The Chester City Council voted to join about twelve other cities to fight a proposed hike in gas prices at its Monday evening meeting, April 6.
Mayor C.E. Lawrence convened the council with a nearly full quorum. After reading and approval of the minutes to the previous meeting, ample consideration was given the proposed hike in gas prices that is being sought by Gulf South Pipeline System.
Magnum Gas, from whom Chester and about twelve other municipalities get their gas, has taken the lead to fight this. Some jokes were shared, but the seriousness of this brought many fears. The actual proposal by GSPS was a 267.9 percent hike! Shocking. As some council members and Lawrence commented, from their own oil and gas experiences, it was clear that GSPS will be asking for "their" price, knowing they will not get it and knowing they will likely get something. Kind of like shooting for a star and settling with the moon, and without much concern for the smaller companies.
Councilwoman Gail Williams said, "Even a ten percent hike would too much."
The council voted to join the other cities and pay their apportioned legal cost. Divided by the amount of usage among the cities joining, those using more pay more, Chester's share was estimated between $500 and $1,000 depending upon how hard the coalition has to fight.
Chester is solvent. A lively debate ensued on recent reallocations of savings. The city was able to make a little more off some CDs in Woodville and at the same time reduce risk by lowering its combined deposits in Chester below the FDIC insured cap of $250,000. Though there had been some discussion in previous meetings, the move caught the council by a bit of a surprise. As Lawrence advised, the move was made in good faith. As they chatted about options, percentiles, withdrawal penalties, consolidation, FDIC caps, long- versus short-terms gains, and, of course, what the advisers had suggested at the financial clinics for city officers, a few things became clear.
They voted to move a sizable sum back to Chester, and they will look at consolidation of some of the CDs they were maintaining for the city and the Chester Gas Company. And in bringing some back, they will free up a little to help fix the park and other things. One of the other things made clear was that each man and woman and employee was looking steadfastly after the best interests of the city's security and protecting its investment. This good sign was far above those cities that had to debate debt and credit ratings. On this spring day, they debated clear and solid solvency issues, something many larger cities could only dream about.
Judge Judtith Haney, during the March Woodville City Council Meeting, credited the information published in The Booster about last month's City Council Meeting with contributing directly to the reduction in local school zone speeding violations from 40 last month to 12 in February. That's Good News!
Revenues for the city have exceeded expenditures according to City Auditor Richard Rudel's audit report which was accepted by the City Council at the meeting. Other reports included information about possible additional DETCOG funds for hurricane assistance and progress being made on the water system installation.
Police Chief Scott Yosko reported an increase in evading arrest offenses along with a disturbing rise in assault offenses resulting from drug users ramping up the use of formaldehyde with drugs to create a "higher high". This is a very dangerous practice with potential death to abusers and those around them.
A 6-10 week program to increase awareness in youth of the dangerous consequences of drug use is beginning soon. The message of the program is clear; those who abuse drugs will abuse you, especially by getting you hooked so you will become their customer and support their habit. In other words, drug abusers have a hidden agenda and that agenda is getting you hooked to get your money.
Upcoming items of interest in Tyler County mentioned at the meeting include weekend events surrounding the Dogwood Festival, Festival of the Arts, Western Weekend, and Relay for Life, April 24.
Colmesneil ISD board discussed several initiatives that challenged their students to excel at their Tuesday evening meeting, Mar. 17.
Greeting the board was a box of green cookies in remembrance of St. Patrick's Day, and Superintendent Angela Matterson gave each a green magnetic paper holder.
President Curtis Pitman convened the board, deferred to Kenneth Adaway who led the invocation, and then Pitman led in the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags.
After the board approved the minutes of the previous meeting and the financials, Matterson gave an overview of the proposed school calendar. She had involved the teachers in setting the optional work and professional development days.
The board approved the Instructional Materials Allotment and TEKS Certification. Matterson noted how the largest publishers courted Texas and California, the two largest school book purchasers. A cycle of sorts runs from legislative session to the next, where Texas might go a few years without buying many new books. Leaning on the teachers, Matterson took seriously their input on which texts to choose. Some of the examples had Texas emblems on the covers, all the more to curry favor with Texas decision makers. This approval was the first step to getting the teachers the new examples from which to choose.
Elementary school Principal Yvette Carlton gave high praise for their open house that has always been well attended. Librarian Leslie Williams and her students created with themes from nature that impressed all—so creative were the children.
The kids were challenged by the Woodville Animal Shelter's "Paws For A Cause" to help raise items like old sheets, towels, small cat toys, puppy pads, trash bags, doggy and kitty food, and other consumables always in need. Carlton continued to praise their Pre-K program, noting that they had six new children, making that 27 for this year.
A not-so-new teacher was welcomed back out of retirement to temporarily fill a vacancy in first-grade teaching. Dana Knight was helping out while the regular teacher was off, and some excitement followed given some of the fancy vehicles she was known to sport.
Matterson interjected pride in how the school handled the recent accident and fatality that hit Colmesneil last week, blocking traffic and causing some delay. The kitchen supplied breakfast, among other things, and even HS Principal Walter McAlpin drove a bus route. They came together without a hitch, which – Matterson emphasized – helped the children remain calm, especially those who witnessed the horrible accident scene on the way into school. A measured calm and team effort led the morning crisis to smoothly evolve into a rather normal day. McAlpin reported how the softball team looked like it was going to district. He was proud of the agriculture trailer that the students had made and already sold. Coming up soon at the end of March, the Ag Mechanics Project show at the Houston Livestock Show was always a highlight of the year. He stressed how impressive this has always been and will be this year, too.
Matterson reported on their long negotiations with the Texas Commission on Environment Quality and TxDOT over the dam at Lake Tejas. Pittman and member Kris Lindsey, with Commissioner Mike Marshal, worked with Matterson as they negotiated and determined precisely the responsibilities of each.
Essentially, Colmesneil ISD owns the dam and water, and the state owns the road easement. Matterson was already working on the plan to repair the dam that will need TCEQ's and TxDOT's approvals, and Marshal, who has been a great supporter, has given help in what will be the next priority. The culvert will need to be replaced, and the board was leaning to a concrete one about six feet wide and fifty feet long. Hopefully, they will find a donor, but regardless, this was going to come about in the near future.
The schools cheerleading team was coming together, but only as their academics kept pace. The students who succeed in mastering the dance sequences will be rewarded with of being on the team, and the opportunity to be encouragers to their team mates, family and citizens.
The band program was in a pinch, with Catherine Gramlich's recent delivery of her child, but this program was too important for non-specialist substitutes to handle. As rough as it might seem, Matterson mentioned how it would be better to suspend it than to have sub-standard music lessons, only to force the kids to have to relearn things again when Gramlich returned. Again, not to worry, as Matterson will be pulling duty, herself a musician, as will board member Kenneth Graham, Pam Bruton and Teresa Patrick will be teaming up to keep the band going, all them with experience in music and band. "Kids are first," Matterson said. With all these volunteering, that will also save the school money.
The WIS School Board met Monday, March 16, in the elementary library to accommodate the expected guests and parents who attended to recognize outstanding student athletes. Coach Mike Waldie introduced each student and shared personal stories about each young man as they stood with him to be recognized. Superintendent Glen Conner congratulated each one, and expressed his personal and board appreciation to the parents for the support they provide for their students. Specifically he mentioned parental supervision in seeing homework assignments are completed, preparing breakfast and supporting their sons in their educational and athletic achievements. He called such parental support a "value commodity", and mentioned that all kids in school do not get this kind of support from home and how important it is in the successful education and academic lives of students.
Shown in the photo, left to right, are Markalin Merchant: Football, Wide Receiver, Honorable Mention Academic All-State; Coach Waldie; Jacob Watts: Football, Wide Receiver, Honorable Mention Academic All-State; Riley Shaw: Football, Defensive Line, 1st Team Academic All-State; In front, Trey Dear, Regional Power Lifting Champion, State Qualifier.
Other student names presented by Superintendent Conner for recognition by the board are :
District 22-3A All District Selections for Girl's Basketball: Kenzie McGallion, 1st Team All District; Bethany Mitchell, 2nd Team All District,; Katie Crenshaw, 2nd Team, All District; Jasmine Douglas, New Comer of the Year.
District 2213A All District Selectons Boy's Basketball: Christian Williams, Newcomer; Chris Castle, 1st. Team: Jamal Horn, 1st. Team; Marqui Jackson, 1st Team; Ashton Lockhart, 2nd Team; and Julius Midkiff, 2nd. Team.
Additional business before the board included financial reports, construction updates, and upcoming summer training opportunity for board members. The school calendar on the WISD website is updated regularly to reflect dates of activities and the proposed 2015-16 school start date. Starting dates for schools may undergo changes which will be posted to the website.
An innovative career and education technology initiative for area students, using "Carl Perkins" grant funds, is planned with WISD and area county schools collaborating. Each district will offer one class per semester at their location for students from all schools to attend.
The next regularly scheduled WISD school board meeting will be held at 7 PM on April 20, 2015, at the Middle School Library.
On Monday night, Mar. 16, Chester ISD Superintendent Wayne Ivey led the open session to in a public hearing. The Texas Education Agency school report card indicated Chester excelled in several categories. On attendance, Chester was at 96.8 percent compared to the state average of 95.8 percent. Class size for the elementary school was lower than the state average in all grades. It costs only $5,375 per student in Chester, $3,000 less than the state average and $4,000 less than the district average. In reading, their 81 percent bested the state average of 76 percent in 2014. There were other results below the state average, but all in all the report showed the school was in good shape. Board member Sheryl Barnes noted how their low number of students more radically affected their percentages compared to huge school districts. Other members felt the same. Ivey said that such meant that "every student truly counts in Chester." ISD President Ray McKnight convened the formal meeting, and he himself led in prayer, and then all said the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags. Citizen Chuck Davidson had signed up to speak and give a short presentation on the Tyler County Tour, Mar. 21, that would include visits to the Peach Tree Village, Cauble House and cemetery, and the Collier Store in Chester, Beech Creek Baptist in Spurger, and a book signing by Dr. Abernathy at the Heritage Village. The board approved the minutes from the previous meeting and the financials. Two donations were approved, a $500 matching grant from Shell courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Davidson and the Athletic Booster Club's $985. Both will go into the general fund to help with school programs. Ivey gave an extensive look at the legislative initiatives currently working their way through the Texas legislature. Several bills were in the works regarding the funding of pre-K initiatives in schools, something welcome to schools like Chester that put together pre-K programs with citizen- and grant-funded monies. Several bills were in committee on the various student assessments. Dist. Rep. Dr. James White sponsored several education bills, including HB 810 that will school districts to employ career-educated persons without teaching certificates for classes like nursing and welding. If the person had the credentials, that will the schools to benefit from the experience of professional trades persons without also forcing those to go through the laborious process of certification, something not many retired persons desire to do. SB 6 by Dist. Rep Gary VanDeaver would put all Texas schools under federal guidelines alone. Several bills are addressing truancy and a few are relaxing some penalties deemed too severe.
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.