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Tyler County News - Breakout

WISD receives vehicle donation

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By Chris Edwards
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Gideons International volunteer Walter Fink addresses the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees about returning to the district to distribute copies of the Bible.  CHRIS EDWARDS | TCBGideons International volunteer Walter Fink addresses the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees about returning to the district to distribute copies of the Bible. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCBWOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees voted at its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening to accept a donation of a vehicle from an anonymous donor.

WISD superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said that the district has been struggling with transportation needs for its 18+ transition program within its special education department. The program acts as a transitioning vehicle for students after graduating, for ages 18-26, to be able to transition from school into the workforce.

Meysembourg said the donor stepped forward, saying they believed in the program and wanted to help, and that the vehicle is safe and will be maintained by WISD personnel.

Gideons address trustees

During the public forum portion of Monday evening’s meeting, Walter Fink spoke on behalf of Gideons International.

Fink, along with fellow Gideon Steve Jones, was present, and opened his comments with a prayer, which thanked God for the presence of the Bible. The focus of Gideons International is to distribute free copies of the Bible to lodging rooms; hospitals; military bases; schools and other places.

The Gideons had distributed copies of the Bible to students at Woodville Intermediate in the past, but had been on hiatus since 2020, due to the pandemic.

Fink requested that the Gideons be allowed to distribute the Bible to fifth graders, but also to the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, who have missed out through the past few years.

Other Business

During Monday’s meeting, the WISD Board of Trustees also handled the following business:

• Trustees John David Risinger and Jimmy Tucker were sworn-in by WISD secretary Tammy Watts to begin serving out a new term. Both trustees, who serve in places 1 and 2, respectively, ran unopposed in this most recent election. In addition, the reorganizing of the board took place, with board members nominated and approved to serve in the executive capacities. Those board members were: Tucker, who will again serve as board president; John Wilson, who is serving another term as vice president and Josh McClure, who will again serve as secretary.

• During her regular report, Meysembourg said that WISD had submitted its enrollment numbers to UIL, with 364 students in the high school, a difference of one less than last year. UIL will determine in December if Woodville High School is a division 1 or 2 school within its conference, and realignment brackets will be published for football in February of next year.

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Event raises $15.5k for Child Welfare Board

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Tyler County Child Welfare Board directors, pictured left-to-right: Trisher Ford; Tina Self; Delores Wigley; Stephanie Smith; Melanie Calhoon; Maegan Pope; Stephanie Voth and Kathy Harris. Board members not present: Terry Allen; Paula Nash; Mike McCulley and Stevan Sturrock. COURTESY PHOTOTyler County Child Welfare Board directors, pictured left-to-right: Trisher Ford; Tina Self; Delores Wigley; Stephanie Smith; Melanie Calhoon; Maegan Pope; Stephanie Voth and Kathy Harris. Board members not present: Terry Allen; Paula Nash; Mike McCulley and Stevan Sturrock. COURTESY PHOTO

By Mollie LaSalle

WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Child Welfare Board (CWB) hosted its 15th Annual Holiday Tea and Purse Auction, Saturday, Nov. 11 at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church. There were a myriad of purses to bid on this year, both in the silent auction and live auctions.

Kathy Harris, with the CWB, warmly welcomed everyone, and being that it was Veterans Day, asked all veterans to stand and be recognized.

There were all kinds of  door prizes given out to lucky ticket holders, all donated by the community. The board wishes to thank the following businesses and individuals for their generous door prizes: Becky Tinsley w/Steel Magnolia, Paula Jones, the Stagecoach Inn, Pizza Hut, Woodville Drug, Terry Allen, Kathy Harris, Family Services of Southeast Texas, Everything U and Syd Callaway.

Auctioneer Jathan Borel took over and with help from some students from Colmesneil ISD, got the live auction started. While the students “modeled” the goods, Borel kept the paddles flying, and when the last purse was bid on, everyone started collecting their rewards. All in all, a good time was had by all in attendance, for a good cause.

The live and silent auctions netted a total of $15,569 this year, according to board member Tina Self. The money raised goes to support foster children in Tyler County as well as the “Adopt an Angel” program.

To inquire about where you can adopt an angel, you can call the juvenile probation office at 409-283-2503, or Tina Self at 409-283-3631.

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Fred Elementary students deliver

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Students in Sherri Alderman’s fifth-grade class at Fred Elementary. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCBStudents in Sherri Alderman’s fifth-grade class at Fred Elementary. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB

By Chris Edwards
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FRED – Students in Sherri Alderman’s fifth grade class at Fred Elementary have parlayed hard work and selflessness into an achievement that Alderman said could “put Fred Elementary on the map.”

The students in the class have utilized the instructional aide “Learning A-Z,” which is an interactive, computer-based series of programs that help learners with literacy skills.

Within Learning A-Z’s games, users not only learn the meaning of words, but the etymology of them.

Alderman, who is experienced with a variety of prorgrams to assist students toward mastering grade-level skills and TEKS assessments, said that Learning A-Z is “the only program I’ve found that keeps them engaged.”

Not only is the program fun for the students, and educational, it allows the users to collect “stars” as rewards, and they can either keep them and build a game with them, or they can choose to donate the stars back to a philantrophic organization, UNICEF, in order to be used to help provide clothing, shelter, water and school supplies to underprivileged children in communities, globally.

The Fred Elementary students using the program chose the approach of selflessness and service, and donated all of their stars. This feat, which Alderman said she had no role in encouraging, only to inform them of the option, resulted in the class donating the most stars from the program in the entire state of Texas, and won them a first-place designation from the program.

Fred Elementary students in the class will be featured in Learning A-Z’s blog, and will receive a prize from the company behind the platform, A Cambium Learning.

Alderman said she was proud of the students’ perserverance, hard work and values. All of the students reported that it made them feel good to be able to do some good in the world.

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Burn ban lifted; county receives audit

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BurnBan STOCK01By Chris Edwards
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TYLER COUNTY – On Monday, following a period of “beneficial rainfall” across Tyler County, Tyler County Judge Milton Powers lifted the countywide burn ban.

Powers said that the county’s emergency management officials had been examining rainfall on a day-to-day basis. The county had been under a burn ban since the Commissioners Court ratified one on Oct. 23, after Judge Powers issued it six days’ prior.

The ban was initially issued in the summer during a period of extreme drought conditions, and briefly lifted.

The last reinstatement of the ban came after some rainfall, but was issued due to continuing drought conditions and an increase in winds, as well as lowered humidity.

Powers said that all citizens who are burning need to exercise caution and take all necessary precautions while burning.

County receives audit

In other county business, during Monday morning’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court, the county received the results of its annual outside audit.

Darla Belt Dear, with Belt, Harris, Pecachek, LLLP, presented the overview of the audit.

Dear said that the county received an unmodified opinion, which is the highest level of assurance issued on a governmental entity audit. The opinion means that “no material misstatements were made and all disclosures have been made,” Dear said.

The total revenues for the county during the 2022 fiscal year were $10.1 million, and the county’s ledger showed $9.1 million in expenditures, with a net change just over $516k.

Dear pointed out that the ending fund balance of $6,976,676 was “nice and healthy,” and that the recommendation from auditors is for an entity to keep at least 25%, or three months’ worth of expenditures within their fund balances. Tyler County is sitting on 71% in its general fund balance, she said.

 

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Willis saga continues: Condemned motel for sale

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By Mollie LaSalle
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Owners of the Willis Motel have the property for sale. MOLLIE LASALLE | TCBOwners of the Willis Motel have the property for sale. MOLLIE LASALLE | TCBWOODVILLE – A special hearing on the status of the Willis Motel was held at 5:15 on Monday evening prior to the regular council meeting, which was moved to the Fire Station while remodeling work is being done on the city offices.

The meeting was conducted via Zoom, as the property owners were not present. City Attorney Brad Elrod spoke first, and was advised that the owners acquired the property back in their possession in foreclosure some months ago. The previous owners had been served notice by the city two years ago that the property was found to be a nuisance by order of the buildings and standards commission, and the situation had not been abated in a timely manner. The building was condemned by city council in August 2021.

Mayor Amy Bythewood asked the owners,” what is your plan, what is your timeline, and y’all are more than aware of what is going on and unfortunately the cost associated with it. In trying to make our community as safe as possible, we know you care about that as well, how we can move forward as quickly as possible in removing the structure”.

The owner advised that “we have reached out to potential buyers, and we are in conversation with one at the present time, so we are actively and diligently trying to move things forward”. The owners just recently posted a “For Sale by Owner” sign on the property. The owner also advised that they were simultaneously getting bids for demolition of the building.

Bythewood responded, “ the structure is not secure, it is open in multiple places, and very accessible to anyone or anything that might have an interest in being there. The city doesn’t have the ability or resources to secure it because its private property.” The owners replied that they have taken the steps to secure the property, and advised that they will be in town next week to insure that the building is secured and boarded up. They also advised that the potential buyer they are talking with would essentially be responsible for the demolition of the building.

Councilmember Lee Mann asked the owners specifically what they intend to do going forward, and wanted them to commit to a specific time frame for this to be resolved. “There needs to be a reasonable time frame for the potential buyer to respond with an offer to close the deal out; either find a possible buyer, someone showing up to buy, or start the demolition process, we can’t go on like this forever”, Mann said. In the end, after much back and forth with the property owners, council voted to re-evaluate the property status in 30 days, which will coincide with the next council meeting on Monday, Dec. 11. Council will hold another Zoom meeting at that time with the property owners to discuss any progress. The public hearing ended at 5:40 p.m.

The regular council meeting then began at 6 p.m., with all members present. Bythewood signed a proclamation officially declaring November as “Native American Heritage Month”.

The first item on the regular agenda was the canvassing and certification of election results for the Nov. 7 election. There will be a new council member, as Paula Jones ran for alderman seat # 3, and won, over the incumbent, Cliff Wright and one other challenger, Elizabeth Grammer. Jones had previously served as mayor, and as a councilmember in the past.

Bythewood next discussed appointing a new member to the eight member board of directors of the Tyler County Appraisal District. Mike Cabaniss was selected to fill this position, which is a two year term.

Chief of Police Mike McCulley introduced a new member of the police department to council. Daniel Johnson is a native of Tyler County, and graduated from Chester ISD. He had previously worked for the city of Corrigan’s police department. McCulley added, “ he is assigned to the school, he is our SRO for the High School and Jr. High School campuses. We’ve had him on board for about six to eight weeks. He is a fantastic asset to our department, and I know that the school has already given me accolades of what he’s done so far; I am very blessed to have him”.

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