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Speaking truth to power

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Michael Berry, speaker for the San Jacinto County Republican Party’s annual Reagan Dinner, took photos with guests. Photos by Tony FarkasMichael Berry, speaker for the San Jacinto County Republican Party’s annual Reagan Dinner, took photos with guests. Photos by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Former Houston City Council member and radio talk show host Michael Berry expressed concern about the country’s future and the role leaders will play in that.

Berry was guest speaker at the annual Reagan Dinner Saturday, the fundraiser put on by the San Jacinto County Republican Party.

While the event was festive, there was a pall on the evening as a mass shooting in the county left five people dead. Speakers and organizers offered prayers to the law enforcement officials.

Berry did say that while the population of Houston were not there by choice, he admired the residents of small towns that want to stay where they are and preserve their way of life.

He also said that he is worried about the course the country is taking, and that for decades, things have gotten progressively worse and that has become normal.

“Things are bad in the country,” he said. “We may not have hit rock bottom, but we’re getting there. But we have to hit it, so it will force us to make decisions and changes that we normally wouldn’t.”

Berry said that much like with alcoholism, the country has to hit bottom to be fixed. He said we are in this position because of politicians wanting to create and maintain power bases.

He also said that honesty should be the best policy, which will lead to discussions and possibly solutions, but discussions have changed into attacks — not about policy but about hate.

“Doing the right thing is the best approach,” he said.

Berry talked about other topics based on questions from the audience, including school choice, digital currency, immigration, criminal sentencing, Tucker Carlson, elections and the electoral college.

He admonished the crowd to not focus on the negative, but to find the positive in every instance.

The event culminated with a live auction.

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Luttrell measure out of committee

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morgan luttrell portraitSpecial to the News-Times

WASHINGTON — Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Texas, said the Border Reinforcement Act of 2023, now headed for a floor vote, will help address failures in the Biden Administration’s border policy.

Luttrell is Vice Chair of the Border Security and Enforcement Subcommittee on the Committee on Homeland Security.

“President Biden and his Administration have failed to acknowledge the deadly, record-breaking crisis at our southern border, created by his dangerous open border policies and refusal to enforce the laws on the books,” Luttrell said.

The measure was cosponsored by all Committee Republicans.

“The bill calls for resuming border wall construction, revamping and adding reinforcements to border security technology, increasing transparency on ‘gotaways’ and attempted terrorist crossings, and bolstering CBP staffing,” he said. “This legislation is a major step to securing our nation and keeping Americans safe.”

The bill also:

•Requires Customs and Border Patrol to report Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) hits and whether the individuals were released into the interior of the United States.

•Requires a report to Congress detailing which terrorist organizations are attempting to exploit the northern, southern, and maritime borders.

•Requires CBP to hire and train an additional 22,000 Border Patrol agents.

•Requires DHS to publicly disclose and report to Congress information about illegal border encounters before the seventh day of each month.

•Establishes retention bonuses for qualified frontline Border Patrol agents who serve a certain number of years in their role.

•Provides increased support through grants to local law enforcement jurisdictions in land and maritime border states.

•Reinstates the CBP One app’s function to its original intent and bars DHS from using it for non-commercial purposes, including immigration processing.

Consequences of the Biden Administration’s open border:

•80 individuals on the terrorist watchlist have been stopped attempting to cross into America between Southwest ports of entry since October 2022.

•More than 5 million encounters at the Southwest border.

•In Fiscal Year 2023, CBP has seized 13,800 pounds of fentanyl coming across the Southwest border — enough to kill more than 3.13 billion people.

•According to a recent report from FAIR, the cost of illegal immigration for U.S. taxpayers is upwards of about $151 billion a year.

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Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD trustees up for election

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coldspring Sports logoSJNT staff

COLDSPRING — The trustees for positions 5, 6, 7 and the unexpired term for Position 2 of the Coldspring-Oakhurst Board of Trustees are up for election May 6.

Early voting ends Friday.

Filing for Position 5 is Dale Richards and Dennal Elmore; incumbent Board Secretary Barbara Moore did not file for re-election.

Filing for Position 6 is Bruce Wayne Ellisor and incumbent Board President Paul Buchanan.

Filing for Position 7 is M.J. Coker and Melanie Cook. Incumbent Board Vice President Daniel Williams did not file for re-election.

Alec McGowan, who was appointed to Position 2 following the resignation of Ashney Shelly, is running unopposed for the remaining term.

Elections were vacated for the Shepherd School District.

Locations of polling places on election day (all locations will serve all eligible voters):

•Elections Administration Building, 51 E. Pine Ave. in Coldspring.

•Evergreen Community Center, 7550 State Hwy 150 W in Coldspring.

•Bear Creek VFD, 11550 FM 1725 in Cleveland.

•Point Blank Precinct 4 Annex, 221 Boat Launch Road in Point Blank.

•Oakhurst Fire Department, 990 US Hwy 190 in Oakhurst.

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Golf and fundraising a good mix

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Karaoke with Ken Janik and Gregg Cones. Karaoke with Ken Janik and Gregg Cones.

DidYouKnow ColumnHeadLast week, on April 21, we celebrated the 187th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. This victory for Texas was a turning point in our state’s history and was celebrated with the Texas flag being prominently displayed around the Courthouse.

If you are a golf enthusiast, Trinity River Food Bank will be hosting a fundraiser tournament on June 10. This event will be at the New Grand Oaks Reserve Golf Course Country Club. Registration forms are available online at http://www.trinityriverfoodbank.org. You can call (713) 791-2325 or (281) 592-5000

•Coldspring Chamber of Commerce welcomes new members All Curb and Ferguson Flats RV Resort. All Curb will have their ribbon cutting on May 11. Ferguson Flats RV Resort has 50 spaces and is located off Hwy 3081. Owners Michelle Smith and her family are planning a camp for children and those with disabilities. The ribbon cutting and more details will follow shortly.

Shepherd Chamber of Commerce welcomes The Den Bar and Grill, located at 3510 US-59 North. This restaurant offers a wide variety of drinks as well as food and has a karaoke evening every Friday, closes at midnight. The ribbon cutting will be announced soon. Call (936) 628-3387.

•The Master Gardeners of San Jacinto lost one of their own on March 24. Shirley Baker, who was the current president, passed away at her home in Evergreen. Shirley loved cooking and worked diligently to edit the two wonderful SJC Master Gardener Cookbooks. These funded the recently completed outdoor Junior MG Classroom space at COISD. She will be missed by all who knew her and loved her.

•The Coldspring Garden Club will meet at 10.30 a.m. on May 4 to take a trip to Lucy’s Country Store and Tea Garden at 11 County Road 2177. Lunch can be ordered for $15 beforehand if desired. Call (832) 799-1310 to order a sandwich.

•On Fridays, Senior Citizens of San Jacinto County in Coldspring holds a karaoke session with long time DJ Ken Janik. Last Friday was a fish dinner, hosted by Tractor Supply of Coldspring, and it was delicious. The center won Best Non-Profit Organization at the award ceremony held recently by Coldspring Chamber.

Administrator Charline Smith won the Citizen of the Year award. The room was packed, and everyone enjoyed the food and entertainment. Gregg Cones, my husband, joined Ken and sang a selection of country and ballads.

While you eat at the center, you can also pop into the Sales Room. While we ate two ladies at our table bought furniture. One liked the rocking chair on display, and it was gone before dessert arrived. The sofa was also sold while we were eating. There are some terrific bargains there. Clothes, jewelry, home decor and furniture are some of the items to browse through.

Also eating lunch was Billie Trapp. This lady is an artist and historian and has given many talks to the different organizations in our area. She told me that she is now 93 1/2 years old. Ms. Trapp is still as sharp as ever with a great sense of humor.

•Vendors forms are now available online at the website for Shepherd’s July 4 event, which will be on Saturday, July 1. Call the Chamber if you have questions or visit http://www.greatershepherdchamberofcommerce.org

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 a member of the Coldspring Chamber of Commerce.

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Program shines spotlight

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Special to the News-Times

ATHENS — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Angler Recognition Program exists to recognize fishing excellence in Texas, and to further that purpose, TPWD staff recently completed a revitalization initiative for the program.

The ARP was established in 1971 and maintains the fish record lists for all public and private waterbodies across the state, inspiring anglers to get outside and enjoy the water.

“I have seen how this program inspires and brings joy to people, and I know from personal experience the fond memories that fishing can provide,” said Grace Simms, TPWD Angler Recognition Program coordinator. “My dad started taking me fishing when I was a young child, and he and I still fish together.  Seeing people of all ages with such passion and joy for this program makes me feel privileged that I get to work with these amazing anglers.”

The Angler Recognition Program, which is now housed at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, features multiple award categories, including rod and reel, fly fishing, bow fishing and the new state record all-tackle category. In June 2021, the all-tackle category replaced the state record/other methods. The all-tackle category recognizes records for largest fish by species caught by any legal means.

Records are registered based on weight or length at the state level as well as for individual waterbodies. The ARP accepts length-only record applications for the catch and live release of selected species in Texas public waters. This record provides an opportunity for conservation minded anglers who don’t have a certifiable scale available to weigh a record fish before returning it to the water.

Anglers can also be recognized with a First Fish Award, Big Fish Award, Elite Angler Award and Outstanding Angler Award. The First Fish Award acknowledges the first fish caught by an angler of any age. The Big Fish Award is handed out for multiple freshwater and saltwater species based on length requirements. Anglers then achieve Elite status by earning Big Fish awards for five different freshwater or saltwater species. The Outstanding Angler Award is a catch that does not qualify for any other type of award but still deserves recognition.

“Unless a catch is found to have broken the rules, every catch will receive an award, even if they do not set any records or qualify as a big fish,” said Simms. “Every catch that is submitted to us is special and represents fond memories and a joyful experience. It therefore deserves recognition.”

Anglers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with program rules and how to submit their catch prior to heading out to the water. Anglers are advised to pay close attention to the requirements for proper weighing and length measurements along with photos to accompany the application. Fish must be weighed on certified or legal-for-trade scales within three days of the catch date. However, anglers may also weigh their fish on their own personal scale and then get that scale certified within 30 days of the catch date.

Once the Angler Recognition Award application is complete with all supporting documentation, it must be submitted within 60 days of the catch date. The application and documents can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or sent via mail to Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, 5550 FM-2495, Athens, TX 75752.

Each angler who submits an application to the program has a chance to be featured as the “Catch of the Month.” One interesting catch will be selected by TFFC staff, and the photograph and description of their fish will be showcased on the Angler Recognition Program website each month. Photos must be submitted in conjunction with an ARP application for any of the award categories. Photos may be mailed or emailed but must be high quality and clear.

Participation in the program is growing, and in 2022, anglers received more than 660 official records or awards for their catch. Anglers set a combined 41 new state records and 393 waterbody records during the calendar year. State and waterbody records are awarded in overall and junior angler categories for public and private freshwater fisheries along with saltwater fisheries in the state. The program also officially recognized 307 Big Fish, 51 First Fish and 91 Outstanding Angler awards.

A few notable catches entered into the program in 2022:.

•Andrew Ibarra caught a red porgy in the Gulf of Mexico with a rod and reel on February 20. The fish weighed 6.86 pounds and was 24.25 inches long. The catch is the new Jr. State Record and the new Jr. Water Body Record.

•Brodey Davis set the new O.H. Ivie largemouth bass waterbody record at 17.06 pounds. It was the biggest in 30 years and the seventh largest largemouth bass ever verified in Texas (private or public). It had a length of 27.25 inches and a girth of 23.25 inches. The fish was caught on February 24 and donated to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning purposes.

•Michael Springer caught a 12-inch Rio Grande cichlid with rod and reel on September 26. He was awarded a Big Fish award, State Release Record and the Water Body Release Record.

•Tim Kapp caught a bowfin at Lake Fork with a fly rod on May 4. The fish weighed 9.34 pounds and was 27.5 inches long. The catch set a new State Record and Water Body Record.

Spring is a great time to head out with the family and enjoy the outdoors, so check out the current records, grab a pole and make memories chasing an Angler Recognition Program award or new record.

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