Local News

ECISD pulls prom proposal

A request for the City of El Campo to provide El Campo ISD with free use of the Civic Center was pulled from the agenda, as the school district had no knowledge it was placed before council. Council was set to discuss the 2023 Prom request at the last session, before El Campo Superintendent Bob Callaghan pulled the item
from the agenda just before council began. Callaghan says “Neither the district nor the high school were
aware of the agenda item and neither was consulted prior to the agenda item being placed on the agenda.”


Commissioners validate election results

Victoria County commissioners accepted results from this month’s general election without deliberation during their Monday morning meeting. This year, 25,351 voters cast a ballot in Victoria County, representing 45% of all registered voters. Voter turnout between the 2018 and 2022 midterm elections decreased by 4% in Victoria County, according to data from the county elections office. Heading to the polls prior to Election Day was the most popular method for Victoria County voters this election cycle.


Shook completes training

This month Fire Marshal Dan Shook graduated from the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas Fire Executive Management Training class 7. The training consisted of 80 hours in two modules that started in May 2020. Shook said he is excited to bring what he has learned from this valuable training to the City of Bay City. The program addresses the professional qualifications for fire marshals and evaluates the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to meet essential tasks of the job.


Victoria man sentenced to prison

A Victoria man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday after he pleaded guilty to the continuous sexual abuse of a child, according to a news releases from the Victoria County DA’s Office. 49 year old Joe Anthony Carrera was indicted last summer on four counts of sexual abuse of a child. He sexually abused a child over a six-month period from August 2021 and February 2022, beginning when the child was 6 years old. Sentences under this penal code section qualify for neither parole nor early release for good behavior and must be served day for day.


Keep kids safe

This school year El Campo ISD has spent more than $500,000 to ensure children have nothing to fear. Director of Federal Programs Demetric Wells presented a state-of-district security update to the board members including next steps and an estimation of the overall expenses incurred. Cameras have been longer-term projects for school security, with officials predicting months before they arrive. The bidding process started in October, however no camera bids have been submitted to trustees so far. Another state grant provides the district with $280,000 for security funding, dollars earmarked for campus door replacement.


Deal for asbestos abatement

A Wharton County-owned storage facility in Wharton will soon undergo asbestos abatement at a cost much lower than was anticipated by county officials. At yhe last session of commissioners court, the commissioners accepted bids for the project and awarded it to Emanuel Enterprises of Houston for $13,444. The county received five bids up to $25,025. Emanuel Enterprises estimated it would take four days to do the work, which was faster than the other bidders.


Sues over social media

A former El Campo city council candidate is suing a once business rival claiming defamation based on social media comments and the owner has filed a counter suit. Both cases are pending and no hearing dates have been set thus far. Keith Murphy filed to run as an at-large El Campo city council candidate in last May’s election, saying he had plans that could lower municipal taxes. He claims that J’s Patio owner Jessica Smithwick made defamatory statements on a popular El Campo social media site, comments that contributed to his business Pin High Sports Bar’s demise.


Murray wears state AG title

Karsyn Murray of Bay City represented Matagorda County at the Texas Miss US Agriculture pageant in Temple Nov. 11-13. Murray competed in the essay contest, personal interview, onstage self-introduction, fun fashion, and evening wear, and was awarded the state title. She was awarded $4,000 in scholarships. Karsyn is the daughter of Matt and Katie Murray. She is a 2022 graduate of Bay City High School where she was president of the FFA. Karsyn is the daughter of Matt and Katie Murray and currently a student at Texas A&M University.


Fake 911 calls

Emergency 9-1-1 lines are being disrupted at the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, prompting concern
and arrests. Four people have been arrested for inappropriate 9-1-1 calls to Wharton County dispatchers since late October, several more were reported during the summer. The El Campo Police Department dispatchers also have to cope with abusive callers on the 9-1-1 line. In the two most recent cases, calls or were made repeatedly, in one case 19 times by a single individual in a single day. In another case “An individual called 9-1-1 and demanded that they bring him gas.


Grandparent shooter gets time

A 27-year-old El Campo man who shot his grandparents during a family argument will spend the next 15 years behind prison bars. Kristian Dre Cadriel stood before 23rd District Court Judge Ben Hardin last week to plea
guilty to two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because Cadriel used a deadly weapon, he must serve half of the sentence before he can be considered eligible for parole. He was given credit for 95 days already served. Cadriel’s grandparents survived the Aug.7th attack.


New BC Police Chief

Bay City Police Department’s new Chief of Police has been announced and for the first time in the history of the city – it’s a woman. Christella Rodriguez is not only the first woman to be named Chief, but also the first Hispanic to be named to the post. She will be officially sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Bay City Council meeting as the first female Chief of Police. Rodriguez has served the Bay City community and department for 35 years.


Luther Hotel

The Luther Hotel in Palacios, a 120-year-old landmark, is in danger of being demolished. With the death of its former owner, Jack Findlay, his estate has now been placed in probate court and the heirs of the Luther Hotel have announced its plans to sell the property. The new prospective owners have contacted the Texas Historical Commission with a request to demolish the property. The Luther Hotel has been around for 120 years and has survived hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast but now the historic hotel is in danger of being gone.


El Campo grad honored

One of El Campo’s homegrown sons was issued one of the highest honors the National FFA organization can grant. Ryan Williamson, son of El Campo Police Chief Gary Williamson, was selected as Texas’ nominee for
the Western Region Vice President in Indianapolis on Oct. 29th. Williamson, now a junior at Texas A&M, was selected as a national officer, after serving at the state level the year before last. He’ll be traveling the country to spread the mission of FFA in a different state every week for about five months. Ryan will be the student
voice on the FFA Board of Directors.


EC & Kilgore meet again Friday

The El Campo Ricebirds and the Kilgore Bulldogs meet again today in round three. The last time the Ricebirds defeated the Bulldogs was in New Caney at Texan Drive Stadium in 2015. The Ricebirds are hoping history might
repeat itself. The stadium has a new name, but they’re playing in New Caney again this afternoon with the area championship up for grabs. The Ricebirds enter the secondround game after thrashing Houston Worthing 49-7.


Deputies bust smugglers

Two Las Vegas men face human smuggling and drug charges after Wharton County Sheriff deputies stopped
their vehicle for traffic violations last week. One of the men facing charges claimed he didn’t notice the two dirt-covered men riding in the back seat of their Buick sedan while the other opted to flee, ultimately being
tracked down by a state highway patrol helicopter. The stop took place on U.S. 59 south of Wharton. Both were transported to the Wharton County Jail. The two back seat passengers, Honduras citizens who had crossed the border illegally, were turned over to Border Patrol.


KIDS Need Gifts To Give

El Campo Boys & Girls Club requests new or gently used items children can give to their parents/and or loved
ones for Christmas: stuffed animals, small tools for dad, dish towels or candles for mom; t-shirts with sayings appropriate for a small child to give. No longer recommended are items like ties for dad. Collections go through Friday, Dec. 16th at 713 Fahrenthold. Children attending the club will then be allowed to “shop” for gifts.


I-69 bridge plan

Even though the two options for an overpass on Highway 59 are less than a half a mile apart, opinions on where it should be located were miles apart Monday at the meeting of the Wharton County Commissioners. The options included placing the overpass at the entrance to the Wharton Regional Airport or to the southwest at CR 423. After a long discussion with several people commenting, the commissioners opted to reject both options and sent the Texas Department of Transportation back to the drawing board. Officials spoke in favor of locating the overpass at the airport, while farmers and residents along CR 423 made their case for that location. Stay tuned


City park tops in county

Monday night the El Campo Public Works Department took the spotlight at city council. Eight men are directly responsible for El Campo’s Legacy Park on the West Loop being named the top park in the 2022 Best of Wharton County contest. Those eight men are Edward Montalvo, Corey Granados, Juan B. Leal Jr., Jose Rodriguez, Vance Miller, Jose Lemus, Dustin Flores and City Public Works Director Kevin Thompson. The city’s newest park, Legacy uses an agricultural theme in its playground with climbing “hay bales,” a barn and farm yard with animal sculptures and much more.


Student awarded honors

A Van Vleck High School student has earned academic honors from the College Board National Recognition Programs. Andrea Ramirez excelled in College Board assessments and schoolwork to earn these awards, which colleges use to identify academically competitive under-represented students. Andrea says “Coming from an immigrant family this recognition means a lot. Growing up I was ridiculed for being Latina so being recognized for just the this is like a dream coming true for my younger self.


Student Mental health aid

As of September of this year, Texas is ranked last out of all fifty states for access to mental health treatment. 34.2 % of students from Texas have reported of feeling sad or hopeless for more than two weeks. In data released by the Texas Education Agency, more than half of Texas schools don’t have a psychologist or access to telehealth. Ganado ISD began a new program for students to help with mental health. The mission of this program is to advance mental health care quality and access for all Texas children and adolescents.


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