Woodville City Council approves application for Police Body Camera grant

by Jim Powers

Woodville City Council Monday approved a request from Woodville Police Chief Scott Yosko to apply for a matching grant to equip Woodville Police officers with body worn cameras. The grant requires a 25 percent match, which would amount to between $8,000 and $9,000. Woodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger said that there is sufficient money in the department's capitol account to cover the match; but, the application is the start of the process and the money would actually come from next year's budget.

Risinger had several reports for Council, including a reminder that the first day to apply for candidacy for the November election is July.

A disaster recovery grant for the water well at the Industrial Park is underway, Risinger said. The well driller has completed his portion of the job, and the waterline tie-in is underway. The project is nearing conclusion.

Risinger also reported on the attempt to get recovery funds for culvert damage that happened during the March 10 flooding at MLK and Shivers, Barlow Hill Road and Beach Street and Holland. There is a new project manager, and everything is in the works to obtain funding to make those repairs. Several other disaster related grants are also in the works.

Risinger also explained that after a lapse of four years, because of a change in the way Community Development Block Grants were handled, the City is again in an advantageous position to obtain the grant. The City's last CDBG funded grant was in 2011-2012. The City has used these grants for infrastructure in the past. Water and sewer projects have been. She said that a Public Hearing would be held in the future to consider what project to pursue and give the public opportunity to comment.

In other action, the Mayor appointed Councilmen Lee Mann and Byron Lowe to represent the City on the budget committee.

WISD Board Meeting recognizes STAR 2016 Honor Graduates

by Darby Kethan

The packed community room Thursday, May 19, on the WISD elementary campus was a wonderful recognition of the 2016 Honor Graduates, UIL One Act Play State Qualifying Cast and Crew, HOSA National qualifier, and State and State Track and Field Qualifier and STAR (Superintendents Team for Academic Recognition) students.

Following the presentation of certificates to the students, Board President Tony Castillo recognized and thanked the parents for their support of students, transporting to and from practices, and expressed the school's appreciation of the efforts made in behalf of the students and recognized the instructional staff and teachers for supporting kids.

Sergio Ramos, who is completing 50 years in education in Woodville, recognized tennis team members and expressed his pride in the students and appreciation to the assistant coach who stepped in to continue supporting the team members during Ramos' recent illness and recovery.

Superintendent Conner expressed appreciation to the WISD Board for recognizing the students and expressed appreciation to a motivated instructional staff and parents for the support they provide for students.

Financial reports for the month ending April 30 were presented and approved by all board members.

The approval of a purchase of a new 77 passenger bus, part of a yearly purchase plan in which one bus is retired as a new one is bought, was brought before the board. Board member Dingler questioned whether the bus would be equipped with seat belts or not. Superintendent Conner responded that choosing seatbelts would be a board decision. Discussion included questions about how much to fit the new bus with seatbelts ($10,000) and the expense to retrofit currently owned busses ($25,000, each). Assistant Superintendent Jarrott said that statistically, bus accidents are rare. Other concerns expressed also included if one bus only were equipped, which students would ride that, (the newest bus is considered a "trip bus", used for out of town trips), and concerns about extricating students who were in belts in case of accident. The bus purchase, no seat belts, was approved by all.

The board was asked to approve a Full Day Pre-kindergarten Program for Woodville ISD 2016-17 school year. Superintendent Conner suggested a cap on 50 students for full day with students first coming from eligible Pre K students, ESL students, and then others, as space allows. The school will receive a $25,600 High Quality PreK Grant funding which may be used on additional personnel, classroom supplies and training.

Board member Shaw expressed concerns he had received from the community about the PreK full day program regarding the student/certified teacher ratio, how much and what kind of training the staff will receive for the implementation of the new program, the time frame for the training and the transportation arrangements for students. Laura Willis, Curriculum Coordinator responded to the concerns. Approval of Full Day Pre-kindergarten Program passed by a majority of 5-1, Mr. Shaw voting against.

The Superintendent's report included summer maintenance work and storm damage repairs. STAAR testing early results look good despite a spate of problems that created testing issues, such as computer glitches, and missing answer choices for multiple choice questions.

Seven district Instructional grants have been awarded for innovative technology programs for the upcoming school year and the request for funding for the PreK grant has been approved. Conner was questioned regarding the issue of transgender bathroom facilities and he stated that those needing such a facility will be appropriately accommodated.

Project Graduation '17 is being considered with a volunteer from the community to head up the program. This program has been successful here in the past but has not been held for several years and will be a welcome addition.

Students help City of Colmesneil spring clean

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil City Council was thankful to their good CISD students who helped with the city's beautification project late last month on Feb. 22, and more is planned. The city was thankful to Pineywoods Sanitation for the roll-off dumpster, and they will be providing another for car tire recycling, the city charging only $1 for each tire received.

Mayor Don Baird convened the city council at its regular time with a quorum on Tuesday evening, Mar. 8. Councilman Bubba Sheffield led the invocation.

After approving the minutes from the previous meeting, the council heard a brief overview by City Secretary Carrie Edwards on the Texas Municipal Retirement System's City Portal Use Agreement, copies of which were also supplied to each council member. In essence, the TMRS agreement stipulated how Edwards will be granted access for city business and gave legal responsibilities between the city and TMRS in boilerplate for the protection of the TMRS and the city.
The financials and water and sewer reports were approved without comment.

The office report included the attendance of Mayor Baird, councilman Billy Andrus and wife Sharon, Carrie and Todd Edwards and new city employee Dakota Pentecost to the annual Tyler County Chamber of Commerce banquet. This year it was organized by Edwards, the current president of the chamber.

On Feb. 26, Baird, Andrus and Edwards attended a TML Webinar on the concealed carry laws and how posting vs. not posting a prohibition may affect the city. The city decided to take no action, confident their current practices were sufficient.

On March 17-19, more clean up and tire recycling will be available at the city, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday.

WISD Bond election passes with one dissenting vote

by Kelli Barnes

In February, the Booster printed a superintendent's report from Woodville ISD. In the report, it states that Woodville ISD Board members approved a Bond election, to be held May 7. At that time, voters will be asked to decide on a fund to raise $30 million dollars for improvements to all Woodville ISD campuses. The fund would also include the construction of new baseball fields and softball fields.

The report did not mention that fact that one school board member, Richard Shaw, opposed the Bond election. Shaw's complete remarks on the subject can be found in 'Readers Speak' on page 5A in this issue.

Superintendent Glen Conner told the Booster Tuesday, "The bond will fund a new high school, make improvements to all campuses, add technological capabilities, improve security, address maintenance issues and plumbing issues, and also include construction of new ball fields. We will hold public meetings during the month of April, to present more information and answer any questions."

The Booster will print dates of the upcoming meetings as soon as they are scheduled.

Voters will have the last say on May 7, when they go to the poles to approve or deny the bond. The next meeting for Woodville ISD school board will be March 21.

Commissioners seek additional legal council for county affairs

By Kelli Barnes

In a four to one vote, commissioners approved putting attorney David B. Brooks on retainer for $100 per month effective immediately. According to commissioner Jack Walston, Brooks is council for several other counties and effectively fields important legal questions for commissioners and county judges. "This gives us another tool to use when we face important questions concerning county government that need answering immediately," said Walston. In addition to providing legal council to 40 other Texas counties, Brooks is an assistant Harris county attorney and has written several books on county law." Commissioner Mike Marshall opposed the appointment stating, "We have a DA (Lou Ann Cloy) that takes care of this for us – I do not feel it is necessary to hire someone else."

Commissioners voted to begin seeking bids for all types of petroleum products for the county and also all types of road materials for the county. Inquiries can be made at the Commissioner's office.

Former Bastrop county judge Ronnie McDonald, who now represents the Texas Rural Leadership Program from Texas A&M AgrLiife Extention, made a presentation to the court about the possibility of a partnership between Tyler County and the program. The grant program is funded through AgriLife and requires 15 to 20 community members who set a goal for a county improvement project, and work through the process to completion. The cost for other counties has been in the $20-$30 thousand dollar range, according to Judge Jacques Blanchette, but McDonald assured the court that cost should not be an issue and Texas AgriLife will help with any costs. "We will come in and do training, pick a project that will benefit the county, and work on it together," said McDonald. County Judge Blanchette said, "This is the first of many conversations we will have on this."

Casey Gay was in court, as a representative of the Tyler County Red Cross team, as commissioners proclaimed March as Red Cross month in Tyler County.

Paul Erwin resigned his post as ESD #6 representative for Tyler County. Commissioner Walston recommended the appointment of Raymond Holland to fill the vacant position and it was approved.

Commissioners approved the sale of a 2003 Ford F150 pickup truck to ESD #2 at fair market value. In other business, they approved an interlocal agreement with Colmesneil ISD and the City of Colmesneil, approved standard budget line item transfers, approved minutes from two previous meetings, approved a bond for the Tax Assessor Collector, and approved the lease of a new copier for the District Clerks office.

The next meeting will be Thursday, March 24 at 8: 30 a.m.

Colmesneil aces performance report

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil ISD's performance not only met all the standards but exceeded most in the Texas Academic Performance Report approved by the CISD board Thursday evening, Feb. 25.

President Curtis Pittman opened the public hearing on the TARP report, with no guests present and a quorum, and then convened the board. Board Member Kenneth Adaway led the invocation, and Pittman led the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags.
First on the agenda, Pittman gave a mandatory report on board members' compliance in training. Several, including Pittman himself, had exceeded requirements, and a few still have to November to meet the minimum hours.

The school calendar was presented by Superintendent Angela Matterson, and she explained several details on workdays, holidays, weather days, etc., and what they would do during the Tyler County Fair and the date for graduation. The board passed the wellness policy that governs the health and nutrition of students. An extensive campus and district improvement plan was also approved as the meeting moved briskly.

Lake Tejas will be getting its drainage valves replaced soon in a new contract by the best of the two bidders. The lake has three valves that are opened each year to drain the lake for repair and maintenance. All three failed, and the work was long overdue. They are scheduled to be finished by April.

Matterson noted that a new 30-foot sign will be up soon properly designating the Hadley Stewart Field, placed over the current FFA sign, in long-time remembrance of that esteemed superintendent.