By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – The Woodville City Council approved the nomination and appointment of Herb Branch to fill a council vacancy at its meeting on Tuesday.
The position for alderman place 5 was opened when Byron Stowe resigned from the council last month. The term for the position ends in Nov. 2019.
Branch was one of three residents who volunteered to fill the position. Following an adjournment into executive session, councilmember Amy Bythewood motioned to nominate Branch for the seat on the council.
Bythewood said it has always been a policy of the city to not have an open seat so there are no problems meeting a quorum.
Councilmembers consulted with City Attorney Brad Elrod in closed session to discuss the eligibility of each applicant.
Prior to moving into executive session, a couple of Woodville residents voiced concern about the appointment and requested that council reconsider the nomination and appointment until after November’s election.
Sal Baldovinos, representing the Concerned Citizens of Tyler County, was the first to speak. “We feel that the right thing to do is to wait until after the election to make any new appointments,” Baldovinos said.
He said that with a new mayor and at least one new alderman taking office after the upcoming election, it would be in the best interest of any new city officials to be able to have their opinions heard concerning a nominee.
Baldovinos cited the controversy with East Texas Packing, LLC as a pertinent reason for the request. In June, council voted to pass a utility service agreement between the City of Woodville and the company. Despite an existing obligation to provide these services, the decision proved controversial with many Woodville residents.
Another resident, Barbara Smith, who is running for mayor of Woodville, spoke during the forum on the same topic. Smith voiced the same concerns as Baldovinos and also requested that the nomination and appointment be tabled until the election concludes.
“It’s only fair to all concerned that these newly elected members have input as to who that replacement would be,” she said.
“They’ll be the ones that have to work with the appointed member.”
Committee formed to negotiate interlocal agreement with TCSO
A committee was appointed and approved to review options for dispatch and jail service through an interlocal agreement between the city and the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office.
The agreement has been in place since 1999, according to City Administrator Mandy Risinger. It is renewed annually and recently Sheriff Bryan Weatherford approached the city to renegotiate.
The agreement currently costs $87,600 to the city and the proposed new amount is $143,970, according to Risinger.
The date to renew the agreement is Nov. 12. Councilmember Janice Weatherford recused herself from serving on the committee due to conflict of interest. She asked the same on behalf of Mayor Russ Nalley, who was absent from the meeting due to an accident.
The committee appointed consists of Risinger, Police Chief Scott Yosko and councilmembers Amy Bythewood and Joyce Wilson.
$2 million GLO grant application filed
Risinger said the city’s application for the 2017 flood grant was submitted to the Texas General Land Office. The grant amount is for $2 million with a $100K match. Risinger noted that the amount is a large one compared to the amount of grants that are usually awarded through DETCOG. “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.”
She said the projects proposed, if the grant is awarded, are for streets and drainage, primarily on MLK and Cardinal and possibly other areas, contingent on funding.