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updated 2:16 PM UTC, Jun 25, 2019

Meetings

Commissioners denote ‘Heart Health Month’ in Tyler County

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County Commissioners received updates on several items and approved some purchasing at the Monday, Feb. 25 meeting of commissioners court.

One item on the agenda that County Judge Jacques Blanchette presented in the form of a proclamation recognized the month of February as “Heart Health Month” in Tyler County. The national emphasis on heart health throughout the month places a focus on making life changes to prevent heart disease and encouraging doctors and nurses to become leaders in their respective communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease and making healthier choices in life.

Tyler County Hospital CEO Sondra Williams, as well as TCH employees Christina Hood and Janay Gilbert and Ken Jobe, Hospital Board Chairman, were on hand to recognize the proclamation and Heart Health Month.

Mutual aid for juvenile counseling/mental health services
An agreement was approved for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) to provide counseling and/or mental health services for juvenile offenders in Tyler County.

This routine mutual-aid agreement, which was presented to the court by Terry Allen, the county’s chief juvenile probation officer, “seemed to meet all of the criteria”, Blanchette said.

Purchases approved for Pct 4
Commissioners approved two purchases for Precinct 4 of heavy equipment. In two separate agenda items, the purchase of a 2019 Mack truck tractor and a CPS belly dump trailer from the Wichita Falls-based dealership Bruckner’s was approved.

The funds for these purchases will come from HGAC, a cooperative government-to-government buy board.

At its Monday meeting, commissioners also voted to approve the following agenda items:
• A resolution authorizing the submission of a fiscal year 2019-2020 Texas Community Development Block Grant was presented and approved.
• An intergovernmental agreement between the county and the Tyler County Special Utility District (formerly Tyler County Water Supply Corp.) was approved.
• The investment of additional county funds in the Texas Class Pool Funds was approved. County Treasurer LeAnn Monk recommended this action as the county is “currently sitting on quite a bit of money” not drawing significant interest.
• The appointment of Jennifer Miller as ESD #3 Commissioner through Dec. 31, 2020 was made.

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Commissioners approve equipment transfer; application resolution

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – In its third meeting of 2019, the Tyler County Commissioners Court met and tackled its agenda in a short, succinct manner, clocking in at 20 minutes, as County Judge Jacques Blanchette noted.

One of the items on Monday morning’s agenda concerned the transfer of ownership of a five-ton military grade dump truck from the office of Pct. 2 Constable John Fuller to the City of Chester. The truck, according to Fuller, is a 1985 model and has some maintenance issues. He said the city has expressed interest in owning the truck and will take care of the maintenance and insurance on it. Fuller added that if at any time the vehicle is needed by Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock, the city would have no problem allowing him to use it.

Blanchette said through the years Tyler County has benefited from the ability to procure military equipment, but for record-keeping, all of the purchases must come through the court prior to acquisition by a precinct or county department. Commissioners approved the transfer.

In other business, commissioners voted to approve the authorization for submission of a Texas Community Development Block Grant for fiscal year 2019-2020. Lesley Waxman of David J. Waxman Inc. was on hand to speak about the process. “[The resolution] is saying that you’re authorizing us to submit an application to the Texas Department of Agriculture. You are not putting up any money…it also gives you the authority to sign all documents associated with this grant,” she said.

The CDBG grant, according to Blanchette, is for the amount of $275K.

Blanchette put the resolution in the form of a motion and was seconded by Pct.1 Commissioner Martin Nash.

The commissioners also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Tyler County Special Utility District, which was previously known as the Tyler County Water Supply Corporation. The agreement was needed, Blanchette said, because the SUD wishes to proceed with a CDBG application which will go through a committee appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, and which Nash is a member.

The agreement authorizes Blanchette, on behalf of the court, to award the grant money, if the SUD is found favorable to receive funds from the grant, if it is awarded to the county.

Resolution passed in support of Alabama-Coushatta tribe
Blanchette said the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Polk County are being discriminated against in their fight to maintain the Naskila Gaming center. The commissioners voted to approve a new resolution in support of the tribe.

The new resolution in support of the tribe reflects the desire for them to be granted the same rights to have a gaming center on their land as the Kickapoo and Yselta de sur Pueblo tribes of Del Rio and El Paso, respectively.

“We stand against any discrimination that would prevent them from exercising the same privileges that have been provided the aforementioned tribes,” Blanchette read from the resolution.

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Chester becomes a sanctuary city for gun owners

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By Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – City Council of Chester passed an anti-Red Flag ordinance at its regular meeting Monday evening held on Feb. 4.

Mayor Floyd Petri had introduced it at the previous meeting. Petri solicited comments from the public and even hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 2, for anyone to comment on any aspect of city affairs. The previous mayor, Elton Lawrence, showed up and said he, too, supported Petri’s proposed ordinance.

The ordinance amends the city code adding an “Anti-Red Flag Ordinance” to help protect gun owners’ Second Amendment rights expressly so that those rights “shall not be infringed.” The purpose section outlined the threat of seizure being experienced in the country, even from those who have licenses to carry. The city considers all such laws a violation of the U.S. Constitution. “In effect the City of Chester, Texas creates a Sanctuary City for Legal Gun Owners … Texas Licensed Hunters, Firearm Collections, Arsenals, Christians and those persons bearing arms under the Second Amendment.”

As previously reported, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s SB 2607 and some abuses reported in other states have scared gun enthusiasts.

The Chester ordinance also protects firearm seizure from any anonymous reporting, a key concern in the debate, and ordinance makes such a clear infringement of Second Amendment rights.
The ordinance provides a mechanism for the citizen to appeal, and it makes exceptions for the mentally ill and states that “it is the individual and not the gun that kills and injures.”

Though a couple of were absent, the ordinance passed unanimously by the quorum present. Petri thanked council.

Other Business
In other business, the council approved the minutes of the previous meeting and the financials for the city and the Chester Gas System.

There was a little discussion on the purchase of the dump trailer, and Petri was working on options regarding that. Petri has initiated contact with the new Pct. 2 Commissioner Steven Sturrock to hopefully continue their partnership on road repairs the city had with long-time Chester resident and former commissioner Rusty Hughes, who retired last year.

There was a little progress on council members getting Incident Command System training with the National Incident Management System of FEMA.

Past due accounts were discussed, and there were several slated for lock out. Petri reiterated and thanked City Secretary Annette Hickman for her input as she worked with the public respecting needs and keeping the council abreast of those customers who have initiated contact to keep their gas service coming.

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Inmate housing agreements discussed in court

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court met on Monday morning and got down to business, breezing through its agenda. Monday’s meeting, the governing body’s second of 2019, clocked in at 21 minutes, as County Judge Jacques Blanchette noted before it adjourned, which was one minute less than the last commissioners court meeting held on Jan. 14.

Several of the items on Monday’s agenda dealt with agreements between Tyler County and other counties within the region to house long-term adult and juvenile inmates.

Ernie Martin was present, representing the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office. Martin told the court that the price of housing long-term inmates in the San Jacinto County Jail has increased from $25 to $35 per inmate. Martin said that Tyler County has used the interlocal agreement with SJC to house on average of 10 people. Blanchette called the agreement a “valuable asset” to Tyler County and commissioners approved keeping the agreement in place.

Agreements between Tyler County and Angelina and Hardin counties were also approved by commissioners for the housing of juvenile offenders in long-term detention facilities.

The agreements are for one-year periods, and Blanchette noted that there were some particulars that need looking over with the assistance of counsel, but the deadlines for signing the agreements was pressing upon Terry Allen, the juvenile probation chief for the county.

After addressing the matter of the long-term juvenile offender detention situation, Blanchette informed the court of the intention to suspend the services of its legal counsel, David Brooks. Blanchette said the county’s needs are greater than what Brooks offers.

The commissioners approved the suspension of Brooks’ services and subsequently, on Blanchette’s recommendation, the action to engage the firm Allison, Bass and Magee to provide counsel to the commissioners court and local government officials on an as-needed basis.

Other Business
Other items of business addressed by the commissioners court on Monday included:
• The accepting of withdrawal of LJA Engineering as project engineer for the fiscal year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant project for the county. The second in line for the project is Lufkin-based firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong, a firm that Blanchette noted is familiar with Tyler County from past projects.
• The approval for the sale of fireworks during the period of Feb. 25 through midnight of March 2 in celebration of Texas Independence Day was made. Ken Jobe, who served the county as emergency management coordinator prior to being elected Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2, was present and said there were no concerns pressing with fireworks during the period.

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