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Trinity County News 2

One killed in hit-and-run

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The suspect vehicle is described as a late model Honda-type vehicle, possible dark green in color.  Courtesy photosThe suspect vehicle is described as a late model Honda-type vehicle, possible dark green in color. Courtesy photos

By Tony Farkas
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TRINITY — The Trinity Police Department is investigating an early Christmas morning traffic accident that left a Trinity resident dead.

Police Chief Steven Jones said that at about 2:20 a.m. on Christmas Day, 36-year-old Nathan Gonzales, who was lying in the roadway near the intersection of Highway 19 and Kelly Avenue in the north part of Trinity, was struck by a vehicle which left the scene.

Jones said the victim lived in a nearby house and had been drinking with friends; Gonzales walked out on to the roadway and laid down on the double yellow line. 

Jones said there was no assumption of why Gonzales did that.

Nathan Gonzales, in this photo provided by the family, was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Christmas morning.Nathan Gonzales, in this photo provided by the family, was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Christmas morning.Reports indicate a woman was driving southbound on 19, saw the man who was curled up in the fetal position, and pulled over to the right; at the same time, an 18-wheeler traveling northbound saw the victim, and pulled over to the right as well.

The truck driver saw another vehicle headed north and attempted to get the vehicle to stop; instead, the vehicle moved over to the middle of the road and apparently did not see Gonzales, Jones said.

The car struck Gonzales and then accelerated away from the scene, he said.

The vehicle is described as a late model Honda-type vehicle, possibly dark green, with some damage to the front of the vehicle. Leaving the scene of an accident involving death constitutes a felony, Jones said.

Anyone with information that may lead to the identification of the driver of the suspected vehicle, contact your local law enforcement or Trinity County Crime Stoppers at (936) 639-TIPS (8477).

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DPS encourages safe driving for holidays

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Special to the

AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Public Safety is encouraging everyone to end 2021 safely as they head out on the road for the holidays. 

The Texas Highway Patrol will conduct its annual Christmas and New Year’s holiday traffic enforcement campaigns beginning Dec. 23, looking for people who are speeding, not wearing their seat belts, driving while intoxicated or committing other traffic violations.

“It’s always nice to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but please keep the well-being of other travelers at the forefront of your mind as you head out,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Troopers will be protecting the public on the roads, but we depend on other drivers to do their part, as well, so everyone can have a safe and happy holiday.”

The Highway Patrol will increase enforcement as part of two initiatives: The nationwide Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which runs from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, as well as Operation Holiday, which runs simultaneously from Dec. 24 through Dec. 26.

During DPS’ 2020 Christmas and New Year’s enforcement efforts, there were 116,810 citations and warnings issued. This included 14,499 speeding citations; 1,636 seat belt and child seat violations; 2,625 citations for driving without insurance; and 820 citations and warnings for Move Over, Slow Down violations. In addition, last year’s enforcement efforts resulted in 1,185 felony arrests, 615 DWI arrests and 355 fugitives arrested.

DPS offers the following tips for making the holiday season a safe one:

• Don’t drink and drive. Make alternate plans if you are consuming alcohol.

• Move Over or Slow Down for police, fire, EMS, Texas Department of Transportation vehicles and tow trucks stopped on the side of the road with emergency lights activated. Show the same courtesy to other drivers who are stopped on the side of the road. This year alone, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 14, DPS issued 12,060 warnings and citations for Move Over, Slow Down violations.

• Buckle up everyone in the vehicle, it’s the law.

• Slow down, especially in bad weather, heavy traffic, unfamiliar areas or construction zones.

• Eliminate distractions while driving, including the use of mobile devices. Texas law prohibits the use of portable wireless devices to read, write or send an electronic message unless the vehicle is stopped. If you’re using a navigation device or app, have a passenger manage it, so you can keep your eyes on the road.

• Drive defensively, as holiday travel can present additional challenges.

• Don’t drive fatigued — allow plenty of time to reach your destination.

• On multi-lane roads, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, Texas law requires slower traffic to keep to the right and use the left lane for passing only (when posted).

If you can Steer It, Clear It: If you are involved in a non-injury crash and your vehicle can be moved, clear the traffic lanes to minimize traffic impact. Leaving vehicles in a traffic lane increases traffic congestion and leaves those involved with an increased risk of harm or a secondary wreck. On some highways, if you don’t move your vehicle when it’s safe to do so, it’s illegal.

• Check your vehicle to make sure it’s properly maintained and always ensure your cargo is secure.

• Keep the Texas Roadside Assistance number stored in your phone. Dial 1-800-525-5555 for any type of roadside assistance. The number can also be found on the back of a Texas Driver License. 

• Report road hazards or anything suspicious to the nearest law enforcement agency.

• Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions and closures in Texas, visit Drive Texas.

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Seven departments fight house fire

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Pennington firefighters work the scene at a fire that occurred Thursday at a home on West Highway 358 near Pennington.

By Tony Farkas

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PENNINGTON — Christmas lights may be the cause of a fire that destroyed a home on Thursday in a home near Pennington.

Pennington Fire Chief Ross Vandine said the fire erupted at about 12:50 p.m. at the home at 10667 W. Highway 358, about 1 ½ miles east of the town. The homeowners’ identities were not released.

Vandine said there was a total of seven fire departments out at the scene.

Aside from the Pennington VFD arriving with three brush trucks and a tanker, Apple Springs responded with an engine and a brush truck; Groveton VFD came with an engine; and Trinity, Crockett, Kennard and Lovelady departments provided tankers,  which was necessary for the water, and all departments brought manpower, which Vandine said was sorely needed.

Vandine said the fire was knocked down by about 2:30 p.m., and mop-up was done by 3:45 p.m.

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, preliminary reports indicate a Christmas tree was the cause. Vandine said the Fire Marshal will do further investigation.

He also said that the family had left house 15 minutes before the fire broke out, and no injuries were reported.

The structure and contents are a total loss.

Vandine said the Red Cross is providing some assistance to the family. Donations also are being sought to help the family, particularly for two sons who have lost everything. They are in need of clothes for two boys, ages 5 and 11, with youth sizes small or 6, and youth large or 12.

Items may be dropped off at the Pennington Water Supply.

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Fire destroys home

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A home on West First Street in Groveton was destroyed by fire on Wednesday.

By Tony Farkas

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GROVETON — A single family home was destroyed in an early afternoon fire on Wednesday.

Groveton Fire Chief Glenn Hammond said the blaze broke out at about 3:21 p.m. at the address on West First Street, and the Volunteer Fire Department responded with its engine, a brush truck and five firefighters approximately 6 minutes after being called out.

Additionally, the department called in assistance from Apple Springs, which responded with an engine and four firefighters; Trinity, which provided an engine, a tanker and eight firefighters; and Pennington, which provided two brush trucks and four firefighters.

Hammond said that when he arrived, the house was totally involved. The combined crews had the fire knocked down in about 1 ½ hours.

“The guys did a good job mopping up, there were no hot spots,” he said.

Hammond said the resident, identified as Sandy Walters, told a sheriff’s deputy  he was going to cook eggs, and turned stove on; fire started there, traveled to ceiling. No further investigation needed.

The home and its contents are a 100 percent loss; however, no injuries were reported.

Donations for Walters are being taken at Susie Q’s. Items being accepted are clothes, sweat pants medium, large shirts and size 8 shoes for a man; and large shirts, pants size 12-14 and size 7 women’s shoes.

A fundraiser also is being organized by Kayla Fry to help replace all items, including the many Christmas gifts purchased for the family. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/neka5-help-my-grandma.

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Inspiration Village offers residents hope

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By Michele Newhouse
Special to the News-Standard

TRINITY — In a world where worries and stress has seemed to take over, Inspiration Village has kept its family strong and full of hope. 

IV is a non-profit organization formed back in 2005 on a 90-acre ranch in the hopes of helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live and work with dignity and become as independent as their abilities allow. 

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, things were a little slow as just a few of the clients came, but now the village is almost back to 100 percent attendance and all the clients are happy the Village family is back together.

There have been some major changes too along the way. In the pasture you will see the first new client residential home. 

There are plans for more client residential homes as the second home is under construction.  They have added a woodworking shop where some beautiful wooden art projects such as crosses and other items are being constructed. They also have plans to open a gift shop in which the clients will have hands on experience in working in retail and socialization skills. Of course, they are still enjoying the ranch atmosphere as they participate in general animal care with the chickens, cows, miniature horses and pigs. 

In the spring and summer, the clients grow a plentiful garden full of vegetables in which they take care of everyday during the week. The greenhouse also gives the clients the opportunity to start with seedlings where they learn how to care for specific varieties of plants and seeds.

Last but certainly not least, the kitchen group prepares delicious lunches. Every month that group gets to plan menus, delicious bake sales in which there is a variety of awesome treats and even dog goodies. The clients learn valuable lessons on how to budget for grocery shopping as they go shopping and even learn how to eat healthier.

Inspiration Village is “A Residential Ranch Inspired by Special People With Special Needs.” It only costs $20 a day which includes transportation to and from the Village. This service is offered to those in need in Huntsville, Riverside, Crockett, Trinity Groveton and surrounding areas. 

You are invited to come and tour our Village home. We are always welcoming new clients. Just give us a call at (936) 594-1588 to let us know you are coming. Also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Inspiration-Village-129248457115123.

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