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072122 no school supplies

District provides swag for school

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD is providing school supplies for all students for the first day of school this year. No school supply lists needed.

With the exception of backpacks and zippered binders, the school district is making sure every child has what he or she needs to get off to a great start for the 2022-23 school year.

It should be noted that some secondary teachers may have specific requirements for extra items for their classes. In those cases, they will let students know after school starts.

With the tax-free holiday coming up on the first weekend in August, COCISD families will now be able to focus on purchasing clothing, shoes, and other essential items without the worry of long lists of school supplies.

From Aug. 5-7, tax-free items in the state of Texas include backpacks, binders, book bags, clothing, shoes (excluding athletic footwear), lunch boxes, and various school supplies.

Not included as tax-free is athletic clothing or footwear, athletic bags, computer bags and computers, among other items.

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Council starts budget process

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072122 council discusses budget

By Tony Farkas
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POINT BLANK — The village of Point Blank started its annual budget process with the first reading of the budget at its regular meeting on July 11.

Mayor Mark Wood said that the budget of around $659,000 will be roughly the same as this year’s but will include additional funds for street repair, up to $80,000.

He said the city is expecting a $500,000 grant from DETCOG, and that Point Blank brought in $127,252 in revenues. Last month’s sales tax revenue was $8,400, and the city has been averaging $8,800 in a month.

The city is in good financial shape, Wood said, with $200,000 in operating accounts right now.

The new budget should be finalized in September

In a separate matter, the city continues to deal with short-term rentals. Wood said that he doesn’t know how many there are in the area, but there are six renters registered under the city’s new STR ordinance.

However, Wood said there is a lot of pushback from residents of area, particularly since Sheriff’s deputies were called for a bachelor party recently.

“Homeowners want to rent their house, but the neighbors don’t want the noise,” he said..

Aside from noise complaints, the mayor said another problem caused by the rentals is parking, as the roads in those areas can’t accommodate many cars.

The city will continue to monitor the situation, he said.

In other business, the council:

• discussed updates to the city web page; and

• discussed the city using its road repair budget to finish projects before the end of the fiscal year.

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County upbraided for actions

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072122 budegt processMark Nettuno (right), San Jacinto Precinct 4 County Commissioner, takes the oath of office to Deep East Texas Council of Governments Board on June 23 at the annual awards ceremony in Lufkin. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — A county resident took the San Jacinto County Commissioners Court to task over its spending practices, particularly regarding the Sheriff’s Department.

During the public forum at the July 13 regular meeting, county resident Gerald Deeter told the panel that out of all of the 30,000 residents in the county, he found it amazing the five members of the court control the county pursestrings.

Deeter said he was concerned county funds were not being spent diligently and for the good of the community.

“You don’t have any accountability; you don’t have set hours or time clocks to punch, and we put an awful lot of trust and confidence in you,” he said.

Deeter said the county needs to monitor funds more closely, and give consideration that the deputies put their lives on the live for $34,000 per year, while the commissioners get $66,000 per year.

In other business, the commissioners:

•approved a request to have the county transport a large block of pink granite from Highway 99 and Fisher Road in Baytown to San Jacinto County. This block is from the quarry in Marble Falls, and was in route to the building of the State Capital in 1886 when it fell from a rail car.

The block was recovered 120 years later and has been donated to the San Jacinto County Historical Commission in memory of Dr. Stephen H. Everitt, who signed the Declaration Independence of Texas. This block will be placed in Precinct 3 near the site of the Everitt Post Office, and weighs 20,000 pounds;

•approved county personnel attending a cybersecurity course;

•approved the county accepting the unclaimed capital credits from electrical cooperatives;

•appointed Mark Nettuno and David Brandon to the DETCOG board;

•approved a 1-year lease to Health and Human Services for office space;

•approved providing a truck for the Office of Emergency Management;

•gave approval for work to begin on a community wildfire protection plan;

•approved an agreement with Valbridge Property Advisors for appraisal services;

•tabled requests for grant funds from Trinity River Food Bank and Friends of Hopewell over legal questions;

•discussed the audit of the Emergency Services District, which was received without comment;

•approved the installation of a generator 1651 S. Byrd St.;

•approved the bond renewal for JP clerk Kristen Reeves;

•approved raising mileage reimbursement to 62.5 cents, to become effective Oct. 1;

•approved the purchase of a new compactor for Precinct 4, to be paid for from recovery funds;

•approved the sale of surplus items through auction;

•approved a variance for Denson Allen;

•approved the rehire of Bethany Evans;

•approved the application for a disaster recovery grant from the Texas General Land Office

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COCISD Board OKs salary package

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071422 cocisd salary package

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — The COCISD Board of Trustees has approved an employee salary package for the 2022-23 school year to include a $2,000 retention stipend and increased teacher starting pay.

The $2,000 retention stipend will be paid out in $500 increments to staff employed by the district during allotted time periods starting in August. The stipend is provided through the federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund and is designed to recognize the unprecedented and unforeseen additional responsibilities and duties of staff due to the pandemic and to retain employees.

“In responding to the pandemic, maintaining instructional continuity, rising inflation costs, and teacher shortages, we know how vitally important every school district employee is,” said Superintendent Dr. Bryan Taulton. “We want our staff members to know just how much we truly value and appreciate the hard work they put in, day in and day out, to make sure our students are getting the high-quality education they need and deserve. Overall, we simply cannot accomplish the district’s goals without our dedicated employees.”

Also included in the salary package is a general raise for all employees of 2 percent of their salary midpoints and a 3 percent raise for teachers. Staff will still enjoy free lunch daily during the school year and one of the best medical insurance contributions available in the area at $359 per month.

Teachers in critical needs areas will continue to receive stipends such as $6,000 for Math/Science in grades 6-12; $4,000 stipends for English Language Arts and Reading grades 6-12; Spanish; and Special Education: Adaptive Behavior & Life Skills.

“This was an answer to prayer, as I’m sure many other employees feel the same,” said CCMR Counselor Kathryn Pedigo in a thank-you letter to the Board. “COCISD is a great district that is moving forward and making a difference.”

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Groups look to protect the land

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071422 group protects landA monitoring station will track any land subsidence in southern San Jacinto County. Area of the district experiencing sinkholes and other effects of land subsidence. Courtesy Photos

Special to the News-Times

The Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and Mercy Water Supply Corp. of San Jacinto County have teamed up to keep an eye on subsidence in the southern part of San Jacinto County.

Randy Baker, president of the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and operations manager of Mercy Water Supply Corp., said that even though county does not show signs of subsidence, having a system in place to monitor and avoid groundwater subsidence made sense.

“The groundwater district uses the data to understand land surface deformation trends and monitor subsidence to know if any changes do happen over the next few years of aquifer use in the area as we continue to grow in population,” he said.

Land subsidence (such as sinkholes) is the gradual lowering of surface elevation caused by compaction of fine-grained aquifer sediments (silts and clays) below the land surface due to groundwater well withdrawals.

Mercy Water Supply Corp. supplied the land and power for the groundwater district to have a monitoring system installed that uses GPS to detect any movement of the ground either up or down or sideways. The Harris-Galveston Subsidence District donated all the computer equipment.

The GPS monitoring station consists of a deep pipe that holds an antenna that collects satellite signals and an enclosure box that holds a receiver which stores the satellite data and powers the equipment.

The station collects data every 30 seconds, which is averaged over 24 hours every day of the year. The Groundwater District collects the raw GPS data and sends the data to the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District and the University of Houston that currently monitors more than 220 stations in the Gulf Coast Aquifer area to collect and process it to produce the rate of change in the horizontal and vertical directions. Then reports their findings to all the areas water planning groups.

Removing water from fine-grained aquifer sediments compresses the aquifer leaving less pore space available to store water, resulting in the sinking or settling of the land-surface. Most compaction that occurs because of groundwater withdrawal is irreversible; even if groundwater levels rise, compacted sediments and the associated land-surface lowering would remain.

Consequences of land subsidence already exist south of San Jacinto in Montgomery County, The Woodlands and the Houston-Galveston area. Symptoms of subsidence include reduced ability to store water in an aquifer, partially or completely submerged land, collapsed water well casings, disrupted collector drains and irrigation ditches, altered flows of creeks and bayous which may increase the frequency and severity of flooding, and damaged roadways, bridges, building foundations and other infrastructure.

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