by Leann Monk
In the regular monthly meeting of the Woodville City Council held March 12, Council proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety month. TCOC&I, Texas Confederation of Clubs & Independents, Region 4, from Beaumont was at the meeting presenting the request for the proclamation. Mayor Ben Bythewood read and then signed the proclamation urging all of the community to become aware of the inherent danger involved in operating a motorcycle and to give the operator the respect on the road they deserve.
Next on the agenda to discuss and take action on was the issue of the variance to the noise ordinance for March 30 and 31. This issue was first reported by the Booster last month, when Kendall Coleman petitioned the Court to modify the current ordinance the City has in place by allowing amplified music past the hours of 10:00 p.m. on March 30 and 31 for the Second Annual Zydeco Showdown. Last month this request was tabled until a representative from Coleman's group could be present to further explain the group's intentions. However, neither Coleman nor a representative from his organization was present during the council meeting. City Administrator, Mandy Risinger explained to Council that Coleman emailed a modification to the original request. Coleman now wanted to adjust the variance to the ordinance for March 31 only, making the request for one day instead of two. Council asked Police Chief Scott Yosko his thoughts on the City approving the variance.
"The area in question is a residential area. If you have loud music or noise going on after 10 p.m. you are going to have complaints by the residents," Yosko said. He went on to explain to Council other issues involved with having the Showdown. One specific issue brought out by the Police Chief was that of the overtime incurred by his department and the city. "This event cost the City last year in overtime with our police officer working over," Yosko said. "We bent over backwards to help them out," he went on to say.
"If Council does allow the variance, I suggest they provide licensed peace officers to be present that are "not on our clock," suggested Risinger. Bythewood then called for action on the issue, at which point councilman Caleb Spurlock made the motion to take no action. Bythewood called for discussion and Councilwoman Paula Jones noted that, "If it's important enough to amend the rules, you should be here." The motion passed unanimously. There will be no change to the current noise ordinance which states there can be no amplified music at any time in a residential area.
Mic Cowart from Entergy addressed Council regarding billing changes and tree removal. "Our services are improving and our prices are going down," said Cowart. He explained to Council that the Entergy customers would be seeing a fuel refund. Currently, the cost per kilowatt hour is $114.14. Beginning this month and continuing through May the cost per kilowatt hour will be around $81.28. Cowart asked the question, "What do you get for your money?" "Reliability," he said. The Entergy representative explained the goal is to provide the least amount of outages for their customers. This is gaged by the SAIFI or System Average Interruption Frequency Index. The SAIFI equals the number of customers experiencing an outage, divided by the total number of customers served. In the Woodville network, the total Entergy customers served is 7,200 as of January of this year. Cowart reported a 21 percent improvement from previous years. He also explained the big push for Entergy was tree removal. Downed trees have become an epidemic due to previous hurricane damage and the recent drought conditions. "The trees are stressed," explained Cowart. "As of right now we have removed 380 trees in the Woodville area," said Cowart. He went on to say outages are primarily due to the downed tree issue. "Entergy is working hard to clear the lines to fix this problem," Cowart said.
Also up for consideration was a city ordiance repealing a current ordinance concerning the provision of certain health insurance benefits or Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) to retired City employees. This agenda item was an ordinance to repeal the previous action providing postemployment benefits to retirees who met certain qualifications. These postemployment benefits are intact to all current employees and qualified retirees, but will not be offered to newly hired employees. Citizens can obtain a copy of this revised ordinance from the City office.
The City Administrator then gave her report by proclaiming to Council, "It's Dogwood Time in Tyler County!" Risinger told councilmembers she was still working with Fire Chief Shane and the ISO to update the City's fire code rating. "The survey went well. It looks like our rating should improve, but we cannot get a definite answer at this point."
Police Chief Yosko gave his racial profiling report to Council. He summed the report up by stating "According to the report, white males are the worst drivers."
The Woodville City Council meets the second Monday of each month. The next meeting will be April 9 at 7 p.m.