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Child thought to be missing found safe

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Haven BarkerHaven Barker

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — An 8-year-old child was found safe on Friday after an Amber Alert galvanized the community and brought numerous law enforcement together.

One person, Charles Estep, 50, was arrested on parole violation charges in connection with case and the child is unharmed at this time.

Sheriff Woody Wallace said that on March 6, the Sheriff’s Office received a request for a welfare check for the child, Haven Barker, 8, who had contacted relatives and Child Protective Services about possible illegal activity at the home.

He said the child was believed to be with her mother, Tamara Barker, and mother’s boyfriend, Charles Estep.

Investigators found the child had not been at school since she called CPS, and that the mother had tried to place the child with other family member, Wallace said. The adults tried several times to leave Haven with a relative in San Jacinto County, then just dropped some of the child’s belongings in the driveway and left.

Officers searched the home, and found that the adults’ belongings were gone, but most of the child’s belongings were left, which led investigators to request the Amber Alert, Wallace said.

Tips from the alert led law enforcement to Colorado, where the vehicle was seen, and another relative of the mother told police that the three were seen in the other state. The car was located at a motel at an unnamed city in Colorado.

Estep was arrested, Haven was located, and Colorado CPS officials determined that she was in no danger and was left with the mother.

Wallace said that officials will continue to investigate the incident, particularly what led to this happening, in order to keep Haven safe.

Wallace said that he was appreciative that things came together so quickly and the help that was provided was invaluable. He thanked all the people offering tips and the numerous Colorado and Texas law enforcement agencies.

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THECB offering new low-interest loan options for students

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Special to the News-Standard

AUSTIN — The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board now offers a new low-interest loan option for Texas students.

The Future Occupations & Reskilling Workforce Advancement to Reach Demand Loan Program is designed to increase the number of students who obtain high-value credentials in high-demand occupations.

The FORWARD Loan is structured to help students complete their degrees with manageable to low debt levels and for students to be able to repay the loan within 10 years.

“The FORWARD Loan Program will help more Texans secure careers in high-demand fields and complete their degrees with manageable debt as they enter the workforce,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller. “We are committed to increasing educational attainment for Texans of all ages, with the goal of 95 percent of all undergraduates completing their credentials with manageable or no debt. This program can be a key piece in achieving those goals.”

The program is open to students who are enrolled in a high-demand credential program that the student will be able to complete in two years or less. Eligible programs include technology, nursing/patient care, teaching, supply chain/transportation and logistics, and energy.

“Texas’ economic competitiveness depends on an educated workforce,” said Chairman of the Coordinating Board Dr. Fred Farias. “The FORWARD Loan is one more program that will help more Texas students enter high-demand jobs and allow them to contribute to, participate in, and benefit from our world class economy.”

Additional eligibility information can be found online.

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Inspiration Village closing at end of month


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The staff and clients of Inspiration Village, a ranch for mentally challenged adolescents and adults. The camp will close its operation Feb. 24.  Courtesy photoThe staff and clients of Inspiration Village, a ranch for mentally challenged adolescents and adults. The camp will close its operation Feb. 24. Courtesy photo

By Connie Price
Special to the News-Standard

TRINITY — Because of new regulations passed by the state, Inspiration Village, a working ranch for mentally challenged adolescents and adults, will shutter its operation.

The ranch has been open and serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from Trinity, Houston, Walker, San Jacinto, and Polk counties since 2010.

After a great amount of research, my husband and I began this journey we call Inspiration Village in 2004 when we purchased the property and began creating a wonderful family.

Now, due to new state regulations and mandates, IV will not be able to remain open; we cannot afford the requirements.

The last day at the village will be Feb. 24.

There are so many I need to thank for their support over the years. Thanks so much to the current Board of Directors — President Brenda Young, Vice President Mary Ann Newhouse, Secretary-Treasurer David Price and members Dorothy Franklin, Larry Barak, Cindy Hays, Tommy Hays, Crystal Killingsworth and Laural Sorensen.

I would like to thank past members Diana Barak, Larry and Sherry Small, Daniel Lazano, Sharon Dennis and Mike Fulsom, who served as an active member and is now a consulting member.

There are so many individuals, organizations, and many in our community that have supported the village over the years. I wish I could name you all but thank you so much for your support and encouragement.

I also must thank my co-workers at ETMC Trinity Hospital who listened to me constantly talk about our plans and the village as it progressed.

Mostly, I want to thank the families of the individuals we serve. You have trusted us over the years to care for a very special member of your family.

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Crash causes injuries

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TCNS staff

TRINITY COUNTY — The Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers investigated a crash on state Highway 19, near the 410-mile marker, that occurred Jan. 23.

Reports indicate that at approximately 7:20 p.m., a 2013 Dodge passenger car was traveling north, while a 2002 Pontiac passenger car was traveling south. It is reported that the driver of the Dodge disregarded a no passing zone and struck the Pontiac.

The driver, 21-year-old McClellan Calhoun, and three passengers in the Dodge were not injured. Calhoun was cited for disregarding a no passing zone.

The driver of the Pontiac, 39-year-old Joshua Whatley of Livingston, was transported to Huntsville Memorial Hospital for treatment.

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Flood planning group adopts plan

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TRFPGlogoSpecial to theNews-Standard

After meeting to review public input and approve final plan revisions in November, the Trinity Regional Flood Planning Group has now submitted the first-ever Regional Flood Plan for the Trinity River Basin to the Texas Water Development Board.

The Trinity Regional Flood Plan draws on the best available science, data, models and flood risk mapping to recommend more than $1 billion in flood mitigation actions designed to fix local flooding issues and reduce flood-related loss of lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region.

The full 2023 Trinity Regional Flood Plan can be found on the Planning Documents page of the Trinity RFPG website (trinityrfpg.org), using the Categories tool to sort by “2023 Final Plan.”

“It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, we were beginning this important, novel regional flood planning process not only here in the Trinity River Basin but also across the entire state, and now here we are with the first-ever regional plan,” said Glenn Clingenpeel, chair of the Trinity RFPG. “While the adoption of this Regional Flood Plan is something our local communities should be both proud of and excited about, there is still much work to be done. As we progress toward adoption of the first-ever State Flood Plan in 2024, we continue to encourage submission of other potential flooding solutions to the Planning Group so we can enhance our plan over the coming months.”

Potential Flood Mitigation Project sponsors from across the Trinity River Basin still have until Friday to submit project data for potential inclusion in the Amended Regional Flood Plan, which will be delivered to the TWDB in July 2023. This will be the last major opportunity for Regional Flood Plan enhancements before the next five-year planning cycle.

All FMPs included in the Amended Regional Plan and the 2024 State Flood Plan could be eligible for possible state funding in the near future.

To submit proposed FMP data for consideration, please contact Trinity RFPG technical consultant team member David Rivera with Freese and Nichols at (214) 217-2263 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All proposed project submissions will be grouped into tiers, based on certain criteria. Please note that essentially all projects classified as Tier 1 will be included in the Amended Plan, so long as the sponsor provides FMP data that meets the TWDB Technical Guideline requirements.

After all proposed FMP data has been reviewed, the 2023 Trinity Regional Flood Plan will be amended to include additional flood mitigation solutions according to the tiered approach. The amended plan will be submitted to the TWDB in July.

Based on all the amended regional flood plans, the TWDB will prepare and adopt Texas’ first-ever State Flood Plan and present it to the Texas Legislature in September 2024.

Trinity RFPG is among 15 regional flood planning groups designated in April 2020 by the Texas Water Development Board, as a result of Senate Bill 8, 86th Texas Legislature, which established a groundbreaking, new regional and state flood planning process.

At the same time, the Texas Legislature also created a new flood financial assistance fund and charged the TWDB with administering the fund. The Flood Infrastructure Fund, approved by Texas voters in November 2019, will be used to finance flood-related projects.

After the current, first round of flood planning, each of the regional flood planning groups will update their plans every five years.

The initial members of the Trinity RFPG were designated by the TWDB in 2020. The Planning Group’s membership includes at least one voting member from each of the following interest categories: the public, counties, municipalities, industry, agriculture, environment, small business, electric-generating utilities, river authorities, water districts, water utilities and flood districts. In April 2021, the Trinity RFPG engaged a technical consultant team led by Halff Associates to support its planning effort.

The Trinity RFPG’s planning region (Trinity River Basin or Region 3) has an estimated population of approximately 8 million and spans a nearly 18,000-square mile, 38-county region from Cooke County in the north to Chambers County on the Gulf Coast.

For more information, visit the Trinity RFPG website at www.trinityrfpg.org, follow the group on Twitter https://twitter.com/TrinityRFPG or email the group via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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