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Commissioners act on numerous items during Aug. 11 meeting

by Emily Waldrep

The Tyler County Commissioners Court held its monthly meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 11 at the County Courthouse, Room 101, to discuss agenda items pertaining to bidding, agreements, and equipment sales.

The court reported that there was a parcel of land in front of the Woodville Health and Rehab center that will be up for sale, so the court agreed to go out for bids to try and get the best price for the land instead of selling to one individual offer.

Commissioners also approved a Statement of Understanding between the Red Cross and Tyler County, agreeing that the Red Cross will come into the county during emergencies such as hurricanes to help with food, shelter and basic emergency management that will need to happen within the county during a natural disaster or emergency crisis.

Commissioners voted to join the National Joint Power Alliance, or NJPA, which is a free service that helps the city to assist the needs of clients who could be better provided by NPJA, which helps the city save money.

The Court also voted to sell a Waldon Master Sweeper II to Jasper County. The Sweeper was lightly used and no longer running, and was sold to Jasper for $500.00.

Next, commissioners solicited bids for work on the Tyler County Office Complex. Bids had previously been solicited, but came back too high, so they voted to send them back out.

Finally, Commissioners reviewed Tyler County Basic Plan Annexes covering shelter and mass care, law enforcement, recovery, utilities, human services and transportation. According to the court, these plans have to be updated every five years. The plans have to be sent to the state, approved, and sent back before they can be put in place.

Colmesneil completes transfer to Citizens Bank

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor Don Baird convened the Colmesneil City Council meeting at its regular time at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
After moving quickly through standard agenda items, and approving the joint agreement between Colmesneil and Tyler County for election contracting, they proceeded to the financials.

City Secretary Carrie Edwards reported that all monies had been transferred to new accounts at the new Colmesneil branch of Citizens State Bank.

Discussion ensued on how to spread their capital around, and the council approved a business saving account and two 12-month certificates of deposits. Other common options for cities, like TexPool, were not as viable now according to the expert advising the city, Edwards said.

Baird expressed a desire for the city to purchase more tables and chairs for their civic center, and Edwards reported that renting of the facility was in so many words steady. Some landscaping timbers were purchased, but their crews were waiting for the mowing season to stop before they installed them.

On July 31, Edwards participated in an Economic Development Seminar sponsored by Entergy. Entergy's customer service representative Sam R. Bethea organized this seminar to focus upon Entergy's "Texas Site Selection Center" (EntergySiteSelection.com) which was described by Bethea as a web-based site that "allows the user to input pertinent data about raw land, developed land and existing buildings which could be attractive to a business that is contemplating an expansion, re-location or development of a new site in our area." The training was planned to give those present hands-on instruction on how to add properties to the site. It was held in the computer lab of the Lamar Institute of Technology. For those interested, give Bethea a call at (409) 981-3805.

Woodville Council votes to extend EEP trial

by Emily Waldrep

The city of Woodville held its monthly City Council meeting at 6 p.m on August 11 at the city offices on West Bluff Street.

The Council voted on several items of business, including accepting a bid from Duplichain to do some sewage work on Hwy. 287; accepting Alexander, Langford and Heirs as the company to perform the yearly audit; moving the regular October city council meeting to Tuesday, October 14 due to Columbus day and renewing the election day policy with the Tyler County Clerk's office that allows them to handle the election for the city.

The Council also discussed some amendments to the personnel policy outline. According to the Woodville City Manager Mandy Risinger, the personnel policy needed updating due to some errors needing to be fixed and sections needing to be changed or added. Risinger said that the biggest changes in the policy are to the personal appearance section, regarding dress, hair and accessories for employees, as well as an added section that includes personal use of cellular devices and Internet for employees. The motion carried with one vote against the amendments.
Woodville Police Officer Jathan Borel asked the city to continue a three month trial of the EEP (Expanded Enforcement Program) for the Police Department. According to Borel, the EEP program, which allows additional officers who would normally be off-duty to participate in traffic control, has been in place for three months so far and has brought in an additional $10,000 a month in fines and fees. The board voted to approve to continue to EEP program for an additional 3 months so that they could continue to evaluate the numbers, and the benefit vs. cost of the program.

Council then heard reports from various city officials. Judge Judith Haney reported that in the month of July she dealt with 114 citations, 28 warrants and 24 capias's. There were 31 cases that were jailed for class C misdemeanors, 13 jailed for A and B misdemeanors and nine jailed for felonies. There was also one juvenile detention hearing and two public intoxication cases. She also mentioned the success of the summer youth program, hosted by the Woodville Police Department.

"The students had fun and learned a lot," Haney said.

Fire Chief Tommy Shane also reported that there were only seven calls in the month of July for the Fire Department, including only one house fire and one death.

The next city council meeting will be held on September 8.

Chester Council looks at records management

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor C. E. Lawrence convened a full Chester City Council meeting on Monday evening, Aug. 4.
On a significant follow-up from the previous meeting, Councilwoman Charlotte Barnes presented her contact with Records Consultants, Inc., about how to maintain the city's records. The discussion has been ongoing for several months and part of the reason for the proposed expansion of the city hall building. Barnes consulted with City of Woodville Manager Mandy Risinger. Impressed with Woodville's process, Barnes said Risinger was "so helpful," and doubt over the need for a building expansion began to brew. RCI would have a representative in the area in a few days, available for a free estimate, and the council concurred on the wisdom of exploring professional management. For the longest, the city had kept all records, and though it is complicated, adopting Texas' retention policy was becoming more and more attractive.
After approving the minutes from the previous meeting, the council was thankful it was able to sell its old tractor to Bob Humble. City Supervisor Dale Clamon was glad to report he had purchased a Scag Turf Tiger 61" mower from Rodney Smith at Timberland Supply in Woodville. Apparently some areas of city property will need to be grated to level it out, because of the crawfish mounds, which will happen in due time.

The council voted to order an election in November to accommodate those who have made themselves available to run for city council.

City Secretary Annette Hickman reported the need for several members to watch the training tape on open meetings required by Texas.

Some light-hearted banter ensued around Barnes' initiative with a few property owners around downtown to help improve the appearance. She reflected the desire and pride of the entire council for Chester to look as good as it can, and the council wholeheartedly applauded the progress she was making so soon upon becoming a board member.

The council voted to re-open the application process for some office help, to train under Hickman, with a salary based upon experience. All interested in part-time employment with Chester are encouraged to come by the Chester City Hall and get an application or call (936) 969-2360.

Spurger ISD Board studies needed budget increases

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger Independent School District held its monthly board meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 17, at the John Mooney Hicks Administration Building and discussed the budget.

The board reviewed a wish list of items requested by several areas of the school district. The list included toolboxes, a large dolly for mats, ply board, blinds in each classroom in the high school, various items for the baseball and softball fields, more funding for the athletic banquet, a new score board in the Minter Gym, a gym floor cover and baseball equipment upgrades.

"Baseball is a very expensive sport and we are not competitive in baseball, because for one, when you look at the bats that our boys are using, they are $50 bats which seems like a lot but every other school is using $200 bats and the ball is jumping off of it farther and its realistic," said Superintendent Joe Fisher. "Our bats are 2 or 3 years old and theirs are brand new. I know our catchers gear is really old and needs to be updated and that is probably $400-$500 dollars just in gear to protect the child. Then we need some bats and netting and things like that."

The board also expressed a need for a new car to transport a special needs child to Beaumont daily. The current car is older, but will still be used for workshops and smaller trips.

"The new car will pay for itself," Fisher said. "We get $2.56 per mile on the trip to Beaumont and back."

The board also discussed whether to include the $500 FLEX card given to employees in the previous school year, which helped pay for medical expenses or deductibles.

"The response the employees had thanking the board for that was incredible," said Connie Griffith. "I did not put it into the current budget, but it will cost the board about $34,000 to do that."

Fisher said that he would like to keep the FLEX card in place.

"We were not prepared for how well the card would be accepted," Fisher said. "I got thanks all year due to this card. It will pay for glasses, dental work, or prescription medications."

Fisher said that if the board approved the budget including the wish list, health care, cars and other additions that they would be adding $72,000 that would be taken out of the fund balance.

"That's a lot of money," Fisher said. "We are continuing to live on 20 year ago revenue and operate a 2014 school district and its not the same."

The board decided to not make a motion on the budget until looking at the wish list expenditures and cost of a new car.

In other business, the board approved Suburban Propane for their propane supplier and Sun Coast Resources as their fuel supplier.

The next meeting will be held on August 21 at 7 p.m.

Woodville ISD joins THPSC

by Emily Waldrep

Woodville School board held its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on July 21, in the Woodville ISD community room at 505 N. Charlton Street in Woodville, and discussed 2014 tax collections, board members continuing education and set a date to set the districts proposed budget and tax rate for the 2014-2015 school year.

According to the board, $66,000 has been collected in taxes for the month and approximately 85 percent of total taxes have been collected. The school is expecting a significant settle- up in September that will bring in the remaining taxes into the budget.

The board also set a date and time to hold a public hearing to discuss the districts proposed budget and tax rate for the 2014-2015 school year. After a short discussion, the hearing was set for August 28, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Next, the president of the board reported that every member of the Board of Trustees have all met their continuing education requirements, which means that board members are making a real effort to stay up to date on board policies and ethics.

In other business, the board approved a resolution that allowed Woodville ISD to join the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium as an Associate member.

"The year before last there was a group of schools asked to form the High Performance Schools Consortium," said Superintendent Glen Conner. "And they did, and the legislative body put it together; but recently, sort of cut the leg out from under it. The group is still together but they weren't given the flexibility that was initially thought to be put in place with this, such as different types of testing. Since then, the work has continued to end the high stakes testing."

The school will be joining a group of 23 school districts and 108 associate schools to develop high priority learning standards, use of multiple assessments to measure learning, integration of technology in student learning and the creation of a robust community accountability system.

The board voted to support the district in becoming an associate of the High Performance schools consortium so that the district can more effectively pursue their goals.
Conner also gave his report to the board.

"First off, the elementary restrooms are about 75 percent complete," Conner said. "We did a face lift on the restrooms up there and replaced some fixtures and wall board and it should be finished within the next couple of days."

Conner also reported that all of the main building, with the exception of a little bit of construction in the middle school, is finished with remodeling.

The only other thing left that needs to be attended to before school starts is a few road and pavement repairs around the district.

The next board meeting will be held on August 18 at 7 p.m.