Grapeland Noon Lions Welcome Sheriff 

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Noon Lions Club met Thursday, Feb. 15 to update their work on recycling, begin looking for sponsors for their upcoming golf tournament and to hear from Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove as he runs for re-election. 

As reported in The Messenger, the Lions recently welcomed Zak Benge, candidate for sheriff and asked Hargrove to attend one of their lunch meetings, too, so the group could hear directly from each candidate and get their questions answered. 

Grapeland Noon Lions is one of the most active chapters in the county, and the members were not shy about expressing their opinions and posing tough questions to the sheriff. 

Hargrove told the Lions about his department’s new program where residents will be issued a unique ID number, which will be able to immediately match any stolen property back to Texas, Houston County and the victim of the theft. Hargrove said his department had recently recovered over $250,000 worth of stolen equipment, but was finding it difficult to match some of it back to its rightful owners. Victims of theft sometimes do not have serial numbers saved and struggle to identify stolen items and prove ownership. 

The new system will apply this code to each individual, and then can be stenciled in on just about everything, from heavy equipment to televisions. Information about the program is available from the sheriff’s office directly, or in pamphlets distributed to county stores. 

Asked about stray dogs in the county, Hargrove said his department was in the process of working out an agreement with Crockett Police Department, (CPD) where some of his deputies would train trustees from the jail to help CPD maintain the soon-to-open animal shelter on South Fourth Street in Crockett. In exchange, the sheriff’s department would be able to access the facility for stray dogs found in the county. Until then, Hargrove said, there were no adequate places for his office to house dogs, even when located and captured. 

Hargrove warned the Lions about the different threats the county faces, from roaming groups who promise to do work but are “casing” properties for things to steal, to those who steal every bit of metal they can, to take it to scrap yards. 

Hargrove spoke about the benefits of cable installation in rural parts of the county to bring wifi to underserved areas. He said the company involved had signed a deal to have access to towers, but not a right-of-way to travel through people’s property. Several Lions complained some of the workers traveled in unmarked trucks, causing worry when they came on to private property. Hargrove said he knew this would be an issue and said to call his office and would trespass them, as private property is to be protected. 

“Keep one thing in mind, though, if they are not allowed to come on your land, they may install the lines around your property and you may not get access to that wifi,” Hargrove said. 

There was one looming threat, above all others, that got the Lions worried, and Hargrove said like it or not, it is on its way, warning the pressure on the southern border is making its way northward, and Houston County will not be immune. 

“It used to be mainly Hispanic families coming north, looking for a better life and we all understand that,” Hargrove explained. “Now we have the cartels, fighting-age men from all over the world coming through. No one has anything against people coming for a better life. But it’s open season now at the border, and it must be a slap in the face to people who came here the right way.”

“How do you explain 1,500 fighting-age Chinese men coming through, all in one group? At a sheriff’s conference last year, border sheriff’s told us, ‘They are coming through our counties now. But they are coming to yours.’” Hargrove explained. “They recently captured more than 100 people on the terrorist watch list. How many came through that weren’t detected?”

Hargrove finished by calling himself a “constitutional sheriff” and explaining what that meant. 

“If we ever lose the Second Amendment, we will lose our Constitution. I took and oath, when I became Sheriff, to defend the Constitution of the United States,” Hargrove said. “The only way I can protect the Constitution is to defend the people and their right to protect themselves. The Constitution doesn’t give us any rights. Our rights come from God, and the Constitution protects those rights.”

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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