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updated 8:30 PM UTC, Nov 15, 2018

Meetings

WISD Board discusses finance plan for improvements

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees acted to proceed with a finance plan to pay for the district-wide renovations that were approved in September.

The renovations will include putting a new roof on the high school building, HVAC replacement/repair and a district-wide installation of LED lighting, which will significantly decrease WISD’s energy costs.

The total cost for the projects comes to around $3.3 million. WISD Superintendent Glen Conner outlined the proposal for the phases of the project at the WISD board’s Monday, Oct. 15 meeting.

“Basically this is just a preliminary statement of what it will look like,” Conner said of the proposal to pay for the renovations.

Conner said the plan to finance consists of moving $1 million from the general fund balance, financing the rest with M&O tax revenue and potentially paying it off in 2020 pending a successful bond election for facility improvements. The plan will maintain the current tax rate as-is, Conner said.

Conner outlined the plan as Phase One of a two-phase project. The second is a proposed bond election.

Last month when the renovations were approved, the Board approved a contract for E3 Entegral Solutions to handle the renovations.

Campus Turnaround Plan cancelled
Karen Ford, WISD Director of Curriculum, addressed the trustees about the Turnaround Plan adopted by the district at the beginning of the year. Ford said the plan applied to WISD when it was in IR2 (Improvement Required, Year 2) status from TEA. “We are no longer in IR2,” Ford said.

Ford said WISD is already performing 75% of the turnaround plan and the existing 25% represents restructuring. She recommended to cancel the plan, as WISD is currently in a monitor state under TEA.

Other Business
Other items on the WISD Board agenda that were discussed and/or acted upon at its monthly meeting last Monday also included:
• The approval of GASB 54 Resolution which commits unassigned fund balances to building projects, field turf replacement and contingencies for the current fiscal year. WISD Business Manager Cody Jarrott spoke about this agenda item, which is done annually to assign dollar amounts to committed fund balances. WISD committed $3.2 million for construction, $200k for the field turf replacement and a $1.2 million reduction for contingencies, which was added to the construction fund. Jarrott noted the increase in the construction earmark from the previous year is needed for the upcoming renovations.
• The trustees approved the appointment of Woodville businessman and civic leader Gil Tubb as WISD’s representative to the Tyler County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
• Trustees voted to change the date of the Nov. meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees to Thursday, Nov. 15.
• The date of Monday, Nov. 12 was approved as the date to canvass the election returns for the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

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Branch appointed to fill Woodville City Council vacancy

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council approved the nomination and appointment of Herb Branch to fill a council vacancy at its meeting on Tuesday.

The position for alderman place 5 was opened when Byron Stowe resigned from the council last month. The term for the position ends in Nov. 2019.

Branch was one of three residents who volunteered to fill the position. Following an adjournment into executive session, councilmember Amy Bythewood motioned to nominate Branch for the seat on the council.

Bythewood said it has always been a policy of the city to not have an open seat so there are no problems meeting a quorum.

Councilmembers consulted with City Attorney Brad Elrod in closed session to discuss the eligibility of each applicant.

Prior to moving into executive session, a couple of Woodville residents voiced concern about the appointment and requested that council reconsider the nomination and appointment until after November’s election.

Sal Baldovinos, representing the Concerned Citizens of Tyler County, was the first to speak. “We feel that the right thing to do is to wait until after the election to make any new appointments,” Baldovinos said.

He said that with a new mayor and at least one new alderman taking office after the upcoming election, it would be in the best interest of any new city officials to be able to have their opinions heard concerning a nominee.

Baldovinos cited the controversy with East Texas Packing, LLC as a pertinent reason for the request. In June, council voted to pass a utility service agreement between the City of Woodville and the company. Despite an existing obligation to provide these services, the decision proved controversial with many Woodville residents.

Another resident, Barbara Smith, who is running for mayor of Woodville, spoke during the forum on the same topic. Smith voiced the same concerns as Baldovinos and also requested that the nomination and appointment be tabled until the election concludes.

“It’s only fair to all concerned that these newly elected members have input as to who that replacement would be,” she said.

“They’ll be the ones that have to work with the appointed member.”

Committee formed to negotiate interlocal agreement with TCSO

A committee was appointed and approved to review options for dispatch and jail service through an interlocal agreement between the city and the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office.

The agreement has been in place since 1999, according to City Administrator Mandy Risinger. It is renewed annually and recently Sheriff Bryan Weatherford approached the city to renegotiate.

The agreement currently costs $87,600 to the city and the proposed new amount is $143,970, according to Risinger.
The date to renew the agreement is Nov. 12. Councilmember Janice Weatherford recused herself from serving on the committee due to conflict of interest. She asked the same on behalf of Mayor Russ Nalley, who was absent from the meeting due to an accident.

The committee appointed consists of Risinger, Police Chief Scott Yosko and councilmembers Amy Bythewood and Joyce Wilson.

$2 million GLO grant application filed

Risinger said the city’s application for the 2017 flood grant was submitted to the Texas General Land Office. The grant amount is for $2 million with a $100K match. Risinger noted that the amount is a large one compared to the amount of grants that are usually awarded through DETCOG. “Disaster recovery grants go up based on what is allocated to our area, so a $2 million grant is a pretty big deal for us.”

She said the projects proposed, if the grant is awarded, are for streets and drainage, primarily on MLK and Cardinal and possibly other areas, contingent on funding.

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Ivanhoe holds town hall meeting to discuss coming bond election

 

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By Valerie Weber

IVANHOE – The City of Ivanhoe held a Town Hall Meeting at the Ivanhoe Community Center on Thursday, Oct. 4. The purpose was to discuss the upcoming $2 million Road Improvement Bond election. The meeting was also live-streamed on the “Ivanhoe Texas Community Watch” Facebook page. Attendees and viewers were encouraged to ask questions about the proposed Road Improvement Bond.

Mayor Cathy Bennett and a quorum of city council members were joined by Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette and Municipal Judge Judith Haney. Allen Sims of LJA Engineering was also in attendance to address questions were the drainage and road construction consultant, and the financial bond consultants Jim and James Gilley of US Capital Advisors were present.

The Road Improvement Bond was on the ballot this past May and lost by a narrow margin. Suggestions were solicited by Ivanhoe’s Public Works Coordinator David Marshall on how to address road improvement without funds from a bond sale. Several suggestions were received such as; let volunteers improve the roads, purchase Monarch Water Company and use the operation profits on the roads, and un-incorporate the city so that road maintenance would revert to Tyler County.

It was explained that the city cannot incur the liability for volunteers to maintain the roads because the potential for accidents or utility damage is too great, and there is no guarantee that volunteers could provide appropriately engineered roads. The idea to purchase Monarch Water Company was deemed infeasible because the company is not for sale and even if it were, it is estimated that the cost would far exceed the Road Improvement Bond cost. Blanchette confirmed Bennett’s assertion that un-incorporation of the city would not solve the issue because Texas transportation codes would require the roads to be improved to county standards before the county would assume responsibility. Tyler County Commissioner Martin Nash sent a letter to Bennett also confirming this answer.

If the city were un-incorporated, the funds available to improve the roads to county standards would be the Ivanhoe Property Owners Improvement Association funds, which would charge $6 per property annually. However, the IPOIA only receive those funds from approximately half of the property owners. Even if all the property owners paid their annual dues, the approximate annual total of $24,000 would not begin to address road improvements.

Bennett explained that the majority of the council concluded that a second Road Improvement Bond was needed. She said that the city cannot address road improvement in any other way, because the current budget and tax base is insufficient to maintain the 46 miles of roads inside the city. Additional research, planning and appropriate communication was needed to illustrate how essential the Road Improvement Bond is to address the deterioration of the existing main roads.

Bennett reported that in the past several months, an economic advisor called Veridus Group provided free services via a grant program to survey and report on the current status and potential improvements for the city. She read a section of a preliminary report from the survey, which stated that the city’s roads are in dire need of repair. The report compared Ivanhoe’s roads to those in developing countries. Bennett also noted that US Mail service has ceased on several roads due to the roads’ deteriorated condition and also mentioned a letter from Warren ISD complaining about the wear and tear their school buses receive on many of Ivanhoe’s roads.

Ivanhoe Councilman David Herrington presented a PowerPoint presentation which explained how the Road Improvement Bond would be implemented if passed. A major goal of the Road Improvement Bond is to ensure safe passage to the Ivanhoe Community Center, which is used as an emergency shelter and communications hub during emergencies, and to improve the common paths used for hurricane evacuation. This would address improvements to the main arterial roads through the center of the city, plus roads in the northeastern and central sections of the city.

Herrington added that another important reason to pass the Road Improvement Bond is that it makes Ivanhoe eligible for certain drainage and road improvement grants. Luckily the grants’ deadline has been extended to the end of this November. If the Bond passes, the City will submit for these grants which could in effect quadruple the original $2 million bond funding for drainage and road improvement work. If all the grants are approved, they would provide up to an additional $6 million. The Bond funds plus successful grant funds could result in a total of $8 million to improve most, if not all roads in the City. If the Road Improvement Bond is not passed, the city cannot apply for these grants.
Bennett noted that a distrust of city expenditures has been voiced by citizens in the past. She explained that a separate bank account for bond funds is a legal requirement to which Ivanhoe will adhere. She invited citizens to form an audit committee to review monthly road improvement expenditures from this separate account.

Another Ivanhoe Town Hall Meeting on the Road Improvement Bond is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, and all citizens are invited to attend with questions and comments. This Town Hall Meeting will also be live-streamed on Facebook. Citizens can find the proposed map and PowerPoint presentation as well as a question and answer section on the City’s website at www.cityofivanhoetx.com. Citizens can obtain hard copies of the presentation and question and answer section at the Ivanhoe City Hall, 870 Charmaine Drive East, or call 409-283-3299 or 409-429-6752 to have hard copies hand-delivered to their homes.

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Contract approved for infrastructure repairs at Woodville ISD campuses

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees voted to approve a contract for a project that will result in some infrastructure improvements across the district.

At its meeting on Monday, Sept. 17, the board approved a contract for E3 Entegral Solutions to repair the roof on the high school building and to handle district-wide HVAC and lighting replacement.

Jared McCurley of E3 gave a presentation to the trustees at their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 17. McCurley outlined what options WISD has in accordance to existing building codes. One option, which he called “extremely expensive and extremely invasive” is to tear the entire roof off and replace it along with the insulation. The other option involves a spray-on application of applied roof coating, which meets code requirements and is not considered a separate roofing system.

McCurley said the spray-on roofing material carries a 15-year warranty and will fix existing problems with the high school roof.

McCurley gave the trustees and WISD Superintendent Glen Conner a list of the work needing to be done across the district and outlined the HVAC equipment replacements and repairs needed, which include the replacement of two rooftop units and ground-level heat pumps.

The district-wide LED lighting replacement option outlined in McCurley’s presentation would result in a “large impact on utility costs as well as the environment,” he said. LEDs use 70% less electricity than fluorescent lighting, according to McCurley.

The total cost for the project is $3.29 million, with the roof repair costing $628,762; the HVAC work $2.33 million and the LED light replacement at $341,291.

Facilities use policy discussed

Conner brought the trustees up to date on discussion concerning the use of WISD facilities by different organizations and individuals.

Currently the policy is open as to how district facilities are used with few restrictions. Conner said that the use of the facilities is primarily designated for non-profit groups and activities and that in attempting to develop the policy, he has researched other districts’ local policies about facility usage. “My suggestion is we abide by [the current policy] for the time being,” he said.

Conner said that one district’s policy limited district facilities be used for activities that involve children of school-age only.

In his report later in the meeting Conner mentioned in a planned event in March at the Eagle Summit in celebration of Texas Independence Day. Jim Goodman, a local resident, is planning the event and trying to get Gov. Greg Abbott to appear. The event, which will include a barbecue cook-off and entertainment, is still in the planning stages but Goodman has secured the venue for the event and is in discussion with local and state leaders to participate.

Other business
• Trustees approved the purchase of a new 54-passenger bus with a lift. The total cost for the vehicle will be around $105K.
• Trustees approved the WISD District Goals for the 2018-19 school year. The new goals statement includes an emphasis on safety across the district.

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