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updated 3:29 PM UTC, Feb 19, 2019


Commissioners approve equipment transfer; application resolution



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – In its third meeting of 2019, the Tyler County Commissioners Court met and tackled its agenda in a short, succinct manner, clocking in at 20 minutes, as County Judge Jacques Blanchette noted.

One of the items on Monday morning’s agenda concerned the transfer of ownership of a five-ton military grade dump truck from the office of Pct. 2 Constable John Fuller to the City of Chester. The truck, according to Fuller, is a 1985 model and has some maintenance issues. He said the city has expressed interest in owning the truck and will take care of the maintenance and insurance on it. Fuller added that if at any time the vehicle is needed by Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock, the city would have no problem allowing him to use it.

Blanchette said through the years Tyler County has benefited from the ability to procure military equipment, but for record-keeping, all of the purchases must come through the court prior to acquisition by a precinct or county department. Commissioners approved the transfer.

In other business, commissioners voted to approve the authorization for submission of a Texas Community Development Block Grant for fiscal year 2019-2020. Lesley Waxman of David J. Waxman Inc. was on hand to speak about the process. “[The resolution] is saying that you’re authorizing us to submit an application to the Texas Department of Agriculture. You are not putting up any money…it also gives you the authority to sign all documents associated with this grant,” she said.

The CDBG grant, according to Blanchette, is for the amount of $275K.

Blanchette put the resolution in the form of a motion and was seconded by Pct.1 Commissioner Martin Nash.

The commissioners also voted to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Tyler County Special Utility District, which was previously known as the Tyler County Water Supply Corporation. The agreement was needed, Blanchette said, because the SUD wishes to proceed with a CDBG application which will go through a committee appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott, and which Nash is a member.

The agreement authorizes Blanchette, on behalf of the court, to award the grant money, if the SUD is found favorable to receive funds from the grant, if it is awarded to the county.

Resolution passed in support of Alabama-Coushatta tribe
Blanchette said the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Polk County are being discriminated against in their fight to maintain the Naskila Gaming center. The commissioners voted to approve a new resolution in support of the tribe.

The new resolution in support of the tribe reflects the desire for them to be granted the same rights to have a gaming center on their land as the Kickapoo and Yselta de sur Pueblo tribes of Del Rio and El Paso, respectively.

“We stand against any discrimination that would prevent them from exercising the same privileges that have been provided the aforementioned tribes,” Blanchette read from the resolution.

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Chester becomes a sanctuary city for gun owners



By Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – City Council of Chester passed an anti-Red Flag ordinance at its regular meeting Monday evening held on Feb. 4.

Mayor Floyd Petri had introduced it at the previous meeting. Petri solicited comments from the public and even hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 2, for anyone to comment on any aspect of city affairs. The previous mayor, Elton Lawrence, showed up and said he, too, supported Petri’s proposed ordinance.

The ordinance amends the city code adding an “Anti-Red Flag Ordinance” to help protect gun owners’ Second Amendment rights expressly so that those rights “shall not be infringed.” The purpose section outlined the threat of seizure being experienced in the country, even from those who have licenses to carry. The city considers all such laws a violation of the U.S. Constitution. “In effect the City of Chester, Texas creates a Sanctuary City for Legal Gun Owners … Texas Licensed Hunters, Firearm Collections, Arsenals, Christians and those persons bearing arms under the Second Amendment.”

As previously reported, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s SB 2607 and some abuses reported in other states have scared gun enthusiasts.

The Chester ordinance also protects firearm seizure from any anonymous reporting, a key concern in the debate, and ordinance makes such a clear infringement of Second Amendment rights.
The ordinance provides a mechanism for the citizen to appeal, and it makes exceptions for the mentally ill and states that “it is the individual and not the gun that kills and injures.”

Though a couple of were absent, the ordinance passed unanimously by the quorum present. Petri thanked council.

Other Business
In other business, the council approved the minutes of the previous meeting and the financials for the city and the Chester Gas System.

There was a little discussion on the purchase of the dump trailer, and Petri was working on options regarding that. Petri has initiated contact with the new Pct. 2 Commissioner Steven Sturrock to hopefully continue their partnership on road repairs the city had with long-time Chester resident and former commissioner Rusty Hughes, who retired last year.

There was a little progress on council members getting Incident Command System training with the National Incident Management System of FEMA.

Past due accounts were discussed, and there were several slated for lock out. Petri reiterated and thanked City Secretary Annette Hickman for her input as she worked with the public respecting needs and keeping the council abreast of those customers who have initiated contact to keep their gas service coming.

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Inmate housing agreements discussed in court



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court met on Monday morning and got down to business, breezing through its agenda. Monday’s meeting, the governing body’s second of 2019, clocked in at 21 minutes, as County Judge Jacques Blanchette noted before it adjourned, which was one minute less than the last commissioners court meeting held on Jan. 14.

Several of the items on Monday’s agenda dealt with agreements between Tyler County and other counties within the region to house long-term adult and juvenile inmates.

Ernie Martin was present, representing the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office. Martin told the court that the price of housing long-term inmates in the San Jacinto County Jail has increased from $25 to $35 per inmate. Martin said that Tyler County has used the interlocal agreement with SJC to house on average of 10 people. Blanchette called the agreement a “valuable asset” to Tyler County and commissioners approved keeping the agreement in place.

Agreements between Tyler County and Angelina and Hardin counties were also approved by commissioners for the housing of juvenile offenders in long-term detention facilities.

The agreements are for one-year periods, and Blanchette noted that there were some particulars that need looking over with the assistance of counsel, but the deadlines for signing the agreements was pressing upon Terry Allen, the juvenile probation chief for the county.

After addressing the matter of the long-term juvenile offender detention situation, Blanchette informed the court of the intention to suspend the services of its legal counsel, David Brooks. Blanchette said the county’s needs are greater than what Brooks offers.

The commissioners approved the suspension of Brooks’ services and subsequently, on Blanchette’s recommendation, the action to engage the firm Allison, Bass and Magee to provide counsel to the commissioners court and local government officials on an as-needed basis.

Other Business
Other items of business addressed by the commissioners court on Monday included:
• The accepting of withdrawal of LJA Engineering as project engineer for the fiscal year 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant project for the county. The second in line for the project is Lufkin-based firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong, a firm that Blanchette noted is familiar with Tyler County from past projects.
• The approval for the sale of fireworks during the period of Feb. 25 through midnight of March 2 in celebration of Texas Independence Day was made. Ken Jobe, who served the county as emergency management coordinator prior to being elected Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2, was present and said there were no concerns pressing with fireworks during the period.

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Audit report given to WISD



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, Woodville ISD received its audit report for the previous fiscal year, which ended on Aug. 31, 2018.

Darla Belt Dear, of Belt, Harris and Pechacek, LLLP, presented the audit’s results and reported the district shows an unmodified opinion, the highest result possible, according to Dear. She said the district has done a “great job on keeping the fund balance up,” and in keeping within budget guidelines.

The total revenues for WISD for the reported fiscal year came in at just over $13 million with expenditures a little over $12 million and $662,996 left in the fund balance.

Dear, whose firm is number one in the state in the volume of governmental audits it handles, praised the district and business manager Cody Jarrott for the exemplary work committed toward the district’s finances. Of all the audits Dear’s firm covered during the year, she said WISD “has taken the prize” with its positive report. “You had the least amount of journal entries,” she said.

Finalized accountability ratings given
The Texas Academic Report from the Texas Education Agency for WISD is now finalized for the 2017-18 school year, and Superintendent Glen Conner reported that nothing had changed since the preliminary report that was given in the summer.

All of the WISD campuses were issued a “Met Standard” accountability rating, and overall, the district received a letter grade of C, with a C for overall student achievement; a B for school progress and a D in the closing the gaps domain.

Conner said a full performance report will be presented at the January meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Renovations ongoing
Conner gave updates on the district-wide spate of renovations during his regular report to the board. He said the scheduling is ongoing and there have been meetings held on the projects. A lot of the work, he said, will be done after regular school hours. The Lufkin firm Goodwin-Lassiter was selected as engineers for the entire project, which includes replacing the high school’s roof, district-wide HVAC repairs and replacing and the implementation of LED lighting across the district.

Debate team members recognized
During the public comments portion of the meeting, three members of the WISD debate team were recognized for their efforts along with their coach Cathy D’Entremont. Drake Broom received a third place at regional competition and will compete at the State UIL finals in January alongside teammate Penny Brackin, who placed second at regionals. Wyatt Bell was a finalist and was recognized as a “super leader,” by D’Entremont. She added that her students have made her start at WISD easy.

Other Business
At its December meeting, WISD trustees also approved the authorization for Jarrott to open a bank account at Citizens State Bank and an account with Texpool in order to hold tax maintenance note deposits.
Jarrott said that in selling tax maintenance notes, the district will receive $2.2 million, which will be wired to the Citizens account. Transferring the money to Texpool will result in a higher interest rate for the funds.

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