By Chris Edwards
– On Monday m WOODVILLEorning, the Tyler County Commissioners Court heard detailed comments from two residents associated with the Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve regarding allegedly dangerous dogs, which they allege were responsible for a man’s death.
According to Jim Willis, who lives in the Lake Hyatt community and serves as a volunteer and board member of the Watson Preserve, which is located on the east side of Lake Hyatt, “a number” of dogs appeared at a residence that adjoins the Watson property several years ago and have harassed and attacked numerous volunteer workers at the preserve, Willis said.
Willis said that he had made complaints to the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office but was told that nothing could be done of the situation until someone was bitten.
Willis said that on Feb. 10, Duane C. Osadchuk was found dead inside of the residence with the dogs. A copy of the autopsy report lists the cause of death as multiple sharp and blunt force injuries. Under the listing of injuries in the report, many lacerations and punctures are noted.
Pauline Singleton, who serves as president of the Watson Preserve board, also spoke, and said she has received calls from people stating they were at the preserve, and wished to walk the trails, but were afraid to leave their cars because of the dogs.
The Watson Preserve is comprised of about 10 acres, and features walking trails and is open to the public. Singleton told the officials on Monday morning that last year, in late March, a group of volunteers were working on the property and felt “menaced” by the dogs, who got out of their yard.
“We outnumbered the dogs and were able to persuade them to go home,” she said, and noted that at least six of those volunteers filed complaints with TCSO.
Singleton also referred to Osadchuk’s death. “This man died a terrible death,” she said.
“A lot of our visitors are older people, or families with children,” Singleton said. “I lose sleep worrying that a child might fall victim to these dogs.”
Singleton said she has been told that the owner of the dogs is a man named Robert Gryder.
“We will certainly check into something that we can do,” Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall said.
Health incentive approved
The county approved an initiative to help offset future health insurance premium increases for county employees and officials on Monday.
The “Healthy County Employee Incentive,” as it was labelled on Monday morning’s agenda, offers eight hours of sick leave and reimbursement of $12.59 for each employee who gets a wellness check-up by Oct. 7 at the Tyler County Hospital Family Clinic.
The amount of money is equal to one-half of the co-pay for the visit, and the money will come from funding received by the county from Texas Association of Counties as part of the Health County Program, which means no tax dollars will be spent toward to incentive.
County Treasurer Leann Monk gave a thank you to Tyler County Hospital and its CEO Sondra Williams, who was present. Pct. 1 Commissioner Joe Blacksher said the initiative will certainly help to lower the rate of the county’s insurance premiums going forward.
During Monday morning’s meeting, the Commissioners Court also approved the following items:
• County employees were recognized for years of service. These included: Gail Dowden, 20 years; Lucas Babin, five years; Kathy Harris, 25 years; Carol Powers, 15 years; Michelle Brunelle, 5 years and Renee Crews, 20 years.
• Two new members of the county’s Child Welfare Board were approved: Maegan Odom and Stephanie Voth.
• The 911 addressing clerk duties were reassigned from the County Clerk’s office to the office of the County Treasurer.
• Election contracts were approved between the County Clerk’s office and the entities of Chester; Colmesneil; Colmesneil ISD; Ivanhoe and Woodville, with an amended motion to include any other taxing entities that need to enter into election agreements with the county for the coming Nov. 7 election.