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updated 8:30 PM UTC, Nov 15, 2018

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CyberTips lead authorities to child porn allegations in separate cases

Screen Shot 2018 11 15 at 8.39.01 AMBy Chris Edwards

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WOODVILLE – Two Tyler County residents were recently taken into custody on charges related to child pornography after county authorities were tipped off by a CyberTip in each case.

Billy Cain, 55, of Fred and Justin Methvin, 27, of Colmesneil, were arrested at their respective residences by Tyler County Sheriff’s Office personnel who were assisted by the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Unit to execute both search warrants. The search warrant for Cain was executed on Oct. 27, while the one for Methvin was executed on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

According to a news release from TCSO, the investigators with the Child Exploitation Unit were able to verify the credibility of the tip and were able to determine the source in each case.

According to TCSO, Cain and Methvin were both taken into custody last Tuesday. Cain is charged with Promotion of Child Pornography and his bond was pre-set at $50,000 by 1A District Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker. He is currently in the Tyler County Jail.

Methvin, who is charged with Possession of Child Pornography, had his bond set at $4,000 by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford. Methvin made bond, according to the news release.

According to the Texas penal code, the offense of possessing any type of child pornography in any medium is a third-degree felony. A defendant is guilty of a second-degree felony when he or she knowingly or intentionally promotes or possesses such material with the intent of promotion.

Penalties for these offenses include a range of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Penalties for a third-degree felony offense include 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum of a $10,000 fine. In addition to these possible penalties, anyone who is convicted of an offense involving child pornography is required to register as a sex offender for life.

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Properties draw concerns from Woodville residents

Vacant structures such as this one have drawn attention and complaints from many Woodville residents. ICHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Vacant structures such as this one have drawn attention and complaints from many Woodville residents. ICHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

 

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The old idiom about one man’s trash amounting to treasure in another’s eyes is not applicable for many Woodville residents and their views on several properties within the city limits.

One of the most common complaints received by city employees (as well as at the Booster) pertains to unkempt properties which likely harbor nuisance. “People complain about this a lot and talk of neighborhoods needing ‘cleaned up,’ but it is a process,” Woodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger said.
According to chapter 34 of the city’s by-laws (a chapter pertaining to health and sanitation matters), under Article III which addresses the condition of premises, the city forbids any person to have an accumulation of stagnant water or of carrion, filth or “unwholesome matter” on a piece of property owned by that person within the city.

"The section also states it unlawful for property owners to “allow weeds, rubbish, brush, non-operable automobiles or any other unsightly, objectionable or unsanitary matter to be, accumulate or grow on the lot.”

“In the more extensive cases, the process can take from six months to several years. We have one property that I have been working on since I came to work here seven years ago, but the specifics of the case have made it difficult to abate,” Risinger said.

According to the by-laws, the process the city undertakes in order to address such situations is as follows: a notice is issued to the property owner with a 10-day window to remove or remedy the conditions. If the owner fails to comply within the time period, “the city may do whatever is necessary to remove or remedy the condition, or cause the work to be done,” and the expenses incurred in the process go to the property owner. However, as Risinger noted, although the ordinance clearly states such, the city rarely receives any reimbursement or recoups any of the expenses in abatement and cleanup cases.
Risinger said a factor to consider is that Woodville has no on-staff code enforcement officer. “Unfortunately clean up and code enforcement sometimes take a backseat to other full-time duties and responsibilities,” she said.

“Despite the authority and responsibilities laid out in our ordinances, state law prevails over these proceedings and so we contract out for inspections and reports of the physical condition of properties.”

Most of the complaints about overgrown yards are typically made in the summer and warmer months, Risinger said. “Trash and junk complaints typically come in the winter months when the vegetation dies off and the weather is bad,” she said.

In the chapter of the city’s by-laws pertaining to dangerous structures, it states that all unsafe buildings declared as such shall be abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition, or removal in accordance with procedures provided in the text. These provisions, according to the text, are enforced by the city fire marshal.

Part of the problem, according to Risinger, is many of the structures drawing complaints are vacant homes. She estimates 90% of them fall into this category.

She broke down the types of problematic properties with the estimate that 5-7% to 10% are vacant lots or commercial properties while only 3% are inhabited structures. She also mentioned a couple of old churches that fall under the category of problematic properties.

One Woodville resident who voiced concerns to the Booster about several properties said it was “disrespectful” to some past leaders (e.g. Judge Josiah Wheat) for whom streets are named with such properties.

Visible as the problems might be, it ultimately comes down to resources. Risinger said the cost of abatement for a nuisance property is approximately $20,000 for a 1,000-2,000 square foot structure with no asbestos abatement, and then there is clearing and cleaning the lot. “Then you begin annual battles and notices for mowing and lot maintenance,” she said.

“Sometimes this process becomes a vicious cycle,” she said.

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Tyler County voters turn out in record numbers

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By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – Tuesday brought a conclusion to the 2018 midterms. For Tyler County voters, their turnout went along with a statewide and national trend.

This election saw record numbers of voters casting their ballots for the two weeks of early voting with 3,942 voters getting to the polls. In all, 7,149 voters were tallied in Tuesday’s unofficial results.

In statewide races, Tyler Countians voted overwhelmingly Republican. The senate race between incumbent Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke was one of the most watched races in the country with O’Rourke mounting a grassroots campaign against Cruz and winning February’s Democratic Party primary. The race was projected as a Cruz victory at press time, while Tyler Countians supported Cruz with 5,883 votes to O’Rourke’s 1,188 and Libertarian Neal Dikeman received 39 votes.

Brian Babin, who represents Texas House District 36 in Congress defeated Democrat challenger Dayna Steele, and carried Tyler County with 6,027 votes to Steele’s 1,050.
Governor Greg Abbott won his bid for re-election against Democratic opponent Lupe Valdez and Libertarian challenger Mark Jay Tippetts. Abbott received 6,041 votes in Tyler County to Valdez’s 975 and Tippetts’
74.

Another closely watched race was the battle for Lieutenant Governor. Incumbent Dan Patrick, Republican, was projected to win at press time against Mike Collier, a Democrat. In Tyler County, Patrick received 5,587 votes to Collier’s 1,312. Libertarian challenger Kerry Douglas McKennon got 113 votes.

Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton were virtually tied at press time, however Tyler Countians voted to re-elect Paxton with 5,673 votes over his Democratic challenger Justin Nelson with 1,222 votes and Libertarian Michael Ray Harris with 116.

State Rep. James White of Hillister, who represents the county as part of Texas House District 19, won over his Democratic challenger Sherry Williams and notched 6,054 Tyler Countians’ votes to Williams’s 985.

In local races, Paula Jones won the position of Mayor of the City of Woodville with 226 votes to Mike Maness ’s 198 and Barbara James Smith’s 188. Robert A. “Tony” Greer won a seat on the Woodville City Council with 343 votes to Lee P. Mann’s 246.

Greg Stewart won his bid for the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees with 893 votes ahead of challengers Tony Castillo with 747 and Ben Shepherd wit 411.

The Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees race saw Twyla Darder receive 458 votes over Jim Carlton’s 364, Bo Bendy’s 354 and Tina L. Cleberg’s 144 votes.
C.L. “Buck” Hudson won the Precinct 4 Commissioner spot with 1,139 votes to Lavoy Eason’s 504.

In another Tyler County race, the Ivanhoe Bond Issue, which budgets $2 million for road repairs in the city, 318 votes were tallied for the measure while 236 voted against it.

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Ivanhoe mayor addresses bond questions at town hall

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By Chris Edwards
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IVANHOE – Ivanhoe citizens are set to vote yay or nay on the city’s bond election. If it passes, the $2 million bond will go toward improving the city’s roads.

The bond was on the ballot in May but lost by a narrow margin. Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett recently held a town hall meeting at the Ivanhoe Civic Center to address concerns surrounding the measure. The meeting, held on Saturday, Oct. 13, was also live-streamed to Youtube. Bennett began the meeting by addressing the question of why the issue was up for election a second time.

She quoted remarks made in a report by the Veridus Group, a firm of economic advisers who assessed the road conditions in Ivanhoe through an economic recovery grant. Veridus personnel stated that the road conditions in Ivanhoe are “comparable to ‘developing countries’,” Bennett said.

She said the roads had pretty much reached the end of their serviceable life and that the deterioration had reached a point where the difference could be noted day to day.

She also noted that mail delivery had been suspended in one area and complaints had been made regarding the wear and tear on school buses. Bennett has also addressed the condition of the roads with Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette as the issue pertains to ambulance service; that the current provider Acadian has encountered issues in getting to Ivanhoe residences given the road conditions.

With the city’s limited budget, the majority of Ivanhoe city council members saw no other alternative than to call for a second bond election with the hope of being able to better inform the citizens of the need and also to consider a new map based on input from the community and seeing a need for evacuation routes in the event of hurricanes or other flood events, Bennett said.

Bennett mentioned that Ivanhoe residents were invited to bring alternative plans to the table, which included acquiring a water system and un-incorporating, with the assumption that the county would take over the maintenance of the streets. “We don’t see where there’s any alternative,” Bennett said. Bennett said the first idea was not feasible, and the second “could not happen; that Ivanhoe would go back to being a private community with virtually no funding.” Precinct 1 Commissioner Martin Nash affirmed this statement.

At the meeting, as well as the most recent city council meeting, Bennett also addressed the issue of trust as to the bond issue. She noted that some opponents have circulated handbills and posted signs with false information, stating that the bond election is for the amount of $2 billion and not the $2 million figure. Bennett acknowledged that trust issues existed across the country with all governing bodies and understood the concern.

She asked for volunteers to serve on an audit committee, which will review the monthly expenditures and also explained that the monies from bonds, by law, must be held in closely audited separate accounts from other municipal expenditures.

Bennett said that detailed information about the bond issue and the proposed road improvements are available through the city’s website, located at cityofivanhoetx.com. Hard copy handouts of the information are also available from city hall and Bennett encouraged anyone with questions to call her at 409-429-6752.

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