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  • Board discusses PD’s outreach efforts

    040121 COCISD PDCOURTESY PHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team gave a year-in-review presentation at the COCISD school board meeting on Monday, March 22.

    By Cassie Gregory
    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — The highlight of the March 22 COCISD Board of Trustees meeting was the yearly report given by COCISD Police Chief Roosevelt Joseph and his team of officers.

    They reported on the year's events and outreach programs that have been implemented to build relationships with students, families and the community.

    "A lot of what we've been doing is to foster the relationship between the public and police officers," Joseph said. "This has been a tough year with all of the things going on around the country. We are community based — that's what we are all about."

    Some of the programs include Cops Who Care at the beginning of the school year, where officers give away free backpacks filled with school supplies, and Shop with a Cop at Christmas, which helps to provide gifts for students in need at Christmas.

    "We don't want any child to wake up on Christmas morning without a gift under the tree," Joseph said.

    The department also works with organizations and other police departments to acquire equipment, technology and software at no cost to the district. Recently, hey were awarded a grant for a sophisticated report-writing system that has cut down on the time it takes to record reports and has greatly increased the security of confidential information. Another grant provided equipment designed to teach students about the danger of vaping, and they also received new radios as a donation, saving the district $12,000.

    "We work very hard every day to make this a safe environment, and we are going to continue," Joseph said.

    Also at the meeting, Coldspring-Oakhurst High School advanced culinary arts students served a delicious meal to board members and staff under the direction of Chef Joel Casiday. The selection included chicken and dumplings, mixed greens salad and a fresh, multi-berry crisp topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

    The meeting began with the pledges of allegiance led by Coldspring Intermediate students.

    Interim Superintendent Walter Key introduced and thanked the culinary arts students, followed by a presentation given by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Vikki Curry and campus principals on benchmark scores.

    In other business, trustees approved:

    • •The adoption of pre-kindergarten instructional materials to be implemented in the 2021-22 school year.
    • •The TASB Localized Policy Manual Update 116.
    • •Recommended revisions to board policies.
    • •A digital learning agreement with Apex Learning.
    • •The purchase and installation of a paint booth for Coldspring-Oakhurst High School.
    • •The purchase of interactive televisions.
    • •Participation in the Region 7 purchasing cooperative.
    • •Construction of a tennis court.
    • •Proposals for facility projects.
    • •To temporarily delegate hiring authority for contract personnel to the superintendent.

    The next regular meeting of the COCISD Board of Trustees is set for 6:30 p.m. April 26 at the Jones Educational Complex Auditorium.

  • Body found in Rocky Creek

    Lights and sirensFILE PHOTO Law Enforcement lights

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    The body of a 59-year-old man was discovered floating in Rocky Creek two weeks ago.

    Gary Earl Nash, 59, was found dead after he apparently drowned weeks earlier. His body was discovered on Jan. 27, and he was last seen Jan. 12.

    On Jan. 27, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area of Bent Wood Bend Subdivision due to a body discovered floating in the creek area. Detectives were able to identify the victim as Nash, who resided in the area.

    After further investigation into the death detectives learned from the son of Nash along with other relatives that on Jan. 12, Nash returned home from a family funeral and talked about going bank fishing behind his home. Detectives discovered a spot a short distance from where the body was discovered that Nash had recently found which had a deep embankment that he had to build a make shift ladder to get to the water.

    Fishing equipment identified to belong to Mr. Nash was located at the scene. It is suspected by detectives that Nash may have fallen from the embankment causing serious injuries.

    Detectives suspect no foul play to be the cause of Mr. Nash’s death.

    Justice of the Peace Jamie Richardson was requested to the scene where an autopsy was ordered to be conducted at the Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office. The death is still under investigation at this time.

  • Born to Be Wild (GALLERY)

    IMG 9321PHOTOS BY PHILLIP SCHMITTENRocky Raccoon here is waiting to grow up and be released back into the wild.

    By Philip Schmitten
    TCNS Correspondent

    GROVETON — Ever wonder what happens to the animals in the wild who are sick, crippled or abandoned? They end up at Circle B Farm & Wildlife Rehab in Groveton.

    This single-family crusade to care for orphaned, abandoned and injured animals from the wild is totally paid for by the Bergman Family, who takes care of the daily routine of providing and care of the 76 animals in their care now.

    They have had more than 100 wild animals to take care of in the past. Donations are always welcome from the public and much needed.

    Shasta, Rodney, Hanna and Mattie Bergman are responsible for the daily care of these animals. With Shasta working full time as the Trinity County Clerk, Hanna and Mattie pull a lot of the day to day duties.

    All wildlife belongs to the State of Texas, so if you spot an animal who seems to be lost or in trouble, call the local Game Warden and they, most likely, will contact Circle B for the rescue.

    “We are licensed by the State of Texas to care and house these wild animals, with the goal of returning them to the wild when they are ready,” Shasta said.

    They care for just about all wild animals; they have had foxes, skunks, possums, rabbits, squirrels, deer and raccoons. The care and feeding of these animals takes some effort, but the Bergmans love what they do. Their goals are to have a sanctuary where the public can visit to see and learn about animals in the wild.

    They rescue animals from all over the area, going as far as Texarkana. At the present time there are a lot of animals going hungry due to overpopulation —the deer, rabbits and squirrels are fighting for food and starving from lack of nourishment.

    Shasta Bergman summed to up when she said, “Circle B Farm & Wildlife Rehab is dedicated to caring for orphaned and injured wildlife, with the sole intent of being able to release each animal back into the wild, where they belong.”

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  • Boyce follows family footsteps, signs with Sam

    Boyce FamilyJASON CHLAPEK I PCE Onalaska senior William Boyce (seated) signs a National Letter of Intent with Sam Houston State University to run cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field Wednesday afternoon at Onalaska High School. Joining Boyce is (standing from left) sisters Ginny and Katie Boyce, mother Terri Boyce and father Charles Boyce.

    By Jason Chlapek

    ONALASKA – It could be said that the Blue and Orange of Sam Houston State University runs through William Boyce’s veins.

    His parents, Charles and Terri Boyce, met at the school. His paternal grandparents attended there as well.

    On Wednesday, William signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field at SHSU, making him a third-generation Bearkat. He also hinted that although other schools were in contact with him, SHSU was always the front-runner.

    “Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to go to Sam,” Boyce said. “My parents graduated from there and my dad’s parents graduated from there. It’s always been close to home and close to my heart.”

    Not only is Boyce going to be a third-generation student at SHSU, but he’ll also be a second-generation athlete at the school. His mother, Onalaska cross country and girls track and field coach Terri (Sheppard) Boyce, played basketball for the Lady Kats from 1996-2000.

    While Boyce still has his senior track and field season coming up, in which he’ll participate in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs, he had a decorated cross country career at Onalaska, which included a Class 3A state championship, a Region III-3A championship and a District 23-3A championship this past season. Throughout his four-year tenure, Boyce had four trips to the region meet, four trips to the state meet, three district championships, a district runner-up, two region championships, a third-place finish in state and a state championship.

    “Onalaska has a great legacy in cross country,” Boyce said. “It’s the most successful sport and it helps that we don’t have football. We also have good academics and I’d rather be more sound academically than athletically.”

    Following the family footsteps seems to be a trend for Boyce. He plans to major in education and become a teacher and coach.

    While Boyce is familiar with cross country in the fall and (outdoor) track and field in the spring, he’s adding indoor track and field to the mix. Indoor track and field season takes place in the winter.

    Boyce will continue to run the 1,600 and 3,200 in outdoor track and field, and will run the 1,500 and 3,000 in indoor season. He’ll also run a little more in cross country – 6.2 miles instead of 3.1.

    “I’ll have my hands tied with three sports and I won’t have much time to relax,” Boyce said.

    While Boyce has career aspirations of being a teacher and coach, he’s keeping his options open if something else happens.

    “I might decide to be a professional runner,” Boyce said. “I think that would be fun. I’d always have that degree to fall back on (if it doesn’t work out). Running professionally has never been a big dream of mine so if it doesn’t happen, no big deal. If it does happen, I’ll take advantage of it. If I run in the Olympics, that would be pretty cool, too.”

  • Brady addresses ‘border crisis’ at town hall

    Brady at Moosehead1ALTON PORTER | HCC Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tx 8) addresses a crowd of constituents at a Monday town hall held at the Moosehead Café in Crockett.

    By Alton Porter

    CROCKETT – US Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Tx 8) held a town hall with an audience in Crockett at the Moosehead Café on Monday highlighting his presentation with a talk about what he termed a “border crisis” on the southern border of the United States.

    “So, right now, I know President (Joe) Biden is in denial, but we’ve got a humanitarian crisis at the border,” Brady said.

    “We’ve got a security crisis at the border. The number of those illegal (immigrants)—whether they’re kids coming without their parents or single people coming across that border—has just surged since the election,” he continued.

    Brady also spoke about Biden’s halting of the border wall construction and the reinstatement of a release policy for undocumented border crossers.

    “You’ve got to shut the back door of illegal immigration so you can keep open the front door of legal immigration,” Brady said.

    Brady also spoke of issues with law enforcement surrounding the border issue. He said the number of home break-ins have surged in Uvalde, where police officers are engaged in 10 to 12 dangerous car chases each week and city officials are seeing property damage.

    “This president, President Biden, he incited this border surge. He needs to take responsibility for it,” he said.

    Before speaking about the border issue, Brady touched on several other issues, and he responded to comments and questions from attendees.

    One point he addressed is a bill that passed the House to nationalize state and local elections, which he said would effectively ban states from having voter ID laws, allow same-day voter registration and ballot harvesting.

    “Plus, when they take over our state and local elections, I guarantee you we’re going to have less integrity in our elections, not more. And we’ve got a problem right now where a lot of Americans just don’t trust election results,” he said.

    In answer to a question, asking what Senate Republicans are doing to stop this, Brady said, “They couldn’t do anything about that COVID bill because they (senators) did it with a simple majority (vote). As long as Democrats don’t get rid of the filibuster and Republicans hang tight, those bills don’t go farther. What our (Republicans) role is right now (is that) not a single Republican voted for Covid (stimulus) payoff. No one voted for the (elections) nationalization. No one voted to defund the police, which was the next bill. No Republican voted to ban state right to work laws,” he said.

    Brady also addressed “two more gun-control bills that will do nothing to keep us safer—do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, just make it harder for law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves,” both of which passed the House two weeks ago.

    “We all … want these mass shootings to end,” he said. “Those two bills they passed, which I opposed, won’t do a single thing to stop a single mass shooting.”

  • Brady: Congress not working for the people

    Kevin BradyFILE PHOTO Congressman Kevin Brady

    By Tony Farkas

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Kevin Brady said the federal government is not working in the best interests of the people, especially the people of East Texas.

    In a conference call on Wednesday, the Republican from Conroe, who represents the 8th District, also said that the recent ice storm has highlighted a need for better energy plans.

    “The toughest issue is for the Legislature to face is if Texas has the right balance of power in emergencies such as this,” he said. “Obviously, the answer is no. For my part, I and the Texas Delegation sent a letter to ERCOT to get answers. We want to make sure the state doesn’t go through similar situations.”

    Brady said he introduced a bill recently to expand oil and gas development, designed to unlock state’s energy potential by giving governors power to nominate land for development, and to give states more input into plans for development on the continental shelf.

    He said this is the opposite approach that President Biden has taken, since he launched two attacks on Texas energy and jobs by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project and putting a moratorium on permits for drilling on federal land.

    “This will cost more than 1 million jobs, many here in Texas,” Brady said. “I’ve invited President Biden to come down to this region and meet face-to-face with the energy workers whose jobs he cut. He can explain to them why their families don’t matter. He can tell them where to apply for all these good-paying jobs, because they need help right now.”

    The stimulus package for the country coming to grips with the coronavirus, which passed the Senate last week and is heading to the House for more debate, neither a stimulus nor was not focused on defeating COVID, Brady said.

    “Less than a dime of every dollar goes toward COVID vaccines and defeating the virus, and that’s an insult, because that’s our top priority, and it does next to nothing to help Main Street businesses or get America back to work,” he said.

    Brady said the Democrats in Congress refuse to work with the GOP, and every amendment offered by Republicans has been voted down in favor of pork. He also said there has been absolutely no discussion about the $20-plus trillion debt and trillion-dollar deficits by the current Congress.

    “If (the stimulus bill) becomes law, Congress will have racked up 5 ½ trillion dollars in additional spending in a year, and new reports show that isn’t the full amount, because interest is rising,” he said. “We have created an unbelievable amount of debt, and … we tried to get in a bill a provision to require a balanced budget, but that was crushed pretty quickly. We need to recognize that none of this spending is free, and it will come back to bite us either in inflation, higher interest rates or higher taxes for our children and grandchildren.”

    Two other measures that the House is considering also work against the common good, Brady said: one that nationalizes state and local elections, and bans voter ID requirements and mandates ballot harvesting, among other things; and the other is one to defund the police.

    “Democrats are seeking to remove the immunity shield protecting officers from civil suits, which will drive good law enforcement officers out,” he said. “They’re seeking to nationalize the police, and I think that’s a dangerous approach.”

    Brady said the Democrats feel that no crisis should go to waste, and they see in the current discussions about police the need to expand federal control.

    Also, Brady said he was against recent Democratic pushing for a $15 minimum wage, or tying the minimum wage to the cost of living.

    “Artificially mandating the minimum wage is incredibly damaging to workers, especially young and non-skilled workers,” Brady said. “The Congressional Budget Office has said that raising it to $15 will cost as many as 2 million jobs, and will kill more jobs than it will lift people out of poverty.”

    In Texas, Brady said, a small business with 10 employees will pay an additional $150,000 in payroll a year, without any additional revenue or new customers.

    “Business won’t survive, and the ones that do will look to cut personnel or hours,” he said. “That’s not good for anybody.

    “I think we’re asking the wrong question here,” Brady said. “It shouldn’t be how high the minimum wage should be, but how do we get more workers off of it and into better paying jobs. Minimum wage is a training wage.”

  • Broadband project sees some funding

    3 NEWS Broadband GraphicGraphic courtesy of Pixabay

    By Chris Edwards

    LUFKIN – A project that has been three years in the making for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) moved from the planning stages into one signaled by a green light.

    Broadband funding for the 12-county East Texas region that DETCOG services has been high on the council’s list of priorities since 2018, and last Thursday, a chunk of a $32 million round of General Land Office funding for various projects will be allocated toward a broadband project in northern Newton County.

    “We are thrilled to learn that our grant application to construct a rural broadband network in northern Newton County has been approved,” Lonnie Hunt, DETCOG’s Executive Director, said.

    He called the Newton project’s funding award “a significant step toward realizing our ultimate goal of ensuring every home and business in Deep East Texas has reliable and affordable broadband.”

    The project claims $9,008,688 of the overall pie, and Hunt said that DETCOG is awaiting word on another larger grant application, which if approved, would enable the agency to construct a rural broadband network in all 12 member counties.

    “It’s very, very doable,” he said last week on a conference call before the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce Stakeholders and added that the larger grant application may take a couple of months.

    Hunt described the project as intimidating, even scary, when DETCOG first began the initiative in early 2018, but now it is a must. “It must be done here in Deep East Texas,” he said.

    All of the DETCOG member counties signed resolutions in support of the initiative. The Newton County-specific request came from funding after flooding in 2016. The other grant DETCOG is awaiting an answer on is from the GLO’s Hurricane Harvey recovery funds.

    Hunt acknowledged the state legislature, which has placed priority on broadband access throughout the region.

    Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) filed identical bills in the Senate and House (SB 506 and HB 1446) to address the issue by forming a state broadband office, creating a comprehensive statewide plan and identifying which areas have the greatest need.

    Hunt said that broadband access is a big project, which will take time to complete. With the Newton project, he said a contract will have to be put in place with the GLO, and then there is additional engineering work and environmental assessments before any construction can begin.

    “We will move as quickly as we can but will also take the time to make sure this project is done right. Since we began the DETCOG broadband initiative three years ago, we have sought out the best experts available to make sure we have a solid plan that will be successful. We already have our engineering and grants management teams in place and ready to start once we have a contract in place,” he said.

  • Brookshire Brothers pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccine

    BrookshiresFILE PHOTO Brookshire Brothers logo

    Special to the News-Standard

    LUFKIN — As distribution of the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine begins at a rapid pace, Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy is proud to be one of the first retailers in the nation to offer the vaccine, as it becomes available.

    To maximize access to COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a governmental partnership with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains — including those in retail and grocery chains — to further increase access to the vaccine across the country — particularly in traditionally underserved areas.

    Brookshire Brothers is honored to partner with HHS and the states of Texas and Louisiana in offering COVID-19 vaccine.

    The vaccine will be available in a phased approach, with the first doses being offered to healthcare workers and residents of long-term health care facilities, followed by essential workers and other high-risk individuals. It is expected to be available to the general public by spring or early summer of 2021 and will be administered at no cost to patients.

    At the Tuesday, Dec. 22, Trinity County Commissioners’ Court meeting, Emergency Management Coordinator Richard Steptoe said that the Brookshire’s in Trinity has secured 40 vaccinations, and the Brookshire’s in Groveton has secured 10.

    “Ensuring access and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are leveraging the existing private sector infrastructure to get safe and effective vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed into communities and into arms as quickly as possible with no out-of-pocket costs. The vast majority of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and our new agreement with pharmacy partners across America is a critical step toward making sure all Americans have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are available.”

    Many pharmacists, such as the ones who work at Brookshire Brothers, are trained to provide immunizations and are already important immunizers in their communities. Pharmacists have been heralded for playing a vital role in the public health response to COVID-19 by counseling patients and expanding access to childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. By working with these partners, the federal government will rapidly expand access to COVID-19 vaccines.

    “This is consistent with our commitment to being a trusted resource for our communities. Pharmacists and their staff are some of the most accessible healthcare professionals in the nation, and we stand ready to help increase access and convenience for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once it is approved and available to us,” said Laura Edmundson, Director of Clinical Pharmacy Programs at Brookshire Brothers.

    For more information, visit BrookshireBrothers.com/pharmacy.

  • Campbell wins elite bull riding event

    Boudreaux CampbellCOURTESY OF PBR Boudreaux Campbell

    By Chris Edwards

    KANSAS CITY, MO – For Crockett’s own Boudreaux Campbell, the hard work just keeps paying off in the form of shiny new buckles, prize monies and fame on the bull riding circuit.

    Campbell, who is the reigning PBR (Professional Bull Riders) “Rookie of the Year” just won another highwater mark in his sport: the PBR’s annual “Unleash the Beast Caterpillar Classic,” which took place Sunday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., an elite event that a PBR news release referred to winning as “the bull riding equivalent to a walk-off grand slam.”

    The 22-year-old Campbell has skyrocketed up in the world standings of bull riders from #53 to #14, trailing fellow East Texan Cooper Davis, from Jasper, out of a field of 45 top competitors. Davis placed second in Sunday’s event with 97 points, while Cambpell’s first place finish amounted to 143 points and a check for $27,636.74.

    Since beginning his PBR career in 2018, Campbell has accumulated winnings of $541K and won three PBR events. His standings in the world-ranked bull riders last year were #3, and last year he won the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Xtreme Bulls contest, among others.

    Cambpell has been active in rodeos since the age of 4, when he started mutton bustin’, and since graduating from Lovelady High School in 2017, he has made a steady climb to the top of the professional rodeo world.

    Cambpell went for a flawless three-for-three in the events that comprise the two-day “Unleash the Beast.” In round one, he had the second-best score of 88.5 when he rode Hard Shot. His results in round two put him atop the leaderboard when he made the 8 on Dr. Campbell for 86.75 points, according to the news release.

    It was his ride atop the fierce bovine Woopa that gave him 95.5 points and put him where he needed to be in the overall standings for his sport.

    Fans can watch all of the action from Unleash the Beast on RidePass, at RidePass.com or via the mobile app.

  • Career month offers alternatives

    031121 ctec 016 COEF PHOTO BY CASSIE GREGORY COCISD CTE Director Jeff Eichman, pictured right, presented Computer Science teacher Robert Mills with a gift bag from the COCISD Education Foundation for CTE Month.

    By Jessica Caso
    Special to the News-Times

    COLDSPRING — For the month of February, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD celebrated Career and Technical Education Month, which is a public awareness campaign that celebrates the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of such programs.

    In addition to celebrating CTE staff and programs, the month also brought awareness to different career paths by providing videos or in-class presentations on engineers, project developers, branches of military, law enforcement and director of academic success.

    The month began with gift bags from the Health Center of Southeast Texas and the Coldspring-Oakhurst Education Foundation. Sprinkled throughout February were sweet treats, plants and a Taco Tuesday.

    The Yokogawa Corporation ended the celebration by providing breakfast to the program’s 21 staff members and student teachers.

    Each day CTE staff were spotlighted as "CTE Staff of the Day" for their contributions to the school and community, and featured on the COCISD CTE Facebook page.

    Special thanks were given to the Healthcare Center of Southeast Texas, the COEF, and Yokogawa for their contributions to CTE this month.

    Although CTE month is over, COCISD will continue to work with partners to produce career videos throughout the school year. This will provide families access at any time to explore options with their children and know what training, certifications or education is needed for potential careers.

    The goal is to empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve personal and career success and reach their fullest potential as respectful, responsible citizens.

    Businesses, people and organizations participating in career video project include Angelina College's Director of Academic Success, Jennifer Balduaf; Solar Power Project Developer, Aaron Arriaga; Yokogawa Corporations Human Resources, Engineering and Marketing Team; U.S. Marines; Texas National Guard; software engineer at Amazon AWS, Lauren Elkins; U.S. Navy; and Westpoint Academy.

    Jessica Caso is the COCISD College, Career and Military Readiness Counselor.

  • Center of Hope helping tornado victims cope, rebuild (VIDEO)

    5247COURTESY PHOTO Home after tornado in April, 2020.

    Putting plans into action

    BY BRIAN BESCH

    An organization that has done so much for so many after tragedy struck in Onalaska and Seven Oaks wishes to give thanks for all who contributed to helping those when it was most needed.

    Center of Hope in Livingston has helped over 50 homes with damage from the tornado in April with the funds brought in from the community. Center of Hope disaster response coordinator Mike Fortney said the funds provided allowed some homes to receive extensive repair, while others required only a moderate amount.

    The task of helping in repairs is one leadership at Center of Hope expects to be complete by the end of winter. There are still five or six residences, but Fortney said some repairs to those are complete. After those have been tackled, the total will be just shy of 60 homes.

    Anything from wheelchair ramps, to roofs, decks, windows, doors, fences and walls — the many agencies partnering with the center were able to repair for those in need after the deadly storm. An emphasis was placed on homes that were either uninsured or underinsured.

    20210118 124715COURTESY PHOTO Home under reconstruction.

    Over 30 families received assistance with non-construction aid as part of Unmet Needs. This ministry helps families with needs stemming from the tornado to replace items such as appliances, furniture, vehicles or household goods. They were even able to replace a set of dentures that blew away during the tornado.

    This week, the Enterprise had the opportunity to visit two families who have received such help. Each had a tree that fell into the home, both of which were within arm’s length of where they were bracing for the storm.

    At the O’Donnell home, a roof and ramp were built, while the family worked on flooring for the house. The Flanigans, a family of seven, lost nearly everything and began building themselves. Volunteer groups traveled to help them complete a home, and installed windows and electrical. They are currently adding on another room for additional space.

    It takes a village, and Center of Hope has certainly built that. Among those helping were Economy Maintenance and Repair, Dowden Leveling and Texas Choice Home Construction. They all worked to fix dozens of homes, giving reduced prices in most cases to spread Center of Hope funds or even absorbing the costs themselves. As Covid-19 hampered the volunteer team roster and Hurricane Laura drew other teams away, the contractor partners were a large part of the process and continue to do so. 

    Church repair teams include First United Methodist Church of Onalaska, United Methodist Army of Kingwood, Lone Star Cowboy Church from Montgomery County, First Baptist Church of Livingston, Cypress UMC, and Atlanta UMC. Many homes were repaired by these teams, who volunteered time and resources to the incredible project.

    There were churches that also helped in other ways, like food and donations. Those include First United Methodist Church of Onalaska, Revival Center Church of Onalaska, and First Baptist Church of Onalaska. These groups adopted individual families, helped fix homes, ran a furniture warehouse for survivors, fed survivors and provided spiritual care for families. All ministered to families and continue to do so.

    The Orphan Grain Train out of Nebraska sent a large donation of materials totaling $35,000 that filled a warehouse. That warehouse, was arranged by Calvary Medical of Livingston, which allowed donated building materials to be stored free of charge and is still used today.

    The chambers of commerce, along with leadership from Polk County and the City of Onalaska helped tackle several challenges in response and recovery.

    All of this help was in addition to the immediate response from Center of Hope following the storm, where they set up a donation center, coordinated hot meals and volunteers, and supplied bulk food, water and materials to the impacted area.

    Fortney said, most of all, God gave his team solutions before new problems existed. Prayers were answered providing work teams, materials and funds. Teams were kept safe and what he calls "mini miracles" made the difference in getting the jobs completed.

    Trailers and vehicles were available at the right time to meet a specific need. Material donors covered the bulk of what was necessary for most projects. Teams arrived from outside of Polk County with the skills to complete jobs. A warehouse space was supplied at the right moment as donating materials were on their way, and several times donors showed up with the exact things needed at that moment.

    With the work in Onalaska nearly complete, there are limited resources still available to help survivor families. If a family has a lingering need stemming from the tornado, they may contact the Center of Hope at 935-327-7634 or visit 600 South Washington in Livingston to work with the group there.

    For those looking to help the Center of Hope, donations are always put to good use. There will also be a barbecue fundraiser at the Center of Hope Feb. 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Plates are $10, with proceeds going toward the vehicle used in disaster response.

  • Chamber 2020 award winners recognized at banquet (GALLERY)

    IMG 8027ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber Board Chairperson Carey Minter and Executive Director Liza Clark presented a Chairman’s Award of Excellence certificate to a representative of each member organization of the chamber.

    By Alton Porter

    Members of the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce held their 2021 Membership Awards Banquet, themed “A Starry Night,” Tuesday, March 23, at which several chamber members, ambassadors, sponsors and volunteers were recognized for their support and service to the organization last year.

    2020 chamber awards presented at the banquet included Volunteer of the Year to William Clark; Ambassador of the Year to Carolyn McKnight, Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation executive assistant; and Director of the Year to Carey Minter, who is chairperson of the chamber’s board of directors and Houston County Appraisal District chief appraiser.

    In addition, the chamber’s Citizen of the Year award went to Pastor Audice Leon Wallace, of Good Shepherd Fellowship Church and the Business of the Year award was presented to Good Shepherd Fellowship Church.

    New chamber members Tiffany Wiggins-Blackmon of Crockett Printing, Chip Miles of Styles by Miles and Joshua Hamelinck of Hamelinck Guns each were presented a Rising Star award, a new chamber award that recognizes outstanding businesses that joined the chamber in 2020.

    These award winners were also presented certificates of recognition Congressman Trent Ashby (R-Dist. 8) of the Texas House of Representatives.

    A Chairman’s Award of Excellence, another new chamber recognition certificate honoring chamber members for their outstanding service and contributions to the chamber, was presented to representatives of each member organization of the chamber.

    Minter also recognized former chamber board member and former Houston County Courier Managing Editor Toni Browning for the superb service and support she contributed to the chamber for many years before recently resigning from the chamber and Courier to relocate to Italy.

    The banquet also featured chamber fundraising auctions, raffle drawings, dinner prepared by chef Margaret Broughton and her staff, a video presentation about the Covid-19 pandemic and Governor Greg Abbott’s response to it, a moment of silence for persons who were impacted by the virus, an invocational prayer by Pastor Darryl Bennett of Eastgate Family Church and live music performed by East Texas artist Levi Kitchen.

    Crockett Medical Center was the event’s sponsor and the Piney Woods Leo youth organization, with advisor Ellen Brooks, served as event volunteers.

    IMG_7996
    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark presented the Volunteer of the Year award to William Clark.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber board member Leanne Henson presented the Ambassador of the Year award to Carolyn McKnight.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark presented the Director of the Year award to board of directors Chairperson Carey Minter.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber board member Greg Beaver presented a Rising Star award to Joshua Hamelinck.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber board member Greg Beaver presented a Rising Star award to Chip Miles.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber board member Andrea Hill presented the Citizen of the Year award to Pastor Audice Leon Wallace.
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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber Board Chairperson Carey Minter and Executive Director Liza Clark presented a Chairman’s Award of Excellence certificate to a representative of each member organization of…

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    ALTON PORTER | HCC Chamber board member Carole Martin, right, presented the Business of the Year award to representatives of Good Shepherd Fellowship Church. Pictured, from left to right, are Najah…

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  • Chamber hosts Christmas party for final 2020 function

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE The Polk County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Christmas party last Friday for its final quarterly meeting of 2020.

    By Jason Chlapek

    The Polk County Chamber of Commerce conducted one more quarterly get together last week.

    The Chamber hosted a Christmas party complete with hot cocoa, cookies and coffee. It was the final quarterly meeting of 2020.

    “We normally have quarterly membership luncheons and (Friday) was the Christmas party,” Chamber director Janet Wiggins said. “We had cookies, hot chocolate and coffee. This was a time to relax and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies. This is the second year that I’ve put this on.”

    Wiggins has been the Chamber director since September 2018. She enjoys hosting quarterly meetings for her members.

    “It’s great to see your members and share with them what’s going to happen for the upcoming year,” Wiggins said. “It’s fun to visit and your members are important.”

    Wiggins said the quarterly meetings in 2021 will take place in March, June, September and December. She’ll release the dates in the near future.

  • CISD trustees accept $3.2m bid for juvenile center

    CISDALTON PORTER | HCC Crockett High School junior students Katlyn Marshall, left, and Keaton Crabtree addressed CISD trustees at Monday night’s meeting asking that the wearing of facemasks not be mandatory for students as they attend this year’s prom at the school.

    By Alton Porter

    CROCKETT – Crockett ISD trustees have accepted a bid to sell the district’s Juvenile Justice Center property for a substantially higher price than they paid to purchase the facility a little over three years ago.

    The Crockett Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to accept a $3.2 million bid, submitted by Merkabah, Inc., headquartered in the Houston area, to purchase the former Crockett State School property at a meeting Monday evening.

    The school district’s officials paid $650K in cash and turned over the district’s $61,000 bus barn/transportation facility to the city of Crockett to pay for the property, located across Loop 304 from the district’s administrative office building in January 2018.

    “We did invest some money in that property,” School Board President and District 5 Trustee Dr. John Garner said.

    Merkabah’s owner has indicated that he plans to have the property developed into a residential facility, but not for the same level of students that some of the past organizations that owned the property served, CISD Superintendent John Emerich said.

    Although the campus will be a juvenile facility, plans are for it to be a place for foster care youth, the CISD superintendent said, adding, so it won’t be for kids that have been sent there because they’re in trouble.

    “It will be much different,” Emerich said. “They (Merkabah employees) take care of the education of their students, so it won’t be something where we’re constantly (having) kids coming to our school. That will not be the case. It will not be a burden on the school, which has been something that has happened here in the past.”

    Garner said the Merkabah company and its owner were vetted quite extensively, and it was determined that they will be good owners and developers of the property.

    The motion that passed, approving and accepting Merkabah’s bid, after the trustees reconvened the open, public part of the meeting following an executive session, was made by Board Secretary and District 4 Trustee Karen Norman and seconded by District 1 Trustee Ansel Bradshaw.

    “I’d like each one of us to consider the transition that will have to take place and how that will affect our students’ positivity by selling this property,” said District 2 Trustee Stephen Tuggle. “It is an asset, but we have an investment that we are, I guess, cashing in, for lack of a better word. And we also have an opportunity to use those funds for the betterment of our students here in Crockett High School.”

    “I think it is worthy to note that this bid and the proposed action that will take place there is something that will benefit not just the school district but the entire community with jobs coming to the area,” Emerich said. “And I think this is a win-win all the way around.”

    “I feel that all the board members understand the history and the heritage that property has brought in this community,” said Garner. “We take this action very seriously. It’s been considered extensively. We feel that, as the bid process is ongoing, it’s an opportunity, as Mr. Tuggle said, not only for the district but for the Crockett community, the company of value, and very worthy of our consideration.

    “Any action that’s taken regarding the property is done after due diligence and our effort to make the best use of this entrusted property for the district as well as the whole community. We feel like that’s what will occur if this purchase proceeds.”

    Emerich said, “There are some things in the agreement that we’re going to get some time to continue using … after the sale goes through to give us time to build new facilities.”

    He noted that he visited some of the other facilities that belong to the Merkabah owner and he feels “very comfortable about this gentleman and his operation (and) what they were doing.

    “This company has some big plans to do a lot of additional building. When everything is up and going, it’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the Crockett community.”

    “It will help infuse additional revenue and business activity,” Garner added. “That’s one of our main goals.”

    Mask resolution adopted

    CISD trustees voted to adopt a resolution regarding the wearing of face coverings by students and employees at the district’s schools.

    In offering the motion to adopt the resolution, Bradshaw read a statement, saying, “Masks are recommended for all staff and students. Temperature checks will be continued to be done on all campuses for staff and students. And any visitor visiting Crockett Independent School District during instructional time are required to wear facemasks while on district property.”

    During public comments, Crockett High School junior’s Katlyn Marshall and Keaton Crabtree, daughter of District 6 Trustee Josh Crabtree, addressed the trustees and asked that it not be mandatory for students to wear facemasks at this year’s prom. They requested that wearing facemasks to the event be optional.

    In his monthly report to the trustees, Emerich noted that they will have a special meeting Monday, May 10, beginning at 5:45 p.m., to canvass the results of the district’s trustee election. Emerich reported that 136 voters had cast ballots early—103 in person and 33 by mail—in the election as of Monday evening. Early voting ended Tuesday; election day is this coming Saturday, May 1.

    Seeking election to the Super District 7 position are Johnny Taylor, who has been employed 30-plus years as a school administrator, teacher and coach, and Gerald Colter, a Crockett High School graduate, Texas Department of Transportation retiree and current part-time employee of the city of Crockett.

    The trustees voted to approve personnel recommendations submitted by Emerich and his staff: the hiring, resignation and reassignment of district employees. Among those employed is Judy Leediker, who was rehired to fill the position of Crockett Junior High School principal.

    In a district continuing education credit board training report, Rhonda Kendrick, CISD executive secretary and human resources director, noted that all of the trustees are in compliance with the Texas Association of School Boards training requirements.

    Among items requiring action, the trustees approved changing a district’s previously scheduled half day of school from Sept. 24, the previously scheduled homecoming day, to Oct. 8, the rescheduled homecoming day, on the district’s 2021-22 school calendar.

    In addition, the board members approved the district’s annual Allotment and TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) Certification for the 2021-2022 school year and approved continuation of a legal services agreement with Powell Law Group, LLP, the district’s legal counsel firm.

  • City receives good audit, conducts public hearings

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Ricardo Perez (left) answers a question by Livingston alderman Dr. Ray Luna (right) regarding Perez’s property during last Tuesday’s city council meeting.

    By Jason Chlapek

    A Livingston home owner will be given time to formulate a plan to save his home.

    Ricardo Perez, whose family has owned a home on South Washington in Livingston for nearly 40 years, has until March 9 to come up with a plan to salvage the unsafe or dilapidated property. There are certain criteria Perez must follow to convince Livingston city council aldermen that his home is worth saving.

    “Mr. Perez will be given until our next council meeting to find a contractor to repair the home and provide us with a plan on how much the repairs will cost and when they will be complete,” Livingston city manager Bill Wiggins said. “We don’t want to tear down other people’s property. We want to give them the opportunity to salvage it.”

    Perez was present at last Tuesday’s monthly city council meeting and presented his case as to why he believes he can save his home, which has been vacant since 2006. The public hearing, which was nearly an hour long, was one of two on the evening.

    The first public hearing involved the abandoned motel that once served as the Holiday Inn, Ramada Inn, Knights Inn or Royal Inn. The building, which has been vacant since December 2011, was ordered for demolition by the city back in October.

    The owner of the property, Indira Patel, has taken action by hiring a firm to proceed with the building’s demolition. The demolition process is to begin this week, weather permitting.

    The city also received a positive audit for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Kevin Bienvenu and Steve Palmerton of Harper and Pearson Company presented the audit.

    “I thank the Good Lord for the good audit,” Wiggins said. “We were one of a few cities who actually had a sales tax increase in spite of Covid-19.”

    The city also approved the final payment to Maguire Iron, Inc., who constructed two elevated water storage tanks. The payment is in the amount of $129,108.

    The city also approved a public hearing for next month’s meeting on an unsafe or dilapidated property located on West Church Street, and Wiggins gave the city manager’s report. Wiggins said that ground work has begun for Chick-Fil-A, construction has started on Starbucks, and permits have been issued for Blue Wave Car Wash, Panda Express and T-Mobile.

    The next city council meeting takes place Tuesday, March 9, at 5 p.m. at Livingston city hall.

  • City receives highest audit opinion

    Crockett City council 042721ALTON PORTER | HCC Molly Abele, of Axley & Rode, announced that Crockett city officials were issued an unmodified audit opinion and presented highlights of the city’s 2020 audit report to city councilmembers at a meeting Monday.

    By Alton Porter

    CROCKETT – Crockett city officials have again received the highest audit opinion an accounting and auditing firm can issue to them.

    The city officials were recently issued an unmodified opinion by the Axley & Rode, LLP, certified public accounting firm for their financial performance during fiscal year 2020, as has been so the past several years.

    They were informed of the opinion by Molly Abele, an Axley & Rode certified public accountant and audit partner, who presented the city’s previous year audit report to members of the city council Monday evening.

    “Management is responsible for the presentation and of these financial statements,” said Abele. “And our responsibility is to issue an opinion on them. We are issuing an unmodified opinion, which is the highest opinion we can give. It states that everything here is presented fairly in all material respects.”

    Presenting some of the report highlights to the councilmembers, Abele first referred to a part of the report that focused on “governmental activities, which is your general fund, service fund and grant fund; and your business type activities is your water and sewer,” she said.

    “As far as your total assets for the current year compared to last year, they are up just approximately over $3 million. The majority of that, between both your general activities and the business type activities, is your construction you have going on. And most of that is around $4 million as well.”

    Total liabilities citywide was up approximately $2.4 million, Abele said, adding, “You’re drawing down on that USDA loan and you’re down to about $2.5 million. So, that was the majority of the increase of the total liabilities there.

    “Overall, your total net position, including those assets and that debt that you acquired is just over that $10 million. You can see that the majority of that is in your capital assets for the city. So, over 60% of that $10 million is your capital assets.”

    Referring to activity for the general fund, total revenue in 2020 was pretty comparable to that in the previous year—nothing unusual there, Abele said. “Your expenditures increased approximately $200,000. The majority of that was the increase in payroll as well as an increase in general administration and police. Most of those were payroll.

    “Your overall expenditures for the general fund were $5.3 million…, and your net increase in the general fund was just over $76,000.”

    Concerning the city’s general fund budget, which is how officials operate the city, Abele said, “You were under budget on your revenues just slightly, but you were (also) under on your expenses about $186,000 for the year.

    “So, you did a very good job of staying within your budget for the year. With the increase in your sale of assets, which is not necessarily a budgeted item, you had an overall change from where you expected to be which was a net loss of $75,000 to a net increase of $76,000. So, you had a good year for what 2020 was.”

    Referring to a slight change in the 2020 audit report, Abele said, stemming from federal money and grants, the city received over $750,000 in federal revenue for the year. “We had to come in and do what’s called a compliance audit,” she said.

    “So, we picked some of those programs. We go in-depth in some of that detail and we audit that particular program. The largest one that we reviewed this year, of course, was the USDA loan. “We have no issues or compliance findings with that to report to you, so everything was working well with that grant.”

    In other business, the councilmembers voted to adopt a resolution denying a distribution cost recovery factor rate request recently made by Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC, and that addresses other related matters.

    “Oncor is submitting a request to recover a little over $97 million in their distribution cost for this past winter storm,” said City Administrator John Angerstein, noting that had the councilmembers not approved the resolution or responded to Oncor’s request, city officials would automatically have had to participate in the company’s distribution cost increases for the city of Crockett.

    “By doing this (adopting the resolution), we push it (Oncor’s request) back. (Now) they (Oncor executives have to go through the Public Utility Commission proceedings and justify the cost and their expenses and also retain a special counsel that they will have to pay for that represents the city to help negotiate those policies to spread it out over a longer period of time and/or argue some of those costs, whether they were necessarily winter-related damages,” Angerstein said. “So, it makes them go through a little more checks and balances before they increase the electricity rates in our city.”

    During the public comments part of the meeting, Mayor Dr. Ianthia Fisher noted that early voting began Monday and continues through next Tuesday for the city’s May 1 election. Precincts 1 and 2 council member seats are up for election.

  • City sets fireworks date

    trinity txFILE PHOTO Trinity Texas

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — July 3, a Saturday, will be the day for Trinity’s Fourth of July celebration.

    The Trinity City Council approved the Saturday date at its regular meeting on Thursday.

    Based on Mayor Wayne Huffman’s recommendation, the council agreed that should weather cancel the show, it will be done the following Saturday, July 10.

    The council also approved expenditures recommended by the Trinity Economic and Industrial Development Corp., part of which will benefit the holiday display.

    TEIDC President Neal Smith said the board approved the payment of $9,300 for the fireworks display.

    Additionally, TEIDC will pay the city’s match portion of $75,000 for a grant that will allow the city to install sidewalks on city streets.

    Smith also told council members that the industrial park it purchased last year has billboards, which should be paying some sort of lease to the city. However, he is not aware of any such payments made as of yet.

    In other business, the city:

    •turned in signed contracts with the Trinity River Authority, to ensure the city’s water supply for about 30 years. In addition, Glendale and Trinity Rural municipalities have expressed interest in buying water from Trinity, and contracts will be available at the next meeting; and

    •Set May 1 as the date for the city election.

  • CMA needs to remember legends

    Country Music Stock Image 111920Stock photo courtesy of Pixabay

    By Chris Edwards

    There used to be this thing called country music, actually it was an artform.

    Under its big umbrella, there existed a long, storied history of great artists and entertainers; everyone from pioneers like The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie to early sensations like the great Hank Williams, Bob Wills and George Jones to Texan iconoclasts like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings, have all blazed their own respective trails while remaining true to the sake of the song. They all wrote and sang songs about the common man’s trials and tribulations; the joy and the pain came through clear in great, universal melodies and lyrics.

    As with any artform that becomes commercialized, an organization popped up dedicated to its welfare.

    Formed in 1958, the Country Music Association formed in a Miami hotel room with a small group of industry folks gathering to start an organization to promote and further the reach of country music.

    Last week, the CMA hosted its annual parade of accolades, and although the proceedings were conducted in a different way than they had been in the past, thanks to the pandemic, the level of disrespect was high.

    Headlines popped up the next day that spoke to that level of disrespect, and with good reason. Jason Isbell, whose mainstream popularity is a big win for real, heartfelt art, along with his lovely wife Amanda Shires, severed ties with the CMA due to the organization’s refusal to acknowledge the passing of three giants of country music: John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver.

    There were tributes paid throughout the show to other titans of the genre, such as Charlie Daniels and Joe Diffie, but to slight Prine, Walker and Shaver is unconscionable.

    I didn’t watch the broadcast as it aired, save for a little bit of Luke Combs performing a song that sounded to me like a rip-off of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road,” but I watched many of the tributes and talked-about moments after the fact online. Now I enjoy Joe Diffie as much as the next guy, and his passing from the coronavirus (followed closely by Prine) was tragic and served as a wake-up call to many about the pandemic, but no way is Diffie a more influential artist than those other three.

    The endless parade of legends passing grew by another a couple of days following the CMA Awards, when Texas legend (and a man I’m proud to call my friend) Doug Supernaw died. Supe was far more commercially successful in his heyday than Prine, Walker or Shaver, but I doubt that even he would have merited a mention in tribute from the CMA had he passed prior to the broadcast.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when an organization that claims it is dedicated to country music cannot even mention Jerry Jeff, the man who wrote “Mr. Bojangles,” one of the most classic, beloved songs in the American songbook. The mentality seems to be “let’s ignore legit legends and focus on Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean,” and the ridiculous, artless cliches of what “country music” is through a modern lens.

    There’s at least some positivity to be found with Combs, who won a wheelbarrow load of hardware from the CMA. Aside from what sounds to me to be a siren call to Steve Earle’s lawyers, Combs at least sounds real. His lyrics strike me as inane twaddle, but he comes across as one of the few artists on what is called country radio nowadays who could actually convincingly sing a Hank, Lefty or Gary Stewart tune.

    So much of what is marketed as country music today seems indicative of a problem our culture has, by and large. So much of the buying power is given to young people, and there seems to be a devaluing of things deemed “obsolete.” It’s all about what is new, sleek and shiny, and marketing what the genre has become as a lifestyle signifier, instead of something rooted in reality.

    If recent events have shown me anything, it’s that it is an absolutely wonderful thing to be able to choose one’s own set of facts tailored to one’s preferred reality. There’s some solace in that, and hey, anything is possible in this accursed year.

    In my preferred reality, these late, great artists mentioned in this column, along with so many others, are still able to sing for us. Also, in that alternate reality, the public still prefers real, honest expressions. Ah well, as long as vinyl is still being pressed and my turntable needle holds up, they’ll all be alive in my house.

  • COCISD Supt steps down

    COCISD Superintendent Dr. Leland R. MooreCOURTESY PHOTO COCISD Superintendent Dr. Leland Moore will resign from his post effective Dec. 31, 2020.

    Special to the News-Times

    Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD will be looking for a new leader.

    After serving as COCISD superintendent for nearly five years, Dr. Leland Moore has tendered his resignation, effective Dec. 31. Moore’s resignation was accepted by the board at the December meeting, which took place during the COCISD Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, at the Jones Auditorium.

    “As I begin a new season in my life, I am ready to pursue new opportunities. I have given five years of service to the COCISD and every day of that time has been rewarding for me. My heart tells me it’s time for a change,” wrote Moore in a message to staff. “I have been privileged to serve with a great team of educators and staff who are loyal and dedicated to the children of the COCISD. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to have worked with trustees who are on a vibrant and exciting mission.”

    The Board of Trustees held its regular December meeting a week earlier than usual due to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

    After formally accepting Moore’s resignation, the board approved the appointment of education consultant and former San Augustine superintendent Walter Key to serve as interim superintendent. Also approved was the engagement of Haglund Law Firm, P.C. to perform the superintendent search.

    In other business, the meeting opened with a public hearing to present the 2019-20 Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR). Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Vikki Curry gave the presentation, explaining that due to the TEA response to COVID-19, the report was essentially the same as the previous year. There were no public comments. The TAPR may be viewed on the district website at cocisd.org > District > Accountability.

    Under New Business, the board discussed and approved the following:

    Renewal of a legal services agreement with Walsh, Gallegos, Trevino, Russo & Kyle P.C. 

    Extension of additional COVID-related leave to COCISD employees. 

    Adoption of a formal board resolution urging TEA to cancel the STAAR tests for the 2020-21 school year.

    A Verizon operation connectivity contract.

    The next regular meeting of the COCISD Board of Trustees will be held at the Jones Auditorium on Monday, Jan. 25, at 6:30 p.m.

  • Colmesneil suspends in-person learning

    Remote Learning graphicFILE PHOTO Remote Learning graphic

    By Chris Edwards

    COLMESNEIL – As of Monday, Colmesneil ISD will forgo all in-person learning until Jan. 5 of 2021.

    The announcement was issued on Friday by Superintendent Eldon Franco, who cited potential exposures to COVID-19 since Thanksgiving break. “The cases on campus have been very minimal and have not affected large numbers. Regardless, the process that we must follow, as dictated by state and local governments, creates a great deal of worry and stress for those both directly and indirectly involved,” Franco wrote in a letter addressed to parents and community members on Friday, Dec. 11.

    Franco said that the number of cases has surged in the community, and attributed it to outside sources, and that it was expected to occur due to holiday gatherings.

    At present, the COVID numbers, countywide, include 49 active residents who have tested positive from the PCR testing and 86 active tests from the rapid, or quick testing.

    In going to the remote mode of learning, all CISD students will still be expected to participate in remote learning for the remainder of the semester by using district-provided or personal devices to access instruction.

    Students are also expected to check-in with teachers each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, and breakfast and lunch will continue to be provided by the CISD cafeteria for pick-up from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    “Our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy and continue the educational process,” Franco said.

    With the announcement that CISD will suspend its in-person learning, Colmesneil eatery The Rustic Grill announced that it will offer its facility and Wi-Fi capabilities to anyone in need. “We would like to help out. If you don’t have Wi-Fi at home to do virtual school please don’t hesitate to come here and do your work,” a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page stated.

    The Rustic Grill is typically closed on Mondays but will open its doors for anyone who needs to access the restaurant’s Wi-Fi to do schoolwork.