In the regular monthly meeting of the Woodville City Council held March 12, Council proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety month. TCOC&I, Texas Confederation of Clubs & Independents, Region 4, from Beaumont was at the meeting presenting the request for the proclamation. Mayor Ben Bythewood read and then signed the proclamation urging all of the community to become aware of the inherent danger involved in operating a motorcycle and to give the operator the respect on the road they deserve.
Next on the agenda to discuss and take action on was the issue of the variance to the noise ordinance for March 30 and 31. This issue was first reported by the Booster last month, when Kendall Coleman petitioned the Court to modify the current ordinance the City has in place by allowing amplified music past the hours of 10:00 p.m. on March 30 and 31 for the Second Annual Zydeco Showdown. Last month this request was tabled until a representative from Coleman's group could be present to further explain the group's intentions. However, neither Coleman nor a representative from his organization was present during the council meeting. City Administrator, Mandy Risinger explained to Council that Coleman emailed a modification to the original request. Coleman now wanted to adjust the variance to the ordinance for March 31 only, making the request for one day instead of two. Council asked Police Chief Scott Yosko his thoughts on the City approving the variance.
"The area in question is a residential area. If you have loud music or noise going on after 10 p.m. you are going to have complaints by the residents," Yosko said. He went on to explain to Council other issues involved with having the Showdown. One specific issue brought out by the Police Chief was that of the overtime incurred by his department and the city. "This event cost the City last year in overtime with our police officer working over," Yosko said. "We bent over backwards to help them out," he went on to say.
"If Council does allow the variance, I suggest they provide licensed peace officers to be present that are "not on our clock," suggested Risinger. Bythewood then called for action on the issue, at which point councilman Caleb Spurlock made the motion to take no action. Bythewood called for discussion and Councilwoman Paula Jones noted that, "If it's important enough to amend the rules, you should be here." The motion passed unanimously. There will be no change to the current noise ordinance which states there can be no amplified music at any time in a residential area.
Mic Cowart from Entergy addressed Council regarding billing changes and tree removal. "Our services are improving and our prices are going down," said Cowart. He explained to Council that the Entergy customers would be seeing a fuel refund. Currently, the cost per kilowatt hour is $114.14. Beginning this month and continuing through May the cost per kilowatt hour will be around $81.28. Cowart asked the question, "What do you get for your money?" "Reliability," he said. The Entergy representative explained the goal is to provide the least amount of outages for their customers. This is gaged by the SAIFI or System Average Interruption Frequency Index. The SAIFI equals the number of customers experiencing an outage, divided by the total number of customers served. In the Woodville network, the total Entergy customers served is 7,200 as of January of this year. Cowart reported a 21 percent improvement from previous years. He also explained the big push for Entergy was tree removal. Downed trees have become an epidemic due to previous hurricane damage and the recent drought conditions. "The trees are stressed," explained Cowart. "As of right now we have removed 380 trees in the Woodville area," said Cowart. He went on to say outages are primarily due to the downed tree issue. "Entergy is working hard to clear the lines to fix this problem," Cowart said.
Also up for consideration was a city ordiance repealing a current ordinance concerning the provision of certain health insurance benefits or Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) to retired City employees. This agenda item was an ordinance to repeal the previous action providing postemployment benefits to retirees who met certain qualifications. These postemployment benefits are intact to all current employees and qualified retirees, but will not be offered to newly hired employees. Citizens can obtain a copy of this revised ordinance from the City office.
The City Administrator then gave her report by proclaiming to Council, "It's Dogwood Time in Tyler County!" Risinger told councilmembers she was still working with Fire Chief Shane and the ISO to update the City's fire code rating. "The survey went well. It looks like our rating should improve, but we cannot get a definite answer at this point."
Police Chief Yosko gave his racial profiling report to Council. He summed the report up by stating "According to the report, white males are the worst drivers."
The Woodville City Council meets the second Monday of each month. The next meeting will be April 9 at 7 p.m.
Ivanhoe city council members met on Saturday, March 10, for their regular council meeting to discuss and adopt multiple agenda items.
The first items on the docket were reports from the Dam supervisor, Road supervisor, and the security committee. The reports recognized Danny King for spotting and removing a large log from Lake Camelot's spillway, mentioned the upcoming project to fix Deerwood Street with asphalt as soon as the temperature remains in the upper 70s, and reviewed the 39 security calls made to law enforcement from within the city.
Council also discussed and reviewed the new Animal Control program. Currently, two members of the council are attending an "animal control officer" school to receive their qualifications to capture and detain animals. Ivanhoe doesn't currently have an animal shelter, and all of the shelters surrounding the city stay filled. The city wants to put an animal shelter in place to decrease the number of stray animals, and to keep citizens' pets safe.
"We will educate everyone in the city by virtue of an ordinance, and hope that this will keep animals off the streets and out of danger."
The issue was tabled until the next council meeting.
Council also approved various small agenda items, including purchasing a new "light bar" for the Ivanhoe patrol car, maintaining the current Sheriff's Department patrol through Ivanhoe on Fridays and every other Saturday, and establishing new office hours of 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and 12 noon - 8 p.m. on Saturday. They also amended the Zoning Ordinance to exempt city property, and adopted the enforcement of zoning violations, including sewage leaks from RVs. Council also approved the use of volunteers to help with city hall business, and discussed the actions and duties of the city secretary.
Other items were also discussed and approved for their first and second readings, including:
1. The junked vehicle ordinance, an ordinance in which junked vehicles will have special restrictions put on them and can't be displayed within public view.
2. Tree protection ordinance, in which certain tree's will not be allowed to be removed and a special permit will be required to remove some tree's.
3. The Sign ordinance. This ordinance will require a permit for signs displayed in Ivanhoe and will require signs to be approved.
The next city council meeting with be held on the second Saturday in April, and all meetings are always open to the public.
Colmesneil ISD School Board met Tuesday February 22 in regular session with a number of agenda items.
First up for consideration were the usual reports of the minutes and financial statements. These reports usually go through without much notice, but during this meeting, member Kris Lindsey had a few questions about where the school district's money was being spent. Lindsey questioned two line items on the financial statement in particular. He questioned the money being spent in the athletic activities and supplies account and the technology supply account. He also wanted to know how much money was left in the Lake Tejas funds account. Colmesneil ISD Superintendet Stacy Ackley reported that the fund held approximately $101,000. Ackley said he would be comfortable with leaving a working amount in the account of $40,000. Lindsey asked where he planned on spending the other $60,000. Ackley said the plan was to spend it on general needs of the district. After a few more questions by the board, the financial report was accepted and approved.
Also on the agenda was a vote to recognize Public School Week, March 5-9, with an Open House set for Tuesday, March 6 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The Board also discussed and tabled the issue of approving an overnight band trip to Florida for attendance purposes. This matter was tabled due to uncertainty of the trip.
Yvette Carlton, Elementary principal, gave an informative report on campus safety. She recently attended a conference where atendees were briefed on the latest information about school safety. This conference helps educators understand the importance of having an emergency plan in place. It also touched on topics such as gangs, bullying, and dating violence. Carlton explained the importance of having faculty and staff trained on what to do in emergency situations. She recommended a survey go out to the students and parents to gather public thoughts on the safety of CISD. This survey should roll out around the first of May.
During the Superintendent's report, Ackley presented the Board with a "wish list". He explained the items listed were not in order by priority, but things he would like to see for the campus. Some of the things listed were items such as new roofs for the elementary, old gym, field house, maintenance and bus barn. Also mentioned was an upgrade in technology for the elementary campus and a possible Chevrolet Suburban.
During Ackley's discussion on the technology upgrade, it was brought out that several of the elementary teachers currently do not have working computers in their classrooms. It was explained that these computers are vital in the everyday instruction of the students. He recommended the board consider a possible matching grant/grants to purchase new technology equipment such as laptops and ipads for the classrooms. The cost to the district after the grants would be approximately $125,000. To this, Lindsey and board member Jeff Mashaw, wanted to know how to get the computers to the teachers now; without waiting on a grant. Board members discussed taking money previously discussed in the Lake Tejas fund to purchase the needed computers. Upgrades for K-4 grades is approximately $30,000. Mr. Ackley asked the board to wait on purchasing the computers until after he had time to research the turn around time on a grant. Lindsey asked for a report within the week. The board will meet again in an emergency session to vote on the computer issue when Ackley has completed his research.
The CISD Board then adjourned into executive session. Upon returning to open session, the board voted to accept the resignation of Coach Jim Crews. They also voted to extend the contract of both campus principals, Walter McAlpin and Yvette Carlton.
Colmesneil ISD School Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month. Board members are President, Jim Carlton; Secretary, Kenneth Adaway; member, Kain Rawls; member, Curtis Pittman; member, Kris Lindsey; member, Jeff Mashaw; and member, Twyla Darder.
At a recent Woodville City Council meeting, Council was petitioned by Kendall Coleman and Kendrick Beaty requesting a variance to the current city ordinance that restricts the use of amplified music within the city limits. The two men are organizers of the 2nd Annual Zydeco Showdown/Campout during Western Weekend.
According to City Administrator Mandy Risinger, a request was brought before Council last year to hold a Zydeco Dance at the old football field property that is now owned by the Sinclair Center on the Saturday night after the rodeo. Last year, the group asked for a variance to the ordinance until midnight and Council agreed to grant the variance until 10 p.m. After reading the proposal from the two men, Council determined that there were substantially more activities planned that would draw a much larger crowd than last year. In addition to concerns about the noise, Council had some issues about parking, crowd control, security and the safety of the participants. They were also concerned about the local residents at a site that is located primarily in a residential area. They voted to table the item until their next meeting when someone from the group could be present to address these concerns.
Next up for discussion and action on the Council's agenda was the transfer of property located on North Nellius Street to the Magnolia Cemetery.
"This property was the site for the original local water system. It was acquired by the City from the Mann family in the early 1930's," Risinger said. With the City having no foreseeable plan or use for the property, Council voted unanimously to transfer the property to the Magnolia Cemetery Association.
Council then discussed street vendors/peddlers. Currently the City has a permit process in place to regulate door-to-door sales and street vendors/peddlers. Council voted unanimously to amend this ordinance by adding definitions clarifying what a vendor is and the different types of vendors. The amended ordinance also explains that it is unlawful for a peddler to engage business within a public way within the city; however, the new language allows for exemptions to vendors such as farmers and ice cream trucks. The ordinance verbiage changed in several other ways as well. If you are interested in reading the whole law, you can obtain a copy from the City office.
According to Risinger, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality funds a Regional Solid Waste Grant through DETCOG. During the meeting, Council authorized her to apply for the grant. The City plans to apply for the funds to purchase a recycle trailer. DETCOG has a total of $48,000 to fund such grants and will fund three applications not to exceed $16,000 each.
Following formal business, the City Administrator gave her monthly report. "The annual Citywide Clean-up will be March 5 through March 16," Risinger said. She also informed Council members of updates on the recycle program. "The recycle program has been implemented and a routine established. The trailer is currently available from Tuesday-Thursday each week," she explained.
Earlier in the meeting the Council authorized Risinger to apply for a grant to obtain a trailer belonging to the city. "The City has engaged an engineer to assess the natural gas system and to design the project to provide services to the German Pellets plant. In addition to the work specific to this project, Jim Rogers will be conducting a complete assessment of the city's system and coordinate with ETEC and the Industrial Park to anticipate and pre-plan for additional projects,"Risinger said.
After the City Administrator's report, Council then read the Fire Department report. The Fire Department reports it has submitted all the necessary paperwork to a CPA to complete obtaining a non-profit status with the IRS. Also in the report, the Fire Department has learned that the unincorporated areas of the city were not rated for fire protection. The County contacted ISO (insurance service office) to initiate the rating process and as a result the City was rerated in an effort to extend its rating to those in the ETJ (extended territorial jurisdiction) that would qualify. A survey of the fire department, water system and equipment was conducted in January. The City Administrator, with the assistance of the fire department officers worked to complete the survey that was left, and all of the information available has been submitted to the analyst. This is a lengthy process and it will be some time before the results are returned.
The Woodville City Council meets on the second Monday of each month. The next meeting will be March 12 at the City Office.
Spurger ISD held their monthly school board meeting on Thursday, February 23 to discuss district goals, and to approve or deny various campus projects.
The board went over key school district goals first. A few of the goals discussed in detail were leadership; student academic planning; student credit recovery; school spirit; academic goals; curriculum; campus, grounds and facilities operations; and transportation.
Board members also reviewed and discussed the Elementary and High School AEIS Reports and performance ratings. Both campuses met the adequate yearly progress with flying colors. The High School also had great scores regarding college readiness and the ACT. The report said that 24.1 percent of Spurger students planned to pursue a science, math or technology degree, 84.4 percent of students planned to attend a 4-year university, and 34.4 percent of students were the first of their family to attend college. Last year's senior class also met and exceeded the national average for ACT scores.
The board also looked at mineral values, expressing concern that mineral values will decrease in value soon, and this could affect schools across the county. Texas Senate Bill 1505 has more information about the decrease in mineral values in Tyler County.
Board members praised the food service department at Spurger for exceeding expectations during a recent audit. Out of 13 sections of the audit, they only had one small area that required a change – cotst of an adult breakfast must be increased ten cents.
"Mrs. Leona and her staff do an absolutely tremendous job," said Joe Fisher, superintendent of Spurger ISD.
One of the last orders of business in the meeting was to discuss, consider, and approve or deny a motion to move the air conditioning system in the Minter Gym to the Elementary gym. Presently, there is no A/C in the small elementary gym , which gets extremely hot during the summer and can't be used.
Spurger was one of very few schools to receive a "cool schools" grant that would allow them to get a new A/C. The board approved to move the A/C from the Minter Gym to the elementary gym, and to install a new A/C system in the Minter Gym.
The regular meeting of the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees was held Monday, February 20. There were several items on the agenda that needed to be discussed and voted on. First, after the review of the usual reports such as the January financial report, tax report and investment report, and a brief explanation from Cody Jarrott from the WISD business office, the board voted to approve them and move on the other matters at hand. However, before moving on, Mr. Jarrott did inform the board that to date the Woodville ISD Funds balance is $9.5 million.