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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Weather doesn’t deter best event

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Chamber President Barbara Justice (left) sets the tone for the Mardi Gras-themed event. Courtesy photoChamber President Barbara Justice (left) sets the tone for the Mardi Gras-themed event. Courtesy photo

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadIt’s February already. Rain and wind have caused some meetings to be re-arranged because of the weather. One big event was able to go forward and it was a great success: the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce held their first big San Jacinto County Awards Banquet on Saturday.

This was the first time we had been able to use Jones Hall since COVID hit us. The hall was full, the evening was filled with music from DJ Joe LaBlanc and catered by Mary Gray. The food was delicious and Joe kept things moving by announcing door prizes throughout the evening.

President Barbara Justice welcomed the guests and brought them up to date on the past year’s activities. She invited those who had not been to the Chamber Office to see the remodeling which has been completed over the last year. VP Katheryn Hall led in giving the Pledge and presented the awards. Cassie Gregory gave the Invocation and Christina Mallett announced the Auction winners.

The guest speaker was State Rep. Ernest Bailes. He reminded everyone he was a local boy as were his ancestors and went on to explain how the Legislature worked. From submitting a bill, to it going through what seems to be innumerable committees, with amendments made upon amendments, it is a difficult procedure.

He added that the State is working on how to use the excess funds in the coffers. Bailes said there were many different ideas on this situation, and it would take a lot of time.

Awards were given, photographs were taken by Tony Farkas of the San Jacinto News-Times, which won in the favorite newspaper category, and also by Terri MacIntyre, who is director of Shepherd Library. (I took a few too.)

The full list will appear elsewhere and also on the Chamber website, but I must mention how well represented Shepherd did this year. Voters paid attention to the online ballot as well as writing in for their favorite business, person or non-profit organization.

The Children’s & Community Impact Center came in second in two categories, won first place for Community Outreach and Teddy Elliot won first place as Volunteer of The Year. He also received a plaque which will hang permanently in the Courthouse.

Citizen of the Year was Brenda Myers for her work as Founder of the Impact Center. She talked about the how she was inspired to begin working for young people when so many of them faced great hardship, even to the point of some committing suicide. She began “Hug a Tree, Kiss a Fish,” a free weekend for families who could not afford to take their children for time out fishing or camping.

Best Towing Company was Will Hall of Shepherd, while Best Bar was The Den on the outskirts of Shepherd. TD’s won for Best Gas Station. More Electric and Calvert Plumbing came in first in their categories and Linda Deeter won as Best Artist. Paradise on the Square won for best gift shop and Paradise Grille for Best Breakfast.

Also featured was Sandra Houston, wife of Constable Sam Houston, whose work with rescuing dogs has been noted several times in the newspaper. Best Daycare was ‘God’s Precious Creations’ owned by Joyceyln Traylor.

Best Ministry was St. Galilee in Coldspring, Harris ‘Red’ Blanchette won Best JP, Commissioner Marrs won Best, with Commissioner Brandon second in their category. There were many more winners, please look them up on the Chamber website.

Shepherd Chamber invites nominees for board membership after Board member Bruce McInzie moved out of state to be with his ailing parent. If you are interested in being a member of the board which meets once a month on the fourth Monday of each month, please email a short bio about yourself to the Chamber web site www.greatershepherdchamberofcommerce.org. You can also call me at the number below if you prefer.

Members of SJC Women’s League will be sad to hear that member Linda Winkelman died on Sunday. Her sister Sylvia Roesler held the funeral for her husband Gene this week. Prayers are asked for her and Linda’s family at this very sad time.

SJC Republican Chairman Dwayne Wright announced the death of G. Nick Carter who died on Saturday. Please remember his wife Sharon and family in your prayers.

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 a member of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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County seeks answers to drainage questions

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Commissioners delayed action on approval of an affidavit of power line use at its regular meeting on Wednesday, citing a lack of information.

Representatives from M&S Engineering sought the affidavit on behalf of Entergy Inc., which is planning to relocate power lines in the area between Shepherd and Cleveland as part of a TxDOT highway construction project.

The affidavit simply would state that the county recognizes that those power lines were there and in use for at least 10 years.

However, Commissioner Donnie Marrs, filling in for the absent County Judge Fritz Faulkner, expressed concern about construction across county right-of-way and the installation of culverts. He also said he did not feel comfortable voting on an item without the judge or Commissioner Mark Nettuno being present.

Commissioner Laddie McAnnally asked if construction plans will be provided to the county; the representatives told the commission they only do engineering for Entergy, and since the project is a TxDOT project, any design information would have to come from there.

Marrs agreed, saying TxDOT needs to give the commission some answers.

The representatives assured the court that the affidavit was simply to acknowledge the existence of the lines, but would work with the county on their concerns; McAnnally said he wouldn’t approve anything, and the court tabled the matter.

In other business, the court:

•approved bond renewals for Anthony Dodson;

•approved handling buyout payments to Eastex Title Co. as a daily transaction, based on new procedures;

•approved changes to the county absentee policy to allow for 48 hours of mental health time;

•gave annual approval to the agreement between San Jacinto County Emergency Services District and the county;

•tabled setting a date for a tire reclamation day; and

•approved several items of county property as salvage.

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District moves to 4-day week

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The COCISD Board of Trustees showed off the fun gifts they received at the school board meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, for School Board Recognition Month. Pictured from left: Trustee William B. Baker, Board Secretary Barbara Moore, President Paul Buchanan, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton, Trustee Alec McGowen, Trustee Berlin Bradford, and Trustee Tony Sewell. Courtesy Photo by J.W. KirkhamThe COCISD Board of Trustees showed off the fun gifts they received at the school board meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, for School Board Recognition Month. Pictured from left: Trustee William B. Baker, Board Secretary Barbara Moore, President Paul Buchanan, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton, Trustee Alec McGowen, Trustee Berlin Bradford, and Trustee Tony Sewell. Courtesy Photo by J.W. Kirkham

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD officially approved the district’s move to a four-day school week on Jan. 23.

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton the district has studied the matter for several months, finding that 80 percent of parents and guardians were in support of the move.

Taulton said the district will take Fridays off, which will allow the staff to prioritize education, as Fridays have a higher than average absenteeism and early leaving, as well as children losing education time to extracurricular activities.

Along with education, the move will help with the recruitment and retention of teachers.

“We have mathematics deficits across the district, state and nation, and we need better teachers to combat that,” Taulton said. “We will provide kids with a high-quality education, and this will allow us to do that, as well as market the district and compete for the best educators.”

Taulton said it has been his focus to keep the best teachers in front of the students, and since the country at large is dealing with a teacher shortage — last year, COCISD lost 49 teachers — the four-day week is a way to hire and retain educators.

“Our pay is disparate; to have a competitive edge for recruitment, we needed to go this route,” Taulton said. “Without high-quality teachers, it compromises the value of education. Research will tell you that the biggest impact in the classroom is the teacher, and it is my mission to recruit and retain the best.”

In other business, the board:

•approved school board elections for May 6 and contracted with the San Jacinto County Elections Administrator for the event. The board position formerly occupied by Ashney Shelley, of which Alec McGowen currently fills, as well as Danny Williams, Barbara Moore and Paul Buchanan are up for election;

•updated the district’s insurance policy for risk management; and

•approved updates to policy based on Texas Association of School Board recommendations.

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Students place in academic contests

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COLDSPRING — On Jan. 21, 29 Shepherd ISD students placed in several events in the District UIL competition in Coldspring.

In art, Kallie Hammond placed second, Jeremy Cutia sixth, Emily Marcial-Gayton fifth, and Ellie Aills placed fourth.

In chess, Theo Waterman placed second and Stephen Parker placed fourth.

In dictionary skills, Paul Jimenez fifth and Kadience Smith sixth.

In editorial writing, Addyson Morgan took first place, Karolyn Hollingsworth second, Jayla Fisher sixth, and Jordan Thomas placed fifth.

In impromptu speaking, Brooklyn White placed first, Kaylie Medrano third, Felipe Aureliano fourth, and Bree Chamblee placed first.

In mathematics, Michael Watson placed fourth and Jake Papp placed fifth.

In modern oratory, Kaylee Kangas placed second and Bree Chamblee third.

In music memory, Faith May placed first and Adrianna Miles fifth.

In number sense, Richardo Lucio placed third.

In ready writing, Olivia Morales placed fifth.

In science, Jake Papp placed first and Harley Newton third.

In social studies, Jacob Wesley placed third.

In spelling, Riley Holloway fifth and Alivia Whitworth fourth.

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Chamber lauds county’s best

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Teddy Elliot reacts to his winning Volunteer of the Year award during the Best of San Jacinto County banquet put on by the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.  Photo by Tony FarkasTeddy Elliot reacts to his winning Volunteer of the Year award during the Best of San Jacinto County banquet put on by the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Chamber of Commerce celebrated not only San Jacinto County’s best and brightest, but the return to pre-COVID form as well.

At the organizations annual banquet on Saturday, more than 40 winners in as many categories, from best restaurant to citizen of the year, received accolades for their efforts over the last year.

Teddy Elliot and Robert Elledge share the volunteer of the year award for 2022, while Shepherd’s Brenda Myers, director of the Community Impact Center, shared Citizen of the Year honors with Sandra Houston.

Yvonne Cones, a Coldspring Chamber member as well as president of the Shepherd Chamber of Commerce, was named Board Member of the Year.

Chamber President Barbara Justice said she feels abundantly blessed to be able to speak with the people without a mask.

She also said the chamber’s accomplishments in the past year was like “a new beginning,” and compared this year and last year for effect.

For instance, she said, last year’s Best of Banquet was a small affair for chamber members only, and focused on business size, not individual business categories, as well as a few other individual positions. This year, the Best of awards were open to all businesses throughout the county, as it was in years past.

The chamber also was able to rekindle its lunch and learn program; gave out more scholarships ($7,700) than in other years; Wolf Creek Car Show had record attendance; Christmas on the Square was back at pre-COVID levels; and the office was remodeled to provide better services.

Justice said great and innovative things will be on the slate for 2023.

Rep. Earnest Bailes also spoke about the comings and goings of this year’s legislative session.

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