Citywide cleanup planned for March 5th thru 16th

By Valerie Reddell
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City officials announced last week that March 17 will be a citywide cleanup day throughout Woodville. Volunteer teams from local businesses and civic groups are being asked to choose an area of the city that they will clean up — either an area near their location or adopt an area that needs extra attention. The goal is to have the city looking its best for the 75th annual Dogwood Festival.

The city will accept heavier items that residents need to dispose of at the city warehouse from March 5 to 16. Although hazardous waste such as chemicals, tires and batteries can't be accepted, this will be an opportunity to dispose of items that don't fit in the trash can, City Administrator Mandy Risinger said.

Council members also approved a request from Sam Haney to block off a portion of Village Street adjacent to Emporium for the Arts on March 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tents will be placed in the area to allow artists space to demonstrate and sell their work during the Festival of the Arts.

City officials have also been meeting with representatives who are considering locating a packing house south of Woodville.

"They asked the city to take their sewerage, which would be trucked to the wastewater plant," Risinger said. "We proposed a couple of other sites nearer the city that have utilities available. They are looking at those."

The investors are considering opening a packing plant because there are not many beef packing plants left in Texas, they told Risinger.
An internet search revealed two packing operations in East Texas that primarily process wild game.

Current city projects
Risinger announced the new industrial park water well is now online. The Pine Street water well has a few minor items on a punch list that need to be completed as of Tuesday.

The city has submitted all records for public assistance projects in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The roof damage at city hall has been repaired under the terms of the warranty given when the roof was installed.

"The interior damage doesn't meet the threshold for a public assistance project," Risinger said. She will work with a contractor to repair drywall and other damage.

Employee recognition
Public Works Director Charles Maclin will retire at the end of February after 20 years of service with the City of Woodville. He worked with the City of Diboll prior to Woodville. Risinger said Charles Odom will be promoted to the position after Maclin's retirement.

The next city council meeting will be March 12. City hall will be closed Feb. 19 for President's Day.

Woodville man jailed for Fred burglary

By Valerie Reddell
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Brian HensarlingBrian HensarlingTyler County deputies responded to a call from a Fred resident at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, reporting a suspicious vehicle near a residence.

The caller reporting seeing a black Ford Mustang parked near a fence that bordered property owned by his brother-in-law. When deputies arrived at the location, several witnesses said they heard someone running from the home into a nearby wooded area. Those witnesses also said the homeowner was out of town.
Deputies found that the door had been forced open as well as other evidence a burglary had occurred.

At about 8:45 p.m. deputies saw a white male exit the woods near the black Mustang. They identified the man as Brian Hensarling, 37, of Woodville.
Hensarling was sweating and out of breath. Deputies saw dirt all over his jeans, and small twigs were around the neck and collar area of his shirt.
Investigators then were able to match Hensarling's shoe prints with footprints found at the scene of the break-in.

Hensarling was taken to the Tyler County jail and charged with burglary of a habitation. He remains in custody in lieu of a $15,000 bond set by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

Tribe suffers setback on gaming issue

By Greg Peak and Valerie Reddell
Polk County Publishing Company

BEAUMONT — Although a trial dealing with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas's gaming operation is still set for Feb. 28, the tribe suffered a major setback Feb. 8 when the federal magistrate in Beaumont sided with the state on which law will apply.

The issue addressed Tuesday as part of the pretrial procedures was whether the Indian Restoration Act of 1987 or the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 would apply during the trial. The two federal measures conflict in that the Indian Restoration Act — which created the Alabama-Coushatta federal reservation — prohibits gaming while the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows it.

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) appeared before Congress on Feb. 9, representing several other members to file HR 4985, a bill that puts the Alabama-Coushatta and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo tribes on equal standing with other Native American tribes who operate Class II gaming businesses.
The bill would make the two Texas tribes subject to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. et seq), and legalizes the electronic bingo games played at Naskila Entertainment Center.

"I was surprised by the ruling last week against the Alabama-Coushatta tribe and their ability to continue operating their Naskila Gaming Center," Babin said Tuesday. "This decision has put hundreds of jobs in jeopardy. I have introduced legislation, along with several other Members of Congress, to resolve the issue created by conflicting statutes and provide full relief for the Alabama-Coushatta tribe so that they can continue their operations. This is a fairness issue as this bill would ensure the Alabama-Coushatta tribe receives the same treatment that the federal government extends to other tribes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. I will continue working with the tribe to address this issue and am hopeful that Congress will soon take action on this legislation."

As to whether this bill can make its way to President Donald Trump's desk before Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton takes action to close Naskila, only time will tell.
Judge Keith F. Giblin is hearing the state's challenge to the Native American tribe's legal right to operate under the Class II gaming license issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).

Calling it an "unjust" situation, Giblin ruled that the Indian Restoration Act requires the tribe to obey state law on gaming issues and supersedes the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Because of this, the court could not defer to the NIGC's 2015 decision to authorize a Class II gaming license to the tribe.

Based on the NIGC's decision, the Tribe opened the Naskila Entertainment Center on the reservation in 2016. The Class II NIGC license authorized the Tribes to operate bingo or electronic bingo machines, such as the ones now in use at the Naskila facility.

While Tuesday's order does not immediately impact the operation of the Naskila gaming facility located near Livingston, tribal leaders have already filed a notice of appeal and are asking that Giblin's order be placed on hold until the matter can be taken to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a process that can take a year or more.

"We are very disappointed with the ruling issued by the U.S. Federal District Court today," Tribal Council Chairperson Jo Ann Battise said last week. "The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe remains confident in its legal position and has already filed a notice of appeal. The Tribe has also filed a motion with the court requesting the ability to stay open pending the appeal process in order to protect the 330 jobs that the Tribe provides as the third largest employer in Polk County.

"These jobs represent an annual payroll and benefits of almost $17 million, they significantly contribute to the economies of Polk and Tyler Counties, and are vital to the greater Deep East Texas economy," she added.

"The conflicting regulatory scheme is unjust," Battise said. "We will continue to fight this injustice by working closely with our elected officials."
In his 26-page order issued Tuesday, Giblin almost apologized to the Tribe for the decision.

"Given the complex history of this matter and its importance to the Tribe, the undersigned must take the time to express the court's understanding and sympathy for the Tribe's position," Giblin wrote. "The Tribe is bearing the brunt of a conflicting statutory scheme, the result of which is arguably undesirable to its interests and, many would say, unjust.

"Counsel for both sides have done a thorough and excellent job in advocating for their clients and presenting the best case possible, especially given the context and the complicated historical, legal, social and economic issues at stake. The fact remains, however, that the Tribe submitted itself to the gaming laws of the state when it certified Tribal Resolution No. T.C. -86-07 in exchange for passage of the Restoration Act.

"This may have indeed taken effect under duress, but that issue is not up for consideration by this court 30 years after the fact. The plain language of the Restoration Act stands, as does the Fifth Circuit's undisturbed interpretation of the application of that act to the restoration tribes of Texas.

"Until Congress can be persuaded to amend or repeal the Restoration Act, the court is obligated to abide by the plain language of the statute and the Tribe must conform to the gaming laws and regulations of Texas as provided by the Restoration Act," he added.

Ivanhoe calls for bond election

By Valerie Reddell
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Ivanhoe City Council will seek voter approval on May 5 of a $2 million bond package to fund street rehabilitation and improvements within the City of Ivanhoe, following action at the February council meeting held Feb. 8.

City Secretary C.D. Woodrome said 7.5 miles of the main city streets will be targeted, focusing on the areas that lead into the city and to the lakes.
"All our other streets branch off of those," Woodrome said.

If approved, the bond issue will generate $1.7 million to $2 million of funds that the city hopes to use to leverage its application for grant funding in the next round of disaster recovery projects in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Ivanhoe has retained bond counselor Lance Fox and Jim Gilley of U.S. Capital Advisors to provide the needed professional services related to issuing the bonds.

The city will conduct the election using equipment rented from County Clerk Donece Gregory, as well as her advice on conducting the election.

"This is a huge step forward for us," Mayor Cathy Bennett said after the council voted unanimously to call for the election. "We will have multiple town hall meetings. We want everyone to understand what we are attempting to do."

Bennett further urged those attending the council meeting Thursday to talk to their neighbors and encourage everyone in Ivanhoe to come and listen to those town hall sessions.

Audit Report
An unmodified report Davis, Heinemann & Company who presented the independent auditor report on the city's financial records for 2017 should help the city clear the necessary hurdles to issuing the bonds.

The auditor told council members that city finances outperformed the budget forecast.

The budget for the 2017 fiscal year projected a deficit, using cash reserves to balance the budget, but revenue exceeded expenses by $60,000 for the year.

The auditors recommended that the city begin to draft a succession plan for how financial matters and operations would be passed on to another staff person who would eventually try to fill Woodrome's shoes.

She also recommended that the council review security measures, ensuring that financial records are locked in a secure place and the passwords that protect access to those records.

Bennett introduced David Marshall as the city's new volunteer Director of Public Works. Marshall has many years' experience with the Texas Department of Transportation and as an instructor with Amarillo Junior Collect and the Texas Engineering Extension Service.

Marshall has been in the position for about two weeks.

"Now I realize what I stepped off in," Marshall said with a chuckle. "We have massive problems, and help is on the way. But it took a long time for the roads to get this way, and it will take a long time to fix."

Marshall told the council that would be using a different material and techniques so that the repairs will last long, and those patches will "ride smoother."

Marshall is working on a master plan that will be used to prioritize work as well as direct future projects funded by the proposed bond and any disaster recovery grants the city can obtain.

That new material was set to be delivered Feb. 9. Marshall anticipated that crews would work on the 148 sites identified by FEMA in 2015 as weather permits.

"In the spring we will do our durndest to catch up before we have another disaster," Marshall said, which drew groans from Woodrome and several others in the audience.

"Drainage is the first thing on the agenda," Marshall continued. "If we don't have the drainage correct, the roads won't hold up to the hydraulic action of that water."

Law Enforcement
City Marshal Terry Riley reported that the call volume went down 10 calls or so during the last month. No burglaries were reported.

Municipal Judge Judith Haney reported that 10 or 11 citations were issued in January. Those citations chiefly dealt with vehicle registration issues, no driver's license or not changing address and equipment problems.

The court held show cause hearings and capias warrants were issued in cases where people never came forward and took care of their violations.

"From 1965 to 2005, court costs have gone up 1760%," Haney said. "It's still limited on what judges could do and how we could get that money in, but we have a little more clout."

The Ivanhoe Municipal Court will have pretrial hearings on Friday, Feb. 16. Haney said that if any violators do not "see the light" after meeting with City Attorney Brad Elrod, those cases can proceed immediately to a bench trial, or set a date to hear the case before a jury.

Clean up set
City officials are finalizing plans for a citywide cleanup that will provide an opportunity for residents to dump appliances and other large items for free. Details will be announced soon.

Residents who would like to donate items for the huge annual garage sale can drop off items on March 19.

New Staff members
Office Assistant Malissie Taylor and Colby Kipp have joined the city staff as part of the Workforce Commission's Dislocated Worker Program, Woodrome announced. TWC pays their salary expenses for one year.

Acadian Ambulance purchases Dogwood EMS

By Valerie Reddell
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Tyler County residents will join those in 70 other Texas counties and Louisiana parishes who are served by Acadian Ambulance following the purchase of Dogwood EMS — a transition that will be finalized at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 20, according to Brandon Hebert, Acadian's Director of Operations.

Acadian made the announcement of the purchase to employees and the community on Feb. 5. They began orientation for current Dogwood EMS employees who want to make the transition to Acadian on Friday, Feb. 9.

That session was part of a five-day orientation that's underway here in Woodville for Dogwood employees who will continue to serve in Tyler County after the transition.

Acadian Ambulances are currently stationed in Tyler County, in addition to the two Dogwood EMS units, to ensure there are no gaps in coverage, Hebert said.
The crews will continue to use the station at 109 Live Oak Street in Woodville.

Once Acadian begins handling EMS calls through its communications center, Hebert says Tyler County residents will see more rapid response when patients need to be transported quickly to a medical center offered advanced cardiovascular or trauma care by AirMed aircraft.

"We have a helicopter in Silsbee that will be available," Hebert said. "We will also use the aircraft in Lufkin and Beaumont if that is necessary."
Acadian has protocols in place that will autolaunch the aircraft when dispatchers are able to determine that the air unit will be needed, and weather conditions allow air transport.

"We may be able to screen (the patient) to get the aircraft up sooner," Hebert said.

While Hebert couldn't be specific about which Dogwood EMS employees will go to work for Acadian during an interview on Feb. 9, he said "several key people" are participating in the orientation.

"We will have people that know the area and are experts in the community," Hebert said. "All the football games, rodeo and other event coverage that the community has come to expect from Dogwood EMS will continue."

Additionally, during periods of high demand or incidents with multiple patients, Acadian can call on a "near endless depth of resources" from surrounding counties to help meet patient needs.

"It's our plan that we will be able to provide a good service to the county," Hebert said.

While county officials did not play any role in the transaction between two privately held businesses, County Judge Jacques Blanchette said he appreciates the company's interest in Tyler County.

"We look forward to an ongoing, continual, successful relationship with the familiar faces at Dogwood who will transition to Acadian."
Dogwood EMS has been the sole provider of ambulance services dispatched through the Tyler County's 911 operations center since 2005.

Chamber presents lifetime achievement award to John and Mary Stagg

Lifetime Achievement Award — John and Mary Stagg, full time Red Cross Volunteers, have come to the aid of communities impacted by disaster all over the United States.  (Jim Powers/Tyler County Booster)Lifetime Achievement Award — John and Mary Stagg, full time Red Cross Volunteers, have come to the aid of communities impacted by disaster all over the United States. (Jim Powers/Tyler County Booster)

By Valerie Reddell
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The Tyler County Chamber of Commerce held its 71st annual banquet at the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation on Feb. 2, in the gym beautifully decorated with candlelight and dogwood blossoms.

Participants enjoyed a delicious meal catered by The Tree restaurant and honored volunteers and businesses who make Tyler County a wonderful place to call home.

John and Mary Stagg were honored with the chamber's lifetime achievement award for their dedicated service as full-time volunteers for the Red Cross.

In April 2008, John Staggs began volunteering with the Red Cross — just a few months before Hurricane Ike devastated East Texas. Since that time, the Staggs have deployed at least 20 times to families affected by disasters.

Deployments typically take them award from home for 14 days, but many times, John has spent a more or more in a disaster area.

When tornados struck Tuscaloosa, Ala. he spent seven weeks helping provide relief. He spent five weeks in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy.

In 2013, Staggs was named the lead volunteer for Tyler, Jasper and Newton counties. In the summer of 2017, another volunteer took charge of Newton and Jasper counties, but the Staggs continue to lead relief efforts in Tyler County.

The role of the Red Cross is to provide immediate emergency services following fires or other disaster that can impact one family, or the county and much of the state.
The Red Cross provides, on average, more than $18,000 a year in assistance.

John grew up on a large farm in Central Louisiana. He met his wife, the former Mary Annette Swindle, who was raised in Doucette and graduated from Kirby High School in Woodville.

Mary Stagg taught school for 35 years and has been an active volunteer. She served as a Sunday School teacher as well as a leader for Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts. As a Red Cross volunteer, she is active in shelter operations and client casework.

John's career included operating a construction business, teaching high school and college, beekeeping and manufacturing specialty wood products.