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Trinity County News - Breakout

County rescinds burn ban

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BurnBanTCNS staff

GROVETON — The burn ban in Trinity County, put in place in June due to numerous wildfires in the county, has been rescinded by County Judge Doug Page.

According to an order released Thursday, Page stated the conditions requiring the ban — weeks of little or no rainfall — no longer exist, and the order was removed.

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School district to bump tax rate

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tax rate increase graphicBy Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — Groveton ISD gave its OK to a prospective budget on Aug. 22, on that will put the property tax rate at 0.8656 percent, or 86 cents per $100 property valuation.

Superintendent Jim Dillard said that while the proposed rate is slightly above this year’s rate of 0.8156 percent, it is still less that what was in place in the past.

Previous rates were just under a dollar — at 0.9664 and 0.9041. 

Overall, the district is looking at a budget of $9,038,242 projected budget amount for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins Sept. 1. For the current fiscal year, expenditures are $8,634,642 to date; however, certain costs have not yet been placed on the books, so that number should end up being similar to the next budget. 

Dillard said that in regard to the new budget, the impact of the school’s hybrid schedule, as well as current economic factors, remains to be seen.

As part of the budget process, the board also approved the certified tax rolls as submitted by the Trinity and Houston counties respective appraisal districts.

In other business, the board:

•approved property and casualty insurance through TASB risk management;

•approved extending emergency paid sick leave, which has been done since the COVID outbreak. Employees will be covered for 5 days; and

•updated the board about the beginning of school, including new safety measures.

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County to explore temporary jail

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Jail Graphic

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — Policy changes at area jails have put the county jail out of compliance, and Sheriff Woody Wallace told the County Commissioners Court something must be done.

The jail, which can hold seven prisoners, is holding 15 as of last week; Wallace said that the other jails contracted to house Trinity County prisoners will no longer accept prisoners requiring medical attention.

He also said that several prisons will be raising their rates in the next fiscal year, which will further put a strain on county coffers.

The court did approve submitting a proposed drawing of a temporary jail, to be built using the old sewing mill, to the Texas Jail Commission for review. Depending on their response, the county then will look into funding options.

In a separate matter, the county will propose a .57 percent tax rate for its FY 2022-23 budget, which also will include a 6 percent raise for county employees and officials.

In other business, the county:

•approved an official bond for Jill Steptoe;

•approved a personnel action form to correct a clerical error on a pay rate;

•approved eight housecleaning budget amendments;

•approved the purchase of a chair restraint to be used by the jail;

•approved an agreement with Darren Smith to allow the county to remove soil from his property;

•approved service agreements with Windstream for 911 addressing needs for offices in Trinity and the County Museum;

•accepted a donation of $1,000 from Steely Lumber Co.;

•accepted a donation of $3,000 from Dillon Renfro for damages done to Baker Lane;

•approved the 2023 holiday schedule for the county; and

•approved the regular terms of Commissioners Court for the next fiscal year.

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Contest wrapping up

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Philip Schmitten categorizes photo contest entries. Philip Schmitten categorizes photo contest entries.

By Philip Schmitten
TCNS correspondent

GROVETON — The Groveton 2022 Photo Contest is in full swing with all entries on adisplay in the Groveton Public Library. 

The photo contest is co-sponsored by Philip and Evelyn Schmitten, along with the library.

Residents are encouraged stop by the library from 1-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and look at the truly outstanding photography from the area residents. 

The Library will be holding a small Reception at the Awards Presentation Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.

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Fires continue to plague county

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The Fountain View Fire burned 514 acres. Courtesy photoThe Fountain View Fire burned 514 acres. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — The Groveton Fire Department battled numerous forest fires in the past week, some lightning caused, and several that were set deliberately.

Additionally, in the process of fighting fires across the county line near Corrigan, a small plane contracted to the Texas Forest Service to fight fires crashed in Lake Livingston.

Sheriff Woody Wallace said there is a $1,000 reward offered for information leading to the arrest of a “pyromaniac jackass.”

Wallace said fires have been deliberately set on Due Road, Rainey Road and Ed West Road at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday. Those fires are now being investigated by the Texas Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, Texas Rangers and TCSO. 

Anyone with cameras aimed at the area roads in the area of those fires are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office or (936) 639-TIPS (8477) .

At approximately 5 p.m. Aug. 9, a Fire Boss Single Engine Air Tanker/Scooper crashed in Lake Livingston while responding to wildfires in Polk County. 

GVFD assisted the Texas A&M Forest Service on multiple ligahtning fires in the Corrigan area. The Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.

The pilot is in good health and sustained no injuries from the crash. Reports indicate that as the event unfolded the pilot’s emergency procedures training kicked in, enabling him to react quickly to the situation and safely extricate himself from the aircraft. 

The National Transportation and Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will conduct an investigation.

On Aug. 9, Fountain View Fire burned 514 acres south of Groveton, but was 100 percent contained by Wednesday. All state resources have been released and the fire has transitioned back to the local unit.

Onlaska, Hudson, Pennington, Apple Springs, Trinity, Corrigan, and others assisted in the firefighting.

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