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updated 7:10 PM UTC, Dec 16, 2018

Meetings

Commissioners vote no to fireworks restrictions

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its Tuesday, Nov. 20 meeting, the Tyler County Commissioners Court met and discussed several items which ranged from fireworks to approving the purchase of heavy equipment.

Commissioners met a day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

One item on the agenda was to decide whether or not to issue an order restricting certain fireworks for the period for fireworks sales during the

Christmas and New Year holiday season, from Dec. 20 through Jan. 1, 2019. The commissioners voted to not issue the restricting order.

In another item on the agenda, commissioners approved the starting procurement for the fiscal year 2019 county development block grant funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture. The funds were allocated for engineering and administration projects throughout the county.

A committee was appointed to rate statements of qualifications and requests for proposals concerning the monies. The committee consists of County Auditor Jackie Skinner, Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall and Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette.

Commissioners approved the purchase of some heavy equipment for Pct. 1. Commissioner Martin Nash spoke about the need for a new Kubota tractor and a John Deere backhoe for his precinct, which will be purchased from Beaumont Tractor and Doggett Machinery Services in Lufkin, respectively.

The tractor will be purchased with funding through the NJPA and the backhoe through the Buy Board.

Resignation from TGCD accepted
Commissioners accepted the resignation of Robyn Summerlin from the Texas Groundwater Conservation District Board for the term ending on Dec. 31.

The court tabled appointing a replacement and Blanchette noted that TGCD recommended that Summerlin’s replacement be an employee from a municipal water system.

Re-appointments to ESD Boards
Commissioners approved the re-appointments of the following board members for the county Emergency Service Districts. B.A. Smith; Joe McIntyre; Lana Cox; Henry Sawyer, Sr.; Karl Hammond; Royce Hill; Betty Zimmerman; Rodney Krebs; Matt Mentzel; Herbert D. Odom; Johnny Lee Page; Raymond Holland; Roger Harvill; Roy Chad Eddins; Jim Fitzgerald; John Ard and Art Walton were all re-appointed to serve on the ESD boards. There are eight of the ESDs in the county.

Blanchette said there are three more vacancies on the boards, for ESDs #3, 5 and 6.

 

Other Business
• A bid for sale of the Tyler County Collection Center was awarded to Local Sanitation for $200,000.
• Commissioners discussed and approved an agreement with Allison, Bass and Magee, LLP for a flat rate fixed fee for professional services. The firm will assist county officials in a review of precinct districting.
• Incoming Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe was approved to attend the Justice of the Peace seminar in December. The seminar, which takes place Dec. 2-5 in Galveston, will consist of 20 hours of training events and courses to prepare Jobe for the job.
• The bonds for Blanchette and Lynnette Cruse, County Tax Assessor-Collector, were approved for them to begin serving their new terms in office.

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New councilmember sworn in

Outgoing city councilmembers Lee Mann (left), Amy Bythewood (right) and mayor Russ Nalley, were thanked for their years of service to the City of Woodville at last Tuesday’s city council meeting. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Outgoing city councilmembers Lee Mann (left), Amy Bythewood (right) and mayor Russ Nalley, were thanked for their years of service to the City of Woodville at last Tuesday’s city council meeting. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

 

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Herb Branch, a longtime leader in the community, was sworn-in at the Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting of the Woodville City Council.
Branch was appointed to fill the position of Alderman Place 5 after Byron Stowe stepped down in September.

The councilmembers also recognized outgoing councilmembers Amy Bythewood and Lee Mann as well as Mayor Russ Nalley for their years of service to the city.

During the meeting, which was held on Tuesday night instead of the usual Monday, due to the recognition of Veterans Day, Nalley and the councilmembers heard reports on a few projects including awarding a bid for a new woodchipper and news on a grant application.

City Administrator Mandy Risinger gave an update on a grant the city applied for through the General Land Office. The grant, which is for the amount of $2 million with a $100K match for the city, was allocated due to the flooding in 2016. If Woodville is awarded the grant, it will be a significant one for the city, Risinger noted.

She said that the city is looking at projects pertaining to streets and drainage on Cobb Mill Road and Cardinal Drive, if the money is awarded.
Risinger said the state has requested additional information and documentation. “That lends us to believe we’re pretty hopeful we can be funded…that’s a big grant for us,” she said.

Risinger said the city did not meet criteria for funding with another grant it had applied for. The funding, which was through the Texas Department of Emergency Management for hazard mitigation, would have been put toward a generator for the 190 West water pump station. She said changes in the program disqualified the city for the grant.

However, with funds that have been allocated through DETCOG for Hurricane Harvey-related relief and repair projects, Risinger said it is possible for the city to apply for some of the money that Tyler County will receive, which is around $757K, in order to fund generator projects for the city.

Other Business
Council approved a resolution to note the canvassing of returns of the citywide election, held on Nov. 6, and to declare the final results.

City Secretary Terri Bible said there were 13 provisional ballots counted after the general election results were tallied. The ballots, Bible said, would not change the results of the election, which saw Paula Jones win her bid for Mayor and Tony Greer win a place on the council.

Another topic discussed by council and Nalley was the nomination and appointment of a representative for the city on the Tyler County Appraisal Review Board. Bythewood said the spot is currently empty and is needed. The position was discussed, but no one was named as a possible appointee.

Council also voted to award a bid for a new woodchipper, a Brush Bandit, from Stanley Parts and Equipment, in Channelview. The new chipper will replace a 1999 model of the same brand and will cost $39,986.98. Risinger said the cost is “sufficiently covered in the budget.”

Nalley added a word of praise to the city workers who pick up fallen tree limbs around the city.

Councilmembers also approved an online sale of the city’s retired assets. Nalley said the city has seen better results with online auctions than on-site auctions that were held in the past.

The city will auction off several vehicles and pieces of equipment, including two pickup trucks, a garbage truck, a street sweeper and a road grader.

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WISD Board discusses finance plan for improvements

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees acted to proceed with a finance plan to pay for the district-wide renovations that were approved in September.

The renovations will include putting a new roof on the high school building, HVAC replacement/repair and a district-wide installation of LED lighting, which will significantly decrease WISD’s energy costs.

The total cost for the projects comes to around $3.3 million. WISD Superintendent Glen Conner outlined the proposal for the phases of the project at the WISD board’s Monday, Oct. 15 meeting.

“Basically this is just a preliminary statement of what it will look like,” Conner said of the proposal to pay for the renovations.

Conner said the plan to finance consists of moving $1 million from the general fund balance, financing the rest with M&O tax revenue and potentially paying it off in 2020 pending a successful bond election for facility improvements. The plan will maintain the current tax rate as-is, Conner said.

Conner outlined the plan as Phase One of a two-phase project. The second is a proposed bond election.

Last month when the renovations were approved, the Board approved a contract for E3 Entegral Solutions to handle the renovations.

Campus Turnaround Plan cancelled
Karen Ford, WISD Director of Curriculum, addressed the trustees about the Turnaround Plan adopted by the district at the beginning of the year. Ford said the plan applied to WISD when it was in IR2 (Improvement Required, Year 2) status from TEA. “We are no longer in IR2,” Ford said.

Ford said WISD is already performing 75% of the turnaround plan and the existing 25% represents restructuring. She recommended to cancel the plan, as WISD is currently in a monitor state under TEA.

Other Business
Other items on the WISD Board agenda that were discussed and/or acted upon at its monthly meeting last Monday also included:
• The approval of GASB 54 Resolution which commits unassigned fund balances to building projects, field turf replacement and contingencies for the current fiscal year. WISD Business Manager Cody Jarrott spoke about this agenda item, which is done annually to assign dollar amounts to committed fund balances. WISD committed $3.2 million for construction, $200k for the field turf replacement and a $1.2 million reduction for contingencies, which was added to the construction fund. Jarrott noted the increase in the construction earmark from the previous year is needed for the upcoming renovations.
• The trustees approved the appointment of Woodville businessman and civic leader Gil Tubb as WISD’s representative to the Tyler County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
• Trustees voted to change the date of the Nov. meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees to Thursday, Nov. 15.
• The date of Monday, Nov. 12 was approved as the date to canvass the election returns for the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

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Branch appointed to fill Woodville City Council vacancy

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council approved the nomination and appointment of Herb Branch to fill a council vacancy at its meeting on Tuesday.

The position for alderman place 5 was opened when Byron Stowe resigned from the council last month. The term for the position ends in Nov. 2019.

Branch was one of three residents who volunteered to fill the position. Following an adjournment into executive session, councilmember Amy Bythewood motioned to nominate Branch for the seat on the council.

Bythewood said it has always been a policy of the city to not have an open seat so there are no problems meeting a quorum.

Councilmembers consulted with City Attorney Brad Elrod in closed session to discuss the eligibility of each applicant.

Prior to moving into executive session, a couple of Woodville residents voiced concern about the appointment and requested that council reconsider the nomination and appointment until after November’s election.

Sal Baldovinos, representing the Concerned Citizens of Tyler County, was the first to speak. “We feel that the right thing to do is to wait until after the election to make any new appointments,” Baldovinos said.

He said that with a new mayor and at least one new alderman taking office after the upcoming election, it would be in the best interest of any new city officials to be able to have their opinions heard concerning a nominee.

Baldovinos cited the controversy with East Texas Packing, LLC as a pertinent reason for the request. In June, council voted to pass a utility service agreement between the City of Woodville and the company. Despite an existing obligation to provide these services, the decision proved controversial with many Woodville residents.

Another resident, Barbara Smith, who is running for mayor of Woodville, spoke during the forum on the same topic. Smith voiced the same concerns as Baldovinos and also requested that the nomination and appointment be tabled until the election concludes.

“It’s only fair to all concerned that these newly elected members have input as to who that replacement would be,” she said.

“They’ll be the ones that have to work with the appointed member.”

Committee formed to negotiate interlocal agreement with TCSO

A committee was appointed and approved to review options for dispatch and jail service through an interlocal agreement between the city and the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office.

The agreement has been in place since 1999, according to City Administrator Mandy Risinger. It is renewed annually and recently Sheriff Bryan Weatherford approached the city to renegotiate.

The agreement currently costs $87,600 to the city and the proposed new amount is $143,970, according to Risinger.
The date to renew the agreement is Nov. 12. Councilmember Janice Weatherford recused herself from serving on the committee due to conflict of interest. She asked the same on behalf of Mayor Russ Nalley, who was absent from the meeting due to an accident.

The committee appointed consists of Risinger, Police Chief Scott Yosko and councilmembers Amy Bythewood and Joyce Wilson.

$2 million GLO grant application filed

Risinger said the city’s application for the 2017 flood grant was submitted to the Texas General Land Office. The grant amount is for $2 million with a $100K match. Risinger noted that the amount is a large one compared to the amount of grants that are usually awarded through DETCOG. “Disaster recovery grants go up based on what is allocated to our area, so a $2 million grant is a pretty big deal for us.”

She said the projects proposed, if the grant is awarded, are for streets and drainage, primarily on MLK and Cardinal and possibly other areas, contingent on funding.

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