Ivanhoe keeps tax rate at 71.021¢, accepts proposed budget

By Valerie Reddell
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Ivanhoe City Council dove into financial matters for the upcoming fiscal year with the adoption of the ad valorem tax rate, keeping it at the same rate — 71.02 cents per $100 in taxable value — as the prior year.

Mayor Cathy Bennett told those in attendance that the value of unimproved property in the city had been reappraised, so more revenue would be coming in from vacant lots.

After reviewing a budget proposal by line items earlier in the month, the council accepted a proposed budget, clearing the way for a public hearing on the budget set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5.

City Secretary C.D. Woodrome reported that revenue looks good with two months to go in the 2017 fiscal year.

Council members accepted the resignation of two members of the planning and zoning commission. Bennett announced a signup sheet would be posted in the community center. Anyone interested in becoming one of the two new members should add their name to the list.

The council discussed revisions to the contract to rent city hall for social functions, but voted down the suggested contract until they could meet with the property owners association to resolve discrepancies.

Ivanhoe voters will head to the polls on Nov. 7 to elect three council members to two-year terms. Anyone interested in seeking one of the positions should pick up a packet at city hall.
During her report on the municipal court, Judge Judith Haney reported that

City Marshal Terry Riley had participated in a multi-agency effort that involved executing several "knock and talk" search warrants with assistance from officers from Hardin and Liberty counties as well as the Texas Rangers, a helicopter and two drug dogs.

In the days following the effort, Riley noted many residents have opted to move out of Ivanhoe.
Haney reported that 78 citations had been issued in July, 24 closed and she has begun issuing warrants for people who have not appeared before her. Three Ivanhoe residents had been jailed on Class C offenses. Several cases involved charges of criminal trespass, dogs running at large and assault.

"People are beginning to realize that the citations are real, the court is here and they need to come take care of their problems or discuss it with the court," Haney said.

Work is finally set to begin on a 2015 FEMA disaster recovery project, city officials announced.
Expenses will be paid out of the street maintenance fund and FEMA will reimburse the city for 75 percent of the project cost, including labor provided by city staffers.

Ivanhoe's independent audit included an unmodified opinion, meaning the financial reports are true and correct.

Risinger: Woodville revenues down across the board

By Valerie Reddell
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Woodville City Manager Mandy Risinger advised the mayor and council Monday that revenues in most budget areas are tracking below budget and lower that the same period last year.

She reported that the city might have received a dime in oil and gas royalties during the year, and fines and fees in the municipal court are down.

"Property tax is less than anticipated, sales tax is down and all departments are working on a shoestring. Everybody is very tight," Risinger said.

Normally by this point in the budget year, permit fee revenue has amounted to about $30,000 but this year they are currently at $12,000, she added.

All cities seem to be in the same boat, Risinger said.

City Council member Lee Mann said many business owners are reporting that "business is off."

Municipal Court Judge Judith Haney advised council members that on Sept. 1 a state law would take affect banning use of all handheld devices while driving.

"You cannot talk, or text on your phone — even if you are talking into the speakerphone," Haney said.

Drivers can use a Bluetooth device — but unless they fit a limited number of exceptions they could face a fine of $266 for the first offense.
For further details on the texting while driving law, visit

The council approved a request by Woodville High School to close Charlton and Wheat Streets for a community pep rally from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in conjunction with the homecoming football game.

In response to Mann's question about the traditional bonfire, WHS principal Morgan Wright explained that there is no longer a safe location to hold a bonfire — even if weather conditions would allow it.
The turf at the Summit would melt if the event was held there, Wright explained.

Spurger ISD celebrates opening of Media Center

Superintendent Kendall Smith Carl Fisher, Zack Fisher, & Glenda Fisher attended the opening of the Joseph R. Fisher Media Center honoring former superintendent. Superintendent Kendall Smith Carl Fisher, Zack Fisher, & Glenda Fisher attended the opening of the Joseph R. Fisher Media Center honoring former superintendent.

Spurger ISD held a celebration for the dedication of the Joseph R. Fisher Media Center on July 18 led by Kendall Smith, Superintendent.

In attendance was Mr. Fisher's parents Glenda and Carl Fisher, his son Zack Fisher (a senior at Spurger HS), members of the Spurger ISD Board and staff, representatives from area school districts, and representatives of Educational Service Center 5.

Joe Fisher dedicated his life to children. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Fisher spent 22 years in education, 10 of those years at Spurger ISD. Fisher first joined the district as elementary principal and then as superintendent, before his life was cut short by cancer June 26, 2015.

He was dedicated to children and education and had a profound love for reading.

Fisher had a vision of having benches under the trees so that kids could sit in the shade and read. For this reason the district felt that dedicating the media center/library in his name was a fitting tribute.

Colmesneil council OKs mower purchase

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor Don Baird convened the Colmesneil City Council Tuesday evening, July 11, at their regularly scheduled time. He asked Councilman Gene Allen to lead the invocation.

Baird asked for citizen comments, and Carolyn Davis, wife of Councilman Kenneth Davis, said, "Fix the pothole."

After a little laughter, there was a bit of discussion. Later in the meeting Baird noted that the Davis' road was the on agenda to be repaired.

The minutes to the previous meeting were approved without comment.

First on the agenda was consideration of buying a new mower. City Secretary Carrie Holson passed out the several bids. In conjunction with the federal program to get a better price, the council settled on the bid from Timberman Supply for a new Grasshopper, several thousand below the next highest bid. And Timberman will buy back the old mower too.

The old Grasshopper was purchased in 2006 and had over 30,000 hours.

Several problems have come about in the last few months. And Baird mentioned his good fortune with the Grasshopper brand. The bid from Timberman was approved.

The financial, office, and water and sewer reports were all passed without comment, and the meeting adjourned in good spirits.

Commissioner Marshall Sponsors Community Cleanup

by Andrew Harmon

Besides dealing with monthly reports and recurring budget items, the most recent Tyler County Commissioner's Court focused on giving back and bettering this area.

Precinct 3 commissioner Mike Marshall, dedicated time last week to aid in the cleaning of Tyler County and Precinct 3. Marshall, held a special waste collection day for residents to dispose of unwanted trash. Commissioner Marshall looks forward to this annual event, hoping increasing numbers of people take advantage of it each year.

Later in the meeting, Tyler County Commissioners discussed the transferring of title on the 2017 Sienna van to the Tyler County Veterans Administration for transportation of veterans to the facility. County Judge Jacques Blanchette led the motion to make the transfer official.
The court also passed a proclamation to declare March, "Red Cross Month".

The commissioners, Blanchette and John Stagg, from the American Red Cross put this motion into action immediately.
It was a successful week for the commissioners court as it focused on improving the community. The members strive to continuing to better Tyler County even more in the future.

Chester council hears complaints of stray dogs harassing citizens

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor Floyd Petri convened the Chester City Council Monday evening, January 9, at its regular time. He led the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag, and citizen guest Vernon Lewis led an invocation.

City Secretary Annette Hickman read the minutes to the previous meeting. The council approved the minutes and financial statement for the city and Chester Gas Company. The council also approved an agreement with the county for maintenance of the roads, renewal of their liability insurance, and the budget for the city.

Petri welcomed two citizens who came to share concerns. First, Vernon Lewis shared concerns over stray dogs around the city. Vernon claimed that one had bitten his grandchild. The school superintendent himself had to chase off a few dogs when they harassed some of the Chester ISD staff. Lewis reported that walkers at the city park feared leaving their car because of the dogs. After researching the issue, Petri had explained that a 20-plus-year-old ordinance had been rescinded because there was no ability to enforce it. Petri empathized with Lewis, and several issues were discussed, including the county's absence of a dog pound. While there was little the city could do, Petri noted that they would look closer at developing options if problems persist. It also appeared some of the dog owners may have already taken action, as fewer strays have been seen in the last week or two.

Second, citizen Everett Powell expressed his frustration over election protocols at the local Mason's lodge. He had previously reported some alleged violations and he desired for the elections to be held elsewhere, even at the Chester City Hall. Petri surveyed the council members present, inquiring about precedents.

Both issues regarding the dogs and where to host the elections will be on the agenda of the next meeting.