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Back to school fun day

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A cool, refreshing waterslide was one of the main activities at the second annual Back-to-School Fun Day event hosted at I.T. Williams Park by the Crockett Police Department and Crockett Fire Department Friday, Aug. 18. In the photo, children of various ages prepare to zip down the slides slippery slope. (Alton Porter Photo)

Serenity Place Rolls Out Program Changes

Nine boys at the Serenity Place, Inc., residential treatment facility in Crockett prepare to go for a  spin on bicycles bought for their use by facility owners Chris and Wanda Brown. (Photo by Alton Porter/HCCourier)Nine boys at the Serenity Place, Inc., residential treatment facility in Crockett prepare to go for a spin on bicycles bought for their use by facility owners Chris and Wanda Brown. (Photo by Alton Porter/HCCourier)

By Alton Porter

Courier Reporter
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The executives and staff at the Serenity Place, Inc., Crockett campus are making several changes in their programs for the boys at the facility, the most significant of which is replacement of the former educational program with a charter school.

The leaders of the residential treatment facility for abused and neglected boys will open a branch of the John H. Wood Jr. Charter School Monday, Aug. 21, according to owner and program director Chris Brown and school principal Miki Jost.

"We've been in operation little over a year, and we're 'stronger than ever' (a current theme of the facility), Brown said in a joint interview with Jost, conducted by the Courier on Friday, Aug. 4.

Jost has been on campus making preparations for the school all summer.

"I can't tell you how excited I am," said Brown. "Going forward this year is totally different than last year. Last year, we were just opening, the kids were just coming in, staff was new."He added, "The biggest difference we have going forward today is we have our own school (headed by Superintendent Bruce Rockstroh)."

Jost, who served on the Crockett State School staff under the auspices of the Texas Youth Commission five years until that facility closed in 2012, has intimate knowledge of the facility, Brown said.
He said the facility's John H. Wood school has seven teachers who will teach some 80 boys who are expected to be residents at the facility by Sept. 1.

"Last year, we had Crockett ISD," Brown said. "But, John H. Wood has experience and understanding of mental health. So, I think they're very equipped to deal with our kids."

Jost added, "The other wonderful thing about John H. Wood is it's a public charter school. So, if there are people who are outside the gate and want to come to our school, they're welcome to do so.
"We are an inquiry-based curriculum where we will basically let the students have their TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) that they need individually and know what they need to work toward. And then, we're going to allow them to determine some of the direction they're going to use to reach those goals.
"And we're going to help them toward their high school diploma or their GED (General Education Development) certificate."

The students will be taught traditional topics using high technology equipment. "In addition, we're going to have vocational programs, including classes instructed by former Crockett State School automotive specialist Franklin Wade that focus on agriculture, other CTE (career and technical education) classes and eventually automobile maintenance and repair skills," Jost said.
"We want to have the students excited about learning. We'll have nice size classes of between 12 and 15 students each. We want to help them find success.

"We have a wonderful group of teachers coming in." And school leaders have approached Angelina College officials about working out a partnership with the college.

To give the boys the opportunity to interact in the community, they will perform tasks at the upcoming World Championship Fiddler's Festival, and events at the Crockett Civic Center and Christmas in Crockett festival among other events.

Other recent additions at Serenity Place include an equine therapy program headed up by rancher Dexter Strange of Madisonville, with Carla Pratt Jenkins as equine-certified therapist, Brown said. "We have seven horses. To see kids coming from all over Texas (be excited about the program is refreshing).

Something else new for Serenity Place is an "advisory board that is helping us connect with people in the community in a different way than when we first came to Crockett," Brown said.

Members of the board are Pastor Darryl Bennett of Eastgate Family Church; Jeannie Julian, executive director, Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce; Toni Browning, manager, Houston County Courier; Houston County Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt; James Gentry, executive director, Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation; Ramona Frye, director, Angelina College Crockett Center; and Retired Houston County Judge Erin Ford.

New staff members who are enhancing the Serenity Place, Inc., staff include administrator Cathy Wells from San Antonio, who has 16 years of experience managing residential treatment centers; new clinical director, Gina Burnley from Houston, who has experience running treatment programs at other facilities; and Karen Johnson, who has 19 years of experience and will handle staff supervision activities and help manage the campus.

Brown explained, "We've brought in more tenured and experienced people. I think that'll make a big difference in our ability to not only manage kids, but also, grow. As we go forward, I think our new administrative team is going to work very well together.

He said Serenity Place, Inc. also is hoping to hire someone to provide medical services to the boys at the facility's on-campus infirmary.

What Came First? Chicken Or Egg?

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Allison Noll and Leslye Gleason, both Texas A&M University staff members, teach excited third grade students from Houston County area schools about eggs and baby chicks at the annual Houston County Science of Agriculture Field Day event held in Porth Agricultural Arena in Crockett on Wednesday, May 18. Some 250 elementary school students attended the event. The activity was sponsored by the Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Office in Crockett. (Photo by Alton Porter/HC Courier)

9-1-1 What’s Your Emergency? They Ask ...

Courtesy Photo Pictured are Dispatch Supervisor Susie Hammond and Dispatcher Daniel Williams along with Chief of Operations for Houston County EMS Bradley Baucom, Lt. Eric Adams and Bart Mallett with gifts received in appreciation of the work Houston County dispatchers do.Pictured are Dispatch Supervisor Susie Hammond and Dispatcher Daniel Williams along with Chief of Operations for Houston County EMS Bradley Baucom, Lt. Eric Adams and Bart Mallett with gifts received in appreciation of the work Houston County dispatchers do.(Courtesy Photo)

Appreciation Shown To Dispatchers During Telecommunicators Appreciation Week

The Houston County Dispatchers were recognized in several different ways this past week during Telecommunicators Appreciation Week.

They were given shirts from DETCOG as well as flowers and gift baskets from Houston County EMS. They also received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from others, just showing their appreciation for the work our dispatchers do.

Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt stated that the dispatch division of his office is truly the hub for the Houston County Sheriff's Office. It takes someone with a special calling to be a dispatcher for law enforcement. Their job goes from low stress to high stress in just a matter of seconds. They never know when the phone rings what is waiting on the other end. They are the first ones that people talk to when calling for help, many times at the most tragic times of their lives.

Dispatch Supervisor Susie Hammond is pictured with Dispatcher Carly Jenkins during Telecommunicators Appreciation Week.  Jenkins also is an officer with the Grapeland Police Department.Dispatch Supervisor Susie Hammond is pictured with Dispatcher Carly Jenkins during Telecommunicators Appreciation Week. Jenkins also is an officer with the Grapeland Police Department.The dispatchers have to be able to get the needed information and try to keep that person calm on the other end.
Bobbitt stated that training is vital for dispatchers. They have to remain calm while they are performing their job to the best of their abilities and cannot take personally the outcome of any call.

Bobbitt states that Dispatch Supervisor Susie Hammond is a TCOLE certified instructor and she is up-to-date on all the newest training available for dispatchers. He states that Hammond makes certain that the dispatchers receive the best training to perform their duties.

Out of the nine dispatchers, six have their Master TCOLE certification, with the other three working toward that certification.
Dispatchers include Sylvuan Duncan, Daniel Williams, Jennifer Brockway Baker, Carly Jenkins, Katy Stephens, Meagan Frizzell, Candi Reid, Carly Tullis, Shannon Foster-North.

Bobbitt is proud of all of his dispatchers and appreciates the work and dedication they have to their jobs.

Lovelady Celebrates Rockin’ Good Time At Lovefest

Photo by Lynda Jones Antioch Baptist Church took first place and Best Overall Theme for its float in the 34th Annual Lovelady Lovefest Parade Saturday, Feb. 13.  The float carried church member in poodle skirts, featured a soda fountain and a replica of a car from the 50s at the back. (Lynda Jones Photo)Photo by Lynda Jones Antioch Baptist Church took first place and Best Overall Theme for its float in the 34th Annual Lovelady Lovefest Parade Saturday, Feb. 13. The float carried church member in poodle skirts, featured a soda fountain and a replica of a car from the 50s at the back. (Lynda Jones Photo)

By Lynda Jones
Editor-in-Chief
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The 34th Annual Lovelady Lovefest, in keeping with this year's theme, Rock Around the Clock, was a rockin' good time on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Grand Marshals Ron-Ann Easton and Carol Broxson led the parade of colorful floats, classic cars and more. The Lovelady ISD band kept the mood of the theme with music from the 1950s and 1960s.

Tammy Cousins, director of the parade, announced the following winners:
First place float and Best Overall for theme honors went to the Antioch Baptist Church. The NAPA Auto Parts and Ace Bail Bonds float won second place in the float category, as well as Most Original and Best of Show in the theme category. The Gresham family won third place in the float category.

Other winners in the Theme category were Seventh Grade, first place; Lovelady Elementary UIL, second place; and First Baptist Church, third place.

Winners in the Antique Cars category were: Best of Show, Gary Bryant, 1957 Chevy BelAir; first place, Gary Nunley, 1966 Chevy truck; second place, Shelly Gear, 1971 Ford GT; and third place, J. T. Garriell, 1956 Cadillac.

Winners of the Bikes, ATVs and Four-Wheelers category were: Best of Show, Colby Taylor, Lane Crowson and Mikala Rivers; Most Decorated, Darcy Corcoran and Christian Corcoran; Most Reddest, Brady McCullough and Mikey Montemayor; and Most Loudest, Jarred Gambill and Eric Anderson.

Following the parade, folks headed to the Lovelady City Park for a sunny afternoon, smelling the aromas of the Barbecue Cook-Off, rides and games for the kids, shopping at all the vendor booths, and enjoying a variety of live entertainment that ranged from pretty little dancers to dogs performing tricks. The petting zoo also was a hit, in addition to the traditional funnel cakes, sausage on a stick, hamburgers, turkey legs, lemonade and other tasty favorites.

To top off the day of activities, many headed to the Lovelady Old Gym afterwards to dance the night away, making the Lovefest a true "Rock Around the Clock" celebration.

Hannah Gresham Is 2016 Lovefest Queen

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The 34th Annual Lovelady Lovefest kicked off Thursday night, Feb. 11, in the packed Lovelady High School Gym with the coronation of 2016 Lovefest Queen Hannah Gresham. She is pictured here with her escort, Cole Cimrhanzl. After 2015 Lovefest Queen Avery Brumley crowned Gresham, the Royal Court took its place to be entertained by Lovelady Elementary students. In keeping with this year's Lovefest theme, Rock Around the Clock", the children performed to songs from the 50s and 60s. The Lovelady High School Band also performed. Hannah Burleson and Alex McKnight served as emcees for the evening. Members of the Royal Court were Seventh Grade Princess Kyra Rogers and Escort Caleb Larkin; Eighth Grade Princess Hannah York and Escort Kent Thatcher; Freshman Princess Morgan LaRue and Escort Logan Lowery; Sophomore Princess Miranda Moore and Escort Ethan Tullos; Junior Princess Allison Hay and Escort Daniel Cook; Senior Princess and Lovefest Queen Hanna Gresham and Escort Cole Cimrhanzl. (Lynda Jones Photo)