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Colmesneil hears grant administrator on EDS Station

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor Don Baird convened the Colmesneil City Council Tuesday evening, Jan. 13, with a chamber full of guests and introduced David J. Waxman from the management firm by the same name based out of Jasper, Texas.

With Wizard’s hat on, David Waxman concluded his grant administration update on the EDS #7 Station in Colmesneil, willing to take any question with his arm around Mayor Don Baird.With Wizard’s hat on, David Waxman concluded his grant administration update on the EDS #7 Station in Colmesneil, willing to take any question with his arm around Mayor Don Baird.With the construction nearing completion, Waxman informed all present of the history, difficult process, and current state of affairs of the grant-funded Emergency Service District #7 Station, future home of the Colmesneil Volunteer Fire Department and other services. The final project cost is $443,445. Cost to the city? None, other than the time given at intervals by the mayor, staffers, and those on the volunteer emergency teams in conjunction with county officials.

With a little bit of humor and some tamed-down technical jargon, Waxman told the story in 50 minutes of an obviously long, complicated journey. From the $3.8 billion the feds offered to rebuild after Hurricane Ike in 2008, spread out among four DETCOG areas, Tyler County got $4.3 million in this latest grant.

As the grant administrator for all the projects in Tyler County, Waxman related in a phone call after the council meeting, that his job was to make sure all the professionals did what they were supposed to do. In addition to Colmesneil's EDS Station, there were nine other road projects in this particular grant, dubbed Ike-2 by Waxman. Tyler County had received several million for Hurricane Rita and Ike-1 grants.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall heartily supported Colmesneil's desire for a fire station. As Waxman administrated the grant under Government Land Office, the GLO maintained control of both the architect and the main contractor, Cox Construction. Overseeing multiple projects at the same time, making sure the local, state, and federal laws were followed, including fair-housing and environmental concerns, to "the price of tea in China," Waxman said. As though that was not hard enough, when the engineering firms or the GLO sent novices, Waxman had to cater and educate, encourage and even nurture, making sure that the contractors followed all the labor laws and technical specs set by the GLO's architect. Waxman had to wrestle or juggle or box, necessary, to keep the projects on target, and try to keep the cities' and county interests foremost.

Once underway, GLO oversight through Waxman prevented the county and city from much direct input over the project's actual work, which is an uncomfortable process for many. As strange as that might appear, and confusing to some residents, Waxman noted how some of those were normative struggles that come from federally-funded projects. In so many words, it was just a necessary part of getting the money, and to be thankful for in the long haul.

With no outlay from Colmesneil and only a relatively small sum from the county, Colmesneil will be getting a fully functional fire station with room for other emergency-based equipment. Colmesneil was the only entity, too, getting a fire station from the massive Ike disaster funds in all of East Texas.

Yes, several parts of the project could have been done cheaper, portions of the building made more efficient, and some portions constructed more cheaply. But as Waxman wisely illustrated with several anecdotes, it could not have been accomplished much cheaper under the myriad laws governing the use of federal funds. For instance, if the minimum requirements on specialist wages were not followed (plumbing, electrical, et al), that could require the feds to ask for their money back. No one wanted to give money back.

As far as Waxman was concerned, he seemed to be conscientious, perhaps to a fault, not appearing to let anything go unnoticed, not wishing a dime to be misspent or wasted. In all, Waxman has 5 percent of the money retained until the final "punch list" is accomplished, feeling confident that all could be completed in 30-40 days.

Baird was careful to encourage any and all present to ask any questions of Waxman they desired. There had been some criticism of the EDS project.

Long-time resident and frequent visitor to the council meetings, Katherine Deason said, "If any had a question, they should have been here."

The council seemed to reflect that Waxman had administered the project well and that the citizens and Colmesneil ESD members were rather proud to be at this stage of the project.

On the name of the EDS #7, should the county give their share in the building to the city, as Waxman said had been discussed – and seemed likely, given the usual nature of such agreements – then the city could rename the station anything they wished.
To lighten the air, and encourage further questions, Waxman pulled a blue Wizard's hat out of his briefcase and put it on his head. The hat had a gold crescent moon smiling embroidered on the top. A fitting end, with serious consideration, Waxman had been the wizard, of sorts, looking out after the best interests of the grant administration. After all, there were no more questions .... no other willing to challenge the wizard.

With a thanks to Waxman, Baird wished him and his wife well, and proceeded down the city's agenda, all items briskly approved.

Utility Director Keith Barnes reported that the renovation Well #4 was under way, but needed a higher capacity pump to maintain water supply during the project. The council quickly approved the $5,000 cost.

A very nice addition to the council chambers, City Secretary Carrie Edwards had procured new simulated leather high-back chairs and a new conference table, matching the already tasteful décor Edwards has long maintained.

Commissioners vote to display ‘In God We Trust’ in county courtroom

Members Ken Jobe, Sammie Brown and Mary Peninger from the Tyler County Adult Protective Services Board receive award for their efforts in Tyler County during 2013/2014.Members Ken Jobe, Sammie Brown and Mary Peninger from the Tyler County Adult Protective Services Board receive award for their efforts in Tyler County during 2013/2014.

by Kelli Barnes

Following the lead of commissioner's courts around the state, Tyler County Commissioners voted to pass a resolution in support of prominently displaying the national motto "In God We Trust" in the Tyler County commissioner's courtroom. The vote passed unanimously.

Three candidates are currently being considered for the county extension agent position recently vacated by Jennifer Page. Reappointed to the Tyler County Hospital Board are: Robert Allison, Jr., Billie Read and Tommy Weaver. Christina Hood was appointed as Chief Deputy Treasurer; and the Appraisal Review Board is seeking a new Tyler County representative, to replace Billy Rose who has reached his term limit.

The county sold property to Woodville Health Care LTD that includes parking spaces on North Beech and West Bluff, after the termination of a lease agreement between the two. The commissioners revisited this issue, voting on an amended contract excluding a portion of the parking lot owned by Tyler County Hospital, after it was discovered this piece of property was included in the survey.

Tyler County Hospital's director of Safety/Human Resource/Security, Ken Jobe, joined with other concerned citizens in the summer of 2013, to help restart activities for the Tyler County Adult Protective Services Board. During the first year, the Board provided continuing education, awarded individual citizens for their volunteerism, assisted clients with food items and also established and maintained a special room with staple items to help clients when they have a need. Jobe, along with board members Sammie Brown and Mary Peninger, shared the award with commissioner's court and also expressed their commitment to being an award winning APS board each year.

Chester City Council welcomes Floyd Petri

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor C. E. Lawrence convened the Chester City Council at their regular time of 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 1.

New to the council, Floyd Petri seemed to be coming back home, having served on the Chester council before and coming with a long resume in public service. Lawrence and Petri were chatting as all arrived, as City Secretary Annette Hickman had sworn him and the mayor in earlier. Petri had served over a decade as a special agent for the U.S. Army, and he is a retired chief of police. In the early 1970s he served as a Tyler County Sheriff's deputy, which is the short story of his long and varied career in law enforcement that included some special details involving protecting high level U.S. government officials.

After the council passed some standard items on the previous minutes and the financial statements, a lively discussion ensued on the process of hiring some part-time help to cover the city office. The discussion included a broad range of options as the city strove to be competitive and debate insurance and retirement options. Several applications were looked at with great interest, and it was decided they needed to hold off until the new year before moving on with someone.

Councilwoman Charlotte Barnes received a package from RCI, that turned out to be the finalized agreement on the city's records retention plan and RCI's billing and a notebook of the processes. This will free up significant space and bring the city into compliance with the Texas records laws once complete, the result of nearly a year of study and negotiations.
The council adjourned in good spirits ready for the Christmas season.

Ivanhoe Council welcomes new members, takes action on Dam re-caulking

by Emily Waldrep

The regular monthly meeting was called to order at the Ivanhoe Community Center by Mayor Bennett at 6:08 p.m. All Council members were present.

Councilman Gremillion nominated Mayor Pro-tem Tommy Morris to continue serving as Mayor Pro-tem for an additional year. No other nominations were submitted. Mayor Bennett asked Councilman Morris if he was willing to serve in the capacity as Mayor Pro-tem. Councilman Morris said that he was. Council unanimously approved for Councilman Morris to serve as Mayor Pro-tem.

Councilman Morris then made a motion to change the signatory card with the depository for the city checking accounts to match the new council members and mayors names after election. Charles Jack Brockhouse, Tom Welch and David Baier were removed and Catherine R. Bennett, LeAnn Freeman McNulty and John Galbreath were added.

Supervisor of Dams Rusty Harriso, then updated the council on the dams. Harrison said he has noticed that nine of the drainage holes on Galahad Dam have been "weeping" since the lake refilled. The water is not flowing from the drain holes, but there is enough water present that he is concerned about flow-through from the lake, and he will continue to monitor the drain holes. For Charmaine Dam, he noticed a fairly heavy boil at the bottom of the spillway and a smaller boil about 10 feet separate from the large boil. Harrison also presented the proposal that had been received from Chance Construction for the re-caulking of Charmaine and Galahad Dams. He questioned the Council regarding whether the project should be started now or wait until spring. Following a discussion, Councilman Galbreath motioned to accept the proposal from Chance Construction and develop a contract for the re-caulking project to commence after the first of the year. The motion passed unanimously.

In the monthly security report, Councilman Morris reported that compared to 34 deputy responses in September, October had 47 law enforcement calls. Ten of the calls were considered as serious, such as burglary or assault.

In a report on the streets, Councilman Priddy reported the city has started the project of placing clay base and covering with cement washout at 12 locations identified as most prone to being slick during a rain. The project will have at least 28 loads of washout spread. He said he anticipates considerably more washout being placed later in the budget year. He concluded his report summarizing that all the paved streets are deteriorating faster than funds are available to properly maintain them. Councilman Priddy requested Council to call a workshop session to discuss the condition of streets in the city, and future maintenance of the streets. Following discussion of schedules, Councilman Priddy made the motion to have the workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.

In other business, Councilwoman McNulty and Councilman Galbreath verbally resigned from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) as a result of being elected to Council. Councilman Morris then motioned to provide a sign-up sheet at city hall for the two vacant positions on the ZBA until 4 p.m. on December 10.

At the close of the meeting, Councilman Priddy welcomed the new members to City Council. Mayor Bennett acknowledged the 4 years of service to the City provided by outgoing Mayor Brockhouse. Although Mayor Brockhouse was not in attendance, the audience applauded as she thanked Mayor Brockhouse for his work. Councilman Morris voiced a welcome to the new members on Council, that they might not always agree on issues before the Council, but they could have more discussion on those matters.

Colmesneil ISD financial audit excellent

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil ISD board President Curtis Pittman convened their regular meeting Tuesday night, 7 p.m., Nov. 18. Board Secretary Kenneth Adaway led the invocation, and Pittman led in the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags.

Several house-keeping items for the new year included the financial audit, emergency plan, standard operating procedures, CISD goals, a technology plan, and investment policy.

After approving the previous minutes and financials, CISD business manager Jina May introduced Dan Raney of the accounting firm Goff & Herrington of Lufkin who presented their 52-page audit. In the required items by the state and feds, there were no findings in any category. In the final accounting, the audit read that "we did not identify any deficiencies in internal control." Furthermore, Raney said, "As always, Jina had everything in order – just a joy."

Regarding the goals that Superintendent Angela Matterson and the board worked up and approved for the 2014-15 school year, all contained specific "evidence of attainment." The goals included staff development and college preparation for the students. The district will continue to communicate with the students and parents on graduation. The CISD believes that "a well-rounded education encourages the development of problem solving skills, a positive attitude, self-confidence, adaptability, team building, and a strong work ethic." Committed to high academic achievement, they will increase AP testing and college readiness exams like SAT, ACT and PSAT. And technology will be on the forefront all the way.

Matterson and May were designated the investment officers for CISD.

Elementary School Principal Yvette Carlton reported on several activities, very proud of the students' progress. On Friday the 21st, pilgrims and Indians will arrive and lead the children through several hands-on activities designed to combine fun with history in order to teach the children the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

Junior and High School Principal Walter McAlpin reported on how well their Ag class was doing, coming in 5th among 110 schools, and going to state. Though there were several students that will be encountering truancy charges, the over-all attendance was doing very well.

After Pittman gave an estimate on the repairs to the Lake Tejas rent house, about $10,000 worth, a lively discussion ensued between the board members, Pittman, Matterson and McAlpin on how they might use the repairs as a learning experience for their students, working a way for them to gain both credit and experience in the building trades. McAlpin will be working up a plan to present to the board in the next month or two.

Matterson reported on the school's plan to take advantage of health checks for all of its students and teachers.

Pittman brought forth an earlier item on the agenda, to close the meeting, that entailed a recap of the school board re-election of Adaway (370), Kris Lindsey (246) and Danny Brown (241). Superintendent secretary Robyn Bass administered the oath of office for all three that included their pledges to protect and defend U.S. Constitution and laws.

The board adjourned in good spirits, thankful for its leadership and students, especially grateful for the students' work on their Veterans Day celebration.

Colmesneil nears completion of Emergency Services Building

Fire-Dept-Colmesneil

by Michael G. Maness

The City of Colmesneil city council was convened by Mayor Don Baird at its regular meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m.

After the regular agenda items of the financial, office, water and sewer reports were approved, the council proceeded with several discussions.

Baird said the completion of the Emergency Services District #7 Building had been delayed, but that "This is just part of it. We want to do it right." This will house the local volunteer fire department and other emergency related equipment as the city finds grants, monies, and works with the county emergency services. City Secretary Carrie Edwards added, "Asphalt surfacing was laid last week and the building is looking better and better."

Baird also was happy to report the old County Market is being renovated and will be opening as Graham's Grill and Grocery – a welcome addition to the community.

Edwards noted that the probationary period for part-time employee Linda Bailer was up, and Edwards was happy to have her working for the city.

The council ended their meeting with an overview of the Homecoming festivities that were planned to include a bonfire, parade, pep rally, a queen's coronation, and a homecoming game.

The council adjourned quite proud of the developments and activities on the immediate horizon.