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updated 3:29 PM UTC, Feb 19, 2019



Landlords address issues with city garbage rates



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Mike Murphy, who owns the Fran Mar apartment complex in Woodville, took the city council to task at its Monday night meeting. Murphy asked council to address the “injustice” of its trash pickup rates.

Murphy said he currently pays $390 each month for a two-yard Dumpster at the complex and does not understand why the city does not charge by volume.

Murphy said he also does not understand why the Dumpster, which is emptied twice each week, is charged at a rate that is different for apartments than

the existing residential rate.
City Administrator Mandy Risinger said the difference in trash pickup rates is between commercial and residential settings. Risinger said that although Dumpsters are typically reserved for commercial waste, they are provided as a courtesy for apartment complexes, but the rate still applies as a residential one, but with a discount factored in for apartments from the normal residential rate.

The rates, which were last changed in 2008, according to Risinger, are $19.25 per month for the standard residential rate and $15 per unit for apartments.
Risinger later explained that the discount was factored in due to the average difference between apartment units and houses.

Murphy said he gets the same service from Local Sanitation for $120 per month at a property he owns outside the city limits, however, city ordinance prevents him from using any waste management service than what the city provides.

Chance Cooper, who owns a trailer park within the city limits, also spoke on the issue. Cooper, along with Murphy, spoke about the trash rates at January’s city council meeting during the public forum portion of the meeting.

During that meeting Cooper said he did not understand increases in rates at his property. Risinger said she had some “bad news” for Cooper, as she’d looked at his property and found that he was paying for one unit instead of each unit within the park at the $19.25 residential rate.

“This situation is fair and equitable to what the rule is,” Risinger said.

“Fair and equitable doesn’t correlate here,” Cooper said.

Councilwoman Kelly Dillard said the ordinance on the books is what sets the different rates for property owners, depending on what type of property. Murphy urged the council to look at the ordinance and change it to be fairer to property owners.

“You can correct this injustice in my eyes. I’ve overpaid $10,000 already,” he said.

Resolution for CDBG grant application
Council approved a resolution that authorizes the city to submit an application to the Texas Department of Agriculture for a Community Development Block Grant for the fiscal year 2019-2020 funding cycle.

Risinger said the project the city would like to address with the money, if awarded, is to acquire a new bar screen at the sewer plant. She said that in the last funding cycle, the city was docked points and not funded, as it had been previously funded in another cycle; something that counted against it in the scoring criteria.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but this project would probably cost more than the grant fund is worth,” she said.

The amount of the grant is $275K. Risinger said there was money in the city’s enterprise fund to cover the difference as well as the match. An educated guess, she said, would put the project at between $350-450K.

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Woodville awarded $2 million GLO grant



By Chris Edwards
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AUSTIN – The city of Woodville was awarded a $2 million grant on Monday. The money, which was awarded to the city from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the Texas General Land Office, with funds earmarked for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program will go toward street improvement projects in the southwest portion of Woodville.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush made the announcement on Monday and said, “Texas has faced more than its fair share of natural disasters and the floods of 2016 are no exception.”

Last October the city’s application for the grant was filed. Woodville City Administrator Mandy Risinger said during that month’s city council meeting that the amount is a large one compared to the amount of grant monies the city typically pursues. This grant has a $100K match to the city. “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,” Risinger said.

The projects slated for the city, with the grant money, are for streets and drainage, primarily on MLK and Cardinal, and possibly other areas.

Bush said “The GLO continues to partner with local communities to administer long-term recovery funds for both housing and infrastructure. Projects to be funded have been prioritized by local leaders in affected communities to help address ongoing housing needs and harden infrastructure to mitigate against future flooding events.”

According to a news release from the GLO, the office encouraged 2016 disaster-impacted communities to submit applications for long-term recovery projects for funding consideration.

The awards were based on scoring and ranking of submitted project applications from eligible entities in 66 Texas counties during the 120-day application period. Eligible entities included cities, counties and local housing authorities.

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WISD Superintendent announces retirement



By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Longtime Woodville ISD superintendent Glen Conner is retiring from his position.

The WISD Board of Trustees announced Conner’s decision following a special meeting called on Wednesday night through a press release. “An agreement has been reached which allows the board to pursue hiring another superintendent and Mr. Conner the ability to retire and pursue other interests.”

Conner, a 38-year veteran of public education, has served as superintendent for 13 years. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the district,” he said. “I have some things I haven’t had the time to do…a little bit of travel.” Conner added he has “a slew of grandchildren” to spend time with in his post-retirement life. He will serve the remainder of the school year, with June 30 as his last day with WISD.

In his career, Conner said “I have seen a lot of changes [in education] and I can’t say that any of them have been bad.”

WISD’s Board of Trustees said in its press release that it “is proud of the many achievements and accomplishments of the entire district team during Mr. Conner’s tenure as superintendent.”

District-wide performance report given
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, WISD’s Annual Performance Report was reviewed and discussed by the trustees.

The report, which is required by law of the district, contains information on a broad range of topics, including standardized test scores, accreditation status, financial data and student performance information. All WISD campuses met standards per Texas Education Agency’s reporting. WISD’s accountability rating is a C for the 2017-18 school year, with requirements met in the Special Education

Determination Status and ASVAB Test requirement.

Under the topic of student requirement, the report includes data about campus crime, which Conner reported there were no major crimes for the school year, only minor incidents of assault; “fights at school, basically,” he said. This, he attributed to the district-wide zero tolerance policy.

District-wide improvements update
During his report, Conner gave an update on the district-wide renovations that were approved for a new roof on the high school, HVAC repair and replacement and lighting replacement.

The HVAC work will be done first and should begin this month, according to Conner. The window for the renovations is over 300 days, but the estimate given to the district by the contractors puts the project at under 200, depending on weather conditions.

Early resignation incentive approved
A measure was approved by the board to incentivize faculty who wish to resign to make their declaration early, to allow the district more time to secure replacements.

Those wishing to resign can announce their intention up to 45 days prior to the first day of instruction of the school year without penalty. The new resignation will award $500 for faculty who announce plans to resign by the last Friday in March. “It will allow us to hopefully post and advertise those jobs early and secure a replacement for that person,” Conner said.

Clarification: In an earlier story, published in the Dec. 6, 2018 edition, misleading information about Conner’s contract was presented. Conner was not given a two-year contract extension. Information about his contract was only presented in that month’s packet of board information due to particulars for the district’s FIRST rating.

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Online solicitation charge gets Tyler County man 20 years



By Chris Edwards
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Damon Childmo AllenGROVETON – A Tyler County man was sentenced in a Trinity County courtroom to 20 years in prison on Friday.

Damon Paul Allen, 36, pleaded guilty to a charge of online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony.

According to Trinity County District Attorney Bennie Schiro, Allen never actually met his intended victim.

“His crime was committed completely over the Internet,” Schiro said.

The crime which Allen was charged occurred in April 2017, when Allen, who was then identified as living in Hillister, was arrested by the Groveton Police Department following a complaint from a 16-year-old girl’s mother. The parent told police that Allen had been liking and commenting on her daughter’s Facebook posts “to a disturbing degree,” and she then turned her daughter’s phone over to police, who found that Allen had been sending inappropriate texts and “sexting” the girl and was trying to get her to meet up with him, according to Groveton Chief of Police John Raiford.

Allen is currently a registered sex offender, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry. He is listed as a moderate risk level offender, stemming from a 2005 conviction of Indecency With a Child by Exposure, for which he was sentenced to six years of community supervision. A records search revealed Allen was sentenced in 2009 for failing to comply with his offender registration requirements. He was released in 2016.

He is listed on the registry as a Colmesneil resident with an annual verification requirement.

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