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Trinity County News 2

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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EMS operations at risk

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Some volunteers brought heavy equipment to facilitate easier cleanup of the EMS area. (Photos by Philip Schmitten)Some volunteers brought heavy equipment to facilitate easier cleanup of the EMS area. (Photos by Philip Schmitten)

City demands lead to interruption of ambulance service

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — A disagreement over the status of property in Groveton has led to the suspension of ambulance service for the city, and the suspension of city subsidies to the EMS business.

City officials said there has been a disagreement over the last year that came to a head at the city meeting on Sept. 28. 

Mayor Byron Richards said the city has an ordinance regarding dilapidated buildings, and Groveton EMS operator David Robison, a private ambulance operator in Groveton, has been asked by the city for more than a year to clean up his property, which was destroyed in a fire in June 2018.

Robison, however, said significant improvement had been made, and there only is small debris and ash there, and all the large stuff is gone. 

“He said it was not done to his satisfaction,” Robison said. “I don’t like it any more than the next guy, but it’s expensive to clean up, and was going to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 to get it removed. I haven’t had the money.”

Richards said that at the meeting, Robison told council members that when the rest of Groveton is cleaned up, he’ll clean up his property. 

“We’ll all be dead by that time, probably,” Richards said.

Robison said he told council members that there were other properties in the city that were in worse shape than his, and was told that was not the concern, only his property was.

Richards said the city had been giving Groveton EMS $1,000 per month to help subsidize the business, but since Robison “was intractable about giving us a time of when he could get the property cleaned up, we decided to temporarily suspend funding until he understands he needs to comply with the ordinance.”

On the Groveton EMS Facebook page, Robison wrote, “It appears the City of Groveton no longer wishes Groveton EMS to be the city’s ambulance provider. The City Council voted to stop funding the service effective immediately. The reason given by Mayor Byron Richards was: ‘David Robison has not cleaned up his personal property to my satisfaction. Therefore, I will entertain a motion to cease payments to Groveton EMS immediately.’

“… When pointed out that many other properties are much worse — many with dangerous, dilapidated buildings and huge amounts of refuse, the Mayor said, ‘That’s been going on for 70 years. We don’t care about that. We want you to clean your property.’

“My heart is absolutely broken. We have worked day and night to serve our community. I’ve done this for years without a paycheck. Every month my wife has to give back part of her check to make sure all our bills are paid. Since the Covid-19 pandemic times have been especially tough. My family and I have sacrificed so much to serve this community. I cannot believe the mayor and City Council no longer wish for us to continue.

“We will continue to serve Trinity County. We are exploring our options for Groveton. The city has not secured any other service as of yet.”

Richards said that after the discussion, Robison stormed out, threatened to file charges, and the next day sent a letter that he was going to end ambulance service at midnight on Sept. 30. 

“I’m trying to get in touch with the state Health Department because I don’t think he can do that,” Richards said. “He’s stationed here and the contract he has with Trinity County is basically a contract for Groveton because this is where he serves people.

Robison said he has filed a complaint with the state of Texas, saying the city was guilty of official oppression and abuse of office. 

“The mayor chose to call me into the City Council and said that I have not cleaned up my personal property,” he said. “We’re only breaking even every month. I don’t take a salary, and my wife, who takes a small salary, returns it for whatever we need, such as payroll or utilities.

“We tried to get a contract for a subsidy, but the mayor elected to make it a monthly donation,” Robison said. “That was five years ago. We’re not making any money, and my house burned down, and I lost more than $750,000.” 

Richards said he hopes this can be worked out.

“We want to support him, but we don’t want to support people who throw mud in your face,” Richards said. “We’re trying to clean the town up, but that’s a project that will go on for a long time. We want ambulance service here, and we’re trying to work this out and come to an amicable end.”

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