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Parking for Western Weekend rodeo worth a buck

by Kelli Barnes

Commissioners officially voted to amend the agreement with Tyler County Search and Rescue, changing the $1 donation parking at the rodeo arena during Western Weekend, to paid $1 parking. "Since they began volunteering to park cars, the parking situation is so much better...well worth the $1 parking fee per vehicle," said Commissioner Rusty Hughes.

In recognition of Red Cross month in Tyler County, proclaimed by Tyler County Commissioner's Court, the Red Cross will be presenting the "Pillowcase Project", a program used to teach third through fifth grade students what they can do if a fire occurs while they are at home. Anyone interested in having the Red Cross presentation, may call 409-832-1644 to schedule. Also during March, the Red Cross will team up with the Tyler County Child Welfare Board and first responders around the county to provide and install smoke detectors into the homes of underprivileged elderly, disabled, and homes with small children.

Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett was present in Commissioners Court, while the inter-local agreement and cooperation contract between the city of Ivanhoe and the county was approved. This allows the county to do work inside Ivanhoe as agreed upon, like mowing and road work, with the promise of reimbursement from Ivanhoe to the county.

District Clerk Chyrl Pounds and County Treasure Donece Gregory both are attending continuing education, and certificates were approved by commissioners.

A map correction issue was tabled, to allow commissioner's time to research the process of officially correcting errors and/or oversights on the legal 911 mapping from 2005. According to commissioner Jack Walston, Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) will not make the change, because the map is an official document and any changes must go through the courts. "It's a legal process," said Walston. Commissioner's are consulting with Allison and Bass, attorneys in Austin who were a part of the mapping legal process.

On March 9, Commissioner's Court reconvened to take care of general business of the court and a few other agenda items. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) sent a letter, for the record, giving the county permission to use the fly ash from the German Pellet plant in Woodville, stating it is safe for the environment.
Martin Nash was appointed by the court to be a voting delegate for Seneca Water Board, which is the water company used by Precinct one.

During the upcoming April 13 meeting, bidding will open for petroleum products to be used by the county. Commissioners will vote to award a bid during the May 11 meeting.

Sheila Lewis with AgriLife Extension Service presented the name Jacob Spivey, as their sole candidate for the position of Tyler County Extension Agent. Spivey will work for AgriLife in a training capacity in Nacogdoches, Angelina and Polk counties over the 30 days. Upon successful completion of this process, Spivey will be presented for approval at the April 13 commissioners court.

Commissioners will meet again on Thursday, March 19 at 8:30 a.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom located at the Tyler County courthouse.

Chester City Council chooses Jo Ann Wally

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor C. E. Lawrence convened the Chester City Council Monday, Mar. 2.

The council approved the minutes from the previous meeting. As the financials were being discussed, Councilwoman Gale Williams asked about the bill from Val-Tex. City Supervisor Dale Clamon explained it was for the rebuild for their high-pressure grease gun which services their gas valves. The city's gun can exert a pressure of 15,000 psi (ValTex.com).

Prior to going into a closed session to interview the six women who came to interview for the part-time office position, Lawrence outlined the basic plan that the council had previously discussed. The position would require 16 hours a week, four four-hour days, with two hours each day with City Secretary Annette Hickman. The position will not have any health or retirement benefits and will start at $10 per hour with a 60-day probation period. Hickman has been with the city for 34 yours and welcomed the help.

The council adjourned to go into closed session to begin the interview. After all, Jo Ann Wally was chosen to serve Chester and notified shortly thereafter, effective March 23, and a welcome aid to the busy Chester office running the city and Chester Gas Company.

Ivanhoe Council considers impact of planned oil drilling near city

by Emily Waldrep

Ivanhoe City Council held a special called meeting Saturday, March 7, at 10 a.m. due to concerns of a possible drilling project near Ivanhoe. Two representatives with Vision Resources attended the meeting and answered some of the citizens most pressing questions.

According to Vision, the well will be located several hundred feet outside of the Ivanhoe community, although the exact location is unknown. Vision owns a 35,000 acre mineral lease and Ivanhoe is a part of that lease and all the minerals under Ivanhoe are subject to drilling.

Although the drill isn't planned to be located within Ivanhoe, the company will get to the proposed well through Mill Creek Drive in Ivanhoe, and will re-do and resurface the entire road as well as a low water crossing up to DOT standards at no cost to the city. The project would normally run the city $100,000 to $500,000 dollars out of pocket, but Vision will be picking up all of the expense for the road work. According to vision, the road will meet all DOT standards and will be maintained throughout the project and shouldn't need additional maintenance for the foreseeable future. The city has previously voiced its need for road maintenance and repairs.

Citizens were also concerned the project would be noisy, dusty and busy. Vision said that while the 60 to 90 day process of drilling will be noisy and bright, the company is willing to relocate families that the project effects at no cost to them.

Vision reported that the well is a typical vertical well and there will be no fracking or controlled explosions of any type, and that sink holes or earthquakes will not be an issue. Oil or gas will be taken from three miles under the surface and the drill hole should only be about two to three foot wide, at its widest point. Vision also has to complete thorough steps through the company as well as the state of Texas to ensure that the project is environmentally friendly and doesn't affect the well water or lakes and streams in Ivanhoe, and explained to citizens that they will be following all State Regulations.

The project is slated to begin in the coming months, and action regarding the well will be taken at the next city council meeting on March 12 at 7 p.m.

Woodville Board recognizes WISD students and teachers

WISD Choir students recognizedWISD Choir students recognized

by Darby Kethan

Woodville ISD board members met at the High School Library to accommodate the anticipated parents and friends attending the meeting to applaud those being honored.

Teachers of the year recognized by School Superintendent Glen Conner are Angela Berry, Elementary Campus,; Miranda Morrell, Intermediate Campus; Jason Drake Middle School Campus; , Laura Willis, High School Campus and District Wide Winner.

Dr. Ball presented choir students for recognition: Shelby Swien, First Chair Alto; April Kirby, Third Chair Alto; and Dillon Wilroy, First Chair Tenor.

Information about the district's Fall Athletic program was presented by WISD Coaches Mike Waldie and Troy Carrell, Boys' and Girls' Athletic Coordinators. 146 girls grades 7-12 participate in athletics and UIL athletic competition such as tennis, cross country, golf and power lifting. 178+ boys participated in athletics and/or in UIL competitions. Both coaches were commended by board members for jobs well done.
Superintendent Conner mentioned several new programs being implemented in WISD, including a private social medial platform, Living Tree, providing students, parents and teachers with a discussion forum related to projects, programs, celebrations and information. A new "tech lending" grant program will place 100 ipads on loan to students in the 8th grade to elementary.

Character Improvement Programs are being implemented as well: "A Peaceful School Bus" for intermediate and middle school kids and bus drivers, and "Coaching Boys to be Men", a program designed to stop bullying, inappropriate locker room behavior and to teach respectful treatment of women.

In his legislative Update, Conner expressed concerns over HB 243, the "Bus Stop Bill" currently before the legislature. This bill will require children riding the bus to be picked up on the side of the road where they reside. This bill, designed for the protection of students, also poses time and financial concerns for school districts as it essentially will double the time and expense as busses will literally run each route twice each morning and each evening.

Colmesneil ISD readies for athletics, New York trip

by Michael G. Maness

After convening the Colmesneil ISD board, Tuesday evening, Feb. 24, President Curtis Pittman deferred to Secretary Kenneth Adaway who led an invocation. Pittman led the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags.

A public meeting proceeded, for the record, in which Superintendent Angela Matterson gave an overview of the Texas Academic Performance Report, with many points to be congratulated. Several indexes showed CISD ahead of the Texas average. Notably, seven students had been tracked through their four-year college programs, and eight through their two-year college program. Two former CISD students just graduated from Texas A&M.

After the public meeting, Pittman led the board into its formal session and the quick approval of the consent agenda's financials and previous board meeting.

With a vigorous quick delivery, Heather Mitcham gave an overview of their next trip to New York City, departing May 18. She touted the trip's educational opportunities that has excited and enticed the students on this adventure in cultural discovery.

While four students have all their nearly $2,000 cost, others were working diligently. Many fund raisers are giving promise of a successful trip on the horizon. Matterson praised Mitcham's work, the work of several other staff and many parents. Matterson also emphasized how no student who had worked hard, in so many words, would be left behind. Teachers would come together to make sure any student wanting to go and working throughout the year would go.

Mitcham was thrilled and motivated. She recalled her tears at the 9/11 Memorial and at the Statue of Liberty that marked her first trip. She emphasized to the board that the Explore America team provided a first-class, accredited, and safe trip to the cultural mecca that is New York City. With guides and security, and a full itinerary, there would never be a time where the students would be alone without some adult. As if they were her own, she said, "We will take care of them."

Day one includes Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower, and the Empire State Building; day two, the 9/11 Memorial, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy, The Met, Central Park, Times Square and Broadway show; day three, the strawberry fields, tribute to John Lennon, Bethesda Fountain, Friedsam Memorial Carousel, and the NBC Studios. Then home, the students would take memories of the big-city life in one of the most important commercial centers in the history of the world.

Athletic Director Edd Trotter, who came to CISD last July, gave his "State of the Athletic Program Address," as he fondly referred. His determined and confident demeanor showed through his outline of the many parts of their expanding collection of programs. He was very proud of how hard the students had been working. His "Bigger, Faster, Stronger Program" was motivating students with individually tailored regimes to build each athlete's skill.

Changing some of the demands, he said, "I don't want them to get bored.... They have bought into the program."

They have almost 40 signed up for football and a daunting schedule planned. But he will not force the students. The students must want to excel. And it was clear Trotter was leading by example, unafraid to work and motivate and plan.

Their weight-lifting program will have to continue next year, as the demands of the competition have come to require that a school be part of a league. Trotter has been talking to Woodville, Warren, and others about forming a league of their own, and this seems to be coming together nicely.

Their track needs help. They will be looking at ways to seal the cracks and make due, until the gym is paid off in 2016 and more money freed.

In a full agenda, many other items were dealt with, including the CISD improvement plan, the TAPR that Matterson gave during the public presentation, and Legislative Update 101. Two items were postponed to the March board meeting, the finalizing of the school calendar and the Lake Tejas Plan of Action, pending some variables that were unfolding.

As part of school requirements and the law, the school has to publish its statistics on a range of violence and crime, rape and murder, even weapons and drug. Matterson was quick to note how they did not have the most serious of these, nothing to be seriously concerned with, being a country school after all, and how proud she was that the school was not on the target list of schools with high violence. Clearly, the board and administration were proud of their school and of the progress their good students were making in so many areas.

Spurger ISD meeting state standards

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger School Board held its regular meeting on Thursday, February 12 at 7 p.m. in the John Mooney Hicks Administrative building.

The board started off with a public hearing to discuss the annual performance report that is conducted each year. According to Superintendent Joe Fisher, the report said that Spurger ISD is doing everything the state is asking and is well within the guidelines and numbers that they look for.

"We are meeting standards," Fisher said. "We are doing a good job and don't have a problem with drop outs. Also, a large amount of our students go to college and about two-thirds of the ones who go, focus on a degree in science."

The board then began approving the consent agenda, which included approving the minutes from the previous meeting, budget amendments, additional transfer students and the business managers report. All were approved unanimously.

Next, the board was to hear a report for the Tax Appraisal District Representative but the representative was out of town for the meeting and the issue was tabled.

The board heard the elementary principal's report from Principal Kim Parker, who said that things are going great in the elementary and that students are gearing up for Spring testing.

The board also discussed withdrawals and entry's, and noticed a higher number of withdrawals than normal of about four students.

"That is a lot, but we have had several students that unfortunately passed away and some families have moved across country for work," Fisher said. "We haven't had anyone mad at the district and want to leave."

Next, the board approved an official letter of engagement with the attorney for the school district. The district is staying with the same attorney, but keeps an updated letter of engagement on file.

In the Superintendent's report, Fisher gave an update on the $850,000 building project that is going on at Spurger ISD, and reported that contracts of construction are in the process of being signed and dated. He also reported on the facilities improvement plan, which will focus on better lighting inside and out of the schools, switching to more efficient lighting, upgrading and adding parking lots and a remodel of the Minter gym and classrooms attached to it.