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Commissioners take steps toward courthouse project

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its first regular meeting of the month on Monday, the Tyler County Commissioners Court voted on items to move forward with the remediation work for the courthouse.

The commissioners voted to hire an independent contractor to serve as the project manager over the project and to issue a request for proposal to draw interest from contractors.

In April, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve County Judge Jacques Blanchette to execute a remediation agreement with the Texas Historical Commission concerning the restoration work on the courthouse. The county must undertake a series of steps as part of the remedial agreement with the state, including hiring a preservation architect.

Blanchette said on Monday morning that discussions have spoken to the necessity of hiring an independent contractor as project manager for the overall scope of the work.

Blanchette also addressed the matter of hiring a preservation architect and said that several architects have expressed interest in working on the project in that capacity.

In order to keep the commissioners abreast of the courthouse project, Blanchette put a standing item on the court agenda. “This is so I can brief the court on a continuous basis,” he said.

Blanchette said that the county is “on track, but on a tight track with everything that needs to be done” with the courthouse remediation project.

County to acquire new mainframe server
On Monday commissioners approved a bid from NetData for a new mainframe server for the county. The old server, an IBM AS 400, has been in use since 2002 and is nearing the end of its life, according to county auditor Jackie Skinner.

Skinner said the money to cover the acquisition will come from the data processing line item in the county budget, and everything, including necessary licenses, are included with NetData’s bid package.

The existing server will be replaced with an IBM Power System S914 mainframe server. Commissioners approved the bid along with a software suite, recommended by NetData in the bid. Pct. 1 Commissioner Martin Nash put forth the motion, along with the added wording about the software. Blanchette said that Skinner had addressed concerns previously with the current server.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners also voted to approve the following items:
• Commissioners accepted a donation on behalf of Kirby Memorial Chapel for its upkeep. The donation was given to the county years ago and placed in a CD. A line item will be made in the budget for the donation.
• A memorandum of understanding was approved between Pct. 2 and Ken and Kelly Jobe for the temporary storage of equipment and road materials. Another MOU was approved in the same Pct. between the county and the City of Chester for temporary storage of equipment and road materials on the city’s property.
• Commissioners approved the sale of a 2016 Volvo dump truck from Pct. 3 to Pct. 2.
• The lease/purchase of a 2019 Mack dump truck from Bruckner’s Truck Trailer Sales of Wichita Falls, through HGAC, for Pct. 3 was approved. Financing will be through First National Bank of Wichita Falls.

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Meysembourg named lone finalist for WISD superintendent

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The lone finalist was named as the new superintendent of Woodville ISD on Monday night.

Lisa Meysembourg, who currently serves as superintendent of Schulenburg ISD, was named during a special meeting, which was called for the purpose of making her name public, and to approve her as the lone finalist for the position.

Meysembourg has served as superintendent with Schulenburg since 2013. Prior to that, she served as the district’s elementary principal. She also served in the same administrative capacity at Weimar Elementary School.

Meysembourg holds a master’s in educational leadership and administration from the University of Houston and a bachelor’s in education from Kansas State University.

 WISD Superintendent Glen Conner will retire in June. Conner has served the district, both as a faculty member and administrator, for 38 years. He has been superintendent for 13 years and announced his intention to retire in February.

Meysembourg has a 21-day waiting period before her appointment can be approved by the WISD Board of Trustees. Conner said that window allows a time for input and consideration by the board members, as well as time for them to work out the details of her employment.

“There was in excess of 50 applicants for the position, and the board interviewed a total of nine,” Conner said.

Conner, who is due to be celebrated Wednesday evening in a community-wide reception at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church in Woodville, said his looming retirement is “feeling better and better every day.”

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Lake Amanda celebration planned

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By Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – A day that many Tyler County residents undoubtedly thought would never arrive is coming.

The rebuilding of the Lake Amanda dam is nearing completion, and a celebration is planned, complete with a ribbon cutting for Saturday, June 8.

The event will celebrate the long road it has taken to rebuild the dam, which was lost during the Memorial Day flood of 2016. Kirwin Drouet, who serves as the Lake Amanda Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (LAWCID) president said that the celebration will feature no speeches, but “just fellowship celebrating the completion of our beautiful Lake Amanda dam.”

Work on the project began last August with a Chester-based firm, HC Oilfield Services, handling the construction. The cost for the project came out to $980,263. The plans entailed a new dam that is structurally designed to withstand another disaster, according to Drouet. He referred to it as “the Taj Mahal of dams.”

The flooding caused a complete collapse of the dam, which led to severe flooding and a 100-foot section of it to wash downstream. Amanda’s sister lake, Frog Pond, escaped harm due in part to a horizontal concrete spillway that was a few feet lower than its dam and prevented water from spilling over it.

In the wake of the catastrophic loss, Drouet and other Lake Amanda property owners formed LAWCID, which was ratified in Nov. 2016. Along with the ratification of the district, voters also approved $1 million in bonds to repair the dam.

In May 2018, voters approved a half-million dollar increase to the bonds and that June, the Texas Water Development Board approved LAWCID’s application for a 30-year loan of $1.5 million. LAWCID received the proceeds from the loan on August 3 and ground was broken on the new dam on August 10.

The celebration of the new dam will take begin at 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to the boat ramp at the end of county road 3215 on the east side of the dam, where a cornerstone bronze plaque is set to be unveiled.

Following the cornerstone presentation, a luncheon celebration party, sponsored by the Lake Amanda Homeowners Association, will take place at the Gathering Place, located north of Colmesneil on U.S. 69.

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TCSO deputies make drug arrests

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WOODVILLE – In two separate incidents last week, deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office made a pair of arrests for methamphetamine possession.
The first incident occurred on the evening of Friday, April 26 when deputies initiated a stop on FM 1746 at County Road 4005 for a traffic violation. After speaking with the driver, identified as Travis Keith Carter 32, of Ivanhoe, the deputies obtained consent to search the vehicle, a Dodge passenger car. They discovered a small plastic baggie on Carter’s person during a pat-down. The baggie contained 8.2 grams of a crystal-like substance and field-tested positive for methamphetamine, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

The following day, at approximately 8:45 p.m. according to Weatherford, deputies made a stop of a Nissan passenger car for a traffic violation at the corner of Yorkshire and 14th streets in Ivanhoe.

While the deputies spoke with the driver, identified as James Wesley Moore, a 40-year-old Ivanhoe resident, they learned drug paraphernalia was inside the car. The items consisted of a pipe and “possibly some marijuana roaches,” according to Weatherford. During a search of the vehicle, the deputies located a .380 handgun and a small baggie consisting of 1.1 grams of a crystal-like substance that field-tested positive as methamphetamine.

Both Carter and Moore were arrested and transported to Tyler County Jail following the respective incidents. Both men were charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, while Moore was also charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. He remains in the jail under a $15,000 bond, while Carter is out on a bond of the same amount.

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