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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Riding high on the wings of a Houston championship

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DidYouKnow ColumnHeadYay! The Astros won and we got our extra hour of sleep. We will have a lot to be grateful for in our area over the next two months.

Christmas in Shepherd on Dec. 3 and Coldspring on Dec. 10 will be events to enjoy for all. Please look at the web sites for forms to become a vendor or enter a float or vehicle in a parade.

•Coldspring Chamber had the best ever Car Show at Wolf Creek Park. Well over 2,000 people came and enjoyed the weekend.

Next thing on the list for Coldspring is Town Lighting on Nov. 26. This is the 44th annual event and will have Mayor John Benestante doing the ceremony of lighting the Square. This will be at 6 p.m. although the event starts at 9 a.m. with vendors and sales, treats and fun throughout the day.

Chief Jeffrey Sparks of the Shepherd ISD Police Department.Chief Jeffrey Sparks of the Shepherd ISD Police Department.Look in at the shops on the Square. Paradise on the Square will be open till 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and after by appointment only. You can make an appointment by calling (936) 653-2332. Drop by and enjoy some light refreshments too.

•We had two very different businesses hold ribbon cuttings at Coldspring Chamber this week.

First was Lana Shadwick, attorney at law, who is renting an office in the Chamber building. This is to accommodate clients in this area instead of having to visit her office in Livingston. Ms. Shadwick handles family and criminal law cases.

Her experience stretches over 30 years. She was a former family law judge in Harris County, a prosecutor in the same county and has had experience as a probate staff attorney. The Chamber is pleased to have her as a new member.

To call or text her firm call (936) 239-6336 or call (936) 653-2529.

The other business is Houston Carriage LLC. Owner Hurn Allison, with Tim Moore who drives the carriages, has a fleet of carriages for those events like weddings, funerals including military funerals, and other events which call for a splendid showing like birthdays and parades.

There are glass-enclosed hearses and caissons for the military funerals. Mr. Allison donates carriages for those first responders and service men and women killed in the line of duty. Wedding carriages are of course beautifully crafted vehicles for the happy occasion and the business travels all over Texas and has gone as far as Mississippi and Louisiana.

Please look at the website for more information at www.houstoncarriage.com or call (713) 828-6790.

•Over the years I have been writing this column, I have met some extremely interesting people. I would like to introduce you to some of them from time to time. People who serve our communities but are rarely seen yet who do important work. One of them is Chief Sparks, Police Chief at Shepherd ISD.

I talked to him while planning the route for the Christmas Parade and realized how he does an important job which gets very little attention from the public. The chief has been in law enforcement for 40 years. The first 28 years were spent policing the 5th Ward in Houston where he said murders, car chases and violence were everyday occurrences.

Living in our area for a little time, he met School Superintendent Jody Cronin who persuaded him to retire from Houston and take over as a law officer at the school district. He said he was the only police force for all four campuses for 8 years. Change came when tragedy struck the High School in Santa Fe, and more officers were hired in our area. Today there are three more officers full-time with another three part-time who can be called upon if needed.

Chief Sparks said he found he loved the job and has never missed a day of work in the 12 years he has been here. The difference in his life was incredible, he said, and it was during the early years here that he became a dedicated Christian, one who sees his work as an extension of service to his faith and to his community.

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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VFD receives training aids through grant

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111022 VFD

Special to the News-Times

NEW WAVERLY — The Punkin-Evergreen Volunteer Fire Department received a forcible entry simulator for training purposes through a grant from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The simulator will allow firefighters to practice forcible entry scenarios. The simulator has already been used several times.

The department would like to thank the Texas A&M Forest Service for providing the funding to increase training equipment for its department.

As a member agency of the Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M Forest Service administers the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program and is committed to protecting lives, property and natural resources.

The Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program is funded by the Texas Legislature and provides cost-share funding to rural volunteer fire departments for the acquisition of firefighting vehicles, fire and rescue equipment, protective clothing, dry hydrants, computer systems and firefighter training.

Punkin-Evergreen VFD needs new members to help in all aspects of the department. For more information, call (936) 767-5151.

For more information on programs offered by Texas A&M Forest Service, visit texasfd.com.

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COCISD goes to 4-day week

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Community member Alec McGowen was sworn in to temporarily fill the vacant Trustee Position 2 at the COCISD Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 24. McGowen will hold the position until an election can be held in May. Photo by Cassie GregoryCommunity member Alec McGowen was sworn in to temporarily fill the vacant Trustee Position 2 at the COCISD Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 24. McGowen will hold the position until an election can be held in May. Photo by Cassie Gregory

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD Board of Trustees approved a three-year pilot program for a four-day instructional week

At its regular meeting on Oct. 24, the board gave its stamp of approval to start in the 2023-24 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton introduced the measure as a way to recruit and retain teachers in a very competitive Texas market, as well as to improve student academic achievement and attendance.

Taulton explained that extensive research had gone into the decision including interviews with other Texas school districts that have successfully gone to 4-day instructional weeks, surveys of staff, parents and guardians, and high school students, and a town hall meeting for all stakeholders. The overwhelming consensus was in favor of the move.

“The fact is there is a statewide teacher shortage,” said Taulton. “We have to do something to recruit and retain the highest quality teachers and staff. It doesn’t matter how many days a student is in a classroom if there isn’t a teacher there to give effective instruction.”

Employee salaries and hourly wages will be adjusted to adapt to the 4-day schedule without any reduction in salary, and arrangements will be worked out for students to be able to continue to participate in extracurricular activities on the days there is no school.

The program will be reviewed annually to monitor its effectiveness. Data to be reviewed include student academic achievement, size of the applicant pool for each posted job opening, student and staff attendance, and parent, student, and staff climate surveys.

In other official business, the board appointed Alec McGowen to fill Trustee Position 2 until an election for the position can be held in May. Former Trustee Ashney Shelly had to leave the position before the term was complete due to career advancement.

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County seeks details on agreement

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — An agreement between San Jacinto County and the city of Shepherd for permits raised questions at the Commissioners’ Court meeting on Wednesday.

County Judge Fritz Faulkner said the interlocal agreement with city of Shepherd was tabled for additional research.

Currently, the county does most of the permitting work for the city, but the city collects the fees, Faulkner said, and said commissioners will be meeting with staff in the coming week to have questions answered.

In other business, the court:

•approved the application process for a Tribal Consistency Fund funds;

•approved a change to subdivision rules to require permits from utility companies;

•approved a $5,000 limit credit card to be used by the Sheriff’s Department for inmate transportation;

•accepted a donation of bales of hay from the Blair family for use by animals at the county fairgrounds;

•approved the use of county property for Christmas on the Square, and provided funds for portable toilets;

•declared a DeWalt portable compressor as salvage;

•approved a bond renewal for Ray Atchley;

•approved a replat of Peach Creek Farms;

•approved Langford Community Management Services for administration of a PB&SC Water Supply Corp. grant;

•discussed the animal control shelter project; and

•appointed Mark Wood and Lonnie Thomas as inspectors for construction of the Innovation Center.

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Program receives grant

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TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez with COCISD administrators and local officials including State Representative Ernest Bailes, Coldspring Mayor John Benestante, and Coldspring Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Justice celebrated the award of the TWC JET Grant to the COHS CTE program on Wednesday, Oct. 19. COURTESY PHOTOTWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez with COCISD administrators and local officials including State Representative Ernest Bailes, Coldspring Mayor John Benestante, and Coldspring Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Justice celebrated the award of the TWC JET Grant to the COHS CTE program on Wednesday, Oct. 19. COURTESY PHOTO

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — Texas Workforce Commissioner Julian Alvarez visited Coldspring-Oakhurst High School for a reception to officially award the Coldspring-Oakhurst High School CTE Department a Jobs and Education for Texans Grant on Oct. 19.

The grant award of more than $189,000 funded equipment and instructional materials for the high school welding program for the 2022-23 school year and beyond.

The grant application was submitted by CTE and Special Programs Director Jeff Eichman.

“Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD was very fortunate to have been awarded as one of the Texas Workforce Commission  2021-2022 Jobs & Education for Texans (JET) grant recipients,” Eichman said. “The district submitted the JET Grant application in the spring of the 2020-2021 school year, written for the request of 14 Clean Air America Weldstation booths, 14 new Miller Multi-process welding machines, as well as other supporting instructional resources for the newly established Welding Program of Study at Coldspring-Oakhurst High School.

“The goal of the grant application was to prepare a minimum of 79 welding students for post-secondary opportunities, as well as the opportunity to earn industry-recognized welding certifications,” he said.

Eichman said the district was notified as a grant recipient in early September 2021 for the awarded amount of $189,316.

The district is waiting to hear news on whether its latest JET Grant application for the high school nursing program will be awarded. The winners will be announced in the next few months.

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