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Chester City Council welcomes Floyd Petri

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor C. E. Lawrence convened the Chester City Council at their regular time of 6 p.m., Monday, Dec. 1.

New to the council, Floyd Petri seemed to be coming back home, having served on the Chester council before and coming with a long resume in public service. Lawrence and Petri were chatting as all arrived, as City Secretary Annette Hickman had sworn him and the mayor in earlier. Petri had served over a decade as a special agent for the U.S. Army, and he is a retired chief of police. In the early 1970s he served as a Tyler County Sheriff's deputy, which is the short story of his long and varied career in law enforcement that included some special details involving protecting high level U.S. government officials.

After the council passed some standard items on the previous minutes and the financial statements, a lively discussion ensued on the process of hiring some part-time help to cover the city office. The discussion included a broad range of options as the city strove to be competitive and debate insurance and retirement options. Several applications were looked at with great interest, and it was decided they needed to hold off until the new year before moving on with someone.

Councilwoman Charlotte Barnes received a package from RCI, that turned out to be the finalized agreement on the city's records retention plan and RCI's billing and a notebook of the processes. This will free up significant space and bring the city into compliance with the Texas records laws once complete, the result of nearly a year of study and negotiations.
The council adjourned in good spirits ready for the Christmas season.

Ivanhoe Council welcomes new members, takes action on Dam re-caulking

by Emily Waldrep

The regular monthly meeting was called to order at the Ivanhoe Community Center by Mayor Bennett at 6:08 p.m. All Council members were present.

Councilman Gremillion nominated Mayor Pro-tem Tommy Morris to continue serving as Mayor Pro-tem for an additional year. No other nominations were submitted. Mayor Bennett asked Councilman Morris if he was willing to serve in the capacity as Mayor Pro-tem. Councilman Morris said that he was. Council unanimously approved for Councilman Morris to serve as Mayor Pro-tem.

Councilman Morris then made a motion to change the signatory card with the depository for the city checking accounts to match the new council members and mayors names after election. Charles Jack Brockhouse, Tom Welch and David Baier were removed and Catherine R. Bennett, LeAnn Freeman McNulty and John Galbreath were added.

Supervisor of Dams Rusty Harriso, then updated the council on the dams. Harrison said he has noticed that nine of the drainage holes on Galahad Dam have been "weeping" since the lake refilled. The water is not flowing from the drain holes, but there is enough water present that he is concerned about flow-through from the lake, and he will continue to monitor the drain holes. For Charmaine Dam, he noticed a fairly heavy boil at the bottom of the spillway and a smaller boil about 10 feet separate from the large boil. Harrison also presented the proposal that had been received from Chance Construction for the re-caulking of Charmaine and Galahad Dams. He questioned the Council regarding whether the project should be started now or wait until spring. Following a discussion, Councilman Galbreath motioned to accept the proposal from Chance Construction and develop a contract for the re-caulking project to commence after the first of the year. The motion passed unanimously.

In the monthly security report, Councilman Morris reported that compared to 34 deputy responses in September, October had 47 law enforcement calls. Ten of the calls were considered as serious, such as burglary or assault.

In a report on the streets, Councilman Priddy reported the city has started the project of placing clay base and covering with cement washout at 12 locations identified as most prone to being slick during a rain. The project will have at least 28 loads of washout spread. He said he anticipates considerably more washout being placed later in the budget year. He concluded his report summarizing that all the paved streets are deteriorating faster than funds are available to properly maintain them. Councilman Priddy requested Council to call a workshop session to discuss the condition of streets in the city, and future maintenance of the streets. Following discussion of schedules, Councilman Priddy made the motion to have the workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.

In other business, Councilwoman McNulty and Councilman Galbreath verbally resigned from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) as a result of being elected to Council. Councilman Morris then motioned to provide a sign-up sheet at city hall for the two vacant positions on the ZBA until 4 p.m. on December 10.

At the close of the meeting, Councilman Priddy welcomed the new members to City Council. Mayor Bennett acknowledged the 4 years of service to the City provided by outgoing Mayor Brockhouse. Although Mayor Brockhouse was not in attendance, the audience applauded as she thanked Mayor Brockhouse for his work. Councilman Morris voiced a welcome to the new members on Council, that they might not always agree on issues before the Council, but they could have more discussion on those matters.

Colmesneil ISD financial audit excellent

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil ISD board President Curtis Pittman convened their regular meeting Tuesday night, 7 p.m., Nov. 18. Board Secretary Kenneth Adaway led the invocation, and Pittman led in the pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags.

Several house-keeping items for the new year included the financial audit, emergency plan, standard operating procedures, CISD goals, a technology plan, and investment policy.

After approving the previous minutes and financials, CISD business manager Jina May introduced Dan Raney of the accounting firm Goff & Herrington of Lufkin who presented their 52-page audit. In the required items by the state and feds, there were no findings in any category. In the final accounting, the audit read that "we did not identify any deficiencies in internal control." Furthermore, Raney said, "As always, Jina had everything in order – just a joy."

Regarding the goals that Superintendent Angela Matterson and the board worked up and approved for the 2014-15 school year, all contained specific "evidence of attainment." The goals included staff development and college preparation for the students. The district will continue to communicate with the students and parents on graduation. The CISD believes that "a well-rounded education encourages the development of problem solving skills, a positive attitude, self-confidence, adaptability, team building, and a strong work ethic." Committed to high academic achievement, they will increase AP testing and college readiness exams like SAT, ACT and PSAT. And technology will be on the forefront all the way.

Matterson and May were designated the investment officers for CISD.

Elementary School Principal Yvette Carlton reported on several activities, very proud of the students' progress. On Friday the 21st, pilgrims and Indians will arrive and lead the children through several hands-on activities designed to combine fun with history in order to teach the children the real meaning of Thanksgiving.

Junior and High School Principal Walter McAlpin reported on how well their Ag class was doing, coming in 5th among 110 schools, and going to state. Though there were several students that will be encountering truancy charges, the over-all attendance was doing very well.

After Pittman gave an estimate on the repairs to the Lake Tejas rent house, about $10,000 worth, a lively discussion ensued between the board members, Pittman, Matterson and McAlpin on how they might use the repairs as a learning experience for their students, working a way for them to gain both credit and experience in the building trades. McAlpin will be working up a plan to present to the board in the next month or two.

Matterson reported on the school's plan to take advantage of health checks for all of its students and teachers.

Pittman brought forth an earlier item on the agenda, to close the meeting, that entailed a recap of the school board re-election of Adaway (370), Kris Lindsey (246) and Danny Brown (241). Superintendent secretary Robyn Bass administered the oath of office for all three that included their pledges to protect and defend U.S. Constitution and laws.

The board adjourned in good spirits, thankful for its leadership and students, especially grateful for the students' work on their Veterans Day celebration.

Colmesneil nears completion of Emergency Services Building

Fire-Dept-Colmesneil

by Michael G. Maness

The City of Colmesneil city council was convened by Mayor Don Baird at its regular meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m.

After the regular agenda items of the financial, office, water and sewer reports were approved, the council proceeded with several discussions.

Baird said the completion of the Emergency Services District #7 Building had been delayed, but that "This is just part of it. We want to do it right." This will house the local volunteer fire department and other emergency related equipment as the city finds grants, monies, and works with the county emergency services. City Secretary Carrie Edwards added, "Asphalt surfacing was laid last week and the building is looking better and better."

Baird also was happy to report the old County Market is being renovated and will be opening as Graham's Grill and Grocery – a welcome addition to the community.

Edwards noted that the probationary period for part-time employee Linda Bailer was up, and Edwards was happy to have her working for the city.

The council ended their meeting with an overview of the Homecoming festivities that were planned to include a bonfire, parade, pep rally, a queen's coronation, and a homecoming game.

The council adjourned quite proud of the developments and activities on the immediate horizon.

Spurger ISD Board votes to allow superintendent hire all contract employees

by Emily Waldrep

The Spurger School Board held its monthly board meeting on October 16. Board members approved several items that must be reviewed and approved yearly, including the Revised Student Wellness Policy, the Emergency Operations Plan, Policy Update 100 and the Quarterly investment report.

The board also went out for bids on a canopy project that would include work on sidewalk canopies and new canopies.

"There are several packages included in the bid," said Superintendent Joe Fisher. "Just canopies, canopies and repairing the awning in the back of the cafeteria, canopies that go over to the ag building and some concrete work."

Next, the board voted to change a policy that will allow the superintendent to hire all contracted employees. Previously, the superintendent had to hire an at-will employee and the board had to hire contracted employees, but now the superintendent has the power to hire all employees.

The board also discussed the recent Ebola crisis and the fact that the district already has a contagious disease policy and plan. The board reviewed that plan and agreed to send everyone in the district a letter that said the district is aware of the virus, and while it isn't here, the board has looked at plans in case it did become an issue.

Ivanhoe Councilman files misappropriation of public funds charge against two other Councilmen

by Emily Waldrep

Ivanhoe city council held its regular meeting on September 11 at 6 p.m. All members were present besides Jim Gremillion.

Some internal acrimony among council members surfaced at the end of the meeting during council comments. Councilman Priddy said that recently he and Councilmen Morris and Gremillion had criminal charges filed against them by Councilman Baier for misappropriation of public funds.

The Tyler County Grand Jury no- billed the case. Councilman Priddy noted that the criminal charge was a waste of taxpayer dollars and said it indicates that Councilman Baier is not interested in working with other members of the council. He asked for Councilman Baier to resign. Councilman Baier responded that he would not resign, and that he felt that misappropriation of public funds was justified.

Returning to council business, a special guest, Randy Blanks, was present and spoke about agenda items related to the Community Developmental Block Grant Street Improvement Project for the city.

Blanks summarized the activities that have occurred with the notification of the award of the grant to the city in August and let council members know that staff from the Texas Department of Agriculture will make a site visit to Durwood Drive in the coming weeks.

Councilman Priddy made a motion to continue with the Community Development Block Grant and the motion passed unanimously.

Next, council heard from Supervisor of Dams Rusty Harrison. He reported that the guardrail repairs on Charmaine were completed and that the portion of guardrail from the dam that is still in good condition will be utilized for replacing the guardrail at Camelot dam low water crossing.

The security liaison for the city reported that August was a quiet month with 34 calls including four for criminal mischief, three for disturbances, three for animal complaints, three for thefts and two for burglaries.

In a report from the liaison for streets, councilman Priddy reported that 39 hours of grading occurred during August while the streets had sufficient moisture to work and the grader operator was available. Priddy and Morris also met with a contractor that will overlay hot mix on a badly deteriorating section of paved street. The contractor was authorized to overlay a 165-foot- by-16 foot portion of Charmaine Drive at a cost of $5,400.

The council also approved Timberlakes Construction as the business which will provide routine street and right of way maintenance for 2015.

The Mayor added that he has asked Timberlakes Construction to look into acquiring equipment that could be used in overlay projects and possibly save the city money for such future projects.