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Tyler County News - Breakout

Colmesneil council approves engineering contract

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CityofColmenseilBy Mollie LaSalle

COLMESNEIL – Colmesneil City Council held their regular meeting last Tuesday at 6 p.m. Mayor pro-tem Bubba Sheffield presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Duane Crews, and council proceeded to tackle all items on the agenda.

City Secretary Wendy Bendy advised council that there were two water/sewer accounts written off for 2022, one was a business that closed, the other was a homeowner who had recently died. She also advised that the city is going to open a dedicated account at Citizens Bank strictly for the CDBG funds which the city was recently approved for. The city currently has all their main accounts with Citizens and have invested the CDs at Education First in Woodville.

Council approved the engineering contract with Lesley Waxman’s office for the TDA CDBG Grant CDV21-0272. Waxman will be at April’s meeting to advise council on the progress of the meetings with the engineer. Sheffield then issued a Fair Housing Proclamation for the month of April and advised that the city has accepted the lowest bid for the main well project. Bendy mentioned that the new city truck is currently in the shop for repairs.

Council approved all minutes from the previous meeting, and with all agenda items being discussed, council adjourned for the evening. Colmesneil City Council meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.

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WISD adopts five-day calendar

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WoodvilleISD graphicBy Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE After months of consideration, meetings and surveys, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the district’s instructional calendar for 2023-24, which will feature a five-day week with nine-week grading periods.

The board made the decision at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 20. Leading up to the decision, there had been discussion about the possibility of adopting a four-day instructional week, which several districts in the region have done.

The ultimate result of the surveys, meetings and information gathered resulted in “a strong winner,” according to WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg.

The five-day calendar, which is modeled after a calendar used by New Caney ISD, has plenty of time built in for social, emotional and mental wellness of students, faculty and staff, Meysembourg said.

“We feel like it’s a very good calendar,” she said.

The nine-week grading period allows for more time for mastery of content, Meysembourg said. There will be fewer grades, so they will weigh more. Ultimately, it will allow more time to teach, with not as much testing being administered.

Facilities update given

Prior to the regular agenda portion of the meeting, two representatives from Gallagher Construction delivered a presentation on the CTE facilities rebuild project, which is part of the bond-funded district-wide renovations.

Todd Rhoades, of Gallagher, said that at present, an architect is busy drawing up the interior plans for the building. The drawings should be done, he said, by April 26, and six weeks after that, will be able to be brought to the WISD trustees for budget approval.

The plans have allowed for the moving of some of the workspaces in the building, so as to make better use of the space.

Rhoades recommended that WISD host a workshop with Gallagher representatives present, in order to share the designs with anyone who wishes to see them.

Mid-year progress reports

Another presentation delivered to the board was to demonstrate the middle-of-the-year progress reports by campus. Woodville Middle School principal Gina Kenner Greaff and Woodville High School principal Rusty Minyard presented a series of metrics to the board.

Greaff shared that the results of NWEA testing showed that the masters and meets criteria are “definitely not where we want it to be; we want those numbers to be higher,” but predicted a rise in growth and other measures.

Minyard said that his results put the campus’s teachers in groups to show growth trends, which are consistently on the rise, with one exception.

“Our teachers are doing a really good job,” he said.

The NWEA testing is used to compare students’ achievements against results nationwide.

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Updated property tax information now available

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PropertyTax Stock

Special to the Booster

WOODVILLE — New and updated property tax information has just been compiled by the Tyler County Appraisal District and is available now to assist taxpayers. This property tax information is current and covers a wide range of topics, such as taxpayer remedies, exemptions and appraisals, and has information for select groups, such as disabled veterans and persons age 65 or older.

“Whether you are a homeowner, business owner, disabled veteran or taxpayer, it’s important you know your rights concerning the property tax laws.” said David Luther, Chief Appraiser of the Tyler County Appraisal District.

“You can contact us about any property tax issues with full confidence that we will provide you the most complete, accurate and up-to-date information available to assist you.”

This includes information about the following programs.

• Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans - The law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans or surviving spouses and surviving children of deceased disabled veterans. Another partial exemption is for homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations at no cost or not more than 50 percent of the good faith estimate of the homestead’s market value to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. The exemption amount is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability.

The law also provides a 100 percent homestead exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses and surviving spouses of U.S. armed service members killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. This applies only to the portion of property used as their residence homestead.

• Property Tax Exemptions – Non-profit organizations that meet statutory requirements may seek property tax exemptions and must apply to their local appraisal district by a specific date. Businesses that receive tax abatements granted by taxing units; ship inventory out of Texas that may be eligible for the freeport exemption; store certain goods in transit in warehouses that are moved within 175 days; construct, install or acquire pollution control property; own and operate energy storage systems; convert landfill-generated gas; or store offshore drilling equipment while not in use may also be eligible for statutory exemptions.

• Rendering Taxable Property - If a business owns tangible personal property that is used to produce income, the business must file a rendition with its local appraisal district by a specified date. Personal property includes inventory and equipment used by a business. Owners do not have to render exempt property such as church property or an agriculture producer’s equipment used for farming.

• Appraisal Notices – Normally, taxpayers receive a notice of appraised value from the appropriate local appraisal district.

The city, county, school districts and other local taxing units use the appraisal district’s value to set property taxes for the coming year.

• Property Taxpayer Remedies – This Comptroller publication explains in detail how to protest a property appraisal, what issues the county appraisal review board (ARB) can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing. The publication also discusses the option to request limited binding arbitration to compel the ARB or chief appraiser to comply with a procedural requirement and the options of taking a taxpayer’s case to district court, the State Office of Administrative Hearings or binding arbitration if the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the ARB hearing.

• Homestead Exemptions – A homestead is generally defined as the home and land used as the owner’s principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. A homestead exemption reduces the appraised value of the home and, as a result, lowers property taxes. Applications are submitted to the appropriate local appraisal district.

• Productivity Appraisal – Property owners who use land for timberland production, agricultural purposes or wildlife management can be granted property tax relief on their land. They may apply to their local appraisal district for an agricultural appraisal which may result in a lower appraisal of the land based on production, versus market value.

• Residence Homestead Tax Deferral - Texas homeowners may postpone paying the currently delinquent property taxes due on the appreciating value of their homes by filing a tax deferral affidavit at their local county appraisal district.

This tax relief allows homeowners to pay the property taxes on 105 percent of the preceding year’s appraised value of their homestead, plus the taxes on any new improvements to the homestead. The deferral postpones the remaining taxes, with interest accruing at 8 percent per year but does not cancel them.

• Property Tax Deferral for Persons Age 65 or Older or Disabled or Disabled Veteran Homeowners – Texans who are age 65 or older or disabled, as defined by law, or who qualify for a disabled veteran exemption may postpone paying current and delinquent property taxes on their homes by signing a tax deferral affidavit. Once the affidavit is on file, taxes are deferred, but not cancelled, as long as the owner continues to own and live in the home. Interest continues to accrue at 5 percent per year on the unpaid taxes. You may obtain a deferral affidavit at the appraisal district.

• Notice of Availability of Electronic Communication – In appraisal districts located in counties with a population of more than 200,000 or that have authorized electronic communications, and that have implemented a system that allows such communications, chief appraisers and ARBs may communicate electronically through email or other media with property owners or their designated representatives. Written agreements are required for notices and other documents to be delivered electronically instead of mailing.

• Protesting Property Appraisal Values – Property owners who disagree with the appraisal district’s appraisal of their property for local taxes or for any other action that adversely affects them may protest their property value to the appraisal district’s ARB.

• Informal Meetings – Property can request an informal meeting with appraisal district staff to try and resolve their disputes prior to attending ARB hearings.

For more information about these programs, contact the Tyler County Appraisal District at (409) 283-3736, in person at 806 West Bluff St., or by mail at P.O. Drawer 9, Woodville, Texas 75979. Information is also available on the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/.

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Ambulance provider donates Narcan to LEOs

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE Law enforcement officers across the county now have a life-saving medicine at their disposal, thanks to a generous donation from Allegiance.

Narcan, a medicine also known as Naloxone, rapidly reverses opioid overdoses. The medicine can, according to an article on the subject, quickly restore normal breathing to a person, whose respiratory activity has slowed due to an overdose.

On Friday morning, ambulance provider Allegiance donated enough doses of Narcan, in the form of nasal sprays, which are easy to administer, to law enforcement agencies across the county. Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford; Ivanhoe Police Chief Steve Drumm and Woodville Chief of Police Mike McCulley were on hand to accept the donations.

Amber Dominy and Justin Cude of Allegiance presented the donations, which were enough to supply the patrol units of every law enforcement officer in the county with a dose.

The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Jobe said that a recent incident, where law enforcement was able to save an individual’s life with Narcan gave him the incentive to approach the local ambulance provider to see if it was possible to obtain the drug for countywide law enforcement.

Jobe said he would love to be able to get Narcan in every law enforcement vehicle but having them in patrol units allow every patrol officer to have them.

“It will wake someone up if they are overdosed on an opioid,” Jobe said. He added “They (Allegiance) saved the county a lot of money and potentially a lot of lives.”

Allegiance has also allowed for the county to trade-out the doses of the medicine if it goes past the expiration date.

“We so appreciate this donation. Providing this to law enforcement allows us another tool to be able to protect, serve and to aide,” said Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

“We’ve seen incidents here in the past where Narcan has been used by our personnel, and there’s been a shortage of it,” he added.


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Meysembourg gives bond-funded projects update

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Woodville City SealBy Mollie LaSalle
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WOODVILLE – Woodville City Council met Monday evening and got right down to business, with a full plate of items on the agenda.

Mayor Amy Bythewood got started by issuing a proclamation to the American Red Cross, designating March as American Red Cross Month. John and Annette Stagg, with the local chapter, were on hand to receive the proclamation.

Bythewood then issued a posthumous award to honor the memory of “former citizen, council member and all-around great guy Herbert Branch.”

Bythewood added “Woodville has lost a close friend; the community has lost an incomparable leader and the world has lost a genuine community servant. His unwavering commitment to the citizens of Woodville, his leadership and devotion enriched our community in immeasurable ways.”

Retired municipal city judge Judith Haney was appointed the temporary municipal judge at the meeting; Sergio Ramos was appointed to take her place, the city needed a back-up, and Haney accepted the position.

Woodville ISD superintendent Lisa Meysembourg presented an update to the district’s planned expansion to include a new elementary campus, and new addition to the CTE building at the high school.

A timeline was presented for things to move forward: February and March, design and plans competed, April and May, out of bids, May and June, break ground for new elementary and new CTE addition. Summer of 2024, CTE/VOC shops renovated, and finally, Spring of 2025, new elementary school completed.

Richard Rudel, with Alexander, Lankford, and Heirs, Inc. presented his audit report for FY 2021-22, and after reviewing pages of financials, presented the city with an “unmodified opinion”, which is the highest grade a city can receive.

Council appointed alderman Cliff Wright to be the city’s representative to the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce.

“The city owns the Chamber building, and needs a seat at the table”, per mayor Bythewood.

City Administrator Mandy Risinger spoke to council about considering the approval for extending sewer services to the west end of town, specifically the baseball fields, the airport, and the rodeo arena. These facilities currently rely on port-a-potties when there are events; expanding sewer service would improve the quality and betterment of life, and improved facilities would benefit the city. “ The main thing right now would be the impact on the waste water treatment plant”, Risinger added. She asked council to collect data and info on what the cost would be at this point in time, adding that she had gotten estimates of anywhere between $7,500-$10,000. Council agreed to look into the matter in the months to come.

Council approved a resolution approving the submission of the grant application for the Rifle Resistant Body Armor Grant to the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division, and approved No Response to the 2023 Consumer Price Index Adjustment to Municipal Telecommunications Right-of-Way Access.

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