TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity ISD administration officials congratulate the Employees of the Month for February — Martha Farnsworth for professionals, Michelle Medlock for paraprofessionals and Craig Troutman for support.
TRINITY — The Trinity ISD School Board will take a look in the mirror to help itself improve.
At the regular meeting on March 1, which was moved from Feb. 22 because of winter weather, the board received evaluation forms to fill out over the coming weeks.
Superintendent John Kaufman said that the board will fill out the forms to be turned in by March 23, which he will then compile and present at the next board meeting.
The idea behind the evaluation is to use it as a training tool, Kaufman said.
In other business, the board:
approved the filing for a waiver from the state for missed school days due to inclement weather;
approved a certification of unopposed candidates for the 2021 school board election, as well as an order cancelling the election;
approved moving the March School Board meeting to March 29; and
approved paying employees for the days the district was closed during the weather disaster.
APPLE SPRINGS — A Kennard man was arrested Sunday for a one-vehicle crash that left a woman dead.
Blake Ellery Partain, 29, is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter in connection with the death of Chelsea McBride, 29.
According to reports from the Department of Public Safety, troopers were notified of a one-vehicle crash on FM 357, about 2 ½ miles north of Apple Springs.
The preliminary crash investigation indicates at about 2 a.m., a 2009 Dodge pickup, reportedly driven by Partain, was traveling north at an unsafe speed when the driver drove off the roadway to the right, then crossed back over the roadway and struck a tree. The pickup then caught on fire.
McBride was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Trinity County Justice of the Peace, the report states.
During the investigation, Partain was determined to be intoxicated and taken into custody, the report states.
GROVETON — The Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show is slated for the third week in March in Groveton at the County Fairgrounds.
It all starts Tuesday, March 16.
The Fair will be a little different this year because of masking and social distancing requirements; board members decided to spread the show out over more days to eliminate having so many people in the barn at the same time.
Patrons also are requested to wear masks. Additionally, there will be no pet show this year.
Despite the changes, there will be a host of animals and student projects to see and a limited concession stand will offer refreshments.
Students from 4-H and FFA from Apple Springs, Centerville, Groveton, and Trinity schools are expected to compete.
Awards will be given at the conclusion of each show.
All buyers are welcome, and add-ons will be accepted.
MARLENA STUBBLEFIELD | TCNS Dwayne Alsbrook and Autumn Dial attend the drawing ceremony for ballot placement on Monday at Groveton City Hall. The two have filed for candidacy for the two council positions up for election on Groveton City Council. The election will be held May 1, 2021.
Trinity County cities and schools to hold elections
By Tony Farkas
As the county creeps out from under a blanket of snow, business resumes, and that includes the business of the respective governments in the area.
For this year, that means city and school board elections, all scheduled for May 1.
In Groveton, Superintendent Don Hamilton said that three people have filed for election to the Groveton School Board: incumbent members Benny Abshier and Board President Mark Folds, and newcomer Sam Shanafelt.
Early voting will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. April 19-23 and April 26-27 at the School Administration Building, 207 N. Main St., in Groveton.
At the City of Groveton, two incumbents — Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett and Council Member Tommy Walton — have filed for the mayor position, which came open due to the passing of Mayor Byron Richards.
For the two remaining council positions up for election, six residents have filed: Chris McFarland, Philip Schmitten, Autumn Dial, Dwayne Alsbrook, Mark Taylor and incumbent Council Member Robert Smith.
Early voting will take place from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 19-27, with April 20-21 set aside for voting from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Ballots can be cast at Groveton City Hall, 115 W. Front St.
MARLENA STUBBLEFIELD | TCNS Council Member Tommy Walton (right) and Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett will face off in a spring election for the position of Mayor of Groveton. Early voting for the May 1 election is scheduled for April 19 at City Hall.
In the City of Trinity, both the city and school district will not have to hold elections, as only incumbent members of their respective boards have filed for candidacy.
For the city, Mayor Pro Tem Billy Goodin and Council Member Phillip Morrison are unopposed, and will resume their positions for the next term.
For the Trinity ISD School Board, incumbent members Judy Bishop and Elizabeth King also are unchallenged and will retain their posts.
School districts in Apple Springs and Centerville do not have elections scheduled.
PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Wayne Byers spreads a compound to help melt ice and snow.
By Tony Farkas
From rescheduling certain sporting events to clearing roads of dangerous conditions, workers at local, county and state levels as well as possible, given the nature of the weather event that shut the area down last week.
Trinity City Manager Steven Jones called the weather last week unprecedented, and while water pressure was a problem at first, it was handled within a matter of hours.
“The Trinity water system is up and running,” he said. “Other than people having personal problems, all is good with us. Our system was prepared for this; what happened was a mechanical function, a pump, which was repaired within a couple of hours, and a pipe burst which was fixed right away.”
PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Apple Springs resident and neighbor Dreux Land distributes some water to the folks in Groveton who are still without. Good neighbors and great citizenship are what help make this a wonderful place to live.
The city wells did perform, and any lapse in service was because of problems with Trinity River Authority equipment.
Throughout the county, TxDOT scraped roads and applied a compound to melt the ice.
Groveton Acting Mayor Ralph Bennett was out as long as possible each day, helping where he could, and inspecting streets for signs of water breaks.
There was a major line break and Fourth and Crow streets, and Bennett asked residents to call the city if they suspect there are more water leaks.
All area of town should have water restored by Wednesday, he said.
Area schools from Apple Springs to Trinity went to remote learning and were closed for the week, although in Groveton, the school was on its winter break and only had to cancel some sporting events.
Apple Springs Superintendent Cody Moree said he decided Feb. 12 to switch to remote learning for two days in light of forecasts, and then extended it through Monday.
“Our greatest concern was for our students and families who spent extended time without power, heat and water,” Moree said. “But we are looking forward to getting back to face to face learning ASAP.”
Centerville Superintendent Mark Brown also closed the campus, and while the first two days featured remote learning, the district will file an inclement waiver with the state to excuse the remaining three days.
Trinity ISD was closed through Tuesday, and was to resume classes Wednesday, according to Superintendent John Kaufman.
PHOTO BY TONY FARKAS TxDOT employee Keith Rogers uses a front-end loader to remove snow and ice near the intersection of Main and FM 355 in Groveton.
Other than two small water line breaks, there was minimal damage to the facilities, he said.
The biggest obstacle, though, was delays in the delivery of food and milk to the cafeteria, and drinkable water was in high demand and short supply.
“We could have opened the district on Monday, but we have many students and staff members who are still without water, and I wanted to give our community and staff a few more days to try and recover,” Kaufman said. “This was a very damaging storm to our community and effected everyone in our town. The school district is very aware of the needs of our families and want to be very sympathetic to their concerns. I would like to thank the community for being patient and working with us as we try and navigate through these difficult times.”
In a news release, Entergy Texas expected all customers who can safely take power were able to turn the lights on by the end of the business day on Friday.
At the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott, after issuing an emergency declaration for all Texas counties on Feb. 14, on Saturday announced that President Joe Biden approved a partial emergency declaration for Texas.
FEMA added 33 Texas counties to the list on Monday, but Trinity County was not included at that time.
Additionally, Abbott temporarily waived regulations from the Department of Motor Vehicles to aid in the response to winter weather and power outages throughout the state.
These waivers allowed commercial vehicles to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere and doing emergency response.
These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.
PHOTO BY PHILIP SCHMITTEN Trinity County Judge Doug Page looks on as Apple Sprints resident helps some of the waterless victims of Groveton with a helping hand, distributing free water to those who are in need.
“As we continue to bring power and water back online throughout the state, it is essential that we deliver the food, water, and supplies that Texans need during these challenging times,” Abbott said. “These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency.”
Since the Legislature is in session this year, Abbott added a mandate for the winterization of Texas' power system to the list of emergency items the state must tackle.
Abbott also requested a Major Disaster Declaration — which includes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program — from the White House. This declaration will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage.
The state is also working to distribute food, water, generators, and additional supplies to Texas communities, and warming centers are established every day. For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit: https://open.texas.gov/winter
Expressing concern about financial challenges Texans will face as a result of the winter storm, Abbott will address the need to ensure that Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market.
The meeting include committee leaders, including Sen. Robert Nichols, who represents San Jacinto County.
The Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees public utilities, prioritized natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order on Feb. 12, and recently extended it through Tuesday.
This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.