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updated 2:44 PM UTC, Sep 20, 2019

Meetings

Public comments portion added to commissioners court

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court added a public comments section for its regular meetings. The new addition was introduced during Monday morning’s meeting by County Judge Jacques Blanchette.

Blanchette went over the protocol for members of the public who wish to make comments at meetings. Anyone wishing to comment on a particular issue (or issues) before the court must fill out a form, which will be available prior to the meeting from the county clerk, Blanchette’s office or on the county’s website. The comments are limited to a maximum of five minutes per participant, or 30 minutes total on a singular topic for more than one speaker.

Blanchette handed out a list of the rules of procedure, conduct and decorum at meetings to the commissioners for review. These were adopted by way of an agenda item.

Union Church discussed
Precinct 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall spoke about a topic which he has fielded questions and concerns from Doucette area residents. The Doucette Union Church, which has long been in disrepair and inactive, is registered by the Texas Historical Commission as a historic site. Several residents have expressed concern at the condition of the building, Marshall said, particularly the risk it poses to children who might play inside it.

Marshall said the church has not been used in years, but the historic designation from the state and the concern of residents necessitate action. He asked the court for approval on seeking legal counsel on the matter, and suggested the residents hold a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.

Courthouse project updates
Under the standing agenda item for updates on the courthouse remediation project, Kay Timme reported some recent findings and progress to the court. She said the LaBiche firm who are serving as the project’s preservation architects, are continuing to communicate with the state historical commission.

“They are making progress, item-by-item, as to what they are approved to do,” she said. Timme said she is confident the firm will have all the required work completed in a timely matter, which will meet the project’s deadlines put forth by THC.

Other Business
The commissioners also approved the following items during Monday’s meeting:
• A mutual aid agreement between the county and DETCOG for the coming fiscal year was approved. The aide is for assistance in the event of disasters.
• Commissioners approved an interview process to fill the vacancy for the county’s Veterans Service Officer.

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County receives audit reports; courthouse update

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County received an opinion of “unmodified” on its fiscal year 2018-19 audit. The findings were presented during Monday morning’s meeting of the commissioners court.

Darla Belt Dear, of the firm Belt, Harris, Pechacek, LLP was on hand to present a draft of the audit to county officials. Dear praised the efforts of county employees, particularly county auditor Jackie Skinner and her staff, for an exceptional job in handling the county’s expenditures. The unmodified opinion is the highest finding an entity can receive on an audit finding, Dear noted.
In the general fund, Dear reported total revenue for the county at $9,747,414 and total expenditures at $8,770,505.

“Overall we are in solid shape as a governmental entity. We are adequately reserved for any major concern that should effect Tyler County,” county judge Jacques Blanchette said. Blanchette expressed gratitude to Dear for her work in presenting the audit and noted that Sunny Gardner was responsible for compiling it.

Blanchette proposed a workshop with Dear so that new commissioners Stevan Sturrock and Buck Hudson to become familiar with the process used to compile the audit’s findings.

Skinner noted that the audit goes to the firm’s main office once it is put together, where it is examined and checked for accuracy by at least two more representatives. “It’s not just one person auditing all of the county business…it goes through four different layers,” she said.

Commissioners voted to approve the draft of the audit for a final presentation.

Courthouse project update
Under the standing agenda item of updates on the courthouse remediation project, Blanchette said the committee met last Friday with the LaBiche architectural firm, who are working as the preservation architects on the project, as mandated by the Texas Historical Commission.

Committee member Kay Timme reported that the two architects present at the meeting were “very pleased with the way things are going.” The last progress report indicated that LaBiche was 30 percent done with drawings, and once complete, they will present them to THC in order to move forward.

Blanchette said that in the meeting, it was revealed that general construction laborers will be able to work on parts of the project instead of workers who specialize in historic preservation projects, which will save the county money. The county will also be able to save on materials used in the project, Blanchette said.

Office lease revised, relocated
Commissioners approved a revised lease agreement for the office of State Representative James White. White’s office space has been relocated from the Tyler County Annex located on West Bluff Street to the suite of offices on North Charlton Street, which also houses the adult probation office and commissioners’ offices.

The Annex sustained water damage two weeks ago when a water heater burst and flooded the building. The damage also necessitated moving the tax assessor/collector’s office and the Department of Public Safety Driver’s License Office. The former was also moved to the building located at 203 N. Charlton, whereas the DPS office relocation will take a little longer.

“It looks like that may be a good place for him to satisfy the requirements of the state offices which oversee reps’ offices,” Blanchette said.

Other Business
During Monday morning’s meetings, county commissioners also approved the following items:
• Commissioners voted to move the county’s human resources and payroll departments into the treasurer’s office, effective in January 2020. They also approved training for those departments to take place in November at a cost of around $5,000.
• A renewal was approved for an existing interlocal agreement between the county and Lubbock County for the service of using regional public defenders on capital cases tried in the county.
• Commissioners approved a series of interlocal agreements between the county and Spurger, Warren and Woodville independent school districts for the use of materials and manpower on infrastructure projects.
• An interlocal agreement with Texas Department of Information Resources was approved. By requirement of the Secretary of State, an election security assessment exercise must be conducted. The exercise will be done at no cost to the county, unless a breach of security is found.
• Commissioners voted to approve the renewal of the Leads Online service for the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office. The service is used to assist in investigations.

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Commissioners receive updates on courthouse projects

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County commissioners received updates on the ongoing remediation work for the courthouse at Monday morning’s meeting of the commissioners court.

One agenda item involved the authorization of LaBiche Architectural Group to begin repairs to the building’s roof. The Beaumont-based firm has been appointed to serve as the preservation architects for the project, in accordance with the Texas Historical Commission’s requirements of the county to fulfill. The roof repairs are a separate category of work from the ongoing remediation work and eventual restoration, according to County Judge Jacques Blanchette. “There is a category of emergency need that the county has,” Blanchette said.

“By having the architect already engaged to represent the county he is authorized to move us through the process with the Historical Commission…I’m asking the court to allow him to go ahead move forward with getting the roof repaired,” he said.

Under the regular agenda item for remediation updates, Blanchette said the county is awaiting additional work to be completed by LaBiche. The firm is about 30% done on its drawings for the project. When that phase is complete, the drawings will be submitted to THC for approval.

Hurricane Harvey buyout application
Commissioners approved a resolution to submit to the Texas General Land Office for the acquisition and buyout component of the Hurricane Harvey funding package for the county.

Blanchette said the resolution was recommended by Lesley Waxman for articulation’s sake. “She was concerned the General Land Office might possibly come back at a later time and say we didn’t specifically articulate this part of it,” he said.

Other Business
During Monday’s regular meeting, the commissioners also approved the following items:

• The optional fees from vehicle registration in the county was approved. The additional $1.50, which is a child safety fee, collected through vehicle registrants, was created by the Texas Legislature in 1991 to put toward programs which promote child safety. One program the money has benefitted in Tyler County is the summer youth work program. Terry Allen, who heads up the program, spoke about the value of it and the work experience county youth are able to gain.
Allen said that through the program, since it began, the county has hired about 130 students from across the county.

• The purchase of a 2018 Dodge Ram 3500 from Pearman Motor Company for Precinct 1 was approved. Pct. 1 Commissioner Martin Nash noted that although the purchase is below $50K, he wanted to bring it to the court’s attention.

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Commissioners authorize CDBG grant submission

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – During Monday morning’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court, the county approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a CDBG grant amount toward designated projects.

Lesley Waxman of the David J. Waxman consulting firm spoke to the court about the grant process. The application was made to the CDBG Disaster Recovery Program for repairs to damages incurred through Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

The awarded amount of $757,502 was split between Woodville, Ivanhoe and Tyler County Special Utility District. Waxman said the projects that have been designated by each entity will be posted for public comment by Thursday. The projects slated include work on water, street and sewer systems.

Interlocal agreement with DMV approved
Commissioners approved an interlocal agreement between the county and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles at Monday morning’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court.

Lynnette Cruse, the county tax assessor, presented the agreement, which is a provision acknowledging the county’s responsibility for overseeing the equipment and consumables on the registration and title system.

Williams named to Burke Board
Tyler County Hospital CEO Sondra Williams was appointed to serve a two-year term on the Burke Board of Trustees as the Tyler County representative on the board.

Williams replaces Dr. Sandra Wright, the former TCH CEO, who served on the Burke Board for 14 years. Wright was recognized for her service with a plaque at the last regular meeting of the commissioners court. Williams will begin her term on Sept. 1.

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