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Tyler County News - Breakout

Chester receives ‘superior’ FIRST score

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Chester ISD logo template 300By Chuck Davidson

CHESTER – The Chester ISD Board of Trustees President Ray McKnight called the regular meeting of the board to order on Monday evening, with five of the seven members and three district employees present. 

The district’s business manger Austin Odom presented his report on expenditures and revenue, highlighting the online auction sale of an old bus.  Also reported was the annual 2021-22 FIRST report on financial integrity giving Chester a superior score.

The FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) is an accountability rating system conducted by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in order to gauge the financial management quality of school districts.

Chester ISD Superintendent Paul Drake stated that enrollment remains good (at 218) and attendance is still above 96%, and athletics and students seem to be 

doing well.  He did mention that they were able to purchase via an online auction a commercial washer/dryer which will speed up the cleaning of football uniforms for example.  He then reviewed the district’s weather day procedures (alerts to staff and parents, use of social media, etc.).  The board approved without discussion the consent agenda:  minutes of past meetings and payment of bills, bank statements, etc. 

Two action items related to the county 4 H program were approved, one allowing for up to 10 excused absences and the other granting the extension agent of the county to be a non-paid adjunct faculty member.

The board went into executive session at 6:22 and returned at 6:52 after which they approved the sale of 1.5 acres recommended by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson.  The next regular meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 17.

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Ivanhoe mayor schedules town hall meeting

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By Chris Edwards
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IVANHOE – In the regular monthly meeting of the Ivanhoe City Council last Thursday, Mayor Cathy Bennett recognized National Teachers Day before the council tackled the regular agenda.

Bennett read a proclamation for the city to honor the teachers of Woodville ISD and Warren ISD, both of which service the City of Ivanhoe on Oct. 5.

She encouraged members of the community to display a light blue ribbon outside of their homes during that week to show support for educators.

On the regular agenda, Bennett began with her report and said “A lot has been going on in Ivanhoe in the last few weeks.” She spoke to tensions within the community and addressed rumors and false information circulating primarily on social media platforms.

Many comments from several public forum speakers during a previous special-called meeting, dealt with the city’s ordinance on recreational vehicles on city thoroughfares. 

Bennett said it is apparent the council needs to take a serious look at the city’s ordinances and get input regarding various issues. She called for a town hall meeting to take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The agenda, she said, will include the topics of recreational vehicles; home-based businesses and air B&Bs, and encouraged any residents who have other topics to include, to let her know.

“If we get together as a community, we can talk about things, we can ask questions and clarify stuff,” Bennett said.

Later in the meeting, councilmember David Herrington addressed some of the misinformation circulating regarding RVs in the city. 

“If anybody tells anybody that somebody is coming after you, or it’s someone’s intention to get rid of RVs altogether in Ivanhoe, it’s just hogwash,” he said. “RVs have always been a part of this community,” he added. 

In other news, Bennett reported that she had met with the city’s GLO representative for the city’s $11.4 million and $8 million grants.

She said there are documents that she and Marion Blackstone are working to get to the state Historical Commission in order for environmental studies to be conducted for projects.

Bennett said the representative is “very pleased” with the work that the grant administrator and engineers are doing for the city.

Another grant of more than $1.9 million through DETCOG is in the works and will be utilized to repair and re-pave as much of Lakewood as possible, Bennett said.

Budget, tax rate hearings set

The hearings were set for the date of Wednesday, Sept. 28 for the city’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget and tax rate.

The hearing for the budget was set for 5:30 p.m. on that date and the tax rate hearing for 6 p.m. A special meeting was also set to adopt the FY 2023 budget and tax rate on the same date for 6:30 p.m.

The proposed tax rate for the city’s coming fiscal year is $0.7550 per $100 of valuation. The current fiscal year budget is operating off the 2022 rate which is $0.7281 of valuation, or the no-new-revenue tax rate. 

The proposed rate is an increase over the no-new-revenue rate, but not greater than the voter-approved rate of $0.7567, which would not require an election for voters to accept or reject the rate. 

The rate was unanimously approved by council.

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WISD suit hearing held

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WoodvilleISD graphicBy Chris Edwards
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AUSTIN – Last Thursday, a hearing took place in the ongoing trial involving a suit brought against Woodville ISD.

The plaintiffs in the suit are Woodville resident Charles Rawls and the office of Ken Paxton, and the trial is taking place in the 250th District Court of Travis County before Judge Karin Crump.

In Thursday’s hearing, which was conducted remotely via Zoom and livestreamed over the district court’s YouTube channel, various witnesses were called for both sides of the argument.

At the heart of the matter is Rawls’ claim that voters within the WISD balloting area were given incorrect ballots for the May 7 special election. The outcome of the election was that the $47.8 million bond passed by a slim 51.2% majority. When canvassed at the regular May meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees, the tally was 621 voting “for” and 592 “against.”

The suit was dismissed in July in Tyler County’s district court before visiting judge Robert Trapp before it was appealed to the 250th District Court.

The bond covers a district-wide series of improvements, including the construction of a new elementary school campus.

One of the witnesses called during the hearing was Von Gallagher, who works as chairman for Gallagher Construction Services, which is the approved firm to handle the construction of the new elementary school facility.

Gallagher said that the estimated cost to WISD per month amounted to $600K once the construction begins. He also answered a question about a design not being available for the building yet; that “it wouldn’t be prudent to it [the bond] possibly not passing.” 

Rawls, whose concerns that sparked the suit, is represented by Beaumont attorney Bruce Partain, who covered a variety of those concerns in Thursday’s hearing in examining witnesses.

Rawls, himself, spoke publicly in May at the regular meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees, following the election outcome. He spoke about the balloting concerns, but also of possible safety issues with the new elementary campus being located so close to the high school.

WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg has said that the new elementary campus would be located near the high school.

During that same meeting, Rawls and Woodville business owner Phil McClure also addressed allegations of voter intimidation, that certain businesses were encouraged to be boycotted by board members due to their owners not supporting the bond issue.

Sara Leon, who is representing WISD, said that she has asked Rawls to come to some agreement; that certain subpoenas were “issued for the purpose of harassment,” and is seeking an award of $1,500 for attorney fees.

Leon explained that her fee is $290 per hour, and although with the work of an associate attorney on the case, the fees have exceeded what is being asked, $1,500 was agreed upon as fees are lower in Tyler County.

Rawls is seeking, in his suit, to invalidate the election’s outcome. He obtained a list of those who voted, and maps from the county’s Appraisal District, which define the boundaries of the WISD political subdivision. In the brief, Rawls stated that he “has identified at least [30] votes in question,” not including 60-80 votes on private roads not shown on the maps.

One witness for the plaintiff, who was called in a previous hearing held on August 29, was David Gardner, a surveyor, who provided maps, which Leon alleged were “hard to read.”

Another issue spoken about at length during Thursday’s hearing dealt with the publication of the election notice. Partain asked why it was not published in the Polk County Enterprise, as there are 25 registered WISD voters in Polk County. A witness for the AG’s office, Lynn Saarinen, also said that the election order was not posted in the newspaper, thus not complying with statute.

Leon said WISD complied with all provisions except the publication of the election order in the Polk County Enterprise, but said it was published in the Beaumont Enterprise, “due to time constraints.”

“The AG is looking at the totality of the circumstance,” Saarinen said. “The totality of all these mistakes made would’ve resulted in a different outcome.”

Before adjourning, Crump said “I’ll try to get you a decision as quickly as possible.”

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Mayor Jones seeking re-election

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Paula CandidacyMy name is Paula Jones, and I am seeking re-election to the office of Mayor for the City of Woodville. I have been the Mayor for four years. I have been an Alderman for the city of Woodville in the past and served seven years in that Position. I currently serve on the voting board of DETCOG (Deep East Texas Council Of Government) and a committee member of its Solid Waste Division as well as serving as Vice President of the TML (Texas Municipal League)Region 16.  The city of Woodville, has seen a lot of changes in our city, County and State Government over the past two years due to COVID-19. We are still being presented with lingering affects of the pandemic with supply shortages, availability of workers and the time frame in which projects can be done due to these factors. This has presented challenges for not just the City of Woodville, but our State and America as a whole. We were Blessed that our City workers have done their utmost to serve our community through all that this Pandemic has thrown our way and will continue to do so to the best of our abilities. 

A brief history of my past and present in Government. When I first joined the Council was in 2006 just after Hurricane Rita. In those seven years, that I served previously on our City Council we were hit once again by a hurricane, Hurricane Ike. I worked closely with Congressman Brady to get the much-needed generators to get our Walmart back up and running so that we could serve our community, due in part to Bentonville, Ar. receiving the wrong information as to our actual situation.  Having served on the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce and serving on our City Council, gave me the working experience that allowed me to be able to coordinate with Congressman Brady and the heads of the Emergency Management Offices at Walmart Inc. to get the generators to Woodville. I served as the 2008 Tyler County Chamber of Commerce President and in my duties as both an Alderman and Chamber of Commerce President, I had the opportunity to see growth and along with fellow Aldermen, made tough decisions when it was necessary to keep our city going in the right direction.  Once again in 2020 we were faced with Hurricane Laura, but God spared us the full brunt of this Hurricane. With my past experiences, I had the confidence in talking with our local and District Manager as to when it would be safe to open Walmart to serve our community. 

It takes a while to get Government Grants that can help restore and improve our city infrastructure, as we look to the future.  As your Mayor I want to continue on with these projects that have been allocated funds from different grants to better serve our community. As your Mayor, I want to continue working alongside our City, County, School and Hospital Officials to ensure that we do everything to the best of our God given ability to serve and protect our citizens. 

Just a little about myself for those who do not know me. I was born and raised in Woodville, graduated from Woodville High School class of 1990. My father, the late Carl (Rooster) Jones, worked for the Woodville Inn and the Wood Fain movie theater. My mother, the late Gloria Jones, also worked at the Woodville Inn, taught piano lessons, and played for numerous churches in the area. They both instilled in me a determination to succeed in all that I do and to help my fellow man. In the past, I have worked for the late Connie Clark as a florist also at Brookshire Bro. in several capacities. I am currently employed with Walmart, with 17 years of service working in various roles throughout our store. 

I TRULY LOVE MY TOWN and its Citizens, and as your Mayor, I want to continue helping in its continuous growth.  I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Early voting starts October 24, 2022 through November 4, 2022. 

If you are new to the area and have not registered to vote, the deadline is October 11, 2022 for the November 8, 2022 Election. You may contact our County Clerks Office at (409)283-2281. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00am-4:30pm for more information. 

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Fundraiser set to help veterans

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TCNS staff

TRINITY — Trinity County Veterans Wall of Honor Society is hosting the 15th annual Tailgate Benefit and Fundraiser from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at Scheelbillies Saloon, 5665 FM 356.

There will be a raffle, a live auction and food plates consisting of pulled pork or fried catfish plates for $10.

Raffle tickets are $1 or 6 for $5, and prizes include: 

•First prize: Mossberg Model 930 “Ducks Unlimited” semi-automatic shotgun 

•Second prize: Taurus G3C 9 mm pistol and 100 rounds of ammo 

•Third prize: Blackstone 1565 36-inch outdoor propane griddle

•Fourth prize: Yeti soft-side cooler 

•Fifth prize: Complete package of “Lucky 3” Texas Lotto scratchers (donated by B&C Lawn Care, Tooter, and Bill and Nancy Brown) 

•Sixth prize: $250 Brookshire Brothers gift card (Donated by Brookshire Brothers) 

•Seventh prize: $400 cash (donated by Tom McCrory in memory of Harold Fenn and Ray St. Clair) 

Eighth-10th prizes: $200 cash each (donated by Kathy Nowicki, Brenda St. Clair, Tom McCrory and Virginia Johnson in honor and memory of long-time members Denny Nowicki, Ray St. Clair, Sonny Johnson and Dwight Harrison)

11th prize: $100 Harbor Freight gift card 

Trinity County Veterans Wall of Honor Society is a Texas non-profit organization that helps Trinity County Veterans, active-duty personnel and their families.

The group has constructed wheelchair ramps for residences, provided and installed air conditioning/heating units, provided and installed hot water heaters, retrofitted bathroom facilities to accommodate the handicapped and elderly, repaired leaky roofs, and helped offset the fuel costs associated with travel to VA facilities for health issues and treatments.

These things are done solely through contributions of individuals and corporations. We conduct an annual fund-raising campaign consisting of a raffle and auction held the last Saturday of October.

For information, donate an auction or raffle item, to make a contribution, or to alert us to an area Veteran that may need assistance, contact Tom McCrory, President, at (936) 577-8689; Bill Reeves, Treasurer, at (936) 661-7107; or Randy Barclay, Secretary, at (936) 594-8141.

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