At the beginning of the Colmesneil City Council meeting Tuesday evening, Nov. 12, Mayor Don Baird opened with a request for citizen comments, and regular visitor Catherine Deason was quick to say, "The roads are looking good!" She was very thankful for the city's rebuilding of the road by her home.
Like so many other municipalities, Colmesneil adopted the Tyler County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Action Plan, empowering the county's Emergency Management Coordinator, Dale Freeman, to officially coordinate aid with the city in the event of an emergency or disaster. The council voted to allow the mayor and council members to be in a small way compensated for their service. After looking at the incorporated cities in Tyler County and beyond, and reflecting on how several of the members and the mayor have spent their own funds quite freely, they voted to be compensated for every council meeting $25 for each member and $50 for the mayor. By law, affecting no current member, the compensation will begin for each member and the mayor after the next election for each seat.
One member jokingly and tongue-in-cheek said, "Dad-gum, and I just got re-elected!" The first proposal for $50 and $100, respectively, was discussed with some hesitancy. They had also investigated how some municipalities offered free water and sewer for every meeting, but that would have been a slight bookkeeping nightmare when a member missed. The council was very conscientious of their service being out of loyalty more than for any compensation, and it appeared they were feeling a bit self-conscious for even talking about it. No one was there for the money, the compensation was truly small, and the rationale behind it would hardly pay for gas to and from the meetings, to say nothing of the cost in "time" for the members themselves.
City Secretary Carrie Edwards gave an overview of the 2013 finances and the 2014 budget, pointing how several increases and modifications, including a near doubling of the water and sewer account. With several adjustments for 2014, the city was in good shape, and the council passed her office report along with the financial and investment reports.
After plans for their annual Christmas dinner had been set, Mayor Baird took the motion to adjourn, and several visitors lingered for coffee in good spirits for the holidays to come.
Colmesneil ISD will ramp up repairs to Lake Tejas after hearing a lengthy report from camp managers Jason and Tracey Powell at the ISD board meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 19.
After convening by President Curtis Pittman and an invocation by Secretary Kenneth Adaway, the board immediately swore in returning and new members, including Pittman, Danny Brown, and Kenneth Graham, the three repeating the pledge from Robyn Bass.
Lake Tejas will be hosting the fourth annual Triathlon and Duathlon on Saturday, April 12, 2014 (LakeTejasTriathlon.com), but several repairs would be critical, reported the Powells. The piers, dam, and drainage and a host of other concerns captivated the board and motivated them to immediately look at setting aside $25,000 to move ahead.
Mrs. Powell also reported with great pride how their Life Guard Training Program is now nationally accredited, granting the student a certification qualifying them to work as anywhere in the U.S. for still-water rescue. Mr. Powell's attention to detail ran the gamut, indicating a studious attention to care for all aspects to the school's precious lake, from safety, handicap access, senior accommodations, campers, and his resourcing for repairs.
The board and Interim Superintendent Yvette Carlton looked at several ways to expedite camp repairs, thankful for the ever ready help from Commissioner Mike Marshal and the past help from the Gib Lewis Prison, looking to their aid in the future. Carlton helped the board with the status on several material acquisitions already underway for Lake Tejas (LakeTejas.net).
High School Principal Walter McAlpin used an interactive Power Point to present the results of several studies and projects. Proud that several of their 32 seniors had already decided on universities, with six looking at the military, he proceeded to summarize their proactive networking with several colleges to further challenge their students to look ahead after graduation. The students had raised $1,090 already for their trip to New York. Their agriculture shop renovation was under way and McAlpin requested help to install two overhead doors, so they could close in the shop.
The board also approved Marshal to serve another term on the Tyler County Appraisal Board, and approved Don Baird to serve on the Appraisal District Review Board.
Daniel Rainey presented the 53-page audit from Goff and Herington, noting Business Manager Gina May's scrupulous care, reporting "no findings on internal control or generally," reflecting that it was "very clean" audit.
The board approved Policy Update 98 from the Texas Association of School Boards, which included 14 pages of summary legislative changes which included what appeared to be over a 100 tweaks in policy and law, from sale of goods of minimal nutritional value to SB 939 that requires the posting in English and Spanish of the Dept. of Family and Protective Service's phone number and other guidelines on reporting child abuse. Weird – HB 1862 removed switchblades knives from the list of prohibited weapons in the Penal Code.
Importantly, HB 308 on "winter celebrations" outlined "when scenes or symbols may be displayed, and permits the exchange of traditional holiday greetings." It officially allows staff and students to offer "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah," and such, and even allows for a nativity display, but only if more than religion is displayed.
The board went into executive session to review the search for a school superintendent.
On Monday, Nov. 4, Councilman Vincent Incardona of the Chester City Council motioned for the city to adopt the Tyler County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2013-18, and it was passed unanimously with a full council present. The goals and actions of the plan seek to "reduce or eliminate long-term risk to the people and property" of the city from future hazards and disasters. In participating in the plan, it allows for Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Freeman to officially aid the city in coordinating help throughout the county.
Council voted to allow City Supervisor Dale Clamon to purchase a new SENSIT Gold G2 gas leak sensor from SENSIT Technologies (GasLeakSensors.com). It can sense up to four gases simultaneously, including the percentage of oxygen in the air, and sensitive enough to detect one-part per-million of carbon monoxide (0-2000 ppm), hydrogen sulfide (0-100 ppm), and hydrogen cyanide (0-30 ppm). Keeping citizens safe is priority one.
Council also approved calling five applicants for the part-time job to help City Secretary Annette Hickman and will be setting up interviews at their next council meeting.
Finally, council approved the previous minutes and the financial statements without conflict, thankful and in good spirits as the holiday season approaches.
The highlight of the November 18 Woodville ISD Board of Trustees' meeting was news of a partnership with Lamar Institute of Technology Careers Program, which will help Woodville students to identify their strengths, recognize opportunities and chart the paths to their ideal occupations. The potential long term value of the partnership may be difficult to overstate, considering its effects upon students' lifelong contributions to their chosen fields, personal and job satisfaction and overall success in life; advantages to businesses; and community impact.
On December 12, the Lamar Institute of Technology Careers Program will begin offering free certificate courses and career training to middle school and high school students. Parents and middle school students will want to be sure to attend the LIT Parent Career and High School Readiness Programs, also on December 12. Coach Ivey, who teaches the middle school career class, enthusiastically describes the December 12 LIT meetings as providing information on career futures, what to expect (including wage ranges), educational requirements and personal aptitude identification. During the second semester, he said, LIT professors will add to students' career planning tools. For example, eighth graders may earn certification on what jobs are available in southeast Texas, and "High School 101," to prepare them to make the most of high school. In his middle school career class, Coach Ivey provides information for parents and encourages them to talk with students about careers and planning for the future; and each student learns how to make plans, set goals, research careers and identify a career of choice.
In unanimous votes of confidence, the Board elected President Trey Allison, Vice President Jimmy Tucker and Secretary Brenda Maloy to continue in their roles for the coming year.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance Cody Jarrott presented the October financial reports, investment report and capital projects budget, each of which the Board voted to approve. Jarrott also confirmed that the anticipated QZAB funds were received November 13, enabling the District to move ahead with the Entegral energy efficiency and conservation projects.
The District received insurance proceeds to replace the damaged Highway 69 marquee sign; however, costs have increased significantly, and those monies will serve to offset the expense of the current digital model, now on order. While the invoice price is $43,000, a negotiated $13,000 discount lowered the District's price to just over $30,000.
Superintendent Glen Conner explained that the present wireless network provides about 33 access points, but heavier technology demands require around 123 to cover the need in all District-owned buildings. Upgrading the wireless network will benefit students (directly supporting the District's strategic goal "... to promote the use of technology in the classroom as a day-to-day instructional strategy"), in addition to Entergy's security controls and the HVAC system. Costs include $65,000 for the Cisco equipment and a one-time charge of almost $30,000 for licenses (and their future upgrades) to total $94,000. The Board deliberated and approved the upgrade to the District's wireless network.
The Board also considered the need to fill Randy Carter's position on the Appraisal Review Board of the Tyler County Appraisal District after two terms of service. Cathy Bennett was approved without opposition as the District's representative.
Superintendent Conner recommended Tyler County Extension Agents Doug Weir and Jennifer Page as adjunct staff members for student attendance purposes, and the Board approved both unopposed.
The Board approved exercising its 13 votes for candidate Calvin Jones of Corrigan ISD for the Polk County Central Appraisal District Board of Trustees.
Glen Conner's Superintendent's Report included the following: •Entegral began mobilizing to implement its TASB energy program in the District during the week of November 18. Replacing the Summit's HVAC chillers is the priority, and the equipment is ready for installation, according to Cody Jarrott. The timeline for all required projects should be complete on or about February 16, 2014. Because workers' on-campus presence near students is required, Conner emphasized that Entegral's code of conduct requires background checks on all its subcontractors. •Superintendent Conner will present an update for administrators on legislative changes in the Texas Education Code on December 10. •The November 8 auction grossed $110K for the District and returned 44 properties to the tax rolls, producing increased income for the District. John Cooley, intermediate school principal, said that the intermediate school's campus improvement team uncovered that parents want more knowledge about technology and grades information. He discussed solutions to parents' and students' math difficulties, including an afternoon math program for parents.
Principal Chuck Lowery recounted that Wheat Elementary hosted an activity-packed movie night Friday, November 15, at the Summit. Students chose "Hook" as the movie of the night, snacks were sold to benefit Relay for Life and the required annual explanation to parents of the Title One reduced lunch program and funds was presented. Students out-numbered the 55-60 parents who attended the event.
Woodville High School Principal Neil Hennigan cited pep rally attendance and enthusiasm as examples that student involvement is thriving. More than 500 students from 10 area schools attended the November 7 concert sponsored by the Spanish Department and Spanish Honor Society. Hennigan also commended 10th to 12th grade students who, as part of their career planning, completed the ASVAB test (the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, which measures acquired abilities, helping to predict military occupational success). Hennigan also proudly reported, "Our teachers are not settling for mediocrity, but continue to press themselves to improve their teaching skills" to assist students in excelling and actively participating.
Ivanhoe City Council held its monthly meeting Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. at the Emily Lane city hall. Tommy Morris, David Baier, Jim Gramillion, Rowland Priddy and Mayor Jack Brockhouse were present. Tom Welch was not present and could not be contacted.
After regular business, council named Tommy Morris as the official mayor pro-tem. The mayor pro-tem will act as the mayor if the elected mayor is not present, or will act as a provisional replacement until the elected mayor returns.
Supervisor of Dams Rusty Smith, also made his monthly Dam report. According to Smith, he contacted engineers on Sunday morning regarding heavy boils at the bottom of the Lake Camelot Dam. The boils indicate that there is a possibility of water going through slabs between the joints at the spillway. Smith said that the water level below the spillway may have to be controlled so no water undercuts the spill work. Smith reported that he would consult with an engineer before proceeding with any work.
"I would not advise doing anything until an engineer can be consulted." Smith said.
There were also four items on the list for APAC to repair at Camelot. A valve, emergency overflow area, barricade and a concrete box on the downstream side that the overflow comes out of are all up for repairs.
According to the October security report, there were 43 calls in Ivanhoe consisting of accidents, reckless driving and disturbances. Twenty-five calls required police action, including two suicides, five burglaries, one child abuse case, three animal complaints, four disturbances and one assault.
"Everything is really staying pretty well for a community this size. It's admirable for the residents here," said Ivanhoe Security Officer David.
Council also began the process of voting for two Planning and Zoning Commission terms ending in February 2014 and February 2016. John R. Craven received three votes and was ratified into the February 2014 term and Sharon McIntyre was voted into the February 2016 position.
The council went into executive session to discuss moving city council meetings back to the previous location on Charmaine, and after a discussion tabled the issue until insurance issues between the two locations are sorted out.
The next meeting will be on December 12 at 7 p.m. at city hall.