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Tyler County News - Breakout

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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Woodville Pellets donates to Chester VFD

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Chester VFD

The Chester Volunteer Fire Department wants to thank Woodville Pellets for their donations to help the fire department purchase a new fire pump.

Chester VFD, specifically, said that they would like to give thanks to Woodville Pellets VP Jason Ansley; GM Earl Herndon and their team: Luke, Sonny, Victoria and Elizabeth.

They also said that the tour of the pellet mill was very educational, and lunch was very good.

Pictured are: Ansley; Michael James (Chester VFD); Trent Davis; Thomas Hughes; Steve Parker; Bryan Davis (Chester VFD Chief); Herndon; Jennifer Mahaffey; Keith Mahaffey; Chris Cocco and Danielle Cocco.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER MAHAFFEY

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Scott High alumni hosting dinner dance party

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Alumni STOCK

WOODVILLE – An alumni dinner dance party for Scott High School is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9, from 7 p.m. to midnight at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall, located at 1703 West Bluff.

According to event organizer Helen Malvo, everyone is welcome to attend, even if they did not graduate from Scott High, and this will be the first dance party for the alumni since the pandemic year.

There will be plenty of food, fun, music and door prizes for attendees. Anyone interested in attending can RSVP with either Beverly Hickman, who can be reached via mailing PO Box 653, Doucette, TX 75942, by email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by phone at 409-659-8875, or by contacting Malvo, at 5715 Springdale Lane, Beaumont, TX 77708; by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 409-201-2151.

The cost for admittance is $30 per person or $50 per couple. Payment is due by Dec. 1.

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