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Art League summer show winners announced

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“Taking A Swim” by Merilyn McDonald“Taking A Swim” by Merilyn McDonald

WOODVILLE – Winners in Tyler County Art League’s Summer Show, “Lazy Days” are: Best in Show – “Taking A Swim,” oil by Merilyn McDonald; First Place – “Whale’s Greeting,” pastel by Barbara Noll; Second Place – “Down on the Farm,” pastel by Barbara Noll; Third Place – “Looking Ahead,” pastel by Lisa Richardson; and Honorable Mentions: Diamond, acrylic by Lynn Lewis and Rain’s Coming’, pastel by Barbara Noll. Judge’s Choice went to Moccasin Vibes, pastel by Lisa Richardson.

The show will be on view through Aug. 19 at the Gallery, 210 W. Bluff St.

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New hires announced for CISD

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Colmesneil ISDBy Mollie LaSalle
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COLMESNEIL – The Board of Trustees for Colmesneil ISD held their monthly meeting Monday evening and spent the majority of it tying up loose ends in advance of the new school year.

The first agenda item was the approval of the Student Code of Conduct and Student and Employee Handbook changes for 2023-24.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Davis advised the board that the Student Code of Conduct could be approved as it is written, with the proviso that is something comes up, he would be made aware of it, and any changes could be made before it goes to print. The board approved this. The only change in the Student Handbook is an addendum that has been added for the drug-testing guidelines, which the board voted on and approved at a previous meeting. There were no changes to the employee handbook except for directory changes.

Davis was pleased to announce that the district has had a productive hiring season thus far. Jr. High/High School Principal had a long list of new hires at her campus. George Taylor has come on board as the new Head Coach/Athletic Director, and there are several new faces at the junior high and high school levels.

Michael Lannon will teach English and coach, Lucas Snoe will teach History and coach, Matt Carter will teach Math and coach, Davis Shultz will teach Science and coach, and Gina Barrett will teach Biology and Science. Also new to the district are: Cathy Lott, English and Reading, Mackenzie Haley, AG and FFA advisor, Jerry Clower, Building Trades and Welding and Josh Sheffield, ISS. These educators all come highly recommended and have a combined total of nearly 100 years of experience. Smith also stated that they are meeting with a few more Math teachers for Jr. High level and are hoping to be 100% hired by June 28. She also wanted to give a shout out and Thank You to the readers of the Booster for voting CISD as Best Public School in their “Best of Tyler County” contest.

Taylor advised the board that summer workouts have started, and he was excited to announce that they started football/volleyball camp June 26, with a total of 42 kids participating, they are really excited about the punt, pass and kick drills”, he added.

Elementary Principal Shelby Tillery has two new teachers for her campus. Amy Shumake will teach sixth grade and Jamie Sanders, fifth grade. Tillery mentioned that they still have a Kindergarten position to fill. She was very excited about the progress that has been made during the summer break, “we have new flooring, new fencing around the playground, and classrooms are being moved for safety reasons”, she said. “Maintenance crews are working hard every day to get classrooms together, its looking great, like were getting a facelift, and I want to give a shoutout to Autumn Hillhouse for working her tail off this summer, and to Dena Settlocker for coming in and helping too”, she added.

Davis added “there’s nobody on the team that isn’t busting their tail, I feel like we are going to be in really good shape when we come back. I think when you look on the outside, it says something about the way it looks on the inside, as we continue to look at places that need to be polished up. It’s our responsibilities as stewards of the publics trust and money to do thing right, and y’all give us all the support we need to make these things happen. I’m very excited about who we have, and what we have coming.”

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Rare plant on verge of endangerment

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A bloom of a Navasota false foxglove. PHOTO BY SHEENA GIRNER | US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICEA bloom of a Navasota false foxglove. PHOTO BY SHEENA GIRNER | US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

By Chris Edwards
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TYLER COUNTY – Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a public comments period for a proposed rule to list the Navasota false foxglove as endangered. The plant, which stands up to three-feet-tall and blooms with purplish-pink blossoms, is known to exist in only three locations – one of which is in Tyler County, according to Michael Robinson, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“Wildflower lovers can rejoice that the Navasota false foxglove will get a recovery plan,” Robinson said in a news release. By protecting the plant as an endangered species, its habitat would be protected, and a recovery plan will be implemented.

Aside from one area of Tyler County, the plant (its scientific name Agalinis navasotensis) also grows in two spots in Grimes County, where its namesake city is located. A public notice filed last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that approximately 1.9 acres in both counties fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation.

“In addition, we announce the availability of a draft economic analysis of the proposed designation…[if finalized as proposed] it would add this species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants,” the notice read, citing the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, noted that the wildflower species is imperiled not only due to its limited distribution, but also from drought, as well as encroachment from trees that shade out the direct sunlight they require to thrive.

“Critical habitation designation identifies places important to the plant and prohibits use of federal funds for projects that would harm or destroy those habitats,” Robinson said.

In the news release, it was noted that road widening and development projects were also threats to the species, and that some of them are found on a road right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The plant was first identified in 1993, and it is similar to the Caddo false foxglove, but genetically different. The Caddo false foxglove, according to Robinson, is now presumed extinct. The Navasota false foxglove grows in shallow and sandy soils and requires annual rainfall and direct sunlight.

Comments from the public are open until August 14 and can be submitted electronically by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, which can be accessed at https://www.regulations.gov.

On the site, in the “search” box, enter FWS-R2-ES-2022-0156, which is the docket number for the rulemaking pertaining to the plant.

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Collins named new Warren HS principal

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Collins Warren ISDNew Warren High School Principal Keith Collins introduced himself to the WISD Board of Trustees at the board’s Monday evening meeting. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB

By Chris Edwards
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WARREN – In his first board meeting at the helm of Warren ISD, superintendent Rusty Minyard reported a slate of new hires across the district.

On Monday evening, at the regular meeting of the Warren ISD Board of Trustees, Minyard began by welcoming the new Warren High School principal Keith Collins. Collins, who last served Henderson ISD, will replace the long-serving Jimbo Swinney, who announced his retirement in May. Collins introduced himself to the school board, and said he grew up in Caneyhead, and said it was quite the easy decision to make; to come and serve Warren ISD. “I won’t let you down,” he told Minyard and the board members.

Minyard followed that announcement with several other new hires to key positions within the district. Troy Moore has been hired as Warren ISD’s new network administrator. Minyard called him “a very impressive young man.”

Natalee Foret is moving from her role as a third-grade teacher at Warren Elementary to the role of instructional coach for that campus, Minyard announced.

Other positions Minyard reported to the board include: Keppie Fortenberry – math coach and Lydia Thompson – instructional technology.

Another topic Minyard reported to the board on concerned a district-wide computer availability to faculty. “One of the biggest issues was teachers not having access to computers,” Minyard said.

He said a presentation is underway to present to the board in July at its next meeting, along with a budget of how to remedy the problem.

He noted that teachers did have the Chromebooks in their classrooms across the district, but they were not sufficient for long-term, high-power usage.

Proposed budget reviewed

In his report to the board, Warren ISD’s CFO Terry Ling presented the proposed budget for the 2023-24 school year.

The figures Ling drew from represented numbers gleaned from a 95% collection rate from taxpayers on a $15.1 million budget.

Ling explained that the district would receive in excess of $10 million in state aid, part of which would cover its I&S (debt service) tax levy. With tax collections in the district at the estimated percentage, that revenue was shown at $4.77 million.

The proposed M&O (Maintenance and Operations) levy is 0.9333, which Ling said is down a couple of pennies from what it was. The district’s I&S rate is proposed at 0.36 per $100 of valuation, for a combined tax rate of 1.2933 in the proposed budget.

Ling also presented the preliminary appraisals from the Tyler County Appraisal District, which allocates 12.98% of its funding for schools to Warren ISD, or $3.92 million. Warren ISD is also partially serviced by Hardin County taxpayers, with a number of students residing in Wildwood.


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Burnthorn named Spurger ISD lone finalist

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By Chris Edwards
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BurnthornBurnthornSPURGER – Spurger ISD recently announced Jeff Burnthorn as the district’s lone finalist to lead the district as superintendent.

Burnthorn will fill the position after the resignation of Morgan Wright. He will be welcomed aboard with a meet and greet on Thursday, June 29, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Spurger ISD cafeteria.

“Spurger is an amazing place with amazing people,” Burnthorn said, and added that he “can’t wait to get started” as the district’s lead administrator.

Most recently, Burnthorn served as Executive Director of Secondary and School Services with Silsbee ISD, a position he has held since 2020. In that time, he developed and administered a teacher incentive allotment, and among other achievements, supported the creation of the Silsbee Education Foundation.

Burnthorn holds a BA in history with a minor in economics from Lamar University, which he obtained in 2000. He also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and his superintendent certification in 2012 and 2022, respectively.

As an educator, he has served the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for 11 years and was named the district’s “Teacher of the Year” for 2012-13.

“I am excited about the opportunity to support our principals, teachers, and school personnel in our journey towards providing the best educational experience for every student in Spurger ISD,” Burnthorn said.

Burnthorn’s wife, Peggy Hatton Burnthorn, to whom he has been married for 28 years, is a Spurger native, and teaches algebra at Spurger ISD.

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