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Tyler County News - Breakout

Meysembourg gives project design update

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WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg presents design renderings on the upcoming bond-funded construction projects. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCBWISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg presents design renderings on the upcoming bond-funded construction projects. CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting on Monday, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees had several presentations to get through before tackling its regular agenda.

To start things off, the board recognized four of its educators for the WISD “Teachers of the Year” awards.

The faculty members who were recognized were: Mandy Livingston (Elementary campus); Kristy Toronjo (Intermediate); Krystal Haynes (Woodville High School) and Kayla Conner (District-wide).

The board also recognized the Woodville Middle School One Act Play cast and crew members for their District-winning performance, along with director Melanie Spivey.

The students who were recognized were: Makennah Fowler, honorable mention in the cast; Karson Weaver, honorable mention – cast; Sophie Hill, top performer; Kelsi Risinger, all-star cast; Rhea Williams, all-star crew; Ruby Shirley, honorable mention in the cast and Mollie Scarberry, top performer.

Following those presentations, public hearings were given to outline WISD’s annual performance report for the 2021-22 school year.

Curriculum Director Ashley Weaherford presented the performance report, which used eight sections to gauge the district’s overall performance; ranging from financial performance to accreditation. The accreditation section was absent from the 2021-22 performance report, Weatherford noted, due to Texas Education Agency (TEA) not requiring it after the pandemic height of 2020-21.

Overall, Weatherford said WISD is “making lots of progress,” despite a C rating. “We are headed in the right direction,” and noted the climb back from the pandemic regarding education variables.

Weatherford also presented on the district’s ESSER funds and noted that the available round of the grant funds will end September of 2024.

One expenditure the board greenlit for Business Manager Cody Jarrott to complete the purchase of during Monday’s meeting was the purchase of a 14-passenger activity bus.

The funds will come from the district’s third round of ESSER money, and Jarrott said the district had two quotes on two different vehicles, one that is gas-powered for $83K and another, with an Eco Boost engine, for $91K. He said a third bid is what the district is awaiting, and once received, will proceed with the purchase, after the board’s approval on Monday.

Another presentation that was delivered prior to the regular agenda came from WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg. Meysembourg presented an update on the design process for the forthcoming new Woodville Elementary School campus and the CTE building.

Meysembourg said that an initial design, rendered in January, had to be modified, due to some features that went outside the project’s budget.

The floorplan Meysembourg presented, along with renderings of the front of the new WES building, displayed a campus with high-security features, along with thoroughfares designed for more than 200 cars to be able to pick up students in the pick-up lanes.

“We are making sure logistically we have good traffic flow for cars and buses,” Meysembourg said. She added that a route planned through the middle of the plot of land sets it up for any future development, which could come “20 years later, or whenever,” she said.

One feature that was included in the new design’s floorplan is to move the district’s IT facilities to the new elementary campus, however, if the district cannot afford to do so, as an alt-bid item, it will remain housed in its current location.

Another feature Meysembourg highlighted was that one wing of the building will serve as a shelter in the event of catastrophic weather.

Meysembourg said the final plans will be approved when the district gets close to budgeting time.

Health Education Curriculum approved

One item under the list of action items on Monday’s agenda was for WISD to adopt a new health education curriculum, which includes content on sexuality.

The district’s nursing and health services director Kara Davis delivered a presentation on the recommended curriculum, “Just Say YES (Youth Equipped to Succeed)”, which she broke down, via a slide presentation, as to what type of topics would be covered, grade-by-grade.

The instruction would begin in the fourth grade, and be grade-level appropriate, she said. Other factors, she noted, is that the program, which utilizes expert guest speakers to come to campus to speak to the students, is also tailored to community appropriateness, and the upper-level classes that address sexuality in more detail emphasize marriage and long-term monogamous relationships regarding sexual activity. The cost to the district for the program, annually, is $5,400, and it was approved, with all but Josh McClure voting for it.

McClure addressed concerns he had, following Davis’s presentation, as to whether or not students might be pressured into taking the class. Davis said the students will not be allowed to take the instruction, unless permission is signed by a parent or guardian.


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Council approves Chamber building repairs, facelift

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City of Woodville Logo 300By Mollie LaSalle
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WOODVILLE – Woodville mayor Amy Bythewood signed two proclamations at Monday night’s city council meeting, one designating February as American Red Cross Month, and the other honoring the Woodville Lions club’s 75th anniversary in recognition of years of service to their community. Lions’ president Clif Flowers was in attendance, along with several club members to receive the honor.

Council approved the appointment of Rebecca Chastain as Court Clerk, and she was sworn in by Teri Bible. Fred Sullivan was approved to retain his appointment on the Allan Shivers Library & Museum Advisory Board. The agenda item that brought the most discussion was the consideration to approve a new lease agreement for the Chamber of Commerce building. The next agenda item was a discussion to approve cosmetic changes to the building.

The Chamber building is owned by the city and has been in disrepair for about 12 years. Chamber president Cathy Bennett spoke before council on the condition(s). She specifically cited a non-functioning restroom and stated the need for painting to be done; she also presented council with her vision of a mural that would be painted on the side of the building, as a showcase for the county. She stressed that she has been hustling to get as much time and materials donated for these projects; Fred Sullivan has agreed to donate the paint, and there are others who have offered their services. Bennett was passionate about her long-range plans for the Chamber building and wants to get started as soon as possible to put her ideas in motion. Council opted to table these items and opted to discuss them in executive session.

Another agenda item that generated a lot of discussion was the condition of the equipment at the city park. Bythewood appointed aldermen Mike Cabaniss and Cliff Wright as the committee members responsible for evaluating and finding solutions to upgrade equipment that is unsafe and in disrepair.

“We need a city park that we can be proud of, and that the children can play on and be safe, “ Bythewood said. There is money in the city budget to address some of the issues, but per alderman Wright, “when you start talking replacing playground equipment, you are looking at costs upwards of $100K for each apparatus, as most of the existing equipment is antiquated.”

He did mention that there was a company in Goodrich he had spoken with, and they were interested in checking out the situation at the park, with possible solutions to these upgrades.

Bythewood advised council that Judith Haney has tendered her resignation as Municipal Court Judge, effective March 13.

Bythewood then put before council to approve naming Sergio Ramos as regular court judge, effective March 10. Ramos was previously sworn-in as temporary judge in January.

Plans are to host a retirement party for Haney in March, to thank her for her years of faithful service to the city.

City Administrator Mandy Risinger is rolling out plans for the annual city wide clean-up campaign, which happens every year in March for two weeks, and reminded all that Dogwood is right around the corner, with the Festival of the Arts weekend kicking it off, March 18 and 19, Western Weekend is next, with the Lions Club Rodeo March 24 and 25, and the final weekend  is the Queen’s coronation and pageant, and the annual parade earlier that day, April 1.

Council opted to go into executive session at 6:30 p.m., and upon returning to regular session voted to approve the new lease agreement, and the proposed cosmetic changes to the Chamber of Commerce building.


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AC Day at the capitol

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Chamber Members AC2 16

Last Tuesday Feb 7, in Austin, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe were honored by the state legislature.

Along with the Tribe, who performed festive dances (photo left), elected officials and community leaders from Tyler and Polk counties traveled with the Tribe and the Tribal Council to Austin to celebrate.

Many Tyler County residents made the trip to support the tribe, including (above) Chris and Cathy Bennett and Holly Wells and Joshua Kame. Cathy Bennett and Wells represented the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce, with Bennett as president and Wells as its executive director.

Attendees also included the county’s elected officials. All attendees enjoyed, in addition to the dances and fellowship, a hearty and tasty barbecue lunch. Photos by Emily Banks-Wooten | Polk County Enterprise


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Colmesneil to receive grant for street project

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CityofColmenseilBy Mollie LaSalle
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COLMESNEIL – Colmesneil City Council held their regular monthly meeting Monday evening, and quickly tackled all agenda items. Mayor Duane Crews attended via teleconference from home, and welcomed Lesley Waxman, who was on hand to advise council that the city has been approved for the grant that they applied for in 2021, for the Pitzer Street improvement project, in the amount of $350K, with a match of $175K.

Waxman said that the city has signed contracts with the engineer, and the admins, and is waiting to get the signed contract from the state to proceed, and once that happens, the process can proceed.

Once they have all the contracts signed, Waxman’s firm will meet with the engineer, and she will facilitate a sit -down meeting with the engineer, the city of Colmesneil and her office to get the ball rolling.

Crews wanted council to acknowledge former mayor Don Baird’s 95th birthday, which is Saturday, Feb. 18.

He proposed council to get together and send him a card of thanks for his many years of service to the city of Colmesneil.

Council approved gifting the former mayor and his wife Barbara with a gift card to spend at the restaurant of their choice.

Baird was mayor of Colmesneil for 19 years before stepping down in 2021, due to ongoing health problems.

Before adjourning for the evening, council member Gene Allen proposed changing their meeting time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Councilmember Billy Andrus seconded the motion, and Crews made it official. Council will begin meeting at 6 p.m. beginning in March.

With no further business to discuss, council adjourned for the evening.

Colmesneil City Council will meet at their new time, 6 p.m., on March 14 in the conference room of the Colmesneil City Hall.

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Chester council approves new roads

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chester logoBy Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – Mayor Robert Poynter facilitated a council meeting on Monday evening Feb. 6 that approved the taking of bids and onward progress for two road improvements.

Civil Engineer Nick Hoelscher, of firm Goodwin, Lasiter, and Strong, presented the new work-ups for the Ballpark Loop and Veal Street. After explaining the revisions and with the council’s approval, Hoelscher assured the council that bidding will commence soon. The specs included improvements for 1,254 feet of Ballpark Loop and 870 feet of Veal Street.  This was exciting and the plans were approved unanimously.

The council also heard from GrantWorks’ representative Robert Davila, who gave a presentation the federal and state requirements for the Community Development Block Grant and how Chester had met all of them, which included that the contractor’s use of a minimal percentage of Section 3 workers. Those workers need to come from below economic status limits set by HUD.

At the close of the council meeting, Councilman Bryan Davis brought up a petition that has gained traction for a new Dollar Store or Dollar General. A lively discussion ensued on overall economic development ideas, including the long-sought dollar store, a restaurant or fast-food entity, and even a mini-Brookshires. Poynter mentioned he had been in touch with Tyler County Judge Milton Powers, and he asked for help in getting property valuations for contacting businesses to follow through with business solicitations.

The council approved other regular business, including the previous minutes and the financials.

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