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Trinity County News 2

Legislators give session update

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Rep. Trent Ashby (right) and Sen. Robert Nichols discuss some of the successes of this year’s legislative session during a Town Hall meeting recently. (Photo by Tony Farkas/TCNS)Rep. Trent Ashby (right) and Sen. Robert Nichols discuss some of the successes of this year’s legislative session during a Town Hall meeting recently. (Photo by Tony Farkas/TCNS)

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — During a brief two-week respite between legislative sessions, area legislators gave updates to their constituents about the work being done — before having to return to Austin for a third special session.

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, spoke to members of the Trinity County Republican Party on Sept. 13.

“I feel like I’m in the session that will never end,” Nichols said. 

Nichols recounted some of the larger issues that was dealt with during the main session — Winter Storm Uri, and how our electricity grid was so vulnerable; a voter integrity bill that made it harder for people to cheat, and that Texas is now a Second Amendment sanctuary state.

However, one big area of concern which flew under the radar was spam and telemarketing calls, which Nichols said was a problem for himself as well. After looking into the matter, he supported, and the Legislature passed, the Respect Your Privacy Act.

He dubbed that Phase 1. 

I kept hearing that TxDOT was selling a lot of this information, and as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I focused on DPS, DMV and TxDOT.

When I talked with the DMV, I was upset to find out that so much information about my personal vehicle was being shared. I found that people could get where I bought my car, how much I paid for it, which bank has a lien on it and how much the lien is.

About 70 entities were getting that information from the state. You might as well give it to Google. I said we weren’t going to do that anymore.

TxDOT wasn’t really selling anything, except the subscriber list for Texas Highways magazine, and then I went over to DPS and found 1,100 different entities get everything that’s on your driver’s license, which then turns around and does something else with it. That ticked me off. They got $67 million a year for doing that.

Nichols said that years ago, the Texas Legislature passed bills requiring the sale of that information. He also said that Phase 2, next year, which will take on the state Nursing Board which sells information.

Ashby said this year was one of the best sessions for rural Texas he’s been part of, and one of the best ones for protecting the second amendment. 

“We pushed forward eminent domain reform to level the playing field between landowners and large firms with eminent domain powers,” he said. 

Ashby also touted this session as one of most pro-life session ever in the state of Texas.

“One bill bans any abortions once you can detect a heartbeat in that mother’s womb,” he said. “Doctors say that’s right at 6 weeks, and that is not law in the state of Texas. Secondly, we passed a bill in response to what’s happening at the U.S. Supreme Court; it appears they may be getting ready to take back up a bill like (the heartbeat bill). We passed — preemptively — a bill that states if Roe v. Wade is overturned, within 30 days of that Texas will ban all abortions.”

Ashby said that was done because they want to protect life.

Broadband internet measures passed, which were co-sponsored by Ashby in the House and Nichols in the Senate. Within a year, there will be a plan, and internet service providers will begin the process of upgrading all internet access to high-speed.

Aside from banning boys from participating in girls sports, the Legislature will take up redistricting in the next special session. He said that there was a huge undercount in this year’s Census, but since those are the numbers he has to work with, he will have to find about 30,000 residents to keep his district intact.

For Nichols, that number is even higher.

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Trinity passes contentious budget

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trinity tx 250By Tony Farkas
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TRINITY — The Trinity City Council approved a budget that includes a 5 percent raise for employees, but not without pushback from council members.

At a meeting on Thursday, the council approved a budget with general fund expenditures of $3,854,750. Additionally, the council approved a tax rate that is exactly the same as last year’s, $0.6138 per $100 valuation.

State accountant and City Council Member Clegg DeWalt said he looked over both versions of the budget, but budgets do not guarantee the availability of funds.

He in particular questioned a “$120,000 hole in our bucket” regarding income from selling water to other county entities.

“If we pass this budget with pay raises, and the money doesn’t materialize, what will we do to cover those pay raises?” he asked.

Council Member Bubba Smith said the city will end up going into debt. He also said that a blanket raise of 5 percent did not seem fair.

“Why does (a police officer) that has been here 6 years get the same raise as Joe Blow who has been here 6 weeks?” Smith asked. “Some employees are not up to par, and do not deserve the same raise as other. What’s the point of me giving 100 percent when my coworker gives 30 percent and gets the same raise?”

Smith said there needed to be an evaluation process that would determine raises, and that the council should be able to see employee evaluations on a monthly basis.

Mayor Wayne Huffman said that the city employees deserve a raise.

Smith also pointed out that since the city has reserved 100 percent of the water supplied by the Trinity River Authority, it was an extra $9,000 per month of expense to Trinity.

“We can’t just keep on the way we’re going, we have to figure this out,” he said. “I want the record to show that we’re going to come in here and loot the budget. That’s great, but next year, I’d like to see evaluations of our employees.”

Both Smith and Mayor Pro Tem Billy Goodin voted against approving the budget.

Following the meeting, Huffman and audience members held a heated conversation regarding the use and administration of grants.

In other business, the city:

  • approved the tax roll provided by Trinity County Appraisal District;
  • approved the interest and sinking funds for debts for the coming fiscal year;
  • approved deposit requirements for retiring city debts; and
  • approved the holiday schedule for the coming fiscal year.
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Trinity Community Fair slated

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Queen candidates - Trinity High School seniors (from left) Zoey Gray, Anneliese Beasley and Alivia Wallace are candidates for 2021 Fair Queen. The Fair Queen coronation will be held underneath the pavilion at the Trinity Community Center at noon on Saturday, Oct. 2. (Courtesy Photo)Queen candidates - Trinity High School seniors (from left) Zoey Gray, Anneliese Beasley and Alivia Wallace are candidates for 2021 Fair Queen. The Fair Queen coronation will be held underneath the pavilion at the Trinity Community Center at noon on Saturday, Oct. 2. (Courtesy Photo)

TCNS staff

TRINITY — The Trinity Community Fair will kick off a grand slate of events, with judging, entertainment and the selection of this year’s queen all on tap.

Several musical guests also are expected to perform.

Check-in and vendor setup starts Wednesday.

2021 Trinity Community Fair Schedule of Events 

Wednesday, Sept. 29

6-8 p.m.: Exhibitor Stall set-up and unloading of tack, Livestock Arena 

Thursday, Sept. 30

10 a.m.: Begin commercial/exhibitor set-up, Exhibit Hall and Fairgrounds 

4-6 p.m.: Livestock project shop project check-in, Livestock Arena 

5 p.m.: Begin receiving non-commercial exhibits, Exhibit Hall 

Friday, Oct. 1

8 a.m.: Receive non-commercial exhibits, Exhibit Hall; Swine judging, Livestock Arena 

9 a.m.: Rabbit judging, Livestock Arena 

10 a.m.: judging Inside Exhibits-Hall Closed, Exhibit Hall 

11 a.m.: Shop project judging, Barn Area 

Noon-9 p.m.: Exhibit Hall open to the public

Noon: Trinity Tiger Pep Rally, Front Stage 

1 p.m.: Lamb judging, Livestock Arena 

2 p.m.: Goat judging, Livestock Arena 

3 p.m.: Steer judging, Livestock Arena 

4 p.m.: Heifer judging, Livestock Arena

6 p.m.: Little Miss September Pageant, Pavilion 

7 p.m.: FFA showmanship clinic, Livestock Arena 

7-11 p.m.: Johnny Riley, Front Stage 

Saturday, Oct. 2

8 a.m.: Exhibit Hall opens 

10 a.m.: Grand Parade, North Highway 19 

11 a.m.: Jillian's Dance Center, Pavilion 

11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Entertainment, Front Stage 

Noon: 2021 Fair Queen Coronation, Pavilion, parade awards to follow 

4-7 p.m.: Entertainment, Front Stage 

4:30-6 p.m.: Buyer's reception, Exhibit Hall Annex 

5:45 p.m.: Drawings and awards, Livestock Arena 

6 p.m.: Livestock Youth Auction, Arena 

7 p.m.-11 p.m.: Cody Wayne Band, Pavilion 

9 p.m.: Exhibitor pick-up, Exhibit Hall

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Trinity county enters discussion on new jail

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Countyseal Trinity 200By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — An item on the agenda at the County Commissioners’ Court on Sept. 14 ended up being a leap of faith, but was intended to start the process for the county to look at new jail facilities.

Originally, Sheriff Woody Wallace placed items on the agenda to put up earnest money to purchase a 10-acre tract of land, as well as begin title search work on that property.

“We are in a bind at the jail — we have no place to keep criminals,” Wallace said. “I’m afraid that is going to create a chain reaction in the crime rate, one that (District Attorney Bennie Schiro) and I worked to get under control.”

The local jail was designed to hold only seven prisoners, and the county has been housing inmates at different facilities in the area. However, space has become a premium everywhere, and it’s becoming a large problem, Wallace said. Also, it costs up to $75 per day per prisoner housing them elsewhere.

“I need you all to seriously consider getting some land and let’s get the plans going,” Wallace said. 

Commissioner Neal Smith said that he would never support any new projects until the county paid itself out of debt, which is did two years ago.

“I’m ready to build a jail if we can afford it,” Smith said.

Smith said he had concerns about utilities in the Groveton area, and said there’s plenty of viable property in the Trinity area that can be used as a jail site.

Schiro said that jail space is getting to the point where the county soon will be desperate.

Commissioner Mike Loftin said that nothing can be done until the county comes up with a plan.

In the end, the court took no action, except to discuss appointing a committee to continue with the process.

In other business, the county:

  • approved personnel action forms;
  • gave its annual approval for the FY 2021-22 VINE service agreement;
  • approved a resolution in support of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and its economic development plans;
  • approved the purchase of a flatbed trailer;
  • approved the purchase of a Kubota KX7-13 compact excavator;
  • approved a donation of $1,000 from Jimmie Morgan for the maintenance of Reggie Lane;
  • approved a bid of $2,505.01 for the sale of a 2004 pickup to Darrell Bennett;
  • approved hiring Lisa Baker as the county grant writer/administrator at a salary of $32,000 per year. Smith voted against the hire;
  • approved the use of $3,575 to install new security surveillance equipment in the Sheriff’s Office;
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Centerville FCCLA takes on Pre-K

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FCCLA students who stepped up to help students are (starting at top, from left) Brianna Commiato, Lauren Lee, Makenzie White, Leo Conner, Audra Bolton, Samantha Smith, J.P. McLaughlin, Ryan Brister, Malacie Bolton, Grayson Robinson, Karlea Commiato, Josilin Jones, Mrs. Dubose, Easton Dyson, Collin Carlton WillieClede, Mason Jones, Sawyer Price, Rylan Thorne, Johnny Mikel, Cason Pyle and Kristin Fry.FCCLA students who stepped up to help students are (starting at top, from left) Brianna Commiato, Lauren Lee, Makenzie White, Leo Conner, Audra Bolton, Samantha Smith, J.P. McLaughlin, Ryan Brister, Malacie Bolton, Grayson Robinson, Karlea Commiato, Josilin Jones, Mrs. Dubose, Easton Dyson, Collin Carlton WillieClede, Mason Jones, Sawyer Price, Rylan Thorne, Johnny Mikel, Cason Pyle and Kristin Fry.

Special to the News-Standard

CENTERVILLE — The Centerville FCCLA student group has adopted the Pre-K class this year. 

Students asked Emily Dubose, the Pre-K teacher, if she had $1,000 what would she buy for her classroom? She thought about the question and decided it would be an interactive sand table. 

She was then asked to go online and choose one, and being the considerate person she is, the cost of the table she found was well under the budget given. 

FCCLA students decided to surprise her and also bought a water table, sand and water play kits, a storage center for the play kits, and sand for the sand table. Needless to say, she and students were very excited and so appreciative of their gifts from the FCCLA students.

The acronym FCCLA stands for Family Career and Community Leaders of America. Here at Centerville our FCCLA members believe in community and take seriously their role as Centerville community leaders and are proud of their service to the school.

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