, Kilgore, Lombard and Webfer county streets in Oakhurst, was on last meeting agenda, but no action was taken. At the time, there was concern that since Commissioner Donnie Marrs had left and Commissioner David Brandon was absent, that a small quorum was insufficient to pass the measure.

Other information was lacking, namely the exact portions of the roads to be abandoned, which also gave the court pause; at the time, County Judge Fritz Faulkner pointed out that it was a serious matter to close roads, as he did not want to leave any county resident stranded behind poor roadways.

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Greg Magee said that in 1899, the plat of the city of Oakhurst showed a subdivision with several lots, and several roads were placed in the drawings.

Oakhurst was incorporated as a town in 1980 and started closing roads that were not being used; the town disincorporated in 2000 and administration of the roads fell to the county, he said, and since a residents in the area have different ways to access his property, closing the roads will not affect any area resident.

Commissioner Mark Nettuno said he was all for it as it would relieve the county of any maintenance responsibility and moved to approve closing the roads with the proviso that anyone with valid easements can still access the roads.

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