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Woodville approves go-ahead for city golf-cart ordinance

Golf cart fairwayIngagestroliac | Stock image of a golf cart taken May 31, 2014.

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council greenlit the drafting of an ordinance that will allow for the operation of golf carts inside the city limits on residential streets.

Councilmembers voted to approve the process and discussed several points related to the topic at the council’s regular monthly meeting on Monday evening. The item was brought to the council by Woodville resident Richard “Kooter” Shaw. City Administrator Mandy Risinger shared a letter Shaw had written to request that the council consider such an ordinance.

Shaw stated in his letter that his family’s golf cart is a convenient way to get around their neighborhood, and also detailed the safety features the vehicle has.
Shaw also noted that he recently received a warning from a Woodville police officer while driving the cart, which Risinger said is not usually something city officers tend to, but the stop was initiated due to the COVID-19 restrictions as it took place on the grounds of Woodville ISD.

City Attorney Brad Elrod outlined the legalities on the issue. Adding an ordinance on the city’s books, Elrod said, is the only way to allow for residents to use golf carts on city streets, according to the Texas Transportation Code. “If we do nothing, then legally, we can’t operate them,” he said.

The only exceptions for areas where such an ordinance is unnecessary are on a beach, within two miles of a golf course or within a master-planned city.
The designation of a master-planned city is usually that of a community much larger than a typical housing subdivision, and includes more amenities, such as parks, lakes, shopping outlets and restaurants. Risinger cited The Woodlands and Kingwood as examples of master-planned communities that evolved into incorporated cities.

If an ordinance is adopted to allow for golf carts in the city limits, Elrod said, all of the normal rules of motor vehicle operation will apply. The vehicles will be allowed on residential streets, but not along state-maintained highways, except to cross them.

Under an ordinance, golf carts will also be required to feature safety equipment, such as headlights and rearview mirrors.

Project to honor veterans planned
Risinger made the councilmembers aware of a project she said she wishes to pursue, in collaboration with civic organizations, is to obtain banners to display throughout the city to honor veterans.

The project will be similar to the citywide honoring of Woodville High School’s recent graduating class. She said her goal is to get the project up by Veterans Day.
Families, civic organizations, businesses and individuals will be able to sponsor veterans or active military service personnel to have the banners printed and placed, Risinger said.

The city will maintain the banners and hang them, and use the brackets already in place from the WHS seniors’ banners, which number close to 90, said Risinger.

 

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Phase 1 of courthouse project complete

File photo of the Tyler County, Texas, Courthouse. File photo of the Tyler County, Texas, Courthouse.
 
By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court met on Monday morning in person, with social distancing implemented, in the District Courtroom at the Tyler County Courthouse.

The commissioners approved a resolution to apply for a matching grant through the CARES Act for election needs.
County Clerk Donece Gregory said that the money will take care of anything the county needs pertaining to the coming elections in light of the coronavirus pandemic response.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which was signed into law in March includes $400 million in new Help America Vote emergency funds.

The funds are available for states to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus for the 2020 federal election cycle, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website.

More than $24 million is available in the funds for Texas, and the money comes with a 20% match. Gregory said the county is eligible for more than $21K in funds from the grant, and the match will come at a little more than $4,000.

Gregory said the county will get the funds in a few months, once the application is filed.

 

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Phase one of courthouse project complete
County Judge Jacques Blanchette provided an update on the courthouse remediation project. Phase one of the work, he said, is complete. Prior to Monday morning’s meeting, Blanchette and the project’s steering committee met, and agreed to meet with the architects from LaBiche Architectural Firm.
Final plans and specifications are in place, said Blanchette. “We will talk with [the architect] about some independent work that we’ve done that the court supported regarding cost estimates,” he said.
Blanchette said following the meeting, the committee will bring a recommendation to the court for guidance on what to do for the next step.

Other Business
Also discussed during Monday’s meeting:
• The resignation of Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock from the DETCOG Board of Directors was approved, and the appointment of Pct. 4 Commissioner Buck Hudson to the board was also approved for a two-year term beginning on July 1.
• The commissioners awarded bids for road transportation materials, culverts, bridge materials, cracked fuel oil and hauling
• The resignations of Emergency Services District #3 commissioners Clyde Caldwell and Royce Hill were accepted.
• A bond was approved for Ronnie Ford in the amount of $10,000 for a year. Ford will fill the unexpired term as Pct. 1 Constable after Dale Freeman’s retirement.
• The purchase of a Kubota mini-excavator for Pct. 4 was approved.
• The renewal of an interlocal agreement with Polk County Jail for housing inmates was approved.

 

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Driver’s license offices to reopen

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BY CHRIS EDWARDS
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AUSTIN – Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that the Texas Department of Public Safety will begin reopening driver license offices in phases.

The reopened DL offices will feature limited services, and will occur in a series of four phases, which started on Tuesday. The first three phases roll out the reopenings based on the office locations. The third phase, which sees the offices in DPS’ north and southeast regions, will take place on Wednesday, June 3.

As part of the process, Texas residents can take advantage of a driver’s license appointment system, which allows customers to schedule appointments up to six months in advance.

Tyler County residents who need any DL services can begin scheduling appointments at 1 p.m. on Friday, through visiting the DPS website, located at www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/ .

The new appointment method has been in the works by DPS for several months, according to a press release from the agency. The move to appointment only status for customers is part of DPS’s efforts toward reducing the time Texans spend waiting in line at DL offices, according to the news release.

Customers will be able to make appointments online and once at the office, they will check-in with their smart device, or by using a kiosk inside the office, according to DPS. “Due to social distancing requirements…we are asking that customers wait in their car after checking in. Customers will receive a text message when it’s time to come inside,” the news release states.

The final phase of the reopening process is expected to begin mid-summer, which will allow for customers to schedule an appointment for all DL office transactions anywhere in the state. This will be announced at a later date by DPS.

All customers will be subject to safety measures that DPS is undertaking to limit the spread of the coronavirus. These measures include:

• Staff members and customers taking driving tests will be required to wear face masks or facial coverings.

• Every person (staff and customers) will be screened for symptoms prior to coming into a DL office, which includes temperature screening.

• Customers may be asked to reschedule an appointment if they do not pass the safety screening.

• Only actual customers will be allowed inside DL offices.

• DPS staff will sanitize workstations and equipment between customer transactions.

• Eye examinations will no longer require physical contact with an eye-testing machine.

• Customers must pay with a credit card, check or money order.

The DPS has extended the expiration of driver’s licenses, as well as CDL/ID and Election Identification Certificate cards, which expired on or after March 13 of this year. Those identifying instruments fall under the period that encompasses the disaster declaration issued by Abbott, and will remain valid for 60 days after which time DPS issues a public notice to lift the extension period, according to DPS.

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County approves COVID-19 budget amendment

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County Commissioners approved a measure to pay for COVID-19 related expenses out of the county’s emergency disaster relief fund on Monday.

The commissioners teleconferenced with County Judge Jacques Blanchette and other officials on Monday morning. 

County Auditor Jackie Skinner said that although the county has its existing disaster relief fund within the budget, the pandemic crisis has necessitated some amendments within the budget. “This is a different kind of disaster than we’re typically used to,” she said.

Skinner asked for commissioners to approve two distinct line items within the budget for COVID-19 related expenses, one for local expenditures and a second for mutual aid with other counties.

The separation of the line items for the expenses will track expenditures, so as to expedite reimbursements, Skinner said.

Retainer agreement approved

Skinner made a request to the court for the county to retain the services of Allison, Bass and Magee to assist with procuring grant funds for road repairs.

She spoke about a round of state-funded money the county can apply for, as soon as next month. The county is eligible for up to $200K under the grant. After discussing the particulars of the grant, the commissioners approved retaining the services of the firm, with a cap on the amount of pay.

Bids discussed

At its last regular meeting, the court received and opened seven sealed bids for the procurement of road and bridge materials for the county.

The move to award one of the bids was on Monday’s agenda, however Skinner said that since then some bids have come in, with bidders unsure of how to get bids turned in on time with offices closed. Additionally, she said the mail is stagnant on some days, and it has been difficult for some firms to make bids on items who ordinarily would do so.

She asked that the court reject the existing bids and go out for them again, so that everyone wishing to bid can do so. The new bid request will be accompanied by specific instructions on how to get the bids to the court. 

The commissioners approved Skinner’s request, but on another agenda item, went ahead and awarded a bid for petroleum products for the county to Gardner Oil.

Skinner said she checked on this item, and the county typically only receives one bid for it. When the bids were opened at the last meeting, two were received.

Other Business

During the public comments portion of the meeting, flight instructor Reno Jaton addressed the commissioners about the possibility of moving his business to Woodville and utilizing the county’s airport. 

Additionally, Jaton spoke about his business partner’s interest in offering skydiving lessons at the airport. Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall, who has been in communication with Jaton, said that such services can possibly earn the airport a little more attention.

“Anything that could bring in or attract people would be good,” said Marshall.

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Woodville

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