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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

County seeking more grant funds

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court opted to move forward with several grant applications for fire prevention and solid waste disposal.

The vote came during the regular meeting on Wednesday.

While the county approved the application in September, it approved a contract with Langford Community Management Services for grant administrator services in connection with the wildfire protection plan grant.

Additionally, the county approved agreements with the cities of Coldspring, Shepherd and Point Blank to be part of the application and planning processes, and a resolution urging action.

In a separate matter, the county approved the application for a DETCOG solid waste grant, which if received will go toward a county-wide tire cleanup day. Last year, a similar event brought in 55,000 pounds of tires to be recycled.

Commissioner David Brandon was named administrator for the grant.

In other business, the county:

•approved advertising county property at High Creek and Clear Creek to be sold at auction. The bids will be advertised for 30 days and will have a $15,000 minimum;

•approved an agreement with Tyler Technologies for software;

•approved a grant request for indigent defense;

•proclaimed October as Head Start Awareness Month;

•approved the purchase of a used 2011 Ford F-750 dump truck for $48,000;

•approved the designation of office equipment as salvage; and

•approved a revised plat for Jeffrey Bell that combines two lots. Commissioner Mark Nettuno reminded the court that taxes will still be due on the two lots in the coming tax cycle.

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Conservator gives SISD glowing review

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The Shepherd ISD principals, Danielle McCabe, Ty Stanley, Patricia Owens and Alissa Lott, were honored by Superintendent Jason Hewitt for National Principals Month. COURTESY PHOTOThe Shepherd ISD principals, Danielle McCabe, Ty Stanley, Patricia Owens and Alissa Lott, were honored by Superintendent Jason Hewitt for National Principals Month. COURTESY PHOTO

By Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — TEA Conservator Trish Hanks said Shepherd ISD should give presentations on its efforts to turn around an underperforming district and focusing on improving education.

At the SISD regular meeting on Thursday, Hanks discussed a needs assessment she performed on the district since becoming its conservator several months ago.

Hanks lauded the district’s approach to safety and its commitment to culture.

She also said the district has done innovative things to recruit and retain teachers, which she labeled as ahead of other districts.

Other areas of praise included teaching and management and the inclusion of safety nets for education, fiscal management and the work and dedication of the board of managers.

A few areas of concern include watching for burnout in staff and administration, hiring a maintenance director and continue to focus on safety.

In other business, the board:

•approved small language changes to the schools compensation plan for clarity;

•approved the district’s and campuses improvement plans; and

•approved membership in the Wash Gallegos Retainer Program.

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Election on horizon

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ElectionCountdown STOCKSJNT staff

Fourteen propositions, two Shepherd school board positions and a bond election for Cleveland ISD are the choices facing voters in San Jacinto County in the Nov. 7 election.

Early voting begins Monday at 8 a.m.

Running for the Shepherd ISD Board of Managers is incumbent President Yvonne Johnson, who is facing a challenge from Mark Barnett; Board Member Richard Irwin is running unopposed.

For the portion of the county within the Cleveland School District, voters will decide if the district will be allowed to issue $125 million in bonds for school facilities, land purchase and vehicles. The measure would mean a tax increase on property.

The amendments on the ballot include:

•Proposition 1: Establishing a right to farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management on owned or leased personal property.

•Proposition 2: Allowing local governments to exempt childcare facilities from property taxes.

•Proposition 3: Prohibiting the imposition of an individual wealth or net worth tax on individuals or families.

•Proposition 4: Increasing the homestead tax exemption by a school district to $100,000 and increasing state funding for public education.

•Proposition 5: Renaming State University Research Fund from National Research University Fund and establishing an ongoing revenue source from the accrued interest of the Economic Stabilization Fund (the Rainy Day Fund.).

•Proposition 6: Creating the Texas water fund to assist in financing water projects in this state.

•Proposition 7: Creating the Texas Energy Fund to support the construction, maintenance, modernization, and operation of electric generating facilities.

•Proposition 8: Creating the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects.

•Proposition 9: Authorizing the state legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to eligible annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

•Proposition 10: Authorizing the state legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation tangible personal property manufactured by medical or biomedical companies.

•Proposition 11: Authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.

•Proposition 12: Providing for the abolition of the office of county treasurer in Galveston County.

•Proposition 13: Increasing the mandatory retirement age for state judges and justices from 75 to 79 and the minimum retirement age to 75 years, up from 70.

•Proposition 14: Providing for the creation of the centennial parks conservation fund to be used for the creation and improvement of state parks.

Early voting runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3 at the Elections Administration building, 51 E. Pine Ave, in Coldspring.

Weekday hours will be from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 1, and from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 2-3.

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City to supplement funds for road work

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City Of ShepheardBy Tony Farkas
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SHEPHERD — A shortfall in grant funds will mean the city of Shepherd will have to use general funds to finish repairs.

City Secretary Debra Hagler said that at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting, the council approved supplementing FEMA funds to get the FEMA grant-funded road projects completed.

Hagler said that the city had a difficult time getting bids, and those quotes were for more than the grant funds, so city will chip in $23,000 to match the $69,000 in grant funds.

Those projects include repairing 400 feet on Myrtie Street, 250 feet on Castleberry Street, 130 feet on Hickory Street, all of Seals Avenue and L.J. Charles Street, and a portion of Fifth Street.

In other business, the council:

•granted a manufactured home variance request for Natash Carr;

•granted a manufactured home variance request for Mary Foster;

•approved a replat for 21 Seals Avenue for the Contreras family to create equal lots from two unequal lots;

•discussed a lot split at 610 S. Railroad, which will be presented to the city attorney for review;

•approved the purchase of a 2022 Chevy Silverado for $32,000 to replace a vehicle for the Public Works Department, to be funded with ARPA funds;

•gave its annual approval for the 2023 Investment Policy;

•approved hiring Fresnal Than as a prosecutor for the city; and

•discussed installing new streetlights on Railroad Avenue.

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Coldspring continues ordinance enforcement

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coldspringcitySJNT staff

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring City Council discussed its efforts to clean up the city and its focus on safety at its Oct. 9 meeting.

Mayor John Benestante said that the city’s recent passage of a food truck ordinance has been a wakeup call for vendors and city leaders.

“This is being done for people’s safety and having people do business the right way,” he said. “The real test will be Christmas on the Square.”

Everything that has to do with food trucks is posted on city’s website, Benestante said. All requests can be done online, and once done, the vendor will be in system and it won’t be necessary to go through whole process each time.

One-time licenses typically run $25.

In a related matter, the council approved closing portions of Highway 150 and FM 1514 for Christmas on the Square activities, with the proviso that the city is provided a copy of an event insurance policy.

In other business, the council:

•approved adding the youth ballfields on to city’s insurance by adding $600,000 of coverage;

•discussed city ordinances regarding nuisances and several problem properties;

•discussed enforcement of the off-premises signs ordinance and will begin notifying persons deemed in violation;

•discussed the approval of a sign application for G.W. Wrecker Service;

•approved hiring Christina McGee to serve as municipal judges; and

•authorized Benestante to negotiate with Inframark for services at the city’s water and wastewater facilities, and if necessary, advertise for a new operator.

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