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updated 12:55 PM UTC, Oct 14, 2018

Meetings

Ivanhoe holds town hall meeting to discuss coming bond election

 

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By Valerie Weber

IVANHOE – The City of Ivanhoe held a Town Hall Meeting at the Ivanhoe Community Center on Thursday, Oct. 4. The purpose was to discuss the upcoming $2 million Road Improvement Bond election. The meeting was also live-streamed on the “Ivanhoe Texas Community Watch” Facebook page. Attendees and viewers were encouraged to ask questions about the proposed Road Improvement Bond.

Mayor Cathy Bennett and a quorum of city council members were joined by Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette and Municipal Judge Judith Haney. Allen Sims of LJA Engineering was also in attendance to address questions were the drainage and road construction consultant, and the financial bond consultants Jim and James Gilley of US Capital Advisors were present.

The Road Improvement Bond was on the ballot this past May and lost by a narrow margin. Suggestions were solicited by Ivanhoe’s Public Works Coordinator David Marshall on how to address road improvement without funds from a bond sale. Several suggestions were received such as; let volunteers improve the roads, purchase Monarch Water Company and use the operation profits on the roads, and un-incorporate the city so that road maintenance would revert to Tyler County.

It was explained that the city cannot incur the liability for volunteers to maintain the roads because the potential for accidents or utility damage is too great, and there is no guarantee that volunteers could provide appropriately engineered roads. The idea to purchase Monarch Water Company was deemed infeasible because the company is not for sale and even if it were, it is estimated that the cost would far exceed the Road Improvement Bond cost. Blanchette confirmed Bennett’s assertion that un-incorporation of the city would not solve the issue because Texas transportation codes would require the roads to be improved to county standards before the county would assume responsibility. Tyler County Commissioner Martin Nash sent a letter to Bennett also confirming this answer.

If the city were un-incorporated, the funds available to improve the roads to county standards would be the Ivanhoe Property Owners Improvement Association funds, which would charge $6 per property annually. However, the IPOIA only receive those funds from approximately half of the property owners. Even if all the property owners paid their annual dues, the approximate annual total of $24,000 would not begin to address road improvements.

Bennett explained that the majority of the council concluded that a second Road Improvement Bond was needed. She said that the city cannot address road improvement in any other way, because the current budget and tax base is insufficient to maintain the 46 miles of roads inside the city. Additional research, planning and appropriate communication was needed to illustrate how essential the Road Improvement Bond is to address the deterioration of the existing main roads.

Bennett reported that in the past several months, an economic advisor called Veridus Group provided free services via a grant program to survey and report on the current status and potential improvements for the city. She read a section of a preliminary report from the survey, which stated that the city’s roads are in dire need of repair. The report compared Ivanhoe’s roads to those in developing countries. Bennett also noted that US Mail service has ceased on several roads due to the roads’ deteriorated condition and also mentioned a letter from Warren ISD complaining about the wear and tear their school buses receive on many of Ivanhoe’s roads.

Ivanhoe Councilman David Herrington presented a PowerPoint presentation which explained how the Road Improvement Bond would be implemented if passed. A major goal of the Road Improvement Bond is to ensure safe passage to the Ivanhoe Community Center, which is used as an emergency shelter and communications hub during emergencies, and to improve the common paths used for hurricane evacuation. This would address improvements to the main arterial roads through the center of the city, plus roads in the northeastern and central sections of the city.

Herrington added that another important reason to pass the Road Improvement Bond is that it makes Ivanhoe eligible for certain drainage and road improvement grants. Luckily the grants’ deadline has been extended to the end of this November. If the Bond passes, the City will submit for these grants which could in effect quadruple the original $2 million bond funding for drainage and road improvement work. If all the grants are approved, they would provide up to an additional $6 million. The Bond funds plus successful grant funds could result in a total of $8 million to improve most, if not all roads in the City. If the Road Improvement Bond is not passed, the city cannot apply for these grants.
Bennett noted that a distrust of city expenditures has been voiced by citizens in the past. She explained that a separate bank account for bond funds is a legal requirement to which Ivanhoe will adhere. She invited citizens to form an audit committee to review monthly road improvement expenditures from this separate account.

Another Ivanhoe Town Hall Meeting on the Road Improvement Bond is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, and all citizens are invited to attend with questions and comments. This Town Hall Meeting will also be live-streamed on Facebook. Citizens can find the proposed map and PowerPoint presentation as well as a question and answer section on the City’s website at www.cityofivanhoetx.com. Citizens can obtain hard copies of the presentation and question and answer section at the Ivanhoe City Hall, 870 Charmaine Drive East, or call 409-283-3299 or 409-429-6752 to have hard copies hand-delivered to their homes.

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Contract approved for infrastructure repairs at Woodville ISD campuses

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees voted to approve a contract for a project that will result in some infrastructure improvements across the district.

At its meeting on Monday, Sept. 17, the board approved a contract for E3 Entegral Solutions to repair the roof on the high school building and to handle district-wide HVAC and lighting replacement.

Jared McCurley of E3 gave a presentation to the trustees at their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 17. McCurley outlined what options WISD has in accordance to existing building codes. One option, which he called “extremely expensive and extremely invasive” is to tear the entire roof off and replace it along with the insulation. The other option involves a spray-on application of applied roof coating, which meets code requirements and is not considered a separate roofing system.

McCurley said the spray-on roofing material carries a 15-year warranty and will fix existing problems with the high school roof.

McCurley gave the trustees and WISD Superintendent Glen Conner a list of the work needing to be done across the district and outlined the HVAC equipment replacements and repairs needed, which include the replacement of two rooftop units and ground-level heat pumps.

The district-wide LED lighting replacement option outlined in McCurley’s presentation would result in a “large impact on utility costs as well as the environment,” he said. LEDs use 70% less electricity than fluorescent lighting, according to McCurley.

The total cost for the project is $3.29 million, with the roof repair costing $628,762; the HVAC work $2.33 million and the LED light replacement at $341,291.

Facilities use policy discussed

Conner brought the trustees up to date on discussion concerning the use of WISD facilities by different organizations and individuals.

Currently the policy is open as to how district facilities are used with few restrictions. Conner said that the use of the facilities is primarily designated for non-profit groups and activities and that in attempting to develop the policy, he has researched other districts’ local policies about facility usage. “My suggestion is we abide by [the current policy] for the time being,” he said.

Conner said that one district’s policy limited district facilities be used for activities that involve children of school-age only.

In his report later in the meeting Conner mentioned in a planned event in March at the Eagle Summit in celebration of Texas Independence Day. Jim Goodman, a local resident, is planning the event and trying to get Gov. Greg Abbott to appear. The event, which will include a barbecue cook-off and entertainment, is still in the planning stages but Goodman has secured the venue for the event and is in discussion with local and state leaders to participate.

Other business
• Trustees approved the purchase of a new 54-passenger bus with a lift. The total cost for the vehicle will be around $105K.
• Trustees approved the WISD District Goals for the 2018-19 school year. The new goals statement includes an emphasis on safety across the district.

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Tyler County Historical Commission recognized

Tyler County Historical Commission President Bob Morris receives a Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission at last week’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court. County Judge Jacques Blanchette and commissioners Martin Nash and Jack Walston are pictured with Morris. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Tyler County Historical Commission President Bob Morris receives a Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission at last week’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court. County Judge Jacques Blanchette and commissioners Martin Nash and Jack Walston are pictured with Morris. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

 

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Historical Commission received an award for its service at the Wednesday morning meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court.
Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette presented TCHC President Bob Morris with a certificate from the Texas Historical Commission recognizing TCHC for its distinguished service in the year 2017.

In a news release from Blanchette, the state historical commission’s Distinguished Service Award is used “to affirm county historical commissions that document ongoing, well-rounded programs of history and preservation-related projects that enrich local communities.”
Morris said “Our job is to maintain awareness of the history and culture of Tyler County.”

Other Business

Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and Stevan Sturrock of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office urged commissioners to award a bid for repairs to four cell blocks at the Tyler County Jail.

The bid, which came from Integrity Steelworks for the amount of $112,140.16, will bring the jail “a major step in getting back into compliance,” Weatherford said.
Weatherford said the work detailed in the bid from the firm does not cover the electrical work and replacement of the communications system needed. “We’ll have to go out for another bid to replace the electrical and communication system,” Sturrock said.

County to participate in class action PILT lawsuit

Commissioners also voted for the county to participate in a class action lawsuit to recover federal payments from underpayments during fiscal years 2015-17.
Blanchette said the county was invited by a law firm to participate and it will “have an effect on Tyler County by about $2,000”.

“How this will work is when it’s settled they will take out their percentage and then they will distribute the remaining amount that is appropriate for Tyler County,” Blanchette said.

The money at the heart of the suit is from Big Thicket property in Tyler County, which is not taxed like other property in the county as it is federally owned. The federal government helps offset this loss through a program titled Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

At Wednesday’s regular meeting, commissioners also discussed the following items:
• The resignation of Mark Hatch as ESD #4 Commissioner was accepted. Krystal Redden was appointed to fill the vacancy.
• A bid for the sale and disposal of an accumulation of scrap metal was awarded to Southside Metal in Dam B. Southside will pick up and haul the materials off at a rate of $25 per ton from the county collection center.
• Commissioners voted to appoint a rating committee to develop the scope of work, review proposals and make a recommendation to the court for emergency management issues. Emergency management coordinator Ken Jobe said he, county auditor Jackie Skinner and Blanchette are currently on the committee and recommended it stay the same. Commissioners approved this recommendation.
• Commissioners voted to engage the services of Kay Timme to coordinate documents, contacts and research items regarding Texas Historical Commission directives to Tyler County. The position will be an hourly, temporary position, according to Blanchette.

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Colmesneil receives Harvey FEMA money

By Mollie LaSalle

COLMESNEIL – Colmesneil City Council held an abbreviated meeting last Tuesday and voted to cancel the upcoming joint election with the county, due to no one filing to run for any positions on the council.

Council also approved raising the utility deposit of for-profit businesses to $300, up from the previous amount of $150.

City secretary Wendy Bendy reported that the city received their FEMA money from Harvey damage, $9,763.97 total. The city also received a grant from Entergy in the amount of $1,000 to purchase new flags, and also received a franchise check in excess of $15K. Bendy also reported that one of the city’s generators was struck by lightning and a city vehicle sustained some damage. Texas Municipal League paid the claims for the repairs to both.

Council approved the minutes from the previous meeting, as well as office, financial and investment, and water and sewer reports.

The bridge on 256 East over Belt Creek closed for repairs on Sept. 10. The estimated time-line for work to be finished, according to TxDOT, is three to six months. Motorists are advised to take alternate routes of travel and obey all construction signs. Homecoming will be Sept. 21 and the Bulldogs will play KIPP Houston. There is no parade scheduled this year.
With no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned. Colmesneil City Council meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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