Services Held For Kennard Teenager

By Lynda Jones, Editor-in-Chief

Sabrina Louise ParkerSabrina Louise ParkerThe Kennard community is grieving over the tragic loss of Sabrina Louise Parker, 16, of Kennard.

Parker lost her life Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 5 in a one-vehicle accident on FM 2781 in Houston County.

Funeral services for the vibrant teenager were held Friday, Aug. 8 at Kennard Baptist Church.

Parker was a popular Kennard High School student, very active in the Kennard FFA Chapter and Beta Club.
She also enjoyed playing on the school volleyball and softball teams.

Among her survivors are her father Randall Parker and wife Rebecca, both of Kennard; and her mother, Monica Overly and fiancée John Williams, both of Stephenville. (See official obituary on Page 4.)

The fatal crash is being investigated by Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers.

According to DPS officials, the preliminary crash investigation "indicates that a 1998 Honda Accord was traveling southbound on FM 2781 when the vehicle drove off of the right side of the roadway, over corrected to the left, entered a side skid and subsequently flipped and struck a tree."

Parker was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Clyde Black.

Hammonds Demonstrates, Explains New Communication System For Local VFDs

Crockett Fire Chief John Angerstein and Austonio Fire Chief Russell Jenkins are pictured with HCSO Dispatch Supervisor at the Houston County Emergency Management meeting on July 31. (Photo by Sherry Driskell)Crockett Fire Chief John Angerstein and Austonio Fire Chief Russell Jenkins are pictured with HCSO Dispatch Supervisor at the Houston County Emergency Management meeting on July 31. (Photo by Sherry Driskell)

By Sherry Driskell, Reporter

Susie Hammonds, Houston County Sheriff's Office dispatcher supervisor was recognized at the Houston County Emergency Management meeting Thursday, July 31.

Hammonds thanked Chief John Angerstein of the Crockett Fire Department and Chief Russell Jenkins of the Austonio Volunteer Fire Department for facilitating a grant from Texas Forest Service to go to Texas A&M of College Station for the Telecom I & II class.

The Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) was purchased by the Houston County Commisioners Court with a grant through the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG). The grant funds are a result of the fees from cell phones and home phones in the county.

A Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) grant paid for update to the system which makes it free for the fire departments, county and city.

Hammonds said, "After going to this class my passion is to train all of the dispatchers to become better at their job for the Houston County Firefighters."

The dispatchers are now able to use the CAD system to send text messages to all cell phones of the volunteers of a fire department whenever a 911 call comes in. The information on these text messages will have address, location, time and brief description of the call.

If the department has 20 cell numbers on call list the twenty will receive the text message immediately. They will still be receiving calls on pagers with updates during the call.

The CAD will allow the dispatchers to have codes for various types of calls that are common for fire departments in the county, such as fire alarm, fire grass, fire structure, fire vehicle and fire other. "Fire Other" will be for calls of power lines down, tree on road, traffic control anything that a fire department would normally have.

If a structure fire call comes in to dispatch, a text goes out to the fire department the system will automatically text out all fire departments whose boundaries touch that department.

If department needs mutual aide on a grass fire and issues an update of "fire running to house", the dispatcher hits call type, address and time and the departments whose area touches the department on the call will receive a text.

Texted messages were sent to various departments cell phones the past week for fire calls. This system will also let each fire department be able to get a run sheet of the years run calls.

Another aspect of helping dispatchers and fire departments is a list of each apparatus and what the capacity of gallons available, brush truck, jaws of life, first responders and special skills. The reason for this is if a call comes in for high angle rescue the dispatcher can type in the information and it will show which department has that type of equipment and can text them to the location.

If a medical call comes in and it coded medical CAD shows each department that has a first responder unit and can send a text/page to whoever is closest demographically. As the dispatchers and fire departments become more familiar and technology progresses the system will continue to become vital to the community.

Represented fire departments at the meeting were Austonio, Belott, Crockett, Grapeland, Latexo and Lovelady.

CPD Trains For Active Shooter Scenarios

CPD Trains

The entire Crockett Police Department staff went through "Active Shooter" training this past week in Lufkin. Lufkin Police Asst. Chief David Thomas was one of the main instructors. "We appreciate him (Thomas) including us in this training. We hope we never have an active shooter at a workplace or school in Crockett or Houston County, but if we do we will be trained to respond quickly and stop the threat," Crockett Police Chief David Cross said. This dynamic course of instruction is designed to prepare the first responder to isolate, distract and neutralize an active shooter. The course curriculum includes weapon manipulation, threshold evaluation, concepts and principles of team movement (including solo officer strategies) and various techniques. (Courtesy Photo)

Eat And SHARE Week For School Supplies

The Houston County SHARE School Supplies Drive continues to grow. This year, 461 students in all six school districts in Houston County will receive a jump start to school with the gift of school supplies. This gift is made possible by the generosity of businesses and individuals in Houston County who are joining the SHARE School Supplies Drive.

This coming week has been named "Eat and Share Week". Several restaurants in Crockett have generously offered to donate a part of each meal purchased for the S.H.A.R.E. School Supplies Drive.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, What-A-Burger will donate 10% of their sales; on Sunday, Aug. 10, Doc's Barbeque will donate 10% of their sales; on Monday, Aug. 11 both Texas Burger and Subway will donate $1 for each meal purchased if the purchaser mentions SHARE School Supplies Drive.

If you wish to make a donation to help purchase school supplies for children of Houston County, eat out this weekend at one of these establishments or send your contribution to Houston County S.H.A.R.E., P. O. Box 1121, Crockett, TX 75835.

Many families who have children who attend school in one of the six school districts in Houston County are challenged to be able to provide the needed school supplies.

Through the generosity of several individuals and businesses, last year SHARE was able to provide school supplies for 332 children who were recognized by school officials as eligible for this program.

In addition to the SHARE project, Community Care Center of Crockett, Whitehall, and Winfield will give away school supplies to the kids of Houston County on Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Winfield Rehab and Nursing.

If you would like to donate school supplies and help us support the kids of Houston County please bring the items to Winfield or call Megan Allison at 936-204-9228 for more information.

County Process For Tourism Funds Application, Qualifications Clarified

By Sherry Driskell, Reporter

The Houston County Commissioners Court met on Tuesday, July 22, and during this meeting on the agenda was the HOT (Hotel Occupancy Tax) with three applicants requesting funds.

The process of applying for these funds are: The entity fills out a request form on which the name of the organization, person representing the organization, phone number, address, non-profit with tax identification number, website, email address, name and date of the event, what funds are being used to benefit the organization, approximately how many participants the event will project, and amount of money with reason for monies expenditures. hotel, bed and breakfast, and lodging facilities.

The members are East Texas Rentals, Economy Inn, Embers Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Knight's Inn, Salmon Lake Park, and Warfield House and each owner gets one vote per business.

A meeting is set with advisory board to look at each applicant to decide which applicant gets funds per state law. If there isn't enough members present for a quorum the commissioner makes the final decision on each applicant to be presented to the commissioners court.

By State law (Tax CODE 352), The County of Houston collects a Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) from hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other lodging facilities which may be used only to directly promote tourism and the hotel and convention industry including:
• Promotions of the Arts that Directly Promote Tourism and the Hotel and Convention Industry: the encouragement, promotion, improvement and application of the arts that can be shown to have some direct impact on tourism and the hotel/convention industry. All forms of art include instrumental and vocal music, dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture, design and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, motion picture, radio, television, tape and sound recording, and other arts related to the presentation, performance execution and exhibition of these major art forms will be considered.

• Historical Restoration and Preservation Activities that Directly Promote Tourism and the hotel and Convention Industry: historical restoration and preservation projects or activities or advertising and conducting solicitation and promotional tourists and convention delegates to visit preserved historic or museums.

Under these guidelines of the state law, the Houston County Commissioners Court denied HOT funds to the Houston County Museum. Dorothy Harrison, president of the museum board, submitted an application to the commissioners court that showed the number of visitors for 2013 but could not verify the number of visitors that utilized any hotels, bed and breakfast and other lodging facilities.

HOT is to be utilized for the county to put the monies generated from visitors in and out of county or state back into the county.

"HOT tax money is for bringing tourism to the county,"said Erin Ford, Houston County judge. "The whole intent is not to create tension and hard feelings. It's to help the counties and help communities,"he said.

Grapeland ISD Considering Property Purchase Near Current School Complex

By Sherry Driskell, Reporter

Monday, July 28, Grapeland School Board of Trustees met to discuss amendments to the 2014-2015 student handbook, resignation of employee, and purchase of property. All board members were present with the exception of Trustee Jim Thorpe.

President Eddie Childress opened meeting noting the approval of the student handbooks being approved from last board meeting, but had amendments for the Monday agenda.

Kim Strandaland, counselor for Grapeland High School, and Rick Frauenberger, high school principal, presented board with information for the amendment of eighth graders for year 2014-2015 to have Algebra 1, Introduction to Agriculture, and IPC. (Integrated Physics and Chemistry) or any elective to count toward the GPA of 4.0 for high school.

Last two years all students who took Algebra 1 passed the ESP (Extended School Program) test which was great for the students and for school rating, Standaland said.

The board went into executive session for discussion on personnel and purchasing property. Gregg Spivey, superintendent was given authority to purchase property near the school at a later date.

Resignation was approved for Barbara Beeler, who has been with Grapeland ISD her entire career of 38 years.

"We appreciate Mrs. Beeler for all the years of service with the Grapeland I.S.D." said Superintendent Gregg Spivey.