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Trinity County News 2

Election 2020

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Michael Kelly is registered to vote on Tuesday by alternate election judges Della Lyons and Mary Rhoden at the Groveton High School precinct. (Tony Farkas Photo)Michael Kelly is registered to vote on Tuesday by alternate election judges Della Lyons and Mary Rhoden at the Groveton High School precinct. (Tony Farkas Photo)

Staff Reports

Although the presidential election has been forefront in most news as well as most minds, other races in Trinity County were decided in Tuesday’s election.

But other than races on the national and state level, as well as the Trinity Hospital District, most county-level races were unopposed, and the general election only solidified the win.

The county did go overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump, giving him 5,427 votes, and only 1,290 for challenger Joe Biden.

In the race for the District 8 seat in the U.S. House of Representative, incumbent Republican Kevin Brady garnered 5,387 votes in the county, while Democrat challenger Elizabeth Hernandez picked up 1,157.

The vote totals reflect only Trinity County votes.

On the state level, Republican Trent Ashby, incumbent District 57 House member, gained 5,445 votes in the county, while challenger Jason Rogers, a Democrat, picked up 1,112 votes.

For the Trinity Hospital District Position 2, incumbent Randy Karnes picked up 1,050 votes, while challenger Claudette Loper garnered 785. For Position 4, incumbent Laura Huffman received 1,143 votes, and challenger Jerry Coma got 674. For Position 6, incumbent Carlyn Bluis received 838 votes, but was upset by challenger Steve Hancock, who picked up 1,085. For Position 8, incumbent Keith Johnson, running unopposed, received 1,662 votes.

The unopposed county race results were:

•411th Judicial District Judge: John Wells, 5,551

•258th Judicial District Judge: Bennie L. Schiro, 5,630

•County Attorney: Colton Hay, 5,682

•Sheriff: Woody A. Wallace, 5,614

•County Tax Assessor/Collector: Nancy Due Shanafelt, 5,619

•County Commissioner Precinct 1: Tommy Park, 1,500

•County Commissioner Precinct 3: Neal Smith, 1,249

•County Constable Precinct 1: Jeremy Alexander, 1,492

•County Constable Precinct 2: Mark Cole, 1,499

•County Constable Precinct 3: Carl Casey, 1,265

•County Constable Precinct 4: Brian McMullen, 1,389

All vote results are unofficial until canvassed by the Trinity County Commissioners’ Court.

In the Trinity city election, Mayor Wayne Huffman was re-elected handily with 428 votes. For Council Position 1, incumbent Clegg E. DeWalt, running unopposed, received 465 votes. For Position 2, Jason “Bubba” Smith was re-elected with 242 votes, outlasting Johnny L. English with 156 votes and Evan Arnold with 192. Chris Dennis was re-elected to Position 3 with 450 votes.

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Groveton looks to beautify downtown and spur economic development

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grovetonmanPhoto by Tony Farkas | TCNS Groveton Mayor Byron Richards points out some of the plans for renovating the sidewalks in the downtown Square. The city has received a $980,000 grant and will begin work Nov. 30.

By Tony Farkas

GROVETON — An almost $1 million grant will help city officials tidy up the Square, with metal railings, new sidewalks and some new lighting.

Mayor Byron Richards said the city has been working on the Groveton Downtown Revitalization Project for nine years.

“We submitted grant applications over a period of six years and didn’t really land one, seeing them go to bigger cities. We didn’t think we had a chance at it,” he said. “After the sixth year, we got word that the city will receive funds from the Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program.”

Richards said the city signed a contract for $980,000, but was $67,000 short to complete the project; that money will come from our Economic Development Corporation. Construction will be done by Ti-Zack Concrete Inc., and the project is slated to start Nov. 30. It’s projected to take six to seven months.

The project will feature new sidewalks around the Square, which also will provide handicapped access. There will be lighting throughout the project, as well as safety railings.

“These sidewalks and curbs are a trap, and can cause falls,” he said. “This allows anyone disabled or not to have access to downtown businesses. The whole purpose of the project, as I envisioned it nine years ago, is to update the area and give the city a new look.”

Groveton has been stagnant for years, the population has declined, and big businesses that wanted to come in were turned away, Richards said.

“We’re trying to look to the future,” he said. “With the population that’s moving to this area, East Texas finally is being recognized as a good place to live, to raise a family. We’re trying to move the city forward as best we can.”

This project is one of many projects that have been undertaken in recent years, which includes renovations to the city’s sewers and water system, courthouse work, highway and sidewalk construction, numerous upgrades and even work on the courthouse and annex. All told, it’s more than $23 million spent on beautifying the city, Richards said.

Along those lines, there will be a commemorative brick paver section right on the corner, and laser-engraved brick pavers will be sold for $25. Contact Richards at City Hall for information.

“We need new economic activity in this area,” he said. “There is a new Family Dollar coming; a manufacturing company taking over the old sewing machine plant. We need new sources of sales tax and real estate taxes coming into the city, and hopefully draw more retailers in.

“We’re takin’ an old girl and dressin’ her up, and we have hope for the future that Groveton will grow,” Richards said.

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Trinity ISD OKs distance learning plans

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110520 trinity isdCOURTESY PHOTO - Misty Coleman was named professional employee of the month, Keri Dobbs the paraprofessional employee of the month and Ben Stubbs the support employee of the month at the Oct. 26 Trinity ISD School Board meeting.

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY — The Trinity Independent School District board approved a distance learning plan, while at the same time approving a plan to get students back into the classroom.

Superintendent Dr. John Kaufman said the state approved its learning plan on the first go-around, which was rare.

However, Kaufman said that with the board’s approval, he hopes to have everyone back in class by the end of the semester. The plan is to start with one or two grades per campus, wait two weeks, and bring back two more.

Currently, 65 students use distance learning throughout the district, which has about 1,200 students.

“We’ve had a non-success rate of 64 percent of students doing remote learning,” he said. “That’s alarming, especially when there’s a 14 percent non-success rate for face-to-face.”

Kaufman said students that have failed in the first six weeks could either come back for face-to-face learning, be homeschooled, move to a virtual learning environment, or transfer to another district for virtual learning. Students who maintained passing grades will remain in virtual learning until the third six weeks, and plans are to then start phasing them back for face-to-face instruction.

“Face learning is more productive, and has a social aspect that kids need to have,” Kaufman said. “We need to get them back to the classroom. I understand about how parents feel about the safety of their children; but our mitigation efforts at the schools have been very good. We’re taking every precaution to keep our kids safe.”

However, students can remain on virtual learning can remain there if there’s a verified medical condition that would require that separation, Kaufman said.

In other business, the board:

•approved moving the November meeting to Nov. 16, when election results will be canvassed;

•approved resolutions for the Trinity County Appraisal District; and

•discussed all board members meeting their continuing education credits.

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Groveton ISD a safe place to be

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Groveton ISD logoGroveton ISD file photo

TCNS Staff

GROVETON — Students in Groveton Independent School District are in pretty safe hands

At its Oct. 26 meeting, the Groveton School Board approved a safety audit which Superintendent Don Hamilton said was overall very good.

“We have a few things we know we need to deal with, but overall it’s good,” he said.

Hamilton said the layout of the building is of a concern, because its age means it does not meet current safety and fire codes, but for the most part, the kids are going to school in a safe environment.

In other business, the board:

•approved the ESL program;

•approved changes of names from the signature card on the school’s account;

•changed meeting dates for next two meetings because of upcoming holidays. The November meeting will be held Nov. 16, and the December meeting will be held Dec. 17;

•discussed new goals for the future;

•approved purchase of 20 interactive boards to replace older models at a cost of $40,000; and

•approved an annual pay stipend, to be paid to non-professional employees only.

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Centerville schools address safety

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Centerville ISD logoFILE PHOTO Centerville ISD logo

By Tony Farkas

TRINITY COUNTY — A recent safety audit of the Centerville school system shows the students are learning in a safe environment.At its regular meeting on Oct. 15, the district’s School Board members discussed the audit, which also contained some deficiencies.The deficiencies were discussed only in closed session and not made public. However, Superintendent Mark Brown said that of those, most could be taken care of easily.

The district was commended for numerous items, which include:

  • having 30 fire extinguishers on campus;
  • having 10 staff members trained in the use of an automated external defibrillatorand CPR;
  • well-kept grounds;•student monitoring;•morale;•adequate use of security cameras;
  • secure classroom doors and metal exterior doors;•robustphone/intercom system; and
  • a healthy school climate.

In other business, the board:

  • held a second hearing on changes to the school’s policy manual; and
  • approved school finances for the month.
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