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Trinity County News - Breakout

City puts codes, inspections on hold

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Codes InspectionsBy Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — The city of Groveton has opted to take more time to study implementing building codes for residential and commercial buildings within the city, as well as enforcing any new rules.

At its regular meeting on Dec. 20, the council discussed the possibility of new rules, but concerns about the scope of the rules, as well as how the ordinances were to be approved, led to the items being tabled.

Council Member Autumn Dial said her chief concern was that the city was setting building standards, but yet does not have any zoning ordinances. 

“If we’re not zoned, how can we differentiate between homes and businesses?” she asked. “That concerns me. I want to make sure that’s not a problem.”

Additionally, Dial said that some of the fines for infractions are pretty high, and there are no provisions as to how the rules are to be enforced. She also said that most people won’t know or want to get permits for construction or remodeling, and that the ordinances list the infractions as criminal, but there have been no amendments to the city’s criminal ordinances.

Dial said that recently she had to replace a water heater, which she did by herself; when she read the proposed ordinances, though, it was clear that she would have been in violation because she would not have gotten a permit, not had it done by a licensed plumber and subsequently inspected.

Mayor Tommy Walton said the codes are based on ordinances from Conroe and Willis and were presented based on the council’s request to improve the looks of the city.

Council Member Joe Don Kennedy said that the was going from zero to 100 real quick, but the city needs to put something like this in place and see what “aggravation” they get within a year’s time.

Walton said that people will be asked to comply, but real enforcement won’t begin until around the middle of summer and the city will use some judgment in its enforcement. However, certain things like replacing gas water heaters were included because of the danger of house fires if done improperly.

In a separate matter, the council approved raising the rates for both garbage collection and water service.

Sonny Hubbard of Pineywoods Sanitation said that the business has been hit with rising costs over the last year, both in the cost of replacement parts as well as the fees it pays to area landfills.

“We don’t want to go up on anyone, but it’s become a matter of staying in business,” he said. 

The amount of the increase will come to about 60 cents per month per household, Hubbard said.

City Accountant Jack Pashtag said that costs of service and maintenance of the city’s water system were also on the rise and sought an increase in the water bills.

This comes on the heels of an increase that was granted in September.

Pashtag said the city’s debt service on the work it has done on the system increased more than expected, and that more funds were needed to keep things solvent.

Customers will see an increase of 6 percent, which amounts to $3 per average bill. It will become effective on the next bills.

In other business, the council:

•reapproved council compensation, which provides paid water for council members, and a $500 monthly stipend for Walton;

•approved paying the $5,500 monthly bill to Inframark for water and sewer service; and

•approved election of Groveton EDC members Tommy Walton, James Alford, Gordon Bergman and Benny McClain.

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Political landscape changing in county

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Vote 001By Tony Farkas
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With County Judge Doug Page stepping down and Trinity County in a different U.S. Congressional District, there will be new faces to vote for in the March 2022 primary election.

Many races will be decided in the primary, but there are a few that will carry over to the November general election.

Also, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, Danny Martin, did not file for re-election, and the spot for Justice of the Peace Precinct 3, previously held by the late Hayne Huffman, will see two political newcomers.

On the national front, the race that has drawn the most attention for Trinity County votes is for U.S. Representative in District 17. Previously, Trinity County was in Congressional District 8, but redistricting based on the 2020 Census moved the county.

Currently, District 17 is represented by Pete Sessions, a Republican from Waco. Other Republicans seeking to replace him are Paulette Carson, Jason “Stormchaser” Nelson and Rob Rosenberger; on the Democratic side, Mary Jo Woods has filed for the seat.

At the state level, incumbent Robert Nichols, a Republican, has filed for State Senator District 3.

For the newly designated District 9, changed after the Texas Legislature redistricted the state, Trent Ashby, who was representative for Trinity County when it was in District 57, has filed for re-election.

He will be unopposed in the primary, but for the general election, will face Democratic hopeful Jason Rogers.

On the local front, the race for County Treasurer includes incumbent Bob Dockens and Orrin Hargrave on the Republican ticket. That winner will face Democrat Cheryl Boggs Savage, who is unopposed for treasurer in the primary.

Other local races with opposition will be decided in the primary. Those races include:

• 258 District Judge: incumbent Travis Kitchens and Lee Hon

• District Clerk: incumbent Kristen Raiford and Jillian Phillips-Steptoe.

• County Judge: Steve Jones and Danny Martin.

• Justice of the Peace Precinct 3: Keith Johnson and Lenzy Hargrave.

Other races with a lone candidate include:

• County Clerk: incumbent Shasta Bergman.

• County Commissioner Precinct 2: incumbent Mike Loftin.

• County Commissioner Precinct 4: incumbent Steven Truss.

• Justice of the Peace Precinct 1: Mary Wallace.

• Justice of the Peace Precinct 2: incumbent Lyle Stubbs.

• Justice of the Peace Precinct 4: incumbent Richard Steptoe.

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CISD gets good report

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CentervilleISDCENTERVILLE — The final meeting of 2021 shows that things are progressing as expected, and it’s shaping up to be a good year.

Superintendent Mark Brown said Centerville has had a really good first semester.

“I know it’s odd to already be talking about a semester, but it’s flown by,” he said. “Benchmark testing looks to be pretty good. The theory is that with COVID, there will be some gaps, and we have some, but the teachers have been doing a good job getting the kids where they need to be.”

Brown also said that baseball field construction is coming along, and crews will start work on installing dugouts this week. The coaches and crews also have been working on the pitching mound, and hopefully, the Bulldogs team will get to play at home this year.

District basketball began last week as well.

In a separate matter, the school has delayed bus purchases, which was going to be from another school district, because that district does not have its new buses purchased.

Brown said that they may not get replacements buses this year. 

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Railroad spurs Trinity development

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Railroad St., Trinity, Texas published Mansell’s Pharmacy.Railroad St., Trinity, Texas published Mansell’s Pharmacy.

The creation and growth of the city of Trinity starts prior to the coming of the railroad in 1872. 

In the late 1850s, James William Kaiser, along with his large family, settled on the prairie lands north of the Trinity River. In 1872. Capt. George Gibson and Colonel S.T. Robb platted the town the name was Kayser’s Prairie 

After the Houston and Great Northern Railroad, the stop at Kayser’s Prairie was known as Trinity Station because of its location on the Trinity River. Later this was shortened to Trinity.

Many founders of Trinity originally came from Sumpter, the Trinity County Seat at that time. After Sumpter courthouse burned Nov. 2, 1872, they moved to Trinity where the railroad had arrived earlier that year. 

Gibson had been a surveyor for more than 20 years. In 1857, he settled on Caney Creek, 10 miles east of present-day Trinity.

Robb was a lawyer, and later settled on Robb Hill in Trinity; he also was Trinity’s first postmaster. In those early years, the entire business community was composed of two stores and five saloons. 

Conditions continued to improve, and by 1900, there were three general stores, three grocery stores, two meat markets, two drug stores, one cotton gin, a bakery shop, one dairy, one candy kitchen, one livery stable, two blacksmiths, four doctors, one opera house, two saloons, one ice house and, most importantly, two schools.

With the growth of industry came the need for hotels. One of the first hotels was built by W.H. Manry. It was a frame building located on the corner of Main and Railroad streets. He later sold hotel to the Hollands. 

A devastating fire consumed many structures in 1909. The Feb. 22, 1909, fire started on the second floor of Holland’s Hotel and leapt across the street to Frank Parker’ s Feed Store. This fire apparently had a profound affect the construction in Trinity, as the non-burning brick became the construction material of choice. 

After the 1909 fire, Holland built a brick hotel, which definitely had an effect on the consideration for a non-burning material of construction for the “Old Red” Schoolhouse.

The town of Trinity was incorporated in 1910, and the city aldermen held their first meeting on Jan. 3, 1911. Several churches were started, and the first school (1872) was located on the corner of the present location of the Cedar Grove Cemetery. 

It was a one-room, one-teacher log structure. Mr. Champion was known as professor and was the principal, and there were 11 students enrolled. Not far away, the Skains Chapel Singing School was one of the earliest types of education in this area; students were taught by composer William Henry Skains. 

The first public school was organized in 1895. This for a citizen’s vote to incorporate. The old frame building consisted of four rooms located west of Cedar Grove Cemetery. Around the time “Old Red” was being built, the building was moved to “Squash” for use at the black school. 

From 1912 to 1915,  classes were held in the frame building, as well as in the Masonic Hall.

The Trinity County Historical Commission helps identify and preserve historical sites and helps to preserve the heritage of Trinity County.

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City fields water questions

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Trinity City SignBy Tony Farkas
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TRINITY — Not much was posted for a vote, but the Trinity City Council had a long meeting on Thursday as they had a full house of city residents requesting information on the ailing water system.

City Manager Steven Jones said that the questions came during public information, and he and the council answered all questions as well as attempted to dispel misinformation.

Jones said that currently, the city is moving in two directions to resolve problems, one of which is relieving the city from the burden of a boil water notice.

Trinity is currently under a boil water notice, which was issued Nov. 10 

In an emergency meeting on Dec. 2, the council approved using grant funds under an emergency basis to connect water from the Trinity River Authority to all portions of town. Work began shortly thereafter, and Jones said it should be completed by this weekend.

“This will supply to the entire town from TRA sources, and will also give us time and room to improve the city’s separate well system,” Jones said. “Once we get on TRA water, we’ll see a huge increase in quality; there won’t be blending from two different sources.”

Jones said the second avenue is that the city has rebuilt the chlorinating system at the city well site in an effort to remove any contaminants. He said they are working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality daily on the issue.

“These kinds of things happen when there is an aging infrastructure,” Jones said.

He said 1/3 of the city’s water system needs to be replaced, and they are trying to maintain the system as best as they can in the meantime.

In all, the city has been approved for more than $6 million in grants to accomplish its goals regarding the water system, and Jones said the city has done its due diligence and is waiting on the funding agencies to release funds.

The work the grants covers is sewer line improvements, engineering plans, a new water tower, a new ground storage tank, a new water lift station and water line replacements.

Jones said another issue born of the water problems is informing residents, as the city website and social media is limited in its reach. The city staff currently is researching a better system of notifying the public of problems.

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