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San Jacinto County News - Breakout

Food bank office opens

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Johnie Malone, warehouse manager for the San Jacinto County office of the Trinity River Food Bank, stocks shelves with dry goods. Photos by Tony FarkasJohnie Malone, warehouse manager for the San Jacinto County office of the Trinity River Food Bank, stocks shelves with dry goods. Photos by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — Help is here in San Jacinto County.

The newest food bank in Texas, Trinity River Food Bank serves four counties in Texas — Walker, San Jacinto, Trinity and Liberty — under the umbrella of the Houston Food Bank.

Christine Shippey, president and CEO of Trinity River Food Bank, said the reason the bank set up in SJ is that we have partners in the county, but we feel there needs to be more.

“We feel that we can distribute the food here and get the benefits going because there’s a lot of people that don’t know what benefits are available to them,” she said.

Shippey said these are the four hardest counties to serve for the Houston Food Bank because there is very high food insecurity and very low income; the average monthly income in Texas is $3,000 per month, but in this area it’s closer to $1,200 a month.

“There’s no stability in having food for families on a regular basis, and there are food deserts all over the area,” she said. “We are working with our partners and have created a hub that benefits everyone.”

Wanda Campbell, director of operations for the San Jacinto County hub, said anyone can get help at the food bank as long as they meet the criteria. 

“People can come in and either present a link card or fill out an application,” Campbell said. “That gives us information about the client to tell the state and county the type of people that are being served. If you’re not in need of food that day, you’ll get an appointment, and then people can visit the food bank once every 14 days.”

At each visit, people can get 90 pounds of food per family, and the food that’s available covers the nutritional gamut — dairy, dry goods, grains, meat, breads and fresh produce. Shipments come from the warehouse on Mondays.

“We’re here four days a week, Mondays through Thursdays, and we have developed a system to help people skip the long lines,” Campbell said. “People can make appointments online or call and talk to a case manager.”

Shippey said it’s more about food for their customers; they want to help the whole person and the whole situation to bring sustainability to families. 

“We don’t just hand out food, we offer wraparound services,” Shippey said. “We do referrals to medical clinics, indigent health care, GED programs, ESL, food stamps, job referrals; if there is a resource out there to help people, we’ll connect the two.”

Trinity River Food Bank is a partner distribution organization food bank, and has been working with the Houston Food Bank through the Covenant with Christ International Organization since 2017. It became Texas’ 22 food bank in 2022.

The bank will open a new 13,900 square foot distribution center in Cleveland for the four counties it serves in July, and then in the fall it will start augmenting school programs in the four counties, and then taking food trucks into the food deserts.

• Trinity River Food Bank is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 201 Highway 150 Suite A in Coldspring. For information or an application, call (936) 653-3151 or visit the website at www.trinityriverfoodbank.org.

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County spends grant money for raises

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The San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court proclaimed April as Sexual Abuse Awareness Month at its regular meeting on April 6. Assembled for the proclamation are (from left) SJ Commissioner Laddie McAnally, County Clerk Dawn Wright, Commissioner David Brandon, SAAFE House Community Relations Director Tammy Farkas, County Judge Fritz Faulkner, SAAFE House representative Carolina Mancilla, Commissioner Donnie Marrs, SAAFE House Financial Manager Twana Sullins, and Commissioner Mark Nettuno. Photo by Tony FarkasThe San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court proclaimed April as Sexual Abuse Awareness Month at its regular meeting on April 6. Assembled for the proclamation are (from left) SJ Commissioner Laddie McAnally, County Clerk Dawn Wright, Commissioner David Brandon, SAAFE House Community Relations Director Tammy Farkas, County Judge Fritz Faulkner, SAAFE House representative Carolina Mancilla, Commissioner Donnie Marrs, SAAFE House Financial Manager Twana Sullins, and Commissioner Mark Nettuno. Photo by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — After discussing critically low staffing levels at the San Jacinto County Jail, the County Commissioners Court approved using grant funds to provide a $3 per hour raise to the pay of current licensed jailers.

While the bulk of the discussion was done behind closed doors, County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that Sheriff Greg Capers, through a letter read by Chief Deputy Tim Kean, that a state of emergency exists at the Sheriff’s Office, and that they are requesting immediate assistance from the county.

Faulkner said that according to the letter, Capers is unable to hire people or keep people on staff because prevailing wages are so low. Currently, the department has 20 positions on a 75-member staff.

Faulkner said the emergency exists in that if the jail is not properly staffed, the state Jail Commission can shut it down.

“If the sheriff says he has an emergency going on, we’ll respect his determination,” Faulkner said. “We feel we have some obligation to solve this problem.”

Kean told the court that the situation is bad enough that patrol officers have been used to staff the facility to keep it in compliance.

Commissioner Laddie McAnally moved for the raises, and included a codicil that an outside department was to be hired to assess sheriff office pay scales or any other problems that may exist. Jailers without a license will be moved to the new pay scale once a licensed is obtained.

“We can’t fix everything, but we’ve got to start somewhere,” Faulkner said.

In other business, the county:

• discussed changes in the flood plain maps and the possible effects within the county;

• approved a work-based learning agreement with Texas Workforce Solutions;

• approved May 24 as date for a runoff election, and four precinct locations;

• approved seeking a grant from the Texas Department of Emergency Management;

• approved hiring election officials for the runoff election;

• approved a bond renewal for Assistant District Attorney Robert Freyer, with Donnie Marrs abstaining;

• hired Southwest Architects for engineering services for a Sheriff’s Office;

• approved renewing property and mobile equipment coverage with Texas Association of Counties;

• approved declaring equipment as surplus;

• approved two subdivision plat revisions to combine several lots in the Waterwood Subdivision;

• approved purchasing crushed rock from TxDOT for $20.75 per ton;

• approved selling surplus guard rail items at auction;

• approved the purchase of four water heaters from Grainger for a price of $30,680, and to take the funds from the American Rescue Plan Act funds; and

• approved the purchase of lighting equipment for a new animal control building for $2,271.69.

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Hunters win contest

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AdobeStock 307150742

Special to the News-Times

Area youth hunters received awards in the annual Tu-MiIe Sportsmen’s Association Big Buck contest.

The association supports youth outdoor activities in Walker, Trinity, Grimes, Madison, Houston, Polk, and San Jacinto counties. 

In the last five years, the association has donated more than $200,000 in outdoor sporting equipment and scholarships to more than 600 youth participants. 

The 2021 Big guck Contest awarded over S20,000 in cash and prizes this year. 

• Grand Prize Winner of a 2021 Polaris 450: Scott Whitehead of Richards 

• Largest Buck and Trinity County Champion ($1,500): Joe Sinski with a 158 B.C. 

• Ladies Division and Grimes County Champion ($1,000): Kerri Gilchrist with a 139 7/8 BC 

• San Jacinto County Champion ($500): William Boyce with a 155 3/8 BC 

• Madison County Champion ($500): Brandon Wood with a 120 6/8 BC

• Largest High Fence ($500): Garland Spivey with a 201 5/8 BC 

• Largest 8-point Buck ($500): Jake Dixon with a 143 BC 

In the Youth Division: 

• Boys Largest Buck and Walker County Champion ($1,000)• Colton Harding with a 1477 BC 

• Girls Largest Buck ($500): Mackenzie Dixon with a 102 5/8 

• Boys Largest First Buck (.243 Ruger American Rifle): Nathan Garner with a 111 7/8 BC 

• Youth Drawing: Benjamin Wells of Montgomery, .243 Ruger American Rifle 

Special thanks to Jimmy and Shawn Harding of Walker County Hardware for serving as the contest’s main registration headquarters. 

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Honoring the country

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Coldspring-Oakhurst High School Senior Harllie Davis recited the award-winning essay she submitted for the VFW Voice of Democracy competition at the VFW Post 1839 awards banquet in Cleveland on Friday, Feb. 25.Coldspring-Oakhurst High School Senior Harllie Davis recited the award-winning essay she submitted for the VFW Voice of Democracy competition at the VFW Post 1839 awards banquet in Cleveland on Friday, Feb. 25.

Special to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — Coldspring-Oakhurst High School Senior Harllie Davis has been awarded the 2022 Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy scholarship by Cleveland’s VFW Post 1839. 

The Voice of Democracy Program has been the VFW’s premier scholarship program since its inception in 1947. Each year students compete at the post, district, state, and national levels by writing and recording an audio essay on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s theme was “America: Where do we go from here?”

Accompanied by COCISD College, Career & Military Readiness Counselor Kathryn Pedigo, Davis recited her award-winning entry at the Post’s awards banquet on Feb. 25, where she was presented with the scholarship. 

“Harllie has worked tirelessly since the beginning of her senior year to find financial resources to help fulfill her dream to attend college,” Pedigo said. “I’m very proud of her!”

Davis plans to attend Sam Houston State University in the fall. 

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Walking in bigger shoes

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Coldspring Intermediate fifth-grader Isabel Sanchez learned what a day in the life of a school principal is like on March 24.  Courtesy photo by Paula McClendonColdspring Intermediate fifth-grader Isabel Sanchez learned what a day in the life of a school principal is like on March 24. Courtesy photo by Paula McClendonSpecial to the News-Times

COLDSPRING — Coldspring Intermediate School fifth-grader Isabel Sanchez learned what a day in the life of a school principal is like on March 24. 

CIS Principal Paula McClendon said the principal-for-the-day experience is one of the incentives students may purchase using points they acquire by reading books in the Accelerated Reading program. There are a variety of options available for purchase with the points, and students really look forward to saving up for their choice of treasure. 

“Isabel used some of her AR points to purchase a Principal of the Day coupon,” said McClendon. “During her day she visited James Street Elementary to read to students and worked with JSE/CIS Library Aide Betty Hopson at the book fair.” 

She was also able to participate in classroom “walkthroughs” to observe teachers in action, just like a real principal. The entire experience was a great way to find out what a career as a campus administrator might be like.

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