Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Zak Benge is concerned about the safety of fishermen at the historic Lock and Dam on the Trinity River near SH 7. (Photo by Robert Neel)
By Robert Neel, Reporter
The historic Lock and Dam on the Trinity River near SH 7 is a popular location to fish, but it can also be a dangerous place. Water around the remains of the old Lock and Dam, especially thru the chute, can become extremely swift and turbulent. Two boats have capsized in the chute over the last two years, Game Warden Zak Benge said in a Houston County Courier interview.
He reported other injuries such as broken hands and crushed fingers as boats hit the walls or boaters get tangled in ropes used to tie off.
Individuals fishing on top of the walls on each side of the chute, and accessing the inside of one wall, also concerned him.
"This area is a major accident waiting to happen," Benge said.
Benge presented suggestions for restricting access to parts of the Lock and Dam to the Houston County Commissioners Court on Aug. 12.
He would like to see access to the walls on each side of the chute restricted along with restricted boat and vessel traffic in the chute.
"I have no desire to infringe on people's right to fish, but a proactive approach to preventing serious accidents is needed," Benge pointed out.
The Commissioners tabled the matter for future discussion because of the joint ownership of the structure with Leon County.
A request for restricting access to parts of the Lock and Dam was repeated by Benge at a Houston County Commissioners Court meeting on Aug. 26.
The danger of rescuing individuals in this area was a concern voiced by Houston County Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt.
"We are all for safety," stated Leon County Judge Byron Ryder, "But there is a strong sentiment from the Leon County Commissioners Court to not eliminate access to the Lock and Dam." "We want to work with Leon County on this," added Houston County Judge Erin Ford.
This matter was again tabled until ownership of the structure can be determined.
"We are working with Texas Park and Wildlife Attorneys to determine who actually owns the structure," said County Attorney Daphne Session. This matter was tabled again until ownership of the Lock and Dam can be determined.
From a historical perspective, the remains of the Lock and Dam provide a unique landmark. According to a Corps of Engineers document, it was constructed as part of a Trinity River Navigation Project that began in 1906.
This project was to construct 37 locks and dams along the Trinity River, providing a stair-stepped, navigable waterway from the Gulf of Mexico to Dallas. World War I halted the project and it was abandoned in 1922, as it was too costly. Only seven of the locks and dams were built.
Making the Lock and Dam site more significant was the construction of a bridge.
An application by Hurricane Shoals Bridge Company to construct a toll bridge at the Lock and Dam site was approved by the Houston County Commissioners Court in 1923.
Tolls were set for automobiles, 75 cents; wagons with two horses or mules, 50 cents; person on horse, 25 cents; person on foot, 10 cents; and loose livestock, 10 cents per head. The bridge was later replaced by the current SH 7 Bridge.
For most people the Lock and Dam site is better known for a great place to fish than for its' historical significance. Early spring brings an abundance of fish along with people who enjoy fishing. The March 2006 issue of "Texas Park and Wildlife" Magazine included this section of the Trinity River in a list of "50 Reasons To Get Outside" due to its opportunities for White Bass fishing. "Perhaps the most popular venue is the century-old Lock and Dam immediately upstream from the Hwy. 7 Bridge," stated the article.
Gregory Diephouse, deputy administrator for Field Operations, and other Farm Service Agency (FSA) officials from Washington, D.C. and other states were scheduled to be in Houston County on Aug. 12 to meet with local FSA personnel and community-based organization leaders.
This meeting was to kick off the Bridges to Opportunity Program for which Houston County is one of 10 counties in five states selected as a pilot community. The meeting was postponed and is tentatively rescheduled for October.
As some FSA offices are being closed, government officials are looking for ways to better serve the local communities.
Darvin Collins, county executive director for the FSA Houston County Office, and four program technicians, are servicing Leon and Madison Counties since their FSA offices have closed.
One of their ongoing programs is the Livestock Forage Program (LFP). LFP provides compensation to eligible livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or that is planted specifically for grazing. Sign up began in April..
Collins said his office has processed 300 requests for assistance and working on 200 more.
The brother and sister team of Robert and Barbara Wooten are owners/operators of the Wooten Family Bar-A-Ranch in Lovelady. The Wooten team is the 2010 recipients of the Landowners Association of Texas Farmer of the Year award.
Barbara Wooten speaks with enthusiasm about the programs offered by FSA. "Training and loans offered by FSA are great benefits to small farmers and new producers," Wooten said.
The Bridges to Opportunities Program is being launched to modernize FSA County offices. The pilot program will be evaluating ways for the agency to improve.
One initiative is to have the local FSA office act as a referral for services offered to farm and ranch producers by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal and state agencies.
Pilot areas are selected with the intention to target five customer segments: • Historically Under-Served; • New and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers; • Local/Regional Producers; • Veterans; and • Commodity Producers.
Various leaders of community-based organizations representing landowners, farmers and ranchers will have an opportunity to share their needs and concerns with FSA officials.
Collins is pleased that Houston County has been selected as a pilot community for the Bridges to Opportunities Program.
"FSA Officials are interested in coming to see the success stories here in Houston County," Collins said.
He attributes this selection to the relationship that has developed between the FSA and local landowners, farmers and ranchers.
Crockett business owner Lesa Lewis and her associate, Jerry Simpson, took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Friday, dumping buckets of ice water on each other to bring awareness to ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Afterwards, Lewis and Simpson were ready to pass the challenge on and had a message for the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce: “Bring It!” (Photo by Lynda Jones)
By Lynda Jones, Editor-in-Chief
Jerry Simpson and Lesa Lewis of "Storage Wars: Texas" fame didn't mind cooling off outside their Crockett business Friday, Aug. 22, as they accepted Auctioneer Walt Cade's challenge to complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Cade, Lewis said, issued the challenge to all the stars of the USA Network hit reality show. Now, Lewis and Simpson are telling the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce, "Tag, Your It!"
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness; hence the challenge to the Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce to "Bring It". People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.
As of Friday, Aug. 22, the ALS Association reported, the organization has received $53.3 million in donations compared to $2.2 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to Aug. 21).
These donations have come from existing donors and 1.1 million new donors to the ALS Association.
"ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis," as explained by the ALS Association.
"There is no cure and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that modestly extends survival. Veterans are twice as likely be diagnosed with the disease," according to the ALS Association.
For more information about ALS and/or the Ice Bucket Challenge, visit www.alsa.org.
Grapeland head coach Shawn Brown takes the Sandies to Trinity on Thursday, Aug. 21 for their final preseason outing.
The scrimmage gets underway at 7:30 p.m.
"We're just trying to improve. Nobody getås fired, nobody gets hung after the first scrimmage.
You just realize things you need to work on and maybe move things around. Our biggest concern is we want to make sure we fix things we definitely saw in our first scrimmage last Saturday against Overton," Brown såaid.
"We're headed in the right direction, but we're working on improving every aspect of our game. I'm happy with everybody's effort and that's all I'm looking for right now. Things go bad, things go good and people make mistakes. What matters is how hard you're swinging, and I think our kids are swinging hard. That's what we focused on in that scrimmage," the coach added.
Logan Gandy, 31, W/F of Grapeland, was arrested by the Crockett Police Department on Monday, Aug. 18 and charged with Theft ($50-$500) and Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals.
CPD Sgt. Clayton Smith reported that officers had been dispatched to the 1200 block of East Loop 304 (Wal-Mart) in reference to a shoplifter.
Upon arrival officers met with the complainant who alleged that Gandy was stealing items from the store, according to Smith.
"During the conversation with officers, Gandy told officers that she had her dog in the car while inside the store," Smith stated. "It was determined that Gandy left her dog inside the vehicle for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes with no water and the vehicle not running."
The dog was taken to Dr. George Beeler's for treatment and evaluation by Crockett Police Department Animal Control.
"The Crockett Police Department would like to remind everyone that during the summer months your vehicle can reach temperatures of up to 140 degrees in a short period of time. Never leave your children or animals in a vehicle unattended," Smith stated.
Both charges faced by Gandy are misdemeanor offenses. She was taken to the Houston County Jail where she was booked and confined.
Montgomery St., between Fourth St. and Fifth St., in Crockett is dug about six feet deep as the sewer line is replaced, thanks to “Hurricane Ike” Round 2 funds. The street will be repaved when the sewer line work is complete. (Photo by Lynda Jones)
By Lynda Jones, Editor-in-Chief
The City of Crockett shows evidence of working on its infrastructure and work on replacing the sewer line at Montgomery St. off of Fourth St. began recently.
Funding from the project is from a Disaster Relief Grant (Hurricane Ike funds). Working through applications and red tape with the state and federal government for about two years preceded the actual onset of construction.
Also in Crockett, the City Council unanimously voted to approve its FY 2015 budget Monday, Aug. 18. One of the approved items is a vibratory compactor for the Public Works Department, which is expected to patch pot holes in a way that the patches will last longer.
The council is not proposing a tax increase, but it did vote 3-2 to increase water and sewer rates by $5.70.
The increase was described as a pass-down increase from the Houston County Water Control & Improvement District No. 1. The city purchases water from the HCWCID #1.
Precinct 3 Councilmember Larry Robbins and Precinct 4 Councilmember Muriel Williams voted against the increase.
See More City of Crockett News in the Sunday Courier.