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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.

Spurger ISD gets highest possible score on FIRST rating, tables action on handbook

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger ISD held its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on September 18. Before the regular meeting, the board held a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the FIRST rating. Spurger ISD got a score of 7 on the rating, which is the highest score possible.

The board also discussed a recent professional development audit. According to Superintendent Joe Fisher, last year the state did an audit in a sampling of schools across Texas. Spurger was chosen as one of the schools.

The audit required a visit from the state, the review of documents from the district regarding professional development, focus groups, surveys and Internet meetings.

The results declared that Spurger ISD is doing professional development right and can hopefully be a role model of how districts can be evaluated in the future, Fisher said.

Next, the board discussed transportation goals. The board decided to purchase a new car, a Ford Focus, to make mandatory trips to Beaumont with students. They also contracted with an online auction company called Lemmons to handle the auction of old buses that need to be sold.

The board then discussed the student and teacher handbooks and making changes to dress and grooming codes. At the last meeting, it was decided that Principal Shumake would talk to student council and student committees to get an idea of what changes or additions students would like to see in the handbook.

Some board members had an issue with changing the handbook or changing the grooming and dress code rules.

"The more you let them do, the more fight you have on your hands," board president Eddie Jordan said.

Some members, however, want to relax the rules so that "teachers can spend less time policing and more time educating."

"We have 19th century rules with 21st century people," said board member Chris Sheffield. "If we aren't willing to validate the students opinion, then why are we here?"

There was no action taken on the handbook as it is an ongoing discussion with the board.

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on October 16.

DETCOG Board Hears that Disaster Recovery Housing Program Well Underway

Woodville, Texas – Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Executive Director, Walter Diggles, announced Thursday that that the DETCOG/Texas General Land Office (TxGLO) Hurricane Ike Disaster Recovery Housing Program has forty two site constructed and manufactured housing units (MHU) assigned to approved contractors. Diggles said that the building and placement of twenty two of those homes and MHU's is underway with four already completed.

The report to the board also noted that another job creating loan in DETCOG's Hurricane Ike Disaster Recovery Forgivable Loan Program was closed this month. Two others from Nacogdoches are scheduled to be closed in the next 30 days. The Texas General Land Office has just approving another of the loans for a business in Jasper. The contract paperwork for that loan will need to be prepared by DETCOG's attorney. That leaves three of the job creating loans still pending in the environmental review process.

Chester Council cancels November elections

by Michael G. Maness

Mayor C. E. Lawrence convened the Chester City Council on Monday night, Sept. 1, at its regularly scheduled meeting.

After approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, council approved the financial statements for the city and Chester Gas System. Included in the financials were an annual audit by Axley and Robe of Lufkin.
Council proceeded to cancel the November election. The mayor's position and two alderman positions were up for re-election. Lawrence re-applied for mayor, John Wayne Davis reapplied for alderman and Floyd Petri applied for the spot vacated by Eric Holton. With no opponents and the timeline for other applicants passed, those who applied will move into office after the election in November.

The council approved the bid submitted by Records Consultants Inc. to clean and prepare the city's records according to Texas' records retention schedule. Councilwoman Charlotte Barnes took the lead and will be contacting RCI to proceed. For about $3,500, RCI will comb through the records, prepare nearly 80 percent for destruction based upon an estimate, destroy the records no longer needed to be in compliance, develop a plan for retaining those records that need to be kept, and send the proper documentation to Austin. RCI estimated that about 72 of the 90 boxes of documents may be able to be vacated, which would free up a lot of needed space.

The council voted to designate the city secretary as their official records management officer.
The council looked at several applications for part-time office help, with a salary based upon experience. A few applicants looked very promising, and the council is planning to interview next month. They will continue to take applications to the end of the month. Anyone interested is encouraged to come by and get an application or call (936) 969-2360.

Colmesneil ISD Board passes Texas Legislative Update 100

by Michael G. Maness

After the consent agenda was passed with little comment on the previous minutes and financials when the CISD Board met, Elementary School Principal Yvette Carlton reported how refreshing it was to have the Pre-K students appear so lively with their learning. Carlton praised how quickly the little ones were putting up their lunch trays on their own and walking in straight lines, "rocking and rolling in elementary."

High School Principal Walter McAlpin followed and noted that he wished "junior high could walk in a straight line." Likewise, proud of his students' achievements, he said he felt they were off to the "most unified start" since he had been with the district.

Matterson was thrilled to report that their Grandparents Day celebration had over 240 present.
Ford Motor Co. donated $70,000 for the larger tournament. A team has to play in six of the twelve games to qualify for the final, with six at Sam Rayburn and six at Toledo Ben.

In conference, Matterson said she, McAlpin and Carlton identified what had transpired since August, giving a presentation on three large posters listing the many projects, initiatives, and kinds of progress Colmesneil had accomplished. Among them, Matterson was proud to say the school purchased the college texts for those students willing to take college courses while in high school, the first time the school was able to do this in seven years.

Masterson gave the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas report's score of 69, one short of a possible 70, rating Colmesneil ISD with "Superior Achievement" for the 2012-13 year, far above the 52 minimum passing score.

The board passed Texas legislative Update 100, that included several policy changes and counsel, including legal advice on concealed handguns and school "resource officers."

Other items included the TEA's development of its principal and educator appraisals. Student conduct may be evaluated in approving interdistrict transfers, adding that such a district transfer must be for one year – no more multiple transfers within a year. Lastly, the district or school may use funds to advertise, as long as such was to promote school interests and does not "expose the district to controversy, litigation, or disruption."

Colmesneil city council cancels Nov. election

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil's city council canceled its election in November, because there was no opposition to the positions up for re-election, and the incumbent members are willing and honored to serve again.

After convening Tuesday evening, Sept. 9, Mayor Don Baird asked for any citizen comments. Billy Andrus mentioned his desire for the city to give incentives to the employees and asked the board to look at safety resources.

Baird welcomed new hire, Linda Bailey, who was recently hired to help city secretary Carrie Edwards. Bailey had been helping out for a while.

An agenda item on city beautification and code enforcement brought a puzzlement to the council.

They have talked with DETCOG about a grant for a recycle bin, similar to the one in front of Woodville ISD's administration building. They might look at renting a large dumpster for the disposing of debris, though there were little concerns about most of Colmesneil, being that several were quite happy with how good it looked most of the time.

The city had received several complaints about a few residents' very sloppy and smelling yards, to the point the city has tried to help the complaints with a certified letter, going from the Tyler County health agents all the way to Austin, and to their state senator and representative. Without a municipal court and a local law enforcement agency, there was little the city seemed be able to do to help. It was hard to understand how insensitive to fellow neighbors those could be who allow their property to degenerate into such a sloppy and unhealthy state. No action was taken.

On a positive note, a lively discussion ensued over a non-agenda event, the exciting up-coming homecoming parade, sponsored by the Ex-Students Association. Most of the council members and guests were thrilled to see the parade return.