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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Point Blank aims to curb rental nuisances

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RentalBy Tony Farkas
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POINT BLANK — A problem that arose withing the last year has spurred the Point Blank Board of Alderman on Dec. 13 to regulate short-term rentals within the city.

Beginning Jan. 1, any property used as a short-term rental, such as found through AirBNB or VRBO, will need to be licensed through the city.

Mayor Mark Wood said the ordinance was in response to complaints received over the last year regarding parties, loud noise, parking and even drug use.

“We’re trying to get complaints under control,” Wood said. “The (renters) are treating these things like resorts.”

Wood said he did not know how many vacation rentals were in the city, but the council came up with about 12, all of which must obtain licenses through the city as part of the city’s hotel occupancy rules.

“This problem appears to have grown because of COVID … up until last year this wasn’t an issue,” he said. “We want someone that’s responsible that will react quickly when there’s a problem and get it under control.”

Wood cited a recent example from the Forest Cove subdivision, saying there’s no place to park, and when there’s a party, the parking irritates the residents.

The ordinance becomes effective Jan. 1. Once licensed, violators will face fines for complaint calls.

In a separate matter, the board approved the outside audit from Carr Riggs Ingram, which showed only one item in deficiency — the inclusion of depreciation of streets, which has been fixed.

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Change does a reader good

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Café attendees dig into their orders. Courtesy photosCafé attendees dig into their orders. Courtesy photos

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — Students often get stuck in a reading rut. Either they read the same books over and over or they just do not know what to read next. 

At Shepherd Intermediate, librarian Erin Goad hosted a “book-tasting” event as a way to help her students overcome “the rut” through the discovery of new authors, genres and series. 

With the help of library aide Stacy Watson, the library team transformed their space into The Reader’s Cafe and outfitted it with cafe tables and a hearty serving of books. They also created the ideal reading environment by adding touches of soft lighting and soothing music. 

While at the cafe, students were invited to enjoy book orders served to them by the team. After which, students were given additional opportunities to discuss and trade their books with fellow table mates. 

Fifth grader Brooklyn White said she liked trading the books and even if a book wasn’t to her taste.

“I could still recommend it to a friend,” she said. 

As the event came to an end, Goad said, “This really engaged our students and introduced them to a wide array of books. Many of the books we recommend were checked out and students left the library talking about all the cool facts and characters they had just discovered.”

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Middle school band wins accolades

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121621 band

Special to the News — Times

SHEPHERD — Twelve students at Shepherd Middle School have qualified for Regional Band spots after auditioning on Dec. 7.

This is the most students the school has had qualify for the band in at least 10 years.

The band performed Saturday at Tarkington Middle School, which featured all students who qualified for the region band from Shepherd, Coldspring, Splendora, Tarkington, Trinity and New Waverly. 

Region Band qualifiers from Shepherd include:

Katelyn Solorozano — clarinet fourth chair; Alvaro Villaverde — clarinet ninth chair; Serrenity Douthitt — bass clarinet first chair; German Morales — bassoon first chair; Isabelle Hooper — alto saxophone second chair; Alexander Osorio — alto saxophone third chair; Latania Salinas — tenor saxophone first chair; Brooke Bassett — French horn first chair; Ruben Andrade — French horn third chair; Josylin Clark — trumpet sixth chair; Addyson Morgan — trumpet eighth chair; Ariel Uriegas — trumpet ninth chair; Ashlynn Hill — tuba fifth chair.

Alternate was Wyatt Evans — percussion.

• On Dec. 6, members of the Shepherd High School Band auditioned for Regional Band.

Qualifiers who also are area-bound are:

Ashley Gonzalez — oboe second chair; Bryce Myers — bassoon first chair; Marsybeth Manjarrez — alto third chair; Ronnie Charles — fourth chair; Cole Russell — French horn sixth chair; Trinity West — tuba sixth chair.

Qualifiers are:

Marcelino Beiza — alto fifth chair; Angela Burns — trumpet 10th chair; Eddy Cantera — trumpet 13th chair; Jose Beiza — trombone ninth chair; Ethan Skinner — flute 11th chair; Josie Gallardo — clarinet 15th chair; William Hollingsworth — tuba ninth chair

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Property owners to get final warning

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property cleanup 300By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Property owners found in violation of the city’s nuisance ordinance will be sent a final notice by the city to get the properties cleaned up.

At the Dec. 6 meeting of the Coldspring City Council, members approved sending a final letter to people with problem properties, Mayor Pat Eversole said.

For several months, the city had originally demanded the property owners at 210 Slade St. and two pieces of property in the Park Place addition clean up their properties.

The city approved a new ordinance in August, saying it would be more appropriate dealing with junk storage, leaky exterior pipes, certain types of waste discharge, and grass and tree growth, as well as unkempt properties.

The ordinance states that once notified, property owners have 10 days to clean up the property; after that, the owner could be subject to a $500 fine per day, and each day would be deemed a separate offense.

Should the city receive no response, the properties will be cleaned up and then the owners will be billed.

In other business, the council:

• approved the report and bill payment of $5,022.54 to Inframark;

• discussed the 2020 budget;

• approved Goodwin Lassiter of Lufkin to do engineering and blueprints for restrooms at ballpark;

• approved an engineering contract Goodwin Lassiter for street work, to be paid for by grant funds;

• approved constructing a bluebird house on path at City Hall Park; 

• appointed William Baker to the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board;

• discussed the 2016 audit findings, which recommended putting new policies for oversight in place;

• approved hiring Jody Barr as executive assistant; and

• discussed budgeting for an additional office help at City Hall.

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San Jacinto County Court adjusts precinct lines, roads in county

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sanjacinto courthouseBy Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
SJNT Correspondent

COLDSPRING — With the year coming to an end, the court addressed changes in the county, including adjusting precincts with new census data and looking into closing roads that are hot spots for illegal dumping. 

Precinct redistricting

With Census data coming out in November, and in compliance with Census Redistricting Laws, an area of the county in Precinct 3 defined in-part by Highway 150, Millard creek, FM 945 S, Butch Arthur Road the East Fork of the San Jacinto River, and back over to Millard creek will now be in Precinct 1. 

Residents in the affected area can expect to receive a notice in the mail. 

The court approved the change unanimously.

Road repairs

During the public comment portion of the meeting, several county residents raised concerns over the lack of recent repairs on Butch Arthur Road in Precincts 1 and 3. 

While new culverts recently have been installed, decades of neglect have started to cumulate under the weight of industrial trucks that use the road to access several businesses. Reports of mud coming through cracks in the pavement and damage to trailers and vehicle fronts have been reported and are attributed to potholes that have been continually patched throughout the years.

With close to a million dollars budgeted from FEMA-related money set to go into redoing the entire road next year, residents are still wondering why roads are worse than ever, especially with recent raises in tax rates. 

The court noted patchwork had halted on the road since there are plans to replace it. County Judge Fritz Faulkner also made comments about plans to stabilize the road better to accommodate heavier vehicles. 

“Give us a little more time, they’re going to fix that road,” Faulkner said.

Impound building

Led by Lt. Ryan Bowen with the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, a proposal for a new office and impound building was approved by the court. While plans were approved, bids will still be needed for the project, as the costs is anticipated to be more than $75,000. 

The new building will be used to house dispatch workers, who are currently working with aging infrastructure and a lack of radio communication with a tower recently being damaged by lightning. Money from the project also is budgeted to fix the tower and improve radio communications. The building would also house detectives at some point. 

While bids will be placed, the county also intends on using their in-house maintenance staff for projects to help cut down on costs.

In a separate matter, a portion of Caldwell Loop West will be abandoned by the county following an unanimous vote. 

After deliberation over easement closures, making sure no residents would be left without road access, and notices were made in the paper, the measure was approved in part to return some land to nearby landowners and to install gates on the road to help mitigate excessive illegal dumping in the area.

The next meeting will be held Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. in the San Jacinto County Emergency Shelter in Coldspring. Public comment can be made at the beginning of the meeting.

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