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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.

Chester ISD Board Discusses Maintainence, Electives

by Leann Monk

"Are you ready?" asked Chester School Board President, Clint Sturrock. With that question, he called the board meeting to order, Monday, March 26 to discuss the districts business.

First on the agenda for discussion was the approval of the minutes and the financial statement for February. The board questioned items on the financial statement such as expenses to Forefront Network and on the yard maintenance. Superintendent, Kenneth Graham, explained to the board members Forefront was for the cost of additional hard drive equipment the school had to purchase. He also explained that the cost of hiring out the yard maintenance was $890 per grooming. After the vote the reports were approved.

Next on the agenda the board members voted on the issue of finding an election judge for the May 12th election. The board voted for current election judge Gladys Swearingen to continue in the position. According to members of the board, Swearingen has been the election judge for years.

Graham then gave the Superintendent's report to the Board Members. He handed out the possible 2012-2013 calendar for the Board to consider. "It is basically the same calendar as Warren and Woodville," said Graham. The Board will vote on the calendar at the next meeting. Graham then presented the Board with what he would like to see as a class schedule for next year. "We currently do not have electives for our kids. I would like to go to an eight period day so we can offer more to our students," said the administrator. "I would like to add computer classes to our schedules," stated Graham.

Readdressing the topic of the yard maintenance, the Chester Board Members stepped up to the plate so to speak. They all agreed that $890 was too much to pay per mowing and weed eating of the school property. The Board discussed going out for bids for yard maintenance. Board Member Vernon Lewis told Graham that in order to save the district money he would mow the baseball and softball fields for now. "We appreciate that," said Graham.

The Board then entered into executive session for a second time to discuss personnel matters and contract renewals. One teacher, Ms. Helen Hays will not be returning to Chester ISD next year. Hays is retiring; the board accepted her resignation. All of the other teacher contracts were renewed.

The Chester School Board will meet again April 16.

Warren Board Discusses Multi-Use Building

by Emily Waldrep

The Warren School Board held its regular meeting on March 27, 2012 at 7:00p.m in the Warren School Administration Building.

The meeting began with Lance Johnson's superintendent report. Christina Wheatman, Derek Gray, and Donna Buckner were all recognized as exemplary Warren teachers for the month of March. Johnson also went over the new multi-use facility that will be used for meetings, staff development, community events, and student use. The building will have wireless Internet and is expected to fit 250-300 people. "We expect this to be a great community building," said Johnson. The building will be available for use in April.

Building and construction updates were also covered in the meeting, and plans are underway to update the Elementary bathrooms. The plumbing will be revamped and new stalls and toilets will be installed as well as new energy efficient lighting.

Terry Ling discussed the Warren ISD budget, and said that "the budget is in great shape for the 2012-2013 school year, and we feel like we will be in good shape without any additional cuts." Currently, the budget is balanced and revenues greatly exceed expenditures. Ling also reported that Warren is "right on track with investments, and the financial standing is good."

The board then approved minor changes to the TASB Local Policy Update 93. Most of the changes dealt with minor verbiage changes, and the core value of the policy remains the same. The main changes were located in sections regarding student teacher relationships, health and wellness, bullying and harassment, and freedom of expression.

Board members also approved minor budget amendments that would keep the budget on track, and placed their votes for the ESC Board of Director candidates.

Colmesneil ISD Changes Board Election Date

by LeAnn Monk

"I would like to thank the community for coming out to the meeting tonight and for your support," said Jim Carlton, president of the Colmesneil School Board, as he called the meeting to order Tuesday, March 20.

Due to Board Member Curtis Pittman not receiving his copy, the approval of the minutes was tabled until the next meeting, giving all of the members an opportunity for review.

After review of the financial statement, Board Member, Kris Lindsay questioned why the district was paying overtime for bus drivers. "Those employees are paid at a blended rate," stated Stacy Ackley, CISD Superintendent. He went on to explain those employees were usually ones who were teachers aids and drove a bus as well. "It works out better for the employee and the district if we pay them with this blended rate," said Ackley. Lindsey then questioned the purchase of 10 plastic tables. Ackley explained the school had been borrowing tables from different organizations outside of the school district. The financial report was then voted on and approved.

On the agenda for the Board to discuss was TASA's or Texas Association of School Administrators Mission School Transformation and Board Resolution. This resolution is being presented to school boards all across the State for consideration. The resolution states, "the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage." The board Members agreed to review to contents for discussion at the next meeting.

Also up for discussion was the 2012-2013 school calendar. If adopted, the students would start school August 27 with the last day of classes being June 7. The proposed calendar allows for a one week holiday for Thanksgiving, two week holiday for Christmas, one week winter break in February, and one week spring break in April.

Next up for action from the Board was to adopt the resolution and order changing the annual Trustee election from May to November. According to Section 11.0581 of the Texas Education Code, school districts are required to hold elections for trustees on the same date as the election for members of the governing body of a municipality located primarily within the same boundaries as in the school district, or as the general election for state and county officers and must be held under joint elections. The resolution states that beginning with the 2012 election, the general elections for the Colmesneil Independent School District Board of Trustees shall be held on the November uniform election date in order to comply with the Texas Education Code. The school board elections will now be held in November in conjunction with the City and County elections.

Ackley then presented the board with bids from two contractors for repairs to the campus facilities. "The roofs need to be replaced on the old gym, field house, cafeteria, and the light house on the elementary building," state Ackley. "We toured the facility today and we discovered there was leaking in the cafeteria," said Carlton. The two contractors who submitted bids for the work were Crews Services and OC Brooks. The total amount for the repairs is $54,350. "I'm just concerned that once we get in there and start doing the work, there is going to be more damage that we don't see," stated Lindsey. "I'm afraid what might be a $100,000 project will turn into a $200,000," he said. "Can we absorb an additional $100,000?" Lindsey asked. Lindsey asked Ackley what kind of time frame he had to get this project wrapped up, to which Ackley answered, "None was given." Lindsey asked when the projects will start. Ackley explained as long as it won't interfere with the students, they will start as soon as possible. A final question was asked by Lindsey about who would supervise the project. "I will," stated Ackley. The money to complete these roof projects will come out of the funds balance. "We can't use bond money," stated Pittman.

After the Board returned from executive session, they voted on those items discussed behind closed doors. They voted to except the resignation of two teachers, Keith Denby and Kathy Sheffield, both are retiring. In his letter of resignation to the Board, Denby wrote," I would like to thank Walter McAlpin and Ben Stewart." The Board also voted to hire Daniel Veirs, from White Oak High School, as a Composite Social Studies Teacher and Defensive Coordinator. The Board then voted to renew teacher contracts.

The Colmesneil ISD School Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be April 17 at 7:00 p.m

Spurger ISD Board Discusses Declining Mineral Values

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger ISD held a school board meeting on Thursday, March 1, in the Administration building to discuss various issues, including district goals, declining mineral values, and reading and dyslexia programs.

The first order of business on the regular agenda was a report from the tax accessor. The report stated that since timber prices are falling, the value of minerals will decrease as well, which means that the district will collect less in taxes. A tentative tax audit will be available for the district in the coming months, and the final will be completed in July, but reports are already stating that values will be much lower because of the falling timber and mineral values.

During the district goals report by Mrs. Keppi Fortenberry, the reading and dyslexia program was discussed. In an effort to give every child the same learning experience, students are beginning to be screened for dyslexia and learning problems at a 2nd grade level, then followed and if necessary, evaluated, at a 3rd grade level. Superintendent Joe Fisher says this works because, "kids don't have a solid reading foundation until about third grade, but they have their basics down after 2nd grade, and we begin to watch them at that level." That way, Spurger can catch possible reading developmental problems earlier and place the kids in the appropriate program. As far as the dyslexia and reading program itself, Fisher say's "we will continue to use the same programs because they work." The district also boast having Amber Conner, a certified master reading teacher, at the school to work with students who need the extra help.

The board also passed a resolution to name Emily Waldrep to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Media Honor Roll, a prestigious honor that has never been given to another Spurger resident. The TASB Media Honor Roll's goal is "to recognize representatives who make the effort to get to know the superintendent, board president, and district mission and goals, report school news that is fair, accurate and balanced, give a high profile position to good news about schools, visit the schools and maintain a policy of no surprises by sharing information with school representatives." Nominees for this award get recognition by the board and employees, as well as a certificate and recognition of tasb.org.

The board also voted on a representative on the ESC board of directors, and will be adding Christy Hughes as the single name on the Tyler County Ballot. Winners will be announced after the entire regions votes are counted.

The elementary principal reported that the children are working hard to raise money for a new piece of playground equipment shaped like a large Pirate Ship. The board will be budgeting that next school year, but has no time frame of when that piece of equipment will be purchased.

The board also went over various smaller matters, such as approving David Stickler as the auditor for the next school year, discussing a long range facility improvement plan and budgeting for the coming years and discussing the High Schools One Act Play's performance in competition in Carthage at Panola College on March 22, 2012.

The next board meeting will be held on April 19, 2012 in the Administration building.

Woodville ISD Board reviews goals, property values

by LeAnn Monk

"I know I'm out of order," stated Trey Allison, President of the Woodville ISD School Board, " But I would like to read the Board Goals before we proceed with this meeting. I feel they should be read at least once a quarter to remind us of why we are here and to help direct us in making our decisions." This statement was made at the school board meeting held on Monday, March 19. "Goal 1: Student Achievement- Woodville ISD will focus on STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) and EOC (End of Course) preparation. WISD students will score above the aggregate average of like districts for all tests, as well as above like district averages in all tested areas. WISD will strive to assure that 100 percent of eligible seniors will graduate under current TAKS standards. Woodville ISD will continue to increase district-wide academic performance," read Allison. He went on to say how important it was for the board to keep these goals in mind as they made decisions concerning the district and its students. For a full set of the Board goals, you can contact the WISD Administration Office.

Representatives from the firm Moak, Casey & Associates from Austin, were at the board meeting to discuss necessary action on the pending application the district has for a Chapter 313 Appraised Value Limitation on qualified property. According to Glenn Conner, Superintendent of the District, Woodville ISD would like to submit a completed application for approval to the Texas State Comptroller for appraised value limitation on qualified property. The Chapter 313 is an optional program applicable to school districts only and is set in place to help promote economic development. The basic concept is to allow a ten-year tax relief program for qualified properties. For the first two years the property would be fully taxed. However, during years three through 10, the property would receive a tax break. Eligible projects for this program would be new buildings and business personal property with a value limit ranging from one million to $100 million. These projects must be related to manufacturing, research and development, clean coal, gasification for a coal biomass mixture, renewable electric generation, or nuclear power; and these projects must create at least 10 new permanent jobs. "Basically it's an incentive for new companies, like East Texas Electric Coop and German Pellet Texas, to come in to our county or district. And there is no risk to the school," said Conner. After hearing the update from the firm, the board voted to submit the completed application to the state Comptroller.

Also visiting the members of the School Board was Jenny Grissom. Grissom is a HOSA State Qualifier, having been a finalist in the Health Care Issues Exam. Out of all of the students competing only 10 students advanced in the exam competition to State. Speaking to Grissom, Allison stated, "We are proud of how you represented Woodville ISD". Brook Brown, and AJ Foust also competed in the HOSA competition and are advancing to State in their respective contests as well.

During discussion on the financial statement, Cody Jarrott, from the district's business office advised the board it was time to set a date for the budget workshops. "We need to get an idea of where we are. We have to define what operations are," said Jarrott. "We are going to face challenges we haven't faced before," stated Conner. He went on to explain the district will experience those challenges due new changes by the State Legislature on values to the mineral accounts in the county.

During the Superintendent's Report, Conner reported to the Board the renovations on the music room were finished. He also told the Board construction on the new softball/baseball practice facility should be underway soon. He told the Board they would have to start thinking about replacing the water damage to the roof of the Kirby Gym and the middle school P.E. gym. "We have struggled with our security cameras for a long time," stated the superintendent. He advised the board he was looking into some possible upgrades using current equipment. "They are just good to have," he said. Conner then went over upcoming events happening around the WISD campuses. He pointed out the STAAR testing would be held on March 27 – 28, and April 24 – 27. The WISD campus is also the host of the annual Dogwood Pageant held in the amphitheater on April 7.

WISD Board Meetings are held on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting will be April 16, at 7:00 pm.