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Council sidesteps VFD issue

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Point Blank City LogoBy Tony Farkas
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POINT BLANK — Both sides of a disagreement at the Point Blank VFD have approached the Point Blank City Council, which in turn has issued a statement that it does not have a position.

At its regular meeting on Dec. 12, council members heard from the PBVFD leadership about the dismissal of several firefighters and other complaints that have been levied against VFD.

The VFD told the council it has proceeded as it always has since its inception.

Among the issues claimed by former members of the VFD, the chief and assistant chief met privately to amend the group’s bylaws, and when existing VFD volunteers voiced objections, they were let go or demoted.

One of the firefighters had planned to run for chief in an upcoming election but was fired within hours of his announcement. According to the new bylaws, he is now ineligible for the election.

Additionally, the ex-firefighters say they have been reprimanded for arriving at emergency sites ahead of EMS crews, which violates PBVFD procedure as per a verbal order.

The firefighters have taken up their case with the Emergency Services District and have been seeking to win public opinion as well.

The city took no action about the disagreement and issued a statement that the council is aware that there are disputes and issues within the PBVFD and, as yet, has not taken a unified position.

The council, through the statement, hopes to assure the Community, ESD, and the PBVFD that if the City feels the need to intervene, it will issue concerns directly to ESD or the PBVFD.

The city has not involved itself in any other investigative route, demand of action, or informational request. Such actions are not issued by the City, and do not represent the City of Point Blank, according to the statement

In other business, the council:

•accepted the latest audit, which was in line. The council was given suggestions to put an asset policy in place, and to capitalize street repairs.

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Council takes on park repairs

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City Of Shepheard

SJNT staff

SHEPHERD — The recent Christmas celebration at the city park gave the Shepherd Board of Aldermen the impetus to step up its maintenance of city property.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said during the setup for the event, it was found that there were problems with a restroom which had not been used in some time, and that many electrical outlets were damaged and not functioning.

The council approved handling the repairs in-house.

In other business, the council:

•re-appointed Mark Porter as Mayor Pro Tem;

•reappointed Harris Blanchette as Municipal Judge;

•tabled action on a request by Jeff Langham to purchase a portion of the alley of Block 64;

•approved a sewer extension request for Mike Rose;

•tabled action on installing streetlights along Finger and Seal streets; and

•approved the ESD’s use of the Community Center to receive bids for the Coldspring VFD on Jan. 1, 2023.

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Sheriff’s Department provides happy Christmas

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EJG 0974

Special to the News-Times

Christmas came early for a select few of San Jacinto County kids.

Several weeks ago, Sheriff Greg Capers called a meeting with his Patrol Lt. Ray Bowen and senior members of the dispatch team, Jane Cooksey and Meagan McDougle, to establish what will become a yearly program to bring smiles to the little ones of our county.

“Santa” Capers announced to his team that he would be reaching out to the community for contributions of bicycles that would be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis who responded to a Facebook solicitation, as well as word of mouth throughout the community.

Not to anyone’s surprise, the line was out the door on this Thursday morning, 22 December when the parents whose names were selected went on to receive the much-anticipated bicycles.

Capers said, “In my business you don’t have many opportunities to see so many smiles on so many people all at one time, it warms my heart.”

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County deals with Innovation Center issues

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Timberline Construction poured concrete for the foundation of the county’s Innovation Center. Photo courtesy of Mark WoodTimberline Construction poured concrete for the foundation of the county’s Innovation Center. Photo courtesy of Mark Wood

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court moved to save money on the construction of its Innovation Center.

During its regular meeting on Dec. 14, the court discussed changing the water supply line size.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner said he was contacted by the water company asked about the proposed 3-inch water main. Faulkner said the building possibly was overdesigned, and since the building would not be used as a shelter and did not need a fire suppression system, there was no need for large water service, so a change was made to a 2-inch line.

While the change in line size would be handled in a change order from the contractor, the county felt it was proper to approve the change to a smaller feeder line.

Additionally, project manager Mark Wood said that at a job site meeting recently, it was discovered that there were no floor plugs included in the design.

Wood said he asked the contractor to look at it before they poured the foundation; the contractor proposed placing  a floor box in the center of each of the training rooms, and three in the Office of Emergency Management area at a cost of $23,574.

Faulkner and the commissioners balked at the cost and suggested that county personnel do the work prior to the foundation being poured.

“I don’t want to be the guy who voted to spend 23 thousand to put plugs in,” Faulkner said.

Commissioner Laddie McAnnaly asked if the county could do the work themselves; there was a question of whether the site belonged to Timberline Construction during construction or was it a county property and they can do what they want.

Faulkner agreed, saying it was a great idea for the county staff to do the work, but it would be done at a later time.

In other business, the court:

•declared an acre of land in Coldspring as surplus and put it up for sale with a minimum of $25,000;

•approved a proposed list of people to serve on the county’s Historical Commission;

•appointed Trisha Basham as the county’s flood plain manager;

•approved catering by Mary Gray for the county Christmas party;

•took no action on abandoning Webb, Carey, Dolive, Kilgore, Lombard and Webfer county streets in Oakhurst, as a motion by Commissioner Mark Nettuno died for lack of a second;

•approved the replat of two lots in the Waterwood subdivision;

•approved bond renewal for the district clerk, county clerk, and the four precinct Justices;

•approved an agreement with the city of Shepherd for permitting and inspections;

•approved an agreement with the city of Point Blank; and

•awarded the bid for grant application and engineering services for the PB&SC Water Co. to J.F. Fontaine and Associates.

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Coldspring OKs budget Coldspring OKs budget

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coldspringcityBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council passed its 2023 budget at its regular meeting on Dec. 5.

Mayor John Benestante said the $1.42 million budget has close to $1 million in grant funds in it — $631,000 for a sewer project and $240k for design funds.

Benestante said overall, the budget is $81,000 less than last year.

Additionally, there are two projects in budget; Benestante said he would like to place an electric marquee at City Hall for information for tourists and things like a fire ban, and the city will build a storage facility behind City Hall to help with its records retention.

In a related matter, the council approved a resolution supporting the Coldspring Area Library, the Volunteer Fire Department and the San Jacinto Senior Citizens Center. Benestante said the city budget will contain “rainy day” funds for these organizations, which while they are not city departments, they provided numerous benefits to the city.

In other business, the council:

•discussed operations at the wastewater plant, which is operating at 16 percent of capacity;

•discussed the specifications on construction of a concession stand;

•approved grant administration; and

•approved amending budget to purchase van for the senior center.

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