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Woodville Council hears report on water well

The city of Woodville held its monthly city meeting at 6 p.m. on September 8 in the city offices.

Council accepted the previous minutes and the monthly financial statement, as well as revieweing and approving the budget, which all members were in favor of.

Council also approved ordinance number 20140908, that will levy the tax rate for the city of Woodville for the fiscal year of 2014. The board reported that tax payers will not experience any tax increases with this rate.

Woodville City Administrator Risinger reported that city offices would be closed October 14 for Columbus day, and that the monthly meeting would be moved the October 15, which is a Tuesday. Risinger also reported that the work with Grant 1122 is complete. The city was able to replace an additional sewer line on Pine Street and most of that line has been completed, she said. The city is also awaiting approval to drill water plants near Pine Street from TCEQ, and engineers will begin working on bid packets for that project to be presented at the October meeting.

Risinger told Council that several cleanup letters were sent to dilapidated homes and buildings in the city. According to Risinger, the city has an ordinance against junked cars, tall grass, and general dilapidated and old buildings. The cleanup letters are handed out on a complaint basis each month.

Risinger also reported on the recent water well issues. The broken pump that caused Woodville to have an emergency water shortage in the month of September was able to receive a temporary pump and pipe and the first phase of repair is underway. The broken pump owned by the city is being sent to Houston for evaluation. After that evaluation is completed, the city will know if they can repair and use the existing pump or will need to purchase a new pump, and cost estimates are not available for the project at that time.

Risinger said that restrictions on city water have been temporarily lifted for non-essential water use. The restriction is lifted for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. only and houses with odd numbered addresses can use water on odd days and even number houses can use water on even days.

Judge Haney also made a report to the board, and said that municipal court had 197 citations, 23 class C warrants and 49 Capias issued during the month of August. The Tyler County Justice center also had 47 instanter class C's, 10 A and B misdemeanors', and 10 felonies. A total of $21,110 was deposited from payment of fines and citation.

Police Chief Yosko addressed the council and reported that the department had one of the smoothest transitions from summer to the school year in 15 years and that the number of motorist parking incorrectly or blocking drives were kept to a minimum.

Yosko also reported that one police car experienced an engine problem, but the repair was able to be covered at a very low cost under the 100,000 mile vehicle warranty.

Fire Chief Tommy Shane reported that August was a good month for the fire department, and that there were no house fires, one grass fire that used 4,550 gallons of water, and five miscellaneous calls.

The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at the city offices.

Spurger ISD Board discusses student handbook updates

by Emily Waldrep

The Spurger ISD school board held its monthly board meeting in August and discussed the student handbook and various beginning-of-school agenda items.

Superintendent Joe Fisher advised the board that there were some issues with the current handbook and that changes would need to be made to the student and teacher handbook. It needs to be updated and some changes would need to be made. Some of the changes discussed were updating sections about facial hair, tattoos and the dress code.

"You can't discriminate against somebody for having a tattoo on their hand or leg or foot and make them cover it up," said board member Chris Sheffield. "We are too primitive for that. I don't think its right for us to do that."

The board agreed that they felt some sections of the handbook were sending a double standard between teachers and students, and that the board needed to agree as a group on those sections of the handbook.

"We need to lighten it up and release some of the strangle-holds," said a board member. "But we have a conflict between the student and the professional handbook."

The discussion over the handbook will continue throughout the school year.

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" ( 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.