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 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.

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."

Woodville Council hears report on water well

The city of Woodville held its monthly city meeting at 6 p.m. on September 8 in the city offices.

Council accepted the previous minutes and the monthly financial statement, as well as revieweing and approving the budget, which all members were in favor of.

Council also approved ordinance number 20140908, that will levy the tax rate for the city of Woodville for the fiscal year of 2014. The board reported that tax payers will not experience any tax increases with this rate.

Woodville City Administrator Risinger reported that city offices would be closed October 14 for Columbus day, and that the monthly meeting would be moved the October 15, which is a Tuesday. Risinger also reported that the work with Grant 1122 is complete. The city was able to replace an additional sewer line on Pine Street and most of that line has been completed, she said. The city is also awaiting approval to drill water plants near Pine Street from TCEQ, and engineers will begin working on bid packets for that project to be presented at the October meeting.

Risinger told Council that several cleanup letters were sent to dilapidated homes and buildings in the city. According to Risinger, the city has an ordinance against junked cars, tall grass, and general dilapidated and old buildings. The cleanup letters are handed out on a complaint basis each month.

Risinger also reported on the recent water well issues. The broken pump that caused Woodville to have an emergency water shortage in the month of September was able to receive a temporary pump and pipe and the first phase of repair is underway. The broken pump owned by the city is being sent to Houston for evaluation. After that evaluation is completed, the city will know if they can repair and use the existing pump or will need to purchase a new pump, and cost estimates are not available for the project at that time.

Risinger said that restrictions on city water have been temporarily lifted for non-essential water use. The restriction is lifted for 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. only and houses with odd numbered addresses can use water on odd days and even number houses can use water on even days.

Judge Haney also made a report to the board, and said that municipal court had 197 citations, 23 class C warrants and 49 Capias issued during the month of August. The Tyler County Justice center also had 47 instanter class C's, 10 A and B misdemeanors', and 10 felonies. A total of $21,110 was deposited from payment of fines and citation.

Police Chief Yosko addressed the council and reported that the department had one of the smoothest transitions from summer to the school year in 15 years and that the number of motorist parking incorrectly or blocking drives were kept to a minimum.

Yosko also reported that one police car experienced an engine problem, but the repair was able to be covered at a very low cost under the 100,000 mile vehicle warranty.

Fire Chief Tommy Shane reported that August was a good month for the fire department, and that there were no house fires, one grass fire that used 4,550 gallons of water, and five miscellaneous calls.

The next council meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at the city offices.