Woodville Administrator updates council on German Pellet progress

by Leann Monk

The Woodville City Council meeting was called to order by Mayor Ben Bythewood, Monday, May 14, proclaiming the city would recognize Woodville Eagle Choir and Band Day on May 28. The proclamation, read by Bythewood, stated this day honors the 2011-2012 Woodville Eagle Band and Choir members for their success in capturing a Division I rating on a Class 1 Solo or Ensemble at Region X UIL Contest; qualifying these members to advance to State Competition on May 28. The band and choir members advancing to the state competition and being recognized in this proclamation are: Allen Dorman, Joe Arline, Hallie Beaty, Jacquelyn Johnson, Michael Nanney, Abbie Quinn, Makayla Stowe, Hannah Williams, Jenna Barnes, Shelby Hadnot, Christopher Ledesma, Sam Matterson, Patricia Rice, Kristen Swafford, and Whitney Williams. The students are under the direction of Choir Director, Matthew Moody and Interim Band Director, Jim Boone. "The students have contributed greatly to the City's pride with their achievements, and I urge all citizens to congratulate the band and choir members for their accomplishments and wish them success as they advance to State Competition," said the Mayor.

Next on the agenda for Council to consider for approval was the variance to the city's noise ordinance. Todd Pounds, from the Woodville First Baptist Church, petitioned Council to lift the current noise ordinance until 10:00 p.m. on May 16. The event Pounds and the church would be hosting would be held inside the family life center of the church, but according to city administrator, Pounds was afraid the noise would be heard outside the walls of the building. "He wanted to get approval just in case the noise could be heard outside the walls of the center. Especially since it is a residential area," Risinger said. Council voted to lift the ordinance until 10:00 p.m.

Also for consideration to the city's noise ordinance was a petition from Rage Bowie from Inner Court Evangelistic Ministries. This petition was tabled due to no representation being present at the council meeting. However, since Council met, it has come to the attention of the City Administrator, this event has been cancelled due to the petitioner finding a new location.

Council then considered for approval the Engineering Study proposal from the meter company McKinstry. This company provided for Council a workshop on April 25 to give information on their services and how they would be able to benefit the City of Woodville. According to Risinger, this study would examine whether or not the water meters the City currently has in operation is doing an accurate job. "Basically, this company would do a study and present a proposal to Council that would tell us if our current meters are capturing all of the water that passes through, like they are supposed to and if we need to replace them," she said. After the company makes its presentation and recommendations to Council, then they would discuss the City's options. Council voted to allow McKinstry to go forward with the study and then report back with their findings.

Risinger then gave her monthly report by first reminding Council the City offices would be closed on May 28 in observance of Memorial Day. She went on to give an update on the German Pellet project. "The engineer is working on the design and we are currently shooting for August 1 to have gas out there," she said. Risinger also noted in her report to Council the recycle trailer has been ordered. "The trailer is slightly larger than the current trailer we are using." "All of the information for the design of the City of Woodville's website has been submitted to the GovOffice Design Team and our site has been submitted to the programmers for scheduling. We are approximately four weeks out in the programmer's schedule," Risinger told Council in reference to the city's new website. "This has been something we have been working on for a while and now we are getting closer," she said.

Risinger informed Council the City had received notification that the Insurance Services Office or ISO plans to recommend a "Class 4" Public Rating to the State Fire Marshall's office for Woodville. The city had been rated a "Class 6". "This rating will help people with their insurance rates," she said. "This is a good thing," she went on to say. According to councilmember and insurance agent Russ Nalley the lowering of the classification will be a positive factor when insurance companies figure premiums and rates on home insurance. "The lower class code is one factor that goes into the equation," said Nalley. "Insurance companies use a number of things to determine the final premium or rate for home insurance. The class code for an area is one of those things that go into the formula," he explained.

Woodville City Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. on the second floor of the City Hall.

Colmesneil ISD adopts new Technology Investment Initiative

Story Highlights

• Board approved $14,500 bid to replace roof on bus barn
• CISD will receive approximately $3.4 million in revenue during the 2012-13 school year
• Students will be offered elective pathways in high school, beginning next year
• New Tri-Caster system technology  demonstrated that will allow students to learn how to produce television commercials, etc.

Read more: Colmesneil ISD adopts new Technology Investment Initiative

Board learns some Colmesneil taxpayers not happy with 'excessive spending'

by Leann Monk

Board President Jim Carlton called the Colmesneil ISD School Board into session Tuesday, April 17, by welcoming two citizen speakers, Jimmy Crews and Courtney Broussard. Jimmy Crews addressed the board first by showing them a blank petition. "This petition doesn't have any signatures on it yet," said Crews. He told the board the petition would be circulated to bring attention to the excessive spending the district was doing. He told board members that Colmesneil taxpayers were tired of the overspending. "One example is the fact that we have two Athletic Directors," said Crews. "How, you ask? You replaced the current AD with a new one in January. The district has to continue paying the salary of the current AD until June, plus we are now paying the salary of the new AD. So, since January, CISD has been paying the salary of two Athletic Directors," he said. "And, who is going to pay for the five coaches the new AD wants to have with him on the field?" asked Crews. "I'm sure the other AD would've liked to have had these coaches to help him," he added. Crews suggested to the board overspending on other items as well, such as the hiring of the Tech Support personnel when, according to Crews, the district already had someone in place to do the job. "We just need to make sure we have money for a rainy day," said Crews.

Next to address the board was Courtney Broussard. Broussard read her prepared statement to the board, by first stating," I am terrified of public speaking. So my standing before you today is a testament to how much more afraid I am of the direction our district is taking." She told the board, "I've heard several disturbing rumors over the past few months and while I don't give much credence to gossip, I do believe that where there's smoke, there's fire. And I, for one, don't want to see our school, nor our community in cinders." She went on to say, "You, the school board members, need to take note. We, the taxpayers of this district, are watching. And we are an 'aware' community."

Broussard had specific issues she addressed before the board members, "We are aware that the school Superintendent has a home and auto provided by the district. While this may be a reasonable incentive to filling the position, it has become a point of contention when the job is not being done to our satisfaction. And make no mistake, it should be done to our satisfaction, the voting taxpayers of this district. Most of this board is made up of people who should have a vested interest in the wellbeing of our students, our faculty, and our district; because these are your children, your husbands and wives, your friends and neighbors, who are affected by your decisions. But this is not what we, the voting taxpayers, are seeing. What we see is the majority of the board, who have a vested interest, being coerced, manipulated, and overly influenced by the minority, that has no vested interest, other than fulfilling the time on a contract. It is my perception that most of the members of this board have become "yes men" and have forgotten how to do what's right. It is time again, for the board to start looking out for the best interests of our children. I have a child in every school in this district. Every decision you make will affect my family. You were elected to do a job - it's time to do it!"

After the board listened to the citizen speakers, they voted to approve the minutes of the February and March meetings, along with March financial statements. They moved to the next agenda item, which was to adopt the school calendar for the upcoming academic year. This too was approved. The first day back to school for the 2012 -2013 school year will be August 27.

Superintendent, Stacy Ackley, then proposed the board adopt Update 93. "This update tells the state we've had enough of the testing. We will have 45 days of testing next year, 45 days," explained Ackley. The board members voted to join with other school districts around Texas and adopt Update 93.

Elementary Principal, Yvette Carlton, spoke to board members about a recent survey she put out to her teachers in reference to the safety and overall performance of her campus. Carlton told the board that her campus had done very well on the survey. "This survey addressed safety concerns, pride, school rules and cleanliness," said Carlton. The principal also reminded the board members and guests of the annual Get Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs fishing tournament coming up on May 12. "Everybody needs to come out," she said.

Ackley gave the Superintendents report by informing the board he had hired a new girls coach for next year to replace Coach Reagan Sewell who will be leaving at the end of this year. M. Patrick Sluga will be coming to CISD as the head girls volleyball and basketball coach as well as teaching business and accounting. "He has been coaching for 13 years," said Ackley. "What else will he teach?" asked board member Kris Lindsey. "He will teach five other classes," said Ackely.

"We need to discuss the Ag shop lights," said Ackley. He explained the Ag shop needs lights after the recent remodel; the cost of the regular shop lights is around $2300. He also explained they now had a paint booth for Ag Mech projects which required special safety lights. "Right now we have to send our kids to Woodville for them to paint their projects in the Woodville Ag paint booth. These lights would allow our kids to start and finish their own projects here," he said. "We are looking at over $11,000 just for these paint booth lights" said Ackley. "Would this money come from our Lake Tejas funds or our funds balance account?" asked Lindsey. "It could come from Lake Tejas," said Ackley. "Right now I am only recommending that the board approve just the purchase of the regular shop lights," Ackley said. "I wasn't going to vote for the paint booth lights," said board member Curtis Pittman. After discussion, the board voted to purchase only the regular shop lights.

The board members then adjourned to closed session. Upon their return in to the open meeting, the board voted to accept the resignation of Reagan Sewell and hire M. Patrick Sluga as head girls volleyball and basketball coach. The board then adjourned the meeting.

The next Colmesneil ISD Board meeting will be held on May 15, the third Tuesday of the month, at 7:00 p.m.

Spurger ISD Students Have Success This Spring

by Emily Waldrep

The Spurger ISD school board held its monthly school board meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 7:00pm in the Administration building to go over school spirit, budget items, district goals and to choose a school calendar.

First, Brandon Shumake spoke about Spurger School Spirit, and how this Spring has been a successful and busy time for all of Spurger ISD. The FCCLA team competed in the regional competition with two scrapbooks, and Mattie Fortenberry received a first place prize with her book. Seventeen students in One Act Play advanced to the area competition for the first time in Spurger ISD history, and spiked interest in the One Act Play program for the entire district. The FFA Chapter had 3 students show in Houston and Fort Worth, and Hunter Smith ranked 7th in Fort Worth with his heifer. Brooke Kaylor will also be competing in the state competition in goat tying as a 10-point favorite, and Luke McLeod and Hunter Smith will be the first students from Spurger to ever compete in the regional talent competition. Ten students played tennis, and three of those advanced to the regional competition. Both varsity basketball teams, as well as softball, all made playoffs, and the three-on-three basketball tournament fundraiser held at Spurger Gym had over 50 current and returning students participating. Outside of athletics, 7 students participated in a field trip to STEM day during spring break, and 18 students participated in “Cat in the Hat” reading day. UIL competition was also a success, and 22 students competed, with 6 advancing to regionals. Shumake says that, “it is a pretty positive time in the hallways of Spurger School right now.”

The board approved the elementary, high school and district improvement plans, which include programs such as the phonics program, after school tutorials, accelerated program, after school homework helps, and a possible algebra 1 lab so that students can become stronger in their math skills.

The board also voted to move $13, 444 dollars from the construction fund balance to the general fund to take care of some internet wire and cable work that will improve the internet for the campus.

The Spurger school calendar was also chosen. Calendar A, with 32 votes from teachers, parents and students, beat out Calendar B and C with only 6 votes combined. The calendar closely mirrors Woodville ISD’s calendar and will work well for the district.

Joe Fisher, superintendant, also discussed the progress of the Cool Schools Grant and was proud to announce that the air conditioning systems have been installed in both the Minter and Elementary gyms and will be completely up and running by May 12, 2012. 

Citizen Speakers Address WISD Board April 17

by Leann Monk

The Woodville ISD School Board meeting held, Monday, April 17, opened to the tune of Citizen Speakers, Martin Riley and Dave Youngblood addressing the board. Riley addressed the board first. He told the board members he was there to try to convince them to consider bringing Coach Shawn Mixon on to the WISD Coaching Staff. "I'm a huge Shawn Mixon Fan," said Riley. "He is a talent and can make a change for this community," he went on to say. Coach Mixon was not present at the board meeting.

Dave Youngblood then took the floor to address the School Board. "I'm here to address to the current situation with the softball program," said Youngblood. "I'm not happy with the program. We have a wealth of talent, but I'm not sure it's being utilized," he went on to say. "I feel like the program needs to be looked at. We need to reevaluate the focus of the program. It seems that we aren't able to compete with other teams that have equal talent," said Youngblood. Youngblood told the Board he felt strongly that the direction and focus of the softball team needed to be looked at closely.

According to Board President Trey Allison, the public is welcome to attend and speak at the monthly board meetings. You must sign in prior to the meeting and will be given five minutes to address the board. Public comment is a forum for patrons to voice an opinion to the board without being on the agenda. Items brought up during those comments are usually discussion topics for administrators and board members at a later date. "We want to hear what you have to say," said Allison

After the Citizen Speakers, the Board then directed their attention to matters of action. The Board approved the March Financial Reports, Tax Report and Investment Report. They also approved the firm Wathen, DeShong & Juncker, LLP as Auditors for the FYE of August 31.

Superintendent, Glenn Conner, gave his monthly report to the board members. "Basically we have a lot of dates," said Conner. "The calendar looks like this: April 19, there will be a Choir Concert; April 20-21, there will be a Letterman Club Basketball Tournament; April 24-27, will be STAAR Testing; April 27-28, Regional Track; April 30, FFA Banquet; May 3, Band Concert; May 4, Relay for Life; May 17, Elementary Field Day; and May 18, Intermediate Field Day," said Conner. Board member, Brenda Maloy, asked what the plan was for those students who advanced to the Regional Track meet since it was scheduled the same day as the STAAR Testing. "We are working on scheduling," said Conner.

The next board meeting will be May 21 at 7 p.m.

Woodville City County Extends ETEC Agreement

by Leann Monk

With the announcement of three proclamations, Mayor Ben Bythewood called the Woodville City Council meeting to order Monday, April 9. The first of the proclamations was to declare April as "Fair Housing Month". It encourages citizens to recognize that complete success in the goal of equal housing opportunity can only be accomplished with the help and cooperation of all Americans. Council also declared April as "Autism Awareness Month". "This issue is one that is dear to my heart," said the Mayor. The proclamation is to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, as well as give an opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. The final proclamation issued by Council was to declare April as "Child Abuse Prevention Month". Once again, the month of April has been designated for an education campaign against child abuse. Citizens of Woodville are encouraged to learn what they can do to promote the safety and well-being of the children in the city and county. "There have been 150 blue ribbons place all over the city in support of this initiative and to promote awareness," said Councilman Russ Nalley.

After approving the consent docket, the next item of business for Council was to extend the agreement between the City and ETEC due to delays encountered in obtaining environmental clearance to proceed with the project. According to City Administrator, Mandy Risinger, ETEC "East Texas Electric Cooperative" is the group that is developing the biomass plant south of town. Their process requires a large amount of water. They have agreed to drill a water well and build a water plant for the City in exchange for the effluent (treated water) discharged from the sewer plant. Currently, raw sewer comes in to the treatment plant, is treated with chlorine and bacteria to "clean" the water and then it is discharged back into the closest creek or stream. ETEC is going to capture the water we discharge and pipe it to the biomass plant to use in their process. "To my understanding the effluent will be used in the boilers and heated in temperature. It will then be cooled and piped back just south of the sewer plant to be discharged into the same stream we currently discharge our effluent in. In very general terms, this biomass plant will use the tree tops, limbs, bark and other "trash" plants and organic debris to make electricity. They plan to reuse water that we have already pumped out of the ground in their process, cool it to a safe temperature for wildlife and discharge it into the same stream we already discharge into. In exchange, they will drill a well and build a water plant costing approximately $2.5 million dollars so that the city can meet increasing water needs within the community. The City will not be providing any water other than the effluent to ETEC," said Risinger.

Risinger then recommended to Council the City join forces with TEX-21 to promote efforts to turn Highway 287 into Corridor 287. This task force will bring together key stakeholders from the entire US-287 Corridor in Texas to focus on significantly enhancing transportation infrastructure along one of the most dynamic and thriving corridors in the country. In addition, TEX-21 will seek to educate and communicate the needs of the US-287Corridor with influential leaders at the state and federal level. "By establishing 287 as Corridor 287, we will open the door for more funding for maintenance projects. This will benefit the city and will make it easier to transport goods through Woodville. Also, the increase in traffic should be an asset to our city as well", explained Risinger. She explained to Council that by joining with TEX-21 the city would be obligated to pay annual membership dues as well send a representative from the Council to sit on the task force. "Why would we not join?" asked Councilwoman Joyce Wilson. "I can't see any reason not to," replied Risinger. Council then voted to join the efforts to turn US Highway 287 into US Corridor 287. The Mayor appointed Risinger as the representative from Woodville to sit on the task force.

"It is no longer Dogwood Time In Tyler County," declared Risinger as she gave her monthly report to Council. "I am pleased report the three weekends of the Festival went off without a hitch. Everything went very smoothly within the city," she said. Risinger also reported to Council Area Mapping and Survey has completed the survey of the rite-of-way to determine the route for the lines for the natural gas the city will be providing to the German pellet plant. In order to provide this service, the current lines must be extended. The City has retained an engineer to design and coordinate this project. The engineer has the information and has entered the design phase of the project. The next step will be to obtain easements from TxDOT and Commissioner's Court to run the gas lines. The city currently plans to run these lines along US 69 and Spring Valley Drive in the existing right-of-way. This project will increase the City's service area and make natural gas available to all property located along the proposed route. She also reported to Council that the city had been awarded the DETCOG grant of $14,500 in which the city will be purchasing a recycle trailer.

Confirming a previous statement by the city administrator, Policy Chief Scott Yosko told Council this year's Dogwood Festival was the smoothest it's been in a long time. "It was real pleasant compared to years past," said Yosko. "Last year we probably had anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen people arrested at the City Park. This year we didn't arrest the first person," he went on to say. The only negative occurrence during the weekend was the armed robbery of the Exxon Jiffy Mart. "We have leads on who it is," he said. "There were no injuries, at least physical ones anyway," Yosko added.

The Woodville City Council meets on the second Monday of each month. The next Council meeting will be May 14 at 6 p.m.