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Yellowjacket Volleyball Serves Up a Win

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by Jana Rayburn

The Chester Lady Jacket volleyball team got their first win last Friday, August 19. The Lady Jackets beat Beaumont Harmony and Science on the road in three straight games.

The girls came out confident, made good serves, and communicated. These are some of the things that Coach Dewayne Armstrong and Coach Becki Byrd have been working on in practice the last week. Armstrong says that the team continues to practice hard and are coming together and playing as a unit. He is extremely proud of their positive attitudes and their dedication to getting better each game. Byrd agreed and said the girls are starting to work well in their new positions.

The Lady Jackets will travel to Warren to compete in the Warren volleyball tournament on Thursday, August 25 and Saturday, August 27. Pool play starts Thursday, as Chester plays East Chambers at 3 p.m. They will play Apple Springs at 4 p.m., then Hemphill at 6 p.m. Bracket play starts Saturday morning.

The CHS cross country teams have been working hard every day in anticipation of the upcoming season. The wait is just about over, as the teams head to Corrigan-Camden for a meet on Saturday, August 27. Coach Charlotte Barnes has been impressed so far with the determination and willingness of her runners and anticipates a great season with this large group of athletes.

The Yellowjacket football team met up with Apple Springs at Woodville High School stadium on Friday, August 19 for a scrimmage. Coach Gary Beam initially thought his team did okay. Then he watched the game film and saw a lot of good things. The offense did well moving the ball, going 220 yards in 20 plays is not bad at all. Beam believes they still need to improve on blocking, and we have to be more aggressive up front.

He was pleased with quarterback Clay Thomson, who continues to progress very nicely. Thomson completed two out of three passes for 81 yards and had two touchdowns and one interception. Colten Martin was very impressive and had a great night running the ball. He had seven carries for 70 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Jake Pitre, who had five carries for 53 yards, was awesome as well.

Cord Neal had a reception for a 60 yard touchdown, and Seth Read added a catch for a 21 yard touchdown as well. Read played real well on defense, as did Jake Pitre. Beam also said Junior Henson played well on defense, just needs more reps.

Defensively, there were several good things going on, but there was a lot of confusion on sets, which is to be expected in the first scrimmage. Beam said overall, the team is further along than he thought. Most of the problems can be fixed rather easily, and he expects they will.

"On a positive note, we scored three and gave up one touchdown, and that is a plus anytime," Beam said.
The Jackets will travel to Bryan-College Station on Saturday, August 27 to play Huntsville Alpha Omega at 8:30 p.m. as part of the Allen Academy six-man showcase.

Interstate 14: ‘Forts To Ports’ on its way to Woodville

by Stephen R. Juneau

On the afternoon of Tuesday, August 9, at the Tyler County Courthouse, shortly after encountering his constituents and providing answers to their concerns, Congressman Babin took the opportunity to briefly discuss the new Interstate Highway 14 coming to Woodville in the years ahead. He introduced I-14 with a brief history lesson concerning Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President serving from 1953-1961. Congressman Babin pointed out that it was Eisenhower who envisioned the cross country interstate highway systems: though not solely for commuters, travelers and truckers, but "to accommodate military operations" in securing the well-being of the nation. That became the underlying need for a Strategic Interstate Highway connecting as many military bases as possible: that which Interstate 14 sets out doing.
When asked about whether or not I-14 would pass directly through Woodville, he stated, "I could not say for certain at this point exactly where it will pass; however, it will not likely pass directly through Woodville." As is the custom with Interstate Highways under construction, they typically bypass business districts of rural towns; however, the people of Woodville—as well as the people in all other towns along I-14's route—will have to cross that bridge whenever it gets to them.

Congressman Babin co-authored the inception of Interstate-14 with Congressman Blake Farenthold also from Texas. Babin introduced their bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Texas Senator John Cronyn introduced it to the U.S. Senate. Thereafter, it was overwhelmingly approved by congress and signed into law.

Polk County Judge B. Thompson's presentation at Texas Good Roads on July 8, 2014, mapped out Interstate-14. Originating at El Paso to begin with Fort Bliss just off Interstate-10 and heading eastward from there, it will branch off of Interstate-10 a few miles east of Fort Stockton to take on its own route and travel through central Texas and on in to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. There it will reconnect with I-20 at Augusta, home of Fort Gordon.
Texas towns and cities Interstate-14 will connect include El Paso, Menard, Killeen, Temple, Bryan-College Station, Huntsville, Livingston, Woodville, Jasper and Burkeville. Crossing over the Sabine River on into Louisiana, I-14 will run through Leesville, Alexandria and there take a slight north turn on into Mississippi. There it will continue being routed eastward through Natchez, Brookhaven, Laurel and Meridian; then into Alabama passing through Montgomery and Columbus. Into Georgia, it will continue on through Columbus then Macon and finally reach its destination at Augusta.
Congressman Babin referred to the new highway as, "a main corridor connecting Forts to Ports." Although not all forts and ports being referred to are directly off the new designated portal, they are indeed within its vicinity for military operations. Strategically routed to intersect a number of major north and south corridors, such as I-45 and I-69, it will be convenient to a number of southern ports as well as other southern military outposts. The military outpost and significant ports along its vicinity include, but are not limited to: Fort Bliss in El Paso, Fort Stockton, Fort Hood, the Port of Houston in addition to the Port of Beaumont –the busiest military port in the US for the deployment of military equipment—Fort Polk, Camp Beauregard, Camp Shelby, Fort Rucker, Fort Benning, Marine Logistic Base Albany, Fort Stewart, Robbins Air Force Base and Fort Gordon just outside of Augusta, Georgia.

Kristen Westfall to begin serving double life sentence

Kristen Westfall will officially begin serving her double life sentence after a jury convicted her of capital murder on August 18, in Bryan, Texas.

After hearing testimony from both sides, including testimony from Kristen's brother, Cameron, the jury deliberated for 8 hours before coming back with the guilty verdict.

Westfall's mother, Letha, accepted a plea deal in May and Cameron pled guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence, which are 3rd degree felonies. His finding of guilt is being deferred until Cameron testifies in the trials of his family members.

Kristen's father, Paul, is still awaiting trial.

Commissioners Court decision appealed over Lake Amanda

by Stephen R. Juneau

Tyler County Commissioners convened to move forward in creating a Water Control and Improvement District for Lake Amanda residents during their Aug. 18 regularly scheduled meeting. The purpose of that creation would be to tax residents for the restoration of the broken dam at Lake Amanda. They also convened to appoint a temporary board of directors to govern it. These were items E & F on their Aug. 18 agenda.

Judge Jacques Blanchette asked for Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall to brief the court regarding updates on Lake Amanda. Marshall reported: "After hearing both sides and having a lot of discussion, Judge, I think the best thing is to go ahead and put this up for election. So, I make a motion to approve the creation of a water and improvement district." It was seconded.

Judge Blanchette then addressed the crowd on hand with the following: "This is an Administrative Body. It is not a Judicial Body. It has the responsibilities to review information presented to it to render a decision based upon whether it's in compliance with what the law is. Ultimately the decision will be put before first. I will just add in my comment section that we received numerous communications from those both supporting and opposed to this. When we conducted our Public Hearing we received the information to see if there was anything that was illegal in this process which is represented by a body of people who petitioned legally through this. Mike and I met numerous times. It is appropriate for us to do this. We were not informed and did not have the deliberation of any of the other body present with us. This was very serious and very sobering and we came to a conclusion that we have an administrative responsibility to act upon what's been petitioned before the court. So that is going to be the extent of my portion of the discussion regarding this particular matter; and, I feel like it was respectful for us to convey that. Mike and I had that conversation and once it goes before the voting public, then they will have their opportunity to make their own decision about this. That being said, is there any other discussion from the court?" Since none, the commissioners all voted in favor of: Creation of a Water and Improvement District #1.
Judge Blanchette then moved to appoint a temporary Board of Directors to Water Control and Improvement District #1. He said: "There were five names that were put before the court requesting that they be appointed as a temporary board member until a confirmation of this particular district has been set before the people; and then, ultimately the opportunity for any individual who has property in that district to be appointed on the board as well." They were: Don Sousley, Heyward Fetner, Kirwin Drouet, Gene Cappadonna and Kaye Mendoza.

Judge Blanchette pointed out that the Court needed to act upon that portion of their responsibility in appointing them as temporary board members. Commissioner Marshall made a motion to do so and it was seconded. The judge invited discussion before the governing body.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Martin Nash inquired about the legal residency of the five. He was informed that only Don Sousley resided in Colmesneil: home of Lake Amanda. Fetner and Drouet were from Houston; Cappadonna, Conroe; and, Mendoza from Nederland. Judge Blanchette pointed out: "The understanding was that members did not have to be residents." Nash: "I understand that. I am inquiring if we could have a more balanced make up of residents than nonresidents." Judge, "At this particular time, these were the names that were submitted to the court to act upon. That all changes based upon the election. This is just a temporary board until now and the confirmation of the election." The motion passed with Nash dissenting.

However, Amanda Lake property owner, Leigh Cowart, appealed the Court's decision. She stated: "Sec. 51.022 says we can APPEAL FROM ODER OF COMMISSIONERS COURT at the time of the entry of the order." Judge, "Your appeal will need to be filed with the court so we can move forward with your appeal." Cowart, "Thank You!" Judge, "You're Welcome. We will certainly seek some legal guidance as far as operating through your petition." Cowart, "Thank You." Mrs. Leigh then went from there to the County Clerk's Office and put up $2500 bond for her appeal in compliance with the law.

County Clerk, Donece Gregory, cited that the deadline for mailing out ballots is 45 days in advance of an election for military personnel. Because of the appeal process, the County Clerk will be contacting the Secretary of State to determine if the two motions will be on the ballot in the upcoming Nov. 8 General Election.

Warren ISD Superintendent on Warren ISD Tax Ratification Elections

Warren ISD Response to:

Spurger ISD and Warren ISD Tax Ratification Elections
From Tyler County Booster
August 10, 2016

Stephen R. Juneau wrote an article in the Tyler County Booster this week discussing the Tax Ratification Election. He uses the metaphor of fictional characters Peter, Paul and Mary and none of these have any place in this election. The article is riddled with confusion and is flawed from its very origin.

 

There are many misrepresentations within the article. In the third paragraph, the article makes the statement that “the less paid out on any loan, the higher the cost.” Please understand that the ENTIRE bond payment for Warren ISD has and will continue to be paid in full. In addition to this, WISD has recently completed refinancing approximately $8.5 million of the current bond, thus saving in excess of $1.5 million over the life of the bond.

 

The article goes on to mention “School Taxes.” The $1.18 that he discusses as the ceiling set by the state does not exist. There are two ceilings set. A school district may, by law, set a tax rate of $1.04 on maintenance and operation without going to the district’s voters. The district must go to their voters to exceed that rate. The maximum rate that a district may charge on the maintenance and operation side of “School Taxes” is $1.17. This is why the Warren ISD board proposed to ask our voters for approval to do this.

 

The article mentions that a portion of the money collected from this hypothetical $1,180 is used to pay the bond. This statement is completely inaccurate. All of the tax revenue from the $1.17 collected (if passed) will go directly to the operation of the school district. The entire explanation using the $1,140 for M & O and the $40 for I & S is completely incorrect. The only statement in the 4th paragraph from the article that is true is that the district collects more state funding by increasing the maintenance and operation tax rate. This is the main reason for doing a “Tax Swap” election. A successful “Tax Swap” results in increased funding from the state level without any undue burden on our local taxpayers.

 

In the 5th paragraph, the article states that the Tax Ratification Election would move $0.13 from our $0.14 “mortgage payments.”  This analogy is incorrect and should be I & S, which is our debt service tax rate. To clarify what is misstated in the article, the $0.14 rate is the debt service rate for Spurger ISD, not Warren ISD. The proposed tax rate for Warren ISD for the 2016­17 school year is $1.45 which would include $1.04 for Maintenance and Operation and $0.41 for Interest and Sinking. If the “Tax Swap” election passes, the tax rate would still be $1.45. The difference would be that the Maintenance and Operation rate would move to $1.17 and the Interest and Sinking rate would drop to $0.28. The overall tax rate would remain the same. The same amount of taxes would be collected locally and, as stated earlier in the article, the gain in funding would come from the state and not from our voters. Again, the entire bond payment would still be made and the length of the bond would remain unchanged. Based on education funding templates, Warren ISD would stand to gain an additional $280,000 from the state in year one and around $300,000 in future years.

 

In the next paragraph, the article makes reference to a home loan and extending the loan through refinancing. That is not what this election is doing. The Tax Swap is taking advantage of state funding formulas by collecting more revenue on the Maintenance and Operation side of “School Taxes”, not by extending the bond payments.

 

Again, there will NOT be an extension of the Warren ISD bond if this election passes nor will the total tax rate of $1.45 change. The article goes on to describe what is on the ballot. There is a sample ballot on the Warren ISD Facebook page or you can see one at the Warren ISD central office.

 

This article clearly does not give a true representation of this process. The author has not made any contact with officials at Warren ISD. The dollar amounts listed in THIS response can be verified for Warren ISD, while the numbers in the article cannot be verified for Warren ISD. We encourage our residents to get out and vote. But please educate yourself before you do so.

Please remember the following:

  • This election will not cost the voters of Warren ISD moremoney.
  • This will not extend the bond payments and all payments will be made in full.
  • This “Swap” is moving $0.13 from I&S toM&O
  • Most importantly, this will generate anadditional $280,000 in revenue from the state without placing undue burden on WISD taxpayers.

 

If anyone has any questions regarding the Warren ISD TRE, please contact the Warren ISD central office at 409­547­2247 or go to the district website at www.warrenisd.net for more information.

 

Brad McEachern Superintendent Warren ISD

STORY RETRACTION: Spurger ISD and Warren ISD Tax Ratification Elections

STORY RETRACTION: The Tyler County Booster ran a story in the August 11 Issue of our paper titled "Spurger ISD and Warren ISD Tax Ratification Elections." It has come to our attention from both Spurger and Warren Superintendents that the the numbers and facts represented in the story are inaccurate. Because the story is important and timely, the fact that it inaccurate is egregious.

The Booster works very hard to be an asset to our community, and work very hard to be fair and accurate in our reporting. We failed with this story and for that we apologize.

Spurger ISD Superintendent Kendall Smith has written the following response to the story and provided accurate information so voters can make informed choices.

The Tyler Booster Published on August 10, 2016

Spurger ISD and Warren ISD Tax Ratification Elections by Stephen R. Juneau

Corrections are done in red to correct the highlighted text.

Spurger ISD and Warren ISD are holding Tax Ratification Elections (TRE) in order to receive more state funding without increasing local property taxes for the time being. The players are threefold whom I will refer to in this report as Peter, Paul and Mary. No “Mary”, don’t know where it came from.

What Tax Ratification Elections are all about is taking from Peter to pay Paul resulting in two outcomes: increasing revenues from the State while decreasing payments on outstanding loans we will not decrease any payments towards the bond. Since Peter comes up on the short end, let’s carefully examine just what Peter represents. There is no short end.

Peter metaphorically represents the amount of money school districts use to pay totheir bonds that are primarily needed for financing new building projects: their mortgages so to speak. Spurger ISD refers to their Peter as I & S: acronym for Interest and Sinking Fund. Warren ISD refers to their Peter as DSR: acronym for Debt Service Rate. But no matter how thin you slice it or what you call it, the less paid out on any loan, the higher the cost. We are not paying less on any loan. Instead of using I & S tax to cover the entire bond payment, we are reducing that side of the tax to increase the M & O rate and pay most of the bond out of fund balance.

In the State of Texas, school districts must be good stewards and collect money on their own by assessing taxes on the property owned by the people living within their boundaries. That charge may not exceed $1.18 for every $100 of worth to one’s land and home—sheds and fences, in order to qualify for state funding. Based on that magic $1.18 ceiling, a property valued at $100,000 would result in its owner owing the school district $1,180 in January. They call it, “School Taxes.” The $1.18 covers M & O and I & S taxes Spurger. Tax rate may exceed $1.18 in total taxes. State says that a district may set a tax rate without an election allow 4 cents above the compressed tax rate, which ours is a $1.00 (for 1.04) , and with a TRE the maximum M & O rate is 17 cents above the compressed rate.

Then you may ask: What happens to that $1,180 once it ends up in the hands of the school district? For the most part, school districts allot up to $1,140 of the total amount to Paul: Maintenance and Operations. On the other hand, the remaining $40 is allotted to Peter: payment on their bond debt or so called mortgages. I really don’t know where this came from. On the basis $100,000 property value and the $1,180 collected, we would currently collect $1,040 for the M & O and $140 for the I & S.  The reason for those magic numbers is that the State of Texas sets a ceiling at $1.14 $1.04 per $100 value that school districts may tax for M & O alone without voter approval. The remaining $0.14 is set aside to pay off existing mortgage loans typically in the form of bonds. This rate varies based on the tax value and the amount of the loan. The I & S rate tax rate can be changed every year to make sure enough tax is collected to cover the bond payment. But there is still another catch. It just so happens that the State of Texas started a new trend of allocating a portion of school district allotments based on the amount of money districts allot for their M & O. The higher the tax rate, the more money the district stands to gain from state funding.

That’s where a clever Tax Ratification Election comes in to play: “taking from Peter to pay Paul without raising taxes.” Hence, what Spurger ISD and Warren ISD and many others are simply proposing is to shift $0.13 out of their $0.14 mortgage payments and increase their M & O with that $0.13. Under their proposals, if approved, their M & O would increase from $1.14 $1.04 per $100 to $1.17 leaving only $0.01 per $100 to pay out their loans. The upside is that Spurger ISD stands to receive an additional minimum $130,000 annually from the State of Texas. Warren ISD would receive a proportional increase as well. But what about their payments on their outstanding bonds?

Here’s the real world: Let’s say you have a fifteen year mortgage for $1,000 monthly. But, you want to buy a new car out of your mortgage payments. So how can you do that? Easy! Refinance your mortgage for 30 years reducing your monthly mortgage payments to $600 leaving you with $400 to pay on your new car loan. So what you end up with is a new car, a $400 car note, and perhaps triple the amount of money you now owe on your home having extended your mortgage from 15 years to 30 years. This is a ridiculous example that DOES NOT depicts the situation. We are not reducing the bond payment! We want to move most of the tax rate used for bond payments to the operation side because the state provides more funding for that tax rate and make the bond payments with our fund balance (savings). At the end of the year, monies not spent will replenish the fund balance.

So the big question property owners should ask their school districts holding TREs (Tax Ratification Elections), is how much remains owed to the quiet one? Mary (bond holders)? We will owe the same amount for bond payments no matter if the TRE passes or not. And, are there any new building projects in the making that will require a bond election in the future? All future major projects will require another bond election and there are no plans in the near future.  If the school district is debt free with a nice emergency fund set aside as some are, then taking from Peter to pay Paul would make sense until State Legislatures once again change methods of financing schools while looking out for their own self-interest.

TRE is a window of opportunity that may not go very far; however, if it’s to a school district’s advantage, best to use it rather than lose it. Spurger’s TRE ballot consist of only a Tax Ratification Proposal of $1.18; Spurger’s TRE is a tax swap also. The ballot will read a raise to $1.31 to protect us in case the TRE fails and the board passed a resolution declaring that the maximum total tax rate is $1.18 no matter the outcome. whereas, Warren’s ballot consist of a Tax Ratification Proposal as well as a Tax Swap Proposal. Hence, the two Districts are holding the same election. Should they have little or no bond debt, it would be to their advantage to have voters approve their proposals. The amount of the bond debt is not a factor in the benefits.

Spurger ISD has an excellent video on their website explaining the ratification. Spurger ISD and Warren ISD Tax Ratification process focusing on Paul; but, it comes short of mentioning the effects of taking from Peter. In reference to the Warren ISD Community, Superintendent Brad McEachern summed up his reasons for the TRE: “Warren ISD has lost approximately $60 million in appraised (property) values in the last three years attributed mostly to the decrease in oil and gas values. this affects the amount of money collected locally through taxes. While the State makes up some of this loss in the following year, there is still a net loss. Each of the last three years, WISD has cut expenses to account for this.”

TRE Election Dates, Hours and Locations:

Spurger ISD’s Election is scheduled for August 27 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the high school’s Minter gymnasium. Early voting is available from August 10-12, 15-17, 19, and 22 – 23: all within the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Early voting will also be available on August 18 from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Warren I.S.D. is holding its TRE Elections in the high school’s library on August 16 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with early voting from Aug. 1 – 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the same location.

(School Board Elections will be held in November during the General Elections)

This article has been corrected Kendall Smith, Superintendent of Spurger ISD