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One killed in two-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 59

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DPS20logo 1Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD —A two-vehicle crash on U.S Highway 59 on Saturday claimed the life of a Liverpool man.

According to reports from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Phillip Marone, 57, was pronounced dead at the scene the crash, which occurred three miles south of Shepherd. 

The report indicates that at 2:14 p.m., a 2003 Ford Expedition, driven by Marone, was traveling southbound on U.S. 59. A 2020 Mazda M3, driven by Coby Duncan, 22, of Shepherd, was traveling northbound. 

Marone’s vehicle suffered a tire blowout on the left rear of the vehicle causing it to roll across the center median into the northbound lane, striking the Mazda on the driver’s side. 

Marone was pronounced dead at the scene by San Jacinto County Justice of the Peace Harris Blanchette. 

Duncan was transported to HCA Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Additionally, there were multiple passengers in the Mazda: Maria Garcia, age and address unknown, was transported to HCA Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries; and two girls, a 1-year-old and 2-year-old, also were transported to HCA Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. 

This crash remains under investigation.

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San Jacinto County resident honored

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081921 sheriff award 1000

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department honored an Shepherd man for his assistance in solving a burglary case.

Brenda Myers, executive director of the Community and Children's Impact Center, said Teddy Theodore Elliot’s efforts helped stop numerous thefts from the center’s thrift shop.

“Each time Deputy Brian Cosme would respond to take statements, Teddy was always delighted to assist by reviewing all the videos and putting them on a sim card for the deputy,” Myers said. “Every time he would tell each and every customer how he helped solved a crime in our community.”

Myers said Teddy is a very kind and much-loved person in the community and is always helping others, so because of that, she contacted the Sheriff’s Department and asked him if there was a recognition process for this.

“(Cosme) reached out to Sheriff Greg Capers and with no hesitation, they made arrangements for Teddy to be picked up in a patrol car and escorted to the Police Station, where he was met by other law enforcement officers,” she said. “They presented a Citizens Award recognizing Teddy for assisting San Jacinto County Sheriffs Dept to stomp out crime.”

Myers said she truly is grateful for the kindness shown by the SJCSO to such an amazing person.

“Everyone who knows and loves Teddy also knows this will be a memory he will never forget,” she said. “He is a valued and very much-appreciated volunteer at the Impact Thrift Shop in Shepherd.

“I would like to recognize the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department for this,” Myers said. “They went the extra mile by giving him an award, a hat which he will probably never take off, a pen for his jacket and a tour of the Police Station.”

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Coldspring trooper honored

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081921 trooper award 1000

Special to the News-Times

AUSTIN — The Texas Public Safety Commission along with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw presented one Medal of Valor, the highest honor and award bestowed by DPS, two Lifesaving Awards and two Director’s Awards to department personnel at the PSC meeting on Aug. 12 at DPS Headquarters in Austin. 

The Outstanding Women in State Government Award also was presented.

“These awards exemplify the bravery and dedication that our employees exhibit on a daily basis within DPS,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “I’m pleased to recognize each of these men and women for their service and commitment to the state of Texas.”

Sgt. Rae Lee, a member of the Highway Patrol Crash Team in Coldspring, received the 2020 Outstanding Women in State Government Award. 

The award was created by the State Agency Council, which hosts the Outstanding Women in State Government Awards every two years. The 2020 awards ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19.

Lee is recognized by DPS and the court system in Texas as a subject matter expert in crash investigation and reconstruction. She is the second female in DPS history to serve on the Department’s State Crash Reconstruction Team. 

Additionally, she is an instructor, a field training officer and has taught hundreds of DPS recruits, Troopers and officers from other law enforcement agencies. Lee is widely respected for her skills and abilities, as well as serving as a mentor and exceptional role model for all women in the law enforcement profession.

Additionally, the following individuals were recognized:

  • Trooper Drew Stoner, Highway Patrol in Rosenberg, received the Medal of Valor for his actions on Feb. 20. That day, as he was pulling out of his cul-de-sac to begin his shift, he saw two men in a driveway. Then he heard gunfire and saw one of the men shot several times in the chest. The suspect walked up the driveway and entered the house through the open door. Stoner left his vehicle and went to the house with his weapon drawn. 

As he looked through the front door, he saw the suspect in the hallway with a weapon. Stoner shouted commands, startling the suspect, and the man complied with the order to drop his weapon and lay on the ground. 

Stoner approached the man, kicked the gun away and apprehended him. He then assessed the house and found a female with a gunshot wound. Stoner was able to provide medical assistance to the woman until EMS arrived. The male victim in the driveway did not survive.

  • Tech. Sgt. Kyle McCarty, Highway Patrol in Weslaco, received a Lifesaving Award for his actions on May 26. McCarty was dining with Sgt. James Price and Sgt. John Messer when Price began choking. He rushed to the restroom, with McCarty following. McCarty asked Price if he could perform the Heimlich maneuver and Price nodded yes. After correctly performing it, the piece of food became dislodged, allowing Price to breathe once again.
  • Curtis “Drew” Woodard, Highway Patrol in Bowie, received a Lifesaving Award for his actions on March 16, while working with the Special Operations Group and U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Together they rescued a 6-month-old and her mother from the Rio Grande River. 

The pair were crossing the river in rafts with 67 adults and 150 children near Roma when smugglers threw the mother and baby out of the raft. Woodard heard the splash, followed by the woman, who had a broken leg, calling for help. He moved through the thick brush, climbed a tree and pulled the mother and baby out of the water to safety.

  • Assistant Chief Todd M. Early, Infrastructure Operations Division in Austin, received a Director’s Award for his 27 years of service to DPS. During his time at DPS, Early became the subject matter expert in radio operability and through his leadership and knowledge, DPS Troopers and law enforcement across the state of Texas have been made safer in their everyday duties. Early will retire on Aug. 31.
  • Lt. Col. Randall B. Prince, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Operations in Austin, received a Director’s Award for his 32 years of service to DPS. During his time at the department, Prince rose from being a Trooper to the division chief of the Texas Rangers before reaching his current position. He is the epitome of professionalism and has mentored many people during his tenure at DPS. He has demonstrated true leadership to the state of Texas. Prince will retire on Aug. 31.
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San Jacinto New process for voting in place

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Vicki Shelley, elections administrator for San Jacinto County, provides an example of the new process for casting ballots. Photo by Tony Farkas/SJNTVicki Shelley, elections administrator for San Jacinto County, provides an example of the new process for casting ballots. Photo by Tony Farkas/SJNT

By Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — In order to comply with state mandates, as well as fulfill a mission of voting integrity, the San Jacinto Elections Office has implemented a new voting process.

Elections Administrator Vicki Shelley said the county has completed a conversion of its voting machines from DRE — direct record electronic — to PVR — print vote record.

Shelley said that previously, voters went to a touch screen voting machine, make their selections, get to the end and review them, and then press cast, which would record the vote. It was a one-step process.

Now, it is a two-step process, she said; while the voter still will cast votes using the same touch screen setup, instead of casting the vote electronically, it will instead print the votes onto a special, elections-office-only brand of paper. 

“It will print out their selections on the PVR (a brand of thermal paper available only to election offices), and the voter can then read exactly what the votes are,” she said. “Then they will go to a separate scanning device, and the voter will insert the printed record to cast the ballot.”

The election workers have received training to help anyone with the new process.

“It seems like it would be a difficult process, but it isn’t,” Shelley said. “This is something that has been on the mind of voters, that they wanted to have a printed copy showing their votes.”

Shelley said that even though the timeline for converting to a paper-verifiable system, as mandated by the state and federal governments, was 2026, she opted not to wait to get the new system in.

It will allow voters to get used to the new process through several smaller elections, and it also will help the poll workers acclimate to the new process as well, she said.

“It is my goal to make sure the election workers make the voter feel secure,” she said.

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One killed in two-vehicle crash near Shepherd

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081921 crash

Special to the News-Times

SHEPHERD — A Goodrich man died following a two-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 59 about one mile south of Shepherd.

Jaime Ortega, 47, of Goodrich, was pronounced dead at the scene by San Jacinto Justice of the Peace Harris Blanchette following the Aug. 11 crash.

According to information from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 59 occurred at approximately 1:05 p.m. 

Reports indicate that a 2021 Dodge pickup traveling southbound swerved out of the lane and collided in the rear with a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe that was stopped on the improved shoulder. 

The driver of the Dodge, Melissa Smith, 37, of Cleveland, suffered minor injuries. There were two passengers with Smith — a 14-year-old male an 11-year-old female, both of which suffered only minor injuries. 

All occupants in the Dodge were transported to HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Francisco Becerra, 47, of Shepherd, was taken to HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe with serious injuries. 

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Photo by Jessica Corwin/SJNT

Law enforcement and emergency personnel investigate a two-vehicle crash that left a Goodrich man dead.

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