Local News

Dogs rescued from house in Hill County
The Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) released information last week about a recent rescue operation involving over 50 dogs in Hill County.
The society worked with the Hill County Sheriff’s Office to rescue some of the dogs on the property Monday, April 12. HSNT reported that the dogs had been living in “unbelievable conditions for quite some time” and said that investigators entered the property in hazmat suits and respirators due to the high levels of ammonia in the house.
“More than 50 dogs and puppies were removed from the dilapidated, trash-filled and feces-covered residence, which was still inhabited by the owner. The dogs were infested with fleas and suffered from varying skin issues and hair loss due to the unsanitary living conditions,” HSNT announced in a press release.
HSNT reported that the dogs also were afflicted with numerous types of intestinal parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms.
“Many of the females were pregnant or had recently given birth. The moms and babies, the youngsters and the aged were all covered in feces with nowhere to escape this torment of living in deplorable conditions–parts of which included approximately three-feet of compacted urine and fecal matter,” HSNT said.
Additional animal rescue organizations reportedly came together last week to begin rescuing dogs that were left behind after the Humane Society visited the location.

New dialing procedures will soon impact 254 area code
Those with phone numbers in the 254 area code are being asked to get into the habit of dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls.
In July of last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order approving 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The order requires all telecommunications providers to make any network changes necessary to ensure 988 access by July 16, 2022.
Several Texas area codes (254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915 and 940) have numbers with a 988 prefix. Therefore, those areas must transition from seven-digit to 10-digit local dialing.
Saturday, April 24, marked the beginning of a “permissive dialing period” in which callers in those area codes can still complete a call with seven-digit dialing. When that period expires on October 24, 2021, only calls dialed with 10 digits will be connected.
After the permissive dialing period, local calls dialed with only seven digits will reach a recording prompting them to hang up and dial again using both the area code with the seven-digit telephone number.
Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven digits. The Public Utility Commission of Texas urges residents to contact their medical alert or security provider if they are not sure whether equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing.
Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24 – October 24 to avoid interruption of those services.
Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are: life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services and other similar functions.
Customers should also ensure the area code is included in all other places where a telephone number is displayed, such as their websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, and even personal or pet ID tags.
The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change. What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
Customers will continue to dial 1+ the area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls.
Customers will continue to dial a prefix (such as “9”) when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (e.g., in a hotel, office building, etc.) as required.
Customers can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services).
If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 are currently available in one’s community, they can still be dialed with just three digits.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect. Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.

Court discusses donations for road work, HCSO request
The Hill County Commissioners Court discussed a policy regarding donations for road work and heard a plan for restructuring some positions at the sheriff’s office in a regular meeting held Tuesday, April 27.
The county has received funds from multiple donors recently to chip seal county roads. County Judge Justin Lewis said that the work is expensive and not in the county budget, but some residents have offered to donate funds to have work done on their roads.
With more residents making donations, the judge explained that he felt it was necessary to draft a policy regarding donations to ensure all precincts were on the same page with handling donations in accordance with Texas Transportation Code.
“It has been overwhelming how people have been ready to do this,” said Commissioner Larry Crumpton.
Lewis agreed, saying that the donations to help the county move forward with its roads have been appreciated.
The court approved a policy outlining how donations are accepted and approved by commissioners.
Hill County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Scott Robinson presented a plan from the department to restructure its organizational chart to address its growth.
The sheriff’s office plans to create a patrol lieutenant position to provide a higher level of supervision during the evening and overnight hours.
The lieutenant’s schedule would overlap the day and night shifts and would work with all patrol deputies at some point during the work week.
“This position would provide an extra level of supervision to better meet the needs of our citizens and staff,” Robinson said.
In addition to the new position, the sheriff’s office requested a three percent pay increase for April Stoll, who Robinson said wears many hats at the department and has taken on more duties and responsibilities.
Robinson said that although Stoll is not a sworn peace officer, her responsibilities and workload are equal to those of a captain and often exceed that level, but she is not being compensated at the same level as her male counterparts.
The chief deputy said that Stoll will be given the title of support services manager along with the pay increase, which will put her in line with a captain’s pay.
Robinson said that there will be no additional financial impact to the county for either change, and the department is expected to accomplish the plan within its current budget.
In other business, Lewis reported that the courthouse repairs are expected to be completed within six months, and the contractor’s plan is to start with insulation in the district courtroom and fourth floor and then start installing sheetrock.
The judge also said that the fairgrounds will no longer be used for administration of COVID-19 vaccines, as Hill Regional Hospital can now handle vaccinations at its facility.
He said testing numbers are under review and a decision is expected soon on whether to continue offering COVID-19 testing at the fairgrounds.
Lewis said that the county stands ready to help the community fight the coronavirus in any way that it can, but testing and vaccinations are now being handled more by medical offices.
The court’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 11.

WISD to celebrate “School Lunch Hero Day” Friday
Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies and offering service with a smile, Whitney Independent School District’s nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate.
To celebrate their hard work and commitment, Whitney schools will celebrate School Lunch Hero Day Friday, May 7.
This day, celebrated annually since 2013, was designated by The School Nutrition Association and Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series.
School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy meals to nearly 30 million of America’s students each school day.
All across the school district, school nutrition professionals will be honored and recognized from students, school staff, parents and the community. Whitney ISD Food Service Staff has worked diligently throughout the pandemic without missing a step.
They have served over 100,000 meals since the pandemic began in March of 2020. Of those meals, nearly 20,000 were served through grab-and-go and home delivery services to the community and surrounding communities.
“School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools,” said Whitney ISD Nutrition Director Judy Bailey. “School Lunch Hero Day provides the opportunity for the community to thank these hardworking heroes.”
Federal nutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats.
The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day.
More details about School Lunch Hero Day are available at http://www.schoollunchheroday.com.

Hill Regional Hospital thanks, issues call for, volunteers
by HRH Volunteer Advisor Tricia Shelton
April was Volunteer Appreciation Month and Hill Regional Hospital recognizes and thanks the volunteers for the vital role they played during 2020 and 2021. While most did not come into the hospital, they helped in so many other ways.
They, along with community volunteers, called hundreds of people to remind about vaccine appointments set or to set new ones. They spent hours on the phone using their personal cell phones to make those calls.
During vaccine days, they acted as watchers, sanitizers, check-in assistants, and some active nursing community volunteers even gave vaccines.
Volunteers came and helped put together newsletters for Silver Connections. While we did not meet for a year, we still wanted to keep you informed about health issues! And now we can list activities again! We invite YOU to become a VOLUNTEER! As the hospital opens up its doors again, we need more volunteers. We hope you will join us. Visitors to our hospital love to see a friendly face greet them. They often need assistance to find where they need to go.
Volunteers serve because they honestly want to help others. And being a volunteer offers them confidence, a chance to meet people, learn new skills, make a difference in peoples’ lives and…have fun!
There is an application to complete, then we do a background check and blood tests. After a short orientation, we find the right spot to fit your schedule. A volunteer shirt is provided and lunch and friendship is always included. Training is provided throughout!
For further information and an application, please contact Tricia Shelton, Volunteer Advisor, at 254-580-8888 or through email at pshelton@hillrh.com. Come join our volunteer community! You can help make a difference.
“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” – James Barrie

DAR names Betty Fritz Scholarship recipient
Fort Graham Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, is proud to announce the winner of its Betty Fritz Scholarship competition among the 2021 graduating seniors from Hill County.
The competition for the scholarship is vigorous and is offered to exemplary students from all of the high schools in Hill County. Chapter Regent Rhonda Bass and committee co-chairs Madeleine Lively and Cate Fritz released the results to the participating students and their counselors earlier last month. Four judges contributed their experience and expertise in rating the packets of student submissions.
Taking the top prize among the current year’s graduates is Lised Olguin Cruz of Hillsboro High School. Her parents are Pablo Cruz and Camelia Olguin, and her counselor at Hillsboro High School is Edward Sumrall.
Cruz is ranked second in her high school graduating class with a 3.875 GPA out of a possible 4.0, and she has made the president’s and dean’s lists at Hill College while concurrently enrolled there for the past two years.
At this time, the young scholar plans to complete her Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice at Hill College this summer and then transfer to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall, where she will pursue a major in psychology and pre-law. She aspires to continue on to law school and specialize in family law.
The DAR Chapter traditionally honors its scholarship recipients and various award winners from throughout the year at an awards luncheon in May. That event was held this year on Saturday, May 1, at the Texas Great Country Café Event Center in Whitney.
Along with Cruz, also honored at the event this year were Lauren Gerik from Abbott and Jayden Gillham from Hubbard. These two young women were both DAR scholarship recipients from the 2020 graduating classes but were prevented from being presented last May due to the organization’s observance of the COVID-19 quarantine.
Fort Graham’s scholarship application process seeks to identify students who exemplify excellence in academic performance, diversity in extra-curricular activities, dedication to public service, ability to articulate value gained from out-of-school work or volunteer experiences and a demonstrated plan for honoring their American citizenship and contributing to society during their adulthood.
The 2020 graduates wrote an original essay addressing the topic of the role of social media in our current world and how it impacts our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion, speech and the press as well as the right to assemble. The essay prompt for the 2021 seniors competing for the scholarship was worded thusly: “Our country was founded on the efforts of some very brave patriots. What is your definition of a patriot? Who are the people in your community that are good examples of patriots? How can you as a young adult foster the ideals of patriotism as you continue forward in your goals of education, career and family?”
The 2021 Fort Graham Chapter DAR scholarship recipient, Lised Cruz, has stated that she learned valuable skills from her many school activities, both curricular and extra-curricular. She excelled in leadership, serving as a Student Council officer as well as yearbook editor and three-year captain of her cross country team. In academic UIL competitions in journalism, Lised brought home the district championship and was a regional qualifier in UIL feature writing, in addition to news, editorial and headline writing and in copy editing. She also placed as first chair wind ensemble and in Solo & Ensemble solo in UIL music competitions.
Catherine Fritz, daughter of the late Don and Betty Fritz, traditionally speaks at the awards events when she introduces the scholarship winners. She addresses the contributions her mother made to the community, including teaching at Whitney High School, working on multiple ministries through White Bluff Chapel and founding the Fort Graham NSDAR Scholarship program in 2009.
Every year since then, the Fritz family has provided seed money for the scholarship that was renamed the Betty Fritz Scholarship a few years ago. Both Betty and her daughter Cate have been members of the Fort Graham Chapter, NSDAR.

TPWD reminds public not to touch wildlife
With more people enjoying the outdoors this spring season, you may start to notice more wildlife in your backyard, neighborhood or surrounding areas. Species including birds, deer and snakes are active this time of year and their young often stray or appear to be abandoned. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) experts caution against lending a helping hand.
Animals that are most often picked up by well-meaning citizens are baby birds and deer fawns. However, it is important to realize that many such human-animal encounters are unnecessary and can even be detrimental to the wildlife concerned.
The deer fawning season begins in early to mid-May. A newborn fawn’s mottled coat and mother’s care usually hides them from predators. As fawns mature, they shed these coats for a more adult color which causes them to catch the eye.
A doe may leave her fawn for hours at a time while she is browsing for food. During that time, people may spot a fawn lying alone in tall grass or in a brushy area. Many people interfere with the fawn thinking that they have been abandoned by their mothers and need help. This is rarely the case.
Leave all young animals alone unless they are obviously injured or orphaned. To be sure, spend time observing the wild animal from a distance to make that determination. Staying too close may deter the mother from returning. Interfering to soon may do more harm than good.
The same principles apply to young birds, which might be out of their nests but cannot fly. If the bird’s eyes are open, it has a coat of feathers and is hopping around, it is probably fine. Grounded fledglings will usually be up and flying within a few days.
If it is determined that a wild animal is sick or injured, TPWD encourages citizens to contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.Learn more about what to do upon encountering orphaned or injured wildlife at https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild.

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