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San Jacinto County law enforcement think fast in July stop

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San Jac SheriffsCOURTESY PHOTO San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers (center) presented Life Saving Awards to Pct. 3 constable Sam Houston (far left), deputies Stephen Countz (second from left) and Jonathan Cortez (second from right), and Pct. 2 constable Ray Atchley for their bravery in a fiery rescue on July 23.

From Staff Reports

A quartet of San Jacinto County law enforcement officers were recently honored for their heroism and bravery during a traffic stop in July.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers gave Life Saving awards to a pair of his deputies and two of the county’s constables for their fast action in saving the life of a suspect who was on the run from several law enforcement agencies. San Jac Sheriff’s deputies Jonathan Cortez and Stephen Countz, Pct. 2 constable Ray Atchley and Pct. 3 constable Sam Houston all received the life-awards.

The suspect, who’s name was not released, had a known gang affiliation and was in pursuit of several agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Walker County Sheriff’s Office before he came into San Jacinto County while driving east on State Highway 150. The suspect was driving a stolen pickup truck and was suspected of human trafficking.

The pursuit started in Montgomery County on IH-45 before traveling east on SH 150 through New Waverly and crossing into San Jacinto County. Once the pursuit reached San Jacinto County, the chase went on for 4-5 miles before the suspect lost control of the vehicle, which overturned and hit a tree before bursting into flames.

Atchley and Cortez were first on the scene before Countz and Houston arrived, and the four officers devised a plan to get the suspect out of harm’s way and put the fire out of the vehicle. Countz held the suspect at gunpoint as he had a loaded weapon and Atchley, Cortez and Houston tried to open a door to the truck.

As flames grew while waiting on nearby volunteer fire departments to arrive, Atchley jumped in his truck and turned it around Houston and Cortez, with great risk to their own personal safety, began to tie a tow strap to the door of the suspect’s truck as Atchley jerked the window section of the door away from the post so they could remove the suspect from the interior of the flaming inferno while Countz held cover for officer safety. All of this was performed in a matter of a few seconds as the fire then engulfed the interior of the truck.

The suspect was taken to Conroe Regional Hospital for treatment before Homeland Security took him into custody.

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Coldspring schools going back to on-site learning

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                               PHOTO BY JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Coldspring-Oakhurst High School is one of two COCISD campuses that will do away with distance learning on Monday. Lincoln Junior High is the other.

By Jason Chlapek

COLDSPRING — Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD trustees voted to remove distance learning from Coldspring-Oakhurst High School and Lincoln Junior High during a special meeting on Nov. 2.

While students at the high school and junior high in COCISD will no longer have distance learning beginning Monday, students at Coldspring Intermediate and James Street Elementary schools will still have the option of participating in distance learning. Students at the high school or junior high with underlying health conditions will still be eligible for distance learning.

“The board met and heard input from the community, parents and teachers,” COCISD Superintendent Dr. Leland Moore. “We ultimately decided to go back to face-to-face in the high school and junior high, but leave it up to the parents for the intermediate and elementary. After talking with the principals and campus representatives, the board felt like some campuses needed to go back to face-to-face, while others were doing fine. We did this to maximize the learning process.”

Moore said combating Covid-19 is, “an everyday job.” But, he believes the district has a great person in charge of health services — department director Kristi Benestante.

“There’s something happening with Covid every day. It’s a struggle and we are experiencing some positive cases, but we have a very thorough process. Kristi has a process that keeps the kids healthy and safe. We listen to her. We had several kids identified as positive and she runs down the close contacts.”

During October’s monthly meeting, COCISD trustees approved the holiday and vacation schedule. According to Moore, “TASB suggests that employees who work 240 days get paid holidays and vacations.”

COCISD meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

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Coldspring FFA Member Awarded National American FFA Degree

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Rylee American PictureColdspring-Oakhurst alumnus and Southwestern University sophomore Rylee Rudloff earned her FFA American Degree last week.

INDIANAPOLIS – Each year, the National FFA Organization honors FFA members who show the utmost dedication to the organization through their desire to develop their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

The American FFA Degree is bestowed upon a select group of students in recognition of their years of academic and professional excellence. This year 4,136 American Degrees were awarded. Rylee Rudloff of Coldspring, who is a member of the Coldspring FFA chapter, was awarded the American FFA Degree at the 93rd National FFA Convention & Expo Oct. 27-29, which was held virtually.

Rudloff was a Coldspring FFA member for four years during high school. She served as an officer of Coldspring FFA for two years, as the Vice President for 2017-2018 and President for 2018-2019. 

Rudloff showed Market Goats and Breeding Heifers at the San Jacinto County Fair. She also showed registered Brahman heifers at Fort Worth Livestock Show, San Antonio Livestock Show, Houston Livestock Show, and the Star of Texas Livestock Show in Austin. 

Rudloff competed in Livestock Judging for 4 years and Public Relations for three years and Greenhand Quiz one year. She received her Lone Star FFA Degree from Texas FFA in 2018. 

Rudloff has continued her involvement in Agriculture after high school through her registered Brahman Heifers. She is currently attending Southwestern University in Georgetown, where she is studying to become a physical therapist and playing outfield for the softball team.

Sponsored by Case IH, Elanco Animal Health and Syngenta, the award recognizes demonstrated ability and outstanding achievements in agricultural business, production, processing or service programs. To be eligible, FFA members must have earned and productively invested $10,000 through a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program in which they own their own business or hold a professional position as an employee.

Recipients must also complete 50 hours community service and demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities and civic involvement through completion of a long list of FFA and community activities. Less than one percent of FFA members achieve the American FFA Degree.

Each recipient of the American FFA Degree receives a gold American FFA Degree key and certificate after being recognized at the national convention.

About National FFA Organization
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook and Twitter.


The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agricultural education. A separately registered nonprofit organization, the foundation is governed by a board of trustees that includes the national FFA president, educators, business leaders and individual donors. For more, visit FFA.org/Give.

 

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Shepherd continues flood grant application

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Early voting 1Photo by Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula Shepherd City Hall is one of the early voting venues in San Jacinto County.

By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

POLK COUNTY - The City of Shepherd will send two revised Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (TxCDBG-MIT) applications to the Texas General Land Office before the Oct. 28 deadline. If approved, both will be used to improve drainage and sewer functions within the city. One will be for $14 million and the other for $4.2 million, with the city being responsible for paying one percent of each.

More information on how the grants will be used if approved can be found at www.shepherdtx.org/public-notices. The city will host Trick or Treat in the Park on Friday, Oct. 30, with a time to be announced at a later date.The event will take place at the pavilion by city hall. For questions on the event or to set up a table, please contact Lauren Migil at 832-401-4058.The City of Shepherd meets every second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.shepherdtx.org and click on the “Agendas & Minutes” tab

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Todd hangs it up after 35-year career

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                               Retiring San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dan Todd (left) receives a plaque of appreciation from Sheriff Greg Capers during a retirement ceremony for Todd on Oct. 2 in Coldspring. Todd retired after a 35-year career.

By Jason Chlapek

SAN JACINTO COUNTY — When Dan Todd left the Houston Police Department after 30 years in 2015, he didn’t expect to get back in law enforcement.He had the opportunity a few months later to join the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department. After five years with the department, Todd is riding out into the sunset — again.

Todd’s 35-year career came to an end on Oct. 2. A reception for the Point Blank resident took place that day at Paradise Grille in Coldspring.

“When I came up here and built a house thinking I was going to retire, but after six months, I missed it and went to work for Sheriff (Greg) Capers,” Todd said. “I believed ineverything they were doing.”Todd held the title of Chief Deputy at the SJCSO. Capers talked about his retiring Chief Deputy as well.“Dan was a real good officer,” Capers said. “He has the highest integrity and I trusted him. That’s the reason why he was my chief. I wouldn’t appoint anyone to be my chief if I didn’t fully trust them. I’ll miss his humor. He’s a cut-up and he brought a lot of laughter, fun and joy to the office.”Todd talked about his career as well. He did “a little bit of everything” during his 30 years with HPD and five with SJCSO.

“In HPD, I was with the SWAT containment team, instructor at the academy, undercovernarcotics, I was everywhere. I moved all over,” Todd said. “At the sheriff’s office, I ran calls, I took complaints, I worked in the jail, in the streets, undercover — I did everything.”Todd enjoyed the multiple hats he wore during his career. He said it comes with the territory.“That’s what you’ve got to do when you come into a police job,” Todd said. “You’ve got to be almost like an actor. You’ve got to adjust and go with it and do it the best you can.”Todd had a viewpoint on citizens during his career. He plans on hanging on to that viewpoint in retirement.“There’s only two kinds of people — good and bad,” Todd said. “That’s the way I looked at it my whole career. I don’t care what color you are, just whether you’re good or bad.”

Capers made a few promotions to fill Todd’s spot. Tim Kean moves from lieutenant of the detective division to chief deputy, Larry Pohlmeyer moves from sergeant of the detective division to lieutenant, and Charles Dougherty goes back to patrol.As for Todd, he has plans for his retirement. He’ll do a variety of activities.“I’m going to travel a little bit,” Todd said. “I want to travel to see my daughter in North Carolina and I have a bucket list of places I want to travel to. I’m going to mix it up. I also like running cows and I’ll do a little fishing. Last time I fished every day for six months and I got tired of fishing. I didn’t think you could get tired of fishing, but if you do it all the time, you do.”But, like last time, he might decide to go back.

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