updated 8:24 PM UTC, Jan 23, 2020

Meetings

Commissioners discuss courthouse, burials

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court discussed steps to adopt a policy regarding indigent burials during a workshop last week. The topic was discussed but tabled as an agenda item during the regular commissioners court meeting following the workshop, on Monday, Jan. 13.

Melissa Riley, of Riley’s Funeral Home in Woodville, spoke on the topic during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Riley said her business has been assisting with indigent burials since 1985 but wanted to know where the county stands on the issue. “There is no indigent care as far as anyone deceased in the county. I just need to know what to tell these families from now on,” she said.

Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette referred to a telephone conversation he and Riley had concerning the subject, and following a consultation with the county’s legal counsel, realized the need to put a policy in place.

Courthouse project discussed

In a previous meeting, on Dec. 23, 2019, Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock addressed the need to make a distinction, when paying bills pertaining to the courthouse remediation project work, between the required work and the recommended work, the latter of which falls under the heading of rehabilitation.

During this meeting, an invoice from architect Dohn LaBiche was discussed. The invoice billed the county for both types of work on the project, which Sturrock noted included work that was separate and optional from the remediation work required by the Texas Historical Commission. He recommended that any issues pertaining to courthouse rehabilitation be looked at separately and undertaken only after the necessary or mandated steps were completed.

Kay Timme spoke on the topic at last week’s commissioners court meeting and said the architect has since provided a revised invoice which itemizes the type of work. “We’re continuing to study the numbers,” Timme said. The figures on the invoice came out to $25,181 in required work and $8,903 in recommended/rehabilitation work. The revised invoice, which was tabled in its original form last month, was approved to be paid by the county, with the money to be paid from a courthouse remediation line on the budget.

“I would really like to see us stop on the optional work and focus on the required work,” Sturrock said.

Other Business
• Sturrock proposed a change in the county employees’ handbooks to reflect elected officials’ terms, with benefits to begin at 24 years instead of 25. Additionally, he recommended the wording in the handbook be changed from “employee” to “employee/elected official,” which was approved.
• Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford was on hand to inform the commissioners that his office is taking over baliff duties for the courthouse.
• The county approved a bid for Affordable AC Services to maintain the air conditioning systems in all county buildings.

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Council discusses proposed fireworks ordinance

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its first meeting of the year, the Woodville City Council discussed a proposed ordinance to establish limiting the time period for which fireworks can be used within the city limits.

Mayor Paula Jones said the idea for an ordinance, which would limit fireworks usage inside the city limits for the time periods when fireworks are sold, sprung from noise complaints city offices had received.

Statutorily, fireworks can be used at any time, but only sold at certain times, in Texas. Jones’s proposed ordinance allows for them to be used during the periods for which they are sold, Dec. 20 through Jan. 1 and June 24 through July 4.

When councilmembers began to discuss the impact such an ordinance might have, City Administrator Mandy Risinger said an exception would likely have to be made for Dogwood Festival activities. Councilmember Herb Branch said creating an ordinance pertaining to fireworks use will create more problems than what it is intended to solve.

Branch used the example of individuals purchasing fireworks during periods they are sold in order to celebrate events such as birthdays and anniversaries later on. Currently the City of Woodville does not prohibit the use of fireworks at all within the city limits. Risinger said that typically when a city adopts an ordinance pertaining to fireworks usage, they prohibit both the sale and use.

Woodville Police Chief Mike McCulley said the bulk of calls his department receives about fireworks are noise complaints, and any incidents are up to officers’ discretion to intervene.

“If it could be construed as loud and disturbing to the property owners, then we can ask voluntary compliance from the citizens to stop popping the firecrackers at night,” McCulley said.

Aside from noise complaints of fireworks, the possibility that loud noises resembling fireworks could be firearms is also an issue McCulley addressed.

The proposed ordinance was on Monday night’s agenda for information and discussion purposes. The council took no action on the item.

Updates on grants given
In her regular report to council, Risinger gave some updates on grant applications and ongoing projects. She said the environmental study for work on Cobb Mill Road funded by the 2016 flood grant is done, and the city is awaiting a final comment period, which will be followed by a period of public comment.

The funding from a GLO-funded Hurricane Harvey grant in the amount of $300K has been reviewed. The money will cover generator and sewer line replacements. That funding was allocated through the county in the form of a non-competitive grant.

Risinger also spoke about the coming census, and the importance of participating in the count. The census is conducted every 10 years, and Risinger said that all governmental funding is allocated based on census counts, as well as governmental representation.

“Some people would say ‘I don’t want them knowing where I’m at or who I am,’…but they care whether their road’s paid or if their child gets educated,” Risinger said. “It’s all directly related.”

She added this will be the first census year that allows for an online option to be counted. The snapshot date for census taking is April 1.

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Chester cuts no utilities off during Christmas

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By Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – The City of Chester received a pleasing report by Dale Clamon, the Director of Public Works.

Clamon said he did not cut anyone’s gas off during Christmas.

Mayor Floyd Petri and all the council members said they were glad for that and thanked him at their regular meeting on Monday evening, Jan. 6.

City Secretary Annette Hickman reported and submitted the upcoming year’s budget, which did not vary much from the previous year. It was approved with little comment, as was the liability insurance on the city and its properties which reflected small an increase.

Councilwoman Jeannie Johnson reported that the city park’s Christmas lights really looked good this year, and they would continue to improve park facilities. Petri would be getting with Entergy about the couple of streetlights the city pays for and that have been out for a while.

Clamon also reported on the gas meter reading equipment, how some of it is dated and due for upgrading. His foresight allowed the city to procure extra parts so that there was no emergency. After several questions, the sum was that they had about two years before they would eventually have to upgrade most.

The city is now running Windows 10, which was an upgrade facilitated by Petri’s son, Chuck Petri, which came at no cost to the city.
Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows 7, which the city was using. Councilmembers were particularly elated over the fact the upgrade came at no cost, and Councilwoman Sandra Fails mentioned that other offices had done similar upgrades.

In other business, the council passed the previous minutes and the financials and Petri is keeping the Incident Command System training on the agenda.

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Commissioners receive courthouse updates

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette was in a reflective mood during the last meeting of the commissioners court on Monday, Dec. 23.

Blanchette congratulated the two newest additions to the court, Stevan Sturrock and Buck Hudson, for their service to the county, and noted that they were elected at a time when challenges lay before the county’s governing body, notably the continuing remediation work on the courthouse.

Within the regular agenda items, the commissioners voted to award a bid to Marsh Waterproofing for the re-roofing project on the courthouse. The bid from Marsh on the project was the sole bid received early in December, and it was submitted to architect Dohn LaBiche to see if it met the requirements to be in compliance with the Texas Historical Commission.

LaBiche recommended the bid to the county, as it met all the specifications. In addition to awarding the bid for the needed repair work, one item on the agenda concerned paying the bills from LaBiche’s firm for work to the courthouse.

Part of the invoice to the county involved rehabilitation work to the courthouse, in addition to the work LaBiche had put toward the roofing project.

Sturrock clarified that the rehabilitation component was separate and optional from the THC-required remediation work and requested that issues pertaining to courthouse rehabilitation be looked at separately, and only after necessary or mandated steps were completed. The commissioners voted to approve paying LaBiche for the roofing work.

In his remarks on the standing agenda item concerning the courthouse work, Blanchette said the project, overall, is “moving in a very appropriate way.”

Other Business
Tina Cleberg, the county’s veterans service officer, gave a report to the court, and said her office has been “fairly active.” Cleberg said during the months of November and December, her office saw 191 veterans, and provided “good support for vets who need assistance.”

Commissioners gave recognition to Jim Boone and Kelly Jobe for their respective years of service to Tyler County. Boone, who served for five years on the board of the Southeast Texas Groundwater Conservation District, and Jobe, who is retiring from her position as the Family and Community Health Agent from the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office, were both on hand to receive plaques recognizing their years of service.

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