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Trinity County News - Breakout

Current judge steers county

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Newly elected County Judge Danny Martin presides over his first meeting on Jan. 10. Photo by Tony FarkasNewly elected County Judge Danny Martin presides over his first meeting on Jan. 10. Photo by Tony Farkas

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — An easy agenda greeted newly minted County Judge Danny Martin on Jan. 9.

At its regular meeting, the Trinity County Commissioners Court approved raising the mileage rate for county employees 3 cents to 65.5 cents per mile, since according to County Auditor Bonnie Kennedy, the IRS approves a new rate annually.

Commissioner Neil Smith said that since gas prices went up, the county should increase the rates.

In other business, the county:

•approved personnel action forms;

•approved issuing county credit cards to the newly elected County Treasurer and District Clerk; and

•approved enrollment in the Texas Association of Counties training course on cybersecurity.

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Another round of scholarships offered

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Scholarships STock

I hope you had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year’s celebration with those you love. I pray for health and happiness for each of you. Especially, I pray for the leadership, staff, and students of the Groveton school district for the remainder of this school year, as well as the fall and new school year.

Please check our Groveton Ex-Student’s Association page on Facebook and celebrate with us all the positive things that our Groveton school family is accomplishing. We have several college graduates from December as well as other great accomplishments celebrated by our Groveton people. Rejoice with us in seeing what Groveton Indians have achieved.

Current college students need to apply for Spring ’23 funds. Please submit your information to our new secretary, Liz Ledbetter, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The deadline is Feb. 15, so please get it to her as soon as possible. We are here to help you realize your educational goals. We are so proud of your success.

We are saddened by the loss of these Groveton school district former students: Gladys Marie Skidmore Mayes, Class of 1961; Arthur Punch, GW Carver graduate; James Eugene Williamson, Class of 1970; Edward Lynn Ogden, Class of 1973; Annis Chessher Eastepp, Class of 1953; Lee Brooks, Class of 1960; Willie Horace, Class of 1978; and Jason Horace, Class of 1994. Our thoughts and prayers are with these families.

Please remember to order off Amazon Smile and indicate that the Groveton Ex-Student’s Association is the charitable organization you wish to be the recipient of the donation. Our association receives a contribution from each order you place. We thank you.

Jo Ann Anderson Beken is president of the Groveton Ex-Students Association.

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Future farmers gaining skills

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Trinity County FFA and 4-H members competed at the Houston County Houston County Champion’s Prep Beef Skillathon on Saturday.  Courtesy photoTrinity County FFA and 4-H members competed at the Houston County Houston County Champion’s Prep Beef Skillathon on Saturday. Courtesy photo

Special to the News-Standard

CROCKETT — Groveton FFA and 4-H students competed in the Houston County Champion’s Prep Beef Skillathon Contest on Jan. 7.

The contest consisted of a beef knowledge test and skill stations to identify beef breeds, diseases that affect beef cattle, forage and plant identification, feed identification, tool identification and use, reading medication labels, and bull selection through the use of EPDs.

In all, the team posted two first-place winners, a second, two fourths, a fifth, sixth and seventh and a 12th and 15th.

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New judge in town

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Danny Martin became the new judge for Trinity County on Jan. 1.  Photo by Marlena StubblefieldDanny Martin became the new judge for Trinity County on Jan. 1. Photo by Marlena Stubblefield

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — Danny Martin assumed the County Judge position this month, a position he said is one of service.

“I want’s best for the county, and if that takes raking a yard on the weekends, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “My door is always open, and if someone has an idea, I’m not bullheaded and I will listen.”

As well as getting everyone in the county moving the same way, a county judge, who should act as the governor of the community, also needs to fiscally prudent, or, as Martin said, “squeeze a dime to keep things low-cost.”

Martin has been a business owner for more than 42 years, the last three of which were building storage units. He also owns a propane company and sells and subdivides land, and is the former Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1.

Based on that, he said he would like to see the county grow, and all the cities in the county grow.

“At some point, we’re going to have to talk people into coming our way,” he said. “The lake is one asset we have going for us, and there’s cattle and some farming.”

Martin also said that logging is important in this part of the county, but is a double-edged sword; Trinity is ranked 163rd in the state for tax revenue, making it one of the poorest counties.

Taxes will become an even greater issue, particularly because the county needs to build a jail, he said.

“A lot of people don’t realize that for a jail, our tax base will go up,” he said. “I’ve contacted surrounding counties, and the overhead for running a jail runs about $1.4 million, and that doesn’t include the notes needed to build a jail.”

Given Trinity’s lack of available industry, such as in Angelina County, or oil and gas extraction, such as in Houston County, it makes financing things long-term and expensive, and that is only if a bond is approved by voters.

“It’s one of the biggest issues facing the county, and it’s a Catch-22 for the county,” he said.

On average, the cost to build a jail would add about 86 cents per $100 valuation to the current tax rate of 57 cents, which would strain a lot of landowners, Martin said. Additionally, the bond would have a 38-year term, but his research shows that a new jail’s life span is about 20 years.

For now, though, the county is in good shape, and Martin said his business background will be an asset.

“I’m a money man, and I’ve scrutinized the budget and found a few things to adjust to turn a negative into a positive,” he said.

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County looks to upgrade security camera

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Outgoing County Judge Doug Page swears in new Judge Danny Martin at an event on Sunday. COURTESY PHOTOOutgoing County Judge Doug Page swears in new Judge Danny Martin at an event on Sunday. COURTESY PHOTO

By Tony Farkas
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners Court approved an upgrade to a camera in the County Tax Office but held off on bids to upgrade the Courthouse’s current camera system.

At its regular meeting on Dec. 27, the county gave its OK on a new dome camera for the hallway, since the current camera only faces the front of the building. County Tax Assessor/Collector Nancy Shanafelt said there is a lot of activity in the back of the building, which contains voting machines and money.

Cost of the camera is $866.91.

Relatedly, Sean Luce, head of the county’s IT department, said there are issues with the current system in that the cameras are 10 to 11 years old and are low resolution and have no audio.

Additionally, two cameras recently replaced by Vector Security were of poor quality, after taking two months to happen.

The court tabled the matter.

In other business, the court:

•approved personnel action forms;

•approved extended loan agreements with Cadence Bank/Bancorp South for Mack trucks, which can’t be replaced until December 2023; and

•approved a bid for chip seal on Lake L Drive and Creekside Subdivision for $188,496.

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