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WISD board discusses new year, proposed budget

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Representatives from Tyler County Farm Bureau were on hand at Monday night’s meeting to present Woodville ISD with a $500 donation to go to school supplies. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Representatives from Tyler County Farm Bureau were on hand at Monday night’s meeting to present Woodville ISD with a $500 donation to go to school supplies. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – The start of a fresh school year and planning the upcoming budget were among the topics discussed at the regular monthly meeting of the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees on Monday night.

Before giving her monthly report, district superintendent Lisa Meysembourg spoke about the WISD Strong Start program, an initiative the district adopted, Meysembourg said, out of necessity to apply for ESSR funding.

The Strong Start program rolls out a series of guidelines and recommendations set in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders and guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA.) Meysembourg said the guidelines set forth in WISD’s plan cover COVID prevention, mitigation and sanitation techniques. Currently, the state is under an executive order from Abbott prohibiting entities from enacting a mask mandate. Meysembourg said if individuals on WISD’s campuses want to wear masks or facial coverings, it will be encouraged. The jist, she said, was for those within the district (students, faculty, staff and administrators) to monitor their health, and to not come to school if they are sick. 

Another part of Monday’s meeting that addressed a change in educational structure dealt with the recently passed House Bill 4545. The bill requires Texas school districts to supply a minimum of 30 hours of accelerated instruction to students who did not pass the STAAR testing.

Curriculum Director Ashley Weatherford spoke on the topic, and how WISD is complying with the new law. Weatherford said WISD’s campuses have set up intensive remediation classes during the regular school hours, and are calling the classes “Eagle SOAR,” with the latter word an acronym meaning “Student Opportunity for Academic Readiness.”

Meysembourg reported that for the first two days of school, which began last week, the enrollment figures stand at 1,204 pupils, which is 130 more than last year’s starting numbers. She said the figure represents fewer students than the district counted at the end of the last school year, but she hopes the number will increase with students returning in the coming weeks.

WISD Business Manager Cody Jarrott echoed that optimism about returning students during his report. He presented the preliminary budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. “I firmly believe the students will come back,” Jarrott said. 

Based on attendance, Jarrott said the projected revenue for the next fiscal year is $13,748,000, from the state, as well as local M&O revenue. 

The proposed tax rate for WISD is $0.891 per $100 of valuation for WISD taxpayers, a decrease from the previous rate of $0.91664. Tax values are up by 12%, countywide, Jarrott said.

In other business, the WISD board also approved the following items during Monday night’s meeting:

  • The Student Code of Conduct was approved for the 2021-22 school year. The document reflects changes due to updates made during the legislative session, Meysembourg said.
  • An action to approve 10 days for employee leave, due to COVID diagnoses, was approved. The measure adds two days to the eight allowed by the state and existing local policy.
  • The price for adult lunches at WISD was raised to $4.25, an increase from the $4 price. This measure, Meysembourg said, is based on federal policy and reimbursements.
  • The purchase of a new bus, from Longhorn Bus Sales, to add to the district’s trip fleet for extracurricular travels, was approved. The bus is priced at $105,993.
  • Representatives from Tyler County’s Farm Bureau were on hand to present a $500 check to WISD to be used for supplies.
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Babin calls for Biden’s removal

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Rep. Brian BabinU.S. Rep. Brian BabinBy Chris Edwards
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 WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) called for President Joe Biden to be removed from office.

Babin released a statement following the events in Afghanistan on Thursday, when attacks in Kabul resulted in the deaths of more than 170 people, which included 13 U.S. servicemembers. An ISIS affiliate has reportedly claimed responsibility for the incident. Despite the attacks, the president has committed to continuing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Babin referred to Biden as “an unserious clown” in his statement and said that the president’s “harmless gaffes and blunders” have now given way to the deaths and injuries of servicemembers and “imperiled thousands of Americans and Afghan allies stuck in Kabul.”

The congressman, who represents Texas’s 36th congressional district called the situation in Kabul “a full-blown humanitarian crisis and hostage situation of historic proportions,” which he attributed to Biden’s actions.

“Biden has proven beyond any doubt that he’s not up to the job. He must resign, be removed under the 25th Amendment, or be impeached immediately,” Babin said.

The Constitutional amendment cited by Babin states that if a sitting president dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vice president will become president. In Babin’s statement, he expressed “serious concerns” for vice president Kamala Harris, should Biden be removed from office. 

The attacks which occurred at Kabul’s airport and at a nearby hotel, came as the United States and other countries have raced to evacuate people. Biden’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan is Aug. 31.

That looming deadline had been moved back from May 1 of this year, which was set during former president Donald Trump’s administration, following a deal struck between Trump and the Taliban, under which the U.S. would withdraw from the country in exchange for American troops not being targeted.

General Kenneth McKenzie, Jr., the Commander of U.S. Central Command, in a press conference on Thursday, said the evacuation has taken 104,000 people out of the country, including 5,000 Americans, yet about 1,000 Americans remain.

On the next morning after the attacks, both Biden and Harris received information by their national security team that another terror attack in Kabul is likely, according to the Associated Press. Also, “maximum force protection measures” are being undertaken at the Kabul airport. 

In a press conference held after the attacks, Biden delivered a message to those who carried out the attack and pledged that the evacuation efforts will continue. 

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said. He also held a moment of silence to honor the fallen servicemembers and called them “the best the country has to offer.”

Babin has cited Biden’s longevity in foreign policy matters as another reason for his call for removal. 

“After five decades of being wrong on every significant matter of American foreign policy, Joe Biden’s incompetence and terrible judgment have crossed our nation, and the world, to the point of no return,” he said.

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Daycare fire impacts Colmesneil

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Daycare Fire Damage 300Daycare Fire Damage 300By Emily Eddins

COLMESNEIL – With all the changes that Colmesneil ISD has implemented this year, some parents are feeling overwhelmed and confused. It is hard to find places they trust to watch their children while they are busy. 

Parents and local businesses have been trying to work together in order to establish a new normal. However, one Colmesneil business will no longer be able to assist in the care of these children due to a recent fire. 

On the early morning of Sunday, August 8, the Colmesneil Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call that would leave an impact on the community, indefinitely. 

The structure fire destroyed Little Bulldog Country, a local childcare service in the heart of Colmesneil. The business operated as a childcare center focused on helping small children develop social skills and early education all while parents were able to work and provide for their children. 

The once-thriving business has now shut its doors indefinitely with no plan of reopening. Its owner, Destiny Hallo, said “At this time we are at a loss as to what we want to do as far as the future. It is a total loss.”   

As the dust settles on the remains of the fire many lives have been impacted and will struggle to find normalcy again. 

Little Bulldog Country provided a safe and secure environment for children. It was intended on using educational programs for toddler aged children so they will be better prepared for school when they are of age. This year, school-aged children would also be able to attend Little Bulldog Country on Fridays in order to help parents adjust to the new four-day CISD calendar. 

Now both parents and the educators at Little Bulldog Country are struggling to find a solution to this newfound problem. These instructors are now left jobless, many with young children, and are forced to find a new place of employment in the midst of COVID-19. Colmesneil and its surrounding community will be impacted by the loss of this business. 

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Tyler County Commissioners set proposed tax rates

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CommCourtLogoBy Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County officials got down to business on Monday morning in a regular meeting to set proposed tax rates for the county.

The first proposed tax rate on the brief agenda for Monday’s meeting was to set the proposed rate for the county’s general fund. Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock recommended adopting a rate of $0.6492, which, he said, would cover the increases of retirement and longevity pay. That proposed rate would represent a 2% increase to the budget, according to Sturrock’s estimate, but a decrease to the current tax rate. 

County Judge Jacques Blanchette wanted to clarify what the officials were discussing and voting on in adopting the proposed tax rates.

“For clarification, it’s just putting it out there to let the public know what the thinking of the court is at this point; not that we’re setting it today,” Blanchette said. 

The proposed tax rate for the general fund was approved with a 3-1 vote with Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Blacksher voting in opposition.

Another tax rate the commissioners had before them for a proposed rate was that of the county’s farm-to-market flood control fund. Blanchette spoke about the item before it came before a vote. The fund falls under the county’s road and bridge fund and explained that the taxation was labelled specifically for an accurate, correct reflection. 

The commissioners voted to adopt a proposed rate of $0.2337 per $100 of valuation. This is the no new tax rate.

The proposed tax rate for the Tyler County Hospital District was also adopted, unanimously, at $0.2133, the no-new-revenue rate. The state’s no-new-revenue taxation rate allows a taxable entity to produce the same amount of tax revenues if applied to the same levied properties in both years.

A public hearing was set for the time and date of 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7 for the proposed tax rates for the county’s general fund and the farm-to-market flood control fund.

 Courthouse update

Sturrock gave the commissioners an update on the remediation work with the Tyler County Courthouse. Later in the day, he said, the architect working on the project, Dohn LaBiche would be showing the work done thus far to James Malanaphy, a project reviewer with Texas Historical Commission.

 Other Business

During Monday’s meeting, Tyler County Commissioners also voted to create a separate fund for the American Rescue Act Money.

Blacksher brought the items on the agenda before the court pertaining to the funding. Another item approved by the officials was to set a maximum amount allocated to Tyler County Hospital out of the first round of American Rescue Act funds. Earlier in the month, the commissioners voted to assist TCH with these funds to help acquire certain staffing, specifically with registered nurses, cardiopulmonary and X-Ray.

TCH CEO Sondra Williams spoke about the hospital’s needs regarding the grant funding. She said the amount needed by TCH for the necessary staff would be close to $600K. 

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VFW Post 6899 kicks off its fall scholarship programs

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VFW Logo CrossOfMalta vector 250Special to the News-Standard

TRINITY —Commander Dan Murphy of the VFW Post 6899 and Auxiliary announces the start of this year’s Veterans of Foreign Wars scholarship programs. 

One of the VFW objectives is to help the young people in Trinity County meet their educational goals. Students in our local area schools — Trinity, Groveton, Centerville, Apple Springs and home-schooled — students can compete in the “Voice of Democracy” and “Patriot’s Pen Essay” contests and win thousands of dollars. 

Scholarship money is awarded at four different levels: the local, district, state and national. 

  • The 2021-2022 theme is “How can I be a good American?” for the Patriot’s Pen Essay (Grades 6 – 8). The theme for the “Voice of Democracy” (Grades 9 – 12) is “America: Where do we go from here?” 

For the VOD, the students compete by writing and then recording a 3-5-minute audio/essay expressing their views of this year’s theme. 

Local, district, state and national scholarships are available, with the largest being $30,000. Locally, we award three scholarships of $300, $200 and $100. Deadline for students is Oct. 31. 

  • In the “Patriot’s Pen” essay contest, students in grades 6 through 8 compete by writing a 300-400-word essay on this year’s theme. 

Local, district, state and national scholarships are available – the largest being $5,000. Locally, we award scholarships $200, $150 and $100 awards. Deadline for students is Oct. 31. 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars scholarship programs are designed to encourage and recognize the leadership skills of our students in Trinity County and to provide them with financial support in their continuing educations studies. 

Details, forms and applications on all our scholarships can be found at VFW.ORG at website https://www.vfw.org/community/youth-and-education/youth-scholarships.

Also, students can contact their school counselor or VFW Post 6899 at 594-9467 for details and entry forms. 

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