Trustees take oath to start new term

Tammy Watts, right, administers the oath of office to Jimmy Tucker, left, at Monday’s meeting of the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees. Fellow trustees elected Tucker to continue as board president. Valerie Reddell photo. Tammy Watts, right, administers the oath of office to Jimmy Tucker, left, at Monday’s meeting of the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees. Fellow trustees elected Tucker to continue as board president. Valerie Reddell photo.

Woodville ISD trustees Jimmy Tucker and Bret Smith each took the oath of office Monday after their election to a new term on the board. The board then re-elected Tucker as president, Bret Smith as vice-president and John Wilson as secretary.

"We will strive to do our best to serve you as officers," Tucker said.

Trustees also unanimously approved an application for a waiver from the Texas Education Agency for missed instructional days in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Woodville ISD closed for five days when much of Tyler County saw widespread flooding when Hurricane Harvey lingered over Southeast Texas.

Principals from each of the WISD campuses presented a summer of their campus improvement plans which were updated to help ensure the district meets accountability criteria set by the Texas Education Agency.

The challenge lies in the fact that the agency is still drafting the policy on accountability criteria. In effect, students, teachers and administrators are trying to hit a target for the current school year that hasn't been set yet.

In the meantime, campus leaders say they are working to improve reading levels among students who have struggled in prior years.

For example, all middle school students are participating in a "Drop Everything and Read" program in the mornings, according to principal Eric Holton. Students at that campus who have been identified as needing to improve skills are also participating in afterschool tutorials for the next six weeks to improve their mastery of skills and concepts that will appear on the mandated test.

High School Principal Morgan Wright told the board that his campus would not make any major changes since they mastered 14 out of 15 criteria, but they would not become complacent.
"We know we've had some success, but we won't want to rest on that," Wright said.

Staff members have put together a plan on how to look at some students in special populations that could have an impact on the district's rating as a whole.

Wright said they are using the zero hour to help students master areas that they are struggling with.
The other goal at the high school has been to focus on courses in multiple career pathways that students can pursue.

WHS started a criminal justice program last year. A second class has been added and they hope to launch a forensic science class next year.

Fourteen students are enrolled in a teacher prep program, and they are given the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with younger students.

Wright said they run surveys from time to time to judge what interests current and incoming students have.

"The building program has taken off," Wright said. "Students are building deer stands, chairs and other things. They are getting hands-on lessons on how to use a saw, how to measure and other important skills."

"The game we play is driven by data," Superintendent Glen Conner said. "We collect data about where kids are academically and where their interests are from a career standpoint when they get to high school."

Conner also commended the efforts to work closely to integrate lessons on all campuses, so that students have a smooth transition from one school to another as they move toward graduation.
"We use the data to make changes in classrooms from a day to day basis, not a six-week basis," Conner said.

Trustees also expressed appreciation to the staff.

"Looking at all those plans, I heard from each of y'all the goals that we set (as a board)," trustee Trey Allison said. "I realize communication is flowing from the superintendent to you. Math and reading are No. 1."

Allison also praised the campus leaders for breaking down the goals and implementing steps to reach those goals.

"Many people set goals and don't really look at them till the next year rolls around," Allison added.
During the superintendent's report, Conner informed the board that trees on the intermediate campus had received a "haircut" during the Thanksgiving break.

"It's more aesthetic, and it might get the grass growing on some areas of bare sod and eliminates the hazard posed by dead limbs," Conner said.

Work on drainage issues and gutters at the high school building was completed as well.

"We are still waiting on doors. I thought some would be installed over the holidays, but that didn't happen," he added.

Conner also would like to schedule a security workshop to harden the buildings in light of things that have happened recently at school facilities and other public buildings.

During a discussion on attendance and enrollment, Wilson asked why enrollment varies widely from grade to grade.

Conner answered that there are some classes that start with fewer students in early grades, then remain smaller as the students advance through the grades.

As an example, Conner pointed out that the current ninth grade class has been smaller throughout their school career.

Colmesneil Council members take oath

By Mollie LaSalle

Colmesneil City Secretary Mandy Pattillo swore in Duane Crews and Gene Allen to a new two-year term. The council also elected Crews to continue in the position of Mayor Pro-Tem.

A reading of the city budget for the 2018 fiscal year was tabled until the December meeting. All office reports, including financial and investments and water and sewer were approved, and council went into executive session to review and approve a salary increase for the city secretary.

A discussion to transfer funds from the general account to the savings account was approved. The council voted to put $50,000 into an interest-bearing account at Citizens State Bank. Signatories will be Mayor Baird, council member Duane Crews and Mandy Pattillo were retained as authorized signees.

Plans are underway to pave parts of Pine and Oak Streets, and the repairs to City Hall and the fence at the community center are finished. All city staff will have their Christmas party after next month's meeting, set for Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.

Woodville water projects finishing

By Valerie Reddell
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Woodville City Manager Mandy Risinger announced to members of the Woodville City Council that the $2 million project for a new water plant. The project will finish slightly under budget, Risinger added. It was funded through a public-private partnership with ETEC.

Work on the water well at the industrial park has finished and water lines have been pressure tests, she added. Once TCEQ obtains water samples and determines they pass testing, the well will go online.

The city is also waiting for insurance adjusters to assess damages to city hall related to roof damage and a water leak from Hurricane Harvey.

Rising has also contacted the contractor that installed the roof to determine if any warranty applies to the repairs needed.

"All in all we were very fortunate during Harvey," Risinger said.

Code enforcement officials are working with property owners who installed a communications tower on Sutton and Dogwood without pulling a permit.

"We have been unable to verify that the foundation meets code," Risinger said. "They have been instructed to lower the tower until an engineer can inspect the foundation."

"We are concerned that if the foundation fails, it could have serious ramifications. We are working with the inspector and property owner.
Municipal Court Judge Judith Haney reported that 217 citations were processed by the court during September. Haney also discussed

Chester council cancels November city election

By Chuck Davidson

Five of six Chester City council members met Monday, Sept. 11, in City Hall at 6 p.m. and voted to cancel November elections to fill two positions as no one had registered to oppose the current members.

Board member Jimmy Herrington's resignation was then accepted and with board approval, Patrick Cherry's appointment was accepted and he was sworn in by Mayor Floyd Petri to complete Herington's two-year term.

The mayor has been appointed Chester's emergency manager to work with the state and Tyler County officials.
An immediate concern is to upgrade the emergency radio system which currently functions at a 50 percent level after repairs; this is part of the ARES which is used to facilitate communication during an emergency.

Chester does have one working antenna but needs another one and may need a new radio system. No action taken.

The city park's lighting and scoreboard needs were discussed with the decision to wait for the electric company to check out why lights do not currently work. Finding a compatible control box to run the scoreboard at the city park is also under way.

The meeting adjourned at 6:51 after a lively discussion on the reelection process for council members and usage of office space by non-official citizens.

Colmesneil school board OKs 2018 budget, tax rate

By Mollie LaSalle

Colmesneil ISD trustees met Aug. 31 in a shortened meeting to discuss budgets and tax rates. The board quickly got down to business, approving the minutes of the special called meeting of Aug. 10 before moving on to the business at hand.

Superintendent Angela Matterson laid out in detail the items for consideration, and the board approved, in short order, the following items:
• Amendments to the 2016-2017 school year budget;
• Approval of the 2017-2018 budget;
• Approval of an ordinance adopting a tax rate for 2017-2018;
• Approval of a Joint Election Agreement and Contract for Election Services with Tyler County; and
• approval of an order for a CISD School Trustee Election, to be held Nov. 8.

One item on the agenda, the approval of payments of final bills for the 2016-2017 school year, was tabled until the September meeting.

The topic that was front and center was the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

The new school year was only one week in when Harvey rolled in and put a halt to all school activities. Students had to take an extended break during this time, as did all schools in the county.

Plans for the students to start back on Sept. 5 were rescheduled for Sept. 6.

CISD has received a waiver for five days from the Texas Education Agency in regards to missed school days, and students will not be required to make up these days due to the hurricane.

Closing weekend at Lake Tejas was cancelled due to safety issues and condition of the water due to the storm.
Plans to drain the lake — which is done every year after Labor Day — were still in place.

Matterson closed out the meeting on a positive note, stating that enrollment is up for the new school year, and students and teachers are eager and excited to get back to school.

Pattillo named Colmesneil city secretary

By Mollie LaSalle

Colmesneil City Council ordered a general election for Nov. 7 to fill the expiring terms of the mayor and two at-large council seats.
The council unanimously agreed to hold a joint election with other entities in Tyler County and contract with elections administrator Donece Gregory.

Mayor Don Baird noted that if no one files for the positions of mayor and the two at large council seats, the city would save $2,500.
Repairs to City Hall were discussed, stemming from damage that occurred April 7, when a postal vehicle ran into the front of the building.
The city accepted a bid from JSW Construction of Chester to do the repairs to the building. No set time has been chosen for the work to begin.

A comment was made about repairs to Pitzer Road, and Baird reiterated the fact that the city has applied for a grant in regards to repairs, and that the Colmesneil is in the top 20 cities to receive funding.

Concerns over the age of the water and sewer lines in the city were discussed at length by council members.

The current system was installed in 1973, and council members noted that these systems are only designed to last 30 to 40 years.

City secretary Mandy Pattillo reminded everyone present that the deadline to file to run in the upcoming election is Aug. 21.

Pattillo assumed the position of City Secretary on July 25, after the resignation of Carrie Holson, who had held the position since 1996. Carrie has moved to Albany, Texas with her new husband, and we wish her all the best. She will be missed.

In other business, the council renewed the contract with Citizens Bank.

Financial reports for the city were tabled until next month, as bank statements had not come in the mail in time for the meeting.