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Trinity County News 2

Round Two - Winter storm dumps snow on area

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021821 snow 4COURTESY PHOTO BY TERRI GARVIN Dylan Knight and Chase Knight measure the snowfall on Monday.

TCNS staff

The area has been hit with record low temperatures and uncharacteristic snowfall, and Trinity County came to a standstill on Monday.

Schools have been closed at least through Tuesday; roads have been closed, and electric utilities have been forced to start rolling blackouts to stave off a larger blackout because of the huge demand put on the electric grid.

The possibility of a second winter storm bearing down on the region exists as well.

According to Trinity County Emergency Management, about 1,130 people were without power, mainly due to the overloaded electric service and the Montgomery County Power Station being down.

Trinity County Emergency Management opened a warming shelter in the Apple Springs area for anyone in need, and opened the VFW in Trinity as well.

Anyone feeling they are in need of the service can contact Justice of the Peace Richard Steptoe, Constable Brian McMullen, County Judge Doug Page or Apple Springs Chief Brett Selman.

According to The Weather Channel, Winter Storm Uri spread brought heavy snow and damaging ice to parts of the South, Midwest and Northeast. Winter Storm Viola has already begun in the West and will be right behind #Uri, bringing significant snowfall totals to many across the country this week. It is expected to bring snow to many of the same locations currently being hit by Uri.

021821 snow 1COURTESY PHOTO BY KELLY DIAL 10-year-old Brance Dial enjoys some time in the snow.

Area road closures included:

•Highway 190 Trinity River Bridge shut down

•Highway 59 Trinity River Bridge heavy ice over roadway

•FM 223 to Stringtown Road heavy ice over road

•FM 1514 Heavy ice over the roadway

•FM 1725 heavy ice

•East Fork San Jacinto River Bridge on FM 495 heavy ice

•FM 2025/FM 2666 to Highway 150 iced over

•FM 946 South and Highway 156 iced over.

021821 snow 2COURTESY PHOTO BY CHELSIE JO COOK Roads are beautiful, but dangerous, after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow in Texas.

TxDOT is encouraging motorists from traveling across the nine-county Lufkin District during the winter weather.

As of Monday, the Lufkin District currently had 170 employees working 12-hour shifts to monitor and address trouble spots as they arise, utilizing more than 125 pieces of equipment. Pre-treatment of roadways began on Friday.

“We want people to be aware that driving surfaces will freeze and we are doing all we can to prepare the roadways, but even with a brine mixture, if we experience the low temperatures they have predicted, roads will still freeze,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “I don’t think there is enough manpower to cover the more than 7,000 road miles in the Lufkin District with a brine mixture but we are doing our best. We have focused our attention on major roadways, state highways and farm roads, but we should remember that Mother Nature is and will always be undefeated. It is up to us to prepare our homes, our families and ourselves to stay safe.”

Crews will re-treat all major roadways as needed if conditions continue to decline, since additional moisture will re-freeze road surfaces after the initial downfall of snow and ice.

“Pre-treatment with a brine solution can reduce the temperature at which water freezes and assists with reducing the bond of ice to the roadway, but it does not guarantee that ice will not form,” Oaks said. “There will be patches of ice on local roads, even on roads that have been treated. If you must drive, motorists should reduce speed and stay alert. But because this is an unprecedented weather event, TxDOT is urging drivers to stay home and travel only if absolutely necessary.”

Visit drivetexas.org (or call 800-452-9292) for real time road conditions/closures or call 911 if you find yourself stranded or facing an emergency. For more information, call This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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Groveton selects top superintendent candidate

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021821 hamiltonTCNS FILE PHOTO Groveton ISD Superintendent Don Hamilton (right) will be retiring effective Aug. 31, and Board President Mark Folds (left) and fellow board members selected Assistant Superintendent Jim Dillard as his replacement at a special meeting on Feb. 8.

By Tony Farkas

GROVETON — The Groveton ISD School Board settled on a finalist for the upcoming superintendent vacancy at a special meeting on Feb. 8.

Jim Dillard, who currently serves as the district’s assistant superintendent, will assume the top spot in September, after the retirement of current Superintendent Don Hamilton.

Board President Mark Folds said Hamilton had some challenges and tough calls, but he had the backbone to make them.

Folds cited the improvements to the baseball fields, the cafeteria and other items as proof of Hamilton’s dedication and service.

“We are pleased with his work,” Folds said.

Don Hamilton is retiring Aug. 31 after eight years as superintendent and 34 years as an educator, 31 of which were in the Groveton district.

“I told them 2 years ago (when my contract was renewed) that this would be my last year,” he said.

Hamilton said he was looking for a little time off, mostly to spend working on his ranch and spending time with grandsons.

“We have done a lot of construction on the facilities, and we were named one of the top schools in America by U.S. News and World Report,” Hamilton said of his accomplishments. “We’ve had FCCLA students who have advanced to nationals, and won, we’ve had ag students excel at Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show, and Beta Club has advanced to nationals several times.

“I hope I left the place better than when I got here,” he said.

Folds said that aside from Dillard being the lone finalist, he also was the lone applicant, but has the board’s full support.

Dillard has been in education since 2014, and started in the Groveton district as assistant principal for the junior/senior high school.

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Inking fame

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021121 inked 2COURTESY PHOTO Trinity County resident, Destiny Sigford, competes to be cover girl for Inked Magazine.

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY — A Trinity County girl is hoping to grace the cover of a magazine that focuses on the art of tattoos.

Destiny Sigford has made the Top 15 in her group, even claiming the top spot, and hopes by Thursday to make the Top 5 and enter the quarterfinals of the Inked Cover Girl competition.

Sigford got her first tattoo at 17, saying it was a spur of the moment thing. She said they can make you feel more confident in the same way that makeup makes women feel more confident.

“The only difference is you don't have to reapply (tattoos) every day,” she said.

Sigford decided to enter the competition for several reasons, but most importantly because she said she has been her own worst enemy.

“I have stood in my own way most of my life,” she said. “If I think there’s even the slightest chance I might fail at something or disappoint my kids or my family, I let those doubts keep me from trying. I am trying to approach opportunities like this with a different mindset. At the end of the day, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Sigford attended school in Trinity off and on growing up, and eventually her family purchased property near the county line a few years back.

“I studied nursing at TVCC in Palestine and Angelina College in Lufkin,” she said. “Nursing was never my dream career though so when I was offered a job as a field clerk for an oil and gas company in South Texas a month after I turned 18, I decided to take it.”

Still, the journey wasn’t easy, which led to some personal struggles.

“I struggled with a reliable vehicle and was living in government housing,” Sigford said. “Fast forward 10 years later, and I have moved over from the contractor side of things to inspection. I still reside in Trinity technically, but I rarely get to go home. I love my job, but everything is so unpredictable in this field and I'm tired. My girls are tired of living out of an RV and switching schools constantly.”

After struggling with depression and self-acceptance, Sigford started a fitness journey; that, combined with her love for tattoos, became a good way to celebrate her transformation.

“I feel like if I won, it would send a powerful message to other women or struggling mothers like me to go after their dreams,” she said. “Don’t be a victim to your own doubts. It doesn't matter if you are the underdog or the deck is stacked against you; if it could change your life and you have nothing to lose by trying, go for it.”

Aside from facing personal challenges, the competition itself will be tough for “just your everyday small-town gal from Texas.”

“I’m going up against women who are popular influencers on Instagram or already modeling for other companies and have a huge following across multiple social media platforms,” she said.

Sigford said that if she won the competition, the money would let her go back to college to be a civil rights attorney, or perhaps taking a course at Texas Laser Institute to get certified in micro-blading and shading and possibly opening up a small business.

“I hope that I could make enough money doing that to get me through law school,” she said. “I'm going to need all the support I can get, and every vote is going to matter as the competition progresses.

“I never expected the amount of support I have gotten since public voting started on Jan. 18,” Sigford said. “Even if I don't take anything else away from this, it will still have been worth it to me.”

According to the Inked website, thousands of models registered for their chance to take home a $25,000 grand prize and be featured on the cover of the tattoo lifestyle magazine.

To vote for a model, individuals with a valid Facebook account may use that account to vote once every 24 hours for free, as well as purchase additional votes for $1 each. A portion of the proceeds will go to the MusiCares Foundation, which helps musicians in health or financial crises.

Voting for the Top 5 runs Feb. 4-11, followed by voting for group winners, which runs from Feb. 11-18. Group winners advance to the quarterfinals; that voting runs Feb. 19-25; semifinals run from Feb. 26-March 4; and finals voting starts March 5 and ends March 11.

To vote for Destiny, or to find out about her standings, visit https://cover.inkedmag.com/2021/destiny-sigford.

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Vaccine Saturday

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021121 covidTONY FARKAS | TCNS Health professionals from HealthPoint provide COVID-19 immunizations at a clinic held at Trinity High School on Saturday. More than 700 vaccinations were provided through a combined effort of the Trinity Memorial Hospital Board, HealthPoint, the city, the county and the school district, as well as numerous volunteers.

HealthPoint, hospital board hold COVID vaccine clinic

TCNS staff

TRINITY — Seven hundred residents received the first round of COVID vaccines at an immunization event at Trinity High School on Saturday.

The event was a joint effort between the Trinity Memorial Hospital Board and HealthPoint.

Marjory Pulvino, vice president of the TMHB, said HealthPoint received 925 vaccinations from the state very recently, and when the event was announced online, 600 people had registered for the vaccinations within hours.

On Feb. 1 and 2, 120 people who did not have online access were registered through the Trinity Community Health Resource Center.

On Saturday, 45 health professionals from HealthPoint, along with help from TMHB, Trinity schools, Trinity Police Department, and County Judge Doug Page and the county’s Emergency Management Operations Center, as well as volunteers, held the drive-through clinic at Trinity High School.

Pulvino said there were no problems with people receiving shots because of the work of everyone involved.

TMHB President Randy Karnes called the event incredibly successful.

“We would like to express our deep gratitude to HealthPoint for their generous support,” he said. “We are fortunate to have HealthPoint in the community. I also would like to recognize the community for supporting this event.”

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Schools discuss robbery arrests

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020421 trinity isd 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity ISD Superintendent John Kaufman and other administration officials present December employee of the month plaques to Magaly Zamora, professional; Ibeth Caceres, paraprofessional; and Crista Caceres, support, at the monthly School Board meeting on Jan. 26.

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY — The Trinity ISD School Board heard a presentation regarding two students who were arrested in November for allegedly breaking into the high school and destroying school property.

Isaac Debose, pastor of Lone Star Missionary Baptist Church, said that while the events of December were tragic, he believes the two teens are being falsely accused.

The two teens were arrested Dec. 3 and face charges of criminal mischief greater than $30,000 but less that $150,000 and burglary of a building, both felony charges.

“The accusation doesn’t bother me, as I understand that someone needs to pay,” Debose said. “What really bothers me is the way this process is being handled.”

Debose said the system has been unfair to certain types of people, but said that because of the open investigation, he declined to offer specifics.

020421 trinity isd 2TONY FARKAS |TCNS Trinity ISD Superintendent John Kaufman and other administration officials present a January employee of the month plaque to Karen Shelton, professional, and the School Board meeting on Jan. 26. Other January honorees (not pictured) are Bridget Ladnier, paraprofessional, and Cassie Thompson, support.

He said that the students have been publicly humiliated by this ordeal.

“At what point does this go beyond hearsay or sub-par investigative work,” he said. “We need answers and we need results. The officers need to do their due diligence, and if there is no evidence, they need to be released.

“These children need to … salvage what’s left of their senior year,” Debose said. “This is so wrong on so many levels. The people will not stand for it. We, as a people, will talk to whoever we need to talk to and take whatever measures we need to take to seek justice.”

In other business, the board:

•extended full pay for staff who are out with COVID through the end of the school year. The program ended Dec. 31;

•approved 300 pages worth of changes to the school policy manual, based on recommendations by the Texas Association of School Boards. Local changes include additional cybersecurity training, adding a grievance process for terminated at-will employees, and setting parameters for the administration of non-prescription drugs;

•discussed the system’s academic performance perform, which is done annually. However, since there was no testing done last year, and no testing will be done this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers that were provided were from 2018;

•approved a change to the school calendar regarding COVID-related days;

•approved the adoption of a food service procurement manual; and

•called May 1 as an election day. Board positions held by Elizabeth King and Judy Bishop are up for election this year.

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