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Trinity County News 2

Blaze erupts in empty home

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060922 fire destroys homeTrinity VFD firefighters responded to a house fire on Monday, only to return on Tuesday as the porch caught fire again. Courtesy photo

TCNS staff

TRINITY — The Trinity Volunteer Fire Department battled a fire at a home in Trinity Cove — twice.

Assistant Fire Chief Keith Johnson said a blaze broke out in an abandoned residence at 118 Azalea in the Trinity Cove subdivision at 2:20 p.m. Monday.

When firefighters arrived, the structure was partially ablaze. The VFD brought and engine, two tankers and 15 firefighters and had the fire under control in about 15 minutes, Johnson said.

The Fire Department was called back at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday as the structure broke out again. One engine and nine firefighters responded and extinguished the fire on the front portion of the structure.

As the building was abandoned, no injuries were reported.  

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SBA offers disaster assistance

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small business loan

Special to the News-Standard

SACRAMENTO — Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Texas businesses and residents affected by the severe storms and tornadoes that occurred on March 21, announced Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request SBA received from Gov. Greg Abbott on May 2. 

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Burnet, Caldwell, Camp, Cherokee, Clay, Collin, Cooke, Denton, Fannin, Fayette, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Houston, Jack, Lee, Leon, Madison, Marion, Milam, Montague, Morris, Nacogdoches, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rusk, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Travis, Trinity, Upshur, Walker, Williamson, Wise, Wood and Young counties in Texas; and Bryan, Jefferson, Love and Marshall counties in Oklahoma.

“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Texas’s small businesses and residents impacted by the severe storms and tornadoes,” Guzman said. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster,” said SBA’s Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West. “Beginning Monday, May 9, SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the following Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application.”

The centers will be open on the days and times indicated below. No appointment is necessary.  Additional locations will be announced in the coming days.

•Jack County, Disaster Loan Outreach Center, Jack County Courthouse, 100 N. Main St., Jacksboro.

The center opened Monday, opened and the Courthouse is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

•Williamson County, Disaster Loan Outreach Center, Wayfinders Church, 508 N. Fifth St., Jarrell.

The center opened Monday, and the Courthouse is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. 

SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 2.94 percent for businesses, 1.875 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.438 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on SBA disaster assistance. 

The deadline to apply for property damage is July 5. The deadline to apply for economic injury is Feb. 6, 2023.

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Trinity leadership changes

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N1206P36001C

By Tony Farkas

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While most incumbents retained their seats, Mayor Wayne Huffman of Trinity has been unseated by challenger and Mayor Pro Tem Billy Goodin.

The two statewide propositions passed overwhelmingly, and incumbents in the city of Trinity, the city of Groveton and the Trinity ISD all were re-elected.

Proposition 1, which will benefit individuals with an over-65 or disabled exemption on their property, passed 86.92 percent to 13.08, or 1,069,963 to 161,032.

The amendment will become effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Proposition 2 increases the homestead exemption by $15,000, and passed 84.84 percent 15.16 percent, or 1,058,511 to 189,087.

It is now effective, so homeowners will see the savings when they receive their property tax bill this fall.

In the other races in Trinity County:

In the city of Trinity races, Mayor Pro Tem Billy Goodin, with 270 votes, won over incumbent Mayor Wayne Huffman, who had 93, and Jimmy McCasland, who had 69.

For Council Member Position 1, incumbent Clegg DeWalt defeated Willie Evans Jr. 291-123; for Council Member Position 2, incumbent Bubba Smith defeated Martha Gray 243-169; and for Council Member Position 3, incumbent Chris Dennis lost to Scott Womack, 237-179.

For Trinity ISD, School Board President Kevin Searcy with 446 votes, along with incumbent board members Maggie Trevino with 331 votes and Monty Andrew Huffman with 436 votes, all retained their positions on the board. In this race, the top three vote-getters are considered winners.

In the Groveton city election, the three incumbents won re-election out of a field of eight; Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Bennett with 84 votes, Stephen Casper with 66 and Joe Don Kennedy with 59. In this race, the top three vote-getters are considered winners.

A runoff election for state offices will be held May 24.

The races on that ballot include state offices only.

For those in the Democratic party, the ballot contains four races: Michelle Beckley and Mike Collier for lieutenant governor; Rochelle Mercedes Garza and Joe Jaworski for Attorney General; Angel Luis Vega and Janet T. Dudding for Comptroller of Public Accounts; and Sandragrace Martinez and Jay Kleberg for Commissioner of the General Land Office.

For Republicans, those races include: George P. Bush and Ken Paxton for Attorney General; Tim Westley and Dawn Buckingham for Commissioner of the General Land Office; and Sarah Stogner and Wayne Christian for Railroad Commissioner.

Early voting for the runoff runs May 16-20 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Polling stations are at the Groveton VFD, Apple Springs VFD and Trinity City Hall.

On May 24, polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at Groveton VFD, Apple Springs VFD, Trinity City Hall and Trinity Community Center.

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Pet dies in blaze

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Mayor and firefighter Wayne Huffman (right) directs action. Courtesy photo by Steven JohnsonMayor and firefighter Wayne Huffman (right) directs action. Courtesy photo by Steven Johnson

Assistant chief states cause of fire deemed undetermined

TCNS staff

TRINITY — A fire that broke out at a home in Trinity resulted in extensive damage and the death of the family pet.

Assistant Fire Chief Keith Johnson said the blaze erupted around 12:30 p.m. on April 26 at 209 Eighth St., which is owned by Gustavo Alfaro.

The Trinity VFD responded with an engine and two tankers, along with 12 firefighters. Johnson said the first unit on scene said a shed had caught fire, which had spread to the nearby mobile home.

The fire was under control in about 20 minutes; however, the shed and house are a total loss and the owner lost his pit bulldog to the fire, Johnson said.

Firefighters were unable to determine cause due to extensive fire damage, he said.

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Craft convicted in murder case

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Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace (left) and other law enforcement officials escort Tivirus Craft, 42, following his conviction and sentencing for the October 2019 death of Wesley Dykes. Courtesy photoTrinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace (left) and other law enforcement officials escort Tivirus Craft, 42, following his conviction and sentencing for the October 2019 death of Wesley Dykes. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — A Trinity County jury took 35 minutes to find a suspect guilty in connection with the October 2019 death of a Trinity resident.

Tivirus Craft, 42, was found guilty on Tuesday of the murder of Wesley Dykes, 41. 

After hearing evidence on what District Attorney Bennie Schiro said was one of the most senseless and violent crimes he has seen in his 14 years in Trinity County, the jury deliberated only 7 minutes on a verdict on punishment.

On Wednesday, the jury sentenced Craft to Life in prison on a first-degree murder charge; 20 years in prison on a charge of tampering with evidence, a second-degree felony, for burning the body of Wesley Dykes; and two years in prison on a charge of arson, a state jail felony, for burning the Dykes’ vehicle.

The jury also heard evidence that Craft had burned a house in August 2019 before announcing their punishment verdict.

Schiro said Craft seemed to have no connection to the victim and testimony from witnesses showed he had no reason for the killing of Dykes other than he wanted to see what it would be like. 

The incident occurred in October 2019 in the city of Trinity. A burned car was found smoldering on the morning of Oct. 4, 2019, and the remains of Dykes were discovered a day later in the vehicle. The car and remains were so badly burned that no identification could be made at that time. 

Schiro said the vehicle was burned so badly that no one could tell what color the car was. However, investigators linked the body with Dykes, who earlier was reported missing by his wife of 20 years. 

“The car burned all night, and was not reported to the Fire Department,” he said. “It occurred on edge of the city limits, and no one lived in the area.”

Dykes was later identified through his DNA being matched with two half-brothers.

Schiro said that Craft told a witness he shot the victim in the back of the head, dowsed the car with gas and burned it; while attempting identification, forensic experts found a projectile stuck in Dykes’ spine after it was X-rayed.

Additionally, a work glove was found by Texas Rangers near the scene after car was towed; it was matched to a glove Craft had in his possession.

Schiro said the question about how the two men got together remains unanswered.

“Craft (told witnesses) that he was wanting to kill someone,” Schiro said. “He said he did it because ‘he’s a killer.’”

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