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108 new cases brings Victoria County highest weekly spike since pandemic began

Victoria County Health Department officials said 49 new cases of COVID-19 developed during the weekend, 35 of which were reported Sunday.

The flare-up of cases Sunday breaks the previous record for new cases reported in a single day, which was 21 on Thursday; the weekend report also punctuated Victoria County’s highest weekly gain of new cases – 108 – since the pandemic began.

Among the 310 Victoria County residents who have tested positive for the disease, 177 have recovered. Eight people have died. There are 125 active cases in the county.

“The team was very busy today,” said Caitlin Weinheimer, the county’s chief of staff, “so there is a possibility of those daily numbers changing slightly as the investigations are completed.”

A news release on Victoria County’s health department’s Facebook page urged residents to protect themselves and their community from the spread of COVID-19.

“County Judge Ben Zeller and Mayor (Rawley) McCoy are meeting with local health officials and the Office Emergency Management again tomorrow (Monday) morning to assess the sudden increase in cases,” the news release said.

As a spike in COVID-19 cases across the state also continued this week, Crossroads families took to outdoor spaces to celebrate Father’s Day.

Christina Lara, who spent the afternoon at Patriot Park with several family members, said the size of their gathering was greatly decreased in efforts to reduce likelihood of spreading the virus.

“We usually have big old family reunions around this time, but not this year,” she said.

Roberto Lara, Christina’s brother, said the family, visiting from Damon, had intended to stay in Port Lavaca for the weekend, but they had trouble finding a place to stay in the beach town.

“Everything was booked solid,” he said.

Lara said he’s worried about what his six children will learn while locked inside during quarantine.

“Nowadays, they don’t even go outside,” he said.

James Perales spent Sunday at Patriot Park, teaching his youngest son, Jaden, a new skill. The pair picked up magnet fishing as a new hobby about a week ago.

“You never know what you’re going to pick up,” he said.

Perales said the pandemic has changed his life and increasing the frequency of his fishing trips.

“I got laid off on my job,” said Perales, who has three children, ages 9, 12 and 18. “Since the kids weren’t at school and my wife had to work I stayed home with them.”

As families continue to live their lives in the pandemic, McCoy said he has not forgotten about it and will continue to try to find solutions to reduce the spread of the virus – within the limitations of what Gov. Greg Abbot has allowed.

Over the weekend, city and county officials followed the lead of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who ordered businesses to require employees and customers to wear face masks when social distancing is not possible.

“I think about this every night and every day,” McCoy said. “It’s not taken lightly.”

Matagorda County

Matagorda County reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.

Officials said the new cases are all men whose ages range between 30 and 40, between 20 and 30 and between 60 and 70. All of the men are recovering in their homes.

Matagorda County currently has 108 positive cases, of which 58 are recovered. Matagorda County’s number of active cases is now 45. The positive cases continue to be located in the communities of Bay City, Palacios, Van Vleck, Sargent, Markham and Matagorda.

The Matagorda County Emergency Operation Center will have an open testing site on Wednesday and Thursday. This team is from the State of Texas and will be testing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The site will be the Bay City Civic Center, 201 7th St., across SH 35 from Bay City High School.

Officials said they will announce the registration phone numbers in a later news release.

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Presidio re-enactors honor victims of Goliad Massacre

GOLIAD – They wore linen shirts and leather shoes. They carried waterskins and flintlocks. They came to honor the soldiers who fought in the Texas Revolution.

On Saturday morning, seven re-enactors participated in a living history event at Presidio La Bahía in Goliad to commemorate a funeral speech given by Gen. Thomas Jefferson Rusk honoring the Texan soldiers who died at the Goliad Massacre.

“Usually, every year at the massacre, they read the speech at the (Fannin) monument,” said Mabry McMahon, 15, who co-organized the event. “This is the first time we’ve done a mock funeral.”

Cody Mobley, who serves as a Texas Historical Commission site manager at Fort McKavett, drove four hours to portray Rusk at the living history event. Wearing 1840s glasses with tiny nickel-silver frames, he solemnly recited the speech as the other six re-enactors and a small crowd listened.

“In the order of Providence we are this day called upon to pay the last sad offices of respect to the remains of the noble and heroic band, who, battling for our sacred rights, have fallen beneath the ruthless hand of a tyrant,” Mobley read.

“A small number of them stand by the grave – a bare remnant of that noble band,” he continued. “Our tribute of respect is due to them.”

Several of the survivors of the massacre were present at the funeral speech, McMahon explained.

After the speech concluded, McMahon and David Sifuentes, another one of the event’s organizers, manually loaded flintlock muskets and fired off a three-round salute.

Rusk’s speech came at the end of the Texas Revolution, after Texians under Sam Houston’s command defeated Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. At the Goliad Massacre, Santa Anna ordered the execution of Col. James Fannin and almost 350 of his men.

“They said they saw a great black cloud over the fort here,” said David Vickers, one of the re-enactors. “It was buzzards.”

The re-enactors brought a detailed approach to their historical portrayals. Sifuentes, who was portraying a Mexican vaquero in remembrance of his family’s heritage, said the musket he fired was a miquelet-style flintlock that he had assembled from parts. The process took more than a year, he said.

The living history event lasted the duration of the weekend. The re-enactors slept under the stars or in the Presidio’s historic barracks and ate jerky, salted pork, parched corn and journey cakes made of cornmeal.

“It’d be a whole different thing if you were out here wearing Gore-Tex,” said Mobley, who wore hand-sewn leather shoes with pegged-on soles.

McMahon said the participants did extensive research to represent the funeral as closely as possible, despite the limited documentation of the event.

“We’re preserving the history,” Sifuentes said. “It’s really cool to relive an era of men that embraced tradition, nobility and honor.”

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2 GOP candidates for tax assessor-collector don't slow campaigns during pandemic

The two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Victoria County tax assessor-collector haven’t slowed their campaign efforts during the pandemic.

With the runoff election delayed for weeks because of COVID-19, candidates Ashley Hernandez and David Hagan have both changed the way they’ve connected with voters to consider safety and hope residents turn out to vote on July 14.

“Exercise that right to vote, be part of the change,” said Hernandez, who took about 46% of the votes during the primary election in March. “I hope people come out for this election.”

“I don’t know if any candidates for any office have ever had to ever run an election under more peculiar circumstances,” said Hagan, who received about 35% of the votes. “I’m hoping people are able to focus on this with everything else going on.”

While both candidates are encouraging residents to vote, they say their individual experiences and visions for the office make them best suited for the job.

Hagan, a former Victoria City Councilman, said his nine years as an elected official gave him a track record as a conservative Republican and taught him how to be a leader and make difficult decisions.

“I carry that experience and will bring a fresh set of eyes to the whole office,” Hagan said. “I have a willingness to look across the entire state for best practices and bring them to Victoria.”

Hernandez, on the other hand, said her years of experience in the tax office prove her dedication and make her most prepared to lead the office.

“I genuinely have a passion for this office,” she said. “I consider my co-workers family, and I have the knowledge in place to make sure this office fully functions at best capacity to benefit the citizens of Victoria County.”

Hernandez said her top priority is to provide a professional, knowledgeable and friendly staff that is always ready to assist and provide efficient customer service to our citizens. If elected, she said she’d work to provide a transparent and efficient office.

Longtime tax assessor-collector Rena Scherer is retiring at the end of her term and has endorsed Hernandez for the office.

“I’ve worked hard to gain the trust of those around me,” Hernandez said. “Ms. Scherer’s endorsement is an honor.”

As a councilman during the 2008 financial crisis, Hagan said he learned how to make decisions in times of budget shortfalls and uncertain times, something he said closely mirrors the current state of the economy.

“In ‘08 it was an extremely important time to make important decisions for our community, and I was able to do that,” he said.

If elected, Hagan said he would fight for lower taxes and work to improve customer service.

The two candidates will participate in a debate hosted by the Advocate on Monday.

The Republican nominee chosen during the runoff will face Democratic candidate Jane Bernal in the November election.