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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Shepherd ISD installs day care

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Children are welcomed to the new facility.Children are welcomed to the new facility.

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — As school districts across the state grapple with teacher recruitment and retention challenges, Shepherd ISD has taken a proactive step by introducing an employee daycare program.

Recognizing the need for daycare services among its staff, Shepherd launched its district-run Early Learning Center this month.

Designed to accommodate SISD staff children ranging from 6 weeks to Pre-K age, the ELC operates under the licensure of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Shepherd ISD ELC’s goal is to establish a secure and nurturing environment that facilitates the growth, learning, and laughter of its youngest members, affectionately referred to as “little pirates.”

Brittany Ellis, an instructional coach at Shepherd Intermediate School, is among the 13 Shepherd employees who participate in this program, and said the new program gives her a sense of security.

“The ELC attends to my child’s needs so I can concentrate on my students,” she said.

Ellis said the daycare solution has played an important role in her continued commitment to the district. The availability of reliable and high-quality daycare services not only enables teachers like Ellis to balance their professional responsibilities with their parental duties but also contributes to the overall morale and job satisfaction of staff within Shepherd ISD.

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County ordinance limits solid waste disposal

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Commissioners approved an ordinance that limits the area of the county that could be used for solid waste disposal.

The ordinance did designate an area of just over 867 acres in the southwest part of the county, near the Montgomery County line, where disposal will be permitted. However, a request to add recently acquired land to the ordinance was not acted upon.

Peach Creek LLC had filed a permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2019, starting a process of investigation and public meetings.

Area landowners have been petitioning the state, as well as the Commissioners Court, to ban the landfill, stating it would be a detriment to the health and welfare of the residents. Additionally, there was concern about the landfill’s proximity to Sam Houston National Forest.

One of the chief concerns was the route trash trucks would take to access the landfill — Jayhawker and Rajak roads — which is a residential area. Additionally, the roads were not rated for heavy loads.

Dana Moody chastised the commissioners, saying that the issue first came up in 2019, and the fact that the ordinance coming to a vote just now is disheartening.

“You had many opportunities to vote on this, but the delay has given them the time to purchase the land,” she said. “You guys knew about the health and safety concerns then; I gave you all the documentation. I wanted you to understand what a landfill means.”

Moody said people are walking away from the area because of all the problems, which includes high crime and illegal dumping of both trash and animals.

Carson Combs said he was excited to read about the proposed legislation to limit landfills but said that by including the portion where it is allowed “sold my little portion of the county down the river.

“In your ordinance, you said it’s not healthy, not good for property values, but you did not speak up about it when a firm from Mississippi came in and lined your pockets,” Combs said. “It’s time to stop playing politics with Precinct 3 and take out the clause that makes out portion the exception.”

Commissioner David Brandon said that when the company filed its application, the county had no policy in place.

He also said that the ordinance does not grant permission to create a landfill, because that is up to the TCEQ.

“We’ve done everything the county can do under the rules,” he said.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that once a permit has been filed, the county can pass all the ordinances it wants, but the company filing the permit will not be bound by them. Additionally, the county cannot pass an ordinance prohibiting landfills completely, it can only designate areas where landfills cannot be built.

Moody said that the application has not been approved, and that the ordinance should offer protection should the permit fall through. Additionally, she said the county had plenty of time to get an ordinance in place.

The county took no action on an amendment request to the ordinance.

Ray Sullivan, who represents Peach Creek’s efforts to build the landfill, said the company had requested the county add 189 acres to the area designated for solid waste disposal because additional land had been acquired.

The purpose was to change the route that disposal trucks would take to keep from using streets in residential areas, and instead route traffic to Fostoria Tram.

However, Faulkner said that in order to add acreage to the ordinance, it would have to be scrapped, rewritten, and republished.   

The text of the ordinance can be found on the County website at https://www.co.san-jacinto.tx.us/upload/page/6926/20230801085315.pdf.

In a separate matter, Constable Sam Houston, along with volunteers, informed the county that the newly constructed animal control center had some deficiencies that came to light once the shelter became operational.

Most notably, the electrical service was inadequate. Volunteers Gilbert and April Plunkett said that since there was no air conditioning, the fans being used were too much for the service to handle. Also, the drainage of the structure was inadequate, with water pooling when the floors are sprayed.

Faulkner directed the county to look into the issues.

In other business, the court:

•approved the revision of a plat for Waterwood to combine lots;

•declared a police vehicle and a hydraulic excavator as surplus to be sold at auction;

•approved the purchase of a compactor, a recycling container and a vertical baler at a cost 40,188.11, which will be paid out of the ARPA funds;

•approved bond renewals for Vicki Shelly and Sherry Shepherd;

•approved the use of the storm shelter on Sept. 21 for a fundraiser for the Coldspring Intermediate School PTO;

•approved extending an agreement with Tyler Technologies for software services;

•approved the fee structure for the Sheriff’s Office and county constables; and

•denied a variance for a lot split from Live Water Farms over environmental concerns.


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Scholarship season officially over

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DidYouKnow ColumnHead

I had the pleasure of giving the scholarship check to the last of the Shepherd High School winners this week. Shepherd Chamber of Commerce gave a total of $6,500 to students who applied and won scholarships.

For those graduating next year, please remember to apply to the Chamber. Ask your counselor for details in early 2024. Hunter Goodman is going to Sam Houston University to study agriculture engineering. His aim is to be a manager on a ranch and his qualifications show he has all the ability to get there. Good luck Hunter.

•Both Coldspring and Shepherd Libraries are part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Membership is rising rapidly with a total of 181 children receiving a free book every month.

Children from birth to 5 years old can be members. Books are mailed to the child, parents read the stories to their little ones till they can read by themselves. This is the best way to teach a child to read. This opens the door to success in school and a better future as they grow.

Dolly Parton now sends books all over the world and dedicated this Foundation to her father who never learned to read. She saw how his life could have been if he had learned and has worked hard to make this great idea a reality.

To celebrate the first successful year in San Jacinto County, everyone is welcome to come to Coldspring Library on Sept. 29 from 4-6 p.m. Both libraries will be there but Coldspring will host this party, bring your children, and hear more about it. You can register your child at the celebration.

Mayor John Benestante will give a talk and there will be a lot to enjoy. I will remind you about this date but mark it on your calendar now.

•Did you know we will have an election on Nov. 7 this year? There is a long list of to vote on and there are council positions to be voted for too. The San Jacinto News-Times printed a list of the so that we may think about our choices.

•Did you know that on Tuesday, Sept. 19, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day?

Starting in 1995, this was a designed as an amusement, but the idea caught on so expect to hear “shiver me timbers” and “you will walk the plank,” as well as some enjoying dressing like a pirate. Shepherd will join the celebration at Shepherd Library, where I am sure there will be a few pirates about uttering “Ahoy, me hearty” and other piratical terms.

•Call Coldspring Chamber at (936) 653-2184 to register your vehicle or be a vendor at the Wolf Creek Car Show Oct- 20-21. Shepherd Chamber has a new number — (210) 995-7420.

•I regularly choose a resident of our county to show how our community is composed of so many hard-working, committed and good people. We see a lot about the other side of life on TV and in the newspapers but there are many more unsung heroes who I like to tell you about.

Often you may know them from their work. Others spend their lives caring for family or animals or the land we live on.

Sylvia Roeseler spent her life connecting with others and caring for them. As a fellow member of the San Jacinto Women’s League, my first impression of her was how beautiful she was. I discovered she was beautiful inside also. She spent a great part of her life looking after family members but also loved entertaining and making welcome guests and visitors.

Recently life dealt her two blows in one week when her husband and sister died within a few days of each other. Within a short time, Sylvia too became ill and found that she had been visited in the hospital by many friends, as well as family, who wanted to show her how much they appreciated her.

She was active in the community, was a devoted member of her church, Coldspring Methodist, and was a talented artist. She passed away on Aug. 13. A life well-lived and well-remembered.

Contact the Shepherd Chamber at (210) 995-7420 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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Shepherd council repeals curfew

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City Of ShepheardBy Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — The youth of the city of Shepherd are no longer bound to their homes during the evening hours.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said that the Shepherd City Council voted to repeal the curfew ordinance at its Aug. 14 meeting because legislation has changed and it is no longer legal to have such an ordinance.

In November 2022, the council approved the measure, which stated people under 17 years of age had to remain indoors from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday evenings, and from midnight to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The repeal takes effect Sept. 1.

In other business, the council:

•delayed action on the use of FEMA funds for road repairs until budget discussions;

•allowed the Aumsai Corp. until Sept. 11 to pay a $4,000 balance on unpaid hotel occupancy taxes or it will be forwarded on for legal action;

•approved a settlement for fuel reconciliation with Entergy;

•approved a reduced rate for Shepherd ISD to use the community center for training. The district will pay half price because they are a tax-funded entity;

•discussed a workshop on creating tax-free zones;

•decided against reallocating a portion of taxes set aside for the Shepherd Economic Development Corp. taxes to create a road fund;

•ordered an election for the three alderman whose terms expire — Mark Porter, Curtis Ainsworth and Ray Marrs, and accepted a contract for election services; and

•set a budget workshop for Sept 7 at 6:30 p.m.

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SISD has new way to spur reading

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Intermediate school students at Shepherd ISD show off the school’s new book vending machine. Courtesy photosIntermediate school students at Shepherd ISD show off the school’s new book vending machine. Courtesy photos

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — This year brings an extra dose of excitement for Shepherd ISD students with the delightful addition to the campus scene — Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machines.

The units have been placed across three of the campuses — primary, intermediate, and middle school.

Unlike typical vending machines that dispense snacks or drinks, these innovative machines offer something far more enriching, brand-new books. The underlying concept is to foster a passion for reading by providing easy access to free, handpicked books in an engaging manner.

Erin Goad, the district librarian, highlights that each of these machines holds a collection of approximately 200 books, spanning a wide range of genres. This assortment ensures that students of all levels find something that captivates their imagination.

At the heart of this project lies the intention to not only encourage but also reward students with the gift of books. These books aren’t just temporary possessions, they are steppingstones toward creating personal home libraries.

Kriste Davis, a key member of the project team and the Director of Student Services and Talent Management, emphasizes a shift in perspective regarding student rewards.

“The purpose of this project is to change the frame of what a reward is,” Davis said. “Rewarding students with books has meaningful value that will last a lifetime.”

The process of accessing the books is also different from the conventional machine experience. It isn’t about inserting money but instead, a unique coin is the key to unlocking the literary treasure inside.

Students will soon have the opportunity to earn these unique coins in recognition of their commendable conduct resulting in positive office referrals and learning achievements.

Strategically placed in common areas throughout the school, these machines are easily accessible to students daily. The aim is to make books a constant companion in their learning journey, fostering a culture of reading that transcends classroom walls.


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