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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Commissioners Court updates projects across departments

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SanJacCountySealBy Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula
SJNT correspondent

COLDSPRING — Returning to the San Jacinto Community Center, the Commissioners Court met for the first February meeting, noting that some prescribed burns have been happening around the county.

The local District Attorney’s Office has tasked the court with being in accordance with the 86th Legislature and requiring that the court establish a Sexual Assault Response Team. Members are to be appointed, including representatives from surrounding County’s Sheriff’s offices and DA’s office of the counties involved, members from Children’s Safe Harbor in Montgomery County, and a SANE Nurse. 

This is an ongoing item and will be on the agenda at a later time.

Presented by Trisha Basham, clarifications were made to the road name change verification form. Customers will need to present three different name proposals to court along with the already established $500 fee for the private road creation, half of which goes to the 911 Department and the other half to the precinct who will provide a blue sign with installation. 

The court emphasized that legally, green signs are reserved for county roads and blue signs are for private, non-county roads.

The court approved the purchase of a new sanitation truck for $161,720 from Santex Truck Centers Ltd. 

Plans to hire an architect to design a renovated county law enforcement center have been established for future agendas. The law enforcement center is a project that has been in the works for more than a year now.

A bid for work on the Innovation Center will be on the next agenda.

The next Commissioner’s court meet will meet Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 9 a.m. in the Emergency Shelter in Coldspring, across from the courthouse. Public comment can be made at the beginning of the meeting.

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Taking steps toward proactive policing

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San Jacinto County Chief Deputy Tim Kean, Commander Lt. Ray Bowen and Sheriff Greg Capers discuss plans for a community policing effort in the county. Courtesy photoSan Jacinto County Chief Deputy Tim Kean, Commander Lt. Ray Bowen and Sheriff Greg Capers discuss plans for a community policing effort in the county. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Times

 COLDSPRING — Mounting concern about what is perceived as the new normal in criminal activity, San Jacinto County law enforcement personnel are looking to take policing to the next level.

SJC Sheriff Greg Capers said he is not only aware of the epidemic in crime, he has dedicated his entire policing staff to a program of Proactive Policing with the assistance of many community leaders.

By example, Capers cited that Houston and Harris County, just to the south of the county, has become national leaders in homicide, according to recent statistics.

“Within the next few months we will be taking our initiative on the road,” Capers said. “With the cooperation of community leaders, we will host a series of meetings with the residents of the county for us to ‘listen and learn’ of their fears and concerns, and to provide them with valuable insight to preclude them from becoming victims.”

Capers said the details of how the programs will work will be released at a later date.

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Officer does department proud

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Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office picked Michelle O’Laughlin as Employee of the Month.

Sheriff Greg Capers said being named “Employee of the Month” is not the easiest recognition bestowed on law enforcement personnel at the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office.

O’Laughlin has been dedicated to the oversight of inmates since 2015 and is responsible for and in many cases accountable for their whereabouts and their well-being while under the care and custody of San Jacinto County. 

Capers said that nowadays, inmate well-being has taken on a whole new definition for correction officers.

“The COVID outbreak has redefined what is expected of these correctional professionals who to a large extent put themselves at high risk of contracting this deadly disease while in service to the community,” he said. “It was therefore my pleasure as sheriff to accept the recommendation to bestow this award and acknowledgment for tremendous dedication always giving above and beyond what is expected.”

Capers went on to explain that not everyone in our custody has been convicted of a crime — many are awaiting trial — so it’s our responsibility to guarantee all the rights and privileges afforded them, which includes health and safety.

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Local students receive honors from SHSU

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shsu logoHUNTSVILLE — The students listed on the President’s Honor Roll at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville are undergraduates who have achieved a perfect 4.0 grade point average in all work attempted while enrolled in not less than 12 semester hours. The university would like to recognize the following students for earning the honor for the Fall 2021 semester.

Local students include:

• Cleveland: Peyton Bond, Katelynn Daugherty, Cory Harper, Jessica Preuss, Carolina Salgado

• Coldspring: Kynadee Benestante, Sanshae Goffney, Patrick Jordan, Sean Palmer, Kathleen Simmons

• Oakhurst: Jacelynn Head

• Shepherd: Riley Rodgers, Kirsten Schlagel

The students listed on the Dean’s List of Academic Honors at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, are undergraduates who have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.5 out of a perfect 4.0 in all work attempted while enrolled in not less than 12 semester hours. The university would like to recognize the following students for earning the honor for the Fall 2021 semester.

Local students include:

• Cleveland: Bailey Anderson, Peyton Bond, Cristi Broyles, Katelynn Daugherty, Kylann Dillard, Lindsey Eddins, Amanda Ferguson, Christa Grissom, Cory Harper, Ariel Meadows, Madison Moody, Jessica Preuss, Haylee Reinhart, Carolina Salgado, Rebecca Taylor, Gitzel Vargas

• Coldspring: Kynadee Benestante, Katrina Bennett, Kai Caraballo, Sanshae Goffney, Kari Jordan, Patrick Jordan, Sean Palmer, Jacob Seagraves, Kathleen Simmons, Allyson Smith, Curtis White, Shatrine Zachary

• Oakhurst: Victoria Birmingham, Jacelynn Head, Alexis Wilson

• Pointblank: Jonni Houser, Makayla Lane, Addy Ward

• Shepherd: Crystal Campbell, Martia Foreman, Destry Lunsford, Autumn Phillips, Riley Rodgers, Kirsten Schlagel, Leslie Thomas

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Updated property tax information available

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PropertyTax graphicNew and updated property tax information has just been compiled by the Trinity County Appraisal District and is available now to assist taxpayers. This property tax information is current and covers a wide range of topics, such as taxpayer remedies, exemptions and appraisals, and has information for select groups, such as disabled veterans and persons age 65 or older. “Whether you are a homeowner, business owner, disabled veteran or taxpayer, it’s important you know your rights concerning the property tax laws.” said Mr. Gallant, Chief Appraiser.

“You can contact us about any property tax issues with full confidence that we will provide you the most complete, accurate and up-to-date information available to assist you.” This includes information about the following programs.

• Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans - The law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans or surviving spouses and surviving children of deceased disabled veterans. Another partial exemption is for homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations at no cost or not more than 50 percent of the good faith estimate of the homestead’s market value to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses.

The exemption amount is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability. The law also provides a 100 percent homestead exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses and surviving spouses of U.S. armed service members killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.

• Property Tax Exemptions - Non-profit organizations that meet statutory requirements may seek property tax exemptions and must apply to their local appraisal district by a specific date. Businesses that receive tax abatements granted by taxing units; ship inventory out of Texas that may be eligible for the freeport exemption; store certain goods in transit in warehouses that are moved within 175 days; construct, install or acquire pollution control property; own and operate energy storage systems; convert landfill-generated gas; or store offshore drilling equipment while not in use may also be eligible for statutory exemptions.

•Rendering Taxable Property - If a business owns tangible personal property that is used to produce income, the business must file a rendition with its local appraisal district by a specified date. Personal property includes inventory and equipment used by a business. Owners do not have to render exempt property such as church property or an agriculture producer’s equipment used for farming

•Appraisal Notices - Normally, taxpayers receive a notice of appraised value from the appropriate local appraisal district. The city, county, school districts and other local taxing units use the appraisal district’s value to set property

taxes for the coming year . . • Property Taxpayer Remedies - This Comptroller publication explains in detail how to protest a property appraisal, what issues the county appraisal review board (ARB) can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing. The publication also discusses the option to request limited binding arbitration to compel the ARB or chief appraiser to comply with a procedural requirement and the options of taking a taxpayer’s case to district court, the State Office of Administrative Hearings or binding arbitration if the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the ARB hearing.

• Homestead Exemptions - A homestead is generally defined as the home and land used as the owner’s principal

residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. A homestead exemption reduces the appraised value of the home and, as a

result, lowers property taxes. Applications are submitted to the appropriate local appraisal distric

•Productivity Appraisal - Property owners who use land for timberland production, agricultural purposes or wildlife

management can be granted property tax relief on their land. They may apply to their local appraisal district for an

agricultural appraisal which may result in a lower appraisal of the land based on production, versus market value.

•Residence Homestead Tax Deferral - Texas homeowners may postpone paying the currently delinquent property

taxes due on the appreciating value of their homes by filing a tax deferral affidavit at their local county appraisal

district. This tax relief allows homeowners to pay the property taxes on 105 percent of the preceding year’s appraised

value of their homestead, plus the taxes on any new improvements to the homestead. The deferral postpones the

remaining taxes, with interest accruing at 8 percent per year but does not cancel them

• Property Tax Deferral for Persons Age 65 or Older Disabled or Disabled Veteran Homeowners - Texans who

are age 65 or older or disabled, as defined by law, or who qualify for a disabled veteran exemption may postpone

paying current and delinquent property taxes on their homes by signing a tax deferral affidavit. Once the affidavit is

on file, taxes are deferred, but not cancelled, as long as the owner continues to own and live in the home. Interest

continues to accrue at 5 percent per year on the unpaid taxes. You may obtain a deferral affidavit at the appraisal


•Notice of Availability of Electronic Communication - In appraisal districts located in counties with a population of

more than 200,000 or that have authorized electronic communications, and that have implemented a system that

allows such communications, chief appraisers and ARBs may communicate electronically through email or other

media with property owners or their designated representatives. Written agreements are required for notices and

other documents to be delivered electronically instead of mailing.

•Protesting Property Appraisal Values - Property owners who disagree with the appraisal district’s appraisal of

their property for local taxes or for any other action that adversely affects them may protest their property value to the

appraisal district’s ARB.

•Informal Meetings - Property can request an informal meeting with appraisal district staff to try and resolve their

disputes prior to attending ARB hearings.

For more information about these programs, contact the Trinity County Appraisal District at 123 S Main Groveton,

Texas 936-642-1502 or 103 W Caroline Trinity, Texas 75862.lnformation is also available on the Comptroller’s

Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/.

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