By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – Dallas Barrington, a Kountze-based attorney, spoke before the Woodville City Council at its Monday, March 11 meeting and asked city leaders for help on a matter that many.
Barrington, who works with the law firm of Roebuck, Thomas, Roebuck and Adams, is serving as legal counsel for the group Concerned Citizens of Tyler County. The group is opposed to the construction of a slaughterhouse that is to be located north of Woodville near the community of Doucette.
The facility, which was proposed in 2018 by East Texas Packing, LLC, has been the subject of debate and concern among Tyler County residents, some of whom allege that the company, as well as the City of Woodville, have not been transparent concerning its construction and with environmental issues surrounding it.
Barrington, whose presentation was on the meeting’s agenda as an informative item, asked the city leaders to reconsider a service agreement that was approved for East Texas Packing last June.
Barrington cited the fact that the agreement was entered into with the cooperation of city councilmembers and a mayor who are no longer serving.
Barrington referred to the facility as “an industrial packing plant very similar to what you would read about in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.”
The service agreement, according to Barrington, was signed on Sept. 26, 2018 without an environmental impact study or investigation into the origin of the animals brought to the slaughterhouse. Furthermore, Barrington claimed that East Texas Packing, LLC is a non-existent entity.
A records search with the Secretary of State’s office shows a business registered under the name East Texas Packing Co., LLC, as of August 24, 2017, with a registered office street address in Woodville.
“These things need to be studied and given due care because it’s going to impact your people,” he said. Barrington urged the council to take the information he presented and create an agenda item in the future to allow for scrutiny of the agreement.
City Administrator Mandy Risinger said there has been some misunderstanding concerning the city’s agreement with East Texas Packing; that the city is nothing more than a utilities service provider to the site. “As a public utility, we don’t get to pick and choose our customers,” she said.
Risinger said that the city has no purview, ordinance-wise, on the property as it is outside the city limits. She said the relationship between the city and the company is strictly one of service provider to customer.
Updates on grants given
Risinger gave a couple of updates on grant monies awarded to the city during her monthly report.
She said the city is awaiting contracts from the Texas General Land Office for a $2 million grant it was awarded in February. That grant, which was from funds earmarked for disaster recovery from damages incurred through floods in 2016, will go toward streets and drainage projects.
Another grant award, in the amount of $293K, was awarded to the city through Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery funds and will be disbursed through the county.
During her report, Risinger also noted that Entergy Texas has begun the process of installing an automated metering system in the area. It will likely install these meters within the Woodville city limits in the summer, she said.
According to a press release from Entergy Texas, the deployment of the advanced metering system throughout its service area has a 2021 projected completion.
“The new technology will provide a great deal of value and a number of future benefits to customers, including improved outage detection, faster restoration response time” and more information to assist customers with decisions regarding energy use, the press release states.
Red Cross proclamation
Woodville Mayor Paula Jones presented a proclamation that marks March as “American Red Cross Month” in the city of Woodville. She urged citizens to support the organization and “its noble humanitarian mission.”
The proclamation was unanimously approved by council.