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.