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Board discusses 4-day week

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Coldspring Intermediate Principal Paula McClendon was proud to introduce this month's school board meeting pledge leaders, CIS students Evelyn Sanchez and Peyton Sudderth.Coldspring Intermediate Principal Paula McClendon was proud to introduce this month's school board meeting pledge leaders, CIS students Evelyn Sanchez and Peyton Sudderth.

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Board of Trustees discussed moving to a 4-day school week, possibly to start next year.

At its regular monthly meeting on Sept. 26, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton informed the board about the process the district is undertaking to explore the option for the 2023-24 school year. 

Taulton said the switch would be in an effort to recruit and retain teachers in a highly competitive job market due to the statewide teacher shortage. 

He also said that the results of surveys that were sent to parents and guardians, employees, and high school students were in the majority favorable to the change. 

The calendar would be part of a three-year pilot program during which data would be reviewed to monitor the results in order to gauge its effectiveness and impact on student learning, he said. 

More information can be found on the COCISD website at https://www.cocisd.org/Domain/706. There will be a Town Hall meeting from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at the Jones Educational Complex to present draft calendars and discuss the plan.

Before the meeting began, the Board and district staff and administrators were treated to a delicious meal prepared and served by Coldspring-Oakhurst High School Instructor Chef Joel Casiday’s Advanced Culinary Arts students. Chicken fettucine alfredo was paired with a tossed Italian vinaigrette salad, oven-roasted garlic broccoli, focaccia bread, and tiramisu for dessert. 

To start the meeting, Board President Paul Buchanan led the Invocation and Principal Paula McClendon introduced this month’s pledge leaders, Coldspring Intermediate students Evelyn Sanchez and Peyton Sudderth.

In other business, the board:

•approved the Local Investment Policy and Strategies; and

•approved amendments to the 2022-27 District of Innovation Plan.

The next regular meeting of the COCISD Board of Trustees will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the Jones Educational Complex, 125 FM 1514, in Coldspring.

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Watching the wildlife

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Duck IDMore than 400 students from the area participated in a wildlife event on Wednesday. Students learned how to identify wildlife among other things. Courtesy photos

Special to the News-Times

Coldspring-Oakhurst High School students joined more than 400 other students from across the state at Livingston State Park for the Ducks Unlimited Field Day on Wednesday. 

Students from the COHS Wildlife Class and the Coldspring FFA Wildlife Career Development Event Team participated in the event. 

The students engaged in hands-on learning taught by wildlife biologists, Texas game wardens, and Agricultural Science teachers from several schools. 

“Students were involved in multiple activities,” said COHS Agriculture Science Instructor Beldon Rudloff. “They identified native plants that are useful to wildlife and learned how to evaluate habitats for different wildlife based on the food, shelter, and water needs of the animals. They also learned how to identify wildlife species by their tracks, scat, wings, pelts, or skulls, and they aged white-tailed deer based on the growth and wear of the deer’s teeth.”

They watched a demonstration on the training of a Labrador retriever to help retrieve waterfowl while hunting and engaged in a discussion with local game wardens about laws and regulations relating to outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and boating.

Rudloff said that students from the Coldspring FFA Wildlife CDE team will be competing at the District Wildlife Contest using many of the skills that were learned.

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Ribbons and luncheons and biking, let’s ride

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Ribbon cutting for SanJac Promotions by Coldspring Chamber of Commerce. COURTESY PHOTORibbon cutting for SanJac Promotions by Coldspring Chamber of Commerce. COURTESY PHOTO

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadIt was the 75th year for the SJC Rodeo & Fair. The weather was good, and it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves. 

We have a lot of events coming up starting with Coldspring Garden Club’s fundraiser on Oct. 1 in the Coldspring Community Center. If you are looking to buy home grown plants for the house or garden, do not miss this event. Be early, it starts at 9 a.m.

•SanJac Promotions had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday Sept. 23. This new member of the Coldspring Chamber has created a delightful reception area in their office, and they show their T-shirt collection outside under a canopy so you can see what you could design for your business or event. They can provide any and all promotional goods, pens, mugs, doozies or signs, just ask and see what is available. 

Located in Suite B at 15160 State Highway 150 West in Coldspring, you can call the owners of this new business, Rachel Erwin and Marsha Strickland, at (936) 653-3200. Go to their website at www.sanjacpromotions.com.

•Coldspring Chamber held its quarterly lunch at COISD High School this week. Chef Joel Casidy and his students from the Culinary Arts program provided a delicious three-course meal and we had Mayor John Benestante give us a talk on his plans for the future of Coldspring. 

He was followed by Sheriff Greg Capers who told us he needs more recruits for the police in our county. If you are interested, call the Sheriff’s Department and ask for more information. 

After the meal, President of the Chamber Barbara Justice talked about the Wolf Creek Car Show on Oct. 15-16. She also mentioned the Christmas event in Coldspring, the theme this year is “A Gingerbread Christmas.” 

Door prizes had been donated by many businesses in town and one in particular from People’s State Bank went to Cindy Chapman of Edward Jones Financial Investments. I wondered if she would get this enormous plant into the car. Camille Landry of Fullscope Pest Control and Kari Duggar, also of Edward Jones, talked about the ‘Rock N Ride’ on Nov. 12.

Kari said this is the 5th Annual ‘Rock N Ride’ and all cyclists are welcome, single, tandem or team. There is a choice of either a 28- or 52-mile route which goes through the Sam Houston National Forest. This is a great tourist draw, bringing many people into our area. 

For more information go to the Cleveland Chamber web page. Edward Jones has a Facebook page or call them at (281) 761-6687.

•Welcome to Jeri Bailey and Darryl Davis and his son to Coldspring Chamber. Jeri Bailey is a well-known realtor but is new in Coldspring. Go to JLArealtylivingston.com or call (281) 659-5492.

Darryl Davis and his son own Darryl Davis & Son Electric LLC are based in Coldspring and you can connect with them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (281) 622-1879. Ribbon cuttings for these new members will be announced soon.

•Trinity River Food Bank is working to meet the needs of the community and need community partners to join them. Wanda Campbell is the local director and she has several ideas for those who want to help in this community drive. You can hold a fundraiser for the Food Bank or donate to it. They really need volunteers so if you want to know more, give Wanda a call at (936) 653-3151.

•Friends of Hopewell located at 166 Perry Dr., Coldspring had their Banquet last week, celebrating their 25th anniversary. Esther Wynn says they will have a Community Fest on Nov. 12, and vendors are welcome to call (832) 401-4350. There will lots to do and a hayride for those who want to enjoy the fun.

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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Fair grows bigger and better

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Exhibitors work at the goat wash ahead of the Saturday livestock sale.  Photo by Tony FarkasExhibitors work at the goat wash ahead of the Saturday livestock sale. Photo by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Fair Board President Tommy Hues’ prediction of a good livestock sale on Saturday was more than just right, it was impressively right.

The unofficial total from the Youth Livestock Sale as of Monday was $610,765, which organizers call a huge record. Additionally, those totals are not final, as the fair board allows add-ons for two weeks after the fair.

This surpassed the 2021 total of $506,125. 

The top buyer for this year’s fair was Frontier Tractor and Equipment.

“The attendance this year was very good,” Hues said. “People always come out to support these kids.”

Hues also said that all judges were very complimentary of the exhibits, calling the quality of the animals great.

Additionally, Averey Moss, a freshman at Coldspring-Oakhurst High School, was crowned 2022 Fair Queen on Saturday.

Averey has participated in 4-H since she was 5, joining as a Clover Kid. She shows cattle, does livestock judging, consumer decision making, Beef Skillathon and vet science, among other interests.

At school she is a varsity cheerleader, and after graduation, she wants to be an ag teacher.

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Residents question county actions

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By Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.SanJacCountySeal

COLDSPRING — Several San Jacinto County residents expressed their concern to the Commissioners Court that the county’s business dealings were not completely above board.

At the Sept. 21 meeting, Gerald Deeter, after reading statutory job descriptions for county judges, berated the court for voting themselves a $6,240 raise at the last budget session.

He said commissioners already make $66,000 for 32 hours a week of work, since the commissioners don’t have to punch a timeclock.

Deeter said that while the salaries for commissioners were entirely too much, the judge should be making more. 

“I wonder what your qualifications are; do you have any degrees in road and bridge work,” he said.

Deeter said he the salary schedule was never published, in violation of the law, and those raises should be rescinded.

Faulkner said in the original budget proposal, there was no money for raises; however, the Sheriff’s Office obtained a contract for housing other counties’ prisoners, which will generate enough revenue to allow for raises.

He also said that auditors felt the raises were not handled properly, and the court discussed the matter with several entities, including the District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Association of Counties, and the recommendation was to form a grievance committee, since those raises are now in the final budget.

The letter states that Texas Law requires prior published notice of proposed raises for elected officials, and that those raises could not be paid out. However, the law also states that the commissioners could appeal that decision through the grievance committee.

Former County Commissioner Ray McCoppin took the court to task over open meetings, claiming the court is not in compliance regarding agenda items, which he said were not fully disclosed as to what was to be discussed. 

Faulkner agreed the listings are general in nature, but it wasn’t the county’s intention to “trick or treat” anybody, but that they are letting people know as much as they can.

Since the items came up under public forum, no action was taken.

Also in public forum, representatives of Friends of Hopewell, who had a request for American Rescue Plan Act funds, told commissioners that the organization was in no way affiliated with Hopewell Church, which was used as a basis of denial of those funds.

The court did approve the creation of the committee, and there will be a meeting on Oct. 4 regarding the raises. He did say the employee raises were not at issue, but only the ones for the elected officials.

Faulkner is chair of the committee, but not a voting member. Other members include the county Sheriff, Tax Assessor/Collector, Treasurer, Clerk, District Clerk, DA, and a number of members of the public to bring the total of voting members to nine; Faulkner drew names from a hat for the remaining members.

Faulkner also said that al 18 elected officials have filed grievances, which will be held at the October meeting.

In other business, the court:

•renewed the VINE victim notification service agreement;

•tabled a $86,072 change order from Timberline Construction for work on the Innovation Center to determine the proper contract language;

•approved the purchase of a John Deere skid steer for the Precinct 3 Road and Bridge Department for $91,900;

•tabled the replat of Peach Creek Farms near Kelley Road for more information;

•rejected a donation of church building;

•approved the purchase of a 2022 John Deere utility tractor;

•accepted a portion of Somerset Trail into the county’s road maintenance system;

•approved a memorandum of understanding for bullet-resistant shield grant for $40,020 for the Sheriff’s Department;

•discussed reimbursing a county resident the cost of a trailer which was destroyed by a tree on county property falling;

•approved updated contracts for housing out-of-county prisoners; and

•approved the purchase of six Ford Explorers for the Sheriff’s Department.

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