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Commissioners continue to iron out budget details

By Chris Edwards

GROVETON – Trinity County Commissioners continued to discuss the proposed county budget for fiscal year 2018 at the regular meeting of the Commissioners' Court on Monday, September 11.

Before launching a budget workshop during the meeting, the officials present discussed a few changes made to the proposed budget and approved the order of salaries for elected officials in the county.

County Auditor Bonnie Kennedy called to the commissioners' attention some revisions made to the budget due to calculating errors on a previous draft, errors which had since been corrected. Kennedy also noted that in the current draft of the budget, monies had been transferred from the general fund into the individual precincts in order to offset lost income from different sources, such as the Forest Service funds.

In other business on the court's agenda, Kennedy reported on the resignation of assistant auditor Dan Fuller. Following Fuller's departure, Kennedy noted that part-time accounts payable employee Deanna Weathers will be re-classified as a part-time assistant auditor.

Sheriff Woody Wallace gave his report to the court, and made note of his department's monthly breakfast, which is held on the first Monday of each month in the Trinity County Courtroom Annex, and is held on a donation basis for the meal. Sheriff Wallace told the court that the September breakfast netted around $316 to go toward the Sheriff's Department Belt Buckle Bash Program.

Sheriff Wallace brought a deal before the court to consider, the possible purchase of a bus from Clifton Chevrolet in Corrigan. Sheriff Wallace noted that the van used currently by his department has over 200,000 miles on it, and does not have near the passenger capacity of the bus, which has a 28-person capacity. The bus is being sold at a price of $12,500, and Sheriff Wallace asked the commissioners to consider its purchase. He noted that although he hasn't encountered any problems yet with the van, problems could arise in the near future due to its high mileage.

Several items on the commissioners' agenda dealt with roads within the county, matters that have arisen due to the 911 addressing protocols. Commissioners discussed, and approved the removal of Spring Road in Precinct #4 from the 911 addressing map. The road was determined to be a private road, and not maintained by the county. According to Precinct #4 Commissioner Jimmy Brown, there are no characteristics that actually define it as an actual road (e.g. a sign).

Public hearings were conducted to change the name of a road in Precinct #2; to correct an error in the county road map pertaining to a road in Precinct #1, and to correct the spelling of Sulfur Creek Road. As to the matter of the road in Precinct #2, a segment of Lakeway Drive in the Westwood Shores subdivision was changed to Westpoint Drive in order to comply with the 911 addressing protocols.

The hearing over the road in Precinct #1 was to correct an error on the county road map to confirm that Cook Road has been and is a county-maintained road, and to change the name of the road to Bill Cook Lane. Precinct #1 Commissioner Grover "Tiger" Worsham noted that this was necessary because of the name, that there is already a Cook Road elsewhere in the county. The change went approved with a motion from Commissioner Worsham and a second by Precinct #3 Commissioner Neal Smith.

No action was taken on the last hearing dealing with roads on the agenda. The hearing was intended to correct the spelling of Sulfur Creek Road to "Sulphur Creek Road" as well as a change of spelling for Old Sulfur School Road to "Old Sulphur School Road." Some debate ensued over the spelling variances and what was an acceptable spelling for the roads, but ultimately no action was taken.

Another public hearing was set for the Commissioners' Court meeting of Monday, October 10, to change the name of Kennedy Boulevard in Precinct #3 to Mattie Thelma Rosser Road.

Other business
Commissioners decided to pass on an item that involved Trinity County becoming a member of TEX-21, a collective, grassroots effort to improve the transportation infrastructure in Texas and Oklahoma. Judge Doug Page said that more information was needed on the organization, and whether or not it would be of any benefit to the county.

Centerville ISD hold successful collection drive

Community-Response

When devastation hits, the true spirit of humanity responds and in our small part of Trinity County the response was heartwarming to witness. Hurricane Harvey's destruction prompted the members of the Centerville ISD to announce a collection drive. When the call went out for help the community response was tremendous. Donations came in from local churches, the Apple Springs FFA, parents, grandparents and the Centerville staff and students. CISD would like to extend our appreciation for the overwhelming support that we have seen from our extraordinary community.

From the Judge’s Desk

By Doug Page, Trinity County Judge

Hello Everyone,

Well here we are moving into September. It doesn't seem as though we should be almost into the Fall season. I know closing out the month of August several folks in the County were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Let's talk about that a little in my first block...

Hurricane Harvey – This will be a storm that goes down as being the most costly in United States history. On the local level Trinity County was not impacted to near the severity of counties just South of us. We did open a shelter for a brief period of time to house residents of the Sportsmen Oaks subdivision. With that being said, I would like to thank all who helped with the shelter and the gathering of donated items to assist flood victims. It warms my heart to see the community come together to help those in need.

Emergency Management – The Trinity County Emergency Management Office was in full activation during the torrential rains that Trinity County received over the last week. I filed a disaster declaration with the State of Texas Monday morning as the weather worsened. Prior to that all emergency management procedures were already in place and the process worked like a well oiled machine. The Emergency Management Coordinator is a vital job within the County and often no one knows what he is doing behind the scenes.

Trinity County Budget – We are nearing the finish line on putting together a budget to fund the 2018 fiscal year. It has been a tough process to make up for lost funds from the US Forest Service through the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Act. I would ask each of you if you have a concern to please take part in the public hearing process as we move towards it. The postings will be in the newspaper for the budget and setting a tax rate to fund the budget.
I want to close by honoring our first responders that are still working tirelessly because of what Hurricane Harvey has left behind. From the local folks to the men and women who have traveled in from across the nation. John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Until next time, God Bless and be safe
Trinity County Judge
Doug Page

Retired school personnel invited to meeting to learn about TRS Care

Retired teachers and school personnel, both members and nonmembers, are invited to attend a meeting of the Trinity County Retired Teachers Association on Tuesday, September 12, at Romo's Restaurant in Trinity.

The meeting will begin at 12:30; arrive by 12:00 if you would like to order lunch and share in a time of fellowship. Romo's is located on Hwy. 19 north of Trinity, about 2 miles from the traffic light on the right side of Hwy. 19/ Hwy. 94.

All TRS annuitants are urged to attend and any annuitant's spouse who is on TRS Care is also encouraged to be there because of possible large premium increases.
Information is vital to making good decisions and this is an excellent opportunity to learn and ask questions about TRS Care's new look.

The speaker for this meeting will be Dr. James Warner, District 6 Legislative Chairman. He is a well informed and highly motivated speaker. Dr. Warner has served school districts as a teacher, coach, activities director, assistant superintendent, superintendent and on the board of education. His career includes service in Baytown, Beaumont, Port Neches and Jasper. He plans to review what was accomplished in both regular and special sessions of the legislature, what the retired teacher's health plan looks like now and what TRTA's priorities will be going forward to the 86th session in 2019.

This will be valuable information for retired school personnel.

Eric Hunt, Senior District Manager for Northeast Houston Division of Association Member Benefits Advisors will also be in attendance to share possible alternative medical coverage. He has done a great deal of research on the health care system. No one is being advised to change coverage; that decision is for the TRS annuitant to make for themselves. Retirees will be forced to make decisions soon and this is an opportunity to learn what is available to TRTA members.

Texas Retired Teachers Association desires to be the voice of all retired school personnel. Higher membership numbers mean a louder voice in Austin. If a retired teacher or any retired school employee would like to add their voice by becoming a member of TRTA and the Trinity County Unit, you will have an opportunity at this meeting.

Former County Judge Evans feted with plaque, ceremony

By Dr. Sharon Schuetz

Former Trinity County Judge Mark Evans, flanked by his daughters Avery and Taylor, was honored last Tuesday with a plaque to celebrate his many years of service to the county and his efforts in getting the courthouse restoration off the ground. A large crowd came out to help Evans celebrate this honor. The festivities included a sheet cake which bore the image of the iconic and beloved courthouse. (Marlena Stubblefield photo)Former Trinity County Judge Mark Evans, flanked by his daughters Avery and Taylor, was honored last Tuesday with a plaque to celebrate his many years of service to the county and his efforts in getting the courthouse restoration off the ground. A large crowd came out to help Evans celebrate this honor. The festivities included a sheet cake which bore the image of the iconic and beloved courthouse. (Marlena Stubblefield photo)Trinity County residents and officials gathered in Groveton on Tuesday, August 15, to honor Judge Mark Evans for his work in obtaining funds, and leading the task of repairing and renovating the courthouse during his tenure as Trinity County Judge.

The county hung a plaque in the main entrance where it can be seen by all who enter.

Evans was in the courthouse in the mid-'90s when he saw water running from the drop-ceiling.
This made him notice how much the courthouse had run down in its nearly one-hundred- year history. He compared the deteriorating courthouse to a sugar cube, saying, "It was like a sugar cube that has been saturated with water. It still looks good and holds its shape, but if you touch it, it crumbles."

In 1995 inmates from Eastham Prison were painting the courthouse where they discovered the large, front double doors had a copper plating covered by layers of old paint. The road to recovering the courthouse's original beauty had begun.

The first thing necessary was funding for the project. The process was started by hiring Michael Gaertner Architects in 1999 to apply for a grant. There would be many challenges before it was approved, but in 2004 a $273,000 Planning Grant was made available, helping to complete construction documents for the restoration. In 2006, a fire in the County Clerk's office nearly destroyed the building and awakened the community interest and created support for upgrading the courthouse.

After the grant was awarded in 2007, Judge Evans and the Commissioners Court issued $1.6 million in Certificates of Obligation covering the 20 percent match required by the county.

Evans appointed the Trinity County Historical Commission Chair Susanne Waller, along with County Commissioner Jannette Hortman, to manage the county's interests during the construction meetings and the travel to Austin to see the renovation through. Both women were instrumental in the successful completion of the project. Hortman continued working on it even after she left office.

The Texas Historical Commission reported that 'The project fully restored the courthouse to its 1914 appearance.

The exterior masonry was cleaned, patched and repainted. The sheet metal cornices and roof balustrades were far more deteriorated thanoriginally estimated, resulting in complete replacement of both the decorative elements and the wood support outriggers. A new roof was added. Original wood sash and steel frame windows were restored, including wood casement windows on the Second Floor that had previously been replaced."

Evans introduced his family to the crowd and acknowledged the contribution of those who held office and supported the project during the years of renovation from 1998-2011.

Tiger Worsham emceed the event where they served coffee and cake with a picture of
the courthouse, made from frosting drawn on top, after the presentation.

TxDOT warns drivers to proceed with caution as school year begins

As the new school year begins, TxDOT is reminding drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to exercise caution in and around school zones and school buses.

Schools in the nine-county Lufkin District are set to begin in coming days and the safety of all school children and motorists is important. Driver inattention could cause an unsafe condition on the roadway, whether it involves pedestrians, those on bicycles or school buses.
In 2015, there were 683 vehicle crashes in Texas school zones.

"We are urging all motorists to pay attention and follow the law as they drive near school zones and school buses," said Rhonda Oaks, Lufkin District public information officer. Drivers should slow down and pay close attention when entering a school zone."

Safety tips for drivers to remember include:
•Obey the speed limit in school zones. Violators face fines up to $200.
• Cell phone use is unlawful in an active school zone and violators face fines up to $200.
• Drop off and pick up children in designated areas, not in the street.
• Be alert to children who might dart across a street or in between vehicles to and from school.
Safety tips for pedestrians include:
• Parents and children walking to school should be alert and cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks.
• Always walk on sidewalks if they are available.
• Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Never assume the driver sees you.